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<< Matthew 13:43   Matthew 13:45 >>


Matthew 13:1-53

Matthew 13 contains Christ's explanation of His use of parables as a way of teaching. In analyzing these parables, we discover the King's personal view of His Kingdom through the past, present, and future of the history of His church. They seem not to reveal as much about the church's eternal characteristics as about its day-to-day efforts resulting from Christ's work in coming into the world. They act as a prophetic summary of the historical development of God's church. The recurring phrase "kingdom of heaven" denotes Christ's work through His church to make known "the word of the kingdom" (verse 19), that is, to announce the good news of the coming Kingdom of God.

The chapter contains eight parables. Jesus gave the first four to the mixed multitude, while He told the last four to the twelve disciples in private. After the first series of four parables, Matthew writes, "All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them" (verse 34). These four parables describe the outward characteristics of the church, the working of the mystery of sin against the church, and the extent to which the Evil One is allowed to go in his opposition. The remaining four parables illustrate the inner characteristics of His church. After the eighth parable, Matthew makes another concluding statement, ". . . when Jesus had finished these parables, . . . He departed from there" (verse 53).

The parables can also be grouped into related pairs that illustrate the church's different characteristics:

First Pair: The Sower (verse 3) represents the relationship of the church to the different groups of people with which it comes into contact while doing its work. The Tares (verse 24) represents the relationship of the church to the wicked one and his agents.

Second Pair: The Mustard Seed (verse 31) represents the dynamic growth of the church from small beginnings even while adversaries confront it. The Leaven (verse 33) represents the progress of the church against and despite the contagious outspread of sin.

Third Pair: The Treasure (verse 44) represents the preciousness of Christians to Christ, who can see their hidden value and sacrifices all to possess them. The Pearl (verse 45) represents the preciousness of the church to Christ, who sacrifices everything to acquire it.

Fourth Pair: The Dragnet (verse 47) teaches that the good and evil who intermingle on earth will be completely separated in the judgment. The Householder (verse 52) represents the work of the true minister and teacher who feeds the household of faith from a rich storehouse of essential spiritual treasures.

Taken together, the stories describe the characteristics and dynamism of the church, its formidable obstacles, and its ultimate victory. They show Christ working through His messengers to preach the gospel of the Kingdom between the time of His first and second comings.

The first parable, The Sower, and the eighth, The Householder, are key, the first introducing and anticipating all of the parables, and the last concluding and reflecting back on the whole, stating the church's purpose and duty under the authority of Jesus Christ.

When Jesus finished the first seven parables, He asked His disciples, "Have you understood all these things?" That they understood made it possible for Jesus to conclude with a final parable that reveals the responsibility of the disciples as "scribes" in the church, "instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven" (verse 52). The apostles, and the church Jesus would build, would bring forth a treasure of knowledge and understanding, "things new and old."

Jesus teaches us by the simplicity and shortness of His parables that directness and brevity are effective teaching tools. His method stands in sharp contrast to the involved and lengthy style of some Bible commentators. Jesus gave clear and precise illustrations to which His audience could relate. Farmers listened to pictures of agricultural life. Wives could grasp His word pictures from home life. Merchants could relate to illustrations from the business world that translated into spiritual principles. Jesus also spoke of common civic duties and social events. Portrayals of nature scenes provided Him with analogies with which to express spiritual truth. Jesus used pictures that fit the occasion in a way that preserved their naturalness.

Only Christ's disciples can really understand the true spiritual principles involved in the parables, "because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" (verse 11). They were inspired by His Father in heaven, "[for] all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15), therefore "blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears, for they hear" (Matthew 13:16).

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part One): Introduction



Matthew 13:44

The field is the world (verse 38). The treasure is a symbol of the members of the church. In the Old Testament, God calls Israel His "special treasure" (Exodus 19:5; Psalm 135:4) and "My jewels" (Malachi 3:16-17, margin: "special treasure"). In the New Testament, the apostle Peter states that the elect are God's "own special people" (I Peter 2:9-10). This title was transferred from ancient Israel to spiritual Israel, the church (Galatians 6:16). Since Israel is biblically a type of the New Testament church, the "treasure" in this parable represents the church.

The man hides his treasure in the world. "Hid" is used in a negative sense in the Parable of the Leaven, but the context of the Parable of the Hidden Treasure is positive. Prior to their calling, the individual members of the church are lost, but then they are found (called by God) and hidden again in the world (Ephesians 2:1-7). We were once hidden in the world by default because we were just like the world, but we were not hidden from God. He knew who we were before we were called (Psalm 71:5-6; Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:76; Romans 8:28-29; Galatians 1:15-16; II Timothy 2:19-21).

The man is Christ. Jesus reveals here how He views the world in relation to the church. Instead of glorifying us immediately, He hides us after we are called (John 17:11, 14-18) by physically sending us back into the world. The world camouflages us because we still physically look like the world, but being regenerated members of God's church, we are radically different spiritually. We are set apart or sanctified by God's truth (John 17:17), and the world does not readily notice that we have His truth in our hearts and minds. No longer are we hidden in the world because we conform to it, but for the opposite reason. We are hidden in the world with Christ (Colossians 3:3), and the world recognizes neither Him nor us (see John 1:10).

Jesus gave His all, the ultimate sacrifice—His own blood—His life—for us (John 3:16-17; Acts 20:28). His attitude of joy in doing so shows the genuineness of His self-sacrifice for His treasure (Hebrews 12:2). Even though He had to endure crucifixion, He was elated to redeem or purchase His church—those who would become His bride (Revelation 19:7). Christ reflects His Father in every way, and God is a God of joy. When we receive His Spirit, we also begin to receive His joyous nature as a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22). When we use God's Spirit, joy is produced. As God's elect, we have Christ dwelling in us, and by doing the will of the Father as He did, we can have His joy.

Christ now sits at the right hand of God, continually appearing in the Father's presence, making intercession for us as our Mediator (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 4:14-16; 9:24). Jesus receives great joy from knowing that He is presently in the process of saving the firstfruits of God's Kingdom and will later do the same for the rest of humanity. He maintains His joyous excitement by looking forward to the glorious future of the Family of God and by always doing the will of the Father.

Jesus Christ our Savior found us, a special treasure in the world, and gave His all to call us out of the world and redeem us. He now owns us, and through sanctification, He protects us and hides us from the world.

Martin G. Collins
The Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Six): The Parable of the Hidden Treasure



Matthew 13:44-45

Jesus' frequently uses the words "Kingdom of Heaven," especially in Matthew 13, as in "The Kingdom of Heaven is like..." We should be careful not to be fooled by this. It does not mean "the Kingdom of God when Jesus Christ returns." That is not what Jesus means.

The Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven is not just a future matter, but also a present reality. It is not on earth right now as a government, in the form of a nation or a kingdom, but the Kingdom of God exists. Colossians 1:13 says that we have already been translated into the Kingdom of the Son of His love. The word translated is better rendered as "transferred." This is not the Protestant idea of "the Kingdom of God is within you," but the Kingdom of God does exist. Notice Matthew 12:28: "But if I cast out demons by the spirit of God, surely the Kingdom of God has come upon you." It was present then in the person of Jesus Christ and working.

Mark 12:34 contains another example: "So when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, 'You are not far from the Kingdom of God.' And after that no one dared question Him." In Luke 10, Jesus uses the term in a present-tense situation. The Kingdom of Heaven is something that happens now or can happen now. Jesus is speaking to His disciples, telling them what they are to do when they go out preaching the gospel: "And heal the sick who are there, and say to them, 'The Kingdom of God has come near to you'" (Luke 10:9). This is similar to what He says to the scribe in Luke 17:21: "Nor will they say, 'See here!' Or 'See there!' For indeed the Kingdom of God is among[as it is better translated] you."

These examples show that Jesus taught His disciples that the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven exists now, but it is in a different form from what it will be when Jesus returns and sets up His government. When we yield to God, and when we are accepted by Him as His sons and daughters, as it were, we become citizens of the Kingdom of God. In a sense, then, we all are in the Kingdom of God now.

Nevertheless, we are aiming for that future reality when Jesus Christ comes back and sets His throne upon this earth—when all people will stream to Jerusalem to become part of God's Kingdom. The entire Bible looks forward to this time, but there is a present reality of the Kingdom among His sons and daughters. Paul concurs: "Our citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20); "We are ambassadors for Christ" (II Corinthians 5:20; our allegiance is to Christ, the King of the Kingdom of God); we are "strangers and pilgrims" in a foreign land (I Peter 2:11). Our land is the Kingdom of God. The country we live in is an alien nation. In true members of God's church, the Kingdom of God is already ruling in them. This is what Jesus means when He speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Some scholars want to throw out the word kingdom when it is used this way, feeling that it is a misleading translation. Of course, many of them are Protestants, who look at it from the understanding of "the Kingdom of God is within you." Nonetheless, they believe that the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 13 should be rendered the realm, dominion, or reign of God. He is already our King, reigning over us right now.

Another rendering is a word we should all be familiar with—the sovereignty of God. Have we come under the sovereignty of God? Yes, indeed. We did it voluntarily when we accepted Christ as our Savior. So in this sense, we are in the Kingdom of God, and its rules apply to us.

This is what Jesus means in Matthew 13. He is not doing away with the idea that He will return to this earth and set up His government here after putting down all other government's rule, but He is saying, "Those of you whom I have called out are in the Kingdom of Heaven right now—in a spiritual sense—and you have to live by its rules and fight its enemies. So beware! This is what your life in My Kingdom now will be like."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 1): The Mustard Seed



Matthew 13:44

Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a treasure hidden in a field. One has to work hard to find a hidden treasure, and in the same way, we have to work hard to find and understand God's truths. God wants to know whether we really hunger and thirst for Him. Will we work at it as if our lives depended upon it? In reality, it does!

Pat Higgins
Are We Opening the Door?



Matthew 13:44

What happens next? Christ finds us and hides us again, and what is His reaction? Joy! The same sentiment is expressed in Hebrews 12:2.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 3): Hidden Treasure



Matthew 13:1-53

Matthew 13 contains eight parables of “the kingdom,” and commentators generally interpret them all with the church in view. However, Christ spoke the first four to the multitudes (Matthew 13:2, 34, 36), and the setting suggests that His public teaching better suited the degenerate state of the physical nation than the growth of the yet-to-be-established church. Luke 13:10-20 contains two of the four—the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven—and in that account, Jesus plainly gave them in response to the nation's existing, degenerate belief system.

Whereas Jesus spoke the first four parables to the folk of Judea and Galilee—explaining two of them to the disciples—He told the last four parables solely to the disciples (Matthew 13:36). This suggests Jesus was turning His focus to a different aspect of the reign of God: the spiritual nation that would bear the fruits of the Kingdom—that is, the church.

However, despite the change in audience, the last four parables still connect to the first four, providing positive instruction to the disciples and now the church. We see the close connection in the parables' deliberate structure, which few take into consideration.

As with the rest of God's creation, His Word displays an order and beauty in its organization. The parables in Matthew 13 are arranged in a chiasm (also known as an introversion or epanados), a structure wherein similar ideas are repeated but in reverse sequence. In plain terms, the first and last parables form a pair because they teach about a common theme. Similarly, the second and seventh, the third and sixth, and the fourth and fifth parables form pairs because their respective lessons closely relate. In general, the first parable of each pair, spoken to the multitudes, presents a problem to which the second, spoken to the disciples, provides the spiritual solution.

The term chiasm comes from the Greek letter chi, which we know as the letter X. The pivotal point of the X, and the crux of the chiasm, lies at the intersection. Applying this to the parables of Matthew 13, the decisive truth of Christ's teaching is found in the middle of the chiasm, the Parable of the Leaven (fourth parable) and the Parable of the Hidden Treasure (fifth parable). The previous parables lead up to this pair, and the remaining parables build upon their pivotal understanding.

David C. Grabbe
God's Kingdom in the Parables (Part Three)



Matthew 13:44

A common interpretation of the Parable of the Hidden Treasure holds that the treasure is the church, hidden by God in the world. That interpretation contains a significant difficulty, though: Jesus nowhere teaches that the church of God should be hidden. Rather, in the Sermon on the Mount, He tells His disciples that they “are the light of the world.” He says, “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). He follows this with a second illustration, teaching that the purpose of a lamp is to give illumination, and that a hidden lamp is useless. His conclusion is, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Considering the spectacular founding of the church in Acts 2, it is hard to imagine that the extraordinary events of that day would not have spread like wildfire among untold numbers of people. In Acts 17:6, the people in Thessalonica, some 1,000 miles from Jerusalem, say that the apostles had “turned the world upside down.” News of God's power through His servants had spread far and wide; the church was not hidden. As Paul told Festus and Agrippa, “This thing was not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26).

Paul writes in Colossians 1:23 that the gospel had been “preached to every creature under heaven.” While he employs a measure of hyperbole, the fact remains that Jesus did not hide the church once He founded it. The church in Colossae suffered persecution because its members kept the Sabbath and holy days joyfully, which their ascetic neighbors looked down upon.

Wherever Christ's followers emulate Him, they will not be hidden. He told the disciples they would be hated by all for His name's sake (Matthew 10:22; 24:9), showing that the world would be aware of His followers. He also warned them, “The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16:2), speaking of a time when church members are the focus of attention. On a positive note, He also said that their love for each other would cause all people to know that they were His disciples (John 13:35). Finally, if the church is the agent of preaching the gospel in all the world (Matthew 24:14), then it will not be hidden at the end either.

Jesus did not intend the true church to be a large institution, wielding temporal power, so it is not always visible in profane history books. Certainly, the church is not visible to every last person. Yet, wherever God's true people live, they will make a visible witness of God's way of life to their neighbors because the Spirit of our Father generates that witness. But if the assembly of called-out ones is hidden rather than shining as light, it is because it looks too much like the world. Such a state would bring no joy to Jesus Christ.

David C. Grabbe
God's Kingdom in the Parables (Part Three)



Matthew 13:44

In the Parable of the Leaven (Matthew 13:33), what is hidden is a highly destructive element that negatively affects God's realm. In the Parable of the Hidden Treasure, what is hidden is a priceless element that positively affects the realm of God's rule. As we will see, the treasure is an answer to the leaven.

While Scripture shows that “treasure” symbolizes several things, the imagery of hidden treasure has a narrower usage. In Job 28:1-11, Job describes hidden treasure in the form of undiscovered gems and lodes of precious metal. He talks about the effort men put forth to tunnel into the earth for what is valuable, setting the stage to contrast it with something even greater. In verses 12-28, he turns the focus to the superior value of wisdom and understanding, pointing out the impossibility of finding such hidden treasure without God.

In verses 15-19, Job observes that wisdom's value is so great that no man can purchase it. Verses 12 and 21 assert that nobody knows where to look for wisdom or understanding. He concludes by quoting what God says to man: “Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding” (verse 28). Thus, hidden treasure is compared to understanding, wisdom, and the fear of the Lord—a collection of valuables.

Solomon speaks in identical terms in Proverbs 2:4-5: “If you seek her [wisdom; understanding; verses 2-3] as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” Isaiah 33:6 also links wisdom and the fear of the Lord with treasure, and in Psalm 119 the psalmist writes, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. . . . I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure” (verses 11, 162). These verses likewise show wisdom, the knowledge of God, the fear of God, and God's Word symbolized by hidden treasure.

Thus, God likens hidden treasure to a collection of interwoven things: Understanding, wisdom, the fear of God, knowledge of God, and God's Word, all of which are positive and powerful factors in living God's way of life. These are all things God must give, and they are hidden until He gives them. However, we must add one more element to this collection, something interconnected with all these symbolic hidden treasures. The gospels record Jesus finding something that matches this exactly—and it gave Him joy, as the parable describes.

Matthew 8:5-12 records one of Christ's healings. A centurion had approached Jesus to ask Him to intervene for his servant, who was a distance away. Even though Jesus offered to go to his home, the centurion humbly deferred. Notice verses 8-10:

The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”

What Jesus found and caused Him to marvel was faith. Faith is inextricably linked with all the elements Scripture associates with hidden treasure: Faith comes by hearing—by understanding—and that comes by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Faith is based on the knowledge of God and the fear of God, and faith and wisdom meet in right action. Therefore, when God gives a man these hidden treasures, they are all aspects of faith. God-given faith—which includes both trust in God as well as a body of true beliefs—counterbalances the leaven; it is the solution to corrupt belief systems.

David C. Grabbe
God's Kingdom in the Parables (Part Three)



Matthew 13:44

Jesus says that the treasure was hidden in the world. How were we, the church, hidden in the world? In the Parable of the Leaven, the word "hid" was used in a negative sense. Does "hid" have a similar negative connotation here in verse 44?

In the context of this parable, the symbols are almost all positive. First, the man as Christ is positive, but then the world appears, which may not seem all that positive. Yet, next comes "joy" and Christ's self-sacrifice for the treasure. These positive things surround the word "hid." It seems that "hid" is a little more positive than its usage in verse 33. How then is the church hidden in the world? We need to remember that it is hidden in the world before its members' calling.

Notice in verse 44 that the man finds the treasure hidden in the world, and once he finds it, he hides it again. Ephesians 2:1-7 speaks of the less positive of the two hidings:

And you He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Where were we hidden before? In the field, which is the world. How were we hidden? We were hidden because we were just like everybody else. We were dead in trespasses and sin, and we conducted ourselves "according to the prince of the power of the air." We were hidden in plain sight because everybody else was just like us—but we have been found.

Once Christ found us, what did He do? He hid us again. What does this mean? How does Christ hide us after He finds us? John 17:11, 14-18 provides an answer:

Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. . . . I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

How did Christ hide us? By sending us right back into the world! He does not glorify us immediately or put us on a pedestal, but simply returns us into the world. The world hides us, but in a different way after our calling than before it. Though we are no longer of the world, we still look like it. We have not changed much except internally, spiritually. So we go back into the world and live our daily lives, and people fail to recognize us for what we are unless some matter of the truth comes up, as Jesus says in John 17:17: "Sanctify them by Your truth."

In layman's terms this is, "Set them apart by Your truth." The truth we live by—God's truth in us—makes us different from everybody else. To look at us walking down the street, for the most part, we are hidden; we are average Joes. But if a matter of truth suddenly becomes important—say, an issue of the Sabbath comes up that puts us at odds with our boss or teacher—we immediate become different, set apart, separated from them. Of course, our lives should be showing that we are living by God's way all the time, but for the most part, we are hidden from this world's view by virtue of living among them.

The parable does not say that Christ finds us in the field and then hides us somewhere else. It says that He gives up everything He has to buy the field. Christ buys the world because that is where His treasure is—hidden in it but in a slightly different way than when He found it. We are no longer hidden in the world because we are living like the world and committing the sins of worldy people. Instead, we are hidden in the world because we are, frankly, just average people, and unless the truth comes up in the flow of our daily lives, we seem just like everybody else.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 3): Hidden Treasure



Matthew 13:44

The crux—the pivot point—of the chiasm is in the fourth and fifth parables, those of the Leaven and the Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13:33, 44). They both involve something hidden that affects the realm of God's dominion either negatively (the leaven of corrupt doctrine) or positively (the hidden treasure of God-given faith). The fifth parable's hidden treasure solves the problem of the leaven in the fourth parable. The nation's overall problem was a lack of faith, produced by a twisted, demonic belief system that left many citizens in direct opposition to their King and Savior. The solution—the work of God (John 6:29)—was His intervention in the lives of some so they could truly believe.

David C. Grabbe
God's Kingdom in the Parables (Part Four)



Matthew 13:44

Jesus said that the Kingdom would be taken from its current caretakers and given to a spiritual nation with the same faith as Abraham. While Israel, for the most part, was faithless, He found faith in the Gentile centurion. In Deuteronomy 32:20, the pre-incarnate Christ described Israel as “a perverse generation, children in whom is no faith,” but as He walked through the world—through this field (Matthew 13:38)—He found little gems of faith that the Father had hidden.

