#31 from the end of our Points to consider . . .                 

 

Paul writes, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself." So few are chosen and all are called. At the cross they both conspire to clothe the whole world in their righteousness. And their plot was, and is, successful. For we do not choose to be righteous - or dressed for the party. We are made righteous by the Chosen Few - our Father and His Son

It should be noted that Paul's revelation is progressive. His message reveals a development in what our Lord was bringing to light. This is why his later writings are the most pertinent in our understanding of the good news of God's love and mercy for all. 

Answering The “Hell” Verses

 

Response to Hell Verse #13 - Matthew 22:14


For many are invited, but few are chosen.

NIV

For many are called, but few are chosen.

NLT


For many are called, but few are chosen.

KJV

For many are the called, yet few are the chosen.

CLV

 

 

 

In our culture, an evaluation of what this passage is not saying is just as profound as what it is saying. It is assumed by most that these words are a warning of dreadful and everlasting consequence for some or most people. Although, a simple exploration into the context easily dispels this common notion.  

 

For centuries it has been one of the foundation stones for various groups to declare their position as elect or chosen. There are several significant questions that must be answered before these words by our Savior are used to support these conventional views.

 

If we are to be honest, we should come to grips with each of these questions. These should give consternation to anyone using this passage to promote the notion that God is unable or unwilling to redeem His creation and that His mercy is limited to a few. 

 

Helpful questions to consider first:  

 

  • Who is Jesus addressing?

  • What is the setting?

  • What message was Jesus presenting to the Pharisees immediately leading up to this story? (See chapter 21:23 through 22:13)  

  • Do we understand the culture of the wedding feast at that time?

  • How does the invitation process work?

  • What is the proper dress code for a wedding feast?                              [There are several facets of symbolism here: The king, the original wedding guests, the messengers, the murderers, the second group of wedding guests - the good and the bad,  and most importantly, the “friend” who is cast out.]

  • Who does the king symbolize?

  • Why does the king refer to the one as “friend” and what is the Greek equivalent for friend?  And who does this friend represent?

  • Who is represented by the group of invited guests who refused to show up? 

  • Who wouldn't want to go to the king's banquet, especially if they'd been invited for a long time?  And why?

  • With regards to the one taken out, what is the significance of his silence, the binding of his feet and hands, and his lack of certain clothing?

  • What is the meaning of his being cast into outer darkness? 

  • What is “outer darkness”?

  • Where did the “good and bad” obtain their wedding clothes? (Especially with consideration that they were simply brought in from the streets.)

  • Why did this father and son want everyone to come to the banquet?

  • If the punishment for breaking the dress code was to be cast into hell or some frightening idea of outer darkness, wouldn’t that fear diminish or destroy the joy of the feast? Wouldn’t fear wreck the party? And what kind of host would do this to his guest?

  • When the king destroyed the cities of the first group who refused to attend the wedding feast, would it be reasonable to believe these homeless folks or refugees are the same “good and bad” who make up the attendees?

 

 

In our research for the interpretations of this passage, 

we have read in many places that the

traditionalists commentaries regularly hold to a

view similar to the following:

 

“Many are called, but few are chosen. 

This is the message of the gospel which goes to all people. 

But only the elect experience the internal 

call or accept the message.” 

 

These commentaries and this view does not address the issues and questions that precede Matthew 22:14. Overlooking these words that bring vs.14 into proper context is sloppy and simply a careless examination.   

 

Also, the other biblical passages commonly cited to support their interpretation do not hold up in support of the idea that the “chosen” or “elect" are a limited group of people. At the same time, most evangelical groups would estimate the elect or chosen to be a small group with percentages ranging from 1% to 20% depending on your source. Assuming that the “chosen” here represents “the saved” - anything less than 100% leaves us with Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep in a complete quandary. This also makes His declaration that He will draw all to Himself and Paul’s declaration in 1 Timothy 4:10 that all are saved, especially those who believe, somewhat mute.  

 

Points to consider . . .

 

  1. This passage is at the conclusion of the parable of the wedding feast - perhaps one of the most misunderstood and overlooked parables by Jesus. This message was given four days before the crucifixion.   

  2. Why does the king refer to the chosen guest as “friend”?  Strong’s tells us that this word friend means associate, companion or comrade - someone with whom you are working a plan. 

  3. In that day, when a wealthy man would serve a banquet, he would issue an initial invitation. Then, when the food was ready, bread was baked and the cattle slaughtered, he'd send messengers saying, all is ready, come to the feast! - The Jews had been invited for 1500 years, and now the Bridegroom and Son of the King had arrived, the religious elite didn't seem to care, or they got downright angry. In the story, one group was preoccupied with their farms or business matters; they were preoccupied with themselves. 

  4. The invited guests were so busy that they even murdered the messengers. This seems to be figurative of the fact that the Jews often killed their prophets. In the story, the King did destroy those murderers and burn their city. In forty years, the the temple will be burned to the ground and most all the Jews in and around Jerusalem will be slaughtered and most of their bodies thrown into Gehenna outsider Jerusalem. 

  5. The second group of guests were the “good and the bad” from the streets. How would they have been dressed properly for a wedding feast? 

  6. Perhaps the good and the bad can be viewed as all, or everyone. 

  7. Assuming the second set of guests were welcomed and properly dressed, it is reasonable for us to think they were made acceptable by something the king provided. Knowing that we are made righteous and acceptable by Christ’s faithfulness we can see that this parable may be declaring that our orientation as guests of the King is by His desire and provision.

  8. It seems most likely that it is Jesus who is the “friend” of the King - the one who is silent and the one who enters outer darkness. (We know He did enter outer darkness four days later. See point #23) 

  9. Perhaps we should take notice that the guest was “chosen” to be removed and his character was similar to the description we have of the humble and rejected savior. He was called “friend” or “associate” and he was silent as his hands and feet were bound.

  10. It’s interesting to note that the term “few are chosen” might not seem to indicate one, however, in Genesis we are told by God, “Let US make man in OUR image.” Plurality is reflected.

  11. When Abraham climbed to Mount Zion, Isaac would have been a young man, and so it appears that Isaac agreed with his father. That is father and son both chose, and were chosen to suffer. Abraham suffered at least as much as Isaac. Isaac was the promised seed. But in faith that God himself was good, Abraham and Isaac both chose and were chosen to suffer. 

  12. What does the term “chosen” mean? Chosen can mean many things.  Could it be that our assumptions of what chosen signifies is entirely wrong? Chosen could be for many things other than “one of the few to be saved.” It could be: A task, a position, a special service. 

  13. It is presumptuous to state that “few are chosen” should be interpreted as those who are justified or saved. We are justified by Christ’s faithfulness, not our own faith or faithfulness. If we conclude that the few who are chosen are only those who are redeemed for salvation, then we’d have to imagine that God needs our help or permission before we are justified.                             [Each of these passages, Galatians 2:16, 2:20, 3:22 Romans 3:22, Philippians 3:9, tell us that we are justified by “Christ’s faithfulness” or by the “faith of Jesus Christ” - See: KJV, Young’s Literal, Concordant Literal, ISV, AKJV, some ISV’s, Douay-Rheims, Aramaic, Jubilee, KJV2000, Darby, Websters and several others. Some popular English Bibles translate: “faith in Jesus Christ” or “our faith.” However, this is likely the translators preconceived disposition plugged into the text. This is especially obvious after an investigation into the Greek texts and literal translations, and perhaps the primary reason most think that salvation is up to themselves, or their decision. Better known as "decisional regeneration."]     

  14. In light of Jesus’ audience, what group of people can we safely assume the first invited guests represent? Could it be that they are a picture of the Jews who are rejecting the groom, Jesus Christ? 

  15. Who would the new guests depict? Could it be us? Everyone? The good and the bad? The Jews and the gentiles? All? [Romans 11:32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that He may have mercy on all.]

  16. Consideration should be given to the broader context of scripture, particularly in light of the fact that Paul is our most recent spokesman of God’s direct revelation in the bible. Does the broad scope of scripture indicate that God’s love and mercy is for a few? Paul’s overall message should also help us interpret the meaning of this parable and the meaning.  

  17. If invited to a wedding hosted by the king in Jesus’ day, one of the customs was to wear a special wedding robe provided by the king. It’s assumed that this was to prevent guests from showing off their own wealth as well as a way of honoring the king’s power and prestige by wearing what he provided.

  18. The Clothes make the Man–Adam–Mankind, for at the cross, God in Christ clothes us with Himself. That’s why Paul tells us to “put off the old man” and “put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27) and “put on the new man” (Ephesians 4:24) and “put on Love” (Col. 3:14). 

