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Bible Commentaries
Mark 4

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

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Verses 1-41

Parable of the Sower. Stilling the Tempest

1-9. Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1; Luke 8:4). See on Mt.

10-20. The parable interpreted (Matthew 13:10; Luke 8:9). See on Mt.

21-25. Further remarks upon teaching by parables (Luke 8:16-18). Omitted by Mt, who introduces these sayings in other connexions, viz. Matthew 5:15; Matthew 7:2; Matthew 10:26, which see.

21. A candle] RV ’the lamp.’ A bushel] RV ’the bushel.’ A bed] RV ’the bed.’ A candlestick] RV ’the stand.’ St. Matthew introduces this saying into the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:15). There it bids the disciples give to the world the light of a good example. Here it bids them enlighten the world by their teaching.

22. For there is nothing hid] ’Our Lord corrects a false impression which might have arisen from the mention of a mystery (Mark 4:11). If the gospel was for a moment treated as a secret, it was so only because this temporary secrecy was essential to its successful proclamation after the Ascension. Those to whom the secret was now confided were charged with the responsibility of publishing it then’ (Swete). See further on Matthew 10:26, where the saying recurs. 23. See on Matthew 11:15.

24. Take heed what ye hear (AV, RV). The context, however, requires that this should be rendered ’Understand (weigh well the meaning of) what ye hear,’ a quite possible rendering. With what measure ye mete] i.e. ’ye measure.’ ’In that measure in which you measure your attention to My teaching, in the same measure will spiritual understanding be measured unto you’ (Euthymius). This proverb occurs in several connexions (Matthew 7:2; Luke 6:38 q.v.).

25. To the diligent student of divine truth more of divine truth shall be revealed. The slothful student shall not only learn no more, but shall even forget what he already knows. In Matthew 13:12; Matthew 25:19, the context being different, these words have a different meaning.

26-29. The seed growing secretly (the only parable peculiar to Mk). Tatian in his ’Diates-saron’ places it immediately before the Tares. Such a position for it is suitable, but it is wrong to regard it, with Weiss, as only an imperfect and mutilated version of that parable.

The point of the parable is not so much the secret invisible energy of the seed, or divine Word, as that of the earth into which the seed falls, i.e. the moral and spiritual nature of man. The seed of Christianity will grow, because the soil into which it will fall is suitable to nourish it. The human soul is ’naturally Christian’ (Tertullian), and Christianity is the ’natural religion.’ Christianity can, therefore, propagate itself without human effort, and often does so.

26. A man] i.e. the apostles and other preachers of the gospel. Cast seed] i.e. preach the gospel by word or example. The ground] i.e. the souls of men.

27. Sleep, and rise] i.e. ministers of the gospel having preached the word are to pursue their ordinary employments without undue anxiety. Visible results may be slow, but the seed is sure to germinate, because the soul of man is specially fitted by God to receive it, and will by its own spiritual activity cause it at last to bear fruit. Christ does not, however, discourage due pastoral care. Though the earth brings forth of herself, ’this does not exclude due cultivation, and rain from heaven, and sunshine’ (Bengel).

28. First the blade, etc.] Therefore missionaries who have no results to show, are not to be discouraged. In India at present, few converts are made, but the seed is being sown, and the time of the harvest will come.

29. The harvest] is an earthly harvest. It is gathered in Christian lands, when a faithful pastor, after long waiting, gathers in a harvest of true penitents and genuine servants of Christ. It is gathered in heathen lands, when the hindrances to the gospel are at last removed, and the people ask for baptism. Many, however, regard ’the harvest’ here as that at the end of the world.

30-32. The grain of mustard seed (Matthew 13:31; Luke 13:18). See on Mt.

33, 34. Matthew 13:34, Matthew 13:35. See on Matthew 13:10-17.

35-41. Stilling the storm (Matthew 8:18, Matthew 8:23-27; Luke 8:22). See on Mt. St. Mark’s graphic details should be noticed—’ the other boats with Him,’ Mark 4:36, and ’the pillow (cushion) in the stern,’ Mark 4:38.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Mark 4". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/mark-4.html. 1909.
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