016 - Choice in Him; Appointed for Service [b]
Choice in Him; Appointed for Service
Ephesians Lesson #016
February 3, 2019
“Father, we thank You so much for all of the blessings we have as Church Age believers. As we’ve studied here in our passage in Ephesians, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. We can scarcely probe the extent of those blessings.
“One which we have is Your Word—a completed canon of Scripture. Your Word that we have the privilege of owning fairly accurate translations of, that we own, that we possess. We are mindful that in this world there are many people who do not even have the Bible translated in their own language, and many others who live under repressive regimes where even the possession of a Bible will cost them at least prison, if not torture and death.
“Father, let us not take lightly this privilege we have to have Your Word, to read Your Word, to memorize Your Word, and hide it in our Heart. Let us not take lightly the fact that we have so many opportunities to study Your Word and to let it saturate our souls that we might live for You and glorify You in everything that we think and say and do.
“Father as we study today, open our eyes to what we’re studying. Help us to understand these things for they are not always easy, and let us understand its implication for us as believers in Christ in Him in this Church Age as members of His body.
“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to begin with to Ephesians 1. We continue our study of some key doctrines that are stated via specific vocabulary at the very beginning. We learn in Ephesians 1:3–6, an opening introduction to the significance of the body of Christ, the church. This is somehow lost.
This was one of the primary distinctives in the rise of dispensationalism, starting with the understanding of John Nelson Darby, who is the modern founder of dispensationalism. He was reacting to a lot of the apostasy that he saw within the institutional Anglican Church, and that was a major part of it.
Often when we think of dispensationalism, we think of a time chart, we think of the pre-tribulation Rapture, we think of future events. We think of understanding of Revelation, the Upper Room Discourse, Daniel, but in a lot of school and theological curricula, it is grounded and taught alongside of or the same semester as ecclesiology.
That is because part of the significance of dispensationalism is understanding the unique role of the church, the body of Christ in this era, and the unique privileges and blessings that you and I are given as members of the body of Christ.
So often this is not understood; it is not taught well. It’s often made obscure because of confusion in many theologies in churches with Israel, where the church has replaced Israel, and there’s a lot of confusion about these things.
But when we come to this epistle to the Ephesians, we get a rare glimpse of the significance of the Church and what our purpose is. This is part of what is introduced in the opening section of this lengthy prayer or praise in Ephesians 1:3–14.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us…”
This is where people begin to get confused, because for too long too many translations and too many pastors and theologies look at this, at the word “chose” in isolation from the phrase “us in Him.” This is what we have been focusing on, that He chose us in Him.
This is more of a corporate idea: What we have in Christ. Really, the word “chose,” should be translated more along the lines of being appointed or being commissioned. This has to do with destiny.
I was pointing out last week that we see how these words that are translated “predestination” and “inheritance” all focus on the future that God has for those who are Church Age believers. That’s the theme of this whole epistle—has to do with our walk as the body of Christ. It’s this corporate idea.
This should be translated “just as He appointed us in Him—He appointed the body of Christ—before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame. …”
That is our purpose. This is talking about our experiential growth and maturity: exploiting those blessings that God has given us in Christ.
“… we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined—there’s the word that we get hung up on, but it is ‘having preordained.’ This again has to do with that commission—us to adoption as sons.”
We have to understand not only predestination, but this whole concept of adoption—“by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”
All through here we have the first person plural pronoun “us.”
I believe we’ll see as we go through Ephesians 1 that Paul is specifically referring first and foremost to “us”—Jewish believers in Jesus as Messiah. There’s no indication in the text that the “us” and the “we” change as we go forward in contrast to the “you” that will come into play, which focuses on the Gentile believers that are added secondly to the body of Christ.
Initially it’s only Jewish believers in Acts 2–10, and then with the salvation of Cornelius, we see the addition of Gentile believers. This comes together in the latter part of the second chapter.
Paragraphs like this are significant because of vocabulary that is often either ignored, or it is misunderstood, or historically has been mistranslated. We have taken the time to look at key words here.
We looked first at foreknowledge, not evident in this passage, but in other passages like 1 Peter 1:2, we know that that “choice” is according to God’s foreknowledge. That His omniscience is very much a part of this planning and this purpose.
There are so many who say that God cannot know—this is a Calvinist position—God cannot know what He hasn’t already determined. From that point on, they quit talking about foreknowledge and start talking about a deterministic view of predestination and election that excludes God’s knowledge.
That ends up making God’s choice purely arbitrary. A choice that ignores His foreknowledge, ignores His omniscience. So, we have to avoid this kind of arbitrariness in our understanding of God’s plan and purpose.
That involves the word “choice,” and then the word “predestination.” We will look at “His will” and we talk about the endgame related to our adoption as sons.
Underlying in all of this is the understanding that God has appointed us as Church Age believers to an incredible mission. We have been given this commission that the Lord Jesus Christ gave His disciples to go to all the world and to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which summarizes the whole enterprise of evangelism, as we’ve studied before.
Secondly, to teach everyone to observe all that Jesus taught, that again and again we have this emphasis on teaching and instruction, learning the transformation of our thinking.
We come to this word today, “He chose,” and we need to take some time to understand what the Scriptures teach about this. First of all, I want to remind you that any time we have technical vocabulary, such as we saw with foreknowledge and we see here with the words for “choosing,” translated “election,” that there is a rich heritage, biblically, to these words in terms of Old Testament usage.
We don’t translate and understand these concepts on the basis of what is going on at that time in Greco-Roman culture or Greco-Roman philosophy or religion, but we have to take it back and look at it in terms of its biblical usage, especially from the Old Testament.
1. Greek words
When we come to this topic of choice and election, we look at basically three forms of the root:
a) The noun EKLEKTOS, which is used 22 times, and it’s translated elected or chosen.
b) The verb EKLEGOMAI is also translated as to choose or to elect, but it has the idea of selecting the best qualified for a mission or purpose. We will see the evidence for that. I think it’s important in light of what is often said to go through some of the evidence lexically and in terms of usage to show this because of so much confusion that develops here.
c) Another adjective, EKLOGE: picking out something based on the choice of the excellent.
English word meanings
It’s also important that we understand these target words that have been used. This is one of the things that is often overlooked in doing word studies, and that is going to dictionaries to look at what the English word means that we have selected to translate the original language by.
a) “Elect” has the idea of being appointed or designated or commissioned for something. The word that I will choose to use more frequently to translate these concepts has to do with expressing the selection of that which is qualitative, that which has a higher level of excellence.
It’s not an arbitrary choice, but it is an evaluation, and the selection of that which meets a standard. That is exceptionally important.
b) It is often translated “choice,” something that is choice, which indicates something of very good quality, something that is excellent, something that is the best, something that is special, something that is valuable.
c) We use this word “select,” and that has the idea of carefully choosing something as the best or the most suitable. It is not something that is arbitrary. As an adjective, it refers to something that is carefully chosen from a larger number as being the best.
That means, as several language scholars point out in their discussions of the word, that when this word is employed, it’s not arbitrary. There is something of value, something qualitative that is in the object of choice.
That is a problem within Calvinism because they have difficulties that God is choosing on the basis of something in the person. They see that as causative. They will often, therefore, argue, and we will get into this a little later in Ephesians 2, that faith comes after regeneration.
They argue this theologically. But we see that it’s not the emphasis of Scripture. That is not the order that is seen in numerous Scriptures. We believe then there is regeneration.
When they put faith as a result of regeneration—the person is regenerate first, and then they believe—they see faith as the gift of God, which it is not, but when they do that then they have to conclude that saving faith is of an order that is different from ordinary faith. It is a qualitative faith, and so people are saved because they have the right kind of faith. That the merit is in the kind of faith, not in the object of faith.
But faith has to do with believing something to be true; therefore, the basic meaning of the word indicates that the merit is in what is believed. The merit is in the object of faith, which is Jesus Christ and His perfect substitutionary death on the Cross.
So many different things get tied together in studying these words that it takes some time to sort these things out and make sure we all understand how the Scriptures use this thing.
The conclusion from just looking at this opening part is that “evidence exists of a range of meaning in these words from selection based on some criterion of someone or something—there’s something qualitative there that is distinguishing; it is a—selection or choice of one or more from out of a sizable number, to the idea of appointing people to a task, to emphasizing the quality or the character of a person or a corporate entity.”
Often it is used in the New Testament of the appointment by a local church of someone to a particular office or task. In fact, the idea of translating it as “appointment” is much better than simply the idea of selecting, because as the lexicographers point out, it always relates to appointing someone to a particular mission or task. So, we can’t leave that out, and that certainly fits the context of the opening of Ephesians, as well as the purpose of the church that’s taught in Ephesians.
2. Old Testament Usage
I want to look at the usage of these words in the Old Testament; were going to start by turning to Romans 9, which is a passage that is often used to teach some level of determinism—that God is the One who chooses who will be saved and who will the sent to eternal condemnation.
In this context, we are reminded that Paul is talking about Israel and what God has provided for Israel. Romans 9:4 he says of these Israelites, “to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came.”
He’s talking corporately about Israel: Israel as an entity, Israel as an ethnic group. Descendants from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were given promises, covenants in the Old Testament, and that those are for this group that God has chosen for a particular mission or for a particular purpose.
Romans 9:11 Paul says, “for the children not yet been born—he’s talking about the fact that the children of Rebecca, Esau, and Jacob, the twins, were not yet born. Yet before they were born, there was a prophecy given: “… the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand.”
As soon as people see this word, they immediately think of election in terms of salvation, but this is not talking about salvation. This is talking about God’s selection of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for the purpose of the mission given to Israel. It’s not soteriological. It is related to the mission of the nation.
There is the statement from Genesis in Romans 9:12, “… it was said to her, ‘The older shall serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’ ”
A lot of people stumble over this because this is not how we talk. You may go to a restaurant, and you may look at the options, and you have a choice between a filet and maybe a salmon steak, and you look at it, and you make a choice.
In Hebrew idiom, if you choose the salmon, they would say that you hated the steak and you love the salmon. Has nothing to do with love or hate. When these terms are juxtaposed, they are expressing the choice of one over the other.
That’s demonstrated pretty clearly if we examine the account in Genesis, because Esau was richly blessed by God. God did not personally hate Esau. God rejected Esau as the recipient of the promises and the covenants. That was to go through the line of Jacob, not the line of Esau, but that does not mean that God had personal animosity toward Esau or that God was consigning Esau to eternity in the Lake of Fire.
We see at the very beginning in Genesis that there is this emphasis on God’s choice for different purposes. The first real reference to election that we have in Scripture, is to Abraham. Abraham is chosen for a mission. But the selection by God of Abraham, the election of Abraham, wasn’t for his eternal salvation.
The word “elect” was never used prior to Abraham, or of anyone who lived prior to Abraham, and there were perhaps hundreds of thousands of believers prior to Abraham. Abraham was selected for a mission. It’s not for his salvation.
Many others were saved at that time that we know about. His father was probably saved. His nephew Lot certainly was saved. Peter refers to him as “righteous Lot.” Job lived approximately at the same time, but was not a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; he was a Gentile.
He was considered a blameless and upright man. He was a believer. Also Melchizedek, who was the priest king of Salem—the early name for Jerusalem.
These were all believers, but they were not elected by God for this purpose. They were not chosen as Abraham was to be the head of this new corporate entity called Israel that God would work through.
In fact, when God called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees, he had already been justified by faith long before according to Genesis 15:6. Because of the tense of the verb there, Moses is reminding the reader, under divine inspiration, that Abraham by the time God gave him the promise of the seed, had already in some indeterminate past time before Genesis 12:1 believed in God, and God accounted it to him as righteousness—it was imputed to him as righteousness.
God gave this new covenant to Abram, and it had a promise that Abram would be blessed by God and his seed or descendants would be blessed by God, and that would be extended through only one of his sons, Isaac.
Isaac was chosen to be the recipient of the covenant blessings, and Ishmael was rejected. But that doesn’t mean Ishmael was an unbeliever. In fact, God made various promises of blessing to Hagar that He would bless Ishmael. Ishmael was greatly blessed of God, and there is no indication in Scripture at all that Ishmael was not a believer.
When we look at the passage in Romans 9:6, it’s not talking about individual justification, but God’s selection of Israel as a corporate entity. They were chosen to be the line through which the promise of the Messiah would be fulfilled.
They were chosen to be the custodians of divine revelation. It was through the prophets of Israel that the Word of God was given to people and that the Old Testament was revealed and recorded. Israel was called to be a light to the world, a witness against the idolatrous polytheistic nations that surrounded them.
When we talk about the election of Israel, we see that God appointed Abram (Avram) for a mission. He was already saved and nothing indicates that God selected him for salvation.
Deuteronomy 4:20 talks about the corporate mission of the nation, “But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance—that indicates a possession—an inheritance, as you are this day.”
This leads to an understanding of God’s corporate role as stated in Isaiah 41:8–9 as a prelude to an important use of choosing or being choice.
Isaiah 41:8–9, “But you, Israel, are my servant—God is speaking—you, Israel, are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen—not for salvation but for the line of blessing, the line of the Messiah—Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I’ve taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, ‘you are My servant, I have chosen you and I have not cast you away.’ ”
That’s not a loss of salvation. That would be a reference to divine discipline for their disobedience to God.
We see the ultimate fulfillment of this promise in the next chapter, Isaiah 42:1 where God says, “Behold! My servant …” My servant is a term that in one or two places refers to corporate Israel, but everywhere else it refers to the Messiah, the One who would come to redeem and provide justification.
He is called in the translation “My elect One.” Now when we think about elect, that brings with it a whole bunch of baggage. When we look at the English word “elect,” it isn’t translated from the Greek.
Think about the Greek word EKLEKTOS. You hear the similarity between elect and EKLEKTOS: that is a transliteration. When we take a word in one language and bring it over into another language without translating it, we just anglicize it, as it were.
This is a problem for theology. Another example of this is the word “baptism.” The English word “baptism” is not a translation of BAPTISMOS, the Greek word. It’s a transliteration.
Why did they transliterate it? Because if they had translated it correctly, they would have taken sides in a huge debate that was taking place in the early church or medieval church, whether to baptize by immersion or baptize by sprinkling.
In the development of baptism in the early church, they began to sprinkle, and they began to sprinkle infants because they confused baptism with the sign of circumcision and being part of a covenant.
All of this had at a lot of different ramifications, but over the development of history, being a member of the church was equivalent to being a citizen of the nation, so that this unity of church and state developed.
In the Protestant Reformation some reformers in Switzerland—men like George Blaurock and some others who were followers of Zwingli—came to an understanding that baptism was supposed to be a statement of your faith as a believer, not as an infant, and it shouldn’t be by sprinkling, but by immersion.
It brought political issues into play, and anyone who deemed that they needed to be baptized again were called Anabaptists. That’s what that prefix means.
They were considered to be traitors to the state because the original baptism by sprinkling as an infant was also entry into not only the church, but the state as a citizen. When people said that wasn’t valid, they were also arguing for separation of church and state; this was considered to be treason.
See, they just brought the word over in transliteration to avoid the issues. That’s what they did with EKLEKTOS. They transliterated it as “election” instead of dealing with its true meanings through word study of appointment or selecting someone for a particular mission.
When we go back to this verse, we see that Christ is called the “Elect One.” In English we think of election as choosing one from among many. That’s not the idea at all. Jesus Christ was not chosen from among many.
The emphasis, as I pointed out in these words—both the Greek word and the Hebrew word that we see here—the verb bachir, is on the quality, something qualitative in the object. He is God’s “Choice One.” He is the One that is the excellent One. He is the One who has perfect righteousness, and so He is valued for His excellence.
That’s the idea here, “My servant, My Choice One in whom My soul delights!”
When we look at bachir, being the noun form, it means “chosen” or “choice” or “select” or “most excellent one.”
Coenen, who writes in the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology on the New Testament words, goes into the background of the Old Testament, and he says that bachir “indicates that the purpose of the choice is some commission or service.”
The emphasis is on the appointment to a mission, not the selection from among others, not an arbitrary selection. “It is always, however, accompanied by some kind of obligation or task concerned with the well-being of all the other members of the community of which the elected forms part.”
Unfortunately he doesn’t develop it, but he brings in the corporate idea of election there, that you are part of a whole and it is that whole that has the mission.
One example of several that I’ll show you in translating this word as “choice” was one I discovered on one of my trips to Israel. As most of you know, I love Magnum bars; I love my ice cream. Probably 10 or 11 years ago, I was taking some conversational Hebrew courses and learning to read modern Hebrew.
One of the things I like to do, even in Ukraine: I read all the signs in Russian and Ukrainian and try to figure out what the words mean. Sometimes it’s easy because they’re transliterated from English or some other Western language, sometimes not.
I was looking at this Magnum bar, and I was always trying to figure out what the flavors were. The flavor is written underneath the word “Magnum” in Hebrew, and I’ve transliterated up here. It’s sheqadim mobecharim.
I was asking my guide, “What does this mean?” He said, “Well, sheqadim refers to almonds and mobecharim is a noun form of bachir, and I’m thinking “elect.” He said, “It means choice. These are choice or select; they are the best almonds.”
All kinds of lights were going off in my head, because I was already aware of the issues related to this translation and realized that that demonstrates this meaning, not because it’s modern Hebrew, because sometimes meanings change, but many times in the Scriptures it’s translated this way.
