The thirteenth chapter of Matthew is necessarily full of interest to all students of the teaching of Jesus. In it we have a setting forth of truth concerning the establishment and progress of the Kingdom of Heaven in this age. Any study of it, therefore, which is to be of real value, necessitates a careful consideration of its scope and method. Of the parabolic nature of the latter, the present discourse proposes to treat; the scope and scheme of the chapter will be dealt with later.
There is, however, one matter concerning this scheme, which should at once be stated as guide to the whole method of consideration to be followed. In this series the chapter is to be regarded as constituting a set discourse of Jesus, and not as a collection of truths taken from the Saviour's teaching at different times, and set forth according to Matthew as a consecutive discourse. Dean Alford's words on the subject may be quoted as giving one simple and yet sufficient reason for holding this view.
The seven parables related in this chapter cannot be regarded as a collection made by the evangelist, as related to one subject, the Kingdom of Heaven and its development; they are clearly indicated by verse 53 to have been all spoken on one and the same occasion, and form indeed a complete and glorious whole in their inner and deeper sense.
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