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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 13

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


That same day. This is just following his first serious confrontation with the Jewish leaders. To the lakeside. Lake Galilee, probably near Capernaum.

Verse 2


The crowd. Luke says that people kept coming to Jesus from one town after another. This may have been the largest crowd he taught,

Verse 3


He used parables. This begins a change in his teaching career. From this time on he taught in parables, using these over and over as he taught different groups of people. A parable is a story, true to nature, told to illustrate a moral or spiritual principle. “You can only learn on the basis of what you already know.” A parable takes familiar things and uses them to teach new facts. There was a man who went out to sow. In that era, farmers lived in villages, and went out into their fields to work. Everyone understood how a farmer would sow grain (He would walk through the field, dipping his hand into a sack of seed, scattering it around him as he walked.)

Verse 4


As he scattered the seed. Jesus explains the meaning of this parable in Matthew 13:18-23. As the man scattered the seed, he could not avoid getting some of it into places not right for it. Along the path. Narrow footpaths crisscrossed the fields. As the seed lay on the hard-packed ground, the birds would eat it.

Verse 5


Rocky ground. Some parts of a field would have only a very thin covering of soil over the rocks. Much of Palestine is very rocky.

Verse 6


It burned the young plants. Not enough soil or moisture to allow them to survive.

Verse 7


Fell among thorns. Palestine has been noted for thorns, thistles, brambles, and thorny-bushes. The plants could not compete with the thorns.

Verse 8


But some seeds fell in good soil. This last soil is the exact opposite of the other. It has all the good qualities needed to grow a good crop. Some had one hundred grains. That is, each “one grain of seed” planted, would produce “one hundred grains of seed” in the harvest. In Luke’s record, it is all “one hundred grains,” while Matthew and Mark list “sixty grains” and “thirty grains” as well. This is not important, as the same parable was told many times. “Thirty grains” would be a very good crop.

Verse 9


Listen, then. Those who hear this are to learn the lesson which it teaches.

Verse 10


Why do you use parables? Jesus had not used this method of teaching before.

Verse 11


Has been given to you. Spiritual training is required to be able to understand spiritual truth (see 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Corinthians 2:14).

Verse 12


Will be given more. Those who have made some progress, will find still more. Jesus repeated this principle in the Parable of the Three Servants (Matthew 25:29). Will have taken away. Those who do not have a great desire to please God (Matthew 5:6), will lose their ability to respond to God. An opportunity—UNUSED—turns into a punishment.

Verse 13


The reason that I use parables. This is said about those who are satisfied to be spiritually ignorant (such as those in Matthew 12:38). No one will find Truth who does not actively search for it.

Verses 14-15


So the prophecy of Isaiah comes true. Isaiah 6:9-10. Isaiah sees the spiritual apathy of the people—which describes conditions in Christ’s time. Those whom God cannot convince, he confuses (see 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).

Verse 16


How fortunate you are! Compare Matthew 16:17. They allowed God to teach them the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven.

Verse 17


Wanted very much to see what you see. The ancient people had yearned to see the Messiah, but the time was not fulfilled while they were alive. God’s Plan had to remain secret until Jesus came (1 Corinthians 2:7-10).

Verses 18-23


Listen, then, and learn. Jesus tells them plainly the meaning of the parable about the Sower. Christ (and the messianic community) is the sower. Luke says the seed is the word of God (the Good News about the Kingdom—see Matthew 16:18-19). Note that in each case, the seed is the same, and it is the soil that makes the difference. The soil symbolizes the reaction of the one who hears. The Path. This person is “Too hard” because of: sin, indifference, prejudice, false teaching, etc. The Rocky Soil. This person has no strong conviction of belief: not really committed to Christ, and therefore unwilling to “pay the price” to follow Jesus (Luke 14:27). Soil with Thorns on it. This person is committed to Jesus, but is so busy with the worries of this life (1 John 2:15-17), the love for riches (1 Timothy 6:7-10), and pleasures, that the seed of the word is choked out. The Good Soil. This person finds new life in Jesus, and give him the highest priority of importance (Matthew 10:37-39). This person loves the Truth and works to honor Christ and God (1 Corinthians 15:58). Matthew mentions three levels of “fruit bearing,” but all will receive the same gift of Eternal Life (Compare Matthew 20:1-16). To us TODAY: scatter the seed of the Word so the soil will have its chance to react and show what type ti is.

Verse 24


Jesus told them another parable. Jesus used a series of parables to tell and explain the characteristics of the Kingdom. In this parable, the Kingdom of heaven is the man who sowed good seed. Good seed. The message about the Kingdom (Matthew 13:19). The Kingdom (people) do what the sower does in this parable. It sows the good seed. His field. Not the Kingdom/church. It is the place where the good seed is sowed. The field is the world (Matthew 13:38).

