The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

“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.” – Matthew 25:1-13.

Bridegroom was delayed. — This may refer to the delay of Jesus’ return. Matthew 24:14 and 43-44 also imply a delay between the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Coming. This delay surprised the early church, yet the concept was implicit in Jesus’ teachings and Paul’s (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2).

The Ten — Jesus continues to tell parables concerning the second coming and His kingdom. At a wedding, ten bridesmaids are to await the coming of the bridegroom and to be ready for it. Five have their lamps trimmed and are ready with extra oil. Five are foolish and are not ready. As the bridegroom delays, they all doze off. The bridegroom comes at midnight. They all wake up! The wise ones enter in with the bridegroom and the door closes. The foolish maidens are found lacking in their preparation and are shut out. In the same way, Jesus tells His disciples to watch because no one knows the day or the hour when He will be coming again.

The delay of Christ’s return distinguishes the wise from the foolish. Being ready means being prepared for a long delay; short-lived zeal is inadequate. Preparedness is what separated the wise from the foolish.

Each person must prepare for himself in the kingdom! (v.9)

“I do not know you” (v.12) — Lack of preparation has eternal consequences.

“Watch” (v.13) — Always live in anticipation of the Lord’s return.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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