Why did the king punish the man who was not dressed in a wedding garment in the parable of the Marriage Feast?

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“But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.  So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.  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” (Matthew 22:11-13).

In the ancient oriental Marriage feasts, the special wedding garments were provided by the king himself. A feast filled with properly dressed guests would be an honor to the king and to the Marriage. So, a person who was not dressed properly would bring dishonor upon the host and ruin the happy occasion.

The wedding garment represents “the righteousness of Christ.” So, rejecting the garment represents the rejection of character that qualify men to become children of God. Humans have nothing proper of their own to wear “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). They are acceptable in the presence of the Holy God only when they accept the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is the “white raiment” that Christians are counseled to buy in Revelation 3:18; 19:8.

The man without a wedding garment represents those Christians who feel no need of a conversion of character. This guest was interested only in eating at the king’s table. But he did appreciate God’s gift of salvation that was offered freely to him and the grace of God that leads to transformation. He had declined the only thing that qualified him to sit at the king’s table and enjoy the wedding celebration.

The king in His mercy was ready to forgive the man if he was able to present a reason for his failure. But the man was “speechless” which indicated that he was not innocent. He intentionally rejected the garment provided for him. People are excluded from the kingdom of heaven because of their own wrong choices.

The man in the parable was able to enter the hall only by the royal invitation, but he alone was responsible for getting kicked out. No man can save himself by his own efforts, but he alone can bring condemnation on himself. God is able to “save … to the uttermost” all that come to Him (Heb. 7:25), and He does not condemn any, or deny them entrance into the kingdom.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

 In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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