Matthew 13 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Matthew 13
Pulpit Commentary
The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.
Verses 1-9. - The parable of the sower. Parallel passages: Mark 4:1-9; Luke 8:4-8. Verse 1. - The same day; on that day (Revised Version). Although day is sometimes used in a metaphorical sense, so as to include what is, in fact, a long period of time (e.g. Luke 6:23; Mark 2:20; cf. also John 14:20; John 16:23, 26; and possibly even Acts 8:1), yet we are not justified in assigning this sense to it unless the context clearly requires us to do so. This is not the case here, so that we must assume that a literal day is intended. But which day? Naturally, the day that has just before been mentioned, either in the original source from which our narrative is taken or in the narrative as it now stands. Since, however, Matthew 12:46-50 and our vers. 1-23 appear to have been already connected in the framework (as is seen from their being in the same relative position in Mark), these supposed alternatives really represent the same thing, the phrase probably referring to the day on which our Lord's mother and brethren sought to speak to him (Matthew 12:46). Went Jesus out of the house. Where he had been when his mother came (Matthew 12:46, note), and presumably the one to which he returned in ver. 36. Possibly it was St. Peter's house at Capernaum (Matthew 8:14). And sat (Matthew 5:1, note). By the seaside. Until the crowds compelled him to enter the boat.
And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
Verse 2. - And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship. The article wrongly inserted in the Received Text (τὸ πλοῖον) suggests that it was the boat which, as some think, waited upon him. (For another occasion when he taught from a boat, cf. Luke 5:3.) And sat; and the whole multitude stood; was standing. The position of ἱστήκει at the end of the sentence in the Greek emphasizes their attitude. Their numbers compelled it, and they disregarded the fatigue. Further, the tense (pluperf., equivalent to imperf.) pictures them as patiently standing there. On the shore; beach (Revised Version); ἐπὶ τὸν αἰγιαλόν: i.e. this part at least of the shore was covered with sand or pebbles. Possibly we have signs of an eyewitness, both in the exact description of the spot, and in the vividness of the ἱστήκει (comp. John 1:35, al.; and Bishop Westcott's remarks in Expositor, III. 5:248; cf., too, Introduction, p. 12.).
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
Verse 3. - And he spake many things. Of which but a few are here recorded (cf. vers. 34, 51). Unto them in parables. Taking the expression in the widest sense, "speaking in parables" began in the very earliest ages, when natural or spiritual truths were described under figures taken from everyday life, and continues until the present time, more especially among Eastern nations. Interesting examples of such a method of instruction are to be seen in the Haggadoth (which are frequently parabolic narratives) of the Talmuds and other Jewish works. But both myth (cf. Alford) and parabolic Haggada share the common danger of being misunderstood as narratives which are intended to be taken literally, while in the parable, in the narrower sense of the word, such a confusion is hardly possible. For the narrative then suggests, either by its introduction or its structure, that it is only the mirror by which a truth can be seen, and is not the truth itself. Such parables also, though seldom even approaching in beauty to our Lord's, are very frequent in Jewish writings, though they come but seldom in the Old Testament (Isaiah 28:23-29; 2 Samuel 12:1-6; 2 Samuel 14:6-11; 1 Kings 20:35-40; comp. also Isaiah 5:1-7 and Ezekiel 17:1-10, which are rather allegories; and Judges 9:7-15 and 2 Kings 14:9, which are fables). (On the distinction of parable in the narrower sense from fable, myth, proverb, allegory, see Alford and Trench.) Weiss ('Life,' 2:115) thinks that the most profound reason of all which the Lord had for employing parables was that he wished to show that the same regulations which hold good for the world round us and ourselves in relation to the world and each other, hold good also in the higher ethical and religious life. But at the most this can have been a very subsidiary motive with him. Saying, Behold, a sower. Observe that our Lord enters upon his parable at once (contrast ver. 24). He will attract attention. Mark's "Hear ye" would have forwarded this. A sower; literally, the sower, as the Revised Version; i.e. the sower of whom I am about to speak (cf. Driver on 1 Samuel 19:13; also Matthew 1:23; Matthew 12:43). Went forth. In the Greek this verb comes first, as though our Lord wished to call attention, not so much to the sower himself as to his action. To sow. (For the minute adherence to actual life throughout the whole of this parable, see by all means Thomson's 'Land and the Book,' p. 82, edit. 1887; Stanley's 'Sinai and Palestine,' pp. 425, sqq., edit. 1868.)
And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
Verse 4. - And when (as, Revised Version) he sowed, some seeds (α} μέν). Here (cf. vers. 5, 7, 8) the seeds are, so to speak, each singled out. But in the parallel passages they are viewed as one whole (ο{ μέν). Fell by the wayside. Along the road (παρὰ τὴν ὁδόν), which evidently was at no mere corner of the field, but ran for some distance by or through it. And the fowls (birds, Revised Version, as in modern English) came and devoured them up.
Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
Verse 5. - Some (and others, Revised Version) fell upon stony places; the rocky places (Revised Version). Where the underlying rock was hardly, if at all, covered by soil. Such spots would be common in the fields of Palestine, as in those of all mountainous countries. Where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprang up (ἐξανέτειλεν). They shot up quicker than the thorns in ver. 7 (ἀνέβησαν). Because they had no deepness of earth.
And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
Verse 6. - And when the sun was up (ἀνατείλαντος). It can hardly be accidental that the Greek suggests the contrast between the springing up of the seeds and of the sun's rays. They were scorched; and because they had not root, they withered away (cf. John 15:6).
And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
Verse 7. - And some fell among thorns; upon the thorns (Revised Version); which were sure to be close by (cf. Jeremiah 4:3). And the thorns sprang up (grew up, Revised Version, ἀνέβησαν), and choked them. Whether brambles or merely spinous weeds (on their abundance, see Tristram, 'Nat. Hist. of Bible,' p. 423, edit. 1889) are here referred to is not certain. Even the former might be comparatively low in sowing time, and only as they "grew up" cause serious injury to the wheat.
But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
Verse 8. - But other fell into (upon the, Revised Version) good ground, and brought forth (yielded, Revised Version, ἐδίδου); for effort is not implied. Contrast ἐποίησεν in Luke and Matthew 7:18, note. Fruit, some an hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold. In Mark the numbers increase. Is this due to a desire to avoid even the semblance of a contradiction to αὐξανόμενα, that there precedes? In Luke "hundredfold" alone comes, the difference that exists even in the good ground not being mentioned. (For hundredfold, comp. Genesis 26:12. Compare also the note on Luke 8:8 in this Commentary for instances of still greater production, and for the beautiful parabolic saying recorded by Papias' Elders (Iren., 5:33. 3).)
Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Verse 9. - Who hath ears to hear (Revised Version omits to hear), let him hear. So in all the accounts. Observe that it is not only a call to understand the parable, but is in itself a summary of the chief lesson of the parable. (On the phrase, see Matthew 11:15, note.)
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
Verses 10-17. - The reason why Christ spoke to the multitudes in parables. The question of the disciples (ver. 10). Christ's antithesis - You are the recipients of God's gift; they are not (ver. 11). This is not arbitrary, but in accordance with a universal law (ver. 12). They have not been using their faculties, and therefore they are thus judged, in accordance with the words of Isaiah (vers. 13-15). The privilege of the disciples further insisted upon (vers. 16, 17). Verse 10. - Matthew alone in this form. In Luke the disciples asked our Lord what the parable was; in Mark, more generally, they "asked of him the parables." Whether the question as given by St. Matthew was actually spoken by the disciples or not, the Lord's answer, the substance of which is the same in all three accounts, suggests that it at least represents their thoughts. St. Matthew probably wishes to bring out with special clearness, by his version of their words, the point of our Lord's reply. And the disciples. Including more than the twelve; so Mark, "They that were about him with the twelve" (cf. Matthew 5:1, note) Came. Presumably some little time afterwards, for he must have left the boat (ver. 2). And said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? Them; i.e. those outside the circle of Christ's followers (οἱ ἔξω, Mark). For the general meaning of our Lord's reply to this question, see the remarks at the beginning of this chapter. Other questions about our Lord's reasons for what he did are to be found in Matthew 9:11, 14; Matthew 15:2; Matthew 17:19; Matthew 26:8 (cf. also Matthew 12:2 with Luke 6:2).
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
Verse 11. - He answered and said unto them, Because. Omit because, with the Revised Version. The ὅτι is merely recitative. In this verse our Lord does not directly reply to their question, but only states God's ways of dealing with the two different classes of people (cf. Matthew 11:25, note). It is given unto you (unto you it is given, Revised Version); which better represents the sharpness of the antithesis in the Greek. It is given; already (δέδοται), i.e. in the counsel of God, though now given in possession, so far as regards this parable, by the explanation that I will add. To know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. The secrets about the establishment and development of God's realm, which cannot be discovered by human reason, but which are made known to the initiated. Under the term "mystery," St. Paul refers to such revealed secrets as the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:3, 4, 9; Colossians 1:26), the conversion of the Jews (Romans 11:25), the relation of Christ to the Church being like that of husband and wife (Ephesians 5:32), and the general resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51). (Cf. Matthew 11:25, note, "revealed;" and infra, ver. 35, note, and especially Bishop Lightfoot on the passage in Colossians.) But to them it is not given. Professor Marshall suggests that the variation "the rest" (Luke), points to a slight difference in one word of the original Aramaic text, the phrase in Mark ("them that are without") combining both readings (see Expositor IV. 4:446). The suggestion is ingenious, but seems hardly necessary.
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
Verse 12. - Matthew only in this context, but found in the parallel passages shortly after the explanation of this parable - Mark 4:25; Luke 8:18. The same saying is found in Matthew 25:29 (the talents) and Luke 19:26 (the pounds). For. The reason of God's action spoken of in the preceding verse. It is based on the following principle. Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance. The last phrase (Matthew only) is probably dub to a reminiscence of the form in which the saying was uttered at a much later period in our Lord's ministry, where it arises naturally out of the parable (Matthew 25:29). But whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. A paradox. What he already possesses, if it is so small as to be not worth speaking of, shall be lost to him. Luke's "thinketh he hath" calls attention to the superficial character of the man's mind. The unfit ground loses the seed it receives (cf. the remarks at the beginning of this chapter).
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
Verse 13. - Therefore (διὰ τοῦτο). To carry out the principle of the whole preceding verse, but with special reference to the second half of it. Because, in this case, they "have not," therefore I speak to them thus. Speak I to them in parables because. In the parallel passages Christ says that he speaks in parables "in order that seeing," etc.; but here, "because seeing," etc. The difference of the thought, which is more formal than real, is that

(1) in the parallel passages their moral blindness and deafness are represented as the effect of what he says, parables being used to bring about the punishment for what was presumably earlier sloth (thus laying stress on the idea of "shall be taken away "in our ver. 12; cf. "that they which see not may be made blind," John 9:39; and Bishop Westcott's note).

(2) In Matthew their present moral blindness and deafness are represented as the reason for the use of parables. Parables are themselves the punishment; the people are fit for nothing else (thus laying stress on the "has not" of ver. 12); therefore Christ speaks to them in parables. They seeing see not (seeing they see not, Revised Version, keeping the order of the Greek, as even the Authorized Version in the next clause); and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. The participles "seeing," "hearing," in Matthew and Luke, probably do not represent the Hebrew infinitive in its common usage of giving intensity or continuance to the idea of the finite verb to which it is joined (so in the original passage of Isaiah, and perhaps in Mark; compare also "seeing" in the next verse), but are to be taken separately, i.e." Though they have powers of seeing and of hearing, they nevertheless do not so use these powers as to see and hear" (for the thought, cf. Jeremiah 5:21; Ezekiel 12:2). Thus in meaning, though not in form, as compared with the next verse, seeing is equivalent to "seeing ye shall see;" they see not, to "and shall in no wise perceive;" hearing, to "hearing ye shall hear;" they hear not, to "and shall in no wise understand."
And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
Verse 14. - And in them; and unto them (Revised Version); i.e. with reference to them (cf. Jude 1:14). Is fulfilled. Completely (ἀναπληροῦται; cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:16). The present, because the process is still going on. The prophecy of Esaias, which saith (Isaiah 6:9, 10). Not quoted in this form in the parallel passages; for Mark 4:12 and Luke 8:10 are really nearer our ver. 13. The quotation is taken verbally from the LXX., and so in Acts 28:26, 27. But John 12:40, on the contrary, is nearer the Hebrew. By hearing ye shall hear (ἀκοῇ ἀκούσετε). A too literal translation of the Greek attempt to reproduce the Hebrew idiom, which is rather "hear ye indeed" as a continued action (שמעו שמוע). And shall not understand (Matthew 11:25, note); and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive. You may gaze at the object, but you shall not really see it. So with the bodily eye, an image may be formed in the retina, yet no impression conveyed to the brain.
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Verse 15. - For this people's heart is waxed gross. There are two ways of understanding this verse as it comes here.

(1) It states the reason why God pronounced the judgment of ver. 14. The people's heart had already become fat, lest (μή ποτε will then express the effect from the Divine point of view) they should see, etc.

(2) It merely enlarges the statement of ver. 14, expanding its meaning (for this force of γάρ, cf. Mark 2:15; Luke 18:32): their heart is waxed fat (by God's judgment for preceding sins), lest they should see, etc. This second explanation is preferable, for it alone suits the imperative found in the Hebrew (cf. the transitive verbs in John 12:40), and is strictly parallel to the introductory vers. 11-13, which do not dwell upon the causes of God's judgment. And their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest at any time (Matthew 4:6, note) they should see; perceive (Revised Version) - to recall the same word in ver. 14. With their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart. Bengel calls attention to the order; first came heart, ears, eyes; here, eyes, ears, heart. "A corde corruptio manat in aures et oculos: per oculos et aures sanitas pervenit ad cor." And should be converted; and should turn again (Revised Version, ἐπιστρέψωσι); for "to be converted" has acquired too technical a meaning. And I should heal them (καὶ ἰάσομαι αὐτούς). The verb is still dependent on the lest (cf. Matthew 5:25; Matthew 7:6), but the future brings out the certainty of God's healing them on their turning, etc.
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
Verses 16, 17. - Parallel passage: Luke 10:23, 24, after the return of the seventy, and immediately following our Matthew 11:25, 27. The verses stand there, that is to say, in close connexion with the other great utterance contrasting God's revelation of spiritual things to some and his hiding them from others. Possibly he spoke the verses only once (cf. the repetitions in the Prophets), but, in view of the frequency with which Christ's utterances are placed out of their original connexion, the assumption should be the other way. If he really only spoke them once, we cannot be sure which the occasion was, but the possibility that they do not properly belong here is increased by the doubt whether also ver. 12 was originally spoken now. Verse 16. - But blessed (Matthew 5:3, note) are your eyes. Christ now returns to emphasize ver. 11a. For they see (ὅτι βλέπουσιν). This may refer to the disciples being able to see spiritual truths before God's special grace given them by way of reward to this effect, but this hardly suits the context from the phrase, "it is given" (ver. 12). It is, therefore, better to understand the verse to refer to their seeing and hearing things by virtue of grace given in reward for earlier faithfulness. Edersheim ('Life,' 1:594) gives a striking illustration of the thought of this verse from the 'Pesiqta' (edit. Buber, p. 149).
For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
Verse 17. - For verily (Matthew 5:18, note). Not in the parallel passage; it is much more common in Matthew than Luke. Our Lord contrasts his disciples' "blessedness" not only with the state of their contemporaries, but with that of their predecessors in faith. I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men. Those who were specially favoured with insight into God's methods, and those who approached most closely to his standard of righteousness. Righteous men; "kings" in Luke. St. Luke's readers would probably not appreciate the force of the term, "righteous men." to the same degree that St. Matthew's would. Have desired (ἐπεθύμησαν). By reading ἐπεθύμησα, this saying has been attributed to Christ (see Bishop Westcott, 'Introd.,' App. C.; Resch, 'Agrapha,' p. 397). To see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them (cf. Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 1:10-12).
Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
Verses 18-23. - The explanation of the parable of the sower. Parallel passages: Mark 4:13-20; Luke 8:11-15. Observe that after the preceding verses St. Matthew's readers would the more easily catch the lesson of the parable. Verse 18. - Matthew only. Hear ye therefore; Revised Version, hear ye then, which leaves more room for the rightful emphasis on ye (ὑμεῖς) than the Authorized Version, but hardly gives the full force of οϋν (therefore), i.e. in accordance with the privileges that have been given you. The parable of the sower.
When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
Verse 19. - When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not. Understandeth. The form of the explanation here is influenced by the language of vers. 14, 15. Then (not in the Greek) cometh the wicked one; the evil one (Revised Version); Matthew 6:13, note. And catcheth (snatcheth, Revised Version) away - seizeth for himself (ἁρπάζει, Matthew 11:12, note) - that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed. That was sown (Revised Version, ὁ σπαρείς). And so throughout. The masculine is not merely concise, but also expresses the fact that, as even with land, the man who receives the seed does not put forth in turn merely the seed as something alien, but rather himself so far as he is influenced by the seed; or (regarding the subject from another point of view) he puts forth the new life and energy of the seed as conditioned by that which makes up himself.
But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
Verse 20. - And anon; and straightway (Revised Version, καὶ εὐθύς).
Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Verse 21. - But dureth for a while (ἀλλὰ πρόσκαιρός ἐστιν). Luke's οἱ πρὸς καιρὸν πιστεύουσιν, is an evidently later form. (For the thought, cf. John 5:35.) By and by; straightway (Revised Version, εὐθύς). He is offended (Matthew 5:29, note).
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
Verse 22. - And the care (ἡ μέριμνα); Matthew 6:25, note. Of this world (of the world, Revised Version, τοῦ αἰῶνος, omitting the τούτου of the Received Text). (For αἰών ["age," Revised Version margin], cf. Matthew 12:32, note.) Choke the word. Which is no unchanging thing, but is always affected for good or evil, however great progress it has made.
But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Verse 23. - Which also; who verily (Revised Version, ο{ς δή), the particle giving exactness, to the relative (see Dr. Moulton's note at the end of Winer, § 53). Some; ο{ μεν (Westcott and Hort). Neuter, and so the Vulgate. Nominative, the thought refers to the seed as such (cf. ver. 8). An hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty. "100 longius absunt a 60, quam 60 a 30. Habenti dabitur" (Bengel). The reason of the difference in the produce of the good ground is not stated, but, according to the tenor of the whole passage since ver. 3. this lay in a difference already existing within this good ground. Into the question of the ultimate cause of some men being in a better state of preparedness to receive Divine truths than others, our Lord does not enter. Prevenient grace is not always to be insisted upon in practical exhortation.
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
Verses 24-30 - The parable of the tares. Matthew only. The parable of the sower dealt with the first reception of the gospel; this deals with the after-development. The aim of this parable is to prevent over-sanguine expectations as to the purity of the society of believers, and to hinder rash attempts to purify it by merely external processes. Archbishop Benson ('Dict. of Christian Biogr.,' 1:745) calls attention to the fact that the first extant exposition of this parable is in Cyprian's successful appeal to the Novatianists not to separate from the Church (Ep. 54.). The aim of the somewhat similar parable in Mark 4:26-29 is to show the slowness and gradualness of the growth of the kingdom of heaven, and also the certainty of its consummation. So many words and phrases in the two parables are identical, that the possibility of one being derived from the other, either by omission or addition, must be acknowledged, but the definiteness of the aim in each points rather to their being originally two distinct parables. The divisions of the parable are -

(1) The fact of tares being present as well as good seed, and its cause (vers. 24-28a).

