Matthew 25:2
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
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(2) Five of them were wise.—The word is the same as in Matthew 24:45, where see Note.

Matthew 25:2-4. And five of them were wise — Prudent and provident; and five foolish — Inconsiderate and careless. These latter took their lamps — Took up a profession of the true religion; but took no oil with them — No more than kept them burning just for the present. None to supply their future want, to recruit their lamps’ decay. They did not receive or maintain the saving grace of God, did not get or keep faith working by love, an interest in and union with Christ the good olive, or the life of God in their souls. But the wise took oil in their vessels, &c. — Together with the lamp of an external profession, they secured and maintained vital godliness, through the indwelling of the Spirit of God, and living in the Spirit, they walked in the Spirit, seeking daily, a fresh supply of spiritual strength, till their faith was made perfect.

25:1-13 The circumstances of the parable of the ten virgins were taken from the marriage customs among the Jews, and explain the great day of Christ's coming. See the nature of Christianity. As Christians we profess to attend upon Christ, to honour him, also to be waiting for his coming. Sincere Christians are the wise virgins, and hypocrites the foolish ones. Those are the truly wise or foolish that are so in the affairs of their souls. Many have a lamp of profession in their hands, but have not, in their hearts, sound knowledge and settled resolution, which are needed to carry them through the services and trials of the present state. Their hearts are not stored with holy dispositions, by the new-creating Spirit of God. Our light must shine before men in good works; but this is not likely to be long done, unless there is a fixed, active principle in the heart, of faith in Christ, and love to God and our brethren. They all slumbered and slept. The delay represents the space between the real or apparent conversion of these professors, and the coming of Christ, to take them away by death, or to judge the world. But though Christ tarry past our time, he will not tarry past the due time. The wise virgins kept their lamps burning, but they did not keep themselves awake. Too many real Christians grow remiss, and one degree of carelessness makes way for another. Those that allow themselves to slumber, will scarcely keep from sleeping; therefore dread the beginning of spiritual decays. A startling summons was given. Go ye forth to meet Him, is a call to those prepared. The notice of Christ's approach, and the call to meet him, will awaken. Even those best prepared for death have work to do to get actually ready, 2Pe 3:14. It will be a day of search and inquiry; and it concerns us to think how we shall then be found. Some wanted oil to supply their lamps when going out. Those that take up short of true grace, will certainly find the want of it one time or other. An outward profession may light a man along this world, but the damps of the valley of the shadow of death will put out such a light. Those who care not to live the life, yet would die the death of the righteous. But those that would be saved, must have grace of their own; and those that have most grace, have none to spare. The best need more from Christ. And while the poor alarmed soul addresses itself, upon a sick-bed, to repentance and prayer, in awful confusion, death comes, judgment comes, the work is undone, and the poor sinner is undone for ever. This comes of having oil to buy when we should burn it, grace to get when we should use it. Those, and those only, shall go to heaven hereafter, that are made ready for heaven here. The suddenness of death and of Christ's coming to us then, will not hinder our happiness, if we have been prepared. The door was shut. Many will seek admission into heaven when it is too late. The vain confidence of hypocrites will carry them far in expectations of happiness. The unexpected summons of death may alarm the Christian; but, proceeding without delay to trim his lamp, his graces often shine more bright; while the mere professor's conduct shows that his lamp is going out. Watch therefore, attend to the business of your souls. Be in the fear of the Lord all the day long.And five of them were wise - . The words "wise and foolish," here, refer only to their conduct; in regard to the oil. The one part was "wise" in taking oil, the other "foolish" in neglecting it. The conduct of those who were "wise" refers to those who are "prepared" for the coming of Christ - prepared by possessing real piety, and not being merely his professed followers. The conduct of those "without" oil expresses the conduct of those who profess to love him, but are destitute of true grace, and are therefore unprepared to meet him. Nothing can be argued from the number here in regard to the proportion of sincere Christians among professors. circumstances in parables are not to be pressed literally. They are necessary to keep up the story, and we must look chiefly or entirely to the scope or design of the parable to understand its meaning. In this parable the scope is to teach us to "watch" or be ready, Matthew 25:13. It is not to teach us the relative "number" of those who shall be saved and who shall not. In teaching us to "watch and to be ready," our Lord gives great additional interest by the circumstances of this narrative; but there is no authority for saying that he meant to teach that just half of professing Christians would be deceived. The moral certainty is that "nothing like" that number will be found to have been hypocrites.

Oil in their vessels - The five foolish virgins probably expected that the bridegroom would come immediately; they therefore made no provision for any delay. The wise virgins knew that the time of his coming was uncertain, and they therefore furnished themselves with oil. This was carried in "vessels," so that it could be poured on the torches when it was necessary.

Vessels - Cups, cans, or anything to hold oil.

2. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish—They are not distinguished into good and bad, as Trench observes, but into "wise" and "foolish"—just as in Mt 7:25-27 those who reared their house for eternity are distinguished into "wise" and "foolish builders"; because in both cases a certain degree of goodwill towards the truth is assumed. To make anything of the equal number of both classes would, we think, be precarious, save to warn us how large a portion of those who, up to the last, so nearly resemble those that love Christ's appearing will be disowned by Him when He comes. See Poole on "Matthew 25:13".

And five of them were wise,.... The order of these words is inverted in some versions, as in the Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic, and in Munster's Hebrew Gospel, which read, "and five of them were foolish, and five of them were wise"; but this is of no great consequence. There is a parable of R. Jochanan ben Zaccai (m), who lived before, and after the destruction of the second temple, which bears some likeness to this part of the parable, and others in it, and is this;

"a certain king invited his servants, but did not fix any time for them; those of them that were "wise", adorned themselves, and sat at the gate of the king's house, and said, is there any want at the king's house? but those of them that were "fools", went and did their work, and said, is there any feast without trouble? on a sudden, the king inquired after his servants: the wise went in before him, as they were, adorned; but the fools went in before him, as they were, filthy: the king rejoiced at meeting the wise, and was angry at meeting the foolish; and ordered, that those who had adorned themselves for the feast should sit and eat, and those that had not adorned themselves for the feast should stand.''

The wise virgins are such, who are wise, not in their own conceits, which is the case of natural men, and empty professors; nor in the things of nature, or in the things of the world, of which the saints are oftentimes less knowing than others; nor in notional and speculative knowledge, much less in things that are evil: but they are such who are wise unto salvation; who not only know the scheme of it, but are sensible of their need of it; apply to Christ for it; venture their souls on him, and commit them to him: they trust in his righteousness for justification; in his blood for pardon; in his sacrifice for atonement; in his fulness for daily supplies; in his grace and strength to perform every duty; and expect eternal life in, and from him: they know him, prize him, and value him as their Saviour; rejoice in him, and give him all the glory; and they are such who are also wise in the business of a profession, as well as in the affair of salvation; they are such who take up a profession of religion aright, upon principles of grace, and after mature thought and deliberation; and when they have so done, hold it fast without wavering, walk becoming it in their lives and conversations; and yet do not depend on it, or trust to it:

and five were foolish; not in their own apprehension, in which they might be wise enough; nor in the judgment of others; nor in natural knowledge; or with respect to the things of the world; nor in speculative notions of the Gospel; nor merely so called, because unconverted; every unconverted man being a foolish man: but they were so in the business of salvation; as all are who build their hopes of it on birth privileges; on a carnal descent from good men; on a religious education; on their own righteousness; or on the absolute mercy of God; and not on Christ, the one only, and sure foundation: they are such who know not themselves; the impurity of their hearts, and nature; their impotency to that which is spiritually good; and the imperfection and insufficiency of their own righteousness: they know not Christ, and his salvation, neither the worth, nor want of him, or that; and are altogether strangers to the power of godliness, and spiritual experience: and are also as foolish in the affair of a profession, which they take up without a work of the Spirit of God upon their souls, and without considering the cost and charge of it; and either in a little time wholly drop it, or, if they hold it, they foolishly depend upon it, or lead lives unsuitable to it. The number of wise and foolish virgins being equal, does not imply that there will be just the same number of nominal, as of real believers in the churches, in the latter day, a little before the coming of Christ; only that there will be a large number of such among them.

(m) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 153. 1. Vid. R. David Kimchi in Isaiah 65.13.

And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
Matthew 25:2. πέντε μωραὶ, πέντε φρόνιμοι: equal numbers of both, not intended to represent the proportion in the spiritual sphere; foolish, wise, not bad and good, but imprudent and prudent, thoughtless and thoughtful. Even the “foolish” might be very attractive, lovable girls; perhaps might have been the favourites at the feast: for wisdom is apt to be cold; foolish first named in best MSS., and properly, for they play the chief rôle in the story, and are first characterised in the sequel.

2. wise] The word is used of prudence or practical intelligence, a characteristic of the steward, ch. Matthew 24:45, and Luke 16:8.

Matthew 25:2. Φρόνιμοιμωραὶ, prudent—foolish) See ch. Matthew 7:24; Matthew 7:26.—καὶ αἱ πέντε μωραί, and the five other foolish) Their condition becomes better understood from the description given of the prudent.[1079]

[1079] Both characters are clearly described in 2 Peter 1:5-11.—B. G. V. They aimed at what was right, but not consistently and steadily.—V. g.

Verse 2. - Five of them were wise (φρόνιμοι, Matthew 24:45), and five were foolish. The best uncials (א, B, C, D, L) invert the clauses, in agreement with the order in vers. 3, 4. So the Vulgate. In this case the idea would be that the foolish were a more prominent and noticeable class than the others. All the virgins were outwardly the same, were provided with the same lamps, prepared to perform the same office; the difference in their characters is proved by the result. Their folly is seen in the fact that at the time of action they were unable to do the part which a little care and forethought would have enabled them to perform successfully. Matthew 25:2
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