Matthew 22:1-14 King James Version (KJV)
1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then saith he to his servants, the wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
The parallel text can be found in:
Luke 14 King James Version (KJV)
15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. 16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
Comparing both parables, we can immediately notice that Luke 14:15-24 does not mention the killing of those who rejected the invitation and the burning of their city.
Out of the 40+ parables in the four Gospels, the Parable Jesus presents here in the two accounts are parallels of each other. A Parable was a special teaching technique. They have been called “earthly stories with heavenly meanings.” The word “Parable” comes from the root Greek verb “ballo, meaning to throw or place, basically alongside or near. Therefore, a parable is literally a parallel situation, a story deliberately close to the main point but not always identical with the reality. This means that sometimes there can exist some discrepancies between the actual reality and the parable itself when it come to chronology, geographical locations, or other exact details. Yet, the Parable is close enough in its detail to be able to identify its reference to a parallel earthly reality. This teaching technique was something Jesus used as means to obscure the truth for many of His hearers.
Luke 8:10 King James Version (KJV)
10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
Paradoxically Jesus, also used Parables as a subtle invitation to provoke His hearers to think about their true meaning. At times, His listeners did understand and perceived He was talking about them and His Parables were anything but subtle. Some of His parables were a message of condemnation, specifically aimed at the religious leaders who were listening to Him. At other times they were messages of invitation and even encouragement with hidden revelation about the nature of the soon to arrive Kingdom of God, eternal redemption, and salvation (deliverance) from the coming wrath. Jesus also confirmed that His close disciples would be given the ability to grasp the true meaning of His parabolic messages. After the disciples who later became the Apostles, received the Holy Spirit much of the deeper meaning of His parables was revealed to them.
There has been on going debate between theologians as to whether parables were used to obscure the spiritual truth from those who heard Jesus’ teach or to reveal and provoke them to think and comprehend spiritual truth. There is no need to oscillate between these two opinions. It was both. The point was really that those who had a heart to understand would and therefore continue to increase their spiritual acuity to understand more truth. Those who were inclined to reject Christ might have even understood that some of His condemnatory parables were referring to them, but the hardness of their heart would cause them to ultimately be blind to the truth. Being cast into outer darkness is not a reference to being cast into hell. It is an ancient Hebrew Idiom for being blind to the truth and being unaware or perceived as being cast away from God’s presence. Being in outer darknes is understood as, being rejected outside of a Covenant with God.
A sincere question was presented to me recently. This question was based on the observation that the Parable of Matthew 22:10 states that “the servants went out and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests”. Yet, this happened after verse 7 “when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city”. The conclusion being that the burned city would be Jerusalem at its destruction in 70 AD. The servants being those who would preach the Gospel reaching the nations of the world. This seems to suggest a chronology with the Gospel being preached after the burning of the city. Consequently, this poses another issue then because verse 12 through 14 states that the King came to see his guests and finds someone who was not wearing a wedding garment. The following statement of the parable in verse 13 being: ”Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.
If we take verse 13 as the coming of the Lord in Judgment then that would also suggest that the event of the Parousia would take place after 70 AD well after the servant have gone and preached the Gospel to all in the highways, to the many numerous gentile nations of our world for the last two thousand years. This conclusion could potentially support a futurist eschatology with a projected Parousia and day of judgment still in our future.
I understand the logic completely, but we have a hermeneutical and linguistic challenge here. If we approach Matthew 22:1-14 and read it based on modern western linguistic exegesis, we could quickly draw wrong conclusions about what the original intent was of the author or speaker when reading ancient scripture.
First thing to realize is that Mathew was a Hebrew. It is likely that the book of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew and later translated in Greek. Matthew ‘s writing style however was Hebrew, with Matthew’s Gospel being originally addressed to Jewish people who had come to the faith in Jesus as their Messiah. The Jews in those days also believed that the name of God, YHWH should not be pronounced. That is why they used the word “Hashem”, which means “The Name” instead of Yahweh. This is the reason why when Matthew refers to the Kingdom of God, He calls it the Kingdom of Heaven, to avoid using the name of God. His book was very much Hebrew in writing style. Hebrew writing style is in many ways different from our western style of writing.
A Western writer records his story or account in a chronological fashion where time is always viewed as a series of consecutive events that occur one after the other. This style of writing is called „step logic“ as events are recorded step by step.
The following paragraph is written as an example of step logic.
