The Kingdom and the Parable of the Sower

To understand the parable of the Sower, we must note its literary location. Matthew placed the parable in vv. 18-23, after presenting the purpose of the parables in vv. 10-17. He then presents Jesus’ explanation of the parables.

In this light, the parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 is to be interpreted according to its immediate literary context—Jesus’ exposition of the purpose of the parables. As we have noted earlier, the purpose of the parables is twofold—to reveal and conceal. Jesus’ parables reveal the kingdom to people who believe Jesus. They also conceal the kingdom to people who refuse Jesus. The parable of the Sower, then, is to be understood in the context of why people receive Jesus and why people reject Jesus.

In the parable of the Sower, the seed is the word of the kingdom. The word of the kingdom is the preaching of the rule of God. The soil refers to the human heart. The four kinds of soil refer to the four responses of the human heart.[1]

In Matt. 13:18-23, Jesus explains the four places where the seed fell.


[1] Daniel Patte, The Gospel according to Matthew: A Structural Commentary (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987), 192.

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