The Lazy Man's Guide to Interpretting Parables

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by James_Newman, Aug 13, 2007.

  1. James_Newman

    James_Newman
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    A busy beaver in another thread tossed out the following tidbit of information.

    I assume this is meant to be a sleight. As if no rational man would try to interpret a parable into a literal doctrine. Christ is just telling a story that is supposed to make a point. What is the point? I don't know, but it's probably something sweet and syrupy about how much God loves me and hates the Jews or something, right? I mean there is no warning in the parables for believers, is there?

    I think that this attitude toward parables probably stems from lax bible study habits. The bible has given us every key we need to interpret parables properly, but most folks have not ever picked up on this. To be fair, I had to be shown how to do this, but once you see it, it is easy and makes perfect sense. So I am going to present to you now, the Lazy Man's Guide to Interpretting Parables.

    Parables are stories that usually have figurative or symbolic elements that represent literal subjects. The primary warning or action in the parable is literal. What do I mean? Let me show you.

    Matthew 13:24-30
    24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
    25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
    26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
    27 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?
    28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
    29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
    30 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.

    This is a parable that Jesus spoke to His disciples. It is a story with figurative elements. The disciples could have dismissed it as a campfire tale, and indeed if they had gone to seminary they probably would have. But instead, they decided to ask the Lord to explain the parable to them.

    Matthew 13:37-43
    37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;
    38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;
    39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
    40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
    41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
    42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
    43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

    Christ explains what the symbols represent. The sower is the Son of man, the field is the world. The good seed are the children of the kingdom, the tares are the children of the wicked one. The enemy is the devil, the harvest is the end of the world and the reapers are the angels. I'm just repeating what Christ said, so there should be no surprises here.

    Now Christ is going to apply the biblical principle of parabolic interpretation and reveal unto His disciples the deep mystery of this dark saying. As the (figurative) tares are gathered and burned in the fire during the harvest, so shall it be in the end of the world. The Son of man (the sower) sends the angels (the reapers) to gather out all that offend and them which do iniquity (the tares) and they are cast into a furnace of fire (burned). Notice that the burning in the parable is literal! The fire symbolic for literal fire. All the symbolic elements have their literal counterpart, but the primary event of burning is strictly literal. This is a principle that holds true throughout the bible, wherever figurative speech is used to teach or warn the primary warning or action is always literal.

    Genesis 37:7-8
    7 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
    8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

    Not only will he have dominion over you fellas, you're going to literally bow down before him!

    Genesis 42:6
    6 And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
     
  2. Hope of Glory

    Hope of Glory
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    So, do you think the lazy man's way of interpreting parables could be boiled down to the following?

    "The parables are obviously about saved vs unsaved, and I'm saved, so why study 'em!"
     
  3. James_Newman

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    Thats certainly a possibility.
     
  4. Amy.G

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    Could you be any more sarcastic? You know, JJump would tell you that you are not Christians.
     
  5. James_Newman

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    I'm not being sarcastic. Well maybe a little.
     
  6. J. Jump

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    Case in point Amy. Why do you lie about me? I have NEVER EVER accused someone of not being a Christian and I certainly have not doubted ANYONE'S salvation.

    Why do you insist on lying?
     
  7. Amy.G

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    You made a huge deal about how "Christians" behave on this board and even though they may be saved they are not Christians because they are not following Christ when they behave that way.


    Hang on and I'll go copy the posts where you said that.
     
  8. James_Newman

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    Why don't you go copy them into thread dedicated to that topic. I'd like to discuss interpretation of parabolic warnings to believers.
     
  9. Amy.G

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    You are the liar.

    (Sorry James, I was challenged, had to respond)
     
  10. npetreley

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    I guess this is where one of us non-ME folk get to say to J. Jump, "If you're right, I'll see you in [1,000 years of] hell."
     
  11. Lacy Evans

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    Oh Dear God, have mercy, my Father.
     
  12. Amy.G

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    It's hard when one of your ME buddies gets caught in a bold face lie.

    It reduces the credibility factor.


    I don't like being accused of lying. I will respond with the truth.
     
  13. standingfirminChrist

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    I just got a picture of God getting on the BB and answering Lacy. Wonder what He would have said?:wavey:
     
  14. James_Newman

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    I wonder what He would say about the OP.
     
  15. standingfirminChrist

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    I imagine He would say, "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God."

    God has promised an inheritance to the saved, and as TCGreek pointed out, that inheritance does not mean a layover in outer darkness/hell/lake of fire.
     
  16. James_Newman

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    This has what to do with the interpretation of parables? If you guys want to ignore what I posted, then thats fine, I will just assume you don't have an answer.
     
