Watchman Nee

The Ten Virgins.

Matthew 25.1-13

This parable may be divided into seven parts: (1) the ten virgins going forth to meet the bridegroom (v.1); (2) the two different classes of virgins (vv.2-4); (3) their history or process (vv. 5-7); (4) the discovery of a lack (vv. 8-9); (5) the distinction (v.10); (6) the request of the foolish (vv.11-12); and (7) the lesson (v.13)

v.1 “Then” refers to the time of parousia. “The kingdom of heaven” and not the church is in view here. The kingdom of heaven is the sphere of the righteousness of God, the realm in which God rules and reigns. “Virgins” refer to Christians; and “bridegroom” to the Lord. “Ten” in the Scriptures is a number which, as we shall see below, denotes the greater part of the whole. There are altogether four numbers in the Bible which represent perfection: “three” (the perfection of God); “seven” (the perfection of time, temporary perfection); “ten” (the perfection of man); and “twelve” (the perfection of the ages, eternal perfection). In Revelation 21 everything noted there is twelve-gates, pearls, the names of the apostles, the tribes of Israel, the precious stones, the height of the wall [144 = 12²]. Before this chapter 21, all is seven in the book of Revelation. But commencing with the new heaven and new earth (the subject of chapter 21), all is twelve. Three is the number of God and four is the number of man. Three plus four is seven (God’s number plus man’s number), which is yet separable and hence represents temporary perfection. Three multiplied by four is twelve (God’s number multiplied by man’s number), which is inseparable and therefore stands for eternal perfection. Ten is a little short of the perfect number of twelve. By adding two to it, the result will become the number of eternal perfection: in this connection let us see that in Matthew 24, the two women grinding at the mill represent the living believers; while in chapter 25 the ten virgins represent the dead believers (“they all slumbered and slept”-v.5). In the Bible there is the usage of the number twelve in both Greek and Hebrew as often being ten plus two: ten being the majority number and two the residual number. For example: ten brothers and two brothers (Gen. 42.3-4); ten spies and Joshua with Caleb (Num. 14.37-38); the prophet Ahijah rent his new garment into twelve pieces and gave them away by distributing ten pieces and two pieces (1 Kings 11.29-31); and the controversy between the ten disciples and the two disciples (Matt. 20.24). “Virgins”-In a parable, the matter of virginity cannot be taken literally. The virgins instead represent us who are re-created in Christ. They point more to the idea of our being hidden ones than to the idea of chastity, for married women may also be chaste. The term “virgins” cannot be applied to either the Jews or the unbelievers; only Christians can adopt this term. The one purpose of these virgins is to go forth with their lamps to meet the bridegroom. “Lamp” in the Bible may mean several things: (1) the word of the Lord (Ps. 119.105); (2) the word of prophecy (2 Peter 1.19); and (3) the outward testimony of the Christian (Matt. 5.14-16). It does not say “candle” here since a candle burns its own wax to give light, whereas oil is poured into a lamp from the outside in order for it to shed light. So the outward declaration of the Christian ought to be a going forth to meet the bridegroom. Just as in the breaking of bread, we not only remember the finished work of the Lord but also remember that the day of His coming is near.

vv.2-4 Two classes of virgins. Many commentators take the five foolish virgins to be the unsaved, yet there are so many iron-clad evidences to overturn such an interpretation that we will mention only fifteen of them, which serve also as important proofs that these foolish virgins are saved ones:

(1) These five foolish ones are virgins. Even through verse 11, they are still termed virgins. Throughout the parable the Lord never called this matter into question; on the contrary, He continually recognized this as a fact.

(2) There are lights in their lamps (v.8). These lights sustained them up to midnight and the time of their lamps “going out” (not even that they had “gone out”), showing that the lights are not yet extinguished. And hence these virgins have “good works” and they “glorify [their] Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5.16) due to the indwelling Holy Spirit in them, except that now their lights are going out.

(3) They all go forth to meet the bridegroom. The unsaved will never be able to go out to meet the bridegroom. Will bandits ever light their torches and go forth to meet the government troops?

(4) “But at midnight there is a cry ….. Come ye forth to meet him”-The cry is to all the ten virgins. The archangel surely will not call mistakenly nor the Lord use any word incorrectly.

(5) Oil in their lamps, even though it is granted that there is no oil in the vessels. Oil signifies the Holy Spirit, and hence these foolish virgins must be saved ones.

(6) “Then all those virgins arose” (v.7). It refers to but one resurrection common to all ten. For note that a thousand years shall separate the resurrection of the saved from that of the unsaved.

