The Prophetic Parable of the Ten Virgins

If I had to single out one end times prophecy that is more important than all the rest, I would pick the parable of the ten virgins that the Lord used to illustrate important details of His answer to the disciples’ question, “When will these things happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

The reason I would choose this prophesy is because it illustrates and warns us concerning the most tragic event in the future of the church, the great “apostasy” or falling away from the faith of the “foolish virgins.”

The Lord’s answer to His disciples provided an outline (perfectly aligned with the Revelation given to John) of the events that would take place in their own lives, events that would take place prior to the end times (“not yet the end”), and the final escalation of events that would impact the end times church.

He divided these end times events into three phases: 1) “the beginning of birth pains”; 2) “tribulation”; and 3) “great tribulation.”

The metaphor of birth pains itself provides us with a great deal of information. Assuming that Pentecost was the moment of conception, the initial contractions signaling the impending birth event (the return of Christ) would take place in a relatively short time span at the very end.

Based on the Lord’s prophetic revelation to John it is likely that the beginning of birth pains corresponds with the opening of the first seal of Revelation, the rider of the white horse.

Thus we are currently in the latter stages of that time He referred to as “the beginning of birth pains.”

Therefore, many who are reading this will experience the life or death struggle facing the end times believers our Lord identified as the “wise” and “foolish” virgins.  And He has warned us in advance of this pivotal event, which includes the shocking apostasy of the “foolish” virgins, many of whom will then become participants in the harlot church presided over by the false prophet.

See, I have warned you beforehand. Matthew 24:25

Make no mistake. This parable given to Peter, James, Andrew and John as a specific warning for the end times church, provides details that identify all ten virgins as born-again, regenerated believers in Jesus Christ.  It also provides specific details concerning the fact that the “foolish” virgins were once included in Christ, but they are ultimately included in the judgment of the unrighteous at the end of the millennial kingdom.

I cannot imagine a more tragic fate, and I urge those who hold to the Calvinist doctrine of “once saved, always saved” to continue reading, because those who do not believe that it can happen are in more danger than those who believe that it is possible to reject one’s faith.

The faithful and wicked servants (Matthew 24:44-51) and the parable of the talents following the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:14-30) also clearly indicate and illustrate the fate of the “foolish” virgins.

“Servants” in both of these passages are clearly those who initially belong to the Lord. And the fate of the “wicked” (apostate) servant is punishment as he joins the pretenders and hypocrites (those who profess faith but are not of the faith) where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The fate of the (apostate) servant who hid the master’s talent and did nothing with it is similarly punished.

And throw the good-for-nothing servant into the outer darkness; there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Matthew 25:30 Amplified

Be warned then all of you virgins and servants of the Lord, and pay attention to what He is telling us in the parable of the ten virgins, because this is our future and the future of our children and grand-children.

 Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.

Ten is the number of corporate completion, and this passage represents the early years of the church when the entire body of Christ was “awake” and vigilant in their faith and discipleship as they expected the soon return of the Lord.

Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them,  but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.

All ten have lamps filled with oil (souls inhabited by the Holy Spirit), but the defining difference, even in the early church, is that the “wise” have made provision to maintain the oil of the Holy Spirit in their lamps while the “foolish” have not made that same proactive provision.

What that means in practical terms is that the “foolish” have allowed institutional religiosity, false doctrine, and false practice to quench their vigilant, active, revelatory “hearing” and “obeying” of the Lord’s truth, promises, and commands.

We see this tendency even in the early church as Paul constantly engaged in the apostolic correction of church fellowships in which the “doctrines of demons” had been introduced by “unscrupulous men,” men who themselves were deceived by demonic influence in order to quench the light of the Holy Spirit coming from the lamps (souls) of the believers in those churches.

The ultimate result, discernible in a study of church history, is that the entire body of Christ eventually fell asleep (lost its vigilant pursuit of the revelatory “hearing” and “obeying” of the Lord’s truth, promises, and commands).

Thus the glory of the Lord that descended upon the 120 upper room believers, empowering the early church, gradually waned, and by the 4th century the entire body of Christ was beginning to metaphorically “fall asleep.”

As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept.

This, then is our current condition, though portions of the body of Christ have experienced the “beginning of birthpains,” which became identifiable by the early eighteenth century.

Yet, the body of Christ as a whole, has not, yet, received the wake up call, and Satan has been busy putting out the fires of revival  wherever it has taken place.

But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’  Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.

“Cry” in this instance is like a warning cry. It will be heard by every born again, regenerated disciple of Jesus Christ. It will be identifiable in scripture, and it will be accompanied by the first generally recognizable outpouring of the Spirit as a restoration of the former rains “moderate” rains (on the OT prophets) combined with the latter rains “on all flesh” (all believers) that fell on the church on that first Pentecost.

This event is likely to coincide with the end of the black horse rider’s influence at the time of the Islamic third jihad attack on Israel (Ezekiel 38 and 39) and the beginning of the of the pale green horse rider’s influence, which is the opening of the 4th seal of Revelation.

Thus the body of Christ will have already experienced the economic chaos, famines, pandemic diseases, and constant warfare identified with the black horseman, Islam, but the ensuing testing of both the “wise” and “foolish” virgins will take place during the 4th, 5th, and 6th seal of Revelation, which includes that time specifically identified by the Lord as “tribulation.”

This announcement event will take place in a time in which the frequency and intensity of the birth pains has become noticeable to many in the body of Christ, but the actual warning cry and revelatory announcement by the Holy Spirit will likely coincide with nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare in the Middle East, preceded by worldwide economic collapse and accompanied by the greatest earthquake in recorded history as it occurs during a single day when the Muslim alliance conducts an all out attack on Israel (Ezekiel 38 and 39).

