Question: Does the parable of “the wheat and the tares” tell us something about the last days?
Answer: The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the parables in Matthew 13 describe the growth and destiny of the Church in the latter days. We can be faithful in spite of the wickedness in the world. The wicked and the righteous grow together until the end of the world. At the Second Coming, the righteous will be taken up first (D&C 88:96) and then the wicked will be burned.
A tare is a “poisonous weed, which, until it comes into ear, is similar in appearance to wheat” (Bible Dictionary, Tares).
24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man (Christ and his apostles) which sowed (planted) good seed (faithful followers of Christ) in his field (the world):
25 But while men slept, his enemy (the devil)came and sowed tares (wicked people) among the wheat (faithful members of the Church), and went his way.
26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27 So the servants of the householder (Christ) came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow (plant) good seed (wheat) in thy field? from whence then hath it tares (where did the tares come from)?
28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up (would you like us to weed out the tares now)?
29 But he said, Nay (No); lest (for fear that) while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers (harvesters or angels), Gather ye together first the tares (wicked), and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat (the righteous) into my barn (my kingdom).
JST Matt. 13:30
Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the wheat into my barn; and the tares are bound in bundles to be burned.
The Joseph Smith translation changes the order of the harvesting. The correct order is that the wheat is gathered first, then the tares are gathered, bundled and burned.
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1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servants, concerning the parable of the wheat and of the tares:
2 Behold, verily I say, the field was the world, and the apostles were the sowers of the seed;
3 And after they have fallen asleep the great persecutor of the church, the apostate, the whore, even Babylon, that maketh all nations to drink of her cup, in whose hearts the enemy, even Satan, sitteth to reign, behold he soweth the tares; wherefore, the tares choke the wheat and drive the church into the wilderness.
4 But behold, in the last days, even now while the Lord is beginning to bring forth the word, and the blade is springing up and is yet tender
5 Behold, verily I say unto you, the angels are crying unto the Lord day and night, who are ready and waiting to be sent forth to reap down the fields;
6 But the Lord saith unto them, pluck not up the tares while the blade is yet tender (for verily your faith is weak), lest you destroy the wheat also.
7 Therefore, let the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest is fully ripe; then ye shall first gather out the wheat from among the tares, and after the gathering of the wheat, behold and lo, the tares are bound in bundles, and the field remaineth to be burned.
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Elder Quentin L. Cook has taught:
In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the Savior declared to His disciples that those who offend and do iniquity shall be gathered out of His kingdom. But speaking of the faithful, He said, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” As individuals, disciples of Christ, living in a hostile world that is literally in commotion, we can thrive and bloom if we are rooted in our love of the Savior and humbly follow His teachings.
Our ability to stand firm and true and follow the Savior despite the vicissitudes of life is greatly strengthened by righteous families and Christ-centered unity in our wards and branches.
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Source: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 47; General Conference, April 2015, “The Lord Is My Light,” by Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 1, Volume 2, by David J. Ridges, p. 39; Bible Dictionary.