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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament
Mark 6

 

 

Verse 1

Mark 6:1. ἐξῆλθεν ἐκεῖθεν. It is not said, but it is very probable, that this was another of Christ’s attempts to escape from the crowd into a scene of comparative quiet and rest (the hill, Mark 3:13, the eastern shore, Mark 5:1, Nazareth, Mark 6:1). Mt. gives this incident at the close of the parable collection; Lk. at the beginning of the Galilean ministry. Mk.’s connection is the most historical, Lk.’s is obviously an anticipation. It is the same incident in all three Gospels.— πατρίδα: vide notes on Mt., ad loc.οἱ μαθηταὶ α. Mt. omits this.


Verses 1-6

Mark 6:1-6 a. Jesus at Nazareth (Matthew 13:53-58 cf. Luke 4:16-30).


Verse 2

Mark 6:2. ἤρξατο διδάσκειν, etc.: Jesus did not go to Nazareth for the purpose of preaching, rather for rest; but that He should preach was inevitable; therefore, the Sabbath coming round, He appeared in the synagogue, and spoke.— πόθεν τούτῳ ταῦτα: laconic; comprehensive, vague question, covering the discourse just heard and all that had been reported to them about their townsman, with the one word ταῦτα: such speech, such wisdom ( τίς σοφία), such powers ( δυνάμεις, not wrought there), in such a well-known person ( τούτῳ).


Verse 3

Mark 6:3. τέκτων: avoided by Mt., who says the carpenter’s son: one of Mk.’s realisms. The ploughs and yokes of Justin M. (c. Trypho., 88) and the apocryphal Gospels pass beyond realism into vulgarity.— ἐσκανδαλίζοντο: what they had heard awakened admiration, but the external facts of the speaker’s connections and early history stifled incipient faith; vide notes on Mt.


Verse 4

Mark 6:4. ἐν τοῖς συγγενεῦσιν α., among his kinsmen. This omitted in Mt., ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ α. covering it.


Verse 5

Mark 6:5. οὐκ ἠδύνατο, etc., He was not able to do any mighty work, which is qualified by the added clause, that He placed His hands on a few ailing persons ( ἀρρώστοις); quite minor cures, not to be compared with those reported in the previous chapter. For this statement Mt. substitutes: He did not there many mighty works.


Verse 6

Mark 6:6 b may either be connected with the foregoing narrative, when it will mean that Jesus, rejected by the Nazareans, made a teaching tour among the villages around (Fritzsche, Meyer), or it may be taken as an introduction to the following narrative = Jesus resumes the röle of a wandering preacher in Galilee (Mark 1:38-39) and associates with Himself in the work His disciples (Schanz, Weiss, Klostermann, etc.). This brief statement in Mark: and He went round about the villages in a circle teaching, answers to Matthew 9:35-38, where the motive of the mission of the Twelve is more fully explained.


Verses 6-13

Verse 7

Mark 6:7. ἤρξατο, etc.: Jesus calling to Him ( προσκαλεῖται, vide Mark 3:13) the Twelve began at length to do what He had intended from the first (Weiss), viz., to send them forth as missioners ( ἀποστέλλειν).— δύο δύο, two (and) two, Hebraic for κατὰ or ἀνὰ δύο; two together, not one by one, a humane arrangement.— ἐδίδου, imperfect, as specifying an accompaniment of the mission, not pointing to separate empowerment of each pair.— ἐξουσίαν τ. π. τ. ., power over unclean spirits, alone mentioned by Mark, cf. Matthew and Luke.


Verse 8

Mark 6:8. εἰ μὴ ῥάβδον μόνον: vide in Matthew, ad loc.χαλκόν: no mention of gold and silver, brass the only money the poor missionaries were likely to handle.


Verse 9

Mark 6:9. ἀλλὰσανδάλια, but shod with sandals.— μηδὲ ὑποδήματα, says Matthew, reconcilable either by distinguishing between sandals and shoes (vide on Matthew), or by understanding μηδὲ before ὑποδεδεμένους (Victor Ant.).— δύο χιτῶνας: In Mark the prohibition is not to wear ( ἐνδύσησθε) two tunics, in Matthew and Luke not to possess a spare one. The sentence in Mark 6:8-9 presents a curious instance of varying construction: first ἵνα with the subjunctive after παρήγγειλεν (Mark 6:8), then ὑποδεδεμένους, implying an infinitive with accusative ( πορεύεσθαι understood), then finally there is a transition from indirect to direct narration in μὴ ἐνδύσησθε.


Verse 10

Mark 6:10. ἐκεῖ, ἐκεῖθεν, there, in the house; thence, from the village.


Verse 11

Mark 6:11. καὶ ὃς ἆν τ.… ὑμῶν; another instance of inconsequent construction beginning with a relative clause and passing into a conditional one = and whatever place does not receive you, if ( ἐάν understood) they, its people, do not listen to you (so Schanz and Weiss in Meyer).— ὑποκάτω, the dust that is under your feet, instead of ἐκ and ἀπὸ in Matthew and Luke. The dust of their roads adhering to your feet, shake it off and leave it behind you. Mark 6:12-13 report the carrying out of the mission by the Twelve through preaching and healing.— ἵνα μετανοῶσιν: the burden of their preaching was, Repent. Luke has the more evangelic term, εὐαγγελιζόμενοι. The other aspect of their ministry is summed up in the expulsion of many demons, and the cure of many suffering from minor ailments, ἀρρώστους (cf. Mark 6:5). In Mark’s account the powers of the Twelve appear much more restricted than in Matthew (cf. Mark 10:8). The use of oil in healing ( ἐλαίῳ) is to be noted. Some have regarded this as a mark of late date (Baur). Others (Weiss, Schanz) view it as a primitive practice (vide James 5:14). Many conjectural opinions have been expressed as to the function or significance of the oil. According to Lightfoot and Schöttgen it was much used at the time by physicians.

The instructions to the Twelve present an interesting problem in criticism and comparative exegesis. It is not improbable that two versions of these existed and have been drawn upon by the synoptists, one in the Logia of Matthew, reproduced, Weiss thinks, substantially in Luke 10 (mission of Seventy), the other in Mark 6, used (Weiss) in Luke 9:1-6. Matthew, according to the same critic, mixes the two. Similarly Holtzmann, who, however, differs from Weiss in thinking the two versions entirely independent. Weiss reconstructs the original version of the Logia thus:—

1. Matthew 9:38 = Luke 10:2, prayer for labourers.

2. Luke 10:3 = go forth, I send you as lambs among wolves.

3. Matthew 10:5-6, go not to Samaria, but to Israel only.

4. Luke 10:4-11, detailed instructions.


Verse 14

Mark 6:14. ἤκουσεν: Herod heard, what? Christ’s name, τὸ . α. ( φανερὸν γὰρ ἐγέν., a parenthesis)? Or all that is stated in Mark 6:14-15, court opinion about Jesus (from φανερὸν to προφητῶν, a parenthesis)? Both views have been held, but the simplest view is that Herod heard of the doings of the Twelve, though it is difficult to believe that the report of their mission was the first tidings he had received of the great work of Jesus, especially in view of the understanding between the Pharisees and Herodians mentioned in Mark 3:6. In the reports which reached Herod the Twelve were merged in their Master. He was the hero of the whole Galilean movement. Such is the import of the statement that His name had become known.— βασιλεὺς: strictly, Herod was only a tetrarch (Matthew and Luke), but it was natural for Mark writing for the Roman world to use this title, as it was applied freely in Rome to all eastern rulers.— ἔλεγεν, he said, i.e., Herod. ἔλεγον, the reading of (42) (43), and adopted by W.H(44), puts the saying into the mouth of the court people. Matthew has taken it the former way, Luke the latter. The theory that Jesus was John risen looks more like the creation of a troubled conscience than the suggestion of light-minded courtiers, unless indeed it was thrown out by them as a jest, and yet it appears to be the aim of the evangelist first to report the opinions of others and then to give the king’s, emphatically endorsing one of the hypotheses.— ἐγήγερται, is risen, and is now alive and active, the latter the point emphasised.— ἐνεργοῦσιν αἱ δ.: vide notes on Matthew.


