Matthew 25:1–13 Commentary: How Should the Wise Virgins Welcome the Lord?
The Parable of the Wise Virgins
Thesaid, “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened to 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 comes; go you out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to 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 you 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, Truly I say to you, I know you not” (Matthew 25:1–13).
Does Reading the Bible and Praying Often, Working Hard and Waiting Attentively for the Lord’s Coming Make One a Wise Virgin?
Each and every brother and sister who sincerely believes in the Lord hopes to be a wise virgin who can welcome the return of the Lord Jesus, our Savior, in, and attend the feast with Him. To this end, some people often read the Bible, pray and stay alert and prepared, some people work hard, make donations and expend themselves, and some people punctually attend gatherings and wait attentively for the coming of the Lord, and so on. Each and every one of us prepares, expends ourselves and waits in our own way, and we strongly believe that we are the and that we will certainly be able to welcome the return of the Lord. And yet, nowadays, there are more and more occurrences of famines, plagues and earthquakes all over the world, wars are breaking out all the time and there are frequent appearances of the awe-inspiring blood moons; the omens presaging the Lord’s return have now basically been fulfilled and, as should be expected, the Lord should return. We have stayed alert and prepared for so many years, however, so how come we have not yet welcomed the Lord? Some brothers and sisters cannot help but begin to worry: “Is our preparing oil in this way at odds with the Lord’s will? What exactly are the wise virgins? And what are the foolish virgins? How should the wise virgins prepare oil in order to welcome the Lord and attend the wedding feast of the Lamb?”
What Are the Wise Virgins?
With regard to these questions, we can find the answers by looking at which people recognized the Lord Jesus as the prophesied Messiah and which people lost the Lord’s salvation two thousand years ago when the Lord Jesus came to the world to perform His work. At the end of the Age of Law, more and more people were in danger of being put to death because they were unable to keep the law. In order to save man from being condemned and cursed by the law, God incarnated as the Lord Jesus and performed the work of redemption, He brought the way of “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17) to man and He performed many miracles, such as calming the winds and the sea, feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fish, and bringing the dead back to life with a word. Those who truly sought the truth and who yearned for God to appear, such as Peter, John and Matthew, perceived the authority and power of God in the words and the work of the Lord Jesus. They therefore recognized Him as the Messiah who was prophesied to come, and so they followed the Lord and received His salvation. Furthermore, the Samaritan woman heard the Lord reveal her secrets buried in her heart. She realized that only God could bring all a person’s darkest secrets into the light, and thus she recognized the Lord Jesus as the Messiah, as The Pharisees tried to find fault in the Lord Jesus’ words, they judged and blasphemed against Him and they deceived and obstructed the Jewish faithful from following Him. They even went so far as to collude with the Roman authorities to crucify the Lord Jesus. Thus, they became people who believed in God and yet defied Him, they offended God’s disposition and they became subject to the wrath and punishment of God.. These people heard the voice of God in the words the Lord Jesus spoke, and they recognized the Lord Jesus as God Himself—they were the wise virgins, and they were the ones who welcomed the Bridegroom and attended the feast alongside Him. As for the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees, however, although they were well-versed in the Bible, although they preached the gospel far and wide, suffered greatly and paid a great price, they were arrogant and conceited and they clung to their own conceptions and imaginings, believing that someone who was not called Messiah could not possibly be God.
From this, we can see that the wise virgins were wise because they took heed to listen to God’s voice and, once they were able to understand God’s voice, they were then able to accept the truth and welcome the appearance of God. The foolish virgins, however, were the exact opposite. They did not understand God’s voice, and so even though they heard the utterances of God, they still did not go forth to seek, they did not accept them, and they did not submit to them. They just stubbornly clung to their own conceptions and imaginings and they rejected the appearance and work of God, and thus, ultimately, they lost. This sufficiently proves that whether or not one can become a wise virgin is not predicated upon how long one has believed in God, how much knowledge of the Bible one understands, how much one appears to work and toil or how much one suffers or expends oneself, but rather it is predicated upon whether or not one takes heed to listen to God’s voice and whether or not one can understand it. Just as the Lord Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). If we live within our own conceptions and imaginings and we believe that all we need to do is read the Bible, pray, stay alert and prepared, attend gatherings, wait attentively, work hard for the Lord, make donations and expend ourselves, but we do not take heed to listen to God’s voice and we do not seek or investigate them even when we hear the utterances of truth, then we will be apt to become foolish virgins and we will be abandoned by the Lord!
