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Hello and welcome to another post on Renaissance Woman.

I do intend to move on to looking at the Hebrew letter Mem but, before I do that, I have come across another side path I have found it necessary to take.  I hope to be back to my main study track next week but we’ll have to see how it goes.

In last week’s post, I wrote; “The call to all mankind now is ‘Come!’” and included the scripture references Matthew 11:27-29, John 7:37-38, and Revelation 22:17.  To these three I ought to perhaps have added John 12:32 which says, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” which is a spectacular scripture I would love to hear more teaching on as I have only come across one.  There are other passages of scripture I could include but I think these four make clear that the call to return to the heart of God does go out to all mankind.  Perhaps though, as you read last week’s post, a passage popped into your head and you wondered, if it is true the call to Come! is to all mankind, then what does this passage mean?  It certainly popped into my head but I did not have the space to address it in last week’s post.  I am doing so this week and thus my brief foray down this side path.

The passage that popped into my mind was Matthew 22:14: “For many are called but few are chosen”. It is Jesus’ closing statement to the parable of the Marriage of the King’s Son.  You can read the parable in Matthew Chapter 22 verses 1-14 but, briefly, it is this: A king has arranged a marriage for his son and he sends his servants out to call those who were invited to the wedding.  The invited ones were not willing to come so his servants went to them a second time telling them all was ready.  Again, those invited refused to come.  Some busied themselves with tasks and others abused and killed the servants.  The king is angry and, after dealing quite harshly with those invited, tells his servants to go out and gather all they could find and bring them to the wedding.  The servants do so and verse 10 says “both bad and good” were brought to the wedding hall.  The king comes out to see the guests and finds one man who did not have on a wedding garment.  The king asks how the man managed to get in without a wedding garment and the man has nothing to say.  The king tells his servants to “bind him hand and foot, take him away, and throw him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (verse 13).  Then, Jesus ends the parable by saying “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

I read through the parable and found the act of choosing was all on the side of both those invited and those gathered by the servants.  The parable is not describing auditioning for the kingdom of heaven as in the call goes out and so we come with our very best ideas of what we think the caller wants and then he decides if we get the part or not based on how close we came to the ideal.  In describing Jesus’ statement in verse 14, the Abingdon Bible Commentary says, “This is a detached saying.  By it Jesus could only have meant that while many hear the word calling to repentance it is only a few who respond to the call.”I have a quibble with the word “repentance” but I’ll address that in a bit.  I do see that whether or not one was chosen was based on how they responded.

There is so much to be learned from this parable but I don’t want to stray too far from the main path of my Isaiah 45:7 study.  I will thus put a pin in this parable and will perform an in depth study at a later time.  In this post, I want to look at the responses of the various parties and especially at the one man who was found without a wedding garment.  Those who were of the invited ones chose not to come.  Those gathered from the highways by the servants came but would have had no time to procure a wedding garment.  Both the Abingdon Commentary and the commentary on this parable in The Passion Translation point this out.  The Passion Translation says, “Those invited to come from the streets had no opportunity to buy wedding clothes.  This wedding robe is a picture of the garment of righteousness that grace provides for us.  The man without the wedding garment had one provided but he didn’t want to change into new clothes.  A change is necessary, for our King provides garments of white linen for us to wear, our wedding garments” and then references Isaiah 52:1, Revelation 19:8 (TPT).2

Ellicot’s Bible Commentary describes how this providing of a wedding garment was a custom of the day: “The framework of the parable probably presupposes the Oriental custom of providing garments for the guests who were invited to a royal feast.  Wardrobes filled with many thousand garments form part of the wealth of every Eastern prince (6:19; Jas. 5:2), and it was part of his glory (II Kings 10:22), to bring them out for use on state occasions.  On this assumption, the act of the man who was found “not having a wedding garment” was one of willful insult.  The “wedding garment” is nothing less than the “holiness” without which no man shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14), and that holiness, as in the framework of the parable and in the realities of the spiritual life, Christ is ever ready to impart to him who truly believes”.3

I don’t know about you but, whenever I come across scripture references used to back up a statement, I look them up.  As I looked at the scriptures referenced in Ellicot’s Bible Commentary, I did not see that providing a wedding garment was indeed an ancient custom.  That cannot be inferred from those specific scriptures.  I checked through my history books and could not find a reference to that custom.  My history books do have examples of garments being given as gifts and there are examples of this in scripture as well.  (See Genesis 45:22, 2 Kings 5:22, Esther 8:15).  The internet did not help me as I searched for examples of kings providing wedding garments.  I was unable to find one but I did find that this was indeed a custom is a belief almost universally held.  That’s good enough for me at this moment.  I will continue to look into it-and if anyone does know of a reference, please let me know-but, for now, I put a pin in that as well.

That the wedding garment was provided is, I think, inferred by the parable.  That the man was expected to be in a wedding garment is clear and, when questioned, the man had no defense.  If there had been any way to appease the king, no doubt the man would have done so.  I accept the servants offered a garment to the man and he refused.  Vincent’s Word Studies speaks on the man not having a garment saying, “It is hardly possible to convey the subtle sense of the negative particle to the English reader.  A different word for not is used in the preceding verse, expressing an outward, objective fact which attracted the king’s notice.  The man had not a wedding garment.  When the king addresses the guest, he is thinking not so much of the outward token of disrespect, as of the guest’s mental attitude toward the proprieties of the occasion….It implies, as Dr. Morison observes, that the man was conscious of the omission when he entered and was intentionally guilty of the neglect.”4

Both the Abingdon Commentary and The Passion Translation point out the universality of the king’s call.  The Passion Translation says, “Many are called.  This can be understood to be a Semitic figure of speech that universalizes the invitation.  See also Matt. 20:28” (TPT)5 while the Abingdon Commentary says, “The deep universal note of the gospel sounds forth clearly in this parable.”6  I am fascinated by the fact that Matthew’s gospel says “both good and bad” were brought to the feast.  There was no distinction between the guests.  The right to stay and enjoy the king’s celebration was based entirely on whether or not they chose to wear the appropriate garment.  Just what is this garment?

I concur with all of the writers I’ve read who say it is the garment of Jesus’ righteousness.  I do not concur with those who speak of this garment as something external to us.  I hear teachers saying things along the lines of, “God doesn’t see your sin because He sees you through his Son” like we believers are wearing Jesus suits and that makes us acceptable to God.  God doesn’t see our sin because the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).  The parable is not explicit but I think washing is implied.  If those the servants brought in from the highways had no time to procure a wedding garment, neither would they have had time to bathe.  I cannot imagine a wedding garment would have been put over smelly stinking skin and then the guests sent in to the feast where their aroma would fight it out with the aromas of the food the king had had prepared.  I think this parable points to the fact that we are cleansed by the blood of Christ and we are presented to Him glorious, without spot or wrinkle or blemish by the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:26-27).  Not only are we cleansed but clothed in fine linen which is the righteous acts of the saints: not self-righteousness which is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) but the righteousness we now are in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

The call is to each one of us and it is not to repentance.  The fact that the Greek word metanoia has been translated “repentance” in our Bible is, I think, a travesty.  Repentance at its core means to do penance over and over and over and anyone caught in that loop does not know the truth: that Jesus Christ has put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself and did so one time for sins forever.  (Hebrews 10: 26, 10:12, 7:27).  Instead of repentance, metanoia! Change your mind! That Jesus Christ did live and die and rise again thus putting away sins is not dependent on our belief.  It was done long before any of us lived though He acted as and for all mankind and we living today were included.  The life it is possible to live is ours because Jesus our Saviour is self-giving love and whether or not we believe it doesn’t change what is.  However, it is impossible to live in the freedom that is ours in Christ Jesus without believing it.  Let’s remove the pin and no longer keep this life in Christ something to think about at a later time.  Heed His call!  Respond! Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and change your mind!  Come and live a life where there is no guilt or condemnation.  Walk according to His Spirit rather than the flesh because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death! (See Romans 8:1-2) 

That is something to celebrate!

  1. Eiselen, Frederick Carl, Edwin Lewis, and David G. Downey, editors., The Abingdon Bible Commentary, The Abingdon Press, Inc., Nashville • New York, 1929, Page 988
  2. Passion and Fire Ministries, The Passion Translation, 2020 Edition, Broadstreet Publishing Group, LLC, 2020, Page 65
  3. Ellicot, Charles John, Ellicot’s Bible Commentary, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1971, Pages 733-734
  4. Vincent, Marvin R., D.D., Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament, Volume I, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, Pages 120-121
  5. Passion and Fire Ministries, The Passion Translation, 2020 Edition, Broadstreet Publishing Group, LLC, 2020, Page 65
  6. Eiselen, Frederick Carl, Edwin Lewis, and David G. Downey, editors., The Abingdon Bible Commentary, The Abingdon Press, Inc., Nashville • New York, 1929, Page 988

Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982

More Reading on the Wedding Garment:

The Wedding Garment (gracegems.org)

He Got Kicked Out Of The Wedding! – Michael A. Verdicchio (confidenceandjoy.com)

My previous post on our thoughts being our garments: