Mat 13:44 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in a field. Which a man having found, hid it, and for joy thereof goeth, and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Is like. Some think that this parable was not spoken to all the listeners, but was put forth to the Apostles alone, in the house; this is concluded from verse 36 (Euthymius, in loc). It would appear more probable that it was spoken with the others above. But as the Apostles asked for an explanation, not of all the others, but only of that of the cockles, after they had returned to the house, it seems probable that the Evangelist, after this one, related how Christ returned to the house, and the Apostles asked for an explanation of it. The same may be said of all the events which follow in this chapter.
So far, in the four parables of the sower, the grain of mustard seed, the good and bad seed, and the leaven, Christ described two peculiarities of the kingdom of heaven—how it takes a different effect upon different persons, and how from a small beginning it gains a great increase. Christ now puts forth its value, to show of how great worth men ought to think it, and with what diligence they should seek it.
The kingdom of heaven in this passage ought to be understood in the same sense as in the preceding parables; that is, as the faith, the Gospel, and the evangelical doctrine—as S. Ambrose (Serm. ii. on Ps. cxviii.), Euthymius, Theophylact—although some think that Christ is the kingdom of heaven, as S. Irenaeus (iv. 43), S. Hilary, S. Athanasius (Quest, xliv., if he be the author), S. Jerome (In Comment. and Vigil, iii. de Incarn.). Others, again, say that this kingdom is the Old and New Testaments, as S. Augustin (lib. i., Quest. Evangel. quest. 13), Bede. S. Jerome also approves this opinion.
Unto a treasure. A thing which cannot be estimated. Of those whose wealth is so great that it cannot be told, we say, “They have a treasure”. So S. Paul (1 Cor 2:9).
Hidden. Because it was not heard of by the world (Isa 44:4; 1 Cor 2:7).
Which a man, havingfound, hid it. It is not necessary to adapt this to the thing signified by the parable, for, as has been said before, it is not a part of the parable, but an addition; nor is it said to teach anything but to fill up the parable and describe what is done when we find a treasure and cannot immediately remove it; we conceal it lest, before we can procure implements for digging, another come and carry it off. S. Jerome and Bede, however, say that he who finds the kingdom of heaven hides it in his heart; that is, cherishes and preserves it, that it may not escape him. If this mean anything, it only seems to mean that he who finds the kingdom of heaven—that is, the Gospel—ought to be careful that it do not slip from his grasp, and to take all pains to secure it. This is to hide it, not that another may not find it, but that he himself may not lose it. For, although he who finds a treasure hides it, lest another should find it, because if so, he himself would lose it, the parable in that respect is not like the kingdom of heaven, for one does not lose it because another finds it, for it can be equally found and equally possessed by all; although Scripture does sometimes speak as if one could not find it unless another lose it (Rom 11:19; Rev 3:11). This, however, was said in reference to the branches of trees and the crown of kings; for a fresh shoot cannot be grafted into a tree unless the old branch be broken off, nor can anyone seize a crown unless another has lost it.
For joy thereof selleth all that he hath. This does not mean that the Gospel is to be bought, for Christ says, “Freely have you received, freely give ” (Matt 10:8), but that it is to be estimated so highly, that there is nothing which the man who has found it ought not to do to obtain it, even though all his goods be sold and lost, or infamy endured, or even life itself sacrificed. Christ named goods rather than life, and honour, and anything else, if the man have anything, that He might speak in accordance with the custom of men, who, to gain a treasure, will sell all that they have. In a word, this parable signifies only what is said in another place in other words. In Matt 10:37, Christ names all the most precious things which whoever, when the need arises, does not part from for the kingdom of heaven, is not worthy to gain it.
Mat 13:45 Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant seeking good pearls.
Mat 13:46 Who when he had found one pearl of great price, went his way, and sold all that he had, and bought it.
The kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant. The kingdom of heaven is not like the man, but the pearl; as, in the former parable, it was compared not to the man who found it, but to the treasure that was found. The meaning, however, is that the same thing happens in the finding and in the gaining of the kingdom of heaven. If any merchant seeking for pearls find one good one, he goes and sells all that he has, that he may buy it, as explained on Matt 11:16, 17. We ought to resemble the merchant, and, when we have found the kingdom of heaven, we ought to spare no pains, no expense, nothing whatever, that we may possess it. This parable has the same meaning as the former, the matter only is different. “Good” in the Greek is καλους μαργαριτας; (pulchras margaritas), “beautiful,” but in this kind of merchandise whatever is beautiful is good (quæ pulchræ sunt eædem bonæ).
Pearls. This is an instance of the species being put for the genus; that is, a pearl is put for every kind of precious stone. The word margarita, or margaritum, means only that kind of single pearl which is found in shell-fish, and which bears the name of pearl in almost all the languages of Europe.
Mat 13:47 Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a net cast into the sea, and gathering together of all kinds of fishes.
Mat 13:48 Which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting by the shore, they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad they cast forth.
Mat 13:49 So shall it be at the end of the world. The angels shall go out, and shall separate the wicked from among the just.
Mat 13:50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 13:51 Have ye understood all these things? They say to him: Yes.
Is like. The parable seems to be a kind of postil of the former ones of the good seed and the tares. But the Evangelist does not appear to have kept the order of events, because it has the same meaning; and we see that the others which resemble it in this respect are put together, as the parable of the mustard seed and the leaven (Matt 13:31, 33), and the hidden treasure with the pearl. By the kingdom of heaven we may here understand either the Gospel, as in the former parables, or, what amounts to the same thing, the Church. Whichever we understand, we have a strong argument against modern heretics. For, if we understand the Gospel, Christ signifies that not all who receive the Gospel, that is, the faith, will be saved, but they only who are the good fishes, that is, they who have not only faith, but also good works; for all are fishes, that is, all are Christians, all are faithful, but those are evil, these good. Against this, the heresy of the above teaches that all who have faith will be saved.
Mat 13:52 He said unto them: Therefore every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like to a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old.
Therefore. It is not easy to say what was the inference of Christ in the word “therefore”. Some explain it thus; “Therefore (supply) because you have understood, I say to you every scribe,” &c. For He had asked the disciples whether they understood all these things, and they had answered “Yes”. “Because, therefore, you have understood, I add, every scribe,” &c. Others read it thus: “Therefore—supply—I have asked, because every scribe,” &c. Euthymius
thinks the word “therefore” not causal, but affirmative, as if Christ had said: “So that every scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like,” &c. The opinion of S. Augustin (Quests, on S. Matt., q. 96) seems the best of all. Christ had compared the kingdom of heaven to a treasure hidden in a field. He had asked the disciples whether they understood. They replied, “Yes”. He added “therefore,” that is, since the kingdom of heaven is like this treasure, every scribe instructed in it ought to bring out of it things both new and old.
Scribe. A Doctor instructed in the Law, as explained on Matt 2:4. Christ calls the Doctor of the Gospel by his legal name, “Scribe”. Euthymius says that Christ means Himself, but it is more probably a general expression, by which He describes to the Apostles the duties of a teacher of the Gospel.
Instructed in the kingdom of heaven. εις την βασιλειαν (into the kingdom). Some think that εις is here put for εν, but although these two words are sometimes used for one another, it does not seem so here. It seems more suitable that we should render it “Into the kingdom of heaven “—that is, “ad regnum” than “in it”—when we are speaking of those who are instructed in preaching it. Our translator seems to have read εν την βασιλειαν, unless we say
that, in the Latin version, “In regno” is wrongly read for “In regnum”—but it would then be necessary to prove the fault by the authority of some ancient codex.
Is like to a man that is an householder. For as it is the duty of every householder to provide his household with food for the body, so it is that of the Doctor of the Gospel to nourish the people of Christ with spiritual food (1 Cor 3:2).
Out of his treasure. That is, out of his stores. Christ used the word “treasure” to signify whatever was set aside and concealed.
New things and old. All kinds of food for the support of his own family, or his invited guests, by one who not niggardly, or sparingly, but liberally, supplies his family with every variety of food, according to their standing and quality.
“To bring out things new and old,” though apparently there is no other instance in which the expression is used in Scripture, appears to have been a Hebrew proverb. By this part of the parable, we are taught that a Doctor of the Gospel ought to be furnished with every kind of divine knowledge, every species of example, every manner of similitude, that he may be able to instruct every man according to his capacity. By “new things and old,” almost all the ancient Fathers understood the Old Testament and the New (S. Hilary, S. Chrysostom, S. Jerome, Bede, Theophylact, Euthymius, in loc.; and S. Augustin, Quests, on S. Matt., 17), whom the modern heretics wrongly reject. For as they acknowledge that a teacher of the Gospel ought to be furnished with every kind of learning, whence can they procure it better than from the New and Old Testaments? For these great authorities would not say that Christ desired to point to the Old and New Testaments, of which the latter was not yet in existence; but what Christ had said, generally, of all stores of knowledge, they fitly and prudently applied to the Old and New Testaments.