February 19, 2023 Frightening Parables Part 2

Frightening Parables

Part Two

Feb 19, 2023


Read Matthew 25:1-13.


The Parable of the Ten Virgins, like the parable before it and the one immediately following, continues to illustrate the consequences of both being ready and not being ready for the Lord’s return. Jesus told these parables to emphasize what he said in verse 44:


Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. [1]


As was pointed out in the previous parable: some commentators bend over backwards trying to assert that these parables are about the lost. Why is this when the context makes it clear that he is both teaching his disciples and that the characters within the parables are followers of the Lord Jesus? It is because these parables communicate very negative consequences to those who are not ready for his coming. Christians in the modern era simply will not tolerate any teaching that presents negative consequences in the next age for disobedience.  Their unspoken motto is “I don’t like it, so I don’t believe it.”


Before we tackle the important points of this parable, an interesting question is whether these ten virgins are the brides or whether they are merely guests. Actually, we cannot tell. Remember that polygamy was commonly practiced among the Hebrews. In the days of Moses nearly every family was a polygamous family.[2] Of course, great men of God throughout the OT had multiple wives (e.g., Jacob, David, Moses, Gideon, and Ezra, to name a few).


In the parable, verse 1 says that they went out to meet the bridegroom, not their bridegroom. So, the first verse seems to lend itself to the virgins just being guests. On the other hand, some points of the parable seem to indicate otherwise:


  • One does not have to be a virgin to be a guest. But, according to God’s law, one had to be a virgin to marry with God’s approval  (Deut. 22:20-21).
  • These virgins become part of the procession with the groom. Guests are not typically part of the procession.
  • Is the groom really expected to know every guest (vs. 12)? Probably not. But he must know those he is going to marry!


We cannot tell whether these virgins are the brides or merely guests, but it makes no difference in interpreting the parable so we need not be concerned about it.


 Robert Govett points out that those who take the foolish virgins to be false believers assume several things without any evidence. First, in reviewing his contemporary commentators he observed that most just assumed the foolish virgins were false believers from the start. “From this assumption it immediately follows that the writers seek to make differences where Christ has made agreement; in order to distinguish fundamentally the foolish from the wise. Now the Savior has stated that they were alike in eight points, and that they differ in one only:


  1. being virgins
  2. going forth
  3. they intend on meeting the bridegroom
  4. in taking their lamps
  5. in falling asleep
  6. in sleeping until the cry
  7. in rising at the cry
  8. in trimming their lamps.

The one point of disagreement is that some carried no oil in another vessel for future supply: for oil in their lamps for the present they all had….All that is alleged against them is simple foolishness, or want of foresight of what was expedient towards the securing the desired admission to the wedding feast. The Savior would manifest that all previous care and steps taken towards it, were rendered vain by the omission of one. But no hint is dropped of their double-dealing or wickedness.”[3]

“That they are not hypocrites, or formal professors, is clear from the character given them by the Savior. They are ‘virgins’ all. This is the character of the true Christian alone. ‘I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.’” (2 Cor 11:2)[4]

“If they were professors alone, or hypocrites, they would be described as adulteresses.  ‘Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity with God?’ (James 4:4) The character given of them, by Him who cannot err, would have been that they were, to His eyes, professed virgins indeed, but really harlots.”[5]

So, Govett sees the assumption that the foolish virgins are only professing believers is without substantiation.

“But there is one point more assumed which, perhaps, one might say is the radical error, from which all, or nearly all the others have flowed. This is, that the rejection by the bridegroom is damnation, and that the separation of the wise and foolish is eternal. Hence it was argued – since none but the false and insincere will be shut out from eternal life, those so shut out must be hypocrites…But proof is not given, though so much depends on it. After this assumption, commentators perplex themselves to make out an adequate reason for the damnation of the foolish, and thus are driven to overstate the Lord’s words, and to make distinctions where He has made agreements. From the same mistake it originates, that they confound wisdom and folly with wickedness and holiness.”[6]

“The assumption that the foolish virgins are hypocrites, has entirely diverted the instruction of the parable from those truly concerned in it. For if the foolish be hypocrites, then are the unbeliever and the formalist the characters to whom it is addressed. And they who know themselves to be sincere, pass by this most important lesson, as not bearing to themselves. To show the falsehood of this assumption, it is only necessary to observe that it is a lesson of the Lord Jesus to his true disciples alone. If the foolish be unbelievers, the lesson is to those that are not Christ’s true disciples. But the prophecy on the Mount of Olives was addressed to the disciples (Mark 13). Thence, I conclude that believers are addressed in this parable, and therefore, that the foolish virgins are believers, no less than the wise.”[7]

On the other hand, Govett provides eight evidences that all the virgins represent true disciples of Christ:

