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Go to Bible: Matthew 13
Mat 13:1(top)
Mat 13:2(top)
Mat 13:3

“parables.” Matthew 13:3 is the first use of “parable” in the New Testament. A parable is a story that illustrates one or more points, principles, or instructive lessons that the speaker wants to make. Parables typically use familiar situations from everyday life or use things that are well-known or commonly believed. A parable differs from a fable. Parables use human characters and situations that are known and understood while fables generally use non-human characters such as plants, animals, and inanimate objects. Jotham made his point in a fable when he said, “The trees once went out to anoint a king over them” (Judges 9:8; cp. Judg. 9:7-20). Parables also differ from allegories. In an allegory, each major part of the allegory has a counterpart in real life; there is no single important point like there is in many parables. However, many parables have aspects of an allegory in that they have more than one important point that has a counterpoint in real life.

Rhetoricians have argued for years about parables—whether they use similes or metaphors, or whether they make one point or can make several—and they are still arguing. The reason for the lack of rhetorical clarity with parables is almost certainly that in centuries past no one analyzed parables—or cared to analyze them—the way that rhetoricians and grammarians try to do now. The people like Jesus Christ who used parables used them to make a point or points, and sometimes the parable was only a sentence long and sometimes it was a whole story; sometimes the speaker used similes, sometimes metaphors, and sometimes the figure hypocatastasis; sometimes many points were significant but often there was only one major point. The student of the Bible will find much more value in learning the meaning of each parable—the point or points it makes and why, when, and to whom it was spoken—than trying to figure out if the parable really is a “parable” based on man-made rhetorical definitions.

Often a speaker will use a parable because the point that he or she is trying to make is immediately understood and quite easily remembered by the audience. But Jesus Christ used parables in a very unique way: he used them in such a way that the spiritually mature usually understood what he meant, but people with no spiritual understanding—the curiosity seekers; the doubters; the proud—did not understand what he meant. This caused some consternation among his disciples. They wanted the audience to understand Jesus, so they asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” (Matt. 13:10). Jesus answered that he spoke in parables because “To you [disciples] it is given to know the sacred secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them [the audience] it is not given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance, but whoever does not have, from him will be taken away even that which he has. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, neither do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, Hearing you will hear, but will never understand, and seeing you will see, but will never perceive. For this people's heart has grown fat, and their ears are dull of hearing, and they have closed their eyes, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return to God, and I heal them” (Matt. 13:11-15).

We are now some 2,000 years after Christ and his parables are doing now what they did in Christ’s day; confusing the spiritually immature, and blessing the spiritually mature.

[For more on the figures of comparison; simile, metaphor, and hypocatastasis, see commentary on Rev. 20:2].

“The Sower.” The parable Jesus tells in verses 3-8 is almost universally referred to as “The Parable of the Sower” because that is what Jesus called it (Matt. 13:18). However, it could just as well be called “The Parable of the Soils,” because the parable is not primarily about God who sows the seed; nor is it about the seed itself, which is the Word of God (Mark 4:14). The parables have different names in different Bibles and commentaries because they are not named in the Bible itself: different scholars named the parables according to their best understanding of the subject of the parable.

In the Parable of the Sower, the people would have likely thought that the “sower” was God, but Jesus could have been referring to himself as he did in the parable of the weeds of the field (Matt. 13:27). The parable is about the people who hear the Word of God; the kind of soil they are. Each person determines the kind of “soil” they are: like the path (v. 4); like rocky places (v. 5); like thorny ground (v. 7), or good soil (v. 8). It is misreading this parable and misunderstanding life to read the parable and say, “we are what we are,” and we are stuck that way. Christ did not teach about the types of soils so we can discover what kind of soil we are but cannot change that. He taught about them as a warning, so people who need to change can change.

