Mark 4

Parable of the Sower and Soils

1 1He began to teach again 2by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that 3He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land.
2 And He was teaching them many things in 4parables, and was saying to them in His teaching,
3 "Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow;
4 as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up.
5 "Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil.
6 "And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
7 "Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.
8 "Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."
9 And He was saying, "5He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
10 As soon as He was alone, His followers *, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables.
11 And He was saying to them, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but 6those who are outside get everything 7in parables,


13 9And He said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?
14 "The sower sows the word.
15 "These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately 10Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.
16 "In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy;
17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.
18 "And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word,
19 but the worries of 11the world, and the 12deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
20 "And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and 13bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."
21 And He was saying to them, "14A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand?
22 "15For nothing * is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light.
23 "16If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."
24 And He was saying to them, "Take care what you listen to. 17By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.
25 "18For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him."

Parable of the Seed

26 And He was saying, "The kingdom of God is like * a man who casts seed upon the soil;
27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows -how, he himself does not know.
28 "The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.
29 "But when the crop permits, he immediately 19puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 20And He said, "How shall we 21picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it?
31 "It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil,
32 yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that 22THE BIRDS OF THE AIR can NEST UNDER ITS SHADE."
33 With many such parables He was speaking the word to them, so far as they were able to hear it;
34 and He did not speak to them 23without a parable; but He was 24explaining everything privately * to His own disciples.

Jesus Stills the Sea

35 25On that day, when evening came, He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side."
36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them 26in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.
37 And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.
38 Jesus Himself 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 got up and 27rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.
40 And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? 28Do you still have no faith?"
41 They became very much afraid and said to one 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.

Cross References 28

  • 1. Mark 4:1-12: {Matthew 13:1-15; Luke 8:4-10}
  • 2. Mark 2:13; Mark 3:7
  • 3. Luke 5:1-3
  • 4. Matthew 13:3f; Mark 3:23; Mark 4:2f
  • 5. Matthew 11:15; Mark 4:23; Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29
  • 6. 1 Corinthians 5:12; Colossians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Timothy 3:7
  • 7. Mark 3:23; Mark 4:2
  • 8. Isaiah 6:9; Isaiah 43:8; Jeremiah 5:21; Ezekiel 12:2; Matthew 13:14; Luke 8:10; John 12:40; Romans 11:8
  • 9. Mark 4:13-20: {Matthew 13:18-23; Luke 8:11-15}
  • 10. Matthew 4:10; 1 Peter 5:8; Rev 20:2, 3, 7-10
  • 11. Matthew 13:22; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12
  • 12. Proverbs 23:4; 1 Tim 6:9, 10, 17
  • 13. John 15:2f; Romans 7:4
  • 14. Matthew 5:15; Luke 8:16; Luke 11:33
  • 15. Matthew 10:26; Luke 8:17; Luke 12:2
  • 16. Matthew 11:15; Revelation 13:9, 43">Revelation 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9; Luke 8:8; Luke 14:35; Rev 3:6, 13, 22; Revelation 13:9
  • 17. Matthew 7:2; Luke 6:38
  • 18. Matthew 13:12; Matthew 25:29; Luke 8:18; Luke 19:26
  • 19. Joel 3:13
  • 20. Mark 4:30-32: {Matthew 13:31, 32; Luke 13:18, 19}
  • 21. Matthew 13:24
  • 22. Ezekiel 17:23; Psalms 104:12; Ezekiel 31:6; Daniel 4:12
  • 23. Matthew 13:34; John 10:6; John 16:25
  • 24. Luke 24:27
  • 25. Mark 4:35-41: {Matt 8:18, 23-27; Luke 8:22, 25}
  • 26. Mark 3:9; Mark 4:1; Mark 5:2, 21
  • 27. Psalms 65:7; Psalms 89:9; Psalms 107:29; Matthew 8:26; Luke 8:24
  • 28. Matthew 14:31; Luke 8:25

Footnotes 12

Mark 4 Commentaries