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 MATTHEW 13:3-8

A verse by verse Bible Study


 A Preacher in his Study




"And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, 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 were scorched; and because they had no root, 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 hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold." Matthew 13:3-8



The word "parable" is interesting! It appears in the first verse of our Text. "And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow." Matthew 13:3

Spelled "parabole" in Greek, parable means that which is "thrown" (in Greek "ballo") alongside ("para") something else. A "parable" is an illustration, often a little story or narrative or some kind, literally "thrown alongside" a doctrine or truth one's teacher is emphasizing, placed there to reinforce the meaning and intent of the instructor.

In two usual Texts, the New Testament uses the word "parabole" in a surprising way, adding further light to its meaning. In Hebrews 9:9 the Old Testament Tabernacle is called a "parable!" Watch the word "figure" which is "parabole" in Greek: "The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: which was a figure for the time then present ...." This parable is not a story or narrative either!

Further, Hebrews 11:19 says that the whole Isaac affair, Abraham's son supernaturally born, was a "figure" or "parabole" too, especially his near death experience on the altar that day! "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." Again, no story or narrative, but a historical event is indicated.

Also the Greek "parabole" is the word used for the Hebrew noun "mashal." That's a proverb or a similitude as well as a parable in the Old Testament. In this sense Numbers 23:7 calls Balaam's sermons parables! Even questions could be parables there, according to 1st Samuel 10:12. Yet again a parable is a short wise saying in 1st Samuel 24:13. "As saith the proverb ("mashal") of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee." A riddle or hard saying can be included in the list also. See Psalm 49:4 or 78:2. Preachers use parables or proverbs often in expounding God's Word. That's according to Ecclesiastes 12:9. Sermons of denunciation and judgment can be catalogued as parables or proverbs too. "That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!" A parable can even be a "taunt!" Habakkuk 2:6 says so! "Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!"

We seldom allow the New Testament parables of Jesus to have such latitude of meaning. But, semantically speaking, the word itself, along with its Hebrew cousin, can range widely!

Therefore, Jesus' beautiful story her of the farmer and his seed and land can be illustrating truth ... or teaching wisdom ... or preaching a sermon ... or hiding something the Lord does not want to be taken and twisted ... giving serious warning ...or sarcastically mocking the devil and his crowd!

Or, all of the above!

The verb "behold," in Greek "idou," is an imperative verb. Look! See, with understanding! Perceive even!

The noun "sower" is associated with the verb "speiro," to scatter seeds! It's a participle here, saying something like this ... "Behold, one sowing went forth into his field."

To "go forth" is "exerchomai" and means "to go out" or "to come out" ... here into a field. The aorist sense of time used here suggests that Jesus is telling about some past event He has personally witnessed. The Lord was always drawing spiritual lessons from from earthly living.

"To sow" or to "scatter" literally translates "speiro" again, but this time as the main verb in the Verse, not a supporting participle. The whole point of this parable is the sowing of the seed ... and the resultant fruit!

One more thing today I need to add. The two verbs for "speaking" or saying" are different! To "speak" uses "laleo" while "saying" uses "lego." One, "laleo," emphasizes HOW Jesus said things that day and the other, "lego," accents the content of His Message!

Either way Jesus was the most powerful Preacher who ever lived! Matthew 7:29 informs us: "He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." And even the enemies said of our Lord: "Never man spake like this man." John 7:46


                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Farmer we met back in Verse three. He is, as the Ultimate Sower, a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One Who made the Gospel Message possible, dying on the Cross for our sin!

"Sowing," in Greek a derivative of the verb "speiro," means "to scatter," usually with some kind of seeds in mind. It is most often a farm term.

Here, we are told: "And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up."

One interesting thing about this verb is that it, like its Hebrew counterpart, means a "broadcasting" of the seed, slinging it in every possible direction, in the field I mean! It is so widely distributed, seemingly at random, that the farmer must know that much of it will not bear fruit! He is well aware that other things, birds and thorns and weeds and hard undersurfaces, will ruin any possibility of potential growth!

Yet he sows it anyway!

Back in 2nd Chronicles 36:15 we see God "sending" His Prophets to a wayward and hard-hearted Nation. The verb "send" there is spelled "shalach" and means "to cast forth" or "to distribute widely!"

That's God's Way when it comes to promulgating the Gospel! And the whole Word of God too, including the warnings and judgments that accompany disobedience!

