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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Mark 4

Verse 1

1. πάλιν ] See ch. Mark 3:7 . The ἤρξατο is coincident with the gathering together of the crowd.

Verses 1-9

1 9. ] PARABLE OF THE SOWER. No fixed mark of date. Matthew 13:1-9 . Luke 8:4-8 . There is the same intermixture of absolute verbal identity and considerable divergence, as we have so often noticed: which is wholly inexplicable on the ordinary suppositions. In this case the vehicles of the parable in Matt. and Mark (see Matthew 13:1-3 ; Mar 4:1-2 ) bear a strong, almost verbal, resemblance. Such a parable would be carefully treasured in all the Churches as a subject of catechetical instruction: and, in general, in proportion to the popular nature of the discourse, is the resemblance stronger in the reports of it.

Verse 2

2. ] Out from among the πολλά , the great mass of His teaching, one parable is selected, which He spoke during it ἐν τῇ διδ . αὐτοῦ .

Verse 3

3. ἀκούετε ] This solemn prefatory word is peculiar to Mark.

Verses 4-8

4 8. ] Matt. and Mark agree nearly verbally. In Mar 4:7 Mark adds καὶ καρπὸν οὐκ ἔδωκεν , and in Mark 4:8 , ἀναβαίνοντα κ . αὐξανόμενον . On this latter, Meyer remarks, that the two present partt. are predicates of καρπόν , which therefore must not be understood here of the fruit properly so called, the corns of wheat in the ears, but of the haulm, the first fruit of the successful seed. The corns first come in after ἔφερεν .

Verse 10

10. ] οἱ π . αὐτ . σὺν τ . δώδ . = οἱ μαθ . αὐτοῦ Luke.

Verses 10-12

10 12. ] REASON FOR SPEAKING IN PARABLES. Matthew 13:10-17 . Luke 8:9-10 .

Verse 11

11. ] τὸ μυστήριον = τὰ μυστήρια Matt. and Luke.

τοῖς ἔξω added here (= τοῖς λοιποῖς , Luke) means the multitudes those out of the circle of his followers. In the Epistles, all who are not Christians , the corresponding meaning for those days, are designated by it.

τὰ πάντα γίνεται ] the whole matter is transacted. Herod. ix. 46, ἡμῖν οἱ λόγοι γεγόνασι .

Verse 12

12. ] We must keep the ἵνα strictly to its telic meaning in order that . When God transacts a matter, it is idle to say that the result is not the purpose. He doeth all things after the counsel of His own will. Matt., as usual, quotes a prophecy; Mark hardly ever except at the beginning of his Gospel; Luke, very seldom.

ἀφ . αὐτ . = ἰάσομαι αὐτούς Matt., it should be forgiven them ; i.e. ‘ forgiveness should be extended to them :’ no need to supply any thing, as the gloss of the re [11] . does: the expression is impersonal.

[11] ec the Textus Receptus or received text of the Greek Testament. Used in this Edition when elz and Steph agree

Verses 13-20

13 20. ] EXPLANATION OF THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER. In τὴν παρ . ταύτην , the general question which had been asked Mark 4:10 ( τὰς παραβολάς ), is tacitly assumed to have had special reference to the one which has been given at length. Or we may understand, that the question of Mar 4:10 took the form which is given in [12] Matt.: διὰ τί ἐν παραβολαῖς λαλεῖς αὐτοῖς ; in which case the τάς must be generic: asked Him concerning parables ; or His parables. The three explanations (see Matthew 13:18-23 ; Luk 8:9-15 ) are very nearly related to one another, with however differences enough to make the common hypotheses quite untenable. Matt. and Mark agree nearly verbatim, Matt. however writing throughout in the singular ( ὁ σπαρεὶς κ . τ . λ .). Mark has some additions, e.g. σπείρων τὸν λόγον σπ ., Mark 4:14 , after ἡ ἀπ . τοῦ πλ ., Mark 4:19 , καὶ αἱ π . τὰ λ . ἐπιθ . : and some variations, e.g. σατανᾶς for Matt.’s ὁ πονηρός , and Luke’s ὁ διάβ .

