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.
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.”
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.
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 .