Summary: Jesus spoke another parable to them, He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”
Jesus spoke another parable to them, He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”
We need to thank God in these days of deception we are not left to any human opinions or authority, nor are the meaning of the parables of Matthew 13 open to argument. Jesus explained for us the first two and the seventh, and it is obvious that the remaining four must be interpreted in strict accord with Jesus’ interpretation of the first two and the seventh. There is a noticeable connection between the first two parables in relation to the beginning of Christianity and its present form. There is a noticeable connection between the third and fourth that deals with the growth and corruption that entered Christianity. The third parable deals with the outward growth of Christianity. The fourth reveals its internal aspect and secret corruption.
The popular interpretation of the parable of the leaven is the "leaven" represents the Gospel and its power, the "woman" the Church. In Scripture leaven is used in a negative sense. The popular interpretation uses it a positive sense. The leaven is the Gospel that is good. The "woman," is "the church" or the ministers of the Gospel. The three measures of meal represent God’s elect. A second interpretation claims the leaven represents all mankind. The latter explains the parable as follows: As the result of the Gospel, and by means of its assimilating power, the mass of humanity is ultimately penetrated, affected, and blessed. So firmly is this belief embedded in the minds of church-goers that it is hard for them to tear loose from it.
It is apparent at once that our understanding and interpretation of this parable depends on a correct definition of the "leaven." If this is a figure of the Gospel, and if the meal represents the human race, then it necessarily follows that, ultimately, all must be regenerated or at least reformed by the preaching of the Gospel. If the "leaven" is the symbol of corrupting evil, and the meal represents the pure truth of God, and that this parable is a picture of the Christian profession, then it necessarily follows that, ultimately, the truth of God is to be corrupted by the tares planted among the wheat.
If the popular view is correct then Jesus contradicts Himself. What He has said in the first three parables contradicts the idea of the conversion of the world or even world reformation through the preaching of the Gospel. In the first parable Jesus did not say the good seed would produce fruit in every part of the field. He said most of it would produce no fruit. He did not say the sower would in time find the condition of the field improved. He said the condition of the field would get worse. In the second parable the picture which He drew of the coming harvest expressly forbids such a thought, and positively excludes the idea of world-conversion in this Age. In the third parable He predicted that Christianity would develop into such a corrupt condition Satan and his followers will find shelter in it and would rule over it. How then can this fourth parable teach the very opposite?