But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.See Poole on "Matthew 25:13".
in their vessels, their oil vessels; by which are meant their hearts; so called in allusion either to the vessels in which the oil was put, when pressed out of the olives, Jeremiah 40:10 or to the oil vessels of the candlestick, Numbers 4:9. These are vessels of God's making, though through sin are become impure, and empty of all spiritual good: they are indeed large and capacious; here's room for Father, Son, and Spirit, and for abundance of grace; they are capable of comprehending much of the love of God, and besides natural, a great deal of spiritual knowledge: here, in these vessels, sanctified by the Spirit of God, the wise virgins had the oil of grace, which is an internal thing: it is nothing in the head, in the tongue, or in the hand, but something in the heart: it does not lie in notion, in talking, nor in doing; a man may know much, say a great deal, and do many external works, and yet be destitute of the grace of God; nothing external is that: it is not a mere outward reformation of life, an external humiliation for sin, an abstinence from the grosser sins of life, or a conformity to the ordinances of the Gospel, or a profession of religion: it is a principle of light, life, love, and holiness wrought in a man's heart; it has its seat in the mind, understanding, and judgment, in the will, conscience, and the affections. This oil of grace was not naturally in them; nor was it obtained by the power of their freewill; but was freely given unto them, and powerfully wrought in them: the case is this; all grace was put into Christ's hands for them; the Spirit of God was sent down to apply it to them, and work it in them; Which is generally done by means, which they made use of by his direction and assistance, and so may be said to take it:
with their lamps, of an external profession; they did not take up a profession before they had grace, or without it; but when they received the one, they took up the other; and which was acting the wise part.But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 25:4. ἐν τοῖς ἀγγείοις: the wise took oil in the vessels, i.e., in vessels, with an extra supply, distinct from the cups at the top of the torches containing oil.Matthew 25:4. Ἀγγείοις, vessels) These represent the recesses of the heart.Verse 4. - In their vessels. These were the flasks or vases carried by the maidens to replenish the oil in the lamps as occasion demanded. The contrast between the two classes seems to lie in the foresight of the one and the negligent carelessness of the other. It has been common from early times to find in the lamps the symbol of faith, in the oil the good works that proceed therefrom. The wise virgins exercise their faith in charity and good works; the foolish profess, indeed, the faith of Christ but carry it not out to the production of the good works in which God ordained that they should walk (Ephesians 2:10). But this exposition, time honored though it is, surely does not meet the requirements of the parable. What one wants is an interpretation which shall show how it is that the want of oil and its sudden failure debar one from meeting the bridegroom. If the oil be good works, and the believer has gone on doing these until the Lord's advent is signalled, why should he fail at the last? How comes it that in a moment he leaves off doing his duty, and making his calling and election sure? These are questions which the patristic and mediaeval explanation leaves unsolved. I doubt not that the right solution is to be found in regarding the oil as symbolical of the Holy Spirit, or the graces of God. This is a truly scriptural notion, as declared by the use of this substance in holy rites. Accepting this view, we should say that the ten virgins had so far alike taken and used the grace of God, but that they differed in this - that, while the wise maintained the supply of grace by constant recourse to the means thereof, the foolish were satisfied with their spiritual state once for all, and took no pains to keep their spiritual life healthful and active by the renewal of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. They retained the outward show and form of faith, but neglected the true inward life of faith; they had the appearance without the reality.
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