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THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER

Posted by adventbiblestudy on September 10, 2008


THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 

Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower

Matthew the Stories of Jesus’ Ministry is now available for download in a series of three eBooks.  Link here to order your copies today.  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/AdventBible

The following study shows that Jesus did not put His private interpretation on the real objects He used in His parables, but rather, He searched the scriptures to determine the spiritual meaning. 

KJV Luke 8:5

5. A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

Looking at the physical aspects of verse 5 we see that a person is sowing or planting seed. Some of this seed, “fell by the way side” or the side of a road. From this we may determine that this person is freely casting out his seed. We may even say he is being careless with it. Some of the seed must have fallen upon the road because we see that, “it was trodden down or walked on, and the fowls of the air devoured it.” We are not told what type of seed is being planted however we can see that the person planting the seed is not stooping down planting individual seeds in neat evenly spaced rows in a farm field like we see from the side of the road. From the context of this parable I would imagine a person casting handfuls of seed in different directions. Since most people do not plant physical seeds in such a manner, we are given a clue that this must be spiritual seed he is planting.

We need to determine the key words in the text. Once we identify the key words we can look at other verses in the Bible which will help us understand the spiritual meaning to these key words. Since the seed may have a spiritual meaning, the sower may also have a spiritual meaning. Other key words are way, trodden, fowls and devoured.

Applying the Bible principle of “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (Isa 28:9,10 and 1Cor 2:13) and referring only to the Old Testament, since these books were the only scriptures available to Jesus we will collect a series of text to help us understand the spiritual meaning of these key words.

SEED 

KJV Ecclesiastes 11:6. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

KJV Psalms 97:11. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.

KJV Psalms 119:105. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Bible

The Word is Light

If seed is sown, and light is sown, and light is the word, then the seed is the word that is sown. Just as Jesus said. Or putting it another way: seed = light = word

KJV Psalms 112:1. Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. 2. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed

KJV Isaiah 55:10. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11. So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Isaiah 55 gives a direct connection between the seed of the sower and the word. These are only a few examples of verses that may have taught Jesus this parable allowing Him to share it with others.

SOWER

KJV Isaiah 61:11. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

KJV Zechariah 10:9. And I will sow them among the people: and they shall remember me in far countries; and they shall live with their children, and turn again.

KJV Jeremiah 31:27. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.

The works of God are compared to things sown. These verses show that God is a sower.

WAY

Way

KJV Psalms 140:5. The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the way side; they have set gins for me. Selah.

Strong’s Ref. # 1870

Pronounced deh’-rek

from HSN1869; a road (as trodden); figuratively, a course of life or mode of action, often adverb:

KJV Psalms 142:3. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.

KJV Psalms 143:8. Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.

KJV Proverbs 1:15. My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:

KJV Proverbs 2:13. Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;

The way represents a path of life, or the direction one’s life is going. Physically a way is a road.

TRODDEN

KJV Jeremiah 12:10. Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.

KJV Ezekiel 34:18. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? 19. And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet.

KJV Psalms 8:6. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

Trodden means to destroy or foul. Trodden means to have something under your feet. Psalms 8:6 explains that to have something underfoot, is to have dominion over it. When people teach error or false doctrine, they are treading God’s word under foot, because they are presuming to have power over it, thinking they are free to change it.

The seed fell by the wayside and was physically trodden down. This is a spiritual representation showing that the Word of truth presented to the listeners was afterward changed into false teachings (trodden under foot).

FOWLS

Birds sower

KJV Genesis 7:14. They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort.

Genesis shows us that beast and cattle, along with fowl and bird are used as comparative subjects. Why would the Bible phrase something this way? We all know that cattle are beasts and birds are fowl. Often times we see objects compared and linked together and this is done for a reason. When we find scriptural proof of these comparisons we have the opportunity to use the linked words to uncover a deeper meaning. The Bible will establish its own rules of interpretation and follow those rules. As explained in Genesis, the word fowl and bird can be interchanged. When we find Biblical evidence showing the same physical action effecting the physical nouns, the same spiritual interpretation may be used for each of the key words.

KJV Proverbs 6:5. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

KJV Psalms 91:3. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

KJV Psalms 124:7. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.

KJV Proverbs 27:8. As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.

A bird or a fowl represents a person often in turmoil, facing a trial.

DEVOURED

Strong’s Ref. # 2719

Pronounced kat-es-thee’-o

from GSN2596 and GSN2068 (including its alternate); to eat down, i.e. devour (literally or figuratively):

KJV Isaiah 24:6

6. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.

KJV Jeremiah 2:30

30. In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.

KJV Genesis 37:33

33. And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.

KJV Leviticus 10:2

2. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.

By definition the word devoured in Luke 5:8 means to eat down. This definition explains the parable perfectly. The spiritual meaning of the word devoured means to burn up, destroy, tear into pieces or to cause to die.

The word devoured is an example of a word that can have multiple meanings. It is not uncommon to use the word devoured to describe how a hungry person eats a meal. The Greek word translated devoured only describes eating. The English words contains multiple meanings as does the Hebrew word that has been translated devoured in the Old Testament.

Now that we have determined the spiritual meaning for each of the key words we can create a chart.

Seed = The word of God

Sower = God

Way = A path of life

Trodden = To destroy or foul, have under foot, have power over

Fowls = people

Devoured = eat up, destroy

Using the spiritual meaning for each of the key words we can paraphrase the text.

KJV Luke 8:5

5. A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

PARAPHRASE

God (a sower) went out to sow His word (seed): and as He sowed, some fell into people’s lives (way); and it was fouled (trodden down), and the people (fowls of the air) destroyed it.

We can compare this paraphrase with the interpretation Jesus gave us.

KJV Luke 8:11. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

Of course Jesus’ understanding of the scriptures is much greater than ours. His interpretation may be slightly different than ours but the principle of the parable remains the same. In the words of Jesus, “And He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. And He said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? The sower soweth the word.” KJV Mark 4:11-14 Do we need any further evidence? God uses His word to explain and prove His word. Within this parable lies the secret used to unlock all parables. We have seen that by using the Bible we can look up the spiritual meaning of the key words used in a parable. The spiritual meaning of these key words will not change the meaning of the text but will bring a deeper understanding and a closer relationship with God. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” KJV 1 Corinthians 2:12-16

KJV Luke 8:6

6. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture

The physical aspects of verse 6 shows us that some of the seed fell upon a rock. We know most plants will not grow well on rocks. The heat from the sun and lack of moisture would quickly dry the plant, killing it. These seeds did not take long to sprout but as soon as they sprouted they dried up and withered away.

Verse 6 gives us two new key words, rock and withered.

ROCK

Stony Ground

KJV Deuteronomy 32:4. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

KJV 2 Samuel 22:2. And he said, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 3. The God of my rock; in him will I trust: He is my shield, and the Horn Of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.

KJV Psalms 18:31. For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God?

A number of verses make it clear that the Bible uses the word rock to represent God. This may be true in most cases but we need to keep in mind, Satan is the great deceiver. Satan does this by imitating aspects of God and altering them to one degree or another, thus giving people a false belief to follow. We see this is also true for the word rock.

KJV Deuteronomy 32:31. For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges. 32. For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: 33. Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps. 34. Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?

KJV Deuteronomy 32:37. And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted,

A rock most likely will represent God. For that reason Satan has twisted the truth enough so that a rock can also represent a false god. Since the rock can have two opposite meanings how can we determine which one to use? We could substitute both interpretations and see which one fits the context. Or in this case we can see how Jesus interpreted the text and follow His instruction.

WITHERED

Withered Plant

KJV Isaiah 40:7. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.

KJV Psalms 102:10. Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down. 11. My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.

KJV Jonah 4:7. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. 8. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

Isaiah and David make it clear, grass can represent people. In theses verses the grass or people wither because of a trial they are facing. Jonah shows us, when his plant withered he was so upset at the hot sun, he wished he was dead.

When people in the Bible face a trial it might be said, they are withering. People still say and act in the same manner. They shrink away from problems hoping they will go away on their own.

