J.B. Phillips New Testament
25 1-13 “In those days the kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were sensible and five were foolish. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. But the sensible ones brought their lamps and oil in their flasks as well. Then, as the bridegroom was a very long time, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But in the middle of the night there came a shout, ‘Wake up, here comes the bridegroom! Out you go to meet him!” Then up got the bridesmaids and attended to their lamps. The foolish ones said to the sensible ones, ‘Please give us some of your oil—our lamps are going out!’ ‘Oh no,’ returned the sensible ones, ‘there might not be enough for all of us. Better go to the oil-shop and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they had gone off to buy the oil the bridegroom arrived, and those bridesmaids who were ready went in with him for the festivities and the door was shut behind them. Later on the rest of the bridesmaids came and said, ‘Oh, please, sir, open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you I don’t know you!’ So be on the alert—for you do not know the day or the time.
Life is hard for the faint-hearted
14-15 “It is just like a man going abroad who called his household servants together before he went and handed his property to them to manage. He gave one five thousand pounds, another two thousand and another one thousand—according to their respective abilities. Then he went away.
16-18 “The man who had received five thousand pounds went out at once and by doing business with this sum he made another five thousand. Similarly the man with two thousand pounds made another two thousand. But the man who had received one thousand pounds went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19-23 “Some years later the master of these servants arrived and went into the accounts with them. The one who had the five thousand pounds came in and brought him an additional five thousand with the words, ‘You gave me five thousand pounds, sir; look, I’ve increased it by another five thousand.’ ‘Well done!’ said his master, ‘you’re a sound, reliable servant. You’ve been trustworthy over a few things, now I’m going to put you in charge of much more. Come in and share your master’s rejoicing.’ Then the servant who had received two thousand pounds came in and said, ‘You gave me two thousand pounds, sir; look, here’s two thousand more that I’ve managed to make by it.’ ‘Well done!’ said his master, ‘you’re a sound, reliable servant. You’ve been trustworthy over a few things, now I’m going to put you in charge of many. Come in and share your master’s pleasure.’
24-25 “Then the man who had received the one thousand pounds came in and said, ‘Sir, I always knew you were a hard man, reaping where you never sowed and collecting where you never laid out—so I was scared and I went off and hid your thousand pounds in the ground. Here is your money, intact.’
26-30 “‘You’re a wicked, lazy servant!’ his master told him. ‘You say you knew that I reap where I never sowed and collect where I never laid out? Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and when I came out I should at any rate have received what belongs to me with interest. Take his thousand pounds away from him and give it to the man who now has the ten thousand!’ (For the man who has something will have more given to him and will have plenty. But as for the man who has nothing, even his ‘nothing’ will be taken away.) ‘And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where he can weep and wail over his stupidity.’
The final judgment
31-33 “But when the Son of Man comes in his splendour with all his angels with him, then he will take his seat on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men from each other like a shepherd separating sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.
34-36 “Then the king will say to those on his right ‘Come, you who have won my Father’s blessing! Take your inheritance—the kingdom reserved for you since the foundation of the world! For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was lonely and you made me welcome. I was naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you came and looked after me. I was in prison and you came to see me there.”
37-39 “Then the true men will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food? When did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you lonely and make you welcome, or see you naked and clothe you, or see you ill or in prison and go to see you?’
40 “And the king will reply, ‘I assure you that whatever you did for the humblest of my brothers you did for me.’
41-43 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Out of my presence, cursed as you are, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was lonely and you never made me welcome. When I was naked you did nothing to clothe me; when I was sick and in prison you never cared about me.’
44 “Then they too will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry, or thirsty, or lonely, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and fail to look after you?’
45 “Then the king will answer them with these words, ‘I assure you that whatever you failed to do to the humblest of my brothers you failed to do to me.’
46 “And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the true men to eternal life.”