Matthew 13

The Parable of the Sower

1 On that day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea.
2 Such large crowds gathered around Him that He got into a boat and sat down, while the whole crowd stood on the shore.
3 Then He told them many things in parables, saying: "Consider the sower who went out to sow.
4 As he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and ate them up.
5 Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn't much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn't deep.
6 But when the sun came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered.
7 Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them.
8 Still others fell on good ground, and produced a crop: some 100, some 60, and some 30 times [what was sown].
9 Anyone who has ears [a] should listen!"

Why Jesus Used Parables

10 Then the disciples came up and asked Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?"
11 He answered them, "Because the secrets [b] does not mean "mysteries" in the Eng sense; it means what we can know only by divine revelation. of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them.
12 For whoever has, [more] will be given to him, and he will have more than enough. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
13 For this reason I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand.
14 Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You will listen and listen, yet never understand; and you will look and look, yet never perceive.
15 For this people's heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn back- and I would cure them. [c]
16 "But your eyes are blessed because they do see, and your ears because they do hear!
17 For I assure you: Many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see yet didn't see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn't hear them.

The Parable of the Sower Explained

18 "You, then, listen to the parable of the sower:
19 When anyone hears the word [d] about the kingdom and doesn't understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path.
20 And the one sown on rocky ground-this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy.
21 Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles.
22 Now the one sown among the thorns-this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction[e] of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
23 But the one sown on the good ground-this is one who hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields: some 100, some 60, some 30 times [what was sown]."

The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds

24 He presented another parable to them: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
25 But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds [f] among the wheat, and left.
26 When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared.
27 The landowner's slaves came to him and said, 'Master, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?'
28 " 'An enemy did this!' he told them. " 'So, do you want us to go and gather them up?' the slaves asked him.
29 " 'No,' he said. 'When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I'll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn. ' "

The Parables of the Mustard Seed and of the Yeast

31 He presented another parable to them: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.
32 It's the smallest of all the seeds, but when grown, it's taller than the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches." [g]
33 He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into 50 pounds [h] of flour until it spread through all of it." [i]

Using Parables Fulfills Prophecy

34 Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables, and He would not speak anything to them without a parable,
35 so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: I will open My mouth in parables; I will declare things kept secret from the foundation of the world. [j]

Jesus Interprets the Wheat and the Weeds

36 Then He dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, "Explain the parable of the weeds in the field to us."
37 He replied: "The One who sows the good seed is the Son of Man;
38 the field is the world; and the good seed-these are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and
39 the enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 Therefore just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.
41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin [k] and those guilty of lawlessness. [l]
42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom. Anyone who has ears [m] should listen!

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and of the Priceless Pearl

44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field.
45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls.
46 When he found one priceless [n] pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.

The Parable of the Net

47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a large net thrown into the sea. It collected every kind [of fish],
48 and when it was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down, and gathered the good [fish] into containers, but threw out the worthless ones.
49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out, separate the evil people from the righteous,
50 and throw them into the blazing furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The Storehouse of Truth

51 "Have you understood all these things?" [o] "Yes," they told Him.
52 "Therefore," He said to them, "every student of Scripture [p] instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who brings out of his storeroom what is new and what is old."
53 When Jesus had finished these parables, He left there.

Rejection at Nazareth

54 He went to His hometown and began to teach them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, "How did this wisdom and these miracles come to Him?
55 Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't His mother called Mary, and His brothers James, Joseph,[q] Simon, and Judas?
56 And His sisters, aren't they all with us? So where does He get all these things?"
57 And they were offended by Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his household."
58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.

Matthew 13 Commentary

Chapter 13

The parable of the sower. (1-23) The parable of the tares. (24-30; 36-43) The parables of the mustard-seed and the leaven. (31-35) The parables of the hidden treasure, the pearl of great price, the net cast into the sea, and the householder. (44-52) Jesus is again rejected at Nazareth. (53-58)

Verses 1-23 Jesus entered into a boat that he might be the less pressed, and be the better heard by the people. By this he teaches us in the outward circumstances of worship not to covet that which is stately, but to make the best of the conveniences God in his providence allots to us. Christ taught in parables. Thereby the things of God were made more plain and easy to those willing to be taught, and at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who were willingly ignorant. The parable of the sower is plain. The seed sown is the word of God. The sower is our Lord Jesus Christ, by himself, or by his ministers. Preaching to a multitude is sowing the corn; we know not where it will light. Some sort of ground, though we take ever so much pains with it, brings forth no fruit to purpose, while the good soil brings forth plentifully. So it is with the hearts of men, whose different characters are here described by four sorts of ground. Careless, trifling hearers, are an easy prey to Satan; who, as he is the great murderer of souls, so he is the great thief of sermons, and will be sure to rob us of the word, if we take not care to keep it. Hypocrites, like the stony ground, often get the start of true Christians in the shows of profession. Many are glad to hear a good sermon, who do not profit by it. They are told of free salvation, of the believer's privileges, and the happiness of heaven; and, without any change of heart, without any abiding conviction of their own depravity, their need of a Saviour, or the excellence of holiness, they soon profess an unwarranted assurance. But when some heavy trial threatens them, or some sinful advantage may be had, they give up or disguise their profession, or turn to some easier system. Worldly cares are fitly compared to thorns, for they came in with sin, and are a fruit of the curse; they are good in their place to stop a gap, but a man must be well armed that has much to do with them; they are entangling, vexing, scratching, and their end is to be burned, ( Hebrews 6:8 ) . Worldly cares are great hinderances to our profiting by the word of God. The deceitfulness of riches does the mischief; they cannot be said to deceive us unless we put our trust in them, then they choke the good seed. What distinguished the good ground was fruitfulness. By this true Christians are distinguished from hypocrites. Christ does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but none that could hinder its fruitfulness. All are not alike; we should aim at the highest, to bring forth most fruit. The sense of hearing cannot be better employed than in hearing God's word; and let us look to ourselves that we may know what sort of hearers we are.

