Matthew 13

Listen to Matthew 13

The Parable of the Sower

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house 1and sat beside the sea.
2 And great crowds gathered about him, 2so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach.
3 And 3he told them many things in parables, saying: 4"A sower went out to sow.
4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.
5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,
6 but 5when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, 6they withered away.
7 Other seeds fell among 7thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.
8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some 8a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
9 9He who has ears,[a] let him hear."

The Purpose of the Parables

10 Then the disciples came and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?"
11 And he answered them, 10"To you it has been given to know 11the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
12 12For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, 13even what he has will be taken away.
13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because 14seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, 15nor do they understand.
14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: 16"'You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.
15 For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears 17they can barely hear, and 18their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and 19understand with their heart and 20turn, and I would heal them.'
16 But 21blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
17 22For truly, I say to you, 23many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

The Parable of the Sower Explained

18 24"Hear then the parable of the sower:
19 When anyone hears the word of 25the kingdom and 26does not understand it, 27the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately 28receives it with joy,
21 yet he has no root in himself, but 29endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately 30he falls away.[b]
22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but 31the cares of 32the world and 33the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and 34understands it. He indeed 35bears fruit and yields, in one case 36a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."

The Parable of the Weeds

24 He put another parable before them, saying, 37"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,
25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds[c] among the wheat and went away.
26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.
27 And the servants[d] of the master of the house came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?'
28 He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' So the servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?'
29 But he said, 38'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, 39Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"

The Mustard Seed and the Leaven

31 He put another parable before them, saying, 40"The kingdom of heaven is like 41a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.
32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."
33 He told them another parable. 42"The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in 43three measures of flour, till it was 44all leavened."

Prophecy and Parables

34 45All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable.
35 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:[e]46"I will open my mouth in parables; 47I will utter what has been hidden 48since the foundation of the world."

The Parable of the Weeds Explained

36 Then he left the crowds and went into 49the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, 50"Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field."
37 He answered, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.
38 The field is the world, and the good seed is 51the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are 52the sons of the evil one,
39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. 53The harvest is 54the close of the age, and the reapers are angels.
40 Just as the weeds 55are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at 56the close of the age.
41 57The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all 58causes of sin and 59all law-breakers,
42 60and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place 61there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then 62the righteous will shine like the sun 63in the kingdom of their Father. 64He who has ears, let him hear.

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

44 "The kingdom of heaven 65is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy 66he goes and sells all that he has and 67buys that field.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value

45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,
46 who, on finding 68one pearl of great value, 69went and sold all that he had and 70bought it.

The Parable of the Net

47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is 71like a net that was thrown into the sea and 72gathered fish of every kind.
48 When it was full, 73men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad.
49 So it will be at 74the close of the age. The angels will come out and 75separate the evil from the righteous
50 76and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place 77there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

New and Old Treasures

51 78"Have you understood all these things?" They said to him, "Yes."
52 And he said to them, "Therefore every 79scribe 80who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who 81brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there,
54 82and coming to 83his hometown 84he taught them in their synagogue, so that 85they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?
55 86Is not this 87the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not 88his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?"
57 And 89they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, 90"A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household."
58 And he did not do many mighty works there, 91because 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.

Cross References 91

  • 1. For ver. 1-15, see Mark 4:1-12; Luke 8:4-10
  • 2. [Mark 3:9; Luke 5:1-3]
  • 3. ver. 34
  • 4. [Isaiah 55:10; Amos 9:13]
  • 5. James 1:11
  • 6. John 15:6
  • 7. Jeremiah 4:3
  • 8. ver. 23; Genesis 26:12
  • 9. See Matthew 11:15
  • 10. Matthew 19:11; Colossians 1:27; [1 Corinthians 2:6-10; 1 John 2:20, 27]; See Matthew 11:25
  • 11. See Romans 16:25
  • 12. Matthew 25:29; Mark 4:25; Luke 8:18; Luke 19:26; [John 15:2; James 4:6]
  • 13. [Revelation 2:5]
  • 14. Deuteronomy 29:4; Jeremiah 5:21; Ezekiel 12:2; Romans 11:8; 2 Corinthians 3:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4; [Isaiah 42:19, 20]
  • 15. ver. 19, 51; Matthew 15:10; Matthew 16:12; Mark 8:21
  • 16. John 12:40; Acts 28:26, 27; Cited from Isaiah 6:9, 10
  • 17. [Hebrews 5:11]
  • 18. [John 9:39, 41]
  • 19. [Romans 10:10]
  • 20. See Luke 22:32
  • 21. Luke 10:23, 24; [Matthew 16:17]
  • 22. [See ver. 16 above]
  • 23. Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 1:10-12; [John 8:56]
  • 24. For ver. 18-23, see Mark 4:13-20; Luke 8:11-15
  • 25. ver. 38; Matthew 4:23; Matthew 8:12
  • 26. See ver. 13
  • 27. John 17:15; Ephesians 6:16; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 John 2:13, 14; 1 John 3:12; 1 John 5:18, 19
  • 28. [Isaiah 58:2; Ezekiel 33:31, 32; Mark 6:20; John 5:35]
  • 29. Galatians 1:6; [Hosea 6:4; Galatians 5:7]
  • 30. See Matthew 11:6
  • 31. See Matthew 6:25
  • 32. 2 Timothy 4:10
  • 33. 1 Tim. 6:9, 10, 17; [Matthew 19:23; Mark 10:23; Acts 5:1-11; Hebrews 3:13]
  • 34. [See ver. 19 above]
  • 35. Hosea 14:8; John 15:5, 16; Philippians 1:11; Colossians 1:6
  • 36. ver. 8
  • 37. ver. 37-42; [Mark 4:26-29]
  • 38. [1 Corinthians 4:5]
  • 39. Matthew 3:12
  • 40. For ver. 31, 32, see Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18, 19
  • 41. Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6
  • 42. Luke 13:20, 21
  • 43. Genesis 18:6
  • 44. 1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9
  • 45. ver. 3; Mark 4:33, 34; [John 16:25, 29]
  • 46. Cited from Psalms 78:2
  • 47. [ver. 11; Romans 16:25, 26; 1 Corinthians 2:7]
  • 48. Matthew 25:34; Luke 11:50; [John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20]
  • 49. ver. 1
  • 50. ver. 24-30; [Matthew 15:15]
  • 51. [ver. 43]
  • 52. John 8:44; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:10; [Matthew 23:15]; See ver. 19
  • 53. Joel 3:13; Revelation 14:15
  • 54. ver. 49; Matthew 24:3; Matthew 28:20; [Daniel 12:13; Hebrews 9:26]
  • 55. John 15:6; [Matthew 3:12]
  • 56. [See ver. 39 above]
  • 57. Matthew 24:31
  • 58. Matthew 18:7; [Zephaniah 1:3]
  • 59. Matthew 7:23
  • 60. ver. 50; Revelation 9:2; [Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10]
  • 61. See Matthew 8:12
  • 62. Proverbs 4:18; Daniel 12:3; [1 Corinthians 15:41, 42]
  • 63. [ver. 38; Matthew 25:34; Matthew 26:29; Luke 12:32]
  • 64. See Matthew 11:15
  • 65. Proverbs 2:4
  • 66. [Matthew 25:9; Proverbs 23:23; Philippians 3:7, 8]
  • 67. [Isaiah 55:1; Revelation 3:18]
  • 68. Matthew 7:6
  • 69. [See ver. 44 above]
  • 70. [See ver. 44 above]
  • 71. Matthew 4:19
  • 72. [ver. 38; Matthew 22:10; Matthew 25:2]
  • 73. John 21:11
  • 74. See ver. 39
  • 75. Matthew 25:32; [ver. 41]
  • 76. See ver. 42
  • 77. See ver. 42
  • 78. ver. 10-16; [John 10:6; John 16:29]
  • 79. Matthew 23:34
  • 80. Matthew 28:19
  • 81. [Matthew 12:35]
  • 82. For ver. 54-58, see Mark 6:1-6; [Luke 4:16-30]
  • 83. Matthew 2:23; Luke 4:23
  • 84. See Matthew 4:23
  • 85. See Matthew 7:28
  • 86. [Luke 4:22; John 6:42]
  • 87. [Mark 6:3]
  • 88. See Matthew 12:46
  • 89. See Matthew 11:6
  • 90. Luke 4:24; John 4:44; [Jeremiah 11:21; Jeremiah 12:6; John 7:5]
  • 91. [Matthew 17:20]

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Some manuscripts add here and in verse 43 to hear
  • [b]. Or stumbles
  • [c]. Probably darnel, a wheat-like weed
  • [d]. Greek bondservants; also verse 28
  • [e]. Some manuscripts Isaiah the prophet

Matthew 13 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.