I left off our last study pointing to the oil in the parable. Let's take a quick look back to Matthew 8 where the marriage supper in the kingdom (future) is noted by our Lord with a warning:
"I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the SONS OF THE KINGDOM will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
We note that those who are cast into the "outer darkness" are not unbelievers of all ages (as tradition teaches), but "sons [heirs] of the kingdom." These are Israelites who will be cast out of their reward. We will see this same punishment in The Parable of the Talents.
These sons are juxtaposed with a Gentile in the passage who has "faith greater than all in Israel."
So, where does the oil in our parable come in? Let us review the two healings at the start of Matthew 8:
1-4. THE LEPER. Israel. The Lord touched Him.
5-13. THE CENTURION’S SERVANT Gentile. Healing at a distance.
The Lord's ministry was to Israel alone (Matt 10:5-7; 15:24), but we also see in Matthew that Gentiles would be blessed through Israel's Messiah (Matt 12:21). So, he touches the leper (Israel) and heals the gentile without his presence being necessary (this is also true of his healing of the gentile's daughter in Matthew 15; in both cases the healing is by another's faith).
Here we must turn to Leviticus 14 where the ritual for the cleansing of lepers is given. Oil is placed on various parts of the leper's body (each with a different significance) along with blood atonement for sin. [I suggest reading the whole chapter.]
The leper in Matt 8 displays his faith and is healed:
“Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed."
Just like the Centurion, faith brings healing. But unlike the Centurion, the Israelite is commanded to "show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
The 10 virgins all had the healing by faith, but 5 did not have enough oil. They are cleansed lepers, but they did not fulfill the work of God by being faithful witnesses and giving a testimony to the nation.
I made this is a separate post because I didn't want to get bogged down in the typology here. I think the oil is simple and would be understood by Israelites who understand the law. Many fanciful things have been taught about it, but we must see it in its Jewish context.
I would add that all these parables are profitable (as is all scripture) to us in our age. There is a plain message here to be "ready, " not to fall asleep (a similar warning is given to us in Ephesians 4). But some have used these parables, wrongly divided, to put Christians under bondage to fear and/or to teach others that the way of life is by a "second blessing" (or anything other than faith). This danger is even more pronounced in the next two parables.
Remember, the leper and the Centurion's servant were healed by faith. It is in obedience to the law that the leper, a Jew, would be judged. His healing is secure, but he still had to obey Moses. This is for Jews, not for Gentiles (of any age).
In Acts 15, Jewish believers are commanded to keep the law, Gentile believers are not (just "four necessary things").