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Matthew 13 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 13

The Parable of the Sower. [a]On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. [b]And he spoke to them at length in parables,[c] saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

The Purpose of Parables. 10 The disciples approached him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 [d]He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. 12 To anyone who has, more will be given[e] and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 [f]This is why I speak to them in parables, because ‘they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.’ 14 Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:

‘You shall indeed hear but not understand,
    you shall indeed look but never see.
15 Gross is the heart of this people,
    they will hardly hear with their ears,
    they have closed their eyes,
        lest they see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart and be converted,
    and I heal them.’

The Privilege of Discipleship.[g] 16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. 17 Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

The Explanation of the Parable of the Sower.[h] 18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. 20 The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. 21 But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. 22 The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. 23 But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

The Parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat. 24 He proposed another parable to them.[i] “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds[j] all through the wheat, and then went off. 26 When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. 27 The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let them grow together until harvest;[k] then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed.[l] 31 He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. 32 [m]It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”

The Parable of the Yeast. 33 He spoke to them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast[n] that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”

The Use of Parables. 34 [o]All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, 35 to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:[p]

“I will open my mouth in parables,
    I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation [of the world].”

The Explanation of the Parable of the Weeds. 36 Then, dismissing the crowds,[q] he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37 [r]He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, 38 the field is the world,[s] the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age,[t] and the harvesters are angels. 40 Just as weeds are collected and burned [up] with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom[u] all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. 43 [v]Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.

More Parables.[w] 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,[x] which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. 46 When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. 47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. 48 When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. 49 Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

Treasures New and Old. 51 “Do you understand[y] all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 [z]And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” 53 When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.

V. Jesus, the Kingdom, and the Church

The Rejection at Nazareth. 54 [aa]He came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished[ab] and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? 55 Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? 56 Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” 58 And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.

Footnotes:

