The Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 7)By Pastor Boffey on Sunday, January 30, 2011.
The Parables of Matthew 13 I. There are eight parables in Matthew 13 that speak of the kingdom of heaven. A. There is the parable of the sower. vs. 3-8. B. There is the parable of the wheat and tares. vs. 24-30. C. There is the parable of mustard seed. vs. 31-32. D. There is the parable of the leavened meal. v. 33. E. There is the parable of the treasure hid in a field. v. 44. F. There is the parable of the pearl of great price. vs. 45-46. G. There is the parable of the net. vs. 47-50. H. There is the parable of the householder. v. 52. I. The themes in these parables are of sowing, growth, harvest, corruption, mingling of good and bad, great cost, sorting out and judgment. These are various aspects of the kingdom of heaven. II. MAT 13:3 is the first occurrence in the New Testament of the word “parable(s).” A. Heretofore, the indications are that Jesus had scarcely used parables. MAR 3:23-27 c/w MAT 12:25-29; LUK 5:36. B. But now to the multitudes He only taught in parables that were unexplained. MAT 13:34 c/w MAR 4:33-34. C. Christ did this to fulfill prophecy (MAT 13:35) and prevent the conversion of the multitudes. MAR 4:11-12. 1. Lest: Used as a negative particle of intention or purpose, introducing a clause expressive of something to be prevented or guarded against. 2. His miracles and plain preaching had heretofore been witnessed by multitudes but had produced proportionately little conversion in them. 3. Jesus turned now to parables to suit their hardness of heart while reserving the explanation of the parables to His disciples. D. Parables are to be understood according to the way Christ explains them and/or by applying the rules of Bible study. III. The parable of the sower and its explanation is recorded in MAT 13:3-23. A. The parallel renderings are found in MAR 4:2-20; LUK 8:4-15. B. In overview, this parable teaches us: 1. the word of God is spread indiscriminately. 2. recipitur ad modum recipientis – The reception depends upon the receiver. The fruitfulness of the word of God depends on the condition of the hearer. 3. of the four types of people described here who hear the word, only one brings forth fruit unto perfection. 4. that the dedicated followers of gospel truth will be proportionately few. 5. full evidence of grace is only found in hearing, doing and faithfully persevering in the word of God. 6. the need for self-examination in light of what we have been taught. MAT 7:19-20; 2JO 1:8; JUDE 1:12-13. C. The following are some general observations from Scripture about sowing. 1. “...and sow not among thorns” (JER 4:3). Wisdom recognizes that there are unprofitable venues for one's labors. c/w MAT 7:6. 2. Sowing requires discretion (ISA 28:24-26). There are appropriate places for The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 1 various seed. ISA 61:1-3 c/w PRO 25:11. Sowing/planting is seasonal and requires capitalizing on that season. ECC 3:2 c/w PRO 15:23; 2TI 4:2 c/w HEB 3:12-13. 4. Imperfect conditions or outcome projections should not hinder sowing. ECC 11:4, 6; PSA 126:5-6; GAL 6:9. 5. The Law forbade sowing a field with mingled seed. LEV 19:19. a. Mingle: To mix (things together or one thing with another) so that they become physically united or form a new combination; to combine in a mixture, to blend. b. Consider the error of sowing the gospel seed with unscriptural footnotes or commentaries, false science, man's traditions, etc., or of teaching a hybridized gospel of grace and Law. GAL 5:3-4. 6. “...He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly...” (2CO 9:6). c/w ACT 20:20, 27. 7. Seed reproduces itself. GEN 1:12 c/w GAL 6:7-8. 8. The sower may not be the one who reaps. LUK 19:21-22 c/w JOH 4:35-38. 9. Planting is only one factor. 1CO 3:6-7. Consider the parable's symbolism. 1. The seed is the word of God/word of the kingdom. MAT 13:19; LUK 8:11. a. The word of God is the gospel of the kingdom. MAT 24:14; ACT 28:23. b. Scripture declares the God-man Jesus Christ as King over a durable kingdom by virtue of His resurrection from the dead. ACT 2:29-36; HEB 12:28-29. c. Without the bodily resurrection of Christ, there is no good news (gospel) and obviously no kingdom. 1CO 15:17-24. d. The word of the kingdom brought forth much fruit in the brethren at Colosse. COL 1:3-18. 2. The sower is obviously one who is spreading the word. a. This may refer to Christ Who was anointed to preach the gospel and Who is elsewhere depicted as a sower. LUK 4:18-19; MAT 13:37. b. This may also refer to Christ's ministers who sow spiritual things and who are laborers together with him. 1CO 9:11; 3:5-9; 2CO 5:20. c. This could even refer to believers in general who witness to others about the gospel of Jesus Christ. d. Mind that there is no indication that the sower is frustrated by the lack of profit in the majority of cases. This is to be expected. 1CO 9:22. e. That the sower casts seed in unproductive areas is no slight on the sower. (1) His fundamental duty is sowing, not reaping. 1CO 1:14-17. (2) God will be glorified in fruitless rejection as well as in fruitful reception. 2CO 2:14-16. 3. The diverse types of ground are diverse types of individuals who hear the word of God. a. There are some who don't understand it and so no good comes of it at all. b. There are some who immediately receive the word with joy but fall away when tribulation or persecution arise for the word's sake. c. There are some who hear the word but are geared towards carnal and material interests which choke the word out. d. There are some who hear the word, understand it and persevere in it so as to 3. D. The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 2 bring forth much fruit. c/w JOH 15:8. (1) These are the only ones that are said to understand the word. (2) The rest just don't “get it.” e. The diverse types of hearers may be in the world or they may be in the church. 1JO 2:19; JUDE 1:4. f. That some of the hearers do not produce lasting fruit may not necessarily mean that they could not be partakers of Christ. (1) Sometimes those in Christ do not bring forth fruit. JOH 15:2. (2) Where there is consistently no fruit though all the elements for production are there, judgment is inevitable. LUK 13:6-9. LUK 8:5 says, “A sower went out to sow HIS seed...” 1. Christ ministered His gospel, not the philosophies or traditions of men. LUK 4:18. 2. Christ's ministers should do likewise: minister the seed of the word which declares Christ. 1CO 15:1-4; 1JO 1:1-3; GAL 3:1. a. They are to preach Christ, not themselves. 2CO 4:5. b. Man's wisdom and fables are further not the seed to be sown. 1CO 2:4-5; 2PE 1:16. c. This is a general rule for all Christians. 1PE 4:11. 3. Christ's ministers are further to attend to THEIR ministry: the one which God has given them. ROM 15:20; 2CO 10:13-16; COL 4:17. 4. “For every man shall bear HIS OWN burden” (GAL 6:5). MAT 25:14-15; JOH 21:18-22. 5. Mind also that the sower is active; the seed is not left in storage. MAT 5:14-16. a. Ministers are to, as required, do the work of an evangelist. 2TI 4:5. b. Paul could say that he had “...fully preached the gospel of Christ” (ROM 15:19). c. Paul taught “...publickly, and from house to house,” (ACT 20:20). d. The word of the Lord SOUNDED OUT from the church at Thessalonica (1TH 1:8), without a website! e. Brethren are admonished to inspire questions in those that are without and to be ready with answers. COL 4:5-6; 1PE 3:15. f. Let us not be ashamed of Christ's gospel for any reason. ROM 1:16; MAR 8:38. Consider the seed sown by the wayside. MAT 13:4, 19. 1. These are they which receive not the word with understanding. 2. Satan is the wicked one who snatches the words away. MAR 4:15. a. Satan has always had a great enmity to the words of God and their effects in the hearts of men. GEN 3:1-6. b. Mind that Satan is figured here as fowls (plural). (1) They are birds of the air even as he is the prince of the power of the air. EPH 2:2. (2) Satan does not work alone. REV 12:9. (3) He has multiple darts to use. EPH 6:16. (4) Where the gospel has an open door, many adversaries may be expected. 1CO 16:9. c. MAT 13:19 says the word was sown IN their hearts. This implies that the word got into their hearts but that was inadequate to bring about a desired E. F. The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 3 result. (1) The word was sown in the heart but obviously did not germinate and take root. (2) Fruitful hearers lay up, ponder, keep and hide the word in their hearts. It does not just lie on the surface. JOB 22:22; PSA 119:11; LUK 2:19, 51. d. LUK 8:12 says that the devil takes the word out of their hearts “...LEST they should believe and be saved.” (1) There is no profit in the preached word to the unbelieving. HEB 4:2. (2) This also shows a connection between understanding and faith. c/w JOH 8:43-46. (3) The multitude whose heart was waxed gross “...LEST....they should understand with their heart...” (MAT 13:15) was much like the wayside hearer in the parable. 3. LUK 8:5 notes that the seed/word is trodden down. a. This indicates a situation where the word is considered worthless. MAT 5:13; 7:6. b. The truth may be scorned by those who don't understand it. 2PE 2:12. 4. Understanding of God's words is the key to making them plain. PRO 8:8-9. a. Being born of God is the first requirement for understanding. ROM 3:11; JOH 8:43-47. b. After the new birth, the understanding must be opened. LUK 24:45; EPH 1:17-18. c. The words of God must be properly defined. NEH 8:8. d. Obedience to revealed truth is then needed. PSA 111:10; 119:100. e. Without these things, the word is not received with understanding and no fruit is produced. f. A person may not understand the plain words of God because: (1) he is unregenerate. 1CO 2:14. (2) he is regenerate, but blinded by sin, tradition, presuppositional bias or prejudices. EPH 4:17-19; 2CO 3:14-16; GAL 1:13-14. (3) He is regenerate, but spiritually immature. MAT 15:16; 1CO 3:1-2; ISA 28:9. (4) He is regenerate, but mentally immature (e.g. a young child). g. If a person is of sufficient age and mental ability but does not understand God's words, he will not bring forth fruit unto perfection and the state of his soul is questionable. ROM 1:31 c/w JER 4:22. Consider the seed sown on stony ground. MAT 13:5-6, 20-21. 1. The seed fell where there was “...not much earth...no deepness of earth” (MAT 13:5). These are shallow individuals at the very least. a. The good ground which brings forth much fruit is “...an honest and good heart” (LUK 8:15). b. By analogy, therefore, the stony ground hearer has less than an honest and good heart; he has corruptions of heart that hinder his ability to maximize his potential (and these corruptions will be his downfall). c. That this ground is described as stony without much earth implies that there are more negative attributes than positive attributes in this type of hearer. G. The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 4 LUK 8:6 notes that the seed withered away “...because it lacked moisture.” This could imply that “Apollos' watering” (1CO 3:7) ran off rather than soaked in, as is the case in someone who hardens his heart against the truth. HEB 3:12-15. The seed sprang up forthwith (immediately, at once, without delay or interval), and withered away just as quick, fruitless. a. It sprang up quicker than the seed on good ground where there was sufficient earth. (1) Beware of hasty conversions! (2) God's words are most fruitful and held fast where they have been proven. 1TH 5:21; ACT 17:11-12. (3) Jesus discouraged uncircumspect discipleship. LUK 14:28-33; 9:62. b. These rapid responders receive the word with joy and “...for a while believe” (LUK 8:13). (1) True believers should receive God's word with joy. ACT 2:41. (2) Mind that such reception is not joy alone or joy for joy's sake; it is joy that is inseparably connected with the word of God. 1TH 1:6. (3) It is when we believe what Scripture tells us that we experience a valid emotion of joy in response to its testimony. ROM 15:13; 1PE 1:8. (4) Christ must dwell in our hearts by faith, not feeling! EPH 3:17. (5) Joy unruled by faith is an obstacle to true faith. LUK 24:41. (6) The stony ground hearers' feeling of joy would soon be replaced by another feeling: they are offended (v. 21). AA. Offend: To hurt or wound the feelings or susceptibilities of; to be displeasing or disagreeable to; to vex, annoy, displease, anger; now esp. To excite a feeling of personal annoyance, resentment, or disgust in (any one). BB. Those who subscribe to Christ based on emotion are likely to unsubscribe from Him by emotion. The stony ground hearer endured only until tribulation or persecution arose because of the word. There is a certain offence of the cross. GAL 5:11. a. “...by and by he is offended” (MAT 13:21). b. by and by: Of sequence of events: a. Straightway, immediately, directly, at once. c. c/w MAR 4:17, “...immediately they are offended.” d. This is not someone who finally, after long or repeated persecution, gets worn down to the point that he no longer hearkens (c/w EXO 6:9); this is someone whose belief and commitment only lasted until the first flack. e. These spring up immediately and wither away just as immediately. Quick in, quick out. f. Persecution and tribulation are promised to true disciples. 2TI 3:12; ACT 14:22. (1) Persecution: The action of persecuting or pursuing with enmity and malignity; esp. the infliction of death, torture, or penalties for adherence to a religious belief or an opinion as such, with a view to the repression or extirpation of it; the fact of being persecuted; an d. 2. 3. The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 5 instance of this. Tribulation: A condition of great affliction, oppression, or misery; ‘persecution; distress; vexation; disturbance of life.' (3) Persecution or tribulation may come because of creed or conduct. ACT 4:1-3; 1PE 4:3-4. (4) The world will demonstrate the same abhorrence to the godly elect as it did to Christ. JOH 15:18-20. (5) With the promise of tribulation is the promise of enduring love and ultimate victory. JOH 16:33; ROM 8:35-39. (6) We have had it relatively easy. HEB 12:3-4. (7) “Must I be carried to the skies on flow'ry beds of ease, While others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?” (Am I A Soldier Of The Cross, Isaac Watts) 4. The sun arose and scorched the seed on stony ground. The same sun actually works positively where the seed is cast onto good ground. 1PE 1:6-7 c/w ISA 48:10-11; LUK 21:12-13 c/w PHIL 1:12. a. God has been pleased to facilitate the growth of His church through afflictions. EXO 1:12; ACT 8:1. b. Obedience is learned through suffering. HEB 5:8; PSA 119:67, 71, 75. c. Unpleasant trials and chastening are needful pruners. JOH 15:2 c/w HEB 12:11. 5. Troubles come alike to all. How they affect a person depends upon his foundation. MAT 7:24-27. a. The stony ground hearers had “...no root in themselves” (MAR 4:17). (1) They are like mushrooms: rootless growths that pop up quickly which can thrive in the absence of light and in the presence of manure. (2) The analogy to mega-churches is too easy here. b. Fruit may only be born by being connected to the vine of life. JOH 15:4-5. (1) Mind that these words are spoken to Christ's own. (2) This “abiding” in Christ is through His word. JOH 15:7, 10. (3) Victorious believers must be rooted deeply in Christ by faith (which presupposes their acceptance of and submission to His word). COL 2:6-7; EPH 3:16-19; 1JO 5:4. c. Troubles often work ruin in professors whereas they should work “...a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2CO 4:17). Consider the seed sown on thorny ground. MAT 13:7, 22; MAR 4:19; LUK 8:14. 1. The thorns which overpower this type of hearer are the cares, lusts, pleasures of this life and the deceitfulness of riches. What the devil cannot accomplish through ignorance or persecution, he will try to accomplish with carnal concerns or materialism. a. Keep in mind that thorns are associated with the curse. GEN 3:17-18. (1) The love of money is a curse. 1TI 6:10. (2) Living in pleasure is a curse. 1TI 5:6. (3) Excessive cares are a curse. LUK 21:34. b. How many people think that they are blessed when their life is defined by cares, pleasures and riches? c. The ground which bears thorns is not blessed but rejected and nigh unto H. (2) The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 6 cursing and burning. HEB 6:7-8; LUK 12:15-21. The church at Laodicea mistook thorns for fruit. REV 3:17. Pleasures, riches and cares do have their place---but not first place. The thorny ground hearer is a reminder of the need to crucify the flesh “...with its AFFECTIONS and LUSTS” (GAL 5:22-24). Note that the seed “...fell among thorns...” (MAT 13:7). The thorns were already there. a. LUK 8:7 says, “...and the thorns sprang up with it...” The contrary elements started growing when the good seed started growing, as if the good seed stimulated the thorns' growth. b. Consider Simon the sorcerer, whose thorns grew rapidly with his “conversion.” ACT 8:9-20. c. Have you ever seen someone, upon hearing the truth, translate its message of Christ into one of personal enrichment or advancement? d. At the very least, the thorns here represent rival carnal priorities which are deemed more valuable than Christ and His truth. These thorns suck up the moisture and steal the light which should have benefited the good seed. This hearer has not counted all things loss for Christ (PHIL 3:8); he could not take “...joyfully the spoiling of his goods...” (HEB 10:34) and therefore his goods spoiled him. a. Consider Lot, who chose the Eden-like plain of Jordan (GEN 13:10-13) to the detriment of his soul. 2PE 2:8. b. Consider the rich young ruler whom Christ loved but whose goods meant too much to him. MAR 10:17-23. c. Riches can make one forget God. DEU 8:13-14; PRO 30:8-9. d. Mind that the thorny ground hearer has less than an “honest and good heart” (LUK 8:15). The possibility of dishonest gain is here. EZE 22:12-13, 27 c/w JAM 4:1-2; 5:1-6. e. PSA 119:36 is an appropriate prayer. The cares of this world can be a major obstacle to coming to Christ. LUK 14:18-20; ACT 26:28. a. The cares of this world can be an obstacle to growing in Christ. LUK 10:38-42; 1CO 7:31-33. b. Thorny ground hearers lack faith to surrender cares to Christ's oversight. 1PE 5:7; PHIL 4:6-7. c. Thorny ground hearers may lack faith to limit cares to Christ's bearable burdens. MAT 11:29-30. (1) They may assume excess responsibilities that burn them out. (2) Our God-ordained priority is to study to be quiet and to mind our own business. 1TH 4:11-12; 2TH 3:11-12; GAL 6:4-5. (3) We can not well be in the business of saving the world if we have not saved ourselves. ACT 2:40; ROM 2:21; 1TI 4:16. Love of this world is enmity with God. You can't love both. 1JO 2:15; MAT 6:24. a. Love of the world alienates people from God and His minister. NUM 16:13-14; 2TI 4:10. b. When people are more carnal-minded than spiritual-minded, they tend to blame the man of God for troubles that they have brought upon themselves. d. e. f. 2. 3. 4. 5. The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 7 1CO 3:1 c/w 2CO 6:12. About this time, the lover of this world starts to wonder why he isn't getting as much out of the sermons anymore. 6. Overindulgence in the cares and pleasures of this life are characteristic of perilous times and stand as a warning to us. 2TI 3:1, 4; LUK 17:26-30 c/w LUK 21:34. 7. The thorny ground hearer emphasizes the importance of having our hearts and affections on proper priorities. COL 3:1-3; MAT 6:31-34. Consider the seed sown on good ground. MAT 13:8, 23. 1. This type of hearer receives the word (MAR 4:20), understands it, continues in it and brings forth fruit with patience. LUK 8:15. 2. The word is received in a good and honest heart; it does not create a good and honest heart. This is a child of God with a new heart. MAT 12:33 c/w HEB 10:22. 3. This type of person is not only regenerate, but surrendered to Christ. ROM 10:8-10. 4. The seed of the word has profited him; therefore he is a man of faith who not only hears and confesses, but is a doer of the word. 1TH 2:13 c/w JAM 1:22-25; JER 17:7-8. 5. He has died to self that fruit may come forth. JOH 12:24-25 c/w MAT 10:39. a. He has died symbolically in baptism, uniting him to Christ in His church. ROM 6:4 c/w ACT 2:41, 47. b. He has died to his former ways to live unto Christ. ROM 6:6; 1PE 4:1-2. c. He has “...renounced the hidden things of dishonesty...” (2CO 4:2), in all things now willing to live honestly. HEB 13:18; 1TI 2:2. d. He is of a clean and upright heart; he walks in integrity of heart and therefore is blessed and produces good fruit. GEN 20:5-6; PSA 73:1; 125:4; MAT 12:35. e. He can approach God with confidence. 1JO 3:22-23. 6. He desires to remain in God's house. PSA 23:6; 27:4; 92:13-14. 7. He abides in Christ by abiding in His word. JOH 15:4-8; 1JO 2:6, 14. 8. He knows that the promises of God accrue to those who diligently and patiently bear fruit. HEB 6:12; ROM 2:6-7. 9. He is satisfied to endure challenges in this life in view of future reward. ROM 8:18. 10. He never gives up the fight. He keeps on keeping on. He knows what he believes, is anchored firmly in it and will not be moved from it. 2SAM 23:9-10; HEB 10:23; 2TI 1:12; 4:7-8 c/w 1CO 15:58. 11. Of the four types of hearers, the only one who has full evidence of eternal life is the last. 1JO 2:24-25. c. I. IV. The parable of the wheat and tares and its explanation is found in MAT 13:24-30, 37-43. A. The previous parable focused upon growth and bearing fruit. This parable of the kingdom of heaven focuses on harvest. c/w MAR 4:26-29. B. In overview, this parable shows us: 1. Christ is the universal King on His messianic throne. COL 1:13-18; MAT 28:18. 2. Christ now reigns from heaven regardless of the presence of contrary elements in the world. Christ was promised that His government would be “...in the midst of thine enemies” (PSA 110:1-2). The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 8 3. the just and unjust dwell together until the end of the world. REV 20:8-9. 4. there is an end to this world. 2PE 3:10-12. 5. Christ is the universal Judge. ACT 17:30-31. 6. the Messianic government endures. ISA 9:7; HEB 1:8. The symbolism of the parable is: 1. The sower of the good seed/householder is the Son of man which is Christ. MAT 12:40; 16:27. 2. The good seed/wheat are the children of the kingdom (the righteous, v. 43), the holy seed which are the true substance of this present world (and of God's church/kingdom in this world). c/w ISA 6:13. 3. The field is the world: this present evil world (GAL 1:4) which contrasts the world to come. MAT 12:32. 4. The tares are the children of the wicked one: those under the dominion of Satan and marked as such by their unrighteousness. 1JO 3:10-12. 5. The enemy is the devil, the sworn adversary of Christ and His seed. 1PE 5:8. 6. The servants of the householder are not here identified but by necessary inference are Christ's ministers and saints. PHIL 1:1; EPH 6:6. 7. The reapers are the angels who attend Christ at the Second Coming and gather all men for judgment. MAT 25:31-32; REV 14:14-16. 8. The harvest is the end of the world: the return of Christ in judgment to destroy this world and usher in a new heavens and earth. REV 21:1. Remember that “kingdom of God/the LORD” or “kingdom of heaven” may refer to different aspects of God's rule. 1. Those terms may refer to: a. God's universal rule. 1CH 29:11-12. b. the regenerate spiritual family of God. COL 1:13; ROM 5:17. c. national Israel. 2CH 13:5-8. d. the heavenly state. MAT 25:33-34; 2TI 4:18. e. the local church under the Messianic King Jesus. LUK 22:29-30 c/w 1CO 10-11. 2. These things may overlap. a. The O.T. kingdom of national Israel was a political entity under God's universal rule of which some were members of the kingdom of the regenerate spiritual family. ROM 9:6-8, 27. b. The local church is God's spiritual kingdom in this world with the Priest- King Jesus Christ (HEB 6:20-7:2) as its Head, living under His universal rule, operating as His embassy to this world, and which is meant to consist of members of the kingdom of the regenerate spiritual family. (1) This kingdom shall endure forever. MAT 16:18; EPH 3:21. (2) This kingdom, like the world, may be peppered with the children of the wicked one prior to Christ's return. JOH 6:70; MAT 22:9-14. c. Mind that God's government of this world has always been with an eye to His covenant people, His kingdom/church. GEN 12:3; DEU 32:8; PSA 105:14-15; 1PE 4:17; REV 3:9. d. Christ's government of His church is quite representative of His government of the world in general. v. 25. The enemy sowed the tares while men slept. C. D. E. The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 9 This incursion is obviously a stealthy one; the devil prefers clandestine sowing. 2PE 2:1 c/w GAL 2:4. 2. Church corruption often begins with laxity in conduct and creed, especially when its ministers abandon their doctrinal post and degrade to lightness and self-interest. JER 23:32; ISA 56:10-12. 3. A weed-infested field indicates slothfulness and a void of understanding. PRO 24:30-31. 4. It is for such reasons that saints are commanded to be watchful, sober, vigilant and earnestly contending for the faith. 1TH 5:5-8; 1CO 15:34; JUDE 1:3-4. v. 26. The tares appeared when the good seed produced fruit. 1. In an evangelistic sense, opposition arises where God opens doors of utterance. 1TH 2:2; 1CO 16:9. 2. In a practical sense, it may be observed that true spirituality in the righteous will bring the worms out of the woodwork. LUK 4:24-29; ACT 15:4-5. vs. 27-30. The servants seemed perplexed about the presence and origin of the tares and the householder makes it clear that it was not he, but an enemy which sowed them. 1. It is almost as if the servants are blaming the tares upon the householder. But the problem happened while THEY were sleeping! ct/w PSA 121:4. a. Woe unto the church upon which God has breathed the spirit of deep sleep as a judgment! ISA 29:9-10. b. Elsewhere, Jesus parabolically instructs us to “...Occupy till I come” (LUK 19:13). (1) Occupy: To take possession of, take for one's own use, seize. b. To take possession of (a place) by settling in it, or by military conquest, etc.; to enter upon the possession and holding of. (2) Occupying requires active diligence and vigilance or the opposition will take things over! 2. God is the Author of all that occasions sin (His Law and man's will), and He may suffer sin and sinners their place, but He is not the Author of sin! 1JO 2:16. 3. God suffers tares in the church as a test, refinement or judgment of the wheat. DEU 13:1-3; JDG 3:1; 1CO 11:19. 4. To their credit, these servants did recognize that the field was not theirs; it belonged to the householder. 1CO 3:9; 1PE 5:1-3. 5. The servants wonder if they should take upon themselves the responsibility of gathering up the tares. v. 28. a. Mind that Jesus explains the gathering of tares as a gathering unto the fire of final judgment. vs. 40-42. b. Such gathering is reserved unto the angels, not the children of the kingdom. c. Inasmuch as in this parable, the field is the world, this should stand against the idea that saints should presume to be the agents of God's eternal fire to the church or the world! (1) Saints do have a duty to judge temporally as touching fellowship in the church. 1CO 5:11. (2) They can only turn the unrighteous over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, not the soul. 1CO 5:5 c/w MAT 10:28. (3) “But them that are without God judgeth...” (1CO 5:12-13). d. The householder forbade them, “...Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root also up the wheat with them.” 1. F. G. The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 10 In a heady zeal for assuming God's office of eternal judgment, saints are liable to abuse saints. ACT 26:9. (2) Sleepy saints are particularly likely to conclude that some of God's elect are actually reprobates, as if someone in Christ could never be a non-bearer of fruit. JOH 15:2 c/w ROM 11:27-28. (3) Thank God that He knows His own! 2TI 2:19; JOH 10:27-28. This parable speaks of gathering in the context of Christ's Second Coming. 1. The angels have a double duty in this regard: the gathering of the tares/children of the wicked one for burning, and the gathering of the wheat/children of the kingdom into the barn/purified, glory-state of God's kingdom. c/w MAT 3:12. a. The Devil actually facilitates the angels' gathering of the tares by orchestrating a gathering of the tares for battle. REV 20:7-8; 16:14. b. By contrast, the angels' gathering of the elect will be from all corners of earth and heaven. MAR 13:27. c. This scenario is but another version of Babel: evil congregates and collectivizes in defiance of God Who scatters and disseminates. GEN 11:4. 2. The gathering of the wheat here is the gathering of the elect family from every place in heaven and earth. 2TH 2:1 c/w EPH 1:9-10. a. That will be the culmination of GEN 49:10. b. That day is the basis and incentive for Christian assembling and mutual exhortation. HEB 10:25. 3. Mind that this parable shows that Christ's kingdom is already in this world since He comes with His angels to “...gather OUT OF HIS KINGDOM all things that offend...” (v. 41) when they come to gather the elect. a. Christ is not coming to set up His kingdom in this world; He is coming to deliver up a kingdom already here. 1CO 15:23-24. b. This opposes the common theory of premillennialism which supposes that when Christ comes to “rapture” His saints, He subsequently sets up His kingdom in this world (as if it had not already been here). c. This parable also opposes that premillennial scheme in that it shows the righteous and wicked dwelling together right up to the end of the world, that there is only one gathering of the righteous, that the wicked are judged at the same time the righteous are saved, and that there is obviously no more ungodly opposition once the righteous are gathered. v. 30 c/w vs. 39-43. Premillennial theory commonly supposes that the Second Coming of Christ is in two stages: 1. The Rapture: Christ will return secretly at the conclusion of this present age (the church age) and the church will be raptured out of the world. The church will be with Christ in heaven for seven years. During this time, believers will be judged according to their works and rewarded. Also during this time the world will be going through the tribulation period under the reign of the antichrist. There will be a remnant of converted Jews who will be Christ's witnesses during this period. a. The Rapture is the “day of Christ.” b. It is related to the reward and blessing of the saints at Christ's coming. 2. The Revelation: Christ will return visibly with His saints at the conclusion of the tribulation period. The righteous who died during this tribulation period will then be resurrected. The antichrist government will be overthrown and the beast and the false prophet will be cast into the lake of fire. Christ will then bind Satan and will H. (1) I. The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 11 establish His global kingdom and reign on the earth for 1000 years (the “golden age of mankind” called the Millennium). At the end of that 1000 years, Satan will be loosed for a little season and will gather the nations against the camp of the saints. Satan will then be hurled into the lake of fire at which time will be the final judgment. The wicked dead will be raised. Earth and heaven will pass away. The wicked will be cast into the lake of fire. The new heaven and the new earth will be ushered in. a. The Revelation is the “day of the Lord.” b. It is related to judgment. The day of Christ IS the day of the Lord. 1CO 1:8. a. Jesus is both Lord AND Christ. LUK 2:11; ACT 2:36. b. Dr. C.I. Scofield in the footnotes of his Scofield Reference Bible (SRB) tries to skirt the obvious flaws in his doctrine when he comments on 2TH 2:2 where Paul had just spoken (2TH 1:7-2:1) of Christ coming in fiery judgment against rebels as a concomitant of His gathering of His saints: “The theme of Second Thessalonians is, unfortunately, obscured by a mistranslation in the A.V. Of 2.2, where “day of Christ is at hand” (1 Co.1:8, note) should be, “day of the LORD is now present...” ” (SRB, intro. to 2 Thes., p. 1271) c. This is nothing more than an effort to correct God rather than let God correct one's error. JOB 40:8. Jesus will return as He was seen departing. ACT 1:11. a. He will come bodily and visibly. It will not be secret. b. He was not seen departing in two stages. The theory of Christ returning in two stages is really setting forth a second and third coming of Christ. Scripture knows nothing of a third coming. c. As long as one tries to play word games with Scripture, why even call Christ's return the Second Coming? Why not say that His first advent was just the first stage of a three-stage coming? The coming of Christ for His saints will be visible to all and not secret. MAT 24:26-27, 30-31. a. This trumpet in MAT 24:31 has to be the same as the trumpet sounded at the rapture because that one is “the last trump” (1CO 15:52). b. The trumpet of MAT 24:31 that heralds the gathering of the elect is obviously the same as the one of 1TH 4:16. c. The trumpet of the Lord by Scriptural comparison (1CO 2:13) is not secret but VERY discernible. HEB 12:18-21. d. If God had meant to convey the idea that His coming for the saints at the rapture would be noiseless and secret, He certainly selected a poor choice of terms to describe it. 1TH 4:16. Christ will resurrect the saints at the LAST day. JOH 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:24. a. Scripture emphasizes that time will end at the resurrection of the just, but premillennialism looks to a period on earth following that. b. We are currently living in “the last days” (HEB 1:2; 9:26; 1CO 10:11; 1JO 2:18). The only day yet to be noted is THE LAST DAY, the great day of the Lord Jesus Christ. c. There is no interval of 1007 years between the rapture of the saints and the resurrection of the wicked and the final judgment. The wicked will be 3. 4. 5. 6. The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 12 judged in the LAST day. JOH 12:48. (1) MAT 25:31-46 places the gathering together and rewarding of the elect at the same time as the gathering and judgment of the wicked. (2) 2TH 1:6-10; 2:1 places both the rapture and reward of the saints AND the judgment of the wicked at the REVELATION or appearing of Christ. (3) REV 11:17-18 likewise makes the reward of the righteous and the judgment and destruction of the wicked contemporaneous. (4) When Christ returns, destruction falls upon the wicked THE SAME DAY that the righteous are raptured out, not 7 or 1007 years later. LUK 17:26-30. (5) The coming of Christ will be LIKE it was in the days of Noah and Lot, where there were no survivors of the intended destruction following the removal of the righteous. How does this square with the idea that there will still be ungodly opposition after the rapture of the saints? (6) This parable hardly agrees with the idea that Christ FIRST gathers the righteous and then later gathers the wicked. AA. “...Gather ye together first THE TARES...” (v. 30). BB. There will be a “taking away” --- of the wicked to judgment. MAT 24:38-39. (7) Even Job figured out that the righteous dead are not resurrected 1007 years before the heavens are destroyed. JOB 14:12-15. (8) Premillennialism looks for three bodily resurrections: the righteous dead at the Rapture, tribulation saints at the Revelation, and the wicked dead at the end of the 1000 years. Scripture knows of only one bodily resurrection which includes righteous and wicked. JOH 5:28-29; ACT 24:15. The APPEARING of Christ is the hope of the church (TIT 2:13). If the real hope of the church is a secret rapture that occurs seven years before that, what does this verse mean? a. It is at the APPEARING of Christ that the church is “raptured” and the saints given glorified bodies, not seven years prior. 1JO 3:1-2. b. It is at the APPEARING of Christ that the saints shall receive their reward, not seven years prior. 2TI 4:8; 1PE 5:4. c. If the true hope of the church is a secret rapture seven years before the REVELATION or APPEARING of Christ, why does Peter exhort Christians to stedfastness unto the end AT THE REVELATION? 1PE 1:7, 13. d. Paul exhorted Timothy to obedience unto the APPEARING of Christ (1TI 6:14-15). Why would he do this if he expected Christians to be raptured and glorified seven years prior to that? Premillennialism is correct in that the bodily resurrection of the saints takes place at the rapture, the dead saints rising just prior to the surviving saints. 1TH 4:16-17. a. However, instead of Christ returning to set up a kingdom seven years after the rapture, Scripture affirms that He will DELIVER UP His kingdom AT the rapture which is THE END! 1CO 15:23-24. b. Also, Premillennialism maintains that many people will DIE during the tribulation period which follows the rapture. However, Scripture affirms 7. 8. The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 13 that death will be destroyed AT THE RAPTURE! 1CO 15:25-26, 52-55. Scripture emphasizes that the time of the appearing of Jesus Christ and the destruction of the earth and heavens are secret. 1TH 5:2; 2PE 3:10. a. If the Premillennial scheme of a two-stage coming is correct, would not men then be able to determine the coming (appearing) of Christ as being seven years after the Rapture? b. Likewise, could not the destruction of the heaven and earth be determined by measuring 1007 years from the Rapture? 10. The vain hopes of a millennium of worldwide secure tranquility are going to be interrupted. 1TH 5:3. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father...” (v. 43). 1. This kingdom is also the kingdom of Christ's Father. MAT 26:29. 2. He is not ashamed to call them brethren. HEB 2:11 c/w JOH 20:17. 3. These are the true children of the true kingdom. a. Their identity is according to their being born of God, not according to their natural state. JOH 1:12-13 c/w JOH 3:3-5. b. They have a righteousness by the faith and obedience of Jesus Christ that exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. MAT 5:20 c/w ROM 3:20-22; 5:19. c. They have an inheritance in a heavenly Jerusalem by promise, not law. GAL 4:21-28. d. They stand in contrast to the children of the earthly kingdom which have no such inheritance. GAL 4:29-31 c/w MAT 8:11-12. 9. J. V. The parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leavened meal share a theme of the previous parables in this chapter: growth mingled with contrary elements. MAT 13:31-33. A. These again set forth the conditions of the Messianic government, "...rule thou in the midst of thine enemies" (PSA 110:2). 1. The church must contend with enemies of Christ in the world. JOH 15:18-19. 2. There would be enemies of Christ also within the church. ACT 20:29-30; PHIL 3:18. B. Many commentators consider these parables to be setting forth a picture of the eventual Christianization of the world or of the growth of grace in the soul. 1. It is true that the church had small beginnings. LUK 12:32; ACT 1:15. 2. It is true that Messiah's government, once established, would increase. ISA 9:6-7. 3. It is true that Messiah's kingdom would be as a stone that became a great mountain which crushed world empires and filled the whole earth. DAN 2:35, 44-45. 4. It is true that the gospel went everywhere in the world to every creature under heaven. MAR 16:15, 20 c/w COL 1:6, 23. 