“The Righteous Ones Will Shine as Brightly as the Sun”
“At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”—MATT. 13:43.
1. Jesus used illustrations to explain what different aspects of the Kingdom?
JESUS CHRIST used many illustrations, or parables, to explain different aspects of the Kingdom. He “spoke to the crowds by illustrations. Indeed, without an illustration he would not speak to them.” (Matt. 13:34) In illustrations about sowing the seed of Kingdom truth, Jesus emphasized the role of a person’s heart condition in accepting the message, as well as the role that Jehovah plays in causing spiritual growth. (Mark 4:3-9, 26-29) Jesus also illustrated the outstanding growth of Kingdom interests here on earth even if that growth is not always at first discernible. (Matt. 13:31-33) Additionally, he highlighted that not all who respond to the Kingdom message are necessarily suitable subjects of that Kingdom.—Matt. 13:47-50.*
2. In Jesus’ illustration of the wheat and the weeds, what does the fine seed represent?
2 However, one of Jesus’ illustrations focuses on the gathering of those who will rule with Jesus in his Kingdom. This is often called the parable of the wheat and the weeds and is recorded in Matthew chapter 13. Whereas in another illustration, Jesus tells us that the seed that is sown is “the word of the kingdom,” in this illustration, he tells us that the fine seed represents something different—“the sons of the kingdom.” (Matt. 13:19, 38) These are not subjects of the Kingdom but, rather, “sons,” or heirs, of the Kingdom.—Rom. 8:14-17; read Galatians 4:6, 7.
The Illustration of the Wheat and the Weeds
3. Explain the problem that faces the man in the illustration and how he decides to handle this problem.
3 This is the illustration: “The kingdom of the heavens has become like a man that sowed fine seed in his field. While men were sleeping, his enemy came and oversowed weeds in among the wheat, and left. When the blade sprouted and produced fruit, then the weeds appeared also. So the slaves of the householder came up and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow fine seed in your field? How, then, does it come to have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy, a man, did this.’ They said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go out and collect them?’ He said, ‘No; that by no chance, while collecting the weeds, you uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the harvest season I will tell the reapers, First collect the weeds and bind them in bundles to burn them up, then go to gathering the wheat into my storehouse.’”—Matt. 13:24-30.
4. (a) Who is the man in the illustration? (b) When and how did Jesus start to engage in the sowing of this seed?
4 Who is the man who sowed the fine seed in his field? Jesus provides the answer later when he explains to his disciples: “The sower of the fine seed is the Son of man.” (Matt. 13:37) Jesus, the “Son of man,” prepared the field for planting during the three and a half years of his earthly ministry. (Matt. 8:20; 25:31; 26:64) Then from Pentecost 33 C.E. onward, he started to sow the fine seed—“the sons of the kingdom.” This sowing evidently took place when Jesus, as Jehovah’s representative, began to pour out holy spirit upon the disciples, thereby anointing them as God’s sons.* (Acts 2:33) The fine seed developed into mature wheat. So the objective in sowing the fine seed was eventually to gather the full number of those who would become joint heirs and rulers with Jesus in his Kingdom.
5. Who is the enemy in the illustration, and who are pictured by the weeds?
5 Who is the enemy, and who are the weeds? Jesus tells us that the enemy “is the Devil.” The weeds are described as “the sons of the wicked one.” (Matt. 13:25, 38, 39) In a literal sense, the weeds that Jesus referred to were probably the bearded darnel. This poisonous plant closely resembles wheat in its early stages before it reaches maturity. What a fitting picture of imitation Christians, those who claim to be sons of the Kingdom but do not produce genuine fruitage! These hypocritical Christians who claim to be followers of Christ are really part of the “seed” of Satan the Devil.—Gen. 3:15.
6. When did the weeds start to appear, and how were men “sleeping” at the time?
6 When did these weedlike Christians appear? “While men were sleeping,” says Jesus. (Matt. 13:25) When was this? We find the answer in the apostle Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders: “I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29, 30) He went on to admonish those elders to keep awake spiritually. After the apostles, who acted as “a restraint” against the apostasy, began falling asleep in death, many Christians fell asleep spiritually. (Read 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 6-8.) That is when the great apostasy started.
