'abnet, 'ezowr, Bride of Christ, chagowr, chaluq, covering, girdle, himation, kethnoeth, kittel, kittuna, loincloth, mantle, real shirt, robe, simlah, spiritual nakedness, tsiytsith, under tunic, waistband, Wedding Banquet, wedding garment
She has been permitted to dress in fine (radiant) linen, dazzling and white–for the fine linen is (signifies, represents) the righteousness (the upright, just, and godly living, deeds, and conduct, and right standing with God) of the saints (God’s holy people). (Revelation 19:8, AMP)
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10, AMP)
In order to understand why the Prophet Isaiah speaks of holy and righteous garments, in particular the “garments of salvation” and a “robe of righteousness,” a working knowledge of the ancient traditional Jewish body garments is necessary. According to Alfred Edersheim in The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Book III, Chapter 26, “Christ’s Personal Appearance,”1883), Edersheim says that there are six very common items in Jesus the Christ’s day that that Lord Himself would have been wearing. Two of these six items actually are not clothing, but rather number (1) is a pair of sandals, and number (2) is headgear. The remaining four items are: (3) a loincloth, “real shirt,” pair of pants or undergarments; (4) a girdle, sash, or waistband; (5) a long shirt or tunic; and (6) a mantle, cloak, robe, or shawl.
Now, since the Holy Bible teaches us that nakedness (our exposed spiritual condition) is a disgrace, then the godly reasons why we wear clothing today are to cover our spiritual uncleanness and our nudity (cf. Genesis 3:7, 10-11, 21; Exodus 32:25; 1 Samuel 18:4; and 2 Samuel 18:11, etc.). In fact, it is because of Adam’s fall that we have spiritual uncleanness (sin). His fall also is the reason why we know that we must be careful that our sexual mores do not offend others, and the way we do this is by making sure we are wearing enough clothes, especially making sure that we are covering all the taboo places.
People having to wear clothes started in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Back then and back there, after their spiritual eyes were opened, Adam made a loin-covering for them called chagowr, which in the Hebrew language means a loincloth, which is a type covering that shields from immodesty (cf. Genesis 3:7). This loin-covering should not be confused with the ‘ezowr of Jeremiah 13:1, for an ‘ezowr is a waistband or waistcloth, which is more like a sash or belt used to hold undergarments in place; however, like the chagowr, the ‘ezowr is considered to be an innermost piece of clothing.
Consequently, the loincloth became a customary piece of clothing, at least during the Jewish people’s earliest periods, for during that time the men of all social levels wore the loincloth. Then, at a much later date, the linen shirt, which was worn beneath the upper tunic and the outer garment, displaces the future priestly underpants (michnasayim)—linen breeches worn by the High Priest and priests that extended from their waist to their knees. They wore these pants as a covering for their nakedness (cf. Exodus 28:42)—and, as already mentioned, these pants displaced the loincloth.
Before we leave the Garden of Eden, there are two more pieces of clothing to mention. Even though it is not directly stated, the fact that Adam’s loincloths are called a chagowr (a loin-covering) suggests that Adam had to keep this loincloth from dropping, so he must have had a built-in girdle or sash, which would be a second necessary body garment. The third necessary body garment that can be traced back to the Garden of Eden is the “coat” of animal skins, called the kethoneth, which God makes for the fallen Adam and Eve (cf. Genesis 3:21). Like the later kethoneth, and by the way kethoneth means “cover,” this item also is called a tunic, shirt, robe, and/or garment. Also, like the later kethoneth, this piece of clothing will cover Adam and Eve from their neck down to their feet.
Now, even though Adam already has made loincloths with possible sashes out of fig leaves, he still is in for an unexpected eye-opener. As already stated, God has to make Adam and Eve more garments, and they are not made from fig leaves. Their garments are made out of animal skins. Therefore, the fact that God has to make them more clothes, and the fact that His clothes will cover more than the couple’s private parts underscore this Divine Truth: Human righteousness can never cover spiritual or heavenly righteousness. This truth is exactly why our bridal attire of the future will consist of the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness. In other words, whatever righteousness we might earn from the “good” works that we do on earth and from our completion of God’s sanctifying process, our righteousness still will not surpass the righteousness of Christ, which is why we must wear clothing/coverings, even in Heaven! Anyway, so far, we see that three of the six most common Jewish body garments originated in the Garden of Eden.
Next, around the time when Moses and the Israelites were in the wilderness, God commands Aaron and his sons to wear holy garments that confirm the fact that they were anointed, consecrated, and sanctified by God. The garments that the priests would wear also confirm their righteous standing with God—a righteousness that is equivalent to the New Testament saints being justified or clothed in Christ’s righteousness. Only while clothed in these holy garments would the Tabernacle and later Temple priests be allowed to minister in the priest’s office and/or come to the altar in the Holy Place (cf. Exodus 28:41-43; Exodus 29:29).
Interesting enough, Aaron (a High Priest) and his sons (priests) wore the same type of garments. Those priestly garments that relate to the Bride of Christ’s attire will be the clothing mentioned in the next two paragraphs.
Once again, Aaron and his sons wore a pair of linen underpants called michnasayim, which were made of fine white linen, and these underpants extended from their neck to their feet (cf. Exodus 28:42). Aaron and his sons also wore a kethoneth made of pure linen. This tunic covered their body from their neck to their feet, and it had sleeves reaching to their wrists. The only difference between the High Priest’s tunic and the priests’ tunic is that the High Priest’s kethoneth was embroidered (cf. Exodus 28:39-40). Next is the “girdle,” or sash, or belt called avnet or ‘abnet, which is made of fine linen or leather and is worn around the waist or under the breast. Sometimes, this “girdle” had a pouch in which to keep money. For the High Priest this “girdle” is embroidered with fine linen, blue, purple and scarlet threads (cf. Exodus 28:39 and 39:29), and the priests’ “girdle” is plain.
Lastly, Aaron and his sons wore a kittel, which is a white linen robe that looks somewhat like a bathrobe. The white color symbolizes purity. Jewish men who were not priests, on special occasions, also wore a kittel to signify purity, humility, holiness, and new beginnings. Traditionally, a Jewish man first wears a kittel on his wedding day, thereafter on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover, and so did the Tabernacle and Temple priests. Finally, a Jewish man also would wear a kittel as a burial shroud.
Having laid that foundation about regularly worn ancient Jewish clothing, it is time to look at the four most traditional Jewish body garments. Based on Old and New Testament Scriptures, also Rabbinic literature, these four most traditional Jewish body garments are: (1) the Hebrew chaluq and the Rabbinic kittuna; (2) the kethoneth, in the Hebrew language, and the chiton in the Greek language; (3) the simlah, in the Hebrew language, and the himation, in the Greek language, which also are similar to the Hebrew tallith and the Rabbinic goltha; and (4) the Hebrew chagowr, or ‘ezowr, or ‘abnet, which respectively are a loincloth or girdle, or a belt . . . sash . . . waistband . . . waistcloth or waistcoat.
The most common Jewish body garments also were called Inner or Innermost Garment, Under Tunic, or Under Garment; Upper Garment, Second or Upper Tunic, or Underdress; and Outer Garment or Cloak, Mantle, Robe, or Shawl. These titles also will be used from here forward.
The Innermost or Under Garment, also called chaluq, is a rather long “undergarment,” usually reaching down to the knees, and, like the displaced loincloth called chagowr, the chaluq is a piece of clothing that is nearest to the skin. Chaluq also is a very close-fitting garment that resembles a shirt; indeed, chaluq is translated as “real shirt” or Under Tunic. It only has openings for the neck and arms, and it extends to the feet. For some people, the chaluq or Under Tunic usually doubled as undergarments, since wearing loincloths was not a universal practice. This garment, however, is a necessary piece of clothing not only for a teacher but also for anyone who plans on standing up in the synagogue to read and “targum” (translate) the Scriptures.
Now, Jewish men and women wore the same kind of Innermost or Under Garment. Once again, this Innermost or Under Garment is the chaluq or the Rabbinic kittuna, a close-fitting piece of clothing that resembles a shirt. Jewish men and women also wore a similar girdle or waistband (chagowr and/or ‘ezowr in the Hebrew language, and zone in the Greek language), which held the chaluq or the Rabbinic kittuna close to the body. When folded, the waistband also served not only as a belt to hold up flowing garments but also, since this waistband was hollow, it served as a pocket in which to carry money. Concerning the chaluq or kittuna, this Innermost or Under Garment often was made of wool, cotton, or linen. When the Innermost or Under Garment was made of linen, it then could be used as either a nightshirt or a gown. When a person only wore the linen Under Garment, the individual was described as being naked (cf. 1 Samuel 19:24; Isaiah 20:2-4; Mark 14:51; John 21:7). Symbolically, this garment represents the imputed righteousness of Christ that now has been implanted within the saints.
