Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Monday, July 03, 2006

More Parables from Matthew 13

The Parable of the Mustard Seed
31 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, 32 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."
Jesus talks about the kingdom again in Matthew. He said that it is a small seed but will yield a large tree. I once read where a teacher said that the birds represent evil and that Jesus was saying that evil and illegitimate inhabitants will make their home in his realm. He said that [the birds] of the air refers to Satan, the Prince of the power of the air. This is the kind of thing that causes me to scratch my head. Jesus must have said that about the birds for some reason, but it is unclear to me what it means. I kind of thought maybe that teacher was reading into it a little much. Do any of you know what that would have meant to the hearers of this parable?

The Parable of the Leaven
33 Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
This same teacher said that leaven also represents evil in biblical terms (a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump) so that Christ was teaching that some would add evil to the kingdom preaching until the whole thing was in danger of corruption. Again, I am not sure. I have heard other teachers say that this means that the kingdom message will spread and cover and fill the earth. What do you think?

I know I have seen other figures of speech used in two ways - one meaning something bad and then in another instance, the same concept is used to represent something good.

Is Jesus speaking in these two parables of the greatness of the kingdom or of the polluting of the kingdom? I just don't get it.


  • I believe that these two parables reveal the corruption and ruin of the Church.

    In the parable of the Mustard Seed, the Gospel gives rise to a worldy kingdom like that of Nebuchadnezzar:

    4:9: O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret troubleth thee, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and the interpretation thereof.
    4:10: Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.
    4:11: The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:
    4:12: The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
    4:13: I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven;
    4:14: He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches:
    4:15: Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:

    The birds certainly are a sign of uncleanness:

    18:2: And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

    Notice that in the parable of the Leaven, it is a woman who puts in the yeast. It is not a work of Christ, but of spiritual whoredom.

    This is the view that is generally taken by Dispensational Premillennial commentators.

    Those of Reformed, Amillennial or Postmillennail persuasion tend to see these parables as the postive spread of the Gospel, denying the apostasy of Christendom.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 7/03/2006 11:05 AM  

  • Do visit



    By Blogger eternity, at 7/03/2006 11:38 AM  

  • Matthew,
    Thanks for your thoughts. The teacher I was thinking of is just that: Dispensational Premillennial. I would not have known the underlying reasoning behind the differing interpretations. Thanks for cluing me in and thanks for that reference to the passage in Daniel. That is very helpful.

    Hi eternity.
    Do you have anything to say about the Parables?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/03/2006 2:19 PM  

  • I suppose that I see the parables in a more positive light of the spread of the gospel. (I usually do not try to interpret each item of parables) Starting small and accomplishing great things. This would have been a motivation for the disciples not to be discouraged. (Hendrickson on Matthew pg 565-568 1992 eidition) Being Pre-Trib and Pre-millenial and something of a dispensationalist who is oftentimes wooed by reformed teaching. I do not deny what Matthew said (The Gospel giving rise to worldly kingdoms certainly has happened) but I would see that as a possible secondary application not the primary interpretation.

    By Blogger Leo, at 7/03/2006 4:15 PM  

  • Hi Rose, these are probably two of the most misunderstood parables among most christians.

    I concur with Matthew that they reveal the apostate condition of Christendom. If you do a indepth review of leaven, you will find it is never mentioned in a positive light, but always a symbol of sin and corruption.

    Likewise, birds are quite often associated with evil, especially the wicked presence of evil principalities.

    Keep in mind that Jesus is not saying these are positive parables of the Kingdom, but rather descriptions of how the appearance of the kingdom will be skewered by man's religion.

    By Blogger Jim, at 7/03/2006 4:20 PM  

  • Rose I must admit that I have viewed these in a positive light but I think Matthew and Jim have persuaded me otherwise. Jesus was always consistent with scripture and I can think of no other reason that He would have used these analogies.

    By Blogger Kc, at 7/03/2006 7:02 PM  

  • Rose,

    you just want to be careful!

    Because a "symbol" means one thing in one context, it does not necessarily mean the same thing in every context.

    Take for instance "lion". It can be a symbol for both Satan and Christ.

    I would suggest that you use the principles that I gave last time.

    What are they meaning in their natural context?

    Remember also, it is concerning the "Kingdom of God".

    The kingdom of God is like a man planting a mustard seed.

    This man had a purpose. He had a mustard seed, for he took it and planted it. He desired to have a mustard tree. Having done all those things to which is necessary to plant it, the tree grew, and birds housed in it.

    These parables were spoken to common folks who could understand this type of agricultural scene.

    The man had a purpose for both possessing and planting the seed. The seed grew, according to purpose. It created a lush tree that was large enough to house birds.

    In the social climate of the days of Christ, it was the woman, and not the men, who prepared the bread and most food that was eaten, so again. Jesus is using familiar imagery, that was culturally relevent, in order to express the truths of these parables.

    Although the percentages of usage of a symbol with a meaning make it more or less probable to be the meaning other times it is used, we must not jump immediately to that conclusion.

    A woman hiding yeast in a ball of dough was quite common.

    It seems to me that whatever the interpretation is, that both these parables parallel each other.

    There is a little (a seed or yeast) that is put into something larger (the ground or dough) which causes exponential growth (a tree or leavened bread) each with a noble and good purpose (to produce the fruit of the tree or make the dough rise for the sustenance of bread).

    These are the items and details that do not escape me. It is proper and good to examine usage of symbols or words in general. But meaning isn't determined by other contexts, but the one under consideration only. To do so would be illegitimate totality transfer.

    In this message I only applied a few of the principles I enumerated. More study, using the normal, grammatical, literal, historical, and rhetorical principles of biblical interpretation are left ready to be employed to explore these parables in greater depth and detail.


    By Blogger Antonio, at 7/03/2006 8:53 PM  

  • Antonio,

    I think the picture of leaven is quite clear throughout the breadth of scripture. Can you show me one place where leaven is viewed in a positive light? Jesus even warned His disciples of the leaven of the pharisees. Perhaps the greatest use of leaven today is the infusion of heresy and false doctrines into the Church today.

    Likewise, the mustard tree shows an abnormal growth situation whereby the birds (evil ones) feel comfortable enough to roost in the branches. Certainly the occult practices of Roman Catholiciscm and her apostate daughters symbolize these defiling birds. In fact, the previous parable about the sower defines the birds as no less than Satan himself.

    To suggest that these parables are anything else but a corruption of the appearance of the kingdom would be to import alternate meanings to the critical words than would be normally assumed.

    By Blogger Jim, at 7/03/2006 10:52 PM  

  • To suggest that these parables are anything else but a corruption of the appearance of the kingdom would be to import alternate meanings to the critical words than would be normally assumed.

    Normally assumed by whom, Jim? I had never heard these interpreted in a negative fashion before, so I am not so sure that one can really say that. To me the reverse seems more probable.

    I see the mustard seed as something small (also used as an analogy for faith) that grew large and became big enough to support birds. I would normally assume that is a reference to the size and strength of the plant. God sees every sparrow that falls. Sparrows are birds. Those who wait upon the Lord shall mount up with strength as eagles. Eagles are birds. These are not negative references to birds. Birds are used to symbolize God's care and support for His people.

    I'm with Antonio and Leo on this one.

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at 7/04/2006 7:22 AM  

  • Rose, I would say that I have always read these in positive light as well, but I do not really see reason why they cannot be interpreted in a negative light. I truly do not know.

    I am guessing that it will all hinge upon your understanding of the kingdom.

    I am personally perplexed as to why a dispensational premillenial would interpret these in a negative light.

    I had always thought that dispensational premillenial's thought of the kingdom as a future reign of Christ for a 1000 years. If this is so, how on earth could this reign of Christ be tainted or corrupted. Is He not supposed to reign with a rod of iron? If so, is He a bad King? One incapable of controlling His kingdom? Does Satan still have some manner of reign during that time?

