Matthew 13:3
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed.

New Living Translation
He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: "Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds.

English Standard Version
And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.

Berean Study Bible
And He told them many things in parables, saying, "A farmer went out to sow his seed.

Berean Literal Bible
And He spoke to them many things in parables, saying, "Behold, the one sowing went out to sow.

New American Standard Bible
And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, "Behold, the sower went out to sow;

King James Bible
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Then He told them many things in parables, saying: "Consider the sower who went out to sow.

International Standard Version
Then he began to tell them many things in parables. He said, "Listen! A farmer went out to sow.

NET Bible
He told them many things in parables, saying: "Listen! A sower went out to sow.

New Heart English Bible
And he spoke to them many things in parables, saying, "Look, a farmer went out to sow.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And he was speaking much with them in parables and he said, “Behold, a sower went out to sow.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Then he used stories as illustrations to tell them many things. He said, "Listen! A farmer went to plant seed.

New American Standard 1977
And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow;

Jubilee Bible 2000
And he spoke many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, the sower went forth to sow;

King James 2000 Bible
And he spoke many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

American King James Version
And he spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

American Standard Version
And he spake to them many things in parables, saying, Behold, the sower went forth to sow;

Douay-Rheims Bible
And he spoke to them many things in parables, saying: Behold the sower went forth to sow.

Darby Bible Translation
And he spoke to them many things in parables, saying, Behold, the sower went out to sow:

English Revised Version
And he spake to them many things in parables, saying, Behold, the sower went forth to sow;

Webster's Bible Translation
And he spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

Weymouth New Testament
He then spoke many things to them in figurative language. "The sower goes out," He said, "to sow.

World English Bible
He spoke to them many things in parables, saying, "Behold, a farmer went out to sow.

Young's Literal Translation
and he spake to them many things in similes, saying: 'Lo, the sower went forth to sow,
Study Bible
The Parable of the Sower
2Such large crowds gathered around Him that He got into a boat and sat down, while all the people stood on the shore. 3And He told them many things in parables, saying, “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.…
Cross References
Matthew 13:4
As he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.

Matthew 13:10
Then the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Why do You speak to the people in parables?"

Mark 3:23
So Jesus called them together and began to speak to them in parables: "How can Satan drive out Satan?

Mark 4:2
and He taught them many things in parables. And in His teaching He said,

Mark 12:1
Then Jesus began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a wine vat, and built a watchtower. Then he rented it out to some tenants and went away on a journey.
Treasury of Scripture

And he spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

in.

Matthew 13:10-13,34,35,53 And the disciples came, and said to him, Why speak you to them in parables…

Matthew 22:1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables, and said,

Matthew 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, …

Judges 9:8-20 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they …

2 Samuel 12:1-7 And the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to …

Psalm 49:4 I will incline my ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying on the harp.

Psalm 78:2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:

Isaiah 5:1-7 Now will I sing to my well beloved a song of my beloved touching …

Ezekiel 17:2 Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable to the house of Israel;

Ezekiel 20:49 Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Does he not speak parables?

Ezekiel 24:3 And utter a parable to the rebellious house, and say to them, Thus …

Micah 2:4 In that day shall one take up a parable against you, and lament with …

Habakkuk 2:6 Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting …

Mark 3:23 And he called them to him, and said to them in parables, How can …

Mark 4:2,13,33 And he taught them many things by parables, and said to them in his doctrine…

Mark 12:1,12 And he began to speak to them by parables. A certain man planted …

Luke 8:10 And he said, To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom …

Luke 12:41 Then Peter said to him, Lord, speak you this parable to us, or even to all?

