Lu 8:4-18; 13:18-20).
1. The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the seaside.
2. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he
went into a ship--the article in the received text lacks authority
and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore--How graphic this
picture!--no doubt from the pen of an eye-witness, himself impressed
with the scene. It was "the same day" on which the foregoing solemn
discourse was delivered, when His kindred thought Him "beside Himself"
for His indifference to food and repose--that same day retiring to the
seashore of Galilee; and there seating Himself, perhaps for coolness and
rest, the crowds again flock around Him, and He is fain to push off from
them, in the boat usually kept in readiness for Him; yet only to begin,
without waiting to rest, a new course of teaching by parables to the
eager multitudes that lined the shore. To the parables of our Lord there
is nothing in all language to be compared, for simplicity, grace,
fulness, and variety of spiritual teaching. They are adapted to all
classes and stages of advancement, being understood by each according to
the measure of his spiritual capacity.
3. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, &c.--These
parables are SEVEN in number; and it is not a little remarkable that
while this is the sacred number, the first FOUR of them were spoken
to the mixed multitude, while the remaining THREE were spoken to the
Twelve in private--these divisions, four and three, being
themselves notable in the symbolical arithmetic of Scripture. Another
thing remarkable in the structure of these parables is, that while the
first of the Seven--that of the Sower--is of the nature of an
Introduction to the whole, the remaining Six consist of
three pairs--the Second and Seventh, the Third and Fourth, and
the Fifth and Sixth,
corresponding to each other; each pair setting forth the same general
truths, but with a certain diversity of aspect. All this can hardly be
(Mt 13:3-9, 18-23).
This parable may be entitled,
EFFECT OF THE
DEPENDENT ON THE
STATE OF THE
For the exposition of this parable, see on
Mr 4:1-9, 14-20.
Reason for Teaching in Parables
10. And the disciples came, and said unto him--"they that were with
Him, when they were alone"
Why speakest thou to them in parables?--Though before this He had
couched some things in the parabolic form, for more vivid illustration,
it would appear that He now, for the first time, formally employed this
method of teaching.
11. He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to
know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven--The word "mysteries" in
Scripture is not used in its classical sense--of religious secrets, nor
yet of things incomprehensible, or in their own nature difficult to be
understood--but in the sense of things of purely divine revelation, and,
usually, things darkly announced under the ancient economy, and during
all that period darkly understood, but fully published under the Gospel
Eph 3:3-6, 8, 9).
"The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven," then, mean those glorious
Gospel truths which at that time only the more advanced disciples could
appreciate, and they but partially.
but to them it is not given--(See on
Parables serve the double purpose of revealing and
concealing; presenting "the mysteries of the kingdom" to those
who know and relish them, though in never so small a degree, in a new
and attractive light; but to those who are insensible to spiritual
things yielding only, as so many tales, some temporary
12. For whosoever hath--that is, keeps; as a thing which he values.
to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance--He will be
rewarded by an increase of what he so much prizes.
but whosoever hath not--who lets this go or lie unused, as a thing
on which he sets no value.
from him shall be taken away even that he hath--or as it is in Luke
"what he seemeth to have," or, thinketh he hath. This is a principle of
immense importance, and, like other weighty sayings, appears to have
been uttered by our Lord on more than one occasion, and in different
connections. (See on
As a great ethical principle, we see it in operation everywhere, under
the general law of habit; in virtue of which moral principles
become stronger by exercise, while by disuse, or the exercise of their
contraries, they wax weaker, and at length expire. The same principle
reigns in the intellectual world, and even in the animal--if not in the
vegetable also--as the facts of physiology sufficiently prove. Here,
however, it is viewed as a divine ordination, as a judicial retribution
in continual operation under the divine administration.
13. Therefore speak I to them in parables--which our Lord, be it
observed, did not begin to do till His miracles were malignantly
ascribed to Satan.
because they seeing, see not--They "saw," for the light shone on them
as never light shone before; but they "saw not," for they closed their
and hearing, they hear not; neither do they understand--They "heard,"
for He taught them who "spake as never man spake"; but they "heard not,"
for they took nothing in, apprehending not the soul-penetrating,
life-giving words addressed to them. In Mark and Luke
what is here expressed as a human fact is represented as the fulfilment
of a divine purpose--"that seeing they may see, and not perceive," &c.
The explanation of this lies in the statement of the foregoing
verse--that, by a fixed law of the divine administration, the duty men
voluntarily refuse to do, and in point of fact do not do, they at
length become morally incapable of doing.
14. And in them is fulfilled--rather, "is fulfilling," or "is receiving
the prophecy of Esaias, which saith--
(Isa 6:9, 10
--here quoted according to the Septuagint).
By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand, &c.--They were
thus judicially sealed up under the darkness and obduracy which they
deliberately preferred to the light and healing which Jesus brought nigh
16. But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your cars, for they
hear--that is, "Happy ye, whose eyes and ears, voluntarily and gladly
opened, are drinking in the light divine."
17. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men
have desired--rather, "coveted."
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--Not only were the
disciples blessed above the blinded just spoken of, but favored above
the most honored and the best that lived under the old economy, who had
but glimpses of the things of the new kingdom, just sufficient to kindle
in them desires not to be fulfilled to any in their day. In
Lu 10:23, 24,
where the same saying is repeated on the return of the Seventy--the
words, instead of "many prophets and righteous men," are "many prophets
and kings"; for several of the Old Testament saints were
Second and Seventh Parables or First Pair:
WHEAT AND THE
(Mt 13:24-30, 36-43, 47-50).
The subject of both these parables--which teach the same truth, with a
slight diversity of aspect--is:
THE MIXED CHARACTER
STATE, AND THE FINAL ABSOLUTE SEPARATION
The Tares and the Wheat
(Mt 13:24-30, 36-43).
24, 36-38. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The
kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his
field--Happily for us, these exquisite parables are, with like
charming simplicity and clearness, expounded to us by the Great
Preacher Himself. Accordingly, we pass to:
25, 38, 39. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares
among the wheat, and went his way--(See on
Mt 13:38, 39).
26. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then
appeared the tares also--the growth in both cases running parallel, as
antagonistic principles are seen to do.
27. So the servants of the householder came--that is, Christ's
and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field?
from whence then hath it tares?--This well expresses the surprise,
disappointment, and anxiety of Christ's faithful servants and people at
the discovery of "false brethren" among the members of the Church.
28. He said unto them, An enemy hath done this--Kind words these from
a good Husbandman, honorably clearing His faithful servants of the wrong
done to his field.
The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them
up?--Compare with this the question of James and John
"Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and
consume" those Samaritans? In this kind of zeal there is usually a
large mixture of carnal heat. (See
29. But he said, Nay--"It will be done in due time, but not now, nor
is it your business."
lest, while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with
them--Nothing could more clearly or forcibly teach the difficulty of
distinguishing the two classes, and the high probability that in the
attempt to do so these will be confounded.
30, 39. Let both grow together--that is, in the visible Church.
until the harvest--till the one have ripened for full salvation,
the other for destruction. (See on
and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers--(See on
Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn
them--"in the fire"
but gather the wheat into my barn--Christ, as the Judge, will separate
the two classes (as in
It will be observed that the tares are burned before the wheat
is housed; in the exposition of the parable
(Mt 13:41, 43)
the same order is observed: and the same in
--as if, in some literal sense, "with thine eyes shalt thou behold and
see the reward of the wicked"
Third and Fourth Parables or Second Pair:
The subject of both these parables, as of the first pair, is the same,
but under a slight diversity of aspect, namely--
GROWTH OF THE KINGDOM
The Mustard Seed
(Mt 13:31, 32).
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;
32. Which indeed is the least of all seeds--not absolutely, but
popularly and proverbially, as in
"If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed," that is, "never so little
but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs--not absolutely,
but in relation to the small size of the seed, and in warm latitudes
and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in
the branches thereof--This is added, no doubt, to express the
amplitude of the tree. But as this seed has a hot, fiery vigor,
gives out its best virtues when bruised, and is grateful to the taste of
birds, which are accordingly attracted to its branches both for shelter
and food, is it straining the parable, asks TRENCH,
to suppose that,
besides the wonderful growth of His kingdom, our Lord selected this
seed to illustrate further the shelter, repose and
blessedness it is destined to afford to the nations of the
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--This parable, while it teaches the same
general truth as the foregoing one, holds forth, perhaps, rather the
inward growth of the kingdom, while "the Mustard Seed" seems to
point chiefly to the outward. It being a woman's work to knead, it
seems a refinement to say that "the woman" here represents the GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH