Then said he, To what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like?—See Notes on Matthew 13:31-33. The first impression with most readers, in the absence of any apparent trace of sequence, is that we have an isolated fragment of our Lord’s teaching, torn from the context in which we find it in St. Matthew. On the other hand, we must remember (1) that our Lord was in the synagogue, and it was on the Sabbath day, and that so both time and place called for teaching of some kind; and (2) that the parables that follow may well be regarded but as samples of the teaching which those who were in the synagogue had treasured up in their memories. They were fit and edifying parables at any time; not least so, assuredly, at this. When proof had been given that the Kingdom of God had indeed come nigh unto men, it was well to set before them something as to its nature, its extent, its mode of working inwardly and outwardly; and the fact that the similitudes which did this had been used before, did not necessarily make them inapplicable or unprofitable when used again.Luke 13:18-21. Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? — After the Lord had thus silenced the ruler of the synagogue, and while he observed the rejoicings of the people, he reflected with pleasure on the reason and truth which so effectually supported his kingdom. For he delivered a second time the parables of the grain of mustard-seed, and of the leaven, to show the efficacious operation of the gospel upon the minds of men, and its speedy propagation through the world in spite of all opposition. See notes on Matthew 13:31-33.Matthew 13:31-32.
18-21. mustard seed … leaven—(See on Mr 4:30-32). The parable of "the Leaven" sets forth, perhaps, rather the inward growth of the kingdom, while "the Mustard Seed" seems to point chiefly to the outward. It being a woman's work to knead, it seems a refinement to say that "the woman" here represents the Church, as the instrument of depositing the leaven. Nor does it yield much satisfaction to understand the "three measures of meal" of that threefold division of our nature into "spirit, soul, and body," (alluded to in 1Th 5:23) or of the threefold partition of the world among the three sons of Noah (Ge 10:32), as some do. It yields more real satisfaction to see in this brief parable just the all-penetrating and assimilating quality of the Gospel, by virtue of which it will yet mould all institutions and tribes of men, and exhibit over the whole earth one "Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ." (See on Re 11:15).See Poole on "Matthew 13:31", and following verses to Matthew 13:33. They are two parables by which Christ foretells the great success of the gospel, notwithstanding the present small appearance of the efficacy of it. Matthew 13:31 and so the Ethiopic version reads it here, "and whereunto shall I resemble it?" of this way of speaking; see Gill on Mark 4:30. Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 13:18-20. Comp. on Matthew 13:31-33; Mark 4:31 f.
ἔλεγε οὖν] does not introduce the parables which follow in an indefinite and random manner (Strauss, I. p. 626; comp. de Wette and Holtzmann), which is erroneously inferred from Luke 13:17 regarded as a closing remark, and denies to Luke even the commonest skill in the management of his materials; but after the conclusion of the preceding incident (Luke 13:17) Jesus, in consequence (οὖν, see the critical remarks) of the joy manifested by the people, sees Himself justified in conceiving the fairest hopes on behalf of the Messianic kingdom, and these He gives utterance to in these parables. This is how we find it in Luke; and his mode of connecting them with the context is so consistent with the facts, that from this quarter there is no opposition to our assuming as original in this place what, if not an exact repetition of the two parables already spoken at Matthew 13 and Mark 4, was at least an express reference to them. Even in the source of his narrative of the journey from which Luke draws from Luke 9:51 onwards, they might have been connected with the foregoing section, Luke 13:10-17.
Luke 13:19. εἰς κῆπον ἑαυτοῦ] into a garden belonging to himself, where it was protected, where he could observe and foster it, etc.
Luke 13:20. πάλιν] once more; for the question of Luke 13:18 is repeated.Luke 13:18-21. The parables of the mustard seed and the leaven (Matthew 13:31-33, Mark 4:30-32). Lk. may have introduced these parables here either because the joy of the people was in his view the occasion of their being spoken, Jesus taking it as a good omen for the future, or because he found in his source the two things, the cure and the parabolic speech, recorded together as incidents of the same meeting in the synagogue. In either case it is implied that the parables were spoken in a synagogue, in the latter case as a part of a regular synagogue address. This is the interesting feature in Lk.’s report of these parables. It is the only instance in which parables are connected with synagogue addresses as their occasion. The connection is every way credible, both from the nature of the two parables, and from the fact that Jesus was wont to speak to the people in parables. How many unrecorded parables He must have spoken in His synagogue addresses on His preaching tour through Galilee, e.g. (Mark 1:39).18-21. The Mustard Seed and the Leaven.
18. Unto what is the kingdom of God like?] For this solemn introduction see Isaiah 40:18.Luke 13:18. Τίνι, to what) Comp. ch. Luke 7:31. [The Saviour had put forth the same similes, as to the grain of mustard and the leaven, at about the interval of a year before this, as recorded in Matthew, ch. Luke 13:31; Luke 13:33, and also in Mark, ch. Luke 4:31.—Harm., p. 404.]—ἡ βασιλεία, the kingdom) Many were about to enter it of the Jews and Gentiles: comp. Luke 13:17; Luke 13:29.Verses 18-21. - The Lord, is two little prophetic parables tells the people how strangely and mightily his religion would spread over the earth. Verse 18. - Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? In the seventeenth verse - after the Lord's words spoken to his enemies, who took exception at his miracle of healing worked for the poor woman who had been bent for eighteen years, because he had done it on the sabbath day - we read how "all his adversaries were ashamed; and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him." This discomfiture of the hypocrites, and the honest joy of the simple folk over a noble and Divine deed of mercy, accompanied by brave, kind words, seem to have suggested to the Master the subject of the two little parables of the mustard seed and the leaven, in which parables the growth of his glorious kingdom was foreshadowed from very small beginnings. The very small beginning he could discern in what then surrounded him.
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