  1. They are “virgins.” Therefore, are they chaste and pure in the Lord’s sight: 2 Cor. 11:2,3.
  2. They “take their torches.” And, all those torches are lighted: verse 8. Then are they “the sons of God…in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom they shine as lights in the world.” (Phil. 2:15) “Ye are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works.” (Mat. 5:14-16) Unbelievers are darkness; believers only are “light in the Lord.” (Eph 5:8)
  3. They “go forth.” Then are they the children of faithful Abraham, leaving their homes and city through hope and faith: Hebrews 11.
  4. They go forth “to meet the bridegroom.” Then they believe in, and hope for his appearing: 2 Tim. 4:8. And to them belongs, not only salvation, but the hope of reward.
  5. They have faith, as is manifested by their going forth. They have… [the presence of the Holy Spirit][8], as is manifested by their lighted torches. They believe with the heart, as is manifest by their going out to meet the bridegroom. Their salvation then is certain; for faith and confession make salvation sure: Rom. 10:9,10. These points apply to all, wise and foolish alike.
  6. If the sleep be death, then are they believers, for of none else is it spoken in the New Testament. “Sleep” represents death.
  7. They all rise together; and the first resurrection is of believers alone: Rev. 20:5,6.
  8. The parable was addressed to believers only.[9]

Our commentator adds this: “Both the torch and the act of going forth were a testimony to others and to themselves that they hoped for the bridegroom’s appearing, and looked for a place in the procession, and at the feast. They go forth in the direction in which the bridegroom is expected and wait for his appearing; which is the attitude of the true believer in Jesus alone. None but he expects, desires, and ‘loves his appearing.’”[10]

Watchman Nee and Lee (along with Pember, Neighbor, Panton, Stephen Speers Craig, Wiersbe, and Lutzer) all agree with the Robert Govett that all ten virgins represent true believers.

“Virgins signify believers in the aspect of life (2 Cor. 11:2). Believers, who are the kingdom people, are like chaste virgins, bearing the Lord’s testimony (the lamp) in the dark age and going out of the world to meet the Lord. For this they need not only the indwelling, but also the fullness of the Spirit of God.


We Christians firstly are virgins. Being a virgin is not a matter of work, service, or activity, but a matter of life. Moreover, we are not only virgins, but chaste, pure virgins. Being a virgin is not a matter of what we do or are able to do; it is absolutely a matter of what we are.

Verse 1 says that the virgins took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom. Lamps signify the spirit of the believers (Prov. 20:27), which contains the Spirit of God as the oil (Rom. 8:16). The believers shine with the light of the Spirit of God from within their spirit. Thus, they become the light of the world, like a lamp shining in the darkness of this age (Matt. 5:14-16; Phil. 2:15-16) to bear the testimony of the Lord for the glorification of God. Thus, as virgins we …take lamps for testifying, shining, and enlightening. In our hand is a lamp shining for the Lord’s testimony.

Verse 3 tells us the reason they were foolish: “For the foolish, when they took their lamps, did not take oil with them.” Oil signifies the Spirit of God (Isa. 61:1; Heb. 1:9). The foolish ones were foolish because they had oil only in the lamp, but not the extra portion of oil in the vessel. In addition to the regenerating Spirit, they did not have the infilling Spirit, the extra portion of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 4 says, “But the prudent took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” Man is a vessel made for God (Rom. 9:21, 23-24), and man’s personality is in his soul. Hence, vessels here signify the soul of the believers. The five prudent virgins not only have oil in their lamps, but also take oil in their vessels. Having oil in their lamps signifies that they have the Spirit of God dwelling in their spirit (Rom. 8:9, 16), and taking oil in their vessels signifies that they have the fullness of the Spirit of God saturating their souls.

We need to be very clear about the lamps and the vessels. According to the Hebrew text, Proverbs 20:27 says that the spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord. Within the lamp is the oil, the Holy Spirit. The New Testament reveals that our spirit is the place the Holy Spirit indwells. According to Romans 9, we are vessels made by God. Our being, our personality, is in our soul. Therefore, the vessel in this verse signifies our soul. Through regeneration we have the Spirit of God in our spirit. This causes our lamp to burn. But the question is whether or not we have the extra portion of the Holy Spirit filling our soul. Although we have the oil in our lamp, we need the extra portion of the oil in our soul. This signifies that the Spirit must spread from within our spirit to every part of our soul. Then in our soul we shall have an extra amount of the Holy Spirit. If we have this extra portion, we are prudent. If we do not have it, we are foolish. In other words, if we are indifferent to the infilling of the Holy Spirit, we are foolish. If we are wise, we shall pray, “Lord, have mercy on me. I want to have Your Spirit not only in my spirit, but also in my soul. Lord, I need the infilling of the Spirit. I need the extra portion of the Holy Spirit to fill my entire being.” Without this extra portion of the Spirit, we cannot be watchful or ready. In order to be watchful and ready, we need the infilling of the Holy Spirit, the spreading of the Spirit Himself from our spirit to every part of our inward being.

