New American Bible (Revised Edition)
The Destruction of the Temple Foretold. 1 [a](A)Jesus left the temple area and was going away, when his disciples approached him to point out the temple buildings. 2 [b]He said to them in reply, “You see all these things, do you not? Amen, I say to you, there will not be left here a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
The Beginning of Calamities. 3 As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives,[c] the disciples approached him privately and said, “Tell us, when will this happen, and what sign will there be of your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 [d]Jesus said to them in reply, “See that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. 6 (B)You will hear of wars[e] and reports of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for these things must happen, but it will not yet be the end. 7 (C)Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be famines and earthquakes from place to place. 8 [f]All these are the beginning of the labor pains. 9 [g](D)Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10 And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; 12 and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. 13 (E)But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. 14 (F)And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations,[h] and then the end will come.
The Great Tribulation.[i] 15 (G)“When you see the desolating abomination[j] spoken of through Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then those in Judea must flee[k] to the mountains, 17 [l](H)a person on the housetop must not go down to get things out of his house, 18 a person in the field must not return to get his cloak. 19 Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days. 20 [m]Pray that your flight not be in winter or on the sabbath, 21 [n](I)for at that time there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will be. 22 And if those days had not been shortened, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect they will be shortened. 23 (J)If anyone says to you then, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 False messiahs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told it to you beforehand. 26 So if they say to you, ‘He is in the desert,’ do not go out there; if they say, ‘He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.[o] 27 (K)For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
30 (M)And then the sign of the Son of Man[q] will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 (N)And he will send out his angels[r] with a trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
The Lesson of the Fig Tree.[s] 32 “Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 In the same way, when you see all these things, know that he is near, at the gates. 34 Amen, I say to you, this generation[t] will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 35 (O)Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
The Unknown Day and Hour.[u] 36 (P)“But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[v] but the Father alone. 37 [w](Q)For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 In [those] days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. 39 They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be [also] at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 [x](R)Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. 42 [y](S)Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. 43 (T)Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. 44 So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
The Faithful or the Unfaithful Servant.[z] 45 (U)“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time?[aa] 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. 47 Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. 48 [ab]But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, 50 the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour 51 (V)and will punish him severely[ac] and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins.[ad] 1 “Then[ae] the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 [af]Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, 4 but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. 11 [ag](W)Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ 12 But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 (X)Therefore, stay awake,[ah] for you know neither the day nor the hour.
The Parable of the Talents.[ai] 14 (Y)“It will be as when a man who was going on a journey[aj] called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents;[ak] to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately 16 the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. 17 Likewise, the one who received two made another two. 18 [al]But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five.[am] He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ 21 (Z)His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ 22 [Then] the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; 25 so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ 26 His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant![an] So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? 28 Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. 29 [ao](AA)For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 [ap]And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
The Judgment of the Nations.[aq] 31 (AB)“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 (AC)and all the nations[ar] will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 (AD)For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous[as] will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 (AE)And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 [at](AF)Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 (AG)For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44 [au]Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ 46 (AH)And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
- 24:1–25:46 The discourse of the fifth book, the last of the five around which the gospel is structured. It is called the “eschatological” discourse since it deals with the coming of the new age (the eschaton) in its fullness, with events that will precede it, and with how the disciples are to conduct themselves while awaiting an event that is as certain as its exact time is unknown to all but the Father (Mt 24:36). The discourse may be divided into two parts, Mt 24:1–44 and Mt 24:45–25:46. In the first, Matthew follows his Marcan source (Mk 13:1–37) closely. The second is drawn from Q and from the evangelist’s own traditional material. Both parts show Matthew’s editing of his sources by deletions, additions, and modifications. The vigilant waiting that is emphasized in the second part does not mean a cessation of ordinary activity and concentration only on what is to come, but a faithful accomplishment of duties at hand, with awareness that the end, for which the disciples must always be ready, will entail the great judgment by which the everlasting destiny of all will be determined.
- 24:2 As in Mark, Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple. By omitting the Marcan story of the widow’s contribution (Mk 12:41–44) that immediately precedes the prediction in that gospel, Matthew has established a close connection between it and Mt 23:38, “…your house will be abandoned desolate.”
- 24:3 The Mount of Olives: see note on Mt 21:1. The disciples: cf. Mk 13:3–4 where only Peter, James, John, and Andrew put the question that is answered by the discourse. In both gospels, however, the question is put privately: the ensuing discourse is only for those who are disciples of Jesus. When will this happen…end of the age?: Matthew distinguishes carefully between the destruction of the temple (this) and the coming of Jesus that will bring the end of the age. In Mark the two events are more closely connected, a fact that may be explained by Mark’s believing that the one would immediately succeed the other. Coming: this translates the Greek word parousia, which is used in the gospels only here and in Mt 24:27, 37, 39. It designated the official visit of a ruler to a city or the manifestation of a saving deity, and it was used by Christians to refer to the final coming of Jesus in glory, a term first found in the New Testament with that meaning in 1 Thes 2:19. The end of the age: see note on Mt 13:39.
- 24:4–14 This section of the discourse deals with calamities in the world (Mt 24:6–7) and in the church (Mt 24:9–12). The former must happen before the end comes (Mt 24:6), but they are only the beginning of the labor pains (Mt 24:8). (It may be noted that the Greek word translated the end in Mt 24:6 and in Mt 24:13–14 is not the same as the phrase “the end of the age” in Mt 24:3, although the meaning is the same.) The latter are sufferings of the church, both from within and without, that will last until the gospel is preached…to all nations. Then the end will come and those who have endured the sufferings with fidelity will be saved (Mt 24:13–14).
- 24:6–7 The disturbances mentioned here are a commonplace of apocalyptic language, as is the assurance that they must happen (see Dn 2:28 LXX), for that is the plan of God. Kingdom against kingdom: see Is 19:2.
- 24:8 The labor pains: the tribulations leading up to the end of the age are compared to the pains of a woman about to give birth. There is much attestation for rabbinic use of the phrase “the woes (or birth pains) of the Messiah” after the New Testament period, but in at least one instance it is attributed to a rabbi who lived in the late first century A.D. In this Jewish usage it meant the distress of the time preceding the coming of the Messiah; here, the labor pains precede the coming of the Son of Man in glory.
- 24:9–12 Matthew has used Mk 13:9–12 in his missionary discourse (Mt 10:17–21) and omits it here. Besides the sufferings, including death, and the hatred of all nations that the disciples will have to endure, there will be worse affliction within the church itself. This is described in Mt 24:10–12, which are peculiar to Matthew. Will be led into sin: literally, “will be scandalized,” probably meaning that they will become apostates; see Mt 13:21 where “fall away” translates the same Greek word as here. Betray: in the Greek this is the same word as the hand over of Mt 24:9. The handing over to persecution and hatred from outside will have their counterpart within the church. False prophets: these are Christians; see note on Mt 7:15–20. Evildoing: see Mt 7:23. Because of the apocalyptic nature of much of this discourse, the literal meaning of this description of the church should not be pressed too hard. However, there is reason to think that Matthew’s addition of these verses reflects in some measure the condition of his community.
- 24:14 Except for the last part (and then the end will come), this verse substantially repeats Mk 13:10. The Matthean addition raises a problem since what follows in Mt 24:15–23 refers to the horrors of the First Jewish Revolt including the destruction of the temple, and Matthew, writing after that time, knew that the parousia of Jesus was still in the future. A solution may be that the evangelist saw the events of those verses as foreshadowing the cosmic disturbances that he associates with the parousia (Mt 24:29) so that the period in which the former took place could be understood as belonging to the end.
- 24:15–28 Cf. Mk 13:14–23; Lk 17:23–24, 37. A further stage in the tribulations that will precede the coming of the Son of Man, and an answer to the question of Mt 24:3a, “when will this (the destruction of the temple) happen?”
- 24:15 The desolating abomination: in 167 B.C. the Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the temple by setting up in it a statue of Zeus Olympios (see 1 Mc 1:54). That event is referred to in Dn 12:11 LXX as the “desolating abomination” (NAB “horrible abomination”) and the same Greek term is used here; cf. also Dn 9:27; 11:31. Although the desecration had taken place before Daniel was written, it is presented there as a future event, and Matthew sees that “prophecy” fulfilled in the desecration of the temple by the Romans. In the holy place: the temple; more precise than Mark’s where he should not (Mk 13:14). Let the reader understand: this parenthetical remark, taken from Mk 13:14 invites the reader to realize the meaning of Daniel’s “prophecy.”
- 24:16 The tradition that the Christians of Jerusalem fled from that city to Pella, a city of Transjordan, at the time of the First Jewish Revolt is found in Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History, 3:5:3), who attributes the flight to “a certain oracle given by revelation before the war.” The tradition is not improbable but the Matthean command, derived from its Marcan source, is vague in respect to the place of flight (to the mountains), although some scholars see it as applicable to the flight to Pella.
- 24:17–19 Haste is essential, and the journey will be particularly difficult for women who are burdened with unborn or infant children.
- 24:20 On the sabbath: this addition to in winter (cf. Mk 13:18) has been understood as an indication that Matthew was addressed to a church still observing the Mosaic law of sabbath rest and the scribal limitations upon the length of journeys that might lawfully be made on that day. That interpretation conflicts with Matthew’s view on sabbath observance (cf. Mt 12:1–14). The meaning of the addition may be that those undertaking on the sabbath a journey such as the one here ordered would be offending the sensibilities of law-observant Jews and would incur their hostility.
- 24:21 For the unparalleled distress of that time, see Dn 12:1.
- 24:26–28 Claims that the Messiah is to be found in some distant or secret place must be ignored. The coming of the Son of Man will be as clear as lightning is to all and as the corpse of an animal is to vultures; cf. Lk 17:24, 37. Here there is clear identification of the Son of Man and the Messiah; cf. Mt 24:23.
- 24:29 The answer to the question of Mt 24:3b, “What will be the sign of your coming?” Immediately after…those days: the shortening of time between the preceding tribulation and the parousia has been explained as Matthew’s use of a supposed device of Old Testament prophecy whereby certainty that a predicted event will occur is expressed by depicting it as imminent. While it is questionable that that is an acceptable understanding of the Old Testament predictions, it may be applicable here, for Matthew knew that the parousia had not come immediately after the fall of Jerusalem, and it is unlikely that he is attributing a mistaken calculation of time to Jesus. The sun…be shaken: cf. Is 13:10, 13.
- 24:30 The sign of the Son of Man: perhaps this means the sign that is the glorious appearance of the Son of Man; cf. Mt 12:39–40 where “the sign of Jonah” is Jonah’s being in the “belly of the whale.” Tribes of the earth will mourn: peculiar to Matthew; cf. Zec 12:12–14. Coming upon the clouds…glory: cf. Dn 7:13, although there the “one like a son of man” comes to God to receive kingship; here the Son of Man comes from heaven for judgment.
- 24:31 Send out his angels: cf. Mt 13:41 where they are sent out to collect the wicked for punishment. Trumpet blast: cf. Is 27:13; 1 Thes 4:16.
- 24:32–35 Cf. Mk 13:28–31.
- 24:34 The difficulty raised by this verse cannot be satisfactorily removed by the supposition that this generation means the Jewish people throughout the course of their history, much less the entire human race. Perhaps for Matthew it means the generation to which he and his community belonged.
- 24:36–44 The statement of Mt 24:34 is now counterbalanced by one that declares that the exact time of the parousia is known only to the Father (Mt 24:36), and the disciples are warned to be always ready for it. This section is drawn from Mark and Q (cf. Lk 17:26–27, 34–35; 12:39–40).
- 24:36 Many textual witnesses omit nor the Son, which follows Mk 13:32. Since its omission can be explained by reluctance to attribute this ignorance to the Son, the reading that includes it is probably original.
- 24:37–39 Cf. Lk 17:26–27. In the days of Noah: the Old Testament account of the flood lays no emphasis upon what is central for Matthew, i.e., the unexpected coming of the flood upon those who were unprepared for it.
- 24:40–41 Cf. Lk 17:34–35. Taken…left: the former probably means taken into the kingdom; the latter, left for destruction. People in the same situation will be dealt with in opposite ways. In this context, the discrimination between them will be based on their readiness for the coming of the Son of Man.
- 24:42–44 Cf. Lk 12:39–40. The theme of vigilance and readiness is continued with the bold comparison of the Son of Man to a thief who comes to break into a house.
- 24:45–51 The second part of the discourse (see note on Mt 24:1–25:46) begins with this parable of the faithful or unfaithful servant; cf. Lk 12:41–46. It is addressed to the leaders of Matthew’s church; the servant has been put in charge of his master’s household (Mt 24:45) even though that household is composed of those who are his fellow servants (Mt 24:49).
- 24:45 To distribute…proper time: readiness for the master’s return means a vigilance that is accompanied by faithful performance of the duty assigned.
