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The Parable of the Weeds

Depending on your translation, this may also be called the Parable of the Wheat & Tares, and it has sometimes been referred to as the Apocalypse Parable.

    The kingdom is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

    The owner’s servants came to him and said, “Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?”

    “An enemy did this,” he replied.

    The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?”

    “No,” he answered, “because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn” -- Matthew 13:24-30

Often, Jesus offered his own explanations for the parables that he told, and ignoring them can lead only to confusion. Many commentators and preachers have interpreted this parable as if it were descriptive of the church, and not of the world.

Yet Christ explains clearly that he was referring to the world, as you can see a little further down in the same chapter, but separated by two other parables, that of the mustard seed and the yeast.

Christ’s own interpretation of his parable of the weeds is as follows:

    The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

    As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. -- Matthew 13:37-43

Where explanations are given, we must review them along with the parable if our aim is to arrive at a clear understanding.

Let’s break it down into its parts.

The field

  • The field is the world, including everyone in it, all of the people, nations, and tongues.
  • A field of probation, where we must give an account of ourselves.
  • A field of peril, with all of Satan’s temptations and snares.

The sowers

  • The Son of Man, who sowed the good seed, the wheat, creating man to stand upright, in his own image, equipped with holy principles.
  • Satan, who sowed the bad seed, the weeds.
    • It is likely that Christ was referring to darnel, or rye grass, which closely resembled wheat, at least in the early stages of growth.
    • Without discernment, evil can be made to closely resemble goodness.

The harvest

  • The field was soon to be productive both of wheat and of weeds, of good and of evil.
    • This has been the condition of the world ever since Eden.
    • The first family included Cain and Abel, and throughout the generations there has been the seed of the evil one, as well as the children of God, a mixture that prevails everywhere.

The recommendation

  • The servants made a reasonable suggestion, whether it might be best if they simply pulled up the weeds.
    • Is it not better to separate the evil from the good?
  • How often might we do this while thinking only of the present, and not the future?
  • How often might we do this for the sole purpose of our own comfort level?
  • Throughout history, how often have we passed laws that deprive criminals of life when it might have been better to have sought their salvation?

The decision

  • It is not always an easy matter to discriminate between good men and bad men.
    • Being human, we are likely to err and to fall into sin.
    • We will probably find those in heaven, accepted by God, whom we would have rejected here on earth.
    • Conversely, we will likely not find some whom we would have expected to find there.
    • Judging the heart is God’s prerogative.
  • God has his own reasons for permitting the wicked to live.
    • clemency
    • long-suffering
    • repentance
  • God sometimes uses evil men for his own purposes.

The harvest

  • The harvest is the end of the world.
  • Angels will be the administrators of divine judgments.
  • The fate of the wicked will be fearful.
  • The fate of the righteous will be glorious.
  • He who has ears, let him hear. -- Matthew 13:43









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