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This chapter brings to us a new revelation in connection with the presentation of kingdom truth. We have seen in the preceding chapter how the leaders of the people of Israel crossed the deadline and refused the proffered kingdom by deliberately discrediting all the credentials of the King. They attributed His power (which they could not deny) to Beelzebub, and so committed the sin against the Holy Spirit for which there could be no forgiveness, either in that age or in the age to come. This resulted eventually in the setting aside, for the time being, of Israel nationally and the introduction of a new order of things that God had foreseen from eternity, but which had not been declared hitherto. In its fullness this involved the revelation of the mystery of the church as one body called out from Jews and Gentiles which the time had not come to unfold. But as preliminary to that Jesus spoke of other mysteries which had been kept secret from the foundation of the world, the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.
From this point on in Matthew’s gospel, the term “the kingdom of the heavens” refers specifically, not to the final establishment of the kingdom of God over all the earth, but to the mysterious, or rather, mystical form in which that kingdom was to be manifested after the King Himself had returned to heaven, and until His second advent in power and glory to root out of His kingdom all offences and destroy all who work iniquity.
Of this we have an outline in our present chapter. In these parables our Lord set forth the condition which He saw the kingdom would take on earth as a result of His rejection. This was all foreknown to God and provision was made for it. Christ, refused by the leaders of the nation of Israel, made propitiation for sin by His sacrificial death upon the cross (Acts 2:23; 1 John 4:10), and then, as the rejected Man, left this scene, ascending to heaven, where He sits exalted at God’s right hand. The kingdom of the prophets is in abeyance until His promised return to build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down (Acts 15:16); but during His personal absence the Holy Spirit has come in a new way as the Comforter, to enable His servants to preach the Word in convicting power 0ohn 16:7-11). Wherever the gospel is carried, it is the seed of the kingdom (Luke 8:11). As a result we see in the world today a great body of people who recognize in the Lord Jesus earth’s rightful King and give Him heart allegiance. There are millions more who give Him lip service and in an outward way own His authority, though their hearts are far from Him. These together constitute the kingdom in its mystical form (v. 11).
The kingdom promised to Israel by the prophets depended upon the reception of the King by the chosen nation. In rejecting Him, they lost their opportunity, and so the kingdom was taken from them (Matthew 21:43). When they turn to the Lord, He will appear in glory, and all things that are written concerning the kingdom will be fulfilled. In the meantime, as the Word of the kingdom is proclaimed, there will arise a mixed group who profess to own the authority of the Lord Jesus. These constitute the kingdom in mystery. It is a wider sphere than the church, inasmuch as it includes both true and false professors. The separation of the two groups will take place at the end of the age, after which the kingdom of the Son of Man will be established over all the earth.
The seven parables may be designated as follows:
1. The seed of the kingdom sown in the earth and its results.
2. Satanic imitation: the tares among the wheat.
3. The kingdom as a great world church harboring evil as well as good.
4. The false church inserting the leaven of corrupt teaching into the food of God’s people.
5. Israel, God’s peculiar treasure, purchased with the world but hidden among the nations during the present age.
6. The church the pearl for which the Lord impoverished Himself (2 Corinthians 8:9).
7. The condition of things at the end of the age.
With this outline in mind, let us examine each parable separately. Notice that the series is divided into four, which were spoken in the open air by the seaside, and three, which were given to the disciples only, after they had entered into the house.
The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (vv. 1-9)
The first of this septenary series of parables is not spoken of as a likeness of the kingdom, as in the case of the other six. But when the Lord explained the parable to His disciples He said it was given to them to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, thus definitely identifying the sowing of the Word with the spreading of the kingdom, in its secret or mystical form, through the world. In verse 1 the Lord’s action (He “went… out of the house, and sat by the sea side”) seems to be parabolic. This, in itself, appears to indicate the break with Israel which we have already intimated.
Multitudes gathered about Him, however, pressing closely to the water. He entered into a ship, probably Peter’s fishing boat, which Luke tells us was once so used (Luke 5:3), and from this as a pulpit He addressed the multitudes standing on the shore. The hills at this particular locality rise gently from the shore, thus making a natural open-air arena or theater, where the voice would carry easily to great throngs standing on the shore or sitting on the hillside.
“Behold, a sower went forth to sow.” The sower in the first instance was the Lord Himself. He went from place to place sowing the seed of the Word of God. It should be a matter of encouragement to all those who engage in the same blessed occupation that even when the divine preacher Himself was ministering the Word the proportion was only one out of four in whose heart fruit resulted from the Word that was sown; even then there were different degrees as to the amount of fruit produced.
In verses 4-7 we read of the nonproductive soil upon which the seed fell- the trampled wayside where the fowls of the air devoured the seed almost as rapidly as it was strewn. Then the stony ground where at first it looked as though there would be fruit because the seed appeared to take root, and the green sprouts came up only to be parched by the sun, to the disappointment of the sower. Other seed fell among thorns, which soon choked the tender shoots so that there was no fruit whatever.
That which fell into good ground took root, sprang up, and fructified, some producing one hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold. This was the parable. For the moment, the Lord made no application, but left it for His hearers to weigh His words as He exclaimed, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
When opportunity arose and the multitudes had gone, the disciples came to Jesus asking for an explanation of the parable. This He gave them.
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: for this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them: and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for awhile: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word: and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty, (vv. 10-23)
To those who trusted Him and set value upon His words the Lord was ready always to explain anything which seemed difficult for them to apprehend. In response to the question, “Why speaketh thou unto them in parables?” Jesus replied at once, “It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” The word mysteries as here used does not necessarily mean something mysterious and, therefore, difficult to understand, but rather secrets which are revealed only to initiates. The Lord was ever ready to take into His confidence earnest seekers after the truth.
He used the parabolic form for a double purpose. He desired to test His hearers, as to whether they really desired to know the mind of God or not, and also to illumine His discourses. Where people already had faith and had accepted His testimony up to a certain point, He was prepared to give more; but where there was no real confidence in His message, they would become more bewildered by the parabolic form of instruction than if He had spoken in plain language. Some have quibbled over this, as though it indicated on the part of the Lord Jesus a deliberate intention to blind the eyes and close the ears of those who listened to His words. It was really the very opposite. Those who are anxious to know the truth would come to Him as the disciples would, asking for an explanation of what was beyond their comprehension. Those who were unexercised and indifferent would turn carelessly away and become even more unconcerned, because of not understanding the meaning of His illustrations. Jesus quoted from the prophecy of Isaiah (6:9-10) in which this very method was predicted.
It was never God’s desire to harden anyone’s heart or to close anyone’s eyes against the truth, but it is a principle that runs throughout the Word of God that the truth either softens or hardens. The very same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay, so the very same gospel message that breaks down honest hearts and leads to repentance hardens the hearts of the dishonest and confirms them in their path of disobedience.
Jesus pronounced a blessing upon the apostles, because they had eyes to see and ears to hear. Theirs was a place of peculiar privilege. Throughout the centuries, many prophets and righteous men had looked forward in faith to Messiah’s coming, and had longed to see what the followers of Jesus were then seeing and hear such teaching as that which He was giving, but this had been denied them. The Lord then proceeded to explain the parable. “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom,” He said, “and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.” This is the explanation of the seed scattered on the wayside, only to be devoured by the fowls of the air. Note that the message is called distinctly “the word of the kingdom,” making it clear that it is by sowing the Word that the kingdom makes its way through the world. Satan and his emissaries are ever busy trying to annul the effect of gospel preaching. It is their sinister aim to fill the hearts and minds of the hearers with prejudice and unreasonable opposition so that they do not fairly weigh the message as it comes from the preachers lips, thus there is no favorable response whatever. The Word heard with the outer ear only is soon forgotten.
In vivid contrast with these utterly indifferent ones we have next the stony-ground hearers. These represent those exuberant people who are ever ready to take up with almost any kind of religious propaganda to listen to the proclamation of the gospel and its clearness without any depth of conviction or evidence of repentance. They profess faith in the Word, apparently receiving it joyfully, but because there is no root in them, nothing but an empty profession, they soon fall away, particularly when they find that the Christian way of life entails tribulation and persecution.
