The Parables of the
By Pastor F. M. Riley
March 14, 2017
"Then said He unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old."
Dear readers, I wrote and sent out this Bible study originally on September 19, 2012, five years ago, under the title of "The Kingdom." I am now writing a series of Bible studies on this same subject, and in researching for the series, I felt that this particular study should be sent out again. The information contained in this study could not be more timely than it is today. I pray it will be a blessing to every reader.
Defining the Subject
What is "the kingdom?" When one studies this subject, they should study all of the Scriptures in God's Word where the word, "kingdom," is used, including the context in which the word occurs.
As a young minister many years ago, I became so confused by the different dogmatic definitions assigned to "the kingdom," by different preachers and writers, I determined to set aside all of their theories, and study the subject out in God's Word for myself. I then proceeded to look up every single passage in God's Word where the word, "kingdom," occurs, and carefully study it in context for myself. In making that study, all of my confusion vanished, and I was made to praise and thank the Lord for His goodness in enlightening me.
In this study on the subject, there is no way I can refer to every single passage in the Scriptures where the word, "kingdom," occurs. However, since I have a notebook listing every Scripture in the Bible where the word is used, I simply eliminated all references to a "kingdom," except those references which apply to the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then I separated all of the references into their respective categories, depending on their use in the context in which they occur. In doing this, I learned that the word, "kingdom," is used in five different ways in the Word of God.......
 Universal.......Almighty God is the Supreme Ruler over a "universal" kingdom, which has existed from eternity past, which still exists today, and which will never cease to exist. In His "universal" kingdom, everything in the entire universe is subject to His will, and therefore nothing in the whole creation moves or changes without God's directive or permissive will. See 1 Chronicles 29:11, 2 Chronicles 20:6, Psalm 103:19, and Daniel 4:34-35.
 Heavenly.......Almighty God has a "heavenly" kingdom, which is located in the heavens far above the earth, in which everything and every living being in His "heavenly" kingdom is in joyful and willing obedience to Him, and to His will for them. Remember that the Lord Himself told His disciples to pray in the model prayer, "...Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven," Matthew 6:10. See also 2 Timothy 4:18, Hebrews 8:1, and Revelation 3:21.
 Spiritual.......Almighty God has a "spiritual" kingdom, which is composed of only those who have received the Lord Jesus Christ as their own personal Savior. To enter this kingdom, one must be "born again," John 3:3-7; Colossians 1:12-14; Luke 17:21.
 Mystical.......Almighty God has a "mystical" kingdom in existence right now upon the earth during this present dispensation. This means a "mystery" form of His kingdom. This "mystical" kingdom, is in some respects, the same kingdom the Lord was promised in Daniel 2:44.
However, since the Jewish people repeatedly rejected Christ as their Messiah and Savior, and ultimately crucified Him, His literal kingdom was postponed for another two days, Hosea 5:15; 6:1-2; 2 Peter 3:8. As the inspired Word says, "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not," John 1:11. The Jewish people, at the Lord's first coming, were not in a spiritual attitude of heart to receive Christ as their Messiah and Savior, so the Lord established His "mystical" kingdom among them [in their midst], Matthew 18:20; Luke 17:20-21.
This "mystical" form of the kingdom is what is referred to in Matthew 13, and other Scriptures in Matthew, as "the kingdom of heaven" [literally "the kingdom from the heavens"]. This form of the kingdom is presently composed of all the peoples and nations on the earth, both saved and unsaved, but during this present dispensation the wicked have sought to purge it of God and His Word, bringing great suffering upon the nations of the earth, and upon true believers who refuse to bow to their wicked decrees, Psalm 2:1-3; Matthew 11:12.
Therefore the establishment of the literal Millennial Kingdom of the Lord awaits the coming again of the "anointed King," who will come again with authority from Father God to seize the kingdoms of this world, and establish His own righteous Kingdom upon the earth. Carefully study again the Parable of the Pounds set forth in Luke 19:11-27. Notice also Daniel 7:13-14, and Revelation 11:15-18. Until the Lord comes again, His promised Kingdom will continue to exist in it's present "mystical" form. See Matthew 11:11-13, 13:1-52, 21:31-32, Luke 16:16, 17:20-21, and 19:11-27.
 Millennial.......Almighty God has purposed to establish His own Kingdom upon the earth, in the form of the literal Millennial Kingdom of Christ promised to His Son in Daniel 2:44, and in many other prophetic Scriptures. When the Lord Jesus Christ bodily and visibly returns at the end of the Tribulation period, in glory and triumph, the "kingdoms of this world" will literally become His Kingdom, Revelation 11:15. The present "mystical" form of the kingdom, will then give way to the actual, literal, Kingdom of our Lord. From the actual city of Jerusalem, the Lord Jesus will rule and reign over the entire earth for a thousand years. During that time all humanity will finally experience real righteousness and peace, and will live together in harmony, peace, and prosperity. See Daniel 2:44, Isaiah 2:1-4, 9:6-7, 11:1-9, Amos 9:11-15, Micah 4:1-5, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28, and Revelation 20:1-6.
There are many more Scriptures that relate to each of these five categories of God's Kingdom, but the Scriptures given, if carefully studied and believed, should give any reader insight into this subject.
Important To Right Division
In these five categories of the kingdom, not even once did I list the Church. In spite of what some today claim, the Lord's Church is not the kingdom, has never been the kingdom, and will never be the kingdom. Some today, who claim that the church is the kingdom, need to do a lot more serious study of God's Word. Because the Lord's Church has been in the kingdom throughout this present dispensation, these seven parables of the kingdom in some ways parallel the seven church letters in Revelation 2 - 3. Similar, but not the same! The Apostle Paul even rebuked some in the Corinthian church for believing and teaching that they were already "reigning," 1 Corinthians 4:1-8. Pay attention!
But now let's turn our attention to the present "mystical" form of God's Kingdom on the earth.......
The Kingdom of Heaven
As previously stated, this expression, "the kingdom of heaven," literally means, "the kingdom from heaven," or, "the kingdom bestowed upon mankind from heaven." In other words, it refers to the kingdom promised by the Heavenly Father in Daniel 2:44, to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore is also the kingdom promised to Israel and the redeemed Jewish people.
This exact expression is used 30 times in the New Testament, and occurs only in the Gospel of Matthew. In every instance, it refers to the kingdom preached to the Jewish people, as being "at hand," by John the Baptist, and then by Christ Himself, Matthew 3:1-2; 4:17. See also Luke 16:16.
The most enlightening studies on "the kingdom of heaven," are found in the Parables of the Kingdom in Matthew 13. Since these parables were given by the Lord God, in the other three gospels of Mark, Luke, and John, the expression used by them is usually, "the kingdom of God." A careful study of these parables in Matthew 13, should leave no doubt in the minds of any true believer, that these parables deal with the "spiritual" aspects of the Kingdom of our Lord during this present dispensation. These parables make it clear that the "mystical" form of the Kingdom of our Lord is a reality, and is functioning in this present evil world, during this present "Dispensation of Grace" in which God's people live today.
Now let's turn our attention to a verse by verse, and sometimes word by word, exposition of these "kingdom of heaven" parables.......
The Parable of the Sower
"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.
Who hath ears to hear, let him hear," Matthew 13:3-9.
This is the first parable in the series of parables on "The Kingdom of Heaven" given by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 13.
In this parable, Christ Himself is "the sower" of the seed. This is clearly stated by the Lord in 13:37.
The "seed" being sown is the Word of God, 13:19; 13:23; John 5:24; Romans 10:17.
The four types of ground where the seed was sown in the parable set forth four kinds of hearts within lost unbelievers, 13:19. This truth has never changed since Christ gave this parable. Lost men and women, boys and girls, still fall into one of these four categories today. Significantly, "4" is the Bible number signifying "the flesh; the natural man; humanity; etc." It is the natural man, lost in sin through the Adamic sin nature, who needs the Word of God sown in their "heart," in order to be saved, Romans 10:8-10; 10:17.
Please notice that the Lord Himself "interpreted" this Parable of the Sower, Matthew 13:18-23. The Lord obviously did not want this parable misunderstood by His people, therefore He explained it to His disciples Himself. And what is the true meaning of the parable?
 The seed which fell by "the way side" typifies the lost person who hears the gospel, but does not understand it, and simply shrugs it off, dismissing it without ever giving any further thought to what they have heard, or to the way of salvation.