He declares that the work of God is for people to believe—to have faith—in the One He sent (John 6:29). He says the Father would draw people to the Son (John 6:44-45), and that drawing is the result of the Father giving faith. As Jesus traveled, He encountered some instances of genuine belief—in contrast to the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees—and He rejoiced in the rare faith He found. Thus, in Matthew 11:25, Jesus thanked the Father for hiding things from the world's wise and prudent and revealing them to babes.

When He encountered this kind of faith, Jesus consistently responded by healing or doing some other act of mercy, then He would instruct the faithful person not to tell anyone. In other words, He found faith that His Father had hidden in the “field,” yet He hid it again, just as the parable describes. When a leper came to Him, professing his faith that Jesus could cleanse him, He told him (after the healing), “See that you tell no one” (Matthew 8:4). A little later, He resurrected a little girl after seeing the faith of her parents, charging them to tell no one what had happened (Mark 5:35-43). Similarly, Jesus healed two blind men based on their faith, and then instructed them, “See that no one knows it” (Matthew 9:30). All these events, plus the healing of the centurion's servant, took place before Jesus gave the Parable of the Hidden Treasure, so the disciples could draw upon experience to understand the parable.

This dynamic is especially clear in Matthew 16:13-20, when Jesus asked them whom the people thought He was, and then whom the disciples thought He was. Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and He told Peter that his understanding—that treasure of faith—had been given by the Father. At the end of the conversation, “He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.” They were to keep the matter hidden.

Christ's pattern was to respond to those in whom the Father had hidden faith, then to keep that faith hidden until He had purchased the field—the world. He was willing to buy all humanity for the sake of the few whom the Father had given faith. After His resurrection, the treasure did not need to remain hidden, and the disciples proclaimed to the entire world that Jesus was the Christ.

The time would come when God would reveal what had been hidden, but only after the conditions were right—after He had redeemed the lives of His followers from the power of Satan, so they could not be snatched from His hand (John 10:28-29).

In one of His final prayers, Jesus reports to the Father, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12). This confirms that He was constantly on guard against losing those with faith.

What Christ values is the true faith that only God gives (Romans 12:3). Peter calls it “precious faith” (II Peter 1:1), describing it as “much more precious than gold that perishes” (I Peter 1:7). He treasures the faith that trusts Him to heal blindness, especially our spiritual blindness. He values the faith that trusts Him to make us cleaner than He made the lepers. He esteems the faith that trusts Him to give us spiritual life and eternal life just as He restored the little girl to life. He cherishes the faith that trusts in the overarching spiritual reality of His sovereignty, such that when Christ says to one, "Go," he goes; and to another, "Come," and he comes; and to His servants, "Do this," and they do it.

That faith, trust, or belief is so meaningful to the Creator that He gave up everything to purchase the world so that those with this treasure would become part of His realm. Faith is the basis of the Kingdom “given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matthew 21:43).

David C. Grabbe
God's Kingdom in the Parables (Part Three)



Matthew 13:1-58

An overview of Matthew 13 is essential, because we need to understand the whole context to see what Jesus was trying to get across to us. A particular Bible translation may divide the chapter into only seven parables, but there are eight parables in Matthew 13. Usually the eighth is combined with the seventh parable. In a way, the eighth follows the seventh, but it is a parable in its own right. It should stand alone.

These eight parables can be divided into three sections. The first consists of the first four parables: the Parable of the Sower, the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, the Parable of the Mustard Seed, and the Parable of the Leaven. The second section consists of the next three parables: the Parable of the Hidden Treasure, the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price, and the Parable of the Dragnet. The third section is the last parable, the Parable of the Householder, who takes out of his treasury both old and new.

The titles of these three sections give an idea of what Jesus emphasizes in Matthew 13. We can title the first section "Satan's Plan to Destroy the Church." The second section can be titled "God's Work on Behalf of the Church," what God does to make sure that Satan does not destroy the church. The third section can be titled "The Ministry's Duty to the Church."

Notice the comment Matthew makes following the first section. In Matthew 13:34 is an explanation why the first four parables can be titled "Satan's Plan to Destroy the Church":

All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world."

What was kept secret from the foundation of the world? Satan's plan to destroy God's plan of salvation, which He is fulfilling through the church.

Matthew 13:34 applies specifically to what Jesus had just said, but it also applies generally to all the parables. Through them, Jesus opens up matters that have been concealed from the foundation of the world. In Psalm 78:2, it does not say, "I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world." Instead, it says: "I will utter dark sayings of old," providing another clue that what Matthew 13:34 refers to in respect to the first four parables is dark. Jesus is speaking of dark mysteries, dark things happening. These can only be Satanic things, bad, negative things inspired by the Devil.

What Jesus spoke before verse 34 is primarily negative, not positive, and these negative things have been hidden from man since the foundation of the world. What happened at the foundation of the world? Adam and Eve sinned. That was the first step in Satan's plan—"Get them while they're young"—and he has been doing the same thing ever since. Jesus touches on this in the first parable.

So, in the first half of this chapter, Jesus is saying, "Look, My disciples, this is the plan that you must fight against. If you understand what is in these parables, you will have a pretty good idea of what is happening spiritually."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 1): The Mustard Seed



Matthew 13:44

These two parables are somewhat similar. There is a man and a treasure, and after he finds it, he goes and sells everything he has and buys the treasure. These two parables are universally thought to be positive parables, unlike the first four.

We have already interpreted two of the symbols found in verse 44—"the field" and "the man." We find in verse 37 that the one who sows good seed is "the son of man." Wherever the term "man" shows up in these parables, it tends to mean "Christ." The "Son of Man" is obviously Christ, and "man" in these two parables is also Christ. In verse 38, Jesus says the field is "the world." In these parables, "treasure" is found in the world, and a "man," Christ, is doing something with it.

How is "treasure" used in Scripture? Obviously, the literal meaning of "treasure" is what first comes to mind: Jewels, gold, silver, other precious metals, art, and fine clothing would be considered "treasure." But this is a parable, and a parable is metaphorical. The symbol must mean something other than just a jewel, a chest full of coins, or a collection of fine art. How is "treasure" used metaphorically in the Bible?

In Exodus 19:5, God says that if Israel "will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people." Psalm 135:4 says, "The LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure." Notice also Malachi 3:16-17:

Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. "They shall be Mine," says the LORD of hosts, "on the day that I make them My jewels."

The margin on "My jewels" is literally "special treasure."

We see the same thing in the New Testament. I Peter 2:9-10 says:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

Notice the progression of identity here. First, this "special treasure" was Israel, the one God made a covenant with on Mount Sinai. In the Psalms, He calls His "special treasure" specifically "Israel" and "Jacob." In Malachi, God describes His "special treasure" as "those who fear His name" and "those who speak one to another" about His way. In I Peter 2 it is the elect are His "special people." It has gone from "Israel," to a little bit more general—"those who fear His name"—to specific again—"His special people, a holy nation."

In Matthew 13, the "treasure" is the church, which fits all of these descriptions. It is spiritual Israel, "the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16).The church is composed of those among all the people of the earth who truly fear His name. And because God called us out of the world separately and individually, the church is now a people who were not a people.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 3): Hidden Treasure



Matthew 13:44

Acts 20:28 and John 3:16-17 show that the pruchase price for the field, the world, was His own blood—His all. So what is the lesson in the Parable of the Hidden Treasure? Our Lord and Savior, finding the treasure of His elect in the world, conceals and protects them against all the depredations of the enemy. Our being hidden is the protection part. He, with His own life's blood, redeemed us with joy.

This should give us great confidence in our spiritual battles. The greatest battle has already been won, and that is not all. Since we are His treasure, and since He hides and protects us, sanctifying us through His truth—and do not forget that He prayed for our protection from the evil one—we have it better than it seems. We have more going for us than we might think, despite the spiritual battles we still have to fight.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 3): Hidden Treasure


 
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