PD In Depth
Kingdom Hope in the OT
Kingdom Hope in Psalms
Kingdom Hope in Gospels
Kingdom Hope in Parables
The Abrahamic Covenant
Heaven Destiny Origin
The Mystery Revealed
Paul & the Mystery
Church in the OT - I
Church in the OT - II
Church in the OT - III
Kingdom Hope in Hebrews
Daniel's 70 Weeks
Jesus & David's Throne
Intro: Couch vs. Warner
I. Opening - Warner
I. Rebuttal - Couch
I. Response - Warner
I. Closing - Couch
II. Opening - Couch
II. Rebuttal - Warner
II. Response - Couch
II. Closing - Warner
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Doctrinal Studies > Progressive
in the Parables of Jesus
Copyright © Tim Warner
THE NATURE AND
PURPOSE OF PARABLES
Matthew stated two important facts in the above verses. First, that Jesus spoke to the crowds exclusively by parables. That is, he did not teach them using plain literal speech. His teaching to them was through cryptic stories that needed to be interpreted before they could be understood. Neither did Jesus expound the meaning of His parables to the crowds. He left them to wonder what they meant, knowing that those with “ears to hear” would indeed hear and understand.
Second, this was in order to fulfill a specific Old Testament prophecy, Psalm 78:2. Jesus was the prophesied One, the one to reveal what had been a mystery up until this time, “kept secret from the foundation of the world.” His parables were one of the ways Jesus began to reveal the mystery kept secret from the beginning.
After telling the parable of the Sower to the crowds, Jesus ended with His usual comment:(Mark 4:9). Mark recorded an interesting exchange between Jesus and the disciples immediately after His telling this parable. “But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. And He said to them, ‘To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them’.” (Mark. 4:10-12). “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Jesus did not expound the meaning of His parables to the crowds or the religious leaders. Only when He was alone with His followers did He explain the meaning of these cryptic stories in plain language. The disciples asked Him why He did not teach the crowds plainly. Jesus’ reply may seem strange to modern Christians. After all, didn’t He come to offer salvation to the whole world? Yet, Jesus said the reason He did not teach the crowds plainly was because it was not for them to understand the mystery, but only for the disciples. Jesus used obscure language with the crowds and religious leaders “so that 'Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them'.” (Jesus’ quoting Isa. 6:9-10). In effect, Jesus left them in their self-imposed state of blindness for a reason. His parables were meant to conceal as well as reveal, depending on the audience.
did not come the
first time to convert the whole nation of
Gospel accounts of Jesus’ interaction with the religious leaders, it is
increasingly obvious that Jesus provoked them on purpose. The closer we
the crucifixion, the more blatant and stinging were Jesus’ public
rebukes of the
scribes, chief priests, and Pharisees. Matthew 23 describes the climax
antagonism, with Jesus’ open denouncement of the religious leaders as
“hypocrites” in front of the crowds of people
gathered at the
To those who chose to follow Him, Jesus said it was given to them to understand the mystery of the Kingdom. Jesus taught His true followers by parables, interpreting His own parables, and by plain teaching in literal terms. These are the ones who became Jesus’ Church. These are the men that He later sent out to make converts of the Gentile nations, and teach them to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20).
many things plainly to His disciples, including the events of His
coming. Yet, He did not expound the main reason for His first coming
day of His resurrection. Yes, He told them on a couple of occasions
must be killed, and would rise again the third day. But He did not
it was necessary for the Jewish Messiah to suffer and be rejected by
to Luke, Jesus
met two of the disciples walking on the road to Emmaus shortly after
For the very first time He clearly explained the purpose of the
were still in mourning, not recognizing Him, nor understanding the
the empty tomb. As Jesus joined them, He asked why they were so glum.
recounted the story of the crucifixion, saying that they had believed
the Messiah of Israel. Jesus responded, “’O
foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets
spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter
His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded
in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke
you have liked to be privy to that sermon? Can you imagine walking with
as He unveiled every Old Testament Scripture about Himself, and the
His suffering? The two disciples certainly were deeply moved by this
After reflecting on this incident, they said to one another, “’Did not our heart burn within us while
talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?’”
