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Bible verses about Parable of the Sower and the Seed
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Among the parallel accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, weeds are defined as: 1) The cares of this world, which one commentator calls "anxious, unrelaxing attention to the business of this life." 2) The deceitfulness of riches—not wealth in itself, but its drawing power, its allure. Abraham, Joseph, Solomon, Job, and others of God's people show that He has blessed many with wealth. But it takes tremendous diligence and character to handle riches. 3) The pleasures of this life. The delights which worldly prosperity allows us to enjoy, in themselves, may be innocent. But do they draw off so much of our attention, so much of our time, that little remains for spiritual things?

When the sower threw the seed among thorns, he did not throw it on poor soil. In fact, it was just as moist and fertile as the good soil! Notice that the "thorns sprang up" after the seed was cast; the weeds were not significant beforehand. But when they "sprang up," they were not cleared away and growth was choked!

Mike Ford
Weeds!


 

Exodus 20:8-11

This generation has a particularly difficult time adjusting from a workday mode to a Sabbath-keeping mode for a number of reasons. One is that life is so fast paced, with so many ways and activities to give our time, our energies, our minds, and our attention to.

This can be seen in the parable of the Sower and Seed in Matthew 13, where the seed falls on stony places. With people whose minds are focused on too many things, the Word of God does not take very deep root. And so, as Jesus says, when persecution or trouble arises as a result of this way of life, then they very quickly turn aside. They have nothing really rooted very deeply in them. They have been giving their time, energy, and all of their talents to something else entirely.

Another thing that we can extract from this same parable is that we have never, in any generation of man, been so close to the creations of man and so distant from the creations of God. We are surrounded by concrete, steel, glass, plastic, rubber, and all of the things that man makes. And we are very rapidly losing touch with the things that God has made.

Our mind tends to focus automatically on what we are surrounded by. Today, we are not walking behind a mule, plowing the ground, and listening to the birds as we plow; or putting seeds in the ground, watching them come up, and eating the products of what God has made possible by His laws and by the fact that He continues to provide for His Creation. He sends the rain, and He brings forth the fruit. If we do not have contact with God's creation, we very quickly begin to have our minds surrounded by other things, and we are then cast adrift because of paying attention to those things.

In addition to that, we have been spiritually trained by this Protestant society not to regard a day as belonging to God, but rather to use time for our own pleasure as though it all belonged to us. And if we have been taught at all, we have been taught the wrong day.

It seems that we do not have enough time for God, even though we literally have just as much time as Peter, James, John, Philip, and all of the ancients besides them. How much time does a working mother have today for a good spiritual life after giving her time and energies to her employer and then returning home and doing her responsibilities there? How much time does a father holding two jobs, or working as much overtime as he can, or working plus going to school at night in order to get ahead (in order to afford all of the finer things of life) have for God? How much energy does this mother and father have at the end of the week?

All of us are pressured and victimized by this insane system that Satan has put together. But few of us have much excuse for not using Sabbath time in the way that God intended that it be used.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 4)


 

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

The counsel Solomon gives provides specific insight into the evils these people were committing. He says in verse 1, “Draw near to hear.” In verse 2, he advises, “Do not be rash with your mouth,” as well as, “let not your heart utter anything hastily before God” and “let your words be few.” In verse 3, he states, “A fool's voice is known by his many words.” Finally, back in verse 2, he counsels humility, “for God is in heaven, and you on earth.” Whatever they were doing was more serious than it appeared on the surface.

His initial counsel involves hearing. Jesus says in Matthew 13:8-9: “But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” He gives the same sobering admonition in Matthew 13:41-43:

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, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

The first command to hear lies in the Parable of the Sower and the second in the Parable of the Wheat and Tares. Both have the same urgent sense and end with exclamation points, emphasizing urgent seriousness. The instruction on hearing in the Parable of the Sower is quite clear. Consider these factors in what Jesus said: The seed is the Word of God, so what the sower cast was good. In addition, the human soil the seed fell upon was also good.

However, one factor is still beyond the sower's power. The soil, that is, the person the seed fell on, has the power to allow or reject the seed's taking root by choosing to listen or not. That singular choice is of particular importance at this point in the parable. The same conclusion is true in verse 43 concerning the hearer choosing the Lake of Fire or the Kingdom of God. When Jesus uses the term “hear,” He means more than just hearing audible sound; we also “hear” as we read His Word. He is thus emphasizing that people have the power to shut off hearing completely even though the Word of God enters their ears or their eyes and He has opened their minds to grasp it. It is the individual's responsibility to hear, consider, and then accept or reject it.

Mark 4:23-25 contains the same urgent warning, but he adds an additional truth that is important to us, a second lesson:

“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” And He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

The lesson is that, not only must we first consciously turn on our hearing to be converted, but we must also selectively choose from among all we hear and thoughtfully accept or reject. In others words, we must discipline ourselves to be selective in order to grow, overcome, and glorify God.

Why are these elements of our conversion so important? Romans 10:16-17 provides a condensed foundational reason: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, 'LORD, who has believed our report?' So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Hearing may well be our highest responsibility in our relationship with God because we must live by faith (Hebrews 11:38), and faith begins and is sustained by hearing. Hearing is serious business for the children of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Six): Listening


 

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 13:1-53

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 13:3-8

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 13:4

The seed represents the Word of God communicated in various ways: in writing, preaching, and acts of divine intervention. Understanding the gospel comes only by the power of the Holy Spirit; without this spiritual power, the hearer is susceptible to having the knowledge of God stolen by Satan, the accuser and tempter.

God's Word sometimes falls on the ears of people whose heart is calloused by sin, on whom it makes no real impression. Like seed on a hard-packed road, it is consumed before it ever has a chance to develop. Such hardened people soon lose interest in Christ's good news and continue in the ways of the world.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Sower


 

Matthew 13:5-6

Not all who are intrigued by God's Word are chosen by Him (I Corinthians 1:26; John 6:44; Matthew 22:14; Luke 13:23-24). The stony ground represents those who hear the gospel and feel intrigued and excited by it because it is new or interesting, yet they have no depth of understanding. Since they have not changed their minds or repented, they are not true Christians. Seeing no sin in themselves, they do not realize the true value of Christ's sacrifice. Not having internalized God's truth as a personal conviction, when they face trials and persecution, they fall—as a rootless seed shrivels before the scorching of the sun.

These people suffer anxiety from sin, and when they hear God's offer of mercy, they seem to respond properly. God's truth offers them peace of mind, pardon from sin, and salvation with eternal life. Since they think they are forgiven, their anxieties seem to disappear, and they feel a temporary peace and happiness. However, they have no foundation for permanent joy. Their gladness soon subsides, as does their desire to live righteously. Without appreciation for Christ's sacrifice and conviction to resist temptation, trial and persecution causes them to fall away. All they ever had was mere excited human emotion, an insufficient motivation to sustain a person throughout the long process of conversion.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Sower


 

Matthew 13:5-6

The stony ground represents those who hear the gospel and feel titillated by its truth. Though their senses are excited, they have no depth of understanding'no rich soil in which it may take root and grow. While suffering anxiety from sin, they respond to the attractive offer of God's mercy. The truth offers them peace of mind, pardon from sin, and salvation with eternal life. Believing they are forgiven, their anxieties seem to disappear, and temporary peace and happiness fill their lives, but they have no foundation upon which to support permanent joy. Their gladness soon subsides, as does their desire to live righteously. They begin to fade from God's truth because they have no real appreciation for Christ's sacrifice or the conviction to resist temptation or to endure trial and persecution. Because they exhibit no true repentance, it becomes evident that they are not true Christians. Excited, human emotion carries them for a time, but it cannot sustain them through the long process of conversion.

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


 

Matthew 13:7

In Matthew 13, Christ gives us the Parable of the Sower and the Seed in which the sower throws his seed on four types of ground. In verse 7, the seed falls among thorns. Thorns are nothing more than prickly weeds. In the Bible, seventeen different Hebrew and Greek words are used to describe weeds, though they are often translated as "thorns," "thistles," "briers," and the like.

What do weeds do? They choke, entangle, and steal. They hinder fruit from maturing. They may not necessarily stop growth, but they can slow it down to the point that fruit never ripens. The spiritual parallels are evident.

Mike Ford
Weeds!


 

Matthew 13:7

Jesus is not saying that the cares of this life and riches are intrinsically evil; they are neutral. However, involvement in or pursuit of them may be easily overdone and cause great spiritual loss. He is warning people with too many interests. The most important interests, the spiritual ones, almost invariably get crowded out.

Even a person heavily involved in charitable works may be misusing time (Luke 10:40-42). Another may be so intent on his business that he is too tired to study or pray effectively, or for that matter, to think of anything else. Such a person—one who should heed Jesus' warning—has allowed other things to control his life.

In many cases, our worst enemies are not the obviously bad things, but the necessary and even the good things which we allow to be overdone. In athletics, is not the second best athlete always the strongest enemy of the first? So it is in prioritizing. Much of the time, our chief problem is a lack of commitment to the highest priority; we allow the secondary priorities to steal time from the primary one.

Consider the man in the parable of Luke 12:20-21:

But God said to him, "You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?" So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

He was a fool because he did not have enough understanding and character to know when enough is enough. In his lust for more, he burned up his time on lower priority concerns and neglected building character.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Simplify Your Life!


 

Matthew 13:7

The thorny ground represents those who are consumed by the cares and anxieties of this physical life and the deceitful enticements of wealth. The constant pressures of ordinary life—providing for our needs, education, employment, social duties, etc.—can be distracting, causing us to ignore God and Christian growth.

The desire for wealth magnifies this distraction (I Timothy 6:7-11). Wealth is enticing but never yields the expected rewards; it promises to make us happy but, when gained, does not. Further, in pursuing wealth, we are tempted to be dishonest, cheat, oppress, and take advantage of others.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Sower


 

Matthew 13:7-8

The thorny ground symbolizes those who become consumed by the anxieties of this physical life and the deceitful enticement of wealth. The constant pressures of everyday life?providing sustenance, maintaining employment, seeking education, performing social duties, etc.?can be distracting, causing Christians to ignore God and spiritual growth.

The desire for wealth magnifies this distraction. It is enticing but yields the expected rewards: It promises to make us happy, but when gained, leaves us spiritually empty (I Timothy 6:7-10). The temptation and pursuit of wealth produces bad fruit: dishonesty, stealing, oppression of the poor, and taking advantage of others.

The good ground corresponds to those whose hearts and minds are softened by God's calling and receive it genuinely. They are a rich and fine soil?a mind that submits itself to the full influence of God's truth (Acts 22:14; Ephesians 4:1-6). The called of God not only accept His Word?the message of Jesus Christ?as rich soil accepts a seed for growth, they also bear much fruit (John 15:5, 8).

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


 

Matthew 13:8

The good ground corresponds to those whose hearts and minds are softened by God's calling and receive it genuinely. It is a rich and fine soil—a mind that submits itself to the full influence of God's truth (Acts 22:14). They not only accept God's Word—the message of Jesus Christ, as rich soil accepts a seed for growth—they also live by it and bear fruit (Ephesians 4:1-6).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Sower


 

Matthew 13:18-23

So often, it is easy to let down in our thinking, assessing that, because we believe we are members of the church, we can relax in our conduct and spiritual growth. Perhaps we regard ourselves as automatically chosen, that we “have it made.” That is dangerous thinking! Our emphasis, especially now as the times worsen, must be on working to make sure we are chosen.

The Parable of the Sower both warns and advises us on the course of our lives once we hear “the word of the kingdom” (verse 19). As Jesus explains, some never get beyond mere hearing of it, and Satan does his dirty work to keep them in the dark. These people, though technically called, will likely rise in the second resurrection, when they will be able to respond to God without Satan's interference.

In verses 20-21, Jesus describes those who receive God's Word “with joy,” but they lack depth—their spiritual roots are so shallow that they are easily withered by adversity. Upon encountering their first trial, they fold like a cheap suitcase. For example, some, facing the prospect of losing a job because of keeping of the Sabbath, rationalized that God would not want them to fail to support their families and so left the church, considering God's way to be too difficult.

Another group appears in verse 22: those in whom “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word.” Some among us in former days partook of a slice of success in this world, and their wealth and position eventually became more important to them than doing what God asks of His people. They, too, spurned their calling. We read of similar people in the Parable of the Wedding Feast, who declined the king's invitation to care for their farms or businesses.

Such a person becomes distracted by the world and chooses to prioritize God, not first, but further down the list. Because he does not spend time with God or thinking about His way, he stops growing. As Jesus puts it, “He becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). In other words, he quits producing the kind of character growth God wants to see in him. His transformation into the image of Christ comes to a standstill.

Matthew 13:23 describes the group we must be in to be chosen: “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.” The ones whom God commends are those who bear fruit. They do this by overcoming their old sinful natures, seen in the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), and growing in the traits of their Savior, seen in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

This bearing of fruit is the requirement of being chosen, as Jesus explains in John 15:1-8. Notice verses 1-2: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch that does not bear fruit He takes away [margin: lifts up; or removes, cuts off]; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” He ends the passage by saying, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (verse 8).

What happens when one of the called fails to bear fruit? In verse 6, Jesus expands on what He said in verse 2: “If anyone does not abide not in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” The unfruitful branch's ultimate end is the Lake of Fire. We fail to produce spiritual fruit at our eternal peril!

The important question is “Now that we have been called, are we producing the fruit that glorifies God, transforming into the image of Jesus Christ?” (Romans 12:2). If we do this, we will indeed be among the chosen—the elect—and glorified with Christ.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Many Are Called, Few Are Chosen


 

Matthew 13:22-23

In Matthew 13:22-23, the only difference between the seed sown among weeds and the seed sown on good soil is in the action of the hearer. Both heard the Word, but only one acts on what he hears. Think about this. The seed sown on good soil could easily be overcome and choked out by weeds if action were to become inaction. What if spiritual laziness sets in?

What would happen if, say, a man has a vegetable garden and next to this garden is a small patch of kudzu? He cannot spray it with a herbicide because of the danger of it drifting onto his plants. What should he do? He must go out every day to monitor the situation and take whatever action is appropriate. Perhaps he needs to cut the kudzu back, or maybe it will be okay for another day.

The point is that the gardener must stir himself to be diligent. What happens if he tries to manage the kudzu from his bed or from the easy chair in front of his television? In a few weeks, he would go out to pick some red, ripe, juicy tomatoes and find that, not only does he not have any tomatoes, but he does not even have a garden!

The biblical term for someone who is spiritually inactive, or even asleep, is Laodicean! What Revelation 3:14-18 describes as a Laodicean is nothing more than a Christian choked by weeds. The Laodicean knows that kudzu is out there, but his attitude is lethargic. "I'll get to it later," he says. "My favorite show is coming on!" The Laodicean says in verse 17, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing." What did Christ say the weeds were? The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the pleasures of this life!

Every day we have to "hoe" our spiritual garden. Prayer and Bible study we all understand about—we know how necessary they are to Christian growth. But we need to go even further and fight, root out, the weeds. Is that television show, novel, movie, or sportscast an entanglement? Are we spending too much time trying to "make it" or "get ahead" or "keep up with the Joneses"? Do we allow ourselves to become easily sidetracked by "little things"? While sleeping late instead of getting up early to pray, is kudzu creeping over our fruit?

