Matthew 25:1-13 (NIV) reads:

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ 13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Did the 5 foolish virgins lose their salvation or were they never saved to begin with?

  • Interesting question. Note the 'Lord, Lord' phraseology is the same as in Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven." There, Jesus says "Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you'". If we think this applies here, then he never knew them, so they were never saved to begin with. Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 22:56
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    @AnthonyBurg they were virgins were they not? So they might not have gone in to the chambers with the bridegroom but they certainly qualified to begin with. I don’t agree with your assessment. And the word to ‘know’ is intimately know, it’s not like he never knew them at all. If I’m trying to get to NY and heading east but midway turn around and head west, you can’t say that I was never heading to NY just because I didn’t make it. Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 23:03
  • @NihilSineDeo Not following your argument here. They qualified to go in with the bridegroom like ... all people in some abstract sense? Or were they some select group? I don't know, but I take the virgins as standing for all people who potentially can be saved. To use your analogy, if you don't get to NY you were never saved, despite heading in that direction for awhile. Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 23:12
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    @AnthonyBurg they were virgins, they had a lamp and they had oil. That means they accepted to be saved. The Gentiles do not have lamps and oil no matter what they do, they haven’t even come into the possibility of being saved. Virgins are obviously people who have accepted to be for the bridegroom, they have accepted, unbeliever are not waiting for Him. So they would have remained saved if they would worked out their salvation. But they were lazy. Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 1:10
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    @AnthonyBurg - can you have the Holy Spirit and not be saved at the same time?
    – user38524
    Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 5:06

10 Answers 10


In answering this question, we MUST remember that it is a PARABLE!! It is not necessarily literally true but teaches an important spiritual lesson.

However, we observe several things about the foolish virgins who are distinguished ONLY by the amount of oil they possessed. Note the comments of Ellicott:

(3) Took no oil with them.—In the interpretation of the parable, the lamp or torch is obviously the outward life of holiness by which the disciple of Christ lets his light shine before men (Matthew 5:16), and the “oil” is the divine grace, or more definitely, the gift of the Holy Spirit, without which the torch first burns dimly and then expires. The foolish virgins neglected to seek that supply, either from the Great Giver, or through the human agencies by which He graciously imparts it.

Note that oil is an occasional metaphor for the Holy Spirit in other places as well, Luke 4:18, Acts 10:38, 2 Cor 1:21, 22, 1 John 2:20. However, the important fact is that the possession of the oil is what permitted the five wise girls to enter the wedding and what excluded the five foolish girls.

Since both the wise and foolish virgins both had the oil (whether the gift of the Holy Spirit or not) we may deduce that they had both been introduced into the membership of God's people. We see this same idea in other places. For example, Heb 6:4-6 also teaches that some “who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit…” can fall away. Jesus taught the same idea in other parables as well -

  • Jesus’ parable of the vine (John 15:1-8) says two interesting things: (a) that branches (connected to the vine of Jesus) that do not bear fruit are cut off (v2); and (b) the bearing of fruit is to prove that we are Jesus’ disciples.
  • Jesus’ parable of the sower, or perhaps the parable of the soils (Matt 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, Luke 8:4-15) contains several classes of people (soils) who start out well in the Christian life but lose their way. The conclusion is also significant: “by their constancy bear fruit”. (Luke 8:15)
  • Jesus’ parable of the banquet (Luke 14:16-24) contains a very good example of people rejecting the call (or “election”) of God as well as God having to ask some people more than once and begging them to the wedding banquet. Jesus’ conclusion is, again, significant, “not one of those men who have been invited shall taste of my banquet.” In the parallel passage of Matt 22:1-14, Jesus concludes by saying, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Heb 10:19-35 contains an extended passage on enduring. It contains some real gems about the possibility of losing one’s faith and confidence such as:

  • V26: If we(!) deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left
  • V29: How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them and who has insulted the Spirit of grace. This verse clearly shows that it is possible to be sanctified and subsequently lost.
  • V35: Therefore, do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward. o V36: You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised.

