Matthew 13:22
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
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(22) He also that received seed among the thorns.—See Note on Matthew 13:19. Here there is no over-rapid growth, and there is some depth of earth. The character is not one that wastes its strength in vague emotions, but has the capacity for sustained effort. The evil here is, that while there is strength of purpose, there is not unity of spirit. The man is double-minded, and would fain serve two masters. The “care of this world” (the word is the root of the verb “take no thought” in Matthew 6:25), the deceitfulness of earthly riches—cheating the soul with its counterfeit shows of good—these choke the “word” in its inner life, and it becomes “unfruitful.” There may be some signs of fruitfulness, perhaps the “blade” and the “ear” of partial reformation and strivings after holiness, but there is no “full corn in the ear.” In St. Luke’s words, such men “bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14). To the simpler root-forms of evil in St. Matthew, St. Mark adds “the lusts (or desires) about other things”—i.e., the things that are other than the true life—and St. Luke, “the pleasures of life” to which wealth ministers, and for the sake of which, therefore, men pursue it.

Matthew 13:22. He that received seed among thorns is he that heareth the word — And proceeds further in the way of duty than either of those mentioned in the former instances. In spite of Satan and his agents, the person here intended considers, marks, learns, and inwardly digests what he hears. Yea, he has root in himself. The word sinks into his mind and heart. He is deeply humbled under a sense of his sinfulness and guilt, and brought to experience repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. He is even inwardly changed, so that he does not draw back even when tribulation and persecution ariseth. And yet, even in him, together with the good seed, the thorns, &c., spring up, (perhaps unperceived at first, at least neglected and not rooted up,) till they gradually choke it, destroy all its life and power, and it becometh unfruitful. To thorns among corn our Lord here compares the cares of the world, namely, anxious cares, which most beset the poor, but not them only; for persons in the middling ranks of life, and even the rich, are often no little harassed by them, and greatly obstructed in their Christian progress. By thorns also our Lord intends the deceitfulness of riches; deceitful indeed! for they promise much, but perform little; offer themselves to many, but give themselves to few; and to those few bring care and perplexity, rather than satisfaction and comfort. They promise to abide with us through life, if not to preserve our name in everlasting remembrance: but, alas! frequently take themselves wings and fly away. They engage our dependance, and we lean on them as though they were the staff of life; but quickly find, by sad experience, they are but “a broken reed at best, and oft a spear,” piercing us through with many sorrows. Like Judas, whom they corrupted, “they kiss and betray, they smile and smite into hell. They put out the eyes, harden the heart, steal away all the life of God, fill the soul with pride, anger, and love to the world, and make men enemies to self-denial and the whole cross of Christ.” — Wesley. Luke also mentions the pleasures of life as another weed, choking and rendering unfruitful the good seed. To which pleasures deceitful riches minister, and are a great temptation, putting it into men’s power to gratify their carnal desires and unruly appetites and passions in every excess to which Satan or their own hearts prompt them. But not only are such gross indulgences as these here included in the hurtful pleasures which are represented as choking the good seed, but all the fashionable amusements and gratifications of sense and fancy in which mankind, and especially the young of both sexes, are prone to seek their happiness. There is yet another weed, which too frequently prevents the fruitfulness of the incorruptible seed, and all improvement, if not even perseverance in true piety, and that is, desires after other things, mentioned in the parallel passage by Mark. This equally annoys high and low, rich and poor, young and old; and if not eradicated or suppressed is equally destructive to the life of God in all. God himself is all-sufficient to satisfy the most enlarged desires of all his intelligent creatures. There is enough in him to make them completely happy. All our desire therefore should be unto him, or, at least, nothing should be esteemed, desired, delighted in, or pursued, but in perfect subordination to him and his love: and when this is not the case, but the desire of our heart is turned toward other objects, our intercourse with God is of necessity interrupted, and the influences of his Spirit withheld from us; the consequence of which is, we lose all union with him, and become twice dead, plucked up by the roots. Now when all these, who receive the seed as among thorns, who begin in the Spirit, but end in the flesh; run well for a time, but are afterward hindered; are also, as well as the two preceding classes, excepted, alas! how few yet remain to be compared to the good ground, mentioned in the next verse!

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.He also that received seed among the thorns - These represent the cares, the anxieties, and the deceitful lure of riches, or the way in which a desire to be rich deceives people.

