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1. Proving Professing Christians
25:1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
The time referred to is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for his church. Scripture tells us that the church is like a bride (Rev. 21:2; Rev. 21:9) and Jesus Christ is the bridegroom (Mark 2:19-20). As yet the marriage has not taken place (Rev. 19:7-9), so the church is spoken of as a virgin; and consists of those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and made pure and holy by him.
25:2 Five of the virgins were foolish, and five were wise.
The church is divided into two kinds of people. Jesus calls half of them foolish and the other half wise. Who are these people? They are all professing to be Christians and appear to be part of Christ’s church.
25:3 When the foolish ones took their lamps, they did not take extra olive oil with them.
The five foolish only had the oil which was in their lamps; they did not take extra oil to refill their lamps. Since they did not know the hour when the bridegroom would come they should have made sure they had extra oil with them. These represent those people who embrace Christianity as a religion and perform religious rituals without embracing its fullness. Paul says they have a form godliness but deny its power or as the New Living Testament puts it “they will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly” (1 Tim. 3:5). They profess to be Christians but have no living experience of Jesus Christ.
25:4 But the wise ones took flasks of olive oil with their lamps.
The wise, however, took containers with them filled with oil ready to refill their lamps. These know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour in truth and experience. They endeavour to make certain that they remain ready, whatever hour their Lord comes.
25:5 When the bridegroom was delayed a long time, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
The bridegroom was delayed for a long time and they all became tired of waiting and fell asleep (1 Thess. 5:6; 2 Peter 3:3-4). The word “delayed” is used in almost every translation but we must not think that the time of the Lord’s coming will be delayed from God’s point of view. God has appointed the time for this to happen and it will take place at that exact time. From Paul’s letters we know that the early church expected the return of the Lord Jesus at any moment, but it has not happened yet. This is what may be considered by human standards as a delay.
25:6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is here! Come out to meet him.’
At midnight the cry went out that the bridegroom had arrived and the virgins were summoned to come and meet him (1 Cor. 15:52).
25:7 Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.
At the shout they all woke up and trimmed their lamps in readiness.
25:8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’
Because of the delay the inevitable happened; the oil in the lamps of the foolish ones had run out and they asked the wise to give them some of theirs. These professing Christians were just not ready for the coming of the Lord.
25:9 ‘No,’ they replied. ‘There won’t be enough for you and for us. Go instead to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
The wise told them that they only had enough oil to replenish their own lamps; there was not enough for everyone. They would have to go to those who sold oil to get some for themselves. Believers can share by word what they have received from the Lord Jesus Christ; they can tell of their experiences with him, but they cannot impart it to others. No one can live on the experience of another; we have to work out our own salvation (Phil. 2:12).
25:10 But while they had gone to buy it, the bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready went inside with him to the wedding banquet. Then the door was shut.
While they were gone, the bridegroom arrived and those who were ready and prepared went inside with him to the wedding feast. The door was then shut. This reminds us of the time of Noah when he and his family all entered the ark God shut the door (Gen. 7:16); the opportunity of being saved from the flood had past. So will it be when the Lord Jesus Christ comes for his church; the day of grace will end; the door will be closed and the opportunity of salvation will be gone (2 Cor. 6:2).
25:11 Later, the other virgins came too, saying, ‘Lord, lord! Let us in!’
A little later, the other five returned and stood outside calling for the Lord to let them in.
25:12 But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you!’
He answered them solemnly that he did not know them. Jesus Christ knows only those that are truly his own (John 10:14).
25:13 Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour.
In this final verse of the parable the Lord gives the warning that every believer should be watching, waiting and expecting his return; for no one knows the hour that he will come again (1 Thess. 5:2; Rev. 16:15).
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