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Matthew 25 Parable of the 10 Virgins

Posted by Ez1 Realty on April 29, 2009

Jesus teaches parables sower, 10 virgins,

The Bible becomes an easy book to understand once you learn to use techniques Jesus taught. This book explains how Jesus taught in simple terms a child can understand.

KJV 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.

10 virgins

10 virgins

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.

Often times a Bible study consists of explaining it in one’s own words. Does this one step process provide proper respect required by the word of God? In the process of a simple word study this is only the first step, following prayer.

In this parable spoken by Jesus, the kingdom of Heaven is compared to ten virgins, each taking a lamp and going out to meet the bridegroom. The first verse contains three key words easily identified. A virgin is recognized as a spiritual word. By definition a virgin is an unmarried woman. Some people claim a virgin represents a church. Are there Biblical texts to support this interpretation? Does a church going out to meet the bridegroom fit the context of this parable? All ten of these virgins are carrying lamps. At the time this parable was written, a lamp consisted of a vessel carrying oil and a wick that was lit to provide light.

Five of the virgins were wise and five were foolish. The foolish took their lamps but didn’t bring any oil. This parable is often interpreted with the wise virgins carrying additional oil in a separate container. This may be true. It may also be true the wise virgins carried lamps full of oil while the foolish forgot to check their lamps to see if they contained oil.

While the bridegroom was late in arriving, all ten virgins slept. Not only the foolish but the wise. At midnight a cry or alarm went out announcing the arrival of the bridegroom. All ten virgins heard this announcement and responded to it. As the ten virgins awoke in the darkness of midnight, they trimmed or prepared to light their lamps. Verse 8 contains a series of words that may be interpreted differently than what is written in the KJV. The foolish asked the wise for oil because their lamps were going out. Based on the definition given in the Concordance this may be a more accurate interpretation, which supports the theory, the vessel refers to the body of the lamp and not a separate container.

The wise virgins did not have oil to spare but told the foolish to go to the market and buy oil for themselves. This is where the story introduces spiritual concepts difficult to explain. Why did the five wise virgins tell the foolish to leave? Why did they tell them to buy oil? The only physical aspect that may suggest a reasonable explanation is, the five wise virgins would have to put their lamps out before pouring oil from one lamp to another. Transferring physical oil from a lit lamp may cause a fire. Is there spiritual information supporting this theory?

While the five foolish went to buy oil the five wise entered into the marriage feast and the door was shut. When the five foolish arrived they were turned away. This parable also tells us to watch for the Son of man. By this we are shown the bridegroom represents Jesus, the marriage represents His return. We are not told if the foolish virgins returned with or without oil. Regardless, they were turned away.

As previously mentioned, this is the point most Bible studies end. In a simple word study this is only the beginning of a study. Next we will identify the key words. In this parable the key words are; virgin, lamp. Bridegroom, oil, vessel, and door. The parable may also contain other key words. Each of these keys words will be interpreted using other texts to find a spiritual meaning. The simple word study uses nothing but the Bible to interpret the Bible. See the page titled, “Seven Steps to Doing Your Own Bible Studies” for detailed steps.


KJV Isaiah 37:22. This is the word which the Lord hath spoken concerning him; The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee. 23. Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.

KJV Jeremiah 31:3. The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. 4. Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.

KJV Amos 5:1. Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel. 2. The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up.

KJV Revelation 14:4. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

A virgin spiritually represents a daughter of Zion, Israel and those that follow the Lamb, or Christ. A virgin represents people following Christ. A detailed study of the word Zion will provide a much deeper spiritual meaning than those usually provided.

Virgin = a follower of Christ.


KJV Numbers 8:2. Speak unto Aaron and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the




KJV 2 Samuel 22:29. For thou art my lamp, O Lord: and the Lord will lighten my darkness.

KJV Psalms 119:105. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

KJV Proverbs 6:23. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

KJV Psalms 119:129. Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. 130. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

KJV Isaiah 8:20. To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

A lamp is used to provide light. The Bible compares the word lamp to the Lord, His words and commandments. The light given by the lamp is also compared to God’s word, law and testimony.

Lamp = God’s word and law.


KJV Isaiah 62:5. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.

KJV Luke 5:33. And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? 34. And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? 35. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.

