1 "The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of ten bridesmaids* who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.1
2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.
3 The five who were foolish took no oil for their lamps,
4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil.
5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all lay down and slept.
6 At midnight they were roused by the shout, `Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and welcome him!'
7 "All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps.
8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, `Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.'
9 But the others replied, `We don't have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.'
10 "But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked.
11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, `Sir, open the door for us!'
12 But he called back, `I don't know you!'
13 "So stay awake and be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of my return.
14 "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a trip. He called together his servants and gave them money to invest for him while he was gone.
15 He gave five bags of gold* to one, two bags of gold to another, and one bag of gold to the last--dividing it in proportion to their abilities--and then left on his trip.2
16 The servant who received the five bags of gold began immediately to invest the money and soon doubled it.
17 The servant with two bags of gold also went right to work and doubled the money.
18 But the servant who received the one bag of gold dug a hole in the ground and hid the master's money for safekeeping.
19 "After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money.
20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of gold said, `Sir, you gave me five bags of gold to invest, and I have doubled the amount.'
21 The master was full of praise. `Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let's celebrate together!'
22 "Next came the servant who had received the two bags of gold, with the report, `Sir, you gave me two bags of gold to invest, and I have doubled the amount.'
23 The master said, `Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let's celebrate together!'
24 "Then the servant with the one bag of gold came and said, `Sir, I know you are a hard man, harvesting crops you didn't plant and gathering crops you didn't cultivate.
25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth and here it is.'
26 "But the master replied, `You wicked and lazy servant! You think I'm a hard man, do you, harvesting crops I didn't plant and gathering crops I didn't cultivate?
27 Well, you should at least have put my money into the bank so I could have some interest.
28 Take the money from this servant and give it to the one with the ten bags of gold.
29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who are unfaithful,* even what little they have will be taken away.3
30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
31 "But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne.
32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.