Thursday, October 25, 2012

Farrar on Luke 1:1-4

I just acquired F.W. Farrar, Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, THE GOSPEL OF LUKE, the 1905 edition. In it he observes four points of importance in this brief preface of Luke (1:1-4) that is worth noting:
·        It is the only personal introduction to any historic book in the Bible except Acts.
·        It is written in a more polished and pure Greek than the rest of the Gospels.
·        It shows that Divine Inspiration was not intended to supersede the exercise of human diligence and judgment. While Farrar does not fully explain this statement, it is my view that both work together, not against each other.
·        It gives us the aim of Luke to write a more systematic and methodical history of the events of the life of Jesus.


There is no such thing as a free lunch.  Either the giver or the receiver must pay for that lunch.  Someone always pays, even when it is offered without charge.  The same is true of your eternal salvation.  Salvation cost greatly.  The price of salvation is absolute righteousness.  God demands it.  You and I cannot pay it, for there is “None righteous, not even one” (Rom. 3:10).  We have “all sinned” and fallen short of God’s standard (Rom. 3:23).  We have nothing to pay our salvation with.  We are bankrupted, with no ability to pay for our salvation.

Yet, all is not hopeless. The GOOD NEWS is that the cost has been paid, once for all.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  God spared no cost!  He gave His Son as payment for your sin, and mine.  

The “wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).  Christ left heaven to pay the price of you owe God.  We are “not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).  God ‘made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).  The sinless one was pierced with the sins of men, so that unrighteous men can become righteous before God.

The cost of YOUR salvation has been “PAID IN FULL” so that you may be “justified [declared righteous] as a GIFT by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).  Through faith in Jesus Christ anyone can become the recipient of God’s righteousness.  It cost you nothing!  It cost God His Son!  You cannot pay for it nor achieve it (Rom. 3:28), you can only receive it as a free gift.  Will you accept the free gift?  “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts. 16:31)

Monday, October 22, 2012


The Judgment of the Gentiles

Matthew 25:31-46

After the judgment of the nation of Israel comes the judgment of the Gentiles or the nations. This is not the final judgment, as some take it. The amillennialist is forced to view it as such because of the predetermined belief in only one great end-time judgment. Careful comparison of the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:13-15) with this judgment of the nations shows that they are dissimilar. We must be careful not to confuse the two. Several facts show that the two are to be kept distinct:

First, the time of the judgments is distinct. Matthew 5:31-32 shows that the nations are judged upon His return to earth. The White Throne judgment is after the thousand year reign of Christ upon the earth (Revelation 20:11-15).

Second, the subject of the judgments is distinct. Matthew mentions no resurrection and identifies this judgment with the living nations (25:32). In Revelation 20:11 there is a resurrection and the dead are judged.

Third, the location of the judgments is distinct. The judgment of the nations takes place on the earth. This is clear because it takes place at the return of Christ. The judgment before the White Throne is not on earth, but in the throne room of God.

Fourth, the ground for the judgments is distinct. Matthew’s judgment of the nations is based upon their treatment of the nation Israel (25:40, 45). In Revelation 20:15 the ground for judgment is whether their name is in the book of life.

Clearly, by comparing the two judgments, it is evident that the two are distinct independent judgments.


Some Bible students understand this passage as a continuation of the parables and interpret it as such. Careful study of the passage, however, shows that this is not the case. The language takes us back to the literal event of the second coming of Christ (24:31). McNeile is correct when he notes that “the only parabolic features” are “the simile of the sheep and the goats in v. 32, and its metaphorical use in v. 33.”[1]


Like the nation Israel, the Gentile nations must be judged to determine who from among them will enter the earthly Kingdom. The time of this judgment is at the return of Christ to set up His thousand year Kingdom on earth. The Old Testament confirms these words of Jesus. The prophet Joel (3:1-3) declares that this judgment will take place at the valley of Jehoshaphat. The time of the judgment is the same as the restoring of the true remnant of Israel to the land. The judgment of the nations is the complement to the restoration of Israel.


The place of judgment is the land of Israel; however, the exact location is a matter of debate. Joel identifies it as happening in the valley of Jehosphaphat. The location of this valley cannot easily be identified. There was not such valley by this name near Jerusalem in ancient times.

