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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Matthew 13




The transition from the sultry, sombre atmosphere of chap. 12 into the calm, clear air of Christ’s parabolic wisdom would be as welcome to the evangelist as it is to us. Yet even here we do not altogether escape the shadow of unbelief or spiritual insusceptibility. We read of much good seed wasted, bad seed sown among good, fish of all sorts caught in the net. The adoption of the parabolic method of teaching, indeed, had its origin in part in disappointing experiences; truths misapprehended, actions misunderstood, compelling the Teacher to fall back on natural analogies for explanation and self-defence. All the synoptists recognise the importance of this type of teaching by their formal manner of introducing the first of the group of seven parables contained in Matthew’s collection. Cf. Matthew 13:3 ; Mark 4:2 ; Luke 8:4 . Matthew’s way of massing matter of the same kind most effectually impresses us with the significance of this feature in Christ’s teaching ministry. That Jesus spoke all the seven parables grouped together in this chapter at one time is not certain or even likely. In the corresponding section Mark gives only two of the seven ( Sower and Mustard Seed ). Luke has the Sower only. The Sower , the Tares , and the Drag net may have formed a single discourse, as very closely connected in structure and import. Perhaps we should rather say had a place in the discourse from the boat, which seems to have been a review of the past ministry of Jesus, expressing chiefly disappointment with the result. Much besides parables would be spoken, the parables being employed to point the moral: much seed, little fruit, and yet a beginning made destined to grow; the situation to be viewed with patience and hope. Just how many of the parables reported by the evangelists were spoken then it is impossible to determine.

Verse 1

Matthew 13:1 . ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ . The parable stands in the same connection in Mark (not in Luke), but not as following in immediate temporal sequence. No stress should be laid on Matthew’s phrase “on that day”. ἐξελθὼν τῆς οἰκίας : the house in which Jesus is supposed to have been when His friends sought for Him, though Matthew makes no mention of it ( vide Mark 3:19 ). ἐκάθητο : as at the teaching on the hill (Matthew 5:1 ), suggestive of lengthened discourse. The Teacher sat, the hearers stood.

Verses 1-9

Matthew 13:1-9 . The Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-9 ; Luke 8:4-8 ).

Verse 2

Matthew 13:2 . ὄχλοι πολλοί , great numbers of people in all the accounts, compelling the Teacher to withdraw from the shore into the sea, and, sitting in a boat, to address the people standing on the margin. Much interest, popularity of the Teacher still great, and even growing; yet He has formed a very sober estimate of its value, as the parable following shows.

Verse 3

Matthew 13:3 . ὁ σπείρων : either ὁ generic, or the Sower of my story. τοῦ σπείρειν : the infinitive of purpose with the genitive of article, very frequent in N. T. and in late Greek.

Verse 3

Matthew 13:3 . ὁ σπείρων : either ὁ generic, or the Sower of my story. τοῦ σπείρειν : the infinitive of purpose with the genitive of article, very frequent in N. T. and in late Greek.

Verses 3-9

Matthew 13:3-9 . The Parable .

Verse 4

Matthew 13:4 . παρὰ τὴν ὁδόν : not the highway, of which there were few, but the footpath, of which there were many through or between the fields.

Verse 5

Matthew 13:5 . ἐπὶ τὰ πετρώδη , upon shallow ground, where the rock was near the surface ( οὐκ εἶχεν γῆν πολλήν ).

Verse 6

Matthew 13:6 . ἐκαυματίσθη , it was scorched (by the sun) ( cf. Revelation 16:8 ), which had made it spring earliest: promptly quickened, soon killed.

Verse 7

Matthew 13:7 . ἐπὶ τὰς ἀκάνθας . Fritzsche prefers the reading ἐις because the seed fell not on thorns already sprung up, but on ground full of thorn seeds or roots. But the latter idea, which is the true one, can be expressed also by ἐπὶ . ἀνέβησαν : the thorns sprang up as well as the corn, and growing more vigorously gained the upper hand. ἔπνιξαν . Euthy. Zig. finds this idea in ἀνέβησαν , for which he gives as synonym ὑπερίσχυσαν .

Verse 8

Matthew 13:8 . καλὴν , genuinely good land free from all the faults of the other three: soft, deep, clean. ἐδίδου , yielded. In other texts (Matthew 3:8 ; Matthew 3:10 ; Matthew 7:17 ) ποιεῖν is used. ἑκατόν , ἑξήκοντα , τριάκοντα : all satisfactory; 30 good, 60 better, 100 best (Genesis 26:12 ).