They take the time and attention. They do not leave opportunity to examine the state of the soul. Besides, riches allure, and promise what they do not yield. They promise to make us happy; but, when gained, they do not do it. The soul is not satisfied. There is the same desire to possess more wealth. And to this there is no end "but death." In doing it there is every temptation to be dishonest, to cheat, to take advantage of others, to oppress others, and to wring their hard earnings from the poor. Every evil passion is therefore cherished by the love of gain; and it is no wonder that the word is choked, and every good feeling destroyed, by this "execrable love of gold." See the notes at 1 Timothy 6:7-11. How many, O how many, thus foolishly drown themselves in destruction and perdition! How many more might reach heaven, if it were not for this deep-seated love of that which fills the mind with care, deceives the soul, and finally leaves it naked, and guilty, and lost!

17. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired—rather, "coveted."

to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them—Not only were the disciples blessed above the blinded just spoken of, but favored above the most honored and the best that lived under the old economy, who had but glimpses of the things of the new kingdom, just sufficient to kindle in them desires not to be fulfilled to any in their day. In Lu 10:23, 24, where the same saying is repeated on the return of the Seventy—the words, instead of "many prophets and righteous men," are "many prophets and kings"; for several of the Old Testament saints were kings.

Second and Seventh Parables or First Pair:

The Wheat and the Tares, and The Good and Bad Fish (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43, 47-50).

The subject of both these parables—which teach the same truth, with a slight diversity of aspect—is:

The MIXED CHARACTER OF THE Kingdom in Its Present State, and the FINAL ABSOLUTE SEPARATION OF THE Two Classes.

The Tares and the Wheat (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43).

Mark adds, Mark 4:19, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word. Luke saith, Luke 8:14, And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. Under these terms, the care of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the pleasures of this life, or the lusts of other things, our Saviour comprehends all that which St. John calls the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. The immoderate desires of our hearts after lawful things, or their desires after things prohibited and unlawful, these he compares to thorns: as thorns in a ground choke the seed, shadowing the blade when it comes up, and keeping off the warmth of the sun, and drawing the fatness of the ground from it; so these divert men’s thoughts; and draw men’s affections off from the word of God, so as it bringeth forth no fruit; or if there be some little appearance of fruit, it dwindles away, and cometh to no perfection. None of these were profane, godless persons, who make no conscience of neglecting to hear the word preached; they are all hearers. Oh how strait is the way, how narrow is the gate, that leadeth to everlasting life! How few there be that find it!

He also that receiveth seed among the thorns,.... The hearer that is like to the thorny ground, on which the seed fell,

is he that heareth the word; not a profane sinner, nor a reviler of religion, or a persecutor of the saints; but one that not only shows a love to the word, but who seems to have his heart broken under it, and by it, his conscience tender, and his life outwardly reformed; one, who besides his being a settled, diligent, understanding, and affectionate hearer of the word, and a believing receiver and professor of it, seems to have a thorough work of grace upon him, to have the fallow ground of his heart ploughed up, and to be truly contrite; the thorns being under ground, and not yet to be seen, but afterwards appear:

and the care of this world; not the care of another world, nor a care about spiritual things in this world, nor even a proper, laudable care of the things of this present life, but an anxious and immoderate care of them; which, as thorns, is very perplexing and distressing to the persons themselves, and is what is vain and fruitless.

And the deceitfulness of riches: in opposition to some riches, the riches of grace and glory, which have no deceit in them; and not riches themselves, bare worldly riches but the deceitfulness of them, is here taken notice of; for riches often delude, and lead persons out of the right way, out of God's way; cause them to err from the faith; they do not give the satisfaction they promise, and often do not continue, as is expected: and are as thorns, pungent to the owners of them, who pierce themselves through with many sorrows in acquiring and keeping them; and are frequently injurious to others, their fellow creatures; and in the issue are useless and unprofitable, especially with respect to the concerns of another world. Mark adds, "and the lusts of other things"; besides riches; and Luke adds, and "pleasures of this life"; meaning divers other worldly lusts and pleasures, such as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life: which also, like thorns, are distracting and afflicting, sooner or later; are vain, and unprofitable, and lead to destruction: and these are called "the pleasures of this life", in opposition to, and distinction from the pleasures of that which is to come, which are real and lasting: the phrase is Jewish (r);

"says R. Judah, the prince, whoever takes upon him, , "the pleasures of this world", to him are denied the pleasures of the world to come: and whoever does not take upon him "the pleasures of this world", to him are given the pleasures of the world to come.''

Now these, all, and each of them,

choke the word: by overspreading all the powers and faculties of the soul, as thorns do a field; by overtopping the seed of the word, and by hiding it from the influences of the sun of righteousness, and rain of grace; and by attracting everything in the heart to themselves; and by bearing and pressing down all thought, concern, and care for the use, fruitfulness, and increase of the word.

And he becometh unfruitful: as in such circumstances he must needs be; or if there be any show of fruit in outward respect to the word, in an historical faith of it, in an external profession, and outward reformation, "yet brings not fruit to perfection", as Luke says; these in process of time shrivel up, wither away, and come to nothing.

