← Back

What is the meaning of the Parable of the Sower?


Matthew 13:3 - 9

ESV - 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.

Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.

Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
The Parable of the Sower (also known as the Parable of the Four Soils) is found in Matthew 13:3-9; Mark 4:2-9; and Luke 8:4-8. After presenting this parable to the multitude, Jesus interprets it fo...

July 01 2013 7 responses Vote Up Share Report

Img 3185 %282%29 Meluleki Maphosa Amateur Bible Student
In my view there is a more profound lesson to be learned in this parable than the usual story about what kind of seed we are – about the Sower Himself. If there is one thing that keeps recurring as I read the Bible is that God is misunderstood a great deal. The nation of Israel didn’t understand Him until they crucified their Messiah – the One they had been waiting for, for centuries. We too may run the same risk. 

The starting point is from the little phrase “a Sower went out to sow”. No doubt the Sower is Jesus/ God who had to leave the security of the heavenly city. He chose not remain in the comfort and security of heaven but risked it all to “sow” the seed of saving humanity from sin. What kind of Farmer would risk it all like this? It must be a Farmer whose whole character is love and self-sacrificial love. Thus we learn from these few words something key about the God we worship. He gave up all so that He could “sow” this seed outside the city. This is even more crucial when we realise that cities in the ancient world were protected by a city walls and guarded gates. What were they guarding against? I am sure the listeners to this parable had a glimpse of the God that Jesus wanted to portray. A God who would stop at nothing to “sow” the seed. 

This message was also prophetic I think. It sought to draw the attention of the listeners to the future when they will be forced to leave the relative comfort and safety of Jerusalem to emulate the Farmer and sow the seed. We see not so long after Pentecost the disciples being forced to leave Jerusalem and spread out because in order for the seed to be sown, they needed to go out. Going out had its risks. Paul and virtually all the disciples are good examples of going out to sow. They all died violent deaths at the hands of those they sought to sow the seed on. John the Revelator was the last living disciple but he too was tortured and exiled to Patmos. Sowing the seed invariably attracted the interest of the enemy and the enemy was ruthless. 

The brutality of the enemy is seen more keenly on what they did to Jesus on the cross. Once He had been arrested and “tried”, He was subjected to gruesome torture that cannot be explained in words. At the hands of the people driven by the enemy Jesus did not once respond in anger, but simply said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. Here the true character of God is again revealed. The Jews wanted a God who would punish the Romans for what they did to Israel, but God sent a Messiah born as a helpless child to show love and compassion. To an observant mind it would have been striking that they had such a God. Subjected to the most horrific torture ever meted out on a person, yet did not utter a curse even though his torturers deserved it. He had the power to annihilate them yet He did not, but loved them still. 

This parable would have made better logic if the Farmer had also done due diligence and sowed His seed only on the fertile soil to maximize yield. But not this Farmer. No ordinary farmer does this. This one actually spread His seed everywhere even to those that soil that He knew wouldn’t germinate anything – I mean the undeserving and the unfit. What kind of farmer is this? The Gospels have a word for it – the prodigal one. He is wasteful. The word must be spread regardless of our personal prejudice and opinions about the soil. We see Jesus associating with tax collectors, sinners and outcasts. Those that normal church programs would not even consider. But why? I think it lies in the character of God. Everyone deserves salvation. God is a Prodigal Father - what He does appears wasteful to us but it done out of infinite love. It is our duty to emulate this Prodigal Father. Our sacred responsibility is to spread the seed regardless where it falls, even if we think its a waste. Its human to pass judgement. Mat 28:19-20.

March 19 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini James Kraft 74 year old retired pipeline worker
The parable of the sower is this: That the seed is the word of God. The first one the devil snatched away the truth before the person could believe it. The second and third received the word and were saved. They believed the gospel, First Corinthians 15:1-4 That Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, that He was buried and rose again on the third day, according to the scriptures.

But for the reasons given they never produced any fruit. They are those that are saved, but so as by fire. Their works will be burned up but they will be saved. They will have no rewards in heaven.

The fourth are those who believe and produce good fruit of the gospel to others. They spread the good news of the gospel of all grace, Romans 11:6 to others to be saved.

We are not saved by works, but unto good works that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 No one ever got saved by works, but only by grace. What Jesus did for us without works. Ephesians 2:8-9.

