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Bible verses about Wheat and Tares
(From Forerunner Commentary)

In the introduction, we see revealed important characteristics about the two groups that obviously describe two different types of attitudes. These traits make the two groups' approaches to the wedding celebration predictable, summarized by the contrasting behaviors of sincerity and superficiality. The two have some interesting similarities that cause them to appear the same outwardly.

Both groups were in the same place going to meet the bridegroom (verse 1). The spiritually unprepared Christian may sit right beside the spiritually prepared Christian in Sabbath services, similar to the state of the tares and wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). They both seem interested in the same things and seem to have the same character. Both may diligently give tithes and offerings and serve their brethren. It may only be in a crisis that the real differences show up, and then attendance may begin to wane, and their monetary support of the church may slow or even stop.

Both groups were carrying lamps (verse 1), so these vessels are not a sign of who had prepared. Similarly, a person carrying a Bible to church does not show that that person has prepared by study and prayer during the previous week to overcome sin and produce spiritual fruit. Neither does it show that the Holy Spirit exists within a person.

Both groups slumbered and slept (verse 5). Even the most dedicated and sincere saints may temporarily become spiritually lethargic. The fact that the Bridegroom delayed His coming is one of Jesus' many hints that His return may be much later than expected. From the perspective of the first-century church, Christ has delayed for almost 2,000 years! Nevertheless, we should not allow ourselves to become lethargic about His eventual return (Habakkuk 2:3). The word "slumbered" is actually nod, a transient act, whereas "slept" should be sleeping, a continuous act. Thus, we see the progression of lethargy. First, the virgins nodded their heads as if napping, and later, they slept continuously and deeply. Initial weariness is the first step to further spiritual decay. It is vital to catch temporary apathy early to prevent permanent disillusionment.

The ten virgins' service and reverence to God is done perfunctorily. It is more of a habit than a sincere zeal, and this is seen in Christians' routine attendance at Sabbath services. They obey God almost mindlessly, developing it into a routine over time. Their lack of emotional maturity and forethought carries them through life in lightheaded bliss, and so they remain with the church, just filling a seat or attending only occasionally.


 

Matthew 13:24-30  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

When understood in the light of what Peter and Jude wrote about false prophets being marked out beforehand to be part of the church fellowship (II Peter 2:1-3; Jude 3-4), this can be easily seen as a prophecy. It occurred in the apostles' day, and it occurs in ours. We should not be surprised that both the converted and unconverted fellowship in the same congregations.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Sovereignty and the Church's Condition (Part Two)


 

Matthew 13:24-25  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Jesus illustrates two sowers of different character. In the Parable of the Sower, the sower stands for all teachers of God's truth, including Jesus. Here, "the sower" is exclusively Jesus. He is the "owner" (verse 27), and "the son of Man" (verse 37). The other sower is called "his enemy," "an enemy," "the wicked one," and "the devil" (verses 25, 28, 38-39). To describe this enemy, Jesus uses the word diabolos: the accuser, deceiver, liar, and betrayer, one who is against all that is true and righteous.

The enemy sowed in a field that was not his while the servants slept. This does not necessarily mean that the servants were not watchful and were thus to blame for the mixed field. The wording implies that it was the normal time for sleep, night. Satan's sly nature is revealed in his choice of the darkness for doing his diabolical work. Also, note that he does not bother to sow the wicked among the wicked, but the wicked among the good.

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Three): The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares


 

Matthew 13:24-29  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Satan's malicious intention in sowing tares among the wheat is to cause problems and confusion (James 3:16). The bad seeds grow to become poisonous weeds that allow only the healthiest of the wheat to survive. Tares, like weeds, have never been a marketable product. "Tares" are actually darnel, a seed hardly identifiable from the wheat seed, and immature wheat and darnel look alike. To try to destroy the darnel would mean destroying much of the wheat, and separating one from the other would be beyond the servants' abilities. Only when the wheat has matured can the tares be detected. Then the tares are gathered together in bundles in the field and destroyed by fire.

Many who are not in the process of conversion resemble those who are. Just like true Christians, they go to church, pray, and read the Bible, but they are only religious hobbyists. Jesus calls them "sons of the wicked one" (Matthew 13:38), and being tares, they will be destroyed. The tares are not originally from the wicked one, but they develop character according to his strong influence. They are led by him and so are his children (John 8:44).

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Three): The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares


 

Matthew 13:24-30  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This parable exposes the problem of evil intermingled with good within congregations, just as the same mix confronts nations, communities, and homes. No matter how society tries to legislate or separate out lawbreakers from the rest of society, the seeds of sin and crime find a place to grow. God's church is similarly affected by Satan's constant attacks. The genuine and the counterfeit wheat are always together in the church.

The servants' perplexity about the sowing of the tares shows that the presence of sin is often a mystery to people (II Thessalonians 2:7-10). God cannot be blamed for them because He does not sow evil—Satan does (James 1:13). By this parable, Jesus prophesies that the church of God on earth would be imperfect. The spiritual church has members with the Holy Spirit who are dedicated and loyal, yet have personal defects. It also has within it unconverted people who may recognize the truth but are there only to enjoy association with God's people. Jesus' intent is to enlighten and warn the saints of this fact, not to expose the tares at this time (Acts 20:29-32). God will root out the bad seed when the good seed has matured.

