Posts Tagged ‘Matthew’

Psalms At the Passover: Matthew 26:30

July 11, 2011 Comments off

From S. Lewis Johnson’s Gospel of Matthew series, an interesting item from Matthew 26:30 (“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”)  I had never really thought about that brief statement and what it referred to, but here we have more background concerning the Passover and the Psalms that were sung.

The Great Hallel, Psalms 113-118, was sung at every Passover:  Psalms 113-114 at the beginning, and Psalms 115-118 at the end of the service.  This set of psalms is also called the “Egyptian Hallel” according to the MacArthur Bible Commentary, which also mentions two other Hallels in scripture, Psalms 120-136 “The Great Hallel” and Psalms 145-150 the “Final Hallel.”  All agree that Psalms 113-118 were sung at the Passover service.

So reading through Psalms 115 through 118 help us focus on the thoughts of the Lord Jesus and his disciples that night.

  • Psalm 115 begins with focus on God’s glory:  Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, But unto Your name give glory.
  • Psalm 116 is the story of a passing through death to life and service.  Consider the following great verses:

The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

and verses 15-16:

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
​​​​​​​​O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
You have loosed my bonds.

  • Psalm 117 (only two verses) is the psalm of universal praise following upon that passing through death to life and service.
  • Psalm 118 has the refrain, “His steadfast love endures forever,” and ends on that note.

As G. Campbell Morgan observes, “Thus the King came to the darkness of the Cross singing of the enduring loving-kindness of GOD.”

Was Jesus Mistaken? Did He Really Say That He Would Return In the First Century?

June 27, 2011 Comments off

Amongst Christian circles, liberals like to point to Bible texts that talk of Jesus returning soon (for instance, in Revelation 1 and 22, and Matthew 24 (“this generation”), and say that Jesus must have been mistaken, since 2000+ years have now elapsed.  “Where is the sign of His coming?” they challenge, just as surely as the apostle Peter prophesied they would.

Then Preterists, including partial preterists, came along with the desire to “rescue” Jesus from liberal criticism, by coming up with a scheme to support the idea that Jesus was not mistaken and that He really did return (in secret, or in judgment) in 70 A.D.  R.C. Sproul, influenced by the theological liberalism of his education, is one such proponent, and has admitted that he had this starting point.

But in my study through the gospel accounts, and especially the parables, comes another teaching.  As S. Lewis Johnson points out in his Matthew series  — and is also evident in many other parables, such as in Luke’s gospel — Jesus repeatedly emphasized the fact that a long time period would elapse between Christ’s First and Second Coming.

In Matthew’s “Parables of Rejection,” Jesus first hints at this long period of time.  The master of the house (Matthew 21:33-41) set up a vineyard, leased it to tenants, and then went away into another country.  The parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1-10) sets forth a future time when the actual wedding feast will take place — and in Jewish custom several years elapsed between the initial engagement (by the parents) and the actual time of the wedding — again to indicate an unknown time gap; the invited guests meanwhile had gone off to do other “more important” things.  By themselves these parables are certainly not conclusive, but neither do they contradict a long period of time.

The Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) tells much more information, including the fact that enough time will elapse for nations and kingdoms to rise up against each other, and for wars and rumors of war to continue.  Later in Matthew 24, Jesus indicates the importance of being prepared, again hinting that such a long time will elapse (Matthew 24:48-50) that the servants will not be expecting Him, and that wicked servants will notice that “my master is delayed.” The two parables that follow, of the ten virgins and the talents (Matthew 25:1-30), also show a lengthy delay: all of the virgins fall asleep; the master giving the talents goes away on a long journey, and in verse 19 returns “after a long time.”

Luke’s gospel has similar parables and words from Jesus, indicating a lengthy time before His return.  Consider Luke 12:35-40 and the admonition to keep your lamps burning, to be ready whether He comes in the second, third or even the fourth watch of the night.  Then, the parable of the persistent widow (which in context has eschatological reference), which concludes with Jesus’ words: “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8) Just as all the virgins fell asleep, here the question arises again:  after such a long time (the continued persistent prayers of the faithful), will believers still be found, ready and anticipating His return.  In Luke 19, He tells the parable of the Ten Minas because the people believed that the Kingdom of God was to appear immediately (v. 11). The following parable is similar to the talents one in Matthew 25, again with the point that the nobleman went into a far country before returning.

Luke 21, another account of the Olivet Discourse, includes additional information regarding the time gap:  verses 20-24 speak of the destruction of Jerusalem, the people being led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem being trampled underfoot by the Gentiles “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”  (See my previous blog concerning this text:  Luke’s Gospel and Eschatology.) Then verse 25 resumes the narrative related to future events as paralleled by Matthew and Mark.

The gospels contain so many of Jesus’ teaching, and make the point clear.  Jesus clearly set forth the idea of a long wait, that He did not think He was going to return soon in terms of elapsed time.  Rather, He continually pointed out the ideas of perseverance, waiting and preparedness, along with parables regarding his absence for a long period of time.  Certainly no one could have realized that this delay is now 2000+ years, but the biblical record is clear enough that liberals deserve a better response than that of Preterists, those who too readily agree with the liberals’ premise and then try to force other scripture into a mold it was never intended to fit into.

The Parables of Rejection: Matthew’s Gospel

June 9, 2011 1 comment

As many know, the gospel of Matthew is arranged topically, with all related material together in one section of the gospel, followed by another section for a few chapters, and so forth — in contrast to Luke’s gospel which follows a more chronological pattern.  In my study through the gospel of Matthew with S. Lewis Johnson, I now come to the section dealing with events of the last week before the Crucifixion, and particularly to chapters 21 and 22 — which introduce a series of three parables containing the theme of the rejection of Christ by His people Israel.

The first parable (Matthew 21:28-32) tells of two sons asked to go work in the vineyard. One said he would not go, but afterward repented and went.  The other said he would go, but did not go.  By direct application this parable contrasts the rulers of the people (the second son) with the common people (the tax collectors and harlots), and by extension applies to the overall nation of Israel as compared to the Gentiles.

The second parable (Matthew 21:33-45) tells of a householder, a very wealthy man who planted a vineyard and prepared it for fruit and then went off to a far country, expecting his fruit to be given in its season.  This parable has much in common with Isaiah 5:1-7, and therefore familiar terminology to the Jews; but here Jesus adds the element of the man sending his servants (the prophets), and finally his son, to the tenants to collect his fruit.

The third parable (Matthew 22:1-14) is that of a Marriage Feast. Those who had been invited are now called to come, but they refused — and so the king extended the invitation to many others out on the main road, to fill the house with guests.

These parables have different emphases, but all teach the same main points:
1.  The empty profession leads to judgment:  the man who says, I will go and work — but does not go, can expect only judgment.  The judgment theme is further developed in the second parable:  the man who does not respond to the owner of the household, to give Him his fruit, is likewise exposted to judgment.  The third parable shows a man at the wedding feast, but without the wedding garment:  an empty profession is not enough.

2.  God’s Program for the Nation Israel and the Gentiles shall undergo a dramatic change–by virtue of the fact that the Nation Israel, to whom the promises had been given, has now evidently refused the Son at His coming.

The first parable teaches that the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you — and likewise, the Gentiles shall precede this generation into the kingdom of God.  Note that even here God is still very gracious and leaves the door open:  they shall enter “before you.”  The door has not been permanently shut, and there still is opportunity for you.  Thus has been the case down through history:  the church has been composed of a majority of Gentiles, but still some Jews.  Even in the book of Acts we learn that some of the Pharisees, and some of the priests, did indeed come to faith in Christ — one of the evidences we see for answer to Christ’s prayer from the cross, “forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The second parable is even more clear:  the kingdom of God shall be taken from you (those who did not bring forth fruit to their master) and given to the Gentiles.  Then in the third parable, the chosen people do not even want to come, and so the servants of the king go out to the highways and gather as many as they can find.

Those that have been invited to the feast, the Nation Israel, because of their rejection of the Son did not come, and so he goes out into the highways and selects all, as many as they find, both bad and good, and they come to the feast.  That’s His way of telling in a simple illustrative story that there is a tremendous transformation taking place in the program of God at the first coming of the Lord Jesus.

