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I am going to preface this with my understanding of scripture in that I am not pre-tribulation, no scholar, and new to this site. So my apologies if I am out of order.

In my study, I know there are various differences in the gospels such as the order of miracles, etc. That said I also understand that theology says that Matthew is for the Jews, Mark for the Romans, Luke for the Greeks, and John for the church. Personally, I don't believe this to be true in the aspect that the words and promises in the Bible are for everyone. However, outside of this theory that the gospels have a target audience, I cannot understand why the other disciples chose to leave that part out. Matthew 13:36-43 is the particular scripture I'm referring to which I'm certain those in this community are already aware of what verses I'm speaking about.

Matthew 13:36-43 KJV

36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 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; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

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  • I wanted to let you know that I made some edits to your question so that it is more in line with the site guidelines. If you do not agree with my edit, please feel free to roll it back. That being said, this is not a forum but a question/answer site. Please re-view the tour and see how it is different than others. I also recommend going through the Help Center's sections on both asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 15:03
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    Ok thanks. I did review but as I said I have a tbi that makes things like this difficult for me. Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 15:05
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    I understand. Take your time and review at your own pace (that was the reason for the edit).
    – agarza
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 15:06
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    I think this is an excellent question. +1.
    – Dottard
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 21:26
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    I suggest edited the question to read "gospels" or "evangelists" rather than "disciples." Also mention Matthew (even if just Matthew 13:36-43) in the headline question. ("other" has no reference otherwise) Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 15:25

5 Answers 5

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There are two aspects to this answer.

  1. Matthew does not record an explanation from Jesus about every parable - some do not have an explanation at all. For example, just in Matt 13:
  • the parable of the sower is explained
  • the parable of the weeds is explained
  • the parable of the mustard seed is NOT explained
  • the parable of the leaven is NOT explained.
  • the parable of the pearl is NOT explained
  • the parable of the hidden treasure is NOT explained
  • the parable of the net is explained
  1. Other evangelists do record some of Jesus' explanations for some of His parables. For example:
  • Mark 4:13-20 records Jesus explanation of the sower
  • Luke 8:11-15 also records the explanation of the sower
  • John records no parables of Jesus (he does record numerous metaphors)
  • Luke 9:16-16 and Mark 4:21-25 records Jesus parable of the lamp which IS explained in both places, BUT Matthew does not record this parable at all.

Thus, the parable explanations in the gospels vary from each other.

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  • Thank you. This makes sense. I have the intention of setting down and going through the gospels side by side. I most likely would have come to a similar conclusion had I waited. For some reason it was bothering me that when I tried to understand why the others didn't I found very little resources Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 23:04
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I too am new to this site and have limited understanding of how to post responses and questions. It is noted in several commentaries that that the purpose of Mathews gospel was to show the Jews that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. By his extensive use of tying Jesus's sayings back to their Scripture and explaining his paraables, Matthew was (if you will) helping the blind to see Jesus as the Christ. (Psalms 78).

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  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! and thank you for your contribution. I recommend going through the Help Center's sections on both asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 0:00
  • I think that at your level of "reputation" you can't post comments yet. I upvoted your answer to help you on your way. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 15:27
  • Thank you for trying to help. I'm up voting to help with reputation as well. I also am new and often feel very vulnerable trying to ask with the vast knowledge on this site it can be so intimidating. It takes courage to jump out there. Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 23:14
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Why do most of Jesus' parables not explained? Jesus gave the answer in the Synoptics. The disciples came forward to Jesus and asked why speaking in parables. Jesus replied;

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand." (Matthew 13:11-13 NIV)

He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables, so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven! (Mark 4:11-12 NIV)

10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.' (Luke 8:10 NIV)

For the parables of Jesus are not only for the Jews of His time, the gospels are for all generations and generations to come. The secrets of the kingdom remain accessible only to faithful Christians who hear and see them with their own faith, not for everyone.

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  • This I understood. My question was about the difference in the gospels and why certain disciples didn't include information like on the tares and the wheat. Often Bible teachers and or pastors a will say it is simply because Matthew's target audience is the Jews etc. Personally I don't believe this to be true. But thank you for trying to help. Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 23:12
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    Imagine you are looking at an elephant in 4 directions. When you are in front of it you won't see its tail. Behind you won't see its eyes. On left or right you see only half of it. There is only one Gospel of Jesus, but each Christian may find their own spiritual inspiration from different perspective. Matthew may have 12 parables not found in other gospels, however, Luke has 16. It is not helpful if they were duplicate, rather, these parables conceal a divine judgement on matters. If you find the common ground of them, you find the gate of the sheep pen. Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 3:11
  • Thank you for this example. Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 4:37
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Matthew was particularly concerned that the meaning of Jesus' parables (and Jesus' life in general) be properly understood. He portrays Jesus as often telling his parables to hide his meaning from those who could not receive the truth, while revealing it to those who were open to it. Thus we read, starting at Mt. 13:10:

The disciples approached him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted... 14 Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:

‘You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. 15 Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them.’

As @Dottard mentioned other Gospels do occasionally explain the meaning of Jesus' parables, but they do not do so as frequently as Matthew does. Why exactly Matthew did so is a matter of conjecture, but he does this not only with parables. For example, he often explains how certain events in Jesus' life fulfill OT prophecies. A few examples will suffice:

  • Matthew 1:22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

  • Matthew 8:17: to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet: “He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.”

  • Matthew 12:17-18 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight...

  • Matthew 13:35 to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation [of the world].”

Conclusion: Jesus often used parables as a way to hide his meaning from the hard-hearted who sought to thwart him. Matthew took special care to insure that his readers would understand Jesus' life and teaching. Thus he included explanations, both from Jesus and in his own words, that would make his parables clearer. He also went out of his way to explain the meaning of Jesus' life-course in light of OT prophecy.

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    Thank you for adding to @Dottard between the 2 I feel I understand much better. Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 23:07
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On the premise that Matthew was written first, as the church fathers consistently testify, and the premise that it was widely available (or its contents at least well-known), one can assume that many of the readers of the subsequent Gospels would have a general understanding of many of the concepts and teachings which were originally published in Matthew. Hence, it would be unnecessary for the subsequent authors to fully explain or reiterate the things communicated in Matthew, especially since they have their own unique interests for which they needed to reserve space.

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