"The good seed," "the wheat," and "the sons of the kingdom" refer to baptized members of God's church in whom the Holy Spirit dwells—the saints, the elect, the righteous (Matthew 13:43). In the previous parable, the seed represents "the word of the kingdom" (verse 19), but here, the good seed is the product of that word received, understood, and obeyed. The Son of Man, as the Sower or Owner, sows only good seed, those who are righteous due to walking worthy of God—living His way of life, and becoming the "children of the kingdom" (I John 2:6; II John 6; I Thessalonians 2:10-15).

It is God's will that Jesus Christ the Redeemer sow His redeemed ones in this world of sin and misery for the purpose of training and testing them to become true witnesses for Him in preparation for the Kingdom. Therefore, He has placed Christians where He wants them. Jesus tells Peter in Luke 22:31 that he was wheat, and as such, he was to be sifted by Satan. All of God's saints should heed this warning to watch and pray that the field of our heart not be sown with tares by the enemy. God has bought us with a price and given us His Spirit, making us new creations in Him and heirs of His Family and eternal life. He expects us to bear fruit in our corner of the field of this world in which He has sowed us.

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Three): The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares


 

Matthew 13:24-30  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God has seeded His church with vessels for honor—the wheat—while Satan has sprinkled in his own vessels for dishonor—the tares (see II Timothy 2:20-21). Jesus does not use the imagery of wheat and tares haphazardly to relate this important lesson. Instead, the physical properties of these two different plants reveal a depth to the parable's symbolism that emphasizes how different in quality the wheat is from the tare, and how hard it is to tell them apart.

Wheat, which Christ uses to symbolize His true children, has always been a vital, life-giving substance, possessing both nutrition and healing properties. During most of human history, it has most commonly been used for bread, and it has long been called "the staff of life." Herbert W. Armstrong even proclaimed, "The grain of wheat God causes to grow out of the ground is a perfect food." The matchless quality of wheat serves as a symbol revealing how highly God regards His children.

In contrast, Christ uses the tare to symbolize counterfeits within His church. Tares are weeds diametrically opposite to wheat in all their properties other than appearance. Even the botanical name of the weed, darnel, conveys its detrimental quality. Darnel comes from the French language, meaning "drunkenness," having earned this name as a result of its intoxicating effect when consumed.

When darnel is ground into flour, baked in bread, and consumed while hot, the eater may experience symptoms similar to drunkenness, including trembling, followed by an inability to walk, hindered speech, and vomiting. In addition, darnel is commonly infected by the ergot fungus, which can cause hallucinations when consumed in small doses, but in large doses can do heavy damage to the central nervous system. The Greeks and Romans supposed the darnel and the fungus to cause blindness. The Romans even crafted an insult from darnel, lolio victitare, "to live on darnel," a phrase applied to a dim-sighted or shortsighted person.

The high value and health properties of wheat are opposite to the common and harmful properties of darnel, yet in Christ's parable the owner of the field allows both to grow together. One reason is because wheat and darnel are exact in their appearances during growth. Both plants are lush green and can be distinguished only when they mature and produce fruit: Wheat berries are large and golden, while darnel berries are small and gray. Thus, if the farmer attempted to uproot the tares before maturity, he would wreak havoc on his wheat. Today, modern harvesting equipment easily sifts between the two because of their different sizes.

Spiritual wheat and tares grow alike within God's church, identical in appearance, and to attempt to uproot the tares would result in uprooting some of the wheat as well. Just as the qualitative difference between the mature fruit of wheat and darnel is different, only by the fruit may the brethren be known (Matthew 7:15-20). Even after maturity, God Himself—and no one else—will have the tares removed and will destroy them in the furnace (Matthew 13:30).

Ted E. Bowling
Taking Care With the Tares


 

Matthew 13:24-30  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Christ's parable contains at least two warnings that are important to how we deal with possible tares within God's church. First, we need to be aware that tares—false members—are a reality. Counterfeit members do exist and are at work within God's church; Christ Himself says so. The fact that they are present requires that we be on our guard, not allowing ourselves to be led astray. For example, do we measure our actions by the actions of others? What if that person by whom we measure ourselves is a tare? Instead, Jesus Christ is the one and only perfect model, as shown by Scripture (Romans 8:29). Paul says that if we measure ourselves among ourselves, we are not wise (II Corinthians 10:12)

In addition to counterfeit brethren, tares could also be false ministers, even false apostles (see II Corinthians 11:13-15). False church leaders, teaching false doctrines that spread spiritual havoc, are a dire threat. Tares in the church spread destructive attitudes and ideas that can influence true brethren toward negativity, suspicion, cynicism, sarcasm, and doubt. Christ warns us of such deception in Matthew 24:24, "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." Knowing that tares are in the church, we must be vigilant, clinging to the truth lest we be deceived.

