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How Can We Understand Jesus’ Parables? Dr. Peter Gurry

Home » How Can We Understand Jesus’ Parables? Dr. Peter Gurry

Dr. Arnold interviews Dr. Peter Gurry about the parables of Jesus.

Topics of conversation include:

  • What is a parable?
  • Why did Jesus choose this method of teaching?
  • How should we interpret parables?
  • How should we apply the parables to our lives?
  • What are some challenging or surprising parables?
  • Resources for understanding the parables

Dr. Peter Gurry (@pjgurry) serves as Assistant Professor of New Testament at Phoenix Seminary. He’s also co-director of the Text and Canon Institute, as well as an elder at Whitton Avenue Bible Church in Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Gurry is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary, and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of several books, including Myths and Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism (IVP Academic, 2019), and Scribes and Scripture: The Amazing Story of How We Got the Bible (Crossway, 2022).

 


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Intro (00:00):

Welcome to Faith Seeking Understanding, a podcast from Phoenix Seminary—helping Christians grow in their understanding of the faith, hosted by Dr. Brian Arnold, president of Phoenix Seminary.

 

Brian Arnold (00:18):

Jesus is the greatest teacher in the history of the world, and he often taught using parables. Some of the most well-known and beloved stories of Scripture come in the form of parables. Think about the prodigal son, who takes his inheritance early, squanders everything in a life of sin, and then slinks back to the father, who meets his returning son with great joy. Or the story about the mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, which sprouts into a large tree. We’re told it’s like the kingdom that seems to start small, but grows enormously. One of my favorites is the persistent widow, who is unrelenting in her request to the wicked judge. Eventually he gives in, and Jesus tells us that our Father, who is gracious and kind, is even more willing to provide for those who ask of him. Through these stories, we come to know what the expansion of the kingdom is like, the significance of faith, and the heart of God. But why did Jesus talk in parables? Even his disciples wondered why he talked cryptically.

 

Brian Arnold (01:13):

How are we to read the parables? How can we understand them? Well, here to guide us through the parables today is Dr. Peter Gurry. Dr. Gurry is assistant professor of New Testament at Phoenix Seminary, and co-director of the Text and Canon Institute, and serves as an elder at Whitton Avenue Bible Church in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to teaching courses in Greek and New Testament, Dr. Gurry conducts research in the field of New Testament textual criticism, and has a book coming out in October, titled Scribes and Scripture: The Amazing Story of How We Got the Bible, co-authored with Dr. John Meade. Dr. Gurry, welcome back to the podcast.

 

Peter Gurry (01:48):

It’s good to be with you.

 

Brian Arnold (01:49):

So our big question today is this—how can we understand Jesus’ parables? And when we look at the New Testament, those first four books of the New Testament, or the Gospels, and Jesus frequently talks in these things we call parables. So let’s begin with definitions. What is a parable?

 

Peter Gurry (02:05):

Right. Good question. So, what is a parable? Okay. The Greek word behind it is very similar to our English word. In fact, we get our English word straight from it. It’s parabole. And it comes from a combination of two parts, which means sort of something like “to throw beside.” And the word actually…a good example of kind of getting at the idea of it is that it can be used of two ships that come side by side to fire on each other in a sea battle. Okay? The idea is to set two things side by side for the sake of comparison. Okay? So think that that’s what a parable is—setting two things side by side for the sake of comparison. Okay? My own personal favorite definition of the parable is it’s a metaphor or simile, drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application—and this is my favorite part—to tease it into active thought. One of the things that makes the parables so significant is that they’re the kind of things that hang with you. They puzzle you. And I think that’s one of the reasons why Jesus taught so often with them, is because they have that ability to tease our mind into active thought.

 

Brian Arnold (03:07):

And why they stick so well. Even a lot of people who don’t know much about the Bible, you say the prodigal son—they know that story, and they have some conceptions about that story. And probably even think of themselves, or somebody else in their life who is the prodigal son or daughter.

