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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Mark 1

 

 

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Verse 1

Mark 1:1. ἀρχὴ, etc.: This verse may best be taken as the superscription of the whole Gospel, and as meaning: Here begins the Gospel concerning Jesus Christ the Son of God. So viewed it should be made to stand apart, Mark 1:2 beginning a new section as in the Greek Testament of W. and H.(1) If we connect Mark 1:1 closely with Mark 1:2-4 it will contain the statement that the Gospel of Jesus Christ began with the ministry of the Baptist. On this view the connection of the sentences may be taken in two ways: either Mark 1:1 may be joined closely to Mark 1:2, the resulting sense being: the beginning of the Gospel (was) as it is written = was in accordance with the prophetic oracle predicting the introduction of Messiah by a forerunner, the story of the Baptist then following as the fulfilment of the prophecy; or Mark 1:2-3 may be bracketed as a parenthesis, and Mark 1:1 connected with Mark 1:4, yielding this sense: the beginning of the Gospel was or became ( ἐγένετο) John the Baptist. All three ways give a perfectly good meaning. In favour of the first view is the absence of the article before ἀρχὴ; against it has been alleged (Holtzmann, H. C.) that καθὼς in Matthew and Mark always connects with what goes before, never introduces a protasis as in Luke 6:31.— τοῦ εὐαγγελίου . χ., the good news concerning, not preached by, . χ. being genitive objective; not quite the evangelic record, but on its way to that final meaning of εὐαγγέλιον. “Christ” here appears as a proper name, as in Matthew 1:1.— υἱοῦ τ. θεοῦ: this title, even if omitted, is implicit in the title Christ, but it is every way likely to have formed a part of the original text, as indicating the point of view in which Jesus is to be presented to readers of the Gospel. Without assuming any acquaintance on the part of the evangelist with the Gospel of the Infancy in Matthew and Luke we may say that this title takes the place of the opening chapters in these Gospels. It is all that Mark offers to gratify the curiosity to which these chapters owe their origin. Who is this remarkable Personage of whom you write? He is “the Son of God”. How much that was meant to convey cannot be certainly determined.


Verses 1-8

Mark 1:1-8. The appearance and ministry of the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-12, Luke 3:1-18).


Verses 2-4

Mark 1:2-4. καθὼς introduces a prophetic citation as protasis to the historical statement about John in Mark 1:4 = in accordance with, etc., John appeared. The prophetic reference and the historical statement are given in inverse order in Matthew.— ἐν τῷ ἠσαίᾳ, in Isaiah, the actual quotation being from Isaiah and Malachi (Mark 1:2) conjointly. An inaccuracy doubtless, but not through an error of memory (Meyer and Weiss), but through indifference to greater exactness, the quotation from Isaiah being what chiefly occupied the mind. It is something analogous to attraction in grammar. It is Mark’s only prophetic citation on his own account.— ἰδοὺ begins the quotation from Malachi 3:1, given as in Matthew 11:10, with μου, after προσώπου and ὁδόν, changed into σου.


Verse 3

Mark 1:3. Quotation from Isaiah 40:3 as in Matthew 3:3.


Verse 4

Mark 1:4. ἐγένετο .: in accordance with, and in fulfilment of, these prophetic anticipations, appeared John.— βαπτίζων = the Baptist (substantive participle), that the function by which he was best known.— εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν: this clause (in Luke, not in Matthew) may plausibly be represented as a Christianised version of John’s baptism (Weiss), but of course John’s preaching and baptism implied that if men really repented they would be forgiven (Holtz., H. C.).


Verses 5-8

Mark 1:5-8. Mark 1:5 describes the widespread character of the movement much as in Mt., only that Judaea comes before Jerusalem, and the district of the Jordan is not mentioned.


Verse 6

Mark 1:6 describes John’s way of life as in Mt., ἐνδεδυμένος standing for εἶχεν τὸ ἔνδυμα, and ἔσθων for τροφὴ ἦν.


Verse 7

Mark 1:7. καὶ ἐκήρυσσεν, introducing a special and very important part of his kerygma: inter alia he kept saying—anxious to prevent men from forming a wrong impression of his position. This is what makes mention of his ministry relevant in the evangelic record.— λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα, to loose the latchet of, instead of τὰ ὑποδ. βαστάσαι; a stronger expression of subordination, practically the same idea.


Verse 8

Mark 1:8. πνεύματι ἁγίῳ: καὶ πυρί omitted, whereby the view presented of Messiah’s function becomes less judicial, more Christian. Mt.’s account here is truer to John’s conception of the Messiah. Mk.’s was probably influenced by the destination of his Gospel for Gentile readers.


Verse 9

Mark 1:9. ἐν ἐκείναις τ. . = in those days; an indefinite note of time = while John was carrying on his ministry of preaching and baptising.— ῆλθεν ἰησοῦς, came Jesus, with what feelings, as compared with Pharisees and Sadducees, vide notes on Mt.— ἀπὸ ναζ. τ. γαλ., from Nazareth, presumably His home; of Galilee, to define the part of the country for outsiders; only Galilee mentioned in Mt.— εἰς τὸν .: ἐν with dative in Mark 1:5. The expression is pregnant, the idea of descending into the river being latent in εἰς.— ὑπὸ ἰωάν., by John; no hesitation indicated; cf. remarks on three synoptical narratives on this point in Mt. It does not even appear whether John had any suspicion that the visitor from Nazareth was ἰσχυρότερος, of whom he had spoken. The manner in which the baptism of Jesus is reported is the first instance of the realism of this Gospel, facts about Jesus stated in a naked manner as compared, e.g., with Lk., who is influenced by religious decorum.


Verses 9-11

Mark 1:9-11. The baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-22).


Verse 10

Mark 1:10. εὐθὺς, straightway, a favourite word of Mk.’s, to be taken with εἶδε = as soon as He had ascended, etc., He saw. For similar usage in reference to εἶτα vide Hermann, Viger, p. 772.— σχιζομένους, being rent asunder, a sudden event; a stronger word than that used in Mt. and Lk. ( ἀνεῴχθησανῆναι). The subject of εἶδε is Jesus.— εἰς αὐτόν: this reading suggests the idea of a descent not merely upon ( ἐπὶ) but into Him, as if to take up its abode; henceforth the immanent spirit of Jesus.


Verse 12

Mark 1:12. ἐκβάλλει: historic present, much used in Mk. with lively effect; introduces a new situation. The first thing the Spirit does ( εὐθὺς) is to drive Jesus into the wilderness, the expression not implying reluctance of Jesus to go into so wild a place (Weiss), but intense preoccupation of mind. Allowing for the weakening of the sense in Hellenistic usage (H. C.), it is a very strong word, and a second instance of Mk.’s realism: Jesus thrust out into the inhospitable desert by force of thought. De Wette says that the ethical significance of the temptation is lost in Mk.’s meagre narrative, and that it becomes a mere marvellous adventure. I demur to this. The one word ἐκβάλλει tells the whole story, speaks as far as may be the unspeakable. Mt. and Lk. have tried to tell us what happened, but have they given us more than a dim shadow of the truth?


Verse 12-13

Mark 1:12-13. The temptation (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13).


Verse 13

Mark 1:13. πειραζόμενος, being tempted, presumably the whole time; doubtless the real truth. Two powers at work all through, the Spirit of God and the spirit of evil.— ἦν μετὰ τ. θηρ.: not merely pictorial or intended to hint danger; meant rather to indicate the uninhabited nature of the place; no supplies obtainable there, hunger therefore a part of the experience.— οἱ ἄγγελοι: angels as opposed, not to devils (Schanz), but to human beings, of whom there were none.— διηκόνουν, ministered; in what way not said, but implying exhaustion. These few touches of Mk. suggest a vivid picture of a spiritual crisis: intense preoccupation, instinctive retreat into congenial grim solitudes, temptation, struggle, fierce and protracted, issuing in weakness, calling for preternatural aid.


Verse 14

Mark 1:14. τὸ εὐαγγ. τ. θεοῦ: the Gospel of God, the good news sent by God to men through Jesus, a strong name for Christ’s message.


Verses 14-20

Mark 1:14-20. The Galilean ministry begins (Matthew 4:12-22; Luke 4:14).


Verse 15

Mark 1:15. βασιλεία τ. θ.: this defines more precisely the gospel Jesus preaches. It is the gospel of the Kingdom of God. But even this is vague. The kingdom may be differently conceived: as an awful thing or as a beneficent thing. The summons following throws light on its nature.— μετανοεῖτε καὶ πιστεύετε: “repent” echoes John’s preaching, and savours of awe, but “believe” is a new word, and presumably the watchword of the new ministry. And the name for the message to be believed settles the nature of the kingdom. Its coming is good news ( ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ). For πιστεύειν ἐν, vide Galatians 3:26, Ephesians 1:13.


Verse 16

Mark 1:16. ἀμφιβάλλοντας, just because different from Mt.’s expression, to which the T. R. assimilates Mk.’s, is likely to be the true reading, and is very expressive: casting about (their nets understood, here only).


Verse 17

Mark 1:17. γενέσθαι: I will make you become, implying a gradual process of training; therefore the disciples called as early as possible.


Verse 20

Mark 1:20. μετὰ μισθωτῶν: they left their father with the hired assistants. This is taken by some as a merely pictorial trait, but others justly regard it as a touch of humanity. It comforted Mk. and probably his voucher Peter that the two brothers did not need to leave their father alone. He could do without them.


Verse 21

Mark 1:21. εἰσπορεύονται: Jesus and the four newly acquired disciples enter or arrive at.— καπ., Capernaum; first mention. From Mk.’s narrative alone we should gather that Jesus arrived at Capernaum on His way northwards from the south—from the Jordan to Galilee, then along the shore of the lake to Capernaum.— εὐθέως: seems to imply arrival on Sabbath.— σάββασιν: dative plural as if from σάββας; plural, after analogy of names for feast days ( τὰ ἄζυμα, τὰ γενέσια, τὰ ἐγκαίνια).— ἐδίδασκε: Mt. in his general summary of the Galilean ministry applies both this word and κηρύσσω to Christ’s synagogue utterances. These, addressed to a popular audience, would come more properly under the head of kerygma than of didache.


Verses 21-28

Mark 1:21-28. First appearance in the synagogue; first impressions (Luke 4:31-37).


Verse 22

Mark 1:22. ἐξεπλήσσοντο: they were amazed; a strong word, several times in Mk. (Matthew 7:28).— ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων, etc.: a similar remark in Matthew 7:29 (see notes there) appended to Sermon on Mount. Mk. gives no discourse, but only notes the impression made. “A poor substitute for the beautiful Sermon on the Mount” (Schanz). Doubtless, but let us be thankful for what we do get: a record of the impression made by Christ’s very first appearance in the synagogue, witnessing to a striking individuality. Mk. omits much, and is in many ways a meagre Gospel, but it makes a distinctive contribution to the evangelic history in showing by a few realistic touches (this one of them) the remarkable personality of Jesus.


Verse 23

Mark 1:23. εὐθὺς: almost = ἰδοὺ, Matthew’s word for introducing something important.— αὐτῶν, in their synagogue, i.e., the synagogue of the same men who had been surprised at Christ’s preaching. They are to get a new surprise, though one would have been enough for one day. We also get a surprise, for nothing in Mark’s narrative thus far has prepared us to expect such an event as is reported. In his general sketch of the Galilean ministry (Mark 4:23-25) Matthew combines the three features: preaching, teaching, and healing.— ἐν π. . = with an unclean spirit (Maldonatus, Holtz., H. C.), in the power of, possessed by, Meyer, Weiss, Keil, etc. An unclean spirit is Mark’s standing name for what Matthew commonly calls δαίμων or δαιμόνιον.


Verses 23-28

Mark 1:23-28. The demoniac.