[12] When, in the Gospels, and in the Evangelic statement, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 , the sign (║) occurs in a reference, it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in the other Gospels, which will always be found indicated at the head of the note on the paragraph. When the sign (║) is qualified , thus, ‘║ Mk.,’ or ‘║ Mt. Mk.,’ &c., it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in that Gospel or Gospels, but not in the other or others .

Such matters are not trifling , because they shew the gradual deflection of verbal expression in different versions of the same report , nor is the general agreement of Luke’s, which seems to be from a different hearer.

Verse 16

16. ὁμοίως ] after the same analogy: carrying on a like principle of interpretation.

Verse 20

20. ] Notice the concluding words of the interpretation exactly reproducing those of the parable, Mark 4:8 , as characteristic. It is remarkable that the same is found in Matt., but in another form and order: one taking the climax, the other the anticlimax. In Luke, the two are varied.

Verse 21

21. ] ἔρχεσθαι is also used in the classics of things without life: cf. Hom. Il. τ . 191, ὄφρα κε δῶρα | ἐκ κλισίης ἔλθωσι … and see Rost and Palm, Lex.

Verses 21-25

21 25. ] Luke 8:16-18 ; and for Mark 4:25 , Matthew 13:12 . The rest is mostly contained in other parts of Matt. (Matthew 5:15 ; Matthew 10:26 ; Mat 7:2 ), where see notes. Here it is spoken with reference to teaching by parables: that they might take care to gain from them all the instruction which they were capable of giving: not hiding them under a blunted understanding, nor, when they did understand them, neglecting the teaching of them to others.

Verse 22

22. ] ἀλλά here is almost equivalent to εἰ μή . Hartung, Partikel. ii. 43, cites Eur. Hippol [13] 633, ῥᾷστον δ ʼ ὅτῳ τὸ μηδὲν ἀλλ ʼ ἀνωφελὴς | εὐηθίᾳ κατ ʼ οἶκον ἵδρυται γυνή · | σοφὴν δὲ μισῶ . We may add Xen. Mem. iii. 13. 6, ἤρετο αὐτόν , εἰ καὶ φορτίον ἔφερε ; μὰ Δί ʼ οὐκ ἔγωγ ʼ, ἔφη , ἀλλὰ τὸ ἱμάτιον . See Klotz, Devar. p. 7.

[13] Hippolytus, disciple of Irenæus, Bp. of Portus, 220

Verse 24

24. ] προστ . ὑμῖν (see var. readd.), more shall be added, i.e. more knowledge : so Euthym [14] : ἐνμέτρῳ μετρεῖτε τὴν προσοχήν , ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ μετρηθήσεται ὑμῖνγνῶσις , τουτέστιν , ὅσην εἰσφέρετε προσοχήν , τοσαύτη παρασχεθήσεται ὑμῖν γνῶσις , καὶ οὐ μόνον ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ μέτρῳ , ἀλλὰ καὶ πλέον . ὃς ἂν ἔχπροσοχήν , δωθήσεται αὐτῷ γνῶσις , κ . ὅς οὐκ ἔχει , καὶἔχει σπέρμα γνώσεως ἀρθήσεται ἀπ ʼ αὐτοῦ . καθάπερ γὰρσπουδὴ αὔξει τὸ τοιοῦτον , οὕτω καὶῥᾳθυμία διαφθείρει . ἐν τῷ κατὰ Ματθαῖον δὲ τρόπον ἕτερον ἐῤῥήθησαν ταῦτα , καὶ κατ ʼ ἄλλην ἔννοιαν .

[14] Euthymius Zigabenus, 1116

Verse 26

26. ] Observe ἔλεγεν , without αὐτοῖς implying that He is now proceeding with his teaching to the people : cf. Mark 4:33 .

