19. Why were the “slaves of the householder” distressed?
19 Whether these worried “slaves” (Mt 13 verse 27) are identical with the “reapers” (Mt 13 verse 30) Jesus does not explain. If they are, this would mean that the angels were distressed by the abundant growth of “weeds” in their Master’s field. (Matt. 13:39)
Harvesting in the “Time of the End”
“The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things.—Matt. 13:39.
1. Why is the “harvest” foretold by Jesus a twofold reason for joy?
A GOOD harvest is always a reason for joy and thanksgiving. It is a time for reaping the fruits of long, hard labor. The harvest foretold in Christ’s parable of the “wheat” and the “weeds” would provide a twofold reason for all mankind to rejoice. Why? Not only because it would mean the ingathering of the required number of “sons of the kingdom,” or “holy ones,” to be associated with Christ in his “indefinitely lasting rulership,” thus ensuring good government for the earth, but also because this “harvest” would of itself be proof that we are living at the “conclusion of a system of things” and at the dawn of a righteous new order.—Dan. 7:14, 27; Matt. 13:38, 39; 2 Pet. 3:13.
“SYNTEʹLEIA” AND “TELOS”
2. Why is the Greek work synteʹleia better translated by “conclusion” than by “end,” and so with what period mentioned in Daniel does the synteʹleia correspond?
2 Jesus did not say that the “harvest” is “the end of the world,” as some Bible translations would have us believe. (Authorized Version; American Standard Version; The Jerusalem Bible) Such translations make no distinction between the two Greek words synteʹleia and telos. Explaining synteʹleia, W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words states: “The word does not denote a termination, but the heading up of events to the appointed climax.” So when Jesus said “the harvest is a conclusion [synteʹleia] of a system of things,” he was speaking of a period of activity that would have a beginning and an end. According to Matthew 13:30, Jesus referred to “the harvest season,” obviously designating a period of time, the period the prophet Daniel spoke of as “the time of the end.” (Dan. 12:4) Interestingly, when the translators of the Greek Septuagint Version translated this verse in Daniel, they used the word synteʹleia.
3. With what is the “harvest season” connected, and what does the Greek word telos mean and refer to in Matthew 24:14?
3 This same word is used in Matthew 24:3, where the disciples asked Jesus: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion [synteʹleia] of the system of things?” So the “harvest season” is connected with Christ’s invisible presence as Harvester. In answer to his disciples’ question, Jesus enumerated international warfare, food shortages, pestilences, great earthquakes, lawlessness and a general climate of fear. (Compare parallel accounts in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21.) Then, showing that the “harvest season” would come to an end, he added: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end [telos] will come.” (Matt. 24:14) The word telos means “end,” “in the sense termination, cessation . . . the last part, close, conclusion esp[ecially] of the last things, the final act in the cosmic drama.”*
4. When did the “conclusion,” or the “time of the end,” begin, and so what can be said of the “harvest”?
4 Facts of modern history since 1914, in fulfillment of Bible prophecy, show that the present system of things is well into its “time of the end,” or “conclusion” (synteʹleia). To requote W. E. Vine, we are witnessing “the heading up of events to the appointed climax” or end (telos). Therefore, the “harvest” of Jesus’ illustration must be on; in fact, it must be nearing its culmination. Have the events foretold in the rest of the parable been observable since 1914?
“THE HARVEST OF THE EARTH IS THOROUGHLY RIPE”
5. At harvesttime, what would the “Son of man” order his angels to do?
5 Continuing his explanation of “the illustration of the weeds in the field,” Jesus stated: “The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things, and the reapers are angels. Therefore, just as the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be in the conclusion of the system of things. The Son of man will send forth his angels, and they will collect out from his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness, and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be.”—Matt. 13:39-42.
6. Among whom was the “wheat” left to grow?
6 The “reapers,” or angels, would be sent forth by the “Son of man” at “the conclusion of the system of things,” in order to weed out from among the true “sons of the kingdom” “all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness.” As the preceding article has shown, the Devil’s oversowing “weeds” by night has resulted in organized apostasy, false Christianity under a hierarchy of oppressive religious leaders who came to form the composite “man of lawlessness,” foretold by the apostle Paul. (2 Thess. 2:3-12) The true “wheat” was left to grow among such “weeds” until the “time of the end.” Then the “Son of man” would order his “reapers” to separate the “sons of the kingdom” from the “sons of the wicked one.”
7. What parallel prophecy helps us to identify the harvesttime?
7 When did this separating work begin? An interesting parallel prophecy leaves us in no doubt as to when it would be. It reads: “And I saw, and, look! a white cloud, and upon the cloud someone seated like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel emerged from the temple sanctuary, crying with a loud voice to the one seated on the cloud: ‘Put your sickle in and reap, because the hour has come to reap, for the harvest of the earth is thoroughly ripe.’ And the one seated on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.”—Rev. 14:14-16.
8. How is the “Son of man” pictured in Revelation 14:14, and so after what event must the harvest have begun?
8 Here we see the “Son of man,” Jesus Christ, not as a sower sowing “fine seed in his field” but as a crowned king moving into action for the “harvest of the earth.” His being seated on a cloud symbolizes his invisible presence. (Acts 1:9-11; Rev. 1:7) The “harvest” must, therefore, take place during Christ’s presence, after he is crowned and receives “rulership and dignity and kingdom” from Jehovah, the “Ancient of Days.” (Dan. 7:13, 14) So the harvesting began sometime after 1914, the year that marked the beginning of the “time of the end,” or the “conclusion of the system of things.”
9. When did the separating work begin?
9 When, after 1914, did the Son of man “send forth his angels” to separate the “sons of the kingdom” from “the sons of the wicked one,” the imitation “wheat,” that is, “persons who are doing lawlessness” and who include the “man of lawlessness,” the religious leaders of counterfeit Christianity? The answer must correspond with the facts, and these show that it was in 1919 that the spirit-begotten, anointed “sons of the kingdom,” symbolized by the “wheat,” began to be freed from the “weeds,” or false Christians, that had overrun the religious field of mankind. The “harvest of the earth” was ripe and the time had come for the “Son of man” to thrust in his sickle and reap. The parable reveals that he did this by means of his “reapers,” angels.