The Parable of the Householder

Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:  And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.  And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.  Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.  But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.  But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.  And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.  When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?  They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.  Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?  Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.nAnd when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet. Mat 21:33-46 KJV

The householder illustrates God the Father, who sent His Son into the world to redeem mankind. Mt. 21:37; Jn. 3:16; 15:1  The vineyard illustrates the kingdom of Heaven part of the kingdom of God, which was intrusted to the Jews, planted by God with the rich and fruitful vines of the knowledge of God, His commandments, the institutions of religion, and His revealed Word. Mt. 21:43; Mk. 12:1-9; Lk. 20:9-19; Rom. 3:1-2; 9:1-5 The hedge illustrates God’s watchful care and provision for the protection of the kingdom, so that it would be free from the intrusion of wild beasts which would spoil the vines and destroy the fruit. The winepress illustrates all the institutions and means of blessing for the human race. Winepresses were hewn out of solid rock. They usually consisted of two or three vats, each a little higher than the other, with troughs from one to the other. The grapes were put in the top vat, which was always the biggest, and two or more persons with naked feet and legs would jump up and down, crushing the grapes. The juice flowed into the next vat and from it would be drawn off into the next, or into vessels, leaving the dregs in the vats. The tower illustrates the place of dwelling where the workers of the vineyard could find rest and recreation and a place to store the fruit. These towers in literal vineyards were sometimes forty to fifty feet high, affording a place for the watchman to see the vineyard and protect it.

The husbandmen illustrate Israel who had charge of the vineyard to render unto the householder the fruit in due season. Mt. 21:45-46 There were two kinds of leases that could be had in the East. The tenant paid a money rent to the proprietor, or else he agreed to give the owner a definite amount of the produce, whether the harvest had been good or bad. Such leases were given by the year or for life; sometimes the lease was even hereditary, passing from father to son. The latter kind of lease is no doubt referred to in this parable.

The householder going away illustrates the long period that God permitted the nation to be ruled under the guidance of kings and prophets through the law. Acts 13:17-43  The time of the fruit illustrates the seasons that God expected results from the Jews in extending the kingdom among other nations and doing those things required to bring the knowledge of God to others.

The servants illustrate the Old Testament prophets, priests, and teachers whom God sent to get the Jews to render to Him the fruit of the kingdom. Mt. 23:37-39; Heb. 11:32-40  The son of the householder illustrates the Son of God, who was sent to the lost sheep of Israel. Mt. 10:6; 23:37-39; Jn. 1:11; 3:16; Acts 2:22-36  The maltreatment of the servants and the son illustrates the bitter hatreds and backslidings of Israel against God from the time in Egypt to the crucifixion of Christ. This is plainly recorded in 1 Ki. 18:13; 22:24-27; 2 Ki. 6:31; 21:16; 2 Chron. 24:19-22; 36:16; Jer. 37:138:28; Mt. 23:37-39; Acts 7:52; Heb. 11:36; Lk. 4:29; Jn. 8:37, 59; 10:31-39; 19:14-30.

The scheme of the husbandmen to seize the inheritance illustrates the reason for their rejection of the Messiah. They sinned against light. If Jesus was the Messiah and if He was introducing the kingdom of God, the whole spirit of which was different from theirs, then they would lose their places as rulers, as teachers, as men of influence, as well as their authority over the people and their chief business. They were so connected with a system and with wrong ideas, principles, and customs, which must pass away with the reign of the Messiah, that if Christ prevailed they must fall. They imagined that if they could destroy Christ, they could continue in their possession of the inheritance. They killed that they might possess, but killing was the shortest road to entire loss. Every possible method of leading them to right conduct had been exhausted; so judgment must fall. They pronounced their own judgment. Mt. 21:40-41 The destruction of the husbandmen refers to the cutting off of Israel and the destruction of their city and nation. Mt. 23:37-39; 24:2; Lk. 21:20-24; Acts 13:44-49; 18:6; Rom. 11:1-33