Verse 24

Mark 1:24. τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, what to us and to Thee. The diseased man speaks for the demon in him, and the demon speaks for the fraternity as all having one interest. For the phrase used in a similar sense vide 1 Kings 17:18.— ναζαρηνέ: first certain intimation (cf. Mark 1:9) that Jesus belonged to Nazareth. The corresponding adjective in Matthew is ναζωραῖος (Mark 2:23).— ἦλθες . . may be either a question or an assertion, the sense of the whole passage being: Thou art come to destroy us, for I know well who Thou art—the Holy One of God (Fritzsche). The epithet, ἅγιος, applied to Jesus is in antithesis to ἀκαθάρτῳ.


Verse 25

Mark 1:25. φιμώθητι: vide at Matthew 22:12.


Verse 26

Mark 1:26. σπαράξαν, convulsing, throwing into a spasm. This reveals a characteristic of the malady under which the man suffered. He appears to have been an epileptic. The Gadarene demoniac was a madman. This was the final fit before recovery.


Verse 27

Mark 1:27. ἐθαμβήθησαν: another strong word peculiar to Mark = they were astonished, i.e., at the sudden and complete recovery. They saw at a glance that the attack had not run its usual course.— ὥστε with the infinitive here expressing result.— συζητεῖν, to seek together; in N. T. tropical = to inquire of one another, to discuss. The word occurs several times in Mark.— τί ἐστι τοῦτο; The question refers to the whole appearance of Jesus in the synagogue that day. One surprise following close on another provoked wondering inquiry as to the whole phenomenon. The words following state the twofold ground of their astonishment: (1) διδαχὴ καινή κατʼ ἐξουσίαν, a style of teaching new as to authoritativeness (entirely different from the familiar type of the scribes); (2) καὶ τοῖς πνεύμασι τοῖς ἀκαθάρτοις ἑπιτάσσει, etc., also He commandeth the unclean spirits so that they obey Him. Both equally unlooked for: the former a moral miracle, the latter a physical; both revealing an imperial spirit exercising sway over the minds and bodies of men.


Verse 28

Mark 1:28. ἀκοὴ, the report, as in Matthew 14:1; Matthew 24:6.— εὐθὺς, expressive of the lightning speed with which rumour travels = πανταχοῦ = πανταχοῖ, in every direction.— εἰς ὅλην τ. π. τ. γαλ., a vague phrase suggestive of a wide range of circulation, even beyond the boundaries of Galilee. But that can hardly be meant. Recent interpreters take it as meaning that the fame spread into the Galilean environment of Capernaum, along the lake north and south, and back into the hill country.

Similarity at certain points in this incident to the story of the Gadarene demoniac, especially in the deprecatory speech (Mark 1:24, Matthew 8:29), has suggested the hypothesis of borrowing on one side or other. Keim thinks this not a real history but an acted programme, like the change of water into wine in John 2 and like the preaching programme in Luke 4 (L. J., ii. 165, 203), a mere duplicate of the Gadara story. Weiss thinks the words spoken by the demoniac (Mark 1:34) are borrowed from that story, and that Mark reproduces the features with which Peter was wont to describe such cases. The lifelike reflections of the spectators (Mark 1:27) powerfully witness for the reality of the occurrence.


Verses 29-31

Mark 1:29-31. Cure of Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15; Luke 4:38-39).— ἐξελθόντες ἦλθον: even if the reading of (2) (participle and verb singular) be the true one, as it probably is just because the more difficult, the implied fact is that Jesus left the synagogue accompanied by His disciples, probably all four, Simon and Andrew as well as James and John. Jesus came from the synagogue to the house of Simon and Andrew, with them, and with James and John.


Verse 30

Mark 1:30. πυρέσσουσα (same word in Matthew), fevered, or feverish, doubtless a common occurrence in the damp, marshy flats by the lake.— λέγουσι αὐτῷ π. α., forthwith they tell Him about her, not necessarily as expecting Him to heal her, but to account for her absence, or as one naturally tells a friend of family troubles.


Verse 31

Mark 1:31. ἥγειρεν, etc., He took hold of her hand and so raised her up, the cure taking place simultaneously. In Matthew the touch ( ἥψατο) is the means of cure. Holtz. (H. C.) thinks Jesus took hold of her hand simply by way of greeting, and that the result was unexpected, Jesus thus discovering an unsuspected power.


