Study 8 THE WISE AND THE FOOLISH VIRGINS
TEN OF OUR LORD’S PARABLES
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: Matthew 25:1-13
There are many interpretations of this parable, which is one of those relating to Jesus’ Second Coming. Some have made its teaching apply only to a future dispensation; our best course will be to emphasise the simple and direct lessons which lie on the surface of this story. Verse 13 is the key-verse, and the ten virgins represent the visible professing Church which is in the world today. Here is a picture of Christendom, consisting of two classes of people – possessors and professors. The five wise virgins who have oil in their lamps represent the real Christians (oil being a type of the Holy Spirit); the five foolish virgins represent those who are merely professing Christians, who are only outwardly so and do not possess the Holy Spirit, never having been born again. These two classes are in the Church today. The lamps speak of testimony, of profession, and there are many people today who profess that they know God, but who deny Him in their works because they are mere professors (Titus 1:16); they have a form of godliness but deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5).
It is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the heart that constitutes a person a real Christian. How do we stand in regard to this? Look up Romans 8:9.
According to the parable, the wise and the foolish virgins, the possessing Christians and the professing Christians, will be together in Christendom until the Lord comes. Now, of course, we believe in the certainty and the imminence of the Second Coming – not only because this parable teaches this great fact, but because of the testimony of the whole Bible that the Lord will come again in person (John 14:3; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Hebrews 9:24-28). What will His coming mean to the wise virgins? – and what will His coming mean to the foolish virgins?
1. What His coming will mean for the real Christian.
- (1) Immediate entry into the presence of the Lord (verse 10): “The virgins who were ready went in…” Some people are afraid of the Lord’s return, but there is no need to be fearful, for the moment He comes will mark the time of our release from all earth’s limitations; at once we shall be “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8); “with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23); “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye” the Bride will be united with the Bridegroom (1 Corinthians 15:52). Notice, there is no mention of Purgatory. If we die before He comes we shall be the first to be raised at His coming (1 Thessalonians 4:16); if we are alive, we shall be caught up to be with Him for evermore – hallelujah! 1 Thessalonians 4:17 speaks of this glorious hope!
- (2) The beginning of a new and intimate fellowship with the Lord (verse 10). Notice the words “…with him…” Now He is with us. Look up Psalm 23:4; Isaiah 43:2; Matthew 28:20; 2 Timothy 4:17; Hebrews 13:5. But when He comes, in a moment we shall be with Him. Look up Philippians 1:23, and compare 1 Thessalonians 4:17, noticing the words “…with the Lord for ever…” How comforting this is! Now look up John 17:24.
- (3) There will be immense joy (verse 10) “The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet.” Surely this speaks of great joy! Look up and compare Psalm 16:11; Zephaniah 3:17; Revelation 19:7-9. What a wonderful marriage supper that will be for those who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). Will you be present?
- (4) We shall be eternally secure with Christ (verse 10). “The door was shut” speaks not only of exclusion but of inclusion, of security for all those who are inside. When Noah and his family entered the ark “the Lord shut him in” (Genesis 7:16). Why? To shut out the ungodly? Not primarily; it was to shut in the godly. Thank God we are secure in Christ now (Colossians 3:3), but when the Lord comes we shall be secure with Christ (Luke 23:43).
2. What His coming will mean for the professing Christian.
What will be the position of those who appear to be Christians, and may even belong to a church, but are not born again?
- (1) They will be shut out from the presence of the Lord (verse 10). Look up Matthew 24:37-39. This is very solemn, but it is the constant testimony of scripture that there will be a time of terrible separation.
- (2) It will also mean separation from the wise virgins. The five wise virgins went in, the five foolish virgins were shut out, and when the Lord comes, loved ones and friends will be separated; parents and children who are living together now will be separated then; husbands and wives, employers and employees… What a time of separation! Look up Matthew 24:40-44.
- (3) This separation from the Lord and from the saved will be final and eternal. There is no hint here or anywhere in the scriptures of a second chance of salvation for the person who has deliberately and persistently refused God’s offer of mercy in the gospel. Why should there be a second chance? Look up Genesis 18:25 (last part).
- (4) It will be a time of bitter remorse (verse 11). How solemn it is when you remember that those pictured here as ‘outside’ are not atheists, agnostics, or grossly wicked people, but church members, religious, respectable, good-living people! Will you be outside, knocking and asking for admission?
- (5) It will mean being unrecognised by Christ (verses 11-12). That is what Hell is! – because there can be no greater Hell than to live through eternity without the Lord Jesus Christ, without His presence, His provision and His recognition. Will you be ready when the Lord comes? Read verse 13 again.