Rejection Imagery in the Synoptic Parables -- By: Karl E. Pagenkemper

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 153:611 (Jul 1996)
Article: Rejection Imagery in the Synoptic Parables
Author: Karl E. Pagenkemper

Rejection Imagery in the Synoptic Parables

Karl E. Pagenkemper

[Karl E. Pagenkemper is Associate Professor of New Testament Studies, International School of Theology, Arrowhead Springs, California.]

[This is article two in a two-part series.]

The first article in this two-part series looked at imagery from Jesus’ parables in the Synoptic Gospels that point to an eschatological rejection (thus the so-called “rejection” motif). Seven elements of imagery were examined: (1) “the furnace of fire,” (2) the phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” (3) the imagery of “outer darkness,” (4) the motif of the shut door, (5) the phrase “I do not know you” (and its variations), (6) the verb διχοτομέω, and (7) the nature of the rejection for those servants who did not invest their talents or minas. In each case the rejection signified not simply a rejection from some of the privileges of the kingdom, but rather a complete rejection from the coming eschatological kingdom. The ones rejected did not have any connection with the salvation Jesus offered.

This article discusses the criteria on which the eschatological judgments themselves are made. That is, what criteria did the master or king in each of these parables employ to determine ultimate (i.e., eschatological) rejection or acceptance?

Two Key Parables in Matthew 13

The point of the parables of the Wheat and Tares and of the Dragnet in Matthew 13 is to teach about the nature of the kingdom of heaven and its mysteries.1 An issue these parables address is

that evil people are still mixed in with the true “sons of the kingdom,” and evil continues even though Christ, the Son of David has come.2 At the future cataclysmic entrance of the kingdom, the Messiah will sift human society and deal with evil. This clearly has not happened yet. The New Testament and its contemporary Jewish literature agree that judgment is certain and that the consummation of the kingdom will come in the future when this fallen age finally concludes and the kingdom will be manifest in universal power.3

The Parables of the Tares

The parable of the Tares presents a man sowing wheat seed only to find that what grew was not simply wheat but also tares.4 A

hint to identifying the tares is offered in the parable (w...

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