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My Ekklesia

The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord,
Searching all the innermost parts of his being.
~ Proverbs 20:27, NASB

Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be,
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. ~ Psalm 12:1, NASB

The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart;
And devout men are taken away, while no one understands.
For the righteous man is taken away from evil,
He enters into peace;
They rest in their beds,
Each one who walked in his upright way. ~
Isaiah 57:1-2, NASB

But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man. ~ Luke 21:36, NASB

It is interesting how God chose to use the Greek word ekklesia, as the word that best describes Jesus Christ’s called-out group—His ONE Body of Believers or the Bride of Christ. Etymologically speaking, ekklesia is formed from a compound, a combination of two Greek words: ek (from out of) and kaleo (to call aloud or to call forth).

Furthermore, based on ekklesia’s traditional usage, it is obvious to many scholars that ekklesia at one time was the most inclusive word in existence. Many of these same scholars believe that this inclusivity is how its etymological meaning is connected to the biblical understanding of a first century A.D. ekklesia being a called-out group of believers (Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, men and women, slaves and free persons, and so forth).

Now it should be noted here that other scholars have maintained that ekklesia originally only meant an “assembly” and NOT a gathered “spiritual” group that used to be part of a larger group. However, based on the Koine Greek language used to translate the Hebrew word qahal as ekklesia, which is found in one of the oldest and surviving Greek translations of the Septuagint (the Old Testament or LXX manuscripts), it cannot be denied that Christ Jesus’ meaning of ekklesia has remained the same as it is used in the Septuagint.

Furthermore, it widely is accepted that the Septuagint’s translation of the Torah (the Law; the first five books of the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) was completed around the middle of the third century B.C., while the rest of the Old Testament books found in the Septuagint widely are accepted to have been translated in the second century B.C. So then, by the time the first four books of the Koine Greek New Testament were written, it is no coincidence that the first person named in the four Gospels who uses ekklesia is Christ Jesus. When He uses ekklesia, He no doubt is prophesying about a future “spiritual” Body of Believers whom Father God will “call out” from a larger group of people who will be living in spiritual darkness—a larger group of people, which will include both the unbelieving pagan “Gentiles” and the unbelieving “religious” Jews.

Historically and biblically speaking, from the very first time ekklesia is used in the New Testament (see Matthew 16:18), ekklesia does NOT mean “church,” as it universally is translated today. Ekklesia, according to how Christ Jesus uses this word, literally means “called out of,” which, without doubt, begs the questions: 1. Who is being called out? 2. Out of what have they been called? That’s why no matter how anyone tries to spin it, the word “church” only defines a “place,” predominantly a “physical building,” and NEVER a people; whereas, whenever ekklesia is used in the Scriptures to describe a congregation, convocation, or an assembly, it always refers to PEOPLE—refers to the ones who actually have been called out and/or set apart, and NOT the places where they meet/gather.

Now granted, Christian people are the ones who actually congregated in the first century A.D. Jewish Temple before its destruction, in Synagogues, homes, and much later in “church” buildings, and so forth. Nevertheless, from the inception of Jesus Christ’s ekklesia, physical buildings NEVER were considered His called-out ones. Thus, ONLY ekklesia refers to the PEOPLE who are the Lord’s called-out group of believers! In other words, Christ Jesus NEVER calls His Bride His “CHURCH.”

Why is the Bride of Christ (Body of Believers) never going to be the same thing as “The CHURCH”? Well, according to the most credible archeological findings, it is because it is primarily evident that from the time that all of the ancient Greek city-states (in truth, villages) began holding their own ekklesia, something or someone was responsible for calling forth/summoning each Greek city-states’ citizens. That someone or something was the sound that came from a herald’s blown trumpet, which called forth/summoned the different groups of Greek citizens to their own ekklesia (a word in the ancient Greek cultural that always seemed to depict the basic idea of an “assembly”). Additionally, the most reliable archeological findings show that each known different ancient Greek ekklesia was held in a local community meeting place where the assembly (ekklesia) of Greek citizens discussed their own city-state’s various political concerns.

Furthermore, in ancient Greek city-states, each ekklesia was both its specific group of citizens AND the controlling power that governed its own city-state. In other words, city-states like Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Thebes, Argos, and so forth, were all part of ancient Greece (or the larger all-inclusive group that spoke the same language, believed in the same gods, worshipped the same way, and considered themselves to be Greeks), even though as city-states their own ekklesia not only had the power to enact laws and rule its own citizens, but also each ekklesia had the power to raise and train its own army, negotiate its own citizenship, establish its own religion, and collect its own taxes. In other words, most of the ancient Greek city-states were in essence individual kingdoms, with their own governmental assemblies, and their own kings.

Based on the available information about the etymological meaning of the ancient Greek culture’s ekklesia, it should be easy to see how, by the first century A.D., ekklesia very well could have meant a sanctified (set apart) spiritual Body of Believers in Christ Jesus who was “called out” or summoned by God to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, because the larger group of unbelieving people they once were part of still were living in spiritual darkness. Likewise, it should be easy to see how, by the first century A.D., ekklesia also could have meant something very similar to a Greek koinonia—group of Christians or followers of Christ who was united in purpose: fellowship. According to the Word of God, these early believers gathered together for the agreed upon purposes of sharing communion (fellowshipping), giving encouragement, and receiving preparation (cf. Acts 2:42), all of which were necessary pastimes that helped each participant achieve the God-commanded tasks of evangelizing and discipling his or her world, as he or she knew it then.

Put differently, these first century A.D. believers understood that they had been “called out” by God and for God (for His Divine purposes). In the latter sense, they all knew that, by gathering together with other like-minded born-again AND Holy Spirit- filled believers, who would meet (usually in community homes) for the sought after encouragement, fellowship, and training, they (these first century A.D. believers) would receive everything they needed to be able to represent accurately and faithfully the Kingdom of Heaven and Father God’s Perfect Will in all of life, while simultaneously affecting a change in their surrounding communities.

To reiterate, it is interesting that God chose the word ekklesia to define who the Lord’s Bride always has been, and continues to be. Once again, contrary to popular opinions, there is no way that anybody could make the English word “church” mean the same thing as the Greek word ekklesia. Again, the original first century apostolic meaning of ekklesia meant both a group of believers “called out” by God to receive Salvation (Kingdom of Heaven membership requirement, which is fulfilled after a born-again status is received) AND that of an “assembly” (a koinonia—a fellowship kind of meeting).

It wasn’t until the early 1600s that the King James Bible translators decided to transform the meaning of ekklesia so that it would reflect what “church” actually denotes today. At that time, the true historical and biblical meaning of ekklesia changed drastically from a basic “assembly” and/or “congregation” of people TO the “place of meeting,” as well as “a thing,” like a physical building. These “church” meanings definitely are the ones that the translators of the 1611 King James Bible intended for ekklesia, but as already stated these meanings are NOT the true definitions for ekklesia, when it is used to describe Jesus Christ’s Body of Believers.

Today, it widely is accepted that the literal meaning of ekklesia is a “called-out group”—an inclusive group of people “called out” from the world by God and for God. However, it should be noted here that after the first-ever members of this “called-out group,” which in this case represents God’s Household of Faith children, separated from that already mentioned bigger group, this is when God’s “called-out group” initially became a totally different group (i.e., Christians or Christ followers, and etc.). The point here is that, spiritually speaking, there really ONLY has been ONE true ekklesia. That is to say, from the Old Testament days, Father God has had His faithfully righteous Jewish people. From the New Testament days, Jesus Christ has had His faithfully righteous Body of Believers, which includes Jews and Gentiles. This Divine Truth often is missed. Too many people today, believers included, often fail to see that there really is ONLY ONE called-out group (more on this point later)!

What way too many believers also haven’t understood is that God purposely chose the ONLY word that could possibly give the most credence to the Word of God’s supernatural Rapture doctrine. More than any of mankind’s countless speculations or theories, ekklesia is God’s all-inclusive word that best describes what the Rapture is, and the “season” in which it will happen, just NOT the day or the hour!

Without doubt, it is the Word of God, which verifies that Christ Jesus will be coming for His Bride right after a rousing midnight cry, an angelic voice, and the sound of the Last Trumpet. Now anyone who is well acquainted with the traditional Jewish Wedding ceremonies will understand that this Last Trumpet call happens when the bridegroom, who first left His betrothed so that He could prepare a bridal chamber for the both of them in his father’s house, returns for his bride. Therefore, this LAST TRUMPET sound, which the apostle Paul writes about, is NOT the one that will happen at the physical bodily appearance of the Lord or His Second Advent, which is when He returns, bringing His saints with Him, at the end of the Tribulation Period. This LAST TRUMPET sound of Paul’s is the same TRUMPET sound that would have been blown right before the herald’s shout, which is mentioned in Christ Jesus’ Parable of the Ten Virgins. The wedding herald (probably a groomsman) could be the one who carries and blows the shofar, for he certainly is the one who shouts: The bridegroom is coming.

The Lord no doubt knew that His disciples knew that the bridegroom in the 10 Virgins Parable is coming back to abduct his bride in secret—to return on a day and at an hour NOBODY could have foreknown, thus, in secret—to snatch Her or “steal Her away” for the purpose of taking Her into the Bridal Chamber He built for Her inside His Father’s House, where they could consummate their marriage. In other words, the procession Jesus Christ alludes to in the 10 Virgins Parable is a procession from and back to Father God’s House, as prophesied and practiced in the ancient Jewish Wedding customs. This means that the Lord knew that His disciples also knew that the alluded to procession was NOT back to the father of the bride’s house for the wedding reception! The Lord knew His disciples knew that the Bridegroom (also King) coming for His Bride is a prophesied event, even though the Lord’s focus is more on preparedness (cf. Psalm 98:6; Joel 2:15-16; John 3:29; additionally, please read the Old Testament, as the Jewish wedding customs are in many verses in many chapters of several books)!

This preparedness (being ready ahead of time, because no one knows exactly when the “catching away” will happen) also is the apostle Paul’s focus, which is why his coming and going language in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 is the reason why his use of the Greek word apantesis ISN’T in the technical sense. The same also is true of Jesus Christ’s use of apantesis in His 10 Virgins parable. Therefore, apostle Paul, like the Lord, also is relying on people’s knowledge of how and why the Bridegroom is coming back. That certainly must be why ALL of the movements—the Lord (Bridegroom) descending, the dead in Christ’s bodies resurrecting and then ascending, the alive in Christ ascending after the dead in Christ, and the instantaneous glorifications—obviously depict the abduction of the Bride of Christ, which is why Paul’s coming and going language is NOT the “technical” understanding of what the Greek word apantesis means—neither how Paul intends for it to mean in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, nor how Jesus Christ uses it in Matthew 25:6. (More on the use of apantesis later.)

Right now, it is important to mention that, based on the understanding of how the ancient Greek city-states summoned their individual ekklesia, informed people should understand that the same way those earliest assemblies were convoked, which was by a herald’s trumpet sound, also is going to be the same method God Himself has chosen to summon Jesus Christ’s Bride. In other words, there is one meaning of the Lord’s Bride being “called out” of the world, which as previously mentioned was because God “called Her out” of darkness into the Kingdom of Heaven’s marvelous Light, for the purpose of building His Kingdom on Earth, as it is in Heaven (see 1 Peter 2:9-10). However, the Lord’s Bride also is going to be “called out” of, taken out from, or summoned out of various places (dwellings, rooms, sites, localities, and so forth, that are all over this world) so that the Bridegroom can gather (assemble) His Bride (Body) together in the clouds, after His Bride MEETS Him in the air. Once again, this in-the-air meeting includes both the gathering of the resurrected dead in Christ and the gathering of the raptured alive in Christ!

So then by changing or rather by insisting that in this day and age the ancient fundamental meaning and the modern day literal meaning of ekklesia BOTH just mean “church,” countless believers in Christ have missed the importance of the true meaning of the Greek word ekklesia—the meaning Christ Jesus first uses in the New Testament—which supports the New Testament’s Rapture doctrine. Thus, there can be no doubt that God Himself has inspired the apostle Paul, a Jew and a Greek, to teach via his letter to the ekklesia in Thessalonica (Thessaloniki) that the Lord’s Bride (the children in God’s Household of Faith) is representative of His firstfruits who, in the end times, will be “called out of” or taken out from, or summoned out of numerous places in many geographical areas so that they can be gathered together for an in-the-air meeting, and so that they then can continue to ascend into Heaven.

Perhaps the above truths are why it is important to note here that God is not always clear as crystal about EVERYTHING that is presented in His Word. Perhaps His repeated lack of transparency, especially with the biblical subjects that have varied interpretations, is why people have a hard time discerning the appropriate meanings for certain Hebrew and Greeks words, especially the Holy Bible’s original Hebrew and Greek words that consistently have proven to be difficult to communicate (translate) into the English language. Possibly this difficulty also is because, over time, the more present etymological meanings for these original Hebrew and Greek words have changed from their earliest meanings, which seems to be the case with ekklesia.  Sometimes this change is a good thing, and sometimes it isn’t.

Still, it would be wonderful if readers would consider what this blogger believes is the primary reason why so many professed Christians have so many dissimilar interpretations for the same Scriptures. There is no doubt that the main reason there are diverse interpretations for the same Scriptures is, to a certain degree, because of believers’ understanding of what some crucial original Hebrew and/or Greek words in those differently interpreted Scriptures actually mean in English. Therefore, this blogger believes that the chief reason why these varied interpretations happen, and are continuing to happen, is because God Himself obviously has included several words from the original languages of the Holy Bible which, on the surface, seem to be interchangeable when the truth is that these words have distinctly different denotations and/or connotations. This reason is specifically true, when similar yet significantly dissimilar words appear to describe the same kinds of events or groups of people (or absolutely are understood to be describing the same kinds of events or groups of people).

The point here is that perhaps God’s lack of clarity is intentional. Maybe His ambiguity is nothing more than His Way of showing His love for multiple possible meanings—a love He graciously shares with His Children. Then too, maybe His opacity is God’s Way of making sure that His Children in His Household of Faith always give their complete trust to (put their whole Faith in) Him by relying totally on His Holy Spirit to reveal, teach, and empower them INSTEAD of putting their trust in bible/prophecy scholars’ academic prowess or in the extraordinary number of hours these scholars claim they have spent in research and study! There’s no doubt that God knew human beings, especially those living in these last days and end times, would “think” that they wouldn’t need to depend on the Holy Spirit’s supernatural assistance, because they are “smart” enough to figure the truth out on their own—so intelligent that they only need to trust in their own “superior” research and analytical efforts!

Evidently God inspired the men who penned the Holy Bible’s verses to use the poles-apart words that are found in the Word of God’s original Hebrew and Greek languages. Once again, these poles-apart words, on the surface, often appear to have the same meanings. God no doubt had His inspired writers to create this very problem, primarily for the purpose of distracting or misleading the ones God didn’t want to know the truth! For example, God definitely would want to keep Satan and his demonic forces ignorant about and unaware of the real truth about these differently understood and diversely interpreted biblical events, people, descriptions, prophesies, and so forth.

Maybe this last truth is why, for example, every once and a while, there are some Greek words that have been problematic, where translating/communicating God’s Divine Truths accurately into English are concerned. These obvious prize pearls (God’s Divine Truths) have been hidden from sight under those Greek words that, again, initially appear to mean the same thing but, when people dig a little bit deeper, these words turn out to mean completely something else. The following is proof positive that Greek words have very different meanings, yet they are translated as the same English words: AGAPE, EROS, STORGE, and/or PHILIA, which often are translated as “love”; THUMOS and ORGE, which often are translated as “wrath”; EKLEKTOS and EKLEGOMAI, which often are translated as “elect,” “choice,” “selected,” and/or “chosen”; PAROUSIA, EPIPHANEIA, and/or APOKALUPSIS, which often are translated as “coming,” “presence,” and/or “arrival”; and HARPAZO, ANALAMBANO, and/or EPAIRO, which often are translated as “taken up,” “snatched up,” and/or “caught up.”

