Matthew 25:1-13 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins
Spencer W. Kimball
"I believe that the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ and not the rank and file of the world. All of the virgins, wise and foolish, had accepted the invitation to the wedding supper; they had knowledge of the program and had been warned of the important day to come. They were not the gentiles or the heathens or the pagans, nor were they necessarily corrupt and reprobate, but they were knowing people who were foolishly unprepared for the vital happenings that were to affect their eternal lives.
"They had the saving, exalting gospel, but it had not been made the center of their lives. They knew the way but gave only a small measure of loyalty and devotion. I ask you: What value is a car without an engine, a cup without water, a table without food, a lamp without oil?
"Rushing for their lamps to light their way through the blackness, half of them found them empty. They had cheated themselves. They were fools, these five unprepared virgins. Apparently, the bridegroom had tarried for reasons that were sufficient and good. Time had passed, and he had not come. They had heard of his coming for so long, so many times, that the statement seemingly became meaningless to them. Would he ever come? So long had it been since they began expecting him that they were rationalizing that he would never appear. Perhaps it was a myth.
"Hundreds of thousands of us today are in this position. Confidence has been dulled and patience worn thin. It is so hard to wait and be prepared always. But we cannot allow ourselves to slumber. The Lord has given us this parable as a special warning." (Faith Precedes the Miracle, 252-253.)
"The parable of the ten virgins is intended to represent the second coming of the Son of Man, the coming of the Bridegroom to meet the bride, the Church, the Lamb's wife, in the last days; and I expect that the Savior was about right when he said, in reference to the members of the Church, that five of them were wise and five were foolish; for when the Lord of heaven comes in power and great glory to reward every man according to the deeds done in the body, if he finds one-half of those professing to be members of his Church prepared for salvation, it will be as many as can be expected, judging by the course that many are pursuing." (12 September 1875, Journal of Discourses, 18:110.)
Matthew 25:4 the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps
Spencer W. Kimball
"In the parable, oil can be purchased at the market. In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living. Attendance at sacrament meetings adds oil to our lamps, drop by drop over the years. Fasting, family prayer, home teaching, control of bodily appetites, preaching the gospel, studying the scriptures-each act of dedication and obedience is a drop added to our store. Deeds of kindness, payment of offerings and tithes, chaste thoughts and actions, marriage in the covenant for eternity-these, too, contribute importantly to the oil with which we can at midnight refuel our exhausted lamps." (Faith Precedes the Miracle, 256)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Yet, we live in a time in which far too many Church members are dimming rather than trimming their lamps. Trimming, by the way, means 'to prepare for efficient burning,' a state of readiness. Among the most sad words in all of scripture are those of the foolish virgins who lamented, 'Our lamps are going out.' (Matthew 25:8, alternate rendering of Greek.) Today, the lamps of some Church members, alas, 'are going out' needlessly." (We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ, 154)
Matthew 25:6 at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him
As latter-day saints, we await the Second Coming with great anticipation. We wonder, will we be told when to go out to meet the Bridegroom? Who will give us this important midnight message? We understand only after reading the word of the Lord. The midnight message has already been given to us, it is currently being given many around the world, and must yet be carried to many more before the Lord comes again:
Matthew 25:8-9 the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of our oil; for our lamps are gone out
"For years I wrestled with the meaning of the parable of the ten virgins, as recorded in "Matthew 25. The scene seemed so wrong, the message so counter to all that the Master had taught. Why couldn't the wise virgins just share their oil? If each one just contributed a little, I reasoned, perhaps each one, or at least some, of the 'foolish' ones could make it to the wedding to meet the Bridegroom. And then an experience taught me the answer to my query. While I was serving as a priesthood leader, a husband and wife came to see me. They were both distressed about the state of their marriage and family; things seemed to be coming apart in their lives. 'How can I help?' I asked. 'We need more spirituality in our home,' the wife answered. I asked a few questions. 'How often do you pray as a family?' They answered that their schedules precluded any kind of family prayer. 'Have you been able to hold family home evening?' 'Bill and I bowl on Monday nights,' was the response. 'Do you read the scriptures as a family or as individuals?' The answer from the husband: 'Reading hurts my eyes.' 'Well, then, how can I help you?' Again the reply: 'We want the Spirit in our lives.'
