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Simile and Parable

Victor M. Eskew




A.   Figures of speech are designed to ignite our emotions, tap into our existing understanding, cause us to think, and make the Bible come alive to us as we read and study it.


B.   Last week, we looked at two figures of speech in the Bible:  the ellipsis, and the metaphor.


C.   In our lesson today, we are going to look at two more figures of speech:  the simile and the parable.


I.             SIMILE


A.   Definition:

1.    Simile comes from the Latin word “similis.”  It mean “similar, resembling closely, or in many respects.

2.    Similes are different from metaphors.

a.    Similes use the words “like” or “as” in making their comparison.

b.    Simile differs from a Metaphor (q.v.), in that it merely states resemblance, while Metaphor boldly transfers the representation” (Bullinger, 727). 


B.   A simile is usually something that is very easily visualized.


C.   Bible Illustrations

1.    I Peter 5:8


Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.


Image result for a stalking lion


2.    When the Midianites, Amalekites, and children of the east came up against Israel (Judg. 6:5).


For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grassphopers for a multitude.



Image result for plague of grasshoppers


3.    Pharisees (Matt. 23:27)


Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and all uncleanness.




Related image


4.    Disciples (Matt. 10:16)


Behold, I send you forth as sheep I the midst of wolves:  be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.


Image result for sheep among wolves  Image result for wise as serpents  Image result for wise as serpents









5.    Man (I Peter 1:24)


All flesh is as grass, and the glory of man as the flower of grass.


Related image


6.    Converted disciples (Matt. 18:36)


And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of God.


Related image


7.    Psalm 1:3-4


And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.  The ungodly are not so:  but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.


Image result for tree by river                Related image




II.           PARABLE


A.   Definition

1.    It comes from the Greek word “parabole” which means “a placing beside” or “to lay along side of.”

2.    We define the word as:  “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”

3.    Some refer to it as a “continued simile” or “extended simile” because some of the parables will use the word “like” when they are introduced.


B.   “In the New Testament instances of the word, it is used of a story with a hidden meaning, without pressing, in every detail, the idea of comparison” (Bullinger, 751).  Example:  The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).

1.    What is the significance of Jerusalem?

2.    What is the significance of Jericho?

3.    What is the meaning of “leaving him half dead”?

4.    What is the meaning of “oil and wine”?

5.    What is the importance of the beast?

6.    What does “two pence” represent?


C.   Examples:

1.    “…The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field” (Matt. 13:24).

2.    “…The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed” (Matt. 13:31).

3.    “…The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven…” (Matt. 13:33).


D.   NOTE:  Not all parables use the word “like” in making the comparison.

1.    Examples:

a.    The Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:3)


And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow.


b.    The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30)


And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.


2.    A controversial story involves “The Rich Man and Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31).

a.    The question has always been:  “Is this a story?” or, Is this a parable?” (NOTE:  The Jehovah’s Witnesses who teach the doctrine of soul-sleep will always argue that this is a parable and not a literal account because, if real, it refutes the doctrine of soul-sleep).

b.    Some argue that it is a real story because of the way it begins.

1)    “There was a certain rich man…” (Luke 16:19).

2)    But, not all parables begin with the words “like” or “as.”

c.    Answer:

1)    A parable is defined as “to lay along side of.”

2)    In this story, there is nothing to lay along side the elements that are contained in the account.

a)    The rich man is just a rich man.

b)    Lazarus is Lazarus.

c)    Abraham’s bosom is Abraham’s bosom.

d)    Abraham is Abraham.

e)    Torments is torments

f)     The father’s house is the father’s house.

g)    The five brethren are the rich man’s five brothers.




A.   “In each of these examples of simile from the Bible, the writers are able to impart vivid imagery and convey deeper meaning to the comparison they make” (www.literarydevices.net, “15 Visionary Simile Examples in the Bible”).


B.   It interesting that there are so many physical things that can be used to help us to understand spiritual things.

1.    I Kings 4:32-33


And he spake three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and five.  And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall:  he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.


2.    It proves to me that the God of the spiritual realm and the God who created this world are one and the same.  He intended for us to find the imagery here to relate to man’s spiritual life.