Is the parable of 10 virgins about Israel and how many are saved?

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Question / Comment -  Is the parable of the 10 virgins about Israel and how many are saved?

Hi Ian hope everything is well. Your writings are just amazing. I have a query which I humbly request you to please clarify:

In the parable of 10 virgins, as some commentators state, refers to Israel (because in OT virgin is referring to Israel). This will occur during the 7 years of tribulation. As indicated in the parable, 5 are foolish and 5 are wise, which commentators some Jews (foolish virgins) during that time will perish. Some even say half of them will perish (5 foolish and 5 wise -which is half). But Paul says in Romans 11:26 "All Israel will be saved." How do we reconcile these two thoughts?

JPN Reply:


Yeah the parable of the 10 virgins always brings up questions and differences of opinion. Some apply the virgins to the church, some to Israel, others to the believers in the tribulation. The virgins weren't the bride but were friends of the bride. This seems to place them into the category of being Jewish or tribulation saints when the Lord returns at the end of the tribulation. William MacDonald writes:

The Syriac and Vulgate versions say that he came with his bride. This fits the prophetic picture perfectly. The Lord Jesus will return from the wedding with His bride, the church (1Th 3:13). (The wedding takes place in heaven [Eph 5:27] after the Rapture.) The faithful remnant of Tribulation saints will go in with Him to the marriage feast. The marriage feast is a fitting designation of the joy and blessing of Christ's earthly kingdom. The wise virgins went in with him to the wedding (or wedding feast, JND); and the door was closed. It was too late for anyone else to get into the kingdom. When the other virgins came seeking admittance, the bridegroom disavowed knowing them—a clear proof that they had never been born again.
Believers Bible Commentary 

Though in context it seems to apply to the 2nd coming, and that is what I believe it is primarily about, as an application I personally don't have any problems applying it to all groups - the Church at the rapture, and the Jews and the tribulation saints at the 2nd Coming. Why? Because it's main central theme and point applies to all. And it is this: BE READY AND WATCHFUL! (Matt 25:13)  

In terms of the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins, I have heard people say that only 50% of those that claim to know Christ will actually be saved. And they use this parable to teach it. You have obviously seen some teaching that half of the Jews will perish during the tribulation and again use this parable to do so. But you can't do that! Well, unfortunately you can... but you shouldn't! 

Parables are similar to types in the Bible. They are very useful for illustrating doctrine and truth but you are on shaky ground when used to establish truth not taught elsewhere in God's word. Parables generally have a specific theme and point that they are given for, but people run into problems when they use their own interpretation and try to turn every aspect of a parable into Gospel truth. So no... I don't believe that Jesus, in using 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins, was trying to teach that 50% of the church, tribulation saints or the nation of Israel will be saved/lost. He is simply showing that some will be watchful and ready, having the Holy Spirit and truly saved. Whereas others, though they may even claim to be believers, will be found out when the Lord returns. They do not have the Holy Spirit and are not ready and are not allowed in to the Lord's Kingdom.

Salvation for Israel - but how many?

The other part of your question involves how part of Israel can be lost with the scriptures also stating that 'All Israel will be saved'. The fact of the matter is that the prophetic scriptures do tell us what percentage of Israel will perish in the tribulation and it is not 50%. It is actually worse than that. The following prophecy, which is widely accepted to apply to the Jews in the tribulation period, says that 2/3 or 66.66% of the Israelites 'in the land' will perish and that 1/3 will be brought through the fire. Here it is:

Zec 13:7-9 "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate," Declares the LORD of hosts. "Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones. (8) "It will come about in all the land," Declares the LORD, "That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. (9) "And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people,' And they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"

The scattering of the sheep also seems to refer to the scattering of the Jewish nation when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in a.d. 70. Just as the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24-25; Mar 13:1-37; Luk 21:1-38) telescopes prophecies of the scattering of the Jewish nation fulfilled in a.d. 70 with those to be fulfilled in the last half of the future Tribulation period, so Zechariah here combines into one focus the same two periods and scatterings of the Jewish nation. Thus Zec_13:8-9 probably will see its final and complete fulfillment in Israel’s dispersion in the Tribulation (cf. Rev 12:6, Rev 12:13-17). At that time two-thirds of the Jewish nation will be struck down and perish, but the surviving remnant will be restored, at least for the most part, to their covenant relationship with the Lord.
Bible Knowledge Commentary

So one third of the Israelites will come through the coming fire, be refined, call on God's name and become God's people. So again, how does this square up with Rom 11:26 where all Israel will be saved?    

Rom 11:25-27 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery--so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; (26) and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB." (27) "THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS."

The 'All Israel' that is saved is speaking of the believing remnant when the Lord returns at the second coming. That is the context of the quote - it is when the deliverer comes from Zion, when their sins are removed and they come into a new covenant with the Lord. The surviving Jews would have look to the One they have pierced and asked Him to come save them (Zech 12:10, Isa 64:1-6, Matt 23:37-39) 

When Paul says "all Israel shall be saved," he does not mean every individual Israelite will be saved. It is the nation he has before us in this chapter. In every age, only a remnant is saved. The quotation Paul uses is from Isa_59:20 in the Old Testament: "And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD." The message to the individual is that he will have to "turn from transgression" to the Lord. There will be a remnant that will turn to Him. All of them will be saved. He speaks of the saved remnant as the nation Israel. There is always only a remnant that is saved. There was a remnant in Elijah's day; there was a remnant in David's day; there was a remnant in Paul's day; there is a remnant in our day; and there will be a remnant during the Great Tribulation period.
J.Vernon McGee

In applying 'all Israel' to just those that believe Paul is doing what he did earlier in the book of Romans where he reduced the name 'Israel' to those who are physically descended from the 12 tribes of Jacob AND are of faith.

Rom 9:6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel

So in short - there will be a believing remnant (1/3) of the Jewish nation that will be saved at the return of Jesus Christ. They will have called out for their Messiah, Jesus, and constitute Paul's 'All Israel'. They will largely be composed of those that obey the Lord's command to flee into the place prepared for them for safety when they see the Abomination of Desolation in the mid-point of the tribulation (Matt 24:15-21, Rev 12:6), but no doubt others still in the land of Israel will still believe and make it through the tribulation as well. But it is going to be a terrible time for the Jews. Hitler killed 1/3 of the Jews in his day. The Antichrist will kill 2/3's.  But all who call on the Lord will be saved at the return of Jesus.

Hope this helps.