Five Foolish Virgins (2 of 2)

(Continued from yesterday)

The second premise is that since the foolish virgins have oil, which in Scripture represents the Holy Spirit, they must be Christians. As evidence, supporters of this view cite:

  • Mt 25:3 AMP For when the foolish took their lamps, they did not take any [extra] oil with them,
  • Mt 25:8 The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’

It is true that oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit:

  • Lk 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed,
  • Acts 10:38 You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

and that without the Holy Spirit an individual cannot be a Christian:

  • Rom 8:9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

but the key is “do the foolish virgins have any oil”?

Notice that the word “extra” in Mt 25:3 AMP is in brackets, which means it is NOT in the Greek text, but supplied by the translators. Most literal word-for-word translations have:

  • NASB For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them,
  • ESV For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them,
  • NKJV Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,

Then how can their lamps be going out if they weren’t burning, which implied they had oil? To understand this, we need to know what type of lamps they were. The word “lamp” translates the Greek word “lampas”, which primarily means a torch, and appears 9 times in the NT:

  • Of the lamps in the parable – Mt 25:1, 3, 4, 7, 8;
  • When Judas betrays Jesus – Jn 18:3;
  • In the upper room where Paul preached – Acts 20:8;
  • In Rev 4:5, 8:10.

They were not small “Aladdin” style clay oil lamps, but clubs wrapped at the top with linen which were dipped in oil and then lit. When the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps (Mt 25:4), it wasn’t to add more oil when the oil in the supposed clay lamps burned out, it was to dip the torches in so the linen can be soaked in oil and lit. The foolish virgins who took their lamps but no oil with them (v 3) can still light them because of oil residue from the last use, but they go out immediately because there is no oil, period. Otherwise why would all five lamps go out at the same time? And, if they never had oil or the Holy Spirit to begin with, they were never saved.

Now if the foolish virgins were never saved in the first place, everything fits. My interpretation is therefore that the foolish virgins are in the company of the wise virgins, looked like them, participated in the same activities, but are not genuine believers. They are like the seeds that fell on the rocky places and immediately sprang up (lamps lit) but withered away (lamps going out) because they had no root (oil) (Mt 13:5-6). Or they are like tares sown among the wheat. They looked like wheat until the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident (Mt 13:5-6) by their lack of fruit. You will know them by their fruits (Mt 7:16, 20).

Having unlocked this key, let’s go back to your original questions. Will the foolish virgins be raptured? No, the rapture is for Christians only. Do they have to wait until they know Christ? Yes, because they are not believers. But I want to address the issue of partial rapture as well – I believe it is not biblical. There are two key passages on the rapture:

  • 1 Thes 4:17-18 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
  • 1 Co 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

You can observe that:

  • The order of the rapture is the dead in Christ first, then those (Christians) who are alive when He returns;
  • We will all be changed (from perishable to imperishable, from mortal to immortal);
  • There is no distinction into grades of Christians, diligent vs. lazy, because it does not depend on works, but grace. If you are in Christ, whether already dead or still alive, you will be raised and raptured.

Partial rapture divides the one Body of Christ into parts that will be raptured and parts that won’t. That’s not scriptural. May I suggest you always base your doctrine on the text. Don’t start with your pet doctrine and try to find support in Scripture. That’s eisegesis, not exegesis. Hope this helps.

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  • Nancy Wu  On August 20, 2019 at 10:02 pm

    Thanks for explaining

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