And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Sent forth his servants.—As in the parable of the Vineyard (Matthew 21:33-46), the servants represent the aggregate work of the prophets up to the time of the Baptist. The refusal of guests invited to what seems to us so great an honour may seem, at first sight, so contrary to human nature as to be wanting in the element of dramatic probability. That refusal, however, would be natural enough, we must remember, in subjects who were in heart rebellious and disloyal; and it is precisely that character which the parable was intended to portray. The summons, it may be noted, came in the first instance to those who had long ago been “bidden” to the wedding. The proclamation of the kingdom was addressed to the Jews, who, as such, had all along been children of the kingdom.
To call them that were bidden - That is, to give notice to those who had before been invited that the feast was ready. It appears that there were two invitations - one considerably previous to the time of the feast, that they might have opportunity to prepare for it, and the other to give notice of the precise time when they were expected.
The wedding - The marriage-feast. The same word in the original as in Matthew 22:2.
They would not come - They might have come if they had chosen, but they would not. So all the difficulty that sinners ever labour under in regard to salvation is in the will. It is a fixed determination not to come and be saved. See the notes at John 5:45.
to call them that were bidden—here meaning the Jews, who were "bidden," from the first choice of them onwards through every summons addressed to them by the prophets to hold themselves in readiness for the appearing of their King.
to the wedding—or the marriage festivities, when the preparations were all concluded.
and they would not come—as the issue of the whole ministry of the Baptist, our Lord Himself, and His apostles thereafter, too sadly showed.See Poole on "Matthew 22:14".
to call them that were bidden to the wedding; "those that were called", as in 1 Samuel 9:13 by whom are meant the Jews, who were the "bidden", or "called ones"; called of God, and therefore styled "Israel my called" Isaiah 48:12 and by the Targum interpreted "my bidden". They were called by the name of God, and called the people of God, and the children of God, and were the children of the kingdom; and were called to many valuable and external privileges; and had previous notice of the Gospel dispensation by the prophecies concerning Christ, and the blessings of his grace under the former dispensation; and by the ordinances and sacrifices of it, which in a very significant manner set him forth to that people; and now were called to embrace him, to receive his doctrines, and submit to his ordinances, by the ministry of John the Baptist, and the disciples of Christ. It seems, it was sometimes customary to give two invitations to a feast, or to send a second time to the persons bidden to the feast (i); to which the allusion is here;
and they would not come: which shows the insolence and ingratitude of men, their natural aversion to the Gospel, and the ordinances of it; the depravity of the will of man, with respect to things spiritual and evangelical; the insufficiency of outward means, to work with effect, upon the minds of men; and the necessity there is of efficacious and unfrustrable grace to bring men to believe in Christ, cordially to receive his truths, and be subject to his commands. There is a two fold call by the ministry the word; the one is internal, and that is, when the word comes not in word only, but in power; is the power of God unto salvation, and the savour of life unto life; for by the Gospel are the elect of God called to the obtaining of the glory of Christ; 2 Thessalonians 2:14. This call is of grace; it springs from the free grace and favour of God, and it is effected by the mighty power of his grace; and it is to special blessings of grace; it is a fruit of God's everlasting love, and an evidence of it; and is according to the eternal purpose of God, which is never frustrated: it is a call to the enjoyment of spiritual blessings, as peace, pardon, righteousness, and everlasting happiness; by it men are called to light and liberty, to the grace of Christ, and communion with him; to all the privileges of God's house here, and eternal glory hereafter; to which he that calls them, gives them a right and meetness, and infallibly brings them to it: and therefore it is styled an heavenly calling, and the high calling of God in Christ; for this call is ever effectual, and the ends of it are always answered; it is unchangeable, irreversible, and never repented of. But besides this, there is a bare external call to the sons of men, through the preaching of the word; which is not to make their peace with God, a thing impossible to be done by them, and which is contrary to the Gospel, and reflects dishonour on Christ, the peacemaker; nor to get an interest in him, which, wherever possessed, is given, and not gotten; nor to regenerate themselves; this is the work of the Spirit of God, and in which men are as passive, as the infant in its natural generation, conception, and birth; nor to the exercise of evangelical grace, as faith, love, &c. which are not in them, and no man can exercise that which he has not, nor should he be called to it; nor to any spiritual vital act, since men are dead in trespasses and sins, and cannot put forth any: but this call in the word, is to the natural duties of religion, as to hear, read, and pray; to attend on the word, to wait at Wisdom's gates, and watch at the posts of her door, and so lie in the way of being effectually called by the grace of God; but this call may be where election does not go before, and where sanctification does not follow, and where there may be no salvation, Matthew 20:16 and is often slighted, neglected, and of no effect, which is the case here.And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 22:3. καλέσαι τοὺς κεκλημένους, to invite the already invited. This second invitation seems to accord with Eastern custom (Esther 6:14). The first invitation was given to the people of Israel by the prophets in the Messianic pictures of a good time coming. This aspect of the prophetic ministry was welcomed. Israel never responded to the prophetic demand for righteousness, as shown in the parable of the vine-dressers, but they were pleased to hear of God’s gracious visitation in the latter days, to be invited to a feast in the indefinite future time. How they would act when the feast was due remained to be seen.—τοὺς δούλους, the servants, are John the Baptist and Jesus Himself, whose joint message to their generation was: the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, feast time at length arrived.—οὐκ ἤθελον ἐλθεῖν. Israel in all her generations had been willing in a general way, quite intending to come; and the generation of John and Jesus were also willing in a general way, if it had only been the right son who was going to be married. How could they be expected to accept the obscure Nazarene for Bridegroom and Heir?3. sent forth his servants] This was in accordance with Eastern custom. Cp. Esther 5:8; Esther 6:14.
servants] Or slaves. In Matthew 22:13 a different Greek word is used for “servants.”Matthew 22:3. Καλέσαι τοὺς κεκλημένους, to call those that had been called) The first call was before the wedding; the second, on the day of its celebration.Verse 3. - Sent forth his servants. In the East, the original invitation to a solemn festivity is followed by reminders as the day approaches (comp. Esther 5:8; Esther 6:14). The servants here are John the Baptist, the twelve apostles, the seventy, who first preached the gospel to the Jewish people. Them that were bidden. The Jews had already been invited to come in; to them already belonged "the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants... and the promises" (Romans 9:1). These early missionaries were sent to bring such things to their remembrance, and to bid them obey the call. They would not (οὐκ ἤθελον) come. Their reasons for refusal are not given here - a fact which differentiates this parable from that of the great supper. A general disinclination or aversion is denoted; no actual outrage is perpetrated as yet, but the invited guests are ripening for this stage, in that they despise the King's Son, and believe not in his Divine mission. This backwardness and obduracy recall Christ's lamentation, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!" (Luke 13:34, 35).
Perhaps an unconscious play on the words, lost in both A. V. and Rev., to call the called. This was according to the Oriental custom of sending a messenger, after the invitations have been issued, to notify the invited guests that the entertainment is prepared. Thus Esther invites Haman to a banquet on the morrow, and, at the actual time, the chamberlain comes to bring him to the feast (Esther 5:8; Esther 6:14).
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