Verses 14-16

Mark 6:14-16. Herod and Jesus (Matthew 14:1-2, Luke 9:7-9).


Verse 15

Mark 6:15. ἠλίας, Elias redivivus, with extraordinary power and mission.— προφήτης, etc., a prophet like one of the old prophets, not any of them redivivus. Luke understands it in the latter sense.


Verse 16

Mark 6:16. ἰωάννην: the accusative incorporated with the relative clause by attraction both in position and in construction; vide Winer, § xxiv. 2, and Viger, p. 33. The king’s statement is very emphatic = the man whom I beheaded, John, he is risen (that is what it all means).


Verse 17

Mark 6:17. αὐτὸς γὰρ ., for the same Herod, who made the speech just reported, etc.— τὴν γυναῖκα φιλίππου: some have supposed that the mistake is here made of taking Herodias for the wife of Philip the tetrarch, who in reality was husband of her daughter Salome (so Holtz. in H. C.). Herodias had previously been the wife of a rich man in Jerusalem, step-brother of Herod Antipas, referred to by Josephus (Ant. J., xviii., 5, 4) by the name of Herod, the family name. He may, of course, have borne another name, such as Philip. Even if there be a slip it is a matter of small moment compared to the moral interest of the gruesome story.


Verses 17-29

Mark 6:17-29. Story of Herod and the Baptist (Matthew 14:3-12). Herod’s endorsement of the theory that Jesus is John redivivus gives a convenient opportunity for reporting here post eventum the Baptist’s fate. The report is given in aorists which need not be translated as pluperfects (as in A. V(45) and R. V(46)).


Verse 19

Mark 6:19. δὲ ἡρ.: the murderous mood is by Mark ascribed to Herodias; in her it would certainly be strongest and unchecked by any other feeling. In Herod, if the mood was there, it was accompanied by worthier impulses (vide on Matthew).— ἐνεῖχεν, had a grudge ( χόλον understood, so Fritzsche al.) against him αὐτῷ, dative of disadvantage); or, kept in mind what John had said, treasured up against him, with fixed hate and purpose of revenge.— καὶ οὐκ ἠδύνατο, and was not able, to compass her end for a while.


Verse 20

Mark 6:20 gives the reason.— ἐφοβεῖτο, feared, a mixture of reverence and superstitious dread towards the prophet and man of God.— συνετήρει, not merely observed him (A. V(47))—this, too neutral and colourless—kept him safe (R. V(48)) from her fixed malice often manifested but not likely to have its way with him in ordinary circumstances.— ἀκούσας πολλὰ implies frequent meetings between the Baptist and the king, either at Machaerus or at Tiberias.— ἠπόρει, the true reading, not only on critical grounds (attested by (49) (50) (51)), but also on psychological, corresponding exactly to the character of the man—a δίψυχος ἀνὴρ—drawn two ways, by respect for goodness on the one hand, by evil passions on the other. He was at a loss what to do in the matter of his wife’s well-known purpose, shiftless ( ἀπορεῖν, to be without resources); half sympathised with her wish, yet could not be brought to the point.— ἡδέως α. ἤκουεν, ever heard him with pleasure; every new hearing exorcising the vindictive demon, even the slightest sympathy with it, for a time.


Verse 21

Mark 6:21. εὐκαίρου, a day convenient for the long cherished purpose of Herodias; so regarded by her as well as by the evangelist. She had a chance then, if ever, and might hope that by wine, love, and the assistance of obsequious guests, her irresolute husband would at last be brought to the point (Grotius). The word occurs again in the N. T., Hebrews 4:16, εὔκαιρον βοήθειαν = seasonable succour.— μεγιστᾶσιν ( μεγιστᾶνες from μέγιστος), magnates. A word belonging to Macedonian Greek, condemned by Phryn. (p. 196: μέγα δυναμένοι the right expression), frequent in Sept(52) With these magnates, the civil authorities, are named the chief military men ( χιλιάρχοις) and the socially important persons of Galilee ( πρώτοις)—an imposing gathering on Herod’s birthday.


Verses 21-29

Mark 6:21-29. The fatal day.


Verse 22

Mark 6:22. ἤρεσεν, it, the dancing, pleased Herod and his guests.— τ. κορασίῳ, to the girl, as in Mark 5:41-42, not necessarily a child; the word was used familiarly like the Scotch word “lassie”; disapproved by Phryn., p. 73.— αἴτησόν μεὥμοσεν: promise first, followed by oath after a little interval, during which the girl naturally hesitated what to ask.


Verse 23

Mark 6:23. ἡμίσους, genitive of ἥμισυς, like ἡμίση ( τὰ, plural), a late form = the half, of my kingdom: maudlin amorous generosity.


Verse 24

Mark 6:24. She goes out to ask advice of her mother, implying that she had not previously got instructions as Matthew’s account suggests.


Verse 25

Mark 6:25. εὐθὺς μετὰ σπουδῆς, without delay and with quick step, as of one whose heart was in the business. There had been no reluctance then on the girl’s part, no need for much educating to bring her to the point; vide remarks on προβιβασθεῖσα in Matthew 14:8. Her mother’s child.— ἐξαυτῆς (supply ὥρας), on the spot, at once; request proffered with a cool pert impudence almost outdoing the mother.


Verse 26

Mark 6:26. περίλυπος γενόμενος: a concessive clause, καίπερ understood = and the king, though exceedingly sorry, yet, etc.— ὅρκους: there might be more oaths than one (vide on Matthew), but the plural was sometimes used for a single oath. Schanz cites instances from Aeschylus and Xenophon.— ἀθετῆσαι α., to slight her, by treating the oath and promise as a joke; a late word, used, in reference to persons, in the sense of breaking faith with (here only). Kypke renders the word here: “noluit fidem illi datam fallere,” citing instances from Diod., Polyb., and Sept(53) (53)Septuagint.


Verse 27

Mark 6:27. σπεκουλάτορα = speculator in Latin, literally a watcher, a military official of the empire who acted partly as courier, partly as a police officer, partly as an executioner; illustrative citations in Wetstein. The word found its way into the Jewish language (here only).


Verse 29

Mark 6:29 relates how the disciples of John buried the carcase of their master.— ἐν μνημείῳ, in a tomb. The phrase recalls to mind the burial of Jesus. Did the evangelist wish to suggest for the reflection of his readers a parallel between the fate of the Baptist and that of Christ? (So Klostermann).


Verse 30

Mark 6:30 transfers us from the past date of the horrible deed just related to the time when the fame of Jesus and His disciples recalled the deed of guilt to Herod’s mind.— συνάγονται οἱ ἀπόστολοι πρὸς τὸν ἰησοῦν, the apostles (here only, and not in the technical sense of after days, but = the men sent out on the Galilean mission, the missioners) gather to Jesus. Where? after how long? and what has Jesus been doing the while? No answer is possible. These are gaps in the evangelic history.— πάντα ὅσα ἐπ.: suggests that they had great things to tell, though Mark 6:12-13 create very moderate expectations. The repetition of ὅσα before ἐδίδαξαν = how much they had taught (“quanta docuerant,” Fritzsche), may surprise. The teaching element could not be extensive in the range of topics. Yet, if it took the form of personal narrative concerning Jesus, it might be copious enough, and really the principal feature of the mission. Vide notes on Mt., chap. 10


Verses 30-33

Mark 6:30-33. Return of the Twelve (Matthew 14:13, Luke 9:10-11).


Verse 31

Mark 6:31. ὑμεῖς αὐτοὶ, either: you yourselves, vos ipsi, without the crowd (Meyer, Schanz), or, better: you the same men who have been hard at work and need rest (Weiss in Meyer, Holtz., H. C.). This sympathy of Jesus with the Twelve reflects His own craving for rest which He often unsuccessfully strove to obtain.— ἀναπαύσασθε, aorist—only a breathing space in a life of toil.— οἱ ἐρ. καὶ οἱ ὑπάγ. Many coming and going: a constant stream of people on some errand; no sooner done with one party than another presented itself—no leisure.— οὐδε φαγεῖν εὐκαίρουν: no leisure (cf. εὔκαιρος, Mark 6:21), even to eat; imperfect, implying that it was not a solitary occurrence. What was the business on hand? Probably a political movement in Christ’s favour with which the Twelve sympathised. vide John 6:15.


Verse 32

Mark 6:32. τῷ πλοίῳ. The boat which stood ready for service (Mark 3:9).— κατʼ ἰδίαν, privately, i.e., with Jesus only in the boat, and without other boats accompanying. As to the reason for this withdrawal into privacy cf. Mk.’s account with Mt.’s (Mark 14:13), who connects with the report of John’s death. Beyond doubt, Mk.’s is the correct account. The excursion was an attempt to escape from the crowd and from dangerous illusions; again without success.


Verse 33

Mark 6:33 explains why.— εἶδον, etc., they (the people) saw them departing.— ἐπέγνωσαν (or ἔγνωσαν, (54) (55)) is better without an object ( αὐτοὺς or αὐτὸν) = they knew, not who they were, but what they were after, where they were going, doubtless from the course they were steering.— πεζῇ (from πεζός, adjective, ὁδῷ, understood), on foot, by land round the end of the lake.— συνέδραμον, they ran together, excited and exciting, each town on the way contributing its rill to the growing stream of eager human beings; what a picture! The ultimate result, a congregation of 5000. This the climax of popularity, and, from the fourth Gospel we learn, its crisis (chap. 6).— προῆλθον, “outran” (A. V(56)), anticipated = φθάνειν in classics.


Verse 34

Mark 6:34. ἤρξατο διδάσκειν, He began to teach, constrained by pity ( ἐσπλαγχνίσθη), though weary of toil and of popularity. To teach; Mt. says to heal. There could be few, if any, sick in a crowd that had come in such a hurry.


Verses 34-44

Mark 6:34-44. The feeding (Matthew 14:14-21, Luke 9:11-17).


Verse 35

Mark 6:35. ὥρας πολλῆς, it being late in the day.— πολύς was extensively used by the Greeks in all sorts of connections, time included; examples in Kypke and Hermann’s Viger, p. 137 f. The phrase recurs in last clause of this verse ( ὥρα πολλή).


Verse 37

Mark 6:37. δηναρ. διακ. ἄρτους, loaves of (purchasable for) 200 denarii; the sum probably suggested by what the Twelve knew they were in possession of at the time = seven pounds in the purse of the Jesus-circle (Grotius, Holtz., H. C.).


Verse 39

Mark 6:39. συμπόσια συμ. Hebraistic for ἀνὰ συμ. (cf. δύο δύο, Mark 6:7) = in dining companies.— ἐπὶ τῷ χλωρῷ χόρτῳ, on the green grass; a reedy, marshy place near the mouth of the Jordan at the north end of the lake. Vide Stanley’s description (Sinai and Palestine).


Verse 40

Mark 6:40. πρασιαὶ πρασιαὶ = ἀνὰ πρασίας, in garden flower plots, or squares, picturesque in fact and in description, bespeaking an eye-witness of an impressionable nature like Peter.


Verse 43

Mark 6:43. καὶ ἦραν, etc., and they tool up, as fragments ( κλάσματα, (57) (58)), the fillings ( πληρώματα) of twelve baskets.— καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἰχθύων, and of the fishes, either over and above what was in the twelve baskets (Fritzsche), or some fragments of the fishes included in them (Meyer).


Verse 44

Mark 6:44. πεντακισχίλιοι ἄνδρες, 5000 men: one loaf for 1000! Mt. adds: χωρὶς γυναικῶν καὶ παιδίων, women and children not counted. Of these, in the circumstances, there would be few, therefore probably not referred to by Mk.


Verse 45

Mark 6:45. εὐθὺς: no time to lose; it was getting late.— ἠνάγκασε, vide on Mt.— εἰς τὸ πέραν: we are apt to take this as a matter of course as = to the other (western) side of the lake, and consequently to assume that πρὸς βηθσαϊδάν points to a Bethsaida there, distinct from Bethsaida Julias (John 1:44). But the expression εἰς τ. π. may mean from the south end of the plain El Batiha, on the eastern side, to the north end towards Bethsaida Julias, the rendezvous for the night. In that case the contrary wind which overtook the disciples would be the prevailing wind from the north-east, driving them in an opposite direction away from Bethsaida towards the western shore. This is the view advocated by Furrer. vide Zeitschrift des Palästina-Vereins, B. ii. (1879). Holtz., H. C., thinks that either this view must be adopted or the true reading in the clause referring to B. must be that represented in some Latin copies: “trans fretum a Bedsaida,” C. Veron.; “a Bethsaida,” C. Monac.


Verses 45-52

Mark 6:45-52. Another sea-anecdote (Matthew 14:22-33). Luke drops out here and does not join his brother evangelists till we come to Mark 8:27.


Verse 46

Mark 6:46. ἀποταξάμενος, having dismissed them, i.e., the multitude; late Greek condemned by Phryn., p. 23 ( ἔκφυλον πάνυ).


Verse 48

Mark 6:48. ἐν τῷ ἐλαύνειν, in pro pelling (the ship with oars).— περὶ τετ. φυλ., about the fourth watch, between three and six in the morning, towards dawn.— ἤθελε παρελθεῖν, He wished to pass them—“praeterire eos,” Vul.; it appeared so to them.


Verse 50

Mark 6:50. Not quite an instance of Mark’s habit of iteration: explains how they came to think it was a phantasm. All saw what looked like Jesus, yet they could not believe it was He, a real man, walking on the water; therefore they took fright and rushed to the conclusion: a spectre!


Verse 51

Mark 6:51. ἐκόπασεν, as in Mark 4:39λίαν ἐκ περισσοῦ, very exceedingly, a double superlative, a most likely combination for Mark, though ἐκ περ. is wanting in some important MSS. and omitted in W.H(59) Cf. ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ in Ephesians 3:20.


Verse 52

Mark 6:52 reflects on the astonishment of the Twelve as blameworthy in view of the recent feeding of the multitude. One might rather have expected a reference to the stilling of the storm in crossing to Decapolis. But that seems to have appeared a small matter compared with walking on the sea. The evangelist seems anxious to show how much the Twelve needed the instruction to which in the sequel Jesus gives Himself more and more.


Verse 53

Mark 6:53. προσωρμίσθησαν ( πρὸς ὁρμίζω from ὄρμος), they came to anchor, or landed on the beach; here only in N. T.


Verses 53-56

Mark 6:53-56. The landing (Matthew 14:34-36).


Verse 55

Mark 6:55. ἐπὶ τοῖς κραββάτοις, upon their beds, vide Mark 2:4.— περιφέρειν, to carry about from place to place. If they did not find Jesus at one place, they were not discouraged, but carried their sick to another place where He was likely to be. Their energy, not less than the word κραββάτοις, recalls the story in Mark 2:1-12.— ὅπου ἤκουον ὅτι ἔστιν, not: wherever He was = ὅπου ἦν, but: wherever they were told He was; ἐστιν, present, from the point of view of those who gave the information in indirect discourse. Vide on this, Burton, M. and T., § 351.


Verse 56

Mark 6:56. κώμας, πόλεις, ἀγρούς: point probably to a wider sphere of activity than the plain of Gennesaret. This was practically the close of the healing ministry, in which the expectation and faith of the people were wound pp to the highest pitch.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Mark 6:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/mark-6.html. 1897-1910.

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