Matthew 13:33
Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
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(33) The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven.—The parable sets forth the working of the Church of Christ on the world, but not in the same way as that of the Mustard Seed. There the growth was outward, measured by the extension of the Church, dependent on its missionary efforts. Here the working is from within. The “leaven”—commonly, as in the Passover ritual, the symbol of malice and wickedness (1Corinthians 5:8)—causing an action in the flour with which it is mingled that is of the nature of decay and tends to actual putrescence, here becomes, in the mode of teaching which does not confine itself within the limits of a traditional and conventional symbolism, the type of influence for good as well as evil. It can turn the flour into human food—this symbolism is traceable in the leavened loaves that were offered on the day of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:17)—can permeate the manners, feelings, and opinions of non-Christian societies until they become blessings and not curses to mankind. In the new feelings, gradually diffused, of Christendom as to slavery, prostitution, gladiatorial games—in the new reverence for childhood and womanhood, for poverty and sickness—we may trace the working of the leaven.

Descending to the details of the parable, it is at least open to us (as an application of it, if not as an interpretation) to see in the woman, as in the parable of the Lost Piece of Money (Luke 15:8), the representative of the divine Wisdom as working in the history of the world, or of the Church of Christ as embodying that wisdom. The three measures of meal admit, in like manner, of many references, of which we cannot say with certainty that one is more likely to have been intended than another. The descendants of the three sons of Noah, or the Jew, the Greek, the Barbarian, as representing the whole race of mankind, or body, soul, and spirit, as the three parts of man’s nature, which the new truth is to permeate and purify, are all in this sense equally legitimate applications.



Matthew 13:33

How lovingly and meditatively Jesus looked upon homely life, knowing nothing of the differences, the vulgar differences, between the small and great! A poor woman, with her morsel of barm, kneading it up among three measures of meal, in some coarse earthenware pan, stands to Him as representing the whole process of His work in the world. Matthew brings together in this chapter a series of seven parables of the kingdom, possibly spoken at different times, and gathered here into a sequence and series, just as he has done with the great procession of miracles that follows the Sermon on the Mount, and just as, perhaps, he has done with that sermon itself. The two first of the seven deal with the progress of the Gospel in individual minds and the hindrances thereto. Then there follows a pair, of which my text is the second, which deal with the geographical expansion of the kingdom throughout the world, in the parable of the grain of mustard-seed growing into the great herb, and with the inward, penetrating, diffusive influence of the kingdom, working as an assimilating and transforming force in the midst of society.

I do not purpose to enter now upon the wide and difficult question of the relation of the kingdom to the Church. Suffice it to say that the two terms are by no means synonymous, but that, at the same time, inasmuch as a kingdom implies a community of subjects, the churches, in the proportion in which they have assimilated the leaven, and are holding fast by the powers which Christ has lodged within them, are approximate embodiments of the kingdom. The parable, then, suggests to us, in a very striking and impressive form, the function and the obligations of Christian people in the world.

Let me deal, in a purely expository fashion, with the emblem before us.

‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven.’ Now of course, leaven is generally in Scripture taken as a symbol of evil or corruption. For example, the preliminary to the Passover Feast was the purging of the houses of the Israelites of every scrap of evil ferment, and the bread which was eaten on that Feast was prescribed to be unleavened. But fermentation works ennobling as well as corruption, and our Lord lays hold upon the other possible use of the metaphor. The parable teaches that the effect of the Gospel, as ministered by, and residing in, the society of men, in whom the will of God is supreme, is to change the heavy lump of dough into light, nutritious bread. There are three or four points suggested by the parable which I could touch upon; and the first of them is that significant disproportion between the apparent magnitude of the dead mass that is to be leavened, and the tiny piece of active energy which is to diffuse itself throughout it.

We get there a glimpse into our Lord’s attitude, measuring Himself against the world and the forces that were in it. He knows that in Him, the sole Representative, at the moment, of the kingdom of heaven upon earth-because in Him, and in Him alone, the divine will was, absolutely and always, supreme-there lie, for the time confined to Him, but never dormant, powers which are adequate to the transformation of humanity from a dead, lumpish mass into an aggregate all-penetrated by a quickening influence, and, if I might so say, fermented with a new life that He will bring. A tremendous conception, and the strange thing about it is that it looks as if the Nazarene peasant’s dream was going to come true! But He was speaking to the men whom He was charging with a delegated task, and to them He says, ‘There are but twelve of you, and you are poor, ignorant men, and you have no resources at your back, but you have Me, and that is enough, and you may be sure that the tiny morsel of yeast will penetrate the whole mass.’ Small beginnings characterise the causes which are destined to great endings; the things that are ushered into the world large, generally grow very little further, and speedily collapse. ‘An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning, but the end shall not be blessed.’ The force which is destined to be worldwide, began with the one Man in Nazareth, and although the measures of meal are three, and the ferment is a scrap, it is sure to permeate and transform the mass.