The kethoneth is a Second Tunic or Underdress worn over the chaluq but under the Outer Garment, and the kethoneth usually was woven throughout without any seam. The kethoneth is “long shirt” with short or long sleeves, generally long sleeves, and it fell either to the knees or ankles. If designed for a “dress” occasion, it reached almost to the ground. The kethoneth was most often made of wool or linen, and it had an opening for the neck and arms, and it often was belted (by a sash) at the waist.
This particular Upper Garment has been translated wrongly as “coat,” for example, in Genesis 37:31-33, Exodus 28:4, Matthew 5:40, Luke 6:29, and John 19:23; or as “coats of skins” Genesis 3:21 and Song of Solomon 5:3; or as “coat of many colours” Genesis 37:3 and 23; or as garment in Jude 1:23; or as clothes in Mark 14:63. The “coat,” “garment,” and “clothes” translations are wrong, simply because the Old Testament Hebrew word kethoneth and the New Testament Greek word chiton both mean a tunic or a robe! Thus, when “two coats” were worn (cf. Luke 3:11; see also Matthew 10:10; and Mark 6:9), the real meaning is that they wore two tunics or two robes. Generally, people only wore one kethoneth or chiton. Moreover, a kethoneth or chiton symbolizes poverty, and this truth is why Christ instructs His disciples, whom He is about to send to the House of Israel, to not take “two coats.”
Lastly, there is the simlah, which is a “cloak” or “mantle” in the King James Version, as well as in the Revised Version (both British and American), and simlah also is used in the plural for “garments” or “clothes” in general. The Outer Garment simlah (from the Old Testament) is very much like the Hebrew word for shawl, which is tallith (in the Talmud; beged in the Old Testament [cf. Numbers 15:38-40]). The one difference between the simlah and tallith is that the simlah appears in some cases to have been a loose robe. In most other cases, simlah refers to a large square piece of cloth with fringes (in Old Testament tsiytsith; from the Torah, tzitzit) that are on the end of its four corners.
It, however, is important to note here that fringes were attached to the corners of EVERY square garment! Nevertheless, a simlah is like a modern shawl, for it also could be wrapped around the person, with more or less taste and comfort.
The Outer Garment, cloak, mantle, robe or shawl (simlah in the Hebrew language, and himation in the Greek language), generally was made of animal skin or wool, with openings for the arms. It was worn draped over one or both shoulders. Since a man also was considered naked if he wasn’t wearing his cloak, he was forbidden to lend or pledge this Outer Garment. Furthermore, at night he removed it and used it as a blanket (cf. Exodus 22:27; Deuteronomy 22:17). Lastly, this Outer Garment, or cloak, or mantle, or robe, or shawl, was worn over the kethoneth or chiton; it often was used as a cloak, and it frequently was used by poor people and by travelers, as their only covering at night.
To hold the chaluq, kethoneth, and simlah in place, the Hebrews used a “girdle,” which is, as already stated, the ‘ezowr, the chagowr or the ‘abnet in the Hebrew language, zone in the Greek, and the sash or belt in English. The girdle/sash was a necessary and almost universal article of clothing, which is why it was commonly used with all the garments worn by most people back in Jesus the Christ’s day, Jewish and Gentile. Besides meaning modesty, the “girdle” also means righteousness. Indeed, in Isaiah 11:5, the prophet says the following about the Jewish Messiah: “Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist.” This verse essentially means that as the “girdle” has a controlling and binding influence over all clothing, the qualities of righteousness and faithfulness also have a controlling and binding influence over all of Christ’s purposes and actions. Indeed, Christ is described in this verse as, “…Son of Man, clothed with a robe which reached to His feet and with a girdle of gold about His breast” (Revelation 1:13, AMP). It sounds like even the Lord wears a girdle (or will wear one in the future) as part of His holy garments.
Now, when the Bride of Christ is raptured, she will be wearing the four most ancient but common Jewish clothing. For sure, Christ gives the Bride of Christ the linen “garment,” here referring to the raptured saints’ righteous acts or deeds (cf. Revelation 19:8), which is why the plural form of righteousness is used in the Word of God, because the Bride’s linen “garment” represents Her (every Body of Christ member’s) own external versions of the righteousness and holiness that are on the inside of Christ. In other words, the imputed righteousness of Christ not only has covered the saints but also has been implanted within each saint. As a result, every raptured saint has displayed that implanted righteousness as “good” works. Christ’s Bride, therefore, is given the white linen “garment” to wear because of Her holy and righteous deeds, which each member of the Bride accomplished while on earth.
