Back to index

The parable of the ten virgins

Matthew 25:8

And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’

Full bible text

‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.’

About this painting

Jesus tells the parable of the wise and foolish virgins a few days before He is going to suffer and die on the cross. He wants to indicate the necessity to be prepared in time for His second coming from heaven.
The church is also referred to as ‘the bride of Christ’. Jesus, the heavenly Bridegroom, ascends to heaven after being resurrected from the dead, to ‘prepare a place’ for His bride (John 14), but will come back for her, and take her to the heavenly wedding feast.
In this parable all ten virgins have been invited for the wedding feast.
In those times it was common for the bridesmaids –girlfriends of the bride- to go from the parental home of the bride to meet the bridegroom when he came for his bride. In the parable five girls do not take oil with them for their lamps/torches. They are called ‘foolish’. The five girls, who do take oil with them, are ‘wise’.
It is true that the five foolish girls got an invitation to join the wedding feast. They had a lamp too. But in the middle of the night, when the bridegroom appears, they turn out not to be prepared for his coming.
The wise girls cannot share their oil with them and advise them as yet to go and buy oil. They do, but after that, they’re too late. The door of the wedding hall is already shut. They call: Lord, lord, open to us! In Jewish idiom the repetition of the name/title indicates a personal bond with the addressed.
It is plausible that the bridegroom knew the persons who received an invitation, yet he answers; ‘I do not know you’, which can be explained as:’ I don’t want anything to do with you’.
This reminds of Matt.7:21-23 ‘Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
The lesson from this is that not all who are now numbered in the Kingdom of Heaven will be ready when Christ returns. As a result, they will eventually be excluded from that Kingdom. The personal confession of faith should go hand in hand with the practice of a life from that faith; to ‘do the will of the Father’.

Ask a question about this painting

{{ errors.first("field_7") }}
{{ errors.first("field_8") }}
{{ errors.first("field_9") }}
{{ errors.first("privacy") }}
Download the image for free