Matthew 13:1 KJV The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.
Clarke:The same day – Our Lord scarcely ever appears to take any rest: he is incessant in his labors, and instant in season and out of season; and in this he has left all his successors in the ministry an example, that they should follow his steps: for he who wishes to save souls will find few opportunities to rest. As Satan is going about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, the messenger of God should imitate his diligence, that he may counteract his work. The gospels are journals of our Lord’s life.
Went Jesus out of the house – This was the house of Peter. See Mat_17:24.
Sat by the sea side – The sea of Galilee, on the borders of which the city of Capernaum was situated.
Benson: The same day — On which Jesus delivered the discourse, and performed the miracles recorded in the preceding chapter, being unwearied and incessant in the blessed work in which he was engaged, he went out of the house, into which he had retired for a while, and sat by the sea-side — Namely, the sea of Galilee, or lake of Gennesareth, that he might give the people an opportunity of resorting unto him, and being instructed by his blessed doctrine. And great multitudes were gathered unto him — The calumnies of the Pharisees not having had the effect intended. On the contrary, the crowd was now become so great, that neither the house, nor the court before it, could contain the people. So that, for the conveniency of being better heard, and less incommoded by them, he went into a ship, and sat — A small vessel on the lake, which, it seems, constantly waited upon him while he was on the coast. See Mar_3:9. Here, being conveniently seated, at a little distance from the shore, on which the whole multitude stood, and which probably might be somewhat circular and declining, he could be both easily seen and heard.
Matthew 13:2 KJV And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
Russell: Went into a ship — From a boat our Lord taught a lesson respecting the method of selecting the Little Flock.
On the shore — Which at this point is said to rise rapidly, therefore giving the general effect of an amphitheater.
Guzik:He got into a boat and sat: Jesus often used a boat as His “pulpit” (Mar_2:9). It gave Him a place to speak away from the press of the crowds, provided good acoustics, and probably a nice backdrop.
i. When Jesus taught from a boat, surely that was a new thing. We can imagine some critic saying, “You can’t do that! Teaching belongs in the synagogue or in some other appropriate place.” It would be easy to come up with objections: “The damp air might make people sick” or “There are a lot of mosquitoes down at the shore” or “Someone might drown.” But Jesus knew that teaching from a boat suited His purposes well enough.
JFB: and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore — How graphic this picture! – no doubt from the pen of an eye-witness, himself impressed with the scene. It was “the same day” on which the foregoing solemn discourse was delivered, when His kindred thought Him “beside Himself” for His indifference to food and repose – that same day retiring to the seashore of Galilee; and there seating Himself, perhaps for coolness and rest, the crowds again flock around Him, and He is fain to push off from them, in the boat usually kept in readiness for Him; yet only to begin, without waiting to rest, a new course of teaching by parables to the eager multitudes that lined the shore. To the parables of our Lord there is nothing in all language to be compared, for simplicity, grace, fullness, and variety of spiritual teaching. They are adapted to all classes and stages of advancement, being understood by each according to the measure of his spiritual capacity.
Clarke:Into a ship – The vessel or boat. Mr. Wakefield supposes (which is very likely) that a particular vessel is uniformly specified, which seems to have been kept on the lake for the use of Christ and his apostles: it probably belonged to some of the fishermen, (see Mat_4:22), who, he thinks, occasionally, at least, followed their former occupation. See Joh_21:3.
Matthew 13:3 KJV And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
Russell: In parables — Really word-pictures of the Kingdom. No one of these parables represents the complete view of the subject, but merely one phase of it. Giving prophetically the Church’s experiences from various standpoints–from the time the work of selection began until the time when that work will be completed.
These parables, seven in all, refer not to the non-professing world, but to two classes in the Church.
A sower — Our Lord was the great sower, then the Apostles and his faithful followers.
To sow — Various classes of hearers are shown here. Designed to show that it is not the eloquence, force or truthfulness of the message that determines the result, but chiefly the attitude of the heart that hears. This parable refers only to those who are no longer willing sinners, but are outwardly righteous.
Guzik: Then He spoke many things to them in parables: The idea behind the word parable is “to throw along side of.” It is a story thrown along side the truth intended to teach. Parables have been called “earthly stories with a heavenly meaning.”
Barnes: In parables – The word “parable” is derived from a Greek word signifying “to compare together,” and denotes a similitude taken from a natural object to illustrate a spiritual or moral subject. It is a narrative of some fictitious or real event, in order to illustrate more clearly some truth that the speaker wished to communicate. In early ages it was much used. In the time of Christ it was in common use. The prophets had used it, and Christ employed it often in teaching his disciples. It is not necessary to suppose that the narratives were strictly true. The main thing – “the inculcation of spiritual truth” – was gained equally, whether it was true or was only a supposed case. Nor was there any dishonesty in this. It was well understood no person was deceived. The speaker was not “understood” to affirm the thing “literally narrated,” but only to fix the attention more firmly on the moral truth that he presented. The “design” of speaking in parables was the following:
1. To convey truth in a more interesting manner to the mind, adding to the truth conveyed the beauty of a lovely image or narrative.
2. To teach spiritual truth so as to arrest the attention of ignorant people, making an appeal to them through the “senses.”
3. To convey some offensive truth, some pointed personal rebuke. in such a way as to bring it “home” to the conscience. Of this kind was the parable which Nathan delivered to David 2Sa_12:1-7, and many of our Saviour’s parables addressed to the Jews.
4. To “conceal” from one part of his audience truths which he intended others should understand. Thus Christ often, by this means, delivered truths to his disciples in the presence of the Jews, which he well knew the Jews would not understand; truths pertaining to them particularly, and which he was under no obligations to explain to the Jews. See Mar_4:33; Mat_13:13-16.
A sower went forth to sow – The image here is taken from an employment known to all people, and therefore intelligible to all.
Nor can there be a more striking illustration of preaching the gospel than placing the seed in the ground, to spring up hereafter and bear fruit.
Sower – One who sows or scatters seed – a farmer. It is not improbable that one was near the Saviour when he spoke this parable.
Benson: In parables —As this is the first time the term occurs in this history, and as we shall frequently meet with it hereafter, it may not be improper to make the following general observations, applicable, more or less, to all our Lord’s parables.
1st. It is not necessary to a parable that the matter contained, or things related in it, should be true in fact. For parables are not spoken to inform us in matters of fact, but in some spiritual truths, to which they bear some proportion. This we see in Jotham’s parable of the trees going to choose themselves a king, Jdg_9:7 to Jdg_15:2
2nd. It is not necessary that all the actions of men, mentioned in a parable, should be morally just and good. The actions of the unjust steward, Luk_16:1-8, were not Song of Solomon
3rdly. For the right understanding of a parable, our great care must be to attend to the main scope of it; or to what our Lord had chiefly in view, and designed to teach by it.
Lastly, Though the scope of the parable be the main thing we are to attend to, yet it may collaterally inform us in several other things also. This way of teaching, extremely common in the eastern countries, and much used by our Lord, was particularly calculated to draw and fix the attention of mankind; to excite the inquiry of such as were well disposed, and to lead them to a serious examination and diligent searching after the truth veiled under such emblems; to teach, in a manner the most natural, beautiful, and instructive, by common and familiar objects, the most divine and important doctrines, and give clearer ideas of them than could have been otherwise attained; to cause divine truths to make a more deep and lasting impression on men’s minds, and to be better remembered.
Our Lord’s parables were particularly adapted to produce this last-mentioned effect, being generally taken from those objects about which his hearers were daily employed, or which daily came under their observation. Add to this, he taught by parables, that he might convey in a manner the least offensive some very ungrateful and unpalatable truths, such as the rejection of the Jews and the calling of the Gentiles. It must be observed, also, as we learn from Mat_13:11-15, that, by an awful mixture of justice and mercy, our Lord intended hereby to throw a veil over some of the mysteries of his kingdom, and to conceal from the proud and careless those truths which, if they understood, he foresaw they would only abuse to their greater condemnation.
In this chapter our Lord delivers seven parables, directing the four former, as being of general concern, to all the people; the three latter, to his disciples.
Matthew 13:4 KJV And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
Matthew 13:5 KJV Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
Russell: Seeds — The Kingdom message, or invitation. The Word of God that liveth and abideth forever.
By the wayside — The fields of Palestine are not fenced and the paths of travel frequently cross them. Representing merely formalists.
And the fowls — Birds are very numerous in Palestine; a farmer’s chief pest. Typifying Satan and his agents.
Devoured them up — Ever ready to take away the seed of truth.
Upon stony places — Palestine abounds with limestone which renders the soil very rich, but when shallow, very hot. Represents a class of hearers who lack depth of character; they flourish for a time, but when trials and testings come, they stumble.
Clarke: Some seeds fell by the way side – The hard beaten path, where no plough had broken up the ground.
Stony places – Where there was a thin surface of earth, and a rock at the bottom.
Guzik:A sower went to sow: Jesus speaks according to the agricultural customs of His day. In those days, seed was scattered first, then it was plowed into the ground.
As he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside: In this parable, the seed falls on four different types of soil.
The wayside was the path where people walked and nothing could grow because the ground was too hard.
Stony places refers to a place where the soil was thin, laying upon a rocky shelf. On this ground the seed springs up quickly because of the warmth of the soil, but the seed is unable to take root because of the rocky shelf.
Matthew 13:6 KJV And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
Gill: And when the sun was up,…. Some time, and its heat was increasing, and it began to shine out hot, and beat with some vehemency and strength; which may denote some sore temptation, or severe affliction, or fiery trial of persecution and tribulation; see Mat_13:21 for this is not to be understood of the glorious light of the Gospel, …but this cannot be intended, because the word by these hearers is first received with joy. Nor is Christ the sun of righteousness meant, who arises with healing in his wings, and gives grace and glory to his people; but the sun of persecution and affliction, in which sense the metaphor is used, in Son_1:6 the heat of which the church patiently bore, though she was made black with it: but these hearers think it strange that such a fiery trial should befall them; wherefore, as they take up their profession in haste, they as quickly drop it; see Rev_7:16.
They were scorched, and because they had not root, they withered away: they were offended with what they met with, for the sake of Christ, and the profession of his word; and therefore, not being rooted in him, nor in the love of God, nor having the root of the matter, true grace, in themselves, or, as Luke says, “lacked moisture”, of divine grace, of the dews and waterings of it, fell away finally and totally. This is no instance of the apostasy of real saints, or any proof of true believers falling away finally and totally; since these were not rooted, and grounded in the everlasting and unchangeable love of God, were not interested in it, or were partakers of the effects of it.
Matthew 13:7 KJV And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
Russell: Among thorns — There are 50 varieties of thorny plants in Palestine, some growing to a height of 15 feet. Not briar bushes or brambles, but an aftergrowth of a variety of thistles which come up quickly in every wheat field of Palestine.
The spirit of the world, its ambitions, wealth and influence, its love of the good things of life.
These thorns are not sensual vices and criminal appetites, but the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches. The ground which will produce thorns is rich and very suitable for the production of proper Christian character.
Clarke: Among thorns – Where the earth was ploughed up, but the brambles and weeds had not been cleared away.
Guzik:Among thorns describes soil that is fertile – perhaps too fertile, because thorns grow there as well as grain.
Gill:And some fell among thorns,…. On a spot of ground which was full of the roots of thorns, and briars, which was not cleared of them as it should be. We often read (e) of שדה שנתקוצה, “a field cleared of thorns”; but such was not this piece of ground, it was overrun with them, not on the surface of the earth, but within it: for it follows,
and the thorns sprung up: naturally, being neither sown nor planted; either before the seed, or, at least, as soon; and however grew faster, and higher,
and choked them; so that they came to nothing; hence the advice, “sow not among thorns”, Jer_4:3 and a lost kindness, or what is bestowed in vain, is expressed in this proverbial manner “thy beneficence is taken away, and cast among thorns”: these point out such hearers who seemed to be contrite, to have the low ground of their hearts broken up, their consciences tender, and to have a true sense of sin, as well as to be outwardly reformed; and yet inwardly were full of the thorns of sinful lusts, particularly of the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, the lusts of other things, and the pleasures of this life, which rendered the word useless and unfruitful; see Mat_13:22 all which are comparable to thorns; it is hardly possible to be in the midst of, and meddle with these, without being scratched by them; they pierce, afflict, and wound, even where they have not their greatest power and influence; and where they do prevail, and get the ascendant, as they are fruitless themselves, they make others so too; they choke the word, and make that, and all ordinances, and opportunities, useless, and unserviceable. Thorns are a part of the earth’s curse for the sin of man; and such persons in whom thorny cares and lusts prevail, as they are like unto the earth which beareth thorns.
Matthew 13:8 KJV But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
Russell: Good ground — In the heart.
Brought forth fruit — Fruitfulness of heart, life and character depend on the individual and how he receives the message.
Some an hundredfold — Those who come up to the very highest standard in the fruits of the spirit. The larger the returns, the greater the Father’s pleasure and the Savior’s glory. Indicates the degree and intensity of our earnestness. The rewards in the Kingdom will also be proportionate.
Some sixtyfold — The same class, but not to shine quite as highly in the Kingdom. The Apostle John speaks of the variety among Christians–little children, young men and fathers. (1Jo_2:12-13) The same means of grace do not profit all to exactly the same extent. Some, for instance, are by nature more studious, thoughtful, generous or grateful.
Some thirtyfold — This might mean those who will be of the Great Company.
Guzik:Good ground describes soil that is both fertile and weed-free. A good, productive crop grows in the good ground.
Gill:But others fell into good ground,…. Not beaten and trodden by the feet of men, nor stony, nor thorny, but well broke up, manured, and tilled; which designs good, honest hearted hearers who become so by the Spirit and grace of God; who with a spiritual understanding, experience, savour, and relish, what they hear; see Mat_13:23
and brought forth fruit, some an hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold: some seeds produced an hundred, others sixty, and others thirty.