Having said that, it is important to note here that sometimes Greek nouns are translated as English verbs. Case in point, where the alive believers’ “in-the-air meeting” is concerned (their Rapture, which is a noun), most English translators of various English versions of the Holy Bible translate as the verb “to meet” the Greek noun apantesis. Now the Greek verb, which means “to go to meet,”  “to meet,” “to meet with,” “met,” and “to come face to face,” is apantao. The point here is that both Jesus Christ and apostle Paul use the Greek noun in Matthew 25:6 and in 1 Thessalonians 4:17—not the Greek verb. 

In neither case (either Matthew 25:1, 6 or 1 Thessalonians 4:17) does the English verb “to meet” truly capture the real meaning of the Greek word apantesis, as both apostle Paul and Christ Jesus are using it. Once again, neither Christ Jesus nor Paul is conveying the original Greek “technical” meaning of apantesis, which refers to the whole undertaking of sending a welcoming party, as a show of honor and respect, out of its city to greet/meet a visiting dignitary (king, governor, magistrate, or some other important person), and then that group of representatives immediately escorts this dignitary back into their city—the very city he was coming to visit.

Now, seeing how God has a knack for presenting things turned upside down, it’s no wonder that instead of apantesis carrying the ancient/traditional meaning, the apostle Paul literally has turned the technical sense upside down. He has done so by using apantesis in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 in such a way as to say that the Lord Himself not only has reversed the direction from horizontal to vertical, but also He is the One who has made the U-Turn (has changed His descending direction).  

Furthermore, this turned upside down reality suggests that, instead of the noble Lord being met by a lowly greeting party, it is Jesus Christ who is doing the greeting! He is greeting His ambassadors (the Lord’s followers who have been in the world but not OF the world). In other words, just like Jesus Christ became the servant, when He washed His disciples’ feet at His Last Supper, at the time of the Rapture, the Lord will have become the escort (protector and guide) for His Bride who has been elevated to the status of a VIP. She, thus, only has been visiting (pilgriming; archaic verb) on the Earth, until Christ Jesus, as prophesied, comes DOWN from Heaven to the clouds, waits on the clouds “for a meeting” with Her, and then turns right around and escorts Her back with Him into Heaven, where He eventually will show Her the love, respect, and honor She has earned (cf. John 17:13-19; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 5:27).

Now Pre-Tribulation Rapture naysayers would have people to believe that there is no way Christ Jesus is going to make a U-Turn and take His raptured Bride back into Heaven, since the “technical” gist of apantesis is that the welcoming party (in this case, the Bride of Christ) escorts the king, lord, governor, magistrate, and so on (in this case, Jesus Christ), back to the city out of which the welcoming party has come (in this case, possibly Jerusalem). However, this interpretation of how the apostle Paul is using apantesis STILL would mean that someone or somebodies would have to make the U-Turn! Therefore, these Pre-Tribulation Rapture skeptics, who obviously just want to turn the apostle Paul’s Rapture images into a picture of Christ Jesus’ physical, bodily Second Coming, by saying that there only is one time He will return to Earth and that will be at His glorious appearance, when every eye will see Him, have just failed to understand that Jesus Christ wouldn’t be descending from Heaven to the clouds and then to the Earth to be a “visitor” anywhere on Earth, and especially NOT in Jerusalem!

Where the Bride of Christ is concerned, first of all, She is NOT going up to meet the Lord from any one particular city. Secondly, She never is depicted as escorting Her Groom (the Lord) back to any place on Earth, but rather She is described as participating in His Second Coming, when His feet touch down on the Mount of Olives, by being with Him YET following Him (cf. Revelation 19:14). His Bride is never depicted as accompanying Him, for the purposes of honoring, respecting, protecting, and guiding Him, which is what an escort did, and still does. Thirdly, as previously mentioned, He is not coming back to Earth as a “visitor.” At His Second Coming, when His feet actually touch down on the Mount of Olives, He is coming back as the Lord (Owner) of the entire Earth, as the Savior (Redeemer) of the entire world, and as King (Conqueror and Ruler) over the entire world. Therefore, at the time of the Rapture of His Bride, it makes more sense that the Someone who is making the U-Turn is Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, who also is returning to Heaven for His Coronation.

There are other reasons why the above Pre-Tribulation Rapture cynics’ interpretation of apostle Paul’s use of apantesis is faulty, and why this faulty interpretation in NO way supports the notion so many Rapture cynics about there being no such thing as a Rapture. First of all, Scriptures support the idea that it is the Lord who is coming as the Bridegroom for His Bride and that after He meets Her in the air He then immediately TAKES Her back into Heaven, where He has spent all these years preparing a place for Her (cf. Matthew 25:1, 6; John 3:29; John 14:2-3; Ephesians 5:25, 32; Revelation 19:7). Secondly, ancient Jewish Wedding customs teach an important message about the bridegroom being the one who builds the bridal chamber (living quarters) in his father’s house, and NOT in the father of the bride’s house! Thus, there is no way that the 5 wise Virgins are going out to meet the Bridegroom ONLY to escort Him back to the father of the Bride’s house. Thirdly, according to ancient Jewish Wedding customs, the bridegroom FIRST takes his bride back to his father’s house to consummate their marriage, which consists of spending seven days behind the closed “bridal chamber” door. Fourthly, Scriptures support the idea that it is the father of the bridegroom who hosts the wedding supper/wedding feast, and NOT the parents of is the bride (see Matthew 22:1-14). In other words, it is Father God who hosts the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and He is in Heaven!

Thus, based on all of the above reasons, it is obvious that the apostle Paul has proven that it is Christ Jesus who makes the U-Turn. Apostle Paul does this by turning the traditional horizontal images of a visiting dignitary approaching a delegation that has come out of its city to escort him back through the earthly city’s entrance INTO the non-traditional vertical image of the Lord descending to greet His deserving of honor and glory genuine Bride. After She meets with Him face-to-face, He then turns and begins to ascend with His Bride until together they reach Heaven (cf. Ephesians 5:26-27; Revelation 19:7-9).  

Now, if true believers’ Rapture naysayers claim that there is not going to be a raptured Bride, at least not before the Tribulation Period begins, but teach instead that the Lord’s Bride only will serve as a welcoming party for His Second Coming on Earth, then again their “coming” of Jesus the Christ (as the visitor) still is NOT His Second Coming. As previously stated, at Christ Jesus’ Second Coming, the Word of God makes it clear that the crowned Jesus Christ will return as the Lord (Owner) of the entire Earth, as the Savior (Redeemer) of the entire world, and as King (Conqueror and Ruler) over the entire world.

The bottom line then is that Jesus the Christ, at His Second “Coming,” when His feet really touch down on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, will be “coming” back to Earth as the triumphant Lion of Judah, who defeats God’s enemies and then establishes His own millennial Kingship! Therefore, as previously stated, Jesus Christ is NEVER coming again to Earth as a visitor or pilgrim!!!! That is why when His ekklesia (Community of believers not of this world; thus, an allegorical visitor or pilgrim) meets Her Bridegroom (the Lord) in the air, it is going to be the Bridegroom (Christ Jesus) who will reverse His direction—He will go back up into Heaven instead of continuing downward onto Earth!

For all of these mentioned reasons, it should be clear by now that by changing ekklesia to “church,” the authorized King James Bible translators have affected too many believers’ whole approach to understanding the meaning of the Body of Christ/Bride of Christ, because the original intent of ekklesia always has been and continues to be relational, while the original intent of “church” always has been and continues to be institutional. Put differently, the early Christians who gathered together in their ekklesia did so for the purpose of sharing, fellowshipping, edifying, encouraging, discipling, equipping, and getting to know each other as a WHOLE family so that each member truly could become ONE. The sad truth then is that the English word “church” totally destroys this relational intent. Furthermore, by changing ekklesia to “church” the authorized King James Bible translators also have guaranteed that innumerable people will miss the main reason why Jesus Christ’s Bride is His truly “called-out group” (His genuine ekklesia).

