Tares Among the Wheat

Tares Among the Wheat

Robert Wurtz II


Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? (Matthew 13:24-28 KJV)


One Main Point


A parable is a short story meant as an allegory to teach truth. Typically, there is one main point that the teacher is conveying. They sketch a setting, describe an action, and show the results. The story leaves out actual people or places to remove from the hearer any personal interest to make an objective judgment of the case. This particular parable of tares and wheat contains many truths that have been the subject of whole scholarly works and books.    


The theme of this parable is the great harvest of humankind that will take place at the end of the age when the faithful saints are separated from the imposters. How this harvest will come to fruition is a process of planting and growing “seed.” It is very straightforward. In the first century, there were no supermarkets as we know them today. So if there were no harvest – there would be no food. To feel the gravity of this parable, we must transport ourselves back into the hearers’ context. Jesus used this analogy because it had a direct bearing on the hearers’ lives. This is God’s estimate of the importance of this great harvest plainly presented. 


Agricultural Sabotage


We read first that they plowed a field and sowed good seed. This process took a tremendous amount of physical labor. Nevertheless, the seed is designed to produce good, edible fruit (food). However, in our parable, “tares” also appeared. 


Tares (darnel) comes from the Greek word zizania and is in modern times Lolium temulentum. This is a weed that resembles wheat but is potentially harmful or fatal[1]. The word temulentus is Latin and means drunk


The similarity between darnel and good wheat is so great that in some regions, darnel is referred to as “false wheat.” Darnel can be infected by an endophytic fungus (3), which is used to make insecticides. The fungus causes drunken nausea from eating the infected plant, which can be fatal.


In ancient times, feuding families or enemies would wait until their subjects’ ground was plowed and would sow darnel into their field to cause a destructive infestation. It would contaminate the good wheat when harvested, rendering whole fields a total loss. Separating the darnel (drunk weed) from the wheat at harvest was a difficult, if not impossible, task. 


Uprooting the darnel (tares) during the growth cycle was almost impossible because the roots intertwined with the good wheat. The hearers of this parable would know all-too-well the challenges of dealing with this type of agricultural sabotage. So severe was this crime that the Romans outlawed planting poisonous plants in another person’s field. 


But While Men Slept


Knowing that sabotaging a farmer’s field was morally egregious and against the law, the enemy acted at night “while men slept.” This is an important detail that we must not overlook. Bear in mind that this parable is a metaphor for “true saints” and “false saints.” 


The false wheat was sown into the field while men slept; this implies a lack of vigilance. In times of war, someone must guard food supplies. In Judges chapter 15, Samson tied twigs to foxes, set the twigs a fire, and turned them loose in the enemies’ field. That act of war provoked tremendous wrath. Why? That was their food supply set ablaze! Where were the guardians of the tares and wheat field? They slept. And while they slept, someone planted the false wheat; that is, false brethren were sown into the churches of God.


Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? This seemed like the logical thing to do. The problem was that the roots of the infestation were entangled in the wheat. So Jesus answered, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 


The picture here is of relationships. The good wheat was in a relationship with the false wheat. This made it impossible to deal with the false wheat without destroying or offending the true wheat, allowing the false wheat to grow up together in the churches growing in authority and influence. In our times, false wheat has risen to some of the highest-rated Christian television programs spreading death to the masses. 


Known by Their Fruits


For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. (Luke 6:43, 44)


Jesus’ explanation is so straightforward it is almost insulting. Of course, people know the difference between good and corrupt fruit! Right? Not so fast. Relationships have a way of blinding a person. As the old adage says, ‘love is blind.’ Anyone can spot corrupt fruit in their enemy or a stranger, but what about those closest to them? Are friends and loved ones viewed through the eyes of reality, or are excuses made? 


Pointing out obvious spiritual problems about friends and family is highly offensive, and disbarring people from the fellowship because they appear as tares is not permitted. This is not a study on church discipline, so we will have to save probing into that matter for a later study. We are dealing here with God’s permission and insistence that if tares (darnel) are growing with wheat, the tares must not be rejected on that basis alone. It is too dangerous as the risks are too many. Only God has the discernment and prerogative in such things. 


Bind Them in Bundles and Burn Them


So Jesus answered again, Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:30) This statement made by our Lord is a fearful one. Know that the false wheat have drunk in the rain that came often upon it, just as the good wheat. But rather than bringing forth a useful fruit, it brought forth after ‘darnel’ (drunk weed).


Seed is Sown at Night


While the men slept, the false wheat was sown in the field. This aspect of the parable speaks greatly to our times. Paul speaks along a similar line in 1 Thessalonians 5:7, For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. This is interesting because you will recall that darnel is Lolium temulentum, and the word temulentus is Latin and means drunk. You will also know that Paul tells us, And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18 KJV). The Greek word translated as ‘excess’ is asotia


Soteriology is the study of salvation and comes from the same root as asotia, except the ‘a’ is a negative participle. The word means literally “unsaved” or “unsafe.” In reality, this darnel is not saved and is moving in a sort of drunkenness as do all lost in sin. They are unsafe in the congregation and bear watching. 


Accommodating Madness


If you pull the darnel, the good wheat will be lost. Infestations in sabotaged fields made it impossible to take any steps until harvest. This does not mean that the field owner was ‘ok’ with the darnel. He was not. He could see how they were corrupting His field, but He had an eye on his future remedy. The reapers are the angels, and the angels know the difference between the true and the false. 


Why did the men want to pull the darnel up in the first place? Because darnel isn’t “harmless.” The men knew the darnel would eventually become a problem. In the churches of God, the darnel have a whole different desire and focus than the true wheat. They can’t relate to why the true grain wants a Bible-based church or a move of the Holy Spirit.


False believers move in the realm of counterfeit and compromise as a matter of course. They are instinctively carnal. Amazingly, our Lord looks past the present danger to the ultimate reality that they will be bound and burned. This is a metaphor for everlasting fire. But what about now? What are the consequences of having tares in the churches? Many problems. Most importantly, they produce after their kind. They are what they are and can be no other until they respond to God in faith and be born of the Spirit. We must continue to declare the uncompromised word of God to them and hope that someday they repent before it’s too late. 




[1] The Gospel of Matthew R.T. France P. 525-526

[2] The Authenticity of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares Ramesh Khatry P. 35

(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolium_temulentum

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: