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What is your interpretation of the "Parable of the 10 Virgins", in Matt 25:1-13?
Excellent question. I believe this parable has been
often misused and misunderstood.
I believe the PRIMARY interpretation must be the LITERAL and DISPENSATIONAL interpretation. I call this interpretation:
"JEWISH WEDDING PICTURES"
Jesus was born and raised a Jew. He lived in the Jewish age, under the Old Testament Law, which consisted of the 10 Commandments, the civil law, the ceremonial law, and the dietary law. The parables and illustrations of Jesus were spoken to Jews who had the same background that He had, and therefore are from a Jewish frame of reference.
Jesus took part in the customs of the day in which He lived. He went to weddings and even worked His first miracle at the wedding in Cana, in John chapter 2. To understand the illustrations of Jesus that related to weddings, we need to understand the Jewish wedding customs of Jesusí day.
The Church is said to be a virgin "espoused", or "betrothed" to Jesus in 2 Cor 11:2, and will become His heavenly "bride" in Rev 21:2 & 9. If you look up "bride", "groom", bridegroom", "wedding", "bridechamber", "marriage", etc, you find that Jesus referred repeatedly to the Jewish wedding customs as illustrations.
Israel is the adulterous wife who has been "put away", in Jer 3:8 & 14, and who will be restored in grace at the Second Advent. Hos 2:19&20, and Isa 54:5-8 describe adulterous Israel, a "wife of youth", having been forsaken, but restored for the Millennium as Godís earthly "wife".
Amazingly, (Iím sure by Godís design :-), the Jewish wedding customs relate perfectly to Jesus and His espousal to the Church:
THE JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS
1. The father of the groom chose the bride, for his son, Gen 38:6 .
2. Wedding "vows" are made, an "agreement".
3. A wedding "dowry" is set up, a gift from the father of the groom to the bride, to consummate the agreement.
4. A "betrothal" period begins. During this period, the future groom prepares a home for the bride, and they do not see each other again until the day of the wedding.
5. The actual wedding "ceremony" is when the groom goes to the house of the bride and takes her from her home to his home.
6. Friends of the bride gather outside the wedding chamber.
7. Friends of the groom gather outside.
8. The groom, has chosen a "best man", who also awaits the return of the bride and groom.
9. The wedding guests are fitted with a special robe that indicates that they are a part of that particular wedding party.
10. The bride and groom consummate the marriage in the wedding chamber.
11. The complete wedding party waits outside the wedding chamber, waiting for the bride and groom to come out, and the celebration, or wedding supper, to begin.
THE JEWISH WEDDING IS A PICTURE OF THESE NEW TESTAMENT TRUTHS:
1. Eph 1:4, God the Father chose us to be the bride of Christ.
2. Rom 10:9, Believe and confess with your mouth.
3. 2 Cor 1:22, The Holy Spirit is our "earnest" or "down payment" on our relationship to Christ.
4. 2 Cor 11:2, we are betrothed, or espoused to Christ, and He has gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:2&3). The Church Age is the betrothal period.
5. 1 Thess 4:16&17, The Rapture of the Church. We are removed from our "home" (earth) and taken to His "home" (heaven). Also see Rev 4:1 and an Old Testament picture in Isa 26:19-21.
6. The Tribulation martyrs and those who physically live through the Tribulation are the friends of the bride. They knew Church Age saints in person prior to the Rapture.
7. The Old Testament saints are the friends of the groom. Many of them knew Jesus in His earthly ministry.
8. The Bible even indicates that Jesus, the groom, has a "best man", John 3:27-30, John the Baptist will be the "best man".
9. The wedding guests are fitted with a robe, Rev 19:8. Our robe is the righteousness imputed to us by Christ. In Mat 22:11, we see a man without one.
10. The bride and groom consummate the marriage in the wedding chamber. The Church is already judged (2 Cor 5:10), rewarded (1 Cor 3:9-15), and declared to be married to Jesus in heaven (Rev 19:7-9), when the Church returns to earth with Jesus (Rev 19:11-16).
11. Israel is always pictured in the wedding illustrations as OUTSIDE the wedding chamber, waiting for the bride and groom to come out, and the celebration, or supper, to begin. Luke 12:36 is a good illustration.
Amazing! The duration and extravagance of the wedding celebration in the ancient world was only limited by the wealth of the groomís father, and these parties were known to last for months in the time of Christ!
To me, this makes the Millennium a 1000 year wedding celebration given by our Heavenly Father, who owns everything, for His Son, Jesus, and we are the bride.
The Parable of the 10 Virgins
In Matt 25:1-13, immediately after Jesus answers questions about the Second Advent (That sets our CONTEXT), He says THEN, meaning at the Second Advent, the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins. The virgins, according to custom, are waiting outside the wedding chamber. When the bride and groom came out of the wedding chamber, five of the virgins were wise and properly prepared and were admitted to the celebration. The other five were unwise, and not prepared and were refused entrance.