Now, in the New Testament, there is only ONE ekklesia of the mentioned seven ekklesiae (the called-out groups or assemblies of believers) in the Book of Revelation who receives the taken out or raptured promise. This truth means the Pre-Tribulation Rapture involves the ONLY ekklesia that Scriptures say is HIDDEN in Heaven’s Bridal Chambers (cf. Revelation 3:10; see also Isaiah 26:20-21 and Zephaniah 2:3). Therefore, this ONE of the seven mentioned ekklesiae—the ONLY ekklesia what is hidden in Heaven’s Bridal Chambers—ONLY can be the Bride of Christ, and this Bride is the redeemed ONE Jesus Christ is describing as the pearl of great price (cf. Matthew 13:45-46, see also 1 Corinthians 6:20).

It is important to note here that if the idea of a group of people being “called out” is grounded in (if there is clear evidence found in) the Old Testament, then that would mean that the idea of New Testament believers being a called-out group is a sound biblical doctrine. Likewise, if the idea of a Rapture is grounded in (if there is clear evidence found in) the Old Testament, then that would mean that the idea of New Testament believers being raptured is indeed a sound biblical doctrine, as well.

For the record, in the King James Version of the Old Testament, there are three Hebrew words translated as “congregation” (as in the basic concept of an assembly). These words are as follows: 1. Moed (an appointed time, place, and meeting/assembly/congregation; found 223 times, of which it is used 150 times as “congregation”); 2. Edah (an assembly, company, band, herd, people, multitude, swarm, and/or congregation; found 149 times, of which it is used 124 times as “congregation”); and 3. Qahal (an assembly, convocation, company, multitude, congregation; found 123 times, of which it is used 86 times as “congregation”). 

An interesting nugget is that in the Septuagint or LXX manuscripts, the Greek word ekklesia is used in several verses of the Old Testament, mostly in the translation of the Hebrew word Qahal. The point here is that the Septuagint manuscripts’ translators were using the same Greek language to translate the Hebrew Old Testament that is found in the early Greek New Testament manuscripts.  In essence, from Genesis to Revelation, God has given the same “called-out group” name to His faithfully righteous children—ekklesia! As previously mentioned, from the beginning to the end of mankind Father God apparently has intended that EVERYONE who is His faithfully righteous son and daughter would be His ONLY true “called-out group” or ekklesia. The fact that ekklesia is used throughout the New Testament and in the LXX manuscripts for the Hebrew word qahal verifies the previous statement. Bottom line: There is ONLY ONE true ekklesia, especially since both Jews and Gentiles ONLY have one Redeemer, and because God ONLY provides one single plan of Redemption!

Keeping these last points in mind, it should be noted here that unlike the Old Testament, which has three Hebrew words that mostly are translated in the King James Version as “congregation,” in the King James Version of the New Testament there only is one Greek word that denotes the basic concept of an assembly or a “congregation,” and this word is ekklesia. In the New Testament, ekklesia is used 115 times. Of these 115 times ekklesia is used, 112 times it is translated into English as “church,” and 3 times it is translated as “assembly.”

Furthermore, this New Testament Greek word, ekklesia, has at least four important meanings, one of which is the same meaning used in the Old Testament to describe Israel’s appointed meetings/assemblies/congregations. These four meanings for the New Testament word ekklesia are as follows: 1. An assembly or gathering of people (as in Israel, the people as a whole, who were gathered in the wilderness [cf. Acts 7:38]; or a regular group of gathered citizens [cf. Acts 19:39]; or a group of believers gathered for religious worship [cf. Hebrews 2:12]); 2. An assembly or gathering of professed Christians in local dwellings in various earthly regions/cities (cf. Acts 8:1, 3; Acts 11:22, 26), and in the plural sense as ekklesiae or groups of professed Christians in numerous local gatherings primarily found throughout Turkey/Asia Minor or at several locations in a particular city (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:19; Galatians 1:2); 3. All professing Christians, wherever these Christians might be found; this meaning clearly is a reference to Christendom, as in a global Body of Believers located anywhere (in any city, village, and etc.) and united as ONE (cf. Acts 12:1; Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; Revelation 2:1-3:22); and 4. The Body of Christ, which has been Holy Spirit baptized into ONE united called-out group to whom Father God via Christ Jesus has bestowed as human gifts to the entire Body of Christ, and these human gifts are to function as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13-28; see also Ephesians 4:11-12).

Certainly, it would be hard for anyone to deny that in the Old Testament Israel was the “called-out group” who was summoned to meet God at His appointed times and in His appointed places. Moreover, what is interesting is that with each of the three Old Testament Hebrew words that most commonly are translated as the English words “congregation” and “assembly” (Moed, Edah and Qahal), there is no denying that in every situation the One “calling” or summoning His chosen Jewish people is Father God.  Since Father God via Jesus Christ is the One who also is “calling” or summoning the New Testament’s born again, saved, and being sanctified believers (Jews and Gentiles), there should be no surprise that the Greek word ekklesia is the New Testament word frequently used to mean a gathered together “congregation” or “assembly” that is meeting with God.

Right here, it must be stressed that NEITHER the Old Testament’s “called-out” Israelites NOR the New Testament’s  “called-out” first-century followers of Christ were summoned just to fill seats on the Sabbath Saturday or on Sunday. In other words, neither group of people was “called out” just to assemble together, according to the modern congregational idea, which simply means to gather in a building for the sole purpose of participating in “church” programs and ministry opportunities.

On the contrary, both the “called-out” Israelites and the “called-out” first-century followers of Christ were summoned to meet with God so that they could get prepared to engage their world, as they knew it, and then govern it. After all, in the ancient Greek culture, an ekklesia was the ruling body that governed its polis or city-state. Now since Christ Jesus is the One who first uses the Greek word ekklesia, there can be no denying that He definitely understood this common political term and, thus, it can be no denying that what He knew about an ancient Greek ekklesia is the reason why He uses ekklesia to describe His disciples and their future impact, which was to represent the Kingdom of Heaven and Father God’s Perfect Will on Earth in such a way that they would end up turning the old world’s order upside down (cf. Acts 17:6). 

This turning of the world upside down no doubt is the main reason why the Israelites weren’t given a direct route to take to the Promised Land. Evidently God knew they were not prepared to war against the “giants” who lived in the Promised Land. After all, only two ostensibly grasshopper-sized spies agreed with God that they could defeat the “giants” in the Promised Land! So, all of the Israelites wandered in the wilderness until all of the older generation that came out of Egypt had died! Put differently, God first had to get rid of all of the naysayers before He could prepare His faithful children to enter the Promised Land and eventually battle the “giants” in it!

In comparison, this turning of the world upside down no doubt is the chief reason why the first-century disciples had to be born again, saved, and filled with the Holy Spirit. This process was their necessary preparation (equipping) that would enable them to transform their local communities, wherever each ekklesia had been established. In other words, God first had to baptize Christ’s disciples with His Holy Spirit so that they would become prepared faithful children who first would go throughout the Promised Land and silence their “giants”—the naysayers—by leading other Jewish people to Christ for salvation, as well as eventually battle the “giants”—naysayers—throughout the world, as they knew it then.

So then the point here is that there is a world of difference between Jesus Christ’s idea of building His ekklesia and “church” leaders’ congregational idea of building an edifice in which people assemble together. It is dumbfounding to think about the many believers today who fail to comprehend the difference between an ekklesia AND a “church”!

Now, there is something else that cannot be denied, and that is that in the Old Testament there are examples of Raptures/Translations of godly righteous people, specifically Enoch and Elijah. Yes, a faithful and righteous Noah and his family remained on Earth, but they were safe in the Ark, while the Flood was happening. In other words, they never were in any danger! However, in the end times, the only ones who will not be in any danger of persecution or death are the 144,000 Jewish men (the elect or chosen faithfully righteous ones). They are NEVER hurt or harmed during the Tribulation Period, because ONLY they have the seal of God!

The point here is that, just like it cannot be denied that God is the One who “called out” or summoned Israel, His elect or chosen people, to meet with Him, it also cannot be denied that God is the One who “called out” or raptured/translated Enoch before the Flood started, and Elijah before Israel’s Babylonian captivity started. Therefore, if God “snatched” out of this world His faithfully righteous people, long before the first major global catastrophe AND before the captivity of His beloved Israel, then His Son, Jesus Christ, also will do something similar. 

Jesus Christ says that He only does what He has seen His Father do (cf. John 5:19). For this last reason, as previously mentioned, it cannot be denied that in the New Testament the Body of Christ or Bride of Christ is the Lord’s “called-out group,” who has been called out of darkness into the Light, for the purpose of building Father God’s Kingdom on Earth, as it is in Heaven (see 1 Peter 2:9-10). Likewise, it cannot be denied that the Body of Christ or Bride of Christ is the Lord’s “called-out group,” who will be called out of, taken out from, or summoned out of various places (dwellings, rooms, sites, localities, and so forth, that are all over this world) so that as the Bridegroom He could gather (assemble) His Bride (Body) together in the clouds, after His Bride MEETS Him in the air (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

Right here is where the difference between the Rapture, which happens at the Lord’s in-the-air “coming” or Parousia, and the Lord’s Second Advent, which happens at the Lord’s feet-touching-the-Mount of Olives “coming” or Parousia, Apokalupsis, and Epiphaneia. Parousia, which means a “coming,” a “presence,” and an “arrival,” when used in context with the Rapture of the Bride of Christ also always means His personal “presence” at, or His personal “coming” to a specific place, at a specific time, for a specific meeting or gathering (cf. Matthew 24:3, 27, 37; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; and 2 Thessalonians 2:1). Thus, it is clear that the Parousia, which is used in context with the Rapture of the Body of Christ, precedes any end-times Parousia (Second Coming, as in His globally visible physical bodily return), which happens together with an Epiphaneia (epiphany) and an Apokalupsis (apocalypse).

The Parousia, thus, that is used in context with the Rapture suggests that Jesus Christ already is present. Indeed, He is present now within born-again believers’ spirits, which is what the apostle Paul means when he states that every physically dead believer’s spirit automatically is home with the Lord (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:8)!

For the above-stated reasons, when Apokalupsis is used in context with Jesus Christ’s Second Advent, Apokalupsis literally means an uncovering, unveiling, or revealing of the manifestation (Epiphaneia) of His presence (Parousia), which is His Glory and His Holiness—a shining forth that everyone on Earth will see. In a general sense, Apokalupsis also refers to the Lord’s Second Advent, when He comes back to Earth to physically fight in the Battle of Armageddon (the Apocalypse) and then afterward establish His millennial Kingdom (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7, 13 and 1 Peter 4:13).

That so many people, believers included, constantly confuse the Rapture Parousia with the Parousia, Epiphaneia, and Apokalupsis that are used in context with the Lord’s Second Advent only points to this obvious likelihood, which already has been mentioned, and that is: God evidently is using three words that have distinctly different denotations and connotations. He no doubt uses these three often misunderstood Greek words, specifically for the purpose of keeping the unbelieving world, the careless unprepared and unwatchful professed believers in Jesus Christ plus Satan and his demonic forces, ignorant about and unaware of the exact time when God’s ultimate plan of Salvation (His promised rescue of His righteous children; His “snatching away” of the resurrected dead and alive Bride of Christ) would be fulfilled. Thus, while at the Rapture Parousia the Lord will come down from Heaven, His feet will remain in the clouds in the air. It is while He is in the air that the loud shout or cry of command, the sound of the archangel’s voice, and the sound of God’s trumpet are made (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:16), BUT none of this “noise” is for the benefit of the unsaved world. In fact, though these loud sounds will be booming, so much so that they awake the dead in Christ and arouse the alive in Christ, these sounds will NOT be heard by the unbelieving, unsaved, wicked world, because these no doubt spiritual sounds will be inaudible to their natural ears!

Case in point, in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, ONLY the Ten Virgins heard the Bridegroom’s midnight cry. There is no mention of their parents nor other wedding party members hearing this cry.  Moreover, even though all of the 10 Virgins could hear and are awakened by the Bridegroom’s midnight cry (cf. Matthew 25:6-7), the deeper and, thus, harder truth here is that ONLY 5 of these 10 Virgins actually took Oil (symbolic of the Holy Spirit) in their vessels (symbolic of their individual born-again spirits that are being sanctified)! It is evident that the clear understanding here is that the 5 foolish Virgins had NO supernatural OIL (the filling or Baptism of the Holy Spirit, who is the anointing or Oil of the Word—the Spirit of Divine Truth, Holiness, and Wisdom). This missing Oil points to the inability of the Holy Spirit to perform all of His mighty Workings inside these foolish yet born-again believers’ spirits/hearts (cf. Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 2:6-15).

Now since parable is a word that means to “lay one thing down by another,” it is important to note here that Jesus Christ impressively is sharpening His hearers’ fundamental understanding about life in God’s eternal Kingdom by presenting a useful illustration of a heavenly Truth that is operational in the Kingdom of Heaven, which He then compares to a very familiar and well-comprehended earthly principle, or earthly narrative, or earthly fact that is operational either in nature or in humanity. Basically, His parables are true to life figurative narratives that are designed to convey, through analogy, some specific spiritual truths relative to Kingdom of Heaven living.

In other words, in the 10 Virgins Parable, Jesus Christ is comparing the Kingdom of Heaven’s spiritual preparedness of the 5 wise Virgins with the worldly spiritual unpreparedness of the foolish 5 Virgins. The Kingdom truth is that ALL 10 Virgins are saved, because the term “virgin” signifies the defining characteristics of the 10 Virgins—they ALL are pure or holy, justified or righteous, and consecrated or devoted. In other words, the word “virgins,” according to the way Christ Jesus uses it in His parable, which is in an allegorical sense, does NOT mean bridesmaids. They are not the Bride’s helpers, or cousins, or other family members, or friends. They are believers—followers of Christ(Jews and Gentiles). However, even though all 10 Virgins are believers in Christ Jesus, ONLY 5 of these 10 Virgins are truly wise AND prepared Virgins! Now, why would the Lord make this distinction, if it wasn’t an important distinction to make?

The Divine Truth, thus, only can be that the 5 wise Virgins were wise because they not only understood that at the moment they were saved, they immediately were given the gift of the Holy Spirit who came to live inside of them, bringing with Him an initial Supply of Oil, but also these 5 Virgins were wise because they understood that they had to totally surrender to their Lord and to His Gospel message concerning the Holy Spirit’s Baptism (additional empowering and endowing; a subsequent gift—a Baptism in the Holy Spirit). There is no other explanation for why, after all  of the 10 Virgins had heard the Bridegroom’s cry, had gotten up, and had trimmed their Lamps of profession (Faith), that ONLY 5 are the wise Virgins who took enough Oil to refill their reservoirs (individual born-again spirit).

This Oil in these Virgins’ reservoirs, thus, implies they not only were indwelt by the Holy Spirit but also filled with Him. That is to say, the initial gift of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside them, came with some Oil. This Divine Truth is very clear, because in the Lord’s parable it is obvious that all 10 Virgins ran out of their Oil about the same time—around midnight. Therefore, the Oil the 5 wise virgins had in additional flasks they kept with them points to a supernatural refilling of the Holy Spirit, who, after His first filling, refills, and refills, and refills, and refills, etc., His Oil in those believers who not only have poured out (or used up) their initial portion of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring but also who will seek Him for His subsequent Oil (power) refillings.

The Lord, thus, is making a very crucial point with the extra oil symbolism. This point is that the 5 wise Virgins’ extra Oil was not to be found within their individual inner spirit beings. Their extra Oil of Light was provided, as needed, by an external Source—by a supernatural Source that was outside their spirit and beyond the ability of the 5 Wise Virgins to produce, which is why this extra Oil was separate from the Oil they had within the lamp of their own spirits. In other words, the Holy Spirit’s supernatural filling is why, at the moment the 5 wise Virgins heard the Bridegroom’s midnight cry, they had enough Oil to pour into their lamps’ reservoir from which they then were able to draw that Oil up through their inserted Wicks (symbolic of that supernatural Connectivity that causes the inward Light of Christ to brightly shine outwardly). Together, the Source (Holy Spirit) and the Connectivity (the Lord, who is the Wick that draws the Oil) ensured that the 5 wise Virgins’ lamps of professed Faith would be able to burn a clean and bright flame not only so that these 5 wise Virgins could be lights in a dying sin-sick world, but also so that they would have enough of their Lord’s Light shining on the pathway that leads to that open Door (the Bridegroom; Christ Jesus; the Way).

