PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|The Parable of the Sower||The Parable of the Sower||Teaching in Parables||The Parable of the Sower||Introduction|
|Parable of the Sower|
|The Purpose of the Parables||The Purpose of Parables||The Purpose of the Parables||Why Jesus Speaks in Parables|
|The Parable of the Sower Explained||The Parable of the Sower Explained||Jesus Explains the Parable of the Sower||The Parable of the Sower Explained|
|The Parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat||The Parable of the Wheat and Tares||Weeds in the Wheat||The Parable of the Weeds||Parable of the Darnel|
|The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven||The Parable of the Mustard Seed||The Mustard Seed||The Parable of the Mustard Seed||Parable of the Mustard Seed|
|The Parable of the Leaven||Yeast||The Parable of the Yeast||Parable of the Yeast|
|The Use of Parables||Prophecy and Parables||Jesus' Use of Parables||The People are Taught Only in Parables|
|The Parables of the Weeds Explained||The Parable of the Tares Explained||Jesus Explains the Parable of the Weeds||The Parable of the Darnel Explained|
|Three Parables||The Parables of Hidden Treasure||Hidden Treasure||The Parable of the Hidden Treasure||Parable of the Treasure and of the Pearl|
|The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price||The Pearl of Great Value||The Parable of the Pearl|
|The Parable of the Dragnet||The Dragnet||The Parable of the Net||Parable of the Dragnet|
|The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth||Jesus Rejected at Nazareth||Rejection at Home||Jesus Rejected at Nazareth||A Visit to Nazareth|
READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
BACKGROUND TO MATTHEW 13:1-58
A. The understanding of parables was and is related to a prior faith commitment. Even the Apostles did not initially understand Jesus' teachings (i.e., Mark 4:13,40; 6:52; 7:18; 8:17,21,33; 9:10,32). In some ways understanding is dependent upon
2. the illuminating power of the Spirit
3. a willingness to repent and believe (i.e., Isa. 6:9-10; 30:6)
Understanding involves a divine empowering and a human faith response!
B. " Parable" is a compound word in Greek meaning "to throw alongside." Common occurrences were used to illustrate spiritual truths. However it must be remembered that to these Jewish writers this Greek word reflected the Hebrew mashal which meant "riddle" or "proverb," in wisdom literature terminology. The parables form types of literary relationships similar to the parallelism of Hebrew poetry.
1. parables that illustrate similarity
2. parables that illustrate contrasts
3. parables that build to certain types of climatic statements of truth
It is crucial to determine the type of contrast/similarity climax that the parable is intended to illustrate. To miss this is to misinterpret the parable's intended purpose. One must be willing to rethink issues and expected outcomes in light of the surprising nature of the mashal.
C. Some of the parables in Matthew 13 form doubles. The same central truths are repeated with different examples.
1. The Tares and the Dragnet
2. Mustard Seed and Leaven
3. Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price
It is possible that Matt. 13:51-52 form an eighth parable.
D. The parables of Matthew 13 are paralleled in the other Synoptic Gospels.
Matt. 13:1-9, 18-23
Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43
Mark 4:1-9, 13-20
Luke 8:4-8, 11-15
E. Of the seven parables in Matthew 13, the sower/soils and the mustard seed are both in Mark and Luke while the parable about leaven is repeated in Luke only. As Matthew gathered the teachings of Jesus into the long sermon of Matthew 5-7, so too he gathered the parables of Jesus into one context.
F. It is possible that Matthew structured his Gospel so that the faith response to Jesus' preaching and teaching was mixed (Matthew 8-12). Some responded but some did not. If Jesus was God's Messiah, why did not all respond? This is the question that this series of parables answers.
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 13:1-2
1That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.
NKJV"on the same day"
NJB" that same day"
This is not meant to be a temporal marker in this context, but a transition technique. An example of it as a temporal marker is 22:23; Mark 4:35.
▣ "was sitting by the sea" Sitting was the official teaching position of a rabbi (cf. Matt. 13:2; 15:29; 24:3; 26:55; Luke 4:20; Acts 13:14). They stood to read the Scripture (cf. Luke 4:16). This position and place suggest a teaching session. The sea acted as a natural amphitheater.
