discreet: The Greek word used here conveys the idea of understanding associated with insight, forethought, discernment, prudence, and wisdom in a practical sense. The same Greek word is used at Mt 7:24 and 25:2, 4, 8, 9. The Septuagint uses this word at Ge 41:33, 39 regarding Joseph.
discreet: Or “wise.”
put their lamps in order: Evidently referring to what needed to be done, including trimming the wicks and adding oil so that the lamps would burn brightly.
Keep on the watch: The Greek term has the basic meaning “stay (keep) awake,” but in many contexts it means “be on guard; be watchful.” Matthew uses this term at Mt 24:43; 25:13; 26:38, 40, 41. At Mt 24:44, he connects it with the need to be “ready.”
keep on the watch: Lit., “stay awake.” Jesus had emphasized the need for his disciples to stay awake spiritually because of not knowing the day and hour of his coming. (See study notes on Mt 24:42; 25:13) He repeats that exhortation here and again at Mt 26:41, where he links staying awake spiritually with persevering in prayer. Similar exhortations are found throughout the Christian Greek Scriptures, showing that spiritual alertness is vital for true Christians.
talents: A Greek talent was, not a coin, but a unit of weight and money. One Greek silver talent equaled 20.4 kg (654 oz t) and was worth approximately 6,000 drachmas or Roman denarii. It was the equivalent of about 20 years’ wages for a common laborer.
money: Lit., “silver,” that is, silver used as money.
hid your talent in the ground: Evidence of this practice is seen in the large quantities of valuables and coins unearthed by both archaeologists and farmers in Bible lands.
bankers . . . interest: During the first century C.E., moneylenders, or bankers, were prominent in Israel and surrounding nations. The Law forbade the Israelites from charging interest on loans to needy fellow Jews (Ex 22:25), but interest was specifically allowed on loans to foreigners, likely for business ventures (De 23:20). In Jesus’ day, it was evidently common to receive interest on funds deposited with moneylenders.
gnashing of their teeth: Or “grinding (clenching) their teeth.” The expression can include the idea of anguish, despair, and anger, possibly accompanied by bitter words and violent action.
gnashing of his teeth: See study note on Mt 8:12.
Son of man: Or “Son of a human.” This expression occurs about 80 times in the Gospels. Jesus used it to refer to himself, evidently emphasizing that he was truly human, born from a woman, and that he was a fitting human counterpart to Adam, having the power to redeem humankind from sin and death. (Ro 5:12, 14-15) The same expression also identified Jesus as the Messiah, or the Christ.
on his right hand . . . on his left: In some contexts, both positions indicate honor and authority (Mt 20:21, 23), but the place of greatest honor is always on the right (Ps 110:1; Ac 7:55, 56; Ro 8:34). However, here and at Mt 25:34, 41, there is a clear contrast between the place of favor at the King’s right hand and that of disfavor at his left.
inherit: The basic meaning of the Greek verb is for an heir to receive something as a right, often because of relationship, such as a son receiving an inheritance from his father. (Ga 4:30) But here, as in most occurrences in the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term is used in the broader sense of receiving something as a reward from God.
the Kingdom: In the Bible, the term “kingdom” is used in several different ways, including “the region or country governed by a king,” “kingly power,” “a realm,” and “being ruled by a king.” Here it is evidently used in the sense of receiving the benefits or blessings of being ruled by God’s Kingdom and enjoying life within its realm.
founding of the world: The Greek word for “founding” is rendered “to conceive” at Heb 11:11, where it is used with “offspring.” Here used in the expression “founding of the world,” it apparently refers to the conception and birth of children born to Adam and Eve. Jesus associates “the founding of the world” with Abel, evidently the first redeemable human of the world of mankind whose name was written in the scroll of life from “the founding of the world.”
naked: Or “not sufficiently dressed.” The Greek word gy·mnosʹ can have the meaning “lightly clad; in the undergarment only.”
Truly: Greek, a·menʹ, a transliteration of the Hebrew ʼa·menʹ, meaning “so be it,” or “surely.” Jesus frequently uses this expression to preface a statement, a promise, or a prophecy, thereby emphasizing its absolute truthfulness and reliability. Jesus’ use of “truly,” or amen, in this way is said to be unique in sacred literature. When repeated in succession (a·menʹ a·menʹ), as is the case throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus’ expression is translated “most truly.”
brothers: The plural form of the Greek word for “brother” can refer to both men and women.
cutting-off: That is, from life. The Greek word koʹla·sis is used of “pruning” or “lopping off” needless branches from trees. This “cutting-off” would be “everlasting,” since the person would be cut off from life with no hope of a resurrection.
A farmer used a winnowing shovel to hurl threshed grain into the air. The heavy grain fell to the floor, and the lighter chaff blew away in the breeze. He repeated the action over and over until all the grain was separated.