  1. 13:1–53 The discourse in parables is the third great discourse of Jesus in Matthew and constitutes the second part of the third book of the gospel. Matthew follows the Marcan outline (Mk 4:1–35) but has only two of Mark’s parables, the five others being from Q and M. In addition to the seven parables, the discourse gives the reason why Jesus uses this type of speech (Mt 13:10–15), declares the blessedness of those who understand his teaching (Mt 13:16–17), explains the parable of the sower (Mt 13:18–23) and of the weeds (Mt 13:36–43), and ends with a concluding statement to the disciples (Mt 13:51–52).
  2. 13:3 In parables: the word “parable” (Greek parabolē) is used in the LXX to translate the Hebrew māshāl, a designation covering a wide variety of literary forms such as axioms, proverbs, similitudes, and allegories. In the New Testament the same breadth of meaning of the word is found, but there it primarily designates stories that are illustrative comparisons between Christian truths and events of everyday life. Sometimes the event has a strange element that is quite different from usual experience (e.g., in Mt 13:33 the enormous amount of dough in the parable of the yeast); this is meant to sharpen the curiosity of the hearer. If each detail of such a story is given a figurative meaning, the story is an allegory. Those who maintain a sharp distinction between parable and allegory insist that a parable has only one point of comparison, and that while parables were characteristic of Jesus’ teaching, to see allegorical details in them is to introduce meanings that go beyond their original intention and even falsify it. However, to exclude any allegorical elements from a parable is an excessively rigid mode of interpretation, now abandoned by many scholars.
  3. 13:3–8 Since in Palestine sowing often preceded plowing, much of the seed is scattered on ground that is unsuitable. Yet while much is wasted, the seed that falls on good ground bears fruit in extraordinarily large measure. The point of the parable is that, in spite of some failure because of opposition and indifference, the message of Jesus about the coming of the kingdom will have enormous success.
  4. 13:11 Since a parable is figurative speech that demands reflection for understanding, only those who are prepared to explore its meaning can come to know it. To understand is a gift of God, granted to the disciples but not to the crowds. In Semitic fashion, both the disciples’ understanding and the crowd’s obtuseness are attributed to God. The question of human responsibility for the obtuseness is not dealt with, although it is asserted in Mt 13:13. The mysteries: as in Lk 8:10; Mk 4:11 has “the mystery.” The word is used in Dn 2:18, 19, 27 and in the Qumran literature (1QpHab 7:8; 1QS 3:23; 1QM 3:9) to designate a divine plan or decree affecting the course of history that can be known only when revealed. Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven means recognition that the kingdom has become present in the ministry of Jesus.
  5. 13:12 In the New Testament use of this axiom of practical “wisdom” (see Mt 25:29; Mk 4:25; Lk 8:18; 19:26), the reference transcends the original level. God gives further understanding to one who accepts the revealed mystery; from the one who does not, he will take it away (note the “theological passive,” more will be given, what he has will be taken away).
  6. 13:13 Because ‘they look…or understand’: Matthew softens his Marcan source, which states that Jesus speaks in parables so that the crowds may not understand (Mk 4:12), and makes such speaking a punishment given because they have not accepted his previous clear teaching. However, his citation of Is 6:9–10 in Mt 13:14 supports the harsher Marcan view.
  7. 13:16–17 Unlike the unbelieving crowds, the disciples have seen that which the prophets and the righteous of the Old Testament longed to see without having their longing fulfilled.
  8. 13:18–23 See Mk 4:14–20; Lk 8:11–15. In this explanation of the parable the emphasis is on the various types of soil on which the seed falls, i.e., on the dispositions with which the preaching of Jesus is received. The second and third types particularly are explained in such a way as to support the view held by many scholars that the explanation derives not from Jesus but from early Christian reflection upon apostasy from the faith that was the consequence of persecution and worldliness, respectively. Others, however, hold that the explanation may come basically from Jesus even though it was developed in the light of later Christian experience. The four types of persons envisaged are (1) those who never accept the word of the kingdom (Mt 13:19); (2) those who believe for a while but fall away because of persecution (Mt 13:20–21); (3) those who believe, but in whom the word is choked by worldly anxiety and the seduction of riches (Mt 13:22); (4) those who respond to the word and produce fruit abundantly (Mt 13:23).
  9. 13:24–30 This parable is peculiar to Matthew. The comparison in Mt 13:24 does not mean that the kingdom of heaven may be likened simply to the person in question but to the situation narrated in the whole story. The refusal of the householder to allow his slaves to separate the wheat from the weeds while they are still growing is a warning to the disciples not to attempt to anticipate the final judgment of God by a definitive exclusion of sinners from the kingdom. In its present stage it is composed of the good and the bad. The judgment of God alone will eliminate the sinful. Until then there must be patience and the preaching of repentance.
  10. 13:25 Weeds: darnel, a poisonous weed that in its first stage of growth resembles wheat.
  11. 13:30 Harvest: a common biblical metaphor for the time of God’s judgment; cf. Jer 51:33; Jl 4:13; Hos 6:11.
  12. 13:31–33 See Mk 4:30–32; Lk 13:18–21. The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast illustrate the same point: the amazing contrast between the small beginnings of the kingdom and its marvelous expansion.
  13. 13:32 See Dn 4:7–9, 17–19 where the birds nesting in the tree represent the people of Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. See also Ez 17:23; 31:6.
  14. 13:33 Except in this Q parable and in Mt 16:12, yeast (or “leaven”) is, in New Testament usage, a symbol of corruption (see Mt 16:6, 11–12; Mk 8:15; Lk 12:1; 1 Cor 5:6–8; Gal 5:9). Three measures: an enormous amount, enough to feed a hundred people. The exaggeration of this element of the parable points to the greatness of the kingdom’s effect.
  15. 13:34 Only in parables: see Mt 13:10–15.
  16. 13:35 The prophet: some textual witnesses read “Isaiah the prophet.” The quotation is actually from Ps 78:2; the first line corresponds to the LXX text of the psalm. The psalm’s title ascribes it to Asaph, the founder of one of the guilds of temple musicians. He is called “the prophet” (NAB “the seer”) in 2 Chr 29:30, but it is doubtful that Matthew averted to that; for him, any Old Testament text that could be seen as fulfilled in Jesus was prophetic.
  17. 13:36 Dismissing the crowds: the return of Jesus to the house marks a break with the crowds, who represent unbelieving Israel. From now on his attention is directed more and more to his disciples and to their instruction. The rest of the discourse is addressed to them alone.
  18. 13:37–43 In the explanation of the parable of the weeds emphasis lies on the fearful end of the wicked, whereas the parable itself concentrates on patience with them until judgment time.
  19. 13:38 The field is the world: this presupposes the resurrection of Jesus and the granting to him of “all power in heaven and on earth” (Mt 28:18).
  20. 13:39 The end of the age: this phrase is found only in Matthew (13:40, 49; 24:3; 28:20).
  21. 13:41 His kingdom: the kingdom of the Son of Man is distinguished from that of the Father (Mt 13:43); see 1 Cor 15:24–25. The church is the place where Jesus’ kingdom is manifested, but his royal authority embraces the entire world; see note on Mt 13:38.
  22. 13:43 See Dn 12:3.
  23. 13:44–50 The first two of the last three parables of the discourse have the same point. The person who finds a buried treasure and the merchant who finds a pearl of great price sell all that they have to acquire these finds; similarly, the one who understands the supreme value of the kingdom gives up whatever he must to obtain it. The joy with which this is done is made explicit in the first parable, but it may be presumed in the second also. The concluding parable of the fishnet resembles the explanation of the parable of the weeds with its stress upon the final exclusion of evil persons from the kingdom.
  24. 13:44 In the unsettled conditions of Palestine in Jesus’ time, it was not unusual to guard valuables by burying them in the ground.
  25. 13:51 Matthew typically speaks of the understanding of the disciples.
  26. 13:52 Since Matthew tends to identify the disciples and the Twelve (see note on Mt 10:1), this saying about the Christian scribe cannot be taken as applicable to all who accept the message of Jesus. While the Twelve are in many ways representative of all who believe in him, they are also distinguished from them in certain respects. The church of Matthew has leaders among whom are a group designated as “scribes” (Mt 23:34). Like the scribes of Israel, they are teachers. It is the Twelve and these their later counterparts to whom this verse applies. The scribe…instructed in the kingdom of heaven knows both the teaching of Jesus (the new) and the law and prophets (the old) and provides in his own teaching both the new and the old as interpreted and fulfilled by the new. On the translation head of a household (for the same Greek word translated householder in Mt 13:27), see note on Mt 24:45–51.
  27. 13:54–17:27 This section is the narrative part of the fourth book of the gospel.
  28. 13:54–58 After the Sermon on the Mount the crowds are in admiring astonishment at Jesus’ teaching (Mt 7:28); here the astonishment is of those who take offense at him. Familiarity with his background and family leads them to regard him as pretentious. Matthew modifies his Marcan source (Mt 6:1–6). Jesus is not the carpenter but the carpenter’s son (Mt 13:55), “and among his own kin” is omitted (Mt 13:57), he did not work many mighty deeds in face of such unbelief (Mt 13:58) rather than the Marcan “…he was not able to perform any mighty deed there” (Mt 6:5), and there is no mention of his amazement at his townspeople’s lack of faith.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Matthew 13 New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Sower

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
    though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’[a]

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

The Parable of the Weeds

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast

31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds[b] of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35 So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:

“I will open my mouth in parables,
    I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”[c]

The Parable of the Weeds Explained

36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

The Parable of the Net

47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

A Prophet Without Honor

53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 13:15 Isaiah 6:9,10 (see Septuagint)
  2. Matthew 13:33 Or about 27 kilograms
  3. Matthew 13:35 Psalm 78:2
New International Version (NIV)

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