Learned Biblical writers warn us that we should never build theology from parables, but rather to treat Christ’s parables as commentaries, Midrash, on foundational Biblical teaching.
Hence the picture language of parables should be left as incidental to the story, as we seek to know the underlying truth the Master was teaching. In the last PT I focused only on the Bride. But to try to interpret who all the other people were in the three stories is a difficult task, and one that requires us to pay attention to what the learned Bible teachers said about parables. Moving on from there is the following.
One thing that keeps on turning up, not only in the Ten Virgins parable, but throughout the N.T. is the word Watch. The word is found plentifully in Jesus’ teaching. What did He mean? I was asking myself this question, wondering what I was supposed to be “looking for”, but I was instructed by my daughter Ruth that the word meant “be alert”. That was helpful, and I verified it from the Lexicon. In Greek it is grégorio, from which we have the name Gregory. Instead of looking for something, like “signs of the times”, I was being told to keep alert.
But what in practice does it mean to keep alert? May I perhaps offer suggestions based on a couple of references. First of all 1 Peter 5:8. ” Be sober! Be on the alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your brothers in the world.” In other words, don’t capsize under pressure, but interpret suffering as a sure sign of your new birth in Christ, which the Devil attacks. Keep alert!
Second, Rev.3:2. “Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God. Remember therefore what you have received and heard; keep it, and repent. But if you are not alert, I will come like a thief, and you have no idea at what hour I will come against you.” In this case the emphasis is on holding fast to the implanted words of the Lord, read them, share them, declare them, don’t allow forgetfulness or worldly pressures rob you of your reward when the Day comes. Keep alert!
I have been much exercised by these thoughts, and felt led to share them. Let us therefore be Gregorians!