Parable of the Hidden Treasure (2 of 2)

hidden treasure 6

(Continued from yesterday)

Yesterday we looked at the background of the parable of the Hidden Treasure. Today we examine its interpretation. First, how is “treasure” used in the Bible?

Aside from literal treasure, the word is used figuratively in two different sense:
1. God’s chosen people
Ex 19:5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people;
• Deu 7:6 “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.
• Deu 14:2 For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
• Ps 135:4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure.
• Is 33:6 Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, And the strength of salvation; The fear of the LORD
[on the part of His people] is His treasure.

In the OT Israel was the special treasure, but in the NT God’s holy people is expanded to include both Jews and Gentiles. Though the word “treasure” is not used, the meaning is apparent:
1 Pet 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession,
So your famous author was partly right in equating treasure to Israel, but no longer limited to that by NT times.

2. Jesus Christ
2 Co 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. In context, the treasure referred to the gospel (v 3), Jesus Christ as Lord (v 5).
Col 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The “whom” refers to Christ (v 2).

So both schools of interpretation have a biblical basis. The evidence for the treasure as the Church is direct, while that of the treasure as Christ is more indirect.

Of the two, I favor the former, not only because the evidence is direct, but also due to the close imagery. Assuming the treasure to consist of coins as was the custom then, each coin would bear the image of the ruler Mk 12:16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Each individual coin may not be worth a lot, but collectively they become a treasure. In the same way, if Treasure = Church, each person is created in the image of God (Gen 1:27), and they are very valuable in His sight.

However, since the use of the term “treasure” by itself is indicative but not conclusive, we need to look at other clues. From Mt 13:38 we know that the field is the world. There are at least 3 other clues – hidden, joy and buying the field. Let’s see how the two possibilities fit the clues. If Field = World,

If Treasure = Christ,
Hidden – Does not fit, as in what sense is Christ hidden in the world?
Joy – Fit, as Christians receive the word with joy.
Buy field – Does not fit, as in what sense Christians buy the world to get Christ?

If Treasure = Church,
Hidden – Fit, as Christians are “in the world” but not “of the world”.
Joy – Fit, as Jesus in His joy gave His all to redeem the Church Heb 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, …
Buy field – Fit, as Jesus died for the whole world, not just the elect 1 Jn 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

The last clue is more theological and need some elaboration. The man sold all he had to buy the field. If the treasure = Christ, this would imply the seeker gave all he had to buy the world to get Christ, which does not make any sense. However, if the treasure = Church, this means Christ gave up everything to die for the whole world, and in doing so redeemed the elect, the Church, which is exactly what 1 Jn 2:2 teaches. My four-point Calvinism fits with the biblical evidence.

Of the 3 clues, the treasure as Christ fit only one, while the treasure as the Church fit all three. So based on all available evidence, I believe the treasure as the Church to be the correct interpretation. The parable therefore teaches that Christ gave up His all for the sins of the whole world. He satisfied all requirements of the Law. The Church is His special possession. What is our response? The only appropriate response is my all for God’s all, which is exactly what the next parable, the parable of the Pearl, teaches. We will discuss that next time.

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