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Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

4 short introductory video studies First recorded in 2007, posted to GodTube in 2010  These short videos were made nearly 14 years ago. ...

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Israel According to the Flesh

 In our 2-part look at the Parable of the Sheep and Goats we noted that the "least of my brethren" reference by the Lord in that passage in Matthew 25 is to Jews in the tribulation. We noted that those being judged are the "nations" (i.e. gentile nations). Remember, God sees the world, since Babel, as his chosen nation (Israel) and the 70 nations (see the list of nations descended from Noah after the Flood in Genesis chapter 10).


The Most High assigned nations their lands;
he determined where peoples should live.
He assigned to each nation a heavenly being,
but Jacob's descendants he chose for himself.
[Jacob is the place of His inheritance]
-Deuteronomy 32:8-9

The physical descendants of Jacob (Israel) have a hope and a calling connected to the promised land and to a Kingdom. This hope was temporarily set at the end of the Acts Age (after it was preached by John the Baptist, The Lord himself, and the Apostles to the circumcision in the Acts Age). The promises, found in the Old Covenant, were conditional and specific to physical Israel on earth.

And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel:‘ You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth [land] is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

-Exodus 19:3-6 

We know they failed, which is why the Lord will someday in the future institute the New Covenant with the same people.

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming [FUTURE], says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

-Hebrews 8:7-10 


We can only read the physical children of Israel into this passage (which quotes from Jeremiah 31). Paul refers to those who had the first covenant ("them"). He refers to "their fathers." Israel had the adoption. That is, Israel has the promise of inheritance. In this case, the promise of being "a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation" in the land. 

This is part of the "Gospel of the Kingdom" preached by the Lord and his Disciples in Matthew and in the Acts (and which will be preached again in a coming age, during the Tribulation). As the Lord preached it in Matthew 4 and Matthew 9, we know it had no cross, no death, no tomb, no resurrection. When he sends out the twelve in Matthew 10, he commands them to tell NO ONE but Jews in the land.

These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

This is ground we've covered before, but we must recall that during the Lord's earthly ministry to his earthly people with an earthly promise, he ministered Kingdom truths only to Jews (as did his discples after him.

But [Jesus] answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

We've looked at this in other studies in a number of ways; here I want to focus in on Romans chapter 9 and Romans chapter 11 (written during the Acts Age) in regard to Israel according to the flesh.

I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen [kinsmen/relatives] according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
-Romans 9:1-5

To physical Israel pertain the adoption [inheritance as the first born], the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the service of God [the priesthood], and the promises to the fathers. Paul reaffirms this last point later in the same epistle.

Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a minister to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.

-Romans 15:8 

 We note that Romans 9 is dealing with national Israel (the root of Romans 11). It is spoken of as a whole. To the nation belong these blessings. These earthly blessing are the blessings into which the believing Gentiles in the Acts Age were "grafted in." This is NOT resurrection life truth as these same Gentiles (not Jews) could be "cut off" from the root (Israel) if they became haughty against that root. 

Let's walk through Romans 15, starting with verses 1 and 2.


I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.

This is the physical seed of Abraham. There is also a spiritual see of Abraham spoken of in the epistle to the Galatians. That seed is made up of both Jew and Gentile believers. But here in Romans 11 (as we see earlier in this epistle in a number of places, including our selection from Romans 9) we see the physical seed of Abraham, that is, the Jews.

A believing Gentile could never say "of the tribe of" as he, by definition, was of no tribe of Israel. We are squarely in the ground of physical and earthly Israel. So as we move ahead in the epistle, we must keep this context in mind.

I say then, have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their [Israel's] fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their [Israel's] fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their [Israel's] fullness!

Before us are two distinct groups: Israel and Gentiles. In the Acts Age, the rejection of the Kingdom preached by the Lord and his disciples has opened the door to certain blessings to Gentile believers. When Peter preached to Cornelius in Acts 10, he tells us Cornelius already believed. And Peter saw Gentile believers in Matthew 8 (the Centurion) and in Matthew 15 (the Canaanite woman). 

Acts 10 was years after Pentecost. So we can conclude two things from that chapter:

  • There were no Gentiles at the Jewish Feast of Pentecost in Acts 2
  • What surprised Peter was not Cornelius' faith, but that he received prophesied spiritual gifts


And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

-Acts 10:45 

They'd never seen that. The pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost was a partial fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel for Israel. To Israel "pertains the promises." This is all connected to those promises made to Israel. These have to do with what was spoken in scripture to Israel. And we know why God started to pour out his Spirit on Gentile believers. Paul (chosen Apostle to the Gentiles, the uncircumcision, who was redeemed in Acts 9) tells us it was to make unbelieving Israel jealous. The goal was to drive Israel to faith in the Messiah; the Messiah believed on by these gifted Gentiles.

For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

The context demands that Paul is speaking of physical Jews. These are Jews who had not believed yet in the Messiah (the Christ). With physical, earthly Israel in mind, Paul continues his teaching on the inclusion of Gentiles into Israel's EARTHLY blessings. We cannot read here that Gentiles were grafted into spiritual Israel by the new birth (the new nature). To do so, we would have to ignore Paul's arguments in Romans 1-8 solidifying that for anyone (Jew or Gentile), the gift of Resurrection Life is by grace alone through faith alone. The grafting in MUST be to Israel's earthly promises and hope.

We pause here to reference two people from scripture: Adam and the Malefactor on the cross. Neither of these had a hope of a kingdom or a priesthood. When the Malefactor asks the Lord to remember him when he comes into his Kingdom, the Lord promises him a place in "Paradise." That is a specific word. It is was Adam lost by his sin. It was Adam's hope and the hope of all before Abraham. We see in the Malefactor, it was still the hope of  believing Gentiles before the grafting in.

With the earthly blessings and the promises to physical Israel in mind, we continue. 


For I speak to you Gentiles... For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you [Gentiles], being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them [Israel], and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.

Gentiles are warned not to boast against the branches that were cut off. These would be unbelieving Jews. Remember, ONLY GENTILE believers receive this warning. As with all truths in scripture, we must ask, "is this truth for today?" Do we practice this in this hour? Do we warn Gentile believers only not to boast against unbelieving Jews? Here we pause again to note that a Jew is still a Jew, unbelieving or not. For more, see our 3-Part series on "Who Is A Jew?"

You [Gentiles] will say then, “[Jewish]Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you [Gentiles] also will be cut off.  And they [Jews] also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

The Olive Tree is Israel. It is the place whence their blessings flow. For Israel has the inheritance and the promises. Jews are the "natural branches" for these blessings. Gentiles are also olive branches, but wild olive branches, That is, they have no fatness (blessings) unless grafted into the blessings of Israel. And just as they were grafted in, the could be "cut off.

If we ignore the context and hold that the grafting in to Israel is the free gift, then the cutting off would deny what Paul had argued in the first eight chapters of this epistle. We'd have to conclude that resurrection life is not a gift of God. We could then boast that God is our debtor for we maintained our free gift. The gift would then no longer be a gift.

Do you see the pernicious implications behind misinterpreting this passage? Do you see why we must rightly divide Israel from Gentiles? Earthly blessings from heavenly? The gift of life from blessings and rewards and hopes? Why we must understand the inheritances and hopes (plural) in scripture? Why we must see the Acts Age hopes as different from the hope of this age?

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob [physical, national Israel];
For this is My covenant with them [Israel],
When I take away their [Israel's] sins.”

This teaches us, from the prophets (remember, Paul taught nothing that was not found in Moses and the Prophets, Acts 26:22) that God's Plan always included the restoration of the Kingdom in Israel (Acts 1:1-6; Acts 3:12-22). This truth is truth revealed "from" or "since" the beginning of the world [ages] ("things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world [time]began" -Acts 3:21). The truths for today were hidden from the prophets and were hidden in God from "before" the ages began. The truths for today and its blessings (and riches) concern heavenly places, not the blessings of earth. We find these truth in the epistles written AFTER the Acts Age

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me [Paul], who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the dispensation [stewardship]of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.

We pause to also see that Paul is now casting himself as "the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles." rather than as in chains "for the hope of Israel" as he teaches in Acts 28 ("because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain - Acts 28:20). Paul also testified to this at his trial in the Acts Age ("And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain" -Acts 26:6-7).

Again we see the twelve tribes and the fathers. The contrast here is with physical promises to Israel. We can never claim access or inclusion in either way. 

Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Finally, for this short study, we note that physical and national Israel became enemies of the gospel for the sake of God's plan (which was spoken by the Prophets) to bless Gentiles. But in noting that fact from the Acts Age, Paul reminds us (the Holy Spirit thus reminds us) that God's calling and Plan for Israel and the Kingdom and the Priesthood and the land are "irrevocable." There will be an Israel made up of believing Jews. The New Covenant with the House of Israel will come to pass.

There is a plan for national, physical Israel, and the induvial responsibility of Jews to believe. We must rightly divide these truths when we read scripture. 

We note again, however, this does not involve the calling or hope of the present age.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Revisiting Tartarus, Hades, Gehenna, and Judgments

Quick Refresher

We must note, Tartarus is not Hades. Hades (Sheol) is the state of the dead. Paul only uses "Hades" twice: once in regard to the Lord and the other in regard to believers (who remain dead until resurrection). It is not a place of torment. Paul was no "hellfire and brimstone" preacher. The enemy is death and the rescue from death is resurrection Life (1 Cor 15:21-26; 1 Cor 15:54-56; Rev 21:4; etc.)

Tartarus is only used once in all of scripture and is specific to the angels who sinned. Not sure where Tartarus is, but it could be connected with water.

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment... 

-2 Peter 2:4

Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. 

-Revelation 9:14-15

Another word often unfortunately translated as "hell" (like Hades and Tartarus) is Gehenna. Gehenna is a specific place in the land (the Valley of Hinnom or the Valley of Slaughter - Jer 19:6). It is where a great future fire will burn (literally) and "carcasses" will be thrown in it. As with "the gates of Hades," the Lord is quoting Isaiah and not introducing a new idea when he speaks of the place where "their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched" (Mark 9:43-48). Again, the context of Isaiah 66 is a future event, concerning the land.

And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses (Hebrew: פֶּגֶר "peger" dead bodies) of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. 
-Isaiah 66:24

If you read the entire passage, the context is the fulfillment of the New Covenant for Israel (which is hers and still future). She will take her place as a witness to the nations (Gentiles) and her place as a Kingdom of priests (the subject of the covenants). That's a bigger topic (The New Covenant).

The gift of resurrection Life has always been a free gift, by grace, through faith, since Adam. Nothing can alter that. However, there is a judgment of service and faithfulness for all servants. There are also different families of God (Eph 3:15) which will come together only alluded to in scripture. Before that, there are several different hopes.

The Hopes of Scripture

Some are hoping for a restored Paradise, others in the restored Kingdom (the subject of the Lord's earthly ministry and the apostles to the circumcision). The kingdom was forbidden to be preached to Gentiles or outside the land. (Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 15:24; Romans 15:8; etc.)

This ministry had to do with the earth and the land. In fact, most of scripture concerns these hopes. There is a greater hope which is the New Jerusalem which comes down from the heavens to the earth. This is the hope of the "better resurrection" (Heb 11:35), "the city... whose builder and maker is God" (Heb 11:9-11). Then there is a hope which is in the "far above the heavens" (or in heavenly places). (Eph1:3; Eph 2:6). This was hidden from BEFORE the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). The other hopes are FROM or SINCE the foundation of the world.

Paul preached only that which was taught by Moses and the Prophets in the Acts. He testified to this in his ministry and at his trial (Acts 22:26). But in Ephesians, he reveals a Mystery (there are several Mysteries in scripture), that is, a secret, which was given to Paul alone (Eph 3:8-12). It was "hidden in God from the foundation of the ages." It has do with heavenly places and has nothing to do with the promises to Abraham (the land) or to David (the promise of a Kingdom). Note that the 12 disciples are promised to "sit on 12 thrones" in the land in the kingdom "judging the 12 tribes of Israel". Earthly callings.

Heavenly places is where Christ sits. It is the place of true Holy of Holies (the earthly one was but a shadow) where Christ is building the true heavenly temple (Eph 3:19-22). Currently, the heavenly places are corrupted with the evil principalities and powers (they're not in "hell" ; Eph 3:10; Eph 6:12).

The earthly hopes have much to do with Israel as does the New Jerusalem (which has the names of the 12 tribes on it as well as the names of the 12 apostles to the circumcision). All, of any family of God, are saved by grace through faith, and all will face a judgment for service.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.

Those Cast Into Outer Darkness

The judgment of being "cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth" has nothing to do with "hell" or with losing the free gift of Life. It concerns faithfulness and service. It is connected to "the gospel of the Kingdom" (Matt 4:23; Matt 9:35; Matt 24:14) which was and will be concerning Israel. Big topic, so I'll circle back to the outer darkness.

We first see this in Matthew 8. All we have at this point is the proclamation of the King and the Kingdom from John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ. No idea or mention of his death.

And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

This is a judgment of "the sons of the kingdom." How many preachers point that out? The context is Israel and Gentiles. Some Gentiles will come and sit down with Abraham, but some sons (heirs) of the Kingdom will be cast out among the nations for faithlessness or poor service.

Gonna try and finish by noting the two other references. The next is in Matthew 22 regarding a "guest" from outside the land ("the highways") not having a wedding garment. We know from the Revelation (another Kingdom book) that white garments are "the righteous acts of the saints" (Rev 19:8) and is connected to the wedding of the Lamb (Rev 19:9). The overcomers are clothed in white garments (Rev 2 & 3).

The last occurrence of the casting out in Matthew is in regard to "servants."

For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.... “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Unbelievers are not the Lord's servants. There are two paths all believers are on (no matter the hope in view). We are either on the road to faithfulness and perfection (maturity) or on the road to unfaithful service and perdition (loss). Life is not in question, but reward.

And faithfulness includes being faithful to the calling to which we have been called (Eph 1:18; Eph 4:1). Not just "obeying the Bible." I can build an ark. I can start walking to Jerusalem. I can build a tabernacle. I can build a temple. I can slay Amorites. I can believe one of my descendants will sit on the throne in Jerusalem. I can sleep on my side for 40 days, I can start out for Nineveh, I can observe days, feasts, and ordinances. I can try to observe the Ten Commandments. I can place myself under various covenants. But God has not called us unto those things. Not everything is for all people of all ages in all hopes.

We have the highest and greatest calling in this age! We have "unsearchable riches in Christ!"

So we can be wicked in our bodies (adulteries, fornications, greed, hatreds, etc. etc. etc.) or we can go about busying ourselves trying to please God in the flesh according to another calling for another hope. Either way, I cannot lose the free gift, but I can lose reward, crowns, or the Prize of the High Calling (Phil 3:14). Note, our calling is a "high calling." It has to do with a place in the far above the heavens. This is why we shouldn't busy ourselves with the ordinances and commands regarding the land, the kingdom, and the earth (Col 2).

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Revisiting the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13)

 After looking back at my summation of the Parable of Sower in our series on the Kingdom parables of Matthew 13, I realized I needed to add some more context and depth. The two posts work together. 


And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.

-Matthew 4:23


We need to understand that the context of the parable is not the gospel of the grace of God by faith in the death burial and resurrection of the Lord. Apart from the obvious reason that none of that had happened yet, they didn't even know it was going to happen. The Lord announced his impending death in Matthew 16:21-23 to his disciples. They refused to believe it. So, they certainly were not preaching it (as we shall see) nor was the Lord referencing here in Matthew 13.

The context of Matthew 13 is the gospel of the Kingdom announced by the Lord in Matthew 4:23 and Matthew 9:35. Young's Literal Translation calls it "the word of the reign." This is the message he sent the 12 to preach in Matthew 10:5-7. Note that it was forbidden to be preached to anyone but to Jews and only in the land of Israel (Matt 10:5-7). It involves the Kingdom and Reign of the Lord on earth. 

This is what the Olivet Discourse and the Revelation and the Prophets (and related scriptures) are about. That is, this is part of God's plan for the earth (Israel land... as is The Book of Matthew). These are the "promises made to the fathers" and "the hope of Israel" taught by Paul and the Lord's mission during the Acts Age.

Matthew starts his gospel with the genealogy of the Lord back to Abraham (the promise of the Land) and David (the promise of the throne and a Kingdom for his seed). The meek shall inherit the earth (not heaven). They will pray in the Tribulation that God's will "be done on earth as it is in heaven." The twelve are promised to sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel, in the kingdom, on the earth. Even the New Jerusalem comes down to earth (the land). Most of scripture deals with God's plan for Israel and for the earth. The Tree of Life and Paradise are not restored until the very end.

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

We know from Matthew 15 that the Lord, in dealing with a Gentile woman who called him "Son of David" (for which she had no right) stated that he was "not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt 5:24). He did not lie.

Peter confirms this in Acts 3 when he addresses "ye men of Israel" and promises them that if they repented, the Lord would return (we do not preach this today). Paul states in Romans 15:8 and at his trial that the Lord came to confirm the promises made "to the fathers." The Kingdom is "the hope of Israel." (As noted above)

[Here we should consider the gentile centurion in Matthew 8 and the future role of Israel as priests for the nations in Zechariah]

The Centrality of the Restoration of Israel

After the Lord's resurrection he spent 40 days teaching the disciples, who had their understanding opened about the Kingdom (Acts 1:3). They had one question: "will you, at this time, restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). They didn't misunderstand him for 40 days about the Kingdom and the Lord does not correct them.

