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Matthew 13 with Scofield notes
(Matthew 13 is inspired, the notes aren’t – yet they are very helpful)

The parables of Matthew 13 are called by our Lord, "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" (13:11), taken together, they describe the result of the presence of the Gospel in the world during the present age, that is, the time of seed sowing which began with our Lord's personal ministry, and ends with the "harvest" Matthew 13:40-43. Briefly, the result is mingled tares and wheat, good fish and bad, in the sphere of Christian profession. It is Christendom.


13:1-3  The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

Sower - parable

The figure (a sower) marks a new beginning. To labor in God's vineyard Israel, Isaiah 5:1-7 is one thing, to go forth sowing the seed of the word in a field which is the world, quite another (Matthew 10:5). One fourth of the seed takes permanent root, but the result is "wheat"; Matthew 13:25; 1 Peter 1:23 or "children of the kingdom" Matthew 13:38. This parable (Matthew 13:3-9 Matthew 13:18-23) is treated throughout as foundational to the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. It is interpreted by our Lord Himself.

13:4-11  and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:  some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:  and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.  And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:  but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.


A "mystery" in Scripture is a previously hidden truth, now divinely revealed; but in which a supernatural element still remains despite the revelation. The greater mysteries are:

  1. The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven Matthew 13:3-50.
  2. The mystery of Israel's blindness during this age Romans 11:25 (in context);
  3. The mystery of the translation of living saints at the end of this age 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 .
  4. The mystery of N.T. church as one body composed of Jew and Gentile Ephesians 3:1-11; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 4:3.
  5. The mystery of the church as the bride of Christ Ephesians 5:28-32.
  6. The mystery of the indwelling Christ Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:26; Colossians 1:27.
  7. The "mystery of God even Christ," i.e. Christ as the incarnate fullness of the Godhead embodied, in whom all the divine wisdom for man subsists Colossians 2:2; Colossians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 2:7.
  8. The mystery of the processes by which godliness is restored to man 1 Timothy 3:16.
  9. The mystery of iniquity 2 Thessalonians 2:7; Matthew 13:33.
  10. The mystery of the seven stars Revelation 1:20.
  11. The mystery of Babylon Revelation 17:5; Revelation 17:7.

13:12-17  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.  And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:  for this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.  But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.


The O.T. prophets saw in blended vision the rejection and crucifixion of the King and also His glory as David's Son. But "what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow," was not revealed to them--only that the vision was not for themselves. 1 Peter 1:10-12 . That revelation Christ makes in these parables. A period of time is to intervene between His sufferings and His glory. That interval is occupied with the "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" here described.

13:18-19  Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

13:20-24   But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.  He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

Good Seed Parable

This parable (Matthew 13:24-30) is also interpreted by our Lord Matthew 13:36-43 . Here the "good seed" is not the "word," as in the first parable, but rather that which the word has produced. 1 Peter 1:23, viz.: the children of the kingdom. These are, providentially "sown," i.e. scattered, here and there in the "field" of the "world" Matthew 13:38 . The "world" here is both geographical and ethnic--the earth-world, and also the world of men. The wheat of God at once becomes the scene of Satan's activity. Where children of the kingdom are gathered, there "among the wheat" (Matthew 13:25 Matthew 13:38 Matthew 13:39). Satan "sows" "children of the wicked one," who profess to be children of the kingdom, and in outward ways are so like the true children that only the angels may, in the end, be trusted to separate them. (Matthew 13:28-30 Matthew 13:40-43). So great is Satan's power of deception that the tares often really suppose themselves to be children of the kingdom (Matthew 7:21-23). Many other parables and exhortations have this mingled condition in view. Examples are: Matthew 22:11-14 ; Matthew 25:1-13 Matthew 25:14-30 ; Luke 18:10-14 ; Hebrews 6:4-9

Indeed, it characterizes Matthew from Chapter 13 to the end. The parable of the wheat and tares is not a description of the world, but of that which professes to be the kingdom. Religious unbelievers are so called See: Matthew 13:38 ; John 8:38-44 ; Matthew 23:15.

13:25-30  …but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.  But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.  So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?  He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?  But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.


The gathering of the tares into bundles for burning does not imply immediate judgment. At the end of this age ( Matthew 13:40 ) the tares are set apart for burning, but first the wheat is gathered into the barn. Ref: John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17.

13:31  Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:

Mustard Seed -parable

The parable of the Mustard Seed prefigures the rapid but unsubstantial growth of the mystery form of the kingdom from an insignificant beginning Acts 1:15; 2:41;1 Corinthians 1:26 to a great place in the earth. The figure of the fowls finding shelter in the branches is drawn from Daniel 4:20-22 . How insecure was such a refuge the context in Daniel shows.

13:32-33  which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

leaven -parable

That interpretation of the parable of the Leaven which makes (with variation as to details) the leaven to be the Gospel, introduced into the world ("three measures of meal") by the church, and working subtly until the world is converted ("till the whole was leavened") is open to fatal objection:

  1. It does violence to the unvarying symbolical meaning of leaven, and especially to the meaning fixed by our Lord Himself. Matthew 16:6-12; Mark 8:15 See "Leaven," Genesis 19:3.
  2. The implication of a converted world in this age ("till the whole was leavened"), is explicitly contradicted by our Lord's interpretation of the parables of the Wheat and Tares, and of the Net. Our Lord presents a picture of a partly converted kingdom in an unconverted world; of good fish and bad in the very kingdom-net itself.
  3. The method of the extension of the kingdom is given in the first parable. It is by sowing seed, not by mingling leaven. The symbols have, in Scripture, a meaning fixed by inspired usage. Leaven is the principle of corruption working subtly; is invariably used in a bad sense (see "Leaven," (See Scofield "Genesis 19:3") ), and is defined by our Lord as evil doctrine. Matthew 16:11 Matthew 16:12; Mark 8:15 . Meal, on the contrary, was used in one of the sweet- savor offerings Leviticus 2:1-3. and was food for the priests Leviticus 6:15-17 . A woman, in the bad ethical sense, always symbolizes something out of place, religiously, See Scofield Zechariah 5:6. In Thyatira it was a woman teaching (cf).; Revelation 2:20; 17:1-6. Interpreting the parable by these familiar symbols, it constitutes a warning that the true doctrine, given for nourishment of the children of the kingdom; Matthew 4:4; 1 Timothy 4:6; 1 Peter 2:2 would be mingled with corrupt and corrupting false doctrine, and that officially, by the apostate church itself; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 2:17; 2 Timothy 2:18; 2 Timothy 4:3; 2 Timothy 4:4; 2 Peter 2:1-3.

Leaven - Summary:

  1. Leaven, as a symbolic or typical substance, is always mentioned in the O.T. in an evil sense Genesis 19:3, (See Scofield "Genesis 19:3") .
  2. The use of the word in the N.T. explains its symbolic meaning. It is "malice and wickedness," as contrasted with "sincerity and truth" 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, it is evil doctrine (Matthew 16:12) in its three-fold form of Pharisasism, Sadduceeism, Herodianism; Matthew 16:6; Mark 8:15. The leaven of the Pharisees was externalism in religion. Matthew 23:14; Matthew 23:16; Matthew 23:23-28; of the Sadducees, scepticism as to the supernatural and as to the Scriptures Matthew 22:23; Matthew 22:29 of the Herodians, worldliness--a Herod party amongst the Jews; Matthew 22:16-21; Mark 3:6 .
  3. The use of the word in Matthew 13:33 is congruous with its universal meaning.

13: 34-38  All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto 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.  Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.  He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;




world/kosmos refers to mankind and to some degree the system man seeks to make, independent from God (ed).

13:39  The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.


Satan. Br. diabolos, accuser. See note, Matthew 16:23; Genesis 3:1; Revelation 20:10

13:40-43  As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;  and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.


The kingdom

The kingdom does not become the kingdom of the "Father" until Christ, having "put all enemies under his feet," including the last enemy, death, has "delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father" 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Revelation 20:2 . There is triumph over death at the first resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:54; 1 Corinthians 15:55) but death, "the last enemy," is not destroyed till the end of the millennium. Revelation 20:14 .

13:44  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.


The interpretation of the parable of the treasure, which makes the buyer of the field to be a sinner who is seeking Christ, has no warrant in the parable itself. The field is defined (v. 38) to be the world. The seeking sinner does not buy, but forsakes, the world to win Christ. Furthermore, the sinner has nothing to sell, nor is Christ for sale, nor is He hidden in a field, nor, having found Christ, does the sinner hide Him again (cf) Mark 7:24; Acts 4:20. At every point the interpretation breaks down.

Our Lord is the buyer at the awful cost of His blood 1 Peter 1:18, and Israel, especially Ephraim Jeremiah 31:5-12 Jeremiah 31:18-20 the lost tribes hidden in "the field," the world (v. 38), is the treasure; Exodus 19:5; Psalms 135:4 . Again, as in the separation of tares and wheat, the angels are used; Matthew 24:31; Jeremiah 16:16. The divine Merchantman buys the field (world) for the sake of the treasure (v. 44) Romans 11:28,beloved for the fathers' sakes, and yet to be restored and saved. The note of joy (v. 44) is also that of the prophets in view of Israel's restoration; Deuteronomy 30:9; Isaiah 49:13; 52:1-3; 62:4-7 Isaiah 65:18 Isaiah 65:19 .

13:45  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:

pearl - parable

The pearl is the true Church, "one body" formed by the Holy Spirit 1 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13. As Israel is the hid treasure, so the Church is the pearl of great cost. Covering the same period of time as the mysteries of the kingdom, is the mystery of the Church; Romans 16:25; Romans 16:26; Ephesians 3:3-10; Ephesians 5:32. Of the true Church a pearl is a perfect symbol:

  1. A pearl is one, a perfect symbol of unity 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:12 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:4-6 .
  2. A pearl is formed by the accretion, and that not mechanically, but vitally, through a living one, as Christ adds to the Church Acts 2:41; Acts 2:47; 5:14; 11:24; Ephesians 2:21; Colossians 2:19 .
  3. Christ, having given Himself for the pearl, is now preparing it for presentation to Himself Ephesians 5:25-27. The kingdom is not the Church, but the true children of the kingdom during the fulfillment of these mysteries, baptized by one Spirit into one body, these persons compose the true Church, the pearl.

13:47  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:

the kingdom of heaven

The parable of the Net (Greek - daimozomai -net) presents another view from that of the wheat and tares of the mysteries of the kingdom as the sphere of profession, but with this difference: there Satan was the active agent; here the admixture is more the result of the tendency of a movement to gather to itself that which is not really of it). The kingdom of heaven is like a net which, cast into the sea of humanity, gathers of every kind, good and bad, and these remain together in the net (v. 49) and not merely in the sea, until the end of the age. It is not even a converted net, much less a converted sea. Infinite violence has been done to sound exegesis by the notion that the world is to be converted in this age. Against that notion stands our Lord's own interpretation of the parables of the Sower, the Wheat and Tares, and the Net.

Such, then, is the mystery form of the kingdom. It is the sphere of Christian profession during this age. It is a mingled body of true and false, wheat and tares, good and bad. It is defiled by formalism, doubt, and worldliness. But within it Christ sees the true children of the true kingdom who, at the end, are to "shine forth as the sun." In the great field, the world, He sees the redeemed of all ages, but especially His hidden Israel, yet to be restored and blessed, Also, in this form of the kingdom, so unlike that which is to be, He sees the Church, His body and bride, and for joy He sells all that He has 2 Corinthians 8:9 and buys the field, the treasure, and the pearl.

13:46-55  who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:  which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.  So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,  and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.   Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.  Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?  Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?  And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?  And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.