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Explore the last day of Jesus Christ's mortal ministry.

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JOSEPH SMITHMATTHEW;
MATTHEW 24–25;
MARK 12–13; LUKE 21
LAST DAY OF JESUS’ PUBLIC MINISTRY
e last day of Jesus’ public ministry begins with teaching at the temple and ends with a discussion about the
destruction of the temple and His Second Coming. At that time, Jesus Himself did not know when these events
would occur, so His prophesies may seem overlapping. e Book or Mormon explains us that Jesus’ First and
Second Coming are typied and represented throughout covenant history in both the Old and New Testaments.
1
Aer His last public event, Jesus leaves the temple and retires to a secluded setting on the Mount of Olives to
answer His disciples’ questions. ey ask Him about the timing of His Kingdom. Aer His explanation, He illu-
minates His message with four parables.
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The Widow’s Mite
Mark 12:41–44; Luke 21:1–4
Mark 12:41; Luke 21:1 “Jesus sat over against the treasury As Jesus teaches in the Court of the Women, He
can see the “treasury” under a colonnade along the north and south walls of the courtyard. (e Court of the
Women was actually for all Israelites, but it was the last courtyard where women and children were allowed to
join in temple worship—if they remained in one corner—hence the name.) e temple treasury included thir-
teen donation boxes placed along the north and south walls, and the two large storage rooms behind them.
e collection containers each had a wooden box base, and a brass funnel opening. e bass portion was in the
shape of a trumpet, so they were called trumpets. e brass also amplied the sound of the coins as they were
dropped in. Each of the thirteen were labeled for dierent oerings (e.g. “New Shekel dues,” “Gold for the mercy-
seat,” “freewill-oerings,” or “sin-oerings,” etc.). One of the chief priests set the prices for each of the various
oerings and the prices changed dramatically at times (suggesting they were not always honest or fair).
Mark 12:42; Luke 21:2 “a certain poor widow” We do not know the widow’s age—she may have been 18 or
80, walking alone, or with young children clinging to her knees. A mite or copper was the smallest monetary
denomination. e contrast between the widow’s donation and the “the rich men casting their gis” was signi-
cant nancially and emotionally.
e Widows Mite by James Tissot, 1899.
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Mark 12:43–44; Luke 21:3–4 “. . . cast in all the living that she hadNo one seems to notice the widow—except
Jesus, and He seems to see everything. He points her out to His disciples. e amount of money is not the issue,
but her sacrice and faith in God. e same principle extends to realizing that the Lord does not need our tithes
and oerings—the amount doesnt matter. Yet we need to learn how to selessly give our all to God.
Jesus Prophecies of the Temple’s Fall
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:1-3; Matthew 24:1–2; Mark 13:1–2; Luke 21:5–6; D&C 45
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:2–3; Matthew 24:1–2; Mark 13:1–2; Luke 21:5–6 “Master, show us concerning the
buildings of the Temple (JST). Matthew, Mark, and John record that Jesus and His followers leave the temple
courtyards and walk eastward to the Mount of Olives. Looking backwards across the Kidron Valley at the temple
and courtyards from that vantage point was spectacular. Even though the outbuildings were still under construc-
tion, the temple continued functioning every day for the entire expansion project (between 19 BC and AD 63).
As to not dele the sacred space, Herod trained thousands of priests as stone masons to work on the Sanctuary.
Moses revealed that each furnishing and ritual of the temple typied the Messiah or the Anointed One (2 Nephi
11:4; Mosiah 3:15; Alma 13:16; Exodus 29:36–37; 40:10; etc.). But Herod designed the temples expansion to be
the most beautiful building in the Roman world.
2
Josephus served in this temple as a priest and described it. Herods construction teams attened the mountain to
make a 33-acre platform for the Sanctuary. e outmost courtyard walls were 16 feet thick. e Sanctuary stood
150 feet, or nine stories high. (As a modern perspective, it stood one-and-a-half times higher than the current
Dome on the Rock.) It was covered in gold leaf that glistened in the sunlight. Josephus claims that the doors to
enter the Sanctuary were 49 feet high and 24.5 feet wide.
3
e outer courtyard allowed all to gather, which gave it the name, “Court of the Gentiles.” is courtyard took
up most of the acreage. e space became more holy as one approached the central area. To separate the gentiles,
a large surrounding wall framed the Court of the Women and Court of the Priests. On the wall, a warning was
written in three languages: No stranger is to enter within the balustrade round the temple and enclosure.
Whoever is caught will be himself responsible for his ensuing death.
4
Passing through the Court of the Women
and of Israel, only priests and Levites entered the exclusive inner courtyard where the temple workers washed
daily in the Brazen Sea and served at the enormous brass altar. Just a few chosen priests entered the Sanctuary to
the Holy Place to light the incense twice a day, and to restock the twelve loaves of bread and wine once a week.
Finally, the most sacred space, the Holy of Holies, was entered only by the one reigning high priest, one day a
year, on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).
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e architecture and engineering involved in its construction is mind boggling. e crasmen maneuvered
thousands of 5 to 90-ton blocks into place without needing any mortar between the stones. e enormous
stones were meticulously carved with borders around each on the outer facade. e average size was the size
of a modern dishwasher, but some were as large and heavy as two loaded airplanes. ose who saw it reported
it absolutely breath taking. As the common phrase reported: “He who has not seen Herods temple has not seen
beauty in all his life.
5
Yet, Jesus repeatedly prophesied that it would be destroyed. At that time, it was unfathom-
able; yet from AD 70 it stood as rubble for nearly 600 years and witnessed of Jesus’ words.
MARK 13:1–2 JST MARK 13:1–2
And as he went out of the temple, one of his
disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner
of stones and what buildings are here!
And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou
these great buildings? ere shall not be le one
stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down
And as Jesus went out of the temple, his disciples
came to him saying, Master show us concerning
the buildings of the Temple. And he said unto him,
Behold ye these stones of the temple, and all this
great work, and buildings of the temple? Verily
I say unto you, they shall be thrown down and
le unto the Jews desolate. And Jesus said unto
them, See ye not all these things, and do ye not
understand them? Verily I say unto you, there shall
be one le there upon this temple, one stone upon
another, that shall not be thrown down. And Jesus
le them and went upon the mount of Olives.
In Matthew and Marks Gospels, the JST changes the disciples’ message from telling Jesus about the temple to
asking Him about the future of the temple. (e JST Mark 13, also parallels much of the JST Matthew 24.)
Matthew 24:3; Mark 13:3; Luke 21:7–11 “. . . privately, saying, Tell us, when . . .? e account in Mark 13:3
has only Peter, Andrew, James and John (two groups of two brothers) asking Jesus about the timing of the future
destruction, but the JST removes that sentence and replaces it with “the disciples came.” In either case, Jesus
audience of believers—either some of the Twelve, or a combination of disciples—gather on the Mt. of Olives,
overlooking the temple on Mount Moriah and continue to discuss Jesus’ prophecies.
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MOUNT OF OLIVES DISCOURSE
Judgment and Delayed Second Coming
Joseph Smith—Matthew; Matthew 24:4–32; Mark 13:5–33; Luke 21:7–36
Jesus’ disciples want to learn more about the temples destruction, so they follow Him up the Mount of Olives
and continue to ask more questions: “When shall these things be?” (Matthew 24:4; Luke 21:7). Jesus’ response
has become known as His “Olivet Discourse.” Jesus’ revelation must have been a total shock to His apostles who
felt that the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven and its King were already there. It was also shocking because
Jesus prophesies of three periods of destruction without separating them by time. He included the destruction
of the temple and Jerusalem by the Romans (AD 68–70), the destruction preceding His Second Coming, and the
destruction at the end of the world. All three horric events are discussed together. is was confusing to them,
not knowing that the Roman War against Judea would be a type of the destruction before Jesus’ Second Coming.
Similar to Jesus’ disciples’ interest in the subject, the saints in Joseph Smiths day (and the nation at large) were
also fascinated by information on the Saviors Second Coming and millennialism. When Joseph Smith translated
Matthew 24, he felt inspired to re-arrange the Olivet Discourse in order to separate past and future events. e
JST is 50% larger than Matthew 24, with every verse being changed/corrected, except one verse, Matthew 24:33.
As Joseph Smith and the early saints sought more
information, the Lord reveled more answers. In
addition to the JST of Matthew 24, the Prophet
also received other revelations on Jesus’ Second
Coming (e.g. D&C 1; 29; 38; 43; 45; 101; 116;
133, etc.).
6
In D&C 45:16–45, the Lord repeated
approximately 13 verses from the Mount of Olives
Discourse.
Here is an outline of the Olivet Discourse as
recorded in each of the Synoptic Gospels for your
own study. is Come Follow Me guide follows
the order and additions from Joseph Smith-Mat-
thew (which is the JST of Matthew 24), now pub-
lished in e Pearl of Great Price.
View of the present-day Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
Photograph by Nemo via Wikimedia Commons.
