Mark 4:30
And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?
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(30) With what comparison shall we compare it?—Literally, By what parable shall we set it forth? The question which introduces the parable is in St. Mark and St. Luke, but not in St. Matthew. It gives us the impression of a question asked, in order to put the minds of the hearers on the stretch, so that they might welcome the answer.

Mark 4:30-34. Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God, &c. — See notes on Matthew 13:31-32. He spake the word unto them as they were able to hear it — Adapting it to the capacity of his hearers, and speaking as plainly as he could without offending them. A rule never to be forgotten by those who instruct others. But without a parable, &c. — See note on Matthew 13:34-35.

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!Whereunto shall we liken ... - This shows the great solicitude which Jesus had to adapt his instructions to the capacity of his disciples. He sought out the most plain and striking illustrations - an example which should be followed by all the ministers of the gospel. At the same time that the instructions of the pulpit should be dignified as our Saviour's always were they should be adapted to the capacity of the audience and easily understood. To do this the following things are necessary in a minister:

1."Humility." A freedom from a desire to shine, and to astonish the world by the splendor of his talents, and by his learning and eloquence.

2. "Good sense." A satisfaction in being understood.

3. Acquaintance with the habits of thought and manner of speaking among the people. To do this, frequent contact with them is necessary.

4. "A good sound education." It is the people of ignorance, with some smattering of learning, and with a desire to confound and astonish people by the use of unintelligible words. and by the introduction of matter that is wholly unconnected with the subject, that most often shoot over the heads of the people. Preachers of humility, good sense, and education are content with being understood, and free from the affectation of saying things to amaze and confound their auditors.

The kingdom of God - See the notes at Matthew 3:2.

29. But when the fruit is brought forth—to maturity

immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come—This charmingly points to the transition from the earthly to the heavenly condition of the Christian and the Church.

Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mr 4:30-32).

For the exposition of this portion, see on [1432]Mt 13:31, 32.

Ver. 30-32. We met with this parable in Matthew 13:31,32, where the reader will find we have given the sense of it. It is a prophetical parable, foretelling the great success that the gospel, which at this time was restrained to a little corner of the world, and there met with small acceptance, should have after Christ’s resurrection from the dead; which prophecy we find was fulfilled in the apostles’ time, and hath been further fulfilling in all ages of the world since that time.

And he said,.... Still continuing his discourse on this subject, and in order to convey to the minds of his disciples clearer ideas of the Gospel dispensation, the success of the Gospel, and the usefulness of their ministration of it, for their encouragement, how unpromising soever things might then be:

whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God, or with what comparison shall we compare it? It was usual with the Jewish doctors, when about to illustrate anything in a parabolical way to begin with such like questions; as, , "to what is this thing like" (d)? when the answer is to such or such thing, as here.

(d) T. Hieros. Bava Bathra, fol. 16. 2. T. Bab. Zebachim, fol. 82. 1. & Sabbat, fol. 108. 1. & passim.

And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?
Mark 4:30-32. See on Matthew 13:31 f. Comp. Luke 13:17 f.

πῶς] how are we to bring the Messianic kingdom into comparison?

ἢ ἐν τίνι αὐτ. παραβολῇ θῶμεν (see the critical remarks): or in what parable are we to place it, set it forth? The expression inclusive of others (we) is in keeping with the deliberative form of discourse. The hearers are formally taken into the consultation. The deviation from the normal order of the words places the principal emphasis on τίνι.

ὡς κόκκῳ σιν.] ὡς is correlative to the πῶς of Mark 4:30 : so as it is likened to a grain of mustard seed.

The following[89] is not a parable in the stricter sense (not a history), but a comparison generally, the representation of the idea, borrowed from the region of sense. Comp. Mark 3:23, Mark 7:17. See on Matthew 13:3.

Observe the twofold ὅταν σπαρῇ, Mark 4:31-32. In the first the emphasis is on ὅταν, in the second on σπαρῇ. “Exacte definit tempus illud, quum granum desinit esse parvum et incipit fieri magnum,” Bengel.

[89] From the collection of Logia, and in a shape more original than Matthew and Luke, who add the historical form. Mark would least of all have divested it of this, if he had found it in existence. Comp. (in opposition to Holtzmann) Weiss in the Jahrb. f. D. Theol. 1864, p. 93.

Mark 4:30-32. The Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32, Luke 13:18-19).

30–34. The Parable of the Mustard Seed

30. Whereunto shall we liken] This method of asking a question before beginning a discourse was not unknown to the Rabbis. See the parallel in Luke 13:18.

Mark 4:30. Τίνι ὁμοιώσωμεν, whereunto shall we liken) The plural; comp. John 3:11.

Verses 30-32. - Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it! In the first clause of this verse the best authorities give πῶς for τίνι, How shall we liken the kingdom of God? and in the second clause, instead of the Greek of which the Authorized Version is the rendering, the best-approved reading is (τίνι αὐτὴν παραβολῇ θῶμεν), in what parable shall we set it forth? Our Lord thus stimulates the intellect of his hearers, by making them his associates, as it were, in the search for appropriate similitudes (see Dr. Morison, in loc.). The kingdom of God, that is, his Church on earth, is like a grain of mustard seed. By this image our Lord shows the great power, fertility, and extension of the Church; inasmuch as it started from a very small and apparently insignificant beginning, and spread itself over the whole world. It is not literally and absolutely true that the grain of mustard seed is less than all seeds. There are other seeds which are less than it. But the expression may readily be allowed when we compare the smallness of the seed with the greatness of the results produced by it. It is one of the least of all seeds. And so the preaching of the Gospel and the establishment of the Church was one of the smallest of beginnings. Perhaps the well-known pungency of the seed of the mustard plant may suggest the quickening, stimulating power of the Gospel when it takes root in the heart. The mustard plant shoots out large branches, which are used as fuel in some countries, quite large enough for shadow for the birds. A traveler in South America says that it grows to so large a tree upon the slopes of the mountains of Chili that he could ride under its branches. Mark 4:30Peculiar to Mark.

With what comparison shall we compare it? (ἐν τίνι αὐτὴν παραβολῇ θῶμεν;)

Lit., In what parable might we put it? Rev., In what parable shall we set it forth ? Note the we, taking the hearers, with a fine tact, into consultation.

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