- the wedding feast
- the rich man and Lazarus
- the ten virgins
- the lost son
- sheep and goats
- workers in the vineyard
- the good Samaritan
- the sower of seed
"And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: (2) The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, (3) and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. (4) Again, he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.' (5) But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. (6) And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. (7) But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. (8) Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. (9) Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' (10) So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. (11) But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. (12) So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. (13) Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'" (NKJV)
Interpretation: the feast to which the king invites is that of the Word of God. Its participants are invited by servants - evangelists and teachers. Everyone who receives the message of the Gospel is invited. Some of those invited (called) come to the feast through repentance and conversion to God through Jesus Christ. However, only the elect can use the food served to the guests - those who through God's predestination and on condition of repentance receive the spirit of consecration to the truth, which introduces the elect to the knowledge of God's matters directly through the study of the Scriptures. At the same time, the spirit of truth is for the elect the source of the birth of a new character (the new inner man), thanks to which those invited to the feast cover themselves with the garment of just deeds. The man without a robe does not take part in the feast, and likewise believers who have not received the spirit of the new birth do not feed on the Word directly through the instruction of the Scriptures, but through prophets and teachers.
"There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. (20) But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, (21) desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. (22) So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. (23) And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (24) Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' (25) But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. (26) And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.' (27) Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, (28) for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.' (29) Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' (30) And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' (31) But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'" (NKJV)
Interpretation: the parable of the rich man and Lazarus shows the change of position in relation to God's grace of Jews and Gentiles; the change brought about by the ministry of Jesus Christ. The rich man and his five brothers represent the Jews with their richly set table of the teachings of God's Word. Lazarus represents Gentiles who, at best, could count on a crumb of the grace that Israel was receiving. The rejection of Jesus by the chosen people resulted in the symbolic death of the rich man, who hit the hell of experiences combined with centuries of hatred of nations to which the Jews were scattered after the fall of their state and the destruction of the temple. On the other hand, the pagans who accepted Jesus were transferred to Abraham's bosom - they became recipients of the favors promised in the Covenant to the descendants of Abraham through the begettal of the spirit (symbol of the womb). The rich man would like to moisten the tongue with even a drop of the teachings of God's Word assuring that he has not lost God's grace irretrievably. His brothers, however, do not accept the teachings of the dead (believers in Christ), and therefore they are left to obey Moses and the prophets.
"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. (2) Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. (3) Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, (4) but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. (5) But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. (6) And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!' (7) Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. (8) And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' (9) But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' (10) And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. (11) "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' (12) But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.' (13) Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." (NKJV)
Interpretation: the night in the parable represents the delay of the Bridegroom, which began in 1918 after the disappointment of waiting for the Lord's coming in 1914. The morning will come in 2036 with the revelation of Jesus Christ, first in the apocalypse that will destroy the present world order, and then in the epiphany by sending the spirit upon all flesh. Midnight falls in 1977 when the last winner of the Gospel Age calling entered the class of kings with the Lord Jesus. The virgins who then lacked the oil of spirit were not ready to meet the Bridegroom's call and thus lost the highest prize to which they aspired.
Parable of minas (Lk. 19:11-27)
"Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. (12) Therefore He said: A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. (13) So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business till I come.' (14) But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We will not have this man to reign over us.' (15) And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. (16) Then came the first, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned ten minas.' (17) And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.' (18) And the second came, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned five minas.' (19) Likewise he said to him, 'You also be over five cities.' (20) Then another came, saying, 'Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. (21) For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.' (22) And he said to him, 'Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. (23) Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?' (24) And he said to those who stood by, 'Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.' (25) (But they said to him, 'Master, he has ten minas.') (26) 'For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. (27) But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.'" (NKJV)
Interpretation: the parable of minas illustrates the situation of the spirit-begotten believers to whom the Lord entrusted during his absence the property in the form of the spirit of the love of truth, which the elect receive in equal measure (one mina each). The reward of the faithful servants will be resurrection to the Divine nature and participation in the government of the Kingdom of Christ (power in the cities). The evil servant wraps his mina in a scarf; he is idle in developing his mind and character in the knowledge of the truth, and thus he will not obtain for himself the garment of justice necessary to obtain his reward. The Lord, therefore, takes his mina (which is the pledge of future glory) and hands it over to the servant who has worked out the most, thus illustrating the principle according to which the spiritual development of the called ones takes place: to the one who has, more will be given. This means that our ability to understand Bible teaching increases as we understand more and more advanced things. The more I understand, the more potential I have to understand more. The death of the king's enemies who rejected his reign is not an eternal (secondary) death, but mortal death has struck many in Israel when the nation was handed over to the Roman army in AD 70 and will affect many at the end of this century.
