Harmony of the Gospels

Mount of Olives
(13) Olivet Discourse

Scriptures: Matthew 25:1-13   

Part 13.1: Parable of the Ten Virgins

Parable of the Ten Virgins

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.


The Parable of the Ten Virgins explains the place of Israel’s true converts during the Tribulation Period in relation to the church. These virgins are the attendants at the wedding, not multiple brides. The one bride of Christ is the church, John the Baptist is the best man ([1]Jn 3:29, friend of the Bridegroom) and the prepared virgins are the saved of the Tribulation Period. The number five in each group does not necessarily indicate that half of humanity will be saved but that there are two types of people. The lamps seem to refer to their lives which are either prepared or unprepared. The oil refers to the One who prepares them to give forth light and may rightly be illustrative of the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. The fact that they all slept while the bridegroom tarried implies a period of Jewish inactivity during the Church Age, while the Bride is gathered. Foolish means “stupid,” and is the designation for those who are carelessly unprepared. They had no oil at all, not an insufficient amount. The refusal of the five prepared virgins to share with those who were unprepared must not be taken as cruelty. If the oil represents personal possession of the Holy Spirit, He cannot be shared but must regenerate each person individually. Thus, the Lord responds, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” (vs. 12), which is indicative of Matthew 7:23--“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”. False profession will save no one and only brings the final judgment of Christ upon the unsaved. Note, this parable is found only in Matthew.


1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

The first word, then, referring back to chapter 24, clearly places this parable in the time preceding and during the King’s return to earth. Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven at that time to ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.

Some of Christ’s parables show us what it is like now in the present church age. This parable tells us what it will be like, when our Lord returns to establish His earthly kingdom. Christ’s attitude and actions, towards the ready and the unready on this great day, may be illustrated by this parable. Those who profess to be Christians at this time are likened to these ten virgins.

Here, our Lord uses a marriage ceremony for His illustration. It was a [TL1]custom among the Jews on the occasion of a wedding that the bridegroom accompanied by his friends came to the house of the bride, late in the night.  She expected him, and when she saw him, she would tell her bride-maids to go out with lamps in their hands, to light the path to the house, where there was a joyful celebration for the couple uniting in marriage. And some think that on these occasions they usually had ten virgins; for the Jews never held a synagogue service, circumcised, kept the Passover, or contracted marriage, unless at least ten persons were always present. For example: Boaz, when he married Ruth, had ten witnesses, Ruth 4:2.

Now, in this parable:
1. The Bridegroom is our Lord Jesus Christ. The parable shows His great love for His spouse the church. Believers are now betrothed to Christ ([2]Hos. 2:19); but the formalizing of the marriage is reserved for the great day, when the bride, the Lamb’s wife, will have made herself completely ready, [3]Rev. 19:7, 9.
2. The virgins are those who profess Christianity, members of the church; but here they are called [TL2]bridesmaids. All who follow the Lamb are said to be virgins ([4]Rev. 14:4); this denotes their beauty and purity; they are to be presented as chaste virgins to Christ, [5]2 Co. 11:2. The bridegroom is a king; and these ten virgins are maids of honor.
3. The assignment of these virgins is to meet the bridegroom. They are to wait on the bridegroom when he appears, and in the mean time to wait for Him. This is the nature of Christianity. As Christians, we acknowledge ourselves to be, (1.) Servants of Christ who honor Him and praise Him, especially when he will come with his saints to be glorified. We must follow him as loyal servants do their masters, [6]Jn. 12:26. We are to honor and exalt the name of Jesus. (2.) Expecting our Lords Second Coming. As Christians, we profess, not only to believe and look for Him, but to love and long for, the appearing of Christ, and to act in a Christlike manner with regard to it.
4. Their chief concern is to have [TL3]lights in their hands, when they meet the bridegroom to honor and serve Him. Note, Christians are children of light. The gospel is light, and those who receive it must not only be enlightened by it themselves, but must shine as lights, [7]Phil. 2:15, 16.

2 “Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

 The first thing we are told about these ten virgins concerns their character. Their character was that five were wise, and five foolish. Now, wisdom overcomes foolishness like light overcomes darkness. Note, those who claim to know Christ may have characters which are vastly different in the eyes of God. Christians are the wise virgins, and hypocrites the foolish ones. In another parable they are represented by wise and foolish builders. Note, without a doubt, both wisdom and foolishness is readily apparent in the way individuals regard their souls. True religion is true wisdom, and sin is foolishness, but especially the sin of hypocrisy, since the greatest fools, are wise in their own mind. The worst of sinners, believe they are good men. Our Lord would teach us to hope for the best concerning those that say they are religious, and to think of them as being prone to charitable acts. When judging ourselves, we ought to remember that the gate is strait, and few find it, however, in judging others, we ought to remember that the Captain of our salvation brings many sons to glory.

3 “Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,

Here we are told why five of the virgins are said to be fools. It is because they took their lamps, but didn‘t bring any extra [TL4]oil with them. They had just enough oil to make their lamps burn for the present. If they intended to meet the bridegroom they should have brought an extra bottle of oil with them just in case the bridegroom stopped along the way to celebrate with his friends. In addition to being foolish:
1. They have no principles. They have a lamp of profession in their hands, but not in their hearts.  They lack the knowledge and convictions which are necessary to carry them through the trials they will face. They act under the influence of external enticements, but are void of spiritual life.
2. They are not prepared for what is to come. They took lamps with only enough oil for the present, but had nothing when their lamps went dry. This careless attitude is the ruin of many who falsely profess Christ. They are only concerned with commending themselves to their neighbors, not to approve themselves to Christ, whom they must one day appear before. They do not provide for the hereafter, as the ant does, nor lay up for the time to come, [8]1 Tim. 6:19.

4 “but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

Here, we are told why five of the virgins were called wise. It was not because they had oil in their lamps, but they brought extra oil with them; they were prepared to meet their lord. They had something good within, which is faith in Jesus Christ, and His Spirit helped them to be faithful and to do right. Now, concerning the heart:
1. The heart is a vessel, and we are wise if we have it furnished with Christ and His good things (The Word and Holy Spirit); for out of it comes wisdom and goodness.
2. Grace is the oil which we must have in this vessel; in the tabernacle there was a constant supply of oil for the light, Ex. 35:14. Our light must shine before men in good works, but this cannot be, or cannot be for very long, unless there is faith in the heart; faith in Christ, and love for God and our brethren. And everything we do for God requires that we keep an eye to what is before us. The five virgins that took oil in their vessels in addition to what was in their lamps did it upon the supposition that perhaps the bridegroom might dawdle along the way. Note, in looking forward it is good to prepare for the worst, to lay in for a long siege. But remember that this oil which keeps the lamps burning comes to the wick from Jesus Christ, the great and good God. Of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

When Jesus Christ returns, it will be a time of separation: the wise will be separated from the foolish, the faithful servants from the unfaithful, the blessed (sheep) from the cursed (goats). The wise virgins had oil and were prepared to meet the Bridegroom. Many people profess to be Christians but do not have the Holy Spirit ([9]Rom. 8:9) and are not born again. They may mingle with the saved, but they are not really one of them; and they will not enter into the marriage feast.

His coming also means evaluation. As we wait for the Lord to return, we must invest our lives and earn dividends for His glory. Christ gives us opportunities that match our abilities, and the one-talent servant is just as important as the five-talent servant. The key is faithfulness ([10]1 C. 4:2), for God measures us against ourselves and not against the other servants. Are you afraid to step out by faith and take some risks for God?

When Christ returns, it will be a time of commendation. We will be surprised to learn about ministries we performed that we thought were insignificant but that He will reward. This parable is not teaching salvation by good works. Christ’s sheep know that they are sheep ([11]John 10:14), but they do not always realize what their service means to Christ. We will experience some surprises in that day!

5 “But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

   The bridegroom was delayed, that is, he did not come as soon as they expected. Was it by choice or due to the revelry of those who accompanied him; we are not told. Many in the apostles’ times imagined that the day of the Lord was at hand, but it is not so. To us it may seem that Christ keeps putting off His return, but that is really not the case--“For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry” (Hab. 2:3).  Jesus will come again at the time appointed by God, and He will not be a moment too late or too early. There is good reason for the Bridegroom’s tarrying; there are many of his family and friends who want to give him advice. Note, the elect must all be called in, God’s patience must be displayed, and the saints’ patience tried; but although Christ tarries past our time, he will not tarry past the due time.

While he tarried, those that waited for him, grew careless, and forgot what they were there for. They all slumbered and slept; as if they had given up looking for him; for when the Son of man cometh, he will not find faith, Lu. 18:8. [TL5]The wise virgins slumbered, and the foolish slept; so some interpret it; however, they were both wrong. The wise virgins kept their lamps burning, but did not keep themselves awake. Note, Too many good Christians, that have been so for a long time, grow careless in their preparations for Christ’s second coming. They slumbered, and then they slept. Note, One degree of carelessness makes way for another. Those that allow themselves to slumber, will hardly keep themselves from sleeping; therefore avoid the beginning of spiritual decay; watch for the first symptoms of the disease, and seek a cure from God. The ancient people generally believed that the virgins’ slumbering and sleeping referred to their dying; they all died, wise and foolish, before judgment-day.

The five wise virgins represent true Disciples of Christ during the Tribulation. The lamps express a profession of faith, and oil is generally acknowledged to be a type of the Holy Spirit. The foolish virgins represent those who hope for Christ to return, but have never been converted, and therefore do not have the Holy Spirit. The bridegroom is Christ, the King; His delay symbolizes the period between His two Advents. The fact that all ten virgins slept shows that outwardly there was not much difference between them.

6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’

It was a surprise when the alarm was finally sounded at midnight; "Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!" It will also be a surprise when Christ returns, but we are confident that He will come at last. Note:
1.) Although Christ may yet tarry for a long time, he will come at last. He seems slow, but He is sure.  Prior to His first coming, many in Israel had waited and watched for a long time; yet in the fullness of time He came. Now, His second coming has been put off for 2,000 years, but it is not forgotten by His friends.  His friends will find, to their comfort, that He will appear at an appointed time, but for his enemies His coming will be very uncomfortable, for he will reckon with them in judgment.  We do not know when Christ will return, but we do know that it will occur at a time already fixed by God the Father. 
2.)  Christ’s return will occur at our midnight, when we are resting and are least likely to be looking for Him.  His coming will be a relief and comfort for His people, and a time of sorrow and great fear for his enemies.  It was at midnight that the first born of Egypt were destroyed and Israel was delivered.  Death often comes to us when we least expect it.  Our soul may be required even tonight, [12]Luke 12:20.  Christ will come on the day that has been fixed in time by the father, to show His sovereignty; however, He will not let us know when, so that we are always anticipating His coming. 
[3.] When Christ comes, we must go forth to meet him. When he comes to us at death, we must go forth out of the body, and out of the world, to meet him in paradise. "Go ye forth to meet him," is a call made to those who are always prepared.
[4.] The notice given of Christ’s approach, and the call to meet him, will be heard by everyone. His first coming was not witnessed by anyone; He was in the world, and the world knew him not. But his second coming will be seen by the world; every eye shall see him. There will be a cry from heaven, for he shall descend with a shout, Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment; and a cry from the earth too, a cry to rocks and mountains, Rev. 6:16.

7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.

At midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ The virgins responded by getting up and trimming their lamps, because they all wanted to appear ready. The foolish ones, who were lacking oil, asked the others for some, but they refused, therefore the foolish ones were sent to buy oil. The wise ones’ refusal seems selfish, but in the spiritual realm, no one can give out the Spirit to another.

“Trimmed their lamps,” means that they cleaned the wicks, lighted them, and adjusted the flames.

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.’

This implies (1.) How apprehensive some hypocrites become, when God opens their eyes to see their foolishness, and the fate that awaits them. Or, it could imply (2.) The real misery of their circumstances on the other side is death, and when they must stand before the Great Judge. At that time, their false profession of religion will not gain them a thing. Now, see what happens to these five bridesmaids who suddenly find themselves unprepared to meet the groom.

