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The Parables of Jesus

Definition of "Parable"

Parables are word pictures drawn from day-to-day experience and reflect an underlying spiritual reality.

Principles of Parables

There is one single point being made in a parable. Determining that one point is the goal of the parable. There are subpoints that can be related to that point.

Purposes of Parables

Parables were given to express spiritual truths in simple day-to-day experiences. This was done so that people with little to no spiritual discernment could relate to heavenly things and by relating begin to make a connection with God. For those who had nothing, even the simple parables could not be understood.

Audience of Parables

The audience of the parables was the masses. The disciples got the interpretation of the parables when they were with Jesus. By "disciples" it should not be understood to be limited to the 12 core apostles.

Why Speak in Parables?

God the Son, Jesus Christ had an off-the-chart IQ. How could God relate eternal spiritual realities to finite man? By communicating with common images. This is not a condescending way of dealing with man in the negative sense of the word.

Subject Matter of Parables

The subject matter of parables are drawn from five principle areas. These are:

Timelessness of Parables

The parables of Jesus stand the test of time. Even in our industrial culture we can relate to the subject matter of the parables. Planting crops, trouble with children, borrowing money, etc. These are all still common things.

Post-Modernism of Parables

Parables are story-telling. This is a key point of post-modern expression.

Expositional Constancy of Parables

The question arises: If one parable interprets "seed" as "word" do all parables? How about "birds"? In one parable, "birds" relates to "Satan". Does "birds" always mean "Satan" in all parables? It's a form of simplistic thinking that would suggest that they always mean exactly the same thing. It focuses on the details of the parable rather than the purpose and point of the parable.

Limitations of Parables

Predestination and Free-Will in the Parables

An underlying principle of the parables is that they include the abiity of the person to receive their teachings and value. That's why Jesus uses phrases like "for him who has ears to hear". The Predestinarian says that God made the people with ears that could not hear.

Interpretations of Parables

Several of the parables Jesus directly interpreted. With these parables there's very little room for interpretation left. The parables all reflect a concrete reality of a spirtual situation or condition.


Copyright 2002 - Douglas Gilliland