Great Teaching on the Parable of the Ten Virgins

A Scriptural & Chronological Exposition of the
 Olivet Discourse…..Part III
                                                                                                                                        By Pastor F. M. Riley
                                                                                                                 July 24, 2013

     “STUDY to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth,” 2 Timothy 2:15.


     Parts I and II will be sent to any reader upon request.   Our postal mailing address and email address is at the end of this study.  

     In Part I of this study Matthew 24:1-31 in the Olivet Discourse given by our Lord was examined verse by verse and sometimes word by word.   In Part II, Matthew 24:32-51, the beginning of the Lord’s commentary on the first 31 verses, was examined in detail.  Now we are ready to carefully study Part III, set forth in Matthew 25:1-46.    May our gracious Lord bless us all as we seek to faithfully study and expound His wonderful Word.   Join us for this concluding article in this series on the Olivet Discourse…….

     Matthew 25 is a continuation of the Olivet Discourse, this chapter only being given in Matthew’s account of the Discourse.   Remember that when the books of the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit, there were no chapter and verse divisions.  Such divisions were only placed in God’s Word some 400 years ago in order to make the Bible easier for men to read and reference.  Again, I urge our readers to carefully study and compare all three accounts of the Olivet Discourse as set forth in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21 in order to get all of the details set forth by the Lord Himself in this inspired prophetic discourse.   A good knowledge and understanding of this discourse will be of great help to our readers in understanding many other portions of the prophetic Word of God.   Now let’s proceed…
The Parable of the Ten Virgins

