13:3 He 1 told them many things in parables, 2 saying: “Listen! 3 A sower went out to sow. 4 13:4 And as he sowed, some seeds 5 fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 13:5 Other 6 seeds fell on rocky ground 7 where they did not have much soil. They sprang up quickly because the soil was not deep. 8 13:6 But when the sun came up, they were scorched, and because they did not have sufficient root, they withered. 13:7 Other seeds fell among the thorns, 9 and they grew up and choked them. 10 13:8 But other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty. 13:9 The one who has ears had better listen!” 11
13:10 Then 12 the disciples came to him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 13:11 He replied, 13 “You have been given 14 the opportunity to know 15 the secrets 16 of the kingdom of heaven, but they have not.
1 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated.
2 sn Though parables can contain a variety of figures of speech (cf. the remainder of chapter 13), many times they are simply stories that attempt to teach spiritual truth (which is unknown to the hearers) by using a comparison with something known to the hearers. In general, parables usually advance a single idea, though there may be many parts and characters in a single parable and subordinate ideas may expand the main idea further. The beauty of using the parable as a teaching device is that it draws the listener into the story, elicits an evaluation, and demands a response.
3 tn Grk “Behold.”
4 sn A sower went out to sow. The background for this well-known parable, drawn from a typical scene in the Palestinian countryside, is a field through which a well-worn path runs. Sowing would occur in late fall or early winter (October to December) in the rainy season, looking for sprouting in April or May and a June harvest. The use of seed as a figure for God’s giving life has OT roots (Isa 55:10-11). The point of the parable of the sower is to illustrate the various responses to the message of the kingdom of God.
5 tn In Matthew’s version of this parable, plural pronouns are used to refer to the seed in v. 4 (ἅ…αὐτά [Ja…auta]), although the collective singular is used in v. 5 and following (indicated by the singular verbs like ἔπεσεν [epesen]). For the sake of consistency in English, plural pronouns referring to the seed are used in the translation throughout the Matthean account. In both Mark and Luke the collective singular is used consistently throughout (cf. Mark 4:1-9; Luke 8:4-8).
7 sn The rocky ground in Palestine would be a limestone base lying right under the soil.
8 tn Grk “it did not have enough depth of earth.”
9 sn Palestinian weeds like these thorns could grow up to six feet in height and have a major root system.
10 sn That is, crowded out the good plants.
11 tn The translation “had better listen!” captures the force of the third person imperative more effectively than the traditional “let him hear,” which sounds more like a permissive than an imperative to the modern English reader. This was Jesus’ common expression to listen and heed carefully (cf. Matt 11:15, 13:43; Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 8:8, 14:35).
12 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
13 tn Grk “And answering, he said to them.” This construction is somewhat redundant in English and has been simplified in the translation. Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
14 tn This is an example of a “divine passive,” with God understood to be the source of the revelation (see ExSyn 437-38).
15 tn Grk “to you it has been given to know.” The dative pronoun occurs first, in emphatic position in the Greek text, although this position is awkward in contemporary English.
16 tn Grk “the mysteries.”
sn The key term secrets (μυστήριον, musthrion) can mean either (1) a new revelation or (2) a revealing interpretation of existing revelation as in Dan 2:17-23, 27-30. Jesus seems to be explaining how current events develop old promises, since the NT consistently links the events of Jesus’ ministry and message with old promises (Rom 1:1-4; Heb 1:1-2). The traditional translation of this word, “mystery,” is misleading to the modern English reader because it suggests a secret which people have tried to uncover but which they have failed to understand (L&N 28.77).