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Verses 2-4. And five of them were wise. The words wise and foolish, here, refer only to their conduct in regard to the oil. The one part was wise in taking oil, the other foolish in neglecting it. The conduct of those who were wise refers to those who are prepared for the coming of Christ—prepared by possessing real piety, and not merely profession. The conduct of those without oil expresses the conduct of those who profess to love him, but are destitute of true grace, and are unprepared to meet him. Nothing can be argued from the number here, in regard to the proportion of sincere Christians among professors. Circumstances in parables are not to be pressed literally. They are necessary to keep up the story, and we must look chiefly or entirely to the scope or design of the parable to understand its meaning. In this parable the scope is to teach us to watch or be ready, Mt 25:13. It is not to teach us the number of those who shall be saved, and those who shall not. In teaching us to watch and be ready, our Lord gives great additional interest by the circumstances of this narrative; but there is no authority for saying that he meant to teach that just half of professing Christians would be deceived. The probability is, that nothing like that number will be found to have been hypocrites.

Oil in their vessels. The five foolish virgins probably expected that the bridegroom would come immediately. They therefore provided for no delay, and no uncertainty. The wise virgins knew that the time of his coming was uncertain, and they therefore furnished themselves with oil. This was carried in vessels, so that it could be poured on the torch or flambeaux when it was necessary.

Vessels. Cups, cans, or anything to hold oil.

{u} "And five" Jer 24:2-9; Mt 22:10

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