1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said:
2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son,
3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.
4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’
5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.
6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.
7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.
9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’
10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.
12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.
13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
There (v.4) we find the record of the second call to Israel. The preaching of the kingdom is resumed for a brief period and with this preaching is the promise of forgiveness of sins and the times of refreshing and restitution. The invitation, which went forth after the Lord had taken His place at the right hand of the Majesty on high, is clearly stated by Peter in the third chapter of Acts. “Repent, therefore, and be converted, for the blotting out of your sins, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and He may send Jesus Christ, who was foreordained for you, whom heaven indeed must receive till the times of restoration of all things, of which God has spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since time began” (Acts 3:19-21). No Gentile heard this message, nor was it meant for a Gentile; it was exclusively addressed to Jerusalem. — Gaebelein, page 441.
burned up their city (v.7) — a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70.
wedding garment (v.12) — In the east, garments were provided by the host. To refuse to wear it is an insult. This guest considered his own garment good enough. (Zephaniah 1:7-8; Isaiah 61:10).
The word not in verse eleven is a different word from the not [without] in verse twelve, and it is impossible to translate the different meaning by any equivalent in our language. In the Greek language the first not was always used when referring to a matter of fact, while the second was always used in reference to a matter of thought. This is certainly the intention of the passage — there came in a man not having a wedding garment; that is the fact. But when the king looked at him and said “How camest thou in hither not having,” that is, deliberately not having, with determination not having, it is the not of thought — you did not mean to have a wedding garment, you have dared to come without a wedding garment. — Morgan, page 265.
Here’s my understanding of this passage.
The first invitation to the wedding was made to Israel in the Old Testament and during the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. God sent the prophets who were ignored and mistreated and killed.
The second invitation to the wedding is that made by the apostles after the resurrection, at Pentecost and for a short time after. (See Gaebelein’s quote above.) When this was refused — the messengers during this time were also mistreated and killed (Stephen) — the Jews were attacked by the Romans and many died. Jerusalem was destroyed.
The third invitation was not to the church and doesn’t relate to this age. This is obvious because the Lord begins this parable with “The kingdom of heaven is like …”
The kingdom of heaven is the Millennial Kingdom. The bad and good, I’m guessing, are the Gentiles and the Jews. All will be blessed during the kingdom when Christ is on the throne ruling with an iron hand.
The guest without the garment is the individual who is in the kingdom but who hasn’t trusted Christ, whether Jew or Gentile.
That these people will exist is evident from Revelation 20:7-10.
Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Note the similarity in consequences for these unbelievers in the kingdom and the wedding guest in the parable in Matthew 22.
chosen (v.14) — Vine (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words) defines chosen as “pick out, select, to choose for oneself, not necessarily implying the rejection of what is not chosen, but choosing with the subsidiary ideas of kindness or favor or love”
So … the verse could mean, “Many are invited, but few fit in the category of those whom I favor or love.”
The idea, in context, being that anyone is invited to come to the wedding, but I have chosen to favor only those who do come and who put on the wedding garments. Those who don’t come or who come and don’t put on the garments will not be among the chosen group of those whom I favor. This view is supported by the parable itself. Many were invited who chose not to come. One came but refused, by an act of his own will, to wear the wedding garments. All of them were welcome to join the chosen group, but they chose not to.