- 24:48 My master…delayed: the note of delay is found also in the other parables of this section; cf. Mt 25:5, 19.
- 24:51 Punish him severely: the Greek verb, found in the New Testament only here and in the Lucan parallel (Lk 12:46), means, literally, “cut in two.” With the hypocrites: see note on Mt 6:2. Matthew classes the unfaithful Christian leader with the unbelieving leaders of Judaism. Wailing and grinding of teeth: see note on Mt 8:11–12.
- 25:1–13 Peculiar to Matthew.
- 25:1 Then: at the time of the parousia. Kingdom…will be like: see note on Mt 13:24–30.
- 25:2–4 Foolish…wise: cf. the contrasted “wise man” and “fool” of Mt 7:24, 26 where the two are distinguished by good deeds and lack of them, and such deeds may be signified by the oil of this parable.
- 25:11–12 Lord, Lord: cf. Mt 7:21. I do not know you: cf. Mt 7:23 where the Greek verb is different but synonymous.
- 25:13 Stay awake: some scholars see this command as an addition to the original parable of Matthew’s traditional material, since in Mt 25:5 all the virgins, wise and foolish, fall asleep. But the wise virgins are adequately equipped for their task, and stay awake may mean no more than to be prepared; cf. Mt 24:42, 44.
- 25:14–30 Cf. Lk 19:12–27.
- 25:14 It will be as when…journey: literally, “For just as a man who was going on a journey.” Although the comparison is not completed, the sense is clear; the kingdom of heaven is like the situation here described. Faithful use of one’s gifts will lead to participation in the fullness of the kingdom, lazy inactivity to exclusion from it.
- 25:15 Talents: see note on Mt 18:24.
- 25:18 Buried his master’s money: see note on Mt 13:44.
- 25:20–23 Although the first two servants have received and doubled large sums, their faithful trading is regarded by the master as fidelity in small matters only, compared with the great responsibilities now to be given to them. The latter are unspecified. Share your master’s joy: probably the joy of the banquet of the kingdom; cf. Mt 8:11.
- 25:26–28 Wicked, lazy servant: this man’s inactivity is not negligible but seriously culpable. As punishment, he loses the gift he had received, that is now given to the first servant, whose possessions are already great.
- 25:29 See note on Mt 13:12 where there is a similar application of this maxim.
- 25:30 See note on Mt 8:11–12.
- 25:31–46 The conclusion of the discourse, which is peculiar to Matthew, portrays the final judgment that will accompany the parousia. Although often called a “parable,” it is not really such, for the only parabolic elements are the depiction of the Son of Man as a shepherd and of the righteous and the wicked as sheep and goats, respectively (Mt 25:32–33). The criterion of judgment will be the deeds of mercy that have been done for the least of Jesus’ brothers (Mt 25:40). A difficult and important question is the identification of these least brothers. Are they all people who have suffered hunger, thirst, etc. (Mt 25:35, 36) or a particular group of such sufferers? Scholars are divided in their response and arguments can be made for either side. But leaving aside the problem of what the traditional material that Matthew edited may have meant, it seems that a stronger case can be made for the view that in the evangelist’s sense the sufferers are Christians, probably Christian missionaries whose sufferings were brought upon them by their preaching of the gospel. The criterion of judgment for all the nations is their treatment of those who have borne to the world the message of Jesus, and this means ultimately their acceptance or rejection of Jesus himself; cf. Mt 10:40, “Whoever receives you, receives me.” See note on Mt 16:27.
- 25:32 All the nations: before the end the gospel will have been preached throughout the world (Mt 24:14); thus the Gentiles will be judged on their response to it. But the phrase all the nations includes the Jews also, for at the judgment “the Son of Man…will repay everyone according to his conduct” (Mt 16:27).
- 25:37–40 The righteous will be astonished that in caring for the needs of the sufferers they were ministering to the Lord himself. One of these least brothers of mine: cf. Mt 10:42.
- 25:41 Fire prepared…his angels: cf. 1 Enoch 10:13 where it is said of the evil angels and Semyaza, their leader, “In those days they will lead them into the bottom of the fire—and in torment—in the prison (where) they will be locked up forever.”
- 25:44–45 The accursed (Mt 25:41) will be likewise astonished that their neglect of the sufferers was neglect of the Lord and will receive from him a similar answer.