The parables also have different emphases:  work for God in the first parable, stewardship and the particular relationship of trustee in the second parable, and the joy of a marriage feast in the third parable.  Yet each of these parables convey great truths, in the illustrative way that only our Lord Jesus Christ can relate these things to us, for our greater understanding.

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard: Salvation at Different Ages of Life

May 23, 2011 2 comments

How nice it would be, we often think, if everyone who was saved came to salvation at a young age, with a full life of service and opportunities for service.  It is easy enough to regret the lost years, no matter at what age God brings us to saving faith, and plenty has been said concerning the virtue of salvation among youth — even to statistics showing that the vast majority of believers are saved at a younger age, especially by college age, some before age 30, but then in ever decreasing numbers after that age.

The parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), a great parable about God’s Sovereignty in Rewards, has application in this very issue: believers saved when they are young (hired the first hour), versus those saved at later hours in the day: the third hour, the sixth hour, the ninth hour, and even the 11th hour.  In this teaching — directly following Peter’s attitude of “we have left everything to follow you? What are we going to get out of this?” (Matt. 19:27) — our Lord makes clear that is the quality and not the quantity of our service that matters.  Also, that “many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

S. Lewis Johnson pointed out these issues, from the parable and its context.  He was saved as a businessman in his mid-twenties — and though he had already completed an undergraduate degree and embarked on a career in the insurance business, still God had other plans for the rest of his long life ahead.  Certainly God has mightily used some men who were saved as youths:  John MacArthur, for instance, and especially Charles Spurgeon.  Yet others were saved at even later ages and used mightily by God.  As SLJ pointed out, Scofield was saved at a relatively late age (36), a lawyer and alcoholic, and yet his Scofield Bible, for all its shortcomings, “was used of God in the lives of many, even in my life.”  Johnson also mentioned a man who had heard the preaching of John Flavel years before at age 17, yet was not brought to the Lord until 86 years later at the age of 103.  For three years he lived as a Christian; you can find his tombstone today.  It reads something like this:  “Here lies a babe three years old by grace, who died at age one hundred six by nature.”

From my own experience over the last few years, I consider several cases of salvation coming to older people: a man at church here, saved and baptized only a few years ago at about age 70; my late great-uncle’s second wife — who had remained single all her life, fully consumed in a feminist, career life until she married my great-uncle late in life — and also came to salvation then, past the age of 80.  Then an online friend saved in her early 50s, and her mom saved at age 87.

Or consider the case of the dying thief:

Now it’s not a very good place from which to carry out your Christian service hanging on a cross, but nevertheless, he did, and he did precisely that, because if you’ll remember, he gave testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ … and vindicated him by saying, “This man had done nothing amiss.”  He worshipped the Lord calling him Lord, and then gave us a magnificent prayer, “Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,” which has caused numerous interpreters to believe that at the moment of his death he probably understood more about theology than any man living at the time, including the apostles, because he saw the nature of the Messianic kingdom.  He saw that our Lord was the Messianic kingdom.  He knew that when he passed from this life, he would have life beyond the grave.  He knew that the greatest thing in life was not the stay here, but to go there.  He didn’t say, “Let me come down from the cross,” but he said, “remember me when you come in your kingdom.”  Now what a magnificent Christian service this man rendered at the last few moments of his life, and what tremendous quantity it had, because down through the years, men such as I have been proclaiming the gospel contained in the words of this magnificent servant of Jesus Christ, called at the eleventh hour to the service of the Lord.

Now, some closing thoughts from J.C. Ryle (from Holiness, chapter 17) about how we all do some good to other souls while here:

I believe that just as ‘no man lives unto himself’ (Rom. 14:7), so also no man is converted only for himself and that the conversion of one man or woman always leads on, in God’s wonderful providence, to the conversion of others. I do not say for a moment that all believers know it. I think it far more likely that many live and die in the faith, who are not aware that they have done good to any soul. But I believe the resurrection morning and the judgment day, when the secret history of all Christians is revealed, will prove that the full meaning of the promise before us has never failed. I doubt if there will be a believer who will not have been to someone or other a ‘river of living water,’ a channel through whom the Spirit has conveyed saving grace. Even the penitent thief, short as his time was after he repented, has been a source of blessing to thousands of souls!

