Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Eschatology and the Parable of the Tares

Of all the parables Jesus told, none has such direct reference to one's millennial theology than the parable of the tares. The view of the kingdom which this parable sets forth is a powerful support for amillennialism, and directly challenges the claims of both post-millennialism and dispensationalism.

The most obvious challenge confronts postmillennialism. Until the second coming the weeds, the reprobate, will remain on the earth. The parable is not concerned with relative proportions of the elect and reprobate on the earth, but that the tares remain until the harvest. One can argue, that because the proportions are not mentioned, that the number of tares was insignificant. However, the amount of tares was significant enough to concern the workers. At the very least, this parable does not allow for a Christian utopia; and does not seem consistent with an overwhelming Christian majority. While the parable of the leaven could be used to support the post-millennialist ideas, this parable holds their optimism in check.

The entire concept of the kingdom portrayed in these parables, and in the book of Matthew as a whole speak against the dispensational ideas. However artificial and forced their exegesis is on many occasions, this parable offers a direct contradiction to the system. If the kingdom is limited only to the millennium, when the devil is bound, how is he able to sow the tares? Even if these are the unregenerate entering into the millennium, how can the kingdom be the golden age anticipated with so many noxious plants? Further, can the devil be said to plant tares which entered the kingdom only by accident? The parable offers more problems to the system than solid support. Even the progressive dispensational concession that the kingdom is in some way connected with the present age does not seem supported by this parable.

In the end, amillennialism is the eschatological system most consistent with the Bible's portrayal of the kingdom, and with this parables teaching in particular.

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