(37) He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. (38) The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, (39) and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. (40) Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.

Here is my personal interpretation of this passage:
1. Jesus is the one who sows the sons of the kingdom
2. Devil is the one who sows the sons of the evil one
3. God let the sons of the kingdom and the sons of the evil one live together

4. At the end of the age, the sons of the kingdom are sent to heaven and the sons of the evil one are sent to hell.

Assuming that my interpretation above is correct, I am facing a "dead end" in an effort to connect it with the election before the beginning of the age.

If in the beginning there were already two different beings who sow and two different kinds of seed, how is this consistent with election?

for example like this illustration :

There is a box.
There are two people placing balls in a box, Mr. X and Mr. Y. From Monday to Saturday, Mr. X places white balls in the box while Mr. Y places black balls in the box. Mr. X lets the white and black balls sit together in the same box. On Sunday, Mr. X burns the 90 black balls and play with his 10 white balls.

I am confused on how to apply a kind of election event before the "filling the box with white balls" event take place, but I can apply it on Sunday ---> On Sunday, Mr. X choose the white balls from all the balls in the box.

Assuming my interpretation above is consistent with Calvinist theology, how do Calvinists reconcile it with unconditional election?

I found a new verse, John 8:44

You belong to your father, the devil

So Jesus is saying that the devil claimed them before they were created. Jesus informed them that they never came from God and they are certainly going to hell.

Based on my own understanding, the parable in Matthew means something like this :
1. In the beginning there are two beings, God and the Devil. Each of them has their own children. God's children are the sons of the kingdom, the Devil's children are the sons of evil.

  1. After the creation, God "sows" His good seeds (the sons of the kingdom) into the world - and the Devil (God's enemy) also "sows" his weeds (the sons of the evil) into the world. God let the weeds grow together with His good seeds.

  2. At the end, God separates his wheat from the Devil’s weeds. He keeps the wheat and burns the weeds.

I do not see how 1 could have occurred before creation without 2 and 3 also having been planned before creation.

Let’s go back to the ball illustration. Mr. X puts his white balls into the box for 6 days, but before he began putting balls into the box, he developed his plan:

  • He determined that Mr. Y will put black balls into the box over the same six days.
  • He will allow both kinds of ball to mix together.
  • On Sunday, he will remove the white balls from the box.

Is this how the Calvinist thinks of election with regard to the parable in Matthew? Thank you.

  • 1
    I think the Calvinist would say you are reading the parable, particularly the sowing, too literally.
    – bradimus
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 10:55
  • @bradimus, LOL :). So.... what does it mean about the sowing according to the Calvinist ?
    – karma
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 14:43
  • I always hear Calvinists say all Jesus' parables are 'just parables' but the whole point is that they are for the purpose of theological teaching. Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 15:03
  • 1
    Your latest edit is not even remotely Calvinist. Would you like some book recommendations for what Reformed Theology actually teaches so that you can stop making up nonsense?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 15:10
  • 1
    @Zenon, I accept your editing and thank you very much for that.
    – karma
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 2:40

3 Answers 3


The Calvinist understanding is that election occurs before anyone is even created. So, in your ball analogy, before the balls are created, God first determines how many there will be, which ones will be saved, and when they will be saved. He then creates them, and allows their sinful nature and Satan's working to plunge them into damnation. He then saves those He previously decided to save (election). Mr. X decides how many balls will become white on Sunday, then creates all of them white, they become black from their own efforts, and then during the week Mr. X colours some of them white.

The Canons of Dort (a standard Reformed summary of what the Bible teaches on certain subjects) says in Article 7 the following:

Election is God’s unchangeable purpose by which he did the following:

Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, God chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out of the entire human race, which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin and ruin. Those chosen were neither better nor more deserving than the others, but lay with them in the common misery. God did this in Christ, whom he also appointed from eternity to be the mediator, the head of all those chosen, and the foundation of their salvation.

And so God decreed to give to Christ those chosen for salvation, and to call and draw them effectively into Christ’s fellowship through the Word and Spirit. In other words, God decreed to grant them true faith in Christ, to justify them, to sanctify them, and finally, after powerfully preserving them in the fellowship of the Son, to glorify them.

