Matthew 22:11 ‘And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:’
In order to ‘rightly divide’ the word of truth it is necessary to consider all aspects of the scene in which the word is presented. In this instance, it is necessary to refer back to Matthew 21:23 and following. At the time Jesus spoke, He was in the temple in Jerusalem and He was speaking to the Chief Priest and the Elders of the Jews.
In His first statements, in Matthew 21:24-31, Jesus prophesied that, just as they (the Jews) had rejected John the Baptist, they would reject Him and crucify Him. Then, in Matthew 21:42-44, He prophesied of the coming of the Church. Finally, in Matthew 22, He prophesied of His wedding feast, which is to take place in Heaven.
It is important to note that Jesus was not speaking to the disciples nor to the ‘multitude’ but, specifically, to the Chief Priest and the Elders of the Jews and, from Matthew 21:45, it is obvious they realized he was speaking of them and to them. It is also important to note that, at a wedding feast, neither the Groom nor the Bride are referred to a guests and, since the Church is to be the Bride of Christ, it can be concluded the ‘guests’ of Matthew 22 cannot be the church so the question is: ‘Who are the Guests of Matthew 22?’
The parable of the wedding supper, in Matthew 22, gives rise to the following:
When and where does the marriage take place? In order for the king to state that the marriage of his son has been ‘made’ the bride must have been chosen and it is reasonable to conclude that the church, which is to be the bride of Christ, is in heaven when the servants of the king are sent out to call those who are bidden to the wedding. Therefore the sending out of the servants must be during the ‘end times’, following the rapture of the church.
Who are ‘them that were bidden’? Since the parable is directed to the Chief Priest and the Elders, it is logical to assume those who are bidden are the Jews and, it is reasonable to conclude, it will include anyone who is prepared to listen to, and believe, the witnesses.
Who are the servants who are ‘sent forth’? There are two sets of servants sent forth and it is probable that the 144,000 of Revelation 7:3-4 are the first set of servants who will be sent out but for whom ‘they would not come’. The 12,000 from each tribe will preach wherever there happen to be Jews and, I think you will find, the dispersal of the Jews has been worldwide. The second set are the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3-7 who will be ‘entreated spitefully’ by the remnant and slain. They will probably issue the invitation from the temple in Jerusalem.
When will the murderers be destroyed and the city burned? This, I think, is the destruction spoken of in Revelation 11:13. It follows the resurrection of the two witnesses who are slain.
What is meant by ‘Go ye therefore into the highways …’? Up to this time the witnessing has been directed towards the Jews but, at this point, the angels of Revelation 14:6-9 will be sent out to preach the everlasting gospel to and warn ‘them that dwell on the earth’, i.e., the rest of the world.
How is the wedding ‘furnished with guests’? As a result of the witnessing of the servants and the angels many will realize that Jesus is, indeed, the Son of God. There will be those who will bear witness to this fact and will be killed for their witness, these are the ‘souls’ of Revelation 6:9-10. Then, following the issuance of the decree regarding the mark of the beast and the additional requirement to worship the image of the beast, of Revelation 13:15-17, many will refuse to do so (some as a result of the preaching of the angel) and will be killed as is prophesied in Revelation 6:11. All these, the ‘souls’ of Revelation 6:9 and those killed, of Revelation 6:11, will constitute ‘the guests’.
What is meant by ‘he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment’? Who is this man?
Most of those who refuse to take the mark of the beast or to worship him will do so because they have accepted that Jesus is the Son of God and if they take the mark or worship the image they know they will suffer eternal damnation. However, there will be some who will refuse for other reasons and they will not have the white robes, the wedding garments, of Revelation 7:9 and 13. Such is the man without a wedding garment.
Who are the guests? The guests are those of Revelation 7:13 and 14 ‘And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’