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Sower [The Four Soils]

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The Sower [The Four Soils] (Mt 13:3-9,18-23)


1. As Jesus went about preaching the gospel of the kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 4:17,23), He did not always find a receptive audience...
a. Even where He did mighty works, some did not repent - Mt 11:20-24
b. Some sought to trick Him, so they might have reason to accuse Him - Mt 12:9-14
-- It was for this very reason that Jesus began teaching publicly in "parables" - Mt 13:10-13

2. The problem Jesus faced was that many people, though they had ears to hear, their ears had become "hard of hearing" - Mt 13:14-15

3. To illustrate this problem, Jesus told a parable that has come to be known as "The Parable Of The Sower"
a. It can also be properly called "The Parable Of The Four Soils"
b. Or "The Parable Of The Seed"
-- It was told by Jesus to illustrate different reactions to the gospel message

4. The parable itself is recorded in Mt 13:3-9 (also Mk 4:3-9; Lk 8:4-8) - PLEASE READ
a. It is one of the few parables in which we actually have Jesus' own interpretation of the parable
b. The significance of this particular parable is enhanced by the words of Jesus recorded in Mk 4:13...
"Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all parables?"

[The value of this parable becomes clearer in the light of Jesus' explanation, for by it we can see ourselves as we really are in regards to how we have received the Word into our lives...]



1. Not specifically mentioned, but compare Mt 13:37
a. This is in explanation of "The Parable Of The Wheat And The Tares"
b. In which Jesus explains "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man"
2. So it is likely that the "sower" in this parable had immediate reference to Jesus

3. But it is a fair use of the parable to apply it today to anyone who faithfully proclaims the message of the Son of Man

B. "THE SEED"...

1. The seed is "the word of the kingdom" - Mt 13:19a

2. I.e., the gospel of the kingdom, which was the theme of Jesus' preaching - Mt 4:23

3. It was also an important element of apostolic preaching - cf. Ac 8:12; 28:30-31

C. "THE WAYSIDE" (The First Soil)...

1. This soil represents one who "hears...and does not understand" - Mt 13:19a

2. Most likely, these are those who have hardened their hearts prior to hearing the Word - cf. Mt 13:15

3. The "birds" represent "the wicked one" (called "the devil" in Lk 8:12)
a. Who snatches away the Word from those whose hearts are hardened
b. Their condition therefore is one of being "blinded" by Satan to the gospel - cf. 2 Co 4:3-4
4. While Satan contributes to their blindness, it is precipitated by their own hardness of heart!

D. "THE STONY PLACES" (The Second Soil)...

1. This soil represents the one who...
a. "hears the word and immediately receives it with joy" - Mt 13:20
b. "yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while" - Mt 13:21a
c. "when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles" - Mt 13:21b
2. Some hear the Word and receive it with great joy...
a. But with no root, they are not grounded in the Word
b. So that when troubles arise, there is no endurance and stumbling occurs
3. Here we learn that an emotional reception without a strong foundation based upon the Word will not enable one to stand against tribulation and persecution

E. "AMONG THE THORNS" (The Third Soil)...

1. This soil represents the one who...
a. "hears the word" - Mt 13:22a
b. But whose ability to bear fruit is choked by:
1) "the cares of this world" - Mt 13:22b
2) "the deceitfulness of riches" - Mt 13:22c
3) "pleasures of life" (added in Lk 8:14)
2. How these three "thorns" can cause us to be unfruitful is explained in other portions of God's Word...
a. The cares of this world
1) Can cause us to be unprepared - cf. Lk 21:34-36
2) The evil in cares and anxieties is that they can detract our minds from what is truly important - cf. Lk 12:29-32
b. The deceitfulness of riches
1) The danger is described in 1 Ti 6:9-10
2) Again, the evil in riches lay in diverting our attention away from God, and feeling self-sufficient - 1 Ti 6:17
c. Pleasures of life
1) Those involving the flesh in particular divert our minds from the things of the Spirit - cf. Ga 5:17
2) Sowing to the flesh make it impossible to reap of the Spirit! - Ga 6:7-9
F. "THE GOOD GROUND" (The Fourth Soil)...

