The next parable in Matthew Thirteen is very similar to yesterday's parable in many ways. It is only two verses long (Matthew 13:45-46), and has the same ending. The kingdom of heaven in this parable still refers to the Church Age. I may be the only person who understands it the way I do, but it makes sense to me. Each of the parables has added something new to our understanding of the kingdom of heaven, and for that reason, I do not believe that the Lord was being redundant. The factors in the parable are: a pearl merchant seeking goodly pearls, the discovery of one pearl of great price, and the price he paid to buy it.
We will have no problem understanding that the merchant is Jesus Christ. Just as in the parable of the hidden treasure, the man gives His all to purchase His discovery. We said yesterday, that the Father gave all that He had (His Son - John 3:16), and that Jesus did as well. The value of the treasure can be seen in the awesome price paid.
In the hidden treasure, His discovery was in a field. The field was a piece of land which He purchased to acquire the treasure. In today's parable, the treasure is from the sea. In the Bible, the seas often represent the "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues" (see Revelation 17:1, 15), or in other words, the world population. The Church is made up of people from all nations, so I believe the pearl is the Church.
Because I believe the pearl is the Church, it makes me wonder if I have interpreted the parable of the hidden treasure correctly. If the Church is the treasure found in the sea, and the seas represent all nations other than Israel, is it possible that the hidden treasure, found in the land, could actually be Israel itself? After all, Jesus came to His people in the land of Israel, the land of promise. And, in the first ten chapters of Acts, all the converts to Christ were Jews. Yes, the hidden treasure is still the Church, but it may be only a part of it, in that it is made up of Jews who have accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unlike those theologians who see both parables as saying the same thing, I believe that one speaks of the Jews, and the other the Gentiles who make up the Body of Christ.
The hidden treasure is not described, so we don't know what it is. Here, we have a great pearl. We do know what a pearl is. First, it is from within a mollusk and Jews were forbidden to eat them. They were considered unclean (Leviticus 11:9-12). Second, it is a foreign body that the mollusk would prefer not be there. The pearl is made when the mollusk coats the irritant with layers of mother of pearl, in order to make it less abrasive. In its effort to rid itself of the discomfort, it creates something valuable. The Gentiles of the Church were considered unclean by the Jews. Oddly enough, the world also considers Gentile believers as an irritant. And, the world works tirelessly to neutralize the abrasive effect that Christians have on their lifestyle. Therefore, both the hidden treasure and the pearl represent the Church, for which Christ died.