Verse 9

Matthew 13:9 . ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκ . ἀκ . An invitation to think of the hidden meaning, or rather a hint that there was such a meaning. The description of the land in which the sower carried on his operations would present no difficulties to the hearers: the beaten paths, the rocky spots, the thorny patches were all familiar features of the fields in Palestine, and the fate of the seed in each case was in accordance with common experience. But why paint the picture? What is the moral of the story? That Jesus left them to find out.

Verse 10

Matthew 13:10 . διατί ἐν παραβολαῖς : Matthew makes the question refer to the method of teaching, Mark and Luke to the meaning of the parables spoken. The two questions were closely connected, and both doubtless in the minds of the disciples. A more serious difficulty arises in connection with Christ’s answer to their question, which seems to say that He adopted the parabolic method in order to hide the truths of the kingdom from unspiritual minds. Nothing is more certain than that Jesus neither did nor could adopt any such policy, and if the evangelists ascribed it to Him, then we should have no alternative but to agree with those who, like Holtzmann (H. C.) and Jülicher ( Die Gleichnissreden Jesu , pp. 131, 149, vide also his Einleitung in das N. T. , p. 228), maintain that the evangelists have mistaken His meaning, reading intention in the light of result . It is much better to impute a mistake to them than an inhuman purpose to Christ.

Matthew 13:11 . τὰ μυστήρια : the word, as here used, might suggest the idea of a mysterious esoteric doctrine concerning the Kingdom of God to be taught only to a privileged inner circle. But the term in the N. T. means truths once hidden now revealed, made generally known, and in their own nature perfectly intelligible. So, e.g. , in Ephesians 3:9 , Colossians 1:26 . Jesus desired to make the truths of the kingdom of God known to all; by parables if they could not be understood otherwise. His aim was to enlighten, not to mystify.

Verses 10-17

Matthew 13:10-17 . The disciples ask an explanation . There is some difficulty in forming a clear idea of this interlude. Who asked? The Twelve only, or they and others with them, as Mark states (Matthew 4:10 )? And when? Immediately after the parable was spoken, or, as was more likely, after the teaching of the day was over? The one certain point is that an explanation was asked and given.

Verse 12

Matthew 13:12 . his moral apothegm is here given only in Matt. It contains a great truth, whether spoken or not on this occasion. For the construction, vide at Matthew 10:14 . περισσευθήσεται : again in Matthew 25:29 , where the saying is repeated. This use of the passive in a neuter sense belongs to late Greek.

Verse 13

Matthew 13:13 . διὰ τοῦτο ὅτι . Mark and Luke have ἵνα , the former assigning a reason, the latter ascribing a purpose. In Matt. Jesus says: I speak in parables because seeing they do not see, etc.; which ought naturally to mean: they are dull of apprehension, therefore I do my best to enlighten them.

Verses 14-15

Matthew 13:14-15 . he prophetic citation, given as such by Matthew only, may be due to him, though put into the mouth of Jesus. It is conceivable, however, that Jesus might use Isaiah’s words in Isaiah’s spirit, i.e. , ironically, expressing the bitter feeling of one conscious that his best efforts to teach his countrymen would often end in failure, and in his bitterness representing himself as sent to stop ears and blind eyes. Such utterances are not to be taken as deliberate dogmatic teaching. If, as some allege, the evangelists so took them, they failed to understand the mind of the Master. The quotation exactly follows the Sept [80] The verb καμμύω (Matthew 13:15 , ἐκάμμυσαν ) is condemned by Phryn. as barbarous, the right word being καταμύειν .

[80] Septuagint.

