Who are the Foolish Virgins?

Who are the foolish virgins? None of us think it’s us, but Jesus indicates that half his followers may be foolish virgins.

Who Are the Foolish Virgins?

This is the fourth article in the series “Why is the Rapture Debate Important?”

In the First Article, we examined whether one can take the Mark of the Beast and still be forgiven. We decided the answer was no.

In the Second Article, we discussed why the rapture debate is necessary and why Churchgoers with weak faith are at risk of falling away. In that article we discussed the three parables Jesus told his disciples after delivering the Olivet Discourse, his teaching on the Tribulation and his return. These parables are Jesus’s primary instruction on how he wants his end time teaching applied.

In the Third Article, we examined Jesus’s warning to Christian leaders in the Parable of the Head of the House, the Thief and the Master (Matt. 24:43-51).

In this article we’ll examine the Parable of the Ten Virgins. The pressing question in this article is who are the foolish virgins? They have the door of heaven closed on them, a fate no one wants.

The foolish virgins are virgins, someone keeping themselves pure from the world. We are also told they are awaiting the return of the bridegroom. This is a way you might describe a Christian, yet, they fall away so we know they are not true Christians. Let’s examine that falling away a bit closer.


As we discussed in the video accompanying the second article, Jesus’s three parables that follow the Olivet Discourse in Matthew are applications of his end time teachings, applications that center on apostasy or the falling away. In that video we discussed how those who fall away are churchgoers attending our churches who are unsaved. They think they are Christians but are not. They may believe Jesus is the Son of God, they may believe in his sacrificial death on the cross, but they don’t have FAITH in those beliefs. They aren’t saved, they have a human-form of belief rather than what comes from above.

As Jesus taught in the Parable of the Sower:

The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. (Matt. 13:20-21)

Those that fall away have a temporary kind of belief (not faith). But as James tells us “The demons believe also, and shudder” (Jam. 2:19). Belief alone is not faith.

So IMO, the foolish virgins are churchgoers who think they are Christians, but are not.

When does the Parable Take Place?

There is a common theory associated with the Pretrib. Rapture, that the foolish and the wise virgins are those who come to faith during the Tribulation, after the Bride of Christ is already in heaven (according to their belief). Those who hold to this theory, ask why Bride isn’t present in the parable and only the virgins who they call “attendants” or “bridesmaids.”  Some English Bible translations even mistranslated virgin as “bridesmaid.” This theory claims the absence of the Bride in the parable demonstrates that this is a parable about the physical Second Coming, not the Rapture.

Jesus told a lot of parables. He didn’t include a Bride in any of them. There must be a reason. There is. The Bride is depicted in Rev. 21.

I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. (Rev. 21:2)

The Bride of Christ is the New Jerusalem and all its inhabitants which descends after the Millennial Kingdom. It is not the Church as is commonly thought, but is comprised of the one New Man (Eph. 2:15) Jew and Greek. It is all of Jesus’s redeemed.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Gal. 3:27-28). 

So even at the Rapture, the entire Bride does not enter heaven, rather the Jewish remnant is part of that eventual Bride and they are still on earth at that point.

Also, in the Parable, Jesus is depicted as a groom not a husband. If he had been married to the Bride for 7 years, he would be a husband not a groom!

So why are there ten virgins waiting for one groom? Is Jesus marrying more than one? No, he is marrying the New Jerusalem! But that Bride is made up of a vast multitude of those that have placed their faith in Jesus and those who will.

So in conclusion, the Parable takes place at the coming of Jesus to Rapture those made Righteous by his blood.

Meaning of the Parable

Now that we have settled some of the more controversial issues, that this takes place at the Rapture and that all the virgins are churchgoers, the meaning JUMPS to life.

All the churchgoers are sleeping prior the darkest hour:

Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.  But at midnight there was a shout [Gk: krauge, meaning clamor or screaming]. (Matt. 25:5-6)

This is a key verse. Every one is sleeping prior to the coming of Jesus. What does this mean? It means that right now, no one knows when Jesus is coming. We are all oblivious-we are asleep to the proper time. But a clamor is coming.

At the darkest hour (midnight) a clamor will come. Now because our English bibles say its a “shout,” many misinterpret it to be the “shout” that accompanies Jesus descent from heave seen in 1 Thess. 4:15-17. However, these verses use different Greek words. Because this is another misunderstood part of the parable, here is what HELPS word study says about krauge – the word for clamor.

HELPS Word-studies

Cognate: 2906 kraugḗ (from 2896 /krázō, “cry out”) – loud crying, done with pathos (great emotion); clamorous screaming (shrieking) that is extremely boisterous, like a wounded person emitting “unearthly” (non-human) types of sounds.