     Matthew 25:1-13……. It is significant that the Lord God introduced the Parable of the Ten Virgins into this Discourse right at this point by using the word, “Then.”  “Then [at that time] shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the Bridegroom.”  This word “Then,” inserted into the Discourse at this exact point is a definite “time marker” calling attention to the immediate context in which it occurs.   It should not be ignored!  
      The Parable of the Ten Virgins is one of the most “controversial,” misinterpreted, and misapplied, portions of Scripture to be found in all of God’s Word.  This is not God’s fault!   The controversy is due to readers who do not pay attention to the context in which the parable is given, or to the subject matter being spoken about in the parable, or even to what is actually and literally stated in the parable, nor do they bother to follow what the inspired Word explicitly commands God’s people to do to bring about correct understanding of God’s Word.  See 1 Corinthians 2:11-13.  
     I am not writing to please any man [or woman], but rather to set forth the truth of God’s Word for the Lord’s people, and for lost seeking souls.  I will let our readers decide for themselves whether I have accomplished my purpose as they read my exposition of this parable, and the remainder of this study…….
     In this Parable of the Ten Virgins there are several symbols which need to be clearly understood before even attempting to explain the parable.  The symbols in this parable are:  “the bridegroom, the
virgins, (both wise and foolish), the lamps, the oil, the vessels, the sellers of oil, and the door.”   So before we get into an actual exposition of the parable, let’s first examine the symbols used in the parable.   Once we identify the true meaning of the symbols, then we will be able to put the parable together in proper order…….
     The Bridegroom…….The “bridegroom” in this prophetic parable is obviously the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  Christ is referred to as such repeatedly in the Scriptures.   Further, it is plainly stated in Matthew 22:1-14 that “a certain King…….made a marriage for His Son.”  Every true believer who has ever seriously studied God’s Word knows that the “certain King” is God the Father, and His Son is the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Scriptures teach clearly that there is presently a relationship between Christ and His Gentile church which will result in a future marriage, 2 Corinthians 11:1-2; Ephesians 5:22-32. There are numerous types of this relationship and future marriage set forth in the Old Testament Scriptures, therefore it is beyond question that it is the Lord Jesus Christ who is “the bridegroom” in this Parable of the Ten Virgins.
     The Virgins…….That this parable is set in the framework of a Jewish marriage should be unquestionable to any reader who seriously studies it, and who knows anything about the marriage customs of the Jewish people.  But now I would ask, “How many of our readers have ever bothered to seriously study the marriages or weddings recorded in the Scriptures?”  Well…???
     I don’t think I am mistaken in saying that the first marriage recorded in the Scriptures about which we are given much detail was the marriage of Isaac to his bride, Rebekah, Genesis 24.   Isaac was a Hebrew, being the son of Abraham, “the Hebrew,” Genesis 14:13.  But Rebekah was a Gentile living in the country of Mesopotamia, 24:10.  Abraham sent his servant back to his home country to secure a bride for his son, Isaac, from his own kindred, 24:4.  In other words, Rebekah’s family was related to Abraham, yet were still Gentiles living in a Gentile country.  We Gentile believers living today are likewise related to Abraham, but our relationship is one of faith and not flesh, Romans 4:3-5; Galatians 3:26. When a Gentile believer receives Christ, they do not turn into “a spiritual Jew.”  Such a teaching by some “Christians” today is “false teaching,” a corruption of Scripture, and in no way is the truth of God’s Word.  2 Timothy 2:15 is still in the Bible!     
     I could pause here and write a study on this entire account in Genesis 24.  It is so beautiful!   But what I really want our readers to notice, is that after consenting to become Isaac’s bride, Rebekah made the trip back to the land of Canaan to meet and marry Isaac accompanied by “her damsels,” 24:61.  In 24:16 Rebekah herself is referred to as “the damsel,” and it is also explicitly stated that she was “a virgin,” 24:43.  This is the meaning of the Hebrew word translated as “damsel” in this chapter; a young virgin woman who had never “known” a man sexually, 24:16; 24:61.   Look up the word in your own Concordance or Lexicon, Strong’s No. 5291.  So as Rebekah went on her way back to Canaan to become the “bride” of Isaac, she was accompanied by a number of “virgins” who would be in her wedding party and therefore “guests” at her wedding.  
     Then there is the account of Ruth and Boaz in the Book of Ruth.   What a beautiful love story recorded in God’s Word.   Ruth was a Gentile woman, being by nationality a Moabite, Ruth 1:4; 2:2; 2:6.  Ruth was not physically a virgin, having been previously married to her Jewish husband who had died.   Yet, “by the grace of God” she experienced conversion to the God of Israel, 1:15-17; 2:2; 2:10-12. I suggest that right here Romans 6:6 and 2 Corinthians 5:17 be read.  Ruth was specifically called “a virtuous woman” by Boaz himself, who was a vivid type of Christ in this inspired book, 3:11.   But again, what I want our readers to notice in this account is…….
