Last week in our series on the Life of Christ, we began looking at the parables found in Matthew 13. Some of these parables are also taught in the other accounts and some of them are not. Last week, we began with the parable of the sower, which was about how people would have different reactions to the Word of God.


In this lesson, we will start off by examining the parable of the tares and the wheat, which is only recorded in Matthew 13. In the parable of the sower, we learned how the devil will come into the lives of the hard hearted. Well, the parable of the tares and wheat will give us even more insightabout the work of the devil as we go through our Christians lives, and it deals with the judgment day and the eternal separation of the good and the evil.


This is another parable that Jesus explains. So, letís read the parable and then Jesusí explanation of it.


Matthew 13:24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;25 "but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.26 "But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.27 "So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?'28 "He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?'29 "But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.30 'Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn." ' "


Now letís move to the explanation.


Matthew 13:36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field."37 He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.38 "The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.39 "The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.40 "Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.41 "The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,42 "and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.43 "Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!


The basic outline of this parable is:

         The man who sows the good seed is Christ.

         The field that He sows in is the world.

         The good seeds are the sons of the kingdom who were produced from the Word of God.

         The tares are the sons of the wicked one sown by the devil.

         The harvest is the end of the age when Jesus will send forth His angels to separate the Christians from non-Christians. The faithful Christians will be given their heavenly reward, and the rest will be cast into hell with the devil and his angels.


The sons of the kingdom go out and sow the seed in the world, but the devil is also sowing his seed, which is the seed of error. There are only two kinds of people today, those who are sons of God and those who are sons of the devil. We are allowed to be in the world at the same time for now until the final judgment.


This parable reminds me of a story I heard. A couple of young boys kept crossing this farmer's land and the farmer eventually put up a no trespassing sign. Well, one of the boys didnít like this very well, so he went and bought a bag of Johnston grass seed and sowed every field this farmer had. Later on, he falls in love with the farmer's daughter and they get married. The old farmer dies and this boy inherits the farm and he had to battle the Johnston grass for the rest of his life. He was his own enemy.


Letís talk about the sower of the seed. Mat 13:37 tells us that the sower of the good seed is the son of man which is Jesus. He is represented by the one who owns the field and sows the seed. Today, Jesus uses His servants to sow the good seed in His field, which is the world. We are commanded to do this in verses like:


Luke 24:46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,47 "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.


This is Lukeís version of the Great commission and we certainly see that Christians followed this command as can be seen in:

Acts 8:4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.


Christians should love God enough to be willing to give up their time and make an effort to help in the process of sowing the seed of the kingdom in order that sons of the kingdom may be produced.


Jesus also tells us who it was that sowed the tares in His field in Mt 13:39, which was the devil. To increase our chances to withstand the devil, we need to know our enemy the best we can. The devil would love for man to view him as someone in a red suit with a pitchfork. We must take Satan very serious as he is the father of lies John 8:44. He is sneaky, and his main mission is to spiritually by getting them to turn away from God. The bible warns us about the craftiness of the devil in verses like:


1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.


1 Timothy 3:7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.


So, do not underestimate him, lest you get caught in his snare and devoured by him.


Letís now take a look at the seed that was sown. In the parable of the sower the seed represented the Word of God, but in this parable, it represents how the seed or we can say the Word of God has been planted into the heart of man, which are the children of the kingdom. They are the ones who have accepted the Word and have obeyed it. As James talks about in:


James 1:18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.19  So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.22  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.


Those who love the Lord and obey His commands will produce fruit as Jesus said:


John 15:8 "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.9 " As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.


Sowing the seed of the kingdom will not produce a denomination or any other type of religion. These only come from the seed of error being planted.


Now lets talk about the tares that were sown by the devil. Smith Bible dictionary says this about tares:


A noxious plant, of the grass family, supposed to mean the darnel. It grows among the wheat everywhere in Palestine, and bears a great resemblance to it while growing, so closely that, before they head out, the two plants can hardly be distinguished. The grains are found, 2 or 3 together, in 12 small husks scattered on a rather long head. The Arabs do not separate the darnel from the wheat, unless by means of a fan or sieve after threshing. If left to mingle with the bread, it occasions dizziness, and often acts as an emetic (causes vomiting).


The tares are the children of the wicked one. They blend right in with the sons of the kingdom just like the tares blend in with the wheat. It can be very difficult at times to tell themapart just like Satan wants it. Notice what Paul say about this in:


2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.


Satan wants his children to resemble Christians as close as possible, and he even wants what they teach to be very close to the truth. In fact, he loves for Scripture to be taken out of context to teach something other than the complete truth. This is an effective tactic as some truth causes some to be comfortable, but what they do not realize is that just enough misdirection from Godís commands is enough to trick people into feeling confident in their standing with God, when in fact they are separated from Him because they are not keeping the whole of council God. Many times, important teachings are left out and things that do not exist are added. Once again, this shows just how tricky the ole devil is.


Now letís look at the setting of the sowing. In verse 38, Jesus makes it clear that the field is the world. However, this part of the parable has the greatest controversy. Even though Jesus plainly states the field is the world, people will say that the field is the church and that we should not use church discipline on the unruly. Instead, we should let them continue to worship with us side by side. They get this by applying verses 28-30 to their teaching which says:


Matthew 13:28"He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?'29 "But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.30 'Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn." ' "


  1. I donít think they understand that Jesus is the owner of the whole world and has authority over it (Mt. 28:18; Psalm 24:1).
  2. Jesus plainly states that the field is the world. The wheat represents all men who are good, and the tares represent all men who are bad. To limit the field to being the church would mean that only those who are bad in the church would be the ones who will face judgment and punishment in hell. This would leave all those who are wicked outside of the church without judgment or punishment.
  3. Jesus did not say that the kingdom of heaven is like the field. No, he said that the kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed.The kingdom, which is the church, is to be a sower of the seed.So, it is not the field, but it is to sow the seed in the field.


This parable has nothing to do with church discipline. The servantsí mission had nothing to do with disfellowshiping the tares because they were going to destroy the tares. The owner tells the servants to let them grow together until the day of harvest, which means thatChristians are not to try and purify the field by violent means. We can see an example of this in

Luke 9:51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem,52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him.53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?"55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.56 "For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." And they went to another village.


God temporally tolerates the wicked for the righteousí sake. Do you remember how Abraham asked God if He would destroy Sodom if he found 50 righteous there, and God said He wound not destroy it? Well, Abraham keeps asking God this same question except he keeps lowering the number until he gets down to 10 righteous, and Godsays that He wouldspare the city if there was just 10. So, we are not supposed to do what they did during the Christian crusades by trying to physically destroy the wicked. After all, vengeance belongs to Lord (Rom. 12:19).


To say that this parable teaches against church disciple wouldmake Jesus contradict Himself. For example, He said:


Matthew 18:15" Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.16 "But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'17 "And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.


Besides, the New Testament talks about church discipline in several places such as Rom. 16:17; 1Cor. 5:9-13, 2 Thess. 3:6.


Now letís focus on the harvest and the separation of the saints and the sinners. At the end of the world, the sowing will finally come to an end, and the harvest will take place. When will the world end? No one knows. In fact, look at what Jesus said Himself about knowing the time of the end of the world.


Matthew 24:36 " But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.


It never ceases to amaze me how some today will say they know that the world is about to come to end, yet Jesus said that no one knows that day except the Father. People seem to think there is going to be signs that will indicate that the end of the world is going to end, but the Bible tells us to be continually prepared because when Jesus comes back, it will be like a thief in the night (1Thes 5:2), which means we will have no idea when He is coming, but we do know that He will come and this world will come to an end.


Hebrews 1:10 And: "You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.11 They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment;12 Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail."


Notice what Peter says about this in

2 Peter 3:7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up


This will be a very scary time for those who have not obeyed God because they will face the wrath of God (2 Thess 1:7-9). Jesusí angels are going to be the reapers, and they will separate the righteous from the unrighteous. The fact that the tares and the wheat or we could say the saved and the lost are gathered up together shows this will all be done at the same time, which teaches against the rapture theory. In fact, there are many verses that show the there is a final judgment day when all will be judged and that it will not be done in secret, which is just the opposite of the rapture doctrine. I recommend you read the following verses: Mat 25:34-46, Acts 1:11, Rev 1:7, 1Thes 4:16-17, John 5:28-29, 6:54, 12:48.


It is at this harvest time or judgment day that all men will stand before Christ to be judged. As Paul said in

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.


In the parable, Jesus describes hell as being the furnace of fire. He refers to it as hell fire in Mat 5:22. Look at what


Revelation 14:9 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand,10 "he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.11 "And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."


Mark 9:43 tells us that the fire is unquenchable and Matthew 25:41 tells us that it is eternal. This is where the tares or we could say those found outside of Christ will be. The parable tells us that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Someone might pop up and say well what if you donít have any teeth? I would tell them that God will provide them with some. But seriously, weeping signifies a loud expression of grief and gnashing denotes extreme anguish and utter despair.


The picture of hell that Jesus paints in this parable is frightening and horrible and it should challenge us to do what is necessary to escape its horrors. Thereís a hell to shun and a heaven to be won. Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels, but heaven is the place prepared for the children of God as John 14:2-3 says. Jesus says the following in our parable: "Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. I just love how Jesus paints such pictures with His words as describes the righteous as shinning forth as the sun in the kingdom. I would also suggest that you look at the following verses on your own time that go along with this thought: Col 3:4; Phil. 3:21; 1Cor 15:35; Rev. 21:4. Since being in heaven is a glorious place to be, letís all strive to be wheat and not tares.


We are going to briefly look at another parable that is unique to Matthew 13. The parable of the dragnet.


Matthew 13:47" Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind,48 "which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.49 "So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just,50 "and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."


This parable is very similar to that of the tares and the wheat as its main theme is the separation of the righteous from the unrighteous on the day of judgment. So with this in mind, I am not going to recover all that I have already said about the end of time other than to say that this parable also teaches against the rapture theory in that both the sinners and the saints are gathered at the same time.


The drag net mentioned in this parable was not one of those personal kind that one person throws, it was a seine which sometimes are half a mile long. The sea represents the world that is to be evangelized. The net being cast represents how the angels are going to gather up the good and the evil people. When they drag it to the beach this is when they separate the good from the evil.


Another way to apply this would be to have the net represent the gospel cast out into the world. This would mean that we should not hold back to teach the gospel to all kinds of people no matter who they are. Sometimes even the bad are gathered with the good and its not until you see the kind of fruit they produce that you can tell if they are bad. Judas would be a good example of this.


Similar to the tares and the wheat being allowed to grow together, the good fish and bad fish were allowed to be together in the water until they were gathered to the beach. It's not until that point that the fish come under the control of those who gathered them. When the fishermen sat down, which indicates the judgment time, they gather the good fish into the vessel and cast the bad fish onto the shore to die.


So, these two parables teach us that there will be a judgment day. Those who have loved the Lord and obeyed Him will be gathered into heaven, but the rest will be cast into hell with Satan and his angels. I hope you learn from this lesson how important is that we continue to remain faithful to God because we never know when the judgement day will come or when we will die. I hope in the end, that all you will be that wheat that is gathered into the barn.