Here, in the parable, these various increases intend the different degrees of fruitfulness in gracious souls; for though the fruits of grace, in believers, are of the same quality, yet not of the same quantity. Some believers are grown to a greater maturity than others; some are but little children, some are young men, some are fathers.
Clarke:Good ground – Where the earth was deep, the field well ploughed, and the brambles and weeds all removed. See more on Mat_13:19 (note), etc., and see on Luk_8:15 (note).
Matthew 13:9 KJV Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Russell: Who hath ears — “Take head how ye hear”–see that your heart is in a right attitude to receive the truth.
To hear — “Preach the Gospel to the meek.” (Isa_61:1)
Let him hear — Those who had an inclination to be his disciples. The Gospel was not to the Jews only, but to every people with hearts to appreciate it. Do not expect all to hear and obey and enlist with us.
Gill: Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. Not externally only, but internally; he that has ears given him to hear, so as to understand, let him make use of them, and seriously consider of, and diligently attend to the use and importance of this parable. It is a way of speaking used by Christ, when anything of moment was delivered, and not so easy to be understood, on purpose to quicken the attention of his auditors, and stir up in them a desire of understanding what was said; which effect this had upon his disciples; see Mar_4:10.
Clarke: Who hath ears to hear, etc. – Let every person who feels the necessity of being instructed in the things which concern his soul’s welfare pay attention to what is spoken, and he shall become wise unto salvation.
Guzik: He who has ears to hear, let him hear: This is a not a call for all to listen. Rather, it is a call for those who are spiritually sensitive to take special note. This is especially true in light of the next few verses, in which Jesus explains the purpose of parables.
Matthew 13:10 KJV And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
Russell: Said unto him — Earnest desire to understand every word of God is an evidence that we belong to the Kingdom class.
In parables — Dark sayings.
Benson: The disciples — Mark says, οι περι αυτον συν τοις δωδεκα, those that were about him, with the twelve, that is, not only the apostles, but such other well-disposed persons as generally attended on Christ’s ministry, and were desirous of learning of him; came to him, namely, when the assembly was broke up, and Christ had delivered many other parables afterward mentioned; for they came when he was alone, Mar_4:10, and said, Why speakest thou to them in parables? — Although not only the Jewish doctors, but all the wise men of the East taught by parables, yet because this way of teaching had in it somewhat of obscurity, and the doctrine contained under the veil of these allegories was not so easy to be apprehended as if it had been exhibited plainly and openly, without such a cover, therefore the disciples inquire why he used this more obscure, and to many unintelligible, mode of teaching.
Matthew 13:11 KJV He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Russell: Is given unto you — The Church. The meek, honest and faithful of God’s people. Not only to the disciples of that day, but to the disciples all through the ages.
Even “as many as the Lord your God shall call.” (Act_2:39) As the Israelites indeed in whom there is no guile got the message, so a similar class will get the message now. Not to inspire thankfulness and consecration, but only to the thankful and consecrated who already have presented themselves living sacrifices to God.
“If any man shall do my Father’s will, he shall know of my doctrine.” (Joh_7:17)
Know the mysteries — The Divine Plan of the Ages, the Messianic Kingdom, the times and seasons.
“The deep things of God.” (1Co_2:10)
“Ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief.” (1Th_5:4)
Being “taught of God” and guided by his holy Spirit to an understanding of his Word. To be so led by the Spirit and Word of the Father is to understand His purposes and be enabled always to be workers together with God. A distinction should be observed in knowing about God and knowing God himself.
So that the Lord’s consecrated people might know of the time in which we are living, be more quickened and more separated from the world and its spirit, and ripened as wheat. His secret counsels which others cannot know. The mystery which was kept secret since the world began, to know and realize their relationship to Christ as his prospective bride and joint-heir.
Kingdom of heaven — An interchangeable expression with “Kingdom of God.”
But to them — Those outside of the twelve and other special disciples. The multitudes who went to hear him; outsiders, not specially interested. Not Israelites indeed. B28; Harvest Gleanings Those without–strangers to God and unconsecrated.
It is not given — The Lord never meant anybody to understand all these things except the brethren.
Not God’s intention that many will understand the divine philosophy of the ransom. The world knows nothing about the deep things of God. In mercy, God has hidden his plan from the world.
The majority are blinded by the God of this world, Satan, through various traditions, heathen and Christian. Either because they never came into the right attitude of heart to receive them, or because they subsequently left that proper condition of devotion, humility and teachableness.
The mystery has been in operation from the beginning of the world and is still a mystery so far as the world is concerned, and will continue to be a mystery until the end of the present dispensation and the opening of the Millennial age. Not until the elect shall be glorified and the Millennial Kingdom established will the “mystery” be made fully known to the world and every knee bow and every tongue confess.
Guzik: (Mat_13:10-17) Why did Jesus use parables? In this context, to hide the truth from those who would not listen to the Holy Spirit.
Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given: He used parables so that the hearts of those rejecting would not be hardened further. The same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay; and so the very same gospel message which breaks down honest hearts and leads to repentance, hardens the hearts of the dishonest and confirms them in their path of disobedience.
Clarke: It is given unto you to know the mysteries, etc. – By mysteries, here, we may understand not only things concerning the scheme of salvation, which had not yet been revealed; but also the prophetic declarations concerning the future state of the Christian Church, expressed in the ensuing parables. It is not given to them to know the purport and design of these things – they are gross of heart, earthly and sensual, and do not improve the light they have received: but to you it is given… From Mat_13:17, we learn, that many prophets and righteous men had desired to see and hear these things, but had not that privilege – to them it was not given; not because God designed to exclude them from salvation, but because He who knew all things knew, … that that was not the proper time.
Barnes: The mysteries of the kingdom – The word “mystery,” in the Bible, properly means a thing that is “concealed,” or that “has been concealed.” It does not mean that the thing was “incomprehensible,” or even difficult to be understood.
The thing might be “plain” enough if revealed, but it means simply that it “had” not been before made known. Thus the “mysteries of the kingdom” do not mean any doctrines incomprehensible in themselves considered, but simply doctrines about the preaching of the gospel and the establishment of the new kingdom of the Messiah, which “had not” been understood, and which were as yet concealed from the great body of the Jews. See Rom_16:25; Rom_11:25; Eph_3:3-4, Eph_3:9. Of this nature was the truth that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles; that the Jewish polity was to cease; that the Messiah was to die, etc. To the disciples it was given to know these truths. This was important for them, as they were to carry the gospel around the globe. To the others it was not “then” given. They were too gross, too earthly; they had too, grovelling conceptions of the Messiah’s kingdom to understand these truths, even if communicated to them. They were not to preach the gospel, and hence our Saviour was at particular pains to instruct his apostles in the system which they were to preach. The Pharisees, and Jews generally, were not prepared to receive the system, and would not have believed it, and therefore he purposely employed a kind of teaching which was intended for his apostles only.
Matthew 13:12 KJV For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
Russell: Whosoever hath — Hath used.
Shall be given — Shall be given more.
More abundance — The Logos, who had always proved faithful in all things, was offered the headship of the New Creation.
Whosoever hath not — Hath not used.
Even that he hath — The privileges that he had; so don’t overlook the little things.
Barnes: Whosoever hath … – This is a proverbial method of speaking.
It means that a man who improves what light, grace, and opportunities he has, shall have them increased. From him that improves them not, it is proper that they should be taken away. The Jews had many opportunities of learning the truth, and some light still lingered among them; but they were gross and sensual, and misimproved them, and it was a just judgment that they should be deprived of them. Superior knowledge was given to the disciples of Christ: they improved it, however slowly, and the promise was that it should be greatly increased.
Benson: For whosoever hath — That is, improves what he has, uses the grace and blessings imparted according to the design of the Giver, to him shall be given — More and more, in proportion to that improvement. But whosoever hath not — Improves it not, from him shall be taken even what he hath — Here is the grand rule of God’s dealing with the children of men: a rule, fixed as the pillars of heaven.
Matthew 13:13 KJV Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
Russell: Therefore — The purpose was that those in the right condition of heart might receive the instruction while others, indifferent, careless, would be left in ignorance.
In parables — The misconceptions of our forefathers on the subject of punishment for sin were built upon mistranslations or statements meant to be understood symbolically.
They see not — There are many who lack spiritual sight, who cannot exercise faith in what they cannot see; and, according to the Scriptures, they are not responsible for their failure. God is not blaming them. We do not smite a blind man because he does not see. On the contrary, we sympathize with him.
They hear not — When our Lord was preaching, comparatively few had an ear to hear. The majority were too full of their own ideas and projects, and thus it has been all down the Gospel age.
Many of the Lord’s saints have had the ears of their understanding so perverted by false teachings respecting predestination that they do not know the song of Zion when they hear it. The majority of professing Christians are careless, indifferent to what the Lord has caused to be written for their admonition and encouragement and assistance in this “evil day.”
Guzik:Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand: In this sense, the parables of Jesus were not illustrations making difficult things clear to all who heard. They were a way of “encoding” God’s message so the spiritually sensitive could understand, but the hardened would merely hear a story without heaping up additional condemnation for rejecting God’s Word.
Barnes: Because they seeing, see not – Mark Mar_4:12 and Luke Luk_8:10 say, “That seeing, they may not see etc.;” but there is no difference.
Matthew simply states the “fact,” that though they saw the “natural” meaning of the story – though they literally understood the parable – yet they did not understand its “spiritual” signification. Mark and Luke do not state the “fact,” but affirm that he spoke with this “intention” – implying that such “was” the result. Nor was there any dishonesty in this, or any unfair disguise. He had truths to state which he wished his “disciples particularly” to understand. They were of great importance to their ministry. Had he clearly and fully stated them to the Jews, they would have taken his life long before they did. He therefore chose to state the doctrines so that if their hearts had been right, and if they had not been malignant and blind, “they might have understood them.” His doctrines he stated in the best possible way, and it was not his fault if they did not understand him. By little and little, in this way, he prepared many even of the Jews to receive the truth; by the only possible way of ever gaining access to their minds. It was, moreover, entirely proper and right to impart instruction to his disciples which he did not “intend” for others.
Matthew 13:14 KJV And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
Barnes: And in them is fulfilled … – This place is quoted substantially from Isa_6:9-10. It was literally fulfilled in the time of Isaiah. In the time of Christ the people had the same character. Like them, they closed their eyes upon the truth, and rejected the divine teaching. The words of Isaiah were therefore “as well fitted” to express the character of the people in the time of Christ as in that of the prophet.
It is not by any means intended that Isaiah, when he spoke these words, had any reference to the time of Christ. The meaning in both places is, that the people were so gross, sensual, and prejudiced, that they “would” not see the truth, or understand anything that was contrary to their grovelling opinions and sensual desires; a case by no means uncommon in the world.
Waxed gross – Literally, “has become fat.” This language is commonly applied to “the body,” but is also used to denote one who is stupid and foolish in mind. Here it means that the people were so sensual and corrupt that they did not see or understand the pure spiritual principles of the gospel.
Lest they should see … – Lest they should see their lost condition as sinners, and turn and live. The reason given here why they did not hear and understand the gospel is, that their “heart” was “wrong.” They “would” not attend to the things that belonged to their peace.
I should heal them – Should pardon, sanctify, and save them. Sin is often represented as a disease, and the pardon and recovery of the soul from sin as “healing.”
Clarke: In them is fulfilled – Αναπληρουται, Is Again fulfilled: this proper meaning of the Greek word has been generally overlooked. The evangelist means, that as these words were fulfilled in the Jews, in the time of the Prophet Isaiah, so they are now again fulfilled in these their posterity, who exactly copy their fathers example. These awful words may be again fulfilled in us, if we take not warning by the things which these disobedient people have suffered.
By hearing ye shall hear – Jesus Christ shall be sent to you, his miracles ye shall fully see, and his doctrines ye shall distinctly hear; but God will not force you to receive the salvation which is offered.
Guzik:And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled: By speaking in parables, Jesus also fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, speaking in a way that the hardened would hear but not hear, and see but not see.
d. But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear: In light of this, how blessed are those who do understand the parables of Jesus. Not only do they gain the benefit of the spiritual truth illustrated, but they also display some measure of responsiveness to the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 13:15 KJV For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Russell: They have closed — Because of ignorance and blindness. R5338:6
Be converted — Turned to a proper course. R3763:3
Heal — Greek, Iaomai, to heal; also signifying “saved.”
Clarke: Heart is waxed gross – Επαχυνθη, is become fat – inattentive stupid, insensible. They hear heavily with their ears – are half asleep while the salvation of God is preached unto them.
Their eyes they have closed – Totally and obstinately resisted the truth of God, and shut their eyes against the light.
Lest – they should see, etc. – Lest they should see their lost estate, and be obliged to turn unto God, and seek his salvation. His state is truly deplorable who is sick unto death, and yet is afraid of being cured. The fault is here totally in the people, and not at all in that God whose name is Mercy and whose nature is love.
Matthew 13:16 KJV But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
Russell: But — God’s work in the present time is not the conversion of the world, which certainly is not being accomplished; but the taking out of the world a people for his name, to bear the name of Christ as his bride.
Blessed — Especially anointed, specially blessed. For these alone is the message.
It is a great privilege to hear and see.
Blessed indeed in advance of the world; but blessed also will be the world when God’s due time shall come.
Are your eyes — The eyes of our understanding must be opened before we can appreciate spiritual things. God is not trying to attract the world now; they are blind and deaf.
For they see — Intimating that some could see and others could not.
We may now rejoice in things too hard for the Jew to understand and equally impossible for the natural man of the Gentiles to comprehend. We are to expect a wide difference of understanding of God, his mightiness and character, as viewed by the saints and by the world.
We can see more clearly because we are spirit-begotten.
And your ears — While spirit-anointed members of Christ tell the good tidings unto all people, they understand that only such as have ears to hear will be able to comprehend and appreciate the message until the new dispensation.
For they hear — The message of the Lord. Thus far, Jesus has not been dealing with the world, but merely with those having the eye and ear of faith.
Barnes:Blessed are your eyes … – That is, you are happy that you are permitted to see truth which they will not see.
You are permitted to understand the spiritual meaning of the parables, and in some degree the plan of salvation.
JFB: But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your cars, for they hear — that is, “Happy ye, whose eyes and ears, voluntarily and gladly opened, are drinking in the light divine.”
Matthew 13:17 KJV For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
Russell: Have desired — Before the due time.
Have not seen them — Though much had been foretold by the prophets, they confessed their ignorance of the import of their prophecies.
“They say of me, Doth he not speak in parables” (Eze_20:49); “I heard, but I understood not” (Dan_12:8).
The operation of God’s spirit upon the prophets was so different from the operation of the same spirit upon the Gospel Church that the humblest Christian may know more of God’s plan than would the greatest prophet.
Barnes:Many prophets and righteous men … – They wished to see the times of the Messiah.
They looked to it as a time when the hopes of the world would be fulfilled, and when the righteous would be happy, Joh_8:56. “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” Compare also 1Pe_1:10-12; Heb_11:13. So Isaiah and the prophets looked forward to the coming of the Messiah as the consummation of their wishes and the end of the prophecies, Rev_19:10. The object always dearest to the hearts of all righteous people is to witness the coming and advancement of the kingdom of Christ. Compare Rev_22:20.
JFB: to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them — Not only were the disciples blessed above the blinded just spoken of, but favored above the most honored and the best that lived under the old economy, who had but glimpses of the things of the new kingdom, just sufficient to kindle in them desires not to be fulfilled to any in their day. In Luk_10:23, Luk_10:24, where the same saying is repeated on the return of the Seventy – the words, instead of “many prophets and righteous men,” are “many prophets and kings”; for several of the Old Testament saints were kings.
Matthew 13:18 KJV Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
Russell: Hear ye therefore — Understand ye.
Guzik: One of the few parables which our Lord himself interpreted.
Benson: Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower — A parable which our Lord judged to be so important that he introduced it with a double demand of attention, Hearken, behold; Mar_4:3; and concluded it with a third, and still more solemn demand thereof, who hath ears to hear, let him hear; and here, proceeding to the explanation of it, he calls for attention the fourth time. And the reason of this is evident: the parable sets before us, in a summary point of view, all the grand hinderances of our bearing fruit, and that in the same order in which they occur.
Matthew 13:19 KJV When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
Russell: Word – “The Gospel of the kingdom”–the information that God has appointed Christ to be King and he is now seeking a little flock to be his associates in the work of blessing and restoring the world.
Of the kingdom — The message of the Kingdom may be said to be the only message God has yet given to mankind as a message of hope. At the time of utterance, the message of the Kingdom took on a special form–an invitation to become joint-heirs with the Messiah, the heir of the Kingdom.
Understandeth it not — On such ears, the message is lost.
Then cometh — On the alert, to take it away.
The wicked one — Satan.
Catcheth away — Devouring the exposed seed of truth.
In his heart — In the first parable, the field is the heart; in the second, “the field is the world.” (Verse 38) If all hearts were right, the seed would bring forth much fruit.
This is he — We blame not. The Lord blames him not. It was not his fault that his mind was so down-trodden with ignorance that the message of the Kingdom could find no lodgment in his heart.
Seed — The Kingdom message or invitation; many do not understand it.
By the way-side — The heart being solid and compact with selfishness that comes with prosperity, needing the plowshare of trouble. Wayside hearers constitute the most numerous class in every nominal church congregation.
Benson:When any one heareth, &c. — The parable, it must be observed, only concerns the hearers of the gospel. As to those who decline, or neglect to hear it, their portion is frequently given them elsewhere..; the word of the kingdom — Namely, of the kingdom of Christ, generally termed in the gospels, the kingdom of God, or of heaven: the word which describes the nature, and shows the excellency and necessity of the kingdom of grace, preparatory to that of glory, and points out the way leading thereto.
This is the good seed, which every sower sent by Jesus Christ will be careful to sow. Not the chaff of metaphysical speculations, of human traditions, and empty notions, nor the light corn of mere moral doctrines, much less the tares of superstitious injunctions, or of enthusiastical, or Pharisaic, or antinomian delusions; but the solid and well-bodied grain of the essential truths of the gospel of Christ.
And understandeth it not — For the truths that are not understood, how often soever they are heard, are in this parable fitly compared to the seed which lies uncovered on the surface of the ground, exposed to be instantly picked up by the fowls of heaven. But why is not the word of the kingdom understood? Either, 1st, because, while delivered, it is not attended to; or, 2d, because it is not heard in a spirit of prayer for divine illumination, without which divine things are not understood, Luk_24:45; 1Co_2:11; 1Co_2:14. But the Greek expression, μη συνιεντος, may with equal propriety be rendered considereth it not.
Considering or meditating upon the word heard, is like harrowing in and covering up the seed sown on the ploughed ground; in consequence whereof, and not otherwise, imbibing moisture from the earth, it vegetates and springs up. When the word is not thus understood and considered, then cometh the wicked one; Satan cometh immediately; (so Mark;) either inwardly filling the mind with thoughts of other things, and exciting earthly and carnal desires and dispositions in the heart; or by his agents, such as all they are that introduce other subjects when people should be considering what they have heard.
And catcheth away that which was sown in his heart — Which was intended deeply to impress and sink into it; and to remain, not only in the understanding and memory, but also in the affections, as a seed of true piety and virtue. And now the seed, the truths heard, being taken away, with the good impressions produced thereby, no fruit is to be looked for.
Why doth he do this lest we should believe? See Luk_8:12. This is he that receiveth seed by the way-side — And a great proportion of most congregations are of this description.
Guzik: This is he who received seed by the wayside: The wayside represents those who never really hear the gospel with understanding. The gospel must be understood before it can bear fruit. One of Satan’s chief works is to keep men in darkness regarding their understanding of the gospel (2Co_4:3-4).
Clarke:When any one heareth the word of the kingdom – Viz. the preaching of the Gospel of Christ.
And understandeth it not – Μη συνιεντος, perhaps more properly, regardeth it not, does not lay his heart to it.
The wicked one – In the parallel place in Luke, Luk_8:12, he is called ὁ διαβολος, the devil, from διαβαλλειν, to shoot, or dart through. In allusion to this meaning of the name, St. Paul, Eph_6:16, speaks of the fiery Darts of the wicked one. It is worthy of remark, that the three evangelists should use each a different appellative of this mortal enemy of mankind; probably to show that the devil, with all his powers and properties, opposes everything that tends to the salvation of the soul.
Catcheth away – Makes the utmost haste to pick up the good seed, lest it should take root in the heart.
Barnes: When any one heareth … – The seed represents the word of God communicated in any manner to the minds of people – by the Scriptures, by preaching, by acts of Providence, or by the direct influences of the Holy Spirit.
Then cometh the wicked one – That is, Satan Mar_4:15, or the devil Luk_8:12 – the one eminently “wicked,” the accuser, the tempter.
He is represented by the fowls that came and picked up the seed by the way-side. The gospel is preached to people hardened in sin. It makes no impression. It lies like seed on the “hard path;” it is easily taken away, and never suffered to take root.
Matthew 13:20 KJV But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
Matthew 13:21 KJV Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Russell: Into stony places — Having a veneer of outward grace, but at heart a character of selfishness. The influences of the Kingdom will give them strength of character and take away the unfavorable, stony condition which now hinders fruitage.
Not root in himself — They lack depth of character. The selfishness which is the sub-stratum of their character will not permit them to endure hardness for the truth’s sake.
Persecution ariseth — Persecution withers them. As soon as they find that with the truth goes something of persecution and tribulation, their interest speedily dies out.
He is offended — The purpose of permitting offenses and divisions is “that they which are approved [by God, because they endure the tests and stand fast in the truth] may be made manifest among you.” (1Co_11:18-19)
Clarke: But he that received the seed into stony places – is he – That is, is a fit emblem of that man who, hearing the Gospel, is affected with its beauty and excellency, and immediately receiveth it with joy – is glad to hear what God has done to make man happy.
Benson: He that received the seed into stony, rather, rocky, places — Where the bed of earth was very shallow, is he that heareth the word — Hears it with attention, and in a spirit of prayer, sincerely desiring that the eyes of his understanding may be opened; nay, and understands what he hears, and even seriously considers it afterward. For he is said, Luk_8:13, to believe for a while, and here to receive it with joy; being struck, doubtless, with the beauty of the truth, and drawn by the preventing grace of God. Yet hath he not root in himself — No deep work of grace in his soul; no real change in the ground of his heart. He is not truly regenerated and made a new creature in Christ. The consequence is, he only endureth for a while —
he only endureth for a while —Continues to profess an attachment to the truth, as long as the truth is held in esteem, and proceeds on, apparently, in the way of the kingdom, while the way is smooth, and no stumbling-block, or difficulty, occurs therein. But when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word — When the truth and its professors are exposed to reproach and infamy, and the disciples of Jesus are called to drink of his cup of suffering, by and by, Greek ευθυς, immediately, he is offended, σκανδαλιζεται, he is stumbled. He finds a thousand pretences for leaving so narrow and rugged a way. Luke has it, εν καιρω πειρασμου αφιστανται, In time of temptation, or trial, they fall off, namely, as blossoms from the trees, through a frost in the spring. It has been observed above, that the warmth of the sun’s beams will rather promote than hinder the growth of the corn, if it hath sufficient depth of earth, wherein to take root, and sufficient moisture; in like manner, if a deep work of grace be wrought in a man’s heart, and he be really born from above, tribulation, persecution, and other trials and temptations will be so far from destroying his piety, or even obstructing the growth of grace in his soul, that they will rather promote it, and though not joyous but grievous while they continue, yet will afterward yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness, to those that are exercised thereby; and will tend to perfect their faith and patience, and other graces, and prepare them for heaven, as hot weather before the harvest ripens the corn, when full in the ear, for the sickle.
Guzik: The stony places represent those who receive the gospel enthusiastically, but it is short-lived, because they are not willing to endure tribulation or persecution . . . because of the word.
Barnes:But he that received the seed into stony places – Jesus explains this as denoting those who hear the gospel; who are caught with it as something new or pleasing; who profess to be greatly delighted with it, and who are full of zeal for it.
Yet they have no root in themselves. They are not true Christians. Their hearts are not changed. They have not seen their guilt and danger, and the true excellency of Christ. They are not “really” attached to the gospel; and when they are tried and persecution comes, they fall – as the rootless grain withers before the scorching rays of the noonday sun.
Anon – “Quickly,” or “readily.”
With joy receiveth it – They are under deep distress for sin; they are apprehensive of danger; they hear the offer of mercy, and they seem to themselves to embrace the gospel. It offers them peace, pardon, salvation, and religion assumes for a time a lovely aspect. They imagine that they are pardoned, and they have a temporary peace and joy. Their anxieties subside. Their fears are gone. They are for a time happy. “The mere subsiding of anxious feeling from any cause will make the mind for a time happy.” They have only to imagine, therefore, that their sins are forgiven, to produce a certain kind of peace and joy. But there is no ground of permanent joy, as there is in true pardon, and soon their joy subsides, and all evidence of piety disappears. There is no strength of principle to resist temptation; there is no real love of the Saviour; and in times of trial and persecution they show that they have no true religion, and fall away.
By and by – Mark, “Immediately.” That is, it soon occurs, or this is an effect which may be expected soon to follow.
Is offended – Stumbles or falls, for this is the meaning of the word “offend” in the New Testament. See the notes at Mat_5:29. Persecution and trial are placed in his path, and he falls as he would over a “stumbling-block.” He has no strength of principle – no real confidence in God – no true religion. Mere excited animal feeling is all that he ever had, and that is not sufficient to sustain him when the trial comes.
Wesley: Yet hath he not root in himself – No deep work of grace: no change in the ground of his heart. Nay, he has no deep conviction; and without this, good desires soon wither away. He is offended – He finds a thousand plausible pretences for leaving so narrow and rugged a way.
Matthew 13:22 KJV He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
Guzik: The soil among thorns represents fertile ground for the word – but their “soil” is too fertile, because it also grows all sorts of other things that choke out the word of God.
d. The good ground represents those who receive the word, and it bears fruit in their “soil” – in differing proportions, though everyone has a generous harvest.
e. We benefit from seeing bits of ourselves in all four soils.
i. Like the wayside, sometimes we allow the word no room at all in our lives.
ii. Like the stony places, we sometimes have “hot flashes” of enthusiasm in receiving the word that quickly burn out.
iii. Like the soil among thorns, the world is constantly threatening to choke out God’s word and our fruitfulness.
iv. Like the good ground, the word bears fruit in our lives.
f. Notice that the difference in each category was with the soil itself. The same seed was cast by the same sower. You could not blame the differences in results on the sower or the seed, but only the soil.
Russell: Among the thorns — Pride, ambition for self and for family, love of money and the pursuit of it, and the award which this pursuit brings, are the thorns. Earthly projects and ambitions whose interests conflict with the interests of the Kingdom. Thorns are uprooted by drawing time and attention away from the earthly things in a compulsory manner.
Care of this world — Involved with the spirit of the world. Being swallowed up by ambition or business. Home duties, family duties, business cares, etc.
