The parable of the yeast (Mt 13:33-13:33)

“He told them another parable.

‘The kingdom of heaven is

Like yeast

That a woman took.

She mixed in

Three measures of flour,

Until all of it was leavened.’”

 

Ἄλλην παραβολὴν ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν ζύμῃ, ἣν λαβοῦσα γυνὴ ἐνέκρυψεν εἰς ἀλεύρου σάτα τρία, ἕως οὗ ἐζυμώθη ὅλον.

 

This parable about the yeast in bread can be found in in Luke, chapter 13:20, indicating a Q source.  Once again, the emphasis of this parable is growth from a small piece of flour to a large leavened loaf of bread because of the yeast.  Jesus, via Matthew, told them another short parable (Ἄλλην παραβολὴν ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς).  The kingdom of heaven is like yeast (Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν ζύμῃ).  A woman mixed in three measures of flour (ἣν λαβοῦσα γυνὴ ἐνέκρυψεν εἰς ἀλεύρου σάτα τρία,) so that the bread was all leavened (ἕως οὗ ἐζυμώθη ὅλον).  The kingdom of heaven will be like this leavened bread, always expanding.

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The parable of the mustard seed (Mt 13:31-13:32)

“Jesus presented them

Another parable.

‘The kingdom of heaven is

Like a mustard seed.

Someone took it.

He sowed in his field.

It is the smallest of all seeds.

But when it has grown,

It is the greatest of shrubs.

It becomes a tree,

So that the birds of the air

Come.

They make nests

In its branches.’”

 

Ἄλλην παραβολὴν παρέθηκεν αὐτοῖς λέγων Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν κόκκῳ σινάπεως, ὃν λαβὼν ἄνθρωπος ἔσπειρεν ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ αὐτοῦ·

ὃ μικρότερον μέν ἐστιν πάντων τῶν σπερμάτων, ὅταν δὲ αὐξηθῇ, μεῖζον τῶν λαχάνων ἐστὶν καὶ γίνεται δένδρον, ὥστε ἐλθεῖν τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ κατασκηνοῖν ἐν τοῖς κλάδοις αὐτοῦ.

 

This parable of the mustard seed can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:30-32, and Luke, chapter 13:18-19.  The mustard seed was the symbol of small things.  However, it could grow to become a tree or shrub where birds could nest.  There is no explanation of this parable except the clear indication that the kingdom of heaven may start out small but would grow to hold many people.  Jesus, via Matthew, explicitly presented them with another short parable (Ἄλλην παραβολὴν παρέθηκεν αὐτοῖς λέγων).  He said that the kingdom of heaven was like a mustard seed (Ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν κόκκῳ σινάπεως).  A man planted this seed in his field (ὃν λαβὼν ἄνθρωπος ἔσπειρεν ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ αὐτοῦ).  When planted, it is the smallest of all seeds (ὃ μικρότερον μέν ἐστιν πάντων τῶν σπερμάτων).  But when it has grown, it is the greatest of garden plants or shrubs (ὅταν δὲ αὐξηθῇ, μεῖζον τῶν λαχάνων).   It then becomes a tree (καὶ γίνεται δένδρον).  Thus, the birds of the air could come and perch or build nests in its branches (ὥστε ἐλθεῖν τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ κατασκηνοῖν ἐν τοῖς κλάδοις αὐτοῦ).  What starts out small can become quite large.

Separate at harvest time (Mt 13:28-13:30)

“The householder answered.

‘An enemy has done this.’

The slaves or servants said to him.

`Then do you want us to go

And gather them?’

But he replied.

‘No!

In gathering the weeds,

You would uproot the wheat

Along with them.

Let both of them grow together

Until the harvest.

At harvest time,

I will tell the reapers,

‘Collect the weeds first!

Bind them in bundles to be burned!

But gather the wheat into my barn.’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτοῖς Ἐχθρὸς ἄνθρωπος τοῦτο ἐποίησεν. οἱ δὲ δοῦλοι αὐτῷ λέγουσιν Θέλεις οὖν ἀπελθόντες συλλέξωμεν αὐτά;

ὁ δέ φησιν Οὔ, μή ποτε συλλέγοντες τὰ ζιζάνια ἐκριζώσητε ἅμα αὐτοῖς τὸν σῖτον·

ἄφετε συναυξάνεσθαι ἀμφότερα ἕως τοῦ θερισμοῦ· καὶ ἐν καιρῷ τοῦ θερισμοῦ ἐρῶ τοῖς θερισταῖς Συλλέξατε πρῶτον τὰ ζιζάνια καὶ δήσατε αὐτὰ εἰς δέσμας πρὸς τὸ κατακαῦσαι αὐτά, τὸν δὲ σῖτον συναγάγετε εἰς τὴν ἀποθήκην μου.

 

There is no equivalent to this parable in the other synoptic gospels.   Only Matthew has this parable about the good seed and the weeds.  The head of the house answered his slaves or servants (ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτοῖς).  He said that an unnamed enemy had done this (Ἐχθρὸς ἄνθρωπος τοῦτο ἐποίησεν).  The slaves or servants wanted to know what to do (οἱ δὲ δοῦλοι αὐτῷ λέγουσιν Θέλεις).  Did he want them to gather up the weeds (οὖν ἀπελθόντες συλλέξωμεν αὐτά)?  The head of the house said no (ὁ δέ φησιν Οὔ).  He was afraid that they would uproot the wheat along with the weeds (μή ποτε συλλέγοντες τὰ ζιζάνια ἐκριζώσητε ἅμα αὐτοῖς τὸν σῖτον).  Instead he wanted both of them to grow together until the harvest time (ἄφετε συναυξάνεσθαι ἀμφότερα ἕως τοῦ θερισμοῦ).  Then he would tell the harvest reapers to collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned (καὶ ἐν καιρῷ τοῦ θερισμοῦ ἐρῶ τοῖς θερισταῖς Συλλέξατε πρῶτον τὰ ζιζάνια καὶ δήσατε αὐτὰ εἰς δέσμας πρὸς τὸ κατακαῦσαι αὐτά).  Then, they were to gather the wheat grains into his barn (τὸν δὲ σῖτον συναγάγετε εἰς τὴν ἀποθήκην μου).  There was no explanation of this parable, but the sense is that the good and bad should live together until the harvest end times, when the bad would be burned.

The slaves or servants talk about the weeds (Mt 13:27-13:27)

“The slaves or servants

Of the householder

Came to him.

They said.

‘Lord!

Did you not sow good seed

In your field?

Then where

Did these weeds come from?’”

 

προσελθόντες δὲ οἱ δοῦλοι τοῦ οἰκοδεσπότου εἶπον αὐτῷ Κύριε, οὐχὶ καλὸν σπέρμα ἔσπειρας ἐν τῷ σῷ ἀγρῷ; πόθεν οὖν ἔχει ζιζάνια;

 

There is no equivalent to this parable in the other synoptic gospels.   Only Matthew has this parable about the good seed and the weeds.  The slaves or servants of this master householder came to him (προσελθόντες δὲ οἱ δοῦλοι τοῦ οἰκοδεσπότου).  They asked the lord of the house if he had not sown good seeds in his field (εἶπον αὐτῷ Κύριε, οὐχὶ καλὸν σπέρμα ἔσπειρας ἐν τῷ σῷ ἀγρῷ;).  They wanted to know where did all these weeds come from (πόθεν οὖν ἔχει ζιζάνια)?  There was no question that this was the master of the house who had slaves or servants (οἱ δοῦλοι) working for him.  They even called him the master of the house “lord” (Κύριε).  However, they were very concerned about the weeds in the grain field.

 

The weeds among the wheat (Mt 13:25-13:26)

“But while everyone was asleep,

An enemy came.

He sowed weeds

Among the wheat.

Then he went away.

Thus,

When the plants came up,

They bore grain.

Then the weeds appeared as well.”

 

ἐν δὲ τῷ καθεύδειν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἦλθεν αὐτοῦ ὁ ἐχθρὸς καὶ ἐπέσπειρεν ζιζάνια ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ σίτου καὶ ἀπῆλθεν.

ὅτε δὲ ἐβλάστησεν ὁ χόρτος καὶ καρπὸν ἐποίησεν, τότε ἐφάνη καὶ τὰ ζιζάνια.

 

There is no equivalent to this parable in the other synoptic gospels.   Only Matthew has this parable about the good seed and the weeds.  As with all good stories, a protagonist unnamed enemy appeared, who might have been the evil one or the devil but is only called an enemy here.  While everyone was asleep (ἐν δὲ τῷ καθεύδειν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους), their unnamed enemy came and went away (ἦλθεν αὐτοῦ ὁ ἐχθρὸς… καὶ ἀπῆλθεν).  However, this enemy “ἐχθρὸς” sowed weeds among and in the middle of the good wheat seeds (καὶ ἐπέσπειρεν ζιζάνια ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ σίτου).  When the wheat plants sprouted (ὅτε δὲ ἐβλάστησεν ὁ χόρτος) and produced grain (καὶ καρπὸν ἐποίησεν), the weeds appeared as well (τότε ἐφάνη καὶ τὰ ζιζάνια).  Thus, the wheat and the weeds grew together.

The good seed (Mt 13:24-13:24)

“He put before them

Another parable.

‘The kingdom of heaven

May be compared

To someone

Who sowed good seed

In his field.’”

 

Ἄλλην παραβολὴν παρέθηκεν αὐτοῖς λέγων Ὡμοιώθη ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν ἀνθρώπῳ σπείραντι καλὸν σπέρμα ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ αὐτοῦ.

 

There is no equivalent to this parable in the other synoptic gospels.  Only Matthew has this parable about the good seed and the weeds.  Jesus, via Matthew, presented them with another parable (Ἄλλην παραβολὴν παρέθηκεν αὐτοῖς λέγων), explicitly saying that this was a parable.  The kingdom of heaven could be compared (Ὡμοιώθη ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν) to a man who sowed good seed in his field (ἀνθρώπῳ σπείραντι καλὸν σπέρμα ἐν τῷ ἀγρῷ αὐτοῦ).  Once again there is an emphasis on the good seed as the word about the kingdom.  Sowing good seed was a common theme.

Explanation of the seeds on the good soil (Mt 13:23-13:23)

“As for what was sown

On good soil,

This is the one

Who hears the word

And understands it.

He indeed bears fruit.

He yields,

In one case a hundredfold,

In another sixtyfold,

And in another thirtyfold.”

 

ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ τὴν καλὴν γῆν σπαρείς, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων καὶ συνιείς, ὃς δὴ καρποφορεῖ καὶ ποιεῖ ὃ μὲν ἑκατὸν ὃ δὲ ἑξήκοντα ὃ δὲ τριάκοντα.

 

This explanation of the sower parable about the good seeds can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 4:20, and Luke, chapter 8:15, with Matthew closer to Mark.  As for what was sown on good soil (ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ τὴν καλὴν γῆν σπαρείς), these are the people who hear the word of the kingdom and understand it (οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ τὸν λόγον ἀκούων καὶ συνιείς).  They then bear good fruit (ὃς δὴ καρποφορεῖ).  They yield either a hundredfold (καὶ ποιεῖ ὃ μὲν ἑκατὸν), sixtyfold (ὃ δὲ ἑξήκοντα), or thirtyfold (ὃ δὲ τριάκοντα).  Only about 25% of the seeds sown were effective.  Thus, only about 25% of the people hearing the word of the kingdom will follow it.  There had to be good circumstances or pre-depositions to hearing and understanding for the word or the seed to be effective.  The seeds or the word that fell on the path, on the rocky ground, or the thorns were ineffective.  However, even among the effective seeds that were on good soil, the word would have different results.  Some would yield 100 times, some 60, and some 30.  There was no magic formula.  The circumstances among the good hearers would also bring about a variety of responses and effectiveness.