The Parable of the Sower

Article Index

Matthew 13:3-23 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

Some fell on stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundred fold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

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.

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.

Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

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 have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catchethy away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

Yet hath he no root in himself, and dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

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 a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.


Y ou Can Change Your Level of Understanding

Judah (praise) shall plow. Praise breaks up the fallow (idle, unproductive) ground. Praise makes a way when there is no way. Praise changes the heart. Praise increases the level to an advanced stage of understanding!

Hosea 10:11,12 And Ephraim is as a heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods. Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.


W hy Speakest Thou Unto Them in Parables?

Because it is given unto you to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

Our understanding of any parable is based on our understanding of this parable, the Parable of the Sower!

Four classes of soil are shown. The seed, (the Word of God), remains constant.

Each class may be expressed in a percentage as 25%.

Observe that 75% of the seed sown is unproductive!

Of the remaining 25%, there are three subsivisions of 8%. They are expressed as 30, 60, 100 fold.

With regular monotony these figures are cited as 30, 60 and 100 per cent! 30% is one-third; 60 percent is two-thirds and 100% is double.

When quoted as Jesus explains, the yield is 3,000%, 6,000% and 10,000%!

Therefore, only 8% of the seed sown attains its ultimate potential!

Mark 4:1-13 And when He was alone, those around Him, with the Twelve, asked Him as to the parable. And He said to them, To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. But to these, those outside, all things are being given in parables, that seeing they may see and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand, lest they should convert, and the sins be forgiven to them. Isa. 6:9, 10 And He said to them, Do you not know this parable? And how will you know all parables?


M atthew, Mark and Luke Compared

Way Side Stony Places Thorns Good Ground
Way Side / Fowls Devoured Them Up

Understandeth It Not / Wicked One / Catcheth Away

Stony Places / Not Much Earth / Sprung Up / Not Much Deepness of Earth

Receives With Joy / No Root in Himself / Dureth For a While / Tribulation / Persecution / Offended
Thorns / Choked

Care of This World / Deceitfulness of Riches / Choke / Unfruitful
Good Ground /
100 Fold / 60 Fold / 30 Fold
He That Hath East to Hear Let Him Hear

Heareth the Word, And Understandeth It / 100 Fold / 60 / 30

Way Side / Fowls of the Air Devoured It Up

Satan Cometh Immediately / Taketh Away / That Was Sown in Their Hearts
Stony Ground / Sprang Up / No Depth of Earth / Sun Was Up / Scorched / No Root / Withered Away

Immediately Receiveth It With Gladness / No Root / Endure For a Time / Affliction / Persecution / Word’s Sake / Offended
Thorns / Choked / Yielded No Fruit

Cares / Deceitfulness of Riches / Lusts of Other Things / Choke / Unfruitful
Good Ground / Brought Forth 30 / 60 / 100
He That hath Ears to Hear Let Him Hear

Receive It / Bring Forth Fruit /
30 Fold / 60 / 100

Way Side / Trodden Down / Fowls of the Air Devoured It

Devil Taketh Away ….. / That They Should Believe And Be Saved
Rock / Sprung Up / Withered Away / It Lacked Moisture

Joy / No Root / For a While Believe / Temptation / Fall Away
Thorns / Choked

Cares and Riches and Pleasures of this Life / Bring No Fruit to Perfection
Good Ground / Bare fruit / 100 Fold
He That Hath Ears Let Him Hear

Good Ground / Honest and Good Heart / Keep It and Bring Forth Fruit With Patience

75% of the seed sown is unproductive.   Of the 25% that is productive, 8% yields  30 fold [3,000%], 8% yields 60 fold [6,000%] and 8% yields 100 fold [10,000%]   8% is a minority!  8% fulfills the intent of God!


S eventy Parables of The New Testament:  

[2 Parables are Employed by John the Baptist, namely the first and second. The following 68 are taught by the Lord Jesus Christ: these are the third to the seventieth inclusive.]

