Chapter 13



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(Mark 4:13-15)  And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? The sower soweth the word [of God].  And these are they by the way side [Gk: road side] [the side of the road], where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan [the fowls, the wicked one, the fowls of the air, the devil] cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts [“lest they should believe and be saved” Luke 8:12].  (Mark 4:16,17)  And these are they likewise which are sown on stony [Gk: rocky] ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness [Gk: cheerfulness, delight: joy]; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended [“and in time of temptation fall away” Luke 8:13].  (Mark 4:18,19)  And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,   And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.  (Mark 4:20)  And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.


(Mark 4:16,17)  And these are they likewise which are sown on stony [Gk: rocky] ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness [Gk: cheerfulness, delight: joy]; And have no root in themselves, and so endure [Jesus] but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended [“and in time of temptation [Gk: testing] fall away Luke 8:13].

1.       offended = Gk: entrapped, i.e. tripped up; fig. stumble or are enticed to sin.

2.       fall away = Gk: to remove [themselves], revolt; to desist, desert:--depart, withdraw self.

Commentary: These unfortunate hard-hearted persons on stony ground are damned forever. This unsavory assessment is most strongly evidenced by their having received the seed of God but that seed has taken “no root” of Jesus Christ (Rev 5:5 & 22:16), i.e., they do not possess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, but have expressed merely a superficial profession of faith, an indicator of the lack of depth of their shallow soil. A second reason for their damnation may be contextually inferred insofar as they only temporarily “endure” as one might with an onerous hardship suddenly placed upon him, and do not lovingly receive and embrace the teachings of Jesus Christ who said “my burden is light.” (Mat 11:30). To “endure but for a time,” brother Luke has it “which for a while believe” (Luke 8:13) and then “fall away” certainly implies no small number of coexisting doubts and second thoughts, thereby producing the vacillating instability of a “double-minded man” (James 1:8). A third reason for their eternal damnation occurs when “affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake.” This is an overt attack upon an already unstable, wavering mind. It is interesting to note here that affliction or persecution may be deemed to arise externally from our unsaved brothers and sisters in the world due to the hardness of their hearts toward the gospel, and, affliction or persecution may also be deemed to arise internally from within ourselves due to the hardness of our own hearts (stony ground demons arising: i.e., false doctrines, evil thoughts). In fact both applications are correct. The biblical text states that the consequences of affliction or persecution for those persons on stony ground who profess belief in a gospel that they never wholeheartedly believed in is, understandably, that they “fall away,” perhaps under extreme duress, or much less duress, but indeed they do desert from belief in the gospel altogether. The rational mind would sensibly say “Why should I suffer for something that I don’t believe anyway?” A fourth reason for their damnation is that these persons are prideful, full of pride. They are fundamentally selfish self-absorbed self-centered self-seeking self-interested persons who are unwilling to give (sacrifice) of themselves to the Lord (Rom 12:1,2), i.e., they are unwilling to obey and serve Him, their Creator. Their unwillingness to change and give of themselves is signified by their hardened hearts of stony ground, which yield no fruit. Brother Luke has it most perfectly as “a rock” (Luke 8:6) and “the rock” (Luke 8:13), wherein “the rock” symbolizes an exceptionally strong character trait that is in essence defensive in nature, as exemplified by the existence of biblical “strong holds” (2 Cor 10:3-5) in our mind, meaning in the original Greek, fortresses or castles made of stones, which both signify and otherwise relate to fallen angels (false doctrines, evil thoughts) quite firmly entrenched in our mind. A rock personality conspicuously resists being “broken,” i.e., humbled by our Lord.  A fifth reason for their damnation is that these persons are undeniably “condemned already” (John 3:18) by God, from the foundation of the world, to eternal damnation by His use of the connecting word “likewise” which links and binds together the “stony ground” hard-hearted unbelieving persons with the immediately previous “by the way side” indifferent unbelieving persons “in bundles to burn them.” (Mat 13:30).

