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Matthew 13:36

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Jesus - went into the house: and his disciples came - Circumstances of this kind should not pass unnoticed: they are instructive and important. Those who attend only to the public preaching of the Gospel of God are not likely to understand fully the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. To understand clearly the purport of the Divine message, a man must come to God by frequent, fervent, secret prayer. It is thus that the word of God sinks into the heart, is watered, and brings forth much fruit.

Declare (φρασον, explain) unto us the parable of the tares of the field. - To what has already been spoken on this parable, the following general exposition may be deemed a necessary appendage: -

    I. What is the cause of Evil in the world?

  • We must allow that God, who is infinite in holiness, purity, and goodness, could not have done it. Nothing can produce what is not in itself. This is a maxim which every man subscribes to: God then could not have produced sin, forasmuch as his nature is infinite goodness and holiness. He made man at first in his own image, a transcript of his own purity: and, since sin entered into the world, He has done every thing consistent with his own perfections, and the freedom of the human mind, to drive it out, and to make and keep man holy.
  • After a thousand volumes are written on the origin of evil, we shall just know as much of it as Christ has told us here - An enemy hath done it, and this enemy is the devil, Matthew 13:39.
  • This enemy is represented as a deceitful enemy: a friend in appearance, soliciting to sin, by pleasure, honor, riches, etc.
  • A vigilant enemy. While men sleep he watches, Matthew 13:25.
  • A hidden or secret enemy. After having sown his seed, he disappears, Matthew 13:25. Did he appear as himself, few would receive solicitations to sin; but he is seldom discovered in evil thoughts, unholy desires, flattering discourses, bad books, etc.
  • II. Why was evil permitted to enter into the world?

  • There are doubtless sufficient reasons in the Divine Mind for its permission; which, connected with his infinite essence, and extending to eternity, are not only unfathomable by us, but also, from their nature, incommunicable to men.
  • But it may be justly said, that hereby many attributes of the Divine Nature become manifest, which otherwise could not have been known; such as mercy, compassion, long-suffering, etc. All of which endear the Deity to men, and perfect the felicity of those who are saved.
  • III. But why does he suffer this mixture of the good and bad seed now?

  • Because of the necessary dependence of one part of the creation on the other. Were the wicked all rooted up, society must fail, the earth be nearly desolated, noxious things greatly multiplied, and the small remnant of the godly, not being able to stand against the onsets of wild beasts, etc., must soon be extirpated; and then adieu to the economy of grace!
  • Did not the wicked exist, there would be no room for the exercise of many of the graces of the Spirit, on which our spiritual perfection greatly depends.
  • Nor could the grace of God be so manifest in supporting and saving the righteous; and consequently could not have that honor which now it justly claims.
  • Were not this evil tolerated, how could the wicked be converted? The bastard wheat, by being transplanted to a better soil, may become good wheat; so sinners may be engrafted in Christ, and become sons of God through faith in his name; for the longsuffering of God leads multitudes to repentance.
  • IV. Observe the end of the present state of things:

  • The wicked shall be punished, and the righteous rewarded.
  • The wicked are termed bastard-wheat - the children of the wicked one, Matthew 13:38, the very seed of the serpent.

    Observe the place in which the wicked shall be punished, - a Furnace. The instrument of this punishment, Fire. This is an allusion to the punishment inflicted only on those supposed to be the very worst of criminals. See Daniel 3:6. They were cast into a burning fiery furnace. The effect of it, Despair; weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, Matthew 13:42.

  • Observe the character and state of the righteous:
  • They are the children of the kingdom, a seed of God's sowing, Matthew 13:38.
  • As to their persons, they shall be like the sun.
  • The place of their felicity shall be the kingdom of heaven: and,
  • The object of it, God In the relation of Father, Matthew 13:43. This is a reference to Daniel 12:2, Daniel 12:3.
  • Some learned men are of opinion that the whole of this parable refers to the Jewish state and people; and that the words συντελεια του αιωνος, which are commonly translated the end of the world, should be rendered the end of the age, viz. the end of the Jewish polity. That the words have this meaning in other places there can be no doubt; and this may be their primary meaning here; but there are other matters in the parable which agree far better with the consummation of all things than with the end of the Jewish dispensation and polity. See on Mark 4:29; (note).

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible
    Verses 36-43

    Declare unto us - That is, explain the meaning of the parable. This was done in so plain a manner as to render comment unnecessary. The Son of man, the Lord Jesus, sows the good seed - that is, preaches the gospel. This he did personally, and does now by his ministers, his providence, and his Spirit, by all the means of conveying “truth” to the mind. This seed was, by various means, to be carried over all the world. It was to be confined to no particular nation or people. The good seed was the children of the kingdom; that is, of the kingdom of God, or Christians. For these the Saviour toiled and died. They are the fruit of his labors. Yet amid them were wicked people; and all hypocrites and unbelievers in the church are the work of Satan. Yet they must remain together until the end, when they shall be separated, and the righteous saved and the wicked lost. The one shall shine clear as the sun, the other be cast into a furnace of fire - a most expressive image of suffering.

