Matthew Chapter 13

(Tap footnote number to read it; tap up arrow (↑) to scroll back up to verse. Old Testament quotations/allusions are underlined.)

The Parable of the Sower
  1. Later that day, Jesus left the house and was sitting beside the sea.
  2. And many crowds were gathered to Him.  So He stepped into a boat to sit down, and the whole crowd stood on the seashore.
  3. And He told them many things in parables, saying; “Behold, the man who sows seed went out to sow.
  4. “And in his sowing, some seeds fell beside the road.(1)“the road” is literal.  However, it can also be translated “the way”, which is how it’s typically translated in the BOS Bible for good reason.  In the early Christian church, they often referred to the Christian life as “The Way”.  Interestingly, the seed fell “beside” or “next to” “the way”.  And coming down, the birds devoured them.
  5. “Now, other seeds fell on rocky places which didn’t have much soil. And they sprang up at once because they didn’t have depth in the soil.
  6. “Then the sun rose and they were scorched because they didn’t have roots, and they dried up.
  7. “Now, other seeds fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.
  8. “Now, other seeds fell on the good soil and they were bearing fruit; some a hundredfold, and some sixty and some thirty.
  9. “He who has ears, let him hear.”
Why Jesus Spoke in Parables
  1. And coming up to Him, the disciples said; “What’s the reason you speak to them in parables?”
  2. And answering, He said to them; “Because you were – and are – entrusted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens.  But they weren’t – and aren’t – entrusted.
  3. “For whoever has, more will be entrusted to him and he will have abundance.  But whoever doesn’t have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
  4. “This is why I speak to them in parables.  Because while seeing, they don’t see.  And while hearing, they don’t hear, nor do they understand.
  5. “And they fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah, saying; “Your ears will hear and won’t understand. And while seeing you’ll see, and won’t perceive.
  6. For the heart of this people has grown calloused(2)“has grown calloused”. The Greek word here literally means to thicken, especially with fat.  It metaphorically means to be dull or insensitive.  All of those are pretty well captured by the English word calloused, because callouses are thickened skin which becomes dull or insensitive. and their ears barely listen, and their eyes are shut.  Lest, when they see with the eyes, and hear with the ears, and understand with the heart, and they return, indeed I will heal them.”(3)quotation/allusion to Isaiah 6:9-10
  7. “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
  8. “For truly I tell you; many prophets and righteous men fervently yearned to see what you see, and didn’t see it; and to hear what you hear, and didn’t hear it.
The Parable Explained
  1. Therefore, you must hear and understand(4)“must hear and understand” is one word in the Greek.  It literally means to hear, sometimes with the connotation of understanding what is being said.  In this passage, it’s in the imperative mood, making it a command. the parable of the man who sowed seed.
  2. To everyone who hears the word of the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and steals by force(5)“steals by force” is one word in Greek.  It refers to robbery using open or obvious force, and never to something done covertly. what was – and is – sown in his heart.  This is the seed sown beside the road.(6)“the road” is literal.  However, it can also be translated “the way”, which is how it’s typically translated in the BOS Bible for good reason.  In the early Christian church, they often referred to the Christian life as “The Way”.  Interestingly, the seed fell “beside” or “next to” “the way”.
  3. Now, the seed sown on the rocky places.  This is the man who hears the word, and receives it at once with great joy.
  4. However he doesn’t have root in himself, but is temporary; only lasting for a season.(7)“temporary; only lasting for a season” is one word in the Greek.  Its’ colloquial meaning is “temporary”, but the full technical meaning is “lasting (only) for a season”.  Technically, including both is double translating a Greek word.  However, the additional nuance of the full definition adds meaning to the verse, therefore it was included.”  And when constricting distress(8)“constricting distress ” The Greek word here focuses on the internal distress of an external situation.  It refers to a narrow place that makes someone feel confined, trapped, and without options.  A similar word is used in Matthew 7:14, which says “For narrow is the gate, and constricting was – and isthe way leading to life.  And those who find it are few.”  The early Church called the Christian life “the Way”. This could indicate that Jesus was referring to the rocky seed falling away because they find the Christian life is too restricting/confining in their life. or persecution arise because of the word, he falls away at once.
