The Kingdom of Heaven Likened Unto A Pearl of Great Price

Matt. 13:45,46

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:

Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.


I.    False theories about the pearl.

A.  Theory # 1 - Lost man seeking salvation (False).

1.      Rom. 3:11 - Lost people don't seek Christ, He seeks them.

2.      Psalms 14:3 - God looked down through time and found no person ever sought him.

B.   Theory # 2 - Jesus seeking a plan of salvation (or people to save).

1.      There is no passage that states that Jesus came into the world seeking a plan of salvation; and that the great pearl is the great plan of salvation he could find.

2.      There is no scripture that states there is another plan of salvation.

3.   The one salvation God gives is the only salvation there is.

4.      Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost - Luke 19:10.

C.   Theory # 3 - The pearl is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1.      There is no passage in the entire Bible that says the pearl is the church, or anywhere near that thought.

2.   If the pearl is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, then it would naturally follow that the church is not the bride of Christ, but the entrance into the dwelling place of the bride, Rev. 21:21.


II.   Fact - The pearl is a likeness of the kingdom of God, not of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ!  This is what the Bible says in this verse!

A.  The saved person greatly desires the values he sees in the pearl.

1.   The merchant man spends valuable time seeking for the pearl.

a)   By the word "merchant" is meant a person that is a traveler; a person that is on a journey, whether by sea or land, especially one who is engaged in a trade.  He is a person that is looking for things to buy so that he might sell them at a higher price, thus making a profit.

b)   It seems this merchant man is referring to a saved man on this earth who is looking for a way in which to spend his life profitably, thus making a "profit" that will be redeemed in heaven.  This individual understands the importance of exchanging his time on this earth for the best of eternity.  He is not a lost person looking for salvation, because that doesn't happen. 

2.   He looks the entire world over for this special pearl.

a)   How does he know this pearl is in the world?

b)   Because he already has salvation, and knows God hasn't saved him to leave him to the wicked people of this world.

3.      Compare to "a man" in verse 44 and "a householder" in verse 52.  Notice the progression of thought in the parables from verse 44-52.

a)   The parable of the treasure hid in the field.

(1)      There is a man; a common, ordinary man.

(2)      The man "found" the treasure.  It appears to be an "accident" that he found the treasure.

b)   The parable of the pearl of great price.

(1)      There is a merchant man, a man seeking to make a profit.

(2)      He is seeking goodly pearls.  It is no "accident" that he finds one pearl of great price.

c)   The parable of the householder.

(1)      There is a householder, or a long time resident.

(2)      He has already obtained all the treasure (the values of the kingdom of God) and is willing to share it with others.

B.   The merchant man sells all he has to buy the pearl.

1.      Matt. 16:26 - What would a man give in exchange for his own soul?

2.      Matt. 19:16-22 - The rich young ruler wouldn't give up his "good works" for salvation, or the wealth of eternal values.

3.   The merchant man gives his entire life (all of his time, resources, and efforts) into having the pearl.

a)   He must go through much suffering to have enough to buy the pearl.

b)   He must go through much suffering to make his own life a pearl.

C.   The pearl is formed over many years.

1.      This means that the pearl, which is descriptive of the values of the kingdom of God, is formed over many, many years by many, many people.

2.   It also means that it takes many years of a person's life to make his life a pearl for God.


Scriptures Using The Word Pearl Or Pearls


III. There are 9 passages in the entire Bible that use the word "pearl" or "pearls".  The word pearl and pearls is found 10 times in the entire Bible.




No. of times

Our text

Matt. 13:45,46

2 times




The pearl as a sign of great wealth

I Tim. 2:9

1 time


Rev. 17:4

1 time


Rev. 18:12 

1 time


Rev. 18:16 

1 time




The pearl is a sign of great value 

Job 28:18 

1 time


Matt. 7:6 

1 time




The pearl as gates of the New Jerusalem 

Rev. 21:21 

2 times


A.  I Tim. 2:9 - 1 Timothy 2:9  In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

1.      Paul declares that it is much better for a woman to adorn herself correctly than to dress with costly clothes, and jewelry.

a)   The word "modest" means that which is of good behaviour (I Tim. 2:2 - "of good behaviour").

b)   The word "apparel" the garment she wears to cover herself.

c)   The word "shamefacedness" doesn't mean to be ashamed, but the entire countenance of the woman ought to reflect her majesty, honor, reverence, and regard to others.

d)   The word "sobriety" means soundness of mind, or soberness.