God did all this in order to demonstrate his mercy, to the praise of the riches of God’s glorious grace.

As Scripture says, “God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world, so that we should be holy and blameless before him with love; he predestined us whom he adopted as his children through Jesus Christ, in himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, by which he freely made us pleasing to himself in his beloved” (Eph. 1:4-6). And elsewhere, “Those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30).

It is worth noting that Matthew 13:37-40 is understood by the Calvinist to be referring to the church. John Calvin in his Commentary on Matthew says the following:

He had formerly said that the kingdom of heaven resembles a man sowing. The mode of expression is unusual, but plainly means, that the same thing happens with the preaching of the Gospel as usually takes place in the sowing of fields; the tares grow, up along with the wheat One peculiarity, however, is pointed out by him, when he says that the sowing of tares in the field was effected by the trick of an enemy. This is intended to inform us that, when many wicked men are mingled with believers, this is no accidental or natural occurrence, as if they were the same seed, but that we must learn to charge the blame of this evil on the devil. Not that, by condemning him, men are acquitted of guilt; but, in the first place, that no blame whatever may be laid on God on account of this fault which arose from the agency of another; and, secondly, that we may not be surprised to find tares frequently growing in the Lord’s field, since Satan is always on the watch to do mischief. Again, when Christ says, not that the ministers of the word sow, but that he alone sows, this is not without meaning; for though this cannot be supposed to be restricted to his person, yet as he makes use of our exertions, and employs us as his instruments, for cultivating his field, so that He alone acts by us and in us, he justly claims for himself what is, in some respects, common to his ministers. Let us, therefore, remember, that the Gospel is preached, not only by Christ’s command, but by his authority. and direction; in short, that we are only his hand, and that He alone is the Author of the work.

  • Thank you for the Calvin's Commentary on Matthew , Birdie. Too bad, I don't quite grasp on what he said :(. Jesus "sow" the sons of the Kingdom and Jesus enemy (the devil) "sow" the sons of the evil. Both two parties (the sons of the Kingdom and the sons of the evil) grow together in the world. Calvin said [many wicked men are mingled with believers] ---> fitting this sentence to the parable, aren't the believers (the sons of the kingdom) in the first place before the creation came from God ? (continue)
    – karma
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 14:35
  • and aren't the wicked men (the sons of evil) in the first place before the creation never came from God but the Devil ? As in John 8:44 Jesus said : [You belong to your father, the devil] .
    – karma
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 14:35
  • Before creation, neither believers nor unbelievers exist. I'm not sure what exactly you're asking beyond that.
    – Birdie
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 1:23
  • aren't the parable (after interpretation) and John 8:44 (there's no need interpretation here) show that before the creation the "good seeds" and the "weeds/tares" already exist ? If you agree of this, then the "good seeds" once they are exist they absolutely will be as the believers - while the "weeds/tares" once they are exist they absolutely will be as the non believers. Please CMIIW.
    – karma
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 2:46
  • You're reading too far into the parable. The wheat and the tares are people, they don't exist until they are conceived and born. They by definition do not exist until after creation.
    – Birdie
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 20:44

I wonder if the heart of your question is found in a related question: If God "shows no partiality," how do Calvinists defend predestination?

If you are just focused instead on the mechanics of election, I think Romans 8:29 is helpful:

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

In this verse, it is clear that God knew ahead of time who would believe, and that He also chose beforehand that they should be made like His Son in righteousness and follow Him in resurrection to the incorruptible life as members of God's household.

I don't have a quote from Calvin, but I don't think he would say that the elect are born without any consequence for their sin, as opposed to those who are not of the elect. The Scripture is clear:

Romans 3:22-23

...For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,


Romans 6:22-23

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


1) Every man is born with eternal consequences for sin.
2) Those whom God foreknew would believe in Him are led by His grace to trust Jesus for salvation. They are the elect.

The context in Romans 3 is this:

and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (verses 24-25)

3) All who are born are children of wrath, deserving of eternal separation from God and His family. It is those who refuse to receive the gift of eternal life who are sons of the evil one. It isn't that the devil created them, as the language "sowed them" might suggest. Sons of the evil one inherited him as father through birth into the human race as sons of the first Adam, like all of us.

