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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Parable of the Scribe

We have finally come to the last parable of "the kingdom of heaven" in Matthew 13. Now, your bible probably only lists seven, but the wording in verse 52 is clearly parabolic (there's a 50 cent word!).

Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”
-Matthew 13:52

This is the balance to the Parable of the Sower.

- B Wheat and Tares
-- C Mustard Seed
--- D Leaven
--- D Treasure
-- C Pearl
- B Drag Net

This is at the end, in the house. The treasure is brought out by the householder (Gk: oikodespótēs, "master of the House"). This final note is Israel finally taking to her calling in the "great commission" to the Gentile nations. The good seed is bearing fruit.

We know that the "whole world" was promised to be blessed through Abraham (Gen 18:17-18; Gal 3:8-9; etc). That is via two ways: Jesus as the Christ and Israel as the conduit of God's earthly blessings. Remember, Abraham was blessed and justified BEFORE he was circumcised. He was of the uncircumcised (Rom 4).

When we look at the parables given "in the house," we see this structure:

The nation of Israel as distinct from the nations
The remnant of Israel as distinct from the nation
The Gentile nations as distinct from Israel
Israel, viewed as a missionary nation sent to the nations.
(Charles Welch, Parables - An Alphabetical Analysis)

The "mystery" of the one new man of Ephesians was never Gentile faith. Scripture has shown us gentile faith from the beginning (as we saw with Abraham). We see all of Nineveh come to faith in the Book of Jonah, for example. And in Matthew itself we see this being said of the Roman Centurion by the Lord, "I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!" (Matt 8:10)

Peter heard this as well. So, we should cease with accusing him of ignorance when he is sent to Cornelius in Acts 10. The Lord never entered the Centurion's home in Matt 8 and never sees nor touches the Gentile servant he heals. Peter was right to say he had not been in the home of Gentile. The Lord was changing conditions, and Peter (as the one with the keys to the kingdom, Matt 16:19) was being instructed.

We discover the Spirit and the gifts falling on Gentiles was granted by the Lord to make Israel jealous (Rom 10:19-20; 11:11). This was also prophesied. It is not something hidden revealed. Romans 10:19 is a quote from Deuteronomy 32:21.

The prophets knew of this (Gal 3; Rom 15; etc.). But the body (Eph 2:14-16) Paul speaks of in Ephesians was hidden from the prophets (Eph 3:9). We know from his trial in Acts 26 that Paul spoke "no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come" (v.22). In the last chapter of Acts, Paul went to the Jews in Rome "persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets" (Acts 28:23).

Paul was in chains in the Acts "for the hope of Israel" (Acts 28:20). In Ephesians he reveals he is now "the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles" (Eph 3:1).

As we have noted before, it was not until the end of the Acts age that God reveals his "hidden" plan for the present age. That which was "at hand" for Israel in Matthew and in the Acts age, was put on hold. These parables, and the Book of Acts, will soon come alive again as Israel is once again restored.

That is the teaching of the parables of Matthew 13. As we move on to the other parables in Matthew, we must keep this context in mind.