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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Mark 4



Mark 4:1 . συνήχθη ] Lachm. and Tisch. read συνάγεται , following B C L Δ א , min. Rightly; the alteration was made from Matthew 13:2 , partly to συνήχθησαν (so A, min.), partly to συνήχθη .

Instead of πολύς , according to the same evidence, πλεῖστος is to be adopted, with Tisch.

Mark 4:3 . τοῦ σπεῖραι ] Lachm. and Tisch. have merely σπεῖραι , following only B א * 102.

Mark 4:4 . After πετεινά Elz. has τοῦ οὐρανοῦ , in opposition to decisive evidence. It is taken from Luke 8:5 .

Mark 4:5 . Instead of ἄλλο δέ read, with Lachm. and Tisch., καὶ ἄλλο , according to B C L M ** Δ א , min. vss. The Recepta is from Matthew 13:5 .

Mark 4:6 . ἡλίου δὲ ἀνατείλαντος ] Lachm. and Tisch. read συνάγεται , following B C D L Δ א , Copt. Vulg. Cant. Vind. Corb. 2, Rd. The Recepta is from Matthew 13:6 .

Mark 4:8 . ἄλλο ] B C L א , min. have the reading ἀλλά (Fritzsche, Rinck, Tisch.). It is from Matt., and was favoured by the tripartite division that follows.

αὐξάνοντα ] A B C D L Δ א , 238 have αὐξανόμενον . Approved by Griesb., adopted by Lachm. and Tisch. Rightly, because the intransitive αὐξάνειν is the prevailing form in the N. T.

Instead of the threefold repetition of ἔν , Tisch. εἰς three times, following B C * L Δ , min. Yet B L have ΕΙΣ once and ΕΝ twice. The reading of Tisch. is to be regarded as original; the ἐν , which is likewise strongly attested, was a gloss upon it, and that reading then became easily taken and interpreted, in comparison with Matthew 13:8 , as the numeral ἕν . In Mark 4:20 also the ἕν is not to be written three times, but with all the uncials, which have breathings and accents: ἐν , as also Tisch. has it.

Mark 4:9 . ὁ ἔχων ] Lachm. and Tisch. have ὅς ἔχει , following B C * D Δ א * . The Recepta is from Matthew 13:9 ; Luke 8:8 .

Mark 4:10 . ἠρώτησαν ] Fritzsche, Lachm. and Tisch. have ἠρώτων [80] on preponderant evidence (D has ἐπηρώτων ). To be adopted. If the imperfect had been introduced from Luke 8:9 , ἐπηρώτων would be more diffused.

τὴν ταραβολήν ] Tisch. has τὰς παραβολάς , following B C L Δ א , vss. The singular is a correction; comp. Luke.

Mark 4:11 . γνῶναι ] is wanting in A B C * K L א , min. Copt. Corb. 1. Suspected by Griesb., deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. An addition from Matthew 13:11 ; Luke 8:10 . With Tischendorf the words are to be arranged thus: τ . μυστ . δέδ . τ . βασ .

Mark 4:12 . τὰ ἁμαρτήματα ] is wanting in B C L א , min. Copt. Arm. Cr. (twice); condemned by Griesb., bracketed by Lachm., deleted by Fritzsche and Tisch. An addition, instead of which is found also τὰ παραπτώματα (min.).

Mark 4:15 . ἐν ταῖς καρδ . αὐτῶν ] C L Δ א , Copt. Syr. p. (in the margin) Colb.: ἐν αὐτοῖς (so Tisch.), and in favour of this B and min. testify by the reading εἰς αὐτούς . The Recepta is explanatory after Matthew 13:19 , comp. Luke 8:12 , but at the same time its testimony is in favour of ἘΝ ΑὐΤΟῖς , not of ΕἸς ΑὐΤΟΎς .

Mark 4:18 . ΚΑῚ ΟὟΤΟΙ ΕἸΣΙΝ ] Griesb. Lachm. Tisch. read ΚΑῚ ἌΛΛΟΊ ΕἸΣΙΝ , following B C * D L Δ א , Copt. Vulg. Song of Solomon 4:0 :Colb. Vind. Germ. Corb. Rightly; the Recepta originated by mechanical process after Mark 4:15-16 , comp. Mark 4:20 . When this οὗτοι came in, there emerged at once an incompatibility with the subsequent οὗτοί εἰσιν , therefore this latter was omitted (A C ** E G H K M S U V Π , min., Copt. Syr. p. Goth. Slav. Brix. Theophyl. Matth. and Fritzsche), while others removed the first οὗτοί εἰσιν (min. Arm.).

Mark 4:19 . τούτου after αἰῶνος is rightly deleted by Griesb., Fritzsche, Lach. and Tisch. in conformity with very considerable testimony. A current addition.

Mark 4:20 . οὗτοι ] Tisch. has ἐκεῖνοι , following B C L Δ א ; οὗτοι is a mechanical repetition, and comp. Matt. and Luke.

Mark 4:21 . The order ἔρχεταιλύχνος is to be adopted, with Lachm. and Tisch., according to B C D L Δ א , min. vss.