 

Peter Gurry (03:21):

Yeah.

 

Brian Arnold (03:22):

Well, you know, at first glance, we look at stories like parables and they seem like cute sermon illustrations, and they should be really clear and easy to understand. But even the disciples, we see in Scripture, struggled at times to understand the parables. Why is that? Why did Jesus choose this method of teaching then?

 

Peter Gurry (03:39):

Right. So keep in mind that parables were common enough in Jesus’ culture. So you find them in the Old Testament, for example. Remember when David sins with Bathsheba, and Nathan, the prophet, comes to him. He tells a parable to convict David of his sin. And in fact, in the book of Proverbs, you find the Greek word for parable used to describe the Proverbs. And one of the things that people should probably know is that the word parable is used in the New Testament for much more than just the famous long narrative parables. It’s used for very short little sayings as well. Okay?

 

Brian Arnold (04:10):

So give us an example of one of those.

 

Peter Gurry (04:12):

Uh, you put me on the spot. I can’t think of one.

 

Brian Arnold (04:14):

<laugh>

 

Peter Gurry (04:14):

I was just trying to think of an example, but there’s one in Luke, I think, when he says “Physician, heal thyself.”

 

Brian Arnold (04:18):

Yes.

 

Peter Gurry (04:19):

I think he calls that a parable, if I remember right.

 

Brian Arnold (04:21):

We’ll say that it’s so.

 

Peter Gurry (04:23):

We’ll say that it’s so. All right. You heard it here first, folks.

 

Brian Arnold (04:25):

<laugh> Even if not. You know, but there’s this perplexing part in Matthew 13. So Jesus just gets done telling the parable of the sower. The sower goes out to sow, some seed falls on the path, some falls on the rock, some fall in the thorns, it gets choked out, some falls on the good soil. And then Jesus is like—thank you for coming to my TED talk, walks away. <Laugh> And the disciples are thinking, what on earth did that mean? And they want to hear. And Jesus kind of chastises them a little bit, and then basically says—seeing they will not see, hearing they will not hear, to you have been given the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but not to them. What are we to understand then about the parables?

 

Peter Gurry (05:05):

Yeah. So I think the important thing in Matthew 13…keep in mind, Matthew 13 is Matthew’s kind of largest section of parables, all parables about the kingdom. And Jesus quotes from the book of Isaiah here to justify his use of parables. And he says, essentially that he is like Isaiah in that when Isaiah comes on the scene and is giving his prophecy, the people have already not responded to the revelation and to the warnings they’ve been given so far. And by this point in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus has been doing all kinds of things to show his authority. And he’s gotten nothing but resistance from the Jewish leaders for it. And so by the time you get to Matthew 13, he starts teaching in parables. What he’s essentially saying is…he says—this is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.

 

Peter Gurry (05:50):

So he’s basically saying—look, because they haven’t listened to what I’ve already told them, now I’m going to make it even harder for them, as a form of judgment on them. They’ve rejected the revelation God’s already given them, in my ministry and before that. And so they’re now going to be given more revelation, but it’s going to be in a form that they can’t understand, that will only heighten their responsibility and judgment. So what I think is important, though, is we do need to qualify the Matthew 13 saying a little bit, because later in Matthew’s own Gospel, when he’s in Jerusalem in his last week he tells another famous parable—the parable of the tenants. And that’s very clearly a parable about himself. And Matthew tells us that after he gives the parable, the Jewish leaders know that he told this parable about them. So I think it’s important to note that he doesn’t…that not all of the parables are designed simply to confuse people, do you see? Rather, these ones are told as a form of judgment, and then other ones they do seem to at least get the gist of enough to know that they’re in the crosshairs, if I can put it that way.

 

Brian Arnold (06:44):

So let’s get a pastoral application in here, because I often hear people who are teaching, preaching, saying—well, Jesus taught in stories, look at the parables. Now go and do likewise. And that’s always seemed a little simplistic to me of what Jesus is trying to accomplish and what we’re trying to do in preaching through illustration.

