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Mark 4:28

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

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 Philemon 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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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!
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Bringeth forth - of herself - Αυτοματη . By its own energy, without either the influence or industry of man. Similar to this is the expression of the poet: -

Namque aliae, Nullis Homlnum Cogentibus, ipsae

Sponte Sua veniunt.

Virg. Geor. l. ii. v. 10

"Some (trees) grow of their own accord, without the labor of man."

All the endlessly varied herbage of the field is produced in this way.

The full corn - Πληρη σιτον, Full wheat; the perfect, full-grown, or ripe corn. Lucian uses κενος καρπος, Empty fruit, for imperfect, or unripe fruit. See Kypke.

The kingdom of God, which is generated in the soul by the word of life, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, is first very small; there is only a blade, but this is full of promise, for a good blade shows there is a good seed at bottom, and that the soil in which it is sown is good also. Then the ear - the strong stalk grows up, and the ear is formed at the top; the faith and love of the believing soul increase abundantly; it is justified freely through the redemption that is in Christ; it has the ear which is shortly to be filled with the ripe grain, the outlines of the whole image of God. Then the full corn. The soul is purified from all unrighteousness; and, having escaped the corruption that is in the world, it is made a partaker of the Divine nature, and is filled with all the fullness of God.

Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 945

Simplicity and plain utterance are comprehended by the illiterate, by the peasant, and the child as well as by the full-grown man or the giant in intellect. If the individual is possessed of large talents of mental powers, he will find in the Oracles of God treasures of truth, beautiful and valuable, which he can appropriate. He will also find difficulties, and secrets and wonders which will give him the highest satisfaction to study during a long lifetime, and yet there is an infinity beyond. 7BC 945.1

Men of humble acquirements, possessing but limited capabilities and opportunities to become conversant in the Scriptures, find in the Living Oracles comfort, guidance, counsel, and the plan of salvation as clear as a sunbeam. No one need be lost for want of knowledge unless he is willfully blind. 7BC 945.2

We thank God that the Bible is prepared for the poor man as well as for the learned man. It is fitted for all ages and all classes (Manuscript 16, 1888). 7BC 945.3

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 367

If men today were simple in their habits, living in harmony with nature's laws, as did Adam and Eve in the beginning, there would be an abundant supply for the needs of the human family. There would be fewer imaginary wants, and more opportunities to work in God's ways. But selfishness and the indulgence of unnatural taste have brought sin and misery into the world, from excess on the one hand, and from want on the other. DA 367.1

Jesus did not seek to attract the people to Him by gratifying the desire for luxury. To that great throng, weary and hungry after the long, exciting day, the simple fare was an assurance not only of His power, but of His tender care for them in the common needs of life. The Saviour has not promised His followers the luxuries of the world; their fare may be plain, and even scanty; their lot may be shut in by poverty; but His word is pledged that their need shall be supplied, and He has promised that which is far better than worldly good,—the abiding comfort of His own presence. DA 367.2

In feeding the five thousand, Jesus lifts the veil from the world of nature, and reveals the power that is constantly exercised for our good. In the production of earth's harvests God is working a miracle every day. Through natural agencies the same work is accomplished that was wrought in the feeding of the multitude. Men prepare the soil and sow the seed, but it is the life from God that causes the seed to germinate. It is God's rain and air and sunshine that cause it to put forth, “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Mark 4:28. It is God who is every day feeding millions from earth's harvest fields. Men are called upon to co-operate with God in the care of the grain and the preparation of the loaf, and because of this they lose sight of the divine agency. They do not give God the glory due unto His holy name. The working of His power is ascribed to natural causes or to human instrumentality. Man is glorified in place of God, and His gracious gifts are perverted to selfish uses, and made a curse instead of a blessing. God is seeking to change all this. He desires that our dull senses shall be quickened to discern His merciful kindness and to glorify Him for the working of His power. He desires us to recognize Him in His gifts, that they may be, as He intended, a blessing to us. It was to accomplish this purpose that the miracles of Christ were performed. DA 367.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 327

God's laws for nature are obeyed by nature. Cloud and storm, sunshine and shower, dew and rain, all are under the supervision of God and yield obedience to His command. In obedience to the law of God the spire of grain bursts through the earth, “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” Mark 4:28. The fruit is first seen in the bud, and the Lord develops it in its proper season because it does not resist His working. So the birds fulfill God's purpose as they make their long migrations from land to land, guided through trackless space by the hand of infinite power. 8T 327.1

Can it be that man, made in the image of God, endowed with reason and speech, shall alone be unappreciative of His gifts and disobedient to His laws? Will those who might be elevated and ennobled, fitted to be colaborers with Him, be content to remain imperfect in character and to cause confusion in our world? Shall the bodies and souls of God's purchased inheritance be hampered with world-bound habits and unholy practices? Shall they not reflect the beauty of Him who has done all things well, that through His grace imperfect man might hear at last His benediction: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: ...enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”? Matthew 25:21. 8T 327.2

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Ellen G. White
Steps to Christ, 67

The change of heart by which we become children of God is in the Bible spoken of as birth. Again, it is compared to the germination of the good seed sown by the husbandman. In like manner those who are just converted to Christ are, “as new-born babes,” to “grow up” to the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. 1 Peter 2:2; Ephesians 4:15. Or like the good seed sown in the field, they are to grow up and bring forth fruit. Isaiah says that they shall “be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3. So from natural life, illustrations are drawn, to help us better to understand the mysterious truths of spiritual life. SC 67.1

Not all the wisdom and skill of man can produce life in the smallest object in nature. It is only through the life which God Himself has imparted, that either plant or animal can live. So it is only through the life from God that spiritual life is begotten in the hearts of men. Unless a man is “born from above,” he cannot become a partaker of the life which Christ came to give. John 3:3, margin. SC 67.2

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