Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
Attention!
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Matthew 13

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verse 1

The same day went Jesus out of the house and sat by the sea side.

The same day went Jesus out of the house: The parables of this chapter occur the same day as the events recorded in Matthew 12:22-50. This is what Robertson and others call "the Busy Day." Robertson says this day "serves as a specimen of many others filled to the full with stress and strain" (100).

If Mark’s narrative serves as the basis of chronology, then this day includes the healing of the demonic, the rebuff of the Pharisee’s accusation, warning about the "Unpardonable Sin," the plea of his family to come home, seven parables including Christ’s explanation of two of them, miscellaneous teaching about the purpose of parables, and a stormy boat ride to the land of the Gadarenes.

and sat by the sea side: Jesus now resorts to the Sea of Galilee to deliver this magnificent expose on the Kingdom of Heaven. In rabbinic fashion He sits near water’s edge while His listeners scatter up the hillside.

Verse 2

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.

And great multitudes were gathered together unto him: The small group that follows Jesus from the house soon grows into a great multitude. Luke tells us that people from other cities are also part of the crowd (8:4).

so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore: To accommodate such a group, Jesus abandons His place on the shore and enters a boat, which becomes a makeshift pulpit. It is possible this is Simon Peter’s boat (compare Luke 5:3).

Verse 3

And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

And he spake many things unto them in parables: This is not the first time Jesus speaks in parables. In His Sermon on the Mount, He uses salt and light (5:13-16), birds and flowers (6:26-30), splinters and beams (7:3-5), wolves and sheep (7:15), good and bad trees (7:17-19), and wise and foolish builders (7:24-27) to illustrate spiritual truths. He does the same in Matthew 9:11; Matthew 11:16. So popular is this style of teaching that Matthew says, "without a parable he did not speak to them" (13:34).

The word "parable" (parabole) carries the idea of putting things side by side so that their resemblance will be perceived (Broadus 283). Robertson notes that a parable is an "objective illustration for spiritual or moral truth" (101). In other words the elements of Jesus’ "stories" not only demonstrate physical reality but point toward an underlying spiritual truth He seeks to convey to the audience.

It is perhaps of some significance to note briefly the distinction between "parables" and "fables." In general, parables are based on real life. It is not hard, for example, to imagine a "sower going out to sow seed." Fables, on the other hand, often depict situations that are impossible. Aesop’s fables for example are filled with fanciful stores of animals or trees that speak and take on anthropomorphisms. Both parables and fables serve to illustrate truth; but the parable is of higher value, for it has as its starting point that which is believable. Thus, while we may not always know when or even if the events of Jesus’ narratives literally occur, they are in the realm of possibility.

saying, "Behold, a sower went forth to sow: The sower that Jesus describes is a familiar sight in Galilee because of the fertile ground in this northern part of Palestine. The farmer, having no mechanical farm implements, goes forth with seed bag over his shoulder and broadcasts by hand his wheat or barley seed. The seed falls far and wide meeting with sundry soils.

Verse 4

And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up

And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side: The "wayside" is the roadway or footpath. These paths often pass directly through a farmers cultivated land and become useless for cultivation. It is on one of these paths that Jesus walks in Matthew 12:1 as He goes through the grain field.

and the fowls came and devoured them up: In this case Jesus says it is devoured (katephagen—eaten down) by hungry birds. Luke says it is trampled under foot (Luke 8:5). In either case the seed is lost.

Verse 5

Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: Stony places are areas where there are underlying ledges of rock, probably of limestone, with only a thin layer of soil on top.

and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: Being warmed by the hot Mediterranean sun and having no room to grow downward the seed quickly germinates and shoots skyward. For a short time these plants may even look more promising than others. But what at first seems to be a success story ends in tragedy.

Verse 6

And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

The hot sun now rises evaporating the surface moisture. The plants, lacking both sufficient root structure and soil depth, are scorched and withered (Mark 4:6; Luke 8:6).

Verse 7

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

And some fell among thorns: Every farmer knows the peril of thorns. Lenski says these thorns are those whose roots have escaped the plow and now shoot up after the seed is sown (509).

and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: Robertson notes that the Greek literally means the thorns "choked them off" (103). The phrase in Greek is emphatic, denoting the seriousness of the loss. Luke 8:33 uses the same word in describing the pigs that are drowned (choked off) in the sea. Alexander says, "This word, though strictly applicable only to the suffocation of animal or human subjects…is here, by a natural and lively figure, transferred to the fatal influence on vegetable life of too close contact with a different and especially a ranker growth" (355).

Verse 8

But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit: A farmer sows in hope that most of his seed will fall upon good ground and yield a bountiful crop. The ground is good because it is free of weeds and underlying rock. It is deep and fertile. Thus, Jesus says the crop yields fruit. By using the imperfect tense of didomi (to give or yield) Jesus shows the fruit yield is continuous and bountiful (Robertson 103).

some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold: Jesus notes that some seed bring forth thirty, sixty, and a hundred grains for each one sown. Galilee is known for its bounty, but the results Jesus describes are truly phenomenal. As in the case of Isaac (Genesis 26:12), an hundred fold is considered a blessing. Commentators disagree on what the average yield was in the Palestine of Jesus’ day. Barnes and Broadus say such high yields are not uncommon. MacArthur, however, believes the average ration of harvested grain to seeds is less than eight to one (346). Obviously weather, moisture, quality of the seed, and other factors play a role. In any event, Jesus’ point is that each seed brings forth in accordance to the quality of the soil in which it is sowed. Broadus says, "The same seed produced no wheat, little wheat, or much wheat, all according to the character and preparation of the soil" (286).

Verse 9

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

This proverbial saying is Jesus’ way of telling the people to sit up and pay attention (11:15; 13:43). Luke 8:8 says Jesus cries out this warning! He wants the crowd, many of whom are like the poor soil, to realize they have a personal responsibility to produce fruit for God. Each must examine his heart and determine its quality and depth. Unlike physical soil, the human heart can willfully change and become more productive.

Verse 10

And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

Mark 4:10 indicates Jesus is alone when this question is asked. By this time Jesus has apparently left the boat (13:2) and is now in private conversation with the twelve. Broadus is probably correct in suggesting that Jesus leaves the boat, has the private conversation, and then resumes His teaching on the shore to the same or a similar audience (286). Like other itinerant Rabbis, Jesus probably moves about over the course of a day’s teaching. Thus, this question might have been asked along the way when they are out of earshot of the crowd.

In any event, the question reveals that until this time Jesus has not commonly used parables in His teaching. It also shows the audience does not understand the nature of parables.

Verse 11

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.

At this point in Jesus’ ministry, it is not His plan to provide full revelation to the masses. First, many who follow him have no genuine interest in the truth. Second, it is the apostles who will take gospel into all the world. Thus, for them the veil is lifted first.

The word "mystery" (musterion) originally means sacred dark and difficult secrets known only by those who are properly initiated. Robertson notes that it comes from two Greek words: mustes (one initiated) and mueo (to close or shut) (103). There are many "mystery religions" in ancient times, each with its own secret rites and myths. Only the initiated have access to these cults’ inner secrets. Examples of "mystery religions" in ancient times include the Greek "gnostics" and the Egyptian "cult of Isis."

In this case, however, the term musterion carries none of the ideas of dark paganism. In the New Testament, "mysteries" are not things that are incomprehensible or even necessarily difficult to understand. Rather, they are those things, simple or profound, that cannot be known unless revealed by God (Broadus 287). In this specific instance, they are truths pertaining to the kingdom, the church, grace, and redemption. Paul explains this process when he says, "which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets" (NKJV Ephesians 3:5) (see also 1 Peter 1:10-12; Ephesians 3:3-6; Colossians 1:26; 1 Timothy 3:16). Once revealed, however, these truths are open to all who will obey.

Verse 12

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.

Jesus offers salvation to all. Some accept the opportunity, but others refuse. Jesus’ statement demonstrates what McGarvey calls the "law of God’s moral government" (117). When a person seeks God’s way, that way will be opened to him. When a person is given the opportunity to believe and he does so, then added opportunities will follow. But when one has the opportunity yet refuses to believe, further opportunities will be taken from him.

It is interesting to note that in the beginning of His ministry, Jesus speaks plainly about the kingdom of Heaven. When it becomes evident the Jews in large part reject His message, He begins to teach in parables. The opportunity they once had is now taken from them. Now Jesus switches to a "kind of teaching which they could not understand, and which would not be explained to them" (McGarvey 117).

Verse 13

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

Therefore speak I to them in parables: See comments on verse 12.

because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand:

The people see the miracles and hear the parables, but they do not recognize their spiritual meaning. Alexander notes the phase Jesus uses is a paradoxical Greek proverb used by Demosthenes and Aeschylus "to signify a mere external sensuous perception without intellectual or moral conviction" (358).

Christ does not maliciously keep people from the truth but neither does He cast His pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). To those who are sincere, He freely opens the mysteries of the kingdom. To the insincere, He conceals them. Barnes says, "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" (141).

Verses 14-15

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: 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.

Israel has a long tradition of hard heartedness (19:8). Some seven hundred years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah addresses the very same problem. Jesus words are a quote from Isaiah 6:9-10 as found in the Septuagint (LXX). Like ancient Israel the Jews of Jesus’ day deliberately "shut down" (ekammusan) their eyes, dull their ears (lit: hear heavily), and allowed their hearts to wax gross (epachunthe—from pachus, meaning to make thick, fat or stout) (Robertson 105).

Isaiah writes with warning to a people who, because of their sins, stand on the verge of Babylonian exile. The Jews of Jesus’ day stand on the very brink of destruction. Within a generation (70 A.D.) Rome will raze Jerusalem and bring Judaism to an end. Even so, like the ancients, this generation stood defiant in the face of God and the teaching of His Son.

Clarity is always God’s preferred method of instructing His people. In ancient Israel the message of God’s prophets is clear until the people demonstrate deliberate disregard. After this time, God "speaks" to them by "foreign tongues" as they are carried away captive. It is the same with Jesus’ teaching. At first He speaks directly but later resorts to parables. In reality Jesus’ shift in methods is a form of judgment on the unbelieving Jews.

Verse 16

But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear

A true disciple stands in stark contrast to those who fit Isaiah’s description. The word Jesus uses here for "blessed" (makarioi) is from the same root as is found in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12. It is variously translated but carries the idea of a happiness or blessedness that results from a correct relationship with God. In this case it is because of the disciple’s genuine interest in spiritual things. Christ, in turn, opens the mysteries of the kingdom to them.

Verse 17

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.

Here the disciples are grouped into the same illustrious category as the "prophets" and "righteous men" of old. Christ’s disciples, however, have a distinct advantage. They stand in the very presence of the Messiah and literally see him. Whereas others had looked down the stream of time with eyes of faith, the apostles personally drink of the Water of Life. Peter describes this situation in 1 Peter 1:10-11 as he reminds us that the prophets of old longed to see the Messiah. Likewise the Hebrew writer speaks of those who died in faith without having received the promises (11:13).

Verse 18

Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

"Therefore" shows that because His disciples have a genuine interest in the kingdom, He is willing to reward them with a true understanding of the parable.

Verse 19

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.

When any one heareth the word of the kingdom: Jesus begins His explanation by focusing on the hearer. In the other gospel accounts, different highlights are given. Mark’s account focuses on the sower by saying "the sower sows the word" (4:14). Luke’s account focuses on the seed and says "the seed is the word of God" (8:11). All three (hearer, sower, seed) play an integral role anytime God’s message is taught.

and understandeth it not: Truth that is not understood, at least in some measure, can do men no good" (Broadus 290). The fault is not with the message or messenger. God’s word is never too difficult for men to understand. The problem is with the hearer. He does not understand it because he has no deep interest in it. He is hard hearted; thus, the devil quickly snatches it away. Broadus says:

In other things, a man must know in order to love; in religion he must love in order to know. Whenever through inattention, lack of spiritual sympathy, unwillingness to receive, or opposition, men fail to ’understand’ the word, it cannot benefit them, It lies for a moment on the surface of the mind, till by some one of the thousand influences which Satan and his subordinates employ, it is caught away (291).

then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart: Where ever God’s word is taught without proper attention being given to it, Satan is present to snatch it away. Jesus says the "birds" represent "the wicked one." Mark says "Satan" (4:15), and Luke uses the term "devil" (8:12). All portray the same thought. Even today, one can imagine that the devil, like the birds of this parable, hovers over pulpits and church assemblies waiting to devour the truth from disinterested, sleeping parishioners.

This is he which received seed by the way side: Jesus’ words in this verse explain the soil of verse 4. The farmer is not even through sowing when the scavenging birds begin to devour the precious seed. How the devil has such an immediate effect on this seed is not found in his strength, cunning, or hunger but in the condition of the soil. The same birds that land on the path might have just as easily land on the good soil. But whereas the good soil receives the seed the wayside soil does not.

Verse 20

But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

Unlike the wayside soil the stony ground immediately receives the seed with joy. This is the man who has a certain initial excitement about what he hears. He believes the message and understands its value. The philosophy of the gospel makes sense to him. But he is deficient in those qualities that turn philosophical knowledge into practical living. When persecution calls for commitment, he endures only for a while.

This is the superficial Christian, the man whose initial enthusiasm seems to promise a long and fruit-filled life. This is the man whose conversion stands out to others, for he accepts the gospel quickly and manifests observable joy. MacArthur says this is the man "who cannot say enough good things about the gospel, the preacher, the church and the Lord. He is on an emotional high" (358). This is the man who immediately wants to go out and "convert the world." But this is also the man who burns out quickly, Like a spark, he burns brightly and is gone. The emotion, the joy, the exuberance, the commitment iare shallow and cannot withstand the oncoming heat of persecution.

Verse 21

Yet hath he no root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: Like the seed described in verse 5-6, this person has shallow roots. His initial, quick, and observable growth does not accurately reveal his true commitment. Only the scorching sun reveals his true character and dedication to the word.

for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word: The source of persecution is the new convert’s commitment to the word. When others begin to see his changed life, they do not accept him for to do so will condemn them; therefore, they begin to put pressure on the new convert.

The word Jesus uses here for tribulation (thlipseos) is from a root word (thlibo), which means to press, oppress, or to squeeze. "The English word is from the Latin tribulum and denotes a roller used by Romans for pressing wheat" (Robertson 106). Tribulations are those events of daily living with which Satan hopes to squeeze us to death.

Like the scorching sun, persecution and tribulation may produce either of two effects. Ihey may wither the weak and unstable, thereby destroying them; or they may strengthen the resolve of those who are deeply committed to the Lord and actually make them more productive (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 5:10). Notice that the same sun that destroys the stony ground crop also beats upon the ground that produces an hundred fold.

by and by he is offended: The Greek word is skandalizo and means "to cause offense, to cause to stumble and fall."

Verse 22

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.

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word: Here Satan does not snatch the word away as he might from a disinterested heart. Neither does he bring upon this class scorching persecution by evil men. Here the devil’s tactics are more subtle. Here he allows the man’s own worldly interests to work in drawing him away.

and the care of this world: Alexander says that "cares" are "undue solicitudes, anxieties, and fears, as to the interests of this life" (363). Barnes says this word includes any aspect of daily living that takes time away from examining the state of the soul (143). The corresponding idea is found in Matthew 6:25-34 where Jesus speaks of "taking thought" or "caring" (worrying) about the things of this world. In other words, "cares" are daily worries of life that get the best of this person and choke his spirituality. All Christians have cares but we must manage them by putting God first.

and the deceitfulness of riches: Christ knows the powerful influence that money can have over a man’s heart. This is why He warns, "ye cannot serve God and mammon" (6:24). Money may promise happiness, but true satisfaction and fulfillment come only through obedience to Jesus. Paul tells Timothy, "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

choke the word, and becometh unfruitful: Thorns are not immediately destructive. They spring up with the healthy plant and gradually rob it of proper nutrition, moisture, and sunlight. Death is slow and agonizing. These are believers who gradually lose interest in the kingdom. Jesus describes a process. Little by little worldly pursuits push Jesus into second place, then into third place, etc. until their faith dies. The sad fact is that many never realize what is happening. The weaker they get the less they are able to discern their own spiritual condition. Even things that may not be wrong in and of themselves may be turned by Satan into a crown of thorns. When the believer no longer bears fruit, he is not useful to God.

Verse 23

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.

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit: This soil is different from the wayside soil because this man understands the word and receives it into his heart. This is more than intellectual understanding. It not only penetrates the mind but also the soul. He is also different from the rocky soil because he has a deep commitment to the SAVIOUR and is willing to suffer for Him. He is different from the thorny soil because Jesus is number one in his life. His affections are set on things above and his primary interests are spiritual. Thus, he bears good and abundant fruit.

Luke says he bears fruit "with patience" (Luke 8:15). This Christian is not one who thinks things will always be easy. He knows that some seasons bring hardship, drought, and difficulty. But this believer is in the kingdom for the long haul. The glory of God is his goal, and he patiently trusts the master.

and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty: Jesus does not say why some fruit yields are higher than others. Keep in mind that this is a "parable" and may include elements that do not demand specific interpretation. We must be careful in forcing a meaning where Jesus is silent. The fact that all individuals are different and have unique talents may account for the varying amounts; however, this is not our Lord’s primary point. Undeniably the point being made is that good soil produces good fruit, whatever its capacity.

