What is the meaning of the parable of the wedding feast?

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Readers Question / Comment - What is the meaning of the parable of the wedding feast

Hi, how are you?
I have a few questions that I would like your help with please. First in Matthew 22:14 I think it is where Jesus says many are called but few are chosen. I have studied this a bit and are the called the Jews and the chosen the gentiles? And also if there is to be a wedding who are the guests? And another is the church the bride? I know its a lot. Thanks so much for your help. Your bible studies have helped me tremendously and I am very excited about the latest ones. Thanks again.

JPN Reply:


hope things are going well. Late last year the home group I take studied some of the parables and this was one of them. It is important to read this parable in its context. It comes during the conflict with the Pharisees following on from the end of chapter 21. This is important. Jesus had just spoken to the Pharisees and said that the kingdom will be taken away from Israel and given to another nation. So the main point of the parable isn't to identify the bride. She isn't actually even mentioned. It is a parable to show who would be at the wedding feast. Here is quick breakdown of it as I see it:

Mat 22:1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying,
Mat 22:2 "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.

The king is God the Father and the Son is Jesus. Nothing tricky so far! The wedding feast is the last part of the wedding process and something that Jews were quite familiar with.

Mat 22:3 "And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.

God sent his servants to Israel to bid them to come. This is the time of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus & disciples. But they were unwilling. The actually killed the Son!

Mat 22:4 "Again he sent out other slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."'
Mat 22:5 "But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business,
Mat 22:6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them.

This is the second group sent out (other slaves). This is the early church and Apostles. They still went back to the nation of Israel in the early part of Acts. But again they weren't willing to respond and killed God's servants. This is recorded obviously in Acts.

Mat 22:7 "But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire.

This is the prophetic announcement of what would happen to Jerusalem in 70 AD because of its rejection of God's call. Judgement and the city burned.

Mat 22:8 "Then he *said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.
Mat 22:9 'Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.'
Mat 22:10 "Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.

This is the call to go to other people. Prophetically this is the Gentiles. The call went out to all - both evil and good! And the wedding hall was filled!

Mat 22:11 "But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes,
Mat 22:12 and he *said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And the man was speechless.
Mat 22:13 "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

For these weddings the King would provide wedding garments for his guests. This man had his own garments. This is showing that within those that want to come to the wedding will be those that come in their own righteousness (their own garments). They are rejected and taken away. This is those that say 'Lord, Lord' but He has to say to them 'Depart from me, I NEVER knew you'.

Mat 22:14 "For many are called, but few are chosen."

Many are called: This shows that the invitation goes out to all (both good and bad as seen above)
Few are chosen: These are the ones that come in the manner prescribed by the King. Unlike the one that came with his own ideas and own garments.

So in it's context it is a parable that rebukes the Pharisees for rejecting Jesus and the offer of salvation. And it prophetically shows that it will lead to judgement upon Israel and salvation to the Gentiles. It also shows that people have to come to the wedding according to the King's rules, not theirs. This was another rebuke to the Pharisees that saw their own righteousness and ideas as superior and more than enough to get them to the Wedding feast.

As to your other questions:

Is the church the bride of Christ? 

Yes. I believe all those that are truly saved from Pentecost to the Rapture of the church will make up the bride. This is based on a couple of passages:

Ephesians 5:25-32 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, (26) so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, (27) that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (28) So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; (29) for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, (30) because we are members of His body. (31) FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. (32) This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

Paul says that the imagery of a man and women wed in marriage is a deep mystery and it is a type of Christ and the church! The church will be presented to Christ like a bride, glorious having no spot or wrinkle. Paul also said to the Corinthians

2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

So yes, the church is the bride.

Who are the wedding guests?

John the baptist said that he was not part of the bride, but was a friend of the bridegroom.

John 3:28-29 "You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent ahead of Him.' (29) "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made full.

So from that I would say that the wedding guests are those saved outside of the church age. ie Old Testament saints, Tribulation saints.

Hope it helps. Going back to Matt 22, we need to remember that the bride of Christ had not been revealed yet and isn't part of the parable. I agree with the Believers Bible Commentary which states:

"As to the meaning of the parable, the king is God and His Son is the Lord Jesus. The wedding feast is an appropriate description of the festive joy which characterizes the kingdom of heaven. Introducing the church as the bride of Christ in this parable unnecessarily complicates the picture. The main thought is the setting aside of Israel—not the distinctive call and destiny of the church."

All the best!