Verses 16-17

Matthew 13:16-17 . In Mk. (Mark 4:13 ) Jesus reproaches the disciples for their ignorance; here He congratulates them on their faculty of seeing and hearing (spiritually). ὑμῶν : in emphatic position, suggesting contrast between disciples and the multitude. μακάριοι , vide on chap. Matthew 5:3 . ὅτι βλ ., because, not for what , they see. ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω : introducing an important statement. προφῆται καὶ δίκαιοι , same combination as in Matthew 10:41 . The felicity now consists in the things seen and heard. The perceiving senses and the things to be perceived imply each other, neither by themselves yield enjoyment. This passage is given by Lk. (Luke 10:23-24 ) in a more suitable connection (report on their mission by the Seventy). Here it creates an exaggerated impression as to the extent of the new departure. The parabolic teaching of Jesus, as exemplified in the Sower and other parables here collected, was not an absolutely new feature. He had always been speaking more or less in parables (“Fishers of Men,” Matthew 4:19 ; “Salt of the Earth,” “City on a Hill,” Matthew 5:13-14 ; “Two Builders,” Matthew 7:24-27 ; “Whole need not a Physician,” Matthew 9:12 ; “New Garment and New Wine,” Matthew 9:16-17 , etc.). Some of the parables in this connection, the Treasure and the Pearl , e.g. , may be gems preserved from some otherwise forgotten synagogue discourses, say those delivered in the preaching tour through Galilee.

Verse 18

Matthew 13:18 . ἀκούσατε τ . π .: not, hear it over again, but, what it means. σπείραντος , aorist, of the man who sowed in the story just told.

Verse 18

Matthew 13:18 . ἀκούσατε τ . π .: not, hear it over again, but, what it means. σπείραντος , aorist, of the man who sowed in the story just told.

Verses 18-23

Matthew 13:18-23 . Interpretation of the Sower (Mark 4:14-20 ; Luke 8:11-15 ).

Verse 19

Matthew 13:19 . παντὸς ἀκούοντος , in the case of any one who hears, “for the classical ἐάν τις ἀκούσῃ ” (Camb. G. T.). It may be a case of interrupted construction, the sentence beginning with the intention to make the genitive dependent on an ἐκ τῆς καρδίας before ἁρπάζει (so Weiss). τὸν λόγον τῆς βασιλείας : the Sower , unlike the other parables in this chapter, contains no hint that it concerns the kingdom. But in Christ’s discourses that almost went without saying. μὴ συνιέντος : “not taking it in,” a phrase which happily combines the physical fact of the parable with the figurative sense. ὁ πονηρός , the evil one, Satan, represented by the innocent birds of the parable. What a different use of the emblem from that in Matthew 6:26 ! ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ : we should hardly say of truth not understood that it had been sown in the heart . But heart is used in Scripture in a wide sense, as the seat of intellect as well as of feeling. The word in the case supposed is in the mind, as the seed is in the ground: on it, if not in it; in it as words, if not as truth. οὗτός ἐστιν , etc., this is he sown, etc., said of the man, not of the seed. Sign and thing signified identified, cf. “this is my body”. Properly, the seed sown, etc., represents the case of such a man. So throughout the interpretation.

Verse 20

Matthew 13:20 . μετὰ χαρᾶς λ .: this is the new feature in the second type added to the hearing of the first; hearing and receiving with joy characteristic of quick emotional shallow natures, but not of them only. Deep earnest natures also have joy in truth found, but with a difference.

Verse 21

Matthew 13:21 . οὐκ ἔχει : instead of the participle ἔχων under the influence of Mk.’s text (Weiss). πρόσκαιρος . temporary, cf. 2 Corinthians 4:18 .

Verse 22

Matthew 13:22 . ἀκούων , hearing alone predicated of the third type, but receiving both intellectually and emotionally implied; everything necessary present except purity of heart, singleness of mind. Hearing is to be taken here in a pregnant sense as distinct from the hearing that is no hearing (Matthew 13:13 ). μέριμνα τ . α ., ἀπάτη τ . π .: together = worldliness. Lust for money and care go together and between them spoil many an earnest religious nature. ἄκαρπος may refer cither to the man (Meyer) or to the word ( λόγον just before; Bengel, Weiss); sense the same. There is fruit in this case; the crop does not wither in the blade: it reaches the green ear, but it never ripens.

Verse 23

Matthew 13:23 . ἀκούων καὶ συνιείς . The specific feature of the fourth and alone satisfactory type is not brought out either in Mt. or in Mk. but only in Lk. by his happy phrase: ἐν καρδίᾳ καλῇ καὶ ἀγαθῇ . The third type understands (Mt.) and receives into the heart (Mk.), but the fourth in addition receives into a clean, i.e. , a “good and honest,” heart. ὃς δὴ : δὴ occurs here for the first time in Mt., and only a few times altogether in the N. T., but always with marked expressiveness. According to Passow and Baümlein ( Grammatik , § 669, and Untersuchungen über G. Partikeln , p. 98), connected with δῆλος in origin and meaning, and signifying that the thing stated is clear, specially important, natural in the given circumstances. ὃς δὴ here = who, observe, or of course. Given such conditions, fruitfulness certainly results. καρποφορεῖ , bringeth forth fruit such as is desired: ripe, useful. ὁ in last clause may be pointed either ὁ μὲν , ὁ δὲ (T. R.) or ὃ μὲν , ὃ δὲ (W. H [81] ). In the former case the meaning is: this man brings forth 100 fold, that man, etc.; in the latter, ὃ is accusative neuter after ποιεῖ , and refers to the fruit. Opinion very much divided, sense the same.