Verse 24

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying: "Put forth" (paretheken) is derived from the idea of setting food before someone as in Mark 8:6 (Broadus 294). Here Jesus sets before His audience another spiritual entree that will be appreciated by those who hunger after righteousness (Matthew 5:6).

The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: In keeping with the same theme as the previous parable, Jesus speaks of sowing seed; however, here there are two sowers. One is evil and sows bad seed. In this parable the final harvest is not simply an issue of soil quality but a product of seed quality.

Verse 25

But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

But while men slept: This clause does not denote laziness or slothfulness but simply stresses the passing of time.

his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way: Under cover of darkness and night the enemy comes and sows bad seed along with the good wheat. He then goes on his way escaping detection.

Tares (zizania) refer to darnel-grass, a plant of the same family as wheat, and not readily distinguished from it in early stages of growth. Not until the head appears is the difference readily seen. Darnel is black and somewhat smaller than true wheat. Broadus notes that in eastern countries it is sold for the purpose of feeding poultry (295).

To sow bad seed in another man’s field is a common form of Eastern malice or revenge. Ellicott says, "The enemy had the satisfaction of brooding for weeks or months over the prospect of the injury he had inflicted, and the vexation it would cause when discovered" (187). "The crime was apparently common enough in ancient times that the Romans had a specific law against it" (Lenski 525).

Furthermore, darnel poses a potential health hazard. When mixed with wheat and ground into flour, the bread is bitter and causes dizziness (Barnes 144, Broadus 294). Thus if darnel is not removed, a farmer’s entire crop can be ruined; and he will suffer tremendous financial loss.

Verse 26

But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

For a time, things look normal. The seed sprouts, and both wheat and darnel grow together; however, toward the middle of the season when the grain begins to head, the difference becomes evident. "Brought forth fruit" does not refer to ripened grain but to the full heads containing grain.

Verse 27

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?

The servants (douloi—slaves) notice the darnel first. Immediately they report to the wealthy landowner for his advice and instruction. Their question portrays their anxiety and perplexity. Their question presupposes a positive answer. "Yes! Good seed was sown in the field." How then does darnel end up in the field?

Verse 28

He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

It would not be uncommon for a field to have a few weeds in it, but the great number in this case immediately tells the story. "An enemy hath done this." With wealth and power comes the ever prevalent possibility of enemies. This landowner has at least one who seeks to destroy him.

The slaves, being ready to please their master, present what seems to be a valid solution. "Do you want us to go and weed out the darnel?"

Verse 29

But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

The answer from the wise landowner is immediate and sure. His response, however, is not characterized by impulsive rashness or imprudence. He manifests what Ellicott calls "patient wisdom" in the face of adversity. "He knows he can defeat the malice of his foe, but he will choose his own time and plan" (Ellicott 189).

If the servants go into the fields now while the plants are green, they will do more damage than good. While they "root out" (ekrizosete) the darnel, they might also damage the wheat whose roots are intermingled in the field (Robertson 108). They might also trample the wheat and greatly injure the crop (Barnes 145).

Verse 30

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.

Let both grow together until the harvest: Not until the wheat has matured and the harvest season has come will the separation be made. At that time, when the heads of grain are dry, it will be easy to tell which is wheat. Reapers will then be sent into the field. The plan of the landowner requires a bit more patience, but in the end it is wise and saves the wheat from further damage.

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: The Oriental process of gathering wheat is depicted in this passage. By means of either sickles or by pulling up the grain with the hands, roots and all, the crop is gathered and bound into bundles for transportation and processing (Lenski 527). Here the darnel is bound first to be burned. Afterwards the wheat is gathered into the barn (lit. granary, storehouse, or garner).

Verses 31-32

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: 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.

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, As in verse 24, Jesus "sets forth" another parable to His audience. Again paretheken (set forth) is used, reminding us of Mark 8:6 where food is set before the four thousand. Here Jesus sets before His audience another spiritual morsel, which will be appreciated by those who hungered after righteousness (Matthew 5:6).

The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Here a single "grain of mustard seed" (kokkoi sinapeos) is used to illustrate the tremendous growth of the kingdom.

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.

Scholars are not agreed as to the variety of "mustard" that Jesus uses for His illustration. Unger notes that all varieties produce minute seeds and in the proper warm climate "attain a size quite sufficient for the exigencies of the passages (1140). Broadus believes this to be the type of Eastern mustard that commonly grows in that climate to a height of eight or ten feet (296). This size will be large enough for birds to find refuge and protection in its branches.

Jesus does not give the interpretation of this parable as with the "Seed and Sower," but the meaning is obvious enough. The "man who sows the seed" is Christ. The "field" is the world. But in this instance the "seed" must not be restricted to the "word" alone but also includes the first fruits of the word: the kingdom of Jesus Christ commonly called "the church." On the day of Pentecost, the kingdom is indeed smaller than any other Jewish sect or party in Palestine or Greece (Ellicott 188). Within a few years, however, it grows to encompass the entire known world (Colossians 1:23; Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-19). McGarvey notes the parable is "prophetic and is still in the process of fulfillment" (121).

Some suggest that the "seed" of this parable represents an individual’s faith, which begins small and grows magnificently. But while Jesus does compare one’s faith to a mustard seed in Matthew 17:20, here He specifically says the parable has reference to "the kingdom of heaven." Also note that in Matthew 17:20 the mustard seed is used to depict an already mature faith not the growth process itself.

Verse 33

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.

In addition to the three agricultural parables, Jesus now adds one "borrowed from domestic life and female industry" (Alexander 369). In so doing, He leaves "no part of every-day experience unemployed in the elucidation and enforcement of religious truth" (Alexander 369).

