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Wedding Banquet Parable of Jesus’ – Matthew 22:1-14 Commentary

Wedding Banquet Parable of Jesus’ – Matthew 22:1-14 Commentary


The Parable of the Wedding Banquet is the last of the three “true-faith” parables which set out to show the true people of God (Bruner, 2002:762-779). These parables progressively explain in Matthean “obedient faith” terms, the nature of the faith of the people of God (Bruner, 2002:762). It is implicit in this parable that accepting the invitation doesn’t exempt one from behaving appropriately.

Simonetti (2002:145) opens the topic by saying “the faithful… know that the Lord’s Table is open to all who are willing correctly to receive it.” This summarizes the parable most briefly, and verse 14 indicates and confirms this; invitation doesn’t necessarily mean entry into the kingdom of Heaven. One must approach in the appropriate manner. Boice (1983:67) says that this parable is in a “special class” that deals with the refusal of Israel in responding to the Lord Jesus Christ when He came to them.

Simonetti (2002:145) puts it that both good and evil eventually come to the banquet and this is representative of the “church of this time.” He further suggests that is the evil doers sins that prevent them from receiving “the liberty of spiritual grace” and that the church is a huge mix of all sorts. (Simonetti, 2002:145). Again, this is a present day mix, both good and evil, those who will enter Heaven, and the others, Hell.


Davies & Allison (2002:193) note that this parable is “a series of actions and responses.” Verse 1 introduces the parable; verses 2 to 13b record the actions and responses, and then verses 13c-14 conclude the parable with its commentary and meaning (Davies & Allison, 2002:193).

In verses 1-2, Bruner (1990:774) and other commentators call reference to the king as God and the son as Jesus, suggesting that the active party in the parable is God the Father, and Jones (1995:411), sparks interest noting there is no bride mentioned. Verses 3 – 4, show us the character of God we all know; His compassion and interest and love for us, manifested in issuing more than one invitation (Bruner, 1990:774).

In verses 5-7, Simonetti (2002:145) tells us that the invitees to the feast were both more interested in “earthly toil… and the business of the world [at the expense] of the mystery of the Lord’s incarnation.” What further insults the king is the fact that the invitees “persecute those who accept it.” (Simonetti, 2002:145). Bruner (2002:774) agrees and elucidates this as an amazing rejection; how often do we flatly refusing our king (God)! Bruner (1990:775) posits that the burning of the city in verse 7 refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., though Hagner (1995:630), citing Gundry (1994:436), argues Matthew was focusing here on the Old Testament image of Isaiah 5:24-25 in seeking a closer parallel with that book.

In verses 8-10, the king enunciates that those invited were not worthy and that by his grace, the outcasts, those on the streets, will now be invited. This is clearly a statement of the calling of the Gentiles. Bruner (1990:775) has it that this third call shows the preacher of God’s Word, “the depth of the love of God.”

The call to go therefore into the main streets in verse 9 depicts the Great Commission. The rejection on the first hand (the first invitations) is Israel’s rejection of its Messiah; a “disaster” is what Bruner (1990:776) calls it. But this simply opens to the world the Messiah’s true mission; to be the Saviour of the world. Davies & Allison (2002:196) assign to Matthew again, this role of the kingdom of God accepting those who are not invited first at the expense of those who are, citing 8:11-12 — “[t]he first will be last, the last first.”

When the inappropriately dressed man is noticed by the king (vv. 11-13) it is a stark reminder of the importance of appearance in his presence. This means ultimate significance is to be placed on the “heart’s clothing” prior to approaching the kingdom of Heaven (Simonetti, 2002:146). Even though we are saved by grace, it is imperative that all believers take seriously their salvation by having a right heart for God and His people, reflected in works for the kingdom.

Davies & Allison (2002:193) mention there are two notable invitations and two responses (rejections) in the parable, and both rejection responses are met with punishment action by the king. It is implicit that that each of the two invitation sequences in the parable has three (3) actions of the king — that the king is the only person to speak “underlines [his] authority.” (Davies & Allison, 2002:193-194).

The parable, Davies & Allison (2002:197) tell us, is a run-on from 21:33ff — the Parable of the Wicked Tenants – there is a father and son. The king is God, the son is Jesus, the sending of the servants to invite the guests are the sending of the Lord’s Messengers, and the murder of the servants represents the rejection of the prophets and Jesus… the “royal wedding feast is an eschatological banquet.

Simonetti (2002:144) notes that two refusals to the initial invitees represent Jewish refusal to accept the authority of the prophets and then later the apostles.

Blomberg (1990:237-238) argues that there are four major objections in this parable that warrant contextual criticism due to their lack of fit, however, in discussing the response of the king to the refusal of the guests to attend, he contends that “refusal to attend [was] tantamount to high treason.”