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OUTLINE OF JESUS’ MOUNT OF OLIVES DISCOURSE
Signs of thy Coming and End Matthew 24:38; Mark 13:38; Luke 21:711
Persecution Foretold Matthew 24:914; Mark 13:913; Luke 21:1219
Abomination of Desolation Matthew 24:1522; Mark 1420; Luke 21:2024
False Christs and Prophets Matthew 24:2328; Mark 13:2123; Luke 21:25–38
Joseph Smith—Matthew
In 1851, the British mission president, Apostle Franklin D. Richards, wanted to share key passages from the JST
and the D&C with the European saints. He complied some of his favorites into a pamphlet and published it as,
e Pearl of Great Price.” One portion of the JST that he included was Matthew 24. Over time, parts of that
collection were canonized. Just as the JST of Genesis 1–7 received a new name, “e Book of Moses,” so too the
JST of Matthew 24 became known as, Joseph Smith—Matthew.
e re-arranged order in the Joseph Smith—Matthew is organized below to separate the past and future events:
PAST FUTURE
JST OR JS—M KJV MATT 24 JST OR JS—M KJV MATT 24
24:1 24:39 21b22 24:2324
24:26 24:15 23, 28 24:6
24:711 24:9
13 2427 24:2528
24:1218 24:1521 29 24:7
24:19 24:8 30 24:12
24:2021a 24:22 33 24:29
3435 24:3435
3639 24:3033
4054 24:3651
55
Signs of Jerusalem’s Impending Destruction
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:4–20
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:4 “What is the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world . . .?e disciples
did not understand what lay ahead in two days, but at this point, they were more interested in the distant future.
ey asked two questions: rst, about the timing of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and second,
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about the signs of the Second Coming. e end of the world is dened here, almost as if in a parenthetical, as
the destruction of the wicked.” It is repeated again in Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:31. e earth itself will not be
destroyed though. We learn elsewhere that the earth will “receive its paradisiacal glory” and become the Celestial
Kingdom. e destruction described can be dened as the end of worldliness and a purication (Article of Faith
10; D&C 88:10).
Josepb Smith—Matthew 1:5–10 “Many shall deceive . . . then shall they . . . kill you” Jesus warned His dis-
ciples that deception and iniquity will abound. Because of the circulating falsehoods, they will all be persecuted,
and many disciples will even suer martyrdom. We usually honor Stephen as the rst Christian martyr, although
John the Baptist and Jesus were already martyred. James the son of Zebedee followed Stephen, and each of the
other ten apostles also died as a martyr.
7
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:11 “he that remaineth steadfast . . . shall be saved” Although the desolation to
come will be heinous, those who listen to the Lords anointed and His Spirit will escape. Just as the destroying
angel passed over the homes of those who obeyed the prophet and covered their doorways with the blood of a
lamb, so too will the “steadfast” receive eternal protection from the worst destructions of the Last Days. e same
was true at the rst destruction of Jerusalem because, as prophesied, all Christians who followed the apostolic
leadership had le Jerusalem before the worst destruction.
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:12 “. . . see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel In Daniel 9:27;
11:31; and 12:11 we can read of the tragic destruction of Jerusalem (other prophets also discussed this, such as
Hosea 3:4 and Jeramiah 19:4). Even though very few villages had a copy of the book of Daniel, it appears that
these prophecies were known.
8
To avoid this desolating scourge, Jesus tells the disciples to “stand in the holy
place.” is is the name of the rst room in the Temple Sanctuary reserved for just a handful of priests to light the
incense and to clean. But the Lord used similar language to mean more general holy places in D&C 101:22, “it is
my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, shouldgather
together, andstandin holy places.” (is counsel was given at a time of great persecution and destruction in
Missouri.)
Joseph Smith—Mathew 1:13–19 “in those days shall be great tribulations on the Jews . . . as was not before . .
. nor ever shall be Jesus prophecies of the extreme danger and speed of the upcoming destruction. e horric
massacre resulted due to the Jewish revolt in AD 66 (just thirty-three years aer Jesus’ prophesy and death). e
Roman Emperor, Nero, sent an army under Vespasian to eradicate the Jews from their land. In the middle of his
destruction, Vespasian was called back to Rome to become the next Emperor. His son, Titus entered Jerusalem
and desolated everything in his path, including the stone temple.
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Signs of Second Coming
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:21–37
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:20 “. . . those days should be shortened . . . for the elect’s sakeJesus prophesies
that His covenants will protect the world from utter destruction. He will not allow his elect to fall. Joseph Smith
dened God’s elect as they who choose to be chosen, or those who live their covenants.
9
ose good people who
prayerfully testify of Jesus have blessed many generations of the world—just as a sprinkling of salt and a ray of
light.
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:21–22 “there shall also
arise false Christs and false prophets . . . they shall
deceive the very elect” Jesus repeats His warning
about false prophets (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:9).
Paul also taught of the false prophets deceiving the
elect when he spoke of the apostasy in 2 essalo-
nians 2:1–3; Hebrews 9:26–28; Acts 20:29; as did
Peter in 2 Peter 3:3–9. John describes anti-Christs in
1 John 2:18. True prophets can identify false proph-
ets and their falsehoods. One who has the spirit of
prophecy is identied by John the Revelator as one
who has a testimony of Jesus (Revelation 19:10). In
a Springeld, IL court of law, Joseph Smith used
this New Testament teaching as his denition and
evidence that he was a prophet.
10
In addition to all
those who testify of Jesus, true prophets expose false prophets by exposing their misunderstood philosophies,
or cunning counterfeits.
e early Christians expected the end of the world very soon aer Jesus’ resurrection.
11
Yet, it was not the Second
Coming that was imminent, but the apostasy. False teachings were already under way by the time of Pauls min-
istry. It was neither passive nor gradual. Jesus foretold of this in Matthew 24:24. Jesus explains that He allows it:
Christ suereth him to work, until the time is fullled that he shall be taken out of the way” (2 essalonians
2:7, JST).
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:23—37 “I speak these things . . . for the elect’s sake . . . for the coming of the Son
of Mane Lord outlines twenty signs of the times that will precede and accompany His Second Coming. He
does this so that His covenant people will be prepared.
e Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans
Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70. Painting by David
Roberts, 1850. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
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1. Wars and rumors of wars—repeated twice each (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:23; 28)
2. All will see Jesus’ Second Coming, as the sunrise covers the earth (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:26)
3. e elect will gather together (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:27)
4. Nation will rise against nation (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:29—in opposition to the Millennium described
in Isaiah 2:4)
5. Famine (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:29)
6. Pestilence (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:29)
7. Earthquakes in divers places (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:29)
8. Iniquity will abound (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:30)
9. Peoples love will “wax cold” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:30)
10. ose who are not overcome will be saved (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:30)
11. e gospel will be preached in all the world (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:31)
12. e wicked will be destroyed (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:31)
13. Daniels prophecy of the abomination of desolation will be fullled (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:32)
14. e sun and moon will be darkened (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:33)
15. Stars will fall (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:33)
16. In the generation that these are fullled, Jesus’ will come again (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:34–36)
17. e tribes of the earth will mourn (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:36)
18. Jesus will come in the clouds “with power and great glory” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:36)
19. ose who treasure Gods word will not be deceived (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37)
20. Angels come before Jesus, like a trumpet, to gather the elect in heaven (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37)
God’s promise to the generation who has to endure his tragic list of destruction, is lled with hope and encour-
agement if they “treasureth up my word.
FOUR PARABLES
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:38–54
Still on the Mount of Olives, Jesus then illustrates His teachings with four stories or parables. (Parabole means
type, gure, and illustration.) e rst two are about knowing when these signs will happen, and the next two
describe what disciples need to do. (I will continue with the Joseph Smith —Matthew text as it is much richer)
1. The Parable of the Fig Tree
Matthew 24:32–42; Mark 13:28–37; Luke 21:29–36
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:38–39 “you know that summer is nigh . . . but of that day . . . no one knoweth . .
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. but my Father only” By studying the law of the harvest, one can estimate when fruit is ripe. Jesus encourages
us to watch in the same way that as we prepare for His coming. His nal restraint is a surprising revelation that
even He did not know when He would return.
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:41–43 “as it was in the days
of Noah, so . . . at the coming of the Son of ManWith
God directing mortality, the worlds history (especially
divinely-directed history) repeats itself. In spite of all the
destruction and calamities that will precede Jesus’ Sec-
ond Coming, people will continue to go about their lives
as they did before the great ood in Noahs day.
12
I’m sure
those people initially saw the extra heavy rain as only
an annoyance, and not as something life-threatening. In
2004, President Gordon B. Hinckley equated our times
with the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah.
13
We also
have received an apostolic warning as recently as April
2019 General Conference, “Let us be about building up
Zion to hasten that day.
14
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:46–48 “What I say unto one, I say unto all . . . watch . . . in such an hour, ye think
notJesus repeatedly instructs His disciples to watch until the end (Matthew 28:19–20; Luke 21:32; Acts 2:16).
Many met their end at the end of their lives, not the nal destruction of the wicked. In that case, they will be
those angels who join the Lord at His glorious coming (Revelation 6:12, 18). Whenever we meet the Lord, the
counsel “to watch” calls for active engagement. Rather than passively wait for His timing, the Lord asks disciples
to actively wait by becoming spiritually stronger. Our preparation is aecting God’s timing. e righteous saints
can help shorten the destruction (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:20–21).
2. The Parable of the Servants
Matthew 24:43–51; Mark 13:34
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:49–50 “a faithful and wise servant . . . shall nd so doing” To be ready for the
Lord, we must be serving God. e “wise” in the scripture are those men who traveled far and sacriced much
to worship the toddler Jesus. e wise are also described as those who build their foundation on the rock of our
Redeemer (Helaman 5:12). Now the wise servants are those who are faithful and who are doing the Lords work.