  19. Peter Hiett notes in his excellent sermon on this passage: It appears that the thing that makes you "worthy" of this wedding banquet has nothing to do with whether or not you're "good" or "bad". It has everything to do with whether or not you're hungry for what is being served: Blessed are those who hunger for roast lamb, broken bread, and red wine–the fruit of the vineyard–the life, love, and joy of the Father and Son–the grace of God. It's what's for dinner!  - - Sermon link: http://www.relentless-love.org/sermons/the-clothes-make-the-man-christians-who-put-on-christ

  20. Perhaps the one cast out represents Jesus. In the story, all are called and one is chosen. The one man chosen by the King is to be cast into outer darkness. The one that the King calls friend. The one that opens not his mouth to quote Isaiah 53: “Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter and a sheep before its shearers is silent so he opened not his mouth.” Verse 6: “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (That's the unrighteousness of us all). Verse 11: “Through him the Lord makes many the accounted righteous.” Maybe it's that One!

  21. Just four days before His crucifixion, standing on the Temple Mount, where Abraham had prepared to sacrifice his son, Jesus adds this about the chosen one: “All are called,” but who is the chosen one? Well, the whole Old Testament is basically the story of God whittling down the people of Israel in search of the Chosen One–the Promised Seed. 

  22. Maybe He didn't get into the banquet hall because He had always been in the banquet hall. Maybe He had no wedding garment because He had given His garments to those who had none. Maybe the one that is chosen is the Son of the King. Maybe the many that are called are His Bride – us.

  23. All four Gospels make a big deal of this: the soldiers that crucify Him, the Centurion plus four according to John, divide His garments between them casting lots for His tunic. Then and there, at the diexodos of the hodon, at the gate of the city, as the Son of the King–the chosen one–hung on the tree, the sky grew black from noon to three. It was outer darkness.  At 3 p.m. Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 

  24. Therefore God says, ‘When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’ But this, ‘He ascended’ —didn't he also first descend into the lower parts of the earth?  He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:8-10 quoting Psalm 68:18).

  25. The many and few is a pattern in Matthew. Many find the wide gate that leads to destruction, and few find the narrow gate that leads to life. [See Hell Verse #8] According to Paul, all find the wide gate. No one is righteous. No one seeks for God; all have turned aside. All find the wide gate. Only One is righteous - the King's Son. They march Him to the edge of the city on Mount Zion where they bind His hands and feet just like the man in Jesus' story is bound hands and feet. Just like Isaac is bound to wood by Abraham in Genesis 22:9 on Mount Moriah, now called Mount Zion. They bind him–hands and feet–with leather and nails to a tree in a garden, outside the city, on the slopes of Mount Zion; they crucify Him.

  26. Immediately prior to this parable Jesus tells the Jews they are going to be preceded into the Kingdom of God by the sinners, harlots, and tax collectors in Matthew 21:31. This is the first of four parables that make the Jewish elite mad. [NOTE: No one is left out. Jesus does not exclude either group. Neither the sinners or the Jews are “cast into hell” or “outer darkness.” One simply precedes the other.] This should give those who hold to the traditional view of this passage alarm and amazement - and good reason to abandon their stubborn position that God’s mercy is limited to a few. 

  27. Conceivably the “many” who are called are those in Jesus ancestry throughout the centuries, but it is Jesus who represents the “few.” The ONE who is chosen. 

  28. Like Paul wrote, “God made him to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God.” It's like we are dressed in Him and Him dressed in us. When we imagine in our minds the “good and the bad” as the second set of guests in the wedding banquet story - it’s like Jesus enters our faithlessness with His faithFULLness - dressing us with His righteousness while He exits into outer darkness.

  29. All are called and One is chosen to redeem all, and make us all, in the image of God. From the foundation of the world God said, “Let us make Adam in our own image.” “Let us.”  That's at least two, yet One. Many can mean all, but can few mean one?

  30. In Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve hid themselves in the trees and made clothes out of the leaves? They hid their shame from each other. God finds them and covers them. He covers them with the skin of an animal. That animal was a sacrifice, a sacrifice provided by God. Clearly an image and testimony of the ONE who was to come. The ONE who would dress us in His righteousness. 

  31. Paul writes, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself." So few are chosen and all are called. At the cross they both conspire to clothe the whole world in their righteousness. And their plot was, and is, successful. For we do not choose to be righteous - or dressed for the party. We are made righteous by the Chosen Few - our Father and His Son. 

  32. It’s the first line of Psalm 22. Every Jew would know Jesus was singing or quoting Psalm 22. This is verse 18: “They divide my garments between them and for my clothing they cast lots.” Verse 24: “The Lord has not hidden his face from him but has heard when he cried.” I don't think God forsook Jesus, but I know that Jesus felt forsaken, for Jesus was dressed in our unrighteousness.

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