 

Peter Gurry (07:01):

Sure. So especially because in terms of Matthew 13, it’s a form of judgment. I think a preacher would want to think carefully about that. I mean, I do think in general terms, just in a sense that, you know, Jesus’ parables are extremely memorable and they’re well-crafted, that a preacher ought to be wanting to preach in a way that’s memorable and well-crafted, for sure. I mean, I guess one counter to that is just to say—well, Jesus didn’t only teach in parables. Right? So it’s not like the end-all be-all of preaching.

 

Brian Arnold (07:30):

Sure.

 

Peter Gurry (07:30):

But, um…yeah.

 

Brian Arnold (07:32):

Well, let’s get into interpretion. That’s okay. Let’s get into interpretation of parables and, you know, maybe tease out—what are the theological implications? Can we over-read parables and pull out too many details? I think even in the early church, sometimes they got allegorized, so that every last minute detail was used. But then some people, I think, undersell what we can learn from parables. So how do you teach students, even, kind of the interpretive process of parables?

 

Peter Gurry (07:59):

Yeah, good. So the early church loved to read the parables allegorically, and we can talk a little bit about what that means if you want. But essentially, the early church tended to read the parables and think every single detail mattered.

 

Brian Arnold (08:10):

Let’s do one.

 

Peter Gurry (08:12):

So let’s look at Augustine’s famous one, all right? Where he gives his interpretation of the parable of the good Samaritan, all right? And he says—the man who goes down from Jerusalem to Jericho is Adam himself. Jerusalem is the heavenly city of peace from whose blessedness Adam fell. Jericho means the moon and signifies our mortality, because it is born, waxes, wanes, and dies. The thieves who come to rob him are the devil and his angels, who stripped him, meaning they stripped him of his immortality, and they beat him by persuading him to sin. And they left him half dead. You get the picture, okay? By the time you get to the good Samaritan—you may not be surprised—but the good Samaritan, he says, the word Samaritan means guardian. And therefore, the Lord himself is signified by this name. The binding of the wounds is the restraint of sin. Oil is the comfort of good hope. Wine, the exhortation to work with fervent spirit. The beast that the man is laid on, the donkey, is the flesh in which he deigned to come to us. Being set upon the beast is belief in the incarnation of Christ. The inn is the church. You get the idea…

 

Brian Arnold (09:10):

Paul is the innkeeper!

 

Peter Gurry (09:11):

Yes. The innkeeper is the Apostle Paul, right? So every detail has some connection to theology. And what’s amazing about Augustine, before we…we’re going to probably criticize him here in a second, but before we do, I think we should at least point out to people that that’s a really rich reading of the parable, and really edifying to people. When people…anytime I do it with my students, and they get this whole allegorical interpretation, and see it as a kind of microcosm of all of salvation, they’re kind of blown away. They oftentimes don’t buy it, all of it…

 

Brian Arnold (09:42):

Some of it’s reaching, but I just want to end it and go—and all God’s people said, “Amen.”

 

Peter Gurry (09:46):

Yeah. Well, you being the early church historian.

 

Brian Arnold (09:48):

I am an early church historian. I do have an affinity for it.

 

Peter Gurry (09:50):

For sure. But I think, you know…but even today I could show you Tim Keller’s little book on the prodigal son, called The Prodigal God. And he actually follows the basic line of Augustine, in seeing that it’s actually the good Samaritan who is Jesus. And we are the man who’s been beat up. Whereas I think probably listeners are almost always conditioned to read us as the one—we should be the guy that comes and helps.

 

Brian Arnold (10:10):

We should be nice, yes.

