The Seven Parables of the Kingdom
The Good Seed are the Children of the Kingdom
Salvation is by grace, and rewards are according to works! This simple and true statement seems almost profound when it is compared to the teaching and preaching in most local churches today. Failure to rightly divide the Bible in regard to salvation and rewards causes many teachers to incorrectly interpret the parables.
There are two popular movements that confuse grace and works in Christian circles today. They are Lordship Salvation on one side and Ultra Grace on the other extreme.
Lordship Salvation states that a person must first make Jesus Lord before he can make him Savior. They often use verses addressed to believers exhorting faithfulness and obedience, and they preach it to the lost as a salvation message. They avoid calling it works salvation by simply saying that those who do not do these works are not really saved. These preachers and teachers use terms like truly saved or real believers even though these terms are not from the Bible.
Ultra Grace is on the other extreme. These Christians lump together salvation and rewards on the grace side. They teach that salvation and rewards are by grace at the point of salvation. They teach that all Christians will be the bride of Christ and will be equally rewarded in Heaven. Thus, the emphasis on teaching is related to getting saved and getting others saved.
Both groups tend to make rewards automatic for believers.
The parables are a problem for both of these groups since the parables typically illustrate the differences in rewards for both the carnal and faithful Christian. The easy solution to this problem for both Lordship Salvation and Ultra Grace teachers is to make the parables pertain to the saved and lost since this assigns all the good things to believers and all the bad things to the lost.
The parables will not become clear until one understands the Biblical teaching that salvation is by grace, and rewards are according to works!
The 13th chapter of Matthew is a connected discourse given by Jesus Christ concerning the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. It consists of seven parables about the present dispensation, which has been called the mystery aspect of the kingdom. The Church was unknown in the Old Testament even though it can now be seen in various types such as Ruth and Orpah. This is why the Church is called a mystery by Paul (Eph. 1:9). Each analogy will be consistent throughout all of the parables, and we must begin with the interpretations that Jesus gave in order to understand the parables. This interpretation is key to understanding the parables.
Mat 13:37-39 (KJV) He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
Please note that the “good seed” are not the lost or the gospel message. The “good seed” are born again, regenerated, “children of the kingdom.”
The Parable of the Sower
Mat 13:3-9 (KJV) And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Mat 13:19-23 (KJV)} When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth [it] not, then cometh the wicked [one,] and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 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.
Mat 13:37-39 (KJV) He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
The parable about the sower is not a parable of salvation but of fruit bearing by Christians in the present dispensation. All the seed sown are good seed and represent believers. The parable relates the reactions to the Word of the Kingdom of four different types of Christians in the present age in which we are living. All are spiritually saved but their reactions to the Word of the Kingdom vary greatly. Remember that the Word of the Kingdom pertains to qualifying for positions in the coming kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is the message Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 16:24-27. One must lose his life now so he will gain it in the coming kingdom.
A person can be saved without comprehending the coming kingdom of our Lord. Indeed, most Christians in the world today do not understand the truths about the coming kingdom of our Lord. Salvation depends solely upon faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30, 31). It is an easy believism.
The first group of Christians in the parable of the sower hears the Word of the Kingdom, but they do not understand it, and Satan devours (i.e., seizes upon and destroys) these Christians before they have a chance to mature and produce fruit. Most faithful Christians who attend church and witness know of Christians who trust in Jesus Christ and then immediately become entangled in sin and desires of the world. Many in the Church today would say that these people were never really saved, but the Bible says differently. These people are good seed but they just never take root and produce fruit.
The second group of Christians hears and understands the Word of the Kingdom and receives it with joy. Unfortunately, teaching and speaking about the return of Jesus is not a popular subject in the Church today, and the believer who does so can expect sarcasm, indifference, ostracism, and outright mockery from his/her fellow Christians. Many Christians can not bear this persecution, and they fall away from speaking and teaching about the coming kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. These Christians have “no roots” and the heat of the sun causes them to be “withered away.”
The third group of Christians hears and understands the Word of the Kingdom, but “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the Word, and he becometh unfruitful.” This passage of Scripture refers specifically to those who do not have enough of this world’s goods and to those who have an abundance of this world’s goods (i.e., the poor and the rich). Numerous Christians in both groups love the things of this world, and they have very little interest, if any, in the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ. Neither group is content with what they have of this world’s goods. Christians who covet money destroy themselves, and it is ironic that the very poor and the very rich are the ones who are most susceptible to this temptation (1 Tim. 6:7-11). These Christians bear no lasting fruit for the kingdom.
The first three groups represent three types of children of the kingdom and their response to the Word of the Kingdom. They do not bear any fruit and will not have any rewards in the coming kingdom. Their salvation is not affected since salvation is by grace and not of works.
The fourth group represents those Christians who hear, understand and obey the Word of God. They produce fruit in varying degrees and their rewards will be commensurate with the proportions of fruit yielded in accordance with their abilities.
This parable marks the inception of the Christian era since our Lord began sowing the children of the kingdom while he was on earth, and the sowing continues even until today. Also, the seven parables of Matthew 13 are parallel teachings with the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3. The church of Ephesus represents the first century church and the initial sowing by the Lord Jesus Christ.
A cursory reading of the parable of the sower seems to be discrepant with the interpretation that Jesus gave in verses 37-39. The reason for this discrepancy is a mistranslation of portions of verses 19, 20, 22 and 23. The translation in verse 19, “This is he which received seed by the wayside,” should have been translated, “This is he which was sown by the wayside.” Verse 20 should read, “But he that was sown in the stony places...” Verse 22 should read, “He that was sown among the thorns...” Verse 23 should read, “But he that was sown in the good ground...”
It bears repeating that the parable of the sower is not a parable of salvation but of fruit bearing for the kingdom. This is confirmed by verse 23, which is the last verse in the parable. The seed sown in the good ground “beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” The decreasing yields picture the decline in fruit bearing as the Christian era approaches its end. This is also confirmed in the history of the church revealed in the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3.
The correct translation of verses 19, 20, 22 and 23 can be found in The New Testament, An Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest, Teacher Emeritus of New Testament Greek at the Moody Bible Institute. Wuest’s Word Studies From the Greek New Testament is a standard in the field of New Testament studies. The American Standard Bible of 1901 and a few other unpopular translations currently out of print also have the correct translation of these verses. The Montgomery New Testament and The Interlinear Bible translated these verses correctly, and they are still in print. The transliterated Greek word for seed is sperma, and it is the common Greek word for offspring or descendants throughout the New Testament. Of course, the simple statement of Jesus in verse 38 should be sufficient for the correct understanding of who the seed are in this parable, but tradition dies hard.
Numerous Scriptures have been traditionally interpreted as pertaining to salvation or spiritual rebirth when they actually pertain to fruit bearing or faithfulness in serving the Lord and the “just recompense of reward” (Hebrews 2:2) that will be meted out by Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Greek word apistia means unbelief or unfaithfulness, and it most often refers to the unfaithfulness of Christians. This is confirmed by Mark 16:14 where it is applied to the eleven disciples after the resurrection of Jesus. Its use in Hebrews 3:12 also applies to Christians.
Parables of the Tares
This parable in Matthew 13:24-30 is generally interpreted correctly by exegetes (i.e., Bible interpreters who utilize set principles called hermeneutics). The reason for this is the interpretation by Jesus in verses 37-43. The parable of the sower and this parable are linked chronologically and personally. After the children of the kingdom have been placed in the field (i.e., the world), Satan comes along and sows tares (i.e., children of the devil) among the wheat, which represents Christians.
A tare is someone who has heard the true gospel and rejected it. He has seen and heard and rejected the testimony of Christians. Tares look like Christians, act like Christians, and talk like Christians. Many tares are people who can not accept salvation by faith only. They insist on working for it.
It is only at harvest time that they can be distinguished from true Christians. Jesus said to leave them alone, but many Christians do not take this advice. Jesus also said that in the time of harvest the reapers (i.e., angels) would gather the tares together into bundles so they could be burned. We are in the time of the harvest and the tares are being gathered together into bundles. If these bundles were labeled they would be called Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Christadelphians, the Way International, Worldwide Church of God, etc. All of these cults have burgeoned in the twentieth century and most of their members have come out of orthodox Christianity. They all call themselves Christians and numerous true Christians believe that they are Christian. They all deny the deity of Jesus Christ so this means that they have heard the true gospel and rejected it. The very recent surge in the growth of cults should not cause undue concern for true believers. It is simply the work of the angels gathering the tares into bundles so they can be burned at the appropriate time after the wheat has been harvested.
The concern of true Christians should be obedience. Our goal should be reaching maturity before the harvest of the Firstfruits. Otherwise, Christians will have to mature in the hot summer sun (i.e., the fires of the tribulation). Upon maturity wheat dies from the roots up so the Christian who still has strong, deep roots in the earth (i.e., he loves the things of the world) is not ripe for harvest.
It is important to note that the orthodox Christian churches still have tares in them, and it is impossible for believers to tell which ones are the tares. We are admonished to judge not (Rom. 14:10). It is not productive for Christians to try to determine who the tares are, since true believers could be rooted up in the process. Frequently, tares are more self-disciplined, hard working and prosperous than true believers. You will not find tares coming to the altar weeping over and confessing to fleshly sins and weaknesses. They are frequently the leaders in the church, and are sometimes found in the pulpit and other high positions of authority. They often have a cherubic countenance, and they know all the phrases and cliches indigenous to Christianity. They are the fine upstanding citizens in the community and few people doubt their sincerity. As stated above, they look, act and talk just like Christians, and true Christians are not able to tell the difference. This is why Jesus said to leave them alone.
Parable of the Mustard Seed
Mat 13:31-32 (KJV) Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
The parable of the mustard seed is the third parable in this discourse and it runs parallel with the message to the church of Pergamum in Revelation 2:12-17. The majority of exegetes overlooks its true message. The message of this parable describes the growth of Christianity from insignificant beginnings, but this growth is not represented as something good according to the correct interpretation of the parable. The smallness of the mustard seed represents the growth of Christianity from a minute beginning, but most commentators overlook the statement that the mustard bush—the greatest of herbs—became a tree, which is abnormal and unnatural.
Also, after it became a tree, the birds came and lodged in its branches. In Scripture the tree symbolizes a world power. Trees represent nations in Judges 9:8-15, and a tree represents a world power in Daniel 4. A fig tree and an olive tree symbolize the nation of Israel. From these symbols this parable teaches that Christianity started from a small and insignificant beginning and grew into a bush which is normal. Then something abnormal took place.
The bush became a tree or a world power. This unnatural phenomenon was the result of Constantine the Great who decreed on October 28, 312 A.D. that Christianity would be the world religion. Constantine’s fiat did great damage to the spiritual condition of the Church because of the political and ecclesiastical intrigue involved in the Church being a world power. The Church became worldly and corrupt, and the birds—which symbolize Satan and his emissaries—found lodging in its organization.
The current age is the time the world rejects Christ, and a faithful church would share in this rejection. Instead, the Church became a political power and Satan misguides her into programs of world betterment and reform instead of evangelism and discipleship of believers. Even the formal Sardis churches that are evangelistic neglect the very important function of discipling its members and teaching the deeper truths of Scripture. This is why so many Christians with shallow roots will fall away and become unfaithful as soon as persecution appears, financial disaster hits, or material prosperity happens. Numerous Christians attend church, witness, and perform works for a period of months, years, etc. and then become disinterested and fall away from the faith as soon as they slack off in their church attendance.
The faithful Christian who studies the Word of God and lives according to its precepts is like the marathon runner who finishes the race with respect to the faith. The racetrack of the narrow way is strewn with Christians who have sprinted for a time and then dropped out before the course is finished. Rewards will be awarded to only those Christians who finish the race (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
The Church was robbed of its spiritual power the day it became a world power. It was a sad day for the cause of our Lord when the mustard bush became a tree. The tree sends its roots down deeply into the earth, and this is exactly what the Church has done. Many in the Church are distracted with political events for advancing the power of Christianity. They are not focused on the fulfillment of prophecies that signal the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world system belongs to Satan, and Christians who strive for position and status in the current system are striving in the wrong kingdom. Unfortunately, this is the scenario for the majority of Christians in the world today.
Power, popularity and prestige in the community and society are not the lot of the faithful Christian in the world system. Persecution, rejection and suffering are in store for the Christian who sincerely strives to walk in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Parable of the Leaven
Mat 13:33 (KJV) Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
The parable of the leaven runs parallel with the message to the church of Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29. Leaven in the Scriptures is always used symbolically to represent evil, sin and false doctrine. Leaven is never used for anything good in the Bible, and it definitely does not represent the gospel spreading throughout the world until the whole world has been evangelized.
Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 6:6-12 to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The leaven of the Pharisees was the substitution of ritualism and formalism for true worship. They were substituting the letter of the law for the spirit of the law. They were concerned about cleaning up the outside of the person with no attention given to the inside. The leaven has permeated the Church. The faithful Christian would describe this as substituting religion for a relationship with Christ. It has also been called legalism.
The leaven of the Sadducees was the emphasis on rationalism and denial of the supernatural. The Sadducees were the rich and sophisticated Jews in the time of Jesus. They were in control of the Sanhedrin, which was the supreme judicial council of Judaism. The Sadducees did not believe in angels or in the resurrection. This leaven has also permeated the Church, and Christians spread it when they offer rational and logical explanations for miracles in the Bible. An example is the futile attempt by Christians to prove that a man can really be swallowed by a whale and survive three days. A careful reading of Jonah reveals that Jonah died and spent three days in Sheol while his body was in the great fish. God raised him from the dead on the third day and Jonah thanked and praised God for raising him up and bringing him out of Sheol. The fish then vomited Jonah up on dry land. The book of Jonah is filled with the supernatural (i.e., miracles), and it is dishonoring to God to try to explain Jonah rationally. This is only one example of many.
In Mark 8:15 Jesus enjoined his disciples to beware of the leaven of Herod. The leaven of Herod is the belief that politics and reform movements are the panacea for all the world’s problems. If Christians spent as much time studying the Bible and warning fellow believers of the coming Judgment Seat of Christ as they do in campaigning for politicians or political reform, there would be many more crowns and a lot less chastisement at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Christian’s involvement in politics is striving in the wrong kingdom.
Abraham was a key type in the Old Testament for the spiritual believer and he was totally divorced from politics and the world system. Lot was a primary type in the Old Testament for the carnal believer and he was mayor of Sodom. The statement in Genesis 19:1, “And Lot sat in the gate of Sodom,” means that Lot was an elected official of Sodom and this most likely means that he was the top official in Sodom. It does not require much reflection to see how much impact Lot had on the immorality and degradation of Sodom.
The reader should take the advice of Jesus and beware the leaven of Herod, which has also permeated the Church. Christians should stop politicking and start warning believers and unbelievers of the coming judgment. When Herod beheaded John the Baptist, Jesus went off to himself and then returned to heal the sick (Mat 14:10-13). When Paul and Silas were unjustly imprisoned, they prayed and witnessed to the prison guard and he was saved (Acts 16:16-34). Christians are to be in this world but not of this world.
The interpretation of the parable of the leaven is as follows: Christendom is the mystery aspect of the kingdom of heaven, and the woman in the parable is the false church, which is the papal worship system. This woman takes false doctrine and hides it in the three measures of meal. The three measures of meal symbolize the truth and teaching of the Godhead (i.e., the Trinity) with special emphasis on Jesus the Christ. The Greek word for meal is “aleuron” and literally means “what is ground” so it can refer to corn meal or flour. The meal offering in the Old Testament was offered with oil and frankincense. Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit and frankincense symbolizes the prayers of the saints. Thus, the meal offering symbolizes the fruit bearing of believers, which is acceptable when it comes from the Holy Spirit through the prayers of the saints.
Leaven is a corrupting or putrefying agent that produces deterioration in the flour in which it is placed. Jesus was speaking of the degeneration of the fruit produced by Christians because of the false doctrine interjected into the truth of the gospel. It does not mean fewer Christians but less fruitful Christians. The work of the leaven has been so subtle and pervasive that virtually all churches have been affected in some way. A knowledgeable student of the Bible does not have to look far to find leaven in any church.
Only one thing destroys the work of leaven and that is fire or heat, which kills the germ or bacteria in the flour. Unfortunately, only a relatively few Christians are purging the leaven (i.e., evil) from their lives. Those who do not purge the leaven through confession of sin will be purged in the fires of the tribulation. Jesus rejects the Laodicean church (Rev. 3:16) and cautions it to buy from Him gold refined in the fire (Rev. 3:18). These Christians are rejected at the harvest of the Firstfruits and will have to wait for the main harvest that will take place in the middle of the tribulation. Unfaithful Christians will be turned over to Antichrist for three and one half years (Dan. 7:25) and will have another opportunity to bear fruit.
Parable of the Hidden Treasure
Mat 13:44 (KJV) Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Contrary to popular opinion this parable has nothing to do with the gospel of grace or the salvation of individuals. It refers specifically to the nation of Israel. The following Scriptures reveal to us that Israel is God’s treasure:
Exo 19:5-6 (KJV) Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Psa 135:4 (KJV) For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.
Because of Israel’s disobedience God destroyed her cities and dispersed her among the nations. Israel was first separated into two nations consisting of the Northern kingdom and the Southern kingdom, and then she was carried off into captivity. The Northern kingdom was called Israel and it consisted of ten of the tribes of Israel. The Southern kingdom was called Judah, and it was made up of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi.
Those in the world today who are known as Jews are primarily made up of those three tribes. The ten tribes of the Northern kingdom were carried off into captivity by Assyria in 722 B.C. Some of the ten tribes filtered back to the Southern kingdom, but the majority of these tribes disappeared from the pages of history. They are currently hidden in the world today and they are not known as Jews. Their true identity is even unknown to them.
There is evidence that the American Indian may be from the tribe of Ephraim. This is speculation, but there is much evidence that the traditions and heritage of the American Indians are amazingly close to that of Israel. Also, they meet all of the descriptions that God gave of Israel about keeping them few in number, keeping them separate and distinct, causing them to be a persecuted people, and being a people who tend toward much alcohol and violence, and not having a place that they can call home and reside in peace. The Indians also have physical traits that are Jewish such as the straight black hair, prominent nose, and the dark brown skin. The American Indian is also an enigma in regard to his origin.
A stone tablet was found in a Cherokee Indian mound 103 years ago. It contains inscriptions that archaeologists had assumed represented an early Indian alphabet. Recently, a discovery was made identifying these inscriptions as old Hebrew inscriptions. This recent discovery has baffled scientists, but could be explained if a lost tribe of Israel were the origin of the early Cherokee nation.
There is another group of people that appears to belong to the ten lost tribes of Israel. This group gained worldwide attention during Desert Storm when a mysterious group of people started making the headlines in the newspapers. They also became the topic of television newscasts and national news magazines. These people are the Kurds, and their origin is a mystery to the world and themselves. They are not Turks, Persians, or Arabs and they were not called Kurds until the 7th century. It is known that they came out of the Persian Empire, and the book of Esther describes the prominent role that the Jews played in the Persian Empire under King Ahasuerus.
The Kurds have lived in the area known as Kurdistan since long before Josephus, the Jewish historian, wrote his chronicles. The Bible states that the ten tribes were taken into Assyria, and prophecy says they will be brought out of Assyria (Isa. 11:11, 16). It is not coincidental that Kurdistan is in the area of ancient Assyria. Josephus said that they were there in 70 A.D., and Jerome wrote in his notes on Hosea in the 5th century that the people of Kurdistan were the ten lost tribes. The Kurds have the same physical traits as the Jews, and the centuries of oppression qualify them as likely candidates. Their traditions, culture, and dreams of one day having a conquering king and a nation they could call their own also identify them as part of the ten lost tribes of Israel. They also have many modified observances of the Mosaic Ritual such as Peace Offerings, Vows, Firstfruits, and Tithes.
