1.  On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea.

Again, this clearly seems to indicate that the Lord owned a house.  Some have tried to suggest that He was a homeless man.  Yet His reference to having nowhere to lay His head (Matthew 18:20) probably referred to His status as a vagrant, traveling preacher, not the fact that He had no home to return to.  The other idea that is set forth is that He was staying at Simon Peter’s home, as we know that He took at least one meal there when He healed Peter’s mother-in-law.  (Matthew 8:14-15)  Yet this suggestion seems to be a little thin on evidence.  Just because He visited one of His disciples at his home does not mean that He had no home of His Own!  When it comes right down to it, we cannot say for certain who owned the house that He was staying at here, yet there is no reason not to suppose that it was His house and actually belonged to Christ.  The inference in Greek seems to be that He owned it, and we have no reason to question this.

2.  And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

The inference is that the crowd was pressing in on Him so much to hear what He had to say that He was forced to enter this ship to keep from being pushed into the sea!  The Lord Jesus was very popular.  There was no sign of rejection of Him at this point on the part of the common people.  Only the Pharisees in their willful pride had set themselves against Him.

3.  Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow.

This is the first of eight parables chosen for the book of Matthew by the Holy Spirit in accordance with the special purpose of this book.  For me to comment upon this passage and offer my interpretation of it would not be right.  For God Himself has given the true interpretation of it later in the passage.  Therefore, I will not be guilty of trying to be smarter than God.  Yet we can note a few facts about the story as the Lord told it.

First of all, we have this sower going out to sow seed.  This would have been a common, everyday occurrence in Israel.  The point of parables was to tell a plain, simple story to set forth God’s great truths.

4.  “And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.

The idea here is of the hard ground produced by the tread of many feet.  We might say that this seed fell on a footpath.

5.  “Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth.
6.  “But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.

There is nothing unusual here.  The same thing would happen to seed planted on stony ground today.

7.  “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.

Weeds are ever the nemesis of farmers and their plants.

8.  “But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Notice an important fact here: the good soil was the soil the farmer had prepared for his seed!  Although some of the seed may have fell in other places, the seed that fell on the soil the farmer had prepared for it was the seed that actually had the opportunity to grow.

9.  “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

This is a common admonition of Christ.  According to the Greek way of speaking, it would have been bellowed out loudly.  If you were falling asleep during the parable, you would have been awakened here!

10.  And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”

The disciples were puzzled.  Prior to this, Christ had always taught the people plainly.  Why was He speaking in confusing and difficult-to-understand parables now?

11.  He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

Christ answers their question plainly.  The truths He was now teaching were truths that it was right for the disciples to know, but not for the multitudes.  Thus He spoke in a way that only those whom God wished to understand these truths would understand Him.

Here we have a plural form of the Greek word “musterion” or mysteries.  This word actually means “secrets,” and has reference to things God had never revealed before but was revealing now.  These secrets were to be revealed to the disciples, but not to the multitudes.

12.  “For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

This has very real application to the life to come.  In the future, all men, good or evil, are raised from the dead.  Thus, they all receive the gift of future life that Christ bought by dying for the sins of the world on the cross.  Yet some in that day will be found to not have the faith that would have bought them an eternal place in God’s Kingdom.  Thus, although they have received to a limited extent the resurrection life of God, even those blessings that they have received from God will be taken away from them, and they will die the second death.  For those who do have faith, however, far more than just resurrection life will be given them, and they will have in abundance!

13.  “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

It is a strange but true phenomenon that, by hearing Christ’s words in these parables, these people could hear and understand what God was saying and yet still totally miss the point of the lesson!  This was what God intended, and why He used parables.

14.  “And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15.  For the heart of this people has grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their heart and turn,
So that I should heal them.’

This quotation is from Isaiah 6:9-10.  This passage is quoted several times in the gospels and Acts, and seems to always be quoted at dispensationally significant moments, when the method of dealing with His people that God is using undergoes some sort of change.  In this case the change was from His former plain teaching to the current teaching of His message disguised in parables.