So, the sowing in Matthew 13 (The Parables of the Kingdom) is not about the individual gift of resurrection life (although that's part of it), it is about national Israel (which does include individuals). We note quickly here again that this specific "gospel of the Kingdom" will again be preached in the future (Matthew 24:9-14). It will preached during the tribulation "and then the end will come."

And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations [gentiles]; and then shall the end come.

In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25 we see the "nations" judged for how they treated "the least of these my brethren" (the Jews) during the Tribulation. We must see the centrality of Israel and the God's plan for the land and the earth in the synoptic gospels (especially in Matthew) if we are going to understand the parables.

What we see in the parable of the Sower: 
the different sowings of the gospel of the Kingdom to Israel.

In Matthew 12, The Lord was accused of being "possessed of a demon." This was the unpardonable sin. From that time, he began to speak in parables as a judgment (he left the HOUSE and went down by the sea). Part of that judgment was that he began to speak to the multitudes in parables (no longer plain speech). This judgment upon Israel was prophesied by Isaiah and thus quoted by the Lord here.

Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’

-Matthew 13:13-15 

Parables are cryptic and hard to be understood. They are given so that only the diligent will understand.

And the disciples came, and said unto him, "Why speakest thou unto THEM in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to THEM it is not given.

A Brief Summary

The parables of the kingdom are given to Israel and are difficult to discern. The Parable of the Sower lays out the different sowings to the people of Israel in the past and in the "end" (Matthew 24). We know the seed is, specifically, "the word of the kingdom" (Matthew 13:19) here. This is for Israel. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The restoration of the Kingdom in Israel (Acts 1:3-6) was close, if they would accept it. 

We see four sowings in the parable. In the Parable of the Tares we are told the sower there is "the Son of Man," we are not told that in the first parable. There is a surface meaning which can apply in any age. There will always be those who reject scripture, those who accept gladly, but shrink away because of persecution or love of the world; and some who are radically changed. But here the meaning is deeper and the context is the "word of the Kingdom."

As we noted, the gospel of the kingdom is for Israel alone. In this parable we see the great prophetic sowings of the gospel of the kingdom offer to Israel (the land):

1. John the Baptist: Israel hardly affected. Birds representing the evil one.

2. The Lord Jesus: we see great swelling crowds cheering the Lord. But their faith is short-lived. Within days of hailing Him as the King of Israel, they are calling for his crucifixion.

3. The Apostles in the Acts: the 12 "went to Jews only" (Acts 11) and ministered the gospel to the circumcision. They wrote epistles to the Jewish dispersion. Paul went "to the Jew first" in that age. But while there was a great move of faith in the early days, when pressure and persecution came, many returned to the slavery of the law (minus the finished work). Jews kept the Law in the Acts age, but were to never mix it with grace or to impose it on Gentiles (apart from where scripture imposed it). We also see the future persecution during the tribulation in Israel. Many considered the message, but rejected it in the end.

[The present age, hidden from the prophets (Eph 3), is not seen in the parables of Matthew 13. This is the age of the Parable of the Wedding invitation which goes out to the highways and byways to find guests for the wedding, not a Bride, Matthew 22]

4. Fruit in the Tribulation and the End: Finally, during Israel's time of distress (the time of Jacob's trouble) the true is separated from the false... then when Israel sees her king, whom she has pierced, they weep for the ultimate son of Abraham. This is the message that goes out in the Revelation. Then the New Covenant with the House of Israel (to whom it is given)l comes in.

I can't quote the New Covenant here in toto, but it should be read in Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8. It is yet future. It is for Israel. Just a slice of it:

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn..."
-Zech 12:10

Israel and her promises and her kingdom and her covenants is the context (especially in Matthew).

If we do not see Israel and God's promises and plans in regard to the promised land and the promised earthly kingdom, we will not understand the parables. Quick food for thought: the Gospel of John contains no parables.

For Reference: The Prophetic Word on the Ministries of John the Baptist and of Our Lord:

The fruit shall be of Israel

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.  For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.  And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.  He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

There is also a future prophecy of the Lord's ministry and reign over Israel.

Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel...

And behold, you [Mary] will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever [for the ages], and of His kingdom there will be no end.”