Five Foolish Virgins (1 of 2)

Q. In Mt 25:1-12 five foolish virgins were shut out of the wedding feast, but they should have been saved already. Would they be raptured to meet the Lord in the air? I believe victorious Christians, including the five wise virgins, would reign with Christ during the Millennium. Do the foolish virgins, who are not victorious and won’t reign with Christ, just wait along with unbelievers for God to work on them until Christ is formed in them?

A. From your question’s wording I assume you believe in partial rapture, that only fruitful Christians will be raptured, leaving lazy Christians behind to go through the tribulation. Before I answer that question let’s explore the meaning of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, which is key to answering your query.

You said that the five foolish virgins were saved already but did not explain why. I can only assume based on what some commentators say:

  • That they were virgins, just like the five wise virgins;
  • That they had oil, from v 8b “our lamps are going out”.

Let’s check the validity of each premise.

The first premise is that a virgin represents a Christian. The word “virgin” translates the Greek word “parthenos”, which occurs 15 times in the NASB. It is used:

  • Of the Virgin Mary – Mt 1:23, 25; Lk 1:27, 34;
  • Of the ten virgins in the parable – Mt 25:1, 7, 11;
  • Of the daughters of Philip the evangelist – Acts 21:9;
  • Of those concerning whom the Apostle Paul gave instructions concerning marriage – 1 Co 7:25, 28, 34, 36, 37, 38;
  • Figuratively, of a local church in its relationship to Christ – 2 Co 11:2;

It is also used:

  • Metaphorically, of someone “chaste” – Rev 14:4.

Now, is (b) above literal as in (a), (c) and (d), or figurative as in (e)? I believe it is both, based on:

  1. Cultural background. The setting of the parable is that of a Jewish wedding. According to the Talmud (Jewish Civil and ceremonial law), the custom in Jesus’ days is for ten unmarried maidens or virgins to carry lamps in the procession.
  2. Biblical usage. In the NT, the Church is called the “bride of Christ”, not the “virgin of Christ”:
    1. Rev 21:9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.

What about 2 Co 11:2?

  • 2 Co 11:2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

In 2 Co Paul was addressing the church at Corinth, a local congregation. While the universal church comprised of true believers only is properly the Bride of Christ, a local church consisting of both believers and non-believers cannot be Christ’s bride. At best the individual members may be called “virgins”, which is done in Mt 25.

  • Reductio ad absurdum. If the foolish virgins were saved, it will lead to conclusions that contradict what we know to be true. Note the exchange between the foolish virgins and the bridegroom after the door was shut. They called him, “Lord, lord,” but he answered, “I do not know you” (Mt 25:11-12) which reminds me of:
  • Mt 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew youdepart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
  • Lk 6:46 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

These words are addressed by our Lord to those who won’t enter the kingdom of heaven, i.e. the unsaved. So is the bridegroom, who undoubtedly represents the Lord, telling “saved” foolish virgins that He does not know them? If that is the case, then what happens to Jesus’ words in:

  • Jn 10:14  “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,” 
  • Jn 10:27-28 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.
  • Heb 13:5b for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”

Jesus did not break His promise, did He? That would be absurd! So “virgin” by itself does not prove that the five foolish virgins are saved.

(To be continued)

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