Matthew 13:34—Did Jesus always speak in parables or not?

Problem: This text states distinctly that “without a parable He [Jesus] did not speak to them.” However, Jesus gave His whole Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7) without a single parable in it.

Solution: There are two qualifying factors that must be noted, one of which is stated and another implied. First, Matthew 13:34 states that Jesus spoke these things “to the multitude,” whereas the Sermon on the Mount was given to His “disciples” (Matt. 5:1–2; cf. Luke 6:20), even though the multitudes apparently listened in (cf. Matt. 7:28). What is more, Jesus’ statement may have only a reference to what He was doing at that time, not on every occasion. It does not say that He always and on every occasion spoke to a crowd only in parables. However, this interpretation is possible, since we have only a limited record of what Jesus spoke (cf. John 21:25).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.