Matthew 13:3-23 – The Parable of the Sower

Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 15 July 2012


13:1 Now, during that day, Jesus, after leaving the house, was sitting next to the lake,

13:2 and many crowds were gathered to Him such that He got into a boat to sit while all the crowd upon the shore was standing.

13:3 Then He spoke to them many things in parables saying,

            “Check [this out], the seed-planter went out to plant seed:

               13:4 Now, during his seed-planting, some fell along the road,

                        and the birds came and ate them up.

               13:5 But others fell upon the rocks, where they didn’t have much earth,

                        and right away they sprouted up on account of not having depth of earth,

                                    13:6 but after the sun rose up they were scorched,

                                    and, on account of not having a root-system, they were withered.

               13:7 Now others fell upon the thorns,

                        and the thorns shot up and choked them.

               13:8 Still others fell upon the good earth

                        and started yielding fruit, in one case 100, in another case 60, and in another case 30.

   13:9 He who has ears to hear had better be listening!


  13:16 But the eyes of y’all are blessed because they see – your ears also because they hear.

            13:17 For truly I’m telling you that many prophets and righteous men

                        desired to see what y’all are seeing and to hear what y’all are hearing

                        yet did not hear.

13:18 As for you, therefore, start listening to the parable of the seed-sower:

              13:19 When any one hears word of the kingdom and does not comprehend,

                        the evil one comes and grabs what has been sown in his heart.

            This is the one which was sown along the road.

  13:20 Now, as for the one that was sown upon the rocks,

                        this is the one who hears the word and immediately with joy receives it,

              13:21 yet he does not have a root in himself, but rather is temporary,

                        and after stress or persecution occurs on account of the word,

                        he is immediately scandalized.

  13:22 Then the one that was sown into the thorns,

                        this is the one who hears the word,

                        yet the cares of this age and the deception of wealth choke the word,

                        and he becomes unfruitful.

  13:23 But the one that was sown upon the good earth,

                        this is the one who hears the word and who understands, who then bears fruit

                        and is productive, in one case 100, in another case 60, and in another case 30.


13:3 Then He spoke to them many things in parables saying, “Check [this out], the seed-planter went out to plant seed:

και ελαλησεν αυτοις πολλα εν παραβολαις λεγων Ιδου εξηλθεν ‘ο σπειρων του σπειρειν[1]


13:4 Now, during his seed-planting, some fell along the road [path/wayside], and the birds came and ate them up.

και εν τω σπειρειν αυτον ‘ὰ μεν επεσεν παρα την ‘οδον και ηλθεν[2] τα πετεινα [και[3]] κατεφαγεν αυτα

·         These are the same birds that we are supposed to learn not to worry from in 6:26 because God feeds them. Here, however, they represent the Devil (v.19) – we’ll get to that in a minute.

·         One commentator I read quoted from a person who had travelled to Israel and had seen a field just like the one Jesus is describing. He said, “There was the trodden pathway running through the midst of it, with no fence or hedge to prevent the seed from falling here and there on either side of it or upon it; itself hard with the constant tramp of horse and mule and human feet.” (Vincent)


13:5 But others fell upon the rocks, where they didn’t have much earth [soil], and right away they sprouted up on account of not having depth of earth,

αλλα δε επεσεν επι τα πετρωδη ‘οπου ουκ ειχεν γην πολλην και ευθεως εξανετειλεν[4] δια το μη εχειν βαθος γης


13:6 but after the sun rose up they were scorched, and, on account of not having a root-system, they were withered.

‘ηλιου δε ανατειλαντος[5] εκαυματισθη[6] και δια το μη εχειν ‘ριζαν εξηρανθη

·         πετρωδη does not occur in the Bible outside of this parable. Thayer says it is a compound of petrw (rock) and eidon (view). KJV translates “stony places.”

·         Not ground covered with loose stones, but a hard, rocky surface, covered with a thin layer of soil. (Vincent)

·         εξηρανθη: Literally “dried out” – My neighbor who has been a high school science teacher for many years explained to me a week ago while we were sitting under the big maple tree in my front yard how plants are oriented around an amazing capillary system which draws water up out of the ground, each leaf has a corresponding root-end that it pulls water up from, but if there is no water to draw up, the whole system fails and the tree dies, which is why God designed the leaves to fall off in the fall. Likewise, if something stunts the roots from growing, there is no mechanism to get the water and nutrients up out of the ground to the growing plant. It will wither away.


