Doctrine of Sowing and Reaping

January 10, 2011

I. Vocabulary.
A. Hebrew vocabulary.
1. [r;z” (zara’), verb, 56X, the action of sowing seed in a field.
a. [r;z< (zera’), m.noun, lit. a sowing, used of seedtime, the time for sowing,
used of seed, that which is scattered or sown.
b. [;WrzE (zerua’), 2X, that which is or has been sown.
3. rc;q’ (qatsar), verb, to cut off, to reap or harvest grain. The participle refers
to one that performs this action, a reaper.
a. ryciq’ (qatsiyr), m.noun. This noun is used for the process of harvesting,
the time of harvesting, the harvest season, and for that which is
harvested, the harvest or crops.
B. Greek vocabulary.
1. spei,rw (speiro), verb, 53X, to sow or scatter seed.
a. spe,rma (sperma), n. noun, 44X, the seed, that from which a plant
germinates, the grain or kernel that contains within itself the germ of
the future plant. Often used collectively.
2. qeri,zw (therizo), verb, 21X, to reap or harvest.
a. qerismo,j (therismos), m.noun, 13X, the act or process of reaping, the
time of reaping, that which is reaped, the harvest or crops.
b. qeristh,j (theristes), m.noun, 2X, reapers, only used of angels and the
final harvest.
II. Definition and description.
A. Agriculture is generally defined as the art and science of cultivating the
ground, planting, raising and harvesting of crops.
B. It is a science because it is governed by various natural, physical laws.
C. It is an art since it is necessary to possess and apply certain skills that are
learned only by attention, observation, and patience.
D. The physical process of planting seed and reaping or harvesting the grown
plant is used to illustrate certain spiritual realities.
E. The law of sowing and reaping governs the entire physical realm; that is, one
could not plant apple seeds and ever hope to harvest anything but apples.
F. The spiritual law of sowing and reaping governs the entire world as well, believer
and unbeliever alike.
G. It is axiomatic, a self-evident and universally accepted truth to state that you
will reap what you sow.
H. This is called a law because it describes a relationship observed to be invariable
between or among phenomena for all cases in which the specified conditions
are met.
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III. Origin and duration of this law.
A. The natural order of things on planet earth bears silent witness to the power,
wisdom, and deity of God. Rom. 1:20
B. For instance, the cycle of day and night is designed to teach the choice between
light and darkness, Divine viewpoint and Satanic viewpoint.
C. Just as there exist certain physical laws and realities that govern the reality of
mankind, it should be evident that there also exist spiritual laws that one cannot
violate without consequences.
1. The law of gravity.
2. The laws of thermodynamics.
3. Newton’s law
D. In Genesis 8:22 God stated that seedtime and harvest would be perpetual realities
that would exist in the physical realm.
E. In corresponding fashion, the spiritual law of sowing and reaping continues to
exist and remain operative throughout the course of the angelic conflict. Gal.
IV. The process explained.
A. The farmer prepares the soil for the introduction of the seed into that soil,
tends to the seed as it grows, and eventually harvests the mature fruit.
B. It is evident that the farmer plants the seed with a definite understanding of
what will occur; in fact, he has that end in view when he begins this entire
C. The farmer is analogous to any individual, whether he is a believer or an unbeliever.
D. The seed represents any deed, good or bad. cp Job 4:8 Jn 4:36
E. The harvest is analogous to the time of judgment for your actions, expressed
in either retribution or remuneration.
F. Sowing and reaping is designed primarily to teach the reality that our actions
have certain, unavoidable consequences.
V. Specific areas the Word of God stresses in regard to the principle of sowing and
A. The first the law of sowing and reaping as it relates to SG3. Gal. 6:6-9
1. The exhortation begins with a command to avoid deceiving yourself, or
being deceived by any other external means. vs. 7
2. Paul points out that God is not effectively disregarded in this or any other
matter. vs. 7
3. The maxim of sowing and reaping is explicitly stated in verse 7 as well.
4. The one who sows to his own flesh refers to the person that engages in
actions that are motivated by the STA, designed to provide personal stimulation
and satisfaction. vs. 8
5. The result will be Ph3 corruption or destruction, loss of reward at the
Bema seat. vs. 8
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6. Here, the harvest is viewed as being some indefinite time in the future, not
necessarily the immediate future. cf. vs. 9
7. The one who sows to the Spirit refers to the individual that understands
the Royal imperatives and executes them, rather than pursuing the gratification
of the sin nature. vs. 8
8. The promise for that individual is a harvest of eternal life. vs. 8,9
9. Since the time between the planting and the harvest can seem interminable
and protracted, the exhortation of verse 9 is quite appropriate.
10. The danger of soul fatigue when pursing Divine good is certainly a hazard;
but the promise of verse 9 assures the believer of maximum SG3 if they
faithfully continue to execute. ICor. 15:58
B. There is a also a related Ph2 application of the law of sowing and reaping.
Gal. 6:7-8
1. Those believers that sow to the STA, pursuing gratification of the OSN
over the application of Bible doctrine, will reap discipline in time as well
as loss in eternity. Rom. 8:12-13
2. Sowing to the sin nature includes the commission of such actions as are
listed in Galatians 5:19-21
3. Those that plant such seeds will reap a life in time dominated by these
very vices. Prov. 22:8; Hosea 8:7
4. Additionally, those that sow to the STA will reap further corruption as
they continue to decline doctrinally and morally as time passes. IIPet.
5. Consistently sowing to the flesh results in a life dominated by STA activity,
the resultant decline in doctrinal and moral fiber, the consistent discipline
of the Father, Ph2 misery, and finally, loss at the Bema seat.
6. This concept of Ph2 reaping is observed in the Old Testament in such
places as Job 4:8, Prov. 22:8, and Hosea 8:7-8
7. While this process is individual, it explains the decay and corruption we
observe in society as it degenerates.
C. The law of sowing and reaping governs the finances of every believer. IICor.
1. Each believer that receives sound doctrine and partakes of the benefits of
an adjusted ministry is under the Royal imperative to provide financial
blessing for his teacher. Gal. 6:6; ICor. 9:7-11
2. God is not effectively defied and disobeyed in this or any other matter.
Gal. 6:7
3. This is the first priority of each individual believer in the local church and
is the first priority of the church corporately. ICor. 9:7-11; ITim. 5:17-18;
IITim. 2:6
4. The finances of each believer are provided as part of the manifold grace of
God, not by his own abilities or ingenuity. IICor. 9:10
5. It is from this harvest that each believer has seed for the purpose of sowing.
IICor. 9:10
6. Each believer is to determine before the Lord how much of his seed he intends
to plant. IICor. 9:7
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a. This is to be done voluntarily. …as he has purposed in his heart…
b. This is to be done without reservation. …not grudgingly…
c. This is to be done without coercion. …or under compulsion…
d. This must be done with the proper mental attitude in order to qualify
as Divine good production. IICor. 9:5; Matt. 6:2-3
e. This must be done consistently. ICor. 16:2
7. The one that plants few seeds cannot ever hope to harvest a large crop; but
the one that plants much seed is promised a bountiful harvest. IICor. 9:6;
Prov. 11:24-25
8. Each believer is a steward, all the money is God’s and if you do not use it
appropriately, He will take what He wants. Mal. 3:7-12
9. Failure to function honorably in this area manifests a lack of confidence in
doctrine and may indicate a problem with greed. Lk. 12:15; Col. 3:5
10. Failure to function under this aspect of your stewardship destines you for
financial problems and indicates some level of spiritual failure. Prov.
11:28; Lk. 16:9-14
11. The one sure way to short circuit the blessing of God in your life is to have
a mental attitude love of money and keep all that God has provided for
yourself. Prov. 11:24-25; ITim. 6:17
12. There is a Ph2 as well as a Ph3 sense in which the believer that effectively
overrules the sin nature and makes consistent applications in this area will
reap rewards. Lk. 6:38; IICor. 9:10-11; Gal. 6:8
VI. Further concepts that are taught or illustrated by the principle of sowing and reaping.
A. The most familiar truth taught using sowing and reaping as an example is the
reality of the Word of God and how it functions in the context of human volition.
Mk. 4:1-20
1. The seed is the Word of God. vs. 4,14
2. The sower is the communicator of doctrine. vs. 3,14
3. The field or soil represents the volition of individuals that hear the truth.
vs. 15,16,18,20
4. Their volitional response to the truth is compared to the conditions that
might exist in any given field.
5. The birds of the air represent men that are committed to the viewpoint of
Satan and actively seek to undermine the truth by means of the hypocrisy
of liars. vs. 4,15; ITim. 4:1ff; Rev. 18:2
6. The first volitional response is that of the negative unbeliever. vs. 4,15
7. The next volitional response is that of the shallow/superficial believer, initially
excited by the truth but lacking any real commitment to the pursuit
of doctrine. vs. 5-6,16-17
8. The third category of volition is the believer that never truly breaks off the
pursuit of the cosmos, placing the pursuit of the details of life above the
pursuit of the truth. vs. 7,18-19
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9. The final category is comprised of the few believers that are intellectually
honest and purse the truth diligently; thus, producing the fruit the farmer
seeks. vs. 8,20
10. It should be evident that the crop or harvest was the basis for all the hard
work of the farmer. Eph. 2:10; Tit. 2:14, 3:1,8
B. This agricultural analogy is used to teach the reality that believers and unbelievers
will live side by side in the Church Age until the time of the end.
Matt. 13:24-30,36-43
1. The field is the entire world. vs. 38
2. The farmer is Messiah. vs. 37
3. In this case, the good seed refers to those that have believed the Word of
God, believers. vs. 38
4. The enemy is Satan. vs 39
5. The tares are imposters, unbelievers attempting to pass themselves off as
believers. vs. 38
6. The time of the harvest is the end of Daniel’s 70th week, the second advent
when the sheep and goats are separated. vs. 39; Matt. 25:31-32
7. The reapers are angels. vs. 39,41
C. This analogy is used to communicate information regarding the superiority of
the resurrection body to the physical body that currenly houses the soul. ICor.
D. It is also employed to exhort believers to exercise patience, citing the example
of the Father and the concept of the early and latter rains. James 5:7-8
E. Solomon utilizes this concept to teach the principle of diligence; he rebukes
the lazy person and exhorts one to have a proper work ethic. Eccles. 11:4,6
F. The Mosaic Law uses the sowing of two kinds of seed to teach the doctrine of
separation. Lev. 19:19; Deut. 22:9
G. This teaching is used to illustrate that God Himself will reestablish national Israel
in their land. Jere. 31:27-28
H. The fact that lower creation does not engage in agricultural pursuits is used to
teach believers that they are to faith-rest their Ph2 provision and not pursue the
details of life. Lk. 12:22-24
VII. Conclusions.
A. Just as there are physical laws, like gravity, that govern every aspect of our
existence, there are spiritual laws that govern the world as well.
B. Ignorance of any law does not exempt anyone from that law; the consequences
of disobedience to a law are just as certain as if one had known.
C. The believer must not be deceived into thinking that they are above the laws
that govern the universe, either physical laws or, more importantly, spiritual
D. Failure to acknowledge and orient to a law may have dire consequences.
E. When the believer understands and orients to the laws of God, the result is
F. If one rejects the laws of God, he can expect Divine discipline in time, some
attendant misery, and loss at the Bema Seat.