ἐπιτεθῇ ] τεθῇ is attested by B C L Δ א , min. (so also Fritzsche, Lachm. and Tisch.; recommended, moreover, by Griesb.). The compound word is more precise in definition, and came in here and at Luke 8:16 .

Mark 4:22 . The τι (which Lachm. brackets) was easily omitted after ἐστι as being superfluous.

ἐὰν μή ] many variations, among which ἐὰν μή has the strong attestation of A C K L, min. It is commended by Griesb., and is to be adopted. The apparent absurdity of the sense [81] suggested partly the addition of ὅ , partly, in conformity with what follows, readings with ἽΝΑ , namely, ἈΛΛʼ (D, vss.) and ἘᾺΝ ΜῊ ἽΝΑ (so Lachm. Tisch., following B D א ), ΕἸ ΜῊ ἽΝΑ (min.).

Mark 4:24 . After the second ὙΜῖΝ , Elz. Fritzsche, Scholz have ΤΟῖς ἈΚΟΎΟΥΣΙΝ , which also Lachm. and Tisch. on decisive evidence have deleted (it is a gloss), while Griesb. strikes out the whole ΚΑῚ ΠΡΟΣΤΕΘ . ὙΜῖΝ ΤΟῖς ἈΚ . (only in accordance with D G, Codd. It.), and Fritzsche places these words after ἈΚΟΎΕΤΕ (according to Arm.). The course followed by Griesb. and Fritzsche must be rejected on account of the very weakness of the evidence; the reading of Griesb. arose from the fact that the eye of the transcriber passed from the first ὙΜῖΝ directly to the second.

Mark 4:25 . Ὅς ΓᾺΡ ἊΝ ἜΧῌ ] Lachm. and Tisch. have Ὅς ΓᾺΡ ἜΧΕΙ , following B C L Δ א , min., to which, moreover, D E * F, al. are added with the reading ὃς γὰρ ἂν ἒχει . According to this, ἒχει alone is to be read; ἄν was added probably in recollection of Luke 8:18 , and then ἔχει was transmuted into ἔχῃ .

Mark 4:28 . γάρ is to be deleted, with Lachm. and Tisch., following very important authorities. A connective addition, instead of which D has ὅτι αὐτ .

πλήρη σῖτον ] Lachm. and Tisch. read πλήρης σῖτος , following B, to which D falls to be added with the reading πλήρηςσῖτος . πλήρης σῖτος is the original, which it was thought necessary subsequently to help by a structural emendation.

Mark 4:30 . τίνι ] B C L Δ א , min. 4 :have πῶς , which Griesb. has recommended, Fritzsche and Tisch. have adopted. τίνι is from Luke 13:18 .

ἐν ποίᾳ παραβολῇ παραβάλωμεν αὐτήν ] Fritzsche, Lachm. Tisch. have ἐν τίνι αὐτὴν παραβολῇ θῶμεν , following B C * L Δ א , min. 4 :Or. Rightly; ποίᾳ came in as a gloss upon τίνι , after the analogy of the preceding πῶς ; and the more difficult θῶμεν was explained by παραβαλώμεν .

Mark 4:31 . κόκκον ] Elz. Fritzsche, Tisch. read κόκκῳ , following B D Δ Π א . As after the second half of Mark 4:30 the accusative (Griesb. Scholz, Lachm.) more readily suggested itself (in connection with θῶμεν or παραβάλωμεν ), the dative is to be preferred as the more difficult reading, which was the more easily supplanted by comparison of the different connections in Matthew 13:31 ; Luke 13:19 .

μικρότερος ] Lachm. reads μικρότερον , following B D L M Δ א , min. He adds, moreover, ὄν according to B L Δ א , omitting the subsequent ἐστί , and encloses τῶν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς , which is wanting in C, Ver., in brackets. Tisch. also has μικρότερον ὄν , omitting ἐστί . The Recepta is to be retained; ΜΙΚΡΌΤΕΡΟΝ is a grammatical correction [82] that has originated from a comparison with Matt., and the added ὌΝ , having arisen from the writing twice over of the ΟΝ which had gone before, or from the marginal writing of ΟΝ over the final syllable of ΜΙΚΡΌΤΕΡΟΣ , dislodged the subsequent ἘΣΤΊ , whereupon, doubtless, the connection was lost.

Mark 4:34 . Τ . ΜΑΘ . ΑὐΤΟῦ ] Tisch. reads Τ . ἸΔΊΟΙς ΜΑΘ . , following B C L Δ א . Rightly; the Recepta is the usual expression.

Mark 4:36 . The reading ΠΛΟῖΑ instead of ΠΛΟΙΆΡΙΑ (as Elz. Fritzsche, Scholz have it) is so decisively attested, that but for that circumstance the more rare ΠΛΟΙΆΡΙΑ would have to be defended.