24-30, 36-43 This parable represents the present and future state of the gospel church; Christ's care of it, the devil's enmity against it, the mixture there is in it of good and bad in this world, and the separation between them in the other world. So prone is fallen man to sin, that if the enemy sow the tares, he may go his way, they will spring up, and do hurt; whereas, when good seed is sown, it must be tended, watered, and fenced. The servants complained to their master; Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? No doubt he did; whatever is amiss in the church, we are sure it is not from Christ. Though gross transgressors, and such as openly oppose the gospel, ought to be separated from the society of the faithful, yet no human skill can make an exact separation. Those who oppose must not be cut off, but instructed, and that with meekness. And though good and bad are together in this world, yet at the great day they shall be parted; then the righteous and the wicked shall be plainly known; here sometimes it is hard to distinguish between them. Let us, knowing the terrors of the Lord, not do iniquity. At death, believers shall shine forth to themselves; at the great day they shall shine forth before all the world. They shall shine by reflection, with light borrowed from the Fountain of light. Their sanctification will be made perfect, and their justification published. May we be found of that happy number.

Verses 31-35 The scope of the parable of the seed sown, is to show that the beginnings of the gospel would be small, but its latter end would greatly increase; in this way the work of grace in the heart, the kingdom of God within us, would be carried on. In the soul where grace truly is, it will grow really; though perhaps at first not to be discerned, it will at last come to great strength and usefulness. The preaching of the gospel works like leaven in the hearts of those who receive it. The leaven works certainly, so does the word, yet gradually. It works silently, and without being seen, ( Mark 4:26-29 ) , yet strongly; without noise, for so is the way of the Spirit, but without fail. Thus it was in the world. The apostles, by preaching the gospel, hid a handful of leaven in the great mass of mankind. It was made powerful by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts, who works, and none can hinder. Thus it is in the heart. When the gospel comes into the soul, it works a thorough change; it spreads itself into all the powers and faculties of the soul, and alters the property even of the members of the body, ( Romans 6:13 ) . From these parables we are taught to expect a gradual progress; therefore let us inquire, Are we growing in grace? and in holy principles and habits?

Verses 44-52 Here are four parables. 1. That of the treasure hid in the field. Many slight the gospel, because they look only upon the surface of the field. But all who search the Scriptures, so as in them to find Christ and eternal life, ( John 5:39 ) , will discover such treasure in this field as makes it unspeakably valuable; they make it their own upon any terms. Though nothing can be given as a price for this salvation, yet much must be given up for the sake of it. 2. All the children of men are busy; one would be rich, another would be honourable, another would be learned; but most are deceived, and take up with counterfeits for pearls. Jesus Christ is a Pearl of great price; in having him, we have enough to make us happy here and for ever. A man may buy gold too dear, but not this Pearl of great price. When the convinced sinner sees Christ as the gracious Saviour, all things else become worthless to his thoughts. 3. The world is a vast sea, and men, in their natural state, are like the fishes. Preaching the gospel is casting a net into this sea, to catch something out of it, for His glory who has the sovereignty of this sea. Hypocrites and true Christians shall be parted: miserable is the condition of those that shall then be cast away. 4. A skilful, faithful minister of the gospel, is a scribe, well versed in the things of the gospel, and able to teach them. Christ compares him to a good householder, who brings forth fruits of last year's growth and this year's gathering, abundance and variety, to entertain his friends. Old experiences and new observations, all have their use. Our place is at Christ's feet, and we must daily learn old lessons over again, and new ones also.

Verses 53-58 Christ repeats his offer to those who have repulsed them. They upbraid him, Is not this the carpenter's son? Yes, it is true he was reputed to be so; and no disgrace to be the son of an honest tradesman; they should have respected him the more because he was one of themselves, but therefore they despised him. He did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Unbelief is the great hinderance to Christ's favours. Let us keep faithful to him as the Saviour who has made our peace with God.

Footnotes 17

  • [a]. Other mss add to hear
  • [b]. The Gk word mysteria
  • [c]. Isaiah 6:9-10
  • [d]. Gk logos word, or message, or saying, or thing
  • [e]. Or pleasure, or deceitfulness
  • [f]. Or darnel, a weed similar in appearance to wheat in the early stages
  • [g]. Ezk 17:23
  • [h]. Lit 3 sata; about 40 quarts
  • [i]. Or until all of it was leavened
  • [j]. Ps 78:2
  • [k]. Or stumbling
  • [l]. Or those who do lawlessness
  • [m]. Other mss add to hear
  • [n]. Or very precious
  • [o]. Other mss add Jesus asked them
  • [p]. Or every scribe
  • [q]. Other mss read Joses; Mk 6:3

Matthew 13 Commentaries