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The Bridegroom and the Bride

by Jim Rowe

     As Jesus was preparing His disciples for his coming departure, they asked a three-fold question in Matthew 24:3. The last of these three questions was “ and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? “

     Jesus’ response was followed by a series of three parables in an effort to explain His answer. One of these is referred to as ‘the parable of the ten virgins’. While having read and studied this scripture many times, the real message was not understood well until learning more of the Jewish wedding customs of that day. These customs were unlike those most of us are acquainted with today.

Some questions that we may raise while considering this parable:

    Jesus answered their question by using a typical Jewish event of a wedding in order to demonstrate to them the sequence of events of the end times. Since they would have been well aware of these wedding events, the illustration would be understood by them. However; such wedding customs are generally not understood by Christians of today.

Let’s consider some of the general practices of the Jewish wedding in Bible times.

  1. The family of the groom gained, and the family of the bride lost, a valuable member who helped with all household tasks. It was reasonable, therefore, that the father of the groom should pay the father of the bride the equivalent of her value as a useful member of the family. This price paid by the father of the groom to the father of the bride was called mohar.
  2. At the betrothal the woman was considered legally married, although she still remained in her father’s house. She could not belong to another man unless she was divorced from her betrothed (her father). The wedding meant only that the betrothed woman, accompanied by a colorful procession, was brought from her father’s house to the house of her groom, and the legal tie with him was consummated.
  3. The newly married man usually did not found a new home for himself, but occupied a nook in his father’s house. Following the betrothal, the groom would generally return to his father’s house and make preparations for receiving his new bride. This might include adding a room to that house.
  4. After this house had been prepared for his bride, the bridegroom would then make his way to the home of his bride and take her to his home (usually his father’s house) for a feast of celebration (The wedding feast).

Now; lets consider the characters of the parable and how they relate to us.

Matthew 25:1-13 (ASV)
1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For the foolish, when they took their lamps, took no oil with them: 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 Now while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 But at midnight there is a cry, Behold, the bridegroom! Come ye forth to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Peradventure there will not be enough for us and you: go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went away to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage feast: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour.

            As we consider this parable, it is extremely helpful if we have some understanding of the marriage customs of the Jewish people. This parable uses the Jewish customs of wedding arrangements to illustrate the promise that God was giving to His people. These customs would have been well known to those listening to the words of Jesus. However, most of us today are not familiar with these customs.

The following is an attempt to give some current day understanding to this parable.

As a Jewish marriage was arranged:

  1. The commitment was made for the bride to be wed to the groom.
  2. A great price would be paid by the bridegroom’s Father for the bride.
  3. The bridegroom and bride are contract bound together
  4. The groom would typically return to his home to prepare his house to receive his new bride.
  5. When the house was ready, the groom would go to the home of the bride to claim her and take her to the home that had been prepared. (While the bride might have some idea as to when the bridegroom would return, she did know exactly when this would occur.)

What is the “lesson”? (How does is apply to us?)

  1. Jesus is the bridegroom.
  2. The church is His bride.
  3. The bridegroom (Jesus) has made a commitment to the bride (the church)
  4. God (The Father) pays a great price (His Son’s life) for the bride (the church)
  5. The bridegroom and bride are contract bound (promised by God’s Word)
  6. The bridegroom (Jesus) returns to his home (heaven) to make the house ready for his bride (the church). (See John 14:1-3)
  7. The bridegroom tarries (2 Peter 3:9-10) (We are given information of the world conditions (the season) of the bridegroom’s return, we do not know exactly when this will occur.)
  8. The bridegroom (Jesus) returns for his bride (the church) (See 1 Thes. 4:13-18) (The question (lesson) is whether the church will be prepared for being taken home to be with Jesus.)

 

     Jim Rowe studied at Louisville Bible College and attends Hikes Point Christian Church in Louisville, KY.           




One Response to “The Bridegroom and the Bride”

  1. A. J. Istre says:

    Excellent and much needed teaching.



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