Mark 4:37 . Instead of ΑὐΤῸ ἬΔΗ ΓΕΜΊΖΕΣΘΑΙ , Griesb. approved, and Lachm. and Tisch. read, ἬΔΗ ΓΕΜΊΖΕΣΘΑΙ ΤῸ ΠΛΟῖΟΝ , following B C D L Δ א ** Copt. Syr. p. (in the margin) Vulg. It. This latter is to be preferred; the simple mode of expression was smoothed.

Mark 4:38 . Instead of ἘΠΙ before Τ . ΠΡ . , Griesb. Fritzsche, Lachm. Tisch. read ἘΝ on decisive evidence.

Mark 4:40 . ΟὝΤΩ ] is deleted by Lachm., following B D L Δ א , Copt. Aeth. Vulg. It., and subsequently, instead of Πῶς ΟὐΚ , he has, with Griesb., ΟὔΠΩ according to the same and other authorities. But the Recepta is, with Tisch., to be maintained. For in accordance with Matthew 8:26 οὕτω was very easily dropped, while οὔπω just as easily crept in as a modifying expression, which at the same time dislodged the πῶς .

[80] In Exodus 8:0 Tisch., following C א , has the form ἠρώτουν , which probably is only a transcriber’s error, as with still stronger evidence in its favour is the case in Matthew 15:23 . The Ionic form of the verb in εω is entirely foreign to the N. T.

[81] The reading ἐὰν μή is in no wise absurd (Fritzsche, de Wette), but it gives the same logical analysis as Mark 10:30 . See in loc.

[82] μείζων , too, ver. 32, became changed in codd. into μεῖζον . So A C E L V א , min. Tisch.

Verses 1-9

Mark 4:1-9 . See on Matthew 13:1-9 . Comp. Luke 8:4-8 . Matthew has here a group of parables from the collection of Logia to the number of seven , a later and richer selection than Mark gives with his three similitudes, the second of which, however (Mark 4:26-29 ), Matthew has not, because it probably was not embraced in the collection of Logia. See on Mark 4:26 ff. Matthew has worked by way of amplification, and not Mark by way of reducing and weakening (Hilgenfeld).

πάλιν , see Mark 3:7 .

ἤρξατο ] For from καὶ συνάγεται onward is related what happened after the commencement of His teaching.

Mark 4:2 . ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ ] in His doctrinal discourse . Of the many ( πολλά ) Mark adduces some.

Mark 4:7 . συνέπνιξαν ] choked the germinating seed, com pressing it. Comp. Theophylact, c. pl. vi. 11. 6 : δένδρα συμπνιγόμενα .

Mark 4:8 . ἀναβαίνοντα καὶ αὐξανόμενον (see the critical remarks) is predicate of καρπόν , hence ἐδίδου καρπόν (and consequently also καρπὸν οὐκ ἔδωκε , Mark 4:7 ) is to be understood not of the grains of corn, but of the corn-stalks ascending and growing (shooting upward and continuing to grow). The produce of the grains is only mentioned in the sequel: καὶ ἔφερεν κ . τ . λ . In the classics also καρπός means generally that which grows in the field (Hom. Il. i. 156; Xen. de venat. v. 5; Plat. Theaet. p. 149 E, Crat. p. 410 C), as in the German Frucht, Früchte . Comp. καρποφορεῖ , Mark 4:28 .

With the Recepta ἓν τριάκοντα is to be taken as: one bore thirty (neuter: nothing to be supplied), i.e. according to the connection: one grain, which had been sown, bore thirty grains, another sixty, and so on. On the usus loquendi , comp. Xen. Hell. vii. 4. 27: ἓν μέρος ἒλαβον Ἀργεῖοι , ἓν δὲ Θηβαῖοι , ἓν δὲ Ἀρκάδες , ἓν δὲ Μεσσήνιοι , Arist. Eth. Nic. vi. 1. 5; Sir 31:23 f. With the reading εἰς τριάκοντα (see the critical remarks) we must render: it bore up to thirty , and up to sixty, etc. If ἐν τριάκοντα be read, the meaning is: it bore in ( at the rate of) thirty, etc., so that the fruit-bearing was consummated in thirty, and so on. Observe, further, how Mark 4:8 has changed the primitive form of the Logia-collection still preserved in Matthew, especially as to the climax of the fruitfulness, which in Matthew is descending, in Mark ascending.

Mark 4:9 . καὶ ἔλεγεν ] “pausa frequens, sermonibus gravissimis interposita,” Bengel. Comp. Mark 2:27 .

Verses 10-20

Mark 4:10-20 . See on Matthew 13:10-23 . Comp. Luke 8:9-15 .

καταμόνας ] therefore, according to Mark, no longer in the ship, Mark 4:1 .

οἱ περὶ αὐτόν ] they who besides and next after the Twelve were the more confidential disciples of Jesus. A more precise definition than in Matthew and Luke. Of the Seventy (Euthymius Zigabenus) Mark has no mention. We may add that Matthew could not have better made use of the expression οἱ περὶ αὐτὸν σὺν τοῖς δώδεκα . (Holtzmann, who therefore pronounces it not to belong to the primitive-Mark), nor could he not use it at all (Weiss in the Zeitschr. f. D. Theol. 1864, p. 86 f.). He has only changed the detailed description of Mark into the usual expression, and he goes to work in general less accurately in delineating the situation.

τὰς παραβ .] see Mark 4:2 .

Mark 4:11 . δέδοται ] of the spiritual giving brought about by making them capable of knowing ; hence γνῶναι , (which here is spurious) in Matthew and Luke.

τοῖς ἔξω ] that is, to those who are outside of our circle, to the people . The sense of οἱ ἔξω is always determined by the contrast to it. In the Epistles it is the non-Christians (1 Corinthians 5:12 f.; Colossians 4:5 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:12 ; 1 Timothy 3:7 ). We are the less entitled to discover here, with de Wette, an unsuitable ὕστερον πρότερον of expression, seeing that the expression in itself so relative does not even in the Talmud denote always the non-Jews (Schoettgen, ad 1 Corinthians 5:12 f.), but also those who do not profess the doctrine of the הכמים the היצונים ; see Lightfoot, p. 609.

ἐν παραβ . τὰ πάντα γίνεται ] ἐν παραβ . has the emphasis: in parables the whole is imparted to them, so that there is not communicated to them in addition the abstract doctrine itself. All that is delivered to them of the mystery of the Messiah’s kingdom that is, of the divine counsel concerning it, which was first unveiled in the gospel is conveyed to them under a veil of parable, and not otherwise. On γίνεται , comp. Herod. ix. 46: ἡμῖν οἱ λόγοι γεγόνασι , Thucyd. v. 111, al.

Mark 4:12 . ἵνα ] not: ita ut, as Wolf, Bengel, Rosenmüller, Kuinoel, and others would have it, but, as it always is (comp. on Matthew 1:22 ), a pure particle of design. The unbelieving people are, by the very fact that the communications of the mystery of the Messiah’s kingdom are made to them in parables and not otherwise, intended not to attain to insight into this mystery, and thereby to conversion and forgiveness. This idea of the divine Nemesis is expressed under a remembrance of Isaiah 6:9-10 , which prophetic passage appears in Matthew (less originally) as a formal citation by Jesus, and in an altered significance of bearing attended by a weakening of its teleological point. Baur, indeed, finds the aim expressed in Mark (for it is in nowise to be explained away) absolutely inconceivable; but it is to be conceived of as a mediate, not as a final, aim a “judicium divinum” (Bengel), which has a paedagogic purpose.

Mark 4:13 . After Jesus, Mark 4:11-12 , has expressed the right of His disciples to learn, not merely, like the unbelieving multitude, the parables themselves, but also their meaning the μυστήριον contained in them and has thus acknowledged their question in Mark 4:10 as justified, He addresses Himself now, with a new commencement of His discourse ( καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς , comp. Mark 4:21 ; Mark 4:24 ; Mark 4:26 ; Mark 4:30 ; Mark 4:35 ), to the purpose of answering that question, and that with reference to the particular concrete parable, Mark 4:3 ff. To this parable, which is conceived as having suggested the general question of Mark 4:10 (hence τ . παραβολὴν ταύτην ), He confines Himself, and introduces the exposition to be given with the words: Know ye not this parable, and how shall ye (in general) understand all parables? These words are merely intended to lead back in a lively manner, after the digression of Mark 4:11-12 , to the point of the question at Mark 4:10 , the reply to which then begins at Mark 4:14 with respect to that special parable. A reproach is by some found in the words (since unto you it is given, etc., Mark 4:11 , it surprises me, that ye know not, etc.). See Fritzsche and de Wette, the latter accusing Mark of placing quite inappropriately in the mouth of Jesus an unseasonable reproach. But Mark himself pronounces decisively against the entire supposition of this connection by his καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς , whereby he separates the discourse of Mark 4:13 from what has gone before. If the assumed connection were correct, Mark must have omitted this introduction of a new portion of discourse, and instead of οὐκ οἴδατε must have used perhaps καὶ ὑμεῖς οὐκ οἴδατε , or some similar link of connection with what precedes. Moreover, Mark 4:13 is to be read as one question (comp. Lachmann and Tischendorf), and in such a way that καὶ πῶς κ . τ . λ . still depends on οὐκ οἴδατε (comp. Ewald); not, as Fritzsche would have it, in such a way that καί indicates the consequence, and there would result the meaning: “Ye understand not this parable, and are ye to understand all parables?” But this would rather result in the meaning: Ye understand not this parable; how is it, consequently, possible that ye shall understand all parables? And this would be a strange and unmeaning, because altogether self-evident consequence. Usually Mark 4:13 is divided into two questions (so, too, de Wette), and πάσας is taken as equivalent to: all the rest; but this is done quite without warrant, since the idea of λοιπάς would be precisely the point in virtue of the contrast which is assumed.

γνώσεσθε ] future, because the disciples were not aware how they should attain to the understanding of the whole of the parables partly delivered already (Mark 4:2 ), partly still to be delivered in time to come.

The following interpretation of the parable, Mark 4:14-20 , is “so vivid, rich, and peculiar, that there is good reason for finding in it words of Christ Himself,” Ewald.

