Matthew 25:1-17 – Parable of the Ten Virgins

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Perhaps this might be the most important message I’ve ever uploaded to YouTube? Over the years we’ve heard this parable taught by many Bible teachers. But often times the teacher places too much emphasis on Israel, the wedding, the bride, the groom, and/or their culture. When in fact many teachers failed to concentrate on the main purpose of this prophetic parable. Though a wedding is important, the marriage is far more important. But this parable is not a seminar for wedding coordinators. It’s about the Bridegroom (Christ) being married to His bride (the Church,) and His returning for her. Furthermore, Jesus warns of a large percentage of false converts. Moreover, He concludes with the demand and command to be “watchful.” So what does all this mean? How do we apply this parable to us in the 21st Century Church? For more about this important parable, watch and listen here.

My speaker notes, including all quotes given, can be seen below this video, on my web page via this link.

Recently I was having a conversation with my longtime friend Michael A. Baker. We were discussing how so many professing Christians are seemingly trusting or relying on their political parties, and elected politicians, over the Sovereignty of God.

Even many pastors across the heartland seemed to be more worried or troubled about the health of America, than they are the Lord’s church. And many of them demonstrated that in the last presidential election, even to the point of political idolatry.

It seems that a majority of todays ‘professing’ Biblical worldviews, are less and less Biblical, and more like the world.

Today, more and more ‘local’ churches are seemingly too worried about a loss of income, and pleasing their customers, than they are the loss of their own souls, and the salvation of lost souls out in this world.

The Barna Group reported that 51% of church goers have never heard of the ‘great commission.’ 25% said they’ve heard of it, but don’t understand what it means. 6% said “I’m not sure.” And 17% of them have heard of it, and do understand it.

But I submit to you, that a majority of those 17% that do understand it, do not Biblically demonstrate the great commission.

At least 95% of our local churches do not send out Heralds to preach the Gospel in their own streets. But rather instead they are simply inviting others to church.

And when they do sent out what they call “missionaries,” they send them out to play on the playground, rather than engage in spiritual warfare on the battle ground.

Regretfully I turned down an opportunity to go to Israel this June with a team of Heralds, to proclaim the glorious Gospel in the streets of Israel. Unlike the majority of ‘churches’ within America, this team demonstrates the great commission. But sadly approx. 95% of our churches do not.

As I stated in a blog post, “I cringe at the thought of the MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars that local churches within America raise each year, so that their sheep can go to Israel for nothing more than a learning experience, a paid vacation, and/or a gloried field trip. To do so without primarily sharing the Gospel, is self-serving and gratuitous. But the Bible does command Christians to go out and preach His glorious Gospel, and to make disciples, even be willing to lay down their lives for the cause of Christ.”

Paul Washer of HCMS said he’s been told by Christians in other Countries, to tell churches from America to “Quit sending missionaries” to their countries. Missionaries that do not put the ‘Gospel and Christ’ in the ‘front and center’ of their “missions” work.

Too many local churches, Christians, Pastors, and evangelists are creating false converts.

As my friend Michael A. Baker said regarding Americas Christendom, that we’re seeing “A spiritually drowsiness evident in the steep moral and cultural decline that even surpasses Sodom, Rome, Carthage, and Greece, that the visible Evangelical church has overseen since the Billy Graham’s era and the 60’s. If the “millions” that have professed Jesus as Lord and Savior over these decades in these and subsequent crusades had indeed been converted, the culture and caliber of our country would indeed be radically different… ~

“Yet the materialist, superficial, celebrity driven, comfortable entertainment oriented multi-billion dollar Evangelical Industrial complex, “seeker friendly” and largely devoid of orthodoxy – sanctification, holiness, true FEAR and reverence of the One who spoke the cosmos into existence – and humbled Himself to die on a cross for us, sooths the unrepentant and careless… in the midst of probably the biggest Sovereignly directed transition in world history since the Great Flood, if not the decline and fall of Rome.”

My friends, it is wrong to merely complain about a problem, without offering a solution to the problem. And that is why I share this parable of the ten virgins.

In this parable, the Lord Jesus gave statistics way before the Barna Group, as you will see in the following parable that 50% of these professing Christians were false converts.

After examining, studying, and experiencing the worsening ‘churchianity’ within America for so many years, I submit to you that the false conversion rate is now much higher than 50%.

Sadly the five unfaithful lost virgins represent a majority of people sitting inside church buildings today.

So let us examine this scathing warning from the Lord Jesus.

Jesus said in Matthew 25:1-13

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.”

Beginning with verse 1 Jesus said, “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.”

Jesus begins by saying “Then shall the kingdom of heaven…” He starts this way because He is continuing His former discourse, aka the Olivet Discourse.

These virgins represent the nominal church of Christ waiting for the coming of the Lord.

The ten virgins in this wedding party, looked the same externally, but internally, and eternally; they were nothing alike. More on that later.

However in the next verse, Jesus separates the sheep from the goats, the truly saved, from the false converts.

In Vs 2 Jesus declared “And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.”

Jesus said that 50% of these virgins (five of them) were “foolish,” meaning they were false converts.

This word foolish comes from the Greek word mōros, which means to be godless, impious, heedless, morally a blockhead.

It is the same foolish (or mōros) referring to the unsaved man, who built his house on the sand rather, than on a solid foundation (in Matt 7:26.)

Charles Spurgeon said the following about these five false converts.

Spurgeon said “Let us fain hope that we are not to gather from our Lord’s words that one half of the professing Church is composed of those whom he calls “foolish.” Yet our Saviour would not have spoken of so great a proportion, if there were not really a very large admixture of foolish professors, with the wise professors, of the grace of God.”

I could imagine what Spurgeon would say today, regarding the state of the ‘professing’ church within America. Surly it is far worse.

There are many false coverts today that have an intellectual belief, but their hearts are not regenerate.

Matthew Henry said this. “Sincere Christians are the wise virgins, and hypocrites the foolish ones. Those are the truly wise or foolish that are so in the affairs of their souls. Many have a lamp of profession in their hands, but have not, in their hearts, sound knowledge and settled resolution, which are needed to carry them through the services and trials of the present state. Their hearts are not stored with holy dispositions, by the new-creating Spirit of God. Our light must shine before men in good works; but this is not likely to be long done, unless there is a fixed, active principle in the heart, of faith in Christ, and love to God and our brethren.” [1]

As DA Carson said, “The wise and foolish virgins are true and false disciples, and the exclusion of the foolish virgins from the wedding feast represents the judgement of unbelievers on earth during the Day of the Lord, while believers participate in the heavenly “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:7-10).” [2]

Since 50% of these virgins were false converts, then could you imagine the percentage of false converts today, due to America’s postmodern easy believism, the acceptance gospel, and unbiblical soteriologies?

John Trapp said that they were “But of foolish virgins. That is, of profligate professors, that have no more than an outside, there are not a few, but more than a good many in all places.” [3]

Jesus said in Vs 3 “They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them.”

They were ‘pretenders’ with their lamps, but not true ‘practicers’ of Christianity. They were not faithful nor fruitful.

There lights were on, but nobody was home. Who does that? Who leaves the coming of the bridegroom at such a time? Not a true believer, not a true convert.

Spurgeon further commented “They make a profession of attachment to Christ, but they have not the inward supply of the Spirit of grace to keep it up.”

Vs 4 “But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”

The five wise virgins (the saved virgins) were always ready for the bridegroom (Christ). Because a conversion must accompany a professing convert.

The converted wise virgins not only took their lamps, but they took extra oil along with their lamps.

Imagine a police officer or a military soldier only taking a loaded firearm, but no extra rounds in additional magazines.

In one shooting I was in, I experienced hearing the ‘click’ when I should have heard a ‘bang.’ That is an awful sound to hear a click, when you hoped for a bang.

I could not imagine thinking that I was saved, but learn at the last moments of my life, that I had no oil.

These ‘wise’ five virgins (representing salvation), were prepared to meet Christ, they were prepared for His coming.
But the unwise virgins did not just run out of oil because they were unwise. But rather they had no oil because they were not saved in the first place.

As the Scriptures says in 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

In vs 5 it says “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.”

Dr. R.C. Sproul said “These details belong to the parables social setting and narrative movement. They should not be allegorized (even wise virgins sleep, and even foolish find oil to buy). Instead, the story makes a single point: when the bridegroom arrives, it will be too late to prepare to welcome Him.”

Jesus said the bridegroom (representing Himself) tarried, but why?

John Trapp laid-out five Biblical reasons.

  1. To exercise our patience
  2. To eneager our desires
  3. That His elect may be all gathered
  4. That the mystery of iniquity may be fulfilled
  5. That the prophecies may be accomplished, etcetera.”

While waiting for the bridegroom (Christ) all ten virgins “slumbered and slept” together.

Our buildings within America, that we wrongfully call church, are mixed with true converts and false converts. They look alike, they congregate together, and they sleep and slumber together.

Those many false converts have just enough oil in their lamps to look saved, but they’re not. It’s a greasy grace, but not a saving grace.

Today many local churches are asleep, many professing Christians are asleep.

Spurgeon said “In the case of even true believers, the delay in Christ’s coming causes disappointment, weariness, and lethargy; and his church falls fast asleep, when she ought to be watching for her Lord. As for the “foolish,” whether self-deceived or hypocrites, there being no true life of God in the soul, after a while their apparent earnestness disappears, and Satan drugs them into a fatal slumber.”  [6]

But oh my, here comes their wake up call.

It says in vs 6, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”

At midnight o’clock “there was a cry” made. This phrase “there was a cry” comes from the Greek word kraugē (krow-gay). It was used 6 times in the Scriptures, and it means an ‘outcry of tumult or grief, with clamour or crying.’

The ten virgins heard their wake-up call, the bridegroom has arrived, and they were summoned to go meet Him.

This is why when I Herald the Gospel in the streets, that my messages are not just for the lost. Though I am evangelizing the lost, while trusting the Lord for the results.

  • I am also ‘crying out’ to those saved, to be ready for the second coming of Christ.
  • I am ‘crying out’ to the foolish virgins out there
  • I am like Noah pleading to everyone to get onto the Arc.
  • I am like John being a voice in the wilderness, calling all men to repentance.
  • I am like Paul warning them to redeem their time wisely, and to walk circumspectly, to contend for the faith, and endure to the end.
  • I ‘cry-out’ to them to be ready to meet Him, either upon their death, or His return.

Verse 7 says “Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.”

All ten virgins awoke and rose from bed.

It was customary to be ‘lamp ready’ so that they could meet the bridegroom, and participate in this nighttime procession.

The lamps were important to illuminate the Bridegroom bringing the bride home. But this is not about a wedding, it is about Jesus Christ as the Bridegroom coming for His church (the bride of Christ).

To ‘trim the lamps’ means to clean their wicks, to light them, and to adjust the flames.

But five of their lamps were running out of oil. Consequently five of them could not meet the bridegroom, nor participate in what they were hoping and waiting for.

The five ‘foolish false converts’ were unwise, and unfaithful.

It says in verse 8, “And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.”

Their wicks became dry and they flickered to death. And so will their souls, without the Holy Spirit quickening and regenerating their hearts. It will be too late for oil, too late for salvation.

There are many ‘false coverts’ that have died and gone to hell, that thought they too had lamps. They professed with their lamps, but not their hearts, there wicks were dry.

As Spurgeon said, “It is worse to have a lamp that has gone out, than never to have a lamp at all.”

It would be better to never have been born, because there would be no soul in hellfire.

Jesus warned in Matthew 26:24, “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

These five false converts were not atheists that went to hell, they were given false promises of hope. They were giving a false sense of eternal security. This is why I will never tell a person that ‘responds to the Gospel call,’ that he is saved based on a mere profession of faith, lest I commit theological malpractice.

Perhaps it will be millions of foolish virgins that will perish in hell, because they were wrongfully told by Billy Graham (and others alike), that they were saved via his unbiblical soteriologies. How many of them will have lamps, but no oil?

Spurgeon said “Those who are putting off their repentance till their dying hour, are like these foolish virgins; their folly has reached its utmost height. When the death sweat lies cold on the brow, the neglected oil of grace will be valued. Then will come the despairing cry, “Send for a minister to pray for me; get in some Christian people to see what they can do for me.” [7]

Please understand this. There is no repentance without salvation. And there is no salvation without repentance. Repentance is not the ‘cause’ of salvation, repentance is ‘because’ of salvation.

Jesus tells us in the next verse how the wise virgins responded to the foolish virgins request.

Verse 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.”

These ‘five false converts’ asked the other five for some of their oil, but they were told no.

The saving grace that the Lord gives to His elect, is only enough for that one person, it is not enough to pass around. But what Christians can do while we’re still alive, is preach (or share) His glorious Gospel to them, and never comfort the lost in their sins.

The wise virgins told them to go buy their own oil.

The foolish virgin’s lamps were dead, their faith was dead. But the wise virgins had a saving faith that was made perfect in the end.

Oh what a terrible time to discover that their lamps were empty, and the other five faithful virgins could not help them.

To go out and try to buy oil at this time of the night, when the Bridegroom would arrive, was described by John Trapp as this.

“As if God should say to Papists, Go to your indulgencers, pardon-mongers, annealers; or to carnal gospellers, Go to your parasitical preachers, that have soothed you up in your sins (and ye loved to have it so). Or at the best, have shot off a few pop-guns only against gross sins, and licked you whole again presently with, I hope better things of you.” [8]

Though I disagree with John Wesley on some doctrines, I can appreciate his consistent emphasis on holiness.

As John Wesley said, “But the wise answered, Lest there be not enough for us and you! – Beginning the sentence with a beautiful abruptness; such as showed their surprise at the state of those poor wretches, who had so long received them, as well as their own souls. Lest there be not enough – It is sure there is not; for no man has more than holiness enough for himself. Go ye rather to them that sell – Without money and without price: that is, to God, to Christ. And buy – If ye can. O no! The time is past and returns no more!” [9]

Verse 10 says, “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.”

Verse 10a says “they went to buy.”

The lost five virgins ran out at the last minute to go buy more oil. They ran out to get what they previously thought they would not need, saving grace. But it was too late. Their lamps had just enough greasy grace to make them feel saved, but not enough saving grace.

Verse 10b says “the bridegroom came.”

While they were getting more oil, they missed the big moment, but it will be too late even after purchasing more oil.

Verse 10c says “and they that were ready, went in with him to the marriage.”

The five wise virgins that were truly saved, met the bridegroom, and participated in the celebration. They were ready, they were faithful in season and out of season.

But now we see the ‘eternal finality’ of all.

Verses 10d says “and the door was shut.”

If the many false converts inside these local churches died today, they would die without oil, they would die without salvation. Or, if Christ returned for His church today, they would be eternally lost.

When the door is shut, there are no more chances, there is no such thing as a purgatory, there is no more saving grace.

This door (thoo’-rah) is described in my Greek library as “the door of the kingdom of heaven (likened to a palace) denotes the conditions which must be complied with, in order to be received into the kingdom of God.”

My friends, the Bridegroom is the door.

Jesus said in John 10:9-16, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. >

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

This word ‘shut’ is the Greek word kleio (kli’-o), it is a verb which means ~

1) to shut up compassion, so that it is like a thing inaccessible to one, to be devoid of pity towards one.

2) to obstruct the entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

Later the foolish virgins (or false converts) returned with their oil, but it goes from bad to worse.

It’s too late to repent.

John Trapp said “Opportunity is headlong, and once lost, irrecoverable. It behoves us, therefore, to be abrupt in the work of repentance, Daniel 4:27, as a work of greatest haste; lest we cry out, as he once, “All too late, all too late;” or as a great lady of this land did lately upon her death bed, “Time, time! a world of wealth for an inch of time.” We want not time, so much as waste it. Remember that upon this moment depends eternity. God hath hanged the heaviest weights upon the weakest wires.” [10]

Jesus said in verses 11-12, “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.”

The virgins were never ready, because they were never born-again, they were mere ‘believers.’

Jesus also said these words to the “many” false converts in Matthew chapter 7.

In Matt 7:21-23 Jesus warned,

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Jesus said in Luke 13:25, “When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’”

Many professing Christians use the cliché “I know the Lord,” but what matters in the end, is does the Lord know you?

It says in 1 Corinthians 8:3, “But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.”

Jesus said in John 10:14, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”

These five foolish virgins did not truly bear His cross.

A.W. Pink said “In Luke 14:27 Christ declared, “And whoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.” So cross-bearing is not optional. The Christian life is far more than subscribing to a system of truths, or adopting a code of conduct – or submitting to religious ordinances.”

No doubt these five lost virgins were franticly pleading to Jesus to “open the door.” No doubt their souls or hearts were trying to future their repentance. But it is too late, the Lord never granted them repentance.

As I promised in my preface, that I would end with a ‘solution to this problem.’

Jesus said in the last verse, vs 13 “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

This word ‘watch’ is the Greek word grēgoreuō (gray-gor-yoo’-o). It is a verb, and it is a command. It means to keep awake, to be vigilant, to wake-up others, to be watchful.

My Greek Lexicon further describes it as ́ “to give strict attention to, to be cautious, active. To take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one.”

That is why you will find a ‘watchman tag’ on the front page of our web site.

Jesus is commanding Christians to be actively watchful, to be ready in and out of season, and to endure to the end.

You ask “what do we need to be watchful of?”

With some help from some of my FB friends, we need to be watchful of, including but not limited to.

We must be watchful of ~

  • Unrepented sin in the camp
  • Of false teachers
  • Of false teachings
  • Of false doctrines
  • Of false prophets
  • Of sinful compromise
  • Of those who tempt us with sin (and some are Christians)
  • Of those that try to violate your conscience, or abiding convictions
  • Of professing Christians that mock your growth in sanctification & holiness
  • Of wolves in sheep’s clothing
  • Of our own sins, and the need for continued repentance
  • Of heretics, and those that would maliciously call you a “heretic hunter”
  • Of those that wrongfully call you legalist, holier than thou, or self-righteous
  • Of the lukewarm (the Laodicea) that’s in every local church
  • Of the dead (the Sardis) that’s in every local church
  • Of the cold loveless doctrinarians (of Ephesus)
  • Of the compromising sexually immoral church (of Pergamos)
  • The Corrupt Church (of Thyatira)
  • Of pride and conceit
  • Of those that are watchful, but without prayer and humility
  • Of unbiblical evangelism
  • Of the return of Christ
  • Of the six things the Lord hates in Proverbs 6
  • Of religion
  • Of baptismal regeneration
  • Of those who have replaced their salt with sugar
  • Of sensuality, worldliness, or being like the world
  • Of those who slander you, by wrongfully calling you a “Pharisee” (the adulterous LAPD female partner)

Matthew Poole said this of being watchful ~

“This watchfulness we had interpreted by an opposition to sin, both of omission and of commission: taking heed of having our hearts overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares for this life, Luke xxi. 34, 36; taking head of smiting our fellow servants, eating and drinking with the drunken…” [11]

Lastly, not only do we need to be ‘watchful’ in these last days, we must RUN from things that are contrary to the Scriptures.

I’m going to close with a video of an excerpt of a sermon entitled “Run for your life” by Pastor Carter Conlon. He gave this sermon at Times Square Church in Manhattan, New York; immediately after the 9/11 attack.

[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the whole Bible (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), 194-195.

[2] D.A. Carson, New Bible Commentary (England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1953-1994), 1504

[3] John Trapp, Trapp’s Commentary on the New Testament (Michigan: Baker Book House, 1981) 253.

[4] Charles H. Spurgeon, The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishers, 1987) 319.

[5] Ibid., 360.

[6] Ibid., 361.

[7] Ibid., 362.

[8] John Trapp, Trapp’s Commentary on the New Testament (Michigan: Baker Book House, 1981) 254.

[9] John Wesley, Parable Commentary of the New Testament (Tennessee: AMG Publishers, 2003), 100.

[10] John Trapp, Trapp’s Commentary on the New Testament (Michigan: Baker Book House, 1981) 254.

[11] Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Bible, Vol. III, Virginia: MacDonald Publishing Company) 118.