The Midnight Call and Romans 13

18 Nov
Ten Virgins

from Google Images

In my previous study I began looking at Jesus Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). Keep in mind that, according to Matthew, this is still the Olivet Discourse. In fact the whole of Matthew 25 is part of Jesus’ explanation of his coming and the end of the age, which has to do with the Apostles’ questions in Matthew 24:3. The Parable of the Ten Virgins offers a wedding motif, whereby the bridegroom comes to the betrothed, the ten virgins in the parable, but only five were ready. The second five were unable to enter into the wedding with the bridegroom (Matthew 25:10-13). Readiness seems to be centered around having enough oil, or, perhaps, trusting that the oil one has is enough (Matthew 25:3-10).

What I want to consider at this point is the translators’ mention of the midnight hour or perhaps their intended meaning is the midnight watch (cir. 9 PM to 12 AM). Most translations conclude it is either midnight or in the middle of the night. Technically, it is the same thing, but the word middle doesn’t always mean the exact center (see Matthew 10:16; 14:24).[1] The point being, Jesus already told his disciples that he didn’t know the hour of his coming or the end of the age (Matthew 24:36). If Jesus really means midnight in Matthew 25:6, then he is telling the Apostles he is coming at midnight or, if that refers to the midnight watch, he will becoming then, but he had already told them he didn’t know which watch or hour that would be (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:35). Therefore, the parable doesn’t really conclude the bridegroom came at midnight or between the hours of 9 PM to 12 AM. It simply means he came at sometime during the night, while the virgins slept.

With this in mind, I would now like to consider Paul’s mention of waking out of sleep, because the night is far spent. He claims the hour had come. Notice:

Romans 13:11-12  And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.  (12)  The night is far spent, the day is at hand… (emphasis mine).

Paul wrote his epistle to Rome cir. 57 AD. This was approximately 26 to 27 years after Pentecost, or 29 to 30 years after the first Apostles believed in Jesus. So what’s my point? Well, as I mentioned in a previous study,[2] Jesus said he would return within that generation. If a generation can be defined as 40 years (see Numbers 14:33-35; 32:13), and, since the Lord defined the time he tarried to be a single night divided into four watches (Mark 13:35), then one could logically divide that evil generation into about four decades each (Pentecost to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, or the beginning of Jesus’ ministry to the beginning of the Jews’ war with Rome in 66 AD.

This would put Paul’s letter to Rome 9 to 10 years from the beginning of the war or about 13 years from the destruction of the Temple. Either way Paul was saying his readers were much closer to the end of the age and Jesus’ coming than they were to the time when they first believed (Romans 13:11), either at Pentecost or sometime near the beginning of Jesus public ministry.

Moreover, Paul was also telling his readers that the hour (G5610) had come by saying it was “high time” (G5610), and it was time to wake out of sleep (Romans 13:11; cf. Matthew 25:5-7). Paul uses the same Greek word in Romans 13:11 that Jesus used in Matthew 24:36, 44, 50 and 25:13. This puts the fulfillment of the Olivet Discourse in the first century AD. If Paul was speaking of the same time Jesus indicated would be the end of the age and his coming, then that time occurred in 70 AD.


[1] Did Jesus mean he was sending the disciples in the exact center of the wolf pack (Matthew 10:16), and was the boat in the exact center of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:24)? I believe midst (middle) here simply means something like surrounded by. The disciples would be surrounded by wolves and their boat was off shore, surrounded by deep water.

[2] See With the Sound of a Trumpet.

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Posted by on November 18, 2018 in 70 AD Eschatology


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