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Mark 4:10-12

Context
The Purpose of Parables

4:10 When he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 4:11 He said to them, “The secret 1  of the kingdom of God has been given 2  to you. But to those outside, everything is in parables,

4:12 so that although they look they may look but not see,

and although they hear they may hear but not understand,

so they may not repent and be forgiven. 3 

1 tn Grk “the mystery.”

sn The key term secret (μυστήριον, musthrion) can mean either (1) a new revelation or (2) a revealing interpretation of existing revelation as in Dan 2:17-23, 27-30. Jesus seems to be explaining how current events develop old promises, since the NT consistently links the events of Jesus’ ministry and message with old promises (Rom 1:1-4; Heb 1:1-2). The traditional translation of this word, “mystery,” is misleading to the modern English reader because it suggests a secret which people have tried to uncover but which they have failed to understand (L&N 28.77).

2 tn This is an example of a “divine passive,” with God understood to be the source of the revelation (see ExSyn 437-38).

3 sn A quotation from Isa 6:9-10. Thus parables both conceal or reveal depending on whether one is open to hearing what they teach.



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