1.            Bad Trees   (Matthew 3:10)    John the Baptist
2.             Threshing Wheat   (Matthew 3:12)    John the Baptist
3.             Salt of the Earth    (Matthew 5:13;  Mark 9:50;  Luke 14:34, 35)
4.             Light of the World   (Matthew 5:14-16)
5.             Laying up Treasures   (Matthew 6:26;  Luke 12:24)
6.             Fowls of the Air   (Matthew 6:26   Luke 12:24)
7.             Lilies of the Field   (Matthew 6:28, 29)
8.             Mote and Beam in Eyes   (Matthew 7:3-5;  Luke 6:37, 38, 41, 42)
9.             Dogs and Swine   (Matthew 7:6)
10.          Earthly Parents   (Matthew 7:7-11;  Luke 11:9-13)
11.          The Two Ways   (Matthew 7:13, 14;  Luke 13:24)
12.          The Trees and Fruit   (Matthew 7:15-20;  Luke 6:43, 44)
13.          The Two Foundations   (Matthew 7:24-29;  Luke 6:47-49)
14.          The Two Classes of Men   (Matthew 9:11-13;  Mark 2:13-17;  Luke 5:27-32)
15.          The Two Bridegrooms   (Matthew 9:15;  Mark 2:18-22;  Luke 5:33-39)
16.          The Two Kinds of Cloth   (Matthew 9:16)
17.          The Two Kinds of Bottles   (Matthew 9:17)
18.          Sheep Among Wolves   (Matthew 10:16;  Mark 13:9-13;  Luke 21:12-17)
19.          The Two Sparrows   (Matthew 10:29-31;  Luke 12:2-7)
20.          The Two Types of People   (Matthew 11:7-9;  Luke 7:18-35)
21.          Children:   Two Kinds   (Matthew 11:16-19)
22.          Scholars:  Two Types   (Matthew 11:25;  Luke 10:21, 22)
23.          The Strong Man   (Matthew 12:29;  Mark 3:20-30;  Luke 11:14-23;  12:10)
24.          The Sign of Jonah   (Matthew 12:40;  Mark 8:11, 12;  Luke 11:29-32)
25.          The Unclean Spirit   (Matthew 12:43-45;  Luke 11:24-26)
26.          Sower Sowing Seed   (Matthew 13:3-23;  Mark 4:1-9;  Luke 8:4-8)
27.          The Tares and Wheat   (Matthew 13:24-33)
28.          The Mustard Seed   (Matthew 13:31, 32;  Mark 4:30-32;  Luke 13:18-21)
29.          The Leaven   (Matthew 13:33;  Mark 33, 34)
30.          The Hidden Treasure   (Matthew 13:44)
31.          Pearl of Great Price   (Matthew 13:45, 46)
32.          The Fisher’s Net   (Matthew 13:47, 48)
33.          Mixture of Old and New   (Matthew 13:52)
34.          The Plants   (Matthew 15:13, 14;  Mark 7:1-23)
35.          The Food of Man   (Matthew 15:10-20)
36.          Leaven of Pharisees   (Matthew 16:6-12;  Mark 8:14-21)
37.          Little Children   (Matthew 18:1-10;  Mark 9:33-37, 42-48;  Luke 9:46-48;  17:1, 2)
38.          Lost Sheep   (Matthew 18:11-14;  Luke 15:3-7)
39.          Unmerciful Servant   (Matthew 18:23-25)
40.          Labourers in Vineyard   (Matthew 20:1-16)
41.          The Two Sons   Matthew 21:28-32)
42.          The Householder   (Matthew 21:33-46;  Mark 12:1-12;  Luke 20:9-19))
43.          The Marriage Feast   (Matthew 22:1-14;  Luke 14:15-24)
44.          The Fig Tree   (Matthew 24:32, 33;  Mark 13:28-31;  Luke 21:29-33)
45.          Goodman of the House   (Matthew 24:43, 44;  Mark 13:32-37;  Luke 17:26-30, 34-36)
46.          The Faithful Servant   (Matthew 24:45-51;  Luke 12:41-48)
47.          The Ten Virgins   (Matthew 25:1-13)
48.          The Talents   (Matthew 25:14-30;  Luke 19:11-27)
49.          Seed Sown in Ground   (Mark 4:26-29)
50.  Master of the House   (Mark 13:34-37;  Matthew 24:36-44)
51.        The Two Debtors   (Luke 7:41-50)
52.          The Good Samaritan   (Luke 10:30-37)
53.          Importunate Friend   (Luke 11:5-10;  Matthew 6:9-15;  7:7-11)
54.          The Rich Fool   (Luke 12:16-21)
55.          The Wedding Trip   (Luke 12:35-41;  Matthew 24:45-51)
56.          The Faithful Steward   (Luke 12:42-48)
57.          The Barren Fig Tree   (Luke 13:6-9)
58.          The Ambitious Guest   (Luke 14:7-15)
59.          The Great Supper   (Luke 14:16-24;  Matthew 22:1-10)
60.          The Tower   (Luke 14:28-30)
61.          King Going to War   (Luke 14:31, 32)
62.          The Lost Coin   (Luke 15:8-10)
63.          The Prodigal Son   (Luke 15:11-32)
64.          The Unjust Steward   (Luke 16:1-13)
65.          Unprofitable Servant   (Luke 17:7-10;  Matthew 18:6, 7, 21, 22;  Mark 9:42)
66.          The Unjust Judge   (Luke 18:1-8)
67.          Pharisee and Publican   (Luke 18:9-14)
68.          Traveller and Pounds   (Luke 19:11-27;  Matthew 25:13-40)
69.          The Good Shepherd   (John 10:1-18)
70.          The Vine and Branches   (John 15:1-18)


G reek Word Definitions

The original manuscripts of the New Testament were written in the Greek language, not English. There are literally thousands of ancient copies of these.

The English translation of the Bible is precisely that, a translation.

For any serious student of the Bible, examination of the Greek Word Defintions is essential. Here will be found the precise word the Holy Spirit employs in writing the text, together with its meaning.

A selected list of words from the Parable of the Sower follows:


3850 parabolh parabole par-ab-ol-ay’       from 3846; TDNT-5:744,773; n f

AV-parable 46, figure 2, comparison 1, proverb 1; 50

1) a placing of one thing by the side of another, juxtaposition, as of ships in battle
2) metaph.
2a) a comparing, comparison of one thing with another, likeness, similitude
2b) an example by which a doctrine or precept is illustrated
2c) a narrative, fictitious but agreeable to the laws and usages of human life, by which either the duties of men or the things of God, particularly the nature and history of God’s kingdom are figuratively portrayed
2d) a parable: an earthly story with a heavenly meaning
3) a pithy and instructive saying, involving some likeness or comparison and having preceptive or admonitory force
3a) an aphorism, a maxim

4) a proverb
5) an act by which one exposes himself or his possessions to danger, a venture, a risk

They Should Believe:

4100 pisteuw pisteuo pist-yoo’-o       from 4102; TDNT-6:174,849; v

AV-believe 239, commit unto 4, commit to (one’s) trust 1, be committed unto 1, be put in trust with 1, be commit to one’s trust 1, believer 1; 248

1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in
1a) of the thing believed
1a1) to credit, have confidence
1b) in a moral or religious reference
1b1) used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul
1b2) to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith
1bc) mere acknowledgment of some fact or event: intellectual faith
2) to entrust a thing to one, i.e. his fidelity
2a) to be intrusted with a thing


4982 swzw sozo sode’-zo       from a primary sos (contraction for obsolete saos, "safe"); TDNT-7:965,1132; v

AV-save 93, make whole 9, heal 3, be whole 2, misc 3; 110

1) to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction
1a) one (from injury or peril)
1a1) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health
1b1) to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue
1b) to save in the technical biblical sense
1b1) negatively
1b1a) to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment
1b1b) to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance


 5479   cara chara khar-ah’       from 5463; TDNT-9:359,1298; n f

AV-joy 51, gladness 3, joyful 1, joyous 1, joyfulness 1, joyfully + 3326 1, greatly 1; 59

1) joy, gladness
1a) the joy received from you
1b) the cause or occasion of joy
1b1) of persons who are one’s joy


4491 riza rhiza hrid’-zah       apparently a primary word; TDNT-6:985,985; n f

AV-root 17; 17

1) a root
2) that which like a root springs from a root, a sprout, shoot
3) metaph. offspring, progeny


2076 esti esti es-tee’       third person singular present indicative of 1510; ; v

AV-is 744, are 51, was 29, be 25, have 11, not tr 15, misc 25, vr is 1; 900

1) third person singular of "to be"

Used in phrase <3739> <2076> (5748) in:

  #Mr 3:17 7:11,34 12:42 15:15 Eph 6:17 Col 1:24 Heb 7:2 Re 21:8,17

These are listed under number 3603.


2347 yliqiv thlipsis thlip’-sis       from 2346; TDNT-3:139,334; n f

AV-tribulation 21, affliction 17, trouble 3, anguish 1, persecution 1, burdened 1, to be afflicted + 1519 1; 45

1) a pressing, pressing together, pressure
2) metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits

For Synonyms see entry 5907


1375 diwgmov diogmos dee-ogue-mos’       from 1377; ; n m

AV-persecution 10; 10

1) persecution


4624 skandalizw skandalizo skan-dal-id’-zo ("scandalize")       from 4625; TDNT-7:339,1036; v

AV-offend 28, make to offend 2; 30

1) to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall, metaph. to offend
1a) to entice to sin
1b) to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey
1b1) to cause to fall away
1b2) to be offended in one, i.e. to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority
1b3) to cause one to judge unfavourably or unjustly of another
1c) since one who stumbles or whose foot gets entangled feels annoyed
1c1) to cause one displeasure at a thing
1c2) to make indignant
1c3) to be displeased, indignant


2429 ikmav hikmas hik-mas’       of uncertain affinity; ; n f

AV-moisture 1; 1

1) moisture


3986 peirasmov peirasmos pi-ras-mos’       from 3985; TDNT-6:23,822; n m

AV-temptation 19, temptations 1, try 1; 21

1) an experiment, attempt, trial, proving
1a) trial, proving: the trial made of you by my bodily condition, since condition served as to test the love of the Galatians toward Paul (#Ga 4:14)
1b) the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy
1b1) an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstances
1b2) an internal temptation to sin
1b2a) of the temptation by which the devil sought to divert Jesus the Messiah from his divine errand
1b3) of the condition of things, or a mental state, by which we are enticed to sin, or to a lapse from the faith and holiness
1b4) adversity, affliction, trouble: sent by God and serving to test or prove one’s character, faith, holiness
1c) temptation (i.e. trial) of God by men
1c1) rebellion against God, by which his power and justice are, as it were, put to the proof and challenged to show themselves

Fall Away:

868 afisthmi aphistemi af-is’-tay-mee       from 575 and 2476; TDNT-1:512,88; v

AV-depart 10, draw away 1, fall away 1, refrain 1, withdraw self 1, depart from 1; 15

1) to make stand off, cause to withdraw, to remove
1a) to excite to revolt
2) to stand off, to stand aloof
2a) to go away, to depart from anyone
2b) to desert, withdraw from one
2c) to fall away, become faithless
2d) to shun, flee from
2e) to cease to vex one
2f) to withdraw one’s self from, to fall away
2g) to keep one’s self from, absent one’s self from


4846 sumpnigw sumpnigo soom-pnee’-go       from 4862 and 4155; TDNT-6:455,895; v

AV-choke 4, throng 1; 5

1) to choke utterly
1a) metaph. the seed of the divine word sown in the mind
1b) to press round or throng one so as almost to suffocate him


3308 merimna merimna mer’-im-nah       from 3307 (through the idea of distraction); TDNT-4:589,584; n f

AV-care 6; 6

1) care, anxiety


165 aiwn aion ahee-ohn’       from the same as 104; TDNT-1:197,31; n m

AV-ever 71, world 38, never + 3364 + 1519 + 3588 6, evermore 4, age 2, eternal 2, misc 5; 128

1) for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity
2) the worlds, universe
3) period of time, age

For Synonyms see entry 5921


539 apath apate ap-at’-ay       from 538; TDNT-1:385,65; n f

AV-deceitfulness 3, deceitful 1, deceit 1, deceivableness 1, deceivings 1; 7

1) deceit, deceitfulness


4149 ploutov ploutos ploo’-tos       from the base of 4130; TDNT-6:318,873; n m

AV-riches 22; 22

1) riches, wealth
1a) abundance of external possessions
1b) fulness, abundance, plenitude
1c) a good i.e. that with which one is enriched


