The Parable of the Ten Virgins

 Matthew 25:1-13 “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with 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. 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. 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. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
What is the Oil?
OT – Exodus 30:31 “And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations.”
Family Bible Notes: John 15:5 “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
Scofield Bible Notes
Anointing oil, type of the Holy Spirit
for service Ac 1:8.
Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Through the Bible Day by Day (F. B. Meyer)
Ex 30:22-38 The anointing oil was extremely rich and costly. Pure myrrh; sweet cinnamon, imported probably from Sumatra or China; sweet calamus, the product of India or Mesopotamia; cassia, from Java, were the principal ingredients. Such a combination must have produced a delightful fragrance! The use of this oil was restricted to the holy service of the Tabernacle, and reminds us of “the unction of the Holy One“-i.e., the anointing by the Holy Spirit. See Le 8:10-12 and 1Jo 2:20.
Christ is the Anointed, and He sheds the oil of joy on our heads, as one by one we yield ourselves to His service. See Ac 2:33. The oil was not to be poured on “the flesh of man.” We must deny the flesh, with its affections and lusts, that we may be filled with the Spirit. Calvary before Pentecost!
The incense also was carefully prepared, and thus we are taught that prayers should not be uttered rashly or lightly; but with reverence, deliberation and forethought.
NT – Matthew 25:4 “But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”
1 John 2:20 “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.”
Biblical Illustrator
Matthew 25:1
Vers. 1-13. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins. –

I. WE HAVE HERE TWO CHARACTERS CONTRASTED. “Five were wise and five were foolish.” That we may define the difference between them, it is needful that we have a clear conception of the things in which they were alike.
1. They all had some knowledge of, and regard for, the bridegroom, and desired to honour him by going forth to meet him as he led home his bride.
2. They all had lamps which at the moment were burning.
3. That while the bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept. Not until his coming was announced did the difference between them develop itself. In all outward things the wise and foolish virgins were alike; the difference between them was internal. The going out of the lamp is commonly understood to mean the making of a profession, while the absence of the reserve store of oil is supposed to signify the want of sincerity in that profession.
This seems to unduly narrow the scope of the parable. For the foolish virgins had a real regard for the bridegroom; they had gone far to meet him, and were disappointed at their exclusion. There was genuineness about them as far as they went; only they did not go far enough. Hence I cannot restrict this part of the story to deliberate hypocrites. I regard the foolish virgins as those who have had some feelings of attachment to Christ, and certain impulses Christward to which they yielded at the time; but they were not constant.
Their emotion was a real thing, and when they were acting upon it you could not call them hypocrites; but it was not the right thing. They were animated by impulse, not principle. Their religion did not go down to the lowest depths of their nature; it was a thing on the surface. Their seed fell “upon rocky ground where it had not much earth,” etc. They commenced to build a tower, but without counting the cost (Lu 14:28,32).
A man has only as much religion as he can command in the hour of trial. The minor surprises of life are to prepare us for the last emergency.
III. THAT CHARACTER IS A PERSONAL THING, and cannot be given by one man to another, but MUST BE ACQUIRED AND MANIFESTED BY EACH ONE FOR HIMSELF. Character is not transferable. I cannot give you my courage to fortify you for duty. How perilous to leave preparation for these testing times till they have come upon us. Every time we perform duty the soul is made stronger. Here the store of oil is obtained. “Add to your faith virtue” (1Pe 1:5,7).
Character revealed by crisis: – The great truth here taught, therefore, is that character is revealed by emergency. It is in moments of surprise that a man’s true self comes out to view. He is the ablest general who can in an instant find some resource when an ambushed foe starts up before him.
He is the most skilful mariner, who, in sudden extremity, can rise to the occasion, and bring his vessel and his crew safely into port. Nothing will more correctly reveal what is in a man, than the coming upon him of some crushing and unlooked-for crisis. Let it be temporal ruin by the failure of all his calculations, or the disappointment of all his hopes; let it be the entrance of the death-angel into his home, and the removal from it of his nearest and dearest earthly friend; let it be his own prostration by some serious illness which puts him face to face with his dissolution: and forthwith the extent of his resources is unfolded, and it is at once discovered both by others and by himself, whether he is animated by unfailing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and sustained by the grace of the Holy Spirit, or whether he has been deceiving himself, and all the while relying on some other support. (W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
Reserve power the outcome of daily discipline: – We all know how true that is in common life. When, in times of danger, some great leader comes suddenly to the front, and shows that he has the very qualities which the occasion needs, it will always be found that he has been preparing himself – unconsciously, perhaps, but really – for years, by the careful discipline of daily labour, for the work which is now so successfully performed by him.
While others were asleep, he was at his toil: and by the study of many earnest months, perhaps also by the labour of many midnight hours, he has been laying up that reserve supply, on which at the moment of necessity he has been able to draw. Thus, though the revelation of his ability may have been sudden, the growth of it has been gradual; and because in times of quiet and safety he kept up the discipline of work, the crisis which swept others into oblivion only floated him into fame. (W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
Lost opportunities – You know the story of the ancient sibyl who came to King Tarquin offering for sale nine books which she declared would be of great value to him in the government of Rome. She asked what seemed an exorbitant price, and he would not buy them. On that she retired, and burned three of the books: then she came back, and asked the same sum for the remaining six. He again refused; and she retired, and burned three more, only to come back and ask the same price for the remaining three.
Then, by the advice of his councillors, he secured them on her own terms. Now, beneath that old fable there is an important truth; for, the longer we refuse God’s overtures, the less these overtures contain, while the demand upon us is still the same for the remainder. How many more of these books of privilege are you going to suffer to be destroyed? And what a motive there is in all this for immediate acceptance of God’s offer of mercy! (W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

