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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Mark 6



Verse 1

1. ἐκεῖθεν. From Capernaum.

ἔρχεται εἰς τὴν πατρίδα αὐτοῦ. See critical note. “His country” means “His home,” Nazareth (Mark 1:9; Mark 1:24), where His family was well known (Mark 6:3). Cf. Joseph. Ant. x. vii. 3.

οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ. Mk alone mentions them here. Jesus had left Nazareth as a private individual, and He comes back as a famous Teacher with a band of pupils; see on Mark 2:15.

Verses 1-6


Matthew 13:54-58. Cf. Luke 4:16-30

Verse 2

2. ἤρξατο διδάσκειν. Apparently this was the first time that He taught publicly at Nazareth, and He was not encouraged to continue doing so.

οἱ πολλοὶ ἀκ. ἐξεπλήσσοντο. Most of them (Mark 9:26) were astounded at His preaching, as Mark 1:22 and Mark 11:18, where the same verb is used. But they could not bear that one whom they had known as an equal should exhibit such superiority, and they make little of it. [1319][1320][1321][1322][1323][1324] omit οἱ. In Mark 9:26, [1325][1326][1327][1328][1329][1330][1331] omit τούς.

Πόθεν τούτῳ ταῦτα. “What right has this man to all this?” No other person had ever left the village as a carpenter and come back a Rabbi working miracles. As often, τούτῳ is contemptuous; “this man whom we have known for years.” They cannot deny His powers; but they know all about Him and His family, and therefore He cannot have any mission from Heaven. Cf. John 7:15.

τίς ἡ σοφία; “What sort of wisdom is it? whence comes it?” Cf. Mark 4:41. Nowhere else does Mk mention σοφία.

δυνάμεις. Cf. Mark 6:5; Mark 6:14, Mark 9:39. A.V. varies between “mighty works,” “wonderful works” and “miracles.” In Mark 13:22 Mk uses σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα of the wonders wrought by false Christs, but nowhere of the signs wrought by Christ and the disciples. The people of Nazareth do not question His mighty works, but they are jealous of His power to do them.

Verse 3

3. ὁ τέκτων. See critical note. Mt. will not call Him “the carpenter,” but says “the carpenter’s son,” and states the relationship to Mary separately. Justin (Try. 88) preserves the tradition that He made ploughs and yokes. Cf. Orig. Cels. vi. 4.

ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ΄αρίας. It is remarkable that Mk does not say “the son of Joseph and Mary.” Joseph was probably dead, and hence Jesus is called “the carpenter.” This is perhaps the reason why Joseph is not mentioned here; but Mk may have purposely avoided saying that Jesus was Joseph’s son in the same sense that He was Mary’s son. Contrast Luke 4:22; John 6:42.

ἀδελφός. See on Mark 3:35. The names of His brothers are those of O.T. patriarchs.

Ἰακώβον. The most famous of the brethren, president of the church of Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13; Acts 21:18; Galatians 2:9; Galatians 2:12). Hort thinks that after James the brother of John was slain (Acts 12:2), James the brother of the Lord was counted as one of the Twelve (Chris. Eccl. pp. 76 f.). He had the influence of an Apostle, and is the author of the Epistle of James. Josephus (Ant. xx. ix. 1) mentions him, and Eusebius (H. E. ii. 23) gives an extract from Hegesippus describing his martyrdom.

Ἰωσῆτος. Not the Joses of Mark 15:40. The name is another form of Joseph.

Ἰούδα. The author of the Epistle of Jude. The brethren were married (1 Corinthians 9:5), and Jude’s humble grandsons were treated with contemptuous clemency by Domitian (Eus. H. E. iii. 20).

Σίμωνος. Nothing is known of him.

ἀδελφαί. Their existence is suggested in Mark 3:35. Mt. here adds πᾶσαι, which shows that there were several sisters, but they are mentioned nowhere else. The brothers, at first unbelievers (John 7:5), became missionaries after the Resurrection (1 Corinthians 9:5). The sisters perhaps neither left Nazareth nor became in any way notable. The way in which the Nazarenes speak of them indicates that these brothers and sisters had not much sympathy with the Teacher who is here criticized.

πρὸς ἡμᾶς. “In constant intercourse with us”; Mark 9:19, Mark 14:49. This does not imply that the brothers are not πρὸς ἡμᾶς.

ἐσκανδαλίζοντο. Astonishment led on, not to reverence, but to repulsion. They could not tolerate a fellow-villager’s fame and success. Jealousy is never reasonable; the Nazarenes were offended at the very thing which brought them great honour. How soon Christ became aware that He must suffer and die is not revealed. The process was perhaps gradual. The conduct of His own people towards Him would be some intimation of what must follow. The contrast between the feeling at Nazareth and the feeling at Capernaum is extraordinary, seeing that the places were only about 20 miles apart. But there is mountainous country between, and there would be little intercourse.

Verse 4

4. καὶ ἔλεγεν. Their dissatisfaction was frequently expressed, and He used to reply with this aphorism. Mt., as often, substitutes an aor., εἶπεν.

Οὐκ ἔστιν προφήτης. Jesus made no public claim to be the Messiah, but His miracles and teaching caused Him to be generally accepted as a Prophet (Mark 6:15, Mark 8:28; Matthew 21:11; Luke 7:16; Luke 24:19). The saying was doubtless proverbial before Christ uttered it, and it is given in different forms in John 4:44 and Luke 4:24; also in Oxyrhyn. log. 6, which agrees with Lk. in inserting δεκτός. Plutarch (De exil. 13, p. 604 D) says that few very wise men receive attention ἐν ταῖς ἑαυτῶν πατρίσι. Pliny (H. N. xxxv. 36), sordebat suis, ut plerumque domestica. Christ had been rejected by the Gerasenes. As often, He states a general truth and leaves His hearers to find the limitations by thought and experience.

ἄτιμος. Cf. Isaiah 3:5, Isaiah 53:3; Job 30:8.

συγγενεῦσιν. With this form for συγγένεσιν comp. γονεῦσιν (Romans 1:30; 2 Corinthians 12:14). This may point back to Mark 3:21. Mt. omits it, as does Lk. (Luke 4:24).

Verse 5

5. οὐκ ἐδύνατοδύναμιν. The verbal play is perhaps intentional; “He had no power to do any work of power” (McLaren). Mt. does not like οὐκ ἐδύνατο of Christ and says οὐκ ἐποίησεν. Origen points out that Mk does not say οὐκ ἤθελεν: the defect was on their side not His. Faith was necessary on both sides, where faith was possible. Christ always believed that He had the ἐξουσία to heal, but faith on the part of the afflicted (or those who were responsible for them) might be wanting; then, οὐκ ἐδύνατο· ἐνεπόδιζε γὰρ αὐτῷ ἡ ἀπιστία. οὐκ ἔδει βιαίως εὐεργετεῖν αὐτούς (Euthym.). He was not ἀσθενής, but they were ἄπιστοι (Theoph.). Jerome needlessly remarks that He could do much good even to those who did not believe; but the good in question was healing of body, not of soul: and Bede introduces an idea foreign to the passage when he suggests that it was in mercy that Christ did few mighty works, for, had He done many, the guilt of their unbelief would have been increased. Dr Abbott thinks that Jn (Mark 5:19; Mark 5:30) may be covering Mk’s statement, which was disliked by some, when he quotes Christ as saying “The Son can do nothing of Himself” (The Fourfold Gospel, Introd. p. 23).

ποιῆσαι. Aor. infin. after δύναμαι. See on Mark 1:40.

οὐκεἰ μὴ. Cf. Mark 8:14; and for ἐπιθεὶς τ. χεῖρας, Mark 5:23.