In fact, just as Aaron and his sons wore the same type of garments that the High Priest wore, New Testament believers (a type of priest like the sons of Aaron) will wear the same kind of priestly garments as their High Priest, Jesus the Christ, wears (i.e., garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness). This last statement means that everything on Jesus the Christ, believers’ High Priest, will resemble the holy garments that the High Priests and priests wore, and by extension, will resemble the Bride of Christ’s garments. That is to say, Jesus the Christ and raptured believers’ linen garments will be righteous and holy garments, because everything the High Priests and priests wore that was made of linen speaks of essential righteousness and holiness!
Now, since Aaron the High Priest and his sons wear a linen girdle or sash/belt called ‘abnet (of fine linen embroidered in blue, purple and scarlet for the High Priest and white, twined linen for the priests), and since the Prophet Isaiah says that righteousness and faithfulness will be the girdle of Christ’s loins (cf. Isaiah 11:5), then the girdle also symbolizes Christ’s righteousness that encircles and closely and inseparably binds every believer to Him, just like His intrinsic righteousness and faithfulness characteristics follow Him as closely and inseparably as a tight-fitting garment does to the body it is encircling. The closeness and binding nature of His righteousness and faithfulness, then, means that the Bride of Christ comes to Heaven already wearing Christ’s righteousness—righteousness that believers did not and could not earn by doing “good” works.
Indeed, Christ is the raptured saints’ “girdle” that encircles them—justifies believers so that they are in right standing with God. Since the “girdle” is often the closest piece of clothing to the body, then Christ’s girdle, His imputed righteousness, represents the righteous seeds that are implanted and cultivated within His Bride, which, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, eventually produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Her—will bring forth Her “good” fruits or Her holy and righteous deeds, as well as Her obedience and faithfulness to Christ. Then too, Christ’s “girdle,” as do all biblical girdles, symbolizes a readiness and preparedness position that His Bride must continuously be in, like that of a warrior prepared and ready for battle. Additionally, the “girdle” represents the Bride’s patient, humble and willing to serve Christ character. These truths are why the raptured Bride is allowed to wear Her fine white linen garment (cf. Revelation 19:8).
Additionally, as one of their holy garments, the High Priest and priests also wear a fine white linen garment like that which Christ and His Bride also wear. The Upper Garment or Second Tunic that Christ’s Bride receives permission to wear is the Upper Garment or Second Tunic, also called the Underdress. In the Hebrew language, this garment is the kethoneth, and it is called the chiton in the Greek language.
Christ also wears this Upper or Underdress Garment, which is worn over the chaluq. The Apostle John writes:
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, one share for each soldier, and also the tunic (the long shirt-like undergarment). But the tunic was seamless, woven [in one piece] from the top throughout. So they said to one another, Let us not tear it, but let us cast lots to decide whose it shall be. This was to fulfill the Scripture, They parted My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots. So the soldiers did these things. ~ John 19:23-24, AMP
In the above verses, the Amplified Bible Version (AMP) uses “garments,” in verse 23, which in the Greek language of the King James Version (KJV) also is “garments,” and this English word is translated from the Greek word himation (meaning a robe, cloak, mantle, or shawl); the AMP also uses the word tunic, which in the KJV is “coat,” and these English words are translated from the Greek word chiton (meaning a tunic, undergarment, garment, or vestment); and lastly, the AMP word “garments” in verse 24 is the KJV word “raiment,” and these two English words are translated from the Greek word himation (meaning a robe, cloak, mantle, or shawl).
The point of the above paragraph is to show how, from John 19:23-24, in which the Apostle John is speaking about Jesus the Christ’s clothing, it is clear to see that at the time of the Lord’s crucifixion He had been wearing the Upper or Underdress Garment (the chiton or tunic), under the Outer Garment or himation (meaning cloak, mantle, shawl, or robe). Traditionally, this tunic also is white linen, which means that the Lord’s tunic (the white + the linen) again symbolizes His righteousness. Moreover, His righteousness cannot be divided, for the Roman soldiers cast lots for His tunic instead of tearing it into pieces like they tore His Outer Garment (mantle, shawl, cloak, or robe)! The fact that the Roman soldiers did not rip up the Lord’s Upper Garment implies that a person is either wholly righteous or not righteous at all, for, once again, righteousness CANNOT be divided!
