8. The Wise and Foolish Builders
(Parable of Two Builders)

(Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:47-49)


The parable of the wise and foolish builders, also called the parable of the two builders, is told by Jesus to illustrate the difference between:

- Those who hear and act upon what they learn from Jesus
vs.
- Those who hear, but don't act upon what they have learned.


Context of the Parable

In context, Jesus has just finished teaching many things to the crowds.

He then says, "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I tell you?" (Luke 6:46)

Jesus also says, "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 in heaven." (Matthew 7:21-23)

He then tells this parable of the wise and foolish builders to further illustrate his point.


Summary of the Parable of Two Builders (Wise and Foolish Builders)

According to Jesus, the man who hears his words and acts on them is like a man who, when building a house, dug deep into the ground and laid the foundation on rock.

A great storm occurred, with lots of rain, a flood, and strong winds.

However, this house was not shaken because it had a solid foundation.

Jesus then says, the one who hears his words and does not act on them is like a man who builds his house without a foundation.

When flooding came, the house fell and was destroyed because it had no foundation.


Meaning of the Parable of Two Builders (Wise and Foolish Builders)

Essentially, Jesus is saying that those, who hear and act upon what he says, are wise people.

However, those who hear and don't act upon what he says are foolish people.

The reason why?

Because it's only the people who hear and act upon what Jesus says, who "will enter into the kingdom of heaven."

For Jesus says, "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 in heaven." (Matthew 7:21-23)


Relating the Parable to Us

Imagine if an expert carpenter tells you, and your friend, "how" to build your house.

You listen to the directions the carpenter gives you, whereas your friend ignores the instructions.

You build your house just the way you are told to build it, but your friend does it their way.

A storm comes and your house survives just fine, but your friend's house is in ruins.


Jesus is using this parable of the wise and foolish builders to say that he is the expert (he knows what he's talking about), and he's saying be wise and follow his instructions.


Additional Evidence Supporting the Message of this Parable

This message of obeying God, and not sinning anymore, is in other places too.

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God's wrath." (John 3:36 NRSV; ESV; NASB; ISV; ASV; ERV; WEB; NLT)

The Bible shows in many places that there is an inseparable connection between what we "believe" and what we "do."


Other parables that communicates this idea are:

Parable of the Faithful and Wise Servant


Parable of the Two Sons


Parable of the Wedding Banquet


Parable of the Sheep and Goats



Also, as an example, if you believe the building is on fire and is very dangerous, you will get out of there as fast as you can.

However, if you believe the building is on fire, but don't believe it's anything too serious, you won't be in much of a hurry to leave.

You show what you really believe by your actions (whether you run, walk, or stay).



Many know that accepting God's gift means we must repent.

"From that time Jesus began to proclaim, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.'" (Matthew 4:17)

Plus, in the "Salvation Prayer" (also called "Sinner's Prayer") the idea of repenting is plainly evident.

However, many people seem to misunderstand what repentance means.



Repentance is a complete change in actions and thoughts.

It's as if we were walking in one direction, and we completely turned around and walk in the other direction.

Repentance of sin means to completely turn away from sin and never sin again. Just look at the Salvation Prayer (Sinner's Prayer) (opens in new window)

It says things like, "I am now willing to turn from my sin."



The message in these verses is that only saying "I serve God" isn't worth anything alone, because we "show" what we believe by what we "do."

Anyone can say "I serve God" and just be lying. Our actions determine whether or not we serve God.

"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 in heaven." (Matthew 7:21-23)

This means 'the one who does the will of the Father in heaven' is the one who "will enter the kingdom of heaven," because they show that they believe and accept God's gift of salvation "by what they do" by serving God.

The only people who truly "repent" (which is a complete change in actions and thoughts) are those who truly believe, because those who don't truly believe see no need to truly repent.


Understanding God's Gift

God offers us this free gift of salvation. We are saved by his grace.

If it were not for Jesus' sacrifice, there would be no hope for us.

However, only those who truly believe will find it worth their effort to truly repent and accept God's gift.

And repentance means no longer sinning and instead obeying God forever.

Which is why some Christians are sometimes called hypocrites, because they don't live out what Jesus taught.


Concluding Summary for the Parable of Two Builders (Wise and Foolish Builders)

Jesus tells this parable of the wise and foolish builders to illustrate his point that:

"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 in heaven." (Matthew 7:21-23)

"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I tell you?" (Luke 6:46)

The wise builder will listen, and the foolish builder will not.

We have the option of choosing which builder we will be.


Additional Sources

The following page also discusses the fact that Jesus does teach we are to obey God's Commandments by showing with our actions that we accept God's gift of salvation, although the author takes a different approach than the parables of Jesus:

Do we have to obey God's Commandments for Salvation?
(opens in new window)


Go to previous parable: 7. Fig Tree

Go to next parable: 9. The Leaven (Yeast)



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