    However, if we interpret the Kingdom to be a future reality but likewise a present reality (as I do), you would see why you could interpret these passages either way. If the kingdom is here, but not fully here (as I believe), then you would have no problem seeing these parables as describing a corruption within this present kingdom. The reason that there is corruption is because there is a war going on. The kingdom of Christ is coming into the kingdom of Satan, the two worlds are collidding and all hell is breaking loose (to use that phrase - actually, it should rather be all heaven is breaking loose ;) ).

    So here I am truly perplexed. Perhaps Matthew can shed some light on this.

    Question: If the kingdom is a future reality where Christ reigns with a rod of iron, how then can we interpret these in a negative light wherein the kingdom is corrupted by the birds (evil symbol) or the kingdom is described as leaven (evil symbol)??

    By Blogger nathaniel adam king, at 7/04/2006 10:19 AM  

  • Nathaniel,

    I think you have correctly diagnosed the situation. Jesus's earthly ministry emphasized the need to repent for the kingdom was at hand. This was a warning to the Jews who had fallen away from the true worship of God.

    The constituents of the kingdom consist of all true believers. However, there are many outward appearances of the kingdom which are distorted due to the influence of a man centered religion.

    And as you acutely pointed out, there is definitely a war being waged right now between the kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God.

    These parables were given to warn the saints of the deadly mixture of holy and unholy, having the appearance of the kingdom of heaven, but not the reality.

    The true reality and manifestion of the kingdom will happen when our Lord Jesus Christ returns to defeat His enemies and cast the devil into the lake of fire for a thousand years.

    ibex scribe:

    My use of the wording "normally assumed" were obviously not good choices. As you point out, we do not assume things of a spiritual nature, but rather need much light and revelation from the Holy Spirit.

    Nevertheless, popular opinion should not be our plumb line for determining what we believe. Truth is truth, and our opinions will not change that.

    As children of God, we need to ask for more humility, light, and understanding of these passages. Unless the Lord is pleased to unravel the mysteries, we will continue to grope in darkness and obscurity.

    By Blogger Jim, at 7/04/2006 11:37 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Very interesting blog entry. The parables are a very interesting group of teaching. There are a lot of people who misunderstand them. I say that not because I will bring wisdom that will amaze you all, but by the simple observation that there is such disagreement what the parables mean among large groups of people. Somebody's got to be wrong given the law of non-contradiction. :o)

    I'm a bit of a maverick in my own background (Reformed) on the parables. I think Antonio is really right on track with his analysis. My twist to this comes from some conservative Lutherans I listened to on a podcast. Their main point is that the parables are straight forward. When I hear so much tying meaning to symbols, such as yeast, birds, etc., it smacks to me like a form of gnosticism in the sense this is hidden knowledge, and you look for all kinds of keys, and you jam them into the parable lock whether it fits or not.

    This is the time I pull out my key (do I hear ooos and ahhhs? oh -- that is coming from people watching fireworks today :o). My key is the cross, with Christ. Often parables are interpreted as moral stories or complicated schemes about the future. However, I see the parables usually feature Christ at the center. For instance, the pearl of great price is usually interpreted as (a) pearls are symbols of foolish treasure because Isrealites dispised pearls (b) we are to search for Christ, the great pearl. My Lutheran friends, on the other had, say that the principle actor in the majority of the parables is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who finds his treasure, the church, those whom he has choosen and "sells everything" (his comfort in heaven, his life on the cross) to obtain this costly pearl, that perhaps Isrealites would consider foolish (this is Lutherans says this, not wacky Calvinists where I come from :o). The same with the hidden treasure. Jesus searches for his people. The coin, Jesus searches for the lost coin.

    This pattern does not necessarily fit all the parables. I like Antonio's analysis of the mustard seed and the leaven.

    Take is with a grain of salt, or a mustard seed, or a little leaven. I suppose if you don't like this analysis, you get get your money back. :o)

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/04/2006 12:13 PM  

  • Jim,

    It seems that you and Matt are interpreting these parables as if they are merely a conglomeration of symbols thrown together from other parts of the Scripture; as if Jesus is using spare parts, and that the parables themselves need to be interpreted in light of the symbols, rather than the symbols being interpreted in light of the story's "true-to-life" incident, the story's natural meaning.

    The symbols gain meaning as they are parallelled and corresponded to the story's natural meaning, which in turn informs our interpretation of the parable, the main truth being illustrated; otherwise, there are no objective standards in anylyzing the parables and what we have left is an attempt to draw an interpretation from the parable by examining symbols as they are used in other narratives or figures of speech, the results being a mish-mosh of biblical stew.

    I have already noted the story's natural meanings in my last correspondence, here would be my interpretation.

    The mustard seed was so small that the Jews used it proverbially to represent a very small
    thing. When mature, the mustard plant stood 10 to 12 feet tall as "the largest of garden plants" (NIV). Consequently it became a perch for birds. Several Old Testament passages use a tree with birds flocking to its branches to illustrate a kingdom that people
    perceive as great. For instance, Israel, in its restored state in the coming messianic age, is described:

    Ezek 17:22-24
    Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will take also one of the highest branches of the high cedar and set it out. I will crop off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and will plant it on a high and prominent mountain. 23 On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort; in the shadow of its branches they will dwell. 24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the LORD, have spoken and have done it."

    Matthew says himself

    Matt 8:11
    11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

    (the birds, not a specific variety, but "of all feathers") nest in the branches of the tree, which was once the seed, which seed has been compared to the Kingdom of God)

    The Jews correctly believed that the messianic kingdom would be very large. Why did Jesus choose the mustard plant since it did not become as large as some other plants? Evidently He did so because of the small beginning of the mustard plant. The contrast between an unusually small beginning and a large mature plant is the point of this parable. Jesus' ministry was despicably small in the eyes of many Jews. Nevertheless from this small beginning would come the worldwide kingdom predicted in the Old Testament.

    Jim asked, "Can you show me one place where leaven is viewed in a positive light?"

    I can show two.

    Lev 7:13-14
    13 Besides the cakes, as his offering he shall offer leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offering.

    Lev 23:15-18
    'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD. 17 You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the LORD.

    Nevertheless, it from the natural meaning and true-to-life incident that the symbols gain meaning, and the context, that the symbols gain meaning, not from any other context! This cannot be emphasized enough! When the natural meaning of the entire story is somewhat disregarded in favor of meaning from other contexts, confusion and error is sure to follow.

    This parable stresses the extensive ultimate consequences of the kingdom that would be
    out of all proportion to its insignificant beginnings.

    This parable stresses the hidden internal change taking place in the kingdom between its
    inception in Jesus' ministry and its final form when the kingdom will cover the earth in
    the Millennium.

    The fact that a woman (and not a man) put the leaven in the meal is an insignificant detail of the parable as is the amount of flour. Three satas of flour (about three-fifths of a bushel) is the amount of flour that a housewife baked into bread for an average family. This is the cultural norm.

    "Practical applications of this parable to present readers can include the following. First, believers should depend on what God is doing through His Spirit in the present age. Second, Christians should be suspicious of
    any man-made, externally influenced institutional structures that say they are the manifestation of God's kingdom, Third, believers must be cautious
    about setting dates and presuming the arrival of the kingdom since the parable gives no hint as to when the permeation ends. Fourth, Jesus'followers can be confident that regardless of any current perspectives, the kingdom of God has a glorious future." (Mark L. Bailey, "The Parable of the Mustard Seed," Bibliotheca Sacra 155:620 (October-December


    By Blogger Antonio, at 7/04/2006 1:27 PM  

  • I've been sitting on the fence like you on this one wondering Rose, since you brought it up. Jim seemed logical, but something was nagging in my mind a bit, but I think Antonio completely nailed this one.

    Good job Antonio.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 7/04/2006 4:05 PM  

  • Antonio, your due diligence is commendable. I had forgotten about the two references in the Levitical Law.

    If we look at the context of Matt. 13, we see parables concerning the kingdom of heaven and it's appearance.

    This is important because in every parable there is a mixture of good and evil, true and false.

    Jesus gave us warnings that there would be false among the true, and falsehood among the truth. If we look at the history of the Church, we see over and over again the introduction of heresy's and their subsequent rejection or acceptance.

    Truly Christendom is a mixed bag of carnal religion and half truths. No wonder people are confused about the true nature of salvation and the requirements for eternal life. This is Satan's ploy to deceive the nations...mix lies into the truth.

    But the Lord will ultimately divide the true from the false, even as He will eventually judge the sin of Babylon and the sin of her harlotries. We are warned not to be partakers in the spiritual fornication of the Mother of harlots lest we also suffer at His return.

    By Blogger Jim, at 7/04/2006 4:20 PM  

  • I actually agree with Antonio on this one!

    Sarx (flesh) is used various ways in the NT (i.e. sinful nature, human material body, etc.)--context obviously determines its intended meaning (usage). Same with "leaven". I agree that normally leaven is used in the Bible as denoting evil or sin--but parabolic usage is different than typical "narrative" usage that we find in the scriptures.

    Anyway, w/o any of my own argument, I agree with Antonio :)!

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 7/04/2006 4:44 PM  

  • Bobby, I find that a bit amazing.

    Suppose I tell you that linseed is poisonous for you and should never be eaten.

    I then tell you a story about a man who hid linseed in his food and his children grew up healthy and vibrant.

    What would you think?

    A. I was lying about linseed.

    B. The truth about linseed was relative and subjective to the situation.

    Quite frankly, I would like to see more Biblical exegesis on your part, guys.

    If something has been definitively associated with sin and evil, how can that same thing suddenly denote good?

    By Blogger Jim, at 7/04/2006 4:51 PM  

  • Jim,

    Quite honestly I don't have time to provide anymore exegesis on this point than you do ;-). My point on sarx was supposed to illustrate the point that we should want to avoid committing the "technical language fallacy"--as you appear to be doing with "leaven", Jim! Context determines meaning, and the context in which we find this parable is highlighting the "spreading (and simple origins)" impact God's kingdom has at it interfaces with the kingdom of darkness. In other words, Jesus explains how we should understand "seed" (see 13:36-43); it seems that contextually the parable of the mustard seed and leaven are meant to further illustrate and substantiate Jesus' point in His parable on the wheat and the tares---i.e. that His kingdom is unstoppable, and will spread, even though its beginning is "apparently" diminutive and ambiguous; note NT scholar, Craig S. Keener's comment relative to the the mustard seed and leaven parable, he says:

    The Stories of Mustard Seed and Leaven

    The point of both parables is that the mighty kingdom everyone expected could issue from apparently obscure beginnings--like Jesus and the disciples."(Craig S. Keener, "The IVP Bible Background Commentary~New Testament," 83)

    If this true, Jim, this would throw your emphasis into perspective--and consequently your interpretation here would not follow! I don't believe your emphasis follows ;-)!

    In Christ,

    Bobby G.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 7/04/2006 5:19 PM  

  • Bobby, I do not want to come across as dogmatic...I readily confess to not having all knowledge and understanding of the scriptures.

    However, I believe there will be many scholars and commentators who will be sorely surprised at the immensity of their errors come judgement day.

    Let us not look to man's accreditation for an interpretive understanding of the divine revelations found in the Word of God.

    I sincerely wish we could all be on the same page, but it seems this will not come solely by study and analysis, but rather by the Holy Spirit illuminating our darkness.

    I look forward to more fruitful and edifying discussions.

    In Christ,

    By Blogger Jim, at 7/04/2006 5:33 PM  

  • Jim,

    I agree "appeal to credentials" is just as much of a fallacy as the "technical lang. fallacy" is! But lets remember that "credentials" actually stand for something--they highlight the fact that a particular individual, in this case Dr. Craig S. Keener (respected "evangelical" NT scholar), has taken the "time" to study out much of the Bible, in its context! I used him because he is a "teacher" (which God had graciously provided for in the church) who I believe gets at the context of this particular text. I used him because of the "merit" of his study, not because he has a Dr. before his name (although these two are reciprocally inter-related, as I just pointed out ;)!

