Matthew 24 is one long, misguided prophecy of Jesus’s return: you have to believe, don’t be led astray by rumors or false prophets or doubts, and while we don’t know exactly when God is going to come and take away the just, nonetheless “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34). Well, no, it didn’t work out that way, and I’m a bit afraid of anybody who still holds to what’s in this chapter.
Matthew 25 also talks about the kingdom of heaven, but in a more discursive fashion. I rather like the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), with its notion that you shouldn’t squander what is given to you and its explicit acceptance of loaning money with interest. (Matthew 25:27, “Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.”)
Note, however, that in that parable, we’re talking about people to whom something has been given: the chapter ends with a paean to the virtues of kindness and charity to those who are in need, in Matthew 25:34-46. In fact, I’ll just quote Matthew 25:34-40 here:
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
This post has not been revised since publication.