Seven Parables of the Kingdom.
SUMMARY.--Parable of the Sower.
Why He Spoke in Parables.
The Parable of the Sower Explained.
The Parable of the Tares.
The Mustard Seed.
The Parable of the Tares Explained.
The Hidden Treasure.
The Pearl of Great Price.
The Fish Net.
1. The same day. For parable of the Sower compare
Mark 4:1-9 and Luke 8:4-8.
By the sea-side. The sea-shore is that of the Sea of Galilee,
probably near Capernaum, at the northwest corner of the lake.
2. And there were gathered unto him great multitudes. Literally,
"greatest." There is every reason to believe that this was one of the
greatest. It was the turning-point in his public teaching, since
the parabolic instruction now begins.
3. And he spake many things to them in parables. Of which only
samples are preserved, even by Matthew, and still fewer in the other
Parables. Narratives designed to convey spiritual instruction.
The parable differs from the proverb in being a narrative, from
the fable in being true to nature, from the myth in being
undeceptive, from the allegory in that it
veils the spiritual truth.
Behold, a sower went forth to sow. It is the sower in the
original. There was grain land on every side, and the figure was
familiar to every hearer. There are no farm houses in Palestine. All
live in towns or villages. Hence, the farmers "go forth" to sow.
4. And when he sowed. The seed-time in Palestine is usually in
October, about the time when this parable was spoken. Sowing is always
done by hand.
Fell by the wayside. Where the field and the road join, or,
rather, along the narrow, trodden foot-path through the fields, so
common in Palestine.
Fowls devoured them. The birds, because the grains were not
5. Some fell upon stony places. Where the rocks that jut out of
the hills into the plain had a very thin covering of earth. Much of
Palestine is stony.
6. And when the sun was up they were scorched. It was not rooted
in that deep, moist soil which would have enabled it to resist the
scorching heat of the sun.
7. And some fell among thorns. More literally, into the
thorns. The traveler, to-day, finds Palestine literally a land of
thorns, of thistles, brambles, and thorny bushes.
Thorns grew up . . . choked them. Or, as Wycliffe renders it,
The thorns sprang up and strangled it. The thorns suffocated the
8. But others fell in good ground. The goodness of this last soil
consists in its qualities being precisely the reverse of the other
three soils. It was not hard, stony, or weedy.
Some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred. Thirty-fold is now
really a first-rate crop, even for such plains as Esdraelon, just below
Nazareth. But in the time of Christ there might be realized, in
favorable circumstances, a hundred-fold. Intelligent gentlemen (in the
plain of Esdraelon) maintain that they have themselves reaped more than
a hundred-fold.--Land and Book.
9. Let him hear. Give heed and seek to understand.
10, 11. Given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom. Truths
that the uninstructed
multitude are not yet prepared for. Every one knows that the lessons
given must be adapted to the state of the pupil. Spiritual preparation
is needful to understand the deeper spiritual truths
(1 Cor. 2:6, 11).
12. Whosoever hath. Those who have been made some spiritual
progress will go on, and have greater knowledge.
Whosoever hath not. No desire for spiritual knowledge. Such
shall become spiritually dwarfed, and lose even their capacity for
spiritual things; a truth constantly illustrated. Whoever uses his
opportunities will grow; whoever abuses them will lose them.
13. Because, seeing they see not. Do not see in the true light
on account of their spiritual ignorance and depravity. The desire to
see spiritually is essential to clear perceptions of truth.
14, 15, 16. The prophecy of Esaias.
Isaiah 6:9, 10.
Isaiah describes a spiritual state that existed in the time of Christ,
and is often met still, when, on account of hardness of heart and love
of the world, men cannot understand the gospel and be converted. It is
caused by their own fault. If they would fall out with sin, and come to
Christ with a broken and contrite spirit, they would be healed.
17. Desired to see the things which ye see. The prophets and
righteous had longed for the coming of Christ. His disciples enjoyed
18-23. Hear then the parable of the sower. In order to
understand the parable we must listen to the explanation given in
Christ is the great Sower, and all whom he sends forth to preach are
sowers under him. The seed sown is his Word, the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The soil is human hearts. Four kinds of human hearts are described: 1.
The wayside hearer; the light, flippant, indifferent hearer upon
whom no impression is produced. 2. The stony hearer; the heart
that exhibits an evanescent feeling at the appeal of the gospel; but
upon whom no permanent impression is made. 3. The thorny soil;
the heart that takes in the Word, but is so full of worldly cares that
these presently gain the mastery. This describes the world-serving
hearer. 4. The good soil; the good and honest heart; the heart
that receives and retains the truth. In such a heart the seed will grow
and the new life will be manifest. Three things, then, are needful:
1. A Sower. 2. Good Seed, the pure word of God. 3. A good and
honest heart. A dishonest man cannot be converted until he casts
out his dishonesty. He who cavils at and deceitfully entreats the word
of God will not be profited.
24. The kingdom of heaven is likened. The object of all parables in
this connection is to explain various features and principles of the
kingdom of heaven.
Unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. It is important
to note what the kingdom of heaven is likened to. It is not to the
field in which the tares and wheat were both sown, nor to the
enemy who sowed the tares, but to
the man who sowed the good seed. The kingdom does what the Sower
is represented as doing. It sows the good seed.
Good seed. It is declared in
that the seed is the "word of the kingdom," and in
that the "good seed" are "the children of the kingdom." These are those
in whose hearts the good seed has fallen, and their new lives, as
children of the kingdom, are the fruit of the good seed.
In his field. The controversy has turned upon what the Savior
represents by the field. 1. It is not the kingdom, or church, for this
is represented by "the man that sowed good seed in his field." 2. It
is the place where the good seed is sown by the Son of man, or through
his agency; in other words, the place where the gospel is preached to
states emphatically that the field is the world.
