Matthew 13

1 That same day Jesus left the house and went to the lakeside, where he sat down to teach.
2 The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it, while the crowd stood on the shore. 1
3 He used parables to tell them many things. "Once there was a man who went out to sow grain.
4 As he scattered the seed in the field, some of it fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.
5 Some of it fell on rocky ground, where there was little soil. The seeds soon sprouted, because the soil wasn't deep.
6 But when the sun came up, it burned the young plants; and because the roots had not grown deep enough, the plants soon dried up.
7 Some of the seed fell among thorn bushes, which grew up and choked the plants.
8 But some seeds fell in good soil, and the plants bore grain: some had one hundred grains, others sixty, and others thirty."
9 And Jesus concluded, "Listen, then, if you have ears!"
10 Then the disciples came to Jesus and asked him, "Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?"
11 Jesus answered, "The knowledge about the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.
12 For the person who has something will be given more, so that he will have more than enough; but the person who has nothing will have taken away from him even the little he has. 2
13 The reason I use parables in talking to them is that they look, but do not see, and they listen, but do not hear or understand.
14 So the prophecy of Isaiah applies to them: 3 "This people will listen and listen, but not understand; they will look and look, but not see,
15 because their minds are dull, and they have stopped up their ears and have closed their eyes. Otherwise, their eyes would see, their ears would hear, their minds would understand, and they would turn to me, says God, and I would heal them.'
16 "As for you, how fortunate you are! Your eyes see and your ears hear. 4
17 I assure you that many prophets and many of God's people wanted very much to see what you see, but they could not, and to hear what you hear, but they did not.
18 "Listen, then, and learn what the parable of the sower means.
19 Those who hear the message about the Kingdom but do not understand it are like the seeds that fell along the path. The Evil One comes and snatches away what was sown in them.
20 The seeds that fell on rocky ground stand for those who receive the message gladly as soon as they hear it.
21 But it does not sink deep into them, and they don't last long. So when trouble or persecution comes because of the message, they give up at once.
22 The seeds that fell among thorn bushes stand for those who hear the message; but the worries about this life and the love for riches choke the message, and they don't bear fruit.
23 And the seeds sown in the good soil stand for those who hear the message and understand it: they bear fruit, some as much as one hundred, others sixty, and others thirty."
24 Jesus told them another parable: "The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man sowed good seed in his field.
25 One night, when everyone was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.
26 When the plants grew and the heads of grain began to form, then the weeds showed up.
27 The man's servants came to him and said, "Sir, it was good seed you sowed in your field; where did the weeds come from?'
28 "It was some enemy who did this,' he answered. "Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds?' they asked him.
29 "No,' he answered, "because as you gather the weeds you might pull up some of the wheat along with them.
30 Let the wheat and the weeds both grow together until harvest. Then I will tell the harvest workers to pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them, and then to gather in the wheat and put it in my barn.' "
31 Jesus told them another parable: "The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man takes a mustard seed and sows it in his field.
32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows up, it is the biggest of all plants. It becomes a tree, so that birds come and make their nests in its branches."
33 Jesus told them still another parable: "The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A woman takes some yeast and mixes it with a bushel of flour until the whole batch of dough rises."
34 Jesus used parables to tell all these things to the crowds; he would not say a thing to them without using a parable.
35 He did this to make come true what the prophet had said, 5 "I will use parables when I speak to them; I will tell them things unknown since the creation of the world."
36 When Jesus had left the crowd and gone indoors, his disciples came to him and said, "Tell us what the parable about the weeds in the field means."
37 Jesus answered, "The man who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man;
38 the field is the world; the good seed is the people who belong to the Kingdom; the weeds are the people who belong to the Evil One;
39 and the enemy who sowed the weeds is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvest workers are angels.
40 Just as the weeds are gathered up and burned in the fire, so the same thing will happen at the end of the age:
41 the Son of Man will send out his angels to gather up out of his Kingdom all those who cause people to sin and all others who do evil things,
42 and they will throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will cry and gnash their teeth.
43 Then God's people will shine like the sun in their Father's Kingdom. Listen, then, if you have ears! 6
44 "The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man happens to find a treasure hidden in a field. He covers it up again, and is so happy that he goes and sells everything he has, and then goes back and buys that field.
45 "Also, the Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man is looking for fine pearls,
46 and when he finds one that is unusually fine, he goes and sells everything he has, and buys that pearl.
47 "Also, the Kingdom of heaven is like this. Some fishermen throw their net out in the lake and catch all kinds of fish.
48 When the net is full, they pull it to shore and sit down to divide the fish: the good ones go into the buckets, the worthless ones are thrown away.
49 It will be like this at the end of the age: the angels will go out and gather up the evil people from among the good
50 and will throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will cry and gnash their teeth.
51 "Do you understand these things?" Jesus asked them. "Yes," they answered.
52 So he replied, "This means, then, that every teacher of the Law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of heaven is like a homeowner who takes new and old things out of his storage room."
53 When Jesus finished telling these parables, he left that place
54 and went back to his hometown. He taught in the synagogue, and those who heard him were amazed. "Where did he get such wisdom?" they asked. "And what about his miracles?
55 Isn't he the carpenter's son? Isn't Mary his mother, and aren't James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas his brothers?
56 Aren't all his sisters living here? Where did he get all this?"
57 And so they rejected him. 7 Jesus said to them, "A prophet is respected everywhere except in his hometown and by his own family."
58 Because they did not have faith, he did not perform many miracles there.

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 7

  • 1. 13.2Luke 5.1-3.
  • 2. 13.12Matthew 25.29;Mark 4.25;Luke 8.18; 19.26.
  • 3. 13.14, 15Isaiah 6.9, 10 (LXX).
  • 4. 13.16, 17Luke 10.23, 24.
  • 5. 13.35Psalms 78.2.
  • 6. +213.432 Esdras 7.97.
  • 7. 13.57John 4.44.

Matthew 13 Commentaries