The Kingdom of the Heavens is like Leaven Mt13:33

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coccus ilicis
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The Kingdom of the Heavens is like Leaven Mt13:33

#1 Post by coccus ilicis » 5 years ago

In another thread Candace tabled the discussion with regard to Paul’s statement at 1Cor 5:6, the leaven associated with fornication and at Lu 12:1 the leaven associated with the teaching of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy, The discussion may for found here viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2099

Jesus spoke about the Kingdom using illustrations, in one of them 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… (Mt 13:33)

• Is this linked to what Paul referred to as leaven, and if so how?
• Does it have anything to do with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees?
• And why does the woman hide the leaven in three measures of flour?

But first let’s examine the first part of the statement … the kingdom of the heavens is like leaven… it this not a strange thing for Jesus to say; and yet his disciples did not question him about it? They questioned him about the harvest Mt 13:24-30, 36), because being practical persons they thought he must have made a mistake concerning the harvest procedure, i.e. binding the weeds into stooks instead of binding the sheaves of wheat ([Agriculture] a number of sheaves set upright in a field to dry with their heads together. …to set up (sheaves) in stooks); but they didn’t ask about the kingdom of being like leaven. If you had been there would you have wanted to ask what this meant, but they didn’t, why not?

Well just prior to saying this he had explained why he spoke to the crowds using illustrations saying …This is why I speak to them by the use of illustrations, because looking they look in vain and hearing they hear in vain, neither do they get the sense of it… and toward them the prophecy of Isaiah is having fulfilment, which says, ‘By hearing you will hear but by no means get the sense of it; and, by looking you will look and but you will by no means see… If I had been there amongst Jesus’ intimate group when he said this, might that have stopped me from asking about the leaven??? Might I have considered myself above ‘them’ – the crowd that had closed their eyes and ears - quite possibly? Was that the reason they didn’t ask???

The reluctance to admit inadequacies, failures or wrong conduct is a very deeply entrenched human problem that we do not willingly face, and we steer attention away from it by focussing instead on the error or failure in others. Mostly we are not even aware of doing this, but this is at the root of all strife and wars amongst us. Take for example the incident described at John 8:1–11 when the Pharisees brought Jesus a woman caught in adultery they said to him … Teacher this woman has been caught in adultery in the Law, Moses prescribed for us to stone such a woman. What really do you say?”… Jesus did not utter a single word in reply but instead wrote with his finger in the dust of the ground. A crowd had gathered and the Pharisees persisted they wanted him to answer so that all could hear. And he said to them: Let the one who is sinless be the first to throw a stone at her … and he again bent down to write in the dust of the ground. At that those that heard and saw what he had written began retreating one by one. We don’t have a record of what he wrote possibly the only ones that could read in the crowd didn’t want to admit they had been part of the crowd prepared to stone her.

So what was it that he had written that had completely taken the wind out of their sails? The Law says, … Now a man who commits adultery with the wife of his fellowman. He should be put to death without fail, the adulterer and the adulteress as well…Le 20:10 … in case a man is found lying down with a woman owned by an owner, both of them must then die together, the man lying down with a woman and the woman… De 22:22. Where was the man??? If this is what he indeed did write in the dust, there was no way that those accusing her wanted him to air what the Law actually said in public.

This kind of hypocrisy is also part and parcel of our own make up. We live in Satan's world; he is the father of the lie, so lying is all-pervasive. Even only speaking half truth's or being polite, saying one thing but thinking another are all a forms of lying and most times we are not even aware of doing it, but we tend instead to change the direction of our thoughts and focus on the fault in the other person. Every time we do this the following applies … with the measure you are measuring out they will measure out to you… Hypocrite! First extract the rafter from your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to extract the straw from you brother’s eye… (Mt 7: 2-5) In the account of the woman caught in adultery Jesus forced the Pharisees apply this principle to themselves, and he is telling each one of us to do the same.

So what bearing does this have on the illustration of the Kingdom being like leaven? Fully understanding this human proclivity Jesus knew that what little insight people at that time had with regard to this would be eclipsed after he left the scene. Paul appears to have understood this, he may even have read what Jesus wrote in the dust of the ground because he links fornication with leaven fermenting the whole lump (1Cor 5:1-7) And it is the same hypocrisy that is the root of the Pharisees obsession with cleaning the outside of the cup Mt 23:25 - presenting a false front to the world - pretending to be something we are not.

The woman hides the leaven in three measures of flour – the measures of flour are Judaism, Christianity and Islam – all serving the one God; all stemming from Abraham; all accepting Moses as bringer of God’s Law; all looking forward to the coming of God’s kingdom. But not one of them has been able to grasp the full import of what Jesus taught; all of them in their own way point the finger away from themselves. Riddled with guilt they look for ways of atonement whether it is by obedience to the Law or being forgiven by believing in Jesus as a sin atoning sacrifice, anything rather than deal with the one thing that Jesus said would enable us to see clearly so that our hearts could be healed (Mt13:15). None of the three measures of flour or their many offshoots has understood what is meant by the leaven the woman hid.

However individuals that do understand have great joy and start clearing out their house, discarding old and new, taking out the rafter splinter by painful splinter (Mt 13:44, 52; 7:5).
LRW~

Erick
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Re: The Kingdom of the Heavens is like Leaven Mt13:33

#2 Post by Erick » 5 years ago

My thoughts on Matt.13:33 are that in this case leaven is used by Jesus as a positive thing. Leaven works in a gradual fashion. When you learn a truth by allowing yourself to reflect on it the truth can act as leaven that gradually raises the "loaf" of your consciousness.

Take for instance the truth expressed by Jesus in the Golden Rule "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them" If you start to truly ponder deeply this text and then start to walk the path of putting it into practice, it will gradually raise your consciousness. You will become more compassionate, forgiving, patient etc.

This is a gradual process not something that happens from one day to the next.

apollos0fAlexandria
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Re: The Kingdom of the Heavens is like Leaven Mt13:33

#3 Post by apollos0fAlexandria » 5 years ago

Hi coccus ilicis

You've presented a well written and thought provoking piece here, and it's not my intention to dismantle it. On the other hand if one speaks with authority on what x,y, or z, means then it's got to be open to challenge right?

My first point is that we've no way of knowing what the disciples did not question Jesus about. We can say that they questioned him about the "wheat" illustration because that's explicitly said. But the Bible doesn't purport to record every aspect of every conversation that took place. If the passage said something like "... but they did not question him about the leaven", then fair enough. Otherwise I'd be personally wary of inferring too much on the basis that something isn't mentioned one way or another.

The John 8:1-11 passage is doubly difficult to infer from since a) there is doubt that it's authentic, and b) if it happened, then what Jesus wrote on the ground is pure speculation. Your suggestion is interesting food for thought by all means, but needs to be treated with appropriate weight in the light of those factors.

As far as the three measures of flour, you make a categorical statement as to what these represent. You may be right. But someone else could assert that they are "Judaism, Islam, and paganism (or perhaps atheism)". What would make your explanation more authoritative than an alternative? You don't really make clear what gives strength to this explanation. Of course by taking Christianity itself out of the mix I could be accused of doing exactly what you're implying - pointing the finger outwards without dealing with my own deficiencies. But that still doesn't make the explanation true.

To my mind the explanation of Jesus parables (the ones not explicitly given application by him) has to some degree harmonize with scripture itself. For example the "faithful slave" parable can be hijacked by a group of people for the claim of authority, or we can follow scripture and see how Peter and those present were early examples of what it meant to fulfill this role and how it can apply to Christians in general.

In like manner I'd say the explanation put forward by Erick has a certain resonance with the way that the NT shows Christianity growing not just in terms of numbers, but in terms of its effect on communities and individuals.

Perhaps it's right that some of these parables can find more than one meaning. It's a bit like a teacher who poses some questions, and gives sample answers to only a couple, leaving the student to think more deeply about the others. Jesus neither leaves us entirely in the dark, nor does he spoon feed us every answer. And as a result discussions like this arise, and individuals can find beneficial meaning in more than one way. It would be wrong of me to say that your explanation is incorrect, and I'm not saying that. But when we come from a religious background where every parable had to be given specific meaning, the meanings were subject to change, but the current meaning was always the true one, I think we do well to take a deep breath and tread carefully before making very specific and assertive statements as to what a parable like this means.

2c from Apollos

leaving_quietly
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Re: The Kingdom of the Heavens is like Leaven Mt13:33

#4 Post by leaving_quietly » 5 years ago

Personally, I don't think the idea of leaven and "three large measures" of flour have any subtle meaning. The parable followed that of the tiny mustard seed that grew to be a very large tree. To me, it seems that the mustard seed parable and this parable of the leaven has to do with the thought that the Kingdom starts from very tiny beginnings and will grow to huge proportions.

That said, I'm used to the NWT rendering of Matt 13:33, which uses the phrase, "a woman took and mixed with three large measures of flour". Other translations render it similarly. I've never heard "and hid in three large measures of flour." However, the Greek word is indeed "hid" (enekrypsen... probably where we get "encrypt" from) as opposed to other Greek words for "mix" (kerannumi and mignumi). So, that gives me something to think about.

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menrov
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Re: The Kingdom of the Heavens is like Leaven Mt13:33

#5 Post by menrov » 5 years ago

This parable is the third in a line of kingdom parables. First a seed that was sown among the weeds. Then one about the mustard seed and now about leaven. What do they all have in common? Grows. In other words, it starts small and becomes bigger (more important). But in none of the parable, the grows is obvious from the start. It is "a bit hidden with other things", it is "in the ground (not visible / covert) and slowly becomes visible" and it is "mixed or hidden in flour (jews & gentiles??) and grows together/depend on each other to grow" .

So, the focus in Mat.13:33 is not the leaven. Leaven is just a catalyst for something else i.e. something good or something bad. Leaven in itself is harmless. It is the result that is what is relevant. From 2 separate things (leaven & flour) that separate from each other are not relevant but once put together, one other thing is generated. In my view, it could mean that the kingdom is the mix of 2 things to grow. Jesus and his sheep. His herd exist of new and old, jews and gentiles. But only because of the leaven, the mix will grow.

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coccus ilicis
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Re: The Kingdom of the Heavens is like Leaven Mt13:33

#6 Post by coccus ilicis » 5 years ago

apollos0fAlexandria wrote:Hi coccus ilicis

You've presented a well written and thought provoking piece here, and it's not my intention to dismantle it. On the other hand if one speaks with authority on what x,y, or z, means then it's got to be open to challenge right?


1.
My first point is that we've no way of knowing what the disciples did not question Jesus about. We can say that they questioned him about the "wheat" illustration because that's explicitly said. But the Bible doesn't purport to record every aspect of every conversation that took place. If the passage said something like "... but they did not question him about the leaven", then fair enough. Otherwise I'd be personally wary of inferring too much on the basis that something isn't mentioned one way or another.
2
The John 8:1-11 passage is doubly difficult to infer from since a) there is doubt that it's authentic, and b) if it happened, then what Jesus wrote on the ground is pure speculation. Your suggestion is interesting food for thought by all means, but needs to be treated with appropriate weight in the light of those factors.
3
As far as the three measures of flour, you make a categorical statement as to what these represent. You may be right. But someone else could assert that they are "Judaism, Islam, and paganism (or perhaps atheism)". What would make your explanation more authoritative than an alternative? You don't really make clear what gives strength to this explanation. Of course by taking Christianity itself out of the mix I could be accused of doing exactly what you're implying - pointing the finger outwards without dealing with my own deficiencies. But that still doesn't make the explanation true.
4
To my mind the explanation of Jesus parables (the ones not explicitly given application by him) has to some degree harmonize with scripture itself. For example the "faithful slave" parable can be hijacked by a group of people for the claim of authority, or we can follow scripture and see how Peter and those present were early examples of what it meant to fulfill this role and how it can apply to Christians in general.

In like manner I'd say the explanation put forward by Erick has a certain resonance with the way that the NT shows Christianity growing not just in terms of numbers, but in terms of its effect on communities and individuals.

Perhaps it's right that some of these parables can find more than one meaning. It's a bit like a teacher who poses some questions, and gives sample answers to only a couple, leaving the student to think more deeply about the others. Jesus neither leaves us entirely in the dark, nor does he spoon feed us every answer. And as a result discussions like this arise, and individuals can find beneficial meaning in more than one way. It would be wrong of me to say that your explanation is incorrect, and I'm not saying that. But when we come from a religious background where every parable had to be given specific meaning, the meanings were subject to change, but the current meaning was always the true one, I think we do well to take a deep breath and tread carefully before making very specific and assertive statements as to what a parable like this means.
2c from Apollos
Thank you Apollos for your thoughtful reply and of course you are absolutely right, if one speaks authoritatively it should be challenged. Since Jesus is my role model I will do my best to answer, which I agree is not easy without pointing the finger or being critical. I have taken the liberty of separating you comments into 4 sections to ensure each one is answered.