Verse 6

6. ἐθαύμασεν. This also is omitted by Mt., although he admits surprise in Christ at the great faith of the centurion (Mark 8:10). John 4:13; John 9:19 we have expressions which imply surprise. Surprise is also implied in His treatment of the braggart fig-tree, on which He expected to find fruit because of its show of leaves (Mark 9:13). Just as οὐκ ἐδύνατο involves limitation of power, so ἐθαύμασεν involves limitation of knowledge: marvelling is incompatible with omniscience. The διά is intelligible, on account of their unbelief, but the usual constr. is ἐπὶ c. dat. (Luke 4:22; Luke 20:26; Acts 3:12). Unless διὰ τοῦτο in John 7:22 belongs to what precedes, which is improbable, θαυμάζω διά τι occurs nowhere else in N.T.

περιῆγενδιδάσκων. Beneficium tamen praestitit Jesus patriae suae (Beng.). This is another missionary circuit in Galilee.

Verse 7

7. τοὺς δώδεκα. The number is regarded as final, but we cannot be sure that they were already known as “the Twelve.” The expression is especially freq. in Mk (Mark 4:10, Mark 9:35, Mark 10:32, Mark 11:11, Mark 14:10; Mark 14:17; Mark 14:20; Mark 14:43).

ἤρξατο αὐτοὺς ἀποστέλλειν. They were appointed [1] to be with Him to be trained, [2] that He might send them forth to preach (Mark 3:14). The first of these purposes has been to some extent accomplished, and now the second is to begin. Note the ἤρξατο: the pairs were not sent out all at one moment.

δύο δύο. The more classical expression would be either κατὰ δύο (1 Corinthians 14:27), or ἀνὰ δύο, which [1332] has here, and Lk. has Mark 10:1 of the sending out of the Seventy-two. Cf. Mark 9:14. The double numeral (Genesis 6:19-20; Genesis 7:2-3; Genesis 7:9, etc.) is not purely Hebraistic. We have μυρία μυρία, “by tens of thousands” (Aesch. Pers. 981), and μίαν μίαν = κατὰ μίαν is quoted from the Eris, a lost play of Sophocles: δήσῃ τρία τρία occurs in a papyrus of the 3rd cent. A.D. Deissmann, Light, p. 124. In the Gospel of Peter 9, and in the Acts of Philip 36, we have the two constructions mixed, ἀνὰ δύο δύο. The duplication occurs in modern Greek.

The advantages of pairs are obvious (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). The Baptist had adopted this method (Luke 7:19; John 1:37), and we find it repeatedly in the Apostolic Church; Barnabas and Saul, Judas and Silas, Barnabas and Mark, Paul and Silas, Timothy and Silas, Timothy and Erastus. Our Lord and the six pairs now made seven centres of preaching and healing. Cf. Mark 11:1, Mark 14:13.

ἐδίδου. Here and in Mark 6:41, Mt. has ἔδωκεν, as usual preferring aor. to imperf. But as each pair was dismissed, He continued the bestowal of this ἐξουσία. It represents miraculous power of healing generally (Mark 1:39, Mark 3:15). It is strange to think of Judas having ἐξουσία to cast out demons. In the Testaments (Benj. Mark 6:2), “If ye do well, even the unclean spirits will flee from you”; cf. Issachar vii. 7.

Verses 7-13


Matthew 10:1; Matthew 10:5-15. Luke 9:1-6

Verse 8

8. παρήγγειλεν. This charge seems to have been given once for all (aor.), before any were sent out. For ἵνα see on Mark 3:9.

εἰς ὁδόν. For a journey, for travel; cf. Mark 10:17; also ἐξ ὁδοῦ (Luke 11:6).

εἰ μὴ ῥάβδον. Mt. and Lk. say, on the contrary, that they were forbidden to take a staff; and Mt. says that they were forbidden to wear ὑποδήματα, which seems to contradict the command to wear σανδάλια. These discrepancies are of no moment. In all three Gospels the charge means, “Make no elaborate preparations, as if you were going a long journey on your own business; you are going a short journey on Mine.” Contrariis verbis eandem sententiam uterque expressit; Christum Apostolis praecepisse, ne quid haberent, praeter ea quae essent in praesentem usum necessaria (Maldonatus). The directions recall those for eating the Passover (Exodus 12:11; cf. Genesis 32:10).

μὴ ἄρτον κ.τ.λ. A climax; no food, no wallet for carrying food that might be given, no money for buying food. This is the order in [1333][1334][1335][1336][1337] 33. There is no mention of gold or silver; they were not likely to have any or be offered any. They might accept a meal, but they were to have no other provision. The πήρα is a bag for provisions, not for money, as the context shows. Cf. Judith 10:5. Mt. enlarges “copper for your purse” into “get no gold, nor yet silver, nor yet copper for your purses,” thus making one of his favourite triplets.

Verse 9

9. ἀλλὰ ὑποδεδεμένους σανδάλια. A violent anacoluthon, illustrating Mk’s want of literary skill, and showing how completely ἵνα after verbs of exhorting has become equivalent to the acc. c. infin. Mk goes on here as if he had used the acc. c. infin., for εἶναι or πορεύεσθαι is understood here. The identity of σανδάλια (Acts 12:8) and ὑποδήματα (Mark 1:7; Matthew 10:10; etc.) is clear, for both are used to translate the same Hebrew, naal (Joshua 9:5; Isaiah 20:2 and Exodus 3:5; Exodus 12:11). Here and in Acts, σανδάλια may have been preferred in order to avoid the unpleasing repetition, ὑποδέομαι ὑποδήματα.

΄ὴ ἐνδύσασθε. If this is the right reading, we have a change from or. obliqua to or. recta, as in Luke 5:14; Acts 23:22. Mark 11:32 is different. There is a similar change if we read ἐνδύσησθε (R.V.). We may take ἐνδύσασθαι as coordinate with the infin. understood with ὑποδεδεμένους, or as an infin. imperat. It is strange criticism to see in these broken constructions signs of clumsy copying from a document. They are signs of Mk writing just as he would talk. In Mt. the Twelve are forbidden to get two chitons, in Lk. to have two, in Mk to put on two. The χιτών was the less necessary garment, worn under the almost indispensable ἱμάτιον (Matthew 5:40; John 19:23); therefore a “shirt” rather than a “coat.” The Baptist told those who had two chitons to “give a share,” i.e. one of the two, to some one who had none (Luke 3:11). The high-priest rends “his chitons” (Mark 14:63), and two were sometimes worn in travelling (Joseph. Ant. XVII. Mark 6:7). We learn from Luke 22:35 that the Twelve found this very small outfit sufficient. Origen thinks that these regulations were not intended to be taken literally, and Bede interprets the prohibition of two chitons as an admonition non dupliciter sed simpliciter ambulare.

Verse 10

10. ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς. Mt. omits this imperf., which may be conversational, or may mean that this direction was repeated. Mk perhaps regards this as the earliest Christian missionary experiment, and hence records these directions as being of importance.

Ὅπου ἐάν. All three Evangelists record that the household first selected was not to be changed for one that seemed to be more eligible. “Go not from house to house” was said to the Seventy-two (Luke 10:7); and that is the meaning here. Calvin points out that forbidding change of domicile would prevent lingering in any one place. The Apostles would not like to become burdensome to their entertainers. Didache xi. 5 limits the stay to two days; see also Mark 12:2. The right to hospitality is recognized 1 Corinthians 9:14; and this use of a hospitable house as a missionary centre is the germ of ἡ κατʼ οἶκον αὐτῶν ἐκκλησία (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2).

Verse 11

11. ὃς ἂν τόπος. This principle would apply to the town and to any house in the town, and Mt. applies it both ways.

