"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
The Parable of The Wheat and Tares
Some of the most popular and misunderstood Scripture of the Bible are the parables of the teaching of Jesus Christ. While the use of parables were highly effective for teaching of Jesus, they often required His explanation and continue to required exegetical study to completely comprehend their many elements even to this day. Much like the Scripture throughout the Bible, the parables ranged in elementary concepts to beyond the most wise theological concepts ever heard by the ears of man. In this study we have be given the opportunity to discuss the parable of the wheat and tares of Matthew 13:24-30. We will examine the structure, context, the points of reference, main point, original intent, and discuss application of the text to the church today.
The Structure, Literary, and Historical Context of Matthew 13:24-30
The structure of Matthew 13:24-30 has many characteristics of a typical parable including: plot, characterization, style, dialogue, repitition, and irony.symbols, time narrative, duration, and frequency.” The structure of a parable has a lot to say regarding the intention of the parable. In the text it mentions, “the structure of Matthew’s Gospel centers on the five major discourses presenting the content of Jesus’ teaching in chapters 5–7; 10:5–42; 13:1–52; 18:1–35; and 24–25.” Our text mentions that this section of the book of Matthew is listed as the third discourse, which he lables, “Kingdom Parables”. Regarding the structure Mark Bailey mentions that, “The parable has six major sections: the introduction (v.24a), the sowing (v.24b), the countersowing (v.25), the result (v.26), a first exchange between the servants and the owner (vv.27-28A), and a second exchange (vv.28b-30). The first half of the parable is narrative (vv. 24-26) and the second is dialogue (vv.27-30).”
The literary context of the parable of The Wheat and Tares can be best understood when it is defined. Our text mentions that “A parable is a short narrative that demands a response from the hearer. With regard to genre, parables are true-to-life or realistic stories. They differ from historical narrative in that they are not true stories, though they are told with verisimilitude.” Many times the presence of weeds among the wheat is often found just as the same metaphorically can be found among the body of Christ in the Church. This parable has some obvious literary context clues. Elements such as “earthiness, conciseness, repitition, conclusion, listener-relatedness, reversal, Kingdom centered eschatology, Kingdom ethics, and God and salvation” seem to abound in this parable. Simile and metaphor are both common elements used within this parable. Comparing wheat to weeds or tares continues the theme of a harvest, but points out the differences of the two plants by what fruit they bare. The weeds are essentially useless for the reaping of a crop (actually aiding in the destruction), while the wheat provides a hearty and nutritious substance for mankind to fuel their bodies.
The historical context of the parable is slightly harder to pick out for this text due to its lack of refernces to specific events. To understand how to find it, we need to be aware of exactly what it does. Our text mentions, “Historical context provides us with vital background information necessary for understanding the purpose of a given text and aids in recon-structing the particular situations that generated the need for it.” We know that location where the parable was given on the coast “by the sea” (Matthew 13:1). There are also other historical clues we get from the New Testament texts in general, such as Nihimiola mentions, “Jesus’ use of parables shows his rabbinical background, almost ever religious and ethical concept in the Talmud “is illustrated by a parable identical in form with parables in the New Testament.” Without the historical context, we would not know how to apply this parable. We know how to apply because we know the time period in the midst of Jesus’ ministry. He was present in Israel at the time where wheat would be harvested for a food source, making it a an awesome platform to teach from.
The Points of Reference and Main Point of Matthew 13:24-30
There are multiple points of reference in the parrable of the wheat and tares. The first point would be the harvester/farmer who would eventually reap the harvest, which is Christ. The men who were helpers would represent the sowers/workers in the field. This would be the ministers of the Gospel. The enemy who comes while the men are asleep would be Satan or his cohort spirits. The next point would be wheat, which are the Christians. They are identified as a whole (wheat field) and as individuals (strands of wheat), while also metaphorically speaking of the multitude of God’s harvest. Notice wheat strands are many in a healthy wheat field. Next would be the weeds/tares which are the bad seeds sown into the field by the enemy. These represent those who are now acting in the best interest of the enemy. They attempt to spoil and destruct the productive wheat by stealing the nutrients, light, and space. The final point of reference as would be the coming of the Son of Man which is represented by the harvest itself.
The main point found in this parable is as simple as the elements themselves explian. Emiola Nihinlola mentions, “The parable teaches the cause and reality of the presence of evil in the world. Good, righteous people are living in an age of evil, sin, deception lawlessness, corruption, and rebellion. These things will continue to remain in the world (and unfortunately also manifest in the church) in the last days (Matthew24:5, 11, 14; 2 Tim. 3:1-9).” In an article by Mark Bailey he mentions that, “One of the central truths in this parable is the reality of the judment that will separate the wicked from the righteous.” Jesus wanted his listerners to have faith in Him, therefore, “the purpose of Jesus’ para-bles was not limited to instruction but also served to engage his hearers’ value system, priorities, and way of thinking.”