Deceitfulness of riches — Greediness. Few of the Lord’s people can be trusted with riches. If a Christian grows rich, it should be with fear and trembling. The power in money is more dangerous than dynamite.
Choke the word — Swamped by the ordinary duties of life, proper enough in themselves, to a limited degree.
Becometh unfruitful — Fruitage is a necessary qualification.
“Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mat_6:24)
Clarke:He also that received seed among the thorns – In land ploughed, but not properly cleared and seeded. Is he – represents that person who heareth the word, but the cares, rather the anxiety, η μεριμνα, the whole system of anxious carking cares. Lexicographers derive the word μεριμνα from μεριζειν τον νουν, dividing, or distracting the mind. Thus a poet,
Tot me impediunt curae quae meum animum diverse trahunt.
“So many cares hinder me which draw my mind different ways.” Terence.
The deceitfulness of riches – Which promise peace and pleasure, but can never give them.
Choke the word – Or, together choke the word, συμπνιγει, meaning, either that these grow up together with the word, overtop, and choke it; or that these united together, viz. carking worldly cares, with the delusive hopes and promises of riches, cause the man to abandon the great concerns of his soul, and seek, in their place, what he shall eat, drink, and wherewithal he shall be clothed. Dreadful stupidity of man, thus to barter spiritual for temporal good – a heavenly inheritance for an earthly portion! The seed of the kingdom can never produce much fruit in any heart, till the thorns and thistles of vicious affections and impure desires be plucked up by the roots and burned. The Persic translator renders it asle kalme-ra khube kund, chokes the root of the word: for it appears the seed had taken root, and that these cares, etc., choked it in the root, before even the blade could show itself.
Wesley: He that received the seed among the thorns, is he that heareth the word and considereth it – In spite of Satan and his agents: yea, hath root in himself is deeply convinced, and in a great measure inwardly changed; so that he will not draw back, even when tribulation or persecution ariseth. And yet even in him, together with the good seed, the thorns spring up, Mat 13:7. (perhaps unperceived at first) till they gradually choke it, destroy all its life and power, and it becometh unfruitful. Cares are thorns to the poor: wealth to the rich; the desire of other things to all. The deceitfulness of riches – Deceitful indeed! for they smile, and betray: kiss, and smite into hell. They put out the eyes, harden the heart, steal away all the life of God; fill the soul with pride, anger, love of the world; make men enemies to the whole cross of Christ! And all the while are eagerly desired, and vehemently pursued, even by those who believe there is a God!
Robertson: The thorns flourish and the character sickens and dies, choked to death for lack of spiritual food, air, sunshine.
Gill: is he that heareth the word; not a profane sinner, nor a reviler of religion, or a persecutor of the saints; but one that not only shows a love to the word, but who seems to have his heart broken under it, and by it, his conscience tender, and his life outwardly reformed; one, who besides his being a settled, diligent, understanding, and affectionate hearer of the word, and a believing receiver and professor of it, seems to have a thorough work of grace upon him, to have the fallow ground of his heart ploughed up, and to be truly contrite; the thorns being under ground, and not yet to be seen, but afterwards appear:
and the care of this world; not the care of another world, nor a care about spiritual things in this world, nor even a proper, laudable care of the things of this present life, but an anxious and immoderate care of them; which, as thorns, is very perplexing and distressing to the persons themselves, and is what is vain and fruitless.
choke the word: by overspreading all the powers and faculties of the soul, as thorns do a field; by overtopping the seed of the word, and by hiding it from the influences of the sun of righteousness, and rain of grace; and by attracting everything in the heart to themselves; and by bearing and pressing down all thought, concern, and care for the use, fruitfulness, and increase of the word.
And he becometh unfruitful: as in such circumstances he must needs be; or if there be any show of fruit in outward respect to the word, in an historical faith of it, in an external profession, and outward reformation, “yet brings not fruit to perfection”, as Luke says; these in process of time shrivel up, wither away, and come to nothing.
Matthew 13:23 KJV But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Russell: Into good ground — We, as new creatures, have the determining of the condition of the soil in our own hearts.
Understandeth it — We should understand the Kingdom message. Hence the need of Bible study.
As study is wisely devoted to prepare for the short earthly life, how much more is it proper for our preparation for eternal life?
Beareth fruit — Of character-development; the manifestation of God’s grace in our hearts.
And bringeth forth — The harvest of thirty, sixty or a hundredfold illustrates degree and intensity of our earnestness.
Some an hundredfold — Those who love the Lord, his truth and his people most fervently.
The rewards of the Kingdom will also be proportionate.
Some sixty — “As star differeth from star in glory, so also will be the resurrection” of the Church. (1Co_15:41-42)
Some thirty — He does not speak slightingly of those which bring forth but the thirty-fold.
Robertson: It is the teacher’s task as the sower to sow the right seed, the word of the kingdom. The soil determines the outcome.
Barnes:Into good ground – Those whose hearts are prepared by grace to receive it honestly, and to give it full opportunity to grow.
In a rich and mellow soil – in a heart that submits itself to the full influence of truth, unchecked by cares and anxieties; under the showers and summer suns of divine grace; with the heart spread open, like a broad, luxuriant field, to the rays of the morning and to evening dews, the gospel takes deep root and grows; it has full room, and then and there only shows “what it is.”
Clarke:Good ground – That which had depth of mould, was well ploughed, and well weeded.
Is he that heareth – Who diligently attends the ministry of the word.
And understandeth it – Lays the subject to heart, deeply weighing its nature, design, and importance.
Which also beareth fruit – His fruitfulness being an almost necessary consequence of his thus laying the Divine message to heart. Let it be observed, that to hear, to understand, and to bring forth fruit, are the three grand evidences of a genuine believer. He who does not hear the word of wisdom cannot understand what makes for his peace; and he who does not understand what the Gospel requires him to be and to perform, cannot bring forth fruit; and he who is not fruitful, very fruitful, cannot be a disciple of Christ – see Joh_15:8; and he who is not Christ’s disciple cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
From the different portions of fruit produced by the good ground, a hundred, sixty, and thirty, we may learn that all sound believers are not equally fruitful; all hear, understand, and bring forth fruit, but not in the same degrees-occasioned, partly, by their situation and circumstances not allowing them such extensive opportunities of receiving and doing good; and, partly, by lack of mental capacity – for every mind is not equally improvable.
Gill: But he that received seed into the good ground,…. The hearer compared to good ground into which the seed fell, is he that heareth the word and understandeth it; has a new and spiritual understanding given him, feels the power of it on his heart, enlightening and quickening him; has an application of it made to him by the Spirit of God, and can discern the worth and excellency of it, and distinguish it from all others; and, as Mark says, “receives it”; as the word of God in faith, and with the love of it, and with all readiness and meekness; and, as Luke observes, “keeps it”; holds it fast against all opposition with great struggling; will not part with it at any rate, nor depart from it in the least, nor entertain any doubt about it; but abides by it, stands fast in it, and is valiant for it: and this he does in and with “an honest and good heart”; which no man naturally has; nor can any man make his heart so: this is the work of God, and is owing to his efficacious grace. This is an heart of flesh, a new and right heart, and spirit; an heart to fear God, to love him, and to trust in him; in which Christ dwells by faith; in which the Spirit of God has his temple; and in which every grace is implanted: and such an one, as he hears with a strict, and an honest intention, and in the exercise of grace; so he holds fast the word he hears, understands and receives, with all faithfulness and honesty:
which also beareth fruit and bringeth forth, some an hundred fold, some sixty, and some thirty: the fruit bore, and brought forth by such an hearer, is the true fruit of grace and righteousness, and is all from Christ, under the influences of the Spirit, through the word and ordinances, as means, and issues in the glory of God; and though not brought forth in the same quantity in all, yet is of the same quality; and is brought forth, as Luke says, “with patience”: constantly, and continually, in all seasons, in old age, and even unto death; and is at last brought “to perfection”, holds, and remains unto the end.
Matthew 13:24 KJV Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
Russell: Another parable — These parables are related to each other, but should not be confounded. The first prepares the way for the other. The first deals with the individual; the second with the church collectively. To show some of the difficulties which interfere with the best hearers, the best hearts, some with the best seed.
Kingdom of heaven — Practically every parable which our Lord uttered was given to teach something respecting the character of the Kingdom.
A man — The Lord Jesus.
Sowed good seed — The Gospel of the Kingdom from the Word of God, “He brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” (2Ti_1:10) Seeds of truth, the promises, which, springing up in the hearts of his disciples, transformed them to newness of life.
“Which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord.” (Heb_2:3)
This parable ignores all except the “good ground” hearers of the preceding parable. R4635:2
In his field — The entire world.
Gill:Another parable put he forth unto them, saying,…. Somewhat like the former, but with a different view: for whereas the design of the former was to show the different sorts of hearers that attend upon the ministry of the word, three parts in four being bad; this is to show the difference of members in churches, some being comparable to good seed, and others to tares.
The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: by “the kingdom of heaven”, is not meant the ultimate glory of the saints in heaven, or the state of happiness in the other world; for there will be no tares there.
Wesley: He proposed another parable – in which he farther explains the case of unfruitful hearers. The kingdom of heaven (as has been observed before) sometimes signifies eternal glory: sometimes the way to it, inward religion; sometimes, as here, the Gospel dispensation: the phrase is likewise used for a person or thing relating to any one of those: so in this place it means, Christ preaching the Gospel, who is like a man sowing good seed – The expression, is like, both here and in several other places, only means, that the thing spoken of may be illustrated by the following similitude. Who sowed good seed in his field – God sowed nothing but good in his whole creation. Christ sowed only the good seed of truth in his Church.
Matthew 13:25 KJV But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
Guzik:His enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat: The enemy’s purpose in sowing tares was to destroy the wheat. But the wise farmer will not allow the enemy to succeed. Instead, He will sort it out at harvest time.
b. As applied to the kingdom community, this parable teaches us that it is not our job to sort the tares from the wheat. That is only done at the time of harvest. Among God’s people, there may be some who are not genuine Christians, but it is God’s job to sort out false professors.
Russell: But while men slept — After the apostles fell asleep. In the night, the dark ages, while a general spirit of slumber regarding the truth prevailed among the Lord’s people.
Even yet the same thing is true. “Therefore, let us not sleep as do others.” (1Th_5:6)
The Church was kept free from tares before the apostles fell asleep by God arranging that truth be put forth for acceptance or rejection by the Jews in its most unfavorable light, so that only Israelites indeed would be inclined to become followers of Jesus.
During the Apostles’ days such special gifts as “discernment of spirits” enabled them to prevent tares from getting in among the wheat, hypocrites from getting into the Church.
“After my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Act_20:29-30)
His enemy came — The great adversary, Satan. Using human instrumentalities.
Sowed tares — Sham wheat, imitation wheat, professors who draw nigh with their lips while their hearts are far from the Lord. Hypocrites, Nominal Christians, resembling or counterfeiting the true, to choke the wheat, if possible. Errors, more or less twisting and distorting every truth of the divine revelation. The tare seed is false teaching, human philosophies and doctrines of devils.
Bearded darnel, which cannot be discerned from wheat until the harvest. The wheat, weighted with golden grains, humbly bows its head; while the tares stand straight, the head having little weight and the seed being black. Poisonous, and acts as an emetic, causing vomiting.
These have run the church organizations, and the Lord has permitted it to be so and is allowing the truly consecrated ones to be developed under these different conditions.
Deceived persons, misnaming themselves Christians, because mistaught by churchianity. Since the death of the apostles, any number of hypocrites have come into the church, indeed have been dragged and coaxed in to swell the numbers. There are many fine, noble people among the tares who have neither part nor lot with the wheat because they are not of the same nature, not begotten of the truth.
The Greek implies over-sown; intentionally, maliciously sown in the midst of the wheat, for the very purpose of damaging or totally spoiling the entire crop.
Among the wheat — The true saints, the children of the Kingdom.
For the very purpose of choking it, “We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with wicked spirits in high positions.” (Eph_6:12)
Benson:But while men slept — Who were set to watch, namely, magistrates and ministers, the servants of the husbandman. Observe, reader, Satan hath a power to persuade, allure, seduce; but not to force. If the servants of Christ watched, and did their duty, there would be much less open wickedness in the world, and less secret sin in the Church than there is.
His enemy came and sowed tares — Rather darnel, as it seems ζιζανια ought to be rendered. “It appears,” says Dr. Campbell, “from the parable itself, 1st, That this weed was not only hurtful to the corn, but otherwise of no value, and therefore to be severed and burnt. 2dly, That it resembled corn, especially wheat, since it was only when the wheat was putting forth the ear that these weeds were discovered. Now neither of these characters will suit the tare, which is excellent food for cattle, and sometimes cultivated for their use; and which, being a species of vetch, is distinguished from corn, from the moment it appears above ground. Therefore, as it cannot be the tare that is meant, it is highly probable that it is the darnel, in Latin lolium, namely, that species called by botanists temulentum, which grows among corn, not the lolium perenne, commonly called ray, and corruptly rye grass, which grows in meadows. For, 1st, This appears to have been the Latin word by which the Greek was wont to be interpreted. 2dly, It agrees to the characters above mentioned. It is a noxious weed; for when the seed of it happens to be mingled and ground with the corn, the bread made of this mixture always occasions sickness and giddiness in those who eat it; and the straw has the same effect upon the cattle. It is from this quality, and the appearance of drunkenness which it produces, that it has the specific name given it by botanists. And probably for the same reason it is called by Virgil, infelix lolium. It has also a resemblance to wheat sufficient to justify all that relates to this in the parable.” “The only English translation,” adds the doctor, “in which I have found the word darnel, is Mr. Wesley’s.”
