1. a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson.
2. a statement or comment that conveys a meaning indirectly by the use of comparison, analogy, or the like.
mid-13c., parabol, modern form from early 14c., “saying or story in which something is expressed in terms of something else,” from Old French parable “parable, parabolic style in writing” (13c.), from Latin parabola “comparison,” from Greek parabole “a comparison, parable,” literally “a throwing beside,” hence “a juxtaposition,” from para– “alongside” (see para- (1)) + bole “a throwing, casting, beam, ray,” related to ballein “to throw” (from PIE root *gwele- “to throw, reach”).
Replaced Old English bispell. In Vulgar Latin, parabola took on the meaning “word,” hence Italian parlare, French parler “to speak” (see parley (n.)).
Parables are told in various area of the Bible. Among the most famous are those told by Jesus Christ.
Examples of these particular stories would be:
Parable of the Sower – Matthew 13:3-23, Mark 4:2-20, and Luke 8:4-15
Weeds Among the Wheat – Matthew 13:24-30
Growing Seed – Mark 4:26-29
You’ll notice Christ’s parables are found among the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). An example of a parable elsewhere in the Bible includes:
Eagles and the Vine – Ezekiel 17:1-24
Each story or parable tells a story that is meant to teach (much as you saw in the definition from dictionary.com).
An interesting point about Christ’s parables is that he also did it without always explaining the story and this was on purpose. His parables all involve spiritual matters and they were meant to instruct those who would listen and want to understand. The stories weren’t simply for anyone who wanted to hear a story. Each had a point and a purpose.