Wow, who would of thought that this beachum’s simple response of: “The Church on Earth has wheat and tares” (HERE), to set of questions posed by “Rhology”, would produce well over 50 comments in the comboxes of 4 threads!
IMO, the problem stems from a mindset of some of the posters who seem to have embraced what amounts to a “functional” inerrancy of their interpretation(s) of the Bible (at the very least, for this parable), while at the same time denying any infallible interpretation exists. This mindset has led these posters to maintain, with what seems to be a fanatical vigor, that there can be only one plausible/legitimate interpretation of the parable of the “wheat and tares”.
Before I provide some germane selections from a group of Protestant scholars that I believe have offered the most consistent, and Biblical, interpretation of the “wheat and tares” parable (though certainly not the only plausible/legitimate interpretation), I shall post the content of the Gospel of Matthew that gives us the parable [I am doing this primarily for “Rhology”, for him seems to think that the readers of AF either don’t know what we are talking about, or cannot look up of the verses for themselves.] The Word of God:
Another parable set he before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man that sowed good seed in his field: but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away. But when the blade sprang up and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. And 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? And he said unto them, An enemy hath done this. And the servants say unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he saith, Nay; lest haply while ye gather up the tares, ye root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather up first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn…
Then he left the multitudes, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Explain unto us the parable of the tares of the field. And he answered and said, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; and the field is the world; and the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy that sowed them is the devil: and the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are angels. As therefore the tares are gathered up and burned with fire; so shall it be in the end of the world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He that hath ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43 – ASV.)
Now, some commentary from a few Protestant Biblical scholars:
In my opinion, the design of the parable is simply this: So long as the pilgrimage of the Church in this world continues, bad men and hypocrites will mingle in it with those who are good and upright, that the children of God may be armed with patience and, in the midst of offenses which are fitted to disturb them, may preserve unbroken stedfastness of faith. It is an appropriate comparison, when the Lord calls the Church his field, for believers are the seed of it; and though Christ afterwards adds that the field is the world, yet he undoubtedly intended to apply this designation, in a peculiar manner, to the Church, about which he had commenced the discourse. But as he was about to drive his plough through every country of the world, so as to cultivate fields, and scatter the seed of life, throughout the whole world, he has employed a synecdoche, to make the world denote what more strictly belonged only to a part of it. (John Calvin, Commentary on A Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Vol. II , in Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume XVI, Baker Book House 1979 reprint, pp. 119, 120.)
Again, the parables regarding the gospel kingdom manifestly bear in the same direction. “The field,” which was to be sown both with tares and with wheat, is “THE WORLD” (ό κόμος) : that is to say, a world-wide kingdom is to be formed, embracing the genuine and the false-hearted subjects of Christ under one visible name ; both are to “grow together until the harvest ;” and the harvest is the end of the world. (David Brown, Christ’s Second Coming – Will It Be Premillennial?, Baker Book House, 1983 reprint, pp. 34, 35 – all emphasis in the original.)
The parable of the wheat and tares, which occupies the chief part of these verses, is one of peculiar importance in the present day. It is eminently calculated to correct the extravagant expectations in which many Christians indulge, as to the effect of missions abroad, and of preaching the Gospel at home. May we give it the attention which it deserves!
In the first place, this parable teaches us, that good and evil will always be found together in the professing Church, until the end of the world.
The visible Church is set before us as a mixed body. It is a vast “field” in which, “wheat and tares” grow side by side. (R.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts On The Gospels – St. Matthew, 1860, pp. 146, 147.)
It must be possible, this much we may confidently affirm, to call the church the kingdom…The kingdom as the church bears the features of a community of men. It appears as a house. This character belonged to the Old Testament church for which that of Jesus is substituted, it also finds expression in the very name ecclesia, which designates the assembly of free citizens called together to deliberate and take action in matters pertaining to the commonwealth…The two parables of the wheat and the tares and of the fish-net equally imply the thought that the kingdom is an aggregate of men, though their point does not lie in this thought as such, but in the inevitable intermingling of the good and the bad until the end. The nearest approach to the later declaration about the church occurs in the expression “his kingdom” of Matt. xii. 41. this “kingdom of the Son of man” agrees with the “church of Jesus,” in that both phrases make the kingdom a body of men placed under the Messiah as their ruler. (Geerhardus Vos, The Teaching of Jesus Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Church, Wipf and Stock, 1998 reprint, pp. 150-152.)
When the Donatists undertook to excommunicate all persons known to be evil, and in the case of traditores, who had given up copies of Scripture to be burned during persecutions, were unwilling ever to restore them to the church connection, Augustine wrote against their views a great number of treatises, in which he constantly appealed to this parable [i.e. wheat and tares], as showing that good and evil persons must dwell together in the church. He says the Donatist bishops would reply, “It does not refer to the church; the Lord said, the field is the world, not, the field is the church.” But Augustine would say that the world means the church. (John A. Broadus, Commentary On The Gospel of Matthew - An American Commentary on the New Testament, Issue 1, ed. Alvah Hovey, page 300 – bold emphasis mine.)
Concerning purging the tares out of the field, or casting men out of the church, there is no difference between me and those whom I oppose in the present controversy. (“Qualifications for Communion”, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1, The Banner of Truth Trust 1984 reprint, p. 468.)
MY SUMMATION –
The parable of the “wheat and tares” begins with: “the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man that sowed good seed in his field” [v.24]. As we later learn, the “man” is our Lord, Jesus Christ, the King of this “kingdom of heaven” (i.e. kingdom of God), the same kingdom spoken of in Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45, that starts out as a “stone”, and becomes a “mountain” that fills “the whole earth”.
We are told “his field” is a mixed “field” containing both wheat and tares; and that this “field” is “the world” (Greek: κόσμος) [v.38]. Then we are informed the tares in “his field” (which is called “his Kingdom” in v. 41) are going to be removed by angels at the “end of the world” (Greek: αιŵνός).
So, the “kingdom of heaven” = “his field” = “the world” = “his kingdom”. That many Biblical scholars equate this kingdom/field/world/kingdom with the visible Church, sure seems to be the logical (and Biblical) choice (at least to this beachbum).
Grace and peace,