1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. – Mathew 13:3-9
Just prior to His crucifixion Jesus was teaching His disciples. Jesus turned His teachings into parables to confound those who had rejected Him and to continue teaching to the true believers (Mathew 13:10-17). Jesus continually taught about His return, our relationship with Him, and who would be accepted into the Kingdom. The parable of the 10 virgins was one of at least three (including the parables of the talents and the sheep and goats) that were designed to pass on these key understandings.
From this parable we learn about:
- Preparation – When He returns, it will be completely sudden and un-expected. Both the wise and foolish virgins will be sleeping, meaning we cannot know the day or the hour. Instead we are to be always ready, living our lives moment by moment.
- Timing – A cry is heard, or knowledge of His imminent return. We do not know the day or the hour of our deaths. There is no unfulfilled prophesy preventing the rapture of the church, or of our individual deaths, it could come at any time.
- Rejection – Many will be rejected because they were not ready. This passage clearly illustrates there are no second chances, no ability to talk or buy your way into heaven after death. The foolish virgins are utterly surprised at their rejection. They looked and acted like the bride of Christ but weren’t truly His.
- Relationship – (John 3:1-21) A born-again on-going relationship with Jesus is the key. The foolish virgins did not have oil in their lamps, they did not have an on-going relationship with Jesus.
We see common threads with all of the 10 virgins:
- They had all been invited to the banquet, all knew the gospel.
- All responded to the invitation in some way and were waiting on the groom.
- They went together to wait, they were all part of the church and were expectantly waiting.
- They all declared Jesus as Lord.
- All fell asleep while waiting.
The virgins looked the same and acted the same. However 5 were different, they had an inner change. Though their outward appearance was the same as the others, they had a relationship with Jesus that permeated their lives.
The 5 foolish virgins did not have a saving relationship with the Lord. They looked like Christians, they acted like Christians, and they thought they were Christians. We see the likely response in Matthew 7:
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ – Matthew 7
Through this vitally important parable Jesus left us a lesson. We must always be ready by having that intimate, direct relationship with Him. If we seek Him He will respond. The life we live is an outcome of that relationship, we do not practice lawlessness, we live our lives pleasing to Him, bringing glory to Him moment by moment.
New Testament parables:
|Lamp Under a Basket||5:14–16||4:21, 22||8:16, 17; 11:33–36|
|A Wise Man Builds on Rock and a Foolish Man Builds on Sand||7:24–27||6:47–49|
|Unshrunk (New) Cloth on an Old Garment||9:16||2:21||5:36|
|New Wine in Old Wineskins||9:17||2:22||5:37, 38|
|The Tares (Weeds)||13:24–30|
|The Mustard Seed||13:31, 32||4:30–32||13:18, 19|
|The Leaven||13:33||13:20, 21|
|The Hidden Treasure||13:44|
|The Pearl of Great Price||13:45, 46|
|The Lost Sheep||18:12–14||15:3–7|
|The Unforgiving Servant||18:23–35|
|The Workers in the Vineyard||20:1–16|
|The Two Sons||21:28–32|
|The Wicked Vinedressers||21:33–45||12:1–12||20:9–19|
|The Wedding Feast||22:2–14|
|The Fig Tree||24:32–44||13:28–32||21:29–33|
|The Wise and Foolish Virgins||25:1–13|
|The Growing Seed||4:26–29|
|The Absent Householder||13:33–37|
|The Creditor and Two Debtors||7:41–43|
|The Good Samaritan||10:30–37|
|A Friend in Need||11:5–13|
|The Rich Fool||12:16–21|
|The Watchful Servants||12:35–40|
|The Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant||12:42–48|
|The Barren Fig Tree||13:6–9|
|The Great Supper||14:16–24|
|Building a Tower and a King Making War||14:25–35|
|The Lost Coin||15:8–10|
|The Lost Son||15:11–32|
|The Unjust Steward||16:1–13|
|The Rich Man and Lazarus||16:19–31|
|The Persistent Widow||18:1–8|
|The Pharisee and the Tax Collector||18:9–14|