Prophecy on Mount Olivet
By Arlen L. Chitwood
The Door was Shut
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us!”
But he answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.”
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. (Matthew 25:10-13)
The Lord places a premium on His people watching and being prepared for His return. This is the crux of the message throughout the Christian section of the Olivet Discourse:
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:42, 44)
The day is coming when the “Master of the house” is going to rise up and close the door (Luke 13:25). And when the Lord closes a door, an entirely new situation comes into existence:
The Lord “opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens” (Revelation 3:7).
When the Lord opens a door, an opportunity exists for man to act in a specific realm; and no man can shut that door.
However, when the Lord closes a door that He had previously opened, man’s opportunity to act in a particular realm ceases to exist; and no man can reopen that door. The parable of the ten virgins is brought to a conclusion by the Bridegroom closing a previously opened door. The closed door separated those in possession of the extra portion of oil from those not in possession of this extra portion, leaving the prepared on the inside and the unprepared on the outside.
The closed door separated those who had availed themselves of the opportunity to acquire that which is referenced by the extra portion of Oil — the filling of the Holy Spirit — from those who had not availed themselves of this opportunity.
As a result, those allowed on the inside had previously been able to overcome in the spiritual warfare (for they had possessed that which was necessary to overcome), and those left on the outside had previously been unable to overcome in the spiritual warfare (for they had not possessed that which was necessary to overcome [see Chapter 14 in this book]).
Thus, the closed door separated two groups of individuals, one from the other:
1) Those granted the privilege of attending and participating in the wedding festivities (those in possession of the extra portion of Oil, the filling of the Spirit, allowing them to have previously overcome in the spiritual warfare).
2) Those denied this privilege (those not in possession of the extra portion of Oil, the filling of the Spirit, which had left them in no position to overcome).
The Bridegroom Came
The Bridegroom departed at the beginning of the present dispensation. He ascended into heaven to “prepare a place” in the Father’s house for those who are to ascend the throne and reign as co-heirs with Him during the coming age.
His departure into heaven to perform a present work on behalf of His future co-heirs is in perfect keeping with God’s purpose for the entire present dispensation. And the whole of the matter, in turn, is in perfect keeping with the reason for man’s very existence, the purpose for man’s creation in the beginning.
In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:2, 3)
At Christ’s first coming He paid the price for man’s redemption on Calvary’s cross. A change then occurred in God’s dispensational dealings with man. The house of Israel had previously been left desolate; and very near the beginning of that time (fifty-five days after Christ had left the house desolate [Matthew 23:38; 26:1, 2; Acts 2:1ff; cf. Leviticus 23:15, 16]), God called into existence and began to deal with a new household that was neither Jewish nor Gentile.
Individuals redeemed on the basis of Christ’s sacrificial work at Calvary, from among both Jew and Gentile, formed an entirely new creation. This was the “one new man” in Christ, forming a new household within God’s dispensational dealings (cf. Matthew 23:38; 24:42-51; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:15). And Christ is presently in heaven performing a work on behalf of those within this household — preparing a place for them, which, first and foremost, would have to do with His work as High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, on behalf of Christians (cf. John 13:4-12; Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 John 1:6-2:2).
The present dispensation and all events connected with this dispensation (beginning with the house of Israel being left desolate) result from Israel’s rejection of the kingdom of the heavens (Matthew 21:33-44). Israel has been set aside while God removes from the Gentiles “a people for His name” to be the recipient of that which Israel rejected. Those who were “not a people” have now become “the people of God” (Acts 15:14; Ephesians 2:12; 1 Peter 2:10 [although believing Jews are included within this “one new man,” Gentiles are singled out in these verses because the “one new man” is taken mainly from among the Gentiles — from those who, before being removed from the Gentiles, had been “aliens . . . having no hope and without God in the world”]).
God has reserved to Himself two days, two thousand years, to deal with a new household in view of His Son’s coming rule from the heavens over the earth; and the Son’s present ministry in heaven on behalf of those in this household is with the same end in view.
Christ’s departure into heaven to “prepare a place” for His co-heirs must be looked upon as a divine work with a view to the Messianic Era (though, in reality, everything in Scripture, save parts of the closing two and one-half chapters of Scripture [Revelation 20b-22], either moves toward or deals with this era). The word “prepare” refers to making ready for something out ahead, which in this case could only have to do with preparations for the Messianic Era (cf. Matthew 3:3; Mark 14:15, 16). In this respect, Christ is presently in heaven performing a present work for those who are to ascend the throne with Him in that coming day.