And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’

Two things are notable here: 1) the “foolish” virgins recognize that their lamps are going out and are not burning brightly like those of the “wise” virgins, and; 2) the wise virgins instruct the foolish how to obtain additional oil for their lamps, so that their lamps will not go out.

When we examine the original Greek in this passage we note that the wise virgins are telling the foolish that they must go to the source of the oil in order to “buy” oil from Him.

This is exactly what the Lord instructs the Laodicean church to do (the church that has blended truth with error and doesn’t know the difference) in His letter primarily intended for the end times church.

He tells the Laodicean church that they need to “buy” from Him the gold of spiritual riches (paid for through the testing of their faith), the white clothes of true righteousness (paid for through genuine obedience by faith), and salve for their blind eyes (paid for by seeking the truth at all costs) so they can “see” by revelation.

This is the testing of the foolish virgins. Will they repent of their false doctrines and false practices, which include “doctrines of demons,” or will they, out of institutional intellectual arrogance and spiritual pride, like the rich young ruler and the Pharisees of the Lord’s own day, reject the Lord’s instructions?

And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut.

What this indicates is that the “foolish” virgins are only partially responsive to the instructions given to them by the Lord through the “wise” virgins.

I was once given a dream by the Lord concerning my own passive-aggressive, procrastinating response to the revelation of His will in my life.

In the dream the right side of my face was paralyzed, then the left, and back to the right. As He awoke me one minute before my alarm was set to go off I asked Him for the meaning of the dream.

The Spirit revealed that the right side of my face was the Lord’s positive, “go and do” instructions, and the left side of my face was the Lord’s negative, “thall shalt not” instructions. Thus He revealed that my procrastinating failure to act in both instances (metaphorically identified as my face being paralyzed) was, in fact, disobedience, or, as I have stated elsewhere, the deliberate trampling underfoot of the revealed will of the Lord.

Thus, what the “foolish” virgins are guilty of is a passive-aggressive, partial response, which is the disobedience demonstrated by the “wicked” servant and the servant who hid his talent and did nothing with it.

Thus at the visible return of the Lord on the last day as all the saints, living and dead are resurrected, the “foolish” virgins are “away,” which is a metaphor for having become apostate.

Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

“Afterward” is the “last resurrection,” the resurrection of the unrighteous dead to the great white throne judgment, and the “foolish” virgins who once “knew” Him (were intimately acquainted and joined to Him by the presence of the “oil” of the Holy Spirit) are now separated from Him and subject to the punishment of the “wicked servant” and the servant who hid his talent and did nothing with it.

It is not surprising, then, that “foolish” virgins will interpret this verse and this parable, along with the other parables of the Olivet prophecy, as being applicable to nominal “Christians.” But the terms “virgin” and “servant” are indicative of born-again, regenerated believers, not merely religious adherents to a Christian belief system.

Likewise, His use of the phrase, “I do not know you,” is specifically distinct from the phrase He uses as He addresses nominal Christians at the same judgment by saying, “I never knew you.”

This parable grieves me beyond my ability to express, just as the actual events will grieve the Lord, because I know that there will be members of my own church fellowship and my own family and friends who will be among the “foolish” virgins.

Therefore, I will not relent of my passionate pursuit of His revelatory truth, the exposing of Satan’s lies, and the need for determined, pro-active responses to the revelation of His will in all things, great or small.

 Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. …(This is the Lord’s warning to the entire believing church from its beginning until the resurrection of the saints, and the key phrase is, “be on the alert.”)

Thus the two great warnings that the Lord has given us for these times is, “Be on the alert.” and “Do not be deceived,” (or “misled led by deception”).

The key to understanding the difference between “wise” and “foolish” virgins, is whether or not they have made provision, or planned and determined, to keep the oil of the Holy Spirit in their lamps (souls). An elaboration concerning what this might or might not entail would be exhaustive, but our assumption concerning what kinds of things could lead to the “foolish” classification would include the following:

  1. Failure to keep and maintain the pure doctrine of the original apostles;
  2. Allowing the introduction of false teaching, false doctrine and, even, the doctrines of demons, into accepted church practice;
  3. Substitution of religious acts and works for genuine acts and works of faith;
  4. A reliance on priests, prophets, and pastor-teachers to tell us what to believe instead of teaching believers how to receive and confirm truth for themselves;
  5. The acceptance of division, controversy, and religious in-fighting as being “normal” for the church, and;
  6. Both the failure to rely on and promote the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, and the corruption and perversion of doctrines and practices related to the Holy Spirit.

The remedy for the “foolish” virgins is seen in the Lord’s instructions to the awakening end times church as first given to the seven churches in Asia Minor and recorded in Revelation 2 and 3 but most applicable to the awakened end times church whose response to the Lord’s letter will either result in BLESSING or in CURSING.

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times…(when?)… some…(individuals)… will fall away from the faith…(revolt and leave their initial standing)…, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron… 1 Timothy 4:1 NASB (inserts and emphasis are the author’s)

This shocking truth has been nullified by the presumptive doctrine of the unconditional, eternal security of the believer, and many will depart from the faith because they believed the lie and the tradition of “once saved, always saved” and were not prepared to endure tribulation.

I am not quick to call any doctrine “heretical,” but any doctrine that twists or denies the truth related to the unique nature and person of Christ and the covenant redemption in Him by grace through faith are, by nature, heretical.

Be very careful, then, not to reject the truth presented to the church both as a warning and an instruction in the parable of the ten virgins.


Jim Sayles