(7) The five wise virgins go in with the bridegroom (v.10); afterward come also the foolish virgins (v.11). They all are raptured to the air, except that the latter five cannot attend the marriage feast.

(8) The difference between the five wise and five foolish virgins lies in their conduct, not in their nature-since all of them are virgins with no divergence of true or false, the only distinction being between being wise or foolish. To be foolish does not mean to not be saved.

(9) Due to the tarrying of the bridegroom (v.5), the lamps of the foolish are going out. If the bridegroom does not tarry, these may be just as qualified as the wise ones to enter.

(10) These five foolish are virgins from the beginning to the end (v.11).

(11) “Buy for yourselves” (v.9). To the unsaved, it cannot be a matter of “buying” but one of “asking” since grace is freely given. Only to the saved can the word be “buy”-which means paying a price.

(12) If the five foolish are unsaved, then according to this interpretation it would seem that they are being given another opportunity to be saved after they die, because the wise virgins counsel them to go and buy oil.

(13) If the five foolish are unsaved, would the five wise say, “Peradventure there will not be enough for us and you”? If these foolish are truly unsaved, these five wise cannot make any excuse but must pay any cost to help; for how can they stand by and do nothing for the perishing?

(14) “Watch therefore,” says the Lord (v.13). To be watchful requires life. If the five foolish are not saved, they cannot be exhorted to watch but must be urged to repent.

(15) In contrast to the parable of the gospel feast told of in Matthew 22, which is directed towards the lost, this parable is spoken to the disciples. Matthew 22 is concerned with the question of being saved or perishing, but this is not the concern of Matthew 25. Whoever is bound and cast out in the parable of Matthew 22 is totally helpless, but the foolish virgins who are barred are still quite free. The earlier parable relates to the gain or loss of the king, while the latter story pertains to that of the virgins. The one refers to the glory of the king; the other reflects upon the welfare of the virgins. In interpreting the Scriptures believers today devote themselves almost entirely to the problem of whether saved or unsaved, not realizing that there is the equally important question of the kingdom after once being saved. The wise and the foolish differ not in nature, only in conduct. There is one place in the New Testament that can prove this point, and for this we must consult Matthew 7.24-26. The wise man is he who does the words of the Lord, while the foolish man is one who does not obey them. The rock stands for the words of the Lord, but the sand signifies the ideas of man. To build upon the rock is to do everything according to God’s word; to build upon the sand is to do things according to one’s own ideas. “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9.10). It is therefore wise to be simple before God and foolish to rebel against Him. To say “perhaps” or “according to my own opinion” is really being foolish. To do what God says may look like utter foolishness to man but it is real wisdom to God. Only in two points do the two classes of virgins differ: (1) the wise ones carry oil in their vessels while the foolish do not; and (2) the wise virgins go in to the marriage feast whereas the foolish ones are rejected. Their similarities are many, such as they all (1) are virgins, (2) have lamps (the appearance), (3) they bear light (the conduct which glorifies God), (4) have oil (the Holy Spirit), (5) go forth to meet the bridegroom (waiting), (6) sleep, (7) hear the midnight cry, (8) arise (resurrection), and (9) trim their lamps (prepare oil). Yet however numerous are their similarities and seemingly limited are their differences, the consequences for each group are far, far apart. What care must we therefore exercise! Whatever may be the cause, that will be the effect. Today’s difference will produce tomorrow’s divergence. The glory or shame in the age to come is decided today. “Took no oil with them”-That is to say, the foolish prepared no oil apart from what was already in the lamp. The wise have extra oil in their vessels. Oil in the lamp speaks of the Holy Spirit who dwells in every regenerated person. A Christian, even a beginner, has the indwelling Holy Spirit (see Ez. 36.26-27, Eph. 1.13). “The spirit of man is the lamp of Jehovah, searching all his innermost parts” (Prov. 20.27). “If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8.9). “Know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you? unless indeed ye be reprobates” (2 Cor. 13.5). “Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he gave us” (1 John 3.24). “Hereby we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit” (1 John 4.13). The Lord therefore dwells in us by His Spirit. But oil in the vessel means more than the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; it speaks of being filled with the Holy Spirit. The indwelling Holy Spirit is received at the time of regeneration, but the filling of the Holy Spirit comes through continual seeking following the moment of regeneration. Each believer has the Holy Spirit, yet not all have the fullness of the Holy Spirit. A vessel is something other than the lamp. Yet this is not the emphasis here. Since oil is a liquid, it has to be contained in a vessel. God’s will is for us to be filled to the full, not just having oil in the lamp. In order to realize this, neither trimming nor decorating the lamp will be a good way, for God looks for extra oil in the vessel. Yet the believer’s attention is usually drawn to the outward appearance of the lamp. The less oil one has, the more assiduously he takes care of the appearance. Nevertheless, trimming can never be a substitute for the oil. We imagine that receiving oil once is enough, but God desires us to receive it twice. The second time is different from the first, in that at the first instance God gives freely whereas at the second instance He demands a price to be paid. If anyone refuses to pay the price – denying himself and seeking earnestly – he will not be given the oil again. So let us be alert. People may not be able to detect whether or not we have the oil twice over; and we may indeed get by without any trouble today, but on that future day we will be found out. Are we willing to pay the price? To be filled with the Holy Spirit is the condition for rapture. Just as a balloon filled with helium will ascend heavenward, so will those who are filled with the Holy Spirit be caught up. Let us therefore pay the price in providing oil in the vessel, or else we will be those like the foolish virgins.

vv.5-7 These verses form the third part of the parable and narrate the history of these virgins. Spiritual foolishness may not be readily discerned in the world, but the tarrying of the Lord is the acid test. At the beginning, both the wise and the foolish receive the same light, And the latter may therefore ridicule the former for being cumbered about with carrying extra oil. Oh how many are fit to be raptured at first but render themselves unfit later on! This is due to the delay of the Lord. Indeed, it is the evil servant who thinks that the Lord will delay His return; just the opposite, though, is the foolish virgin who imagines that the Lord will come earlier! The parable of the evil servant teaches believers to be ready to meet the Lord today, while the parable of the ten virgins instructs us to be prepared for any unexpected delay of the Lord’s return. Should the Lord tarry for 56 more years, will you still be ready to meet Him? Be careful lest your lamp can only burn till midnight but not after midnight. If you set your lamp to burn only till midnight, the Lord may tarry until after that hour. Do not despise the testing of the Lord. The usefulness of the oil in the vessel is revealed in the Lord’s tarrying. So that what is being emphasized here is not the initial burning but whether there is extra oil in the vessel for longer burning.

The bridegroom, of course, is the Lord. “Now while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept”-Since this is a parable, it naturally should be interpreted spiritually. Sleep in the Scriptures may convey either one of two meanings: (1) a falling away spiritually (see Rom. 13.11-14, 1 Thess. 5.6); or (2) death (see 1 Thess. 4.13, John 11.11-14). It cannot mean a spiritual falling away because (a) the wise virgins fall asleep as well as the foolish; (b) the sleep here is unimportant since the wise are not evilly affected by it; (c) the Lord does not reprimand them for their sleep, instead He completely ignores the fact; and (d) we should notice the lesson to be gained from verse 13 wherein the Lord is found teaching His hearers to watch just as the wise virgins had done. In view of these observations, therefore, the sleep mentioned here cannot have reference to a spiritual falling away but instead signifies physical death. “But at midnight there is a cry”-Some say this refers to the renewed interest in the study of prophecy and the preaching of the second coming which occurred at the beginning of the nineteenth century. This may sound attractive, but unfortunately in the parable none of the ten virgins awakens on her own accord. They do not awaken through any initiative of their own but must be awakened by the action of the bridegroom himself. Hence the sounding of the midnight cry must yet await its fulfillment at the time of the voice of the archangel and the sound of the trump of God as mentioned in I Thessalonians 4.16 and I Corinthians 15.52. The voice of the archangel is for the purpose of waking people up, and the sounding of the trumpet of God serves to gather people together. So that in the parable, those who hear (all ten virgins) stand for all the dead believers. “Behold, the bridegroom! Come ye forth to meet him”- Since the two sides (that is, the bridegroom and the virgins) are both coming together, they will accordingly meet in the air. “Then all those virgins arose”-This proves that all dead Christians are resurrected together. Here the virgins seem to have time to talk things over; but according to 1 Corinthians 15.52 the event all happens in a moment-in the twinkling of an eye-so that there is no opportunity left to make conversation. Let us understand that what we have here is a parable, and there frequently is portrayed in parables an element of time which actually does not exist. For example, in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matt. 20.1-16), a contention is mentioned as arising between the Lord and those who labor earliest but are paid last. Such contending with the Lord is in fact impossible. The same thing happens in the parable of the marriage feast as told in Matthew 22.1-14. Consequently, when we study parables we should concentrate on their teachings and not so much on the details.