Parable of talents (Mt. 25:14-30)
"For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. (15) And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. (16) Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. (17) And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. (18) But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. (19) After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. (20) So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' (21) His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' (22) He also who had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.' (23) His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' (24) Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. (25) And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.' (26) But his lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. (27) So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. (28) So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. (29) For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. (30) And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'" (NKJV)
Interpretation: the parable of talents illustrates the situation of the spirit-begotten believers to whom the Lord entrusted his property during his absence. In this context, talents represent individual abilities and aptitudes that believers use in the work of evangelisation and teaching. The reward of faithful servants will be to 'enter into the joy of their Lord' in the glory of the divine nature. The evil servant buries his deposit by completely abandoning the service of the Gospel, and therefore he will be thrown into the darkness of the great tribulation with which the present system of things will end (the class of the faithful servant will then be completed in the spiritual nature).
Parable of the lost son (Lk. 15:11-32)
"Then He said: A certain man had two sons. (12) And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood. (13) And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. (14) But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. (15) Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. (16) And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. (17) But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! (18) I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, (19) and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants."' (20) And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. (21) And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' (22) But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. (23) And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; (24) for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry. (25) Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. (26) So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. (27) And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.' (28) But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. (29) So he answered and said to his father, 'Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. (30) But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.' (31) And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. (32) It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'" (NKJV)
Interpretation: the parable of the prodigal son is Jesus' answer to the Pharisees' objection: "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them" (Lk. 15:2). The Scriptures teach that the payment for sin is death. However, the apostle Paul writes that the second (eternal) death can only concern "those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, (5) and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come" and yet have fallen off (Heb. 6:4-6). Those who have not been enlightened are subject to judgement (correction) by, among others, experiencing the effects of sin. The prodigal son represents this very group. A young and inexperienced boy asks his father for his share of the property, and then falls into poverty so extreme that he decides to return to his father and work as one of his servants. The counterpart of this decision of the younger son is repentance by which, overwhelmed by the effects of sin, we turn to God to lead us on a straight path. As long as there is the capacity to repent, there is also the capacity to repair, and this, Jesus says in his parable, cannot be lost. Therefore, the father welcomes the prodigal son with great joy and allows him to have a fresh start. As long as a person has a chance to turn away from sin, it is necessary to rejoice in it and help him in it. This is not understood by the older son and the scribes he represents, who are (wrongly) willing to write off before God all who are lost, with no chance of improvement.
Parable of sheep and goats (Mt. 25:31-46)
"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. (32) All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. (33) And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. (34) Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (35) for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; (36) I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' (37) Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? (38) When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? (39) Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' (40) And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' (41) Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: (42) for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; (43) I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' (44) Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' (45) Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' (46) And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (NKJV)
Interpretation: the parable of sheep and goats describes the judgment of the non-elect that will take place after Christ's return on the basis of the works committed in this life. The sheep are the non-elect believers who have developed an appropriate level of spiritual virtue and have supported the Church in her ministry. Their reward will be eternal life, that is, on the thousand-year judgment day that the Lord's return will initiate, the sheep will not be handed over to the entire process of character reform, for they have done their work in the present time. Goats - on the contrary, and therefore the Lord directs them not to "everlasting punishment", but to "the age-long discipline." As subjects of the thousand-year kingdom, the goats will be fully judged, i.e. they will be taught, tested, disciplined, and only at the end of the whole process of correction also subject to the final judgment.
