Luke 8:1-18 How to study a parable

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How to study the bible; 2 different questions that need to stay separated

2 camps:
1. The bible is a living Word that God uses in new ways with each person. It says whatever it means to you.
2. I don’t interpret the bible. I just follow what it says.
Both methods fail to keep the questions separated from one another.
What does it say?
The bible only says one thing. Whatever the author meant for the audience to understand. That is what the bible says.
What the bible says has the authority of God. It is without error and good to teach, rebuke, and restore us in our sanctification.
What does it mean?
This is our interpretation of the scripture. The question what does it mean to you? What do we think we see, that Luke’s original audience couldn’t. How is the Holy Spirit applying the words in our circumstance, our life?
How do the two questions relate to each other?
“What does it say” always trumps “What does it mean”
What does that look like, practically?
If you think the Holy Spirit is telling you something, or showing you something that another scripture contradicts then you are wrong.
If you think the scripture is telling you something and you scour the bible and don’t see any contradiction you are free to think it might be true. (warning: it does not have the authority of scripture)
TULIP; the 5 points of Calvinism are an interpretation
Prophetic understanding
Seeing God in creation
God speaking to us in prayer
Baptism by immersion
These are all subject to our interpretation and are to be accountable to what the scripture says but they are not useless

How to study a parable; Why go through this long explanation? It’s boring, well not for me, maybe for you ;)

I’m not asking what does the parable mean, what is our interpretation, how does it apply to our circumstance?
I’m simply asking what did Jesus communicate to the people standing there in front of Him?
What is a parable?
A parable is a story that is told along side a truth in order to explain it.
It’s longer than a metaphor, they usually take story form, but it’s not an allegory.
The definition of parable really comes to light when you compare it to an allegory.
An allegory is a story filled with symbolism. Everything in an allegory has a double meaning. It’s basically a puzzle of symbolism.
A parable is not like that
A parable works with a truth like a sharp blade. Parables are stories used to make clear and refine more difficult, and in this case spiritual, truths.
Unlike allegories parables only make a concise point.
This is important because the more you add to a parable the less effective it becomes. When we preach parables and fill them with hidden meaning we actually blunt, their otherwise razor sharp, purpose.

Read Luke 8:1-4

The backdrop for the parable, the audience
12 disciples (at least), these women who are using their own money to fund Jesus mission, and a large crowd.

Read Luke 8:5-8

4 types of soils
Soil that was used as a path
2 fates for that type of soil, they are either crushed by foot traffic or birds come and devour them
2. Rocky soil
This is soil that was tilled and had good soil on top, but underneath was a layer of rock. So when the roots tried to grow they were trapped. They couldn’t go deep enough so the plant sprouted quickly. When the heat came they dried up and died.
3. Soil full of thorns
After the seed was thrown the thorns grew and covered the little plant. Their roots wrapped around and strangled the plant that was trying to grow.
4. Good soil
The good soil isn’t trampled, doesn’t have a layer of rock underneath, isn’t full of the seeds of thorns and thistles. The plant grows, the roots spread deep and wide. When the heat comes the plant perseveres. There aren’t thorns growing up around. Birds don’t come and eat the seeds.

Read Luke 8:9-10

“Though seeing” etc. is a prophesy from Isaiah 6:9
Jesus had 2 reasons to tell parables
1. To make clear a teaching, the standard reason
2. Jesus spoke in parables as a judgement so that people could not understand
“He who has hears to hear, let them hear”
A command; If can hear me listen. Therefore care for the way you hear.
I kind of cheated. I picked this parable because Jesus tells us exactly what He’s trying to communicate.

Read Luke 8:11-15

Each soil is a person listening to the Word being spread.

Read Luke 8:16-18 : 2 parables right after another. They have the same message.

Focus on therefore: “Consider carefully how you listen.”


Be careful that satan doesn’t snatch the words out of your heart. Be careful that God’s testing of your faith doesn’t find you weak. With no root in God’s word, but instead a fair weather christian that only has faith when things are good. Be careful that you don’t let the worries of health, wealth, and prosperity grow up around you because they will choke out your faith. Instead listen with a noble and good heart. Let the words penetrate deep into your soul so that you will persevere in the trials, throw away the chains of this world, and when satan comes to steal the words from your heart leave him running with his tail between his legs.
That’s why we did the boring part. The way we read scripture and understand the Word of God is life or death. Amen.
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