Mark 4:15 . Observe the difference between the local ὅπον and the temporal ὅταν , in connection with which καί is not adversative (Kuinoel, de Wette), but the simple conjunctive and: The following are those (who are sown) by the way-side: then, when the teaching is sown and they shall have heard, cometh straightway Satan, etc.

Mark 4:16 . ὁμοίως ] in like manner, after an analogous figurative reference, in symmetrical further interpretation of the parable. Translate: And the following are in like manner those who are sown on the stony ground: (namely) those who, when they shall have heard the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have not root in themselves, etc. It is more in keeping with the simplicity and vividness of the discourse not to take the καὶ οὐκ ἔχουσι along with οἵ .

Mark 4:18 f. And there are others, who are sown among the thorns; these are they who, etc. If ἀκούοντες be read, which, however, would arise more easily from the similar parallel of Matthew than ἀκούσαντες (B C D L Δ א , Tisch.) from the dissimilar one of Luke, the course of events is set forth from the outset, whereas ἀκούσαντες sets it forth from the standpoint of the result (they have heard, and, etc.).

τὰ λοιπά ] besides riches: sensual pleasure, honour, etc.

εἰσπορ .] namely, into that place whither the word that is heard has penetrated, into the heart. The expression does not quite fit into the parable itself; but this does not point to less of originality (Weiss). De Wette wrongly observes that εἰσπορ . is probably an erroneous explanation of the πορευόμενοι in Luke.

Mark 4:20 . ἐν (not ἕν ; see the critical remarks on Mark 4:8 ) τριάκοντα κ . τ . λ . is, it is true, so far out of keeping, that by retaining the numbers the discourse falls back from the interpretation into the figure; but the very repetition of the striking closing words of the parable, in which only the preposition is here accidentally changed, betokens the set purpose of solemn emphasis.

Verses 21-23

Mark 4:21-23 . Comp. Luke 8:16 f. Meaning (comp. Matthew 5:15 ; Matthew 10:26 ): “the light, i.e. the knowledge of the μυστήριον τῆς βασιλείας , which ye receive from me, ye are not to withhold from others, but to bring about its diffusion; for, as what is concealed is not destined for concealment, but rather for becoming manifest, so also is the mystery of the Messiah’s kingdom.” [83] These sayings, however, as far as Mark 4:25 , have not their original place here, but belong to what (according to Papias) Mark wrote οὐ τάξει . Holtzmann judges otherwise, p. 81, in connection with his assumption of a primitive-Mark. The collection of Logia is sufficient as a source. Comp. Weiss in the Jahrb. f. D. Theol. 1864, p. 88.

ἔρχεται ] Doth the lamp then possibly come , etc.? ἔρχεσθαι is used of inanimate things which are brought ; very frequently also in classical writers.

ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον ] See on Matthew 5:15 .

ΚΛΊΝΗΝ ] a table-couch . Comp. Mark 7:4 . After κλίνην there is only a comma to be placed: the question is one as far as τεθῇ .

According to the reading ἘᾺΝ ΜῊ ΦΑΝΕΡ . (see the critical remarks), the rendering is: nothing is hidden, if it shall not (in future) be made manifest . [84] So surely and certainly does the ΦΑΝΈΡΩΣΙς set in!

ἈΛΛʼ ἽΝΑ ΕἸς ΦΑΝ . ἜΛΘῌ ] The logical reference of ἈΛΛʼ is found in a pregnant significance of ἈΠΌΚΡΥΦΟΝ : nor has there anything (after ΟὐΔΈ , ΤΙ is again to be mentally supplied) taken place as secret, i.e. what is meant to be secret, but what in such a case has come to pass, has the destination, etc.

[83] According to others, Jesus gives an allegorical exhortation to virtue : “ut lucerna candelabro imponenda est, sic vos oportet, discipuli, non quidem vitam umbratilem sine virtutis splendore agere; sed,” etc., Fritzsche, comp. Theophylact, Grotius, and others. But the kindled light would, in fact, be already the symbol of virtue, and Jesus would forbid the exercise of it in secret! Moreover, this view is not required by ver. 20, since with ver. 21 a new portion of the discourse commences; and our view is not forbidden by ver. 11 (comp. ver. 34), since in ver. 11 Jesus is only speaking of the then unsusceptible multitude, and, if pushed to consistent general application, these words spoken at ver. 11 would quite annul the apostolic calling. History has refuted this general application. Erasmus, Paraphr. , aptly says: “Nolite putare me, quod nunc secreto vobis committo, perpetuo celatum esse velle; … lux est per me in vobis accensa, ut vestro ministerio discutiat tenebras totius mundi.”

[84] “Id fit successive in hoc saeculo, et fiet plene, quum lux omnia illustrabit, 1 Corinthians 4:5 ,” Bengel.

Verses 24-25

Mark 4:24-25 . Comp. Luke 8:18 .

βλέπετε ] Be heedful as to what ye hear ; how important it is rightly to understand what is delivered to you by me!

