End-times prophecies, last days, eschatology, Second Coming of Christ, the Antichrist, the Tribulation, the Millennium, the Rapture, the Resurrection, Revelation, Dispensational teaching, the Preterist viewpoint, 70 Weeks of Daniel, Authors Pentecost, Walvoord, Gundry, Russell, Hanegraaf.
My apologies for the long delay in
getting this article posted.
I am dividing the discussion into
three parts.The first two parts will
discuss J. Dwight Pentecost’s views on the chapter as he wrote in his book Things to Come.I shall divide his discussion into a
discussion of 25:1-30 (the present article) and a discussion of 25:31-46.Then I shall discuss John Walvoord’s views.Both of these writers are prominent
Dispensationalists.I shall not discuss
Preterist views on this chapter.I
believe the major views of Preterism have been illustrated by discussions of
chapter 24 of Matthew.I shall possibly
discuss some Preterist views later in relation to other passages in the future.
OVERVIEW OF PENTECOST’S VIEW OF
Pentecost considers that the Olivet
Discourse returns to a “chronological” account of the destiny of Israel in
25:1.He bases that view, to a great
degree, on the word “then.”Whereas
Christ has given “illustrative instructions” in the latter part of chapter 24,
He signals His return to chronology with “then” (as in King James and English
Standard Versions; “at that time” in New International Version).He also asserts that the use of “weeping and
gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30, English Standard Version) is only in
reference to Israel, and this is evidence that these passages refer to a
judgment of Israel (Pentecost, 283).Just
as Pentecost believes the entire Discourse relates to Israel, so he believes
25:1-30 is an indication of the judgment of Israel in a period between the
Second Coming of Christ and the beginning of the Millennium.(Pentecost, 282 and 283)
The parable of the virgins is an
indication that some Israelites living at the time of the Second Coming will be
accepted into the Millennial reign of Christ and some will be rejected.The parable of the talents also indicates
that there will be rewards given to individual Israelites.
PENTECOST’S VIEWS OF THE PARABLE OF
the parable of the ten virgins the Lord is indicating that, following the
regathering of Israel (Matt. 24:31), the next event will be the judging of
living Israel on the earth to determine who will go into the kingdom.” (Pentecost,
282)Pentecost quotes English to expand
on this understanding:“The ten virgins
represent the remnant of Israel after the church has been taken.The five wise virgins are the believing
remnant, the foolish virgins the unbelieving who only profess to be looking for
Messiah’s coming in power.” (Pentecost, 283)
takes the “parable” of the virgins and the bridegroom to represent events that
will affect Israel in the Tribulation period as well as at the Second Coming.
·During the Tribulation period Israel
will be witnessed to concerning the coming of the Messiah to bring the Kingdom
as well as the truth of Jesus’ death on the cross and redemption in Him.As a result of this witness—which includes a
witness from Elijah—multitudes of Israelites will be saved (Pentecost, (237-238).
·The church, which is the Bride of
Christ, will be resurrected/raptured just before the Tribulation (70th
Week) period begins.In heaven, the
church will be married to Christ, just before the Second Coming.When the Second Coming occurs, Jesus will
return with His Bride.Believing Israel,
that is, those who have believed the witness of Elijah, will be invited to
attend the Marriage Feast, which is the entire Millennial reign of Christ.
(Pentecost, 227 and 237-238)“[The] King
is seen in the role of Bridegroom at His coming, indicating that the marriage
has taken place.” (Pentecost, 206)
·The judgment, which is represented by
the parables of the virgins and the talents, will be a judgment of living
Israelites, who have been gathered at the Second Coming, as Pentecost
interprets Matthew 24:31 (Pentecost, 414).
PENTECOST’S VIEW OF THE PARABLE OF
considers the parable of the talents to refer to the same judgment of “living
Israel,” those of Israel who have survived the Tribulation period.The gathering of the “elect” that is
mentioned in Matthew 24:31 brings this group to Israel to stand judgment before
Christ to determine who will participate in the Millennial reign of Christ
(Pentecost, 284, 414-415).
rewards, that are handed out to those who invested the talents and gained more,
represent the rewards that will be given to these saved persons.The servants were rewarded by being entrusted
with “much.”(English Standard Version—ESV)At this point, Pentecost’s eschatology gets
very complicated as well as self-contradictory.To sort through this, I shall divide his conclusions into two
issues.Both of these ideas are base on
his analysis of other Scriptures besides the Olivet Discourse, and I shall not
do a detailed analysis of those Scriptures.
·First, is his concurrence with the idea
that the Millennial kingdom will be presided over by a vice-regent under the
authority of Christ.
