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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 13

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Verses 1-23



Matthew 13:1-23 ; Mark 4:1-25 ; & Luke 8:4-18 . Mark: “And again He began to teach by the sea; and a great multitude were gathered unto Him, so that, entering into a ship, He sat in the sea. The whole multitude was at the sea on the land. And He was teaching them many things in parables. And He said unto them in His teaching, Hear ye! Behold, a sower went out to sow, and it came to pass while he was sowing, some fell by the wayside, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it; and others fell among the rocks, where it had not much earth, and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth; the sun having risen, it was scorched, and because it had no root, it withered away. And other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked it out, and it brought forth no fruit; and others fell in good ground, and springing up brought forth fruit, and produced, some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundred fold. And He said unto them, Let the one having ears to hear, hear.”

Matthew 8:10 : “And His disciples coming said to Him, Wherefore do You speak to them in parables? And He responding, said to them, Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whosoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” How clearly do we see this law of spiritual thrift universally demonstrated in the kingdom of God! The great preachers are not those favored with brilliant precocity in the outset. Adam Clarke, who became the greatest linguist and theologian of his day, is said to have been proverbial for his juvenile stupidity. The brightest saints did not all receive a Pauline conversion nor a Pentecostal sanctification; but utilizing the germ of grace and spark of fire, they have moved on from the tinkling rill to the swelling river, from the potato-hill to the towering mountain. If you do not cultivate the grace given and utilize it for God, it will be taken from you, and given to others who will magnify the Donor. “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing, they see not; hearing, they hear not; neither do they understand;” i.e., they see with their physical eyes and hear with their mortal ears, while their spiritual senses are locked tight in the death of sin. “The prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled unto them, saying, By hearing, ye shall hear, and may not understand; seeing, ye shall see, and may not perceive.” You observe here the contingent tense of these verbs revelatory of grace, which is freely administered by the Holy Spirit to all who will receive it, as He is ever present to open the blind eyes and unstop the deaf ears, soften the stony heart, and quicken the dead spirit into life, thus giving blessed spiritual availability to all who will reciprocate His merciful intervention.

“For the heart of this people has waxed gross, and they hear heavily with their ears, and they have closed their eyes, lest they may see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and turn, and I shall heal them.” (Isaiah 6:9.)

Where E.V. here says “be converted,” the reading is simply “may turn unto Me,” denoting their own spontaneous action, receptive of Divine mercy and spiritual overtures. “Happy are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men desired to see those things which you see, and saw them not; and to hear those things which you hear, and heard them not.” All the prophets, from the days of Abel through the lapse of four thousand years, had hoped and longed to see Jesus come on the earth, but died without the sight. So the saints of the Christian ages have lived and died, longing to see Jesus return in His glory. Shall our faith waver because He tarrieth? God forbid! Mark 4:14 : “The sower soweth the word. Those who are by the wayside, when the word is sown, and when they may hear it, immediately Satan comes, and takes away the word which was sown in their hearts.

And likewise those who were sown upon the rocks are they who, when they may hear the word, immediately with joy receive it. And they have no root in themselves, but are temporary; then tribulation or persecution arising on account of the word, immediately they are offended. And the others, who were sown among the thorns, are they who, hearing the word, and the cares of this age and the deceitfulness of riches and desires concerning remaining things come in, choke out the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And those which were sown in good ground are they who hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth, some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundred fold.” Here, in this notable, beautiful, and exceedingly lucid Parable of the Sower, we have four different sowings the wayside, the stony ground, the thorny ground, and the good ground. You observe the final failure on the part of all the sowings except the good ground. The wayside sowing was all caught away by the fowls of the air, which emblematize demons. Consequently there were no results whatever in their case. O, what a large proportion of popular audiences belongs to this class! The precious truth on which they are dependent for salvation is snatched up by their guardian demons and carried away, the Word going in at one ear and out at the other, leaving them utterly empty and blank; so they get nothing, thus living and dying under the blaze of gospel day, but in practical heathenism, only hastening to a more dreadful damnation than if they had lived and died in Central Africa. The second sowing is among the rocks, where soil is scarce, and the underlying strata near the surface. It is a well-known fact in agriculture that this sort of land warms early under the vernal sun, germinating quickly, giving farmers the first grass in spring and the first vegetables; yet it is the first to wilt under the scorching summer sun, and to feel the heavy tread of an autumnal drought. What is needed to make this land all right? Blow up the rocks, break them to pieces, using the workable for edifices, fences, and roads, burning the fragments into lime to enrich the ground, thus transforming these almost worthless stony hills into fertile fields and blooming gardens. The stony ground here is the superficial convert, who, as Jesus says, “immediately receives the Word with joy;” i.e., is converted easily and quickly, characteristic of the great, sweeping revivals, in which hundreds and thousands are counted, and after a year we scarcely find a corporal’s guard. The trouble is, they are not “rooted and grounded in love.” (Ephesians 3:18.) Hence, when tribulation or persecution rises, they are offended; i.e., they fall away. If the work could move on steadfastly, not giving them time to backslide, till the dynamite of the Holy Ghost blows out and breaks up all the stony strata in the deep interior of the heart, thus sanctifying them wholly and transforming them into “good ground,” they would stand all right. The third sowing is in the thorny ground, which is much better and more hopeful than the stony ground. Thorns indicate rich soil, yet they are awfully obnoxious to the crop, and exceedingly difficult to get rid of, surviving every other indigenous bramble, and even making their appearance after the land has been cultivated a hundred years. We need the long, sharp mattock of entire sanctification to dig them out by the roots, then burn them into ashes, and sow it on the fields to enrich the soil, thus developing it into good ground. Jesus tells us that these thorns are the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and desires appertaining to other things; i.e., things other than the kingdom of God. The thorny ground here gets a much better and deeper work of grace than the stony ground, and is apt to get the victory over the seductive temptations to carnal pleasure and worldly amusement incident to the youth, and go on into the sterner responsibilities of middle life, to find accumulating riches, multiplication of worldly business, social and official aggrandizement, preponderant over the citadel of grace in his heart, ultimately getting the door open wide enough for Satan, with a cohort of carnal and worldly imps, to come in, quench the fire of spiritual devotion, and freeze him into a beautiful iceberg, reflecting the splendor of the polar sun, which shines six months without setting, concentrating the admiration of the whole Church, so they elect him a member of the General Conference, promoting him to honors and emoluments, making him a ruling elder; and, finally, preaching him a glorious funeral sermon, while he is with Dives in hell. The digging necessary to take out all the thorn roots is quite a painful ordeal, while the consuming fire of the Holy Ghost, in His sanctifying Pentecost, by the mere mention, brings stampede into a popular Church, filled up with these thorny-ground backsliders. The fourth sowing is on the good ground. Of course you already know what this good ground is. It is the heart which the Holy Ghost has made good, as none are good by nature. In the Divine estimation, pursuant to the great plan of salvation, the ground is not good till all the rocks and thorns are sanctified out. You see ample provisions are made in the economy of gospel grace to make all the ground good; i.e., sanctify every heart. How can you make the hard, dry, wayside land good? Throw the fence of God’s gracious providence around it, and keep stock from treading on it. The vernal showers will soften it, the freezes loosen it up, till it becomes alluvial. Cast fertilization on it, take out all of the rocks, and grub up all of the thorns; let the plow go down deep, and the harrow do thorough work, and before you are aware, you have good ground. You see in the progress of this parable that, out of the four sowings, only one proves a success. The wayside does not so much as receive the seed till it is devoured by the demons. The stony ground germinates quickly, but utterly withers speedily, terminating in total failure; while the thorny ground not only germinates, but grows up and produces fruit; but Luke says it does not bring it to perfection; i.e., it either rots on the stalk, or after it is gathered, as unripe fruit will not keep. Hence you see that the only hope for the first three sowings is to turn all of the land into good ground i.e., get all hearts sanctified wholly then every sowing will be a success. You here see the wonderful growth in grace peculiar to sanctified people; as in case of the good ground some produce thirty-fold i.e., at the end of life had thirty times as much religion as when they were converted; others, sixty; and others, a hundred i.e., winding up with a hundred times the quantum of regenerating grace. O what an incentive to everybody to come into the good ground i.e., to get sanctified wholly!

“And He said to them, Whether does the light come, that it may be placed under a bushel or under a bed? is it not that it may be placed on a candlestick? for there is nothing hidden which may not be revealed; nor was there anything secret, but that it may come into the light. If any one has ears to hear, let him hear. And He said to them, See what you hear. With what measure you measure, it shall be measured unto you, and shall be added to those who hear. For whosoever may have, shall be given unto him; whosoever has not, it shall be taken from him whatsoever he hath.”

Thus our Lord winds up this beautiful, lucid, and instructive Parable of the Sower with a few pertinent practical remarks. If you would not put your light under a bushel, you must become good ground, and appreciate the wonderful possibilities of accumulation here specified, one gaining thirty, another sixty, and another a hundred fold. His trite maxim about hearing, He also subjoins. To the unspiritual it sounds insignificant, as the multitude were then hearing His voice; yet it is only the spiritually quickened ear that can hear the voice of God that wakes the dead, physical ears only hearing the voice of the man who can not save. We receive the Man Christ, while the God Christ saves us. He also here very pertinently repeats His wonderful law of spiritual thrift. That if we faithfully utilize the gifts and graces He gives us, He will increase them indefinitely; while if we are lazy and unappreciative, He will take them away altogether, giving us a place with the “unprofitable servant.”

Verses 2-4

Matthew 13:2-4 ; Mark 1:40-45 ; & Luke 5:12-16 . Mark: “And a leper comes to Him, calling upon Him, and kneeling down before Him, and saying to Him, If You may wish, You are able to cleanse me. And Jesus being moved with compassion, and reaching forth His hand, touched him, and says to him, I am willing; be thou cleansed.” The Greek for “be thou cleansed,” is katristheti, which is in the imperative mode, passive voice, and aorist tense. Therefore it literally means, “Be thou completely cleansed instantaneously;” “Be thou clean,” E.V., is too weak a translation of the word our Savior spoke.

Luke says this man was “full of leprosy,” in contradistinction to a case of leprosy occupying a part of the body. No wonder he was exceedingly importunate, as he was leprous all over.

“And charging him, He immediately sent him away, and says to him, See that you tell nothing to any one; but go, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them.” The lepers in Palestine still have their separate quarters in the cities, dwelling to themselves, as in the days of Christ. I met them at Shechem and at Jerusalem. The popular idea that the separation is because of the contagion of the disease is utterly incorrect. It is not contagious. If it were, what would become of the priests, who, in the discharge of their official duties, are in constant contact with it? See the law of the leper (Leviticus 14:0), and you will find that when the priest made the examination, and pronounced it leprosy, the victim must go away from society, and live in the leprous quarters. It was well understood among the Jews that leprosy was utterly incurable by human agency. Hence when God, the only Healer, had mercy on the poor leper, he must go to the priest, submit to his diagnosis, and receive from him a certificate of healing, before he was allowed to go into society. While leprosy is not contagious, and not so understood where it is prevalent this day as I came in contact with them, laying a coin on each arm reached forth in supplication, both hands having been eaten off by leprosy yet it is incorrigibly hereditary, from the fact that, like scrofula, it is a blood trouble, affecting every corpuscle of blood in the system, so that it is invariably transmitted to the succeeding generation. Leprosy is a most vivid emblem of inbred sin, which is not necessarily contagious, but inevitably hereditary. Infants born of leprous parents are bright and sprightly, exhibiting no signs of the disease. Yet, soon or late, it is certain to make its appearance, if they do not meet the Healer. So infants born into the world have no actual sin, but have inherited the sinward tendency, which, if not eradicated by grace, will certainly develop into actual transgression. The bite of the rattlesnake when a little thing, soon after evacuating the egg, will not hurt you. But the time will come when he will poison and kill you. While the leprous taint in the blood emblematizes inbred sin in the irresponsible infant, the eruptions on the body represent actual transgressions. e what a striking symbol, not only of inbred sin, but the awful spiritual death which supervenes! You have leprosy in your blood, and feel vigorous and healthy. Before you are aware, it develops on your finger and it drops off; continues its work of destruction till your hand drops off at the wrist. It begins on your face; takes away your nose, and then an eye; reaches your brain, and, fortunately, death comes suddenly to your relief. The reason why the law of Moses required them to live separate was because of the awful loathsomeness of the disease indescribable, horrific, living death! Leprosy, fortunately for us, is not common in America, though I have seen cases of it; but quite common in the Bible lands, where I met them during both of my tours, thus, like everything else in those countries, so wonderfully corroborating the Bible.

