And the disciples came, and said to him, Why speak you to them in parables?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The disciples came, and said unto him.—They, it would seem, were with our Lord in the boat. The parable was ended, and then followed a pause, during which, unheard by the multitude on the shore, came their question and our Lord’s answer.
Why speakest thou unto them in parables?—The wonder of the disciples probably included many elements of surprise. Why in parables instead of, as before, the direct announcement of the kingdom of heaven, and the call to prepare for it by repentance? And why to them, when they were not students with intellect sharpened in Rabbinic schools, but plain peasants and fishermen, slow and dull of heart?Matthew 13:10-12. The disciples — Mark says, οι περι αυτον συν τοις δωδεκα, those that were about him, with the twelve, that is, not only the apostles, but such other well-disposed persons as generally attended on Christ’s ministry, and were desirous of learning of him; came to him, namely, when the assembly was broke up, and Christ had delivered many other parables afterward mentioned; for they came when he was alone, Mark 4:10, and said, Why speakest thou to them in parables? — Although not only the Jewish doctors, but all the wise men of the East taught by parables, yet because this way of teaching had in it somewhat of obscurity, and the doctrine contained under the veil of these allegories was not so easy to be apprehended as if it had been exhibited plainly and openly, without such a cover, therefore the disciples inquire why he used this more obscure, and to many unintelligible, mode of teaching. He said, Because it is given to you — Who have forsaken all to follow me, whose minds are divested of prejudice, and open to receive the truth in the love of it; to know, experimentally and practically, as well as to understand, the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven — That is, the more deep and spiritual matters relating to the Messiah’s kingdom, especially such as respect inward and vital religion. For the truths here alluded to, and explained in the interpretation of this parable, are as far from being mysteries, in the common acceptation of the word, that is, doctrines incomprehensible, as any thing in the world can be. But to them — Who have not been prevailed upon to forsake any thing in order to follow me, and who are obstinate to such a degree that they will not hear any thing contrary to their prejudices and passions, it is not given: For whosoever hath — That is, improves what he has, uses the grace and blessings imparted according to the design of the Giver, to him shall be given — More and more, in proportion to that improvement. But whosoever hath not — Improves it not, from him shall be taken even what he hath — Here is the grand rule of God’s dealing with the children of men: a rule, fixed as the pillars of heaven. This is the key to all his providential dispensations, as will appear to men and angels in that day.Mark 4:10-12; Luke 8:9-10.
Why speakest thou to them in parables?—Though before this He had couched some things in the parabolic form, for more vivid illustration, it would appear that He now, for the first time, formally employed this method of teaching.Luke 8:9, His disciples asked him, saying, what might this parable be? Mark saith, Mark 4:10, When he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. It should seem that his twelve apostles understood his meaning, but others that with them were about him when the multitude were gone did not: they therefore desire of him,
1. That they might understand the reason why he spake to the multitude in dark sayings and similitudes, without plainly opening this meaning to them.
2. They own their own dulness of understanding, and confess that they themselves were ignorant, and therefore desired him that he would tell them the meaning of this parable, with which he had entertained the multitude.
Their staying with the twelve when the generality of the multitudes were departed argued that they came with a desire to learn and to be instructed, not out of a mere curiosity to see Christ, or in a mere formality. They show both their charity, in desiring others might be intelligibly instructed; and their piety, in desiring that they might be more fully themselves instructed.
why speakest thou unto them in parables? not that this way of speaking was new and surprising to them; but because it was not easily understood, especially not by the common people, without an explanation, which, as yet, Christ had not given: and indeed the parable was not understood by the disciples themselves; who put this question, not only for the sake of the multitude, but for their own also, hoping to be favoured with the meaning of it.And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 13:10-17. The disciples ask an explanation. There is some difficulty in forming a clear idea of this interlude. Who asked? The Twelve only, or they and others with them, as Mark states (Matthew 4:10)? And when? Immediately after the parable was spoken, or, as was more likely, after the teaching of the day was over? The one certain point is that an explanation was asked and given.10–17. The Reason why Jesus teaches in Parables
Mark 4:10-12; Luke 8:1010. parables] The parable is suited (1) to the uninstructed, as being attractive in form and as revealing spiritual truth exactly in proportion to the capacity of the hearer; and (2) to the divinely wise as wrapping up a secret which he can penetrate by his spiritual insight. In this it resembles the Platonic myth; it was the form in which many philosophers clothed their deepest thoughts. (3) It fulfils the condition of all true knowledge. He alone who seeks finds. In relation to Nature, Art, God Himself, it may be said the dull “seeing see not.” The commonest and most obvious things hide the greatest truths. (4) The divine Wisdom has been justified in respect to this mode of teaching. The parables have struck deep into the thought and language of men (not of Christians only), as no other teaching could have done; in proof of which it is sufficient to name such words and expressions as “talents,” “dispensation,” “leaven,” “prodigal son,” “light under a bushel,” “building on sand.”Matthew 13:10. Διατί, κ.τ.λ., why? etc.) It seemed a new thing to the disciples; see Matthew 13:3.Verses 10-17. - The reason why Christ spoke to the multitudes in parables. The question of the disciples (ver. 10). Christ's antithesis - You are the recipients of God's gift; they are not (ver. 11). This is not arbitrary, but in accordance with a universal law (ver. 12). They have not been using their faculties, and therefore they are thus judged, in accordance with the words of Isaiah (vers. 13-15). The privilege of the disciples further insisted upon (vers. 16, 17). Verse 10. - Matthew alone in this form. In Luke the disciples asked our Lord what the parable was; in Mark, more generally, they "asked of him the parables." Whether the question as given by St. Matthew was actually spoken by the disciples or not, the Lord's answer, the substance of which is the same in all three accounts, suggests that it at least represents their thoughts. St. Matthew probably wishes to bring out with special clearness, by his version of their words, the point of our Lord's reply. And the disciples. Including more than the twelve; so Mark, "They that were about him with the twelve" (cf. Matthew 5:1, note) Came. Presumably some little time afterwards, for he must have left the boat (ver. 2). And said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? Them; i.e. those outside the circle of Christ's followers (οἱ ἔξω, Mark). For the general meaning of our Lord's reply to this question, see the remarks at the beginning of this chapter. Other questions about our Lord's reasons for what he did are to be found in Matthew 9:11, 14; Matthew 15:2; Matthew 17:19; Matthew 26:8 (cf. also Matthew 12:2 with Luke 6:2).
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