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Matthew 13:10-52

Context

13:10 Then 1  the disciples came to him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 13:11 He replied, 2  “You have been given 3  the opportunity to know 4  the secrets 5  of the kingdom of heaven, but they have not. 13:12 For whoever has will be given more, and will have an abundance. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 6  13:13 For this reason I speak to them in parables: Although they see they do not see, and although they hear they do not hear nor do they understand. 13:14 And concerning them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

You will listen carefully 7  yet will never understand,

you will look closely 8  yet will never comprehend.

13:15 For the heart of this people has become dull;

they are hard of hearing,

and they have shut their eyes,

so that they would not see with their eyes

and hear with their ears

and understand with their hearts

and turn, and I would heal them. 9 

13:16 “But your eyes are blessed 10  because they see, and your ears because they hear. 13:17 For I tell you the truth, 11  many prophets and righteous people longed to see 12  what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

13:18 “So listen to the parable of the sower: 13:19 When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one 13  comes and snatches what was sown in his heart; 14  this is the seed sown along the path. 13:20 The 15  seed sown on rocky ground 16  is the person who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. 13:21 But he has no root in himself and does not endure; 17  when 18  trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away. 13:22 The 19  seed sown among thorns is the person who hears the word, but worldly cares and the seductiveness of wealth 20  choke the word, 21  so it produces nothing. 13:23 But as for the seed sown on good soil, this is the person who hears the word and understands. He bears fruit, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” 22 

The Parable of the Weeds

13:24 He presented them with another parable: 23  “The kingdom of heaven is like a person who sowed good seed in his field. 13:25 But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and sowed weeds 24  among the wheat and went away. 13:26 When 25  the plants sprouted and bore grain, then the weeds also appeared. 13:27 So the slaves 26  of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ 13:28 He said, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So 27  the slaves replied, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them?’ 13:29 But he said, ‘No, since in gathering the weeds you may uproot the wheat with them. 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At 28  harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, but then 29  gather 30  the wheat into my barn.”’”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

13:31 He gave 31  them another parable: 32  “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed 33  that a man took and sowed in his field. 13:32 It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest garden plant and becomes a tree, 34  so that the wild birds 35  come and nest in its branches.” 36 

The Parable of the Yeast

13:33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with 37  three measures 38  of flour until all the dough had risen.” 39 

The Purpose of Parables

13:34 Jesus spoke all these things in parables to the crowds; he did not speak to them without a parable. 13:35 This fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet: 40 

I will open my mouth in parables,

I will announce what has been hidden from the foundation of the world. 41 

Explanation for the Disciples

13:36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 13:37 He 42  answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 13:38 The field is the world and the good seed are the people 43  of the kingdom. The weeds are the people 44  of the evil one, 13:39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 13:40 As 45  the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 13:41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everything that causes sin as well as all lawbreakers. 46  13:42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, 47  where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13:43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. 48  The one who has ears had better listen! 49 

Parables on the Kingdom of Heaven

13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field, that a person found and hid. Then because of joy he went and sold all that he had and bought that field.

13:45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. 13:46 When he found a pearl of great value, he went out and sold everything he had and bought it.

13:47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea that caught all kinds of fish. 13:48 When it was full, they pulled it ashore, sat down, and put the good fish into containers and threw the bad away. 13:49 It will be this way at the end of the age. Angels will come and separate the evil from the righteous 13:50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, 50  where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

13:51 “Have you understood all these things?” They replied, “Yes.” 13:52 Then he said to them, “Therefore every expert in the law 51  who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his treasure what is new and old.”

1 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

2 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.

3 tn This is an example of a “divine passive,” with God understood to be the source of the revelation (see ExSyn 437-38).

4 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.

5 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).

6 sn What he has will be taken from him. The meaning is that the one who accepts Jesus’ teaching concerning his person and the kingdom will receive a share in the kingdom now and even more in the future, but for the one who rejects Jesus’ words, the opportunity that that person presently possesses with respect to the kingdom will someday be taken away forever.

7 tn Grk “with hearing,” a cognate dative that intensifies the action of the main verb “you will listen” (ExSyn 168-69).

8 tn Grk “look by looking.” The participle is redundant, functioning to intensify the force of the main verb.

9 sn A quotation from Isa 6:9-10. Thus parables both conceal or reveal depending on whether one is open to hearing what they teach.

10 sn This beatitude highlights the great honor bestowed on the disciples to share in this salvation.

11 tn Grk “truly (ἀμήν, amhn) I say to you.”

12 sn This is what past prophets and righteous people had wanted very much to see, yet the fulfillment had come to the disciples. This remark is like 1 Pet 1:10-12 or Heb 1:1-2.

13 sn Interestingly, the synoptic parallels each use a different word for Satan here: Mark 4:15 has “Satan,” while Luke 8:12 has “the devil.” This illustrates the fluidity of the gospel tradition in often using synonyms at the same point of the parallel tradition.

14 sn The word of Jesus has the potential to save if it germinates in a person’s heart, something the devil is very much against.

15 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

16 tn Grk “The one sown on rocky ground, this is the one.” The next two statements like this one have this same syntactical structure.

17 tn Grk “is temporary.”

18 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

19 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

20 tn Grk “the deceitfulness of riches.” Cf. BDAG 99 s.v. ἀπάτη 1, “the seduction which comes from wealth.”

21 sn That is, their concern for spiritual things is crowded out by material things.

22 tn The Greek is difficult to translate because it switches from a generic “he” to three people within this generic class (thus, something like: “Who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one instance a hundred times, in another, sixty times, in another, thirty times”).

23 tn Grk “He set before them another parable, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant and has not been translated.

24 tn Grk “sowed darnel.” The Greek term ζιζάνιον (zizanion) refers to an especially undesirable weed that looks like wheat but has poisonous seeds (L&N 3.30).

25 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

26 tn See the note on the word “slave” in 8:9.

27 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of the owner’s statement.

28 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated.

29 tn Grk “but.”

30 tn Grk “burned, but gather.”

31 tn Grk “put before.”

32 tn Grk “He set before them another parable, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant and has not been translated.

33 sn The mustard seed was noted for its tiny size.

34 sn This is rhetorical hyperbole, since technically a mustard plant is not a tree. This could refer to one of two types of mustard plant popular in Palestine and would be either ten or twenty-five ft (3 or 7.5 m) tall.

35 tn Grk “the birds of the sky” or “the birds of the heaven”; the Greek word οὐρανός (ouranos) may be translated either “sky” or “heaven,” depending on the context. The idiomatic expression “birds of the sky” refers to wild birds as opposed to domesticated fowl (cf. BDAG 809 s.v. πετεινόν).

36 sn The point of the parable seems to be that while the kingdom of God may appear to have insignificant and unnoticeable beginnings (i.e., in the ministry of Jesus), it will someday (i.e., at the second advent) be great and quite expansive. The kingdom, however, is not to be equated with the church, but rather the church is an expression of the kingdom. Also, there is important OT background in the image of the mustard seed that grew and became a tree: Ezek 17:22-24 pictures the reemergence of the Davidic house where people can find calm and shelter. Like the mustard seed, it would start out small but grow to significant size.

37 tn Grk “hid in.”

38 sn This measure was a saton, the Greek name for the Hebrew term “seah.” Three of these was a very large quantity of flour, since a saton is a little over 16 pounds (7 kg) of dry measure (or 13.13 liters). So this was over 47 lbs (21 kg) of flour total, enough to feed over a hundred people.

39 tn Grk “it was all leavened.”

sn The parable of the yeast and the dough teaches that the kingdom of God will start small but eventually grow to permeate everything. Jesus’ point was not to be deceived by its seemingly small start, the same point made in the parable of the mustard seed, which preceded this one.

40 tc A few important mss (א* Θ Ë1,13 33) identify the prophet as Isaiah, a reading that is significantly harder than the generic “prophet” because the source of this prophecy is not Isaiah but Asaph in Ps 78. Jerome mentioned some mss that had “Asaph” here, though none are known to exist today. This problem is difficult because of the temptation for scribes to delete the reference to Isaiah in order to clear up a discrepancy. Indeed, the vast majority of witnesses have only “the prophet” here (א1 B C D L W 0233 0242 Ï lat sy co). However, as B. M. Metzger points out, “if no prophet were originally named, more than one scribe might have been prompted to insert the name of the best known prophet – something which has, in fact, happened elsewhere more than once” (TCGNT 27). In light of the paucity of evidence for the reading ᾿Ησαΐου, as well as the proclivity of scribes to add his name, it is probably best to consider the shorter reading as authentic.

tn Grk “was spoken by the prophet, saying.” The participle λέγοντος (legontos) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

41 sn A quotation from Ps 78:2.

42 tn Grk “And answering, he said.” This construction is somewhat redundant in English and has been simplified in the translation. Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

43 tn Grk “the sons of the kingdom.” This idiom refers to people who should properly be, or were traditionally regarded as, a part of God’s kingdom. L&N 11.13 translates the phrase: “people of God’s kingdom, God’s people.”

44 tn Grk “the sons of the evil one.” See the preceding note on the phrase “people of the kingdom” earlier in this verse, which is the opposite of this phrase. See also L&N 9.4; 11.13; 11.14.

45 tn Grk “Therefore as.” Here οὖν (oun) has not been translated.

46 tn Grk “the ones who practice lawlessness.”

47 sn A quotation from Dan 3:6.

48 sn An allusion to Dan 12:3.

49 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, 13:9; Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 8:8, 14:35).

50 sn An allusion to Dan 3:6.

51 tn Or “every scribe.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 2:4. It is possible that the term translated “expert in the law” (traditionally, “scribe”) here is a self-description used by the author, Matthew, to represent his role in conveying the traditions about Jesus to his intended audience. See David E. Orton, The Understanding Scribe [JSNTSup].



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