The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares


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:

The Kingdom of Heaven is not a new concept to the Jews. It has been proclaimed since the beginning of time. What is new is the time of its manifestation as a present reality. Both John and Jesus said, “Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). Jewish hopes and expectation had to be tempered with the Messiah’s humiliation as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 53:5-12).

Concerning the good seed, the gospel is in view indirectly, while by way of interpretation, the good seed refers to the authentic child of the kingdom, according to verse 38. The gospel seed is the same as the plant which is produced from it.

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

In this second parable the seed that is sown is good seed, only to be imitated by the Enemy who sowed his own seed, identified as, his children, or, “the children of the Wicked One (v. 38). The difference between the good seed sown, children of righteousness, and the seed (darnel) sown by the Enemy, children of the Wicked one, is the fruit each produced. The good seed, good Christians, produced wheat, while the seed sown by the Enemy, non-Christians, produced tares, or weeds.

This sowing of tares was done while men slept. That is how the Enemy works because he is a coward. By subtlety the Enemy deceived Eve, and while men sleep the Enemy sows his poisonous seed by placing his people in the pulpit, and in the classroom.

Herein is a call for every Christian to be vigilant regarding spiritual matters. False doctrine will be, and has been sown by children of the Wicked One to question the gospel, and dilute its message. Careless living has been encouraged by the children of the Wicked One to undermine the effectiveness of the Church in society.

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

Then appeared the tares, a reference to the bearded darnel. This “is the Lolium temulentum, a species of rye-grass, the seeds of which are a strong soporific poison. It bears the closest resemblance to wheat till the ear appears, and only then the difference is discovered. It grows plentifully in Syria and Palestine” (M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897).

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?

While the servants of the Householder are not identified by Jesus, it would not be totally amiss to suggest the reference is to those children of the kingdom who were sleeping when they should have been watching and working.

A principle is established. A sleeping servant, a Christian who is not sincere, and diligent about the Master’s business, will wake up in wonderment at the damage that has been done to the work of the gospel.

When the servants ask about the source of the tares sown, they are ultimately asking about the origin of evil. The question of evil is a large topic. It is a complex inquiry, and ultimately remains a mystery. In Christian theology, the effort to vindicate the justice, goodness, and power of God in the face of evil is called Theodicy.

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?

The Devil is declared to be the Enemy of God. This was not always the case but now, there is enmity between Satan and his seed, and the Lord and His seed.

Biblical Names for The Enemy

 Abaddon (Destruction)          Revelation 9:11

Accuser                                   Revelation 12:10

Adversary                               1 Peter 5:

Angel of light                          2 Corinthians 11:14

Angel of the bottomless pit     Revelation 9:11

Anointed covering cherub      Ezekiel 28:14

Antichrist                               1 John 4:3

Apollyon (Destroyer)           Revelation 9:11

Beast                                       Revelation 14:9,10

Beelzebub                               Matthew 12:24

Belial                                       2 Corinthians 6:15

Deceiver                                  Revelation 12:9

Devil                                       1 John 3:8

Dragon                                   Revelation 12:9

Enemy                                     Matthew13:39

Evil one                                   John 17:15

Father of lies                           John 8:44

God of this age                        2 Cor. 4:4

King of the bottomless pit      Revelation 9:11

King of Tyre                            Ezekiel 28:12

Leviathan                                Isaiah 27:1

Liar                                          John 8:44

Lucifer                                    Isaiah 14:12-14

Man of sin                               2 Thessalonians 2:3,4

Murderer                                 John 8:44

Power of darkness                 Colossians 1:13, 14

Prince of the power               Ephesians 2:1,2

Roaring lion                            1 Peter 5:8

Rulers of the darkness          Ephesians 6:12

Ruler of demons                     Luke 11:15

Ruler of this world                John 12:31,32

Satan                                       Mark 1:13

Son of perdition                    2 Thess. 2:3,4

Tempter                                  Matt. 4:3

Thief                                        John 10:10

Wicked one (Lawless)          2 Thessalonians 2:8; Ephesians 6:16

Good Farming Counsel

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. Matt. 3:11-12

The fate of the righteous, referred to as wheat, is far different from the destiny of the wicked, called tares. The righteous are gathered into the Lord’s barn, another name for heaven while the unrighteous are bundled up for eternal destruction. It is instructive to note that the time of the harvest necessitates a long period from the moment the seed is planted to the final ingathering. Those who seek after signs believing they are living in the terminal generation, or the generation that shall see the return of Jesus, will be disappointed. There is a long and indeterminate period of time between the First Advent of Christ and His return in glory.