Matthew Henry’s Commentary On The Whole Bible: The stony ground., which represents the case of the hearers that go further than the former, who receive some good impressions of the word, but they are not lasting. Note, It is possible we may be a great deal better than others, and yet not be so good as we should be; may go beyond our neighbors, and yet come short of heaven. Now observe, concerning these hearers that are represented by the stony ground:

First, How far they went. 1. They hear the word; they turn neither their backs upon it, nor a deaf ear to it. Note, hearing the word, though ever so frequently, ever so gravely, if we rest in that, will never bring us to heaven. 2. they are quick in hearing, swift to hear, he anon receiveth it, he is ready to receive it, forthwith it sprung up, it sooner appeared above ground than that which was sown in the good soil. Note, Hypocrites often get the start of true Christians in the shows of profession, and are often too hot to hold. He receiveth it straightway, without trying it; swallows it without chewing, and then there can never be a good digestion. Those are most likely to hold fast that which is good, that prove all things, (1 Thess 5:21). 3. They receive it with joy. Note, There are many that are very glad to hear a good sermon, that yet do not profit by it; they may be pleased with the word, and yet not changed and ruled by it; the heart may melt under the word, and yet not be melted down by the word, much less into it, as into a mould. Many taste the good word of God (Heb 6:5), and say they find sweetness in it, but some beloved lust is rolled under the tongue, which it would not agree with, and so they spit it out again. 4. They endure for awhile, like a violent motion, which continues as long as the impression of the force remains, but ceases when that has spent itself. Note, Many endure for awhile, that do not endure to the end, and so come short of the happiness which is promised to them only that persevere (Mat 10:22); they did run well, but something hindered them, (Gal 5:7).

Secondly, How they fell away, so that no fruit was brought to perfection; no more than the corn, that having no depth of earth from which to draw moisture, is scorched and withered by the heat of the sun. And the reason is, 1. They have no root in themselves, no settled fixed principles in their judgments, no firm resolution in their wills, nor any rooted habits in their affections: nothing firm that will be either the sap or the strength of their profession. Note, It is possible there may be the green blade of a profession, where yet there is not the root of grace; hardness prevails in the heart, and what there is of soil and softness is only in the surface; inwardly they are no more affected than a stone; they have no root, they are not by faith united to Christ who is our Root; they derive not from him, they depend not on him. (2.) Where there is not a principle, though there be a profession, we cannot expect perseverance. Those who have no root will endure but for awhile. A ship without ballast, though she may at first out-sail the laden vessel, yet will certainly fail in stress of weather, and never make her port. 2. Times of trial come, and they come to nothing. When tribulation and persecution arise because of the word, he is offended; it is a stumbling block in his way which he cannot get over, and so he flies off, and this is all his profession comes to. Note, (1.) After a fair gale of opportunity usually follows a storm of persecution, to try who have received the word in sincerity, and who have not. When the word of Christ’s kingdom comes to be the word of Christ’s patience (Rev 3:10), then is the trial, who keeps it, and who does not, (Rev 1:9). It is wisdom to prepare for such a day. (2.) When trying times come, those who have no root are soon offended; they first quarrel with their profession, and then quit it; first find fault with it, and then throw it off. Hence we read of the offence of the cross, (Gal 5:11). Observe, Persecution is represented in the parable by the scorching sun (Mat 13:6); the same sun which warms and cherishes that which was well rooted, withers and burns up that which wanted root. As the word of Christ, so the cross of Christ, is to some a savour of life unto life, to others a savour of death unto death (2 Cor 2:16): the same tribulation which drives some to apostasy and ruin, works for others a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Cor 4:17). Trials which shake some, confirm others, (Phil 1:12). Observe how soon they fall away, by and by; as soon rotten as they were ripe; a profession taken up without consideration is commonly let fall without it: “Lightly come, lightly go.”


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