Verse 5 says that the Bridegroom delayed His coming. The Lord Jesus truly has delayed His coming again. In Revelation He promised to come quickly, but nearly two thousand years have passed, and still He delays his coming.

Because the Bridegroom delayed His coming, all the virgins “became drowsy and slept.” Becoming drowsy signifies becoming sick (Acts 9:37; 1 Cor. 11:30), and going to sleep signifies dying (1 Thes. 4:13-16; John 11:11-13). While the Lord delays His coming back, the majority of the believers firstly become sick and then die.

Verse 7 says, “Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.” “Arose” signifies resurrection from the dead (1 Thes. 4:14). This is the resurrection predicted in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:52.

Verse 8 says, “And the foolish said to the prudent, Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” This word implies that even after resurrection the foolish believers will still need the fullness of the Spirit of God. “Going out” proves that the lamps of the foolish virgins are lighted, having oil in them, but not having an adequate supply. The foolish virgins represent the believers who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God dwelling in them, but who are not filled with the Spirit of God so that He may saturate their whole being.

Verse 9 says, “But the prudent answered, saying, Lest there be not enough for us and for you, go rather to those who sell and buy for yourselves.” This indicates that no one can have the fullness of the Holy Spirit for others. We may borrow many things, but we cannot borrow the infilling of the Holy Spirit. This is like eating. No one can eat for you.

To buy indicates the need of paying a price. The fullness of the Holy Spirit is obtained at a cost, such as giving up the world, dealing with the self, loving the Lord above all, and counting all things loss for Christ. If we do not pay this price today, we must pay it after resurrection, Those who do not pay the price do not have the extra portion of the Holy Spirit. Eventually, the foolish virgins will realize that they need to love the Lord with all their heart and soul. They will see that they need to give up the world and deal with the self.

When they asked the Lord to open to them, He said, ‘I do not know you.’ To not know here indicates not to recognize, not to approve, as in Luke 13:25; John 1:26, 31; 8:19. The foolish virgins had their lamps lighted, went forth to meet the Lord, died, and were resurrected and raptured, but were late in paying the price for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, the Lord would not recognize or approve of them for participation in His marriage feast. They missed this reward dispensationally, but they do not lose their salvation eternally.

In telling them that He did not know them, the Lord was saying, ‘I do not appreciate you or recognize you, and I do not approve of the way you lived on the earth. Also, I do not approve of your coming so late.’ Thus, they are rejected from the enjoyment of the kingdom feast.”[11]

It is too late to get ready if the Christian has wasted his life and then sees the import of readiness just days before she passes the veil. However, we neither know when we will die nor when the Lord will return. Therefore, whenever this parable alarms the reader (as Jesus intended it to) and she begins living for the Lord more fully and becomes filled with the Spirit, then she can be ready. This parable teaches us to put aside worldly things and pursuits and to serve the Lord with gladness, being filled with the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit is not a matter of feeling. All Christians love the Spirit. So, many misinterpret their affection for the Spirit with being filled with the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit will, of course, bring joy and peace. But that which manifests the Spirit’s in-filling is not feelings, but how we spend our time. Do we spend our time in holy pursuits (reading the word, studying the word, helping the less fortunate, prayer, calling on the name of the Lord, sharing the gospel, feeding our brothers and sisters with the truths of Scripture, etc.) or do we spend our time in mundane affairs? Many of the things that Christians occupy themselves with are not sinful, but they rob from us our readiness. Those Christians will be excluded from the wedding feast and participating in the kingdom.


All three of these parables have an alarming ending for those who did not get ready. Let us take the warnings! Have done with lesser things! Let us get ourselves ready!








[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 24:44). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The average number of male children in each family at the time of the census under Moses was 27 (Numbers 1:46 &  3:43; divide the total number of male children [1:46] by the total number of first born males [3:43]). This is impossible without polygamy.

[3] Robert Govett, Govett on the Parables (Schoettle Publishing Co Inc., Miami Springs, FL 33166; 1989, reprinted from 1845); chapter 12, pgs. 3-4.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, 5.

[7] Ibid, 6.

[8] Govett interprets the lighted torches as representative of good works; however, Witness Lee interprets the lamps (or torches) as representative of the human spirit where the Holy Spirit dwells. Since I think this is the correct interpretation, I have substituted it in place of Govett’s original words.

[9] Ibid, 11-12.

[10] Ibid, 14.

[11] Witness Lee, Life-Study of Matthew, Message 64. From the middle of page 4 (starting with the quotation marks) to the footnote in the text (above) has all been taken from the Life-Study sited. Lee’s commentary is too on-spot to abbreviate and this is why I have included such a lengthy portion.