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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 On that day, Jesus went out of the house and
sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him that he
got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, 2
saying: "A sower went out to sow. 3
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little
soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it
withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns
grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced
fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear."
The disciples approached him and said,
"Why do you speak to them in parables?"
4 He said to them in reply, "Because
knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you,
but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given 5
and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken
6 This is why I speak to them in parables, because
'they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.'
Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled in them, which
says: 'You shall indeed hear but not understand you shall indeed look but never
Gross is the heart of this people, they will
hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with
their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be
converted, and I heal them.'
7 "But blessed are your eyes, because they
see, and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous
people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear
but did not hear it.
8 "Hear then the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one who hears
the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and
steals away what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who
hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears
the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it
bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears
the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or
sixty or thirtyfold."
He proposed another parable to them. 9
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his
While everyone was asleep his enemy came and
sowed weeds 10 all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds
appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and
said, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds
He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' His
slaves said to him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds you
might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest; 11
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, "First collect the
weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my
12 He proposed another parable to them. "The
kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a
13 It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when
full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the 'birds
of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'"
He spoke to them another parable. "The
kingdom of heaven is like yeast 14 that a woman took and
mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was
15 All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in
parables. He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the
prophet: 16 "I will open my mouth in parables, I will
announce what has lain hidden from the foundation (of the world)."
Then, dismissing the crowds, 17
he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, "Explain to
us the parable of the weeds in the field."
18 He said in reply, "He who sows good seed
is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, 19
the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the
and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The
harvest is the end of the age, 20 and the harvesters are
Just as weeds are collected and burned (up)
with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they
will collect out of his kingdom 21 all who cause others to
sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
22 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in
the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.
23 "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure
buried in a field, 24 which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes
and sells all that he has and buys it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net
thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore and sit
down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age. The
angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace, where
there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
"Do you understand 25
all these things?" They answered, "Yes."
26 And he replied, "Then every scribe who
has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household
who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old."
When Jesus finished these parables, he went
away from there.
27 He came to his native place and taught the
people in their synagogue. They were astonished 28 and said,
"Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter's son? Is not his
mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?
Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this
man get all this?"
And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to
them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in
his own house."
And he did not work many mighty deeds there
because of their lack of faith.
1 [1-53] The discourse in parables is
the third great discourse of Jesus in Matthew and constitutes the second part
of the third book of the gospel. Matthew follows the Marcan outline
(⇒ Mark 4:1-35) but has only two of Mark's parables,
the five others being from Q and M. In addition to the seven parables, the
discourse gives the reason why Jesus uses this type of speech (Matthew 10-15),
declares the blessedness of those who understand his teaching (Matthew 16-17),
explains the parable of the sower (Matthew 18-23) and of the weeds (Matthew
36-43), and ends with a concluding statement to the disciples (Matthew 51-52).
2 [3-8] Since in Palestine sowing
often preceded ploughing, much of the seed is scattered on ground that is unsuitable.
Yet while much is wasted, the seed that falls on good ground bears fruit in
extraordinarily large measure. The point of the parable is that, in spite of
some failure because of opposition and indifference, the message of Jesus about
the coming of the kingdom will have enormous success.
3  In parables: the word
"parable" (Greek parabole) is used in the LXX to translate the Hebrew
mashal, a designation covering a wide variety of literary forms such as axioms,
proverbs, similitudes, and allegories. In the New Testament the same breadth of
meaning of the word is found, but there it primarily designates stories that
are illustrative comparisons between Christian truths and events of everyday
life. Sometimes the event has a strange element that is quite different from
usual experience (e.g., in ⇒ Matthew 13:33 the
enormous amount of dough in the parable of the yeast); this is meant to sharpen
the curiosity of the hearer. If each detail of such a story is given a figurative
meaning, the story is an allegory. Those who maintain a sharp distinction
between parable and allegory insist that a parable has only one point of
comparison, and that while parables were characteristic of Jesus' teaching, to
see allegorical details in them is to introduce meanings that go beyond their
original intention and even falsify it. However, to exclude any allegorical
elements from a parable is an excessively rigid mode of interpretation, now
abandoned by many scholars.