"It was as though they were saying to me, 'Brother Millet, could you reach down into your heart and lend us five years of daily prayer, ten years of regular scripture study, and fifteen years of family spiritual activities?' I couldn't do it. I realized dramatically that there are some things that we simply cannot share. I also came to appreciate that like the small oil lamps of the Middle East, which require a careful and methodical and slow effort to fill, so in our own lives we need to build our reservoirs of faith and spiritual experience gradually and consistently." (Steadfast and Immovable: Striving for Spiritual Maturity, 33.)
James E. Talmage
"The refusal of the wise virgins to give of their oil at such a critical time must not be regarded as uncharitable; the circumstance typifies the fact that in the day of judgment every soul must answer for himself; there is no way by which the righteousness of one can be credited to another's account; the doctrine of supererogation is wholly false. The Bridegroom's condemnatory disclaimer, 'I know you not,' was equivalent to a declaration that the imploring but neglectful ones, who had been found unready and unprepared, did not know Him." (Jesus the Christ, 536.)
Matthew 25:10 they that were ready went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut
For the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver.' (DC 45:56-59)
Matthew 25:11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us
Spencer W. Kimball
"Even the foolish ones trimmed their lamps, but their oil was used up and they had none to refill the lamps. They hastened to make up for lost time. Now, too late, they were becoming conscious of the tragedy of unpreparedness. They had been taught. They had been warned all their lives." (Faith Precedes the Miracle, 254-255.)
Elder Delbert L. Stapley
"I wonder, my brothers and sisters, which of the two categories we as members of the Church fall into? Do we and our families belong with the wise virgins or the foolish? Will we heed the Savior's warning given in this parable and make honest and wise preparation for entrance into his kingdom? Preparation for eternal glory must go progressively forward every day of our lives if we are not to be caught unprepared when earth life is finished or the great day of the Lord comes." (Conference Report, April 1959, Afternoon Meeting 107.)
Matthew 25:14-30 The parable of the talents
Howard W. Hunter
"The Lord expects us to use our talents in his service. Those who use their talents find they will grow. One who exercises his strength finds it will increase. If we sow a seed, it will grow; if we fail to plant, it will be lost. One who possesses some insight and is attentive to his teacher will gain more knowledge and insight and will have growth in mind and spiritual understanding. Understanding increases as it is used. As we learn, we acquire greater capacity to learn. As we use our opportunities for knowledge, more opportunities come to us. How sad it is when the opposite course is followed, and talent and capacity are wasted and not used. 'From him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath' (Matthew 25:29).
"Talents are not given to us to be put on display or to be hidden away, but to be used. The Master expects us to make use of them. He expects us to venture forth and increase what we have been given according to our capacities and abilities (see Matthew 25:26-30). As servants of the Lord, we should use every opportunity to employ our talents in his service. To fail to do so means to lose them. If we do not increase, we decrease. Our quest is to seek out the talents the Lord has given us and to develop and multiply them, whether they be five, two, or one. We need not attempt to imitate the talents given to other persons." (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams, 70.)
Matthew 25:15 he gave...to every man according to his several ability
"Some of us are too quick to assume that we are the second- and third-string players or that we are spiritual klutzes. We forget that God, in his perfect judgment, adjusts credit and blame to allow for the circumstances of the individual in question. The gospel is not a 'one-size-fits-all' arrangement in that regard. God puts us all in different circumstances in this life and judges us accordingly. In the Parable of the Talents, it didn't matter that one servant had been given five talents and the other only two. What mattered most was what both servants did with what God gave them. The Master said to each of them, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant' (Matthew 25:21). It is better to be a faithful second-string player with limited talents (pun intended) than to be an unfaithful superstar." (Stephen E. Robinson, Following Christ: The Parable of the Divers and More Good News, 34.)
Howard W. Hunter
"The special talents with which we have been blessed-our intelligence, physical abilities, time, money, and the many opportunities given to us-have come from the Lord. They have been entrusted to us to be used, not for safekeeping or to be hidden away. These were given to us according to our ability to use-not for our own gain, but for the Lord's purposes here upon earth. We are like tenant farmers, who, given the use of the land, make their own selection as to the crop they will raise, and they work according to their own skill and desire to work. Some have the ability to sow, cultivate, and raise a bounteous crop, but others are less successful. There are some persons who will work hard and produce, while others, lacking initiative and desire, will fail. The day comes, however, when an accounting must be made." (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams, 271.)
