Matthew Chapter 22 Wedding Feast, Pharisees and Scribes Silenced

Introduction to Chapter 22

This chapter records exchanges between Jesus and his disciples (Matthew 21:20), chief priests and elders of the people (Matthew 21:23), chief priests and Pharisees (Matthew 21:45), and Pharisees (Matthew 22:15). It is the last week of Jesus’ life before the crucifixion and resurrection, probably Wednesday, April 1, AD 33. The context then shows the heightened conflict between Jesus and the opposition.

In the first section, Jesus, in a parable, clearly explains what is at stake. He is the only way to enjoy the kingdom. Those who say no to the invitation will be judged. There is no reason to reject the invitation. In fact, it is foolish to do so. The only reasons someone would reject the invitation is because that one did not believe the king or his son, or foolishly thought he could disregard the king and the son and still prosper. To reject the invitation is the height of foolishness. This is a different story than that of Luke 14. There are too many differences to say Jesus said this once and each author made many changes.

There are two main topics in Chapter 22.

  1. The wedding banquet, Matthew 22:1-14.
  2. Questions and answers, Matthew 22:15-46.
    • Pharisees: Render to Caesar and to God, Matthew 22:15-22.
    • Sadducees: Marriage and resurrection, Matthew 22:23-33.
    • Pharisees: The great commandment, Matthew 22:34-40.
    • Jesus: How is David’s son also David’s Lord? Matthew 22:41-46.


Matthew 22:1-14, the wedding banquet

This parable addresses the question that is in the minds of those listening to Jesus. In this parable Jesus condemns the Pharisees in particular and the nation in general for rejecting God’s gracious invitation to the Messiah’s Kingdom. These rejecters refused a part in the banquet and therefore the coming kingdom. Jesus teaches Israel’s spiritual indifference and its results. The banquet celebrates those who enter the kingdom, while the judgment is for those who reject the king’s offer. Rabbinic literature spoke of a banquet at the end of the age in which all Israel would enjoy the change from the present life to the next life (Al Ross, Matthew 22).

  1. Matthew 22:1-14
    • Matthew 22:1-3 is the first invitation to all to come. In verse 3, “unwilling” is in the imperfect tense, indicating a number of rejections over a period of time.
    • Matthew 22:5-6 we have the second invitation.
    • Matthew 22:7 the king punished the murderers and burned the city.
    • Matthew 22:8-10 the invitation went out to anyone, good or bad. Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
    • Matthew 22:11-13 the king speaks to one who did not have the proper clothes. Friend is irony. He was not really a friend. The clothes are the garments that were required for attendance. Repentance, God consciousness (Matthew 3:2, John the Baptist; Matthew 4:17 Jesus; Mark 1:15 John the Baptist) and Faith in the Messiah.
    • Matthew 22:14 many called refer to a large number invited to the feast, as in Isaiah 53:11. In the context the chosen are those who came properly dressed for the celebration and were thus allowed or chosen to remain. The proper dress is not stated here, but doubtless refers to the imputed righteousness required to live with Jesus in his kingdom. Therefore those who are chosen are those who believed Messiah. See Revelation 22:17.
    • Matthew 22:14 does not teach the Calvinist unconditional election. It is not even in the context.
  2. What is Jesus teaching by using this parable?
    • Jesus’ father, God is going to have a celebration for his son, Jesus.
    • The invitation goes out Israel to attend.
    • Israel rejects God’s invitation, and furthermore kills his slaves who invited people, and then killed his son. The prophets and then the Messiah are rejected.
    • The invitation is then opened to anyone—Israel or Gentiles—and many came.
    • In order to be received as a guest, one had to wear the proper clothes—the righteousness required.
    • One came without the proper clothes and so was not allowed to stay. He was without imputed righteousness. He was judged.
    • The final statement summarizes: Many people are invited to the kingdom celebration, but only those with the proper attire, which is righteousness, may remain and attend.
  3. What to do about this parable?
    • 8.1.    Believe the king, who refers to God the Father—that he sent his son, Messiah.
    • 8.2.    Accept the invitation to the banquet, to God’s kingdom, by believing in the Son and receiving imputed righteousness and therefore being declared justified.

Questions and answers, Matthew 22:15-46

  1. Pharisees: Render to Caesar and to God, Matthew 22:15-22.
    • The Pharisees were again plotting. They wanted to trap Jesus into disqualifying himself from any spiritual leadership and therefore to cause people to reject him. Notice how the age old lightning rod topics were used: religion, politics, and taxes. If you want an argument, just bring them up. The issue that the Pharisees thought they could use was of loyalty to God and to Caesar and to do this they appealed to the ever popular tax question. So we have religion, politics, and taxes. The Pharisees thought they had Jesus over a barrel.
    • Notice the phony compliment the Pharisees give him in verse 16. They do not mean this at all. They do not think he is truthful or impartial. They reject him as a teacher.
    • The question is about paying the poll tax to Caesar (Matthew 22:17). The poll tax was an income tax plus a tax on each person. It was not especially oppressive. But since Israel was a theocracy, this was a point that those rallying against Rome would use. These people then could charge Jesus for being anti-Israel if he sided with Rome. If he said do not pay Rome, then he was instigating revolt against Rome. The Pharisees thought they had Jesus in a no win situation.
    • Jesus called them on their hypocrisy in verse 18. Then he brilliantly answered the question. He asked for a coin. He was shown a denarius. The denarius had a likeness of Caesar—the title for the Roman emperors. A denarius was a day’s wages.
      • “Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus” on one side and “pontifex maximus” on the other. The Jews understood “pontifex maximus” (lit. chief bridge-builder) in the sense of high priest. Both inscriptions were offensive to the Jews (Tom Constable, Matthew 22).
    • The Pharisees admitted that Caesar was on the coin. His answer was simple.
      • Verse 21, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. To Jesus, this was not a problem. The Pharisees wanted to make it a problem. They could not contradict him and so they left. In the political sphere there is the recognition of political leaders and laws. That is a separate sphere from the spiritual. Israel was a theocracy. But, when under Gentile powers the theocracy was divided into the Gentile rulers and God. Today, we live in two spheres, but for us, as for people in the past, the spiritual sphere takes priority. Any merging of the two in power and authority will lead to abuse of power and enslavement of people and ideas. Regardless of the time in history, mankind always lives in a spiritual sphere of some kind—whether giving allegiance to God or to Satan.
    • The application for Israel at the time was that there was a political sphere in which they owed recognition. There was a spiritual sphere also, and to that they owed recognition.
    • The political sphere includes Bible doctrines of the angelic conflict, authority, divine institutions, divine civilizations, the relationship between spiritual and political authority and others. They are relevant here by interpretation and application.
    • The spiritual sphere includes Bible doctrines of the angelic conflict, kingdom of God, theocratic kingdom, dispensations, the mystery of the church, prophecy, Christian living, and others.
  2. Sadducees: Marriage and resurrection, Matthew 22:23-33. They now get into the attack. They were questioning him on a theological issue, resurrection. Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. The background is the statement in Deuteronomy 25:5-10 which authorized that a brother or relative marry the wife of a dead brother in order to perpetuate the dead brother’s name and keep property within the family. Ruth Chapter 3-4 is somewhat like this kind of marriage, though Boaz was not the brother of Ruth’s dead husband, he was a relative.
    • The question is in verse 28, “whose wife of the seven will she be?” Jesus makes three points.
      • The Sadducees did not understand the Scriptures or God’s power (Matthew 22:30).
      • There will be no weddings in heaven and apparently the marriage bond will be broken (Matthew 22:30).
      • Resurrection is a fact. God is the God the living, not the dead—of Abraham (he died), Isaac (he died), and Jacob (he died). The conclusion: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are alive now and will be physically resurrected.
    • What do we learn?
      • Even though believers die physically, they continue to live and later will be resurrected.
      • We will also enjoy resurrection.
  3. Pharisees: The great commandment, Matthew 22:34-40. The Pharisees get back into the act. A Pharisee who was a lawyer attempted to trip up Jesus with a legal question based on the Mosaic Law. Actually he was a Pharisee who was expert in the law (nomikos).
    • Jesus answered by going to Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. He summarized the Ten Commandments of the Mosaic Law: love God (Exodus 20:1-11) and love people (Exodus 20:12-17).
    • When a person fulfills these two statements of Jesus, that person has obeyed the intent and spirit of the law. The Law and Prophets have other commandments, but they are specifics that fall under these two commandments.
    • Mark 12:33 adds “is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Matthew leaves this out, possible to not bring up another issue with the Jewish readers.
    • So what applications for us.
      • What is most important—the details or first understanding the main points? The main points give understanding to the details. Do we love God first? Do we then have God’s love in us for other people?
  4. Jesus: How is David’s son Lord? Matthew 22:41-46. Jesus now asks the Pharisees a question that they were unable to answer, at least without losing face. If the Messiah is David’s son, and he is, how could David call him Lord as he did in Psalm 110?  This is a familiar objection. After 2000 years of the church, people reject Jesus as David’s promised son, Messiah, and God. We face the same battles that Jesus, the disciples, the apostles, and Christians throughout the ages have faced. We need to be confident of what we believe and that it is true and not just some religious belief. Psalm 110 is quoted or explicitly referred to in Mark 12:35–37, Matthew 22:44, Luke 20:42, Acts 2:34–36, Acts 5:30–31, Hebrews 1:13 and 10:11–13. The authors use the Psalm to show that Jesus is David’s descendent, God, and Messiah.
    • Psalm 110:1, Lord (Hebrew Yahweh refers to God the Father) says to my (David) Lord (Hebrew Adonay refers to Messiah, David’s grandson many generations removed): Sit at My (refers to Yahweh, Father) until I (refers to Yahweh Father) make Your (refers to Adonay, Messiah, David’s grandson) enemies (refers to those challenging God’s rule) a footstool for your (refers to Adonay, Messiah, David’s grandson). In verses 2 and 4, Lord refers to Yahweh, God the Father. You and your in verses 1-4 refer to Adonay, Messiah, David’s grandson. His in verse 4 refer to Yahweh, God the Father. In verse 5 David now leaves Yahweh’s quote and resumes his inspired comments. Lord in verse 5 refers to Adonay, Messiah, David’s grandson. Your in verse 5 refers to Yahweh, God the Father. He is verses 5-7 refer to Adonay, Messiah, David’s grandson.
    • The Pharisees could not answer the question. The answer is that the Messiah was born in David’s line. Jesus as a man was a great grandson many times over of David.
    • Jesus is David’s Lord because Jesus is the Messiah. Remember that the Messiah was God and man. The Pharisees had a hard time with this, because it elevated Jesus way above them and this provoked their self-righteousness and pride.
    • Another point that we learn from this section (Psalm 110 and Matthew 22) is that Jesus, Lord, is now seated at the right hand of the father. He is not yet seated on David’s throne. That will come after “I make your enemies your footstool” (Psalm 110:1 and Matthew 22:44). Some wrongly think that Jesus is now sitting on David’s throne.
    • Jesus will not take his Davidic throne until after his death, resurrection, ascension to the right hand of the father, and the second coming when God the Father makes all of Jesus’ enemies submit to him
    • Hebrews 10:11 says the same thing
    • 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 adds further to our understanding. Jesus will rule on David’s throne until all authority has been restored to God the Father. This occurs after his resurrection, after our resurrection, after the resurrection of other believers, and finally after he has ruled from David’s throne which begins at his second coming to earth. At the conclusion of that part of His reign Jesus will have even have vanquished death. He will then turn all authority over to God the Father.
    • So what for us?
      • Jesus knew that he was the Jewish Messiah. This is part of his self-awareness.
      • Jesus is now at the right hand of God the Father waiting for the next phase of history.
  5. Doctrines mentioned in this chapter
    • Eternal salvation is for “whoever will may come.” God invites all to participate in his kingdom, but only some will be allowed to participate because only they will be appropriately dressed by believing the gospel invitation.
    • Authority in life has two main spheres: the political and the spiritual. Both require submission to the right authority and both have responsibilities.
    • The political sphere includes Bible doctrines of the angelic conflict, authority, divine institutions, divine civilizations, the relationship between spiritual and political authority and others. They are relevant here by interpretation and application
    • The spiritual sphere includes Bible doctrines of the angelic conflict, kingdom of God, theocratic kingdom, dispensations, the mystery of the church, prophecy, Christian living, and others.
    • Marriage is apparently a human life blessing that will not be needed in heaven. All believers will reflect on God’s blessings, marriage and family and friends included, but without jealousy, possessiveness, or loneliness.
    • Resurrection is a fact. Jesus said God the Father was and is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the living—even though those patriarchs had died physically many centuries before. Jesus says they are living when he spoke.
    • The simplified version of the Old Testament law has two parts: love God completely and love your neighbor like you love yourself.
    • Jesus is David’s Lord and David’s grandson. He is God, Man, Messiah.
    • Jesus is now seated at the Father’s right hand waiting for the Father to make all Jesus’ enemies submit to him—his footstool—and he reign on David’s throne. This will occur at Jesus’ second coming to earth.