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Mark 4:10-12

New American Standard Bible 1995

10 As soon as He was alone, [a]His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. 11 And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, 12 so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.”

(Side Note: I hope I'm Not steering anyone as to how this question should be answered, but to me reading & interpreting Mark 4:10-12 brings up another Calvinism vs Arminianism Doctrine debate.

Calvinist's viewpoint

-those "outside" are people who are Not elected/chosen by God for salvation (Side Note: I wanted to actually provide some proof that about Calvin's view on said scripture. (Quote)"John Calvin’s exegesis of Mark 4:10-12 has set the driving theological framework for interpreting Jesus’ use of parables. For Calvin, Jesus uses parables expressly to keep knowledge away from the reprobate."(Credit Reference: https://www.marmanold.com/mdiv/2017/parables-desire-and-salvation-a-counter-reformation-reading-of-mark-410-12/ )

Arminianist's viewpoint

-those "outside" are people who are Not willing(since they have free will) to have a relationship/fellowship with Jesus Christ as Lord & saviour. )

However, please feel free to answer the question even it you do Not think the aforementioned bible passage has anything to do with Calvinism vs Arminianism ( for example, it might be just a historical translation problem).

What is the deeper contextual meaning of Mark 4:11's "outside"?

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  • Do you have free-will if you are chained in a dark place? No. Well those who remain deceived by the god of this world in this age are not free nor do they have free-will - they are chained by deception and lies and will remain so until their day of salvation comes - which will be offered to all once their deception is finally and totally removed.
    – Steve
    Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 5:18
  • @steveowen Yes, agreed. And we can tell those who are chained in a dark place because God has sent 'strong delusion that they should believe a lie'. Indeed. Question up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 5:25
  • Of course, somebody have free will even if their chained up in a dark place. Paul chose to sing spiritual songs. Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 6:48

2 Answers 2

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Mark 4:10-12 has nothing to do with Calvinism vs Arminianism for two reasons:

  1. This text is not quoted by either side in support of their case
  2. The very fact that it is so easy to explain in text on either side shows that it cannot be used as evidence for either

The case for Calvinism and Arminianism is built on other Biblical data but not this passage.

In Mark 4:10-12, Jesus is stating a very simple fact - those enlightened by the Holy Spirit (John 16) are capable of understanding spiritual things to a far greater extent tha those "outside", ie, not God's people and not part of the body of Christ, not part of the kingdom of heaven, etc.

In Mark 4:10-12 Jesus essentially uses a fortress analogy:

  • Those on the "inside" are part of the saved, part of the kingdom of heaven, part of the body of Christ and enlightened by the Holy Spirit
  • Those on the "outside" are not saved, not part of the kingdom of heaven, not part of the body of Christ and not enlightened by the Holy Spirit

We see this same idea in many other places as well:

  • 1 Cor 5:12 - What business of mine is it to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?
  • 1 Cor 5:13 - God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”
  • Col 4:5 - Walk in wisdom toward those outside, redeeming the time.
  • 1 Tim 3:7 - And it behooves him also to have a good testimony from those outside, so that he might not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
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  • I wanted to actually provide some proof that about Calvin's view on said scripture. "John Calvin’s exegesis of Mark 4:10-12 has set the driving theological framework for interpreting Jesus’ use of parables. For Calvin, Jesus uses parables expressly to keep knowledge away from the reprobate."(Credit Reference: marmanold.com/mdiv/2017/… ) Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 11:49
  • @crazyTech - read the first sentence of my answer. You and I appear to differ.
    – Dottard
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 11:58
  • In your first numbered bullet point, you state (Quote)"1. This text is not quoted by either side in support of their case". Therefore, I'm just disagreeing with that by counter-arguing that Calvin actually did view Mark 4:10-12 verses as evidence that Jesus wanted "keep knowledge away from the reprobate"(Credit Reference: marmanold.com/mdiv/2017/… ) Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 12:02
  • @crazyTech - I did not say that either side did not quote it - I said that neither side used it to support their respective case. Of course both sides quote the text and interpret it from their point of view - that is very different from using it as a proof text.
    – Dottard
    Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 12:05
  • But Calvin actually did use Mark 4:10-12 verses as evidence that Jesus wanted "keep knowledge away from the reprobate". Therefore, Calvin did see Mark 4:10-12 as supporting Calvinism. (Credit Reference: marmanold.com/mdiv/2017/… ) Commented Apr 20, 2022 at 12:08
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This isn't about salvation

The word for "outside" is simply the well-known word "exo". There are no clues their. However, "outside" is being contrasted with "you", in the Markian context who is "You"?

Mark 4:10 (ESV)

And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables.

The disciples, which includes the Twelve, which includes Judas the traitor. If the disciples are the saved in contrast to the unsaved without, then Judas must be saved. At least for the holder of Once-Saved-Always-Saved then this cannot be.

Why then does Jesus not want those without to have their sins forgiven?

One context thing to point out is when these events are taking place. This is before Jesus goes away, and thus before the Holy Spirit is the mark for all believers. But why does Jesus not want their sins forgiven? Again, let us look at the context: the context is the parable of the seeds. It is a fair guess, that Jesus knows that were he to throw the seed of clear teachings that it would whither and die from those that were not followers of him. Another possibility is that it would quickly become heresy, sort of like when Paul saved the slave-girl. Perhaps, tasting freedom and going away and losing it would harden their hearts. But, we do not quite know: Jesus does not tell us.

In conclusion, the "inside" group is the one that includes Judas, and it is the outside group that does not. Jesus is not talking about the saved and the unsaved.

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  • Judas was numbered with the twelve and was (presumably and by the hint of 'dippeth in the dish') baptised. So he was 'with' the disciples. But not of them.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 9:14
  • @NigelJ And Mark makes clear that - since he is one of the twelve - he is present when the parable is expounded. Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 11:24

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