The Net Cast Widely

The Net Cast Widely. The net pictured here is a large dragnet, usually about six feet deep and up to several hundred feet wide, positioned in the lake by boats and requiring several men to operate (hence the plurals of v. 48). The picture is realistic, portraying an ordinary event with no surprising twists: The net brings in “every kind” of both good and bad fish, which are then sorted, the good being kept and the bad thrown out. Whatever the original meaning of the parable, Matthew’s own ecclesiastical application already appears in the telling of the parable itself. The bad fish are called “rotten” (sapra), inappropriate to fish that have just been caught, but used four times previously in Matthew’s description of bad “fruit” (works) presented by Christians, where it is appropriate (7:17-18; 12:33 twice). The fishers “sit” for the sorting, as will the Son of Man at the end (19:28; 25:31). Continue reading

Treasure and Pearls: two parables

Two Parables. Matthew apparently intends the parable of the treasure to be interpreted together with the parable of the pearl, which immediately follows. The two parables do have common features: (I) In each case only a brief vignette of a crucial situation is given, without enough details to evaluate them as realistic stories. The interpreter should, therefore, be wary of filling in the gaps from pious imagination, but concentrate on what the parable does, in fact, portray. (2) The primary common feature is surely central to the meaning of each: The protagonist goes and sells everything for the sake of the one thing. This is the action of both the plowman and the merchant. This movement of the story as a whole is to be compared with the kingdom of God, for the kingdom is “like” neither the “treasure” of v. 44 nor the “merchant” of v. 45, but in each case somehow like the story as a whole. In each case, the protagonist acts with the single-minded response of the “pure in heart.” From the story in Mark 10:17-31, Matthew and his community had long known of the kingdom’s demand of “all,” and of one who had failed (cf. esp. Mark 10:21, where selling everything and giving it to the poor is connected with true “treasure”). Continue reading

Treasure and Pearls

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. 46 When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.

Hidden Treasure. Buried treasure is the stuff of popular stories in every age and while out “pirates” no longer sail the Seven Seas we seem content with stories of lottery winners. Given Israel’s location at the crossroads of major powers to the north and east and to the south (Egypt) there is a long history of wars and rumors of war playing out upon the promised land.  “Buried treasure” was a realistic possibility. Continue reading

Treasure, Pearls, and Other Parables

fishing net

Matthew 13:44-52 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. 46 When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. 47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. 48 When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. 49 Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. 51 “Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” Continue reading

Treasure, Pearls, and Other Parables

fishing net[it was a busy week – so I am only just now posting the commentary for tomorrow’s gospel. Enjoy!]

Matthew 13:44-52 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. 46 When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. 47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. 48 When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. 49 Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. 51 “Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” Continue reading