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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Matthew 13

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-23

The Parable of the Sower and its Interpretation (Perseverance amidst Persecutions) - In Matthew 13:1-23 Jesus teaches the multitudes using the Parable of the Sower ( Matthew 13:1-9); but He explains privately to His disciples His purpose of teaching in parables ( Matthew 13:10-17), then He interprets this parable for them to understand ( Matthew 13:18-23). The message of the first parable, the Parable of the Sower, explains the many obstacles that the seed has to overcome in order to bear fruit, which Jesus interprets to mean that there will be a diversity of responses from those who hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, not everyone who hears the Gospel will adhere to its message and bear fruit. Only those who persevere against Satan, the cares of this world, and persecutions will produce fruit for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Here is a proposed outline:

1. First Parable: The Parable of the Sower — Matthew 13:1-9

2. The Purpose of the Parables — Matthew 13:10-17

3. The Parable of the Sower Interpreted — Matthew 13:18-23

Matthew 13:1-9 — First Parable: The Parable of the Sower ( Mark 4:1-9, Luke 8:4-8) - Matthew 13:1-9 gives us the Parable of the Sower. The sower is the man who is sent by God to preach the Gospel. Since he does not know the condition of every man's heart, he must understand that he will receive a variety of responses. He is called to sow the seed of the Gospel to every man's heart, and not become by negative responses.

The First Recorded Parable of Jesus - According to the Synoptic Gospel accounts, the Parable of the Sower is the first parable that Jesus Christ taught to the people ( Matthew 13:3, Mark 4:2, Luke 8:4). Jesus explains in Mark 4:13 that this parable is a key to understanding all of the other parables He will teach. This implies that all other parables teach on various aspects of this parable or base their truths upon the principles laid down in the Parable of the Sower. This implication is seen in Mark's record of the parables that follow this opening parable (Mk).

Mark 4:13, "And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?"

Matthew 13:1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.

Matthew 13:2 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.

Matthew 13:1-2Comments - Matthean Rabbinic Formulas Opening the Discourses - Some scholars believe that Matthew's account of Jesus being seated and His disciples (or crowds) coming to Him in the opening verses of three of the five major discourses was intentional, since it describes the traditional setting of the Jewish scribe being surrounded by his pupils ( Matthew 5:1; Matthew 13:1-2; Matthew 24:3). 464] The second and fourth discourses begin with one aspect of this formula, either Jesus gathering His disciples ( Matthew 10:1), or them coming to Him ( Matthew 18:1). In addition, this rabbinic formula is found in the middle of the third discourse simply because Jesus changes locations before completing this discourse ( Matthew 13:36).

464] Christopher R. Smith, "Literary Evidences of a FiveFold Structure in the Gospel of Matthew ," in New Testament Studies 43 (1997): 542.

Matthew 5:1, "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:"

Matthew 10:1, "And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease."

Matthew 13:1-2, "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."

Matthew 13:36, "Then Jesus sent 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."

Matthew 18:1, "At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

Matthew 24:3, "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"

Matthew 13:3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

Matthew 13:3 — "And he spake many things unto them in parables" - Comments- Thus, note that Jesus taught many parables in chapter 13.

Matthew 13:8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

Matthew 13:8Scripture Reference- A similar analogy is given in Isaiah:

Isaiah 45:8, "Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it."

Matthew 13:9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Matthew 13:10-17 — The Purpose of the Parables ( Mark 4:10-12, Luke 8:9-10) - In Matthew 13:10-17 Jesus explains to His disciples the purpose of teaching in parables, which was because of the hardness of their hearts to hear and receive the Gospel. He will later say that this hardness of heart was in fulfillment of prophecy ( Matthew 13:14; Matthew 13:35).

God's Use of Parables- God is easily able to impart a great amount of wisdom into any of us in a moment, both to saints and to sinners. God sometimes gives us a word of wisdom or a word of knowledge in order to minister to someone. God supernaturally dropped a tremendous amount of wisdom into the heart of Solomon. However, He does not choose to work this way on a day-to-day basis. God wants us to learn to pursue fellowship with Him daily in order to receive our needed Wisdom of Solomon , or "daily bread." If this wisdom were easily available to us without seeking God for it, then we would not hold it as valuable. We would be made accountable for living by it and we would be judged by it on the Day of Judgment. Thus, He also allows even the sinner to walk in his darkness out of mercy for him. For in doing Song of Solomon , the sinner will face a less harsh judgment in eternity than someone who knows the truth and rejects it. This is the reason that Jesus spoke in parables to the multitudes. These people were healed and blessed by His ministry because they believed He was a Prophet of God, yet they left these gatherings without a deeper insight into the ways of God because of the hardness of their hearts. They only wanted a blessing, but did not want to follow Him, as did His disciples.

God chooses to speak in dark sayings so that men will have to search for wisdom before finding it. In so doing, the wisdom that is someone pays a price to obtain becomes precious to the one who finds. When we dig it out and pay a price to pursue God in His infinite Wisdom of Solomon , and when He drops His wisdom into our hearts in this manner, we are able to value it as a great treasure. Note:

Proverbs 12:27, "The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious."

In the natural, the most precious metals and gems are found in the depths of the earth. In the same way is divine wisdom found. Since God will also judge the saints for what truths they know, God, in His infinite Wisdom of Solomon , only entrusts His precious truths to those to whom He has counted faithful. God does not cast His pearls before swine ( Matthew 7:6).

Matthew 7:6, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."

We find a parallel passage to Matthew 13:10-17 in Psalm 78:1-8, in which the psalmist desires to declare the hidden things of God, although their forefathers hardened their hearts.

Psalm 78:1-8, (Maschil of Asaph) Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God."

Matthew 13:10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

Matthew 13:10Comments- This is the first time that Jesus teaches in parables. Thus, the disciples ask Jesus why He begins to preach with parables. Prior to this, Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount to the multitudes, and He preached, taught, and healed the people and sent His disciples forth to do the same. Now, Jesus enters a different phrase of His ministry in which He addresses the crowds differently. Large crowds are now following Him because of the miracles; yet His time to train the Twelve now becomes His focus. Jesus must train them to witness while He ministers to the needy people. Although He speaks to the people, He teaches His disciples using real life situations of how to preach the Gospel as His primary concern.

Matthew 13:11 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.

Matthew 13:11Scripture References- Note:

Luke 18:34, "And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken."

Daniel 2:22, "He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him."

Matthew 13:12 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.

Matthew 13:12 — "For whosoever hath" - Comments- That Isaiah , whosoever has knowledge, understanding and wisdom (see verse 19).

Matthew 13:19, "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."

