Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER AND THE SOILS

INTRODUCTION:

 

The program of the King includes the narrative about Jesus (11:2 - 12:50), the parables of the kingdom (13:1-52), and the concluding statement, And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence (13:53).

 

The parables of the Kingdom include the parable of the sower and the soils, the purpose of the parables, the parable of the sower and the soils explained, the parable of the wheat and the tares, the parable of the mustard seed, the parable of the leaven, the explanation that the use of parables fulfills prophecy, the parable of the tares explained, the parable of the hidden treasure, the parable of the pearl of great price, the parable of the dragnet, and the treasury of truth.

 

On the same day that Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see Him, He is pictured as being away from the house and sitting beside the sea. Great crowds assembled with Him; so, He entered a boat while the crowd stood on the seashore. Jesus spoke many things in parables to the people in the crowd, beginning with the parable of the sower. Some seeds fell by the road, and the birds ate them. Other seeds fell upon stony ground; but after germinating, they withered because of the hot sun. Some seeds fell among thorns; but after germinating, they were choked by the thorns where they grew. Some seeds fell on good ground and were very productive. People need to listen to what Jesus is saying.

We observe –

    I.     THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER AND THE SOILS – 13:1-9

 

We see –

            A.  THE SETTING – 13:1-2

 

Matthew 13:1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.

 

The same day is on that day and refers to the day on which Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see Him.

 

Went Jesus out of the house and sat by the sea side is Jesus having gone out of the house sat (or sat down) at the edge of the sea. It is apparently on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

 

The house may have been the house in Capernaum where He was living, but this is not stated.

 

Matthew 13:2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

 

And great multitudes were gathered together unto him is and great crowds gathered to Him.

 

So that means with the result that.

 

He went into a ship and sat suggests after He boarded a ship, He sat down.

 

And the whole multitude stood on the shore is and all the crowd stood (or was standing) on the beach.

 

We also see –

            B.  THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER AND THE SOILS INTRODUCED – 13:3

 

Matthew 13:3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow.

 

And he (i.e. Jesus) spake many things unto them in parables is and He spoke many things in parables to them.

 

Parables are narratives or sayings designed to illustrate some truths.

 

Saying introduces the first parable Jesus tells the people in this setting.

 

Behold is Look or You see and is intended to gain the listener’s attention.

 

A sower went forth to sow is the sower went out in order to sow seed.

 

Next, we see that –

            C.  SOME SEEDS WERE SOWN ALONG THE ROAD – 13:4

 

Matthew 13:4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up.

 

And when he sowed is and while He was sowing.

 

Some seeds is simply some. Seeds is implied in the context. Some is used to distinguish a portion of the seeds in verse 4 from some, a second portion of the seeds in verse 5, from some, a third portion of the seeds in verse 7, and from other, a fourth portion of the seeds in verse 8.

 

Fell by the way side is fell on (or along) the road.

 

And the fowls came is and the birds came.

 

And devoured them up is and devoured them (i.e. and devoured the seeds that fell on the road).

 

In addition, we see that –

            D.  SOME SEEDS WERE SOWN ON STONY GROUND – 13:5-6

 

Matthew 13:5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth.

 

Some (i.e. some of the seeds) fell upon stony places (i.e. upon rocky places). It refers to places where there is little topsoil. Some represents a second group of seeds.

 

Where they had not much earth means where there was not much soil or where there was only a thin layer of soil.

 

And forthwith they sprung up suggests and immediately they sprang up or germinated.

 

Because they had no deepness of earth is because they did not have depth of soil.

 

Matthew 13:6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

 

And when the sun was up suggests and after the sun rose or and after sunrise.

 

They (i.e. the seeds which fell on the stony places) were scorched is they were burned, which means that they withered in the heat.

 

And because they had no root, they withered away suggests and because they did not have deep roots, they dried up.

 

We furthermore see that –

            E.  SOME SEEDS WERE SOWN AMONG THORNS – 13:7

 

Matthew 13:7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them.

 

And some represents a third group of seeds.

 

Fell among thorns is fell among the thorn-plants.

 

And the thorns sprung up is and the thorns (or thorn-plants) came up.

 

And choked them (i.e. and choked the seeds which germinated among the thorn-plants) suggests and choked them out. They did not have room enough to grow because of the thorns or thorn-bushes.

 

Then we see that –

            F.  SOME SEEDS WERE SOWN ON GOOD GROUND – 13:8

 

Matthew 13:8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

 

But other suggests but other seeds and represents the fourth and final group of seeds.

 

Fell into good ground is fell upon the good soil.

 

And brought forth fruit is and were yielding fruit or and were producing fruit.

 

Some an hundredfold is some one hundred.

 

Some sixtyfold is and some sixty.

 

Some thirtyfold is and some thirty.

 

It means that some produced one hundred times what was planted, that some produced sixty times what was planted, and that some produced thirty times what was planted.

 

Finally, we see –

            G. THE EXHORTATION TO HEAR – 13:9

 

Matthew 13:9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

 

Who hath ears to hear is the one who has ears to hear and functions as the subject of let him hear.

 

Let him hear is the translation of a third person imperative for which English has no equivalent. It means that he must hear, i.e. the one who has ears to hear must be hearing (or must be exercising his faculty of hearing).

As we move on, we also observe –

  II.     THE EXPLANATION OF THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER AND THE SOILS – 13:18-23

 

In verses 18-23 Jesus explains the parable of the sower for the benefit of His disciples. The seed sown on the road is likened to some who hear the word of the kingdom but do not understand it. Satan then does his best to snatch the seed away from them quickly before they can understand it. The seed sown on stony ground is likened to those who receive the word, but their joy is short lived because they endure only until some trial or persecution comes, which results in their stumbling. The seed sown among thorns is likened to those who receive the word, but it is unfruitful because of the various cares of this life. The seed sown in good ground is likened to someone hearing the word, understanding it, and becoming very fruitful.

 

We note –

            A.  THE EXHORTATION TO LISTEN TO THE PARABLE – 13:18

 

Matthew 13:18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

 

Hear is a command whose tense indicates that it is to be done at once and without delay. It suggests listen to or heed.

 

Ye is you and is emphatic. It refers to Jesus’ disciples.

 

What they are to hear, heed, or listen to is the parable of the sower, i.e. the parable of the one who is sowing (seed).

 

The seed is identified in a parallel passage (Luke 8:11 ), which states, . . . The seed is the word of God. It should be noted that the seed sown is the same in all four soils. The problem is not with the seed or the message it represents.

 

It should also be noted that it is the same sower in each case; so the problem is not with the sower.

 

The problem in each case is the soils which represent the various hearers.

 

We also note –

            B.  THE EXPLANATION OF THE SEED SOWN ALONG THE ROAD – 13:19

 

Matthew 13:19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

 

When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth (or comprehends) it not has been translated as indicating time. It might instead have been translated as indicating condition in the sense of if anyone hears the word of the kingdom but does not understand (it).

 

Any one is anyone, anybody, someone, or somebody.

 

Heareth suggests listens to.

 

The word of the kingdom is the message of the kingdom (of heaven).

 

It is the message preached by John the Baptist, by Jesus, and by the disciples, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand or, Repent, for the reign of heaven has come. It also applies to the gospel message.

 

And may be understood in the sense of but.

 

Understandeth suggests comprehends.

 

It refers to the gospel of the kingdom.

 

The phrase means, When (or if) anyone hears but does not understand the gospel of the kingdom.

 

Then cometh the wicked one is the wicked (one) comes.

 

The wicked one is Satan.

 

And catcheth away that which was sown in his heart is a second thing Satan does.

 

And catcheth away is and snatches (away).

 

What Satan snatches away is that which was sown in his heart, i.e. what has been sown in his heart. It refers to the seed, i.e. to the word (or message) of God. The tense of was sown indicates action which was completed in the past whose result has continued on, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

 

This is he which received seed by the way side identifies the person who heard but did not understand the message of the kingdom with the seed which was sown by the way side, i.e. which fell on (or along) the road (in verse 4). The same is true today of people who hear, but do not understand, the gospel message.

 

Next, we note –

            C.  THE EXPLANATION OF THE SEED SOWN ON STONY GROUND – 13:20-21

 

Matthew 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to the one who received seed by the way side.

 

He that received the seed into stony places is the one who received seed on the stony places (i.e. upon the rocky places), which refers to the places where there is little topsoil.