(2) Although there is the natural desire to gather out the tares at once, yet, on account of the impossibility of doing so without destroying some of the good seed, this must not be attempted. At the proper time full separation shall be made by the proper agents (vers. 28b-30). Verse 24. - Another parable put he forth unto them; set he before them (Revised Version, παρέθηκεν αὐτοῖς); so also ver. 31. (cf. also Exodus 19:7; Acts 17:3). Elsewhere it is often used of setting food before any one; e.g. Mark 6:41; Mark 8:6; Luke 11:6; Acts 16:34. Them. The people (vers. 3, 10, 34). Saying, The kingdom of heaven. The principles of its establishment and full development. Is likened unto (ὡμοιώθη). The aorist regards the moment in our Lord's mind in which he made the comparison. Observe that the verb is transitional; in ver. 3 our Lord began his parable without any introduction, so that he might attract attention; here he says that he gives an illustration of the kingdom of heaven; but in the later parables of this discourse (vers. 31, 33, 44, 45, 47; cf. 52) he is able merely to say that the kingdom of heaven is, in its principles, etc., absolutely like (ὁμοῖα ἐστίν). A man which sowed. Explained as "the Son of man" in ver. 37. Good seed; "the sons of the kingdom" (ver. 38); i.e. the seed represents, not good or bad doctrine as such, but persons. In his field; "the world" (ver. 37). Not exactly the Church, i.e. the Church upon earth, but the world so far as it is the sphere of the Church's missionary activity, even the physical world so far as it becomes the scene of Divine sowing of the gospel.
But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
Verse 25. - But while men slept. Not in the explanation. If more than merely a part of the necessary framework of the story, it points to the secrecy with which the devil works. His enemy came. This form of malice is still well known in the East (cf. Exell's 'Biblical Illustrator,' in loc.). And sowed. Sowed over or in (ἐπέσπειρεν). Tares; i.e. bearded darnel, Lolium temulentum, "a kind of rye grass, and the only species of the grass family the seeds of which are poisonous. The derivation of zauan [ζιζάνια] is from zan, 'vomiting,' the effect of eating darnel being to produce violent nausea, convulsions, and diarrhoea, which frequently ends in death" (Tristram, 'Nat. Hist. of Bible,' p. 487, edit. 1889). Among the wheat, and went his way; went away (Revised Version, ἀπῆλθεν).
But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
Verse 26. - But when the blade was sprung up (ἐβλάστησεν ὁ χόρτος: cf. Mark 4:27), and brought forth fruit. Observe that there is no thought of the tares injuring the wheat (contrast vers. 7, 22). Then appeared the tares also.
So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
Verse 27. - So; and (Revised Version, δέ). The servants of the householder came. The explanation (ver. 38) does not say who are represented by these; they must be really identical with some of the wheat, yet since they are spoken of as though they are also the agents of the Sower, they must represent the more active, and especially the ministerial, members of the kingdom. Is it a mere coincidence that historically the clergy have shown themselves always the most eager advocates of the policy of rooting up the tares? And said unto him: Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? Thy. For the knowledge that the world belongs to God, and is under his governance and care, makes the question so much the more serious to the servants.
He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
Verse 28. - He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. An enemy (ἔχθρος ἄνθρωπος). Not "my enemy," referring to some one person, for in real life a man can seldom be at once sure, without inquiry, who it is that has injured him secretly. There are so many coincidences in this verse and ver. 39 (ἔχθρος ἄνθρωπος τοῦτο ἐποίησεν, [Ἁμάν] πονηρὸς [οῦτος], ὁ διάβολος) with the LXX. of Esther 7:4-6, that it would almost seem as though the evangelist remembered that passage. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? Omit up (συλλέξωμεν); the servants, in their zeal to separate the tares from the wheat, forget the difficulty connected with pulling them up.
But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
Verse 29. - But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Wetstein, on ver. 39, quotes an interesting parallel spoken by R. Joshua ben Korcha (Talm. Bah., 'Baba Metzia,' 83b).
Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Verse 30. - To the reapers. Not all my servants, but they to whom such work belongs (cf. Goebel); i.e. the angels (ver. 39). Gather ye together; gather up (Revised Version), because the same word (συλλέγειν) is employed as in ver. 28. This command belongs to the time after the field is reaped. First the tares. The tares are to be separated and gathered together before the wheat is garnered. And hind them in bundles to burn them: but gather (συνάγετε). This word regards rather the destination, συλλέγειν the operation. The wheat into my barn (Matthew 3:12, notes).
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
Verses 31, 32. - The parable of the mustard seed. Parallel passages: Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18, 19. The central thought of the parable is the growth of the kingdom of heaven considered externally. Although it has small beginnings, it is to have a marvellous expansion, so that even those who naturally are outside it are glad to avail themselves of its protection. Observe that we have no right to limit its growth either to the reputation of its principles alone or to the power of its organization; both are included. Regarded as a prophecy, the parable is partially fulfilled every time that a heathen nation places itself under the protection of a Christian nation, and more truly fulfilled whenever a nation accepts Christianity as its own religion. It is parodied when a nation or a collection of nations submits its political freedom to the dictates of claimants to spiritual superiority, whether these claim to have received such superiority as an inheritance from the past, or to have acquired it in the present. Verse 31. - Another parable put he forth unto them (ver. 24, note), saying, The kingdom of heaven is like unto (ver. 24, note; also Matthew 11:16, note) a grain of mustard seed. "The Common Mustard of Palestine is Sinapis nigra, of the order Cruciferae, the Black Mustard, which is found abundantly in a wild state, and is also cultivated in the gardens for its seed. It is the same as our own Mustard, but grows especially in the richer soils of the Jordan valley to a much greater size than in this country. We noticed its great height on the banks of the Jordan, as have several other travellers; and Dr. Thomson remarks that in the Plain of Acre he has seen it as tall as a horse and its rider" (Tristram, 'Nat. Hist. of Bible,' p. 472, edit. 1889). Which a man took. The insertion of λαβών is probably to exclude the idea of a chance sowing. True that the seed might, under certain circumstances, then grow as well, but the reality which is being described was the result of long and deliberate purpose (Titus 1:3; 1 Peter 1:20). And sowed in his field. "His garden" (Luke) suggests a piece of ground that was at once smaller and more cared for.
Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
Verse 32. - Which indeed is the least of (is less than, Revised Version) all seeds; i.e. all those ordinarily sown in Palestine then. Instances of the proverbial use in the Talmuds of the size of a grain of mustard to express something very small, may be seen in Levy, s.v. חרדל. But when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs; it is greater than the herbs (Revised Version); i.e. than those which are usually called λάχανα. And becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air. There is not necessarily any connotation of evil about these (cf. vers. 4, 19); the thought is simply that those who are naturally outsiders are glad to come under cover of this tree. Compare, for both thought and language, Daniel's description of the empire of Babylon (Daniel 4:12, 21), and Ezekiel's prophecy of the kingdom of Judah (Ezekiel 17:23). Come and lodge in the branches thereof. Lodge (κατασκηνοῖν); Matthew 8:20, note. In Palestine the goldfinches and linnets settle on the mustard in flocks (Tristram, 'Nat. Hist. of Bible,' p. 473, edit. 1889).
Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Verse 33. - The parable of the leaven. Parallel passage: Luke 13:20, 21. The growth of the kingdom regarded in its quiet and secret influence. This is to be ultimately complete and universal. The prophecy is partially fulfilled with every fresh recognition of Christian principles in public opinion, or customs, or laws. For "every thought" shall be brought "captive unto the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven. This is the only passage where leaven is spoken of with reference to its permeating qualities alone, without any trace of the notion of defilement, which the Paschal and other regulations (Exodus 12:15, 18; Exodus 23:15, 18; Leviticus 2:11) so readily suggested. Even in 1 Corinthians 5:6 and Galatians 5:9 this connotation of evil is not altogether absent. In Talm. Bab., 'Berach.,' 17a, it is used as a figure of the "evil impulse" within us. Hence some have interpreted it in a similar sense here, and have understood our Lord to be referring to the spread of worldliness in the Church (especially after the conversion of Constantine); but

(1) this is opposed to the prima facie meaning;

(2) it is unreasonable to insist that a symbol must always have the same connotation;

(3) it is opposed to the idea of deliberate purpose underlying the action of the woman;