Perhaps the following example better explains what Christ Jesus is saying: On the ships of old, it was the lamp trimmers’ responsibility to repeatedly trim the lamps’ wicks (extinguish the lamps’ flames, cut off the wicks’ used burnt parts so as to leave the clean unused wicks that, after the lamp trimmers had refilled their lamps’ reservoirs, they then could relight). The end results always were steady, clean, and bright flames.

Where Jesus Christ’s Parable of the Ten Virgins is concerned, the spiritual implication He is making about each Virgin’s lamp ALSO is that each lamp symbolizes the triune nature of each believer in Christ Jesus. That is to say, just like each one of the 10 Virgins has a physical body, soul, and a spirit, every one of their lamps also has three parts: 1. an open bowl (symbolic of the lamp’s body), which had a pinched end that formed another smaller opening or groove through which a cotton or flax wick could be inserted; 2. the bowl’s inner reservoir (or the lamp’s inner spirit), down into which olive oil (symbolic of the Holy Spirit) was poured and over which a lid often is placed; and 3. an inserted wick (symbolic of the lamp’s soul).

Furthermore, the spiritual implication here is that the 10 Virgins clearly represent 10 believers in Christ Jesus to whom Father God has given His Lamp Trimmer who is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the One Who is responsible for making sure that their wicks (souls) repeatedly have been trimmed (Whose Mighty Workings include, but are not limited to, making sure that the used burnt portion of their souls, which no doubt had been affected by the cares of this natural world, have been cut off, and making sure that their low or emptied reservoirs have been refilled) so that these believers could have their lamps of faith relit by the Word of God (cf. Psalm 119:105; Matthew 5:14-16; John 8:12).  

Once again, Jesus Christ’s parable is about Who the ultimate Source of the Oil is that is within believers’ born-again spirits/hearts and Where that Source originates, which is from Heaven. As previously stated, the extra supernatural Oil the 5 wise Virgins had with them didn’t come from any human source. This Oil neither was already stored up within the hearts/spirits of the 5 wise Virgins, nor were the flasks they had to have been carrying attached to their actual lamps.  

For sure, the parable’s significant spiritual message of the Oil that emptied out of the 10 Virgins’ hearts or spirits versus the extra Oil that was in the 5 Virgins’ flasks, which would be poured into the 5 wise Virgins’ lamps, is that Father God is both the ONLY Source and ONLY Supplier of believers’ light, for in Him there is no darkness at all (cf. 1 John 1:5; see also James 1:17). Certainly, in this sin-darkened world, Father God is the ONLY Source and the ONLY Supplier of heavenly or godly spiritual Light, and His Light primarily manifests itself through His Word, as well as through His Holy Spirit Who uses God’s Word to reveal the spiritual knowledge of and spiritual understanding about Father God that help believers see the Way Father God has prepared for them.

This Divine Truth is why Jesus Christ, with His spiritual reference to an olive oil lamp and its wick, is teaching a valuable heavenly or spiritual truth; that being, because “darkness” exists, His followers must constantly remain prepared so that they ALWAYS not only will be able to know in which direction they are going but also will be able to SEE the Way that is ahead of them. No doubt, this Divine Truth is why the Lord depicts in the Parable of the Ten Virgins that it ONLY is after the 10 Virgins’ burnt wick parts are cut off (trimmed), that a noticeable difference between the Virgins could be understood.

What becomes evident is that ONLY the 5 wise Virgins were prepared or had enough Oil (a supernatural refilling of Father God’s Holy Spirit) that would fill up their reservoirs (born-again spirits), and it is this Oil (God’s Power Source) that would enable their wicks to be relit in time for them (the 5 wise Virgins) to respond to the herald’s shout: The bridegroom is coming. Now clearly, in the apostle Paul’s Rapture verse, he is filling in the blanks by providing information that is missing from the Lord’s Parable of the Ten Virgins, in which He only mentions a “midnight cry.” From the apostle Paul’s imagery, the picture becomes clearer, as believers can begin to understand that the herald’s shout would have been followed by the voice of an angel, which would have been followed by the trumpet of God, all of which would be calling the 5 wise Virgins (Bride of Christ) out of this world; cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:16). It then is, after the Lord and His Bride gather together for an in-the-air meeting, when the Lord makes His U-Turn and begins to ascend into Heaven with His Bride. Then the Door to Heaven closes (cf. Matthew 25:10-11). This spiritual understanding is why, the parable’s shut door symbolizes that the opportunity to miss the time of testing (the Tribulation Period; the worst ever DARKNESS), which God repeatedly says in His Word is coming upon this Earth, has passed.  

Yes, this blogger is saying that even Christ Jesus is depicting the Bridegroom as coming to get His five wise Virgins AND immediately returning back to His heavenly Home for the wedding celebration, as per custom (cf. Matthew 25:10). People who know the order in which each part of an ancient Jewish Wedding transpires would know that unlike how most English translations word Matthew 25:10, the WYC, GNV, KJV, AV, DRA, NLV, NKJV, JUB, and CEB English versions’ wording is more on point. In these English versions, the 5 wise Virgins entered in with the Bridegroom to the wedding or the marriage, which means here that because being betrothed meant they already were married without the benefits of intercourse, then these 5 wise Virgins were entering their bridal chamber with their Bridegroom to consummation their marriage. Contrary to popular opinions, the 5 wise Virgins were NOT entering with the Bridegroom to their wedding feast! That’s right! The Jewish wedding or marriage is different from the wedding feast.

Now, with most modern day earthly weddings, in which the engaged couples waited until the completion of their marriage ceremony before having sex, the marriage consummation usually takes place AFTER the wedding celebration or reception. After the wedding ceremony, where vows are exchanged, the married couple usually would take photos and then go to eat and drink with their guests. After their wedding reception, the married couple typically would then go into their honeymoon suite, where they would consummate their marriage.

In contrast, according to ancient Jewish Wedding customs, the wedding celebration or reception (the Wedding Feast; Marriage Supper) does not precede the consummation of the wedding or the marriage. In other words, according to Jewish Wedding customs, after the bridegroom returns from where he built the living quarters (bridal chamber), which he built in his father’s house,  the bridegroom would “steal away” his bride and take her to the bridal chamber in his father’s house. There, behind closed doors, for seven days they would consummate their marriage. After being hidden behind closed doors for seven days, the bride and the bridegroom would come out and then join their family and friends at the wedding feast, which in the Jewish Wedding customs represents The Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Because of the well-known Jewish wedding customs, there is no doubt that Jesus Christ uses the Parable of the Ten Virgins to teach in part about His Bride being abducted and taken to Her Wedding Chamber and about the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, because there can be no doubt that He knew His figurative narratives (parables) all had multiple layers—numerous meanings—which ONLY the very wise would realize. Thus, since the Lord’s parable of the 10 Virgins is a figurative narrative that most people will take literally, one of the spiritual implications of this parable is clearly that only the Holy Spirit-filled Virgins will be the spiritually wise believers who will realize the deeper spiritual allegory and symbolism in this parable, as these figurative languages relate to the Bridegroom (Christ Jesus) who comes to get His Bride (the Lord’s ekklesia; His “called-out group”), who has been “called out” of the world for a meeting with the Bridegroom. Moreover, only the Holy Spirit-filled Virgins will understand that it is after the Lord’s ekklesia gathers together in the air with Him that He then immediately escorts His Bride (ekklesia) back to His Father’s House to be secluded in safety far away from the promised seven-year Tribulation on earth.

Furthermore, the Parable of the Ten Virgins’ allegorical Door that shuts is Jesus Christ, who is the Way to Heaven. In fact, Jesus Christ is the ONLY One who is called both the Way and the Door. The Door that shuts, additionally, is the door to the “marriage”—the Door to the Bridal Chamber where the Bridegroom and His Bride’s marriage finally is consummated. That Door, once shut, actually will open for no one, until seven days are up, at which time the Bridegroom comes out to let His Best Man know that the marriage is official. The Door that opens in the Lord’s parable is figurative language, which also describes a kind of judgment that the Lord has issued, which basically is that He did not know the 5 foolish Virgins; thus, the image of the 5 foolish Virgins not being able to enter into the Bridal Chamber is nothing more than the continuation of the 5 wise and 5 foolish Virgins spiritual comparison the Lord has been making!