13:7 Now others fell upon the thorns, and the thorns shot up and choked them.

αλλα δε επεσεν επι τας ακανθας και ανεβησαν ‘αι ακανθαι και [απ[7]]επνιξαν αυτα

·         briars/brambles - The Greek word akanthwn that we saw earlier in Mat. 7:16 is a fairly generic term which covers scores of varieties of wild, thorny plants in Israel. Unger’s Bible Dictionary suggests it could have been the Calycotome villosa plant which has long spikes on its stem[8].

·         The seed fell, not among standing thorns, but among those beneath the surface, ready to spring up. (Vincent)

·         πνίγω/ἀποπνίγω: “Choked” occurs in 4 other Bible contexts:

o        to describe what the evil spirit from the Lord did to King Saul (1 Sam 16:14-15),

o        what the unforgiving servant did to a fellow slave who owed him a petty debt (Mt 18:28),

o        and what the demons did to the pigs that rushed into the lake (Mk 5:13/Luke 8:33).

o        Nahum 2:12, describing what a lion does to its prey.


13:8 Still others fell upon the good earth and started yielding fruit, in one case 100, in another case 60, and in another case 30.

αλλα δε επεσεν επι την γην την καλην και εδιδου καρπον ‘ὸ μεν ‘εκατον ‘ὸ[9] δε ‘εξηκοντα ‘ὸ δε τριακοντα


13:9 He who has ears to hear[10] had better be listening!”

ο εχων ωτα [ακουειν-אB] ακουετω

·         In Kenneth Bailey’s book, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, the professor emeritus of Middle Eastern New Testament Studies at the Tantur Institute in Jerusalem wrote, “In the Western tradition, serious theology has almost always been constructed from ideas held together by logic… the popular perception of Jesus is that of a village rustic creating folktales for fishermen and farmers. But when examined with care, his parables are serious theology, and Jesus emerges as an astute theologian. He is… primarily a metaphorical rather than a conceptual theologian… A parable is an extended metaphor, and as such, it is not a delivery system for an idea but a house in which the reader/listener is invited to take up residence…then that person is urged by the parable to look on the world through the windows of that residence… Our task is to stand at the back of the audience around Jesus and listen to what he is saying to them. Only through that discipline can we discover what he is saying to any age, including or own… The theological and ethical House of the Parables of Jesus awaits. May all enter with great expectations!” (pp. 279-283)

13:18 As for y’all, therefore, start listening to the parable of the seed-sower:

Υμεις ουν ακουσατε την παραβολην του σπειροντος[11]

·         The plural word for “you” here in the Greek text is repeated for emphasis, contrasting with the “prophets and righteous men” from the past in v.17. “As for you,” says Jesus, what the Old Testament saints longed to hear is being spoken in your presence. Do you realize how precious this opportunity is to hear God’s word explained to you by the Word of God made flesh?

·         Jesus’ command is in the Aorist tense, which emphasizes the starting point of obedience: “Start listening”

·         Matthew Henry noted that it is as though the disciples didn’t hear the parable the first time so Jesus says, “You have heard it, but hear the interpretation of it.”

o       Henry goes on to say, “It is of good use, and would contribute much to our understanding the word and profiting by it, to hear over again what we have heard,”

o       as Paul wrote in Philippians 3:1 “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.” (NASB)

·         So begins Jesus’ explanation of the parable:


13:19 When any one hears word of the kingdom and does not comprehend, the evil one comes and grabs what has been sown in his heart. This is the one which was sown along the road.

Παντος ακουοντος τον λογον της βασιλειας και μη συνιεντος ερχεται ‘ο πονηρος και αρπαζει[12] το εσπαρμενον εν τη καρδια αυτου. ‘Ουτος εστιν ‘ο παρα την ‘οδον σπαρεις.