(r) Abot R. Nathan, c. 28. Vid. Kimchi & Ben Melech in Psal. xvi 5. & Eben Ezra in Psal. xix. 10.

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
Matthew 13:22. Ἀκούων] is simply to hear, as in all the other cases in which it is here used; and neither, with Grotius, are we to supply καὶ μετὰ χαρᾶς λαμβάνων, nor, with Kuinoel and Bleek, to take it in the sense of admittere.

The care for this world
, which (Matthew 13:39; Matthew 13:49) extends even to the setting up of the promised kingdom (τούτου is a correct gloss), is the care which men cherish with regard to temporal objects and temporal affairs, as contrasted with the higher concern, the striving after the Messiah’s kingdom (Matthew 6:33). Comp. Tim. Matthew 4:10.

ἀπάτη] the deceitfulness of those riches, which (personified) delude men with their enticements; not: “Delectatio, qua divitiae animos hominum afficiunt” (Kuinoel), a classical meaning of ἀπάτη (Polyb. ii. 56. 12, iv. 20. 5) which is foreign to the New Testament, and which in this instance is as unnecessary as it is flat. 2 Thessalonians 2:10; Hebrews 3:13.

ἄκαρπ. γίν.] not the word (Bengel), but the man; see Matthew 13:23.

Matthew 13:22. ἀκούων, hearing alone predicated of the third type, but receiving both intellectually and emotionally implied; everything necessary present except purity of heart, singleness of mind. Hearing is to be taken here in a pregnant sense as distinct from the hearing that is no hearing (Matthew 13:13).—μέριμνα τ. α., ἀπάτη τ. π.: together = worldliness. Lust for money and care go together and between them spoil many an earnest religious nature.—ἄκαρπος may refer cither to the man (Meyer) or to the word (λόγον just before; Bengel, Weiss); sense the same. There is fruit in this case; the crop does not wither in the blade: it reaches the green ear, but it never ripens.

22. the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches] St Mark adds “the lusts of other things,” St Luke, “the pleasures of this life.” These things destroy the “singleness” of the Christian life. Compare with this the threefold employment of the world as described by Christ, at the time of the Flood, at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and at the coming of the Son of man. (Luke 17:26-30.)

Matthew 13:22. Ἠ ἀπάτη τοῦ πλούτου, the deceitfulness of riches)[616] Riches remove the soul from that tranquillity which is here opposed to the care of this world.[617]—ἄκαρπος γίνεται, becometh unfruitful) sc. the word in man becometh so (see Mark 4:19); i.e., the word in him who hears it does not arrive at good and perfect fruit fit for use: the man bringeth no fruit to perfection, οὐ τελεσφορεὶ, Luke 8:14. Thomas Magister[618] says, εὔκαρπα δένδρα, ὧν ὁ καρπός ἐστι χρήσιμος ἀνθρώποις εὶς τροφήν· ἄκαρπα, τὸ ἐναντίον, ὧν τοῖς καρποῖς οὐ χρῶνται οἱ ἄνθρωποι· ἄκαρπον δὲ, τὸ μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν, παρʼ οὐδενὶ τῶν παλαιῶν εὕρηται: i.e., “Trees which are styled εὔκαρπα, are those, the fruit (ΚΑΡΠΌς) of which is serviceable for food to men: ἌΚΑΡΠΑ, on the other hand, are those, the fruit of which men do not use for food: but ἌΚΑΡΠΟΝ, in the sense of having no fruit, is not found in any of the ancients.”

[616] Which is manifold in its varieties of form, and which, though it deceives men in an awful manner, yet scarcely ever seems to them worth while being taken into consideration at all.—V. g.

[617] Συμπνίγει, choke) Many engage in the discussion (treating) of the Word of GOD in such a way as if the heart were not a field in which the seed is to remain and grow, but a granary which can contain at one time less stores, at another time more—at one time something, at another time nothing.—V. g.

[618] THOMAS MAGISTER, surnamed THEODULUS (ΘΕΟΔΟΥΛΟΣ, The Servant of GOD), was a Monk and a Grammarian, who flourished at the beginning of the fourteenth century. Saxius describes him as “vocum Atticarum magister.”—(I. B.)

Verse 22. - And the care (ἡ μέριμνα); Matthew 6:25, note. Of this world (of the world, Revised Version, τοῦ αἰῶνος, omitting the τούτου of the Received Text). (For αἰών ["age," Revised Version margin], cf. Matthew 12:32, note.) Choke the word. Which is no unchanging thing, but is always affected for good or evil, however great progress it has made. Matthew 13:22
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