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 believeism.
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.