3. Jesus’ Parable of the 10 Virgins
Matthew 25:1-13 (NKJV) “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 very first word in this parable is Τότε (Then), which means “at that time.” That time is the end of the age which Jesus had been addressing in the previous chapter. At the end of the age, the Kingdom is likened to “ten virgins who took their lamps and went out …”. This parable does not encompass the entire age in which we live but is limited to the specific brief end-time scenario foreseen in the Olivet Discourse. This is the 70th Week, the period described in Revelation, of which Jesus called the first half “the beginning of birth pains” and the latter half “great tribulation.” It is at that time that the ten virgins will go out to begin their vigil.
The last generation of Christians are portrayed in this parable as ten virgins. Virginity is used in Scripture to describe God’s people, those who are in a covenant relationship with Him, even when they are not spotless and have many blemishes, even when under God’s severe judgement. For example, Jeremiah, prophesying against Judah and Jerusalem, predicted that Nebuchadnezzar would come against her to destroy the city and the Temple and carry God’s people away as captives to Babylon. Yet, even when under severe punishment for her iniquities, she is called “the virgin daughter,” that is, “My people” who were in a covenant relationship with God.
Jeremiah 14:16-21 (NASB) 16 “The people also to whom they are prophesying will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and there will be no one to bury them – neither them, nor their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters – for I shall pour out their own wickedness on them. 17 And you will say this word to them, ‘Let my eyes flow down with tears night and day, And let them not cease; For the virgin daughter of my people has been crushed with a mighty blow, With a sorely infected wound. 18 If I go out to the country, Behold, those slain with the sword! Or if I enter the city, Behold, diseases of famine! For both prophet and priest Have gone roving about in the land that they do not know’.” 19 Hast Thou completely rejected Judah? Or hast Thou loathed Zion? Why hast Thou stricken us so that we are beyond healing? We waited for peace, but nothing good came; And for a time of healing, but behold, terror! 20 We know our wickedness, O LORD, The iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against Thee. 21 Do not despise us, for Thine own name’s sake; Do not disgrace the throne of Thy glory; Remember and do not annul Thy covenant with us.
Jeremiah 18:13-16 (NASB) 13 “Therefore thus says the LORD, ‘Ask now among the nations, Who ever heard the like of this? The virgin of Israel Has done a most appalling thing. 14 Does the snow of Lebanon forsake the rock of the open country? Or is the cold flowing water from a foreign land ever snatched away? 15 For My people have forgotten Me, They burn incense to worthless gods And they have stumbled from their ways, From the ancient paths, To walk in bypaths, Not on a highway, 16 To make their land a desolation, An object of perpetual hissing; Everyone who passes by it will be astonished And shake his head.”
Paul applied the same principle to the local assembly at Corinth. All of the baptized members shared a collective covenant with God through Christ. Yet, Paul was concerned that many would not endure to receive the promised inheritance.
2 Cor. 11:2-3 (NKJV) 2 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. 3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Jesus’ parable was intended only to portray the last generation of Christians who will encounter the last days. All ten of the virgins “took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom” at the same location and time. The approximate time of the groom’s arrival had certainly been made known to them previously otherwise they could not have all gone out to meet Him with their lamps.
Jewish weddings were by no means spontaneous events, but required a great deal of planning and preparation for the elaborate feasting that always accompanied such things. This can be seen from Jesus’ and His disciples’ attendance at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. The wedding required considerable travel time for Jesus and His disciples from Judea. The wedding was set on a particular day, “on the third day” of the week. By Jewish reckoning, where a calendar day begins at sunset, this particular wedding feast would have begun at sunset on a Monday evening. A specific date was known in advance to the invited guests so that they might make necessary arrangements and arrive on time.
The parable of the ten virgins was not intended to illustrate a continuous state of expectation of Jesus’ return for all Christians since apostolic times, as though the lamps must always be burning. It only illustrates the scenario that begins during the end times, once it has become apparent that the Kingdom is near, once the secret concealed in Daniel concerning Christ’s return is unsealed, since God has promised to reveal “the Advent of our Master Jesus Anointed, which [God] will disclose in His own appointed times.”
Jesus characterized five of the virgins as “wise” and the other five as “foolish.” Daniel described both the wise and foolish virgins in the following passage:
Daniel 12:4,9-10 (LXX) “’And you, Daniel, close the words, and seal the book until the appointed time of the end; until many should be instructed and knowledge should be multiplied.’ … And he said, ‘Go, Daniel: for the words are closed and sealed up to the time of the end. Many must be tested, and thoroughly whitened, and tried with fire, and sanctified; but the transgressors shall transgress: and none of the transgressors shall understand; but the wise shall understand.”
