Matthew 13: Parables

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 22


In Matthew 13 Jesus taught the people through short stories called parables. Teaching in parables allowed Jesus to reveal great truths to those who were spiritually in tune and, at the same time, conceal or hide those truths from those who were not ready for them. Even the spiritually ready must ponder and pray to fully understand the Savior’s parables. This is actually a blessing because when we receive answers through the Spirit we usually remember them better and longer (see also Bible Dictionary, “parables,” pp. 740–41).As you seek to understand the meaning of parables, consider the following three-step process:
  1. 1.

    Outline the parable. List the objects or persons involved, what actions occurred, and the result of those actions.

  2. 2.

    Look for clues to the interpretation. Clues might include “like unto” statements Jesus made, cross-references in your scriptures, the situation or question that prompted the parable, and what you know about the people the parable was shared with.

  3. 3.

    Make a comparison. It is helpful to write down what you learn as you think about the interpretation of the parable. Ask questions about the relationship of people and objects in the parable and then see if you can write an answer to your questions.

Understanding the Scriptures

Matthew 13

Sow (vv. 3, 27)To plant seeds 
Way side (vv. 4, 19)Hard ground that has been walked on (such as a path or road) 
Devoured (v. 4)Ate 
Withered away (v. 6)Died 
Perceive (v. 14)Notice, be aware of 
Waxed gross (v. 15)Grown hard and insensitive 
Anon (v. 20)Sincerely 
Dureth (v. 21)Continues 
Tribulation (v. 21)Troubles 
Deceitfulness (v. 22)False promises 
Tares (vv. 25–30)Weeds (see also Bible Dictionary, “tares,” p. 780) 
Utter (v. 35)Speak 
Iniquity (v. 41)Sin 
Wailing (vv. 42, 50)Mournful crying 
Vessels (v. 48)Containers (for safekeeping) 
Scribe (v. 52)One who diligently studies the scriptures 
Save (v. 57)Except 

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A or B as you study Matthew 13.

Activity A iconThe Parable of the Sower

  1. 1.

    The parable found in Matthew 13:3–8 has often been called the parable of the sower, but why might it also be called the parable of the soils?

  2. 2.

    From the information given in Matthew 13:3–8, 18–23, draw four pictures in your journal of what happened to the seeds in each type of soil. Beside each picture explain what you drew and what it symbolizes.

  3. 3.

    None of the soils in the parable had to stay in the condition it was in. For each type of soil, describe what would need to be done to make or keep it a place to grow healthy, fruitful plants. Also describe what this soil improvement project could symbolize in your life as you grow spiritually.

Activity B iconInterpret Another Parable

Choose one of the following parables or groups of parables:

Read the parable or parables carefully, use the suggestions for interpreting parables in the introduction to this chapter, and then write what you think the Lord was teaching about His kingdom.