Too Long Delayed?: Kenneth Bailey on the parable of the young women in Matthew 25

This past Sunday in my message, “Keep Your Lamps Lit,” I mentioned some insights from Kenneth E. Bailey about the parable of the ten young women and their lamps related to the wedding banquet. If you’re not familiar with Bailey’s work, particularly his book Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies on the Gospels, I strongly recommend you take a look.

Bailey, a New Testament scholar who lived most of his life in the Middle East, describes the scene of Jesus’ parable in this way:

The scene focuses on preparations for a wedding banquet that is to take place in the home of the groom. A great crowd of family and friends fills the house and pours out into the street in front of the dwelling. As the crowd is gathering, the groom and several close friends are making their way to the home of the bride, which is assumed to be across town or in a nearby village. From there the groom collects his bride and escorts her back to his family home, where the crowd awaits and the marriage feast will be held….When she [the bride] was ready, she would be placed on the back of a riding animal, and the groom, with his friends, would form a disorganized, exuberant parade. This happy group would take the longest possible route back to the groom’s home deliberately, wandering through as many streets of the village as possible so that most of the populace could see and cheer them as they passed. 

“In traditional village life in the Middle East, weddings would take place during the seven months of the hot and cloudless summer. At the groom’s home some of the crowd would therefore wait in the street as they anticipate the arrival of the meandering wedding party.”[1]


[1] Kenneth E. Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 271-272.

Keep Your Lamps Lit

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our new series entitled “The Beginning of the End.” This series explores the resurrection of Jesus in tandem with some of Jesus’ teaching about the fall of Jerusalem and the end of all time. This weekend I preached from Matthew 25:1-13, a curious parable about being prepared for the arrival of Christ.

This message is from the tenth and final part of our longer journey through the Gospel of Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” “Stories of the Kingdom,” “Who Do You Say I Am?“, “‘Tis the Reason,” “Jesus Said What?!“, and “Scandalous Jesus.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like…” (25:1)

That time and Jesus’ coming (parousia)

The kingdom of heaven

An Overview of the Parable (25:1-12)

The setting of the wedding and anticipation of meeting the bridegroom (1-2)

  The two categories of young women: foolish without oil & wise with oil (2-4)

    The delay and falling sleep (5)

      The announcement (6)

    Awakening and preparation (7)

  The contrast in readiness: foolish needing to buy oil & wise ready with sufficient oil (8-9)

The arrival of the bridegroom and welcome for the wise who are ready (10)

The sad situation of the foolish who were not ready (11-12)

An Exhortation Toward Watchful Readiness (25:13)

Let us keep watch for Jesus’ return (Matthew 25:13)

Let us build our lives on Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 7:24-27)

Let us walk in the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25:4; Revelation 4:5; Galatians 5:22-25)

Let us speak of Jesus and the good news (Matthew 24:14; 1 Peter 3:15)


Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

Bibliography for “Scandalous Jesus”

When I conclude a sermon series, I usually share resources I utilized in my study and preparation for sermons. Here is the bibliography for our recent series, “Scandalous Jesus,” which is the ninth part of an extended walk through the Gospel of Matthew.

Bibliography for “Scandalous Jesus” [Gospel of Matthew, part 9]

Kenneth E. Bailey. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008.

Jeannine K. Brown and Kyle Roberts. Matthew. The Two Horizons New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018.

Michael Joseph Brown. “The Gospel of Matthew.” In True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary, edited by Brian K. Blount, 85-120. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2007.

John Calvin. A Harmony of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Volume 1. Trans. By A. W. Morrison. Calvin’s Commentaries. Ed. by David W. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972.

James D. G. Dunn. Jesus, Paul, and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990.

John Chrysostom. Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew. NPNF, series 1, vol. 10. Ed. by Philip Schaff. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994.

R. T. France. The Gospel of Matthew. NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007.

Craig S. Keener. Matthew. IVPNTC. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997.

Scot McKnight. “Matthew, Gospel of.” In Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, edited by Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, and I. Howard Marshall, 526-541. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992.

