The following work on the Kingdom of Heaven Parables is from Dispensational Truth: God’s Plan and Purpose in the Ages, by Clarence Larken (1918). Many fanciful interpretations have been advanced for these parables, and some of those even antithetical to their meaning (e.g. The Leaven). Larken used quotations, bolding, and underling for emphasis, and it has been reproduced here as much as possible.
The “Kingdom of Heaven” Parables
Jesus spoke 12 Kingdom of Heaven Parables. Matthew alone records them. They reveal the character of this dispensation up to the return of the Lord.
1. The Sower (Mat 13:1-23) – This parable reveals the fact that this dispensation is an “Agricultural” one for the purpose of getting the “Wheat of the Church.” There is no fault in the Soil. It is equally good all over the field. The trouble is Lack of Cultivation. The Wayside, Stony-Ground, and Thorny-Ground Hearers reveal the causes that prevent the entrance and growth of The Seed, and the Good-Ground Hearers are not equally fruitful. Why? Because they have lost their first love and are in a backslidden state. This parable corresponds with the Ephesus Church period as the proportionate reception and fruitfulness of the soil remains the same. The conversion of the world in this dispensation is not taught in this parable.
2. The Wheat and Tares (Mat 13:24-30-, 36-43) – This parable reveals that the “Field” is not left to the “Wheat.” The Devil sows “Tares.” Notice that the Devil cannot change the “Wheat,” but he can sow “Tares” in such quantities as to completely change the aspect of the field. The servants are forbidden to at present gather out the “Tares.” They are to let them grow to the harvest. And as the harvest is the “End of The Age,” the parable teaches that there is to be a “two-fold development of ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ down to the End of the Age.” The “Good” growing better and the “Evil” worse. Christ will come back when the “Wheat” of the Church is ripe, and that will be when the ‘Tares” are also ripe. The “Tares” will be gathered into bundles ready for burning. This is being done now in the bundles of “Christian Science,” “Millennial Dawnism,” etc, but as the Church is not to pass through the “Tribulation,” the “Wheat” will be taken into the “Heavenly Garner” before the “Tares” are burned. There is no conversion of the world in this parable.
3. The Mustard Seed (Mat13:3132) – As this is a “Kingdom of Heaven” Parable it must be interpreted like the two preceding Parable. The field is “The World.” The “Mustard Tree” represents the Visible church, and represents its External growth. “The Mustard Plant” is a small garden herb. Here it is a large overgrown “Tree” in which the “Birds of the Air” Lodge. These “Birds” are the same as the “Fowls” of the Parable of “The Sower,” and therefore agents of the Devil, and as they continue to lodge in the Tree they befoul it. They do not represent converted people, but are the Ananias’, Simon Magus’, Hymeneus’, Philetus’, and other emissaries of Satan, who have crowded into The Visible Church and befoul its branches, sects and denominations with false teachings. As they remain in the Tree there is no conversion of the world taught in this parable. This Parable corresponds with the third, or Pergamos period of the Church, and its impurity in doctrine, to the doctrine of balaamism (see Rev. 18:2).
4. The Leaven (Mat 13:33) – The Leaven in this Parable is not the Gospel. Leaven is a type of evil (Lev 2:11; Mat 16:6-12; 1Cor 5:6-8). It represents “False Doctrine.” Leaven is a species of corruption produced by fermentation, and tends to putrefaction. Left to itself it will corrupt the whole batch of dough. The Gospel does not work that way or the whole world would have been gospelized by this time. The Meal is not humanity. Meal does not come from “Tares” but from “Wheat.” Meal represents the “Seed of The Word.” The Woman Hid the leaven. Why hide the Gospel? The Woman represents a “False System.” She is the Jezebel of the Fourth Church (Thyatira) period. The Leaven she has hid is named above under the Thyatira Peroid, with which this Parable corresponds (see 1Tim 4:1-3; 2Tim 4:3-4; 2Pet 2:1-2).
5. The Hid Treasure (Mat 13:44) – The Field here, as in the other Parables, is the World. The sinner is not to purchase the world, but to give it up. The “Hid Treasure” is not Christ or Salvation. Christ is not for sale, neither can salvation be bought. It is a free gift (Rom 6:23). It is Christ who buys (1Cor 6:20; 1Pet 1:18-19). It is Christ who buys the Field: The Devil claims he owns the “Field.” The Treasure is “Israel,” hidden by God in the Field since the Devil made his claim of ownership. The only way Christ could get the Treasure was to purchase the Field. Having found the “Treasure” Christ hid it again until the time for the “Redemption of the purchased possession (Eph 1:14). God calls “Israel” his Peculiar Treasure” (Ex 19:5; Ps 135:4). The “Treasure” will not be recovered until Christ returns.
6. The Pearl (Mat 13:45-46) – The “Merchant-Man” in this Parable is not the sinner, nor the ‘Pearl,” Christ or Salvation. For as we have seen in the preceding parable they cannot be bought. The “Merchant-Man” is Christ. The Pearl is the “Church” (Acts 20:28). The Pearl is a beautiful symbol of the Church. It grows by accretion. It is found the pearl oyster. In this dispensation Christ is after the pearl only. No conversion of the world here.
7. The Drag Net (Mat 13:47-50) – This Parable of the “Drag Net” describes the “End-Time” and corresponds with the ending of the Parable of the “Wheat and The Tares.” As the net does not catch all the fish in the sea, and as those caught are not all good, we see in this Parable that at the “End of This Dispensation” the Church Net will contain true and false professors, and that the world at large will remain uncaught. There is no conversion of the world in this Parable. It corresponds to the “Laodicean Church Period,” and the Parable of the “Ten Virgins.”
8. The Unmerciful Servant (Mat 18:23-35) – The conduct of the Members of The Kingdom of Heaven towards each other during this dispensation. It was given because of a dispute between the disciples and teacher that the offended should seek reconciliation (Mat 18:15-17), and that forgiveness should be without limit (Mat 18:21-22). The Certain King is God. The Servant who owed 10,000 talents is the sinner. It teachers that a forgiven man should forgive as freely as he has been forgiven. If he will not, then there is question as to whether he is a forgiven man.
9. The Vineyard Laborers (Mat 20:1-16) – The Penny that The Laborers received for their labor does not represent Salvation, for salvation is a gift, not wages. Neither do the hours when the Laborers were employed represent the different ages at which sinners may come to Christ. The Laborers stood in the market place not because they were unwilling to work, but because no man had hired them. The context (Mat 19:16-30) shows that the parable was spoken in answer to the question of Peter: “What shall we have therefore?” and was spoken to show the Hireling Spirit of Peter. There is nothing unusual in the parable until Settling Time. Then the unbusiness like way of paying off first those who had been hired last revealed the Hireling Spirit of those who had been hired first. The parable teaches that the Hireling Spirit is a character of the Kingdom of Heaven, and that at the Judgment of Reward men will be rewarded not according to their time of service but for their motive in service.
10. The Marriage Feast (Mat 22:1-14) – This parable is not to be confounded with the parable of “The Great Supper” recorded in Luke (Lk 14:16-24) that refers to the “Gospel Feast.” This goes back to days of Moses and reaches to the Judgment of Reward. The Certain King is God. The Son is Christ. Those bidden were the Jewish Nation. Moses and the Prophets announced the Feast. Jon the Baptist and the Twelve and Seventy notified the Jewish Nation that is was about ready. When Jesus “The Lamb” was offered on Calvary the feast was ready, and Peter John and other were The Other Servants sent forth. This was the Second Call (Acts 3:19-21), but the Nation made light of it. Then the Remnant took Stephen and James and others and slew them. This made The King angry and he sent his armies and burned their city. This is a prophetic announcement of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70. Then Phillip, Barnabas, and Paul, and others were sent out in The Highways of the Gentile World to gather in those who were willing to accept the invitation to the Gospel Feast. The parable looks forward to the Marriage of The Lamb. The man without a Wedding Garment is representative of those who slip into church without the New Birth who thing that the Robe of Their Own Righteousness is sufficient. They will be speechless in that day.
11. The Ten Virgins (Mat 25:1-13) – The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto Virgins because a Virgin is the type or the Church (2Cor 11:2). The number Ten, half wise and half foolish, does not signify that half of Professing Christians will be lost. 10 was the official number of any public Jewish function. The parable teacher that we cannot distinguish the saved and unsaved until the Bridegroom comes, and that the Oil of the Holy Spirit will be the supreme test, not slumbering or sleeping, and that a large part of the Professing Church, if not half, shall not get into the Wedding. There is no conversion of the world in this parable.
12. The Talents (Mat 24: 14-30) – This parable must not be confounded with the Parable of “The Pounds” in Luke (Lk 19:11-27). The “Man” is Christ; the “Far Country,” Heaven; The “Departure,” Christ’s Ascension; The “Return,” His Second Coming. The Parable of “The Pounds” is Jewish and pictures what will happen when Christ “Having Received the Kingdom” returns to earth and rewards His servants by giving them authority over different cities. The “One Pound” man loses his pound and the right to rule, but is not cast out. In the “Talents” the “One Talent” man is cast out. This parable is one on “Christian Stewardship,” and the fact that he complains of the exactness of the Master shows that the “One Talent” Man is a mere professor and his character is revealed by his commission of the “Napkin Sin.” The time of the accounting synchronizes with that of the separation of the “Wheat and Tares,” the “Good and Bad Fish,” and the “Wise and Foolish Virgins.”