The Parable of the Virgins
Five of them decided to plan ahead and fulfill their duty; the other five decided to let only the excitement be their guide, neglecting to plan out what they needed. They thought, why should we plan? We can just borrow it from the others. But, the others could not share or it would have ruined the wedding. Now, it comes down to us; where do we invest our lives-in Him or in what is foolish? When we are in Him, do we waste what He gives? We, as Christians, are His servants and we need to be productive and faithful as we wait for His return. If we wait in a foolish manner, we will miss our opportunities, attesting our foolishness (2 Tim. 4:8; Rev. 22:20). This parable is about the importance of being prudent and being prepared. The five virgins were not prepared to meet the bridegroom, as someone who does not know Christ as Lord and Savior will not be able to meet Him when He returns!
1. The general theme is to be prepared and take your responsibility seriously.
a. Bridesmaid or Virgins. Basically, they had the honor and duty of escorting the bride and groom around. They were responsible for preparing the bride for her marriage ceremony, called then, "to meet the bridegroom," just as today, and carry the ceremony under a canopy. Then, it was a much greater honor.
b. Not to be prepared, to miss their opportunity was unthinkable-a nightmare for most young women.
c. Lamps refers not to the classic small oil lamp, but, rather a torch on top of a staff with a wick soaked in olive oil, or a staff wrapped with a rag soaked in oil. The burnt ends of the rags were cut off (trimmed) and then the oil was added. Olive oil burns very slowly and is not as hot as petroleum.
d. Weddings were held in the evening, after a day of dancing and celebration, and torches were used to light the occasion and in a procession, leading the bride to the groom's house. The celebration lasted up to seven days; thus, the oil supply was one of the big responsibilities for the bridesmaids. Not to have enough oil for one night was very irresponsible, as it might be needed for a week or more!
e. Grooms were often late in that culture, something they should have known and been prepared for. When was the last time you went to a Wedding that started on time?
f. Behold the bridegroom. The groom's whereabouts were often heralded to the waiting guests by announcers.
2. Wise. These were ones who upheld their duty, honored the groom and the host, and who remained faithful and watchful. They were those who saw opportunities that would be of benefit to them, and took advantage of them by being industrious, but, with dignity and respect.
a. Foolish refers to relying on zeal only, and not thinking through what needed to be done or being prepared. It was laziness! It was like going on a trip without either a destination or the resources to complete the trip, relying only on the excitement of the trip, which would get people nowhere except for being literally broken down without gasoline. In matters of eternal security, this is devastating. The person who is not in Christ will be cut off forever, because he or she chooses to neglect preparation (Matt. 25:31-46); he or she fails to see what Christ has done, relying on emotions and passion for life, and not considering the death and judgment to come.
b. The torches had a very finite amount of fuel and needed to be refueled; they would have known this. They required large amounts of oil in order to keep lit, and the oil had to refill the wick or rag several times an hour. The virgins showed a blatant disregard of responsibility and duty. They also threw away their chance to meet their potential groom and become known in the community. They threw away a prized opportunity to better themselves because they did not feel like preparing!
c. Give us. They probably kept the torches burning slightly to be ready; it was difficult to relight them in an era before matches. Extra oil was necessary!
d. The oil can represent the Holy Spirit. As the virgins received their conviction, what their duty and responsibilities were, only half of them responded wisely.
e. For us, it means to obey by keeping our minds on Christ as Lord-always! When our minds are on Him, we are ready for anything, even His return! Professing your faith is only as real as you make it, because it can be faked!
f. Are you ready for His coming? What stops you from being prepared?
3. No. This was not about not sharing; if they did share, they probably would not have had enough oil for any of the touches later on for the groom; thus, no procession or illumination would have taken place! The wedding ceremony would have been a disaster.
a. There was no place to buy oil at night; they would have had to wake someone up or borrow.
b. The door was shut. Most homes were in a courtyard where a main door closed it off to the rest of the community for safety; it also served to corral the animals, thus shutting out visitors and those who were late.
c. Lord, Lord, as in master, master (not God). To us, it refers to the analogy of God shutting Himself off to converts after it is too late for them-after they die, or after Christ comes back!
d. I do not know you. Their neglect cost them the wedding and precious opportunities. They were responsible for the most crucial aspect of the Jewish wedding ceremony, escorting the bride into the groom's home to consummate the marriage. They insulted the host, neglected the bride, offended the groom, and forsook opportunity in favor of laziness. Therefore, they were not admitted to the feast, and they probably did not meet their future grooms. (Marriages were prearranged; going to a wedding was a way to get to know their potential groom and his family as a part of courtship.)They most definitely offended any potential in-laws!
e. The foolish succumbed to the fate that they set in motion. They will be judged and removed from the wise. The wasteful and fearful will be separated from those who love and trust in Christ (Matt. 25:31-46).
f. Keep watch. This is the main point of the parable. To be ready is to be prepared for a long delay, as Christ may return tomorrow or in another two thousand years. His timing is to help our faith development and preparedness.
g. The day or the hour-the parousia, meaning, the coming of Christ (Matt. ; John 14:2-3)!
Perhaps the disciples were in denial, or maybe they were stunned that Jesus was talking about His second coming because they did not realize His first was almost over! He wanted them to understand that when He leaves they should not waste their time in doing nothing, in being depressed, or to give up while waiting. He wanted them to know it was still a "go" for doing life! He wanted them to get on with life, to be busy preparing themselves and others for the Kingdom, and yet, to remain watchful. In order to obey Christ, we must keep our minds on Him, because the only real cure for laziness is to be filled with Him. Obeying is faithfulness; it is not about education, intelligence, or skill. Rather, it is accepting the task He gives us and doing it. It is taking what He has given, then replicating, increasing, and using it for the benefit of others-as well as for our own growth-for His glory (1 Cor. 4:2). Those five wise virgins knew this; the other five neglected it. Thus, the foolish ones were not just judged by the wise, but, rather, by what they were capable of. God judges us against ourselves! So, never worry what others are doing; only seek what you can do better! To be ready is to be prepared for a long delay, as Christ may return tomorrow or in another two thousand years. His timing is to help our faith development and preparedness. Seek Him, and let your confidence be in who you are in Him-not how others respond to you! May God's oil of His grace keep you lit!
1. How are you at being on time for work or school? What about important events?
2. How does being on time and respecting the time of others honor God and portray good character?
3. How would you explain the importance of being ready?
4. Have you ever wasted what Jesus gives? How can you, why should you, and what actions can you take to avoid being lazy?
5. The bridesmaids were responsible for preparing the bride; so, why would they neglect their responsibility?
6. How does not being prepared cause one to pass up vital opportunities? Have you done this? Have you seen others do this? Has this been done to you? If so, how did you feel?
7. What could be a modern example of a "nightmare" for a young woman because she was not prepared?
8. How are some churches irresponsible with the opportunities God gives them?
9. What does being wise mean to you?
10. What does being foolish mean to you?
11. Think of an opportunity that you took advantage of recently. How did it benefit you? Did it glorify God? How did you feel?
12. How does keeping our minds upon Christ as Lord help us be ready for anything, even His return?
13. Are you ready for His coming? What stops you from being prepared?
14. Why did the wise bridesmaids refused to share the oil?
15. How would you feel if you were turned down after asking to borrow something? What if you knew it was your fault for running out? Would you be mad at the person you are seeking to borrow from, or mad at yourself? How would this question help show your true character?
16. How does laziness insult God? How does it keep you from succeeding in life and in your faith?
17. What does Jesus want you to understand from this parable?
18. What is the oil that keeps your lamp of faith lit? What does it need to be?
19. What can you do to be more obedient and faithful in your walk with Christ?
20. What can you do to guard against becoming lazy? How do we make our actions count for His glory?
© 2004 R. J. Krejcir IntoThy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org