5. It is true that Christian perfection is owing to gradual development and growth in grace and knowledge. PRO 4:18 c/w EPH 4:12-14; 2PE 3:18. 6. But are these things accurately depicted by the imagery of these parables? C. Postmillennialism tends to relegate these parables to a glorious kingdom-age which they believe PRECEDES Christ's Second Coming (in contrast to Premillennialism which looks forward to a glorious kingdom-age AFTER Christ's Second Coming). D. Postmillennialism anticipates an eventual triumph of Christianity over the world system. 1. "The postmil looks for a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of a glorious The Parables of Matthew 13 12-19-10 Page 14 age of the church upon earth through the preaching of the gospel under the power of the Holy Spirit. He looks forward to all nations becoming Christian and living in peace one with another. He relates all prophecies to history and time. After the triumph of Christianity throughout the earth he looks for the second coming of the Lord. There are, of course, differences of opinion concerning details among the posts as among other schools of thought." (Kik, J. M., An Eschatology of Victory, p. 4) 2. "The Millennium to which the Postmillennialist looks forward is thus a golden age of spiritual prosperity during this present dispensation, that is, during the Church age, and is to be brought about through forces now active in the world....The changed nature of individuals will be reflected in an uplifted social, economic, political and cultural life of mankind." (Boettner, L., The Millennium, p. 14) 3. Here are some verses that are used to support this position. PSA 22:27-28; 86:9; ISA 2:2-4; 11:9; JER 31:34; MAT 28:19-20. The parables of the mustard seed and of the leavened meal are taken to indicate the gradual, total permeation of the gospel throughout the whole world. 1. In the same chapter, birds are negative symbols (vs. 4, 19) and there are various other negative images of birds throughout Scripture. a. Fowls represented a threat to ordained worship and so Abraham drove them away. GEN 15:11. b. Spiritual Babylon becomes "...the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (REV 18:2). c. Therefore, it would be a stretch to conclude that the parable of the mustard seed MUST be depicting something of an overall increasingly positive nature. 2. Leaven consistently is associated with something negative. a. It was forbidden in the Passover celebration of redemption. EXO 12:8. b. Jesus spoke of it as evil doctrine and influences from the likes of Pharisees, Sadducees and of Herod. MAT 16:6-12; MAR 8:15. c. The spread of corruption is likened unto it. GAL 5:9. d. It is "malice and wickedness" as opposed to "sincerity and truth." 1CO 5:7-8. 3. Given that leaven represents something negative or evil, the imagery of the woman hiding it in the meal is also suspect. a. Consider the problem at Thyatira. REV 2:20-21. b. And why the hiding? JOH 18:20. c. Scripture and history are replete with examples of corruption entering and overcoming God's religion at the hands of women. d. The church is a spiritual woman (2CO 11:2) who errs greatly when she mixes the corrupt elements of other religions or of the world into her service. 2CO 6:14-16. If anything, these parables teach that the kingdom of God would expand but incorporate corrupting elements. ACT 20:29-30; 2TI 4:2-4; 2PE 2:1; JUDE 1:4, 12. A parable must be taken in its overall lesson. 1. Consider MAT 13:24-30, 45-46. 2. The man sowing seed in MAT 13:24 is not himself the depiction of the kingdom of heaven. He is only part of a parable which is an overall description of the kingdom of heaven. E. E. F. G. Scripture teaches against the idea of gradual worldwide saturation with the gospel resulting in the bulk of humanity being saved and culminating in the personal return of Jesus Christ. 1. Proportionally, only few will be saved. LUK 13:23-27. 2. Faith will be negligible at Christ's return. LUK 18:7-8. 3. Paul forecast perilous times for the last days rather than worldwide peace and righteousness. 2TI 3:1-13. 4. A great apostasy precedes the second coming of Christ, not a global conversion. 2TH 2:1-10. 5. Jesus likened His second coming to the days of Noah and the days of Lot, when faith was scarce in their provoking societies and had been so for a long time before judgment fell. LUK 17:26-30. 6. Universal conversions are not to be expected from the gospel. MAT 13:3-9, 18-23; 2CO 2:14-16; 1CO 9:22. 7. Saints are instructed to place their hopes in heaven and in the resurrection to life in a new heavens and earth. 2PE 3:10-13 c/w ROM 8:19-23; 2CO 4:17-5:1; HEB 13:14. Passages which speak of the conversion and worship of the nations can be explained in the light of the following passages: 1. ACT 15:13-18. "All the Gentiles" of v. 17 is explained by the phrase "take out of them" in v. 14. a. Note "words of the prophets" in v. 15. b. Amos was not alone in his vision; the prophets generally saw the conversion of the Gentiles as the calling from out of the Gentiles a people for God's name. 2. ACT 2:14-18. The "all flesh" upon which the Spirit would be poured out in the last days was the church at Pentecost. 3. ROM 4:13-17 c/w GAL 3:7-8; REV 5:8-10. The "all nation" prophecies are adequately answered by the observation that grace would embrace people from out of all nations, not just descendants of Abraham. 4. ROM 9:6-8, 27-29; 3:29-30. The elect portion of Israel is counted for Israel. The elect portion of all nations is counted for all nations. 5. PHIL 2:9-11. Indeed, all will eventually be "converted" to the obvious Lordship of Jesus Christ. H.