THE PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS - WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
By: Tommy Spurgeon
When reading about the five wise and the five foolish virgins there are many ways a person could interpret their meanings. One of the things that make a difference in understanding is whether we believe in grace as the basis of our salvation or whether we believe that works is the basis of our salvation. If you believe that you are saved by grace then you will probably believe that the five foolish virgins were not born again or they were possibly backslidden and will be left behind in the rapture of the Church. If you believe that works determines your salvation you will probably believe that the five foolish were Christians that were in a fallen state and that all five are destined for Hell and eternal damnation. Hopefully we will come to the right understanding of this parable before we are finished.
1: Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
2: And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3: They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
4: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5: While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6: And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
7: Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
8: And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9: 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.
10: 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.
11: Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12: But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
13: Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
There are several things to consider when reading these scriptures:
When we see these ten virgins the first thought that comes to us this that of the Bride of Christ. The fact that the Word says that we are supposed to be as chaste virgins. There is a little disappointment in not seeing her as brides but rather as to find that these are considered to be bridesmaids.
The reason for this is because we as individuals, are not the Bride of Christ. The Church is the Bride. We are only a part of the Bride and like the bridesmaids we will attend the wedding. But the Church in its totality is to be considered as the Bride. In this parable the five wise Virgins are the true Church and have been born again with eternal oil.
There are those in the Church known nowadays as Nominal Christians. There are millions of these in our land today. Only 47 percent of all who claim to be Christians in America are truly born again according to Gallup poll. Which means that they have a personal experience and know that they are born again. There are two types of oil: one is the Holy Spirit that produces the righteousness in the born again Christian. The other is the oil of self-will and self-discipline. This is what Paul would call; establishing our own form of righteousness. There are many that come to Church with this kind of oil. But this oil is only from the human heart and will run out because it is not eternal. Just as the oil ran out for the Covenant of Moses this kind of oil in the heart that is not born again will eventually burn out.
The fact that they were all virgins symbolized that they were all living righteously. Which tells us that there was no difference between the five wise and the five foolish. When it came to living right, they were pure.
They all slumbered and slept when the bridegroom tarried. They all believed that he had delayed his coming so they had gone to bed. Perhaps they thought that he would come the next day. Of course we know that the cry went out at midnight. The significance of this is that they all believed that they were ready. I donít suppose that any of them believed that he would come in the night. So both groups of virgins were taken by surprise.
The next point is that they all had lamps. The difference of course was that the wise had taken extra oil in their vessels, the foolish didnít take any more than what they had in their lamps. This is the factor that is going to open our understanding to what Jesus was teaching these people. And as to what he was talking about. The lamps and the oil in them are the answer to the mystery.
These lamps and their oil could also represent the two covenants and the Spirit of God that is in them. We must realize that when Jesus came to Israel the Jewish people were under the Law of Moses. They at the time were the only lights that God would use to show the world his will. The oil or the Spirit of God was in this covenant. This covenant, The Law of Moses, was the light that they were showing to the world. The people who sincerely followed and lived by this covenant were considered righteous by God. It was the only light in the world until the time that Jesus came.
When Jesus came he gave us a brand New Covenant. Because of this New Covenant, God would change his method of doing things. When Jesus was crucified he established his new covenant with all mankind. But, Israel would have a real problem with this simply because they would not be able to understand. So Jesus in this parable was trying to reach their minds in order to show them the end results of not accepting the New Covenant that he had given.
One of the things we must consider is that Israel had been placed in partial blindness as a judgment for past sins. So the scripture "many are called but few are chosen" was fulfilled at the time of Christ. They have remained in darkness for the most part until this day. Many of them are still trusting in the Old Covenant as the way to get to God. This is the very basis of this parable. The five foolish virgins are the children of Israel who believe that this is the way. They live as righteous as they can. The lamp they carry is the Law of Moses and they try to celebrate and share this as much as they possibly can. In fact you can become a Jew if you want to. They are looking for new converts all the time. They are also looking for the bridegroom to come. You see Israel believes that the Messiah has never come. So they are also looking for his appearing. They also to this day believe that he has delayed his coming.
The five wise virgins represent the Jewish people who were following Jesus at that time. This also includes the Church, both Jew and Gentile across the earth today. The lamp that we carry is the New Covenant, or the New Testament that Jesus has given to us. This lamp is now the light of the World. We call it the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we witness or share this Gospel we become a city set on a hill for all men to see. When the bridegroom comes this is the people who will be ready to meet him. Just like Israel we are looking for the Messiah, the only difference is that it is his second coming, not his first.
When the veil of the temple was rent the Spirit of God left. But, I believe that God gave Israel a period of forty years to repent and accept Jesus. Jesus told them that the Temple would be destroyed. In exactly 40 years from the time Jesus spoke those words the temple was destroyed and Jerusalem was captured. It was at this time that the oil ran out for the Old Covenant. I believe that God gave them this space before the oil would run out. Today they are carrying a lamp without oil.
The message in this parable is to show them and us the futility of trying to be saved through the Law of Moses. There is only one covenant that will save us, and that is the New Covenant of faith in Jesus through his blood and accomplishments at the cross. Paul said that the preaching of the cross was the power of God unto Salvation. There is absolutely no other way. We can all live right, be looking for the Messiah, but if we are not in the New Covenant through faith in Jesus we will be lost.
