The Ten Virgins
The teachings of Jesus are so profound! It is no wonder that people were willing to follow Him all over the countryside to hear and see Him. The story He tells about the ten virgins is part of a much longer teaching. This part of the teaching is in response to questions the disciples asked Him about the end of days.
Matthew 24:3 New Living Translation
Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?[a]”
As part of His response to those questions, Jesus shares this story as recorded in Matthew 25:1-13 NLT
“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids[a] who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, 4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’
7 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’
9 “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’
12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’
13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.
These ten virgins are attendants to the marriage feast. The virgins are not the bride but are likened to what we know today as bridesmaids. The marriage of the Bridegroom or the Lamb of God is spoken of in Revelation 19:6-8.
These ten virgins seem to represent the Jewish people. They are not the bride of Christ but do have the opportunity to participate in the festivities of the marriage feast. The Church is the Bride of Christ.
Matthew 25:1-2 NLT
“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids[a] who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.
The numbers given in the story are probably not an authentic representation of how many will actually attend the marriage feast. This possibly is to simply represent two types of people not to indicate that only half of them will make it in.
Matthew 25:3 NLT
The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps,
There is a “waiting” period between the time the virgins start the journey to meet the Bridegroom and the call announcing the final phase of preparation. The ones who were foolish did not adequately prepare for the “wait”. They failed to look ahead. It is important to keep the anticipation of His arrival on ‘high alert’.
Matthew 25:4 NLT
but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil.
The wise knew to take along more oil than they expected to need. The bible calls it ‘extra’ oil. It may seem ‘extra’ (more than you need) until you need it. Then it is no longer ‘extra’ but it is ‘essential’.
Christian believers can take a cue from this passage: Stay Ready.
The oil is that which allows us to see when it is properly used in the lamp. The oil facilitates illumination. Life challenges and time may cause the lamp to dim if the oil isn’t refreshed regularly. Following God’s instructions through prayer, godly meditation, biblical study and obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit all help to refresh the oil in our lamps. The lamp is the life we live. When we ‘see’ better spiritually we will live wiser lives and minister more effectively.
The story that Jesus shares suggests that all ten virgins had the same information and the same opportunities available to them. But only one group chose to make adequate preparations.
The wise group was not alerted any sooner than the foolish group that the Bridegroom was coming. But the wise stayed prepared. They did not allow the oil to get low or the light to become dim. The lamp may represent the life of a person and the oil can represent the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit living on the inside, a life has no light. Just like a lamp, as described in the story, has no light without the oil.
Jesus doesn’t share in the story why the foolish ones didn’t prepare better. Maybe they thought there would be more time. Perhaps they didn’t want to put forth the effort required to keep oil burning brightly in their lamps. Maybe they just figured they could rely on someone else’s oil to light their lamps as stated in verse 8.
When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
This verse seems to support the premise that this parable refers to the Jewish people. It is an indication of their sleeping (basically being unaware spiritually as the Lord deals with the Gentiles and the church age). The Jewish people started on their journey to meet the Bridegroom, the Messiah, many years ago. But because of their rejection of Jesus when He came to them, the Church Age was ushered in. For the most part, the Jewish people have been set aside while God interacts with Christian believers. At some point in the future, God will again focus on the Jewish people.
“At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’
7 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps.
Through verse 7, all the virgins seem the same. The hearers and readers of the story have been told that there is one difference between the two groups that make up the ten. But no difference between them has been evidenced yet. They were all virgins. They all had lamps and oil. So they all knew what they needed to have with them. They all slept. They all heard the announcement of the Bridegroom’s coming. They all knew what the declaration meant. They all responded immediately and appropriately. But that is where the similarities end. There may be people around you who look and act the part but are not prepared to meet the Lord. Meeting Him in joy and peace requires preparation in this life. He has provided all of the information we need to see His face in peace when this phase of life is over. Don’t be like the five foolish and wait until the last minute to get what you need. Do it now. Keep your oil refreshed and your lamp (your life) burning brightly for Him.
Although the virgins all seem the same up to this point, verse 8 begins the distinction between the wise and the foolish.
Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’
When those who are unprepared realize it, many will seek to depend on the wisdom and preparedness of others. The foolish have no problem asking those who were prudent and diligent to sacrifice their oil. The foolish don’t mind putting the wise at risk of running short by asking for their oil.
“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’
The wise know that each person must seek the Lord for themselves. No one can give the Holy Ghost in them to another person. The wise advise the foolish to do what they should have done long ago: get your own oil. Every day we should be preparing for our spiritual future. It is unwise to live life haphazardly or ill prepared until the last minute.
“But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’
In verse 10, the foolish virgins did the right things but did it too late. All the virgins made it right up to the finish line but only some of them crossed the finished line. Only some of them, the ones who stayed ready, went in to the marriage feast.
In verse 11, the late comers, the foolish ones, thought they should still be welcomed in even though the door was shut.
“But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’
13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.
The ending of this parable relates that there is plenty of time to prepare but there is only one opportunity to go in. Thus, we are to stay prepared. We are to always live our lives as if this may be the day. We should not hesitate or procrastinate about any of the Lord’s instructions. Everything He tells us is for our own good and enrichment.
The Lord does not want us to be fearful about His coming. He wants us to be READY! Christians do this by developing and maintaining the relationship that He desires to have with each one of us. How do we do that?
1. You must be born again. John 3:3,5
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again,[a] you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.
2. We are to love one another. John 13:34-35
34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
3. Walk or live according to the spirit of God and not according to the flesh. Galatians 5:16
16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.
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