Lectionary Year A
October 13, 2002
Matthew 22:1-14

Step IV: Context

A. Primitive Christianity

(JFC) To repeat previously offered data: The basilei,a tw/n ouvranw/n designation occurs only in Matthew, while it, elsewhere, refers "chiefly" to an "eschatological concept, beginning to occur in the prophets elaborated in apocalyptic passages . . . and taught by Jesus. The expressions vary; b... tou/ Qeou/ and tw/n ouvranw/n have essentially the same mng., since the Jews used ouvrano/j (-oi,) as well as other circumlocutions for Qeo/j (cf. Mt10:23f . . .); the latter term may also emphasize the heavenly origin and nature of the kngdm." So states Arndt's and Gingrich's Lexicon of the NT. The Gospel parallels, including Thomas', read similarly, indicating the material was early accepted as genuine and popular. Matthew also quotes Jesus' saying that this kingdom of heaven is "at hand", in 3:2 and 4:7. Heaven also completes the totality of what will, in the end times, pass away, like in 5:18, 11:25 and 24:35. These infant believers in Christ as the Savior also saw heaven as God's residence, as it is in Matthew 5:12, the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9, 10:32 and from where the Spirit came at Jesus' baptism in John 1:32. In Matthew 23:34ff Jesus reportedly prophesies the downfall of Jerusalem (in 70 CE?). A marriage feast is pictured in Revelation 19:7ff, the latter of which cites "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb". Is that what this parable means here? The Gospel of Thomas includes the first 10 verses only, while Luke's (14:15-24) version seems to try to smooth the inclusion of what appears to be two different parables.

B. Old Testament and Judaism

(JFC) It was reported previously that Obadiah (21) concludes with a prophesy that the coming kingdom will be the Lord's. A few Psalms refer to a kingdom that must be God's, too, e.g., 103:19 and 145:12f. In Daniel 4:12 and 21 a dreamed of tree gives shade and protection to animals and nesting branches for birds, while Daniel 4:18 tells of King Nebuchadnezer's compliments of Belteshazar as one who might interpret his dream "since all the wise men of my kingdom are unable to tell me the interpretation. You are able, however, for you are endowed with the spirit of the holy gods." Vassal nations and those from afar off will also be gathered there, according to Anchor Bible. Wisdom offers a feast well prepared in Proverbs 9:2-6. Isaiah 25:6 prophesies, "On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, and well-aged wines strained clear." In the first century of the Common Era, in the Apocryphon of Ezekiel, Fragment 1, there is a story of a king who conscripts his entire population except a blind man and a lame one. He throws a wedding feast for his son & the blind man carries the lame man who can guide them to the king's garden, etc. Sinners' being cast out into outer darkness where there is weeping and teeth gnashing occurs, still, in the second to third century CE Testament of Jacob 5:9.

B. Hellenistic World

(JFC) These elitists from the leisure world of thought and relaxation would enjoy contemplating and discussing the story and its various elements and their supposed meanings. A feast of any kind would capture their attention, sending servants to gather the guests was possibly one of their favorite sports, getting angry with any who disregarded or down-played their invitations to a party would certainly anger them and calling such reprobates "unworthy" would seem quite natural to their positions in life as they knew it. Then, going out to include the lower class might give them cause to reconsider who would honor whom. They probably dressed well and put much thought in what people wore. The improper attire at the wedding feast, even if worn by one from the streets, might make them wonder what matters more, the exterior appearance or the interior substance of a person. We can hope, can we not? And, what would they do with the conclusion of this parable?

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