New European Commentary


About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

Deeper Commentary

22:1 And Jesus answered and spoke again in parables to them, saying- As often with the Lord's parables, He begins by setting up an expectation (in this case, of joy and fulfilment) which is then dashed by human failure, and turns very unpleasant and indeed calls forth the hardest judgments. The parable is clearly related to that of the wicked husbandmen at the end of chapter 21, and seeks to add more detail and justification for that judgment upon Israel. The feast  can be understood as a betrothal feast, to celebrate the engagement of the Son, rather than speaking of the marriage supper of the Lamb. And yet it could also refer to this, in that this was planned and could have happened far earlier than it finally will do, just as in the previous parable, the time of fruit was ready right from the time of the sending of the first servant.

The parable is clearly quarried from Zephaniah 1:7,8: "The day of the Lord is at hand; for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests. And it shall come to pass... that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel". The context of Zephaniah is his appeal to Judah at Josiah's time (Zeph. 1:1), who had appeared to respond to Josiah's call to repent, but not in their hearts. It was exactly his "princes" who had apparently responded to his appeal for radical reformation (2 Chron. 34:29-32); but in Zeph. 1 they are condemned as insincere. This is clearly seen by the Lord as analagous to Israel having responded to John's attempted reformation- when their hearts were far from it, and eventually they like the Judah of Josiah's day were to be judged and have their city and temple burnt by the Gentiles.

22:2 The kingdom of heaven is likened to a certain king, who made a marriage feast for his son- The parable of the marriage supper is what "the Kingdom of heaven is like". As with so many of Christ's parables, this one too is quarried from the book of Proverbs; in this case Prov.9:2-5, which describes how wisdom makes everything ready for her feast. The food and wine which is there represents the wisdom of God. The Kingdom of God is therefore likened to this supreme feast on the knowledge of God. The Kingdom will therefore be a feast of such things. We love God in this life, but surely we cry out for a greater understanding and appreciation of Him? Do we not cry for wisdom, and lift up our voice for understanding? If we do have this feeling, then we will be supremely motivated to strive to reach that glorious time of true knowledge.

22:3 And sent out his servants- The parable is similar to that of the preceding parable of the wicked husbandmen. These servants are God's "servants the prophets" who in Old Testament times called Israel to repentance and the Kingdom. The term "servants" is used throughout the parable. The servants go again to Israel, and are beaten and killed (:4). Those "other servants" are perhaps the apostles in their witness to Israel after the Lord's death, whose rejection culminated in the burning up of their city of Jerusalem (:7). More "servants" are then urgently sent to bring in anyone willing to say "yes". And they refer to our witness in this age. Yet it is also the "servants" who bind and destroy the rejected (:13). These servants are all "sent", apostello. There is a clear continuity between the witness of the prophets, the apostles and ourselves. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" in the sense that our preaching of Him is in the spirit of the Old Testament prophets (Rev. 19:10). Again we are all encouraged to see ourselves as brethren of the prophets; they were not, as Judaism supposed, some separate group of white faced saints. Our witness is the equivalent of being them in the new Israel. The "servants" who bind the man in condemnation refer in other parables to the Angels. It could be that we too do this work; or it may be that we're being shown that we are not only in a continuum with the Old Testament prophets and 1st century apostles, but are likewise inline with the Angels. Hence an Angel urged the apostle John that He was one with John and also "your brethren the prophets" (Rev. 22:9). We are not alone. We are in a direct line, on a continuum, with Angels, prophets and apostles, the elohim of the new Israel and new age created in Christ.

God's servants (the Old and New Testament prophets - Rev. 2:20;  Acts 2:18;  4:29;  Am. 3:7;  Zech. 1:6) were sent by God "to call them that were bidden to the wedding:  but they would not come" (Matt. 22:3).   The Greek word for "call" being the same translated "bidden" , we have here an example of the interplay between predestination and the calling of God through the Gospel - the word of the prophets/apostles 'called them who were (already) called' in God's purpose.    This class must primarily refer to the Jews.   The refusal to attend the wedding obviously equates with the Jewish rejection of Christ's work.   God pleaded, "I have prepared my dinner", i.e. the Kingdom (Matt. 22:2).   This corresponds with the Kingdom 'coming nigh' to Israel through the first century preaching of the Gospel (Luke 10:9,11) and the primary fulfilment of the Olivet prophecy in the run up to A.D. 70 (Mark 13:29).

To call them that were invited- Literally, 'to call the called'. Israel and in a sense all God's people were called from the foundation of the world. The allusion may be to the way in which people were invited to banquets, gave their agreement to attend, and then a servant was sent to actually take them to the banquet. But we should be aware that the language of 'calling the called' doesn't necessarily mean that there is a list of called ones, established from the beginning of the world, and our preaching is a hit and miss affair, sometimes reaching the 'called' and sometimes not, in which case our words were wasted. 'Calling the called' could equally mean that whoever hears the call is therefore and thereby 'called'. The invitation is to "whomsoever will", and the more people we call, the more are called. The urging of men to respond with the encouragement "whomsoever will..." is hardly appropriate if some cannot respond because they were not 'called' from the beginning, were never on the list. And yet in the bigger picture, there clearly is an element of predestination involved with calling; and Paul references this in Romans as the ultimate example of grace. In the final picture, not all have heard the call. Because God's servants didn't take the call to all, and so for whatever reason, some are not called- and in that is the element of predestination. And yet the parable gives some further insight into this question. The first group of servants 'call the called', but the last group of servants after the burning of Jerusalem are urged to drag in whoever they can find. It's as if in Old Testament times, the appeal was to all within Israel, the called people. But now, all men can be called.

To the marriage feast- An engagement banquet, or the actual wedding? In either case, the principle is established that the Messianic banquet of the Kingdom could have come in Old Testament times; it could have come when the second set of servants [the apostles] made their appeal [in the first century up until the burning of the city in AD70]; and it will come whenever we as the servants of God in this age have finally gathered in enough potential guests. This is the same idea as in the preceding parable, where the harvest was ready, the time had 'drawn near', at the time of every appeal to Israel through the prophets. God's purpose is taught, time and again, to be open-ended and dependant upon Israel's response and our efforts in witness. For when the Gospel has gone to all the world, then shall the end come (24:14). The whole idea of a royal couple being kept waiting, in fact kept waiting for centuries and a few millenia, is shocking and tragic. We feel sorry for them, just as we in a sense feel sorry for the Father and Son. This unexpected delay in the wedding banquet is developed in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in chapter 25. Because of it, they all fell asleep when, according to the allusions to the parable in 1 Thess. 5, they should have stayed awake. It was a huge tragedy and shame all round, if we put the parables together.

But they would not come- The same words in 21:29 of the son who said "I will not" [work in the vineyard] but repented and went to work. The Lord wished to gather Jerusalem's children under His wings to save them from the great fire of destruction coming upon them, but they "would not" (23:37 s.w.). But in what practical way did they not want to come? The same words are used of how the Jews "would not" help their brother with the burden of human failure (23:4), or how the unforgiving debtor "would not" forgive his brother (18:30) and the older brother "would not" go in to the celebration banquet for the returned prodigal (Lk. 15:28). They "would not come" to Jesus in repentance (Jn. 5:40). Their refusal of the invitation to the Messianic banquet, to the Kingdom, was in terms of their attitude to others. Just as if we don't want a part in the church as the body of Christ, we don't want a part in Him. 

22:4 Again- This and the use of the word "other" later in the sentence develops an impression of the King's continued effort with the guests. 

He sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited- People are called to the Kingdom, and yet also called [s.w.] to repentance (9:13) and called to appear at judgment day (20:8). When we hear the call and respond, we begin our journey towards judgment day. That day, therefore, is not just for the baptized, but for any who heard the call and began the journey. The parable and teaching of Luke 14 show that we are those called, and yet we are also those who call others (Lk. 14:10,13). We are to reflect the grace of how we were called by calling others. The Greek kaleo, "call", isn't a passive word when used in the sense of inviting persons. It's fromkeleuo, to command or urge onwards. Our calling of others, and God's calling of us, involves an urging towards response. 

Look, I have made ready my dinner- The obvious unreality of the story is that the dinner sits on the table, as it were, for centuries. But this is indeed the strangeness of God's openness to us. The time has always been ready, if human response and the effort of His servants has been enough. John's mission had been to "prepare" the way for Messiah (3:3 s.w.), through 'preparing' a people for Him (Lk. 1:17,76 s.w.). Although it had indeed been prepared, Israel didn't want it. A unique place in God's Kingdom has been "prepared" for each of us from the foundation of the world (20:23; 25:34 "Them for whom it has been prepared of My Father"; Jn. 14:2 "to prepare a place for you"; 1 Cor. 2:9 "the things which God has prepared for those who love Him"; Heb. 11:16 "He has prepared for them a city"; 1 Pet. 1:5 our salvation is "prepared" for us). The tragedy of the story is that such a wonderful feast had been "prepared"- the same word is found later in :4 "All things are ready" and in :8 "the wedding is ready". Perhaps this helps us understand the otherwise enigmatic words of the Lord to the Jews in Jn. 7:6: "Your time is always ready" (s.w.)- the time of establishment of the Kingdom, the time of the harvest  in the previous parable of the labourers, was always potentially prepared and ready, it just depended upon Israel's acceptance of it.