(4) the closing words would cast too awful a shadow - they would mean that Christianity fails. Which a woman took (ver. 31, note), and hid. The woman probably belongs entirely to the framework of the parable (cf. Luke 15:4, 8). For the work described is always, in normal societies, performed by women. Of other interpretations that which sees in her the Church as the agent by whom the kingdom of God is wrought into the world is the best. In three measures of meal; i.e. an ephah. This appears to have been a convenient quantity (about a peck) for kneading at one time (Genesis 18:6; Judges 6:19). Until the whole was leavened; literally, until it was leavened, even the whole of it (ἕως οῦ ἐζυμώθη ὅλον). While our Lord thus promises that the permeating influence of the kingdom of heaven shall at last be entirely successful, it is unfair to so press the parable as to deduce from it that the world as such will continue to be gradually and continuously improved up to the Lord's return. It may be so (contrast, however, Luke 18:8), but even direct prophecy, and still more parable, frequently regards the ultimate result, and passes over the intermediate stages.
All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:
Verses 34, 35. - The parallel passage in Mark 4:33, 34 is as follows: "And with many such parables spoke he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it; and without a parable spoke he not unto them: but privately to his own disciples he expounded all things." The same general idea underlies our present verses, but although each evangelist appears to have used the same words as a basis, he has worked them out in his own characteristic way. For while both writers contrast our Lord's treatment of the multitudes and his treatment of the disciples in the matter of parables, St. Mark barely alludes to his using them as a judicial punishment upon the people, and St. Matthew merely hints here at the fact that Christ explained them to his disciples (see further, ver. 35b, note). It will be noticed that our verses have much in common with the thought of ver. 10, sqq. It seems just possible that both paragraphs had one common nucleus from which they were each developed. But according to existing evidence, ver. 10, sqq., and the parallel passages in Mark and Luke serve to introduce explanatory matter to the disciples, and our present verses with the parallel in Mark to close a series of parables. Verse 34 - All these things (ταῦτα πάντα). All seems to imply that the four preceding parables are but a few typical ones taken from a larger collection (cf. Mark, "with many such parables;" also vers. 3, 51). Spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; in parables unto the multitudes (Revised Version); for the order of the Greek is the same as in the next clause. Observe the "parallelism" of the two clauses (contrast Mark). Is it due to the influence of Hebrew Christians? And without a parable spake he not (nothing, Revised Version, ebony) unto them, As happens often in Semitic writers (cf. St. John's Gospel), the thought of the preceding clause is now expressed negatively, and yet a fresh thought is added, namely, that he spake in parables alone. Nothing (Revised Version); i.e. under these circumstances, when large crowds of Galilaeans were listening to him. Spake (ἐλάλει: contrast ἐλάλησεν before); i.e. during this period.
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.
Verse 35. - That it might be fulfilled (Matthew 1:22, note) which was spoken by (through, Revised Version; Matthew 1:22, note) the prophet; rather, Isaiah the prophet, according to the margin of Westcott and Hort, on the evidence of the original hand of the Sinaitic and a few cursive manuscripts, the Rushworth Latin Gospels, a manuscript of the AEthiopic Version, the Clementine Homilies, Porphyry as quoted by Jerome, and remarks by Eusebius. Dr. Herr ('Appendix') writes, "It is difficult not to think Ἠσαίου genuine. There was a strong temptation to omit it (cf. 27:9; Mc. Mark 1:2); and, though its insertion might be accounted for by an impulse to supply the name of the best known prophet, the evidence of the actual operation of such an impulse is much more trifling than might have been anticipated .... The erroneous introduction of Isaiah's name is limited to two passages, and in each case to a single Latin manuscript." If it be genuine, it is a parallel case to the reading "Jeremiah" instead of "Zechariah" in Matthew 27:9, for which no satisfactory explanation has yet been suggested. A simple error of memory (cf. Alford) on the part of one who shows himself so well acquainted with Hebrew customs and modes of thought as our evangelist does, is perhaps the most improbable of all solutions. Possibly, just as there were summaries of legal maxims current in our Lord's time (cf. Matthew 5:21, note), so there were in Hebrew-Christian circles well known sets of quotations from the Old Testament, which were not expressly divided one from another (cf. Romans 3:10-18), and which were ferreted to under the name of the author of the best known passage. (Observe that this would distinguish these summaries from liturgical quotations.) Thus Zechariah's mention of the potter (Zechariah 11:13) was placed in connexion with Jeremiah's visit to the potter's house, and with his warning of the possible rejection of Israel (Jeremiah 18:1-6; cf. 19:1-11); cf. further Pusey's remarks on the passage in Zechariah, and Psalm 78:2 (or perhaps 1-3), where Israel is bid listen to the lessons derived from their ancestors' behaviour, with the warning in Isaiah 6:9, 10 (cf. our vers. 34, 35 with ver. 14). We have an example of a similar connexion of passages in Mark 1:2, 3, where Malachi 3:1 is closely joined to Isaiah 40:3. Observe that if St. Mark had copied his source (ex hypothesi) to the end of the quotation from Malachi, and for some reason omitted the next quotation, he might very easily have still retained the name "Isaiah" with which he introduces his double quotation. Had he done so, we should have had another parallel to our present verse and Matthew 27:9. The prophet. If "Isaiah" be not genuine, this refers to "Asaph the seer" (2 Chronicles 29:30), who was the recognized author of the psalm. So David is called "a prophet" in Acts 2:30. Saying, I will open my mouth (Matthew 5:2, note) in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. From Psalm 78:1, 2. The first clause of the quotation is verbally the same as the LXX., and fairly represents the meaning of the original (אפתחה במשל פי). The second clause is different from the LXX., the first verb being a literal translation from the Hebrew, and the rest a paraphrase. I will utter (ἐρεύξομαι: אביעה): so the LXX. in Psalm 19:2; and cf. Psalm 119:171; Psalm 145:7. Things which have been kept secret (κεκρυμμένα); but the Hebrew is חידות, i.e. "enigmatical sayings." From the foundation of the world. Ἀπὸ καταβολῆς, for κόσμου of the Received Text must be omitted. But the Hebrew מני קדם (i.e. "from of old") hardly, in the context of the psalm, refers further back than the be ginning of the national history of Israel, when the Israelites came out of Egypt. "Asaph... here recounts to the people their history from that Egyptaeo-Sinaitic age of yore to which Israel's national indepen dence and specific position in relation to the rest of the world goes back He will set forth the history of the fathers after the manner of a parable and riddle, so that it may become as a parable, i.e. a didactic history, and its events as marks of interrogation and nota benes to the present age" (Delitzsch). What, however, is the exact connexion of thought in the gospel between the passage as it stands, and its context? The first clause evidently corresponds in meaning to ver. 34; Christ fulfils in a fresh sense the expression of the psalmist by speaking in parables (vide infra). But the second clause brings in a different thought, not found, save very indirectly, in ver. 34, namely, that Christ utters things that be fore were always hidden. What does the evangelist mean by this second clause?

(1) Truths never before revealed have now been revealed by Christ's parables, especially by those two which have just been related. For in these it has been affirmed that outsiders, i.e. those belonging to other nations than the Jewish nation, shall seek the protection of the kingdom of heaven, and also that the whole world, including, therefore, these Gentile nations, shall become permeated with its principles. It may well be thought that the clause refers to the announcement of these great truths.

(2) This interpretation, however, if taken alone, is not enough. For the evangelist is not speaking of Christ revealing truths to men generally. On the contrary, he says that Christ does not reveal them to the multi tudes, but to his disciples (cf. ver. 10, sqq.) - a contrast which the emphatic language of ver. 34 (τοῖς ὄχλοις αὐτοῖς) would probably suggest, even though it is not expressly mentioned. It is, therefore, likely that it was this latter fact to which the evangelist specially wished to refer by his quotation of the second clause. Hence, to make his meaning clearer, he has modified its language. As he quotes it, not merely "enigmatical sayings," but "things hidden" (and that from the foundation of the world) are uttered by Christ; but these are now no longer "hidden" to those to whom he speaks them. This complete meaning of the clause - revelation to his disciples of truths before hidden - corresponds to the idea of μυστήριον in ver. 11 (where see note) and in St. Paul (cf. especially Romans 16:25), and is merely another side of St. Mark's phrase, "Privately to his own disciples he expounded all things" (cf. supra, vers. 16, 17). It is also possible that κεκρυμμένα, which is not merely negative, so as to mean "unrevealed," but implies a positive concealment, includes a reference to the thought of ἔκρυψας in Matthew 11:25, that God purposely hid these truths from those who were morally unfit to receive them. These, indeed, belonged in general to the times before Christ came, but also "the multitudes" came under this category. If it be asked - What is the relation of the quotation in its context here to the verse in its original context? the easiest answer is that it is only superficial, that the "accidental" employment by the psalmist of the word "parable" was the only reason why the evangelist made the quotation. Yet it may not be quite so; for there was a real similarity between the psalmist teaching his contemporaries by history and Christ teaching his contemporaries by truths couched in narrative form. May we not go even further, and say that in both cases the message was, generally speaking, refused, though in both a remnant of those who heard it were saved (cf also Isaiah 6:9-13; vide supra)?
Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.
Verses 36-52. - Christ alone with his disciples. He explains to them at their request the parable of the tares (vers. 36-43), and adds three parables - the treasure, the pearl, the dragnet - the first two calculated to urge them to full renunciation of everything for Christ, the third to save them from presumption (vers. 44-50). Upon their acknowledging progress in spiritual understanding, he shows them further possibilities (vers. 51, 52). Verses 36-43. - The explanation of the parable of the tares of the field. Verse 36. - Then Jesus sent the multitude away; then he left the multitudes (Revised Version, ἀφείς); cf. Matthew 26:44. And went into the house (ver. 1, note): and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare; explain (Revised Version, διασάφησον); i.e. make it thoroughly clear. The verb is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in Matthew 18:31, where the thought is that the man's fellow servants brought his behaviour fully before their lord's knowledge (cf. also 2 Macc. 1:18). As compared with φράσον (Received Text, and Matthew 15:15), it leaves room for the disciples having already partially understood it. Unto us the parable of the tares of the field. The addition, "of the field," indicates the point of the parable, considered even as a mere story, that the tares grew in no chance place, but in a piece of cultivated ground already allotted to other produce.
He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
Verse 37. - He answered and said unto them. In the following reply of our Lord (vers. 37-43) observe the change of style at ver. 40. Until then we have pithy, concise sentences all joined by the simple copula δέ, which can hardly be anything else than literal translations of the Lord's own phrases. But vers. 40-43 are in the usual style of this Gospel. The Son of man (Matthew 8:20, note).
The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
Verse 38. - The children of the kingdom; the sons, etc. (Revised Version); Matthew 5:9, note. The tares are the children of the wicked one; of the evil one (Revised Version); cf. Matthew 6:13, note. (On the bearing that the evidence of the Old Syriac and the Old Latin versions here has on the masculine interpretation there, see Chase, 'Lord's Prayer,' etc., pp. 155, 159, sqq.)
The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
Verse 39. - The enemy that sowed them (ὁ σπείρας); contrast ver. 37 (ὁ σπείρων τὸ καλὸν σπέρμα). Ver. 37 states what is ever true; ver. 39 merely refers back to the enemy spoken of in the parable. Is the devil (Matthew 4:1, note). (For the thought of this and the preceding clause, see John 8:44; 1 John 3:8, 10.) The harvest is the end of the world; literally, as the margin of the Revised Version, the consummation of the age (συντέλεια αἰῶνος); when the present age shall have received its completion, and the more glorious one be ushered in (cf. Matthew 12:32, note). And the reapers are the angels; are angels (Revised Version). But it is exactly parallel to the preceding predicate, and if the insertion of our English idiomatic "the" fails to lay the stress which the Greek has on the fact that the reapers are such beings as angels (as contrasted with human workers, Matthew 9:37, 38), its omission adds a thought which the Greek was probably not intended to convey - that the reapers would be only some among the angels.
As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
Verse 40. - As therefore. Observe that in vers. 40-43 our Lord dwells at much greater length on the details of the reapers' work than on the preceding stages of the parable. lie wishes to draw special attention to the fact that the tares will, without any doubt, be one day separated, and the wheat appear in full splendour. The tares are gathered and burned in the fire - burned with fire (Revised Version); cf. Matthew 3:10, note - so shall it be in the end of this world (ver. 39, note).
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
Verse 41. - The Son of man. Observe how expressly Christ identifies the Sower with the Lord of the angels. Shall send forth (ἀποστελεῖ) - as his representatives (Matthew 10:2, note) - his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom - though they are now there - all things that offend, and them which do iniquity (πάντα τὰ σκάνδαλα καὶ τοῦς ποιοῦντας τὴν ἀνομιάν); all things that offend (that cause stumbling, Revised Version); Matthew 5:29, note. In itself it would naturally be understood of persons, in accordance with the meaning of "tares." But what is its relation to the following clause, for this latter cannot be merely tautological? There are two answers:

(a) The two phrases bring out different aspects under which the persons are regarded. They, as "sons of the evil one," are both stumbling blocks to others ("the sons of the kingdom"), and also active workers of lawlessness (vide infra). They sin against men (cf. Matthew 24:24b) and against God.

(b) The first term regards not so much them as their actions - their scandalous acts (Goebel); the second, the persons themselves. The former of the two answers seems preferable, as keeping closer to the parable. It also agrees with the personal use of σκάνδαλον in Matthew 16:23, and the use of αὐτούς alone in the next clause. With respect to the whole phrase, observe:

(1) It is taken partly from Zephaniah 1:3 (Hebrew), "I will consume [the verb אָסֵפ would readily lend itself to the interpretation 'gather']... the stumbling blocks with the wicked (המכשלות את־הרשעים... אספ)."

(2) Yet, as it stands, it is taken partly also from Psalm 37:1, for the Greek of them that do iniquity is the same as in the LXX. there. Besides, the context (comp. Kirkpatrick) is not dissimilar; it is that the righteous should not be envious at the prosperity of the wicked, for it is only transitory, "They shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb."

(3) The phrase, them which do iniquity (rather, lawlessness; Matthew 7:23, note), looks as though St. Paul's teaching of "the man of sin" (ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἀνομίας: Westcott and Hort, in 2 Thessalonians 2:3; cf. 7, 8) might have some basis in the direct teaching of the Lord (cf. ver. 43, note; and on this question generally, Chase, 'The Lord's Prayer,' etc., p. 19).