J.C. Ryle: Taking Up Your Cross

May 7, 2011 Comments off

From J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Matthew, text:  Matthew 16:24-28:

Let us learn, in the last place, that the second coming of Christ is the time when His people shall receive their rewards. “The Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will render to everyone according to his deeds.”

There is deep wisdom in this saying of our Lord’s, when viewed in connection with the preceding verses. He knows the heart of a man. He knows how soon we are ready to be cast down, and like Israel of old to be “discouraged by the difficulties of the way.” He therefore holds out to us a gracious promise. He reminds us that He has yet to come a second time, as surely as He came the first time. He tells us that this is the time when His disciples shall receive their good things. There will be glory, honor, and reward in abundance one day for all who have served and loved Jesus. But it is to be in the dispensation of the second advent, and not of the first. The bitter must come before the sweet, the cross before the crown. The first advent is the dispensation of the crucifixion. The second advent is the dispensation of the kingdom. We must submit to take part with our Lord in His humiliation, if we mean ever to share in his glory.

We have heard of the necessity of taking up the cross, and denying ourselves. Have we taken it up, and are we carrying it daily? We have heard of the value of the soul. Do we live as if we believed it? We have heard of Christ’s second advent. Do we look forward to it with hope and joy? Happy is that man who can give a satisfactory answer to these questions.

Lordship Salvation Views: Matthew’s Gospel

April 28, 2011 6 comments

As an online friend once commented, it’s interesting to see how different preachers treat the same scripture passages, revealing their own distinctive views and emphases.  As one recent example, considering Matthew 16:24-27, I’ve noticed that one’s ideas of salvation and discipleship come into play and affect our understanding of Jesus’ words.

In this text Jesus says “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  In S. Lewis Johnson’s teaching on this text, he notes that this can be taken in two different senses:

1.  As referring to salvation and the gospel, “that every true Christian is a person who denies himself and takes up his cross and follows the Lord Jesus.”  — or —
2.  Referring to discipleship:  Jesus here is speaking to disciples, and the phrase “come after Me” differs from the basic gospel message, “come unto Me.”

Though the term “Lordship Salvation” is never mentioned here, the concept was clearly in SLJ’s mind as he noted the two views, pointing out that he did respect those who hold to the first view and that “a truth is expressed by what lies back of that interpretation.”  He then continued to emphasize the discipleship that is conveyed here.

By contrast, a message from John MacArthur‘s Matthew series assumes the first view without really addressing the other interpretation, as in this excerpt:

Now, what does He mean “if any man will come after Me?” Basically just this, if you want to be a Christian, if you want to follow Jesus, if you want to be a disciple, if you want to come to Christ…it’s an evangelistic word here. You say, “Well, then why is He giving it to the disciples?” Well, the evangelistic thrust goes to the multitude. But it also has a tremendous message to the disciples because it’s easy for us having understood that total commitment to the Lordship of Christ and submission to Him when we got in, to eventually begin to try to take back some of our own rights. … this is not only a word for those who need to know how to come to Christ to start with, but this is a word for those who having come may have forgotten what they said they came for in the beginning. So if you come to follow Jesus Christ, you come on His terms.

Later in this same Matthew 16 message SLJ also brought up the story of Lot, one who was a true believer yet had no fruit or influence.  Again, discipleship is better and the desirable state for believers, but is it really scriptural to say that only mature believers are truly saved?  In the previous post I referenced J.C. Ryle as one who clearly did recognize this distinction between types of believers.  As Johnson pointed out, Charles Hodge is another one — and from my googling online I found references to that fact.

Recognizing this distinction between justification and sanctification, and between two types of believers, the carnal immature versus spiritual mature, of course does not mean that Christians should evangelize with Arminian-style “decision cards” or tracts promoting the idea that it’s okay to be a carnal Christian.  Throughout history the gospel has always been proclaimed through preaching and teaching of the Word, proclaiming gospel salvation to lost sinners, and the results are born out in the lives of those who respond to the gospel message and come to faith in Christ.  God’s word convicts a person of his own sinfulness and brings regeneration and faith to that person, who afterwards begins attending at a local church — sanctification beginning in the believer’s life.  Yet scripture and church history clearly show that some believers do not mature to the extent that others do.  God alone understands why this is so, but He is the one who has consigned all of us over to disobedience so as to have mercy — on so many of us.