ἄνθρωπος ] Some difficulty has been felt about the interpretation of this man , as to whether it is Christ or his ministers . The former certainly seems to be excluded by the καθεύδ , and ὡς οὐκ οἶδεν αὐτός , Mark 4:27 ; and perhaps the latter by ἀποστ . τὸ δρ ., Mark 4:29 . But I believe the parable to be one taken simply from human things, the sower being quite in the background, and the whole stress being on the SEED its power and its development. The man then is just the farmer or husbandman, hardly admitting an interpretation , but necessary to the machinery of the parable.

Observe, that in this case it is not τὸν σπόρον αὐτοῦ as in Luke 8:5 , and the agent is only hinted at in the most general way, e.g. ἀποστ . τ . δρέπ ., without a nom. case expressed. If a meaning must be assigned, the best is “human agency” in general. (It will be seen from this note, that I regard the exposition given in my first edition as a mistaken one.)

βάλ , shall have cast past tense, whereas καθεύδ and ἐγ . are present . The construction seems to be, The Kingdom of God is thus, that a man shall have cast, i.e. shall be as though he have cast : but it is not easy, and, as far as I know, unexampled. It looks like a combination of ὡς ἄνθρ . βαλών , and ὡς ἐὰν ἄνθρ . βάλῃ .

Verses 26-29

26 29. ] PARABLE OF THE SEED GROWING WE KNOW NOT HOW. Peculiar to Mark . By Commentators of the Straussian school it is strangely supposed to be the same as the parable of the tares, with the tares left out . If so, a wonderful and most instructive parable has arisen out of the fragments of the other, in which the idea is a totally different one . It is, the growth of the once-deposited seed by the combination of its own development with the genial power of the earth, all of course under the creative hand of God, but independent of human care and anxiety during this time of growth.

Verse 27

27. καθ . κ . ἐγ . ] i.e. employs himself otherwise goes about his ordinary occupations . The seed sown in the heart is in its growth dependent on other causes than mere human anxiety and watchfulness: on a mysterious power implanted by God in the seed and the soil combined, the working of which is hidden from human eye. Beware of the mistake of Erasmus, who takes ὁ σπόρος as the subject of all the verbs in this verse.

Verse 28

28. ] No trouble of ours can accelerate the growth, or shorten the stages through which each seed must pass.

It is the mistake of modern Methodism, for instance, to be always working at the seed, taking it up to see whether it is growing , instead of leaving it to God’s own good time, and meanwhile diligently doing God’s work elsewhere: see Stier, iii. p. 12. Wesley, to favour his system, strangely explains καθεύδκαὶ ἐγ . νύκτ . κ . ἡμ . exactly contrary to the meaning of the parable “that is, has it continually in his thoughts.”

εἶτα πλήρης σῖτος ] then (there is) full corn in the ear: if as [15] , then the corn (is) full in the ear.

[15] The CODEX CANTABRIGIENSIS, or BEZÆ, so called because it was presented by Beza in 1581 to the University Library at Cambridge; where it is now exposed to view in a glass case. He procured it in 1562, from the monastery of St. Irenæus at Lyons. It is on parchment, and contains the Gospels and Acts, with a Latin version. Its lacunæ, which are many, will be perceived by the inner marginal letters in this edition. It once contained the Catholic Epistles: 3Jn 1:11-14 in Latin is all that now remains. It was edited with very accurate imitative types, at the expense of the University of Cambridge, by Dr. Kipling, in 1793. A new edition carefully revised and more generally accessible was published by Mr. Scrivener in 1864, and has been collated for this Edition. In the introduction some ten or twelve correctors are distinguished, whose readings are found in the notes at the end of the volume. The text of the Codex Bezæ is a very peculiar one, deviating more from the received readings and from the principal manuscript authorities than any other. It appears to have been written in France, and by a Latin transcriber ignorant of Greek, from many curious mistakes which occur in the text, and version attached. It is closely and singularly allied to the ancient Latin versions, so much so that some critics have supposed it to have been altered from the Latin: and certainly many of the phænomena of the MS. seem to bear out the idea. Where D differs in unimportant points from the other Greek MSS., the difference appears to be traceable to the influence of Latin forms and constructions. It has been observed, that in such cases it frequently agrees with the Latin codex e (see the list further on). Its peculiarities are so great, that in many passages, while the sense remains for the most part unaltered, hardly three words together are the same as in the commonly received text. And that these variations often arise from capricious alteration, is evident from the way in which the Gospels, in parallel passages, have been more than commonly interpolated from one another in this MS. The concurrence with the ancient Latin versions seems to point to a very early state of the text; and it is impossible to set aside the value of D as an index to its history; but in critical weight it ranks the lowest of the leading MSS. Its age has been very variously given: the general opinion now is that it was written in the latter end of the fifth or the sixth century .

