Male Virgins?

(Male Virgins?) Bible Question

Question:

“Our teacher was teaching from Matthew 25. He said that the 10 virgins in the parable were men. I had not heard this. Were these ten virgins male?”

Answer:

Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.

But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.

Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

– Matthew 25:1 – 13 (New American Standard Bible)

The Greek word used here for “virgins” is “parthenois”. The word is a masculine form. New Testament Greek has three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. This word is indeed masculine.

But, it is one of those words that was used for men and women. For instance, Mary (the mother of Jesus) was a “parthenois” (virgin) (Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:27). In both places this Greek word is used. In Acts 21, the preacher Philip had four parthenois (or virgin) daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). So, clearly the word used to refer to women as well as to men.

Therefore, we must let the context help us decide whether the term is referring to men or women. In the parable, the bridegroom is coming to the wedding feast. Typically, the groom in that culture would go to the house of his bride. There would be a feast (party) that could last a few days (sometimes a week or two). He might take his bride to his home immediately, or he might stay there and enjoy the company of family and friends.

Since the bridegroom is coming to the feast at the bride’s home (not his home), the ten virgins would probably be female friends of the bride. But even if they were male, the point of the parable is not changed. We must be ready to greet the bridegroom (Jesus) when He returns. We must not become lazy or tired in our waiting. Regardless of whether the virgins were male or female, we must be ready to meet the Lord.

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