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Commentary on Mt. 22:1-14 [parable of the wedding feast]

"And Jesus answering, again spake to them in similes, saying, (2) 'The reign of the heavens was likened to a man, a king, who made marriage-feasts for his son, (3) and he sent forth his servants to call those having been called to the marriage-feasts, and they were not willing to come. (4) 'Again he sent forth other servants, saying, Say to those who have been called: Lo, my dinner I prepared, my oxen and the fatlings have been killed, and all things [are] ready, come ye to the marriage-feasts; (5) and they, having disregarded [it], went away, the one to his own field, and the other to his merchandise; (6) and the rest, having laid hold on his servants, did insult and slay [them]. (7) 'And the king having heard, was wroth, and having sent forth his soldiers, he destroyed those murderers, and their city he set on fire; (8) then saith he to his servants, The marriage-feast indeed is ready, and those called were not worthy, (9) be going, then, on to the cross-ways, and as many as ye may find, call ye to the marriage-feasts. (10) 'And those servants, having gone forth to the ways, did gather all, as many as they found, both bad and good, and the marriage-feast apartment was filled with those reclining. (11) 'And the king having come in to view those reclining, saw there a man not clothed with clothing of the marriage-feast, (12) and he saith to him, Comrade, how didst thou come in hither, not having clothing of the marriage-feast? and he was speechless. (13) 'Then said the king to the ministrants, Having bound his feet and hands, take him up and cast forth to the outer darkness, there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of the teeth; (14) for many are called, and few chosen" (YLT)

Synopsis: the parable of the wedding feast recorded in Mt. 22:1-14 describes the condition of believers who throughout the entire Gospel Age participate in the feast of the Word of God. Its participants are invited by the servants - evangelists and teachers. Everyone who receives the message of the Gospel is invited. Some of the invited (called) come to the feast by repentance and conversion to God through Jesus Christ. However, only the elect can take advantage of the food served to the guests - those who by virtue of God's election receive the spirit of sacrifice for the truth, which introduces them to the knowledge of God's matters directly through the study of the Holy Bible. At the same time, the spirit of the truth is for the elect the source of a new mind (new creation), thanks to which those invited to the feast are covered with a robe of just works. A man without a garment does not take part in the feast, and likewise believers who have not received the spirit of new birth do not feed on the Word directly through the Scripture, but through prophets and teachers.

The wedding feast, bride and guests

The wedding feast described in the parable is quite a special feast. When we read about the marriage of the Lamb, there naturally comes to mind a 'feast' which is to take place in the spiritual sphere after the resurrection of the last Bride member - this is how we could imagine it in our human categories. This picture, however, does not quite match the one we find in the parable of the wedding feast. First of all, we find information that the king is preparing a feast for his son, but in the parable there is not a word about his bride. The parable, on the other hand, speaks of the guests who turn out to be believers in Christ. We would expect, however, that believers are ultimately not to be guests, but the Bride herself (2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7,8). Therefore, the picture shown in the parable does not match the final when the Church will actually turn out to be the Bride of the Lamb.

Why, then, Mt. 22:1-14 describes a feast with guests, but without the bride? Because its fulfillment does not belong to the time after the Church has been gathered to form Christ's Bride, but to the Gospel Age in which the Bride is being gathered. This is the time when believers in Christ are actually allowed to enter the heavenly porches. The apostle Paul says plainly that we are 'seated in the heavenly places' (Eph. 2:6), but at the same time in Phil. 3:20 the same apostle uses the term politeuma. Even though politeuma is often translated as citizenship - as if we were already citizens of the Kingdom of Christ - in reality it refers to temporary stay (citizenship sensu stricto is politeia).

Wedding feast of the Gospel Age and the current position of the guests

The fact that believers are guests of the feast and not the bride herself illustrates our current position. While we are in the body and we have not finished our sacrifice, we are not yet citizens with full rights, but residents. The same thing is shown in Abraham: God promised him Canaan, but He did not give it to him (Acts 7:5). Similarly, Abraham's offspring according to faith have the right to reside in their spiritual property, traverse this property along the breadth and depth of the word of God, but it is not yet in their possession. That is why we are guests at the feast, not the bride. We have been spiritually removed from this world and transferred to the Kingdom of Christ, but we must complete our course to obtain full citizenship in it (Col. 1:13).

Today's guests of the feast comprise three groups of God's people: 1) believers who take up repentance and conversion; 2) believers who, through repentance, receive the spirit of the sacrificial agape love and are thus begotten of the spirit (but they do not undertake their consecration or do so to a limited extent); 3) believers from group 2) who undertake their consecration and thus experience birth of the spirit. The fulfillment of the feast in the Kingdom will therefore be three classes of the people of God: guests (group 1), bridesmaids (group 2) and the bride (group 3). Psalm 45:9-15 informs that the entrance to King's palace will naturally be obtained by the Bride and bridesmaids, which seems to indicate the resurrection to the spiritual nature of both classes of God's people - Bride to the divine nature and bridesmaids to a lower spiritual nature. In the Gospel Age, however, all believers have the status of guests - with the right of residence, but not yet citizenship.