Once we believe the gospel we are given eternal life. Whether we produce any fruit or not. Salvation is a free gift of God without works. Romans 4:5. We are justified by faith alone in Christ alone.

Matthew 7:15-23 is not talking about the fruit of believers, but the fruit of false teachers who come to us in sheep's clothing and preach a false gospel of works salvation. That we can save our selves by how we live and what we do. They will be cast into the fire to be burned.

Galatians 1:7-9 They preach salvation by works instead of all grace and will be accursed. Romans 11:6. Salvation is what Jesus did for us without works. 

Jesus said, many will come before Him on that day and tell Him about all their wonderful works. But Jesus tells them, depart from me I never knew you. They did not do the will of the Father. John 6:40 They thought they could earn heaven by works, and not grace.

The reason any of us are saved is because of what Jesus has already done. Salvation is done, not do. When we believe the gospel, First Corinthians 15:1-4 we are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30. 

That is how the Lord knows us. We have His Holy Spirit in us and can never be lost. Second Timothy 2:19. Those that are trusting in their works, have never trusted Jesus as the only way to be saved, and He does not know them because they do not have His Spirit in them.

So the first one never received the free gift of salvation. The second and third received the gift of salvation but never produced any fruit, the forth one was saved and produced fruit for rewards in heaven.

Under the old covenant before Christ finished work on the cross, it was by faith plus law works. When people sinned they had to have an animal blood sacrifice for their sin. Under the new covenant it is all grace. What Jesus did for us. Romans 11:6 It is to everyone that believeth. Romans 1:16.

John 3:16, John 6:47, John 6:40, John 5:24, Salvation is by faith alone. Works are for rewards in heaven for the believer. Never for salvation.

February 05 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
The common sight of one sowing the seed in a field is the basis for Jesus’ parable of the sower, Matthew 13:3-9. It is most helpful that Jesus further explained the parable in Matthew 13:18-23. The seed is the message of God’s kingdom, the “good news of the kingdom,” Matthew 24:14, Mark 1:15, Luke 16:16. It is the announcement of the kingdom at hand and the arrival of the king. Would the people accept this in their hearts?

The different soils represent the different conditions of the hearts. Many debate which ones represent those who believed. Some say the second and third do not end up being saved. However, that is not the case. 

The first part of the parable sees the seed falling on the pathways probably along the fields. The hardened walkways keep the seed from falling into the earth. Birds fly in and devour the seeds. The birds are interpreted as the wicked one, the devil, who snatches it away, Luke 8:12. It was this verse that caused John Bunyan to believe in Jesus. He reportedly said to himself, “Even the devil knows that if a man believes the word, he'll be saved!” This dirt path represents one that is not saved.

In the second part of the parable, the seed falling on stony ground represents one who hears the word and receives it with joy. But this person stumbles when persecution or temptations arise. This one is not rooted deep enough to survive. Some would think that this one was “never saved” or “lost salvation.” But on the basis of John 3:16, 5:24, 6:47, 11:26, this one is definitely saved, but does not produce any grain. 

In the third part of the soil parable, the seed falling among thorns also signifies one receiving the word. This one seems to thrive better, but the cares, riches, and desires for other things choke out the growth by the word and does not mature, Luke 8:14. It is not that this one lost salvation but lost the opportunity to be fruitful.

The fourth soil receives the seed and bears crops. Those of this soil fulfill the purpose they were designed and destined to do, and some much more than others. 

Only the last three soils receive the seed which represent those believing the word and thus are saved. The second and third, however, differ from the fourth in that they do not produce crops. They show two main forces that stifle harvest. One is troubles or persecutions that cause stumbling, the other is cares and distractions that crowd out living for the Lord. But the fourth soil does get to that stage and goes on to finish well.

In summary these are the four soils:
Pathway soil – trampled hard ground, as closed mind shrugs off the truth, hard-hearted
Rocky soil – believing, but not growing in the word, shallow-hearted
Thorny soil – believing, but the word is crowded out, halfhearted
Good soil – believing and being productive, nurtured by the word, whole-hearted

May 31 2022 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Add your Answer

All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.

What makes a good answer? ▼

A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.

  1. Adhere to the eBible Statement of Faith.
  2. Your answer should be complete and stand-alone.
  3. Include supporting arguments, and scripture references if possible. Seek to answer the "why".
  4. Adhere to a proper tone and spirit of love and understanding.
  5. For more info see The Complete Guide to eBible
  1. 4000 characters remaining