Ask yourself, "Am I asleep?" If you know you are not asleep, ask, "Am I coasting?" You may find that you have allowed other pursuits to crowd out higher, spiritual priorities. If so, you need to wade into your overgrown garden and begin pulling out weeds by the fistful.

Mike Ford
Weeds!


 

Matthew 13:22

Here we see a picture of seed being sown in a field that is plowed but not weeded. This represents a person hearing God's Word, but then that Word is allowed to be pushed out by the cares with which he is involved.

All of us during our time in God's church have known of some who have left the church. One man decided it was more important not to pay his taxes and to fight that crusade than it was to stay in God's church. So he left, and his pursuit actually smothered him. Jesus says that the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches "choke." The Greek word for choke means "to smother." When a person is smothered, oxygen begins to leave the brain, and soon one cannot function or even think.

We live in the "end of the age." At this tumultuous time, we have the accompanying pressures - and the "escapes" from those pressures - all around! This world is designed by Satan. This end time is designed to produce brain failure where God is concerned!

We had an old man in the Garden Grove church, a fine man. Every time someone would leave the church, he would ask, "Why did so-and-so leave the church?" The minister, for a while, thought that he was simply being nosy. But the old man replied, "No, I just wanted to find out why they left so I will not make the same mistake."

A very good friend, a "brother" with whom I had "sweet counsel" together for many a year, transferred back East to work in a large mine. He was promoted and continued to advance in the company. Soon thereafter, the company became more important than the church - and he left it!

Two great mental assassins prowl around in our day. The first is being heavily in debt. Sometimes that just happens and one cannot help it. The second is the entertainment industry. One causes constant worry of how one will pay the bills, and the other leads one to wrong thoughts, actions, and principles because these are constantly offered to us as entertainment.

Commentator Adam Clarke writes:

Man is anxious over worldly cares with the delusive hopes and promises of riches. This causes man to abandon the great concerns of the soul and seek in their place what he shall eat, what he shall drink, and wherewithal he shall be clothed. It is the dreadful stupidity of man thus to barter spiritual for temporal good - a heavenly inheritance for an empty portion.

This, of course, should make us think of Matthew 6:33 - "Seek first the Kingdom of God." If there is ever a Bible passage that directs us to keep our lives simple, this is it!

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Don't Take God for Granted


 

Matthew 13:24-25

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 13:24-30

As Jesus says, the field is the world, in which He has established His church. The church is not of the world (John 17:14), but within it, just as a farmer may designate a specific plot of his land, separated from the rest, for a particular, unique crop.

However, Satan the Devil has also been at work, sowing his own seeds within the field. Using fragments of God's truth, Satan has founded false religions and counterfeit Christianities that preach distortions of truth. Like the tare that grows masquerading as the wheat, members of these false churches may appear good, pious, and very generous. Worldly Christians may possess a seemingly good heart and act with fine intentions, but when the top layer of goodness is peeled back exposing their core, they reveal deceived hearts lacking understanding or true love.

Further, the world's churches are in constant rebellion against God, refusing to keep His commandments and rejecting the absolute authority of His words. The world's ministers even pervert the Word of God with infusions from such pagan religions as Buddhism, Hinduism, or other mystic or New Age faiths. Through syncretism and false doctrine, these churches accomplish the will of their evil father: deceit and destruction (see John 8:44).

Satan's malignant influence is not felt only within the world. He has planted his own seeds, sowing false brethren and even ministers within the very church of God. However, as Christ reveals in this parable, God permits this intrusion of well-camouflaged counterfeits. Tares in God's church will appear religious and devout, with no obvious warning-flag identifying them to unsuspecting church members.

