Taking the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Context

Context is important in interpreting the parables of Jesus. However, they are often disconnected from their context. A very good example of this is the parable of the ten virgins.

“(1)  At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. (2) Five of the virgins were foolish, and five were wise. (3) When the foolish ones took their lamps, they did not take extra olive oil with them. (4) But the wise ones took flasks of olive oil with their lamps. (5) When the bridegroom was delayed a long time, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. (6) But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is here! Come out to meet him.’ (7) Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. (8) The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ (9) ‘No,’ they replied. ‘There won’t be enough for you and for us. Go instead to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ (10) But while they had gone to buy it, the bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready went inside with him to the wedding banquet. Then the door was shut. (11) Later, the other virgins came too, saying, ‘Lord, lord! Let us in!’ (12) But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you!’ (13) Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matt 25:1–13 NET)

Pretribulationists teach that this parable applies to the rapture. And yet they contradict themselves when they claim the Olivet Discourse is not a teaching for the church, which the parable is part of!

The context of the parable of the ten virgins shows that this parable is illustrating the gathering of the elect back in verse 31,

“And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

There will be a separation at the initiation of the second coming (parousia) of Christ: God’s people will be raptured and the remaining will be left for judgment. Therefore, be spiritually vigilant.

The prewrath position holds that the gathering of the elect in this verse refers to the rapture of God’s people. So if pretribulationists want to be consistent and faithful to the context, they must also hold that the parable of the ten virgins (which they claim is a rapture teaching) illustrates the gathering of the elect in Matthew 24:31.

A similar inconsistency by pretribulationists is found when they claim Matthew 24:36 refers to the rapture: “But as for that day and hour no one knows it—not even the angels in heaven–except the Father alone,” while claiming at the same time that this verse is part of the Olivet Discourse, a teaching pretribulationists will say does not contain a rapture teaching! Inconsistency is a sign of a failed argument.

Context, Context, Context.


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