Matthew 25:21 Well done, thou good and faithful servant
Boyd K. Packer
"...Keep your covenants. Keep your covenants.
"When you come to the temple and receive your endowment, and kneel at the altar and be sealed, you can live an ordinary life and be an ordinary soul-struggling against temptation, failing and repenting, and failing again and repenting, but always determined to keep your covenants-and that marriage ordinance will be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Then the day will come when you will receive the benediction: 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord' (Matthew 25:21)." (Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, 257.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Those who hear the words 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant, . . . enter thou into the joy of thy lord' (Matthew 25:21), will be filled with unspeakable joy. Those so adjudged can say of their own tiny trek, 'It is finished,' and yet so much will have just begun!
"We will be home, and the promise to us is that God will land our souls, yea, our immortal souls, 'at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.' (Helaman 3:30.) Never again will we be really away from Him!
"Those who in this life have 'let the solemnities of eternity' rest upon them ("D&C 43:34D&C 43:34), and who have acted on the basis of 'things as they really will be,' can appreciate that what we will enjoy then was planned long, long ago: 'According to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was, that should be reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof, when every man shall enter into his eternal presence and into his immortal rest.' (D&C 121:32.)" (Things As They Really Are, 119.)
Matthew 25:25 I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent
Howard W. Hunter
"Now we come to the one-talent servant (see Matthew 25:26-30). We are saddened and disappointed in this part of the drama because first there was an excuse, then a display of the fear that caused him to hide the talent. He had been afraid to assume the responsibility. His attitude was one of resentment and faultfinding, saying he found the master to be a hard man, even harvesting where he had not sown. There are many in the world like this servant, idle and unwilling to work for their master-interested only in themselves. There are those who become so involved in the things of the world and their own selfish interests that they will not make the attempt or put forth the effort to magnify one little talent entrusted to them by the Lord." (Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams, 262.)
Matthew 25:26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant
Stanley G. Ellis
Years ago I was called to serve as a counselor in the Houston Texas North Stake presidency. I was studying the parable of the talents. You remember the story... But what caught my attention was the servant who received one, took care of it, and returned it safely back to his lord. I was surprised by the response of the master: "Thou wicked and slothful servant, . . . take therefore the talent from him, . . . and cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness"! (See Matthew 25:14-30.)
This seemed to be a harsh reaction to one who seemed to be trying to take care of what he was given. But the Spirit taught me this truth-the Lord expects a difference! I knew in that moment that each of us will one day stand before God and give an accounting of our priesthood service and stewardships. Did we make a difference? In my case, was the Houston Texas North Stake better when I was released than when I was called?
Thankfully, the Lord teaches us how to be fruitful, how to make a difference. "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit" (John 15:5). If we exercise His priesthood in His way, following the direction that we receive from His servants and His Spirit, we will be good and faithful servants! ("He Trusts Us!" Ensign, Nov. 2006, 52)
Spencer W. Kimball
"Likewise the Church member who has the attitude of leaving it to others will have much to answer for. There are many who say: 'My wife does the Church work!' Others say: 'I'm just not the religious kind,' as though it does not take effort for most people to serve and do their duty. But God has endowed us with talents and time, with latent abilities and with opportunities to use and develop them in his service. He therefore expects much of us, his privileged children. The parable of the talents is a brilliant summary of the many scriptural passages outlining promises for the diligent and penalties for the slothful. (See Matt. 25:14-30.) From this we see that those who refuse to use their talents in God's cause can expect their potential to be removed and given to someone more worthy. Like the unproductive fig tree (see Matt. 21:18-20) their barren lives will be cursed. To them on judgment day will come the equivalent of these devastating words:
'. . . Thou wicked and slothful servant . . . Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers-. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents-. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' (Matt. 25:26-29, 30.)" (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 100)
Matthew 25:29 unto every one that hath shall be given...but from him that hath not shall be taken away
Joseph Fielding Smith
"Each man holding the priesthood should learn his duty from the Parable of the Talents; for when the Lord shall come, like rewards shall be given us. Many who have promised to magnify their priesthood and who have failed to do so shall be cast out. Their priesthood shall be taken from them, and they shall find themselves outside the gates of the City, for they cannot stand with those who have been faithful. Theirs shall be a condition of weeping and gnashing of teeth. 'For unto every one that hath shall be given, . . . but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.' (Matt. 25:29.) Simply this: We are under obligation as men holding the priesthood to put to service the authority which we have received. If we do this, then we shall have other responsibilities and glory added, and we shall receive an abundance, that is, the fullness of the Father's kingdom; but if we bury our priesthood, then we are not entitled to receive any reward-we cannot be exalted." (Conference Report, April 1966, General Priesthood Meeting 102.)
