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Bible Commentaries

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
Mark 7

 

 

Verse 24

Mark 7:24. He wished that no man should know it. We must attend to this circumstance, which is mentioned by Mark, that when Christ came to that place, he did not erect his banner, but endeavored to remain concealed for a time, in that obscure situation, like a private individual. Mark speaks according to the ordinary perception of the flesh; for, although Christ by his divine Spirit foresaw what would happen, yet so far as he was the minister and ambassador of the Father, he kept himself, as his human nature might have led us to expect, within the limits of that calling which God had given him; and in that respect it is said that what he wished, as man, he was unable to accomplish. Meanwhile, this occurrence, as I have said, tends powerfully to condemn the Jews, who—though they boasted that they were the heirs of the covenant of the Lord, his peculiar people, and a royal priesthood—were blind and deaf when Christ, with a loud voice and with the addition of miracles, offered to them the promised redemption; while this woman, who had no relationship with the children of Abraham, and to whom, at first sight, the covenant did not at all belong, came of her own accord to Christ, without having heard his voice or seen his miracles.


Verse 32

Mark 7:32.And they bring to him one who was deaf. The reason why they implored him to lay his hands upon him may be learned from passages which we have already considered; for the laying on of hands was a solemn symbol of consecration, (423) and by means of it, the gifts of the Holy Spirit were also bestowed. And there is no doubt that this ceremony was frequently used by Christ; so that those men requested nothing but what they knew that he had been formerly in the habit of doing. On the present occasion, Christ employs other symbols; for he puts his spittle on the tongue of the dumb man, and puts his fingers into his ears. The laying on of hands would of itself have been sufficiently efficacious, and even, without moving a finger, he might have accomplished it by a single act of his will; but it is evident that he made abundant use of outward signs, when they were found to be advantageous. Thus, by touching the tongue with spittle, he intended to point out that the faculty of speech was communicated by himself alone; and by putting his finger into the ears, he showed that it belonged to his office to pierce the ears of the deaf. There is no necessity for having recourse to allegories; and we find that those who have amused themselves with ingenious discussions on this subject, are so far from bringing forward any thing of real value, that they tend rather to hold up the Scriptures to ridicule. Readers of sobriety and judgment will be satisfied with this single instruction, that we obtain from Christ, in answer to our prayers, both speech and hearing; for he pours his energy into our tongues, and pierces our ears with his fingers.


Verse 33

33.And when he had taken him aside from the multitude. This was done, partly to afford to those who were ignorant, and not yet sufficiently qualified for becoming witnesses, an opportunity of perceiving at a distance the glory of his Divine nature, and partly that he might have a better opportunity of pouring out earnest prayer. When he looked up to heaven and sighed, it was an expression of strong feeling; and this enables us to perceive the vehemence of his love towards men, for whose miseries he feels so much compassion. Nor can it be doubted, that by conveying the spittle from his own mouth to the mouth of another, and by putting his fingers into his ears, he intended to manifest and express the same feeling of kindness. Yet that he has supreme power to remove all our defects, and restore us to health, is proclaimed by him when he simply orders the tongue and ears to be opened; for it was not without a good reason that Mark inserted that Chaldaic word, ( ἐφφαθά) Ephphatha, be opened, but to testify the divine power of Christ. Among other fooleries with which baptism has been debased by foolish men, the ceremony used by our Lord is turned into a piece of buffoonery; and this instance shows us that there is no end to licentiousness, when men wantonly change at their own pleasure the mysteries of God.


Verse 36

36.Then he enjoined them not to tell it to any person. Many commentators torture these injunctions to an opposite meaning, as if Christ had purposely excited them to spread abroad the fame of the miracle; but I prefer a more natural interpretation which I have formerly stated, (424) that Christ only intended to delay the publication of it till a more proper and convenient time. I have no doubt, therefore, that their zeal was unseasonable, when, though enjoined to be silent, they were in haste to speak. We need not wonder that men unaccustomed to the doctrine of Christ are carried away by immoderate zeal, when it is not called for. Yet what they unwisely attempted to do, was made by Christ to promote his own glory; for not only was the miracle made known, but the whole of that district, in despising the Author of heavenly gifts, was rendered inexcusable.


Verse 37

37.He hath done all things well. Matthew, after collecting many miracles, concludes by saying that the multitudes wondered, and glorified the God of Israel; that is, because God, taking unusual methods of illustrating his power, had called up the remembrance of his covenant. But the words of Mark contain perhaps an implied contrast; for the reports concerning Christ were various, and the word multitude or crowd ( ὄχλος) may be intended to mean that it was only wicked and malicious persons who slandered his actions, since all that he did was so far from exposing him to calumny that it deserved the highest praise. But we know, and it is what nature teaches us, that nothing is more unjust than to make the bestowal of favors an occasion of envy and ill-will.

 


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Bibliography Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Mark 7:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/mark-7.html. 1840-57.

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