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Seaside ; the sea of Galilee.
Ship ; a small vessel or fishing-boat
Parables ; the parables of Christ were descriptions of natural things, for the purpose of illustrating spiritual things. The seven parables recorded in this chapter all relate to the kingdom of heaven among men. See note on Chap Matthew 3:2 . They are both illustrations of its nature and prophecies of its progress.
Wayside ; where the ground was not ploughed, and the seed sown not covered. Careless hearers receive no benefit from the word of truth, though it be preached ever so faithfully.
Stony places ; where the rocks were but slightly covered with earth. To be savingly benefited by the preaching of the gospel, it is not enough that persons admit its truths, that their feelings are excited, that they are greatly distressed on account of sin, or that they have a hope of salvation, and are exceedingly joyful. They must take Christ for their teacher and pattern; must trust in him for salvation; and whatever it may cost them, must perserve in obeying him to the end.
Because they had no root ; the roots could not go down deep enough to obtain the moisture needful for their growth.
Thorns ; parts of the field which had not been cleared.
Choked ; so shaded and exhausted in the ground as to prevent the grain from yielding increase. Supreme devotion to this world, whatever by a man’s feelings and conduct in other respects, will prevent all saving efficacy of the gospel; and as long as it is continued, will exclude from the soul the love of God. 1 John 2:15 .
Good Ground ; rich soil, and well prepared. Notice the gradation in respect to these four kinds of soil. In the first, the seed perishes without even springing up; in the second, it springs up, but withers away; in the third, it springs up and bears fruit, but not to perfection; in the fourth, it yields a harvest of perfect grain.
Why speakest thou-in parables? the question shows that this was the first time he had addressed the multitudes in this manner. Compare with this chapter the sermon on the mount, in which there are only similitudes intermingled with plain address.
You ; his disciples, who loved him and desired to understand his teaching.
The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven ; the deep truths respecting the dispensation of the gospel, which had not before been revealed, or were revealed only in part, and which Christ opened plainly to his disciples.
To them ; to the multitudes without the circle of his disciples.
Is not given ; to know these mysteries. The hinderance to their receiving this knowledge is stated in verse Matthew 13:13 .
Hath ; hath some knowledge of these mysteries.
Shall be given ; more knowledge. It is a practical knowledge of which the Saviour speaks, implying love towards him, and a desire to understand the truths which he taught.
Hath not ; hath not knowledge, because he hath neither love towards me nor desire to know my truth.
Even that he hath ; his present opportunities and privileges for knowing the truth. The Saviour here lays down a general principle of deep and solemn import, which all who hope to be saved would do well to ponder in their hearts. The way to have more light and grace is to make a diligent improvement of what is now granted to us.
Seeing , see not ; have faculties and opportunities, but do not rightly use them; of course do not understand the truths which they do not desire to know. The ignorance, dulness, and prejudices which come from such a wrong state of heart, made it proper that the Saviour should veil his instructions in parables, which the careless and indifferent would neglect, but the earnest and humble would search into and understand.
In them is fulfilled ; the language of Isaiah is a description of their case. Isaiah 6:9-10 .
Not perceive ; not perceive the spiritual meaning of his words, because, as expressed in the next verse, they shut their eyes against the light. They were not converted, and not saved, as they might have been, had they loved the truth and desired to know it.
They see-they hear ; with good effect. They loved the truth and desired to know it, and to them a knowledge of it was communicated.
Things which ye see-hear ; things done by the Messiah, and truths taught by him.
The parable ; understand the meaning of it. It represents four classes of hearers: the thoughtless, the fickle, the worldly, and the truly pious.
The word of the kingdom ; the truths of the gospel.
Understandeth if not ; because he does not properly attend to it. This represents thoughtless, careless, and stupid hearers.
Anon ; immediately; and as we are elsewhere taught, without either understanding or counting the cost of Christ’s service. Compare Luke 14:25-33 .
Root in himself ; true Christian principle.
Offended ; discouraged, loses the interest which he once felt in the gospel, and turns back. This represents the fickle: persons of quick feelings, easily excited, and who for a time appear to be much engaged. But they are unstable, easily turned aside by difficulties, and so give up, and become more hardened than before.
Unfruitful ; destitute of good works. He does not live a life of piety towards God, and of beneficence towards men. This represents the worldly-minded man, who is so occupied with the things of time, that he has no heart to attend to the salvation of his soul, or the souls of his fellow-men.
