The Sower, the Seed, the saved, the lost

There are countless teachings and sermons on the parable of the sower. I have heard many over the years. For the most part, I accepted and believed what was taught and was pretty much convinced that I had a full, although not complete, understanding of these passages. There were always nagging questions that remained unanswered and unsettled concerning these passages. 

 The teachings, on this parable, that I was accustomed to, all taught, in one form or another, that all the soil types are Christians/born again, the occasional exception maybe the wayside soil, and depending on the condition of the soil, which is the heart, that would determine if one was truly saved, backslidden or have lost one’s salvation altogether, or simply in need of repentance, excreta. Many teach this parable as the four soil types or the condition of believer’s hearts; the wayside (harden heart) needs to be softened, i.e., tilled or worked up by the believer to receive, the stony, needs to dig the rocks out so the word can take root and the thorny needs to do some weeding to clear out, the thorns (cares of this world), and make room for the word so it doesn’t get choked out and the good ground which produces fruit.

If the soil “types” represent the heart then, yes, indeed the seed landed on all, even though it was snatched away by birds, scorched by the sun, and had no root and choked by thorns in three out of four. The sermons would then focus on what the believer needed to do to set things right within their own hearts, hence the tilling, picking the rocks out and weeding the thorns.

The end results of the sermons would leave the hearer pondering and considering which soil they were and what they needed to do to get their hearts right. Of course, if you were lucky enough to be “good ground” then you had no worries. It is not that sermons like these are not beneficial in some ways, they certainly may be. They can also be used to manipulate. The main issue has always been that the sower parable sermons on soil types, never quite fit scriptural narrative in context. 

Taking the entire scripture passages of the parable of the sower, including all three renditions in Matthew 13. Mark 4 and Luke 8 much can be revealed and settled within the confines and context of the scripture itself. Seems that many will teach the correct use of scripture interpretation but do not use it in their own sermons.

In all three books the sower parable is given by Christ and then explained by Him; all three books mention a prophesy (Is. 6:9-10) that is quoted and stated, as being fulfilled in this parable, in Matthew 13’s explanation, by Christ, he says.

Mat 13:11  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 

Mat 13:12  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 

Mat 13:13  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 

Mat 13:14  And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 

Mat 13:15  For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (Is. 6:9-10)

 Also, it must be noted that the audience of the sower parable is ALL and WHOSOEVER, it is not limited to Jews or Christian believers i.e., when anyone hears, whosoever, the world. (Mat 13:19 Mat 13:12, Mat 13:38)
So, we know three things.  First, that prophesy being fulfilled, Is. 6:9-10, second Christ says it is given unto you, speaking of His disciples, to know the mysteries of the kingdom and third, to them it is not given. They do not understand. This is stated again in Mark 4: 11-12 and Luke 8:10

Mar 4:11  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: 

Mar 4:12  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. 

Mat 13:13  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand

And Luk 8:10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand

Looking at Mark 4:11 it states that those that are without, the parables are given, and they do not hear, see nor understand. They never come to an understanding nor do they come to salvation. The word without in Greek is exō meaning outside, without NASB Translation away (2), foreign (1), forth (1), outer (1), outside (20), outsiders
Those with no understanding, dull of hearing and have spiritual blindness, are those that have rejected salvation and or never come to true repentance. We see this in Matt. 7 :21-23 when those who cry Lord, Lord look what we’ve done in your name and Christ says I NEVER knew you.

In Matt. 13:18-23. Beginning in verse 19, Christ gives the meaning of the parable. He states:

“ When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not,”  

He, then gives three examples of those who do not understand. All hear and even receive but all are not converted. (Matt. 13:19-22 Mark 4:15-19, Luke 8:12-14)
The only soil that it converted and produces fruit, is the good ground because they hear and understand.
Mat 13:23  But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 
Mar 4:20  And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. 

Luk 8:15  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.

Some say the rocky soil receives the word, is born again, then is offended and falls away because of the Word. The argument is one cannot apostatize or fall away/depart from something they never had, they were saved and lost their salvation. But taking a closer look at the rocky soil, it is clear it has NO ROOT.  

Mat 13:21  Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 

Mar 4:17  And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

Luk 8:13  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. 

The Greek word for root is  (hrid’-zah) G4491 Definition: a root Usage: a root, shoot, source; that which comes from the root, a descendent.  that which like a root springs from a root, a sprout, shoot  metaphorically offspring, progeny.

Root means, source, descendent, offspring. All three scriptures above clearly identify the rocky soil as not having a source and is not a descendant or offspring. 

In Luke 8:13 it says they “fall away”}. Fall away is produced by tribulation, persecution, and temptation because of the Word. 1 Timothy 4:1 comes to mind and is used to support the assumption that one cannot fall away from something they don’t have. as some shall depart from the faith.

1Ti 4:1  Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 

 Luke 8 and 1 Timothy fall away and depart are the same word:

DEPART/fall away: af-is’-tay-mee From G575 and G2476; to remove, that is, (actively) instigate to revolt; usually (reflexively) to desist, desert, etc.: – depart, draw (fall) away, refrain, withdraw self.

It is interesting to note that in 1 Timothy those that depart, go on to follow seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. It’s clear that those that depart are still filling the pews and pulpits, even though there is no root in them.

Further in looking at Matt 13:21 and Mark 4:17 where Christ uses the word skandalizō  or offended, we see how Luke’s usage of the word af-is’-tay-mee/fall away brings a better understanding of apostacy.

skan-dal-id’-zo To “scandalize”; from G4625; to entrap, that is, trip up (figuratively stumble [transitively] or entice to sin, apostasy or displeasure): – (make to) offend.
Both af-is’-tay-mee & skan-dal-id’-zo invoke displeasure and to actively instigate to revolt.

Revolt by definition as a verb means:  1. rise in rebellion 2. cause to feel disgust. As a noun it means: 1. an attempt to put an end to the authority of a person or body by rebelling.
Referencing Mat 24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

Yet again these who fall away and are offended do not just leave or walk away, they seek to overthrow and destroy those who still adhere to the Word that has offended them. They are self-deceived . Hence the scripture where Christ says:

Mat 13:12  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 

And again in,
Luk 8:18  Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.

(seemeth to have — or, “thinketh that he hath” (Margin). The “having” of Mat_13:12 (on which see), and this “thinking he hath,” are not different. Hanging loosely on him, and not appropriated, it is and is not his.)

Just as those referenced above in Matt 7 whom Christ says “I never knew you” these think they possess something they do not.
The teachings on the thorny ground Christian’s are those whose hearts are drawn away from God by the cares, deceitful riches, pleasures of life and lusts of other things.

Mat 13:7  And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

Mat 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 

Mar 4:7  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 

Mar 4:18  And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 

Mar 4:19  And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful

Luk 8:7  And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it

Luk 8:14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

The thorny hearted Christians are warned to not get caught up in the cares of this world and not to rely on or chase money or the many lusts and enticements of the world. And due to these “sins” they will not be fruitful.  They argue that to become unfruitful, means they must have borne fruit at one time; hence they are/were born again.

In taking a closer look at the context of unfruitful it is clear that it is in reference to the Word being unfruitful, not men. The word is choked out due to the thorns. Matt. 13:22  “choke the WORD and it becomes unfruitful”, Mar. 4:18 and Luke 8:14 “bring forth no fruit to maturity” which is speaking of the seed/word that fell among the thorns.  We must remember that any good fruit we bear is NOT of us but rather Christ who lives in us.

Joh 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

 Being unfruitful does not mean that at some time in the past you must have been fruitful. It means there is no fruit and there is no root. Also Matt. 13:22 in KJV reads “he also that received seed”. This is misleading as it is often read and taught that the thorns “received” the Word, when the translation of this phrase is one word which means sow or sower.

spi’-ro :Probably strengthened from G4685 (through the idea of extending); to scatter, that is, sow (literally or figuratively): – sow (-er), receive seed.

This is the sower, not the soil. This same phrase is use in Matt. 13:20 about the rocky soil. Why KJV uses this language in Matthew is not clear.

In conclusion to teach the parable of the sower as a snapshot of the condition of believer’s hearts that are in need of correction is simply in error.

The first three soils are lost, false brethren, false teachers, false prophets, tares among the wheat.  Numerous scriptures come to mind. (2Co 11:26, Gal 2:4, Mar 13:22, Mat 24:24, Pro 6:19)

It should also be noted that the parable of the tares immediately follows the sower parable in Matt. 13. Christ’s begins His explanation of the meaning of the parable of the tares (Matt. 13:36-43), saying
Mat 13:38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 

 Christ’s makes a distinct statement concerning the field, it “is the world”. The question of course, is how then can all the soil types in the parable of the sower be born again believers? The obvious answer is they cannot. Indeed, take heed how you hear. The parable of the sower, if anything, should be more of a lesson in identifying false brethren and teachers. So that the body may be able to discern and identify those who remain unfruitful, unregenerate/unsaved.

Eph 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

5 thoughts on “The Sower, the Seed, the saved, the lost

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