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Discussion in 'Parables of Jesus' started by Chad, Apr 19, 2008.

  1. The Leaven (Mt 13:33)


    1. Our previous study examined "The Parable Of The Mustard Seed" - Mt 13:31-32
    a. Where the kingdom is depicted as having remarkable growth, despite humble beginnings
    b. Perhaps the parable was told to reassure Jesus' disciples...
    1) That their involvement in the kingdom would not be for naught
    2) Especially after hearing two parables in which we see not all would receive the Word properly, and Satan's efforts to hinder growth of the kingdom would be noticeable
    2. Another parable that seems to have the same purpose of reassurance now follows...
    a. Found in Mt 13:33
    b. This has become known as "The Parable Of The Leaven"
    3. Immediately we can see similarities to "The Parable Of The Mustard Seed"
    a. Both are quite brief, with no explanations by Jesus recorded
    b. Both appear to be describing the remarkable spread of the kingdom of heaven
    4. But some differences can be noted, so this parable is certainly worthy of careful consideration

    [Let's begin, then, by noticing some...]



    1. A small portion of fermented dough used to ferment other dough (Holman Bible Dictionary)

    2. Once inserted into a batch, it continues its process of fermentation until the whole batch has risen (Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary)

    3. Today, we more likely use the term "yeast" instead of "leaven"


    1. In the New Testament, "leaven" is often symbolic of corrupting influence
    a. Jesus warned of "the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees", which included their teaching and hypocrisy - cf. Mt 16:5-12; Lk 12:1
    b. Paul wrote of the danger of how "a little leaven leavens the whole lump", as he addressed the need to withdraw from the unpenitent brother - 1 Co 5:1-13
    2. This has led some to conclude that "leaven" in the parable represents something evil

    3. But there are several reasons why this is not likely true...
    a. There is no reason why its use elsewhere must be the same here
    1) A speaker or writer is certainly free to use a figure any way they wish, even differently in different situations
    2) To read the use of the figure as found elsewhere into this passage is a form of "eisegesis"
    a) That is, reading something into the passage not actually there
    1. Though in this case one may not be reading their own preconceived ideas into the passage, as is commonly done
    2. But reading the ideas of another Biblical context into this one is still a form of "eisegesis"
    b) As opposed to "exegesis", which is to read out of a passage what it actually says or means, and should be the goal of proper Bible study
    b. The last phrase would then suggest that the kingdom is destined to fail!
    1) The "leaven" is to eventually fill the whole loaf!
    2) If "leaven" represents corrupting influence, how discouraging!
    c. The close proximity of the parable to "The Parable Of The Mustard Seed" would suggest similarities in meaning (cf.the two parables in Mt 13:44-46)
    [Well, if Jesus does not mean to use "leaven" in this context as symbolical of corrupting influence, then what does He mean?]



    1. That is, having the quality to permeate, to spread or flow throughout the world

    2. One suggestion is that the loaf represents the world, and the leaven is the kingdom

    3. Thus the reign of heaven (God) will gradually make its influence felt in the world

    4. This "reign of heaven" could be manifested:
    a. In the form of the gospel (the "word" of the kingdom, Mt 13:19), as it is was proclaimed to all creation - cf. Mk 16:15-16
    b. In the form of the church, which spreads as people accept the gospel
    c. In the influence of the Word and the church, as their influence is felt in society
    5. This parable may also illustrates the "invisible" growth of the kingdom
    a. As leaven does it work with less than noticeable effect
    b. So the spreading influence of the kingdom is often unnoticeable, but real nonetheless!

    1. Speaking of the loaf, Jesus said "till it was all leavened"

    2. No part of the "loaf" (world) will be untouched by the influence of the kingdom

    3. That the gospel did indeed spread in this way was expressed by Paul in Ro 10:17-18; 16:25-26; Co 1:6,23

    4. Of course, not all have obeyed the gospel - e.g., "The Parable Of The Four Soils"
    a. While the "fragrance of His knowledge" is diffused in every place...
    b. some it is "an aroma of death" - cf. 2 Co 2:14-16
    5. Yet, we still see the leavening influence of the Word and Christ's reign...
    a. In the growth of the church
    b. In the influence of the Word in society (cf. our judicial system, charitable organizations, etc.)


    1. Don't measure the growth or success of the kingdom solely by visible standards

    2. As Jesus said to the Pharisees...
    a. "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say 'See here!' or 'See there!'" - Lk 17:20-21a
    b. "For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you." - Lk 17:21b
    3. The spread of the kingdom (the rule of God) is taking place wherever the "word of the kingdom" is being sown, and fruit
    will be borne as it falls on "good and noble hearts"

    4. Remain confident:
    a. That what began as a mustard seed will become a great tree
    b. That what started in one small portion of the loaf will eventually spread through the whole loaf

    1. Allow the "leaven of the kingdom" to permeate your own heart and life
    a. Take the Word of God into your own heart
    b. Study and meditate upon it, and then seek to apply it!
    2. Allow that Word to produce fruit in your life, so that you become an leavening influence for the kingdom of God!
    a. By word, as you share the gospel of the kingdom with others
    b. By deed, as you do good works that glorify God
    c. For as leaven, we are also "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world" - cf. Mt 5:13-16
    1) Designed to glorify God by our good works
    2) And so influence our world for good as well!

