Bible Study, Biblical Greek, Harvest, Holy Spirit, Indwelling Spirit, Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Heaven, New Covenant, Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, Parables of Jesus
Hello and welcome-or welcome back-to Renaissance Woman where, this week, I continue to look at the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.
This parable is found in Matthew 13:24-30. This same chapter of Matthew records Jesus giving an explanation of the parable in verses 37-43. I asked several questions in last week’s post and the one I am focusing on this week is what did Jesus mean when He said the harvest is at the end of the age? There are two main interpretations of this parable in Christian circles and both say the “end of the age” as recorded in verse 39 is referencing a future date when Jesus returns and His angels reap. I disagree. For one thing, I don’t agree the wheat and the tares are referring to two different types of people because there is no possibility of conversion between wheat and tare: one cannot become the other. Knowing this, it makes no sense that the call made by both Jesus and John the Baptist is “Metanoia!” which means “Think differently!” or “Change your mind!”. I agree with the interpretation of this parable by Dora Van Assen shared by J. Preston Eby in his The Firstfruits, The Harvest, and the Vintage article which I have linked below.
Ms. Van Assen points out that the wheat and the tares did not convert one another and then says she “saw this was not a parable on soul-saving, nor was it an exhortation to scare the heathen or sinning Christians in the church into a conversion, but it was a parable dealing with the inner thought life of the believer himself.” She goes on to say that the context of the parable shows that Jesus was uttering things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world (Mat. 13:35) and then says she believes this parable is a picture of what happened in the Garden of Eden. God created mankind and said they were very good but then the enemy enters the garden and sows seeds of the Lie in the minds of our ancestors. The owner of the field does not allow the bad seed to be yanked out of the ground but rather lets both grow together in the same field, lest the good seed be damaged and the fruit of it lost. Thus was and has been the state of the carnal mind throughout the generations. Ms. Van Assen says, “The harvest reveals what sort of seed was planted in our earth, and how they have matured in areas of our lives. Only the mature know the difference! And only by harvest conditions can the Lord bring the separation.”
Mr. Eby is quoting Ms. Van Assen’s interpretation within the context of Revelation 14:15-16 and says, “When the Son of man as the crowned Reaper sends His sickle into the earth, all things will have come to full maturity. The age has witnessed the sowing and growth and development of the Son of man, and also the sowing of the adversary, and there has been no conclusive divine dealing on earth to make manifest the judgment of God as to what has resulted. But the harvest is the end of the age!”
What Mr. Eby is saying here makes perfect sense because who can deny there doesn’t appear to have been any sort of definitive harvest. History records great and terrible evils done since Jesus’ birth, death, resurrection, and ascension so it follows that the “end of the age” in Matthew 13:39 is referring to some future date. However, I have found there is enough evidence that the “end of the age” in this passage is referring to the age that ended with Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and the giving of the Holy Spirit. There are two passages in the book of Hebrews that come to mind. The first is Hebrews 1:1-2 which states, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.”
The Greek word translated as “worlds” in this passage is aion (G165) and means “an age.” This is a complicated word in the way it has been translated throughout the Bible and is one of the reasons why I suggest everyone who wants to understand what the Bible is really saying get an Interlinear Bible. The word appears in Jesus’ interpretation of the wheat and tares parable in Matthew 13. I am going to quote verses 38-40 from the King James Version and include the Greek words for every English occurrence of the word “world”.
“The field is the world (kosmos); the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world (aion); and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world (aion).” Reading this in the King James, I can understand why the major interpretations of this parable say this is speaking about a future date when the world is brought to an end because it is obvious the world has not ended. Other Bible translations have tried to do a better job: the NKJV, Amplified, New American Standard and New International versions all have “age” as a translation for aion but I haven’t seen that these more accurate translations have had much effect on how this parable has been interpreted.
The truth is something much deeper. My second scripture from the book of Hebrews is 9:26 which states, “…but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” The Scriptures are clear. The coming of Jesus in human flesh, His life here on earth, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, and the pouring out of His Spirit at Pentecost all heralded the end and consummation of the ages. There is no reason to think either the parable of the wheat and the tares or the explanation given is describing a state that is continuing on until some future date.
All four gospels record Jesus mentioning the harvest as being ready, ripe, plentiful, and immediate. Matthew 9:35-38 records Jesus saying to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” John 4:35 says, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” Luke 10:2 says, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Mark 4:29 speaks of the ripe harvest within the context of a different parable but says, “…the harvest has come.”
The Book of Acts records times of great harvest. One the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on those gathered together, “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41). Acts 4:4 record the number of those who believed coming to be about five thousand.
I believe the scripture record is clear: Jesus was manifested in the consummation of the ages. There was a great harvest recorded in the book of Acts and I don’t deny there is something greater coming. “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19). I do expect something incredible at the end of this age and I don’t quibble with it being referred to as a harvest. What I do quibble with is the idea that there is only one harvest and it has yet to happen.
If the “harvest at the end of the age” mentioned in Matthew 13:39 is indeed some far off future date then there is no hope for the Christian life except stagnation. If the wheat and tares representative of thoughts sown in the fields of our hearts and minds, then they both are growing together and there is nothing to be done about it until that far off future date. I don’t see this is the message of the New Testament. We are to be “transformed through the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2). We are to grow up into the Head, that is Christ (Ephesians 4:15). We are transformed from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Jesus told his disciples His Father was honored and glorified when they produced much fruit (John 15:8). He also said the branch that abides in Him would bear much fruit and that every branch that bore fruit would be pruned that it would bear more fruit (See John 15:1-2).
In 1 Corinthians 10:11, Paul describes us as the people “on whom the end of the ages (aion) has come”. Jesus was manifested at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself but not only to put away sin: He came so that we would have life and that more abundantly (John 10:10). One of the names of Jesus given in Isaiah 9:6 is “everlasting Father”. That would be better translated “Father of the Ages” and, again, Hebrews 1:2 states Jesus is the one through whom God made the aions. Ephesians 1:9-11 states the mystery of the will of God is that in the fullness of time all things are to be consummated in Christ and that we have obtained an inheritance in Him.
In Christ. All things were created through Him and for Him, He is before all things and in Him all things consist (Colossians 1:16-17). We believers know that we abide in Him and He in us because of the Holy Spirit (1 John 4:13). This is the truth now. We experience time in a linear fashion and so it is easy to look at our daily lives and think we must continue on as we are until some far off future date. We don’t. We are in Christ. Our lives bear fruit now. The harvest was not some one-time thing in the first days of the early church nor is it something reserved for some far off future. Every age, past present and future, has its consummation in Christ.
There is still so much to be gleaned from this parable and so I plan to continue studying it next week. Until then, may the eyes of our understanding continued to be enlightened that we see we are in Christ and it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us. He is the one who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, and will also supply and multiply the seed we have sown and will increase the fruits of our righteousness (2 Corinthians 9:10).
Kindgdom Bible Studies Revelation Series (kingdombiblestudies.org)
The Comparative Study Bible, The Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1984
Green, Jay P. Sr., The Interlinear Bible, Volume 4, Authors For Christ, Inc., Lafayette, Indiana, 1976, 1985
Strong, James, LL,D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990
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