Article of the Month

May 2008

The Wheat and Tares Parable

 

 

The 13th Chapter of Matthew contains seven parables.  Because of the constant flow of parables, the disciples even questioned Jesus (13:10) as to why he spoke in parables to the multitudes.  His answer is revealing.  He wanted what he was saying to be a mystery to all who were not truly his devoted disciples.  For the two thousand years since, Jesus’ teachings remain mysterious and unclear—even to that great multitude of those who claim his name and call themselves “Christendom.” 

 

The parable we are about to examine is about that very strange phenomenon; his followers were to fall into two distinct groups: 

 

(1)  The “wheat” (true disciples) and

(2) “tares” (counterfeit Christians). 

 

One group was to understand; the other was not.

 

* * * * *

 

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares is one of only two of the seven parables in Matthew 13 which Jesus explains.  It is important to realize, however, that even the explanations are somewhat symbolic—somewhat designed to keep all but the true disciples from understanding.

 

The first parable which Jesus explains is The Sower.  The parable is in Matthew 13:3-9.  Its explanation is in 13:18-23.  The Wheat and Tares parable is in 13:24-30.  Its explanation is in 13:37-43.  It is this parable which draws our focus in this article.

 

THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

 

Many of Jesus’ parables, including this one, begin with the words, “The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto…”  This term, Kingdom of Heaven, is in itself needful of interpretation.  Jesus taught his disciples to pray for the kingdom (Matthew 6:10).  Thus it was to be at some future time.  Yet, (Matthew 3:1-3), John the Baptist virtually suggests that Jesus himself is the kingdom—and that at the very beginning of his ministry.

 

The fact is, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is used in the Bible for three different but related things:

 

(1)  Jesus himself is the kingdom personified.  He IS the kingdom because he is the king.  Even pompous earthly monarchs have used the term this way.  Louis the XIVth of France is famous for his remark:  “The State is me!  With Jesus, the claim is appropriately true; The Kingdom is He!

 

(2)  The Christian-age search for those who will rule with Jesus (Revelation 5:10) is referred to (mostly in parables) as the Kingdom.  This is because this age develops the kingdom rulers.  It is, thus, an EMBRYO or INCIPIENT kingdom.  Many of these parables are not complementary of “the kingdom.”  (See, for example, Matthew 13:33 where the kingdom is like “leaven” which is a symbol of sin!)  Thus, we see a history NOT of the eventual holy kingdom, but, rather, of its painful throes of development.

 

(3)  Finally, there are texts (like Matthew 6:10) which refer to the literal peaceable kingdom soon to come “wherein dwelleth righteousness.”    (II Peter 3:13)

 

 

AN INTERPRETIVE READING         

 

There are many ways to study our way through this parable.  Perhaps, for the sake of brevity, the best approach for this article is re-wording the parable, removing its symbols and replacing them with literal meanings.  For the reader, we suggest an open Bible on one side and this interpretive reading on the other.

 

(13:24)

The slow choosing and development of the disciples for the rulership of the kingdom is like this:

I, Jesus, preached the truth in the religious world, thus attracting sincere disciples.

 

(13:25)

Once my Apostles died, the way was clear for Satan to preach counterfeit doctrines, thus attracting pseudo-disciples.  He did so and just let them develop without any more intervention needed by him.

 

(13:26)

As Christianity began to flourish, it was thus a mixture of true and counterfeit believers.  

 

(13:27)

Jesus’ faithful followers were distressed by the mixture of sincere and nominal believers and wondered before the Lord if they should be actively concerned.

 

(13:28)

Jesus’ words assured them that the distressing mixture was accomplished by the adversary.  This only made the true disciples want all the more to expel the counterfeit element from their fellowship.

 

(13:29)

Jesus, however, warned that they NOT do this because such an attempt would cause a revolution in Christianity which would actually hurt the sincere believers more than if the matter were just left alone.

 

(13:30)

However, Jesus counseled that once the end of the age comes, it WOULD be appropriate to engage in a separating work—but it would be directed by Jesus himself.  He will instruct his true disciples then to engage in a new work—not a work of making new disciples, but rather of constraining the ideas of the counterfeits.  Thus the flood of due truths will hamper the work of the counterfeits and ultimately destroy their faith, while it will complete the faith of the faithful and gather them to their reward.

 

* * * * *

 

JESUS’ EXPLANATION OF THE PARABLE

(Matthew 13:36-43)

 

(13:37)

Let me explain:  I, Jesus, am the one who, by preaching God’s truths, [began the search for those who will reign with me.]

 

(13:38)

The “field” in my parable represents the religious world.  The “good seed” in the parable are my disciples who will reign with me.  The “tares” in the parable are those who chose to believe Satan’s corruptions of truth.  [They are “Christians” only in name.]

 

(13:39)

Satan himself, actively planted the error [to try to frustrate the development of God’s plans.]  The “harvest” in the parable represents the closing of the Christian Gospel Age.  The “reapers” in the parable are my messengers at the end of the age.  [“Angel” is a word which MEANS messenger.]

 

(13:40)

In the parable, you saw the gathering and burning of the tares.  This represents symbolically what I will accomplish at the end of the age concerning the doctrines and associations of false Christianity.  I will BIND them by their stubbornness into their organizations; I will then BURN (destroy) their faith and, consequently, their organizations.

 

(13:41)

I will instruct my message-bearing disciples to spread the truths which will uproot all of the accumulated offending errors as well as expose the religious works of iniquity.

 

(13:42)

I will, with the heat of exposing-truths, destroy the erroneous representations of who I really am.  It will cause immense displays of chagrin, loss, and disappointment among those who thought they were true Christians.

 

(13:43)

Then, with old errors and institutions gone, my true disciples, glorified to reign with me, will shine forth the truths the world has waited for in the completed and functioning kingdom for which all have prayed so long!

 

If you can understand the import of this parable, listen to it with great care.

* * * * *

 

SUMMARY

 

All parables are given to teach lessons.  Some teach morality concepts, some doctrinal lessons, and some teach the meanings of history.  The Wheat and Tares parable teaches that the great religion we have all known as Christianity has, over two thousand years, been more of a representation of Satanic misrepresentations than of the true teachings of Jesus.  It also teaches that NOW, at the end of the age, Jesus has sent a pure, clarifying message designed to SEPARATE those who know his voice from those who prefer the polluted doctrines of Christian tradition. 

 

In the words of Revelation 18:4, “Come out of her, my people.”  If we hear the “angels” of the parable, we will want to hear the rational, satisfying, Biblical truths now available.  We will want to abandon all association with the confusing, God-dishonoring doctrines and institutions of traditional (but nominal) Christianity.  If we can hear the words of this parable, we should hear and act.