16.  “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;
17.  “for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Jesus explains that the disciples were blessed greatly, more than the common people, and more than the prophets and righteous men of the past.  We need to understand that God has a perfect right to bless some over others.  Many people seem to have this view of the life to come that all will be equal in those days and no one will be blessed any more than any other one.  Yet what makes us think this would be such a great thing?  I don’t care if some are blessed by God more than I am!  Only let me be a toilet cleaner in God’s summer home and I would be happy if that’s where God wanted me to be!  Why must all be equal?  Must God be a perpetrator of socialism?

18.  “Therefore hear the parable of the sower:

Thus Christ sets forth the interpretation of the parable.  Here many go astray in trying to offer their interpretation of Christ’s interpretation.  Jesus did not give His interpretation of this parable as a second parable that we as Bible students are to further interpret.  Rather, this IS the interpretation!  Let us not be guilty of interpreting God’s interpretation!

19.  “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.  This is he who received seed by the wayside.

Notice some things that are not true about this interpretation.  The sower is not said to be Christ, but remains unidentified.  The seed is not the gospel of salvation, but the word of the kingdom.  The interpretation is simple and easy to understand.  Let us not insist on interpreting it further!  Let it rather teach the things it was supposed to teach.  Christ claims that this and this only is the interpretation of the parable.  All interpretations of men, therefore, which are not based solely upon the interpretation given here, are false.  Let us not try to interpret ourselves what God has already interpreted for us!

Perhaps the most important point in this interpretation is that the seed is the word of the kingdom.  This is not the gospel.  This is not preaching about salvation in Christ.  This is not truth in regards to the “church.”  This is the Bible truth about God’s future government on earth.  Let us not interpret this interpretation to make it to be talking about something else.

The birds of the air symbolize the wicked one, Satan.  He snatches away the truth about the Kingdom from some men’s hearts before it has any chance to do a work there.  May this not be so of us!

20.  “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;
21.  “yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while.  For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

Again, some receive the word in this way in our day.  Yet when they find others, even other believers, who do not hold to the truth and who oppose them for holding it, they soon fall away from it.

22.  “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.

Oh, that all young, enthusiastic believers would eventually become long-time, enthusiastic believers!  Yet alas, I have seen many who have fallen away long before this becomes the case.

23.  “But he who received the seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Let us all strive to hear the word in this way, receiving it and bearing fruit from it!

24.  Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;

It seems that Christ is again speaking to the multitude, not to His disciples.  It may be that the interpretation of the previous parable was inserted here, even though it took place later after Christ had finished teaching the multitude.

Once again I will not attempt to interpret that which the Lord has interpreted for us.  Yet notice a few things.  For one thing, the subject of this parable is the kingdom of heaven.  I have heard pastors speak entire messages on explaining how this parable relates to the subject of the church.  Yet this was just a waste of time on their part, as this parable is not even about the church, and thus has nothing to say about it.  Secondly, it is never said that the good seed is the gospel.  From the interpretation, we find out that this simply isn’t true.  The good seed in the last parable was the “word of the kingdom.”  That does not mean that the seed is the same thing in this parable.  Many would-be interpreters fail at this point, mixing parables and assuming the elements that mean one thing in one parable have to mean the same thing in another.  This is not the case, as can clearly be seen from comparing the interpretations of these two parables.

25.  “but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.

A tare was a weed that looked very much like grain.  It was so similar, in fact, that only when harvest time came could you truly determine which plant was which, as the wheat would have produced fruit whereas the tare would not have.

26.  “But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.

As naturally would be the case.  Apparently there was enough of a difference that they could tell there were tares in the field, but not enough to positively identify each plant.

27.  “So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field?  How then does it have tares?’

This is a puzzling thing to them.  They do not realize what actually has occurred.

28.  “He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’  The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’
29.  “But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.’
30.  “’Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

The owner of the field suggests a very reasonable plan.  Only by waiting until the wheat and the tares are fully-grown can the difference truly be determined.  Thus the tares will be left until harvest time, when they can be separated from the wheat and rightfully destroyed.

We will see the interpretation of this parable later in the chapter.