1. This soil represents the one who...
a. "hears the word and understands it" - Mt 13:23
b. "indeed bears fruit and produces" - Mt 13:23
c. Luke adds that he hears "the word with a noble and good heart", and then "keeps it and bears fruit with patience" - Lk 8:15
2. Those with "a noble and good heart", then, are the ones...
a. Who will understand the Word
b. Who will keep it, and with patience produce fruit in their lives!
3. They will be like the Bereans, who were commended for being "fair-minded", as manifested in the way they:
a. "received the word will all readiness"
b. "searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" - Ac 17:11
4. Note the importance of "understanding" in relation to "bearing fruit"...
a. Jesus made the connection between the two in this parable - Mt 13:23
b. Paul connects the two when he writes of the gospel producing fruit among the Colossians "since the day they heard (NASV says "understood") the grace of God in truth" - Co 1:5-6
-- When one "understands", they will more likely "bear fruit"; but the key to understanding is having a "good and noble heart" that is willing to listen and learn!

5. And what kind of "fruit" will one bear? There are different kinds...
a. The fruit of winning souls to Christ - Ro 1:13
b. The fruit of practical holiness - Ro 6:22
c. The fruit of sharing material things - Ro 15:27
d. The fruit of the Spirit (i.e., a Christ-like character) - Ga 5:22-23
e. The fruit of good works - Co 1:10
f. The fruit of praise & thanksgiving - He 13:15
6. An important observation is that not all will bear the same amount...
a. "some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" - Mt 13:23
b. As illustrated in The Parable of the Talents, some may be given more according to their ability to use what God has given them - Mt 25:14-15
c. Whatever our ability, we should exercise it accordingly - cf. 1 Pe 4:10-11
[With the explanation provided by Jesus Himself, we should have little problem understanding The Parable of The Sower and the spiritual truths Jesus was teaching.

However, it is one thing to understand it, quite another to make application of it. Seeking to make application in a thought-provoking
way, let me ask "What kind of soil are you?"]



1. If you have heard the gospel of Christ and His kingdom, but are not yet a Christian...

2. You may be in the process of hardening your heart the longer you wait!

3. You are susceptible to Satan's deception in some form, to blind you and not allow the Word of God to have its intended effect!


1. If you responded to the gospel at one time, but are not being grounded in the faith...

2. You will likely fall away when persecution or temptation comes your way!


1. If you responded to the gospel at one time, but are becoming too preoccupied with the cares, riches, and pleasures of this world...

2. You will not be able to bear much fruit!

-- And remember what Jesus said about branches that don't bear fruit! - Jn 15:1-6


1. If you have responded to the gospel, and are bearing fruit...

2. Then you have demonstrated several important things:
a. You have a good and noble heart!
b. You have come to understand the Word!
c. You have been keeping it with patience!
3. And so the Word of God has been able to produce its intended effect in you!


1. When Jesus finished telling His parable of the Sower, He cried out:

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" - Mt 13:9

2. Clearly from the explanation of Jesus Himself, we learn that not all those who have ears to hear, really listen!

3. It is important that we listen well when God's Word is being proclaimed, for that is how faith is obtained - Ro 10:17

4. How well have YOU listened to this parable of Jesus and His explanation?
a. If you are anything other than that like "the good soil", you need to repent today!
b. For in the next study, we learn what Jesus will do when He comes to gather His kingdom! - cf. Mt 13:24-30,36-43
Dear friends and brethren, may you truly have a good and noble heart...

Hear, examine, understand, and accept the gospel of Christ and the gospel of His kingdom!
Thanks for posting this ! I'll have to read it again ( I'm at work now ), when I'm at home.
An Alternative View

Another Way of Viewing the Parable: bible reference "Luke 8:11-15 given name Luke given name bible

The seed is the Word of God
Specifically inclusive of given name "on" Jesus given name guarantee of eternal life to all who simply trust in Him for it (see v 12) on the basis of Who He is (the Son of God) and what He accomplished, thru His death, burial & resurrection.

The soils represent the hearts of four different types of people.
Specifically in how how they respond to the Word of God.

Consider this parable is four snapshots, not as an ongoing video.
It gives still shots of four distinct types of people we all encounter when sharing the Gospel of Christ’s given name Grace given name.

1) First, we all encounter unbelievers who simply reject (thru unbelief) the Good News of Jesus Christ.
If you have ever exercised the privilege of sharing the Gospel with anyone you may have experienced this outright initial rejection of the Good News. In other cases you may have seen God give the increase as they came to faith in "on" Christ alone. You may have observed the progress of new believers in your church as they exemplified any or all of these spiritual snapshots at different times. Notice that not all of us grow spiritually at the same speed. Distinct from those that outright reject the Gospel, the spiritual Seed germinating eternal life in the soil (one’s heart & life) results in some growing slowly but steadily. Some grow slowly, then backslide. Some grow quickly at first, and then settle into slow steady growth.

Our Lord reveals the responsiveness of people in these four distinct categories.
1) One group rejects "on" Christ and never comes to faith.
2) A second group comes to faith (receives the Seed) and then later falls away from "on" Christ.
3) A third group comes to faith and God’s grace maintains their Christian profession till they physically die, but these believers have limited spiritual fruitfulness in their Christian life.
4) And a fourth group maintains their Christian profession to the end and bring forth much mature fruit, to the glory of God.

Obviously the fourth soil is most desirable.

Bringing forth fruit to maturity is the result that pleases and glorifies God the most. There is an evident progression from least desirable to most desirable depicted in these four soils of this parable.

There are two significant and different issues involved in this parable:
1) Eternal Salvation (represented by the Seed of Life received in faith)
2) Spiritual Approval (represented by the quality & quantity of spiritual fruitfulness)

The ultimate concern of this parable is over "on" Christ’s approval. However, in order to have approval, a person must also have His eternal salvation. Unsaved people will never be approved. So as we consider these soils we should consider their spiritual condition, are they saved or lost, and their quality of service, approved or disapproved.
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An Alternative View, continued...

There Will Be No Salvation or Approval for Unbelievers
All commentators recognize that the first soil represents unbelievers. This is not surprising since the Lord specifically identifies them as such: “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

One thing commentators often fail to notice about these people; however, is that they never believe. These “soils” never even receive the life giving Seed.

The Lord makes it clear here that whoever simply believes (trust) like a little child is eternally saved.

That is why Satan seeks to "snatch away the Seed" before it can germinate and give life; since once it germinates a person immediately has the eternal life, inherent in the Seed, and is thus secure forever.

Would there be a need for "on" Satan to expediently snatch away the seed to keep people from being saved initially, if he could also later snatch it away and take away God’s Eternal salvation.

In fact, that would be “probation” not “salvation”. Since given name "on" Jesus given name gives eternal life, once a person has it, no power in heaven or anywhere in the universe can take away that gift. Not even "on" Satan.

Those who fail to come to faith in "on" Christ do not have eternal life and will not have "on" Christ’s approval at His Judgment Seat, in fact they won’t even be permitted to appear at that judgment. The Judgment Seat of Christ is reserved for believers only.

There Will Be Salvation, But Not Approval, For Believers Who Fall Away
“A sower went out to sow his seed…some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture”. “But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away”. A shallow root system meant the plant lacked sufficient strength to survive in tough conditions.

That this person is a believer is clear from the context. “It sprang up” refers to germination of the seed. Germination symbolizes the start of eternal life. (Think of the Christian view of Pro-Life, if its conceived in the womb, it’s a living person and should not be aborted.)

This is one who has received eternal life, inherent in the Seed. This is confirmed by the fact that these type of people “believe even if only for a while.”

Unfortunately, this very verse has led to an odd theological theory. Some suggest that there is such a thing as temporary faith. Well, the text is clear that some believe only for a while and later fall away. So if that is what theologians meant by temporary faith, there would be no problem. However, by temporary faith some theologians mean a substandard type of faith that is in their view really not faith at all.

Referring to the heart of the rocky-soil person, one "works for salvation" author even states:

This kind of heart is enthusiastic but shallow. It responds positively but not with saving faith. There is no thought involved, no counting the cost. It is quick, emotional, euphoric, instant excitement without any understanding of the actual significance of discipleship. This is not genuine faith.

But how can this be squared with the text? The person name "on" Lord "on" Jesus person name clearly declares that they believed. The fact that it was only “for a while” does not negate the fact that they did in fact “believe.” Of course, one might argue that what they believed was not the saving message. In this context, that argument is unsupportable, in light of verse 12.

Remember why Satan snatched away the seed? “Lest they should believe and be saved.” The person name "on" Lord "on" Jesus person name made it clear that if they believed, they were saved, or born again, at the very moment of faith. When He says in verse 13 that this second group “believed for a while,” the text requires us to conclude that they believed the saving message if even for a while, prior to developing “spiritual alzheimers”.

There are only two possibilities here, and both include the fact that these are people who were saved at the moment of faith.

First, they were saved as long as they believed, but once they fell away, they lost their salvation. Second, they were saved forever at the moment of faith, and once they fell away, they remained saved (but lost out on things like present joy, approval at the Judgment Seat of Christ, eternal rewards, etc.).

The first option is actually a Scriptural impossibility, for eternal life is just that “eternal.” Compare bible reference "John 6:35-40" language "en" "on" given name "on" John given name 6:35-40. Once anyone eats the bread of life or drinks the water of life, he will never hunger or thirst again. given name "on" Jesus given name will never cast out anyone who comes to Him. He loses none of those whom the Father has given Him.

There is no time requirement in Scripture on saving faith. That is, at the very moment of faith a person is born again forever. Even if he only believes for a short time, he or she is secure in Christ as a child of God forever, and subject to His Fatherly discipline (see Hebrews 12)
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you spoke about bearing fruit. i want to point out that luke8:14 says and that which fell amoung thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth and are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life and bring NO FRUIT TO PERFECTION.

the word perfection/perfect a lot of times in the new testament means maturity.

verse 15 says but that on good ground are they which in an honest and good heart having heard the word keep it and bring forth fruit with patience.

keeping the word is obedience. the fruit is also in galatians 5:22 love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentelness,goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.

this parable i think is talking about maturity. spiritual maturity.
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So good to read. Good to realize what kind of seed you are and you can head back to the place where you belong, in the fields with the 30 60 and 100 fold harvest.
One other major Lesson about that parable of the sower our Lord Jesus gave.

It's about agriculture ideas. So we are to understand it in association with how real agriculture works, that of preparing a field for sowing seed. God first gave this idea in Isaiah 5 about His vineyard, how He cleared away the stones, fenced it, planted it, and when it should have produced good fruit it produced poison berries.

All those objects, the wayside (hard compacted dirt), stones, thorns, fowls, point to the workings of the children of darkness first mentioned in the Old Testament Books. So just as with real agriculture one must clear away those things, break up the soil, clear away stones that will make the seed's roots weak, and clear thorn bushes that take up nutrients the seed needs, and protect the seed from birds eating it so it can take root, they all point to allowing deception by Satan and his workers on this earth.
The thing I noticed was the one seeding didnt just look for the good ground ! He seeded all around him for the best chance of a harvest . I can tell you when the seed came up in me it pushed rocks out of the way and split what I thought was crusty bad soil ! May be we should do the same seed all you can that we may see the harvest in plenty for the master of the fields ! ..Rev
Question, which soil types produced fruit unto salvation?
It seems only one does so.

Thanks for posting this 7 years ago chad. The parable of the sower is the key to all the parables in a sense. If we don't understand this one, how can we understand any of the other ones?


It seems only one does so.

Thanks for posting this 7 years ago chad. The parable of the sower is the key to all the parables in a sense. If we don't understand this one, how can we understand any of the other ones?


I totally agree. Some people don't see that for whatever reason.
Curtis is what your saying that this parables suggest that there is no salvation for the carnal christian?
Curtis is what your saying that this parables suggest that there is no salvation for the carnal christian?
The very first fruit that is produced in any person who hears the Word of God, and protects it (keeps it) from the things that would choke the Word from produces its fruit is the new birth.

1Pe 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

There are many people in the Church today that have never been born again, yet they go to Church, and they hear the message every week. This is what the parable of the sower reveals to us. Many endure for awhile, many receive the Word with joy, but because of the lusts of other things, the deceitfulness of riches, the cares of this world and persecution , choke the Word from producing it's most important fruit, which is salvation.
Curtis is what your saying that this parables suggest that there is no salvation for the carnal christian?
A "carnal" Christian is just that a child of God who does not take the Word of God and "renew" his/her carnal mind. That does not mean they are not saved, it only means they will a lot of trouble in their lives discovering the perfect will of God for themselves.
Perparing the soil is key.
Sometimes when the seed is sown in the rocky places, the hard places, the way side, what we need to do is either transplant these into good soil OR prepare the ground thoroughly before sowing seed, and we must also sow the seed at the right time for best results.

Sometimes this takes time and much effort...! But its worth it! Weeding is something we all need to do! And we must also protect these seed from hungry birds! Remember Jesus said the soil is the condition of our hearts. Do not despair if you have clay or rocks, or sand..good soil can be grown if you put the work into it.

I will let you in on a secret...manure and compost!!!
Preparing the soil, is very important and then when the seed has been planted proper care and nourishment is also needed during the entire growing period.

"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." Hosea 10:12

"I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." I Cor 3:6-7

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;" Ecc 3:1-2