“The Parable of the Ten Virgins: An Explanation, Analysis, and Interpretation,” by Andrew J. Schatkin

“The Parable of the Ten Virgins: An Explanation, Analysis, and Interpretation,” by Andrew J. Schatkin

This parable is one of the most familiar told and related by Jesus in the gospel of Matthew, 25: 1-13. In this parable, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were said to be foolish and five wise because when the foolish took their lamps they took no oil with them but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. While the bridegroom was delayed, they slept, but at midnight there was a cry that the bridegroom had arrived and they should come out and meet him.

Then all the maidens arose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish wanted the wise to give the foolish some of their oil because the lamps of the foolish were going out. The wise replied that there would not be enough for both groups and advised the foolish to go to the dealers and buy oil for themselves. While the foolish went out to buy them, the bridegroom came. Those who were ready went with him to the marriage feast and the door was shut. Afterwards, the other maidens came saying, “Lord, Lord open to us.” The parable ends with the sentences, “I do not know you. Watch therefore for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

This parable may be seen as an allegory of the coming of Christ. Christ is the bridegroom and the ten virgins are those people Christians who are awaiting him coming. The idea behind the parable is that we must be prepared, that is to say expectant, Christians for the coming of Christ. Those who in their lives are ready for his coming are welcomed to the heavenly feast. Those who are too late in the preparation in their lives are excluded from the heavenly feast and banquet. Those who do not live their lives in Christ and are not ready when he comes will be told he does not know them. The ultimate admonition is to keep watch and be alert for none of us knows the day of the hour we will be summoned to be with Christ. In short, I think this parable should be seen as an allegory of the coming of Christ and the fact that we must be ready at all times since we in the Christian community or, better put, as individual Christians will never know when Christ will welcome us to his presence. If we have not been ready morally and spiritually correct in our lives to that point, then we will not be ready; and, not being ready, we will not be welcomed to share in the joy and happiness in eternal life with Christ in the world and days to come.

This essay is taken, with alternations and modifications, from my book entitled, “The Parables of Jesus: A Personal Commentary,” pub. by Hamilton Books, 2018, pp. 61,62.