The Gospel of Matthew
"E. Schuyler English: The Gospel According to Matthew"
The Book of MATTHEW
Matt. 13:1, 2
We have said that it was a most important day in the life of our Lord which we are studying. For this was the day on which His crisis came, the day when it was evident that the Kingdom of the heavens which He had been offering was to be rejected, the day when He first said "Whosoever" and began the new message: "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." On that "same day Jesus went out of the house (typical of Israel), and sat by the seaside (typical of the Gentile nations)" (Matt. 13:1), and spoke in parables, the mysteries of the Kingdom of the heavens.
You will recall that in the Introduction to these studies in Matthew's Gospel we learned that "the Kingdom of the heavens" has more than one meaning. That which John the Baptist preached to be "at hand," for the King was present, and which our Lord presented to His own people Israel, was the Messianic earthly rule of the Lord Jesus, the Son of David. This was rejected by the Jews. That Kingdom of the heavens which is spoken of in Matthew thirteen we shall find does not refer to that Messianic earthly reign, nor to the Church, (and by the Church we mean the Body of believers), as it is so often misinterpreted to mean, but to Christendom, that is, professing Christianity during our Lord's bodily absence from the earth.
Matt. 13:10, 11, 34, 35
Such a conclusion is based on the very definite teaching of our Lord Himself. His "disciples came, and said unto Him, why speakest Thou unto them (the multitudes) in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of the heavens, but to them it is not given" (Matt. 13:10, 11). The dictionary definition of the word mystery is: Something unknown, unexplained, or incomprehensible in its nature. "Because it is given unto you to know the things which are unknown or unexplained of the Kingdom of the heavens." Eleven times the word mystery is used in the Word of God for something which is then being explained: in other words, the Bible definition of the word mystery is: A previously hidden truth now divinely revealed. Further, in Matthew 13:34, 35, we read: "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake He not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world."
Now we know that the Kingdom of the heavens as presented to Israel by our Lord, the Messianic earthly reign when He should come to sit upon the throne of His father David in a glorious and visible manner, was known and foretold by the prophets, yet here our Lord said to His disciples: "That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them" (Matt. 13:17). Therefore, the mysteries which heretofore had not been revealed, the things which the prophets of old had not seen or heard, could not have been the Kingdom of the heavens announced by John the Baptist, presented by our Lord and rejected by Israel. No; here the Lord Jesus Christ, the Anti-type of Joseph, the revealer of secrets, was unfolding in the parables not the old, but new truths, the mysteries of the Kingdom of the heavens. We have said that the Kingdom of the heavens of this chapter is not the Church (we repeat that by the Church is meant not the great ecclesiastical organization, but the Body of believers), but that it represents Christendom, that is, professing Christianity. The Church is only mentioned twice in Matthew's Gospel, in 16:18, where our Lord spoke of building His Church, and in 18:17. Where the Church is mentioned in the Word of God by a name other than His Church, it is called the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, the Habitation of God, a Temple, a House, but not the Kingdom of the heavens. We have stated that our conclusion that the Kingdom of the heavens of these parables represents Christendom rather than the Church is based on the definite teaching of the Lord Jesus. Let us look at the parable of the wheat and the tares which the Lord Himself interpreted in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. Using as a key the interpretation, the parable reads: The Kingdom of the heavens is likened unto the Son of Man Who sowed the children of the Kingdom in the world; but while men slept, Satan came and sowed his children among the children of the Kingdom, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up and brought forth the fruit, there appeared the children of the wicked one also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto the Son of Man, Sir, didst Thou not sow the children of the Kingdom in the world? From whence then hath it children of the evil one? He said unto them, Satan hath done this. The servants said unto Him, wilt Thou then that we go and gather them up? But He said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the children of the wicked one, ye root up also the children of the Kingdom with them. Let both grow together till the consummation of the age: and in the time of the consummation of the age I will say to the angels, Gather ye together first the children of the wicked one, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the children of the Kingdom into My barn." The only necessary comment at this point is that the Kingdom of the heavens cannot mean the Church, the Bride of Christ, for in the Bride of Christ there can never be children of the wicked one. The Kingdom of the heavens therefore must be Christendom, composed of saved and unsaved; the Church is a part of Christendom, but it is not Christendom.
There are eight parables in Matthew thirteen, the seven parables of the mystery of the Kingdom, and the final parable of verse fifty-two which instructed the disciples as to the position of the revelation given them in relation to Old Testament Scripture. The seven Kingdom parables are divided into two sections: the first four were told before the multitudes, the final three to the disciples alone. There is a relationship between the parables and the message to seven churches of Revelation two and three which it will be impractical for us to study here, but which is suggested for your consideration. The key to the interpretation of all of the parables is our Lord's own unfolding of the first two; if the man who sowed the seed in the second parable is the Son of Man, the man of the first, fifth and sixth parables is also the Son of Man. If in the second parable the field is the world, then surely the field in the third and fifth parables is also the world.
"And He spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow. ... The Kingdom of the heavens is likened unto a man who sowed good seed in his field. ... The Kingdom of the heavens is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field. ... The Kingdom of the heavens is like unto leaven which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal. ... The Kingdom of the heavens is like unto treasure hid in a field. ... The Kingdom of the heavens is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls. ... The Kingdom of the heavens is like unto a net, that was cast into the. sea ..."
Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23
"Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold" (Matt. 13:3-8).
The Lord Jesus interpreted His own words (vs. 19-23). He did not say who the sower was, but in the second parable He explained that the "man who sowed good seed" was the Son of Man, and since the seed was the Word (vs. 19) we know the sower was the Lord. "The sower went forth" -- this was a new beginning; no longer was the message for Israel, but He now went forth unto the Gentiles.
"Some (seed) fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up." Is the world to get better and better, as we are often told? Will the world be converted? The Lord Jesus taught His disciples to the contrary. The Word was sown by the Son of Man, but some fell by the wayside; only one-fourth of the seed took deep root. The Word continues to be sown by The Sower, The Son of Man, Who by the Holy Spirit scatters the Word through believers, and as it was not received by all who heard it in our Lord's day, at the beginning of the new age, so it is not universally received today. Some falls by the wayside and the wicked one catches it away.
"Some fell upon stony places, ... and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away." There are those who hear the Gospel with great joy, but they only endure for a while. Trial, misunderstanding, persecution -- these are the Devil's instruments that wither the rocky-ground hearer, and he is offended.
"Some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them." There are those who hear the Word, but because of the world, the deceit of riches and power, the Word is choked. Satan has attacked -- the Devil, the flesh, and the world have defeated the wayside hearer, the stony-ground hearer, and the thorny-ground hearer.
"But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the Word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." The Word finds deep root in some hearts, which are fruitful. May you be one of these. But not all bring forth an hundredfold. Are you fruitful? Does your heart bring forth thirty, sixty, or an hundredfold for the Lord Jesus Christ?
Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43"The Kingdom of the heavens is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, an enemy hath done this. The servants said unto