 

Peter Gurry (10:11):

Yeah, that’s right. We should be the good Samaritan, which is true. But we rarely see ourselves in this position of the guy who gets beat up and needs help. Right? So I think Augustine is actually onto something in that particular part of his interpretation. But I do tend to think—

 

Brian Arnold (10:24):

I’m glad to hear you think Augustine’s onto something. The greatest theologian in the history of the church. I think Augustine’s got some potential as a theologian one day, yeah.

 

Peter Gurry (10:32):

He’s on something here. But that brings us to, I think, what is the big question, okay? Because here’s the issue. When you go back to Jesus’ parable of the sower, which we’ve already gone over a little bit, it’s important to realize a lot of the details do have connections, and some do not. So, for example, all the soils represent something, okay? And in the case, say, of the birds that come and take the seed, the birds represent the devil who snatches the Word. Right? But what’s interesting is that in the parable world, you have multiple birds—it’s birds, plural. And Jesus doesn’t draw any significance from the fact that there’s plural birds. So I always tell my students what that teaches us is a principle that the question we have to ask with every parable—and there’s no magic formula—we always have to ask which of the details matter, and how many of them matter. And in my opinion, the best way to sort that out is always pay careful attention to the context in which the parable occurs.

 

Brian Arnold (11:21):

So before, in terms of like what you mentioned at the end of Matthew, where it’s in the context of the Pharisees are near, and Jesus tells it, and they’re like—that sounds a little suspicious, I think he’s talking about us. So we’re going to read the details of that parable, even in light of him critiquing the Pharisees. So it would not be wrong to see the Pharisees as actors within the parable.

 

Peter Gurry (11:44):

That’s right. Or take the parable of the prodigal son. Okay? Probably the most famous, along with the good Samaritan. If you read it in isolation, you can come to all sorts of conclusions about it. But when you read it in context, you see there are two parables right in front of it. They are both parables of lost-ness, where things are lost—the lost coin and the lost sheep. And in both cases, the lost thing is found, and most importantly, is that after the lost thing is found, there’s a celebration. And if you read right before those two parables, Jesus castigates the Scribes and Pharisees for not responding appropriately to the fact that sinners and tax collectors are responding to his ministry. And we’re told that the Jewish leaders are grumbling, right? Okay, well then you read the parable of the prodigal son, and it’s really a story about two lost sons. Not one lost son, but two lost sons.

 

Peter Gurry (12:28):

And what does the father do when the son comes home? He throws a party for him. Which is exactly what Jesus has said the angels in heaven do anytime a sinner repents. And the question in the parable of the prodigal son is—will the older brother come into the party? You see, it’s not just a parable about God’s forgiveness of the repentant sinner. It’s certainly about that. But there’s a whole second half of the parable that’s just as long as the first half. And it’s all about the older brother and the question of whether he’s going to come in and join the party and celebrate with him. Which is just what the Scribes and Pharisees have been doing.

 

Brian Arnold (12:57):

I think that’s absolutely key. Because the first two ones, yeah, the lost sheep and the lost coin, don’t come with that other part. And I think people really forget the older brother in the story of the parable of the prodigal son, which seems to be the emphasis. Now we can pull out—what is the father like as he runs towards his son? There’s a beautiful picture there. What does it look like to be in the pigsty of sin, and knowing that your father is full of love and grace, and returning? But what is it also like to be a self-righteous Pharisee? Who his heart is hardened against the father?

 

Peter Gurry (13:28):

And thinks that some people don’t deserve God’s forgiveness.

 

Brian Arnold (13:30):

Unjust, yeah.

 

Peter Gurry (13:31):

Not realizing that no one deserves God’s forgiveness, including them. Right? In a way, it’s the story of Jonah, right? Retold.

 

Brian Arnold (13:39):

Yeah. Which also doesn’t have the ending that people think it has.

 

Peter Gurry (13:42):

But also it’s an open-ended story of how will you respond, right?

 

Brian Arnold (13:47):

Yeah. Not the way we get it in Sunday school, often, in a lot of these stories. But I think that’s critical. So setting the parable in the context in which it comes in the Gospels. Who is Jesus’ audience? How is he addressing this? Why is he using this? Will even help us with the details of the parable itself.