vv.8-9 The fourth part of this parable is the discovery of lack in the five foolish ones. They discover their lack of oil because of the tarrying of the bridegroom (v.5a). His tarrying is for the purpose of testing the wise and the foolish. The foolish virgins no doubt deemed the five wise ones to have encumbered themselves unnecessarily in carrying oil in vessels, but now they too find the need for oil, and so they ask the wise virgins for it. The gift of the Holy Spirit may be imparted (see Acts 8.17, 19.6; 1 Tim. 4.14; 2 Tim. 1.6), but the fullness of the Holy Spirit cannot be transferred. It is not enough simply to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is absolutely no way to share other people’s oil, not even with parents, brothers and sisters, or close relations. One’s spiritual fullness can come only from paying the price himself. Counterfeit spirituality may pass for real today, but it cannot pass the test on that day. To be filled with the Holy Spirit requires fellowship with the Lord and costly pursuit of Him. No matter how long we may be in company with spiritual people, we will not automatically share in their oil. Light may be borrowed, but oil cannot.

“Peradventure there will not be enough for us and you”-In other words, there can be no help since help in this situation is impossible. The Lord does permit a certain kind of holy selfishness here. Although we should always be sympathetic toward others, can we afford to be foolish because others are? Should we not rather keep a definite amount of sacred holiness for the Lord? “There will not be enough for us and you”-It will mean loss to both; and moreover, the other party will not he helped at all. “And buy for yourselves”-This injunction signifies a great deal of truth:

(1) At least there is still the possibility and the opportunity to buy oil at that time. Yet please notice that this does not refer to one more opportunity being given to the resurrected dead to be saved, because the resurrection of the unsaved does not occur at that time.

(2) This injunction does suggest, however, that the oil of the wise ones was originally secured with a price. The indolent will not be filled with the Holy Spirit.

paying a price. It has to be bought, not to be begged for. Also, one needs to know what to buy. Who would go to a department store to buy, and when asked what he wants would not know what to buy? Nevertheless, a great number of Christians are like that because (a) they do not realize the necessity for buying oil, (b) they do not know the price, and (c) they do not wish to pay the price.

Believers today do not understand how essential it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The oil in the lamp is not suflicient to burn after midnight; only the oil in the vessel is sufficient enough. Most Christians, having received the New Covenant, know only new desires but not new power. It is most painful to have a new desire without the power to fulfill it. This proves the need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Since there is need, there is reason for paying the price. Before one builds a tower he should first sit down and count the cost, and before he goes to war he should first take counsel as to how many soldiers he would commit to the fight (see Luke 14.25-35).

Many are frightened away by the heavy cost, not considering how essential is the oil. The price each pays will vary. Some may have to forsake something. One thing is certain, which is, that oil cannot be bought without paying a price. It is not freely obtained, neither is it obtained for personal interest but for the glory of God and for His work. How many there are who like to adorn themselves with gifts and power, yet God does not give these to exalt men. People may know what price they have to pay, but they ought to know that a price must be paid. Obviously, dealing with sin is a prerequisite. If sin is not dealt with, who can talk about paying a price? Yet to confess sin is not the paying of any price since this is minimally what one and all ought to do anyway; for let us understand that even the five foolish virgins have dealt with sin too.

(4) Pay the price – a matter of paying the right price for the right merchandise. The measure of the price paid will determine the amount of oil obtained. Let us see that the cross and the Holy Spirit are inseparable. Let the slaying of Jesus be manifested in your body (see 2 Cor. 4.8-11), for the cross will create in you an empty space for the power of the New Covenant to fill. The fullness according to the New Covenant is a fact more than it is a matter of consciousness-just as the heartbeat is a fact, although it may not always be felt. God’s only begotten Son is freely given, but the oil in the vessel must be bought. There are four things cited in the Bible which must be bought:

(a) “Buy the truth” (Prov. 23.23). In order to know the truth, one must be determined to practice the truth and to seek earnestly after it.

(b) “Buy .. gold refined by fire” (Rev. 3.18). Such buying of refined gold and white garments and eye-salve is not action for the unsaved to take, because God cannot ask the unsaved to buy. Laodicea is, after all, a church. “Gold refined by fire” signifies that faith which has gone through trial and has been proven undefeated. It is the faith which overcomes environment (see 1 Peter 1.7). God allows you to go through a trial in order to show His love to you, and also for him to be glorified before Satan (such as in the case of Job).