Therefore, brethren, let us take the encouragement that our Lord here offers. If we are adherents of unpopular causes, if we have to ‘stand alone with two or three,’ do not let us count heads, but measure forces. ‘What everybody says must be true,’ is a cowardly proverb. It may be a correct statement that an absolutely universal opinion is a true opinion, but what most people say is usually false, and what the few say is most generally true. So if we have to front-and if we are true men we shall sometimes have to front-an embattled mass of antagonism, and we be in a miserable minority, never mind! We can say, ‘They that be with us are more than they that be with them.’ If we have anything of the leaven in us, we are mightier than the lump of dough.

But there is another point here, and that is the contact that is necessary between the leaven and the dough. We have passed from the old monastic idea of Religion being seclusion from life. But that mistake dies hard, and there are many very Evangelical and very Protestant-and in their own notions superlatively good-people, who hold a modern analogue of the old monastic idea; and who think that Christian men and women should be very tepidly interested in anything except what they call the preaching of the Gospel, and the saving of men’s souls. Now nobody that knows me, and the trend of my preaching, will charge me with undervaluing either of these things, but these do not exhaust the function of the Church in the world, nor the duty of the Church to society. We have to learn from the metaphor in the parable. The dough is not kept on one shelf and the leaven on another; the bit of leaven is plunged into the heart of the mass, and then the woman kneads the whole up in her pan, and so the influence is spread. We Christians are not doing our duty, nor are we using our capacities, unless we fling ourselves frankly and energetically into all the currents of the national life, commercial, political, municipal, intellectual, and make our influence felt in them all. The ‘salt of the earth’ is to be rubbed into the meat in order to keep it from putrefaction; the leaven is to be kneaded up into the dough in order to raise it. Christian people are to remember that they are here, not for the purpose of isolating themselves, but in order that they may touch life at all points, and at all points bring into contact with earthly life the better life and the principles of Christian morality.

But in this contact with all phases of life and forms of activity, Christian men are to be sure that they take the leaven with them. There are professing Christians that say: ‘Oh! I am not strait-laced and pharisaical. I do not keep myself apart from any movements of humanity. I count nothing that belongs to men alien to a Christian.’ All right! but when you go into these movements, when you go into Parliament, when you become a city Councillor, when you mingle with other men in commerce, when you meet other students in the walks of intellect, do you take your Christianity there, or do you leave it behind? The two things are equally necessary, that Christians should be in all these various spheres of activity, and that they should be there, distinctly, manifestly, and, when need be, avowedly, as Christian men.

Further, there is another thought here, on which I just say one word, and that is the effect of the leaven on the dough.

It is to assimilate, to set up a ferment. And that is what Christianity did when it came into the world, and

‘Cast the kingdoms old

Into another mould.’

And that is what it ought to do to-day, and will do, if Christian men are true to themselves and to their Lord. Do you not think that there would be a ferment if Christian principles were applied, say, for instance, to national politics? Do you not think there would be a ferment if Christian principles were brought to bear upon all the transactions on the Exchange? Is there any region of life into which the introduction of the plain precepts of Christianity as the supreme law would not revolutionise it? We talk about England as a Christian country. Is it? A Christian country is a country of Christians, and Christians are not people that only say ‘I have faith in Jesus Christ.’ but people that do His will. That is the leaven that is to change, and yet not to change, the whole mass; to change it by lightening it, by putting a new spirit into it, leaving the substance apparently unaffected except in so far as the substance has been corrupted by the evil spirit that rules. Brethren, if we as Christians were doing our duty, it would be true of us as it was of the early preachers of the Cross, that we are men who turn the world upside down.

But there is one more point on which I touch. I have already anticipated some of what I would say upon it, but I must dwell upon it for a little longer; and that is, the manner in which the leaven is to work.