13:2 "so He got into a boat and sat down" A boat was usually available when Jesus taught because of the press of the crowd (cf. Luke 5:1-3; Mark 3:9).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 13:3-9
3And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, "Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9He who has ears, let him hear."
13:3 "the sower went out to sow" This parable (Matt. 13:3-9) is extremely important because Jesus Himself gave interprets it. The seed, the sower, the soils, and the harvest are all significant in Jesus' interpretation of the parable (Matt. 13:18-23).
It is somewhat allegorical or at least typological. Allegory seeks a hidden, deeper level of meaning in a text. It imports meaning into the text that has no relation at all to the intended meaning of the original author or his day or even the thrust of Scripture as a whole. Typology, on the other hand, seeks to focus on the unity of the Bible, based on one divine Author and one divine Plan. Similarities in the OT pre-figure NT truths. These similarities rise naturally out of a reading of the entire Bible (cf. Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:6, 11).
13:4-7 "the road. . .the rocky places. . .thorns" Usually the village farmers worked together and plowed the entire field around their homes. In this field were footpaths, some shallow ground and some places where thorn bushes had established themselves. All of the field had been plowed. The sowers scattered the seed indiscriminately in this large plowed field.
13:8 "And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty" The plants bearing of fruit, not the precise amount, is the focal point. We must be careful not to identify germination with salvation! John 8:31 says "those Jews who had believed Him," yet later in the context it is obvious they are not saved (i.e., John 8:59). The Bible differentiates between an initial emotional response and a life changing permanent discipleship. In this parable germination referred to the first, and fruit-bearing to the second.
13:9 See note at Matt. 11:15.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 13:10-17
10And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" 11Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,
'You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.'
16But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it."
13:10-13 Proper interpretation of Jesus' parables involves a faith commitment on the part of the hearer as well as the illuminating power of the Spirit. Parables demand a response! This response combines the power of God and the free will of the believing hearer. See introductory notes at the beginning of this chapter.
13:11 "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" Jesus uses this term for the New Age (cf. Matthew 5-7) with its new way of viewing reality. These mysteries are about Him and His New Kingdom. This term is used to describe God's eternal redemptive plan that is only now being revealed by God's Messiah (cf. Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28; Eph. 1:11; 1 Pet. 1:12). Every hearer does not understand (cf. Matt. 13:13,16-17,19,23; Mark 4:11-12).
13:12 The Jewish leadership, with their scriptural knowledge, should have recognized and embraced Jesus and His teachings, but they did not. Therefore, those who could have/should have are more responsible (cf. Luke 12:48). Their partial knowledge results in complete judgment (similar to 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
13:14-15 "the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled" This is a quote from the Septuagint (LXX). This related to Isaiah's call and mission. God told him that he would speak, but the people would not hear and respond (cf. Isa. 6:9-10). This same OT passage is quoted in John. 12:40 and Acts 28:25-27. To those who have faith, God will progressively reveal more truth as they walk in the light they have, but to those without faith the Scriptures are dark and silent! Parables open truth to those who will hear but veils truth to those who refuse faith in Christ. See F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions, pp. 176-177.
▣ "heart" See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART at Matt. 5:8.
13:16 Compare this with Mark 4:13.
13:17 "Truly" See Special Topic at Matt. 5:18.
▣ "many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it" NT believers know more of God's eternal redemptive plan and purpose for all humans than did any of the OT characters (1 Pet. 1:10-12). This gives us an awesome responsibility!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 13:18-23
18"Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."
13:18-23 Jesus' interpretation of this parable was given to the disciples privately.
13:19 "the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart" In the parallel in Mark 4:15 he is called Satan (see Special Topic at Matt. 4:5). 2 Corinthians 4:4 describes his work among men. It is surprising that the evil one appears so often in these parables (cf. Matt. 13:25, 28, 39). Jesus asserted the presence of a personal force of evil who is out to thwart God's will for both nations and individuals. There is a veiled reference in these parables to the three enemies of man: (1) Satan (cf. Matt. 13:19; Eph. 2:2); (2) the world system (cf. Matt. 13:22; Eph. 2:2); and (3) mankind's fallen nature (cf. Eph. 2:3).
13:20 "the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy" This was obviously a superficial response to Jesus and His message as the context shows. True salvation is an initial response of repentance and faith followed by an ongoing response of repentance and faith. There are many in the visible Church who use Christian words, attend Christian meetings, and read the Christian Bible, but do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (cf. Matt. 7:21-23; 2 Peter 2).
13:21-22 "but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away" Christlikeness in attitude and lifestyle is evidence of a valid profession (cf. the books of 1 John. and James). An initial response, even when exuberant, is not always permanent or valid. See SPECIAL TOPIC: APOSTASY (APHISTĒMI) at Matt. 7:21.
The NT speaks often of those who heard having turned way.
1. no root, Matt. 13:21; Mark 4:17; Luke 8:13
2. fall away, Matt. 24:10
3. do not abide, John 15:6
4. gone astray, 1 Tim. 1:9; 6:21; 2 Tim. 2:18
5. shipwreck, 1 Tim. 1:19
6. fall away, 1 Tim. 4:1
7. apostasy, 2 Thess. 2:3
8. falling away, Heb. 3:12
9. fall away, Heb. 6:6
10. turn away, 2 Pet. 2:20-22
Christianity is a relationship which must be maintained! It involves an initial response (i.e., John 1:12; Rom. 4), a continuing response (James and 1 John), and a faithful conclusion (Heb. 11)!
13:22 "deceitfulness of wealth" See Special Topic: Wealth at Matt. 6:24.
13:23 "it becomes unfruitful" Bearing fruit is the evidence of genuine conversion and not just an emotional initial decision! Christianity is not one high moment but a life of discipleship.
Manfred T. Brauch, Abusing Scripture: the Consequences of Misreading the Bible, p. 106, has an interesting comment.
" In warning against false prophets, Jesus taught that they would be known by the fruit they bore (Mt. 7:15-16). That is, our character, our deepest values and beliefs, are ultimately revealed in the life that we live (Mt. 7:17-20; Lk. 6:43-45). Therefore, participation in the sphere of God's reign is neither guaranteed nor secured by the confession of Jesus as Lord; rather, only those who embody God's will in their lives are children of the kingdom (Mt. 7:21; Lk. 6:46-48). In his interpretation of the parable of the sower (Mt. 13:18-23; Mk. 4:13-29; Lk. 8:11-15), Jesus asserted that neither the hearing nor the receiving of "the word of the kingdom" is sufficient. Only those who bear the fruit of its presence in their lives are revealed as those who truly grasp its deepest significance (Mt. 13:23), accept it (Mk. 4:20) and "hold it fast in an honest and good heart" (Lk 8:15)."
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 13:24-30
24Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 26But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 27The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?'28And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!'The slaves said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?'29But he said, 'No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn." '"
13:24-30 The parable of the wild wheat is unique to Matthew (cf. Matt. 36-43). Here is an interesting paragraph from New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (NIDOTTE), vol. 1, p. 299.
"The idea of the invisible church is found in Augustine, City of God; Wycliffe, De ecclesia; Luther, Preface to Revelation; Calvin, Institutes IV 1 7; and many other writers (see edition of Calvin's Institutes, ed. J. T. McNeill, 1960, II 1022). The thought that is uppermost is not to minimize the importance of church membership, but to recognize the possibility of hypocrisy and deceit. In the last analysis, those who belong to God are visible to God alone. Membership of the true church is a fact which is not visible to man. The idea recalls the statement of 2 Tim. 2:19; 'The Lord knows who are his.'It extends to the church what Paul says of Israel, that they are not all Israel who belong to Israel, but only "the children of promise" (Rom. 9:6 f.). It recognizes the danger, which church members are warned against, of reaping corruption through sowing to the flesh (Gal. 3:7; cf. Rom. 8:12 f.). Paul recognized the need for discipline in his own life lest he should become a castaway (1 Cor. 10:27; cf. Phil. 2:12, 19). The possibility of church members falling away is one of great themes of Hebrews (cf. Heb. 2:3; 3:7-4:14; 6:1-12; 10:26-39; 12:12-28). It is also suggested by the parables of the weeds (Matt. 13:24-43) and the sheep and goats (Matt. 25:31-46) and the example of Judas (Matt. 10:4; 26:14, 25, 47 ff.; 27:3; Mk. 14:10, 43; Lk. 6:16; 22:3, 47; Jn. 13:2; 17:12; 18:22 ff.; Acts 1:17 ff., 25)."