When will the people of the world emit sounds of unearthly screaming like a wounded person? There are two possibilities, either during the GREAT TRIBULATION or at the CELESTIAL EARTHLY DISTURBANCE when the tribes of the earth mourn.

I used to favor the Great Tribulation, but lately I think it is the CELESTIAL EARTHLY DISTURBANCE that heralds the coming of Jesus. No one can sleep thru that event. Here’s why I think it’s the Celestial Earthly Disturbance:

  • It will appear like “midnight” when the sun and moon darken
  • The statement that follows, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him” implies our ability to see him
  • Third, it is only at the Celestial Earthly Disturbance the whole world knows Jesus is coming; we are no longer asleep as to the day.

It is at that moment that all the virgins, wise and foolish, “trim” or prepare and light their lamps. Now the word translated “lamp” in the English is another unfortunate word choice. The Greek word is actually lampas or torches.  This is the same word used in Revelation 4:5 for the seven spirits before the throne of God.  lampas is a bright, shining SALVATION, not a dinky lamp to light your own way.

The Fate of the Foolish Virgins

But unfortunately, the foolish virgins do not have enough “oil” to keep their torches lit. THIS IS A KEY UNDERSTANDING. What is oil but the oil of anointing of the Holy Spirit? As we have claimed from the beginning of this article, the foolish virgins are those who think they are Christians, but really aren’t. They don’t have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and their salvation torch has no flame.

The Wise Virgins

But the wise virgins were ready because they had the oil of the Holy Spirit.

The bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. (Matt. 25:10)

So the wise virgins are raptured and taken into the wedding feast.  What follows are some of the saddest words in the Bible, “and the door was shut.”

Jesus’s Explanation

After the door was shut, the foolish virgins came pounding on it and crying out for Jesus to let them in, but it was too late.  They thought they were Christians right up until the moment the door was closed! Then Jesus then told them one other thing that they lacked:

But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’  (Matt. 25:12)

Jesus didn’t say the foolish virgins didn’t know him, he said that he didn’t know them. A big difference. So these foolish virgins may have believed he was the Son of God. They may have believed he died for the sins of the world, but they had no faith. And one other thing:

If anyone loves God, he is known by Him. (1 Cor. 8:3)

This then is the cryptic meaning behind the phrase, “I do not know you.” The foolish virgins without faith didn’t love God. They loved themselves. And when the moment of testing came, they fell away.

And if Jesus knows us, he will confess us before the Father (Matt. 10:32). All who love him with agape love  will enter the wedding feast.

Be Vigalent

Jesus concludes the parable with the same warning he gave his followers in the previous parable and throughout his applications of his teaching on the Tribulation:

 Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. (Matt 25:13)

Why does Jesus conclude the parable this way? If the foolish virgins had been alert would they have been saved? Jesus certainly implies this.

If so what does being alert mean? What are we to be alert for? How is this related to not knowing the day or hour?

Somehow the unsaved foolish virgins were more likely to fall away because they weren’t alert . The Greek word translated alert is gregoreo meaning alert, watch, vigilant, such as keeping sentry watch at night.

Paul presents this theme in 1 Thess. right after his famous rapture passage (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

The day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.  While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief.(1 Thess. 5:2-4)

Paul is careful to show that the the Day of the Lord will come upon the unrepentant as a thief in the night and take them by complete surprise. He is just as careful to point out that it will not surprise the righteous.

Pretribulationalists say this is because the righteous are raptured first, before the Day of the Lord (so that they don’t face the Day of the Lord).  So does Paul say the righteous will not be taken by surprise by the Day of the Lord because they escape it, or because of something else?

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;  for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.  (1 Thess. 5:4-6)

This says nothing about escape. It says the righteous will not be surprised because:

  • They aren’t asleep
  • They are alert
  • They are sober (not drunk)

Being asleep, drunk, or not watchful impairs someone’s ability to OBSERVE what is going on around them. Being awake, alert, and sober allows one to be able to SEE.

Therefore when you SEE the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place. (Matt. 24:15)

True Christians will be able to SEE and identify the Antichrist when he arises. They will understand the sin of taking the Mark of the Beast.

Watchfulness and the Pretrib. Rapture

If you have been taught your entire life that you will be raptured to safety prior to the rise of the Antichrist, what if he does arise? Will you not recognize the sign Jesus gave us as the primary visual signal of the end times? Will you say:

  • I’m supposed to be raptured prior the the Antichrist so this can’t be him
  • Matt. 24 is for the Jews only, I don’t have to pay attention to the signs in it
  • Thus it is safe to take this Mark

Do you realize what a horrible brew of deception this is?

How being alert to the signs Jesus has given us leads to the salvation of the unsaved who are relying on weak, human belief as opposed to faith;  I don’t know. But Jesus clearly commands us to be alert for the signs of his coming .