Matthew 25:30 cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness
In connection with the theme of this chapter, the return of the lord in the parable is symbolic of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. At that time there will be an accounting, and those that are found wanting will be cast into outer darkness. But what does the term "outer darkness" mean? Unfortunately, many have used this term incorrectly. It does not refer to the final fate of the sons of perdition. When it is used in this context, it is used improperly. Rather, the term "outer darkness" is a synonym for hell or spirit prison. A careful reading of Alma 40:11-14 makes it perfectly clear that spirit prison and outer darkness are the same place. So the unprofitable servant is sent to spirit prison to wallow in self-created misery while the saints enjoy the Millenium.
Harold B. Lee
"Imagine what the Judgment will be like for us individually. Suppose that when we meet the Master there is a frown, and He turned and shook His head and turned sadly away. Can you imagine anything that would be quite so discouraging or quite so heartbreaking? There will be nothing so terrifying to the human soul as to be told on resurrection morning that they will have to wait a thousand years before they shall come forth from the grave in resurrection. But imagine instead of that, He smiles, He opens his arms, and says, 'Come into my presence. You have been faithful in a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.'" (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams, 68.)
Matthew 25:31-32 before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another
The timing of this grand event has always been rather elusive. Matthew makes it sound like this great and final judgment takes place at the time of his arrival in glory (v. 30). Often, commentators also imply the same thing. However, other scriptures make it sound like it will take place after the Millenium. Thankfully, the Lord has not left us without an answer. This event will occur after the Millenium according to the scripture:
But remember that all my judgments are not given unto men' (DC 29:22-30)
Matthew 25:35-40 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink
The hymn, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief," was the favorite hymn of the prophet Joseph Smith. It was also the last song the prophet heard before his martyrdom. It tells the story of an individual who helps a poor and wayfaring man. He is fed when hungry, given water when thirsty, given shelter from the storm, and nursed to health after being "beaten nigh to death." The last two verses continue the story:
But my free spirit cried, "I will!"
Fear not, thou didst them unto me."
Matthew 25:40 Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren
"This was a wonderful concept to me. I can be Christ's advocate by becoming an advocate for those who are the least among us. Think about Jesus before he emerged from his mortal disguise. Was he someone you would have reached out to serve? Jesus Christ was a homeless man. He was embarrassing to be around because he made public scenes. He refused to accept the authority of the scribes, the Pharisees, and the lawyers. He consorted with tax collectors, thieves, and prostitutes. He made extravagant claims-such as that he was the Son of God. He actually touched lepers. No wonder the respectable people of the day shunned him. But he will be our advocate for the eternities, this man who was despised and rejected in life.
"He was very much too much for a great many people. Is he too much for us? Is his gospel too much for us? No, it is our joy and our glory, that we can serve him by serving the least among us. 'The least of these' are all around us. Not one of us, myself included, does not have circumstances in her life where she is 'one of the least.' ... Not one of us, myself included, is so overcome with problems that we cannot be a nonjudgmental listener, a helpful friend, a loving sister to someone who is also in need, a defender when someone is gossiped about, an includer when someone is marginalized." (Disciples, 210.)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"I received a letter this morning. I think I would like to read it to you. I hope that you will not consider it egotistical for me to do so.
"What a wonderful Conference! Your closing remarks concerning Brigham Young's rescue parties touched our family's heart and we resolved to set out on our rescue mission without delay. We pulled out of the stake center [Sunday afternoon] and headed directly to the humble home of a struggling single parent mother of two who hasn't been out to Church in years (and who has carefully evaded her visiting teachers). We happened to catch her in her driveway, and we told her that you and the bishop had sent us. Her heart was touched. She said that she works at a hospital till 2 A.M. most Sundays. When we asked if we could bring her children to Church with us, she explained that her ten-year-old daughter has no Sunday clothes and that her fourteen-year-old son had felt embarrassed to attend because he felt he didn't fit in. We told the mom we would take care of the needed clothes. We then invited them to Sunday spaghetti dinner that took place thirty minutes later, introduced the boy to our nephew who is in his quorum, and arranged to pick the boy up for Mutual this week. The mom and sister promised to go to Church with us in two weeks when the mom has her Sunday off. (Don't worry, we won't let them forget!)'