Ted E. Bowling
Taking Care With the Tares


 

Matthew 13:37

The sower is Christ Himself. God calls (John 6:44), but He draws them to Christ. He is the Agent by whom the sowing is done.

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


 

Matthew 13:51

The first and last parables in Matthew 13 are key parables. The first, the Parable of the Sower, introduces and anticipates the whole series of parables, and the last, the Parable of the Householder (Matthew 13:51-52), concludes and reflects on them. When Jesus finishes giving the first seven parables, He asks His disciples, "Have you understood these things?" They reply, "Yes." Their comprehension allows Jesus to give one more illustration to reveal their responsibility as scribes being instructed on the subject of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Martin G. Collins
The Parables of Matthew 13 (Part Eight): The Parable of the Dragnet


 

Matthew 24:36-39

The thrust of Jesus' message is clear beyond question. He is concerned that when He returns, people will be so focused on—and thus distracted by—the secular concerns of life that they will be unprepared for the climactic events of His return. His concern is enhanced by three parables that follow this section, each dealing with the state of urgency and readiness we need to have as that time approaches.

Why would a Christian not be prepared as the end nears, when we should know full well that we are close? The answer is fairly obvious. Those caught in this "pre-flood syndrome" have their minds on something else.

The Parable of the Sower and the Seed addresses this clearly: "Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world . . . choke the word" (Matthew 13:22). "The cares of this world" catch the people's attention as the "flood" begins and contribute to their deterioration.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Flood Is Upon Us!


 

2 Timothy 2:19-21

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


 

James 3:17-18

These two verses give direct and specific reasons why peace is such a great benefit toward spiritual prosperity.

"Wisdom" indicates influence of heavenly origin, that is, from God. Its effect on the mind is to make it pure and chaste, not more imaginative or intelligent. Its purpose is to make the person upright, inoffensive, and good, then peaceable, etc. It disposes a person to live at peace with others. By itself, it corroborates Jesus' statement that He is willing and able to give a peace unlike the world's, a state of being not native to man.

If a person is of a pure spirit, then peace tends to follow. First, this occurs because a pure-hearted person is at peace within himself. He is therefore not self-righteously, self-centeredly, and discontentedly seeking to impose his will and way on others to control their lives. Such a person will not induce conflict.

Second, the pure-hearted person will follow Paul's advice, which he gave in two places. Romans 14:19 says, "Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another." Hebrews 12:14 adds, "Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord." It is very difficult for people to have conflict with others who will not fight! This does not mean that we should make peace at any cost by denying truth. We can remain faithful to truth without going to war, though it might appear costly at the moment. Jesus—and many others—did it.

James goes on to say that this approach to life's relationships produces the fruit of righteousness. This phrase could mean that what is produced as a fruit is righteousness, but it can also mean the fruit that righteousness produces. The latter is preferable. The fruit of the Spirit is the fruit the Spirit produces. The fruit of repentance is the change repentance produces in one's manner of living and attitude. Some of the fruit of righteousness are the qualities James mentions in James 3:17. Righteousness is therefore the seed from which these things grow.

But a seed needs the proper conditions to germinate, grow, and produce fruit. Regardless of how good a seed is, if the conditions are not right, this process will be hindered, and it will bear poorly. The Parable of the Sower and Seed in Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 shows this clearly. Peace is the proper condition for the fruit of righteousness, and peacemakers are the green-thumbed gardeners. Growing a good crop demands the right conditions for good seed.

So important is peace to the Christian's spiritual prosperity that God will permit a marriage to be broken by divorce where there cannot be peace. I Corinthians 7:15 says: "But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace."

Divorce is usually preceded by a fairly long period of contention. It is warfare on a small scale. Living in an environment of warfare right in the home contributes little to growing in the image of the loving God of peace. It forces one to focus on himself, and at worst, it is entirely possible God will lose the person involved in such a contentious circumstance. At the very least, growth will be slow and minimal.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Peace


 

 




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