The stony-ground hearers are those who are also seen at first to accept the message, but have never really counted the cost of faith in Christ. They are not characterized by the single eye but are double-minded, occupied with the cares of this world and seeking after wealth. The temporal responsibilities connected with these things choke the Word, and so there is no fruit.
In contrast with all these others we have the good-ground hearers where the soil has been prepared by the plowshare of conviction. The Word falling into an honest heart is received in faith, and the message is understood as the Holy Spirit opens it up. The result is that the soul is born again, and the life becomes fruitful for God. There are degrees of fruitfulness, however. All do not give the same evidence of devotion to Christ and appreciation of the truth, and so the Lord speaks of those who bring forth some an hundredfold, others sixtyfold, and others only thirtyfold.
The second parable is definitely said to be a likeness of the kingdom of heaven. What we have pointed out already is very evident here: the kingdom of heaven is not heaven itself, neither is it, as used in this part of Matthew’s gospel, to be confounded with the coming glorious kingdom of our God and His Christ when all the world will be subjected to Jesus as King. It speaks of a mixed condition of things, such as has prevailed in Christendom ever since the beginning of the present age.
Tares, which are the children of the evil one, are mingled with the wheat, the children of God.
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (vv. 24-30)
This parable is also explained farther on in the chapter. We now need only to take note of the fact that the Lord was portraying a state of things in which professors and true believers would be found together. The great difference between the two is that those who are genuine bring forth fruit, whereas the others are without fruit and even are hurtful rather than helpful. The tares themselves are actually poisonous instead of being good for food. “His enemy,” Jesus says, “came and sowed tares.” That enemy, we know, is the Devil. But when the servants of the householder came asking if they should root up the tares, the answer was in the negative. Not until the time of harvest would the great separation take place.
The third parable is that of the mustard seed:
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof, (vv. 31-32)
We are not to understand from our Lord’s words that the mustard seed is the most infinitesimal of all seeds in the entire vegetable kingdom, but it is the least of all the seeds of the garden herbs; yet when it is grown it becomes the greatest of all the herbs, towering over all the rest, so that it forms a place of shelter. The parable was not explained so far as the record goes, but it is easy to understand it in the light of other Scripture passages. It speaks of the development of the kingdom of heaven into a great world power. Such dominions were frequently likened to large trees with spreading branches, as in the case of Babylon (Daniel 4:0); the Assyrian (Ezekiel 31:3), and other similar powers. So that which began as a field of wheat developed, in the course of centuries, into the mustard tree. The professing church of God became a power to be reckoned with among the nations, but its branches sheltered all kinds of false professors and evil teachers. The birds of the air represent the hosts of evil, and these lodge in the branches of the mustard tree. It is a most graphic picture of what Christendom became throughout the course of centuries when the false church seemed to dominate the world.
One other parable was spoken by the Lord as He sat by the seaside. It is that of the leaven hidden in the meal. Perhaps of all the teachings of the Lord nothing has been more misunderstood than this. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”
The general idea among Christians is that the woman here represents the church; the three measures of meal, the world; the leaven, the gospel-as a result of which the whole world will be converted eventually. Nothing could be more contrary to the teaching of the Word of God than this. It is a solemn fact that after nearly twenty centuries of gospel preaching there are more unbelievers in the world today than there were when Christ commissioned the apostles to go forth and evangelize the nations. Scripture nowhere warrants us to expect to see a converted world before the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In order to understand this parable one needs to inquire as to the meaning of leaven. Throughout the Word of God leaven is used always in an evil sense. Of old the people of Israel were to put all leaven out of their houses during the Passover season, and the apostle Paul explains this when he says, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). Leaven, then, speaks of malice and wickedness, and the Christian is to put this out of his life. The Lord Jesus warned His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy and self-righteousness; the leaven of the Sadducees, which is false doctrine and materialism; and the leaven of Herod, which is worldliness and political corruption.
