In this final part of his response to the Michael Brown debate, Gary discusses Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13.

For many (perhaps even most) Christians, the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13:24–30, 36–43) tells the story of the final judgment. This view is especially understandable when based on the old King James translation. It says:

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Two things primarily have lent this parable to being misunderstood: 1) It has so often been taught as an end-of-the-world parable about final judgment, and 2) the popular KJV clearly says that this gathering, separating, and burning judgment shall occur “in the end of this world” (vv. 39, 40).

But this translation is simply inaccurate. Verse 38 is correct to say “world,” for the Greek word is kosmos—a common Greek word translated “world.” It refers to the entire system of this planet and the order of things. But the word is entirely different in the following verses. In 39 and 40, the Greek word is aion, from which we get our word “eon.” It refers to a long period of time, and is properly translated “age.” Most modern translations get this correct (ESV, NAS, etc.), and even modern printings of the King James include footnotes with the proper reading. Why the old KJV translated it as “world” is another mystery.

Jesus v Jerusalem

Jesus v Jerusalem

Most people don’t realize that most of Jesus’ parables were intended not as general morality tales, but as particular pronouncements of coming judgment and change. Jesus was warning Jerusalem to repent and to accept its new King (Jesus) or else fall under ultimate condemnation of God. In fact, much of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels pertains primarily to that pre-AD 70 crowd, and without reading it in this light, we misunderstand it. And when we misunderstand it, we misapply it.

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A correct translation here is indispensible for properly understanding this parable and its explanation. It more correctly reads:

The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age (ESV).

On today’s podcast, Gary discusses Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13. Who persecuted Jesus’ disciples in the book of Acts? Mostly the religious leaders. The Jews either did it directly or made false political charges like what the Jewish religious leaders did to Jesus to get Rome to execute Him.

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