In Oriental housekeeping yeast is not preserved in a separate form. A piece of leavened dough saved over from the last baking is added to the new dough to ferment it" (Fourfold 338). The amount of "wheaten meal" (aleurou) here is said to be "three measures." Various opinions exist as to exactly how much this equals. However, the Greek "measure" (saton) corresponds to the Hebrew "seah" equaling one third of an "ephah." Therefore, three measures (stata), or one ephah, is the amount in question. In modern terms this is thought to be about a bushel but some ambiguity exists as measurements are imprecise in the ancient world "ranging substantially in place and time (Gaebelein 319).

By modern household standards the amount seems large, but there is no reason to think that Jesus is using exaggeration. Such a huge batch of dough might be common among Oriental families whose major food item is bread. Several day’s supply might be baked at one time. This is the same amount that Abraham and Sarah baked for their angelic visitors (Genesis 18:6) and that Gideon prepared (Judges 6:19).

The spiritual meaning is not dependant on knowing the precise quantity of flour. Just as yeast works quietly until it has spread throughout the entire batch, so does the kingdom of Heaven. Some take this parable to describe the working of Christ’s kingdom in the life of the believer. Faith quietly permeates the Christian until he is thoroughly filled with Godly attributes. A better view, however, is that this parable is addressing the growth of Jesus’ kingdom in the world. Quietly, without earthly headquarters, arms, or violence the church of our Lord Jesus Christ spreads its influence throughout society. As in the previous parable, Jesus is also teaching that "looks can be deceiving." What at first appears to be small and insignificant eventually spreads into greatness.

It is obvious from the parable that the analogy of "leaven" is not necessarily a symbol of corruption or sin. While Jesus speaks of the "leaven of hypocrisy" (Luke 12:1) and Paul uses leaven in warning about legalism (Galatians 5:9), the essence of each analogy is found in the way leaven spreads (see also 1 Corinthians 5:6). Here, too, the obvious point is that Christ’s kingdom, like leaven, spreads quietly overcoming resistance and opposition.

Verse 34

All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:

The context obviously limits this statement to the immediate situation. Both before this time and after it Jesus uses other methods than parables to speak to the crowds. The purpose of this statement is to underscore what Matthew says in the next verse. Once again Matthew proves Jesus to be a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

Verse 35

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.

The section of scripture Matthew quotes is Psalms 78:2. Commonly known as "poetry," the psalms contain many Messianic prophecies. Psalms 78 is ascribed to Asaph, who in 2 Chronicles 29:30 is called a "seer" or "prophet." A contemporary with King David, this musician is author of twelve psalms.

Asaph says, "I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, Which we have heard and known And our fathers have told us" (Psalms 78:2-4 NKJV). In this psalm the history of the nation of Israel is recounted. These events are well known, but Asaph calls them "dark sayings" because he links historical events together in such a way so as to bring out that which previously has been unclear. Gaebelein says that by describing the overall pattern of Israel’s history God’s omnipotent scheme is more clearly revealed and things once hidden "from of old" are illuminated (320).

Jesus fulfills Asaph’s prophecy in that he, too, presents truths in such a way so as to reveal God’s redemptive scheme. The kingdom was not necessarily a new concept to the Jews. The Old Testament prophets, including John the Baptist, foretell its coming (11:12-13). In Jesus’ teaching, however, patterns of redemptive history are stressed in such a way that "when rightly interpreted they point toward new revelation - viz., they are fulfilled" (Gaebelein 322). This fits with verse 52 when Christ says that "every scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man … which bringeth forth … things old and new." Jesus teaches old things in new ways and new things in new ways. While Jesus’ sayings are not exactly the same type as those found in Psalms 78, "the term ’parable’ can embrace both kinds of utterances" (Gaebelein 322).

In this Psalm Asaph appears to be a type of Christ. Lenski notes that what Asaph does in revealing God’s redemptive scheme Christ repeats far more perfectly (534). Just as Psalms 78 recounts Israel’s history, so Christ embodies that history and is the ultimate fulfillment of its types and shadows. Thus, when Asaph speaks of God’s mysteries about Israel, he is really speaking about Christ

Of interest is the phrase, "I will utter" (ereuxomai), which means "to bubble or spew forth." This idea stands in contrast to what was once hidden. Like a flood Jesus now reveals kingdom "secrets."

Verse 36

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.

After teaching the people, Jesus returns to the house (13:1), possibly Simon Peter’s home at Capernaum (8:14). Now Jesus’ disciples come to him to ask for an explanation of the parable of the "tares in the field." They apparently understand the parables of the mustard seed and leaven but find this one more difficult and complex.

Verse 37

He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

Jesus is the "sower." When heeded and obeyed, His teachings produce "good seed" or "sons of the kingdom."

Verse 38

Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

Which, when it was full: This expression describes the end of the age. It is the time when the gospel age is over, and God calls time to an end. All are pulled to shore for a final separation.

they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away: The spiritual lesson is taken from physical reality. Everyday fishermen around the Sea of Galilee pull their nets to the beach and sit down to separate the edible fish from the inedible. The good are gathered into baskets, and the spoiled or putrid are thrown out on the ground.

Verse 39

The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

Unlike Christ, who sows good seed, the Devil sows evil seed. His "seed" are evil men and doctrine that plague the growth of Christ’s kingdom on earth. The devil is the enemy for he seeks to deceive and destroy. All evil in this world is a direct product of the devil. In the garden of Eden, Satan brought wickedness into the world; and Jesus assures us in this verse that until the end of time Satan will be active.

Jesus likens the end of the world (lit: end of the age) to a "harvest." Harvest time comes at the consummation of the growing season at which time the crop is gathered, the wheat is separated from the chaff, and in this case the darnel is removed from the wheat. Jesus assures us that good and bad can remain together only temporarily, for God will someday separate them from one another. Just how this separation will occur, Jesus does not say; but it will be the angels who administer the work of separation.