(Luke 24:32). That same afternoon, Jesus appeared to the rest of the
Now it all began to make sense to the disciples. Those strange words and actions of Jesus the night of His betrayal, when He told them all to drink the wine as a symbol of His blood of the New Covenant, and eat of the bread as a symbol of His body broken for them, suddenly became clear. On this resurrection Sunday, Jesus took them through the entire Old Testament, explaining each and every prophetic Scripture that referred to Himself and the atoning work of the Messiah before entering into His glory. You can bet that the disciples spent considerable time soaking in the meanings of Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and many other passages that are much more obscure. Yet, there they were, suddenly clearly understood by the disciples. The Messiah had to provide the atonement for sin. The New Covenant had to be inaugurated with the blood of the Messiah Himself, before He could enter into His glory, and rule in His coming Kingdom. All those animal sacrifices they had offered year after year were merely prophetic of Christ and His atoning work.
mystery had been
revealed by Christ through the prophetic Scriptures. It was there all
But, it was not understood either by the religious leaders, the crowds,
Jesus’ own disciples. It had to be kept secret for one very important
Had all this gotten out before the crucifixion, God’s eternal plan
been derailed. Paul tells us why. “But
speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God
before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age
had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
2:7-8). The crucifixion was necessary. Therefore, secrecy from both the
and demonic powers was necessary until after Jesus was crucified. This
Jesus spoke to the crowds and religious leaders in parables, and why
teaching His disciples he spoke plainly of His second coming, but not
reason for His first coming.
TWO KINDS OF
both of these
parables, the Kingdom begins very small. A mustard seed is extremely
Yet, a very large tree grows slowly from a single seed. Likewise,
leaven is but
a small pinch of powder, added to the dough. Yet, it eventually leavens
whole loaf during the baking process. Both of these parables indicate
Kingdom would begin in a very small way, and grow over time into
Of course, this idea seems to conflict with premillennialism, which sees the Kingdom as coming exclusively at the second coming of Christ in a blaze of glory, and is immediately a universal Kingdom. How do we as premillennialists account for this? On the other hand, amillennialists cannot properly account for the other parables that place the Kingdom on earth after the judgment and second coming.
The reason for this apparent conflict is not because premillennialism is wrong. It is because of the failure of both premillennialists and amillennialists to understand the progressive nature of the Kingdom, and its coming to earth in stages.
The parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven both referred to Jesus’ founding His Church. He started with only a small band of disciples. Yet, His Church has grown into a world-wide body with millions of believers. Eventually it will contain a remnant from every tribe, nation, and language on earth (Rev. 5:9). Yet, Jesus called this the “Kingdom,” in the above parables, during this gradual expansion in the present age.
then that the Kingdom has already come, and there is no future rule of
on earth, as amillennialists teach? Absolutely not! Jesus gave more
parables that fully support the premillennial understanding of the
many premillennialists have failed to see is that the Kingdom comes in
stages. First, it came as a seed. Jesus called out of
not happen for everyone voluntarily. The current expansion of the
earth will become large, as Jesus indicated in these parables. But, it
still only include a remnant from each nation. Once that occurs, Jesus
return in person, subdue all the nations, overthrow their armies, and
His world-wide Kingdom in
There is no need to deal with all of the Kingdom parables, since they all teach similar things about Christ’s second coming. Rather, we will deal with the one parable that contains by far the most information, the Wheat and Tares.