Luke 15:3 And he spoke this parable to them, saying,

John 16:25 These things have I spoken to you in proverbs: but the time comes, …

parables. A parable, [parabole,] from [para,] near, and [ballo,] I cast, or put, has been justly defined to be a comparison or similitude, in which one thing is compared with another, especially spiritual things with natural, by which means those spiritual things are better understood, and make a deeper impression on a honest and attentive mind. In a parable, a resemblance in the principal incidents is all that is required; smaller matters being considered as a sort of drapery. Maimonides, in Moreh Nevochim, gives an excellent rule on this head: 'Fix it as a principle to attach yourself to the grand object of the parable, without attempting to make a particular application of all the circumstances and terms which it comprehends.'

a sower.

Mark 4:2-9 And he taught them many things by parables, and said to them in his doctrine…

Luke 8:5-8 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the …

(3) He spake many things unto them in parables.--This is the first occurrence of the word in St. Matthew's Gospel, and it is clear from the question of the disciples in Matthew 13:10 that it was in some sense a new form of teaching to them. There had been illustrations and similitudes before, as in that of the houses built on the sand and on the rock in Matthew 7:24-27, and that of the unclean spirit in Matthew 12:43-45, but now for the first time He speaks to the multitude in a parable, without an explanation. The word, which has passed through its use in the Gospels into most modern European languages (palabras, parle, parabel), means literally, a comparison. It had been employed by the Greek translators of the Old Testament for the Hebrew word mashed, which we commonly render by "proverb," and which, like the Greek parabole, has the sense of similitude. Of many, perhaps of most, Eastern proverbs it was true that they were condensed parables, just as many parables are expanded proverbs. (Comp. John 16:25; John 16:29.) In the later and New Testament use of the word, however, the parable takes the fuller form of a narrative embracing facts natural and probable in themselves, and in this respect differs from the fable which (as in those of sop and Phdrus, or that of the trees choosing a king in Judges 9:8-15) does not keep within the limits even of possibility. The mode of teaching by parables was familiar enough in the schools of the Rabbis, and the Talmud contains many of great beauty and interest. As used by them, however, they were regarded as belonging to those who were receiving a higher education, and the son of Sirach was expressing the current feeling of the schools when he said of the tillers of the soil and the herdsmen of flocks that they "were not found where parables were spoken" (Ecclesiasticus 38:33). With what purpose our Lord now used this mode of instruction will appear in His answer to the question of the disciples. The prominence given in the first three Gospels to the parable that follows, shows how deep an impression it made on the minds of men, and so far justified the choice of this method of teaching by the divine Master.

(3) A sower.--Literally, the sower--the man whose form and work were so familiar, in the seed-time of the year, to the peasants of Galilee. The outward frame-work of the parable requires us to remember the features in which Eastern tillage differs from our own. The ground less perfectly cleared--the road passing across the field--the rock often cropping out, or lying under an inch or two of soil--the patch of good ground rewarding, by what might be called a lucky chance rather than skill of husbandry, the labour of the husbandman.

Verse 3. - And he spake many things. Of which but a few are here recorded (cf. vers. 34, 51). Unto them in parables. Taking the expression in the widest sense, "speaking in parables" began in the very earliest ages, when natural or spiritual truths were described under figures taken from everyday life, and continues until the present time, more especially among Eastern nations. Interesting examples of such a method of instruction are to be seen in the Haggadoth (which are frequently parabolic narratives) of the Talmuds and other Jewish works. But both myth (cf. Alford) and parabolic Haggada share the common danger of being misunderstood as narratives which are intended to be taken literally, while in the parable, in the narrower sense of the word, such a confusion is hardly possible. For the narrative then suggests, either by its introduction or its structure, that it is only the mirror by which a truth can be seen, and is not the truth itself. Such parables also, though seldom even approaching in beauty to our Lord's, are very frequent in Jewish writings, though they come but seldom in the Old Testament (Isaiah 28:23-29; 2 Samuel 12:1-6; 2 Samuel 14:6-11; 1 Kings 20:35-40; comp. also Isaiah 5:1-7 and Ezekiel 17:1-10, which are rather allegories; and Judges 9:7-15 and 2 Kings 14:9, which are fables). (On the distinction of parable in the narrower sense from fable, myth, proverb, allegory, see Alford and Trench.) Weiss ('Life,' 2:115) thinks that the most profound reason of all which the Lord had for employing parables was that he wished to show that the same regulations which hold good for the world round us and ourselves in relation to the world and each other, hold good also in the higher ethical and religious life. But at the most this can have been a very subsidiary motive with him. Saying, Behold, a sower. Observe that our Lord enters upon his parable at once (contrast ver. 24). He will attract attention. Mark's "Hear ye" would have forwarded this. A sower; literally, the sower, as the Revised Version; i.e. the sower of whom I am about to speak (cf. Driver on 1 Samuel 19:13; also Matthew 1:23; Matthew 12:43). Went forth. In the Greek this verb comes first, as though our Lord wished to call attention, not so much to the sower himself as to his action. To sow. (For the minute adherence to actual life throughout the whole of this parable, see by all means Thomson's 'Land and the Book,' p. 82, edit. 1887; Stanley's 'Sinai and Palestine,' pp. 425, sqq., edit. 1868.) And he spake many things unto them in parables,.... For the parables of the sower, and the different sorts of ground the seed fell in, of the wheat and tares, of the grain of mustard seed, of the leaven in three measures of meal, of the treasure hid in a field, of the pearl of great price, of the net cast into the sea, and of the householder, were all delivered at this time. This way of speaking by parables was much in use among the eastern nations, and particularly the Jews. R. Meir was very famous among them for this way of teaching: they say (a),

"that when R. Meir died, , "they that were skilled in, and used parables, ceased".''

The commentators (b) on this passage say,

"that he preached a third part tradition, and a third part mystical discourse, , "and a third part parables":''

which method of discoursing was judged both pleasant and profitable, and what served to raise the attention of the hearer, and to fix what was delivered the more firmly in their minds: what was our Lord's reason for using them, may be seen in Matthew 13:13. He begins with the parable of the sower. The design of which is to set forth the nature of the word of God, the work and business of the ministers of it, the different success of the preaching of it, and the fruitfulness of it; and to show when it is truly received, and the various degrees of fruit it produces; that the efficacy of it depends on the grace of God, which makes the heart good, and fit to receive it; and how few they be which hear the word to any spiritual advantage and benefit; and how far persons may go in hearing, and yet fall short of the grace of God; and therefore no dependence is to be had on the external hearing of the word.

Behold, a sower went forth to sow; Luke adds, "his seed"; as does also Munster's Hebrew Gospel here; and Mark introduces the parable thus, "hearken, behold!" it being a matter of great importance and concern, which is expressed by this parable, it deserves the most diligent attention. By "the sower" is meant "the son of man", as may be learnt from the explanation of another parable, Matthew 13:37 which is Jesus Christ himself, who is often so called on account of his human nature; and may the rather be thought to be intended here, since the seed he sowed is called "his seed"; meaning the Gospel, of which he is the author, publisher, sum and substance; and since he is, by way of eminency, called , "the sower"; which must be understood of him as a prophet, or preacher of the word, who was eminently sent of God, and richly qualified for such an office, and was most diligent in it, and yet his success was but small. Indeed, every minister of the Gospel may be called a sower, who bears precious seed, sows spiritual things, and though in tears, he shall not return empty, but shall reap in joy, and bring his sheaves with him. This sower "went forth" from his own house to his field; which, as applied to Christ, may intend his incarnation, his coming into this world by the assumption of human nature, his appearance in the public ministry, in the land of Judea, and his going forth still in his ministers, and by his Spirit, in the preaching of the Gospel; and, as applied to the preachers of the word, may be explained of their commission, of their being sent, and of their going forth into the field of the world, preaching the Gospel every where. The end of the sower's going forth is to "sow his seed": by "his seed" is meant the word, the word of God; see Mark 4:14 so called, because of the choiceness and excellency of it in itself, that grain which is reserved for seed being usually the best of the kind; and because of its smallness, it being mean and contemptible in the eyes of those, who know not the nature of it; and because of the generative virtue it has, though not without a divine influence. Nor does it bring forth fruit, unless it is sown in the heart, as seed in the earth; where its operation is secret, its growth and increase gradual, and its fruitfulness different. By "sowing", is meant preaching; which, as sowing, requires knowledge and skill, and an open and liberal hand; keeping back nothing that is profitable, a declaring the same doctrine in one place as another; and designs a constant ministration of it, notwithstanding all discouragements, and a patient waiting for success.