We can now make a chart for our key words.

Rock = God or a false god

Wither = what happens to people who have trouble facing a trial

KJV Luke 8:6

6. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture

PARAPHRASE

Since we have two meanings for the word rock we can look at each of these and determine which will best represent the theme of the parable.

And some fell upon those that follow after false gods (rock) and they believed when they heard but soon forgot what they heard because of their trials (withered).

And some of those that heard the word believed in God (rock) but soon forgot when the trials of life distracted them (withered).

We can now compare the above paraphrases with how Jesus explained the parable.

KJV Luke 8:13

13. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

In this case the rock would represent those that follow other gods.

KJV Luke 8:7

7. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

Looking at the physical content of verse 7 we can understand how weeds grow up much quicker than other plants. Weeds will steal all of the moisture and nutrients from the soil leaving nothing for the beneficial plants. There is one key word in verse 7. That word is thorns.

THORNS

Thorns parable of the sower

KJV Proverbs 22:5. Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.

KJV Numbers 33:55. But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.

KJV Judges 2:3. Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.

Thorns are used to represent the sins people devise to mislead and irritate others.

Thorns = sins people devise

Now that we have studied the key word we can paraphrase the text.

KJV Luke 8:7

7. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

PARAPHRASE

Some of the word fell on people that like living in sin and those sins choked out the word.

Compare the above paraphrase to what Jesus said.

KJV Luke 8:14

14. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

Jesus added a definition to the type of sin that affect most people.

KJV Luke 8:8

8. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundred fold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

The physical aspects of verse 8 show us, when seed if planted on good ground it will grow up and bear fruit. To see the spiritual meaning of this text we need to find out what the spiritual meaning of good ground and fruit.

GROUND

KJV Isaiah 30:23

23. Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.

KJV Isaiah 44:3

3. For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:

KJV Hosea 10:12

12. Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.

KJV Zechariah 8:12

12. For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.

Good ground bears the Spirit of God and aids in the growth of the substances that nourish people both physically and spiritually.

FRUIT

KJV Galatians 5:22

22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

KJV Proverbs 11:30

30. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.

KJV Psalms 127:3

3. Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

KJV Jeremiah 17:10

10. I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

KJV 2 Kings 19:30

30. And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward

Fruit is used to describe converted people and the work they do to reach out to help others. We can now make a chart of the key words and paraphrase the text.

Ground = that bears fruit has the Spirit of God

Fruit = Converted people, Christian virtues

KJV Luke 8:8

8. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundred fold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

PARAPHRASE

Some seed fell on those that accepted the Spirit of God, they displayed Christian virtues and converted people.

Jesus explained verse 8 the following way.

KJV Luke 8:15

15. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.


 

Here is a short video about the Parable of the Sower from one of my books, Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark.

 

Jesus teaches parables sower

An ebook download explaining how Jesus teaches His disciples how to understand all parables

Here are a couple of Bible Study Internet resources I have been using. I have to tell you. I have been learning so much from these classes taught for free by pastor, teacher, and lecturer Dr. Lee Gugliotto. He has taught classes in biblical languages, theology, and hermeneutics at several seminaries. His book, Handbook for Bible Study, was awarded a Gold Medallion, the equivalent of an Oscar for Christian writers. Since working with Dr. Lee, my insight into God’s Word has more than tripled.

WebStudy is a virtual classroom over the Internet. It will train you to listen for God’s voice in the text so the Bible can explain itself. You will master study basics that lay the foundations for deeper personal learning.

QuikerStudy relies on the way the Holy Spirit led Bible writers to express truth God revealed to them. It equips you to use basic Bible study tools and to understand scripture guided by three simple principles––integrated into a single skill. Easy enough for children, it is the ultimate online inductive experience for the whole family.

Http://webstudythebible.org/

CuppaJ Cafe serves the most satisfying CuppaJesus in town. We brew up a fresh daily devotion, verse-by-verse from the text to bring out its full flavor. Then we share each daily devotional with those who come to the Cafe to give the group a taste of what the text has to offer, so they can have a deeper, personal learning experience with Christ later that day.

How we brew up the word:

  • First, we define words, explain the meaning of figures and symbols, and acquaint them with people, places, and things in the text
  • Then, we lead the people on a simple trip through the text
  • Pour out a Christian thought from it, and…
  • Invite everyone to interpret the text from the writer’s words
  • Finally, we challenge everyone to spend time in the text alone with Christ later in the day to pour out another and better CuppaJesus from the same brewHttp://cuppajcafe.org/

9 Responses to “THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER”

  1. Dear Friend,

    Very good job. I noticed that this also holds true with the profits; they know how to apply the key words in the things they say. This is something I’ll be looking forward to do in my studies.

    I noticed that you haven’t been blogging. I pray all is well and that you will be back soon, keeping up with the good work.

    Like

  2. adventbiblestudy said

    Tyrone

    Thank you for the response. I have been able to trace this method fo study back to Martin Luther and other early reformers. I was surprised to learn it was only a few years after the Bible became available in different languages, work on concordances began. What else would you use a concordance for other than a simple word study.

    I am thinking about doing a second study on this parable. I am finishing a new study on the wheat and tares which as revealed new concepts. Parables reveal the rules of interpretation. Some of these are already posted, the studies of Daniel 7 and 8 along with the parable of the pearl, and the mustard seed.

    It just keeps on getting more interesting.

    Like

  3. peter said

    I chose your site over others on the net. I am a believer. I am having a huge problem with Gods selection process as to who sees clearly right off, who is blinded, why can’t one start but grow, whos heart gets hardened etc. This parable I chose to look at after the rich ruler and others thinking the base thought would come out. My inabillity to conprehend questions my calling. The fact even the deciples did’t understand untill after the explaination has me questioning if we can or it is just selcetion beyound my controll.

    Like

  4. adventbiblestudy said

    Peter

    Thank you for the kind words. I often wander why some people easily understand the parables while others feel they are the only person capable of supplying a proper interpretation.

    After reading this question I decided to finish a study on new wine in old bottles. You can link to the study from the list on the left. It explains, some people will never accept a new idea.

    Don’t loose faith on your studies. Find an easy text to begin.
    Matt 21
    44. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

    Find the meaning for the key word stone. This may also remind you of another text using the words grind and powder.

    When you take your Bible reading and study seriously, you will find your mind linking text, as you say, beyond your control. This is the power of the Spirit. You still have to do your part. Search the scriptures to put the texts together and create your own studies.

    I would appreciate it if you could add some of your discoveries to this site. That is my dream. To teach a great amount of people and develop a web site where students of the Bible can share what they have learned.

    Like

  5. adventbiblestudy said

    After years the LORD has blessed me with the company of others searching for the knowledge of how to study God’s Word. Here is a link to the on line studies I have been attending. Hope to see you there. https://adventbiblestudy.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/free-online-bible-studies-teaching-simple-study-methods/

    Like

  6. […] Visions are interpreted using the same steps used to understand parables. Symbols used in visions, or prophecies, and parables can only be interpreted by the God’s Word, the Bible. The steps used to find the spiritual meaning for symbols used in parables and prophecies can be found by studying the few parables Jesus explained in detail. One of these is the parable of the sower. Here is a link to a detailed study explaining how the spiritual meaning for each symbol is found in the Old Testament. https://adventbiblestudy.wordpress.com/2008/09/10/the-parable-of-the-sower/ […]

    Like

  7. adventbiblestudy said

    Matthew the Stories of Jesus’ Ministry is now available for download in a series of three eBooks. Link here to order your copies today. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/AdventBible

    Like

  8. Charles Akre said

    This wonderful God will bless your good work,please send materials to me that we help my study

    Like

    • adventbiblestudy said

      Thank you Charles. You can click the link that sets you up and an automatic update every time a new post is added. Also check out the latest studies on the Gospel of Mark. They are on the links on the left. Look at the Parable of the Sower series. Every following event was designed by the Spirit to teach the disciples how to understand all parables. This is a learning process for all of us.

      Like

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