ἐνμέτρῳ κ . τ . λ .] A ground of encouragement to heedfulness. It is otherwise in Matthew 7:2 . In our passage the relation of heedfulness to the knowledge thereby to be attained is described. Euthymius Zigabenus well says: ἐνμέτρῳ μετρεῖτε τὴν προσοχὴν , ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ μετρηθήσεται ὑμῖνγνῶσις , τουτέστιν · ὅσην εἰσφέρετε προσοχὴν , τοσαύτη παραχεθήσεται ὑμῖν γνῶσις , καὶ οὐ μόνον ἐν τῷ τοσαύτη παρασχεθήσεται ὑμῖν γνῶσις , καὶ οὐ μόνον ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ μέτρῳ , ἀλλὰ καὶ πλέον .

Mark 4:25 . Reason assigned for the foregoing καὶ προστεθήσεται . The application of the proverbial saying (comp. Matthew 13:12 ; Matthew 25:29 ) is: For if ye (through heedfulness) have become rich in knowledge, ye shall continually receive still larger accession to this riches (that is just the προσ τεθήσεται ); but if ye (through heedlessness) are poor in knowledge, ye shall also lose even your little knowledge. Euthymius Zigabenus erroneously refers δοθήσεται only to the γνῶσις , and ἔχῃ to the προσοχήν . So also Theophylact.

Verses 26-29

Mark 4:26-29 . Jesus now continues, as is proved by Mark 4:33 f. (in opposition to Baur, Markusevang. p. 28), His parabolic discourses to the people ; hence ἔλεγεν is here used without αὐτοῖς (Mark 4:21 ; Mark 4:24 ), and Mark 4:10-25 are to be regarded as an inserted episode (in opposition to de Wette, Einl. § 94 b , who holds ὅτε δὲ ἐγένετο καταμόνας as absurd).

Mark alone has the following parable, but in a form so thoughtful and so characteristically different from Matthew 13:24 f., that it is without sufficient ground regarded (by Ewald, Hilgenfeld, Köstlin) as founded on, or remodelled [85] from, Matt. l.c. , and therefore as not originally belonging to this place, a view with which Weiss agrees, but traces the parable of Mark to the primitive form in the collection of Logia, and holds the enemy that sowed the tares, Matthew 13:0 , to have been brought into it by the first evangelist; while Strauss (in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschr. 1863, p. 209) has recourse to the neutral character of Mark, in accordance with which he is held to have removed the ἐχθρὸς ἄνθρωπος (by which Paul is meant!). See, on the other hand, Klöpper in the Jahrb. f. D. Theol. 1864, p. 141 ff., who, with Weizsäcker, discovers the point aimed at in the parable to be that of antagonism to the vehement expectations of a speedy commencement of the kingdom, which, however, must have been directly indicated, and is not even implied in Matthew 13:0 (see Mark 4:37 ff.). Without foundation, Weizsäcker (p. 118) finds in the parable a proof that our Gospel of Mark was not written till after the destruction of Jerusalem, when the delaying of the Parousia had become evident. Here the establishment of the kingdom is not at all depicted under the specific form of the Parousia , and there is nothing said of a delaying of it.

βασιλεία τ . Θεοῦ ] The Messianic kingdom , conceived of as preparing for its proximate appearance, and then (Mark 4:29 ) appearing at its time.

τὸν σπόρον ] the seed concerned.

Observe the aorist βάλῃ , and then the presents which follow: has cast, and then sleeps and arises , etc.

νύκτα κ . ἡμέραν ] With another form of conception the genitives might also be used here. See on the distinction, Kühner, II. p. 219. The prefixing of ΝΎΚΤΑ is here occasioned by the order of ΚΑΘΕΎΔῌ ΚΑῚ ἘΓΕΊΡ . See, further, on Luke 2:37 . Erasmus erroneously refers ἘΓΕΊΡ . to the seed , which is only introduced as subject with βλαστ .

μηκύνηται ] is extended , in so far, namely, as the shoot of the seed comes forth and mounts upwards ( increscat , Vulgate). Comp. LXX. Isaiah 44:14 . In the shoot the seed extends itself .

ὡς οὐκ οἶδεν αὐτός ] in a way unknown to himself (the sower); he himself knows not how it comes about. See the sequel.

αὐτομάτη ] of itself , without man’s assistance. [86] Comp. Hesiod, ἜΡΓ . 118; Herod ii. 94, viii. 138; and Wetstein in loc.

εἶτα πλήρης σῖτος ἐν τ . στ .] the nominative (see the critical remarks) with startling vividness brings before us the result as standing by itself: then full (developed to full size) grain in the ear! See on this nominative standing forth in rhetorical relief from the current construction, Bernhardy, p. 68 f.

Mark 4:29 . παραδῷ ] is usually explained intransitively , in the sense: shall have delivered itself over, namely, by its ripeness to the harvesting. Many transitive verbs are confessedly thus used in an intransitive signification, in which case, however, it is inappropriate to supply ἑαυτόν (Kühner, II. p. 9 f.). So, in particular, compounds of ΔΙΔΌΝΑΙ (see Viger., ed. Herm. p. 132; Valckenaer, Diatr. p. 233; Jacobs, ad Philostr. p. 363; Krüger, § 52. 2. 9); and see in general, Bernhardy, p. 339 f.; Winer, p. 225 [E. T. 315]. But of this use of παραδιδόναι there is found no quite certain instance [87] (not even in 1 Peter 2:23 , see Huther); moreover, the expression itself, “the fruit has offered itself,” would be foreign to the simplicity of the style, and has a modern sound. Hence (comp. Kaeuffer, de ζωῆς αἰων . not. p. 49) παραδιδ . is rather to be explained as to allow , in accordance with well-known usage (Herod v. 67, vii. 18; Xen. Anab. vi. 6. 34; Polyb. iii. 12. 4): but when the fruit shall have allowed, i.e. when it is sufficiently ripe. Quite similar is the expression: τῆς ὥρας παραδιδούσης , Polyb. xxii. 24. 9 : when the season permitted . Bleek assents to this view.

ἀποστέλλει τὸ δρέπανον ] Comp. Joel 4:13; Revelation 14:15 .

The teaching of the parable is: Just as a man, after performing the sowing, leaves the germination and growth, etc., without further intervention, to the earth’s own power, but at the time of ripening reaps the harvest, so the Messiah leaves the ethical results and the new developments of life, which His word is fitted to produce in the minds of men, to the moral self-activity of the human heart, through which these results are worked out in accordance with their destination (to δικαιοσύνη this is the parabolic reference of the πλήρης σῖτος ), but will, when the time for the establishment of His kingdom comes, cause the δικαίους to be gathered into it (by the angels, Matthew 24:31 ; these are the reapers, Matthew 13:39 ). The self-activity on which stress is here laid does not exclude the operations of divine grace, but the aim of the parable is just to render prominent the former, not the latter. It is the one of the two factors, and its separate treatment, keeping out of view for the present the other, leaves the latter unaffected. Comp. Mark 4:24 . Bengel aptly observes on αὐτομάτη , Mark 4:28 : “non excluditur agricultura et coelestis pluvia solesque.” Moreover, Jesus must still for the present leave the mode of bringing about the δικαιοσύνη (by means of His ἱλαστήριον and faith thereon) to the later development of His doctrine. But the letting the matter take its course and folding the hands (Strauss) are directly excluded by αὐτομάτη , although the parable is opposed also to the conception of a so-called plan of Jesus. [88]

[85] A “tame weakening,” in the opinion of Hilgenfeld, comp. Strauss; “of a secondary nature,” in that of Weizsäcker.

[86] Hence there is no inconsistency with ver. 27 (Weiss). The germinative power of the seed is conditioned by the immanent power of the earth, which acts upon it.

[87] In Joshua 11:19 the reading varies much and is doubtful; in Plat. Phaedr. p. 250 E, παραδούς is not necessarily reflexive.

[88] Comp. Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 348 ff.

Verses 30-32

Mark 4:30-32 . See on Matthew 13:31 f. Comp. Luke 13:17 f.

πῶς ] how are we to bring the Messianic kingdom into comparison?

ἐν τίνι αὐτ . παραβολῇ θῶμεν (see the critical remarks): or in what parable are we to place it, set it forth? The expression inclusive of others ( we ) is in keeping with the deliberative form of discourse. The hearers are formally taken into the consultation. The deviation from the normal order of the words places the principal emphasis on τίνι .

ὡς κόκκῳ σιν .] ὡς is correlative to the πῶς of Mark 4:30 : so as it is likened to a grain of mustard seed .

The following [89] is not a parable in the stricter sense (not a history), but a comparison generally, the representation of the idea, borrowed from the region of sense. Comp. Mark 3:23 , Mark 7:17 . See on Matthew 13:3 .

Observe the twofold ὅταν σπαρῇ , Mark 4:31-32 . In the first the emphasis is on ὅταν , in the second on σπαρῇ . “Exacte definit tempus illud, quum granum desinit esse parvum et incipit fieri magnum,” Bengel.

[89] From the collection of Logia, and in a shape more original than Matthew and Luke, who add the historical form. Mark would least of all have divested it of this, if he had found it in existence. Comp. (in opposition to Holtzmann) Weiss in the Jahrb. f. D. Theol. 1864, p. 93.

Verse 33

Mark 4:33 f. Comp. Matthew 13:34 .

From τοιαύταις it follows that Mark knew yet more parables that were spoken at that time.

καθὼς ἠδύναντο ἀκούειν ] As they were able (in virtue of their capacity) to take in the teaching. Not as though they could have apprehended the inner doctrinal contents of the parables (Mark 4:11 ), but they were capable of apprehending the narrative form , the parabolic narrative in itself , in which the teaching was veiled, so that they were thus qualified only in this form ( καθώς ) to hear the doctrine. Accordingly, ἀκούειν here is neither: to understand , nor equivalent to βαστάζειν , John 16:12 (Bengel, Kuinoel, and others), but the simple to hear, to perceive .