I woke up and got out of bed. Then after I had my coffee and read my Bible, I got into my car and drove to work. When I arrived at the office, I spend many hours that day catching up with work and doing a lot of administrative processing. At the end of my day in the office, I travelled home, got changed and went straight to the Gym. A friend of mine also joined me there and we had a great work out session. Afterwards when I got home my wife had cooked us a nice meal and I made sure I got to bed early so I could be fresh for the next day at work.
The story traces the events of the day from morning to evening in a chronological order. We have no difficulty reading or comprehending this style of logic as we use it every day.
Now let us read the same content written in block logic.
I woke up and got out of bed. I had my coffee. I read my Bible. I got into my car and drove to work. I spend many hours that day catching up with work and doing a lot of administrative processing. I travelled home. I got changed and went straight to the Gym. A friend of mine joined and we had a great work out session. I got home and my wife cooked us a nice meal. I made sure I got to bed early. I was fresh and ready for another day at work.
The first thing we notice in this second example is that the chronology of each event is not revealed. Whilst reading it our mind subconsciously links the perceived chronology. This second writing is not trying to place the events in a „step by step“ chronology, instead grouping all like events in a series of related „blocks“. The first block of events are those that occurred at home. The second block describe the actions at work, followed by the time at the gym. There are more blocks, such as the time driving to work and the one coming home and having a nice meal before going to bed early.
Applying these concepts in the way that we read our Bible, may shed some light on how texts from scripture in our Bible can sometimes reveal a whole new level of truth. The book of Revelation is a great example of “Block logic”. If you read the book with a “step logic” approach, then we will project our sense of chronology into the chapters and will get very confused with regards to the unfolding of events. A “Block logic” approach allows you to see that much of what is described in Revelation is all happening at the same time, sometimes with an overlapping chronology. It could also be a re-visiting of the same event but viewing it from a different perspective. Imagine a block. Revelation allows us to see the same event from the different sides of the same block.
Looking at the block logic of this parable, many of the events described are not necessarily occurring in a chronological order as we read it in our translation. Some of the events are happening simultaneously or in overlapping sequence.
With regards to Matthew 22 verse 7 it is important to note that the Greek wording makes it clear that the King gave the order or issued the command to his armies that the murderers should be killed and the city should be burned. This does not mean the King’s command was executed right there and then. This falls in line with Daniels prophecy regarding when the destruction of Jerusalem would be determined.
Daniel 9 King James Version (KJV)
26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
Daniel didn’t prophecy when the desolation of the city and the sanctuary would happen. He prophesied approximately 600 BC when that desolation would be determined, announced, and ordered by the King.
Matthew 23:38 King James Version (KJV)
38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
Jesus then fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy and announced and commanded its destruction. It was determined from that day on. Approximately 35 years later God used the Roman armies of Vespasian and Titus to execute the King’s command.
As per Matthew 22:7, the command was issued, the order of the King had gone forth, and was to be executed imminently, but not necessarily at the instance the King gave the command.
Ancient Hebrew Wedding
We know from scripture that the marriage union is a covenant and a symbolic representation of the Christ and His bride, with the bride referring to the Church. The Apostle Paul calls this a mystery. When you look at the process, which leads up to the ancient Hebrew wedding, we get a better understanding of what this Parable in Matthew 22:1-14 communicates. According to ancient Hebrew tradition as a rule, the fathers of the two involved families arranged the match. The father of the groom had to pay a dowry to the father of the daughter to be married. The dowry was called “mohar”. In ancient days, marriage was not an agreement between two individuals, but between two families. Marriage consisted of two ceremonies that were marked by celebrations at two separate times, with an interval between. First came the betrothal [erusin]; and later, the wedding [nissuin]. At the betrothal, the woman was legally married, although she remained in her father’s house. She could not belong to another man unless she was divorced from her betrothed. The wedding meant only that the betrothed woman, accompanied by a colourful procession, was brought from her father’s house to the house of her groom, and the legal tie with him was consummated.
In those days, the betrothal was the more important part of these two events and maintained its importance because marriage was actually based upon a purchase. It was an arranged marriage.
Just a side thought here is that the New Covenant is not set up between God and us, but it is an internal agreement in covenant and vow between God the Father and the God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Church being the bride of Christ and therefore married into union with Christ is the result of this arranged marriage covenant union within the Holy Trinity. Through His death Christ cut the New Covenant and paid the dowry with His life, and so we were redeemed unto Him.