For example, in Judges 20:16, there is a selection of who will be in this brigade of slingers in the army of Benjamin. “Among all this people were 700 choice men.” They were the best at the use of a slingshot. They were chosen for something they possess. They were excellent. They had that quality. “They were left-handed. Everyone could sling a stone at a hair’s breadth and not miss.”
I would suggest that even if you’re using a weapon, few people here would have that accuracy with a pistol or a rifle. These 700 men wouldn’t miss the target, the bull’s-eye, by a hair’s breadth with a sling. Not the kind of a slingshot where you pull it back with some sort of elastic, but where you whirl it over your head, and then release it.
I don’t how many of you have tried to do that, but I’m lucky if I can hit the broadside of a barn from inside the barn. It takes a tremendous amount of skill, and these rocks that they were hurling were about the size of a golf ball. Here you have 700 with exceptional accuracy. That’s the emphasis in this word, and we see it again and again.
Gordon Olson in his study of the term as it’s used here and in the Old Testament, as well as in the Septuagint says, “The key idea here of both the Hebrew terms and of the Septuagint—that is the Greek in the Septuagint—is in God selecting or setting apart qualified people to fulfill some commission or office.”
We have to ask, what’s the qualification that He’s looking for? We will come to that.
Just a couple of other statements from some of the lexica. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament has the statement, “In all of these cases serviceability rather than simple arbitrariness is at the heart of the choosing.”
We have another example of this in Genesis 23:6 where the sons of Heth are offering a gravesite to Abram to bury Sarah. Genesis 23:6, “Hear us, my Lord: You are a mighty prince among us; bury your dead in the choicest of our burial places—in the best of our burial places.”
They’re not saying in the elect burial place. They are saying in the choicest, the best, in the highest quality. Take the best of what we have. That is when he chose to buy the cave of Machpelah.
In the Koine Papyrii, written at the same time as the New Testament, but in Koine Greek, not in the New Testament, there is one line in a papyrus that refers to “a choir of slaves and freedmen was appointed.”
If this was arbitrary selection, you might not have a very good choir. But if you want to have a really good choir, then people are going to try out and you are going to select those who have the best voices. It is a selection based on a quality in the object of the choice.
Another line in another papyrus says, “the choicest of the judges in Rome.” A choice judge is one who is well-trained, well-educated, who is objective, who meets certain qualifications.
An epitaph for one individual read, “I made this city the choice of cities.” Quality again, not arbitrary selection.
When we get into the New Testament, we discover this use of bachir translated as EKLEKTOS when it refers to Jesus in 1 Peter 2:4, Christ is the “living stone that’s been rejected by men …”
1 Peter 2:6 states, “For this is contained in Scripture: ‘BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE.’ ”
Not a chosen stone—because He’s not chosen as one out of many—but He is the Choice One. He is the One who is qualified; the only One qualified. He is the stone par excellence.
We see this also used, for example, when the Father affirms the Son when He appears on the Mount of Transfiguration. Luke 9:35, “Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, My Chosen One.’ ”
In the Matthew passage and the Mark passage, it says “My Beloved One.” There is a textual difference in the manuscripts. In the Majority Text, as well as two of the oldest documents from Sinai, you have EKLEGOMAI here, “the Choice One”, indicating excellence; indicating quality.
It’s interesting if you look up the word AGAPETOS, which is the Greek word for beloved, the second meaning that is given in Arndt and Gingrich is the meaning “the Excellent One.” Beloved and EKLEKTOS are close synonyms; they tie together. So the idea here is the quality of the Lord.
It’s applied to Saul of Tarsus at the time of his salvation. Acts 9:15, “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is—choice—a choice vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.’ ”
We see the idea of quality; we see the idea of selection for a mission, not selection for salvation.
The question we should all have at this point is on what basis then might this choice be? What is the quality that is related to this that would make us excellent?
To understand that, we go to a parable in Matthew 22, so turn with me. Like all of the parables in Matthew, these relate to God’s plan for Israel. In this particular parable, it’s going to emphasize why God has turned from Israel and will bring judgment on Israel and will in its place invite and call the Gentiles.
Matthew 22:1–2 sets the stage, “And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son.’ ”
The focal point here is talking about the wedding feast of the son. This is going to be in Heaven. The certain king is analogous to God the Father, and there’s going to be this particular wedding feast.
Matthew 22:3, “He sent out his servants—that would be equivalent to the prophets of the Old Testament—He sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding.”
By application this is related to Israel. The prophets are calling Israel to their mission and to respond to the call of the Messiah, John the Baptist and Jesus, “Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
Then it says … but they were not chosen to come … is that what it said? No, it says they were not willing to come.
The reason I said it that way is to really get you to pay attention because the last line in this parable is badly translated. It says, “for many are called but few are chosen.” No one in the parable is chosen. The ones who make the choice are the ones who respond to the invitation. They either choose to come, or they choose to reject the invitation.
We’re going to see that that last verse is not correctly translated. The issue is their volition. They have a choice to make: To respond to the invitation and go to the wedding or not respond.
They did not respond so, “… he sent out other servants saying, ‘Tell those who are invited. “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’ ”
All are invited. It’s a legitimate invitation. In hyper-Calvinism there are those who say you don’t need to witness to the non-elect because they’re not going to get saved anyway; just leave it up to God. This invitation goes to all, “Come to the wedding.” It’s focused on Israel here as part of the application the parable.
Matthew 22:5–6, “But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.”
This was the history of the prophets in the Old Testament. Many were killed. Isaiah by tradition was sawn in two. This is what took place; the others were stoned.
Matthew 22:7, “But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.”
This is just picturesque language, which speaks of the judgment on that generation of Israel and the coming judgment of Jerusalem in AD 70.
“Then he said to his servants,” Matthew 22:8, ‘the wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.’ ”
Why were they not worthy? Were they not worthy because they were not chosen? No, the text says they were not worthy because they were not willing to respond to the invitation.
If they had responded to the invitation, then they would have been given the appropriate wedding garments, so that they would be accepted in the wedding banquet. But because they did not respond, were not willing to come, they were not given the appropriate wedding garments. Therefore, they were not worthy.
Matthew 22:9 the king says, “Therefore, go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.”
Again, a universal offer of the gospel to all. And the issue is still, will they respond, are they willing to come to the wedding or not?
Matthew 22:10, “So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.”
Matthew 22:11–12, “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw that there was a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.”
Everyone else has on a wedding garment. Now the wedding garment represents the imputed righteousness of Christ. It represents God’s gift of righteousness as Genesis 15:6 says, “Abraham believed God, God imputed to him as righteousness.”
Isaiah 53:11–12 says that the servant came to make the many righteous. That’s the issue.
This one man doesn’t have on the right garment, which is the righteousness of Christ.
“So he said to Him—this is the king—says to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.” He had no answer.”
Matthew 22: 13, “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ”
This is the eternal condemnation.
Matthew 22:14. The last line is poorly translated, and it’s been used by many people in many ways, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
No one is chosen in the parable; that is a bad translation. The word should be translated “choice.” Those who had on the wedding garment of righteousness were choice. Those who did not have on the wedding garment of righteousness were not choice.
How do you get the garment of righteousness? By believing the gospel, and when we believe the gospel, we receive that righteous garment. It is not a faith that is meritorious, this is the Calvinist response, because faith is non-meritorious. The merit is in Christ, He is the One who provides that garment.
Isaiah 61:10, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself out with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels.”
It is a free gift, the gift of righteousness, and it is only with that gift of righteousness that we enter into Heaven, and that we have eternal life. When we come to this issue of “What does it mean that God chooses?” it is not an arbitrary selection.
It is a selection for a mission. Those who are chosen are “us in Him.” All believers in Christ have this mission, which is going to be described as part of our possessions, our inheritance, as those who are adopted by God. We will look at those issues in the coming lessons.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study through this, as we come face-to-face with Your grandeur, Your greatness, that is according to Your foreknowledge, that which You knew from eternity past, that You have selected a mission for the church, and that we enter into the church by virtue of our faith in Christ.
“We are adopted into Your royal family. We receive the imputation of righteousness. We are clothed in the robes of righteousness, and it is on that basis that we are choice, choice ones, because we are in THE Choice One, the Most Excellent One: the Lord Jesus Christ.
“We have a mission. The only way to enter into this is to believe in Jesus Christ. The Scripture says it’s not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.
“Father, we thank You for that salvation. We pray that anyone who is listening to this lesson, to this message, if they are not saved, they will come to understand the free gift of salvation based on faith alone in Christ alone, who is the object of faith, the perfect object, and it is the possession of His righteousness that saves us.
“Father, we pray for the rest of us, that we would recognize the high calling, the high privilege we have as those appointed in Christ to a glorious mission to serve in the body of Christ, looking forward to our future role to rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ in His kingdom.
“We pray these things in His name, amen.”