Thus, it is entirely possible that those who were once God's chosen people can decide to disconnect themselves from God's offer of salvation and be lost.

Here are more examples of this:

  • Ps 69:28 contains a plea for David’s enemies to be blotted out of the book of life!
  • Eze 18:21-28 also teaches that the wicked can reform and be saved, and the righteous can apostatise and be lost. Both situations are incompatible with Calvinism’s view of salvation and humanity.
  • Rom 11:17-21 discusses the warning that people who had been grafted into the “olive tree” of the Christian community could be broken off if they were unfaithful.
  • 1 Cor 9:27 Paul says he disciplines his body to keep it under control so that after preaching to others he does not become a castaway/disqualified. That is, Paul believed that it was possible that he could lose his way and become lost.
  • 1 Cor 10:12 also contains a stern warning from Paul, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”
  • 1 Tim 6:10, For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
  • 2 Peter 2:21, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”
  • 2 Peter 3:17 contains a very stern and sobering warning to be on guard that we do not fall from our secure position. Verse 14 contains a similar warning.
  • Very good answer! Thank you! Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 1:20
  • What a Fine Answer. You have blessed me tremendously here Commented Apr 1, 2022 at 10:04
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    @FaithMendel - many thanks for your kindness - I am honored to be of service.
    – Dottard
    Commented Apr 1, 2022 at 10:05

When you asked ‘where they saved’, you need to exercise caution. You cannot apply the term ‘saved’ as it is understood in this church age, that is, after the cross. This ‘parable’ is pre-cross. But more so, this is a kingdom parable. And, being ‘saved’ in the Kingdom of Heaven (which is not the same as the Kingdom of God.) depended on ‘doing the right thing’. ALL the parables directed at the Kingdom of Heaven were about ‘doing the right thing, that is, righteousness, but a ‘works’ based righteousness.

So, you question should be, were these virgins doing the ‘right’ thing, not, we’re they ‘saved’. Now, these foolish virgins were *not doing the right thing.

You need to put this parable into the exact, correct context. This parable is retelling the part of the Song of Solomon where the bride is awaiting the groom. We also know this because on the day Jesus gave this parable, that was the designated daily reading of the Torah for that exact day! And, using the Song of Solomon, we can clearly see exactly why these virgins were foolish.

And so, the ‘oil’ is not, and can not be associated with the Holy Spirit which had not yet been given, which the Jewish audience would have had zero concept of - where as they would have all been aware of the Song from the Torah.

  • " You cannot apply the term ‘saved’ as it is understood in this church age, that is, after the cross. This ‘parable’ is pre-cross." Perhaps you could expand on your understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven, as it seems crucial here. Are you saying the Kingdom of Heaven existed only before the cross, and afterward was the Kingdom of God? Or ...? Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 19:10
  • You did not explain if the 5 foolish virgins were saved or not. So who were the virgins that Jesus said, "I don't know you"? How do you know that this same day was the designated daily reading of the Torah for a Song of Solomon for that exact day? Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 19:11
  • Also, how do you reconcile Matthew 19:23-24 (seemingly interchangeable use of 'Kingdom of Heaven' and 'Kingdom of God') with the idea these are separate concepts? Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 20:14
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    @Anthony Burg Appreciate the response. Sounds like you’ve already thought this through. I know often my viewpoint(s) aren’t necessarily the ‘traditionally held’ ones, hence can invoke reaction, but the reason I enjoy this forum is that these get ‘tested’. Cheers!
    – Dave
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 0:07
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    Dave, I think this is relevant to your discussion with @AnthonyBurg: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/4251/…
    – user38524
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 2:39

The working of the Holy Spirit in one’s life is a sign of being saved. It is an ongoing process in a born again Christian. It is important to note that one can fall out of this relationship with the Spirit at any time in one’s life while waiting for Christ’s return. So, it is important to constantly be in a trust relationship with the Godhead, like a branch always being connected to the Vine.