The Original Intent and Application of Matthew 13:24-30 To The Church Today
The original intent of the parable found in Matthew 13:24-30 is provided at face value by the Scripture. It is obvious that there will be seeds planted by God, but because of sin in this world, there will also be seeds planted by the enemy. An article by Emiola Nihinlola mentions that, “The first purpose is to reveal, emphasize or clarify a spiritual truth to believers (Matt. 13:10-15; Mark 4:11-12; Luke 8:9-10).” There was always a spiritual concept within the parable itself. Our text mentions that, “In essence, parables were Jesus’ preferred teaching tool for producing in his listeners a proper alignment with God’s values which characterized the Kingdom Jesus had come to inaugurate and proclaim.”
The Church still has much to consider and learn from the parables today. In the parable of the wheat and tares, there are surely many. The main principles being as Emiola mentions, “God will jusge the world some day. An important eschatological implication of the text is the hope of ultimate victory over evil. This is presented along with the glorious future of the children of God and the church.“ As the Church and body of Christ, we have to keep one common principle in mind that Mark Bailey points out by saying, “Matthew’s parable addresses the simultaneous growth of good and bad seed.” We have to remember that those bad seed are growing up amongst the good. They are watered, nurtured, and mature in the light much like that of their neighbors. Unfortunately they do not reap the same benefit as their neighbor. They are not place there to be productive for the farmer, but rather to “go against the grain” in rebellion. This is an attempt to choke out the good seeds sown by the workers of God’s field.
As we have discovered by this detailed look into the parable of the wheat and tares, there is much to be considered and learned from its elements of truth. By knowing the structure, literary and historical context, points of refernce, main point, original intent, and application to the church today we can better understand what it means for us as followers of Christ. We also must consider as our text mentions, “The hermeneutical explorations and the theological implications of the parable of the weeds among the wheat also encourage the church to keep faith and hope till the end.” We must not lose our hope and faith in Christ as we await his harvest of the bride. This picture of the wheat and weeds helps us to further imagine how awesome and glorious a day that will surely be. It will be then that we can give praises and declare our victory at last.
Bailey, Mark (Mark L). 1998. "The Kingdom in the Parables of Matthew 13 Part 3 The parable of the tares." Bibliotheca Sacra 155, no. 619: 266-279. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed July 10, 2017).
Elwell, Walter, A. Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001.
Goodrick, Edward W. The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999.
Grand Canyon University. “New Testament Exegesis: Exegeting the Gospels.” Lecture 5, Biblical Hermeneutics, Grand Canyon University, 2016.
Köstenberger, Andreas J., and Patterson, Richard D. "Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology." (2011): Accessed July 8th, 2017. , http://gcumedia.com/digital-resources/kregel/2011/invitation-to-biblical-interpretation_exploring-the-hermeneutical-triad-of-history-literature-and-theology_ebook_1e.php
Nihinlola, Emiola, "'The weeds among the wheat': hermeneutical investigation into a kingdom parable." Ogbomoso Journal Of Theology 12, (2007) 87-98. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed July 10, 2017).
 Andreas J. Köstenberger and Richard D. Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2011), 392-396, accessed July 9th, 2017, GCU eBook
 Ibid. 399.
 Ibid. 401
 Mark L. Bailey, "The Kingdom in the Parables of Matthew 13-Part 3: The parable of the tares." Bibliotheca Sacra 155, no. 619 (1998): 266-279, accessed July 10th, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials.
 Ibid. 426.
 Köstenberger and Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation: Exploring the Hermeneutical Triad of History, Literature, and Theology. 440.
 Ibid. 383.
 Emiola Nihinlola, “The Weeds Among The Wheat: Hermeneutical Investigation into a Kingdom Parable,” Ogbomoso Journal Of Theology, no. 12 (2007): 87-98, accessed July 10th, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.
 Ibid. 94.
 Bailey, “The Parable of The Tares”, 276.
 Ibid. 429.
 Emiola Nihinlola, “The Weeds Among The Wheat: Hermeneutical Investigation into a Kingdom Parable,” Ogbomoso Journal Of Theology, no. 12 (2007): 88, accessed July 10th, 2017, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost.
 Ibid. 429.
 Ibid. 96
 Ibid. 97.