Calvinism and Matthew 13?

Question
I learn from illustrations easier than just reading theology. Did Jesus ever use any illustrations to teach election?
Answer

Thanks for your question. Illustrations can be theology too.

Election in effect is God's sovereign decree to bestow his grace on some, but not all sinners, saving some through Jesus Christ, but not all mankind (see universalism below). Berkhof in his Systematic Theology says election is the "eternal act of God whereby He, in His sovereign good pleasure, and on account of no foreseen merit in them, chooses a certain number of men to be the recipients of special grace and of eternal salvation. More briefly it may be said to be God's eternal purpose to save some of the human race in and by Jesus Christ."

The Apostle Paul understood many of the mysteries in the Bible. Among these is the doctrine of election. When Paul refers to election (Rom 9:10-13; Eph 1:3-14, etc.), he speaks as one understanding the topic. In Ephesians he speaks of election as being an unconditional (before the world), sanctifying, loving, and an adopting choice to the praise of his glorious grace (Eph 1:4-5). His choice was not based on us choosing him. Rather, he foreknew (fore-loved) us beforehand (Rom 8:29-30). In Romans, Paul further reveals that election is a sovereign loving choice for the praise of his glory alone (Rom 9:11, 13, 15-17, etc.).

Paul was well-grounded in the Scriptures - that is the Old Testament (Acts 22:3) - and wrote a large part of the New Testament (13 books, but second to Luke in content, who wrote the books of Luke and Acts). He does not give us a comprehensive explanation of the doctrine election in Romans 8-11 or Ephesians 1:3-14, etc., because it was earlier explained to the Church from the Book of Genesis (and elsewhere).

Jesus also understood election (see Luke 18:1-8) and describes it in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, essentially bringing us back to Genesis. Perhaps this chart and the further explanation below will help show the correlation between the passages.

Genesis 1:1-4:2
Description
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Description
Gen 1:1-2:3; Col 1:16 God / Son of Man (Owner) Matt 13:24, 37 Man (Owner)
Gen 1:1-2:3 God's universe Matt 13:24, 38 Owner's field
Gen 1:26-30 Vice-Regents: Adam and Eve Matt 13:25, 27 Vice-Regents: The servants
Gen 1:27 God's race - the elect Matt 13:27, 38 Good seed (wheat)
Gen 3:15 Satan's race - non elect Matt 13:25, 38 Bad seed (tares)
Gen 1:28, 31 God's elect are to be fruitful, multiply, and rule Matt 13:24 Owner sowed good seed
Gen 3:1-6 Adam and Eve sinned Matt 13:25 Servant's slept on the job
Gen 3:12-13 Adam and Eve withheld the whole truth - they played the blame game Matt 13:25 Servants withheld the whole truth - they slept
Gen 3:15 Seed of the serpent, seed of the woman Matt 13:25 tares (bad seed), wheat (good seed)
Gen 3:12-13: Adam and Eve explained what happened Matt 13:25, 27-28 The servants explained what happened
Gen 3:20 Eve becomes the mother of "all living" - elect and non-elect Matt 13:28-30 Wheat (elect) and tares (non-elect) abide together
Gen 4:1-2 Non-elect Cain was born before elect Abel Matt 13:30, 41-43 Non-Elect tares will be gathered before the elect wheat

Jesus tells the Kingdom parable of the weeds. Jesus provides the interpretation to this parable in (Matt. 13:36-43).

A Brief Explanation of Matthew 13:24-30

This man in Matthew 13 (God in Genesis, Jesus is God), apparently a wealthy farmer, employed several "hands" (vice-regents) to work his farm. These chosen servants knew how to sow "good seed" and care for a field. We can see a parallel to this in the fact that God, the creator and owner of the world (Gen. 1; Psa. 50:12; cf. Matt. 13:37), turned over the world to Adam and Eve (vice-regents) to tend, protect (Gen. 1:28; 2:15; cf. Matt. 13:38) and sow good seed (Gen. 1:31, since the world was created "very good," before the Fall Adam and Eve could sow nothing but good seed).

While the sowers slept "his" (not just "a" but "his" = God's) enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat (Matt. 13:25; 13:39). Similarly in the Garden of Eden, Satan ("the adversary") came with his temptation. Mankind in Adam fell (Gen 3:1-6; Rom 5:12-21). Satan sowed his "seed" (Gen. 3:15). Satan's seed are the non-elect who never belonged in God's Kingdom in the first place. They are outsiders, invaders, and enemies. Whereas, Eve use to be the mother of just the seed of the elect (Gen. 2:23, Adam called Eve "woman" when she could only bare the seed of the elect, as sin had not yet been introduced by the Fall), now she was also the mother of the non-elect (Gen. 3:20 - the mother of "all" living - "all" = elect and non-elect). Weeds had been sown among the wheat. The non-elect (seed of the serpent) were sown among the elect (seed of the woman [Gen. 3:15]; the seed of Christ [Gal. 3:29; cf. Rom. 8:17]).

In Matthew 13:26-27, the servants came to their master and in Genesis 3:8 God came to visit Adam and Eve - "walking in the garden in the cool of the day." The owner states that "his enemy" (Matt. 13:25) sowed weeds among the wheat (Matt. 13:27-28) and God clearly knew his enemy who was behind the Garden deception (Gen 3:12-15). Adam and Eve (as well as the servants who slept), were VERY culpable and needed the grace of God for redemption. In Genesis 3:21, God shed blood and clothed the first couple. Adam and Eve did not successfully cloth themselves (fig-leaf Armianism didn't work, Gen 3:7) as they could not be saved by their own works (Eph 2:8-10).

In Jesus' parable the servants ask, "'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'" (Matt. 13:28), but Jesus answers and says, "No, because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn" (Matt. 13:29-30; 13:40-42). And truly, the righteous (Rom 1:17; 3:22; 4:5; Phil 3:9) have lived in the midst of the unrighteous from the beginning. Adam and Eve bore the non-elect seed Cain first and then elect seed Abel (Gen 4:1-2). We have seen generations of each since. Only on the last day will the non-elect and the elect be separated. First the non-elect will be cast into the furnace and then the elect gathered to live with their Lord (King, Master, Owner - cf. Matt. 13:47-52; 25:32-33). See WCF 25.5; BC 29.

So, how do the non-elect then come forth out of the first couple, Adam and Eve? How does evil come forth from that which very good (Gen 1:31)? Let's be explicitly clear, the Bible nowhere says that Eve had sexual relations with Satan. So, how do we answer this question?

While we know it was sin, we do not actually know the specifics. It is interesting though that the Holy Spirit concentrates upon the words "seed" (conception, bring forth, mother, thorns, thistles, knew, conceived, bare) in Genesis 1:11-12, 29; 3:15-16, 18, 20; 4:1-2 (and the rest of the chapter, including phases such as "fruit of the ground," "firstlings of his flock," "field," "tillest the ground," "yield," "born," "begat," etc. Gen 4:3-4, 8, 10, 17-18, 20, 22, 25-26) and the terms "seed" (tares, wheat, sowed) in Matthew 13:24-27, 29-30, 37-40 (and the rest of the chapter, Matt 13:4, 19, 20, 22-23, 31-32). Biblically election and non-election are God ordained and "seed" driven (Rom 9:10-13). Israel was commanded in the Old Testament to destroy a lot of non-elect "seed" (Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and the Jebusites, etc., Deut 7:1-5). It is also interesting that God uses the word "seed" when describing the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 12:7; 13:15-16; 15:5, 13, 18; 17:7-10; cf. Rom 4:13; Gal 3:29). Also see the use of "Father" (Rom 8:15), "children" (Rom 8:17), "heirs" (Rom 8:17), and "adoption" (Eph 1:5), et. al. as well. As far as evil coming from that which is "very good" see the example below in "Evil and God?"

So, election concerns:

Groups
The Elect
The Non-Elect Text
Two Seeds Seed of the Woman Seed of the Serpent Gen 3:15
Two Seeds Wheat Tares Matt 13:24-30, 36-43
Two Seeds Sheep Goats Matt 25:31-46
Two Kingdoms Kingdom of Light Kingdom of Darkness Eph 6:10-18; Col 1:13

This covenant war between these seeds is seen throughout Scripture:

Seed of the Woman
The Elect
Gal 4:4; Gal 3:29
vs.
Seed of the Serpent
The Non-Elect
John 8:44
Text
Adam vs. Serpent Gen. 3
Noah vs. World Gen. 6-10
Abraham vs. Four kings Gen. 14
Moses vs. Egypt Exodus
David vs. Goliath 1 Sam. 17
Christ vs. Satan Matt 4:1-11; John 8:43-44; 14:6;
Gal 1:4; 4:4; Col 2:15; Phil 2:10;
Rev 12:4
Invisible Church vs. Satan, World Matt 24:4-12; John 3:19-21; 16:33;
1 Cor 6:14-15; 2 Cor 2:11;
Eph 6:10-18; 2 Tim 4:17; Jas 4:7;
1 Pet 5:8; 1 John 2:16; Rev 11:15

Those genealogies in the Bible have a little more meaning now, don't they? See Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38, etc.

Related Topics:

Calvinism and Joshua 24:15?
Calvinism and Psalms 69:28?
Calvinism and Isaiah 55:1-3?
Calvinism and Ezekiel 18:32; 33:11?
Calvinism and Matthew 11:28?
Calvinism and Matthew 23:37?
Calvinism and John 3:16?
Calvinism and John 6:33?
Calvinism and Acts 7:51?
Calvinism and 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 19?
Calvinism and 1 Timothy 2:4, 6?
Calvinism and 1 Timothy 4:10?
Calvinism and Titus 2:11?
Calvinism and Hebrews 2:10?
Calvinism and 2 Peter 2:1?
Calvinism and 2 Peter 3:9?
Calvinism and 1 John 2:2?
Calvinism and Revelation 3:5?
Theological Flowerbeds - DAISY vs. TULIP
Election vs. Predestination
Election vs. Predestination: Calvinism vs. Arminianism
Will all mankind eventually be saved? (Isn't election unjust?)
What is Reprobation?
Created for Disaster Proverbs 16:4
Evil and God?
Universalism - Ephesians 1:10 and Colossians 1:20

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).