Some scholars hold to a symbolic view. They maintain that the reference to the valley of Jehosphaphat is a “theological symbol rather than a topographical identification.”[2] Jehoshaphat means Jehovah judges. Thus, it is not an actual location, but the event itself that is described by the valley. Wherever the Lord judges it could be the valley of Jehosphaphat. This view cannot be automatically dismissed.

Others hold to a 2 Chronicles 20:26 view. This passage names the valley of Berachah as the place where Jehosphaphat won a great battle, defeating the Moabites and Ammonites. This view holds that the valley of Berachah will be the valley of Jehosphaphat. Most dismiss this view because of the distance from Jerusalem. The context of Joel places the valley near Jerusalem.

Others, wanting a location near Jerusalem, hold to a valley of Kidron view. The main support for this view is that the valley is right outside Jerusalem.

Another possible view is that of a future valley. J. Dwight Pentecost presents this view and believes that there will be a new valley outside Jerusalem at the time. He bases this upon Zechariah 14:4. He argues:
“A valley which is not in existence today shall come into being at the time of the Second Advent. Since the name Jehosphaphat means “Jehovah judges,” it may be that the newly opened valley outside Jerusalem will bear that name because of the momentous events to transpire there.”[3]
This view has merit and deserves strong consideration in the light of prophetic Scripture.


Jesus describes the judgment using the image of sheep and goats. The sheep and goats comprise “all nations.” The two groups will be separated, the sheep on the right and the goats on the left. The sheep inherit the Kingdom (25:34). The goats will be cast into “eternal fire” (25:41). In this judgment we see the fulfillment of Genesis 12:3. Notice that it is the “king” who makes this judgment. This is Christ, the One who will reign for 1000 years. The reigning One will also be the judging One.

The description of the judgment brings up some interesting questions:
First, does this include only the living nations, and/or those nations that are no longer in existence? The context suggests only the nations that exist at the time of Christ’s coming will pass through this judgment. There is nothing in the context to suggest a resurrection or either individuals or nations. The word nation never refers to the dead. National judgment will be poured out upon those who are in existence at the time.

Second, is the judgment one of nations as a whole, or individuals within nations? C.F. Baker addresses this stating:
“There is no doubt that nations which have persecuted the Lord’s brethren in the flesh will be destroyed and not permitted to exist as a part of the millennial earth. Does this mean that everyone in each of these goat nations will be eternally lost? No for Scripture makes it plain that every man will be judged according to his own works. From Rev. 7:9 it appears that a great multitude out of every nation will be saved at the end of the Tribulation to enter into the Kingdom.”[4]

It is the individuals within nations that are classified. Each nation will have its sheep and goats. The sheep of that nation will enter into the blessing of the millennial Kingdom.


The basis of this judgment is repeated twice within the text. It is clearly the treatment of “the least of these my brethren” (25:40, 45). Who is meant by this phrase? The majority of liberal scholarship holds that this refers to the brotherhood of mankind. It is whoever is hungry or needy. That compassion for our fellow man will be the standard by which we are judged. We do not want to be accused of downplaying the need for compassion for our fellow man, but it is safe to say from the context this is not what is meant by the phrase. Others restrict the brethren to the apostles and Christian missionaries. This is closer to what Jesus meant, but still misses the mark.

Christ uses the term brethren on several occasions. In Matthew 12:48-50 He clearly defines who his brethren are. On that occasion he points to his disciples and declares them, and “whosoever shall do the will of my father which is in heaven” are my brethren. The emphasis is on the spiritual brotherhood, rather than the physical. Based upon this and Isaiah 66:19-22, the term clearly applies to believing Israel, the remnant. It is the treatment of God’s elect during the tribulation that will be the determining factor in this judgment.

Judgment will fulfill the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3. Notice Jesus uses the same terms as the Abrahamic covenant in the words “blessed” (25:34) and “cursed” (25:41). This judgment is tied to and really based upon the Abrahamic covenant. God’s promise to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel will be the determining factor in this judgment.

This seemingly presents a problem. It appears that the Gentiles will be saved or lost on the basis of their works alone. Giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, and clothes to the needy, seems to be the basis for granting entrance into the earthly kingdom. Can this be? A close examination will not support this conclusion.

