What is the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares?
Question: "What is the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares?"
Answer: The parable of the wheat and the tares compares a field with good and bad seed to the Church with the saved and unsaved. Told in Matthew 13:24-30, the parable is explained in Matthew 13:36-43. Let’s read the parable first.
Christ’s parable of the wheat and the tares
“Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, “Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?” And he said to them, “An enemy has done this!” The slaves said to him, “Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?” But he said, “No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. “Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn’”’” (Matthew 13:24-30).
In the agricultural society of Christ’s time, many farmers depended on the quality of their crops. An enemy sowing weeds would have sabotaged a business. Such tares in the parable were likely darnel because that weed, until matured, appears as wheat.
Without modern weed killers, what would a wise farmer do in such a dilemma? Instead of tearing out the wheat with the tares, the landowner in this parable wisely waited until the harvest. After harvesting the whole field, the tares could be separated and burned. The wheat would be saved in the barn.
Christ’s explanation of the parable of the wheat and the tares
“Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, ‘Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.’ And He said, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear’” (Matthew 13:36-43).
In the parable of the wheat and the tares, Christ explained that He Himself is the Sower. He spreads His redeemed seed, true believers, in the field of the world. Through His grace, these Christians bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24).
The enemy in the parable is Satan. In opposition to Jesus Christ, the devil tries to destroy Christ’s work by placing false believers and teachers in His Church. Instead of requiring these false believers to be rooted out of the church—possibly hurting immature believers in the process, Christ allows them to stay until His return. Then, angels will separate the true from false believers.
Application of the parable of the wheat and the tares
1. Expecting to find the perfect church is neither achievable nor Biblical. Until Christ’s return, the church will always have a mix of true and false believers..The church struggles against division and strife as false believers put forth agendas and demands apart from God’s will.
2. Discriminating between true and false believers isn’t always obvious. Tares, especially in the early stages of growth, resemble wheat. Likewise, a false believer may resemble a true believer. In Matthew 7:22, Jesus warned that many profess faith but do not know Him. Thus, each person should examine his own relationship with Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5). 1 John is an excellent test of salvation. When a false Christian becomes apparent through unrepentant sin or unbelief, the church leadership has clear, Biblical action steps. But they must be careful not to uproot a true believer needing discipline and encouragement.
3. Jesus Christ will one day establish true righteousness. After He raptures the true Church out of this world, God will pour out His righteous wrath on the world. During that tribulation, He will draw others to saving faith in Jesus Christ. At the end of the tribulation, all unbelievers will be judged for their sin and unbelief; then, they will be removed from God’s presence. True followers of Christ will reign with Him. What a glorious hope for the “wheat”!
Recommended Resource: Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice.
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What is the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares?