Matthew 25:9 MEANING

Matthew 25:9
(9) Not so.--The words, as the italics show, are not in the Greek. They are, perhaps, necessary to complete the sense in English; but there is a tone of regretful tenderness in the way in which, in the original, the wise virgins give the reason that makes compliance with the request impossible, without directly uttering a refusal.

Go ye rather to them that sell.--This feature in the parable is too remarkable to be passed over lightly, especially as the "exchangers" in the parable that follows are clearly more or less analogous. We have to ask, then, who they are that, in the interpretation of the parable, according to the data already ascertained, answer to "them that sell." And the answer is, that they are the pastors and teachers of the Church--the stewards of the mysteries of God. Through them, whether as preachers of the divine Word of Wisdom, or as administering the sacraments which are signs and means of grace, men may, by God's appointment, obtain the gift and grace they need. The "buying" and "selling" belong, of course, in their literal sense, to the parable only. No gift of God can be purchased with money (Acts 8:20). But the words are not, therefore, any more than in Matthew 13:44-46 (where see Notes), destitute of meaning. Men may "buy" the truth which they are not to sell (Proverbs 23:23). They are invited to buy the "wine and milk," which symbolise God's spiritual gifts, "without money and without price" (Isaiah 55:1). The price that God requires is the consecration of their heart (Proverbs 23:26).

Verse 9. - Not so; lest there be not enough (μήποτε οὐ μὴ ἀρκέσῃ, haply it will not suffice). Edersheim renders, "Not at all - it will never suffice for us and you," in order to give the force of the double negation. In Aristotle, μήποτε is often equivalent to "perhaps," e.g. 'Eth. Nic.,' 10:1. 3. "Even so they failed," says St. Chrysostom, "and neither the humanity of those of whom they begged, nor the easiness of their request, nor their necessity and want, made them obtain their petition. And what do we learn from hence? That no man can protect us there if we are betrayed by our works; not because he will not, but because he cannot. For these, too, take refuge in the impossibility. This the blessed Abraham also indicated, saying, 'Between us and you there is a great gulf,' so that not even when willing is it permitted them to pass it." But (probably spurious) go ye rather to them that sell. The answer is not harsh, and the advice is not ironical or unkind. The wise cannot of themselves supply the lack. They have no superabundant store of grace to communicate to others; at best even they are unprofitable servants; the righteous shall scarcely be saved; so they direct their companions to the only source where effectual grace may be obtained. They that sell are the ministers and stewards of Christ's mysteries, who dispense the means of grace. These are said to be bought, as the treasure hid in the field or the pearl of great price is bought (Matthew 13:44-46). Divine grace can always be procured by those who will pay the price thereof; and the price is faith and prayer and earnestness, - nothing more, nothing less (Isaiah 55:1; Revelation 3:18). But the time is short; delay is fatal; hence the counsel so urgently given, "Go ye," etc. Buy for yourselves. This is important. Every one must bear his own burden. The grace must be their own; what is required of those who would meet the Bridegroom without shame and fear is personal preparation, personal faith and holiness. We shall be judged individually; our Christian virtues must be entirely our own, wrought in us by the grace of God, with which we have humbly and thankfully cooperated. It is curious that some ancient and modern commentators see in this part of the parable, only an ornamental detail without special signification.

