Greek Study Mark 4:26-34
v26 ελεγεν (λεγω) imperf. "he [also] said" – Greek idiom; “another saying of his was this…"
η βασιλεια (ος) του θεου "the kingdom of God" – a descriptive phrase like "the rule of God " may better convey meaning to we "Gentiles", although translators are loathe to move from a literal translation. To Jews, the phrase was highly charged. The kingdom of God referenced the messiah's establishment of the eschatological reign of God over Israel, in defiance of secular powers, "kingdom" is both domain and dominion.
ουτως adv. "is like [this]" - comparative; a idiomatic translation would be "God's righteous reign may be compared to a situation where ......"
ανθρωπος (ος) "a man" - Jesus is often identified as the sower, except this sower "does not know" and the image of an ignorant Jesus sees unlikely. Regardless, the sower is a human agent.
βαλη (βαλλω) aor. subj. "scatters" - aorist subjunctive may be futuristic, "a man will", but is more likely the subjunctive is a product of narrative style used. The aorist is punctiliar, describing the act of sowing a field, the following verses use the present tense expressing the ongoing action of growth.
τον σπορον (ος) sing. "seed" – “singular collective” the seed is described unlike the sower. The parable of the sower is often regarded as a "typological" parable providing clues to the interpretation of other kingdom parables. On this basis the "seed" is often regarded as the word of God, the gospel. Yet, this assumes the kingdom parables are allegories where individual elements get assigned meaning. It is more likely the parable of the sower is a teaching parable about how all parables should be heard (note it does not begin with the phrase "the kingdom of God is like"). The parable of the sower explains the function of kingdom parables, gospel presentations that prompt varied responses.
v27 νυκτα (νυξ νυκτος) "Night [and day]" – in the first century day began at sunset NOT at sunrise (which is why Christmas and Easter celebrations begin on the eve and not the morn). Day beginning at midnight was a pagan practice - in Biblical terms the new day began at sunset!
καθευδη (καθευδω) pres. subj. "whether he sleeps" - as with the subjunctives εγειρηται, "rise", βλαστα, "sprouts", and μηκυνηται, "grows", the use of the subjective indicates a conditional clause; "it is as if a man should sow a crop in his land, and then go to sleep and wake again, night after night, day after day, while the crop sprouts and grows".
μηκυνηται (μηκυνω) aor. subj. "grows" – lit. becomes long - descriptive of growth, expressed also in 28 naturally prompts the idea that the growth is the growth the kingdom or even of the church. But rather than growth, this parable seems to describe completion. "The time is fulfilled – i.e. the seed sprouts and grows".
v28 αυτοματη adj. "by itself" - on its own, referring to something which happens without a visible cause.
χαρτον (ος) "stalk" – lit. "green shoot".
καρποφορει (καρποφορεω) pres. "produces grain".
πληρης adj. "full [kernel]" - in the sense of "ripe".
v29 The language of this verse reflects Joel 3:13 οταν + subj. "as soon as" - introducing an indefinite temporal clause, taken literally it means whenever the crop is...
παραδοι (παραδιδωμι) aor. subj. "ripe" here the classical usage - this is usually translated "permits" but here it means "ready." - both suggestions are based upon a possible Aramaic source.
αποστελλει (αποστελλω) pres. "he puts [the sickle to it]" – again, an Aramaicism –literally meaning “he sends" reflecting the Joel source, "applies the sickle" images the ‘letting loose of the reapers’.
παρεστηκεν (παριστημι) perf. "[the harvest] has come" - Here the perfect underlines a point of time; "is here".
v30 και ελεγεν "again he said" - Another new element.
πως + subj. "what" – a deliberative particle.
ομοιωσωμεν (ομοιοω) aor. subj. "shall we say [the kingdom of God] is like" - shall we compare.
παραβολη (η) "[what] parable" - Mark intends us to understand the word as a technical descriptive of a "parable", or it may be describing a parallelism between kingdom and this story by way of comparison.
θωμεν (τιθημι) aor. subj. "shall we use to describe it" subjunctive is deliberative; here in the sense of presenting an idea.
v31 σιναπεως (ι εως) gen. "[a] mustard" - genitive is adjectival for
κοκκω (ος) dat. "seed".
μικροτερον (μικρος) comp. adj. "the smallest" - comparative used as a superlative. Although not literally the smallest seed, it was proverbially regarded as such.
παντωn gen. adj. "of all" σπερματων (α ατος) gen. "seed" – literally offspring.so the seed here may be Israel.
v32 οταν + subj. "when [planted]"
μειζον (μεγας) comp. adj. "the largest" - comparative used for a superlative.
των λαχανων (ον) gen. "the garden plants" – (vegetables/herbs).
ποιει (ποιεω) pres. "makes [big branches].
του ουρανου (ος) gen. "[the birds/creatures, things] of heaven genitive is adjectival.
δυνασθαι (δυναμαι) pres. inf. "are able the accusative subject of the infinitive.
κατασκηνουν (κατασκηνοω) pres. inf. "perch" - nest, settle, live, dwell, camp - infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "are." "Perch" is unlikely, "nest", is better, "rest in its shade", closest. (One might ponder the number of times shade or shadow is used in OT and NT stories!)