It is a powerful lesson that the first parable in the New Testament is Jesus speaking about people being different kinds of soil. Jesus was always trying to get people to focus on God and thus be saved and also have great rewards in his coming kingdom. He knew that in the huge crowd he was addressing all kinds of people were there: “path people,” “rocky soil people,” “among-the-weeds people,” and “good soil people,” and the goal of his parable was to wake people up to the kind of soil they were being, and get them to change and be good soil. No wonder he ended his parable with, “Anyone who has ears had better listen!” Today, some 2,000 years after Jesus taught the parable, it should still be having the same effect Jesus meant it to have: waking each person up to the necessity of being a “good-soil” person.

Jesus’ explanation reveals the lesson.

  • The person who is the path: If a person is hard-hearted (like the soil on the path is hard), then they will not understand the Word, and/or not care about it. However, that should be obvious to them, even if they have to hear it from others. The challenge that the “path-person” has is to soften their heart and do things that cause them to grow in the Word so that their heart will receive it. If they do not care enough to do these things, the Devil will eventually snatch away the Word from their heart and mind and it will cease to matter to them at all. But be warned: no one has to remain hard soil.
  • The person who is rocky soil: This is the person who receives the Word with joy, but has no depth of understanding, so they abandon the Word when there is trouble or persecution. The key to understanding this “soil” (this kind of person) is realizing that when a person has no depth of knowledge or understanding, they know it. We all know when we do not know or understand something, and when it comes to the things of God, that is unacceptable. After hearing the Word of Christ, each person has the responsibility to do what it takes to grow in the Word, both by quitting activities that are ungodly or detrimental, and by doing things that contribute to a complete and godly walk with the Lord. No one has to remain shallow, rocky soil.
  • The person who is soil with thorns: This is the person who likes the Word of God, but never gets rid of their worldly attachments. They want to be rich, or want “to have fun” or want to be involved in worldly interests (Mark 4:19), and/or they are overly concerned about worldly things. The key to this “soil” (this person), is that anyone who hangs on to worldly desires realizes that fact. No one loves money, fame, sports, sex, alcohol, drugs, video games, etc., without realizing it. A man or woman knows if he or she has watched 20 hours of sports, soap operas or game shows, on TV in the week but has not read the Bible at all. Everyone can make the freewill choice to put away the things of the world and spend more time and energy with the things of God. No one has to remain thorny soil.
  • The person who is good soil: This is the person who hears the Word and understands it and brings forth fruit. The mistake that people can make when reading about this soil is assuming that the “soil” (person) was always that way—somehow inherently godly and God-knowing. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christ is talking about soil in a kind of overview of a person’s life. The person who is good soil started out as everyone else started: ignorant of the deep things of God and with worldly loves and attachments. But they put aside the things of the world and focused on the things of God and grew in the Word. Eventually their life produced great fruit. Everyone can be good soil if they want to badly enough.

[For more on the future kingdom of Christ on earth, see Appendix 3, Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth. For more on rewards in the future, see commentary on 2 Cor. 5:10, “good or worthless”].

“Pay attention.” The Greek word is idou (#2400 ἰδού), and it is used to get our attention. Ordinarily it would have been good to translate this as “Listen,” but since the parable ends with a command to “listen” (v. 9), it would have seemed an undue emphasis to double up on that word, thus the translation here, “pay attention.” See commentary on Matthew 1:20 (“Look!).

Mat 13:4(top)
Mat 13:5(top)
Mat 13:6(top)
Mat 13:7(top)
Mat 13:8(top)
Mat 13:9

“Anyone who has ears had better listen!” See commentary on Matthew 11:5. This is the same Greek phrase. Jesus has just taught the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-8), which shows that each person has the responsibility before God to do something godly with his life and bring forth fruit. Unfortunately, as the parable shows, many people will never do what it takes to bring forth fruit, but that does not absolve us from the responsibility to do so. Each person should heed the words of Jesus and strongly endeavor to bring forth fruit.

Mat 13:10(top)
Mat 13:11

“sacred secrets”. We translate the Greek word mustērion (#3466 μυστήριον) as “sacred secret” because that is what mustērion actually refers to: a secret in the religious or sacred realm. [For more information on the “Sacred Secret” and the Administration of Grace, see commentary on Ephesians 3:9].