    We have no idea of more acute suffering than to be thrown into the fire, and to have our bodies made capable of bearing the burning heat, and living on m this burning heat forever and forever. It is not certain that our Saviour meant to teach here that hell is made up of “material” fire; but it is certain that he meant to teach that this would be a proper “representation” of the sufferings of the lost. We may be further assured that the Redeemer would not deceive us, or use words to torment and tantalize us. He would not talk of hell-fire which had no existence, nor would the Saviour of people hold out frightful images merely to terrify mankind. If he has spoken of hell, then there is a hell. If he meant to say that the wicked shall suffer, then they will suffer. If he did not mean to deceive mankind, then there is a hell, and then the wicked will be punished. The impenitent, therefore, should be alarmed. And the righteous, however much wickedness they may see, and however many hypocrites there may be in the church, should be cheered with the prospect that soon the just will be separated from the unjust, and that they shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

    Ellen G. White
    Fundamentals of Christian Education, 493

    I listened to words spoken by One who understands the past, the present, and the future. A most solemn representation was given, delineating the characters that should be possessed by those who are accepted as yokefellows in our institutions. These institutions need men who are temperate in the full acceptance of the term. God forbid that men who have not learned to control themselves, and who neglect their own character-building in order to make plans for some one else, should be brought into our institutions at Washington, D.C., and Mountain View, California. FE 493.1

    The workers in our institutions are to heed the instruction given by Christ. When the truth abides in the hearts of those in charge, when they walk in the light shining from God's word, the younger workers will wish to understand better the words they hear in the assembly of God's people. They will ask for fuller explanations, and there will be special seasons of seeking the Lord and studying His word. It was in some quiet room or some retired spot in the country that Christ explained to the disciples the parables which He had spoken before the multitude. This is the work that will need to be done for the youth in our publishing houses. FE 493.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Selected Messages Book 2, 68-9

    The whole chapter shows that Babylon that has fallen is the churches who will not receive the messages of warning the Lord has given in the first, second, and third angels’ messages. They refused the truth and accepted a lie. They refused the messages of truth. See 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. The message in the eighteenth chapter of Revelation is plain and clearly defined. “For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies” (Verse 3). Anyone who reads this chapter need not be deceived. 2SM 68.1

    How Satan would exult to have a message go broadcast that the only people whom God has made the repositories of His law are the ones to whom this message applies. The wine of Babylon is the exalting of the false and spurious sabbath above the Sabbath which the Lord Jehovah hath blessed and sanctified for the use of man, also [it is] the immortality of the soul. These kindred heresies, and the rejection of the truth, convert the church into Babylon. Kings, merchants, rulers, and religious teachers are all in corrupt harmony. 2SM 68.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 136-7

    We are constantly surrounded by unbelief. The very atmosphere seems charged with it. Only by constant effort can we resist its power. Those who value their salvation should shun infidel writings as they would shun the leprosy. CT 136.1

    The best way to prevent the growth of evil is to preoccupy the soil. Instead of recommending your children to read Robinson Crusoe, or fascinating stories of real life, such as Uncle Tom's Cabin, open the Scriptures to them, and spend some time each day in reading and studying God's word. The mental tastes must be disciplined and educated with the greatest care. Parents must begin early to unfold the Scriptures to the expanding minds of their children, that proper habits of thought may be formed. CT 136.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 45-7

    Has God no living church? He has a church, but it is the church militant, not the church triumphant. We are sorry that there are defective members, that there are tares amid the wheat. Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven 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.... 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 him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” TM 45.1

    In the parable of the wheat and the tares, we see the reason why the tares were not to be plucked up; it was lest the wheat be rooted up with the tares. Human opinion and judgment would make grave mistakes. But rather than have a mistake made, and one single blade of wheat rooted up, the Master says, “Let both grow together until the harvest;” then the angels will gather out the tares, which will be appointed to destruction. Although in our churches, that claim to believe advanced truth, there are those who are faulty and erring, as tares among the wheat, God is long-suffering and patient. He reproves and warns the erring, but He does not destroy those who are long in learning the lesson He would teach them; He does not uproot the tares from the wheat. Tares and wheat are to grow together till the harvest; when the wheat comes to its full growth and development, and because of its character when ripened, it will be fully distinguished from the tares. TM 45.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Christ's Object Lessons, 70-5

    This chapter is based on Matthew 13:24-30; Matthew 13:37-43.

    “Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven 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.” COL 70.1

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