·         Jesus first explains what was symbolized by the seed that fell on the roadway and got eaten by birds (v.4), saying here in v.19 “This is he which received seed by the waysideKJV/ This is the one [on whom seed] was sown beside the roadNAS/ This is what was sown along the pathESV/ the [seed] sown along the pathNIV.

o       The word “seed,” however, is not in the Greek text, and the word “received” is also not in the Greek text.

o       It is tricky to translate, because the seed represents the word of God and the soil represents the hearts of man, and it is frustrating for a detail-oriented person to break out of the strict correlation of these symbols and refer to the seed as being the man as the Greek grammar literally states here.

o       I think this is the cause of the differences among the English translations and the words added to make sense of it.

o       What is clear is that Jesus is talking about the situation of the seeds falling on unprepared soil and getting snatched away, and that He is relating this to the situation of people who have heard the Gospel, but don’t understand, and who are robbed by Satan – the “Evil One” who comes “to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10).

o       This is clearly what Jesus is driving at, so it doesn’t matter if the figure changes back and forth a bit from the ground to the seed to represent humans.

·         According to this parable, then, it is possible to hear preaching – even to hear Jesus Himself speak – and yet fail to “put it together” as to what it means and how to respond in line with God’s revealed will.

o       Jesus used the same word for “understand” which is in v.13 – He used parables so that certain people could hear and still not “understand.”

o       There were people who met Jesus in person and heard Him teach and yet heartily approved of killing Him on the cross later.

o       There are people who go to church and hear sermons every week who will end up in hell because it never came together for them.

o       Why? Because God has not opened their minds to understand the good news that though they have offended God by rebelling against Him and deserve to die eternally for it, God sent His son Jesus to suffer death on behalf of wayward sinners and draw them into the glory of His presence eternally.

·         This failure to understand is associated with the work of the devil who “snatches away” the seed. But how is this possible? In John 10, Jesus uses the same word “snatch” to say that no one can snatch sheep out of His hand!

o       John 10:23-29 “it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, ‘How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.’” (NASB)

o       The realities of the supernatural world raging around us, to which we are oblivious, are astounding – an almighty God calling certain humans His and grabbing them and holding them so tightly that Satan cannot snatch them out of His hands; while others, without that cosmic shepherd’s hand clutching them, are easy picking for the deceiver of souls and they fly down his throat as he devours them like the starlings that descend on your garden, greedily scouring it for seeds.

o       I believe that this scenario graphically portrays what has become known as the “reformed” doctrine of salvation, which emphasizes that God’s salvation only comes to those whose hearts have been prepared by God to receive it and who are guarded by His power from being snatched away by the devil.

·         What response shall we make to such realities? Should we despair that we are helpless pawns in this frightening cosmic battle for souls?

o       While it is appropriate to fear the wrath of God and the horror of hell, God’s word commands us not to worry, but rather to seek His forgiveness, His healing and reconciliation.

o       Doing nothing and just waiting to see whether you have been chosen by God or not is not a Biblical option; that is foolishness – tempting God.

o       It is not ours to know what God’s unrevealed plans and thoughts are or what the details of the devil’s actions are. Don’t worry about what we can’t know.

o       Remember, Jesus said that the kind of people who make it into heaven are those who “seize the kingdom by force” (Mt. 11:12)


13:20 Now, as for the one that was sown upon the rocks, this is the one who hears the word and immediately with joy receives it,

‘Ο δε επι τα πετρωδη σπαρεις ‘ουτος εστιν ‘ο τον λογον ακουων και ευθυς μετα χαρας λαμβανων[13] αυτον


13:21 yet he does not have a root in himself, but rather is temporary, and after stress or persecution occurs on account of the word, he is immediately scandalized.

ουκ εχει δε ‘ριζαν εν εαυτω αλλα προσκαιρος εστιν γενομενης δε θλιψεως η διωγμου δια τον λογον ευθυς σκανδαλιζεται

·         In the scorching heat we’ve been experiencing this summer, I’ve been concerned for the fruit and vegetables we planted in our back yard, so I’ve been trying to water these plants to keep them from withering, but a neighbor shared some interesting advice with me a couple of weeks ago. He said that if you water plants, the roots will not reach as deep as they might otherwise stretch, and the plant will become dependent on irrigation because it’s roots aren’t deep enough to draw water naturally.

·         So apparently, plant roots conform to the conditions they are in, and in the case of this parable, there is a stratum of limestone just underneath the surface of the dirt, so the roots of the wheat planted in this part of the field have to spread out along the surface of the soil because they can’t penetrate down through that layer of rock.

o       They are not able to send that big tap root straight down to anchor the plant and draw water up from deep under the dry soil.

·         I realize that it may be a stretch to string together these metaphors, but the word “root” is used symbolically elsewhere in the Bible to portray Jesus as being the root which gives stability and nurture to the church:

o       Romans 11:17-18 “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.”

o       Revelation 5:5 “and one of the elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.’”

o       Revelation 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

o       This is the only other symbolic use of the word “root,” and it is consistent with the rest of scripture that Jesus is indeed the one who laid the foundation for our faith and who nurtures our faith with His Spirit, so I think this connection is justified.

·         There are people who enjoy the logic and peace and joy and fellowship of Christianity for a time. They may go to an exciting crusade meeting or worship service or camp experience, but what has them excited is the physical circumstances.

o       They do not have Jesus, and Christianity without Christ is just “Ianity.”

o       The good feelings won’t last. There will be no persevering faith because they do not have a personal relationship with Jesus to be their taproot to support and nurture faith when the hard times come.

·         προσκαιρος εστιν – he endures but a whileKJV/lasts only a short timeNIV/ is temporaryNASB Lit. “for the occasion” or “opportunistic” Only found in two other passages of scripture:

o       2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

o       Hebrews 11:24-25 “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.” (NASB)

o       The Greek word refers to the nature of this physical world. It will not last forever.

·         And just as immediately as his joy is turned on by hearing God’s word, so immediately is he offendedKJV/he stumblesNKJ/falls awayNAS,NIV,ESV/is scandalizedLit. by distress and persecution.

o       This person is controlled by circumstances which make him happy or disgusted depending on how other people treat him at the time.

o       The initial joy did not come from the permanent tap root of Christ but from temporary external circumstances, and when people stop treating him nicely, he won’t associate with Christianity anymore.

o       It’s not that he (or she) was ever a true believer; they just enjoyed the company of believers for a time until it became inconvenient.

o       Persecution separates the real Christians from the fair-weather Christians.

o       I remember the story told by some Chinese Christians several years ago that a Communist army officer who wanted to become a Christian stormed a secret house church meeting and threatened to kill everyone who was a Christian. He promised that anyone who would renounce the Christian faith and leave the house could go free. One by one, members slunk out of the house until only a few brave souls were left. “Now,” said the army commander, “Now that only the real Christians are left, tell me the real Gospel!” And he became a Christian that night.

o       But in the case of this seed sown on rocky soil, stress and persecution stymie it:

·         θλιψεως η διωγμου stress/tribulationKJV,ESV/afflictionNAS/troubleNIV or persecution

o       Jesus promised that believers would undergo stress and persecution – it’s a normal part of the Christian life, and it matures us (Mark. 10:30, Mat. 24:9, John 16:33, Acts 14:22, Romans 5:3, 2 Cor. 1:4, 4:17, 1 Thess. 3:3, Rev. 2:10, etc.)

o       Proverbs 11:19 A righteous son is born for life: but the persecution of the ungodly ends in death. (Brenton’s translation of the Septuagint)

o       The Apostle John wrote that it was because of the Word that he was exiled to the prison colony of Patmos: Revelation 1:9 “I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”

o       However, if Jesus loves you, then trouble or persecution cannot break that bond of love. The Apostle Paul used these very words in Romans 8:35-39 when he wrote, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NASB)

o       True Christians are born of incorruptible seed which will not fade away, according to the doctrine of 1 Peter 1:5, but “are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time… 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”


13:22 Next, the one that was sown into the thorns, this is the one who hears the word yet the cares of this age and the deception of wealth choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.

‘Ο δε εις τας ακανθας σπαρεις ‘ουτος εστιν ‘ο τον λογον ακουων και ‘η μεριμνα του αιωνος
[τουτου-אBD] και ‘η απατη του πλουτου συμπνιγει τον λογον και ακαρπος γινεται

·         We studied the verbal form of this word merimna in Matthew 6:25 “On account of this, I’m telling y’all, stop caring [so much] about your life (What might you eat? and What might you drink?) and about your body (How might you clothe yourselves?)...  33 But continue seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added onto you. 34 Therefore don’t start caring [too much] concerning tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself.” (NAW)

o       According to Greek lexicon writers Strong and Thayer, the root meaning has to do with dividing one’s attention over multiple worries rather than staying fixed on one goal.

o       1 Cor. 7:32-34 “Now, I want you to be free from cares. The unmarried man cares about the things of the Lord – how he may please the Lord, but the married man cares about the things of the world – how he may please his wife, and his [attention] is divided... (NAW) That is not to say that marriage is necessarily bad, but the relationship does add responsibilities which add complexity to life.