B.   Three times as a sign of great wealth possessed by the great whore.

1.      Revelation 17:4  And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

2.      Revelation 18:12  The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,

3.      Revelation 18:16  And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

4.      These three passages all refer to the pearl as a measure of material wealth.  The Great Whore possesses great wealth, and deals constantly in great sums of money.  When the Great Whore is destroyed, all this financial "wheeling and dealing" is gone.  Because of this the merchants of the world have great torment.  One source of their gaining wealth has been destroyed, and they don't know how they are going to replace that source of wealth.


IV. The pearl spoken of as something good, and very valuable.

A.  Job 28:18  No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom [is] above rubies.

1.   Job continues talking to his three "friends", telling them that the price of wisdom is far above any earthly treasure.

2.      Proverbs 3:13-18 - The merchandise (profit) of wisdom is better than the merchandise of silver and gold.

B.            Matthew 7:6  Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

1.      Jesus tells his disciples not to cast Christian values to people that don't want to understand.

a)   Unbelievers do not know its value, and will stomp on them with their feet, then turn to destroy you.

b)   The swine is not looking for the values of Christianity, they are looking for food.

c)   Jesus followed this principle when he preached to the people in parables.  They could hear his words, and wouldn't understand, but would think they did understand, Matt. 13:10-17.

d)   Matt. 13:56 - Jesus didn't do many mighty works in his own country because of the unbelief of the people.

2.      They don't understand what is valuable and what is not of value.

a)   Job understands (in Job 28:18) that wisdom is better than great wealth, but his three "friends" don't  understand that simple principle.

b)   Many in the world today don't understand that peace with God is greater than anything else they can possess.

C.            Revelation 21:21  And the twelve gates [were] twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city [was] pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

1.   The gates of New Jerusalem is 12 pearls because the pearls represent the values that are accepted by Christ.

2.   The gates of New Jerusalem doesn't represent salvation because many that are saved will not be a part of the bride, but will live outside the city, Rev. 21:24.

3.   The gates of New Jerusalem doesn't represent the kingdom of God, or the church of Jesus Christ because they are represented inside New Jerusalem.

4.      Every person entering New Jerusalem will have to recognize the values New Jerusalem stands for.

5.      There are 12 gates because there are 12 tribes of Israel, Rev. 21:12.

a)   Israel is here mentioned because God first set down true Christian values in the law he gave to Israel.

b)   Keeping the law does not give a person true Christian values; it is by a complete dependence on Christ, who has already kept the law in our place.

c)   Every child of God must recognize that the only way to be obedient to Christ is to be obedient to the law he gave.


The Values of the Kingdom of God


V.  The pearl reflects the true values of the kingdom of God.  It is those proper values that a person enters into the kingdom of God, into that part of the kingdom of God that properly reflects the rule and reign of Christ in their hearts and lives, both in this world and in eternity.  It is a story of great conflict over many years.  Story of the formation of a pearl - nacre makes pearl.  Give the story of the formation of a pearl as given at the close of this file.

A.  Unity - II Cor. 11:1-4 - Chaste virgin.

1.   II Cor. 6:15-18 - Value is in its unity.  People of Christ should have no concord (agreement) with Satanic values.  It can't be broken up and keep its value.

2.      One spirit - Phil 1:27, "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;"

3.      One mind - I Peter 3:8, "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:"

4.   The desire of God was that Israel be completely united even though they were divided into 12 tribes.

a)   An example is Judges 1:1 - Israel asked God and God answered.  They all agreed.

b)   They were seldom in this kind of agreement.

c)   They finally divided into the 10 northern tribes and the 2 southern tribes.

d)   They went into captivity after this.

5.      Paul admonishes the Corinthian church to have no divisions - I Cor. 1:10.

a)   Unfortunately, the Lord's Churches have divided themselves into many different categories, because of their varying beliefs.

b)   If the Bible was followed, instead of the thoughts of men, every church would believe exactly the same thing.

6.      Christ prays for unity - John 17:21-23.

a)   Unity of belief will show the world that God has sent Christ.

b)   The reason most of the world believes Christianity is false is because of all the false religions, who follow men instead of God.

B.   The product of a suffering living creature.

1.      Grain of sand in an oyster.

2.   Ps. 22:1-19 - Product from the suffering of a living creature.  This chapter tells some of the suffering of Christ for our sinfulness.

3.   I Peter 2:5-8 - The offending particle is what the kingdom of God is build upon.

4.   The offending particle is covered over with nacre.

5.   The result of real Christian people living in this world of offense is more precious than the best pearl.

6.      There is a certain amount of suffering that will take place in life of the believer when the life is yielded to God.

7.      Suffering may seem terrible at the time, but in the end valuable lessons will have been learned that otherwise would never have been learned. 

C.   Formed slowly and gradually, but it's here to stay.

1.   The kingdom of God is build up slowly and gradually.

a)   There was 2,000 years between the creation of this world (the beginning of God's earthly, physical kingdom) and the time of Abraham, the Father of the Jews.

b)   The Nation of Israel develops over a number of years; and God isn't through with her yet!  I mention this only because the nation of Israel is enclosed within the kingdom of God.

c)   Matt. 16:18 - The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is "built up" over many generations.  I mention this only because the church is enclosed within the kingdom of God.

2.      Many separate individuals make up the kingdom of God.

a)   Some of these are taken from the people who lived from the creation of the world to Abraham.

b)   Some are taken from the nation of Israel.

c)   Some are taken from the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(1)      Eph. 2:19-22 - Many individual churches make up the bride of Christ.

(2)      Some out of every generation are added to the bride of Christ.

(3) God adds those whom he will, not as it pleases us!

D.  Lowly origin - the oyster is a scavenger of the sea.  Christ chose the world out of all the universe; Israel out of all the nations, and us out of all the Gentiles.

1.   I Cor. 1:26-29 - God has used many lowly people in His kingdom, that no flesh should glory in his presence.

2.   As the oyster is the scavenger of the ocean and produces a gem; so it is with God's kingdom.

3.      Christ chooses his people from the lowest people.

a)   Gen. 6:8 - Noah might not have been well known, or well thought of, but God knew him and used him.

b)   II Sam. 20:16-22 (Eccl. 9:13-18) - This wise woman's name is unknown, but God surely used her to preserve an entire town.

c)   Amos 7:14 - Amos was not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, yet God chose him.

d)   Matt. 4:18-22 - Christ chose some fishermen to be his followers, and the foundation of his kind of church.

4.   We are conceived in sin - Ps. 51:5.

5.   I Cor. 1:18:21 - Preaching of the cross is foolishness.

6.      Christ puts saved sinners in His kingdom.

E.   Hid from eyes of men and corrupting influences of all around it.  (The oyster is hidden in the sea and the sea is mankind - Rev. 13:1)

1.      Godliness is a mystery.

a)   II  Cor. 4:3,4 - If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.

b)   I Tim. 3:16 - Godliness is a great mystery, "God was manifest in the flesh...received up into glory."

c)   Matt. 13:10-17 - Christ spoke in parables because it wasn't given to everybody to receive and understand the kingdom of God.

2.   Col. 3:3 - Our life is hid with Christ in God.

F.   An object of value and beauty - Two of Cleopatra's pearls = $16,000,000.00

1.      Matt. 16:24-27 - The values of God's kingdom are worth giving up everything necessary to possess those values. 

2.   The people of God's kingdom are very precious to Him.

a)   Matt. 10:29 - God knows when one sparrow falls to the ground, and Christ said we are of more value than many sparrows.

b)   John 3:16 - God's people are so precious to him that he gave his only begotten Son that we might be saved.

3.      Noah was so precious to God that he allowed him 120 years to build the ark for the saving of his household.

4.   Lot, even though he was rebellious to God, was so precious that he sent the angels to get him and his family out of Sodom before it was destroyed.

