Grace and judgement at the wedding feast in Matthew 22

The lectionary gospel for Trinity 18 in Year A is Matthew 22.1–14, the parable of the wedding banquet. This is the third of three parables about judgement in this section of the gospel, and these wider chapters all focus on judgement (we will be hearing more about this before we reach Advent), so you might be wearying of it. But this is the most startling and striking of parables, and the reader can hardly fail to be struck by the drama of both the imagery and its theology.

There is a very similar parable told by Jesus in Luke 14:15-24, but this has different details, and takes place in quite a different context. In the recent history of interpretation, it has often been assumed that there was one original story, probably Luke’s version, and that the other, probably Matthew’s, was changed and elaborated by the community and/or the gospel writer (so, for example, scholar Bart Ehrman sees this as a classic example of where the early Christian community changed and invented the teaching of Jesus). But this assumes that Jesus only ever told stories once, which seems unlikely given that he taught for so long and we have comparatively few examples of it, and that he never adapted stories to illustrate a broad principle in different contexts. So we should take Matthew’s account of Jesus’ teaching here seriously in its own right, and in its context within his gospel.

The parable begins in Jesus’ customary way in Matthew: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like…’ a person. We shift from the example of a master of a household or landowner to a ‘human king’, a phrase only found here and in the opening of the parable of the unforgiving slave in Matt 18.23—a reminder both that we can find insight into the ways of God and his kingdom in the affairs of humans, but that this is a parable, so we need to take care in the way we make sense of the parallels.

Like the preceding parable of the wicked tenants, a son is mentioned, and it is his wedding banquet. There is, perhaps, an important Christological claim being made here; in the previous parable, the son clearly points to Jesus, and the death of the son alludes to Jesus’ coming death at the hands of the Jerusalem leaders. But any Jewish listener will hear in this story, with its mention of the extensive invitation at the end of the parable, an allusion to the Great Banquet of God in Is 25.6–8:

On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.

On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever.

The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.

This is important background for the writers of the NT, with Paul alluding to it in 1 Cor 15.54, and John in Rev 7.17 and 21.4. The eschatological feast of God for all nations is the wedding banquet of his son Jesus—though in this parable the figure of the son himself plays no further role.

It is important to read the process of invitation in the context of first century Mediterranean culture, rather than our own customs, since it is easy to misread something quite serious as trivial. Both in this parable and the similar one in Luke, it is clear that there is a double (or perhaps triple) process of invitation. Preparing a feast in Jesus’ day was a costly, time-consuming and strongly communal process. Formal invitations would be issued, and then, on the basis of the number of those who had accepted, the host would slaughter the appropriate number of animals (which itself would be an important communal activity, involving other members of the village), and prepare the meal over several days. Only then would the second invitation, that the feast was ready, be sent out.

Those who now refused would be reneging on their initial acceptance, would be spurning the offer of food that had, at some expense, already been prepared, and would be publicly insulting the host in front of the whole community. The equivalent for us would be coming to dinner in someone’s house, enjoying drinks and aperitifs, and then when the main course is put on the table, taking one look at it and getting up and leaving. Kenneth Bailey, in his wonderful study of the Lukan parable in Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes (pp 314–315), notes that the expanded excuses in Luke add insult to injury. The process of buying a field, testing oxen, and getting married (Luke 14.18–20) are all very long-term processes in that culture—you would normally inspect a field through the season, to see where the sun fell, how plants grew, and how fruitful was its produce before embarking on a purchase.

The jolly song that we used to sing about this parable, ‘I cannot come, I cannot come to the banquet, don’t trouble me now…’ suggested that the issue here was busyness and pre-occupation. But read in context, it is clear that these people never really intended to come, and thought the long-term occupations of their present lives much more important than the feast of the king, so much so that they are ready to spurn his generosity and humiliate him in public—particularly significant in a culture where honour and shame were so important.

By refusing to come, the guests insult the dignity of the king who had counted on their attendance and graciously prepared food for them (Craig Keener, The Gospel of Matthew, p 520).

