The seven Kingdom of Heaven Parables found in Matthew chapter 13 are an overview of the seven churches of Revelation found in Chapters 2 and 3. What is remarkable about these parables is that they are a one-for-one correlation to the seven Churches and in the same order. The parables describe the overall nature of the Churches while the details for each Church are given in Revelation. We begin by looking at the parables - - -
The Parable of the Sower correlates directly to the The Church at Ephesus in Revelation Chapter 2.
1 On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea.
This refers to Jesus leaving Israel proper and He now directs His teaching to ALL people. The sea represents the various peoples and nationalities of the earth. Jesus has been rejected by the leaders of Israel in the preceding chapter. The message that He and John the Baptist preached up and until this time was, "Repent, For The Kingdom of Heaven Is At Hand". This message of the coming Kingdom no longer be preached at this time because the rulers of Israel have rejected their Messiah. The "KINGDOM IS AT HAND" message will now go silent.
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.
Jesus is here talking to the nations (symbolically) if you will and the fact that He is in the boat refers to the fact that His message of a Kingdom will now apply to all the nations, and not just Israel. The fact that He is in a boat also refers to the fact that during this Kingdom age, He will be removed from their immediate presence. The King of this new "Mystery Kingdom" will not be PHYSICALLY present with and among His people. The King must return to Heaven and will rule and reign from there.
John 18:36 Jesus answered, "MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."
Col 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, WHERE CHRIST IS, sitting at the right hand of God.
3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: "Behold, a sower went out to sow.
Jesus will tell us later WHY He speaks in parables later in this chapter. The parable is about a sower and the objective of the Sower is to produce a Harvest..
4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.
A Sower expects this to happen to some extent and is TO BE EXPECTED. Production will be reduced because of this. The seed in this parable represents the Word of God. The birds represent the unsaved who will obtain the Word of God and use it for their own purpose. The birds are often associated with trees and we will find a large tree later on in this chapter where these birds carry the seed and make their home.
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.
A Sower expects this to happen to some extent and is TO BE EXPECTED. Production will be reduced because of this. The seed requires adequate soil and the plant grows temporarily, but the result is that there IS NO FRUIT BEARING.
7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.
A Sower expects this to happen to some extent and is TO BE EXPECTED. Production will be reduced because of this. The thorns absorb the nutrients that the plant needs and inhibits proper growth. The end result is that there IS NO FRUIT BEARING.
8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
This is the DESIRED situation and will result in crop production.. At last the end result is FRUIT BEARING. There will be harvest from these plant.
9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"
The farmer must expect some losses. Every seed that is sown doesn't yield a healthy fruit bearing plant. There are THREE reasons given in the parable as to why a fruit bearing plant will not occur. However, there is a FOURTH reason for lack of production which is not mentioned here. A farmer in the seed sowing business would quickly point this out.
A backyard gardener wants to grow 100 stalks of corn on his small plot of ground. Each seed will be carefully planted so that none of the three bad situations listed above will occur. The gardener goes to the supply store and tells the sales person what he intends to do. How many seeds will the sales person suggest he obtain?
He would be foolish to return with exactly 100 seeds. The reason is that some of the seed will not sprout. WHY? the answer is that some of the seed will be defective or is BAD SEED.
There are two other MAJOR reasons why the seed will not produce a fruit bearing plant. They are - -
BAD SEED or CONTAMINATED SEED can not produce a fruit bearing plant. Defective seed is referred to by the Apostle Paul as - - -
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a DIFFERENT gospel,
7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to PERVERT the GOSPEL of Christ.
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any OTHER GOSPEL to you than what we have preached to you, LET HIM BE ACCURSED.
The contaminated seed or BAD SEED is the "OTHER GOSPEL" and is controllable by the Sower. The Sower has the option to sow either GOOD Seed or known BAD Seed.
The mystery contained in this parable is that the emphasis is on the contaminated seed. The Church at Ephesus describes the details and results of sowing BAD SEED which is "THE OTHER GOSPEL". A one-for-one correlation between this FIRST Kingdom of Heaven parable and the FIRST Church in Revelation is often over looked because many Bible Students tend to focus their attention on the CAUSE of fruit bearing problems rather than looking at the SEED.
The other item has to do with the RAIN. This is not under control of the Sower. Water in the New Testament as well as the old Testament can refer to either the Word of God or the Holy Spirit. In this instance, the rain water refers to the action of the Holy Spirit and is the work of God.
Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of WATER and the SPIRIT, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
The entire plan of Salvation is contained in this parable. For the parallel is that - - -
1) WATER => SEED (The Gospel, The Word of God)
2) SPIRIT => RAIN WATER
However, just as man has no control over sending forth "RAIN WATER", so God sends forth the "Holy Spirit" into the heart of every believer.
10 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?"
This is the question we all have . . . . However, Jesus will give us the answer personally.
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.
Jesus spoke in parables so that only HIS CHILDREN could hear and understand HIM. He completes this narrative in the Gospel of John
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?"
23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
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.
Now, the fruit bearing has begun. Jesus is talking about the INTAKE of the Word of God. The more you have and understand, the more you will have and understand. This fruit bearing is the work of the Holy Spirit and the source is the SEED, the Word of God.
13 "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
14 "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and DECLARE IT TO YOU.
15 "All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.
13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
The unbelievers will not be able to HEAR and COMPREHEND what HE is saying because they are NOT His Children and do not have the Holy Spirit.
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"
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;
Jesus quotes from Isaiah to emphasize that what was true then, will be true now. The Unrighteous will not Hear nor Comprehend the scriptures.
15 For the hearts of this people have 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 hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.
Jesus gives the reason for this lack of Hearing and Understanding, that it is a matter of THEIR WILL that they do not and cannot Hear. The same is true for today.
16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;
The disciples who Believed, were able to hear the Master's voice.
"And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they
KNOW HIS VOICE.
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 is telling them what a unique time it is for them, because it is only during this time period that Jesus walked the earth as a man and talked with them directly. It would be wonderful to have witnessed all that He said and did.
25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.
It is a shame that we don't spend enough time in the BOOK that we do have to learn all that He said and did ! ! !
18 "Therefore hear the parable of the sower:
Jesus will now explain the parable to us. Let's listen to HIM - - -
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.
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.
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.
23 But he who received 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."
The bottom line for FRUIT BEARING is - - -HEAR and UNDERSTAND - - - the Word of God
The production of hundredfold, sixty, and thirty refers to various Christians each with a different capability or will to Hear and Understand the Word of God.
24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;
The Good Seed has been sown and Fruit Bearing is in progress.
25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.
The purpose of the enemy is NOT to destroy the harvest, but to DIMINISH Fruit Bearing of each plant. Actually, as we shall see, the enemy is Satan and he CANNOT destroy the Fruit Bearing plants.
26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.
The tares produce no fruit, but the wheat produces fruit. This parable is similar to the parable of the "Ten Virgins" in that the difference becomes more apparent as the wheat produces more fruit.
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?'
The servants are concerned by what is happening. Christians today are concerned about what is happening in the Church as the difference between Christian and Professing Christian becomes apparent. The visible aspect is one of works of righteousness.
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?'
Many Christians today feel it is their responsibility to wage war against Professing Christians and destroy them. However, we are not to Destroy them, but expose them.
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather EXPOSE them.
29 But he said, "No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them
Even if it were commanded to destroy the Professing Christians, the problem would be that many Believers would be destroyed also because of their alignment or association with the unbelievers.
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.""'
Jesus says that the Righteous and Unrighteous are to both grow together in this age. It is amazing how we can observe some Churches, which obviously teach unsound doctrine, are able to multiply and grow and gain tremendous power in this age to the dismay of Believers.
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,
It is interesting that we know the seed sown in the first two parables was WHEAT. But now the Sower is sowing a different seed. This seed is NOT the Word of God
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."
The heart of this parable is in the growth. The transition from small mustard seed to a giant tree reveals that this Church will begin by taking a seed SIMILAR to the Wheat Seed and plant it so that its growth becomes phenomenal. This Church will begin quite small but at the conclusion of the Church Age will be the largest Church on earth.
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."
This is perhaps the shortest parable, but carries the greatest condemnation from Jesus as far as the seven Churches of Revelation are concerned..
The woman in this parable does not represent SIN or Wickedness. The woman here is an AGENT of DECEPTION.
Women are characterized in scripture as having a deceptive nature.
1 Timothy 2:14
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being DECEIVED, fell into transgression.
The Leaven is described is the desire for Signs, Wonders, and Miracles, which is what the Scribes and Pharisees were requesting of Jesus. (See Topic Study: Spiritual Adultery )
Three measures of meal represents the Word of God which is prepared for Christian consumption if you will. The Word of God will be tainted with this Leaven until the whole bread, the Word of God, the Church becomes corrupted with the belief, promotion, and practice of miracles and signs.
The fact that it is Leaven working in bread reveals that there will be a tremendous increase of this doctrine as we near the end of the age. Its growth will only be surpassed by the Church of Pergamous which is the mustard seed growing into a huge tree.
1 Cor 5
7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are UNLEAVENED. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the UNLEAVENED BREAD of sincerity and truth.
If the unleavened bread is composed of "sincerity and truth", then leavened bread is composed of "hypocrisy and lies"
1 Timothy 4
1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to DECEIVING spirits and DOCTRINES of demons,
2 speaking - - - LIES in HYPOCRISY, - - - having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,
34 All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them,
35 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
"I will open My mouth in parables;
I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world."[
Again, only His sheep will be able to Hear and Understand His sayings through these parables.
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."
Let us listen to HIM - - -
37 He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.
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.
39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.
40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.
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.
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!
Now the discussion is about the end of the age which ends with the Tribulation period. Jesus is not talking about the rapture of the Church here. This information was nothing new to the Jews because it was taught in the Old Testament.
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.
Now back to the Mystery Kingdom, the Church. Jesus is talking about a Church which has blended itself in with the world. The field is the world. Nevertheless, this Church belongs to Christ and is very valuable. However, in order to possess this Church at this time, the treasure must be obtained with the field. The field is in the treasure and the treasure is in the field.
There is no sanctification of this Church. It has identified itself with the world.
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.
This is a very valuable Church because it is a Pearl among pearls. Among the seven Churches of Revelation, this one exceeds them all in beauty and value. This is the Church which the Lord founded upon the confession of the Apostle Peter. This is the model Church if you will. Not that the other Churches are not Churches, but this Church has put on the full armor of Christ. The other Churches are missing one or more pieces of armor that the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians Chapter 5.
"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind,
This is the worst of the Bunch for they do not have any characteristics of Christ. They are His Church, nonetheless, but they are lacking in every area. It is built primarily upon covetousness.
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."
Now we are back at the end of the tribulation again where the wicked is removed from among the righteous and the righteous will enter into the Kingdom.
51 Jesus said to them, "Have you understood all these things?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord."
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."
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
53 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there.
54 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?
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?"
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 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.