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    Commented Jan 15, 2022 at 19:39

The logic of the parable makes it absolutely clear and unequivocal that the fault lays on those virgins and their foolishness is not a divine or natural datum, but a self-inflicted one. This being the case we can safely conclude the only possible outcome: if the reason of the virgins' falling out of presence of the Bride (which indicates salvation), is solely their self-inflicted foolishness, then, since they were on their way to salvation and meant to be saved by God as other virgins, it means that they were potentially among the saved pending their cleverness, but since they retained not the cleverness out of their self-inflicted foolishness, they have fallen out of salvation.

  • Very good summary. +1.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 15, 2022 at 22:02
  • @Dottard Thanks! Your comment is very fine with many pertinent quotes! Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 2:43

My take on this is that all 10 were purged of sin thus having a virgin heart. No sin. you must endure to the end, if not Jesus and God being one the same Have the power to revoke the salvation.

When you get saved your heart is purged of all past sins thus a virgin at heart. You are white as snow. It's up to you to stay as pure as you can by seeking to be like God, praising God to the end like the apostle Paul said, you must endure to the end. You can't be saved and not continually serve God.

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    – agarza
    Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 21:23

If one can lose their salvation then there can be no such thing as assurance of salvation and, by extension, any form of lasting peace in the knowledge that one is a child of God.

Paul's experience in Romans 7 clearly shows the conflict between his sinful body and his God-seeking spirit. Paul confesses that he does things that are sinful and fails to do things that are righteous. To what DEGREE can one know that their life has passed the threshold of 'being saved' in a life of such conflict? One cannot. I may be a right-living saint in my 60's but still aware of the incessant pull of the flesh into sin and pleasure and realize that at any moment I may stumble into sin. So, how can anyone, at ANY point in their life say that they are incapable of falling prey to their inherent sinful desires that never go away until death?

Ie., if salvation can be lost then nobody who has had any real knowledge of what flesh and Spirit are can lay claim to assurance of anything. Paul clearly states in Romans 7 that he is dealing with his own 'body of death' and clearly admits that he sins... but that it is NOT him, but sin which dwells in his members. And we are told that nobody is without sin, to confess our sins to one another, to ask God to forgive us for our sins because He is both faithful (his nature) and JUST (to NOT forgive would be wrong according to this word) to do just that. At what point does one then know that their sins are not 'so many' as to damn? One cannot know.

And if one cannot know this, one cannot know if they are even a Child of God.

On the other hand, if God's grace is lavished upon us, and he imputes the righteousness of Christ to our account when we deserve nothing of the kind, and if 'nobody can snatch them out of His hand' then assurance of salvation is real and Calvin is more right than the alternatives. Put one more way, salvation is the FREE gift of God... so why do we sometimes feel like it is a timeshare that comes with an endless litany of rules and regulations? Are we like the Galatians? Adding to scripture to our own destruction of what Grace (UNDESERVED favor) is?

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    Hi Jim, welcome to the site. Please be sure to take the site tour, and thanks for contributing! Commented Mar 28, 2022 at 23:29
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    Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 0:50
  • Hi Jim, are you able to collaborate that with the parable of the ten virgins? Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 6:17

The symbolic terms of virgin, oil, lamps and light are all terms of a saved individual or else those terms are meaningless. Do you know Christians who live wisely that is they have chosen to heed the word of God and live accordingly as best they can. Do you know Christians who live foolishly or don't live accordingly. Of course, and we all have lived foolishly at times. The problem is that we view getting into the marriage ceremony is equal to being saved and they are not the same. We all have had close friends and yet did not receive and invitation because of limited number of people allowed.

