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Matthew 13 and the 7 kingdom parables

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So how popular is the idea that the birds in the mustard tree is a good thing, or that the woman hiding leaven in three measures is a good thing, or that the treasure and pearl is salvation or the gospel? Are these ideas the norm among well taught Christians?

I was hugely disappointed as a local preacher went down this path...

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i certainly don't have a problem with it....   The concepts they are describing are important.

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Edited by Marilyn C

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The backdrop to Matt 13 is Matt 12 (insightful, right?), where the Jewish leaders reject the works of Jesus and attribute His works to Satan. Matt 13 is a turning point, a change of focus. Through ch12 it has been Israel-focused, but with His rejection, He is now shifting away from Israel and focusing away from those whose hearts have grown dull:

10 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?"

11 He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

12 "For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

13 "Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

14 "And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive;

15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should[fn] heal them.'[fn]

16 "But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;

17 "for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.


34 All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them,

35 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world."

What secret was He now beginning to reveal that was hidden from the prophets? Eph 3 tells us:

1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—

2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you,

3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already,

4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),

5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:

6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,

7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.

8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

9 and to make all see what is the fellowship[fn] of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;

The kingdom parables relate to the whole kingdom, gentile and Jewsh. The kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of the god of heaven.

We should interpret these parables by Jesus' own intrepation of them. He explains the sower (or four soils):

18 "Therefore hear the parable of the sower:

19 "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.

20 "But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;

21 "yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

22 "Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.

23 "But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."

And the tares:

36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field."

37 He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.

38 "The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.

39 "The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.

40 "Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.

41 "The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,

42 "and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

43 "Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

If we use Jesus' own interpretation of these two parables as the key to the others, the meaning is different, even opposite the traditional view. To use other than Jesus' own interpretation is folly.

So the mustard seed:

31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field,

32 "which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."

The key to this is to know who the birds are, which Jesus told us back in v19: the wicked ones. And the mustard plant that is common in Israel is a bush not a tree. Jesus is describing the church as an organism that grows so abnormally/unnaturally large that it includes within itself the wicked ones, the grievous wolves that Paul describes within the Church. I'd suggest that from about Constantine onwards this has been the case with the Christian church.

Next the leaven:

33 Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures[fn] of meal till it was all leavened."

What is leaven, throughout scripture? -a model of sin. From the Levitcal sacrifices (with a couple exceptions, which offer insights in themselves), to Jesus saying "beware the leaven (false doctrine) of the Pharisees" to Paul saying that "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" (in a context that indicates it's a bad thing).

Where else in scripture does three measures of meal show up? What would a Jewish audience perceive in that description? Starting at Gen 18 when The Lord and two angels visited Abraham and he told Sarah to go prepare three measures of meal, and later instituted in the Levitical fellowship offering, which was to be free of leaven. A Jewish audience would gasp in shock at this parable!

Hiding leaven in three measures of meal describes false doctrine introduced into the Church, diffusing throughout the Body. That it was introduced by a woman also seems to tie this parable to Thyatira and Jezebel as a model of the catholic introduction of false doctrine (and inquisition, remember Naboth's field).

Next, the treasure in the field:

44 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

But what is the field? v38 tells us, the field is the world, not salvation, not the gospel. There is nothing I posses that can be redeemed in God's currency. He is the One that paid. "For God so loved the world He gave..." is the parallel to this parable. But who is described as God's peculiar treasure? Israel...

Next, the pearl.

45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,

46 "who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

This parable is clearly parallel to the treasure in the field, in that it is Christ giving all. But the pearl is a non-kosher jewel, so this points us away from things Jewish, toward the gentile church. What else in a pearl points to the church? -a pearl grows by accretion, in response to an irritant. It is removed from its place of growth, and used as an object of adornment. It is the only jewel created by a living thing.

The kingdom parables describe the whole kingdom (there are a "complete" seven parables), both in scope and as a historical narrative in parallel to Jesus' seven letters in Rev 2&3. (But that's a topic for a different thread, probably!)

