Matthew 13:32
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
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."

New Living Translation
It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches."

English Standard Version
It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

Berean Study Bible
Although it is the smallest of all seeds, yet it grows into the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."

Berean Literal Bible
which indeed is smallest of all the seeds; but when it is grown, it is greater than the garden plants, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and encamp in its branches."

New American Standard Bible
and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES."

King James Bible
Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
It's the smallest of all the seeds, but when grown, it's taller than the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches."

International Standard Version
Although it is the smallest of all seeds, when it is fully grown it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, and the birds in the sky come and nest in its branches."

NET Bible
It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest garden plant and becomes a tree, so that the wild birds come and nest in its branches."

New Heart English Bible
which indeed is smaller than all seeds. But when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches."

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And this is the smallest of all seeds, but whenever it has grown, it is greatest of all small herbs and it becomes a tree so that a bird of the sky may come settle in its branches.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
It's one of the smallest seeds. However, when it has grown, it is taller than the garden plants. It becomes a tree that is large enough for birds to nest in its branches."

New American Standard 1977
and this is smaller than all other seeds; but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants, and becomes a tree, so that THE BIRDS OF THE AIR come and NEST IN ITS BRANCHES.”

Jubilee Bible 2000
which indeed is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the heaven come and make their nests in its branches.

King James 2000 Bible
Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

American King James Version
Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

American Standard Version
which indeed is less than all seeds; but when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the heaven come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Which is the least indeed of all seeds; but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come, and dwell in the branches thereof.

Darby Bible Translation
which is less indeed than all seeds, but when it is grown is greater than herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of heaven come and roost in its branches.

English Revised Version
which indeed is less than all seeds; but when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the heaven come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Webster's Bible Translation
Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge on its branches.

Weymouth New Testament
It is the smallest of all seeds, and yet when full-grown it is larger than any herb and forms a tree, so that the birds come and build in its branches."

World English Bible
which indeed is smaller than all seeds. But when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches."

Young's Literal Translation
which less, indeed, is than all the seeds, but when it may be grown, is greatest of the herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the heaven do come and rest in its branches.'
Study Bible
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
31Jesus put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man planted in his field. 32Although it is the smallest of all seeds, yet it grows into the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” 33He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into three measures of flour, until all of it was leavened.”…
Cross References
Psalm 104:12
Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; They lift up their voices among the branches.

Ezekiel 17:23
"On the high mountain of Israel I will plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches.

Ezekiel 31:6
'All the birds of the heavens nested in its boughs, And under its branches all the beasts of the field gave birth, And all great nations lived under its shade.

Daniel 4:12
Its foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, And the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches, And all living creatures fed themselves from it.

Mark 4:30
Then He asked, "To what can we compare the kingdom of God? With what parable shall we present it?

Mark 4:32
But after it is planted, it grows to be larger than all garden plants and puts forth great branches, so that the birds of the air nest in its shade."

Luke 13:18
Then Jesus asked, "What is the kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it?
Treasury of Scripture

Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

the least.

Psalm 72:16-19 There shall be an handful of corn in the earth on the top of the …

Isaiah 2:2-4 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of …

Ezekiel 47:1-5 Afterward he brought me again to the door of the house; and, behold, …

Daniel 2:34,35,44,45 You saw till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote …

Micah 4:1-3 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of …

Zechariah 4:10 For who has despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice…

Zechariah 8:20-23 Thus said the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there …

Zechariah 14:7-10 But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, …

Acts 1:15 And in those days Peter stood up in the middle of the disciples, and said…

Acts 21:20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said to him, …

Romans 15:18,19 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ …

Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying…

so that.

Ezekiel 17:23,24 In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall …

Ezekiel 31:6 All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under …

Daniel 4:12 The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in …

(32) The least of all seeds.--The description is, of course, popular, and need not be pressed with micro scopical exactness.

The greatest among herbs.--More literally, greater than the herbs--i.e., belonging to a higher order of vegetation.