Verse 32

Mark 1:32. ὀψίας, etc.: exact indication of time by two phrases, on the arrival of evening when the sun set; evening a vague phrase = late afternoon. It was Sabbath, and the people would wait till sunset when Sabbath closed. Hence the double note of time. So most recent commentators, also Victor Ant. in Cramer’s Catenae ( ἐπειδὴ ἐνόμιζον μὴ ἐξεῖναί τινι θεραπεύειν σαββάτῳ, τούτου χάριν τοῦ σαββάτου τὸ πέρας ἀνέμενον). Matthew and Luke divide Mark’s phrases between them. The first sufficed for Matthew because he says nothing of its being Sabbath. This instance of duality in expression in Mark has done service in connection with Griesbach’s hypothesis that Mark is made up from Matthew and Luke.— κακῶς ἔχοντας, such as were ailing, peculiar to Mark.— τοὺς δαιμονιζομένους: them specially, because of what happened in the synagogue.


Verses 32-34

Mark 1:32-34. Cures on Sabbath evening (Matthew 8:16-17; Luke 4:40-41).


Verse 33

Mark 1:33. ὅλη πόλις, a colloquial exaggeration.— πρὸς τ. θύραν: the door of Peter’s house. Meyer thinks that in the interval Jesus had gone to His own house, and that it was there the people gathered. But does Mark’s gospel think of Jesus as having a residence in Capernaum? Weiss answers in the negative.


Verse 34

Mark 1:34. πολλοὺς, many; not all? In Matthew many are brought and all are healed.— ἤφιε, allow, imperfect, as if from ἀφίω with augment on preposition, again in Mark 11:16; prorsus barbara (Fritzsche).— ὅτι ᾔδεισαν α., because they knew Him. On the insight of demoniacs cf. at Matthew 8:28 ff.


Verse 35

Mark 1:35. πρωῒ, early, an elastic word, the last watch from three to six, defined more exactly by ἔννυχα λίαν = much in the night, at the beginning of the watch, or at the dark hour before dawn.— ἔννυχα is the neuter plural of ἔννυχος, nocturnal, used as an adverb (here only).— ἀναστὰς, etc.: He rose up, went out of Capernaum, went away to a desert, solitary place, and there engaged in prayer. It was a kind of flight from Capernaum, the scene of those remarkable occurrences; “flight from the unexpected reality into which His ideal conception of His calling had brought Him,” Holtz., H. C. The real reason of the flight was doubtless a desire to preach in as many synagogues as possible before the hostility of the scribes, instinctively dreaded, had time to act obstructively. Jesus had a plan of a preaching tour in Galilee (vide Mark 1:38), and He felt He could not begin too soon. He left in the night, fearing opposition from the people.


Verses 35-39

Mark 1:35-39. Flight from Capernaum (Luke 4:42-44).


Verse 36

Mark 1:36. κατεδίωξεν: followed Him up; almost pursued Him as a fugitive; verb singular, though more than one followed, Peter, the chief of them, being thought of mainly. A strong term like ἐκβάλλει, Mark 1:12, all allowance made for weakened force in Hellenistic usage.


Verse 37

Mark 1:37. πάντες ζητοῦσί σε, all seek Thee, not merely all the people of Capernaum, but all the world: “nemo non te quaerit,” Fritzsche; a colloquial exaggeration.


Verse 38

Mark 1:38. ἄγωμεν: let us go, intransitive; not so used in Greek authors.— κωμοπόλεις, village towns; towns as to extent of population, villages as without walls (Kypke); Oppidula (Beza); here only in N. T., found in Strabo.— κηρύξω: that there I may preach, no word of healing; because no part of His vocation (Klostermann); because subordinate to the preaching (Schanz).— ἐξῆλθον: I came out (from Capernaum, Mark 1:35). This may seem trivial (Keil), but it appears to be the real meaning, and it is so understood by Meyer, Weiss, Holtz., and even Schanz. The Fathers understood the words as meaning: “I am come from heaven”. So Keil. In this clause Weiss finds evidence that in Mk.’s narrative Jesus has no home in Capernaum. He has visited it, done good in it, and now He wants to go elsewhere.