Verses 40-42

As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 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; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels: Angels will be the instruments God uses to sever the wicked from the righteous (see 16:27). Paul speaks of this situation and says Jesus will be revealed from heaven with mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend: "Offend" is from the Greek word meaning "stumbling block" (skandala - plural of scandalon from which we get "scandal") At the end of time, all obstacles will be removed from God’s domain. Jesus will reign supreme.

and them which do iniquity: Iniquity is "lawlessness." The apostle John informs us that "lawlessness" is "sin" (1 John 3:4). In this case the "lawless ones" are tares who give their allegiance to Satan whose entire mission is rebellion and lawlessness against God.

And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth: The "fire" that Jesus speaks of here is "Gehenna-hell." It is the "lake of fire" and eternal abode of the wicked that burns with "brimstone." It is an eternal place of pain, torment, and regret.

MacArthur says:

Hell will not be a place, as some jokingly envision, where the ungodly will continue to do their thing while the godly do theirs in heaven. Hell will have no friendships, no fellowship, no camaraderie, no comfort. It will not even have the debauched pleasures in which the ungodly love to revel on earth. There will be no pleasure in hell of any kind or degree - only torment, "day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10) (379).

Verse 43

Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The sun shines brightest when the clouds are gone. So it is with the kingdom of God. When the angels have removed the tares and all that offend, then the true beauty and quality of the "wheat" will shine forth (eklampsousin). Lenski notes that the ek in the verb eklampsousin carries the idea of light breaking forth from within (540).

Notice that no longer is the kingdom said to be the "Son of Man’s." It is now the "kingdom of their Father." All has been fulfilled. The kingdom is turned over to God as Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.

Verse 44

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.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field: No parable addresses the human imagination more than this one. In every age tales of buried treasure send both men and boys off with shovels in hands and hearts full of hope.

In this illustration Jesus compares the "kingdom of heaven" to a man who stumbles across buried treasure in a field. Unlike the merchant in the next parable (13:45-46) there is no indication that this man sets out to find treasure. Perhaps while plowing his master’s field, he comes upon it wholly by accident. But while the merchant of verse 45 is to be commended for his forethought, both men demonstrate tremendous afterthought once the prize has been discovered. They will sacrifice all to acquire it.

Jesus does not say how the treasure comes to be hidden in the field. Certainly it is not buried by the current landowner, else he would remove it before selling the field. Lenski notes that the practice of hiding such valuables as gold and jewels was quite frequent in ancient times (541). MacArthur says, "Because Palestine had been a battle ground for hundreds of years, families would often even bury food, clothing, and various household objects to protect them from plundering enemy soldiers" (383). Without the luxury of modern banking, most people protect their valuables in a secret spot in the ground even in times of peace. When they need money or decided to sell or trade a piece of jewelry, for instance, they will go to the place at night, uncover the jar or storage box, take out what was desired, and rebury the rest (MacArthur 382). If whoever buried the treasure dies without revealing its whereabouts, it might be lost and generations pass until another stumbles upon it. This is probably the case in this parable.

the which when a man hath found, he hideth: In interpreting this parable, we must not confuse the point that Jesus wishes to convey. It is not the Lord’s primary intent to judge the ethics of the man who after finding the buried treasure hides it from the landowner in order to buy the field. Here, as in other places, Jesus simply describes a common life situation and uses it as a springboard for spiritual truth. In Luke 16:1; Luke 18:2, Jesus includes unjust persons in His story line in the process of teaching truth. What at first glance may seem dishonest or unethical, however, may not be. MacArthur notes that rabbinic law provides that if a man finds scattered fruit or money, it belongs to the finder (382). However we judge the man’s ethics, he at least acts honestly in buying the field rather than simply stealing the treasure.

and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field: The real importance of the parable is not to be found in the minor details that move the story toward its tremendous conclusion. Here the point is simple and singular: the kingdom of heaven is worth selling out for. Once a sincere heart discovers the kingdom of heaven, it becomes passion to attain it. He becomes impoverished in spirit to gain that which is of inestimable worth (5:3).

Verse 45

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:

Unlike the man in the previous parable, who accidentally stumbles upon his treasure, this man is given to the pursuit of "goodly pearls." He is no ordinary shop keeper, but he is a merchant man (emporos). He is a dealer in excellent pearls and travels far and wide to find and import them. Ellicott says he is accustomed to seeking them on the shores of the Mediterranean or from other traders from the Persian Gulf or the Indian Ocean (194). Every day he sets out with keen eye to inspect and haggle over the trays of beautiful pearls brought up from the ocean depths.

As with all of Jesus’ parables, this one strikes a familiar chord. These Galileans are no doubt familiar with those who traffic in these scarce and precious gems, but very few of His listeners have them. Most of Jesus’ audiences are commoners, and pearls are extremely costly. Incredible sums must be paid for a single pearl. Ellicott says the "caprices of luxury in the Roman empire had given a prominence to pearls, as an article of commerce, which they had never had before, and have probably never had since" (194). They are considered more precious than emeralds, sapphires, or even gold and are worn only by the rich. The wife of the Roman emperor Caligula is reported to have worn a fortune of pearls in her hair and on her neck, wrist, and fingers. And MacArthur says that when an "extravagant ruler wanted to flaunt his wealth, he would sometimes dissolve a pearl in vinegar and drink it in his wine" (383). He further notes that some Egyptians and Romans held the pearl in such awe that they worshiped them. (383).

In scripture the value of pearls is also indicated. Matthew 7:6 warns about casting valuable "gospel pearls" before swine. Paul instructs that a godly woman’s beauty comes from the heart and not from these costly "gems" (1 Timothy 2:9-10). And John speaks of the New Jerusalem as having twelve gates each made of a single "pearl" (Revelation 21:21).

