Matthew 13:45-58 Part 2

Getting our minds set back in the history once again, let me remind you that all of chapters twelve and thirteen have to do with one single Sabbath day.  Jesus had healed a number of people and had had that confrontation with the Scribes and Pharisees; He had told them that they would receive no sign from Him except the sign of Jonah.

And, then, because of the crowds at the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He had climbed into a boat to deliver the Kingdom parables.  We have now read and examined the parables of the Sower, the zizanium in the field, the mustard seed, the leaven, the hidden treasure, the pearl, and the net thrown into the sea.  Seven Kingdom parables plus an explanation of why He spoke to the Jews in parabolic language.

And all of these – the parables and the explanation of why He spoke in parables – are taken directly from the Law and the prophets!  And we have also seen in John’s Revelation, for the comfort of all the new Churches, the fullness of all these things come to pass.  And we know for a certainty that we in the twentieth century are the recipients, in Christ, of all these new things.  It is an exhilarating experience to realize, especially the first time it’s opened up to us, that we are the direct fruit of what’s happening here in the text; and that this new Kingdom in Christ will proceed, in history, to do what God has promised!

Jesus now, in verse fifty-two, proceeds to deliver a parable about the parables.  It is, as I described last Lord’s Day, a capstone to the seven Kingdom parables.  Theologians might call it a hermeneutic parable, for it calls our attention to the way things must be interpreted.

But, of course, it is much more than that!  As we read it together once more, remember that Jesus had just asked His apostles, in verse fifty-one, “Have you understood all these things?”  He was, naturally, referring to the full meaning of the seven Kingdom parables.  And they replied to Him, “Yes.”

And then verse fifty-two reads: 


“So He said to them, ‘on account of this, every Scribe instructed in the Kingdom of the Heavens – like is to a man to a housemaster who is bringing out from his treasure new and old.’”


Now, I know that many of my translations sound strange; and this one is no exception to that.  Scripture isn’t written in twentieth century English, and it’s not supposed to sound like a contemporary novel!  It’s supposed to sound like 2000 year old Greek!  And the minister is to supply preaching and teaching so that it becomes understandable!  Translators want to smooth things out and make the text sound like modern American so people will buy their translations.  But there are serious consequences to that!

And this is a good text with which to illustrate that.  One might think, from a reading of a modern English translation, that the Scribe is likened to the householder.  It might read something like this:  “therefore every Scribe who’s brought into the kingdom is like a householder who takes new and old things out of his treasury.”

But the problem with that, as it is so very often, is that the correct sense of the statement is missed.  Look at the translation again – it reads, “…on account of this every Scribe instructed in the Kingdom of the Heavens- like is to a man to a housemaster who is bringing out from his treasure new and old.”

The Scribe isn’t the housemaster!  The parable says that the Scribe who is instructed in the Kingdom is compared to a man in relation to the housemaster.  On the one hand you have a Scribe in relation to the Kingdom; and on the other hand the housemaster brings out new and old. 

On the one hand, the Scribe is the recipient of the instruction of the Kingdom; and on the other hand the man is the beneficiary of new and old from the housemaster.

Now, the Scribe, as we’ve seen before, was the advanced scholar – the doctor of law, the wisest of the wise.  He was the Pharisee who had risen to the top and had been given a seat, or a chair.  And you remember that Jesus had refused to allow a Scribe to go across the water (Sea of Galilee) to Gadara with him, because the Scribe represented Israel, and Israel was to be left behind and separated out!  So, the referral in the parable is not to the Scribes of Israel!

But Jesus is here transferring the scribal insignia (mantle) to His apostles!  They are the ones who have now been instructed in the Kingdom – they are the ones who have received the wisdom of the age and the opening of the mysteries of the Kingdom, hidden from the foundation!  They are the ones who will do what the Scribes of Israel would not do, and did not do.

And their relationship to the Kingdom is here compared to the relationship of a man to a housemaster – who brings out from his treasure new and old.  Now, some have even re-translated the word “housemaster” and called it “householder.”  And they’ve done that because “householder” fits better with their translation that the Scribe is the householder.

But the word is clearly “housemaster,” or house ruler – literally house despot – and it always refers parabolically to the King!  So this verse does not say that the Scribe instructed in the Kingdom is like a housemaster who brings new and old from his treasure.

What it says, again, is that these new apostles’ relationship to the Kingdom – like is the relationship of a man to the King Who brings out of his treasure new and old!  The treasures of the King are the mysteries of the Kingdom hidden from the foundation, and the apostles are the men of distinction now set apart for instruction in the wisdom of those mysteries.  When questioned as to whether they understood these mysteries, they said, “Yes.”

So this is truly a parable about the parables, for Jesus is revealing all these things to these twelve men.  And they are to be the foundation of the New Israel – the New Scribes of the Kingdom.  They are the ones given the direct discipline from the housemaster; and the New Kingdom, which is to cover all the nations of the earth, begins with their preaching and their wisdom!  They replace the old professors of the traditions of the elders who are “about to pass away,” and they form the nucleus of the “New” around which is to be built the New Heavens and the New Earth!

