What is the Meaning of the Ten Virgins Parable?

Jesus Using Parables To Teach

In this parable, it is apparent that Jesus is teaching about two types of persons, lost and saved. Though there is application for the individual believer and the church today, this is not the intent of this parable.

In Matthew 24, Jesus is dealing with prophetic messages in teaching His disciples. In verse 29, He comes to a marked distinction, talking about those things immediately after the Tribulation: the signs that would precede His coming, and then what was going to happen at His coming. Jesus’ coming has to do with the time of separation of those who are alive, the lost from the saved.

Five of the virgins had oil in their lamps and the other five did not. It is the oil that kept the lights bright. It was the oil that caused the good works. Oil is often symbolic of the Holy Spirit of God, indicating anointing for service. We find this in Isaiah 61:1, Hebrews 1:9, and 1 John 2:20. So, five of these virgins, the ones that were wise, were prepared. They were saved, they had the Holy Spirit, the works that they had done were represented by their lamps, or their lights. Their testimony was that which was coming from within.

The five foolish virgins were unprepared (representing the lost sinner). Their works were all outward. Here again, we find in Ephesians 2:8-10: “For by grace are ye saved through faith … Not of works” … works do not save us. A lot of religious people today are like these five foolish virgins. They go to church, they do outwardly good things, they try to help people, yet inwardly, they have never received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Therefore, they are not indwelled with the Holy Spirit of God. They do not have that oil that will enable their lamps to burn.

We also see in this discourse that the Bridegroom delayed His coming for His Bride. The virgins were not a part of the Bride, but were bridesmaids. Because He had delayed, they all slept and were not watchful. They were really not anticipating the coming of the Lord. So here again, we see that the saved had the same outward appearance as those that were just religious.

This of course presents the seriousness of being prepared (saved) for His call.

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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