In the book of Leviticus (chap. 2) we have the meal offering in which there was to be no leaven. This represents our Lord Jesus Christ’s humanity, which was absolutely without sin. In the parable the woman is surreptitiously hiding the leaven in the meal offering. The three measures of meal certainly do not represent the world, but rather the truth of God concerning His Son. The woman is not the church, as such, but is the false church-that woman, Jezebel, of whom we read in Revelation 2:20, who calls herself a prophetess and teaches the servants of God unholy principles that are subversive of the faith. Is not this exactly what has been taking place during the past almost two millennia of church history? “The mystery of iniquity” began to work in apostolic days, and it has spread throughout the centuries until today there is practically no great doctrine of Scripture that has not been perverted by false teachers.
With this fourth parable the Lord ended what we might call His public ministry for that occasion. He had opened up secrets that God had kept hidden until that time, even as it had been declared by Him prophetically in Psalms 78:2.
All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world, (vv. 34-35)
Dismissing the outdoor gathering, Jesus entered the house, followed by His disciples. In this place of seclusion He uttered three more parables, as well as explaining that of the wheat and the tares.
Then Jesus seat the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (vv. 36-43)
The apostles came to Him a second time asking for further explanation. They asked regarding the tares of the field. He explained by telling them that He Himself was the Sower of the good seed; the field is the world. It is important that we remember this because of what follows. The field is not the church, but rather that world out of which the church was eventually to be gathered. “The good seed,” Jesus said, “are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one.” Here we have the result of the sowing: those who believe the gospel message are the wheat; those who accept the teachings of Satan are the tares, for the enemy that sowed the evil seed is the Devil himself. He has ever been busy sowing the tares wherever servants of God have sown the good seed. But it is not for Christ’s servants to attempt to destroy the tares during this age. Our understanding is too limited. We might make the fatal mistake that Rome made of rooting up the good in order to destroy the bad. At the end of the age-it is not the end of the world He has in mind but the end of the present age-“The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire.” Notice that the Son of Man sends forth His angels. What a definite proof of His Deity we have here! He is both Son of God and Son of Man in one blessed, adorable person. The angels are His, and they do His bidding.
Then observe the mixed condition that prevails in the kingdom down to the end of the age. The angels gather out of His kingdom all things that afford cause for scandal. There will be false professors mingled with the true in the field- that is, in the world, down to the end of the age. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” This is the heavenly side of the kingdom into which the Lord shall gather His own in that day. Again the challenge comes, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
Link together the three parables that the Lord gave inside the house.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth, (vv. 44-50)
In the fifth parable the treasure is not the sinner seeking after Christ, but the blessed Lord Himself who came from heaven to earth to find that which to Him was of inestimable value: namely, His own people Israel. In order to redeem Israel to Himself He died upon the cross, but they were not yet ready to receive Him as their King, and so the treasure was hidden in the field and would remain hidden until He returned.
From of old, Israel was recognized as God’s special treasure (Exodus 19:5). The Lord Himself is represented by the man who found and hid this treasure. At Calvary He sold all that He had and bought the field, which is the world (v. 38). At present the treasure remains hidden. When Israel turns to the Lord, they will be manifested as Jehovah’s peculiar treasure (Malachi 3:17 RV), and through them blessing will come to all the Gentile nations.
“The kingdom of heaven,” is likened next “unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls.” Again the seeker is Christ, who came from the throne of glory to this poor world, seeking for jewels to adorn His crown forever.
“One pearl of great price.” This is the church, which is of supreme value in His eyes, for which He gave Himself. At the cross He “sold all that he had, and bought it.” There He literally impoverished Himself to purchase the church as His own choice pearl (Ephesians 5:25; 2 Corinthians 8:9). Many think of salvation as the pearl and the sinner as the merchantman, but that is to invert completely the message of the gospel.
“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net.” It is, literally, a dragnet. This illustrates the present work of the professing church when vast numbers of both saved and lost are gathered in from the waters of the nations (Revelation 17:16) and are numbered among the professors of faith in Christ.
“Gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.” When the dragnet is full it is drawn to shore, and the good and bad fishes are separated from each other.
“So shall it be at the end of the age” (marg.). It is not the end of the world that is in view, but the consummation of the present age of grace, immediately preceding the ushering in of the age of the kingdom in full manifestation.
