Is there a syntactical clue- who's responsible for "not"(no extra?) had oil, and why not?

Context -Matt. 25:1- 13(ESV)

1“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lampsa and went to meet the bridegroom.b 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

4 Answers 4


The Parable of the Ten Virgins -Matt. 25: 1-3

1. This Parable is for Believers and Church, NOT for the world. (The message is foreign to the "World," for, it does not have the "ear to hear).

Major themes: a). The importance of the Believers of the prudent "living the Word" in keeping with their hope for the Day of the Glory. b). With due diligent preparedness, Believers can sleep securely knowing that they will be received by the Bridegroom. c). And, at the same time, a stern warning about a last-minute attempt will be too late to remedy the ignorant negligence. d). Ten virgins represent all of God's people waiting for the coming Messiah: the Israelites, the contemporary of Jesus - "my own (John 1:11) and Believers & Church in the N.T. era.

2. The parable has two parts:

1). Be prepared and ready to meet the bridegroom - Jesus (Jn.3:29; Matt. 9:15; Lk. 5:34; 2 Cor.11:12; Rev. 19:7).

2). The ultimate consequences: the "went in" or the "**door was shut" & I know you not."


v.1 - "Then" bring this parable into the scene of Jesus' second coming Jesus was talking.

v.2,3 -"Five were foolish...took their lamps ...took no oil with them"

  • "took no oil with them" - signifies, some oil was in the lamp, but not enough (v. 8).

  • "οὐκ ἔλαβον" (no took) oil: οὐκ (an objective negative) + ἔλαβον - (actively lay hold) signifies it was their call not to actively seeking to take more oil.

The five foolish represent Believer living a self-centered life, not God-centered, not living by faith in obedience to “Word” and “Spirit” (Mt.4:4; Rom. 8:14), rather doing and living what is right in their own eyes/thoughts (Judges 21:25). The foolish hears the word but not do them (Mt.7: 26-27). And, that was the foolishness of them!

“Five were wise...” – is the opposite of the “5-Foolish. ” They diligently lived a life as a “light” of the world enduring to the end.

v.5 - "..they all became drowsy and slept(=died)":

  • Does NOT signify being negligent or lapse for long waiting, nor is criticism for sleeping, since both groups slept.
  • Implies the window of opportunity for preparation and readying is closed and waiting for the resurrection to meet the coming bridegroom, the Lord Jesus."
  • "the bridegroom was delayed" signifies, the delay of the Parousia as God’s loving response to human behavior: God defers His final judgment to allow more people to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), and also for believers to prepare and be ready for the FINAL DAY:

The Lamp & Oil (metaphors) are two elements, the "two sides of one coin," essential for Believers for their preparation and readiness to meet the Bridegroom during the entire Believer's time on earth.

1). "Lamp" represents "The Word" (Psalm 119: 105) & the Holy Spirit (John 6:63)

2). "Oil" - The Holy Spirit cannot be the sole referent, because, you cannot buy Him, and He already abides in/with Believers. However, He, as the "Another Comforter, and the Spirit of Truth who guide believers and teaches the truth (John 16:13).

He leads and enables Believers to live in obedience to "the Word" and those who seek Him and yield to Him will excel in the preparation and readiness, and that is continuous supply of oil!

Act 1:3 - But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

 Romans 8: 26-27 - Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know 
 what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning 
 too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the 
 Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
  • @Justine M. Thanks!
    – Sam
    Commented Aug 9, 2020 at 17:43

The verse says "no oil" not "not enough oil". So how much additional oil did the others bring? The virgins' lamps were not intended to just greet the bridegroom, but also to burn through the whole night and help light the affair. This is why they said that if they gave some away, there would not be enough [for the whole night]. It was not stinginess as some have suggested.

If it is your job to burn a light all night long, then you are responsible to make sure you can do your job.

The larger context is that Jesus is teaching through a series, to be ready, and endure to the end. The clues are more contextual than syntactical.

So no. Syntax does not say. You must use context or inference to determine. Neither determines truth, being subjective by nature.

  • In view of v4, 8, the , it could mean "not enough."
    – Sam
    Commented May 18, 2020 at 12:21
  • "to be ready, and to endure" are the clues," are you not missing the most important point, as to why?
    – Sam
    Commented May 18, 2020 at 12:28
  • @sam I addressed the inference by examining how much the others brought. "Most important point"? now you are forcing an answer. Feel free to submit your own. The answer was "No. Syntax does not say. you must use context or inference
    – Bob Jones
    Commented May 19, 2020 at 14:23

Mt. 25:3-4: Should the 10 virgins know what's “ enough oil”? Is it possible to know? Was it their responsibility to know and prepare?

