The Kingdom of Heaven started small but grows large (like the mustard seed and leaven) into which all nations are drawn (13:31-33); The Kingdom of Heaven casts a wide net with the gospel call seeking for dying souls. Such as should be saved will be saved by God Himself ordinarily through the preaching of the Word (13:47-52).
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
Upon arrival in the Rocky Mountains visitors are struck by the many sights all around them. Snow capped mountains, high waterfalls, flowing rivers, pristine mountain lakes, and wildlife in abundance. To enjoy the fullest experience of the mountains, time must be spent focusing on each sight. As we embark on the study of this majestic parable we are similarly struck by the many elements within. We are introduced to a kingdom, virgins, lamps, a bridegroom, oil, a fixed time, a marriage, and a door. For our greatest benefit from the parable we need to understand something of the various elements of the parable by looking at each one on its own terms.
We are introduced to the parable not by meeting the ten virgins who appear later in the first verse but rather the Lord begins the parable with commentary on a kingdom. “Then shall the Kingdom of heaven be likened…”
This is not the first time Matthew uses the title, “The Kingdom of Heaven,” nor is it the last. It is a phrase, however, that we only read in the Gospel of Matthew. Other gospels use the similar phrase, “The Kingdom of God.” “The Kingdom of Heaven” is used more than 30 times in Matthew’s Gospel beginning with the start of John the Baptist’s ministry (3:2) and continuing with Jesus’ ministry when He, “began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” ( 4:17). Among the many uses of this phrase there are at least twelve kingdom of heaven parables where the Lord describes the Kingdom of Heaven by illustration. The parables begin with the Wheat and the Tares in 13:24 and continue to the parable of the talents in 25:14. The parable of the ten virgins then is the eleventh in the series of parables beginning in this way, “The Kingdom of heaven is likened…”
Christ’s parables are word pictures. As such we need to use them accordingly. We do not need to interpret the book solely through the picture but rather we should interpret the picture through the book. By interpreting Scripture through Scripture in this way we we will glean the spiritual realities the Lord has reserved for us through the illustration of the parable.
There are a variety of interpretations given for the Kingdom of Heaven among theologians.