Matthew 13

Jesus Teaches in Parables

1 That day Jesus went out of 1the house and was sitting 2by the sea.
2 And large crowds gathered to Him, so 3He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.
3 And He spoke many things to them in 4parables, saying, "Behold, the sower went out to sow;
4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.
5 "Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil.
6 "But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
7 "Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.
8 "And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a 5hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.
9 "6He who has ears, let him hear."

An Explanation

10 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why * do You speak to them in parables?"
11 Jesus answered them, "7To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.
12 "8For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.
13 "Therefore * I speak to them in parables; because while 9seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
14 "In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, '10YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE;
15 11FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.'
16 "12But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.
17 "For truly I say to you that 13many 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.

The Sower Explained

18 "14Hear then the parable of the sower.
19 "When anyone hears 15the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, 16the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.
20 "The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;
21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he 17falls away.
22 "And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of 18the world and the 19deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
23 "And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some 20a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."

Tares among Wheat

24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "21The 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 tares among * the wheat, and went away.
26 "But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.
27 "The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?'
28 "And he said to them, 'An enemy * has done this!' The slaves said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?'
29 "But he said, 'No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.
30 'Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but 22gather the wheat into my barn."' "

The Mustard Seed

31 He presented another parable to them, saying, "23The kingdom of heaven is like 24a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field;
32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that 25THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES."

The Leaven

33 He spoke another parable to them, "26The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in 27three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."
34 All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them 28without a parable.
35 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "29I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES; I WILL UTTER THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD."

The Tares Explained

36 Then He left the crowds and went into 30the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, "31Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field."
37 And He said, "The one who sows the good seed is 32the Son of Man,
38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are 33the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are 34the sons of 35the evil one;
39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is 36the end of the age; and the reapers are angels.
40 "So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at 37the end of the age.
41 "38The Son of Man 39will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all 40stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,
42 and 41will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place 42there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
43 "43Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. 44He who has ears, let him hear.

Hidden Treasure

44 "45The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and 46sells all that he has and buys that field.

A Costly Pearl

45 "Again, 47the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls,
46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

A Dragnet

47 "Again, 48the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind;
48 and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away.
49 "So it will be at 49the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous,
50 and 50will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place 51there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 "Have you understood all these things?" They said to Him, "Yes."
52 And Jesus said to them, "Therefore * every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old."

Jesus Revisits Nazareth

53 52When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there.
54 53He came to His hometown and 54began teaching them in their synagogue, so that 55they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?
55 "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not 56His mother called Mary, and His 57brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
56 "And 58His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?"
57 And they took 59offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, "60A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own 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.

Cross References 60

  • 1. Matthew 9:28; Matthew 13:36
  • 2. Matthew 13:1-15: {Mark 4:1-12; Luke 8:4-10;} Mark 2:13
  • 3. Luke 5:3
  • 4. Matthew 13:10f; Mark 4:2f
  • 5. Genesis 26:12; Matthew 13:23
  • 6. Matthew 11:15; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; Revelation 3:6, 13, 22
  • 7. Matthew 19:11; Matthew 20:23; John 6:65; 1 Corinthians 2:10; Colossians 1:27; 1 John 2:20, 27
  • 8. Matthew 25:29; Mark 4:25; Luke 8:18; Luke 19:26
  • 9. Deuteronomy 29:4; Isaiah 42:19, 20; Jeremiah 5:21; Ezekiel 12:2
  • 10. Isaiah 6:9; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:40; Acts 28:26, 27; Romans 10:16; Romans 11:8
  • 11. Isaiah 6:10; Psalms 119:70; Zechariah 7:11; Luke 19:42; John 8:43, 44; 2 Timothy 4:4; Hebrews 5:11
  • 12. Matthew 13:16, 17: {Luke 10:23, 24;} Matthew 16:17; John 20:29
  • 13. John 8:56; Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 1:10-12
  • 14. Matthew 13:18-23: {Mark 4:13-20; Luke 8:11-15}
  • 15. Matthew 4:23
  • 16. Matthew 5:37
  • 17. Matthew 11:6
  • 18. Matthew 12:32; Matthew 13:39; Mark 4:19; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:6, 8; 1 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 2:2
  • 19. Matthew 19:23; 1 Tim 6:9, 10, 17
  • 20. Matthew 13:8
  • 21. Matt 13:31, 33, 45, 47; Matthew 18:23; Matthew 20:1; Matthew 22:2; Matthew 25:1; Mark 4:26-30; Luke 13:18, 20
  • 22. Matthew 3:12
  • 23. Matthew 13:31, 32: {Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18, 19;} Matthew 13:24
  • 24. Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6
  • 25. Ezekiel 17:23; Psalms 104:12; Ezekiel 31:6; Daniel 4:12
  • 26. Matthew 13:33: {Luke 13:21;} Matthew 13:24
  • 27. Genesis 18:6; Judges 6:19; 1 Samuel 1:24
  • 28. Mark 4:34; John 10:6; John 16:25
  • 29. Psalms 78:2
  • 30. Matthew 13:1
  • 31. Matthew 15:15
  • 32. Matthew 8:20
  • 33. Matthew 8:12
  • 34. John 8:44; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:10
  • 35. Matthew 5:37
  • 36. Matthew 12:32; Matthew 13:22, 40, 49; Matthew 24:3; Matthew 28:20; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 9:26
  • 37. Matthew 12:32; Matthew 13:22, 39, 49; Matthew 24:3; Matthew 28:20; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 9:26
  • 38. Matthew 8:20
  • 39. Matthew 24:31
  • 40. Zephaniah 1:3
  • 41. Matthew 13:50
  • 42. Matthew 8:12
  • 43. Daniel 12:3
  • 44. Matthew 11:15
  • 45. Matthew 13:24
  • 46. Matthew 13:46
  • 47. Matthew 13:24
  • 48. Matthew 13:44
  • 49. Matthew 13:39, 40
  • 50. Matthew 13:42
  • 51. Matthew 8:12
  • 52. Matthew 7:28
  • 53. Matthew 13:54-58: {Mark 6:1-6}
  • 54. Matthew 4:23
  • 55. Matthew 7:28
  • 56. Matthew 12:46
  • 57. Matthew 12:46
  • 58. Mark 6:3
  • 59. Matthew 11:6
  • 60. Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24; John 4:44

Footnotes 31

Matthew 13 Commentaries