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Matthew 13:51-52 meaning

Matthew concludes Jesus’s teachings on parables with a question from Jesus to His disciples and an exciting riddle about what understanding the scriptures and seeking the kingdom is like.

Matthew 13:51-52 is unparalleled in the other gospel accounts.

After teaching these seven parables and explaining some of them to His disciples, Jesus asked them, have you understood all these things? (v 52). He was asking them if they perceived the meaning of these parables and what these parables revealed about the nature of their lives and choices as they pertained to the kingdom. The disciples affirmed that they did understand these things.

Because they understood them, Jesus then told His disciples Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old (v 52). To understand this enigmatic statement we must consider its terms.

A scribe is someone who understands the meaning and messages of written words, specifically the scriptures. Scribes possesses a deep and wide understanding of the scriptures, their meaning, and message.

A disciple is a learner, follower, or student.

A head of household is the person who has the most authority in the house or family. He is responsible for everything in the house, and everything in the house ultimately belongs to the head of household.

His treasure is what belongs to the head of household. It is the head of household's treasure (v 52).

And the kingdom of heaven is Jesus's kingdom and the opportunity we have to participate in it if we understand the offer and are faithful to accept it.

Jesus says that every scribe (everyone who understands the scriptures well) who becomes a disciple who diligently seeks the kingdom of heaven is like a head of household (v 52), one who has authority over his treasure. A scribe's treasure is his knowledge and understanding of the scriptures. Out of his wealth of scriptural knowledge this kingdom-seeking scribe will bring forth treasures that are both new things and old. In other words, his understanding will beautifully affirm timeless truths that he and others have long understood. And his kingdom-oriented insight will uncover new understandings of scripture that have always been present but could only be seen in light of the kingdom. These truths were always there but they were and are largely invisible or unappreciated by those who do not understand the kingdom.

It is the scribe who seeks the kingdom of heaven who "has eyes to see" and "ears to hear" what the scriptures have to more fully reveal and say.

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