Matthew 13:33-35 Parable of the Leaven

Matt 13:33-35 Parable of the Leaven CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO

This parable of the leaven, like the parable of the mustard seed, is also applied to the kingdom of God (Lk 13:20-21) and is commonly mistaken as a parable about the spreading of the gospel through out the world. After analyzing the parable and comparing it to other scriptures, we will see that this parable is about the spreading of apostasy before the coming of the Lord.

Leaven always has a negative connotation, so the Lord would never use it as a type of the gospel. Leaven is a type of false doctrine or sin.

· In Matt 16:6-12, Jesus told the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. He was warning them against the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
· In Gal 5:7-9, Paul rebuked the Galatians for letting someone hinder them from obeying the truth. He warned them “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” He was referring to false doctrine.
· In 1 Cor 5:6-8, Paul rebuked the Corinthians for letting a particular sin ruin the testimony of the church. He compared the effect of this sin to the action of leaven in the lump. And he defined the leaven as “malice and wickedness.”

Examples of the false doctrines taught by the Pharisees and Sadducees include:

· Circumcision is essential for salvation – Gal 5:1-11; Acts 15:1, 5 [today it’s water baptism]
· Tradition is of more authority than scripture – Mk 7:5-13
· God hears vain repetitious prayers – Matt 6:7
· Religious leaders should be called “father” – Matt 23:8-10
· Religious leaders should wear long robes and say long prayers – Lk 20:46-47
· Jesus did not bodily rise from the dead and angels are not real – Acts 23:8; 1 Cor 15:12

Now a woman hides this leaven in three measures of meal. Since the church is the bride of Christ, many expositors liken the woman to the church. But the church is never called a woman; she is called a chaste virgin (2 Cor 11:2), a bride (Jn 3:29), or a wife (Rev 19:7). So, this woman is somebody else besides the church.

The woman is the great whore of Rev 17:1-6. She commits fornication with the kings of the earth [remember Jesus is teaching about a kingdom here] because she is an adulteress (Rev 2:20; Prov 7). She is gorgeously arrayed in expensive religious garments and she has a golden cup. She is responsible for the martyrdom of the saints of Jesus. There is a church that fits this description, which holds the false doctrines of the Pharisees.

You can see the effect of the leaven in professing Christianity today. Protestant churches that broke away from Catholicism, for instance, have been leavened with the false doctrines of baptismal regeneration, tradition over scripture, clergy over laity, denial of the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, and so forth. They are becoming more like the Catholic Church again.

Jesus taught his disciples about these things in parables to fulfill scripture. It was prophesied in Ps 78:2 that he would teach them in parables. In so doing, he was revealing things that had formerly been secret. It is a great blessing to be able to “see” the things he taught them by simply checking them against scripture.