Satan recognizes these shallow minded kinds of people, and sends his demon spirits to snatch the Word right out of their minds and hearts, causing them to forget about and ignore what they heard. It is highly unlikely that such people will ever be saved, 13:4; 13:19.
 The seed which fell on "stony places" typifies those whose hearts are so hard, that while they would like to believe the gospel, they never get beyond a "religious profession." Folks, a "profession" is not salvation! Because these people are not truly saved, therefore they never grow in the Lord and have no spiritual "roots" in Christ and His Word. Compare Ephesians 3:14-19. When they are later tested by trouble or persecution, they turn completely away from their "religious profession." See 13:5-6, 13:20-21, and Hebrews 10:23-27.
 The seed which "fell among thorns" typifies those who hear the gospel and make a "profession" of faith in Christ, yet who are so involved in the things of this present life that they never surrender their whole heart, soul, and life to the Lord and His Word. Their pursuit of "riches," or what the unbelieving world calls "success," and their lusts for the things of this present world, literally "choke" out any real interest in the Word of God and the things of God. Their obsession with the things of this world, are "thorns" growing in their hearts. The seed of the Word of God is choked out by these "thorns" already growing there when they made their "profession." See 13:7, 13:22, Mark 4:7, 4:18-19, Luke 8:7, 8:14, and Hebrews 6:1-8 and 12:12-17.
 The seed which falls "into good ground" typifies those who hear the gospel and genuinely receive Christ into their heart and life. Compare Matthew 5:6. When they hear the gospel, they understand it, because their heart and mind is open to receive the truth of God's Word. They immediately begin to live for the Lord, and as they live for Him, He blesses their efforts to grow in Him and bring forth fruit, John 15:5.
Each true believer does not bear the same amount of fruit, for the Lord never forgets that each of us are individuals, and deals with us accordingly. It is Satan who deals with "the herd" and "the mob," but our Lord graciously deals with us as individuals. The Lord loves and regards each true believer as His own redeemed child. This is why He never places more on us, than He knows we are able to bear [1 Corinthians 10:13], for He "knoweth our frame," Psalm 103:13-14. What a great and gracious and loving Heavenly Father, and what a precious Savior and Lord, we believers serve. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Glory to God!
The "good ground" is then a "heart" that is soft and willing to receive and believe God's Word, when it is presented to that particular individual. This fourth example the Lord gave, the seed sown in "good ground," is the only one of the four examples given, which typifies a genuine "born again" true believer, 13:23. While "the seed" never changes, yet the effect it has on individual believers does vary. Some true believers totally devote themselves to the Lord, bringing forth "fruit" unto God [John 15:1-16] "a hundredfold." Yet some believers only bring forth "sixtyfold," and still others only "thirtyfold." But regardless of how much "fruit" we bear for the Lord, our Lord still loves all His children who have truly received Him into their "heart," John 15:9-12; Romans 10:8-10.
The Parable of the Wheat and Tares
"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.
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 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," Matthew 13:24-30.
Just before ascending back to the Father, the commission to sow the seed of the gospel was placed in the hands of the Lord's disciples, and they were to sow the seed throughout the Lord's kingdom. His kingdom in these parables is the whole world of mankind on the earth, 13:38; 28:18-20; Acts 1:8. This parable verifies this truth.
At first the disciples were very zealous and "on guard" for the Lord, as recorded in The Book of Acts. But as time passed, even some of the Lord's people began to go to "sleep" spiritually, exactly as stated in this parable, and also as stated in the letter to the church at Ephesus, 13:25; Revelation 2:1-7. A careful study of the Word in Acts and other epistles will reveal that there were at least three "splits" in the ranks of Christianity before the end of the Apostolic period, 1 John 2:18-19. Satan was sowing his "tares" among the wheat.
When the spiritual ardor of God's people begin to wane, then the Lord's churches began to be infiltrated by Satan's henchmen, posing as "Christians." Compare 2 Peter 2:1-22, Jude 3-4, Revelation 2:2-4 and 2:9. This is still going on right to this present day.
The Lord's true, dedicated, servants recognized what was happening, just as stated in this parable, and wanted to do something about it. But the Lord, knowing the "sin nature" of fallen mankind, and the weakness of "the flesh," knew that if authority to "root up" was placed in the hands of His disciples, they would inevitably make mistakes in judgment, and would "root up" some of God's own children. Think about it!