My oxen and My fatlings are killed- Perhaps a reference to the end of the Mosaic system, or perhaps an intensive plural referring to the one great sacrifice that had been made in the Lord Jesus. "Oxen" or bulls are specifically spoken of as the animals which prefigured the Lord's sacrifice (Heb. 9:13; 10:4 s.w.). "Killed" translates thuo, the word for sacrifice. We could also note that the Greek word translated "prepared" is used about 15 times in the Gospels for the preparation of the last Passover, which was typical of the Lord's death.

And all things are ready- The same word for "prepared". Absolutely all things were prepared for the Messianic banquet, it really could have come in the first century. 

Come to the marriage feast!- "Come" translates deute, which is a summons in the imperative. It's the same word used in "Follow Me" (4:19), "Come unto Me" (11:28; 19:21), "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom" (25:34). The wonder of what has been prepared coupled with the tragedy of it having been refused means that the Father is eager to compel people to accept it. This intense desire of the Father is to be ours as we in our day appeal to men to "come". In no way is God somehow passive and disinterested in human response, even if His apparent silence in the face of the rejection of His Kingdom may appear that way. Behind that apparent silence is an intense desire for our response. "Come unto", using eis, really means 'Come into'. This isn't simply an offer 'for your information', it is a willing desire to compel men to enter into the Kingdom through their response to the Gospel call.

We are on our way to judgment day, and that day is rushing towards us (cp. Lk. 14:31); the hearing of the Gospel is in itself a call to go forth and meet the Lord.

There are ample hints that this parable should also be given some reference to the burning up of Jerusalem in the last days.   The prophetic "servants" of :4 who call Israel to repentance are matched by a singular "servant" in the similar parable in Lk. 14:17. There can be no doubt that such differences are designed. 'Elijah' and his latter-day school of prophets will minister the word to Israel, which would explain the use in the parables of "servant" and "servants" - the group of prophets being led by one particular prophet.

22:5 But they made light of it- The note of tragedy in "But..." mustn't be missed. This is the tragedy of human rejection of the Gospel of the Kingdom- the greatest things are prepared, but they are 'made light of' because the things of this life seem heavier. Israel's making light of the invitation is our warning, for Heb. 2:9 uses the same word here translated "made light": "How shall we escape, if we neglect such a great salvation". Paul uses the same word in urging Timothy not to "neglect" the gifts of potential service which he had been given (1 Tim. 4:14). 

And went their ways- Albeit masked in translation, this one Greek word aperchomai is related to the word erchomai used in :3- "They would not come". Instead of going to the banquet, they went... to their various concerns. Two ways were therefore placed before them- to go the way to the banquet of the Kingdom, or go the ways of worldly cares. Although again concealed in most translations, this is the connection of thought with the unusual word diexodos translated "highways", literally 'the parting of the two ways', in :9. It was there, at the fork between two ways, that the appeal was to be made by the later servants. 

One to his farm- Literally 'this one to his farm, this one to his trading'. We are thus invited to imagine these characters. Maybe the Lord was nodding His head towards passers by as He spoke these words. Banquets began in the evening [hence the man thrown out of it was thrown out into darkness, :13], and so this apparent element of unreality makes us interpret the Lord as meaning that in their minds they went off to their various secular concerns. For they would hardly be going off to those things in the evening. The farmer was presumably living at his farm when the servant came to take him to the banquet, so this going to his farm must be interpretted psychologically. Time and again we must remember that John's message, which had been primarily about the Lord and the need for repentance (Acts 19:4) had enjoyed amazing respone. But it was all surface level response- even the baptisms. In their hearts, people made light of it and went off in their secular worries and concerns. This has biting relevance to us, who can be fully and positively engaged with the call to the Kingdom as we consider it in reading about it or listening to it preached in church. But that enthusiastic agreement with the message can so quickly and easily be displaced by the cares of this world. The Lord's parable of the sower was initially His commentary upon how the people had responded to John's message about Him and the Kingdom, but the cares of the world and other factors soon choked the growth of that seed.

Another to his business- Again, trading isn't done in the evening, which was when the banquet would have begun. The only other time the Lord uses this idea of trading or 'merchant-ing' in the Gospels is in speaking of the merchant man who sold up all he had in order to buy the pearl of great price, and thus quit his trading (13:45). The parable is alluding to the way in which invitations were sent out, accepted, and then a servant came to escort the invited person to the banquet. This generation had accepted the invitation in that they had accepted John's preaching. But when it came to actually entering the Kingdom, they were instead dominated by the cares of secular life. And it is exactly this, rather than any logical or intellectual difficulty in accepting the message, which is the real reason people turn down the invitation. "They made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise" would imply that there was a period of crazy addiction to materialism among Jewry between the crucifixion and A.D. 70.   This is confirmed by the epistles to the Jewish believers, notably James and Peter; it also finds a counterpart in our present 'last days'.

22:6 While the rest seized his servants- "Took /seized" means to lay hands on by force, and has just been used about the Jews' desire to arrest the Lord (21:46 "They sought to lay hands on Him"). And it's used in that connection when they did finally 'take' Him to death (26:4,48,50,55,57). 

Treated them shamefully- Again, the very word used about the Lord's final sufferings: "He shall be treated shamefully" (Lk. 18:32). The point is, that the Lord's final crucifixion sufferings were to be shared by His people as they took His appeal to the Jews. Paul seems to have grasped this, for he uses this same word in precisely this context: "We were shamefully treated" by the Jews when preaching the Gospel to them (1 Thess. 2:2; Acts 14:5). Paul saw himself in the parables- just as we should. Paul describes himself as having been “shamefully entreated” when he brought the Gospel to Philippi (1 Thess. 2:2)- using the Greek word used in Mt. 22:6 concerning how the messengers sent to the vineyard were “entreated spitefully”. And maybe Paul was consciously aware that the Lord Himself had spoken of how He would be “spitefully entreated” (Lk. 18:32) during His final sufferings. Hence Paul could speak of filling up the measure of Christ’s sufferings through what he suffered whilst preaching Christ’s Gospel (Col. 1:24).

And killed them- To put to death, the same word used about the Lord's crucifixion (16:21; 17:23; 21:38). The killing or slaying [s.w.] of the Son sent to the vineyard in 21:39 was to be repeated in the slaying of the first century preachers of the Gospel. Even today, our sufferings for preaching the Gospel are a share in the Lord's crucifixion sufferings.

The question arises: Why the extreme treatment of the servants by those invited, and why does the King react so devastatingly in destroying their entire city? Marriages of King's sons were political statements. Often the King's son would be pronounced as heir to the throne when he got married. The guests were invited in order to test their political loyalty to the King and his son. To refuse an invitation to a King's banquet was therefore highly significant- it was tantamount to a declaration of disloyalty. Even worse was to accept it, to proclaim loyalty to him and his son, and yet in practice not follow through with that declaration of loyalty. Israel's widespread acceptance of John, whose message was largely about Jesus (Acts 19:4), had been a declaration of loyalty to God and His Son. To not take it seriously in practice and to in fact turn against His Son was therefore the ultimate betrayal. This explains the King's anger, the wrath of God against Israel as a whole.

The persecution of the prophets connects with the same thing happening in Rev. 11, where the two witnesses make a similar last-minute appeal amidst great opposition.  We have commented elsewhere how the true prophets within Jerusalem at the time of the Babylonian invasion represented the Elijah ministry - and they too were persecuted.   The servants were "entreated spitefully" (Mt. 22:6), as was our Lord on the cross (Luke 18:32). The righteous fellowship Christ's sufferings during the tribulation. The idea of persecuted servants occurs again in Rev. 11:18; 19:2, both of which passages have an application to latter-day persecution.

22:7- see on 22:11.
When the king heard- AV. When the news came to His ears. This may be just the furniture of the parable, or it may reflect the Old Testament impression given that God has a mechanism whereby He is informed of happenings on earth, e.g. of the wickedness of Sodom or the building of the tower of Babel. That mechanism presumably involves the Angels. "When the king heard thereof" implies that as soon as Israel's rejection of Christ came to God's notice, "he sent forth his armies... and burned up their city". This is similar language to Gen. 6:12; 11:5 and 18:21 concerning God 'noticing' man's wickedness at the time of the flood, Babel and Sodom.   The judgments with which He reacted on those occasions were typical of the second coming. As Babylon burnt Jerusalem with fire, so it seems certain from many other prophetic references that literal fire will be used by Israel's enemies to inflict her final punishment. The Arab armies will therefore be those of God and Christ, as were those of Israel's earlier Arab invaders. They are called 'sanctified' in Joel 3:9 (A.V. mg.), i.e. 'separated unto' God's specific purpose in punishing Israel.

