The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds


#1

In Saint Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 13 verses 24-30 we read Our Lord’s parable of the Wheat and the Weeds.

24 And he put before them another parable; Here is an image, he said, of the kingdom of heaven. There was a man who sowed his field with clean seed;
25 but while all the world was asleep, an enemy of his came and scattered tares among the wheat, and was gone.
26 So, when the blade had sprung up and come into ear, the tares, too, came to light;
27 and the farmer’s men went to him and said, Sir, was it not clean seed thou didst sow in thy field? How comes it, then, that there are tares in it?
28 He said, An enemy has done it. And his men asked him, Wouldst thou then have us go and gather them up?
29 But he said, No; or perhaps while you are gathering the tares you will root up the wheat with them.
30 Leave them to grow side by side till harvest, and when harvest-time comes I will give the word to the reapers, Gather up the tares first, and tie them in bundles to be burned, and store the wheat in my barn.

I have come across two interpretations of this parable:
[LIST=1]
*]It symbolises the Church in which both sinners and saints live together and are separated at the judgement
*]It symbolises “true Christians” (Wheat) among counterfeit ones (Weeds)[/LIST]
The former is — to my knowledge — the common interpretation, while the latter one is advanced by some of those who deny that either the Catholic Church or any of the mainline Protestant denominations are the “true Church”, some Baptists and Evangelicals, but also non-Christians such as Mormons and JWs would come to mind.

I see the point in the arguments for the respective interpretation, however I am currently facing the second one in preparation for a discussion with a JW friend of mine. They argue:

“Wheat” and “Weeds”

…] You may be surprised to learn that Jesus expected his congregation to disappear from view and that he would allow such a sad situation to continue for centuries.

Identifying his congregation with “the kingdom of the heavens,” he said: [Mt 13:24-30]

Jesus explained that he was “the sower.” “The fine seed” pictured his genuine disciples. His “enemy” was Satan the Devil. “The weeds” were counterfeit Christians who infiltrated the early Christian congregation. He said that he would let “the wheat” and “the weeds” grow together until “the harvest,” which would come at “a conclusion of a system of things.” (Matthew 13:37-43) What did all of this mean?

The Christian Congregation Corrupted
Soon after the death of the apostles, apostate teachers from within the congregation began to take control of it. They spoke “twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29, 30) As a result, many Christians ‘fell away from the faith.’ They were “turned aside to false stories.”—1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:3, 4.

By the fourth century C.E., says The New Dictionary of Theology, “Catholic Christianity had become the official … religion of the Roman Empire.” There was …] a merging of Church and State that was diametrically opposed to the beliefs of the early Christians. (John 17:16; James 4:4) The same source states that in time, the whole structure and nature of the church, as well as many of its fundamental beliefs, was changed radically …] As predicted by Jesus Christ, his genuine disciples were hidden from sight as counterfeit Christians flourished.

Jesus’ listeners knew how difficult it was to tell genuine wheat from weeds, such as poisonous bearded darnel, which during the growing season has an appearance much like that of wheat. So Jesus was illustrating that for a while, it would be difficult to distinguish true Christians from the counterfeit variety. This does not mean that the Christian congregation ceased to exist, for Jesus promised to continue to guide his spiritual brothers “all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 28:20) …] But they no longer made up a clearly identifiable, visible body, or organization. They were certainly not identical with the visible apostate religious system that throughout history brought nothing but disgrace and dishonor to the name of Jesus Christ.—2 Peter 2:1, 2.

Watchtower 1 Sep 2003, pp. 5-6, One True Christian Faith — A Reality, bolded red mine

Since this interpretation is necessarily contrary to the Catholic position, how can it be answered? Do you see any inconsistencies, logical fallacies, statements contrary to Scripture?

To give you the context, this goes with two other threads I opened on the discussion with my JW friend, one on the Canon of Scripture and one on the authority to interpret Scripture.

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. :slight_smile:


#2

Well I see a big issue with their interpretation, and that is that if it was true we should be able to demostrate it quite easily.

That is however NOT the case and in fact the continuity of the Catholic Church can be shown with documents that go back to the first apostles. Also that position would go completely contrary to Jesus own words.


#3

[quote="JerryZ, post:2, topic:339896"]
Well I see a big issue with their interpretation, and that is that if it was true we should be able to demostrate it quite easily.

That is however NOT the case and in fact the continuity of the Catholic Church can be shown with documents that go back to the first apostles. Also that position would go completely contrary to Jesus own words.

[/quote]

Could you expound a little on that?

For example, what should we be able to demonstrate easily? Against which words does it go?


#4

"We should be able to demonstrate quite easily" that the "Church" disappeared as they claim.

And I would object because we can demonstrate the opposite and with documents.

There is a thread going back all the way to the First Apostles IN the Catholic Church.

The Church Fathers, Councils, Popes, etc. As our last Pope used to say "A Hermeneutic of Continuity" is what assures us of our faith that our Faith is well grounded.

Their's "faith" is indeed sprung up, what? 1800 years after the fact and would require for their "explanation" in order to have ANY credibility.

--


#5

[quote="JerryZ, post:4, topic:339896"]
"We should be able to demonstrate quite easily" that the "Church" disappeared as they claim.

And I would object because we can demonstrate the opposite and with documents.

[/quote]

They don't claim it didn't exist. They say they are the "true Christians" who were there all along, just "hidden" among the "counterfeit Christians".


#6

D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 24. Another parable he proposed. As in the preceding parable our Lord spoke of those who did not receive the word, so in this he speaks of those who receive the corrupted word; for it is a diabolical machination to confound error with truth. (St. Chrysostom in St. Thomas Aquinas) --- There are three things worthy of observation in this parable. 1st. That the Church of God on earth consists of both good and bad; the 2d. that God is not the author of evil; the 3d. that God does not always punish the wicked on the spot, but patiently bears with them. (Menochius)

Ver. 25. Were asleep. When the superiors or pastors of the Church were lulled asleep or negligent, or, when the apostles were dead, as St. Augustine expounds it, the devil spread the tares or error and sin amongst a great number of Christians. These falling from the state of grace, or becoming heretics, are yet mingled with the rest of the faithful in the same outward profession of Christianity, not unlike the good corn and cockle in the same field.

Ver. 27. Then the servants. St. Chrysostom observes, there are many circumstances in the parables that have no connexion with the instruction designed to be conveyed in the parables, and which are merely added to connect the different parts together.

Ver. 29. No, lest, &c. The prayers of repenting sinners are never despised. We are taught also by this example not to cut off too hastily a fallen brother; for, whatever he may be to-day, to-morrow perhaps he may see his error and embrace the truth. (St. Jerome). --- Jesus Christ exhorts us to bear with infidels and heretics, not on our own account only, as wicked men are frequently of use to the virtuous, but also on their account; for sometimes the persons who have been corrupted and perverted, will return to the paths of virtue and truth. Let, therefore, both grow until the harvest, i.e. to the day of judgment, when the power of rectifying another's error shall be no more. (St. Augustine in St. Thomas Aquinas) --- When many are implicated in one misfortune, what remains but to bewail their condition. Let us then be willing to correct our brethren to the utmost of our power, but let it be always with mercy, charity and compassion; what we cannot correct, let us bear with patience, permitting what God permits, and interceding with him to move and convert their hearts. But when an opportunity offers, let us publicly advocate the truth, and condemn error. (St. Jerome) --- St. Augustine affirms, that no one should be compelled by force to an unity of religious tenets: such as dissent for us must be persuaded by words, overcome by argumentation, and convinced by reason. (St. Thomas Aquinas)


#7

[quote="CutlerB, post:1, topic:339896"]
In Saint Matthew's Gospel Chapter 13 verses 24-30 we read Our Lord's parable of the Wheat and the Weeds.

[/quote]

In the Parable of the Weeds found in Matthew 13, Jesus tells His disciples to anticipate corruption within the Church. He said:

Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' (Matthew 13:24-30)

Notice it is not the world at large that is being described but rather the “kingdom of heaven” or Church that is portrayed as the field containing both wheat and weeds. Jesus does not indicate that weeds (sinners) should be uprooted from the field (Church) until the separation done at the time of the final harvest.

The Church is not a paradise for saints who are already perfected but a hospital for the spiritually sick who are being healed.

Jesus clearly taught that sins of individual Church leaders do not invalidate the authority of the positions those leaders hold. These sins, whether real or imagined, do not undermine the legitimate authority of the Catholic Church and do not provide an excuse for those who refuse to acknowledge and obey her. The authority given by God to the Church and the office of the Papacy is the same today as it was in the days of Peter, Linus, Anacletus and Clement because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.


#8

Seems to me there would be no better explanation of the parable than what Jesus said. Matt 13:36-43 says, "Then having sent away the multitudes, he came into the house, and his disciples came to him, saying: Expound to us the parable of the cockle of the field. Who made answer and said to them: He that soweth the good seed, is the Son of man. And the field, is the world. And the good seed are the children of the kingdom. And the cockle, are the children of the wicked one. And the enemy that sowed them, is the devil. But the harvest is the end of the world. And the reapers are the angels. Even as cockle therefore is gathered up, and burnt with fire: so shall it be at the end of the world. The Son of man shall send his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all scandals, and them that work iniquity. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the just shine as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." (DRA). The wheat and tares (weeds, cockles, whatever your translation says) grow up together. The wheat does not "disappear", become hidden or overcome in any way by the tares, and is able to be separated from the tares at the end. The harvest is at the end of the world, not a "system". As far as apostasy, there were heresies that tried to creep in while the Apostles were still alive, so it should not be a surprise that they continued to creep in after they were gone. This, of course, has no effect on the wheat (true believers in Christ).


#9

[quote="Randy_Carson, post:7, topic:339896"]
In the Parable of the Weeds found in Matthew 13, Jesus tells His disciples to anticipate corruption within the Church. He said:

Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' (Matthew 13:24-30)

Notice it is not the world at large that is being described but rather the “kingdom of heaven” or Church that is portrayed as the field containing both wheat and weeds. Jesus does not indicate that weeds (sinners) should be uprooted from the field (Church) until the separation done at the time of the final harvest.

The Church is not a paradise for saints who are already perfected but a hospital for the spiritually sick who are being healed.

Jesus clearly taught that sins of individual Church leaders do not invalidate the authority of the positions those leaders hold. These sins, whether real or imagined, do not undermine the legitimate authority of the Catholic Church and do not provide an excuse for those who refuse to acknowledge and obey her. The authority given by God to the Church and the office of the Papacy is the same today as it was in the days of Peter, Linus, Anacletus and Clement because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

[/quote]

Very good, but one little question, if I may: What points to the Church being the field rather than the "good seed"?


#10

Here’s a great video about the meaning of this parable:
img407.imageshack.us/img407/9114/omhg.png


#11

[quote="CutlerB, post:1, topic:339896"]
In Saint Matthew's Gospel Chapter 13 verses 24-30 we read Our Lord's parable of the Wheat and the Weeds.

I have come across two interpretations of this parable:
[LIST=1]
*]It symbolises the Church in which both sinners and saints live together and are separated at the judgement
*]It symbolises "true Christians" (Wheat) among counterfeit ones (Weeds)[/LIST]
The former is — to my knowledge — the common interpretation, while the latter one is advanced by some of those who deny that either the Catholic Church or any of the mainline Protestant denominations are the "true Church", some Baptists and Evangelicals, but also non-Christians such as Mormons and JWs would come to mind.

I see the point in the arguments for the respective interpretation, however I am currently facing the second one in preparation for a discussion with a JW friend of mine. They argue:

Since this interpretation is necessarily contrary to the Catholic position, how can it be answered? Do you see any inconsistencies, logical fallacies, statements contrary to Scripture?

To give you the context, this goes with two other threads I opened on the discussion with my JW friend, one on the Canon of Scripture and one on the authority to interpret Scripture.

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. :)

[/quote]

IMO the parable just means that good and evil will be allowed to coexist-for a time-whether inside or outside of the church-and will ultimately be separated.


#12

Those jw’s are using the scriptures of the false church, i.e. the catholic church? Why did the true christians not have their own scriptures and if they did where are they preserved for the jw’s to reinterpret the false scriptures correctly?


#13

[quote="CutlerB, post:9, topic:339896"]
Very good, but one little question, if I may: What points to the Church being the field rather than the "good seed"?

[/quote]

Cachonga gave Jesus' own explanation of the parable, and His is obviously more important than mine. He was describing the world at large; I used the same parable to describe the situation analogously in the church.

In my usage, the enemy sows bad seed or bad teaching, doubts, etc. whereas the good seed is the Good News.


#14

[quote="Randy_Carson, post:13, topic:339896"]
Cachonga gave Jesus' own explanation of the parable, and His is obviously more important than mine. He was describing the world at large; I used the same parable to describe the situation analogously in the church.

In my usage, the enemy sows bad seed or bad teaching, doubts, etc. whereas the good seed is the Good News.

[/quote]

I didn't see that post! :O

So Jesus Himself says the following:

Sower: Himself
Field: The world
Good seed: "sons of the Kingdom"
Bad seed: "children of the wicked one"

But then I don't see why interpretation of the JWs is not possible from the words alone. What in either the parable or His explanation doesn't fit that one?


#15

OK, update! :)

I found this on the Internet:

It is clear the JW interpretation overturns the entire thrust of the Parable. Here are three principal errors with the JW interpretation:

(1) The Parable entails the Church getting over-run by Weeds and going apostate during almost its entire course. The JWs claim the "kingdom of heaven" as manifested in the world, started by Jesus at Pentecost suddenly fell into a "great apostasy" by 100AD. During the next 1800 years, few 'true believers' existed, if any, and there is no historical testimony of them. The JW view makes a total mockery of Jesus wanting to establish the "kingdom of heaven". The other parables in Matthew 13 make it clear the "kingdom of heaven" is supposed to be something that grows huge and transforms the world (Matthew 13:31-33).

(2) The Parable speaks of only two classes, good and evil. There is no indication there is a third, "great crowd" class of "sheeplike" (but not Sheep themselves) believing folks. The absurdity here is that the only good and evil people Jesus has in mind excludes the mass majority (i.e. great crowd) of Christian believers. The meaning of the parable shifts from Christians remaining steadfast in light of sin in the Church and changes the parable to signify an apostate church contrasted to a select few Jesus decides to anoint. The ordinary Christian goes from the main subject to a parentheses that must "attach themselves" with the anointed folks.

(3) The Parable makes the "harvest" the end of the world, not the beginning of a 'third phase'. Due to the JW emphasis on the "end times," since this is when the JWs were instituted, this is an important aspect for them. But clearly the harvest is not the main part of the Parable, only the conclusion, and a sudden one at that. The JW interpretation has the cut Wheat being transferred to the Storage Room signify being brought into a "restored Christian congregation," meaning a Restored Church. But this means this Restored Church is different from the "kingdom of heaven" Jesus has been speaking of this whole time! To add insult to injury, the JW position states that these "sons of the kingdom,"** already harvested**, must "remain faithful" during the harvest! They've basically taken the true meaning of the parable and shifted it to the harvest period. It is the harvest period when we see people being judged and taken to Heaven or Hell, not earth still living on as normal and not being able to fully distinguish who is really anointed or not.

catholicnick.blogspot.de/2012/02/jehovahs-witnesses-errors-encapsulated.html

Makes sense. :)


#16

Everyone has to find a way to get the Catholic Church out of the way so that their group can take its place.


#17

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