Purpose of Parables, Mark 4:10-13

Pronouncement story analyzed by Nelson Yang

The pronouncement story: Jesus tells the purpose of Parables

Mark 4:10-13

10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,

“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!”

13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?

Facts about The Gospel of Mark

- Recognized as the first written Gospel by modern scholars

- Written by an anonymous writer

- Date of composition: 66CE-73CE

- The author gathered sources from oral traditions and scattered written materials

- Written for the Jews and Gentiles in the author's community

The Pronouncement Story

A pronouncement story in a Gospel is a one-line or brief anecdote about something that Jesus said. It includes corrections, controversies, and commendations. The pronouncement story of "The purpose of the parables" is a correction story. The disciples question Jesus of the parable he has just made, and Jesus tells the disciples the purpose of the parables.

Question raised

If Jesus was the one appointed by God to bring his people back to God, why did he use the esoteric approaches such as parables and metaphors to teach instead of using simple dictions which everyone is able to understand?

Why did Mark include this section in the Gospel? What is his intended message?

Purpose of Parables in Modern Sources

The question answered

As now Jesus is alone with the disciples. The pronouncement story is only told to the disciples, to whom the kingdom of God has been granted. The crowd is the outsider to whom everything comes in Parable. The key word mystery is used to refer to those messages which become known only by revelatoin. Like the secrets of a heart, they can be known only if one freely chooses to disclose them. These verses are often addressed as the parable theory of Mark.

Mark's parable theory tells people that those who are the true followers of Jesus will be granted the kingdom of God will truly see the kingdom of God. As in those who are not the true followers of God, but merely come to hear about the Jesus' teaching and bring nothing home will never see the kingdom themselves because they do not offer their heart to comprehend the words of Jesus.

Mark's intended message

Mark tells his intended audiences, the Jews and Gentiles in his community, that the kingdom of God has been granted to them, for they have heard the Gospel. Only if they follow the lord wholeheartedly and ponder every word of him, they will understand the message of the lord.


Gospel of Mark by an anonymous writer

Gospel of Mark, by Mary Healy

Mark, by Mary Ann Deavis

Gospel of Matthew by and anonymous writer

Class notes from NT class taught by Doctor Scibilia