“the Kingdom of Heaven.” The “kingdom of heaven” is the coming kingdom of Christ on earth. [For more information on the coming kingdom of Christ, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].

Mat 13:12

“For whoever has.” Jesus taught this principle of having and not having five different times. See commentary on Matthew 25:29.

Mat 13:13

“neither do they understand.” Why do the listeners not understand? Is it because they have covered their own ears and closed their hearts, as Matthew’s record portrays (Matthew 13:14-15), or because God has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts as John’s words could be read to say (John 12:38-40)? The answer comes only when we put these two records together and understand them in light of the entirety of scripture’s teaching on this subject.

Why did the Lord speak to the crowds with parables? To this question Christ could have responded that he takes his own advice, by not throwing his pearls before the swine. God says, “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words” (Prov. 23:9). Parables are designed so that the hearers must think, seek, and even ask to understand. By speaking to the crowds in this way, the Lord separates those who have a will to listen and be healed from those who foolishly reject his teachings.

All three synoptic gospels record the parable of the Sower in the context of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah (Matt. 13:10-18; Mark 4:2-12; Luke 8:9-11). John does not relate the Sower parable but speaks of the prophecy of Isaiah: John 12:35-42. It is interesting that the Sower is related in this context, for this parable deals with how one’s heart is prepared to receive the Good News. In the parable of the Sower there is no indication that God decides what kind of soil one’s heart is. Rather, it is the own person’s responsibility to determine the nature of his heart’s soil. This is where the quotation from Isaiah comes in. Jesus says in Matthew the prophecy “is fulfilled” (Mat. 13:14, present indicative), in that some of those listening had dull hearts and could barely hear, and further that they have chosen to close their eyes and ears lest they see, hear, understand, and turn. The Greek word for “lest,” mepote (#3379 μήποτε), is an indicator of negative purpose, showing they purposely intended to not see, hear, or understand. These Jews hardened their hearts against God.

John begins the record by pointing out even though Jesus had done so many signs before these people, they still did not believe in him (John 12:37). This “resulted in” another word of Isaiah being fulfilled regarding Israel’s unbelief: “Who has believed what he heard from us?” (John 12:38). The “resulted in” expression of this verse is a hina with a verb in the subjunctive result clause (see commentary on Matt. 2:15; “resulting in…what was spoken being fulfilled”). John says it was “for this reason,” “on account of this,” (Greek: dia touto) that these people could not believe (John 12:39). That is to say, because they rejected Jesus and refused to believe, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them” (John 12:40).

God is portrayed as doing the blinding and hardening in the passage in John. Yet we know from Matthew these people hardened their own hearts first by choosing not to believe. John tells us that it was because of this unbelief they were blinded. How are we to understand this blinding? It is not as though God actively hardens the hearts of those who close their eyes to the truth. Rather, he has allowed them to be blinded by setting in place a spiritual principal that while one is rejecting Jesus they are left in a state of spiritual blindness. It is the idiom of permission [See Graeser, Lynn, Schoenheit, Don’t Blame God, Ch. 4, and commentary on Romans 9:18]. Scripture teaches that in actuality, the Devil is the one who blinds these people: “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4); it is only when they turn to the Lord that the veil is taken away (2 Cor. 3:14-16). Unbelievers have dull hearts and ears that can barely hear, but whether they will turn to the Lord or decide to close their eyes is their free choice. If they turn to him, the veil is lifted off their hearts and they can see at last. But if they choose to reject Christ and close their eyes, as some did on this day, those people remain under Satan’s dominion of spiritual blindness. This is why Christ told these people, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you… While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light (John 12:35-36).

Once someone rejects the light they are “overtaken” by darkness and God allows them to stay in this state until they turn to the Lord and are healed—so that Christ may be the only means of spiritual enlightenment. Only in the sense of this permission can it be said that God blinds them and hardens their hearts. Thus we can get to the proper understanding of these passages only if we consider the whole of scripture. We must put the records together to understand the full picture, that people first choose to harden their own hearts and as a result are left by God in a state of spiritual blindness.

When this record occurs in Mark 4:12 and Luke 8:10 it comes in the form of two purpose-result clauses (see commentary on Matt. 2:15; “resulting in…what was spoken being fulfilled”), thus sandwiching the truth revealed in Matthew and John together into one perspective. They write that Christ’s teachings come in parables “so that” the people may see but not perceive, hear but not understand. The “so that” indicates the purpose and the result of the speaking in parables.

Mat 13:14

Quoted from Isaiah 6:9-10.

Mat 13:15

Quoted from Isaiah 6:9-10.

Mat 13:16(top)
Mat 13:17(top)
Mat 13:18

For an explanation of the parable of the Sower, see commentary on Matthew 13:3.

Mat 13:19

“Wicked One.” The Greek is poneros (#4190 πονηρός), which the BDAG Greek-English Lexicon describes as, “pertaining to being morally or socially worthless; therefore, ‘wicked, evil, bad, base, worthless, vicious, and degenerate.’” Poneros is an adjective, but it is a substantive (an adjective used as a noun; for more on substantives, see the commentary on Matthew 5:37).

The Devil (the “Slanderer”) is the fount and foundation of wickedness. It was in him that wickedness was first found, when he was lifted up with pride and decided to rebel against God. Ever since that time he has been true to his name, “the Wicked One,” and has been doing and causing wickedness wherever he can, which, since he is “the god of this age,” is a considerable amount of wickedness. [For more names of the Slanderer (the Devil) and their meanings, see Appendix 14: “Names of the Devil”].

Mat 13:20(top)
Mat 13:21(top)
Mat 13:22(top)
Mat 13:23(top)
Mat 13:24

“a man.” In his explanation, Jesus said that he was the man (Matt. 13:37; “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man”).

Mat 13:25

“darnel.” The Greek word is zizanion (#2215 ζιζάνιον) and it refers to the plant Lolium temulentum, or the Bearded Darnel. There are other varieties of Lolium, but they do not closely resemble wheat, and therefore are almost certainly not the plant referred to in the parable. The Bearded Darnel looks so much like wheat that it cannot be distinguished from it except by an expert, until the grain starts to form. The darnel grain is much smaller than wheat and dark brown. The seeds of the darnel were believed to be poisonous to men and animals (although not fowl). It has now been asserted by some botanists that it is not the seed of the darnel that is poisonous, but rather that it is easily susceptible to getting a mold that is poisonous (Harold and Alma Moldenke, Plants of the Bible, Dover Publications, NY, 1952). Nevertheless, the ancients, and even the modern Arabs, do not make any such distinction, and consider the seeds to be poisonous. The symptoms of eating the darnel include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, and sometimes even death. The roots of the darnel are quite extensive, and when it appears in a wheat field, become entangled with the roots of the wheat so that if anyone tried to pull up the darnel they would most certainly pull up the wheat also.

Using the translation “weeds” as many modern translations do misses much of the depth of the parable. People frequently “weed” their gardens, and it is not hurtful but even helps the other plants grow. Only by knowing that one cannot do that with darnel makes that part of the parable make sense. Also, the parable epitomizes “by their fruit you will know them,” because it is when the grain starts to appear that the darnel can be easily seen.

Mat 13:26(top)
Mat 13:27

“Then where did the darnel come from?” The Greek is idiomatic: “Then where has darnel?” Different versions have brought the idiomatic Greek into English in slightly different ways.

Mat 13:28(top)
Mat 13:29(top)
Mat 13:30(top)
Mat 13:31

“mustard seed.” See commentary on Matthew 13:32.


Additional resource:

Video expand/contractTrust Like a Mustard Seed (13:47) (views: 0)

The mustard seed parable in Scripture symbolically illustrates great trust in God. As humans, we limit ourselves by looking at worldly circumstances. In contrast, with Biblical focus, we obey God, pray, act on His promises, and therefore build up great faith to fulfill the purpose He has for our lives. The mustard seed parable targets faith, not circumstances.

