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Interpreting the Pearl and the Treasure

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by swaimj, Apr 12, 2009.

  1. swaimj

    swaimj <img src=/swaimj.gif>

    Jul 20, 2000
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    The parables of the pearl of great price and the hidden treasure occur back-to-back in Matthew chapter 13. The common interpretation of these parables is that the pearl and the treasure represent eternal life or salvation. The individual comes to see, through the work of the Holy Spirit, the value of eternal life; the treasure that it is and the beauty that it possesses, and the person gives all or surrenders all so that he might obtain eternal life.

    An alternative view is that the pearl and the treasure are those who are saved. God purchases salvation for the world through the death of His son so that he might gain the treasure of those who are to be saved, that is, the elect. A variation on this is given in Scofield’s notes, for he argues that the pearl/the treasure is Israel. God purchases the world so that he might redeem his chosen people.

    Though the second view is a minority view, I think it is preferable. I see the pearl/treasure as those who are saved having been bought by Christ. Here are two reasons for my view.

    First, no explanation is given in the passage in Matthew as to the meaning of these two parables. So, we must look at the surrounding parables in Matthew 13 (there are a total of seven parables in this chapter), two of which ARE interpreted by Jesus to see how the uninterpreted parables should be taken. In the two interpreted parables (the parable of the sower and the parable of the wheat and tares) the initiator of the action on behalf of the kingdom is God Himself. God is the sower and God is the one who plants the wheat. In the other three uninterpreted parables, the initiator of the action also represents God’s action in relation to the kingdom, its growth, and its consummation. The man who sows the mustard seed represents God. The woman who puts the leaven in the bread represents God, and the one who casts the dragnet into the sea also represents God. Since all five other parables have a person who represents God initiating the action to grow the kingdom, we MUST assume that the man who buys the field and the man who seeks the pearl represent God as well. There is nothing in the text that justifies interpreting these two parables differently.

    Second, these two parables speak of “buying” something. If the land buyer and the pearl seeker are unsaved people who gain salvation, then, according to the parable, they gain it by “buying” it. As humans, we cannot purchase salvation at any price. We do not have the resources to do so. No. God is the one who purchases our salvation. Indeed, he purchases us through the precious blood of his son. Jesus shed his blood; a sacrifice sufficient to pay for the sin of the whole world, so that those who believe might be saved. We are God’s pearl. We are God’s treasure. This is the proper way to interpret these two parables.