Finally, the following article, the conclusion from S. Lewis Johnson’s 1989 paper concerning Lordship Salvation (“QT: S. Lewis Johnson on Lordship Salvation”), is quite helpful towards a proper perspective.

J.C. Ryle: The Workers in the Vineyard

April 23, 2011 Comments off

J.C. Ryle, from Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Matthew.

Text:  Matthew 20:1-16  (The parable of the workers in the vineyard hired at different hours of the day.)

Let us beware of supposing, from this parable, that the distinction between Jews and Gentiles is entirely done away by the Gospel. To suppose this is to contradict many plain prophecies, both of the Old Testament and New. In the matter of justification, there is no distinction between the believing Jew and the Greek. Yet Israel is still a special people, and not “numbered among the nations.” God has many purposes concerning the Jews, which are yet to be fulfilled.

Let us beware of supposing, from this parable, that all saved souls will have the same degree of glory. To suppose this, is to contradict many plain texts of Scripture. The title of all believers no doubt is the same–the righteousness of Christ. But all will not have the same place in heaven. “Every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor.” (1 Cor. 3:8.)

The “Crumbs” of Scripture

April 18, 2011 Comments off

Among all the riches of God’s word, sometimes we have to search diligently, exhausting the depth of scripture verses, to find treasures, even to the “crumbs” of God’s word.  Spurgeon used the term in reference to seemingly obscure verses — not the ones we typically remember — that, even so, bring great insights, such as his reference to Ezekiel 16:20-21:

Where we have but little, we must pick up even the crumbs and do as our Master did—gather up the fragments that nothing is lost

Likewise, sometimes Bible teachers will expand on the seemingly trivial pieces of information found in scripture, grasping at the crumbs, as for instance John MacArthur did with the writings about the “12 Ordinary Men” and the “12 Extraordinary Women.”

But now to a particular case in the Bible where someone literally grasped at the crumbs provided in God’s plan:  the Syro-Phoenician woman of Matthew 15:21-28 (parallel passage Mark 7:24-30) who asked for the crumbs that fall from the children to the dogs under the table.  S. Lewis Johnson’s Matthew series provides some good teaching concerning this often misunderstood incident.

In my early Christian years, the view I heard at church was that Jesus acted as He did to make a point to the disciples who were annoyed at the woman:  first acting like them, then showing them the proper response and to not be so exclusive.  In the more recent church setting, the general emphasis (repeated frequently) is the fact that Jesus called her a dog (with no distinction as to the type of dog), just an unclean wild animal, and how we all are as unclean dogs so unworthy before God.  Such superficial, incomplete (and wrong) conclusions often reflect a person’s own bias rather than a serious look at the text:  the one view from a people-oriented teacher interested in our relationships with one another, the second from one who is not a “people-person” and who has a rather negative and distorted concept of God.

As S. Lewis Johnson noted, this particular incident cannot be understood apart from an understanding of God’s Purpose of the Ages, sometimes referred to as the Divine Purpose, a fundamental aspect of dispensationalism.  The underlying issue here is the priority of the gospel:  as Paul says in Romans, “first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles.”  As earlier in Matthew (Matthew 10:5-6), Jesus sent the twelve disciples out — only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.  Christ came into the world, to the Jews first:  to confirm the promises made to their fathers — and then (next in the sequence), in order that the Gentiles would glorify God for His mercy (Romans 15:8-9).

Jesus’ silence towards the woman here is not one of harshness, the type of silence He showed towards His enemies beyond hope of redemption (the Pharisees, Pilate and Herod) but one of serious contemplation over this matter of God’s priority in redemption.  Jesus knew that the woman had faith to receive the healing of her daughter: she called Him “son of David,” (she understood something of the Davidic promise) and showed all the other indications of faith as previously shown in others (Jews) who had been healed.  Yet here he wanted to point out the order of salvation: first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles.  The woman — her name according to tradition was Justa, and her daughter Bernice — accepted this.