"Whosoever will" may come!

Many live in the theological construct in which the Gospel is sown like one plants potatoes! One here and one a foot further up the line, all in a precise row mind you! No scattering in that plan!

But read this. It's in the last verse of Mark's Gospel: "And they went forth, and preached every where." Everywhere!

That's scattering, broadcasting, telling everyone you meet!

Also Mark penned, quoting Jesus: "And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."

There we have it!

The sower is sowing everywhere in that field!

And as Jesus later explains, "The field is the world."

The "seed," in Greek "sperma," are not mentioned by name or by actual vocabulary word, not in the whole parable! I double checked on this too. In our honest and accurate King James Text, the italicized nature of the word seeds reveals this truth. Yet nothing else can be meant by the "seed." That's all that could "fall" onto the ground as the sower "sowed!" The reson for this is, I think, that the emphasis here is one the soil, soils I really should say. The seed here is readily accepted as powerful and efficacious and pure without doubt!

"Sower," that initial verb is set as a present tense infinitive. This action is on-going and durative and habitual. Jesus may have that very morning seen such a thing! He always took physical earthly sights and transformed them into mighty tools for relaying spiritual truth.

The verb "fell" is "pipto" and generally means "to descend from a higher place to a lower place." In our Bibles it is rendered "fall" or "fall down" or even to "light" on something. See Revelation 7:16 where the sun no longer "lights" ("pipto") and scorches the Tribulation Era saints of God.

Only "some" fell there though!

"Hos men," in Greek translated "some," means "that which otherwise." This is the way the Holy Spirit has chosen to tell us that all the seed was not landing on the "way side."

Thank God, some will hit good ground!

"Way side" is "hodos para" and means alongside the roadway. It would not have been paved out in the country, on a farm, like this. But it would have been packed down by many passing travelers, footfall after footfall having done its work!

But as the whole field must receive the seed, part of being an efficient farmer, some will invariably hit hardened ground!

So is the case here.

These seed did not even have an opportunity of germinating. Not in place long enough for the warmth of the sun and the moisture of the dews or rains to work their God-given powers, these seed were taken away quickly! Removed from the scene!

That's probably the devil's first line of defense against the Gospel anyway. Get the folks away from such Preaching! Separate them physically! Keep them out of Church! Hinder their hearing that Gospel Sermon on audio or even video recording. Don't allow them time to respond!

Birds or "fowls" ate the seed. "Peteinon" means those little flying ore winged creatures God made that normally are so lovely! "Ptaomai" means "to fly" in Greek.

Here the birds represent the forces of nature itself that may detract from the Truth. Some men read nature and hear "evolution!" Other men, more spiritually oriented and morally versed, read nature and shout, "God!"

Birds in this life can either eat the seed, effectively removing it from the field ... or as do some of the woodpeckers, bury the seed in a safe place until later. Like in a hole in a fence post I mean.

Either way, the intentions of these birds can be thwarted by an All Wise God! Stolen seeds can fall out of their storage posts or be dropped by careless birds in flight or even pass through those little digestive systems, subsequently falling on some good plot of ground down below! I will guarantee you that today someone is reading these lines who should have died and gone to Hell ... but God in His marvelous Grace miraculously spared you from the wicked birds of the world, you escaping their grasp and falling into fertile soil!

Birds in Jesus' parables can represent the negative side of theology. Read this about the mustard seed and the apparently wicked birds that fill its limbs! "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." Matthew 13:32

At other times the little birds portray God's care for all His little creatures! Or clean up battle fields where God has slaughtered the wicked! Think the coming Armageddon here.

Jesus, when He later interpreted this Parable for His Disciples, clearly indicated that these "birds" represent "evil." Matthew 13:19 relates: "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."

The verb "came" or "erchomai" is framed as an aorist, the birds only came that one time ... when the seed was present! Otherwise there's no interest in the farmland here.

To "devour" means to consume by eating! "Katesthio" is another aorist indicative verb. It literally means "to gobble down!"  The prefix, "kata," is the "down" part!

If you are saved, thank God that somehow your heart became good ground! Via hearing the preached Word I'd say! And that by God's Grace the seed of the Gospel reached your soul, thereby germinating and growing roots downward in order to bear fruit upward!

Probably a few "way side" seed will by the power of God bear fruit somewhere, in spite of the birds not because of them, but that fruit will not be in the field Jesus is discussing today!

