QUESTIONS & RESPONSES
03/29/12 Luke 21:8, is it correct to say that the end is near?
03/25/12 Are we wrong about one hope? Is the Bible written only to the 144,000?
03/23/12 An unusual spiritual experience (How do you explain 2 Corinthians 1:22)
03/22/12a (1) When are the anointed retrieved to the sky?
(2) Are some anointed live on earth for the thousand years?
(3) Should they stay in the camp of Revelation 20:9?
03/22/12b (1) What is the oil of the lamp of Matthew 25:4?
(2) What are the talents of Matthew 25:15?
03/17/12 But the "Slave" says there are two hopes
03/14/12 Follow up reply to 3/13/12 (Should we ask questions?)
03/13/12 Does the Governing Body approve of this website?
03/11/12 Visitor is concerned that the teachings on this website may be apostate.
03/09/12 What about Revelation 7 and 21, does it tell of an earthly hope?
03/08/12 Parable of the Sheep and Goat (Matthew 25:31-46)
03/05/12 Can you explain Mark 8:38? (when the Son of Man arrives)
On March 29, 2012, we received the following inquiry:
“What do you think of Luke 21:8, it is incorrect to say that the end is near?
To the author, we thank you for your inquiry. The scripture you are referring to states:
“He said: “Look out that you are not misled; for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The due time has approached.’ Do not go after them.”
– Luke 21:8
In response to your question, we want you to understand that the “end” is ALWAYS near – our physical lives can terminate at any time and without any warning. For that reason, we are counseled to serve out of love – love for God, love for Christ and love for truth – not out of fear of the end of a “system of things.”
When our service to God is based on a concern about when the end of a system of things will come, when that time does not arrive as expected, it can crush us and leave us without hope. Perhaps you have seen this happen.
As for the scripture you refer to, please note that the persons doing the misleading are the very ones saying ‘The due time has approached’ and asserting it as though it came from Jesus himself. This is the reason we NEVER speculate as to when an “end” will come. And for those who find themselves as speculators or victims of such speculation, we caution you, as does the scripture, to neither mislead nor be misled. But rather be patient, and a source of encouragement, not “town criers” frightening people into ‘the Truth.’
We can save ourselves and our brothers from that folly by focusing our attention on imitating the faith of Jesus and doing the work he has commissioned us to do. Remember the parable of the “faithful slaves” who concerned themselves with increasing the Master’s interests not being fearful of his return. (Matthew 25:14-30) See also our Questions and Responses March 5, 2012 and our series of articles under “Ambassadors Substituting for Christ.”
If we do these things, whenever the “end” comes, we may be found “spotless and unblemished and in peace.” (2 Peter 3:14) Peace to you.
On March 25, 2012, we received the following comment:
“I have read your writings on a hope for all Christians. but I think you're wrong. reason for this is that the Christian Greek Scriptures are written to the church of the anointed Christians, and before the defection was in full swing, so the letters are written to the 144,000 that are redeemed from the earth. the anointed ones did not understand at the time that it would emerge a large crowd with an earthly hope, but in the 1930s realized that it would appear such a group of Christians. and today there are over 7 million people living with an earthly hope, and think of all those who have died throughout history that has not been anointed, they also have an earthly hope.
“[T]o be anointed with a heavenly hope, you have to be chosen by God. You can not choose for themselves the hope of heaven. It is God who chooses the one he gives a heavenly hope.
“So when you have been anointed with the Spirit, then you have the event in your heart, spirit as collateral in the heart, it's something you remember. Then there are 2 options, 1 you must die and be instantly transformed into a spirit. 2 is transformed into a spirit when God wants.
“To have an earthly hope is not a second rate hope, there is a great hope, think of eternal life on earth in paradise. So it is God who chooses the one he gives a heavenly hope. in heaven they shall be 144,000, rule with the King Jesus Christ.”
To the author, we thank you for taking the time to not only express your disagreement, but also to explain the basis for it. We know that many of our brothers share your views. That is why this website was developed – to provide an alternative view based on more than human reason or opinion, but solidly and soundly founded on scripture. We will, therefore, take this opportunity to share with you scriptures and reasoning based on those scriptures, to perhaps lead you to consider a different conclusion. Let’s take your comments in sections:
First, you state: “I have read your writings on a hope for all Christians. but I think you're wrong. reason for this is that the Christian Greek Scriptures are written to the church of the anointed Christians, and before the defection was in full swing, so the letters are written to the 144,000 that are redeemed from the earth.”