  17. Hope of Glory

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    First of all, Jesus used sarcasm quite well. However, he never lied and he never bore false witness, which is the main debating tactic used by 2 or 3 posters here who manage to use quite a bit of verbage.

    Now, on to the parables of Matthew 13, then back to work:

    We want to look at a few particular verses in Matthew 13 (1, 9-11, 15) in order to lay some groundwork for the study of the parables in this chapter.

    [Matthew 13:11] This was in response to the question the disciples asked, in [Matthew 13:10]. These parables deal with the mysteries of the Kingdom of the Heavens (it’s always plural), or the rule of the heavens over the earth.

    [Matthew 13:11a: “because it is given to you”.] The “you” there refers to the disciples, as mentioned in the first part of verse 10, where it says, “the disciples came”. Disciples. The disciples were to know the mysteries surrounding the Kingdom of the Heavens, but unto them (the multitudes) it is not given.

    These mysteries are not for all of God’s children; these mysteries are for ears that can hear. It has to do with initiation. You might remember this word “mystery” from our study of Revelation 17. This comes from the Greek word “musteron” and it has to do with a secret. It has to do with something that someone has to be initiated into. Not all ears can hear. [Matthew 13:9] This expression is used twice in this passage. In [Matthew 13:43] the same expression is used again.

    Who were those that it was not given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of the Heavens? [Matthew 13:15] That’s the key expression in this passage: “Their ears are dull of hearing”. They’re full of earwax. They’re dull of hearing.

    [Hebrews 5:10-14] This will give you an idea of who it is in God’s family that doesn’t have ears to hear. This is talking to believers and God’s children have different degrees of listening ability. Those whose ears are dull of hearing are babes in Christ; they’re baby Christians. They’re Christians who have been Christians long enough to have grown up. They have been saved long enough that they should have enough experience in God’s Word that they should have matured.

    They have need that one teach them again the first principles of the oracles of God. They are in need of milk and they’re unskillful in the Word of God. It says they are unskillful in the word of righteousness, and this is the righteousness, which is of faith. That righteousness, which is of faith, comes from walking with the Lord. The just shall live by faith. Unskillful in righteousness.

    When Paul said in [1 Corinthians 2:2], to whom was he talking? He’s talking to brethren. [1 Corinthians 3:1-3] We can see the contrast. Those who have ears to hear are spiritual. They have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. They are those who are feeding on the meat.

    [Matthew 13:19] Do you see the word “understand”? It’s a compound Greek word and it means to send together or to put together. Now, understand this, when someone hears the Word of the Kingdom and he has ears to hear, he’s going to put it together. He has been skillful in the word of righteousness. He has been studying here; he has been studying there. He has been growing in the knowledge and grace of the Lord. To understand means to put it together. It means to rightly divide and to put foundation stones on the foundation, and then put stones on the next layer above them, instead of trying to put roofing in the foundation and foundation in the roofing. There’s a lot of that going on today in Bible teaching circles. It’s supposed to be line upon line and line upon line and precept upon precept and precept upon precept.


    Those who have ears to hear are spiritual; they’re skillful in the word of righteousness; they’re feeding upon the meat; they are putting things together. They’re putting things together and comparing spiritual things to spiritual things.

    But, those who are dull of hearing are carnal, they’re babes, they have need that one teach them again the milk of the word, and they’re unstable. [Matthew 13:15a; For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed.] They have shut their own eyes. Sealing up the eyes is an oriental punishment. This process is described as a punishment in Isaiah 29:10 and 44:18, yet they’ve done this to themselves voluntarily. They don’t want this responsibility.

    Those who have ears that are dull of hearing are those who refuse to see the things of God. They refuse to be taught. It’s active. This statement, “their eyes they have closed”, has a particular reference. Because, notice that he says, “For this people’s heart is waxed gross”.

    [Matthew 13:1] “The same day went Jesus out of the house.” Jesus turned from the house of Israel to the Gentiles or to the seaside. “The same day.” What day was he talking about?

    [Matthew 12:22-28; devils - demons] The same day that the nation of Israel (the spiritual leaders; the Pharisees) accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan, that is the day that Jesus left the house of Israel and turned to the Gentiles. The Kingdom of the Heavens was no longer offered to Israel as a nation at that time.

