Jesus explained the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:37-43. Our Lord is the sower and he sowed the gospel message in the “field” of the world. The soil represents men’s hearts into which good or bad seed may take root. If the gospel message (seed) falls on the good soil of an honest, faithful heart, that person may produce the spiritual fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22,23).
This message, truth, light was further spread through the instrumentalities of the apostles. It was sown specifically for the righteous (see Psalm 97:11) so they could follow in Jesus’ sacrificial footsteps (Matthew 16:24) during the Gospel age. Those faithful who produce good fruit may become Christ’s figurative bride. They will eventually shine with him as the sun (Matthew 13:43) to abundantly bless all of mankind.
The tares (weeds, false wheat) of Matthew 13:38 illustrate false Christians, even though they may be relatively good people. False Christians are the product of errors spread after the apostles’ death. The “enemy,” Satan, sowed seeds of false doctrine through prideful humans. The “harvest” represents the current time period ending the Gospel Age, not merely one point in time. This period results in the gathering out of Christian over-comers (ripe wheat) from among others simply professing Christianity (tares, see Matthew 15:8).
The “angels” (Greek word “messengers”) in Matthew 13:39, 41, depict Christian reapers who proclaim the truth. God’s Word is the sickle (tool) used under His direction through Christ to separate the true wheat from the fake wheat.
When the tares are “gathered and burned” (Matthew 13:40 KJV), individuals will not be literally burned. Rather, the false claims to be a “Christian” will be “burned” or destroyed. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
God is judging those who claim to be His and will cast off these false systems of worship (Revelation 18:1-8). Thus, every false doctrine of the nominal Christians systems will be shown to be lies. Individuals will not be literally burned, but will eventually receive God’s pure truth (Habakkuk 2:14).
The harvest work shown in the parable of the wheat and the tares symbolizes some of Jesus’ preparatory work during his invisible presence prior to God’s Kingdom. Eventually, “the desire of all nations” (Haggai 2:7 KJV) will come. God’s will soon will be done on the earth, just as it is done in heaven (Matthew 6:10). Then all mankind will learn truth and righteousness. They will eventually “know the LORD” (Hebrews 8:11 NLT) and see God’s glory (see Isaiah 40:5). “Gladness and joy will overtake them…” (Isaiah 51:11 NIV).