I. Video. Why Dallas Theological Seminary?
II. Article References.
Charles C. Ryrie, Th. D., Ph. D., D. Litt. Merrill F. Unger, Th. D., Ph. D. John F. Walvoord, Th. D., D. Litt. Harold W. Hoehner, Th. D., Ph. D. Stanley D. Toussaint, Th. D. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Th. D., D. Litt. J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D.
III. Article Narrative.
A. The Course Of This Present Age.
1. The age from the rejection of the Messiah by Israel, unto His reception by Israel at His second advent, is outlined in two portions of the Word: Matthew 13 and Revelation 2 and 3; the former from the viewpoint of God’s kingdom program, and the latter from the viewpoint of the church program.
2. The course of this present age will be considered as we discuss Matthew 13, in this study. The study of Revelation 2 and 3 has already been discussed in a study of the book of Revelation.
3. Matthew 13:11 reveals that our Lord is speaking in a way that He may give the course of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. This instruction comes through the proper instruction of the parables which are recorded here.
B. The Program Altered (The kingdom postponed).
1. The thirteenth chapter of Matthew marks a new division in the gospel, in which Jesus addresses Himself to the problem of what will occur when He goes back to heaven as the rejected King. The gospel of Matthew began with the proofs that Jesus was indeed the promised Son who would reign on the throne of David (chap. 1), supported by the visit of the wise men and the early ministry of John the Baptist (chaps. 2-3). After His temptation, Jesus presented the principles of His coming kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount (chaps. 5-7), emphasizing spiritual and moral principles that govern the kingdom of God, but especially as these applied to the prophesied kingdom on earth, which the Messiah-King was to bring when He came. The Sermon on the Mount accordingly contained timeless truths always applicable, some truths that were immediately applicable to Christ’s day on earth, and some truths that were to have their fulfillment in the millennial kingdom.
2. Chapter 13 faces the question, “what will happen when the rejected king goes back to heaven and the kingdom promised is postponed until His second coming?” The concept of a kingdom postponed must be understood as a postponement from the human side and not from the divine, as obviously God’s plans do not change. It may be compared to the situation at Kadesh-Barnea, when the children of Israel, bound for the promised land, because of unbelief, had their entrance postponed for forty years. If they had believed God, they might have entered the land immediately.
3. What is contingent from the human standpoint, however, is always planned from the divine standpoint. The rejection of Christ by His own people and His subsequent death and resurrection were absolutely essential to God’s program. Humanly speaking, the kingdom, instead of being brought in immediately, was postponed. From the divine viewpoint, the plan always included what actually happened. The human responsibility remains, however, and the rejection of the kingdom from this standpoint caused the postponement of the promised kingdom on earth.
4. This chapter, accordingly, does not only introduce a new subject and a new approach but also involves a new method of teaching, namely that of parables. While many of the illustrations which Christ used were designed to make plain the truth, parables were intended to reveal the truth only to believers and required explanation in order to understand them. In a sense, they were riddles which required a key, but supplied with the key, the truth became prophetically eloquent.
5. Jesus deliberately adopted the parabolic method of teaching at a particular stage in His ministry for the purpose of withholding further truth about Himself and the kingdom of heaven from the crowds, who had proved themselves to be deaf to His claims and irresponsive to His demands. From now onwards, when addressing the unbelieving multitude, He speaks only in parables, which He interprets to His disciples in private.
6. In this chapter are presented in the parables the mysteries of the kingdom. The parables are designed to reveal the mysteries of the kingdom, that is, the present age.
7. Mysteries, a word used of secret rites of various religious cults, refers to truth that was not revealed in the Old Testament but is revealed in the New Testament. More than a dozen such truths are revealed in the New Testament, all following the basic definition of Colossians 1:26, which defines a mystery as that “which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.” A mystery truth, accordingly, has two elements. First, it has to be hidden in the Old Testament and not revealed there. Second, it has to be revealed in the New Testament. It is not necessarily a reference to a truth difficult to understand, but rather to truths that can be understood only on the basis of divine revelation.
8. The Old Testament reveals, in clear terms, the earthly reign of Christ when He comes as King to reign on the throne of David (which truths are not mysteries). Matthew 13 introduces a different form of the kingdom, namely the present spiritual reign of the King during the period He is physically absent from the earth, prior to His second coming. The mysteries of the kingdom, accordingly, deal with the period between the first and second advent of Christ and not the millennial kingdom which will follow the second coming.