·         Both this year and last year we tried to grow tomatoes in our back yard. We bought some nice, healthy-looking plants from the market back in May and put them in the ground and watered them and waited. It is now the middle of July and we haven’t gotten a single ripe tomato yet! Something has interfered with the ability of those tomato plants to produce fruit. I haven’t figured out what it is that is preventing my tomatoes from being fruitful, but in this parable, Jesus pinpoints that thorns were keeping some of the wheat from being fruitful.

·         The thorns in this parable represent the things in this world, this life, this age which carry the potential of distracting you from hearing and obeying the Bible.

o       It could be anything: politics, profession, automobiles, Internet, school, sports, real estate, remodeling, fashion, fishing - anything!

o       Again, this is not to say that any of these things is necessarily bad, but each carries the potential to distract us from hearing and obeying the Bible, so we must exercise self-control with them and cultivate our love for God above all.

o       If you “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Mark 12:30) you can’t help but keep your priorities straight; they’ll fall right in line.

o       But you may have to do some weeding from time to time to keep those thorns from choking faith out.

·         The biggest thorn that chokes out faith is the love of money and wealth:

o       1 Timothy 6:9-11 “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money (φιλαργυρία) is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”

o       Hebrews 13:5 “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money (Αφιλάργυρος), being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU…’”

o       Note, however, that riches cannot be said to be deceitful to us unless we put our confidence in them and raise our expectations from them! (M. Henry)

·         In this parable, the person only hears the Gospel and considers it merely one idea among many, and the many choke out the one which is true. This thorn-choked plant is contrasted with the fruitful plant at the end of the parable which not only hears, but also understands and acts with faith.

o       Is it possible to have saving faith and yet be so weak that there is no fruit? It is possible for a Christian’s faith to be very feeble (Mt. 12:20, 1 Cor 3:15), but fruitlessness is generally in the Bible a sign of failure (Mt. 21:19, Jude 1:12)

o       Failure to bear spiritual fruit is a serious matter with God and is not a condition to dabble in, for the risk is great that God’s patience will end with you.
John 15:2-8 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away… Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” (NASB)


13:23 But the one that was sown upon the good earth, this is the one who hears the word and who understands, who then bears fruit and is productive, in one case 100[14], in another case 60, and in another case 30.

‘Ο δε επι την[15] γην την καλην σπαρεις ‘ουτος εστιν ‘ο τον λογον ακουων και συνιων[16] ‘ὸς δη καρποφορει και ποιει ‘ὸ μεν ‘εκατον ‘ὸ δε ‘εξηκοντα ‘ὸ δε τριακοντα

·         From this we can conclude that it was the farmer’s intent that his sowing would result in fruitful wheat. We’ve already seen that it is God’s will that His people bear fruit, in terms of praising God with our lips, obeying God’s commands in our everyday actions, and sharing His good news with other people.

·         Here’s a corollary: While there are certainly poor patches of the field that don’t bear, the farmer normally sows seed on the good ground. He doesn’t purposefully sow seed on the ground that he knows won’t grow crops. Likewise, we should exercise prudence in where we share the Gospel and focus on the people who are receptive, making disciples among them.

·         I believe the main point, however, is that sharing the Gospel with others can have a variety of results, so we should not be discouraged by the variety of responses we get.

o       It’s o.k. if some of the people you try to witness to totally shut you off.

o       It’s o.k. if some respond initially with enthusiasm but then become apathetic.

o       It’s o.k. if some never become fruitful disciples.

o       It’s o.k. if some only produce 30.

o       That’s all within the range of normal as we seek to bear fruit by sharing the Gospel and making disciples. Don’t get discouraged!

·         Another corollary is that a Biblical approach to evangelism recognizes the sovereignty of God. Yes, the seed of the word must be cast out on the ground, but there are a lot of factors that the sower can’t control:

o       He can’t help dropping a few seeds here and there on the path as he walks through the field, and he can’t stop the birds from eating the seeds.

o       He can’t help it that there is a layer of rock just under the soil in some places,

o       and he can’t control whether the wheat bears 30 or 100 fold.

o       Likewise, we must trust God for the results and seek Him to make our witness effective.

§         If we see fruit, we can praise God.

§         If we did our best and still didn’t see fruit, we can trust that God didn’t want to save anybody through our words that day and be content.

·         We also should consider how we resemble the different soils:

o       Are there worldly cares that are growing up in our life which could choke our faith? Weed them out; don’t tolerate them!

o       Do you struggle with your faith when you encounter problems in life?
Ask God that “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ…” (Eph. 3:17-19, NASB)

o       Does Christianity make no sense to you?
Follow the advice of the prophet Hosea and “Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12, NASB)

·         The three evangelists give three characteristics of the good hearer. Matthew says, “he understands” the word; Mark, “he receives it;” and Luke, he “keeps it.” Let us also be hearers of the word who also understand, receive, and keep the word of God. (Vincent)

[1] Several significant Greek manuscripts (אDLWθf1f13) have an alpha where the final epsilon is, rendering this verb Aorist, but the difference between the meaning of a Greek Infinitive in Aorist vs. Present tense is so slight that it usually makes no difference in an English translation.

[2] This Indicative is the reading of the TR and the Majority (following א,C,D,L,W,Z,f1). The UBS and Byz reading is the participle ελθοντα (following B,θ,f13). Curiously, all of the well-known English translations follow the TR/Maj reading.

[3] The Indicative form of “came” requires an “and” to couple with the indicative verb “ate up,” whereas the participle “coming” can parallel the indicative “ate up” without an “and.” Thus the TR/Maj which uses elthe has a kai here, but the Byz/UBS which uses elthonta does not have a kai here. The kai is missing in only B, θ, and f13, according to  Nestle-Aland, so I included it.

[4] Lit. “rose out” Nowhere else in the NT, but used in Gen 2:9 of the first trees growing, and of grass growing in Psalm 104:14 and 147:8.

[5] Used in the OT for plants growing, hair growing, stars and people arising, and the sun rising. The only other two uses of this word in Mt. refer to sunrise (4:16 & 5:45).

[6] Other places in the Bible this word occurs: Genesis 31:40; 2 Samuel 4:5; Job 24:24; Jeremiah 36:30; and Rev. 16:8-9

[7] On the basis of א,D,θ, and f13, the UBS does not include the apo- prefix to this verb. It doesn’t significantly change the meaning though. The verb without the prefix occurs in only 3 other Bible passages (1 Sam 16:14-15, Mt 18:28, Mk 5:13). Luke’s use of the verb with the apo-prefix is clearly synonymous with Matthew and Mark’s use of the verb without the prefix, since in Luke 8:33 he uses the verb with the prefix to describe the drowning of the pigs in the lake, and in 8:7 to describe the weeds choking out the seed in the parable of the sower. Nahum 2:12 is the only other instance of ἀποπνίγω, describing what a lion does to its prey. Asphyxiation is certainly the common theme.

[8] Good picture of this thornbush at

[9] Although most English translations render this relative pronoun as “some” it is actually singular. The men… de… de grammar construction indicates observation a certain condition on the one hand and two other conditions on the other hand.

[10] The infinitive “to hear” is in all the hundreds of handwritten Greek manuscripts except for two early ones and in all the printed Greek editions of the Textus Receptus, Majority text, and Patristic text, so I think it’s likely authentic even if it is omitted by the ESV, NAS, and NIV English translations. It still doesn’t make a difference in meaning.

[11] Several significant Greek manuscripts (א,B,W) have an alpha where the first omicron is, rendering this participle Aorist, but the difference in meaning is truly negligible. (Viz. Footnote #1.)

[12] The Byzantine textual tradition uses airw instead of arpazw, but arpazw is familiar to Matthew and has been used in 11:12 “forceful men seize the kingdom” and 12:29 “enter the strong man’s house and grab his stuff”

[13] The Byzantine textual tradition adds a second verb, dechomenon, which is a synonym of lambanw

[14] cf. Gen. 26:12 when Isaac’s wheat grew 100-fold in Egypt under Abimelek’s reign and caused some jealousy!

[15] The critical text inexplicably reads την καλην γην, but the TR, Maj, and Byz all read as above. Although curious, it makes no difference in translation.

[16] The TR, Majority, and Patristic text read as above. On the basis of א,B,D,θ, the Critical Text reads συνιεις, which is nothing more than an alternate spelling of the exact same participle with the same meaning and parsing.