Mark 4:3
Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:
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(3) A sower.—Better, the sower.

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.See the parable of the sower explained in the notes at Matthew 13:1-9.

See the parable of the sower explained in the notes at Matthew 13:1-9.

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 [1418]Mr 4:14.

First Case: The Wayside. (Mr 4:4, 15).

Ver. 3-20. See Poole on "Matthew 13:1", and following verses to Matthew 13:23. The parable is recorded both by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and is of excellent use:

1. To show the excellency of the word of God, which is here (as in other places) called the word; it is the seed of God, the good seed: and the excellency of the ordinance of preaching, for that is the seed sown.

2. To show us the different effect of the word preached from moral discourses and philosophical disputes, from which can be expected no fruit; but where the sower soweth the word, there is yet a very different effect. Some bring forth the fruit of faith and holiness, and the abiding fruit of it, though in different degrees. But many, yea the most of those that hear it, either bring forth no fruit, or no abiding fruit, which is indeed no true fruit. The causes of this are, some men’s perfunctory and careless hearing, never regarding to meditate on it, apply it to their own souls, or to hide it in their memories. Others not suffering it to sink into their hearts, and to take root in them, though it may at present a little affect them, and make them matter of discourse. Other men’s thoughts being taken up with business, and the care of this world, and their hearts filled with the love of the things of this life, which they cannot part with when trouble and persecution for the owning and profession of the gospel ariseth.

3. It likewise teacheth us a sure note of unprofitable hearers of the word, as also of those whom the word is likely to profit, and have any good and saving effect upon. The former hear, but never regard whether they understand what they hear, yea or no. The others are not satisfied with hearing unless they understand; for those who went to him to know the parable, were not the twelve only, (who are often called his disciples emphatically), but those others that were about him, to whom it was

given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God.

4. The most of our Saviour’s hearers were doubtless members of the Jewish church, yet our Saviour, Mark 4:11, styles the most of them those that are without; which teacheth us that not only such as are out of the pale of the church, but those also who are out of the degree of election, those to whom it is not given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, are in Christ’s account without. For other things concerning this parable, they are fully spoken to in our notes;

See Poole on "Matthew 13:1", and following verses to Matthew 13:23.

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. {1} Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

(1) The same doctrine of the Gospel is sown everywhere, but it it does not have the same success indeed because of the fault of man, but yet by the just judgment of God.

Mark 4:3. ἀκούετε: bear! listen! a summons to attention natural for one addressing a great crowd from a boat, quite compatible with ἰδού, which introduces the parable (against Weiss in Meyer). The parable is given here essentially as in Mt., with only slight variations: σπεῖραι (Mark 4:3) for σπείρειν; ὃ μὲν (Mark 4:4) for ἃ μεν, ἄλλο (Mark 4:5; Mark 4:7) for ἄλλα. To the statement that the thorns choked the grain (συνέπνιξαν αὐτό), Mk. adds (Mark 4:7) καὶ καρπὸν οὐκ ἔδωκεν, an addition not superfluous in this case, as it would have been in the two previous, because the grain in this case reaches the green ear. To be noted further is the expansion in Mark 4:8, in reference to the seed sown on good soil. Mt. says it yielded fruit (ἐδίδου καρπὸν), Mk. adds ἀναβαίνοντα καὶ αὐξανόμετα, καὶ ἔφερεν, all three phrases referring to ἄλλα at the beginning of the verse. The participles taken along with ἐδίδου καρπὸν distinguish the result in the fourth case from those in the three preceding. The first did not spring up, being picked up by the birds, the second sprang up but did not grow, withered by the heat, the third sprouted and grew up but yielded no (ripe) fruit, choked by thorns (Grotius).—καὶ ἔφερεν introduces a statement as to the quantity of fruit, the degrees being arranged in a climax, 30, 60, 100, instead of in an anti-climax, as in Mt., 100, 60, 30.

3. Hearken] This summons to attention is peculiar to St Mark.

went out] The expression implies that the sower did not sow near his own house, or in a garden fenced or walled, but went forth into the open country. Thomson’s Land and the Book, p. 82.

Mark 4:3. Ἀκούετε, Hearken) A word pronounced in a loud voice, in order to still the noise among the people, lest the beginning itself of His discourse should be lost [Mark especially commends the hearing of the word, Mark 4:24-25; Mark 4:33.—V. g.]

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. Mark 4:3
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