A young lady who had gone through a divorce, once asked me if God would ever accept her again, because her mother who was deeply religious made a big issue of Malachi 2:16 where it says that: “God hates divorce, or the putting away”. The mother had convinced her daughter that she could not partake of communion because she was divorced. The Church the mother and daughter attended would not allow it. (This is the stuff I can get angry about). I told the daughter, if, and that is a big if, if divorce is sin then it is something that can be forgiven like any other sin. More importantly, God loves you. That is why He hates divorce.
God hates divorce, because of the potential for a lot of pain and troublesome time involved for the couple, any children involved, and immediate families. He does not want you and your loved ones to hurt. Sometimes, there is no other way and divorce is the only option to allow life situations to heal.
What better than communion and fellowship with God so that people can begin to experience healing and forgiveness.
Under the Sinaitic Covenant, in the Law of Moses, the Book of Deuteronomy 24:3 specifically states that if a man dislikes his wife, “he writes her a bill of divorcement and gives it in her hand”. Jesus made it clear that divorce was only acceptable in the case of sexual immorality if adultery was comitted by either party. (Matthew 19:9) Remember even Jesus taught the Law. These are not conditions imposed upon us who are in the New Covenant.
God was in a covenant relationship with Israel. The Law of Moses with the 613 rules was basically the marriage contract between God and the people of Israel. The people of Israel consistently went after strange god’s, which is idolatry. By their idolatrous behavior they committed spiritual adultery. The book of Revelation shows that at the time of the end of the Sinaitic Covenant, God hands the people of Israel a bill of divorcement, and then abolishes the Old Sinaitic Marriage Contract.
Jeremiah 3:8 King James Version (KJV)
8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
By the time we get to the book of Revelation 17:1-18 we see the apostate people of Israel with its religious leadership were called the Whore of Babylon. She was committing adultery with the seven headed beast, which represent the Roman empire with its consecutive emperors during that period.
Consider the backdrop of the themes of judgments during the Sinaitic Covenant Age period, with Israel and Judah described as a harlot and a bride. The Northern Kingdom was first invaded by the Assyrians, approximately 700 BC, and the southern Kingdom was invaded by the Babylonians approximately 600 BC, which left the first Temple build by King Salomon raided and destroyed. These invasions were Judgments of God upon His people because of their idolatrous behavior, breaking the Sinaitic Covenant, and so committing spiritual adultery. It was God’s judgment upon the two Kingdoms, and God did use both the Assyrian and Babylonian armies to bring destruction upon the land, its people, and ultimate the city of Jerusalem. The people had been warned by many prophets that this was going to happen, yet they repented not of their idolatry. So, we see a pattern here.
Prophets who proclaim God’s warnings, the people remaining rebellious, breaking the covenant union by committing spiritual adultery, and judgment in the form of armies send to bring destruction.
Remarkably similar to the Parable in Matthew 22:1-14.
The scroll in the book of Revelation 10 leading to a “marriage feast” and to taking on a new “bride” as the “new Jerusalem”, the nature of this type of language is Covenantal. In fact, the book of Revelation is a drastic account of the change of Covenants. The transaction suggests that the seven sealed scroll is God’s divorce decree against His Old Testament wife for her spiritual adultery. In the Old Testament God “marries” Israel (Ezek. 16:8); and in several places He threatens her with a “bill of divorce” (Isa. 50:1; Jer. 3:8). The period of 67-70 AD is the final sealing of the divorce with Israel, the Northern Kingdom and then finally also Judah, the Southern Kingdom, in the final destruction of the second Temple and its city.
The bride in Revelation 21:2 is the Church. Apart from the concept that Christ redeemed all of humanity, which is a spiritual reality, the emphasis of the church as the bride in Revelation however is on the believers on earth during the pre-Parousia era. The emphasis is on the thousands of Jews who became believers and made up the beginning of the first generation of Christians, later also joined by the Gentile believers. From a purely physical perspective these Christians suffered persecution, and many died during the seven years of the great tribulation between 64 – 70 AD. This seven-year period is covered in the book of Revelation from chapter 6 onward. The first three and a half years of those seven years was a period of persecution that broke out throughout the Roman empire initiated by Emperor Nero. He blamed the Christians for the great fire of Rome where two thirds of the city were destroyed. It is probable that the Christians part of the seven churches in Asia minor mentioned in the book of Revelation were killed or scattered at the end of the first half of the seven years during that Neronic persecution. Many of the thousands of Christians who were martyred during the persecutions but had entered heaven at the resurrection of the dead during the Parousia (Parousia means: The coming or presence of Christ).
