Matthew 13

1 And in that day Jesus, having gone forth from the house, was sitting by the sea,
2 and gathered together unto him were many multitudes, so that he having gone into the boat did sit down, and all the multitude on the beach did stand,
3 and he spake to them many things in similes, saying: `Lo, the sower went forth to sow,
4 and in his sowing, some indeed fell by the way, and the fowls did come and devour them,
5 and others fell upon the rocky places, where they had not much earth, and immediately they sprang forth, through not having depth of earth,
6 and the sun having risen they were scorched, and through not having root, they withered,
7 and others fell upon the thorns, and the thorns did come up and choke them,
8 and others fell upon the good ground, and were giving fruit, some indeed a hundredfold, and some sixty, and some thirty.
9 He who is having ears to hear -- let him hear.'
10 And the disciples having come near, said to him, `Wherefore in similes dost thou speak to them?'
11 And he answering said to them that -- `To you it hath been given to know the secrets of the reign of the heavens, and to these it hath not been given,
12 for whoever hath, it shall be given to him, and he shall have overabundance, and whoever hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken from him.
13 `Because of this, in similes do I speak to them, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor understand,
14 and fulfilled on them is the prophecy of Isaiah, that saith, With hearing ye shall hear, and ye shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see, and ye shall not perceive,
15 for made gross was the heart of this people, and with the ears they heard heavily, and their eyes they did close, lest they might see with the eyes, and with the ears might hear, and with the heart understand, and turn back, and I might heal them.
16 `And happy are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear,
17 for verily I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men did desire to see that which ye look on, and they did not see, and to hear that which ye hear, and they did not hear.
18 `Ye, therefore, hear ye the simile of the sower:
19 Every one hearing the word of the reign, and not understanding -- the evil one doth come, and doth catch that which hath been sown in his heart; this is that sown by the way.
20 `And that sown on the rocky places, this is he who is hearing the word, and immediately with joy is receiving it,
21 and he hath not root in himself, but is temporary, and persecution or tribulation having happened because of the word, immediately he is stumbled.
22 `And that sown toward the thorns, this is he who is hearing the word, and the anxiety of this age, and the deceitfulness of the riches, do choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
23 `And that sown on the good ground: this is he who is hearing the word, and is understanding, who indeed doth bear fruit, and doth make, some indeed a hundredfold, and some sixty, and some thirty.'
24 Another simile he set before them, saying: `The reign of the heavens was likened to a man sowing good seed in his field,
25 and, while men are sleeping, his enemy came and sowed darnel in the midst of the wheat, and went away,
26 and when the herb sprang up, and yielded fruit, then appeared also the darnel.
27 `And the servants of the householder, having come near, said to him, Sir, good seed didst thou not sow in thy field? whence then hath it the darnel?
28 And he saith to them, A man, an enemy, did this; and the servants said to him, Wilt thou, then, [that] having gone away we may gather it up?
29 `And he said, No, lest -- gathering up the darnel -- ye root up with it the wheat,
30 suffer both to grow together till the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather up first the darnel, and bind it in bundles, to burn it, and the wheat gather up into my storehouse.'
31 Another simile he set before them, saying: `The reign of the heavens is like to a grain of mustard, which a man having taken, did sow in his field,
32 which less, indeed, is than all the seeds, but when it may be grown, is greatest of the herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the heaven do come and rest in its branches.'
33 Another simile spake he to them: `The reign of the heavens is like to leaven, which a woman having taken, hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.'
34 All these things spake Jesus in similes to the multitudes, and without a simile he was not speaking to them,
35 that it might be fulfilled that was spoken through the prophet, saying, `I will open in similes my mouth, I will utter things having been hidden from the foundation of the world.'
36 Then having let away the multitudes, Jesus came to the house, and his disciples came near to him, saying, `Explain to us the simile of the darnel of the field.'
37 And he answering said to them, `He who is sowing 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 reign, and the darnel are the sons of the evil one,
39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is a full end of the age, and the reapers are messengers.
40 `As, then, the darnel is gathered up, and is burned with fire, so shall it be in the full end of this age,
41 the Son of Man shall send forth his messengers, and they shall gather up out of his kingdom all the stumbling-blocks, and those doing the unlawlessness,
42 and shall cast them to the furnace of the fire; there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of the teeth.
43 `Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the reign of their Father. He who is having ears to hear -- let him hear.
44 `Again, the reign of the heavens is like to treasure hid in the field, which a man having found did hide, and from his joy goeth, and all, as much as he hath, he selleth, and buyeth that field.
45 `Again, the reign of the heavens is like to a man, a merchant, seeking goodly pearls,
46 who having found one pearl of great price, having gone away, hath sold all, as much as he had, and bought it.
47 `Again, the reign of the heavens is like to a net that was cast into the sea, and did gather together of every kind,
48 which, when it was filled, having drawn up again upon the beach, and having sat down, they gathered the good into vessels, and the bad they did cast out,
49 so shall it be in the full end of the age, the messengers shall come forth and separate the evil out of the midst of the righteous,
50 and shall cast them to the furnace of the fire, there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of the teeth.'
51 Jesus saith to them, `Did ye understand all these?' They say to him, `Yes, sir.'
52 And he said to them, `Because of this every scribe having been discipled in regard to the reign of the heavens, is like to a man, a householder, who doth bring forth out of his treasure things new and old.'
53 And it came to pass, when Jesus finished these similes, he removed thence,
54 and having come to his own country, he was teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and were saying, `Whence to this one this wisdom and the mighty works?
55 is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
56 and his sisters -- are they not all with us? whence, then, to this one all these?'
57 and they were stumbled at him. And Jesus said to them, `A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, and in his own house:'
58 and he did not there many mighty works, 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.

Matthew 13 Commentaries