Treasures Old and New by James R. Coggins

In Luke 13, Jesus had been teaching a series of parables about the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven. He was talking to His followers, and He asked them,“Have you understood all these things?” When they said yes, Jesus told them another parable: “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old” (Luke 13:52). What is the meaning of this parable?

In the parable, Jesus gave the example of a teacher of the law. Teachers of the law were men that the King James Version called scribes. They would make handwritten copies of the Old Testament (like medieval monks) and thus repeatedly study and ponder what it meant. But Jesus said that this scribe had become a disciple (student, learner, follower) in the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, a believer in the new teaching that Jesus was bringing. Jesus said that this person would have a storeroom full of old and new treasures that he would bring out and share with other people. In one sense, Jesus was talking about the apostles, His closest followers, preparing them to be teachers. They would teach people about Jesus but also talk about the Old Testament Scriptures, showing how Jesus was the fulfillment of what God had been doing before. They did this admirably, often preaching about Jesus using Old Testament prophecies.

In another sense, Jesus was talking about Bible teachers in every age and saying that they should teach people “the whole will of God’ (Acts 20:27), the whole Bible, both Old and New Testaments. What Bible teachers should not do is to understand this parable to be saying that they can add their own wisdom and knowledge to the ancient Scriptures, teach both the Bible and their own new ideas as if they are equally valuable. Bible teachers should not boast in their insights or their novel interpretations. They do not create anything. Rather, they are students of the Bible who just see what is already there and shout, “Wow! Look at that!”

The Bible teacher William Barclay saw an application of this passage that I had not noticed. He suggested this passage is about people who become Christians. They have discovered a new treasure. But they do not lose their old treasure, the gifts and abilities they had before they became Christians. Rather, they now put those gifts and abilities to work in the service of the Kingdom of God. I admire and appreciate Barclay very much. I think Barclay’s insight in this case is true and valuable, but I am not sure it is a proper interpretation of this parable. I think he might be adding something.

About jrcoggins

James R. Coggins is a professional writer and editor based in British Columbia, Canada. He wrote his first novel in high school, but, fortunately for his later reputation as a writer, it was never published. He briefly served as a Christian magazine editor (for just over 20 years). He has written everything from scholarly and encyclopedia articles to jokes in Reader’s Digest (the jokes paid better). His six and a half published books include four John Smyth murder mysteries and one other, stand-alone novel. In his spare time, he operates Mill Lake Books, a small publishing imprint. His website is
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