(4) Ephraem Syrus, evidently quoting this passage, but in the form in which, presumably, it existed in the 'Diatessaron,' deduces from it that the earth will be the abode of the glorified saints: "Quod autem dicit: Mandabit domum regni sui ab omni scandalo, intellige de terra et rebus creatis, quas renovabit, ibique justos suos collocabit" (Resch, 'Agrapha,' p. 295).
And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Verse 42. - And shall cast them into a (the, Revised Version) furnace of fire: there shall be (the, Revised Version) wailing and gnashing of teeth. Judging by the analogy of ver. 50, even the first clause is not necessarily due to the image of the tares. The furnace of fire was no unknown expression for the punishment of the wicked (cf. also Matthew 8:12, note).
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Verse 43. - Then shall the righteous. For with these also their character is seen in their lives (Matthew 5:45, note). Shine forth as the sun. An undoubted reference to the substance of Daniel 12:3. Observe that according to the thought of the parable, it is suggested that the likeness consists not only in the brightness of the sun in itself, but also in its being alone in the sky, with nothing round it to prevent its full glory being seen. Then. The chief lesson of the parable; not before, but at, that time. In the kingdom of their Father. In ver. 38 they were spoken of as "the sons of the kingdom;" here their Father is expressly mentioned, not "the Son of man" (vers. 37, 41). The same reference to his Father rather than to himself is found in Matthew 26:29. Did our Lord wish already to hint that "then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father" (1 Corinthians 15:24)? Had St. Paul's teaching also here a direct connexion with that of our Lord (ver. 41, note)? Who hath ears to hear, let him hear (ver. 9, note).
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Verse 44. - The parable of the hidden treasure found. Matthew only. It seems probable, from ver. 51, that this and the next two parables were spoken to the disciples in private. They alone would appreciate the value of what they had found; to them alone could the warning be as yet given, that it is not sufficient to have been gathered within the gospel net. Observe in this parable that the treasure was found by chance, and it was near to the man without his knowing it. Again. To be omitted, with the Revised Version and Westcott and Hort. Its absence (contrast vers. 45, 47) suggests that this parable is the first of a group, marked as such either by our Lord beginning with it after he had made a pause, or by merely coming first in one of the sources that the evangelist used. The kingdom of heaven (ver. 24, note) is like unto treasure hid in a field (cf. Proverbs 2:4). Hid (hidden, Revised Version, κεκρυμμένῳ). It was not there by accident; it had been purposely placed there, hid by its former possessor for safety (Matthew 25:18, 25). Observe that, doubtless unintentionally on the part of the evangelist, the parable forms in this respect the complement to ver. 35b. In a field (ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ); in the field (Revised Version); cf. Matthew 1:23, note. The which when a man hath found, he hideth; which a man found, and hid (Revised Version). For fear some one else should take it. Premature assertion would lose the man the treasure. (For a similar truth in spiritual things, cf. Galatians 1:17.) And for joy thereof. So also the margin of the Revised Version; but and in his joy (Revised Version) is better (καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς χαρᾶς αὐτοῦ). Goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Goeth... selleth... buyeth. All in the present tense. Our Lord in this parable (contrast ver. 46) brings the man vividly before us in each separate stage of his action. For the self-denial that is a necessary of acquiring gospel privileges, comp. Matthew 19:21 (where contrast the young man's grief with the joy spoken of here). Field. Observe that, though the figure is the same as in ver. 24, the thing signified is very different. Here field represents merely that which contains the treasure, perhaps the outward profession of Christianity. All. Westcott and Hort omit, chiefly on the authority of the Vatican manuscript (cf. ver. 46, note). And buyeth that field. Into the morality of the action our Lord does not enter; he only illustrates his teaching by an incident that must have happened not un-frequently in a country like Palestine, which had already been the scene of so many wars. But the transaction "was, at least, in entire accordance with Jewish law. If a man had found a treasure in loose coins among the corn, it would certainly be his, if he bought the corn. If he had found it on the ground, or in the soil, it would equally certainly belong to him, if he could claim ownership of the soil, and even if the field were not his own, unless others could prove their right to it. The law went so far as to adjudge to the purchaser of fruits anything found among these fruits" (Edersheim, 'Life,' 1:595).
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Verses 45, 46. - The parable of the pearl merchant, Matthew only. Observe in this parable that the merchant is accustomed to deal in pearls, and is searching for good ones, when he meets with one worth more than the others he possesses all put together. If the former parable described one who finds the gospel as it were by chance (e.g. the woman of Samaria), this speaks of one who has long been searching for truth (e.g. Andrew and John, the Ethiopian eunuch). Verse 45. - Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man. Evidently no poor man, but a rich wholesale dealer (ἔμπορος: cf. Revelation 18:23; not κάπηλος, "a retailer;" cf. 2 Corinthians 2:17). Seeking. According to the usual manner of his life. Goodly pearls. He eared nothing about the inferior kinds or specimens. The man aimed high; he got more than he can have thought possible (Matthew 7:7, 8). Origen (Commentary, in loc.; Huet, 1. p. 210) has much curious matter about the different kinds of pearls.
Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Verse 46. - Who, when he had found (and having found, Revised Version? εὑρὼν δέ) one pearl of great price (Job 28:18, Revised Version margin, one); hardly the indefinite article (cf. Matthew 8:19, note). Chrysostom's comment is, Μία γάρ ἐστιν ἡ ἀλήθεια καὶ οὐ πολυσχισής. Went (ἀπελθών); i.e. some distance, for he might well have to go much further than the man in the preceding parable (ὑπάγει). Went (aorist)... sold (perfect) ... bought (aorist). He starts without delay; he sells irrevocably; he purchases at once (cf. ver. 44). And sold all that he had, and bought it. All. Genuine here. It may have been a great deal as worldly wealth is reckoned. Thus Saul of Tarsus acted (Philippians 3:7, 8), and Moses (Hebrews 11:26).
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
Verses 47-50. - The parable of the dragnet. This parable at once recalls that of the tares, but it will be noticed that there our Lord's aim is to inculcate patience and hopefulness on the part of his servants when they realize the close proximity of the ungodly even in districts won over to the faith, while here his aim is rather to warn. To be in the kingdom is not enough; some of those now within it may nevertheless be cast out. It thus greatly resembles the parable of the ten virgins; save that in that parable greater stress is laid on personal preparation and continued watchfulness; in this, on personal worth. Verse 47. - Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net (σαγήνῃ: Matthew 4:18, note), that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind. (For the thought, cf. Matthew 22:10; and for the word, συνάγειν, ver. 30, note.)
Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
Verse 48. - Which, when it was full; filled (Revised Version, ἐπληρώθη); i.e. not as a matter of course, but by those that came or were brought in. They drew to shore. The Revised Version reproduces the local touch, they drew up on the beach (ver. 2, note). In the parable those who cast the net also separate the fish, but this identification of two distinct sets of persons (vers. 24, 30, 37, 41) is merely part of the machinery of the story (cf. ver. 25). And sat down. How true to life. Perhaps it "intimates the thoughtful care with which the work of separation is performed" (Goebel). And gathered (συνέλεξαν); ver. 30, note. The good. Corresponding to their proper nature also in appearance (τὰ καλά: cf. Matthew 7:17, note). Into vessels, but cast the bad (τὰ δὲ σαπρά); Matthew 7:17, 18, notes; Matthew 12:33. Not to be pressed to mean "corrupt, dead fish, in a state of rottenness" (Goebel), for surely fishermen seldom get many of these, but simply the worthless, the unfit for use. This would include the legally unclean. Tristram writes," The greater number of the species taken on the lake are rejected by the fishermen, and I have sat with them on the gunwale while they went through their net, and threw out into the sea those that were too small for the market or were considered unclean" ('Nat. Hist. of Bible,' p. 291, edit. 1889). Away (ἔξω ἔβαλον). Compare, for both language and thought, the treatment of the salt that has lost its savour (Matthew 5:13).
So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
Verse 49. - So shall it be at (in, Revised Version) the end of the world (cf. vers. 39, 40, notes): the angels shall come forth (ver. 41), and sever. Taking them completely away (ἀφοριοῦσιν). The wicked (τοὺς πονηρούς); Matthew 7:18 and Matthew 6:13, notes. As compared with σαπρός (ver. 48), it refers more directly to the moral character. Our Lord has here left the imagery of the parable. From among the just; the righteous (Revised Version); ver. 43, note.
And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Verse 50. - And shall cast them, etc. The verse is word for word the same as ver. 42.
Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
