Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Parable Of The 10 Virgins

"Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

Today we come to a passage known as the parable of the ten virgins. Jesus begins this parable with the familiar words "the kingdom of heaven will be like..." We have already seen this several times in the gospel of Matthew, and have pointed out that when Jesus is telling a parable He is taking something that everyone hearing Him would have understood and He is using it to teach a spiritual truth. This parable is no different.; Jesus has just finished answering the disciples questions about His second coming and the end of the age, and now He is going to use a parable that will show them (and us) the need of being prepared for His return.

Jesus begins by telling us that there were 10 virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom, and right away He tells us that five of them were sensible and five were foolish. He then tells us what it was that made them sensible or foolish; Jesus says that the sensible ones took oil for their lamp and the foolish did not. What is the significance of this? Jesus had just finished saying that no one knows when the day will be, not the angels, not Him, but only the Father in heaven (Matthew 24:36). So He is now using this parable to illustrate that point.

The Jewish wedding ceremony in Jesus time was much different than ours is today. At this time the bride and groom were betrothed to each other, but they did not set a date for the wedding. The groom would return to his fathers house and construct a room for he and his bride to live in, and when the father decided that the room was ready he would say to his son "go get your bride." Then the son would go get her, bring her back to the fathers house, and the wedding would begin.

In this parable Jesus is telling us that the 10 virgins represent those waiting on the return of the groom, and that some of them are not prepared. In this parable the virgins represent those professing to be Christians. We can see this by the fact that all 10 of them took lamps with them. But only 5 were actually prepared for the Bridegroom's return; those were the 5 virgins who had oil for their lamps. I believe that the oil here is a picture of the Holy Spirit who is inside of all true believers.

Speaking of this parable, John MacArthur writes:
The evidence that some of the bridesmaids were unprepared despite their outward appearance was the fact that they took no oil with them. They carried torches that looked exactly like those of the others, but they had nothing to burn in them, nothing that would give light and significance. A torch without fuel is obviously worthless, and a profession of faith in Jesus Christ without a saving relationship to Him is infinitely more worthless, because one is left in spiritual darkness.

Remember that Jesus said He would come back at an hour that we do not expect, so as you reflect on the parable of the ten virgins today, take a few minutes and make sure that you are ready for the Bridegroom to come.
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Justin said...

I just came to your blog from Sicarri's, and I'm loving it already!

About this topic, do you think that there is any significance to the even split of the virgins who were prepared and the ones who weren't? For instance, would this point to 50% of Christians being in danger of missing His return?

Just something that came to me as I was reading, and I have never thought about it before.

Chris said...

Hi Justin,

First of all, thank you for visiting my blog, and for the kind words.

In answer to your question, if you look at the parable of the sower you see that out of all of the people who hear the Gospel there are 25% that reject it outright. That leaves 75% that make show some sort of acceptance to the message, but Jesus tells us that 2/3 of those will fall away. With that as the benchmark I think we can almost certainly say that 50% of the "Christians" being in danger of missing His return may actually be a conservative number.


jpip said...

Good take on "God is light". I think it could also refer to the fact that God has revealed Himself as to who He is, what He desires, what He has done, and what He demands of is in that regard. Those who walk in darkness are those who reject that Self disclosure of God and instead walk in the "light" of their own making.
Jpip - Jim

Carlito Catajusan said...

I simply understood this parable that those who were Foolish virgins are not saved as the statement of the verse stated, " The foolish took their lamps without oil ". Since the interpretation of oil is the Holy Spirit then it has no doubt that they were not saved. Eph. 1:13 says, that the Holy Spirit will be the one who sealed us after we believed in Christ. The foolish were only profess their faith as we've seen Matt. 25:12 stated, " Depart from me for I know you not ". God knows who are His. Rom.8:9,16

Chris said...


First of all, thank you for stopping by and thanks for taking the time to comment.

Yes, you are correct, the oil represents the Holy Spirit and all truly save people have the Holy Spirit. What we are seeing here is a warning that some people believe that they are ready, that they are in Christ, when in fact they have never repented and placed their faith in Jesus Christ; these are the foolish virgins referenced here.

All true believers have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, and their salvation is secure. But there are also those who think they have eternal life because of something that they have done (asked Jesus into their heart for example) who have never turned from their sin. Those are the foolish who are not ready for Christ's return and who will one day hear Him say, "Depart from Me, I never knew you."

And yes, God knows those who are His. This parable is a warning to us to make sure that we know we are His.

God Bless,