We wonder what you base this conclusion on. Why is it that you believe the Christian writings from Matthew through Revelation was only meant for 144,000 people to the exclusion of the 7 billion who now dwell on the earth? What is the scriptural basis for that belief? For if you are correct, that means the Father and the Christ left the remaining ones on their own, so to speak, to fend for themselves without a hope of any kind until some time in the far distant future. They did not even have the earthly hope – certainly not an everlasting one! Think of all the Christians who sacrificed their lives from the first century onward believing that they were a part of the group that would inherit the Kingdom and reside in heavenly abodes with the Christ. Does that not sound like a cruel joke?
Surely, if you are correct, Jesus knew of this great crowd of permanent earthly dwellers, yet nowhere does he ever let on that most of his disciples would not be with him. And nowhere does he encourage any of his disciples to even consider living on earth forever. We find that strange if, indeed, there is an earthly hope.
And if the Christian Greek Scriptures were only written to the 144,000 anointed believers, once that number was filled, the Bible then becomes nothing more than a historical record of ancient letters that could just as well find their place in a museum. Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to mull over these writing if they are not meant for them? Are they just being good secretaries for the anointed? Aren’t they really just on the outside of God’s purpose, looking in.
And finally, why would Jesus instruct his anointed followers to go to all the nations, “teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Was not the pursuit of the heavenly hope part of the things Jesus taught them to believe? If the number was so small, isn’t that, too, a unfair tease? I doubt the Christ would engage in that type of behavior.
Then you add: “[T]he anointed ones did not understand at the time that it would emerge a large crowd with an earthly hope, but in the 1930s realized that it would appear such a group of Christians. and today there are over 7 million people living with an earthly hope, and think of all those who have died throughout history that has not been anointed, they also have an earthly hope.“
Are you implying that Jesus and the Apostles withheld this very important piece of information, namely that in about 1900 years, the anointed would be joined by a numberless crowd of believers before the anointed could receive their heavenly reward? And what about the hard work of the Apostles and early disciples? Don’t you think they could have made at least 144,000 anointed disciples within 2000 years? Jehovah’s Witnesses have made over 7 million disciples in less than 100 years. And if not, why wouldn’t Jesus give them some instructions on how to deal with this great crowd, or how to explain to them that they were not sons of God and not going to heaven, and that the Bible was not written to them? We don’t see anywhere in the scriptures where Jesus prepared them for such a contingency. Even as we read the scriptures pertaining to a future time when the Son of Man arrives, we still do not see any indication that there would be a secondary class who would live forever on earth. Notice the parable of the Sheep and the Goats:
“When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. . . And these [goats] will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the [sheep] into everlasting life.”
– Matthew 25:31-33, 46
So, you see the two destinies when the Son of man arrives in the future, presumably after the 1930s – either inheriting the Kingdom (heavenly life) and death. No mention of everlasting life on earth. Think, too, if righteousness leads to everlasting life in the heavens, what is the requirement for life on earth? Semi-righteousness? Half-heartedness? Or, again, is it just a cruel tease such that no matter what they do, they will never attain to the heavenly hope.
As far as the millions of people who have died not knowing they were sons of the God, we do not necessarily agree with that conclusion. We believe that most Christians who have died since the first century surely expected to be with the Christ in heaven. It is only the few Jehovah’s Witnesses who died since 1930 who may have been confused. Yet, they have lost nothing. Whether we believe in the promises of God or not, the promises will be fulfilled. When those asleep in death awaken, they will awaken exactly where the Father intended. If they were faithful, they will inherit the Kingdom. Notice in the scripture we just considered that those gaining the heavenly inheritance were surprised. They didn’t expect it. Nevertheless, they were granted it. It is as Jesus said:
“My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them everlasting life, and they will by no means ever be destroyed, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is something greater than all other things, and no one can snatch them out of the hand of the Father.”
– John 10:27-29
Do you agreed that the so-called “other sheep” listen to the Christ’s voice? Do you agree that they “follow” him? If so, there is nothing that can be done to snatch away their heavenly hope, not even their supreme humility.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
– Romans 8:38-39
Next you say: “[T]o be anointed with a heavenly hope, you have to be chosen by God. You can not choose for themselves the hope of heaven. It is God who chooses the one he gives a heavenly hope.”