These warnings do not jeopardize security, but give a balance to excessive confidence in an initial decision and ignores the mandate of discipleship and perseverance.
13:25 "the enemy" In this context the characterization refers to
1. Satan, Luke 10:19
2. false teachers, Matthew 7; 2 Peter 2
Anyone who distorts the gospel of the Kingdom. Only the grace of God can help believers understand the truth (cf. Matt. 13:13,16-17,23) and resist error.
▣ "the tares" Wild wheat (darnel) and domestic wheat looked exactly alike until they bore fruit. The wild seed had a dark grain, while edible wheat had a light brown grain.
13:27 "Sir" This is an example of the term kurios (Lord) used as a polite address. Remember context, context, context, not a dictionary or lexicon, determines word meaning. Dictionaries list only the way the word has been used in known literature or speech in a given language/culture.
13:29 "for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them" The context seems to relate this to the religious leaders of Jesus' day. There is no way for humans to know the hearts of other humans. God will set all things straight on Judgment Day. One of Satan's most effective schemes is religion. People seem to be spiritual but they are not (i.e., Matt. 7:21-23). The wheat and tares look alike, but time reveals the difference. Many people are fooled by religiosity (cf. Isa. 29:13; Col. 2:16-23) masquerading as true spirituality (cf. Matthew 7)!
13:30 "gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn" Ultimate destiny is related to what humans do with the message of Jesus Christ and the person of Jesus Christ (cf. Matt. 13:42, 50). It is interesting to note that it is Jesus who emphasizes the awesome, eternal consequences of rejecting personal faith in Himself.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 13:31-32
31He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 32and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."
13:31-32 The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast and verses 31-33, are parallel. They are repeated in Mark 4:30-32 and Luke 13:18-19. Those who respond to the gospel seem small and insignificant, but they are part of a spiritual kingdom which will ultimately fill the earth.
13:32 "so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches" The capitalization in the NASB assumes this is a quote from Daniel (4:11-12). This would make the phrase a way of asserting how large the mustard seed plant became, here a symbol for the extent of the Messianic kingdom of the eschaton.
This Greek term saton translated the Hebrew unit of measurement seah. It's exact volume is uncertain, but it was a large amount (parallel to the large tree).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 13:33
33He spoke another parable to them, "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."
13:33 "leaven" In the OT yeast was often a symbol of evil, but here it was an obvious symbol of the pervasiveness and growth of the Kingdom of God. Be careful of attaching one definition or connotation to a word, regardless of its context. Context determines meaning! See Special Topic at Matt. 16:6.
▣ "hid" In context this refers to the mixing process. It describes the hiddenness of the kingdom.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 13:34-35
34All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable. 35This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
"I will open My mouth in parables;
I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world."
13:35 "This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet" This is a quote from Ps. 78:2.
Several ancient Greek manuscripts including the original copier of א and the Greek manuscripts used by Eusebius and Jerome have "through Isaiah the prophet." It has been speculated that the original text had "through Asaph" to whom Psalm 78 is attributed in the Masoretic Text. There is no Greek text, however, which has this name. An early scribe either (1) did not recognize this Levitical Temple choir leader and changed the name to "Isaiah" or (2) thought the reference from Matt. 13:14-15 somehow continued.
The Jews believed that all writers of inspired Scriptures were "prophets." The vast majority of ancient Greek manuscripts do not have the name "Isaiah" in the text.
▣ "the foundation of the world" The GENITIVE phrase "of the world" is not found in Uncial manuscripts אi1 and B, as well as some Old Latin and Syriac manuscripts and the Greek texts used by Origen and Jerome. The full phrase does occur in Matt. 25:34 and many Uncial Greek manuscripts (i.e., אi2, א*, C, D, L, W. The UBS4 committee decided to include "Kosmou," but in brackets, with a "C" rating (i.e., difficulty in deciding).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 13:36-43
36Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field." 37And He said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear."