The greatest thing in all the earth for all of time, is undoubtedly the salvation of a lost soul! And such was made possible by the most despicable event of all time, the Crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Lord, we love Thee!

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




While verses five and six have linkage, we shall study them one at a time.

"Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth." Matthew 13:5

The pronoun "some" is a translation of "allos." It means "another of the same kind." While "heteros" means "another of a different kind." There is nothing wrong with the "seed" here. All variables must be found in the soil.

The verb "fell" is again "pipto," meaning "to light" or "settle down" on something, here the ground. The aorist nature of the word reveals completed action. The farmer Jesus observed, the source of this godly story, is long dead now, sowing no more seed.

"Petrodes" is the basis for "stony places," with "petra" meaning "rock" and "eidos" meaning a "view." Apparently some of the rock substructure was visible. Yet the sower broadcast his seed anyway! Preach the Word even if the its prospects of success are slim! Jesus often did!

The soil to rock ratio did not change in that field, not for many years! The verb "had" is "echo," but as an indicative imperfect verb. Little soil now ... and later! 

"Much earth" is "ge polus." In Greek "Geo" is "earth" and "polus" is many! See our words geography and geologist  and poly-whatever, polygamy for example, many wives ... a sin by the way. Polytheism is describing a person who worships many gods!

No dirt, not enough anyway!

Yet the seed "sprung up!" Now "exanatello" blends thee separate words! "Telos" is the "goal" one has set for maturity! "Ana" means "up" usually. Then "ek" or "ex" indicates a point of origin, "out of" that location! Combine all that and verbalize it and "presto," to "sprout" is the meaning.

It's clear to see from this definition that God's plan for every Believer is that he or she reach maturity, "telos!" Fruit bearing maturity! Inner or outer fruit, but fruit! Of course inner fruit bursts forth into outer fruit! Professors of faith in Christ who do not persevere just may not have eternal life in the first place!

But there is a problem here, with this part of the field!

The weakness does not make itself apparent for a few days ... as many so-called "new converts" do not manifest their true natures very quickly either.

This plant will not bear fruit!

It will not even live!

No root system can develop!


Because ... ""Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth." Matthew 13:5

"Because" is represented by "dia" in the Textus Receptus, the manuscript that gave us our King James Bible. Here it means "on account of," hence "because."

The word "deepness" is spelled "bathos." In English a "bath" is called just that because the water is "deeper" than when one takes a mere shower! It means "very" or "deep" or "of great extent." Its cousin, "bathus," means "profound," as when a truth is said to be quite "deep!"

If the seed of God's Word does not settle deeply, not too deeply ... but "just right" deeply, into a man's or woman's heart, nothing will happen! Nothing lasting that is.

Truly this Parable is more about the condition of the earth, the soil, than nearly anything else.

This seems to necessitate some preparatory "plowing" talk place ere the seed is scattered!

"For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns." Jeremiah 4:3

Preach about Hell!

And coming Judgment!

Rebuke sin!

Hard hearts may be pierced and tenderize by the Holy Spirit's powerful work!

Jesus, speaking of This Same Spirit, promised: "And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." (John 16:8) See that plowing?

Yes, The Holy Spirit of God convicts deeply!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The seed had been scattered by a hard-working farmer. However some fell "upon stony places." These had "no deepness of earth."

Yet the seed "sprang up" anyway!

But ... "When the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away." Matthew 13:6

This Parable, one of Jesus' best known, is explained later in Matthew 13. There our Lord illuminates our verse: "But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 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." Matthew 13:20-21

This explanation takes us back to the verb "sprung up." In Greek it's "exanatello" and means for one "to reach the goal" the master has set, a goal that defines maturity.

The seed here, representing hearers of the Gospel, indeed "sprang up," the verb implying enthusiasm and joy according to Jesus. He's the Expert too! But this joy is not lasting! It is apparently not real! Psalm 5:11 talks about those who know the Lord "ever shouting for joy!" These hearers lacked that quality. One whole New Testament Epistle, 1st John, is written that our "joy might be full!"

But something happened to these little plants, the shallow soil ones! The "sun," in Greek "helios," came up! And they couldn't take the heat!

Incidentally, "was up," the verb ascribing action to the sun, is spelled "anatello" and we just had a form of it one verse ago. It means "to reach the goal!"

What the seed did not accomplish ... the sun did!

