Jesus explains that God tolerates the wicked in the present for the sake of his elect, but will publicly distinguish between the two in the day when the secrets of the kingdom are revealed. That will be the end of present ambiguities! The landowner avoids uprooting the young darnel, which still looks like the wheat, because he values the wheat; in the same way, God endures the wicked in the present to provide all those who will receive him time to become his followers (Rom 9:22-24; 2 Pet 3:9, 15).
Jesus observed these principles when he embraced sinners at table fellowship and denounced the Pharisees; but the principle offers abundant applications for Jesus' followers as well. Jesus' primary point is the coexistence of kingdom poeple with the world's people in this age. Though the context also suggests some application to the church (Mt 13:19-23, 47-50), the point here is not that we should abandon efforts to keep the church pure (18:7-14, 21-35). The point is that the kingdom remains obscure in the present world and only the final day will bring God's true children into their vindicated glory and banish the wicked from among them (Ladd 1974b:97).
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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