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.
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.
This parable is a further explanation of the previous chapter’s exhortation concerning the times of the end of the age, whether it be perceived as the end of that present age of law, or, by extension, this present age of grace. In either case, we have drawn myriad lessons from it, most pointing to our need of preparation for the appearing of the Bridegroom. For all this, however, could there be an even greater, more all-encompassing lesson we might be overlooking?
Lack of full qualification for admittance into the marriage is most certainly the issue of the five foolish virgins. But which of our perceived disqualifications is directly responsible for their being shut out and not recognized for that admittance? Or, are none of these assumed disqualifiers the real reason they were banned?
1 Each of these women was a tenth of the ten (each fully satisfied the law, that is, the qualifying regulations, of the marriage ceremony: being an unmarried woman chosen to participate in her assigned part)
2 Each of these women was in a group of five (each was given adequate qualifying grace for her individual and group deficiencies)
3 They were all unmarried
4 They all had lamps
5 They all went forth to meet the bridegroom
6 Five were wise (thoughtful) and five were foolish (dull; heedless). These characteristics are not in themselves qualifiers or disqualifiers for the marriage, since each had been chosen beforehand for the position she would fill
7 The foolish took lamps but no oil (the first act of being unprepared, yet this was not a disqualifier, for the light of five would be embarrassing but not insufficient, and the unlit lamp would serve as credential as well as their being recognized by the bridegroom and the five wise group)
8 The thoughtful took extra oil in their vessels (certainly prepared)
9 While the Bridegroom tarried they all slept (not a disqualifier)
10 At midnight there was a cry (all ten heard the cry)
11 All ten women rose and trimmed their lamps (to this point all are equally qualified for their part in the marriage)
12 The lamps of the foolish have gone out and they have no oil (again, embarrassing, but not a disqualifier)
13 While the five went to buy oil the wedding party went into the house (the five were not respectful of wedding chronology, but even at this point they are yet qualified)
14 The door was shut (at the time appointed in the wedding procedure)
15 “I don’t know you!!” The real reason they found themselves outside the shut door, themselves not recognized and now disqualified for entry: whatever their excuse, the five women were LATE!!