Mark iv.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. If we examine St. Matthew on this point, we shall discover that this discourse was made on the same day as the preceding discourse; for St. Matthew informs us, that having finished this exhortation, he the same day went and taught by the sea. (Ven. Bede)

Ver. 10. When he was alone: in Greek Ote egeneto Katamonas; i.e. when he was retired and alone, either in the house, out of the city, or at a distance from the multitude. (Tirinus)

Ver. 11. Such as are out of the Church, though they both hear and read, they cannot understand. (Ven. Bede, in Chap. iv, Mark.)

Ver. 12. That seeing they may see, &c. In punishment of their wilfully shutting their eyes, (Matthew xiii. 15.) God justly withdrew those lights and graces which otherwise he would have given them, for their effectual conversion. (Challoner) — These speeches here and elsewhere, we are not to understand as if he spoke in parables to this end that the hearers might not understand, lest they should be converted; but we must learn the true sense from the corresponding texts in Matthew xiii, and Acts xxviii, where our Saviour and St. Paul render it thus: with their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their eyes they have shut. lest, perhaps, they may see, and understand, and be converted, and I heal them. Whereby it is evident, that the speaking in parables was not the cause, (for many besides the apostles heard and understood) but themselves, who would not hear and understand, and be converted: and thus they were the real cause of their own wilful and obstinate infidelity. And therefore also he spoke in parables, because they were not worthy to understand, as the others were to whom he expounded them. (Bristow)

Ver. 22. All my parables, doctrines, and actions, which appear now to you so full of mystery, shall not always be so: in due time they shall all be publicly expounded by you, my apostles, and by your successors. (Tirinus)

Ver. 23. And let him learn that he is not to bury in unjust silence the instructions or the examples I give him; but must exercise them for the light and direction of others. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 24. Pay attention then to what you hear this day, that you may retain it, and communicate it to others, your brethren; for as you measure to others, so shall it be meted unto you; yes, more shall be given to you, who receive the word of God, if you be attentive to preserve it yourselves, and to communicate it to your brethren. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 25. They who do not profit by the knowledge of the word of God, shall in punishment of their neglect, lose the advantage which they may seem to have, since it will turn in the end to their greater condemnation: and moreover, by trusting to their own judgment, they interpret the word in a perverse sense, and thus also lose what they seem to have. (Nicholas of Lyra) — Let those who talk so much about Scripture, and interpret it according to their own private spirit or fancy, see lest this also attach to them. (Haydock)

Ver. 26. So it is with him who announces the gospel of the kingdom of God, as with the sower. For whether he sleep or rise, the seed will grow up while he knoweth not; and the well prepared soil will, by the blessing of God, be productive: so the word of God shed abroad in the heart of man, will increase and fructify independently of all the preacher’s solicitude, till he who has received it, being arrived at the measure of the age and fulness of Christ, shall be withdrawn by God from this world, and be called to himself. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 29. When the fruit is brought forth: literally, when the fruit[1] hath produced. By the fruit is here meant the seed; i.e. when the seed by degrees hath produced the blade, then the ear, and lastly the corn, which is become ripe. (Witham) — This is a secondary sense of the text, when the fruit hath come to maturity, and by no means a forced interpretation.

Ver. 33. This seems to contradict what was said [in] ver. 12, that seeing they may not see, [seeing they may see, and not perceive,?] &c.; but we must observe, that parables have more explanations than one, some more easy, whilst others are more difficult to be understood. In parables, the multitude understood the more literal interpretation, whilst Christ explains the more abstruse and hidden sense to his apostles. Hence there is no contradiction in these texts. (Nicholas of Lyra)


[1] Ver. 29. Cum produxerit fructus. In the Greek, fructus is in the nominative case; otan de parado o karpos, &c.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The parable of the sower. Christ stills the tempest at sea.

1 And *he began again to teach by the sea side: and a great multitude was gathered together unto him, so that he went up into a ship, and sat in the sea, and all the multitude was upon the land, by the sea side:

2 And he taught them many things in parables, and said to them in his teaching:

3 Hear ye: Behold a sower went out to sow.

4 And whilst he is sowing, some fell by the way side: and the birds of the air came, and eat it up.

5 And other some fell upon stony ground, where it had not much earth: and it shot up immediately, because it had no depth of earth:

6 And when the sun was risen, it was scorched: and because it had no root, it withered away.

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

8 And some fell upon good ground: and brought forth fruit that grew up, and increased, and yielded, one thirty, another sixty, and another a hundred.

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

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

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

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.

13 And he saith to them: Know you not this parable? how then shall you know all parables?

14 He that soweth, soweth the word.

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

16 And these likewise are they that are sown on the stony ground: who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with joy.

17 And they have no root in themselves, but are only for a time: and then when tribulation and persecution arise on account of the word, they are presently scandalized.

18 And others there are that are sown among thorns: these are they that hear the word,

19 And the cares of the world, *and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts after other things entering in, choak the word, and it is made fruitless.

20 And these are they who are sown upon the good ground, who hear the word, and receive it, and yield fruit, the one thirty, another sixty, and another a hundred.

21 *And he said to them: Doth a candle come in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?

22 *For there is nothing hid, which shall not be made manifest: neither was it made secret, but that it may come abroad.

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

24 And he said to them: Take heed what you hear: *With what measure you shall mete, it shall be measured to you again, and more shall be given to you.

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

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

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

28 For the earth of itself bringeth forth fruit, first the blade, then the ear, afterwards the full corn in the ear:

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

30 And he said: To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? or to what parable shall we compare it?

31 *It is as a grain of mustard-seed, which when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that are in the earth:

32 And when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches, so that the birds of the air may dwell under the shadow thereof.

33 And with many such parables he spoke to them the word, according as they were able to hear.

34 And without parable he did not speak unto them: but apart, he explained all things to his disciples.

35 And he saith to them that day, when evening was come: Let us pass over to the other side.

36 *And sending away the multitude, they take him even as he was in the ship: and there were other ships with him.

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

38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, sleeping upon a pillow; and they awake him, and say to him: Master, doth it not concern thee that we perish?

39 And rising up, he rebuked the wind, and said to the sea: Peace; be still. And the wind ceased; and there was made a great calm.

40 And he said to them: Why are you fearful? have you not faith yet? And they feared exceedingly, and they said one to another: Who is this (thinkest thou) that both wind and sea obey him?



1: about the year A.D. 31.; Matthew xiii. 1, 2.; Luke viii. 4.

12: Isaias vi. 9.; Matthew xiii. 14.; John xii. 40.; Acts xxviii. 26; Romans xi. 8.

19: 1 Timothy vi. 17.

21: Matthew v. 15.; Luke viii. 16. and xi. 33.

22: Matthew x. 26.; Luke viii. 1. 7.

24: Matthew vii. 2.; Luke vi. 38.

25: Matthew xiii. 12. and xxv. 29.; Luke viii. 18. and xix. 26.

31: Matthew xiii. 31.; Luke xiii. 19.

36: Matthew viii. 23.; Luke viii. 22.