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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament
Mark 8

 

 

Verse 1

Mark 8:1. ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις: a vague phrase, used only once again in this Gospel (Mark 1:9, in reference to Jesus going from Nazareth to be baptised), indicating inability to assign to the following incident a precise historical place. Cf. Matthew 3:1 for similar vague use of the expression.— πάλιν πολλοῦ . . This well-attested reading is another indication of the evangelist’s helplessness as to historical connection: there being again a great crowd. Why? where? not indicated, and we are not entitled to assert that the scene of the event was Decapolis, and the occasion the healing of the deaf-mute. The story is in the air, and this is one of the facts that have to be reckoned with by defenders of the reality of the second feeding against those who maintain that it is only a literary duplicate of the first, due to the circumstance that the Petrine version of it differed in some particulars from that in the Logia of Matthew. On this subject I do not dogmatise, but I cannot pretend to be insensible to the difficulties connected with it.— ὄχλου, a great crowd again. How often the crowd figures in the evangelic story! It is the one monotonous feature in narratives of thrilling interest.


Verses 1-10

Mark 8:1-10. Second feeding (Matthew 15:32-39).


Verse 2

Mark 8:2. Vide on Matthew 15:32.


Verse 3

Mark 8:3. ἐκλυθήσονται, they will faint. This verb is used in N. T. in middle or passive in the sense of being faint or weary in body or mind (Galatians 6:9, Hebrews 12:3).— καί τινεςεἰσίν, and some of them are from a distance, peculiar to Mark. The meaning is that such, even if in vigour at starting, would be exhausted before reaching their destination. But could they not get food by the way?


Verse 4

Mark 8:4. πόθεν, whence? This adverb was used by the Greeks, in speaking of food, in reference to the source of supply— πόθεν φάγητε = “unde cibum petituri sitis”. Examples in Kypke, Raphel, Palairet.— ἐπʼ ἐρημίας, in a desert. The scene of the first feeding is a desert place also (chap. Mark 6:32). But in that case food was purchasable within a reasonable distance; not so here.


Verse 6

Mark 8:6. Compare the meagre statement here with the picturesque description in Mark 6:38-40. The evangelist seems to lack interest in the twice-told tale. Mark 8:7. ἰχθύδια: another of Mark’s diminutives, but Matthew has it also (Mark 15:34), copied probably from Mark. In these two places only.


Verse 8

Mark 8:8. περισσεύματα κλασμάτων, the remainders of the broken pieces. Matthew uses the singular neuter, τὸ περισσεῦον, in both feedings.— σπυρίδας: in both accounts of second feeding, κοφίνους in both accounts of first ( κόφινοι in Luke). On the difference in meaning, vide notes on Matthew 15:37.


Verse 10

Mark 8:10. Here as in case of first feeding there is a crossing of the lake immediately after ( εὐθὺς, which has an obvious reason in first case). This time Jesus and the Twelve enter the boat together, at least in Mark’s narrative ( μετὰ τῶν μαθητῶν).— δαλμανουθά, in Matthew ΄αγαδάν; both alike unknown: another of the features in this narrative which give a handle to critical doubt. Some place it on the western shore in the plain of Gennesaret (Furrer, “On the site of Khan Minyeh lay once Dalmanutha,” Wanderungen, p. 369); others to the south-east of the lake near the junction of the Yarmuk with the Jordan (Delhemiyeh, Robinson, B. R., iii. 264). Weiss (in Meyer) adopts this view. Holtzmann (H. C.), while leaning to the former alternative, leaves the matter doubtful.


Verse 11

Mark 8:11. ἐξῆλθον οἱ φ., the Pharisees went out, from their seat in the Holy Land into the heathen Decapolis, otherwise carefully shunned, in their zeal against Jesus. So Weiss (in Meyer).


Verse 11-12

Mark 8:11-12. Pharisees seek a sign (Matthew 16:1-4).


Verse 12

Mark 8:12. ἀναστενάξας, fetching a deep sigh, here only in N. T.; in Sept(68), Lament. Mark 1:4, Sirach 25:18, etc.— τῷ πνεύματι α., in His spirit. The sigh physical, its cause spiritual—a sense of irreconcilable enmity, invincible unbelief, and coming doom.— εἰ δοθήσεται, if there shall be given = there shall not ( οὐ) be given a Hebraistic form of emphatic negative assertion. The suppressed apodosis is: may I die, or God punish me. Other instances in Hebrews 3:11; Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 4:5. In Mark there is an absolute refusal of a sign. In Matthew the refusal is qualified by offer of Jonah. But that was an absolute refusal of signs in their sense.


