Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
This one simple verse speaks volumes. But, what does it really mean?
Contextually, we need to understand that vs. 14 is the closing statement to Christ’s parable about a King inviting people to a wedding feast for His Son.
The parallels should be obvious. God the Father, is illustrating the call to salvation, here more specifically, to the nation Israel.
So, what can be learned from these eight simple words?
The “many” is the “general” call to salvation which is extended to all men.
Either by the revelation of creation (Rom 1:18-20), or the direct broadcast of the gospel commanded by Christ (Matthew 28:19-20), all men are given a proclamation of the gospel, all are given an offer to repent and believe.
The “few” is the “effective” call to God’s elect – those who are predestined and who become justified.
This calling always results in saving faith, and is described in 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen family…so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
The “many” less the “few,” are those, who in their own volition, reject the offer.
A few things should also be noted:
If election were not true, and man accepts salvation on their own free will, Matthew 22:14 should be rephrased to “For many are called, but few choose.”
It should be emphasized that, although God in His sovereignty chooses some for salvation, it is still men who are responsible for their refusal. This is illustrated in the portions of Matthew 22 below:
vs. 5 “but they paid no attention” – many are indifferent to the offer of salvation
vs. 6 “[they] mistreated them [the messengers] and killed them” – many are rebellious to the offer of salvation, and
vs. 12 “how did you come in here without wedding clothes” – many are deceitful and not truly saved as detailed in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…I will declare to them, I never knew you…”