What does Matthew 13:46 mean?
ESV: who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
NIV: When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
NASB: and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold everything that he had and bought it.
CSB: When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it.
NLT: When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!
KJV: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
NKJV: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Matthew 13:44–46 contains two short and related parables about the value of the kingdom of heaven. The first depicts a treasure hidden in a field. The man who finds it gladly sells everything to buy the field, so he can acquire the treasure. Likewise, a pearl dealer trades all his wealth in exchange for a pearl of enormous value when he finds it. Both stories show that inclusion in the kingdom of heaven is worth any amount of sacrifice. Whatever is lost in pursuit of the kingdom of heaven is a small price to pay, considering the value of what is gained.
Chapter Summary:
Matthew 13 focuses mainly on a series of parables. Jesus first describes these to a large crowd along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Later, in a house, He explains to the disciples the meanings of the parables of the sower, the weeds, and the fish caught in the net. Jesus then travels to Nazareth, teaches in the synagogue, and is rejected by the people of His original hometown.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 13 follows Jesus from the overcrowded house at the end of the previous chapter to a crowded beach on the Sea of Galilee. He teaches a large crowd in a series of parables, which He doesn't fully explain. However, He reveals their meaning to His disciples inside a nearby house. Jesus pictures the kingdom of heaven as a sower, a sabotaged field of wheat, a mustard seed, and a pearl dealer, among other things. He then travels to His original hometown of Nazareth where He is rejected by the people He grew up with. This leads Matthew back to depictions of Jesus' miracles, after sadly recording John the Baptist's death.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 5/29/2024 7:27:51 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.