"Scorched" is "kaumatizo" and means to burn with intense heat! It can even mean to be tortured with it! "Kaio" means "to set on fire." The verb is an aorist passive. These little plants did not have any grounding, no root system with which to draw moisture and strength and food from the earth below! The sun that brings life to most vegetation, brought death to these shallow sprouts.

Listen to what God did for a little vine in Psalm 80:9. "Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land." But here in Matthew 13:6 that did not happen. "Because they had no root."

Psalm 12:3 mentions "the root of the righteous" too, as does Proverbs 12:12.

And in Colossians 2:7 Paul wants us to be "rooted" in Christ! While, for the Ephesians, he prays for the saints to be "rooted" in love.

To "wither away" means "to dry up" or "to pine away." It grammatically implies the absence of water! To "desiccate" says one Text. This little word is derived from the Latin "siccus," dry. Dehydrated!

Spiritually this can be applied to anyone who lacks the moisture and influence of the Word of God! "The water of the Word" Paul calls it in Ephesians 5:26.

No fruit here!

These seed did not survive.

No real life!

And yet, mathematically anyway, one fourth of those one sees in the "field" of so-called Christendom will fit into this category!

And if I understand the Lord's teaching rightly, they are lost.

If there are any "good ground" hearts reading here today, you  had best be praising the Lord!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Back to Jesus' interpretation a minute. Our Lord compared the scorching sun to "tribulation" or "persecution." That's "thlipsis" and "diogmos" in Greek. The hot sun typifies the "pressures" of life! The aggravations that "chase" and "pursue" us no end!

To "arise" means "to be born or to come into existence," that's "ginomai."

Our Lord again: "But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 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." Matthew 13:20-21

These trials come because ("dia") of, on account of, God's Word! Or maybe Jesus means "for the sake of" the Word, an equally valid rendering. Tests will come because the Word of God says they will come! That same Bible tells us how to handle them too!

Then, ultimately, the seed that had sprouted and "dureth" for a "while," famished! "Dureth" is "eimi" in 3rd person singular indicative present form. It "was" for a while! Then it was not! "For a while" equals "proskairos," for a season or better, for a short window of "opportunity!"

No substance here!

No nutritious foundation!

Remember what faith is! Among other things, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for." Hebrews 11:1

Is Jesus implying "no faith" here?

"By and by" in our King James Bible translates "euthus" and means immediately! At once! Forthwith!

These sprouts "withered" in the original telling of the Parable, but Jesus in His interpretation has them being "offended." And "skandalizo" as a passive verb means "to be tripped up," or even "to be trapped" by something or someone! It originally meant a "snare" with which to capture an animal!

What Lessons today!




The next verse is one that tells us about yet another hindrance to the growth of the sown seed.

Jesus, still speaking of the seed, preaches: "And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them." Matthew 13:7

Here's a prime example of how to handle a Parable. Jesus not only delivers it, bare and brief as it is. That's the nature of Parables anyway!

Our dear Lord later interprets it too! More fully than one could imagine, praise His Name!

The pronoun "some" is "allos" again, some of the same kind as before. All the seed is out of the same bag, so to speak.

"Fell" also is a repetition of the regular verb "pipto," dropping from a higher to a lower place. Its aorist property makes this event one that is now complete, two thousand years ago in fact.

The word "thorns" is "akantha" and implies something "sharp." Its root or stem is really "ake," meaning a "point." Except for its occurrence in this Parable, recorded by Matthew and Mark and Luke, "akantha" is only found four other times in the New Testament. However I counted 34 times "thorns" is used in the Old Testament, Isaiah being particularly fond of the word.

"Sprung up" is "anabaino," a different verb entirely than the "sprung up" of verse 5, referencing the stony ground hearers. Here our verb implies a good foundation for the seed, much better than the stony ground situation!

"Baino" comes from "basis" in Greek and refers to the feet! It usually means "to ascend" or "to climb," more literally "to walk up" something, like a hill or mountain! These seed under other circumstances might have survived, living and ultimately bearing fruit!

But they were "choked!" The word is "apopnigo" and means "to wheeze," labored breathing! "Pnigo" is derived from "pneo," to breathe or maybe to breathe hard. The picture is someone breathing hard ... then not all all ... because their windpipe is being constricted! They are being choked! Outside of the Gospel accounts of this parable, the only other appearance of "apopnigo" in the Bible is in Luke 8:33, "Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked." Look! The world, under control of the devil, "choked" some of God's sown seed, they therefore never being "saved" typologically. So, Jesus chokes 2,000 demons in a more victorious fashion! And that's only ascribing one demon per hog! Could have been more!

No life!

No fruit!

No salvation!

But rather than me trying to explain all this, let's let the Lord do it! He is the all-wise Teacher anyway.

Here we go. "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," explained Jesus in Matthew 13:22.

Note first that the seed was "received." This personification implies that the people being described were interested! But it's not the regular verb for receiving with joy and eagerness. It's more like a verb that means ...  "It landed on me!" It's "speiro" as a passive aorist participle. "To be sown" is a good definition, rather "having been sown!"

Also Jesus' explanation clarifies another matter. Here the seed fell with the thorns already being in place. They were there first. If the sower is the Lord this almost implies His willingness to spread the Gospel where He knows there is little chance of its success! And WE KNOW He does this! He has a generous heart when it comes to everything, especially the Plan of Salvation! Here's the Lord talking to the newly called Isaiah, commissioning him one might say: "And He said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed." (Isaiah 6:9-10) Sowing seed in difficult places, if not impossible places!

It's our job to tell the Story, no matter the response.

If anyone gets saved here it will be a very improbable event, a miracle they will surely call it! But the God who can turn a sinner into a saint, just as well say a goat into a sheep, could I suspect even turn a thorn into fine wheat too!

The Lord Jesus also ascribes two enemies to the wheat in this part of the field, the thorny area.

The "care" of this world is "merimna," meaning "to pull to pieces" something! It's a picture of distraction, worry, diversion!

"World" just means, "aion," the times in which one lives! it is not the common word for "world," which is "kosmos."

Jesus too equates these "thorns" with "riches" or wealth. "Ploutos" is the word, an abundance of external possessions. It is birthed from the verb "pleo," to be full! These are they who "have need of nothing."

Riches "deceive" according to our Lord. A noun, "deceitfulness" translates "apate." Its parent, "apatao," just means "to cheat!" Wealth cannot deliver what it promises, not the things that really matter!

Do notice that what is really choked here is the "word." Again, "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."

I didn't know the Word could be choked! Obviously it can! This point, if one can deduce Doctrine from a Parable, argues against the teaching of "irresistible grace." In reality this "choking" is pretty strong here! This verb, unlike the "choking" of verse 7, is compounded, "sumpnigo." The prefix "sum" or "sun" means "with." It took a bunch of thorns to do this! God's Word is powerful! An association of assassins, spiritually speaking, attacked It!

Yes, too many thorns ... and the potential plant's food gets consumed, light or sunshine blocked, and air restricted! The result ... no life, no fruit, no food!

Look what Jesus does here! In His explanation he personifies the seed for sure! Our Lord specifically calls it "he" in this verse! "He becometh ...." Actually the subject is part of the verb, a 3rd person singular form of "ginomai." It means "to be born" or "to come into being" or even "to cause to be." The subject could have been, grammatically speaking, either "he or she or it." But our King James Bible translators, whomever worked on this section of the New Testament, wisely felt that Jesus had people in mind, not just agriculture! Teams of men back in 1611 and the years preceding that were involved in every verse of translated Scripture! And even their work was subjected to the approval of others on the committee that produced the King James Bible. I respect them highly! Compare them to the translation committee of some modern version, say the NIV! If you do, my argument is already won! "Ginomai" here is a present tense verb too, on-going action being pictured. This area of the field is a lost cause.

"Unfruitful" is spelled "akarpos." The word "karpos" means fruit in this sense, that which is "picked!" Its stem is "harpazo," meaning "to pluck or seize or catch," and even at times "to take by force!" Think of an aggressive gardener! The "a" in front of "karpos" negates the whole word, "without fruit!"


Beware of thorns!

They can even hinder growth of otherwise healthy plants!

Why don't we Men of God preach more against thorns? Against worldliness and riches and ease of life?

These things are sending folks to Hell in droves!

Oh, where are the "good ground" hearers?

Maybe tomorrow!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Four kinds of soil, yet there was only one kind of seed!

And the Lord beautifully wove those bare facts into one of the loveliest Sermons ever preached!

Today we arrive at the "good soil" part of the field!

"But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold." Matthew 13:8

I would like to think that the vast majority of the seed fell here, on the good ground. But we have no guarantee of that. Jesus did not say it either.

The word "other" is "allos," just meaning other seed of the same kind. Wheat and cummin or rye or barley are not here being mixed.

