Q388 : To Whom are the Parables of Matthew 13 Directed?

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Q388 : To Whom are the Parables of Matthew 13 Directed?

I have a question about the parables Jesus taught on the "sermon on the seashore" in Matthew 13. I understand that the offer of the Kingdom was rescinded in chapter 12, and we see the switch in Jesus's teachings happen in chapter 13.

My question is, are these 4 parables directed specifically at the Jews who rejected the kingdom offer? Or is it applicable to everyone? I guess the question comes down to His definition of the "kingdom of heaven" as being just the kingdom offer from chapters 1-12, or personal salvation for everyone. Any help you could give me I would appreciate. Thanks!

A388 : by Tony Garland

It is my view that the kingdom parables of chapter 13 provide new revelation related to the transition that will take place following the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus, the promised King in the line of David. As such, their primary audience is people occupying the age between the First and Second Coming. I believe this is evident from a number of factors.

One key is found in understanding the important statement made by Jesus following His explanation of the parables:

Jesus said to them,

51 "Have you understood all these things?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord." 52 Then He said to them, "Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old." (Matthew 13:51-52)

What is Jesus getting at? Well, a scribe would be one who would have good knowledge of the Old Testament revelation concerning the kingdom by virtue of having studied and copied the text. This is the "old treasure" — previous revelation concerning the kingdom which did not take in the Church age to follow the rejection of Jesus.

Another key: Jesus refers to the content of His teaching as "mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 13:11) - that is, new revelation - not before revealed. So the parables reveal new information which augments OT teaching concerning the Kingdom. This infers the new revelation extends beyond that which was available from prior revelation. It concerns a time period only intimated at in the OT -a period between the impending rejection and subsequent enthronement of the King - the Church age. Jesus' parable teaching augments the info available from the Old Testament with new revelation: the "new treasure."

Thus we see two aspects of the parables:

  1. They augment Old Testament teaching on the Kingdom
  2. Together with Old Testament teaching which went before, the person who has both the OT and the NT teaching concerning the Kingdom, given by Jesus in the gospels, is equipped to understand all the God intends to reveal concerning the inter-advent age.
Notice common elements implying the passage of time: the "time of the harvest" (v. 30), and "end of the age" (vv. 39, 49). These elements reveal there will be a lengthy period of time during which these parables apply. This is also evident in other elements that relate to an extended period of time: growing crops (vv. 26,30), the growth of the mustard seed into a tree (v. 32) and the slow expansion of the leaven throughout the dough (v. 33).

Jesus is revealing aspects of the kingdom beyond those evident in the OT- and focusing on aspects which apply during the period of His absence - a time period when He fulfills the role of the nobleman who departs to a far country to receive a kingdom and then return (Luke 19:11-12).

Thus, it seams best to understand these parables, although delivered to His immediate audience, as extending beyond, being intended for a Church-age audience to follow: those who come to faith during the inter-advent period.

In my view, in this passage Jesus is already beginning to shift emphasis from exclusively "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mat. 10:6) toward the period where Gentile salvation will dominate God's work (Mat. 15:24). A transition which becomes fully engaged at Pentecost - after the physical departure of Jesus and the arrival of the Comforter in Acts 2.

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