Matthew 13:15 — "For this people"s heart is waxed gross" - Comments - BDAG says the Greek word παχύ νω (G 3975) means, "to become dull." When a person continually surrounds himself with the cares of this world and denies himself time in the Word of God, he becomes spiritually dull and insensitive to the things of God. This dullness of heart takes place over a process of time so that the individual is often unaware of it.

Matthew 13:15 — "and I should heal them" - Comments - Sickness is the primary way that man is able to recognize his broken fellowship with God. Man has difficulty recognizing his own hardened heart and dullness of senses. However, man cannot ignore his physical discomforts and generally understands that some aspect of his life is out of order. Paul the apostle tells the believers in Corinth that this principle of sickness serves as a sign of sinfulness in the life of the beliver when he sayd, "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." ( 1 Corinthians 11:30)

Matthew 13:14-15Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - Matthew 13:14-15 is a quote from Isaiah 6:9-10.

Isaiah 6:9-10, "And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed."

Matthew 13:16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

Matthew 13:16Comments- Jesus is addressing those whose eyes and ears have been blessed by God to understanding His teachings. He did not explain this parable to everybody because only His true disciples were seeking the Word of the Kingdom; but the crowd was not. It seems as if after each teaching, the most interested people would gather around Jesus while the crowd dispersed to their worldly pursuits (Remember how Mary sat at Jesus" feet, while Martha worked).

Matthew 13:17 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.

Matthew 13:17 Scripture Reference- Note a parallel verse of Scripture:

Hebrews 11:13, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."

Matthew 13:18-23 — The Parable of the Sower Intepreted ( Mark 4:13-20, Luke 8:11-15) - In Matthew 13:18-23 Jesus interprets the Parable of the Sower for His disciples.

Interpretation of the Parable of the Sower- The Sower- On November 4, 2001, I had a dream where I saw one person scattering seeds randomly and with no cultivation and care. I then saw a well-maintained field, cultivated and well watered. I believe that the first picture is representative of how many believers are ministering the Gospel and receiving very little results. The second picture represents a ministry that is producing results for the Kingdom of God. I believe that Lighthouse Television is one of these productive ministries.

We often focus on the harvest of the seed in this parable. But it is clear that the sower is making a decision on just where to cast his seed. I believe that the sower represents ministries that used various methods of spreading the Gospel. Some ministries are much more productive than others because they find good soil and cultivate the seed that is sown. Other ministries, with very little leadership from God scatter seed so randomly that the harvest is poor.

The Seed- The seed represents the Word of God.

The Soils- In the Parable of the Sower, the different types of soils represent the different types of hearts that are found in man. Note other passages that give an analogy of man"s heart in comparison to soil.

Jeremiah 4:3, "For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. "

Hosea 10:12, "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you."

1 Corinthians 3:9, "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God"s husbandry, ye are God"s building."

The different types of soil also reveal to us the progression of events in the development of every believer's life. The soil in the roadside represents the initial proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the hardened hearts of the world. Satan is often able to steal this Word out of their hearts before they are saved. But for those hearts that are receptive, the proclamation of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World is the first step in discipleship. We find in the four Gospels and Acts an emphasis upon the proclamation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of the world.

The stony soil represents the heart that has received the message of the Gospel, but it has no depth. That Isaiah , this person has not learned the doctrines of the Church in order to become established. He has not grown in the grace and knowledge of the things of God. We find Church doctrine in the nine Church epistles of Romans through 2Thessalonians. If they will become established in the teachings of the Word of God, they will be able to persevere. But others will be offended because of persecutions from the world. We find in the epistles of Hebrews , James and 1Peter the exhortations to persevere under persecution from the world.

The soil with thorns represents the heart in which the Word of God is choked out because of worldly pursuits. This person has grown in the doctrines of the Word of God and even overcome persecutions. However, in the life of a believer, he must persevere not only amidst persecutions, but against backsliding due to false doctrines embraced by the Church itself. We see exhortations to persevere despite false doctrines from within the Church in the epistles of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3John and Jude. These epistles place emphasis upon the believer's perseverance against false doctrines. For, if they are embraced, a believer will fall back into the deceptions of the world and be overcome.

Finally, the fertile soil represents the heart that fully embraces the Word of God and grows thereby. This person has become established in the doctrines of the Church. He has persevered against persecutions (stony soil) and against false doctrines (thorny soil). He has come to a place of producing fruit for the Kingdom of God. The degrees of fruit described as thirty, sixty and one hundred-fold represent the fact that there are various levels of Christian maturity. Another insight is to say that growth of a person's fruit may be based upon the talents given to him initially by God. Or we can say that the 30-60-100-fold harvest is determined by how much of the Word of God a person applies to his life.

When trying to understand the meaning of "30-60-100 fold" we may go to Romans 12:2 and note that there are three levels of which a believer can walk within God's will. He may be walking in God's good acceptable or perfect will. Perhaps these three levels of walking within God's will produce three levels of fruit, just as we read in Mark 4:20, "and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred".

Romans 12:2, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

Thus, the Parable of the Sower ( Mark 4:1-20) reveals the first aspect of our spiritual journey when a believer first embraces the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is justified by faith. The next parable of the Light Under the Bushel ( Mark 4:21-25) explains how he then becomes rooted and grounded in the faith through the knowledge of the doctrines of the Church. With such a foundation, he is able to persevere against persecutions and false doctrines while continuing to sow his seed, as reflected in the Parable of the Growing Seed ( Mark 4:26-29), so that he can reach the goal of his salvation, which is glorification in Heaven with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is reflected in the Parable of the Mustard Seed ( Mark 4:30-32).

Matthew 13:18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

Matthew 13:18Comments- The disciples were about to hear with hearing ears. The large crowd had ears, but they did not hear the parable with understanding (verse 19).

Matthew 13:19 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.

Matthew 13:19 — "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not" - Comments- Note in Matthew 13:11 that not all people have ears to hear. The mind is the door to the heart. Understanding is what allows the seed to penetrate and settle into the heart.

"then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart" - Comments - The Word of God will bring us a victory, but not without a fight. Notice in the word "immediately" how quickly the devil is at war against the proclamation of God"s Word. Note how attentive he is to stopping the Gospel of Jesus Christ from spreading. Satan is at war with us as we sow God"s Word. We must pray for those souls as they hear the Gospel and we must bind Satan's work in their lives. We must resist the doubt and unbelief that he the devil brings to us in order to nullify the Word of God that is being sown in our hearts.

"This is he which received seed by the way side" - The "way side" ( ὁ δό ς) refers to the well-trodden path where the soil has been compacted and become incapable of allowing the seed to penetrated and grow. It is soil in which the rain runs off and on to softer soil.

Matthew 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

Matthew 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Matthew 13:21Comments- Note how Jesus explains how the Jews rejoiced in John the Baptist for a short while and soon became offended by the Gospel.

John 5:35, "He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light."

Matthew 13:22 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.

Matthew 13:23 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.