The King was angry- "Wrath [s.w.] upon this people" was what happened in AD70 (Lk. 21:23). New Testament references to the wrath of God are often specifically about His wrath with Israel for rejecting His Kingdom and His Son. Of particular interest is Eph. 2:3, where Paul writes of how he had been one of those who were "by nature the children of wrath". I suggest this refers to his being part of the generation of Jews who had rejected the Son of God; but now Paul could rejoice that God has "delivered us from the wrath to come" in AD70 (1 Thess. 1:10). In 1 Thess. 2:16 he specifically defines that "wrath" as God's wrath upon Israel. The fact he speaks of this as a past status which he had now come out of would make it hard to interpret this as any global statement about what it means to be human. I don't think this passage means that the wrath of God is upon every bearer of human nature. God's own Son had human nature but the wrath of God was not upon Him. God's wrath comes upon "the children of disobedience" (Eph. 5:6). To be a child of wrath therefore has no reference to physical birth, but is parallel to being a child of disobedience.

And he sent- A reference to the common Old Testament concept of the court of Heaven, whereby God is presented as reviewing evidence and sending out His Angels, His "hosts", in response. Those Heavenly hosts have hosts of soldiers on earth which they can move and use as they wish. 

His armies- The Roman armies were God's armies, just as the Babylonians had been. Josephus appealed to the Jews in Jerusalem in AD70 in these terms: "It is God, therefore, it is God Himself who is bringing on this fire, to purge that city and temple by means of the Romans, and is going to pluck up this city, which is full of your pollutions" (The Jewish War 6.2.1). The Romans being described as “his armies" connects with Dan. 9:26, where they are spoken of as "the people of the prince" - Jesus. We must take the lesson that we can be strongly used by God, but this is no guarantee at all that we are His people.

And destroyed those murderers- Using the word for "destroy" which the Jews had just used in 21:41, saying in response to the parable of the wicked labourers that they should indeed by "destroyed". Out of their own mouths they were to be judged. The 'destruction' of the Jews for persecuting and killing the Lord Jesus and His apostles was in AD70, when their city was burned up. But the same word is that used in John when the Lord taught that those who believed in Him would not "perish" or be destroyed (Jn. 3:15,16; 10:28). Whatever else may be referred to in this teaching, it could also have simply meant in the first context that those Jews who believed in Christ would not be destroyed in the destruction of the Jewish system in AD70. The same word is used by Peter in predicting the perishing / destruction of the Jewish 'heavens and earth' in AD70 (2 Pet. 3:6,9). This destruction, however, was not going to touch those who were in Christ. They would not "perish" or be destroyed. For in the terms of the parable, they were not the murderers.

And burnt their city- The burning of Jerusalem in AD70. The Roman soldiers who actually did this were directly moved and controlled by God to do so. Stephen used the same word when accusing the Jews of being Christ's "betrayers and murderers" (Acts 7:52).   The Romans being described as “his armies" connects with Dan. 9:26, where they are spoken of as "the people of the prince" - Jesus.  

22:8 Then he said to his servants- We are meant to imagine how they felt. The previous servants had been at best ignored, others beaten and killed. And now... it was for them to go out with the same message? We too should not fail to see the cost involved in the work of the Gospel, for we stand in direct continuum with the persecuted prophets and preachers who have gone before us. It may even be that by following the Lord's instructions to persuade all men, bad and good, to enter the Kingdom, simply on the basis of them saying 'yes', we will suffer isolation and rejection from our own brethren. And that too would be a sharing in His crucifixion sufferings, and taking our place in the sufferings of the Gospel. The work of the Gospel, if done properly, can never ultimately be 'fun' or purely pleasurable. 

The wedding is ready...- This statement seems so obvious it doesn't need to be made. But it is made in order to motivate the servants in their efforts to get at least someone somewhere to say "yes". They were being asked to do something most unusual- to just grab anyone and urge them to come in to a King's banquet without a prior invitation and agreement, as was the norm. This appeal to secular people without the prior invitation was so wonderful and unusual that the very unusualness of it would be hard for both preacher and listener to accept. Surely there was a catch somewhere... And so often when we present the things of the Kingdom to people, their honest response is that 'Can that really be... it sounds just too fantastic'. This is the difficulty with the level and depth of grace we are asked to believe in and share. It is so unusual and out of our experience that we find it hard to believe for real. 

But they that were invited were not worthy- John's appeal had been to bring forth fruit "worthy" [s.w.] of repentance (Lk. 3:8). They had initially agreed to this, but hadn't come up with the fruit. Paul surely had this part of the parable in mind when he turned away from preaching to the Jews and went to the Gentiles, because the Jews had "judged [themselves] unworthy [s.w.] of everlasting life" (Acts 13:46). 

The parable of the marriage feast highlights the tragedy of Jewish rejection of what could have been theirs. There will be an ever-increasingly vigorous preaching campaign by the "servants", seeing that “they which were bidden were not worthy" (Mt. 22:8) - the Greek perhaps implying not enough numerically.   As a result of this preaching, "the wedding was furnished ('filled' - numerically) with guests" (Mt. 22:10).   This indicates that in some ways, God does work to a number. Once the required number of converts is made, then the supper can begin. Their appeal being to "the poor... maimed... halt and... blind" suggests that the marginal and desperate within society will be those who respond- and this is happening right now in the triumphant progress of preaching in our day. The servants are sent "into the highways" (Mt. 22:9), one possible meaning of the Greek is 'a market square'.   This must be designed to recall the parable of the labourers standing idle in the market place at the 11th hour (Mt. 20:6,7).   The very short probation of those 11th hour workers will match that of the latter-day converts. And again, it was the old and weak who nobody wanted to hire. See on 28:20.

22:9 Therefore, go- Leading up to “go therefore and teach all nations”.

To the main roads- AV "Highways". See on :5 Went their ways. The RV offers: "unto the partings of the highways”. The point from which He foresaw us making our appeal was a fork in the road. We are to appeal to men and women with the message that there is no third road; that it truly is a case of believe or perish. The art of preaching seems to be to bring people to perceive that they stand at a fork in their life's journey, they can take the road to the Kingdom or the road of temporary absorption in the things of this life. The point from which He foresaw us making our appeal was a fork in the road. We are to appeal to men and women with the message that there is no third road; that it truly is a case of believe or perish. Diexodos can also be understood as the place of crossing the city boundaries, out into the countryside- a possible hint at taking the invitation beyond Jerusalem, for the work of the Gospel was to begin in Jerusalem and spread outwards (Lk. 24:47).

Another possible meaning for the term is 'a market square'. This would then be designed to recall the parable of the labourers standing idle in the market place at the 11th hour (Mt. 20:6,7). In the Septuagint this word diexodos describes "the issues from death" (Ps. 68:20), the waters of death (2 Kings 2:21), "rivers of water" (Ps. 1:3), "watersprings" (Ps. 107:35). If this usage was in the Lord's mind [and I am unsure it definitely was], then the idea would be that people were to be called from their seeking of water to seeking the water of life eternal; to exchange their secular passions and concerns for a concern about eternity.

And as many as- The phrase could possibly imply that there was a specific number that had to be found and invited. That certainly is the teaching of the parable overall. Therefore the more people we invite, the quicker the wedding begins. The repetition of the phrase in :10 suggests that the servants were obedient to the instruction, strange as it was- to scrap the idea of a guest list and invite people from the street, bad or good, to a royal banquet which was getting cold on the table, without any pre-invitation or agreement to attend having been given by the people. 

You shall find, invite them to the marriage feast- The Lord Jesus is described as “finding” His people- the lost sheep, lost son, the idle workers in the marketplace (Mt. 20:6; Lk. 15:5,6,8,9); and yet He sends us out to “find” [s.w.] those who are to be invited into His Kingdom, just as the disciples ‘found’ fish when they obeyed the Lord’s commission to fish (Jn. 21:6). We do the Lord’s work for Him in this sense. And yet of course people “find” the narrow way themselves, they “find” the treasure and pearl of the Gospel (Mt. 7:14; 13:44,46); but only because we have gone out and ‘found’ them. The Lord’s finding of us leads to us doing His work in finding others for Him and on His behalf. Thus Jesus “finds” Philip, and Philip’s response is to go and ‘find’ Nathanael (Jn. 1:43,45). And so it must be ours too. Just as the disciples ‘found’ fish when they obeyed the Lord’s commission to fish (Jn. 21:6). We do the Lord’s work for Him in this sense. 

It was totally scandalous that the majority of guests refused an invitation by the King (Mt. 22:9; Lk. 14:21-23), and that whilst the dinner was cold on the table, a desperately urgent expedition was sent to get people to come in and eat it. This is the urgency of our Gospel proclamation. And no King or wealthy man would really invite riff-raff off the street into his party; yet this is the wonder of God’s grace in calling us through the Gospel. And such is the tragedy of humanity's rejection of the Gospel. To reject a royal invitation was tantamount to rejecting a royal command. It was unheard of in the time of Jesus. Yet people just don't perceive the honour of being invited by the King. Notice too how it is the King Himself who makes all the arrangements- not, as the initial hearers would have expected, a senior steward or his wife. But the King Himself. And this reflects the extraordinary involvement of God Almighty in personally inviting each of us to fellowship with Him, through the call of the Gospel. Likewise that all the girls should fall asleep whilst awaiting the bridegroom (Mt. 25:5) is unusual- they must have been a pretty lazy, switched off bunch.

22:10 And those servants went out into the highways- The same word in Mk. 16:20 "They went out and preached everywhere", just as the sower "went out" to sow, with varying response (Lk. 8:5 s.w.). 

And gathered together- Just as the net in the sea of nations gathered together fish "of every kind" (Mt. 13:47 s.w.)- here they are called "both bad and good". The suggestion may be that one intention of preaching is to gather people together into one. Hence the language of gathering together. The figure of the Lord's servants gathering together His called ones is exactly the figure of the gathering to the final judgment (s.w. Mt. 13:30; 25:32). By inviting people to Christ we are inviting them to the day of judgment. Knowledge of the Gospel thereby brings responsibility to the day of judgment. The moment we respond, we begin our journey to judgment. The Lord seems to have developed the thought of this parable in His later teaching in 25:35,38, where the same Greek word translated "gathered together" is translated 'to take in'; the Lord said that those who gathered together or took in a stranger had accepted Him, and those who refused to do so had rejected Him personally. 'Stranger' was understood to refer to a Gentile. The Lord might be saying that our gathering in of the Gentiles, the strangers, the despised, is related to our salvation; and if the early Jewish believers refused to gather in the Gentiles, then the Lord would take that as a personal rejection of Him. Those who refuse to gather in others because they consider them not to know enough or to not be appropriate material may well be under this threat of condemnation by the Lord. 

All as many as they found- The specific use of the word "all" here adds nothing, surely, unless the idea is that there is a specific number who must "all" be gathered to the banquet. Rom. 11:25 says this in so many words, in talking of how the 'full number of the Gentiles' must "come in"- ex-erchomai. The same word erchomai is used in 22:3 about how the invited would not "come". 

Both bad and good
- This is quite radical for many Christian preachers today. There was not to be any thought about whether the persons being brought to the banquet were bad or good. The focus was upon simply persuading them to come in, to say yes to the most unusual invitation. Just as the servants of an earlier parable were told not to worry about dividing the wheat from the weeds, so here, the servants were not to worry about the impressions they had about the worthiness or sincerity of people. Their job was to persuade them to say 'yes' and to come on in. So much outreach today is tacitly concerned with what kind of person is being brought in to the community of believers. And even more concern is expressed about who exactly sits at the Lord's table. But according to this parable, the general public are to be encouraged to say "yes" to the Kingdom invitation, and come in and sit at the banquet table, the breaking of bread. Only then, once they are sitting there, does the Lord come and judge who is bad and good. The implication could possibly be that He comes to inspect us at the breaking of bread, both mystically every time we break bread, and literally in that His coming may be at the breaking of bread.

And the wedding was filled with guests-When the wedding is “filled with guests” as a result of the final appeal to absolutely all men, ‘all you can see / perceive’, then the wedding starts (Mt. 22:9,10 Gk.). “Filled” translates pletho, which carries the sense of being filled up. When the full number of guests are seated, when a certain number of true converts to the Kingdom feast have been made, then the King comes in, and the wedding starts. This is what imbues our latter day witness with such a sense of urgency. Every baptism or invitation to the Kingdom could be the last. "They which were bidden were not worthy" (:8) - the Greek could imply not enough numerically.   This indicates that in some ways, God does work to a number.   Whilst there may be reference here to an appeal to Gentiles, the implication is that it will be to Jews in particular.   The servants go "into the streets and lanes of the city" (Lk. 14:21), i.e. Jerusalem.    

"Guests" are literally, recliners at the table. The word is usually translated like this in its 14 occurrences in the New Testament. In a sense, the banquet had begun- even before the King entered to review the guests. Just as the Kingdom experience, crystallized and epitomized in the breaking of bread, has begun for all who respond. Although this is no guarantee of ultimate acceptance by the King. The contrast between recliners at table and servants is brought out in Lk. 22:27: "For which is greater, he that reclines at table [s.w. "guest"], or he that serves? Is not he that reclines at table?". In the parable, we are asked to identify ourselves with the servants. Our audience are the recliners at table. In the context of preaching, of bringing people in to the banquet, we are to consider our audience greater than us and to approach them with every respect. Our witness to them, therefore, is a serving of them; not a showing off to them of our superior Bible knowledge, the superiority of our positions over theirs.  

According to Luke's version of an earlier telling of the parable [with some differences], the King Himself invited beggars into His feast. This also stands out as strange... what kind of king is this? And what fortunate beggars. Immediately, we have the lesson powerfully brought home to us. And why ever would a guest refuse the wedding garment offered to him on entry to the feast (Mt. 22:11)? The element of unreality in the story makes it stand out so clearly. And yet ask people why they are not baptized, why they are refusing the righteous robes of Christ, the call of the Gospel... and it is anything from clear and obvious to them. The scandal of the parable hasn't struck them. And there's another strange element to the story. Whilst the supper is still getting cold, the King sends off a military expedition (Mt. 22:7,8), but this is incidental to his desire to get on with the feast with his guests. Surely the message is that what is all important for the Father and Son is our response to their invitation, our desire to be at that feast, our turning up there- and the punishment of the wicked is not that significant on their agenda, even though it has to be done.

22:11 But when the king entered to see the guests- The same words used about the Lord's 'coming in' to Jerusalem and looking around the temple, in His parody of a triumphant entry (21:10,12). This was the immediate context of this parable, and the point was that He had come to judge Israel and found them unworthy.  

He saw there- We are set up by the story line to expect that the King will question "the bad" out of the "both bad and good" which have been gathered. But instead He focuses upon the lack of a wedding garment. Banquets functioned on the basis of the guests arriving, accompanied by a servant, who then gave them a wedding garment, which they wore. This man obviously thought that his clothes were good enough, and he didn't need the wedding garment offered. This man would likely have been in what appeared to be "the good" category, the type who was well dressed and apparently appropriate for invitation to a King's banquet. It was exactly those types who will be ultimately rejected from the Kingdom banquet, because self righteousness, a refusal to be clothed in the white garment of imputed righteousness, is far worse than being an immoral street person. 

A man who was not wearing a wedding-garment- Literally 'not clothed with the wedding clothing'. We are to 'put on' [s.w.] Christ; and "as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27). But baptism only 'works' if we believe in what it represents- our clothing with His righteousness by the imputation of righteousness to us. Clearly enough, before the coming of the King, those without a wedding garment [obtained through faith and baptism] are sitting in the same place as those who have one. They sit at the same table- the division is only made by the Lord’s coming.

22:12 And he said to him: Friend- Another element of unreality, because a King would hardly address a street person as "Friend". But this is how close the King of the Universe feels to any who have at least responded to the call, even if they have to be rejected. The Lord foretells the spiritual culture which He will show even to the rejected, when He mentions how He will call the rejected "friend" (Mt. 22:12), using the same word as He used about Judas (Mt. 26:50). Vine describes it as a word meaning "comrade, companion, a term of kindly address expressing comradeship". If this is how the Lord will address those who have crucified Him afresh- surely there is hope, abundant hope, for us. The suggestion is that there are Judases amongst us, although we can't identify them (and shouldn't try), just as the disciples couldn't. The evil servant who (in Christ's eyes) beat his brethren was a hypocrite, he didn't appear to men to be like that (Mt. 24:48-51); he was only cut asunder, revealed for who he was, at the judgment. He appeared to be an ecclesial elder who loved the flock.  

How did you come  in here without a wedding-garment?- Obviously a rhetorical question, rather like God's question to Adam: "Where are you?". The King knew. The purpose of the day of judgment is to explain to the rejected why they have been rejected- and it is this realization which is itself the punishment, for it will elicit from them weeping and gnashing of teeth in anger with themselves. Jude 12 speaks of false believers as being spots marring the love feast. There will be such persons at the breaking of bread meetings of the believers, but this parable teaches that it is the King who reveals and removes them, at the last day. It is our duty to simply gather men and women into the Kingdom, both bad and good, just as the net gathers both bad and good fish, but they are only separated from each other when the judgment sits at the last day.

Judgment day is not only for our personal education and humbling. It is for the enlightenment of us all as a community, in that there is fair evidence that in some sense the process of judgment will be public, and all the believers will see the true characteristics of those with whom they fellowshipped in this life. Thus the unworthy will be revealed as being without a wedding garment, and the faithful will see him (for the first time) as walking naked and in shame (Mt. 22:11; Rev. 16:15).

And he was speechless- Other pictures of the rejected describe them as having plenty to say in self-justification ("When did we see you...", 25:44, "You are a hard man", Lk. 19:22). But in this picture, they are speechless. It's possible to put the various pictures of the judgment together and create a chronological impression of them initially knocking on the door pleading for acceptance, justifying themselves, and then being left speechless in the ultimate darkness and loneliness. Or it could be that different ones of the condemned respond in different ways, some with words, some in silence.
22:13 ServantsIn the Lord's other parables, it's the Angels who carry out he condemnation of the rejected. But in this parable, the prophets, Angels, apostles and Christian preachers are all called "servants", encouraging us to see ourselves as of equal significance and meaning in God's Kingdom plan as the other servants.

22:13 Then the king said to the servants: Bind him hand and foot- It is the reapers, who represent the Angels (13:39), who bind the rejected for destruction in 13:30. The 'binding' suggests that the rejected will desperately want to be in the Kingdom, to the point they would even forcibly push their way in. Nobody will be indifferent at the last day; all will want more than anything to be in the Kingdom. And this should be our view now.

And throw him- The Lord uses this picture three times, using the same words for 'casting out' and 'darkness' (8:12; 25:30). The implication is that these people were within the light of the Kingdom banquet, and then are taken out of it into the darkness outside. This is why having a positive feel and sense about our presence amongst God's people is not of itself any guarantee of our final salvation; for some will be ejected from that into the darkness of condemnation. 

The language used here for the condemnation of the rejected ['bind... take away... cast away'] is also used about the Lord's final sufferings and death. He too was bound (s.w. 27:2; Jn. 18:24; and the only other Gospel reference to being bound hand and foot is to the dead Lazarus in Jn. 11:44, as the term implied 'death'). 'Taken away' translates the same Greek word used about the 'taking up' of the cross (16:24; 27:32) and the cry 'Away with Him [to the cross]!' in Jn. 19:15. 'Cast away / out' is the same word used to describe how the wicked husbandmen killed and then 'cast out' the Son, representative of the Lord Jesus (21:39); it is also used of how "the prince of this world" was to be 'cast out' at the crucifixion (Jn. 12:31). Whether or not that prince refers to the Lord Jesus is an open question, however.  The 'outer darkness' would then connect with the darkness at the crucifixion, and the "weeping" with the weeping for the death and suffering of Christ (s.w. Mk. 16:10; Lk. 23:28; Jn. 16:20). Why this similarity between the language of the Lord's death, and that of condemnation? Surely because on the cross, the Lord was treated as if He were a condemned sinner, even though He personally never sinned. So close was His identity with sinners and their condemnation. He can identify, therefore, even with the rejected; He is not like a human judge, who hands down punishments which he has nowhere near experienced himself. The Lord carefully designed His parables and teachings; their various elements are clearly intended to dovetail with each other. It is therefore no accident that He uses the same language for His condemnation to death and the condemnation of the wicked at the last day. He consciously identified with them. 

Outside into the darkness , where there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth- The rejected are described as being cast into outer darkness. This is even an Old Testament concept: "Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in the blackest darkness" (Prov. 20:20 RV). The rejected will be "pursued into darkness" (Nah. 1:8 RV). It is doubtful whether this darkness is literal, unless there will be a specific geographical location into which they are driven which is totally dark. Mt. 22:13 might imply this by saying that "there", in the darkness into which the rejected are cast, there will be weeping. It perhaps more implies a depression so deep that everything loses its colour. There is no point in existence, no meaning to anything. It could be that "darkness" is to be understood as blindness, which is how it is sometimes used in Scripture. "The eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall have no way to flee. And their hope shall be the giving up of the spirit" (Job 11:20 RV). This is all the language of the final judgment. They will seek death and hope for it, because existence in the state of condemnation is simply unbearable. But remember that outside of Christ, mankind is likewise in such an unbearable state, if only he will perceive it. He is even now in a figurative furnace of fire.

22:14- see on 24:5.
For many are called but few chosen- When the Lord said that many are called but few chosen, He was actually alluding to a well known saying from 4 Ezra 8:3: “Many have been created, but few shall be saved”. He was as it were raising the bar. It was to be a minority of those called, not just a minority of all creation, who were to be saved. In the context of the parable, the servants call many; but only relatively few are chosen, in that few chose to really accept the gift of imputed righteousness in the garment of Christ. Although only one such person is detailed in the parable, this final observation could imply that the majority of those invited will be ejected. The language of 'chosen' is maybe used to emphasize that it is our duty to call people into the banquet; it is not for us to choose who will ultimately be accepted, because that is not our work.

22:15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted- The Greek suggests they went away from Him and held a conference. They found strength in numbers; we wonder how many were individually convicted of their position.

How they might trap him in his talk- The same word used of how they were to be entangled in condemnation (Lk. 21:35; Rom. 11:9). As they treated the Lord, so they were treated. Our attitude to Him is in a way our attitude to ourselves and our eternal destiny.

22:16  And they sent to him their disciples- The use of apostello ["sent out"] and mathetes ["disciples"] obviously recalls the use of these words concerning the Lord sending out His disciples. Just as the kingdoms of Babylon and Assyria are described in terms of God's Kingdom, thus making them anti-Kingdoms of God and their leaders antiChrists, so the Jewish system of the first century was a parody of God's Kingdom as it was exemplified in the Lord and His group of followers. 

Along with the Herodians
- The Pharisees and Herodians were sworn enemies. Herod was anathema to the Pharisees, who saw him as a false Jew and some kind of antiChrist figure. But a theme of the Lord's judgment and death was that His enemies were united together by a common hatred of Him.

Saying: Teacher. We know that you are true- Lk. 20:21 adds that they also said at this point: "You say and teach rightly", Gk. orthos, from whence 'orthodox'. They were thereby trying to lead Him to make a right wing, conservative answer, namely, that tribute should be given to God and not Caesar. And then the Herodians could legally swoop upon Him and have Him arrested for disloyalty to the empire. 

And teach the way of God in truth- John the Baptist had attempted to prepare the way or path over which God's glory in Messiah could come to Zion. The only other occurrence of "the way of God" is when we read that Apollos, who knew only John's teaching, had to have "the way of God", i.e. John's message about the way, explained more fully to him (Acts 18:26). It may be that John had been so unworldly that he had not paid tribute to Caesar, or at least, he had been interpretted that way; and so now the Pharisees were commenting that if the Lord truly upheld John's teaching, then what was his answer about paying the tribute money? Because it was perceived, at very least, that John had advocated not paying it.

And care not for anyone- That was, in a sense, the impression which people took of Jesus. The same words and accusation about His not caring for people are to be found on the lips of the disciples, in the same words (Mk. 4:38 "Don't you care that we perish?"; Martha thought the Lord 'didn't care' that she was serving alone, Lk. 10:40). In reality, it was the hireling who cared not for the sheep (Jn. 10:13 s.w.), and the Lord was the one who cared for them so much that He died for them. That the most caring man of all time and space could be so misunderstood, even by His closest followers, is encouragement to us when we feel so globally misunderstood. We are thereby fellowshipping part of the Lord's sufferings and existential loneliness. 

For you regard not the person of men- This again was an appeal to Jewish orthodoxy, whereby the righteous Jew was supposed to be obedient to God regardless of what others thought. They were trying to lead the Lord into a position whereby He said 'No' to the question about giving the tribute money. And the Herodians were ready to pounce on Him if He did. We can reconstruct how the Pharisees and Herodians worked together in this; the Pharisees were trying to lead the Lord by a path of theology and logic to a position whereby He denied the need to pay tribute- and then Herod's supporters could pounce on Him. The verisimilitude and internal agreement of the record is again strong encouragement to accept this as the inspired word of God, recording he actual words spoken rather than giving a mere summary or imagination of them from a distance of time and space.

22:17 Tell us therefore, what you think- If all the flattering things they had said in :16 were indeed true, then what on this basis was His view of the tribute money?

Is it lawful- This was purposefully vague, because they didn't clarify whether they meant the law of Moses or that of Rome. This was part of the trap. If the Lord said it was lawful according to Roman law, then they could accuse Him of breaking the law of Moses. If He said it was lawful according to the Law of Moses, and therefore that law must surely be obeyed, then He was breaking the law of Rome. But the Lord majestically rises above the trap, by (as usual) taking the whole issue to a far higher level.

To give tribute to Caesar, or not?- The word translated "tribute" was used by the Jews for the poll tax of Ex. 30:12-16; the argument was that this should be paid to the temple and not to Gentiles. By pushing the Lord for a yes / no answer, they thought they would force Him into an untenable position. Judas of Galilee had agitated about not paying the tribute money to the Romans (Acts 5:37) and had been executed for this in around AD6, in recent memory. The Lord as always appealed to higher principle- if it has Caesar's image, then give it to him; but what has God's image, your own body, then give it to God. The giving of our entire person to God made paying an annual tax to the temple seem cheap and irrelevant.

22:18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness and said: Why do you test me?- The wickedness could be their hypocrisy, which the Lord goes on to comment upon. But their "wickedness" could refer to their personal sins, and because in that moment the Lord perceived those sins, He thereby perceived their hypocrisy and therefore challenged them about their hypocrisy. He may have been given that perception of their sins by some flash of Divine insight, or it could be that His supreme sensitivity to people led Him to imagine correctly the kind of stuff going on in their secret lives. 

You hypocrites!- In what were they hypocritical in this matter? Perhaps they quietly paid the tribute money? Or perhaps it was because in order to answer the question, the Lord made them bring the coin through the temple courts, thus breaking their own laws- see on 22:19 Shew me... they brought. They should've been more concerned about the huge gap between their professions and their practice, rather than focusing upon finding error in another. And so it is to this day- fault finding in others over religious matters typically hides serious hypocrisy, the concern with personal sin is transferred into concern about others' sin. Our sense we ought to be self-examining is converted into an examination of others.

22:19 Show me the tribute money. And they brought to him a denarius- The Pharisees claimed that pagan coinage should not be brought into the temple courts. This is why the coin had to be brought to the Lord. By so doing, the Lord was purposefully provoking the Pharisees; likely the Herodians (:16) brought it, not the Pharisees. In any case, we see yet another powerful evidence that the historical records of the Gospels are true to the very smallest detail.

The tribute money had the inscription Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti Filius Augustus Pontifex Maximus- “Tiberius Caesar, august son of the divine Augustus, High Priest”. Pedants would’ve quickly assumed that such blasphemous language and appropriation of titles appropriate to the Lord Jesus would mean that such coinage should not be used, nor should such tribute be paid to any man on this basis. But the Lord saw a bigger picture. He was quite OK with such token behaviours, but the far bigger issue was giving to God our own bodies and lives which bear His image.

 The coin bore an image which strict Jews considered blasphemous, denoting Tiberius as son of God, the divine Augustus. The Lord doesn’t react to this as they expected – He makes no comment upon the blasphemy. He lets it go, but insists upon a higher principle. ‘If this is what Caesar demands, well give it to him; but give what has the image of God, i.e. yourself, to God’. He didn’t say ‘Don’t touch the coins, they bear false doctrine, to pay the tax could make it appear you are going along with a blasphemous claim’. Yet some would say that we must avoid touching anything that might appear to be false or lead to a false implication [our endless arguments over Bible versions and words of hymns are all proof of this]. The Lord wasn’t like that. He lived life as it is and as it was, and re-focused the attention of men upon that which is essential, and away from the minutiae. Staring each of us in the face is our own body, fashioned in God’s image – and thereby the most powerful imperative, to give it over to God. Yet instead God’s people preferred to ignore this and argue over the possible implication of giving a coin to Caesar because there was a false message on it. Morally and dialectically the Lord had defeated His questioners; and yet still they would not see the bigger and altogether more vital picture which He presented them with.

22:20 And he said to them: Whose is this image and superscription?- He was setting them up for His point that whatever bears God's image and superscription is to be given to Him (:21); and that refers to our body and whole lives. We have His signature on us; perhaps the Lord had in mind by this the idea that Israel were God's covenant people, His servants bearing His marks.

22:21 They said to him: Caesar's. He then said to them: Therefore give to Caesar- The Jews were looking for immediate deliverance from Caesar. The Lord's parody of a triumphal entry into Jerusalem was designed to show that He was not bringing that kind of a Kingdom, that sort of salvation. By saying that tribute must indeed be rendered to Caesar, He was further dashing their Messianic hopes concerning Him, and further demonstrating that He was not the Messiah they were looking for. Thus He was consciously bringing about a situation whereby His popularity was turned into hatred, because of the whole psychology of dashed expectations making love turn to hate. The accusation that "We found this fellow... forbidding to give tribute to Caesar" (Lk. 23:2) was so utterly untrue.

The things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's- What bears God's image, which is our whole body and mind (Gen. 1:26), is to be given to God. We have God's superscription written upon us, moreso if we are in Christ (Rev. 3:12; 7:3; 14:1). "It is he that hath made us, and [therefore] we are his" (Ps. 100 RV). We must be His in practice because He is our creator. So it is not that we merely believe in creation rather than evolution; more than this, such belief in creation must elicit a life given over to that creator.

The things which are God's are to be 'rendered' to Him. The Greek word means to pay back, to return; even giving our very bodies only giving back what He has given us.  The same word had been used recently by the Lord in teaching that we have a huge debt to God which must be 'rendered' or paid back to Him (Mt. 18:25,26,28). We can read the Lord's words here as meaning that concerns about pedantic issues relating to coinage are irrelevant compared to the paramount issue- that we owe God everything. This would explain why the Lord says this after having accused them of being hypocrites, having perceived the sin they were involved with (see on :18). Because we are created in God's image, the structure of our very bodies is an imperative to give ourselves totally to His cause (Mt. 22:19-21). Whatever bears God's image- i.e. our very bodies- must be given to Him. "It is he that hath made us, and [therefore] we are his" (Ps. 100:3 RV). We must be His in practice because He is our creator. So it is not that we merely believe in creation rather than evolution; more than this, such belief in creation must elicit a life given over to that creator.

22:22 And when they heard it, they marvelled and left him and went away- The record is making a clear connection back to the use of the same word in the preceding parable, where the Jews "went their way" (:5) having been invited to the banquet, off to their immediate concerns. The Lord had challenged them to give themselves to God, seeing they were made in His image, and stop worrying about petty issues such as the writing on a coin. This challenge was another form of the invitation to the banquet. They perceived what He was saying- for they "marvelled". Just as the Jews heard the invitation to the banquet. But they went their way- and that way was the way to crucifying the Lord, killing the messenger of God. Going that evil way is thus paralleled with going the way of petty materialism.

Lk. 20:26 concludes that “They could not take hold of His words before the people”. The Greek for “take hold” is elsewhere used about the Jews finally taking hold of the Lord in arrest and crucifixion. The Jews are also recorded as not being able to do this physically to Him in public, “before the people”. But Luke speaks of the Jews doing these things in relation to “His words”. This is Luke’s way of saying what John says in so many words- that the Lord Jesus was so identified with His words, which were God’s words, that He was “the word made flesh”, the living personification of His own words, in whom there was perfect congruence between His essential self and His words.

22:23 The same day Sadducees- Surely added to give the impression of intensity. The Lord came to His death at the point of mental as well as physical exhaustion.

That say that there is no resurrection- The obvious response to a question from such people about the resurrection would be ‘But you don’t believe in a resurrection!’. Lk. 20:27 says that they antilego, spoke against publically, the resurrection. Mark’s record adds that they also said that “In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise…” (Mk. 12:23). But the Lord was not so primitive as to point out their obvious untruth. He took their position as they stated it, and worked to demonstrate that even given that position, they were woefully ignorant of Divine truth. Long term, His approach stood a chance of working. If He had simply denounced them as liars and self-contradictory, there was no chance He would’ve ever contributed towards their possible repentance and change of heart. This approach needs to be take to heart by us. For there are large numbers of believers who seem to think that their service to God involves cruising internet forums or endlessly arguing with their neighbours in order to prove them wrong and self-contradictory about doctrinal matters. This may give a slight ego rush for a moment, but it is not in fact any real victory. For the victory we seek is not to tie another up in mental knots, but to lead them to repentance, to the Lord Jesus, and to His Kingdom. We also need to note that recently the Lord had resurrected Lazarus, with the result that He appeared to have won over many who had previously supported the Jewish leadership. They were now trying to prove that resurrection doesn’t happen. The Lord could’ve called many witnesses to the resurrection of lazarus, but instead He takes their argument and works from it.

It has been observed that the Sadducees were generally hedonistic- and this surely was a result of their denial of the future resurrection and judgment. Their belief was that only the Torah was inspired, and it was Israel’s duty to live according to it in this life. They were a parade example of the effect of doctrine in practice.

Came to him, and they asked him- Over 100 times we read in the Gospels of various people coming to Jesus- His enemies, the crowds, His disciples, people in need. Each came with their various motivations, agendas and pre-understandings of Him. His invitation to ‘come to Him’ was to come in faith. The repeated repetition of the phrase ‘came to Him’ is perhaps to invite us to see ourselves likewise as amongst those who ‘come to Him’ as we read or hear the Gospel record, ensuring that we are truly coming to Him and not merely on a surface level as so many did.

22:24 Teacher. Moses said- Luke: “Moses wrote unto us”. The Lord picks this up in His answer in :31: “Have you not read that which was spoken unto you by God”. He is telling them that God and not Moses was the ultimate speaker to them; and that the word was not merely written but is a living word, actively speaking unto them. For all their much vaunted belief in Divine inspiration of the Scriptures, these men had failed to perceive that God was speaking to them personally through the human authors. And that criticism needs to be remembered today by those equally wedded to a declared belief in Divine inspiration of the Bible. It is to be to us a word spoken and not a dead letter written on paper.

That if a man dies having had no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up seed to his brother- The Lord could have replied that if they read the entire passage in Dt. 25:5-7, they would see that God actually made a concession in this matter; and the whole principle only applied to “brethren dwelling together”. A man did not have to marry his brother’s wife. In any case, as most adult men were married, it would have usually been a case of polygamy. But again, the Lord didn’t point out that expositional error, but goes on to develop a far greater and higher principle concerning the nature of His Kingdom, in which such casuistry about marriage will be simply irrelevant. And again, He sets an example to those who have spent their religious lives arguing about divorce and remarriage and fellowship issues. Their arguments could be demonstrated to be expositionally faulty. But the higher principle is that such issues shall be irrelevant in God’s Kingdom; and we are to live the essence of the Kingdom life now as far as we can, in spirit at least. The Sadducees made a big deal of the fact that the word translated “raise up seed” is that used generally in the Septuagint for resurrection. Their idea was that resurrection is not of the body but through family life. To die childless was therefore tragic indeed. The same error is made by many today who effectively believe that family life is the ultimate form of spirituality. It is not, and God seeks to build a personal relationship with each of us, He is the personal God of Abraham, Isaac etc., and we shall experience a personal bodily resurrection at which we shall appear before God stripped of our family, and relate to Him as a single individual.

