Bible Study 101: Matthew 13 Kingdom Parables

Matthew 13 causes confusion as some say Jesus’ parables imply the church will slowly take over the world and we’ll all live in utopia. This misunderstanding stems from incorrect assumptions. Clearing up misunderstanding begins with two rules no serious Bible student would disagree with.

  1. Jesus interpreted one parable, so we don’t have to guess at its meaning.
  2. Idioms are generally used consistently (the principle of expositional constancy).

The first should be obvious by reading the text.

The second takes a bit of thought. How do we know the number seven means complete? Because it’s used that way consistently through the Bible. The more you read your Bible the more you notice the same idioms appear, with the same meaning.

So, let’s put those two truths together while considering Matthew 13.

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.” (Matthew 13:3–4 NKJV)

Jesus explains this parable, so nobody needs to guess what the idioms mean. For our purposes, we’re interested in who the birds represent, which Jesus tells us:

Therefore hear the parable of the sower: “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.” (Matthew 13:18–19 NKJV)

Who are the birds? Satan and his cohorts.

Now, consider another parable:

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31–32 NKJV)

You might have heard teachers explain this means the church will grow, take over the world, and we’ll all become friends and sit around the campfire in blissful harmony as the entire world joins the church.

That would be wrong — who are the birds again?

Jesus warns the church will be impure, and in fact will be infested with deceivers and workers of Satan.

It started early in church history with the Gnostics (which John wrote about), continued requiring Jude’s warning, while Paul warned the Galatians about anyone (even an angel) proclaiming a different Gospel.

What is the Gospel again?

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you … how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day… (1 Corinthians 15)

So when you hear about the “gospel” of social justice, remember it’s not what Paul preached, and Jesus, John, Jude, and others warned about false and heretical ideas infecting the church.

The Gospel isn’t social justice, good works, the church taking over the world in harmony, post-modern liberal theology or anything other than what Paul said — Jesus died for our sin, He was buried, and rose again.

That’s the good news the church should be spreading, not the heresy of social justice in the age of apostasy.

… because it’s 2:59 AM.

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