Matthew 25:3
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
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(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.

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.

3. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: See Poole on "Matthew 25:13".

They that were foolish took their lamps,.... The Vulgate Latin, and Munster's Hebrew Gospel, read, "the five foolish", whose folly is here exposed; and which lay not merely, or only in taking up the lamps of a profession in a wrong way, and upon a wrong bottom, but chiefly in what follows;

and took no oil with them: by oil is meant, not temporal blessings, nor spiritual ones, nor the Gospel, nor the gifts of the Spirit, all which are sometimes signified by oil; but either the Spirit of God himself, who is the oil of gladness, and the anointing which teacheth all things; or the regenerating and sanctifying grace of the Spirit, even all the graces which are implanted by him in conversion: this is so called, in allusion to the anointing oil under the law, in its excellent nature, its costly matter, its curious make, and particular application; and in the use of it to anoint both things, the tabernacle and its vessels, and persons, prophets, priests, and kings; see Exodus 30:23, &c. The grace of the Spirit being of an holy and sanctifying nature, exceeding valuable and precious, and a curious piece of workmanship, and what is only applied unto, and bestowed on the elect of God; and with which all the vessels of mercy, small and great, are anointed, and are made prophets, priests, and kings, and is what is, as that was, lasting and abiding: or else with respect to the precious oil, or ointment poured on Aaron's head, which was emblematical of the grace of the Spirit, which was poured forth, without measure, on Christ, and from him descends to all his members: or to the lamp oil for the candlestick in the tabernacle, which was oil olive, pure, beaten, and was for light, to cause the lamp to burn always; and fitly represented grace, which comes from Christ, the true olive tree; is pure, and of a purifying nature; and comes through a bruised, crucified Christ; and being put into the heart, causes the light of good works, and a becoming conversation, to shine forth: or else to oil in common, which is of a cheering and refreshing nature; is beautifying and adorning, supplying and healing, feeding and fattening, searching and penetrating, and will not mix with any thing else; upon all which accounts grace may be compared to it. Now these foolish virgins, though they took up a lamp of a profession, yet were unconcerned for the oil of grace, to fill, maintain, and trim this lamp: they were ignorant of the nature and use of true grace; they saw no need of it, and therefore did not ask for it, or about it; they neglected it, made light of it, and denied it as useless; and being destitute of it, took up their profession without it; and in this lay their folly.

They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
Matthew 25:3. Αἵτινες μωραί] sc. ἦσαν, quotquot erant stultae.

ἔλαβον they took, on setting out; not for the pluperfect (Erasmus, Vatablus).

μεθʼ ἑαυτῶν] with themselves, namely, besides the oil that was burning in their lamps.

Matthew 25:3. ἔλαιον: the statement about the foolish, indicating the nature or proof of their folly, is that they took their lamps but did not take oil. None? or only not a supply sufficient for an emergency—possible delay? Goebel (Die Parabeln Jesu) decides for the former view. His idea of the whole situation is this: the virgins meet at the bride’s house, there wait the announcement of the bridegroom’s approach, then for the first time proceed to light their lamps, whereupon the foolish find that there is nothing in the dish except a dry wick, which goes out shortly after being lighted. In favour of this view he adduces the consideration that the other alternative makes the wise too wise, providing for a rare occurrence. Perhaps, but on the other hand Goebel’s view makes the foolish too foolish, and also irrelevantly foolish, for in the case supposed they would have been at fault even if the bridegroom had not tarried. But the very point of the parable is to illustrate the effect of delay. On the various ways of conceiving the situation, vide The Parabolic Teaching of Christ.

3. They that were foolish took their lamps] All watch for their Lord, but some only—“the wise”—with true intensity and with due provision for the watch. The foolish virgins have sufficient oil if the Lord come quickly; not sufficient for long and patient expectation. It is a rebuke to shallow religion that dies away when the excitement passes.

The oil seems to mean generally the perfection of the Christian life or preparedness for the Lord’s coming.

Matthew 25:3. Ἔλαιον, oil) i.e. except that with which the lamps were then burning: see latter part of Matthew 25:8. The lamp burning is faith; the lamp with oil beside is abundant faith.[1080]

[1080] Elsewhere he suggests another interpretation, viz.: “In a Burning Lamp there is Fire and Oil. By the Fire is here signified the supernatural, heavenly, fiery Spirit-power (Geisteskraft) which is bestowed upon the soul without its co-operation (ohne ihr Zuthun): see 2 Peter 1:3-4; and by the Oil, holy Assiduity (Fleiss) on the part of man: see 2 Peter 1:5. And of this, man should have not only enough for the exigencies of the present time, but also an abundant supply, see 2 Peter 1:8 [sc. “if these things be in you and abound”], for all future circumstances: so does the entrance to the Wedding-House become sure to him, and abundant besides, see 2 Peter 1:11 [sc. “an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly”]. The foolish virgins did not even remain resting only on their own unassisted nature: they too had something of grace and of the Spirit. Nowhere is it more clearly (deutlicher) written than here how far a soul can advance in good, and yet fall through (durchfallen): see Matthew 25:8.”—B. G. V. in loc.

Verse 3. - They that were foolish (αἵτινες μωραί)... took no oil with them. It has been doubted whether they brought no oil of their own at all, trusting to get their lamps filled by others, or whether they neglected to bring an additional supply to replenish them when exhausted. The latter seems most likely to be the sense intended; as the spiritual aspect of the parable places both classes in exactly the same position at starting, and we know from other sources that, the oil reservoirs being very small, it was the custom to carry another vessel from which to refill them. Some good manuscripts commence the verse with "for," thus making the verse justify the epithets applied to the virgins. Matthew 25:3They that were foolish (αἵτινες μωραί)

Read αἱ γὰρ μωραὶ, for the foolish. The for justifies the epithet foolish in the preceding verse.

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