Verse 25


One night. Many people hide their actions under the cover of night. An enemy. This enemy sowed weed seed in the field of wheat, with the idea of causing harm to the man who sowed the good seed. The weeds were “darnel,” and looked just like wheat while they were growing together.

Verse 26


Then the weeds showed up. No heads of grain would form on the weeds, so they identify themselves.

Verses 27-28


Where did the weeds come from? Certainly not from the good seed that was planted. Just as the people of the Kingdom sow good seed, there are those who belong to the Evil One who sow the weed seed. Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds? Since the field is the world, this cannot speak of “church discipline.”

Verse 29


You might pull up. The wheat and the seeds grew so close together that you could not pull one without damaging the other.

Verse 30


Let the wheat and the weeds both grow together. When the harvest time comes, the separation can be easily done. For the application of this parable, see notes on Matthew 13:36-43. Compare Matthew 24:37-42.

Verse 31


The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. Here the Kingdom is the seed. The round mustard seed was the smallest seed planted.

Verse 32


But when it grows up. It grew to as much as ten feet high. The Kingdom of heaven was to begin small, then grow to include many crowds of people (see Acts 15:14-18 : Revelation 7:9-10).

Verse 33


The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast. Here the Kingdom is the yeast. A small amount of “old dough” was kept in a jar as a “starter.” This was mixed with the flour as we use yeast today, to make it rise. Just a small pinch of yeast would spread throughout the whole bushel of flour, This is how the Kingdom/church is active in the world. (Kingdom/church—see Matthew 16:18-19.)

Verse 34


Jesus used parables. See Matthew 13:3.

Verse 35


To make come true. Matthew paraphrases Psalms 78:2. The “things unknown” means the Good News of Jesus and his Kingdom (See 1 Corinthians 2:9; Revelation 5:7-10).

Verses 36-43


Tell us what the parable of the weeds in the field means. This parable is in Matthew 13:24-30. (1) The Kingdom is compared to the man who sows. (2) The man is the Son of God—Jesus himself. [Son of Man—see Luke 22:69-70] Jesus sows by “proxy” through his Kingdom. (3) The good seed is the people who belong to the Kingdom (those who have accepted the message about the Kingdom—the Gospel). (4) The field is the world. It is Christ’s field. He has full authority both in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 28:18). (5) The harvest is the end of the world, when separation will be done (compare Matthew 25:31-46). (6) The weeds are not bad Christians, but bad people who would not believe the message of the Kingdom, and who have been under the influence of the Evil One. (7) Both good and bad people are mixed together in the world and their lives are intertwined until the time of separation. (8) Kingdom in Matthew 13:41 includes all the world. (9) Father’s Kingdom speaks of Eternity, after Jesus gives back the Kingdom to the Father (see 1 Corinthians 15:28).

Verse 44


Is like a treasure hidden. People then would bury things of value to keep them safe. This parable teaches the immense value of the message about the Kingdom [the Gospel]. One who finds this will give up everything to make it his!

Verses 45-46


The Kingdom of heaven is like a buyer. Pearls were extremely valuable. When he finds one unusually fine, he sells everything to be able to buy it. The treasure of Matthew 13:44 was found by accident, while the pearl was “looked for.” Yet both parables illustrate the attitude which “searches out” God and wisdom. Eternal life is worth any price! Jesus produced the treasure that we search to find (Romans 5:17).

Verses 47-50


The Kingdom of heaven is like a net. All kinds of people will be in the messianic community, which is the Kingdom/church on earth. No attempt to sort them out will be done now. But, when time ends, the angels will be sent to separate the good from the bad. The evil people are thrown into the furnace—symbolic of eternal punishment for those who have not escaped through trusting Christ (see Matthew 8:12).

Verses 51-52


Every teacher of the Law. A teacher of the Law would study Jesus in the context of the Old Testament. He would bring out old truths which come true in Jesus and his Kingdom. See Matthew 13:35.

Verses 53-54


And went back to his home town. Nazareth. He taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath (Mark 6:2). Where did he get such wisdom? Sarcasm (see Matthew 13:58).

Verses 55-56


Isn’t he! Joseph was his legal father [the Holy Spirit was his real father]. Brothers and sisters (see note on John 2:12).

Verse 57


And so they rejected him. They thought they knew both he and his family. So they rejected his claims without closely studying them. Familiar things often fail to impress us.

Verse 58


He did not. Miracles would not impress these people, because they had already decided not to believe.

The SYNAGOGUE was like the CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION. Wherever ten Jews lived in the same area, it was their duty to form a synagogue. This name was also applied to the building in which they met every Sabbath [Saturday] for their public worship. The building was used as a social center and as a school for Jewish children during the week. In their worship, a reader would read a set lesson from the Old Testament Scriptures, and after the reading and prayers, any Jewish teacher could speak to them. Jesus, and later Paul and others, often used the synagogue as a place to teach the Good News. [They often went first to the synagogue in a new town.]

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Matthew 13". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/matthew-13.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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