How Should Wise Virgins Prepare the Oil to Welcome the Lord’s Return in the Last Days?
The Lord Jesus has told us long ago how we should prepare the oil to welcome His return. The Lord Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16: 12–13). “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him” (Matthew 25:6). “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). And in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation, it is prophesied many times: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” From this, we can see that, when the Lord Jesus returns in the last days, He yet has things to say to the churches and He will lead us to understand and enter into all truths. To say this another way, when the Lord Jesus returns, He will use His utterances to seek out His sheep. The wise virgins are possessed of both heart and spirit, and when they hear someone testifying the news of the Lord Jesus’ return, they are then able to positively and actively seek out and listen to the voice of God. Over a period of seeking and investigation, the wise virgins are then able to recognize the Lord’s voice and, in this way, they are then able to open the doors to their hearts, welcome the Lord in and attend the feast alongside the Lord.
When we hear the news of the Lord’s return, then, how can we recognize the voice of the Lord? What key points should we grasp?
1. The Words of God Are Expressions of His Disposition, and They Possess Both Power and Authority
As we all know, in the beginning, God used words to create the world and all things. No sooner does He utter a word than it comes to pass. God speaks and it is done and He commands and it stands fast—this is the most obvious trait of the words of God. In the time of the Old Testament, God promised that the descendants of Abraham would be as numerous as stars in the sky or as grains of sand, and thus it came to be. Everything God says will be accomplished, and this is the authority and the power of His words. Jehovah God said, “Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me, And showing mercy to thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments” (Deuteronomy 5:9–10). The Lord Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). “Why I say to you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven to men. And whoever speaks a word against, it shall be forgiven him: but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:31–32). “But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22). The words of God carry authority and power, and they carry God’s disposition. From God’s words, we can not only see that His words rule and administer all things, but we can also see that His words give promises and bestow blessings on people, and they can also curse the rebelliousness and defiance of man. Toward those who love Him, God is filled with mercy and lovingkindness, and toward those who defy Him, He is filled with majesty and wrath, thus allowing us to see His righteous disposition that brooks no offense. From this, we can see that the words of God are all expressions of His disposition and of what He has and is and that, even more so, they carry the unique authority and power of the Creator. No human being can speak the words of God, and if we can understand this trait which God’s words possess, then we will be able to accurately recognize the voice of God.
2. God’s Words Can Reveal the Mysteries of God’s Management Work
The utterances of God will necessarily be able to reveal the mysteries of His management work. For example, it was prophesied in the Old Testament that Elias would come, but when he did come, no one recognized him. Only when the Lord Jesus unveiled this mystery, saying, “And if you will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come” (Matthew 11:14), did people realize that John the Baptist was the prophet Elias. Moreover, the Lord Jesus said: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like to a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:47–50). “Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Only when the Lord Jesus unveiled the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven did we come to understand that only those who truly repent and who do the will of the Father in heaven may enter into the heavenly kingdom. The wicked who do not truly repent, on the other hand, will be unable to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Besides this, the Lord Jesus also prophesied that He would return, and that the Son of man would perform the work of judgment in the last days and perfect a group of people into overcomers before the arrival of the disasters. He also prophesied such things as the manifestation of the kingdom of Christ. Why was the Lord Jesus able to tell us of these mysteries? It was because the Lord Jesus was God Himself, and only God knows what kind of people the kingdom of heaven wants, what work God will perform in the last days, and what He shall finally achieve with His salvation of mankind. That is to say, only the utterances of God can reveal the mysteries of God’s management work and no human being can attain to them. This is a trait of the voice of God.
