Bible Answer

Are the “called” also “chosen?”

In Romans 8:29-30 Paul says that all who are chosen (i.e., predestined) will also be called (and later justified). But in Matthew 22:14, Jesus says not all who are called are chosen. Is this a contradiction? Are all the called also chosen or not?

In Matthew 22 we read:

Matt. 22:1  Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, 
Matt. 22:2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.
Matt. 22:3 “And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.
Matt. 22:4 “Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’
Matt. 22:5 “But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business,
Matt. 22:6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them.
Matt. 22:7 “But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire.
Matt. 22:8 “Then he  said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.
Matt. 22:9 ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’
Matt. 22:10 “Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.
Matt. 22:11  “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes,
Matt. 22:12 and he  said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless.
Matt. 22:13 “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Matt. 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Notice the statement in v.14 comes at the end of a parable. In fact, v.14 is Jesus’ conclusion from the parable concerning who will join the Lord at the banquet table in the Kingdom. The parable teaches that the Jewish nation (i.e., the slaves) were the primary guests for the Kingdom banquet. The Jewish Messiah (Jesus) came to Israel and declared that the Kingdom had arrived for them, but they rejected Jesus, and in the process, they rejected the Kingdom. 

Instead, the Lord turned to inviting other guests outside the city of Jerusalem (i.e., the Gentiles). These came into the Kingdom in place of the generation of Israel who rejected the Messiah. Notice the call to join the dinner feast went everywhere. The invitation was open to all and was declared opening, yet not all accepted the invitation properly. Some attempted to join the banquet without first participating in the wedding itself. They desired to share in the banquet but they were not willing to accept the invitation to the wedding. 

Jesus applied the meaning of the parable when He said that many are called, but few are chosen. That is many hear the call of the Gospel in its proclamation. In the parable, the Master’s slaves shouted the invitation high and low around the countryside. No doubt many heard the call as it passed by. Nevertheless, few were chosen to participate in the wedding and thereby qualify to attend the banquet, since the Master determines who is included in the wedding. 

This teaching is entirely consistent with Paul’s teaching in Romans. Paul says in Romans 8:

Rom. 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 
Rom. 8:30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. 

Paul’s teaching is centered on the one who is brought into salvation. That person is both called and chosen. Paul’s teaching doesn’t attempt to address the situation of the one who hears the call yet is unresponsive. Paul addresses that situation in another letter:

2Cor. 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 
2Cor. 4:4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 

So in Romans Paul is speaking exclusively to the believer concerning the security we possess in Christ. All believers are (by definition) foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified. This is an unbroken chain that cannot be broken. Thus our salvation is secure in Christ. To the general world, however, a call goes out to believe but only the chosen respond to it.