·Second, is his idea that the New
Jerusalem will be present during the Millennium.
uses the present Scripture as a confirmation of a vice-regency in the
Millennium:“Since Scripture reveals
that the government of the millennium will be under the authority of Christ,
but exercised under Him by appointed men (Matt. 19:28; Matt. 25:21 and Luke
19:17), there is no conflict in seeing the prince as a vice-regent under
Christ.”(Pentecost, 530)By “prince,” he means either the resurrected
King David or a descendant of David.
second conclusion concerning the parable of the talents is that the indication
of delegation of authority as rewards is not only extended to the living
Israelites who are saved, but also to resurrected Israelite saints (Pentecost, 544).He makes this conclusion as part of his
discussion of the New Jerusalem.Pentecost believes that the New Jerusalem will descend TOWARD earth (but
not touch it) during the Millennium (Pentecost, 546).It will contain the church plus Old Testament
and Tribulation saints who have all been resurrected at various stage of the
“first resurrection” (Pentecost, 543).Therefore, resurrected Israelite saints will have authority during the
Millennium, but will exercise that authority from the New Jerusalem:
In this passage
[Matthew 25:14-30], which teaches the fact of Israel’s judgment and
reward…while the rewards are…positions of privilege and responsibility in the
millennium, the individual is not said to be placed in the millennium itself,
but rather he exercises his authority during the millennium.(Pentecost, 544)
in another place, Pentecost states (Pentecost, 414) that the judgment referred
to by the parables in Matthew 25:1-30 only refers to “living Israel” at the
time of the Second Coming.This does not
necessarily disprove his thesis about resurrected saints, but it does seem to
contradict his application of the parable of the talents to resurrected
saints.It also creates the question of
when the judgment of resurrected Israelites would take place.
The other group of Israelites that
is mentioned in both of the parables is composed of those who are not
saved.Their destiny is “to be cut off”
(25:30) (Pentecost, 415).Pentecost does
not elaborate on what that means.
Pentecost and other
Dispensationalists have a very complex system of Biblical interpretation.Therefore, I am hesitant to “take on” that
system when I am commenting on a very small portion of Scripture.
THE PARABLE OF THE VIRGINS
Pentecost maintains that the word
“then” (Greek tote) signals that
Jesus is resuming His chronological narrative.The narrative ends at verse 31 and is followed by a series of
exhortations that are illustrated by parables and other comparisons.For example, there are the parable of the fig
tree and the comparison with the days of Noah.It seems to me that this parable continues that same series.First, the use of a parable is not consistent
with the chronological presentation in 24:4-31, but it is consistent with the
exhortations in 24:32-51.The parable of
the virgins ends with the exhortation to “Watch, for you know neither the day
nor the hour” (ESV).The word “then” is
found in verse 40 in the midst of the exhortation to be ready because these
events will come upon people who are either ready or are oblivious to what God
is doing, just as in the days of Noah.“Then”
(tote) can be translated “at that
time,” which does not indicate a chronological or rhetorical advancement.Instead, in both 24:40 and 25:1, it refers to
the events of 24:29-31.So, this
illustration does not, it seems to me, take up new chronological material, but,
rather is an exhortation to watchfulness.
The substance of the parable (or
allegory—it is often difficult to distinguish these) is a story of 10 virgins,
five of whom carry a supply of oil and five who do not.When the bridegroom is announced, the five
foolish virgins must rush out to buy oil and the five wise ones enter into the
wedding banquet.The foolish virgins
call to the lord of the feast and ask him to open the door, but he says, “I do
not know you.”Then, comes the
application:“Watch therefore, for you
know neither the day nor the hour” (ESV).
Pentecost recognizes the point of
the parable:“Those with light will be
admitted and those without it are excluded.Those with life are received and those without life are rejected.”
(Pentecost, 284)However, for him,
“those” are either saved or unsaved people of the nation of Israel.“This could not picture the rapture, for no
unsaved go out to meet him at that time.”(Pentecost, 283)However, in his
set of scenarios, I find some confusion.
·He maintains that both believing and
unbelieving Israelites are gathered by the angels in the event mentioned in
Matthew 24:31.This event is practically
simultaneous with the Lord’s Second Coming.
·He maintains that before the Millennium
begins there is a judgment of these two groups.The saved (those who have received Christ through the witnessing that
goes on during the Tribulation) are admitted into the Millennium, and the
unsaved are “cut off.”
·First, I find it problematical that
Pentecost understands that when the angels “gather his elect” they will bring
both saved and unsaved Israel!
·Second, it does not seem to me that
angels gathering people is the same as those people going out to meet the
fact, Pentecost has tried to force the parable of the virgins to “fit” his
scenario and has created more problems than he has solved.