Verse 46

Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

The man in this story is special, for he knows the value of pearls. In his past travels, he has seen and no doubt traded many of tremendous worth. But this one surpasses them all. In fact, it is of such singular value that none could ever equal it. Jesus makes this fact known by using the phrase "found ONE pearl."

Upon finding the pearl, this merchant sacrifices everything. Once a seller of "many" pearls, he now becomes a buyer of the "only" pearl. He not only liquidates all his other pearls but he sells his earthly possessions, too. His life is forever changed. Except for the "pearl of great price," he owns nothing; so he is rich beyond comparison.

"The kingdom of heaven is like this," Jesus says. When someone who has an eye for spiritual things comes in contact with God’s kingdom, it sparks an unquenchable passion within him. His decision is swift but wise. He accepts the gospel and sells out to the cause of Christ. All other philosophies and false faiths are liquidated, for they will not do.

The problem for many, however, is that they neither have an eye for nor an interest in the "kingdom pearl." Many see it, but few recognize its value. Some take it casually into their hands and admire its beauty; but because of its cost, they walk away. Still others, even when avowedly searching for religious truth, will buy, even at great cost, imitation pearls that are worthless.

The major point of the two parables (44-46) is that the kingdom of heaven is priceless. Even so, it can be obtained only at a cost. With each of the men in Christ’s illustrations, there is a willingness to surrender all. Christ requires no less from us. While salvation is God’s gift to man, the true believer will be willing to pay whatever cost salvation requires. In Matthew 8:20-21, Jesus warns would-be followers that discipleship is expensive and will cost them everything.

Verse 47

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:

Like the parable of the tares (13:24-30), this parable paints a picture of separation. The question, however, is whether Jesus is describing a separation between good and evil kingdom members or between the kingdom and the world. If the net represents Christ’s "kingdom "or "church," the former is probably the correct interpretation. Lenski says at the end of the age all those who are within "the great gospel net" will be judged (549). Lenski further notes that here on earth both good and evil are mixed together in the outward body of the church. They all claim to be faithful, but in the end God will judge (549).

It is also possible to interpret this parable as referring to a separation of the kingdom and the world. This view, however, requires one to define the "dragnet" more narrowly as the "final judgment" portion of God’s kingdom.

"On the sea of Galilee three basic methods of fishing are employed, all of which are still used there today" (MacArthur 394). First, one might use a hook and line. This is the method Peter uses in obtaining the two-drachma temple tax from the fish’s mouth (Matthew 17:24-27).

The other two types involve nets. The first type is the "amphiblestron." This is a small, one-man casting net, not unlike that which Peter and Andrew are using when Jesus calls them to be fishers of men (Matthew 4:18-19). To use this net, the fisherman wades into shallow water and casts it over schools of fish. He then pulls it to the shore by hand.

The second type is the "sagene" or "dragnet" (Robertson 110). This is the largest of all nets, at times approaching half a mile in length. To use this kind, one anchors the net to shore and sails out in a huge sweeping circle entrapping the fish. In deeper water, two boats work as a team to encircle the catch. Either way the process is extensive and requires a whole crew of men. One never knows what kind of fish the net will drag up from the depths of the sea. Dragnet fishing is the focus of this parable, and "every kind" represents the diversity within the human race (for example: race, social class, intelligence, etc.) taken into the gospel net.

Verse 49

So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,

Just as the angels separate wicked men of the world from righteous men of the kingdom, so angels separate the good and bad from within the kingdom (see 41). Exactly how the process takes place Jesus does not say, but it is apparent the angels have this role at the final judgment. This teaching is in harmony with Matthew 25:31-46. In Matthew 25:32, Jesus himself is pictured as doing the separating, but this action obviously occurs with the help of "the holy angels" whom He brings with Him (25:31).

Verse 50

And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

This is exactly the same thought as found in verse 42 (see comments there). Again Jesus demonstrates His belief in an eternal "hell fire" where God will eternally punish the wicked. Let those religions today—those that deny the severity of God and the reality of hell—take heed. Jesus could not be more explicit and plain in His warning.

Verse 51

Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.

This question comes at the end of the seventh parable. In order to make sure His disciples grasp the full import of the day’s teaching, Jesus makes the inquiry. Earlier in the day they were unclear about two of His parables and He explained them both. Now their "kingdom comprehension" has broadened sufficiently to respond, "Yes Lord, we understand all things." This statement does not mean that they have perfect knowledge, for as yet they were immature. It rather refers to their grasp of the basic truths set forth in parables. What they now understand only partially and intellectually, they someday will experience as they personally take the kingdom message abroad (Matthew 28:18 ff).

Verse 52

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.

Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven: Based on their affirmative response Jesus now compares his disciples to "scribes." While the term "scribe" (grammateus) literally refers to "one who writes," it more fully denotes a learner or disciple. In Jesus’ day it was one who had been disciplined and trained sufficiently in Moses’ Law so as to instruct others (Matthew 23:2; John 9:28).

Here Jesus says His apostles are being "disciplined unto the kingdom of heaven." In other words, they are being "instructed" (matheteutheis) in the Messianic Dispensation and have espoused its truths. In turn they will soon be able to instruct others.

is like unto a man that is an householder: A "householder" (that is, house keeper, house owner—oikodespotes) is a person who manages the home and superintends its daily needs. Duties include the provision of ample food, clothing, or any other supplies needed by the family. These supplies are kept in a store house, or treasure, from which they are "brought forth" as needed.

which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old: The term "bring forth" (ekballo) literally means "to throw out," "fling out" or "hurl forth." Broadus says it always implies vigorous if not violent action (308). The picture then is of a householder who vigorously and generously brings out of his storeroom (thesauros) those things, both old and new, that meet the family’s needs.

"Old and new things" refer to all of God’s truth. Once trained, the apostles are able to reach back into the Old Testament and explain its precepts while also bringing forth new truths about the kingdom. The Jewish scribes cannot do this. They have neither the knowledge nor the authority to reveal new things. Jesus and His "scribes," however, have the power to do both. He demonstrates this point in the Sermon on the Mount as He correctly interprets Moses, fulfills the Law, and sets forth new kingdom precepts.

