Wheat or Tares ― For or Against Christ

Part 2 of the Parable of the Wheat and Tares

The following post Wheat or Tares ― For or Against Christ is by Pastor Harry Meyer. This is part 2 in his series dealing with the wheat and tares within our churches. You can read Part 1 here if you missed it.

I was excited when Pastor Harry mentioned this study because this supplements the series I am working on dealing with apostasy within the church. I had no idea he was working on this teaching. I am humbled by how the Lord orchestrates bringing things together.

Christ Compares the Kingdom of Heaven

The actual parable of the wheat and tares as spoken by Jesus to the crowd is found in Matthew 13:24-30, along with Jesus’ explanation of the parable to His disciples in Matthew 13:36-43. In the kingdom parable of the Wheat and Tares Christ compares the kingdom of heaven to:

  • A man who sows good seed in his field (v. 24)
    • He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man—Christ (v. 37)
    • The field is the world (v. 38)
    • The good seed are the sons of the kingdom (v. 38)

Christ Reveals The Enemy

  • While the men slept his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat (v. 25)
    • The enemy who sowed the tares is none other than Satan (v. 39)
    • The tares are the sons of the wicked one—Satan (v. 38).

Poisonous Zonin

  • When the wheat sprouted having formed heads of grain the tares also appeared (v. 26)
    • The Greek word for tares “zizanion” transliterates to the Hebrew “zonin” a poisonous rye grass that looks like wheat until the heads appear. Therefore, simply put, it is a false or counterfeit grain.

Judaism does not recognize “zonin” as being a different plant from wheat but rather a degenerate form of it. 

The basis for this understanding comes from the Jewish oral tradition found in Mishnah Kilayim 1:1[1] which states:

“Wheat and zonin (tares) do not constitute mingled seeds with each other,” in the sense of fulfilling the biblical requirement not to sow one’s field with mixed seeds (Leviticus 19:19). 

Mishnah Kilayim 1:1[1]

However, this particular justification comes from a collection of ancient rabbinical interpretations of the Book of Genesis known in Judaism as the B’reishit (Genesis) Rabbah.  In this case, it refers to the rabbinic interpretations of Genesis 6:1-12 (the days of Noah).[2]  

Specifically, the rabbinical interpretation of Genesis 6:7 is found in B’reishit Rabbah 28:8:

“that all acted corruptly in the generation of the Flood: “the dog had intercourse with the wolf, and the fowl with the peacock; hence it is written, ‘For all (flesh) on the earth had corrupted their way’ (Genesis 6:12)…Even the earth debauched itself: wheat was sown and it produced zonin, for the zonin we find now came from the age of the Flood” (Genesis 6:11).

B’reishit Rabbah 28:8

Backsliding Israel Has Played the Harlot

In the days of King Josiah the LORD described backsliding Israel with a related word “zonah” or harlot saying to Jeremiah:

 “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot [zonah].  And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it…[she] did not fear, but went and played the harlot [zonah] also.  So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees.  And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense.”

Jeremiah 3:6-7, 8b-10

In light of these facts, it is reasonable to conclude that Judaism’s understanding of “zonin” was well-known among the scribes, Pharisees, and general population of Israel’s agrarian society in Jesus’ day. 

The Concern of the Laborers

The laborers asked if they should go and gather up the tares. To which the landowner said, “No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest.” At that time they will gather up the tares first and bundle them together for burning, but the wheat shall be gathered into the landowner’s barn (vs. 28b-30).

  • The harvest is the End of this Age and the reapers are the angels[3] (v. 39)
  • At harvest time the Son of Man will send out His angels who “will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend [the things by which people are led into sin] and those who practice lawlessness [lead others into sin] and cast them into the furnace of fire” (vs. 41-42).

Believers and Nonbelievers

Therefore, taking into account Jesus’ explanation of the parable and the rabbinical understanding of “zonin” one can make the following conclusion. Consequently, for the duration of the Dispensation of Grace[4] the church, which Christ purchased with His own blood, will include believers and nonbelievers. Unfortunately, primarily, false teachers whose true eternal destiny will not be revealed until the last day. 

Paul confirmed this truth to the Ephesian elders when he warned them about the rise of false teachers from without and within their congregation; he said:

“…Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.  For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.   Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.  Therefore watch.”  

Acts 20:28-31[5]

Masquerading As Servants Of Righteousness

Remember Judaism does not recognize zonin as a different plant from wheat but as a degenerate form of it.  Thus, it is logical to presume that the tares (zonin) are impostors.

Moreover, they are savage wolves in sheep’s clothing. Consequently, they have gone out into the world (field) to deceive, corrupt, and strengthen the hands of evildoers. 

Like their father Satan who disguises himself as an angel of light; these charlatans carry out their father’s desires by masquerading as servants of righteousness.[6] Thereby, whose destructive influence is especially effective on many of those hearing the Gospel message.[7]

Four Classes of Hearers are Present in the World

  • Many of those hearing the Gospel message:
    • Do not understand it, thus, the enemy comes and snatches away the Word that was sown in their hearts (Matthew 13:19)
    • Welcome and accept it with joy, but their trust in the divine truth is superficial. Therefore, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of trusting GOD’s word they immediately abandon its divine truth (Matthew 13:20-21)
    • Allow the worries of this earthly life and the deceitful allure of wealth to crowd out the divine truth making them unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).

Nevertheless, all is not lost, for there are those who hear the Good News understand it, and steadfastly trust the LORD and His Word.  These are the “wheat”, the good seed that persevere in bearing good fruit (Matthew 13:23). 

These are the four classes of hearers present in the world and in congregations today. 

Join me for Part 3 where we will examine biblical and historical evidence which attests to the coexistence of believers (wheat) and nonbelievers (tares) in the church and world prior to the Rapture.

Maranatha! Until next time, I am Passionately Loving Jesus, the Anchor of my Soul.

ABC’s of Salvation – Repent and be saved from the Wrath of God to come.
2.17 min clip – Pastor Harry Meyer


  • [1] Mishnah is the collection of Jewish oral traditions or the Oral Torah; Kilayim refers to the “Order of Seeds.” Thus in simple terms, the Mishnah Kilayim refers to the mixture of seeds IAW Jewish oral traditions or the Oral Torah.
  • [2] Genesis Rabbah is a religious text from Judaism’s classical period, probably written between 300 and 500 BC with some later additions. It is a Midrash comprising a collection of ancient rabbinical homiletical interpretations of the Book of Genesis.
  • [3] The End of this Age is a possible reference to the completion of the Dispensation (Age) of Grace—which began with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ and ends with the Rapture of the blood-bought church of Christ prior to the seven-year Tribulation (1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:15-18). In GOD’s plan for the redemption of mankind and His creation, there are seven distinct dispensations—these are:
    • the Age of Innocence,
    • the Age of Conscience,
    • the Age of Human Government,
    • the Age of Promise,
    • the Age of the Law,
    • the Age of Grace, and
    • the Age of the Kingdom (Messianic).
  • [4] See Footnote 3
  • [5] Matthew 7:15-20; Jeremiah 23:16-17; Micah 3:5
  • [6] 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
  • [7] Matthew 13:3-9 (Parable of the Sower/Soils); Matthew 13:18-23 (Parable of the Sower explained)

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Apostasy in the Church – Part 1

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