Matthew 13:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 13:4, NIV: As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Matthew 13:4, ESV: And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.

Matthew 13:4, KJV: And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

Matthew 13:4, NASB: and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.

Matthew 13:4, NLT: As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them.

Matthew 13:4, CSB: As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.

What does Matthew 13:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus begins His first parable (Matthew 13:1–3) by describing the act of planting a field. He pictures a sower, something His audience could easily picture in their minds. The sower would carry a pouch with seeds of grain, or would have held them in the folds of their clothes. The sower grabbed handfuls and scattered them thoroughly across as much of the field as possible. Obviously, this is very different from modern farming practices, where machines deliberately place seeds in massive, straight rows. In the ancient world, sowing a field like this meant hoping for as much seed as possible to take root and grow. The more seed was scattered, the more potential crops there were to gain.

This parable focuses first on the scattered seeds that don't make it to maturity. The first of those are the seeds tossed along the edge of the field, which land on hard-packed, uncultivated walking paths. That ground is not prepared for seed—it has not been tilled, or turned, and its surface is hard. Seeds landing there merely lay on top of the path and wait to be eaten by the birds.

The disciples will later hear what each of these scenarios represents. In this first one, seeds that fall on the path are like people who hear teaching about the kingdom of heaven and just don't get it (Matthew 13:19). They're either disinterested, hardened, or unprepared. One way or another, the "seed" of this teaching never even breaks the surface. Almost immediately, Satan comes and snatches away the eternal truth of the kingdom, before anything else can happen to make it take root in the person's heart.