Matthew 13:24: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed...."

I'm stumped by how a kingdom can be like a man. Is there something in the original language that gives insight into this?

It seems intentional, otherwise it could easily have been spoken/ written as "the kingdom of heaven is like a field" or "like good seed." But "like a man"?

Thanks for any help!

  • I don't think the comparison is meant to be with just the man but the whole scenario. But let's see what the answers will say.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 7, 2020 at 14:06
  • Thank you for your response! I love how helpful this group is. :)
    – MW111
    Apr 19, 2020 at 13:03

4 Answers 4


The Kingdom is not like the man but like the man who sowed seed (Luke 13:24). We are then given an explanation about the parable's symbols:

  • The sower is the Son of Man (v37)
  • The field is the world [of people] (v38)
  • Good seed is people of the Kingdom (v38)
  • Weeds are people of the evil one (v38)
  • The enemy who sows the weeds is the devil (v39)
  • The harvest is the end of the age (v39)
  • Harvesters are angels (v39)

To suggest that "the Kingdom is like a man" is to stop reading too early. The Kingdom was likened to the whole scenario related in the parable, not just the first noun ("man" here). Specifically, the man/sower is represents the Son of Man.

  • Thanks for your help! I think I have accidentally asked a question about interpretation instead of hermeneutics.
    – MW111
    Apr 19, 2020 at 13:06
  • 1
    In your defense, "hermeneutics" comes from the Greek word for "interpret". ;-)
    – Steve11235
    Apr 19, 2020 at 17:04
  • @Dottard, I think you are close to saying : The kingdom is teaching, so the teaching is like this:... The teaching is sown 4 times, it is like leaven, it is within you, and some would prevent you from entering in (hearing the teaching) by their legalistic distractions. I prefer this to "the kingdom is a club..."
    – Bob Jones
    May 16, 2020 at 14:11

I think you are pressing Jesus' simile a little too hard. Jesus was clearly more interested in the outcome of the man's sowing and why those outcomes occurred than he was about the man himself. Most people naturally understand that.

Jesus was a preacher, not a lawyer. He did not intend that his words to be analyzed the way a court treats a legal contract. Instead, he was trying to get people to think.

  • Thanks for your comment! After reflecting on this some more, I have decided my question is not really one of hermeneutics but interpretation. Two thoughts I had were 1) this is a parable, not intended to be literal, and 2) the term "man" is not the one I need to interpret differently, but "kingdom of heaven."
    – MW111
    Apr 19, 2020 at 13:11

The term, "kingdom of heaven" is only used in the gospel delivered according to Matthew's major purpose of describing Jesus Christ as the "Lion of Judah" from Abraham and through David who will reign "on earth" on David's throne as the Jewish King of kings. Luke also describes Jesus as being the "son of man" with lineage going all the way back to Adam through Seth.

Jesus is that very WORD of God who became a "man" on earth under the firmament--not in heaven above the earth. Notice that the parables concerning the kingdom of heaven always show an earthly context--not a heavenly one (sower, field, harvest, weeds, great tree, etc.)

The Kingdom of God, on the other hand, is a spiritual kingdom--without observation. John's mission was to describe Jesus as having the face of an eagle--the king of the fowl of the air. Mark described Jesus as having the face of a calf/calf of an ox--servant of both God and man.

The great tree, amazingly, is revealed as growing up out of the earth so that even the fowl of the air may rest on its branches. Trees are earthly--of the earth. Those fowl of the air speak of the resurrected sons of God who will return with Jesus when He returns to rule among His greatly loved people of Israel in that Day-of-the-LORD earthly rule from Jerusalem over all the nations of the earth. The Jews will be given the "rest" that he promised them, and the church will be given their "rest" in the branches of that Jewish earthly kingdom. The spiritual sons of God (church) will not be servants of the resurrected "son-of-man" King of kings at that time, but rather will rule with Him also as resurrected men during Israel's promised rest.

A great question that might yield answers of further proof of these things might be, "Why did the earthly tabernacle and earthly temples (dwelling places of Messiah) have creatures having only two faces--a lion and a man--overlooking God's earthly covenant, whereas the creatures in God's heavenly dwelling place had four--the lion, the man, the calf, and the eagle. I'll leave that one to someone else to ask if anyone is interested.

  • 1
    Thanks for your comment! It just highlights for me that there is more room for interpretation when trying to understand the kingdom of heaven. As you pointed out, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to earthly things: a man, a mustard seed that had been planted, yeast that had been mixed into flour, a hidden treasure, a merchant looking for fine pearls, and a net that was let down into a lake and caught fish. I think each one of those is meant to challenge and deepen our understanding of the kingdom of heaven. For that reason, I think my question is more one of interpretation.
    – MW111
    Apr 19, 2020 at 13:19
  • Diligently pursued interpretation is a major part of Biblical Hermeneutics. This great question is one of dispensation, and goes all the way back to the beginning at Moses (Luke 24:27). See two papers: circumspectnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/… and circumspectnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/… Apr 21, 2020 at 13:01

The probloem you raise is caused by too literal translations that are often misleading. The Hebrew way of introducing a parable is to link it to the first participant mentioned rather than what the parable is all about. It is a bit like the names of the books in the Bible, where the Hebrew name is sinply the first word mentioned in the book.

The Contemprory English version (CEV) has consistently introduced all the parables in a way that communicates in normal English. For this verse they say:

Jesus then told them this story: The kingdom of heaven is like what happened when a farmer scattered good seed in a field. (13:24 CEV)

If you interested in more detail, you might have a look at this article.

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