[81] Westcott and Hort.

This interpretation of the Sower raises two questions: Was it needed? Does it really explain the parable? which is in effect to ask: Does it proceed from Jesus? As to the former: could not even the general hearer, not to speak of the Twelve, understand the parable well enough? True, no hint that it related to the kingdom was given, but, as already remarked, that might go without saying. Jesus had all along been using similitudes explaining His meaning rather than needing explanation. Then parabolic speech was common even in Rabbinical circles, a source at once of entertainment and of light to hearers. In Mt.’s report the disciples do not even ask an explanation, so that that given comes on us as a surprise (Holtz. in H. C.). Christ’s audience might at least carry away the general impression that He was dissatisfied with the result of His ministry, in many cases in which His teaching seemed to Him like seed cast on unproductive places. It might require further reflection, more than the majority were capable of, to comprehend the reasons of failure. Self-knowledge and observation of character were needed for this. As to the interpretation given, it has been objected (Weiss, Jülicher, etc.) that it is allegorical in method, and that, while going into details as to the various persons and things mentioned in the parable and their import, it fails to give the one main lesson which it, like every parable, is designed to teach; in short, that we cannot see the wood for the trees. As to this it may be remarked: (1) There is a tangible difference between allegory and parable. Allegory and interpretation answer to each other part by part; parable and interpretation answer to each other as wholes. (2) Christ’s parables are for the most part not allegories. (3) It does not follow that none of them can be. Why should the use of allegory be interdicted to Him? May the Sower not be an exception? That it is has been ably argued by Feine in Jahrbücher für Prot. Theologie , 1888, q. v. (4) The exclusion of so-called allegorising interpretation may be carried to a pedantic extreme in connection with all the parables, as it is, indeed, in my opinion, especially by Weiss. Thus we are told that in the saying “the whole need not a physician,” Jesus did not mean to suggest that He was a physician but only to hint the special claims of a class on His attention. But the question may be asked in every case: What was the genesis of the parable? How did it grow in Christ’s mind? The Sower, e.g. ? Was it not built up of likenesses spontaneously suggesting themselves now and then; of Himself to a sower, and of various classes of hearers to different kinds of soil? In that case the “allegorical” interpretation is simply an analysis of the parable into its genetic elements, which, on that view, have more than the merely descriptive value assigned to them by Weiss. (5) As to missing the main lesson amid details: is it not rather given, Eastern fashion, through the details: the preaching of the kingdom not always successful, failure due to the spiritual condition of hearers? That is how we Westerns, in our abstract generalising way, put it. The Orientals conveyed the general through concrete particulars. Jesus did not give an abstract definition of the Fatherhood of God. He defined it by the connections in which He used the title Father. That Jesus talked to His disciples about the various sorts of hearers, their spiritual state, and what they resembled, I think intrinsically likely. It is another question whether His interpretation has been exactly reproduced by any of the Synoptists.

Verses 24-30

Matthew 13:24-30 . The Tares . This parable has some elements in common with that in Mark 4:26-29 , whence the notion of many critics that one of the two has been formed from the other. As to which is the original, opinion is much divided. ( vide Holtz., H. C.) Both , I should say. The resemblance is superficial, the lesson entirely different. The Sower describes past experiences; the Tares is prophetic of a future state of things. But may it not be a creation of apostolic times put into the mouth of Jesus? No, because (1) it is too original and wise, and (2) there were beginnings of the evil described even in Christ’s lifetime. Think of a Judas among the Twelve, whom Jesus treated on the principle laid down in the parable, letting him remain among the disciples till the last crisis. It may have been his presence among the Twelve that suggested the parable.