All the seed here represent fundamentally the true Gospel, perhaps more widely other areas of truth from the Word of God are also meant.

The "good" ground employs an adjective that is specific in nature. "Kalos" means that kind of goodness or beauty or even virtue that is useful. That generally spreads and influences others. It is herein distinguished from another word for good which our Lord might have used, "agathos," which means intrinsic good. "Agathos" goodness stays within an individual, hardly spreading at all!

The verb "brought forth" is also interesting. Differently described than the plants that "sprang up," this growth is said to be "given!" The verb is "didomai." A bestowal from God! This is the exact idea about fruit and farming that Paul employs in 1st Corinthians 3:7. I will capitalize the key words for this idea. "So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase."

The other two examples of any growth at all, from rocky ground and thorny ground, used aorist verbs. That growth, such as it was, came and soon died! No real continuance whatsoever, everything was very temporary.

But this good ground seed's "bringing forth," the verb tense being "imperfect," suggests that it just kept on and on growing and bearing fruit! Parallel with Jesus' True Vine Sermon in John 15, these little plants matured and yielded "fruit, more fruit then much fruit!"

The ratio of yield here is astounding too. Jesus mentions such in descending order! See, 100-fold then down to 60-fold and finally only 30-fold. No rebuke is issued for the thirty-fold group however! No more than the man in another Parable who only earned two talents was rebuked, as opposed to the man who earned five talents! We produce under the Spirit's empowerment based upon the potential given us! "He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." Matthew 25:22-23

It's the "no fruit" people that disturb our Lord! Like the one talent man in Matthew 25 who refused to invest his God-given investment. Read it. "Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." No fruit, no return ... no real life! Matthew 25:24-30

Also Matthew, being the Dispensational Gospel, viewing nearly everything in its prophetic light, might be telling us that, generally speaking, the longer time flows, the closer the Second Coming of Jesus nears ... the less overall fruit will be borne! The "harvest" days will gradually become the "gleaning" days, "bumper crops" dwindling to just "handfuls on purpose!"

Is that not happening right before our eyes? Of course that's the very law of the harvest anyway!

Oh, the soil of a man's heart, it's condition ... that is of critical importance when the seed is sown! The only other variable is the seed itself, but we know this is not bad seed! It's good seed! "If it were not so, Jesus would have told us!"

We must assume that the sunshine and rain factors are the same for all the seed and all the types of soil. Within the same time frame and on the same real estate the good seed grew exponentially! All the others died.

What lessons!

Is your heart hard and unyielding?

Or soft and responsive?

"For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground." Jeremiah 4:3

Also ... "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you." That was Hosea!

Yes, a prepared heart may be the key to it all!

This Parable is perhaps more about the soil than even the seed!

Is thy heart right with God?

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Our Lord Himself explains these things beautifully.

Here's what he taught us about the "good ground" seed. "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." Matthew 13:23

Let's compare the interpretation with the original telling of this part of our Story. That way we can better learn from our Lord's words. "But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold." Matthew 13:8

Jesus uses the term "received seed" again, showing us for sure that the ground here really represents the potential hearers of the Gospel, not just some plot of earth. In fact, Jesus used "speiro" four times in His application! In each case the verb is an aorist passive participle. The amazing thing about this is the voice of each verb, passive! The ground did not reach out and get the seed! It just rested there in its place and the seed gently fell upon it! This is a picture of broadcasting God's Word, sowing everywhere, if I've ever seen one!

Let's read the last verse of Mark for an illustration of sowing in this manner. Preachers, take note. "And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them." Preaching everywhere!

Next we need to observe Jesus' emphasis on the word "hearing" in this Text. His concluding words at the first telling of the Parable were: "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." Matthew 13:9 And His opening words of explanation were also framed with this admonition: "Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower." Matthew 13:18

One must "hear" to be saved! Look at John 5:24, spoken by our Lord: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that HEARETH my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." Watch the word I've capitalized!

The Greek verb "akouo" means "to give audience, to hear with understanding, to hearken and perceive." Here it's a present participle, indicating the consistent and habitual hearing of God's Word!

Jesus proves this point by immediately using the next participle, "understanding." The word "suniemi" means "to put together" information, to comprehend. "Heimi" means "to send" literally. I wonder if we're being told that any true understanding of spiritual truth is "sent" to us from God!

