Matt 13:24-51 Parable of the Tares of the Field CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
This is the second parable of the kingdom of heaven. This parable of the tares concerns the difference between the children of the kingdom and the children of the wicked one (13:38). Like the first parable, Jesus interpreted this one for the disciples. So, we will study the parable and it’s interpretation.
The parable is about a man (a householder in v.27) that sowed good seed in his field. Evidently, he had men (servants in v.27) who were to tend to the field during the growing season. However, early in the growing season, they slept. That’s when an enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, obviously to limit the productivity of the field. Tares look like wheat while they are growing. However, when the fruit appears, then you can tell them apart from the wheat (like the difference between maize and hay grazer).
When the man told the servants that an enemy had sown the tares, they asked if they should gather them up. The householder denied their request to keep them from rooting up the wheat. They were to wait until the harvest. At the harvest, the reapers were to first gather the tares to burn them and then they would gather the wheat into the barn.
In the interpretation, Jesus first described the types that he used and their associations. In studying parables, it is important to get the correct association for each type that is used. Otherwise, you will come to the wrong conclusion about the meaning of the parable. Once you get the associations, then you can see what the Lord was saying. The associations are:
37: The man who sowed the good seed = Jesus
38: The Field = The world
38: The Good Seed = Children of the kingdom
38: Tares = Children of the wicked one
39: The Enemy = The devil
39: The Harvest = The end of the world
39: The Reapers = The angels
In this parable the Lord showed his disciples that there are counterfeit children of the kingdom who will live along side the real ones all the way until right before the Lord’s return. The Lord doesn’t get rid of them because he would destroy some of his children in the process. In the end, the imitation children will be gathered together like the tares to be burned in hell (a place prepared for their father). Then the real children will shine forth in the kingdom of their Father when the Lord returns.
Now that we have an understanding of the parable and it’s application, we need to check the cross references to see what else we can learn from these things.
In verse 25, the enemy sowed the tares when the men slept, implying that they shouldn’t have been asleep. Likewise, we need to be wide-awake in our work for the Lord (1 Pet 5:8; Rom 13:11-12).
In verse 26, it is impossible to tell the true children from the fakes without fruit. But when the fruit appears, you can tell very easily (compare Matt 13:19-22 with Matt 13:23). So, to distinguish us from the world, we should bear fruit (Jn 15:8).
In verse 38, the children of the kingdom have God as their Father (Matt 6:8-9; 7:11; etc.). Likewise, the devil has his children (Jn 8:38, 44; Matt 23:15; Eph 2:2-3; 1 Jn 3:10-12). The devils children, like Cain and the Pharisees, are typically very religious and appear to be the real thing until you check their fruit. Consider Paul before he got saved. Therefore, we should be wise concerning religion (2 Cor 11:12-15). We should also be alerted to expect that the Antichrist’s followers will be very religious.
In verse 39, the harvest is the end of the world, not the end of the age, as in the modern Bibles. That’s because, after the harvest, Jesus will be ruling in the earth (Rev 11:15) and the devil will no longer be the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4). Therefore, the earth will not be the world (1 Jn 2:15-17) but it will be the kingdom of heaven. The transition from the world to the kingdom of heaven is not the progressive result of evangelistic efforts. It is the sudden and catastrophic result of the 2nd Advent (Joel 2). So, we can’t “bring in the kingdom.”
In verse 39, the angels are the reapers as in Rev 14:14-19. The gathering together of the tares is by divine appointment (Zeph 3:8; Zech 14:2). So, the United Nations will lead the nations against Israel before the Lord returns.
In verses 40-42, the fire is the flaming fire of the 2nd Advent (2 Thes 1:7-9) and the fire of a literal hell (Matt 18:8; 25:41; Rev 14:10-11).
In verse 43, the righteous shine forth as the sun because they are children of the kingdom and are like Jesus, the king of that kingdom, who is typified by the sun (Mal 4:2). When Jesus was here, he was the light of the world (Jn 8:12) and likewise, hid disciples were the light of the world (Matt 5:14). See the comparison in Dan 12:2-3. Therefore, we should shine as lights in the world (Phil 2:15).