“And He, having gone out, began to proclaim everything, and spread abroad the history, so that He was no longer able to come publicly into the city; but was off in desert places, and they continued to come to Him from all parts.” Luke: “But He was away in the deserts, and praying.” Why was Jesus so much opposed to their publishing His mighty works, and why could He not come into the city at this time, but must hide away in the deserts i.e., in an uninhabited region of country? From time immemorial, the Jews had all understood that Christ was to be their King. At that time the nation was in deep distress, because thirty years had elapsed since the death of Herod the Great, and during which they had no king, but had been reduced to a Roman province, and were ruled by a proconsul sent out from Rome, thus their liberties gone and their people subject to the Gentiles. Hence, throughout the Hebrew nation, there was a deep sigh, and a perpetual cry to God to break the Roman yoke, restore to them their independence, and give them a king of Hebrew blood to reign over them. These wonderful miracles, when published abroad, raised the people on tiptoe to crown Him King of the Jews. In that case the Roman authorities would have killed Him before He had completed the work He Came to do.

Hence, in order to prevent His own coronation, and the sudden outbreak of a terrible, bloody war, which would have interrupted His ministry and expedited His death, He found it necessary to avoid the multitude. These intervals, which He spent off in the desert in communion with His Father, were wonderful times of refreshing to His spirit, and invigoration for the arduous work and terrible ordeals which awaited him.

Verses 18-27


Matthew 13:18-27 ; Mark 4:35-41 ; & Luke 8:22-25 ; Luke 9:57-62 . Mark: “And He says to them on that day, it being evening, Let us cross over to the other side. And leaving the multitude, they receive Him, as he was in the ship; and there were many other ships along with Him. And there is a great storm of wind, and the waves poured into the ship, so that it was already sinking.” Matthew says is was covered with the waves, and Luke says they were being filled up and were in danger. The Sea of Galilee, seven hundred feet below the Mediterranean, as a natural consequence of this deep depression, is surrounded by mountains on all sides, except the deep valley through which the Jordan flows from the north and out toward the south. Consequently it is very liable to sudden tornadoes; the atmosphere, pouring down in all directions from the highlands, gets turned about, and develops whirlwinds, which are very dangerous, as it is sixteen and one-half miles long and seven and one-half miles wide, with a coast of seventy-five miles. We were warned by the guidebooks to beware of storms. This we heeded, lighting on the good fortune to get a very valuable boat, which was built last year, in Beyroot, for the especial accommodation of the German emperor. We found it splendid, and, sailing over the sea two days, encountered no storm. “He was lying in the stern, sleeping on a pillow; they arouse Him up, and say to Him, Master, is there no care to Thee that we perish?” Matthew: “And He says to them, Why are ye cowardly, O ye of little faith?” This was a just rebuke; because they might have known that they were in no danger with Him on hoard. This is the secret of perfect love, which always takes Jesus aboard, casting out fear. Mark “And rising, He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, Be quiet!

be calm! And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said to them, Why are ye afraid? How have you not faith? And they feared with great fear, and continued to say to one another, Who then is this, because the wind and the sea obey Him?” This was a most incontestable miracle, commanding the elements of nature, illustrating to all that He had made the sea and the storms, and had nothing to do but speak, and they promptly obey. We sailed over the same route last November, meanwhile we read the account of this storm and the miraculous calm.