Verse 53

And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.

With this verse, the marvelous parabolic discourse of the Lord comes to an end; and He and His disciples move on. This, however, is not the end of Christ’s busy day. Mark adds details of the stormy sea crossing and the stilling of the tempest (4:35-41). Matthew, in characteristic fashion and having previously recorded these events (8:23-27), disregards chronology and follows Jesus directly to Nazareth.

This verse strikes a certain sadness in the heart of the reader. For about a year, Jesus has been teaching in and around Capernaum, using it as His home base (4:13, 8:5). But even though the people have heard His words and have seen His miracles, most of them reject him. Because of this response, His last discourse here is given entirely in parables (13:13). MacArthur notes that by leaving, Jesus in effect pronounces a curse on Capernaum. He never returns there again except as He passes through on His way to minister elsewhere (406). Because of their rejection, Christ’s words in Matthew 11:23 came to pass. Today the once beautiful "village of Nahum" lies in utter ruins.

Verse 54

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?

And when he was come into his own country: His "own country" refers to Nazareth, the place Joseph and Mary come after returning from Egypt (2:23) and where Jesus returns after His baptism and temptation (4:12-13). No doubt Jesus knows many of these people and wants to give them yet another chance to accept His message.

he taught them in their synagogue: The events recorded here are the same as Mark 6:1-6. Because of the similarity of this visit to the one recorded in Luke 4:16-31, many suppose it to be the same. But it is unlikely they are the same, given that the visit in Luke 4 comes early in Jesus’ ministry (Luke 4:31 coincides in time with Matthew 4:13); and circumstances surrounding each event differ. In Luke, Jesus’ synagogue sermon so angers the congregation that they attempt to kill him. That same reaction does not appear to be the case in Matthew or Mark. This verse gives us insight into Jesus’ habits. He not only regularly attends synagogue services but also teaches those present. It is customary for visiting rabbis to be invited to speak, and Jesus takes advantage of this custom.

insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?: Jesus’ message and wisdom astound the people. He has not studied at any of the famous rabbinical schools neither has He had any special training beyond other Jewish men (John 7:15). Yet the message is powerful. The power of the message, combined with the miracles, makes the people marvel. How can this be the same "boy" who grew up among them?

Verses 55-56

Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?

Like many in Israel, those of Nazareth fail to make the connection between Jesus and His divinity. This verse manifests their blatant blindness. When they look at Jesus, they see only His earthy linage. They connect him only to His earthly father, mother, brothers, and sisters.

Is not this the carpenter’s son?: It is customary for a young man to take on the trade of his father. Here Joseph is called a "carpenter." The word (tekton) is a general term for a "craftsman." It applies to those who work in wood but can also apply to one who work in stone. It is uncertain which Joseph is, but no doubt he passed the trade on to Jesus at a very young age. Remember, too, that Jesus probably practices this trade until about the age of 30 when He begins His public ministry. Justin Martyr affirms in his dialogue with Trypho (c. 150 A.D.) that Jesus is a maker of plows and yokes. If so, then Matthew 11:29 takes on new meaning; however, considering the common building material of Palestine, it is also possible that Joseph and Jesus are stone masons. Either way they no doubt have crafted many of the villager’s houses or belongings.

is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? The phrase "his brothers, sisters, etc." has been variously explained, but Barnes is correct in saying these were sons and daughters of Joseph and Mary (150). In other words, they are half brothers and sisters of Jesus. This fact is further illustrated when the villagers include these siblings in the same breath as Joseph and Mary, an unlikely situation if they are only cousins or near kinspersons. Despite all efforts to prove that Mary lives in perpetual virginity as Roman Catholic heresy claims, the evidence shows that Mary has other children after Jesus (see notes on 12:46).

Verse 57

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.

And they were offended in him: "They were offended at Him" literally means "They stumbled at him" (Robertson 111). The Greek word is skandalizo from which we get the English word "scandalize." Broadus says, "they found in him obstacles to believing" (312). They are offended because He does not meet their expectations. They stumble over His lowly birth, lack of training, and other characteristics they do not associate with a Messiah.

But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

Knowing their hearts, Jesus responds with a proverb. "A prophet is not without honor, etc." He has expressed this same truth previously in Nazareth as Luke records (4:24). John 4:44 also gives this as the reason for Jesus’ leaving Judea and Samaria, thus taking His ministry to Galilee.

Broadus notes that "in any ordinary matters, a man will be more kindly received among his kindred and early friends than elsewhere; but not when he appears as greatly their superior, and professes, or is popularly reported, to possess extraordinary powers" (312). It may be jealousy or misunderstanding that causes such a prophet to be rejected by his peers. Alexander says strangers judge another by his public acts and official conduct but friends and neighbors are so occupied with minor details that the real picture is obscured or distorted (385). Lenski simply says, "Familiarity breeds contempt" (553).

Not only was Christ rejected in Nazareth, but here we see an indication that He is rejected in "his own house." Mark adds, "among his own kin" (6:4). This response is especially true at first, for John 7:5 explicitly says, "For even His brothers did not believe in Him."

Verse 58

And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

The obvious implication of this verse is that Jesus is willing to do many mighty miracles had they believed. Their disbelief, however, is so blatant that He can do few mighty works here. Mark adds that Jesus "marveled" at their faithlessness (6:6).

The reality of this rejection brings a double "curse" to those of Nazareth. Not only do they spurn the one who can cure them of their physical ills but they forfeit the blessing of Jesus’ spiritual healing. Thus, Jesus has no choice but to go His way, leaving them to suffer in body and soul.

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on Matthew 13". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/matthew-13.html. 1993-2022.
 
adsfree-icon
Ads FreeProfile