Parable: (Gr. parabole), a placing beside; a comparison; equivalent to the Heb.
mashal, a similitude. In the Old Testament this is used to denote
1. a proverb
(1 Samuel 10:12; 24:13; 2 Chronicles 7:20)
2. a prophetic utterance
(Numbers 23:7; Ezekiel 20:49)
3. an enigmatic saying
(Psalms 78:2; Proverbs 1:6)
In the New Testament,
1. a proverb
(Mark 7:17; Luke 4:23)
2. a typical emblem
(Hebrews 9:9; 11:19)
3. a similitude or allegory
(Matthew 15:15; 24:32; Mark 3:23; Luke 5:36; 14:7)
4. ordinarily, in a more restricted sense, a comparison of earthly
with heavenly things, "an earthly story with a heavenly
meaning," as in the parables of our Lord.
Instruction by parables has been in use from the earliest times. A
large portion of our Lord's public teaching consisted of parables. He
himself explains his reasons for this in his answer to the inquiry of
the disciples, "Why speakest thou to them in parables?"
(Mark 4:11,12; Luke 8:9,10) He followed in so doing the rule of the divine
procedures, as recorded in
(Matthew 13:13) The parables uttered by our
Lord are all recorded in the synoptical (i.e., the first three)
Gospels. The fourth Gospel contains no parable properly so called,
although the illustration of the good shepherd
(John 10:1-16) has
all the essential features of a parable.