Matthew 25:3

ESV For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them,
NIV The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.
NASB For when the foolish took their lamps, they did not take extra oil with them;
CSB When the foolish took their lamps, they didn't take oil with them;
NLT The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps,
KJV They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

What does Matthew 25:3 mean?

Ten young women, likely bridal attendants, are waiting to meet the groom as part of a wedding celebration. The scenario may be that they have gone to the bride's home to wait. When the groom arrives, he will collect his bride and they will all walk back to his home together for a wedding feast (Matthew 25:1–2).

Weddings during this time were often multi-day events. This procession through the streets to the groom's house apparently took place after dark. These bridal attendants planned for this, but some did not plan well enough. Jesus has called them foolish. They thought to bring lamps for the procession, but they did not bring oil for the lamps.

Commentators suggest these "lamps" were likely more what modern people would identify as "torches," rather than small clay containers. The torches would have been sticks with rags wrapped around one end and held aloft to provide the most light while walking. The rags would have been soaked in oil and then soaked again as that oil dried out or was used up.

It's possible that the five foolish young women soaked their rags in oil before leaving home, but the rags dried out as they were waiting for the groom to arrive. They may have expected him to arrive sooner. Since they did not bring enough oil, they had no way to fuel their lights for the parade back to the groom's home.
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