Parable of workers in the vineyard (Mt. 20:1-16)
"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. (2) Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. (3) And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, (4) and said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. (5) Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. (6) And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day?' (7) They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.' (8) So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, 'Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.' (9) And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. (10) But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. (11) And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, (12) saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.' (13) But he answered one of them and said, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? (14) Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. (15) Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?' (16) So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen." (NKJV)
Interpretation: the parable of workers in the vineyard can be considered on at least two levels. Jesus signals the first one directly in the punch line with the words: "So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen." Now, the achievement by believers of the goal of being called to the glory of the divine nature does not depend on "seniority" in faith or position in the earthly organization. The prerequisite for this is God's election: the elect who repent in the name of Jesus Christ are endowed by God with the spirit of the love of truth, which is an indispensable tool for spiritual development on the level that God expects from the victors of the calling. Therefore, many of the last will be the first, and the first will be the last - it will turn out that the Cardinal, who has been in the priesthood for 70 years, will not receive the position in glory, and a poor widow from the suburbs will take his place. The Cardinal's position does not depend on God's election, but on the systems in the human organization; the attainment of the degree of spiritual development expected of those who are to receive the reward in glory depends on God, who with his spirit guides the progress of the elect.
The other level of interpretation I mentioned earlier concerns ethics. Every action, in order to be described as ethical, must meet certain standards. Among them is real communication with the environment and behavior in accordance with it. The owner of the vineyard demonstrates this attitude: he concludes a contract for a specific amount with the employees he hires first, and pays them this amount at the end of the working day. It does not matter that he concludes a different (and a more favorable) contract with other employees. The important thing is that both parties have made an agreement on a voluntary basis. The conditions are therefore binding on all contract participants. The first hired workers, however, have a grudge against the owner of the vineyard - those who worked less cannot receive the same amount. In this way, they show that development does not really depend on seniority, but on the conduct of the spirit. This is confirmed by the Lord's diagnosis that their 'eye is evil' (verse 15). Since they do not have an understanding of the principles of justice, they have not developed the ability to apply them in practice. They, therefore, remain 'babies' in terms of the key components of spiritual maturity.
Parable of the good Samaritan (Lk. 10:25-37)
"And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' (26) He said to him, 'What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?' (27) So he answered and said, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.' (28) And He said to him, 'You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.' (29) But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' (30) Then Jesus answered and said: 'A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. (31) Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. (32) Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. (33) But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. (34) So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (35) On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you." (36) So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?.' (37) And he said, 'He who showed mercy on him.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Go and do likewise.'" (NKJV)
Interpretation: the love that Jesus teaches in verses 27 and 28 is obligatory goodwill; awareness that in the world of creatures created by God, the well-being of each participant is important. Therefore, the concept of neighbor that Jesus draws up is not limited to a clan, nation or race, but includes all people. At the same time, however, in his parable, the Lord shows that the foundation of our kinship is not genetics, but precisely this sense of unity and interdependence, and therefore also responsibility for the other. Moreover, in a situation such as the one described in the parable of the Good Samaritan, the genetic relatives of the beaten Jew turn out to be, in fact, strangers, because they are completely indifferent to his fate. It is different with the Samaritan: although the Jews and Samaritans shared centuries of hostility, the Samaritan turns out to be the one who takes responsibility for the life of the beaten Jew, and thus also turns out to be his real neighbor.
Parable of the sower of seed (Mt. 13:1-9,18-23)
"On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. (2) And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. (3) Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: 'Behold, a sower went out to sow. (4) And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. (5) Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. (6) But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. (7) And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. (8) But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (9) He who has ears to hear, let him hear!' ... (18) 'Therefore hear the parable of the sower: (19) When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. (20) But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; (21) yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. (22) Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. (23) But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (NKJV)
Interpretation: faith guided by piety (obligatory love for God) is not a privilege of the few, but a common duty independent of God's election. In his parable, however, Jesus indicates various reasons why the word of the Gospel does not bear fruit. It seems that by far the most numerous in nominal Christianity is the representation of those sown along the way: "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it." Failure to understand the teaching is the root cause that prevents a person from following it. While for Jesus the postulate of understanding is fundamental to the development of faith, the churches of Christendom teach doctrines not only contrary to the Bible but also contrary to elementary logic (see the doctrine of the Trinity or transubstantiation). This causes the faith of millions of people to function only as a habit or tradition inherited from parents or grandparents, and not as "reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1). It also causes that even people who at some point in their lives show joy in faith, in the face of persecution (the sun that burns the grain on the rock) or the cares of everyday life (weeds that choke the growth of the grain) fall away from Christ. There remains, therefore, a small group of those whose seed falls on fine soil - who have the right disposition of heart and mind to bear the repeated fruit of the spirit by listening to the Gospel.