The Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 1)

Introduction to the Parables of Matthew 13

There are eight parables in Chapter 13 of the Gospel of Matthew. These parables are often taught separately; however, they will be better understood when they are compared to each other. Chapter 13 begins with the parable of the good and bad soil (Mat. 3-9) and concludes with the householder (Mat. 51-51). The eight parables are as follows:

1. The Bad and the Good Soil  (Mat. 13: 3-9)

2. The Wheat and Tares  (Mat. 13: 24-30)

3. The Man and the Mustard Seed  
(Mat. 13: 31-32)

4. The Woman and the Leaven  (Mat. 13:33)

5. The Man who Hid the Treasure  (Mat. 13:44)

6. The Merchant Man finds the Pearl of Great Price  (Mat. 13:45-46)

7. The Good and the Bad Sea Creatures  (Mat. 13:47-50)

8. The Householder  (Mat. 51-52)

Before we begin, it is important to have a word about parables. Parables are literal stories with spiritual meanings. These meanings often remain hidden making the parable difficult to understand. Even the disciples had a difficult time understanding Jesus.  In the last parable, Jesus summarizes his teachings by explaining the importance of parables to the Christian. Let’s take a closer look of the last parable regarding the householder.

Parable of the Householder (Mat. 13:51-52)
(51) Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.  (52) 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.

When one understands the parables, you are like one that is instructed in the spiritual things of God, and can bring out spiritual treasure from the Old and the New Testament, to teach your household. This household may be other Christians or your Church.

Some do not understand the spiritual meaning of the parables, for they contain the hidden deeper spiritual things of the realm of the heavens, of God. If this is the case, then how can you teach anyone?

Like the parables, the Scriptures have many deep spiritual treasures of God. Teaching the literal things of God is helpful, but it will not make one grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord. It tends to makes one puffed up in literal knowledge.

1 Cor 2:11-14:
(11) “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.  (12) “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.”  (13) “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth,  but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”  (14) “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

If you say that we should only take the things of God literally, then
you are in the realm of the natural, and you do not understand
the deeper spiritual things of God.

There isn’t a verse in the Bible that says to take the Bible literally. On the contrary, there are many verses that indicate the opposite.

1 Co. 2:10:
(10) God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit, for the Spirit
searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God.

1 Co. 2:13:
(13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

2Co. 4:18:
(18) While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen is temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

The Meanings of the Parables

Let us look at the eight parables, and align them so that we can understand and explain them correctly.

1. The Bad and the Good Soil  (Mat. 13: 3-9)
The bad and the good

2. The Wheat and Tares  (Mat. 13: 24-30)
The good and the bad

3. The Man and the Mustard Seed  
(Mat. 13: 31-32)
The good

4. The Woman and the Leaven  (Mat. 13:33)
The bad

5. The Man who hid the Treasure  (Mat. 13:44)
The bad

6. The Merchant Man finds the Pearl of Great Price  (Mat. 13:45-46)
The good

7. The Good and the Bad Sea Creatures  (Mat. 13:47-50)
The good and the bad

8. The Householder that can bring out both the Old and New  (Mat. 51-52)
Conclusion

Looking closely at all of the eight parables, we can see that they are all about the believers and the unbelievers. Jesus spoke all of the eight parables in this chapter in a certain sequence to give us a pattern, and to arrange them so we can understand the meaning of the other unexplained parables.

Parables 3 and 4 
Parable 3 concerns the man and the mustard seed while parable 4 concerns the woman and the leaven. It is appropriate for these parable to go together for the man (head) goes together with the woman (body).
Thus, we have the good (mustard seed, faith) and the bad (leaven).

Parables 5 and 6
Parable 5 concerns the man who hid the treasure (bad) while parable 6 concerns the merchant man who found the Pearl of Great Price (good).
Once again we have the bad and the good.

The Alignment:

(1) Parable 1:  The Sower
The good and the bad

(2) Parable 2: The Wheat and the Tares
The good and the bad

(3) Parable 3 and 4: The Mustard Seed and the Leaven
The good and the bad.
These parables should be taught together, so we will refer to this as parable 3.

(4) Parable 5 and 6: The Hid Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price
The good and the bad.
These parables should be taught together, so we will refer to this as parable 4.

(5) Parable 7: The Sea Creatures
The good and the bad.

Now we have five separate groupings of the parables. Since Jesus explained parables 1, 2 and 5, we will look at parable 3 (3 & 4) and parable 4 (5 & 6).

(continued)