You’re reading through the gospels and you come across the parable of the wheat and weeds and you’re wondering what it means.
Look no further!
I will walk you through my take on this passage to answer the question: “What is the meaning of the parable of the wheat and the weeds?”
The meaning of the parable of the wheat and the weeds is that it is a parable describing the way the kingdom of God is revealed alongside the kingdoms of earth. God’s intent is let both grow, demonstrate their fruit, and so demonstrate whether they are wheat or weeds. Only after they have grown their full fruit does he sift them between assigning them to God’s kingdom or eternal damnation.
Let’s walk through the passage to dig a little deeper into the parable of the wheat and the weeds.
Table of Contents
Here’s the passage. Or you can check out the passage on Bible Gateway.
He put another parable before 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 weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”Matthew 13:24-30
Passage Symbol Definitions
|Seed that Man Plants||Sons of the Kingdom of God|
|Servants||God’s servants or angels|
|Seeds that Enemy plants||Sons of the Devil|
|Harvest Time||The End of Time|
|The Barn||The Kingdom of God|
|The Wheat||The Revealed Sons of God|
|The Weeds||The Revealed Sons of the Devil|
Let’s walk through the parable of the wheat and weeds verse by verse now.
“He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field”v24
This parable is a continuation of a series of parables Jesus has tried to teach about the kingdom of God.
This parable on the kingdom starts with a man who is a sower. The field is the world and the seed is the people of God.
Now we are seeing a world that’s only comprised of the people of God.
“…but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.”v25
Now we are introduced to some new characters. “His men” refers to God’s servants, or in other words, his angels who do his bidding.
The “enemy” refers to Satan. We are not told what the intent is, but he chooses to sow bad seed in the field that God just planted. Does he intend to grow his own children? Is he here to simply thwart God’s plan?
Regardless of whether his intention is explained, it is a result that God doesn’t like (v27)
So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’v26-27
The weeds and the wheats are allowed to grow independently in the field. This catches the surprise of the servant of God who had imagined that the world would only have the sons of God.
The servants play an interesting narrative role here. In parables, the servant takes the meta position of the reader of the parable. We as readers, through this question, are drawn to the heterogeneity of the field and are inspired to ask why this is the case.
He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’v 28
Jesus gives the explanation for why the world is in a dire state–the enemy has planted seeds such that it is blossoming activities of wickedness.
“So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers,”v 28-30
Jesus has an interesting take on how to handle the heterogeneous field. First, he demonstrates his concern for the wheat. He doesn’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Even though the world is wicked, he cares about the people he has planted.
Secondly, he demonstrates his horticultural wisdom here as he wants to give the highest chance of success to properly delineate between the wheat and the weeds. How this plays out in how he sees the world developing will be discussed later.
“Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”v30
Jesus then tells the final eternal fate of the wheat and weeds. Continuing the usage of the metaphor, the weeds are burned in eternal damnation, and the wheat are gathered into his barn.
What Does the Parable of Wheat and Weeds Mean?
What are some takeaways from the parable of the wheat and weeds as to what this means for our lives and our world? As I mentioned before, there are some pretty eye-popping implications for our understanding of the world moving forward.
Evil Sometimes Looks Like Good
One of the glaring implications of the parable of the wheat and weeds is that evil will sometimes look like good.
This is a theme for Jesus’ entire ministry. There are people that that demonstrate the appearance of genuine discipleship, but deep inside it isn’t always the case.
His main critique was against the religious elite where they had a form of godliness but denied true righteousness (Matthew 23:15). He warned about wolves in sheep’s clothing. He warns about people who put their hand to the plow and look back (Luke 9:62).
Jesus is always probing to see and wonder the answer to the question: “Who are we?”
And as the parable of the wheat and weed demonstrates, you won’t know until the fruit comes out.
A wheat can only yield wheat fruit. And weeds can only produce weed fruit.
And so the judgment of one’s life comes at the conclusion of one’s life. Do not judge early; only a lifetime of fruit demonstrates true discipleship.
The End-Time Drama That is About to Occur
As the parable of the wheat and weeds ends with the harvesters filtering out the weeds and the wheat, we learn also that his parable is also an end-times parable.
This is answering a common question regarding what the end of times will look like prior to Jesus’ return. The question is: will things get worse or will things get better prior to Jesus’ return?
The answer is both.
As both the wheat and the weeds are growing, prior to the coming of Jesus, this parable teaches that darkness will get darker and light will get brighter at the same time.
As the weeds come to fruition, the parable teaches us that we will see evil at a scale and level that we have never seen in human history.
Also, as the wheat comes to fruition, the parable teaches us that we will see the church doing the works of God in ways it has never done before in human history. We will see historic numbers in the church, miracles, salvations, and healings that the world won’t even know about it.
Mike Bickle’s teaching on the end times on Amazon makes this really clear.
I recommend that read if you’re interested in learning more about the implication of the parable of the wheat and weeds.
What side are you on?
Lastly, the parable of the wheat and weeds stirs the reader to ask–what side are you on?
Are you the wheat? Or are you the weeds?
Does your life demonstrate fruit that will result in being part of God’s eternal kingdom? Or does your life demonstrate fruit like the weeds, the things that stand opposed to real fruit?
The parable only offers a binary option and forces you to assess which side are you on? Again, Jesus is probing your heart to see what you will answer.
What will you answer?
My joy and the aim of this site is to help readers go deeper in their Christian faith.
The parable of the wheat and weeds is a powerful parable that teaches us about the binary nature of the kingdom of God and alludes to the time when Jesus will return.
In the spirit of going deeper, here are some resources to help you out.
For reference, this was the book on End Times on Amazon:
What are your thoughts or questions about the parable? Leave in the comments below!