13:36-43 This was Jesus' interpretation of the parable of Matt. 13:24-30 given in private to the disciples.
13:37 "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man" These parables relate to both Jesus as God's Messiah, who brings life and truth, and the gospel message as the content of that truth. God's truth is both a person (sower) and a message (seed).
13:38 "the field is the world" This is a key for understanding these parables. It is not the Church but the world (cf. Matt. 13:47). Only the parable of the sower seems to deal with those who have heard the gospel message and even then it could refer to (1) Palestine of Jesus' day or (2) the places where the gospel was preached (i.e., the world, cf. Matt. 28:19; Luke 24:46; Acts 1:8).
▣ "the sons of the kingdom. . .the sons of the evil one"
13:39,40 "the end of the age" This is an eschatological setting. The kingdom is both "already" but "not yet," as is judgment.
▣ "fire" See Special Topic at Matt. 3:12.
13:41 This is a partial quote from Zechariah 1:3. Notice that in this verse the Kingdom is called "His kingdom." There are several places where the kingdom is attributed to the Son (cf. Matt. 16:28; Luke 22:30; 23:42; John 18:36; 2 Tim. 4:1,18). There are also several places where the kingdom is attributed to both the Father and the Son (cf. Matt. 13:43; Eph. 5:5; Rev. 11:15).
The kingdom of the Son is not temporal (John 18:36), but eternal (cf. Dan. 7:14; Luke 1:33; 2 Tim. 4:18; 2 Pet. 1:11). See Frank Stagg, New Testament Theology, pp. 164-165.
13:42 See note at Matt. 8:12. See Special Topic: Where Are the Dead? at Matt. 5:22.
13:43 "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" This was similar to the statements of Dan. 12:3.
▣ "He who has ears, let him hear" Those whom God has allowed to understand the gospel must respond to it now! This cryptic phrase occurs many times in the NT (cf. Matt. 11:15; 13:9,43; Mark 4:9,23; Luke 8:8; 14:35; Rev. 2:7,11,29; 3:6,13,22; 13:9). These parables strike a note of urgency in the immediate need to hear, trust and respond to Him, and respond now!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 13:44
44"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."
13:44 "the kingdom of heaven" See Matt. 13:45,47,52. This phrase was equivalent to "the kingdom of God" in Mark and Luke. Matthew, in writing to the Jews, did not use God's name but circumlocution, " heaven." This parable is unique to Matthew.
▣ "hidden in the field" Burying valuables in the ground to protect them was a common practice in the Ancient Near East. There were no banks.
▣ "sells all. . .buys the field" This shows the radical nature of discipleship. Knowing Jesus is worth everything! The paradox is (1) a free salvation comes by God's grace alone and is therefore absolutely free (cf. Rom. 3:24; 5:15; 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9), but (2) it costs the disciple everything (cf. Matt. 10:34-39; 13:44,46).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 13:45-46
45"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it."
13:45-46 The parable of the pearl of great price is unique to Matthew.
13:45 "pearls" Pearls were costly in the ancient world and equally valued with gold as a medium of exchange.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 13:47-50
47"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; 48and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. 49So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
13:47-50 The parable of the dragnet is unique to Matthew. Its meaning is similar to the parable of the tares, which is that there will be an end-time separation of the believers and unbelievers (cf. Matt. 25:31-46).
13:48 This verse describes the end time division of people based on their response to Jesus and the gospel (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-15).
13:49 "at the end of the age" The Jews viewed reality as two ages: the current evil age and the age to come (see Special Topic at Matt. 12:31). They believed that God would empower a human leader to inaugurate the new age by force. From the New Testament we now know these ages have overlapped, from Incarnation at Bethlehem to the Second Coming. This verse speaks of eschatological judgment (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; Revelation 20).
13:50 "and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" See Matt. 13:30, 42, 50; 8:12; 25:31ff. Jesus often spoke of Hell!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 13:51-52
51"Have you understood all these things?" They said to Him, "Yes." 52And Jesus said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old."
