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Matthew 13 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Matthew 13 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.

2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

(13:10-15) "Lest they should see"
Jesus explains that the reason he speaks in parables is so that no one will understand him, "lest ... they ... should understand ... and should be converted, and I should heal them."
John Gill comments:

Because it was the will and pleasure of his Father to give the knowledge of divine mysteries to some, and not to others; and because even the outward good things they had, being wrongly used or abused by them, would be taken away from them:

Note that Jesus did not set out to speak in parables, but started to do so after the clear majority of the Jews rejected him and his teachings.

11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

"For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath."
Isn't this from the Republican Party platform?
BOM: 2 Nephi 28:30
No, the GOP platform is Marxist: “From each according to his ability to each according to his need.” Only the rich pay taxes in the United State. As in most other socialist countries, politicians have discovered that you can fleece a certain percentage of your population in order to bribe the rest. Under George W. Bush's presidency and the GOP majority in the Senate and the House, this policy has accelerated. In October 2005 the IRS released the latest available data covering the tax year 2003. Summary: The share of total income taxes paid by the top 1% of wage earners rose to 34.27% from 33.71% in 2002. Their income share (not just wages) rose from 16.12% to 16.77%. The top 50% pay 96.54% (Up from 2002: 96.50%). The bottom 50%? They pay a paltry 3.46% of all income taxes (Down from 2002: 3.50%). Rush Limbaugh has a permanent break-down and analysis of these numbers on his website.

13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

"An enemy hath done this."
Some Christians believe that the natural evil in the world (predators, parasites, pain, death) is due to Satan, not God.

29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:

(13:31-32) "The least of all seeds"
Jesus is incorrect when he says that the mustard seed is the smallest seed. (The epiphytic orchids have the smallest seeds.) And since there are no trees in the mustard family, mustard seeds do not grow into trees large enough to support bird nests.
From the smallest seed entry:

Epiphytic plants are non-parasitic plants that grow on other plants.

It is clear from the text that Jesus is talking here about seeds that can be sowed. And probably only about seeds known by the Jews at that time. If you want to give an example that will be understood by all, as is Jesus intention, it is of no use talking about a seed that will be discovered by scientist in 2562 A.D.
According to “The Parable Of The Mustard Seed” by Henk P. Medema and Lytton John Musselman (includes picture of large mustard plant):

There are wild mustard plants over ten feet (3 meters) tall near the Jordan River, and even in moderate climate a mustard plant may grow that tall, provided it gets enough sunshine.It must, moreover, be remarked that generally trees in most parts of the Holy Land do not reach a large stature. The stem of a mustard plant also becomes dry and wood-like, which gives it the aspect of a tree.

On the question if bird's will make their nest in them they write:

But a very important point is overlooked: by the end of the summer, when the plant has reached its peak in growth, the time for building nests is long past. The word may simply mean ‘rest’ or ‘lodge’, which is the more probable as Mark 4:32 says “under its shadow.”

32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Jesus recognizes here that there are no trees in the mustard family, because he says: “it is the greatest among herbs.”
What must be noted here is that Jesus does not want to emphasize greatness, but wants to emphasize the small, insignificant beginnings of the Gospel. From these small beginnings a mustard plant approaches the size of a tree:

In summary, the three features of the mustard plant emphasized by the Lord are the small size of the seed, the large size of the plant in relation to the seed, and the rapid growth.

33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:

35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

Misquote of Ps.78:2-3 which says:
"I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us."
Jesus intention here is not to directly quote Psalm 78:2-3, but to show that which was hidden, dark, in the age of the Psalmist would now be clarified. These words would now be fulfilled.

36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.

37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

(13:41-42, 49-50) "The furnace of fire"
Jesus will send his angels to gather up "all that offend" and they "shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
What the Bible says about torture
The Bible's guide to torture
Does Hell exist?
(13:43) BOM: Alma 40:25
Yes, hell exists as is clearly demonstrated by Jesus in the next verse.

42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:

46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

"Pearl of great price"
This phrase was adopted by the Mormon (LDS) church as the title of one of its standard works. The Pearl of Great Price is a part of Mormon scripture.

47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:

48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

(39:48-49) "... gathered the good into vessels, and sever the wicked from among the just."
Is anyone good?
Has the ever been a just person?
The good in this verse refers to the fish that were gathered. The good fish were fish to eat, the bad were too small or perhaps poisonous.

49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,

The author of the SAB also asks if there are just persons. This verse clearly indicates there are such persons. However, they are not called just, because there were just or have become just by their own works. There are no such persons, Eccl. 7:20. They are called just because they have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, see Rom. 1:17 and Rom. 5:1.

50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.

52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.

54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?

55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

(13:55-57) "And they were offended in him."
Jesus is rejected by those who know him the best -- the people of his home town of Nazareth. His brothers and sisters are mentioned, so apparently, contrary to Catholic belief, Mary was not always a virgin. (Catholic Response)
The interpretation of the author of the SAB that Mary did not always remain a virgin seems reasonable to me.

56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?

57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.