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Bible Commentaries

Scofield's Reference Notes

Matthew 13

Verse 3

The seven parables of Matthew 13, called by our Lord, "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 13:11), taken together, describe the result of the presence of the Gospel in the world during the present age, that is, the time of seed sowing which began with our Lord's personal ministry, and ends with the "harvest" Matthew 13:40-43. Briefly, the result is mingled tares and wheat, good fish and bad, in the sphere of Christian profession. It is Christendom.


The figure marks a new beginning. To labour in God's vineyard Israel, Isaiah 5:1-7 is one thing, to go forth sowing the seed of the word in a field which is the world, quite another (cf) Matthew 10:5. One fourth of the seed takes permanent root, but the result is "wheat"; Matthew 13:25; 1 Peter 1:23 or "children of the kingdom" Matthew 13:38. This parable Matthew 13:3-9; Matthew 13:18-23 is treated throughout as foundational to the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. It is interpreted by our Lord Himself.

Verse 11


A "mystery" in Scripture is a previously hidden truth, now divinely revealed; but in which a supernatural element still remains despite the revelation. The greater mysteries are:

(1) The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven Matthew 13:3-50.

(2) the mystery of Israel's blindness during this age Romans 11:25 (with context);

(3) the mystery of the translation of living saints at the end of this age 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17.

(4) the mystery of N.T. church as one body composed of Jew and Gentile Ephesians 3:1-11; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 4:3.

(5) the mystery of the church as the bride of Christ Ephesians 5:28-32.

(6) the mystery of the inliving Christ Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:26; Colossians 1:27.

(7) the "mystery of God even Christ," i.e. Christ as the incarnate fullness of the Godhead embodied, in whom all the divine wisdom for man subsists Colossians 2:2; Colossians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 2:7.

(8) the mystery of the processes by which godlikeness is restored to man 1 Timothy 3:16.

(9) the mystery of iniquity 2 Thessalonians 2:7; Matthew 13:33.

(10) the mystery of the seven stars Revelation 1:20.

(11) the mystery of Babylon Revelation 17:5; Revelation 17:7.

kingdom (See Scofield "Matthew 3:2").

Verse 17


The O.T. prophets saw in blended vision the rejection and crucifixion of the King (see "Christ, sacrifice,) Genesis 4:4, (See Scofield "Hebrews 10:18") and also His glory as David's Son. See Scofield "Zechariah 12:8", but "what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow," was not revealed to them--only that the vision was not for themselves. 1 Peter 1:10-12. That revelation Christ makes in these parables. A period of time is to intervene between His sufferings and His glory. That interval is occupied with the "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" here described.

righteous Righteousness. (See Scofield "Romans 10:10").

Verse 19

kingdom (See Scofield "Matthew 3:2").

Verse 24


This parable Matthew 13:24-30 is also interpreted by our Lord Matthew 13:36-43. Here the "good seed" is not the "word," as in the first parable Matthew 13:19; Matthew 13:23 but rather that which the word has produced. 1 Peter 1:23, viz.: the children of the kingdom. These are, providentially Matthew 13:37 "sown," i.e. scattered, here and there in the "field" of the "world" Matthew 13:38. The "world" here is both geographical and ethnic--the earth-world, and also the world of men. The wheat of God at once becomes the scene of Satan's activity. Where children of the kingdom are gathered, there "among the wheat" Matthew 13:25; Matthew 13:38; Matthew 13:39. Satan "sows" "children of the wicked one," who profess to be children of the kingdom, and in outward ways are so like the true children that only the angels may, in the end, be trusted to separate them Matthew 13:28-30; Matthew 13:40-43. So great is Satan's power of deception that the tares often really suppose themselves to be children of the kingdom Matthew 7:21-23. Many other parables and exhortations have this mingled condition in view (e.g.)

Matthew 22:11-14; Matthew 25:1-13; Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 18:10-14; Hebrews 6:4-9

Indeed, it characterizes Matthew from Chapter 13 to the end. The parable of the wheat and tares is not a description of the world, but of that which professes to be the kingdom. Mere unbelievers are never the children of the devil, but only religious unbelievers are so called (cf) Matthew 13:38; John 8:38-44; Matthew 23:15.

The kingdom (See Scofield "Matthew 3:2").