     That Ruth labored in the fields of Boaz side by side with his “maidens,” 2:8; 2:13; 2:22-23.   Look up the Hebrew word translated as “maidens” in this account, and you will find that the word literally means “virgins;” young women who had never known a man sexually.  It is also stated that these “maidens” lived in or near Bethlehem in the country of Judah, and were therefore Jews [Israelites], 1:22; 2:4.  Should there be any question in any reader’s mind that these “maidens” [virgins] then were likely in the wedding party and “guests” at the marriage of Ruth and Boaz?
     But let’s not forget the account of the marriage of Esther to King Ahasuerus as recorded in the Book of Esther.  In this account the circumstances of the couple being married are reversed.  This was the marriage of an Israelite “virgin” to a Gentile king, Esther 2.  Esther is explicitly referred to in this
account as “the maiden” [virgin], and was given seven other “maidens” to accompany and care for her, 2:9.  All of these “maidens,” including Esther herself, are explicitly called “virgins” in 2:19.   Simple logic dictates that when the wedding of Esther and King Ahasuerus took place, Esther’s “virgins” accompanied her in the wedding party and were “guests” at her wedding to Boaz.
     There is one more wedding described in some detail in the Bible which our readers should not overlook if they truly desire to understand the role of the “virgins” in the Olivet Discourse.   This is the wedding between Christ and His bride prophetically described in Psalm 45.   This entire Psalm is devoted to a prophecy describing the future wedding of the Lord Jesus Christ to His Gentile bride; His
glorified church.
     There are four things in  Psalm 45 which I want our readers to carefully notice…….
     [1]   The bride in this account is explicitly referred to as “the queen” at the Lord’s “right hand” in 45:9.  In other words, she is to rule and reign with Christ!  Glory to God! 
     [2]   It is clearly implied in 45:10 that she is a Gentile bride, as she is exhorted to “forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house.”
    [3]    That this is describing the marriage between Christ and His Gentile bride; His church, is beyond question, for 45:11 explicitly states, “So the King shall greatly desire thy beauty: for He is thy Lord; and worship thou Him.”  Who would this be said of except the Lord Jesus Christ?     
     [4]    It is clearly stated in 45:14, “She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto Thee [the King].”  In relation to her garments, compare Revelation 19:7-8. 
     So here in this prophetic account we find a Gentile bride being married to the Lord Jesus Christ, and she is accompanied to the wedding by her companions, “the virgins.”   Hello!   There is no question that this is referring to the Lord’s church being married to Christ in a Jewish wedding ceremony.  
     After looking at all these weddings recorded in the Scriptures, it should be glaringly obvious to our readers that the bride is always accompanied to the wedding by her “virgins.”  The “virgins” are not the Bride.  They only accompany the bride to the wedding as part of the wedding party and are “guests” at the wedding.  Even in a Gentile wedding today, doesn’t the bride usually invite her best girl friends she has known most of her life to her wedding?   Well…???
     The Lamps…….These lamps were the typical lamps used in the Middle East at the time of the Lord’s first coming.   They might be different shapes, but all of them had a bowl or reservoir to hold oil, and a wick to soak up the oil which would burn when lighted.  The oil for these lamps obviously had to be poured into the lamps from an exterior source.  These lamps, while being inanimate objects, yet convey the spiritual truth of typifying the soul or spirit of man.  The lamp of the born-again believer burns only because the oil of God’s Holy Spirit has been poured into the soul.  Glory to God! 
     If our readers are careful Bible students, then some already know that the word “candle” and the word “lamp” are translated from the exact same Hebrew word in the Old Testament.  That Hebrew word is “nir” or “ner.”  See Strong’s No. 5216.   The English word “candle” is usually an incorrect translation.  The word should have been uniformly translated as “lamp.”   Keep this in mind as we now notice the Scriptures which make this truth so very plain. 
     In Proverbs 20:27 the Scripture explicitly states, “The spirit of man is the candle [lamp] of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly [body].” 
      In Psalm 18:28 the Psalmist explicitly says, “For Thou wilt light my candle [lamp]: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.”  This clearly is a reference to a person being saved by the grace of God and the light of God’s Holy Spirit taking up residence in the redeemed soul of man.  Compare Romans 5:1-5.   All of the spiritual light any man or woman ever receives comes from the Lord, for He only is the source of all true spiritual light, Genesis 1:3-5; 2 Samuel 22:29; Job 29:3; Psalm 119:105; 119:130; Matthew 4:4; Romans 10:17.
    It was also clearly stated by the Lord God in Matthew 5:15-16, “Neither do men light a candle [lamp], and put it under a bushel [basket], but on a candlestick; [lampstand] and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  In this passage Christ is obviously talking about a person being saved and then placing their light on the lampstand of His church, Revelation 1:20. 
     So there is no question that the lighted lamps in this parable typify the redeemed soul of a true believer.                                                                  