    What had they done? They had accused Jesus of working in the power of Satan when it was all the time the power of the Holy Spirit. That was the power in which Jesus Christ was ministering to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

    Notice what he says in [Matthew 12:31-32; this age nor the one coming]. “Neither in this age nor in the one coming.” Blasphemy against the ministry of the Holy Spirit will disqualify believers from entering into the Kingdom of the Heavens. Will it make you lose your salvation? (Romans 8:35)

    The ministry of the Holy Spirit then was to demonstrate that Jesus was the Son of God. What is the ministry of the Holy Spirit today? He teaches, he comforts, guides, glorifies the Lord, frees us from the law of sin and death, keeps us from walking carnally, helps us mortify the deeds of the body…

    Jesus tells us what the ministry of the Holy Spirit is today. Remember, the blasphemy against the ministry of the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this age, nor in the age to come. The age to come is the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. If it’s not forgiven now, it means that we cannot receive Kingdom truths and thus qualify for entrance into the Kingdom and when we get to the Judgment Seat of Christ, it will be dealt with then, and you still will not be able to qualify to rule and reign in the coming Kingdom with the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why he’s saying that it won’t be forgiven in this age, nor in the one to come. If we turn away from the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit today and refuse to hear and to see and to put it together, he is not going to allow us to grow in these things and to qualify for positions of authority in the coming Kingdom. Therefore, in the coming Kingdom, we will be disqualified; we will not have an opportunity to rule and reign with the Lord, and our inheritance will be earthly and not heavenly.


    [FONT=&quot] [/FONT]
     
  18. Hope of Glory

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    [John 16:12-13] That’s the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to hear from the Lord Jesus Christ, who in turn heard if from the Father; the Father tells the Son to tell the Holy Spirit to tell you and to tell me some precious truths concerning things to come. “Things to come” have to do with the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    [John 16:14-15] The Father, the Son, then the Holy Spirit ministers it to us. That’s the ministry of the Holy Spirit today. It’s to teach us of things to come. I want to bring out, that he also [John 16:8-11].

    To spurn the ministry of the Holy Spirit you must be a saved individual. This is talking about saved people. This is talking about those who have responded to the message of, “believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved”. The ones who have been convicted of their sins and they have need of a savior. They’re the ones who can receive the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, which is teaching us of things to come.

    “The same day” that the children of Israel blasphemed the Holy Spirit and thus disqualified themselves for entrance into the Kingdom of the Heavens, that’s when he turned to the Gentiles. [Matthew 21:43] When the children of Israel would not bring forth the fruits thereof, he went to the nation that would produce the fruits thereof. What is that nation? The Gentiles. Remember, “nation” does not mean national boundaries as we refer to them today. It can be ethnic groups or other groups. Think about that when you think about “nation shall rise against nation”.

    One thing we have to keep in mind is, that we know the Lord turned away from the house of Israel and turned to the Gentiles, or to the seaside. [Matthew 13:36] Even though the Lord Jesus Christ has turned away from the house of Israel, because they wouldn’t produce the fruits thereof, and he has opened the door for the Gentiles to qualify to rule and reign, you need to keep one thing in your thinking: This is not salvation for the Gentiles. Gentiles have always been able to be saved, for God has always provided a way for Gentiles to be saved. If you remember this, then you can get this straight.

    This one fact has seriously confused the study of God’s Word! People say, “Well, he turned away from the Jews, now Gentiles can get saved”. That is simply untrue! Gentiles have always been able to be saved.

    Now, Gentiles have not always been able to qualify to rule and reign from the heavens, and that’s the point. Why? Because only Israel could qualify to rule and reign from the heavens. That’s why Jesus, when he sent the 12 out, said, “don’t go in the way of the Gentiles and in the way of the Samaritans, because they cannot qualify to rule and to reign.” Because he was offering the Kingdom of the Heavens only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Matthew 10:5-6 says, “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” That is not talking about salvation! That is talking about ruling and reigning. That is rewards and crowns. That is for honors and glories in his coming Kingdom.

    But, when people say, “they were going only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”, they say the message is, “they were going to the lost sheep of the house of Israel that they might get saved”. Well, the word “lost” is the word perishing, and they had life, otherwise they couldn’t perish.

    One thing that has been a key to studying is to appreciate the fact that perishing means to lose one’s life. That helps you to see that if a person loses his life, he will not rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ in the coming Kingdom.

    The parables of Matthew 13 are for ears that can hear, and they pertain to the mysteries of the Kingdom of the Heavens; they concern ruling and reigning! If you are interested in ruling and reigning, then you will be interested in the study of the parables of Matthew 13.
     
  19. Amy.G

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    A debating tactic used by one of your own.

    Quote:

    Talk about verbage. Look at your last 2 posts.
     
  20. webdog

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    Maybe he said that as an parable...;)
     
    #20 webdog, Aug 13, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2007

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