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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 13

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Verses 1-52

Mat 13:1-52

Section X.
A Series of Parables, Matthew 13:1-52
J.W. McGarvey

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

1, 2. sat by the sea.—The sitting posture which Jesus habitually assumed in his public addresses, rendered it impossible for him to be seen or heard at a great distance when the people thronged him. On this occasion, as the crowd became great, he moved from his seat on the shore to a more conspicuous place on the prow of the fishing boat, where the people could not press very closely to him, and whence he could be seen and heard by all as they stood or sat on the sloping shore.

3. in parables.—A parable is a species of allegory. An allegory is a discourse in which an object is described by describing another which resembles it, or which is analogous to it. Parables differ from other allegories in that they are taken from actual occurrences, while most others are taken from imaginary occurrences. Every parable contains an illustrating example, and indicates certain points of resemblance between it and the subject which it illustrates. The interpretation of a parable consists in pointing out the subject illustrated and the points of analogy intended by the author. These are to be ascertained from the context, and from the terms of the parable itself. In interpreting the parables of Jesus two fundamental rules must be observed: first, when Jesus himself gives an interpretation, it must be accepted as final and exhaustive; second, only those points of analogy which were certainly in the mind of the author should have a place in the interpretation. The chief error to be guarded against is a violation of the latter rule; and in order to successfully guard against it, one must have a well-balanced judgment and an accurate knowledge of the subjects which the parables illustrate. No rules can be given which will enable a person who is deficient in either of these two qualifications, to become a successful interpreter of these wonderful discourses.

3-9. a sower went forth.—As Jesus himself gives an interpretation of the parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:18-23), we attempt none of our own. We note here only the fidelity to nature which is maintained throughout. Every person acquainted with farming operations must be struck with the faithfulness of the picture.

9. Who hath ears to hear.—This warning, habitual with Jesus when he desired to direct especial attention to a speech or a remark, was necessary to prevent the people from regarding the parable as merely a beautiful and lifelike description. It warns them of a meaning beneath the surface, and hidden as yet from their view.

Why He Spoke in Parables, Matthew 13:10-17.
Mark 4:10-13; Luke 8:9-10)

10. Why speakest thou... in parables?—The question of the disciples shows that this method of teaching had not been employed by Jesus before, and the question was extorted by the obvious fact that the people could not understand the parables. It is not likely that the question is inserted by Matthew in its chronological place, but that it was propounded after this entire series of parables had been spoken.

11. it is given unto you.—Jesus proceeds to give several reasons for speaking in parables, the first of which is that it was given to the disciples, but not to the unbelievers, to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God. This is merely an assertion of the fact that it was so ordered by God, without assigning a reason why he so ordered. By the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, are not meant things incomprehensible; for, in that case, the disciples could not know them; but the yet unrevealed truths of the kingdom, which were mysteries only because they were as yet unrevealed.

12. whosoever hath.—This verse contains the reason why it was given to the disciples to know the mysteries of the kingdom, and not given to the unbelievers. It is a law of God’s moral government, often repeated by the Savior, that to him who has, more shall be given, and from him who has not, even that he has shall be taken away. In order to understand this singular phraseology, we must observe that the thing which is taken away from him who has not, is necessarily something that he has. He has, and at the same time he has not. Now the unbelieving Jews had, in common with the believers, the heavenly privilege of hearing Jesus and seeing his miracles; but, unlike the believers, they had not the faith and the knowledge which they should have derived from these opportunities. These opportunities were now to be taken from them by a kind of teaching which they could not understand, and which would not be explained to them. But to the disciples, who had some profit from previous opportunities, more instruction was to be given by means of the parables. In general terms, the law is, that to those who have made improvement by their opportunities, other opportunities will be given; but from him who has made no improvement, the opportunities themselves will be taken away. (For further illustration of this law, see the note on Matthew 25:29.)

13. Therefore speak I... in parables.—The illative therefore (διτοτο, on this account) refers not to the preceding, but to the statement which follows. Another reason for speaking in parables is given: because, when the people saw they saw not, and when they heard they heard not; that is, though they saw the miracles, they saw them not in their true light, and when they heard his words, they heard them not in their true meaning. This was a good reason for speaking to them in parables; for it showed that it was immaterial whether he spoke intelligibly or unintelligibly; and it left him free to speak as best suited the wants of his disciples alone. It may be observed, also, that he spoke more for future readers than tor present hearers.

14, 15. in them is fulfilled.—In these verses Jesus gives the fourth and final reason for speaking to the people in parables, and at the same time he points out the cause of those facts on which the preceding reasons were based. As Isaiah had written concerning his own generation (Isaiah 6:9-10), this people’s heart had "waxed gross;" that is, it has become filled with earthly and sensual desires, and especially so with reference to the expected kingdom of the Messiah. This state of heart made their ears dull of hearing; that is, it made them indisposed to hear with favor the words of Jesus. It led them also to close their eyes; that is, to refuse to see the evidences of his messiahship and his divinity. This closing of their eyes is treated (15) as the fatal act; for he proceeds to say, "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 turn, and I should heal them." The evil state of the heart might have been overcome, had it not been for closing their eyes. Their continuance in sin and unbelief, therefore, was the result of having voluntarily closed their eyes against the light which had come into the world, causing parables and dark sayings to be as intelligible to them as the simplest lessons which Jesus taught; their ears were equally closed against both.

15. be converted.—This rendering is incorrect. The original word (ἐπιστρφωσιν) is in the active voice, and means turn. The rendering "be converted" was first employed in English by Wickliffe, who followed the Latin Vulgate from which his translation was made. Tyndal and the Geneva translators both rejected it, using turn; but King James’s translators restored the rendering of Wickliffe, being led thereto, no doubt, by their conception of conversion as a change in which the sinner is perfectly passive. Only in one passage, Matthew 18:3, is the passive rendering correct.

16, 17. blessed are your eyes.—Here we have a cheering contrast between the spiritual condition of the disciples, and that of the unbelieving multitude. They were seeing with profit, and hearing with delight, not only that which the multitude would neither see nor hear, but things which the prophets and righteous men of many generations had desired to see and had not seen. The disciples, doubtless, failed to realize the full measure of their blessedness, so little do the men of any generation know their own privileges.

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

18, 19. by the wayside.—The disciples are now taught the meaning of the parable of the sower—to them more is given. They learn that the different places in which the seed fell represent different classes of persons who hear the "word of the kingdom." The peculiarity of him who is represented by the wayside consists in the two circumstances, that he does not understand the word, and that the wicked one catches away that which was sown in his heart. The word reaches his heart, which fact implies some favorable impressions on him; but his not understanding it, implies a want of proper attention to it. Failing of proper attention, he allows the devil, by taking it away, to deprive him of the little good which he had received, and of all that he might have received in the future. (Comp. Luke 8:12.) Satan catches the word away by means of all those worldly allurements through which men are led to be inattentive to the word of God. The class of persons represented are those whose ideas of Scripture teaching are too crude for an intelligent faith, or who allow good impression made by the word to speedily pass away.

20, 21. into stony places.—The fault of the stony ground hearer consists in allowing trouble or persecution on account of the word to make him stumble and fall away from the word which he had previously received with joy. In the statement, "he hath not root in himself," there is a metaphor drawn from the shallow roots of the grain which grows on stony ground, and it means that he is deficient in tenacity of purpose. Sometimes very slight opposition from friends or relatives turns a person back into partial or total apostasy. The class represented are those who are turned back by opposition, whether slight or severe.

21. offended.—The term here rendered is offended (σκανδαλζεται) means, is made to stumble. There is nothing in tribulations and persecutions to make one feel offended at the word; but there is, to cause him to stumble, as when his foot is caught in a snare. (See the note on Matthew 5:29-30.)

22. among the thorns.—Those represented by the thorny ground, do not, like the first class, allow Satan to catch away the word, nor do they, like the second, allow persecutions to cause them to stumble; but, while retaining the word, they allow care about worldly matters, and the deceitfulness of riches—that is, the deception which love of riches causes men to practice on themselves—or both these combined, to render the word unfruitful. Men who are engaged in the eager pursuit of wealth, as well as those already in possession of it, are in danger from the deceitfulness of riches; while those engaged in a hard struggle for a mere livelihood, or in buffeting the waves of misfortune, are most in danger from the care of this world. The great majority of the disciples of every age and country have been more or less chargeable with the sin of this class. We need constant and earnest exhortations on the subject from our religious teachers.

23. into the good ground.—The man represented by the good ground differs from the wayside man in that he "understands" the word, and does not allow Satan to take it from him. His understanding it is the result, not of some natural superiority, but of the superior attention which he gives to it. He differs from the stony ground character, in that, though assailed by tribulation and persecution because of the word, and often more violently assailed than his vacillating neighbor, he overcomes them instead of allowing them to overcome him. He differs from the thorny ground character, in that he endures the cares of life so patiently, and resists the deceitful influences of riches so successfully, that the word of God in him triumphs over both. Finally, he differs from all, in that he alone "beareth fruit." Some of this class bear more fruit than others, "some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty;" but the characteristic of the class is that they bear fruit. The fruit is the course of life which the word requires; therefore, dropping the figure, the fourth class continue to obey the word of God, while the others either never begin, or, beginning, sooner or later discontinue their obedience. The parable is a prediction of the manner in which the word of God would be dealt with by those who would hear it; and it warns us against the examples of the first three characters, while it stimulates us to imitate the fourth.

The Parable of the Sower - Matthew 13:1-23

Open It

1. When was the last time you "tuned out" a speaker?

2. What are some spiritual cliches or religious catch-phrases that people often use?

3. What misconceptions do non-Christians have about Christianity?

Explore It

4. Where was Jesus when the crowds came? (Matthew 13:1-2)

5. Why did Jesus get on a boat to speak? (Matthew 13:2)

6. What kind of stories did Jesus use to teach the crowds? (Matthew 13:3)

7. The first story that Jesus told His audience was about what? (Matthew 13:3)

8. Into what various places did the seed fall? (Matthew 13:4-5)

9. Which seed ended up sprouting and bearing fruit? Why? (Matthew 13:8)

10. To whom did Jesus direct His story about the four soils? (Matthew 13:9)

11. How did the disciples respond to the Parable of the Four Soils? (Matthew 13:10)

12. How did Jesus defend His use of parables? (Matthew 13:11-13)

13. Why was the majority’s inability or unwillingness to understand Christ’s message significant? (Matthew 13:14-15)

14. Why did Jesus say the disciples were blessed? (Matthew 13:16-17)

15. Whom did Jesus liken to seed along the path? Why? (Matthew 13:19)

16. According to Christ, who is like the seed sown on rocky soil? Why? (Matthew 13:20-21)

17. What kind of people were compared to seed sown among the thorns? Why? (Matthew 13:22)

18. Of whom is the fruitful seed a picture? How? (Matthew 13:23)

Get It

19. How do stories and illustrations help us to understand more clearly the message of the Bible?

20. How involved are you in "sowing the seed" of God’s Word?

21. What kind of soil would you say you are at this point in your life?

22. What are some thorns that tend to choke out your Christian faith?

23. What circumstances have a tendency to scorch your faith and cause it to wither?

24. How long did it take for you to understand the gospel of Christ?

25. How could you listen more faithfully and intently to the voice of God?

Apply It

26. What one action could you do this week to improve the way you listen to God’s Word?

27. How could you become a more effective sower of God’s Word over the next month?

28. How can you show gratitude to God today for opening your eyes to the truth of the gospel?

Parable of the Tares, Matthew 13:24-30

25. sowed tares.—It has been doubted by some whether such an act of enmity as sowing a neighbor’s field with tares ways ever perpetrated; and consequently it has been supposed that this parable, unlike the others, is drawn from imaginary incidents. But Trench, in his work on the parables, adduces one instance in India, and one in Ireland; and Alford, in his Commentary, mentions one that occurred in a field of his own in England. It is likely that the practice was somewhat common in the days of Christ. The word tare is now obsolete, having been supplanted by darnel. (For the explanation of this parable, see below, Mat 13:36-43.)

The Parable of the Weeds - Matthew 13:24-30

Open It

1. What kind of gardening have you done?

2. What is your least favorite type of yard work? Why?

3. Why do people dislike weeds?

Explore It

4. What did Jesus use to communicate His point? (Matthew 13:24)

5. What was Jesus talking about in this passage? (Matthew 13:24)

6. To what did Jesus compare His topic? (Matthew 13:24)

7. In the Parable of the Weeds, what happened while the farmer slept? (Matthew 13:25)

8. What appeared in the farmer’s field besides the wheat he had planted? (Matthew 13:26)

9. How did the owner’s servants react when they found weeds in the field? (Matthew 13:27)

10. How did the owner reply to his servants? (Matthew 13:28)

11. What did the servants volunteer to do for the owner of the field? (Matthew 13:28)

12. On what grounds did the owner turn down the servant’s suggestion? (Matthew 13:29)

13. What plan of action did the owner choose? (Matthew 13:30)

Get It

14. How would you respond if you tried to get a Bible study going and a group of non-Christians showed up to give you a hard time?

15. What are some ways Christians blend in with non-Christians?

16. What do you think about Christians who try to isolate themselves completely from non-Christians?

17. What opportunities do you have by living among all different kinds of people?

18. In what ways does Satan try to mess up God’s plan and your part in that plan?

19. What dangers lie in trying to label people as either "weeds" or "wheat" (non-Christians or Christians)?

20. Whose responsibility is it to label the weeds and deal with them?

21. Under what circumstances are you to live for Christ?

Apply It

22. In what ways do you need to alter your life-style (either attitude or action) today in order to be more like wheat and less like a weed?

23. Whom do you need to judge and label less today?

24. For what non-Christian coworkers, neighbors, and friends will you pray this week?

Parable of the Mustard Seed, Matthew 13:31-32.
(Mark 4:30-32)

31, 32. least of all the seeds.—The mustard seed is not the smallest known seed, but it was the smallest usually sown in Jewish fields. In the same limited sense, the mustard plant was the "greatest among herbs" (Matthew 13:32); that is, the greatest herb grown by the Jews.

kingdom... is like.—As the emphasis, in this parable, is placed on the smallness of the seed and the greatness of its subsequent growth, we must take these as the points of significance and resemblance. The kingdom of heaven, like the seed, was very small in its beginning on the day of Pentecost, but afterward it became a very great kingdom. The parable is prophetic, and is still in process of fulfillment.

Parable of the Leaven, Matthew 13:33

33. till the whole is leavened.—It is a property of leaven that it quietly but certainly diffuses itself through the mass in which it is placed. The kingdom of heaven is like it, in that it spreads itself in like manner through human society. This parable is also prophetic, and its fulfillment is constantly going on. The reason why three measures of meal are supposed, rather than any other number, is doubtless because this was the quantity that the women usually made up for one baking; and the reason why a woman rather than a man is mentioned, is because it was the business of women to make bread.

Speaking in Parables a Fulfillment of Prophecy,
Matthew 13:34-35. (Mark 4:33-34)

34. without a parable spake he not.—This remark has reference only to that particular occasion. Both before and after this he taught much without parables.

35. that it might be fulfilled.—Jesus is the only great teacher known to history who is distinguished in a high degree by the use of parables, and his skill in their use has never been approached by any other person. He fills up the measure of the prediction here quoted from Psalms 78:2; it has not been filled by another; and therefore Matthew’s application of it is manifestly correct. We may further add that Jesus can not have chosen to speak in parables in order to make a false appearance of fulfilling the prediction; for to speak in such parables is beyond the unaided powers of any man.

The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast

Matthew 13:31-35

Open It

1. What small or seemingly insignificant possession is worth a great deal to you? Why?

2. What are some big or important events that start out very small?

3. What ingredients make for great storytelling?

4. What is one fairytale you remember from childhood that you still enjoy today?

Explore It

5. What did Jesus tell the crowd? (Matthew 13:31)

6. In the Parable of the Mustard Seed, what did the man do with the seed? (Matthew 13:31)

7. To what kind of seed did Christ compare the kingdom of heaven? Why? (Matthew 13:31-32)

8. How does the mustard seed compare to others in size? (Matthew 13:32)

9. What is a mustard seed like when it is fully grown? (Matthew 13:32)

10. Besides bearing fruit, how is a mustard plant useful? (Matthew 13:32)

11. In the Parable of the Yeast, to what did Christ liken the kingdom of heaven? (Matthew 13:33)

12. How does yeast work? (Matthew 13:33)

13. In addition to parables, how else did Jesus get His point across to the crowd? (Matthew 13:34)

14. Why was Jesus’ use of parables significant? (Matthew 13:35)

Get It

15. In what small or seemingly insignificant ways has God worked in your life?

16. How can a Christian be a positive presence among his or her non-Christian friends and relatives?

17. What are some ways God might use a person to spread the gospel in a place where there is little Christian influence?

18. What are some little things we can do to make a big impact for Christ?

19. What does this passage say to those who don’t feel talented, gifted, or brilliant?

20. In what ways has your Christian life grown to bless others (like the mustard seed becoming a big tree)?

Apply It

21. What is one way you could quietly help the gospel permeate your family, workplace, or circle of friends?

22. What illustrations, examples, or stories can you share with someone today to help him or her understand your faith in Christ?

23. What prayer can you begin praying this week to cause the gospel to spread?

Parable of the Tares Explained, Matthew 13:36-43

36. Declare unto us.—This parable and that of the sower are the only two that Jesus explained to his disciples, the others being so simple as not to be easily misunderstood; yet, strange to say, these two, notwithstanding his explanations, are more frequently misconstrued than any others of the series.

