The parable of the Ten virgins.
(Matthew 25: 1 - 13)
It appears that there are three different teachings on the parable of the ten virgins, that I have come across.
I have decided to present all three views and add comments.
1. This parable is used to suggest a partial rapture of the church.
This teaching suggests that all the ten virgins represent the church but that all, will not be ready when the bridegroom comes and that five will be left out of the wedding feast.
2. That only five wise virgins are the believing church but are not the bride, but guests to the wedding feast.
This teaching suggests that the five wise virgins are the believing church but do not represent the bride but are bridesmaids or wedding guests.
3. It is used to support the thought that the five wise virgins are the church and that the church is the bride of Christ.
This teaching suggests that only five of the virgins are true believers (posessors) and that the other five are only professors. The five wise virgins are representative of the bride of Christ.
Note: This is the traditional view held by the church for at least 1500 years.
1. First belief, Partial rapture.
This teaching suggests that all the ten virgins are believers in Christ and therefore make up the church on earth.
All ten are virgins, (this is seen as a sign that they are untainted)
All have lamps, (this is seen as having some light)
All are waiting for the bridegroom. (This is interpreted as the bride waiting for Christ who is the bridegroom)
The difference between the five wise and the five foolish virgins is the fact that only the wise took oil with them.
The oil would have been taken in a flask of some sort.
The only oil in all of their lamps would have been residue from being previously used, without fresh oil the lamps would be useless.
It was traditional that the bridegroom would come sometime during the night, when it was dark. So the virgins would need lamps.
The five foolish virgins did not have any oil and their lamps where out.
Matt 25: 8 for our lamps are gone out.
This teaching suggests that when the sound of the bridegroom’s approach was heard, the five wise virgins trimmed their lamps. Of course the five foolish virgins, having no oil, could not trim theirs.
First they asked the wise virgins for some of their oil, to which they replied, “go and get your own”.
Whilst they were gone the bridegroom came and the ones that were ready went into the wedding with Him.
This partial rapture teaching says that all the virgins were believers, (Christians).
The five foolish virgin’s lamps had gone out, so, previously they had some light but at the time when they needed it, they did not have any. This suggests to those that teach this partial rapture, that they were backslidden Christians or apostates (fallen away from the faith) and not in a ready state to receive the bridegroom and this is why they were left behind.
What this teaching says, is that there is a remnant of believers in the church that will be prepared at the coming of Christ (the faithful) and that there will be those that are unprepared, (the backslidden/apostates) and will not be ready, so therefore will not be raptured and will be left to go through the great tribulation.
This teaching separates believers into two camps. Those that are sanctified disciples and those that are just converts.
To accept this view, one would have to believe that not all believers will be taken at the coming of Christ.
However, the scriptures do suggest that ALL believers will be taken, both those who have died in Christ and those who are alive at His coming.
1 Corinthians 15:50–55.
50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Notice, that nowhere in these scriptures does it mention that only some will be raptured. The reference is to ALL believers in Christ.
Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
1Th 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
The passages which describe the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:50-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) definitely seem to apply universally to all Christians, mature and immature, faithful and disobedient.
Verses like Romans 8:11 Thessalonians 5:9 says that God does not pour out His wrath on Christians. There is no biblical evidence whatsoever for a partial rapture. Every believer, those that are asleep (died) and those who are alive at His coming, will be taken to meet Christ in the air at the rapture.
Because if you are in Christ you are a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.
The reason you will be included in the rapture of the church is because of what Christ has done, not what you have done or will ever do.
Our righteousness is in Christ. God does not see our sin, because Christ covered our sin on the cross.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, lest any man should boast.
There is no two tier Christianity. We are all sinners, saved by grace.
If you are in Christ, you are part of His body the church and Christ is coming for His church. He purchased the church with His blood at Calvary, you have been bought and paid for and if you have received Him as your Saviour, He is coming for you.
He will not take the arms and leave the legs, he will not take the eye and leave the ear.
NO partial rapture but a complete rapture of ALL believers.The next teaching is the traditional teaching held by the church for at least 1500 years.
The second view.
2. The five wise virgins are the believing church but they are guests at the wedding, guests of the bride and groom, they maybe bridesmaids or “children of the bride chamber”, but they are not the bride.
This view is not the widely accepted traditional view.
Notice: first of all that according to this view, it is pointed out that the bride is never mentioned in this passage of scripture Matt 25:1—13.
This view also points out something about Matthew’s Gospel.
Apparently, the proponents of this view say, there is evidence to believe that originally, Matthews Gospel was written first in Hebrew (Aramaic) and then later written in Greek.
The idea that some or all of the gospels were originally written in a language other than Greek begins with Papias of Hierapolis, c. 125–150 CE.
The Hebrew Gospel hypothesis (or proto-Gospel hypothesis or Aramaic Matthew hypothesis) is a group of theories based on the proposition that a lost gospel in Hebrew or Aramaic lies behind the four canonical gospels.
It is based upon an early Christian tradition, deriving from the 2nd-century bishop Papias of Hierapolis, that the apostle Matthew composed such a gospel. Papias appeared to say that this Hebrew or Aramaic gospel was subsequently translated into the canonical gospel of Matthew, but modern studies have shown this to be untenable.
Modern variants of the hypothesis survive, but have not found favour with scholars as a whole.
By "Hebrew" Papias would have meant Aramaic, the common language of the Middle East, beside Koine Greek.
Copies of the gospel of Matthew do exist in both Greek and Aramaic. Since it is well-known that Greek copies of Matthew exist, it is important to know that there is at least one Syriac Aramaic manuscript in the British Library dating from the 5th Century AD. One can objectively state that this Syriac Aramaic manuscript is most likely a copy of a previous version.
This Aramaic manuscript of Matthew illustrates a statement that was made by the early church father Papias of Hierapolis (A.D. 125–150) that Matthew had collected the oracles or sayings of Christ in Hebrew (Aramaic),
Papias wrote: . . . So then Matthew wrote the oracles in the Hebrew language, and every one interpreted them as he was able.”
Jerome. (Extract from Lives of Illustrious Men. 393 C.E]
'Matthew also issued a written Good News among the Hebrews in their own dialect'
Irenaeus c. 244 .C.E.
“Matthew compiled the writings in the Hebrew language, and everyone translated them as we”.
As a result of Papias’ statement and subsequent comments made by other early church fathers, some biblical experts claim that the autograph, the original version of Matthew, was written in Semitic Hebrew or Aramaic and not in Greek.
Apparently, in this Aramaic Gospel the first verse of chapter 25 says this: “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride.
Matthew 25:1 (Aramaic Translation into English)
Now if this version of the text is correct, this would support the notion that the five wise virgins could not be the bride.
However, there is doubt about the once existence of an Aramaic version of Matthews Gospel.
This view argues that the disciples were referred to as children of the bride chamber.
Matthew 9:14-15 "Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast."
Jesus here does not refer to the disciples as the bride but “children of the bride chamber”.
Another thing that is pointed out by those that believe this view, is that nowhere in scripture is the church referred to as the bride of Christ.
They also point out, that the Apostle Paul never used the term “bride” when referring to the church.
Paul on many occasions used the term “the body of Christ”
Even the Ephesian verse that is normally used to prove that the church is the bride, does not use the word “bride”..
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
This view says, If we examine this text, we see that it does not mention the word “bride”. It does, however, suggest that the church is like a wife, which is a simile or metaphor but it does not actually say that the church is the bride of Christ.
These pictures are found throughout the Old and New Testaments.
The different types of pictures are: types; shadows; parables; similes; metaphors and allegories. Most of them are meant to stand on theirs own and some are to be connected to, or combined with others.
In Matthew 10:16, Jesus used a metaphor when He told the disciples to be, “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Of course the disciple are not literally serpents or doves but they are to be like them.
Matthew 5:13–16 – Jesus uses two metaphors to refer to the believers as salt and light. The same applies here, (like salt and light).
There is also the imagery of labourer’s working in a field, others referring to the church as “Crops”, Wheat”“Vines” and “Sheep”.
Galatians 1:24–26 and 4:1–7 refers to “Sonship” and child.
Numerous other phrases are used of believers, such as, “children of God”, “Sons of God”, Children of the Light, “Followers of the Way” etc.
There are a number of passages that use the metaphor, “body of Christ”. This is how the Apostle Paul spoke of the believers in:
Rom 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
Rom 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
and 1Co 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
This view points to a verse in Revelation that reveals who the Bride really is:
Rev 21:9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
In this text we see what the scripture actually says about the bride, the wife of the Lamb.
Rev 21: 9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
Rev 21:10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
We know from comparing scripture with scripture that the Lamb refers to Christ.
John the Baptist declared, John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
So in the Revelation text we see it does say that the bride, is the wife of the Lamb is the New Jerusalem.
Now, they say that if a good case can be presented for the church being “The New Jerusalem”, then it could be said that the church is the Bride, the Lambs wife.
This view says:
Christians are not the bride of Christ, that the bride is the New Jerusalem; Christians are invited to the marriage supper of the lamb.
However, this New Jerusalem is at the end of all things, when God has created the new heaven and earth.
The Apostle Paul has stated that he desires to present the Church as a pure virgin to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2), the faithful Spirit born bride. While Israel is seen as the unfaithful wife, the “natural sinful born” wife, (Jeremiah 3:20,Ezekiel 16:30-34), who Jesus will redeem (Isaiah 61:10, Hosea 2:18-23). These “two” types, the natural born and the Spiritual born, are seen through out scripture to teach us that Jesus came to “redeem” the natural by a Spiritual birth in Him.
In addition to these two types of brides, Revelation 21:9 says the New Jerusalem “is the bride“, the wife of the Lamb. Jesus told his disciples that He is going to prepare a place for them, The place is “the New Jerusalem”. The them must be the Bride of Christ.
It has Gates for the 12 Tribes (those saved during the Jewish law) and Foundation Stones for the 12 Apostles (those saved during the Church of grace). And the New Jerusalem is home to the OT Saints prior to the law because Abraham was “looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” – Hebrew 11:10.
The New Jerusalem is when all believers, Old Testament saints, New Testament saints and all those that survive the final battle with Satan at the end of the Millennium are joined together as one.
3. Third View, (This is the traditional view) The five wise virgins are the believing church and the church is the bride of Christ.
Most Christians believe that at least, the five wise virgins represent the church and that the five wise virgins are the Bride of Christ?
The five wise virgins were waiting for the bridegroom, they were all virgins, they very likely had on the correct wedding garments,
Mat 22:11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
Mat 22:12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
Mat 22:13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Without the correct garments, no one will be allowed into the wedding.
They had lamps and they had oil.
The church is waiting for the bridegroom, the church is dressed in the correct garments, (clothed in the righteousness of Christ), the church has a lamp, the church is in the light or has the light, (Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path) and the church has oil in their lamp, which typifies the Holy Spirit.
So we can conclude that the five wise virgins, do represent the believing church.
The five foolish virgins looked very much like the five wise virgins, However, although they were waiting for the bridegroom and had lamps and very likely would have been dressed like the others, there was one great difference, they had no oil.
This shows that they had some light but the light had gone out.
This also is very much akin to the parable of the sower. The seed is the Word.
Some seed fell by the wayside and was eaten by the birds.
Some seed fell on stony ground and never took root
Some fell among thorns and was choked.
Mar 4:3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
Mar 4:4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.
Mar 4:5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:
Mar 4:6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
Mar 4:7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
Mar 4:8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.
These five foolish virgins represent the professing church, their lamps are of darkness, they have not seen the light, they are not walking in the light, their dress looks like the correct attire but is of self righteousness and not the righteousness of Christ. More importantly, they had no oil, the Holy Spirit is not in them.
Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
They are professors and not possessors. They profess the faith but they are not of the faith. These professors enjoy the benefits of the Christian community without being born again.
This is signified by the fact that they tried to get oil from the wise virgins.
Matt 25:8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
However, we know that it is a personal salvation that is important and one cannot be saved on the faith of others.
It is a personal faith in Jesus Christ and each person must come to a place of recognition of personal sin and separation from God.
The death of Christ must be appropriated, (applied) in each persons life to be saved.
So we see here, two sets of people, one group that appears to be in the faith, maybe doing and saying all the right things and from all appearances, look like Christians, they talk like Christians and act like Christians, but are not true Christians. These are the ones that depend on their own efforts. They may have been baptised (christened), they may be church goers, born into a Christian environment or Christian family but have not got a real personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is why when they knocked on the door, the bridegroom said the tragic words, “I never knew you”.
The Bible tells us that Jesus knows who are His.
John 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
There will be many who will say Lord, Lord on the day of judgement but they will hear these terrible words.
21 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
22 Many will say to Me on that day,‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’
23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Then there is the second group, the wise virgins, who are genuine born again believers. They had the light, they had oil, they had the right garments and where ready.
However, although we can see the parallel of the five wise virgins to the church, there is still the question, does the scripture actually say that the five wise virgins are the bride?
The traditional view is that the five wise virgins represent the true believing church and therefore is the bride of Christ.
Matt 25:10 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.
They were ready and they went in with Him.
Whilst this parable does not say that the wise virgins are the bride, it is believed that they are because the Bible tells us that the Bridegroom is coming for His bride.
In the traditional Jewish wedding, the bride is betrothed to the bridegroom. The bridegroom leaves the bride promising to return for her at some later date.
The bridegroom goes back to his fathers house to prepare a place for his bride and when the time is right, the father tells the son to go for his bride.
This is what Jesus told His disciples.
Joh 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Jesus was saying this to the disciples collectively, so this suggests that the believers collectively are indeed the bride of Christ.
If Jesus is the Bridegroom and He is going to prepare a place for His bride and He was going to prepare a place for His followers. Then it does follow, that His followers do represent His bride.
Jesus was using the pattern of a Jewish wedding as a means of explaining what He was talking about.
The Jewish marriage/wedding.
1. The chosen bride.
The bride was chosen by the Father, (the church was chosen by the Father before the foundation of the world).
Ephesians 1:4 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
The purchased bride
The price was paid for the bride.
Jesus purchased the church (His bride) with His own blood.
Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
1 Peter 1:18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,
19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
We can see from this that the church is the chosen, purchased bride.
After the bride was chosen and purchased, the bridegroom left her and returned to his fathers house to prepare a place for her.
John 14:2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Jesus was speaking to HIs followers and promising them that if He went away, He would return for them.
He was compering them to a bride.
2. The ceremony
The wedding was private with invited guests. Only those with the correct garments were allowed to enter.
Isaiah 61:10-11 I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Once the door was closed, that was it.
The five wise virgins entered the wedding but the five foolish did not.
Matt 7: 21 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’
23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’…
If the wise virgins were not the bride, this would mean that they would not be the ones that the bridegroom was preparing the place for and consequently would not be taken to the marriage chamber.
So, The five virgins, represent the believing church, and are representative of the bride.
Whichever of these interpretations one accepts, there is one major truth that emerges from this parable and that is that The church should be ready. We know for certain that one day there is going to be a rapture of believers.
Only those who were ready entered into the wedding with the bridegroom.
The major point of this parable and the other similar parables about the coming of the bridegroom is that, we may be able to recognise the times and the seasons but we do not know the day nor the hour.
It is all about the church being alert , awake and ready.
Rev 16: 15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
It is very important first and foremost, that each one of us make sure that we are part of the believing church.
That we are born again of the Spirit of God.
That we have oil in our lamp and that we are dressed in the right garments, clothed with the righteousness of Christ.
As the scripture says:
2 Cor 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
If we are in Christ, then we must be alert and ready for His second coming.
He is coming for His church, the Ecclesia, a particular body of faithful people, and the whole body of the faithful. The called out ones.
Not a partial rapture, but a gathering of ALL who come to faith by Him.
Whether the Ecclesia is the bride maybe debatable, but it is quite clear in scripture that all those who put their trust in Him and recognise Jesus Christ to be the Messiah, will be saved.
Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
We can be sure.
1Jn 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
2 Timothy 1:12, 13 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.