KJV John 3:28. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30. He must increase, but I must decrease.

Isaiah compares God to a bridegroom. Luke and John identify Jesus as the bridegroom.

Bridegroom = Jesus.


KJV Exodus 25:6. Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,

KJV Exodus 27:20. And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.

KJV Exodus 35:14. The candlestick also for the light, and his furniture, and his lamps, with the oil for the light,

KJV Leviticus 24:2. Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.

KJV Psalms 45:7. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

KJV Hebrews 1:9. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

KJV Isaiah 61:3. To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

Oil is one of the few words with a dual meaning requiring additional consideration. Although key words often contain more than one meaning, words containing two meanings usually contain opposite meanings. One applies to God and the positive aspects of good. The other may apply to Satan and other references to evil. The context of the verse will indicate which spiritual application conforms to the proper interpretation.

In this case oil has two spiritual meanings complementing one another. Oil is for light. This is true in both the physical and spiritual application. If we applied the spiritual application of light to oil we see oil can represent God’s word and law. The verses above also show oil represents gladness and joy. For those dedicated to studying the words of God and His law, the connection with joy is easy to understand. When we gather all the key words and paraphrase the parable we can see how the two spiritual interpretations of oil pertain to the ten virgins.

Oil = light = God’s word and law.


KJV Psalms 2:9. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

KJV Psalms 31:12. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

KJV Jeremiah 25:34. Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel.

KJV Jeremiah 51:34. Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me, he hath crushed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out.

KJV Hosea 8:8. Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure.

KJV Acts 9:15. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

KJV 2 Timothy 2:21. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

The Bible uses the word vessel to symbolize a person.

Vessel = a person.

Slept or Sleep

KJV Daniel 12:2. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

KJV 1 Kings 11:43. And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father: and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead.

KJV Psalms 13:3. Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

KJV Matthew 27:52. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

KJV Ephesians 5:14. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

Sleep can represent death.

KJV Isaiah 29:10. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. 11. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:

KJV Isaiah 56:10. His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. 11. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.

KJV 1 Corinthians 11:30. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

KJV 1 Thessalonians 5:5. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

KJV Romans 13:11. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Sleep also represents a lack of understanding.

Slept or Sleep = death and a lack of understanding.


KJV Genesis 4:7. If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

KJV Exodus 12:7. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

KJV Exodus 12:23. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

KJV Exodus 29:11. And thou shalt kill the bullock before the Lord, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

KJV Exodus 29:32. And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

KJV Exodus 29:42. This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee.

KJV Exodus 33:9. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.

KJV Deuteronomy 11:18. Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. 19. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 20. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:

KJV Deuteronomy 15:17. Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise.

KJV Acts 14:27. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

KJV 1 Corinthians 16:9

9. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

KJV 2 Corinthians 2:12

12. Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,

KJV Colossians 4:3

3. Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

KJV Revelation 3:8

8. I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

KJV Revelation 3:20

20. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

KJV Revelation 4:1-2

1. After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold

A door can represent many things. Sin and death can lie at the door. During the Passover, the blood from a lamb was sprinkled upon the top and sides of the door posts as a sign. Upon seeing the blood on the door posts the destroying angel would passover the house.

God instructed the priests to conduct sacrifices at the door of the tabernacle. This is also where the priests ate their meals. God chose to appear to Moses at the door of the tabernacle.

When a person chose to remain a slave for life, the owner would pierce the ear on the door post. The door posts is also the location people wrote God’s law upon their homes.

An open door is used to represent the opportunities God gives us. It also represents a person opening their heart to Jesus. A door can represent many things to many people. At times the meaning may depend upon which side of the door you are on.

Door = sin, death, self imposed slavery, sacrifice, opportunity, God’s law, the presence of God, Jesus and life.

Now that the key words have been studied and the spiritual interpretations provided by the Bible, a chart will make it easier to paraphrase the parable of the virgins.

Virgin = a follower of Christ.

Lamp = God’s word and law.

Bridegroom = Jesus.

Oil = light = God’s word and law.

Vessel = a person.

Sleep = death and a lack of understanding.

Door = sin, death, self imposed slavery, sacrifice, opportunity, God’s law, the presence of God and Jesus and life.

KJV Matthew 25:1-9

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.

Paraphrase Matthew 25:1-9 substituting the spiritual meaning for the physical key words.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like ten followers of Christ, which took the word of God, and went to meet Christ. Five of them were wise and five were foolish. The foolish knew the word of God but not His law. The wise had the law of God in themselves with the word of God. While Christ was late in coming, they all had a lack of understanding. At midnight there was a cry made, Christ is coming, go out to meet Him. All the followers of Christ arose and studied the word of God. The foolish said unto the wise, give us your law, because our words have gone out. But the wise said, not so because there will not be enough for us and you. But rather go to them that sell and buy for yourselves.

Oil and lamp each have two possible interpretations. Matthew 25:1-9 can be paraphrased using the alternative interpretations.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like ten followers of Christ, who took the word of God, and went to meet Christ. Five of them were wise and five were foolish. The foolish knew the law of God but not His word. The wise had the word of God within themselves with the law of God. While Christ was late in coming, they all had a lack of understanding. At midnight a cry was made, Christ is coming, go out to meet Him. All the followers of Christ arose and studied the law of God. The foolish said unto the wise, give us your words, because our law has gone out. But the wise said, not so because there will not be enough for us and you, but rather go to them that sell and buy for yourselves.

The second paraphrase can be proven with verses from the New Testament.

KJV Matthew 9:11. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 12. But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.

KJV Matthew 12:1. At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat. 2. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day.

KJV Matthew 12:14. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.

KJV Matthew 15:1. Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 2. Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

KJV Matthew 19:3. The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

The Pharisees took pride in knowing the law. They questioned Jesus time and time again on points concerning the law and how they viewed it. They had expected to find a savior who appreciated the methods they used in keeping the law and using the law to keep people in line. They looked for a savior ready to reward them for the job they were doing, telling others how to keep the law.

Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. KJV Matthew 16:6, 12

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. KJV Matthew 23:1-4, 13, 23, 27, 28.

The Pharisees are an example of one group putting too much emphasis on the law while having little regard for other aspects of the word. This example shows how dangerous an imbalance can be. The Pharisees believed in God. They followed after God, sacrificed to Him, read His word and conducted all of the required services. Jesus clearly points out, this is not enough.

As mentioned earlier, there are two spiritual meanings to the words lamp and oil. They are the word of God and His law. Does it matter which the foolish virgins were missing? The fact of the matter is, the wise had both, the lamp and the oil, the word and the law.

As we look at the remaining verses of the parable of the ten virgins we see the result of a lack of either the word or the law.

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.

To paraphrase this text.

And while they went to buy, Christ came; and they who were ready went in with Him to the marriage: and the opportunity was shut. Afterward came the other followers of Christ, saying, Lord open to us. But He answered and said verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

KJV Matthew 5:18. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Ellen White has an interesting comment in her book, Christ’s Object Lessons about this parable based on the interpretation of the oil representing the Holy Spirit. She also does an outstanding job of explaining her findings, supplying supporting text for the spiritual words along with and extraordinary explanation on the spiritual meaning of the parable.

Christ with His disciples is seated upon the Mount of Olives. The sun has set behind the mountains, and the heavens are curtained with the shades of evening. In full view is a dwelling house lighted up brilliantly as if for some festive scene. The light streams from the openings, and an expectant company wait around, indicating that a marriage procession is soon to appear. In many parts of the East, wedding festivities are held in the evening. The bridegroom goes forth to meet his bride and bring her to his home. By torchlight the bridal party proceed from her father’s house to his own, where a feast is provided for the invited guests. In the scene upon which Christ looks, a company are awaiting the appearance of the bridal party, intending to join the procession. {COL 405.1}

Lingering near the bride’s house are ten young women robed in white. Each carries a lighted lamp and a small flagon for oil. All are anxiously watching for the appearance of the bridegroom. But there is a delay. Hour after hour passes; the watchers become weary and fall asleep. At midnight the cry is heard, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” The sleepers, suddenly awaking, spring to their feet. They see the procession moving on, bright with torches and glad with music. They hear the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. The ten maidens seize their lamps and begin to trim them, in haste to go forth. But five have neglected to fill their flasks with oil. They did not anticipate so long a delay, and they have not prepared for the emergency. In distress they appeal to their wiser companions saying, “Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out.” (Margin.) But the waiting five, with their freshly trimmed lamps, have emptied their flagons. They have no oil to spare, and they answer, “Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.” {COL 405.2}

While they went to buy, the procession moved on, and left them behind. The five with lighted lamps joined the throng and entered the house with the bridal train, and the door was shut. When the foolish virgins reached the banqueting hall, they received an unexpected denial. The master of the feast declared, “I know you not.” They were left standing without, in the empty street, in the blackness of the night. {COL 406.1}

As Christ sat looking upon the party that waited for the bridegroom, He told His disciples the story of the ten virgins, by their experience illustrating the experience of the church that shall live just before His second coming. {COL 406.2}

The two classes of watchers represent the two classes who profess to be waiting for their Lord. They are called virgins because they profess a pure faith. By the lamps is represented the word of God. The psalmist says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto may path.” Ps. 119:105. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Thus the Spirit is represented in the prophecy of Zechariah. “The angel that talked with me came again,” he says, “and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, and said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof; and two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? . . . Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. . . . And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? . . . Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.” Zech. 4:1-14. {COL 406.3}

From the two olive trees the golden oil was emptied through the golden pipes into the bowl of the candlestick, and thence into the golden lamps that gave light to the sanctuary. So from the holy ones that stand in God’s presence His Spirit is imparted to the human instrumentalities who are consecrated to His service. The mission of the two anointed ones is to communicate to God’s people that heavenly grace which alone can make His word a lamp to the feet and a light to the path. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Zech. 4:6. {COL 408.1}

In the parable, all the ten virgins went out to meet the bridegroom. All had lamps and vessels for oil. For a time there was seen no difference between them. So with the church that lives just before Christ’s second coming. All have a knowledge of the Scriptures. All have heard the message of Christ’s near approach, and confidently expect His appearing. But as in the parable, so it is now. A time of waiting intervenes, faith is tried; and when the cry is heard, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him,” many are unready. They have no oil in their vessels with their lamps. They are destitute of the Holy Spirit. {COL 408.2}

Without the Spirit of God a knowledge of His word is of no avail. The theory of truth, unaccompanied by the Holy Spirit, cannot quicken the soul or sanctify the heart. One may be familiar with the commands and promises of the Bible; but unless the Spirit of God sets the truth home, the character will not be transformed. Without the enlightenment of the Spirit, men will not be able to distinguish truth from error, and they will fall under the masterful temptations of Satan. {COL 408.3}

The class represented by the foolish virgins are not hypocrites. They have a regard for the truth, they have advocated the truth, they are attracted to those who believe the truth; but they have not yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit’s working. They have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, and permitted their old nature to be broken up. This class are represented also by the stony-ground hearers. They receive the word with readiness, but they fail of assimilating its principles. Its influence is not abiding. The Spirit works upon man’s heart, according to his desire and consent implanting in him a new nature; but the class represented by the foolish virgins have been content with a superficial work. They do not know God. They have not studied His character; they have not held communion with Him; therefore they do not know how to trust, how to look and live. Their service to God degenerates into a form. “They come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as My people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.” Eze. 33:31. The apostle Paul points out that this will be the special characteristic of those who live just before Christ’s second coming. He says, “In the last days perilous times shall come: for men shall be lovers of their own selves; . . . lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” 2 Tim. 3:1-5. {COL 411.1}

This is the class that in time of peril are found crying, Peace and safety. They lull their hearts into security, and dream not of danger. When startled from their lethargy, they discern their destitution, and entreat others to supply their lack; but in spiritual things no man can make up another’s deficiency. The grace of God has been freely offered to every soul. The message of the gospel has been heralded, “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Rev. 22:17. But character is not transferable. No man can believe for another. No man can receive the Spirit for another. No man can impart to another the character which is the fruit of the Spirit’s working. “Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it [the land], as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.” Eze. 14:20. {COL 411.2}

It is in a crisis that character is revealed. When the earnest voice proclaimed at midnight, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him,” and the sleeping virgins were roused from their slumbers, it was seen who had made preparation for the event. Both parties were taken unawares; but one was prepared for the emergency, and the other was found without preparation. So now, a sudden and unlooked-for calamity, something that brings the soul face to face with death, will show whether there is any real faith in the promises of God. It will show whether the soul is sustained by grace. The great final test comes at the close of human probation, when it will be too late for the soul’s need to be supplied. {COL 412.1}