Here is a morsel of barm in the middle of a lump of dough. It works by contact, touches the particles nearest it, and transforms them into vehicles for the further transmission of influence. Each particle touched by the ferment becomes itself a ferment, and so the process goes on, outwards and ever outwards, till it permeates the whole mass. That is to say, the individual is to become the transmitter of the influence to him who is next him. The individuality of the influence, and the track in which it is to work, viz. upon those in immediate contiguity to the transformed particle which is turned from dough into leaven, are taught us here in this wonderful simile.

Now that carries a very serious and solemn lesson for us all. If you have received, you are able, and you are bound, to transmit this quickening, assimilating, transforming, lightening influence, and you need never complain of a want of objects upon which to exercise it, for the man or woman that is next you is the person that you ought to affect.

Now I have already said, in an earlier portion of these remarks, that some good people, taking an erroneous view of the function and obligations of the Church in the world, would fain keep its work to purely evangelistic effort upon individual souls in presenting to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Saviour. But whilst I vehemently protest against the notion that that is the whole function of the Christian Church, I would as vehemently protest against the notion that the so-called social work of the Church can ever be efficiently done except upon the foundation laid of this evangelistic work. First and foremost amongst the ways in which this great obligation of leavening humanity is to be discharged, must ever stand, as I believe, the appeal to the individual conscience and heart, and the presentation to single souls of the great Name in which are stored all the regenerative and quickening impulses that can ever alleviate and bless humanity. So that, first and foremost, I put the preaching of the Gospel, the Gospel of our salvation, by the death and in the life of the Incarnate Son of God.

But then, besides that, let me remind you there are other ways, subsidiary but indispensable ways, in which the Church has to discharge its function; and I put foremost amongst these, what I have already touched upon, and therefore need not dilate on now, the duty of Christians as Christians to take their full share in all the various forms of national life. I need not dwell upon the evils rampant amongst us, which have to be dealt with, and, as I believe, may best if not only, be dealt with, upon Christian principles. Think of drink, lust, gambling, to name but three of them, the hydra-headed serpent that is poisoning the English nation. Now it seems to me to be a deplorable, but a certainly true thing, that not only are these evils not attacked by the Churches as they ought to be, but that to a very large extent the task of attacking them has fallen into the hands of people who have little sympathy with the Church and its doctrines. They are fighting the evils on principles drawn from Jesus Christ, but they are not fighting the evils to the extent that they ought to do, with the Churches alongside. I beseech you, in your various spheres, to see to it that, as far as you can make it so, Christian people take the place that Christ meant them to take in the conflict with the miseries, the sorrows, the sins that honeycomb England to-day, and not to let it be said that the Churches shut themselves up and preach to people, but do not lift a finger to deal with the social evils of the nation.

Matthew 13:33. Another parable spake he unto them — With a view still further to illustrate the progress of the gospel in the world, and of true religion in the soul. The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman hid — That is, covered up; in three measures of meal — Which seems to have been the quantity that they usually baked at once; till the whole was leavened — For although the leaven seemed lost for a while in the mass of dough, it secretly wrought through it by a speedy though almost insensible fermentation. Thus shall the gospel spread in the world, and divine grace in the souls of men, influencing and assimilating their spirit and conduct.

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?The kingdom of heaven - The meaning here is the same as in the last parable; perhaps, however, intending to denote more properly the secret and hidden nature of piety in the soul. The other parable declared the "fact" that the gospel would greatly spread, and that piety in the heart would greatly increase. This states the "way" or "mode" in which it would be done. It is secret, silent, steady; pervading all the faculties of the soul and all the kingdoms of the world, as leaven, or yeast, though hidden in the flour, and though deposited only in one place, works silently until all the mass is brought under its influence.

Three measures - These were small measures (see the margin); but the particular amount is of no consequence to the story; nor is anything to be inferred from the fact that three are mentioned. That number is mentioned as a circumstance giving interest to the parable, but designed to convey no spiritual instruction. The measure mentioned here probably contained about a peck and a half.

33. Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened—This parable, while it teaches the same general truth as the foregoing one, holds 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."Ver. 24-33. Here are three parables by the evangelist put together before he cometh to the explication which our Saviour giveth of the first; all of them concerning the gospel church, and the dispensation of the gospel. In the one he instructs us what we are to expect as to the mixture of persons in it while it is in this world. In the other two concerning the increase and propagation of it. The first himself expounds, Matthew 13:37-43. This parable is only found in Matthew. The other two are found, shortly both of them in Luke, one in Mark; neither of them are expounded. I will therefore, without any explication of these verses at present, go on to the verses following them, all which will lead me to our Saviour’s own interpretation of the first of these parables; after which I will also consider these two parables that follow here, but are neither expounded here nor in the other evangelists.

