Derived from a Greek word, which signifies, to compare things together, to form a parallel or similitude of them with other things.
What we call the Proverbs of Solomon, which are moral maxims and sentences, the Greeks call the Parables of Solomon. In like manner, when Job answers his friends, it is said he took up his "parable," Job 27:1 29:1. In the New Testament the word parable denotes sometimes a true history, or an illustrative sketch from nature; sometimes a proverb or adage, Luke 4:23; a truth darkly or figuratively expressed, Matthew 15:15; a type, Hebrews 9:9; or a similitude, Matthew 24:32. The parabolical, enigmatical, figurative, and sententious way of speaking, was the language of the Eastern sages and learned men, Psalms 49:4 78:2; and nothing was more insupportable than to hear a fool utter parables, Proverbs 26:7.
The prophets employed parables the more strongly to impress prince and people with their threatening or their promises. Nathan reproved David under the parable of a rich man who had taken away and killed the lamb of a poor man, 2 Samuel 12:1-31. See also Judges 9:7-15 2 Kings 14:9-10. Our Savior frequently addressed the people in parables, thereby verifying the prophecy of Isaiah 6:9, that the people should see without knowing, and hear without understanding, in the midst of instructions. This result, however, only proved how inveterate were their hardness of heart and blindness of mind; for in no other way could he have offered them instruction more invitingly, clearly, or forcibly, than by this beautiful and familiar mode. The Hebrew writers made great use of it; and not only the Jews, but the Arabs, Syrians, and all the nations of the east were and still are admirers of this form of discourse.
In the interpretation of a parable, its primary truth and main scope are chiefly to be considered. The minute particulars are less to be regarded than in a sustained allegory; and serious errors are occasioned by pressing every detail, and inventing for it some spiritual analogy.
The following parables of our Lord are recorded by the evangelists.
Wise and foolish builders, Matthew 7:24-27.
Children of the bride-chamber, Matthew 9:15.
New cloth and old garment, Matthew 9:16.
New wine and old bottles, Matthew 9:17.
Unclean spirit, Matthew 12:43.
Sower, Matthew 13:3,18 Luke 8:5,11.
Tares, Matthew 13:24-30,36-43.
Mustard-seed, Matthew 13:31-32 Luke 13:19.
Leaven, Matthew 13:33.
Treasure hid in a field, Matthew 13:44.
Pearl of great price, Matthew 13:45-46.
Net cast into the sea, Matthew 13:47-50.
Meats defiling not, Matthew 15:10-15.
Unmerciful servant, Matthew 18:23-35.
Laborers hired, Matthew 20:1-16.
Two sons, Matthew 21:28-32.
Wicked husbandmen, Matthew 21:33-45.
Marriage-feast, Matthew 22:2-14.
Fig tree leafing, Matthew 24:32-34.
Man of the house watching, Matthew 24:43.
Faithful and evil servants, Matthew 24:45-51.
Ten virgins, Matthew 25:1-13.
Talents, Matthew 25:14-30.
Kingdom divided against itself, Mark 3:24.
House divided against itself, Mark 3:25.
Strongman armed, Mark 3:27 Luke 11:21.
Seed growing secretly, Mark 4:26-29.
Lighted candle, Mark 4:21 Luke 11:33-36.
Man taking a far journey, Mark 13:34-37.
Blind leading the blind, Luke 6:39.
Beam and mote, Luke 6:41-42.
Tree and its fruit, Luke 6:43-45.
Creditor and debtors, Luke 7:41-47.
Good Samaritan, Luke 10:30-37.
Importunate friend, Luke 11:5-9.
Rich fool, Luke 12:16-21.
Cloud and wind, Luke 12:54-57.
Barren fig tree, Luke 13:6-9.
Men bidden to a feast, Luke 14:7-11.
Builder of a tower, Luke 14:28-30,33.
King going to war, Luke 14:31-33.
Savor of salt, Luke 14:34-35.
Lost sheep, Luke 15:3-7.
Lost piece of silver, Luke 15:8-10.
Prodigal son, Luke 15:11-32.
Unjust steward, Luke 16:1-8.
Rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31.
Importunate widow, Luke 18:1-8.
Pharisee and publican, Luke 18:9-14.
Pounds, Luke 19:12-27.
Good shepherd, John 10:1-6.
Vine and branches, John 15:1-5.