Matthew 13:24 . παρέθηκεν , again in Matthew 13:31 , usually of food, here of parable as a mental entertainment; used with reference to laws in Exodus 21:1 , Deuteronomy 4:44 . ὡμοιώθη , aorist used proleptically for the future; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:28 . ἀνθρώπῳ , likened to a man , inexactly, for: “to the experience of a man who,” etc., natural in a popular style. σπείραντι , aorist because the seed had been sown when the event of the parable took place. καλὸν , good, genuine, without mixture of other seeds.

Verse 25

Matthew 13:25 . ἐν τῳ καθεύδειν = during the night. α . ὁ ἐχθρὸς , his enemy. Weiss (Matt.-Evang., 347) thinks this feature no part of the original parable, but introduced to correspond with the interpretation (Matthew 13:39 ), no enemy being needed to account for the appearance of the “tares,” which might grow then as now from seed lying dormant in the ground. Christ’s parables usually comply with the requirements of natural probability, but sometimes they have to depart from them to make the parable answer to the spiritual fact; e.g. , when all the invited are represented as refusing to come to the feast (Luke 14:16-24 ). The appearance of the “tares” might be made a preternatural phenomenon out of regard to the perfect purity of the seed, and the great abundance of bad men in a holy society. A few scattered stalks might spring up in a natural way, but whence so many? ἐπέσπειρεν , deliberately sowed over the wheat seed as thickly as if no other seed were there. ζιζάνια = bastard wheat, darnel, lolium temulentum , common in Palestine (Furrer, Wanderungen , p. 293), perhaps a Semitic word. Another name for the plant in Greek is αἷρα (Suidas, Lex.).

Verse 26

Matthew 13:26 . τότε ἐφάνη : not distinguishable in the blade, not till it reached the ear, then easily so by the form, the ear branching out with grains on each twig (Koetsveld, De Gelijk. , p. 25).

Verse 27

Matthew 13:27 . οὐχὶ κ . σ . ἔσπειρας , etc.: the surprise of the work-people arises from the extent of the wild growth, which could not be explained by bad seed (with so careful a master) or natural growth out of an unclean soil. The tares were all over the field.

Verse 28

Matthew 13:28 . ἐχθρὸς ἄν .: an inference from the state of the field fact not otherwise or previously known. θέλειςσυλλέξωμεν , deliberative subjunctive in 1st person with θέλεις , 2nd person; no ἵνα used in such case (Burton, M. and T., § 171). The servants propose to do what was ordinarily done, and is done still ( vide Stanley, Sinai and Palestine , p. 426, and Furrer, Wanderungen , 293: “men, women and children were in many fields engaged in pulling up the weeds,” in which he includes “den Lolch”).

Verse 29

Matthew 13:29 . οὔ , emphatic; laconic “no,” for good reason. μήποτε : the risk is that wheat and “tares” may be uprooted together. ἅμα , with dative ( αὐτοῖς ) but not a preposition, the full phrase is ἅμα σὺν : “at the same time with,” as in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:10 . On this word vide Bos, Ellip. Graee. , p. 463, and Klotz, Devar. , ii. 97. The roots being intertwined, and having a firm hold of the soil, both wheat and tares might be pulled up together.

Verse 30

Matthew 13:30 . Συλλέξατε πρῶτον : before or after cutting down the crop? Not said which; order of procedure immaterial, for now the wheat is ripe . δήσατε εἰς δέσμας ; the εἰς , omitted in some MSS., is not necessary before a noun of same meaning with the verb. Fritzsche thinks the expression without preposition more elegant. Meyer also omits, with appeal to Kühner on verbs with double accusatives. This parable embodies the great principle of bad men being tolerated for the sake of the good. It relegates to the end the judgment which the contemporaries of Jesus, including the Baptist, expected at the beginning of the Messianic kingdom (Weiss-Meyer).

Verse 31

Matthew 13:31 . σινάπεως : from σίναπι , late for νάπν in Attic, which Phryn. recommends to be used instead (Lobeck, 288).

Verses 31-35

Matthew 13:31-35 . The Mustard Seed and the Leaven (Luke 13:18-21 (both); Mark 4:30-32 (Mustard Seed)). A couplet of brief parables of brighter tone than the two already considered, predicting great extensive and intensive development of the Kingdom of God; from Luke’s narrative (Matthew 13:10 ), apparently part of a synagogue discourse. It is intrinsically probable that Jesus in all His addresses in the synagogue and to the people used more or less the parabolic method. To this extent it may be literally true that “without a parable spake He not unto them” (Matthew 13:34 ).

