Matthew 13:46 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 13:46, NIV: When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:46, ESV: who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:46, KJV: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

Matthew 13:46, NASB: and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold everything that he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:46, NLT: When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

Matthew 13:46, CSB: When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it.

What does Matthew 13:46 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus frequently taught in parables. Stories, even short ones like this, are a powerful way to communicate a big idea or answer a big question. Jargon or technical terms might not let an idea sink in for most people. Connecting the larger theme to something more readily understood, however, makes it more accessible. In this case, the question is, "What would it be worth to be included in the kingdom of heaven?"

The parable describes a merchant looking for especially fine pearls (Matthew 13:45). He finds one pearl of enormous value. He recognizes that the pearl is worth more than everything else he owns combined. He sells it all to obtain this extraordinary item.

Again, Jesus is saying that the kingdom of heaven is worth the cost of everything we have in this life. The pearl merchant isn't giving away his possessions for no reason; in fact, he's drastically increasing his wealth. The idea of selling all he has might seem radical, but it makes perfect sense given what he gains in return.

Jesus taught in an earlier chapter that "whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:39). This and the previous parable drive that point home. It is worth the cost of our entire lives to be included in the kingdom of heaven. The value of what we gain in eternity is far above what we can experience in a short earthly life.

Just as some attempt to read extra details "into" the text of the prior parable (Matthew 13:44), some commentators strain to find alternative meanings for this text. A common example is suggesting the pearl represents the church and that Christ sacrifices everything to save those who trust in Him. It's true that Jesus offers a tremendous sacrifice which saves those who trust in Him (John 3:16–17), but that is not the point being made in this specific passage.