Biblical Greek, Holy Spirit, Indwelling Spirit, Kingdom Life, Kingdom Living, Kingdom of God, Kingdom Within, Parables, Wheat and the Tares, World
Hello Readers! Welcome to the start of a new week and a new post on Renaissance Woman. I am continuing my study of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares and Jesus’ explanation of said Parable. Both are found in the 13th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.
There are two mainstream interpretations of this Parable and the Explanation. These interpretations say the Wheat and the Tares represent Believers and Unbelievers who are left to grow together until Jesus returns. Then the Wheat People/Believers will go to heaven and the Tare People/Unbelievers will go to hell where they will experience eternal torment. These two interpretations differ from each other only in the respect that some say the Wheat and Tares are side by side in the church pews every Sunday while others say the Wheat and Tares grow together in the world.
I’ve shared in previous posts why I don’t think the wheat and tares in the parable do represent two different groups of people. My main point has been that the wheat and tares never convert each other. It is not possible for the wheat to become tares nor for the tares to become wheat. Since the call of both of John the Baptist and Jesus was to Metanoia! Change your mind!, I agree with a third interpretation of this parable and its explanation. Rather than two different groups of people, the wheat and the tares represent thoughts planted in our minds through spiritual influence meaning they are inspired by God Himself or the enemy. The reason I am inclined to this third interpretation is because, as I studied both the parable and the explanation, I found the clincher in Jesus words: “The field is the world.”
Reading Jesus’ explanation in the King James Version can be confusing as Matthew 13:38-40 says; “The field is the world; 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; 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.”
I’ve already shared how the Greek word translated “world” in verses 39 and 40-the harvest at the end of the world and so it shall be in the end of this world-is aion which means “age”. The Greek word translated “world” in verse 38-the field is the world-is kosmos. Without knowing the different Greek words and their meanings, I can understand how the interpretations of wheat and tares growing together in the world until the world ends arose. It’s obvious to any thinking mind the world has not come to an end so Jesus must be talking about some far off future date. Other translations have chosen to use “age” in place of world in these passages but I don’t find it’s had much of an effect on how this parable and Jesus’ explanation is interpreted. I find understanding the difference between aion and kosmos is crucial to understanding this parable and its explanation. Again, I’ve covered aion in previous posts so encourage anyone interested to read those. This week, let us look at kosmos.
The Strong’s Concordance defines kosmos (G2889) as “orderly arrangement, decoration, the world (in a wide or narrow sense including its inhabitants) adorning, world. Kosmos is related to the verb kosmeo (G2885) which means “to put in proper order, decorate, adorn, trim (to snuff a wick)”. The Greek-English Lexicon defines kosmeo as “to put in order so as to appear neat or well organized” and “to cause something to have an attractive appearance through decoration, adorn, decorate”. Indeed, kosmos is translated as “adornment” in 1 Peter 3:3. The word kosmos has a variety of nuances, especially when translated as “world” and the context in which kosmos appears must be carefully considered.
Let us consider a few such passages and substitute back in the Greek. 1 Corinthians 11:32 says, “But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the kosmos.” Galatians 4:3 says, “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the kosmos.” 1 John 5:19 says, “We know we are of God and the whole kosmos lies under the sway of the wicked one.” Reading these passages does not give one a positive sense of the world/kosmos and this is reinforced by 1 John 5:4 where those who are born of God are described as those who “overcome the kosmos.” Kosmos does not seem like a very good thing at all and, bearing this in mind, I can understand why the parable and explanation are interpreted the way they are. If the field is the world/kosmos then it is condemned along with the tares and the wheat people are thus plucked from the field and safely gathered into the barn. I understand the why of the interpretation but I don’t agree with it because kosmos appears in so many more passages.
John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the kosmos that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting (aionios) life. For God did not send His Son into the kosmos to condemn the kosmos, but that the kosmos through Him might be saved.” John 4:42: “…we know this this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the kosmos.” John 6:33: “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the kosmos.” 2 Corinthians 5:19: “…God was in Christ reconciling the kosmos to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them…” and finally 1 John 2:2: “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole kosmos.”
There are so many other passages containing kosmos and I don’t have the space to quote them all. I encourage everyone to get a good reference and look up the passages for yourself. I have the New Koine Greek Textbook because it lists every instance of a Greek word, regardless of how it has been translated in English. I find the Strong’s Concordance to be invaluable but it is tied to the King James Version of the Bible so only those passages where kosmos was translated “world” were easily searchable. I do hope the few passages I have shared reveal to you, as they did to me, that when we return to the parable and its explanation, it is obvious the wheat and the tares are not describing people in the sense that the Wheat represent believers and the Tares unbelievers. The field is the kosmos. Jesus did not give Himself for wheat and tares: He gave Himself for the field.
Now, I do accept the wheat and tares represent people in the sense that who and what we allow to influence our minds i.e. planting seeds which grow to fruition, do determine what sort of people we are because, paraphrasing Proverbs 23:7; as we think in our hearts, so are we. Yet I do believe the wheat and the tares are describing the thoughts of God and the thoughts sown by the devil. Mark 8:33 records Jesus saying to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” The New English Bible renders this as, “‘Away with you, Satan,’ he said; ‘you think as men think, not as God thinks.” This is just one passage but it shows our minds are capable of hosting thoughts that stem from different sources.
Our thoughts are so important. It is crucial that we are vigilant and take great care just who we are allowing to sow into the fields of our minds. However, just because we have had moments where the fruit of our lives have been tares mixed with the wheat does not mean we are condemned to have both continue to grow inside of us until some far off future time when Jesus comes back to earth. The word Paul uses is aion but his message in Romans 12:2 is the same: we ought not to be conformed to this world but are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Jesus Christ is the consummation of the ages and, because we are in Him, we are being transformed into His image. We undergo several “harvests” and each one is an opportunity to recognize any tares that might have grown and just who sowed them.
The fire is already kindled in the earth and we can consign our tares to it and trust our fields will only yield wheat. Perhaps the occasional tare sneaks in from time to time but that does not change that Jesus is the savior of the world and, “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). The 10th Chapter of Hebrews goes on to quote Jeremiah 31:33: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them.” This echoes the promise given in Ezekiel 36:24-28. His Spirit is in us. The day of a new heart and mind, a healthy field, good ground, is now.
I do not say there is not an experience of processing. There is and this transformation into His image is from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). The truth remains we are being transformed and His image is clearer every day. Let us not look at other people as wheat or tares but let us look at them as a precious field for which Jesus shed His blood and has sown the good seeds of His life. Let us not look at ourselves as those with no other option but to have wheat and tares growing together in the fields of our lives. Let us not stagnate. Let us instead, keep our hearts with all diligence and trust His word is true: We are those who are born of God therefore we do not sin but we keep ourselves and the wicked one does not touch us (1 John 5:18).
What a glorious promise! Believe it!
Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982
World – Kosmos (Greek Word Study) | Precept Austin
Matthew 13 – Barclay’s Daily Study Bible – Bible Commentaries – StudyLight.org
KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES: THE FIRSTFRUITS, THE HARVEST, AND THE VINTAGE by J. Preston Eby (godfire.net)
The Comparative Study Bible, The Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1984
The New Testament in Four Versions, Christianity Today Edition, The Iversen-Ford Associates, New York, New York, 1963
Danker, Frederick William, Walter Bauer’s A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Early Christian Literature, Third Edition, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1957, 2000
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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