Luke 8:10

The previous post in this series is:

Mark 4:11

The first post in this series about mysteries in the Bible is called Mysteries.

This is the third of the three synoptic1 gospels’ treatments of the Parable of the Sower. For our study, it also contains a reference to a mystery.

Since the three passages are very similar, the conclusions we find are the same as when I deal with Matthew 13:11 and Mark 4:11. For this passage, I’ll instead deal with the similarities and differences between the three passages, and see if they help us define mystery better.

All three:

  • Birds eat the seed
  • People trample it
  • Rocky soil
  • Wither when the sun shines on them
  • Thorns choking out the seed
  • Good seed multiplies
  • “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Differences

  • Luke only has a hundredfold as a multiplier. Both Matthew and Mark have hundred, sixty, and thirty, although they reverse the order from each other.
  • They all use slightly different phrasings for the disciples asking Jesus what the parable meant. This appears to me to simply be stylistic choices, not doctrinal.
  • All three quote the same Isaiah passage, but they quote different amounts of it. Matthew’s treatment has the longest quote, which is in keeping with his presentation to a primarily Jewish audience.
  • They all use different styles for the statement of the disciples being given the secrets to the parables, but again, the differences don’t appear to be doctrinal.
  • The specifics of the seed and soil are slightly different.
  • Matthew tells them they are blessed because they see and hear. Jesus also adds that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what they see, but didn’t.
  • In the Mark passage, Jesus asks them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?” This probably was just not thought relevant to Matthew and Luke.
  • They use different terms for the thief who snatches away the seed: “evil one” in Matthew, “Satan” in Mark, and “the devil” in Luke.

Other than those, the passages are pretty similar. So, I think it fair to keep holding to our current definition: a mystery is a truth not revealed before (i.e. in the Old Testament), but is being revealed now.

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  1. The synoptic gospels are Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The word synoptic means dealing with the same subject. These three cover mostly the same material, just with different perspectives. John’s gospel, however, attempts to fill in the gaps the other three missed.

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