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The Scofield Bible Commentary, by Cyrus Ingerson Scofield, [1917], at

Matthew Chapter 13

Matthew 13:3

mat 13:3

The seven parables of Matthew 13, called by our Lord, "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" (Mat 13:11), taken together, describe the result of the presence of the Gospel in the world during the present age, that is, the time of seed sowing which began with our Lord's personal ministry, and ends with the "harvest" (Mat 13:40-43). Briefly, the result is mingled tares and wheat, good fish and bad, in the sphere of Christian profession. It is Christendom.


The figure marks a new beginning. To labour in God's vineyard Israel, (Isa 5:1-7) is one thing, to go forth sowing the seed of the word in a field which is the world, quite another (cf) (Mat 10:5). One fourth of the seed takes permanent root, but the result is "wheat"; (Mat 13:25); (Pe1 1:23) or "children of the kingdom" (Mat 13:38). This parable (Mat 13:3-9); (Mat 13:18-23) is treated throughout as foundational to the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. It is interpreted by our Lord Himself.

Matthew 13:11

mat 13:11


A "mystery" in Scripture is a previously hidden truth, now divinely revealed; but in which a supernatural element still remains despite the revelation. The greater mysteries are:

1) The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Mat 13:3-50).

(2) the mystery of Israel's blindness during this age (Rom 11:25) (with context);

(3) the mystery of the translation of living saints at the end of this age (Co1 15:51-52); (Th1 4:14-17).

(4) the mystery of New Testament church as one body composed of Jew and Gentile (Eph 3:1-11); (Rom 16:25); (Eph 6:19); (Col 4:3).

(5) the mystery of the church as the bride of Christ (Eph 5:28-32).

(6) the mystery of the inliving Christ (Gal 2:20); (Col 1:26-27).

(7) the "mystery of God even Christ," that is, Christ as the incarnate fullness of the Godhead embodied, in whom all the divine wisdom for man subsists (Col 2:2); (Col 2:9); (Co1 2:7).

(8) the mystery of the processes by which godlikeness is restored to man (Ti1 3:16).

(9) the mystery of iniquity (Th2 2:7); (Mat 13:33).

(10) the mystery of the seven stars (Rev 1:20).

(11) the mystery of Babylon (Rev 17:5); (Rev 17:7).


(See Scofield) - (Mat 3:2).

Matthew 13:17

mat 13:17


The Old Testament prophets saw in blended vision the rejection and crucifixion of the King

(see "Christ, sacrifice,) (Gen 4:4);

(See Scofield) - (Heb 10:18)

and also His glory as David's Son.

(See Scofield) - (Zac 12:8),

but "what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow," was not revealed to them -- only that the vision was not for themselves. (Pe1 1:10-12). That revelation Christ makes in these parables. A period of time is to intervene between His sufferings and His glory. That interval is occupied with the "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" here described.



(See Scofield) - (Rom 10:10).

Matthew 13:19

mat 13:19


(See Scofield) - (Mat 3:2).

Matthew 13:24

mat 13:24


This parable (Mat 13:24-30) is also interpreted by our Lord (Mat 13:36-43). Here the "good seed" is not the "word," as in the first parable (Mat 13:19); (Mat 13:23) but rather that which the word has produced. (Pe1 1:23); namely: the children of the kingdom. These are, providentially (Mat 13:37) "sown," that is, scattered, here and there in the "field" of the "world" (Mat 13:38). The "world" here is both geographical and ethnic -- the earth-world, and also the world of men. The wheat of God at once becomes the scene of Satan's activity. Where children of the kingdom are gathered, there "among the wheat" (Mat 13:25); (Mat 13:38); (Mat 13:39). Satan "sows" "children of the wicked one," who profess to be children of the kingdom, and in outward ways are so like the true children that only the angels may, in the end, be trusted to separate them (Mat 13:28-30); (Mat 13:40-43). So great is Satan's power of deception that the tares often really suppose themselves to be children of the kingdom (Mat 7:21-23). Many other parables and exhortations have this mingled condition in view (for example); (Mat 22:11-14); (Mat 25:1-13); (Mat 25:14-30); (Luk 18:10-14); (Heb 6:4-9).

Indeed, it characterizes Matthew from Chapter 13 to the end. The parable of the wheat and tares is not a description of the world, but of that which professes to be the kingdom. Mere unbelievers are never the children of the devil, but only religious unbelievers are so called.

Compare (Mat 13:38); (Joh 8:38-44); (Mat 23:15).

The kingdom

(See Scofield) - (Mat 3:2).