Beareth fruit ; he receives the truth into the heart, and acts under its abiding influence. This represents the pious, the friends of God and men. They are all useful, but some more so than others. These truths, as to the various effects of the gospel, it was important that his disciples, who were to be preachers of it, should understand. They desired to understand them, and to them the understanding of them was given; while to his opposers, who did not wish to understand them, it was not given.
The kingdom of heaven is likened ; the kingdom of heaven, here the visible church of Christ, is likened to a field in which the owner sows good seed, etc.
Good seed ; clean wheat, representing the truths of the gospel, and those who embrace them.
Tares ; not our American tares, but a species of darnel bearing poisonous seeds, and having, before it comes to a head, a near resemblance to the stalks of wheat and barley. In places where Christ, by his ministers, communicates his truth, Satan and his agents will disseminate errors; and such is the state of the human heart, that they will, without cultivation, take root, spring up, and bring forth evil fruit. Men are therefore bound to take heed what they hear, as well as how they hear; for their adversary the devil goeth about, not only as a roaring lion, but also as an angel of light, seeking, in various ways, to destroy the souls of men.
Brought forth fruit ; when the fruit began to grow. By their principles and conduct, the difference between those who embrace the gospel and those who embrace opposite errors, is seen.
Gather them up ; by the process of weeding common in that country.
Root up also the wheat ; on account of their resemblance and connection with each other. Men cannot in this world separate entirely the wicked from the righteous, or with certainty judge as to the characters of men. That must be left to the Searcher of hearts, and to the decisions of the day of judgment.
Harvest ; the day of judgment.
Reapers ; the angels.
Tares ; the wicked.
Wheat ; the righteous. Ver Matthew 13:49-50 .
Another parable ; this parable represents the progress which the gospel would make. From small beginnings it would increase, and its influence become extensive and powerful.
A tree ; in that country the mustard grows much larger than it does in this.
Leaven ; leaven is all-pervading and powerful. Though silent and hidden, it soon affects the whole mass. So would divine truth be, in its influence on individuals and on communities.
Without a parable spake he not ; see note on ver Matthew 13:13 .
The prophet ; Psalms 78:2 . The history of ancient Israel which the psalmist recounts was typical of the higher mysteries of Christ’s kingdom, as the apostle Paul expressly teaches. 1 Corinthians 10:11 .
Son of man ; meaning himself, dispensing truth either personally or by his servants.
The field is the world ; for by the appointment of Christ the good seed of the gospel is to be sown among all nations, so that the visible church shall be coextensive with the world.
Children of the kingdom ; children of God not in name alone, but in reality.
Children of the wicked one ; of Satan, though they be found among Christ’s visible followers.
Righteous ; the same as "the children of the kingdom," those who have believed and obeyed the gospel.
Shine forth as the sun ; be inexpressibly glorious in heaven.
Ears to hear ; let all who have ears hear and believe, and so act that they may escape the wailing of the wicked, and enjoy the glory of the righteous.
Buyeth that field ; that, by obtaining possession of the field, he may obtain possession of the treasure in it. He who rightly estimates the value of his soul, will make its salvation his chief concern, and give up whatever prevents his obtaining it.
A net-cast into the sea ; the sea is the world, and the net is the gospel with its ministers and ordinances. This parable has a close relation to that of the tares in the field. It shows the mixture of good and evil which will always exist in the visible church on earth. We should not be discouraged on account of the mixture of evil with good in God’s church; for it has always been so, and will be so to the end of time.
It can be of no avail to any man to be a member of Christ’s visible church, unless he have also the character of a Christian.
Every scribe ; in allusion to the office of the Jewish scribes, which was to teach the law of Moses, Christ names those whom he calls to be teachers in the kingdom of heaven scribes.
Instructed ; trained and furnished as he should be. Ministers of the gospel should be always learning, not merely of men, but of God. They should also be habitually communicating, not merely what they learned years ago, but what they have lately learned, things new as well as old, that these truths may have in their own minds and the minds of others the freshness and beauty, the vigor and force of youth.
His own country ; Nazareth. Chap Matthew 2:23 .
Carpenter’s son ; Joseph, his reputed father, was a carpenter.
These things ; wisdom to teach in such an interesting and instructive manner, and power to work miracles.
Offended ; at his humble birth and indigent circumstances. They were too proud to receive him as their teacher.
In his own house ; a man often has less influence with those among whom he spent his childhood than with others. To judge of persons by their wealth, or that of their relatives, or by any merely external distinctions, and not by their character and conduct, is evidence of a little mind, and of a proud heart.
Unbelief ; as they rejected him, and disbelieved his Messiahship, notwithstanding all his miracles, he left them and departed to another place.
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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Matthew 13". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20