Matthew 25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins

KJV Verse: 

Mat 25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.​

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

At that time, the realm beyond earth is going to be like ten teenage girls. Getting their own lamps, they went out for the purpose of going to meet a celebrity.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The KJV (and all other such translations) emphasize sex roles here in a way that doesn't make appear in the original Greek. It is like the virgins were going to marry the bridegroom. This misses the point entirely. This is the beginning of the most entertaining analogies for the kingdom of heaven that Christ offers. It is also the last such comparison in Matthew. To those that offer a "doom and gloom" translation of this "end of the world" discussion, it seems terribly out of place even in the most off-base translation. However, it fits perfecting with the playful version that comes from reading the original Greek as it would have been spoken or performed.

The verb translated as "be...likened" is a verb that means "to make like" and, in the passive, as used here, "to become like."

The phrase, "the kingdom of heavens" generally, and the phrase, "the kingdom of the heavens is like" specifically is discussed in more detail in this article. The general sense is "the realm beyond earth" or "the universal realm" The word translated as "kingdom" can be the region, the reign, the castle or the authority of a ruler. Christ does not seem to use it to mean a physical region, so its translation as "reign" or "realm" seems more appropriate. This is especially true because the "reign" of a king means the execution of his will. The word translated as "heaven" means sky, the climate, and the universe. It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods. Though heaven is used in Christianity as the place of the afterlife, Christ never uses it that way.

The Greek word translated as "virgins means a "maiden" but today we would say "teenager." Here it is specifically "teenage girls."

The word translated as "took" primarily means "take." However, it means "receive" in the same sense that we use "get" to mean "receive" and has many different uses as we use "get" in English. Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." It is in the form of an adjective, modifying the girls.

The word translated as "their" is a little unusual. It has more the sense of "their own" than the regular form of the word for "their."

The word for "lamps" is actually the source of our English word "lamp."

There is no Greek word for "and" here. It is inserted because "took" was translated as an active verb and not an adjective.

The word translated as "went forth" means literally "to go or come out," but it has a secondary meaning of "making something come true." Christ uses this word in situations where people go out hoping for something to happen.

There is an untranslated word here that means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "for" a specific purpose. The last meaning is how it is used here.

The Greek word translated as "to meet" is not a verb. It is a noun with the sense of a "coming to meet" or an "encounter."

The word translated as "the bridegroom" is a male form of the adjective meaning "bridal," hence, "groom" or, if plural, "the wedding couple." However, weddings were the "parties" and "celebrations" of Christ's era. Virtually no other events, not birthdays or anniversaries, were celebrated in the same way. So this is the person who plays a central role in a celebration, or, as we would say, "a celebrity." The point is that he is the one who can get the girls into the party.

Greek Vocabulary: 

Τότε "Then" is from tote, which means "at that time" and "then."

ὁμοιωθήσεται (verb 3rd sg fut ind pass) "Be...likened" is from homoioo, which means "to make like", "to become like", "to liken," and "to compare.

βασιλεία (noun pl neut nom/acc) "The kingdom" is from basileia, which means "kingdom", "dominion", "hereditary monarchy", "kingly office," (passive) "being ruled by a king," and "reign."

τῶν οὐρανῶν (noun pl masc gen) "Of Heaven" is from the Greek ouranos, which means "heaven as in the vault of the sky", "heaven as the seat of the gods", "the sky", "the universe," and "the climate."

δέκα (numeral ) "Ten" is from the number ten.

παρθένοις, [uncommon] (noun pl fem dat) "Virgins" is from parthenos, which means a "maiden", "girl", "virgin", "unmarried woman who isn't a virgin", "unmarried man," and as an adjective, meaning "maiden," and "chaste."

αἵτινες (pron pl fem nom) "Which" is from hostis, which means "that", "anyone who", "anything which", "whosoever," "whichsoever" and "anybody whatsoever."

λαβοῦσαι (part pl aor act fem nom) "Took" is from lambano means to "take", "take hold of", "grasp", "seize", "catch", "overtake", "find out", "detect", "take as", "take [food or drugs]", "understand", "take in hand", "undertake", "take in", "hold", "get", "receive [things]", "receive hospitably", "receive in marriage", "receive as produce", "profit", "admit", "initiate", "take hold of", "lay hold on", "seize and keep hold of", "obtain possession of", "lay hands upon", "find fault with", "censure," "to apprehend with the senses", "to take hold of," and "to seize." It is also specifically used to mean "seized with emotion."

τὰς λαμπάδας (noun pl fem acc) "Lamps" is from lampas, which means "torch", "beacon light", "light," and any type of "lamp."

ἑαυτῶν (adj pl fem gen) "Their" is from heautou, is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself", "itself" "themselves," and "ourselves." It is an alternative to autos.

ἐξῆλθον (verb 3rd pl aor ind act) "And went forth" is from exerchomai, which means "to come or go out of " "to march forth", "go out on", "to stand forth", "to exceed all bounds", "to come to an end", "to go out of office," and [of dreams or prophecies] "to come true." --

εἰς Untranslated is eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

ὑπάντησιν [uncommon] (noun sg fem acc) "To meet" is from hupantesis, which means "coming to meet", "encounter", and metaphorically, "retort", and "answer."

τοῦ νυμφίου. (noun sg masc gen) "Bridegroom" is from nymphios, which means "bridal", "bridegroom" and "son-in-law."

Wordplay: 

The word translated as "went out" also means "making something come true". 

The Spoken Version: 

His followers were still laughing when he began his next story.

"At that time," he started. "The realm beyond earth is going to be like ten teenage girls."

He indicated that his followers were now to play the girls.

"Getting their own lamps," he continued, indicating that they should take up lamps "They went out to encounter..."

He paused for dramatic emphasis.

"A celebrity!" he exclaimed, hopping around like a girl hoping to meet a celebrity.

Most of his followers, except a couple of stick-in the muds, laughed and copied him.

Sep 17 2016