Keep in mind that this is speaking of "the kingdom," not "the church." True believers have a Scriptural right, and even an obligation, to withdraw fellowship from any church member, who is living a sinful life in rebellion and defiance of God's Word, 1 Corinthians 5:1-12. We can and should "Purge out therefore the old leaven," in the churches, 1 Corinthians 5:7. But we cannot, and should not even attempt to "root up" the "tares" in the kingdom.
Isn't it true, that from time to time today, we find true believers in all kinds of cults and false religious systems? Likewise today, don't we also find "false teachers" and lost unbelievers in the churches and the ranks of Christianity? The Lord very accurately foresaw the situation that would develop over the 2,000 years of this present dispensation.
So the Lord's decision was to just let the wheat [true believers] and the tares [lost unbelievers] grow together in the kingdom [this present evil world], until "the time of harvest," and then the reapers will separate them, 13:39-41. You can count on it!
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
"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:
Which indeed is the least of all seed: 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 13:31-32.
This is the third in the "kingdom of heaven" parables. In this parable the Lord is not the sower, and "the seed" sown is not the Word of God. Notice the change in the language used in this parable.
In this parable "a man" takes "a grain of mustard seed" and sows it "in his field." As the Lord points out, mustard seed is a very tiny seed, comparable to a dot made when one places the point of a pencil down on a piece of paper. Yet, in this parable, that one tiny seed produces a mustard plant that grows into a monstrosity, becoming "a tree," rather than the normal size plant usually produced. It becomes so large that "the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches" of this mustard "tree." Several things should be noticed here.......
The mustard plant emits a "pungent" odor. In other words, IT STINKS, causing irritation to the nose, eyes, and skin. This is exactly opposite to the Old Testament sacrifices, which caused "a sweet smell" when offered to God by His faithful people. It is this "stinking" species of plant that the wicked have used to produce mustard gas to kill their enemies in modern warfare.
The expression, "the birds of the air," refers to Satanic powers; demons and fallen angels. The word "air" in this Scripture is translated from the Greek word, "ouranos," which is also translated as "heaven" and "high" numerous times in the New Testament. See Ephesians 6:12 as an example. Also compare Matthew 13:4, 13:19, and 13:32. It is the demons and fallen angels which find a lodging place in the branches of this stinking mustard "tree."
The "man" to whom Christ was referring was the Roman Emperor, Constantine. At the beginning of the third century, Constantine supposedly accepted "Christianity" as his own personal "religion." He then made it the "state religion" by planting it in "his field" [the Roman Empire] in 313 A.D., and forcing it upon the citizens of Rome by his decree. It was at that time that many of the ancient statues of the old pagan gods of Rome were given "Christian" names, and the people of Rome kept right on worshipping them in the same old pagan way.
What Constantine had really accepted and forced upon the Roman citizens, was the ancient Babylonian religious system of Nimrod and Semaramis, dressed up in "Christian" garments. Constantine's wickedness laid the foundation for what would ultimately develop into the so-called "Holy Roman Catholic [universal] Church," the Papal system; a religious heirarchy. Through this Roman "whore" religious system, planted by Constantine in "his field," the "mustard seed" has grown into "a tree;" a religious monstrosity, spreading her branches throughout the whole world. And sure enough, this false "religious system" is filled with demon activity and every kind of wickedness imaginable; witchcraft, demonism, sorcery, blasphemy, homosexuality, etc., Revelation 18:1-5. Carefully study and compare, Ezekiel 31:3-6, Daniel 4:10-12, and Revelation 17:1-2. Also compare the letter to the church at Pergamos, Revelation 2:12-17. Again, the Church is not the kingdom, but during this present dispensation, the churches are in the kingdom, so what happens in the kingdom often has an effect upon the churches.
<<<<<<< O >>>>>>>
TO BE CONTINUED...
<<<<<<< O >>>>>>>
Permission is granted to any true believer or Bible believing Christian ministry to reproduce this study to share with others, or to quote from it in context as written.
Thank you for your prayers and gifts. God bless you all.
All comments, questions, or correspondence should be addressed to:
Pastor F. M. Riley, 14275 County Road 8120, Rolla, Missouri 65401.