Parables of Jesus

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Bobcat
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Parables of Jesus

#1 Post by Bobcat » 6 years ago

Index to Parables in This Thread

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I entitled this thread broadly so that it might be useful for discussions and links on all of Jesus' parables. But my initial intent is to provide some references for research to the first two study articles in the December 2014 Study WT magazine.

The first article addresses four parables: The parable of the mustard seed (Mt 13:31, 32; Mk 4: 30-32; Lu 13:18, 19), the parable of the leaven (Mt 13:33; Lu 13:20, 21), the parable of the hidden treasure (Mt 13:44), and the parable of the pearl of high value (Mt 13:45, 46)

For the parables of the mustard seed and leaven, there is a three page write-up in the NICNT-Matthew commentary (R. T. France, pp. 526-28). Google books offers a preview of the commentary that includes these three pages. It can be seen here.

To access the material, follow these directions: Once at the link, there is a drop down list button entitled "Front Cover." Click on it and scroll down until you find the page number "526" on the right of the list. This will take you to page 526. The material with ample footnotes is located on pages 526-28.

The commentary on the parables of the hidden treasure and pearl are found on pages 538-42. They are also included in the Google preview of the commentary. Access them the same way as instructed above for the other two parables.

Hope you find the material quite enlightening. Or, I should say, the commentary offers a broader view of these parables in contrast with the rather myopic view offered in the WT. Additionally, you will be following the magazines' encouragement to do your research.

Incidentally, this commentary was first published in 2007 and is considered by many to be the 'gold standard' of Matthew commentaries. But it was developed from a previous commentary by R. T. France on Matthew (The Gospel According to Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary; InterVarsity Press, 1985). He also has an extensive Markan commentary in the NIGTC series of commentaries, as well as extensive translational experience.

Bobcat

Index to Parables in This Thread

Bobcat
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Re: Parables of Jesus - Hidden Treasure & Valuable Pearl

#2 Post by Bobcat » 6 years ago

I wanted to comment on one point in the WT Study for 2/8/15.

The WT comments on a possible contrast between the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of high value. In paragraph 17 the magazine states:
17 Why did Jesus give those two parables? He was showing that the truth is found in different ways. Some people are searching for it and have gone to great lengths to find it. Others, although not searching for it, have found it—perhaps by having it brought to them. . .
I'm wondering if this distinction between the two parables is really valid:

In the parable of the hidden treasure, "the Kingdom of the heavens is like a treasure, hidden in the field, that a man found and hid" (Mt 13:44 rNWT).

In the parable of the pearl of high value, "the Kingdom of the heavens is like a traveling merchant seeking fine pearls. 46 Upon finding one pearl of high value, he went away and promptly sold all the things he had and bought it" (Mt 13:45, 46 rNWT).

In the one parable the man finds a treasure and hides it with the intent of procuring it for himself. There is no description of what led him to find it in the first place. In the second parable the merchant was seeking "fine pearls" (note plural). It does not say he was seeking only the one ultimate pearl. But like the man who found the treasure, he recognizes its value and moves to procure it for himself. In both cases, the finding of the hid treasure and the finding of the pearl of great value, the find seems to have an element of stumbling upon an unexpected find.

That's IMO anyways. Maybe further reflection will cause me to reach a different conclusion.


Bobcat

Index to Parables

Bobcat
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Re: Parables of Jesus - Mustard Seed & Leaven

#3 Post by Bobcat » 6 years ago

For any interested in some WT history, the Society used to explain the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven quite differently from the way they do now.

For example:

*** sl chap. 12 p. 207 par. 5 Christendom and Judaism Now Facing Desolation ***

In this parable [of the mustard seed], Jesus Christ was referring to “the kingdom of the heavens” with its counterfeit in mind.

*** sl chap. 12 pp. 208-209 pars. 7-8 Christendom and Judaism Now Facing Desolation ***

So Jesus Christ well knew that true Christianity, “the kingdom of the heavens,” was not to become a figurative “tree,” on the branches of which the birds could lodge or under which they could find ample shadow. In the earlier parable on the four types of soil upon which the fine seed, picturing the “word of the kingdom,” is sown, Jesus brought birds into the picture. Whom did he explain those “birds” to be like? “The wicked one,” “the Devil.” That is to say, the earthly agents of the wicked Devil. (Matthew 13:1-8, 18-23; Luke 8:4-8, 11-15) Mark 4:15 calls him Satan. Reasonably, then, birds mentioned in the same context, in the same series of parables, would picture similar things. So the birds that find lodging in the mustard tree would picture the agents of the “wicked one,” “Satan the Devil.” They would correspond with the “weeds,” the imitation wheat, in the parable of the wheat and the weeds. They are the “sons of the wicked one.”

8 It is the fake “kingdom of the heavens,” the counterfeit, namely, Christendom, that is filled with these symbolic birds, “the sons of the wicked one.” Today it is big enough to hold them all. In the parable, the “man” that sowed the mustard grain pictures the “wicked one,” Satan the Devil. Outstandingly in the fourth century C.E. Satan the Devil planted or specially cultivated this symbolic “mustard grain” of contaminated, adulterated, imitation Christianity. He did so by then using a man who became the leading politician of the Roman Empire, namely, Constantine the Great. In 312 C.E. this bloodstained army man professed to be converted to Christianity, really, though, to the apostate Christianity of his day as professed by soldiers in the army. This ambitious man conquered his political rivals and gained the position of emperor of the Roman Empire. In this capacity he acted as the Pontifex Maximus or chief priest of the pagan Roman religion. He held onto this pagan religious title and position and authority despite claiming to be a Christian.

A similar view was held for the parable of the leaven:

*** sl chap. 12 pp. 209-210 pars. 10-11 Christendom and Judaism Now Facing Desolation ***

10 According to Matthew 13:33, immediately after the parable of the mustard grain Jesus Christ gave another illustration to show something further about the imitation “kingdom of the heavens.” We read: “Another illustration he spoke to them: ‘The kingdom of the heavens is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three large measures of flour, until the whole mass was fermented.’” (Also, Luke 13:18-21) How, now, has this illustration been fulfilled?

11 Leaven, in Bible times, was a piece of sour dough that had been preserved and that was added to a new batch of dough to make it ferment and form gas bubbles that would leaven or lighten the whole mass. The fermentation is really a breaking-down process, a corrupting, so that it often causes spoilage. For this reason it is generally used in the Holy Scriptures in a bad way figuratively. For instance, the unbelieving Pharisees and Sadducees were purveyors of spiritual leaven, regarding which Jesus told his disciples: “Watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” The disciples grasped this to mean the “teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:6-12) According to Luke 12:1, Jesus told his disciples: “Watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” This doctrinal and ritualistic leaven could also have a political tinge, as represented by the Jewish party followers of King Herod; so that Jesus said: “Keep your eyes open, look out for the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”—Mark 8:15.

It wasn't until the 2008 7/15 WT that these interpretations were changed to what the WT understands them now. It should be noted that in the 2014 WT Library the Insight article on "Illustrations" has been rewritten to this updated understanding. If you want to see how the Insight volume described it previously you will have to view the 2013 or prior WT Library.

Another interesting feature of the older WT understanding of these parables is that the WT was not the originator of these ideas (of the mustard seed and leaven parables referring to a fake kingdom of the heavens). W. E. Vine held to these ideas in his famous Expository Dictionary. See here (mustard) and here (leaven) for his views which date back to the 1930s and 40s.


Bobcat

Index to Parables

Bobcat
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Re: Parables of Jesus - The Sheep & Goats

#4 Post by Bobcat » 6 years ago

I posted an analysis of the sheep & goats parable earlier on this website. The following links go to that research:

The parable within its overall context of Jesus' parousia (Mt 24:36-25:46) and possible links to other related verses such as Rev 3:10 & Zech 14:16: Here and here.

The phrases "least of these my brothers" (Mt 25:40) and "these least ones" (Mt 25:45): Here.

More commentary on who Jesus' brothers in the parable is referring to: Here.

A Scripture listing of verses describing who Jesus' "brothers" are: Here

That the great crowd could not be among those saying, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you . . . " (Mt 25:37 NWT): Here.

Some background concerning sheep and goats: Here.

The sheep & goats parable in connection with the subject of Armageddon: Here.


Bobcat

Index to Parables

leaving_quietly
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Re: Parables of Jesus

#5 Post by leaving_quietly » 6 years ago

Thanks, Bobcat... I'll be reading your research later. While I was "studying" the WT for today (sadly, I still have to go to mtgs), I posted the "what we used to believe" stuff on JWN. I'll post here for the benefit of others reading this thread:

Today's WT Study, from the December 15, 2014, is based on Mark 7:14, which says:

So calling the crowd to him again, he said to them: “Listen to me, all of you, and understand the meaning.


The two words at the end, "the meaning", are not found in the Greek. The statement should read: "Listen to me, all of you, and understand."

Also, this is another example of cherry-picking a verse and pulling it out of context, using it to apply to something else entirely. The original context is this (Mark 7:1-15):

Now the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him. 2 And they saw some of his disciples eat their meal with defiled hands, that is, unwashed ones. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands up to the elbow, clinging to the tradition of the men of former times, 4 and when they come from the market, they do not eat unless they wash themselves. There are many other traditions that they have received and cling to, such as baptisms of cups, pitchers, and copper vessels.) 5 So these Pharisees and scribes asked him: “Why do your disciples not observe the tradition of the men of former times, but they eat their meal with defiled hands?” 6 He said to them: “Isaiah aptly prophesied about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far removed from me. 7 It is in vain that they keep worshipping me, for they teach commands of men as doctrines.’ 8 You let go of the commandment of God and cling to the tradition of men.”
9 Further, he said to them: “You skillfully disregard the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10 For example, Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Let the one who speaks abusively of his father or mother be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother: “Whatever I have that could benefit you is corban (that is, a gift dedicated to God),”’ 12 you no longer let him do a single thing for his father or his mother. 13 Thus you make the word of God invalid by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like this.” 14 So calling the crowd to him again, he said to them: “Listen to me, all of you, and understand the meaning. 15 Nothing from outside a man that enters into him can defile him; but the things that come out of a man are the things that defile him.”


What did the mustard grain used to represent? Today it represents the Kingdom message and the Christian congregation. Back in 1975, this wasn't the case.
All things taken into account, it is apparent that the symbolic mustard-seed “tree” of today is the counterfeit “kingdom of the heavens,” namely, Christendom, with her clergy lording it over the laity. The full-grown “tree” could not consistently picture the remnant on earth today of the sealed spiritual Israelites, for these are merely a fraction, not the full numerical growth of the 144,000 Kingdom heirs. In fact, for more than twenty-seven years the spiritual remnant has been getting fewer in number. At the Memorial celebration of 1975 their number had dropped to 10,454.
-- w75 10/1 p. 598 par. 11

What did the leaven represent? Today, "the whole mass" represents all the nations, and the fermenting represents the spread of the Kingdom message by means of the preaching work. In 1975...
Today, what permeates the whole mass of the churches of Christendom? True Bible teaching and structure and procedure and observance? No! It is the fusion religion that Pontifex Maximus Constantine promoted, in which the Babylonish doctrines and procedures are the fundamental things rather than the teachings of God’s inspired Holy Word. Constantine was the one who as presiding officer of the Council of Nicaea settled the dispute over the personality and attributes of Jehovah God by ruling in favor of the Babylonish doctrine of the Trinity. Jesus Christ foretold this process of corrupting Christian doctrine and practice by giving the parable of the leaven. He said: “The kingdom of the heavens is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three large measures of flour, until the whole mass was fermented.”—Matt. 13:33.
9 The fermentation of the whole mass of Christendom has now had sixteen centuries of time in which to take place. Who can deny that Christendom is completely leavened today by the corrupting influence of Babylonish doctrine and worldliness and Nimrod-like defiance of the universal sovereignty of Jehovah God? This corrupting of the tremendous mass of Christendom’s imitation “sons of the kingdom” has made the false earthly “kingdom of God” an excellent place for the agents of Satan the Devil to take refuge in, like the “birds of heaven” lodging among the branches of the full-grown mustard-seed tree.—Matt. 13:31, 32.
--w75 10/1 p. 597 pars 8, 9

What about traveling merchant who found a treasure? What about the man seeking fine pearls? Today, the traveling merchant represents "righthearted people who go to great lengths to satisfy their spiritual need". oday's focus is on the one man who WAS looking for pearls, and the other man who WAS NOT seeking anything, but found a treasure. So, today focuses on the various ways people find "the truth", some going to great length to do so, and others who happened upon it and recognized it of high value.

In 1975, however...
23 In the parable of the treasure hid in the field, it is only one man that discovers this treasure and “sells what things he has and buys that field.” All the others have their sense of values applied in a different direction because their eyes were as if ‘pasted shut’ and did not see the hidden value in that field.—Matt. 13:44.
24 In the parable of the “one pearl of high value,” it is only one “traveling merchant” that craves having the rarest pearl that can be found. He is the only one that “went and promptly sold all the things he had and bought it.” All the other traveling merchants were looking for something else that they considered valuable, likely something that would not cost them all that they had in order to get the purchase price.—Matt. 13:45, 46.
--w75 10/1 p. 594 pars. 23,24

Bobcat
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Re: Parables of Jesus

#6 Post by Bobcat » 6 years ago

leaving:

Thank you for your comments and references. I used to marvel that W. E. Vine came to the same conclusions that the WT did with their old understanding. Only later did I see that Vine's interpretation was just too handy for the WT to latch onto so as to denounce 'Christendom.' They take Christendom's explanations and use them as proof texts to show that Christendom has no truth! In reality, many of Christendom's commentators have had much of the present WT explanation for decades or longer (save for the 1914 nonsense).

It is also interesting to view the standard definitive language used by the WT in the older understanding: "It is apparent that the symbolic mustard-seed “tree” of today is the counterfeit “kingdom of the heavens," and "Jesus Christ well knew that true Christianity, “the kingdom of the heavens,” was not to become a figurative “tree,” " and "So the birds that find lodging in the mustard tree would picture the agents of the “wicked one,” “Satan the Devil” " (since a previous parable used "birds" to represent Satan).

When one sees this past use of cocksureness in WT explanations it begins to dawn on the reader that they really are just rank amateurs. This is a good reason why they need to bury their past. Their past says a lot about who they really are.

Bobcat

Index to Parables

leaving_quietly
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Re: Parables of Jesus

#7 Post by leaving_quietly » 6 years ago

Someone on JWN pointed out that the 1975 article attacks the position taken by a WT contributor in 1881 named J. H. Paton, and uses articles in 1900, 1910 and 1912 to back up their then current position (in 1975). The 1975 set of articles is an interesting read. If you have the Library CD, it's w75 10/1 p.589-594 and p.595-604.

Bobcat
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Re: Parables of Jesus - Mustard Seed & Leaven

#8 Post by Bobcat » 6 years ago

On the subject of previous views of the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven -

The BECNT-Matthew commentary (David L. Turner, pp. 344-45) has some of the history of interpreting these parables. Turner points out that, "most classical dispensationalists interpret the imagery as portraying the presence of evil within professing Christendom. This is due primarily to bifurcating the kingdom of God (understood as the future millennium) and the kingdom of heaven (understood as a "mystery" encompassing Christendom, viewed as organized, or nominal Christianity). Christendom as a whole contains evil elements mixed with the good, and both parables are usually viewed as picturing that evil."

A little later he points out that "classic dispensationalists view the present age too pessimistically because they do not acknowledge that the kingdom has been inaugurated during the earthly ministry of Jesus." (Bolding and underlining is Bobcat's.) And compare here.

The whole write-up can be seen here. After going to the link, click on where it says "Front Cover" and scroll down and click on page 356. Then scroll back up to page 344-45.


Bobcat

Index to Parables

leaving_quietly
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Re: Parables of Jesus

#9 Post by leaving_quietly » 6 years ago

Thanks, Bobcat. Interesting read.

Personally, I see parables of the the mustard grain and the leaven as simply saying that the Kingdom starts very small (one man, Christ in the flesh) and grows from there to be something large, the full body of Christ. I don't believe there's much more to it than that.

The parables of the man who found hidden treasure in the field and the traveling merchant that found one pearl of great value are equally as simple. The Kingdom is so valuable that one would do whatever it took to obtain it, "sell everything he has". Very simple message. I don't believe there's anything further than that.

Notably, Christ didn't explain these parables. He didn't really have to. They are pretty basic, I think. I think the problem comes because he explained in detail the parable of the wheat and the weeds. So, scholars think there *must* be something more to these other parables, and thus attempt to assign representation to each thing in each parable.

apollos0fAlexandria
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Re: Parables of Jesus

#10 Post by apollos0fAlexandria » 6 years ago

A link and post had to be removed in accord with site guidelines.

Apologies to those involved. It is no reflection on your contributions here which we appreciate.

All I can ask is that you reproduce the pertinent information here rather than linking to a site that we are not comfortable in linking to.

Thanks for your understanding (hopefully).

Apollos

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