The Ten Similitudes of the Kingdom of Heaven. There are ten parables given in Matthew’s gospel where it is stated; “the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto” or some equivalent expression. These similes, or “similitudes” as they are often called, give us a comprehensive understanding of the “mystery” phase of the Kingdom of Heaven, through which we are currently passing.
- Matthew 13:3 – The Sower – In this first great parable (NOT a similitude of the Kingdom) we learn that fruit for God can only come by receiving His Word into our hearts by way of the conscience. It is not a similitude because it gives a broader, pre-requisite principle. It comes first in the same way the Girdle of Truth is the first piece of the Christian’s armor (Eph. 6:14), because if we are not willing to apply the Word of God to ourselves, there can be no fruit for God.
Satan’s Work: The Corruption of the Kingdom
- Matthew 13:24 – The Wheat and the Tares – Teaching that a mixture of false profession (evil persons) with genuine believers will exist in this dispensation, but it will be sorted out at the coming of the Son of Man.
- Matthew 13:31 – The Mustard Seed – Teaching that Christendom would expand at an unnatural rate, becoming a huge religious apparatus, harboring evil spirits.
- Matthew 13:33 – The Leaven Hid in the Meal – Teaching that evil doctrines would spread throughout Christendom, from one end to the other.
Summary: Satan introduces evil persons, evil spirits, and evil doctrines.
God’s Work: Sovereign Grace in Spite of Evil
- Matthew 13:44 – The Treasure Hid in the Field – Teaching that in the midst of the false profession, God has a treasure… individual believers whom He values greatly. He bought the field (purchase) that He might have the treasure (redemption).
- Matthew 13:45 – The One Pearl of Great Price – Teaching that God has a special object in view… the Church, viewed as one entity, for which He sold “all that He had” to buy it.
- Matthew 13:47 – The Dragnet Cast into the Sea – Teaching that the gospel will go out in this dispensation in a remarkable way, bringing in a haul of souls. Some (bad fish) do not have genuine faith, and some (good fish) believe the message. The bad do not ruin the entire gospel effort, because God has evangelists and shepherds who are separating the good from the bad.
Our Work: The Characteristics of the Servants of the Kingdom
- Matthew 18:23 – The Unforgiving Servant– Teaching that servants of the Kingdom must have a forgiving spirit (grace) towards one another, inasmuch as our relationship with God is founded on His forgiveness towards us.
- Matthew 20:1 – The Laborers of the Vineyard – Teaching that servants of the Kingdom must be content, recognizing that the King is sovereign, and that He may expect things of us that don’t seem fair. Also, the Lord is more interested in our attitude in service than how much we are doing for Him.
- Matthew 22:2 – The Wedding Feast – Teaching that God’s priority is the honor of His Son, and He wont stop until heaven is full of worshipers. If the Jews refuse the gospel, the invitation will go to the Gentiles, and they will believe it, but judgment will fall on those who rejected it. The servants of the Kingdom are to be occupied with evangelism.
- Matthew 25:1 – The Ten Virgins – Teaching that when the whole profession of Christianity fell into a spiritual slumber, the revival of the hope of Christ’s coming is what would revive the Church. It gives a sketch of Church History in four distinct stages. The central message is that the servants of the Kingdom are to be watching for the Lord’s return.
A historical outline. There might be a prophetic history of the Christian testimony seen in these similitudes. Adrian Roach proposed that the first six and the tenth can be joined together to give a composite picture:
- Parable of the Wheat and Tares – pictures the early church (Ephesus & Smyrna)
- Parable of the Mustard Seed – pictures the unnatural outward growth of Christendom (Pergamos)
- Parable of the Hid Leaven – pictures the ingress of evil doctrine (Thyatira)
- Parable of the Treasure – pictures the reformation and recovery of individual truth (Pre-Sardis)
- Parable of the One Pearl – pictures the recovery of Church truth (Philadelphia)
- Parable of the Dragnet – pictures the evangelical outreach of 19th – 20th centuries (Pre-Laodicea)
- Parable of the Ten Virgins – pictures the coming of Christ (the Rapture).
In a recent talk I went through some of the highlights of these ten similitudes. The recording is provided below: