Parables In The Bible

How To Tell if A Story in The Bible is a Parable or a Real Historical Event

Sometimes we can struggle to understand the bible because we are not sure how to tell if what we are reading is an actual historical story, a parable, or perhaps an allegory. So this brings about the question of how do you know if the bible story is a parable or an actual story that happened.

Grace-Based Bible Studies Branded

Jesus would be your best reference point to this question because He told us parables and He even let us know when He was telling one. For example, He would set up a scenario as He told the story by opening with phrases such as “there was a man” or “there once was a woman” and as we hear the message from Jesus we find there is always a moral to the story. On the other hand, as we see real events in the bible like when Jesus referred to Jonah being swallowed by a whale He does speak of that as a parable with the idea that we are supposed to walk away with a lesson to be learned by it.

Prior to Jesus, we look at all stories in the old testament, no matter how sci-fi they seem, as actual history and not as parables. We see the real names of people and cities in these stories which would lead us to safely assume they are actual events that occurred in the history of the bible.

If you want the most simple and direct way to tell if a bible story is true or if it’s a parable then it’s best to look to see if a name was referenced. Jesus never spoke in parables using people’s names. So when Jesus talked about Moses or Abraham He was telling a true story of real people. When no name was mentioned it was a parable. There was a lesson to be learned.

Here are a few examples of how Jesus opened his Parables:

The Parable of The Rich Man – Luke 12:13-21:The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.”

The Parable of The Lost Sheep – Luke 15:1-7:Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son – Luke 15:11:There was a man who had two sons12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager – Luke 16:1-5:There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’

The Parable of the Persistent Widow – Luke 18:1-6In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

Author: Mike Cynar

Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.

It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *