Many Bible prophecy teachers overlook the Parable of the Wheat and Tares. However, we should not overlook this parable. It has crucial details about the onset of the end of the age and the coming of Christ.
Everyone who studies Bible prophecy must account for this parable. Your understanding of the end times will be incomplete if you cannot account for it.
In this article, I will provide you insight about the parable.
Christ Teaches in Parables
Matthew 13 records Christ sharing several parables with a large crowd that included His disciples. A parable is a story that contains a spiritual teaching or truth.
Why Christ Spoke in Parables
Christ was asked why He spoke in parables rather than give His audience direct teachings. Christ indicated that His teachings are meant to only be understood by certain people:
(10) And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? (11) He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. (12) For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. (13) Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. (Matthew 13:10-13)
Those who seek to understand truth in Christ’s words will see His parables as lessons. Those who do not seek to understand truth in Christ’s words will see His parables as just stories.
The Parable of the Wheat and Tares Overview
Matthew 13:24-30 provides an overview of the parable. Christ describes a field where wheat has been planted. However, tares (a weed that resembles wheat when it is young) was also planted overnight by an enemy. This created a problem for the householder:
“(24) Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: (25) But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. (26) But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. (27) So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? (28) He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?” (Matthew 13:24-38)
The servants of the field ask the householder if they should remove the tares from the field. The householder tells the servants to not remove the tares because there is a risk that the wheat could get removed:
“(29) But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. (30) Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:29-30)
Christ said that the wheat and the tares will remain together until the time of harvest. The wheat will not be taken away from the field, nor will the tares be removed from the field before the harvest.
A Common View of the Parable
Many who talk about this parable focus on the Church. A common view of this parable is:
- The field represents the Church.
- There are real Christians and fake Christians in the world.
- It is hard to tell the difference between real Christians and fake Christians.
- Christ will one day separate the fake Christians from the real Christians.
Unfortunately, many ignore the end time significance of this parable. We will look at that next.
The Parable Explained
Christ’s disciples asked Him to explain the parable’s meaning to them. He complied and explained the parable to them:
“(37) He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; (38) The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; (39) The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. (40) As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. (41) The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; (42) And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (43) Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:37-43)
We learn from this explanation:
- The field does not represent the Church. It represents the entire world (verse 38).
- The wheat represents the righteous (verse 38).
- The tares represent the wicked (verse 38).
- Angels will play a big part in the harvest when the wheat and tares are dealt with. (verse 39, 41-42)
- The harvest will take place at the end of the world/end of the age (verse 39).
- The harvest will come when Christ’s kingdom will be in place on the earth (verse 41).
- The wicked will be taken to their destruction (verse 40-42)
- The righteous will survive to enjoy the kingdom of God and Christ (verse 43)
The End Time Significance of the Parable of the Wheat and Tares
Recall that Christ said that the wheat (the righteous) and the tares (the wicked) will remain together UNTIL the time of harvest:
“Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:30)
This key statement means that the wheat (the righteous) will not be removed from the earth before the time of harvest. The wheat must remain on the earth until the time comes to begin the harvest.
The harvest of the earth will take place at the end of the age (or end of the world). This means that the Rapture, the gathering of the righteous, cannot take place before the end of the age arrives (Matthew 13:39). At the time of harvest, Christ will send His angels to gather the wicked and the righteous (Matthew 13:30).
The parable indicates this event will take place after the tribulation. Matthew 13:41 mentions that Christ will gather people out of His kingdom. The reference to “His kingdom” is significant because it means that the harvest will take place when Christ’s kingdom is set up on the earth. The kingdom of God and Christ will arise at the sounding of the seventh trumpet:
“(15) And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (16) And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, (17) Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. (18) And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” (Revelation 11:15-18)
The sounding of the seventh trumpet will coincide with the end of the tribulation as Antichrist’s 3.5 year or 42-month reign on the earth will end (Revelation 13:5-7, Daniel 7:25-27):
“(5) And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. (6) And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. (7) And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Revelation 13:5-7)
“(25) And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (26) But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. (27) And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Daniel 7:25-27)
Therefore, the gathering of the righteous, the Rapture, will not take place until after the tribulation. This finding fits well with Matthew 24:29-31. The passage speaks of angels gathering of Christ’s elect after the tribulation:
“(29) Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (30) And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (31) And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:29-31)
The Parable of the Wheat and Tares undermines the Pre-Trib Rapture theory. The parable tells us when the gathering of the righteous will take place, and it will not take place until the end of the age arrives. This event will take place after the tribulation. Not before the tribulation.
Notice that Matthew 13:30 mentions that the tares, the wicked, will be gathered first:
“Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:30)
What is the significance of this statement? The wicked will be taken first-not the righteous… To find out, I invite you to read my article on Luke 17:37. Like the parable we just looked at, Luke 17:37 is overlooked by many Bible prophecy teachers.
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Wayne, your article does not account for the fact that Pretribulationalists do account for the parable of the wheat and tares in the many prophecies (some of which you stated) that refer to the gathering of the wicked (for judgment) and the gathering of the Tribulation saints and Jewish remnant (to enter the blessing of the Millennial Kingdom). This absolutely is part of prophecy. However, it also has no connection to the Church, whose gathering takes place prior to the Day of the Lord (which I disagree with your definition of). The point though is that your article does nothing to refute the standpoint of Pretrib believers who already acknowledge these end-of-the-Tribulation regatherings – but dont equate them with the regathering of the church.
To have the Church removed from the earth before the tribulation violates Christ’s statement that the wicked and the righteous REMAIN together until the end of the age. It also violates Christ’s command that the wicked will be gathered first. Christ seems to me to be clear about this.
I was just going to point that out. Fake Christians, aka Roman Catholics, fake Jews, aka Zionists and fake Muslims, aka Wahabists are a detriment to Gods Children, SPIRITUAL Israel, but the threat to the Wheat ARE the evils ones amongst us. IMO this is what our Lord was referring to, the evil seeds of satan among us. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. The unjust will be bound then burned at His arrival. Blessings.
Personally I believe in a pre-trib rapture based on the story of the Bible as a whole and many specific verses that hold valid truth for it – Matthew 24: 36 – 44. If no one knows the day or the hour how could it happen at the end of the tribulation? Everyone would know the exact day according to the 7 year timeline given in Daniel and Revelation. People also would not be referenced as “they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day”. We would all be fighting for our lives and likely losing them as Christians. In my opinion the rapture and second coming are two different events detailed in scripture. However, I think it’s a fools game to say I understand better than another. I will never say a post-trib rapture is false cause only God knows for sure. I would encourage you to take a more loving stance in your future articles saying it’s your opinion rather than stating it as fact. God bless though, either way we will be with Jesus and that will be amazing! 🙂
Pre-Trib doesn’t stand up against Job 14:12. Job tells us that the resurrection of the dead will not occur until the heavens are no more. The reference to the heavens are no more alludes to what will take place after the opening of the 6th seal just before the onset of the Day of the Lord. Recall that Paul told us in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 that the dead will rise first before the living righteous are transformed at the Rapture. This is an event that will take place after the tribulation (Matthew 24:29-31).
My opinions are not based on what I want to be true. I would rather Pre-Trib to be true. My opinions are formed by the many pieces of the Scripture puzzle I’ve put together in the course of many years of study. Many wish Pre-Trib to be true. Many cling to this false teaching and ignore the overwhelming evidence that exists against it. There’s no way I could say that Pre-Trib is true when Christ tells us that the righteous and the wicked remain together until the end of the age.
Wayne, if you are connecting the resurrection of believers with the resurrection to be experienced after the heavens are dissolved, then you are not soundly interpreting Scripture. The Bible teaches that the resurrection you are referring to occurs at the end of the Millennial Kingdom when the new heavens/earth are established. This is the Second Resurrection, or Second Death, which is a resurrection of the wicked to eternal damnation. You have incorrectly equated this with the First Resurrection to be experienced by believers (which does not occur at one time). Jesus’ resurrection initiated the phase called the First Resurrection, as we’re told He was the first fruits of this resurrection. In addition, he brought with Him a number of Old Testament saints who were seen in Jerusalem. Also to experience the First Resurrection are church saint, then the Two Witnesses, then Old Testament saints, and then Tribulation martyrs, each in their order, but all being part of the First Resurrection, which Scripture tells us is a resurrection unto life. Now if you plan to be part of the First Resurrection, then connecting it with Second Resurrection/Death phenomena (such as the heavens dissolving, etc) is improper interpretation.
I once thought that the new heavens and the new earth came after the Millennium, but after further examination I found that the new heavens and the new earth are established at the onset of the Millennium. It’s a change/renovation after the present heavens and the earth are wrecked by the end of the tribulation. There’s a good reason why Isaiah 65 and 66 mention the new heavens and the new earth when he describes Millennium conditions.
Job 14:12-14 points to the resurrection of the righteous. Job speaks of himself in that passage.
(12) So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. (13) O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! (14) If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
Considering the current Russian invasion of Ukraine…and Ukraine being known as the “Bread-Basket” of the world (by producing 1/3 of the world’s wheat).. How do you reconcile today’s current events with your previous interpretation of the Famine Cost prophecy
The invasion has caused wheat prices to rise substantially vis-a-vis silver. But at the moment of this writing, wheat prices would need to rise 400% to 600% more given a constant silver price to reach third seal famine levels. This means that things would have to get a whole lot worse for us to be close to experiencing third seal famine conditions.
Hi Wayne, I am hoping you could give me your insight on an issue I’ve been examining. I believe Jesus returns after the tribulation like he says. I believe the rapture and the second coming happen at the same time.
Here is what I am not sure about:
When, in scripture, do you see the timing of the rapture in relation to the last trumpet (which I believe is the 7th trumpet of revelation)?
The day of the Lord seems to last quite awhile. Several months to a year perhaps. When does the rapture happen during this time? At the beginning when the trumpet sounds, sometime in the middle of this time period, or at the very end after the 7th bowl? Right after the 7th trumpet sounds, revelation mentions the harvest of the reaping. Then it mentions martyred saints standing on the sea of glass singing and playing harps….then the bowls begin. However, just before the 7th bowl is poured, Jesus says Behold I come like a thief and blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.
Can you help put these pieces together?
The Rapture occurs at the onset of the Day of the Lord. It happens after the opening of the 6th seal (and 7th seal), sounding of the 7th trumpet, and around the pouring of the 7th bowl.
Be careful with Revelation. Revelation’s chronology flows back and forth in time (like with other Bible prophecy books of the Bible). It doesn’t progress chronologically at all times like we’re used to when we read a novel. Revelation 15 goes backwards in time after depicting the end time harvest of the earth at the end of Revelation 14. The purpose of going backwards is to spotlight the bowl judgments that Revelation 11 hints at when it describes the effects of the 7th trumpet (the hailstones). Again, Revelation’s chronology flows back and forth. We see the same thing in Daniel. Daniel 2 focuses on the end times and doesn’t address it again until Daniel 7. In between Daniel focuses on events that occur back at that time period.
The Day of the Lord’s length is best defined by its events rather than by a passage of a fix amount of time. There are passages which focus on the judgment part of the Day of the Lord, but there’s others that talk about the Millennium. I believe the Day of the Lord lasts from the start of God’s orge wrath until the end of the Millennium. Remember, a day to the Lord is a different amount of time than what we’re accustomed to.
Thank you for responding. I want to make sure I understand. Do you see the trumpets and bowls as overlapping or sequential? If overlapping how do you explain the bowls not beginning until the 7th trumpet? Also what did you mean when you said the rapture happens at the onset of the 6th and 7th trumpet but at the end of the 7th bowl?
I am truly not arguing. Really want to understand though so I am prepared. Thank you again
They overlap to a certain degree. As I said, be careful with the chronology of Revelation. Most assume that the bowls begin after the 7th trumpet because the bowls appear in Revelation 15 and Revelation 16 while the 7th trumpet is in Revelation 11. I actually view the bowls beginning between the 6th and 7th trumpet. I viewed the seals, trumpets, and bowls progressing in sequential order for the longest of time. But, it was my study of the different Greek words for God’s wrath that caused me to question the whole idea.
