Morris, Leon. The Gospel according to Matthew. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992.
“Matthew 25” pp. 619-641.
Matthew chapter 25 consists of three parables: one about ten girls, one of talents, and one featuring sheep and goats in a final judgment. Morris notes that there is a strong element of allegory in the parable of the ten girls, but that it can still be considered a parable (Morris 1992, 619). “Not much is known of the actual wedding ceremony in first-century Palestine” (Morris 1992, 621). We simply have to fill in some details which are not mentioned, presumably because “everyone” knew what happened. In this wedding there was apparently a torchlight procession. Some of the people involved were not prepared (Morris 1992, 621). The girls slept while waiting for the procession. This is not condemned (Morris 1992, 622). Those who could not fuel and light their torches were refused oil by those who were prepared (Morris 1992, 623). The unprepared girls were not admitted to the festivities. They had not been ready (Morris 1992, 625). Jesus applies the parable directly to being ready for his coming.
The parable of the talents in 25:1430 describes servants who were entrusted with money to manage. Morris thinks this is a very different situation than that in Luke 19:11-27 (Morris 1992, 626). Actual measurement of a talent and its value at that time in Palestine is a challenge, especially since it could have been copper, silver, or gold (Morris 1992, 627). We do know the people were given different amounts to manage and that all were in charge of a substantial asset. While two of the servants doubled their master’s money, one simply secured it (Morris 1992, 628). While those who were successful in investment were rewarded, the one who hid the assets is called wicked and lazy and is punished (Morris 1992, 631).
The final parable in Matthew 25 is less like a parable than the others, and Jesus does not introduce it as a parable (Morris 1992, 633). Yet it does certainly use some symbolic language. The picture is of the last judgment. In this narrative the judgment is based on works. Grace is not an element (Morris 1992, 634). We do recall that in the overall worldview of Scripture grace is central. The works may be seen as evidence of grace. Separation of sheep and goats was a common practice for several reasons, including tolerance to cold conditions at night (Morris 1992, 636). The people in the story are sorted by the evidence their lives show of God’s work (Morris 1992, 637). Those who do not show evidence are bound for destruction (Morris 1992, 640).
Morris observes that from this point Matthew does not have Jesus teach his disciples any more. He goes straight to the death of Jesus. Matthew likely wanted to emphasize the importance of a daily life reflecting Jesus’ grace.