  5. Now, the seed among the thorns.  This is the man who hears the word, and the worries of this age and the deception of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
  6. Now, the seed sown on good soil. This is the man who hears the word and since he understands it, he truly bears fruit.  And indeed, some produce a hundredfold, and some sixty, and some thirty.
The Wheat and False Wheat (tares)
  1. He set another parable before them, saying; “The kingdom of the heavens is like a man sowing good seed in his field.”
  2. But while the men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed false wheat(9)“False wheat” is one word in Greek.  It refers to the plant “Lolium temulentum”, commonly called darnel, cockle, tares, and false wheat.  Darnel looks almost identical to wheat until the ear appears at maturity (the ear is different from wheat).  Further, wheat is brown when ripe, whereas darnel is black.  The differences between wheat and darnel are subtle and hard to spot while growing, but obvious and easily spotted when the plants mature.  This made it a frustrating weed for much of human history. among the true wheat and left.
  3. Now, when the plants sprouted and made fruit, then the false wheat was revealed.
  4. So coming to the master of the house, the slaves said to him; “Lord, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? How then does it have false wheat?”
  5. And he said to them; “An enemy man did this.”  And the slaves said to him; “Then, do you want us to go out and gather them?”
  6. And he said; “No, because when gathering the false wheat you might uproot the true wheat with them.
  7. “Allow both to grow together until the harvest. And at harvest time I will tell the harvesters; “First gather the false wheat and tie them into bundles to burn them.  But gather the wheat into my barn.”
The Mustard Seed, Leaven, and Reason for Parables
  1. He set another parable before them, saying; “The kingdoms of the heavens is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field;
  2. “which is truly smaller than all the common(10)The word “common” is not in the Greek, but was added to provide cultural context. The mustard seed was the smallest seed of all the plants that the Jews cultivated. seeds.  But when it’s grown, it’s greater than the garden plants and becomes a tree.  Therefore, the birds of the air come and make nests(11)“make nests” is one word in Greek which literally means to pitch a tent or to encamp, with the connotation of settling down or dwelling in a place.  The obvious parallel with birds is building a nest. on its branches.”
  3. He told them another parable; “The kingdom of the heavens is like leaven, which a woman took and mixed into three measures of flour until it was all mixed and began to rise.”(12)“was… …mixed and began to rise” is one word in Greek.  It means to mix some type of leaven (such as yeast, sourdough, etc.) into dough in order to make it rise.
  4. Jesus said all these things to the crowds.  And He was speaking nothing to them without a parable
  5. so that it might be fulfilled; what was spoken through the prophet, saying; “I will open My mouth in parables.  I will declare thing which were – and are – hidden from the foundation of the world(13)“world” the Greek word here is “κόσμος” (kosmos) and is the root of our English word “cosmos”.  Properly, it refers to an ordered system like the world, or even the whole universe.  It could be properly translated “…from the foundation of the universe.”.”(14)quotation/allusion to Psalm 78:2
The Parable of the False Wheat (Tares) Explained
  1. Then after sending away the crowds, He went into the house. And His disciples approached Him saying; “Explain to us the parable of the false wheat in the field.
  2. Then answering, He said: “The man who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man
  3. “and the field is the world.  And the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom.  And the false wheat, these are the sons of the evil one,
  4. “and the enemy sowing them is the Accuser.(15)“the Accuser” The Greek word used here is “διάβολος” (diabolos), and it’s the root of our English word “devil”. Much like “Christ” (see note on Matt 1:1) “devil” is not a name but a descriptive title.  Matthew uses the name “Satan” only 4 times in his gospel, far less than Mark and Luke, but even more than John (who only uses it once).  Also, the harvest is the culmination of the age and the harvesters are the angels.
  5. “Therefore, just as the false wheat is gathered and completely burned by fire, it will be just like this in the culmination of the age.
  6. “The Son of Man will send out His angels.  And from out of the kingdom, they will gather all the bait that ensnares(16)“bait that ensnares” is a single word in the Greek.  It specifically refers to a “bait stick”, meaning the trigger stick of a trap or snare to which the bait is attached.  Think of the part of a mouse trap to which you affix the cheese. On reaching for the bait, the “bait stick” triggers the trap and ensnares the unsuspecting victim. and the men who act without regard for God’s commands,(17)“without regard for God’s commands ” is one word in Greek, and is more literally “without regard for God’s law”. It’s a noun, and literally means “those who are without law”; i.e. those who – either by ignorance or by rebellion – don’t obey God’s (moral) law.
  7. “and will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.
  8. Then the righteous will shine forth like the sun(18)quotation/allusion to Daniel 12:3 in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
The kingdom is like: treasure, pearl, dragnet
  1. “The kingdom of the heavens is like a treasure that was – and is – hidden in a field, which – after finding it – a man hides again.  And for the joy of finding it, leaves and sells everything – whatever he has – and buys the field.
  2. “Again, the kingdom of the heavens is like a traveling merchant searching for magnificent pearls.
  3. “And finding one extremely valuable pearl, he left and sold everything – whatever he had – and bought it
  4. “Again, the kingdom of the heavens is like a dragnet(19)“Dragnet” is literal.  It’s a slang term for a type of fishing net that’s properly called a “seine”.  A dragnet is a long net with weights at the bottom and floats at the top.  It’s dragged through the sea either by men walking or boats.  Notably, it catches everything between the surface and the bottom of the net, regardless of the type of fish the fishers want to catch. that was cast into the sea, which was gathering every kind of fish.
  5. “When it was filled, they pulled it up to the shore. And sitting down, they collected the good fish into containers.  But they threw out the rotten fish.
  6. “It will be like this in the culmination of the age.  The angels will go out and separate the wicked men from the midst of the righteous men,
  7. “and they will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”
  8. “Do you understand all these things?”  They said to Him; “Yes.”
  9. Then He told them; “Because of this, every scribe(20)“scribe” in the New Testament, this Greek word is typically applied to those learned in the Mosaic Law. being discipled in the kingdom of the heavens is like a man – a master of his house – who brings out new and old things from the treasury of his heart.”(21)“the treasury of his heart” is one word in Greek.  It refers to a place where valuable things are stored, which can include thoughts or ideas stored in the heart or mind.
Jesus returns to Nazareth
  1. And when it happened, when Jesus finished these parables, He left that place.
  2. And coming into His hometown,(22)“hometown” is literally “fatherland”, as in the place his father lived/lives.  This was another way of saying the place He came from, i.e. His hometown. He was teaching them in their synagogue so that they were stunned in amazement. And they said; “From where did this man get this wisdom and the power to perform miracles?
  3. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, and Joseph, and Simeon, and Judas?
  4. And indeed, aren’t all His sisters with us?  So then, where did He learn all these things?
  5. And they were offended by Him.  But Jesus said to them; “A prophet isn’t without honor except in his hometown(23)“hometown” is literally “fatherland”, as in the place his father lived/lives.  This was another way of saying the place He came from, i.e. His hometown. and in his own household.”
  6. And He didn’t do many miracles there because they had no faith.


Next: Matthew chapter 14

Previous: Matthew chapter 12

Up: The Book of Matthew

Up: BOS Bible Index


Note: If you think a word, phrase, or passage could be better translated - or is wrong - then Please Say Something. This is an open source Bible that's accountable to all Christians. See this link for details.

Legal Use: Please feel free to quote the BOS Bible, but follow the guidelines on the Legal Use page when doing so. They are easy and mostly common sense.