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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Mark 4

 

 

Verse 1

1 And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land.

Ver. 1. And he began again, &c.] sc. The self-same day wherein he had that busy bout with the blasphemous Pharisees. {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:1"}


Verse 2

2 And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine,

Ver. 2. He taught them many things by parables] Ministers must likewise fetch comparisons from things most familiar and best known to their hearers, as the prophets from fishes when they have to deal with the Egyptians; from flocks and herds, when with the Arabians; from merchandise and navigation, when with the Tyrians and Sidonians, &c.; and as our Saviour from fishing, when he dealeth with fishers; from sowing, when with seedsmen, &c.


Verse 3

3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

Ver. 3. Hearken, behold] Christ well knew the fickleness of men’s spirits, and how every small matter calls them off, when most earnestly set to hear. {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:3"}


Verse 4

4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

Ver. 4. {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:3"}


Verse 5

5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:

Ver. 5. {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:5"}


Verse 6

6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

Ver. 6. {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:5"}


Verse 7

7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

Ver. 7. {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:5"}


Verse 8

8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.

Ver. 8. Fruit that sprang up and increased] This is spoken in opposition to the thorny ground, where the thorns grow up together with the grain, and shaded it; whereas the good ground brings forth fruit increasing, and ascending: αναβαινοντα και αυξανοντα, and although it have many thorns, yet grace is superior to corruption, and keeps it under.


Verse 9

9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Ver. 9. He that hath ears, &c.] A form of speech to stir up attention; like the Athenian, ακουσατε, ανδρες; and our Oyez, from the French. Our Saviour cried and said so, saith St Luke.


Verse 10

10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.

Ver. 10. And when he was alone] Or solitary. A well chosen season is a very great advantage.


Verse 11

11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

Ver. 11. Unto them that are without] That are those who are in the Church, but not of the Church. She hath her hangers on, that are as wens or botches to the body.


Verse 12

12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

Ver. 12. {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:14"} {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:15"} {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:16"} {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:17"}


Verse 13

13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?

Ver. 13. Know ye not this parable?] What a shame is that! Gross ignorance, under excellent means of knowledge, is a blushful sin.

And how then will ye know all parables?] Anaxagoras the philosopher found himself benighted, and complained, omnia esse circumfusa tenebris, that there was a general darkness upon men’s understandings. Empedocles angustas esse sensuum semitas dixit: Empedocles said that the pathways of the senses were too narrow. And Democritus, that the truth lay hidden in a pit that had no bottom. Melancthon was heard to say, that he did not believe that there was any one man to be found in all Germany that could rightly understand one whole page in Aristotle’s Organon. How nmch less can any one understand gospel mysteries, but by a supernatural light! The Romans thought they had victory tied to them; we have not the knowledge of divine truths tied to us, &c. But as the Romans dedicated a lake (the depth whereof was unknown) to Victory, so must we be wise to sobriety; and what we cannot comprehend of God’s revealed will, run to Christ, and he will teach us, but still cry, "Oh the depth!" Romans 11:33.


Verse 16

14 The sower soweth the word.

15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

Ver. 16. Immediately they receive it with gladness] As children run away with deserts. But the new birth is seldom without pain, and without a flux of mortification. Leap-Christians prove apostates.


Verse 17

17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

Ver. 17. Immediately they are offended] They stumble at the cross, and fall backwards. These are prosperity proselytes, holy day servants, political professors, neuter passive Christians.


Verse 21

18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,

19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

21 And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?

Ver. 21. Is a candle brought] Or lighted, q.d. Take the benefit of the light of the gospel, suffer it not to stand under a bed or bushel; for "there is nothing hid," viz. in our hearts, "but it shall be opened," viz. by the power of the word most plainly. Lex, lux, law, light, the word is a curious critique, Hebrews 4:12.


Verse 22

22 For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.

Ver. 22. There is nothing hid, &c.] i.e. The prophets have delivered nothing darkly of me, which you must not make more manifest, and for that end you are enlightened, Romans 16:15. See Matthew 10:26.


Verse 23

23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

Ver. 23. {See Trapp on "Mark 4:9"}


Verse 24

24 And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.

Ver. 24. Take heed what you hear] As the husbandman is very curious in the choice of his seed.

With what measure you mete] i.e. As you mete to God in duty, so will God mete to you in mercy, Song of Solomon 1:3.

Shall more be given] sc. If you bring with you a loan of your former hearings. He that hears as he ought, every time he hears he grows something more rich: he picks up the gospel’s pearls, and presents them to God the next time, that he may have more. The good soul cannot be without some daily comings in from Christ.