Getting into the marriage ceremony is a great reward to believers who have lived wisely according to the word of God. A reward the foolish miss. This parable is similar to what Paul taught in 1 cor. 3:10-15 those that built on the foundation of Jesus with gold, silver, precious stones. These are the wise Christians. Then those that built on the foundation of Jesus with wood, hay and stubble. These are the foolish because their life as a Christian is going to be judged by fire and all they did in life was lost. But those who built with gold, silver, precious stone receive a reward like the wise virgins getting into the marriage ceremony. Paul said both of these groups of Christians are saved. So are the the wise and foolish virgins. The difference is the reward they receive. You must believe that God is and He is a reward of those that diligently seek Him. Salvation is not a reward through works of grace and faith in Jesus. However, works are rewarded by God and you must believe it. In Rev. 20 you will see there are martyrs seated on thrones these it says are of the first resurrection they are blessed or have received a greater reward ruling with Jesus in the millennium age as it says there. Later after the 1000 years you see all the rest of the dead raised the Christians that were foolish and the lost sinners together this is the second resurrection and both have their works judged. This is the parable Jesus gave of the tares and wheat gathered together at the same time. As they are judged, another book is opened the Book of Life if they are found in it they are saved. If they are not in the Book of Life they are cast into the Lake of Fire. Be wise and ready and receive the greater reward of ruling with Jesus in t he millennial age.

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    – agarza
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 4:23

The little oil that remained in the lamps of the foolish virgins was a typification of the former glory of Israel which was fading at the time of the coming of the Anointed One.

so also ye outwardly indeed do appear to men righteous, and within ye are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:28 YLT)

In the parable, virginity is a social moral concept of external amplitude, all were virgins (Religion), but only the prudent seek to reconcile the interior (Metaphysical) with the exterior, here, it is a case similar to the parable of the ten lepers: The Samaritan leper saw himself clean (virgin, external) and healed (oil), while the nine Jews only acknowledged themselves to be clean and presented themselves in the temple before the Jewish Priests, to formalize the socio-religious contract, an impossible fact for the Samaritan.

Answering the question, if the word "salvation" in the title of this topic corresponds to the concept of eternal life, the five foolish virgins have eternal life through the moral-religious fulfillment of the law, the same salvation and eternal life that the rich young man has in Matthew 19:16-30, Luke 18:18-30, but to be perfect and have treasure in heaven (reward), one must also have a providence of oil (metaphysical).


The foolish virgins believe there is no forerunner for the Second Coming of Christ despite the clear promise of Malachi 4:5-6 etc, and that any preacher (presumably their pastor) will get the people ready! John the Baptist was surely not any preacher. John was a VERY special messenger:

  1. his coming was prophesied hundreds of years beforehand
  2. an angel announced his birth
  3. the angel said John would be great. How great?
  4. Jesus said none greater than John had been
  5. John was more than a prophet!

Jesus called those going to Emmaus foolish for refusing to believe prophecy for their day. The foolish virgins are foolish for the same reason. They are not lost though. They miss the rapture and come up at the second resurrection and go on to populate the earth outside the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem is for the Bride or wise virgins, for it is called the Bride.


Everyone here has done an excellent job laying out what they believe about this with other scripture to back it up. However my answer comes from a place of having been in a bad backslidden place. A spirit filled Christian that got slowly sucked into sin over years until the day came that I realized my condition (probably by the Holy Spirit) and was horrified. It took me two months to get to where I felt I was “right” with God and I must tell you this scripture was in my mind the entire time. There is was a huge difference between the then and now man and I know in my heart the then guy was one of the virgins that had no oil and was not looking for the groom. I have no doubt that I would be saved but that if the rapture had come I would have missed it. No doubt in my mind or heart. I had quit a few terrifying visions on the road back one of which was a shut door and the panic and hopelessness I felt was beyond what I can explain. Therefore, I think teaching or preaching that if you ever said the prayer you’re going to get raptured because that is false, it is a lie. I know it.

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    Please don't add "thank you" as an answer. Once you have sufficient reputation, you will be able to vote up questions and answers that you found helpful. - From Review
    – agarza
    Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 0:03
  • Hi Chris, I don't like to be negative because it's obvious that your answer is heartfelt and sincere. However you need to understand that this kind of personal testimony answer will get you lots of down votes. The site is intended to be more scholarly in nature, with careful analysis of the meaning of a text and provision of sources. Commented Feb 4, 2023 at 18:43

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