4:11secret . . . parables. The “secret” refers to special divine revelation (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 1:9; 3:3, 9), the Old Testament notion of the prophet who by the Spirit is present in God’s deliberative council. What he hears becomes his authoritative, divinely inspired message for the people (Ex. 24:15–18; Deut. 33:2; 1 Kin. 22:19; Is. 6:1–13; Jer. 23:18; Amos 3:7). Such revelation reaches its fulfillment in the gospel, which Paul will later call “the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4; Col. 4:3) or “the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19). Here, the mystery of the kingdom is that the kingdom comes with Jesus, because He is the King. This “mystery,” revealed to the disciples, is contrasted with “parables” told to “those who are outside.” To those “outside,” the parable is a riddle (contrast John 16:29), veiling their understanding as the Scripture had prophesied (v. 12, citing Is. 6:9, 10). To them Jesus remains a provocative enigma, as He will throughout His ministry.
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