Wheat & Tares
Jesus presented another parable to 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 tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.
The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’
And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’
But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘
tare n 1: any of several weedy vetches grown for forage
2: weedy annual grass often occurs in grainfields and other
cultivated land; seeds sometimes considered poisonous
Tares are not wheat. No matter how hard one wishes to make it seem, tares are not wheat. Surely tares grow in the same field as wheat, but they are not, and never were wheat yet tares and the wheat are nearly indistinguishable from one another, as it is written, “for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them”.
Abraham & his children
That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.
And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.
Here, Scripture contrasts the ‘children of promise’ and ‘children of flesh’. These ‘children of flesh’ are referred to elsewhere in Scripture. For a better understanding of what a ‘child of flesh’ is, we can simply look a bit earlier in Romans 9.
nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.”
All of Abraham’s offspring were circumcised. They all received the sign of Abraham’s faith (Rom 4:11), not of their own. The sign was a sign of the promise God made to Abraham. Thus Isaac is a child of promise, while Ishmael is not, even though both received the sign.
For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar
What are we to make of this? Both sons received the sign, but one was born of the flesh and the other of a promise. Abraham chose to take Hagar, according to his wife’s instructions, and produce offspring with her. The result of this offspring was Ishmael. Even though Ishmael received the sign of circumcision, God never intended to share blessings of Isaac with Ishmael. The purpose of the sign then was not to promise something to Ishmael, but to declare God’s faithfulness to Abraham.
I can hear you say even now, “But what about the “seed” of Abraham, wasn’t the promise made to the seed?” Yes, but remember Who the seed was/is…
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.
The seed was/is always Christ. We only become one with the seed through faith, not signage. Just as it is written,
So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
The sign therefore does not indicate promises from God to an individual. The sign indicate’s God’s promises to His Son, promises we obtain by faith in Him. It is therefore those who are of faith who are children of Abraham,
Where am I going with this? As in the words of John the Baptist,
Matt 3:9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.’
The Pharisees believed that their physical relationship and covenant symbol entitled them to claim the name of Abraham. Both John the Baptist and (as we’ll see shortly) Jesus denied this. Here, John the Baptist explains (as I’ve shown in agreement with Paul) that the children of Abraham are not those who are related to Abraham or even those who carry the sign of his faith, but those whom God raises up.
They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do.
These men claim to be Abraham’s children. There can be no doubt of their lineage, nor their law-keeping and carrying of the covenant symbol, but they are in fact not Abraham’s children.
“You are doing the deeds of your father.”
Who does Christ mean here?
They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
It has been suggested that Jesus is merely speaking in ‘covenant terms’ in the parable of the tares (and in His proclamation of being the vine). And to this I would generally agree. However, as shown, partaking of a covenant sign does not actually make one a child of promise, nor put them in the covenant (made with Abraham and his Seed.) The fact of the matter is that these terms are clear. Christ in no way considers these people children of Abraham nor children of God. They are making false statements. These aren’t apostate children of Abraham, they were, as John says, “never of us.”
Are these men “truly children” who simply “reject their Father”? No, according to Christ they are “not My sheep” and “not of your father” in fact He declares their father to be “the devil”, not because of what they did, but who they are… children of the flesh rather than children of promise.
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
It is important to note what is said, “…the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” Christ is not saying (yet) that there are actually people “in Christ” who will fail to bear fruit. None-the-less Christ does say that unless one abides in Him they cannot bear fruit. Thus, the purpose here is not to establish the idea that people can be ‘in Christ’ and yet not bear fruit, but that those who are in Christ will bear fruit.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”
“Look!” I hear you say, “Here are branches in Him that are cut off! So people can be in Christ an yet be cut off!” Sure, just as a parasitic branch on a tree attempts to sap resources from the tree, one be attached to Christ in a manner and yet derive its life elsewhere. Such are not truly branches of the tree, they are parasitic growths and are good for nothing but the fire. This is quite similar to the parable of the soils wherein Christ proclaims, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Sure, these are trees, but they have no root, and bear no fruit, which is what Christ intends for His branches and thus the trees. One who does not abide in Him will never bear fruit, one cannot abide in Him without being born from above and the Spirit of God living in them. This reality is shown not by the application of a sacrament or sign, but by faith. Thus we see that Christ is not giving us contradictory facts with the parable of the tares and wheat as opposed to the concept of the Vine and the branches.
John 15:8 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”
It is God’s desire, and intent, that His disciples bear fruit, and He will see to it that it happens. (Eph 2:10)
The tares are not wheat, the parasitic branches are not abiding in the vine. While it is true that they may, by the application of the covenant signs, be associated with and even partakers thereof (as Hebrews 6 alludes to), they are in no way “in Christ”. Finally, I appeal again to Paul, who declares who is and is not in Christ.
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
Tying this all togther, only those who have the Spirit of God in them are truly “in Christ”, and only those who have the Spirit of God in them are part of the Seed, the Vine, the wheat.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.