Barnes:While men slept, his enemy came … – That is, “in the night,” when it could be done without being seen, an enemy came and scattered bad seed on the new-plowed field, perhaps before the good seed had been harrowed in.
Satan thus sows false doctrine in darkness. In the very place where the truth is preached, and while the hearts of people are open to receive it, by false but plausible teachers he takes care to inculcate false sentiments. Often it is one of his arts, in a revival of religion, to spread secretly dangerous notions of piety. Multitudes are persuaded that they are Christians who are deceived. They are awakened, convicted, and alarmed. They take this for conversion. Or they find their burden gone; they fancy that they hear a voice; or a text of Scripture is “brought” to them, saying that their sins are forgiven; or they see Christ hanging on the cross in a vision; or they dream that their sins are pardoned, and they suppose they are Christians. But they are deceived. None of these things are any conclusive evidence of piety. All these may exist, and still there be no true love to God or Christ, and no real hatred of sin and change of heart. An enemy may do it to deceive them, and to bring dishonor on religion.
Sowed tares – By “tares” is probably meant a degenerate kind of wheat, or the darnel-grass growing in Palestine. In its growth and form it has a strong resemblance to genuine wheat; but it either produces no grain, or that of a very inferior and hurtful kind. Probably it comes near to what we mean by “chess.” It was extremely difficult to separate it from the genuine wheat, on account of its similarity while growing.
“The tare abounds all over the East, and is a great nuisance to the farmer. It resembles the American “cheat (chess),” but the “head” does not droop like cheat, nor does it branch out like oats. The grain, also, is smaller, and is arranged along the upper part of the stalk, which stands perfectly erect. The “taste” is bitter, and when eaten separately, or even when diffused in ordinary bread, it causes dizziness, and often acts as a violent emetic. Barn-door fowls also become dizzy from eating it. In short, it is a strong soporific poison, and must be carefully winnowed, and picked out of the wheat grain by grain, before grinding, or the flour is not healthy. Even the farmers, who in this country generally “weed” their fields, do not attempt to separate the one from the other. They would not only mistake good grain for them, but very commonly the roots of the two are so intertwined that it is impossible to separate them without plucking up both. Both, therefore, must be left to “grow together” until the time of harvest.” – (Thomson) “The Land and the Book,” vol. ii. pp. 111, 112. Thus, “tares” aptly represented hypocrites in the church. Strongly resembling Christians in their experience, and, in some respects, their lives it is impossible to distinguish them from genuine Christians, nor can they be separated until it is done by the Great Searcher of hearts at the day of judgment. An enemy the devil hath done it. And nowhere has he shown profounder cunning, or done more to adulterate the purity of the gospel.
And went his way – There is something very expressive in this. He knew the soil; he knew how the seed would take root and grow. He had only to sow the seed and let it alone. So Satan knows the soil in which he sows his doctrine. He knows that in the human heart it will take deep and rapid root. It needs but little culture. Grace needs constant attendance and care. Error, and sin, and hypocrisy are the native products of the human heart, and, when left alone, start up with deadly luxuriancy.
Clarke: But while men slept – When the professors were lukewarm, and the pastors indolent, his enemy came and sowed tares, ζιζανια degenerate, or bastard wheat. The righteous and the wicked are often mingled in the visible Church. Every Christian society, how pure soever its principles may be, has its bastard wheat – those who bear a resemblance to the good, but whose hearts are not right with God. He who sows this bastard wheat among God’s people is here styled God’s enemy; and he may be considered also as a sower of them who permits them to be sown and to spring up through his negligence. Wo to the indolent pastors, who permit the souls under their care to be corrupted by error and sin!
The word ζιζανια, zizania, which is here translated tares, and which should rather be translated bastard or degenerate wheat, is a Chaldee word; and its meaning must be sought in the rabbinical writers. In a treatise in the Mishna called Kelayim, which treats expressly on different kinds of seeds, the word זונים zunim, or זונין zunin, is used for bastard or degenerated wheat; that which was wholly a right seed in the beginning, but afterwards became degenerate – the ear not being so large, nor the grains in such quantity, as formerly, nor the corn so good in quality.
Wesley: But while men slept – They ought to have watched: the Lord of the field sleepeth not. His enemy came and sowed darnel – This is very like wheat, and commonly grows among wheat rather than among other grain: but tares or vetches are of the pulse kind, and bear no resemblance to wheat.
Gill: But while men slept,…. Good men, ministers, and churches; whose case this sometimes is to be asleep in a spiritual sense: and which sleepiness lies in a non-exercise of grace; in a sluggishness to and in duty; in a contentment in external exercises of religion; in lukewarmness about the cause of Christ; in an unconcernedness about sins of omission and commission; and in a willingness to continue in such a state; and which arises from a body of sin and death; from worldly cares; weariness in spiritual duties; a cessation from spiritual exercises; an absenting from spiritual company; oftentimes from outward ease, peace, and plenty, sometimes from a long expectation of the bridegroom’s coming, and the delay of it; and from its being a night season, a time of darkness and security: such a case with the church, and good men, is very dangerous, as it exposes to every sin and snare; renders them liable to lose the presence of Christ, their liveliness and comfort; and tends to poverty and leanness of soul: such are in danger of being surprised with the midnight cry; and the churches are likely to be filled with hypocrites and heretics:
his enemy came; by whom is meant the devil, Mat_13:39 who is an enemy to Christ personally, and showed himself to be so in his infancy, by stirring up Herod to seek his life: and, when grown up, by instigating the Jews to contrive his death; which they attempted by various methods, and which, at last, he compassed by Judas, and the Scribes and Pharisees; and also to Christ mystical, to the church, and all true believers; whose adversary he is, going about, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour: the same came into the field, the world, and church in it;
and sowed tares among the wheat; by “the wheat”, is meant the same with the “good seed”, the children of God, true believers in Christ; who are comparable to wheat, for the choiceness of it, that being the choicest grain, so they are the chosen of God, and precious, and the excellent in the earth:
And went his way; somewhere else, to do more mischief; and having done all he could at present here, undiscovered, not taken notice of by ministers and churches; they being all asleep, and having lost, in a great measure, the spirit of discerning. The word ζιζανια, we render “tares”, and the Ethiopic version “thistles”, probably means the same the Jewish doctors call זונין, Zunin (s); and which, they say, is a sort of wheat, and not of a different kind from it; that when it is sown it looks like wheat, and is sown for it, but is changed in the earth, both as to its nature and form, and brings forth this kind. In the generation in which the flood was, they say (t), they sowed wheat, and the earth brought forth זונין, ζιζανια, what we render “tares”, and bids fair to be what is here meant; and fitly expresses false professors, nominal Christians, men of degenerate principles and practices: for not what we call tares, or vetches, can be meant, which may be removed from the wheat without danger, but rather this degenerate wheat; or that wheat which is blasted, and which may be observed sometimes to grow upon the same root, and therefore cannot be taken away, without rooting up the wheat also.
Karen:–I really like the thoughts expressed that “while men slept”—to bring it into our day and our responsibility—if elders are not doing their job to protect the sheep, they let all sorts of bad behavior continue in their midst as well as bad doctrines. They are asleep on the job.
Matthew 13:26 KJV But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
Russell: The tares also — Nominal Christians, much more numerous than the wheat. The children of the devil.
Begotten not of truth, begotten of excitement, of fear of hell, of hopes of worldly advantage, of pride, of social and financial ambition.
Barnes: Then appeared the tares also – That is, then the tares were “first discovered.” They had grown with the wheat, but were so much like it as not to be noticed until the wheat began to ripen.
So true piety and false hopes are not known by professions, by “blades,” and leaves, and flowers, but by the fruit.
Gill:But when the blade was sprung up,…. That is, the blade of the wheat; which designs the taking up, a profession of religion on principles of grace, called a profession of faith; and when right, it springs up from, and proceeds upon a work begun in the heart: and such a profession ought to be made by all that are partakers of the grace of God; and ought to be made both verbally, by a confession of the mouth, and a declaration of the work of God upon the heart, and by deeds, by submitting to the ordinances of the Gospel; and should be sincere, and from the heart, and be visible to men, and be held fast unto the end without wavering.
And brought forth fruit; which intends not the conversion of sinners, nor the performance of duties, nor the perfection of grace, but the first appearances of grace under a profession, such as sorrow for sin, after a godly sort, fear and reverence of God, great humility, much self-denial, ardent love to Christ, pantings and breathings after him, and communion with him, strong affection for the people of God, some exercise of faith on Christ, zeal for his cause and interest, and a concern to honour and glorify God.
Then appeared the tares also. They were not discernible for some time when they were first sown; they looked like good seed when they first appeared among the people of God; they seemed to have the truth of grace, as others had; their blade of profession, when it sprung up, looked like that of true wheat; but were now discernible both by their unfruitfulness in their lives and conversations, and by their bad principles, which they now endeavoured to spread, to the hurt of the churches where they were: they always appeared to be what they were to God the searcher of hearts; but now, through the zeal of true converts, to which these opposed themselves, and the fruitfulness of their lives, from which they were so very different, they became manifest to ministers and churches.
Clarke: When the blade was sprung up – then appeared the tares also – Satan has a shoot of iniquity for every shoot of grace; and, when God revives his work, Satan revives his also. No marvel, therefore, if we find scandals arising suddenly to discredit a work of grace, where God has begun to pour out his Spirit.
Wesley: When the blade was sprung up, then appeared the darnel – It was not discerned before: it seldom appears, as soon as the good seed is sown: all at first appears to be peace, and love, and joy.
Benson: Darnel in the Church is properly hypocrites, or mere outside Christians, such as have only the form of godliness without the power. Open sinners, such as have neither the form nor the power, are not so properly darnel as thistles and brambles, which ought to be rooted up without delay, and not suffered in the Christian community. Whereas, should fallible men attempt to gather up the darnel, they would often root up the wheat with it.
Matthew 13:27 KJV So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
Russell: From whence then — But God knew all the time.
Clarke: So the servants – said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow – A faithful and vigilant minister of Christ fails not to discover the evil, to lament it, and to address himself to God by prayer, in order to find out the cause of it, and to receive from him proper information how to behave on the occasion.
JFB:So the servants of the householder came — that is, Christ’s ministers.
and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? — This well expresses the surprise, disappointment, and anxiety of Christ’s faithful servants and people at the discovery of “false brethren” among the members of the Church.
Gill:So the servants of the householder came,….. By “the servants” that came to him, are meant, not civil magistrates, who have nothing to do in the affairs of churches; nor the angels, though these are ministering servants to Christ, and will be employed by him, in the close of time, to gather up the tares, bind them in bundles, and cast them into the fire; but the ministers of the Gospel, the servants of Christ, and of the most high God, who are made use of in planting, and sowing, and weeding his field, the church: these observing the tares, and fearing the danger the wheat was in by them, as well as troubled and surprised at the appearance and growth of them, came to him, and spread the case before him in prayer; and
said unto him, Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? Their manner of address, calling him Sir, or Lord, is expressive of their reverence of him, and obedience to him; and which is said, not in word only, but in the sincerity of their hearts, and under the influence of the Spirit of God. They ascribe the field, the church, the good seed, converts that sprung up in it, and the sowing, or making of them such, all to Christ, and not any of this kind, or any part of it to themselves; though they were employed by him in tilling this field, in sowing spiritual things to the saints, and were useful to them in their profession of religion. Moreover, they intimate, that nothing but good could come from Christ; no bad seed, no tares could be of his sowing: and declare their ignorance of the rise of them; which ignorance was owing to their being asleep, when the enemy sowed them.
Matthew 13:28 KJV He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
Gill: He said unto them, an enemy has done this,…. This is the answer of the householder to the question of his servants. In the Greek text it is, “an enemy man”; and is so rendered in the several versions; meaning, not that the enemy was a man; for he was the devil, as in Mat_13:39 but it is an Hebraism; such as in Est_7:6, איש צר ואויב, “the man adversary and enemy” is this wicked Haman; and signifies a certain enemy, and one indeed that is an implacable enemy to man.
The servants said unto him, wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? which words express the concern of the ministers of Christ for the true members of the church, comparable to wheat, lest they should receive any damage by the ill examples, and pernicious principles of evil men among them; also their detestation and abhorrence of men of wicked lives and erroneous principles; they cannot bear them which are evil; likewise, they show great regard to the glory of God, and interest of religion, and their readiness to execute any orders Christ should give them; but not willing to proceed of themselves, ask counsel and advice of him.
Clarke:An enemy hath done this – It is the interest of Satan to introduce hypocrites and wicked persons into religious societies, in order to discredit the work of God, and to favor his own designs.
Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? – A zeal which is rash and precipitate is as much to be feared as the total lack of strict discipline.
Wesley: He said, An enemy hath done this – A plain answer to the great question concerning the origin of evil. God made men (as he did angels) intelligent creatures, and consequently free either to choose good or evil: but he implanted no evil in the human soul: An enemy (with man’s concurrence) hath done this. Darnel, in the Church, is properly outside Christians, such as have the form of godliness, without the power. Open sinners, such as have neither the form nor the power, are not so properly darnel, as thistles and brambles: these ought to be rooted up without delay, and not suffered in the Christian community. Whereas should fallible men attempt to gather up the darnel, they would often root up the wheat with them.
Matthew 13:29 KJV But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
Russell: But he said, Nay — We cannot follow the usual custom in this case, because of the greatly excessive proportion of tares.
While it was out of place for any to attempt harvest work before harvest time, it is likewise a mistake to neglect harvest work in harvest time and give attention to seed-sowing.
Gather up the tares — Because the true and false are too intimately associated, their roots intertwining in society, home, etc.
Ye root up also — Unsettle, disturb. So closely intertwined are the roots of the two classes that to disturb such close relationship in life would cause great commotion.
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will manifest the counsels of the hearts.” (1Co_4:5)
The wheat with them — So intimately were the true and false associated. To have cleansed the wheat field in the past would have meant a commotion which would not have served the best interests of the wheat.
Only the Lord, who could read the hearts, could distinguish between them with unerring precision
Clarke: But he said, Nay – God judges quite otherwise than men of this mixture of good and evil in the world; he knows the good which he intends to produce from it, and how far his patience towards the wicked should extend, in order to their conversion, or the farther sanctification of the righteous. Men often persecute a true Christian, while they intend only to prosecute an impious person. “A zeal for the extirpation of heretics and wicked men,” said a pious Papist, “not regulated by these words of our blessed Savior, allows no time for the one to grow strong in goodness, or to the other to forsake their evil courses. They are of a spirit very opposite to his, who care not if they root up the wheat, provided they can but gather up the tares.” The zeal which leads persons to persecute others for religious opinions is not less a seed of the devil than a bad opinion itself is.
Barnes: Ye root up also the wheat – They so much resembled the true wheat that even then it would be difficult to separate them.
By gathering them, they would tread down the wheat, loosen and disturb the earth, and greatly injure the crop. In the harvest it could be done without injury.
JFB: But he said, Nay — “It will be done in due time, but not now, nor is it your business.”
lest, while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them — Nothing could more clearly or forcibly teach the difficulty of distinguishing the two classes, and the high probability that in the attempt to do so these will be confounded.
Gill:But he said, nay,…. The answer is in the negative; and which, spoken …to ministers of the word, which sense I choose, the meaning is, that not everyone suspected to be a tare, or a nominal professor, is to be removed from the communion of the church, because there is often danger in so doing:
lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them: not that men of openly scandalous lives are to be tolerated in churches; they are to be withdrawn from, and put away; nor men of known, avowed, heretical principles; such, after the first and second admonition, are to be rejected: yet there may be such in churches, not altogether agreeable in principle and practice, whose character and situation may be such, that there is no removing them without offending some truly gracious, useful persons, in whose affections they stand, who may be tempted, by such a step, to leave their communion; and so cannot be done without a considerable prejudice to the church. The scope of the parable, and the design of our Lord in it, are chiefly to be attended to; which are to show, that a pure and perfect church cannot be expected in the present state of things; and that saints should not be immoderately uneasy, but patiently bear such exercises, until Christ’s time is come to relieve them, when the tares and chaff shall be separated from the wheat; when sinners shall not stand in the congregation of the righteous, and there shall be no more a pricking briar, nor a grieving thorn in the house of Israel.
Matthew 13:30 KJV Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Russell: Let both grow — Christ did not seek to prevent or hinder tare development. The nominal church has neglected these instructions, yet has not kept all the wheat in, or shut out all the tares; hence they are without any excuse. They have set up false, unscriptural standards and doctrines, which have really developed many tares and choked and separated the wheat.
Together — Christians and imitation Christians have lived side by side in the same city, house, family. Only the expert can discern the wheat from the tares while growing. During the Gospel age the wheat and tares together represent the Kingdom of God.
The tares received a certain advantage from their attempt to imitate wheat. It has made them more respectable than they would otherwise have been. There were separations of politico-doctrinal storms before the harvest time, but among these the tares, still predominating, formed other though less objectionable, Babylonish systems.
Until — The command “Come out of her” was not given until after the announcement “Babylon is fallen.” (Rev_18:4, 2)
The harvest — The end, or close, of the Gospel age. The time in which the tares will be gathered into bundles, and the wheat into the heavenly garner.
And in the time — The close of the summer time of favor. Signifying that it will not be instantaneous, but require time. Which chronologically precedes the world’s troubles.
Discussing such matters as when the harvest will end merely takes away opportunities for usefulness. We would be better not to talk about such things and be busily engaged in the harvest work.
Of harvest —A time of reaping rather than sowing, a time of testing, of reckoning, of settlement and rewarding. The harvest of the Jewish age being a type of this age. The time of executing the command, “Gather my saints together unto me, those who have made a covenant with me by [self-] sacrifice.” (Psa_50:5)
The harvest is not a time for peace; but, on the contrary, it will surely produce separation and alienation between true wheat and all else.
Harvest time is the busiest time of all the year and a very brief period compared with the time for sowing
I will say — The recognition of the harvest work in actual progress is proof of the Lord’s presence. The Lord will be the chief reaper and director of the work, and this would be his first work.
To the reapers – Angels.
First the tares — Who think themselves to be the true Church. There is order in this harvest.
To burn them — We cannot burn symbolic tares in literal fire. They do not burn them at once, but proceed to gather the wheat into the garner. Not until the wheat is garnered does the fire consume the tares. This is when the Great Company will wake up.
Gather the wheat — The Church of Christ. Comparatively only a handful, a “little flock.”
“They shall gather together his elect.” (Mat_24:31)
“Gather my saints together unto me.” (Psa_50:5)
“Make up my jewels.” (Mal_3:17)
“Come out of her, my people.” (Rev_18:4)
The harvest is not of the living only, but also of the “dead in Christ.” The angels gather the living, but our Lord, the Chief Reaper, gathers or raises, the dead.
Into my barn — The spiritual condition; the glorified condition.
Barnes: Let both grow together – They would not spoil the true wheat, and in time of harvest it would be easy to separate them.
Our Saviour teaches us here:
1. That hypocrites and deceived persons must be expected in the church.
2. That this is the work of the enemy of man. They are not the work of Christianity any more than traitors are of patriotism, or counterfeiters are of the proper effect of legislating about money. They belong to the world, and hypocrisy is only one form of sin.
3. That all hope of removing them entirely would be vain.
4. That an “attempt” to remove them altogether would injure real Christianity, by causing excitements, discord, and hard feelings even among Christians.
5. That Christ will himself separate them at the proper time. There is no doubt that it is the duty of the church to keep itself pure, and to cut off gross and manifest offenders, 1Co_5:4-5; but the Saviour refers here to those who may be “suspected” of hypocrisy, but against whom it cannot be proved; to those who so successfully imitate Christians as to make it difficult or impossible for man to distinguish them.
Clarke: Let both grow together – Though every minister of God should separate from the Church of Christ every incorrigible sinner, yet he should proceed no farther: the man is not to be persecuted in his body or goods, because he is not sound in the faith – God tolerates him; so should men. False doctrines are against God – he alone is the judge and punisher of them – man has no right to interfere in this matter. They who burnt Vanini for atheism usurped the seat of judgment, and thus proved themselves to be not less a diabolical seed than the person they thus, without God’s leave, hurried into eternity. Mary, Queen of England, of execrable memory, and the inquisitorial tormentors she employed, were all of this diabolical sowing. See more on this parable at Mat_13:37, etc.
Gill:Let both grow together until the harvest,…. Now the end of the world is compared to harvest, because the time of it is fixed and settled; though it is not known when it will be, yet it is as certain as the time of harvest; and because as that is in the summer season, in hot weather, so this will be a time of wrath, when the day of the Lord will burn like an oven; and as the harvest time is a time of hurry and labour, so will it be in the end of the world, especially with the angels, who will be gathering the elect from the four winds, and all men, to appear before the judgment seat of Christ; and as at harvest the corn is cut down, the fields cleared, and all brought home, so it will be at the end of the world; the sickle will be thrust in, and the earth reaped, the tares bound in bundles, and cast into the fire, and the wheat gathered into the garner; and as the harvest, as it falls out to be good or bad, is matter of joy or sorrow, so will the end of the world be joy to saints, who will then enter into the joy of their Lord…
The “tares”, or nominal professors, may “grow” in riches, in credit, and reputation among men, and in speculative knowledge; and oftentimes so it is, that they grow worse and worse, both in doctrinal and practical wickedness: when they are ordered to “grow together”, the meaning is, not that their growth is equal, or of the same kind, nor in the same way, nor in the same things; but this only notes the time and duration of their growth: nor is this suffered and permitted, because of any love God has unto them, or any delight in, or approbation of them; but either because they are not fully ripe for ruin; or for the exercise of the saints, and for their temporal and spiritual good; for it is entirely a tender regard to the wheat, and not to the tares, that they are ordered to grow together,
And in the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, the angels,
gather ye together first the tares; that is, formal professors, hypocrites, and heretics; whom he will have removed out of his kingdom, his church, his field, in the world: and this order shows, that the angels will have a perfect and exact knowledge of these persons; and that their work will be to separate them from the righteous; when the churches will be pure, and without spot, or wrinkle: and this will be done first; that is, these wicked men will be first removed out of the church, before their more severe punishment takes place:
But gather the wheat into my barn; meaning the kingdom of heaven, which is as a garner or repository, in which none but wheat is put, and where it is safe, and lies together: so none but righteous, pure, and undefiled persons, are admitted into heaven; and being there, they are safe, and out of the reach of all enemies; and what adds to their happiness is, that they are together, enjoying all satiety and fulness; and are in Christ’s barn, or garner, which he has made, and prepared for their reception.
Karen’s thoughts: What event leaves the wheat standing alone in the field? My thought is that it is the Hour of Power. It is the only time when scriptures speak of everyone being deceived except the Little Flock. So, even the Great Company will be deceived for a time. My thought is what binds the tares is the “mark of the Beast”. Just my 2 cents.
Matthew 13:31 KJV Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
Russell: Parable — These different parable-pictures represent the same subject from different standpoints.
Kingdom of heaven — The nominal church of this Gospel age. The class called out of the world of mankind to be associated with him in his Millennial Kingdom.
Guzik: (Mat_13:31-32) Another illustration of corruption in the kingdom community: the parable of the mustard seed.
When it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches: Some regard this as a beautiful picture of the church growing so large that it provides refuge for all the world. But this mustard seed plant has grown into a monstrosity, and it harbors birds – who, the in the parables, are emissaries of Satan (Mat_13:4; Mat_13:19).
Gill: Another parable put he forth unto them, saying,…. As the former parable sets forth the condition of the Gospel church state until the end of the world; this expresses the small beginnings of it, and the large increase and growth of it, and its great usefulness to the saints,
The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field: by “the kingdom of heaven” is meant, as before, the Gospel dispensation, or the Gospel church state, and the ministry of the word, and the administration of ordinances in it.
Matthew 13:32 KJV Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
Russell: The least — The Church of Christ was so unimportant in the world at one time that it was a shame to belong to it.
When it is grown — Ultimately the nominal church would become honorable and great.
Greatest among herbs — Not great among the trees, but among bushes of herbage. Yet this large development does not signify advantage; on the contrary, a disadvantage, in that the fowls of the air come, lodge in its branches, and defile it.
Becometh a tree — With its various branches and denominations, the nominal church is Babylonish.
Birds of the air — Satan and his agents.
In the branches — So great that the adversary’s servants would have pleasure in its shade.
“The hold of every foul spirit and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” (Rev_18:2)
Satan and his agents have been lodging in the branches of the Gospel Church for centuries, defiling it.
Robertson: A tree (dendron). “Not in nature, but in size” (Bruce). “An excusable exaggeration in popular discourse.”
Matthew 13:33 KJV Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Russell: Kingdom of heaven — A parable of the Kingdom in the sense that it shows one of the experiences which the Church would pass through in its present preparation for Kingdom glories.
Is like unto leaven — Yeast, sin, error, corruption.
Which a woman — An ecclesiastical system organized and in power at an early date.
“That woman Jezebel,” the Papacy. (Rev_2:20)
Three measures of meal — The pure food provided by the Lord for the household of faith. The entire testimony of God’s Word, the food for his family.
The faith once delivered to the saints; the hope set before us in the Gospel and love, the bond of perfectness.
Whole was leavened — The food of the entire household became corrupted. The entire mass of theological doctrine is putrid and offensive to all Christian people. Not a particle of it was left uncontaminated. The result has been indigestion.
Faith was distorted; hope was changed to another hope; and the spirit of the Lord, love, was perverted to a selfish love of creeds and human institutions.
Guzik: (Mat_13:33) Another illustration of corruption in the kingdom community: the parable of the leaven in the meal.
Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
a. Leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened: Some have regarded this parable as another beautiful picture of the kingdom of God working its way through the whole world. But three measures of meal was the exact amount customarily used in a grain offering to God, and leaven (which always is a picture of evil and sin in the Bible) has absolutely no place in a grain offering.
b. The idea of hiding leaven in three measures of meal would have offended any observant Jew. This certainly isn’t a picture of the church gradually influencing the whole world for good.
Gill:The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven. The word “leaven” is every where else used in a bad sense; and either designs immorality, as malice and wickedness, or false doctrine, such as that of the Pharisees and Sadducees:
Until the whole was leavened: There is a late ingenious interpretation (c) of this parable, which, since the word “leaven” is elsewhere always used in a bad sense, deserves consideration; according to which, this parable expresses not the spread of truth, but of error; by “the woman” is thought to be meant, the Apocalyptic woman, the woman spoken of in the Revelations, the whore of Rome, the mother of harlots; and the “leaven” which she took, the leaven of false doctrine and discipline; by her “hiding” it, the private, secret, artful methods, false doctrines, and bad discipline were introduced, and the gradual progress thereof; and by the “three measures of meal”, the bishops and doctors of the church, among whom this leaven was spread, and who were fermented with it; particularly those three bishops of Rome at first, Sosymus, John the faster, and Boniface the third; which by degrees spread itself, until the whole Christian world was affected with it; and for a long time lay hid and undiscovered, till the Lord raised up Wyclif, John Huss, Jerom of Prague, Luther, and other reformers.
Matthew 13:34 KJV All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:
RussellIn parables — None was ready for the depth of his teaching until after the holy Spirit of Pentecost began to give qualification.
Unto the multitude — Jesus, speaking to his disciples, used plain language; on the contrary, when he spoke to the multitudes, he always employed a parable.