Verse 30

1 Gather

The gathering of the tares into bundles for burning does not imply immediate judgment. At the end of this age (Matthew 13:40) the tares are set apart for burning, but first the wheat is gathered into the barn.; John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17.

Verse 31


2 Another parable

The parable of the Mustard Seed prefigures the rapid but unsubstantial growth of the mystery form of the kingdom from an insignificant beginning Acts 1:15; Acts 2:41; 1 Corinthians 1:26 to a great place in the earth. The figure of the fowls finding shelter in the branches is drawn from Daniel 4:20-22. How insecure was such a refuge the context in Daniel shows.

kingdom (See Scofield "Matthew 3:2").

Verse 33

Another parable

That interpretation of the parable of the Leaven (Matthew 13:33) which makes (with variation as to details) the leaven to be the Gospel, introduced into the world ("three measures of meal") by the church, and working subtly until the world is converted ("till the whole was leavened") is open to fatal objection:

(1) it does violence to the unvarying symbolical meaning of leaven, and especially to the meaning fixed by our Lord Himself. Matthew 16:6-12; Mark 8:15 See "Leaven," Genesis 19:3. (See Scofield "Matthew 13:33").

(2) The implication of a converted world in this age ("till the whole was leavened"), is explicitly contradicted by our Lord's interpretation of the parables of the Wheat and Tares, and of the Net. Our Lord presents a picture of a partly converted kingdom in an unconverted world; of good fish and bad in the very kingdom-net itself.

(3) The method of the extension of the kingdom is given in the first parable. It is by sowing seed, not by mingling leaven. The symbols have, in Scripture, a meaning fixed by inspired usage. Leaven is the principle of corruption working subtly; is invariably used in a bad sense (see "Leaven," (See Scofield "Genesis 19:3"), and is defined by our Lord as evil doctrine. Matthew 16:11; Matthew 16:12; Mark 8:15. Meal, on the contrary, was used in one of the sweet- savour offerings Leviticus 2:1-3. and was food for the priests Leviticus 6:15-17. A woman, in the bad ethical sense, always symbolizes something out of place, religiously, See Scofield "Zechariah 5:6". In Thyatira it was a woman teaching (cf).; Revelation 2:20; Revelation 17:1-6. Interpreting the parable by these familiar symbols, it constitutes a warning that the true doctrine, given for nourishment of the children of the kingdom; Matthew 4:4; 1 Timothy 4:6; 1 Peter 2:2 would be mingled with corrupt and corrupting false doctrine, and that officially, by the apostate church itself; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 2:17; 2 Timothy 2:18; 2 Timothy 4:3; 2 Timothy 4:4; 2 Peter 2:1-3.

4 Leaven


(1) Leaven, as a symbolic or typical substance, is always mentioned in the O.T. in an evil sense Genesis 19:3, (See Scofield "Genesis 19:3").

(2) The use of the word in the N.T. explains its symbolic meaning. It is "malice and wickedness," as contrasted with "sincerity and truth" 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, it is evil doctrine Matthew 16:12 in its three-fold form of Pharisasism, Sadduceeism, Herodianism; Matthew 16:6; Mark 8:15. The leaven of the Pharisees was externalism in religion. Matthew 23:14; Matthew 23:16; Matthew 23:23-28 of the Sadducees, scepticism as to the supernatural and as to the Scriptures Matthew 22:23; Matthew 22:29 of the Herodians, worldliness--a Herod party amongst the Jews; Matthew 22:16-21; Mark 3:6.

(3) The use of the word in Matthew 13:33 is congruous with its universal meaning.

Verse 38

world kosmos = mankind. (See Scofield "Matthew 4:8").

kingdom (See Scofield "Matthew 3:2").

Verse 39


Satan. Br. diabolos, accuser. See note, Matthew 16:23; Genesis 3:1; Revelation 20:10. (See Scofield "Revelation 20:10").

angels (See Scofield "Hebrews 1:4").

Verse 41

Son of man (See Scofield "Matthew 8:20").

angels (See Scofield "Hebrews 1:4").

kingdom (See Scofield "Matthew 3:2").

them which do Sin. (See Scofield "Romans 3:23").

Verse 43


The kingdom does not become the kingdom of the "Father" until Christ, having "put all enemies under his feet," including the last enemy, death, has "delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father" 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Revelation 20:2. There is triumph over death at the first resurrection 1 Corinthians 15:54; 1 Corinthians 15:55 but death, "the last enemy," is not destroyed till the end of the millennium. Revelation 20:14.

righteous (See Scofield "Romans 10:10"), Also, Colossians 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

Verse 44


The interpretation of the parable of the treasure, which makes the buyer of the field to be a sinner who is seeking Christ, has no warrant in the parable itself. The field is defined (Matthew 13:38) to be the world. The seeking sinner does not buy, but forsakes, the world to win Christ. Furthermore, the sinner has nothing to sell, nor is Christ for sale, nor is He hidden in a field, nor, having found Christ, does the sinner hide Him again (cf) Mark 7:24; Acts 4:20. At every point the interpretation breaks down.

Our Lord is the buyer at the awful cost of His blood 1 Peter 1:18, and Israel, especially Ephraim Jeremiah 31:5-12; Jeremiah 31:18-20 the lost tribes hidden in "the field," the world (Matthew 13:38), is the treasure; Exodus 19:5; Psalms 135:4. Again, as in the separation of tares and wheat, the angels are used; Matthew 24:31; Jeremiah 16:16. The divine Merchantman buys the field (world) for the sake of the treasure (Matthew 13:44) Romans 11:28, beloved for the fathers' sakes, and yet to be restored and saved. The note of joy (Matthew 13:44) is also that of the prophets in view of Israel's restoration. Deuteronomy 30:9; Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 52:1-3; Isaiah 62:4-7, Isaiah 65:18; Isaiah 65:19.

(See "Israel,") Genesis 11:10; Romans 11:26.

kingdom (See Scofield "Matthew 3:2")

Verse 45


The true Church, "one body" formed by the Holy Spirit 1 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13. As Israel is the hid treasure, so the Church is the pearl of great cost. Covering the same period of time as the mysteries of the kingdom, is the mystery of the Church; Romans 16:25; Romans 16:26; Ephesians 3:3-10; Ephesians 5:32. Of the true Church a pearl is a perfect symbol:

(1) A pearl is one, a perfect symbol of unity 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:4-6.

(2) a pearl is formed by the accretion, and that not mechanically, but vitally, through a living one, as Christ adds to the Church Acts 2:41; Acts 2:47; Acts 5:14; Acts 11:24; Ephesians 2:21; Colossians 2:19.

(3) Christ, having given Himself for the pearl, is now preparing it for presentation to Himself Ephesians 5:25-27. The kingdom is not the Church, but the true children of the kingdom during the fulfilment of these mysteries, baptized by one Spirit into one body 1 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13 compose the true Church, the pearl.

kingdom (See Scofield "Matthew 3:2").

Verse 47

the kingdom of heaven

The parable of the Net (Greek - δαιμονίζομαι-net) presents another view from that of the wheat and tares of the mysteries of the kingdom as the sphere of profession, but with this difference: there Satan was the active agent; here the admixture is more the result of the tendency of a movement to gather to itself that which is not really of it). The kingdom of heaven is like a net which, cast into the sea of humanity, gathers of every kind, good and bad, and these remain together in the net (Matthew 13:49) and not merely in the sea, until the end of the age. It is not even a converted net, much less a converted sea. Infinite violence has been done to sound exegesis by the notion that the world is to be converted in this age. Against that notion stands our Lord's own interpretation of the parables of the Sower, the Wheat and Tares, and the Net.

Such, then, is the mystery form of the kingdom. (See Scofield "Matthew 3:2"). See Scofield "Matthew 6:33". It is the sphere of Christian profession during this age. It is a mingled body of true and false, wheat and tares, good and bad. It is defiled by formalism, doubt, and worldliness. But within it Christ sees the true children of the true kingdom who, at the end, are to "shine forth as the sun." In the great field, the world, He sees the redeemed of all ages, but especially His hidden Israel, yet to be restored and blessed, Also, in this form of the kingdom, so unlike that which is to be, He sees the Church, His body and bride, and for joy He sells all that He has 2 Corinthians 8:9 and buys the field, the treasure, and the pearl.

heaven (See Scofield "Matthew 3:2")

Verse 49

end of the consummation of the age. Matthew 24:3.

Verse 55


Son of Alphaeus. (See Scofield "Matthew 4:21")

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These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.
Bibliographical Information
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Matthew 13". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". 1917.