“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ “‘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.’ “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. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
First I want to note that "At that time" in verse 1 would refer to the previous chapter where Jesus is talking about the destruction of the temple, and answering questions about the end of the age. So this passage is talking about what the kingdom of heaven was like or will be like during those days.
Matt 24:34 confuses me in that it seems this passage may apply to things in the 1st century church. "Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." (NIV)
So I don't think I understand the timing of the events of chapter 24 enough to make many conclusions about this passage.
I also wonder what the extra oil represents? It seems to be a another key point in this parable. It is the only difference between the 5 virgins that went to the wedding banquet and the 5 that were left outside. Some believe the oil represents the Holy Spirit. Others believe it is other things that are essential for salvation.
Matthew 22:1-14 (NIV) also speaks of a wedding banquet where some people show up but are not allowed in. In that passage the factor that keeps some out is that they are not wearing proper wedding clothes. I hope that doesn't mean I need to wear a suit and tie all the time. :)
The point could be made that some 'Christians' are/were waiting for Christ's return, but are/were unfortunately lacking something. Just hanging around with other Christians, and doing what they do may not be enough.
Sorry, I'm not shedding much light with this one. It's being labeled with other passages I don't fully understand.
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.