Monday, March 28, 2022

The Parable of the Ten Virgins and 1 Thessalonians 4

Something I noticed when I was preaching through the Gospel of Matthew is that when the apostle Paul describes Christ's return in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, he does so in a way very similar to Jesus' parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). 

  • In addressing whether the dead shall participate in the blessings of that day, Paul describes deceased saints like the wise virgins in this parable - those who have "fallen asleep." But Jesus shall wake them and bring them with him when he returns, just as the bridegroom woke and brought the virgins with him as he entered the wedding feast.
  • Paul speaks of Christ’s coming being accompanied with a cry of command and the voice of an archangel and with the sound of the trumpet of God, just as the virgins are summoned at midnight by the cry, “Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” In both cases, the voice wakes the dead and summons his people to greet him. 
  • Paul uses the same word for “meet” that is used in the parable (ἀπάντησις). Paul says those who are in Christ shall go up to “meet” him in the air on his way down from heaven, just as the virgins went out to “meet” the bridegroom to escort him into the hall. The other use of this word in the NT is to describe how Christians from Rome went out to meet Paul to accompany him back to Rome. As Strong’s Concordance says, the word is “seemingly almost technical for the reception of a newly arrived official.” A very similar word is use to describe how the crowds came out of Jerusalem to meet Jesus, accompanying him into the city with joy. 
  • Paul writes that having greeted Jesus, “we will always be with the Lord,” just as the five wise virgins who greeted Jesus went into the wedding feast with the bridegroom, unlike the five foolish virgins who were unprepared and unable to enter.

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