THE WHEAT AND TARES
critical, not only because of the clear end-time details, but because
the entire age in which we live. It is impossible to chop this parable
put its application outside of the “Church age,” as pretribulationists
of doing with Jesus’ teaching. The reason is that the wheat and tares
to grow side by side from Jesus’ time through the present age until the
— Christ’s coming. Since the parable obviously includes this time in
which we now live, the harvest necessarily concerns Christians.
chapter, Jesus explained this parable to His disciples as follows:
are several important
points we wish to make from this parable.
notice the “wheat” living among the tares are the “sons of the
The field is the “world” — that is this present world system in which
we live. Those of us who
have received the Gospel and subjected ourselves to Christ our King,
are now “sons of the Kingdom.”
Third, the wheat and tares remain mixed together in the field until the harvest. There is no pre-tribulation rapture to remove the wheat seven years before the destruction of the tares. Both grow together until the harvest, and are harvested at the same time 1. No one is taken to heaven 2.
Fourth, when the harvest comes at the “end of the age.” the angels “will gather out of His kingdom” all those wholly given to wickedness and lawlessness. The words, “out of His Kingdom,” imply that the Kingdom was present during the former stage when the wheat and tares grew together. Yet, it is also present after the harvest. Jesus goes on to say, “the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Here we have a clear indication that the Kingdom is present on earth both before and after Christ’s return, and the harvest at the end of the age. The purpose of the harvest is to eliminate those wholly given to wickedness, that is, the sons of Satan, planted by him. It is also to elevate the wheat to positions of authority, shining forth “as the sun” in the Kingdom. That is, to advance them to their positions as rulers of the earth in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
1. Both are harvested at the “end of the age” (v. 39). However, in the parable, Jesus said the reapers were ordered to first gather the tares, bind them in bundles for the purpose of being burned (v. 30), and then gather the wheat in the barn. Nothing suggests that the tares were burned before the wheat is gathered into the barn, only bound in bundles. Jesus was using imagery familiar to the disciples who lived in an agricultural society. They were no doubt familiar with the common practice of separating wheat and tares at the time of harvest. The typical procedure was to gather the tares first, bind them in bundles, and leave them in the field. After harvesting the wheat, the fields were burned to get rid of the debris, including the tares left in piles of bundles. This scenario fits a posttribulation rapture perfectly. Joel 3:2, Zech. 14:2, & Rev. 16:12-16 indicate that the wicked opponents of Christ will be gathered and brought down to Jerusalem for the battle of the Day of the Lord. This corresponds to the gathering of the tares first — Satan’s devoted followers bent on defeating Christ at His coming (see Rev. 19:19-21). The gathering of the wheat would then follow the gathering and binding of the tares. Finally, the wicked would be destroyed.
2. The concept of the righteous being taken to heaven when Christ returns is not taught in any of Jesus’ parables or plain teaching to His disciples. It is a concept totally foreign to the Gospels. All of Jesus’ Kingdom parables point to either the present state of the Kingdom on earth, or to the inauguration of Christ’s political Kingdom at His coming. The inheritance of the righteous is always related to the Kingdom (eg. Matt. 8:11). Some have mistakenly supposed that Matthew’s use of the term “Kingdom of Heaven” refers to heaven itself. But, the parallel passages in the other Gospels use the phrase, “Kingdom of God.” Both terms are synonymous, meaning the Kingdom of God. Both terms are derived from Daniel’s prophecy of the Kingdom in Dan. 2:44. “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed…” In reality, it is the Kingdom of the God of heaven, “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of heaven” for short. Many passages in Matthew make it clear that the “Kingdom of heaven” is what was promised to Israel(cf. Matt. 3:2, 4:17, etc). Also, the Sermon on the Mount equates inheritance of the “Kingdom of Heaven” with inheriting the earth. (cf. Matt. 5:3,5 & Psalm 37:9,11, 22). The idea is that the Kingdom of the God of heaven comes to earth from heaven.
3. That the angels gather the righteous at Jesus’ coming is further established by Jesus in Matt. 24:31. “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” This is perfectly compatible with Paul’s description of the rapture in 1 Thess. 4. Paul wrote that the living would be “caught up.” The Greek word means “to seize, to carry off by force” (Thayer).