The Mistakes of the Five Foolish Virgins


We are continuing to look at what Jesus taught about the Last Days and His Second Coming. He told a parable about ten virgins waiting to light up the way for the Bridegroom, a picture of the Lord Jesus in His coming. All ten were asleep before the Bridegroom came, but five had made ready extra oil, while the five foolish prepared nothing extra. They were not expecting that the Bridegroom would be coming so late at night:

7“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 9“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ 12“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ 13“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:1-13).


When I was younger and working with my father on his commercial fishing boat, I never learned to swim. Then came a time when I fell overboard and nearly drowned. My mistake was to put off until a later date that which I needed to learn. I have now learned to swim! This foolish lack of action is the same mistake that the five unwise virgins had made. They always meant to get their lives right and prepare themselves with more oil. But they never did anything to prepare for the eventuality that their lamp would need to be alight. This need for action before the coming of Christ is the primary emphasis of the parable—do not put off to a later date getting prepared for the arrival of the bridegroom. Be ready and always on the watch, because you do not know the day or the hour (Matthew 25:13).


Hell is populated with people that meant well. They may have heard of Christ and intended to get their lives right with Him, and then suddenly came a time when they needed to know Him, and it was too late. On that day, many will come to the door only to find it shut, and the Master at the door will tell them that He doesn't know them. I don't want to imagine their faces when they find the door closed on them. You cannot wait until that day to make your decision about what you will do with the claims of Christ. Many have the intention of turning their lives over to Christ, but they will be shut out of joy eternal.

The five foolish virgins made a big mistake thinking there would be another opportunity when the time came. Do not make the same error. The bridegroom will come at a time you are not expecting Him (Matthew 24:44). They were not expecting the bridegroom to arrive so late into the night. The unwise virgins made assumptions as to the timing of His return. They heard that He was coming early, and they believed it! They were not prepared to endure the darkness.

Another mistake they made was to think that they could come later and find the door still open. When the foolish virgins finally arrived, they were surprised to see that there was no entrance for them. Some Bible teachers today say that after the Church is taken out of the way, there will be a second opportunity—do not believe it! Do not contemplate any thought in your mind that, after Jesus comes for His Church in the rapture, there will still be an opportunity to get in. I see here no time whatsoever between the coming of the bridegroom and the shutting of the door.

I want you to think of the anguish of the hearts of those who put off getting their lives right with God. You may say, "Why did not the wise share their oil? That's not very Christian of them!" A relationship with God cannot be on your terms; God requires you to come on His terms, through the substitutionary death of Christ. William Barclay said, “A man cannot borrow a relationship with God. He must possess it for himself. A man cannot borrow a character; he must be clothed with it. The time to make sure you are ready is now.” Keith Thomas

If you would like to explore this topic in more depth, in the All Studies box at groupbiblestudy.com, click on the Parables of Jesus, then click on the Parable of the Ten Virgins.