Verse 32

Matthew 13:32 . ὃ , neuter, by attraction of σπερμάτων , instead of ὃν in agreement with κόκκῳ , masculine. μικρότερον , not less perhaps than all the seeds in the world. An American correspondent sent me a sample of the seeds of the cotton tree , which he thinks Christ would have made the basis of His parable had He spoken it in America. μεῖζον τῶν λαχάνων , greater than (all) the herbs . The comparison implies that it too is an herb. There would be no point in the statement that a plant of the nature of a tree grew to be greater than all garden herbs. This excludes the mustard tree, called Salvadora Persica , to which some have thought the parable refers. δένδρον , not in nature but in size; an excusable exaggeration in a popular discourse. Koetsveld remarks on the greatly increased growth attained by a plant springing from a single seed with plenty of room all round it ( De Gelijk. , p. 50). ὥστε here indicates at once tendency and result, large enough to make that possible, and it actually happened. The birds haunted the plant like a tree or shrub. Mark refers only to the possibility (Mark 4:32 ). κατασκηνοῦν ( cf. κατασκηνώσεις , Matthew 8:20 ), not nidulari , to make nests (Erasmus), but to “lodge,” as in A. V [82] The mustard plant is after all of humble size, and gives a very modest idea of the growth of the kingdom. But it serves admirably to express the thought of a growth beyond expectation . Who would expect so tiny a seed to produce such a large herb, a monster in the garden?

[82] Authorised Version.

Verse 33

Matthew 13:33 . ὁμοίαζύμῃ , like in respect of pervasive influence. In Rabbinical theology leaven was used as an emblem of evil desire (Weber, p. 221). Jesus had the courage to use it as an emblem of the best thing in the world, the Kingdom of God coming into the heart of the individual and the community. ἐνέκρυψεν , hid by the process of kneading. ἔως οὒ ἐζυμώθη : ἔως with the indicative, referring to an actual past occurrence.

Both these parables show how thoroughly Jesus was aware that great things grow from minute beginnings. How different His idea of the coming of the kingdom, from the current one of a glorious, mighty empire coming suddenly, full grown! Instead of that a mustard seed, a little leaven!

Verse 34

Matthew 13:34 . χωρὶς παραβολῆς , etc.: if this remark apply to Christ’s popular preaching generally, then the parables reported, like the healing narratives, are only a small selection from a large number, a fragrant posy culled from the flower garden of Christ’s parabolic wisdom. ἐλάλει : imperfect, pointing to a regular practice, not merely to a single occasion.

Verses 34-35

Matthew 13:34-35 contain a reflection more suitable for the close of the collection of parables in this chapter, brought in here apparently because the evangelist has under his eye Mark’s narrative, in which a similar reflection is attached to the parable of the mustard seed (Mark 4:33-34 ).

Verse 35

Matthew 13:35 . rophetic citation from Psalms 78:2 , suggested by παραβολαῖς in Sept [83] , second clause, free translation from Hebrew. ἐρεύξομαι in Sept [84] for הּבִּיעַ in Psalms 19:2 , etc. (not in Psalms 78:2 ), a poetic word in Ionic form, bearing strong, coarse meaning; used in softened sense in Hellenistic Greek. Chief value of this citation: a sign that the parabolic teaching of Jesus, like His healing ministry, was sufficiently outstanding to call for recognition in this way.

[83] Septuagint.

[84] Septuagint.

Verse 36

Matthew 13:36 would seem to imply that the evangelist took these as spoken only to disciples in the house. ut as the Net is closely connected in meaning with the Tares , it is more probable that these parables also are extracts from popular discourses of Jesus, which, like all the others, would gain greatly if seen in their original setting. The Treasure and the Pearl would have their fitting place in a discourse on the kingdom of God as the highest good (Matthew 6:33 ).

Verse 36

Matthew 13:36 would seem to imply that the evangelist took these as spoken only to disciples in the house. ut as the Net is closely connected in meaning with the Tares , it is more probable that these parables also are extracts from popular discourses of Jesus, which, like all the others, would gain greatly if seen in their original setting. The Treasure and the Pearl would have their fitting place in a discourse on the kingdom of God as the highest good (Matthew 6:33 ).

Verses 36-43

Matthew 13:36-43 . Interpretation of the Tares . Not in Apostolic Document; style that of evangelist; misses the point of the parable so Weiss (Matt.-Evang., p. 351). But if there was any private talk between Jesus and the Twelve as to the meaning of His parables, this one was sure to be the subject of conversation. It is more abstruse than the Sower , its lesson deeper, the fact it points to more mysterious. The interpretation given may of course be very freely reproduced.

