Have you ever wondered who the 10 virgins are in the Parable of the 10 Virgins found in the gospel of Matthew? Specifically, who are the foolish virgins?
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. Matthew 25:1
Let’s read the text found in Matthew 25:1-13, as Jesus is teaching his disciples on the Mount of Olives. They came to Him privately for the explanation of His statement about the temple buildings not left standing (Matthew 24:1). Jesus began to teach them about the signs of the end times. In chapter 25, He teaches about the kingdom of heaven and likened it to 10 virgins of whom five were wise and five were foolish.
In this study, we want to answer the question, who are the foolish virgins?
As in other studies I have published, I like to use the King James Version, so if you have your own favourite version, please use it to read along with us.
The context of this parable with previous parables and Bible accounts is concerning the Lord’s return and for believers to be ready for Him. He is coming at an hour when we least expect it, however, He did tell us that we could know the general time frame. To compare with other parables, look at Matthew 24:42, 44, 50; 25:13.
This parable contains some unknowns. We do not know who the bride is, where she is and when she will arrive. Where are the attendants waiting? What kind of lamps are these and how are they to be used? In a processional march? One thing we do know is the bridegroom is central to this parable since it is concerning the coming of the Lord.
Another thing to keep in mind as we study this is not to compare our modern day wedding ceremonies with the ceremony in this parable. Plus, the question that we want to answer today is who are the foolish virgins?
Traits of the Foolish and Wise
All the virgins took their lamps with them, however, only five virgins took extra oil. They are called wise virgins. It is possible for believers to be with other believers and not know their true intent.
The foolish virgins took only their lamps. The significance is that they knew the tradition that the bridegroom would arrive when least expected. They waited as if they intended to meet the groom but it was a show of intent because they did not have spare oil. They cared for the present time but not for the future. These virgins are called hypocrites.
The wise virgins took their lamps plus spare oil. They knew that the groom would come when least expected and they were ready for him.
Let’s look a little deeper at the foolish virgins. All 10 virgins brought their lamps with them but with no oil in them as it was still light out and they could see where they were going. Any oil that was in the wick would have been residual. It would appear that the foolish virgins thought only of the ‘here and now’ as they had not procured oil while they still had time to get ready.
The wise virgins were prepared to wait for the groom as the ceremonial process would begin upon his arrival. These virgins knew that the unexpected could happen and they were ready with extra oil in case it was needed.
The bridegroom did not come as early as they expected. All 10 virgins slumbered and slept. In Paul’s day, believers were expecting the day of the Lord at any time but the coming of the Lord has been delayed.
We are to be watching, waiting and ready for His soon return. We don’t know when this will be but He won’t be late.
While the groom delayed his arrival, the virgins grew tired and it would seem they gave up looking for him. Luke 18:8 states I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
We see too many good Christians who have been ‘in the Lord’ a long time grow slack in their zeal of watching and waiting for the Lord’s return because He hasn’t come yet. They still love the Lord but have left their first love. The disciples found it hard to stay awake and pray with Jesus for one hour, how much more for believers to watch and wait for as many years as we have?
At midnight the announcement was made Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Though the wait is long, Christ will come. His second coming is not forgotten, He will come for His bride!
When we least expect Him, He will arrive. Midnight represents the unexpected hour. We do not know the day nor the hour when Christ will return. It is an unexpected time but He will come and when He comes, we will go forth to meet Him. Those who are prepared, who have readied themselves, will be ready when they hear the sound of His approach.
The Bridegroom’s Arrival
At the sound of the groom’s arrival, the sleeping virgins woke up and five of the virgins, in preparing their lamps, found that they did not have enough oil to proceed with the ceremonial procession. We can assume that as they were lighting the wicks, that any residual oil in the wicks quickly sputtered out. That is why all five lamps went out at the same time.
The lamps of hypocrites will go out. It is possible to be in close proximity with believers and not be saved, Luke 13:23-27. Their lamps have gone out and their hope with it. The time to get ready has passed.
The solution to their dilemma was to ask the wise virgins for some of their oil since they had enough forethought to bring oil. They wanted to be a part of the ceremony but at someone else’s expense.
This parable is about readiness, not about sleeping. Our bodies need physical rest as illustrated here. While all 10 virgins slept, only five were ready. For believers, this means that we continue to do the work of the Lord until He returns.
While hypocrites sneer and mock true believers, the day will come when they will wish for the benefits of the believer when they are facing judgment. The things they scorned, they will wish for. They will see their need of grace but not until it is too late.
The wise virgins refuse to share their oil with the foolish virgins on the basis that they themselves will not have enough for the ceremonial procession. It is better to have enough light to complete the procession than to run out of light during it. This is why they did not share their oil.
The Door is Shut
The unexpected happened. The bridegroom arrived while the foolish virgins went out to buy more oil. The procession began and the groom and the virgins went into the place where the wedding would occur and the door was shut behind them.
When the foolish virgins returned, they found the door shut. They called out for the groom to open the door, to allow them entrance to the wedding but heard a response they were not expecting. The ceremonial procession had been completed. They were not present for this process and now they were not allowed to enter the ceremony itself.
It was too late. He did not know them and refused them entrance. Only those who are watching, waiting and ready will gain entrance to the wedding ceremony.
Jesus ended this parable with Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Sisters, be watchful, be waiting, be ready! He IS coming soon when the time is right. He will not be late and neither should we be late. Being ready means, among other things (and especially in this parable), trusting in Jesus, and having our sins forgiven.
We now know who the foolish virgins are. They are those who are not truly saved but go through the motions. When it is time for the Lord’s return, they will find there is no time left to get ready. The time to get ready is today.
Do you think it is possible for people to attend church and go through the motions of Bible study and prayer but not have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells believers to examine themselves to ensure their salvation.
Who did you think the foolish virgins were prior to reading this study? Do you still think that way? As iron sharpens iron, would you share your thoughts with me? I would love to hear from you.