C. The Mysteries Of The Kingdom Of Heaven (The Parables).
1. This period includes the time from Pentecost, in Acts 2, to the rapture; that is, the age of grace (which we also call the age of the Holy Spirit, or the church age). Although this period includes the church age, it extends beyond it, for the parables of Matthew 13 precede Pentecost and extend beyond the rapture.
2. These parables do not primarily concern the nature, function, and influence of the church. Rather, they show the previously unrevealed form in which God’s theocratic rule would be exerted in a previously unrevealed age, made
necessary by Israel’s rejection of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 13 there are eight parables, each one providing an essential characteristic of the kingdom in this present age.
3. Seed, sowers, and soils. The first feature of this age is that it is characterized by a sowing of the seed by sowers and by varied responses to the sowing. In this parable, the seed (Matt. 13:3-8) represents the word, or “the message about the kingdom,” and the field represents the “heart” of the individual hearer (v. 19). In Scripture, the “heart” often indicates intellectual capacity. A message, then, was being proclaimed and heard, but there were varying responses. Some seed showed no sign of life at all (that sown by the wayside).Some produced no fruit (that sown on rocky places).
4. The sewing of seed gave promise of bearing fruit but was eventually fruitless (that sown among the thorns). There was seed that produced a crop, yielding a 100, 60, or 30 times what was sown (v. 23). Jesus was saying that instead of the fruitage of the Gospel showing an increase, there would be a marked decrease.
5. Mark recorded another parable by Jesus on the theme of sowing seed. This parable (Mark 4:26-29) was designed to teach that the fruit depends not on the sower but on the life that is in the seed itself. Regardless of what the sower did, the seed germinated, sprouted, grew, produced grain, and eventually yielded a bountiful harvest, which the man reaped. Jesus wanted to make it clear that any harvest they saw would be the result of sowing and then allowing the life in the seed to manifest itself by growth and yield.
6. Weeds among wheat. The second parable (13:24-29) was designed to supplement the first to teach that there would be a false sowing alongside the sowing of the Word of God. The field had been sown with good seed, and the sower could anticipate a harvest for his labors. Later, the sower was told that an enemy had sown the field with the seed of weeds.
7. This false sowing evidently took place immediately after the good seed had been sown. Then both kinds of seed germinated and sprouted. In the process of waiting for the harvest, it became evident that weeds had been sown in the wheat field. The presence of weeds would crowd out the growth of the fruit-bearing wheat. The servants, concerned as they were with the results of their labors, suggested that they try to remove the weeds from the field. However, the owner of the field recognized that it would be impossible to remove
the weeds without destroying the wheat. So the servants were commanded to let both ripen, and at the time of wheat harvest they would then separate the good grain from the worthless weeds, without destroying the wheat. The weeds could be burned and destroyed, while the wheat would be gathered into storage. Through this parable Jesus prepared these men to be on guard for Satan’s work of sowing false seed, or false doctrine, while they were sowing the good seed. Satan’s false kingdom would continue to exist alongside the new form of God’s kingdom.
8. The mustard seed. The third parable (13:31-32) reveals that this new form of the kingdom will have an almost imperceptible beginning. The emphasis in the parable is on the contrast between the size of the seed and the plants that are produced. “Small as a mustard seed” was a Jewish proverb to indicate a very minute particle. But out of that insignificant seed in one year would grow a plant which became large enough for birds to nest in. In Ezekiel 31:6 and Daniel 4:12, the figure of a spreading tree, in which birds lodge, indicates a great kingdom that can protect and provide benefits for many peoples. Christ would
commission only 11 men to become His emissaries (John 17:18). This would seem to be an insignificant beginning, yet Jesus predicted that the world would hear His message from such a small beginning. Thus the parable teaches that the new form of the kingdom, while it did have an insignificant beginning, would eventually spread to the ends of the earth.
9. The hidden leaven. The fourth parable (13:33) was designed to show how the
kingdom program would develop and operate in the present age. Some have referred to this as “The Parable of the Leaven,” but that title puts emphasis on what leaven is or signifies. Actually, this is “The Parable of Leaven Hidden in Meal.” In other words, the parable emphasizes what leaven does or how leaven works. When the leaven, or yeast, was introduced into the flour, a process began that was steady, continuous, and irreversible. That process continued until the whole mixture was leavened. Thus Jesus was teaching that the kingdom would not be established by outward means; this was because no external force could make the dough rise. Rather, this new form of the kingdom would operate according to an internal force that would be continuous and progressive until the whole mixture had been leavened. Here the emphasis was on the Holy Spirit and concerned His ministry to the world. Christ would again speak of this in John 15:26 and 16:7-11.
10. Hidden treasure and the expensive pearl, The fifth and sixth parables reveal what accrues to God through the kingdom in this present age. In the “Parable of the Treasure Hidden in the Field” (13:44), Jesus revealed that a multitude from Israel will become God’s purchased possession through this present age.
11. In the “Parable of the Merchant Looking for Fine Pearls” (13:45-46), Jesus revealed that God will obtain a treasure not only from the nation Israel but from the Gentiles as well. We understand this because a pearl comes out of the sea, and quite frequently in Scripture the sea represents Gentile nations. Therefore, we see that a treasure from among the Gentiles becomes God’s by purchase.
12. The dragnet. The seventh parable (vv. 47-50) reveals that this new form of the kingdom will conclude in a judgment separating the righteous from the unrighteous. The net drawn up from the sea brings all kinds of fish, some useful and some useless. Through this parable Christ taught that the age will end in a judgment to determine who enters the future millennial kingdom and who is excluded.
13. Righteousness is a prerequisite for entrance into the kingdom. The righteous are taken into it, but the unrighteous are excluded. The destiny of the wicked is not the blessing of the kingdom, but rather the judgment of eternal fire. This same truth, concerning the judgment prior to the institution of the millennial kingdom, is taught in Matthew 25:1-30, where Christ predicted judgment on the nation Israel, and in verses 31-46 where He described judgment on living Gentiles. The judgment predicted here is not a judgment on the dead but on the living, and it will take place at the time of Christ’s second advent to the earth.
14. The householder The eighth and final parable of Matthew 13 is that of the householder (v. 52), which teaches that some features of the new form of the kingdom are identical to features previously revealed about the new and have no correspondence to what had been revealed about the millennial form of the kingdom.
D. A New Form Of The Kingdom.
1. As we survey the Matthew 13 parables, we find that in light of Israel’s rejection of Christ, He foresaw postponement of the millennial form of the kingdom. He announced the introduction of a new form of the kingdom, one that would span the period from Israel’s rejection of Christ until Israel’s future reception of Christ at His second advent.
2. This present age, with its new form of the kingdom, is characterized by the sowing of the Word, to which there will be varying responses depending on the soil’s preparation (the soils). The harvest that results from the sowing is the result of the life that is in the sown seed (the seed growing of itself). Concurrent with the sowing of the Word is a false counter-sowing (the weeds).
3. The new form of the kingdom had an insignificant beginning, but it will grow to great proportions (the mustard seed). The power in the kingdom is not external but internal (the leaven hidden in meal). God will gather a peculiar treasure to Himself through this present age (the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price).
4. The present form of the kingdom will end in a judgment to determine who are righteous, and therefore eligible to enter the future millennial form of the kingdom, as well as who are unrighteous thus to be excluded from the millennial kingdom to come.
5. This revelation of the new form through which the theocracy would be administered in this present age was followed by a specific prophecy: “I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18). The nature and function of the church is not explained here, but it is revealed in its historical development in the book of Acts, with its doctrines explained in the epistles (Acts and Epistles’ explanations will follow).
IV. Article Considerations.
A. One of the most difficult and most important factors of writing an article is related to sources of information. A writer must ensure that such sources have a high degree of knowledge on the subjects that are being written, and also must have a high degree of respect from other writers. A second factor that must be considered relates to how to lawfully use material of other writers. In this web site, copyright statutes are not violated. Also, the term “public domain,” is a factor that is often considered. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain
B. In this article, I have chosen theologians whom have proven themselves to be highly respected by others in the Biblical doctrine of eschatology (the study of what Scripture teaches about the end times), and other doctrines of scripture. All of the references in this article have a connection with Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) as graduate or instructor.
C. For education and other supporting data for each source of information in this article, please refer to my Page, “About My References.” The following links show information about Dallas Theological Seminary. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Seminary. It is important to understand that DTS is not a denominational seminary, and is totally independent of such.
D. About Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS).
1. General Info. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas_Theological_Seminary
2. Doctrinal Statement. https://www.dts.edu/about/doctrinal-statement/
2 thoughts on “The Kingdom Of God – Mysteries”
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Thanks for your reblog of my article; you are very kind.
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