Matthew 13:30

mat 13:30


The gathering of the tares into bundles for burning does not imply immediate judgment. At the end of this age (Mat 13:40) the tares are set apart for burning, but first the wheat is gathered into the barn. (Joh 14:3); (Th1 4:14-17).

Matthew 13:31

mat 13:31

Another parable

The parable of the Mustard Seed prefigures the rapid but unsubstantial growth of the mystery form of the kingdom from an insignificant beginning (Act 1:15); (Act 2:41); (Co1 1:26) to a great place in the earth. The figure of the fowls finding shelter in the branches is drawn from (Dan 4:20-22). How insecure was such a refuge the context in Daniel shows.


(See Scofield) - (Mat 3:2).

Matthew 13:33

mat 13:33

Another parable

That interpretation of the parable of the Leaven (Mat 13:33) which makes (with variation as to details) the leaven to be the Gospel, introduced into the world ("three measures of meal") by the church, and working subtly until the world is converted ("till the whole was leavened") is open to fatal objection:

(1) it does violence to the unvarying symbolical meaning of leaven, and especially to the meaning fixed by our Lord Himself. (Mat 16:6-12); (Mar 8:15).

See "Leaven," (Gen 19:3).

(See Scofield) - (Mat 13:33).

(2) The implication of a converted world in this age ("till the whole was leavened"), is explicitly contradicted by our Lord's interpretation of the parables of the Wheat and Tares, and of the Net. Our Lord presents a picture of a partly converted kingdom in an unconverted world; of good fish and bad in the very kingdom-net itself.

(3) The method of the extension of the kingdom is given in the first parable. It is by sowing seed, not by mingling leaven. The symbols have, in Scripture, a meaning fixed by inspired usage. Leaven is the principle of corruption working subtly; is invariably used in a bad sense.

See "Leaven,"

(See Scofield) - (Gen 19:3),

and is defined by our Lord as evil doctrine. (Mat 16:11-12); (Mar 8:15). Meal, on the contrary, was used in one of the sweet-savour offerings (Lev 2:1-3). And was food for the priests (Lev 6:15-17). A woman, in the bad ethical sense, always symbolizes something out of place, religiously,

(See Scofield) - (Zac 5:6).

In Thyatira, it was a woman teaching.

Compare (Rev 2:20); (Rev 17:1-6).

Interpreting the parable by these familiar symbols, it constitutes a warning that the true doctrine, given for nourishment of the children of the kingdom; (Mat 4:4); (Ti1 4:6); (Pe1 2:2) would be mingled with corrupt and corrupting false doctrine, and that officially, by the apostate church itself; (Ti1 4:1-3); (Ti2 2:17-18); (Ti2 4:3-4); (Pe2 2:1-3).



(1) Leaven, as a symbolic or typical substance, is always mentioned in the Old Testament in an evil sense (Gen 19:3);

(See Scofield) - (Gen 19:3).

(2) The use of the word in the New Testament explains its symbolic meaning. It is "malice and wickedness," as contrasted with "sincerity and truth" (Co1 5:6-8); it is evil doctrine (Mat 16:12) in its three-fold form of Pharisasism, Sadduceeism, Herodianism; (Mat 16:6); (Mar 8:15). The leaven of the Pharisees was externalism in religion. (Mat 23:14); (Mat 23:16); (Mat 23:23-28); of the Sadducees, scepticism as to the supernatural and as to the Scriptures (Mat 22:23); (Mat 22:29); of the Herodians, worldliness -- a Herod party amongst the Jews; (Mat 22:16-21); (Mar 3:6).

(3) The use of the word in (Mat 13:33) is congruous with its universal meaning.

Matthew 13:38

mat 13:38


Greek, "kosmos", means "mankind".

(See Scofield) - (Mat 4:8).


(See Scofield) - (Mat 3:2).

Matthew 13:39

mat 13:39


Satan. Greek, "diabolos", means "accuser". See note, (Mat 16:23); (Gen 3:1); (Rev 20:10).

(See Scofield) - (Rev 20:10).


(See Scofield) - (Heb 1:4).

Matthew 13:41

mat 13:41

Son of man

(See Scofield) - (Mat 8:20).


(See Scofield) - (Heb 1:4).


(See Scofield) - (Mat 3:2).

them which do


(See Scofield) - (Rom 3:23).

Matthew 13:43

mat 13:43


The kingdom does not become the kingdom of the "Father" until Christ, having "put all enemies under his feet," including the last enemy, death, has "delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father" (Co1 15:24-28); (Rev 20:2). There is triumph over death at the first resurrection (Co1 15:54-55) but death, "the last enemy," is not destroyed till the end of the millennium. (Rev 20:14).


(See Scofield) - (Rom 10:10).

Also (Col 3:4); (Th2 1:5-10).

Matthew 13:44

mat 13:44


The interpretation of the parable of the treasure, which makes the buyer of the field to be a sinner who is seeking Christ, has no warrant in the parable itself. The field is defined (Mat 13:38) to be the world. The seeking sinner does not buy, but forsakes, the world to win Christ. Furthermore, the sinner has nothing to sell, nor is Christ for sale, nor is He hidden in a field, nor, having found Christ, does the sinner hide Him again.

Compare (Mar 7:24); (Act 4:20).

At every point the interpretation breaks down.

Our Lord is the buyer at the awful cost of His blood (Pe1 1:18); and Israel, especially Ephraim (Jer 31:5-12); (Jer 31:18-20); the lost tribes hidden in "the field," the world (Mat 13:38), is the treasure; (Exo 19:5); (Psa 135:4). Again, as in the separation of tares and wheat, the angels are used; (Mat 24:31); (Jer 16:16). The divine Merchantman buys the field (world) for the sake of the treasure (Mat 13:44); (Rom 11:28); beloved for the fathers' sakes, and yet to be restored and saved. The note of joy (Mat 13:44) is also that of the prophets in view of Israel's restoration. (Deu 30:9); (Isa 49:13); (Isa 52:1-3); (Isa 62:4-7); (Isa 62:65); (Isa 62:18-19).

(See "Israel,") (Gen 11:10); (Rom 11:26).


(See Scofield) - (Mat 3:2).

Matthew 13:45

mat 13:45


The true Church, "one body" formed by the Holy Spirit (Co1 12:12-13). As Israel is the hid treasure, so the Church is the pearl of great cost. Covering the same period of time as the mysteries of the kingdom, is the mystery of the Church; (Rom 16:25-26); (Eph 3:3-10); (Eph 5:32). Of the true Church a pearl is a perfect symbol:

(1) A pearl is one, a perfect symbol of unity (Co1 10:17); (Co1 12:12); (Co1 12:13); (Eph 4:4-6).

(2) a pearl is formed by the accretion, and that not mechanically, but vitally, through a living one, as Christ adds to the Church (Act 2:41); (Act 2:47); (Act 5:14); (Act 11:24); (Eph 2:21); (Col 2:19).

(3) Christ, having given Himself for the pearl, is now preparing it for presentation to Himself (Eph 5:25-27). The kingdom is not the Church, but the true children of the kingdom during the fulfilment of these mysteries, baptized by one Spirit into one body (Co1 12:12-13) compose the true Church, the pearl.


(See Scofield) - (Mat 3:2).

Matthew 13:47

mat 13:47

the kingdom of heaven

The parable of the Net (Greek, "sagēnē", "net") presents another view from that of the wheat and tares of the mysteries of the kingdom as the sphere of profession, but with this difference: there Satan was the active agent; here the admixture is more the result of the tendency of a movement to gather to itself that which is not really of it). The kingdom of heaven is like a net which, cast into the sea of humanity, gathers of every kind, good and bad, and these remain together in the net (Mat 13:49) and not merely in the sea, until the end of the age. It is not even a converted net, much less a converted sea. Infinite violence has been done to sound exegesis by the notion that the world is to be converted in this age. Against that notion stands our Lord's own interpretation of the parables of the Sower, the Wheat and Tares, and the Net.

Such, then, is the mystery form of the kingdom.

(See Scofield) - (Mat 3:2).

(See Scofield) - (Mat 6:33).

It is the sphere of Christian profession during this age. It is a mingled body of true and false, wheat and tares, good and bad. It is defiled by formalism, doubt, and worldliness. But within it Christ sees the true children of the true kingdom who, at the end, are to "shine forth as the sun." In the great field, the world, He sees the redeemed of all ages, but especially His hidden Israel, yet to be restored and blessed, Also, in this form of the kingdom, so unlike that which is to be, He sees the Church, His body and bride, and for joy He sells all that He has (Co2 8:9) and buys the field, the treasure, and the pearl.


(See Scofield) - (Mat 3:2).

Matthew 13:49

mat 13:49

end of the

consummation of the age. (Mat 24:3).

Matthew 13:55

mat 13:55


Son of Alphaeus.

(See Scofield) - (Mat 4:21).

Next: Matthew Chapter 14