1. That the visible Church is composed of persons of opposite states and conditions.
2. That it is not always easy to distinguish the truly pious from those who are destitute of the root of the matter. All had lamps. Form one thing, inward life another.
3. That one special feature by which all who possess the wisdom which cometh from above are distinguished, is the provision they make, not only for their more immediate wants, but also for future contingencies.
“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.”
1. A mournful statement – “My Lord delayeth his coming.”
2. An arousing cry – “Behold, the bridegroom cometh.”
3. A solemn summons – “Go ye out to meet him.”
1. A hurried preparation – “Then all those virgins arose,” etc.
2. A sad discovery – “Our lamps are gone out.”
3. A happy entrance – “Went in with him,” etc.
4. An unavailing appeal. (Expository Outlines.)

I. The soul NEEDS LIGHT. The fact that Christ died to save sinners is the only torch that can scatter the soul’s gloom.
II. The soul needs a MOVEABLE light. These torches are in motion. The gospel can be taken anywhere.
IV. Some people apply for the light WHEN IT IS TOO LATE. (Dr. Talmage.)
The gospel the only true soul torch: – Now there are some people who get one thing out of this parable, and there are others who get another thing; but I get this: the soul needs light. If you see the bridegroom’s party coming down the hill, what do you find? Torches.
If you see the bridal party coming out of the door, what do you see? Torches. What does the soul in its midnight of sin and suffering need? Torches. Confucius tried to strike a light for China, and he did kindle it; but it went out and left her uncounted millions to make the centuries dismal with their wailing.
Zeno, Cleanthes, Aristotle, each struck a light and passed it along from hand to hand, but it went out; and I have to tell you that the universities of the earth, while they have in their chemical laboratories made the blue light, and the green light, and the yellow light, they have never yet been able to make the white light of pardon and peace and hope for a lost world.
Peace! where is it? Diving bells have gone two hundred feet down, and not found it in the depths of the sea. Astronomers’ telescopes have swept across the heavens and not found it in the air. From a consuming brand of Calvary I pick up the only light for a lost world.
The fact that Christ died to save sinners is the flambeau which, flung on the darkness of your soul, will scatter its gloom as by a daybreak. A good many years ago in Washington there were two Congressioners who met once every week to talk about the immortality of the soul; but they despised the Bible. They found no comfort. Their time expired, and they went home. Years passed along. They both visited Washington, and at the same time, and happened to meet at the President’s levee.
They saw each other at the great distance across the room. They pressed their way through the crowd until they came to each other, and, after years of absence, the first thing that one said to the other was: “John, any light?” “No light.” Then this one accosted the other, and said: “Henry, any light? …. No light.” They said nothing more; they parted to meet at the judgment: Oh, are there any who have swung off from this grand old gospel, thinking to find rest for their soul? Have you found comfort, peace, joy, heaven? From a score of souls there comes up to me the cry to-night: “No light! no light!” (Dr. Talmage.)
The gospel a moveable light: – But I learn, also, from this subject, that the soul needs a moveable light. These torches coming out of the door are in motion. These torches of the bridegroom’s party on the hill are in motion, hoisted, lowered, glancing in and out among the leaves, all moveable. The soul needs a moveable light, and in the gospel of Christ we have it.
That gospel is not a lamp-post standing on one street. It is not a chandelier hung in one room. It is not a lighthouse set at one harbour. It is a flambeau – a moveable light – something to be carried. And we need to take it into our homes, and we need to take it into our stores and shops, and into our schools, and into our churches, and in the cellars where the poor freeze, and in the garret where the fevered languish, and into the hospital where the wounded die, and far out in the wilderness where the emigrant struggles. Do you know that the lights of this world are stationery, and that soon you and I will have to start on a road where all these lights will fail us? (Dr. Talmage.)
“Oh,” says some one in this house: “I had a very good father and very good mother; if there ever was a good woman, she was; and somehow I hope through their piety to get into heaven.” Had they any surplus of piety? None. Had they any goodness to spare? None.
You cannot borrow oil out of their lamps. There never was a better man than Jonathan Edwards, but he had no grace to spare for his son Pierrepont, who made an awful shipwreck. President Burr was a holy and consecrated man, but he had no grace to spare for Aaron Burr, whose life was a horrid debauch. And, I suppose, if at the last, all the redeemed of heaven were gathered in a circle, and some poor soul should go round and say: “Have you olive oil to spare? give me some for my lamp?” I suppose they would all answer: “Not so, lest there be not enough for us and for you.” “If thou be wise, thou shall be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shall bear it.” Every man for himself, every woman for herself. (Dr. Talmage.)
Too late: – I suppose every hour of the day and night there are souls going into eternity unprepared. Oh, what excitement it must be about the death-bed, crying out for a lamp, and for the oil, and for the light; throwing; hands out, throwing them up, throwing them around, until the nurse asks, “What do you want, water?” He says, shaking his head: “No.” “Bathing of the temples?” He shakes his head: “No.” What does he want? Oh, he cannot get his light burning. He must start; he is started; he comes up to the gate of heaven; he knocks; he cries: “Let me in!”
He is not admitted. He says: “I want to see the bridegroom.” The voices within say: “You can’t see the bridegroom; he is busy with the guests now.” Says the man: “I must come in; my children are in there. I must come in.” A voice within says: “You refused the grace that would have brought you where they are.” “But,” says the man, “I must come in; all my friends and kindred are in. Hark! now! hear the sound of their voices, and the bounding of their feet. Let me in.” And a voice from within says: “You are too late!”
It says to one man: “You are twenty years too late;” to another, “you are over five years too late;” to another, “you are a month too late;” to another, “you are a minute too late; ” and the mob of destroyed ones outside the door take up the chorus, and cry: “Too late!” And the hot wind of the desert sighs: “Too late!” and the bell in the tower of eternal midnight tolls and tolls: “Too late! too late!”
And the torches of the silly virgins begin to flicker and hiss in the storm, and one by one they go out, until in the suffocating darkness they cry: “Our lamps have gone out!” And they go wandering through eternity, ages after ages, feeling out for the light, for comfort, for peace, for hope, but finding none, and crying: “Our lamps have gone out!” and then, turning in another direction, and wandering on, age after age, age after age, feeling for hope, and comfort, and light, and Heaven, but finding none, and crying: “Our lamps have gone out!” (Dr. Talmage.)