My interpretation of the parable of the 10 virgins is that they symbolize ALL of ISRAEL at the Second Advent, as they await the return of Jesus with His bride (the Church), from their heavenly wedding chamber. The 5 unwise virgins represent "religious" Israel, who trust in their own works, and are not "saved" and are refused entrance to the wedding celebration. The 5 wise virgins represent born again children of God, clothed with the righteousness of God, and they live into the Millennium. See Jer 3:12-19.
Concerning the issue some have made of the virgins' "lamp oil", notice in Matt 25:3, that the foolish virgins took NO oil with them. Oil in Scripture often symbolizes the Holy Spirit, and the 5 unwise virgins had none. They only had a temporary lamp in their hand, not real righteousness, but as Jesus often said to the Pharisees, they only had an external show of righteousness as whitewashed tombstones. The wise virgins, on the other hand, were fully prepared, took oil and a lamp with them, and were accepted into the kingdom.
Notice at the end of the chapter, Jesus speaks of His Second Advent and describes the rest of the human nations who physically live through the 7 year tribulation as "sheep" (saved) and "goats" (unsaved). The "sheep" inherit the Kingdom (Millennium, see Isa 2:1-4) and the "goats" go away into everlasting punishment.
The LITERAL interpretation, I believe, is that the 10 virgins represent the children of Israel, all over the world, at the Second Advent.
a. Godís Jewish children, true Israel, at the Second Advent, represented by the 5 wise virgins, will inherit the earth and be the ruling nation for the Millennium.
b. The 5 unwise virgins are the religious "Pharisee" types who expect to be accepted by God, on the basis of their own works.
c. The "sheep and goats" of Matt 25:31-46, represent the rest of the nations who physically live through the 7 year tribulation, and they are judged on how they treated the Jews during the Tribulation.
d. The "sheep" will be the "nations" of saved human beings who populate the earth in the prophetic Millennial passages of the Old Testament.
e. The "goats" are the unsaved people of the nations at the Second Advent who will "go away into everlasting punishment".
APPLICATION OF THIS PARABLE TO US IN THE CHURCH AGE:
I do not find any application to the Church Age children of God in the parable of the 10 Virgins. The 10 virgins in the parable are awaiting the return of Jesus at the Second Advent and the Church will return with Him as His bride.
I believe that the commentators who try to apply this parable to the Church Age do not understand the truths of our salvation in the Church Age:
a. In the Church Age, we are "saved" by the grace (unmerited and undeserved favor) of God (Eph 2:5), and our position "in Christ" is maintained by Almighty God ( Rom 8:28-39). Even the ability to believe (trust and rely) on Christ is given to us by God, Phil 1:29.
b. And, as for our "works", Jesus taught His disciples in John 15:4&5, that we, as children of God, by ourselves, cannot do any works that please God and will be rewardable.
c. We must "abide in Him" ("in fellowship"), and His Spirit must produce our works, just as a tree limb (us) produces fruit when it is attached to the tree (Jesus) and the "sap" (Holy Spirit) flows into the limb (us) and produces fruit according to the NATURE OF THE TREE (our NEW nature, 2 Cor 5:17).
d. We are judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Greek word "bema"), 2 Cor 5:10, which is not a "throne" (Greek word "thronos" or kingly throne), like the unsaved stand before in Rev 20:11-15.
e. The chief of the Olympic games in the ancient world stood on a "bema", a raised platform, and placed the awards on the "conquerors" (Greek word "NIKE") in the athletic contests as they each stood before the "bema". (We are more than "conquerors" ("NIKE") in Christ, Rom 8:37)
f. I believe that our sins were all judged on the Cross, never to be mentioned again (Heb 10:17), and that all our "good" works are represented by the "wood, hay, and stubble", and the "gold, silver, and precious stones" of 1 Cor 3:9-15.
g. In 1 Cor 3:12, I believe the "wood, hay, and stubble", represents our unprofitable "human" good works, works that look good, but we did them while we were "out of fellowship" and from our own will. These works, when they are tested by fire at the "bema" of Christ, will be burned up. No reward, no matter how "good" those works looked to the world.
h. The "gold, silver, and precious stones" represent our "divine" good works, the things we did while we were "in fellowship", motivated by the Spirit of God. These works are the basis of our rewards in heaven. Jesus said in John 15:5 "without me, ye can do nothing".
i. The Judgement Seat of Christ for the Church Age children of God will take place, in heaven, after the Rapture of the Church.
j. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience take the parable of the 10 virgins out of context and use it to try to make God's people doubt their salvation.
If you see it different, Iíd love to hear your interpretation. If you have more questions, Iíd love to try to answer them. Like I say, all I can do is tell someone what I believe and why I believe it.
Bible students together "in Christ",