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Bible verses about Seed as Metaphor
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 3:15

As in the previous verse, the figurative sense overshadows the literal. True, women and snakes are bitter enemies, but the real hostilities are spiritual - between Satan and the woman, a symbol of the church (see Galatians 4:21-31; Ephesians 5:22-32; etc.).

Some ask, "If this is so, how can Satan, who cannot reproduce, have 'seed'?" The answer, again, lies in the spiritual realm. Paul says in Galatians 3:26-27, 29:

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. . . . And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

No matter what their racial makeup, members of God's church become Abraham's spiritual descendents because, as Jesus says, "Abraham's children . . . do the works of Abraham" (John 8:39). Jesus goes on to explain that Satan has spiritual offspring also:

But now you [those in Jesus' audience] seek to kill Me. . . . You do the deeds of your father. . . . You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. (verses 40-41, 44)

Satan's seed are those who do Satan's will in rebellion against God.

In Ephesians 6:10-12, Paul writes of this enmity between seeds:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Genesis 3:15 prophesies of this spiritual war between God's people and Satan's.

"Seed" in verse 15 is collective (like "team" or "family"), but the following pronoun, "He," is singular. As Christ's body (Romans 12:5; I Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:22-23), we are included as participants in the "enmity." However, the subjects of the "bruising" clauses are strictly Christ and Satan, the two leading opponents in the battle.

Paul also uses "Seed" in a singular sense in writing of Christ as "Abraham's Seed" in Galatians 3:16: "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many, but as of one, 'And to your Seed,' who is Christ." Revelation 12:5 illustrates the connection between the woman and the Seed:

And she [the woman] bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and to His throne.

Interpreting itself, the Bible shows that the singular "Seed" of the woman is indeed the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part One)


 

Genesis 3:15

The King James and New King James versions translate the "bruising" clauses word for word without making the sense obvious. Other translations render the verb as "wound," "crush," "strike," or "attack." The New International version provides a more descriptive translation: "He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." The difference is in degree of wounding: Crushing a snake's head destroys it, rendering him powerless, if not dead (see Hebrews 2:14); a snake's strike on the heel, though painful, is minor by comparison.

Another way to look at the comparison focuses on the site of the wounding, the head as compared to the heel. The serpent's wound affects the seat of his intellect and control of his powers, whereas the Seed's wound merely impairs His flesh for a short while - three days and three nights, to be exact.

These bruisings also carry on the theme of humiliation expressed in the preceding verse. The crushing of the serpent's head is understood to be by the heel of the Seed ("He will bruise and tread your head underfoot" - Amplified Bible), so the figure of being "under the heel" of the Messiah is present. This is a common biblical illustration of subservience, submission, and mortification (I Kings 5:3; Lamentations 3:34; Malachi 4:3; Romans 16:20; I Corinthians 15:25; etc.)

Like the symbol of the "Seed," the wounding of the Messiah is another theme that crops up frequently in Scripture. In Numbers 21:8-9, God commands Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole so "that everyone who is bitten [by the fiery serpents], when he looks at it, shall live." Later, Jesus points to this as a type of His crucifixion, by which He spiritually heals our "serpent bites" (John 3:14-15).

In the Psalms, David writes of the Messiah's wounding: "For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16:10). Psalm 22 prophesies of Christ's reviling, scourging, and death, showing that, rather than being an end, the Seed's wounding extends God's purpose to every generation! Many other Psalms repeat this theme (Psalm 31:5; 34:20; 41:9-12; 49:15; 69:7-9, 19-21; 109:1-5; etc.).

Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12, the well-known "Suffering Servant" section, contains the very detailed prophecy of Christ's suffering and death. It explains that He, though sinless Himself, endured these ignominious afflictions as a result of our sins. In His wounding, Christ pays the penalty for all sin and qualifies to replace the serpent as ruler over the earth. This, of course, becomes the central theme of the entire New Testament, repeated in some form by nearly every writer.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part One)


 

Matthew 13:3-8

When the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God is preached in all the world as a witness (Matthew 24:14), the ears that hear it are not always receptive of this priceless knowledge. In the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-8, 19-23; Mark 4:3-9, 14-26; Luke 8:4-8, 11-15), Jesus reveals why, using three component elements: the sower, the seed, and the soils.

This parable describes what happens after the seed is sown, the different types of soils on which it falls, and the resultant effects. The parable's focus is not on the sower as much as on the various soils. Nevertheless, the sower—Jesus Christ (Matthew 13:37)—is not incidental, for without Him there could be no sowing and thus no possibility of fruit being produced.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Sower


 

Matthew 13:3-8

A farmer places seed in the ground so it will sprout and bear fruit. Some seeds fall on hard ground that the plow has not turned. Here, the seed cannot sink into the soil, and the birds easily find and devour it.

Some seeds fall on stony places, where there is little or no soil for the roots to take in sufficient nourishment for the plant. Initially, they appear to grow quicker because, with less soil to grow through, it does not take them as long to reach the surface. When the sun grows hot, however, the sprouts wither away, the result of insufficient root systems.

The seeds that fall among thorns—in a part of the field where the thorns and shrubs had been sloppily cleared but not removed—are crowded, shaded, and choked by debris.

The seeds that fall on fertile and rich soil produce a crop that varies in its yield. It is common to produce a hundred, sixty, or thirty grains for each one that is sown. Some strains of wheat will produce a crop twelve or fifteen hundred times the original amount of seed sown.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Sower


 

Matthew 13:3-9

The seed is the Word of God, and its hitting the ground is not the end of the story. A variety of things can happen that will affect the growth of that seed. Some might fall on stone, others might be buried too deep. Rain may come and wash away some of it. Birds may devour others. But because life is in the seed, something will happen.

In the last century, archeologists found wheat and cotton seeds in some of the burial chambers that they excavated. Those seeds—which were probably anywhere from 2,000-4,000 years old—grew when put into the right soil. The spirit of life was still in them, even though they had lain dormant for thousands of years.

This is dramatic confirmation that, if a seed is sown, it will do something when it lands in the right kind of soil. Jesus shows in this parable that the environment affects the seed's growth. When we make the proper application—people are the ground, and our environment and what we do after receiving the seed—the word of truth, containing the doctrines—is what affects its growth. In this analogy, growth represents sanctification, which is the formation of God's image in us by living His way of life empowered by His Spirit. What we do with the seed is "work[ing] out [our] salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). It is the equivalent of rain, sunshine, weeding, fertilizing, so that the potential for fruit is the greatest. Sanctification is worked out through application, by living the doctrines and the truths of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 5): Ephesians 4 (B)


 

Matthew 13:3-9

In the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-9, 19-23; also Mark 4:3-9, 14-20; Luke 8:4-8, 11-15), Jesus reveals why those who hear the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God are not always receptive in the same way. People who are called have their minds opened, the Holy Spirit enabling them to take it to heart, yet many see its surface value but do not internalize it. The parable illustrates the church's relationship to the different groups of people with which it comes in contact.

Jesus uses three components—the sower, the seed and the soils—to indicate the differences. His story shows the fate of the sown seed, the different types of soils on which it fell, and the resulting effects. Though Jesus names it "the parable of the sower" (Matthew 13:18), the subject matter sheds particular light on the diverse soils. Nevertheless, the sower does not play a minor role in the parable, since without Him no sowing would occur, without which there would be no possibility of fruit. However, the sower represents a group, as well as Jesus Himself (Matthew 13:37). The language suggests any typical sower, so God's ministers may be considered sowers of the gospel as well. The Parable of the Sower is essential because it introduces and anticipates the whole series of parables in Matthew 13.

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Two): The Parable of the Sower


 

Matthew 13:3-8

A farmer places seed in the ground so it will sprout and bear fruit. Some seeds fall on unplowed, unturned, hard ground. This type of soil does not allow the seed to sink in, and the birds easily find and devour the seed.

Stony ground, having little or no soil, has insufficient nourishment for seeds to root and grow into a healthy plant. Initially, they appear to grow quicker because, with less soil to establish a root system, they expend their energy in producing the stem and leaves. When the sun grows hot (representing the light of God's truth exposing them, or trials and persecution testing them), however, the sprouts wither away, the result of inadequate root systems.