Another parable spake he unto them,.... To the disciples and the multitude, and which was of the same kind, to the same purpose, and relating to the same subject as the former; the spread of the Gospel, and the increase of it in the world,

The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven. The word "leaven" is every where else used in a bad sense; and either designs immorality, as malice and wickedness, or false doctrine, such as that of the Pharisees and Sadducees: but here it seems to be taken in a good sense, and the Gospel to be compared unto it; nor for its disagreeable qualities, but on account of its small quantity; it is a little leaven that leavens the whole lump, and may express, as the grain of mustard seed does, the small beginnings of the Gospel, and its meanness in the eyes of men; and on account of its piercing, penetrating, and spreading nature: so the Gospel reaches the conscience, pierces the heart, enlightens the understanding, informs the judgment, raises and sets the affections on right objects, subdues the will, and brings down all towering thoughts, to the obedience of Christ, in particular persons; and has penetrated and made its way, under divine influence, through towns, cities, kingdoms, and nations: also on account of its heating, swelling, and assimilating nature; so the Gospel, where it takes place, warms the affections, causes the heart to burn within, inspires with zeal for God, and Christ, and the Gospel; it swells and fills churches with such as shall be saved, and assimilates the several persons it operates in, makes them like one another, one bread, one body, having like precious faith, knowledge, and experience, though in a different degree,

Which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal. By the "three measures of meal", are meant the elect of God; who, because of their nature and quality, are compared to meal, or fine flour; and that because of that of which it is made, wheat, to a corn of which Christ is compared, John 12:24 and by whose grace the saints are what they are, justified, regenerated, and sanctified; and on account of the manner it becomes so, as by grinding the wheat, sifting it when ground, and separating it from the bran; all which may express the first convictions in the conscience of awakened sinners, the grace of God in conversion, and the separation of them from the rest of the world, in the effectual calling; as also by reason of its choiceness, purity, and goodness, the saints being chosen of God and precious, and being pure and spotless, through the grace and righteousness of Christ, and being highly valued, and had in great esteem by him; and because of their quantity, are compared to three measures of meal. The measure here designed, is the Hebrew seah, which held a gallon and an half, and three of these made an ephah; and which is often rendered by the (a) Targumists, , "three seahs", or "measures", the very phrase here used; and the reason why three are particularly mentioned is, because such a quantity used to be fermented and kneaded by women at one time; see Genesis 18:6 and for the further illustration of this, take the following passage out of the Talmud (b),

"The wise men say, that three women may be employed in one lump of dough; one may knead it, another may make it into loaves, and another may bake it--and it is a tradition,

"that in wheat they use three kabs", or "measures", and in barley four "kabs".

These measures, as here used parabolically, may design the small number of God's elect; and, as some have thought, may have respect to the three then known parts of the world, where they were, or should be: by the woman that took and hid the leaven in these measures, is meant, either the church, sometimes compared to a woman in Scripture, Revelation 12:1 or the ministers of the Gospel, wisdom's maidens; or rather, Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God; see Proverbs 9:1 and the reason why a woman is mentioned is, because it was, with the Jews, the work of women to ferment the flour, knead the dough, and make the bread: and this action of taking and covering the leaven in the meal, may denote the power of Christ, in opening the heart, and putting in the Gospel, which unless he takes in hand, and uses, is ineffectual; as also the passiveness of men, under the first workings of the Spirit of Christ upon their souls, by the Gospel; and likewise, the secret and invisible power of divine grace, operating by the ministry of the word, upon the heart,