οὐκ ἐλάλει ] at that time . See on Matthew 13:34 . Baur indeed (see Markusevang. p. 24 f.) will not allow a limitation to the teaching at that time , but would draw the conclusion that Mark has perhaps not even regarded the Sermon on the Mount, such as Matthew has it, as being historical, and has given the foregoing parables as a substitute for it. But Mark himself certainly has doctrinal utterances of Jesus enough, which are not parabolical.

Verses 35-41

Mark 4:35-41 . See on Matthew 8:18 ; Matthew 8:23-27 . Comp. Luke 8:22-25 .

ἐν ἐκείντῇ ἡμέρᾳ ] Mark 4:1 f.; a difference in respect of time from Matthew 8:18 . Luke 8:22 is altogether indefinite.

ὡς ἦν ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ ] to be taken together; as He was in the ship (comp. Mark 4:1 ) without delay for further preparation they take possession of Him. For examples of this mode of expression, see Kypke and Fritzsche.

καὶ ἄλλα δέ ] but other ships also (Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 182; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 884) were in His train ( μετʼ αὐτοῦ ) during the voyage; a characteristic descriptive trait in Mark.

Mark 4:37 . On λαῖλαψ ἀνέμου , comp. Hom. Il. xvii. 57; Anthol. Anacr. 82. On the accent of λαῖλαψ , see Lipsius, gramm. Untersuch. p. 36 f.

ἐπέβαλεν ] intransitive (comp. on Mark 4:29 , Plat. Phaedr. p. 248 A, and frequently) not transitive , so that the storm would be the subject (Vulgate, Luther, Zeger, Homberg, and several others). The τὰ δέ κύματα , for this purpose prefixed, indicates itself as the subject.

Mark 4:38 . And He Himself was at the stem , laid down on the pillow that was there, asleep . It was a part of the vessel intended for the sailors to sit or lie down, Poll. v. 40; more strictly, according to Smith ( Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul , p. 296 ff.), the cushion of the rowers’ bench.

Mark 4:39 . σιώπα , πεφίμωσο ] be silent! be dumb! asyndetic, and so much the more forcible (Nägelsbach, Anm. z. Ilias , Exodus 3:0 , p. 247, 359), Eur. Hec. 532. The sea is personified ; hence the less are we to conjecture, with Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 230, that Jesus has addressed the disciples (ye shall see that it will immediately be still).

ἐκόπασενἄνεμος ] Herod vii. 191. Comp. Mark 6:51 ; Matthew 14:32 , from which passage de Wette arbitrarily derives the expression of Mark.

Mark 4:40 . πῶς ] how is it possible , etc.? They had already so often been the witnesses of His divine power, [90] under the protection of which they needed not to tremble.

Mark 4:41 . ἐφοβήθησαν ] not the people (Grotius and others), which agrees with Matthew but not with the context, but the disciples , who were thrown (psychologically) into fear at the quite extraordinary phenomenon, and were not yet clear as to the divine causa efficiens in Jesus ( τίς ἄρα οὗτος , etc.). As to φοβεῖσθαι φόβον μέγαν , comp. on Matthew 2:10 . On τίς ἄρα , in which the perplexity is not expressed by the ἄρα , but is implied in the context (in opposition to Hartung), and ἄρα means: igitur, rebus ita comparatis , see Klotz, ad Devar. p. 176. Comp. Nägelsbach, Anm. z. Ilias , Exodus 3:0 , p. 10 f.

[90] With this agrees neither the half-naturalizing view of Lange, L. J. II. p. 314, that the immediate causes of the calm setting in lay in the atmosphere, and that so far the threatening word of Jesus was prophetical (comp. Schleiermacher); nor the complete breaking up of the miracle by Schenkel, who makes the matter amount simply to this, that Jesus by virtue of His confidence in God and foresight of His destination exercised a peaceful and soothing sway among the disciples, although these were possessed of nautical knowledge and He was not. Keim, p. 123, adds, moreover, a prayer previous to the command of Jesus, assuming that then God acted, and Jesus was only His interpreter. Of all this, however, there is nothing in the text. See rather ver. 41, which also testifies against the resolution of the natural miracle suggested by Weizsäcker.


The weakness of faith and of discernment on the part of the disciples (Mark 4:40 f.) appears in Mark most strongly of the Synoptics (comp. Mark 6:52 , Mark 7:18 , Mark 8:17-18 ; Mark 8:33 , Mark 9:6 ; Mark 9:19 ; Mark 9:32 ; Mark 9:34 , Mark 10:24 ; Mark 10:32 ; Mark 10:35 , Mark 14:40 ). Ritschl in the theol. Jahrb. 1851, p. 517 ff., has rightly availed himself of this point on behalf of Mark’s originality; since a later softening yet without set purpose and naturally unbiassed, and hence not even consistent is at any rate more probable than a subsequent aggravation of this censure. The remarks of Baur in opposition ( theol. Jahrb. 1853, p. 88 f.) are unimportant, and would amount to this, that Mark, who is assumed withal to be neutral, would in this point have even outstripped Luke. Comp. Holtzmann, p. 435 f.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Mark 4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.