37-39. He that soweth.—In these verses the individual correspondenees between the parable and the kingdom are stated. The field in which the seeds were sown represents the world of mankind; the man who sowed good seeds represents Jesus; the enemy who sowed tares, the devil; the good seed, Christians: the tares, wicked persons; the harvest, the end of this world; the reapers, the angels. These explanations are preliminary to the chief lesson of the parable; they do not teach it.

40-43. As therefore.—Here is introduced a formal comparison which presents the chief lesson of the parable: "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of the world." This being the intended point of comparison, he proceeds to state, in unfigurative language, how it will be in the end of the 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." In brief, the final separation of the wicked from the righteous, and the destruction of the latter in fire, is the burden of the parable. Whether reference is made to all the wicked in the world, or only to those in the Church, has been a matter of dispute. In favor of the latter supposition is the fact that the wicked are to he gathered by the angels "out of his kingdom." the term kingdom being usually limited to the Church. But inasmuch as "all authority in heaven and on earth" is given to Christ (Matthew 28:19), his kingdom in reality includes the whole earth, and in at least one of the parables, that of the pounds (Luke 19:14-15; Luke 19:27). the term is used to include both his willing subjects, and those who "will not have this man to rule over them." We are to know, then, by the context, whether the term is here used in its wider or in its narrower sense. That the former is the sense here, we think, is clear from two considerations: first, the field in which the seeds, both good and bad, were sown, and the kingdom out of which both were gathered, are evidently the same; but the field is the world, and therefore the kingdom is the world. Second, while the good seed represent the "children of the kingdom," that is, those who accept and submit to the reign of Christ over the world, and all of these, the tares represent all of the children of the wicked one within the field, that is, all the wicked in the world. If it be objected to this, that the enemy sowed after the good seed had been sown, and therefore the wicked represented by the tares must be the wicked who sprang up among the disciples after the kingdom was established: we answer, that, this point of comparison is not found in the Savior’s interpretation, and this is sufficient proof that it was not in his mind.

The most common interpretation of this parable makes its chief significance depend on the prohibition against pulling up the tares lest the wheat should be rooted up with them, and supposes it to teach a lesson of caution in church discipline. Some understand the parable as prohibiting all exclusions from the Church, and others, with less consistency, understand it to prohibit exclusions only in doubtful cases, as the exclusion of one would lead to the exclusion of others who are more worthy, but who sympathize with the guilty party. The latter view is condemned by the very promises on which it is based: for it was not until the tares were unmistakably known as such, that the question about plucking them up was raised. If the exclusion of any from the Church is prohibited, it must be those who are known to be children of the wicked one, and the conclusion comes into direct conflict with the teaching both of Jesus and the apostles on the subject of withdrawing from the disorderly. (See Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 5:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:6.) There are also two other insuperable objections to both of the views above stated. In the first place, Jesus makes the servants of the householder, who made the proposition to pull up the tares, and who were the reapers of the harvest, represent, not the officers of the Church, but the angels of God—"the reapers are the angels." (Matthew 13:39; Matthew 13:41.) In the second place, this interpretation ignores the fundamental rule, that when Jesus himself expounds a parable, his exposition must be accepted without modification. Now, in his exposition he passes by this prohibition and gives it no part whatever in the significance of the parable. It is true, that gathering out the tares at the end of the world implies that they will be allowed to grow until that time, but it implies nothing at all as to whether such of them as can be shall be excluded from the Church.

43. shine forth as the sun.—In this verse, and the last clause of the preceding verse, Jesus presents some additional thoughts not foreshadowed in the parable—that in the furnace of fire there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth, and that the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. On the significance of wailing and gnashing of teeth, see note on Matthew 8:12. Shining forth as the sun, is expressive of the glory which shall attach to the saints in their resurrection bodies.

Who hath ears.—A note of warning to arrest the attention of the wicked, and to cheer the hearts of the saints.