25:1-13 The circumstances of the parable of the ten virgins were taken from the marriage customs among the Jews, and explain the great day of Christ's coming. See the nature of Christianity. As Christians we profess to attend upon Christ, to honour him, also to be waiting for his coming. Sincere Christians are the wise virgins, and hypocrites the foolish ones. Those are the truly wise or foolish that are so in the affairs of their souls. Many have a lamp of profession in their hands, but have not, in their hearts, sound knowledge and settled resolution, which are needed to carry them through the services and trials of the present state. Their hearts are not stored with holy dispositions, by the new-creating Spirit of God. Our light must shine before men in good works; but this is not likely to be long done, unless there is a fixed, active principle in the heart, of faith in Christ, and love to God and our brethren. They all slumbered and slept. The delay represents the space between the real or apparent conversion of these professors, and the coming of Christ, to take them away by death, or to judge the world. But though Christ tarry past our time, he will not tarry past the due time. The wise virgins kept their lamps burning, but they did not keep themselves awake. Too many real Christians grow remiss, and one degree of carelessness makes way for another. Those that allow themselves to slumber, will scarcely keep from sleeping; therefore dread the beginning of spiritual decays. A startling summons was given. Go ye forth to meet Him, is a call to those prepared. The notice of Christ's approach, and the call to meet him, will awaken. Even those best prepared for death have work to do to get actually ready, 2Pe 3:14. It will be a day of search and inquiry; and it concerns us to think how we shall then be found. Some wanted oil to supply their lamps when going out. Those that take up short of true grace, will certainly find the want of it one time or other. An outward profession may light a man along this world, but the damps of the valley of the shadow of death will put out such a light. Those who care not to live the life, yet would die the death of the righteous. But those that would be saved, must have grace of their own; and those that have most grace, have none to spare. The best need more from Christ. And while the poor alarmed soul addresses itself, upon a sick-bed, to repentance and prayer, in awful confusion, death comes, judgment comes, the work is undone, and the poor sinner is undone for ever. This comes of having oil to buy when we should burn it, grace to get when we should use it. Those, and those only, shall go to heaven hereafter, that are made ready for heaven here. The suddenness of death and of Christ's coming to us then, will not hinder our happiness, if we have been prepared. The door was shut. Many will seek admission into heaven when it is too late. The vain confidence of hypocrites will carry them far in expectations of happiness. The unexpected summons of death may alarm the Christian; but, proceeding without delay to trim his lamp, his graces often shine more bright; while the mere professor's conduct shows that his lamp is going out. Watch therefore, attend to the business of your souls. Be in the fear of the Lord all the day long.But the wise answered, saying, not so,.... A flat denial; and which sprung not from want or compassion; for the saints are taught not only to compassionate one another, and to pity fallen professors, but even to regard their very enemies in distress: nor from a narrow, stubborn spirit, since such are directed and exhorted to communicate freely, both in things temporal and spiritual, they are capable of, to them that are in need, and even to lay down their lives for the brethren; nor from an uncivil, morose, and churlish disposition; or from a careless and indolent one, as being unconcerned what became of these persons; but from an indignation at the honour put upon them, and the slight put upon God and Christ, and the Spirit of grace: saints know that all grace comes from Father, Son, and Spirit; and frankly own, that what they have is from thence; and they give God all the glory of it, and cannot bear any such application to them for it, as this; but show the same spirit, as Paul and Barnabas did, when the Lystrians were going to sacrifice to them. Moreover, this denial arose from a consciousness of insufficiency to help them in this respect: it is the saints' mercy that they cannot lose the grace they have, nor can any take it away from them, and it is not in their power to give it away; nor can any be sanctified, or justified, or saved, by another man's grace: the reason alleged by them is,

lest there be not enough for us and you; saints have a large abundance of grace communicated to them; some have more, others less; at least it so appears, as to exercise; but they that have the most, have none to spare, and see their need of more; and ask for more, being sensible that present grace in them, is not sufficient for time to come, but grace in Christ only; wherefore their answer, and the reason of it, were like themselves, wise; and this destroys the notion of supererogation;

but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. This advice is thought by some, to be ironical and sarcastic; but it seems rather to be serious, and in good earnest; directing them to go to proper persons for grace; not to men, even ministers of the Gospel, nor to angels; but to God the Father, the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort, who sits on a throne of grace, and gives it liberally to them that come to him for it through Christ, and ask it of him; and to Christ the mediator, who is full of grace and truth, and counsels persons to buy of him gold tried in the fire, grace more precious than the purest gold; and to the Spirit of grace, who gives it to all severally as he will: who are said to "sell", and "men" to buy; not in a proper sense, by giving any valuable consideration for the grace of God, which is impossible to be done; but in an improper sense, without money and without price; or in other words, by giving and receiving freely.

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