New English Translation
On the Kingdom of God
18 Thus Jesus[a] asked,[b] “What is the kingdom of God[c] like?[d] To[e] what should I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed[f] that a man took and sowed[g] in his garden. It[h] grew and became a tree,[i] and the wild birds[j] nested in its branches.”[k]Read full chapter
- Luke 13:18 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Luke 13:18 tn Grk “said,” but what follows is a question.
- Luke 13:18 sn The kingdom of God is a major theme of Jesus’ teaching. The nature of the kingdom of God in the NT and in Jesus’ teaching has long been debated by interpreters and scholars, with discussion primarily centering around the nature of the kingdom (earthly, heavenly, or both) and the kingdom’s arrival (present, future, or both). An additional major issue concerns the relationship between the kingdom of God and the person and work of Jesus himself. See Luke 6:20; 11:20; 17:20-21.
- Luke 13:18 sn What is the kingdom of God like? Unlike Mark 4 or Matt 13, where the kingdom parables tend to be all in one location in the narrative, Luke scatters his examples throughout the Gospel.
- Luke 13:18 tn Grk “And to.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
- Luke 13:19 sn The mustard seed was noted for its tiny size.
- Luke 13:19 tn Grk “threw.”
- Luke 13:19 tn Grk “garden, and it.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style. Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
- Luke 13:19 sn Calling the mustard plant a tree is rhetorical hyperbole, since technically it is not one. This plant could be one of two types of mustard popular in Palestine and would be either 10 or 25 ft (3 or 7.5 m) tall.
- Luke 13:19 tn Grk “the birds of the sky” or “the birds of the heaven”; the Greek word οὐρανός (ouranos) may be translated either “sky” or “heaven,” depending on the context. The idiomatic expression “birds of the sky” refers to wild birds as opposed to domesticated fowl (cf. BDAG 809 s.v. πετεινόν).
- Luke 13:19 sn The point of the parable seems to be that while the kingdom of God may appear to have insignificant and unnoticeable beginnings (i.e., in the ministry of Jesus), it will someday (i.e., at the second advent) be great and quite expansive. The kingdom, however, is not to be equated with the church, but rather the church is an expression of the kingdom. Also, there is important OT background in the image of a small plant that grew and became a tree: Ezek 17:22-24 pictures the reemergence of the Davidic house where people can find calm and shelter. Like the mustard seed, it would start out small but grow to significant size.
- Luke 13:20 tn Grk “And again.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
- Luke 13:20 sn The kingdom of God is a major theme of Jesus’ teaching. See the note on this phrase in v. 18.
- Luke 13:21 tn Grk “hid in.”
- Luke 13:21 sn This measure was a saton, the Greek name for the Hebrew term “seah.” Three of these was a very large quantity of flour, since a saton is a little over 16 lbs (7 kg) of dry measure (or 13.13 liters). So this was over 47 lbs (21 kg) of flour total, enough to feed over a hundred people.
- Luke 13:21 tn Grk “it was all leavened.”sn The parable of the yeast and the dough teaches that the kingdom of God will start small but eventually grow to permeate everything. Jesus’ point was not to be deceived by its seemingly small start, the same point made in the parable of the mustard seed, which preceded this one.