The ten virgins are watching in the evening of this earth’s history. All claim to be Christians. All have a call, a name, a lamp, and all profess to be doing God’s service. All apparently wait for Christ’s appearing. But five are unready. Five will be found surprised, dismayed, outside the banquet hall. {COL 412.2}

At the final day, many will claim admission to Christ’s kingdom, saying, “We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets.” “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works?” But the answer is, “I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from Me.” Luke 13:26; Matt. 7:22; Luke 13:27. In this life they have not entered into fellowship with Christ; therefore they know not the language of heaven, they are strangers to its joy. “What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” 1 Cor. 2:11. {COL 412.3}

Saddest of all words that ever fell on mortal ear are those words of doom, “I know you not.” The fellowship of the Spirit, which you have slighted, could alone make you one with the joyous throng at the marriage feast. In that scene you cannot participate. Its light would fall on blinded eyes, its melody upon deaf ears. Its love and joy could awake no chord of gladness in the world-benumbed heart. You are shut out from heaven by your own unfitness for its companionship. {COL 413.1}

We cannot be ready to meet the Lord by waking when the cry is heard, “Behold, the Bridegroom!” and then gathering up our empty lamps to have them replenished. We cannot keep Christ apart from our lives here, and yet be fitted for His companionship in heaven. {COL 413.2}

In the parable the wise virgins had oil in their vessels with their lamps. Their light burned with undimmed flame through the night of watching. It helped to swell the illumination for the bridegroom’s honor. Shining out in the darkness, it helped to illuminate the way to the home of the bridegroom, to the marriage feast. {COL 414.1}

So the followers of Christ are to shed light into the darkness of the world. Through the Holy Spirit, God’s word is a light as it becomes a transforming power in the life of the receiver. By implanting in their hearts the principles of His word, the Holy Spirit develops in men the attributes of God. The light of His glory–His character–is to shine forth in His followers. Thus they are to glorify God, to lighten the path to the Bridegroom’s home, to the city of God, to the marriage supper of the Lamb. {COL 414.2}

The coming of the bridegroom was at midnight–the darkest hour. So the coming of Christ will take place in the darkest period of this earth’s history. The days of Noah and Lot pictured the condition of the world just before the coming of the Son of man. The Scriptures pointing forward to this time declare that Satan will work with all power and “with all deceivableness of unrighteousness.” 2 Thess. 2:9, 10. His working is plainly revealed by the rapidly increasing darkness, the multitudinous errors, heresies, and delusions of these last days. Not only is Satan leading the world captive, but his deceptions are leavening the professed churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. The great apostasy will develop into darkness deep as midnight, impenetrable as sackcloth of hair. To God’s people it will be a night of trial, a night of weeping, a night of persecution for the truth’s sake. But out of that night of darkness God’s light will shine. {COL 414.3}

He causes “the light to shine out of darkness.” 2 Cor. 4:6. When “the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.” Gen. 1: 2, 3. So in the night of spiritual darkness, God’s word goes forth, “Let there be light.” To His people He says, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” Isa. 60:1. {COL 415.1}

“Behold,” says the Scripture, “the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.” Isa. 60:2. {COL 415.2}

It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power. His character is to be made known. Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy, and truth. {COL 415.3}

This is the work outlined by the prophet Isaiah in the words, “O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.” Isa. 40:9,10. {COL 415.4}

Those who wait for the Bridegroom’s coming are to say to the people, “Behold your God.” The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them. {COL 415.5}

The light of the Sun of Righteousness is to shine forth in good works–in words of truth and deeds of holiness. {COL 416.1}

Christ, the outshining of the Father’s glory, came to the world as its light. He came to represent God to men, and of Him it is written that He was anointed “with the Holy Ghost and with power,” and “went about doing good.” Acts 10:38. In the synagogue at Nazareth He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18, 19. This was the work He commissioned His disciples to do. “Ye are the light of the world,” He said. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 5:14, 16. {COL 416.2}

There is another interesting comment by Ellen White regarding the ten virgins. It is a popular belief a bride represents the church. While studying the parable of the ten virgins the question arises. How can the virgins represent the bride and the bride’s maids or guests? Ellen White explains the answer to this question in her book The Great Controversy.

