Question and Answer
When the Lord speaks of believers producing fruit, some 30, some 60, some 100-fold, how do you interpret this?
Thank you for your question concerning the believing response of fruitfulness in our Lord's parable of the sower.
The parable is about the coming of God's kingdom in the coming of the Christ. That is the historical situation of the parable. The Sower is Jesus. He sows "the word of the kingdom"; that is, the way of the seed. The presence of the kingdom is seen in the very sowing of the seed. When the seed is sown Satan opposes, and fruitlessness results. ("Not even his brothers believed in him," John 7:5.) The parable is not pessimistic, however. There is the positive response to the sowing of the seed of the word of God. "Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain" (Matt. 13:8). Jesus interpreted this: "This is the one who hears the word and understands it" (Matt. 13:23). The seed has germinal power, containing the promise of future blessing in the labors of Jesus' disciples.
Now for the 30-fold, 60-fold, 100-fold. All of them heard and understood the word. They are on equal footing. The Bible does not countenance anything like 30%, 60% or 100% Christians! As one writer has said, "The only conversions that count in the kingdom are those confirmed by a life of discipleship."
None of the biblical scholars I have consulted dwell on the proportions in the parable. John Calvin wrote of those in the parable who received the truth: "the produce of faith is not always alike," "sometimes more abundant, and at other times more scanty."
Our Lord seems to have lumped together the 30/60/100. It does ring true to human naturethose who come to saving faith come from all kinds of backgrounds, personalities, talents, intellectual capacity, etc. They receive and process the truth of Christ differently, including the time element. In other words, we mature spiritually on vastly differing timetables. But we have all embraced the truth of Christ in the gospel! We are fruitful hearers of the word.
"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)
The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.
The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.
While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.
You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.
The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.
Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been editedall personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expandedto make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.