Unlike God’s hidden Jews, the Bible calls Christians “the light of the world” (Mat. 5:14). It should now be clear that the treasure hidden in the field (i.e., the world) is not Christians but the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel has been hidden in the world, and the treasure clearly represents Israel. The treasure is definitely not the gospel, and the man is not a lost soul trying to find salvation. It is not man seeking after God but God seeking after man that brings about salvation. Ezekiel 37:15-25 clearly teaches that God will bring the nations of Judah and Israel back together again before Jesus returns in power and glory at the end of the seven year tribulation. When Jesus returns He will reclaim Israel from the world, restore her to her land, and she will again be commissioned as Jehovah’s witnesses in the world, just as Jonah was commissioned a second time to preach to the Gentiles of Nineveh.
Parable of the Pearl of Great Price
Mat 13:45-46 (KJV) Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
It should first be stated that the merchant man is not a lost man seeking to be saved with the pearl representing salvation. In harmony with the other parables in this discourse, the leading character in this parable is the Lord Jesus Christ. The last three parables of the seven parables address three separate groups of people who are to be in the kingdom of the heavens. The first group in verse 44 represents Israel—converted and restored. In verses 45 and 46 we have a second group symbolized by the pearl of great price. This second group of people is the Church, and the pearl is an appropriate stone to symbolize the Church.
The pearl is not an Old Testament stone, and the word is not even found in the Old Testament. The occurrence of the word in Job 28:18 is a mistranslation, since the Hebrew word actually means crystal. The pearl comes from the oyster, which is considered unclean to the orthodox Jew. The oyster that bears the pearl comes from the sea, which symbolizes the Gentile nations from which the Church is gathered. The pearl is born out of injury to the oyster as a foreign particle enters the side of the oyster the same as the spear entered the side of Jesus. The pearl is gradually built up from living tissue as the oyster coats the particle to protect itself. The Church is also gradually built up as a living organism. The pearl is the only precious stone that cannot be divided or cut into two or more stones. It is also the only stone that may be called a living stone, since it grows while in the oyster. It should be clear by now why the Lord chose the pearl of great price to symbolize the Church. Jesus gave everything he had to buy the pearl of great price. By his incarnation He made himself of no reputation and gave his life on Calvary to purchase the Church. Christ died for us so that we might live for him. The pearl of great price clearly represents the Church in this series of parables.
Parable of the Dragnet
Mat 13:47-50 (KJV) Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
This parable concerns the third group of saved people that will populate the millennial kingdom. This action takes place at the full end of the age just before the kingdom is established upon the earth. The cast net is thrown from the land into the sea. The land symbolizes Israel, and the sea symbolizes the Gentiles. This is a clear description of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists who are the Firstfruits of the Jews preaching the gospel of the kingdom during the last 42 months of the tribulation. Numerous Gentiles will be saved during this proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom during a time when the Church is completely absent from the earth. Consequently, these saved Gentiles are not part of the Church, and will not be raptured, since they were saved after the Church Age ends. They will enter into the earthly aspect of the millennial kingdom in their bodies of flesh and blood, but the unsaved will be supernaturally placed in the winepress of the wrath of God outside of Jerusalem. Jesus will tread the winepress alone, and his robe will be stained with the blood of his enemies. The following Scriptures describe the sequence of this literal event:
Mat 24:14 (KJV) And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Mat 25:31-34 (KJV) When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Mat 25:41 (KJV) Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Mat 25:46 (KJV) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
It bears repeating that the parable of the dragnet (i.e., cast net) does not refer to Christians or Jews, but it refers to Gentiles saved during the preaching of the 144,000 Jews. The type in the Old Testament is Jonah being commissioned a second time to preach to the city of Nineveh with the whole city repenting as a result of Jonah’s preaching.
In summary, the parables of the kingdom in Matthew 13 run parallel with the history of the Church in Revelation 2 and 3. Both teach the degeneration and deterioration of the Church as the age approaches its end. Fruitfulness (i.e., faithfulness) will occur in only one out of four groups of Christians in the parable of the sower and in only one church (i.e., Philadelphia) out of the four churches in existence (i.e., Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea) at the time that Jesus Christ returns to set up his kingdom on the earth.
The Church age will end in the judgment of Christians at the Judgment Seat of Christ, the judgment of the Jews during the time of Jacob’s trouble, and the judgment of the Gentiles at the sheep and goat judgment at the end of the tribulation.