Matthew 22:14
For many are called, but few are chosen.
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(14) Many are called.—(See Note on Matthew 20:16.) The “calling” answers, both verbally and in substance, to the “bidding” or invitation of the parable. The “chosen” are those who both accept the invitation and comply with its condition; those who, in the one parable, work in the vineyard, and in the other, array themselves with the wedding garment of holiness. The “choice,” as far as the parable is concerned, appears as dependent upon the answer given to the calling. The further truth of an election “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1Peter 1:2) is not here within view, but it follows necessarily on the assumption of that foreknowledge. The “choice,” which in the parable comes as the close of all, must be thought of as having been present to the mind of the All-knowing from all eternity. No one can fix time limits for the thoughts of God, and say that at such a time a purpose came into His mind as it comes into the minds of men. We are compelled in such matters to use anthropomorphic language, but we should remember, as we do so, its necessary limitations.

Matthew 22:14. For many are called — Nor imagine, (as if our Lord had said,) that this will be the case of one alone; for though it be a dreadful truth, yet I must say, that even the greatest part of those to whom the gospel is offered, will either openly reject or secretly disobey it; and while indeed many are called to the gospel-feast, it will be manifest by their disregarding it, there are but few chosen in such a sense as finally to partake of its blessings. In short, many hear, few believe: many are members of the visible, but few of the invisible church.

22:1-14 The provision made for perishing souls in the gospel, is represented by a royal feast made by a king, with eastern liberality, on the marriage of his son. Our merciful God has not only provided food, but a royal feast, for the perishing souls of his rebellious creatures. There is enough and to spare, of every thing that can add to our present comfort and everlasting happiness, in the salvation of his Son Jesus Christ. The guests first invited were the Jews. When the prophets of the Old Testament prevailed not, nor John the Baptist, nor Christ himself, who told them the kingdom of God was at hand, the apostles and ministers of the gospel were sent, after Christ's resurrection, to tell them it was come, and to persuade them to accept the offer. The reason why sinners come not to Christ and salvation by him, is, not because they cannot, but because they will not. Making light of Christ, and of the great salvation wrought out by him, is the damning sin of the world. They were careless. Multitudes perish for ever through mere carelessness, who show no direct aversion, but are careless as to their souls. Also the business and profit of worldly employments hinder many in closing with the Saviour. Both farmers and merchants must be diligent; but whatever we have of the world in our hands, our care must be to keep it out of our hearts, lest it come between us and Christ. The utter ruin coming upon the Jewish church and nation, is here represented. Persecution of Christ's faithful ministers fills up the measure of guilt of any people. The offer of Christ and salvation to the Gentiles was not expected; it was such a surprise as it would be to wayfaring men, to be invited to a royal wedding-feast. The design of the gospel is to gather souls to Christ; all the children of God scattered abroad, Joh 10:16; 11:52. The case of hypocrites is represented by the guest that had not on a wedding-garment. It concerns all to prepare for the scrutiny; and those, and those only, who put on the Lord Jesus, who have a Christian temper of mind, who live by faith in Christ, and to whom he is all in all, have the wedding-garment. The imputed righteousness of Christ, and the sanctification of the Spirit, are both alike necessary. No man has the wedding-garment by nature, or can form it for himself. The day is coming, when hypocrites will be called to account for all their presumptuous intruding into gospel ordinances, and usurpation of gospel privileges. Take him away. Those that walk unworthy of Christianity, forfeit all the happiness they presumptuously claimed. Our Saviour here passes out of the parable into that which it teaches. Hypocrites go by the light of the gospel itself down to utter darkness. Many are called to the wedding-feast, that is, to salvation, but few have the wedding-garment, the righteousness of Christ, the sanctification of the Spirit. Then let us examine ourselves whether we are in the faith, and seek to be approved by the King.Many are called, but few are chosen - Our Saviour often uses this expression. It was probably proverbial. The Jews had been called, but few of them had been chosen to life. The great mass of the nation was wicked, and they showed by their lives that they were not chosen to salvation. The Gentiles also were invited to be saved, Isaiah 45:22. Nation after nation has been called; but few, few have yet showed that they were real Christians, the elect of God. It is also true that many who are in the church may prove to be without the wedding garment, and show at last that they were not the chosen of God. This remark in the 14th verse is the inference from the "whole parable," and not of the part about the man without the wedding garment. It does not mean, therefore, that the great mass in the church are simply called and not chosen, or are hypocrites; but the great mass in "the human family," in the time of Christ, who had been "called," had rejected the mercy of God. 14. For many are called, but few are chosen—So Mt 19:30. See on [1342]Mt 20:16.Ver. 1-14. Luke hath this parable, Matthew 14:16-24, which hath made divers interpreters think that Matthew hath put it out of its due order; for Luke reports it as spoken long before, and that not in the temple, but at a Pharisee’s house where he was at dinner, and upon occasion of one of them saying, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. But I know no reason why we may not allow our Saviour to have used the same parable twice, in two differing companies, and upon two different occasions, especially considering there are remarkable differences in Luke’s and Matthew’s relation. I shall therefore leave the consideration of Luke’s relation till I come to that chapter in his Gospel, where I shall meet with it in course, and consider only what Matthew saith. We must remember this is a parable, not an historical narration. The first verse tells us,

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables: he answered, that is, he began a discourse, so the word very often signifies. Our Saviour hath neither given us any particular explication of this parable, nor any proparabola, or epiparabola, any sentence before or after the parable, guiding us as to the explication, except only that short sentence, Matthew 22:14,

For many are called, but few are chosen; which rather guides us in the explication of the four latter verses than of the whole parable: yet it is not hard for us to find out our Saviour’s scope in this parable. It seemeth to be double:

1. To inform those to whom he spake of the destruction suddenly coming upon the Jews, for their rejection of the gospel, and of the calling of the Gentiles.

2. To let us know, that neither Amongst the Jews nor Gentiles all should be saved whom God called by the external ministration of the gospel; but those alone who, belonging to the election of grace, should be found in the day of judgment having on the wedding garment.

So then, the kingdom of heaven here signifies, the way or equity of God in the dispensation of the gospel, or the administration of things in order to the kingdom of glory. The king here mentioned must be he who is the King of kings. The marriage for his son, is the exhibition of the covenant of grace; which whosoever layeth hold on, Isaiah 56:4, is by faith united to Christ; which union is often expressed in holy writ under the notion of a marriage, Psalm 45:10,11 Eph 5:23, &c.: or their union with him in glory, Revelation 19:9. The persons bidden were the Jews. The servants that called them to the wedding, were those that were faithful amongst their ordinary teachers, or the prophets, such as Isaiah and the rest, whom they refused to hearken unto. The other servants might signify John the Baptist, and the twelve, and others sent out by Christ, to tell them that Christ was now come, there wanted nothing but their coming to him and receiving of him. Their making light of it, going one to his farm, another to his merchandise, and others taking the servants, entreating them spitefully, and slaying them, signifies the Jews’ general refusal of the gospel, and the particular rage and malice of some of them, shown in their abusing of the Lord’s prophets and messengers, and which he knew some of them would further show against Stephen and James. The king’s sending forth his armies, and slaying the murderers, signified the coming of the Roman armies, and their utter destroying Jerusalem. The sending of the servants into the highways, and inviting all those whom they found to the wedding, signified the apostles going to the Gentiles, and preaching the gospel to all nations; which much enlarged the territories of the church, gathering in many who professed to accept of Christ, but not all in truth and sincerity. The king’s coming to see his guests, signifieth Christ’s coming at the day of the last judgment, with his fan in his hand, throughly to purge his floor. His finding one without his wedding garment, signifieth his finding many hypocrites at the day of judgment. The guests at weddings were either wont to put on their best clothes, (as we usually do), or a particular garment which was then in use, and was worn by those who were invited to weddings. By the

wedding garment here is meant Christ, Romans 13:14, who is at this feast both the bridegroom, and the meat at the feast, and the wedding garment also, in divers respects. It is but an idle dispute, whether faith is meant, or love: neither the one nor the other separately, but faith that worketh by love; whatsoever God requireth of us, that we may be made meet for the kingdom of God: without faith and holiness none can see God. His being

speechless signifies, that those who have lived under the proffers of grace and salvation, and have rejected them, neither believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, nor bringing forth fruits of holiness, will be without excuse at the day of judgment. And the king’s commanding his servants to

bind him hand and foot, & c., signifieth that all such persons as live within the church, under the means of grace, yet die impenitent and unbelievers, having not by a true faith received Christ as their Saviour, and brought forth the fruits of true repentance and holiness, shall get nothing by their being within the church and externally called, but shall be thrown into hell as well as others, the pains of which are here expressed by binding hand and foot, lying in outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth; as in other places by a worm that shall never die, and a fire that shall never go out; all metaphorical expressions, signifying the vexations and intolerable punishment of the damned in hell.

For (saith our Saviour) many are called, but few are chosen. We met with this expression before, Matthew 20:16, where the sense of it was not so obvious as it is here. Some by it here understand, a choice unto life eternal; nor without reason, if that be understood by the marriage supper, as it is Revelation 19:9; and it appears to be partly at least the sense of it here, in that the person without the wedding garment is doomed to eternal misery. If we by the marriage supper understand a union with Christ here, or the benefits flowing from that, we must by chosen here understand effectually called, being made partakers of that special distinguishing grace which bringeth salvation. The gospel is preached to many whom God doth not favour with his special grace, so as they receive it, convert, and are saved. The former part of this parable doth hint us the reason why the Jews rejected the offers of grace and salvation made to them, viz. the power that the temptations from the world, of pleasure, profit, and honour, had upon them. As the latter part also showeth us the true reason why any are saved to be from the free grace of God, viz. because they are chosen, chosen to eternal life, and particularly favoured to be made partakers of his special and, distinguishing grace.