 

The same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it suggests, This is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. He hears the message of the kingdom of heaven proclaimed by John the Baptist, by Jesus, and by the disciples. The same is true today regarding the proclamation of the gospel message.

 

Matthew 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

 

Yet is but and introduces a statement in mild contrast to the one who hears the word and receives it with joy in verse 20.

 

Hath he not root in himself is he does not have root in himself or he has no root in himself.

 

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to he hath not root in himself.

 

Dureth for a while means is temporary or is transitory, which suggests lasts only for a time.

 

For suggests and.

 

When tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word describes is offended, and shows time.

 

Its action occurs at the same time as the action of is offended.

 

Tribulation is affliction or oppression, and persecution suggests oppression or harassment because of religious beliefs. Both terms are used with similar meanings.

 

Ariseth is happens, takes place, occurs, comes to pass, comes about, arises, or develops.

 

Because of the word suggests because of (or on account of) the message, i.e. the message of the kingdom of heaven proclaimed by John the Baptist, by Jesus, and by the disciples. It also applies to the gospel message.

 

By and by is the same word translated anon in verse 20, meaning immediately.

 

He is offended suggests he is caused to stumble or he falls away and suggests that he was really never saved in the first place.

In addition, we note –

            D.  THE EXPLANATION OF THE SEED SOWN AMONG THORNS – 13:22

 

Matthew 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

 

He also that received seed among the thorns suggests but the one who received seed among the thorns (or the thorn-plants).

 

He is this (one).

 

Is suggests a timeless truth, something which is true at all times.

 

He that heareth the word is the one hearing the word or the one who hears the word.

 

Again, it is the message of the kingdom of heaven proclaimed by John the Baptist, Jesus, and the disciples. It is also true of the gospel message.

 

And the care of this world suggests but the anxiety (or worry) of this age.

 

And the deceitfulness of riches suggests and the deception (or seduction) which comes from wealth.

 

Choke the word suggests choke the message.

 

And he becometh unfruitful is properly understood as and it becomes unfruitful where it refers to the word (or the message). The word becomes unfruitful and produces no fruit.

 

Mark 4:19 is helpful where the identical phrase is translated and it becometh unfruitful.

 

Mark 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

 

I used to think that he becometh unfruitful refers to the person, which would mean that the individual becomes unfruitful. This would suggest that the person was actually saved. Then I looked at the verse in the Greek text; and I have concluded that I was wrong in my understanding and that it means that the word becomes unfruitful, which indicates that this person was never saved in the first place.

 

The confusion came about because in the King James Bible it is translated he becometh unfruitful rather than it becomes unfruitful. The reason it is translated he rather than it is that the gender of word is masculine. Therefore, the translators translated it he. This is a common practice in the King James Bible.

 

Again, and he becometh unfruitful is properly understood as and it becomes unfruitful where it refers to the word (or the message). Although the translation he becometh unfruitful might suggest to the English reader that its antecedent is he that received seed and he that heareth the word, the nearest antecedent in the Greek text is word. This misunderstanding might lead the reader to conclude that this person was genuinely saved, was fruitful for a while, and then became unfruitful. However, it means instead that the word became unfruitful, that the word produced no fruit, and that the person was never genuinely saved.

Finally, we note –

            E.  THE EXPLANATION OF THE SEED SOWN ON GOOD GROUND – 13:23

 

Matthew 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

 

But introduces the explanation of the fourth and final type of soil on which seed was sown.

 

He that received seed into the good ground (i.e. the one who received seed on the good ground) is identified as he that heareth the word, and understandeth (or comprehends) it.

 

Which also beareth fruit suggests who indeed bears fruit.

 

And bringeth forth is and yields or and produces.

 

Some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty means that some of the seed produced one hundred times what was planted, that some produced sixty times what was planted, and that some produced thirty times what was planted.

CONCLUSION:

 

Which type of soil are you? There are only four types, and each of us is one of these four types.

 

Are you totally uninterested and therefore unsaved?

 

Were you excited for a couple weeks, but then the excitement dissipated and you remain unsaved?

 

Have you been choked by the cares of the world and remain unsaved?

 

Are you fruitful and, therefore, demonstrating that you were genuinely saved? Is the fruit of the Spirit being produced in your life? Are you more Christlike than you used to be?

 

Which type of soil are you?