1939 epiyumia epithumia ep-ee-thoo-mee’-ah       from 1937; TDNT-3:168,339; n f

AV-lust 31, concupiscence 3, desire 3, lust after 1; 38

1) desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust

For Synonyms see entry 5845 & 5906

Other Things:

3062 loipov loipoy loy-poy’       masculine plural of a derivative of 3007; ; adv

AV-other 15, rest 12, others 7, remnant 4, residue 1, which remains 1, other things 1; 41

1) remaining, the rest
1a) the rest of any number or class under consideration
1b) with a certain distinction and contrast, the rest, who are not of a specific class or number
1c) the rest of the things that remain


2237 hdonh hedone hay-don-ay’       from handano (to please); TDNT-2:909,303; n f

AV-pleasure 3, lust 2; 5

1) pleasure
2) desires for pleasure

This Life:

979 biov bios bee’-os       a primary word; TDNT-2:832,290; n m

AV-life 5, living 5, good 1; 11

1) life
1a) life extensively
1a1) the period or course of life
1b) that by which life is sustained, resources, wealth, goods

For Synonyms see entry 5821

Withered Away:   3583 xhrainw xeraino xay-rah’-ee-no       from 3584; ; v

AV-wither away 6, wither 5, dry up 3, pine away 1, be ripe 1; 16

1) to make dry, dry up, wither
2) to become dry, to be dry, be withered
2a) of plants
2b) of the ripening of crops
2c) of fluids
2d) of the members of the body
3) to waste away, pine away, i.e. a withered hand


5052 telesforew telesphoreo tel-es-for-eh’-o       from a compound of 5056 and 5342; ; v

AV-bring fruit to perfection 1; 1

1) to bring to (perfection or) maturity
1a) of fruits
1b) of pregnant women
1c) of animals bringing their young to maturity


2570 kalov kalos kal-os’       of uncertain affinity; TDNT-3:536,402; adj

AV-good 83, better 7, honest 5, meet 2, goodly 2, misc 3; 102

1) beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable
1a) beautiful to look at, shapely, magnificent
1b) good, excellent in its nature and characteristics, and therefore well adapted to its ends
1b1) genuine, approved
1b2) precious
1b3) joined to names of men designated by their office, competent, able, such as one ought to be
1b4) praiseworthy, noble
1c) beautiful by reason of purity of heart and life, and hence praiseworthy
1c1) morally good, noble
1d) honourable, conferring honour
1e) affecting the mind agreeably, comforting and confirming

For Synonyms see entry 5893

100 Fold:

1540   ekaton hekaton hek-at-on’       of uncertain affinity; ; n indecl

AV-hundred 15, hundredfold 2; 17

1) a hundred

60 Fold:

1835 exhkonta hexekonta hex-ay’-kon-tah       the tenth multiple of 1803; ; n indecl

AV-threescore 4, sixty 3, sixtyfold 1; 8

1) sixty

30 Fold:

5144 triakonta triakonta tree-ak’-on-tah       the decade of 5140; ; adj

AV-thirty 9, thirty fold 2; 11

  1. thirty


1526 eisi eisi i-see’       third person plural present indicative of 1510; ; v

AV-are 135, be 14, were 7, have 2, not tr 1, misc 4; 163

1) are, be, were, etc.


173 akanya akantha ak’-an-thah       probably from the same as 188; ; n f

AV-thorns 14; 14

1) thorn, bramble
2) bush, brier, a thorny plan


T hey Made Me Keeper of the Vineyard

The Christian is to be always on guard, on the lookout for those things that will draw away from his master.   He is to continually cultivate his soil, eliminating those things which interfere with his spiritual life.   (Weeds require no cultivation.   They look after themselves very well.)   So it always is with the Negative.   But those positive areas are required to be developed by continual nurture.

Song of Solomon 1:6 Do not look at me, that I am black, that the sun has looked on me. My mother's sons were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard I have not kept.

Proverbs 24:30-34 I went over the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man lacking heart, and, lo, it was all risen up with thistles; nettles had covered its surface, and its stone wall was broken down. And I beheld, I set my heart on it, I looked, I received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to lie down; so shall your poverty come stalking, and your want like a man with a shield.

Luke 21:34 But take heed to yourselves that your hearts not be loaded down with headaches, and drinking, and anxieties of life, and that day come suddenly upon you