Verse 37

Matthew 13:37 . ὁ σπείρων : identified here with the Son of man (not so in interpretation of Sower ).

Verse 38

Matthew 13:38 . ὁ κόσμος , the wide world; universalism. σπέρμα , not the word this time, but the children of the kingdom. ζιζάνια , the sons of the wicked one ( τοῦ πονηροῦ , the devil).

Verse 39

Matthew 13:39 . συντέλεια αἰνῶνος , the end of the world; phrase peculiar to this Gospel. θερισταὶ ἄγγελοι . Weiss thinks this borrowed from Matthew 24:31 , and certainly not original. Perhaps not as a dogmatic interpretation, but quite possibly as a poetic suggestion.

Verse 40

Matthew 13:40 . his and the following verses enlarge on the final separation.

Verse 41

Matthew 13:41 . ἀποστελεῖ : cf. chap. Matthew 24:31 . συλλέξουσιν , collect, and so separate. τὰ σκάνδαλα : abstract for concrete; those who create stumbling blocks for others. καὶ , epexegetical, not introducing a distinct class, but explaining how the class already referred to cause others to stumble. ποιοῦντας τ . ἀνομίαν : cf. Matthew 7:23 , where for ποι . stands ἐργαζόμενοι . Has ἀνομίαν here the technical sense of religious libertinism, or the general sense of moral transgression? Assuming the former alternative, some critics find here the sign-mark of a later apostolic time.

Verse 42

Matthew 13:42 . ἐκεῖ ἔσται . etc.: held to be inappropriate here, because the gnashing of teeth is caused by cold , not by fire (Holtz., H. C.); appropriate in Matthew 8:12 , where the doom is rejection into the outer darkness.

Verse 43

Matthew 13:43 . ἐκλάμψουσι : vide Daniel 12:2 , which seems to be in view; an expressive word suggestive of the sun emerging from behind a cloud. The mixture of good and evil men in this world hides the characters of both.

Verse 44

Matthew 13:44 . ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ : the article may be generic, indicating the field as the locality, as distinct from other places where treasures were deposited. ἔκρυψε , he hid once more what some one had previously hidden; the occurrence common, the occasions various. χαρᾶς αὐτοῦ , in his joy rather than through joy over it, as many take the genitive, though both are admissible. The joy natural in a poor peasant; not less so the cunning procedure it inspired; ethically questionable, but parables are not responsible for the morality of their characters. ὐπάγει , πωλεῖ , etc., four historic presents one after the other, in sympathy with the finder, and with lively effect. πάντα ὅσα : all required for the purpose, yet the all might not amount to much: the field minus the treasure of no great value. Worth while, the treasure being a pure gain. The point of the parable is that the kingdom of heaven outweighs in value all else, and that the man who understands this will with pleasure part with all. It helps to show the reasonableness of the sacrifice for the kingdom Jesus demanded.

Verses 44-53

Matthew 13:44-53 . Three other parables: the Treasure, the Pearl, the Net .

Verse 45

Matthew 13:45 . ἐμπόρῳ ζ . κ . μ . A pearl merchant who went to the pearl fisheries to purchase from the divers, of course selecting the best; a connoisseur in valuables.

Verse 46

Matthew 13:46 . πολύτιμον : precious because exceptionally large, well-shaped, and pure; such rare, but met with now and then. ἀπελθὼν : he is taken by surprise, has not as much with him as will purchase it on the spot, sees it is worth his whole stock, agrees to buy and promises to return with the price. πέπρακε , ἠγόρασεν , a perfect with an aorist. Not to be disposed of by saying that the former is an “aoristic” perfect (Burton, § 88). πέπρακε points to a momentous step, taken once for all and having lasting effects. A great venture, a risky speculation. The treasure in the field was a sure gain for the finder, but it remained to be seen what the pearl merchant would get for his one pearl. After the sale of his stock the purchase of the one pearl was a matter of course. In the former of these two parables the Kingdom of Heaven appears as the object of a glad though accidental finding of a sure possession; in the latter as the object of systematic quest and venturesome faith . The difference between seekers and finders must not be exaggerated. The pearl merchant was also a finder. No one would set out on a journey to seek one unique pearl (Koetsveld). The spiritual class he represents are seekers after God and wisdom, finders of the Kingdom of God, of a good beyond their hope. Such seekers, however, are on the sure way to find.

