The 10 Virgins Revisited

Q. If you believe that the parable of the 10 virgins speaks about a time on Earth just after the 2nd Coming, then why in, verse 13 did Jesus say, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son Of Man Cometh.” It sounds to me like a warning about the 2nd coming.

Also If the oil here were a symbol of the spirit of God how or why would they think another Christian could give them part of their spirit? And what would make the wise think the foolish could go and buy their salvation (spirit of God) from those who sell it? But here they went to those who sell to buy oil and did buy it and came back to be with the Bridegroom (Jesus). Do you know where you can go and buy the spirit of God for your salvation? If so why did Jesus die?

Oil is a source of both food and fuel. If the oil here is symbolic for food and fuel then the story works. If you notice, the foolish did go and buy oil. But Jesus said he didn’t know them. So if the oil were the spirit of God, Jesus would have to know them.

A. A principle central to the correct interpretation of a parable is that everything and everyone is symbolic. We know this because the word parable means “to lay alongside.” A fictional story is laid alongside the truth to better illustrate it.

In the case of this parable the virgins, the oil, the bridegroom and the banquet all represent something else. When we look at other places where they’re used symbolically in the Bible, we find out what they mean.

This is because of another principle, called Expositional Constancy, that tells us that symbolic use of items in Scripture is consistent. For example, when used symbolically, leaven always symbolizes sin. The Bridegroom always symbolizes the Lord, the Bride always symbolizes the Church, and so on. By assuming the oil was meant to be understood literally, you inadvertently violated these rules.

For reasons I’ve given in my study on the parable, I see the 10 virgins as tribulation survivors, and since Aaron was first anointed with oil in Exodus, oil has always symbolized the Holy Spirit. The Bridegroom represents Jesus and the banquet His Kingdom. Now for your questions.

First, you’re right. The Lord’s warning is about the 2nd Coming. It’s repeated in Revelation 16:15 where He warns those on Earth to stay awake because He’s coming like a thief. Many will know the general time but no one will know the day or hour. His warning in Matthew 25:13 is a repeat of Matthew 24:44 following the examples of the 2 in the field and the 2 grinding flour. The parables of the faithful servant, the 10 virgins and the talents are all intended to underscore this point. If they don’t stay awake and alert, they may miss out.

As for the oil, that’s one of the key points of the parable. You can’t get the Holy Spirit from someone else. You have to get it yourself. The five foolish virgins had the Holy Spirit at the start, but lost their faith (and therefore their salvation) while they were waiting. In the context of the parable, borrowing oil is like trying to have some one else vouch for you. It doesn’t work.

And buying more oil symbolizes restoring their faith and re-committing to the Lord. Unfortunately while they were trying to do this they discovered that time had run out. The Lord had already come back and it was too late. The door to the Kingdom was closed. That’s the most important point of the parable, and that’s why He said He didn’t know them when they tried to get in.

Share Button