13:52 "every scribe who has become a disciple" A scribe was a legal expert in the oral and written Law (see Special Topic at Matt. 12:38). A believing scribe will be able to draw truths from the Old Testament as well as see the fulfillments in Jesus' teachings (cf. Rom. 4:23-24; 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:6,11; 2 Tim. 3:16). It is possible Matthew is characterizing himself!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 13:53-58
53When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. 54He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter's son? 55Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" 57And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household." 58And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
13:53 "parables" This was a compound word in Greek which meant "to throw alongside." Common occurrences were used to illustrate spiritual truths. However, it must be remembered that to these Jewish writers this Greek word (parabola) reflected the Hebrew mashal, which meant "riddle" or "proverb." One must be willing to rethink issues and expected outcomes in light of the surprising nature of the mashal. There are two paradoxical reasons given for the use of parables in Jesus' teaching ministry: (1) to communicate clearly spiritual truths to those who exercised faith in Him and (2) to hide spiritual truths from those who do not have faith in Him.
13:54 "He came to His hometown" A similar account is mentioned in Luke 4:16-30. There has been much discussion among commentators as to whether this is the same visit or a second visit. There are several accounts in Jesus' ministry that are very similar (cf. John. 2:13-22 versus Matt. 21:12-16; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-47), but scholars must be careful, based on their western literary presuppositions, not to assume they are the same event. There may well have been two cleansings of the Temple, for example, and Luke's account may refer to another incident.
▣ "began teaching them in their synagogue" It was Jesus' habit to attend regular Sabbath worship. Jesus learned the OT during His days in the synagogue school at Nazareth. The synagogue was a Jewish institution which developed during the Babylonian exile for the purpose of (1) training children, (2) worship, (3) ministering to the Jewish community, and (4) retaining the Jews'unique culture while in exile by emphasizing study of the Law and the traditions of the fathers.
▣ "they were astonished" They were incredulous, not only by the tremendous insight of His teaching, but also by the authority of His teaching. The scribes taught in the authority of earlier famous rabbis; Jesus taught in His own authority (cf. Matt. 7:28-29).
▣ "where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers" The source of Jesus' power was much debated. He was an officially untrained local boy. The Jews even accused Him of being in league with the evil one. For them His action against the oral law was "the unpardonable sin." For those in Nazareth it was hard to believe that a local boy was the Messiah, Deity Incarnate.
13:55,56 "Is not this the carpenter's son" There are three questions in these two verses; all three expect a "yes" answer.
Carpenter was used in the sense of craftsman. It could have referred to a craftsman of stone, metal or wood. The English term " architect" comes from this Greek term. These questions by the townspeople of Jesus' hometown imply that Jesus had a normal childhood (cf. Luke 2:40,52).
13:55 "His brothers" The men listed
1. James, who became the leader of the Jerusalem church and wrote the book of James.
2. Joseph, he is called Jose in Mark 6:3 and a few later Greek manuscripts. We know nothing else about him.
3. Simon, we know nothing else about him.
4. Judas, he is also called Jude and wrote the NT book of Jude.
▣ "His brothers. . .His sisters" These are later children by Mary and Joseph (cf. Matt. 1:25; 12:46; Mark 6:3) or possibly children from Joseph's previous marriage (which is not recorded anywhere in Scripture), so option #1 is best (see F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions, pp. 47 and 174).
13:57 "they took offense at Him" He is the rock of offense and a stone of stumbling. The stone which the builders have rejected has become the head of the corner (cf. Matt. 11:6; Isa. 8:14; 28:16; Jer. 6:21).
▣ "a prophet" This was a common proverb. That which is familiar loses its significance. See Special Topic at Matt. 11:9.
13:58 "He did not do many miracles there" God has always chosen for believers to cooperate in matters which relate to Him (covenant). It is not that Jesus could not, He chose not to. We learn from Luke 4:28-29 that they tried to kill Him because of His statements.
This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.
1. List the central truth of each of these parables in your own words. Is there a unifying theme in this chapter?
2. How does one balance a free salvation with one that costs everything?
3. Is hell as biblical a doctrine as heaven?
4. How was Jesus' teaching style different from the rabbis'?
5. Why did Nazareth reject Him?
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