4  Since a parable is figurative
speech that demands reflection for understanding, only those who are prepared
to explore its meaning can come to know it. To understand is a gift of God,
granted to the disciples but not to the crowds. In Semitic fashion, both the
disciples' understanding and the crowd's obtuseness are attributed to God. The
question of human responsibility for the obtuseness is not dealt with, although
it is asserted in ⇒ Matthew 13:13. The mysteries:
as in ⇒ Luke 8:10; ⇒ Mark
4:11 has "the mystery." The word is used in
⇒ Daniel 2:18, ⇒ 19,
⇒ 27 and in the Qumran literature (1QpHab 7:8; 1QS
3:23; 1QM 3:9) to designate a divine plan or decree affecting the course of
history that can be known only when revealed. Knowledge of the mysteries of the
kingdom of heaven means recognition that the kingdom has become present in the
ministry of Jesus.
5  In the New Testament use of
this axiom of practical "wisdom" (see ⇒ Matthew
25:29; ⇒ Mark 4:25;
⇒ Luke 8:18; ⇒ 19:26),
the reference transcends the original level. God gives further understanding to
one who accepts the revealed mystery; from the one who does not, he will take
it away (note the "theological passive," more will be given, what he
has will be taken away).
6  Because "they look . . .
or understand': Matthew softens his Marcan source, which states that Jesus
speaks in parables so that the crowds may not understand
(⇒ Mark 4:12), and makes such speaking a punishment
given because they have not accepted his previous clear teaching. However, his
citation of ⇒ Isaiah 6:9-10 in
⇒ Matthew 13:14 supports the harsher Marcan view.
7 [16-17] Unlike the unbelieving
crowds, the disciples have seen that which the prophets and the righteous of
the Old Testament longed to see without having their longing fulfilled.
8 [18-23] See ⇒ Mark
4:14-20; ⇒ Luke 8:11-15. In this explanation
of the parable the emphasis is on the various types of soil on which the seed
falls, i.e., on the dispositions with which the preaching of Jesus is received.
The second and third types particularly are explained in such a way as to
support the view held by many scholars that the explanation derives not from
Jesus but from early Christian reflection upon apostasy from the faith that was
the consequence of persecution and worldliness respectively. Others, however,
hold that the explanation may come basically from Jesus even though it was
developed in the light of later Christian experience. The four types of persons
envisaged are (1) those who never accept the word of the kingdom
(⇒ Matthew 13:19); (2) those who believe for a
while but fall away because of persecution (⇒ Matthew
13:20-21); (3) those who believe, but in whom the word is choked by
worldly anxiety and the seduction of riches (⇒ Matthew
13:22); (4) those who respond to the word and produce fruit
abundantly (⇒ Matthew 13:23).
9 [24-30] This parable is peculiar to
Matthew. The comparison in ⇒ Matthew 13:24 does not
mean that the kingdom of heaven may be likened simply to the person in question
but to the situation narrated in the whole story. The refusal of the
householder to allow his slaves to separate the wheat from the weeds while they
are still growing is a warning to the disciples not to attempt to anticipate
the final judgment of God by a definitive exclusion of sinners from the
kingdom. In its present stage it is composed of the good and the bad. The
judgment of God alone will eliminate the sinful. Until then there must be
patience and the preaching of repentance.
10  Weeds: darnel, a poisonous
weed that in its first stage of growth resembles wheat.
 Harvest: a common biblical metaphor for the time of God's judgment; cf
⇒ Jeremiah 51:33; Joel
3:13; ⇒ Hosea 6:11.
12 [31-33] See ⇒ Mark
4:30-32; ⇒ Luke 13:18-21. The parables of
the mustard seed and the yeast illustrate the same point: the amazing contrast
between the small beginnings of the kingdom and its marvelous expansion.
13  See ⇒ Daniel
4:7-9, ⇒ 17-19 where the birds nesting in
the tree represent the people of Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom. See also
⇒ Ezekiel 17:23; ⇒ 31:6.
14  Except in this Q parable and
in ⇒ Matthew 16:12, yeast (or "leaven")
is, in New Testament usage, a symbol of corruption (see
⇒ Matthew 16:6, ⇒ 11-12;
⇒ Mark 8:15; ⇒ Luke 12:1;
⇒ 1 Cor 5:6-8; ⇒ Gal 5:9).
Three measures: an enormous amount, enough to feed a hundred people. The
exaggeration of this element of the parable points to the greatness of the
15  Only in parables: see
⇒ Matthew 13:10-15.
16  The prophet: some textual
witnesses read "Isaiah the prophet." The quotation is actually from
⇒ Psalm 78:2; the first line corresponds to the LXX
text of the psalm. The psalm's title ascribes it to Asaph, the founder of one
of the guilds of temple musicians. He is called "the prophet" (NAB
"the seer") in ⇒ 2 Chron 29:30 but it is
doubtful that Matthew averted to that; for him, any Old Testament text that
could be seen as fulfilled in Jesus was prophetic.
17  Dismissing the crowds: the
return of Jesus to the house marks a break with the crowds, who represent
unbelieving Israel. From now on his attention is directed more and more to his
disciples and to their instruction. The rest of the discourse is addressed to
18 [37-43] In the explanation of the
parable of the weeds emphasis lies on the fearful end of the wicked, whereas
the parable itself concentrates on patience with them until judgment time.
19  The field is the world: this
presupposes the resurrection of Jesus and the granting to him of "all
power in heaven and on earth" (⇒ Matthew
20  The end of the age: this
phrase is found only in Matthew (⇒ 13:40,
⇒ 49; ⇒ 24:3;
21  His kingdom: the kingdom of
the Son of Man is distinguished from that of the Father
(⇒ Matthew 13:43); see ⇒ 1 Cor
15:24-25. The church is the place where Jesus' kingdom is manifested,
but his royal authority embraces the entire world; see the note on
⇒ Matthew 13:38.
22  See ⇒ Daniel
23 [44-50] The first two of the last
three parables of the discourse have the same point. The person who finds a
buried treasure and the merchant who finds a pearl of great price sell all that
they have to acquire these finds; similarly, the one who understands the
supreme value of the kingdom gives up whatever he must to obtain it. The joy
with which this is done is made explicit in the first parable, but it may be
presumed in the second also. The concluding parable of the fishnet resembles
the explanation of the parable of the weeds with its stress upon the final
exclusion of evil persons from the kingdom.
24  In the unsettled conditions of
Palestine in Jesus' time, it was not unusual to guard valuables by burying them
in the ground.
25  Matthew typically speaks of
the understanding of the disciples.
26  Since Matthew tends to
identify the disciples and the Twelve (see the note on
⇒ Matthew 10:1), this saying about the Christian
scribe cannot be taken as applicable to all who accept the message of Jesus.
While the Twelve are in many ways representative of all who believe in him,
they are also distinguished from them in certain respects. The church of
Matthew has leaders among whom are a group designated as "scribes"
(⇒ Matthew 23:34). Like the scribes of Israel, they
are teachers. It is the Twelve and these their later counterparts to whom this
verse applies. The scribe . . . instructed in the kingdom of heaven knows both
the teaching of Jesus (the new) and the law and prophets (the old) and provides
in his own teaching both the new and the old as interpreted and fulfilled by
the new. On the translation head of a household (for the same Greek word
translated householder in ⇒ Matthew 13:27), see the
note on ⇒ Matthew 24:45-51.
[⇒ 13:54-⇒ 17:27] This
section is the narrative part of the fourth book of the gospel.
28  After the Sermon on the Mount
the crowds are in admiring astonishment at Jesus' teaching
(⇒ Matthew 7:28); here the astonishment is of those
who take offense at him. Familiarity with his background and family leads them
to regard him as pretentious. Matthew modifies his Marcan source (⇒ Matthew
6:1-6). Jesus is not the carpenter but the carpenter's son
(⇒ Matthew 13:55), "and among his own
kin" is omitted (⇒ Matthew 13:57), he did not
work many mighty deeds in face of such unbelief (⇒ Matthew
13:58) rather than the Marcan "... he was not able to perform
any mighty deed there" (⇒ Matthew 6:5), and
there is no mention of his amazement at his townspeople's lack of faith.
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