What does Matthew 13:52 mean?
ESV: And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
NIV: 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.'
NASB: And Jesus said to them, 'Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure new things and old.'
CSB: "Therefore," he said to them, "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 treasures new and old."
NLT: Then he added, 'Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.'
KJV: Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
Parables, by definition, summarize a larger idea using symbolism and storytelling. That makes large ideas easier to process, but it also obscures specific details. This miniature parable is not especially clear, in part because Matthew does not record any specific interpretation. Scholars offer different views. The main point, common to all interpretations, involves the need to explain both the Old Testament prophecies and their accurate fulfillment in the New Testament era.
Christ has asked the disciples if they understood His explanation of the parables. They have said they do (Matthew 13:51). Now He responds by referring to scribes, who, at that time, were Israel's teachers of the law. They studied and interpreted Scripture and told the people the proper way to live by it. In a very meaningful sense, these disciples are being taught deeper truths by Jesus (Matthew 13:10–11), and so are like "[scribes] trained for the kingdom of heaven." As such, the disciples' work would be to teach these truths to others (Matthew 28:19–20), both "old" and "new."
The image Jesus creates is that of someone wealthy who presents the treasures of his household. Some of those items are old. We might think of antiques and family heirlooms. Some of the treasure is newly acquired, but still greatly valuable. Jesus pictures teachers of these great truths as those who show both God's revelation in the Old Testament Scriptures and the new revelations of God's truth through Jesus Christ. Those teachers would need to show how these treasured truths fit together.
This, in fact, is exactly what Matthew does in his gospel. He often references the "old treasures" of Israel's Scriptures to show how they are fulfilled in Jesus' work and words. The other men gathered before Jesus will do the same as they teach the gospel in the years to follow (2 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 1:1–4). That work will require them to understand Jesus' teaching in these parables.
Matthew 13:51–52 concludes the section on the parables of Jesus with a question. Jesus asks His disciples if they've understood His words. The disciples say yes. Jesus uses one more short parable, comparing a scholar trained in godly things to the master of a house showing his old and new treasures to someone. Christ, for His part, is teaching both the meaning of older Scriptures, and the new fulfillments coming from God. This also means the disciples should teach others what He has taught them: the unified meaning of Old Testament Scriptures and the teaching of Jesus.
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.
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.
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.
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