The central truths illustrated are stated in Mat. 21:42-44. The Jews at last saw the application of the parable and immediately went out unconsciously to fulfill it. There are three main truths illustrated by this story:

  • The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. 21:42; Ps. 118:22-23; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:7 The cornerstone on which the superstructure rested was the most important stone in the building. The primary meaning in the Psalm about the rejected stone was taken from the great cornerstone that the builders of Solomon’s Temple left out because they did not understand the head architect’s plans. Afterward this stone was found to be that on which the completeness of the structure depended – on which the two walls met and were bonded together. The Messiah of these Jews was compared to this stone. Christ warned them not to make the same mistake that the builders of the Temple had made.
  • The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 21:43 This refers to the cutting off of Israel from being the ministers and people of God to carry out God’s purpose of evangelizing the world. Acts 13:44-52; 18:6; Rom. 11:1-33 The Gentiles have been the propagators of the Gospel throughout this Age of Grace.
  •  Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder  Mt. 21:44 This saying means that the individual who humbles himself and falls on the stone for mercy shall receive mercy and shall become broken in heart and spirit, Isa. 57:15; 66:1-2; Ps. 34:18; Mt. 5:3-7 but if he hardens himself against God, he shall receive judgment without mercy. The stone in this verse is the same as in verse 42. It refers to Christ, who is pictured as a stone in Scripture, in a threefold way:
  1. To Israel – He is pictured as a stumbling stone and a rock of offence, because He came as a lowly servant instead of a great world-monarch 8:14; Rom. 9:32-33; 1 Cor. 1:23; 1 Pet. 2:8
  2. To the Church – He is pictured as a foundation stone and the head of the corner 1 Cor. 3:11; 2:20-22; 1 Pet. 2:4-5
  3. To the nations – He is pictured as a smiting stone of destruction 2:34, 44-45; Lk. 21:24; Rev. 16:14; 19:11-21

Israel stumbled over Christ; the Church is built upon Christ; and the nations will be broken by Christ.

 

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:  Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Mat 13:45-46 KJV

The kingdom of Heaven, is “like” a pearl, thus the “realm of profession,” which should always be understood in connection with things on Earth. The mystery of the kingdom of Heaven here is that of the true Church. The parable of the treasure exemplifies Israel in relation to the kingdom of Heaven. In that parable Israel is pictured with an earthly calling and hid in the world so that it had to be bought in order to get the treasure, but in this parable the pearl is bought without buying the world, for the calling of the Church is heavenly. The sons of God (the wheat) are the true children of the kingdom and make the present Church, but the sons of the devil (the tares), who profess to be children of the kingdom, are also in the “sphere of profession,” endeavoring to counteract God’s purpose in the kingdom. This parable emphasizes the fact that the Church is not the kingdom of Heaven. It is only a part of the kingdom of Heaven.

The man illustrates Christ, as in all the preceding parables. Mt. 13:3, 24, 37, 44 and the pearl illustrates the true Church that Christ gave all for in order to buy it and redeem it to Himself. Eph. 5:25-31  The great price illustrates the treasure of Heaven that God had to give in order to get the human race redeemed from the devil. Jn. 3:16; 6:51; 10:11, 18; 19:30; 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 2:24; Rev. 5:6, 9; 12:11  Pearls are sometimes formed by the introduction of a foreign body, possibly a grain of sand, into the muscular structure of an oyster, which secretes a substance about the sand, layer after layer, until a beautiful pearl is formed. This is a wonderful picture of the gradual formation of the body of Christ. 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12-28; Eph. 2:14-22; 4:11-16; 5:25-31

For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.  1Cor. 10:17 KJV

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man has found, he hide, and for joy thereof go and sell all that he had, and buy that field. Mat. 13:44 KJV

The treasure illustrates Israel in the kingdom of Heaven, partaking in the kingdom or realm of profession in this age. She, Israel, is like a treasure Ps. 135:4; Ex. 19:5; Mal. 3:17 hidden or lying in the world in the sense that Israel’s testimony as witnesses for God is veiled, Rom. 9:111:29  lying dormant and failing to fulfill her calling. The field is the world as in all preceding parables. Mt. 13:38 The treasure was not in the world when the devil took possession of it. When Christ came to seek the treasure it was hidden in the world. The man is Christ Mt. 13:34,37 seeking the treasure. Jn. 1:11-12; Mt. 23:37-39 and joyfully gives His all to buy the field Jn. 11:51; Rom. 8:17-25; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 2 Pet. 2:1 to get the treasure and all else in the field. Php. 2:5-8; 2Cor. 8:9; Tit. 2:14; Heb. 12:1-2 The treasure, though found, Mt. 10:6; 15:24; 23:37-39; Acts 13:46 remains hidden in the world until Christ comes to take possession of it at His second coming. Rom. 11:25-29; Lk. 21:24; Lk. 1:32-33; Isa. 9:6-7 Then the treasure, as well as the field, will be His. Eph. 1:14; Rom. 11:25-28; Lk. 21:24; Rev. 19-20; Rom. 8:17-25 His joy in giving all for the field is experienced in view of the glorious restoration of all things and the treasure, Israel, exalted and made a blessing to all nations as originally planned. Heb. 12:2; Rom. 11; Lk. 1:32-35; Isa. 9:6-7

The Parable of the Leaven

Another parable spoke 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. Mat. 13:33 KJV

The kingdom of Heaven here is “like” leaven (sour dough) that is always used in a bad sense in Scripture, as meal is in a good sense. Therefore, the common interpretation of leaven converting the world is the exact opposite of the true interpretation of the leaven corrupting the meal. Note the use of leaven in Scripture:

In the Old Testament leaven is used to portray the evil nature of the sinner: Exodus 12:8, 15-20; 34:25; Levitikus 2:11; 6:17; 10:12 These last three passages refer to leaven being forbidden in certain sacrifices. Only in one sacrifice was it used in Levitikus 7:12-13 and here it signifies that though the believer has made peace with God through the work of another (Christ), there are still human traits and selfishness in him which must be continually purged by growth in grace.

In the New Testament leaven is used in four ways: first, the leaven of the Pharisees which was external religion, legalism, and hypocrisy; Mt. 23:14-28; Lk. 12:1 second, the leaven of the Sadducees, which was skepticism as to the supernatural and the teachings of the Scriptures on resurrection, angels, and spirits; Mt. 22:23-39; Acts 23:8 third, the leaven of the Harridans, which was materialism, a mixture of religion and worldliness, a political religion; Mk. 8:15 fourth, the leaven of both Pharisees and Sadducees as to their evil doctrines and practices. Mt. 16:11-12; 23:14, 16, 23-28

This illustrates how the kingdom of heaven teachings and the program of God in this age would become corrupted by false doctrines and unscriptural programs until the whole is corrupted. Lk. 18:8; 1Tim. 4:1-8; 2Tim. 3:5; 4:3-4; 2Pet. 3:3-4  A woman is a common symbol of evil in the moral or religious sphere and when used figuratively in an evil sense ‘she’ represents wickedness, fallacy, uncleanness, and unfaithfulness, Lam. 1:17 harlotry, Ezek. 16:15,22,26,28-59; 23:1-49; 36:17; Hos. 1:2; 2:2-17; 3:1; Rev. 17 wickedness, Zech. 5:5-11; Rev. 17:5 and false religion. Rev. 17 Thus, in a bad ethical sense a woman always symbolizes something wrong or out of place religiously.  Zech. 5:7-8; Rev. 2:20; 17:1-18  When used in a good sense women represent Israel, cp Gen. 37:9-10 with Rev. 12; Ezek. 16 the two covenants, Gal. 4:21-31 and righteousness and purity. 2Cor. 11:2; Rev. 19:7-8 A meal symbolizes the Word of God. Mt. 4:4; Jn. 6:47-63 and the three hidden measures of the meal illustrates all false teachings, religious programs, and professed Christian lives that seek to hide behind the Word of God (Christ as the Bread of Life and the Word of God Mt. 4:4; Jn. 6:47-63; Jn. 1:1).

