It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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 "Luke 13:20"
which a woman took; Christ, and his ministers, Wisdom, and her maidens, understanding it of the Gospel; but if the leaven of error is intended, that woman, Jezebel, is meant, who calls herself a prophetess, and teaches, and seduces the servants of God, Revelation 2:20
and hid in three measures of meal: among a few of God's people at first, both among Jews and Gentiles,
till the whole was leavened; until all the elect of God are gathered in, and evangelized by it; even the whole fulness of the Gentiles, and all the people of the Jews, which shall be saved in the latter day; but if the parable is to be understood of the false doctrine and discipline of the Antichristian and apostate church of Rome, it may denote the small beginnings of the mystery of iniquity, which began to work in the apostle's time by the errors and heresies then propagated, and the manner in which the man of sin was privately introduced; whose coming is after the working of Satan, with signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, first among a few, and then more, until at length the whole world wondered after the beast, 2 Thessalonians 2:7.It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 13:21. Introduction of a new act in the progress of the journey (Luke 9:57, Luke 10:38, Luke 17:11). The mention of the journey holds the historical thread.
καὶ πορ. ποιούμ.] teaching, and at the same time, etc.21. It is like leaven] Except in this parable, leaven in Scripture (being connected with corruption and fermentation) is used as the type of sin. See Luke 12:1; Exodus 12:1; Exodus 12:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; Galatians 5:9. Here, however, the only point considered is its rapid, and unseen, and effectual working.
in three measures of meal] The verisimilitude, simplicity, and vividness of the parables arise from the natural and specific details introduced into them. To press these into separate lessons only leads to arbitrary exegesis and false theology. Probably the ‘three measures’ are only mentioned because they are the ordinary amount which aLuke 13:21. Ἐνέκρυψεν, hid in) so that the leaven seemed to be quite absorbed by the dough.—ἄλευρον) The words, Ἀλεύρου σάτα τρία, seem to have been introduced into the text here from Matthew: I have, as I think, demonstrated clearly enough in my Apparatus Crit. that the very ancient Italic Version had ἄλευρον. And the steady testimony of Ambrose to the same is exhibited, not merely in his commentary on this passage, but also in his Fifth Discourse.Verse 21. - It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. The first of these two little parables of the kingdom, "the mustard seed," portrayed its strangely rapid growth. The second, "the leaven," treats of the mighty inward transformation which the kingdom of God will effect in the hearts of men and women. Chemically speaking, leaven is a lump of sour dough in which putrefaction has begun, and, on being introduced into a far greater mass of fresh dough, produces by contagion a similar condition into the greater bulk with which it comes in contact. The result of the contact, however, is that the mass of dough, acted upon by the little lump of leaven, becomes a wholesome, agreeable food for men. It was a singularly striking and powerful simile, this little commonplace comparison, and exactly imaged the future progress of "the kingdom." Quietly, silently, the doctrine of the Master made its way into the hearts and homes of men. "He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets" (Matthew 12:19). None on earth would have dared hint at the future success of the doctrine of the Master during the Master's life, and his death seemed as though it would effectually crush out the last feeble spark of life. The apparent result of his work was the devotion of a few simple hearts, mostly of fishermen, artisans, and the like, and yet, though men suspected it not, the secret and powerful influence was already at work among men. The story of the years succeeding the cross and the Resurrection, on a broader stage and with more actors, was a story of similar silent, quiet working. In a century and a half after the strange leaven-parable had been spoken, the whole civilized world knew something of the Master's history and doctrine. His disciples then were counted by tens of thousands. No city, scarcely a village, but contained some into whose hearts the teaching had sunk, whose lives the teaching had changed. In three measures of meal. Perhaps referring here to the well-known division of man into body, soul, and spirit. More likely, however, the number 3 is used as the symbol of completeness, signifying that the Divine purpose was then influencing the whole mass of mankind. Till the whole was leavened. It would seem as though the Master looked on to a definite time when all nations should come and worship him, and acknowledge his glorious sovereignty. If this be the case, then a very long period still remains to be lived through by the world; many kingdoms must rise and fall, new civilizations spring up, before that day of joy and gladness dawns upon the globe - that is, reasoning on the analogy of the past. Be this, however, as it may, the drift of both these parables of the kingdom distinctly points to a slow yet a progressive development of true religion. Very different, indeed, was the Jewish conception of Messiah's kingdom. They expected a rapid and brilliant metamorphosis of the then unhappy state of things. They never dreamed of the slow and quiet movement Messiah's coming was to inaugurate. One thing is perfectly clear - the Speaker of these two parable-stories never contemplated a speedy return to earth. With strange exactness the last eighteen hundred and fifty years have been fulfilling the conditions of the two similes, and as yet, as far as man can see, they are not nearly complete.
See on Matthew 13:33.
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