The Parable of the Weeds Explained - Matthew 13:36-43

Open It

1. What school subject or subjects did you find difficult? Why?

2. What are your beliefs about the future of the world?

3. Why are many people eager to believe in heaven but reluctant to believe in hell?

Explore It

4. Where did Jesus go upon leaving His audience? (Matthew 13:36)

5. Who came to Jesus for further discussion? Why? (Matthew 13:36)

6. What specific story did Jesus’ audience want explained to them? (Matthew 13:36)

7. In the Parable of the Weeds, whom did the sower represent? How? (Matthew 13:37)

8. What did the field represent? In what way? (Matthew 13:38)

9. What groups of people are illustrated by good seed and weeds? (Matthew 13:38)

10. Whom does the enemy who sowed the bad seed represent? (Matthew 13:39)

11. What future event is symbolized by the harvest? (Matthew 13:39)

12. Whom do the harvesters represent? (Matthew 13:39)

13. The burning of the weeds symbolizes what future event? (Matthew 13:40-42)

14. What will happen to those who are thrown "into the fiery furnace"? (Matthew 13:42)

15. What is the future for the righteous? (Matthew 13:43)

Get It

16. How do you study the Bible in order to understand better what Christ has said?

17. If we seldom pick up the Bible or spend time praying, what do our actions say about us?

18. If you had to guess, what would you estimate to be the ratio of "wheat" to "weeds" in your office, town, neighborhood, or school?

19. How do these kinds of passages (threats of judgment for unbelievers) make you feel?

20. In which category (wheat or weed) would your associates place you? Why?

21. What does this passage say to you about the prospect of the world getting better and better?

Apply It

22. In what ways can you "shine like the sun" in your contacts with unbelievers?

23. What passage of Scripture do you need to ask God about and study this week?

24. How could you minister to someone today with a quote or insight from the Bible?

Parable of the Hid Treasure, Matthew 13:44

44. hid in a field.—In the absence of the iron safes and vaults of modern times, the ancients frequently buried articles of value in the ground. The case supposed is one in which, by the death of the original owner of the field and the treasure, all knowledge of the treasure had perished; otherwise the present owner would not sell the field without an equivalent for the treasure.

he hideth.—The man must again hide the treasure, after finding it, lest some one else should discover it, or lest its existence should become known to the owner of the field before the purchase.

like unto treasure.—The kingdom is not like the treasure in being hid, for although its provisions are unknown to many, they have always been known to some. But the man’s joy at discovering the treasure, and the eagerness with which he sold his other possessions in order to obtain the treasure, are the points of significance. Similar joy is experienced by every one who discovers the blessedness of the kingdom, and all such make every sacrifice necessary to gain possession of its privileges.

Parable of the Precious Pearl, Matthew 13:45-46

45. like unto a merchant.—The thought in this parable, though similar to that in the preceding, is distinct from it. The merchant is represented as seeking goodly pearls, and as already in possession of a number, while the man of the hid treasure had nothing which he especially prized before he found the treasure. There is a comparison in this parable between things of great value already sought and obtained, and a new prize which excels them all. It teaches that whatever a man may have sought for and obtained before becoming acquainted with the kingdom of God, whether it be wealth, or fame, or a system of religion, the kingdom of God will be cheaply obtained by the loss of all.

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl

Matthew 13:44-46

Open It

1. What two or three expensive items do you wish you could afford?

2. What are some good ways to determine what our priorities really are?

3. What is the difference between value and price?

4. How is the value of something determined?

Explore It

5. What is like treasure hidden in a field? How? (Matthew 13:44)

6. What is the kingdom of heaven like? Why? (Matthew 13:44)

7. Where was treasure hidden? (Matthew 13:44)

8. What happened when the man uncovered the hidden treasure? (Matthew 13:44)

9. How did the man feel when he discovered the treasure? (Matthew 13:44)

10. How badly did the man want the treasure? (Matthew 13:44)

11. To what did Christ compare the kingdom of heaven? Why? (Matthew 13:45)

12. What did the man in the parable find? (Matthew 13:46)

13. How valuable was the pearl? (Matthew 13:47)

14. How did the man who found the pearl react to its discovery? (Matthew 13:47)

Get It

15. If the gospel is true and heaven is our destiny, why are we often "ho-hum" about Christ and the Christian life?

16. How can we recover the joy and excitement that we had when we first met Christ?

17. What sacrifices are you willing to make in order to fully embrace Christ and his kingdom?

18. When, if ever, has your faith cost you something?

19. What relationships, possessions, or personal ambitions are you reluctant to give up for Christ?

20. What would you say to a someone who says that you can be a good Christian without completely "selling all" to follow Christ?

21. Other than buried treasure or a precious pearl, what illustrations could you use to explain to a friend the value of knowing Christ?