The parable here in Matthew contains an immediate element of judgement that the parable in Luke does not: ‘The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city’ (verse 7). It is worth noting that this element of the narrative doesn’t actually fit in the story very well; it seems rather unlikely that a king would invite people to his son’s wedding who are from another city, rather than his own. Most commentators see this as an allusion to the coming destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans—Josephus, The Jewish War 6.353–355, 363–64, 406–8) describes the city being burned by the Romans, but the temple being burned by the Jewish rebels—which will make most readers feel very uncomfortable with the idea that God has punished the Jews for rejecting Jesus as the Messiah. That will need addressing in a wider discussion—but for the purposes of reading this parable, we need to note that this echoes ‘the robust theology of the OT prophets who hailed pagan conquerors as God’s instrument (Is 10.5–11, 44.28–45.7, Jer 25.9)’

Jerusalem is now no longer God’s city but ‘theirs’, and the community as a whole is implicated in their rebellion and its punishment, as had so often happened in the past when Israel’s sins had led to the city’s destruction by invading armies (R T France, NICNT, p 825).

In both parables, in Matthew and Luke, the anger of the king is transformed into energetic grace; the places at the table will not be left empty, and the generosity of the king will not go to waste. Luke includes a double second invitation, suggesting the opening of the kingdom both to Jews receiving Jesus as their Messiah, and gentiles who are incorporated into the people of God as well, reflecting the mixed nature of his audience. In this parable in Matthew, Jesus includes no such double invitation, consistent with the rest of the gospel where the incorporation of the gentiles is much less of a feature. But here Jesus does emphasis the inclusion of the ‘good and the bad’ (v 10).

This is striking both in the light of Matthew’s emphasis on the importance of ‘righteousness’, by which he means doing the right things that God commands, a term repeated seven times in the gospel in total—but also in the importance of honour and shame in first-century culture. To be invited to the banquet of a king would be an extraordinary social honour, striking in its privilege; those who were first invited ‘did not deserve to come’ (v 8), but neither do the eventual guests either. The gracious invitation of the king has extended to those who would not normally be considered worthy. As John Barclay notes about Paul’s theology of God’s grace:

It was very common in Paul’s world to speak of the worth of the recipient. Gifts should be given lavishly but discriminately, to fitting or worthy recipients. ‘Worth’ could be defined in different ways, according to a number of criteria—ethnicity, social status, age, gender, moral virtue, beauty or success. Just as, today, prizes might be awarded on different grounds (for musical, literary, sporting or academic achievement) but keep their value only if they are given discriminately, to people worthy of them, so the good gift in antiquity was normally given according to some criterion of worth…

For this reason, the most subversive gift is the gift given without regard to worth … If you expect God to give the best gifts to the freeborn adult and educated male, but if you find that, in fact, these gifts are given both to the free and to slaves, both to adults and to children, both to the educated and to the uneducated, both to males and to females, your whole notion of worth, and thus your social values, is thrown into disarray (from the Grove booklet Paul and the Subversive Power of Grace)

And this section concludes with one part of the paradox of the kingdom; even though ‘many are called, and few are chosen’, the wedding hall is ‘filled with guests’.

Bailey points out that this parable offers a very different interpretation of how God will fulfil the promise of Is 25 from others of the time. The translation and interpretation of the passage into Aramaic, the Targum of Isaiah, makes this comment:

Yahweh of hosts will make for all the peoples in this mountain a meal. And although they supposed it an honour, it will be a shame for them and great plagues, plagues from which they will be unable to escape, plagues whereby they will come to their end.

Similarly, 1 Enoch 62.1–11 speaks of a great banquet of the Messiah, where gentiles will be present—but an angel with the sword of death will come and slay them all. The banquet hall will run with blood and gore, through which the believers must wade in order to feast with the Messiah! And the Messianic Rule of the Qumran community also describes a banquet where non-Jews, those who do not keep the law, and anyone with a physical blemish is excluded.

Isaiah’s beautiful vision, which saw faithful Jews and Gentiles coming together at God’s invitation, goes badly awry in these three reinterpretations of the great banquet (Bailey, p 311).

Only in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ parable do we have the codicil about the guest who is not properly attired in Matt 22.11–13. Once again, we need to be careful to read this in its cultural context. For us, wedding clothes are something special, perhaps something expensive which only the wealthiest can afford (and hence the astronomical cost of weddings at the moment). But a hundred years ago even the bride would not buy a special wedding dress, instead wearing the best dress that she already had (I think it was Queen Victoria who set the trend for white dresses at weddings, as well as black at funerals). So if someone does not have the right apparel, it might not be their fault.

But in the first century, the wedding clothes that the guest was expected to wear would be the linen garment that he already had; what was needed was to make the small effort in cleaning it and putting it on. And, once again, in that culture to refuse to do so was not a mere accident, laziness or a limitation of poverty, but a deliberate decision to flout convention and fail to honour the host who had bestowed honour in the invitation. Though there is language elsewhere in the NT in which white garments are a gift from God, signifying new life or righteousness in Christ, in this parable there is no suggestion that the wedding garments are supplied by the king—they belong to and should have been worn by the guest. It is the guest’s act of response.

In the parable, these wedding garments thus signify the appropriate response to the gracious invitation of the king. As Barclay puts it, the grace of God is indeed unconditioned, in that it is bestowed on those who are now worthy, but it is not unconditional, in that it makes demands on us:

Luther was anxious about any language of obligation or obedience if it implied trying to win favor with God. As a result, some Protestants believe it’s inappropriate for God to expect something in return, because it would somehow work against grace. They believe a gift should be given without any expectation of return. However, that can lead to notions of cheap grace—that God gives to us and doesn’t care about what we do. On the other hand, the Calvinist and, in different ways, the Methodist–Wesleyan traditions have rightly understood that the gift of God in Christ is based on conditions, in a sense. While there is no prior worth for receiving the gift, God indeed expects something in return. Paul expects those who receive the Spirit to be transformed by the Spirit and to walk in the Spirit. As he puts it, we are under grace, which can legitimately lead to obedience, even obligation.

And so Calvin comments:

As to the wedding garment, is it faith, or is it a holy life? This is a useless controversy; for faith cannot be separated from good works, nor do good works proceed from any other source than from faith. Christ intended only to state that the Lord calls us on the express condition of our being renewed by the Spirit … and that, in order to our remaining permanently in his house, we must put off the old man with his pollutions … and lead a new life. (Commentary on Mathew, Mark and Luke, vol 2).

This double emphasis in the parable is exactly what we find in Paul—even to the extent of his using the complex issues around the grace towards and judgement of Israel being on object lesson to the Jewish-Gentile messianic community formed in the grace of God around Jesus:

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree. (Romans 11.22–24).

I hope, dear reader, that you can see why I was so excited at the beginning of this piece about how sparkling and startling this parable is—rich with theological themes and insights, encouragements and warnings.

Within the story, the gracious generosity of God looms large, in the form of the king who not only prepares a great feast for his (ultimately ungrateful) subjects, but whose generosity then extends to those who simply do not deserve it. God prepares a lavish feast for all who would accept his invitation, take up the offer, leave their previous preoccupations, and come and sit with him.

But alongside that, there is no shirking from the importance of human action and responsibility in answering the call and responding to the invitation. The language of judgement here is clear and stark:

Many are ‘called’ or ‘invited’ with the message of repentance, but only those who respond worthily will share the inheritance of the chose, covenant people… (Keener, p 523).

Judgement is self-imposed. Those who refuse the initiation cut themselves off from the fellowship of the host and his guests. They choose not to taste the banquet (Bailey, p 320).

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24 thoughts on “Grace and judgement at the wedding feast in Matthew 22”

  1. “But alongside that, there is no shirking from the importance of human action and responsibility in answering the call and responding to the invitation.”

    Agreed. As long as we recognise that even answering the call and responding to the invitation is part of God’s gift. “It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

    Absent God’s gracious regeneration of our fallen human will, no-one would be capable of responding.

    • The context of Philippians 2:12, 13 is quite different. I don’t think it envisages the response to God’s gracious invitation as we find it in Matthew 22.

    • ‘Agreed. As long as we recognise that even answering the call and responding to the invitation is part of God’s gift.’

      – but is it? Ian Paul doesnt seem to think that. And it doesnt seem to be even hinted at in the parable.


      • The parable may will contain no hint of the response being gifted. Certainly, even the King’s original invitation, while generous, reveals no hint that it was in defiance of the demerit of His intended guests. It was specifically an unsolicited and generous honour that they spurned.

