Matthew 13

The Parable of the Sower

1 On that day Jesus went out of the house [and] was sitting by the sea.
2 And large crowds gathered close around him, so that he got into a boat to sit down, and all the crowd was standing on the shore.
3 And he spoke many [things] to them in parables, saying, "Behold, the sower went out to sow,
4 and while he was sowing, {some seed} fell on the side of the path, and the birds came [and] devoured it.
5 And other [seed] fell on the rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up at once because it did not have [any] depth of soil.
6 But [when] the sun rose it was scorched, and because it did not have [enough] root, it withered.
7 And other [seed] fell among the thorn plants, and the thorn plants came up and choked it.
8 But other [seed] fell on the good soil and produced grain, this one a hundred [times as much] and this one sixty and this one thirty.
9 The one who has ears, let him hear!"

The Reason for the Parables

10 And the disciples came up [and] said to him, "{Why} do you speak to them in parables?"
11 And he answered [and] said to them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to those [people] it has not been granted.
12 For whoever has, to him [more] will be given, and he will have an abundance. 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 seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand,
14 and with reference to them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says, "{You will listen carefully} and will never understand, and {you will look closely} and will never perceive.
15 For the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they hear with difficulty, and they have shut their eyes, so that they would not see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them."
16 But your eyes [are] blessed because they see, and your ears because they hear.
17 For truly I say to you that many 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 Interpreted

18 "You, therefore, listen to the parable of the sower:
19 [When] anyone hears the word about the kingdom and does not understand [it], the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is what was sown on the side of the path.
20 And what was sown on the rocky ground--this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy.
21 But he does not have a root in himself, but {lasts only a little while}, and [when] affliction or persecution happens because of the word, immediately he falls away.
22 And what was sown into the thorn plants--this is the one who hears the word, and the anxiety of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word and it becomes unproductive.
23 But what was sown on the good soil--this is the one who hears the word and understands [it], who indeed bears fruit and produces, this one a hundred [times as much], and this one sixty, and this one thirty."

The Parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat

24 He put before them another parable, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
25 But while his people were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed darnel in the midst of the wheat and went away.
26 So when the {wheat} sprouted and yielded grain, then the darnel appeared also.
27 So the slaves 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 darnel?'
28 And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' So the slaves said to him, 'Then do you want us to go [and] gather them?'
29 But he said, "No, lest [when you] gather the darnel you uproot the wheat together with it.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the season of the harvest I will tell the reapers, "First gather the darnel and tie it into bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my storehouse." '"

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

31 He put before them another parable, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took [and] sowed in his field.
32 {It} is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it is grown it is larger than the garden herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches."

The Parable of the Yeast

33 He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took [and] put into three measures of wheat flour until the whole [batch] was leavened."

Parables Fulfill Prophecy

34 Jesus spoke all these [things] to the crowds in parables, and he was saying nothing to them without a parable,
35 in order that what was spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled, who said, "I will open my mouth in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden since the creation."

The Parable of the Weeds Interpreted

36 Then he left the crowds [and] came into the house, and his disciples came to him saying, "Explain the parable of the darnel in the field to us."
37 So he answered [and] said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,
38 and the field is the world. And the good seed--these are the sons of the kingdom, but the darnel are the sons of the evil one.
39 And the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.
40 Thus just as the darnel is gathered and burned with 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 out of his kingdom all the causes of sin and those who do lawless deeds,
42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!
43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The one who has ears, let him hear!

The Parable of the Treasure Hidden in a Field

44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, that a man found [and] concealed, and in his joy he goes and sells everything that he has and buys that field.

The Parable of the Valuable Pearl

45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.
46 And [when he] found one very valuable pearl, he went [and] sold everything that he possessed and purchased it.

The Parable of the Dragnet

47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was thrown into the sea and gathered [fish] of every kind,
48 which when it was filled they pulled to shore and sat down [and] collected the good [fish] into containers, but the bad they threw out.
49 Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the evil from among the righteous
50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!
51 "Have you understood all these [things]?" They said to him, "Yes."
52 And he said to them, "For this [reason] every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of the house who brings out of his storeroom new [things] and old [things]."

Rejected at Nazareth

53 And it happened that when Jesus had finished these parables he went away from there.
54 And he came to his hometown [and] began to teach them in their synagogue, so that they were amazed and said, "From where did this man [get] this wisdom and these miracles?
55 Is not this one the son of the carpenter? Is not his mother called Mary and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
56 And are not all his sisters with us? From where then did this man [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 [own] hometown and in his [own] household."
58 And he did not perform many miracles in that place 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 41

  • [a]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("went out") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [b]. That is, the Sea of Galilee
  • [c]. Literally "some of which"
  • [d]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("came") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [e]. *Here "[when]" is supplied as a component of the temporal genitive absolute participle ("rose")
  • [f]. Literally "fruit," describing here the grain harvested from the healthy plants; in contemporary English this would more naturally be expressed by terms like "grain" or "crop"
  • [g]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("came up") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [h]. Literally "because of what"
  • [i]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("answered") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [j]. A quotation from Isa 6:9-10
  • [k]. *Here the direct object is supplied from context in the English translation
  • [l]. *Here the direct object is supplied from context in the English translation
  • [m]. *Here "[when]" is supplied as a component of the temporal genitive absolute participle ("hears")
  • [n]. *Here the direct object is supplied from context in the English translation
  • [o]. Literally "is temporary"
  • [p]. *Here "[when]" is supplied as a component of the temporal genitive absolute participle ("happens")
  • [q]. Some manuscripts have "of the world"
  • [r]. *Here the direct object is supplied from context in the English translation
  • [s]. Literally "the"; the Greek article is used here as a possessive pronoun
  • [t]. A weed that looks similar to wheat but has poisonous seeds
  • [u]. Literally "grass," "hay," but in this context referring to the good plants as opposed to the weeds
  • [v]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("came") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [w]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("go") has been translated as an English infinitive
  • [x]. *Here "[when]" is supplied as a component of the participle ("gather") which is understood as temporal
  • [y]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("took") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [z]. Literally "which," but a new sentence is started here in the English translation
  • [aa]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("took") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [ab]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("left") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [ac]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("answered") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [ad]. Some manuscripts have "burned up"
  • [ae]. An allusion to Dan 3:6
  • [af]. An allusion to Dan 12:3
  • [ag]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("found") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [ah]. *Here "[when]" is supplied as a component of the participle ("found") which is understood as temporal
  • [ai]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("went") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [aj]. *Here the direct object is supplied from context in the English translation
  • [ak]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("sat down") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [al]. *Here the word "[fish]" is not in the Greek text but is implied
  • [am]. An allusion to Dan 3:6
  • [an]. *Here "[and]" is supplied because the previous participle ("came") has been translated as a finite verb
  • [ao]. The imperfect tense has been translated as ingressive here ("began to teach")

Matthew 13 Commentaries