Verse 39

Mark 1:39. ἦλθεν (vide critical notes).— εἰς τ. συν. may be connected with ἦλθεν, and the sentence will run thus: He came, preaching, to their synagogues, all over Galilee; also casting out devils, the healing ministry being referred to as subordinate to the teaching. If we connect εἰς τὰς συν with κηρύσσων the word “synagogues” will refer to the assemblies rather than to the places = preaching to their synagogues, as we might say “preaching to their churches” or “congregations”. For similar expressions cf. Mark 13:10, Mark 14:9, John 8:26. This short verse contains the record of an extensive preaching tour, of which not a single discourse has been preserved. Doubtless some of the parables were spoken on these occasions. Note the synagogue, not the market place, was the scene of Christ’s addresses; His work religious, not political (Schanz).


Verse 40

Mark 1:40. καὶ ἔρχεται, etc., and there cometh to Him, historic present as so often; where this happened not said, probably an incident of the preaching tour; “in one of the cities,” says Lk.— ἐὰν θέλῃς δύν.: the leper has seen or heard enough of Christ’s healing ministry to be sure as to the power. He doubts the will, naturally from the nature of the disease, especially if it be the first cure of the kind, or the first so far as the man knows.


Verses 40-45

Mark 1:40-45. The leper (Matthew 8:1-4; Luke 5:12-16).


Verse 41

Mark 1:41. σπλαγχνισθεὶς, having compassion. Watch carefully the portraiture of Christ’s personality in this Gospel, Mk.’s speciality.


Verse 42

Mark 1:42. ἀπῆλθεν, etc.: another instance of duality, the leprosy left him, and he or it was cleansed. Lk. has the former of the two phrases, Mt. the latter.— καθαρίζειν is Hellenistic for καθαίρειν.


Verse 43

Mark 1:43. ἐμβριμησάμενος, etc.: assuming a severe aspect, vide notes on the word at Matthew 9:30, especially the quotation from Euthy. Zig.— ἐξέβαλεν α., thrust him out of the synagogue or the crowd. It is not quite certain that the incident happened in a synagogue, though the inference is natural from the connection with Mark 1:39. Lepers were not interdicted from entering the synagogue. These particulars are peculiar to Mk., and belong to his character-sketching. He does not mean to impute real anger to Jesus, but only a masterful manner dictated by a desire that the benefit should be complete = away out of this, to the priest; do what the law requires, that you may be not only clean but recognised as such by the authorities, and so received by the people as a leper no longer.


Verse 44

Mark 1:44. εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς: for a testimony from priest to people, without which the leper would not be received as clean.


Verse 45

Mark 1:45. What Jesus feared seems to have happened. The man went about telling of his cure, and neglecting the means necessary to obtain social recognition as cured.— τὸν λόγον: “the matter,” A. V(3) Perhaps we should translate strictly the word, i.e., the word Jesus spoke: “I will, be thou clean”. So Holtz. after Fritzsche. So also Euthy. Zig. ( διεφημίζε τὸν λόγον, ὃν εἴρηκεν αὐτῷ χριστὸς, δηλαδὴ τὸ θέλω, καθαρίσθητι, ὡς μετʼ ἐξουσίας γενόμενον).— εἰς πόλιν: the result was that Jesus could not enter openly into a city, a populous place, but was obliged to remain in retired spots. This cure and the popularity it caused may have co-operated to bring Christ’s synagogue ministry to an abrupt termination by stirring up envy. Jesus was between two fires, and His order to the leper, “Go, show thyself,” had a double reference: to the man’s good and to the conciliation of the scribes and synagogue rulers.— καὶ ἤρχοντο, etc.: and (still) they kept coming from all quarters. Popularity at its height. There is nothing corresponding to Mark 1:45 in Mt.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Mark 1:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/mark-1.html. 1897-1910.


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Friday, September 22nd, 2017
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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