Second, Christ's parable warns us not only to take great care to avoid the false instruction and attitudes of the tares, but also to be mindful about how we treat young, immature "wheat" that we may mistake for tares. We must be slow to judge, remembering that church members are not all equally converted. Though they may be pure in heart, even the wheat may not always act properly. Likewise, some brethren may always act properly, may always seem to do the right thing, but their hearts remain unconverted or even corrupted.

God knows who belongs to Him and who does not (II Timothy 2:19), and He allows both to grow together. The interaction between wheat and tares, the true and the false, provides a constant test: How patient are we in our relationships with others? James sets the standard in James 5:9, exhorting, "Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!"

In order to endure to the end, we must develop the patient attitude described by James. We must grow to be thick-skinned, not easily offended in our dealings with young wheat or tares, never taking insults or affronts personally. When we deal with those coming to conversion, we all must be long-suffering, patient, having a great deal of love for one another. We must never contend with brethren, as the Scripture frequently admonishes (I Corinthians 3:3, Philippians 2:3).

Some may display their faults externally, while others hide their sins (I Timothy 5:24). It is easy to say about the former, "He is not living as he should," while missing a corrupt heart in the latter. However, God works with His children on an individual basis; He works with us one-on-one. Each of us has his unique trials and is experiencing tests unlike others, whether it be the loss of health, a job, a home, or a friend. Through His personal relationship with each of us, God is refining us into the mature wheat that He wants to reap at His harvest.

Ted E. Bowling
Taking Care With the Tares


 

Matthew 13:37-40  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Besides providing the instruction in His parable, Jesus Christ provides the perfect example of how to treat and interact with a tare. He had to deal with a tare close to Him throughout His ministry. In John 6:70-71, John writes, "Jesus answered [His disciples], 'Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?' He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve."

How Christ dealt with Judas sets the example for how we ought to deal with recognized tares. Jesus knew Judas; He knew his character and heart after traveling with him throughout His three-and-a-half years of ministry. Yet, Judas was allowed responsibilities and given duties just as the other disciples were. Judas worked and prayed, appearing just as religious as the other eleven—but Judas was only like them in appearance, not in character.

However, Jesus never revealed to the other disciples that Judas was a tare. Even in John 6, specifically identifying who He meant, Christ only mentions the presence of a tare, forcing the disciples to look inward and evaluate their own hearts. It is clear the disciples were unaware of Judas' corrupt character even after spending more than three years with him. At the final Passover, the disciples had no idea who would betray the Master. Each of them began to say to Christ, "Lord, is it I?" (Matthew 26:22). If He had revealed Judas' nature to them, or had the disciples been wise enough to guess, they would have had no need to ask this question.

Instead of singling out Judas and treating Him poorly, Jesus showed love and kindness to him, His own disciple who would betray Him and cause His death. Christ showed His enemy courtesy, respect, and humility, and even in a position of servitude, washed Judas' feet. He never revealed the tare among them, but instead allowed Judas to expose his own character through his actions. Perhaps Jesus knew that if He revealed Judas' character, He would risk uprooting some of His other disciples. Loving the eleven so strongly, Christ would not risk losing one of them on account of Judas.

As we mature as Christians, it is our responsibility to judge. We are training to be priests and kings in the coming Kingdom of God, and in both of these positions, judging plays a major role. In preparation, we are constantly forced to evaluate and recognize sin in order to avoid it, though with care not to presume to know the heart of whoever sins. In addition, we must actively judge our own lives, recognizing the sin within ourselves. But when we recognize sin in others, and even correctly identify a tare in the church, we must still show love and kindness.

God has not given us the responsibility of removing the tares; He has reserved that job solely for Himself. In fact, from Jesus' example, He has not even given us the job of exposing who they may be. God, in wisdom infinitely greater than our own, will separate the wheat from the tares. Besides, wheat cannot reap even itself, much less the tare—only the reaper can reap.

As wheat, our responsibility is to grow in kindness, patience, and godly love, producing healthy and good fruit. This requires an attitude of meek, humble, and godly service. Most importantly, we have the responsibility to grow into the perfect image of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Ted E. Bowling
Taking Care With the Tares


 

2 Timothy 2:19-21  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Paul implies that the vessels (people) in God's house (Family or Temple) are not all of the same quality. But if we work and apply ourselves to purge and purify what is defiling and dishonoring, we can become a vessel of honor (I John 3:3). We all begin as vessels of dishonor. Even after the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us, we sin, thus dishonoring both Him and our character. From this dishonor we must be continually cleansed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Three): Hope


 

2 Timothy 2:19-21  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God plainly says here that He can make a vessel of honor or one of dishonor. It is His choice. Matthew 13, in the Parable of the Sower and the Seed, shows that God permits Satan to sow tares within the fellowship. These tares are not church members. A tare looks much like wheat until the fruit appears, and then one can tell that it is not wheat. People who are tares will be religious and look a lot like church members, but are they converted? The principle is that God will permit tares to be sown within the fellowship. The Temple of God, His house, will be seeded with vessels of honor and those of dishonor.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 3): Ephesians 4 (A)


 

 




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