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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Matthew 13

 

 

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Introduction

Matthew 13. Teaching by Parables (Mark 4:1-34*; also cf. p. 659).—This chapter forms Mt.'s third group of collected sayings; it includes seven parables with some explanation.


Verses 1-15

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

Matthew 13:10-15. The Use of Parables (Mark 4:10-12*, Luke 8:9 f.).


Verses 18-23

Matthew 13:18-23. Explanation of the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:13-20*, Luke 8:11-15).

Little need be added to what is said on p. 686. The parable no doubt reflects the experience of Jesus. Like the sower He, in His work of preparing the people for the Kingdom, encounters difficulties of different kinds and partial failure. Much of His preaching has been thrown away. Yet He is not daunted; the reward is sure. When the Kingdom comes, the work will be justified and its disappointments forgotten. These ideas are further illustrated by the other parables of the chapter.

Note that Mt. somewhat modifies the hard saying of Mark 4:11 f. Jesus uses parables not to blind the Jews, but, since they have no capacity for Divine truth, to leave them in the dark, while the disciples who have faith (Matthew 13:12) grasp the inner meaning.

Matthew 13:10. mysteries: Mt. prefers plurals. Jewish apocalyptic literature often speaks of certain eschatological ideas as mysteries or secrets revealed to the elect. Cf. Ephesians 1:9*.

Matthew 13:12. = Mark 4:25.

Matthew 13:16 f., not in Mk., is in a better context in Luke 10:23 f. In Mk. the disciples ask the meaning of the parables and are reproved, in Mt. they ask why parables are used and are congratulated.


Verses 24-30

Matthew 13:24-30, Matthew 13:36-43. The Wheat and the Tares.—Mt. only. The parable is a substitute for rather than an adaptation of Mark 4:26-29*. We need not deny its genuineness on the plea that the standpoint is that of the Church with its mixed elements. "The field is the world," not the Church. As in the parable of the seed growing secretly, the non-interference of man is illustrated. Only the great Assize can determine between good and bad. The genuineness of the explanation is more doubtful than in the case of the Sower, and may be an imitation of it. It is mechanical and conventionally apocalyptic.

Matthew 13:31-35. The Mustard Seed and the Leaven (Mark 4:30-34*, Luke 13:18-21)—The leaven (omitted from Mk.), usually an illustration of evil, is here a ferment of good (cf. "salt," Matthew 5:13), either the disciples or the Gospel—the doctrine of the Kingdom. The point of the quotation (Psalms 78:2; some MSS. curiously add Isaiah after "the prophet") in Matthew 13:35 is in the second clause—the Kingdom foreordained and predestined is now ushered in by Jesus.

Matthew 13:36-43. See above.


Verses 36-43

Matthew 13:24-30, Matthew 13:36-43. The Wheat and the Tares.—Mt. only. The parable is a substitute for rather than an adaptation of Mark 4:26-29*. We need not deny its genuineness on the plea that the standpoint is that of the Church with its mixed elements. "The field is the world," not the Church. As in the parable of the seed growing secretly, the non-interference of man is illustrated. Only the great Assize can determine between good and bad. The genuineness of the explanation is more doubtful than in the case of the Sower, and may be an imitation of it. It is mechanical and conventionally apocalyptic.

Matthew 13:31-35. The Mustard Seed and the Leaven (Mark 4:30-34*, Luke 13:18-21)—The leaven (omitted from Mk.), usually an illustration of evil, is here a ferment of good (cf. "salt," Matthew 5:13), either the disciples or the Gospel—the doctrine of the Kingdom. The point of the quotation (Psalms 78:2; some MSS. curiously add Isaiah after "the prophet") in Matthew 13:35 is in the second clause—the Kingdom foreordained and predestined is now ushered in by Jesus.

Matthew 13:36-43. See above.


Verses 44-52

Matthew 13:44-52. Further Parables of the Kingdom.—The treasure and the pearl (Matthew 13:44-46) are one, and have one point—everything must be sacrificed for the highest good, the Kingdom. This urgent, intense wholeheartedness is characteristic of Jesus. The question of concealment, the conflict between individual salvation and social duty, is not to be pressed here. Yet note that, while one man attains the summum bonum, as it were, by accident, another does so by quest. For the pearl as a metaphor of spiritual treasure cf. Matthew 7:6, Revelation 21:19-21, and the Syriac Hymn of the Soul." The parable of the net is like that of the wheat and the tares, except that the sifting follows hard on the discovery. Not all who have heard the message of the Kingdom will be found worthy to enter it. The explanation follows the same line as that of the earlier parable. It is not altogether apposite, and is probably the evangelist's mechanical repetition of Matthew 13:40-42. In Matthew 13:51 f. Jesus contrasts a Christian with a Jewish scribe. He who has been instructed in the truths of the Kingdom (or possibly "with a view to the Kingdom") can, like a good householder or steward, furnish from his ample store what is old (the essentials of the Law and the Prophets) and what is new (the teaching of Jesus and its development). He has an advantage over the earlier teacher, who was confined to the Torah. The verses form a general conclusion to the parables.


Verses 53-58

Matthew 13:53-58. Jesus Rejected at Nazareth (Mark 6:1-6*, cf. Luke 4:16-30).—Mt. has already used Mark 4:35-41 and Matthew 5. Perhaps the original reading in Matthew 13:55 is neither "carpenter's son" nor "carpenter" (Mk.), but, as in the Sinaitic Syriac version, "Joseph's son." It is a nice question whether in Matthew 13:58 Mt. is simply abbreviating Mk. or deliberately altering what seemed a disparagement of Jesus' power, and making the absence of mighty works a punishment for unbelief.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Matthew 13:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/matthew-13.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, September 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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