Jesus has given a series of
illustrations and comparisons that emphasize the need for spiritual readiness
at His Second Coming.Don’t be like the
people of Noah’s day—wrapped up with the daily concerns of life and oblivious
to the judgment of God on the evil days.Don’t be like the householder who did not set a watch for the thief in
the night—not being concerned that the Lord is coming back to set things in
order.Be like the faithful and wise
servant who does his duties and is attentive to the needs of his fellow
servant.The Lord will come and “catch
him” in his faithfulness.Don’t be like
the wicked servant who takes the Lord’s delay as a signal to become a drunk and
cruel to his fellow servants.The Lord
will “catch him” in his evil and reject him.So, now the Lord gives another illustration:be like the five wise virgins.They have oil for their lamps; they are ready
for the midnight arrival of the Lord.Don’t be like the five foolish virgins.They have no spare oil and their oil has run out.When the Lord arrives at midnight, they will not
be ready.They do not have spiritual
life, either because they have never received it or because they have apostatized.
This parable looks back to the
climatic events of Matthew 24:29-31.It
is a commentary on the predictive narrative in Matthew 24:4-31 and especially
on its climax.
The separation of people between
those who join with Jesus and those who are rejected by Him that is highlighted
in this parable is also found in the earlier statements in 24:40-41.It seems fairly obvious that the Second
Coming events are in view in 24:40-41, so that the Second Coming itself will be
an occasion for separation of people.That same principle is illustrated by the parable of the virgins.One need not postulate a separate judgment
for this separation to take place.
In view of all this, I do not
believe that this parable can justify a rejection of a Post-Tribulation Rapture
of the church.Pentecost has rejected
that theory on other grounds.He has
also postulated a judgment of Israel before the Millennium on other grounds.He imposes that theory upon the parable of
the virgins, but I do not believe the parable supports his theory.
PARABLE OF THE TALENTS
Pentecost imposes an interpretation
on this parable that comes out of his overall eschatology with limited
investigation of the passage itself.
parable/allegory imparts a number of truths:
·That people receive “talents” from the
Lord.A talent was a unit of money in
that time.The parable does not give us
much information as to what the Lord was using the term to represent.From the fact that the reward to the faithful
servants was to be given to be “set you over much,” I would take the talents to
represent responsibilities or opportunities to be productive in spiritual
matters.That can cover a wide
range—natural abilities, education, social position, places of responsibility
in the church, family.This list could
go on and on.
·There is a settling of accounts.People will have to give an account for how
they have used the opportunities the Lord has given to them.
·Those who have invested those
opportunities and have experienced victories will be rewarded by having even
greater opportunities, responsibilities, and power.
·Those who have distrusted the character
of the Lord will display that distrust by how they have misused the
opportunities the Lord has given to them.
·The reward for this kind of behavior—hiding
one’s talents or opportunities in the ground and expecting the worst from the
Lord—will be to lose what little one has.“But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
·The final destiny of the evil servant is
to be cast into outer darkness.His
perception of the Lord was not the perception of faith.
·The faithful servants are invited to
enter into the joy of their Lord.They
have been in partnership with the Lord and are joint-heirs with Him.
·This parable gives us an insight into
one aspect of the basis for judgment, an aspect that perceives our relationship
with the Lord as a partnership.When the
Lord called Abraham, He told Abraham “in you all the families of the earth
shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3, ESV)This broadened Abraham’s calling to place him in partnership the Lord’s
question we must ask is:how does this
parable tie in with the rest of the Olivet Discourse?There is a constant theme of separation throughout the passage.The flood took almost everyone away except
for Noah and his family.In the day when
the Lord returns, two will be in the field and be separated.Two will be at mill and be separated.There will faithful servants and evil
servants and they will be separated.There will wise virgins and foolish virgins and they will be
separated.The exact nature of the
separation and the timing of the separation is not necessarily given in detail
in the Discourse.Nevertheless, when
Jesus returns, there will a separation of righteous and unrighteous, believing
and unbelieving, faithful and unfaithful.The call to readiness for the Lord’s return has eternal
there will be a Millennium and the details of how that will play out, I do not
believe is answered in this Discourse.I
have a somewhat different idea about Israel and how it relates to the church
than Pentecost.I do not believe those
questions are answered to any degree in the Olivet Discourse.Pentecost has recognized the general gist of
the parable of the talents in recognizing the reward to faithful people by
entrusting even greater responsibilities to them.He has taken the parable and imposed upon it
his ideas of the Millennium and of the destiny of Israel.I do not believe the parable itself nor does
the rest of the Discourse provide evidence for his view.
Bibles (2009-04-09). ESV Study Bible (Kindle Locations 18434-18436). Good News
Publishers. Kindle Edition.
J. Dwight.Things to Come.Grand
Rapids, MI:Zondervan Publ. Co. 1958.