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Mark 4

Listen to Mark 4

The Parable of the Sower

1 Again 1he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, 2so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.
2 And 3he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:
3 "Listen! 4A sower went out to sow.
4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.
5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil.
6 And 5when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, 6it withered away.
7 Other seed fell among 7thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.
8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and 8a hundredfold."
9 And he said, 9"He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

The Purpose of the Parables

10 And 10when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables.
11 And he said to them, 11"To you has been given 12the secret of the kingdom of God, but for 13those outside everything is in parables,
12 14so that "they 15may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they 16should turn and be forgiven."
13 17And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?
14 18The sower sows 19the word.
15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.
16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it 20with joy.
17 And they have no root in themselves, but 21endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately 22they fall away.[a]
18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word,
19 but 23the cares of 24the world and 25the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and 26bear fruit, 27thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold."

A Lamp Under a Basket

21 28And he said to them, 29"Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?
22 30For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.
23 31If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."
24 And he said to them, "Pay attention to what you hear: 32with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.
25 33For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."

The Parable of the Seed Growing

26 And he said, 34"The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.
27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; 35he knows not how.
28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
29 But when the grain is ripe, at once 36he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 37And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?
31 It is like 38a 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 39With many such parables he spoke 40the word to them, 41as they were able to hear it.
34 He did not speak to them 42without a parable, but 43privately to his own disciples he 44explained everything.

Jesus Calms a Storm

35 45On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side."
36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.
37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves 46were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.
38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"
39 And he awoke and 47rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and 48there was a great calm.
40 He said to them, "Why are you 49so afraid? Have you still no faith?"
41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, 50"Who then is this, that even 51the 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.

Cross References 51

  • 1. For ver. 1-12, see Matthew 13:1-15; Luke 8:4-10
  • 2. [Mark 3:9; Luke 5:1-3]
  • 3. ver. 33
  • 4. [Isaiah 55:10; Amos 9:13]
  • 5. James 1:11
  • 6. John 15:6
  • 7. Jeremiah 4:3
  • 8. ver. 20; Genesis 26:12
  • 9. See Matthew 11:15
  • 10. ver. 34
  • 11. Matthew 19:11; Colossians 1:27; [1 Corinthians 2:6-10; 1 John 2:20, 27]; See Matthew 11:25
  • 12. See Romans 16:25
  • 13. 1 Corinthians 5:12, 13; Colossians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Timothy 3:7
  • 14. Isaiah 6:9, 10
  • 15. Deuteronomy 29:4; Jeremiah 5:21; Ezekiel 12:2; Romans 11:8; 2 Corinthians 3:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4; [Isaiah 42:19, 20]
  • 16. See Luke 22:32
  • 17. For ver. 13-20, see Matthew 13:18-23; Luke 8:11-15
  • 18. [Matthew 13:37; John 4:36, 37]
  • 19. ver. 33; Mark 2:2; Luke 1:2; Acts 8:4; James 1:21
  • 20. [Mark 6:20; Isaiah 58:2; Ezekiel 33:31, 32; John 5:35]
  • 21. Galatians 1:6; [Hosea 6:4; Galatians 5:7]
  • 22. See Matthew 11:6
  • 23. See Matthew 6:25
  • 24. 2 Timothy 4:10
  • 25. 1 Tim. 6:9, 10, 17; [Mark 10:23; Matthew 19:23; Acts 5:1-11; Hebrews 3:13]
  • 26. Hosea 14:8; John 15:5, 16; Philippians 1:11; Colossians 1:6
  • 27. ver. 8
  • 28. For ver. 21-25, see Luke 8:16-18
  • 29. Matthew 5:15; Luke 11:33
  • 30. Matthew 10:26; Luke 12:2; [1 Timothy 5:25]
  • 31. ver. 9
  • 32. Matthew 7:2; Luke 6:38
  • 33. See Matthew 13:12
  • 34. [Matthew 13:24-30]
  • 35. [Ecclesiastes 11:5, 6]
  • 36. Joel 3:13; Revelation 14:15
  • 37. For ver. 30-32, see Matthew 13:31, 32; Luke 13:18, 19
  • 38. Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6
  • 39. Matthew 13:34
  • 40. See ver. 14
  • 41. John 16:12; 1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12
  • 42. [John 16:25]
  • 43. ver. 10; [Mark 13:3]
  • 44. [2 Peter 1:20]
  • 45. For ver. 35-41, see Matthew 8:18, 23-27; Luke 8:22-25; [John 6:16-21]
  • 46. [Acts 27:14]
  • 47. Psalms 104:7; [Luke 4:39]
  • 48. Job 38:11; Psalms 65:7; [Mark 6:51; Matthew 14:32]
  • 49. John 14:27
  • 50. [Mark 1:27]
  • 51. [Luke 5:9]

Footnotes 1

Mark 4 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.