Summary: Matthew 25:13 tells us the reason for this parable. "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
THE PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise." Matthew 25:1-2 (NIV)
Throughout the Christian era this parable has been referred to as “The Parable of the Ten Virgins”, or some slight modification thereof, but it would be just as true if it were called “The Parable of the Ten Professing Christians” or “The Parable of the Ten Church Members”.
The ten virgins are ten bridesmaids, no one of whom is the bride herself. The redeemed and purified Church universal will one day be the Bride of Christ. (Revelation 19:7-9) During this present age, the church is referred to as the “body of Christ” (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22-23). Collectively the ten virgins may typify Christendom at the time of Christ’s return given the fact that some (five) were ready for the Lord’s return and some (five) were not.
Matthew 25:13 tells us the reason for this parable. "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour (of the Lord’s return)”. In this parable, the Lord points out that five of these young women were prepared for the bridegroom’s arrival and five were not prepared. All ten had distinct similarities except for one thing. Let’s see what differentiated between the wise and the foolish virgins.
THEIR CHARACTER DID NOT DIFFERENTIATE THEM: The Lord used the word “virgin” to symbolize the upright character of all ten. If moral up-rightness alone defined one as ready or not ready, all ten would have entered together into the marriage hall. Many church members, or if you wish “professing Christians” are depending on their moral character to get them to heaven. Character is very important but good character alone will not save anyone because our salvation is by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God! (Ephesians 2:8-10). Consider also Isaiah 64:6.
The parable of the wheat and the weeds in Matthew 13 needs to be considered along with the parable of the ten virgins. There is a significant difference in these two parables. The weeds grew from seed sown by Satan. George Ricker Berry translates “zizania” as “darnel”. Darnel, in its early stages, looks like wheat but as it nears maturity it takes on a weed-like appearance. On the other hand, the foolish virgins retained that description throughout. The great tragedy is that both groups will hear the Lord say “I do not know you.”
The foolish virgins did not recognize their lack of oil until it was too late; neither was that deficiency detected by the five wise virgins during all the time of waiting together with their foolish friends. It is so in our spiritual relationships today. We can know our own hearts and we may think we know the hearts of our friends but that is a judgment that is not ours to make. We see the apparent evidences of salvation in our friends but don’t lose sight of the fact that the five foolish virgins looked every bit the part of bridesmaids until the ultimate testing time came.
Now, we most certainly are not to go around doubting the salvation of our friends. Instead we should confirm their faith. We must limit our judgment to our own lives. We must give every professed believer the benefit of any doubt, and while doing so, encourage them to give witness of their salvation to others which will serve to strengthen their own faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, in the case of the darnel, we find a difference. Many pastors can testify that they have witnessed some professed believers who have given the appearance of “wheat” early on, but in the progression of time their real identify was made known. Paul referred to three such individuals, Hymenaeus and Alexander in 1 Timothy 1:19-20 and Philetus (Hymenaeus is also listed) in 2 Timothy 2:17-18. John wrote to the church warning them of Diotrephes in 3 John 9-10. It is obvious that Satan had planted “darnel” in a number of the early churches.
Let’s see what the Scripture says regarding the “darnel” that Satan has planted and also, tragically, the foolish virgins who had all the trappings of a “bridesmaid” but lacked the necessary “Oil” that was needed to be admitted into the wedding (Matthew 25:10). "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!’ Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV). Now, let’s return to the ten virgins.