     The wise and the foolish virgins…….It should then be obvious to our readers that the “wise virgins” whose “lamps” are burning brightly are those Jews who have been saved by God’s grace and have the “light” of God’s Holy Spirit burning within their souls. I emphasize that they are “Jews” for this entire Olivet discourse was being spoken to the Jews, is primarily for the Jews, and about the Jews.  I will have more to say about this in the exposition.
     On the other hand, the “foolish virgins” are those Jews who, while making an outward show of belonging to the Lord, do not have their “lamps” lighted and have “no oil” with which to light them.  Now read the sad story of what happens to these kind of people, both Jews and Gentiles, Job 18:5-6; 21:17-18; Proverbs 13:9; 20:20; 24:20.
     The Oil…….By this time it should be obvious to our readers that “the oil” which causes “the lamps” to burn is a symbol of the Holy Spirit of God.   This type is set forth over and over again throughout the Scriptures, so there is little need of laboring the point.  Without “the oil” of God’s Holy Spirit burning within the soul of men and women, boys and girls, they are still lost in sin and do not have “the light of God” to guide them, John 16:12-15; 1 Corinthians 2:11-14.   Without the Holy Spirit of God unbelieving lost people can read the Bible until their eyesight fails and they go blind, and will never understand any of the spiritual truths it contains, for spiritual truth is only discerned by the   Holy Spirit, John 16:12-15.  The Holy Spirit comes upon a lost seeking sinner to convict and convince them of their lost condition and their need for the saving grace of Christ, John 16:7-11, but He comes into the body of a true believer to dwell eternally, Romans 8:9-17.    Glory to God! 
     The Vessels…..This is a reference to the bodies of these “virgins.”    Both the “wise and foolish virgins” dwell in a human body, which is lighted or not lighted by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, depending on whether one has received Christ as their own personal Savior.   That this term is a symbol of the body can easily be verified by looking up and studying the Scriptural references in your own Concordance and Bible.  Check out Romans 9:20-24, 2 Corinthians 4:6-7, and 2 Timothy 2:19-21.
     The sellers of Oil…….In this present dispensation this symbolizes the Gentile true churches of the Lord Jesus Christ preaching and teaching Christ Jesus as the only way of salvation. We who are New Covenant believers have the privilege and obligation to share the gospel of Christ Jesus with the lost world, including the unbelieving Jews. Once that privilege and obligation belonged only to Israel and the Jewish people to proclaim the way of salvation to a lost and dying world, [Exodus 19:5-7; Isaiah 55:1-3] but they forfeited the privilege when they rejected and crucified their Messiah and Savior.  The privilege of “selling the gospel of Christ” to the lost world now lies in the hands of the Lord’s true churches, Matthew 28:18-20.  That privilege was transferred from Israel to the Lord’s church on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.  The “wise virgins” obviously know this, and so send the “foolish virgins” to the true Gentile churches of the Lord Jesus to “buy oil” for their “lamps.” 
     A beautiful type of this truth is found in the Jewish Scriptures in the account of the Jewish prophet, Elisha, in 2 Kings 4:1-7. This widow was a Jewess suffering terribly from the loss of her husband. She had two sons [typifying the divided nation of the Jews; Samaria and Judah], who were about to become bondslaves. Elijah specifically told the Gentile woman to pour out her “oil” into “vessels.” As she began pouring the “oil” into “vessels,” her “little cruse of oil” increased.  Then the prophet explicitly told her to “sell” her “oil,” and “pay thy debt.”  This is what Israel and the Jewish people did some 2,000 years ago.  They “sold” the “oil” of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles in their rejection and crucifixion of Christ Jesus, who paid the “sin debt” of, not only the Jews but of the whole world, through the sacrifice of Himself at Calvary.  Glory to God!   It is terribly sad that the unbelieving Jews today do not realize that their “sin debt” has already been paid by the Messiah and Savior they rejected and crucified.   May our gracious God hasten the day when the Jewish “remnant” will turn to Him with their whole heart and soul. 
     The Door…….That this is the door to Heaven in this parable should not be a problem to any reader. The Lord, in this discourse has already pointed out that when the Fig tree puts forth leaves those watching would “know” that the parousia of Christ “is near, even at the doors,” Matthew
24:32-33.  Just as there was “a door” to the Ark preceding the flood, that was shut after Noah and his family had entered in, so once more there will be a “door” in Heaven that will be shut after all true New Covenant believers have entered in. Just as the door on the Ark was shut preceding God’s judgment of all humanity by the flood in the days of Noah, so the door to Heaven will be shut preceding God’s judgment of all humanity again by the terrible Tribulation period.  Compare Revelation 3:7-8; 3:10; 4:1.  The “door” will be shut immediately after the resurrection and rapture of all New Covenant believers. Again, compare Luke 13:23-28.  If any reader is an unbeliever still lost in sin, it will be too late to cry out to God to “open the door” to you after the rapture has occurred.  Seek the Lord God as your Savior NOW while you still have the time and opportunity to be saved, 2 Corinthians 6:1-2.
The Exposition of the Parable

