The Parable Matthew 25:1-13 King James Version (KJV)

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Did the 5 foolish virgins were saved once but lost their salvation in the end? Clearly, they were waiting for Christ(the bridegroom) which means they were saved but didn't have faith(oil).

  • Closely related: How do sola fide adherents explain The Parable of the Ten Virgins? Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 12:45
  • @bruisedreed and that doesn't provide answer either :-(
    – Grasper
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 12:50
  • "Clearly, they were waiting for Christ(the bridegroom) which means they were saved". That "they were saved" is not clear to me.
    – bradimus
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 12:53
  • 3
    Wouldn't a OSAS advocate simply say that the foolish virgins only thought they were saved but really were not?
    – 007
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 13:01
  • 1
    @Grasper Salvation is irrevocable, but not all who think they are saved are saved. The doctrine is a great source of assurance, but false assurance can always exist instead.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 13:49

4 Answers 4


While it is impossible to account for all OSAS interpretations of of the passage, the most obvious answer is that the unwise virgins were not saved. Remember that certain (purported) proponents of OSAS allow that someone can be (self) deceived about their status as one of the elect.

Consider what Calvin wrote:

Experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. Hence, it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith is ascribed to them. Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption .... there is a great resemblance and affinity between the elect of God and those who are impressed for a time with a fading faith .... Still it is correctly said, that the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because, under a covering of hypocrisy they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them. Nor do I even deny that God illumines their mind to this extent .... there is nothing inconsistent in this with the fact of his enlightening some with a present sense of grace, which afterwards proves evanescent (Institutes, 3.2.11).

The unwise virgins believe that are ready only to learn too late that they lack the needed oil (grace?).


Matthew 25:1-13 is not about the Christian belief in once-saved always saved. The Lord says to the foolish virgins upon their return for admittance ‘I know you not’. The verb (to know) is in the perfect tense, which means the action (not knowing) was completed in the past and still is. The fools were never known, never saved in the first place to somehow lose their salvation later. So, what’s the pericope about?

It’s about the kingdom of heaven (v. 1). Matthew 3:2 is the first reference by Christ who says repent (change your mind), the kingdom of heaven is at hand How do these verses relate? In Scripture, woman, whether virgin or harlot, as religion is a well-known metaphor (Isa. 23:12, Isa. 47:12, Jer. 31:21, Jer. 46:11, Eze. 23:19, Hos. 4:15, 2 Cor. 11:2). In the parable, we have two very similar religions in appearance, but with one major difference between the two. The key is the wise had a vessel to carry extra oil, while the foolish did not. The question thus is to what does the vessel refer?

Literally, it carries extra oil for the lamp (Ex. 39:37, Num. 4:9), but spiritually it does refer to the permanent indwelling, the deposit of the Spirt that New Testament believers experience (2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5, Eph. 1:14, 4:30, 2 Ti. 1:14).

Both groups were virgins, both groups had lamps, and both groups fell asleep. Now, sleep may also be a metaphor for death (Psalm 13:3, Acts 7:60, 2 Peter 3:4). Before then, the two groups were waiting for the bridegroom. This refers of course to Messiah (Psalm 19:5, Isa. 62:5). When awakened, only one group had oil, had light, had (were) the vessel with oil. The other group had to leave to find some.

For the Jewish listeners, they would full well know to what this whole pericope referred. In the Tabernacle and Temples, the lamp was to be kept burning all night (Ex. 27:21, Ex. 30:8). The vessels that fed the lamp were to be kept full of oil. After the Second Temple destruction in 70 CE, the Romans carried off the menorah and vessels. No oil, no light was left. To what would they turn? Repent.

As mentioned, oil itself does refer to the Holy Spirit. This is foreshadowed at 1 Sa. 16:13 when Samuel anoints David with the oil and the Spirit comes powerfully on David. So at Isa 61:1 and Luke 4:18 and Acts 10:38 with the Spirit and Christ. The difference between the Old and New, however, is we in the New receive the indwelling permanently. Our vessel will not run out of oil (see Scripture references above).

In sum, the parable’s picture is of two similar virginal groups that co-existed, they all sleep, rouse, go forth to meet the bridegroom, but only one has a vessel of oil to sustain light, to be recognized by the bridegroom. The other returns somewhere to buy oil, but there is none for sale. They nonetheless return and still beg for admittance. Christ says I never knew you (before or now). Repent.

Therefore, what we are seeing is a warning, of a prophetic word about relying on what would be empty, devoid of Spirit, rather than on the perpetual priesthood of Messiah and His disciples who never run out of Spirit. The foolish virgins have no oil. Their lamp would fail. The wise virgins have sustained oil for the wedding. Christ knows who are His.

  • Good point about the difference being the wise had a vessel to carry extra oil. So then the foolish must have oil in their lamps since it was burning initially. If oil represent the Holy Spirit, what does having oil in their lamp but not extra oil mean?
    – Beestocks
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 15:31

The five virgins that had no oil were never saved. While on the cross Christ says" Father forgive them", so they all are forgiven. Until the giving of the law Acts chapter 2, like Paul writes the law came and I died, speaking of the natural man.

John 5:28:

Wonder not at this, because there doth come an hour in which all those in the tombs shall hear his voice, 29 and they shall come forth; those who did the good things to a rising again of life, and those who practised the evil things to a rising again of judgment. YLT

The law for the new creation is given at Pentecost. Those who receive Christ take his name as a bride takes her husband's name and the confirmation is the giving of the Holy Spirit.

Song of Solomon 1:3:

your name is like oil Poured out that's why the virgins love you.

Christ knows, is one with, the 5 virgins that have oil and are resurrected to life. And the 5 virgins who have no oil are resurrected to judgement.

  • 2
    This answer would benefit from the addition of citations to show it represents the OSAS position.
    – bradimus
    Commented Sep 30, 2017 at 12:03

The oil, I wouldn't have thought, represents faith. The whole thing is about being ready for the second coming. The foolish virgins weren't ready. What does it mean to "be ready"? Luke 12: 35-48 is another parable and good explanation on being ready. Jesus is always going on about being ready. Basically, those who are "ready" are saved and those who are not ready are not saved.

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