"Beareth fruit" is also worth study time. It is "karpophoreo," fruit being "karpos, that which is "plucked" from the tree or vine or bush! "Phero" basically means "to carry" something, but here "to bring forth" is the idea. This fruit is a living commodity! This is a main verb too, indicative present and active!

The parallel verb "bringeth forth" is spelled "poieo." It means "to make or produce or fashion or construct or form" something useful, something lovely. See the English word "poem" in "poieo" please.

God appreciates beauty, spiritual beauty! Here's a "poieo" word again, underlined and capitalized. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

Then Jesus of course uses the same production numbers as earlier, a hundred-fold or sixty-fold or just thirty-fold. I suspect our Lord would be pleased with ten-fold really!

Just fruit!

The more the better, but fruit!

If a person just wins one soul on his way to Heaven, that's precious little I agree, but it is a hundred fold increase on God's Investment. One has spiritually reproduced another, by God's Grace and through Jesus' blood and the Holy Spirit's conviction I mean.

And if a saint grows to the smallest measurable degree in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance, the "Fruit-of-the-Spirit" package ... he or she has certainly reproduced, at least minimally. So different now is he from the anger and selfishness and impatience that marked his life before salvation!


Again, the descending order in Matthew, as opposed to the ascending order in Mark's telling of the Parable, may be due to the first Gospel's dispensational character, prophecy being in the forefront. "And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred." Mark 4:8

Either way, God is glorified!

Some Ministries for the Lord do it one way, others do it the other way! Some win more at first, then fewer in the end. Others win only a handful at the start but have a bumper crop before the harvest yields to winter!


                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




"Who hath ears to hear, let him hear," said Jesus at the end of this His best known Parable. Yes, verse nine is short but powerful!

"Echo" as a present participle means something like this: the one "possessing" a thing, "having" it consistently, "holding on" to it in the most intense cases.

Attention, those of you who have the God-given capability of hearing, comprehend and perceive the Lesson here!

Then the verbal units "to hear" and  "let hear." Both spring from "akouo," meaning "to hear" ... but in this sense: to hear with understanding, with discernment! To "give ear" is an older way of expressing this verb.

"Don't miss this," warns Jesus!

Jesus loves statements like these. Seven times, once to each of the churches of Asia Minor in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, Jesus speaks: "He that hath an ear, let him hear." Revelation 2:7 and 11 and 17 and 29. Then again these very words are repeated in Revelation 3:6 and 13 and 22.

Spiritually speaking this says, "If you are saved, if you have the voice of the Holy Spirit of God ... do comprehend these words, then apply them to your heart and life!" The verb is singular here.

Life and death can issues are here clearly illustrated in parabolic form!

As a conclusion, someone pointed out that this great Sermon of our Lord's pinpoints the enemies of the Gospel, very distinctly too!

First let's consider the wayside ground, that seed was eaten by the fowls! Jesus, in His interpretation, called those birds pictures of "the wicked one." That's THE DEVIL of course! Matthew 13:19

The stony-place seed had not much earth. And, although springing up, failed to grow. The sun was too hot and they had no access to moisture! This blistering heat Jesus compares to life's tribulations and persecutions, troublesome things to THE FLESH and killers to the soul! Ease of life was likely wanted more than fellowship with God! Matthew 13:21

Then comes that thorn-infested ground, which eventually choked its seed. Those prickly things Jesus likens to the care of THE WORLD and the deceitfulness of riches, things which have sent many a person to Hell! Matthew 13:22

Look at those three adversaries! I highlighted them in red. They remain your enemies today, Christian friend!

The world, the flesh and the devil, three of them!

A was three-fold temptation in Eden! There mankind, through Adam, lost!

Then three arrows from Satan were also directed toward Jesus in His 40-day trial and victory at the beginning of His Ministry! There mankind, through Jesus, won!

But in Matthew 13:23, when Jesus comes to the "good ground" and its seed ... no enemies are mentioned! But what does happen, "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," happens because of the direct work of the Holy Spirit of God! He defeats those enemies!

How to conquer the world and flesh and devil?

By the Holy Spirit!

By the Word of God!

By a healthy and growing Faith!

By the Blood of the Lamb!

By our dear Saviour; by the Power of His Holy Life, Vicarious Death, Literal Burial and Proved Resurrection, Bodily Ascension and Present Seating at the Right Hand Of God ... including His Successful Intercession on our behalf!

That's how!

Oh, yes!

He's coming again too!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell






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