Manlio Simonetti, editor. Matthew 14-28. ACCS. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002.

Burton H. Throckmorton, Jr. Gospel Parallels: A Comparison of the Synoptic Gospels, 5th edition. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1992.

S. Westerholm. “Pharisees.” In Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, edited by Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, and I. Howard Marshall, 609-614. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992.

N. T. Wright. The Challenge of Jesus. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999.

________. Simply Jesus. New York: HarperCollins, 2011.

Bibliography for “Who Do You Say I Am?”

When I conclude a sermon series, I usually share resources I utilized in my study and preparation for sermons. Here is the bibliography for our recent series, “Who Do You Say I Am?,” which is the sixth part of an extended walk through the Gospel of Matthew.

Bibliography for “Who Do You Say I Am?” [Gospel of Matthew, part 6]

Kenneth E. Bailey. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008.

Jeannine K. Brown and Kyle Roberts. Matthew. The Two Horizons New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018.

Michael Joseph Brown. “The Gospel of Matthew.” In True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary, edited by Brian K. Blount, 85-120. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2007.

John Calvin. A Harmony of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Volume 1. Trans. By A. W. Morrison. Calvin’s Commentaries. Ed. by David W. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972.

John Chrysostom. Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew. NPNF, series 1, vol. 10. Ed. by Philip Schaff. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994.

R. T. France. The Gospel of Matthew. NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007.

Craig S. Keener. Matthew. IVPNTC. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997.

Scot McKnight. “Matthew, Gospel of.” In Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, edited by Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, and I. Howard Marshall, 526-541. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992.

Manlio Simonetti, editor. Matthew 1-13. ACCS. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001.

________. Matthew 14-28. ACCS. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002.

Burton H. Throckmorton, Jr. Gospel Parallels: A Comparison of the Synoptic Gospels, 5th edition. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1992.

N. T. Wright. The Challenge of Jesus. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999.

________. Simply Jesus. New York: HarperCollins, 2011.

Philip Yancey. The Jesus I Never Knew. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995.

Bibliography for Stories of the Kingdom: the parables of Jesus

When I conclude a sermon series, I usually share resources I utilized in my study and preparation for sermons. Here is the bibliography for our recent series, “Stories of the Kingdom: the parables of Jesus,” which is the fifth part of an extended walk through the Gospel of Matthew, focusing on Jesus’ parables in Matthew 13.

Bibliography for “Stories of the Kingdom: the parables of Jesus” [Gospel of Matthew, part 5]

Kenneth E. Bailey. Poet & Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes: A Literary-Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1983.

________. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008.

Craig L. Blomberg. Interpreting the Parables, 2nd ed. Downers Grove, IL:InterVarsity, 2012.

Jeannine K. Brown and Kyle Roberts. Matthew. The Two Horizons New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018.

Michael Joseph Brown. “The Gospel of Matthew.” In True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary, edited by Brian K. Blount, 85-120. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2007.

John Calvin. A Harmony of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Volume 1. Trans. By A. W. Morrison. Calvin’s Commentaries. Ed. by David W. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972.

John Chrysostom. Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew. NPNF, series 1, vol. 10. Ed. by Philip Schaff. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994.

C. H. Dodd. The Parables of the Kingdom. New York: Collins, 1961.

R. T. France. The Gospel of Matthew. NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007.

Joachim Jeremias. Rediscovering the Parables of Jesus. London: SCM Press, 2012.

Craig S. Keener. Matthew. IVPNTC. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997.

Scot McKnight. “Matthew, Gospel of.” In Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, edited by Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, and I. Howard Marshall, 526-541. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992.

Manlio Simonetti, editor. Matthew 1-13. ACCS. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001.

Klyne R. Snodgrass. “Parable.” In Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, edited by Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, and I. Howard Marshall, 591-601. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992.

________. Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018.

Burton H. Throckmorton, Jr. Gospel Parallels: A Comparison of the Synoptic Gospels, 5th edition. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1992.