This movie requires Flash Player 8. Download Flash Player 8

Issue Features
View this issue online as it looks in print
Discovery Magazine 12/1/2000

The Purpose of Parables

by  Stan Butt Jr.

Jesus of Nazareth was the greatest teacher the world has ever known. His talent lay in His wonderful ability to make deep, heavenly truths understandable to all kinds of people. Although Jesus worked with people from all social classes, most of His teaching was aimed at the common people of Israel—the shepherds, the fishermen, and the laborers. Most of those who heard Jesus were poorly educated, so it was necessary for Him to teach them by using simple words and ideas. To solve the problem of passing on deep truths to such people, Jesus used a common teaching tool known as a parable.

Some teachers have defined parables as "earthly stories with heavenly meanings." The English word "parable" comes from the Greek word parabole, which means "to throw alongside." The word also is related to the word "parallel," which usually describes two similar things laid side-by-side. Two things that are "thrown alongside" each other are easier to compare. The goal of a parable is to compare one thing to another—with one of the objects being an important spiritual lesson and the other being an event from everyday life. For instance, Jesus compared His own relationship with His people to the relationship of a shepherd with his sheep (Luke 15:1-7). He compared someone who teaches the gospel to a man planting a seed (Matthew 13:1-9), and He used such words as salt and light to describe the influence of a Christian (Matthew 5:13-16).

The Bible records about thirty or forty parables told by Jesus. Some of His parables were short, one-line comparisons. Others, like the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, were longer stories with exciting plots and interesting people. All of Jesus’ parables remind us of the divine wisdom of God. But they also remind us of easy yet interesting ways to teach someone the great truths found in God’s Word.

Copyright © 2000 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

This document may be copied, on the condition that it will not be republished in print unless otherwise stated below, and will not be used for any commercial purpose, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (4) textual alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden; (5) Some illustrations (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, etc.) are not the intellectual property of Apologetics Press and as such cannot be reproduced from our site without consent from the person or organization that maintains those intellectual rights; (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, excepting brief quotations, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original written content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken. Further, documents may not be copied without source statements (title, author, journal title), and the address of the publisher and owner of rights, as listed below.

For catalog, samples, or further information, contact:

Apologetics Press
230 Landmark Drive
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
Phone (334) 272-8558

Web Store

Defending the Faith Study Bible

We are very excited to announce the NEW AP Defending the Faith Study Bible now available.

Featured Audio


Click the following link to visit our Multimedia section.

Featured Audio