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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 25 - Verse 1

 

MATTHEW CHAPTER 25

Verse 1. Then shall the kingdom of heaven. See Barnes "Mt 3:2".

The phrase here refers to his coming in the day of judgment.

Shall be likened. Or shall resemble. The meaning is, when the Son of man returns to judgment, it shall be as it was in the case of ten virgins in a marriage ceremony. The coming of Christ to receive his people to himself is often represented under the similitude of a marriage—the church being represented as his spouse or bride. The marriage relation is the most tender, firm, and endearing of any known on earth, and on this account it fitly represents the union of believers to Christ. See Mt 9:15; Joh 3:29; Re 19:7; 21:9; Eph 5:25-32.

 

Ten virgins. These virgins, doubtless, represent the church—a name given to it because it is pure and holy. See 2 Co 11:2; La 1:15; 2:13.

 

Which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. The lamps used on such occasions were rather torches or flamebeaux. They were made by winding rags around pieces of iron or earthenware, sometimes hollowed so as to contain oil, and fastened to handles of wood. These torches were dipped in oil, and gave a large light. Marriage ceremonies in the East were conducted with great pomp and Solemnity. The ceremony of marriage was performed commonly in the open air, on the banks of a stream. Both the bridegroom and bride were attended by friends; they were escorted in a palanquin, carried by four or more persons. After the ceremony of marriage succeeded a feast of seven days if the bride was a virgin, or three days if she was a widow. This feast was celebrated in her father's house. At the end of that time the bridegroom conducted the bride, with great pomp and splendour, to his own home. This was done in the evening, or at night, Jer 7:34; 25:10; 33:11.

Many friends and relations attended them; and besides those who went with them from the house of the bride, there was another company that came out from the house of the bridegroom to meet them, and welcome them. These were probably female friends and relatives of the bridegroom, who went out to welcome him and his new companion to their home. These are the virgins mentioned in this parable. Not knowing precisely the time when the procession would come, they probably went out early, and waited by the way till they should see indications of its approach. In the celebration of marriages in the East at the present day, many of the peculiar customs of ancient times are observed. At a Hindoo marriage, says a modern missionary, "the procession of which I saw some years ago, the bridegroom came from a distance, and the bride lived at Serampore, to which place the bridegroom was to come by water. After waiting two or three hours, at length, near midnight, it was announced, in the very words of Scripture, 'Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.' All the persons employed now lighted their lamps, and ran with them in their hands to fill up their stations in the procession; some of them had lost their lights, and were unprepared, but it was then too late to seek them, and the cavalcade moved forward to the house of the bride; at which place the company entered a large and splendidly illuminated area, before the house, covered with an awning, where a great multitude of friends, dressed in their best apparel, were seated upon mats. The bridegroom was carried in the arms of a friend, and placed in a superb seat in the midst of the company, where he sat a short time, and then went into the house, the door of which was immediately shut, and guarded by sepoys. I and others expostulated with the door-keepers, but in vain. Never was I so struck with our Lord's beautiful parable as at this moment—'And the door was shut.'"

The journal of one of the American missionaries in Greece contains an account of an Armenian wedding which she attended; and, after describing the dresses and previous ceremonies, she says, that at twelve o'clock at night, precisely, the cry was made by some of the attendants, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; and immediately five or six men set off to meet him.

Bridegroom. A man newly married.

{s} "virgins" Ps 45:14; So 6:8,9; 2 Co 11:2

{t} "bridegroom" Joh 3:29

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