|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1-20 This parable contained instruction so important, that all capable of hearing were bound to attend to it. There are many things we are concerned to know; and if we understand not the plain truths of the gospel, how shall we learn those more difficult! It will help us to value the privileges we enjoy as disciples of Christ, if we seriously consider the deplorable state of all who have not such privileges. In the great field of the church, the word of God is dispensed to all. Of the many that hear the word of the gospel, but few receive it, so as to bring forth fruit. Many are much affected with the word for the present, who yet receive no abiding benefit. The word does not leave abiding impressions upon the minds of men, because their hearts are not duly disposed to receive it. The devil is very busy about careless hearers, as the fowls of the air go about the seed that lies above ground. Many continue in a barren, false profession, and go down to hell. Impressions that are not deep, will not last. Many do not mind heart-work, without which religion is nothing. Others are hindered from profiting by the word of God, by abundance of the world. And those who have but little of the world, may yet be ruined by indulging the body. God expects and requires fruit from those who enjoy the gospel, a temper of mind and Christian graces daily exercised, Christian duties duly performed. Let us look to the Lord, that by his new-creating grace our hearts may become good ground, and that the good seed of the word may produce in our lives those good words and works which are through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God the Father.
Verses 11, 12. - To know the mystery. The Greek verb γνῶναι, to know, is not found in the best manuscripts, in which the words are (ὑμῖν τὸ μυστὴριον δέδοται), unto you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God. Our Lord here explains why he spake to the mixed multitude in parables; namely, because most of them were as yet incapable of receiving the gospel: some would not believe it, others reviled it. Therefore our Lord here encourages his own disciples to search out his words spoken in parables, and humbly to inquire into their full meaning, that so they might become able ministers and efficient preachers of the gospel. Moreover, by this he shows that this efficiency cannot be obtained by our own strength, but must be humbly sought for from God. For it is his own gift which he bestows on the disciples of Christ, and denies to others, whom he leaves to the blindness of their own hearts. It is as though he said, "To you, my disciples, my apostles, it is given, since you believe in me as the Messiah, to have continually more clear revelations from me of the mysteries of God and of heaven, by which you shall day by day increase in the knowledge and love of him. But from the scribes and others, because they will not believe in me as their own Messiah, God will take away even that small knowledge which they have of him and of his kingdom. Yea, he will deprive them of all the special privileges which they have hitherto possessed." But the words are not limited in their application to those who were living on the earth when Christ sojourned here. He says to all in every age who come within the reach of his gospel, "Those who come to me with a sincere heart and a simple desire to know the truth, as you, my apostles, are doing, to them I will reveal the mysteries of my kingdom, and I will help them onwards in the path of holiness, by which they may at length attain to the heavenly kingdom. But they who have not this pure desire of truth, but indulge their own lusts and errors, from them that little knowledge of God and of Divine things will by degrees be taken away, and they will become altogether blind." Observe the expression (ἐκείνοις δὲ τοῖς ἔξω), but unto them that are without. There were then, just as there are now, those who were outside the realm of spiritual things; not caring for, not understanding, not desirous of spiritual truth. Lest at any time they should be converted (μήποτε ἐπιστρέψωσι) - lest haply they should turn again (the verb is active) and their sins should be forgiven them. According to the best reading, τὰ ἁμαρτήματα is omitted; so it runs, and it should be forgiven them. The use of the active verb brings out the sinner's responsibility with respect to his own conversion.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he said unto them,.... His disciples;
unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; or the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, the secrets of the Gospel dispensation, the mysterious doctrines of grace; See Gill on Matthew 13:11,
but unto them that are without; "to strangers", as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it, who were not the disciples of Christ, nor admitted to any intimacy with him; who came only to amuse themselves with the sight of his person and miracles:
all these things are done in parables; are wrapped up in dark sayings, and figurative expressions, the sound of which they heard, and might be pleased with the pretty similes made use of, but understood not the spiritual meaning of them.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
11, 12. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them, &c.—See on Mt 13:10-17.
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