Parable of the Ten Virgins

by Douglas Ecklund

Matthew 25: 1 - 13
The parable of the ten virgins produces an interesting array of interpretation. This study will present my understanding of this well-known parable. I understand the parable as being directed to believers to exhort faithful obedience to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ especially in light of his return.

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
Matthew 25:1

First, the context of this parable is regarding the coming of the Lord Jesus. It is an exhortation to be found watchful and obedient.

Secondly, the parable relates to the kingdom of heaven; the citizens are compared to ten virgins.

And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Matthew 25:2

A wise servant is faithful, staunch with what has been entrusted to him, and dutiful. A foolish servant is unprofitable.

They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
Matthew 25:3-4

This is relatively simple on a surface level; the wise were astute enough to make preparations; the foolish were not. Both the wise and the foolish were provided with lamps; the wise virgins were not apathetic, but being fervent, acquired the oil to maximize the profitability of their lamps.

While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. Matthew 25:5-9

The bridegroom did not come immediately; just as the coming of the Lord Jesus. All the ten virgins arose at the cry; all had some oil initially, but the foolish, lacking perseverance, did not arrange for a delayed coming by buying extra oil.

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Matthew 25:10

The wise servants being ready went in with the bridegroom. The foolish servants were neglectful and did not obey the command to be watchful, and prepared.

The door was shut. This parable does not say that the foolish virgins never entered in however.

Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
Matthew 25:11-12

The other virgins are just that, others. They are not the five foolish virgins. The kingdom of heaven is equated to ten virgins; these others are not of the ten and are not included in the kingdom. The Lord knows his own; to these he says he does not. Entrance is denied to these other virgins. Also, Matthew 25:7 refers to all ten as - those virgins; therefore there must be others, the others are in verse 11.

The exhortation for us is to be furnished with abundant oil of faithfulness to keep our lamps lit, waiting for our Bridegroom; and to be mindful of the last verse of the parable.

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. Matthew 25:13

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