3. God’s Word Is the Truth That Can Resolve Our Real Problems and Show Us the Path of Practice
The Lord Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Each and every word God speaks is the truth and God is the spring of living waters that expresses the truth, supplying us with a steady flow of truth according to our needs as corrupt mankind and allowing us a way forward. Toward the end of the Age of Law, for example, people could no longer keep the law or the commandments, and all were in danger of being condemned and put to death by the law. God personally incarnated as the Lord Jesus and appeared and performed His work. Upon the foundation of the law of the Old Testament, He expressed the way of repentance and showed those who followed Him the specific path of practice they needed. In relation to prayer, for example, the Lord Jesus said: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). “But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matthew 6:7). In relation to people getting along with each other, the Lord Jesus said: “For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:46–48). “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:1–2). From the words spoken by the Lord Jesus, we gained a new way that was higher than the law and all our manifold real problems and difficulties were resolved. At the same time, we also found a more accurate path of practice, and when we practice in accordance with the Lord’s teachings, we are then able to enjoy the work and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and our relationship with God draws closer. It is therefore evident that these words expressed by the Lord Jesus were what people needed in the Age of Grace and, even more importantly, they became our life supply. So what words will God express in the last days to lead us? In order to understand this question, there is a fact we should first be aware of: The Lord Jesus performed the work of redemption and, although we have been forgiven through our belief in the Lord, our sinful nature remains unresolved, and we are therefore still capable of sinning frequently and of being unable to put the Lord’s teachings into practice. The Lord is holy, and unless our sinful nature is cleansed away, then we have no way to obtain the Lord’s praise. That is why the Lord Jesus prophesied that He would return in the last days to speak His words and to perform the work to cleanse and save man. The Lord Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16: 12–13). “And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12 47–48). In Hebrews 9:28, it says: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation.” We can see from this that, in the last days, God will use the truth to judge and cleanse man and to save us utterly from the bonds of sin. Those wise virgins who are waiting attentively to hear the Bridegroom’s voice should be somewhat inspired. If they hear someone preaching that the Lord has returned to do His work of judgment, then, they should listen with rapt attention. So long as the words can expose their corruption, show them the path to be cleansed free of sin and supply them with life, then these words will indeed be the voice of God.
4. God Scrutinizes the Innermost Heart of Man and He Can Both See Through to and Expose the Corruption of Mankind
God is the Creator and His Spirit scrutinizes all things. God knows us like the palm of His own hand, and only the words of God can expose the source of our corruption and the essence of our nature. For example, the Lord Jesus was, meaning that He was the Spirit of God in heaven actualized as an ordinary flesh. Therefore, the words spoken by the Lord Jesus were able to immediately expose our human nature essence. As we all know, the Pharisees at that time were people who served God with piety in the eyes of the common Jewish folk. The Lord Jesus, however, scrutinized the innermost heart of man, and He saw through to the essence of the Pharisees’ nature which loved unrighteousness and hated the truth, and He exposed the Pharisees by saying: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27). “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13). “You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33). God scrutinizes the innermost heart of man and can see through to the sin that lies within our hearts. He knew the Pharisees’ nature to be one that hated the truth and that hated Him, and He knew them to be antichrists who had set themselves against Him. The Lord Jesus therefore exposed the Pharisees’ wicked deeds and He condemned them for their sins. We can therefore see that God is the truth and the word of God is the light, and all darkness and evil must be revealed by His words! In the last days, God expresses the truth to judge all of our unrighteousness and He needs must expose all our satanic corrupt dispositions of which we remain unaware, so that we may come to know our own corruption. Only by being like the wise virgins and having a heart that reveres God and accepts the truth will we be able to receive God’s salvation of the last days.
Here above are the main principles and paths on how we can discern God’s voice. By understanding and grasping these principles, when we hear someone testifying that the Lord has returned and brought to us the utterances which the Holy Spirit speaks to the churches, and when we positively and actively seek it out and listen to these words with our hearts, then we will be able to correctly recognize the voice of God and welcome the return of the Lord. Therefore, if we wish to become wise virgins, then we should relinquish our conceptions and imaginings, focus on listening to God’s voice, discern it to be God’s voice, and then accept and submit to it, and follow closely the footsteps of the Lamb. Only by doing this will we be able to enjoy the ever-flowing supply of the living water of life and attend the wedding feast of the Lamb. If we hear the utterances of the returned Lord and we do not seek them, we do not accept them, but instead are held bound by our own conceptions and imaginings, believing that as long as we read the Bible and pray often and work hard for the Lord then we will be able to welcome the Lord Jesus, and we do not seek or investigate God’s work of the last days, then we will become foolish virgins, and we will have forever missed our chance to obtain God’s salvation of the last days!
Thanks be to the enlightenment and guidance of God. May we all become wise virgins who can welcome the Lord Jesus’ return and attend the feast by His side. Amen!