Verse 25

25 For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.

Ver. 25. For he that hath, to him shall be given] Grace grows by exercise, and impairs by idleness; as that side of the teeth which is least used in chewing, is apt to have more rheum {a} settle upon it. Though both arms grow, yet that which a man useth is the stronger and bigger: so is it in grace. God gives "grace for grace," and his righteousness is revealed from faith to faith; that is, from a less measure to a greater, John 1:16; Romans 1:17. Whereas it is easy to observe an eclipse and decay of God’s gifts in them that use them not, till at last they may say with Zedekiah, "When went the Spirit of God from me?"

{a} Watery matter secreted by the mucous glands or membranes, such as collects in or drops from the nose, eyes, and mouth, etc., and which, when abnormal, was supposed to cause disease; hence, an excessive or morbid ‘defluxion’ of any kind. ŒD


Verse 26

26 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;

Ver. 26. So is the kingdom of God] God sows and reaps in the Church, though none observes it, and hath his fruit in due season.


Verse 27

27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.

Ver. 27. And should sleep] Ministers must rest secure with the success of their endeavours, having diligently done their duties. The word may work many a year after; as they say of the elephant, that she brings not forth till thirteen years after she hath conceived.


Verse 28

28 For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

Ver. 28. First the blade, then the ear] And the husbandman looks upon it with delight, in the hope of a harvest; so doth God take in good part our weak beginnings, while we strive to be better: his blessing is upon our very buds, Isaiah 44:3. The first springs in the womb of grace are precious to him, Ephesians 2:1.


Verse 29

29 But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

Ver. 29. Because the harvest is come] After long looking for, James 5:7. {See Trapp on "James 5:7"} "When will it once be?" saith God, Jeremiah 13:27.


Verse 30

30 And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?

Ver. 30. Whereunto shall we liken, &c.] The wisdom of God, the great Counsellor, seems to be at fault for a fit expression low enough for our slow apprehension.


Verse 31

31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth:

Ver. 31. {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:31"} {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:32"}


Verse 32

32 But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.

Ver. 32. {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:31"} {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:32"}


Verse 33

33 And with many such parables spake he the word unto them, as they were able to hear it.

Ver. 33. As they were able to hear] Not as he was able to have spoken: a minister must masticate his matter as nurses do their children’s meat, and speak to his hearers’ shallow capacities: or else he shall be a barbarian to them, and they to him. He is the best preacher, saith Luther, that preacheth commonly, trivially.


Verse 34

34 But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.

Ver. 34. He expounded] He read them the riddles, as it were, or untied the knots, επελυε. So, 7:15, we read of a dream, and the interpretation, or breaking of it. A metaphor from the breaking of a nut to get the kernel.


Verse 35

35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.

Ver. 35. {See Trapp on "Matthew 13:53"}


Verse 36

36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

Ver. 36. They took him] viz. Out of that part of the ship where he had taught, into another part more convenient, where he might rest. For he had preached all that day, till the evening, without taking either repast or repose, Mark 4:1.


Verse 37

37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

Ver. 37. {See Trapp on "Matthew 8:24"} {See Trapp on "Matthew 8:25"}


Verse 38

38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

Ver. 38. Asleep on a pillow] Neither did the noise of the sea, nor the hurry of the seamen labouring for life, awake Christ, till his own time was come. Despair not, if help be not at hand at first, as we desire: but awake Christ, as here, and Isaiah 51:9. God hath a mighty arm, but it may be asleep; the Church therefore cries three times in a verse, "Awake."


Verse 39

39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Ver. 39. Peace, be still] That is, have done quickly: so much the ingemination imports, Genesis 41:32.


Verse 40

40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

Ver. 40. Why are ye so fearful?] Increpatio cum admiratione: as their "Master, carest thou not," &c., was interrogatio conquerentis et reprehendentis. But if Caesar in a tempest could bid the bargeman be of good cheer, for he carried over the fortune of Caesar, which could not miscarry; {a} how much more might those that were upon the same bottom with Christ, have been confident of a safe arrival!

How is it that ye have no faith?] A little they had, Matthew 8:26. But this unexercised was, to comfort, as good as no faith.

{a} Perge contra tempestatem: Caesarem fers, et fortunam Caesaris. Plut.


Verse 41

41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Ver. 41. {See Trapp on "Matthew 8:27"}

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Mark 4:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/mark-4.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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