The parable illustrates how the kingdom of Heaven would become like leaven, which a woman uses to corrupt Christ and His teachings. Both Christ and the Word of God are being corrupted today by the false church and its teachings. These teachers dominate the realm of profession and use it to deceive people by exalting their own words above the Word of God and their own leaders above Christ; by making the people feel that their church is infallible and that obedience to it and its dogmas is better than obedience to civil governments and by many comparable doctrines contrary to the Bible, thus corrupting the truth through the realm of profession.

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaven the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1Cor. 5:6-8 KJV

The Purpose of Parables

And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speak thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.  Mat. 13:10-11 KJV

A parable: the Greek word parabole (GSN-<G3850>) is a comparison, Mk. 4:30 figure Heb. 9:9; 11:19 proverb Lk. 4:23 and an illustration; Mt. 13:3,10,13,18,24,31-36,53; 15:15; 21:33,45; 22:1; 24:32 they are extended similes.

They illustrate truth and make it clear by comparison with something that is already familiar. They impart instruction and rebuke without causing offense.  2Sam. 12 They create interest and hunger for further information. Mt. 13:10-17; 2Sam. 12  The stories are always true and the points illustrated must not be considered false and absurd. The historical background and the circumstances and occasion when uttered must be understood. Their words and details must be defined literally, not spiritually. The similarity between the point illustrated and the illustration must be noted.  The point illustrated is always stated with the parable or is clear by the occasion uttered.  The principles of interpretation are given by Jesus Himself. Any interpretation at variance with these principles or with the purpose of the parable is unscriptural.

Parables were used to reveal truth in a form intended to create more interest; Mt. 13:10-11,16 to make known new truths to interested hearers; Mt. 13:11-12,16-17 to make known mysteries by comparison with things already known; Mt. 13:11 to conceal truth from disinterested hearers and rebels at heart; Mt. 13:11-15 to add truth to those who love it and want more of it; Mt. 13:12 to take truth away from those who hate and do not want it; Mt. 13:12 and to fulfill prophecy. Mt. 13:14-17,35

For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. Mat. 13:12-13 KJV

A mystery is a secret previously hidden but now made clear so that no mystery remains for anyone who will accept the truth as revealed. Mt. 13:19; 2Cor. 4:3-4  At present the realm of profession, for tares and wheat and good and bad are now mixed together in the same kingdom. At the end of this age the two classes will be separated. The professors will be sent to hell and the possessors of the kingdom will continue in its literal aspect forever. Mt. 13:40-43,49-50; Mat. 25:31-46; Rev. 20; Zech. 14  Believers increase in knowledge, but unbelievers go into more ignorance and darkness. Rom. 1:18-32; Tit. 1:15; 1Jn. 1:7; Jn. 3:16-20 This is a work of man’s own unbelief and rebellion and the work of satan. Mt. 13:15,19; 2Cor. 4:3-4  They can see, but they refuse to see; they can hear, but they refuse to hear; they are capable of understanding, but they refuse to accept the truth, desiring to hold on to their old religious traditions and professions in preference to walking in the light of new truth.

And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which said, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Mat. 13:14-15 KJV

This Old Testament prophecy of Israel written by Isaiah 6:9-10 is fulfilled in Matthew 13:14-15 Jn. 12:39-40; Acts 28:25 describing the condition of their hearts as being made fat, stupid, insensible, inattentive, dull, and callous. Acts 28:27 The idea here is that the people became this way, little by little, until they were past normal, vigorous obedience to truth and righteousness, but they were failing to do, see, hear, and understand with the heart.  They missed out on the promised blessings of conversion, a change of direction, a new walk with God and of physical healing, a change of health, a new health in God. Ps. 91; 103:3; Mt. 8:17; Isa. 53; Rom. 8:11; 1Pet. 2:24; 3Jn. 1:2; Jas. 5:14-16; Mk. 16:17-18; Jn. 14:12-15; 15:7,16

All these things spoke Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spoke He not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. Mat. 13:34-35 KJV