First, this view would contradict the plain teaching of Scripture that faith is necessary for salvation. Nowhere does Scripture teach that works alone will produce salvation. Salvation is always by faith. Hebrews 11:6 states that “without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto Him (God).” Faith will be necessary to enter the Kingdom of God. In addition Jesus teaches that the “new birth” is necessary to enter the Kingdom (John 3:3, 7). These works should not be looked upon as something separate from faith, but as a result of faith (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Second, those who did such actions are called “righteous” (25:37). This indicates not only their character, but their condition. It is a righteousness found by faith in the gospel, which in turn, enables them to live a righteous life. It is not works that makes them righteous; rather these works are evidence of their righteousness. Being righteous is evidence they have accepted the gospel of the Kingdom.

The close relationship between faith and works during the Tribulation is seen in the conditions of the time. The persecution will be so great during that time that no one without faith will dare to help members of believing Israel. The Satanic hatred of Israel will be so great that anyone who helps her will draw the same wrath upon themselves. To feed, clothe, or visit a member of the remnant during such a time will be an act of faith. Acceptance of the messenger will show an acceptance of the message. It is safe to conclude that those Gentiles are not judged and admitted solely on their works;
they will enter the kingdom because their works demonstrate their faith.


The results of this judgment are clear. The “sheep” will enter into Kingdom blessings and eternal life (25:34, 46). They are called “blessed.”  The word is identified as a perfect particle in the Greek, indicating the act of blessing occurred in the past, but the effects continue into the present.[5] Those who are already heirs of the Kingdom by right, now inherit it in fact. They enter the Millennial Kingdom. This fulfills the prophecies of Daniel 7:14, Isaiah 55:5, and Micah 4:2.

The “goats” are cursed and cast into the lake of fire (25:41, 46). They received this judgment because of their lack of faith as seen in their lack of works and charity toward believing Israel. They rejected the messengers and the message. According to Matthew 25:46 the results are eternal. Evidently, the living Gentiles who are cast into the lake of fire will not be judged again. They will not appear before the White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20. They, like the beast and false prophet, are thrown into the lake of fire before the White Throne Judgment and will stay there eternally.

The judgment will close the tribulation. A glorious new age will dawn, one which will last a thousand years, Christ will rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Man will fulfill his original destiny here on earth (Genesis 1:26; Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25). God is faithful! He will fulfill His purpose, plans, and word.

It is vital that we take time to understand an important principle: Judgment does not determine destiny. Destiny is determined before judgment by decisions made before one stands in judgment. The purpose of judgment is to bring to light why one is going to his destiny. The unbeliever “is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Your destiny depends on your decision whether or not to exercise faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ (John 3:16-18; Acts 16:31; Romans 3:23-25, 28; 4:5; 6:23; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). Have you made that decision?  

[1]  A.H. McNeile, MATTHEW, 368.
[3]  J. Dwight Pentecost, THINGS TO COME, 417.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Olivet Discourse #16


Matthew 25:14-30

This is the last parable that the Lord gave on the mount. It is similar to the one in Luke 19:11-27 and often confused with it. The parable in Luke is known as the parable of the Pounds. The two are different.  The differences are clear, as Baker points out:

“Comparing the parables, in one there are three servants and in the other ten; and instead of giving five, two, and one talent, the noblemen gave one point to each ten. In Matthew the one who received five talents doubled the money by trading, as did the one who was given two, but the one who received one talent hid it in the ground. In Luke one man gained ten pounds and another five, and another hid his pound in a napkin.”[1]

The two are not the same, but are “independent stories, based on a common theme and spoken on different occasions.”[2]

The parable of the virgins and the parable of the talents are linked in the text through verse 13. The conjunction “for” (v. 14) makes the link. Verse 13 is the key to the meaning of the parable. The parable reveals the same truth as the preceding parable, but in a different form.


A talent in contemporary language refers to a special or outstanding ability of people to do certain functions such as a talent for music, art, or sports. This is not the meaning of the word in this discourse. The Greek word is “talanton” and was originally a balance, a measure of weight. Unger notes that it is the “larger weight among the Hebrews, being used for metals, whether gold, silver, lead, bronze, or iron.”[3] It came to be a unit of money. By the time of Christ it was a great sum of money.