The extra oil in the lamp of the Church is the fact that the New Covenant is eternal. He said that the Holy Ghost would abide with us forever. The oil in our lamps will never run out as long as we are truly looking for Jesus to come.
The foolish virgins went to the wise virgins trying to get them to share their oil. The problem with this was that the wise were unable to do this. All they could do was point the way to those who could. Go to the sellers. It is symbolic of us preaching the Gospel. All we can do is tell others where to go to get it. Isaiah said it like this.
Isa: 55:1: Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
We cannot give someone else the Holy Spirit. Only God can do that. So it is necessary for those who are trying to make it to heaven any other way to go to Jesus to get the oil. The message is to get the oil of salvation from Jesus so that you can be saved. How do we buy it? With our faith! Believing enough to come to him and ask.
The Gentile Church needs to have a heart towards Israel and give them the Gospel so that they will not be rejected when Jesus comes. It is up to us to make the difference. God has placed this ministry in our hands. Paul told us in the 11th Chapter of Romans that God had placed Israel in blindness so that he could have mercy on us. He did it this way so that through our mercy they would find mercy. What he was saying was this. God put Israel in blindness so that we could be saved. His plan is that after we have been saved we would in turn give them the Gospel and then they will be saved. It is his perfect will for this to happen.
I hope that you have enjoyed this teaching. If you have please share it with someone you love.
God bless you.
Staff Note: I feel to share a few thoughts about this parable of the 10 Virgins. I believe brother Tommy has done an excellent job in explaining what he has explained in this writing about his thoughts on this parable. Nevertheless - I personally believe there is another revelation God wants Christians receiving about this parable. The Bible talks about "a great falling away" prior to the manifestation of the anti-christ, as God addresses in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12. Falling away from WHAT? Falling away from walking in obedience to God's New Testament Word. More and more as each year passes, Christians in many parts of the world are walking in greater carnality -- greater sin. They know that God forgives their sin when they ask forgiveness for it, and that's where more and more are STOPPING. God wants us being forgiven for our sin ... but he ALSO wants us getting victory over our temptations ... not endlessly giving into them. Carnal Christians are sleeping with other carnal Christians out of wedlock just as frequently as non-Christians are. Carnal Christian marriages are coming apart as frequently as non-Christian marriages are. Christians are to be a spiritual LIGHT to the unsaved world on Christ's behalf ... not a burned out light bulb.
God the Father forgives sin through Jesus Christ for those who belong to Jesus Christ. But it has never been, nor will it ever, be God's nature to BLESS our sinful acts. Repetitive sin tends to motivate God to start withholding his blessings upon Christians who continue to keep sinning.
And BECAUSE God's tendency is to not bless ongoing sin ... I believe God is giving a sobering warning to end-time Christians in this parable of the 10 Virgins. I believe He's essentially warning Christians that if they do not work CLOSELY with the Holy Spirit (oil) to put to death strongholds of sin in their life ... God may well let stubborn, carnal Christians go through some tribulation down here on earth that other Christians will be kept from (See: Revelation 3:10 as to my reasoning, which addresses a "trial that is coming upon the whole earth"), because they worked diligently with the Holy Spirit to walk in obedience to God in every way the New Covenant desires that they walk in. This does not imply that they somehow attained "sinless perfection" -- it simply means that they got much more serious than in the past about working with the Holy Spirit to make it their DAILY purpose for living: To strive diligently to walk in 100% obedience to God.
The parable of the 10 virgins is given in Matthew chapter 25, right? How does Matthew chapter 24 close out? It is addressing issues of OBEDIENCE.
In Matthew chapter 25, FOLLOWING the parable of the 10 virgins, what is God addressing? OBEDIENCE. Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
A bit unrelated ... this "trial that is coming upon the whole earth" addressed in Revelation 3:10 -- it has been in my spirit for quite some time that this "trial" may very well be about economics -- about finances and conducting financial commerce. I believe it is very possible that in the name of "Peace" and "Safety" ... certain superpowers may get together and decide to come up with a means of "buying and selling" that will ultimately ALL go through computers. Digital money, essentially. After that - though it most likely would take some time - people will be given (perhaps voluntarily, in the initial stages) a unique number, and through that unique number, the powers that control will be able to monitor EVERY financial transaction a person makes. Whether quickly or slowly in implementation, the time will come where NO ONE will be able to buy or sell without using this system, the assumption goes.
The more economic turbulence, fear and uncertainty this world faces, the easier it will be for the anti-christ folks to implement Satan's plan to control global finances ... which then means he can more easily control people, as Revelation 13:17 speaks of.
Thus, this is what I feel could very well be the coming "trial that is to come upon the whole earth" that is being spoken of in Revelation 3:10. It may well involve more than just a financial trial, I realize. It may also include severe mental depression. And/or it might be that our waters become poisoned, yet God will enable Christians to not be harmed by it. Whatever the "trial" will fully encompass, God promises to those who will be walking in obedience at that time -- they will be KEPT from this hour of trial. Again - the word OBEDIENCE comes to the forefront, doesn't it?
-- Norm Rasmussen, Director, Precious
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