    Why do you disagree with Keener's analysis, Jim? How do you dispute, contextually, the obvious point that Jesus is making (cf.13:36-43)? I.e. the apparent "small" origin of His kingdom, against all "human" odds, will flourish in the midst of the "tares" (which the mustard seed and leaven seem to illustrate)?

    I too enjoy dialogue with you, Jim, its been too long!

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 7/04/2006 5:54 PM  

  • Bobby, I too enjoy this dialogue. I do not wish to cast dispersions upon this man for I have no idea who he is.

    Nevertheless, any accreditation by an institution of man should not take the place of being approved unto God.

    I will have to do some more study on these passages before I say more lest I begin to ramble incoherently.

    Suffice it to say, many godly men have been wrong on some very key points of scripture and yet have been used greatly by God.

    That is a miracle, how God can use finite beings for His glory.

    Blessings in Christ,

    By Blogger Jim, at 7/04/2006 6:44 PM  

  • I respect your perspective, Jim!

    What if part/parcel of accreditation of "a" man, is recognition of the fact that that man is indeed "approved unto God"?

    I suppose that people are only considered authorities in a particular field insofar that their "authority" corresponds to the validity of what they are communicating about a given topic! I can see why you might want to marginalize Keener, i.e. you don't seem to think his perspective corresponds to what the text is communicating, thus he isn't an "authority", for you! But you still need to deal with "why" you don't believe his, and my, perspective does not correspond to the text under consideration--as I see you're going to do :-)!

    In Christ

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 7/04/2006 7:05 PM  

  • Lets not lose sight of this
    coment>But the Lord will ultimately divide the true from the false,<

    Take note of the fact that there is a confimation among others that are not Lordship, that do indeed believe as Lordship do, that there are true and false...professors and those of true faith.

    Which catagory would some of these fall in the soils and is it possible that the other soils can indeed be a twofold representation of false profession. IOW, is it not farfetched to see how MacArthur holds this position as this fine blogger seems inclined to hold the same belief, but apply it differantly.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 7/04/2006 11:10 PM  

  • IOW,Jim, by your arguments of this application in these two instances of a false life...is MacArthur wrong in his same application in seeing false life in the soils, but only the life of the good soil being true life?

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 7/04/2006 11:12 PM  

  • Can Rocky soil be seen with the same lens you view leaven?

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 7/04/2006 11:20 PM  

  • Bhedr, you are sharp as a tack! :)

    The parable of the tares seems to insinuate that there will be false believers dispersed amongst the true.

    While I think these parables have much in common, it was not my primary point to discuss the issue of false professions.

    Rather, I wish to point out that much of what we call Christendom is in fact a false portrayal of the true kingdom of heaven. While the world may view all protestant and catholic religions as being "Christian", we evangelical believers know this to be absolutely false.

    The Lord Jesus expressly warned of this situation and describe the appearance of the kingdom as such in these parables.

    BTW, I appreciate your candor in humbling yourself by acknowledging some past errors and hostility. My desire also is to seek mutual fellowship in a spirit of brotherly love. To that end, I hope not to appear condescending but rather desire to succinctly express my stated views as they currently exist.

    I too long for more grace and wisdom in discerning the riches of God's Word.


    By Blogger Jim, at 7/04/2006 11:42 PM  

  • Bobby, I wish I could assuage your concerns and provide undeniable proof of my case. However, at this junction I am unable to do so. It seems I have the contents of a very intriguing and controversial post here. Perhaps that is my next assignment.

    There are many, many Biblical scholars, pastors, commentators, etc. that could run circles around my knowledge and experience.

    However, we are to have the attitude of the Bereans when coming to the Word. I think the American spirit is very similar, we should not simply take the stated views of another for granted.

    I trust to be able to adequately address your question in the near future. Until then, keep 'em coming!

    By Blogger Jim, at 7/04/2006 11:52 PM  

  • Leo,
    You give an interesting description of yourself. :~) I know a lot of people who wuld fit that description - myself one of them, on and off (the wooing thing - I am surrounded by reformed people). Thanks for your comment. The motivation of the disciples seems to fit the context.

    Hi Jim,
    I have enjoyed reading your thoughts. You and Matthew are saying precisely what the teacher (J. Vernon McGee) had said. I am partial to that view, but I must say, the other approach has some merit. I think I am going to read the whole chapter again and try to see it better.

    Hi kc,
    It is good to see you. I hope you have a good week!

    Thank you for your comments! You are such a bright person and I want to thank you for your explanation. It is interesting to hear that point of view coming from a dispy. I guess this means that it is not a basic hermenuetical issue.
    As I read your comment I was reminded of this passage:

    Matthew 17:20
    He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

    I am sure it is no coincidence that the mustard seed was mentioned these two times in the book of Matthew. Thanks again! You have got me to thinking.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/05/2006 10:47 AM  

  • Hi IBEX,
    Thanks for jumping in. I appreciate your visits here. Your contribution is helpful.

    Nathaniel Adam King (that is a mouthful!! What happened to "Sofyst"?),
    Your first paragraph is where I am at with it! I have to think some more. It is just not as clear to me as it is to others.
    I REALLY HOPE MATTHEW WILL ANSWER YOUR QUESTION. I want to hear his answer also.

    Hello Earl!!
    It has been a long time since I have seen you, my reasonable friend. I agree - it is easy to misunderstand the parables.
    I am afraid I perhaps do this often. That is why I am doing a few posts on them - to see where I have gone wrong or right.
    ... there is such disagreement what the parables mean among large groups of people.
    This is my observation also. Thanks for visiting!!!

    It is nice to have your company on the fence. :~) I need a little more thinking and studying on this one. I do have some definite ideas about some of the other parables, however. Thanks for piping up!

    I remember a time when agreeing with Antonio was not such an uncommon occurence for you. ;~)
    Thanks for your explanation of "sarx."

    Thank you to all of you for your reasonable, lively and interesting discussion!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/05/2006 11:35 AM  

  • Hey Rose,

    Yes, and sometimes this fence sitting is good. I am still inclined toward Antonios positon here...so I might lose my....balance? Not something I'm good at anyway:-)


    Good thoughts and I certainley agree toward the end of your thoughts. Rome has always concerned me. I don't know if it is because I was a comic book fan growing up or what...no not Spiderman, although I still have a reletively large collection from the 70's and 80's, but all my Jack T.Chick comics:-) Of course I don't agree with all of his ways anymore either, but God uses all temperments.

    I appreciate you too brother. May we all seek the truth. The good thing is we are all trying to understand this gift we have been given, whereas in the O.T they were seeking to understand the gift they were to be given. It is hard for us to leave that mindset. Why? Because it seems to good to be true, and sometimes we as believers forget how good and true He is.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 7/05/2006 7:58 PM  

  • Hmm don't know.

    Well anyway I love the parables with a passion, even when I don't always know for sure, thanks for bringing this up. I sometimes feel like a little kid at Jesus' feet when I read the parables and imagine hearing them with the disciples. Please forgive the non-explaination comment.

    Sorry I don't have more to say.

    How are you doing Rose?? I hope you and your family are well.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 7/05/2006 10:51 PM  

  • Adam, I am not sure this is the place to explain different Dispensational views of the Kingdom.

    Most Dispensationalists view the Kingdom not as the Millennium, but as the sphere of God's moral authority.

    The public assembly is a sphere where this kingdom is active in spiritual or mystery form. Hence, the Church may be a zone of corruption acting within the Kingdom's claimed authority.

    If you think that is complicated, be glad J.N. Darby did not write this comment.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 7/06/2006 12:27 PM  

  • Great post here too Rosie! :)

    I think Antonio's right IMO.

    I think we too often act like ther is a Bible Code! That if something means smoething one place, or in most places, that gives us a key to interpret it elsewhere.

