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. Jan 27 at 22:56
  • @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. Jan 27 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. Jan 27 at 23:12
  • @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. Jan 28 at 1:10
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    @AnthonyBurg - can you have the Holy Spirit and not be saved at the same time? Jan 28 at 5:06

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! Jan 28 at 1:20

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 ...? Jan 28 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? Jan 28 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? Jan 28 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
    Jan 29 at 0:07
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    Dave, I think this is relevant to your discussion with @AnthonyBurg: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/4251/… Jan 29 at 2:39

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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    Aug 24 at 21:23

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