So often I’ve heard the teaching that the 5 virgins without the oil who were locked out of the wedding feast is evidence that one can indeed lose their salvation. This is one scripture that scares my wife as she has been badly influenced by the bondage of our Armenian friends. This certainly is not a “lose your salvation” scripture. If the “oil” represents the Holy Spirit as many believe, how could anyone tell someone to go buy that which represents the Holy Spirit. So obviously Jesus was not teaching one needed to have enough oil…He was obviously emphasizing that one need to be known of God. Any thoughts?
Yeah, people love to reinterpret parables to fit their leanings, and I know that many believers have been traumatized by what is often taught by this one. Parables were simply familiar stories that were used to bring home a point. Not lots of points, not fodder for dissection, not structures of doctrines … just a simple point. We use illustrations in the very same way. Now, I don’t know about you, but when somebody objects to an illustration I used because of some nit-picky point that doesn’t seem to fit, I pretty much realize that the person totally missed what I was saying. The same applies to the parables Jesus spoke. I just don’t think parables contain the finer points we’ve imagined them to have. The people heard the story and they simply got it or they didn’t.
Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:1-13
There was a whole line of stories Jesus told about the need for the people to be prepared for what was to come. This parable added to what he was telling them from the previous story, which described how the servant in charge took advantage of the delayed arrival of his master and the evil within him moved him to treat those under him poorly … but before he knew it, the master came back and dealt with him accordingly. The familiar scenario of a delayed wedding created a distinction between the wise and the foolish. The foolish weren’t prepared for a delay, they assumed they had what was necessary; the wise knew that things didn’t always go smoothly, so they prepared for it. The way Jesus presented it, the foolish virgins were not only unprepared, but also were said to be not known to the bridegroom. Did the bridegroom just forget who they were because they didn’t have enough oil … or did their lack of bringing extra oil merely reveal their true natures? The same with Jesus having told the self-righteous that he did not know them, depart from me! This is not a story about a God who holds a grudge based upon some technical details, it is a story that described the night and day distinction between those who are known by God and those who are not.
By the way, I do have something written on three connected parables in Matthew 25