Matthew Chapter 13, Verse 24 - Matthew Chapter 13, Verse 30
"Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven
is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. But while men
slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared
the tares. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir,
didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? whence then hath it tares? He
said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt
thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay, lest while ye
gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both therefore
grow together until the harvest."
What is the difference between this, and the parable before it? There
He speaks of them that have not at all holden with Him, but have started
aside, and have thrown away the seed; but here He means the societies of
the heretics. For in order that not even this might disturb His disciples,
He foretells it also, after having taught them why He speaks in parables.
The former parable then means their not receiving Him; this, their receiving
corrupters. For indeed this also is a part of the devil's craft, by the
side of the truth always to bring in error, painting thereon many resemblances,
so as easily to cheat the deceivable. Therefore He calls it not any other
seed, but tares; which in appearance are somewhat like wheat.
Then He mentions also the manner of his device. For "while men slept,"
saith He. It is no small danger, which He hereby suspends over our rulers,
to whom especially is entrusted the keeping of the field; and not the rulers
only, but the subjects too.
And He signifies also that the error comes after the truth, which the
actual event testifies. For so after the prophets, were the false prophets;
and after the apostles, the false apostles; and after Christ, Antichrist
For unless the devil see what to imitate, or against whom to plot, he neither
attempts, nor knows how. Now then also, having seen that "one brought forth
a hundred, another sixty, another thirty," he proceeds after that another
way. That is, not having been able to carry away what had taken root, nor
to choke, nor to scorch it up, he conspires against it by another craft,
privily casting in his own inventions.
And what difference is there, one may say, between them that sleep,
and them that resemble the wayside? That in the latter case he immediately
caught it away; yea, he suffered it not even to take root; but here more
of his craft was needed.
And these things Christ saith, instructing us to be always wakeful.
For, saith He, though thou quite escape those harms, there is yet another
harm. For as in those instances "the wayside," and "the rock," and "the
thorns," so here again sleep occasions our ruin; so that there is need
of continual watchfulness. Wherefore He also said, "He that endureth to
the end, the same shall be saved."
Something like this took place even at the beginning. Many of the prelates,
I mean, bringing into the churches wicked men, disguised heresiarchs, gave
great facility to the laying that kind of snare. For the devil needs not
even to take any trouble, when he hath once planted them among us.
And how is it possible not to sleep? one may say. Indeed, as to natural
sleep, it is not possible; but as to that of our moral faculty, it is possible.
Wherefore Paul also said, "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith."
After this He points out the thing to be superfluous too, not hurtful
only; in that, after the land hath been tilled, and these is no need of
anything, then this enemy sows again; as the heretics also do, who for
no other cause than vainglory inject their proper venom.
And not by this only, but by what follows likewise, He depicts exactly
all their acting. For, "When the blade was sprung up, saith He, "and brought
forth fruit, then appeared the tares also;" which kind of thing these men
also do. For at the beginning they disguise themselves; but when they have
gained much confidence, and some one imparts to them the teaching of the
word, then they pour out their poison.
But wherefore doth He bring in the servants, telling what hath been
done? That He may pronounce it wrong to slay them.
And He calls him "an enemy," because of his harm done to men. For although
the despite is against us, in its origin it sprang from his enmity, not
to us, but to God. Whence it is manifest, that God loves us more than we
And see from another thing also, the malicious craft of the devil. For
he did not sow before this, because he had nothing to destroy, but when
all had been fulfilled, that he might defeat the diligence of the Husbandman;
in such enmity against Him did he constantly act.
And mark also the affection of the servants. I mean, what haste they
are in at once to root up the tares, even though they do it indiscreetly;
which shows their anxiety for the crop, and that they are looking to one
thing only, not to the punishment of that enemy, but to the preservation
of the seed sown. For of course this other is not the urgent consideration.
Wherefore how they may for the present extirpate the mischief, this
is their object. And not even this do they seek absolutely, for they trust
not themselves with it, but await the Master's decision, saying, "Wilt
What then doth the Master? He forbids them, saying, "Lest haply ye root
up the wheat with them." And this He said, to hinder wars from arising,
and blood and slaughter. For it is not right to put a heretic to death,
since an implacable war would be brought into the world. By these two reasons
then He restrains them; one, that the wheat be not hurt; another, that
punishment will surely overtake them, if incurably diseased. Wherefore,
if thou wouldest have them punished, yet without harm to the wheat, I bid
thee wait for the proper season.
But what means, "Lest ye root up the wheat with them?" Either He means
this, If ye are to take up arms, and to kill the heretics, many of the
saints also must needs be overthrown with them; or that of the very tares
it is likely that many may change and become wheat. If therefore ye root
them up beforehand, ye injure that which is to become wheat, slaying some,
in whom there is yet room for change and improvement. He doth not therefore
forbid our checking heretics, and stopping their mouths, and taking away
their freedom of speech, and breaking up their assemblies and confederacies,
but our killing and slaying them.
But mark thou His gentleness, how He not only gives sentence and forbids,
but sets down reasons.
What then, if the tares should remain until the end? "Then I will say
to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles
to burn them." He again reminds them of John's words, introducing Him as
judge; and He saith, So long as they stand by the wheat, we must spare
them, for it is possible for them even to become wheat but when they have
departed, having profiled nothing, then of necessity the inexorable punishment
will overtake them. "For I will say to the reapers," saith He, "Gather
ye together first the tares." Why, "first?" That these may not be alarmed,
as though the wheat were carried off with them. "And bind them in bundles
to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."