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Saturday, November 22, 2014


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The Parable of The Tares
Matthew 13




This plant is the bearded darnel or rye grass, and resembles wheat so closely that it can prosper in the cornfields and be almost indistinguishable until fully grown. It flourishes in quantities in countries along the Mediterranean Sea. To the farmer it is one of the most destructive of all weeds, and in Eastern countries women and children are employed to pick out these tares before they can ruin the good crop. As soon as the ears are formed, it is possible to recognize them, but both the wheat and the tares are usually left intermixed until after reaping. Then they are separated by a fanning that blows away the lighter and smaller seeds of the tares, and after threshing, all seeds are shaken in a sieve. Thus any darnel seeds still remaining will usually pass through and leave the larger wheat behind. The inner coats of these seeds often harbor seriously poisonous fungus growths that, if eaten by humans or animals, will cause dizziness and vomiting and sometimes even death. Virgil calls it the infelix lolium, and the Arabs siwan. -All The Plants Of The Bible, Winifred Walker


Before considering the meaning of this parable, it should be stated that many in these latter days have departed from the traditional explanation of this parable! Various reasons can be offered for this departure, especially what it all boils down to which is an unwillingness to take action against either moral or doctrinal error due to fleshly considerations. Such a blinding of the eyes by the deceitfulness of sin (Jer. 17:9; Heb. 3:13) which would have you think that it is a manifestation of love and mercy to allow a person to continue in his sin either doctrinally or morally and thus endanger his salvation is wrong, unscriptural, and not at all a demonstration of love and mercy. In 1 John 5:1-5, we are categorically told that the way we demonstrate love towards God and the brethren is by obeying God's commandments. Also, we are told throughout the Scriptures that forgiveness and mercy are extended on the basis of repentance (Luke 17:3). If there is no repentance from moral or doctrinal error, then how can mercy be extended towards such a rebellious individual? It obviously cannot on any Scriptural grounds! Thus, any explanation that would permit this parable to justify such an erroneous and unscriptural position is self-condemned and must be discarded! In the course of this analysis, it is hoped to look at more reasons why the various arguments do not hold up, as well as, those reasons which best fit the conditions of the parable.

To assist any who desires to verify the traditional view mentioned above, the following list is given:

  1. Elpis Israel by Bro. John Thomas, pages 211-215, 254, 279, 307. Also consult the list of Scriptural passages in the back of the book for any other places where Bro. Thomas refers to these verses in Matthew 13.
  2. The Last Days of Judah's Commonwealth and Its Latter Day Restoration by Bro. John Thomas (1969 Logos edition), pages 18-19, 27, 36, 38, 55, 74-77.
  3. Nazareth Revisited by Bro. Robert Roberts, pages 222-224.
  4. The Parables of Christ by Bro. Robert Roberts, pages 7-9.
  5. Parables of The Messiah by Bro. John Carter, pages 92-99.

Upon consulting these works, it becomes quite clear that Brothers John Thomas, Robert Roberts, and John Carter did not and would not use this parable to permit doctrinal or moral error to exist in our midst. Furthermore, if their views on fellowship are studied out, then the present weak views on fellowship, which would misuse and misapply the parable under consideration, would be seen as unsound and be discarded.

Compared with other parables spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ those contained in Matthew, chapter 13, have the distinct advantage of having been briefly explained by him. It would be extremely unwise and foolish to discard the provided explanations or to contradict them. In this analysis, every attempt will be made to remain in complete harmony with the offered explanation as well as the various details of the parable itself.

Another point that should be noted at this time before delving into an analysis of this parable is the historical relationship between present explanations which are believed to be erroneous and the traditional view which is believed to be correct. In order to do this, let us read together from Bro. Carter's book mentioned above, pages 92-94.

Of all the parables, that concerning the tares has been the cause of the most contention. Its interpretation played an important part in the contentions that arose at the time of the Donatists. The rise and work of this body is noticed in Eureka, Vol. 2, Chapter VII. The Donatists opposed the corruptions which had grown up in Christendom and denied that many who claimed to be Christians were entitled to be so described. They particularly opposed the growing association of Church and State, and consequently by the decrees of Constantine suffered the loss of their buildings used for worship, banishment, and in some cases death. They were opposed by the leaders of the corrupt church, particularly by Augustine, who has the distinction, more than any other of the "fathers," of establishing the doctrines of the immortality of the soul and that the Church was the Kingdom of God as accepted tenents of the Church. The Donatists were exclusive, and one of the arguments used against them was based upon the interpretation of the parable of the tares, that Jesus taught that the wheat and tares had to grow together until the harvest, and that the discipline which the Donatists called for was not Scriptural. The Donatist reply was a denial of the application made by the Augustinians. The latter taught that "the field" was the Church where "wheat and tares" should remain together; the Donatists insisted that in the interpretation given by Jesus the field was "the world" and the lesson of the parable had nothing to do with the question whether spurious and heretical Christians should be excluded from the Church.

It is a safe rule in the interpretation of a parable that no meaning shall be attached to it that conflicts with the plain teaching of the Scripture. Judged by this, Augustine was as erroneous in his views on church discipline as on the nature of man. The teaching of Jesus lays down the method to be employed in reclaiming any in error. If recovery was not achieved the offender had to be as "a heathen man" (Matt. 18:17). Fuller instruction on this matter is naturally to be found in the epistles and particularly those dealing with ecclesial organization. Paul's counsel concerning the rejection of a "heretic" after the second admonition (Titus 3:10) appears to have the words of Jesus in mind. In other epistles he is quite explicit about the duty of ecclesias "to avoid," "have no company with," "put away," "reject," those that were teachers of errors or who were persistently evil in their ways (2 Thess. 3:6; 1 Cor. 5:11; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; 2 John 8-10). It is quite clear from these commandments given by the apostles who were authorized to teach by their Lord, that it would be a wrong interpretation of the parable to attempt to deduce from it rules of men's duty when there is laxity in a community of professing believers. It cannot mean that false teachers should be allowed to retain their place in ecclesial life.

In later times the Catholics were at pains to reconcile their persecution of heretics with the instruction that wheat and tares must be allowed to grow together until the end of the age. Emphasis was laid on the warning that in gathering up tares the wheat also might be destroyed-and this was taken to mean that the prohibition did not apply where there was no doubt that a man was a heretic; only when the heresy was not fully revealed must toleration be exercised. On this interpretation the reason Jesus gave for not plucking up the tares is made into a conditional prohibition.

It is quite clear from the above that the interpretations of this parable that we view as erroneous is that used by the Catholic church. Whereas the interpretation that we would view as correct was held by those who the Catholic church branded as heretics. Just from this piece of information, which interpretation would you be inclined to follow? It would seem that the only sensible answer would be that which was held by those who were classified as heretics by the Catholic church! It would seem only natural that since the Truth was found among the Donatists and since they are so close to the period of the Apostles that their view would more correctly represent the view of the Apostles than that represented by the Catholic church.