μηδὲ ἀκούσωσιν ὑμῶν. Nor even listen to you. Paul and Barnabas shake off the dust at Antioch in Pisidia, and Paul shakes out his raiment against the unbelieving Jews at Corinth (Acts 13:51; Acts 18:6). This dramatic action did not express personal resentment; it was a solemn declaration to those who rejected offers of grace that the person thus acting would make no more offers. He declined all further communication or responsibility. Pharisees are said to have performed this act on returning from pagan lands to Palestine; even the dust of heathendom was a pollution. Nehemiah 5:13 is different. Note the aor. imperat.; it is to be done at once.

εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς. For a testimony unto them (R.V.), not “against them” (A.V.). Cf. Mark 1:44, Mark 13:9. See crit. note. St Theresa is said to have done this at Salamanca.

Verse 12

12. ἐκήρυξανἐξέβαλλον. Their main duty is mentioned first and it is regarded as a whole (aor.): the healings were numerous, but occasional (imperf.).

ἵνα μετανοῶσιν. Cf. Mark 6:8 and see on Mark 3:9; but here something of the idea of purpose remains; “they preached in order to produce a condition of repentance.” See crit. note. The pres. subj. is better attested and gives a fuller meaning than the aor.

Verse 13

13. ἐλαίῳ. Oil was believed to have healing properties (Luke 10:34; James 5:14), and this would aid faith on both sides. See on John 9:6 and Knowling on James 5:14. This anointing for healing purposes is very different from that which is administered when healing is believed to be impossible and death imminent. It is mentioned nowhere else in the Gospels and seems not to have been employed by Christ. Mk says nothing about cleansing lepers or raising the dead (Matthew 10:8). Mt. may possibly have had some other source.

Verse 14

14. ἤκουσεν ὁ βασιλεύς. The proclamation of the Kingdom of God in seven different places in Galilee would make some stir, and this reached the ears of Antipas. Mt. and Lk. give him his correct title of “tetrarch,” a word which Mk never uses. Mk gives him the courtesy title of “king,” as Appian gives Deiotarus, tetrarch of Galatia, the title of king; so also Cicero, who defended him. Under Caligula, Antipas tried to get the formal title of “king,” and thereby brought about his own ruin. He is alluded to again Mark 8:15.

φανερὸν γὰρ ἐγένετο τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔλεγον. For His name had become known (R.V.), and they had been saying. See crit. note, and on Mark 5:8. This does not mean that Antipas had never heard even the name of Jesus until now. In his conversations with the Baptist (Mark 6:20) Jesus had probably been mentioned; but now everyone was talking about Him. It was these rumours which excited Herod, and his remark comes in Mark 6:16. For ὁ βαπτίζων see on Mark 1:4.

ἐγήγερται. “Has been raised and remains alive”; the true perf. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:12-13; 1 Corinthians 15:16; 1 Corinthians 15:20. In this phrase νεκρῶν commonly has no art. (Mark 9:9-10, Mark 12:25, etc.). Origen suggests that there was a personal resemblance between Jesus and John.

διὰ τοῦτο. This argument would apply to anyone who has risen from the dead. During his lifetime John did no “sign” (John 10:41); but a person who had returned from the grave might be expected to do wonderful things.

ἐνεργοῦσιν. Work in him (R.V.). This intrans. use occurs in the Gospels here and Matthew 14:2 only; cf. Galatians 2:8; Ephesians 2:2. The verb seems to have acquired a special use to express supernatural activity. J. A. Robinson, Ephesians, pp. 241 f.

αἱ δυνάμεις. The powers which Jesus was said to exhibit; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 12:28-29. A.V. again ignores the art. (see on Mark 4:3) and translates “mighty works,” which is right Mark 6:2; Mark 6:5, Mark 9:39, but not here. See Lightfoot on Galatians 3:5.

Verses 14-29


Matthew 14:1-12. Luke 9:7-9; Luke 3:19-20

Verse 15

15. ἄλλοι δέ. In both places we must read δέ after ἄλλοι ([1338][1339][1340][1341][1342][1343][1344]), and omit the rather senseless before ὡς ([1345][1346][1347][1348][1349][1350]). But others had a different explanation of the miraculous powers; they said that it is Elijah who has returned to earth; while others said a prophet, as one of the Prophets, equal in dignity with Isaiah and Jeremiah. The chief contrast is between those who said that it was John and those who said it was someone else; therefore the first δέ must be “but”: the second may be “while” or “and.” See on John 1:21 for Jewish beliefs about Prophets returning to life.

Verse 16

16. ἀκούσας. After Antipas had heard all these theories, he decided for the one which touched him most nearly: the pronouns are emphatic. “John whom I beheaded, he is risen”; or perhaps, “John whom I beheaded, is he risen?” Cf. the question in Luke 9:9 : ὁ φονεύσας φοβεῖται τὸν φονευμένοντοιοῦτος γὰρ ὁ κακός (Euthym.). The late verb ἀποκεφαλίζω is used by all three of the beheading of John; elsewhere in Bibl. Grk only Psalms 151:7 of David and Goliath. Vulg. has decollo, which is mostly post-class. With Antipas the main thought is that decapitation proved ineffectual (aor.); with the people (Mark 6:14) it was that John is more active than ever (perf.).

Verse 17

17. αὐτὸς γὰρ Ἡρῴδης. This confirms the emphatic ἐγώ of Antipas; For it was Herod himself who sent and laid hold on cf. John 3:21.

ἐν φυλακῇ. Josephus (Ant. XVIII. Mark 6:4) tells us that this was Machaerus, near the N.E. corner of the Dead Sea, a fortress, palace, and prison all in one, like that of the Popes at Avignon. It was close to the wilderness of Judaea. Tristram, Discoveries East of the Dead Sea, ch. 14.

Φιλίππου, Not the son of Herod the Great by Cleopatra (Luke 3:1), but his son by Mariamne the daughter of Simon. It is possible that Mk is in error in calling him Philip (Joseph. Ant. XVIII. Mark 6:4); but, if so, it is of no moment. Antipas divorced the daughter of Aretas IV., king of Arabia Petraea, in order to marry Herodias, for which insult Aretas afterwards attacked and defeated Antipas; see on 2 Corinthians 11:32. Herodias was a granddaughter of Herod the Great, and therefore niece of both Antipas and Philip.

Verse 18

18. ἔλεγεν γάρ. For John had said (A.V.) or “had been saying” (see on Mark 5:8), is here more accurate than “for John said” (R.V.). In Mark 6:17, R.V. agrees with A.V. in “for he had married her.” The English pluperf. is right in both cases.

Οὐκ ἔξεστιν. Leviticus 18:16 admitted of one exception—where the brother was dead and had left no son. Philip was still alive. It is not said that the divorce of the daughter of Aretas was a bar to the marriage with Herodias. Josephus says that Antipas imprisoned John because of his great influence; he might cause a revolution. That was the reason publicly given for putting John in prison, and Antipas perhaps really feared disturbance; he could not avow his private reason. John seems to have been leniently treated; he was allowed to receive visits (Matthew 11:2 f.; Luke 7:18 f.), and Antipas himself conversed with him (Mark 6:20). There is nothing to suggest that John had publicly denounced Antipas; rather that he had privately remonstrated with him. Aenon (John 3:23) was close to Tiberias, and John could easily visit Antipas. For ἔχειν = “marry” cf. Mark 12:23; 1 Corinthians 5:1.

Verse 19

19. ἡ δὲ Ἡρῳδιὰς ἐνεῖχεν αὐτῷ. Antipas would have been content with imprisoning John, but Herodias nursed enmity against him. Neither “therefore” (A.V.) nor “and” (R.V.) gives the force of δέ, which marks a contrast between what Herod himself did (Mark 6:17) and what Herodias did. The only parallel in Bibl. Grk to this intrans. use of ἐνέχω is the accidental iambus ἐνεῖχον αὐτῷ κύριοι τοξευμάτων (Genesis 49:23), where Vulg. has inviderunt illi, although elsewhere Jerome has irascebantur adversus eum. Here Vulg. has insidiabatur, whence the “laid wait” of earlier versions. Beza has imminebat. It may be doubted whether ἔχθραν, or χόλον (which Hdt. expresses i. 118, vi. 119, viii. 27) is to be understood. But ἐπέχων, sc. τὸν νοῦν (Luke 14:7; &c.), suggests that here there is some forgotten ellipse. The provincialism, “to have it in for a man” or “with a man,” i.e. to be on bad terms with him, is parallel. “Had an inward grudge” (A.V. marg.) is near the mark. The imperfects (Mark 6:18-20) are quite in place; the rebukes of John, the resentment and malignity of Herodias, and the fears of Antipas were continual, just as in the case of Elijah, Jezebel, and Ahab.

καὶ οὐκ ἐδύνατο. We might have expected ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐδύνατο. This adversative use of καί is perhaps Hebraistic. Cf. Mark 12:12.

Verse 20

20. Ἡρῴδης ἐφοβεῖτο τ. Ἰωάννην. Argumentum verae religionis timor malorum (Beng.). Cf. Felix and Paul (Acts 24:25). Herod instinctively felt (εἰδώς) the sanctity of John. Δίκαιος, freq. in Mt. and Lk., is used elsewhere by Mk only Mark 2:17, and he nowhere else uses ἅγιος of a man. Acts 3:14 we have τ. ἅγιον καὶ δίκαιον.

συνετήρει αὐτόν. Kept him safe (R.V.), custodiebat eum (Vulg.), rather than “observed him” (A.V.), which is tautological with what follows; it explains οὐκ ἐδύνατο. Herodias could never compass John’s death, because Antipas had him safely guarded (Tobit 3:15; 2 Maccabees 12:42). This is against the theory that the oath of Antipas was “pre-arranged.” The imperfects in this verse seem to form a climax.

πολλὰ ἠπόρει. See crit. note. The familiar “he did many things,” multa faciebat (Vulg.), is vague. Lagrange says that, taken with what follows, ἐποίει is absolument banal. If it means that he did many things at John’s bidding, the brevity is surprising. Hence Syr-Sin. has “and many things he heard from him he did.” The objection that “was much perplexed” would require πολλὰ ἠπορεῖτο does not hold in Bibl. Grk. Luke 9:7 we have διηπόρει, Wisdom of Solomon 11:5; Wisdom of Solomon 11:17 we have ἀποροῦντες εὐεργετήθησαν and οὐ γὰρ ἠπόρει ἡ παντοδύναμὸς σου χείρ. The objection would not hold even in class. Grk. τὸ δʼ ἀπορεῖν ἀνδρὸς κακοῦ (Eur. Herc. Fur. 106); ἀποροῦντες οὖν ταῦτα οἱ, Αργεῖοι (Thuc. Mark 6:40); cf. Hdt. iii. 4, iv. 179, vi. 34. What is true is that ἀπορεῖσθαι is more freq. than ἀπορεῖν. Was much perplexed between his respect for John and his passion for Herodias, between conscience and inclination, makes excellent sense. But Nestle (Text. Crit. of Grk T., p. 274) is a little inclined to follow Field and Burkitt in preferring ἐποίει.

ἡδέως αὐτοῦ ἤκουεν. Antipas could appreciate the loftiness and vigour of John’s mind, so different from those with whom he daily lived; he used to hear him gladly.

Verse 21

21. γενομένης ἡμέρας εὐκαίρου. Mk has the deadly enmity of Herodias in mind. She was always on the watch, and at last found an opportune day. Cf. Hebrews 4:16.

τοῖς γενεσίοις αὐτοῦ. On his birthday. This meaning is firmly established, although in Attic Grk we should have τὰ γενέθλια or ἡ γενέθλιος ἡμέρα (2 Maccabees 6:7). Hdt. iv. 26 shows that τὰ γενέσια meant a festival in commemoration of a dead person. But in late Grk the distinction was not strictly observed. Joseph. Ant. XII. iv. 7 we have ἑορτάζοντες τὴν γενέσιον ἡμέραν τοῦ παιδίον, at the birth of a son to Ptolemy Epiphanes. On the other hand, Plutarch uses γενέθλια of commemoration of the dead. In papyri, γενέσια seems always to mean “birth-day fête.” Christianity tended to obliterate the distinction between the two words by regarding the death of the faithful as their birthday into eternal life (Mart. Pol. 18; Tert. De Coron. 3, Scorp. 15). Seneca (Ep. cii. 24) has the same thought; Dies iste, quem tanquam extremum reformidas, aeterni natalis est. On the proposal to make τὰ γενέσια the anniversary of Herod’s accession see Schürer, Jewish People I. ii. p. 26 note. Origen and Jerome condemn the keeping of birthdays; no good man in Scripture keeps them, but only Pharaoh and Herod.

δεῖπνον ἐποίησεν. At Machaerus; there is no ground for thinking that Mk places the banquet at Tiberias; see Schürer, loc. cit.

τοῖς μεγιστᾶσιν κ.τ.λ. The three classes are civil magistrates, military officers, and leading men. The chiliarchs are his own officers, not Roman tribunes. Elsewhere we have πρῶτοι τοῦ λαοῦ (Luke 19:47), τῆς πόλεως, τῶν Ἰουδαίων, τῆς νήσου (Acts 13:50; Acts 25:2; Acts 28:7; Acts 28:17). In the later books of O.T. μεγιστᾶνες is freq., and Vulg. varies greatly in translation; principes, magnates, fortes, optimates, magnifici, etc.

Verse 22

22. τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς τῆς Ἡρ. See crit. note. Her name was Salome (Joseph. Ant. XVIII. Mark 6:4), daughter of Herodias by Philip. That Herodias should degrade her daughter, to satisfy her own hatred of John, is credible. That Antipas should suffer his daughter to be thus degraded, to please his guests, is not credible. Moreover, a child of Antipas and Herodias could be only about two years old. If αὐτοῦ Ἡρῳδιάδος be accepted as original, Mk has made a mistake.

ἤρεσεν. We have a similar constr. after a gen. abs. Matthew 1:18.

τῷ κορασίῳ. Not a term of disparagement; Mark 5:41; Ruth 2:8; Ruth 2:22.

Αἴτησόν με ὅ. The double acc. is freq.; Matthew 7:9; John 16:23; etc.

Verse 23

23. ἕως ἡμίσους τ. βασ. μ. Cf. Ahasuerus and Esther (Esther 5:2-3), a story which may have influenced this narrative. But, in his cups, Antipas would not stop to consider whether he could give away his dominions. Cf. 1 Kings 13:8. The contracted gen. is late Greek.

Verse 24

24. ἐξελθοῦσα. Syr-Sin. inserts “she took counsel with.” In Mt. she replies at once without going out.

Τί αἰτήσωμαι; What am I to ask for myself? Delib. subj. midd. The change from αἴτησον, αἰτήσῃς to αἰτήσωμαι, ᾐτήσατο (Mark 6:25) marks a slight change of meaning. Salome’s personal gain in the transaction is indicated by the midd. (Mark 15:8; Mark 15:43). Cf. Mark 10:35; Mark 10:38; John 16:26; 1 John 5:15; James 4:2-3.

Verse 25

25. μετὰ σπουδῆς. Almost superfluous after εὐθύς, but it emphasizes her intense eagerness. She is as keen as her mother for vengeance, and Antipas might change his mind. Superfluous additions are frequent in Mk. See on Mark 1:32. We have μετὰ σπουδῆς, Luke 1:39; but neither ἐν σπουδῇ (in this sense), nor ἐπὶ σπουδῆς, nor κατὰ σπουδήν is found in N.T. Syr-Sin. omits μετὰ σπουδῆς here.

Θέλω ἵνα. Cf. Mark 10:35, and (without ἵνα) Mark 10:36; Mark 10:51, etc.

ἐξαυτῆς. Sc. τῆς ὥρας. This again emphasizes the passion with which she presses home her ghastly request,—matre vili filia vilior. A.V. has “by and by,” which is now misleading. Formerly, it meant “instantly.” and that is what Salome demands; now it means “not instantly.” Except in Acts, ἐξαυτῆς is rare in N.T., and it does not occur in LXX.

ἐπὶ πίνακι. She makes clear that the head is to be off. Vulg. here has discus, a rare word in the sense of “dish,” but in Luke 11:39 it has catinus. Other words for dish are παροψίς (Matthew 23:25-26) and τρύβλιον (Matthew 26:23), where Vulg. has parapsis for both, but catinus for τρύβλιον (Mark 14:20). The distinction between dishes and plates was probably not yet made. Hom. Od. i. 141.

τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ. Only here and Mark 8:28 does Mk use this term; elsewhere ὁ βαπτίζων. See on Mark 1:4.

Verse 26

26. περίλυπος. Contristatus (Vulg. here and Luke 18:24) but, when it is used of the Agony (Mark 14:34; Matthew 26:28), simply tristis. The compound implies extreme grief, “wrapped in distress,” “grieved all round”: cf. περιδεής, περικαλλής, περικλυτός. Mt. shows his dependence on Mk by saying that the king was grieved, which is inconsistent with his statement that Herod wished to kill John. Strangely enough, Vulg. has contristrare here for ἀθετῆσαι as well as for περίλυπος. The participle is concessive; although the king was deeply distressed.

διὰ τοὺς ὅρκους. The oath was repeated (2 Maccabees 4:34; 2 Maccabees 7:24 : Hdt. i. 146, vi. 62). Ὁ ἀνόητος καὶ ἐρωτόληπτος Ἡρῴδης δέδοικε τοὺς ὅρκους· ἔδει δὲ ἐπιορκῆσαι (Theoph.). Scelus excusat juramento, ut sub occasione pietatis impius fieret (Bede).

“A sin it were to swear unto a sin,

But greater sin to keep a sinful oath.”

Comp. the ἀτελέστατος ὅρκος of Ptolemy Philopator (3 Maccabees 5:42).

ἀθετῆσαι. Lit. “to displace what has been placed,” and therefore more applicable to his oath than the girl; hence it is far more often used of things (Mark 7:9; 1 Corinthians 1:19; Galatians 2:21; Galatians 3:15; 1 Timothy 5:12; etc.) than of persons (Luke 10:16; John 12:48). Field suggests “disappoint,” quoting Psalms 15:5, where LXX. has ἀθετῶν. In LXX. it translates seventeen Hebrew words. Syr-Sin. has “he could not change.”

Verse 27

27. εὐθὺς ἀποστείλας. He allows himself no time for consideration. Mk has his usual verb, while Mt. has πέμψας. See on Mark 5:12, where the converse is found.

σπεκουλάτορα. Antipas followed the Roman custom of having speculatores as in having tribunes (Mark 6:21). Each legion had several. The name shows that they were originally scouts, and the form spiculator, as if from spiculum, is misleading. The speculatores carried despatches (Livy xxxi. 24; Tac. Hist. ii. 73); and they sometimes formed a body-guard (Suet. Claud. 35) and acted as executioners (Seneca De ira i. 16, De benef. iii. 25). Cf. Suet. Calig. 32, where miles decollandi artifex quibuscunque e custodia capita amputabat. At Athens the public executioner was ὁ δήμιος sc. δοῦλος, at Rome, carnifex. Wetstein on Matthew 14:11 gives numerous instances of executions at a banquet. Here the contrast between the ascetic Prophet and the profligate ruler who puts him to death is tragic.

ἐπέταξεν ἐνέγκαι. Commanded to bring (R.V.). See crit. note.

Verse 28

28. ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς. We may compare Fulvia with the head of Cicero. Stories about the discovery of the Baptist’s head and its removal to Constantinople (Sozomen H. E. vii. 21) and its subsequent removal to Amiens, may be disregarded (Dict. of Chr. Ant. I. p. 883). The history of the head ends here; but it was necessary to record the burial of the body in order to complete the explanation of the fear of Antipas, οὗτος ἠγέρθη (Mark 6:16).

Verse 29

29. οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ. Antipas would try to lessen his remorse by allowing John’s disciples to come and remove the corpse.

τὸ πτῶμα. Used also of the Body of Jesus (Mark 15:45), and it is possible that a parallel between the death and burial of the Forerunner and the death and burial of the Messiah is intended. Cf. Matthew 24:28 and esp. Revelation 11:8-9. John’s disciples would probably take his body far away from Machaerus and from the dominions of Antipas. The bones which were dug up at Samaria and burnt in the time of Julian (Thdrt H. E. iii. 3) may have been his. Legends about the body, as about the head, would multiply as the craze for relics increased. In class. Grk πτῶμα commonly has a gen., πτῶμα Ἑλένης, πτώματα νεκρῶν. Polybius uses the word of the ruins of buildings. The commemoration of the martyrdom, 29 Aug., is early.

The 2nd aor. with 1st aor. termination, ἦλθαν, is here well attested: also ἀνέπεσαν (Mark 6:40), εἶδαν (Mark 6:50). See on εἴδαμεν, Mark 2:12.

Verse 30

30. οἱ ἀπόστολοι. Mk used the title Mark 3:14 by anticipation; here it is in place after their return from their first missionary journey, but Mk does not use it again. Οἱ ἀπόστολοι is freq. in Lk. and Acts; in all four Gospels οἱ δώδεκα is freq. It is probable that a date had been fixed for the return of the Apostles, and they arrived about the time when John’s disciples reported his death. Mt. makes this report the cause of Christ’s withdrawal.

ὅσα ἐποίησαν. Not unnaturally, they put their deeds, including miracles, before their teaching. Cf. Luke 10:17. Christ’s estimate made the miracles secondary. Syr-Sin. has “what he (John) had done and taught.” Cf. Acts 1:1.

Verses 30-44


Matthew 14:13-21. Luke 9:10-17. John 6:1-14.

Verse 31

31. ὑμεῖς αὐτοί. You yourselves, or you by yourselves. The former rendering implies that others are resting, and now the missionaries themselves must rest. But who are these others? Syr-Sin, omits the words.

ὀλίγον. Only a short breathing time is possible. The compound and the aor. ἀναπαύσασθε imply that relaxation and not cessation is meant, refreshment and not final rest. Lightfoot on Philemon 1:7. [1351][1352][1353] etc. have ἀναπαύεσθε.

ἦσαν γὰρπολλοί. For those who were coming and those who were going were many, and between the two there was no leisure even for meals. Mt., as usual, is silent about the pressure of the crowds; see on Mark 3:9; Mark 3:20.

εὐκαίρουν. Here Vulg. has spatium habebant, Acts 17:21 vacabant, 1 Corinthians 16:12 ei vacuum, fuerit. Not found in LXX.

Verse 32

32. ἀπῆλθον ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ. They went away in their boat (art. as in Mark 4:36) to an uninhabited spot (Mk, Mt.), to a town called Bethsaida (Lk.). The difference is insignificant, and there need be no error. They may have left their boat near the town and have gone into the country. Lk. (Luke 9:12) does not suppose that the miracle took place in a town. The Bethsaida of Lk. is Bethsaida Julias, E. of the Jordan, near the place where it flows into the Lake. The existence of another Bethsaida on the lake W. of the Jordan is doubtful; see on Mark 6:45. The repetition of Christ’s κατʼ ἰδίαν and εἰς ἔρημον τόπον marks the exact compliance with His request. Nothing is said about fear of Antipas.

Verse 33

33. καὶ εἶδον πολλοί. See on Mark 6:29. The direction in which they sailed would be seen, and perhaps the whole course of the boat was visible from the shore. Christ’s presence in the boat might be distinguishable at times.

πεζῆ. By land (R.V. marg.) as distinct from “by boat,” but nearly all of them would go on foot (R.V.). Except in this narrative, πεζῇ is not found in N.T. Cf. πεζεύω (Acts 20:13).

συνέδραμον ἐκεῖ. They ran there together (R.V.), fresh groups joining them as they hurried along the shore.

προῆλθον αὐτούς. See crit. note. Although the distance by land was more than double, they might arrive before a boat, if the wind was contrary. Cf. Luke 22:47; ἔφθασαν αὐτούς would be better Greek; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; Wisdom of Solomon 6:13; Wisdom of Solomon 16:28. Mk alone has συνέδραμον κ. προῆλθον, and it does not agree with John 6:3; John 6:5, which says that Christ and the disciples sat on the heights and watched the multitude coming. Christ then foresaw that much food would be required. Syr-Sin. omits the words.

Verse 34

34. ἐξελθὼν εἶδεν. This does not mean that He saw no multitude till He left the boat; He would see them from the boat. But now the sight excites compassion and leads to action. Mk, as usual, has ὄχλον, not ὄχλους. See on Mark 2:4. It is instructive to note how each Evangelist uses his favourite expressions.

ἐσπλαγχνίσθη ἐπʼ αὐτούς. See on Mark 1:41 and cf. Mark 8:2, Mark 9:22. They had frustrated His purpose (Mark 6:31), yet His compassion at once went out to them; or (as Lk.’s favourite ἀποδεξάμενος puts it) He welcomed them; and the physician adds, that “He healed (ἰᾶτο) those who had need of treatment.” All this is evidence of the reality of Christ’s human nature. He might have prevented the frustration of His purpose.

ὡς πρόβατα μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα. A proverbial expression (Numbers 27:17; 1 Kings 22:17; 2 Chronicles 18:16; Judith 11:19). Cf. Ezekiel 34:5; Ezekiel 34:8, which is parallel to this; in both cases it is a faithful and capable spiritual shepherd which God’s people need, a true successor of Moses (Numbers 27:17 f.). The people ran after Christ in order to see others healed (John 6:2). As usual (see on Mark 2:4), we have μή, not οὐ, with a participle; but we might have μή in class. Grk.

ἤρξατο διδάσκειν. This was their primary need. Some had never heard Him before, and all had the first elements of true religion to learn; so “He began to teach them many things.” Here, as in Mark 5:26, πολλά is cogn. acc. rather than adverbial, multa not multum. For this Mt. (Matthew 14:15) substitutes “He healed their sick,” a change which he makes in Matthew 19:2 = Mark 10:1 and in Matthew 21:14-15 = Mark 11:17-18. Here Lk. has both the teaching and the healing.

Verse 35

35. ἤδη ὥρας πολλῆς γενομένης. When it was already a late hour, but not yet ὀψία (Mark 6:47). The expression is found in Pol. Mark 6:8, “Philip arrived at a late hour (πολλῆς ὥρας) at Thermus”; and in Dion. Hal. Ant. ii. 54, “They fought till a late hour (ἄχρι πολλῆς ὥρας) contending vigorously, until night overtook them and separated them.” In Latin we have multus dies, for multa hora would be ambiguous; multo denique die Caesar cognovit (Caes. B.G. i. 22); multus sermo ad multum diem (Cic. Att. xiii. 9).

οἱ μαθηταί. The Synoptists represent the disciples as taking the initiative; in Jn, Christ does so by addressing a testing question to Philip. He thinks of their physical, as well as of their spiritual needs. Mt., as often, omits the imperf. ἔλεγον.

Verse 36

36. ἀπόλυσον. Send away, as Mark 6:45, and Mark 8:3; Mark 8:9 of the 4000. The verb is used of individuals (Mark 10:2, Mark 15:6), and does not imply dispersion.

τοὺς κύκλῳ ἀγροὺς κ. κώμας. The farms (Mark 5:14) and villages round about; κύκλῳ belongs to both nouns; cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 3:7. These would be nearer than Bethsaida. [1354] Latt. read ἔγγιστα for κύκλῳ, proximas villas et vicos. In strict grammar the art. ought to be repeated (τοὺς ἀγροὺς τῆς πόλεως καὶ τὰς κώμας αὐτῆς, Joshua 21:12); but where the nouns are similar in meaning although different in gender, the art. of the first suffices (Luke 1:6; Luke 14:23; Colossians 2:22; Revelation 5:12).

τί φάγωσιν. See crit. note and cf. Mark 8:2; Luke 17:8.

Verse 37

37. Δότε αὐτοῖς ὑμεῖς. The very emphatic ὑμεῖς is in all three; “They are not to be sent away; you must feed them.”

Ἀπελθόντες ἀγοράσωμεν; Are we to go and buy? Cf. Mark 4:30, Mark 6:24, Mark 12:14. Jn here differs considerably and is more precise than the Synoptists, whose narrative seems to be partly a condensation of what Jn reports as having taken place between our Lord and Philip and Andrew.

δηναρίων διακοσίων. Mt. omits this, as he omits “about 2000” (Mark 5:13) and “300 denarii” (Mark 14:5). The retention in R.V. of “penny” for δηνάριον is as deplorable as that of “publican” for τελὼνης. In amount of silver a denarius was nearly a shilling, in purchasing power it was more than a florin (Matthew 20:2 f.). To speak of 200 pennyworths to feed 5000 people is so incongruous as to be almost grotesque. The “two pence” of the Good Samaritan and the “penny a day” of the owner of the vineyard make them seem niggardly instead of generous. In Revelation 6:6, maximum prices are turned into incredibly low prices by the translation “penny.” The meaning here is “A sum far greater than Judas carries for us would be quite insufficient.” Lk. inserts an emphatic ἡμεῖς answering to Christ’s ὑμεῖς. The question suggests that what Christ has ordered is impossible; οἱ δὲ καταμέμφονται αὐτὸν ὡς μὴ γνόντα (Theoph.).

Verse 38

38. Πόσους ἔχετε ἄρτους; ὑπάγετε, ἴδετε. The question and abrupt commands are a rebuke. “Never mind what is impossible; see what is possible. How much food have we got?” In Jn the suggestion of buying comes from Christ. Mk alone records the question and commands. Mt. again omits what seems to imply a limitation of Christ’s knowledge and power. See on Mark 6:5. The rendering “loaves” must not be disturbed; but the ἄρτοι resembled biscuits or oatcake rather than our own loaves.

ὑπάγετε, ἴδετε. The asyndeton is characteristic; Mark 1:41, Mark 4:40, Mark 5:36, Mark 8:17-18, Mark 9:19, Mark 10:14.

γνόντες. Having ascertained. Jn is far more definite. Andrew had found a lad who had five barley loaves and two fishes, which seems to imply that the disciples had no food with them. Philip and Andrew, as coming from Bethsaida, would know people in the crowd and would have some idea of the resources of the neighbourhood. The Fathers often find mystical meanings in numbers and do so here with “five” and “two”; e.g. the five Books of the Law with the Psalms and the Prophets, or with the Gospel and the Apostle.

δύο ἰχθύας. Dried or salted fish were often eaten as a relish (ὀψώνιον, προσφάγιον) with bread, so much so that these words may mean “fish”; see on John 6:9; John 21:5. Cf. πᾶν τὸ ὄψος (? ὄψον) τῆς θαλάσσης (Numbers 11:22).

Verse 39

39. ἀνακλῖναι πάντας. That all should recline. If the people had stood, they would have crowded round the distributors, and equal distribution would have been impossible. Arranging them in “messes” (τραπέζας διαφόρους, Theoph.) still further contributed to orderly and equal feeding.

συμπόσια. Lit. “drinking-parties,” and then any gatherings for taking refreshment. Hence the addition of οἴνου (Sirach 31:31; Sirach 32:5; Sirach 49:1) when drinking is specially meant. Cicero has compotatio, but the usual words are commissatio and convivium. Vulg. has secundum contubernia here and in partes for πρασιαὶ πρασιαί. The reduplication (see on δύο δύο, Mark 6:7) should be similarly rendered in both verses; but A.V. and R.V. have “by companies” and “in ranks.” Company by company and rank by rank preserves the reduplication and the similarity of construction.

ἐπὶ τῷ χλωρῷ χόρτῳ. The desert was not sand, but prairie, and the green grass confirms Jn’s mention of a Passover here. Contrast Clem. Recog. ii. 70, iii. 30.

Verse 40

40. πρασιαί. Lit. “garden-beds” (Sirach 24:31) or “plots.” The word indicates the shape of the “messes,” and perhaps implies that they were rectangular (Euthym.). See Wetstein for illustrations and cf. Exodus 8:14.

κατὰ ἑκατὸν κ. κ. π. All four give the total as 5000 males, which would easily be estimated by counting the συμπόσια.

Verse 41

41. λαβὼν τ. πέντε ἄρτους κ.τ.λ. Cf. λαβὼν ἄρτον εὐλογήσας ἔκλασεν κ. ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς (Mark 14:22). He is now the host (Luke 24:30), with His staff of servants, and with what in His hands was a sufficient supply of food, and as such He utters the usual blessing and directs everything. The gifts are His, bestowed, however, not directly, but through the Twelve, εὐσχημόνως καὶ κατὰ τάξιν, and herein we have the germ of Church organization.

ἀναβλέψας. In all three; cf. Mark 7:34; John 11:41.

εὐλόγησεν, In all three; Jn has the equivalent εὐχαριστήσας. Both verbs are used of the Eucharist (Mark 14:22-23). The “grace” at meals was virtually a thanksgiving; “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, who bringest forth bread out of the earth.”

κατέκλασεν. He broke in pieces; zerbrach. Mt. has simply κλάσας, and all three, with Paul, have ἔκλασεν of the Eucharist. The compound occurs nowhere else in N.T. The breaking was part of the ceremony of saying grace and was done once (aor.). The breaking in pieces indicated the completeness of the munificence; διάθρυπτε πεινῶντι τὸν ἄρτον σου (Isaiah 58:7).

ἐδίδου. The giving continued (imperf.), either to each Apostle in turn, or to all of them as they returned for fresh supplies, if they did return. The manner of the multiplication is not revealed, and conjectures are futile. We are told that it “must have taken place in the hands of the Apostles.” “Must” is out of place in such matters. “His disciples” (A.V.) is as correct as “the disciples” (R.V.): cf. Mark 4:26; Mark 4:36, Mark 6:32. Note the πᾶσιν and the πάντες following. The disciples’ share in the work would impress the events on their memory (Euthym.), but they did not see its significance.

Verse 42

42. ἐχορτάσθησαν. In all three; Jn has ἐνεπλήσθησαν. Originally used of supplying animals with fodder (χόρτος), χορτάζω implied brutish feeding when used of men (Plato Rep. ix. p. 586). In N.T. it is nowhere used of cattle (of birds, Revelation 19:21), and has no degrading meaning when used of men (Mark 7:27, Mark 8:4; Mark 8:8; etc.). In LXX. χορτάζω and πίμπλημι translate the same Hebrew word, even in the same verse (Psalms 107:9).

Verse 43

43. ἦραν κλάσματα. See crit. note. Jn tells us that it was by the Entertainer’s order that this security against waste was taken; a remarkable order to come from One who had just fed 5000 with the food for five, and an order not likely to be invented by a writer of fiction. The amount saved far exceeded the amount supplied by the lad, but Christ did not allow it to be wasted. And the fragments are of the loaves and fishes; nothing new has been created.

κοφίνων. The word always used of this miracle, σφυρίδες being always used of feeding the 4000. The κόφινος was the wallet in which travelling Jews carried provisions, to avoid eating Gentile food; Judaeis quorum cophinus foenumque supellex (Juv. iii. 14), Cophino foenoque relicto Arcanam Judaea tremens mendicat in aurem (Ib. vi. 542). A σφυρίς would hold a man (Acts 9:25). Wiclif has “coffyns” here and Mark 8:19.

Verse 44

44. ἄνδρες. In all four; men; ἄνθρωποι. would be “people,” including women and children, whom Mt. mentions separately. Mt., Lk., and Jn have ὡσεί or ὡς before πεντακισχίλιοι.

The attempts to explain away the miracle as a myth, or a parable, or a gross exaggeration, are very unsatisfying. The first Temptation, as recorded by Mt. and Lk. (Luke a narrative which must have had its origin in Christ Himself), points strongly to His having powers such as are indicated here. He would not have put His temptation into a form that implied that He had power which He knew that He did not possess. At the time when He told the disciples about His temptations experience would have taught Him whether there was the supposed limit to His supernatural power. We are not in a position to draw a hard and fast line between what is only unknown and what is certainly impossible. This consideration applies also to the narrative which immediately follows.

Verse 45

45. εὐθὺς ἠνάγκασεν τ. μαθητάς. Jn again differs considerably from the Synoptists. They say that He sent away the disciples and then dismissed the multitude. He says that Christ escaped from the people without dismissing them. But Jn shows why Christ insisted upon the disciples going away at once. There was a tradition that the Messiah would feed Israel with bread from heaven as Moses had done. Even without that belief, the miracle that had saved them from exhaustion in the wilderness might lead to the conclusion that Jesus was the Messiah, and their idea of the Messiah was that of an earthly conqueror and king. Jesus must be made to declare Himself as such. The disciples might be inclined to join such a movement (Luke 19:39); and to save them from such disastrous enthusiasm, Christ compelled them to leave Him. Compulsion was necessary, for they had only recently returned to Him, and this time they were being sent away without any mission. Mk’s interest is centred in what Christ did; Jn’s narrative is concerned with what the disciples did.

ἐμβῆναι καὶ προάγειν. The combination of tenses is unusual; cf. γαμῆσαι ἢ πυροῦσθαι (1 Corinthians 7:9).

εἰς τὸ πέραν πρὸς Βηθσαϊδάν. Mt. omits πρὸς [1355] possibly because it seemed to contradict the tradition that the Feeding took place near Bethsaida. Jn says ἤρχοντο πέραν τῆς θαλάσσης πρὸς Καφαρναούμ, and both Mk (Mark 6:53) and Mt. (Mark 14:34) say that they came to land εἰς Γεννησαρέτ. This has led some to suppose that there was another Bethsaida, on the W. shore of the Lake, near Capernaum. The existence of this Bethsaida is doubtful (Hastings’ D.B., Enc. Bibl. art. “Bethsaida”), but it may be admitted as a possibility (D.C.G.). The improbability of two places called “Fishinghouse” near to one another is not great. There are three Torringtons and two Little-hams in Devon. But if we reject the W. Bethsaida, then εἰς τὸ πέραν does not mean across the Lake, but across the bay which separates the scene of the Feeding from Bethsaida Julias. The storm prevented them from reaching Bethsaida, and they went homewards to Capernaum. To render πρὸς [1356] “looking towards [1357] i.e. opposite [1358] or take πρὸς [1359] with ἀπολύει, is not admissible.

ἕως αὐτὸς ἀπολύει. See crit. note and cf. John 21:22; 1 Timothy 4:13. While He Himself sendeth the multitude away (R.V.). Then He is to rejoin them, as προάγειν implies, and this is against Bethsaida being on the W. shore. The distance round the [1360] end of the Lake would be very considerable, while that round the little bay would be only a moderate walk. For τὸν ὄχλον Mt. has τοὺς ὄχλους. See on Mark 2:4.

Verses 45-52


Matthew 14:22-33. John 6:16-21

Verse 46

46. ἀποταξάμενος αὐτοῖς. After He had taken leave of them (R.V.), parting from them in a friendly way (Luke 9:61; Acts 18:21). Mt. loses this point, and Beza gives just the wrong shade of meaning, quum amandasset eos, which implies dismissing with contempt. Vulg. points to a text with ἀπολύσας αὐτούς, dum dimitteret populum. Cum dimisisset eos. Elsewhere Vulg. renders ἀποτάσσομαι vale facio or renuncio.

εἰς τὸ ὄρος προσεύξασθαι. The human nature of our Lord is again conspicuous, not merely in His praying, but in His seeking solitude at sunset on the mountain side as a help to prayer, σχολῆς γὰρ καὶ ἀταραξίας δεῖται ἡ προσευχή (Theoph.). Jn mentions these accessories, but not the prayer. On two other occasions Mk records that Christ prayed, the first day’s work at Capernaum (Mark 1:35) and the last night’s Agony (Mark 14:35).

Verse 47

47. ὀψίας γενομένης. It was late in the day (Mark 6:35) when arrangements for the Feeding began, and now the brief twilight was ending in darkness.

ἐν μέσῳ τῆς θαλάσσης. See on John 6:17.

Verse 48

48. ἰδὼν αὐτοὺς βασανιζομένους. There is no need to suppose supernatural power of sight. The Paschal moon would give light enough. See on Mark 5:7. Syr-Sin. has “tormented with the fear of the waves.”

ἐν τῷ ἐλαύνειν.See on Mark 4:4. It was too stormy for sailing, and for hours they had been rowing against the wind making very little progress. Syr-Sin. omits.

τετάρτην φυλακήν. Mk (Mark 13:35) and Mt. (Mark 14:25) follow the Roman division into four watches. Lk. (Luke 12:38) probably follows the Jewish division into three (Judges 7:19); but see Acts 12:4. Syr-Sin, omits the mention of the hour.

ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης. Cf. ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς (Mark 6:47), and περιπατῶν ὡς ἐπʼ ἐδάφους ἐπὶ θαλάσσης (Job 9:8). Christ was walking not by the sea, but on it, over the surface of its stormy waters. His walking by the sea would not have terrified them, nor could He and they have conversed. We may refuse to believe the miracle, but the narrative has not arisen through misinterpretation of language. Nor is it an imitation of O.T. miracles; Christ does not divide the Jordan and walk over on dry land (Joshua 3:14-17; 2 Kings 2:8; 2 Kings 2:14). “These attempts are usually unconvincing, and provoke the remark how much ingenuity can be combined with a lack of common sense” (Salmon, Human Element, p. 323). It is rash to be positive as to what would be possible or impossible for a unique Personality such as that of Jesus Christ.

ἤθελεν παρελθεῖν. Cf. Mark 7:27; Luke 24:28; and for the conative imperf. Matthew 3:14; Luke 1:59. We have here the impression of an eye-witness; the figure looked as if it meant to pass by them. Mt. omits this; see on Mark 1:45 and Mark 7:24.

Verse 49

49. φάντασμα. An apparition (R.V.). A word is required which answers to the derivation (φαίνομαι) and which occurs only in this connexion in N.T. The Syriac points to a reading δαιμόνιον. In Luke 24:37, [1361] has φάντασμα for πνεῦμα.

ἀνέκραξαν. See on Mark 1:23. τὸν ἀπὸ τοῦ κλύδωνος φόβον ἕτερος διαδέχεται (Euthym.).

Verse 50

50. πάντες γὰρ εἶδαν. See on Mark 6:29. It was no subjective delusion; there was something objective which all of them perceived. The aorists indicate what was of short duration; He addressed them at once, and their trouble was at an end. Syr-Sin. has “when they all saw Him, they cried out.” The difference between λαλέω, “speak,” and λέγω, “say,” is manifest here. Trench, Syn. § 76.

Θαρσεῖτε. Cf. Mark 10:49; Matthew 9:2; Matthew 9:22; John 16:33. This form prevails in Gospels and Acts, θαρρέω in 2 Cor. and Heb. In LXX. θαρσέω is common, θαρρέω rare and late.

μὴ φοβεῖσθε. Cease to fear: Mark 5:36, Mark 10:14. Contrast the aorists in Mark 10:19. For the asyndeton see on Mark 6:38.

Verse 51

51. ἀνέβη. The verb is freq. in class. Grk of going on board a ship. Mk and Jn omit Peter’s walking on the water. Lk. omits the whole narrative.

ἐκόπασεν. See on Mark 4:39. In quocunque corde Deus per gratiam sui adest amoris, mox universa bella compressa quiescunt (Bede).

λίαν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς. See crit. note. This time they keep their thoughts to themselves; contrast Mark 4:41. Mt. attributes to them the confession afterwards made by Peter (Mark 8:29; Matthew 16:16), which is out of harmony with what follows in the next verse.

Verse 52

52. οὐ γὰρ συνῆκαν ἐπὶ τοῖς ἄρτοις. “For the miracle of the loaves afforded them no basis for comprehending.” See crit. note. Neither A.V. nor R.V. seems to be right here. As often, Mt. and Lk. omit what is discreditable to the Twelve, and Mt. substitutes what does honour both to them and to Christ. It was natural that His walking on the waves and the sudden cessation of the gale should amaze them more than the feeding of the multitudes (Mark 8:17 f.); as fishermen they could appreciate the former, but they were still very defective in insight. See on Mark 3:5. This miracle is part of their education.

Verse 53

53. διαπεράσαντες ἐπὶ τ. γῆν. When they had crossed over to the land (R.V. marg.); cf. διασωθῆναι ἐπὶ τ. γῆν (Acts 27:44). The δια- points to their getting through their perils and toils. Jn says that they did so εὐθέως, on their welcoming Christ into the boat.

Γεννησαρέτ. Mt. says the same; elsewhere only Luke 5:1. It was a little [1362] of Capernaum, and was then a fertile and populous district (Joseph. B.J. III. x. 8).

προσωρμίσθησαν. Here only in Bibl. Grk. Wetstein gives classical examples. Syr-Sin. omits καὶ πρ.

Verses 53-56


Matthew 14:34-36

Verse 54

54. εὐθὺς ἐπιγνόντες αὐτόν. It was still early (Mark 6:48), but there were people who recognized Him and, as before, were eager to get their sick folk healed. Cf. Luke 24:31; Acts 3:10; Acts 27:39; Mt. is much less graphic.

Verse 55

55. περιέδραμον. Not elsewhere in N.T. The aorists indicate the rapidity with which all was done, while the news of His arrival kept spreading (ὅπου ἤκουον).

περιφέρειν. They were sometimes too late; and they then carried the sick from place to place, till they overtook Him.

ἐστίν. The very word of the report; “He is in such a place.”

Verse 56

56. ὅπου ἂν εἰσεπορεύετο. Cf. the constr. in Mark 3:11; Acts 2:45; Acts 4:35.

ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς. In the open places. “In the streets” (A.V.) is from ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις ([1363] Vulg.), which looks like a correction, because no κῶμαι, and not all πόλεις, would have market-places. But ἀγορά has its original meaning, “a place where people assemble.” Cf. Acts 5:15 and the curious Babylonian custom commended in Hdt. i. 197.

ἐτίθεσαν. So [1364][1365][1366][1367]. For ἵνα cf. Mark 5:18; Mark 5:23, Mark 7:32. The way in which the woman with the issue had been cured had doubtless become widely known, and the faith of these applicants was as efficacious as hers. Mt. again has aor. where Mk has imperf.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Mark 6:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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