25. But while men slept. During sleep is the time of the
His enemy came and sowed. It is by no means uncommon for the
malice in the East to show itself in this way. A wicked person may do
great injury with little chance of detection.
Tares. The tare or darnel is, like our chess or cheat, a kind of
bastard wheat, looking like wheat.
26, 27. Whence come the tares? When the harvest was near at hand
the difference was seen.
28. An enemy hath done this. The great enemy, the prince of the
world, who sows evil seed in
Wilt thou that we go and gather them up? It has been assumed by
one class of interpreters that this a question whether discipline shall
be administered upon recreant church members. If the field in
which the tares are growing with the wheat is "the world," then it
refers to something quite different.
29. Nay; lest . . . ye root up the wheat also with them. The
roots of the wheat and tares were often so intertwined that one could
not be pulled up without the other.
30. Let both grow together until the harvest. The time of
separation will come at last. The righteous shall not always be vexed
by the presence and deeds of evil doers. Harvest time will come, and
that is the time of separation. The tares, ripened and manifest, can
easily be sifted out from the wheat. For the application of the parable
see note on
31. Like a grain of mustard seed. Compare
The Jews grew mustard in their gardens. Its round seed was previously
spoken of as the smallest thing, as it was the smallest seed
32. Which, indeed, is the least of all seeds. The least of all the
field or garden seeds sown in Palestine.
But when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs. All herbs
cultivated in the fields or garden of Palestine. Dr. Hooker measured a
mustard-plant in the Jordan Valley ten feet high. Thus, the kingdom,
from an insignificant beginning, grows to a mighty magnitude.
33. The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven. In those days a
piece of the leavened dough from an unbaked loaf was put among the new
dough to cause fermentation.
Three measures of meal. The usual amount for one baking, an
Judges 6:19; 1 Sam. 1:24).
The leaven is taken from without and "hid" in the meal, or flour. The
hidden leaven, though only a small quantity, imparts its qualities to
the large mass, till all was leavened. The Parable teaches that
the Gospel is the leavening influence of the world.
34, 35. Without a parable spake he not. On that occasion. His whole
discourse to the multitude was made up of parables.
Which was spoken by the prophet.
36-43. Declare unto us the tares of the field. The parable in
above. By a comparison we may learn: 1. The kingdom is likened to a man
sowing good seed in his field. 2. The Sower is the Son of man, who sows
by means of his kingdom. 3. The good seed is the word of God as seen in
its fruits, Christ's followers. 4. The field is the world. It is
Christ's field. All power is given to him in heaven and in earth.
His kingdom is rightfully the whole earth, but much of it is held still
by the enemy, who has to be conquered. He will prevail finally, and the
kingdoms of the earth shall become the kingdom of the Lord and his
Christ. 5. The wheat raised from the good seed is the "children of the
kingdom," the disciples of Christ converted by his word. 6. The tares
are not bad church members, but bad men; those who have been under the
influence of the wicked one. 7. The righteous and wicked are to
remain in the earth together. The righteous are not to exterminate the
wicked. The evil and the good will be mixed until judgment day. 8.
Then all shall be gathered at the throne of judgment. The righteous
shall "inherit the kingdom." All that are wicked shall be cast out of
the kingdom. An eternal separation shall take place.
44. The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hidden in the
field. Valuables which, with us, are entrusted to banks, are in the
East buried in fields and gardens to save them from robbers and
accidents. This parable teaches the immense value, priceless, of the
gospel; and that one who finds out that value will give up everything
else in order to possess himself of the privileges and hopes of the
45. A merchantman seeking goodly pearls. Pearls were then
esteemed as the most valuable ornaments, and were sought by merchants
on distant shores, the most valuable being brought from the Indian
46. Having found one pearl of great price. He was willing to
invest everything he had in this pearl of surpassing beauty and
47. The kingdom of heaven is like a net. The Savior's
illustrations all come home to his audience. Many were husbandmen; many
were women familiar with the culinary art; some were merchants; many
were fishermen. A drag net or seine is meant.
Gathered every kind. Here again, as in the parable of the
Tares, it is taught that, at the end of the world, the angels shall
sever the wicked from the just.
48. When it was filled. The fishermen cannot stop to sort while
they are drawing the net. Nor can the preachers of the gospel always
49. So shall it be at the end of the world. Then, not men, but
the angels, under the direction of the Son of Man, shall sever the
wicked from the just.
50. Shall cast them into the furnace of fire. Here is repeated,
word for word, the language of
The tares, the chaff, the corrupt trees, the barren tree, are all
represented as burned, and here also the wicked are cast into a
furnace. While I suppose that the language is a figure, it can only be
understood as indicating that the sufferings of Gehenna, the abode of
the wicked, are intense. See
51, 52. Every scribe instructed unto the kingdom. Such will be able
to furnish rich and suitable spiritual food. Scribes were theological
53, 54. When he was come to his own country. To Nazareth, where
he was brought up. Compare
Mark 6:1-6 and Luke 4:14-29.
He taught them in the synagogue. On the Sabbath day
Whence hath this man this wisdom? While admitting it, they
were offended at it
55. Is not this the carpenter's son? Joseph. Jesus was a
mother called Mary? She is named, Joseph is indicated by his
His brethren, James and Joses, Simon and Judas? Sons of Joseph
and Mary. For a full discussion of their relationship,
see note on
57. And they were offended in him. Made to stumble. Led into
error. They could not see how one so humble, and of so humble a
family, could be so great a teacher.
Jesus said, A prophet, etc. A proverb that is quoted and
58. Wrought not many mighty works, etc. Faith was the usual
condition of his miracles. Where there is persistent, obstinate
unbelief, Christ works no mighty moral works now.