Verse 29

29. παραδοῖ ] offers itself : see reff. and Winer, Gr. Gr. § 38. 1 [also Moulton’s edn. p. 738, note 1].

ἀποστέλλει ] he puts in i.e. the husbandman, see above. See Joel 3:13 , to which this verse is a reference: also Revelation 14:14-15 , and 1 Peter 1:23-25 .

Verse 30

30. ] This Rabbinical method of questioning before beginning a discourse is also found in Luke 13:18 , without however the condescending plural , which embraces the disciples, in their work of preaching and teaching, and indeed gives all teachers an example, to what they may liken the Kingdom of God.

θῶμεν , as ἐτίθει , of Hephæstus, Il. σ . 541, &c., ‘sollers nunc hominem ponere, nunc deum,’ Hor. Od. iv. 8. 8, see also de Art. Poet. 34.

Verses 30-34

30 34. ] PARABLE OF THE GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED. Matthew 13:31-35 .Luke 13:18-19; Luke 13:18-19 .

Verse 31

31. ] The repetition of expressions verbatim in discourses is peculiar to Mark: so ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς here, and οὐ δύν . σταθῆναι ch. Mark 3:24-26 : and see a very solemn instance, ch. Mark 9:44-48 .

Verse 32

32.] καὶ ποιεῖ κλ . μεγ . is also peculiar. See notes on Matt.

Verse 33

33. καθὼς ἠδ . ἀκ .] according to their capacity of receiving : see note on Matthew 13:12 .

Verse 34

34. κατ ʼ ἰδίαν δὲ ] We have three such instances the sower , the tares , Matthew 13:36 ff., and the saying concerning defilement , Matthew 15:15 ff. To these we may add the two parables in John , ch. Mark 10:1-18 , which however was publicly explained, and ch. Mark 15:1-12 ; and perhaps Luke 16:9 ; Luke 18:6-8 .

Verses 35-41

35 41. ] THE STILLING OF THE STORM. Matthew 8:18 ; Matthew 8:23-27 . Luke 8:22-25 . Mark’s words bind this occurrence by a precise date to the preceding. It took place in the evening of the day on which the parables were delivered : and our account is so rich in additional particulars, as to take the highest rank among the three as to precision .

Verse 36

36.] ὡς ἦν without any preparation as he was, E. V. Cf. Jos. B. J. i. 17. 7, αὐτὸς ὡς ἦν ἔτι θερμὸς ἐκ τῶν ὅπλων λουσόμενος ᾔει στρατιωτικώτερον .

ἄλ . δὲ πλ . ] These were probably some of the multitudes following, who seem to have been separated from them in the gale.

καὶ δέ , moreover. See Hartung, Partikell. i. 182.

Verse 37

37.] λαῖλ . ἀν . is also in Luke, whose account is in the main so differently worded.

ἐπέβαλλεν ] not ὁ λαῖλαψ ἐπέβαλλεν τὰ κύμ . but τὰ κ . ἐπέβαλλεν , intransitive: see reff.

Verse 38

38. τὸ προσκ . ] the cushion or seat at the stern, used by our Lord as a pillow. Pollux, Onom. (cited by Kuin., h. l.), proves from Cratinus that the word is put for the cushion used by rowers.

Verse 39

39. σιώπα , πεφ . ] These remarkable words are given only here. On the variations in the accounts, see on Matthew 8:25 .

Verse 41

41. ] The ἄρα expresses the inference from the event which they had witnessed: Who then is this?

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Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Mark 4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.