Q369 : Is the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins a Literal Judgment?

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Q369 : Is the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins a Literal Judgment?

This is a follow-on question to a previous questiona.

This paragraph from Pentecost's book "Things to Come,"2 is what really spurred on this line of thinking.

The Judgement on Israel: The chronology of prophesied events is resumed after the illustrative instructions by the word "then" of Matthew 25:1. In 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 the living Israel on the earth to determine who will go into the kingdom. This has been anticipated in Matthew 24:28, where unbelieving Israel is likened unto a lifeless corpse which is consigned to the vultures, a picture of judgement.3

I understand that you are saying the tribulation as a whole is a refining process to bring Israel into faith, and that they ALL will believe and be saved at some point. But you believe that at the time of Matthew 24:31, it will "need not require Jewish unbelievers for fulfillment." Which means you are saying that after Matthew 24:31 there will only be believing Jews left on the earth, where Pentecost is saying that there is another event AFTER Matt 24:31 where God will sift the believing Jews from the unbelieving Jews.

So do you just disagree with Pentecost that there isn't a separate event after Matt 24:31?


1.Ref-0050, 282
3.Ref-0050, 282


Ref-0050J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come : A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958).

A369 : by Tony Garland

In a word: YES.

To elaborate...

I take Matthew 24:31 as associated with the actual Second Coming of Christ — His physical arrival at the end of the Tribulation. I do not take everything in Matthew 24 and 25 as pertaining specifically to the Second Coming. Rather, it is my view that much of what is taught therein is associated with the period leading up to His arrival.

This includes a series of teachings which all warn of the need to be ready for His arrival at an unexpected time:

  • The "as in the days of Noah" warning concerning two in the field, two grinding, where one is taken (in judgment) and the other remains (Matthew 24:36-42)
  • His arrival as a thief upon an unsuspecting household (Matthew 24:43-44)
  • The faithful and evil servants (Matthew 24:45-51)
  • The wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)
  • The faithful and lazy servants (Matthew 25:14-30)
I take these as parables, and not exclusively Jewish in application—but applying to believers and unbelievers (including professing believers) of all ethnic groups. Nor do I see them as setting out a specific series of judgment events associated with the physical arrival of Christ at the Second Coming.

In my view, Christ is simply teaching the need to be ready and actively engaged in faithful service during the period of time preceding His return. In the case of His arrival as a thief, I take this to be associated with the arrival of the Day of the Lord upon an unsuspecting world (1Th. 5:2 cf. Luke 12:40; 21:34-36; 2Pe. 3:10; Rev. 3:3)—not the day of His physical arrival at the Second Coming.

In my opinion, these warning passages, including the one pertaining to the wise and foolish virgins, do not relate to specific physical judgements which attend His arrival. (From Matthew 25:31 and following being the exception: following upon the Second Coming—due to how the judgment is anchored in verse 31.)

Thus, the separation of two in the field, two grinding, faithful and evil servants, wise and foolish virgins, and faithful and lazy servants represent teaching aids directed at peoples of all ethnicity living in the historic period stretching from the ministry of Jesus up to, but especially ushering in of the Day of the Lord judgments. Those "taken," "broken into," "cut in two," "shut out," and "cast into outer darkness" are all unbelievers—including some who profess Christ—who do not find entry into the kingdom which follows upon Christ's physical return.

They ways in which they are precluded from participation include the events between His arrival "as a thief" upon an unsuspecting world (not His physical return, but events of judgment ushering in the Day of the Lord) and His return at the end of the Tribulation (His physical return).1

So, yes, I part ways with Dr. Pentecost over the specificity of the parable of the virgins—I don't take it as describing a literal event that will occur at the Second Coming, but one of numerous teaching parables concerning the need for readiness leading up to the Second Coming. (I believe Scripture also teaches that true believers will be ready: 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. (1Th 5:4)

Arnold Fruchtenbaum, a former student of Dr. Pentecost, takes the passage much as I do.3.

Even though I may disagree with Pentecost on this, I consider his book “Things to Come” as perhaps the most through treatise on eschatology every written.4

I hope that makes my view clearer.


1.Considerable confusion abounds due to misunderstanding concerning the various "coming as a thief" passages taught by Jesus. His arrival as a thief is an intentional negative metaphor, will not catch believers off-guard, and will occur during a time of relative global peace. It does not have in view either the rapture or the Second Coming—but can be essentially tied to the Lamb's removal of the first seal from the scroll triggering the judgments of the Day of the Lord leading up to the Second Coming (Revelation 6). He arrives as a thief, in judgment, upon a relatively peaceful world and ushers is the unique time of global disruption described in the latter portions of the Book of Revelation and throughout much of the OT. 5 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. ((1Th 5:3)
2.Ref-0219, 645-646
4.Pentecost’s and Fruchtenbaum’s works are must-read resources for anyone serious about Biblical prophecy.


Ref-0219Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003).

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