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FIGURES OF SPEECH IN THE BIBLE
Victor M. Eskew
A. One of the best known figures of speech in the Bible is the parable.
B. The parables are most commonly linked to Jesus, but there are some parables found in the Old Testament (e.g., Nathan’s Poor Man’s Ewe Lamb, II Sam. 12:1-4).
C. Jesus took the parables and lifted them to a new level.
1. It was prophesied that He would speak in parables (Ps. 78:2).
I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old.
2. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy (Matt. 13:34).
All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables, and without a parable spake he not unto them.
D. Let’s look at the subject of parables again in this lesson
1. We say that we are going to look at them again because we briefly noted them when we studied the subject of similes.
2. We did this because they often use the work “like” when they are introduced.
3. In this lesson, we will give some additional information about the subject of parables.
I. DEFINITION OF PARABLE
A. The Greek word is “parabole.”
1. Strong (3850): a similitude…fictitious narrative (of common life conveying a moral)
a. A placing of one thing by the side of another thing
b. A comparing, comparison of one thing with another, likeness, similitude
3. The common definition is: “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning”
B. Remember, one time the word “parabole” is translated “figure” and refers to a type (Heb. 9:9).
Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience.
C. The difference:
1. Types are very specific people, places, things, and institutions that were intentionally made to be types by God.
2. Parables often appear to be common examples from life from which spiritual lessons can be obtained (The Parable of the Pencil).
a. The lead is the most important part. Without it, it could not do what it was designed for. Our soul is our most important part.
b. The pencil must be sharpened in order to make it useful. We have to be put through the sharpening process to make us useful.
c. There are many different kinds of pencils and many different kinds of people.
d. The eraser can take care of mistakes that are made and the blood of Jesus can take care of the mistakes that we make in life.
e. In the hands of a master, the pencil can create magnificent works of literature and artistry. In the hands of God, each of us can create wonderful things.
II. THE INTERPRETATION OF A PARABLE
A. Each parable is intended to teach one dominant lesson.
1. The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-30a).
But he willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho…
2. The three parables in Luke 15 address one specific point (Luke 15:1-3).
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them them, saying.
B. The parables often contain secondary lessons.
1. In the Parable of the Sower, the main lesson centers upon the heart’s reaction to the Word of God.
2. Secondary lessons:
1) How the Word of God and seed resemble one another (Luke 8:11).
2) The fact that good ground produces different results (Matt. 13:23).
But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
C. Like types, we want to be careful not to push the parable too far (Ex., Matt. 18:28).
But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
III. THE CATEGORIES OF THE PARABLES
A. The Kingdom Parables (“For the kingdom of heaven is likened unto,” Matt. 13:33)
B. God’s Love, Mercy, and Forgiveness (The Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32)
C. Christian love (Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37)
D. Prayer (Persistent Widow, Luke 18:1-8)
E. Self-righteousness and Humility (Pharisee and Publican, Luke 18:9-14)
F. Stewardship (Talents, Matt. 25:14-30)
G. Preparation for the Future (Ten Virgins, Matt. 25:1-13)
IV. WHY JESUS SPOKE IN PARABLES
A. To conceal the truth from some (Matt. 13:13)
Therefore speak I unto them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
B. To reveal the truth (Matt. 13:16-18)
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear the things which ye hear, and have not heard them. Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
V. THE PARABLES IN CHRONOLIGICAL ORDER
A. The order
1. New cloth
2. New wine
3. Lamp on a stand
4. Wise and foolish builders
5. Moneylender forgives unequal debts
6. Lamp on a stand (2nd time)
7. Rich man builds bigger barns
8. Servants must remain faithful
9. Wise and foolish servants
10. Unfruitful fig tree
12. Wheat and tares
13. Mustard seed
15. Hidden treasure
16. Pearl of great price
17. Fishing net
18. Lost sheep
19. The sheep gate and shepherd
20. Master and his servant
21. Unmerciful servant
22. Good Samaritan
23. Lowest seat at the feast
24. Invitation to the great banquet
25. Cost of discipleship
26. Lost sheep
27. Lost coin
28. Prodigal son
29. Shrewd manager
30. Rich man and Lazarus (?)
31. Worker in the vineyard
32. Persistent widow
33. Pharisee and tax collector
34. King’s servants
35. Two sons
36. Wicked tenants
37. Invitation to a wedding banquet
38. Signs from a fig tree
39. Wise and foolish servants
40. Wise and foolish virgins
42. Sheep and goats
B. “You can see that the first group of parables focuses on the fact that there’s a new story being told, that it’s not to be hidden, and it serves as a foundation for what’s coming next. We then have the very important Parables #11 (sower and four types of soil) and #12 (weeds among good plants). This is followed by a group of “Kingdom of Heaven” parables (growing seed, yeast, valuable pearl, etc.). Now that the foundation has been built, Jesus gets into the behavior parables—how he would have you act as a Christian in different situations as a disciple, worker, or tenant. He then moves into using your talents well, remaining watchful, and finally into judgement. Basically it’s the progression of a Christian life” (http://swapmeetdave.com/Bible/Parables/).
A. The parables are easily remembered by us all.
B. However, we sometimes remember the stories but fail to really make application of the deep truths expressed in the parables.
C. Question: How the parables become so commonplace that we are no longer excited by them?