In part 1 of this post we consider the parables of the Kingdom of Heaven (and particularly the mystery truths about God’s Kingdom Program). Now we shall consider the the nine parables of Matthew 13:1‑53 (so also the parallel Mark 4:1‑34 and Luke 8:4‑18).
The New Testament contains four types of parables: simile (e.g. A is like/as B; I am sending you as sheep among wolves), metaphor (A = B; I am the door, I am the gate of the sheep, and I am the true vine); similitude (the transference from common knowledge, based upon what people normally do), and story‑type (transfer of truth from a specific incident based upon what happened).
The Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:3‑9, 18‑23; Mark 4:3‑9, 14‑25; Luke 8:5‑8, 11‑15)
This parable teaches that the age of the Mystery Kingdom will be characterized by the sowing of the gospel seed. It is marked by different responses to the seed that is sown and makes four points. 1) The Age of Christendom is characterized by the sowing of the gospel seed. This age extends from the time Jesus was rejected in Matthew 12 until He will be accepted in the ending days of the Great Tribulation. 2) This age will be marked by different preparations of the soil and 3) opposition from the world, the flesh, and the devil. 4) This age will be marked by four different responses to the Word, which are emphasized by the first parable. Yeshua expounded on this first parable in Matthew 13:18‑23.
- Those Who Fall by the Wayside (Matt 13:19): Those who fall by the way side are those who never believed the gospel in the first place.
- Those Who Fall on Rocky Places (Matt 13:20‑21): Those who fall on rocky places are those who hear the gospel, believe it, accept it and are saved. However, they are never rooted in the Word of God, so they are never stabilized in their spiritual life.
- Those Who Fall Among the Thorns (Matt 13:22): Those who fall among the thorns also believe, however, they never seem to be able to overcome the cares of the world. As a result, they, too, are not stabilized and also do not produce the kind of fruit they should.
- Those Who Fall on the Good Ground (Matt 13:23): Those who fall on the good ground are the ones who believe and are rooted in the Word of God. They overcome the world and, as a result, they are productive in their spiritual life.
The Parable of the Seed Growing of Itself (Mark 4:26‑29)
This parable teaches that the seed sown in the first parable will spring to life of its own accord. It has an inner energy that will inexplicably regenerate and produce eternal life in the believer. How is it possible that a simple gospel message, containing only three points – that Yeshua died for our sins; that He was buried; and that He rose again on the third day – can result in regeneration? That is the mystery!
The Parable of the Tares (Matt 13:24‑30, 36‑43)
This parable makes four points. 1) The true sowing of the first parable will be imitated by a false counter‑sowing. This tare looks very much like genuine wheat. 2) As a result of the sowing of the two types of seed, there will be a side‑by‑side development of the wheat and the tares. 3) Only the judgment at the end of the Mystery Kingdom will separate the two, the good seed (= believers brought into the Messianic Kingdom), and the bad seed (= unbelievers). This is the same as the judgment of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31‑46. 4) The essential character of each type of sowing can ultimately be seen either by fruitfulness or by fruitlessness.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matt 13:31‑32; Mark 4:30‑32)
This parable makes two points. 1) There will be an abnormal, external growth of this Mystery Kingdom until it becomes a monstrosity. 2) This monstrosity will become a resting place for birds. Yeshua said that the understanding of the first parable is the key to understanding all the others. In the first parable, the birds were agents of Satan. These birds represent various pseudo‑spiritual movements within Christendom, such as the various cults that use Messiah’s name, but deny His deity.
The Parable of the Leaven (Matt 13:33)
This parable also makes two key points. 1) There will be false religious systems introduced into the Mystery Kingdom Program. 2) This will result in the corruption of doctrine. In this parable, a woman takes three measures of meal. Frequently, a woman used symbolically is a symbol of a false religious system and results in spiritual fornication (Rev. 2:20; 17:1‑18). When the word leaven is used symbolically, it is always a symbol of sin (1 Cor. 5:6‑8), frequently the specific sin of false doctrine (Mat. 16:6, 11‑12). The three measures of meal in which the leaven is hidden point to the fact that Christendom eventually develops into three major divisions: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. All three, to a greater or lesser degree, will have false doctrine.
The Parable of the Hidden Treasure (Matt 13:44)
This parable is an Old Testament symbol of Israel (Ex, 19:5; Deut. 14:2; Ps. 135:4). The word treasure, when used symbolically, represents Israel. This parable teaches that there will be a Remnant that will be saved out of Israel; there will be Jews coming to Jesus the Messiah during the period of the Mystery Kingdom.
The Parable of the Pearl (Matt 13:45‑46)
While the Bible reveals that the treasure in the sixth parable represents Israel, it does not state anywhere exactly what the one pearl of great price represents. However, when it is used symbolically, the implication is that it represents the Gentiles for two reasons. First, it would provide the corollary contrast with the Jews of the previous parable, because the Mystery Kingdom includes both Jews and Gentiles. Secondly, the pearl originates in the sea, a common symbol of the Gentile world (Dan. 7:2‑3; Rev. 17:1, 15). The main point of the seventh parable is that Gentiles will also come to a saving knowledge of Yeshua the Messiah.
The Parable of the Net (Matt 13:47‑50)
This parable makes three points. 1) The Mystery Kingdom will end by the judgment of the Gentiles. 2) The righteous will be brought into the Messianic Kingdom. 3) The unrighteous will be excluded. What Jesus said in parabolic form here, He spelled out in detail in Matthew 25:31‑46.
The Parable of the Householder (Matt 13:51‑52)
This parable teaches that some aspects of the mystery form of the Kingdom have similarities with other facets of God’s Kingdom Program, while other aspects are new and not found elsewhere.
 This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.