Matthew 25:1 (Who Do the Ten Virgins Represent?)

We have seen that the ten virgins, like those in the parable of the wedding feast who would come to the marriage supper of the Lamb, are not the Bride herself, but represent those who would become a part of the Bride of Christ.  But do they represent someone more specific than that?  What is the significance that they are described as virgins?  Cf. Psa 45:14 and think: What do we call a retinue of young women in a wedding party today?  Notice that the NRS and NLT even translate virgins as bridesmaids.  What is the function of the bridesmaids in a wedding?  What is the counterpart for the Bride of Christ to the bridesmaids who attend to the bride and her preparations for the wedding?  I.e., who is it that attends to the Church as Christ’s Bride and her preparations for the marriage feast?  See Eph 4:11-13.  What then is the relationship of this parable to the preceding context?  Recall that while Jesus’ warning to keep watch applies to everyone seeking the kingdom of God, in the immediately preceding parable (Mat 24:45-51) He made clear that it applies especially to those whom He had put in charge of His household to give them their rations of spiritual food at the proper time.  Hence the virgins more specifically represent the apostles themselves, and by extension to all those who attend to the Bride of Christ in her preparations for the wedding feast at which she is joined to Him; cf. 2Co 11:2.

Consider also Rev 14:1-5 and notice that in Rev 14:4 the one hundred forty-four thousand who were purchased from among men as first-fruits to God and to the Lamb are described (literally) as virgins (see KJV; same Greek word as here in Mat 25:1).  In Rev 7:1-8 these 144,000 are enumerated from the tribes of Israel and then contrasted in Rev 7:9 with “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues”.  Hence, even more specifically the virgins represent those first fruits from among men, whether it be the Jewish fathers, the apostles, or those in any age or location who are among the first of a much greater harvest to believe, and therefore attendants to the corporate Bride in her preparations for the marriage supper of the Lamb.  In what way did the nation of Israel, the virgin daughter of Zion (Isa 37:22), attend to the Bride of Christ in preparing the Church for the wedding feast?  See Isa 2:3, Joh 4:22, Rom 3:1-2, 9:3-5, 11:17-18, Rev 21:9-14.  Recalling that the Church as the Bride of Christ is not an individual at a point in time but an entity that transcends time, in what sense were all the many saints who have gone before us preparing a people to be the Bride of Christ?  In what way are we still today also preparing a people to be the Bride of Christ by teaching the truth and living righteous and holy lives?  How does this help us to understand Jesus’ command to His disciples in Luk 12:35-36 to keep their lamps alight and be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast?  See Joh 10:16 and think: although like bridesmaids in preparing the corporate Bride for the Bridegroom, and participants in the wedding feast of those they personally prepared, even within their lifetime were any of the apostles participants in the many other feasts at which the Lord was entering into a covenant relationship with peoples throughout the world?  Notice also that the Greek word used for the wedding feast is typically used in the plural, in reference to the seven days of feasting over which it typically took place—seven being the number of spiritual completion and perfection; cf. Jdg 14:17, Est 1:5.  Are we not still awaiting, hopefully with our lamps alight, our Lord’s return from those days of feasting and the spiritual completion and perfection of His Bride?

In this light, what is the significance that there are ten virgins in the parable?  Think: what does the number ten represent throughout Scripture?  Think: How many times did Laban change Jacob’s wages?  See Gen 31:7.  How many plagues did the Lord bring upon the Egyptians?  Hint: Nile to blood; frogs; gnats; swarms of insects; pestilence on livestock; boils; hail; locusts; darkness; death of the firstborn.  How many commandments were written in stone?  See Deut 4:13, 5:22.  How many times did those whom the Lord delivered from Egypt rebel against Him in the wilderness before He forbade them from entering the land of promise?  See Num 14:22-23.  How many witnesses did Boaz gather when he took Ruth for his wife?  See Rut 4:2,9-11.  For how many days were Daniel and his friends tested with their own food to see that they were healthier than those fed with the king of Babylon’s food?  See Dan 1:12-15.  How many horns representing power and authority did the beast in both Daniel’s and John’s vision have?  See Dan 7:7, Rev 13:1.  How many silver coins were there in Jesus’ parable so that they were not complete with even one missing?  See Luk 15:8.  How many leprous men were cleansed but only one Samaritan returned to give thanks and glorify God?  See Luk 17:12.  To how many slaves did the master give a mina a piece to conduct his business while he was away?  See Luk 19:13.  For how many days did the Lord say the church in Smyrna would have tribulation?  See Rev 2:10.  As the number ten represents a completeness, why is it appropriate in the parable that those virgins whom we understand to be the first-fruits throughout history who attend to the bride and her preparations are described as being ten in number?  Are there then any Christian workers in any generation to whom the warning communicated in the parable of the ten virgins does not apply?

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