In the summer and autumn of 1844, the proclamation, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh,” was given. The two classes represented by the wise and foolish virgins were then developed,–one class who looked with joy to the Lord’s appearing, and who had been diligently preparing to meet him; another class that, influenced by fear, and acting from impulse, had been satisfied with a theory of the truth, but were destitute of the grace of God. In the parable, when the bridegroom came, “they that were ready went in with him to the marriage.” The coming of the bridegroom, here brought to view, takes place before the marriage. The marriage represents the reception by Christ of his kingdom. The holy city, the New Jerusalem, which is the capital and representative of the kingdom, is called “the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” Said the angel to John, “Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” “He carried me away in the spirit,” says the prophet, “and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God.” [REV. 21:9, 10.] Clearly, then, the bride represents the holy city, and the virgins that go out to meet the bridegroom are a symbol of the church. In the Revelation the people of God are said to be the guests at the marriage supper. [REV. 19:9.] If guests, they cannot be represented also as the bride. Christ, as stated by the prophet Daniel, will receive from the Ancient of days in Heaven, “dominion, and glory, and a kingdom,” he will receive the New Jerusalem, the capital of his kingdom, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” [DAN. 7:14; REV. 21:2.] Having received the kingdom, he will come in his glory, as King of kings, and Lord of lords, for the redemption of his people, who are to “sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob,” at his table in his kingdom, [MATT. 8:11; LUKE 22:30.] to partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb. {GC88 426.2}

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19 Responses to “Matthew 25 Parable of the 10 Virgins”

  1. adventbiblestudy said

    There may be one more interpretation to this parable. Since the lamp and oil can both represent the word of God, this may be a consideration.

    All ten virgins carried a lamp, the word of God. Only five had oil, also the word of God. Since the only accurate way to interpret the word of God is to use the word of God, this would indicate the five foolish virgins had the word of God, but did not use it to interpret His word.

    This parable clearly indicates the present condition of the churches today. Many rely on their own imaginations, history, commentaries, tradition and a host of other materials to explain the God’s word. These are represented by the five foolish virgins.

    The five wise have the word of God and rely upon the word of God to interpret it.


    • WILDA said

      How did we become virgins, When Jesus hung on the cross his blood cleanced us all the whole world, His blood covered us he made us whole. The five that were wise, believed that Jesus did what he said he did fulfilled the law,took it out of our way so making peace between man and God and studying the word of God rightly dividing the word of truth. The five that were unwise, these are they that went about establishing their own rightousness, by dead works denying the very work that Jesus did on the cross. These did not take the time to study the word and try to seek out the truth, And sure when they get hunger or thirsty for some Bread from heaven I mean spirtual bread, they are going to go to the one with the word of God. But it will be too late. Don’t you know that you won’t be able to buy or sell. I mean the word of God no one wants to hear the truth.



    • Olivia C said

      I believe that the Oil represent the Holy spirit as the lamp represent the word of God the oil cant represent again the word but the Holy spirit. the 5 wise virgin couldn’t share their oil as it is was their experience they have with God through the Holy spirit and faith.


      • adventbiblestudy said

        That’s why we have to let the Bible explain what spiritual words represent. There are spiritual words the world has put hundreds of different meanings on. Many of those interpretations are the cause of some of the worse divisions we see today. Its simple. The world causes division while God’s word should only bring unity. Another point to keep in mind when studying the Bible is context. Like many words have multiple meanings — God’s Word can have more than one meaning. That’s why we have to learn to study in context….. Look at the words lion. Another is serpent. Do they always represent the 1st thing that pops into your head? Context is the key to correctly understanding.


  2. John said

    We purify our souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit. The truth is the Word of God. As we obey the more sure word of prophecy, the Spirit is given to them that obey and soon the Day Star arises in our hearts. As we look into the perfect law of liberty and continue in it, oil is poured continually into our lamps/spirits and we are ready. As we listen to God, obey His Word and law of righteousness on our heart, He manifests Himself to us. As we keep Jesus as our first love, seeking first His kingdom and righteousness, our candlestick remains in place: we are wise virgins.


