The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Mike Johnson

 The “Parable of the Ten Virgins” is recorded in Matthew 25:1-13.  The passage says that there were ten virgins who were waiting for the return of a bridegroom.  He was delayed in coming, and the result was that five of the virgins, who were referred to as foolish, ran out of oil for their lamps and had to go and get some more.  In the mean time, the wedding party arrived.  The five wise virgins, who had enough oil in their lamps and who had remained, were allowed to go in.  Later, when the foolish virgins returned, they were not allowed to enter.  Jesus applies the parable in verse 13 as he says, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the son of man cometh.”

The Marriage Feast

 The events surrounding weddings during Bible times were obviously different from what we are familiar with.  McGarvey, in his commentary on Matthew and Mark, points out, “According to Jewish custom the bridegroom went to the house of his father-in-law to receive his bride, leaving at his own house a company of virgins, who were to come out with lanterns and torches to meet him on his arrival, and to escort him into the house.”  Our parable appears to be in accord with Jewish custom as the ten virgins were waiting for the return of the bridegroom and the wedding party.  The problem was that five of them did not bring enough oil.  The apparently felt that the bridegroom would not be delayed, and had not made proper provisions for a delay.  The five wise virgins knew that the time was uncertain, and they furnished themselves with enough oil to last.

 The Second Coming

 The application of this parable is very clear.  Again, Jesus said in verse 13, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”  It is certain that the second coming of Christ will occur.  The apostles were told this immediately after Jesus ascended to heaven by two men in white apparel.  Acts 1:11 says, “. . . ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” The uncertain part about the return of Christ concerns the question of WHEN.  This parable and other teaching show that we do not know when Christ will return.  His return will be as a “thief in the night.”  II Peter 3:10 says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. . . .” This same idea is expressed in I Thessalonians 5:2.  We do not know when a thief will come; he comes at an unexpected time.  Similarly, we do not know when Christ will return; we do not know the day or the hour.  Many, unsuccessfully, have tried to predict the second coming of Christ even though the Scriptures teach us that the time of his return cannot be known.


 Since we do not know when Christ will return, it is even more important for us to be always prepared for the return.  The problem with the foolish virgins was that they were not properly prepared.  Matthew 24:42-44 says, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.  But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.  Therefore, be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the son of man cometh.”  Since we do not know when Christ will return, we must always be ready.

II Peter 3 discussed the second coming of Christ, and the behavior which should result.  Verse 11 says, “Seeing then what all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”  Verse 14 says, “Wherefore, beloved seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless.”

 The Closed Door

Since the foolish virgins were not prepared, they were not allowed to enter.  They came and found the door shut.  They were told when they asked to enter, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.”  They were rejected.  This expresses a picture concerning the fate of unprepared individuals on the Judgment Day.  Concerning such people Christ wills say,  . . . I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”  We should all strive to be prepared as the wise virgins were.  The Judgment could happen at any time. Are you ready for it?