Parable of the Sower: Verse, Meaning & Lesson

The Parable of the Sower is in Matthew 13:3–23, Mark 4:3–20, and Luke 8:5–15. Jesus told this parable to teach that the personal reception and reaction to the Gospel message shapes the effectiveness of of it in one’s life.

This guide gives you a complete summary of the Parable of the Sower, including the verses in Scripture, the meaning, and lessons that can be applied to the Christian life.

Note: This parable is also referred to as the Parable of the Soils and the Parable of the Four Soils.

Parable of the Sower In Scripture

Matthew 13:3–23 – Parable of the Sower

He spoke to them many things in parables, saying, “Behold, a farmer went out to sow.  As he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and devoured them.  Others fell on rocky ground, where they didn’t have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of earth.  When the sun had risen, they were scorched. Because they had no root, they withered away.  Others fell amongst thorns. The thorns grew up and choked them.  Others fell on good soil and yielded fruit: some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

10 The disciples came, and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”

11 He answered them, “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it is not given to them. 12  For whoever has, to him will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever doesn’t have, from him will be taken away even that which he has. 13  Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they don’t see, and hearing, they don’t hear, neither do they understand. 14  In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says,

‘By hearing you will hear,
and will in no way understand;
Seeing you will see,
and will in no way perceive;
15  for this people’s heart has grown callous,
their ears are dull of hearing,
and they have closed their eyes;
or else perhaps they might perceive with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their heart,
and would turn again,
and I would heal them.’

16  “But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. 17  For most certainly I tell you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which you see, and didn’t see them; and to hear the things which you hear, and didn’t hear them.

18  “Hear, then, the parable of the farmer. 19  When anyone hears the word of the Kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away that which has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown by the roadside. 20  What was sown on the rocky places, this is he who hears the word and immediately with joy receives it; 21  yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while. When oppression or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22  What was sown amongst the thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of this age and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23  What was sown on the good ground, this is he who hears the word and understands it, who most certainly bears fruit and produces, some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty.”

Read Matthew 13

Mark 4:3–20 – Parable of the Sower

 As he sowed, some seed fell by the road, and the birds came and devoured it.  Others fell on the rocky ground, where it had little soil, and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of soil.  When the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.  Others fell amongst the thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.  Others fell into the good ground and yielded fruit, growing up and increasing. Some produced thirty times, some sixty times, and some one hundred times as much.” He said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”

10 When he was alone, those who were around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 He said to them, “To you is given the mystery of God’s Kingdom, but to those who are outside, all things are done in parables, 12  that ‘seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand, lest perhaps they should turn again, and their sins should be forgiven them.’ ”

13 He said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How will you understand all of the parables? 14  The farmer sows the word. 15  The ones by the road are the ones where the word is sown; and when they have heard, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. 16  These in the same way are those who are sown on the rocky places, who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17  They have no root in themselves, but are short-lived. When oppression or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they stumble. 18  Others are those who are sown amongst the thorns. These are those who have heard the word, 19  and the cares of this age, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20  Those which were sown on the good ground are those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit, some thirty times, some sixty times, and some one hundred times.”

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Read Mark 4

Luke 8:5–15 – Parable of the Sower

 “The farmer went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell along the road, and it was trampled under foot, and the birds of the sky devoured it.  Other seed fell on the rock, and as soon as it grew, it withered away, because it had no moisture.  Other fell amid the thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it.  Other fell into the good ground and grew and produced one hundred times as much fruit.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Then his disciples asked him, “What does this parable mean?”

10 He said, “To you it is given to know the mysteries of God’s Kingdom, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’

11  “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12  Those along the road are those who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved. 13  Those on the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; but these have no root. They believe for a while, then fall away in time of temptation. 14  What fell amongst the thorns, these are those who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life; and they bring no fruit to maturity. 15  Those in the good ground, these are those who with an honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold it tightly, and produce fruit with perseverance.”

Read Luke 8

Parable of the Sower Meaning

This parable means that the way a person receives and responds to spiritual teachings of the Gospel determines the personal growth and fruitfulness of those teachings in their life. Jesus uses the metaphor of a farmer sowing seeds to illustrate the four responses people have to the Gospel message.

Here’s a brief explanation of each response:

  • Hard Soil: Represents those with hardened hearts who hear the Gospel but don’t understand it, allowing the evil one to snatch away what was sown in their hearts.
  • Rocky Soil: Symbolizes those who receive the Gospel with joy but have no root, so they believe for a while but fall away when troubles arise.
  • Thorny Soil: Depicts those who hear the Gospel, but the worries of life and deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.
  • Good Soil: Illustrates those who hear the Gospel, understand it, and produce a spiritual crop in their lives and the lives of others—yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.

The parable emphasizes the importance of the state of one’s heart in receiving the Gospel and bearing fruit in accordance with it. It’s a call to self-examination and a reminder that the fruitfulness of God’s Word in our lives depends on how we receive and nurture it.

Parable of the Sower Lessons

Sow the Word

The sower represents those who share the Gospel. The first lesson is to spread the Word of God generously and without discrimination so others can hear it and respond to it.

Expect Hard Hearts

Another lesson to be learned is that some people will be unreceptive to the Gospel message, like seeds on a path that birds eat up. This serves as a reminder that not all who hear the Word will accept it.

Beware of Fair-Weather Followers

Like seeds on rocky soil, some people may initially receive the Word of God with joy but fall away when difficulties arise. These fair-weather followers of Christ may seem Christ-centered on the exterior, but internally have turned away from the good news of the Gospel and let their sinful desires take over.

Guard Against Worldly Worries

The thorns in this parable represent life’s worries and wealth that can choke the Word, preventing it from bearing fruit. The lesson here is that some people will ultimately fall away from God because the worries of the world or their selfish desire for wealth are more important than their relationship with Christ. Therefore, you should actively guard yourself against these types of distractions and temptations through prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other Christians so you do not easily fall victim to those situations.

Celebrate God’s Growth

The most important lesson in this parable is that those who hear, understand, and produce a spiritual crop—showing growth and fruitfulness—are ultimately in God’s hands. While we can plant and water the seeds of faith, it is God who gives the growth and fruitfulness in our lives. It’s a call to trust in God’s power to work within us and through us, producing a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.


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Read More Parables In the Bible

The Parable of the Sower is just one of many parables in the Bible. Use the links below to explore more of Jesus’ parables, their meanings, and life lessons.

Summary of the Parable of the Sower

We hope you enjoyed this summary of the Parable of the Sower.

As you discovered, the Parable of the Sower appears in three Scriptures: Matthew 13:3–23, Mark 4:3–20, and Luke 8:5–15. And the primary meaning of the parable is that the way a person receives and responds to the Gospel message determines the personal growth and fruitfulness of those teachings in their life. The life lessons include for you to sow the Word for others to hear; expect a variety of responses such as hard hearts, fair-weather followers, and those who lose faith under tough circumstances; and understand that spiritual growth and fruitfulness are ultimately in God’s hands.

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