Mark 4:31

31 It is like 1a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth,

Mark 4:31 Meaning and Commentary

Mark 4:31

It is like a grain of mustard seed
That is, the kingdom of God spoken of in the preceding verse, is like unto a grain of mustard seed; by which is meant, either the Gospel, or the Gospel church state, or the grace of God in the hearts of his people, and it may include them all: the Gospel is so called, because it treats of the two latter; but more especially, because it brings life and immortality to light, or points to the kingdom of heaven, directs the way unto it, and shows what qualifies persons for it, and gives them a claim unto it: and the Gospel church state may be so called, because here Christ dwells, and rules as king; the members of it are his subjects, and the ordinances of it are his laws, to which they are obedient: and the grace of God in the hearts of his people may be so called, because it is a governing principle in them; it reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, and by it Christ reigns in and over them: now the kingdom of God in each of these senses, may be compared to a grain of mustard seed, for the smallness of it, as follows;

which when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that
be in the earth.
The Gospel was first preached by very few persons, and these of no figure and account, especially at their first setting out. John the Baptist came preaching the kingdom of God, clothed with a garment of camel's hair, and with a leathern girdle about his loins; our Lord himself made no pompous appearance, there was no form nor comeliness in him; he was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefs, and of a mean descent and occupation; his disciples were fishermen, and illiterate persons; those to whom it was preached, and by whom it was received at first were but few, and these were the poor and the unlearned, and publicans and sinners. The Gospel church state at first, consisted of very few persons, of Christ and his twelve apostles; and at his death, the number of the disciples at Jerusalem, men and women, were but an hundred and twenty; the several Gospel churches formed in the Gentile world, rose from small beginnings; from the conversion of a very few persons, and these the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things. The grace of God in the hearts of his people at first, is very little; it can scarcely be discerned by themselves, and is ready to be despised by others; their light and knowledge, their faith and experience being so exceeding small.

Mark 4:31 In-Context

29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."
30 And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?
31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth,
32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."
33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.

Cross References 1

  • 1. Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.