It is so sad that many believers in Christ maintain that this parable cannot be about any Pre-Tribulation Rapture, because there are judgment and punishment in it. In other words, to these believers, judgment and punishment would mean these 10 Virgins represent the “Church” going through the Tribulation Period. However, those who maintain this nonsense have forgotten, or never knew, that none of the believers, whether wise of foolish, will be judged for their sins, neither at the time the true Bride is raptured, nor during the Tribulation Period, and not at the end of the Tribulation Period. In other words, the 5 foolish Virgins who are left behind are not left behind because of their sins. They are left behind because of their unpreparedness (just like the Israelites had to stay in the wilderness for 40 years, and why many of them had to die in their wilderness; again, it primarily was because they were NOT prepared to enter into the Promised Land). Additionally, the 5 foolish Virgins are left behind, because they were slothful servants who did NOT use EVERYTHING God has provided for their Salvation and spiritual growth. In essence, they buried their talent, which is symbolic of the spiritual riches God has made available to them (cf. Matthew 25:24-25, 29-30).

There also are those individuals who maintain that the 5 foolish Virgins actually bought Oil, and therefore, should have been allowed to enter the wedding chamber, but the Word of God does not say that. How could they buy this Oil, when this Oil (Baptism in the Holy Spirit) is an additional spiritual gift from God freely given to each individual believer who seeks this exceptional baptism? As also discussed in this article, this Oil ultimately comes from Father God who is the ONLY Source and ONLY Supplier, and He freely gives the refillings by way of His Holy Spirit.

In other words, this Oil of the Holy Spirit neither could be sold nor transferred. That is why the 5 wise Virgins COULDN’T give the 5 foolish Virgins any of their reserved Oil, because if they could that would mean the 5 wise Virgins, at any time, also could siphon off a portion of the Holy Spirit inside of them and gift that portion to someone else.

Surely the Word of God clearly says that: “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17, NASB). Therefore, this Divine Truth is why it virtually was impossible for the 5 wise Virgins to give even the smallest portion of their God-given spiritual gift (Oil of the Holy Spirit) to the 5 foolish Virgins who, from the beginning of their Salvation, didn’t see the necessity of having by way of seeking their own EXTRA portion of Oil, which comes from the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

The bottom line then is this: The 5 wise Virgins are wise, because they understood that ONLY the Holy Spirit is sold out for Christ Jesus believers’ true and faithful outside Supply and eternal outside Source of the Oil of anointing for Salvation AND empowerment. The Hanukkah story best demonstrates this same Divine Truth, which again is that the abundant external Supply of Light is within  the eternal and almighty Father God. Thus, in the 10 Virgins’ case, it is God alone who is the One who fills the lamps of born-again believers’ inner human spirits via His Holy Spirit, and His provision is without end!!!! However, all believers will need to seek and ask Him for their refills.

Not only through Paul but also through Peter, whose Day of Pentecost sermon begins with a reference to a prophesied promise of God (the outpouring of the Holy Spirit or the Baptism in the Holy Spirit), God promises to give His children EVERYTHING that comes with Salvation. This EVERYTHING includes the Holy Spirit’s subsequent Baptism. Peter also makes it clear that this promised Baptism is available to ALL of God’s Virgins (the pure or holy, justified or righteous, and consecrated or devoted believers in Christ Jesus; cf. Acts 2:14-18, 39).

The apostle Peter’s declaration that the Holy Spirit’s subsequent Baptism IS available to all believers (Jews and Gentiles; male and female, and so forth) is why, in His Parable of the Ten Virgins, the Lord, who earlier makes it known to Peter that He would use Peter to build His spiritual ekklesia (cf. Matthew 16:18), makes it clear that all of these Virgins, as a group of “called-out believers,” had been awakened so that they could go out for a meeting with their Bridegroom. Again, the spiritual implication here is that the Bridegroom’s Father already had provided His Holy Spirit (Oil of Salvation) AND the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (a never-ending Supply of His Oil or spiritual empowerment) to all of these Virgins way ahead of time, and by doing so had ensured all Virgins that His Oil of Salvation (Eternal Light) and His Oil of Empowerment (dunamis . . .  supernatural, miraculous power) were available to the Lord’s entire Body of Believers.

However, as illustrated in the parable, it is only the 5 wise Virgins who actually are the Lord’s truly empowered Bride. This Divine Truth is evident, because when the midnight hour starts (that time right before the prophesied time of global deep darkness falls) it is ONLY the 5 wise Virgins who demonstrate that they are the Lord’s truly empowered Bride. They are the only ones who are able to answer the “call,” which actually is a summons to come out of this world for a meeting with their Bridegroom or Lord, who, according to what Paul writes, is in the air and waiting for them in the clouds.

The above truth is why, according to Jesus Christ’s teaching in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, which is about being spiritually alert AND spiritually prepared for the Lord’s “come up hither” call, it should be clear to true believers in Christ that they must be just like the 5 wise Virgins in the Lord’s parable. His ekklesia must take the time to prepare for His “coming” way ahead of time, because the Lord’s imagery in His 10 Virgins parable absolutely paints this vivid picture: It is ONLY the 5 wise Virgins who make the necessary spiritual preparation ahead of an anticipated time of profound darkness—ahead of the promised time of trial and testing (The Tribulation Period).  As a result, they get the chance to go into the Bridal Chamber, the Door shuts, and, according to many other Scriptures, the Bride rests safe and secure during the seven-year Tribulation Period.

Once again, knowing that their own lamp would fail them somewhere down the line, these 5 wise Virgins made it their priority to obtain a supernatural Supply of Oil that is outside of themselves. In essence, their extra flasks of Oil were, to them, their necessary ‘midnight-cry oil.’

The hard to swallow truth here is that ONLY those wise truly born again, saved, righteous believers in Christ Jesus who, with the aid of the Holy Spirit’s refilling, are walking with God by Faith and not by sight. As a result, they will hear AND be prepared for the “call” (summons; command) to come out of this world. Put differently, the 5 wise and prepared Virgins definitely symbolize the alive professed last-days Christians (ekklesia) who, according to apostle Paul, will be caught up to be with Christ Jesus in the clouds, after the resurrected dead in Christ Jesus believers ascend and receive their glorified bodies into which is put their born-again spirits that have been with Christ Jesus since their physical deaths. Yes, this truth is hard to swallow; nevertheless, it is still true—ONLY the resurrected dead in Christ and the raptured alive in Christ will see their promised Bridegroom (will be in His physical “presence”) before the Tribulation Period begins. They will be the ones in glorified bodies who, while in the air, are gathered around their Bridegroom—they will be the saints the apostle Paul says will be honored in Heaven as a glorious Bride (ekklesia) that has NO blemishes or spots (cf. Ephesians 5:27-32).

Now, concerning the establishment of a sound Rapture doctrine first in the Old Testament, and then in the New Testament, there is no doubt that the prophet Micah is prophesying that there will be a Rapture of an ekklesia (the firstfruits’ Rapture of the holy and righteous Bride of Christ), because only that kind of huge event would be the most logical reason for why the Judah that Micah is prophesying about (evidently the left-behind Jews) will be bemoaning, exclaiming “Woe is me.” There can be no doubt their lamenting is because of a major event that has taken place, which has startled these Jews. It must be a most important occasion, because whatever this incident is it obviously has awakened the spiritually asleep Jews and finally has stirred their jealousy of believing Gentiles to the point that this Judah Micah speaks of, which is around during the Tribulation Period, is desiring Jesus Christ (these left-behind Jews are ready to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior)!

The prophet Micah writes:

Woe is me! For I am
Like the fruit pickers, like the grape gatherers.
There is not a cluster of grapes to eat,
Or a first-ripe fig which I crave.
The godly person has perished from the land,
And there is no upright person among men.
All of them lie in wait for bloodshed;
Each of them hunts the other with a net. ~ Micah 7:1-2, NASB

Micah obviously is describing the prophesied Firstfruits’ harvest of last-days souls, when the born again, saved, justified, and sanctified Bride of Christ “vanishes,” which is a better translation of the word “perished,” off of this Earth. Thus, in verse 2, Micah is not saying that “good” people have “died.” The English word translated in this verse as “perished” is from the Hebrew word ‘abad, which in English also is translated as “vanished.” For sure, Micah is prophesying that in the last days godly people will “disappear” off of the Earth (will be raptured), just like what happened to Enoch and Elijah, who were translated (raptured).

Then too, it would seem that a major prophet, the prophet Isaiah, who lived at the same time as Micah, also prophesies about this future last-days Rapture. Isaiah writes:

The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart;
And devout men are taken away, while no one understands.
For the righteous man is taken away from evil,
He enters into peace;
They rest in their beds,
Each one who walked in his upright way
.~ Isaiah 57:1-2, NASB

These verses often are used to explain why babies, young children, and righteous adults have died at a relatively early age. While this understanding might be applicable, based on the context (Isaiah 56 and 57 are one complete message), it is clear that the prophet Isaiah has had a vision of the future last days and end times, when God’s Salvation and Righteousness in the form of Christ Jesus is about to be revealed. Put differently, the prophet Isaiah has had a vision of the times prior to and during the Tribulation Period, when there would be a snatching away of the truly saved by Grace righteous and faithful people.

Thus, Isaiah obviously is speaking about the resurrection of the dead (the righteous in Christ Jesus who perish), the Rapture or removal of the Bride of Christ (the faithfully prepared righteous who are taken away; who disappeared), and the hidden away Bride who peacefully is resting on Her beds in Heaven’s bridal chambers, which is every upright (made righteous by Jesus Christ) believer’s blessed hope—EVERYTHING that eternal Salvation provides. Indeed, eternal Salvation also includes the Lord keeping His promise to rescue His Bride from the time of testing that is to come upon this Earth (cf.  Luke 21:36; Revelation 3:10)

According to Isaiah’s prophesies, the faithfully righteous believers in Jesus Christ will be removed/taken off of the Earth. Only the corrupt officials and the corrupt global nations will be what is left behind. Put differently, Isaiah is prophesying that the individuals who are left behind after the Rapture of the Bride of Christ will be mostly Israel’s (the nation of Israel as a whole) wicked religious and political leaders—shepherds and watchmen—and the wicked nations of the world, who attack Israel’s defenseless flock like dogs (cf. Isaiah 56:9-12)!

The rest of the left behinders are chiefly those “…sons of a sorceress, offspring of and offspring of an adulterer and a prostitute” who have been conned not only by Israel and many other nations’ corrupt officials/leaders but also these left behinders have been hoodwinked by the ever-present global Babylonian systems, which largely are religious, political, and economic in nature (cf. Isaiah 57:3-8), and as such these left behinders not only will NOT notice (will not take it to heart; will not think seriously about) the disappearance of the most faithful of righteous people (those who died in Christ and eventually will be resurrected) nor the raptured (the alive in Christ believers who just disappeared). In other words, the masses of these left behinders will not notice that the genuine believers who have been “called out” of this world have been gone for some time!

In Isaiah 57:1, the word that is rendered in English as ‘swept away,’ or in other translations as ‘taken away,’ is the Hebrew word ‘acaph, which mostly means the faithfully righteous were gathered together or were removed from the evil (calamities, wars, pestilences, earthquakes, and etc.) that will be happening on this Earth during the Tribulation Period. In context, the prophet Isaiah no doubt is alluding to said “evil” as being those same calamities, wars, pestilences, earthquakes, and etc., which Jesus Christ predicts in His Olivet Discourse would come to pass during the Tribulation Period, and specifically more intensely during Daniel’s 70th Week, as judgment of and punishment for the “evil” behaviors of the unbelieving masses, as well as for those who have rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. For these reasons, it should be obvious that Isaiah 57:2 also is a picture-perfect description of the promised FirstFruits harvest of last-days souls, of which Jesus Christ was the first—the FIRSTfruit of the faithfully righteous sinless people to be resurrected from the dead and then taken up to Heaven. Therefore, Isaiah 57:1-2 verses really have more to do with the Pre-Tribulation Rapture than anything else!

This last statement is true, because the prophet Isaiah earlier prophesies in Isaiah 26:20 that at some future time the Lord’s Bride will be hidden in the rooms He has prepared for Her (see Jesus Christ’s promise to His disciples; John 14:2-3). These chambers or rooms are the appropriate nuptial hiding places, where the Bride of Christ will dress Herself in Her white linen robe and will wait there to be presented without spot or blemish to Her Groom. These Pre-Tribulation Rapture and Hiding in Bridal Chambers images are definitely what Isaiah is revealing, because he also prophesies in Isaiah 26:21 that there also is a future time that will be the time of God’s Wrath. Therefore, it should be clear that the Rapture and Hiding in Bridal Chambers will be before the time of God’s final judgments and punishments (before the Tribulation Period begins; before God pours out His final Wrath).

During this coming Tribulation Period, especially Daniel’s 70th Week, the prophet Isaiah makes it clear that the Lord’s Bride will enjoy peace, while She is resting on Her “beds” in the “rooms” He has prepared for Her. For sure, this time of resting is the promise the Lord makes to the Philadelphian ekklesia. He promises to keep these believers from the hour of testing (the Tribulation Period), and Isaiah lets believers everywhere know that the Lord will keep His promise.

Even King David seems to be prophesying about the last days’ righteous ekklesia being raptured (prophesying about the disappearance or vanishing of the righteous and faithful Bride of Christ). The central theme of Psalm 12 is that God Himself promises to rescue (to make safe) His godly people—to protect them, by keeping them away from the world’s most treacherous (evil, dangerous, and unrighteous) people. If Father God does that for His chosen Jewish people, then Father God also will do that for the Lord’s Bride, because Father God is immutable! David writes:

Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be,
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men
.

‘Now I will arise,’ says the Lord; ‘I will set him in the safety for which he longs.’ ~ Psalm 12:1, 5b; NASB

King David also writes: “…I have not seen the righteous forsaken/Or his descendants begging bread” ~ Psalm 37:25, NASB. Clearly, the Word of God makes it obvious that during the Tribulation Period there will be numerous people who will be literally begging for bread!

The final bottom line here is that in the Old Testament there is plenty of evidence that supports a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of Christ Jesus’ Bride, and in the Old Testament there also is plenty of evidence that supports an ekklesia that is not in any way like a “church.” Again, no matter how anyone tries to spin it, the word “church” only defines a “place,” mainly a physical building, and NEVER a people; whereas, the chief way ekklesia is used in the Scriptures is as a congregation, convocation, or an assembly of PEOPLE—the ones who have been “called out” and/or set apart. Now, even though a group of people might go to a “church” building to worship, God never “calls out” any “church” building! In other words, NO “church” building is ever “called out” of darkness into God’s marvelous Light. Some of the people in each “church” building, however, could qualify as God’s “called-out group.”

In summary, if in these last days the alive believers in Christ Jesus are going to be alert AND prepared for God’s promised last-trumpet summons, which will “call” them to come up hither (rapture them), then it is vital that every one of today’s believers in Christ Jesus takes part in the process of recapturing the first-century followers of Christ’s cultural commission of going into the world, as they knew it, to both evangelize their world and disciple all its NATIONS. For the Word of God is crystal clear about this display of a global influence being exactly what God intends for every one of His Household of Faith children to achieve.

Furthermore, let there be no doubt about it. The only way that God intends for His sons and daughters to globally influence today’s world is by “churchgoers” as a whole understanding that they must accept God’s original meaning of ekklesia, which from its inception primarily means a “called-out group”—His sons and daughters who not only are supposed to engage this world but also are supposed to govern it while they are still on this Earth. This truth is why when the Lord returns back to this Earth with His host of saints, at the end of the Great Tribulation, the Scriptures make it very clear that these raptured and now returning back to Earth with Christ saints are the ONLY saints who will rule (govern this Earth once again), but this time right along with their Lord and King!

A word to the wise Virgins should be sufficient! Shalom . . . .