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Commentary on Mt. 25:1-13 [parable of the ten virgins]

"Then shall the kingdom of Heaven be likened to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. (2) And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. (3) The foolish ones took their lamps, but took no oil with them. (4) But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. (5) While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. (6) And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes! Go out to meet him. (7) Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. (8) And the foolish said to the wise, Give us some of your oil, for our lamps have gone out. (9) But the wise answered, saying, No, lest there be not enough for us and you. But rather go to those who sell, and buy for yourselves. (10) And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came. And they who were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut. (11) Afterwards the other virgins came also, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. (12) But he answered and said, Truly I say to you, I do not know you. (13) Therefore watch, for you do not know either the day or the hour in which the Son of Man comes" (MKJV)

Synopsis: interpretation of the parable of the ten virgins recorded in Mt. 25:1-13 concentrates on an element often overlooked in commentaries, namely the meaning of the night and chronological implications of the midnight cry "Behold, the bridegroom comes!" The parable is especially concerned with the completion of Christ's Bride, but the details contained in it may also be important for the believers who will survive until the morning of the Millennial Kingdom.

The parable of the ten virgins in the context of Matthew chapter 24

The parable of the ten virgins recorded in Mt. 25:1-13 poses an interesting challenge. On the one hand, there are elements that everyone reads with ease, such as the meaning of the virgins (believers awaiting the coming of Christ), lamps (God's Word), olive oil (the Holy Spirit) or light (the truth). On the other hand, there are elements that are usually omitted in the comments, as if they were completely irrelevant. Such elements include the bridegroom's delay, the time when the action takes place (the night), as well as the significant fact that the announcement of the Bridegroom's arrival takes place at midnight, which is exactly in the middle.

The time component is of importance for the interpretation of the parable, as it is a part of Christ's answer to the question "what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world?" (Mt. 24:3). In mamy parts of his answer Jesus provides a complex sign focusing on events rather than chronology. An exception is his mentioning the generation that shall not pass unitl all is fulfilled (Mt. 24:32-35), as well as the midnight from the parable of the ten virgins as the time when vigilant virgins will enter the feast. Combined interpretation of the ten virgins, generation and the sign of the son of man allows to think that the midnight element is not just an incidental background.

Our Lord shows in his prophecy two classes of God's people represented in Lot and Noah. Noah, who enters the arc before the flood and safely anticipates the deluge, seems to represent those Church members who will receive the highest positions of co-kings with Jesus Christ in the Divine nature before the Apocalypse begins (Mt. 24:36-44; 1 Pet. 1:3,4; 2 Pet. 1:1-4). The remaining Church members are shown in Lot and remain in the body till the very end of the present system (Lk. 17:28-37). Hence the mysterious words of the Lord: "Then two shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left" (Mt. 24:40). It is not about rupture in any spectacular sense, but about completing the royal class in the glory of the Divine nature. In this way part of the Church will be taken, while the rest will remain to work on the Lord's field.

What does it mean in practice that part of the Church is taken? It means that the last person is accepted to become a co-ruler with Christ in his kingdom. The prophecy given by God to Abraham in Gen. 15:7-11 and discussed in the lecture suggests that Sarah's Covenant developing the royal class ceased to operate in 1977, so in that year the last elect was accepted and finished his/her consecration in death three years later. If this interpretation is correct, that means completion of the royal class was not an event that the world at large could anyhow notice.

In the context of the above, it seems that wise virgins who enter the feast in the parable represent those members of the Church who receive their positions among royal priests. Midnight, when the arrival of the Bridegroom is announced, thus seems to indicate the date of 1977, when our Lord announced the reception of the complete bride. Therefore, wise virgins enter at midnight, the other maidens who have not entered the feast are waiting for the Lord until the end of the night, till the dawn of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. The night in this context is a time of waiting, but waiting in special circumstances. Jesus Christ seems to connect the beginning of the night with the delay of the Bridegroom: "While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept" (Mt. 25:5).

The evening, midnight and morning of awaiting the Bridegroom's coming

In fact, our Lord does not delay his coming. It is the Lord's people awaiting this event that determine dates that fail and thus lead that part of believers who do not have the oil of the spirit of active waiting for the Lord, to quit and leave for sellers - religious teachers. The resignation of foolish virgins does not mean that they suddenly don't care. Nonetheless, they abandon the position of active study of the Word of God and turn to denominational leaders for 'enlightenment' in terms of the manner and time of the Lord's coming. Interestingly, wise virgins refuse to lend them oil, arguing that they will also be missing it. This shows that waiting for the Lord is not based on science or evidence directly available to see. Here, olive oil, or the spirit of faith, is necessary. The virgins who do not have it will not be satisfied with any arguments, while wise virgins will not have arguments that would satisfy everyone. In the face of the lack of faith, they too will come short of explanations.

Returning, however, to the meaning of the night, the parable seems to associate it with the delay of the bridegroom. This is the moment when the bridegroom does not appear and the virgins fall asleep. Due to the lack of natural light, the night is identified with a lack of vision, and thus also lack of understanding what is happening around us and the inability to act (cf. Jn. 9:4; 1 Thess. 5:4-11). In a spiritual sense, the time of bridegroom's delay is also a time of darkness for the Lord's people. Looking back, the chronological aspect of prophecies has always generated a lot of confusion among the waiting people, doubt and the lack of clear vision in which direction the prophecies indicate. The question, however, is whether the parable can indicate a specific situation if so many disappoinments have already taken place?

I must admit that the answer to this question is somewhat speculative and there is no hard evidence here, only indirect. First of all, it should be noted that midnight divides the night into two equal parts. Midnight falls in the year 1977, which brought a call to the feast for the last member of the Bride of Christ. The morning means the end of waiting, when we will see the incoming Lord with the naked eye. The evening indicates the moment from which the Lord's people deduct his delay. From the chronological point of view, we are dealing with a proportion: the number of years that pass from evening to midnight parallels the number of years passing from midnight to the morning of the revelation of Christ. The further from the evening to 1977, the further from 1977 to the morning.

This commentary is written in 2017, which means that the evening should be sought at the latest in 1937 (2017-1977 = 1977-1937). The year 1937 did not bring any significant chronological disappoinment, but if we still go back a bit in time, we come across the period of World War I and 1914. This is a very significant date in the calendar of waiting for the return of Christ, awaited throughout the whole generation of Bible students. The disappointment associated with 1914 was very severe, and its echo is still resonating today in many groups of God's expectant people. Yet, the year 1914 itself was not a disappointment. On the contrary, the outbreak of war was accepted with hope that the predictions are correct and the war will lead the current system of things to collapse. This hope slowly melted with the development of events, until it had to give way completely with the end of hostilities in 1918. At that time, those awaiting the return of Christ finally embraced the night of disappointment and lack of understanding why such a thorough analysis of the prophecies as it seemed to have been, failed.

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Here we reach the most interesting element for Bible students. If the night falls in 1918, and midnight is in 1977, the morning will start in 2036. What's more, 2036 is not an accidental date, but it was also marked in prophecies (Mt. 24:23-31). This is perhaps something that is worth considering while awaiting for the revelation of our Lord. Nevertheless, it is also worth not attaching oneself too much to dates and staying vigilant at any time. The description of the sign of the son of man provided by our Lord indicates that there will be a time when nobody will have any doubts that the current order is about to end. For the time being, however, there is no sign yet, and dealing with prophecy still requires faith and hope that we are closer to the Lord with every passing day.


Keywords: Mt. 25:1-13, the parable of the ten virgins
 
If not stated otherwise, all citations come from the Modern King James Version


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