Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
We have seen that the section of the prophecy of the kingdom concerning the church covers two aspects: the aspect of being watchful and ready and the aspect of being faithful and prudent. Watchfulness and readiness are related to our Christian life. We all need to be watchful and ready for the Lord’s coming. However, a proper Christian should take care not only of the aspect of life, but also of the aspect of service. For service, we need faithfulness and prudence. Thus, we need to be faithful toward the Lord and prudent toward our fellow believers. As we have seen, in chapter twenty-four both aspects are covered. In life we need to be watchful and ready, and in service we need to be faithful and prudent.
Although both these aspects are covered in chapter twenty-four, they are not covered fully. Thus, in chapter twenty-five there is the need of a complementary word for each aspect covered in chapter twenty-four. Matthew 25:1-30 completes the section in chapter twenty-four concerning the believers. The parable of the virgins (25:1-13) completes the matter of watchfulness and readiness. How to watch and be ready is revealed in the parable of the virgins. Matthew 25:13, the last verse of the parable of the virgins, says, “Watch therefore, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” This word, very similar to 24:42, indicates that 25:1-13 is a completion to 24:40-44 concerning watchfulness for rapture.
Matthew 24:32-44 is a section on watchfulness and readiness. Matthew 25:1-13 is also a section on watchfulness and readiness, the completion of the foregoing section. In the same principle, both 24:45-51 and 25:14-30 are sections on faithfulness and prudence. Matthew 25:30, which speaks of casting the useless slave into outer darkness, is parallel to 24:51. This indicates that 25:14-30 is a completion to 24:45-51, which concerns faithfulness for the Lord’s work. Matthew 24:45-51 deals with the slave’s unfaithfulness in fulfilling the Lord’s commission. Matthew 25:14-30 is still needed to deal with the slave’s unfaithfulness in using the Lord’s talent. Although 24:45-51 tells us to be faithful and prudent, it does not show us how to be faithful and prudent. This is revealed in the parable of the talents.
The way to be watchful is through the infilling of the Holy Spirit; it is by having the extra portion of oil. By ourselves we can be neither watchful nor ready. The only way to have the extra portion of oil is by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. This is the way for us to be watchful and ready. Likewise, the way to be faithful and prudent in the Lord’s service is through the spiritual gifts. Without the spiritual gifts, we do not have the ability to be faithful or prudent. Our faithfulness and prudence depend upon the gifts we have received of the Lord. Therefore, in chapter twenty-five we have both the infilling of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. The Spirit affords us the infilling for life and also the gifts for service. It all depends upon the Spirit. How can we be watchful? Only by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. And how can we be faithful? Only by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
One indication that the parables in chapter twenty-five are a completion of 24:32-51 is found in the numbers two and ten. Matthew 25:1 says, “Then shall the kingdom of the heavens be likened to ten virgins.” Ten is the major part of twelve (Gen. 42:3-4; 1 Kings 11:30-31; Matt. 20:24). Hence, these ten virgins represent the majority of the believers, who will have died before the Lord’s coming. The two men or two women in 24:40-41 represent the remaining believers, who will be alive until the Lord’s coming.
The two men in the field or the two women grinding at the mill represent the living believers. However, when the Lord’s parousia comes, the majority of the believers will have died. In chapter twenty-four we have the rapture of the living believers, but this chapter says nothing about the dead saints. This is covered by the parable of the virgins in 25:1-13. The fact that the virgins “became drowsy and slept” (v. 5) indicates that they died. In the eyes of the Lord, when a saint dies, he goes to sleep. Therefore, the ten virgins, who all fell asleep, represent the dead saints.
In the Bible God’s people are of the number twelve, for this number represents the whole body of God’s people. In the Bible one way the number twelve is composed is of ten plus two. Ten denotes the majority of twelve, and two signifies the remainder. For example, two of the twelve apostles asked the Lord to let them sit on His right hand and on His left hand, whereas the other ten were indignant. In the Old Testament ten tribes rebelled against the house of David, whereas only two remained faithful. The principle is the same here in chapters twenty-four and twenty-five. In chapter twenty-four we have the two and in chapter twenty-five we have the ten. When the ten and the two are put together, we have the whole body of believers. At the time of the Lord’s coming, the majority of the believers will have died. Only a small number, the remainder represented by the two men in the field or the two women grinding, will be alive. Therefore, 25:1-13 is the completion of 24:40-41.
Another indication that chapter twenty-five is the completion of chapter twenty-four is found in the fact that one of the men and one of the women were taken and the other man and other woman were left. Why was one taken and the other left? The answer is not found in chapter twenty-four, but in chapter twenty-five. The reason one was taken was that he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and the reason the one was left was that he lacked the extra portion of oil. Let us now consider the parable of the virgins, the parable for watchfulness, verse by verse.
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