Claim #6

  • Claim: The treasure in the field and the pearl found by the merchant do not have the same meaning
  • Author: Jesse
  • Written: 5 years ago
  • Category: Biblical Exegesis
  • Answers: 0

The treasure in the field and the pearl found by the merchant do not have the same meaning


When reading Matthew 13:44-46 it is often thought and preached that the treasure hidden in a field and the pearl found by the merchant have the same meaning. Even many popular commentaries state very clearly that Jesus is talking about the very same thing using two different, but alike parables(1,2).

It would be no surprise if Jesus spoke two different parables meaning the same thing, because he does so elsewhere(3). But if you read this passage carefully, you can notice an interesting difference in the two.

​The Parables

In the first one (Matt. 13:44) Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. So we know immediately that the kingdom of heaven is being likened to a hidden treasure. The man who finds the treasure obviously finds the kingdom of heaven (or Jesus), and in his joy goes and sells everything he has just so he can buy the field where the treasure is.

But when we read the next parable (Matt. 13:45-46), the kingdom of heaven is not likened to the pearl, which would make it obvious the parable has a similar interpretation. Instead Jesus likens the kingdom to the merchant, who is the one who finds the pearl. So now the roles are the opposite. The kingdom finds the treasure.

So what does this mean?

In this claim I'm simply stating that the two parables don't have the same interpretation. Whatever I give as an interpretation is therefore not really what I'm claiming here, but let me still suggest what it could mean.

I already mentioned something about the interpretation of the first parable. Most commentators would probably agree with me, in that the parable shows how a person can/should react when he finds the kingdom of heaven and truly understands the value. As experience shows, many who have found Jesus are willing to give up everything they have for the sake of God's kingdom, because they understand the value.

But the second parable has a different meaning. We can think of the merchant as Jesus, who has come to "seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). He gave up everything He had (Phil. 2:7), even His own life to save us from our sin and judgement. For the joy that was set before Him, He paid the price so that everyone who believes in Him would be His treasured posession for all eternity. 

This is truly amazing, because "What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?" (Job 7:17)


  1. Books, C. (2008) The ESV Study Bible Hardcover. United States: Good News Publishers. p. 1849
  2. MacArthur, J. (2013) Holy bible: english standard version macarthur study bible, personal size. United States: Crossway Books. p.1385
  3. E.g., The parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin in Luke 15 have very similar interpretations.

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