Without a parable — Not a statement of literal facts, symbolic language; this was the customary way for Jesus to preach.
An understanding of spiritual things would do harm rather than good to those not spiritually begotten, to those not fully consecrated to the divine will. Part of our difficulty has been taking the words of Jesus literally when their very form should have shown us that they could not have been meant literally, but as the figures of speech we use today.
Guzik:Spake he not — None of the lessons of the Great teacher were given in literal language; they were all symbolic.
Clarke: All these things spoke Jesus – in parables – Divine things cannot be taught to man but through the medium of earthly things. If God should speak to us in that language which is peculiar to heaven, clothing those ideas which angelic minds form, how little should we comprehend of the things thus described! How great is our privilege in being thus taught! Heavenly things, in the parables of Christ, assume to themselves a body, and thus render themselves palpable.
Matthew 13:35 KJV That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.
Russell: In parables — In figures and obscure sayings. An illustration of a truth by something which is, in many respects, like it. Not yet understood by the word, neither appreciated by any except the few, his “little flock,” the consecrated.
I will utter things — Expound the hidden truths of divine prophecy. Jesus not only expounded the prophets, but he did so in parables, prophecies and dark sayings.
Guzik: I will open My mouth in parables: Another reason Jesus taught about the kingdom community in parables is because the church itself was part of the things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world, and would not be revealed in fullness until later.
b. Later, Paul expresses this same idea about the church in Eph_3:4-11.
Gill:That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet,…. Not Isaiah, as some copies in the times of Jerom read, but Asaph, who is called Asaph the seer, 2Ch_29:30 which is all one as a prophet; vision is one sort of prophecy (d); and there was such a thing as prophesying with harps, psalteries and cymbals, as well as in other ways, and with which Asaph and his sons are said to prophesy, 1Ch_25:1 so that he is very rightly called a prophet by the evangelist, who is cited, saying, Psa_78:2.
Clarke: By the prophet – As the quotation is taken from Psa_78:2, which is attributed to Asaph, he must be the prophet who is meant in the text; and, indeed, he is expressly called a prophet, 1Ch_25:2. Several MSS. have Ησαιου, Isaiah; but this is a manifest error. Jerome supposes that Asaph was first in the text, and that some ignorant transcriber, not knowing who this Asaph was, inserted the word Isaiah; and thus, by attempting to remove an imaginary error, made a real one.
JFB:That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying — (Psa_78:2, nearly as in the Septuagint).
I will open my mouth in parables, etc. — Though the Psalm seems to contain only a summary of Israelitish history, the Psalmist himself calls it “a parable,” and “dark sayings from of old” – as containing, underneath the history, truths for all time, not fully brought to light till the Gospel day.
Matthew 13:36 KJV Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.
Benson: Declare unto us the parable of the tares — They say nothing of the two other parables, because, probably, they understood them; or, perhaps, this parable affected them more than either of the others, in regard of its dreadful conclusion. Jesus readily granted their request, pleased, doubtless, that they were desirous of understanding every part of his doctrine.
Matthew 13:37 KJV He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
Matthew 13:38 KJV The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
Guzik: (Mat_13:36-43) Jesus explains the parable of the wheat and the weeds.
In His explanation, Jesus makes it clear what the different figures in the parable represent. The field represents the world, the seed represents the word, and the crop is either grain from the good seeds, or are tares – representing the sons of the wicked one.
b. Jesus explains that the kingdom community will have tares – false believers – in its midst, and that it isn’t the job of the church to weed all of these out. God will do it at the end of the age.
i. These tares appeared identical to the wheat when they were young. It was only as time went on that the difference was clear
Russell:The field — In which, during this present harvest time, the fruitage of this Gospel age must be gathered; and the work of clearing, plowing and preparing for the sowing and reaping of the Millennial age, must take place.
Is the world — The world of mankind, the civilized world, all nations. The world are neither wheat nor tares; they are simply material, as ground, in which both good and bad seed may be sown. He is not dealing with the field, the world in general, but merely with the corner of it which he has planted with the good seed.
Children of the kingdom — The spiritual children
But the tares — The imitation New Creatures, posing as Christians. The result of false doctrines, false teachings. Not begotten of the holy Spirit.
The children of The wicked one — Despite the fact that they are mainly respectable, moral, good people.
The whole world of mankind, excepting the true Christians, born in sin and shapen in iniquity, aliens and strangers from God, may be spoken of as “children of the wicked one.”
Matthew 13:39 KJV The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
Guzik:The enemy who sowed them is the devil: Clearly, the enemy plants counterfeits in the kingdom community, and this is why being a “member of the Christian community” isn’t enough.
d. As long as God’s people are still in this world (the field), there will be unbelievers among them; but it should not be because God’s people receive unbelievers as if they were believers.
Russell: That sowed them — Seeds of false doctrines, error, deception, using human lips and pens in Satan’s service through pride and ambition. And thus brought the worldly masses into the church.
Is the devil — Whose personality is here recognized in unmistakable terms.
The harvest — When the present age is closing and the new age beginning. The time of trouble coming upon the church should be recognized as the harvest, the threshing time, the time for separating the real grain from the chaff and tares.
Is the end — Is that which constitutes the end. The Greek word suntelia, translated “end,” does not mean a “point,” but a “period of time.” Just before the inauguration of the new age of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom.
The regathering of Israel is a sign of the end of this age, and therefore a sign that we are living in the harvest time.
Of the world — Of this Gospel age: Greek aion.
Are the angels — Invisible, spiritual beings, quietly separating wheat from tares.
Matthew 13:40 KJV As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
Gill: As therefore the tares are gathered,…. As it is represented in the parable, that in the time of harvest, the tares shall be gathered out from the wheat first; and being bound in bundles, shall burnt in the fire, prepared for that purpose,
Russell: Tares are gathered — Our Lord would be present at the end of the Gospel age and, as the Chief Reaper, would gather tares in bundles to be burned.
In the winter time: “Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.” (Mat_24:20)
Burned in the fire — Destroyed as tares in a time of trouble; not literally burned.
Their delusions will be dissolved.
It is not the field, the “world,” that is to be burned, but the tares. That the entire field might be cleansed and made ready for a new sowing of the pure seed.
The end of this world — End of this age.
Matthew 13:41 KJV The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
Gill: The Son of man shall send forth his angels,…. Meaning himself, whose ministers the angels are; who wait upon him, and are at his beck and command; even the thousand thousands that minister unto him; these will be sent forth by his orders, into the several parts of the world, where he has any churches, or an interest,
and they shall gather out of his kingdom: the Gospel church, over which Christ is king, where he rules and governs in the hearts of his people; and who are cheerfully and willingly obedient to his laws, under the influence of his Spirit and grace: but all who are in the visible Gospel church state, are not such; some are wicked and rebellious, and though they are suffered to continue, yet not always; for if not removed by censures and excommunications, they will be at last by angels; who will separate them from the saints:
even all things that offend; who are scandals to Christ, his church, and Gospel, by their wicked principles, or infamous practices; and who give offence, not only to God, and His righteous law, but lay stumbling blocks in the way of the children of God, and are the authors of divisions and offences among them:
and them that do iniquity; that do nothing else but iniquity; and who, though they profess to be religious persons, are secretly, or openly, workers of iniquity; and are even doing iniquity, in and whilst they are professing religion.
Russell: The Son of man — A title of high honor, a reminder of his obedience, even to the death of the cross, by which he secured title to the honor, dignity and power of the divine nature.
Shall send — Christ is superintending the harvest; he sends forth the reapers. The Lord not only sends the sickle of truth to gather the wheat, but he also sends the strong delusions to gather the tares.
His kingdom — The true Church. It is one thing to gather his people out of Babylon, and quite another to gather the offenders out of his Kingdom. Really the “tares” leave the “wheat” by utterly abandoning the faith once delivered to the saints.
Things that offend — Those that cause others to stumble, including many teachers and preachers, and many doers of wonderful works. Not only “those that do iniquity,” the “tares,” but also “those that offend,” those who fail to come up to the requirements of their covenant in fullness of consecration.
Which do iniquity — Which practice sin, or which are not fully in sympathy with the principles of righteousness.
“Do lawlessness.” (Diaglott)
The only things that shall remain are the things that cannot be shaken, the true and faithful.
Matthew 13:42 KJV And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Russell: A furnace of fire — A time of trouble destructive to the nominal systems and false professions; occasioned in great measure by the growth of infidelity and Spiritism of various kinds.
Wailing — There is such a commotion in connection with the separation of the wheat and the tares because Christendom as a whole, though nominally a wheat field, is practically a tare field.
Gnashing of teeth — Great disappointment, sorrow, pain, trouble and anguish throughout Christendom. “Men’s hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” (Luk_21:26) R3771:4 Signifying chagrin, disappointment, savage animosity: “They gnashed on him with their teeth.” (Act_7:54) The great time of trouble will make general havoc of present arrangements–social, financial, political, ecclesiastical.
Gill: And shall cast them into a furnace of fire,…. Not a material, but a metaphorical one; denoting the wrath of God.
Which is expressed in much the same language, and conveys the same ideas as here; and no wonder is it that it follows,
there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth; declaring the remorse of conscience, the tortures of mind.
Matthew 13:43 KJV Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
JFB: Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father — as if they had been under a cloud during the present association with ungodly pretenders to their character, and claimants of their privileges, and obstructors of their course.
Gill: Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun,…. “shine forth” in the robe of Christ’s righteousness, in perfect holiness of nature, in all felicity and prosperity of soul; and in the shining dazzling robes of glory, incorruption, and immortality, on their bodies; eves the sun, having no spot in them, or upon them, and without any clouds of darkness: they will be as Christ himself, the sun of righteousness, with whom, and in whose glory they shall appear.
Russell: Then — After this age and after its harvest. We are in the dawn of the glorious day. It is not yet sunrise, the shining forth of the Church; but the “Day Star,” Jesus, has arisen in our hearts.
The Lord links the fire upon the tare field with the speedy shining forth thereafter of the Sun of Righteousness. After “the wheat” of this age is gathered into the garner by the power of the first resurrection.
Shall the righteous — The Church, as a whole, in glory.
Shine forth — To refresh and bless the world by scattering the darkness of sin, superstition and evil. The manifestation, or appearing in glory; the descent of the new Jerusalem as the Bride of Christ and mother of the nations. Light, deliverance and glory to the nations will be the result.
Then shall the morning of the Millennial age be manifested to the world. Be revealed, and be seen by men with the eyes of their understanding. To heal earth’s sorrows and scatter earth’s night. To bring order out of present confusion, to scatter present darkness, ignorance and superstition, to cause the knowledge of the glory of the Lord to fill the whole earth.
“They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament [as the sun].” (Dan_12:3) “The earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the Sons of God.” (Rom_8:19)
As the sun — “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.” (Isa_9:2)
Ears to hear — The attitude of heart to appreciate it. The ability to understand spiritual things. Not everyone has the hearing ear.
Let him hear — We should not despise those who cannot hear, but rather sympathize with them and be thankful for the hearing ear which permits us to appreciate the various features of the divine plan.
Matthew 13:44 KJV Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Guzik:The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field: The field is the world, but the man does not represent the believer, because we have nothing to buy this treasure with. Instead, Jesus is the man who gave all that He had to buy the field.
And for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field: What the treasure could be so wonderful that Jesus would give all to purchase it? You! Jesus gave everything to redeem the whole world to preserve a treasure in it, and the treasure is His people.
Russell: Like unto treasure — The Church and restored humanity.
Hid in a field — “The field is the world.” (Mat_13:38)
When a man — The man Christ Jesus.
All that he hath — When our Lord had paid man’s ransom price, he had nothing left. “He poured out his soul unto death.” (Isa_53:12) He took our human nature that he might give it as a ransom for all–his human nature for our human nature. When Jesus died at Calvary all existence was at an end. After three days he received life as a new creature, but he took not again the human nature and never can do so.
The Lord’s followers are to reckon that no sacrifice is too great to attain the blessing; indeed, the Kingdom can be attained at no less cost than the surrender of all their earthly hopes and aims. To gain this treasure, we must give all–our time, our will, our property.
Buyeth that field — Realizing its value. The field belongs to God. He has put the treasure there. He offers it for sale to any willing to pay the price–the Lord and those who accept his invitation to join with him.
Our Lord’s payment of the price of justice.
Matthew 13:45 KJV Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Matthew 13:46 KJV Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Guzik: The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls: Again, Jesus is the buyer and we are the pearl that He sees as so valuable that He would happily give all to have it forever. We are as precious to Jesus as a beautiful pearl of great price.
Gill: Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man,…. This parable may be understood of Christ’s seeking, finding, and purchasing his elect: for, certain it is, that he has sought after them; which implies, that they were lost and going astray; expresses his great love to them, value for them, and desire after them; in doing which, he took much pains, and used much diligence: and certain it also is, that he finds them in redemption, and in effectual calling; and that they are to him a pearl of great price; as very precious to God, so highly esteemed of by Christ, as his portion, his inheritance, and his jewels.
He has also parted with all he had for the sake of these persons; he became poor, emptied himself of everything, even gave himself a ransom for them, and so made a purchase of them, with the price of his own blood.
the pearl of great price: who is of an unspeakable brightness and glory, of intrinsic worth and value; who is enriching to those that possess him, and precious to them that believe; and of such a price, that no valuable consideration can be given for him.
Matthew 13:47 KJV Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
Guzik: The kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet: Jesus shows that the world will remain divided right up until the end, and the Church will not reform the world, ushering in the kingdom. Instead, there will be both the wicked and the just until the end of the age.
JFB: Mat_13:47-50. The Good and Bad Fish.
The object of this brief parable is the same as that of the Tares and Wheat. But as its details are fewer, so its teaching is less rich and varied.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind — The word here rendered “net” signifies a large drag-net, which draws everything after it, suffering nothing to escape, as distinguished from a casting-net (Mar_1:16, Mar_1:18). The far-reaching efficacy of the Gospel is thus denoted. This Gospel net “gathered of every kind,” meaning every variety of character.
Matthew 13:48 KJV Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
Clarke: Instead of τα καλα the good, the Cod. Bezae, and five copies of the old Antehieronymian, or Itala version, read τα καλλιστα, the best, the very best. Every reader would naturally hope that this is not the true reading, or that it is not to be understood literally, as it seems to intimate that only the very best shall be at last saved.
Russell: And gathered — Separated, divided.
Into vessels — The special work of harvest is the gathering of the good fish into safety, rather than to catch more fish.
Cast the bad away — As unsuitable for a place in the Kingdom. Corresponds with the tares of Mat_13:30. The unsuitable fish in the net are all church members. The unprofessing world are not represented in the parable at all. They are not fit for the purpose of the present selection, undeveloped, not overcomers of the world, but are overcome by the world.
The Lord has not been fishing for all kinds of fish; he has not been seeking all kinds of people; he has been drawing especially only the elect, the saintly.
The Great Fisherman has no special use for any more or other than one kind of fish now; by and by the “abundance of the sea shall be converted.” (Isa_60:5) During Christ’s Millennial reign, these will be dealt with.
Matthew 13:49 KJV So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
Matthew 13:50 KJV And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The lesson here is the same as the wheat and the tares. The good and the bad fish are all together just as the wheat and the tares.
Again, “the reapers are the angels” and here the “angels come and sever the wicked from the Just”. These are not human agents of God here in the flesh! There is no human capable of doing this—these are just what Jesus tells us they are—angels. Jesus is not alone in his work. He has servants to do the harvesting of his Bride.
When we look at this parable we cannot say this is someone else—“This is the nominal church”—we need to look at these parables and make them personal. Not everyone in our fellowship is a “good fish”. If we look around and everyone we see is a “good fish”—then either we are very new in the Truth and God has blinded our eyes or maybe we need to look at ourselves and see if we are living up to God’s standards and will.
Russell: A furnace of fire — A time of trouble destructive to the nominal systems and false professions; occasioned in great measure by the growth of infidelity and Spiritism of various kinds.
Wailing — The saints won’t have any of this weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, because the plan of God will be so closely before them that they will rejoice because the things occurring will presage their deliverance.
Gnashing of teeth — Great disappointment, sorrow, pain, trouble and anguish throughout Christendom.
“Men’s hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” (Luk_21:26)
Signifying chagrin, disappointment, savage animosity: “They gnashed on him with their teeth.” (Act_7:54)
The great time of trouble will make general havoc of present arrangements–social, financial, political, ecclesiastical.
Matthew 13:51 KJV Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
Matthew 13:52 KJV Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
Matthew 13:52 TPT He responded, “Every scholar of the Scriptures, who is instructed in the ways of heaven’s kingdom realm, is like a wealthy home owner with his house filled with treasures both new and old. And he knows how and when to bring them out to show others.”
Guzik:They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” We wonder if the disciples really did understand Jesus here. However, Jesus did not deny their claim to understand.
Every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom: Jesus says that every one who really knows God’s word both will know the old and learn the new of the kingdom
Russell: Out of his treasure — Considering his parables as a householder would consider his reserve of food supplies from which, time to time, truths “both new and old” would be brought.
Things new and old — New things respecting the glory of the Kingdom and the work of the thousand years.
Clearer light on old things: justification, sanctification, the types of Leviticus, baptism, etc. Respecting the covenants and the atonement sacrifices.
Features of God’s plan unseen since the days of the Apostles.
Able to see the new features of his work as well as the old whenever the new features become due; not rejecting the new because they are new.
Old things that God’s people have recognized as true for centuries: note how appetizing they are to us now, how strengthening to faith, how refreshing!
The new truth must always be in harmony with the old truths.
Clarke: Every scribe – Minister of Christ: who is instructed – taught of God; in the kingdom of heaven – in the mysteries of the Gospel of Christ: out of his treasury – his granary or store-house; things new and old – a Jewish phrase for great plenty. A small degree of knowledge is not sufficient for a preacher of the Gospel. The sacred writings should be his treasure, and he should properly understand them. His knowledge does not consist in being furnished with a great variety of human learning, (though of this he should acquire as much as he can); but his knowledge consists in being well instructed in the things concerning the kingdom of heaven, and the art of conducting men thither. Again, it is not enough for a man to have these advantages in possession: he must bring them forth, and distribute them abroad. A good pastor will not, like a miser, keep these things to himself to please his fancy; nor, like a merchant, traffic with them, to enrich himself; but, like a bountiful father or householder, distribute them with a liberal through judicious hand, for the comfort and support of the whole heavenly family.
A preacher whose mind is well stored with Divine truths, and who has a sound judgment, will suit his discourses to the circumstances and states of his hearers. He who preaches the same sermon to every congregation, gives the fullest proof that, however well he may speak, he is not a scribe who is instructed in the kingdom of heaven. Some have thought that old and new things here, which imply the produce of the past and the produce of the present year, may also refer to the old and new covenants – a proper knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures, and of the doctrines of Christ as contained in the New. No man can properly understand the Old Testament but through the medium of the New, nor can the New be so forcibly or successfully applied to the conscience of a sinner as through the medium of the Old. The law is still a schoolmaster to lead men to Christ – by it is the knowledge of sin, and, without it, there can be no conviction – where it ends, the Gospel begins, as by the Gospel alone is salvation from sin.
Barnes:Bringeth forth – As occasion demands; as sickness, or calamity, or the wants of his family, or the poor require.
Treasure – The word “treasure” here means a place of deposit, not for money merely, but for anything necessary for the comfort of a family. It is the same as “treasury” or a place of “deposit.”
New and old – Things lately acquired, or things that had been laid up for a long time. So, said Christ, you, my disciples, are to be. The truth, new or old, which you have gained, keep it not laid up and hid, but bring it forth, in due season and on proper occasions, to benefit others. Every preacher should be properly instructed. Christ for three years gave instructions to the apostles; and they who preach should be able to understand the gospel, to defend it, and to communicate it to others. Human learning alone is indeed of no value to a minister; but all learning that will enable a man better to understand the Bible and communicate its truths is valuable, and should, if possible, be gained. A minister should be like the father of a family – distributing to the church as it needs; and out of his treasures bringing forth truth to confirm the feeble, to enlighten the ignorant, and to recover and guide those who are in danger of straying away.
Matthew 13:53 KJV And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.
Gill: And it came to pass that, when Jesus had finished these parables,…. Which he spoke both to the multitude from the ship, and to his disciples in the house,
he departed thence; from the house in which he was, and the city of Capernaum, where he had some time been.
Wesley: He departed thence – He crossed the lake from Capernaum: and came once more into his own country – Nazareth: but with no better success than he had had there before.
Matthew 13:54 KJV And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
Matthew 13:54 TPT When Jesus arrived in his hometown of Nazareth, he began teaching the people in the synagogue. Everyone was dazed, overwhelmed with astonishment over the depth of revelation they were hearing. They said to one another, “Where did this man get such great wisdom and miraculous powers?
Guzik: Further rejection: Jesus is rejected at His Nazareth.
- (Mat_13:53-56) The people of Nazareth are surprised that such a “normal” boy could grow up to do such spectacular things.
Gill:Insomuch that they were astonished; at the doctrines he taught, which were new and unheard of to them; and were delivered in such a graceful manner, and with so much power and authority; and also at the miracles he wrought, in confirmation of what he delivered; and said,
whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works? They knew his education, how that he had not been put to school, had never learned letters of men, or received any instructions from their learned doctors; and therefore could not imagine, how he came by such sublime and divine knowledge, and by what power he performed such wonderful things; looking upon him to be a mere man, and a very mean, and contemptible one: not knowing that he was the wisdom of God, and the power of God; which had they been acquainted with, there would have been no room, nor reason, for such questions.
Matthew 13:55 KJV Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
Benson: In Mark it is, Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary? — Although the word, ο τεκτων, rendered carpenter, may mean one that works either in wood, iron, or stone, yet it is probable that a carpenter, properly so called, is here intended. Accordingly Justin Martyr tells us that Jesus, before he entered on his public ministry, was employed in this occupation: and the ancient Christians were all of the same opinion. The Jewish canons required that all parents should teach their children some trade; and, probably, the poverty of the family engaged Christ, while he was at home with Joseph, to work at his. What an additional proof is this of the humiliation of the blessed Redeemer for our sakes!
Guzik:Is this not the carpenter’s son? Because these villagers were so familiar with Jesus as a boy, and so unaccustomed to spectacular things from him, we may conclude that Jesus must have grown up a very normal boy unlike the fantastic stories told in apocryphal books like The Infancy of Jesus.
b. His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas: Jesus plainly had many brothers and sisters; the Roman Catholic idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary is in contradiction to the plain meaning of the Bible.
Barnes: The expression recorded by Mark is a strong, perhaps decisive proof that he had himself worked at the business until he was 30 years of age. The people in the neighborhood would understand well the nature of his early employments. It is therefore almost certain that this had been his manner of life. A useful employment is always honorable. Idleness is the parent of mischief. Our Saviour, therefore, spent the greatest part of his life in honest, useful industry. Until the age of 30 he did not choose to enter on his great work; and it was proper before that time that he should set an example to the world of honorable though humble industry.
His brethren, James … – The fair interpretation of this passage is, that these were the sons and daughters of Joseph and Mary. The people in the neighborhood thought so, and spoke of them as such.
Matthew 13:56 KJV And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
Guzik: And His sisters: We know that Jesus had brothers, but now we also learn that He had sisters. Mary did not remain a virgin after she gave birth to Jesus.
Matthew 13:57 KJV And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
Matthew 13:57 TPT And the people became offended and began to turn against him. Jesus said, “There’s only one place a prophet isn’t honored—his own hometown!”
Guzik:A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, and in his own house: We often have wrong ideas about what it means to be spiritual. We often think that spiritual people will be much more “strange” than “normal.” Therefore, those closest to truly “spiritual” people see just how normal they are and sometimes think that they aren’t spiritual because they are normal.
Gill:And they were offended in him,…. It was a stumbling to them, how he came by his wisdom and power; since he had not these things from men of learning, and could not have them from his relatives: and therefore, rather than believe he had them of himself, or from God, they chose to indulge at least a suspicion, that he had them from the devil, and so were offended in him: or this offence was taken at the meanness of his birth, parentage, and education, though without reason; for if without the advantage of an education without human literature, and the instructions of men, he was able to expound the Scriptures, preach such doctrine, and deliver such words of wisdom, and confirm all this by miracles, and mighty works, they ought to have considered him … and all this, as a demonstration of it, and of his having a divine mission at least, and of his being raised up by God for extraordinary purposes,
But Jesus said unto them; being unmoved at their offence in him, and contempt of him, which was no other than what he expected:
a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house; which seems to be a proverbial speech in common use, … showing, that a prophet, or any teacher, or preacher, generally speaking, is more esteemed among strangers, who have no personal pique, nor prejudices against him, and who judge of him, not by what he has been, but by his present abilities, doctrine, and conduct, than among his countrymen; who are apt to think meanly of him, because familiarly acquainted with him, and knew, if not his vices, yet his infirmities, and envy him any superior degree of honour to them, he has attained unto.
Barnes: And they were offended in him – That is, they took offence at his humble birth, and at the indigent circumstances of his family. They were too proud to be taught by one who, in family connections, they took to be their equal or inferior. People always look with envy on those of their own rank who advance pretensions to uncommon wisdom or superior power.
A prophet is not without honour … – This seems to be a proverbial expression. Jesus advances it as a general truth. There might be some exceptions to it, but He was not an exception. Everywhere else he had been more honored than at home. There they knew his family. They had seen his humble life. They had been his companions. They were envious of his wisdom, and were too proud to be taught by him.
Matthew 13:58 KJV And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Barnes: Did not many mighty works – Miracles. This implies that he performed some miracles. Mark tells us what they were: “He laid his hands upon a few sick folk and healed them,” Mar_6:5.
Guzik:He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief: It is truly remarkable that Jesus was, in some manner, limited by their unbelief. As long as God chooses to work in concert with human agency, developing our ability to partner with Him, our unbelief will hinder the work of God.
Gill: And he did not many mighty works there,…. Some he did, though not many; partly that they might be left inexcusable, and partly that it might not be said, he did not wish well, to his own country: what he did, were not of the first class, and greatest note; he only “laid his hands”, as Mark says, Mar_6:5 “upon a few sick folk, and healed them”; and yet these were such as raised their wonder and astonishment, but did not command their faith, and were rather stumbling blocks unto them; such were their prejudices, their unbelief, and the hardness of their hearts: and the reason indeed why he did no more was,
because of their unbelief. These words in Mark are joined with this expression, “he marvelled”; showing, that their continued unbelief in him, notwithstanding his ministry and miracles among them, was matter of surprise to him; but here they are given as a reason why he did no more mighty works among them: and which Mark says he could not do, not for want of power, or as if their unbelief was too mighty for him to overcome; but he would not, because he judged them unworthy, and that it was not fit and convenient to perform any more, since they were offended with what was done; and that their condemnation might not be increased.
Mark 6:4-6 TPT Jesus said to them, “A prophet is treated with honor everywhere except in his own hometown, among his relatives, and in his own house.” 5 He was unable to do any great miracle in Nazareth, except to heal a few sick people by laying his hands upon them. 6 He was amazed at the depth of their unbelief! Then Jesus went out into the different villages and taught the people.