Names for Heaven

Mount Zion                 Psalm 48:2 

City of God                 Psalm 46:4

The Holy Place           Isaiah 57:2

A barn                         Matt. 13:30

A house                       John 14:2

Paradise                       Luke 23:43

Home                          2 Cor. 5:8

A better country          Heb. 11:16

The New Jerusalem    Rev. 3:12; 21:2


The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares Explained by Jesus

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.

Once Jesus had ended His parabolic teaching, He sent the multitude away and retired. While in the privacy of a house, the disciples sought more information about the second parable in particular. It was good they did because whenever something is unclear, Christians should seek more information. Clarity concerning the gospel, its means and methods is essential for spiritual maturity and evangelism. The heart of a true disciple of Christ is a desperate desire to know spiritual truth.

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

Jesus has promised that if any person wants to know the truth, it can be known. In matchless grace, the Lord answered the request for clarification of the Second Parable.

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.

Parable of Wheat and Tares Summarized

The Sower is the Son of Man.

The Field is the World.

The Good Seed are the Children of the Kingdom.

The Tares are the Children of the Wicked One.

The Enemy is the Devil.

The Harvest is the end of the World.

The Reapers are holy angels.

The Application

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;

Jesus said there will come a time when the spurious are separated from the sincere. Holy Angels will be instrumental in gathering the tares from among the wheat. The great separation should not be difficult for the names of the elect are written in the Book of Life. Anyone who is not found in the Book of Life must go with the Holy Angels to their final destiny. Moreover, the tares are identified as those who “do iniquity.” There are individuals who knowingly violate the Moral Law of God without qualm or sorrow. They will not repent. They practice iniquity.

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

The Doctrine of Everlasting Punishment is the most terrifying teaching of Jesus. It is meant to be for therein is the righteousness of God established. While the elect, called in this parable the wheat, enjoy the mercy of God according to His sovereign grace, the non-elect, called the tares, who do iniquity and will not repent, shall be cast in a furnace of fire. The Biblical concept of Hell is a place of misery, sorrow, and torment. Individuals there gnash their teeth. Would you avoid Hell? Then flee to Calvary. Plead for the gift of faith so that the blood of Jesus can cleanse you from all sin.

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

In contrast, the abyss of darkness where individuals wither in pain and agony due to the justice of God, the righteous shall shine forth as the sun. This righteousness is not intrinsic, but a reflective righteousness. Every believer is in Christ Jesus, “who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).

The Lord’s explanation of the Parable of the Tares and the Wheat is concluded with the exhortation, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

There are some simple truths that individuals must hear if they are to be saved. They are three in number. First, man has been ruined by sin. Second, there is redemption to be found by faith in Jesus Christ. Third, the Holy Spirit must regenerate the soul for no-one can do anything to effect their own salvation (Eph. 2:8, 9).


First, since the field is the world, and belongs to the Son of Man, a dramatic distinction should not be made between those who engage in full time missionary work, and those who evangelize locally. Every believer is to do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5).

Second, seek to learn from Jesus. As important as books and lectures are, the words of Jesus must be given priority and preeminence in personal study.

Third, let Scripture interpret itself, and when it does, believe what is said.

Fourth, make sure you are a kingdom child, and no longer a child of the Wicked One.

Fifth, realize that a long period of time will occur between the First Advent and the Second Advent of Christ. Therefore, avoid looking for signs of His coming because they characterized a wicked generation (Matt. 16:4).

Sixth, the work of Satan will always be found where the work of God takes place. Do not be surprised or dismayed when this truth is made manifest. Every truth has its counterfeit, as does every biblical practice and principle.

Seventh, good and evil will be united until the termination of this age. Therefore, be vigilant, be watchful for those who endure to the end shall be saved. Not all shall be saved. The doctrine of universal salvation is an emotional belief not rooted in Scripture.

Eighth, let the church sow the good seed, and be a fruit of that seed, so there will be a good gospel harvest that is gathered in the heavenly barn with others of like mind and faith to enjoy the Lord of Glory forever.

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