“For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”
– Acts 10:34-35
This scripture puts the heavenly hope in the hands of the individual free will creatures. And if we fear God and work righteousness, he accepts us. And accepts us to what? To what? To the only hope held out in the Christian Greek Scriptures – the heavenly hope. Paul offered counsel on this matter, in the event we become confused:
“Not that I have already received it or am already made perfect, but I am pursuing to see if I may also lay hold on that for which I have also been laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not yet consider myself as having laid hold on [it]; but there is one thing about it: Forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead, I am pursuing down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus. Let us, then, as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude; and if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above [attitude] to you.”
– Philippians 3:12-15
Yes, Paul was telling us if we are unclear about the need to pursue down toward the upward call, we should pray about it and God will readjust our thinking.
You also say: “So when you have been anointed with the Spirit, then you have the event in your heart, spirit as collateral in the heart, it's something you remember. Then there are 2 options, 1 you must die and be instantly transformed into a spirit. 2 is transformed into a spirit when God wants.”
We do not disagree with you here. But you may be getting the cart before the horse. Jesus came to reveal that we are ALL faith sons of God, we just don’t know about it. It is not until we become aware and accept that position that our anointing occurs. We are not anointed first and then become sons. Notice how this is stressed in Galatians:
“Now I say that as long as the heir is a babe he does not differ at all from a slave, lord of all things though he is, but he is under men in charge and under stewards until the day his father appointed beforehand. Likewise we also, when we were babes, continued enslaved by the elementary things belonging to the world. But when the full limit of the time arrived, God sent forth his Son, who came to be out of a woman and who came to be under law, that he might release by purchase those under law, that we, in turn, might receive the adoption as sons. Now because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his Son into our hearts and it cries out: “Abba, Father!” So, then, you are no longer a slave but a son; and if a son, also an heir through God.”
– Galatians 4:1-7
The anointing is not always associated with some outward manifestation. (Please see our Questions and Responses, February 25, 2012 which discusses in more detail the anointing.) And it is because some misled, but well-intentioned individuals stress that there must be some tremendous spiritual manifestation of the anointing that causes many humble and unassuming brothers and sisters to wrongly conclude that they must not be anointed. Therefore, the only other option is that perhaps there is some other provision for survival such as everlasting life on earth. This is a travesty. And there will be an accounting for stumbling these little ones. (Mark 9:42)
Finally, you tell us: “To have an earthly hope is not a second rate hope, there is a great hope, think of eternal life on earth in paradise. So it is God who chooses the one he gives a heavenly hope. in heaven they shall be 144,000, rule with the King Jesus Christ.”
We have NEVER referred to an earthly hope as a second rate hope. We have stated that there is no such hope of everlasting life on earth. The scriptures tell us that God’s plan for us is to inherit the heavens. Not us, but Paul said that to keep your minds on earthly things was error and shameful.
“For there are many, I used to mention them often but now I mention them also with weeping, who are walking as the enemies of the torture stake of the Christ, and their finish is destruction, and their god is their belly, and their glory consists in their shame, and they have their minds upon things of the earth. As for us, our citizenship exists in the heavens, from which place also we are eagerly waiting for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will refashion our humiliated body to be conformed to his glorious body according to the operation of the power that he has, even to subject all things to himself.”
– Philippians 3:18-21
“If, however, you were raised up with the Christ, go on seeking the things above, where the Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Keep your minds fixed on the things above not on the things upon the earth.”
– Colossians 3:1-2
The idea among Jehovah’s Witnesses of everlasting life on earth began as a teaching that they were a secondary heavenly class. Then over time, the teaching was changed such that the secondary heavenly class was now an earthly class. The development of this teaching is laid out for you in the Watchtower publication entitled “Revelation, Its Grand Climax at Hand,” Chapter 20. As you read that chapter, notice the authorities for the teaching – prior Watchtower publications, not scriptures. We believe the Society was acting in good faith and teaching to the best of its ability and understanding at that time. But the light has gotten brighter as we can clearly see in the in 2007 Questions from Readers. It appears to us, they were closer to the truth when they taught a “secondary heavenly class.”
As for us, we have stated in several articles that:
“The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it.”