Until the whole was leavened: to be "leavened" by the Gospel, is to be evangelized by it, to be brought into the life and liberty of it, to a Gospel way of living by faith on Christ; to derive all peace, joy, and comfort from him, and not from any works of righteousness; and to have a man's obedience influenced by the love of God, so as to do it cheerfully, and without dependence on it. Now the Gospel, where it has entrance and takes place, powerfully and effectually, continues to operate more or less, as the leaven in the meal, until the whole man, soul and body, all the faculties of the soul, and members of the body, are influenced by it; and will continue with power and efficacy in the world, and church, until all the elect of God are wrought upon by it, and are brought in. There is a late ingenious interpretation (c) of this parable, which, since the word "leaven" is elsewhere always used in a bad sense, deserves consideration; according to which, this parable expresses not the spread of truth, but of error; by "the woman" is thought to be meant, the Apocalyptic woman, the woman spoken of in the Revelations, the whore of Rome, the mother of harlots; and the "leaven" which she took, the leaven of false doctrine and discipline; by her "hiding" it, the private, secret, artful methods, false doctrines, and bad discipline were introduced, and the gradual progress thereof; and by the "three measures of meal", the bishops and doctors of the church, among whom this leaven was spread, and who were fermented with it; particularly those three bishops of Rome at first, Sosymus, John the faster, and Boniface the third; which by degrees spread itself, until the whole Christian world was affected with it; and for a long time lay hid and undiscovered, till the Lord raised up Wyclif, John Huss, Jerom of Prague, Luther, and other reformers. The reader may choose which interpretation he likes best,

(a) Targum Onketos & Jarchi, in Exodus 16.36. & Targum Jon. in Ruth ii. 17. (b) T. Hieros. Pesachim, fol. 30. 2.((c) Vid. Teelman. Specimen Explic. Parabolarum, p. 64, 65, 66, 67, 68.

Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Matthew 13:33. Σάτον] מְאָה, one-third of an ephah, a dry measure, and, according to Josephus, Antt. ix. 4. 5, and Jerome on this passage, equivalent to one and a half Roman bushels. It befits the pictorial style of the passage that it should mention a definite quantity of flour; without any special object for doing so, it mentions what appears to be the usual quantity (Genesis 18:6; Jdg 6:19; 1 Samuel 1:24). So much the more arbitrary is Lange’s remark, that three is the number of the spirit. A great deal in the way of allegorizing the three σάτα is to be found in the Fathers. According to Theodore of Mopsuestia, they denote the Greeks, Jews, and Samaritans; Augustine, Melanchthon suppose them to signify the heart, the soul, and the spirit.

The parable of the mustard seed is designed to show that the great community, consisting of those who are to participate in the Messianic kingdom, i.e. the true people of God as constituting the body politic of the future kingdom, is destined to develope from a small beginning into a vast multitude, and therefore to grow extensively; ποίμνιον ὄντες ὀλίγον, εἰς ἄπειρον ηὐξήθησαν, Euth. Zigabenus; Acts 1:15; Acts 2:41; Acts 2:47; Acts 4:4; Acts 5:14; Acts 6:7; Acts 21:20; Romans 15:19; Romans 11:25 f. The parable of the leaven, on the other hand, is intended to show how the specific influences of the Messiah’s kingdom (Ephesians 4:4 ff.) gradually penetrate the whole of its future subjects, till by this means the entire mass is brought intensively into that spiritual condition which qualifies it for being admitted into the kingdom.

Matthew 13:33. ὁμοίαζύμῃ, like in respect of pervasive influence. In Rabbinical theology leaven was used as an emblem of evil desire (Weber, p. 221). Jesus had the courage to use it as an emblem of the best thing in the world, the Kingdom of God coming into the heart of the individual and the community.—ἐνέκρυψεν, hid by the process of kneading.—ἔως οὒ ἐζυμώθη: ἔως with the indicative, referring to an actual past occurrence.

Both these parables show how thoroughly Jesus was aware that great things grow from minute beginnings. How different His idea of the coming of the kingdom, from the current one of a glorious, mighty empire coming suddenly, full grown! Instead of that a mustard seed, a little leaven!

33. leaven] Except in this one parable, leaven is used of the working of evil; cp. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump,” Galatians 5:9; 1 Corinthians 5:6; and “purge out therefore the old leaven,” 1 Corinthians 5:7. So, too, in the Rabbinical writings. This thought probably arose from the prohibition of leaven during the paschal season. But the secrecy and the all-pervading character of leaven aptly symbolize the growth of Christianity, (1) as a society penetrating everywhere by a subtle and mysterious operation until in this light—as a secret brotherhood—it appeared dangerous to the Roman empire; (2) as an influence unfelt at first growing up within the human soul.

Compare Sir Bartle Frere on Indian Missions, p. 9; speaking of the gradual change wrought by Christianity in India, he says, in regard to religious innovations in general: “They are always subtle in operation, and generally little noticeable at the outset in comparison with the power of their ultimate operation.”

three measures] Literally, three seahs. In Genesis 18:6, Abraham bids Sarah “make ready three ‘seahs’ of fine meal, knead it and make cakes upon the hearth.”