Preparing a place for Christians in John 14:2, 3 is often erroneously thought of in the sense of a present construction of the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem though is a city within the Father’s house that was brought into existence either prior to or during the days of Abraham (Hebrews 11:16), not the Father’s house (note the expression “all things are ready” in Matthew 22:4, which refers to a time prior to the existence of the Church and would necessitate the new Jerusalem having been completed at that time).
God’s house includes everything under His sovereign control, and a place is being prepared by Christ for Christians within the sphere of His control. The words “many mansions” (John 14:2, KJV/NKJV) are somewhat misleading in this respect and should literally be translated “abiding places.”
Christ is the appointed “Heir of all things,” and Christians are being invited to jointly realize this inheritance with Him (Hebrews 1:2; Romans 8:17). Christ will occupy His own throne during that day, and overcoming Christians will sit with Him on this throne (Revelation 3:21). These are the things that are in view in John 14:1-3. The “abiding places” that He has gone away to prepare are places with Him, positions with Him, in the coming kingdom.
These are abiding places within the Father’s house, within the sphere of God’s sovereign control of matters as they pertain to this earth; and in that coming day all of this will be under the authority and control of the One who has been appointed Heir, along with His co-heirs. Overcoming Christians will dwell in the New Jerusalem, but they will occupy their place in the kingdom with Christ, seated with Him upon His throne.
The Son’s present preparatory work in heaven not only anticipates but it demands His return to receive His servants (the word “receive” in John 14:3 is a translation of the Greek word paralambano. The literal thought is “to receive alongside [as companions].” This is the same word translated “taken” in Matthew 24:40, 41 [ref. Chapter 10 in this book]).
Individuals are being saved today with a view to the coming kingdom; and Christ’s present work, being performed on behalf of these individuals, is with the same end in view. It is with a view to receiving them alongside (as companions) to occupy the place He is presently preparing, making ready.
Though man may ignore Christ’s return, may put that event far from him, Christ will one day return, just as He said. Then, one door that is now open will be closed forever.
(Both the Spirit and the Son are presently preforming works on behalf of Christians. And both are related works, having the same end in view, which will be realized during that future millennial day.
The Spirit is in the world performing a work having to do with His primary mission during the present dispensation — the search for and acquisition of a bride for the Son [Genesis 24:1ff]. And the Son is in heaven performing a work for the bride whom the Spirit is acquiring [John 13:4-12].
And the end of the matter is seen in the four parables in the Christian section of the Olivet Discourse.)
The Wedding Festivities
The word “wedding [KJV: ‘marriage”]” (Matthew 25:10) should literally be understood as wedding festivities or marriage festivities. And festivities of this nature could either precede or follow the actual marriage.
Within the framework of that to which these festivities refer in Christendom (seen in Revelation 19:7-9), “the marriage” itself, as seen in the book of Revelation, will still be future at this time. Thus, the reference can only be to festivities preceding the marriage.
The same is true in a previous parable, the parable of the King preparing festivities for the marriage of His Son, in Matthew 22:2-14 (another picture of the same thing seen in vv. 10-12 of the parable of the ten virgins). In this parable, preparations were made for the festivities, having to do with a banquet.
As previously seen, the festivities referenced in both of these parables (Matthew 22:2-14; 25:1-13) have to do with that which is seen in Revelation 19:7-9, “the marriage [marriage festivities] of the Lamb.” And the context of these festivities in the book of Revelation clearly shows that these festivities will precede the actual marriage.
(The marriage of the Lamb itself is a legal transaction between the Father and His Son, and it will take place as a result of the judgments that will occur by and through the breaking of the seals on the seven-sealed scroll in Revelation chapter five — judgments that will be completed only after Christ returns and destroys Gentile world power.
The marriage festivities though occur in heaven immediately preceding Christ’s return.
Once all of the judgments that are seen by and through the breaking of the seals on the seven-sealed scroll have been brought to pass, the marriage will have occurred. And the bride will, at this point in time, become the Lamb’s wife.)
One should be careful at this point to avoid interpreting Scripture in the light of marriage customs in the Western World, or even at times in the East, during modern times. Marriage in the East during ancient times (and even in many instances during modern times) was performed by and through a legal transaction. Examples of Eastern marriage customs in this respect can be seen in Jacob’s marriage to both Leah and Rachel and in Boaz’s marriage to Ruth.
Jacob contracted with Laban to work seven years for his daughter, Rachel. At the conclusion of the seven years, Rachel, within Jacob’s thinking, became his wife, for the terms of the contract had been fulfilled (Genesis 29:18-21). A seven-day festival was then held (cf. vv. 22, 27), but at the end of the first evening of the festival Laban tricked Jacob by giving him Leah, the firstborn, rather than Rachel. And Jacob didn’t know until the next morning that he had been deceived.
Then, to acquire Rachel as his wife, for whom he had already worked seven years, he had to first fulfill Leah’s week (that is, complete the week-long wedding festival) and then agree to serve Laban an additional seven years. Jacob fulfilled Leah’s week, and Laban then gave him Rachel as his wife also with the understanding that he would work seven additional years (vv. 23-28).
Thus, the actual marriage ceremony is seen being performed two completely different ways in the passage (Genesis 29:20-30):
1) In Jacob’s marriage to Leah, festivities followed the marriage contract being fulfilled (working seven years for Laban), with the marriage having occurred preceding the festivities.
2) In Jacob’s subsequent marriage to Rachel (seven days later), festivities occurred before the marriage, with the marriage occurring before the marriage contract had been fulfilled (working seven additional years for Laban).
Then, in the book of Ruth, Boaz married Ruth by fulfilling the requirements of a kinsman-redeemer. He redeemed a previously sold inheritance at the gate of Bethlehem, which also involved taking Ruth as his wife to satisfy an Israeli law concerning widows.
A nearer kinsman than Boaz was first afforded opportunity to redeem the inheritance, but since redemption also involved taking Ruth as his wife, he was unable to fulfill the part of a kinsman-redeemer. This left Boaz free to act in this capacity; and the marriage itself was performed within the legal, redemptive ceremony before ten elders at the gate of the city (Ruth 4:1ff).
Note that the brides were not present in either Jacob’s two dealings with Laban or in Boaz’s dealings with the elders at the gate of Bethlehem. The marriages in all three instances occurred through legal transactions that involved fulfilling certain requirements — work in Jacob’s case, and redemption of a piece of property in Boaz’s case.
With these things in mind, one should be able to clearly see that there is a sharp distinction in Scripture between a marriage on the one hand and the wedding festivities on the other. Biblical typology clearly reveals that the actual marriage between Christ and His bride will occur only after He has redeemed the inheritance, which, as seen in the book of Revelation, is performed by and through the judgments brought to pass when all the seals of the seven-sealed scroll have been broken.
The marriage itself will be part of a fulfilled legal transaction between the Father and the Son. And that which is in view in Matthew 22:2-14; 25:10-12; Revelation 19:7-9 can only have to do with the wedding festivities preceding the completion of all the legal requirements, preceding the completion of all the judgments that will occur by and through the breaking of the seals on the scroll (the title deed to the inheritance, the earth) — judgment that will be completed only after Christ returns and destroys Gentile world power, seen following the wedding festivities at the end of Revelation chapter nineteen.
(For additional information on this subject, refer to Chapters 8, 9, 19, 30 in the author’s book, The Time of the End.)
The wedding festivities attendant the marriage of God’s Son to His bride occur in heaven following events at the judgment seat but preceding Christ’s return to the earth with His angels at the end of the Tribulation. Decisions and determinations made at the judgment seat of Christ will reveal the identity of those privileged to enter into these festivities.
And the festivities will occur immediately preceding Christ’s return to complete His redemptive work having to do with the inheritance (a redemptive work, performed by and through judgment [by and through the breaking of the seals on the seven-sealed scroll], which will bring the marriage to pass).
The parable of the ten virgins moves beyond the judgment seat into the festivities immediately preceding the marriage. At that time a door will be closed. Individuals on one side of the door will be allowed to attend the festivities, while individuals on the other side will be denied admittance. And once this door has been closed, those left on the outside will have missed the marriage festivities forever. These festivities will occur once, never to be repeated.
(The words “marriage” and “wedding” in Matthew 22:2-12; 25:10; Revelation 19:7, 9 are translations of the Greek word gamos. Sometimes in these verses this word appears in a singular form, and other times it appears in a plural form. In either instance, contextually, the reference is always to festivities following the marriage. The singular form appears in Matthew 22:8, 10-12; Revelation 19:7, 9; and the plural form appears in Matthew 22:2-4, 9; 25:10.)
