What are Parables?

Jesus frequently told parables as the events were occurring. There are some fifty parables of Jesus in the Bible.

1.    Should one include the Old Testament in any examination of parables?

2.    What are the Characteristics of Jesus’ Parables?

3.    Were Jesus’ parables original with Him? If not, from whom and what source(s)?

4.    Are the parables of Jesus multidimensional?

5.    What types of parables did Jesus employed? 

6.    What links, if any, are there between the written Word of God and the parables of Jesus? 

7.    What was Jesus’ intended purpose in using parables? 

8.    Why did Jesus choose parables as his preferred method of teaching? 

9.    What process did Jesus frequently follow as He told His parables? 

10. Why were the parables of Jesus meant to conceal as well as to reveal? 

11. In which three ways did Jesus seek to teach the people about God? 

12. Are parables being used today, if so, in what settings?

What can you contribute to answering these questions and provide additional information on the subject matter? CM


  • C McC Mc Posts: 3,626

    Parables make (something) clear or explain truth for believers.  It does not attach significance to every element in the story. Short allegorical stories told to bring out a moral or religious truth. Jesus referred to events, people and things which surrounded Him. He also frequently picked up on themes which are found in the Old Testament.

    Jesus employed three types of parables

    1)    Verbal parables: e.g. Ezekiel used five verbal parables to drive home his point. Four of these parables were negative, i.e., they painted a dismal picture of the spiritual and moral climate in Jerusalem.

    A. Apostasy Parables (chap. 16)

    B. Political Parables (chap. 17).

    C. Proverb of the Sour Grapes (chap. 18).

    D. Dirge Parables (chap. 19).

    2)    Acted parables (such as the cursing of the fig tree).

    3)    Miracles. It is frequently overlooked that the miracles of Jesus were not only performed to relieve physical suffering but also to teach deep spiritual truth. This can be seen, for example, in the healing of lepers, blind people and paralytics. 

    I hope this helps? CM


    •  Smith, J. E. (1992). The Major Prophets (Eze 16–19). Joplin, MO: College Press.
    • Arthur S. Herbert, "The 'Parable' (Māšāl) in the Old Testament," SJT 7 (1954): 180-9 6. 
  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 2,745
    edited March 16

    A parable is a figure of speech ...


    In the New Testament instances of the word, it is used of a story with a hidden meaning, without pressing, in every detail, the idea of a comparison.

    As the name of a Figure of Speech, it is limited to what we may describe as repeated or continued Simile—an illustration by which one set of circumstances is likened to another. It consists in likeness, not in representation, and therefore is not a continued Metaphor, as some have said; but a repeated Simile.

    This likeness is generally only in some special point. One person may be like another in appearance, but not in character, and vice versa; so that when resemblance or likeness is affirmed it is not to be concluded that the likeness may be pressed in all points, or extended to all particulars.

    For example, a lion is used as a resemblance of Christ, on account of his strength and prowess. The Devil is likened to “a lion” because of his violence and cruelty. Christ is compared to a thief, on account of his coming, being unexpected; not on account of dishonesty.

    The resemblance is to be sought for in the scope of the context, and in the one great truth which is presented, and the one important lesson which is taught: and not in all the minute details with which these happen to be associated.

    The interpretation of the parable must be further distinguished from any application which may be made of it.


    Source: Bullinger, E. W. (1898). Figures of speech used in the Bible (pp. 751–752). London; New York: Eyre & Spottiswoode; E. & J. B. Young & Co.

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