Can you interpret the meaning of ten virgins who went to welcome the bridegroom?
The parable of the ten virgins is found in Matthew 25:1-13.
Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the prudent answered, “No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, “Lord, lord, open up for us.” But he answered, “Truly I say to you, I do not know you.” Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. (NASB) Matthew 25:1-13
Jewish Wedding Custom
The parable assumes that the reader understands some of the customs at a Jewish wedding. The Jewish wedding ceremony occurred at the bride’s home. When the wedding ceremony was over, the wedding party and the guests would travel to the bridegroom’s home for the banquet. The Jewish bridesmaids were to wait at the bridegroom’s home for the bridegroom and the procession to arrive. The bridesmaids had to be virgins according to Jewish custom. When the bridegroom arrived, the party would enter the home and the banquet would start.
In the parable of the ten virgins or bridesmaids, the bridesmaids were waiting for the procession to arrive at the bridegroom’s, or husband’s, home. Five of the virgins were foolish and five were prudent. The foolish ones did not bring enough oil for their lamps. They were waiting outside for the procession to arrive. The bridegroom, or husband, did not arrive until after midnight. As the bridesmaids or virgins waited for the bridegroom and the procession, the virgins eventually went to sleep. When someone announced that the procession was finally coming, the ten virgins awoke and the five foolish virgins went to obtain more oil for their lamps. The five foolish virgins were unbelievers. Unfortunately, the bridegroom and procession arrived while the five foolish virgins were away getting oil for their lamps. As a result, the five prudent virgins were present when the bridegroom and procession arrived. They entered the house and the banquet began. The five foolish virgins were not allowed to join the banquet.
This is a parable about Jesus’ second coming – His future return. In the parable the bridegroom represents Jesus Christ (Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; John 3:25-30). Thus the bridegroom and the bride are a picture of the Jesus Christ and the church or those who believe in Jesus Christ. Note that the church is commonly viewed as the bride of Christ in the New Testament (Eph. 5:25; Rev. 18:23; 19:7; 21:2, 9). The five prudent virgins who had enough oil are pictured as being those who believe God – Jesus Christ – and were anticipating and looking for the Bridegroom’s coming. The five foolish virgins are those who do not believe in Him and had rejected Him.
The message of the parable is that Jesus Christ will return at the end of the Tribulation with the church or His bride. Those who are who have believed in Jesus as their Lord and Savior and are living in the Tribulation when He returns will rule with Christ in the kingdom and live in the new heaven and new earth. The foolish virgins were unbelievers. They did not believe in Jesus and depend upon Him to forgive their sins. They were not ready. As a result they were excluded from the promise of living in heaven forever.
The parable of the Ten Virgins is a serious one since it is a warning to believe in Jesus Christ. There are no second chances. We must believe in this life. We cannot believe after we have died. This is a parable about the kingdom and consequently Jesus’ second coming – His return. But anyone who dies between now and then and does not believe in Jesus is foolish. After death there are no second chances.