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I brought up Matthew 13:44 (see below for text) as related to this answer, though it was only tangentially related. I brought up the question Is that not a literal passage? along with the verse, and decided to spin it off into it's own question. Is it? Specifically, the part about selling one's possessions. Are we actually meant to sell all we have to "buy the field containing that treasure" (i.e. do what good we can with it)?

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

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Too often parts of the Bible are taken literally when in their context they are figurative.

It is necessary to look at these verses in context; in reference to this specific "teaching moment" we read (emphasis mine):

34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35 So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:

“I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”

...

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

...

51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there.

The primary point Jesus is making is that the Kingdom of God is so incredibly valuable it would be worth paying any price to obtain a place within it.

So, yes, this account is literally what Jesus taught, but no, he did not teach using a literal form on this occasion.

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"So, yes, this account is literally what Jesus taught, but no, he did not teach using a literal form on this occasion." -- Brilliant –  J.T. Hurley Sep 4 '11 at 4:50
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The passage appears to be quite literal even in the English quote you give. "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field". It doesn't say that it literally is, it says that it is literally LIKE it. He's about to make an analogy and everything after that should be understood as such. We do the same thing in our every day speech.

There are other passages that do not so clearly identify what type of speech is being used or how we should read them. For ones like this that have an an obvious clue about how they were intended to be read ... well just read it that way!

As for the real question here ... what is the cost of faith? It will literally cost you everything, but you will gain everything in return.

Mark 8:35-37 (ESV) For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?

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