    I think this is a move away from the historical grammatical method because ot assumes the writers were not using the entire scope of the words or ideas they could otherwise draw from.

    Big hug,

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at 7/06/2006 2:35 PM  

  • that's my real spelling!...

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at 7/06/2006 2:37 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    In the Scriptures, a great tree that spreads and fills the earth is a familiar typology. It was used to describe both Assyria and Babylon in the Old Testament, and in a more positive application, it was used to represent the kingdom of God in the New:

    "I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,
    "Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us."

    (Ps 78:2-3)

    As such, the parables actually contain no new information. All they do is take the elusive truths of the Old Testament and put them in a new, more thought provoking application to explain the kingdom of God. They are both new and old, at the same time:

    "Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old."
    (Matt 13:52)

    And here is another important clue. When Jesus gave the parable of the sower, He told us that it was the key to understanding all the parables (Mark 14:13). In other words, the typology use there would prove constant when it reappeared in other parables.

    Now in the parable of the sower, the fowls of the air represented demons, and that's what they represent in the parable of the mustard seed as well. Check Out Revelation 18:2, where you can see this parallel again.

    Another good place to see this is in Luke 13:18-19, where the parable is repeated in another context, and this particular context offers an application:

    A woman in the synagogue had a spirit of infirmity for 18 years, and Jesus healed her on the Sabbath. You know the story: the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation and told them to come back on some other day to be healed.

    In other words, the devil had bound her for all that time, and the ruler of the synagogue was effectively saying: 'let her be bound even longer.' This put the 'man of God' in the same moral camp of the devil! And this is what Jesus addressed in repeating the parable:

    "What is the kingdom of God like? . . . it is like a mustard seed, which . . . grew and became a large tree . . .
    " . . . and the birds of the air nested in its branches."

    The ruler of the synogogue, who took his stand for an evil thing, is the 'bird who nested in the branches' of the tree of the kingdom of God. Jesus is simply warning us that even in the church, the devil will try to infiltrate with his little secret agents.

    One final word about parables. In foretelling them, Isaiah said that our ears would grow hard of hearing, lest we should hear and be saved. This is what Jesus is referring to when He says:

    "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

    In other words He is announcing that a deeper, parallel meaning may be found within the words He has just uttered, and we should think about them carefully (Selah). Hope that is helpful.


    By Blogger Cleopas, at 7/06/2006 9:39 PM  

  • Loren, very interesting thoughts here...I see you have deduced the purpose of the parable rather well.

    Rose, I think there is obviously more to these stories than what we would like to take at face value. It is far too simplistic to think that Jesus was merely telling His disciples everything would be ok and His kingdom would survive and flourish.

    After all, they were entirely convinced he was coming to free the Jews from the Roman oppression, not begin some spiritual entity called the kingdom of heaven.

    God bless,

    By Blogger Jim, at 7/06/2006 11:27 PM  

  • Shawn,
    I feel like a little kid like that too! Thanks for stopping by. We are fine. I hope you and your family are well also.

    I am thankful that YOU wrote that comment. Thanks.

    Hi HK,
    You called me "Rosie". That endears you to me. I don't know, Jodie, I am thinking that what Loren (Cleopas) says makes a lot of sense, but I also think Antonio's thoughts are great too. I am torn between the two approaches on these types of parables. I dunno! Either way, I feel I have been helped by everything I have read here! Absolutely! and that cannot be said of all the posts I have written. ;~)

    I must say, at first glance, your comments ring true to me. I am going to have to look up those verses and really give this some thought. Thank you so much for that comment.

    I think these are very hard parables ... very obscure, but there has been some good food for thought offered. Thanks for participating. I agree, there may be a "deeper hidden meaning..." (Harold Camping, covenant theologian on the radio, likes to say that - it is kind of fun for me to quote him!) ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/07/2006 12:47 AM  

  • I think I'll take Lorens advice and be more careful to give an endorsement next time. I think we all need to further study the O.T to gain insight although I still think Antonio did a good job.

    Interesting thoughts on those birds Loren.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 7/08/2006 12:17 PM  

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