Matthew 13:33. Ἐνέκρυψεν, concealed) The LXX. in Ezekiel 4:12, render the Hebrew עוג[630] (to bake) by ἐγκρύπτω (to conceal[631]), whence is derived ἐγκρυφίας, a cake.—ΣΆΤΑ[632] τρία, three measures) As much as was generally carried by a man, or taken for baking, at once; see Genesis 18:6.—ἐζυμώθη, was leavened) I would rather refer this to the propagation, than the corruption of the Church. The leaven is the kingdom of heaven itself, including both the gospel and the apostles.[633]—ὅλον, the whole) sc. flour.[634] A strong expression. This appears to refer to the whole human race, which consists of three measures, having spread over the earth from the three sons of Noah.[635]

[630] “עוג, (1.) prop, to go in a circle.… Hence עֻגָה and מָעו̇ג a round cake.…

[631] i.e., in the passage from Ezekiel, to cover with, sc. hot embers; E. V., bake.—(I. B.)

[632] ἐγκρυφίας, ου, , ἄρτος εγκ, a loaf baked in the ashes, Hipp. Luc. Dial. Mort. 20, 4, etc. LIDDELL and SCOTT.—(I. B.)

[633] “Cujus rationes et evangelium et apostolos complectuntur.”—(I. B.)

[634] A little leaven, as in evil, Galatians 5:9, so in good, leavens the whole mass.—V. g.

[635] This conjecture will not be thought ridiculous by him who remembers that there may be not merely one reason for a particular circumstance or expression (as the reason already given in the note above on σάτα τρία, which see), but several reasons.—E. B.

No necessity, in fact, compels us to take the leaven in a bad sense: hence, as the word does not necessarily imply censure, bad leaven is termed the old leaven in 1 Corinthians 5:7.—V. g

(2.) denom. from עגְה to bake bread or cake, Ezra 4:12.”

עֻגָה and עֻגָה (1 Kings 19:6; Ezekiel 4:12), fem, a cake baked under hot cinders,” etc., GESENIUS.—(I. B.)

Verse 33. - The parable of the leaven. Parallel passage: Luke 13:20, 21. The growth of the kingdom regarded in its quiet and secret influence. This is to be ultimately complete and universal. The prophecy is partially fulfilled with every fresh recognition of Christian principles in public opinion, or customs, or laws. For "every thought" shall be brought "captive unto the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven. This is the only passage where leaven is spoken of with reference to its permeating qualities alone, without any trace of the notion of defilement, which the Paschal and other regulations (Exodus 12:15, 18; Exodus 23:15, 18; Leviticus 2:11) so readily suggested. Even in 1 Corinthians 5:6 and Galatians 5:9 this connotation of evil is not altogether absent. In Talm. Bab., 'Berach.,' 17a, it is used as a figure of the "evil impulse" within us. Hence some have interpreted it in a similar sense here, and have understood our Lord to be referring to the spread of worldliness in the Church (especially after the conversion of Constantine); but

(1) this is opposed to the prima facie meaning;

(2) it is unreasonable to insist that a symbol must always have the same connotation;

(3) it is opposed to the idea of deliberate purpose underlying the action of the woman;

(4) the closing words would cast too awful a shadow - they would mean that Christianity fails. Which a woman took (ver. 31, note), and hid. The woman probably belongs entirely to the framework of the parable (cf. Luke 15:4, 8). For the work described is always, in normal societies, performed by women. Of other interpretations that which sees in her the Church as the agent by whom the kingdom of God is wrought into the world is the best. In three measures of meal; i.e. an ephah. This appears to have been a convenient quantity (about a peck) for kneading at one time (Genesis 18:6; Judges 6:19). Until the whole was leavened; literally, until it was leavened, even the whole of it (ἕως οῦ ἐζυμώθη ὅλον). While our Lord thus promises that the permeating influence of the kingdom of heaven shall at last be entirely successful, it is unfair to so press the parable as to deduce from it that the world as such will continue to be gradually and continuously improved up to the Lord's return. It may be so (contrast, however, Luke 18:8), but even direct prophecy, and still more parable, frequently regards the ultimate result, and passes over the intermediate stages. Matthew 13:33Leaven (ζύμῃ)

Wyc., sour dough, as German Sauerteig. From ζέω, to boil or seethe, as in fermentation. The English leaven is from the Latin levare, to raise, and appears in the French levain.

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