Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Non-Calvinistic Explanation of Matthew 22:1-14

      This passage in Matthew chapter 22 does not support Calvinism and is easily explained.
     Matthew 22:1 must be connected to the preceding context because: 1) it begins with the connective “And” (Matt. 22:1, KJV), and 2) it tells us that Jesus spoke to them “again”. In the preceding context we see that Jesus has nations in mind (Matt. 21:43). The invited guests who are unwilling to come (Matt. 22:3) represent the unbelieving nation of Israel (Matt. 21:45; cf. Matt. 23:37; Jn. 5:40; Acts 7:51, etc.). Matthew 22:7 is a veiled reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
     A shift takes place in Matthew 22:9-10 in which the slave called “as many as he finds there” and “all that he found”. Apparently the king gave them all wedding clothes as they arrived off the streets (Matt. 22:10). But in Matthew 22:11 we see that one individual hadn’t made adequate preparation for the feast. He had failed to appropriate what the king had offered – he was not wearing wedding clothes (therefore he was unsaved, not having chosen to appropriate the king’s free gift). Even though the man is unsaved, the king still calls him “friend” (Matt. 22:12). Christ often called the unsaved “friend” (e.g. Judas in Matthew 26:50, and others in Matthew 11:19). Therefore it is not a contradiction that Christ calls an unsaved man “friend”. Matthew 22:13 is a reference to Hell.
     Matthew 22:14 is our key verse. Yes, “many are called”. The term “many” may refer to the whole of something (whatever the context is talking about) as in Isaiah 53:12 (cf. Isa. 53:6) or Daniel 9:27 where Dr. Mark Bailey, at the 2001 Moody Bible Institute prophecy conference, said that the “many” was a reference to the nation of Israel, the whole of Israel. In Matthew 22:14, when it says “many are called,” it means “as many as were found” (Matt. 22:9) and “all they found” (Matt. 22:10). This calling is indiscriminate – i.e. for everyone – even the unsaved man (Matt. 22:11-13; cf. 1 Tim. 4:10; 1 Jn. 2:2). 
     Matthew 22:14 goes on to say, "but few are chosen." The Greek word for "chosen" is eklektos. How are people “chosen”? 1 Peter 1:1-2 uses the same Greek word and explains that believers are chosen (eklektos) “according to the foreknowledge of God”. Foreknowledge is simply the Greek word proginosko and it means “to know beforehand”. It has been said that God chooses to save those who choose to believe. This parable in Matthew 22 supports this statement, as does the whole New Testament (especially the Gospel of John – John 6:40 in particular). 
     Why are so few chosen? They are unwilling to come (Matt. 22:3). This parable in Matthew 22 actually is emphasizing man’s choice more than God’s choice in the matter of salvation, although both are true - God chooses to save those who choose to believe. “For many are called, but few are chosen” is one sentence tacked on to the end of a whole section emphasizing man’s choices and responses to God and their consequences. 
     So we see that the call of God is indiscriminate (Matt. 22:9-10), the call can be refused (Matt. 22:3, 22:12, 22:14), men are chosen if they correctly respond to the call (Matt. 22:11), God’s choice is according to His foreknowledge – what He knows beforehand (1 Pet. 1:1-2), few are chosen because they are unwilling to come (Matt. 22:3, 22:14, 23:37; Acts 7:51, 13:46, etc.). 
     Recently I heard a Bible teacher give a good illustration of Matthew 22:14 when it says that “many are called, but few are chosen”. The teacher said that if he were to call and invite everyone in his class to come to his house on a certain date to help him move, that would be an example of how “many are called”. And then on the date of the move whoever actually shows up at his house (let’s say maybe only a small percentage of the class actually shows up to help the teacher move) - they are the ones he chooses. And so “many are called, but few are chosen”.

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