or, Parable: i.e., CONTINUED SIMILE.
Comparison by continued Resemblance.

Par-ab ‘-o-la. Greek, παραβολή (pa-rab ‘-o-lee), a placing beside for the purpose of comparison, from παρά (para), beside, and βάλλειν (ballein), to throw or cast.

The classical use of the word was for one of the subdivisions of παράδειγμα (paradeigma), an example, viz., a presentation of an analogous case by way of illustration.

In the LXX. it occurs about thirty times as the translation of מָשָׁל (mahshal),
and of no other word: and, if we look at some of the sayings to which the word “parable” is applied, the meaning which was attached to it will be clearly seen.

1 Sam. 10:12  We read of “the proverb,” “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
So 24:14 (13):
Of “the proverb of the ancients,” “Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked.”
Compare Ezek. 12:22; 16:44; 18:2.
Deut. 28:37.
2 Chron. 7:20
Psa. 44: 14 (15).
Jer. 24:9. But see under Parœmia.

Growing out of this came a later meaning of מָשָׁל (mahshal) as used of any saying which required an explanation. We see this as early as in Ezek. 20:47-49.

In the New Testament instances of the word, it is used of a story with a hidden meaning, without pressing, in every detail, the idea of a comparison.

As the name of a Figure of Speech, it is limited to what we may describe as repeated
or continued Simile—an illustration by which one set of circumstances is likened to another. It consists in likeness not in representation, and therefore is not a continued Metaphor, as some have said; but a repeated Simile.

This likeness is generally only in some special point. One person may be like another in appearance, but not in character, and vice versa; so that when resemblance or likeness is affirmed it is not to be concluded that the likeness may be pressed in all points, or extended to all particulars.

For example, a lion is used as a resemblance of Christ, on account of his strength and prowess. The Devil is likened to “a lion” because of his violence and cruelty. Christ is compared to a thief, on account of his coming, being unexpected; not on account of dishonesty.

The resemblance is to be sought for in the scope of the context, and in the one great truth which is presented, and the one important lesson which is taught: and not in all the minute details with which these happen to be associated.

The interpretation of the parable must be further distinguished from any application which may be made of it.
For example: in the Parable of the “Ten Virgins” (Matt. 25:1-12), the interpretation belongs to some special point of time immediately preceding the return of the Lord to the earth. This is Indicated by the word “Then,” with which it commences, and by its place in relation to the context. Any lesson for ourselves, as to watchfulness on our part, must come as an application of it to present circumstances.

So with the parable of the Great Supper (Luke 14:16-24). The application to the present time must not blot out the interpretation of it, which refers to the successive ministries connected with the invitations to “the great supper.”

. (1) “A certain man” sends “his servant” to those who had been previously “bidden.” This was Peter’s first ministry (Acts 2-7). All excuse themselves.
. (2) The “master of the house” sends him again to “the streets
and lanes of the city”. This is Peter’s second ministry (Acts 10-12).
. (3) Then “the lord” sends out another servant to “the highways and hedges,”
This is Paul’s ministry to the great Gentile world (Acts 13-28).

Parables are used from the resemblance of one thing to another. The thing, or history, or story may be true or imaginary; but the events must be possible, or likely to have happened; at any rate those who hear must believe that they are possible events, though it is not necessary that the speaker should believe them. Where they are Impossible, such as trees or animals speaking and reasoning, we have Fable; and if the Fable is explained, then we have Allegory (q.v.). See Judges 9:8-15, where we should have Fable, but for the application of it, which we have in verse 16, which renders it Allegory.

We do not propose to give even a list of the parables of Scripture, as they can be so easily and readily found by the reader.

One word of caution, however, we must give: and that is concerning the object of parables. The common idea is that they are intended to make things clear and plain. Hence every young minister and Sunday-school teacher turns to the parables as though they were the simplest things in the world. Whereas they were spoken that
the truth might be veiled from those who “seeing, see not: and hearing, hear not.” See Matt. 13:10-17. Hence they are among the most difficult portions of God’s Word.

Without wearying the student with all the varying definitions and explanations which Rhetoricians and Divines have given, we add what is perhaps the best classification of Similitudes, viz.:
that by P. Rutilius Lupus.
……… 1. Persons without words.
……… 2. Words without persons.
……… 3. Both persons and words.

……… 1. Icon. Simile forming a complete image.
……… 2. Homœon. Simile founded on certain points only.
……… 3. Epagoge. Argument from induction.

.From “Figures Of Speech Used In The Bible” by E. W. Bullinger,
(Public Domain) pages 751-753. Adapted for website compatibility.
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