Mark 4 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Mark 4)

Verse 2

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

He taught them many things by parables — After the usual manner of the eastern nations, to make his instructions more agreeable to them, and to impress them the more upon attentive hearers. A parable signifies not only a simile or comparison, and sometimes a proverb, but any kind of instructive speech, wherein spiritual things are explained and illustrated by natural, Proverbs 1:6.

To understand a proverb and the interpretation — The proverb is the literal sense, the interpretation is the spiritual resting in the literal sense killeth, but the spiritual giveth life.

Verse 3

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

Hearken — This word he probably spoke with a loud voice, to stop the noise and hurry of the people.

Verse 10

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

When he was alone — That is, retired apart from the multitude.

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:

To them that are without — So the Jews termed the heathens: so our Lord terms all obstinate unbelievers: for they shall not enter into his kingdom: they shall abide in outer darkness.

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.

So that seeing they see and do not perceive — They would not see before now they could not, God having given them up to the blindness which they had chosen.

Verse 13

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

Know ye not this parable? — Which is as it were the foundation of all those that I shall speak hereafter; and is so easy to be understood?

Verse 19

[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.

The desire of other things choke the word — A deep and important truth! The desire of any thing, otherwise than as it leads to happiness in God, directly tends to barrenness of soul.

Entering in — Where they were not before. Let him therefore who has received and retained the word, see that no other desire then enter in, such as perhaps till then he never knew.

It becometh unfruitful — After the fruit had grown almost to perfection.

Verse 21

[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?

And he said, Is a candle — As if he had said, I explain these things to you, I give you this light, not to conceal, but to impart it to others. And if I conceal any thing from you now, it is only that it may be more effectually manifested hereafter. 11:33.

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.

Luke 8:17.

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.

Take heed what ye hear — That is, attend to what you hear, that it may have its due influence upon you.

With what measure you mete — That is, according to the improvement you make of what you have heard, still farther assistance shall be given.

And to you that hear — That is, with improvement.

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.

He that hath — That improves whatever he has received, to the good of others, as well as of his own soul. Luke 8:18.

Verse 26

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

So is the kingdom of God — The inward kingdom is like seed which a man casts into the ground - This a preacher of the Gospel casts into the heart. And he sleeps and rises night and day - That is, he has it continually in his thoughts. Meantime it springs and grows up he knows not how - Even he that sowed it cannot explain how it grows. For as the earth by a curious kind of mechanism, which the greatest philosophers cannot comprehend, does as it were spontaneously bring forth first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear: so the soul, in an inexplicable manner, brings forth, first weak graces, then stronger, then full holiness: and all this of itself, as a machine, whose spring of motion is within itself. Yet observe the amazing exactness of the comparison. The earth brings forth no corn (as the soul no holiness) without both the care and toil of man, and the benign influence of heaven.

Verse 29

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

He putteth in the sickle — God cutteth down and gathereth the corn into his garner.

Verse 30

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

Luke 13:18.

Verse 33

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

He spake the word as they were able to hear it — Adapting it to the capacity of his hearers; and speaking as plain as he could without offending them. A rule never to be forgotten by those who instruct others.

Verse 35

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

Luke 8:22.

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.

They take him as he was in the vessel — They carried him immediately in the same vessel from which he had been preaching to the people.

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?

On the pillow — So we translate it, for want of a proper English expression, for that particular part of the vessel near the rudder, on which he lay.

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.

Peace — Cease thy tossing: Be still - Cease thy roaring; literally, Be thou gagged.