Fertile and rich soil provides nutrients for the seeds to produce a crop that varies in its yield. It is common for crops to produce a hundred, sixty, or thirty grains for each one sown. For example, some strains of wheat will produce a crop twelve or fifteen hundred times the original amount of seed sown.

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Two): The Parable of the Sower


 

Matthew 13:19

Jesus clearly says that the seed is "the word of the kingdom" (verse 19). It is what He plants in us to draw us out of this world and gives us an opportunity for salvation. It is the truth, the knowledge of God, the gospel, the whole counsel of God. It is described by many different terms.

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


 

Matthew 13:38

Jesus calls says that "the good seed" are "the sons of the kingdom." But does this not contradict what He said in the first parable—that the seed was the Word of God or the knowledge of God? No, because the word "seed" has been modified in both of these occasions.

What is a seed? An apple tree produces apples, and in the middle of an apple is a bunch of little seeds. What does the seed do? The seed is the means by which an apple tree reproduces itself, and by it the tree expands its domain, as it were. We have to substitute kingdom for apple tree to understand the analogy here.

In the parables, Jesus gives the disciples the symbols' narrow meanings. He says, "The seed is the word" and later it is "the sons of the kingdom." This is not a contradiction, for the overall meaning is the same. The seed is the product of the plant, and the seed is also the means by which the plant is reproduced. Now with this meaning, the meaning of seed fits both the word of God and the sons of God; both the word and the sons are means by which the Kingdom grows, expands, and reproduces.

In this particular parable, the good seed represents the members of God's church, and the members of God's church are the means by which the Kingdom will grow throughout the whole earth. Christians are just the kernels, the beginnings, the "itty bits" that God starts with.

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


 

1 Corinthians 15:35-37

When a person sows a seed, a seed does not pop right back out of the ground. What comes out of the ground—a living plant—is different from what is put into it. This becomes the illustration to describe the resurrection from the dead: What goes into the coffin—or into the ground—is not what comes out.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace and Law (Part 13)


 

1 Corinthians 15:37-38

We probably do not consider seeds as having bodies, but in Paul's analogy, they do.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)


 

James 3:18

For the seed which one day produces the reward which righteousness brings can only be sown when personal relationships are right and by those whose conduct produces such relationships. (James 3:18; William Barclay's Daily Bible Study)

In this verse, James is talking about a social situation. God's purpose - the fruit that He wants from His way of life, the kind of character that He wants in us - has to be produced in peace. It cannot be produced in war.

Why it cannot be produced in war is obvious. When one is involved in war, he is thinking only of himself, which runs 180 degrees counter to God's nature. God's nature is outgoing. When one is engaged in war, all one is seeking to do is to preserve the self. For God's purpose to be fulfilled to the very best degree, peace is required.

The seed, which one day produces the reward that righteousness brings, can only be sown when personal relationships are right, and by those whose conduct will produce such relationships.

Jesus says that peacemakers will be the children of God, not those who butt others aside, aggressively trying to get to the top, asserting themselves, their will, and their ideas in every circumstance, angling to be the big shot. "Out of my way, buddy. That is my beat." Those people, by implication, will not see God.

This is why God will permit a divorce. Does He not say through Paul in I Corinthians 7:15, "If the unbeliever departs, let him depart"? The believer "is not under bondage in such cases" because "God has called us to peace." God will permit a divorce so that a person can be saved due to the subsequent peace. In a family in which a war rages between a husband and wife, it is possible that God may lose both of them.

When those who butt and disturb the flock are present, the flock will not prosper. The shepherd has to ensure that there is peace, freedom from fear from the outside, freedom from tension within, and freedom from aggravation. (We even use the term "bug," which is what insects do to sheep: They irritate them to no end so they cannot gain weight and are discontented.) The shepherd must also make sure there is freedom from hunger - a congregation, a flock, will prosper if it is being well-fed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 23 (Part 1)


 

 




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