The concept of the feast is associated primarily with a generous meal, and so the hope that Jesus presented to Israel was associated with 'sitting at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob' (Mt 8:11,12). It is not about physical contact with the Patriarchs, but about participating in the promises that have been made to them. At the present time, it is a participation in God's spirit and God's Word, from which we spiritualize and through which we view our spiritual Canaan, although we are only strangers with the right of residence. The Bible in many places presents teaching as food. The feast at which Jews are called, and then also the pagans, includes not only the milk foods of the Word of God, but above all the hard food of advanced doctrine (Heb. 5:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:2).

Conditions for participation in the feast - election and wedding garment

How can one get to the feast? In the parable of the royal feast, Jesus provides two conditions. The first condition concerns election - only the elect take part. The Bible does not inform anywhere about the election criteria, so there is no need to undertake this thread. What is important is the effect of election, namely the elect who believe and repent in the name of Jesus Christ receive as a gift the divine spirit that enables them to participate in the feast, that is, to learn directly from the Word of God (1 Cor. 1:23,24, 2:1-16). Of the three groups of the people of God mentioned above, only group 3) - believers endowed with the spirit of new birth, can take part in the feast, feeding on the Word of God directly. Believers in groups 1) and 2) are more or less dependent in their understanding (and often to the point of adiction) on those members of the Church who fulfill their consecration in the study of the Scriptures and passing these teachings to the house of faith (Mt. 24:45-51; Eph. 4:11-16).

The other condition of attending the wedding feast is the possession of a robe. The robe in the Bible is a symbol of righteousness (Job 29:14, Ps. 132:9,16; Is. 61:10, Zech. 3:4). In the introduction to the parable Jesus rebukes the Jews that, though being a chosen people, they neglected faith in him and repentance before God, which is why "the reign of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth its fruit" (Mt. 21:43,44 YLT). The Jews, who were naturally invited to the royal feast, did not attend it because of the lack of the fruit of repentance. In this way, the parable is a warning to Israel that the divine election does not do everything to them; that in order to get to the feast and be accepted as God-born sons, they must also do repentance - they must give up their sins and convert to God through Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38). However, we also have in the parable such a figure that has appeared, but who has neither garment nor a confirmation of God's election.

The man without a robe represents the non-elect. When the invited guests refuse to come, the king commands his servants to invite anyone they meet. And so do all the major churches of Christianity and many smaller ones: through practices such as baptism of infants, they bring to the feast literally everyone, good and bad (Mt. 22:9,10). Many, however, are only formally followers. Without having the spirit of faith and repentance of their sins, they expect to enter the feast if they only meet formal requirements of their churches and faithfully follow tradition. Such, however, do not find God's recognition, and thus are not counted among the elect. Moreover, without being chosen, they also have no hope of securing a proper garment for themselves because God does not cooperate with them in this matter (Rom. 8:28; Phil. 2:12,13).

Weeping and gnashing of teeth

We also learn at the end of the parable that the man without a garment is thrown out "to the outer darkness, there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of the teeth" (Mt. 24:13 YLT). It is worth noting that the hands and legs of the guest are bound by the same servants of the king who invited him to the feast. And so those who invite very often teach mistakes that prevent converts from using legs in reaching the truth and using their hands to practice it. Casting into the darkness refers to the fact that the followers of churches are in fact in spiritual darkness, without knowledge of the truth. This state of darkness causes weeping and gnashing of teeth in two senses. On the one hand, it is a state of individual doubts in which many believers are today. Their faith is almost everyday under the fire of atheist ideologies, but they do not have the knowledge to resist them. The need for faith combined with a lack of understanding is for them a source of lukewarm faith and endless dilemmas.

Of course, there are people whose faith, although largely based on error, is immune to any outside attacks, but at the same time it becomes immune to any teaching that could shake the smallest element of the error on which it is based. Such people fill the space of faith today, but it is not a state that would be welcomed by God. Such people will have to face the fall of institutional Christianity, just like Jews had to face the fall of their statehood in 70 AD. The oppression of Christianity, in the spiritual sense will be a traumatic event for its members. Those who are not present at the feast will also have no knowledge of the Scripture to understand why the system considered to be expressive of God's will collapses. It will be an event in the full meaning of 'weeping and gnashing of teeth' for the non-elect.


Keywords: Mt. 22:1-14, parable of the wedding feast, election
 
Bible translations used in the commentary:
YLY - Young's Literal Translation


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