Original Research

Mark 4:1–34: A simple structure for the mystery of the kingdom

Jacob J. Scholtz
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 52, No 1 | a2326 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v52i1.2326 | © 2018 Jacob J. Scholtz | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 October 2017 | Published: 24 April 2018

About the author(s)

Jacob J. Scholtz, Discipline Group Old and New Testament, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


Existing proposals regarding the structure of Mark 4:1–34 have not met with unqualified approval. This article proposes a simple structure for Mark 4:1–34, then highlights relevant presuppositions before providing an overview of the content of this passage. The 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. 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.


Mark 4; parables; mystery; kingdom; chiastic structure


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