Verses 47-50

Matthew 13:47-50 . The Net . σαγήνῃ , vide on Matthew 4:21 . ἐκ παντὸς γένους συν .: a matter of course, not intended but inevitable; large movements influence all sorts of people.

Verse 48

Matthew 13:48 . καθίσαντες συνέλεξαν : equally a matter of course; a thing to be done deliberately, of which the sitting attitude is an emblem. There is a time for everything; the time for sorting is at the end of the fishing. σαπρὰ , vide on Matthew 7:17 . Matthew 13:49-50 contain the interpretation in much the same terms as in Matthew 13:41-42 .

Verses 51-52

Matthew 13:51-52 . Conclusion of the parabolic collection .

Verse 52

Matthew 13:52 contains an important logion of Jesus preserved by Matthew only, nd connected by him with the parabolic teaching of Jesus. In this connection καινὰ καὶ παλαιά of course points to the use of the old familiar facts of nature to illustrate newly revealed truths of the kingdom. But we should not bind ourselves too strictly to this connection, keeping in mind Matthew’s habit of grouping; all the more that, as Wendt has pointed out ( Die Lehre Jesu , ii. 349), the idea expressed by γραμματεὺς does not get justice. It naturally points to acquaintance with the O. T., and combined with μαθητευθεὶς ε . τ . β . teaches that that knowledge may be usefully united with discipleship in the lore of the kingdom. In Wendt’s words: “One remains in possession of the old, recognised as of permanent value, yet is not restricted to it, but along with it possesses a precious new element”. μαθητεύειν is here used transitively as in Matthew 28:19 , Acts 14:21 . ἐκβάλλει points to free distribution of treasures by the householder. He gives out new or old according to the nature of the article. The mere scribe, Rabbinical in spirit, produces only the old and stale. The disciple of the kingdom, like the Master, is always fresh-minded, yet knows how to value all old spiritual treasures of Holy Writ or Christian tradition.

Verse 53

Matthew 13:53 . μετῆρεν : in classics to transfer something from one place to another. Hellenistic, intransitive = to remove oneself; one of Matthew’s words (Matthew 19:1 ).

Verses 53-58

Matthew 13:53-58 . Visit to Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6 , cf. Luke 4:16-30 ). In Mk. this is the next section after the parables, deducting what had previously been reported in Mt. (chaps. 8 and 9), a pretty sure sign that our evangelist has Mk. under his eye. We can here see how he handles his source substantial reproduction of the contents, no slavish copying of style, editorial discretion in reporting certain details. No attempt should be made to connect with the foregoing passage, except perhaps by the general category of prevalent un-receptivity to which also the following narrative (Matthew 14:1-12 ) may be relegated.

Verse 54

Matthew 13:54 . πατρίδα , in classics fatherland. Here and in parallels evidently = native town, home. Vide Matthew 13:56 and Luke 4:16 . συναγωγῇ , singular, not plural, as in Vulgate. One syn. index of size of town (Grotius). ὤστε , with infinitive: tendency and actual result. They were astonished and said: πόθενδυνάμεις , wisdom and marvellous works; of the latter they had heard, of the former they had had a sample. Whence? that is the question; not from schools, parentage, family, social environment, or mere surroundings and circumstances of any kind.

Verse 55

Matthew 13:55 . ὁ τ . τέκτονος υἱός : Mk. has ὁ τέκτων , which our evangelist avoids; the son of the carpenter , one only in the town, well known to all. ΜαριὰμΙάκωβος , etc., names given of mother and brothers, to show how well they know the whole family. And this other man just come back is simply another of the family whose name happens to be Jesus. Why should He be so different? It is an absurdity, an offence, not to be commonplace. The irritation of the Nazareans is satisfactory evidence of the extraordinary in Jesus.

Verse 57

Matthew 13:57 . roverb, not Jewish merely, but common property of mankind; examples from Greek and Roman authors in Pricaeus and Wetstein, including one from Pindar about fame fading at the family hearth (Olymp. Ode, xii. 3).

Verse 58

Matthew 13:58 . ere also editorial discretion is at work. Mark states that Jesus was not able to work miracles in Nazareth, and that He marvelled at their unbelief. Matthew changes this into a statement that He did few miracles there because of their unbelief, and passes over the marvelling in silence.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Matthew 13". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.