Man is repeatedly warned in Scripture concerning the fact that opportunities do not exist forever. The “accepted time,” the “day of salvation,” is today. Man does not know “what will happen tomorrow” (2 Corinthians 6:1, 2; James 4:13, 14).
Redeemed man has been commanded,
Strive to enter through the narrow gate . . . . (Luke 13:24a)
He is then warned,
. . . for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. (Luke 13:24b)
“Strive” is a translation of the word agonizomai in the Greek text. This is the same word used in 1 Corinthians 9:25 (translated “competes [KJV:’striveth’]) and is the Greek word from which we derive our English word “agonize.” The thought behind the use of this word is to strain every muscle as one seeks to accomplish the task at hand.
(An intensified form of this word appears in Jude 3 [epagonizomai] pertaining to straining every muscle of one’s being in the present spiritual warfare as it relates to apostasy on the one hand and “the faith” on the other.
“The faith” is an expression peculiarly related to the Word of the Kingdom in the New Testament. Refer to Chapter 2 in the author’s book, Jude.)
In Luke 13:24 entrance through a narrow [KJV: strait] gate is in view, while in 1 Corinthians 9:25 running a race is in view. The word “strait” in the KJV refers to a narrow, constricted way, pointing to the difficulty involved in entering through the gate. And the same thought permeates the race beginning in 1 Corinthians 9:24. One has to do with a strait/narrow gate leading to “life” (cf. Matthew 7:14), and the other with a race leading to “a crown.” Both though point out ahead to the same thing — life in the coming age, occupying a position with Christ in His kingdom.
This is the matter that the rich, young ruler had in mind when he approached Jesus and asked,
. . . Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? (Matthew 19:16)
The words “eternal life” in the English text are misleading. The literal translation, derived from the context, should be “life for the age.” The rich, young ruler was not asking how he could receive eternal life; nor did Jesus respond to his question in this sense.
The same accounts in the gospels of Mark and Luke clearly reveal that the rich, young ruler was thinking of life in the coming kingdom (which was the message being proclaimed by Jesus and His disciples to the nation of Israel), not eternal life. Note Mark 10:17, 30 and Luke 18:18, 30. The question concerning obtaining life is asked; and Jesus, alluding to this question, refers to life in the “age to come,” which of course has to do with the Messianic Era rather than eternal life.
Further, the rich, young ruler was asking about inheriting life (Mark 10:17; Luke 18:18). Eternal life is not inherited. Rather, it is a free gift, which, unlike an inheritance, cannot be forfeited. The only type of life in Scripture associated with an inheritance is life in the coming kingdom.
Jesus said that “it is hard [‘with difficulty’] for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heavens” (Matthew 19:23). There’s nothing whatsoever “difficult” about receiving eternal life; nor is “striving” involved. Eternal life, a free gift, is something that the rich and the poor alike can acquire by simply reaching out and taking it.
It would be completely out of character with the gospel of grace to say that it is more difficult for a rich man to be saved than it is for any other type individual. Entrance into the kingdom though (“the kingdom of the heavens,” the coming rule of the heavens over the earth) is something altogether different. Discipleship is involved (cf. Luke 14:26, 27; John 8:31; 15:8), and riches can become a great hindrance in this realm (Matthew 13:22).
(There is actually no word for “eternity” in the Greek language of the New Testament. The Greeks thought in the sense of “ages,” and eternity for them was an endless succession of ages.
Aionios is the Greek word normally translated “eternal” in English versions of Scripture [this was the word used by the rich, young ruler in Matthew 19:16]. Aionios is the adjective equivalent of the noun aion [meaning ‘age’], which is used innumerable times in the New Testament, often translated [particularly in the KJV] “world” [cf. Matthew 12:32; 13:22, 49; Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 13:8; a plural form of the word is used in the last two references].
Mark 10:30 [KJV] provides an example of both aion and aionios used together: “. . . and in the world [aion] to come eternal [aionios] life.” Clearly, from both the text and context, “eternal life” cannot be in view.
On the other hand, aionios is used innumerable times in the New Testament in the sense of “eternal.” This use though is derived from textual considerations, not from the meaning of the word itself. Aionios, for example, is the word used in John 3:16, where the type life referenced could only be “eternal life” [cf. vv. 17, 18], derived through faith in Christ.)
