Matthew: The Parable Of The Tares Of The Field

Memory Verse: Matthew 13:41-43

13:24a, b, 36, 43 The Kingdom Of Heaven

  • 13:24a Jesus started using parables—simple stories to illustrate spiritual truth when explained (or hidden when not explained)—to teach the multitudes. He told them the parable of the sower and then He explained the spiritual truth to His disciples. After He finished explaining the parable to them He put forth another parable to the crowd.
  • 13:24b Jesus starts this parable with “the kingdom of heaven is likened unto…” meaning that the following parable is going to help us understand truth about the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven has a twofold meaning: (1) Chiefly, it refers to God’s rule over the life of believers. It means that Jesus’ purpose is to establish God’s kingdom in the hearts of mankind. (2) Subsequently, it foreshadows the future eternal state when all believers will live in the eternal kingdom of God. Therefore, the following parable will help us understand more about both of these aspects.
  • 13:36, 43b After Jesus told this parable (and two others) to the crowd, He sent the multitudes away and went into a house. Parables without explanation conceal truth, but with explanation they reveal truth. Therefore, Jesus’ disciples came to Jesus because they wanted to know the meaning of the parables. They wanted to understand the truth the parables were meant to reveal. (Do you desire truth?) They asked Jesus to declare unto them the parable of the tares of the field. Then Jesus continues to reveal to them its spiritual truth and ends his explanation with: “who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Therefore, let us pay attention to the truth that Jesus is going to teach us.

13:24c The Parable Of The Tares Of The Field And Its Explanation

  • 13:24c, 37 The Sower—Earthly meaning: A sower (a person who scatters seeds on the ground) sowed good seed in his field (scattered good seeds for future growth). Spiritual meaning: The sower of the good seed is the Son of man, who is Jesus. Application: Jesus is actively working today to establish God’s kingdom in the hearts of mankind.
  • 13:24d, 38a The Field—Earthly meaning: The field is a cultivated piece of ground where grain is grown. Spiritual meaning: The field represent the world or the hearts of all of mankind. Application: Jesus isn’t constrained to a certain group of people but He desires to establish God’s kingdom in the hearts of all mankind all over the world.
  • 13:24e, 38b The Good seed—Earthly meaning: The good seed is the specific seed of the plant (wheat) he is panting without it being mixed with the seeds of weeds or other plants (tares). Spiritual meaning: The good seed are the children of the kingdom or those who are true believers. Application: These people have received and believed the gospel. Their lives bear fruit of being a believer. Their lives are ruled by God and they are defined by their relationship to Him. Are you a true believer?
  • 13:25a, 28a, 39 The Enemy—Earthly meaning: While the sower and his servants slept his enemy came and sowed tares (weeds) among the wheat (good seed) and then went his way. Spiritual meaning: The enemy that sowed the tares is the devil. Application: The devil hates God and desires to do harm to His work. He will always have a counterfeit to what God is doing so that he can try to prevent God from accomplishing His will.
  • 13:25b, 38c The Tares—Earthly meaning: The tares are a plant that looks like wheat but is not. It is a weed that is only distinguishable from wheat when the “ear” appears. Spiritual meaning: The tares are the children of the wicked one or those who are false believers. Application: Throughout the world there are false believers mixed in with real believers. There are many religions who appear to be good. There are many people who claim to be Christians but are not. None of these people have repented of their sins and put their faith in Jesus. God does not reign within their hearts. They are not part of God’s kingdom.
  • 13:26-30a The Problem—Earthly meaning: When wheat and tares are planted together you can’t tell the difference when the blade springs up. Meaning during the early stages of growth you can’t tell the difference between the two plants. Only when they are grown and bring forth fruit can you tell the difference. Therefore, when they were grown they discovered what their enemy had done. The servants wanted to go and gather up the tares, but the householder told them not to because they risked uprooting the wheat also. Instead the householder told them to let them both grow together until the harvest because at that time the wheat would be ready to be gathered also. Spiritual Meaning: This is part of the parable, but Jesus gives no specific spiritual meaning to it. Application: We could assume that until the final judgment, unbelievers and believers will coexists.
  • 13:30b, 39-43 The Harvest—Earthly meaning: The harvest was the time to gather in the crops. First, the reapers would gather together the tares and bind them together to be burned. Second, the wheat would be gathered separate and put into the householder’s barn. Spiritual meaning: The harvest is the end of the world or the time of final judgement. The reapers are the angels. Jesus (the Son of man) will send them to gather those who never repented and trusted Him (all things that offend, and them which do iniquity—their sins condemn them) and will cast them into eternal punishment (there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth). Those who have repented and trusted in Jesus (the righteous—their position commends them) will enjoy eternal joy together with God in His kingdom (shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father). Application: There is a decision to make and there are only two choices: Jesus or Satan. Your eternal destination depends on this decision. Thus there is a decision to be made, if you submit to God’s rule, you will live in His eternal joy, but if you reject God’s rule you will endure eternal damnation. Is God’s kingdom established in your heart? Does He rule your life? Have you repented and put your faith in Jesus? Those around you are not be able to see your heart and you can easily fool them, but you can’t fool God—He knows what you really believe.
  • Conclusion: We learn the following about the kingdom of heaven: (1) Only the good seed represents true believers—those whom God rules over their life. The other seed represents those who have some good characteristics but in the end they are shown to be false believers because God’s kingdom was never established in their hearts. Their sin condemns them. (2) Only true believers will live in the eternal kingdom of heaven because they are righteous. God through the death of Jesus forgave their sins and through the resurrection of Jesus made them righteous.
    Romans 4:25

Review Questions

  • What will the parable reveal truths about?
  • What is the parable of the tares of the field?
  • What does the good seed and tares represent?
  • What happens to the good seed and the tares?
  • In the harvest, which side are you on?

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