“For many are called but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14
Maybe you’ve heard this verse quoted before. It’s often used in terms of who receives salvation. But I think we often miss the Matthew 22:14 meaning because we often ignore the context in which these words were written.
We might know this one verse, but few actually know the rest of this passage. And I think if you spend a few minutes learning the context of the meaning of Matthew 22:14, it will take on new life and it will help you in your faith.
So, let’s see what the true meaning of “many are called but few are chosen” is.
The Context Of Matthew 22:14
Before we can understand what it means that “many are called but few are chosen” we need to look at the context in which it was written. This will help us better understand what Jesus meant and how it applies to our lives today.
In Matthew 21 we see some incredible events unfold. Jesus rides a donkey into Jerusalem and people are going crazy with excitement. They are waving palm branches and shouting “hosanna.” (Matthew 22:1-11)
Immediately after this Jesus heads towards the temple. He walks into the outer court and it’s chaotic. There are money changers and people selling animals to sacrifice and Jesus becomes infuriated. He starts flipping tables and driving out those who were selling.
There’s a lot here that we don’t have time for in this article, but if you want to learn more about why Jesus flipped tables you can read this article I wrote: What You NEED To Know About Jesus Flipping Tables
This is where it gets interesting. The next day Jesus makes his way back to the temple. The same one where just the previous day he caused mass chaos in, he now decides to go back. And what does he do? He tells a story.
You can read about the story here: The Parable of the Wedding Feast (the POWERFUL truth of Matthew 22:1-14)
The main point of the story is a shot at the religious leaders. And at the end of this story Jesus tags on this last line, “For many are called but few are chosen.”
Let’s dive a little deeper into the Matthew 22:14 meaning.
The Matthew 22:14 Meaning
In the parable of the wedding feast Jesus is speaking about the kingdom of heaven and what it will be like. And he’s directing his message at the religious leaders to show them that they’re rejecting the Messiah.
The parable is a slap in the face, a wake up call, to the Pharisees. They thought they were shoo-ins, that they were on the in-crowd. But Jesus makes it clear, everyone is invited. But you still gotta have manners, you gotta clean yourself up. They thought their lineage guaranteed them a spot. But Jesus points towards their heart.
What Jesus does with this parable is brilliant and bold. He holds no punches and shows the Pharisees exactly where they stand.
And it ends with an interesting picture. The king, in the story, approaches this man who’s not wearing the proper wedding clothes. When given the opportunity to repent and asked to join the party, he still remains speechless. He cannot admit to his wrong.
So the king throws him out. Not because he’s unworthy, everyone is unworthy, but because he refused to enter worthily. That’s the picture of the nation of Israel. That’s what Jesus is getting at. The nation of Israel cannot admit their faults and refused to enter the party worthily.
Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen Meaning
So, what does “many are called but few are chosen” mean?
Jesus here is referring to anyone who hears the Gospel. Each person must decide how they will respond; will they accept or reject the invitation.
The Bible says all of us are called, or invited, to follow Jesus. No one is excluded. But it’s a choice; following Jesus cannot be forced.
This is why Jesus says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15). The point is we all hear, we are all chosen. But we must each decide what to do with what we hear.
“But few are chosen.” This shows us that many choose to reject this calling. They heard it and decided to keep going their own way.
The meaning of Matthew 22:14 is straightforward. You are chosen. You have been invited. But will you accept or walk away?
2 Lessons From The Meaning Of Matthew 22:14
Now that we’ve looked at the Matthew 22:14 meaning, I want to end by looking at how we can actually apply this to our lives. Here’s two lessons:
You Don’t Need To Be Worthy, Just Willing
In the parable of the wedding feast everyone ends up being invited to the royal wedding. The key here is that none of them are actually worthy of that invitation. They simply needed to be willing.
The same is true for followers of Jesus. None of us are worthy of Jesus’ calling. We don’t deserve it and we can’t earn it; we just need to accept it.
The guy who was kicked out of the wedding feast refused to enter properly. He didn’t want to put on the right clothes or admit his faults. He wasn’t willing to enter in a worthy manner. You don’t show up to a wedding in your work clothes; you have to put on the appropriate attire.
Similarly, when we accept the calling of Jesus we need to repent of our old ways and turn back to God. We need to get rid of our filthy old clothes so that we can put on the new ones that he has for us.
What’s Your Response?
You are called, but will you accept the invitation?
He’s made it possible for you to go to the party. To enter into salvation. Just as the king provided a wedding garment for the guests, God has provided you salvation.
Some will reject the invitation. They will refuse to go in. That’s their choice. God has given us free will to choose to follow him or not. They aren’t rejected by God, rather they’ve rejected God.
Others will try to enter salvation while maintaining a facade of righteousness. They think they can, or need to, earn their salvation. They are counting on their own self-righteousness to get them in. But they will be found out and removed.
Those who enter the party, who get salvation, are those who look to God to provide. All are invited, but some will reject the invitation.
What will your response be?
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If you are struggling to read and understand the Bible I highly recommend Mark Moore’s books Core 52 and Quest 52. These simple 15 minute daily readings will help you connect with God and understand the Bible better. They are INCREDIBLE. Plus there’s kids/teen versions as well!
You can buy them here:
- Core 52: A Fifteen-Minute Daily Guide to Build Your Bible IQ in a Year
- Quest 52: A Fifteen-Minute-a-Day Yearlong Pursuit of Jesus
- Quest 52 Student Edition: A Fifteen-Minute-a-Day Yearlong Pursuit of Jesus
- Core 52 Family Edition: Build Kids’ Bible Confidence in 10 Minutes a Day: A Daily Devotional