Verse 32. - Which indeed is the least of (is less than, Revised Version) all seeds; i.e. all those ordinarily sown in Palestine then. Instances of the proverbial use in the Talmuds of the size of a grain of mustard to express something very small, may be seen in Levy, s.v. חרדל. But when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs; it is greater than the herbs (Revised Version); i.e. than those which are usually called λάχανα. And becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air. There is not necessarily any connotation of evil about these (cf. vers. 4, 19); the thought is simply that those who are naturally outsiders are glad to come under cover of this tree. Compare, for both thought and language, Daniel's description of the empire of Babylon (Daniel 4:12, 21), and Ezekiel's prophecy of the kingdom of Judah (Ezekiel 17:23). Come and lodge in the branches thereof. Lodge (κατασκηνοῖν); Matthew 8:20, note. In Palestine the goldfinches and linnets settle on the mustard in flocks (Tristram, 'Nat. Hist. of Bible,' p. 473, edit. 1889). Which indeed is the least of all seeds,.... So mustard with the Jews (u), is called , "a kind of seeds"; and being very small, hence "as a grain of mustard", is often used, proverbially (w), for the least thing, as it is by Christ,

Matthew 17:20. Not but there are seeds lesser than this; but the meaning is, that this is one of the least of all seeds; or was the least of seeds, which were commonly known in Judea; or the very least which grew to the size this sometimes did, and as here related. Now this is designed to express the small beginnings of the Gospel dispensation, of the ministry of the word, of the grace of God in the hearts of his people, and of the small number of them at first. The Gospel, and the ministry of it were like a grain of mustard seed, little, mean, and contemptible; the author of it, Christ, was so to the Jews, in his birth, parentage, education, and outward appearance; the subject of it a crucified Christ, and salvation by him; and the doctrines out of the reach, and contrary to carnal reason; the preachers of it, were persons of very mean and low life, few in number, weak, illiterate, and despicable, and the whole world against them; the circumstances which attended the Gospel were very discouraging; it was charged with novelty, represented as contrary to common sense, and the reason of mankind, and as opening a door to licentiousness; and was followed with violent opposition and persecution, wherever it went. The grace of God, which under the ministry of the word is implanted in the hearts of the Lord's people, is at first very small, like a grain of mustard seed; it is a day of small things; faith in Christ is very weak and low, spiritual strength small, comfort little, experience of the love of God not large, light and knowledge in the doctrines of grace but very obscure and glimmering: the church of God, which sprung up under the ministry of the word, and through the work of grace, upon the hearts of particular persons, was like the small grain of mustard seed; the persons of which it consisted were but few in number in Christ's time, and at his ascension into heaven, and when the Gospel was first preached among the Gentiles; and those persons which laid the foundation, and were at the beginning of the Gospel church state, made a very contemptible figure, by reason of their outward poverty, and mean circumstances in the world; and on account of the severe persecutions which every where attended them; and also through the errors and heresies introduced by evil men, that crept in among them,

But when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree. Luke says, "a great tree", Luke 13:19 for to such a size did the mustard tree grow in the land of Judea, of which take the following instances (x),

"At Shichin there was a mustard stalk, which had three branches, and one of them was cut down, and they covered a potter's booth with it; and found in it , "three kabs of mustard seed" (elsewhere (y) it is said, nine kabs). Says R. Simeon ben Chelphetha, I have one stalk of mustard seed in my field, and I go up to it, .

"as one goes up to the top of a fig tree".

And though the mustard tree grew to this height and size, it was reckoned among herbs, as here by Christ; for they say (z),

"they do not put mustard in a field of fruits, but in a field of herbs.

All which serve to illustrate and confirm the account here given by Christ, and alluded to; and which expresses the very large growth and increase of the Gospel, and the ministry of it; of the grace of God in the heart, and of the church of Christ, and his interest in the world: of the Gospel, and the ministry of it, as to its large spread in the world; which at first was confined to the Jews, but was afterwards published to the Gentiles, and carried through the whole world; and, in ages since, has made a considerable progress, particularly at the Reformation; and will make a much greater one, towards the end of time: and of the grace of God in the heart, which gradually increases to a full assurance of understanding of hope, and of faith, and to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: and of the church of Christ, and his interest in the world; both as to the large numbers it did consist of in the times of the apostles, and since, and will more especially hereafter; for the church will fill the earth, and the kingdoms of the world will become the church, and all nations of the earth will flock unto it; the people of the Jews in general will be converted, and the fulness of the Gentiles will be brought in: as also with respect to the figure it will make through the great personages, the kings and princes of the earth, that will be in it; the great power and authority the saints will then have; the peace and prosperity that will be enjoyed by them; the spirituality, holiness, righteousness, love, and unity, there will be among them; as also the presence of God and of the Lamb, they will be favoured with; all which glory and happiness will be brought about by a plentiful effusion of the Spirit, and by the glorious appearance of Christ,

So that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof: by "the birds of the air", some think angels are meant, compared to "birds" for their harmlessness and innocence; for their readiness and swiftness to do the will of God; and for their warbling notes and tuneful songs of praise; and who may be called birds "of the air", or heaven, because of their habitation: now these delight to be in the church, to be under the shadow of the Gospel ministry, and to look into the mysteries of it. Though rather, the saints and people of God are intended, who, in Scripture, are sometimes compared to particular birds; as to the eagle, the dove, and sparrow; and to birds in general, because timorous, weak, and defenceless, are exposed to danger, and wonderfully delivered, and are very subject to wander and go astray; and because of their chirpings, and singing songs of praise to their God and Redeemer; and to birds of the air or heaven, because they are heaven born souls, are partakers of the heavenly calling, and are pressing for, and soaring aloft towards the high calling of God in Christ: now the Gospel ministry, and the Gospel church state, are very useful to these; they "come" thereunto willingly, and cheerfully, deliberately, and with dependence on the grace and strength of Christ; humbly, under a sense of their own unworthiness, and yet with joy and thankfulness; heartily, and with their faces thitherwards, and they also "lodge" therein. This is what they desire, and their hearts are set upon; here they determine to be, and it is their happiness to be here; the shadow of Gospel ordinances is very delightful, very refreshing, and very fruitful to them, and under which saints dwell with great safety; and what a coming of these birds will there be hither, and a tabernacling of them herein, at the latter day! which are greatly designed in this part of the parable,

(u) Misn. Kilaim, c. 3. sect. 2.((w) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 31. 1. Megilla, fol. 23. 2. Nidda, fol. 66. 1.((x) T. Hieros. Peah, fol. 20. 2.((y) T. Bab, Cetubot, fol. 111. 2.((z) Misn. Kilaim, c. 2. sect. 8. 32. Which indeed is the least of all seeds—not absolutely, but popularly and proverbially, as in Lu 17:6, "If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed," that is, "never so little faith."

but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs—not absolutely, but in relation to the small size of the seed, and in warm latitudes proverbially great.

and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof—This is added, no doubt, to express the amplitude of the tree. But as this seed has a hot, fiery vigor, gives out its best virtues when bruised, and is grateful to the taste of birds, which are accordingly attracted to its branches both for shelter and food, is it straining the parable, asks Trench, to suppose that, besides the wonderful growth of His kingdom, our Lord selected this seed to illustrate further the shelter, repose and blessedness it is destined to afford to the nations of the world?

The Leaven (Mt 13:33).13:31-35 The scope of the parable of the seed sown, is to show that the beginnings of the gospel would be small, but its latter end would greatly increase; in this way the work of grace in the heart, the kingdom of God within us, would be carried on. In the soul where grace truly is, it will grow really; though perhaps at first not to be discerned, it will at last come to great strength and usefulness. The preaching of the gospel works like leaven in the hearts of those who receive it. The leaven works certainly, so does the word, yet gradually. It works silently, and without being seen, Mr 4:26-29, yet strongly; without noise, for so is the way of the Spirit, but without fail. Thus it was in the world. The apostles, by preaching the gospel, hid a handful of leaven in the great mass of mankind. It was made powerful by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts, who works, and none can hinder. Thus it is in the heart. When the gospel comes into the soul, it works a thorough change; it spreads itself into all the powers and faculties of the soul, and alters the property even of the members of the body, Ro 6:13. From these parables we are taught to expect a gradual progress; therefore let us inquire, Are we growing in grace? and in holy principles and habits?
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