Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Because they seeing see not.—As the words stand in St. Matthew, they might mean that our Lord adopted the method of parables as a condescension to their infirmities, feeding them, as babes in knowledge, with milk, and not with meat. In St. Mark and St. Luke the reason given assumes a penal character, “that seeing they might not see;” as though they were not only to be left in their ignorance, but to be plunged deeper in it. And this, it is obvious, is even here the true meaning, for only thus does this clause answer to the conclusion of the proverb of Matthew 13:12, “From him shall be taken away even that which he hath.” In one aspect, then, the parable was a veil hiding the truth from them, because they did not seek the truth, and this was the working of the divine law of retribution. But even here we may venture to trace beneath the penalty an element of mercy. The parable could, at all events, do men no harm. It could not rouse the fierce enmity that had been kindled by truth spoken in its plainness. And it might prepare the way, might set men thinking and questioning, and if so, that was at least one step towards the “having,” though it were but a very little, which might place them among those to whom more shall be given.Matthew 13:13-15. Therefore speak I to them in parables, because they seeing, see not — In pursuance of this general rule, I do not give more knowledge to this people, because they use not that which they have already: having all the means of seeing, hearing, and understanding, they use none of them; they do not effectually see, or hear, or understand any thing. For instance, seeing my miracles, which are incontestable proofs of my divine mission, they are not convinced thereby that I am their long-expected Messiah: and hearing my discourses, they are not instructed by what they hear in the design of my coming, and the nature of my kingdom. Neither do they understand — My doctrine. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias — Which indeed was principally intended of the men of this generation. See note on Isaiah 6:9-10. Which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand — Or rather, as the words are more properly rendered, ye will hear, but in nowise understand; that is, ye will surely hear; opportunities of hearing, all possible means of instruction, will be given you; yet they will profit you nothing. For this people’s heart is waxed gross — Επαχυνθη, is waxed fat, is sensual, stupid, and insensible. And their ears are dull of hearing — Βαρεως ηκουσαν, they hear heavily, or with heavy ears, like persons half asleep. And their eyes they have closed — Namely, against the light. Observe, they themselves have done it, not God. In other words, They have benumbed or shut up all their spiritual senses, lest at any time they should see with their eyes — That light of divine knowledge which would put them to pain; and should hear with their ears — Those sacred truths which would convince them of sin; and should understand with their heart — Their real condition of guilt and depravity; and should be converted — Effectually turned to God in true repentance, living faith, and new obedience; and I should heal them — Of their spiritual diseases. They are unwilling to understand the things of God, and afraid, not desirous, that he should heal their souls, and save them from their sins.
Matthew simply states the "fact," that though they saw the "natural" meaning of the story - though they literally understood the parable - yet they did not understand its "spiritual" signification. Mark and Luke do not state the "fact," but affirm that he spoke with this "intention" - implying that such "was" the result. Nor was there any dishonesty in this, or any unfair disguise. He had truths to state which he wished his "disciples particularly" to understand. They were of great importance to their ministry. Had he clearly and fully stated them to the Jews, they would have taken his life long before they did. He therefore chose to state the doctrines so that if their hearts had been right, and if they had not been malignant and blind, "they might have understood them." His doctrines he stated in the best possible way, and it was not his fault if they did not understand him. By little and little, in this way, he prepared many even of the Jews to receive the truth; by the only possible way of ever gaining access to their minds. It was, moreover, entirely proper and right to impart instruction to his disciples which he did not "intend" for others.
because they seeing, see not—They "saw," for the light shone on them as never light shone before; but they "saw not," for they closed their eyes.
and hearing, they hear not; neither do they understand—They "heard," for He taught them who "spake as never man spake"; but they "heard not," for they took nothing in, apprehending not the soul-penetrating, life-giving words addressed to them. In Mark and Luke (Mr 4:12; Lu 8:10), what is here expressed as a human fact is represented as the fulfilment of a divine purpose—"that seeing they may see, and not perceive," &c. The explanation of this lies in the statement of the foregoing verse—that, by a fixed law of the divine administration, the duty men voluntarily refuse to do, and in point of fact do not do, they at length become morally incapable of doing.
and because they seeing, see not: they saw Christ with their bodily eyes, but not with an eye of faith; they saw the miracles he did, but did not discern, at least did not acknowledge the evidence of them, proving him to be the true Messiah.
And hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand: they heard externally, but not internally; they heard the sound of Christ's voice, but did not understand his words, even when he spake in the plainest and most intelligible manner; nor were they concerned to know the meaning of them: wherefore he spoke to them in this abstruse and parabolical way, that they might be what they really were, seers and not seers, hearers and not hearers, at least not understanding ones; and that what he said might remain sealed and hidden to them, as the things contained in the sealed book were to the Jews of old; the reason of which was, as a writer of their's (k) says, and which agrees with our Lord's reason and conduct here, , "because they were in parable and riddle".
(k) Abarbinel in Isaiah 29. 11.Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 13:13. Διὰ τοῦτο] refers to what immediately precedes; because their case is similar to that of the poor, and so they would lose the little that they had; but the ὅτι (because, namely) which follows introduces an explanation by way of justifying διὰ τοῦτο (comp. John 10:17), and which depicts in proverbial language (Isaiah 32:3; Isaiah 35:5 f., 9 f.; Jeremiah 5:21) the people’s dulness of apprehension. It is unnecessary to make the reference of διὰ τοῦτο extend so far back as Matthew 13:11 (Fritzsche, de Wette, Bleek). In defiance of grammar, yet in deference to the parallels in Mark and Luke, Olshausen says that ὅτι, because, expresses the result intended (ἵνα); similarly Schegg; comp. also Weizsäcker, p. 413.Matthew 13:13. διὰ τοῦτο ὅτι. Mark and Luke have ἵνα, the former assigning a reason, the latter ascribing a purpose. In Matt. Jesus says: I speak in parables because seeing they do not see, etc.; which ought naturally to mean: they are dull of apprehension, therefore I do my best to enlighten them.Matthew 13:13. Ὄτι, κ.τ.λ., because, etc.) Our Lord, therefore, did not speak to the people in parables without a cause. And nevertheless He had often before spoken to them without parables, out of compassion (see ch. Matthew 9:36, and Mark 6:34), and they had not profited [by His teaching].—οὐδὲ συνιοῦσι) neither do they understand.Verse 13. - Therefore (διὰ τοῦτο). To carry out the principle of the whole preceding verse, but with special reference to the second half of it. Because, in this case, they "have not," therefore I speak to them thus. Speak I to them in parables because. In the parallel passages Christ says that he speaks in parables "in order that seeing," etc.; but here, "because seeing," etc. The difference of the thought, which is more formal than real, is that
(1) in the parallel passages their moral blindness and deafness are represented as the effect of what he says, parables being used to bring about the punishment for what was presumably earlier sloth (thus laying stress on the idea of "shall be taken away "in our ver. 12; cf. "that they which see not may be made blind," John 9:39; and Bishop Westcott's note).
(2) In Matthew their present moral blindness and deafness are represented as the reason for the use of parables. Parables are themselves the punishment; the people are fit for nothing else (thus laying stress on the "has not" of ver. 12); therefore Christ speaks to them in parables. They seeing see not (seeing they see not, Revised Version, keeping the order of the Greek, as even the Authorized Version in the next clause); and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. The participles "seeing," "hearing," in Matthew and Luke, probably do not represent the Hebrew infinitive in its common usage of giving intensity or continuance to the idea of the finite verb to which it is joined (so in the original passage of Isaiah, and perhaps in Mark; compare also "seeing" in the next verse), but are to be taken separately, i.e." Though they have powers of seeing and of hearing, they nevertheless do not so use these powers as to see and hear" (for the thought, cf. Jeremiah 5:21; Ezekiel 12:2). Thus in meaning, though not in form, as compared with the next verse, seeing is equivalent to "seeing ye shall see;" they see not, to "and shall in no wise perceive;" hearing, to "hearing ye shall hear;" they hear not, to "and shall in no wise understand."
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