        An argument from the parable’s silence about the demerit of the original invitees might be used to infer the absence of any sinful demerit among Jesus’ Jewish hearers (which would compound the egregiousness of their thinly-veiled rejection of the graciousness in His teaching in Matt. 21:23)

        In fact, while the parables in chapter 22 provide an illustrative comparison in response to the chief priests and elders’ disbelieving question about His authority, they are not all-encompassing expositions about grace.

        The argument from silence cannot negate St. Paul’s declaration about saving faith: “and that not of yourselves. it is the gift of God”. (Eph. 2:8)

        When Jesus told a man with a withered hand: “Stretch out your hand”. (Luke 6:10), that very command imparted the restorative power that enabled its fulfilment.

        St. Paul refers to reliance on this miraculous agency to exemplify how salvation is effected through faith (in contrast with the Galatians’ admixture of self-effected legalism) : “So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?“ (Gal. 3:5)

        Also, Paul says of His apostolic motivation: “ No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Cor. 15:10) We should say the same.

        If “answering the call and responding to the invitation” isn’t the gift of God, but differentiates the redeemed from the reprobate, then it is the comparative personal merit of the former relative to the latter that is contributory to our salvation.

        The notion of such comparative contributory merit is inimical to the doctrine of grace.

  2. Now you’ve done it, David!
    The positioning of pigeons and cat comes to mind.
    As for conditional v conditional covenants ( and I know Barclay uses the term conditioned) I’m fully persuaded, through the ministry of Tim Keller that the covenants are both, reaching a crescendo at the end of the OT with the conditions fulfilled by God in the incarnation of Jesus, in his active and passive obedience: his righteousness credited to us, to be robed in his royal robes of righteousness. His Goodness and kindness.
    Do we desire Him?
    If so why?
    If not, why not?
    What seems to be brought to light in Ian’s piece are the questions over the categories of monergism, semi-pelagianism, Pelagianism and the identified five categories

    How far, if at all, do we contribute to our salvation and in distinction, our sanctification or holiness? Where does the desire come from? Who or what is the object of that desire.
    The Giver or the gift? The presence of the King or the feast? The blessings (unacknowledged,commn grace?) or the Blesser?; life, or the Giver of Life?

  3. In the context of some comments above, I’ll point out a difference between the banquets in Matthew, as here, and Luke. While in Matthew the additional guests are invited, in the version Luke records, the two waves are not invited, the first is ‘brought in’ and the second ‘compelled’ to come in.

    Also, Luke records the story as a response to a remark (Luke 14:15) which seems a reference to the banquet of Isaiah 25. Matthew’s context is the conflict with the Pharisees and other leaders.

  4. Uplifting and in-depth as usual.

    Regarding comments debate. For me the general rule is preach what the text preaches. Don’t import truths that while true are not the point of the text and sometimes even negate the thrust of the text.

  5. Re the argument from silence – the problem is you’re inserting ideas into the parable that are not contained in the parable. They ‘may’ be reflected in other texts, but not here.

    ‘When Jesus told a man with a withered hand: “Stretch out your hand”. (Luke 6:10), that very command imparted the restorative power that enabled its fulfilment.’

    – what would have happened if the man had refused to stand up in front of them all and hold out his hand? I suspect he would not have been healed. This experience is reflected where Jesus was ‘unable’ to heal many precisely because many did not come to him for healing. That was their choice.

    ‘If “answering the call and responding to the invitation” isn’t the gift of God, but differentiates the redeemed from the reprobate, then it is the comparative personal merit of the former relative to the latter that is contributory to our salvation.

    The notion of such comparative contributory merit is inimical to the doctrine of grace.’

    – or it indicates that the gift is genuinely free to accept or reject. Grace is shown to all by the very fact the gift is offered to all. But all do not accept it, just as the parable shows. It has nothing to do with personal merit as all are undeserving, which is why it’s grace. But grace can be rejected.

    • Hello Peter,
      There is a need to establish what is meant by grace.
      There may be a hint of prevenient grace in your comment.
      Peter, there are deeper questions here, as I’m sure you are aware, such as why some desire, some don’t: whether saving Grace in Christ can be resisted or is irresistible?
      Again the Fall, is a key component in the discussion – the Fall, which David brought into his first comment, “the fallen human will.”
      I don’t think you addressed that aspect.
      A debate perhaps for another space and time, perhaps, but as you know is a one that has devoured much thought, study, time and space over the years.