The parallel account in Mark includes an extra statement, before the line It is not right to take the children’s bread and  throw it to the dogs: “let the children be fed first.”  The woman seized on this “crumb” of truth, recognizing the idea of a “doggie” under the table, which is the type of dog described here (not the wild, wolf-type pack dogs).  We know the rest of the story, that Jesus proclaimed “great is your faith!” and answered her petition.  This woman’s “crumb” turned out to be pretty important after all: the healing of her demon-possessed daughter.

J. C. Ryle: So That We May Not Offend Them

April 9, 2011 Comments off

From J.C. Ryle’s “Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Matthew,” Matthew 17:24-27

There is deep wisdom in those seven words, “so that we may not offend them.” They teach us plainly, that there are matters in which Christ’s people ought to forego their own opinions, and submit to requirements which they may not thoroughly approve, rather than give offence and “hinder the Gospel of Christ.” God’s rights undoubtedly we ought never to give up; but we may sometimes safely give up our own. It may sound very fine and seem very heroic to be always standing out tenaciously for our rights. But it may well be doubted, with such a passage as this, whether such tenacity is always wise, and shows the mind of Christ. There are occasions, when it shows more grace in a Christian to submit than to resist.

Let us remember this passage as CITIZENS. We may not like all the political measures of our rulers. We may disapprove of some of the taxes they impose. But the grand question after all is–Will it do any good to the cause of religion to resist the powers that be? Are their measures really injuring our souls? If not, let us hold our peace, “so that we may not offend them.” “A Christian,” says Bullinger, “never ought to disturb the public peace for things of mere temporary importance.”

Let us remember this passage as members of a CHURCH. We may not like every jot and tittle of the forms and ceremonies used in our communion. We may not think that those who rule us in spiritual matters are always wise. But after all–Are the points on which we are dissatisfied really of vital importance? Is any great truth of the Gospel at stake? If not, let us be quiet, “so that we may not offend them.”

Let us remember this passage as members of SOCIETY. There may be usages and customs in the circle where our lot is cast, which to us, as Christians, are tiresome, useless, and unprofitable. But are they matters of principle? Do they injure our souls? Will it do any good to the cause of religion, if we refuse to comply with them? If not, let us patiently submit, “lest we cause them to stumble.”

Teachings in the Parables

April 7, 2011 Comments off

I recently listened to sermons going through Matthew 13 (S. Lewis Johnson series), the parables section of Matthew.

Since parables are not as clear in their meaning, and often lend themselves to numerous interpretations, again I consider the importance of hermeneutics, including the caution against developing doctrines based solely on parables.  Here also I rejoice in this truth expressed by Spurgeon:

IT is remarkable that when we find an exhortation given to God’s people in one part of Holy Scripture, we almost invariably find the very thing which they are exhorted to do guaranteed to them and provided for them in some other part of the same blessed volume!

Previously I blogged on the many different views concerning the parable of the leaven in the dough (Matthew 13:33).  Though each of the different views may or may not be found in this parable, certainly their truths are confirmed elsewhere.

Another text I think of (though not a parable) is Luke 21:1-4, one that John MacArthur in particular takes a very unique view of.  While most commentators see the principle of giving expressed here, and that the poor widow is doing a very great thing by giving all she has, MacArthur takes this text as a sad commentary on the prosperity gospel and the exploitation of the poor by false religion.  Since I cannot find any other Bible teachers holding to such an interpretation, I tend to disregard it — but again, we can find other scriptural exhortations concerning false teachers and false worship.  I think of passages in Hosea that speak of the Baal-worship prosperity, or when Jesus cleared the temple and denounced those who had turned His Father’s house into a marketplace, as well as warnings against false teachers in Jude and in John’s epistles.

Throughout this section, SLJ’s teaching sessions include mention of several different interpretations, and the reasons why certain views don’t exactly match — the parable concerning the leaven in the dough is one, and of course other expositors give just as clear reasons for why their view is to be preferred.  Another parable, verse 44 (the parable of hidden treasure in a field), is held by some to mean that the treasure is the Church, or the treasure is Israel, or even that the man seeking the treasure is Christ.  But the most common and preferred view is that the man is a believer coming to faith in Christ and seeing the great treasure of the kingdom of God.