    1. With an understanding of these two parables ("The Mustard Seed" and "The Leaven"), we can take heart in knowing that the work of Christ in regards to His Kingdom will not be for naught

    2. As we close this lesson, let me ask "What kind of leaven are you?"
    a. This parable has been describing "leaven" as a positive force
    b. But remember, "leaven" is also used to illustrate that which is harmful
    1) The "leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" - Lk 12:1
    2) That which is a corrupting force, and needs to be purged - 1 Co 5:6-8
    Will you allow the grace of God to make you to be the kind of "leaven" that can be used to His glory...?
  2. Question about can we tell which leaven is good and what leaven is harmful.

    Is it like gluten...?
    Sent from a mobile device
  3. Or..yeast vs baking soda.
    I know you do have to have fresh and active yeast but baking soda can keep for a long time without ever going off.
    Sent from a mobile device
  4. I think it depends on where the leaven comes from.

    Either kingdom of God...
    Matt 13:33; He spoke another parable to them, "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."
    Luke 13:21; "It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."

    .. or the kingdom of disobedience and self-righteousness.

    Matt 16:6; And Jesus said to them, "Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
    Mark 8:15; And He was giving orders to them, saying, "Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod."

    either way.. good or bad.. a little leaven can affect whatever it's embedded in.

    1 Cor 5:6; Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?
    1 Cor 5:7; Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.
    1 Cor 5:8; Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

    Gal 5:9; A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.
  5. @Chad

    Hello there,

    What matters is how the Holy Spirit uses the word, Leaven, isn't it? That is how we will know whether it is to be interpreted in a bad sense or a good sense. It's first occurrence in Exodus 12:15 is significant, for it marks it as something to be 'put away.'

    The meaning of the word itself, is as has been said, 'sour, or fermenting dough.
    'Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread;
    even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses:
    for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day,
    that soul shall be cut off from Israel.'

    (Exo 12:15)

    * It is used of its work in permeating the whole of that with which it is mixed (Matt. 13:33; Luk. 13:21; 1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9; Hos.7:4)
    * It is used of the bread which is made from the meal in which leaven has permeated (Exo. 12:15.19.20,34,39; Exo. 13:7)
    * It is used in connection with sacrifices, as never to be offered to God with any offering made by fire (Lev. 2:11; 6:17; Lev. 10:12)
    * It is used by figure of speech (metaphor) for doctrine (Matt. 16:12; Mar. 8:15; Luk. 12:1; Gal. 5:9)
    * It is used of the effects of evildoers (1 Cor. 5:6-8; 15:33)
    * In Lev. 23:17, it is used in that which symbolizes mankind, and in a proper sense of being corrupted. The sin-offering associated with the leaven in the two wave-loaves corresponds with this.
    * In Amos 4:4,5, it is either the language or figure of Irony ; for, it shows that the 'thanksgiving with leaven' is symbolical of the sin, which is ever present even in the worshippers of God.
    * So, in every instance it is associated with, and symbolical of, only that which is evil.

    (Taken from notes in the margin of my Bible)

    In Christ Jesus
  6. 'Yeast' or leaven is ego-inflation.
    humility/humbleness is unleaven, or ego-deflation.
  7. Hello Peter,

    With respect, that is not how the Holy Spirit applies it, is it? That is the product of your own understanding.

    In Christ Jesus
  8. Ego / yeast is our old nature and is not from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit (Spirit of Truth) only responds to what is true. Our ego is not true. It is just a fabricated story, by the mind, to make sense of itself. Our mind knows it is just a story and not valid, that is why the ego-mind fears its truth of invalidity for it does not want to lose its own identity (lose its mind). That is why the ego is always seeking validity ("l know better; Listen to me; watch me; ain't I good;.....") It never ends.

    Matthew 16:6-7
    6. "Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
    7. They discussed this among themselves and said, "It is because we didn't bring any bread."

    Matthew 16:11-12
    11. How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
    12. Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
  9. Then how do you make sense of Jesus words in Matthew 13.33?
    Sent from a mobile device
  10. In Jesus time they did not have a word for ego except for pride, vanity, and other descriptions of ego. However, leaven/yeast does describe infiltration and inflation, including ego-inflation. Self glorification is puffing oneself-up, as in 1 Corinthians 5:6 Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?

    In Matthew 13:33 He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough."
    Is about taking the Truth and adding Truth into consciousness, spreading through all other parts of consciousness. Infiltration of Truth will glorify God.

    Our old nature reference life from the ego-self and everything about life was seen from our own self-will perspective _ as in 1 Corinthians 5:6
    Our new nature references life from Christ's Spirit (Truth) and everything about life is seen from God's-will perspective _ as in Matthew 13:33.

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