Verses: Matt. 13:31; 17:14-20; Luke 17:5

Teacher: John Schoenheit

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Mat 13:32

“Smaller...becomes a tree.” Although there has historically been some disagreement about it, today scholars identify the “mustard” in the parable as the common black mustard (brassica nigra). In the parable the man purposely grew this mustard in his garden, just as people still do today, and mustard was valued as a spice and for the oil it produced. Although these annual plants commonly grew to only 3 to 4 feet tall, much larger plants are regularly observed, some growing to 10-15 feet tall with a central stem as large as a man’s forearm, and especially in the fall as the lack of rain hardens the plant they are well able to support a bird’s nest (Plants in the Bible, p. 59, 60).

The context of Jesus’ statement about the size of the mustard seed is the man sowing seed in his garden, which is confirmed by the word “garden plants” (lachanon; #3001 λάχανον; a potable herb; a vegetable). This verse is not a botanical reference to the size of every seed known to man, but rather a comparison of the mustard seed to the other seeds a gardener would typically sow in his garden in the biblical world at the time of Christ. It is absurd, and a misuse and misunderstanding of how the Word of God is written, to try to prove an error in the Word of God by finding a seed smaller than a mustard seed. Harold and Alma Moldenke correctly point out, “Such statements as that concerning the size of the mustard seed must always be judged in the light of the knowledge of the time of the people involved” (Plants of the Bible; Dover Publications, 1952, p. 61). Furthermore, but less likely, Jesus may also have been using a natural hyperbole (exaggeration), a common figure of speech used in discourse, the same way many Westerners will say, “I am starving” when they are just hungry, or “I’m freezing” when they are just cold. The point of Jesus’ parable was that just as the mustard seed starts out very small but becomes very big, so too the Kingdom of Heaven seems to have a small start, but will one day fill the earth. When Jesus said the seed “becomes a tree,” we must remember that the word “tree” is flexible, and can refer to both large and small trees, and many of the trees in the Middle East are quite small. Thus a mustard plant that grew to 10 or 15 feet (2 or 3 meters) could rightly be said to “become a tree.”

Matthew 17:20 and Luke 17:6 refer to “trust like a mustard seed.” The mustard seed is small, but it has complete trust that it can grow into the large garden herb. See commentary on Matthew 17:20.

Mat 13:33

Three satons of meal is about 9 gallons of meal.

Mat 13:34(top)
Mat 13:35

Quoted from Psalm 78:2.

Mat 13:36(top)
Mat 13:37(top)
Mat 13:38

“the Wicked One.” See commentary on Matthew 13:19.

Mat 13:39

“Devil.” The Greek word is diabolos (#1228 διάβολος), which literally means “Slanderer,” but diabolos gets transliterated into English as our more familiar name, “the Devil.” Slander is so central to who the Devil is and how he operates that one of his primary names is “the Slanderer.” [For more information on the names of the Devil, see Appendix 14: “Names of the Devil”].

Mat 13:40

“burned up.” The Greek is katakaiō (#2618 κατακαίω), and means to burn up, or to consume. It cannot be overstated that the weeds “burn up,” they do not burn forever. Similarly, the people who are unsaved will be burned up in Gehenna, they will not burn forever.

“the end of the age.” The Jews taught that we are in the present evil age, but there was a wonderful Messianic Age coming in the future. Although some versions read “world” instead of “age,” that is misleading. The world will not come to an end, but this evil age will. See commentary on Galatians 1:4.

Mat 13:41

“The Son of Man will send out his angels.” Matthew 13:41-43 describes what happens after the Battle of Armageddon: Jesus sends out his angels and gathers the people of earth who have survived the Great Tribulation and the Battle of Armageddon and separates them into two groups: the godly (“sheep”) and the ungodly (“goats”). Then he judges them and the sheep are allowed to enter his kingdom while the goats are thrown into the Lake of Fire. This judgment is described in more detail in Matthew 25:31-46.

[For more on the Sheep and Goat Judgment, see commentary on Matt. 25:31; 25:32; and 25:33. For more about Jesus’ future kingdom on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].