     This Parable of the Ten Virgins must be kept in context if it is to be “rightly divided.”  Notice that it occurs in connection with the account of the rapture of believers in 24:40-51.  I emphasize again that the parable begins with the word, “Then,” denoting a “time marker.”  In other words, the events laid out in this parable occur at the same time or in connection with the rapture of New Covenant believers. 
     This parable is not speaking of “Christian” Gentiles nor of the bride of Christ.  In fact, the “bride of Christ” is not even mentioned in this parable.  It is obvious that when the rapture occurs the “bride of Christ” is raptured.  Since every wedding we examined in God’s Word clearly reveals that the “virgins” accompany the bride in to the wedding as a part of her wedding party, and will be “guests” at her wedding, why should it not be this way here?  
      It is fascinating to me that in the past few years we have seen a rising “Messianic Jewish” movement among the Jewish people.   These Messianic Jews “profess” to have received Yeshua Hamashiach [the Lord Jesus Christ] as their own personal Savior, yet most of them refuse to identify themselves with the Lord’s church [Christianity as a movement or the local churches] in any way.   In fact, I have had some Messianic Jews tell me that “Christianity” as a religious movement is apostate, and these Jews which have received Christ as their Savior want no part of it.   So rather than identify with Christianity, these Messianic Jews started their own movement [or denomination]. 
     Sadly, as a movement, “Christianity” today is in a state of apostasy.   It is just as big a failure as ancient Israel ever was at representing the God of Heaven to a lost world.  However, we need to remember that, just as there was always a “remnant” among ancient Israel who clave to the God of Israel with their whole heart and stayed faithful to His Word, so today there is a “remnant” in the ranks of Christianity who love the Lord and His Word with all of their hearts and who remain faithful to Him, even though much of “Christianity” has gone the way of Laodicea, Revelation 3:14-19. By the grace of God, I am thankful to be a part of that faithful, believing, “remnant.”  Glory to God! 
     What the Lord told the Jewish people [and us] in this parable is that there will be some of the Jewish people, Messianic or otherwise, who are truly saved and have their spiritual “lamps” burning brightly for the Lord at or near the time when He comes to rapture His New Covenant believers to glory.  These are the “wise virgins.” 
     In the same “time frame” there will be some Jews who have “professed” Christ as the Messiah of Israel, yet who have never truly received Him as their Savior and Lord.   These are the “foolish virgins.” Folks, any lost person, Jew or Gentile, can mentally assent that Christ was indeed the Messiah of Israel, and that will not buy them a drop of water in hell.   Of course the “foolish virgins”  have “lamps” for every living person has a soul or spirit.  But their “lamps” are not burning, for even though they have “professed” to believe in Yeshua as the promised Messiah of Israel, they have never truly received Him as their Savior, so they have no indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to light their “lamps.”  Read James 2:19-20.  Instead, right along with the “Christians” they are criticizing, all of the “virgins,” wise and foolish, “slumber and sleep,” Matthew 25:5.
     Folks, there is going to be a great awakening!  I am not talking about a spiritual revival that will sweep across the whole world as some teach today.  Rather, I have more in mind some “sudden destruction” [or other clear prophetic event] that will serve as a clarion call, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him,” 25:6.  When that event occurs there will be a great awakening, 25:6-
7.  With such an awakening will come a realization on the part of the “foolish virgins” that they do not
have “the light and power of the Holy Spirit,” indwelling them, neither in their individual “lamps” nor in their Messianic congregations, as the “wise virgins” will obviously have in theirs.  The “foolish virgins” will finally realize that something is missing in their lives and service to the Lord.  So they ask the “wise virgins” to share their “oil” with them.  This may seem like a reasonable request, but it is not that simple!   Receiving the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit is accomplished only on an individual basis, when one receives the Lord Jesus Christ by faith as their own personal Savior.  Any Jew alive today [or Gentile] can intellectually believe that Christ was truly the Messiah of Israel, and that will not buy them a drop of water in hell to cool their tongue.  The Lord Jesus Christ must be received by faith as one’s own personal Savior, or that person will never be saved.   This involves facing the fact that one is a lost, depraved, hell deserving, sinner, standing in need of salvation from their sin, and that one must come to Christ, receiving Him “by faith” as God’s only way of salvation, John 3:16; Acts 4:12.  Only then will the Holy Spirit take up His abode in the human heart and soul, and give the repentant believer His light and power to be saved.     
      It appears in the parable that the “foolish virgins” finally realize this truth, but too late!  While they are seeking the Lord, He comes!   “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready [the wise virgins] went in with Him to the marriage: and the door was shut,” 25:10. 
     There are five vitally important facts that stand out in this one inspired Scripture:
     [1]     There is a “buying place!”  Read Matthew 7:13-14.
     [2]     The “bridegroom” is coming!  Read John 14:1-3 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.
     [3]     Only those who are “ready” will be taken!
     [4]     The “door” will be “shut,!”
     [5]     “Watch ye therefore” and “make your calling and election sure,” 2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Peter 1:10.    
     Now if any preacher or Bible teacher reading this wants a good sermon outline, here it is!  It is not original with me, but the Lord Himself placed it in His Word.   To the Lord God be the glory!   Develop the outline as the Lord leads you.
     Who is it who will be ready?  All true New Covenant believers and all of the “wise virgins” [saved Jews] will be ready and will instantly go in the “door” to the marriage at the time of the resurrection and rapture, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.  Praise the Lord!  Thank you Lord Jesus!  Glory to God!  Read again Revelation 3:7-10 and 4:1.  And then “the door will be shut!”  God will have to have mercy on those left behind, if any mercy is ever extended to them, for those left on the earth will not extend mercy to their fellow man during the terrible Tribulation, Isaiah 57:1; Micah 7:1-6.  Think about it!   


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     Permission is granted to any true believer or Bible believing Christian ministry to reproduce this study to share with others, or to quote from it in context as written.
     This ministry is supported solely by the free will offerings of those readers who believe that they are being “led of the Lord” to help us send forth God’s wonderful Word.
     Please address all comments, questions, and correspondence to:  Pastor F. M. Riley, Last Call Gospel Ministry, 184 County Road 108, Harrisburg, Missouri 65256, or to:

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