4) The difference is that those whom God foreknew and thus predestined are, at the moment of saving faith, transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's beloved Son.

Speaking to believers, in Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul wrote:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

And in Colossians 1:12-14:

giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus is known as the Second Adam. Those who are transferred to His kingdom are no longer represented by the first Adam and no longer sons of the evil one.

Ephesians 2:19

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God

1 Corinthians 15:22-24:

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

God's love is for all mankind, as perhaps the world's most famous Bible verse declares: "For God so loved the world..." (John 3:16). He is not wishing for anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). But he gives us freedom, that we may follow Him of our own will. For evidence of this, see Romans 8:5-9:

...those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Finally, thinking about the idea of "sown" as in seeds or sons, I will conclude with Paul's return to the first and second Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:42-49:

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

If you really want me to use your ball analogy, perhaps this will help. Let's use dirty and clean instead of black and white. All balls begin dirty to the core, but God knows which ones will trust Jesus and wash in His blood for forgiveness of sins. He works on those trusting, dirty balls from the inside out, so that when Jesus comes for those who belong to Him, He can remove the remaining dirty shell, corrupted by sin, and reveal the beautiful ball He has made righteous to the core. At that point, the ones who remain dirty can do nothing to make themselves clean and are revealed to be sons of the evil one. Only the clean ones, made clean by God Himself, have a place in God's Kingdom.

  • I may not have accurately represented Calvinism with my answer, so someone who is more schooled in his thinking or has quotes from him might give a more fitting answer from that basis. I hope I have at least faithfully represented a scriptural answer to the mechanics of your question.
    – MutluAnne
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 21:57
  • 3
    'Those whom God foreknew would believe in Him are led by His grace to trust Jesus for salvation. ' -- that is not the Calvinist position. In fact, it may directly contradict Calvinism.
    – bradimus
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 22:51
  • 1
    bradimus is correct, predestination is not just foreknowledge, but also actually deciding before the foundation of the world those who would be saved.
    – Birdie
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 23:32
  • Thank you for the correction...I had this all typed up before realizing I may not be approaching the answer from the right angle, but hated to waste all of the effort, thus the disclaimer in my comment. I hope someone can answer karma using truly Calvinist perspectives.
    – MutluAnne
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 3:08
  • 1
    @MutluAnne, thank you very much for your effort to explain it to me. I really appreciate it. But I'm sorry, it seems your explanation can not be said from Calvinism. Thank you once again.
    – karma
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 2:08

"If in the beginning there were already two different beings who sow and two different kinds of seed, how is this consistent with election?"

The good seed sown by the Son of man are the elect, and those not sown by the Son of man are not elect. I can't see what the problem is. Am I missing something here?

  • Andrew, what I mean is : Before the creation, God has already the seed (the sons of God's kingdom), while the devil also has already the weed (the sons of the devil). After the creation, God sow His sons and let the devil sow his sons. You wrote: "The good seed sown by the Son of man are the elect", to me become as follow : _"The good seed sown by the Son of Man are the sons of kingdom .... The weeds sown by the devil are the sons of the devil. At the harvest time, the sons of the devil are gathered then thrown to hell, the sons of kingdom are gathered and put in God's kingdom. No election.
    – karma
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 18:05
  • @karma - why no election? The good seed are God's already because God _elected/ them to be His seed. Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 9:26
  • Andrew, because since before the creation, there are already God's seed and devil's seed. God hated Esau before Esau was born because before Esau was born, Esau is devil's seed (the weed, son of the devil), while Issac is His seed (the good seed, son of God). So, there is no election ---> I have my own kids, the neighbor has his own kids. I will take good care my own kids, I won't care the neighbor's kids. Except the logical condition is : before the creation ALL are devil's seed. Some of those devil's seed are elected to be His seed. But this is not analogous with the parable.
    – karma
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 3:15
  • Before the creation they were God's seed because of His election, because of His electing love. Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 16:23
  • You wrote : "Before the creation they were God's seed". Do you mean God sow good seed and bad seed / weed ?
    – karma
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 16:56

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