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:51–54 “that evil servant shall say . . . My lord delayeth his coming . . . appoint
him his portion with the hypocrites . . . is group are still “servants” or disciples of God. People who have
Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni via Pixabay
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feigned allegiance to serve God, but have not maintained His image in their countenance, mind, and heart. If we
lose faith in God’s plan, do not see His hand in the unfolding of the world, or become self-centered—eating and
drinking without attention to God’s plan—then we may fall into this category. e Lord warns that frivolity and
pleasure now will be met with weeping at the Judgement.
Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:55 “thus cometh the end of the wicked . . . not yet, but by and by” Although Jesus
just admitted that He did not know the exact timing of His return, He did know, like the ripening g, that it was
not time for the harvest yet. However, we live in a day when our prophet has warned us that the time is short.
As President of His Church, I plead with you . . . [to] do the spiritual work to nd out for yourselves, and please
do it now. Time is running out.
15
3. Parable of the Ten Virgins
Matthew 25:1–13; also referenced in D&C 33; 45; 63; 88; 132:62–63; 133
Jesus wants to emphasize that His disciples will need to prepare as they wait for His Second Coming, so He illus-
trates it with two powerful parables: e Ten Virgins and e Talents. In the Doctrine and Covenants, there are
two revelations that reference the parable of e Talents (D&C 60:2, 13; 80:18), and six revelations that cite the
Ten Virgins (D&C 33:16–17; 45:56–57; 63:54). is is more than any other parable. It conrms the modern need
to understand the parable of the Ten Virgins as we prepare for Jesus’ great Second Coming.
Matthew 25:1 “the kingdom of heaven In the NT, this three-word phrase is exclusive to Matthew, who uses it
32 times. e phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” is found in the Book of Mormon and the D&C, but no other author
uses it in the Bible. e other Gospels all use the phrase, “Kingdom of God,” when introducing other parables or
teachings. It appears that Matthew does not want to not overuse the name “God.
. . . likened unto ten virgins . . . to meet the bridegroom
16
e main character of this parable is the bride-
groom; symbolically, He is the Son of God. When we look at the parable symbolically, the ten virgins and bride
represent the church or Gods chosen, covenant people. In the Old Testament, Zion and Jerusalem represented
the bride of Jehovah. is symbolism stemmed from Isaiah 62:5, “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so
shall thy God rejoice over thee.” is image of marriage was carried further, so that whenever the Israelites broke
their covenant with God for idolatry or sins, the Old Testament referred to it as “adultery.” (See also Isaiah 50:1;
62:5; Jeremiah 3:8; Hosea 2:2–5.) A “bill of divorcement” was spoken of when Gods people broke their covenant
(Isaiah 50:1; Jeremiah 3:8).
Jesus’ parable incorporates part of the wedding festivities that occurred at that time. Aer the wedding was
arranged, the families held a betrothal ceremony. en about a year later, family and friends gathered the nal
wedding ceremony. A week of feasting usually took place at the home of the groom. Aer everything was pre-
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pared, his family and friends formed a processional to escort the bride from her home to his. e procession of
townspeople sang, danced, and carried torches, as they paraded to and from the brides home.
In the meantime, the young brides closest companions (usually between 12 and 15 years of age) prepared her by
helping her bathe, dress, put on perfume, and prepare her hair. is was the only public exposure of her hair for
the rest of her life. Aer her wedding, she must always wear a veil over her head and face in public.
17
Both the
bride and groom wore a wreath or gold headdress.
Once the processional returned to the grooms home, the nal ceremony began. e groom gave his bride a ring
and completed their wedding vows: “You will be my wife according to the law of Moses.”
18
Aer the ceremony,
the bride moved into the grooms family home for a few years until they were old enough to nancially live on
their own.
19
Matthew 25:2 “ve . . . wise, and ve . . . foolish Jesus’ story-telling grabs attention immediately. His simple
well-known images have an unusual or new twist that draws in the reader to listen more closely. His labels
e Parable of Wise and Foolish Virgins (unnished) by Peter von Cornelius, 1813. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
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immediately engage the listeners to wonder what makes one wise and anther foolish. Elder Dallin Oaks used this
parable in General Conference to encourage us to prepare for the Second Coming.
20
Elder Marvin J. Ashton taught, ‘ey were not pagans, heathens, or gentiles, nor were they known as corrupt
or lost, but rather they were informed people who had the saving exalting gospel in their possession but had not
made it the center of their lives. ey knew the way, but they were foolishly unprepared for the coming of the
bridegroom . . . ey have been warned their entire lives.’ . . . ese are cautionary tales to all disciples: look to
your own life and behaviors.
21
Matthew 25:3–4 “foolish took their lamps and took no oil . . . the wise took oil” When going out at night, the
cultural practice of the day required one to bring a small, clay lamp full of oil, and prudent people kept another
small ask or vessel of extra oil.
