Growth or not
And the cares¹ of this world²,
and the deceitfulness of riches³,
and the lusts⁴ of other things⁵ entering in⁶,
choke⁷ the word,
and it becometh⁸ unfruitful⁹.
¹) Care, anxiety.
²) World, universe, but also a period of time, age.
³) Riches, wealth, having an abundance of external possessions.
⁴) Desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust.
⁵) The rest.
⁶) Going in as food into a mouth.
⁷) To choke utterly, as almost to suffocate one. Metaphorically the seed of the divine word sown in the mind so it cannot come to proper growth, to become fruitful.
⁸) Begin to be
⁹) Metaphorically without fruit, barren, not yielding what it ought to yield
From other translations:
Then the cares and anxieties of the world and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless. [AMP] but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. [ESV] but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get. The stress strangles what they heard, and nothing comes of it. [MSB] And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. [KJV] but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. [NIV] but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for nice things, so no crop is produced. [NLT] and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. [NKJV]
Now let us see what this verse is telling us.
The cares of this world
The concerns of this century include the many things that are preoccupying people. For some it is about providing the basic necessities of life, while others live under tension and pressure due to prestige and ambition.
Which pertain to this life. The cares of the world (cf. Matt. 6:25ff.),
It concerns the things that belong to this life
By “this age“ is meant the time in which people now live and which lasts until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This time is distinguished from “the age to come”, the time after the second coming (cf. eg Matthew 12:32).
The deceitfulness of riches
(cf. Mark 10:23-25; Luke 12: 16-21; Ephesians 4:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:16)
“The deception of wealth” points to the deceptive idea that in possession of a lot of money and property there is real happiness in life.
The desire of other things choke the word
A deep and important truth! The desire of any thing, otherwise than as it leads to happiness in God, directly tends to barrenness of soul.
The lusts of other things
By “desires for other things”, Jesus is probably referring to all the other wrong desires that prevent spiritual fruit-bearing (cf. Galatians 5:16-22; 1 Peter 4:2,3 and Jude 1:16,18).
Generally speaking, “the desires for everything else ”(cf. Luke 21:34; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; Titus 3:3; Hebrews 3:13, 11:25; James 4:1; 1 John 2:16,17).
This speaks of all the passions or longings, sensual, worldly, “pleasures of this life” as Luke has it ( Luke 8:14 ), the world of sense drowning the world of spirit.
The word used here (Greek: epiqumia) is not evil in itself. One can also yearn (this word) for what is high and holy ( Luke 22:15 ; Philippians 1:23 ).
Like honor, lust, revenge etc.
Where they were not before.
The things mentioned ‘come in’ to the heart. They are temptations and temptations sown there by the adversary (cf. Matthew 13:25).
Let him therefore who has received and retained the word, see that no other desire then enter in, such as perhaps till then he never knew.
Choke the word,
▪︎ First, “The cares of this world” — anxious, unrelaxing attention to the business of this present life;
▪︎ Second, “The deceitfulness of riches” — of those riches which are the fruit of this worldly “care”;
▪︎ Third, “The pleasures of this life,” or “the lusts of other things entering in” — the enjoyments in themselves may be innocent, which worldly prosperity enables one to indulge.
choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
These “choke” or “smother” the word;
▪︎ drawing off so much of one’s attention,
▪︎ absorbing so much of one’s interest,
▪︎ and using up so much of one’s time,
that only the dregs of these remain for spiritual things, and a ragged, hurried, and heartless formalism is at length all the religion of such persons.
When they find a receptive soil in those hearts, then this seed appears to grow much faster than the seed of the Word. When any of these things allow people to grow, the result is that they “choke the Word.”
Faith then cannot grow into maturity in the hearts of these people and unfortunately then does not come to bear fruit. It “becomes unfruitful,” and thus does not fulfill the purpose for which it was sown.
In John, denotes the essential Word of God, Jesus Christ, the personal wisdom and power in union with God, his minister in creation and government of the universe, the cause of all the world’s life both physical and ethical, which for the procurement of man’s salvation put on human nature in the person of Jesus the Messiah, the second person in the Godhead, and shone forth conspicuously from His words and deeds.
This term was familiar to the Jews and in their writings long before a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus used the term Logos around 600 B.C. to designate the divine reason or plan which coordinates a changing universe.
This word was well suited to John’s purpose in John 1
It becometh unfruitful.
It became unfruitful after the fruit had grown almost to perfection.
What a vivid picture is this of the mournful condition of many, especially in great commercial countries, who once promised much fruit!
“They bring no fruit to perfection” ( Luke 8:14 );
Though there may be an indication of much growth in the early stages of such a case, and a promise of much fruit, it after all never ripens.
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And it becomes sterile.
This speaks of the seed that is scattered with a generous hand over the field of this world. The seed is the Word of God. It is also sprinkled on the field of your life.
The purpose of the seed is to bring forth fruit. That is the expectation of the sower, it is also the hope of the farmer.
However, there is a serious possibility in this text, namely that it may become sterile, that it will not give the expected fruits, that it will not come to a harvest.
The seed is not sterile.
The Word is powerful and alive, but It can become unfruitful.
It is not the seed, nor the sower, but the place where it falls that determines whether or not the seed will give fruit.
It depends on the condition of the field of your heart when it doesn’t bear fruit.
When thorns and thistles grow over the germinating seed, it does not receive light and insufficient air, and it is suffocated, and thus it becomes sterile, unfruitful.
Those thorns, saith the Lord Jesus, are the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things that enter the heart.
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