As stated, the book of Revelation is really a pictorial depiction of the change of the covenants from Old to New. Of course, the symbolisms are dramatic in nature. It is impossible to interpret this book purely literal. Just to give you an example.
Revelation 14:14 King James Version (KJV)
14 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.
I don’t think anyone would argue that the Lamb standing on mount Sion is a picture of Jesus. It is symbolical language. No one would expect Jesus to look exactly like an animal or literally like a lamb. This argument is powerful enough to make the point for the plethora of occasions throughout the book of Revelation that the language of the text is pictorial and symbolical, referring to real persons, places, and events in the first century. Such is the case for the wedding of Christ and the bride. Again, the bride is a symbolical picture of the mystery union of the redeemed and Christ.
It is true that the redeemed are all of us of all time and every generation. It is also true that efforts of spreading the Christian faith have been ongoing throughout the last 2000 years. It is true that the influence of the light of the Gospel truth in our world is on the increase, with religious movements and organisations not being able to prevail against or withstand the increase of the Kingdom of God.
However, with all respect for the true Evangelistic efforts throughout history, the servants mentioned in Matthew 22:1-14 are not referring to Evangelists, and Christian Missionaries of the last 2000 years, post 70 AD. It is a reference to the Old Testament prophets who spoke God’s inspired word to the people of Israel, and Judah to prepare them for the coming Messianic Age. And it is also a reference to Christian believers who preached the Gospel after that Jesus‘ had declared that the desolation was to come within that generation. Those first generation of Christians fulfilled the great commission up unto the beginning of the persecutions starting in 64 AD.
The ancient Jews were very familiar that there were predominantly two ages. The one they were living in and the (Messianic) Age that was coming and was the focus of all prophecy. It would be a New Age, that would put an end to the old Age. The Prophets announced the coming of their Messiah, which would mean the ending of the Covenant union they had with Yahweh as they knew it. The Messiah would initiate a New Union, a New Marriage Union. A New Covenant.
We urgently need to see the statements of Jesus, as He implored the Jews and told them to repent and believe on Him as their Messiah as the means Christ offers them to escape the judgment that was to come upon them. John 3:16 is not strictly an evangelistic message for the generations of today. It was a message to the Jews then. The Jews then were invited, to enter the wedding feast of a New Covenant. Although many of the Jews believed, many more rejected the invite, persecuted Christians, and so partook in the rejection of Christ, and therefore perished in the great desolation of Jerusalem. The historian Josephus records 3 million Jews defeated by the Roman armies, of which 1.3 million were slaughtered and killed and the rest taken captive as slaves. Many of the Jews who had become Christians were martyred but did not suffer the Judgment and wrath of the lamb. The believers who were still alive at His coming were transformed, received their immortal bodies and were rapture’d. The dead were raised out of Sheol, they also received their immortal bodies, and with the ones rapture’d met the Lord in the air and so went to heaven.
1 Thessalonians 4 King James Version (KJV)
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Many Preterist’s do not support a first century rapture view and will say that the Greek word “caught up” means a catching up as in catching up with someone in a sprint who is running faster than you. The idea being that the change from Old to New Covenant was a spiritual change only, and those who believed caught up and therefore entered the New Covenant. It is beyond me how studious diligent Preterist’s would do such an injustice to a large bulk of scripture and argue against an incredibly powerful supernatural manifestation of God’s power. God split the red sea, amongst many other huge displays of power. What is a rapture to Him? Not withstanding the fact that after 70 AD there is an absolute silence, and nothing heard from Christian believers for at least another 100 years. Where had they all gone? Yes, heaven. That was the thing the first century Christian believers were passionately looking forwards to, the redemption of their bodies. Romans 8:23.
During the second half of the seven-year tribulation the siege against Jerusalem began. This is also the time of the beginning of the Coming of the Lord, the great Parousia. Whilst the dead are raised and the believers are rapture’d, those who had rejected their Christ would suffer a terrible death. They would not be able to partake of the great escape to heaven. They did not put on Christ. They were not wearing the white robes of righteousness. They disrespected the Kings invite and were not wearing the wedding gowns. They would be the ones left behind as wrath fell upon them. Their being cast out into outer darkness meant that they had not entered the wedding of the New Covenant.
It was physical judgment that came on them. According to Deuteronomy 28: 15-68 they had to pass through the judgment of the Old Sinaitic Covenant to die to that Old Covenant.
Were they nevertheless spiritually redeemed for eternity? Yes, but they died a terrible physical death.
1 Peter 4:5-6 King James Version (KJV)
5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6 For this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.