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What the Bible says about Kingdom of God taken from Pharisees
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 13:1-43

Matthew 13:1-3 show the context and setting for Christ's teaching:

On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Then He spoke many things to them in parables. . . . (Emphasis ours throughout.)

While it is easy to read over these details, they are crucial for grasping Christ's meaning because they show that Jesus spoke the first four parables (the Sower, the Wheat and the Tares, the Mustard Seed, and the Leaven) to “great multitudes.” Verses 34-36 confirm that He preached to the people at large at this point rather than strictly to His disciples:

All these things [the first four parables] 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 kept secret from the foundation of the world.” 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.”

In the first four parables, Jesus is speaking primarily to the physical nation, the remnant citizenry of the earthly Kingdom of God. Even though they could not grasp the parables' full depth, He was still responding to the attitude and approach of the nation shown in the previous chapter, particularly of the leadership that continually rejected the dominion of heaven.

While Christ's teachings apply on multiple levels, it is paramount to grasp the primary meaning before looking for other applications. The complete fulfillment of the Kingdom was far beyond what the folk of Judea and Galilee could comprehend, yet He still spoke to them. The parables were not exclusively for His disciples, just as His prophecy, “The kingdom of God will be taken from you” (Matthew 21:43), was not spoken to His disciples. In short, the King had a message for the subjects of the physical Kingdom that He had established. He was giving them a testimony—a final chance—and when they rejected it, He focused on the budding spiritual nation that had Abraham's faith rather than merely his blood (Galatians 3:15-29).

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

Matthew 13:51-52

The first parable in the chapter concerns the response of people hearing the Word of the Kingdom. Only those who hear and understand it respond in a positive and sustained manner (Matthew 13:23). The eighth parable also hinges on understanding. Jesus prefaces it with the question, “Have you understood all these things?” After the disciples respond that they have, He proceeds with the final teaching of the occasion, the responsibility of “every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven.”

In general, the scribes of Jesus' day were negative figures, despite the office itself being an honorable one. The term “scribe” (or “secretary”) could refer to any official writer. The first usage dates to the administration of King David (II Samuel 8:17). The role of scribe began with those skilled in writing—and more importantly, recording accurately—but it took on additional significance under Ezra, “a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given” (Ezra 7:6; emphasis ours). Because the scribes were responsible for accurately copying the Scriptures, they knew well what the Scriptures said. They thus became teachers of the law.

The gospel writers frequently group the scribes with the Pharisees and priests because they had become part of the apostate religious leadership of Christ's day. They also frequently opposed Jesus and His teaching, as human traditions had infused their learning and methods of interpretation. Those who should have known the Scriptures best—and recognized the Scriptures' Author and Object—were as unseeing as the other religious leaders.

Jesus does not apply the eighth parable to all scribes but specifically to those instructed in things related to the Kingdom. To paraphrase this parable, every teacher of God's instructions who is a disciple of the Kingdom is like the head of a family—the master of a house—who “brings forth” out of his “treasure”—or more properly, out of his “treasury” or storeroom. What is this treasury? This parable builds on the previous chapter, where Jesus castigates the Pharisees for their blasphemous words in attributing His power to Satan. Jesus responds, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things” (Matthew 12:35).

The Pharisees had generated evil things—blasphemy—from their treasuries, their hearts. In contrast, a scribe who is a true disciple of the Kingdom will deliver good things out of his heart. These things will be “new and old.” What is in view are new things in terms of character or quality (kainos). For instance, the New Covenant is not new simply in terms of time (neos) but is of a completely different—higher—quality than the preceding covenant with Israel (Hebrews 8:6-7).

Therefore, the disciple-scribe will bring forth from his heart—from his God-given understanding—both what has come before and what is new in clarity and righteous application. This reinforces Jesus' earlier declaration that He had not come to destroy or abolish the law but to fulfill it by demonstrating its intent in His life (Matthew 5:17-19). After His resurrection, He “opened [the disciples'] understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45; see also verse 27). With inspired understanding, the disciple-scribe will maintain the instruction given in the “Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44), but he will also distill its intent.

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


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