The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Saint Matthew 25:1:-13)

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only God and Our Only True Savior,

[Gospel of Saint Matthew 25:1-13]

The Parable of the ten virgins, who await the coming of the bridegroom and have gone out to meet him, is found in the Evangelist Matthew. However, certain details have parallels also in the Apostle Luke (St. Luke 13:25).

Then shall the Kingdom of Heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (St. Matthew 25:1-13).

Saint Macarios the Great writes:

The five wise virgins, watchful and alert, had taken oil in the vessels of their heart. That oil, not part of their own nature, means the grace of the Spirit. They were enabled to enter with the Bridegroom into the heavenly bridal chamber. The other five virgins, however, were content with their own nature. They neither watched nor busied themselves to receive the oil of gladness [Psalm 44:6] in their vessels, while they were yet in the flesh. Instead, they sank into sleep through carelessness, slackness, idleness, and ignorance, or even fancied righteousness. Hence, they were shut out of the bridal chamber of the Kingdom, unable to give satisfaction to the heavenly Bridegroom. Held fast by their tie to the world, and by some earthly affection, they did not give their whole love or passionate devotion to the Heavenly Bridegroom; thus they were not provided with oil.

Souls that seek the sanctification of the Spirit, which is outside of nature, fasten all their affection upon the Lord. It is in the Lord that they walk, pray, and employ their thoughts, turning away from all else. For this cause, they are privileged to receive the oil of heavenly grace. This enables them to succeed in coming through without falling, giving perfect satisfaction to the spiritual Bridegroom. Those souls, however, content with what belongs to their own nature, creep upon the earth in their thoughts. Not only do they employ their thoughts upon earth, but their minds have their whole existence upon earth. In their own estimation, they appear to belong to the Bridegroom, and to be adorned with the ordinances of the flesh. Nonetheless, they have not been born of the Spirit; and they have not received the oil of gladness. [Fifty Spiritual Homilies, Homily IV]

Saint John Chrysostom writes:

This Parable admonishes us to remain diligent in almsgiving. It counsels us to help our neighbor by every means available to us, since it is impossible to be saved in any other way...

For nothing is more sullied than virginity without mercy...What was the profit of virginity, when they saw not the Bridegroom? Even when they knocked at the door, they did not obtain; instead, they heard the fearful saying, "Depart, I know you not". When he said this, nothing else but hell is left, and that intolerable punishment...

This Parable was spoken with respect to mercy in almsgiving...It is also that we might learn how close Christ is joined unto virgins that strip themselves of their possessions; for this indeed is virginity. [Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, Homily LXXVII)

Saint Gregory the Great writes:

As it is written: "The day of the Lord shall come as a thief in the night" (1 Thess. 5:2). Then the virgins shall awake, because both good and wicked are roused from the sleep of death. They shall trim their lamps, that is, they shall count the number of their good works for which they hope to receive the reward of eternal happiness. However, the lamps of the foolish virgins shall fail. This is because their works, seen so clearly by men, shall wane and vanish at the coming of the Judge. From God, they shall receive no recompense, for men gave them the praise they esteemed so highly.

The blessed will rejoice in their recompense, when they enjoy that vision of Him in Whose presence the elements tremble. They will then go in with Him to the marriage. As they rejoice in the nuptials of the Bridegroom, they themselves will be the bride; for in the bridal chamber of the eternal Kingdom, they are united forever to their God. Thenceforth, that vision can never be snatched from them. The door of the Kingdom will close forever upon those left outside, who then will weep.

However, that same door is now open to all penitents. There will be repentance then, but it will be fruitless. When the Bridegroom comes, those that wasted time that might have be used for repentance shall not find pardon. Thus Saint Paul warns us: "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). The Prophet Isaiah says: "Seek ye the Lord, and when ye find Him, call upon Him" (Isaiah 55:6). [Parables of the Gospel, "The Ten Virgins) (Source: Mystagogy Resource Center)


Please note: The Parable of the Ten Virgins, of the wise and foolish virgins, who symbolize our souls, indicates that both those who believe in the Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and those who hope to enter into the Heavenly Kingdom, will be subjected, their faith notwithstanding, to a final trial at the Dread Judgment and then received into the Kingdom of Heaven or rejected for ever.

Saint Seraphim of Sarov writes: "In the Parable of the wise and foolish virgins, when the foolish ones lacked oil, it was said: "Go and buy in the market." But when they had bought, the door to the bride chamber was already shut and they could not get in. Some say that the lack of oil in the lamps of the foolish virgins mans a lack of good deeds in their lifetime. Such an interpretation is not quite correct. Why should they be lacking in good deeds if they are called virgins, even though foolish ones? Virginity is the supreme virtue, an Angelic state, and it could take the place of all other good works.

I think that what they were lacking was the grace of the All-Holy Spirit of God. These virgins practiced the virtues. But in their spiritual ignorance they supposed that the Christian life consisted merely in doing good works. By doing a good deed they thought they were doing the work of God, but they little cared whether they acquired thereby the grace of God's Spirit. Such ways of life based merely on doing good without carefully testing whether they bring the grace of the Spirit of God, are mentioned in the Patristic books. 'There is another way which is deemed good at the beginning, but it ends at the bottom of hell.'

Not every "good work", according to the teaching of Saint Seraphim of Sarov, has spiritual value; but only those "good works" ("works of charity") are valuable which are performed in Christ's name. In fact, it is easy to image (and this often happens) that unbelieving people perform good works. But the Apostle Paul says of them; And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:3).

From the Parable of the Ten Virgins, it follows quite clearly that only a person's earthly life in God, according to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and, consonant with the Kingdom of Heaven, will serve as his justification both at the particular judgment (after death) and at the General Dread Judgment. But all "formal" Christians, who live out of contact with God and do not care about their salvation, prepared for themselves the portion of those who were rejected, "No one mounts to heaven while living coolly", teaches Saint Isaac the Syrian. Neither "formal" faith, without a life according to the commandments of our Lord Christ (St. Luke 6:46; St. James 2:22; Romans 2:13).

Spiritual preparedness cannot be conveniently given or borrowed. The Parable of the Ten Virgins encourages the proper use of God's gifts: to bear fruit.

The standard of judgment is uncalculated mercy toward the needy. The works produced by faith are emphasized, for a saving faith produces righteous works.



O Master God, Father Almighty, Only-Begotten Son, Lord Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit: One Godhead, one Power, have mercy on me, a sinner, and in Your knowing ways save me, Your unworthy servant; for you are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George