BibleAsk Team

What is the meaning of the parable of the leaven?

In the parable of the leaven Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened” (Matthew 13:33).

The meaning of the parable

In this parable, the kingdom of heaven is represented by the leaven. As the parable of the Mustard Seed represents the extensive growth of the kingdom in numbers, so the parable of the Leaven represents the great power of transformation in the lives of God’s children that God’s Word causes. As leaven penetrates every part of the dough that is put in it, so the teachings of Christ penetrate the lives of those who assimilate it in their hearts and minds and are willing to be perfected by it.

The power of the Holy Spirit on the heart

To the Pharisees and scribes, the simple unlearned followers of Jesus, who were mostly fishermen and farmers, seemed so unpromising. The proud religious leaders could not imagine that such a group of humble learners could affect the world in a miraculous way. But through the grace of God, these humble instruments worked like a leaven in the masses. God’s spirit through them, caused a great revival of primitive Godliness to break out. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples spread like wild fire to the world and the history of planet earth was changed forever.

Negative leaven verses positive leaven

Some wonder: why was the “leaven” used in this parable in a positive way where in in the OT times leaven was symbolic of evil? Before the Passover, the Israelites were commanded to remove every trace of leaven from the homes because it was symbolic of sin (Lev. 23:6). Christ Himself referred to leaven in this sense, speaking of “the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6, 12; 1 Cor. 5:6–8). However, in this parable, the leaven had a most positive meaning representing the power of the work of the Holy Spirit. Both concepts are true each used to illustrate a special concept.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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