22:25 Now there were with us seven brothers; and the first married and died having no seed, and thus left his wife to his brother- This must have been a most unfortunate family. The Old Testament speaks of the failure to build up a house / family and the death of men in youth as being a curse from God for disobedience (Job 18:19; Ps. 107:38,39). Again, the Lord could have made capital of this- but He didn’t. There was no element of personal attack, but rather an appeal to higher principle.

22:26 In like manner the second also and the third, to the seventh- As noted on :25, this was clearly not a true story.

22:27 And after them all, the woman died- She would have been judged to be a most unfortunate woman, likely under God’s judgment (see on :25). But the Lord doesn’t question the very unlikely story nor the contradictions within it- instead He works from what was presented to Him.

22:28 In the resurrection therefore, whose wife shall she be of the seven? For they all had her- The other records add “When they shall rise from the dead”. The Lord could’ve pointed out that they were well known for denying / speaking against the resurrection. But He doesn’t make that obvious point, instead focusing on the higher principles rather than point scoring.

22:29 But Jesus answered and said to them: You are mistaken- The same word used by the Lord in describing how He as the good shepherd was searching for the sheep of Israel who had “gone astray” (18:12,13). Exactly because He was searching for them with a view to saving them, He did not indulge in point scoring or exposing the numerous errors in their claims. The fact the Lord even tried with these types is a huge inspiration to us all to never give up with any group of people.

As you neither know- Time and again the Lord assaults their pride in knowing the text of Scripture. “Have you never read” is commonly on His lips. We can read, and yet never really read; know, but never know. Familiarity with Bible phrases is simply not the same as understanding them correctly.

The Scriptures, nor the power of God- The two are paralleled, with every relevance for the Sadducees who denied the Old Testament’s inspiration apart from the Torah. Likewise in their audience the Lord pointed out that David in the Psalms spoke “in Spirit” (:43)- the Psalms were inspired as much as the Torah.

22:30 For in the resurrection- Why does the Lord speak of the Kingdom of God as “the resurrection”? Perhaps it is to pave the way for His teaching that “all live unto Him”, in the sense that here He is likewise raising the idea that time will have a different dimension then. The joy and freshness of resurrection will last eternally. The Kingdom will be as it were an eternal moment of resurrection, an eternal now, with no fading thrill but an “everlasting joy upon [our] heads” that will not fade and morph with familiarity and the passage of time.

They neither marry nor are given in marriage- Note the present tenses. They are more striking in Lk. 20:36: “Neither can they die… they are equal unto the Angels: and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection”. Greek tenses, unlike Hebrew tenses, are precise. We would expect ‘They shall not die… shall be equal… shall be…’. But the present tenses are striking. The Lord is building up to His point that the question about marriage is inappropriate because God is outside of our kind of time; He sees the believers in Him as even now immortal, a point made more strongly in John’s Gospel. This is not the same as having an immortal soul, nor does it imply conscious survival of death. Rather is it a reflection of how God from His perspective outside of time sees His children. Jn. 3:3-5 makes the same point, that we are born again of water and spirit even in this life, and thereby are living the life eternal. But that is from God’s standpoint outside of time as we experience it. Lk. 20:37 says that Moses “calls” [present tense] God “the God of Abraham…”. Not only does this imply a living word which speaks to us today, but again the point is made throughout the passage that God is outside of time. This choice of tenses in this passage is purposeful, for elsewhere we read of how Moses said or commanded things in the past tense (e.g. Mt. 8:4 “things which Moses commanded”, “Moses wrote”, Lk. 20:28; “Moses gave you…”, Jn. 6:32).

But are like the angels in heaven- The Sadducees denied their existence (Acts 23:8). The Lord’s teaching that Angels do not marry was surely additionally an attack on the Jewish myths becoming popular at the time concerning the supposed marriage of Heavenly Angels with the daughters of men in Gen. 6. These myths are deconstructed in Jude and 2 Peter, but the Lord here is also correcting them. We marvel at how apparently ‘off the cuff’ He could speak in such a multi-faceted and profound way, addressing various issues simultaneously. Although His intellectual and spiritual ability was doubtless capable of such instant responses, I prefer to imagine the Lord reflecting deeply upon God’s word and preparing His ideas throughout the years of spiritual mindedness that preceded His ministry.

Lk. 20:36 adds that we shall be as “the children of God”, thereby answering the Sadducees idea that it is a human duty to have children and thereby continue the race, for therein do we have our ‘resurrection’. Again the Lord is lifting the whole question to a far higher level. Luke adds that the Lord first said that “the children of this world marry…”. The Sadducees were assuming that the Kingdom of God would be a kind of continuation of this present life, just with eternity of nature. Whilst there are similarities and aspects of continuity between who we are and who we shall eternally be, we are mistaken in imagining the future Kingdom of God as some kind of ideal earthly situation, a tropical paradise holiday, which shall last eternally. This is the same mistake as thinking that we shall eternally be doing what “the children of this world” currently do. Instead of criticizing and exposing the faults in the argument presented, the Lord makes the point that the Kingdom of God will not be about marriage nor about casuistic arguments about the definition of marriage- the very arguments which have occupied the minds of far too many of His children. Paul uses the same logic in reasoning that arguments about food are irrelevant because the Kingdom of God will not be about such behaviour, but about love, peace and joy (Rom. 14:17). Paul, like the Lord here, could have exposed the fallacies of exposition being engaged with, but instead reasons on a higher level- that seeing we shall not be arguing about such things eternally, let us not do it now.

22:31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have you not read- Of course they had, but the Lord is yet again making the point that we can read Scripture many times but not really read it as intended.

What was spoken to you by God, saying- Mk. 12:26 records the Lord saying: “…God spoke unto [Moses], saying”. Surely the Lord said something like ‘He spoke unto Moses, unto you, saying…’. What was spoken to Moses was spoken to them personally, just as the living word speaks to every generation. The Lord was equating each secular Jew with none less than Moses himself. This was unthinkable blasphemy in Judaistic thought, to see oneself as receiving God’s words, having God reveal Himself directly to us, just as He did to Moses. God of course had wanted to reveal Himself like this to Israel, but they asked not to hear His voice directly, wanting Moses as a mediator. But the Lord says that now, through the medium of God’s word, the voice of God comes directly to us too. In the new Israel and the new Judaism of the new covenant, in this sense we are each as Moses.

Luke adds: “That the dead are raised even Moses showed…”. Sadducees believed only in Moses’ writings, and denied the resurrection. The Lord takes that position and runs with it, instead of trying to assert the inspiration of the rest of the Old Testament.

22:32 I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?- If the Lord was looking merely for a reference to God being the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He had many places He could have quoted from. I suggest He chose Ex. 3:6 partly to show that the supremely intimate, personal revelation of God to Moses was just the same now to all individuals within Israel. It was a living word spoken to them personally. But also because the Lord wants to make the point that God is outside of time- and that passage goes on to climax in the revelation of that same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the “I am that I am” (Ex. 3:14). The God outside of time, witnessed by the way the tetragramaton somehow straddles past, present and future tenses, therefore sees the dead as alive “unto Him”. The question put to the Lord was very much rooted in the assumption that time as we now know it is going to continue in the Kingdom of God, and the Lord is making the point that this is an immature way of looking at it; and therefore the question was irrelevant. The Exodus 3 passage also contains repeated assurance that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will receive what God has promised- which requires bodily resurrection for them. We need to ever remember that the Lord was not merely demonstrating intellectual prowess in all this reasoning and allusion. He considered them as the sheep who erred / were astray, and through all His teaching here He was merely seeking to steer them to Him and ultimate salvation.

He is not the God of the dead but of the living- This Greek construction could mean ‘Not only the God of the dead, but also of the living’. But the context is the Lord demonstrating that the understanding of the Sadducees was very much a dead religion and their God was effectively dead. They denied the resurrection and considered that we have reward only in this life. In this case, God was the God of Abraham only in the past. The Greek phrase could literally mean ‘Not the God the dead, but the living [God]’, alluding to the well known phrase “the living God”. If God only acted for Abraham etc. in the past, then the God Abraham knew effectively died when Abraham died. But the living God seeks to impart life to the faithful.

Lk. 20:38 adds: “For all live unto Him”. The Lord is critiquing their division between this life and the life to come- by saying that the faithful live on now in God’s memory as they will eternally; He speaks of things which are not as though they are (Rom.  4:17), and in this sense whether we live or die we are the Lord’s (Rom. 14:8). Although the soul is mortal, the spirit returns to God and will be eternally “saved” at the last day. And the spirit refers to who a man essentially is, his thinking and character. This is preserved by God in His memory, and in that sense the faithful dead “live” before Him now. John’s Gospel puts this in so many words by saying that we can live the eternal life right now. Whilst bodily resurrection is so significant from our point of view, the God who is outside of our kind of time sees the dead as effectively living as He extends forwards into eternity from the present- in a way we cannot now do. I made the point above that recently the Lord had resurrected Lazarus, with the result that He appeared to have won over many who had previously supported the Jewish leadership. They were now trying to prove that resurrection doesn’t happen. The Lord at that time had emphasized that the resurrection of Lazarus was a visual reminder of the new life which those who believed in Him could experience right now: “Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (Jn. 11:26). Luke’s comment that “all live unto Him” is saying roughly the same thing. If our spirit is focused upon living and thinking the Kingdom life now, then this spirit is preserved by God upon death. And it is this which God sees after our death, and the sense in which we live unto Him.