  3. Rita said

    wow john very well said. i was just going to say this parable speaks to me:
    faith – works = dead faith
    works – faith = dead faith
    one must have BOTH. we must trust in and obey GOD/Jesus in order to be saved.

    we see the virgins all have lamps, all believe their Lord is coming, all are awaiting their Lord’s coming = they all have faith, they believe in Him. now if all 10 believe in Him, then the doomed 5 are not following Him. that’s all it could be. there’s only Trust & Obedience on our part. Jesus says trust Him and follow Him. they have not been obeying the Holy Spirit. they are hearers of the word only, not doers thus, they have produced no good fruit. faith without works is dead. this is dead faith says the bible.
    on the flip-side we can also see them as people who associate themselves with the other believers, likely going to the same church, singing in the same choir, donating at the same canfood drive etc = so one could say they are going through the motions; “playing church”, appear to be showing good works but we see Jesus does not know them! their works were not for Jesus. their works were maybe for vanity, to impress man, but not to serve or glorify GOD. you must have the Son. without faith it is impossible to please GOD. they had no personal relationship with GOD/Jesus and this is dead faith says the bible.

    thus, faith + works = saving faith


  4. adventbiblestudy said

    To learn more about this and other Bible Study methods, visit this post:


  5. ariadne demetrius said

    moving studied wth my three daughters and found this to be spiritual poetry drenched in the Spirit Praise the Lord it is good to be blessed with a study such as this step by step into unchartered treasures of the soul. Blessed be, in His grace, Ariadne Paisley Penelope and Pandora


    • adventbiblestudy said

      I have a new study I hope to check and post soon. It looks at the parable from the view of a traditional Jewish wedding. I was surprised how it told all the details of Jesus’ return.


      • Judy said

        Have you posted this study yet? I am in the midst of this precise study, during which I came to many of the same (non-traditional) conclusions you did here, as far as this article takes it. I and would love to see your follow-up study!


      • adventbiblestudy said

        Thanks. Just noticed I had not posted them. They are on now.


  6. Nnachor Chukwudi Sunday said

    I bless God, for his word never change. I want to also look at this parable of 10 virgin from Romans 10:2 where apostle Paul commended the zealousness of his people the Jews and he concluded that their zeal was not according to the knowledge of God, from this passage I can say that the oil here represents the knowledge of God. Presently in the church many are working for God without having the knowledge of who is, they follow up in everything but not prepared.


    • adventbiblestudy said

      The Bible does reveal a spiritual meaning to the word oil. It is a difficult study, but can be done. You should try it. let the Spirit lead you.


  7. kc said

    who made the loud cry to awake the saints


    • adventbiblestudy said

      Good question. I looked at this in another study. The Bible does not tells us, but we know it was not the virgins. I think this refers back to the previous parables Jesus taught in which all the characters had no interest in the preparation. Symbols showing the world is sleeping while the Spirit is preparing the harvest.


  8. Jerry said

    Please read “The Present Truth” by James White Vol 1 No.6 Dec 1849….this is the correct understanding of Matt 25 remember the light of the midnight cry!! from the Daystar visions…peace and frankincense!


    • adventbiblestudy said

      You have to remember, James White wrote what he was given and what he could understands at the time. Much of his works points to details coming clearer in our day. The one thing I like about the studies complied by James White and others in his day is the fact they knew they only saw through a crack on the door. Their studies often pointed out the fact their writing was complete only to the best of their knowledge at the time. They mentioned that fact often Something we fail to hear these days. As a matter of fact, we hear less than 10% of the information from those studies from over 150 years ago and sad to see, no one gives the proper credit to the authors any longer.


  9. Jerry said

    notice his statement…”…the coming of the bridegroom, and Christ’s second appearing, are two distinct and separate events.”…also in the section Who has left the sure word? …”Once, the whole advent host believed that the parable of the ten virgins applied exculsively to the advent movement; and that the first going forth, in the parable, was fulfilled in us, as we came up to the specified time; and that the cry in the parable,….were also fulfulled by us, as we gave the seventh month cry…..James White…..a humble watchman email:


    • adventbiblestudy said

      Sad to see the message for the most part has been lost and replaced by matters deemed far more important by committee. Once I finished a study on the series of parable Jesus taught in the courtyard, the common thread became evident. After discussing this I was shown a book written over 150 years ago. They knew the mission and theme of exactly what Jesus taught, but it has been covered up, put on a shelf to be forgotten and the commission is not being accomplished.


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