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Matthew 13:18-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Seed and Soil

Matthew 13:18-23 – Parable of the Seed and Soil

|| Mark 4:13-20; Luke 8:11-15

MT13:18 “So, you [disciples], listen [to the meaning] of the parable[1] of the Sower. MT13:19 Anyone hearing the kingdom message[2] and failing to understand,[3] the Evil One[4] comes and steals[5] those things sown in the heart[6] – this is the seed sown beside the road. MT13:20 Now, the seed sown on the gravel – this is a person who at first hearing accepts [the message] with joy.[7] MT13:21 But, because of having no inner roots nothing lasts,[8] for as soon as oppression or persecution[9] occurs because of the message[10] the person stumbles.[11] MT13:22 Now, the one sown among thorns – this is the person who hears the message[12] but the anxieties of that Period[13] and deceptive riches[14] choke the message[15] and the person is unproductive.[16] MT13:23 However, the seed sown in good soil – this is the person who hears the message and understands and actually is productive:[17] one person a hundred times, another person sixty times, and another thirty times.”

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[1] Listen [to the meaning] of the parable: Or, WEY: I will explain the parable. Evidently only directed to his disciples.

[2] Kingdom message: TCNT: the Message of the Kingdom; KNX: the word by which the kingdom is preached. This is the “word” (LOGOS) about the Realm of Heaven: the opportunity for membership within the realm of profession.

[3] Failing to understand: Or, NJB: without understanding; KIT: not comprehending; NWT: does not get the sense of. It is difficult to accept that the literal words carry the exact meaning. It is possible the Nazarene’s intent is: ‘hearing the message without attempting to understand it.’ Mark 4:15 omits the part about failing to understand. Luke 8:12 merely has “heard.”

[4] Evil One: The Greek is PONEROS. Or, KJV: wicked one.

[5] Steals: The Greek is HARPAZEI which means to “snatch” or “grab.” Or, GDSP: robs him; KJV: catcheth away; ASV: snatcheth away. The word is related to that one in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and the Rapture. Compare also Philippians 2:6.

[6] Things sown in the heart: GDSP: sown in his mind. Something has germinated but likely this person only shows a cursory interest without the inner person being moved to further effort. There is an initial interest but for a variety of self-rationalizations the kingdom theme does not strike a cord in the heart.

[7] At first hearing accepts [the message] with joy: Or, KJV: and anon with joy receiveth it; TCNT: at once accepts it joyfully; MOF: with enthusiasm. There is some follow through by this person who hears and “receives” the kingdom message – but without conviction. Luke 8:12, “they may not believe and be saved.” There may be a degree of interest resulting in joyful gladness. How far this disciple matures is not explained (Luke says there is no belief) but it appears this is a neophyte about to face realities.

[8] Having no inner roots nothing lasts: Literally, this may read: “but he has no root in himself but is transitory.” (UBSInt) Or, KJV: hath not root in himself; GDSP: takes no real root; NEB: strikes no root. Whatever initial joy the person had in the kingdom message no serious effort was forthcoming to cause the “word” to take hold. Some take up Christian discipleship but within a short time run out of enthusiasm. “Nothing lasts” may also be rendered: KJV: dureth for a while; TCNT: stands for only a short time; RIEU: he cannot hold out long. Mark 4:15 has it, “they continue for a time.” And, Luke 8:12, “they believe for a season.” The Christian walk is not a sprint but a marathon. It has been observed that many Christians “last” only three years before slowing down with some grinding to a halt. Consider word studies on endurance.

[9] Oppression or persecution: The Greek for “oppression” is THLIPSEOS (Matthew 24:20, 21) and here related to “persecution.” Or, WEY: when suffering comes. Luke 8:13 has this, “a season of testing.” From the very beginning Christianity knew only persecution and oppression. Despite the joy of accepting the kingdom message the high cost of discipleship takes its toll.

[10] Because of the message: The reason for the oppression or tribulation is not that caused by Life itself. The difficulties are related to the kingdom message.

[11] The person stumbles: Or, KJV: is offended; WEY: turns against it; MOF: at once repelled; RIEU: promptly recants; NOR: at once gives it up. The Greek is SCANDALIZETAI. Luke 8:13 has it, “they fall away (or, stand off).” A word study, stumble or stumblingblock.

[12] Hears the message: This disciple listens but will come against other problems.

[13] The anxieties of that Period: The Greek may also mean “overly concerned.” The word “period” is rendered from the Greek AIONOS which is also rendered: KJV: world; RHM: age; TCNT: life. Each age or period of human history and existence has its own particularly anxieties or concerns. Those of Jesus’ period may not be the same as in the modern period. On the matter of anxiety or being overly concerned see notes on Matthew 6:20-33. GDSP: the worries of the time. Luke 8:14 has it, “by being carried away by anxieties.”

[14] Deceptive riches: Or, KJV: the deceitfulness of riches; TCNT: the glamour of wealth; LAM: the deception caused by riches; MOF: the delight of being rich; RIEU: the lure of riches. The word “rich” describes that person with a surplus and the leisure time that goes with it. Jesus uses the words often and it is worthy of a word study on rich, riches, or, money. The word “rich” is also an interesting one to explore in an unabridged dictionary. Compare 1Timothy 6:17-19. Luke 8:15 adds, “pleasures of this life.” And, Mark 4:18 includes, “the desires for the rest of the things.” (Compare 1 John 2:15-17)

[15] Choke the message: Or, strangle, smother; BAS: put a stop to.

[16] The person is unproductive: Or, KJV: unfruitful; TCNT: it gives no return. Compare John 15:1-10; 2 Peter 1:5-8. What fruit or produce is Jesus expecting? Surely the main emphasis is on what a person does with the kingdom message regarding others. It would seem likely that it would also involve “fruitage of the spirit” and its manifestations (Galatians 5:22, 23).

[17] Hears the message and understands and actually is productive: There are three parts here: listening to the kingdom message, achieving some understanding or comprehension, and then bearing fruitage or evidence the message has taken root. Or, TCNT: really yields a return; BECK: goes on producing good things. Note, however, that this production or fruitage is not the same for all genuine Friends of the Nazarene (John 15:14). Like the “widow’s mite” it depends on individuality and circumstances, as well as a heart driven by faith. Perhaps one of the most outstanding examples of producing a hundred-fold is the apostle Paul (Romans 1:13). Paul defines Christian fruitage: Sharing (Romans 15:27, 28; Philippians 1:22); holiness (Romans 6:21); goodness, righteousness, truth (Ephesians 5:9); good work ad knowledge (Colossians 1:10); praise and charity (Hebrews 13:15).

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Preceding

Matthew 5:38-42 – 5. The Nazarene’s Commentary on Exodus 21:24

Matthew 13 – Parables on Kingdom mysteries

Matthew 13:1-9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable: the Soil and the Seed

Matthew 13:10-15 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Why Speak in Parables?

Matthew 13:16-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Happy Eyes and Ears

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Related

  1. Spiritual Plague-the blindness of mechanical religion
  2. Are You Too Busy?

More than just a man with authority of speaking

28 When Jesus finished his message, the crowds were astounded at how he taught. 29 He was instructing them authoritatively, not as their scribes. { translation}

Throughout the Messianic writings we come to hear how Jesus attracted people and how he let them think about the things they could see and hear.

The gospel writer Matthew wants the readers of his writings to know who he had met and why he became clinched so much to this man who he believed to be the sent one from God and the expected King.

The point of Matthew’s narrative is that we realize who Jesus is. He’s the king. He restores heaven’s reign over the earth. That is the gospel — the good news of the kingdom of heaven, with Jesus as heaven-appointed ruler. The culmination of Matthew’s Gospel is the announcement that Jesus has received all authority — in heaven and on earth (28:18-20). {Hearing the king (Matthew 7:28-29)}

It is by those given Messianic Writings people should come to know who Christ Jesus is. Nearly 2000 years later we must say still too many who call themselves Christian have not come to see who the Christ Jeshua really is.

Some of them may already have seen that Jesus is the anointed ruler and the long-awaited king from David’s line. But the majority of Christians still have not understood that Jesus is the sent one from God who restores the promised blessing of God’s reign to the nations (1:1).

More people should come to recognise that Jesus is the son of God who undoes the captivity of earthly powers (1:17). He is the one who received authority from God to be the divine ruler living among his people (1:23), the ruler who seems to be no one from nowhere (2:23). As the king (2:2) he’s the ruler who shepherds God’s people (2:6). From the writings people should come to know that Jesus is Jacob’s Star (2:10), the new exodus (2:15).   notices that is just the first two chapters of Matthew! {Hearing the king (Matthew 7:28-29)}

Every phrase, every paragraph, every story, every theme in Matthew’s Gospel reveals who Jesus is. Like the crowds who listened to his Sermon on the Mount, be astounded as his royal authority dawns on you. {Hearing the king (Matthew 7:28-29)}

In his article Hearing the king (Matthew 7:28-29) he gives an overview of what others say:

Craig Blomberg, Matthew, New American Commentary (Nashville: B & H, 1992), 134–135:

Strikingly, Jesus quotes Scripture in his sermon only to reinterpret it, he cites no human authorities or tradition, and he speaks with directness and confidence that he himself is bringing God’s message for a new era in human history. Such preaching reflects either the height of presumption and heresy or the fact that he was a true spokesman for God, whom we dare not ignore.

R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), 298–299:

To set the authority of his teaching in contrast with that of the scribes is a bold claim, since the scribes were the authorized teachers of the law who in virtue of their training and office had a right to expect the people to accept their legal rulings. … Whereas scribal rulings were based on the tradition of earlier interpreters of the law, Jesus has in 5:17–48 set himself up as an authority over against that interpretive tradition, on the basis not of a formal training or authorization but of his own confident, “I tell you.” … When to that remarkable claim is added Jesus’ assumption that he himself is the proper object of people’s allegiance and the arbiter of their destiny (5:11–12; 7:21–23, 24, 26), the crowd’s astonishment is hardly out of place. W. D. Davies’ comment … “The Sermon on the Mount compels us, in the first place, to ask who he is who utters these words.”

John R. W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7): Christian Counter-Culture, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1985), 216:

In the Sermon on the Mount there are five direct references to God’s kingdom. They imply—though with varying degrees of clarity—that he himself had inaugurated it, and that he had authority to admit people into it and to bestow on them its blessings.

Today Jesus is not here any more, but the apostles took care we can read Jeshua’s words

Richard A. Burridge, Four Gospels, One Jesus? A Symbolic Reading (London: SPCK, 2005), 21:

The gospels invite readers to enter their world, to listen to Jesus’ words, to watch his great deeds, to appreciate their understanding of him, and to ask ourselves the same questions as the people in the text: ‘who is this man?’ (Mk. 4:41)

StGeorgeMonasteryToday lots more people than in Jeshua’s time can hear the words of that incredible special man. Lots more people should come to hear those words about how man has to relate to their Divine Maker. The son of the Divine Maker God explained  his heavenly Father‘s Words and showed us how man can and/or has to respond to the Kingdom message.

Jesus called Israel to become the kingdom built on God — the solid Rock who endures forever, not the shifting sands of human kingdoms that last only for a season. How foolish to spend our lives promoting human powers when all our efforts will be swept away. Instead, spend your life for God’s reign through Messiah Jesus: the only thing that endures. {A rock worth building on (Matthew 7:24-27)}

Jesus is the focus of God’s eternal plan to re-establish His reign over the earth. Our hope should be in Jesus, the son of God, so quit playing politics with earthly powers that will fall. Build all your efforts on the only rock that will last:

the ruler God has appointed, the only one who can save human society.

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Preceding articles

The Nazarene master teacher learning people how they should behave

Matthew 7:1-11 – The Nazarene’s Commentary on Neighbor Love Continued 7: Matthew 7:1-5 Judgment and neighbor love

Matthew 7:12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Summary on the Torah’s Fulfillment

Matthew 7:13-14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #1 The Narrow Gate and the way to destruction

Matthew 7:15-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #2 False prophets and fruitage

Matthew 7:13-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #3 Matthew 7:21-23 The ones Jesus never knew

Matthew 7:13-27 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #4 Matthew 7:24-27 – Conclusion

Matthew 7:13-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #5 Matthew 7:28-29 – The Crowd’s Reaction

Authority from the One God to one mediator between God and men

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Additional reading

  1. Entrance of a king to question our position #2 Who do we want to see and to be
  2. Hearing words to accept
  3. Priest, scribes and others with authority
  4. Gain Christ, trusting Jehovah
  5. Witnesses of Christ and of his gospel
  6. The Mountain: Radical Obedience

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Further reading

  1. By what authority?
  2. “The authority of Jesus” by Thomas Schreiner
  3. MS Week #3: Jesus’ Authority
  4. The Authority of Jesus
  5. Jesus’ Authority
  6. the unique authority of Jesus
  7. The Sermon on the Mount: Examining the Psychological and Sociological Implications
  8. Why Be Optimistic About the Future of the Gospel?
  9. Are You Sure You Want to do This?
  10. The Kingdom Of God: Luke’s Gospel
  11. The Kingdom Needs You!
  12. ​Extremism: Does Lord Jesus Really Expect Us To Go This Far?

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