Mark 4:28
For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
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(28) The earth bringeth forth fruit of herself.—Stress is laid on the spontaneity of growth; and the lesson drawn from it is obviously one at once of patience and of faith. It is not well in the spiritual husbandry, either of the nations of the world or of individual souls, to be taking up the seeds to see whether they are growing. It is wiser to sow the seed, and to believe that sun and rain will quicken it. Thus, the words find an interesting parallel, like, and yet different, in the precept of Ecclesiastes 11:6, “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand.”

First the blade, then the ear.—Following the same lines as before, we have (1) three stages in the growth of the Church of Christ in the field of the world, and (2) three like stages representing the influence of the new truth on thoughts, purposes, acts, in the individual soul.

4:21-34 These declarations were intended to call the attention of the disciples to the word of Christ. By his thus instructing them, they were made able to instruct others; as candles are lighted, not to be covered, but to be placed on a candlestick, that they may give light to a room. This parable of the good seed, shows the manner in which the kingdom of God makes progress in the world. Let but the word of Christ have the place it ought to have in a soul, and it will show itself in a good conversation. It grows gradually: first the blade; then the ear; after that the full corn in the ear. When it is sprung up, it will go forward. The work of grace in the soul is, at first, but the day of small things; yet it has mighty products even now, while it is in its growth; but what will there be when it is perfected in heaven!For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself - That is, it is done without the power of man. It is done while man is engaged in other things. The scope of this passage does not require us to suppose that our Saviour meant to say that the earth had any productive power of itself, but only that it produced its fruits not by the "power of man." God gives it its power. It has no power of its own. So religion in the heart is not by the power of man. It grows he cannot tell how, and of course he cannot without divine aid, control it. It is by the power of God. At the same time, as without industry man would have no harvest, so without active effort he would have no religion. Both are connected with his effort; both are to be measured commonly by his effort Philippians 2:12; both grow he cannot tell how; both increase when the proper means are used, and both depend on God for increase.

First the blade - The green, tender shoot, that first starts out of the earth before the stalk is formed.

Then the ear - The original means the stalk or spire of wheat or barley, as well as the ear.

The full corn - The ripe wheat. The grain swollen to its proper size. By this is denoted, undoubtedly, that grace or religion in the heart is of gradual growth. It is at first tender, feeble, perhaps almost imperceptible, like the first shootings of the grain in the earth. Perhaps also, like grain, it often lies long in the earth before there are signs of life. Like the tender grain, also, it needs care, kindness, and culture. A frost, a cold storm, or a burning sun alike injure it. So tender piety in the heart needs care, kindness, culture. It needs shelter from the frosts and storms of a cold, unfeeling world. It needs the genial dews and mild suns of heaven; in other words, it needs instruction, prayer, and friendly counsel from parents, teachers, ministers, and experienced Christians, that it may grow, and bring forth the full fruits of holiness. Like the grain, also, in due time it will grow strong; it will produce its appropriate fruit - a full and rich harvest - to the praise of God.

28. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear—beautiful allusion to the succession of similar stages, though not definitely marked periods, in the Christian life, and generally in the kingdom of God.Ver. 28. See Poole on "Mark 4:26"

