|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 3-8. - Hearken (Ακούετε). This word is introduced in St. Mark's narrative only; and it is very suitable to the warning at ver. 9, "he hath ears to hear, let him hear. The sower went forth to sow. The scope of this beautiful parable is this: Christ teaches us that he is the Sower, that is, the great Preacher of the gospel among men.
1. But not all who hear the gospel believe it and receive it; just as some of the seed sown fell by the wayside, on the hard footpath, where it could not penetrate the ground, but lay upon the surface, and so was picked up by the birds.
2. Again, not all who hear and believe persevere in the faith; some fall away; like the seed sown on rocky ground, which springs up indeed, but for want of depth of soil puts forth no root, and is soon scorched by the rising sun, and, being without root, withers away.
3. But further, not all who show faith bring forth the fruit of good works; like the seed sown among the thorns, which, growing up together with it, choked it (συνέπνιξαν αὐτὸ); such is the meaning. St. Luke has the words (συμφυεῖσαι αἱ ἄκανθαι ἀπέπνιξαν), "the thorns grew up with it and choked it."
4. But, lastly, there are those who receive the gospel in the love of it, and bring forth fruit, not, however, in equal measures, but some thirtyfold, some sixty, some a hundred; and this on account of the greater influences of grace, or on account of the more ready co-operation of the free-will of man with the sovereign grace of God. The whole parable marks a gradation. In the first case the seed produces nothing; in the second it produces only the blade; in the third it is near the point of producing fruit, but fails to bring forth to perfection; in the fourth it yields fruit, but in different measures.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Hearken, behold, there went out a sower to sow. By whom is meant Jesus Christ, who came forth from God as a teacher, and went out into the land of Judea to preach the Gospel, which is sowing spiritual things among men; and this may be also applicable to any faithful minister of the word.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Mr 4:3, 14. The Sower, the Seed, and the Soil.
3. Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow—What means this? See on Mr 4:14.
First Case: The Wayside. (Mr 4:4, 15).
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