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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:
Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.: Chapter IV

Early Church Fathers  Index     

4.  Concerning the Parable of the Treasure Hidden in the Field.  The Parable Distinguished from the Similitude.

Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid.” 5178   The former parables He spoke to the multitudes; but this and the two which follow it, which are not parables but similitudes in relation to the kingdom of heaven, He seems to have spoken to the disciples when in the house.  In regard to this and the next two, let him who “gives heed to reading” 5179 inquire whether they are parables at all.  In the case of the latter the Scripture does not hesitate to attach in each case the name of parable; but in the present case it has not done so; and that naturally.  For if He spoke to the multitudes in parables, and “spake all these things in parables, and without a parable spake nothing to them,” 5180 but on going to the house He discourses not to the multitudes but to the disciples who came to Him there, manifestly the things spoken in the house were not parables:  for, to them that are without, even to those to whom “it is not given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” 5181 He speaks in parables.  Some one will then say, If they are not really parables, p. 416 what are they?  Shall we then say in keeping with the diction of the Scripture that they are similitudes (comparisons)?  Now a similitude differs from a parable; for it is written in Mark, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or in what parable shall we set it forth?” 5182   From this it is plain that there is a difference between a similitude and a parable.  The similitude seems to be generic, and the parable specific.  And perhaps also as the similitude, which is the highest genus of the parable, contains the parable as one of its species, so it contains that particular form of similitude which has the same name as the genus.  This is the case with other words as those skilled in the giving of many names have observed; who say that “impulse” 5183 is the highest genus of many species, as, for example, of “disinclination” 5184 and “inclination,” and say that, in the case of the species which has the same name as the genus, “inclination” is taken in opposition to and in distinction from “disinclination.”



Matt. xiii. 44.


1 Tim. iv. 13.


Matt. xiii. 34.


Matt. xiii. 11.


Mark iv. 30.


ὁρμή; also inclination.



Next: Chapter V