Whilst at the Mount of Olives, Jesus is answering his apostles' question about his coming and of the end of the age, obviously, the fulfillment will be observable by those living during his coming at the end of the age.

Matthew 24: 3 NASB " As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

One of the answers he tells them is the parable of the Ten Virgins:

Recommend reading the Parable of the Ten Virgins.


Matthew 25:1-2 NASB

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent."

The bridegroom is Jesus.

Earlier Jesus likened himself to the bridegroom:

Luke 5:34-35 (NASB)

34 "And Jesus said to them, “You cannot make the attendants of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? 35 But the days will come; and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.”

The Ten Virgins represents his followers, the little flock that will inherit the kingdom.

Luke 12:3,35 (NASB)

32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.35 “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.

The fact that, five are foolish and the other five are wise, does not mean that half of his disciples that will inherit the kingdom, are wise , and the other are foolish.Earlier Jesus told them to “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit."(Luke 12:35)Rather, Jesus is making the point that in connection with the Kingdom, each of his disciples has the capacity to choose to be vigilant or to be distracted.

Jesus continues.

Matthew 25:3-5 (NASB)

3 "For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. 5 Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep

There is a delay but at midnight there is a shout.

Matthew 25:6 (NASB)

6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’

What is the situation of the virgins, did they have sufficient oil to keep their lamps lit?,In other words were they spiritually vigilant?

Matthew 25:7-9 (NASB)

7 "Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 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."

Those that were ready went to the wedding feast and the door shut, the others?

Matthew 25:10-12 (NASB)

10 "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. 11 Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you."

Matthew 25:13 (NASB)

Jesus finishes his parable.

13 "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour."

Clearly, Jesus is advising his faithful followers that in connection with his coming, they will need to “keep on the watch.” He will be coming, and they need to be prepared and vigilant,​like the five prudent virgins, in order not to lose sight of their precious hope and miss out on the reward that can be theirs.

  • 1
    Perhaps the oil represents the preparation of a life of faith to get us through the night. John 9:4-5 "We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 21:03
  • Mike Borden: You are correct, the oil represents our faith which we must fight to keep illuminating in this darkened spiritually world. Commented Aug 9, 2020 at 18:26

The “Oil” (שָּֽׁמֶן) was linked to 5 anointed Offerings : Grain [Leviticus 2], Sin [Leviticus 5:11], Fellowship [Leviticus 7:11-15], Peace and Thanksgiving (Leviticus 7:10-13) . These 5 required Oil.

The “Bridegroom” references the “Kohen” [ Vayikra (Leviticus) 21:10] : ‘And the kohen who is elevated above his brothers, upon whose head the anointment oil has been poured or who has been inaugurated to wear the garments he shall not leave his hair unshorn or rend his garments.’ ‎( וְהַכֹּהֵן֩ הַגָּד֨וֹל מֵֽאֶחָ֜יו אֲשֶׁר־יוּצַ֥ק עַל־רֹאשׁ֣וֹ | שֶׁ֤מֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה֙ וּמִלֵּ֣א אֶת־יָד֔וֹ לִלְבּ֖שׁ אֶת־הַבְּגָדִ֑ים אֶת־רֹאשׁוֹ֙ לֹ֣א יִפְרָ֔ע וּבְגָדָ֖יו לֹ֥א יִפְרֹֽם )

The “Sleeping” Maidens reference the “dead” [ Vayikra (Leviticus) 21:11] : ’And he shall not come upon any dead bodies; he shall not defile himself for his father or his mother.’ ‎( וְעַ֛ל כָּל־נַפְשֹׁ֥ת מֵ֖ת לֹ֣א יָבֹ֑א לְאָבִ֥יו וּלְאִמּ֖וֹ לֹ֥א יִטַּמָּֽא )

The “Wedding Banquet” references the 5 anointed offerings received at the “Sanctuary” [ Vayikra (Leviticus) 21:12-13] : ‘He shall not leave the Sanctuary, and he will not desecrate the holy things of his God, for the crown of his God's anointing oil is upon him. I am the YHVH.’ ‎( וּמִן־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ֙ לֹ֣א יֵצֵ֔א וְלֹ֣א יְחַלֵּ֔ל אֵ֖ת מִקְדַּ֣שׁ אֱלֹהָ֑יו כִּ֡י נֵ֠זֶר שֶׁ֣מֶן מִשְׁחַ֧ת אֱלֹהָ֛יו עָלָ֖יו אֲנִ֥י יְהֹוָֽה) ‘He shall marry a woman in her virgin state.’ ‎( וְה֕וּא אִשָּׁ֥ה בִבְתוּלֶ֖יהָ יִקָּֽח)

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