"That is the whole thing, when all is said and done, to go out and get in our cars and drive from a Church parking lot to someone who has been neglected for a long time and needs a little attention, to lift and cheer and comfort and love and bless. 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me' (Matt. 25:40)." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 224.)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"The greatest challenge we face in our hurried, self-centered lives is to follow this counsel of the Master (Matt. 25:34-40). Years ago I read the story of a young woman who went into a rural area as a schoolteacher. Among those in her class was a girl who had failed before and who was failing again. The student could not read. She came from a family without means to take her to a larger city for examination to determine whether she had a problem that could be remedied. Sensing that the difficulty might lie with the girl's eyes, the young teacher arranged to take the student, at the teacher's own expense, to have her eyes tested. A deficiency was discovered that could be corrected with glasses. Soon an entire new world opened to the student. For the first time in her life, she saw clearly the words before her. The salary of that country schoolteacher was meager, but out of the little she had, she made an investment that completely changed the life of a failing student, and in doing so she found a new dimension in her own life." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 591 - 592.)
Elder J. Richard Clarke
"I was touched by an experience that was recently related to me. A dear sister had been incapacitated for the past eight years-she could not walk or talk and was confined to bed. About six years ago, she and her husband were assigned a faithful home teacher. He asked if his wife could come over to their house every Sunday morning and stay with the invalid woman while her husband attended priesthood meeting. For six years, every Sunday this home teacher would bring his wife over to stay with the invalid sister while her husband went to his meeting. And every Sunday the home teacher's wife would bring with her some baked goods or something special that she had made for this older couple. Finally, this sister who had been ill passed away. When her daughter tried to express her deep love and appreciation to this loving home teacher and his wife for what they had done over the years, the wife said, 'Oh, don't thank us. It was our privilege to visit with your sweet mother. What am I going to do now? The hour and a half on Sunday morning will now be, for me, the loneliest hour and a half in the week.'" (Love, 58.)
James E. Faust
"May I express a word of gratitude and appreciation to those many who minister with such kindness and skill to our handicapped people. Special commendation belongs to parents and family members who have cared for their own children with special needs in the loving atmosphere of their own homes. The care of those who are diminished is a special service rendered to the Master himself, for 'inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' (Matthew 25:40.)
"Parents of handicapped children are occasionally embarrassed or hurt by others who awkwardly express sympathy but cannot know or appreciate the depth of the parents' love for a handicapped child. Perhaps there is some comparison in the fact that there is no less love in families for the helpless infant who must be fed, bathed, and diapered than for older but still dependent members. We love those whom we serve and who need us." (Reach Up for the Light, 90.)
Matthew 25:41 Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels
The timing of this final judgment, as discussed above, now becomes important. At this time, all have been resurrected. There is no one left in spirit prison. Therefore, those found at the left hand of God must be sons of perdition, for they are the only ones who are cursed to suffer the same fate as the devil and his angels. Of their fate, we read, 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. And now, behold, I say unto you, never at any time have I declared from mine own mouth that they should return, for where I am they cannot come, for they have no power. But remember that all my judgments are not given unto men' (DC 29:28-30) The Lord reminds us that all of his 'judgments are not given unto men.' He also tells us, 'I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand. Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.' (DC 19:5-6)
Joseph F. Smith
"The sons of perdition, men who once were in possession of the light and truth, but who turned away from them and denied the Lord, putting him to an open shame, as did the Jews when they crucified him and said, 'His blood be on us, and on our children;' men who consent, against light and knowledge, to the shedding of innocent blood, it will be said unto them, 'Depart from me, ye cursed.' (Matt. 25:41) I never knew you; depart into the second death, even banishment from the presence of God for ever and ever, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched, from whence there is no redemption, neither in time nor in eternity. Herein is the difference between the second and the first death wherein man became spiritually dead; for from the first death he may be redeemed by the blood of Christ, through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, but from the second, there is no redemption at all." (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe, 451.)