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Parable of the Great Banquet

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Title: Parable of the Great Banquet  
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Subject: Parables of Jesus, Parable of the Wedding Feast, Parable of the Faithful Servant, Parable of the Ten Virgins, Church cantata (Bach)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Parable of the Great Banquet

Jan Luyken: the invitation, Bowyer Bible.
Jan Luyken: the man without a wedding garment, Bowyer Bible.

The Parable of the Great Banquet or the Wedding Feast or the Marriage of the King's Son is a parable told by Jesus in the New Testament, found in Matthew 22:1-14 and Luke 14:15-24.

A variant of the parable also appears in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas (Saying 64).[1]

It is not to be confused with a different Parable of the Wedding Feast recorded in Luke's Gospel.


  • Narrative 1
  • Interpretation 2
  • Art and hymnody 3
  • Music 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6


The longer version of the parable is in Matthew:


The eschatological image of a wedding also occurs in the parable of the Faithful Servant and the parable of the Ten Virgins. Here, it includes the extension of the original invitation (to Jews) to also include Gentiles.[2] In Luke, the invitation is extended particularly to the "poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame" ( 14:21), evidencing explicit concern for the "poor and the outcasts."[2]

The targets of the parable are the already religious who have no time for God; they are represented by the people who accepted an invitation, but when the food is ready, claim they are too busy to turn up.[3]

In Matthew, the parable immediately follows the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, to which it is linked.[4] This connection helps to explain the treatment of the man without wedding clothes.[4]

Augustine suggested that the wedding clothes or garment in this parable were provided by the host (but some commentators suggest this is unlikely to be the intended implication).[3] He also interpreted the garment as symbolizing charity,[5] an interpretation not widely accepted even in medieval times.[6]

Martin Luther suggested that the garment represented Christ himself.[7]

John Calvin alluded to other interpretations in commenting:
As to the wedding garment, is it faith, or is it a holy life? This is a useless controversy; for faith cannot be separated from good works, nor do good works proceed from any other source than from faith.[8]

In the Gospel of Thomas, the parable "becomes an exhortation against the affairs of business and a life of gain."[4]

Art and hymnody

The parable has been depicted by artists such as Bernardo Cavallino, Jan Luyken, and John Everett Millais.

A number of Christian hymns have been inspired by the parable, such as "All is ready" by Fanny Crosby,[9] and "All Things are Ready" by Charles H. Gabriel, which begins:

“All things are ready,” come to the feast!
Come, for the table now is spread;
Ye famishing, ye weary, come,
And thou shalt be richly fed.[10]


The topic was the prescribed reading for the Second Sunday after Trinity, for which Bach composed cantatas Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes, BWV 76 in 1723 and Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein, BWV 2 in 1724.

See also


  1. ^ Gospel of Thomas: Lamb translation and Patterson/Meyer translation.
  2. ^ a b Robert H. Stein, An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus, Westminster John Knox Press, 1981, ISBN 0-664-24390-8, pp. 82-91.
  3. ^ a b R. T. France, The Gospel According to Matthew: An introduction and commentary, Eerdmans, 1985, ISBN 0-8028-0063-7, pp. 312-313.
  4. ^ a b c Bernard Brandon Scott, Hear Then the Parable: A commentary on the parables of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1989, ISBN 0-8006-2481-5, pp. 161-168.
  5. ^ Augustine of Hippo, Sermon 45 on the New Testament.
  6. ^ David Paul Parris, Reception Theory and Biblical Hermeneutics, Pickwick Publications, 2008, ISBN 1-55635-653-6, p. 250.
  7. ^ John Nicholas Lenker, The Precious and Sacred Writings of Martin Luther, 1905 (reprinted by BiblioLife, 2009, ISBN 1-115-36364-6, p. 234).
  8. ^ John Calvin, Commentary on Matthew, Mark, Luke - Volume 2.
  9. ^ All is ReadyThe Cyber Hymnal: .
  10. ^ All Things are ReadyThe Cyber Hymnal: .
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