For many are called, but few chosen. See Gill on Matthew 20:16 For many are called, but few are chosen.
Matthew 22:14. Γάρ] introduces the reason of the ἐκεῖ ἔσται, κ.τ.λ. For, so far from the mere calling availing to secure against eternal condemnation, many, on the contrary, are called to the Messiah’s kingdom, but comparatively few are chosen by God actually to participate in it. This saying has a somewhat different purport in Matthew 20:16; still in both passages the ἐκλογή is not, in the first instance, the judicial sentence, but the eternal decree of God; a decree, however, which has not selected the future subjects of the kingdom in any arbitrary fashion, but has destined for this honour those who, by appropriating and faithfully maintaining the requisite δικαιοσύνη (see on Matthew 22:11 f.), will be found to possess the corresponding disposition and character. Comp. Matthew 25:34. Similarly, too, in Matthew 24:22; Luke 18:7. It was, however, only a legitimate consequence of the contemplation of history from a religious point of view, if the Christian consciousness felt warranted in attributing even this amount of human freedom to the agency of God (Ephesians 1:4; Php 2:13), and had to be satisfied, while maintaining the human element no less than the divine, with leaving the problem of their unity unsolved (see on Romans 9:33, Remark).

Teaching of the parable: When the Messianic kingdom is about to be established, instead of those who have been invited to enter it, i.e. instead of the people of Israel, who will despise the (according to the plural) repeated invitations, nay, who will show their contempt to some extent by a violent behaviour (for which God will chastise them, and that before the setting up of the kingdom, Matthew 22:7), God will order the Gentiles to be called to His kingdom. When, however, it is being established, He will single out from among the Gentiles who have responded to the call such of them as turn out to be morally disqualified for admission, and condemn them to be punished in Gehenna.

The first invitation, and which is referred to in the τοὺς κεκλημένους of Matthew 22:3, is conveyed through Christ; the successive invitations which followed were given through the apostles, who, Matthew 22:9, likewise invite the Gentiles. Comp. Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8; Acts 13:46.

Observe in connection with τότε, Matthew 22:8, that it is not intended thereby to exclude the calling of the Gentiles before the destruction of Jerusalem; but simultaneously with this event the work of conversion was to be directed in quite a special manner toward the Gentiles. The destruction of Jerusalem was to form the signal for the gathering in of the fulness of the Gentiles (Romans 11:25). Thus the τότε marks a grand epoch in the historical development of events, an epoch already visible to the far-seeing glance of Jesus, though at the same time we are bound to admit the discrepancy that exists between this passage and the very definite statement regarding the date of the second advent contained in Matthew 24:29. As is clear from the whole connection, we must not suppose (Weisse) that the man without the wedding garment is intended to represent Judas; but see on Matthew 22:12. What is meant is a Christian with the old man still clinging to him. Comp. on Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:12.


The part of the parable extending from Matthew 22:11 onwards was certainly not spoken, so far as its immediate reference is concerned, with a view to the Pharisees, but was essential to the completeness of the truths that were being set forth, inasmuch as, without that part, there would be no reference to the way in which the holiness of God would assert itself at the setting up of the Messianic kingdom. And the more this latter point is brought out, the more applicable did it become to the case of the Pharisees also, who would be able to infer from it what their fate was to be on that day when, even from among those who will be found to have accepted the invitation, God will single out such as appear without the garment of δικαιοσύνη, and consign them to the punishment of hell

Matthew 22:14. πολλοὶ γὰρ: if, as γὰρ might suggest, the concluding aphorism referred exclusively to the fate of the unrobed guest, we should be obliged to conclude that the story did not supply a good illustration of its truth, only one out of many guests called being rejected. But the gnome really expresses the didactic drift of the whole parable. From first to last many were called, but comparatively few took part in the feast, either from lack of will to be there or from coming thither irreverently.

Matthew 22:14.[959] Πολλοὶ γάρ, κ.τ.λ., for many, etc.) Our Lord adds this remark in His own person to the conclusion of the king’s speech. Cf ὅτι, κ.τ.λ., for, etc., in Luke 16:8.—γὰρ, κ.τ.λ., for, etc.) This general sentiment is a proof, that this man without a wedding garment, and all who are like him, will be cast forth.

[959] ἐκεῖ ἔσταιπολλοὶ γὰρ εἰσι κλητοὶ) Two expressions somewhat frequently repeated by the Saviour, and therefore most worthy of consideration.—Harm., p. 463, 464.

Verse 14. - Many are called...chosen. The rejected guest is a type of a numerous class (see Matthew 20:6). All the Jews had first been called; then all the Gentiles; many were they who obeyed not the call; and of those who did come in, many were not of the inner election, of those, that is, whose life and character were worthy of the Christian name, showing the graces of faith, holiness, and love. Applying the parable generally, Origen (ap. I. Williams) says, "If any one will observe the populous congregations, and inquire how many there are who live a better kind of life, and are being transformed in the renewing of their mind; and how many who are careless in their conversation and conformed to this world, he will perceive the use of this voice of our Saviour's, 'Many are called, but few chosen;' and in another place it has been said, 'Many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able' (Luke 13:24); and, 'Strive earnestly to enter in by the narrow gate; for few there be that find it' (Matthew 7:13, 14)." Matthew 22:14
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