The gifts of grace are chiefly to be exercised in order to an actual preparation for the coming of Christ by death and judgment:Very miserable is the state of such as these who have grace to get when Christ cometh.
1. All the profession of these virgins is lost.
2. All opportunities and means of grace are now lost, never to be enjoyed more.
3. The door of hope is shut against them.
4. The door of grace is shut.
5. They have now lost their communion with the wise virgins, who are safe within the door.
6. These virgins have now lost their veils. They are discovered to themselves, the king, to the world.
7. These who were in the midnight’s sleep, are now in their midnight’s darkness.
8. All who profess to be the bridesmen must take heed of resting in aught that is common to them with the foolish virgins. What gifts of grace are chiefly to be in exercise in order to an actual preparation for the coming of Christ by death and judgment?
(1) There is always a general and habitual preparedness to meet Christ in hearts that are truly godly, but not always a particular, actual fitness.
(2) That though a state of grace is here supposed, seeing grace cannot be exercised where it is not; yet there may be need to have it cleared.
(3) Maintain your faith in frequent exercise, and make no less conscience of acting daily faith than you do of daily prayer.
(4) This faith doth necessarily work by love.
(5) Keep even accounts with God, and still be perfecting that repentance which is the work of every day; and let there be no old reckonings between God and you.
(6) Be much in the exercise of goodness, mercy, and works of liberality towards Christ in His needy members, according to your opportunity and power.
(7) Exercise diligence and faithfulness in your particular calling. (W. Hook.)
The folly and danger of resting satisfied with the outward form of godliness: –
I. That true religion consists of a lively principle of grace in the heart. Principle and practice are to work together in religion.
II. That many professed Christians content themselves with the mere outward forms of religion. This danger arises from the natural blindness of the understanding; the natural pride of the heart exposes us to it.
III. That many become conscious of this error and seek to remedy it when it is too late

1. One part of this preparation consists in previous intimacy with the heavenly Bridegroom.
2. Some congeniality of spirit between your souls and the mind of Jesus Christ.
3. A longing desire for His approach.
4. A diligent discharge of all Christ’s commands.

1. Out of regard to tranquillity at the time of His coming.
2. Out of respect of gratitude; how much has He done for us.
3. On account of the felicity of being received by Him into the feast.
4. Out of respect to the misery of those not found ready. (E. Hull.)
[Source: SwordSearcher 8]
[Ednote: If you find yourself in the wrong category there is still time to fix it.
1. The Rapture comes like a thief in the night and may not happen when expected. If the peace agreement is not accepted by the Palestinian leader Abbas, they will have to keep working on it and the prophecies that are to occur before the agreement could be delayed.
2. Jesus warned us in Matthew 7:14 “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” The Apostle Paul said that we are running a race in 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.”
3. There will be three and a half years between the peace agreement and the mandatory Mark of the Beast. If we take the implant we are condemned forever. The alternative will be death. God promised ‘Tribulation Saints’, another category of believers who will be resurrected to be guests at the wedding in heaven.]
Shalom editor: Rita Williams – KJV Bible

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