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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
Mark 4



Verse 1


He had taught there before. See Mark 3:7-9.

In the sea

Mark only.

There was gathered ( συνάγεται )

The A. V. misses Mark's graphic use of the present, “There is gathered.” So Rev.

Verse 7

Choked ( συνέπνιξαν )

The preposition, συν = con (together )carries the idea of compression.

It yielded no fruit

Added by Mark.

Verse 8

That sprang up and increased ( ἀναβαίνοντα καὶ αὐξανόμενον )

The Rev. literally renders the participles, growing up and increasing, thus describing the process more vividly. These two participles, moreover, explain the use of the imperfect tense ἐδίδου (yielded )denoting continuance. It began to yield and kept yielding as it increased.

Thirty ( εἰς τριάκοντα )

Lit., up to thirty.

Verse 10

When he was alone

Mark only.

They that were about him with the twelve

Mark only. Matthew and Luke, the disciples.

Verse 11

Unto them that are without ( ἐκείνοις τοῖς ἔξω )

The two latter words are peculiar to Mark. The phrase means those outside of our circle. Its sense is always determined by the contrast to it. Thus, 1 Corinthians 5:12, 1 Corinthians 5:13, it is non-Christians in contrast with me. Colossians 4:5, Christians contrasted with people of the world. Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Timothy 3:7. Matthew (Matthew 13:11), with less precision, uses simply ἐκείνοις (to them), the pronoun of remote reference. Luke 8:10, τοῖς λοιποῖς (to the rest )i1.

Verse 13

Peculiar to Mark.

Parables ( τὰς παραβολὰς )

The parables, which I have spoken or may hereafter speak.

Verse 14

The sower soweth the word

More precise than either Matthew or Luke. Compare Matthew 13:19; Luke 8:11.

Verse 19

The lusts of other things entering in ( αἱ περὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἐπιθυμίαι )

Lusts, not in the limited sense of mere sexual desire, but in the general sense of longing. The word is also used of desire for good and lawful things (Luke 22:15; Philemon 1:23).

Verse 20

Such as

A good rendering of the pronoun οἵτινες , which indicates the class of hearers.

Verse 21

A candle ( ὁ λύχνος )

Properly, the lamp, as Rev.

Brought ( ἔρχεται )

Lit., cometh. Doth the lamp come? This impersonation or investing the lamp with motion is according to Mark's lively mode of narrative, as is the throwing of the passage into the interrogative form. Compare Luke 8:16. The lamp: the article indicating a familiar household implement. So also “the bed” and “the stand.”

Bushel ( μόδιον )

The Latin modius. One of Mark's Latin words. See on Matthew 5:15. The modius was nearer a peck than a bushel.

Bed ( κλίνην )

A couch for reclining at table.

Candlestick ( λυχνίαν )

Rev., correctly, stand; i.e., lampstand. See on Matthew 5:15.

Verse 22

Which shall not be manifested ( ἐὰν μὴ ἵνα φανερωθῇ )

The A. V. makes Christ say that every hidden thing shall be revealed. This is wrong. He says that things are hidden in order that they may be manifested. Concealment is a means to revelation.


Verse 26

Should cast ( βάλῃ )

Lit., should have cast, the aorist tense, followed by the presents sleep and rise ( καθεύδῃ and ἐγείρηται )The whole, literally, “As if a man should have cast seed into the ground, and should be sleeping and rising night and day.” The aorist tense indicates the single act of casting; the presents the repeated, continued sleeping and rising while the seed is growing.

Seed ( τὸν σπόρον )

The seed; that particular seed which he had to sow. Such is the force of the article.

Verse 27

Grow ( μηκύνηται )

Lit., lengthen; be extended by the seed lengthening out into blade and stalk.

He knoweth not how ( ὡς οὐκ οἶδεν αὐτός )

The Greek order is very lively: how knoweth not he.

Verse 28

Of herself ( αὐτομάτη )

Lit., self-acting. It occurs in only one other passage of the New Testament, Acts 12:10; of the city gate which opened to Peter of its own accord.

Verse 29

Is brought forth ( παραδοῖ )

This rendering cannot be correct, for the verb is active, not passive, meaning to deliver up. Hence it is usually explained, shall have delivered itself up to harvest; which is stilted and artificial. Rev. is ripe, is a free rendering from the margin of A.V. It is, perhaps, better to explain, as Meyer does, whose rendering is adopted by Rev. in margin: When the fruit shall have allowed, i.e., shall have admitted of being harvested. Xenophon and Herodotus use the word in the sense of permit or allow; and an exact parallel to this occurs in the historian Polybius (xxii., 24,9): “When the season permitted ( παραδιδούσης ) Putteth in ( ἀποστέλλει )

Lit., sendeth forth. So Rev. in margin. The rendering, putteth in, misses the figure. The verb is the same as that used of sending forth the apostles to reap the harvest of souls. See especially John 4:38: “I sent ( ἀπέστειλα ) you to reap.

Verse 30

Peculiar to Mark.

With what comparison shall we compare it? ( ἐν τίνι αὐτὴν παραβολῇ θῶμεν ;)

Lit., In what parable might we put it? Rev., In what parable shall we set it forth? Note the we, taking the hearers, with a fine tact, into consultation.

Verse 31

When it is sown ( ὅταν σπαρῇ )

This phrase is repeated in Mark 4:32. Here the emphasis is on ὅταν , when. It is small at the time when it is sown. In Mark 4:32 the emphasis is on σπαρῇ , it is sown. It begins to grow great from the time when it is sown.

That are upon the earth

A little detail peculiar to Mark.

Verse 32

Groweth up

Mark only.

Herbs ( τῶν λαχάνων )

Rev., rightly, the herbs; those which people are wont to plant in their gardens. The word denotes garden - or pot-herbs, as distinguished from wild herbs.

Shooteth out great branches ( ποιεῖ κλάδους μεγάλους )

Lit., maketh, etc. Rev., putteth out. Peculiar to Mark. Matthew has becometh a tree. On branches, see note on Matthew 24:32. One of the Talmudists describes the mustard-plant as a tree, of which the wood was sufficient to cover a potter's shed. Another says that he was wont to climb into it as men climb into a fig-tree. Professor Hackett says that on the plain of Akka, toward Carmel, he found a collection of mustard-plants from six to nine feet high, with branches from each side of a trunk an inch or more in thickness. Dr. Thomson relates that near the bank of the Jordan he found a mustard-tree more than twelve feet high.

Lodge ( κατασκηνοῦν )

See on Matthew 8:20. Lit., pitch their tents.

Verse 33


Implying that Mark knew yet more parables that were spoken at that time.

As they were able to hear it

Peculiar to Mark.

Verse 36

Even as he was in the ship

Rev., boat. Just as he was, in the boat in which he was then sitting. Mark adds the detail about the accompanying boats.

Verse 37

Storm ( λαῖλαψ )

So Luke. Distinctively a furious storm or hurricane. Compare Septuagint, Job 21:18. Matthew uses σεισμὸς a shaking. See on Matthew 8:24. Mr. Macgregor (“Rob Roy on the Jordan”) says that “on the sea of Galilee the wind has a singular force and suddenness; and this is no doubt because that sea is so deep in the world that the sun rarefies the air in it enormously, and the wind, speeding swiftly above a long and level plateau, gathers much force as it sweeps through flat deserts, until suddenly it meets this huge gap in the way, and it tumbles down here irresistible.”

Verse 38

A pillow ( τὸ προσκεφάλαιον )

The definite article indicates a well-known part of the boat's equipment - the coarse leathern cushion at the stern for the steersman. The Anglo-Saxon version has bolster.

Verse 39

Peace, be still ( σιώπα, πεφίμωσο )

Lit., be silent! be muzzled! Wyc., rather tamely, wax dumb! How much more vivid than the narratives of either Matthew or Luke is this personification and rebuke of the sea as a raging monster.

Ceased ( ἐκόπασεν )

From κόπος meaning, 1, beating; 2,toil; 3,weariness. A beautiful and picturesque word. The sea sank to rest as if exhausted by its own beating.

There was ( ἐγένετο )

More strictly, there arose or ensued. The aorist tense indicates something immediate. Tynd. has followed.


Wyc., peaceableness.

Verse 41

They feared exceedingly ( ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον μέγαν )

Lit., they feared a great fear.

What manner of man is this? ( τίς ἄρα οὗτός ἐστιν )

The A. V. is rather a rendering of Matthew's ποταπός , what manner of(Matthew 8:27), than of Mark's τίς , who. The Rev. gives it rightly: Who then is this? The then ( ἄρα ) is argumentative. Since these things are so, who then is this


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Mark 4:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, August 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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