Now, the “housemaster” – the Lord of the house – is bringing out new and old from His treasure.  The word is “casting out” or “throwing out” or bringing out; and it is in the present tense – continual.  So the picture here is that the Lord is continually bringing out of His treasure, for these apostles, the mysteries of His Kingdom – hidden from the foundation of this nation!

They are not like the Scribes of the old Israel who saw themselves as the ones from whom wisdom originally came, but the New Scribes are pictured here as ones who are recipients of instruction in the Kingdom.  The old Scribes, the ones whom Jesus separated out for judgment, were set up as the source and fountainhead of wisdom and learning for the nation.  But Jesus’ apostles are seen as receiving that instruction, by grace and providence, so that they would preach and teach that which had been delivered to them!  And the result of that is that, when they spoke, the people heard Jesus!

It wasn’t like the speaking of the old Scribes of Israel who, when they spoke, the people heard self-exaltation and tradition and the wisdom of men!  When the apostles spoke, it was with the wisdom and words that they had received from God the Son.

So the very axis upon which the old Israel turned – the elemental principle upon which rested the life of the nation – had become the Pharisaical system, the Scribes being the cream at the top of the group.  And their wisdom and teaching and instruction and leadership had replaced the revelation of God in the Law and the prophets.

But the new Scribes received the revelation of the Kingdom from God, and that was to be the foundation – the axis – upon which the New Israel was to be built.  No more tradition of the elders; no more wisdom of men; no more twisting of the Law and the prophets for personal reasons; no more moralisms; no more self-exaltation; no more re-interpretation because of situation change; no more “human-centered” Gospel!  The New Scribes spoke the revelation of God, and the whole world was to be conquered by the King through these words!

Now.  What does Jesus mean when He says that the Lord of the house brings out new and old?  What is it that the King brings out of His treasury for the New Scribes of the New Heavens and the New Earth?

If the old Scribes have been separated out because of their self-originating wisdom; if they’ve been judged and condemned because of their humanistic wisdom and twisting of the revelation of God and their self-exalting teaching, then they don’t have the new or the old!  They’ve left the foundations of the truth completely, so they’re entirely out of the picture!

So Jesus isn’t replacing something upon which the old nation of Israel was supposed to be built!  He’s replacing that which the nation has become!  He’s replacing a nation and a pharisaical and scribal system which had completely left the revelation of God!

So when Jesus says to His apostles – the new Scribes of the Kingdom – that He was continually bringing out of his treasure new and old, He doesn’t mean He is retaining in the New Kingdom that which Israel had become.  In fact, He’s destroying everything that it had become.  Everything about it.

What He does mean is that the New Kingdom is the providential progression from that which was laid from the foundation!  New and old (the number of both of those being plural).

So now we have to go to the Scriptures for an examination of what Jesus means here when He says that the new Scribes of the Kingdom are continually being instructed in the new and the old from the Kingdom treasury?  The mysteries of the Kingdom!

And the first thing we have to recognize is that the Scriptures use two different words which are translated “new.”  The first one, “neos,” is used to describe something in terms of “kind” and “time.”  It means “previously non-existent”; that which has just made its appearance; new in age; not there before.  A young child is often called “neos” in Scripture.  And that terminology still carries over into the twentieth century with medical words such as the “neo-natal” ward at the hospital.  That’s the section of the hospital dealing with “new” babies.

And there is also the second word that is translated “new.”  It is, “kainos.”  And this word is not used specifically to describe something new in kind or new in age.  It doesn’t have anything to do with those concepts.  It’s used to indicate something new in a qualitative sense.  It is new in nature compared with that which was before!  It has an eschatological content in that it is a “fulfillment” of that which came before; and, in that sense, it is “better.”

So when Jesus says that His new Scribes are receiving both new and old from the Kingdom treasury, he’s not saying to them that they are receiving that which is brand new and previously non-existent; they’re receiving a fulfillment of that which came before; and it’s better!  I’ll expound on that some more in a minute.

But what about the “old”?  Jesus says they’re receiving both new and old from the Kingdom treasury!  Now, the meaning of “old” has to be understood from its usage in context.  Much of the time the word means that which is obsolete and destroyed – abrogated – in the New Kingdom.  Because, in this sense, the “old” is everything connected with the fall of man and his subjection to the distress and death of a transitory life separated from God!  And that, of course, results in God’s wrath for the wages of sin.

So when the “old” is used, in this sense, it is contrasted with eschatological “newness” of life, which is the salvation and healing given to men when they are crucified with Christ and raised in Him to this “newness.”  (Romans chapter six, verses three and following)

Because Jesus is the “New Man,” and he who is faithing in Him is born anew to a new life, the old life which was alienated from God is dead!  It is without power or rights!  So it must be given over daily to death.

First Corinthians five, verse seven says this:  “Purge out therefore the “old” leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.  For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.…  That happens to be Paul’s commentary of Exodus twelve, verse nineteen which has to do with the commandments for the Passover feast where the “old” leaven had to be eliminated before Passover.  The “old” leaven of sin and disobedience must be eliminated before Passover.  The “old” leaven of sin and disobedience must be cleaned out to make room for the new life of obedience.  Jesus, being the New Man, makes the old obsolete!  It is abrogated!

And it’s this sense-of-the-old that has to be taken to verses like Romans seven, verse six which says, “But now we are delivered from the Law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit and not the oldness of the letter….”

The “old” here is that which is connected to the fall of man and his subjection to death and the wages of sin and the wrath of God.  It is the “just” payment for disobedience of God’s Law, for the Law condemns those who are disobedient.  So those “under the letter of the Law” are under its judgment and condemnation!

But in Christ we are delivered from the condemnation of the Law; and that “old” realm of fallenness and sin and death is crucified with Christ.  And we no longer live under the crushing condemnation of God’s Holy Law.  We are taken out from under that, and we now live in the newness of the Spirit.  We are discharged from the condemning holiness of the Law, and we are set free from its captivity.  Our lives under its crushing judgment is “old.”  It’s obsolete now, since we are free to serve in the Spirit.

Another way that the term “old” is used in this same sense is with reference to the old Israel which had apostasized from God’s Law.  In chapter fifteen of Matthew Jesus condemns the Scribes of old Israel for their teaching of the “tradition of the elders,” and who, by doing so, “make void the WORD of God.”  But this is not the “old” Israel that God had set aside for Himself as holy!  Israel had “voided” itself of the adoption covenant.  It had “divorced” itself from God by harlotry and was worthy only of annihilation.  It had placed itself under the condemnation of the “letter,” and it received the sanction of that Law:  For it did not recognize the Way out from under that condemnation.

But, let’s get back to the text.   Jesus did not use the term “old” in either of these two ways here in verse fifty-one.  What He means by the new Scribes being instructed by the “new” and the “old” from the Kingdom treasury is that the disaffection of the state of Israel from the grace of God did not interrupt the continuity of God’s Covenant promises!  The mysteries of the Kingdom were from the foundation!  From the beginning of the state of Israel it was this way!  And the “old’ – the Law and the prophets – spoke of Christ; and He is their fullness.

So in this sense, the “old” is that which was – from the beginning.  And by His providence God progressively directs it to its fullness in His Son Jesus.  And this is the “new’ in the qualitative sense, for it is better!  Compared to “the old,” which was hidden in the mysteries of the Kingdom from the foundation, the revelation of those mysteries in Christ is “new”!

And it is in this use of the word “new” that we see all these new things revealed to us in the New Testament, isn’t it?  Listen to the apostle John in his first letter to the churches:


“Brethren, I write no new Commandment unto you, but an old Commandment which you had from the beginning.  The old Commandment is the Word which you have heard from the beginning.  Again, a new Commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you; because the darkness is past, and the true Light now shines….”


The Commandment is old, but now it is better – it’s new – because the true Light now shines and darkness has been put away!

Jeremiah thirty-one foretells a “new” Covenant in Christ Jesus, and the writer of Hebrews says that it is a “better” one.  And Jesus says that His blood is the blood of a New Covenant.  And in that New Covenant there is a New Heavens and a New Earth; and a New Jerusalem; and a New Name; and a New Song; in fact “all things have become New” according to Revelation chapter twenty-one, verse five.  Jesus said, “Truly I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it New in the Kingdom of God.”

The New creation is the glorious end of the revelation of God’s salvation.  Paul said, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing; nor uncircumcision, but a New Creation.”  (Galatians chapter six)  “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new….”  (Second Corinthians chapter five)

In Galatians four Paul describes a new reality in terms of adoption.  And there is a daily process of renewal in which we put to death that which is old.  (Romans seven, verse six)  And Paul says that there is a New way of life hidden with Christ in God.  And he says, “…you have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him….”

So there’s this “New Age” which has dawned with Christ; and it brings a New Creation and a New Man.  Romans six, four says:


 “Therefore we are co-buried in Him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been co-planted in the likeness of His death, we shall also be of His resurrection; knowing this, that our old man is crucified in Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that hence forth we should not serve sin….”


In this “New Age” is the existence of the New Man – and the appropriation of the New Man.  The new humanity is Christ and His Body.  The Church is, indeed, a New humanity in Him.  A New Covenant, a New Age, a New Heavens and a New Earth – all “better” than the former.  But all established of old.  For it was promised to Abraham our father – “for in thee shall all nations be blessed.”  So much “new” – and so much “old.”

Our Lord Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abrogate the Law and the prophets; I did not come to abrogate, but to be their fullness.”  “So He said to them, ‘on account of this every Scribe instructed in the Kingdom of the heavens – like is to a man to a housemaster who is bringing out from His treasure new and old.’”