Matthew 13:23 — Comments- Note that even fruit trees vary in their productivity. Our lives and ministries vary in their productivity, also. Note the progressive idea of perseverance of each believer in his Christian life.


Verses 1-53

The Third Discourse: The Parables of the Kingdom of God Regarding Man's Reactions to the Proclamation of the Gospel - Matthew 13:1-53 is the third major discourse found in the Gospel of Matthew. The previous narrative material in Matthew 11:1 to Matthew 12:50 emphasizes the many ways that people received, rejected, and questioned the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, offering us a better understanding of how the Kingdom of Heaven is received by some and rejected by others. The third narrative section prepares us for the third major discourse when Jesus teaches on the parables in Matthew 13:1-52, which explains how the message of the Kingdom preached by God's servants is received and rejected in various ways by men. The third discourse centers on His teachings of the parables of the Kingdom of Heaven that explain how men reject the Gospel and persecute those who preach it. The third discourse also serves as a testimony of the fulfillment of Isaiah 6:9-10, which reveals the hardness of men's hearts to the preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven, and Psalm 78:2, which explains how God responds by hiding the truth from them.

Isaiah 6:9-10, "And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed."

Psalm 78:2, "I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:"

Literary Evidence of the Theme of the Third Discourse - There is literary evidence that the third discourse carries the theme of Jesus teaching on the characteristics of the Kingdom of Heaven using parables, a view supported by the frequent use of certain Greek words and phrases. For example, the word παραβολή (parable) is found eleven times within the third discourse, and only five other times outside of this section ( Matthew 15:15; Matthew 21:33; Matthew 21:45; Matthew 22:1; Matthew 24:32). In addition, the word "kingdom" is used three times by itself ( Matthew 13:19; Matthew 13:38; Matthew 13:41), but the phrase "the kingdom of heaven (is like)" or "kingdom of their Father" is found nine times in this discourse ( Matthew 13:11; Matthew 13:24; Matthew 13:31; Matthew 13:33; Matthew 13:43-45; Matthew 13:47; Matthew 13:52). The phrase "the kingdom of heaven is like" is used six times within the third discourse and only twice outside this passage ( Matthew 20:1; Matthew 22:2).

Literary Evidence of the Structure of the Third Discourse- Jesus gives seven parables about the Kingdom of Heaven in the third discourse before concluding with a final parable that explains the role of the disciples in the midst of persecutions from men. Some of the parables in the third discourse are taught in pairs: the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven are taught as a pair, showing the increase of the Kingdom of Heaven; the parable of the hidden treasure and the great pearl are taught as a pair, showing the great value of the Kingdom of Heaven. Davies and Allison recognize literary evidence within the third discourse that supports a three-fold structure in the form of repetitive phrases. After presenting the Parable of the Sower and its interpretation ( Matthew 13:1-23) as the first subsection of the third discourse, Jesus sets forth the Parable of the Tares with its interpretation with two supporting parables ( Matthew 13:24-43). Within this second subsection He uses three similar phrases: "another parable he put forth to them" ( Matthew 13:24; Matthew 13:31) and "another parable he spoke to them" ( Matthew 13:33) that give it a literary distinction. The third subsection ( Matthew 13:44-50) also contains distinct literary elements when Jesus introduces the fifth, sixth, and seventh parables with the same phrase "again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like."

Davies and Allison offer a second argument for a three-fold structure in the third discourse by noting a parallel structure to Matthew 13:10-24 and Matthew 13:34-43. Both of these passages contain similar narrative content: a reference to the multitudes, an interpretation of the preceding parable, an explanation of the function of the parables, and a prophetic fulfillment of Old Testament Scripture.

Davies and Allison offer third argument for a three-fold structure by noting that Matthew structures two "triads" of parables in both the third and fifth discourses, which serves as testimony to a Matthean characteristic throughout the Gospel, that of triplicate arrangements. Thus, Davies and Allison favor a three-fold division to the third discourse above other proposed structures based upon these three arguments. 463]

463] W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew: Commentary on Matthew XIX-XXVIII, vol 2, in The International Critical Commentary (London: T. & T. Clark Ltd, 1988), 370-371.

The group of parables that Jesus taught in Matthew 13has a "parabolic scheme," or structure, that reflects the spiritual journey of those who endeavour to persevere in fulfilling the Great Commission. While the first discourse discusses five aspects of man's spiritual journey, and the second discourse discusses four aspects, the third discourse discusses three aspects: (1) perseverance in the midst of persecutions, (2) perseverance in the midst of false doctrines within the Church, and (3) glorification.

The Parabolic Scheme of the Third Discourse- Some of the parables in the third discourse are taught in pairs: the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven are taught as a pair, showing the increase of the Kingdom of Heaven; the parable of the hidden treasure and the great pearl are taught as a pair, showing the great value of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The group of parables that Jesus taught in Matthew 13has a "parabolic scheme," or structure, that reflects the spiritual journey of those who endeavour to persevere in fulfilling the Great Commission. The first parable, the Parable of the Sower, explains how there will be a diversity of responses from those who hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only those who persevere against Satan, cares of this world, and persecutions will produce fruit for the Kingdom. The second parable, the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, explains how Satan will plant persecutions and trials in the lives of God's servants; but we are to let God judge in the end as we fulfill the love walk with our enemies. The third and fourth parables, the Parables of the Mustard Seed and Leaven, emphasize the nature of the Kingdom of God to expand and grow as ministers of the Gospel are faithful in fulfilling the Great Commission. The fifth and sixth parables, the Parables of the Hidden Treasure and Pearl of Great Price, emphasize the hope that every believer must have in order to anchor his soul in his decision to follow Christ amidst persecutions and hardships. The final seventh Parable of the Fish Net serves to explain the end result of making disciples of all nations. On the final Day of Judgment believers will be represented from all nations. This the Great Commission, to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Outline- Note the list of parables found in this discourse:

1. The Parable of the Sower — Matthew 13:1-9

2. The Purpose of the Parables — Matthew 13:10-17

3. The Explanation of the Parable of the Sower — Matthew 13:18-23

4. The Parable of the Wheat & the Tares — Matthew 13:24-30

5. The Parable of the Mustard Seed — Matthew 13:31-32

6. The Parable of the Leaven — Matthew 13:33

7. The Purpose of the Parables — Matthew 13:34-35

8. The Explanation of the Parable of the Wheat/Tares — Matthew 13:36-43

9. The Parable of the Hidden Treasure — Matthew 13:44

10. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price — Matthew 13:45-46

11. The Parable of the Net of Fishes — Matthew 13:47-50

12. Conclusion to the Parables — (Parable of the Scribe) — Matthew 13:51-53

The Recipients to the Five Discourses of the Gospel of Matthew - The five discourses that Jesus Christ delivered during His earthly ministry were primarily directed to His disciples ( Matthew 5:1; Matthew 10:1; Matthew 13:10-11; Matthew 13:36-37; Matthew 18:1; Matthew 24:3). Although the multitudes gathered together to receive miracles and to hear Him, Matthew is accurate to note that Jesus addressed these discourse to His disciples. Thus, the purpose of the five discourses was the training of the Twelve, preparing them for His final command to take the Gospel to the nations, which is traditionally called the Great Commission ( Matthew 28:18-20).

References to Satan in the Parables- Note that Jesus will refer to Satan on numerous occasions in the third discourse: "the wicked one" ( Matthew 13:19; Matthew 13:38), "his enemy" ( Matthew 13:25; Matthew 13:28), "the enemy…the devil" ( Matthew 13:39). Jesus refers to the devil often in these parables because He wants us to understand that Satan is behind all persecutions and hardships that are encountered in this life.

The Five Major Discourses: Similarities with the Structure of the New Testament - Besides the similarities between the Pentateuch and the Gospel of Matthew , we find similarities between the five major discourses and the structure of the New Testament writings. To begin with, we know that the nine Pauline Church Epistles establish the doctrines of the New Testament Church. The three Pastoral Epistles establish the order and ministry of the Church. The three General Epistles of Hebrews , James and 1Peter establish the perseverance of the saints in regards to persecutions from without the Church. The five General Epistles of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3John and Jude establish the perseverance of the saints in regards to persecutions from false doctrines within the church.

In a similar manner, we can compare the Sermon on the Mount to the Church Epistles in that they lay the foundation for the doctrine of the Kingdom of God and of the New Testament Church. The second discourse of Jesus sending out the twelve establishes the ministry and order of the Church, which can be compared to the Pastoral Epistles. The third discourse regarding the parables of the Kingdom of Heaven which reveals the ways in which men reject the preaching of the Gospel can be compared to the General Epistles of Hebrews , James and 1Peter which deal with persecutions from without. The fourth discourse of dealing with offences and persecutions from the Jewish leaders can be compared with the General Epistles of 2Peter, 1, 23John and Jude which discuss persecutions from false doctrine within the Church. The emphasis upon false doctrine in this narrative material is because the theme of this passage is about offences because of false doctrines in the Kingdom of God. These offences are not coming from the multitudes but from those who appear to be within the Kingdom of God, that Isaiah , the religious leaders. The fifth Eschatological discourse of the Second Coming of Christ can be compared to the book of Revelation , which deals with the glorification of the Church.

The Five Major Discourses: Similarities With the Six Foundational Doctrines of the New Testament Church- If we compare the foundational doctrines listed in Hebrews 6:1-2 with the scheme of the five major discourses in Matthew's Gospel, we can observe some parallels.

Hebrews 6:1-2, "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment."

The six foundational doctrines found in Hebrews 6:1-2 were laid down by Jesus Christ. It is these six doctrines upon which the Kingdom of Heaven is established:

1. repentance from dead works

2. faith toward God

3. the doctrine of baptisms

4. laying on of hands

5. resurrection of the dead

6. eternal judgment

Jesus' first discourse, the Sermon on the Mount, finds its parallel in the third foundational doctrine of the doctrine of baptisms. The second discourse, the Sending out of the Twelve, parallels the laying on of hands for Christian service. The third and fourth discourses emphasize the perseverance of the saints. The last discourse, the Eschatological Discourse, places most of its emphasis upon the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.


Verses 24-43

The Parable of the Tares with its Interpretation and Supporting Parables (Perseverance amidst False Doctrines within the Church) - The second parable, the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, explains how Satan will plant persecutions and trials in the midst of God's servants; but we must allow God to judge in the end as we fulfill the love walk in the midst of our enemies. The third and fourth parables, the Parables of the Mustard Seed and Leaven, support the theme of the Parable of the Wheat and Tares in that they describe the growth of the Kingdom in the midst of the clean and the unclean, the leavened and the unleavened. As God's servants are faithful in in fulfilling the Great Commission, the Kingdom is certain to become the greatest upon earth.

Here is a proposed outline:

1. Second Parable: The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares — Matthew 13:24-30

2. Third Parable: The Parable of the Mustard Seed — Matthew 13:31-32

3. Fourth Parable: The Parable of the Leaven — Matthew 13:33

4. The Purpose of the Parables — Matthew 13:34-35

5. The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares Explained — Matthew 13:36-43

Matthew 13:24-30 — Second Parable: The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares - In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus tells the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. This parable is unique to Matthew's Gospel. The underlying emphasis of Jesus' third discourse ( Matthew 13:1-52) is on persecutions that arise when preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Thus, we can interpret the allegorical meanings in this parable in light of the underlying theme of persecutions, which suggests that the tares represent the persecutors and hardships that Satan plants among believers which everyone encounters while serving the Lord in this world. The reason the tares are left to grow along with the wheat is because we are not to embark on physical warfare against our persecutors. Rather, we are to patiently await God's final judgment against them while we persevere in the love walk. God will render His final judgment in the last day.

The Harvest of the Tares Precedes that of the Wheat- Perhaps one reason the tares are harvested before the wheat in Matthew 13:30 may be because the Great White Throne Judgment will take place at the end of the age before the righteous are ushered into their eternal home in paradise.

Matthew 13:24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

Matthew 13:24Comments - The first parable taught by Jesus, the Parable of the Sower, does not begin with the phrase "the kingdom of heaven is like…" simply because it does not describe the characteristics of the Kingdom of Heaven, but rather, those to whom the Gospel is preached. For those who accept the Gospel, Jesus now describes the principles of this new Kingdom which they have joined.

Matthew 13:31-32 — Third Parable: The Parable of the Mustard Seed ( Mark 4:30-32, Luke 13:18-19) - In Matthew 13:31-32 Jesus tells us the story of the Parable of the Mustard Seed. If we examine this parable in the parallel account of Mark's Gospel, we see that it tells us the end result of our faithfulness to preach the Gospel; for it will cause the Kingdom of God to grow into the greatest kingdom upon the earth. While this parable in Mark's Gospel reflects our glorification at the end of our journey, Matthew's parable is set within the context of the proclamation of the Gospel in the midst of persecutions. Matthew's parable is teaching us that the Kingdom of God will grow and reach its fullness in the hearts of men in midst of the persecutions that accompany the proclamation of the Gospel. Of all the seeds sown into the hearts of men through teaching doctrine, the Gospel has the greatest potential to transform and change mankind.

The full maturity of the mustard seed reflects the fullness of the Kingdom of God upon the earth, which will take place at the Second Coming of Christ Jesus when He will rule and reign from Jerusalem. Thus, the fowls of the air that lodge under its shadow could symbolize the nations who come to Jerusalem to honor the Lord and find rest and peace as a result of doing so.

