What the Oil in the Lamps Means.
Now they offered, in Leviticus, [2668] oil of this kind, "pure oil olive, beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually, without the veil...before the Lord." But they were commanded to have a feeble light from the evening to the morning. For their light seemed to resemble the prophetic word, which gives encouragement to temperance, being nourished by the acts and the faith of the people. But the temple (in which the light was kept burning) refers to "the lot of their inheritance," [2669] inasmuch as a light can shine in only one house. Therefore it was necessary that it should be lighted before day. For he says, [2670] "they shall burn it until the morning," that is, until the coming of Christ. But the Sun of chastity and of righteousness having arisen, there is no need of other light.

So long, then, as this people treasured up nourishment for the light, supplying oil by their works, the light of continence was not extinguished among them, but was ever shining and giving light in the "lot of their inheritance." But when the oil failed, by their turning away from the faith to incontinence, the light was entirely extinguished, so that the virgins have again to kindle their lamps by light transmitted from one to another, bringing the light of incorruption to the world from above. Let us then supply now the oil of good works abundantly, and of prudence, being purged from all corruption which would weigh us down; lest, while the Bridegroom tarries, our lamps may also in like manner be extinguished. For the delay is the interval which precedes the appearing of Christ. Now the slumbering and sleeping of the virgins signifies the departure from life; and the midnight is the kingdom of Antichrist, during which the destroying angel passes over the houses. [2671] But the cry which was made when it was said, [2672] "Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him," is the voice which shall be heard from heaven, and the trumpet, when the saints, all their bodies being raised, shall be caught up, and shall go on the clouds to meet the Lord. [2673]

For it is to be observed that the word of God says, that after the cry all the virgins arose, that is, that the dead shall be raised after the voice which comes from heaven, as also Paul intimates, [2674] that "the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first;" that is the tabernacles, [2675] for they died, being put off by their souls. "Then we which are alive shall be caught up together with them," meaning our souls. [2676] For we truly who are alive are the souls which, with the bodies, having put them on again, shall go to meet Him in the clouds, bearing our lamps trimmed, not with anything alien and worldly, but like stars radiating the light of prudence and continence, full of ethereal splendour.


[2668] Leviticus 24:2, 3.

[2669] Psalm 105:11.

[2670] Leviticus 24:3.

[2671] Exodus 11. xii.

[2672] Matthew 25:6. [This parable greatly stimulated primitive celibacy.]

[2673] 1 Thess. iv. 16, 17.

[2674] 1 Thess. iv. 16.

[2675] Bodies.

[2676] 1 Thess. iv. 17. Commentators have remarked on the peculiarity of the interpretation. We give simply the writer's meaning.--Tr.

chapter iii the same endeavour and
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