Matthew 13:33 (NASB)

[33]He spoke another parable to them, "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."

In Matthew Christ likes the kingdom of heaven to leaven but leaven is consistently used as a picture of sin & corruption in the following verses

Matthew 16:6 (NASB)

[6]And Jesus said to them, "Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

1 Corinthians 5:5-7 (NASB)

[5]I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. [6]Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? [7]Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.

Exodus 12:8 (NASB)

[8]They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

Exodus 34:25 (NASB)

[25]"You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread, nor is the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover to be left over until morning.

How can we understand leaven from the above texts


The use of leaven is not always associated with sin.

On the Feast of Weeks, two loaves of Leavened Bread are offered as first fruits to the LORD:

You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the Lord. (Leviticus 23:17 ESV)

The year Jesus died and was resurrected, the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred on the Feast of Weeks. First the disciples, then the 3,000 baptized received the Holy Spirit.

The spiritual impact of sin functions like leaven: sin enters into the world and infects all people. So most of the references to leaven are drawn from this aspect. However, once God's solution to the sin problem is identified, the role of the Holy Spirit can be seen as using the same process. The Holy Spirit is implanted into believers who then share the Good News with others. As others believe, they too become infected and spread the solution to sin to others.

Leaven functions similar to seed in the law of reaping and sowing. What a man plants will grow and be reaped. If sin, then sin; if the Good News of Jesus Christ, then the Good News of Jesus Christ. Once Jesus is resurrected, leaven no longer need represent only sin: The Good News can spread in the same fashion as sin spread.

The two loaves offered as first fruits are symbolic of both Jewish and Gentile, both have been infected with sin; both having the opportunity to become reborn by the Spirit. Ultimately the Kingdom of Heaven will become like the loaves with leaven: all people will be infected with what begins with something small placed inside the loaves. So too the loaves will be baked, ending the work of leaven to present a finished loaf which, by virtue of being baked, is then immune to leaven.

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