The Hidden Teaching of the Parables

Justin Johnson

There are two mistakes people make when trying to understand the parables of Jesus.

1. They think they are intended to make things clearer.
2. They think they were given to reveal truth about the church today.

Parable Riddles

A parable is not a children’s story, illustration, or proverb. A parable is not intended to make things clear, but to teach a hidden meaning through fiction, allegory, or a riddle.

Why would someone speak in parables? This is exactly what the disciples asked Jesus after he told the parable of the sower (Matt 13:10). His response was so that certain people would not see, hear, and know (Matt 13:11-15).

The disciples of Jesus repeatedly asked Jesus to explain the parables after they were spoken. Unto them a clearer explanation was given, but to the others it was not.

The parables of Jesus were hidden teachings to the crowd that he taught clearly at other times to his disciples.

Parables About Christ’s Ministry to Israel

A failure to rightly divide Christ’s ministry to Israel from Christ’s ministry to the church has led to an attempt to force the church of today into the parables where it does not belong.

The parables do not speak of the gospel of the grace of God, the preaching of the cross, or the Body of Christ. These were all kept secret until revealed later to the apostle Paul.

The parables of Jesus spoke of prophetic things, Israel, and mysteries of the kingdom (not the body of Christ). See Rom 15:8.

Hidden Teaching Made Clear

The parables themselves are fictions, allegories, and riddles, but Jesus said their meaning should be clear to the remnant of Israel who believed he was the Messiah.

When the parables are compared to Jesus’ clear teaching to the little flock of Israel, their meanings become much easier and very plain.

There are at least seven different things taught in parables that were hidden to those without ears to hear, but were taught at other times clearly to the disciples.

Many of the greater parables, such as the parable of the sower, the prodigal son, and the marriage feast, contain more than one of these teachings.

1. Christ came to seek and save that which is lost (Mat 18:11; Luke 19:10).

The parable of the lost sheep and the good Samaritan speak about this principle that Israel was lost and Christ came as their shepherd to bring them back into the flock. Jesus told his disciples to go to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 10:6). Israel that did not consider itself lost would not be looking for the Shepherd.

2. Sell all (Matt 13:46; Luke 12:33).

Rich men had a hard time following Jesus, but his disciples knew exactly what he was saying when he instructed them to sell everything they had. A handful of parables speak about this including the parable of the rich man (Luke 12:16-21).

3. First shall be last; last shall be first (Matt 19:30).

Jesus taught this principle repeatedly to his disciples who were constantly vying for a top seat in the kingdom thrones. Jesus taught them to be humble, serve one another, and be last. The parable of the faithful servant and others teach this same thing (Matt 24:45-51).

4. Many are called, but few are chosen (Matt 22:14; Matt 20:16).

Jesus came to cause division in Israel (Luke 12:51). Though the gospel would be preached to all, only some of Israel would enter the kingdom. It is the corruption of this teaching to Israel that has led to the errors of Calvinism. Parables such as the the parable of the net and the gathering in the wheat with the tares speak to this.

5. Ye shall know them by their fruit (Matt 7:16).

When many in Israel thought the kingdom promises would come to them by virtue of their heritage and roots, Jesus taught it will only come to those plants that bear fruit. Jesus used fig trees and the tares to parable this teaching.

6. The Lord leaves and returns (Matt 25:14-20).

According to the prophecy, Israel expected the Messiah to come once and setup his kingdom. A prophetic mystery was that Christ would come, leave, and return to setup his kingdom. His disciples were privy to this information in the parables, but those who did not know Christ did not know.

7.Watch, prepare and be ready; for ye know not when (Matt 24:42).

Jesus taught his disciples many times to prepare themselves for his departure and his return in judgment. They must endure to the end to be saved, and if they fell asleep, were caught unprepared, or fell away then they would lose their seat in the kingdom. The parable of the ten virgins is the classic example of this teaching.


The parables do not speak at all about the dispensation of God’s grace, the mystery of Christ, or the church that is one Body. What they do teach is what the remnant of Israel needed to know to inherit their promised kingdom.

Those that had ears to hear understood.

Today, if we have eyes to see the revelation of the mystery, then we understand that the parables contained teaching to remnant Israel and not to the church today.

Top of the Page
Article Index
Published: February 11, 2017
Last Modified: September 5, 2019
Receive articles like this in our weekly email update sent free to subscribers.