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Ferrar Fenton Bible: Matthew 13

The Parable of the Sower

At this time, however, Jesus, going out from the house, sat down by the sea. And a great crowd collected about Him, so that He ascended into a boat, and sat down in it; while all the crowd stood upon the shore. And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying:

"It happened that a sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some fell by the roadside, and the birds came and devoured it.

"Another part fell upon stony land, where the soil was not deep enough; and it sprouted very quickly on account of the shallowness of the soil: but when the sun arose, it was scorched, and it also withered for want of root. And another lot fell among the thistles, and the thistles grew up and choked it. But the rest fell upon good land, and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Whoever has ears to hear, let him listen!"

The Rationale of Parables

His disciples approaching Him, afterwards asked, "Why do You speak to them in parables?"

"Because," He answered, "it is granted to you to become acquainted with the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven; but it is not granted to others. For whoever has a possession, it will increase with him; but the one who possesses nothing, even what he has will be torn from him. I therefore speak to them in parables, because seeing they see not, and hearing they do not hear, neither will they understand. Thus by them is verified the prophecy of Isaiah, which says:

Listen to a sound, and never understand it;
and seeing, see, but never perceive.
For the heart of this people is stupefied,
And they listen with loaded ears,
And their eyes they have closed:
Fearing they should see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears, And understand with their hearts,
And turn back, and I would restore them.1

"But your eyes are happy, because they see; and your ears, because they can listen. For I tell you truly, that many prophets and good men have ardently desired to see what you see, and have not seen it; and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it. Listen therefore to the parable of the sower. When any one hears the message of the Kingdom of Heaven, and does not comprehend, the Devil comes and snatches what was scattered in his heart. Thus it is with that sown along the roadside. But that sown upon stony land, that is the one who hears the discourse, and accepts it immediately with pleasure; but being without root in himself, he is therefore temporary: and when trouble or persecution comes against the truth, he at once falls away. Now as to what was sown among the thistles: that is the one who listens to the message; but the anxieties of this age, and the slavedom of wealth suffocate the message, and it becomes fruitless. Now as to that which falls upon good soil: that is the man who listens to the reason, and comprehends it; he consequently produces grain, it may be to the extent of a hundred, sixty, or thirty-fold."

The Parable of the Weeds

Continuing, He put before them another parable: "I may compare the Kingdom of Heaven to a man sowing good seed in his field; but while his men were asleep, his enemy came and sowed darnel weeds among the wheat, and went away. However, when the plant shot out, and should have produced grain, then the weeds were also seen. Then his servants coming to the farmer, asked him, 'Did you not, sir, sow perfect seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?' And in reply to them he said, 'Some enemy must have done this.' His servants then asked, 'Do you wish us to go and pull them up? 'No!' was his reply; 'lest while you are plucking up the weeds, you should uproot the wheat along with them. Allow both of them to grow together until the harvest: and during the harvest I will say to the reapers, First collect the weeds, and bind them into bundles to burn; but store up the wheat into my granaries.'"

The Parable of the Mustard and the Fermented Flour

He also told them another parable, saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard, which a man took and sowed in his held. This is the smallest of such seeds; but when it grows up, it is the largest of all garden herbs, and becomes a bush, so that the birds of the air come and shelter among its branches."

He told them another parable: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast, which a woman took and mixed in three stones of flour, so that the whole was fermented by it."

Explanation of the Parables

Jesus spoke the whole of this to the crowd in parables; and without a parable He seldom spoke to them: so that the statement delivered through the prophet might be fulfilled, which says:

I will open my mouth in parables;
I will dig up what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.2

Then Jesus, sending the crowd away, went into the house; and His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." And replying to them He said, "The sower of the perfect seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world; the perfect seed are the sons of the Kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the wicked; while the enemy who sowed them is the Devil; the harvest is the completion of the age; and the reapers are the angels. Just as they collect the weeds and burn them, so it will be at the end of this period. The Son of Man will send His messengers, and will collect out of His Kingdom every offensive thing, and whatever causes sin; and will throw them into the furnace of fire, where will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous shall shine out like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Let all listen who have ears to hear!

Illustrations of the Kingdom

"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is comparable to a buried treasure in a field, which, if a man finds, he covers up; and in his delight he goes and sells whatever he possesses to enable him to buy that field.

"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the look-out for valuable pearls; who, having found a particular one of very great value, goes and disposes of all the others he has, and buys it.

"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a drag-net, which has been spread out in the sea, and collects all kinds. Then, when full, they draw it up on the beach; and sitting down they select the good into baskets, and cast the bad away. Thus it will be at the completion of the period. The angels will pick out and carry away the wicked from the midst of the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

"Do you," asked Jesus, "understand all this?"

"Yes, Lord," was their reply.

"Since that is the case, "He further said to them, "every teacher who has been trained into the Kingdom of Heaven is like one who is the master of a house, who brings out from his stores what is new as well as what is old."

The Prophet without Honour

Now when Jesus had finished these parables, He removed from there. And coming into His own country, He taught them in their synagogue; and so greatly astonished were they, that they asked, "Where has this Man acquired this knowledge and power? Is He not the son of that carpenter? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James, Joseph, Simon, and Judah? And His sisters, are they not all here with us? Where then did He attain all this?" And they were embarrassed concerning Him.

Jesus, however, said to them, " A prophet is not without honour, except in his own country and in his own house." And He did not display much power there, because of their unbelief.


  1. Isa. 40:9.10.
  2. Psalms 78:2

Transcribed by Mark Hicks on 12-31-2014