Parable of the 10 Virgins: Applicable to the Rapture?


I have long associated the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew chapter 25 with the rapture. Having grown up in a very dispensational setting, I was taught from a dispensational point of view. However, the more I study about the rapture and dispensationalism in general, the more I have to question these things that I grew up with. It is not good enough to just assume things that we were taught as children are still true. We must evaluate things on our own.

As a sidenote, if you are simply relying on what you were told as a child, you are failing the kingdom and yourself. Unless your faith becomes yours and yours alone, your salvation, as an individual event, is sadly underrated. It will also become very difficult for you to share that individualized faith with someone else if you're simply relying on with your parents told you. I believe that this is one of the reason for the decline of the major denominations.

Returning to our scripture passage, we must decide one of two things. First you must decide if the rapture is indeed possible at all. My presupposition in dealing with this subject; this parable, is that the rapture is a possible concept. This is of the upmost importance especially if you do not believe in the pre-tribulational rapture of the church, or if you are debating someone who differs with you on this point. If this is the case then Matthew chapter 25, and in fact that entire section of Matthew, will mean less about a rapture and more about Christ's second coming for his kingdom. My personal research, and my triangle method of proving the rapture, suggest to me that it is going to happen. However, as I stated before you must make this faith yours; not mine, not your preacher's, not anyone else's but yours.

Secondly, you must determine if this parable is about the rapture or for the millennial coming of Christ. One of the key reasons why I believe this is referring to the second coming of Christ for his saints is that it allows for people to be left behind. Half of the virgins awaiting the bridegroom's arrival were ready for his arrival, and of course half of them were not. This would suggest that at least a portion of the given population is left to see life without the bridegroom, although the numbers being skewed to half and half is curious given Christ's words in Matthew 7:13-14.

So in deciding whether this passage is applicable to the rapture study, it seems pretty clear that it must apply to the rapture or it holds little meaning aside from a general call to preparedness. Now, we must decide if this is about preparedness. Something that lends itself to this sort of thinking is that all of the virgins are waiting on the same bridegroom. We know for example that not all people in the world are waiting on the second coming of Christ. Therefore, it would suggest if this is the context, that we are only talking about the church being prepared for Christ coming. If this is the case, then the five virgins who are prepared meet their Lord and happiness. However, the five virgins who are not prepared truly for their Lord meet him in disgrace. One could then assume that Christ is talking about being prepared for him coming back however he may do so. In effect, the five virgins who are ready for his return suggest devout followership while the ones who are not truly prepared suggest hypocrisy. This is an idea proposed by Matthew Henry, who lived before the idea of the rapture, especially in dispensational terms, was developed.

While I would not put it past the Lord to give a general discussion on preparedness and knowing who we are working for, in that we are working for him, I believe that there is a deeper meaning to this passage. I believe the fact that some of the virgins are turned away, meaning that they were looking towards some sort of savior but not knowing the Savior, suggest that a surprise return of the Lord is imminent.

The problem for both ways of looking at this passage, whether you're talking about the second coming of Christ and the rapture, or talking about general preparedness for his followers, is that he essentially banishes the virgins who are unready. In discussing the passage as a rapture passage, the numbers don't seem to match. We know from empirical evidence and from scripture that the vast majority of people in the world are not ready for Christ, not just half of the world. In discussing the passage as a warning to be prepared, it seems very difficult to justify complete banishment of the five unprepared virgins. Nevertheless, we must see it in its context. Christ is giving a parable to suggest those who are not waiting on the true savior will be banished. This is the fact of the passage, and the rest is the plot of the story.

The reason why I believe that this does find application in the rapture theology is that people are looking for a savior. They may be looking in science, Buddhism, Islam, etc., but they are looking. We can then infer from the passage in Matthew chapter 25 that those who are looking for anything but the bridegroom's return, prepared as they are with the light which represents the gospel, are really prepared only for banishment.

As a final note, I am doing what I believe to be exciting research on the biblical concept of the rapture. I can't wait to share it with you, but I am still preparing what I hope will be a scholarly journal article on the subject. Until I have that finalized, I have to keep the research to myself in order to preserve copyright and publication requirements.

4 comments:

boilt frog said...

What is your "triangle method of proving the rapture?"

We need not put much emphasis on the equal division the ten. It could just be a convenient way of dividing the group.

You did not address the "I know you not" passage.

You also do not define the rapture. I think you mean the coming for the saints before establishing of the millennial reign. Am I correct?

I follow Matthew Henry's interpretation.

I would be interested in your views on the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares in Mt. 13. Mt. 13 has been called the place where premillennialism goes to die.

I am looking forward to your article.

Blessings,

BF

Dave Z said...

I don't think it has anything to do with the rapture. It seems we have manufactured that idea in recent years (100+).

The Parable of the Ten Virgins seems to be about getting to know Jesus through the love that we show others. See: http://www.lampofthebody.com/38-the-parable-of-the-ten-virgins.html

Dan Smith said...

BF: I am not able to disclose my method yet. I'm having it peer reviewed. They may laugh at me. If they do, I'll disclose it. If they don't laugh at me, but for some reason publish it, I will likewise disclose it.

I'm going to research the wheat and the tares. I'm going to need some time on it, but I plan to do so.

Yes, I do believe that definition of the rapture.

Dan Smith said...

Dave,
I have visited your site and reviewed your material. I am planning a post that will be my response. I hope you will read it.

I looked up your book on Kindle. I am going to purchase it and I'll let you know what I think.

Dan