Verses 51, 52. - The Promise, under the simile of the householder. Matthew only. Verse 51. - Jesus saith unto them. Omitted by the Revised Version as a manifest gloss, perhaps originally due to a lectionary. Have ye understood. Our Lord wishes them to realize the progress that they have already made, that he may give them a fresh promise, and thus summon them to fresh energy. All these things? Probably the immediately preceding parables and others spoken at the same time (cf. ver. 34, note). They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Lord is rightly omitted by the Revised Version. It distracts the attention from the quiet affirmative.
Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
Verse 52. - Then said he unto them, Therefore (διὰ τοῦτο); i.e. because you understand, I add this. Every scribe (πᾶς γραμματεύς). The interpretation of the following clause, naturally suggested by this word in itself is that our Lord meant to indicate the possibilities that lay before a Jewish scribe if he were only converted; but for such a reference by our Lord to Jewish scribes there appears no reason in the context. The word must therefore be understood of Christian teachers, who by their study of the Gospel should hold a position in the Christian Church parallel to that of scribes among the Jews. It is possible that our Lord chose the term in order to accustom his disciples to the idea of carrying on the study of Divine things which the scribes were accustomed to make. Even if the disciples were not to follow their methods they might well imitate their devotion Dean Plumptre has an interesting note on our Lord's comparison of his own work and that of the apostles after him, to the work of the scribes of the Jewish schools. In Matthew 23:34 is found a wider application of the term than usual, hardly referring, however, to Christians, but rather to the Jewish scribes in their ideal character. Which is instructed; who hath been made a disciple (Revised Version, μαθητευθείς). Though the correction is right (cf. Matthew 28:19), the word, nevertheless, implies much more than mere admission to the circle of disciples it includes also the thought of instruction having been really received. Unto (to, Revised Version) the kingdom of heaven (τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν, dative of reference; cf. Winer, § 31:4). The kingdom is not regarded as the teacher, but as the school, with reference to which discipleship is entered upon. Is like. In the preceding parables the general principles, etc., of the kingdom of heaven have been compared; here, only certain individuals belonging to it. Unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure (cf. Matthew 2:11, note). The thing signified is his experience and spiritual understanding. Ch. 12:35 has a similar thought, but the treasure there is rather his personality as affecting his life; here, as affecting his intellect. It is curious that the thought of Matthew 12:33, 34 should also resemble our vers. 47-50. Things new and old. The thought of the saying is that as a householder brings out from his stores food recently and long ago acquired (cf. Song of Solomon 7:13), so a Christian "scribe" brings out (primarily, if not solely, for the use of others) the new truths that he learns, and also old ones that he has long since known. It is thus a promise that the disciples shall (if they use their opportunities rightly) be able to do more than understand Christ's teaching (as they have just claimed to have done); for they shall be able to teach (not merely to learn), and that not only new truths, but also old ones; they shall be able, that is to say, to understand the relation of the old to the new, and to bring out even the old in its true meaning, Hence old is mentioned after new, for it implies greater knowledge and skill. It will be observed that Irenaeus' interpretation (IV. 9:1) of new and old as the New and Old Testaments is only partially right. With the disciples, it is true, the old would naturally be, in the first place, Old Testament truths, and the new, such truths as they learned from Christ; but these also would, after a few weeks or months, in their turn become old to them, and the fresh truths taught them as their life went on would be ever the new ones. The thought of 1 John 2:7, 8 is very similar. Weiss' interpretation is different and even less right. According to him, new represents the truths about the kingdom of God, and old the long known arrangements of nature and human life, which, as the parables show, are drawn up on the same hues. Origen gives a beautiful application of Leviticus 26:10, 11a.
And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.
Verse 53. - And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. The formula marks the end of an excerpt from the discourses (cf. Matthew 11:1, note, and Introduction, p. 3). It is, however, to be noticed that the first and last words, καὶ... ἐκεῖθεν, come in Mark 6:1, introducing the parallel passage to our following verses. But in the case of such common words this coincidence is, perhaps, to be considered as accidental. He departed (μετῆρεν). Elsewhere in the New Testament only in Matthew 19:1, where it comes in the same connexion as here.
And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
Verses 54-58. - Unbelief manifested in Jesus' own country, i.e. Nazareth. Parallel passage: Mark 6:1-6. In Luke 4:16-30 we have also an account of a scene at Nazareth; but the occasion was almost certainly a different one from that described here. His account, however, seems to have been modified in form from the better known narrative found in the Framework, and used in Matthew and Mark. Verse 54. - And when he was come into his own country (εἰς τὴν πατρίδα αὐτοῦ); i.e. Nazareth (Matthew 2:23). In Luke 4:23 the phrase is used with express contrast to Capernaum. In John 4:44 it is, as it seems, used in a special sense of Judaea, even though it comes in a saying that is almost identical with our ver. 57 (see Bishop Westcott). He taught them in their synagogue. His teaching appears to have spread over at least a few days (ἐδίδασκεν). Insomuch that they were astonished (Matthew 7:28, 29), and said, Whence (po/qen). And so again in ver. 56. The sentence might in itself express an earnest desire to know the origin of our Lord. But the fact that they were "offended in him" (ver. 57) shows that their language was due. not so much to inquiry as to astonishment, which may in some cases be the first stage of inquiry (Matthew 9:33; Matthew 12:23), or may, as here, be checked from further development. Knowing his family, and despising it, they treated him merely as a curiosity, and never thought of submitting themselves to him. Hath this Man this wisdom. Which they had just heard. And these mighty works? These is not expressed in the Greek, nor necessarily implied. Perhaps he had already performed some of the few miracles that he wrought there (ver. 58), or possibly his townsfolk referred to what they had heard of his miracles elsewhere.
Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
Verse 55. - Is not this the carpenter's son? In Mark, "the carpenter, the son of Mary," which may possibly be a doctrinal correction, made to avoid representing our Lord as the son of Joseph, but is more probably the earlier form of the narrative (due to immediate and, perhaps, local knowledge), which St. Matthew, or one of those who transmitted the source he used, avoided out of a feeling of reverence. In the Apocryphal Gospels our Lord is not represented as a carpenter himself, but as helping Joseph by miraculously lengthening a piece of wood which Joseph had cut too short (e.g. 'Pseudo-Matthew,' § 37; 'Gospel of Thomas,' first Greek form, § 13; contrast Justin Martyr, Dial. with Trypho,' § 88). Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren (Matthew 12:46). Probably sons of Joseph by a former wife (see Bishop Lightfoot's classical dissertation in 'Galatians'). James. Afterwards "bishop" of Jerusalem (Galatians 1:19; Acts 15:13), and the author of the Epistle. And Joses; Joseph (Revised Version), which is also probably right in Matthew 27:56. Joses is the Graecised form (see Westcott and Hort, 'Append.'). And Simon, and Judas. Probably the author of the Epistle.
And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
Verse 56. - And his sisters. Mentioned only here and in the parallel passage in Mark (cf. also "Western" authorities in Mark 3:32, where see Westcott and Heft, 'Append.'). Their names are quite unknown. Are they not all. There were several, at any rate not less than three, Matthew alone has all. With us? Mark expressly adds "here;" i.e. in Nazareth. Whence then hath this Man all these things? (ver. 54, note).
And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
Verse 57. - And they were offended in him (Matthew 5:29, note). Their knowledge of the earthly conditions of his youth proved a stumbling block to their faith. But Jesus said unto them. He accepts the fact, but reminds them that they were under a special temptation thus to reject him. Even in his reproof he will call them to rise above their position. A prophet is not without honour. There will ever be some to honour him. He who speaks forth the mind of God shall not totally fail in any place save one. An encouragement and a warning. Save in his own country (ἐν τῇ πατρίδι). Better omit own, for αὐτοῦ is not genuine here (contrast Mark), and the insertion of ἰδίᾳ before πατρίδι, is not supported by enough authority. Mark adds, "and among his own kin." And in his own house. Possibly Jeremiah's experience (Jeremiah 11:21; Jeremiah 12:6) gave rise to this proverb. (On John 4:44, cf. ver. 54, note.)
And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Verse 58. - And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Our account is abbreviated from Mark's. Notice there, "He could not do... and he marvelled because of their unbelief." Our Lord was hindered, not by lack of power, but by lack of those moral conditions which would alone have made his miracles really tend to the spiritual advantage of the inhabitants of Nazareth (cf. Matthew 12:38). Because of their unbelief; i.e. complete (ἀπιστία); but in the case of the failure of the disciples to perform a miracle, only comparative (ὀλιγοπιστία, Matthew 17:20).

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