22:33 And when the crowds heard it- Our debates with others are often not so much in order to convert them, but the listening audience and onlookers. And the Lord was ever aware of this. See on :42.

They were astonished at his teaching- Yet for all this, it was “the multitude” who were soon shouting for His blood. Mere intellectual persuasion of the truth of theology is no guarantee that a person is truly with the Lord.

22:34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they gathered together- The idea could be that the Pharisees and Sadducees, traditionally opposed to each other, were united together in their desire to again try to entangle the Lord. This unity of opposed persons and groups against Christ is a theme of the records. Just as He unites people together around Him, so He unites people against Him- thus creating the Biblical picture of how we are either in God’s people or in the group actively against them. This division will come to its final term in the latter day tribulation before the Lord’s return.

22:35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing him- Again we see the Lord’s temptations being at the hand of the Jewish religious leaders, strengthening the case for thinking that the ‘adversary’ of the wilderness temptations was likewise somehow connected to the same group or thinking. Peirazo can mean both to test, and also to tempt to sin in a moral sense. If in the latter sense, we must ask in what the Lord was tempted to sin? Perhaps in exasperation, inappropriate anger, or to a giving up of effort with the Israel for whom He was dying.

22:36 Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?- It is often claimed that this means ‘Which type of commandment?’. But the Lord’s answer suggests that He saw it as meaning ‘Which specific commandment’.  Mk. 12:28 records them asking which is the greatest commandment “of all”, which requires that they wanted Him to name one specific one. Again, the Lord lifted the question to a higher level, quoting two commandments and speaking of them as one single commandment; and demonstrating that the unity of God is a command rather than a mere piece of fundamental but dead theology (see on :37).

22:37 And he said to him: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind- Mk. 12:29 adds: “The Lord our God is one”. That God is one is a command, an imperative to action. It underlies the whole law and prophets (Mt. 22:40)- it's that fundamental. If there were two Gods, Yahweh would only demand half our energies. Nothing can be given to anything else; for there is nothing else to give to. There's only one God. There can be no idolatry in our lives, because there is only one God (2 Kings 19:18,19). Because "there is none else, thou shalt keep therefore his statutes" (Dt. 4:39,40). The Hebrew text of Dt. 6:4 suggests: "The Lord is our God, the Lord is one", thereby linking Yahweh's unity with His being our God, the sole Lord and unrivalled Master of His people. It also links the first principle of the unity of God with that of the covenant to Abraham; for “I will be their God" was one of the features of the covenant. The one God has only one people; not all religious systems can lead to the one Hope of Israel.

22:38 This is the great and first commandment- They had asked which was the greatest commandment, but the Lord adds that this commandment is not only “great” but also “first”, and we can understand that as meaning first in importance in our lives. He earlier had talked about seeking first [s.w.] God’s Kingdom.

22:39 And the second is like it- The Lord is thus putting two commandments together to form one. Hence Mk. 12:31 records Him concluding, having quoted the two commandments: “There is none other commandment [singular] greater than these [plural]”.

You shall love your neighbour as yourself- This is indeed a challenge; not only to love ourselves, but to relate to our neighbour as to ourselves. It suggests a unique unity between us and our neighbour within the Israel of God. That humanly impossible unity is only achievable by loving the one God. To love God and our brother is all part of the same thing. It is indivisible; the two commandments are in fact one commandment in practice. To claim to love God but not love or even be involved with our brother means, therefore, that we don’t actually love God. John makes this explicit in 1 Jn. 4:1, and much of the Lord’s teaching does likewise. Yet our tendency is to isolate them, claiming to love God whilst ignoring our brother, and maintaining a strong sense of separation from him.

22:40 On these two commandments- Again, the Lord makes the point. They wanted one commandment isolated as the greatest, and He gave them two, with the further comment that “all the law”, all the others, hung equally upon those two. The spiritual way of life is not a case of isolating one or two commandments and keeping them, but rather living a spirit of life and thinking. Loving God and our neighbour are seamlessly united, although so many try to do one without the other. On the one extreme is the person who sits at home in splendid isolation with their love for God, on the other is the person who thinks that love for neighbour- some neighbours, anyway- is quite enough, and needs no underpinning in a love for God, which involves keeping His commandments.

Hang the whole law and the prophets- The Lord surely had the Sadducees in view, with the differentiation they made between law and prophets. This would support the suggestion on :34 that they were somehow involved in this ongoing questioning. The achievement of love in practice between brethren, on the basis of their unity with each other elicited by their common connection to the one God, is what the entire Law was aiming at. The 613 commandments of Moses were not, therefore, to be seen as mere tests of obedience. They were designed to produce love and unity in practice.

22:41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying- The Lord had clearly done well in answering the questions, and it’s easy to misinterpret this as Him now going onto the thrust of an offensive, having successfully parried the attacks. But remember His opening comment, that they ‘erred’ or were as sheep ‘astray’. He was trying to steer them to Him, to repentance and salvation, and not to merely win an intellectual battle for its own sake. All the same, He capitalized upon their continued presence to seek to correct another major misunderstanding. His desire to save them is breathtaking. The fact there were Pharisees who later converted to Christ is proof enough that His strategy worked, at least for some (Acts 15:5). And remember that Saul the Pharisee was living in Jerusalem at the time, and may well have been listening carefully.

22:42 What do you think of the Christ- The use of dokeo, to seem or think, may be a hint that Matthew is here combating at least the incipient beginnings of Docetism, the idea that Christ only appeared to be whoever He was, a kind of Divine image cast upon the earth. This came to full term in the theology of the Trinity some time later.

Whose son is he? They said to him: The son of David- They were surely aware that Jesus was a son of David, on both the sides of Mary and Joseph. For they would’ve done their homework as to His [apparent] family of origin. See on 22:45 How is He his son.

Lk. 20:41 records that the Lord addressed a question to the wider audience: “How say they that Christ is David’s son?”. Having let the Pharisees give the answer, He then asks others how this can be the case. Again, the Lord’s dialogues with the Pharisees was not simply to try to convert them, but in order that the audience would learn. See on 22:33 When the multitude heard this. Mk. 12:37 concludes the section by observing that “the common people heard Him gladly”, so again we see how the records seamlessly complement each other.

22:43 He said to them: How then does David in the Spirit- See on 22:29 The Scriptures…

Call him Lord- Judaism’s concept of Messiah has always been vague and not commonly agreed, but there was and is the idea that the likes of Abraham, Moses and David are greater than Messiah. The Lord is pointing out that David considered Messiah to be his “Lord”, just as Messiah was greater than Abraham (Jn. 8:58).

Saying- Another present tense, continuing the Lord’s theme of God’s word being a living word speaking to us today as if in an eternal present.

22:44 The Lord said- Clearly Yahweh. If the Divine Name was to be used in the New Testament, surely this would be the place for it. The fact it is not, when some Hebrew words are used (e.g. ‘Sabaoth’), shows clearly enough that the literal usage of the tetragramaton is not something God sees as important or even required.

To my Lord- Biblically and historically, David’s immediate ‘Lord’ was Saul. Ps. 110 was originally a revelation to David of the potential possible for Saul, who was an anointed ‘Messiah’ figure. But Saul failed, and so the fulfillment of the prophecy was rescheduled and reapplied to the Lord Jesus.

Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies underneath your feet- The Lord’s enemies stood around Him as He applied this Psalm to Himself. 

22:45 If David then calls him Lord, how is he his son?
- The “how” doesn’t imply that David’s Lord is not his son, but rather is a rhetorical question. How is the Messianic son of David, David’s “Lord”, to be his son or descendant? Mk. 12:37 says the Lord reinforced the question by asking “From whence is He his son?”. The answer had to be: ‘Through a woman in David’s direct line giving birth to Him’. And the questioners were fully aware that Jesus was in the direct line of Mary (see on :42 The Son of David).

22:46 And no one could say a word in reply. From that day nobody dared to ask him any other questions- These very words are used of how the disciples after the resurrection dared not ask who Jesus was (Jn. 21:12), which is the very context here. The connection is clearly to show that they too through their being too influenced by Jewish thinking found themselves in the same category as the unbelieving Jews- the difference being that they repented of it. Matthew was appealing to Jews to accept Jesus and repent of their willful misunderstanding, and he and John are holding themselves up as a role model, just as we should in our appeals for repentance. The Greek for “questions” isn’t in the original; they dared not ask Him again. The implication from the context could be that they dared not ask Him ‘Who are You?’, for the answer was clear in their consciences. They knew, on one level, that He was Messiah, that He was the heir to the vineyard, whom they knowingly sought to murder.