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well done ,you are not asleep that is for sure , good thinking ,


most of religion ,have made up their own story for whatever event should come and go ,when presented the words of Christ even God they prefer to stay in line with their own view ,for they are now become a victim themselves of their own making ,just like the pharisees and the others ,this is how we can recognized the true from the false ;truth from lies ,

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It has always seemed so clear that these parables should be interpreted by Jesus' own words, yet it's clear that the happy-happy, feel good reading remains the most prevalent. Even Marilyn's (redacted) post went down the familiar path, but with an Israel-focused view.

One of the great joys of my life came when I was shown, and saw how these seven parables align with the seven letters in Rev 2&3, which are also conspicuous in their use of the "he that hath an ear" phrase of Mat 13:9.

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Some speculation, according to what i've been taught.  I don't want to do this; i say let the speculators speculate, it will get them nothing but trouble, but no speculation in this: read  see revelation 21:21:  And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: . . .  I don't think pearls are a bad thing.



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Right, pearls aren't "bad", just non-Jewish in their connotation. Ancient Jews traded in pearls as a commodity, but did not value them for their own use. A word study of "pearls" is interesting, and I recommend it to anyone. From Job with "the pearls shall not be counted", to their immodest use in 1 Timothy, and their use to signal the immodesty of the woman and city of Rev 17&18, to their final use as the gates of the new Jerusalem. I see the "pearly gates" simply meaning that the old law is not the way into that city.

Leaven has a similar Jewish/gentile connotation. The only feast of Moses that was (and still is) celebrated with leavened bread was Shavout, the feast of weeks, or as we might know it, Pentecost: "coincidently" the day the gentile church was born. In a further fun "coincidence", Jewish tradition has them read the book of Ruth on Shavout -a book that describes a Jewish lord redeeming unto himself a gentile bride.

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You have given us much to think about, perhaps too much at one time..

The first thing I noticed is that when Jesus is speaking about the kingdom of Heaven, He is speaking about just that.

The mustard seed denotes the Kingdom of Heaven, God's reign, not the visible church. It starts with one Man and the apostles, and grows by the power of the Holy Spirit into a mighty organism. The invisible body of Christ which will enter into heaven will be pure and without sin.

The treasure is in earthen vessels. God redeemed mankind by hiding the life of Christ in each one of us. He must buy the whole field of clay, or our earthen bodies, to obtain the treasure, the life of Christ, the Holy Spirit within us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and the body of Christ. God is the treasure in us. This is speaking of the redemption of the Jews.

The pearl is speaking of the redemption of the gentiles. Together we comprise the Kingdom of Heaven: Both unkosher, unclean gentiles that have been declaired clean by God, and the Hebrew people who have received this treasure, are the Kingdom of Heaven..

Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven. You are saying that God's rightous pure Kingdom is like sin. I see it as a Kingdom that grows within us till it has all of us. Jesus is using leaven in a good way here. He is only speaking of the manner of growth in this case. But I do find your parallels of the 3 measures very interesting.

Now I have no Idea what the prevalant interpretation is. I tend to listen to what the Holy Spirit is telling me. Mens thoughts usually don't stick to me but I cling to that which is good. But I do know how to read a sentence. Jesus is speaking of the Kingdom of heaven in these parables. The Kingdom is like buried treasure, leaven, and a valuable pearl. He is discribing His invisible Kingdom which is not of the world using concrete things that earthly minds without the Holy Spirit can relate to.

You must allow discussion of your interpretation or it is considered teaching and you not allowed to do that. No scripture is of private interpretation. Neither of our interpretations may be correct. But we respect the right of all to introduce their thoughts on the matter whether or not they agree with either of ours.



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the holy spirit can only be there for you to listen to it ;by you removing all other spirits (yours/your views/thoughts/all untruths....) then the truth will come to you and will understand the scriptures in truth,in the way God want you to read them and understand them 

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