17 thoughts on “Who are the Foolish Virgins?”

  1. (This may sound like a pretrib position, but that isn’t my intent.)

    What if Jesus meant what He said when He said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of Israel?” I think we make a mistake when we try to make the parables about the church instead of Israel. The 10 virgins who are all waiting on the bridegroom are Israel, not the church. Let’s do the math.

    Jesus said His coming will be like the days of Lot. Before destruction rained down upon Sodom the angels came to rescue Lot and his family. Lot and his wife, two daughters, and two sons-in-law. Six people were to be rescued. Only three made it out alive, half. One turned back and was made a pillar of salt, 1/6th of the total. (Luke 17:32, Remember Lot’s wife?) And, two did not heed the call and were killed, 1/3rd of the total. So, half were saved. 1/6th were turned into salt. 1/3rd were left to die because they did not believe. Zechariah 12-14 is a single narrative about Israel which says…

    Zechariah 13:8 And it shall come to pass in all the land,”Says the Lord, “That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, But one–third shall be left in it:

    At the rapture, from the vantage point of the left behind, 1/3rd of Israel will be left to be refined. 2/3rds of Israel will be cut off. 1/2 have been saved and entered heaven. 1/6th will start to go out to meet the bridegroom and will turn back and will be turned into salt pillars. Remember Lot’s wife? One half plus one sixth equals two thirds. Finally, 1/3rd will be left in the land to be refined like silver in the furnace. All those over 20 will perish in time, just like the Israelites in the wilderness 40 years. Some of their kids, including the 144k, will grow up and return to the Lord. A new batch will enter the promised land for the Millennium, just like ancient history. (Though I realize most do not understand this yet, believing the 63rd week is a future 70th week.)

    Jesus will not renege on His promise to save those who believe in Him, no matter how nominal they are. It is disappointing that some teach that Jesus isn’t good for His word. That is basically what is being done when one believes the 10 virgins are the church. If the Father draws one to know the truth of Jesus, it is not in vain. It isn’t a cruel joke. The parables are not about the church. The scriptures are not written for the righteous, but so that sinners may come to repentance, just as Jesus said was His mission also.

    By the way, the 1/6th of Israel being turned into pillars of salt is not a metaphor or literary hyperbole. It is literal, just as Solomon prophesies.

    Wisdom 10:7 Evidence of their wickedness still remains: a continually smoking wasteland, plants bearing fruit that does not ripen, and a pillar of salt standing as a monument to an unbelieving soul. 8 For because they passed wisdom by, they not only were hindered from recognizing the good, but also left for humankind a reminder of their folly, so that their failures could never go unnoticed.

    1. All of the OT and all of Jesus’s teachings were given to Israelites. But IMO it is a mistake to think these teachings are only for Israelites. The New Covenant in Jer. 31 for instance is give to the houses of Israel and Judah, not to the church. Again, as I stated in the last comment, there is one new man, neither Jew nor Greek. Some branches were cut off! and others grafted in. The cut off branches however, can be regrafted in (Rom. 11).

  2. This is really great stuff dear Nelson.
    And yes, the Rev22 Bride will be the Book of Life, which was from the foundation of the World, and which wont be completed until the end of the Millennium.
    I wish WordPress had a like button for the comments!

    Now, the primary application of this parable is, of course, to those whom Jesus was teaching- the Jews. How can we apply it to them?

    I’ve found 4/5 refs to Virgin Israel.
    Jer 14:17 (daughter) Jer 18:13, 31:4, 31:
    Amo 5:

    Some refer to Israel in her unbelief, but the Jer 31 refs are v interesting, they refer to Millennial Israel:
    vv 2-4
    “The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel!”
    vv 20-21
    “Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the Lord.
    Set up road markers for yourself; make yourself guideposts; consider well the highway, the road by which you went. Return, O virgin Israel, return to these your cities.”

    Israel in the Millennial State is the Israel that survives the end time judgements. She is indeed a virgin in the LORD’s eyes, but she will only “know” the LORD AFTER her troubles, Jer 30 Jacob’s Trouble.

    However, those of Israel who receive Yeshua’s work on their behalf PRIOR to Jacob’s Trouble, those who receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, will be raptured with the redeemed of the Gentiles.
    BOTH groups are virgin in the LORD’s eyes, are they not?

    One final note. In Hosea 2, Hosea buys back Gomer. Though an adulteress, her redemption price has been paid, and she is once more under Hosea’s protection and his provision BUT, and this is a HUGE but, he doesn’t have sex with her any more, he doesn’t “know” her.

    This perfectly describes Israel in her present condition, does it not. God has provided for her and protected her in her Diaspora. She was always in his Household, though in unbelief towards Yeshua. Now she has been gathered, albeit incompletely, she is still largely in unbelief.

    However, though she doesnt yet “know” Yeshua and Yeshua doesn’t yet know her, Israel is still a virgin to him. He sees her final Millennial condition when ALL Israel will be saved, ALL Israel will finally “know” Yeshua. Ez 39:22

    The wise ones of Israel will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit BEFORE the Day of the LORD.

    So much of our end times understanding is directed towards the Church and what she will encounter. But should we not also pay close attention also to the LORD’s final consummation with Israel AFTER the Day of the LORD.

    After all, he has patiently waited for this coming DAY of the LORD for a very long time, has he not.

    Dear Nelson, I hope you will feel that what I have written here accords well with what you have written. I believe that it does, but if you have any further observations, I should be delighted to receive them.

    I’m most grateful for your present writings, all of them. They are exceptionally stimulating!

    God bless you from the UK!. Chris Moyler

    1. Thanks Chris, those quotes are exceptionally inspiring to me. Perhaps I will do a followup article on them once I completely figure out how they apply – but that they do relate I have no doubt.

  3. Hi Nelson
    Thanks for your articles. I was always taught that the Bride of Revelation 21:2 was just the Church but you rightly point out that it will be the one New Man of Ephesus 2:15, both Israel and Gentile redeemed. That fits perfectly! Thanks.

  4. Another excellent post. Preparing pre-trib Christians for disappointment (not being raptured away before the coming of the Antichrist) and explaining why they must not give up faith and fall away in the Great Apostasy is very important. We must love God not just when we feel blessed but even when we are being strengthened and refined through suffering and overcoming it. Keep up the good work, Nelson!

  5. I think your next book should be about how to love God!

    Really, I always question myself each time I fail to love my enemies… When will I ever be able to constantly love Him as I should?

  6. Interesting article Nelson.

    I remember sitting in a service listening to David Wilkerson. He told us of a young man, who got saved, was baptised in the spirit, and for years worked as a leader in one of his teen challenge homes. Unfortunately he died away from God having got caught up with some occultists. To be honest i wouldn’t like to say he was never saved. Its a hard one for sure.

    Could i ask you a question about being ready please. In Matthew 24, Jesus gives warning to flee Jerusalem at the sight of the gathering armies, he tells them to flee,without going back for clothing.

    Yet in Luke 17, he appears to give a similar warning in connection to his “Revealing”.

    30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

    31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.

    Don’t seem to be able to find an answer to why he would use these words in connection to his appearing, only when to flee the anitchrist.

    Thank you

    1. Linda, Luckily God is the judge in all those areas you describe, we don’t have to judge.

      Matthew gives the warning not to take a clothing in regard to fleeing from the Abomination of Desolation to those in Judea.

      Luke gives a similar warning (without mention of going back for clothes) in Luke 21:20-21.

      Luke (17:34-36) and Matt. (24:40-41) also prophesy that one will be taken and one left.

      Luke however gives this instruction about the rapture in Luke 17:31-33 “On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”

      I think the line “remember Lot’s Wife” is the key to understanding. Obviously when the angels come it is time to go with them with no delay. And it seems there is opportunity to delay or Jesus wouldn’t have given this warning. Lot’s wife “looked back” and turned into a pillar of salt. “The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” (Gen. 19:23-26)

      The angels warned them not to even look at the destruction, so obviously looking is a problem as well as physically going back.

      1. Sincere thanks for that reply Nelson.

        At least i was reading it correct, and it was referencing the rapture.(smiley face)

        I guess i just didn’t figure that some would even try to delay(I certainly wouldn’t) I obviously came to realise that its not the rapture that will be in the twinkling of an eye, but the change from immortality to mortality, i see that these verses further prove this.

        Its like the old saying isn’t it, the more we learn, we realise how much more we need to learn.

        Thank you.

        1. Your points are well taken Linda, yes the rapture isn’t in the twinkling of an eye, the change to immortal bodies is.

          At the rapture, I’m not sure its wanting to delay as not being ready to move on to a new form of existence, possibly leaving family and friends behind. Although, I for one, and not at all sure what will be happening at that point that Jesus is warning us about.

  7. The angel of death came at midnight. Job: Midnight. Groom comes for the bride at midnight. Samson: Midnight. Prophets: Midnight/Noon. Psalms: Midnight. At Jesus’s death: the Sun was dark from Noon to 3 PM.
    At what Feast do the lamps burn (Chanukkah). Chanukkah can be the rapture month in the year of Jubilee when the 120 th JUbilee meets up with the 70th Jubilee and the 40th Jubilee.
    Dec 12-17 is just around the corner. Haggai 2 ties into John 10. Chanukkah by way of cross references ties into Psalms 22:8-9.

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