Apply It

22. What items do you need to "sell off" this week in order to follow Christ and His kingdom?

23. With what person will you try to share the wealth you have in Christ today or tomorrow?

24. What first step will you take today to recover the joy of knowing Christ?

Parable of the Net, Matthew 13:47-50

47. like unto a net.—Here again, as in the parable of the tares, it is taught that at the end of the world the angels shall sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire (Matthew 13:49-50); but now it is only the wicked in the Church. The kingdom is like the net, in that it gathers both good and bad into it, and in that there will eventually be a separation of the two classes.

50. the furnace of fire.—The furnace of fire mentioned here and at the close of the parable of the tares (Matthew 13:42), can be no other than the final abode of the wicked; for the casting of the wicked into it is to take place "at the end of the world." The term rendered world (αων) cannot here mean the Jewish age; for no such separation of the wicked from the righteous took place at the end of the Jewish age, nor has it taken place since then. It means the Christian age, which terminates with time itself.

The Parables Understood, Matthew 13:51-52

51. Have ye understood.—By the help of his explanation of two of the parables, the disciples were able to answer that they understood all of them; but while this was true in a limited sense, they doubtless failed to gather the full import of some whose meaning needed the light of experience in order to be clearly seen.

52. every scribe.—Not every Jewish scribe, but every disciple possessed of the information and powers of thought which would enable him to rank as the Jewish scribes did.

instructed unto the kingdom.—More correctly rendered by Mr. Green "schooled for the kingdom of heaven"—possessed of such instruction as fits him for a teacher in the kingdom of heaven.

things new and old.—The allusion is to the fact that a good householder, in entertaining his guests, brings forth from his treasure of provisions and drinks, both old articles long laid away for special occasions, and new ones recently provided. So the Christian scribe or teacher brings forth for the instruction of his hearers both the old lessons with which he has long been familiar, and new ones which he has but recently acquired. While teaching others, he is himself a learner, and he is able, out of the new or the old, to find something suitable to every class of hearers.

Argument of Section 10

In this section Jesus is presented both as a prophet and a subject of prophecy. By speaking in parables he fulfilled a prediction of David Concerning him (Matthew 13:34-35). and each of the parables which he spoke contains a prediction. In the parable of the sower he predicted the future effects of preaching the word of God; in that of the tares, the final separation of the good and bad, and the destruction of all the latter; in that of the mustard seed, the future growth of the kingdom; in that of the leaven, the certainty that the principles of his kingdom would permeate human society; in that of the hid treasure, the peculiar joy and prompt self-sacrifice with which men would lay hold on the blessings of the kingdom; in that of the precious pearl, the exalted estimate which men would place on the kingdom; and in that of the net, the intermingling of bad men with the good in the Church until the final day, when they will be removed into the furnace of fire. All of these predictions, with the exception of the two concerning the last day, have been in process of fulfillment before the eyes of the world from the apostolic ago to the present time, and they present, therefore, a continuing demonstration of the divine foresight of Jesus.

The Parable of the Net - Matthew 13:47-52

Open It

1. What is your favorite "fish story"?

2. When someone says the word "angel," what kind of images come to mind?

3. What one question would you like to ask God about heaven?

Explore It

4. To what did Jesus compare the kingdom of heaven? (Matthew 13:47)

5. How was the net used, and what was the result? (Matthew 13:47)

6. In the Parable of the Net, what did the fishermen do with the full net? (Matthew 13:48)

7. What happened to the good fish? (Matthew 13:48)

8. What happened to the bad fish? (Matthew 13:48)

9. Why did Jesus use this analogy? (Matthew 13:49)

10. What group did the fishermen in the story represent? (Matthew 13:49)

11. Jesus interpreted His parable to say that wicked people can expect what kind of eternal destiny? (Matthew 13:50)

12. What question did Jesus ask His disciples when He finished teaching? (Matthew 13:51)

13. How did the disciples answer Jesus’ question? (Matthew 13:51)

14. To what did Jesus compare those in His audience who knew about the Old Testament law and the kingdom of heaven to come? (Matthew 13:52)

Get It

15. What do you think it would have been like to hear Jesus teach about heaven?

16. Since Jesus is in the fishing business, what can you do to help him catch men and women?

17. Why are we often reluctant to talk about hell?

18. What could you say to a friend who expressed doubts about hell?

19. How would it alter the way we live if we kept in mind the fact that God will judge us?

20. How can we live more often with the wonder of heaven in mind?

21. What new insight into God’s kingdom do you have as a result of studying this passage?

Apply It

22. What reminders can you use today to help you pray for non-Christian friends and relatives?

23. In what way can you remind yourself of heaven this week?

24. How can you show your gratitude to God today for making you a "good fish"?

Verses 53-58

Mat 13:53-58

Section XI.
Phases of Opinion Concerning Jesus,
Matthew 13:53 to Matthew 15:20
J.W. McGarvey

Opinion of the Nazarenes, Matthew 13:53-58

53. he departed thence.—As we learn from Mark, the disciples took him even as he was in the ship, and started across the lake on that voyage during which the tempest was stilled. (Mark 4:34-37.) Matthew, with his usual disregard of chronology, having already described that event (Matthew 8:23-27), now follows Jesus to Nazareth.

54. in their synagogue.—It seems from this expression that there was only one synagogue in Nazareth, which argues hut a small population.

54-57. Whence hath this man.—By the question, "Whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works," they admitted his wisdom and his miracles, but they claimed to be at a loss to account for them; and they were offended (Matthew 13:57) at his pretensions. They knew his father the carpenter, and his mother Mary; and his brothers and sisters they knew by name. They had also known him from his childhood; and until recently he had exhibited no such powers. They were filled with envy that he should suddenly be lifted so high above themselves and above his humble origin. Their extreme familiarity with his humanity made them blind to the evidences of his divinity, while their unwillingness to admit his divinity made them incapable of answering their own question; and so, from that day to this, the words and miracles of Jesus have proved an unsolved mystery to all who deny that he was literally the Son of God. his brethren... his sisters.—On the relationship between Jesus and these persons, see note, Mark 6:3.

57. not without honor.—That which prevents a prophet from being honored as such in his own country and among his own kindred, is jealousy. Base as this passion is, it is one of the most prevalent of our passions, and is not easily subdued by even the best of men. In Nazareth Jesus was no more than the son of the carpenter, and the brother of certain very common young men and girls; while abroad he was hailed as the prophet of Galilee, mighty in word and deed. Similar misjudgment had been the lot of all or nearly all the prophets of the Old Testament period. (Comp. Luke 4:24-27.)

58. not many mighty works.—See note on Mark 6:5.

In this paragraph Matthew exhibits a degree of candor which is one of the surest marks of honesty. Had it been his purpose to deceive, he would not have admitted that Jesus was rejected and dishonored by the people who had known him from his childhood. He would have been afraid that such an admission would throw suspicion on his representation of the character of Jesus. That he does make this admission, not, indeed, in the form of an admission, but as a fact which existed, and for the record of which he makes no apology, proves that he had an unvarnished story to tell, and that he told it as it was. The facts admitted, moreover, when rightly considered, contain a strong argument in favor of Jesus: for if the Nazarenes, who had known him from his childhood, when making their best efforts to find fault with him, could bring against him nothing worse than his humble family connections, this is proof that he had been guilty of no perceptible wrongdoing.

A Prophet Without Honor - Matthew 13:53-58

Open It

1. What do you like best and least about your hometown?

2. What would your family say you were like as a little kid?

3. How would your high school or college friends react if they heard you were in a serious Bible study?

4. What former classmate has surprised you since you graduated from high school? Why?

Explore It

5. What did Jesus do when He finished telling His parables? (Matthew 13:53)

6. Where did Jesus go? (Matthew 13:54)

7. What did Jesus do in His hometown? (Matthew 13:54)

8. Where exactly did Jesus preach? (Matthew 13:54)

9. What was the public response to Jesus’ message? (Matthew 13:54)

10. What kinds of questions were the folks in Nazareth asking? (Matthew 13:55)

11. What family ties did the townspeople of Nazareth recognize Jesus as having? (Matthew 13:55)

12. How did the people feel about "one of their own" saying wise things and doing amazing miracles? (Matthew 13:57)

13. How did Jesus explain their reaction to Him? (Matthew 13:57)

14. What did Jesus not do in Nazareth—at least in any great amount? Why? (Matthew 13:58)

15. What caused Jesus to refrain from doing miracles in Nazareth? (Matthew 13:58)

Get It

16. How would you react if a guy from your neighborhood started doing miracles and claiming to be God?

17. What are some ways we limit the work of Christ by our unbelief?

18. Why are we more often impressed by people we don’t know than by people we do know?

19. Why do we have a tendency to downplay the accomplishments of people we are close to?

20. How did your family react when you placed your trust in Christ?

21. In what ways do you struggle to live down your past?

Apply It

22. What are three things you need to trust Christ for in the coming week?

23. How can you strengthen your faith in Jesus during this time so that He can work in and through you?

24. What family members or old friends will you commit to visit or call in the next month to tell them about the change Christ is making in you?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 13". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/matthew-13.html.
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