The sixth seal indicates that the orge wrath of God (the wrath believers are actually spared from) is about to begin. The seventh trumpet mentions that the orge wrath of God is about to begin. The orge wrath of God isn’t mention in the bowls until the 7th bowl. Each of these orge wrath events are occurring at the same time, which means that there must be a degree of overlap taking place:
Just a quick question…
What do you think Jesus was referring to when He said to pray that we will be counted worthy to escape the things that are coming upon the earth. What “things”?
I think Jesus was referring to the “days of vengeance” relating to the great tribulation. The Greek word for “escape” signifies “to seek safety in flight”. Jesus said to flee because of the persecution that will come.
Thank you Wayne for preaching what the word actually says and not what the traditions of men say. I’m always blessed by your teachings.
Thanks for reading Linda 🙂
I got your 2 books recently and have been enjoying them. I appreciate your graceful approach to Bible prophecy and your willingness to be open. I myself have always been a pre-trib believer simply from the standpoint of the awesome love of our Father not leaving true new covenant believers here to endure all of that mess but I am open to Post or even a remnant or group of believers remaining as well. Maybe in that case Pre and/or Post could be possible under those circumstances? I don’t believe much of an argument exists for Mid seeing that if we knew the exact start date of the tribulation then we would know the mid point and thus the “day”. Keep up the good work and your dedication to the Truth, despite the naysayers (and there are many I am sure this day and age). Regardless of what the world or culture this day believes there is such a thing as Absolute Truth. I appreciate your literal approach and willingness to be open to different views on prophecy. If only the many previous bible “scholars” and “prophecy experts” were open like this we may not have such a huge divide in opinions. Pride is a nasty beast and just simply being willing as a mortal, fallible, peanut brained human to possibly being wrong or missing a key piece of the “jigsaw puzzle” speaks volumes. Appreciate you brother and believing for and with you!
Thanks for the kind words J.P! I appreciate them, especially with you coming from a different perspective as me.
God’s love is endless. He proved that by sending His only begotten Son to die for our sins. It’s comforting to think that His endless love could spare us from the horrors of the tribulation. However, I do not see why I deserve better treatment than Christ’s own apostles and disciples. For instance, I am not better than the Apostle Paul. I fall well short of his standard. Yet, he was martyred for his beliefs. Many other disciples and early Christians were martyred too. If they must endure persecution that takes their life, then I deserve to endure such things as well if/when such persecution comes in my lifetime.
Excellent reply, Mr. Crowley. I also appreciate your explanation of the parable. Of all the biblical subjects discussed amongst Christians it seems that the rapture is one of the topics that folks are staunchly set as either pre-trip or post-trib. I do not have a formal education in biblical studies, and I follow a few fundamentalist teachers who I highly appreciate who subscribe to the pre-trib belief. However, I feel similar to your viewpoint on this. I just don’t see how we should expect to be whisked away from the end-times. And it truly does not make sense that many millions of humans will just ‘vaporize’ from wherever they are thereby causing mass chaos through car wrecks, plane crashes etc.
I heard a preacher talk about planes falling out of skies and similar things like that this past Sunday at my church. I just shook my head thinking about this.
Pardon my misspelling your last name below. I attempted to correct it but there is not a way to edit submitted comments.
No problem. My last name gets misspelled often. My family used to spell it with a W in it, but they dropped it for some reason.
Hello. I have read this passage a million times but previous overlooked it’s meaning. Most of us overlook the clear meaning of the text because we have been in churches that taught otherwise. They teach erroneously the idea that God will rescue us from tribulations and persecutions. Why? Clearly the apostles taught that we would suffer for Christ sake. Are we not to rejoice in it? Count it all joy right? Paul was rescued at times but also was persecuted as well. Every believer I know believes in a rapture. I pray that when the man of perdition comes that they will not leave the faith because they were ‘left behind’. Thanks for the article!!!
I’m glad you are able to understand the Parable of the Wheat and Tares in its most natural sense. Thanks for reading!