 

Peter Gurry (14:04):

Yep. So I avoid telling my students that there’s always one point of the parable. Because I don’t think that’s quite helpful. But then I also tell them, say, you don’t need to feel bad if there are details you don’t know what to do with. Because they may just be there sake of the parable, the story. In fact, Tertullian, who I’m sure you’re a fan of, Tertullian says at one point, in talking about the parables, he says—look, there are details in the parables that don’t matter. Why are there a hundred sheep? Because you have to have some number from which the other…the one is lost. Why are there 10 coins? Because there has to be some number from which the other is lost. Why is there a broom? Because that’s how you sweep a house. Right? <laugh> So Tertullian realizes—and he’s from the early church. So not everybody in the early church just goes hog wild on the allegorizing. Some of them do recognize there are some restraints here, and maybe not everything is significant.

 

Brian Arnold (14:45):

Yeah. Well let’s talk about another kind of interpretive challenge that we get when we come to the parables. And one of those is moralizing. So taking the parables in order to teach kind of moral principles. Like we said with the good Samaritan—be a good person. And another school of thought that almost completely negates that and says—no, let’s make them all about Jesus or something. So how do we find ourselves on that kind of interpretive spectrum?

 

Peter Gurry (15:10):

Yeah. So this is kind of part of a much larger debate about how to kind of apply the Scriptures, and how we think about the doctrine of sanctification and all that. But I would say, you know, the parable of the good Samaritan is a good example, in that—and I hate to just say it’s both/and—but I think it is both. And because Jesus does clearly say at the end of the good Samaritan—go and do likewise. So there has to be some moral imperative with it in our teaching of it. But what I find so fascinating in the parable of the good Samaritan is that the question asked that begins the parable is—who is my neighbor? Remember this? The question Jesus asks at the end is—who was a neighbor? Which is a slightly different question. And whenever that happens, it’s really fascinating.

 

Peter Gurry (15:49):

You ought to pay close attention. And that’s where I think Jesus getting at something deeper than just—love other people, or love your enemies, which I think is part of it. But I think it’s a bigger question of—who’s been a neighbor to you first, that then has transformed you in such a way that you can then be a neighbor to others? Because the lawyer’s response is quite interesting. He won’t say “the Samaritan.” It’s almost as if he can’t put the word on his lips. He says, “the man who showed mercy.” Which of course is the right answer. But it’s striking that he refuses to say “Samaritan.” It’s as if what Jesus is saying is—your heart has to be changed first, before you’re going to be in a position to actually be a good Samaritan to somebody else.

 

Brian Arnold (16:25):

Well, absolutely. I think that’s an important detail of that kind of text. And help us to stay on the donkey, as we would say. I love to quote Martin Luther on this. He said the church is like a drunken peasant—falls off one side of the donkey to come up and fall off the other side. And I think we kind of go between the moralizing of the text, and then saying—well, there’s no moral implication of the text at all. And we need to be people who say both/and. We can glean both these things from them. Just like you said—there might not be one only interpretation to a parable. There’s multiple things that Jesus is doing. That’s part of it. You said at the beginning, “arresting our minds, with vivid language.”

 

Peter Gurry (17:03):

A great way, I think, to think about it, is actually going back to the Reformers, who distinguished various uses of God’s law, of God’s imperatives to us. They said one of the uses of God’s law is to convict us of sin. Right? But one of the uses of the law is once we’ve been convicted of sin, and repented of our sin, had our hearts transformed, then is to help us know how to live. And so, for example, when I’m preaching, I think two things. One, I want to remind people of what Jesus has done for them. Always. That’s first and foremost. But then I also need to give them guidance about how to live. They need that help. They need that instruction. Right? And so, like you said, it’s not either/or, but ideally I always want to keep both of those two things together—remind people of what Christ has done on their behalf, that they can’t do for themselves, because that will humble them. But then, having heard that good news, now there is a question, a legitimate question, of—okay, now how do I go out and love my neighbor?