The Lord in Luke 13:24 refers to individuals who will seek to “enter in at the narrow gate” and will be unable to so do. The reason for this is explained in the verse that follows (v. 25), and both verses together constitute one of the best parallel passages in Scripture on the parable of the ten virgins.
Individuals are commanded to exert every effort, strain every muscle of their being, in an effort to enter (into life) through the narrow, constricted way while the door is still open. The day is coming, on the morrow, when the door will be forever closed; and at that time such an opportunity will no longer exist.
There is no such thing today as a Christian seeking to run the race or enter in at the narrow/strait gate and being unable to achieve the goal. The door is presently open, and the Lord does not command His people to accomplish tasks that they cannot accomplish.
However, the day is coming when the Master of the house will rise up and close the door (v. 25); and once that door has been closed, there will then be no such thing as a Christian ever running the race or entering in at the narrow/strait gate. The day of opportunity for man to act in this realm will be past, never to be repeated.
I Do Not Know You
The Lord is omniscient. He knows everyone and all things. Yet, in the parable of the ten virgins, the Lord plainly declared that He did not know those on the outside of the closed door seeking admittance to the wedding festivities.
A similar statement is recorded in Matthew 7:21-23. Here the Lord declared that certain individuals will appear in His presence “in that day” who will seek admittance into the kingdom of the heavens on the basis of an intimate association with Him by and through their previously performed miraculous works. The Lord though will say,
. . . I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness! (v. 23)
In “that day” is the time when those presently commanded to enter in at “the narrow gate” appear before the Lord in judgment, with a view to entrance into the kingdom (cf. vv. 13, 14, 21, 22); and as evident from both the text and the context, the scene depicted in Matthew 7:21-23 has to do with Christians before the judgment seat. It is evident from the text that “many” are going to appear before the Lord “in that day” who had sought to enter in at the strait gate by and through a pseudo-intimate association with the Lord.
In that day it will be revealed that they had become involved in miraculous works, supposedly performed in the Lord’s name; but the Lord will reveal to them that He had nothing to do with these works.
The Lord’s statements, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23) and “I do not know you” (Matthew 25:12) would have to be looked upon as relative statements — relative to the matter at hand. (Actually, since the Lord is omniscient, He could not make such a statement to anyone without it being relative. To the unsaved, it would be relative to eternal life; to the saved, it would be relative to matters having to do with the kingdom.)
In Matthew 7:23, the Lord’s negative response pertains to two things:
1) Entrance into the kingdom (vv. 21, 23).
2) Miraculous works (v. 22).
The Lord will state that He had nothing to do with these works, and He will refuse to recognize those involved in such works relative to entrance into the kingdom. Through these works, they, in actuality, will have entered in at the wide gate, the broad way (v. 14); and a revelation of this fact, in the Lord’s presence, will result in their being denied a position with Him in the kingdom.
In Matthew 25:12 the Lord’s statement pertains to the unpreparedness of the five foolish virgins, with the wedding festivities in view. The foolish virgins were not properly prepared to attend these festivities. Comparing the parable of the ten virgins with the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22:2-14, an absence of the extra supply of oil shows unpreparedness in one while an absence of the wedding garment shows unpreparedness in the other.
The connection is evident. A Christian not filled with the Holy Spirit, depicted by the five foolish virgins without the extra portion of Oil, is in no position to perform righteous acts (works) that make up the wedding garment. Thus, different facets of the same truth are taught in both parables. The absence of that which is depicted by the extra portion of Oil will result in Christians appearing before the Lord improperly clothed. They will not possess wedding garments, appearing naked in the Lord’s presence (cf. Matthew 22:11-14; Revelation 3:18; 19:7-9). Consequently, because of their improper dress, the Lord will not know them relative to entrance into the wedding festivities.
The words for “know” in the Greek text of Matthew 7:23 and Matthew 25:12 are interestingly different. Ginosko, pointing to one type of knowledge, is used in Matthew 7:23; and oida, pointing to another type of knowledge, is used in Matthew 25:12.
Ginosko refers to a type of knowledge gained through experience. That is, one has an intimate relationship with Christ by and through the experience of following Him, keeping His commandments (as in 1 John 2:3, 4). This is the word Paul used in Philippians 3:10:
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings . . . .
The end result of such knowledge, such a relationship with Christ, would be attaining “to the resurrection [out-resurrection] from the dead” (v. 11).