    • I missed this reply because it wasn’t in the immediate reply thread, but here are my responses:
      1. “Re the argument from silence – the problem is you’re inserting ideas into the parable that are not contained in the parable”

      I’m not inserting ideas into the parable per se. What I am doing is avoiding the anthropomorphic fallacy of attributing the human characteristics of the parable’s main protagonist to God without qualification.

      2. “ – what would have happened if the man had refused to stand up in front of them all and hold out his hand? I suspect he would not have been healed. This experience is reflected where Jesus was ‘unable’ to heal many precisely because many did not come to him for healing. That was their choice.”

      So, do you think that such a choice was beyond the foreknowledge of of the all-knowing God? that God was completely blindsided by those who reject Him?

      If not, then it’s true that the all-powerful God foreknew the universal state of man as Paul describes in Rom. 7 below, but, for some, she chose to effect the change that would allow them to choose aright: “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?“

      The law of sin and death isn’t really a prison if it is by free choice that people leave it.

      “ But all do not accept it, just as the parable shows. It has nothing to do with personal merit as all are undeserving, which is why it’s grace. But grace can be rejected.”

      Your assertion here is not a valid inference from the parable. Certainly, it doesn’t not indicate any pre-existing undeserving demerit among those who were invited. In fact, there is no analogy of our need for deliverance in the parable. The invited guests do not need a wedding feast.

      Instead, the parable is one of a series of tangential responses to the chief priests’ attempts to dispute His spiritual authority in Matt. 21:23.

      In the parable, those who were invited only became undeserving through their inexcusable refusal to reciprocate such a great honour appropriately (either by spurning the original invitation or by blindly contemptuous avarice for his bounty).

      The parable is analogous to the rejection of God’s gracious invitation through Christ, but it is not a comprehensive allegory.

  6. “Honour the King’s Son – or die”
    That is the heading to this passage in Keeper’s The IVP Bible Background Commentary.
    22:6 King’s servants had higher status than most free persons and represented the King’s. Mistreatment represented “outright treason treason, a declaration of revolt.”
    “Yet this was the treatment of God’s servant-messengers, the prophets, were known to have received.”
    Hence verse 7 “those murderers”
    Preparations for a lengthy (week – long?
    and here lavish -no expense spared as it were – wedding feast) would have been extensive for the King’s son. Having no guests would be a huge national scandalous display of dishonour and disrespect of the Son.
    The result : an open doors invitation to all good and evil, who nevertheless had to be covered/dressed in appropriate wedding clothes to gain entry or remain.
    Jesus here is putting himself at the centre of the parable, the God’s Son at the Feast of feasts, the feast to end all feasts in the Kingdom of Heaven.

  7. Are not the wedding garments to be contrast with the filthy rags of righteousness that is of apostacy in Isaiah 64:6 (see also Romans 3:10) that apostasy being demonstrated in the parable.
    None righteous, both good and evil people need clean/righteous clothing, it is the required dress code for the kingdom of heaven, robes of righteousness, not of our own making made and given and dressed by grace alone.

    • That is certainly the focus in *some* language of garments in the New Testament. But it is contradicted for example by Rev 19.8, where the white robes are the ‘righteous deeds of the saints’, and I think it is not the case here.

      • I’d push back a little, Ian,
        As the deeds in Rev you cite are “of the saints.” First of all, it comes from being a “Saint”
        The question then is, how does one become a saint; what is a saint?
        Even if we don’t look forward to the context of the NT, but look back to the OT, Isaiah, I’d suggest the contrast is clear in relation to clothing, even if you don’t want to go so far as to credit clean/righteous clothes to all of grace.
        What is the alternative? Provide our own clean washed- by -ourselves clothing?
        Hence I think it unnecessary to go outside scripture, a la Bailey to interpret this passage.
        I’m not persuaded that has a full canon coherence.
        But I’d be pleased to see it fully explored.

  8. Thanks, Ian, for opening up this parable as we find it in Matthew, and setting numerous thoughts running. Hermeneutics and Theology quickly mingle in the comments!
    Below is a rather dense but I think very useful paragraph from Nicholas Lash which may be relevant to this underlying debate about free will and human freedom / God’s power. Written in 1981 with non-inclusive language which I have not changed. It is from p144 in ‘A Matter of Hope’. Lash was a professor at Cambridge, who died this summer, for those who have not come across his writings.

    The peculiar difficulty of Christian theological discourse arises from the fact that there is no common ‘logical space’ occupied jointly by both God and man. There is no class of which both God and man are mutually exclusive members. .. In so far as we speak of God and man in the same breath we obliged to do so in sentences the form of which suggests that we have to choose either (with Hegel) ‘God’ as subject and human existence as predicate, or (with Feurbach) ‘man’ as subject and God as predicated abstraction. In reality the dilemma is unreal. In ‘appearance’ – in the form of our language – it is unavoidable. Therefore the only course open to us (and it is a course which has been adapted, in a variety of ways, from the beginning of Christianity) is to proceed dialectically; to acknowledge that there is no one proposition, or set of propositions, in which the consciousness of faith can ‘settle’.

    If I have understood him rightly Lash was saying that it is the limits of our language which are the problem. Certainly a careful reading of the gospels, of the New Testament and of the Bible as a whole, supports this idea that there is no one set of propositions that is settled. There is always another voice so we grapple with the tension working to hold it.
    One example
    As Anglicans in the Absolution do we hear ‘keep us in eternal life’ or ‘bring us to eternal life’ – the one may be too complete, the other too unsure of salvation?

    The book is also a wonderful, careful critique of Karl Marx and Marxism as well as a strident challenge to a non-material faith. It remains highly relevant today in our political and religious climate.

    • ‘As Anglicans in the Absolution do we hear ‘keep us in eternal life’ or ‘bring us to eternal life’ – the one may be too complete, the other too unsure of salvation?’

      – I would suggest the former does not make sense given the normal understanding of ‘eternal’. There is no need to ‘keep’ anyone in eternal life as, by definition, eternal life is, well, eternal ie non-ending. It’s either eternal in length or not, in which case it is limited.

      – The latter ‘request’ would therefore seem to be more sensible, except that the NT implies that eternal life is not given at the end of one’s physical life (which is perhaps as NT Wright understands it, though Im still confused as to what he actually believes after hearing him in a debate re justification), but rather it begins at conversion and continues on into eternity.

      So it seems neither request is appropriate but rather a ‘thank you’ for giving eternal life is.


  9. Grammar and meaning and its limitations and delights!
    It could be argued equally that we can “fall out” of eternal life, lose our salvation, so a great need for us to be kept in it. A bit like a safe convoy of vehicles, or a boat in a storm, a tour through a Pleasure Park (temptations) but we could fall out / get out and be stranded.
    Likewise it might be argued that until death, our destiny is not secure so we ask that God will bring us safely to that safe place. The Good Shepherd finds the lost sheep, but what about the runaway?
    Are we saved at baptism, through baptism, saved for sure at a point of repentance, safe anyway in the universal love of God which we discover more and more, or do we use other metaphors. Scripture uses a rich mix of metaphor and image.

    The vineyard can be taken away from the chosen people, the wedding guest can it seems get in without a robe (but is then caught out), Ananias and Sapphira die, the older brother in Luke 15 is dangerously outside the banquet, .. there are those who hear “I never knew you” (apparently they are surprised) .. yet I am adopted and an heir etc.
    Metaphors and their interpretation – dynamic not simply static proposition.

  10. Eternal life starts now for believers, and continues. There is no conflict with that and being kept in eternal life, in perseverance. Verse 3: it is knowing Father God and Jesus Son (through Holy Spirit who proceeds from Father and Son).
    John 17
    1When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” ESV
    continues marvellously to the end of the chapter, to set it in context.
    Maybe there is a tincture of Good News there.

  11. Just one more comment: Matt 22: 11 -14, may be pointing to the person of Judas Iscariot, one who betrayed the Son.
    This could be pressed further; he was addressed as friend Matt 26: 50. He was a collaborator, traitor servant, in death of the Son. He was figuratively put out of the kingdom of heaven, on earth, inaugurated by the incarnation of the Son; cast out. Called, fulfilling the scriptures; not chosen.
    But this presses on one point in the context of Matt. He was the Ultimate NT apostate, from among the disciples, who literaly fell-away, the continuity of OT unrighteous, apostasy.


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