31.  Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field.
32.  “which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

Another parable.  As it is with all of these parables, this one is concerning the Kingdom of God.  Many make this out to be the church, but the church is not the same thing as the Kingdom of God.  The word that we have translated “church” is the Greek word “ecclesia,” which means “out-called.”  The word for kingdom is “basilea,” and means “government.”  An out-called person is one whom God has called out from all other believers to perform a special service.  A government is a rule or authority.  The out-called of God are people.  The Kingdom of God is the government of God on the earth, and is yet to be a future reality.  This parable, like all others concerning the Kingdom, sets forth something about it.

The mustard seed is the tiniest of all seeds.  Typically a mustard seed grows into a bush.  For it to grow into a great tree would be a most unusual thing indeed.  The Lord seems to be saying here that the Kingdom of God starts out on earth almost infinitesimally small.  However, when it grows, it becomes greater than one would ever have thought it could be, and will be so great that all the nations of the earth (represented by the birds) are able to come and take their rest in it.  This growth cannot possibly be a natural thing.  It only comes about as a result of God’s supernatural power in operation.  May God speed the day when the nations of the earth can find their rest in God’s government!

The Kingdom of God did indeed start out small.  It began with only one hundred and twenty people on the day of Pentecost.  However, it quickly grew, and eventually had its hand in all nations under heaven.  The end of the parable, however, and the growth of the Kingdom into a great tree that all nations of the earth can rest under, awaits a future fulfillment.  The Kingdom is no longer active.  God began a new, intercalary program called the Dispensation of Grace.  This program is a parenthesis in His stated Kingdom plans.  Only when this age ends will the end of this parable come true.

Don’t get the idea that the birds have to be evil in this parable just because they stood for the enemy in the parable of the sower.  The same things can be used differently in different parables.  Here, it would seem that the birds are all the nations of the earth that come and rest under God’s rule.

33.  Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”

It amazes me how men insist that leaven always means sin, so it must be sin here.  Leaven is used for all things that spread quickly.  Thus, it is a good symbol for sin.  Nevertheless, consider that the Israelites were to remove all leaven from their houses one week out of the year.  If this symbolized sin, was it then all right for the Israelites to sin the other fifty-one weeks of the year?

Leaven is used as a symbol for the Kingdom of God here because the Kingdom of God, like leaven, will go from something little and seemingly insignificant to something which covers the whole earth.  The Kingdom of God is not sinful, however.  Let us stop insisting that all symbols must always mean the same thing!  The important thing is why that particular thing is used as a symbol.  Once we understand this, we can understand the common thread whereby one object is used as a symbol for many different things.

34.  All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them,

Notice that this was His policy now at this time, but it had not been His policy previously.  A dispensational change had occurred, and He now had a new program whereby He must speak to the multitude in parables.

35.  that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
”I will open My mouth in parables;
I will utter thing which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”

The Lord’s speaking in parables fulfilled a prophecy concerning Him.  The reference is to Psalm 78:2.

36.  Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house.  And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”

Again we have no evidence that this house belonged to Peter and not the Lord.  Those who say this make an assumption, but have no proof.

The disciples didn’t understand this parable, and wanted direction from the Lord.  We would do well to go to the Lord for direction as well, rather than to the writings of men.  Many seem eager to give their own interpretations to this parable, or to interpret Christ’s interpretation!  We will do no such thing, but will accept the interpretation exactly as Christ gave it.

37.  He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.

Here the sower is Christ Himself.  We must not carry this idea backward into the parable of the sower, however!  Who the sower is in that parable is never explained.

38.  “The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.

The good seeds are the sons of the kingdom.  The son in Hebrew thought was one who represented his father.  Thus, the sons of the kingdom are ones who represent the kingdom in their character, and the sons of the wicked one are those who represent the wicked one in their character.  The field is the world, that system and order of things in which we live.

39.  “The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.

The enemy, the harvest, and the reapers are identified.  We must not insist that all things in parables are symbols and stand for something.  There is no mention of whom the servants represented.  They did not in fact represent anyone, but were rather inserted to move the story in the parable along.

40.  “Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.

Notice that the sons of the kingdom were planted in a time when there were no bad seeds in the field.  The bad seeds were not sown until later!  Therefore, this cannot be the spreading of the gospel by the “church,” as we have always sown believers in a world choked with weeds!  This is something that takes place after the Kingdom of God is upon the earth.  When God’s Kingdom is in the earth, all the wicked are removed from it.  It is only after this removal that Satan seeks to mess things up by sowing evil men in the world, but they are removed from the kingdom at the end of the kingdom age.  This “end” of the kingdom does not mean that the kingdom ends in failure.  It is a word that means “consummation.”  The kingdom does not end, it consummates.  The idea that the kingdom is a failure is not Scriptural!

41.  “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,
42.  “and will cast them into the furnace of fire.  There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth

This includes things that offend, not just people.  Nothing offensive will still be found on earth at this time.  All that is offensive to God is burned and destroyed in the lake of fire.  At that time, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  As we saw earlier, this symbolizes great sorrow and great regret.  This, of course, is on the part of those who loved the offensive things that are being removed.

43.  “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Once all things that offend are removed, including those sons of the wicked one, the righteous can truly shine forth as God always intended them to do.  What a great day that will be!

44.  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The truth of the Kingdom of Heaven is something so precious that those who find out about it and how precious it is would be willing to sell all they have in order to enter it!  This shows us what a great thing the Kingdom truly is.  Yet some in the dispensational movement seem to all but despise the Kingdom, barely deigning to even make mention of it.  This is not the attitude we should have towards something go great!

45.  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,
46.  “who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

The Kingdom of Heaven is the pearl of great price.  Those who make Jesus Christ to be the pearl of great price are guilty of twisting the Word of God!  This parable repeats the same truth as that in the previous parable about the great worth of the Kingdom.

47.  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind,
48.  “which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.
49.  “So it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just,
50,  “and cast them into the furnace of fire.  There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

Christ again tells about the Kingdom age, reiterating the idea of evil men being removed from the Kingdom as it draws to a close.  When the Kingdom begins, it begins for all men on earth, good or evil.  Thus, it is similar to this net that caught all manner of fish, but the worthless fish (probably catfish, which were plentiful in the Sea of Galilee) were cast out.  All men are caught by the Kingdom, and all fall under its sway.  Those who are wicked, however, are not allowed to remain in the Kingdom forever, but are found and removed.

The word for “age” is “aion,” similar to our English “eon,” and speaks of the flow of the kingdom.  The end of the flow is the completion of the Kingdom, considered as a river flowing to meet its destination.  When the Kingdom reaches its destination, one of the things that happens is that all who are wicked will be removed from it.

51.  Jesus said to them, “Have you understood all these things?”  They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”

Some accuse the disciples of being thickheaded and of seldom if ever understanding the things Christ sought to teach them.  Yet here they fully understood these parables that many today are puzzled and confused over.  We really do not give the disciples enough credit as learners, nor Christ enough credit as a Teacher.  The disciples probably understood far more than we do!

52.  Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”

Some things about the Kingdom were already well-known, but those instructed in it would learn new things as well.  This is always our aim when studying the Kingdom or any other topic in Scripture…to remind ourselves of the old things we already know, and to learn new things that God has yet to reveal to us.

53.  Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there.

In other words, He left Capernaum, where His house was located, and traveled around Galilee, eventually arriving in Nazareth, as we read below.

54.  And when He had come to His Own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?

This is proof that the Lord did not work miracles while He was growing up in Nazareth.  Many seem to think that the Lord should heal them just because He loves them or because they are His followers.  Yet is it possible that not one person whom Jesus knew and loved ever became sick or died while He was growing up?  He let people die without healing them.  This is because it was not yet the time for Him to start His healing ministry.  We cannot think that God owes us healing.  He only heals when the time is right for it, and the time may not now be right.

55.  “Is this not the carpenter’s son?  Is not His mother called Mary?  And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?
56.  “And His sisters, are they not all with us?  Where then did this Man get all these things?”

Notice that Jesus’ four brothers and “sisters” are mentioned here.  How could this be if Mary always remained a virgin?  This statement should settle the matter for all those who put the Word of God above all else.

57.  So they were offended at Him.  But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.”
58.  And He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Here is another rejection of Christ.  This is in His home country by his neighbors who knew Him growing up.  The old saying “familiarity breeds contempt” seems to apply here, and these people seem to have nothing but contempt for the Lord.  He does not do many mighty works there, as they refused to believe in Him.

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