To put its value in perspective, we are told that the Roman-Attic talent comprised 6,000 denarii or drachms.[4] According to Matthew 20, one “denarion” was the wage for a laborer in the vineyard for one day. If a laborer in the vineyard worked every day of the year it would take that person 16 years to earn one talent. That is no small amount of money by any standard. However, the point of the parable is not the amount involved, rather, what was done with the talent received.


The parable has a very natural and simple outline.

First, the master and the distribution given to his servants (Matthew 25:14-15). The master is rich and is leaving for some time. Upon leaving he gives his servants some talents. To one he gave five, another two, and the third he gave one.

Second, the use made of the talents (25:16-18). Upon receiving the money, we see that two of the servants put their talents to work. They acted wisely knowing the master would hold them accountable for what he had given them. In contrast, one servant dug a hole and hid the master’s talent. Knowing he would be accountable, he was afraid to use it, for fear he would lose it.

Third, the accounting for the use of the talents (25:19-27). The accounting was upon the return of the master. The master was gone for some time, enabling and expecting the servants to produce gain.. Two of the servants produced gain; the other lacked gain. He had been unfaithful to the trust placed in him. The parable turns now from being prepared to giving an account. The point now centers upon accountable for the service.

The important principle seen is the relation between accountable and faithfulness. Those who received a reward did so because they were good and faithful servants, not because of how much they had gained. Because of their faithfulness with putting their talent to work, not because of the gain they made. Faithfulness is the key to rewards (2 Corinthians 4:2).

The one-talent servant is seen as wicked and slothful because of his unfaithfulness. He is judged not because there was no gain, but because he did not try to be faithful. He was slothful in his responsibility, which is evident by his actions. Like many being caught short when accountability comes, he blames the master.  The master is hard and selfish! He implies that the master is not honest (25:24-25). In reality he was not honest with himself. He was unfaithful to the task and responsibility given to him. In fact, he proved not to be a servant at all.


Faithfulness and service goes hand and hand. To be prepared, a servant must be faithful and serve the Master. A major element of faithfulness is obedience. The unfaithful servant is condemned and thrown out from the master’s household (25:26-30). Both parables of the ten virgins and the talents illustrate the truth that Israel will be judged at the second coming of Christ. This judgment will determine who enters the kingdom from heaven and who will be excluded from that kingdom. The parable shows both the rewards for faithfulness and the judgment for unfaithfulness that await those who are anticipating Messiah’s coming.

[1]  C.F. Baker, UNDERSTANDING THE GOSPELS, 229-230.
[2]  R.V.G. Tasker, MATTHEW, 238.
[3]  Merrill F. Unger, “Metrology,” UNGER’S BIBLE DICTIONARY, 722.
[4]  W.E. Vine, EXPOSITOR’S DICTIONARY, 4:108.

Friday, October 12, 2012



Matthew 25:1-30

At this point Mark and Luke have ended their version of the discourse, but Matthew continues and gives the parable of the ten virgins. This is appropriate for two reasons: First, of the three Gospel writers, Matthew is the only eyewitness and original listener of the discourse. Second, Matthew is writing to the Jews, and the discourse has particular relevance to the nation of Israel. Israel, not the church, is the one who will go through the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), otherwise known as the tribulation. Jeremiah specifically says it is a tribulation “for” (Hebrew: sarah) Jacob, and applies directly to national Israel.

Matthew at this point returns to the time element. He beings with the word “then” (Matthew 25:1). It denotes a continuation of the chronology that was discontinued in Matthew 24:31, although he continues to teach in the form of parables. These parables bring us a new application about the second coming of Christ. The preceding parables centered on the unexpectedness of Christ’s coming and the need for readiness by those who believe. Now Matthew centers upon the reason for readiness: judgment. The idea of judgment is the keynote of this whole chapter. First, is the judgment of Israel. This judgment is taught and illustrated in the first two parables. J. Dwight Pentecost captures the essence of this event:
“Christ now resumed His revelation of the chronology of prophetic events for Israel. He taught that following His return (Matthew 24:30) and the regathering of the nation Israel to their land (v. 31), the nation would be brought under judgment (25:1-30).”[1]

Afterward, Matthew deals with the judgment of the Gentiles (25:31-46), the final event preceding the Millennial kingdom.