Verses 24-53


Matthew 13:24-53 . “He presented to them another parable, saying, The kingdom of the heavens is like unto a man sowing good seed in his field. While the people were asleep, his enemy came, and sowed tares in the midst of the wheat, and went away.” Wheat is the great crop in the Holy Land; there being no American corn there, the term is applied generically to wheat and barley and all cereals. Where the Scripture says “corn and wine,” it means wheat and wine. The tare in that country is a kind of darnel, bastard wheat, which looks precisely like the wheat till the development of the grain reveals the counterfeit. “And when the blade sprang up and produced fruit, then the tares also appeared.” We see that during the growth of the crop, everything looked right, like the wheat in our fields; not so much as a negative suspicion till the grain was formed, and then all could recognize the tares clearly and unmistakably. The application is simple and easy; the counterfeit Church members appear all right externally, and even officially. The test in their case hinges on the fruit problem.

“Therefore being made free from sin, we have our fruit unto sanctification, and the end everlasting life.” (Romans 6:22.)

You see that the fruit is holiness, and here comes the test. If they are not all right on experimental and practical holiness, the fruit is all a failure. A holiness revival in a Church, as a rule, will show up the tares very conspicuously. “The servants of the landlord, having come, said to him, Lord, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? Whence then hath it tares? And he said to them, An inimical man did this. And the servant said to him, Then do you wish, having gone, that we may gather them? And he said, No; lest gathering the tares, you may, along with them, root out the wheat.” This does not mean that we are not to excommunicate wicked, immoral people. Remember, these tares look just like the wheat, except the grain.

So they are not disorderly people, but hypocrites, loyal to the Church, zealous for God, and all right every way, except they lack Holy Ghost religion. Even this they claim; but prove spurious in the spiritual harvest, evincing to the spiritually minded their interior emptiness, especially manifested in a general Holy Ghost and fire revival. “Let them both grow together till the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather my wheat into my barn.” As we see further on, the harvest is the end of the present age, when the great tribulation will gather all the tares, the destruction beginning on the earth, and continuing forever in the regions of woe, followed by the glorious millennium, heaven’s harvest, during which the kingdom of glory will be populated with the millions of earth, the comparatively few, having been saved during the Satanic ages, being the “first-fruits.”

Verses 31-32


Matthew 13:31-32 , & Mark 4:30-32 . “And He said, To what must we liken the kingdom of God? or in what parable may we expound it? It is like a grain of mustard, which, when it may be sown upon the earth, is the smallest of seeds which are upon the earth, and when it may be sown and becomes greater than all the herbs, and produces great branches, so that the fowls of the air are able to lodge under its shadow.” Mark says, “And when it may grow up, it is the greatest of herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the fowls of the air come and lodge in its branches.” Our Savior was speaking on the bank of the Galilean Sea, near Capernaum, where the mustard plant grows spontaneously, very numerous, and quite large, high as a man’s head, with spreading branches, so as to shade the birds, as Mark says, or even bear some of them on its branches. As it is designated an herb, it is highly probable that was the mustard to which our Savior made the allusion. The dragomen who escorted us in that country gave it as their opinion that the herb was really the mustard here used to symbolize the kingdom. It is also a matter of fact that there is a tree in Palestine called “mustard,” from the pungency of the seed, imparting a burning sensation when taken into the mouth, and thus resembling the mustard plant. This tree grows up about thirty feet high, spreading out its branches very copiously, and thus fulfilling the description with reference to the lodgment of the aerial tribes. You will find specimens of this tree at the Fountain Engedi, at the southern terminus of the Dead Sea. (Ezekiel 47:12.) In the Parable of the Sower, which is a part of this same sermon, you see the fowls gathering up the seed sown by the wayside emblematized devils. We see no reason why we should change the application in this parable. While the kingdom of grace, originating in a community from the smallest beginning, will gradually spread throughout the whole country. Fifteen hundred years ago, St. Patrick was carried by kidnapers into Ireland, and sold into slavery, quite in his boyhood. This godly youth preached the gospel, which spread over the entire island. You know how corrupt, superstitious, and priest-ridden Romanism has blighted that country a thousand years. Can you not see how the filthy, destructive fowls of the air- i.e., the demons from the bottomless pit--came and took possession of the gospel-tree, lodging in its branches and devouring the fruit? The gospel is rapidly spreading throughout the whole earth. Yet if you will follow in its track, you will see the air darkened by the black wing of the ravens, devouring the fruit, and polluting the tree by their contaminating touch. The great Churches of the Old World, which numerically throw Protestant America into eclipse, have long ceased to show up a trace of spirituality, having apparently degenerated to the level of mere politico-ecclesiastical institutions.

Verses 33-58



Matthew 13:33 . “He spake another parable to them: The kingdom of the heavens is like unto leaven, which a woman having taken, hid in three measures of meal, until all were leavened.” Leaven is zume, which has no meaning but fermentation, corruption. . . .We have no right to depart from the lexical meaning and the uniform Biblical signification of a word. The point of illustration is its progressive and general dissemination throughout the entire lump in which it is deposited. You must not think that the parables all symbolize the kingdom in all its phases. This is not true.

Hence the number of them, some illustrating one phase, and some another. Of course our fallen Mother Eve is the woman here alluded to, in her common maternity of the whole human race. You must remember humanity took on three distinct varieties in the house of Noah-Shem, the red man, who inherited and populated Asia; Ham, the black man, who received Africa in the distribution of Father Noah’s universal patrimony; and Japheth, the white man, Europe, which has spread out and taken in America. How do you know that the tri-color distinction there originated?

Shem is a Hebrew word, which means red; Ham, black; and Japheth, white. You see how the leaven i.e., depravity by the mother of humanity, was deposited in these three measures of antediluvian meal, which, in Noah’s ark, survived the flood, and O, how it has spread to the ends of the earth! The gospel kingdom is like this leaven in the sense in which God is like the “unjust judge” (Luke 18:0), where the similitude is simply at the point of independency; this leaven of heavenly grace, being more contagious than small-pox, going to the ends of the earth, beautifying the elect and revealing the non-elect, and thus preparing the world for the coming of the Lord. “Jesus spoke all of these things to the multitudes in parables, and without a parable He was not accustomed to speak to them; in order that the word, having been spoken by the prophet, may be fulfilled, I will open my mouth in parables; I will reveal things which have been hidden from the foundation of the world.” (Psalms 78:2.) The Old Testament is the gospel in symbolism i.e., blackboard exercises, spread out extensively and elucidated minutely, accommodatory to an uncultured, semibarbaric people, such as Israel, degraded by two hundred and fifteen years in Egyptian slavery. The Gospels of our Lord are in parables, occupying a much higher grade than the Mosaic typology, an intermediate between the rudimentary teaching of the Old Testament and the clear, straight, positive, and unequivocal, doctrinal, experimental, and practical deliverances of the Holy Ghost in the Acts, Epistles, and Revelation.

“Then leaving the multitudes, Jesus came into the house.” It is highly probable this was Peter’s house in Capernaum, headquarters of the Great Prophet and his apostles. “His disciples came unto Him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. Responding, He said to them, The one sowing the good seed is the Son of man, and the field is the world, and these children of the kingdom are the good seed.” “He is the True Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9 .)

The omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient Excarnate Christ has been in this world from the beginning, sowing the good seed of the kingdom; His children, the elect, always having been here from the days of Abel. “The tares are the sons of the wicked one; the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are the angels. Therefore, as the tares are gathered and burned with fire, so it shall be in the end of this age. The Son of man will send forth His angels, and he will gather out from His kingdom all things which offend and cause iniquity, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous shall shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Here you see that these tares i.e., the hypocrites are the devil’s sort of Christians. They are everywhere in the Churches. We are just to let them alone till the end of the age, when the great tribulation will come upon the world, God hackling out of all nations the unsavable material (Daniel 7:9), when the world will be divested of hypocrites, and infidels, and all others who have grieved away the Holy Spirit and sealed their doom in endless woe. On the resurrection morn, O how brightly will the risen and transfigured saints shine in the kingdom of God! When Satan shall be bound and cast into the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:0), and the reprobates all taken out of the world, thus Satan and his armies retreating before the King of kings and Lord of lords, descending in His glory, accompanied by the mighty host of His bridehood, to girdle the globe with the splendors of the Millennial Theocracy.


“Again, the kingdom of the heavens is like unto a treasure which has been hidden in the field, which a man, having found, concealed, and from his joy goes and sells all things, so many as he has, and purchases that field.” The field here is the Church, which God has made the depository of redeeming grace. I was a member of the visible Church before I was converted, and during my regenerated life an enthusiastic amateur of it. It is the province of the Church to get souls converted to God. The man in this parable is a Church member, perhaps born and reared in it, ignorant of experimental salvation. Somehow he gets an inkling that there is something wonderful and glorious in the Church. Then he turns over all of his resources, soul, mind, body, and estate, and buys this field; i.e., he takes the Church for his portion, becoming truly devoted and exceedingly zealous. Very soon he is enabled to appreciate this treasure, which had been hidden in the field until he recently found out that it was there. O how grateful to the Church, and how enthusiastic and enterprising in her behalf!


“Again, the kingdom of the heavens is like unto a mercantile man, seeking goodly pearls, who, having found one pearl of great price, having gone, sold all things which he had, and purchased it.” Here is another selling out and new embarkation in mercantile enterprise. You must remember that these two are mercantile parables, the salient facts consisting in buying and selling. In the former parable the man had no treasure i.e., he was destitute of a heavenly investment of any kind; so he sold out his carnal chattels and bought the field i.e., the Church for the sake of the treasure hidden in it, only discernible by spiritually-illuminated eyes. Hence they could live and die all around it, and walk over it, and not know it was there. Now we see the man is a merchant i.e., a Christian in the phraseology of the parables. By some means he ascertains that there is on hand a pearl of great price i.e., of infinite value its beauty and brilliancy eclipsing all others. Now he goes and sells out all he has; and you must remember that now be has an infinitely better stock in trade than he had before he bought the field, and found in it the first blessing; but he makes a complete invoice of all, not only his earthly possessions, but the Church, the membership, the choir, the big pipe-organ, the Official Board, the pastor, presiding elder, bishop, and all the Conferences; the Creed, rites, and ceremonies, putting all on the altar, without any reservation, for time and eternity:

“Here I give my all to Thee Friends, and time, and earthly store; Soul and body, Thine to be;

Wholly Thine, for evermore.”

The final issue is, that he purchases the pearl of great price, entire sanctification, which a man does not get through the normal administration of the Church, but, forsaking all, must go to God alone, and sink away into Him.


“Again, the kingdom of the heavens is like unto the net, having been cast into the sea, and gathering from every kind.” This illustrates the kingdom after the similitude of the visible Church. “Which, when it may be filled, drawing it up on the shore, and sitting down, they gathered the good into baskets, but threw the bad away.” We are on the constant outlook for our Lord to appear, and take His saints with Him to glory, and turning over to Satan his due, and leaving them for the great tribulation, exposed to the doom of the ungodly . “So it will be in the end of the age;” i.e., the end of the gospel age, in which we live. “The angels will come forth and separate the wicked from the midst of the righteous; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The gathering of the good into baskets is the rapture. (Matthew 24:31.) Now we see the angels, girdling the globe with the splendor of their pinions.

“A fiery stream issued, and came from before Him; thousands and thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.” (Daniel 7:10.)

This is the pre-millennial judgment by the Ancient of Days, dethroning all the kings of the earth, preparatory to the glorious coronation of His Son King of kings and Lord of lords. Here you see the Ancient of Days is attended by this innumerable host of angels, who are evidently His subordinates in the administration of the retributive judgments against the wicked, thus hackling them out of the world preparatory to the glorious millennial reign.


“Jesus says to them, Do you understand all these things? They say to Him, Yea, Lord. And He said to them, Therefore, every scribe, having been discipled into the kingdom of the heavens, is like unto a man who is a landlord, who bringeth out of his treasure things new and old.”