5.      Eph. 5:27 - Glorious church without spot or wrinkle.

6.      Rev. 19:8 - The bride of Christ will be clothed in "...fine linen, clean and white..."

G.   The kingdom of God is surrounded in the lowest conditions just as the oyster is.

1.      Christian values exist side by side with Satanic values in this present world.

2.   Ps. 51:5 - We are conceived in sin.

3.   See Job - False friends.

4.      Gen. 5:21-24 - Enoch walked with God in the midst of wicked sinners.  God saw it all, and rewarded him accordingly.

5.      Gen. 6:8 - Noah was completely surrounded with the grossest sinners, but remained faithful to God.

6.      Gen. 12:1 compare to Gen. 11:31 - God called Abraham out of the pagan land of Ur to follow him.

7.      Matt. 4:18-22 - Christ called out his church from the midst of sinners, and false religious leaders.

8.   II Peter 2:1 - Peter said there were false teachers among the people, and there will be false teachers among you.

9.      Acts 20:28-31 - Paul warned the churches leaders of Ephesus that after his departing, grievous wolves would enter among them, not sparing the flock.

10.      Matt. 7:15 - Christ said to beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

H.            Honorable and exalted future.

1.   In the present, Christian values may be disdained and discredited, but the end of those values is exalted by all, even Satan!

2.      Zech. 14:16-21 - During the millennium, the kingdom of Christ will be centered in Jerusalem, and all nations will go there to worship.

3.      Rev. 21:25-27 - All the saved will recognize the purity of the bride of Christ as they bring their glory and honor into it.

4.   I Cor. 15:24-28 - The kingdom of God will be delivered to God from Christ, when Christ shall have put down all rule and authority.

5.   The values of the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of God, will be kept completely intact in this present world, and in all eternity.


Secular information about the pearl  [1]


Pearl (gem), lustrous concretion produced by certain bivalve mollusks (see Mollusk) and valued as a gem. Pearls consist almost entirely of nacre, which is the substance forming the inner layers of the mollusk shells. Nacre, known as mother-of-pearl, is composed primarily of aragonite crystals. The pearl is an abnormal[2] growth resulting from the invasion of the body of the mollusk by a minute particle of foreign matter, such as a fine grain of sand. The particle acts as an irritant in the mollusk and becomes coated with layer upon layer of nacreous material. Both marine and freshwater mollusks produce pearls, but the most valuable varieties originate in the pearl oyster of the Persian Gulf.

The most highly prized pearls are spherical. When a pearl that has been cut from the shell presents a hemispherical surface, it is sometimes called a bouton pearl. If a solid pearl has an irregular shape, having grown over a rough object, it is known as a baroque pearl. In the jewelry trade, pearls are commonly known as pear, bell, or drop, according to the shape. Pearl coloration varies widely, the most prized shades being white, black, rose, and cream.

One of the important marine-pearl fisheries on the North American continent is off Baja California, Mexico, the central point being at La Paz. Other fisheries are located in the Gulf of Panama, in the West Indies and the islands of the South Pacific, and along the coasts of India, the Persian Gulf, Japan, Mexico, and western Central America, especially in the Pearl Islands, near the coast of Nicaragua. In Australian waters pearls are fished on the coast of Western Australia and of Queensland and in Torres Strait.

River pearls are produced by freshwater mussels in various parts of the world. China is the principal trader in river pearls.

Natural, spherical pearls have been cultured successfully since 1920. In this process a mother-of-pearl bead, from three-quarters to nine-tenths of the diameter of the desired product, is introduced into the pearl oyster. Over a period of years the oyster deposits layers of nacre around the bead. Cultured pearls are not easily distinguished from genuine pearls except by an expert. The technique of producing spherical cultured pearls was developed in Japan, and the culturing of pearls is a major Japanese industry. Artificial pearls, in contrast to cultured pearls, are entirely artificial, made largely of glass.

[1]      "Pearl (gem)," Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1993 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright (c) 1993 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation


[2]      As the pearl is an "abnormal" growth in the mollusk, so the Christian life is "abnormal" in the life of all flesh.  It is only by the grace of God that any believer suffers to develop the pearl in the Kingdom of God.  The parable of "The Pearl Of Great Price" doesn't consider the origin of the pearl, but the value of the pearl itself.