“Wailing and gnashing of teeth.” The last expression shows that judgment does not necessarily produce repentance. When the final separation takes place the false professors will be cast away in judgment, which results in wailing because of their suffering, but gnashing of teeth because of their hatred against God and His Christ (Psalms 35:16; Lamentations 2:16).
Having set forth this remarkable panorama covering the entire present age and reaching on even into the tribulation period, thus viewing its consummation at the second coming of the Lord, Jesus questioned His disciples as to how much they had really apprehended.
Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence, (vv. 51-53)
Though they declared they had understood these things, it is evident they but feebly entered into them. But a groundwork had been laid in their hearts and minds upon which they could build in after days. So the Lord likened them unto scribes instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, who in days to come would be able to bring forth out of their treasure things new and old. With this, Jesus closed that particular period of ministry and returned to Nazareth.
And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said. Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief, (vv. 54-58)
“Whence… this wisdom, and these mighty works?” Even in Jesus’ own country-that is, as Luke tells us, in the city of Nazareth (Luke 4:16-24), there were few who responded to the message of the kingdom. They heard His teaching and saw His miracles with amazement but failed to recognize Him as the Messiah.
“Is not this the carpenter’s son?” The answer is, No. He was the Eternal Son of God, born of a virgin, but brought up under the fostering care of Joseph, from whom He learned the trade of the carpenter.
“Whence then hath this man all these things?” They were frankly puzzled. Jesus was so different from others of His townspeople. His wisdom and power were inexplicable from a merely human standpoint. Without scholastic training, He was more profound than the scribes.
“They were offended in him.” That is, they were stumbled by His lowliness and took offence when He intimated that their very familiarity with Him in past days, when they knew Him as a simple artisan, blinded their eyes to the fact that He was God’s mouthpiece.
“Because of their unbelief.” Even God Himself is straitened by mans unbelief. He who does for faith “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20), may be hindered in His working by stony-hearted opposition and unbelief.
The one great truth that this chapter in the life of our Lord demonstrates clearly is that unbelief on the one hand, or faith on the other, are not dependent on intellectual difficulties or logical arguments. The secret of both is the state of the conscience. Where one is determined to go contrary to what he knows to be right, he will continue in unbelief and refuse to submit to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. When one repents of his sins and honestly seeks deliverance from them, he will have no difficulty in believing the record God has given of His Son (1 John 5:11). It may be safely said, without fear of successful contradiction, that if one professes to have intellectual difficulties about believing the Bible, it is because he is living in some sin which the Bible condemns from which he does not wish to be delivered but in which he is determined to continue. Unjudged sin is responsible for lack of faith in the testimony of God.
It will be well to reiterate some thoughts already expressed as we conclude the study of this chapter. First, let us notice the distinction between the kingdoms of God and of heaven. We are told that God’s kingdom rules over all (Psalms 103:19; Psalms 22:28Psalms 22:28) and is from age to age (Daniel 4:3). This is called in the New Testament “the kingdom of God.” The expression is never found in the older revelation. It takes on different forms at different times. During the present age it is designated in Matthew, and there only, “the kingdom of heaven.” The King is seen as rejected by men and having returned to heaven from which place He directs His saints on earth, who go forth disseminating the Word of the kingdom and thus causing a vast throng of mankind to own Him, at least outwardly, as earth’s rightful King. When He returns, He will gather out of His kingdom all who are unreal. Those who are genuine will have their part either in the heavenly or the earthly sphere of the kingdom of the Son of Man, which will be the aspect taken by the kingdom of God in the millennial age.
Men often speak of “building the kingdom.” This is an expression in common use but never found in Scripture. We are commissioned to preach the gospel to every creature, and when men believe the message they become members of the church, the body of Christ. As such, they are in the kingdom of heaven also, but our primary object is to lead them to recognize Jesus as Savior and Lord.
No one can enter the kingdom of God in reality except by new birth. But many profess allegiance to the absent King who have never yielded their hearts to Him. These are in the sphere of the kingdom but are not actually of it. Let us be sure our faith and profession are real.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Matthew 13". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13