For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself,.... Without any further help, or cultivation from the husbandman; though under the influence of the sun, dews, and showers of rain from heaven: this is said, not to denote that man of himself, upon hearing the word, can bring forth the fruit of grace in himself; he cannot regenerate himself, nor quicken, nor convert himself; he cannot believe in Christ, nor love the Lord of himself; nor repent of his sin, nor begin, or carry on the good work; he can neither sanctify his heart, nor mortify the deeds of the body; or even bring forth the fruits of good works, when converted. For all these things are owing to the Spirit, power, and grace of God: men are regenerated according to the abundant mercy of God, of water and of the Spirit, by the word of truth, through the sovereign will and pleasure of God; and they are quickened, who before were dead in trespasses and sins, and were as dry bones, by the Spirit of God breathing upon them: conversion in the first production, is the Lord's work; "turn thou me, and I shall be turned": faith in Christ is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; and so is repentance unto life; love is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and in short, the whole work of grace is not by might, nor by power of man, but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts; who begins and carries on, and performs it until the day of Christ: the work of sanctification, is therefore called the sanctification of the Spirit; and it is through him the deeds of the body are mortified: and indeed, without Christ, believers themselves can do nothing at all; even cannot perform good works, or do any action that is truly and spiritually good. But the design is to show, that as the earth without human power, without the husbandman, under the influence of the heavens, brings forth fruit; so without human power, without the Gospel minister, the word having taken root under divine influence, through the sun of righteousness, the dews of divine grace, and operations of the blessed Spirit, it rises up and brings forth fruit:

first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear; which, as it very aptly describes the progress of the seed from first to last; so it very beautifully represents the gradual increase of the work of grace, under the instrumentality of the word, accompanied with the Spirit and power of God. Grace at first appearance is very small, like the small green spire, when it first shoots out of the earth: light into a man's self, his heart, his state and condition, in the knowledge of Christ, and the doctrines of the Gospel, is but very small; he is one of little faith, and weak in the exercise of it: faith is but at first a small glimmering view of Christ, a venture upon him, a peradventure there may be life and salvation for such an one in him; it comes at length to a reliance and leaning upon him; and it is some time before the soul can walk alone by faith on him: its experience of the love of God is but small, but in process of time there is a growth and an increase; light increases, which shines more and more unto the perfect day; faith grows stronger and stronger; experience of the love of God is enlarged; and the believer wades in these waters of the sanctuary; not only as at first up to the ankles, but to the knees and loins; when at length they are a broad river to swim in, and which cannot be passed over.

For the earth bringeth forth fruit {i} of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

(i) By a certain power which moves itself.

Mark 4:28. αὐτομάτη (αὐτός and μέμαα from absolute μάω, to desire eagerly), self-moved, spontaneously, without external aid, and also beyond external control; with a way and will, so to speak, of its own that must be respected and waited for. Classical examples in Wetstein, Kypke, Raphel, etc.—καρποφορεῖ, beareth fruit, intransitive. The following nouns, χόρτον, στάχυν, are not the object of the verb, but in apposition with καρπὸν (καρπὸν φέρει) or governed by φέρει, understood (φέρει, quod ex καρποφορεῖ petendum, Fritzsche).—πλήρης σῖτος, this change to the nominative (the reading of [27] [28]) is a tribute to the importance of the final stage towards which the stages of blade and ear are but preparatory steps = then is the full ear. Full = ripe, perfect, hence the combination of the two words in such phrases as πλήρη καὶ τέλεια τἀγαθὰ quoted by Kypke from Philo. The specification of the three stages shows that gradual growth is the point of the parable (Schanz).

[27] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[28] Codex Bezae

28. of herself] = of its own accord, spontaneously. It is used of the gate of St Peter’s prison opening of its own accord in Acts 12:10.

first the blade] There is a law of orderly development in natural growth, so also is it in reference to spiritual growth; comp. 1 John 2:12-14.

after that the full corn] or rather, then (there is) full corn in the ear.

Mark 4:28. Αὐτομάτη, of its own accord) This is not to the exclusion of cultivation of the land, the rain from heaven, and the sun’s beams. [But there is also intimated a freedom of increasing and growing, either in good or evil, granted by the Lord of the land to the man.—V. g.]—χόρτον, the blade) the grass-like young shoot; so in the commencement spiritual virtues [graces] are scarcely to be distinguished from natural ones.—εἶτα, then next) Marvellous is the process of the successive increase: this shall hereafter be made manifest.

Mark 4:28Of herself (αὐτομάτη)

Lit., self-acting. It occurs in only one other passage of the New Testament, Acts 12:10; of the city gate which opened to Peter of its own accord.

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