1. The bridegroom is Christ, the virgins are those who have accepted Christianity in faith, the oil is good works or love and the sleep is death. The number ten is interpreted in several ways therefore no consensus on that. We should not forget that the intention of the parable is to say that the kingdom is like the whole process narrated in the story and so we should avoid dwelling on the individual details of the description.
2. The aspect of delay is more important, without which the parable has no significance. It was due to delay the lamps went out, the virgins went to sleep. The delay might be due to the banquet in the bride’s house. In any case, it was delay that distinguishes the wise ones from the foolish.
3. There is no reason to think that sleep is given a negative connotation. Both foolish as well as the wise virgins went to sleep. It was their preparedness and alertness which was commended.
4. Are the wise ethically culpable for not sharing? Some start arguing that the attitude of the wise is ungracious. They were accused for being selfish. The point is this, if they share the oil with the others eventually all the lamps will go out before reaching their destiny and all would be in darkness. A parable should be understood in context. The parable and reality are not connected with equal signs.
5. The parable urges one to be ready and be prepared in view of the kingdom. Wisdom here means understanding the eschatological outlook of Jesus’ teaching. This parable is used by Jesus to instruct his disciples to live with such wisdom.
The worst thing we experience when we go to some government offices is the delay in the proceedings of the work. We tend to lose our patience when something gets delayed. Travelers usually experience the delay of the trains and buses. After waiting for a considerable amount of time, we usually decide and find alternatives and only at that time the thing or the person whom we waited for will arrive. There are several times we feel, ‘I should have waited for some more time’. God is teaching us a lesson on the importance of patience using this parable of ten virgins.
Stories with Intent – Klyne. R. Snodgrass