Oida, on the other hand, refers to a type of knowledge gained apart from experience, an absolute knowledge. This is the type of knowledge we possess concerning various facts set forth in Scripture:
. . . we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2)
. . . believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life . . . . (1 John 5:13)
In Matthew 7:23, Christ’s use of the word ginosko clearly reveals His non-association with the miraculous works that had been performed. Those performing these works had been carrying on activities completely outside the sphere of any type of intimate relationship with Christ, though claiming such a relationship.
Thus, responding to their question (which expects a positive response the way it is worded in the Greek text [they actually thought these miraculous works were being performed by and through the power of the Holy Spirit, in Christ’s name]; ref. Chapter 6 in this book), Christ was very careful to show, by the use of the word ginosko, that He had absolutely nothing to do with these works.
Today, near the close of the present dispensation, the same segment of Christendom manifesting miraculous works (such as those seen in Matthew 7:22) is also proclaiming a counterfeit message relative to the filling of the Holy Spirit, possessing the extra supply of Oil (ref. Chapter 14 in this book). In fact, this counterfeit work of the Holy Spirit is the heart of their message.
The entire matter can only be a work of Satan within the Laodicean state of Christendom at the conclusion of the present dispensation, producing further corruption and deterioration. It is an end result of the working of the leaven that the woman placed in the three measures of meal very early in the dispensation (Matthew 13:33).
Deceived Christians caught up in this work of Satan are becoming involved in a manifestation of supernatural powers emanating from the demonic world, believing that these things are being done through the power of the Holy Spirit and are of the Lord. They are further being deceived into receiving a pseudo spiritual work in their lives, leaving them with a pseudo preparation for the spiritual warfare at hand; and Christians becoming involved in this activity can only experience present defeat (Satan cannot cast himself out, he cannot defeat himself in the spiritual warfare [Matthew 12:26]) and future rejection (“I never knew you”).
Thus, Jesus in His choice of words in Matthew 7:23 was very careful to show that there was no intimate relationship on His part with the ones performing these miraculous works.
His statement in Matthew 25:12 though is different. The use of the word oida rather than ginosko reveals knowledge of a fact apart from any reference to experience. Though experiential knowledge would have been involved by and through acquiring the extra portion of Oil, there is no claim made by those outside the door to such an experience (as in Matthew 7:21-23). Thus, the Lord deemed the simple, absolute statement as given to be the proper response to those requesting that the door be opened.
The door was shut, and the Bridegroom did not recognize those on the other side of the door as belonging to the group allowed to attend the marriage festivities.
They were thus left in a place described in the closing parable of the Christian section of the Olivet Discourse as the “outer darkness” (25:30; cf. Matthew 22:11-13). That is, they were denied entrance into the lighted banqueting hall where the festivities were being held and were left in a place of darkness on the outside, with closed doors separating the two places (“outer darkness” is discussed in Chapter 21 of this book).
In 1 Thessalonians 5:6-10, Christians are spoken of as occupying one of two positions: Christians either “watch” or they, like the world, “sleep.” Watching is associated with the “day,” being “sober,” and being properly equipped for the warfare at hand (v. 8). Sleeping, on the other hand, is associated with the “night” and “drunkenness,” wherein there is no proper preparation for the warfare (v. 7).
In His message to the church in Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6), Christ said, “if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief . . . .” (v. 3). There is nothing good revealed in Scripture about the appearance of a thief. Removal or destruction of property and even death follow in his wake (John 10:10), which illustrates exactly what lies ahead for unfaithful Christians to whom Christ will one day appear after this fashion (cf. Luke 19:24; James 5:19, 20).
The writer of Hebrews stated:
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:27, 28)
The preceding two verses parallel one another. The appointment with death (v. 27) parallels Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary (v. 28); and the coming judgment of Christians (v. 27) parallels the thought of looking for Christ and a salvation accompanying His return (v. 28).
Christians have already kept the appointment with death (v. 27). It is a vicarious death. Christ has kept the appointment in their stead. He has died in their place.
Then, at the judgment seat of Christ (v. 27), all things will be revealed. Those who watched, looked for Christ (v. 28), will realize the salvation of their souls. Those though who didn’t watch, look for Him, will suffer the loss of their souls (this is the salvation in view throughout Hebrews, not the salvation that we presently possess).
The exhortation is to “Watch,” and it is accompanied by a warning. The Lord will return at an unexpected time, and servants not watching will “suffer loss” and occupy a place with the unfaithful outside closed doors.