Now, since Jesus was both a Jewish teacher and believers’ High Priest, many scholars tend to think that instead of the himation, the Lord more than likely was wearing a Rabbinic goltha, which is similar to the Hebrew tallith. A tallith is worn over the chaluq (the Innermost or Under Garment that, according to some scholars, also is woven without any seams).
Based on the fact that the Roman soldiers had removed the Lord’s Upper and Outer garments, it might seem like the Lord was literally naked on the Cross—that He wasn’t wearing a thing. Yet, it is more probable that the Lord was wearing a loincloth, which, probably is the reason why when He removed His Outer Garment at the Last Supper, as He prepared to wash His disciples’ feet, He girded His loins with a towel. The Apostle John records the following about the Lord, saying He: “Got up from supper, took off His garments, and taking a [servant’s] towel, He fastened it around His waist” (John 13:4, AMP). So, after removing His “garments”—His Outer Garment and the sash/belt/girdle that held it together—the Lord then puts a “towel” around His waist, instead of the removed sash/belt/girdle, before He starts to wash His disciples’ feet. The “towel” (linen cloth), thus, now becomes His righteous and faithful ‘ezowr (sash or girdle) that not only closely and inseparably holds His undergarments next to His body, but also, when He uses this “towel” to wipe their feet, covers His disciples in His righteousness and closely and inseparably binds them even that much more to Him.
Furthermore, the fact that the soldiers stripped Christ of His Outer Garment and Second Tunic doesn’t mean that Christ was literally naked. Scriptures and Rabbinic literature declare that a Jewish man is considered “naked” if he gives away or is without his Outer Garment, as well as considered “naked” if he has removed his Upper Garment or Second Tunic, even though an Under Garment or Under Tunic, which doubles as a night shirt, would still be there.
The point is that it very well could be that the Lord was wearing the traditional (1) chagowr, a loincloth; (2) a chaluq, the Under Tunic; (3) an ‘ezowr, a girdle; and (4) a goltha, an Outer Garment. That He possibly would be wearing all of the linen clothing like a High Priest would wear to a sacrificial offering makes real sense, since Christ is about to become the sacrificial Lamb.
Consequently, because of what Christ is sacrificing, God would not let His Son hang stark naked on the Cross. After all, Christ has come into this world to take away the sins of this world. That, at His crucifixion, He has taken on all of the sins of the world in and of itself means that He now is to God the Father a spiritually naked—unclean—person. Thus, if God did not leave Adam and Eve’s literally naked and spiritually unclean bodies without some kind of covering, it stands to reason that He would not allow His Son to be spiritually and literally naked on the Cross. Therefore, it is highly probable that Christ had been stripped down to His loincloth!
Christ was fully dressed and wearing the four most important body clothing, when the soldiers took Him out of the Garden of Gethsemane. Once again, those pieces of holy clothing on Jesus the Christ were: the chaluq, the Under Tunic or “real shirt” of a fine white linen, held together by a fine white linen ‘ezowr (girdle), the kethoneth or chiton (woven without any seams longer tunic that reached His feet), also of fine white linen, which He wore over His chaluq; and the himation (or possibly the goltha or tallith), of a fine white linen, as well. As mentioned before, since the goltha in Rabbinic literature is the garment the High Priest wore, then it is more than likely the Lord was wearing this garment, too, and His is in white linen.
This somewhat detailed discussion on the most common ancient Jewish garments, the High Priest and priests’ garments, and Jesus the Christ’s garments have been the background for the final critical analysis. It is very important for believers to understand that the white linen Upper or Underdress Garment, which the Bridegroom (Christ) gives His Bride (New Testament believers/saints) permission to wear, is worn over the Innermost or Under Garment and under the Outermost robe (or kittel). This white linen garment mentioned in Revelation 19:8, thus, symbolizes the righteousness of the saints—the saints’ own intrinsic righteousness, which is obtained by way of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in each individual who cooperates with Him, and by each individual’s own “good” works. In other words, this white linen garment only goes to the believers who prepared themselves and/or made themselves ready for their Bridegroom’s coming by not committing any spiritual adultery! That is to say that Christ’s imputed righteousness has been implanted in them, and those implanted seeds have grown to fruition, culminating in the production of bushels of choice spiritual fruits.
Nevertheless, before the Bride is raptured, She knows that the threat of spiritual adultery continues to be a ubiquitous temptation and, therefore, a serious option for many. This truth is why the Apostle Paul’s words also warn today’s believers about being mindful of the consequences for committing spiritual adultery. He writes:
For I am zealous for you with a godly eagerness and a divine jealousy, for I have betrothed you to one Husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But [now] I am fearful, lest that even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, so your minds may be corrupted and seduced from wholehearted and sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For [you seem readily to endure it] if a man comes and preaches another Jesus than the One we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the [Spirit] you [once] received or a different gospel from the one you [then] received and welcomed; you tolerate [all that] well enough! (2 Corinthians 11:2-4, AMP)
In these perilous times, the biblical passage that should come to mind here, which supports the above-mentioned spiritual truths about the Bride of Christ needing to remain spiritually chaste, is Isaiah 61:10. Though this verse is about God’s Bride, Israel, Isaiah 61:10 still corresponds with the Bride of Christ passage found in Revelation 19:8, because they both present the image of a Bride who is without any inward spot or wrinkle and dressed in fine white linen. In Revelation 19:8, however, the Bride of Christ is given her garment for Her to dress herself in this fine white linen clothing, which, once again, refers to the righteousness of the saints. Each member of the Body of Christ, thus, has earned his or her fine white linen wedding gift garment, by his or her own actions that are righteous and faithful. In contrast, God, in Isaiah 61:10, is the One dressing His chosen people. He is putting His garments of salvation and robe of righteousness on them, which sounds like God is dressing them in the Lord’s imputed righteousness and justification.
This last point is why Isaiah 61:10 also brings to mind Isaiah 52:1. The Isaiah 52:1 Scripture is God’s exhortation to His chosen people. God urges: “Awake, awake, clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion; Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments.” The difference between the two Isaiah verses is that, in Isaiah 52:1, God’s people dress themselves in their own idea of fine linen garments, as opposed to Isaiah 61:10, where God is the One who dresses His people with His garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness, like they already were bridegrooms and brides.
The point here is that when God personally dresses His people/wedding guests, or gives them the appropriate attire, their garments are indeed righteous, pure, and beautiful; however, when His people/wedding guests dress themselves in their own version of righteous, pure, and beautiful garments, their clothing might or might not meet God’s standards. Furthermore, Isaiah 61:10’s verse also is about those who wear the Lord’s righteousness, which God has dressed them in, and about the fact that He puts them in His garments so that they will be admired by all the nations, just not for themselves, but rather so that they can show the redeeming power of the LORD to everyone.
While the Isaiah verses pertain to the Hebrews, another Scripture that comes to mind that has to do with New Testament saved by Grace and hopeful to become the Bride of Christ believers is Matthew 22:11. This verse concerns a wedding guest who shows up to the wedding banquet wearing inappropriate clothing. In the Wedding Banquet Parable (Matthew 22:1-14), God invites some last minute, 11th-hour guests, some of whom were “bad” (of a bad nature or bad condition, spiritually speaking) and “good” (of a good nature or good condition, spiritually speaking) [cf. Matthew 22:10]. The King, who is God, also had provided the appropriate attire for all of His invited guests (possibly the Jewish kittel, a white line robe that signifies purity, holiness and new beginnings. Traditionally, Jewish priests and Jewish bridegrooms, Jewish married men, and cantors wear a kittel. Since the kittel also is used as a burial shroud, this garment then serves to remind Jewish people about mankind’s mortality and the need for teshuvah (repentance and new beginnings).
Whether the robe the King’s invited guests wear is a kittel or not, there can be no doubt that this robe will be a white linen robe, symbolizing that it also is a holy garment. Indeed, the word that the Apostle John uses in the following verses for robe is the Greek word stole, which is a garment worn by kings, priests, and people of rank! The apostle writes:
Then they were each given a long and flowing and festive white robe and told to rest and wait patiently a little while longer, until the number should be complete of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (Revelation 6:11; cf. 7:13-14)
After this I looked and a vast host appeared which no one could count, [gathered out] of every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages. These stood before the throne and before the Lamb; they were attired in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. (Revelation 7:9)
Since the saints are members of a “royal priesthood” (cf. 1 Peter 2:9), then the white robe the Apostle John speaks about, whether a stole or a kittel, clearly will be a holy garment. Furthermore, the wedding garment has to be a holy garment too, because the particular guest in the Wedding Banquet Parable is cast out (cf. Matthew 22:11-13), forbidden to sit at the Banquet Table, even though he is invited to the banquet. The Word of God makes is clear that those who are cast into outer darkness are those who have not sought the only One who can cleanse their uncleanness with His shed blood and cover their filthy-rag righteousness with His pure righteousness.
Thus, the one guest who chose not to wear the appropriate attire (chose not to accept Christ’s imputed righteousness) not only showed his bad nature/condition—his nakedness or outward righteousness that reflected his inward lack of true spirituality, which reduced all of his righteous actions to filthy rags (cf. Isaiah 64:6)—but also he showed that he is someone who has rejected Christ’s righteousness right in front of the King (God). This guest was neither wearing God’s new garments of salvation nor the robe of righteousness (both of which Christ offers), but rather he was wearing his own filthy-spotted garments that symbolize a sin-sick world.
Still, God asks the guest how he got into the wedding hall without having on the proper clothing. If he had opened his mouth and given a response that includes a plea for forgiveness, no doubt God would have allowed him to repent and then given him the necessary clothing (cf. Zechariah 3:1-4; Isaiah 52:1 and 61:10). But since this guest remained silent, God’s judgment was all that this guest could expect.
Then too, being someone who has rejected Christ’s righteousness meant that this guest was not glowing with the redeeming power of the Lord. This guest’s appearance brings home the Divine Truth of the Wedding Banquet, which is that God calls (invites) many to participate in His Son’s wedding supper feast, but only a few of these invited folks will actually be chosen to sit at the Lord’s dinner table. To sit at this table, the chosen invitees must be wearing the garments of salvation (the Innermost and Upper Garments that prove a person has worked out his or her own salvation (makes him or herself ready/prepared [cf. Philippians 2:12]) and the robe of righteousness (a.k.a., Outer Garment or cloak, mantle, or shawl)—the outward expression of Christ’s intrinsic righteousness that He has imputed to all saints, that which He wraps around every born again, saved, and justified believer.
The final point is that in the “visible” church there will be many people sitting on pews who are not truly born again, saved, and justified. For sure, both the “bad” and the “good” are worshipping together in the institutional church, and many believers cannot tell the difference between the two (proven in the Wedding Banquet parable by the servants God sends out into the highways to invite wedding guests), which is why the Lord has to do the end-time separating!
Lastly, several end time prophecy scholars have said that they believe many “saints” will just get into Heaven with the smell of smoke on them, and that these “saints” will stand before the Lord naked . . . in this sense, literally not wearing any garments at all, for they have not lived a lifestyle that typifies righteousness and holiness. This image is supported by the words of the Apostle Paul who writes:
But if anyone builds upon the Foundation, whether it be with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, The work of each [one] will become [plainly, openly] known (shown for what it is); for the day [of Christ] will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done. If the work which any person has built on this Foundation [any product of his efforts whatever] survives [this test], he will get his reward. But if any person’s work is burned up [under the test], he will suffer the loss [of it all, losing his reward], though he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has passed] through fire. ~ 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, AMP
These “saints” that the apostle and end time prophecy scholars speak of as just getting in to Heaven with the smell of smoke on them AND those “saints” who end-time prophecy scholars say might not have on any holy garments should make us sit up and take notice. The Word of God is clear about those “saints” who will smell like smoke, having just missed the Lake of Fire. Thus, it is not hard to see that it also might be possible that some Bride of Christ members could stand before the Lord stripped naked. To that end, this could mean that even some of the Bride of Christ might not receive the white linen garment, but rather a lesser quality bridal dress, which will permit them to sit at the banquet table. Think about it. If everyone in the Bride of Christ were worthy of wearing this white linen garment, why would Christ have to grant (consent, acknowledge, or, in the Amplified version, permit) Her the right to wear the holy garment?
If the above scenario is 100% accurate, then hopefully Christ will continue to be gracious to those of us, who fit the smell of smoke and naked description to a T, and give us the white robe to wear, even if we don’t get to wear the Bride’s white linen, which represents the saints’ righteous deeds. Something to think about, for sure!
For more details, please read my “A Contextual Analysis of Christ’s Many Called, Few Chosen Paradox” and “What Will Your RSVP Be To The King’s Invitation?” blog entries.