The Parable of the Sower and the Soils -- By: Mark L. Bailey

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 155:618 (Apr 1998)
Article: The Parable of the Sower and the Soils
Author: Mark L. Bailey

The Parable of the Sower and the Soils*

Mark L. Bailey

Mark L. Bailey is Vice President for Academic Affairs, Academic Dean, and Professor of Bible Exposition, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.

* This is article two in an eight-part series, “The Kingdom in the Parables of Matthew 13.”

Matthew 13, the third of Jesus’ five major discourses in Matthew, includes the Lord’s address to the crowds (vv. 1–35) and His address to the disciples (vv. 36–52). This chapter contains His presentation of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven which He revealed in response to the Jewish leaders’ rejection of Him (12:1–45). This section focuses on the new and unexpected phase of the kingdom of heaven, as will be demonstrated in the articles in this series.

The word “parable” does not occur in Matthew until chapter 13. Kingsbury sees this as significant in that before chapter 13 Jesus spoke to the Jews openly. (The word “parable” occurs twelve times in chapter 13 and only five times thereafter.) The parables in Matthew 13 were given in some measure as an apology against the Jews for their rejection of Christ.1 This chapter is a great turning point in Matthew’s presentation. Jesus was preaching and teaching the kingdom to the Jews (4:17, 23; 9:35; 11:1), but they rejected Him. In reaction to this rejection Jesus presented the parables to show them they were no longer the privileged people to whom God would impart His revelation, but instead they were in danger of being judged by the Son of Man for having spurned their Messiah.2 As Maier observes, “The parables portray a breach between Jesus and Israel widening to a breaking point. The very fact that Jesus now withdraws into a parabolic form of teaching is a sign of judgment upon Israel.”3

The Structure of Matthew 13

Each of the two sections in Matthew 13 (vv. 1–35<...

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