First, their lamps have [TL6]gone out. The lamps of hypocrites often go out in this life; when they who have begun in the spirit, end in the flesh, and the hypocrisy breaks out in an open apostasy, 2 Pt. 2:20[13]. The profession withers, and the credit they received because of it is lost; the hopes fail, and therefore, the comfort from them is gone; how often is the candle of the wicked put out in this way? Job 21:17. Yet many a hypocrite continues to take credit for and comfort in his profession, such as it is, to the last; but what good is it when God takes away his soul? He shall lie down in sorrow, Isa. 50:11. The things gained from a hypocritical profession will not follow a man to judgment, ch. 7:22, 23[14].

Secondly, they wanted oil to supply them when they were going out. Note, those that stop short of true grace, will certainly come to want it, at one time or another. An external profession may carry a man far, but it will not carry him through; it may give some light to him in this world, but the dampness of the valley of the shadow of death will put it out.

Thirdly, they would gladly be indebted to the wise virgins for a supply of oil from out of their vessels. Note, the day is coming, when carnal hypocrites will wish they were in the same condition as true Christians. Those who now hate the strictness of religion, will, at death and judgment, wish for the solid comforts it gives. The day is coming when those who now look with contempt upon humble penitent saints, would gladly change places with them, and would want them as their best friends and benefactors. Give us of your oil—the request came too late. God would have given them oil, if they had asked in time; but there is no buying when the market is closed.

Fourthly, they were denied a share in their companions’ oil. It is a sad foreshadowing of a rejection by God, when they were in this way rejected by good people. The wise virgins would rather give a reason without a positive refusal, than (as many do) give a positive refusal without a reason. They were willing to help their neighbors in distress; but, we must not, we cannot, we dare not, do it, because, if we do, there be not enough for us and you; charity begins at home; but go, and buy oil for yourselves.
1. Those that desire to be saved must have the grace that God gives. Although we have benefited from our communion with other saints, and the faith and prayers of others, our own sanctification is indispensably necessary to our own salvation. The just shall live by his faith. Every man shall give account of himself, and therefore let every man prove his own work; for he cannot get another to stand-in for him on that day.
2. Those that have the most grace have none to spare; all we have is only enough for ourselves when we appear before God for judgment. Even the best saints need to borrow from Christ, but they will never have enough to lend to any of their neighbors. The wisdom of the wise virgins is apparent; since they were able to understand that they had only enough oil for themselves, and none for others. But observe, these wise virgins do not scold the foolish ones for their negligence or boast of their own good preparation. But instead, they give them the best advice they could give,” go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.” Note, those that are careless with their souls, are to be pitied, and not insulted; for who was it that made you different? When ministers give the gospel to those who have ignored God and their souls their whole life, but are presently under conviction for their past sins, they need to tell them to repent and turn to God. It is never too late for true repentance; however, because late repentance is seldom true, they do as these wise virgins did to the foolish. They can tell them what they need to do, if it is not too late; if the door has not been shut to them. But if the door has shut before they can repent there is unspeakable terror awaiting them. It is good advice now, if there is still time, to go to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. Note, those who desire grace, must have recourse to, and attend upon, the means of grace. [TL7]See Isa. 55:1[15].

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.

   Some translations say that he came with his bride. This fits the prophetic picture perfectly. The Lord Jesus will return from the wedding with His bride, the church (1 Thess. 3:13[16]). (The wedding takes place in heaven ([TL8]Eph. 5:27[17]) after the Rapture.) The faithful remnant of Tribulation saints will go in with Him to the marriage feast. The marriage feast is a fitting designation of the joy and blessing of Christ’s earthly kingdom. The wise virgins went in with him to the wedding (or wedding feast); and the door was closed. It was too late for anyone else to get into the kingdom. When the other virgins came seeking admittance, the bridegroom denied knowing them—a clear proof that they had never been born again.

The coming of the bridegroom and the difference in the character of the wise and foolish virgins is the issue here. This is what happened:
(1.) And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came.  When we put off doing something for God until the last, it is a thousand to one, that we will not have time to do it.  It is not a good idea to wait until you are on your death bed to repent and ask for Jesus to save you.  All those who choose to wait will find themselves in awful confusion.  They will hardly know where to begin at, or what to do first, because death may come in a hurry, and then they must face the judgment.  It's too late then to repent and seek God's grace; the poor sinner will forever remain a sinner.  This is due to having to buy oil when we should be burning it, and needing grace when we should be using it.

