Mark 4:1–34: A Simple Structure for the Mystery of the Kingdom

When discussing the mysteries of the kingdom, the parables of Matthew 13 receive all the attention, neatly outlined and structured, only to be appended by a unique Markan parable (4:26–29) that sticks out like a sore thumb. However, Mark 4:1–34 is not only structured, it also contains an integrated set of parables that collectively describes the mystery of the kingdom of God.

The article available via the link below focuses on three things: First, after discussing two existing proposals, the first purpose of this article is to submit a simple chiastic structure for Mark 4:1–34. The proposed chiastic structure elevates the parable of the lamp to a prominent position and it also pairs corresponding sections so that it becomes easier to identify the mystery that undergirds each of these parables. Second, presuppositions that influence an understanding of this passage are highlighted, specifically those relating to mysteries and the kingdom of God. Third, an overview of the teaching of Mark 4:1–34 is provided.

The collective message of Mark 4:1–34 may be that while the establishment of the Messianic kingdom has been postponed, God is sowing the word, not only in Israel, but all over the world. When the sowing of the word meets with a responsive ear and heart, God gives the believer the mystery of the kingdom and, viewed collectively, God will also bring a harvest of sons and daughters into the kingdom when it is established. It is important for all to hear, not only so that the hearers become believers and then to bear some fruit, but also because God will graciously bless to the extent that a person listens effectively. It is in this context that the parable of the lamp shines new light on Mark’s parabolic discourse.

Read the article here.