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Mark 4:3-4

Context
4:3 “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 1  4:4 And as he sowed, some seed 2  fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.

Mark 4:14-20

Context
4:14 The sower sows the word. 4:15 These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: Whenever they hear, immediately Satan 3  comes and snatches the word 4  that was sown in them. 4:16 These are the ones sown on rocky ground: As soon as they hear the word, they receive it with joy. 4:17 But 5  they have no root in themselves and do not endure. 6  Then, when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately they fall away. 4:18 Others are the ones sown among thorns: They are those who hear the word, 4:19 but 7  worldly cares, the seductiveness of wealth, 8  and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, 9  and it produces nothing. 4:20 But 10  these are the ones sown on good soil: They hear the word and receive it and bear fruit, one thirty times as much, one sixty, and one a hundred.”

1 sn A sower went out to sow. The background for this well-known parable, drawn from a typical scene in the Palestinian countryside, is a field through which a well worn path runs. Sowing would occur in late fall or early winter (October to December) in the rainy season, looking for sprouting in April or May and a June harvest. The use of seed as a figure for God’s giving life has OT roots (Isa 55:10-11). The point of the parable of the sower is to illustrate the various responses to the message of the kingdom of God (cf. 4:11).

2 tn Mark’s version of the parable, like Luke’s (cf. Luke 8:4-8), uses the collective singular to refer to the seed throughout, so singular pronouns have been used consistently throughout this parable in the English translation. However, the parallel account in Matt 13:1-9 begins with plural pronouns in v. 4 but then switches to the collective singular in v. 5 ff.

3 sn Interestingly, the synoptic parallels each use a different word for Satan here: Matt 13:19 has “the evil one,” while Luke 8:12 has “the devil.” This illustrates the fluidity of the gospel tradition in often using synonyms at the same point of the parallel tradition.

4 sn The word of Jesus has the potential to save if it germinates in a person’s heart, something the devil is very much against.

5 tn Grk “And.” Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.

6 tn Grk “are temporary.”

7 tn Grk “and.” Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.

8 tn Grk “the deceitfulness of riches.” Cf. BDAG 99 s.v. ἀπάτη 1, “the seduction which comes from wealth.”

9 sn That is, their concern for spiritual things is crowded out by material things.

10 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.



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