Mat 13:42

“sobbing and gnashing of teeth.” The mention of sobbing and gnashing of teeth occurs seven times in the Bible (Matt. 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28). All of these occurrences are in the Gospels. There is only one future Messianic Kingdom, and it fills the whole earth. The unsaved are not part of that Kingdom but are thrown into the Lake of Fire where there is sobbing and gnashing of teeth (Rev. 20:13-15). [For a more complete explanation of the sobbing and gnashing of teeth, see commentary on Matt. 8:12].

Mat 13:43

“Anyone who has ears had better listen!” See commentary on Matthew 11:15. This is the same Greek phrase. Jesus has just finished teaching that wicked people will be burned in Gehenna, while godly people will live and shine in the Kingdom of God. This is not mere threats. There will be a Judgment and unsaved people will be annihilated in Gehenna while saved people will live forever. Everyone better listen and pay attention. [For annihilation in Gehenna, see commentary on Rev. 20:10].

Mat 13:44(top)
Mat 13:45

“fine pearls.” Matthew 13:45-46 contains a short but powerful parable about the value of attaining everlasting life and living in the Messianic Kingdom, which Jesus often referred to as “the Kingdom of Heaven.” As clear as the parable about the pearl of great price seems to us, it was much clearer to people who lived before the 1900’s. The early 1900’s saw the collapse of the pearl industry and the decline in the value of pearls as a status symbol, because it was then that the Japanese invented a way to grow cultured pearls. Worse, not too long after that, plastics and resins were also used to produce very realistic pearl look-alikes. Then finally, the invention of the scuba diving system made gathering real pearls much easier and safer. The result of all this was that pearls, which for millennia had been a mark of high culture, social standing, and financial wealth, were suddenly seemingly being worn by anyone who wanted to. This caused them to be less of a status symbol and less desirable to wear. As the attraction of pearls wore off, they were worn by fewer and fewer people, even being ignored by those who could afford the “real” ones. So while there are natural pearls of great value still around, the desire to own and wear them, and the status they project, are not what they were in years past.

However, the value of pearls in the biblical period is why Jesus chose a pearl to compare the value of the Kingdom of Heaven to, instead of something else. In the biblical world, the pearl was incredibly expensive, in fact, it was the apex gem in the culture. The Roman historian, Pliny the Elder (23 AD – August 24, 79 AD), said this about pearls: “The topmost rank of all things of price is held by pearls.”

Oysters that produce pearls are found all over the world, in both salt water and fresh, and yet the round, white pearls that have been so prized in history are amazingly rare. Although the translation “pearls” is disputed, Job 28:18 (ESV) certainly shows the value of pearls when it is trying to show the value of wisdom: “the price of wisdom is above pearls.” When pointing out that women should not dress extravagantly, 1 Timothy 2:9 says women should not dress with gold and pearls (not that women should not wear gold and pearls, but they should not flaunt them as if worldly wealth was the important thing in life).

Part of the mystique of pearls in the first century was that, even by the time of the early church, people were not sure where they came from. Expensive pearls that came into the Roman world from the Persian Gulf (still today perhaps the most reliable source of natural pearls) and from India had traveled far, and anyone who deals in vulnerable and expensive items knows that creating an air of mystery and guarding your sources can create value in the item and also protect your source of supply. “Pliny claimed that pearls rose to the sea’s surface and swallowed dew to achieve their luster and beauty, while other authors suggested that lightning hitting an oyster produced the gem” (Andrew Lawler, “The Pearl Trade,” Archaeology Magazine, March/April 2012, p. 48).

Although some pearls were discovered in shallow water, most pearls in the ancient world were brought up from deeper water. In the Persian Gulf region, a fruitful source of pearls in biblical times, they were often at a depth of about 40 meters (about 45 yards). To get down to the oyster beds, divers held a weight on a rope to make a quick descent to the beds. The weight was pulled back up to the ship by the rope, while the diver swam back up, having put the oysters he had gathered into a sack he had with him. Until the invention of scuba gear, this diving-with-a-weight method of pearling was the common way of pearling, with only slight improvements over the years, such as hand and foot protection from the sharp oysters, and face masks to enable better vision and protect the eyes. It was a dangerous way to make a living and a major reason that natural pearls continued to be so expensive until our modern times.

When we understand the rarity of a round, white, pearl in the biblical world, and understand the mystique that surrounded them as well as the monetary and social value they had, we are in a position to see why Jesus compared gaining the Kingdom of Heaven to finding and buying a pearl of great value. The pearl of great price was valuable, but nothing is more valuable than salvation and everlasting life. And just as no merchant in the ancient world would hesitate to sell everything else he owned to gain a very valuable pearl, no person should hesitate to make every effort to be saved and be assured of everlasting life. [For more about the wonderful Kingdom of Heaven on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth].

Mat 13:46

“pearl.” Pearls were very expensive in the ancient world, and very highly valued. [For more on pearls, see commentaries on Revelation 18:12 and Matthew 13:45].

“great value.” The Greek word is polutimos (#4186 πολύτιμος), and it means to be of great value, or very expensive. To say the pearl was of “great price” is not as accurate a translation today because many things are priced way above, and sometimes way below, their actual value. This pearl was of great value, but the only way we know the price was high was that the man had to sell all he owned to buy it.

Mat 13:47

“let down.” The Greek word is ballō (#906 βάλλω), and it is usually translated “cast” or “throw,” but when the context warrants it, as a transitive verb it can also be used “of putting or placing someone or something somewhere: put (money into a treasury box), put (a sword into its scabbard), place (someone into a pool)” [Friberg’s Greek-English Lexicon]. In this context, the net is a dragnet, and they were placed in the water from a boat. Dragnets were placed parallel to the shore and then dragged by people to the shore, who gathered the fish, keeping the good and throwing the bad away. [For more information on fishing in Jesus’ time, see commentary on Mark 1:17].

“lake.” He was teaching from a boat on the Lake of Galilee, so the context dictates that thalassō be translated “lake.”

“and gathered fish of every kind.” The Kingdom of Heaven is the kingdom with heavenly qualities that is ruled by Christ when he comes from heaven, conquers the earth, and rules over it (Ps. 2:8; 72:8-11; Dan. 2:35; 7:14; Micah 5:4; Zech. 9:10). When Christ comes to earth and conquers it, there will be people of every sort left on earth, and the “good” will be allowed into the Kingdom, and the “evil” will be thrown away, into the Lake of Fire (Matt. 25:31-46; cp. commentary on Matt. 25:32).

[For more on the coming kingdom of Christ on earth, the Millennial Kingdom, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].

Mat 13:48(top)
Mat 13:49(top)
Mat 13:50

“sobbing and gnashing of teeth.” The mention of sobbing and gnashing of teeth occurs seven times in the Bible (Matt. 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28). All of these occurrences are in the Gospels. There is only one future Messianic Kingdom, and it fills the whole earth. The unsaved are not part of that Kingdom but are thrown into the Lake of Fire where there is sobbing and gnashing of teeth (Rev. 20:13-15). [For a more complete explanation of the sobbing and gnashing of teeth, see commentary on Matt. 8:12].

Mat 13:51(top)
Mat 13:52

“has been discipled.” The Greek word mathēteuō (#3100 μαθητεύω) means to be a disciple, and the fact that it is an aorist participle means that the disciple has graduated and finished his training and reached a level of expertise. It is related to the noun mathētēs (#3101 μαθητής; pronounced ma-thay-tase) “disciple.” Some versions have “has been instructed,” but we went with “has been discipled” to maintain consistency with the word “disciple.”

“new and old.” The person who has been well trained about the Kingdom of Heaven has wisdom and knowledge and applies it well. Some of it is old knowledge that has been around for many generations, some of it is new knowledge that has recently been revealed.

Mat 13:53(top)
Mat 13:54(top)
Mat 13:55(top)
Mat 13:56(top)
Mat 13:57(top)
Mat 13:58(top)

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