Brief Notes

“In the Midst
of the Night”

11 July 2023

A particular phrase
in the parable of
the 10 virgins reminds us
of our need to be ready
to meet the Lord

The NKJV translates Matthew 25:6, in the Lord’s parable of the 10 virgins, this way:

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’”

And most other versions, such as the NASB, ESV, KJV, RcV, and ASV, translate it in a similar way.

However, that is not quite what this actually verse says. The Greek word for “midnight” appears elsewhere in the New Testament, as when Paul and Silas were singing hymns of praise in prison “about midnight” (Acts 16:25), but not here. Instead, this verse uses the word “midst,” as when Jesus commanded the man with the withered hand to stand “in the midst” (Luke 6:8), with the separate word “night.” So, the literal rendering of the phrase is “in the midst of the night.” Thus, Darby translates it more accurately than other versions as “in the middle of the night.”

This may be a subtle difference, but it is quite significant. The difference in Greek is analogous to the difference in English between saying “midnight” and “middle of the night.” The former is another way of saying an exact time, namely, 12:00 A.M., while the latter is much more general; it could mean any time in the darkest hours of the night.

And that is why the Lord uses this expression here. He told the parable of the ten virgins to emphasize our need to prepare ourselves to meet Him. So, instead of referring to midnight, an exact time, He refers instead to the night-time in a general way, to remind us, we must be sure we are ready, for we do not know when He is coming.

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— 11July 2023 —