 

Brian Arnold (17:48):

Okay. Let’s switch gears. And let me ask you this question, as you’ve taught electives, even on the parables before. Are there any parables that seem to surprise students? Like the ones that just aren’t thought of that often and have kind of surprising interpretations to them? Or ones that you see are some of the more challenging ones to interpret?

 

Peter Gurry (18:07):

Yeah. My own personal favorite one is probably the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, because that’s one that students often have a lot of questions about, or are very confused about.

 

Brian Arnold (18:16):

Yeah. Well it’s interesting—you’re saying a parable. That’s going to shock maybe even some listeners, because that’s a little bit of an open debate. Is the rich man and Lazarus a parable? Or is it more of a historical story?

 

Peter Gurry (18:26):

Okay. This is true. Yes. John Calvin, for example, thought it was a real story. And he thought that for what is a good reason, a true observation, that is it’s the only parable—if it’s a parable—it’s the only one that has a named character in Lazarus. So Calvin, rightly noting that, rightly observing that, drew the conclusion that it’s not a parable then, as a result. The problem is, I think, Calvin, at this one point, was not reading his Greek New Testament carefully enough, because this parable starts the exact same way in Greek that the last four parables in Luke’s Gospel have all started, including the parable of the prodigal son. But the parable of the lost sheep starts with “a certain person,” parable of the lost coin, “a certain woman,” the parable of the prodigal son, “a certain man.” Then the parable in the beginning of chapter 16, the dishonest manager, “there was a certain rich man.” And then our parable, “there was a certain rich man.” It’s a little bit clearer in Greek, because English translations tend to vary their translations of the particular Greek construction there. But yeah, I think it’s very clearly meant to be a parable. Now where I agree with Calvin—having disagreed with him, maybe I should redeem him. <laugh> Calvin says, regardless of whether it’s a real story or a parable, what really matters is the theology of it.

 

Brian Arnold (19:33):

That’s right.

 

Peter Gurry (19:33):

And I totally agree with him on that.

 

Brian Arnold (19:35):

So what trips your students up the most about this parable?

 

Peter Gurry (19:37):

Well, what’s so confusing is on first read it seems to be a parable about how poor people go to heaven and rich people go to hell. Which tends to find…you know, our affluent students tend to find a little bit disconcerting. And then also it seems to indicate that people in hell can see people in heaven, and talk to each other across this divide, but you can’t cross it. So there’s a number of things that really just trip students up in this.

 

Brian Arnold (20:01):

Well, as any scholar likes to do—in 30 seconds, resolve it for us. <laugh>

 

Peter Gurry (20:06):

Well, okay. So just a couple things. One is, keep in mind it’s not a parable about rich people going to hell and poor people going to heaven, because if that were the case, then Lazarus wouldn’t go to Abraham’s bosom, or his side. To say Abraham’s bosom is a way of saying you have a prime place at the great feast, the banquet at the end of all time. Right? And so Abraham, of course, in the Old Testament is extremely wealthy. So the fact that he’s there just shows you that this is not about rich people going to hell. What it is a parable about, though, is the way, or the danger, of wealth cauterizing our hearts and making us insensitive to the needs of other people. So the rich man lives in opulence. He wears purple and fine linen. He feasts essentially every day.

 

Peter Gurry (20:46):

Meanwhile, Lazarus is outside his gate, and just wants to eat the scraps from his table—what’s for the dogs. But instead of eating the dog food, he doesn’t get even that, the dogs actually come and make him their food, because they come and lick his sores. Right? And then what’s remarkable is once the rich man ends up in Hades and he is in torment, he still knows Lazarus’s name. And I think that’s the reason for the name in this parable, because it’s…what Jesus is saying to us is—if you think you’re going to get the rich man off the hook by saying, well, he wasn’t aware of the man’s need…that can’t be the explanation. Because he knows his name. What are the chances that this guy has been outside his front door all these years, and he’s completely unaware, but somehow knows his name? If you know somebody’s name, and they’re on the street, that’s because you know their situation too. He could have helped him. And he didn’t. And what’s so striking is that even in the afterlife, the rich man seems to continue to have a very hard heart. He continues to seem to want to sort of boss Lazarus around and tell him what to do, and shows no signs of remorse for his previous actions.

 

Brian Arnold (21:47):

Yeah. And I think that is…obviously, if we want to pull a main point away, that’d be it. But one of the things I pull away from that text, too, is how he wants to go back and tell his brothers about this. And they say—you have Moses and the prophets. So it even shows the sufficiency of Scripture. People say, “oh, well, if God just showed himself right here, sent somebody back from the dead, or did whatever.” That’s not the issue. Scripture is actually sufficient to convict hearts and change them.

 

Peter Gurry (22:09):

And that’s what Jesus had said—and this going back to the importance of context for interpreting a parable—Jesus had brought up three things right before this parable in criticizing the Pharisees. He says they were lovers of money, they were those who justified themselves before men, and he tells them—the law and the prophets were until John, and that it’s easier it for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the law to become void. And what does he say at the end to the rich man? He says—they have Moses and the prophets. If they don’t listen to them, neither will they be convinced if someone would rise from the dead. So it’s a threefold, I think, point of the parable. One, the dangers of wealth, the dangers of self righteousness, and then thirdly, the danger of thinking that you somehow need more than God’s Word to know what he expects from us.

 

Brian Arnold (22:52):

Well I love that we got to take a deep dive into an actual parable to watch kind of how you think through them and ways that we can interpret them. So for those listening today, if you could mention maybe one or two resources that you find helpful for people who want to know the parables, where would you point them?

 

Peter Gurry (23:12):

The best book by far is one by Klyne Snodgrass on the parables. It’s a big one. So if you’re a pastor out there listening, that’s the one you need to grab, especially if you’re going to do a preaching series through the parables, or maybe teach them in Sunday school. There’s another smaller book that really builds on that book, but brings it down to the layperson, by an author named Michelle Lee Barnewell. And I forget what the title of her book is, but it’s got parables in the title.

 

Brian Arnold (23:34):

Yeah.

 

Peter Gurry (23:34):

It’s short and sweet, but draws out many of the good insights from Snodgrass’ bigger book.

 

Brian Arnold (23:40):

And then one of the things you mentioned earlier is Tim Keller’s book on the prodigal God. So that might be…if somebody wanted to read about the prodigal son, a specific parable, that would be another one.

 

Peter Gurry (23:50):

Yeah. And especially if they want to see it in a very different light than they probably are used to thinking. If they’re used to just thinking, you know, the good—sorry, the prodigal son is, you know, pretty simple and obvious, you might pick that one up.

 

Brian Arnold (24:01):

Well, thanks for this conversation today. I think people are going to continue to be enamored by Jesus’ parables. And I hope that everyone listening today goes back and reads one and can be benefited by understanding the kingdom, and the necessity of faith, and just how Jesus brings these important themes to life through these everlasting stories.

 

Peter Gurry (24:21):

Absolutely.

 

Outro (24:13):

Thank you for listening to Faith Seeking Understanding. It means so much to us that this content is helping you grow in your understanding of the faith. I want to take a moment to tell you about our new online learning experience at Phoenix Seminary. Over the last year, we’ve been creating what we believe to be the highest quality of online courses for ministry training. If you’re called to train for a lifetime of faithful service, but can’t join us on campus, I’d like you to invite you to join us online. Take courses featuring some of the guests you’ve heard on Faith Seeking Understanding, including Wayne Grudem, Mike Thigpen, Steve Duby, myself, and more. Learn more about Phoenix seminary online, and even access the entire online lecture content for my church history course at ps.edu/online.

 

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