18 Christian Parables That Are Often Misunderstood

Jesus did not create a new literary genre when He preached so strikingly in parables: He made brilliant use of a genre already of long tradition and familiar to the Mediterranean world. In Greece and Rome, rhetoricians, politicians, and philosophers employed parables. These 18 parables need to improve on modern understanding.

The Parable of the Sower 

Photo Credit: melhijad/Shutterstock.

(Matthew 13:3–9) This parable is not just about evangelism but about how people respond differently to God’s word based on the condition of their hearts. The seed is God’s word, and the soils represent people’s receptiveness or lack thereof.

The Parable of the Persistent Widow 

Photo Credit: ArtMari/Shutterstock.

(Luke 18:1–8) The parable encourages persistence in prayer but is not meant to portray God as an unjust judge who is reluctant to answer. “We must always pray and never lose heart or give up when facing obstacles, but instead, pray continually like the widow who kept coming to the unjust judge,” suggests Encounter Church. Even if an unjust judge responds to persistence, how much more will a loving God?

The Parable of the Prodigal Son 

Photo Credit: Renata Sedmakova/Shutterstock.

(Luke 15:11–32) The main point is not the prodigal son’s repentance but the father’s lavish love, undeserved forgiveness, and celebration at his return. It reveals God’s character as a loving Father who offers grace to the irreligious and morally upright.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Photo Credit: Renata Sedmakova/Shutterstock.

(Luke 10:30–37) Many view this as a call to compassionate action, which is valid. But its main point is to challenge the lawyer’s question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus shows that the neighbor is anyone in need, even a despised Samaritan.

The Parable of the Rich Fool 

Photo Credit: aradapollawat/Shutterstock.

(Luke 12:13–21) This is not a condemnation of wealth itself but of greed and finding security in possessions while neglecting one’s relationship with God. True life is not found in an abundance of things.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector 

Photo Credit: Sebastian_Photography/Shutterstock.

(Luke 18:9–14) The parable warns against self-righteousness and religious pride. The humble tax collector, not the boastful Pharisee, went home justified before God. Righteousness comes from repentance, not religious performance.

The Parable of the Talents 

Photo Credit: Vibe Images/Shutterstock.

(Matthew 25:14–30) This is not about utilizing natural abilities but faithfully stewarding and multiplying what God has entrusted, including the Gospel message. Neglecting to put God’s gifts to work for His kingdom has consequences.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed 

Photo Credit: Sebastian_Photography/Shutterstock.

(Matthew 13:31–32) Some believe the birds nesting in the branches represent evil infiltrating the church. But Jesus’s point is that the kingdom of God starts small and seemingly insignificant yet grows to have a global impact. The BBC suggests, “The birds represent Gentile people. Jesus is saying that the Kingdom of God will include other nations and not just God’s chosen people, the Jews.”

The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats 

Photo Credit: Mihai Tamasila/Shutterstock.

(Matthew 25:31–46) This is not teaching salvation by works. The righteous are those who demonstrate their faith by caring for the needy and vulnerable, not those trying to earn salvation. Their compassion confirms their relationship with the shepherd. Today in the Word interprets the story as “These people have a different destiny. True followers of Christ, the sheep, are given eternal life and welcomed into God’s kingdom. The goats, false followers, are sent to eternal fire and punishment.”

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard 

Photo Credit: shine.graphics/Shutterstock.

(Matthew 20:1–16) The parable is not about economic justice but God’s generosity and grace. From an earthly perspective, the landowner seems unfair. But in God’s kingdom, He has the right to dispense grace as He chooses.

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus 

Photo Credit: Moskwa/Shutterstock.

(Luke 16:19–31) This is not a literal description of the afterlife. It warns against callous indifference to the poor and finding security in wealth. In God’s kingdom, there will be a reversal of earthly status. “Death is a leveller for rich and poor,” Green Bridge summarizes.

The Parable of the Unjust Steward 

Man getting money from seller
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

(Luke 16:1–13) Many struggle with Jesus seemingly commending dishonesty. But His point is that believers should be shrewd in using worldly wealth to invest in people and the eternal kingdom, not that they should be unethical.

The Parable of the Great Banquet 

Photo Credit: Alexander Raths/Shutterstock.

(Luke 14:15–24) This is about more than just people rejecting an invitation. It illustrates how many reject God’s gracious invitation to His kingdom because they are preoccupied with earthly matters. This parable shows that the Kingdom of God is open to everyone, not just the Jews. At the parable’s end, we see an interaction between the king and a man who is not dressed appropriately. Ultimately, God fills His banquet table with the outcasts of society.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins 

Photo Credit: godongphoto/Shutterstock.

(Matthew 25:1–13) The parable warns against being unprepared for Christ’s return. The oil likely represents the Holy Spirit or genuine faith. The foolish virgins looked like believers outwardly but were not ready inwardly.

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant 

Photo Credit: Zvonimir Atletic/Shutterstock.

(Matthew 18:21–35) “It details the story of a servant who was forgiven a massive (unrepayable) debt, only to refuse forgiveness to another servant who owed a relatively small debt,” according to Study.com. This parable is in response to Peter’s question about forgiveness. It shows the seriousness of an unforgiving heart in light of the outstanding debt God has forgiven us. Receiving God’s forgiveness should lead to forgiving others.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep 

Photo Credit: BlueDesign/Shutterstock.

(Luke 15:1–7) Some believe this parable excludes “good” people. But the 99 sheep likely represent the self-righteous Pharisees, not believers. The point is God’s great joy in saving the lost who recognize their need for Him.

The Parable of the Two Sons 

Photo Credit: fran_kie/Shutterstock.

(Matthew 21:28–32) Many focus on the first son’s change of mind. But Jesus’s main point is that the religious leaders, like the second son, were giving lip service to God while tax collectors and prostitutes were entering the kingdom ahead of them through repentance.

The Parable of the Growing Seed 

Photo Credit: lovelyday12/Shutterstock.

(Mark 4:26–29) This parable is unique to Mark. Some see it as a picture of the believer’s growth. But in context, it more likely illustrates the mysterious yet unstoppable growth of God’s kingdom, even though the process is not fully understood.

Read More: 18 American Phrases That Non-Americans Struggle to Understand

Photo Credit: michaeljung/Shutterstock.

American expressions are a vital part of its culture, reflecting the nation’s history and values. However, these sayings can sometimes puzzle people from other countries because they often carry context, colloquialisms, and historical references that can lose their intended meaning when crossing borders. Let’s look at 18 of such American sayings.

18 American Phrases That Non-Americans Struggle to Understand

18 Reasons Why No One Is Interested in Working Anymore

Photo Credit: PeopleImages.com – Yuri A/Shutterstock.

The concept of traditional employment has taken a back seat in recent times with changes in economic and social factors, as well as individual preferences. Traditional jobs have also evolved, and many people don’t feel the need to take this route anymore. These are 18 reasons why no one is interested in working anymore.

18 Reasons Why No One Is Interested in Working Anymore

17 States Americans No Longer Want to Live In

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.

America is constantly changing, and within it, so are its states. Some have new laws that residents don’t agree with, while others have increasing rates of unemployment or areas of extreme poverty. These aspects make it difficult for a person to stay in their home state. Here are 17 states that Americans are deciding to reconsider.

17 States Americans No Longer Want to Live In

17 Things That Are Sadly Disappearing From Everyday Life

Photo Credit: Creative House/Shutterstock.

Life in modern times seems to evolve at an unprecedented pace. Certain things we couldn’t live without a few years ago are rapidly becoming redundant. Let’s take a peek at 17 such victims of modernization and why they’re slowly but surely disappearing.

17 Things That Are Sadly Disappearing From Everyday Life

15 Ways To Tell If Someone Is Not a Good Person

Photo Credit: Pheelings media/Shutterstock.

While it’s important to avoid quick judgments, certain behaviors can be strong indicators of a person’s character. Here are 15 ways to discern if someone might be a bad influence or possess harmful traits.

15 Ways To Tell If Someone Is Not a Good Person