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Faithlife

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憑著信心撒種

RCUV30 耶穌又說:「我們可用甚麼來比擬上帝的國呢?可用甚麼比喻來說明呢? 31 它像一粒芥菜種,種在地裏的時候,雖比地上所有的種子都小, 32 但種下去以後,它長起來,比各樣的菜都大,又長出大枝,以致天上的飛鳥可以在它的蔭下築巢。」

釋經三

4:30 可用甚麼來比擬上帝的國

This second parable is brought in with two deliberative subjunctive questions ὁμοιώσωμεν “compare” and θῶμενc “explaine”, hinting that, just like the preceding one, this parable is also a similitude for further elucidation of “kingdom of God”. The use of these two double questions is obviously rhetorical that does not require answer. It functions as an arousing teaser to tell the audiences that there is more to teach on the topic of kingdom of God. Therefore, one should pay attention to what is following, which is of value for helping them to comprehend the teaching of Jesus.The use of ὁμοιώσωμεν “compare” is clearly an indication that the similitude used in the following allegory is in the form of comparison with two objects “seed of mustard” and “kingdom of God”. In other words, the purpose of this comparison is for explanation by focusing of the difference or similarity found in the allegory, which is crucial for understanding. However, the comparison using mustard seed and its change of form is clearly an illustration of the kingdom of God.

4:31 它像一粒芥菜種,種在地裏的時候,雖比地上所有的種子都小

The analogy started by adverbial comparative conjunctional clause introducing the object of comparison κόκκῳ σινάπεως. It’s dative case of reference can be considered as the dative object of the verb in the preceding verse ὁμοιώσωμεν. Mark adds the temporal and locative marker phrase ὃς ὅταν σπαρῇ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς with the comparative adjective used for superlative μικρότερον to identify the beginning status of the seed of mustard. However, Wallace has a different suggestion for the comparative adjective μικρότερον. His observation of the use of the genitive of comparison in the genitive group πάντων τῶν σπερμάτων “than all the seeds”, he reckons that the comparative adjective μικρότερον could possibly be interpreted as a comparative for elative. In fact, the mustard seed was not the smallest seed. Secular would argue on the scientific description of the allegory here, but what Jesus concerns was the popular object that his audiences could easily understand. The alternative interpretation that offered by Wallace here may function well to reconcile the argument. Nevertheless, whichever interpretation is taken, the focus of the parable here is about the insignificant beginning of God’s kingdom. Jesus did not mean to legitimately convey botanic knowledges. His purpose is clear that to bring the audience into the focus of contrast. The kingdom is not like the mustard seed but to what is going to happens to the mustard seed being sown. Which is about the process of God’s work.

4:32a 但種下去以後,它長起來,比各樣的菜都大

Two sequential happenings are illustrated here, γίνεται μεῖζον πάντων τῶν λαχάνων and ποιεῖ κλάδους μεγάλους. Again, the superlative use of comparative adjective μεῖζον is applied for making contrast with the preceding verse. The mustard seed grows into the largest λάχανον. Some translations using “tree” but it could be advantageously translated in “edible garden herbs”, or in a less clumsy way, “vegetables”. The mustard tree is in fact a shrub. It is a daily object familiar to the audiences in Jesus time. Disregard the purpose of the use of δένδρον in Matthew and Luke’s account, translate it as “tree” in here would be too board for imagination and could drift the readers off the scene that Mark was picturing. Considering the audiences Jesus was preaching to, readers may benefit from picturing the scene of Jesus made every effort to relate his teaching to his audience.Unlike what he gave in the parable of “seed growing secretly” from 4:26–29, Jesus gave very little description of the growing process. He skimmed through the process and seemingly skipped right into the final stage of the growth. Furthermore, additional description of the branches extending out in the final stage helps to intensify the effect of contrast in this parable – a tiny seed grows into a dwelling place for birds.

4:32b 又長出大枝,以致天上的飛鳥可以在它的蔭下築巢。

The idiomatic phrase τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ means wild birds, together with the use of the infinitive κατασκηνοῦν, it qualifies the resultant dependent clause. As a magnificent result, the insignificant mustard seed has not only grown into a largest plant in the garden, it size can also be large enough for a dwelling place for the wide birds. Some may stress on the significance of the meanings of the birds mentioned in the parable. Other than the illustration of the size of the plant, it is also suggested that the purpose of God’s kingdom is for accommodating including the gentiles. It may due to the assumption of Mark’s primary Roman gentile readers. By comparing the account of Ezekiel’s cedars and Nebuchadnezzar’s tree that represent also the growth of the empires, especially the nesting birds is interpreted as “all great nations”, France also suggests that the allegory here may intend to indicate the extensiveness of God’s kingdom which allows all nations to dwell in it.

神學原則三:

神的話在世人看來看似微不足道

神學原則四:

神的話終會遠超一切並讓人受益

RCUV因為十字架的道理,在那滅亡的人是愚拙,在我們得救的人卻是上帝的大能。 就如經上所記: 「我要摧毀智慧人的智慧, 廢棄聰明人的聰明。」 智慧人在哪裏?文士在哪裏?這世上的辯士在哪裏?上帝豈不是已使這世上的智慧變成愚拙了嗎? 既然世人憑自己的智慧不認識上帝,上帝就本著自己的智慧樂意藉著人所傳愚拙的話拯救那些信的人。 猶太人要的是神蹟,希臘人求的是智慧, 我們卻是傳被釘十字架的基督,這對猶太人是絆腳石,對外邦人是愚拙; 但對那蒙召的,無論是猶太人、希臘人,基督總是上帝的大能,上帝的智慧。 因為,上帝的愚拙總比人智慧;上帝的軟弱總比人強壯。

總結

From the two parables, it is clear that the Kingdom of God is His own work on the sown seed and its significance beyond one can imagine. Regarding the meaning of seed, Jesus also used it in the soil parable 4:3–9 and he explicitly explained to his disciples that it represents the words he preaches. Bearing the same semantic understanding of the seed, it makes a clear indication that the Kingdom of God is germinated from his words (seed). Also by recalling and 1:4, we can be aware of that the word is God himself incarnated as Jesus, the perfect human with absolute deity nature.
RCUV1 太初有道,道與上帝同在,道就是上帝。 2 這道太初與上帝同在。 3 萬物都是藉著他造的,沒有一樣不是藉著他造的。凡被造的, 4 在他裏面有生命,這生命就是人的光。
A common feature is found in these two parables that is the assurance of the satisfying and glorious finish. It is believed that they are purposely put together by Mark. In contrast to the soil parable in the beginning of the chapter, these two parables consist of only successful seed that grows into harvest and largest plant in the garden. No failing seed is mentioned. Encouragement is found here for stating the power of God manifested through his time and accomplishment. However, these two parables both have their unique perspective depicting the flourish of the His words. The first parable concentrates mainly on the mystic process of the growth and emphasizes the unawareness of men. Flow along with the story line starting by sowing, and then followed by sprouting and growing, continues with the three-step maturing of the grain, and finally with the finale – harvest, no effort of men nor natural factor is mentioned. The focus is anchored on the unavoidable and unstoppable growing process of the crop itself. Even at the end, the send out of the sickle can be taken place only when the grain permits. If we compare this process of growing to a realistic planting experience, many important factors are being ruled out here. It is clear the allegory in parable is not based on agricultural experience, instead, it is based on the vitality of the seed (words) itself. The word of God is his divine power. God created the world and its substance by speaking out His words. His word is life and the word is God (). Full of power and wisdom that men cannot compare with ().
RCUV8 我的意念非同你們的意念, 我的道路非同你們的道路。 這是耶和華說的。 9 天怎樣高過地, 照樣,我的道路高過你們的道路, 我的意念高過你們的意念。
The farmer, whoever it represents, play no significance role to the process of the growth. God may use the minerals to enrich the earth or the rain from the sky to enliven the soil, but whatever factor involved, it has to be subjected to the work of God. It is God who control the atmosphere and weather, it is God who mix the best nutrient combination for the crop. The three-step sequence of growth of grain illustrates the beauty and wisdom of God’s work. When his word is sown in a heart, God will work perfectly with his divine plan, and directs the process accordingly to his scheme and knowledge of his creation. His active implementation without men’s knowledge is the driving force of accomplishment. By fulfilling his glorious will, harvest will come in His time. The assurance of the harvest emphasized the sovereignty and divine work of God, Mark uses this parable to motivate faith in God’s word rather by looking at the effort of men. The vitality of his living word (Hebrew 4:12) is the assurance for those who sow the seed, who preach his words. In , Paul encourages Timothy to preach the word in season or out of season. In , Paul instructs that whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let not weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
RCUV2 務要傳道;無論得時不得時總要專心,並以百般的忍耐和各樣的教導責備人,警戒人,勸勉人。
RCUV8 順著肉體撒種的,必從肉體收敗壞;順著聖靈撒種的,必從聖靈收永生。
The second parable focuses on the contrast between the beginning stage and the full- grown stage of the mustard seed. Despite of the humble beginning of the seed (Jesus himself and the words he preached), once it is sown on the soil, it grows and becomes larger than all other plants that people did not expect. The analogy does not stop here and takes its readers to further imagination. From the smallest seed that one can easily overlook, to a plant with branches that can accommodate lives, the contrast makes a strong claim on God’s unique way of salvation – the significant becomes insignificant for the significant result. The nature of the words itself possesses significant attributes, but it took an insignificant form () and being sown on the earth. The Word grows and it becomes largest above every plant (). It even branches out for the wild birds to nest on it. It may not be appropriate to solidly interpret the wild birds as the gentile nations or homeless souls. However, its ending is indeed a satisfying and glories picture which justifies the humble beginning.
RCUV他本有上帝的形像, 卻不堅持自己與上帝同等; 反倒虛己, 取了奴僕的形像, 成為人的樣式; 既有人的樣子, 就謙卑自己, 存心順服,以至於死, 且死在十字架上。 所以上帝把他升為至高, 又賜給他超乎萬名之上的名,
RCUV所以上帝把他升為至高, 又賜給他超乎萬名之上的名, 使一切在天上的、地上的和地底下的, 因耶穌的名, 眾膝都要跪下, 眾口都要宣認: 耶穌基督是主, 歸榮耀給父上帝。
The message of God’s kingdom gives great encouragement to the readers especially to those who are called to preach his word. Mark might have in mind that using this parable to strengthen the church by assuring them the sovereignty of God and the accomplishment of his will. The Christian audiences of Mark were in fact being suffered in the first century under the reign of Romans and the opposition of Jewish community. His readers were meant to be encouraged to believe the work of God and the activity of the growth is always in progress behind the awareness of men. In the situation of having a strong adversity to the Gospel, the effect of the evangelic works and the gospel may look insignificant in the beginning. By the parabolic teaching of Jesus, for those who hear the word and seek God, are ensured of the Kingdom of God and His words will become significant that surpasses all those who despise His words. In fact, Jesus himself is the one who livingly preaches the word with his own life and devotional faith. By being despised and opposed by the hard-heartened ones, he did not cease to preach the words and continues to believe in the Father. Although the disciples are lacking faith even though being betrayed, Jesus continues to faithfully disciple them without drawing back. In the most humiliated moment, Jesus bears his faith in the Father and was killed insultingly on the cross for the sake of giving life to many, after three days a resurrected life burst from the death and the kingdom of God is germinated. With the help of Holy Spirit, the lives of the disciples started to grow and the gospel started to spread. The apostles bore the same faith of Jesus to reach other lives by witnessing the incarnated Words, branches were being extended and many wild lost souls find their dwelling place in God’s kingdom. All these miraculous growth and lives changing course started from a tiny seed. The spiritual vitality in the Word of God, which beyond human knowledge and efforts, will eventually come to the ultimate harvest and the reign of His kingdom will rule in just and love in every heart that cannot resist to worship the greatness of His might and holiness.
RCUV18 我還告訴你,你是彼得,我要把我的教會建造在這磐石上,陰間的權柄不能勝過它。
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