“Instructed into the kingdom,” E.V., is not a literal translation of matheteutheis, which is the passive aorist participle from nathetes, “a disciple.” Hence it simply means “being discipled;” i.e., being made a disciple. The Commission reads, “Go, disciple all nations.” Hence the only way to become a member of the kingdom of heaven, or kingdom of God, which are precisely synonymous, is to become a disciple of Christ, which requires a genuine regeneration, wrought by the Holy Spirit, leading on to entire sanctification, which is indispensable to the successful perpetuity of that discipleship. This is true of the scribe i.e., the preacher and every other human being. Now what is the characteristic of every one who has become a member of the Lord’s kingdom? He has a treasure in his heart which a world of gold can not purchase. “Out of his treasure he bringeth forth things both new and old.” Now what of the new? Do you not know that the work of the Holy Ghost is always new? Instead of getting old, stale, and dingy, a genuine experience “shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.” So his experience, regeneration and sanctification, is always new. What is old? Why the blessed truth of God. While a spiritual experience is always new, kept bright and sweet by the indwelling Holy Spirit, the doctrine of the Bible is always old, every new doctrine being false. Hence Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” “And it came to pass, when Jesus finished these parables, He departed thence;” i.e., He went away out of Capernaum to embark on the sea.

Verses 54-58



Matthew 13:54-58 , & Mark 6:1-6 . “He went out from thence, and came into His own country [i.e., He went from Capernaum to Nazareth]; and His disciples follow Him; and it being the Sabbath, He began to teach in the synagogue; and many, hearing, were astonished, saying, Whence are these things to Him? and what wisdom is given to Him? Such miracles are performed by His hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary? Is He not the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us? And they became offended in Him. And Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his relatives, and in his own house. And He was not able to do any miracle there, except, laying His hands on a few sick people, He healed them. And He was astonished on account of their unbelief.” Matthew says, “He did not many miracles there on account of their unbelief.” You remember, early in our Lord’s ministry, when He first returned to Nazareth, after receiving the Holy Ghost at the Jordan, and the celestial fire flashing from His eyes, radiating from His countenance, and flaming along His words, interpenetrated the deep-seated carnality in the subterranean chambers of their fallen spirits, burning them intolerably; so they not only reject the truth, but determine to kill the Preacher, superinducing the necessity on His part to turn over humanity to the Divinity or become a martyr at that early day. Now that eighteen months have rolled away, and His mighty works and stupendous revelations have not only filled all Galilee and Judea, but aroused the heathen world from the slumber of four thousand years, turning on Him all eyes; again, actuated by the deep and unutterable love of His native land where He spent nine-tenths of His earthly life, He comes back, and gives them another chance, only to meet such a rebuff and rejection that He never more came back, but left them to settle the matter at the judgment-bar. While they long listened to the wonderful wisdom which flows spontaneously from His mouth, and remember His mighty works at Capernaum, only forty miles distant, and the resurrection of the widow’s son at Nain, only five miles from their own city; while they were astonished, electrified, and even delighted, they can not survive the remembrance, “This is no one but that young carpenter, reared in our midst; the son of a poor mechanic, without education or any extraordinary opportunities; the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon, whom we know so well; and His sisters are living here with us this day.” What was the consequence? They could not brook these facts. And so “they were offended in Him;” i.e., they went back on Him, and could not acquiesce in the conclusion that He is a mighty prophet, sent down from heaven. N.B. He said He “could not do any miracle at Nazareth on account of their unbelief,” involving the legitimate conclusion that human faith is a necessary condition of God’s mighty work, both in the healing of the body and the salvation of the soul. If He had wrought miracles at Nazareth, doubtless His old acquaintances would have believed on Him; and so it is throughout this wicked world, going at race-horse speed to the bottomless pit, but we can not reverse the Divine order. We must believe in order to receive the mighty works of the Omnipotent Christ in behalf of both soul and body. We should not forget our Savior’s maxim, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country.” For this reason we have “go” in the Commission, as well as “preach.” We dare not change the Commission, and stay at home. Myriads of holy men and women, called of God to preach the gospel and save souls, paralyze their energies and bury their talents by staying at home.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Matthew 13". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/matthew-13.html.
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