It is therefore apparent that the “oil” which the wise virgins brought with them to the vigil in awaiting the bridegroom is the “instruction,” multiplied “knowledge,” and “understanding” that is only available after the unsealing of the specific prophecies, after God has seen fit to reveal “the Advent of our Master Jesus Anointed” which God promised to “disclose in His own appointed times.” The foolish virgins are the “transgressors” in the above passage. But the wise are those who “understand” in the above passage, “those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”
The previous parable was of a man surprised by the thief, which Jesus used to warn His “faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season.” The servant who is truly “faithful and wise” will heed Jesus’ instructions and prepare those he is charged with leading. He will “instruct” many. But many more will fail and be severely punished. Some will even say “My master is not coming for a long time,” and the result will be that those under their influence will be unprepared and fall away. They, and those who follow them, are the blind leading the blind. They will find comfort for a while in their delusions, procrastinations, “eating and drinking” as though these things are a long way off until it is too late for them. When Jesus arrives, this is what He will do to that pastor or teacher. He will “cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth.”
The foolish virgins are those who resist instruction, knowledge, and understanding, and those who follow the blind and foolish servants charged with leading them. Their lack of “oil” is not merely failing to know and understanding the end-times, but especially ignoring what is absolutely necessary and essential in preparing to endure the end times so as not to be among those whom Jesus said will fall away even before the abomination of desolation as described in Matthew 24:9-14 and 2 Thess. 2:3.
The wedding theme is very prominent in the prophets, in Jesus’ parables, and in the book of Revelation. There are many parallels drawn in Scripture between the common Jewish wedding and the end-times. Jesus made it quite clear that only those wearing spotless wedding garments will be received into the wedding of the Lamb. After the entire series of end-time events described in Revelation, as Jesus was about to be portrayed as coming from heaven in power and glory, we find the following statement:
Rev. 19:7-9 (NKJV) 7 “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.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 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.”
Just as there will come a great apostasy from the Faith by Christians in the end times according to Jesus and Paul, so also will there be a great self-cleansing and preparation to meet the Groom by the wise virgins. The wise will eventually have to separate themselves from the foolish.
2 Cor. 6:14 — 7:1 (LGV) 14 Do not become together miss-yoked to unfaithful ones. For what partnership [is there between] justice and lawlessness? And what fellowship [is there between] light and darkness? 15 And what commonality [is there between] the Anointed and Belial? Or what portion [can be shared between] a faithful one with an unfaithful one? 16 And what commonality has the Temple of God with idols? For you all are the Temple of the living God, according as God said that “I will dwell among them … and I will walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be My people.” 17 Therefore the Master says, “Come out from the midst of them and be segregated, and do not touch anything unclean. And THE SOVEREIGN MASTER OVER ALL says, “I will receive you, 18 and I will be a Father unto you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me.” 7:1 Having then these promises, beloved, we should cleanse ourselves from all pollution of the flesh and breath, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Making one’s self ready to be received into the wedding feast which the Great King has arranged for His only-begotten Son does not come through procrastination, taking God’s commandments lightly, or seeking to explain them away. It does not come by ignoring the very obvious storm clouds that are already darkening the sky. It does not come by patronizing those who resist God’s word, seeking to reinterpret God’s commands and warnings in order to maintain the status quo, a lifestyle of “eating and drinking” as though the storm is not now already threatening. Neither does it come by political activism in seeking to delay the storm by attempting to prop up this fallen world system.
All Christians will grow exceedingly weary in the dark days ahead, and desire to slumber and sleep just as the disciples did when Jesus was agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, ‘What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Paul alluded to these things in light of the Olivet Discourse in the following passage:
1 Thess. 5:1-8 (NKJV) But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
“The times and seasons” which Paul characterized as “darkness” and “night” refers to the whole time of tribulation described in Revelation and the Olivet Discourse. While the whole world will be in darkness, Christians have light available through God’s Word, the instruction, knowledge, and understanding that will be available in the end-times. Those who are “wise” will take advantage of the light that has been provided and will continue to be provided to those who value and heed it. They will progressively make themselves ready for the wedding and the difficult times that precede it. Their focus will not be on maintaining the status quo, or grasping for normalcy as this fallen world is crumbling. Nor will they bury their heads in the sand so that they can continue to “eat and drink” saying: “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!”
The foolish virgins keep one foot in Egypt where they are treasuring up their wealth, where they find their security, and where they can enjoy the pleasures of eating and drinking and entertainment. They do not value the eternal things above the temporal things. They do not know the power of God or really trust His promises. So their focus becomes striving to maintain their own comfort or living standard. In many cases this involves trying to prop up “Pharaoh” through political activism that they piously call “patriotism.”
But the wise virgins cannot keep one foot in Egypt, but cross the Red Sea into the wilderness leaving Egypt behind, heading for the Promised Land without looking back. Like Abraham, they must choose to leave their uncooperative family members and friends behind in Ur, trodding in the footsteps of Abraham, living as foreigners and pilgrims, waiting on God with their eyes fixed on the Promised Land. The wise virgins follow the many examples in Hebrews 11 of those who trusted God and blindly obeyed His seemingly foolish commands, while “looking unto the Founder and Finisher of the Faith – Jesus,” in order to endure the coming hardship. These are the ones who will rejoice in the Kingdom.
In Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins, there were two major events that occur before the bridegroom actually arrives. The first was that all ten virgins took their lamps and went out to begin their vigil for the arriving bridegroom on the date which the wedding was scheduled to occur. This beginning of the vigil corresponds to the time when Christ’s Advent is unsealed and disclosed to His followers. Yet, after the beginning of the vigil there was a significant period of time during which they all grew weary and fell asleep. However, “at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’” Midnight in this parable is the mid-point of the 70th week when the “abomination of desolation” occurs. Therefore, the period of time during their vigil in which they fell asleep refers to a specific period of time before the abomination of desolation occurs. It is during this “season” that all of the virgins had plenty of time to secure sufficient oil.
When the public announcement comes, “Behold, the bridegroom is coming, go out to meet Him,” all of the virgins were awakened and had to face the consequences of their preparation or lack thereof. Going out to meet the bridegroom requires a voluntary relocation. This is the faithful fleeing promptly at the signal to the places of safety for the last 3.5 years while the most severe wrath of God is poured upon the Antichrist and His Kingdom. Notice that it was at this time, at the midpoint of the 70th week, that the foolish virgins discovered that their lamps had gone out. They were not equipped or prepared to flee to the pre-chamber for the wedding. “And the woman escaped into the wilderness where she has a place there having been prepared from God (so that they may be nourishing her there) a thousand two hundred sixty days. … And two wings of a great eagle were given to the woman, so that she might fly to the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished there a time, times, and half a time from before the snake.” It is especially noteworthy that the foolish virgins demanded that the wise virgins share their oil. But the wise virgins cannot do so or aide the foolish virgins at all in their panic and plight. The foolish virgins are on their own, and unable to secure oil. Then, when the bridegroom comes the door is shut. This statement seems to allude to Noah’s flood where God shut the door of the ark and no one else was allowed in. It is therefore evident that waiting for the abomination of desolation to occur before securing sufficient oil is a recipe for disaster.
“Watch therefore, and pray always [so] that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Go to: 4. Why God Discloses the 2nd Advent
 Compare the same word in vss. 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 21, 24, 30, 40.
 Matt. 24:8
 Matt. 24:21
 John 2:1-11
 1 Tim. 6:14-15
 Rev. 14:12 NKJV (cf. John 14:15; John 15:10; Rev. 3:10)
 Matt. 24:45 NKJV
 Matt. 24:48 NASB
 Matt. 24:51 NASB
 Matt. 22:11-12; Rev. 3:4-5; Rev. 3:18; Rev. 7:9; Rev. 16:15
 Matt. 22:1-14
 Matt. 26:40-41 NKJV
 John 9:4
 Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:1-8; Rev. 13:5
 Matt. 24:15-22
 Rev. 12:6,14
 Gen. 7:16
 Luke 21:36 NKJV
2 thoughts on “3. Jesus’ Parable of the 10 Virgins”
I’ve found these end times posts to be very helpful and encouraging. I have a question concerning the knowledge/instruction from the Daniel passage. Would you consider your work on the biblical chronology and subsequent book to at least in part fulfill that scripture, or do you believe that it is yet to be revealed? Or do you believe that knowledge will come solely from the two prophets? Your work is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
I am 100% convinced that the “Millennial Week” theory that was held by many in early Christianity is true and biblical. Personally I have no doubts that the Kingdom will arrive at the end of 6000 years. I believe that the way that the time was concealed in early Christianity involved their use of the Septuagint for their chronological data. By the time the Hebrew text became the basis for the Christian Bible (beginning with the Latin Vulgate) the Millennial Week idea had been abandoned and Chiliasm had been replaced by Amillennialism. So the two necessary ingredients — acceptance of the Millennial Week idea, and acceptance of the Hebrew chronological data — were never brought together until fairly recently. Many before me have taught the Millennial Week, even in recent times. Many before me have worked on biblical chronology from the Hebrew Bible. This kind of chronological work goes back to Sir Isaac Newton, James Ussher, and many others. I think great strides have been made by these men. My meager contribution is on the shoulders of many others who came before me. I think the main contribution in my chronology is that it is the first that I know of that insists on using exclusively the biblical data, with zero secular sources. Almost all previous attempts were driven by the goal to make the Bible’s chronology match generally accepted secular chronologies, to show that the Bible is true. But my starting point was that the secular chronologies are wrong and only the Bible is true. Everything is based on that assumption. I hope that my work is a small component of God’s progressively revealing of the mystery. But I have never and will never assert that my work is anything other than my best effort at research and connecting the dots. Readers will have to judge whether God’s Spirit confirms my work or not. Ultimately, time will tell. But I am living and making my decisions based on the assumption that the conclusions are correct.
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