The bridegroom came. Our Lord Jesus will come to his people, on the great day of His Second Coming, as a Bridegroom; attended by pomp and wearing rich attire and his friends will be with Him. Now that He is no longer with us we eagerly await Him. But when He does come, there will be an everlasting feast. Then the Bridegroom will take us home as His bride, to be where he is (Jn. 17:24), and He will rejoice over his bride, Isa. 62:5[18].
(2.) And those who were ready went in with him to the wedding. There are three things we need to make a note of:
First, All who go into the marriage with Christ will be eternally glorified.  They will be in His presence forever and have the most intimate fellowship and communion with Him, in a state of eternal rest, joy, and plenty. 
Secondly, Only those who are made ready for heaven here will go to heaven.
Thirdly, The suddenness of death and of Christ’s coming to us will not affect our happiness, if we have been prepared by His grace.
(3.) The door was shut. As usual, when all the guests have arrived that have been invited, the door was shut:
First, To secure those that are within. Now that they have been made pillars in the house of our God, they may go no more out, Rev. 3:12. Adam was put into paradise, but the door was left open and so he went out again; but when glorified saints are put into the heavenly paradise, they are shut in.
Secondly, To exclude those that were out. The state of saints and sinners will then be unalterably fixed, and those that are shut out, will be shut out for ever. Now the gate is strait, yet it is open; but then it will be shut and bolted, and a great gulf fixed. This is like the shutting of the door to the ark when Noah was inside and made safe; but all the rest were finally abandoned.

11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’

The foolish virgins came when it was too late. There are many that will seek admission into heaven when it is too late. It is both interesting and tragic that those who reject Christ in this life will seek His forgiveness in the next, but they will not be saved by fervent and persistent prayer then. The vein confidence of hypocrites will not carry them very far. They will go to heavens-gate, and demand entrance; however, they are shut out and thrust down to hell.

12 “But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

They were rejected, as Esau was. Those will be terrible words to hear, “I do not know you.” Note; we all want to seek the Lord while He may be found; for there is a time coming when he will not be found. The time was, when our request, “Lord, Lord, forgive my sins and save my soul” would open heaven to us, by virtue of that promise, “Knock, and it shall be opened to you;” but now it is too late. The sentence is solemnly announced, and all that lies ahead is The Lake of Fire.

13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

There are practical conclusions that can be drawn from this parable--Watch therefore. We had this warning before (ch. 24:42[19]), and here it is repeated as a caution. Notice the two conclusions that can be drawn from this parable:
1. Our great duty is to watch, and live the best lives we can to honor God. We must be awake, and be wakeful.
2. There is a good reason for our watching: The time of our Lord’s coming is very uncertain; we know neither the day nor the hour. Therefore every day and every hour we must be ready, and not quit our watching any day in the year, or any hour in the day. Be thou in the fear of the Lord every day and all the day long. Believers should live as if the Lord might come at any moment--our lamps trimmed and filled with oil?


Scripture References

1 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. (John 3:29; KJV).
2 “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, In loving-kindness and mercy; (Hos 2.19)
3 “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” ...Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” (Rev 19.7, 9)
4 These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. (Rev 14.4)
5 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ (2 C0 11.2)
6 “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” The reward for following Christ is honor with the Father. (Jn 12.26)
7 That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. (Phil. 2:15, 16).
8 “Storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” The proper attitude toward riches and the use of money lays up treasure for the future. The age-old expression, “You can’t take it with you,” is still true. But the believer can send it on ahead of him in the form of rewards. To do this is what it means to “lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Tim. 6:19)
9 “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” The Holy Spirit of God is the decisive factor in salvation. If a man does not have the Spirit, he does not have Christ, and he is none of his. Paul clearly teaches that no one can receive Christ’s atonement for salvation unless the Spirit of God dwells within him. It is therefore irrational to say that there are Christians who have not fully received the blessing of the Spirit of God. (Rom. 8:9)
10 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. (1 C. 4:2)
11 “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. (John 10:14)
12 “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (Luke 12:20)
13For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. (2 Pt. 2:20)
14 “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?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Mat 7.22, 23)
15 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. (Isa 55.1)
16 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. (1 Thess. 3:13).
17that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
18For as a young man marries a virgin, So shall your sons marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you. (Isa 62.5)
19“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. (Mat 24.42)



[TL1] To better understand the customs of Israel during the New Testament period, we must refer to the Peshitta, which is a Syriac version of the Bible.  Although it is not a text that I would recommend, it does shed light on some of the customs of the day.  The Peshitta translation of the verse before us indicates that the virgins went forth to meet the bridegroom and the bride, which means that the bridegroom is coming from the marriage to the marriage supper.  It is my understanding that, although the marriage of Christ and the church takes place in heaven, the marriage supper takes place on this earth.  A passage in the gospel of Luke substantiates this.  As our lord is giving warnings and parables, He says, “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately” (Luke 12:35–36).  You see, the wedding has taken place, and the bride is with Him. Obviously, if he is coming from the wedding, the bride is with him; no man ever went on a honeymoon by himself--if he did, it wasn’t a honeymoon!

So here in the parable of the 10 virgins, Christ, pictured as the bridegroom, is bringing the bride with Him, and the believers on earth are looking for Him to come.  While the Great Tribulation has been going on upon the earth, Christ has been yonder in heaven with His bride, the church.  Then at the conclusion of the seven years of Tribulation, He comes back to earth with the church.

[TL2]The parable gives no intimation that the virgins expect to marry the bridegroom. This is not a polygamous wedding.  Rather, at the end of the Tribulation, Christ will be returning to earth (his domain) after taking to himself the church as his bride in heaven.

[TL3] Believers are described as “they that look for Him” (Hebrews 9:28), and “love His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).

[TL4] Oil is symbolic of the Spirit of God.  In that day I think there will be phonies as their were at His first coming.  Jesus called them hypocrites.  They will have lamps but no oil.

[TL5] Notice that both the wise and the foolish virgins slept.  The difference in them was that some had the Holy Spirit (represented by the oil) and some did not-–because they were not genuine believers.
The word “slumbered” signifies, simply, “nodded,” or, “became drowsy”; while the world “slept” is the usual word for lying down to sleep, denoting two stages of spiritual declension - -first, that half-involuntary lethargy or drowsiness which is apt to steal over one who falls into inactivity; and then a conscious, deliberate ,yielding to it, after a little vain resistance.  Such was the state of the wise and foolish virgins, even till the cry of the Bridegroom’s approach awoke them.

[TL6] The foolish virgins, who had provided no oil, saw their dry wicks flicker for a few moments and then die.

[TL7] The free gift of God’s righteousness that is made available through the salvation He alone provides is emphasized in the opening verse, where everyone that thirsteth (referring to spiritual need) is invited to come ye to the waters. The invitation is open to all who are willing to come, and they may come and buy with no money. The imagery is that of a person who is given the opportunity to go to the marketplace to purchase whatever he would desire without money. Therefore, the prophet urges them to not spend money (representative of self effort) for that which is not bread (spiritually satisfying). The text certainly indicates that it is a waste of one’s time and effort to seek that which is ultimately not satisfying to his soul.

[TL8] That He might present her to Himself a glorious church He Himself as loving, saving, and sanctifying Lord. The Bridegroom presents His bride to Himself. It will then be a glorious church arrayed in glory, with nothing to mar her beauty. Not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. In perfect purity. Spots are from without, wrinkles from within. “The world about the church causes the stains, the flesh still in her causes the wrinkles”. But that it should be holy. Morally pure and wholly consecrated. Without blemish. Immaculate, just like the heavenly Bridegroom.


Do you have any questions or comments?

 A group of businessmen were marveling at an unusual zoo exhibition. In the same cage were a monkey and a lion. Seeing some possible lessons that might be translated to the business world, one supervisor asked, “How do they get along?” The zookeeper said, “Usually, okay.” Sometimes they have a disagreement, though, and we have to get a new monkey.”

Adapted from Reader’s Digest, April 1994, p. 84

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