7. Did some of the wheat turn into weeds? Explain.
7 Jesus did not say that the wheat would become weeds but that weeds were sown among the wheat. So this illustration does not portray genuine Christians who fall away from the truth. Rather, it points to a deliberate effort on the part of Satan to corrupt the Christian congregation by introducing wicked people into it. By the time that the last apostle, John, was old, this apostasy was clearly evident.—2 Pet. 2:1-3; 1 John 2:18.
“Let Both Grow Together Until the Harvest”
8, 9. (a) Why would the Master’s instructions to his slaves have made sense to Jesus’ listeners? (b) In the fulfillment, how did the wheat and the weeds grow together?
8 The Master’s slaves inform him of the problem and ask: “Do you want us, then, to go out and collect [the weeds]?” (Matt. 13:27, 28) His answer may seem surprising. He tells them to allow the wheat and the weeds to grow together until the time of the harvest. That command would make sense to Jesus’ disciples. They would realize just how difficult it is to distinguish wheat from darnel weed. Those with some agricultural experience would also realize that the bearded darnel’s root system usually intertwines with that of the wheat.* No wonder the Master instructs them to wait!
9 In a similar way, down through the centuries, the various sects of Christendom have produced a bumper crop of weeds—first among the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches and later among the numerous Protestant groups that sprang up. At the same time, a few seeds of the genuine wheat were sown in the world field. The householder in the illustration waited patiently during the extended growing time until the relatively shorter harvesttime would arrive.
The Long-Anticipated Harvesttime
10, 11. (a) When is the time for the harvest? (b) How is the symbolic wheat being brought into Jehovah’s storehouse?
10 Jesus tells us: “The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things, and the reapers are angels.” (Matt. 13:39) During the last days of this wicked system of things, a separating takes place—the sons of the Kingdom are to be gathered and separated from any weedlike ones. Regarding this, the apostle Peter tells us: “It is the appointed time for the judgment to start with the house of God. Now if it starts first with us, what will the end be of those who are not obedient to the good news of God?”—1 Pet. 4:17.
11 Shortly after the beginning of the last days, or the “conclusion of a system of things,” the judgment started for those who claimed to be genuine Christians—whether they were actually “sons of the kingdom” or “sons of the wicked one.” “First” Babylon the Great fell, and “then” the sons of the Kingdom were gathered together at the start of the harvest. (Matt. 13:30) But how is the symbolic wheat now being brought into Jehovah’s storehouse? These harvested ones were either brought into the restored Christian congregation, where they have God’s favor and protection, or they received their heavenly reward.
12. For how long does the harvest continue?
12 How long does the judgment last? Jesus referred to the harvest as a “season,” so it continues over a period of time. (Rev. 14:15, 16) The judgment of the individual members of the anointed continues throughout the time of the end. It will last until they are finally sealed.—Rev. 7:1-4.
13. In what way do the weeds cause stumbling, and how are they doing lawlessness?
13 Who will be collected out from the Kingdom, and how do they cause stumbling and do lawlessness? (Matt. 13:41) The weedlike clergy of Christendom have misled millions for centuries. They have done this by means of God-dishonoring teachings, “things that cause stumbling,” such as the doctrine of eternal punishment in hellfire and the confusing and mysterious Trinity. Many religious leaders have set a bad example for their flocks by their adulterous friendship with this world and in some cases by their flagrant immoral conduct. (Jas. 4:4) Additionally, Christendom has become increasingly tolerant of immorality among its members. (Read Jude 4.) Despite all of this, they continue to maintain an outward show of piety and godliness. How happy the sons of the Kingdom are to be separated from such weedlike influences and corrupt teachings that cause stumbling!
14. How do the weedlike ones weep and gnash their teeth?
14 How do the weedlike ones weep and gnash their teeth? (Matt. 13:42) “The sons of the wicked one” are tormented by the fact that “the sons of the kingdom” have exposed the spiritually poisonous condition of these weedlike ones. They also bemoan the diminishing support they receive from their church members, as well as their loss of control over the laity.—Read Isaiah 65:13, 14.
