In Matt 22:14, Jesus says many are called but few are chosen. When reading the 13 verses before it we can see the full context. Jesus describes the offer of salvation through the new covenant as a wedding invitation, which is first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles (Rom 1:16). The Israelites (Jews) are the first invited guest, but many of them rejected the offer. However, God extends the offer they rejected to the Gentiles, but some people show up without the “proper attire” and are kicked out. Why does that happen? What is the “proper attire”?
Matt 22:1 (NLT) Jesus also told them other parables. He said, 2 “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. 3 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come! 4 “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ 5 But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. 6 Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them. 7 “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. 8 And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. 9 Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.
In verses 11-13 he says many people came but one came in the wrong attire:
Matt 22:11 “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
The proper attire is in reference to the holy spirit which in the new testament is associated with putting on clothes, or armor. This describes people who believe in Jesus, but don’t follow Jesus and live according to their sinful nature rather than the holy spirit. Following the spirit instead of the flesh is a sign of a true believer (Gal 5:16, Gal 6:8). Wearing the right clothes is in reference to having a truly repentant heart and a renewed mind (Rom 12:1-2) that produces the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:22-23).
Romans 12:1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Paul says in Rom 8:9-17, that those who don’t have the holy spirit don’t belong to God. Only those who live by the Spirit are children of God. Spirit-filled people have put away their sinful nature. Paul and Peter make a similar analogy to wearing righteousness, like clothing, in Rom 13:14, Ep 4:24, Gal 3:27, 1 Pt 5:5-6, Col 3:12-14, etc. Also Rev 7:14, and 22:14 showcase the saints wearing white robes which may represent the clothing of righteousness. Lastly, Jesus is the first to use this analogy in Luke 24:49 when talking about being clothed or endued by the holy spirit.
Luke 24:49 “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills (endues) you with power from heaven.”
The KJV says:
Luke 49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be “endued” with power from on high.
The greek word enduo (ἐνδύω) means “to be clothed with” it is where we get the English word “endue”, and is used in many of the other scriptures from above including Matt 22:11.
In the Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, & Luke 8:4-15), Jesus divides people who hear the gospel into four classifications. Those that heard the word reject it because their hearts are like concrete towards the seed of God’s word. The ravens (Satan) come and take the seed of God’s word from them. Second, are those that received it initially but then reneged because of persecution or affliction. These people’s hearts are like dry stone ground, which receives the seed but then the soil is too dry for the seed to take root. Third, are those that heard it and received it but got distracted by the issues of life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and lustful desires. Their hearts are like good soil that is not weeded, so thorns and thistles grow in it choking out the fruit tree of God’s word, which prevents it from producing fruits. Lastly, there are those that received and lived by the spirit, producing the fruit that God desires. These people are good ground that is tended to (fertilized, watered, and weeded), and it can produce a 30,60, or 100-fold return of fruit.
We can see the same pattern in Matt 22:1-14. There are those that rejected the invite, those who showed interest but made excuses and reneged, those that showed up but didn’t wear the right clothes, and those that showed up correctly and got to be a part of the celebration. The third kind who didn’t put on the right clothes is like the thorny ground, which represents people who believe in God’s ways but get distracted by sin. Hebrews 6:8 borrows the analogy from the parable of the sower to describe people that don’t live holy even though they are in covenant with God.
Heb 6:4 For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— 6 and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame. 7 When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. 8 But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.
This means some people will call on Jesus and think they are saved, but don’t live like it and will be rejected on judgment day (Matt 7:21-23). This is because their hearts are not transformed by the spirit and thus they will not qualify as the elect or chosen (Rom 8:30, 2 Tim 1:9). Even though they seem interested in the call, they didn’t put on the uniform of the holy spirit which helps us overcome sin nature, so they will be cast out like those who rejected the invitation. Galatians 6:7-8 says God is not mocked we reap what we sow. Those who sow into their flesh nature will reap corruption and death, but those who sow into the Holy Spirit will reap eternal life.
Notice the people he rejects did signs and wonders in his name:
Matt 7:21 (NLT) “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Judas did signs and wonder in Jesus’ name, sent he was sent out just like the other 11 to go do the works of the spirit Matthew ch. 10 and Luke 9:1-6. Yet we know he betrayed Jesus. Peter denied Jesus 3 times and wasn’t even around for the crucifixion but Jesus came to him on the boat in John 21 and brought him back so that he could lead the apostles to evangelize the world. Judas could have repented like Peter but instead, he chose suicide. We must trust God’s spirit when we enter this covenant with Jesus, that is the only way to please God because trust is an act of faith, and with faith, we can’t please God (Heb 11:6). Failing to commit our end of the covenant has consequences (Heb 10:26-31). If we mess up we can always come back to God (1 John 1:9), but we must make the effort to come back to God and not stay in sin.
Heb 10:26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. 27 There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. 28 For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. 30 For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The Lord will judge his own people.” 31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Peter has something to say about this topic as well:
2 Peter 2:20 And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. 21 It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. 22 They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.”
Submitting to the Holy Spirit is the only way:
Galatians 5:16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
Clothed with; Put on – enduo (ἐνδύω)