What does Mark 4:11 mean?
ESV: And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables,
NIV: He told them, 'The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables
NASB: And He was saying to them, 'To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but for those who are outside, everything comes in parables,
CSB: He answered them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those outside, everything comes in parables
NLT: He replied, 'You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders,
KJV: And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:
Verse Commentary:
"The kingdom of God" does not mean being saved and going to heaven, although that is part of it. It means any situation on heaven or earth that reflects God's power, sovereignty, and holiness. Jesus is willing to give the twelve and the other disciples special understanding of how God is working at that moment.

"Secret" is from the Greek root word musterion, from which we get "mystery." It refers to something hidden, and not readily available to the public. It is only discovered and understood through divine revelation; in this case, Jesus providing an explanation. Daniel and Joseph experienced the mystery when they deciphered prophetic dreams; Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh's dreams couldn't be interpreted through stars or a standard book of symbolism. Daniel (Daniel 2:18–19, 27–30, 47) and Joseph (Genesis 41:1–36) only understood dreams because God revealed what they meant. In our case, the secrets are revealed through the Bible which is a recording of several revelations.

It may seem unfair that the disciples receive the mystery where the others don't, but the parable of the sower explains why they have access to more information. They are the "good soil" that readily accepts the seed and nurtures it to germination, "yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold" (Mark 4:8). In other words, they choose to stay and ask for clarification. They are the people Jesus will describe in Mark 4:24–25 who bring a large "measure" because they want to understand many things. Jesus honors their heart by granting them their wishes. They stand in contrast to the Pharisees and Herodians who seek to destroy Jesus (Mark 3:6), the crowd who wants to use Him (Mark 3:7–10), and Jesus' brothers who wish to hide Him (Mark 3:21, 31).

Jesus says that the crowd receives everything in parables. This includes Jesus' actions as well as His verbal teaching—even Jesus physical miracles have a deeper meaning than what's seen on the surface. All of Jesus' ministry is hidden from those who don't dig deeper. This doesn't make God's truth hidden, or mystical, or even complicated—it just requires that a person care enough to actually pay attention and be willing to learn. Anyone can do that, if they have the desire. The biggest parable of all may be that He did not come to save the Jews from the Romans, but to save everyone from sin.
Verse Context:
Mark 4:10–20 follows Jesus' telling of the parable of the sower, and now and the disciples would like to understand the deeper truths in the story. Jesus made a habit of explaining parables to those who wanted to know more than the general crowd. The fact that they are curious proves that they are the good soil that will produce much fruit. Jesus explains how the growth of the seeds represent why people react differently to His message (Mark 3). The subsequent parables will go deeper into what it will take for the gospel to spread successfully. You can also find this account in Matthew 13:10–23 and Luke 8:9–15.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus speaks in parables to the assembled crowd, giving them an opportunity to decide how much spiritual truth they want to absorb. The disciples, wanting to learn more, ask Jesus to explain the meaning of the parables He has taught. As Jesus explains these ideas, He demonstrates that a person's spiritual knowledge is based on their willingness to pursue truth. After describing Jesus' teaching in some detail, the Gospel of Mark describes how Jesus calms a storm on the Sea of Galilee.
Chapter Context:
Mark 3 explores the different ways people react to Jesus' teaching and miracles. They either follow Him, use Him, hide Him, or destroy Him. In Mark 4, Jesus explains why people react the way they do. He uses parables to explain who is serious about learning from Him. The softer a person's heart is, the more truth God will reveal. Soon, the twelve will also spread Jesus' message, although they will not be responsible for the spiritual growth of those who believe. The following chapter returns to depicting Jesus' miracles, including two of His most famous.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
Accessed 4/13/2024 9:13:08 AM
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