15. In what sense are the weedlike ones burned with fire?
15 In what sense are the weeds collected and burned with fire? (Matt. 13:40) This refers to the final outcome for the weeds. Their being thrown symbolically into the fiery furnace indicates that they are headed for eternal destruction. (Rev. 20:14; 21:8) The imitation, weedlike Christians, the impostors, will be eradicated during the “great tribulation.”—Matt. 24:21.
They “Will Shine as Brightly as the Sun”
16, 17. What did Malachi prophesy concerning God’s temple, and how did this start to be fulfilled?
16 At what time do the wheatlike ones “shine as brightly as the sun”? (Matt. 13:43) Concerning the cleansing of God’s temple, Malachi prophesied: “‘Suddenly there will come to His temple the true Lord, whom you people are seeking, and the messenger of the covenant in whom you are delighting. Look! He will certainly come,’ Jehovah of armies has said. ‘But who will be putting up with the day of his coming, and who will be the one standing when he appears? For he will be like the fire of a refiner and like the lye of laundrymen. And he must sit as a refiner and cleanser of silver and must cleanse the sons of Levi; and he must clarify them like gold and like silver, and they will certainly become to Jehovah people presenting a gift offering in righteousness.’”—Mal. 3:1-3.
17 In modern times, this prophecy evidently started to be fulfilled in 1918 when Jehovah, along with “the messenger of the covenant,” Jesus Christ, inspected the spiritual temple. Malachi tells us what happens once this cleansing is completed: “You people will again certainly see the distinction between a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him.” (Mal. 3:18) The surge in activity on the part of the reinvigorated true Christians points to that period as the beginning of the harvesttime.
18. What did Daniel prophesy would happen in our day?
18 The prophet Daniel spoke of our day when he foretold: “The ones having insight will shine like the brightness of the expanse; and those who are bringing the many to righteousness, like the stars to time indefinite, even forever.” (Dan. 12:3) Who are these ones who shine so brightly? Why, none other than anointed Christians, the genuine wheat that Jesus referred to in his illustration of the wheat and the weeds! The ‘collecting out’ of the weedlike imitation Christians has been clearly recognized by an ever-increasing great crowd of sheeplike ones. In attaching themselves to the remnant of spiritual Israel, these prospective subjects of the Kingdom likewise let their light shine in this bedarkened world.—Zech. 8:23; Matt. 5:14-16; Phil. 2:15.
19, 20. What do “the sons of the kingdom” eagerly await, and what will we discuss in the next article?
19 Today, “the sons of the kingdom” eagerly await their glorious, heavenly reward. (Rom. 8:18, 19; 1 Cor. 15:53; Phil. 1:21-24) Until that time, though, they must remain faithful, continuing to shine brightly, standing out as different from “the sons of the wicked one.” (Matt. 13:38; Rev. 2:10) How happy we all can be that we have had the privilege of seeing the results of this symbolic ‘collecting out’ of the weeds in our time!
20 But what is the relationship between these sons of the Kingdom and the ever-expanding great crowd of those who hope to live forever on earth as subjects of the Kingdom? The next article will answer this question.
For a detailed discussion of these illustrations, see The Watchtower, July 15, 2008, pages 12-21.
In this parable, the sowing does not represent the work of preaching and disciple making, which would bring in new ones who would become anointed Christians. Regarding the fine seed that is sown in the field, Jesus said: “These are [not “will become”] the sons of the kingdom.” The sowing refers to the anointing of these sons of the Kingdom in the world field.
The roots of the bearded darnel become so intertwined with the roots of the wheat that to uproot them before harvest would result in a loss of wheat.—See Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1, page 1178.
Do You Remember?
In Jesus’ illustration of the wheat and the weeds, what do these parts of the illustration mean?
• The fine seed
• The man who sowed the seed
• The sowing of the seed
• The enemy
• The weeds
• The harvest season
• The storehouse
• The weeping and gnashing of teeth
• The fiery furnace
[Pictures on page 20]
Pentecost 33 C.E. marked the start of sowing the fine seed
[Picture on page 23]
The symbolic wheat is now being brought into Jehovah’s storehouse
Pictorial Archive (Near Eastern History) Est.