(c) “Buy. . . white garments” (Rev. 3.18)-There are two kinds of white garments spoken of in the book of Revelation: (1) those white garments we received before God, which garments are the Lord Jesus himself. We are clothed with Christ, and thus are we cleansed. Whoever does not have this white garment is not saved. (2) those white garments we wear before God, which represent the righteousnesses of the saints (Rev. 19.8 Darby) that are the result of the operation of the Spirit of the Lord within us. Whoever does not have this white garment is naked before God and will not be rewarded. (d) “Buy.. . eyesalve” (Rev. 3.18) -This is the revelation of the Holy Spirit, without which no one really sees.

(5) Such an injunction here in verse 9 hints at the fact that oil must be bought. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is not something you can decide. Sooner or later you must be filled with the Holy Spirit. Do not think that those who are like the five wise have gone to an extreme. One day God will force you to go to such an “extreme”: for Ephesians 5.18 is a command.

(6) “Go ye rather to them that sell”-Where will they be able to buy this oil? We can only take it as signifying that they must pay a price for obtaining their extra oil.

(7) The injunction in verse 9 touches upon this question too: How can there be suffering after resurrection? Such notion that there is no suffering after resurrection is erroneous. For all who shall suffer in the lake of fire will have themselves been resurrected too. Some people are resurrected to enjoy life, while others are resurrected to suffer eternal death. If a person has not been able to control his temper while living, his death will not automatically change him. For let us realize that the lusts, pride, and selfishness of the rich man spoken of in Luke’s parable remain with him in Hades (16.19-31). Therefore, after the virgins arise they all are found trimming their lamps. Yet the statement – “Our lamps are going out” – made by the five foolish virgins (v.8) indicates that the lamps will not be completely extinguished. God gives us life that is once and forever. Although in the Christian’s experience of the Holy Spirit there are many times when it looks as if his lamp is going out, nevertheless the Holy Spirit will never leaves us: He will not leave, even in the face of our unfaithfulness.

v.10 The fifth part of the parable deals with the separation. “And while they went away to buy”- Oil these foolish ones must have; but while they go away to buy, the Lord arrives; and only those who are ready go in with Him to the marriage feast. Hence the whole problem is whether one is ready. Yet they do not cease to be virgins because they are not ready; for many are true Christians, but few are ready ones. “Went in with him to the marriage feast” (see also Rev. 19.7,9). The bride is the New Jerusalem, which includes all who are chosen to be united with God – both those of the Old Testament time and of the New Testament dispensation. The bride mentioned in Revelation 19 emerges before the millennial kingdom, whereas the bride spoken of in Revelation 21 appears after the kingdom. There is thus a gap of a thousand years. Since one becomes a bride but once, it is evident that the marriage feast extends over a period of a thousand years. “Marriage feast”-This means to be with the bridegroom and to rejoice together. Such joy is very special, and therefore Revelation 19 says how “blessed are they that are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (v.9). The “blessed” mentioned in Revelation 20.6, though, has relationship to the matter of reigning and appears to be the same supping and reigning as is described in Revelation 3.20-21. Altogether, there are seven times in Revelation when the word “blessed” is proclaimed. Why does Matthew 25 not speak of the bride? For the simple reason that the bride is corporate, whereas the virgins here in the parable are seen as individuals. The bride cannot be viewed as five and five. “And the door was shut”-It is the door of the kingdom, the entrance into the joy of feasting with the bridegroom.

vv. 11-12 The request of the foolish virgins forms the sixth part of the parable. Now they have come back from buying oil. Keep in mind that both the five wise and the five foolish are virgins, all ten having oil in their lamps, all going out to meet the bridegroom, all falling asleep while waiting, and all rising and trimming their lamps after having heard the cry, Behold, the bridegroom! Now, both parties have oil in their vessels, with the only difference being one of time. Recall how once the Lord had chided the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, saying, “0 foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24.25) Recall also how He had likewise admonished Thomas, saying, “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20.29). The matter of quickness or slowness is of great importance. Do we not know that all who will suffer in the lake of fire will have to believe sometime, only they have believed too late? “Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5.15-16). The foolish do not redeem the time, but the wise ones do. The latter are filled with the Holy Spirit. Let us realize that we must all some day be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then why not now? Why have this experience come afterwards? “I know you not”-Will the Lord ever say to the saved that He does not know them? However, we need to examine this answer of our Lord’s very carefully:

(1) “But he answered and said”-The word “but” shows that the answer is unusual and out of all expectation. In Luke 15.22 the same word indicates how totally unthought of, un-hoped-for, and unexpected by the prodigal son were the father’s words to his servants. The word “but” here proves that the “know not” is not an ordinary not knowing.

(2) The Lord knows all who are saved (2 Tim. 2.19, Gal. 4.9, John 10.14). Two Greek words are used for “know” in the New Testament: ginosko and oida. The former signifies an objective knowledge while the latter signifies a subjective and deeper knowledge. Now oida is the Greek word employed here by the Lord.

(3) How is oida used in the Scriptures? It is recognizably employed to mean approve, commend, endorse, or applaud.

What follows are a few examples from the New Testament which illustrate the use of this Greek word. In each example, the verb “to. know” or “to not know” is oida or its variant, “In the midst of you standeth one whom ye know not” (John 1.26). In this situation, of course, the Jews know (ginosko) the Lord, but they do not really know (oida) Him because they do not love Him. “I knew him not” (John 1.31). Since John and the Lord Jesus are cousins, the Baptist certainly knows Jesus objectively (ginosko) but not subjectively (oida) -that is to say, John does not know Him deeply. “Ye know neither me, nor my Father (John 8.19). Though the Jews know (ginosko) the Lord quite well externally, they do not approve of Him nor do they receive Him. “I know you not whence ye are” (spoken twice in Luke 13.22-30). Here the Lord speaks of the situation in the kingdom. Some who have eaten and drunk with the Lord and have also heard Him teaching in their streets doubtless know objectively (ginosko) the Lord well, yet they are referred to. by the Lord as “workers of iniquity”-a phrase which in the original is worded as “workers of unrighteousness”-that is to say, those who do not walk according to rule. “Ye know the house of Stephanas” (1 Cor. 16.15). The Corinthian believers know deeply (oida) and not just know objectively (ginosko) the house of Stephanas. Hence from all these examples we learn that oida is subjective knowing of a person, which implies a sense of trust.

(4) “Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10.33; cf. also Luke 12.9). These two instances of the word deny have reference to things in the kingdom. Secret Christians will not perish, yet neither will they be approved by the Lord in the kingdom. To Deny (arneomai) is to not know (in the oida sense of not knowing) (see Matt. 26.70). It is to contradict, refute, or overturn.

(5) There are similar examples of this matter of knowing and not knowing in the Old Testament, as for instance in I Samuel 3.7 (“Now Samuel did not yet know Jehovah”) wherein Samuel had indeed objectively known Jehovah, but he had yet to know the Lord in a subjective way.

(6) The reward of the kingdom is based purely on righteousness. For the Lord to deny has about it the flavor of righteousness. Just as a judge must ask the name of the offender even if the latter is his own son, so the denial here in Matthew 25.12 (“I know you not”) refers to the action and not to the person. It means the Lord cannot accept or approve.

v.13 The lesson in this final part of the parable is “watch”-The Lord commands us to be watchful; He does not urge us here to be regenerated and be saved. The “they that were ready” in verse 10 are those who have watched. Thus, “ready” and “watch” are joined into one. To be “ready” means that there is no unfinished business, and one is therefore ready to be reckoned with daily. To “watch” means to so live as to be always ready for the coming of the Lord. We believers should daily be prepared for reckoning. The Lord may come at any time. The five foolish virgins were ready and watching at the beginning, but alas, they did not continue on. The word “ready” here is concerned with self as to whether or not there is anything left undone. The word “watch” on the other hand has its direction towards the Lord; it signifies a waiting to meet Him at any time. To be ready and watchful and waiting, we need the fullness of the Holy Spirit. It will not do if we depend on ourselves, for very soon we will be weakened and become foolish. But if we are filled with the Holy Spirit we will spontaneously bear fruit to the glory to God. He who is truly watchful often feels he is not yet entirely ready. He does not trust in his own self. This is true humility. Yet what does it avail if we have such prophecy but are not watchful? Will it not be tragic if we have prophetic knowledge and still suffer loss in the future? Be ready, for the Lord only looks into our lamp and light. Be watchful, because we do not know the day nor the hour. For if we knew, we would have no need to be watchful. In chapters 24 and 25, five times we are told that no one knows the day of the coming of the Lord. Such intense repetition signifies extreme importance. How unreliable is the concept of our all being raptured after the Great Tribulation; for if that were indeed the case, we would be able to compute most accurately the day of His coming: we would need only to count three years and a half after the image of the beast has been placed in the temple. Yet the reason why the Lord does not inform us of the date is because He wants us to be watchful.