Mark 4

1 And again he began to teach by the sea. And a great crowd was gathered together to him, so that going on board ship he sat in the sea, and all the crowd were close to the sea on the land.
2 And he taught them many things in parables. And he said to them in his doctrine,
3 Hearken: Behold, the sower went forth to sow.
4 And it came to pass as he sowed, one fell by the wayside, and the birds came and devoured it.
5 And another fell on the rocky ground, where it had not much earth, and immediately it sprung up out [of the ground] because it had no depth of earth;
6 and when the sun arose it was burnt up, and because of its not having any root, it withered.
7 And another fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
8 And another fell into the good ground, and yielded fruit, growing up and increasing; and bore, one thirty, and one sixty, and one a hundred.
9 And he said, He that has ears to hear, let him hear.
10 And when he was alone, those about him with the twelve asked him [as to] the parables.
11 And he said to them, To you is given [to know] the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to them who are without, all things are done in parables,
12 that beholding they may behold and not see, and hearing they may hear and not understand, lest it may be, they should be converted and they should be forgiven.
13 And he says to them, Do ye not know this parable? and how will ye be acquainted with all the parables?
14 The sower sows the word:
15 and these are they by the wayside where the word is sown, and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.
16 And these are they in like manner who are sown upon the rocky places, who when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy,
17 and they have no root in themselves, but are for a time: then, tribulation arising, or persecution on account of the word, immediately they are offended.
18 And others are they who are sown among the thorns: these are they who have heard the word,
19 and the cares of life, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things, entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
20 And these are they who have been sown on the good ground, such as hear the word and receive it, and bear fruit; one thirty, and one sixty, and one a hundred [fold].
21 And he said to them, Does the lamp come that it should be put under the bushel or under the couch? [Is it] not that it should be set upon the lamp-stand?
22 For there is nothing hidden which shall not be made manifest; nor does any secret thing take place, but that it should come to light.
23 If any one have ears to hear, let him hear.
24 And he said to them, Take heed what ye hear; with what measure ye mete, it shall be meted to you; and there shall be [more] added to you.
25 For whosoever has, to him shall be given; and he who has not, even what he has shall be taken from him.
26 And he said, Thus is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast the seed upon the earth,
27 and should sleep and rise up night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he does not know how.
28 The earth bears fruit of itself, first [the] blade, then an ear, then full corn in the ear.
29 But when the fruit is produced, immediately he sends the sickle, for the harvest is come.
30 And he said, How should we liken the kingdom of God, or with what comparison should we compare it?
31 As to a grain of mustard [seed], which, when it is sown upon the earth, is less than all seeds which are upon the earth,
32 and when it has been sown, mounts up and becomes greater than all herbs, and produces great branches, so that the birds of heaven can roost under its shadow.
33 And with many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear,
34 but without a parable spoke he not to them; and in private he explained all things to his disciples.
35 And on that day, when evening was come, he says to them, Let us go over to the other side:
36 and having sent away the crowd, they take him with [them], as he was, in the ship. But other ships also were with him.
37 And there comes a violent gust of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it already filled.
38 And *he* was in the stern sleeping on the cushion. And they awake him up and say to him, Teacher, dost thou not care that we are perishing?
39 And awaking up he rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Silence; be mute. And the wind fell, and there was a great calm.
40 And he said to them, Why are ye [thus] fearful? how [is it] ye have not faith?
41 And they feared [with] great fear, and said one to another, Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Mark 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

The parable of the sower. (1-20) Other parables. (21-34) Christ stills the tempest. (35-41)

Verses 1-20 This parable contained instruction so important, that all capable of hearing were bound to attend to it. There are many things we are concerned to know; and if we understand not the plain truths of the gospel, how shall we learn those more difficult! It will help us to value the privileges we enjoy as disciples of Christ, if we seriously consider the deplorable state of all who have not such privileges. In the great field of the church, the word of God is dispensed to all. Of the many that hear the word of the gospel, but few receive it, so as to bring forth fruit. Many are much affected with the word for the present, who yet receive no abiding benefit. The word does not leave abiding impressions upon the minds of men, because their hearts are not duly disposed to receive it. The devil is very busy about careless hearers, as the fowls of the air go about the seed that lies above ground. Many continue in a barren, false profession, and go down to hell. Impressions that are not deep, will not last. Many do not mind heart-work, without which religion is nothing. Others are hindered from profiting by the word of God, by abundance of the world. And those who have but little of the world, may yet be ruined by indulging the body. God expects and requires fruit from those who enjoy the gospel, a temper of mind and Christian graces daily exercised, Christian duties duly performed. Let us look to the Lord, that by his new-creating grace our hearts may become good ground, and that the good seed of the word may produce in our lives those good words and works which are through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God the Father.

Verses 21-34 These declarations were intended to call the attention of the disciples to the word of Christ. By his thus instructing them, they were made able to instruct others; as candles are lighted, not to be covered, but to be placed on a candlestick, that they may give light to a room. This parable of the good seed, shows the manner in which the kingdom of God makes progress in the world. Let but the word of Christ have the place it ought to have in a soul, and it will show itself in a good conversation. It grows gradually: first the blade; then the ear; after that the full corn in the ear. When it is sprung up, it will go forward. The work of grace in the soul is, at first, but the day of small things; yet it has mighty products even now, while it is in its growth; but what will there be when it is perfected in heaven!

Verses 35-41 Christ was asleep in the storm, to try the faith of his disciples, and to stir them up to pray. Their faith appeared weak, and their prayers strong. When our wicked hearts are like the troubled sea which cannot rest, when our passions are unruly, let us think we hear the law of Christ, saying, Be silent, be dumb. When without are fightings, and within are fears, and the spirits are in a tumult, if he say, "Peace, be still," there is a great calm at once. Why are ye so fearful? Though there may be cause for some fear, yet not for such fear as this. Those may suspect their faith, who can have such a thought as that Jesus careth not though his people perish. How imperfect are the best of saints! Faith and fear take their turns while we are in this world; but ere long, fear will be overcome, and faith will be lost in sight.

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. These words agree literally with 'fruit,' and must be applied by general allusion either to the plant, or directly to its figurative purport.
  • [b]. Or 'perhaps:' see Matt. 13.29; 15.32; 25.9; Acts 5.39; 'perhaps' is, I suspect, the sense: see also Matt. 5.25.
  • [c]. See Isa. 6.9-10.
  • [d]. Aion: see Note h, Matt. 13.22.
  • [e]. See Matt. 5.15.

Mark 4 Commentaries