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Winnie Yee

“When Jesus had finished saying these words”


Matthew’s Gospel is well known in New Testament stud­ies for its unfolding of Jesus’ teaching in five dis­tinct sections, each closing with the statement patterned on the formula, “When Jesus had finished saying these words”:


Section 1: Jesus’ birth, early years, the beginning of his ministry, and the Sermon on the Mount

Closing Statement: “When Jesus had finished saying these words” (Mt. 7:28)

Section 2: Jesus’ teachings on the kingdom of God, accompanied by miracles, and instructions to his twelve disciples

Closing Statement: “When Jesus had finished giving instructions” (Mt. 11:1)

Section 3: Jesus’ teachings on the kingdom of God: discipleship, the will of God, and seven parables

Closing Statement: “When Jesus had finished these parables” (Mt. 13:53)

Section 4: Jesus’ further miracles of compassion, and teachings on life in the kingdom

Closing Statement: “When Jesus had finished saying these words” (Mt. 19:1)

Section 5: Jesus’ teachings on the end times

Closing Statement: “When Jesus had finished saying all these words” (Mt. 26:1)


Many scholars have compared Matthew’s intentional design of the five sections to the five books of Moses, Genesis to Deuteronomy. The five-fold division suggests that Matthew had modeled his book on the structure of the Pentateuch, to show his Jewish readers that just as the five books of the Pentateuch constitute the law of the Old Covenant, these five sections of Jesus’ teaching represent the found­ation of the New Covenant. This presents Matthew’s Gospel as a new Torah, the constitution or law of God; and Jesus as a new and greater Moses, for he is the Messiah whom God had sent. So Matthew had a design and a goal to write under the inspiration of the Spirit of God.

Given this five-fold structure, Pastor Eric Chang’s sermons on the Gospel of Matthew are divided into five volumes. When a volume carries a large number of sermons, it will be further divided into sub-volumes.

The Lord Jesus’ parables in chapter 13 are grouped with all his other parables in Matthew to form a standalone two-volume work.

The excerpt in the following four pages is from the trans­cription of an audio recording of one of Pastor Eric Chang’s first full-time training sess­ions. It shows how he uses the statistical method to count particular words, and their sets of cognates in the Greek text, to identify the seven characteris­tics of the Gospel of Matthew, of which two are rel­evant to this book: the hiddenness of the kingdom of God, and the parabolic character of the Lord Jesus’ teaching. Reading this study will help you see the clear conclusion, that the hidden­ness of the kingdom of God is revealed to the spiritual-minded by the parables of the Lord Jesus.

Excerpt from a Training Session by Pastor Eric Chang

The Hiddenness of the Kingdom of God

Kryptō to hide ‒ Matthew 7x, Mark 0x, Luke 3x, John 3x, Acts 0x, Paul 2x, New Testament 19x

Kryptos hidden ‒ Matthew 5x, Mark 1x, Luke 2x, John 3x, Acts 0x, Paul 5x, New Testament 17x

The second characteristic mark of Matthew is the hiddenness of the kingdom of God. It is hidden because we need to have eyes to see it. The word “to hide” (kryptō) is more frequent in Matthew than any­where else, but this time, instead of just looking at the statistics, let us look at the word itself, how it is used for example in Matthew 11:25.

I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hid­den these things from the wise and understand­ing and revealed them to little children. (ESV)

Here you can see this hiddenness. It is hidden from the world, from the wise and understanding, because it is of a spiritual, a heavenly nature, and what is spiritual is hidden to those who are not spiritual. This is very plain, and is expressed in the parables for example in Matthew 13:10-11, 34-35:

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.”

All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the found­ation of the world.” (ESV)

Here you see the hiddenness of the kingdom, and yet it has to be revealed in parables. Parables by their very nature both hide and reveal at the same time. The kingdom of God hides from those who are carnal, but reveals to those who are spiritual, who have eyes to see heavenly things.

The word “hidden” (kryptos) is also more frequent in Matthew than anywhere else in the New Testament, just to impress on your mind the fact that this heavenly kingdom can only be seen by those who have eyes for spiritual things.

The result is that those who are members in the kingdom of God will conduct themselves in a certain way in which there is both a hiding and a revealing as in Matthew 6:4, 6, 18:

“so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

“… that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (ESV)

Here we see that the Father is also in secret, that is, He is there only for those who have spiritual perception. In this way, the disciple’s conduct is also characterized by a certain hidden­ness because of its being spiritual. The spiritual man does not dis­play his alms, he does not pray or fast for other people to regard him as being extra holy. His spirituality is inward, it is deep.

To refresh our minds: the kingdom of God — God’s king­ship — is spiritual. And because it is spiritual, it is hidden from the carnal man who cannot see it, yet it is meant to be revealed. It is revealed to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. This expression, “If you have ears to hear, then hear,” is a very characteristic expression in Matthew. You find it for example in Matthew 11:15, 13:9, 43, and several other times in the New Testament. In this connection, we can look at the passage in Matthew 13:15-16.

For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and under­stand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

The conclusion of this second characteristic is that the king­dom of God is hidden. It is not that God intends to hide it; it all depends on whether you have eyes to see and ears to hear. And so the disciples are blessed — because the others have neither eyes to see nor ears to hear — as he said, “Blessed are your eyes because you see, blessed are your ears because you hear.”

The Parabolic Character of the Lord Jesus’ Teaching

We now come to the third characteristic of Matthew which is related to the second: the parabolic character of the Lord’s teaching. This is brought out again by a group of words which are statistically predom­inant in Matthew — words like field, sow, vineyard, tree, and especially like. The word like would not be significant unless you are using it in the right sense as in, “What shall I liken the kingdom of God to?” — that is, what shall I compare the kingdom of God to? The word like in the verb form, homoioō — defined as to be like, become like, and compare — occurs 8x in Matthew, 1x in Mark, 3x in Luke, 0x in John, 1x in Acts, 1x in Paul, 15x in the New Testament. You can see the statistics of the matter: 15 times in the New Testament, of which 8 times are in Matthew, more than half; and only once in Mark, 3 times in Luke. So you see again that this parabolic character is very clear in Matthew’s teaching.

I hope by now that you understand the significance of parables. Parables are meant to conceal the message from those who do not have eyes to see, who are carnal, but reveal it to those who have ears to hear and eyes to see. Many still do not understand the nature of parables, which is why Matthew 13:34 says, “All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a para­ble.” A parable conveys truth, but to understand it requires spiritual insight. You can test the depth of your spiritual in­sight by studying the parables and seeing how much you understand them. It is often a humbling exper­ience when you realize that you are not as perceptive as you thought you were. I certainly have had many occasions to feel very humbled before the Lord.

(c) 2021 Christian Disciples Church