From the account of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25, and from the exhortation to the Laodicean Church in Revelation 3:14-22, What is meant by the instruction to "buy" oil, gold, garments and eye salve? It is my understanding that these all represent items that cannot be purchased by man, but instead were already purchased by Christ's death on the cross and given to man upon acceptance of His sacrifice?

Matthew 25:1-9 (NASB):

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’”

Revelation 3:14-22:

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

  • I think these teachings are symbolic. I don't think He literally expects us to buy gold from Him, for example. Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 23:56

8 Answers 8


They are only available by grace, which is why Jesus asked us to purchase it from Him. The fact that it is free grace does not mean it does not require cooperation from us. If we take the parable of the man who sold all to purchase a field where he believed the treasure was, likewise we should do similarly spiritually - to forsaken our attachment to the things of this world to purchase the things we most need from God.

There is an exchange, it is our heart, our body, our soul. We are to surrender this to Christ. By purchasing the oil, the gold, the robe, the eye salve, we are building on our Christian experience with essentials not from us, going from faith to faith.


These things are only symbolic of heavenly riches. A man may think that he is “rich, and has become wealthy, and has need of nothing,” but these earthly riches will do him no good when he stands before God. God knows that he is in fact "wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked." If he does not "seek first the kingdom of God" and his treasure is not in heaven, then he is spiritually bankrupt. Heavenly riches cannot be bought with money; rather, they are purchased with repentance and a contrite heart, which are spiritually precious in God's eyes.


Jesus tells us how to buy from him when he tells the Laodiean church to simply "open the door to him and he will come in and stay with you." It is seeking him first which is seeking his kingdom first. It is putting the world and this life aside to seek him first. Jesus said he is the bread of life so when we seek him and he comes to stay with us he changes us in his presence and gives us everthing we lack and need in his sufficiency, which is life and life more abundant that only he can give. Humble yourself and open the door to him because he is saying that God opposes the proud that think they have need of nothing.

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. For more on what this site is all about, see: How we are different than other sites. Meanwhile, I hope you'll browse some of the other questions and answers on this site. Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 17:58

I came across this myself and found a possible allusion to Ecclesiasticus (or, Sirach) 51:33-38:

I have opened my mouth, and have spoken: buy [Wisdom] for yourselves without silver, And submit your neck to the yoke, and let your soul receive discipline: for she is near at hand to be found. Behold with your eyes how I have laboured a little, and have found much rest to myself. Receive ye discipline as a great sum of money, and possess abundance of gold by her. Let your soul rejoice in his mercy, and you shall not be confounded in his praise. Work your work before the time, and he will give you your reward in his time.”

Compare this with what Our Lord says in Revelation 3:18-20:

I counsel thee to buy of me gold fire tried, that thou mayest be made rich; and mayest be clothed in white garments, and that the shame of thy nakedness may not appear; and anoint thy eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. Such as I love, I rebuke and chastise. Be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

So He isn't asking us to buy grace literally (the sin of Simony: Acts 8:14-20). Healing your eyes refers to spiritual blindness; white garments, the state of grace; nakedness, sin; etc.

Jesus elsewhere equates earthly riches with a poor, wretched sate, and so He means the spiritual. What does He say in what is the previous verse?

Because thou sayest: I am rich, and made wealthy, and have need of nothing: and knowest not, that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

Thus we see that the richness refers to spiritual riches—to grace.

Our Lord is asking us to remain under His yoke, which is light. And to keep His ways, not to fall into sin. But struggle against it with the grace of New Testament salvation. And in it we shall recieve all kinds of spiritual healing. Another allusion, think I, to Sirach (6:25-32):

Put thy feet into [Wisdom’s] fetters, and thy neck into her chains: Bow down thy shoulder, and bear her, and be not grieved with her bands. Come to her with all thy mind, and keep her ways with all thy power. Search for her, and she shall be made known to thee, and when thou hast gotten her, let her not go: For in the latter end thou shalt find rest in her, and she shall be turned to thy joy. Then shall her fetters be a strong defence for thee, and a firm foundation, and her chain a robe of glory: For in her is the beauty of life, and her bands are a healthful binding. Thou shalt put her on as a robe of glory, and thee shalt set her upon thee as a crown of joy.

Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

Christians, usually Protestants, often think that grace is something we are the helpless recipients of, each the same amount. This is simply alien to Scripture. It consistently tells us that grace can be merited in a justified, baptized person. Since it is grace upon grace. Grace working in you which enables you to gain a greater crown in heaven. Enduring to the end, running the race, fighting the good fight are all things that people can be better or worse at, depending on how much they co-operate with God's grace. That is, how much we are personally open to recieving more. He wants to give us freel We are the only obstacle to more grace. The less we g out of our way to be an obstacle, the more grace we can recieve, and do more with that until the Master returns:

2 Corinthians 5:10

For we must all be manifested before the judgement seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil.

See also Isaiah 55:1-2,7.

  • I was going to up-vote your biblical answer, until I got to the last bit about Protestants, which was totally uncalled-for. Your answer then degenerated into something akin to Dudley's answer - a swipe at a group you don't seem to like, using this Q as an excuse so to do. Your answers are normally more disciplined.
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 15:22
  • @Anne I simply noted that it's mostly Protestants among Christians who view grace in this way, in my opinion, not that they are the only ones; and it's quite evident that it is a caricature of sorts (clearly Protestants wouldn't describe themselves as 'helpless recipients of grace' but I state it in its 'logical conclusion form' as someone who views Protestantism, as a Catholic, as one of the biggest heresies in Church history). Thanks for the hypothetical upvote, though. Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 22:38
  • I understand why you would view it that way, as a Catholic. We are mature enough not to take things personally, and to agree to differ. And, as a gesture of good will, I shall turn my potential upvote into an actual one, given that three-quarters of your answer was biblical!
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 16, 2019 at 12:20

No. You are preaching salvation by works when you say a person "accepts Christ" to become saved. This is why you dont understand what is meant by "buying." Christs sacrifice did not buy anything in your kind of gospel ( Co-Redemption ) because you must do something of enough value to invoke God to save. No invoking results in no salvation. Christ died for nothing since most of the world rejects Christ... and... God punishes twice for the same sins... once on Christ who died and once on the sinner who dies who He died in place of... God is then seen as unjust. Thats exactly, and more, of what these Co-Redemption gospels are all about. In this kind of gospel the mentally ill are impossible to save because one has to have the brain power to realize his need for forgiveness in Christ which the insane, the Alzheimer sufferer, the Dementia sufferer, the Autism sufferer and a host of other brain disorders cause the sufferer to not even know his own name. Redemption unto life eternal is stricly un-conditional lest man should boast of his very intelligent choice to " accept" Christ. Man is never saved by his own will to be saved, Jn.1:13. Lastly, when you read about "buying" what has no cost, as in Isa.55:1 and Rev.3:14 ff what is being said is exactly what I already told of... redemption onto life is strictly un-conditional... otherwise, we limit salvation to be open to the smart, only, and God bypasses the smart, 1 Cor.1:26-29. Ask God for understanding Ro.10:20 while coupling this passage to Lk.19:10.

  • I do believe the Son Of Man came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). I also believe that the Gentiles were not looking for God but because of God's mercy and unfailing love He chose to reveal Himself to us when Israel refused to recognize Him. This was all part of His redemptive plan (Luke 19:10). I do believe that He uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise and that our salvation has nothing whatsoever to do with how smart I am, or even how able I am to logically figure out His plan (1 Cor 1). In fact, I work at a school for autistic teens, (will continue in next post)
    – A.G.
    Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 21:22
  • (cont. from above) In my work with autistic teens, I can tell you they have a spiritual depth and faith we cannot even begin to understand. They also have an innocence that is recognized by God. You quoted John 1:13. If you will look at verse 12 you'll see "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name". It does not require worldly wisdom, works,or our might/power to receive Him. It requires a child like faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. He provides that faith,but we have a choice.
    – A.G.
    Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 21:36
  • @A.G. That's very interesting that some autistic kids are capable of deep spiritual faith. God will judge each one according to what he has revealed in their heart and how they have responded to it. However, to those that have been given much, much will be expected. There is a cooperation required from us because God does not force salvation on anyone who do not want to respond to His call. The Bible is very clear about salvation by faith, and any sentimental thinking against this doctrine does not change the simple truth.
    – Beestocks
    Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 13:57

ISAIAH 55 1-3 Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

These items from the question are examples of remaining diligent in faith and believing. That the believer is responsible for for being prepared, dressing in garments of righteousness, and keeping spiritual vision healthy and true. After all no one knows when Jesus the Christ is coming and shouldn't we be looking, dressed, and relying on the Spirit?

  • 1
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    – ThaddeusB
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 3:56

Grace is not by our effort.
There are things we have to let go to 'buy' or exchange for the gold from God. I'm thinking of our dependence on worldly wealth. In this case the (wealthy) Laodiceans (and also some of us) should give away the attachment to wealth (not necessarily the wealth itself but this is hard to separate) and worldly pursuits and live by faith (see 1 Peter 1:7) instead.

So the question is then, can you live by faith despite your wealth? Or as we really let Jesus in (v20) our attitude to wealth will change and we can exchange our worldly mindset to the godly ones.

  • 1
    Welcome Ferry. Not sure if you are making a comment or a complete answer. Please have a look at the tour, and then check out How to Ask and How to Answer to see how to best interact with this site. What this site seeks is supported answer. Commented May 11, 2020 at 14:24

The word 'Gold' represents the most valuable thing for God that we have/are, which is our individual, unique, character. no two trees in the forest are the same; no two humans are the same. All things were made for the pleasure of God. But doesn't God know everything already; what new thing could God get pleasure from? God does not know every thing. My true trying began when I left the weekly church fellowship. I was distracted by other voices. Scripture does not teach weekly gathering together. Daniel chapter twelve speaks of a power that shatters/scatters/debilitates the power of Gods Special people. This debilitating power is the weekly gathering together, which substitutes for keeping the Sabbath and the gathering together, thus weakening the blessings of both. When the Spirit draws a fellowship together, this is good; without me Jesus said you can do nothing. Church distracts from hearing the voice of the Spirit. The bon homme of the gathering is mistaken for the spirit of God; the church building can be idolised, even the object which is a Bible can be idolised; the pastor also can be set up as an idol; read the second commandment; and the third; taking the name of God in vane has to do with the verbal; but mostly it has to do with those who have a form of Godliness but deny the power there of; those who draw near to God with their mouths while their heart is far from him...from such God commands, we must turn away. Where else could you find phoney Godliness except in a church...non church people don't draw near to God with their mouths. Every week I used to shake hands with many of these pretenders we are told to turn away from. The church will not convert these imposters; the imposters convert the church. And so you have Laodicea..neither here nor there; siting on the fence; church keeps you in circles; inhibiting the refining of the character...there is only one mediator between God and man... George Harrison in a song sung: "I don't know why no one told you how to unfold your love" I think un-cakeing your love is more accurate. you can not obey God's commandments without obeying his commands.

  • 2
    Welcome to the site, Dudley. When Qs are asked here, it is with a view to receiving Christian answers to the points raised. As no personal testimony was asked for, your answer is almost entirely beside the point. You did not deal with how grace enables Christians to do what is commanded. D.L. Moody wrote, “God doesn’t seek for golden vessels, and does not ask for silver ones, but He must have clean ones.” And that little quote says more about grace than your negative attack on 'phoney godliness' (which is a contradiction in terms). Can you strive to offer positive comments to a biblical Q?
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 15:13

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