Old Testament Analogies- The analogy of a great tree providing shelter for the animals is used a number of times in Scriptures. Note a similar analogy in Ezekiel 17:22-24 of a great tree providing shade and shelter for animals.

Ezekiel 17:22-24, "Thus saith the Lord GOD I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent: In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell. And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the LORD have spoken and have done it."

In addition, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream in which a tree grew to be the greatest among trees, reaching to the heavens, with the beasts finding shade under it and the birds nesting in its branches ( Daniel 4:12).

Daniel 4:12, "The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it."

Matthew 13:31 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:

Matthew 13:31 — "which a man took, and sowed in his field" - Comments- Man has a role in the sowing and growing of the seed. Man has to plant it. This means that a person has to receive the Word of God has into his heart before it can take root and grow.

Matthew 13:32 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.

Matthew 13:32 — "Which indeed is the least of all seeds" - Comments- Jesus' ministry started so small that the Jews and Romans did not feel it necessary to stop it. Yet, it has grown to become the greatest ministry on earth.

Matthew 13:32 — "so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof" - Comments - In nature, all species of birds lodge in the branches of the same trees. In the Kingdom of Heaven, all people are blessed by its contribution to mankind; however, not everyone is a member of the Kingdom.

In nature, trees are sought by animals as a place of refugee. The birds flee to a tree during the rain and storms. The insects flee to the trees to hide and spend the night. The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a tree because this kingdom will be a place of refugee to the children of God.

Matthew 13:33 — Fourth Parable: The Parable of the Leaven ( Luke 13:20-21) - In Matthew 13:33 Jesus tells us the Parable of the Leaven. Luke's Gospel places the Parable of the Leaven with the Parable of the Mustard Seed, which implies a similar interpretation. We can now interpret the Parable of the Leaven as saying the same thing about the future fullness of the Kingdom of God upon earth. Just as the full maturity of the mustard seed reflects the fullness of the Kingdom of God upon the earth, which will take place at the Second Coming of Christ Jesus when He will rule and reign from Jerusalem, so does the leaven in the bread represent the same.

Matthew 13:33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Matthew 13:33 — "and hid in three measures of meal" - Comments- One pastor suggests that the number three symbolizes the three-fold make-up of man. He says that when the seed of the Word of God is planted within a person, it begins to permeate the entire man: spirit, soul and body. It begins to transform that entire person.

Matthew 13:33Comments- Yeast is a fungi, of which there are one hundred and sixty known species. Baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiaeis) is the one most commonly used in kitchens today. As the yeast feeds on the sugars in the bread, it produces carbon dioxide gas as a by produce. This gas fills the small air pockets in the bread and causes it to rise. 465] As the yeast feeds, it also multiplies into billions of other yeast cells, thus, permeating the dough of bread, causing all of it to rise.

465] The Accidental Scientist, "The Science of Cooking," [on-line]; accessed 22September 2010, available from http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/bread/activity-yeast.html

Matthew 13:34-35 — The Purpose of the Parables ( Mark 4:33-34) - Matthew 13:34-35 explains that the teaching in parables by Jesus was a fulfillment of prophecy.

Matthew 13:34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:

Matthew 13:35 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.

Matthew 13:35 — "That it might be fulfilled" - Comments- Comments- The phrase ἵνα πληρωθῇ (that it might be fulfilled) is unique to the Gospel of Matthew , being used nine times ( Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:15; Matthew 2:17; Matthew 2:23; Matthew 4:14; Matthew 8:17; Matthew 12:17; Matthew 13:35; Matthew 21:4), with similar phrases being used loosely three times in other places in Matthew ( Matthew 13:14; Matthew 26:56; Matthew 27:9). 466] The reason this phrase is unique to the Gospel of Matthew is because the primary theme of this Gospel is the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures, which states that Jesus Christ is the coming Messiah, who will reign as King of the Jews. Thus, the Gospel of Matthew continually declares that Jesus Christ fulfills Old Testament Messianic passages.

466] A tenth Matthean ἵνα πληρωθῇ formula can be found in Matthew 27:35 in the KJV. However, the rules of modern textual criticism require the omission this phrase from the UBS4 because it is not found in the earliest Greek manuscripts. Thus, only nine ἵνα πληρωθῇ formulae will be considered in this commentary.

Matthew 13:35 — "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" - Comments- Matthew 13:35 is a quote from Psalm 78:2, "I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:"

Brenton"s English Translation of the Septuagint, "I will open my mouth in parables: I will utter dark sayings [which have been] from the beginning."

Matthew 13:36-43 — The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares Explained - In Matthew 13:36-43 Jesus explains the meaning of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares which He told in Matthew 13:24-30. The "field" is the world, not the Church. This does not mean that we in the Church are not to judge sin and to purge sin out of our midst. 1 Corinthians 5:1-7 shows the Church how to properly do this. An illustration of this is in Acts 5:1-11, where the Church judged Ananias and Sapphira.

1 Corinthians 5:7, "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:"

Matthew 13:36 Then Jesus sent 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.

Matthew 13:36Comments- Some scholars believe that Matthew's account of Jesus being seated and His disciples (or crowds) coming to Him in the opening verses of three of the five major discourses was intentional, since it describes the traditional setting of the Jewish scribe being surrounded by his pupils ( Matthew 5:1; Matthew 13:1-2; Matthew 24:3). 467] The second and fourth discourses begin with one aspect of this formula, either Jesus gathering His disciples ( Matthew 10:1), or them coming to Him ( Matthew 18:1). In addition, this rabbinic formula is found in the middle of the third discourse simply because Jesus changes locations before completing this discourse ( Matthew 13:36).

467] Christopher R. Smith, "Literary Evidences of a FiveFold Structure in the Gospel of Matthew ," in New Testament Studies 43 (1997): 542.

Matthew 5:1, "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:"

Matthew 10:1, "And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease."

Matthew 13:1-2, "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."

Matthew 13:36, "Then Jesus sent 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."

Matthew 18:1, "At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

Matthew 24:3, "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"

Matthew 13:37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

Matthew 13:38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

Matthew 13:38 — "The field is the world" - Scripture References- Note:

John 15:19, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."

John 17:11, "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are."

John 17:14-16, "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

James 1:27, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

Matthew 13:43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.


Verses 44-50

Parables on the Glorification of the Kingdom- The fifth and sixth parables, the Parables of the Hidden Treasure and Pearl of Great Price, emphasize the hope that every believer must have in order to anchor his soul in his decision to follow Christ amidst persecutions and hardships. The final seventh Parable of the Fish Net serves to explain the end result of making disciples of all nations, the glorification of the saints and judgment of the sinners. On the final Day of Judgment believers will be represented from all nations. This the Great Commission, to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Here is a proposed outline:

1. Fifth Parable: The Parable of the Hidden Treasure — Matthew 13:44

2. Sixth Parable: The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price — Matthew 13:45-46

3. Seventh Parable: The Parable of the Net of Fishes — Matthew 13:47-50

4. Conclusion to the Parables — Matthew 13:51-52

Matthew 13:44 — Fifth Parable: The Parable of the Hidden Treasure - In Matthew 13:44 Jesus tells the Parable of the Hidden Treasure. This parable is unique to Matthew's Gospel. It is taught as a pair with the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price so that Jesus explains the same divine truth in two ways. These two parables emphasize the aspect of a believer's hope in his eternal rewards. This hope serves as an anchor of the soul to help us persevere in this life, which is the underlying theme of this third discourse.

Matthew 13:44 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.

Matthew 13:45-46 — Sixth Parable: The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price- In Matthew 13:45-46 Jesus tells the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price. This parable is unique to Matthew's Gospel.

Matthew 13:47-50 — Seventh Parable: The Parable of the Net of Fishes- In Matthew 13:47-50 Jesus tells the Parable of the Net of Fishes. This parable is unique to Matthew's Gospel. This final parable gives us an eschatological perspective on the Kingdom of Heaven. The metaphor of "casting our nets into the sea" suggests end result of making disciples of all nations. There will be converts from every nation, and those who reject the Gospel within every nation. Thus, the metaphor "of every kind" seems to represent the nations.


Verses 51-53

Conclusion to the Parables - In Matthew 13:51-53 Jesus concludes His discourse by asking His disciples if they have now understood the meaning of these parables. After they acknowledge their understanding Jesus likens His disciples to scribes who must take these new concepts regarding the Kingdom of Heaven and reconcile them with the Old Testament with which they are so familiar.

Matthew 13:51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.

Matthew 13:51Comments- Jesus asks His disciples if they understood the meaning of the parables. He is going to send them out after His Resurrection as "scribes instructed in the kingdom of heaven," which statement He makes in the following verse; and these disciples must teach others about the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 13:52 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.

Matthew 13:52Comments (The Role of the Jewish Scribe) - A scribe in the Jewish culture was a community leader who was skilled in instructing out of the Old Testament. Jesus is now saying in Matthew 13:52 that a scribe instructed in the Kingdom of God should now be able to pull out "treasures" from the Old Testament and interpret them in light of the new covenant which was about to be instituted. The new is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Jesus had just said in Matthew 13:35 that in teaching parables He was bringing forth things that were "hidden" from the foundation of the world. These hidden things He now describes as "treasures." The scribes in the Kingdom were to now do this when educating the people about the new covenant. Thus, the old is the Old Covenant, the Law and Prophets, especially those prophecies concerning Jesus. For example, in churches old hymns are still sung from the hymn books, but we bring forth new, contemporary worship and praise songs and use them along with the traditional hymns. Also, we have much new technology brought forth in recent years, but we still have old, enduring items that make our daily lives better.

We are to keep our godly heritage, but embrace new applications in today's world. For example, although our dress style or what kind of car we drive constantly change, prayer and a passion for God will always be fundamental to our faith.

Matthew 13:52Comments (2) - The reference to a scribe instructing people about the kingdom of God reflects the third theme of the Gospel of Matthew , which is the call to make disciples of all nations through the office and ministry of the teacher.

Matthew 13:53 — Conclusion - Matthew 13:53 serves as a transitional statement for the next major section of the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew 13:53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.

Matthew 13:53Comments- Matthew 13:53 is one of the five verses in this Gospel that identifies the end of a major discourse. Each of these five lengthy discourses ends with the similar phrase, "when Jesus had finished these sayings (or parables)," giving these five sections a common division.

Matthew 7:28-29, "And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."

Matthew 11:1, "And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities."

Matthew 13:53, "And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence."

Matthew 19:1, "And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;"

Matthew 26:1, "And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,"

Thus, each of these five discourses is separated with large sections of narrative material, with the discourses being interwoven between the narratives. Each section of narrative material relates to and prepares us for the next discourse.


Verse 54

Examples of Offences and Confessions of Faith in the Kingdom of Heaven - Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 17:27 deals with perseverance in the Kingdom of Heaven as does the previous narrative section ( Matthew 11:2 to Matthew 12:50); however, the emphasis here is upon the rejection and acceptance of the doctrines of the Kingdom. This narrative section carries forward previous themes as well, seen in the fact that Jesus continues to train the Twelve as He performs miracles and ministers to the people (the theme of the second major division), and seen in the fact that Jesus faces increasing persecution from the Jewish leaders (the theme of the third major division). In addition, Jesus now reveals Himself to the Twelve and predicts His Passion and Resurrection. This narrative material is related to the fourth major discourse that will follow ( Matthew 18:1-35) in that Jesus will then teach His disciples on the same topic of how to deal with offenses. The emphasis in this narrative material is that it serves as a testimony of the fulfillment of Isaiah 29:13, reflecting the theme of this division of Matthew on persecutions from within.

Isaiah 29:13, "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:"

This prophecy tells us that there will be those who appear to be members of the Kingdom, but their doctrine in wrong because their hearts are not with God. The remedy to persevere amidst this challenge is to come to the revelation of God's Word, a doctrine founded upon the confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, a confession of faith made by Peter ( Matthew 16:16) upon which the doctrines of the New Testament Church are founded.

Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 17:27 has one of the most difficult structures to identify within the Gospel. 471] The key to understanding its structure is the fact that it generally alternates between those who deny the deity of Jesus Christ and those who acknowledge Him. Regarding the passages of denial, the Jews deny the testimony of Jesus and John the Baptist ( Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 14:12), the testimony of the Scriptures ( Matthew 15:1-20), and the testimony of Jesus' miracles ( Matthew 16:1-12). Regarding the passages of acceptance, David Turner recognizes clear "affirmations of faith" woven in the midst of these denials of Jesus' deity. 472] The pericopes that show the Jews denying the testimony of Jesus and John the Baptist are followed by a series of miracles that solicit a confession from the Twelve declaring Jesus as the Son of God ( Matthew 14:33). The pericope that shows the Jewish leaders denying the Scriptures for tradition is followed by the Syro-Phoenician woman's confession of faith in Jesus' words ( Matthew 15:28). The pericope that shows the Jews denying the testimony of miracles performed by Jesus is followed by the confession of Simon Peter at Caesarea Philippi that Jesus is the Son of God ( Matthew 16:16). These events climax when Jesus reveals various aspects of the atonement and the responsibility of His disciples to this revelation ( Matthew 16:21 to Matthew 17:27).

471] David L. Turner, Matthew , in Baker Evangelical Commentary on the New Testament, eds. Robert Yarbrough and Robert H. Stein (Ada, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 357.

472] David L. Turner, Matthew , in Baker Evangelical Commentary on the New Testament, eds. Robert Yarbrough and Robert H. Stein (Ada, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 357.

Outline: Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Rejection of Jesus & John the Baptist — Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 14:36

2. The Rejection of Old Testament Scriptures — Matthew 15:1-39

3. The Rejection of the Miracles of Jesus — Matthew 16:1-20

4. The Revelation of the Atonement of Jesus Christ — Matthew 16:21 to Matthew 17:27

Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 14:36 — The Rejection of the Doctrine of Jesus and John the Baptist - In Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 14:36 emphasis is placed upon the rejection of the message and doctrine of Jesus Christ and of John the Baptist by the Jewish leaders ( Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 14:12) and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Son of God by the disciples ( Matthew 14:13-36).

Here is a proposed outline:

1. Rejection of Jesus' Doctrine at Nazareth — Matthew 13:54-58

2. Rejection of the Baptist's Doctrine by Herod — Matthew 14:1-12

3. Acceptance of Doctrine of Jesus Christ: Three Miracles — Matthew 14:13-36

a) Feeding of Five Thousand — Matthew 14:13-21

b) Jesus Walks on the Water — Matthew 14:22-33

c) Jesus Heals the Multitudes in Gennesaret — Matthew 14:34-36


Verse 54

Handling Offences and Persecutions in the Kingdom of God - Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 18:35 emphasizes the theme of how God's children are to handle offences and persecutions over doctrinal issues within the Kingdom of Heaven. 468] The narrative passage of Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 17:27 emphasizes the many occasions when offences came into Jesus' ministry from the Jewish leaders and shows us how Jesus responded to offences. This narrative material builds upon the theme of the previous narrative material found in Matthew 11:2 to Matthew 12:50 regarding man's reactions to the King. 469] This is because persecutions will come from those who adhere to false doctrines when we preach the Gospel and we must learn how to handle these offences. In this fourth narrative section, Jesus also explains to His disciples the dangers of offending others. Thus, the fourth discourse ( Matthew 18:1-35) teaches the disciples how to properly deal with these offences within the Church, which Jesus experiences in the preceding narrative passage.

468] Benjamin Bacon identifies the theme of to 18:35 as church government and the problems of church unity. He says, "Because of this unmistakable interest dominating the whole structure of Division B ( Matthew 18) we naturally expect from previous experience of our evangelist"s use of his material that Division A will lead up to this Discourse on church government with narrative selections of corresponding character. In reality such is the case…" See Benjamin W. Bacon, Studies in Matthew (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1930), 397, 410.

469] Craig Blomberg says two major themes are carried over from the previous narrative material, which are the increased intensity of the rejection of Jesus Christ and His message, and the progressive, Christological revelation of His identity to the Twelve. He says the development of these two themes create "sharper lines of demarcation between insiders and outsiders." See Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew , in The New American Commentary, vol 22 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 226. David Turner describes the two leading themes in the fourth narrative section as "increased oppition and conflict" and the works and teachings of Jesus intended to increase the faith of His disciples. See David L. Turner, Matthew , in Baker Evangelical Commentary on the New Testament, eds. Robert Yarbrough and Robert H. Stein (Ada, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 358.

The one Old Testament prophecy of this division in Matthew's Gospel is Matthew 15:7-9, which quotes Isaiah 29:13 and simply prophecies how God's own people would rejected the Gospel, reflecting the theme of this division of Matthew on persecutions from within.

Matthew 15:7-9, "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

Isaiah 29:13, "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:"

In the fourth major discourse ( Matthew 18:1-35) that immediately follows the narrative material Jesus lays down principles for His disciples to follow when dealing with offences. He quotes Deuteronomy 19:15 as a guideline for His disciples to use when dealing with offences.

Deuteronomy 19:15, "One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established."

We may compares this major division of material to the General Epistles of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3John and Jude in that they also emphasize persecutions that come from those who hold fast to false doctrines.

The section of Matthew emphasizing sanctification through perseverance from persecutions within ( Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 18:35) closes with a transitional sentence that concludes each of the five discourses, telling us that Jesus had ended His teaching ( Matthew 19:1).

Matthew 19:1, "And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;"

Literary Evidence of a Common Theme between the Fourth Narrative Section and the Discourse that Follows - There is literary evidence that connects the third narrative-discourse section with the fourth narrative-discourse section. While these two macro structures share the same theme of perseverance in the faith for the child of God, there is literary evidence to confirm this connection. 470] For example, the fourth narrative section is related in retrospect to the third discourse in the fact that the Greek word συνίημι is used nine times in the Gospel of Matthew , with six uses in the third discourse ( Matthew 13:13-15; Matthew 13:19; Matthew 13:23; Matthew 13:51) and three uses in the fourth narrative ( Matthew 15:10; Matthew 16:12; Matthew 17:13). This literary evidence reflects the common theme of the servant of God's need to persevere in the faith in the midst of offenses by hold fast to one's understanding and confession of faith in God's eternal Word. In addition, the fourth narrative section shares a common theme with the fourth discourse that follows in the use of the Greek words σκανδαλί ζω and σκά νδαλον, key words Jesus uses four times in the course of the fourth narrative ( Matthew 13:57; Matthew 15:12; Matthew 16:23; Matthew 17:27), as well as six times during the fourth discourse ( Matthew 18:6-7[three], 8, 9). Note that this key word opens and closes the fourth narrative section ( Matthew 13:57; Matthew 17:27).

470] The thematic scheme of perseverance connects third and fourth narrative-discourse sections. Scholars acknowledge the connection of these sections. For example, A. G. van Aarde says, " Matthew 13:53-17:27, the fourth micronarrative, in an associative manner relates retrospectively to the third discourse (13:1-52) and prospectively to the fourth discourse (18:1-35), while correlating concentrically with the corresponding third micronarrative (11:2-12:50)." He again says, "the "structural interrelatedness of chapters 13, 14-17,18 fits into the concentric and progressive structure of the Gospel of Matthew as a whole." See A. G. van Aarde, "Matthew's Portrayal of the Disciples and the Structure of Matthew 13:53 - 17:27 ," Neotestamentica 16 (1982): 21, 22.

Sanctification: Perseverance- Numbers Versus Fourth Discourse which Deals with Persecutions from Within- We see in the book of Numbers the establishment of the journey of perseverance that the children of Israel endured during the forty-year wilderness journey. In a similar way the fourth discourse on church discipline establishes the perseverance of the Church that every believer must endure.

The narrative passage of Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 17:27 emphasizes the many occasions when offences came into Jesus' ministry from the Jewish leaders. In this passage, Jesus explained to His disciples the dangers of offending others. Thus, the fourth discourse ( Matthew 18:1-35) teaches the disciples how to properly deal with these offences within the Church, which Jesus experiences in the preceding narrative passage.

In summary, the fact that Matthew 11-18 deals with obstacles and persecutions along the journey as a servant of the Lord is a clear reminder of how the children of Israel wandered in the desert facing similar challenges in the book of Numbers.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Narrative: Examples of Offences — Matthew 13:54 to Matthew 17:27

2. The Fourth Discourse: Dealing with Offences — Matthew 18:1-35


Verses 54-58

The Rejection of Jesus' Doctrine at Nazareth ( Mark 6:1-6, Luke 4:14-30) - Matthew 13:54-58 tells us the story of how the hometown of Nazareth rejected the doctrine of Jesus Christ. We find this parallel story in Luke's Gospel placed at the beginning of His Galilean ministry because Luke uses this story to show the authority and anointing of His teaching ministry. Mark's Gospel records this same story by placing emphasis upon how Jesus preached the Gospel with miracles following. Matthew's Gospel is the most brief as it simply emphasizes how Jesus faced offences to His doctrine and how He handled it.

The Transition of Themes Reflected in the Story of the Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth - The Gospel of Matthew makes a transition in its thematic scheme from an emphasis upon perseverance in the midst of offenses to perseverance in God's Word as Jesus is now rejected in His hometown of Nazareth because of offenses. 473]

473] Christopher R. Smith, "Literary Evidences of a FiveFold Structure in the Gospel of Matthew ," in New Testament Studies 43 (1997): 549-550.

Comparison of Jesus' Visit to Nazareth in the Synoptics - The Synoptic Gospels give parallel accounts of Jesus' visit to Nazareth ( Matthew 13:54-58, Mark 6:1-6, Luke 4:16-30). While the Gospel of Luke introduces Jesus' public ministry beginning with His visit to His hometown of Nazareth, the Gospels of Matthew and Mark offer a prior record of Jesus' early public ministry before He entered His hometown. Thus, Jesus had "taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all" ( Luke 4:15) prior to entering the town of Nazareth. In other words, the narrative material of Jesus' public ministry prior to His visit to Nazareth recorded in Matthew and Mark ( Matthew 4:12 to Matthew 13:53, Mark 1:14 to Mark 5:43) shows us how Jesus was glorified throughout Galilee for His miracles and healing power before entering His hometown. Luke's introductory statement ( Luke 4:14-15) also tells us that Jesus continued to minister mightily in Galilee after being rejected in Nazareth. Jesus ministered in the power of the Spirit, teaching in their synagogues, and being glorified by the people. Thus, Luke 4:14-15 serves as an introductory passage of Jesus' anointing and fame in Galilee, with examples found in the narrative material of Luke that follows. Although He was initially rejected in His hometown of Nazareth and was not able to heal the sick ( Luke 4:16-25), the Galileans glorified Him while teaching in the synagogues ( Luke 4:15; Luke 4:22). Later in a synagogue in Capernaum "they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power" ( Luke 4:32), "they were all amazed" ( Luke 4:36), "(Peter) was astonished, and all that were with him" ( Luke 5:9), "there a fame abroad of him" ( Luke 5:15), "they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear" ( Luke 5:26). The Galileans were amazed and declared that with authority and power He speaks. It is this authority that gave Him dominion all manner of sickness and disease. Luke's account of Jesus' Galilean ministry will place emphasis upon Jesus teaching and preaching with divine authority and power over every area of man's life: sickness, sin and Jewish customs, including nature itself. He begins His Galilean ministry in the power of the Spirit ( Luke 4:14). As a result, He heals the multitudes in the region of Galilee. This is the two-fold emphasis in Luke's Gospel of His Galilean ministry, of preaching the Gospel under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, an emphasis not found in Matthew and Mark.

The Infancy Gospels - Grant Osborne notes how the recognition of Jesus as a simple carpenter by the people of Nazareth contradicts the stories recorded in the Infancy Gospels of miracles that Jesus performed as a child recorded. 474] Had Jesus performed miracles as a child, the people of Nazareth would have reacted differently, greatly fearing Him, rather than running Him out of the city.

474] Grant R. Osborne, Matthew , in Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Clinton E. Arnold (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 550. The stories of Jesus working miracles as a child are recorded in the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel fo Pseudo-Matthew, and The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy. See Montague Rhodes James , The Apocryphal New Testament being the Apocryphal Gospels, Acts , Epistles, and Apocalypses (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, c 1924, 1963), 49-82.

Matthew 13:57 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.

Matthew 13:57Comments - The declaration by Jesus Christ that a prophet is not accepted in his own country is recorded in the all four Gospels ( Matthew 13:57, Mark 6:4, Luke 4:24, John 4:44). While the Synoptic Gospels place this statement within the story of Jesus' rejection in His home town of Nazareth ( Matthew 13:53-58, Mark 6:1-6, Luke 4:16-30), John alone records this declaration of Jesus within the context of His testimony to the Jews in Judea of His call as the Saviour of the world.

Matthew 13:57, "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."

Mark 6:4, "But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house."

Luke 4:24, "And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country."

Those family and friends who had grown up with Jesus and lived with Him had a difficult time accepting Him as the Messiah, while the rest of Galilee received Him gladly. Andrew Wommack quotes this proverb, "Familiarity breeds contempt." 475] In other words, when we become too familiar with someone, we generally are less likely to praise his gifts, and more likely to condemn his weaknesses. Although Jesus Christ had not faults, no sin, He was fully human. Those who became familiar with His humanity had a difficult time embracing His deity. The writings of the New Testament reveal that Paul the apostle had a greater revelation of who Jesus Christ was than did the Twelve who walked with Him for three and a half years. This is because Paul only knew Jesus as the Resurrected Christ. He did not have to lay aside his experience of walking with Jesus as flesh and blood. It is easier for us to understand the revelation of the deity of Jesus Christ than it was for those who walked with Him on earth because we can only view Him by the Word of God through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Jesus said, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." ( John 20:29) There is a greater blessing in believing for those who have not seen Him because it is easier to take hold of the Word of God through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.

475] Andrew Wommack, "Familiarity Breeds Contempt," in One Year With Jesus: February 16th, [on-line]; accessed 17 February 2012; available from http://www.awmi.net/devotion/jesus/feb 16; Internet.

Matthew 13:58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Matthew 13:58Comments- Andrew Wommack gives this illustration. We can help a driver get his car started if it has a dead battery by push starting the engine. It is then necessary that the driver put the transmission in first gear. But, if this same drive does not want help and puts on the brake, then our pushing becomes futile. This was the case when Jesus came to minister in His home town. These people "put on the brakes" of their faith and resisted His message, and thus, His help. 476]

476] Andrew Wommack, Gospel Truth (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Andrew Wommack Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Matthew 13:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/matthew-13.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, September 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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