The Parable of the Ten Virgins in the Bible – Matthew 25:1-13 – Meaning and Commentary

1. Introductory prayer for The Parable of the Ten Virgins in the Bible– Matthew 25:1-13

I pause and slowly calm myself. I make the sign of the cross, becoming more deeply aware of God’s presence within me and in everything that surrounds me. I ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the gift of being moved by God’s word, which I am now allowed to read, listen to, ponder, and allow it to shape Christ within me (Gal 4:19), that I may become merciful, just as the heavenly Father is merciful (Lk 6:36). I ask for this in my own words or by using the following:

Please grant me the grace to be able to listen from the outside and from within. From the outside, the words I read, from within, the feelings and impulses that arise. Slowly, I begin to read the passage from the Gospel. Word by word. Line by line. I gaze upon Him who speaks to me.

2. Reading – Listening: The Parable of the Ten Virgins in the Bible– Matthew 25:1-13

25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

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12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

3. Thoughts on the Gospel: The Parable of the Ten Virgins in the Bible – Matthew 25:1-13 – Meaning and Commentary

Jesus told many parables about the Kingdom of God. In them, we can find two dimensions:

The Kingdom that is already present here and now, hidden in everyday events and can be discovered and appreciated. The future Kingdom is yet to come, and each of us must prepare for it now. The tension between the “already” and the “not yet” permeates a Christian’s life.

Jesus began the parable with the words that the heavenly kingdom will be like… This means he is talking about the future kingdom. He used the well-known custom of a bridegroom inviting some young virgins from the village to accompany him to the wedding feast. They had to accompany him with lit lamps, which were small and had only a limited amount of oil. Therefore, it was wise for each of them to take some spare oil with them. The lesson of the parable is that those who accept a task must prepare for it according to its requirements.

It was night, and the bridegroom was delayed. The young women fell asleep. Suddenly, a cry was heard that the bridegroom was coming. Events that happen suddenly, regardless of our will, reveal whether we are prudent and farsighted or foolish and short-sighted.

When they woke up, they began to refill their lamps. The virgins without spare oil asked the others to lend them some, but the wise virgins advised them to buy some for themselves. However, the doors were closed in the meantime, and they couldn’t enter, even though they knocked and begged. Therefore, in the end, Jesus emphasized: “So, stay awake, for you do not know the day or the hour!”

God can come into our lives at any time. Everyone must always be prepared. Just as the prudent and wise virgins at the wedding feast had to be prepared, so must everyone be ready. After all, one cannot “borrow” good deeds from others when the time comes. Everyone must continually serve God and their neighbor because they do not know when the Bridegroom will come.

There are some unusual elements in the parable: a) at night, there are no open shops, b) doors at a wedding feast do not typically get closed, c) usually, a bridegroom would never say that he does not know them. These unusual elements prompt the listeners to pay close attention to understand the lesson.

Since the time of the prophet Hosea in the 8th century BC, people had hoped to come close to God, like the intimacy between a bridegroom and a bride (Hosea 2:19-20). The prophet Isaiah clearly told them that God desires to be a husband to His people (Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:14) and rejoice over them as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride (Isaiah 62:5).

This hope was fulfilled with the coming of Jesus. But Jesus as the bridegroom can enter the lives of only those who are willing to make room for him. Whoever is not prepared should not delay, for no one knows the day or the hour of his final coming.

4. Meditation – Thinking

I am now reflecting on the heard Word of God. I am looking at Jesus and other individuals in the passage. I am observing how the Word of God touches my thoughts and feelings, how it reveals God to me and me to myself and others in Him. The following thoughts or questions can also be helpful:

  • What caught my attention in this parable? Why? Jesus distinguishes between the “foolish” and the “wise.”
  • What does foolishness and wisdom mean to me? How does either one affect my life?

5. Personal Prayer

In the next moments of silence, I talk about this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God).

6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God

I allow everything within me to fall silent. I am simply present in God, just as He is present in me. Perhaps from this silence and stillness, I will sense even more of God’s address and His desire for me to be always with Him and to do everything with Him and in Him…

7. Action

When I enter into a personal relationship with God, He transforms me, makes me more loving, and inspires me to take concrete action…

8. Prayer at the end

Heavenly Father, thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ, and his vigilance and wisdom. Help me, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to become more like Him, so that I can be vigilant and wise in the midst of everyday life.

9. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection

This is the time when I became aware of and articulate what was happening within me during prayer. The following questions can assist me in reflection:

  • What was happening during prayer? What feelings and thoughts could I discern within myself?
  • What did I learn about God, His relationship with me and others, and my own relationship with Him and others?
  • How did I conclude my prayer? What did I receive in it for my everyday life?
  • In the end, I can jot down my insights, discoveries, and realizations. I also note where I encountered difficulties, as these can be valuable in understanding God’s relationship with me and my relationship with Him. They can also help me find a more suitable way of praying. Then, I express gratitude to the triune God for everything.

Lectio Divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home –

Text from the Bible – New International Version (NIV)

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!