“vessels”e KJV uses a vessel of oil, others translate it as ask, jar, or container (ESV, NIV, GNT). John W.
Welch points out that the Greek word, aggeiois, is also used for blood vessels.
22
Taking this image a step further,
like the blood vessels, the vessels of oil can represent our need to internalize the oil of the Spirit, so that it can
run through our whole being to give us light and direction.
“oil e oil is identied as the Holy Ghost in D&C 45:56–57; “ey are wise and have received of the truth
and have taken the Holy Spirit as their guide and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not
be hewn down and cast into the re, but shall abide the day” (also see 1 Samuel 16:13, the anointing of David).
Olive oil was a basic staple of life in Israel at the time of Jesus. e rst pressings of oil were used in temple
sacrices and ritual purication. Moses and his predecessors made consecrated or “Holy oil” for anointing the
Tabernacle, priests, kings, prophets, alters, and in preparing the Passover lambs. As mentioned previously, Jesus
title, “Christ” is translated into English as the “Anointed One,” or as “Messiah” in Hebrew. Jesus is the agent of
the at-one-ment, but the Holy Ghost is the medium of the atonement. In early Christianity, olive oil symbolized
the Spirit (Acts 10:38; 1 John 2:20).
Matthew 25:5–6 “the bridegroom tarried, they . . . slept. And at midnight . . . e bridegroom is so much
later than expected that everyone falls asleep. Allegorically, the Savior’s Second Coming has been expected by
diverse groups of Christians for nearly two thousand years. Even though Jesus did not know when His Second
Coming would happen (Mark 13:32), the parable teaches that it would be later than expected. Each generation,
though, will go to see their maker, so Jesus warned that all need to “take ye heed,watchandpray: for yeknownot
when the time is” (Mark 13:33).
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Matthew 25:7 “. . . arose, and trimmed their lamps is verse is referenced and elaborated in D&C 33:16–17;
e power of my Spirit quickeneth all things wherefore be faithful, praying always having your lamps trimmed
and burning and oil with you that you may be ready at the coming of the bridegroom.” Living the Gospel of Jesus
is more than not doing wrong, it is actively doing those things that ll us with the Spirit of God. It is the anointing
of the Spirit which brings us to Christ through the power of the at-one-ment.
Matthew 25:8 “Give us your oil” is verse can be confusing. As a people who try to share our goods and give
to those in need, this may sound selsh or startling. I have asked myself, “Why not share a little oil, even if you
only have an ounce or two? at is what the widow of Nain did for Elijah, right?” But Jesus’ oil is not the same.
What the Lord is talking about cannot be shared. President Spencer Kimball explained:
e kind of oil which is needed to illuminate the way, light up the darkness is not shareable. How can
one share a tithing receipt; a peace of mind from righteous living; an accumulation of knowledge? How
can one share faith or testimony? How can one share attitudes or chastity, or a mission? How can one
share temple privileges and security? Each one must obtain that kind of oil for himself.
23
is oil or spirituality must be experienced and developed individually (D&C 122:7). We must cultivate our
e Parable of e Talents by Willem de Poorter. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
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own level of faith and testimony. In this sense, to carry an empty vessel is to have church membership without
covenants, obedience, or the Spirit. We deceive ourselves if we think we are complete when our spiritual vessels
are empty.
Matthew 25:9 “buy for yourselves Olive oil was readily available as a basic staple—it was used in the temples,
as food, for light, and as body oils. e problem with availability is the hour of the night.
Matthew 25:10 “while they went to buy, the bridegroom came e lamps (symbolic of ones covenants, or the
testimony of church members) may at one time have been able to give light, but without the oil or Spirit, they
could not be rekindled. e Greek word used for “shut/kleio” is the same word Josephus used to describe the
state of mind of the Jews who came to Jerusalem for the Passover and for refuge two years before the city was
destroyed. ereby showing that…
Matthew 25:12 “Ye know me not” (JST) e JST makes a substantial change in the message. e dierence is
understanding the character of the God we worship. Our God always knows us: it is we who do not know Him
(also see D&C 6:14, 20–22; D&C 121–122:7; Romans 5:4; 8:37–39; etc.).
4. Parable of the Talents
Matthew 25:14–30
Matthew 25:14 “. . . called his own servants and delivered unto them . . . is parable continues with the
same theme phrase as many past parables that refer to the Judgment and Second Coming of the Lord. However,
it is italicized which means it is not in the Greek text, but rather is assumed to follow the earlier well-established
pattern. Jesus begins with a man traveling to a far country referring to the second estate (i.e. mortal life) of God’s
plan of salvation for His children. Jesus will no longer live among His people but will delegate to others. He asks
His servants to do as he did and minister to others.
Matthew 25:15 “ve talents, to another two, and to another one A talent was the most expensive quantity of
money, a monetary weight or coin (the modern word denition did not gain its meaning of “abilities” until the
Middle Ages—perhaps from this parable). Historians surmise dierent values for the monies. One estimate is
that one talent was worth een years of labor for a servant/slave. Another suggests that one talent was worth
6,000 denarii, with one denari worth a day’s wages. Also, two denarii provided a man and his family one day’s
living.
us, 1 talent provided 3,000 days of living for an entire family, or nearly a decade. Remember in the Greco-
Roman world, household slaves were oen given money at the end of their service to start up on their own.
ese dierent amounts may have represented the dierent amount of years each slave worked.
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Matthew 25:16 “traded . . . and gained other ve (JST) ose who are able to use these blessings are able to
double their worth for the kingdom. In D&C 82:18–21 the Lord declared that improving our talents is directly
related to how we conduct ourselves in our stewardship responsibilities.
Matthew 25:21, 23, “well done good and faithful servant God’s love will bless the Judgement with mercy, but
His judgments will reect how well we have carried out our stewardships. It is dicult in the modern western
culture to really understand the master-servant relationship. By using some creative thinking though, we should
be able to realize that it means to be a steward and servant. We have the Lords example as He took on the role of
a slave to wash others feet, heal, feed, clothe, and comfort everyone who asked for help; we should do likewise.
Matthew 25:26, 30 “slothful servant . . . outer darkness ... weeping and gnashing of teeth represents a place
for the un-repentant. (See D&C 76:44, 103,109; 85:9, 101:81–91.) e story begs an application of stewardship
responsibilities. It also speaks of repentance.
Jesus will Judge the World
Matthew 25:31–46
Matthew 25:31–33 “as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goatsJesus associates His judgement with a
pastoral scene of a shepherd in the eld separating his animals, not a cold, foreign room where an austere gure
demands respect and silence. He will also have His closest friends helping with the task of making sure everyone
goes where they desire.
Matthew 25:34–40 “as ye have done it unto one of the last of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me
e blessing of serving those around us is doubly magnied on Gods judgement day. In addition to helping the
stranger, naked, hungry, and prisoners, we have also helped our God. His work is to redeem, feed and clothe,
so even without realizing it, those who oer loving service on any level, are serving God. His work and glory
become ours.
Header Image: e Prophecy of the Destruction of the Temple by James Tissot, 1899.
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ENDNOTES
1. 2 Nephi 11:4; 25:20; Mosiah 3:15; 13:30-33; 16:13; Alma 25:15; 33:19-21; 34:14; 37:38-40; Ether 13:6; etc.
2. Cyrus Adler, ed., Jewish Encyclopedia (NYC, NY: Funk and Wagnalls, 1906), George A. Barton, “Temple of Herod.” “e
Jews were loath to have their Temple pulled down, fearing lest it might not be rebuilt. To demonstrate his good faith,
Herod accumulated the materials for the new building before the old one was taken down. e new Temple was rebuilt
as rapidly as possible, being nished in a year and a half, although work was in progress on the out-buildings and courts
for eighty years.
3. Josephus, Jewish War, V.5.1; VI.1.3; VI.2.6; and Antiquities of the Jews, XV.11.3, 5; and Bellum Judaicum, v. 5, 5; etc.
4. Adler, ed., Jewish Encyclopedia, “Temple of Herod.” It is known as the Soreg inscription. A portion of it is found in the
Istanbul Archaeology Museum.
5. Talmud—Bava Basra 4.
6. Several verses address the Lords Second Coming, including: D&C 19:11; 29:14-21; 45; 49:7, 22; 76:63; 88:87-91; 88:95,
99,104; 128:24; 130:1; 14; 133:2, 20, 46, 125; Isaiah 13:9-11; 40:3-5; 45:23; 49:11; 52:10; 60:2; 63:1; Daniel 7:13; Joel 3:16;
Micah 1:3; Zechariah 12:10; 13:6; 13:6; 14:4; Malachi 3:2; Matthew 24; Jude 1:14; Revelation 1:7; 3:11; 6:12, 17-18; 8:1;
and LDS scriptures’ Topical Guide.
7. Peter: Crucied upside-down in Rome, ca. AD 64; James son of Zebedee: beheaded ca. AD 44; Andrew: crucied; Philip:
crucied ca. AD 54; Bartholomew: crucied; Matthew: halberd ca. AD 60; omas: spear; James son of Alphaeus:
beaten by club, aer crucied and stoned; Jude: crucied; Simon the Zealot: crucied ca. AD 7.
8. Large cities had synagogues with multiple scrolls, but smaller towns could only aord the rst ve books of Moses and
the Psalms. Aer those six the next most common biblical scroll available at the time of Jesus was Isaiah.
9. Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, Reprint
1844, 1980), 4.266. e Prophet Joseph Smith endorsed and published the following address by Brigham Yong on the
subject: “is is the election that we believe in . . . in the words of the beloved Peter and Paul, we would exhort you to
“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His
good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12, 13); ‘Giving all diligence to make your calling and election sure’ (2 Peter 1:10); for this is that
sealing power spoken of in Ephesians (1:13, 14)—“in whom ye also trusted, aer that ye heard the word of truth; the
gospel of your salvation, in whom also, aer that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise, which is
the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, until the praise of His glory” (2 Peter
1:11); “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ.” Also see another sermon by Joseph on the subject in: Andrew Ehat and Lindon Cook, Words of Joseph
Smith: e Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Smith (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center,
Brigham Young University, 1990), 334
10. Smith, History, 5.215–216. “If any person should ask me if I were a prophet, I should not deny it, as that would give
me the lie; for, according to John, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; therefore if I profess to be a witness
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or teacher, and have not the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus, I must be a false witness; but if I be a
true teacher and witness, I must possess the spirit of prophecy, and that constitutes a prophet
11. Early American Christians from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries also expected an eminent Second Coming
(especially the 20,000 Millerites who gathered for the event in 1844, only to be very disappointed).
12. President omas S. Monson, General Conference, October 2011, quoted Pres. Benson as saying, “While this genera-
tion will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by ood, there is a
major dierence this time: [it is that] God has saved for the nal inning some of His strongest … children, who will
help bear o the kingdom triumphantly.” Two and a half decades ago, at April 1993 General Conference, Elder Neal
A. Maxwell said, “Just as foretold, our days actually are fast resembling the days of Noah, especially notable for their
pattern of corruption and violence.”
13. President Gordon B. Hinckley, Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, 10 Jan. 2004, 20.I do not know that things were
worse in the times of Sodom and Gomorrah. … We see similar conditions today. ey prevail all across the world. I
think our Father must weep as He looks down upon His wayward sons and daughters.
14. D. Todd Christoerson, General Conference, April 2019. e Spirit made clear to me that e Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints is uniquely empowered and commissioned to accomplish the necessary preparations for the Lords
Second Coming; indeed, it was restored for that purpose. Can you nd anywhere else a people who embrace the pres-
ent era as the prophesied ‘dispensation of the fulness of times,’ in which God has purposed to ‘gather together in one all
things in Christ’? . . . is great and last dispensation is building steadily to its climax—Zion on earth being joined with
Zion from above at the Savior’s glorious return. e Church of Jesus Christ is commissioned to prepare—and is prepar-
ing—the world for that day.
15. Russell M. Nelson, General Conference, April 2019.
16. In the Aramaic manuscript of this chapter it ends with “went to meet the groom and the bride” (ABPE), but most only
include meeting the groom
17. Mishnah, Ketuboth 2.1; “She went forth [to the marriage] in a litter and with hair unbound . . .” (brackets in Danby’s
translation). Skolnik, Encyclopedia Judaica, 13.565; “Until the destruction of the temple both the bride and groom
wore distinctive headdresses, sometimes of gold.
18. Ken Campbell, ed., Marriage and Family in the Biblical World (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003),190,
206. A typical marriage contract or ketubah read as follows: “This ketubah before God and man that on this . . . day .
. . the holy covenant of marriage was entered between bride-groom and his bride, at . . . Duly conscious of the solemn
obligation of marriage the bridegroom consecrated to me as my wife according to the laws and traditions of Moses and
Israel. I will love, honor, and cherish you; I will protect and support you; and I will faithfully care for your needs, as
prescribed by Jewish law and tradition.” The bride made the following declaration to the groom: “In accepting the wed-
ding ring I pledge you all my love and devotion and I take upon myself the fulllment of all the duties incumbent upon
a Jewish wife.” Neusner, ed, Judaism in the Biblical Period, 411. Wednesdays were chosen as the day for a virgin’s
wedding. “This is explained in the Babylonian Talmud by the fact that the court sat on Thursdays and thus if the groom
claimed that the bride had not been a virgin he could immediately complain to the court.” Thursday was the wedding
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day for a widow so that her husband could devote three days to her before he returned to work. Skolnik, Encyclopedia
Judaica, 13.566.
19. For more see, Lynne Hilton Wilson, Christ’s Emancipation of New Testament Women (Palo Alto, CA: GP, 2015), chap-
ter 4.
20. Dallin Oaks, “Preparation for the Second Coming,General Conference, April 2004.
21. John W. and Jeannie Welch, The Parables of Jesus: Revealing the Plan of Salvation (American Fork, UT: Covenant
Communications, 2019), 143.
22. Welch, The Parables of Jesus, 142. “From it we get the English word angiogram, an X-ray procedure for the detection
of blockages in blood vessels.”
23. Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle(SLC, UT: Deseret Book, 1972), 253–256.