– Psalms 37:29
We just do not believe the Bible teaches that they will reside forever on earth as individuals. (See our article Bringing it All Together.) And for as long as the righteous ones continue on the earth during that time, they will have a happy and joyous life. However, they are still faith sons of God who will attain to the heavens either, as you say, at their mortal death, or at a time of God’s choosing.
It befuddles us as to why anyone would want to shut our fellow brothers and sisters out of the Kingdom of the Heavens. How are self-professed anointed Christians harmed by that reality? Remember the question in the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard:
“Fellow, I do you no wrong. You agreed with me for a denarius, did you not? Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last one the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I want with my own things? Or is your eye wicked because I am good?"
– Matthew 20:13-15
Brothers, the Father is indeed good. And He welcomes all who exercise righteousness to “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)
We hope we have at least given you some things to think about. And we encourage you to stand on truth, faith, hope and love, not just theology. Theology will not save you!
Your brothers in the faith.
On March 23, 2012, we received an unusual comment:
The author described what appears to be a personal spiritual experience and wanted to know if others have experienced the same or a similar thing. We elect not to describe the experience for the sake of privacy and to avoid undue influence upon others. But we do feel we can sufficiently respond to his or her inquiry and at the same time make a point that may be of benefit to the entire Body.
In our Questions and Response for February 25, 2012, we posted a response to an inquiry about whether anointed Christians have visions today. We explained that it is certainly possible. The spirit of truth does indeed seek to communicate with us, and in spite of the vast difference between the spiritual mind and the human mind, on occasions it meets with a measure of success – even if the communication is a bit jumbled in the translation.
We should also keep in mind that God is not partial. (Acts 10:34) He spoke with men and women of earlier times as reflected in the Hebrew scriptures, so why would he keep silent in our generation? If God is not partial to man, neither is he partial to a generation.
We should note, in terms of why there appears to be more communication in earlier times, that the people of those days who are said to have had those types of visitations were very personally conscious of God. We suspect that, on occasion, the messages were likewise somewhat jumbled, as evidenced by the sometimes misunderstanding about the loving nature of the Father. (See our article “Revealing the Awe Inspiriting Father of All”). Nevertheless, the hearer or viewer managed to translate something of value out of the experience.
Today, we have a different atmosphere. People who do not understand the unity of true science and true religion, and persons with an overly sensitive fear of the spirit world (notwithstanding that the Father and the Christ are spirits) ridicule authentic spiritual experiences. So persons having such experiences dismiss them, ignore them, falsely define them and, in effect, shut the door to them. It is no surprise, therefore, that there would be fewer reported incidents of genuine spirit communications.
We are inclined to believe the author of this inquiry is somewhat wary of sharing his or her experience openly, but feels a measure of confidence here because it can be addressed in anonymity. And we are respecting that anonymity by refraining from expressing the nature of the experience. But we want the author to know that whether others have had your experience is not a determination of its value or validity. If the spirit is trying to communicate with you, it is likely for you and you alone. So, how are you to interpret it?
We learned some time ago that the spirit works by stimulating what is already present in your own mind. He is called the “helper” not the “originator.”
“But the helper, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you.”
– John 14:26
So if you have a limited mental storehouse of spiritual information, the communication will likewise be limited. For example, if one does not know all the alphabets, there would be many words that could not be spoken to you or understood by you. It is the same with the spirit. When a communication is attempted, the receiver may only get one or two of the ideas and not the complete message because the receiver has not developed a sufficient spiritual vocabulary. When trying to translate the message, it appears cryptic and makes little sense. Thus, any attempt to understand it will be flawed or, at the very least, thwarted. This is one reason why we advocate regular and persistent study and prayer.
“How I do love your law! All day long it is my concern. Wiser than my enemies your commandment makes me, Because to time indefinite it is mine. More insight than all my teachers I have come to have, because your reminders are a concern to me. With more understanding than older men I behave, because I have observed your own orders.”
– Psalms 119:97-100
If you are privileged with a spirit communication, keep in mind that it is based on the information you have already taken in and is therefore likely to be for your ownedification. As such, there is no need for outside verification, confirmation, or validation. It is of no consequence whether others have shared the experience.
It is your own sublime adventure to understand its meaning by combining the spiritual images you receive with your own pre-existing spiritual words. No one can translate it for. The Apostle Paul explains this process for us:
“For who among men knows the things of a man except the spirit of man that is in him? So, too, no one has come to know the things of God, except the spirit of God. Now we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been kindly given us by God. These things we also speak, not with words taught by human wisdom, but with those taught by [the] spirit, as we combine spiritual [matters] with spiritual [words].”
