What does Mark 4:15 mean?
ESV: And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.
NIV: Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.
NASB: These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.
CSB: Some are like the word sown on the path. When they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them.
NLT: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away.
KJV: And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
NKJV: And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.
Verse Commentary:
In Mark 4:14–20, Jesus explains the spiritual meaning behind the symbolism of the parable of the sower (Mark 4:1–9). As a sower sows seeds, some lands on the hard path and is quickly eaten by birds (Mark 4:4). The birds represent Satan who steals God's truth before it gets a chance to break through the tough shell of hardened hearts. First Peter 5:8 describes Satan as a lion who doesn't just steal truth, he devours lives. Often, those lives are destroyed by lies.

In Genesis 3, Satan deceived Eve into sinning against God, resulting in the human-wide curse of an inherited sin nature. In Mark 8:32–33, Peter bends to Satan's lie that Jesus cannot die, and then tries to prevent Jesus from fulfilling His mission. In our lives, Satan's lies appear in false religions, misinterpretations of God's character, and the belief that we need worldly things more than God's Word.

In the parable of the sower, Satan snatches the gospel away before it can save lives. What could be a harvest of one hundred-times the initial investment remains a hard heart, calloused to God's love. The Pharisees and Herodians display this hard-heartedness (Mark 3:6, 22).

As with the other examples of soils, it's possible for Satan to block God's truth in one area while we accept the message in another. All of us have strengths and weaknesses; we may be very generous with our time and resources (Mark 12:41–44) but still have anxiety about spreading the gospel (Mark 13:11). God desires us to be mature in all areas of our spiritual walk (Matthew 5:48) and has given us the Bible for that purpose (2 Timothy 3:16).
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.
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