1&2
You are quite right, we don't have all that Jesus said and taught, but I have a deep down conviction we have enough, and the rest is up the spirit of truth that he said he would send ...If you love me, you will observe my teaching and I will request the father and he will give you another helper to be with you forever, the spirit of truth... but the helper the holy spirit which the father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your mind all things I have taught you... John 14:15.16,26 - this helper would be sent just prior to his return to those who love Jesus and observe his teaching (for more explanation regarding this helper spirit of truth see post #43 viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2082&start=40

Of course there are many ways this illustration can be understood, but Jesus’ body of teaching is just that a complete teaching or curriculum, everything he said and did is linked; they are not just separate pearls of wisdom. He chose his words with care as he knew they would not be fully understood until just prior to his return. As a teacher he could easily have made sure his disciples understood them and if he had done so I am sure these explanation would have been duly recorded for all to see, even as the one of the wheat and the weeds. But that he didn’t meant that he must have had his reasons, e.g. they were not ready to understand this advanced lesson. That is a very real possibility because he said to them on the night of his arrest … I have many thing yet to say to you but you are not able to bear them at present… (John 16:12). And if one of the many things that he had to tell them included an explanation of the kingdom being like leaven, even as I have explained it then they certainly were not ready for it; they had a work to do in a difficult environment, he therefore said … While remaining with you I have spoken many things to you. But the helper, the holy spirit which the father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you… do not let your hearts be troubled nor let them shrink with fear … (John 14:26, 27) and in speaking of that day when helper would be sent he said … …and in that day you will ask me no questions at all… (John 14:26; 16:23)

We are now one or two steps further along the path of learning from the early Christians. One being that we now have hindsight, which is an important factor in this case; the early Christians expected the kingdom to be just around the corner, certainly not almost two millennia down the track. And given what happened in the early congregation where growth was looked on as blessing from God they may well have viewed this illustration of leaven positively, but I can’t recall a single scripture where leaven and the process of fermentation in a spiritual sense has a positive connotation – it doesn’t mean there isn’t one, if there is perhaps someone might point it out to me.

And the second thing is we now have Jesus' sayings recorded in a form that is easily accessible and we can compare what Jesus taught with doctrine (policy) and conduct of the early church. And from these we can see where they adhered to Jesus instruction and where they deviated, and if so in what way. I don’t for one moment think that in this respect what happened in the early Christian church is any different from what occurred within to the Jewish system of worship. Moses spoke of a poisonous vine growing within (De 32:5, 15-29, 31-35) and Jesus likewise spoke of the field being over sown with weeds and he knew the same would happen with the church that followed him - both the leaven and the mustard seed illustrating this point. His instruction to them were to go into the nations and make disciple teaching them all the things he had taught them, adding: I am with you all the days until he conclusion of the system of things… Mt 28:21. Just as God’s blessing remained with the Jews despite their having gone off course until the conclusion of their system, when Jesus said;… look your house is abandoned to you… Mt 23:38, so too with the conclusion of all those religions that stem from the root of Abraham to whom he says get out of her my people if you do not want to share with her in her sins…Rev 18:4.

3
And that brings me up to the three measures of flour in which the woman hid the leaven. You are absolutely right to challenge me on this seemingly arbitrary assertion. There is a however rationale behind it that I did and do not want to table at this point in our discussion because it is linked to the identity of Babylon the Great and would completely derail this thread. So I ask the reader to bear with me for the present and , God willing, the opportunity to discuss this will present itself shortly.

4
The period of growth is over and the time for harvesting has approached; the field is being cut and the wheat is being separated out from amongst the weeds, with weeds being bundled. Unlike the WT society and other new religious bodies of the last century and a half, time has run out for bundling yet another religious body, and why would anyone want to? But it is the time when the remaining ones of the woman’s seed who observe the commandments of God have a work of bearing witness to Jesus (Rev 12:17)

As to who ends up being the FDS that is given oversight at the time of Jesus’ ‘arrival’ (coming), that surely should not concern us as it is his business and not ours, and in this regard he made an enigmatic statement … Certainly, then, shall not God cause justice to be done to his chosen ones …nevertheless, when the son of man arrives, will he really find this faith on the earth? … (Lu 18:7,8)

So, yes I speak with conviction and authoritatively about what I am learning as scripture opens up and a new picture emerges. If I am wrong it will be on my own head, but I am nonetheless under the obligation to speak.
LRW~

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coccus ilicis
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Re: The Kingdom of the Heavens is like Leaven Mt13:33