The parable is that of ten virgins, five who are wise; five foolish. The wise took extra oil for the lamps; the foolish did not bring any reserve. They left to meet the bridegroom, but he was delayed. They waited, but fell asleep. Awakened by the announcement of his coming, the five foolish realized they were out of oil. They tried to borrow some, but could not, they left to buy oil. When the five foolish returned and tried to get in, the Lord replied he did not know them and refused to open the door so they could enter.

The parable comes from the marriage custom of the time in the Middle East. There were three states of the wedding. First, the parents agreed upon the marriage of their children and the dowry would be paid. Second, the bridegroom accompanied by his friends would go to the bride’s house to claim her as his own. Third, on the return home, friends would join the wedding party to participate in the marriage feast that was held at the bridegroom’s home. This custom forms the background of the parable.


A number of interpretations exist concerning the ten virgins. Albright and Mann say that the parable is “capable of almost infinite variation in interpretation.”[2] A major factor for this is that “almost every detail of the parable lends itself to allegorical treatment.”[3] However, one should remember that a parable’s purpose is to provide one chief point of comparison. To make an important point or allegorical point of every detail may well destroy the original intended purpose.

Dispensational interpretations can be classified into two basic headings: Those who see the meaning in the church of this dispensation; others see it representing Israel.

The Church View.

This view holds that the virgins represent the religious people in the church of this dispensation. This is held by Gaebelein and presented in his commentary. He says this parable “must be looked upon as referring first all to the beginning of this Christian age.”[4] The wise virgins are the true believers, and the foolish are only professing Christians, unsaved but religious people in the church. The major reason for this view is the reference to oil. Oil is a common representation for the Holy Spirit. Since the church is indwelt with the Holy Spirit, it is reasoned that this parable must be speaking to the church.

This view has two major problems:
  • First, this view separates the parable from the context of the discourse. The disciples hearing this parable would not have put it in the context of the church. At the time they knew nothing about the Church, the Body of Christ. It was still a mystery (cf. Eph. 3:1-10). The context is clearly the second coming of Christ, not the rapture of the church. There is no reason to separate it from the context of the second coming. We must keep the interpretation within the correct context.
  • Second, the word “then” refers not to the church, but the last day events of Israel and the kingdom. Tasker notes:
“although the first word in verse 1, “then” (tote), is often in this Gospel merely a transitional particle…it would seem that it should here be construed in a temporal sense, the reference being to the day that has played such a large part in the previous section. So Knox rightly renders, ‘When that day comes, the kingdom of heaven will be like….’ ”[5]

The subject is the kingdom of heaven. That phrase refers to the earthly kingdom of Christ, not the Church, the body of Christ.
  • Third, this parable could not picture the rapture of the church. The rapture of the church was still a mystery that had not yet been revealed. The church of this present dispensation had not been revealed, let alone its rapture to the heavenly kingdom. Besides if this were a picture of the rapture, only the wise virgins would go out to meet the Bridegroom, for only the saved go to meet Christ. No unsaved meet Him at the rapture. This picture is inconsistent with the rapture, but not the second coming. At the second coming both the wise and unwise (saved and unsaved) meet the Lord; the saved (wise) go into the kingdom.
  • Fourth, the answer given to the unwise virgins about not knowing them is very similar to the statement in Matthew 7:21-23. The context there is clearly that of entering the earthly kingdom of Christ. Those who only make lip service to faith, even though they did miracles in His name, are denied entrance, because they did not have a relationship with Christ (“I never knew you”). That is also the context and the event spoken of here in the parable.

The Israel View.

The Israel view is consistent with the context of the parable. This view contends that the virgins represent the nation Israel at the time of the second coming of Christ. The five wise virgins are true believers; the five foolish are professors, but not true believers. This is verified by the following facts:
  • First, it continues the same theme as the preparedness for the Lord’s return. We have here the same application as given earlier—“Watch, therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13 cf. 24:36). The end time motif and the context are the same as in the preceding parables and discourse.
  • Second, the phrase “kingdom of heaven” never refers to the church. It is used concerning the earthly kingdom of Christ. The words “will be like unto” is a future passive form of the verb “to compare,” meaning comparable. The coming of Christ to set up His kingdom on earth is associated with the ten virgins.
  • Third, the parable illustrates the truth that after the second coming and regathering of His people, God will judge Israel to see who will enter His kingdom. The wise (saved) will enter, the unwise (unsaved) of Israel will not enter; the door will be shut.

The truth of this event is predicted by the prophet Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 20:33-39 we read of God restoring Israel to the land. Then God will cause the nation to “pass under the rod” of judgment. Unbelieving Israel will not enter the land for the Kingdom blessing (20:38). Believing Israel will enter the land and the kingdom blessing (20:40-44). This prophecy awaits fulfillment after the tribulation.

Therefore, in this parable the theme of being prepared for Christ’s return continues, but a new element is added. The new development is the reason for being prepared; judgment. Those who are not prepared will not enter. This parable teaches that there will be a judgment of those at the second coming who will not be prepared.


There are three distinct lessons from this parable concerning the second coming of Christ:
  • First, the necessity of being prepared for the coming of the Bridegroom.
  • Second, this preparedness cannot be borrowed. It is each individual’s responsibility to be prepared for His coming.
  • Third, being unprepared brings banishment from the kingdom. The door was shut!

[1]  J. Dwight Pentecost, THE WORDS AND WORKS OF JESUS CHRIST, 407.
[2]  W.F. Albright, C.S. Mann, MATTHEW, 301.
[4]  A.C. Gaebelein, THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, 528.
[5]  R.V.G. Tasker, MATTHEW, 231.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2 Year Anniversary

This month marks the second year for the BEREAN ADVOCATE blog. Our high months for hits were March and May. Our low month was February. The increase in hits almost doubled this year.

The top hits were (in order)

  1. The Importance of the Gospel of Matthew (First last year also)
  2. Paul’s Prayer Request for Believers
  3. Expository Preaching
  4. Thoughts on Literal Interpretation
  5. Gospel of John & the Synoptics
The Matthew post still remains the most popular. The others are new post this year.
The top hits by country

  1. United States (over 50 percent of the hits)
  2. Russia
  3. Philippines (new)
  4. Canada
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Mexico
  7. Germany
  8. South Africa
  9. Australia
  10. Tanzania (new)
As one can see, the US is number one by a huge lead as expected. Russia and Canada was tied last year, but Russia has now become the clear holder of second place. Canada has dropped to 4th, with the Philippines came out of nowhere to take third. They were not in the top ten last year. Another country that jumped into the top ten was Tanzania.

THANKS to all who take time to read this blog. It is an honor to have you read it. We thank God for you.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Olivet Discourse #15


Matthew 24:42-51 / Mark 13:34-37

Jesus exhorts “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour you Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:42). This is the chief exhortation of a parenthetical section of parables. It is the result of the preceding parable (indicated by the word “therefore”), and an incentive or bridge for the parables that illustrate the need for such watchfulness. They are to watch because the exact time of His coming is unknown.

Based upon the exhortation to watch, Christ proceeds to give three parables. The words “but know this” form the connection between verse 43 and verse 42. Verse 42 is the keynote. Christ now couples suddenness with the theme of preparedness, but centers his thoughts on preparedness. They are to be on the alert. Hendricksen notes that “because the tense used in the original ‘Be ready at all times’ interprets the sense of the original.”[1] The following parables illustrate and explain what it means to be ready. In these parables we see that readiness is not a state of non-activity, but a state of action.


This first parable deals with a house owner who must watch for a burglar. He is to be prepared because he does not know when the burglar is coming, for if he knew that he would only be prepared at the time of his coming. A burglar will strike suddenly, without notice, thus the owner must be prepared. The point is obvious. The comparison of the Lord’s return to that of a burglar in the night is a common illustration in Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 3:3, 16:15). In these passages the idea of unexpectedness and the danger of unpreparedness for the coming event is a common thread. “Therefore be ye also ready” (Matthew 24:44) is again emphasized. It is in the present tense which denotes a continual readiness. They are to be on a twenty-four hour alert, continually ready for His coming.

The reason is “for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44).  It indicates the feature of surprise of the event. It happens when you least expect it. Even those who are watching will be surprised, but they are prepared. This exhortation is for those tribulation saints alive at this coming. However, there is application to all believers to be prepared to meet the Lord.

THE TWO SERVANTS---Matthew 24:45-51

The second parable deals with two servants (Matthew 24:45-51). It was common in those days for wealthy people to put their household in charge of capable servants. These servants/slaves would be accountable to the owner for how they ran the household. The owner could come at anytime for an accounting, for which they must be prepared. In this parable we find two servants who were given such a responsibility while the owner is away for a time. One servant is faithful. Reward comes to this one. He is found reliable and accountable to the trust placed in him. He is not demoralized by delay, keeping things in the state of readiness for the master’s return. Such a servant is not only blessed, but promoted and rewarded (Matthew 24:47).

On the other hand, there is the “evil servant” (Matthew 24:48). He is not ready for the master’s return. He is characterized as:

  • Not watchful. William Barclay has said, “To live without watchfulness invites disaster.”[2] This is certainly true of this servant.
  • He exhibits the wrong attitude. His attitude is unconcern, carelessness, and irresponsibility. He does not take seriously the idea of accountability. He expresses “it’s not mine why should I care” attitude.
  • He is outwardly cruel. This is displayed by his actions of carousing and cruelty toward other servants of his master. Carelessness leads to cruelty in the use of people and resources.
When the Master returns, the evil servant is not ready and totally unprepared. The result is punishment. Those who are like this servant at the return of the Lord will likewise be punished. The punishment described (“weeping and gnashing of teeth”) “refers to the retribution of those who are judged before the millennial kingdom is established (Matthew 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 25:30).”[3]

THE PORTER—Mark 13:34-37.

Mark gives a different parable at this point in the discourse. His parable is that of a doorkeeper or porter. In this parable, the master of the house gives the doorman instruction to be alert in his absence. The reason is twofold:

  • “For ye know not when the master of the house cometh” (Mark 13:35). Again in this we see the theme of suddenness and uncertainty of the master’s return.
  • Upon the return of the Master, he does not want to find the doorman “sleeping” (Mark 13:36). Sleeping is the opposite of alertness and denotes laxity. Such laxity in the army will get you shot. He is not to be derelict in his duty, nor are we. The servant who is to be found faithful must be found alert and eagerly watching for the return of the master.
The purpose of these parables is the same. They act as warning to the ones who will be living during that time of the second coming of Christ. As Pentecost observes: “The individuals living through that period will not know when during the process of the seven years of the Tribulation actually commenced. Thus while they will know they are living in the last days and that the coming of Christ is near, they will not be able to determine the actual day or the hour. In the light of the uncertainty of the actual time of Christ coming, those who will be expecting Him momentarily should be on guard and alert.”[4]

However, we who live today in the dispensation of grace are not off the hook for being on our guard and being prepared. The rapture of the church also requires us to expect Him momentarily to meet us in the air. We need to be prepared, just as will the tribulation saints.

[1] William Hendricksen , NTC: THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, 871,
[2]  William Barclay, THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, 2:317
[3]  Standley Toussaint, BEHOLD THE KING, 282.
[4]  J. Dwight Pentecost, THE PARABLES OF JESUS, 147-148.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Paul at Ephesus

Paul’s ministry at Ephesus has six distinctive features:

1. It is the most prolonged stay in one location of any of Paul’s cities, approximately three years (Eph. 19:8, 10, 22; cf. 20:31).

2. Public ministry of Paul is centered and conducted mainly in the hall of Tyrannus rather than the synagogue (Eph. 19:9).

3. It reveals Paul’s miracles more than in any other location (Eph. 19:11-12).

4. It reveals the reality and power of occultism in the pagan world of the first century (Eph. 19:19). “Paul has a face-to-face encounter with Greco-Roman religion.”[1]

5. He is exposed to his greatest dangers in Ephesus (1 Cor. 15:32; 2 Cor. 1:8-10).

6. His pastoral care grows stronger (Eph. 20:20, 31)  

[1]  Bock, 595.