– 1 Corinthians 2:11-13
Paul also explains to us the problem with attempting an interpretation of a spirit revelation without understanding how it works:
“But a physical man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know [them], because they are examined spiritually. However, the spiritual man examines indeed all things, but he himself is not examined by any man. For “who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, that he may instruct him?” But we do have the mind of Christ.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:14-16
And, to bring the matter full circle, we gain the mind of Christ by means of the spirit of truth:
“However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things coming. That one will glorify me, because he will receive from what is mine and will declare it to you.”
– John 16:13-14
Having explained how spirit revelation and communication works, we caution you to be aware that we can sometimes deceive ourselves into believing that ideas that originate in our own minds are actually spirit communications. In spite of our scientific advancements, there is so much about the human mind and its workings that remain a mystery. All the more reason to apply any such insights to our own lives rather than ‘shouting them from the rooftops.’ And if they are indeed spirit leadings, they will ALWAYS manifest itself in the glory of the Father and the Christ. That is the ONLY work undertaken by the spirit of truth.
To the author of the inquiry, we urge you to examine your experience for a personal message that would lead you to a closer and deeper fellowship with the Christ. Your description contains some imagery. Ask yourself what that imagery means to you and your pursuit of the Kingdom and spiritual things. If you cannot make that connection, you may wish to set the matter aside until your spiritual vocabulary is sufficient enough to comprehend the message. Otherwise, you may find yourself heading in a dark and unprofitable direction.
We hope we have provided you with enough information to help you resolve this matter between you, the Father and the Christ. And may the Father’s peace remain with you always.
On March 22, 2012, we received the following inquiry:
“When are the anointed retrieved to the sky, and are some anointed live on earth for a thousand years. Should they stay in the camp of Revelation 20:9?”
To the author, we thank you for your inquiry. We elected to separate this question from your previous question today so that we can give each inquiry a fair response.
In this inquiry, you are actually asking three separate and distinct questions. We will respond to each one separately:
(1) When are the anointed retrieved to the sky?
If you have read our previous responses, you will note that we never provide an answer to a question about when some Biblical or prophetic event will occur. We simply do not know and we chose not to speculate. What we can tell you is that if you are faithfully making your calling sure, when that time arrives, you will be on the favorable side of events.
(2) Are some anointed live on earth for a thousand years?
As you know, our belief, based on the Bible, is that all Christians have the heavenly hope. That would necessarily mean that any Christian on earth during the thousand years referred to in Relevation has that hope and will eventually attain to it. We are aware that there is some indication that new scrolls will be opened, but we have no idea what those scrolls will say. However, based on the “scrolls” that we do have, we believe there will always be anointed Christians on earth as a group until they individually attain to their heavenly calling.
(3) Should they stay in the camp of Revelation 20:9?
The answer to this questions is contained right within the scripture. It reads:
“And they advanced over the breadth of the earth and encircled the camp of the holy ones and the beloved city. But fire came down out of heaven and devoured them.”
– Revelation 20:9
While this is clearly prophesy, taking it at face value, if fire comes down from heaven and devoured the enemies, why would the holy ones need to leave? And given the time when this prophesy is said to be fulfilled, namely “at the end of the thousand years,” why concern yourself with this now. We must make sure we are doing all we can NOW so that we can even have a future. Everything else is just theology. Theology will not save you. The search for truth will.
We encourage you to focus on your relationship with the Father, your imitation of the Christ, and doing the work of substitute ambassadors. These are the things that will assure your safety, your security, your survival and your everlasting life.
May you have peace.
On March 22, 2012, we received the following inquiry:
“What is the oil of the lamp Matthew 25:4, and what are the talents 25:15.”
To the author, we thank you for your inquiry. It appears that you are diligently searching Jesus’ words for understanding. That is commendable. However, there is need for some caution when we are looking at parables. Let’s first consider what a parable is and how Jesus used them, as well as what a parable is not.
A parable as used by Jesus was a method of teaching a multitude of people of varying intellects and temperaments. It is hard to speak different words for each class of hearer, but you can tell a story to convey your teaching and each group, even each individual, will be able to make his own interpretation in accordance with his or her own intellectual and spiritual endowments.
Parables stimulate the imagination, challenge the discrimination and provoke critical thinking. They promote sympathy without arousing antagonism and they evade much prejudice, putting new truth gracefully into the mind, all without provoking self-defense or personal resentment. They enable the teacher to present new and even startling truths while at the same time largely avoiding all controversy and outward clashing with tradition and established authority. Thus, parables are an effective teaching tool, but not expressions of direct truth.
And although parables are often confused with allegories, all parables are not allegorical. Allegories are stories where each feature has some hidden meaning. And when we seek to interpret an allegory, we give a precise meaning to each element. It is important to understand that Jesus did not give allegories; he gave parables.
Nevertheless, when we are interpreting parables for the purpose of making some specific point, we are allowed to “allegorize” them, but we must understanding that the interpretation we give is only instructive – not absolute truth.
For example, in Letter No. 4 and Letter No. 5 in “The Seven Letters to the Seven Congregation” we used two parables, and presented them in an allegorical fashion. We made the point Jesus was intending to convey without greatly offending anyone. The interpretation illustrated the need for all anointed Christians to accept their brothers. That was the point of the parable and the audience we were writing to understood that point and, we are told, gained a great deal of benefit from it. Now, with that in mind, let’s address your question.
Because “oil” is a common word and “talent” as used in Bible times referred to a monetary unit, we suspect you are asking us how are we to interpret those terms as utilized in the parables. Keeping in mind what we explained above about the purpose and use of parables, we will first show you what is the purpose of the parable – the lesson Jesus was teaching. The parable reads:
“Then the kingdom of the heavens will become like ten virgins that took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were discreet. For the foolish took their lamps but took no oil with them, whereas the discreet took oil in their receptacles with their lamps. While the bridegroom was delaying, they all nodded and went to sleep. Right in the middle of the night there arose a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Be on you way out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and put their lamps in order. The foolish said to the discreet, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are about to go out.’ The discreet answered with the words, ‘Perhaps there may not be quite enough for us and you. Be on your way, instead, to those who sell it and buy for yourselves.’ While they were going off to buy, the bridegroom arrived, and the virgins that were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterwards the rest of the virgins also came, saying, ‘Sir, sir, open to us!’ In answer he said, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you.’ “Keep on the watch, therefore, because you know neither the day nor the hour.” ”
– Matthew 25:1-14
The lesson Jesus was teaching is set forth in the last verse: stay watchful and do not serve God based on a prescribed day or hour because we do not know when the day or the hour we are waiting for will arrive. According to the Bible, that is what Jesus was teaching – watchfulness and readiness.
Now, if we chose to, we can attempt to “allegorize” the parable and give a title to the five discreet virgins, the five foolish virgins, the oil, the receptacles, the lamps, the bridegroom, the night crier, those who sell oil, the marriage feast, and the shut door. It might be an entertaining and instructive endeavor or it might became a complicated and misguided debacle. Some parables are simply not suitable to be “allegorized.” This may be one of them.
Remember, our challenge as Christians is to get to know Jesus, get to understand what he believed, imitate him, and do the work he commissioned. As you read the parable, what do you think Jesus was trying to tell YOU? If the word “oil” stands out in your mind, contemplate that and remain watchful and ready. If the word “virgin” stands out in your mind, contemplate that and remain watchful and ready. If the word “lamp” stands out in your mind, contemplate that and remain watchful and ready, etc.
As to the next parable you referred to in Matthew 25:14-30 of the “talents” we direct you to our response in Question and Response March 5, 2012. We did not therein attempt to “allegorize” the parable in all its features, but we were able to glean important and instructive information. We saw the lesson to be: Whatever asset you have that can be used in the Father’s service, use it and be diligent about doing so, because failure to do so will result in great disappointment to you and your future hopes. Notice how this is explained in verse 29 and 30:
“For to everyone that has, more will be given and he will have abundance; but as for him that does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw the good-for-nothing slave out into the darkness outside. There is where [his] weeping and the gnashing of [his] teeth will be.’”
– Matthew 25:29-30
Our point is to not screen the gnats, but to focus on the big picture. When considering any parable, try to discern the lesson Jesus was teaching. Engage yourself in the exciting and fulfilling adventure of spiritual insight and growth rather than mere theological understanding.
If you would like more clarification on this issue, please feel free to write again.
Your brothers in the faith.