Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the End of the Age Part V: The Parable of the Ten Virgins -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 129:514 (Apr 1972)
Article: Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the End of the Age Part V: The Parable of the Ten Virgins
Author: John F. Walvoord


Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the End of the Age
Part V:
The Parable of the Ten Virgins

John F. Walvoord

[John F. Walvoord, President, Dallas Theological Seminary, Editor, Bibliotheca Sacra.]

Matthew 25, the second and final chapter of the Olivet Discourse, is divided into three sections. The first two sections are the familiar parable of the ten virgins and the parable of the talents, concluding the section of illustration and application which began at 24:32. The final section, 25:31–46, predicts the judgment of the Gentiles after the second coming of Christ.

There is something, however, that ties all of these three sections together, that is, each of the sections emphasizes the fact that when Jesus Christ comes the saved will be separated from those who are lost. Whether it is the virgins, the parable of the talents, or the sheep and the goats of the Gentiles, this is the point that is being emphasized. The second coming is a day of reckoning for those who await His coming in the earth.

The Ten Virgins as an Illustration

In this familiar parable of the ten virgins, our Lord uses the custom of a bridegroom claiming his bride as an illustration of Christ coming for His own. The oriental wedding had three stages: (1) the parents of the bridegroom and the bride would agree on the marriage of their children and the dowry would be paid. This was the legal marriage; (2) sometime later, according to their customs, the bridegroom accompanied by his friends would proceed from his home to the home of the bride to claim her as his own. Traditionally, this procession often took place in the middle of the night. The bride, prepared for his coming, would join the procession which would then return to the home of the bridegroom. and

(3) friends would join the procession in order to participate in the marriage feast which was held at the home of the bridegroom. Such a feast would often continue for days depending upon the wealth of those involved. A wedding, accordingly, had three stages: (1) the legal stage, arranged by the parents, (2) the procession, or the bridegroom claiming his bride, and (3) the marriage feast.

In the illustration which Christ uses, ten young virgins, unmarried friends of either the bride or the bridegroom, await the return of the procession from the home of the bride to the home of the bridegroom in order to join in the festivities. According to the custom, they brought with them olive oil lamps which were fitted to poles so that they could be held aloft to ill...

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