If you search for information on the parables, these three come up quite a bit. They are heavily used by the sacramental and works-oriented groups. The irony is that these parables do address works, but the "WHY" and "WHO" and "WHEN" are not "rightly divided" and, thus, tremendous error and slavery result.
Remember our context for Matthew 24-25.
The context is still his "coming and of the end of the age" (Matt 24:3). We are solidly on Jewish ground. All things are seen in light of the Kingdom promised to Israel (the good news of the Kingdom); which the Lord forbade his disciples to preach to anyone but to Jews (Matt 10:5-7; cp Acts 11:19).
"When shall these things be?", and "What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and (what shall be the sign) of the sunteleia [συντέλεια, consummation, that period which is the gathering point of all things just before the end, telos] of the age?"
Matthew 25 starts off with the powerful word THEN. The context is given in Matthew 24: the great tribulation (the time of JACOB'S Trouble) and the end of that period.
"For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be."
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened..."
Also seen in Matthew 24 is the "coming in the clouds," the "tribes," "angels," the sound of a "trumpet," and the regathering of the "elect." All of this is Jewish ground.
- WHO: Israel, the tribes, the elect nation, the land
- WHEN: at the return of the Son of Man
- WHY: to judge different groups, by works, in that age
So, these parables will judge works. But what is in sight here is the Kingdom (Israel's Kingdom), the marriage supper, the New Jerusalem.
What is not in question is salvation (life).
The isms. schisms, spasms, cults, red-letter moralists, and sacramentalists use these parables to enslave people to their systems (which promise rescue) and enslave them to either fear or a false hope.
Gentiles are addressed in the last parable of Matthew 25, but as in all scripture in the ages in which Israel is God's channel, they are only seen and judged in relation to Jews.
If we do not recognize these parameters (all clearly laid out by the Lord) we will wander into great error. I do not have space to fully explore these parables, but I hope to give a basic framework that will shed light on their truths and free any who are enslaved or deceived.
In contradiction to Andy Stanley's belief that studying the parables will destroy your faith, rightly divided, these will enhance and encourage us. It is a simplistic study of these parables that is sending many to destruction thinking they're OK or that they must continue to strive to be reconciled to God.
I guarantee those who heed his words to ignore the parables will be the first to be enslaved by bad teaching from them. They will not know how to "rightly divide" and will fall for a cursory reading of them. The "Red-Letter" crew will enslave them.
Let me pause here and add that God has already been reconciled to you.
"God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them..."-2 Cor 5:19
We need only to be reconciled to God by faith. The only barrier between you and God is unbelief. He has removed all sin (He took upon himself our sins as a once-for-all, finished sacrifice), and rose from the dead that we might one day follow him in the resurrection.
"we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
-2 Cor 5:20-21
He holds nothing against you, but you must come to HIm by faith. The GIFT of God is resurrection life. You do not earn a gift, you simply receive it.
Next time we will look at the Parable of the Ten Virgins.