(a) Misn. Sota, c. 9. sect. 15. (b) Jarchi & Bartenora in ib. e Talmud. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 38. 2.3. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, etc.—These parables are SEVEN in number; and it is not a little remarkable that while this is the sacred number, the first FOUR of them were spoken to the mixed multitude, while the remaining THREE were spoken to the Twelve in private—these divisions, four and three, being themselves notable in the symbolical arithmetic of Scripture. Another thing remarkable in the structure of these parables is, that while the first of the Seven—that of the Sower—is of the nature of an Introduction to the whole, the remaining Six consist of three pairs—the Second and Seventh, the Third and Fourth, and the Fifth and Sixth, corresponding to each other; each pair setting forth the same general truths, but with a certain diversity of aspect. All this can hardly be accidental.

First Parable: The Sower (Mt 13:3-9, 18-23).

This parable may be entitled, The Effect of the Word Dependent on the State of the Heart. For the exposition of this parable, see on [1286]Mr 4:1-9, 14-20.

Reason for Teaching in Parables (Mt 13:10-17).13:1-23 Jesus entered into a boat that he might be the less pressed, and be the better heard by the people. By this he teaches us in the outward circumstances of worship not to covet that which is stately, but to make the best of the conveniences God in his providence allots to us. Christ taught in parables. Thereby the things of God were made more plain and easy to those willing to be taught, and at the same time more difficult and obscure to those who were willingly ignorant. The parable of the sower is plain. The seed sown is the word of God. The sower is our Lord Jesus Christ, by himself, or by his ministers. Preaching to a multitude is sowing the corn; we know not where it will light. Some sort of ground, though we take ever so much pains with it, brings forth no fruit to purpose, while the good soil brings forth plentifully. So it is with the hearts of men, whose different characters are here described by four sorts of ground. Careless, trifling hearers, are an easy prey to Satan; who, as he is the great murderer of souls, so he is the great thief of sermons, and will be sure to rob us of the word, if we take not care to keep it. Hypocrites, like the stony ground, often get the start of true Christians in the shows of profession. Many are glad to hear a good sermon, who do not profit by it. They are told of free salvation, of the believer's privileges, and the happiness of heaven; and, without any change of heart, without any abiding conviction of their own depravity, their need of a Saviour, or the excellence of holiness, they soon profess an unwarranted assurance. But when some heavy trial threatens them, or some sinful advantage may be had, they give up or disguise their profession, or turn to some easier system. Worldly cares are fitly compared to thorns, for they came in with sin, and are a fruit of the curse; they are good in their place to stop a gap, but a man must be well armed that has much to do with them; they are entangling, vexing, scratching, and their end is to be burned, Heb 6:8. Worldly cares are great hinderances to our profiting by the word of God. The deceitfulness of riches does the mischief; they cannot be said to deceive us unless we put our trust in them, then they choke the good seed. What distinguished the good ground was fruitfulness. By this true Christians are distinguished from hypocrites. Christ does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns; but none that could hinder its fruitfulness. All are not alike; we should aim at the highest, to bring forth most fruit. The sense of hearing cannot be better employed than in hearing God's word; and let us look to ourselves that we may know what sort of hearers we are.
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