Certainly the expectation for guests invited at the last minute (vv.10-11) to be dressed appropriately may have indicated that they would be supplied with an appropriate garment, but with limited means and lack of time, they could be excused (Blomberg, 1990:238).

Blomberg (1990:239) argues the fit of v. 14 in with the parable to the negative, but comes back to say it should be considered a “valid generalization based on the parable’s primary structural distinctive.” He, Blomberg (1990:239), summarizes the parable thus: (1) The Lord issues invitations to many; (2) and explicit refusal of the kingdom will bring God’s wrath; and, (3) eternal retribution is an outcome for those who might approach the kingdom of God ill-prepared.


The context of the parable and the place it finds itself in Matthew are hugely significant, though many scholars differ on the degree of Matthean adaptation of the parable and his sources (see for instance, Keener, 1999: 517 & Hagner, 1995:627-628).

Beginning in chapter 21, Jesus has entered Jerusalem in triumphal fashion and is pressing home his amazing influence by cleansing the temple. He then makes several statements about how ill-equipped the traditional heirs are to the kingdom of God, including analogies like the cursing of the fig tree.

It is foundational that this parable be read in conjunction with the previous two parables. Gundry (1994:432) tells us the first parable (21:28-32) centered on John the Baptist’s ministry, the second (21:33-44) ends famously re-telling Jesus the Son’s mission, and the current one is the mission of the church. This could explain why the bride is not explicitly mentioned in the text – it is implicit in the parable. Further, Muller (1999:169) seems to agree with Gundry in saying the third parable was about the Great Commission (28:18-20).

Blomberg (1990:233) elicits that the “imagery of a meal” as a way to tell the parable was “standard in Jewish thought.” Bruner (1990:773) cites that 22:1-14 takes up where the previous parable left off; 22:1-14 begins in present day whereas the parable of the wicked tenants (21:33-46) “surveyed” more the previous 1000 years prior to the first Christian church, but both these parables and also the parable of the two sons refer to the same situation; who is invited to the kingdom of Heaven, how they respond, and finally, who will eventually enter it. As was mentioned in the introduction, the parable of study needs to be read not only in conjunction with the previous two, but also in the context of the ensuing Passion narrative.

Bruner (1990:773) suggests the boldness of Jesus in “implying [His] divine sonship”, but this shows clearly how Matthew has portrayed Jesus, approaching the Passion, stating in very many ways the rejection of Himself, the church and the whole Christian program, by the many.

How We Might Apply its Meaning in a way that is relevant to contemporary society

Application of scripture in modern times is always a relevant question.

Boice (1983:66) relates that the parable speaks of the way people are indifferent to the message of the Gospel – how they respond to it. It mentions hell for those entering into “the king’s presence” without appropriate character of Christ-like works backed by faith.

Simonetti (2002:144) purports the parable as representative of present day church. He goes on to say that a “clearer and safer thing to say”, is Jesus’ foetal growth can be a metaphor in much the same way as this parable, being born from the “bridal chamber” of the Virgin “to unite the church to himself.” (Simonetti, 2002:144). I think this is certainly unorthodox but the statement has credence.

Blomberg, C.L., Interpreting the Parables. Apollos (an imprint of InterVarsity Press, Leicester, 1990)
Boice, J.M. The Parables of Jesus. (The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 1983)
Bruner, F.D., Matthew – A Commentary – Volume 2 The Churchbook Matthew 13-28 (Word incorporated, USA, 1990)
Davies, W.D., & Allison, D.C. Jnr., International Critical Commentary (ICC) – The Gospel According to Saint Matthew Volume III (T&T Clark, Scotland, 1997)
DeSilva, D.A., An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation. (InterVarsity, Downers Grove, Illinois, 2004)
Gundry, R. H., Matthew – A Commentary on his handbook for a mixed church under persecution (2nd Ed., Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994)
Hagner, D.A., 33B Word Biblical Commentary – Matthew 14-28 (Eds. Hubbard, D.A., Baker, G.W., Martin, R.P., by Word Incorporated, USA, 1995)
Jones, I.H., The Matthean Parables – A Literary and Historical Commentary (Brill E.J., Netherlands, 1995)
Keener, C.S., A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. (Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan,, 1999)
Muller, M., The theological Interpretation of the Figure of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: Some Principle Features in Matthean Christology, New Testament Studies, (Vol 45:157-173, Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom, 1999)
Simonetti, M., (ed) Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture – New Testament Ib – Matthew 14-28 (General Eds, Oden, T.C. InterVarsity Press, Illinois, 2002)

All referenced Bible verses taken from the NRSV.