Angels, Bible Interpretation, Holy Spirit, Indwelling Spirit, Kingdom Life, Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Heaven, Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, Parables, Parables of Jesus
Hello! Welcome to another week and another post on Renaissance Woman!
This week I am continuing in my study on the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares found in Matthew Chapter 13 verses 24-30 and the explanation of said parable found in verses 36-43 of the same Chapter. The explanation of the parable as given by Jesus is this (beginning in verse 37): “He answered and said to them: ‘He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’”
This explanation is interpreted by most Christian denominations as a description of some far off end of time when Jesus returns to earth. Then the believers will be separated from the unbelievers with the believers going to heaven and the unbelievers go into everlasting torment. I can see where this interpretation comes from, especially for those of us who grew up reading the King James Version where the passage about the harvest is translated into English as “the harvest is the end of the world” instead of translating it as “the harvest is the end of the age” as a great many more modern translations have it. I covered “the end of the age” in last week’s post so will only reiterate Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension was a definitive end of an age. With the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, the age of the New Covenant began. I don’t see there is any reason to push off into some vague future the explanation and promises given by Jesus regarding this parable.
There is also no need to think of the “angels” mentioned in Jesus’ explanation as celestial beings. The Greek word is aggelos (G32) and means simply “messenger”. Any person who comes to someone bearing a message from another is an angel. Bike messengers could be called “bike angels” and it wouldn’t be misusing the word. That is not to say the “angels” who appear throughout scripture are not sometimes celestial beings but I am saying we should take care and not assume what a passage of scripture is saying. The pictures formed in our minds will take root and produce fruit. They will affect how we see ourselves, how we see others, and how we behave toward others. Therefore, we must take great care as we seek to interpret and understand passages.
For example; the Book of Revelation contains an angel that is not a celestial being. This angel has guided John through all of his visions and John writes; “Now I, John saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God’” (Rev. 22:8-9). “That’s all well and good,” you might be thinking, “but that’s Revelation and we’re talking about Matthew”. And you would be correct. However, it is important that we compare any interpretation of scripture with other passages of scripture. If there is a conflict or a contradiction, then we must rethink our interpretation.
I find this parable and its explanation are compared to other scriptures when those interpreting it are insisting the wheat and tares are two different types of people and that “burned in the fire” means everlasting torment in hell. What I do not find is this parable and explanation being compared to other scriptures in a positive Christ-alive-in-us now affirming way. What if we look at this parable and its explanation in comparison with the words of Jesus in John 4:35-38?
The passage in John 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! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
Matthew’s gospel records Jesus saying “The harvest truly is plentiful but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Mat. 9:37-38). These words were spoken by Jesus to His disciples just before He sent them to the house of Israel and told them to preach “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”
The message I hear proclaimed as the gospel today is “repent, believe Jesus died for your sins, and you will get to go to heaven when you die.” There is some truth to this but then there was some truth to the Lie told by the Serpent in the Garden of Eden and accepting that lie brought death to all of mankind. I encourage everyone to look for yourself and try to find any passage anywhere that says “go to heaven when you die.” John 3:5 does say, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” There is nothing here about needing to die before entering the kingdom. I have heard some say that being born again means your place in heaven is reserved for after death but that contradicts other passages of scripture.
Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Luke 17:20b-21 records Jesus saying, “The Kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed the Kingdom of God is within you.” The Apostle Paul describes the Kingdom of God as “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). (There is the question which asks whether the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are the same thing: I’ve shared two articles below. I encourage you to ask that question and seek the answer for yourself) The Bible is clear. The message was “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” and with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, it IS ours NOW! I encourage everyone to ask the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of your understanding and then read the New Testament paying close attention to everything it says is ours In Christ now. Today.
I recently came across a book titled The Rapture Exposed by Barbara R. Rossing. In her first chapter, Ms. Rossing writes, “To be sure, God’s presence in our world is often difficult to see. We live in an in-between time-the time between the “already” of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and the “not yet” of his second Coming” (Rossing, Page 12). The New Testament is also clear that all that Jesus did for us by His life, death, and resurrection has resulted in a glorious inheritance of which the Holy Spirit is the down payment (Ephesians 1:14). But what a down payment He is!
What are the limits to this down payment? Are we bound by the interpretation we have been subjected to of both this Parable and Jesus’ explanation? This interpretation tells you the wheat and tares growing in the same field is just the state of things until Jesus returns, there is no harvest until then, the reapers are the angels-meaning celestial beings-and all we can do is wait for the day when we (hopefully) will be gathered into the barn and everyone who is a tare will be burned in hell for all eternity. What if the New Testament is telling us the truth and we can grow up into Him who is the head? What if we truly are being transformed by the renewing of our minds and are, now, being transformed into His image from glory to glory?
I plan to continue to look at this parable and its explanation next week. I hope this post has encouraged to you question everything you have been taught about this parable and its explanation. I pray for all of you and for myself that we would not be cheated of our reward by those who delight in false humility and worship of angels and who intrude into those things which they have not seen, being vainly puffed up by their fleshly minds (Colossians 2:18). Let us all ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes that we would explore the unsearchable riches of Christ and that we would see we have boldness and access with confidence to the Father through our faith in Jesus. May we each one be strengthened in our inner man (or woman!) that we may be able to comprehend what is the width and length and depth and height of everything that is ours in Christ Jesus. Let us each one know the love of Christ which passes knowledge and may we each one be filled (now!) with the fullness of God. (See Ephesians 3:8-19).
Those who have ears to hear, let them hear!
Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982
The Comparative Study Bible, The Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1984
Rossing, Barbara R., The Rapture Exposed, Basic Books, Perseus Books Group, New York, New York, 2004, Page 12
Strong, James, LL,D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990
Are the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven the same?
The Difference Between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven (steppesoffaith.com)
Are the Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven the same? | NeverThirsty
Who was John Darby?
John Nelson Darby | Christian History | Christianity Today
Rapture Doctrine invented by John Darby in 1830 AD (bible.ca)
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