The Parable Of The Wheat & Tares


To me there are several parts of the wheat & tares parable that give me pause from accepting the common interpretation that the parable is addressing the good and bad IN the church.

First, there is the fact that the Lord Himself clearly explains the parable, notably telling us that “the field is the world” (Matthew 13:38), however, I understand, that the matter is nonetheless much debated but to me it is puzzling how many disregard the Lord’s explanation and tell us that the field is the church which is simply not correct.

Second, and very important, is the fact that the command is given to ALLOW both tare and wheat to grow together UNTIL the harvest. A command that forbids UPROOTING the tares from the wheat….. HOW can this be a picture of bad IN the church? If you follow that chain of thought preachers MUST not try to UPROOT the evil IN the church.

Third, the harvesters are angels (not the ministry).

Therefore, to me, this is not a parable about false saints within the church, it is a parable about evil (false religion) in the world and the church is IN the world yet not part of it. It is not a parable which tells us not to perform church discipline (allow both to grow together until the harvest), for there are substantial references elsewhere that tell us what to do with the “hidden spots in [our] love feasts” (Jude 12), and the immoral ones among us (1 Corinthians 5:1) “Purge out therefore the old leaven…”. Again, to me, the parable speaks more to false religion vs God’s true church in the world. The church will “grow” IN the world right along with false religion.. both will grow and eventually both will mature and the church will be gathered “raptured” into the barn “heaven” and the tares “false religions” will be bundled together and burnt at the harvest “the coming of the Lord.” Also notice that the parables preceding the wheat and tares parable were dealing with the effects of false doctrine (leaven, etc).

Notice how Jesus left the crowds and went into the house with the disciples following Him. It was in the house, away from the crowds, that the disciples asked for an explanation of the Parable of the Wheat and Tares. Therefore, the body of the parable is spoken to the crowd while the explanation is spoken only to the disciples. This setting, to me, illustrates how the church (as portrayed by the disciples) is given the LIGHT (or understanding) of the Word while the world (the crowd without) is left in darkness.

It is therefore clear, to me, that the meaning of the parable is this: God’s church and wicked people (false religions) will exist in the world together until the day Jesus returns at the end of the age, and the final harvest takes place. Until that day, we are told not to try to separate out the wheat from the tares IN the world. We are not to withdraw ourselves to an island or commune waiting out the return of the Lord because despite the presence of the evil tares in the field which IS the world, the crop of wheat WILL mature in spite of their presence. Good will not be overcome by evil. The church will not be conquered by the enemy’s tactic to sow evil seed in the field.

The Bible speaks of mysteries, one of them being the “Mystery of Iniquity.” “For the mystery of lawlessness [iniquity] is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.” 2 Thessalonians 2:7


Easton’s Bible Dictionary describes “tares” as follows:

“the bearded darnel, mentioned only in Matt. 13:25-30. It is the Lolium temulentum, a species of rye-grass, the seeds of which are a strong soporific poison. It bears the closest resemblance to wheat till the ear appears, and only then the difference is discovered. It grows plentifully in Syria and Palestine.”

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “soporific: as:

ADJECTIVE: 1. Inducing or tending to induce sleep. 2. Drowsy.
NOUN: A drug or other substance that induces sleep; a hypnotic.

Smith’s Bible Dictionary offers these comments on the “tares”:

“There can be little doubt that the zizania of the parable, ‪#‎Mt‬ 13:25 denotes the weed called “darnel” (Lolium temulentum). . . . The grains of the L. temulentum, if eaten, produce convulsions, and even death.”

A very interesting note concerning darnel:

“The admixture of the grain with those of the nutritious cereals amongst which it is often found growing should be guarded against, as its properties are generally regarded as deleterious. Gerard tells us: ‘the new bread wherein Darnel is eaten hot causeth drunkenness.’ When Darnel has been given medicinally in a harmful quantity, it is recorded to have produced all the symptoms of drunkenness: a general trembling, followed by inability to walk, hindered speech and vomiting. For this reason the French call Darnel: ‘Ivraie,’ from Ivre (drunkenness); the word Darnel is itself of French origin and testifies to its intoxicating qualities, being derived from an old French word Darne, signifying stupefied. The ancients supposed it to cause blindness, hence with the Romans, lolio victitare, to live on Darnel, was a phrase applied to a dim-sighted person.”

Recapping the symptoms in the various definitions above concerning darnel they are:

1. Sleepiness, drowsiness
2. Hypnotic episodes
3. Convulsions
4. Drunkenness, intoxication
5. Trembling
6. Inability to walk
7. Hindered speech
8. Vomiting
9. Stupification
10. Dim-sightedness

Now that has to be a perfect picture of the effects of false doctrine!

— jlg —

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