The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares
When do the events of Matthew 13 take place?
A Preterist Interpretation


Preterism is the belief that the Second Coming of Christ occurred when Christ said it would. Preterists are obsessed with consistency. When Jesus says in Matthew 16:

27 For the Son of man is about to come in the glory of his Father with His angels; and then shall He render unto every man according to his deeds. 28 Verily I say unto you, there are some of them that stand here, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom.

preterists refuse to believe that Jesus was mistaken. Preterists also refuse to engage in hermeneutical gymnastics to make this passage mean something other than it obviously means. Preterists harmonize all other eschatological passages with this clear passage, rather than changing the clear meaning of Matthew 16 to conform to an eschatological prophecy-chart imposed on all the other passages.

Preterists believe this coming in judgment occurred in AD 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans and apostate Israel definitively cut off from the covenant.


The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares The Parable of the Dragnet

Matthew 13:36-43

36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”

37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Matthew 13:47-52

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

51 Jesus said to them, “Have you understood all these things?”

They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”

52 Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”


Who are "the tares?" 

They are "sown by the devil."

John 8:44
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

The "end of the age" is not the "end of the world," but the end of the Old Testament Age.

Matthew 24:29ff.
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His messengers with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.


When will there be weeping and gnashing of teeth?


 It's possible that altering the traditional understanding of the Second Coming in this way alters the traditional understanding of hell. Notice how the "hell" prooftexts are often "Second Coming" prooftexts, which preterists believe are AD 70 prooftexts.

Matthew 8:5-12

5 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”
7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.
10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

Luke 13:22-30

22 And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem . 23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”
And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God , and yourselves thrust out. 29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God . 30 And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.” 


Matthew 22:1-14

1 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.’

14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”


Matthew 24:45-51
45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25:30-31
30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
31 “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.

Acts 2:20
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.

Revelation 14:10-11; Revelation 16:10-11


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Angels as Messengers

David Chilton, Paradise Restored, chapter 11:

The Gathering of the Elect

Finally, the result of Jerusalem's destruction will be Christ's sending forth of his "angels" to gather the elect. Isn't this the Rapture? No. The word angels simply means messengers (cf. James 2:25), regardless of whether their origin is heavenly or earthly; it is the context which determines whether these are heavenly creatures being spoken of. The word often means preachers of the gospel (see Matt. 11:10; Luke 7:24; 9:52; Rev. 1-3). In context, there is every reason to assume that Jesus is speaking of the worldwide evangelism and conversion of the nations which will follow upon the destruction of Israel.

Christ's use of the word gather is significant in this regard. The word, literally, is a verb meaning to synagogue; the meaning is that with the destruction of the Temple and of the Old Covenant system, the Lord sends out His messengers to gather His elect people into His New Synagogue. Jesus is actually quoting from Moses, who had promised: "If your outcasts are at the ends of heaven, from there the LORD your God will synagogue you, and from there he will take you" (Deut. 30:4, Septuagint). Neither text has anything to do with the Rapture; both are concerned with the restoration and establishment of God's House, the organized congregation of His covenant people. This becomes even more pointed when we remember what Jesus had said just before this discourse:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to synagogue your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your House is being left to you desolate! (Matt. 23:37-38).

Because Jerusalem apostatised and refused to be synagogued under Christ, her Temple would be destroyed, and a New Synagogue and Temple would be formed: the Church. The New Temple was created, of course, on the Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit came to indwell the Church. But the fact of the new Temple's existence would only be made obvious when the scaffolding of the Old Temple and the Old Covenant system was taken away. The Christian congregations immediately began calling themselves "synagogues" (that is the word used in James 2:2), while calling the Jewish gatherings "synagogues of Satan" (Rev. 2:9; 3:9). Yet they lived in anticipation of the Day of Judgment upon Jerusalem and the Old Temple, when the Church would be revealed as the true Temple and Synagogue of God. Because the Old Covenant system was "obsolete" and "ready to disappear" (Heb. 8:13), the writer to the Hebrews urged them to have hope, "not forsaking the synagoguing of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the Day approaching" (Heb. 10:25; cf. 2nd Thess. 2:1-2).

The Old Testament promise that God would "synagogue" His people undergoes one major change in the New Testament. Instead of the simple form of the word, the term used by Jesus has the Greek preposition epi prefixed to it. This is a favorite New Covenant expression, which intensifies the original word. What Jesus is saying, therefore, is that the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 will reveal Himself as having come with clouds to receive His Kingdom; and it will display His Church before the world as the full, the true, the super-Synagogue.

The Greek word "angel" is translated "messenger" in these verses:

Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:24; Luke 7:27; Luke 9:52; 2 Corinthians 12:7; James 2:25

Matthew 11:10
 10For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Mark 1:2
 2As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Luke 7:24
 24And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

Luke 7:27
 27This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Luke 9:52
 52And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

2 Corinthians 12:7
 7And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

James 2:25
 25Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

If we choose to translate the Greek word anggelos as "messenger" in Matthew 13, we have the following:

Matt 13:39 - [In Context|Read Chapter|Original Greek]
The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the messengers.
Matt 13:41 - [In Context|Read Chapter|Original Greek]
The Son of man shall send forth his messengers, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
Matt 13:49 - [In Context|Read Chapter|Original Greek]
So shall it be at the end of the world: the messengers shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,

“The trumpet portrays the ultimate Jubilee of Salvation, decorated with imagery from Leviticus 25. …Christ’s messengers will go forth powerfully trumpeting the gospel of salvific liberation (Luke 4:16-21, Isa. 61:1-3; Lev. 25. 9-10)”
—Ken Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, p.362.