#7 Post by coccus ilicis » 5 years ago

leaving_quietly wrote:Personally, I don't think the idea of leaven and "three large measures" of flour have any subtle meaning. The parable followed that of the tiny mustard seed that grew to be a very large tree. To me, it seems that the mustard seed parable and this parable of the leaven has to do with the thought that the Kingdom starts from very tiny beginnings and will grow to huge proportions.
That said, I'm used to the NWT rendering of Matt 13:33, which uses the phrase, "a woman took and mixed with three large measures of flour". Other translations render it similarly. I've never heard "and hid in three large measures of flour." However, the Greek word is indeed "hid" (enekrypsen... probably where we get "encrypt" from) as opposed to other Greek words for "mix" (kerannumi and mignumi). So, that gives me something to think about.
Thank you leaving quietly for checking out this point and bringing it to our attention; it is indeed hid Strong's G1470 ekgrupto eng-kroop'-to from G1722 and G2928; to conceal in, i.e. incorporate with. It is made up of two words, the preposition 'in' and the verb 'hid'. The passive form of the verb G2928 being the word Jesus used in connection with the hidden treasure kingdom Mt 13:44.
LRW~

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coccus ilicis
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Re: The Kingdom of the Heavens is like Leaven Mt13:33

#8 Post by coccus ilicis » 5 years ago

menrov wrote:This parable is the third in a line of kingdom parables. First a seed that was sown among the weeds. Then one about the mustard seed and now about leaven. What do they all have in common? Grows. In other words, it starts small and becomes bigger (more important). But in none of the parable, the grows is obvious from the start. It is "a bit hidden with other things", it is "in the ground (not visible / covert) and slowly becomes visible" and it is "mixed or hidden in flour (jews & gentiles??) and grows together/depend on each other to grow" .

So, the focus in Mat.13:33 is not the leaven. Leaven is just a catalyst for something else i.e. something good or something bad. Leaven in itself is harmless. It is the result that is what is relevant. From 2 separate things (leaven & flour) that separate from each other are not relevant but once put together, one other thing is generated. In my view, it could mean that the kingdom is the mix of 2 things to grow. Jesus and his sheep. His herd exist of new and old, jews and gentiles. But only because of the leaven, the mix will grow.
Thank you menrov and thank you also Erick, for your comments which have validity viewed from the perspective of the early church, but as I explained in my reply to apollos, they may have seen it in a positive light for lack of any other explanation. But we now have hindsight and the opportunity to reassess what Jesus said and meant. Given the opportunity, and Jehovah willing, I would also like to deal with the illustration of the mustard grain tree.
LRW~

AmosAU
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Re: The Kingdom of the Heavens is like Leaven Mt13:33

#9 Post by AmosAU » 5 years ago

Hi Coccus Ilicus,

A very interesting topic indeed.

The point you made here concerning the hidden leaven;

"The woman hides the leaven in three measures of flour – the measures of flour are Judaism, Christianity and Islam – all serving the one God; all stemming from Abraham; all accepting Moses as bringer of God’s Law; all looking forward to the coming of God’s kingdom. But not one of them has been able to grasp the full import of what Jesus taught; all of them in their own way point the finger away from themselves. Riddled with guilt they look for ways of atonement whether it is by obedience to the Law or being forgiven by believing in Jesus as a sin atoning sacrifice, anything rather than deal with the one thing that Jesus said would enable us to see clearly so that our hearts could be healed (Mt13:15). None of the three measures of flour or their many offshoots has understood what is meant by the leaven the woman hid."

I had not thought of this parable this way before. I do agree that the three major religions, Judaism, Christianity & Islam have as I believe, "have come from Abraham as their common father." I do believe your thoughts on this should be given serious consideration & not dismissed quickly. I'm seeing that there are many things pertaining to scripture, that are now becoming much clearer.

My traditional view....the leaven (Kingdom truths) was hidden within the first century body of believers & would slowly ferment until it grew to every corner of the globe. The similar parable of the mustard seed, that when the mustard tree grew to maturity (this slow process takes many decades, perhaps centuries) it would provide rest, shelter, etc for birds of heaven & beasts of the field.

Regards, Amos.

apollos0fAlexandria
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Re: The Kingdom of the Heavens is like Leaven Mt13:33

#10 Post by apollos0fAlexandria » 5 years ago

coccus ilicis wrote:So, yes I speak with conviction and authoritatively about what I am learning as scripture opens up and a new picture emerges. If I am wrong it will be on my own head, but I am nonetheless under the obligation to speak.
Thanks for the reply. I certainly sense your conviction in this matter, and it's interesting food for thought.

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