Verse 13

Mark 8:13. εἰς τὸ πέραν, to the other side; which, east or west? Here again opinion is divided. The reference to Bethsaida, Mark 8:22, might be expected to decide, but then there is the dispute about the two Bethsaidas; Bethsaida Julias, and Bethsaida on the western shore. These points are among the obscurities of the Synoptical narratives which we are reluctantly compelled to leave in twilight.


Verses 13-21

Mark 8:13-21. Warning against evil leavens (Matthew 16:4-12).


Verse 14

Mark 8:14. εἰ μὴ ἕνα ἄρτον: a curiously exact reminiscence where so much else that seems to us more important is left vague. But it shows that we have to do with reality, for the suggestion of the Tübingen critics that it is a mere bit of word painting is not credible. The one loaf seems to witness to a Christ-like easymindedness as to food in the disciple-circle. Let to-morrow look after itself!


Verse 15

Mark 8:15. ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης, etc.: two leavens, one of Pharisees, another of Herod, yet placed together because morally akin and coincident in practical outcome. Vide notes on Matthew 16:1-6.


Verse 16

Mark 8:16. πρὸς ἀλλήλους. Mt. has ἐν ἑαυτοῖς. The mind of Jesus was profoundly preoccupied with the ominous demand of the sign-seekers, and the disciples might talk quietly to each other unnoticed by Him.


Verse 17

Mark 8:17. γνοὺς: He does notice, however, and administers a sharp rebuke for their preoccupation with mere temporalities, as if there were nothing higher to be thought of than bread.— πεπωρωμένην, in a hardened state; the word stands in an emphatic position. For the time the Twelve are wayside hearers, with hearts like a beaten path, into which the higher truths cannot sink so as to germinate.


Verse 18

Mark 8:18 repeats in reference to the Twelve the hard saying uttered concerning the multitude on the day of the parables (Mark 4:12). In Mark 8:19-20 Jesus puts the Twelve through their catechism in reference to the recent feedings, and then in Mark 8:21 (according to reading in (69)) asks in the tone of a disappointed Master: How do you not understand? If we may emphasise the imperfect tense of ἔλεγεν, He said this over and over again, half speaking to them, half to Himself; another of Mk.’s realistic features. All this shows how much the Twelve needed special instruction, and it is obviously Mk.’s aim to make this prominent. Desire for leisure to attend to their instruction is in his narrative the key to the excursions in the direction of Tyre and Sidon and to Caesarea Philippi.


Verse 22

Mark 8:22. βηθσαϊδάν. If there were two Beth-saidas, which of the two? If only one of course it was Bethsaida Julias. But against this has been cited the term κώμη twice applied to the town (Mark 8:23; Mark 8:26), which, however, may be regarded as satisfactorily explained by the remark: it had been a village, and was first made a town by Philip, who enlarged and beautified it and called it Julias in honour of the daughter of Augustus (Joseph., B. J., ii., 9, 1, etc.). So Meyer and others.


Verses 22-26

Mark 8:22-26. A blind man cured at Bethsaida, peculiar to Mk.


Verse 23

Mark 8:23. ἔξω τῆς κώμης, outside the village, for the same reason as in Mark 7:33, to avoid creating a run on Him for cures. Therefore Jesus becomes conductor of the blind man Himself, though he doubtless had one (Weiss-Meyer).— πτύσας, spitting, in this case certainly on the diseased parts. Spittle was regarded as a means of cure by the ancients. Holtzmann (H. C.) cites the story of Vespasian in Alexandria narrated by Tacitus (Hist., iv., 81). The prince was asked to sprinkle the eyes of a blind man “oris excremento”.— εἴ τι βλέπεις, do you, possibly, see anything? εἰ with a direct question, vide Winer, lvii., 2.


Verse 24

Mark 8:24. ἀναβλέψας: the narrative contains three compounds of βλέπω ( ἀνὰ, διὰ, ἐν); the first denotes looking up in the tentative manner of blind men, the second looking through (a mist as it were) so as to see clearly, the third looking into so as to see distinctly, as one sees the exact outlines of a near object (cf. Mark 14:67).— ὡς δένδρα, as trees, so indistinct was vision as yet; yet not trees, but men because moving (“non arbores, quia ambulent,” Bengel). He knew what a man is like, therefore he had once seen, not born blind.


Verse 25

Mark 8:25. A second touch brings better vision, so that διέβλεψεν, and he was now restored to full use of his eyes; the result being permanent perfect vision— ἐνέβλεπεν, imperfect.— διέβλεψεν points to the first act of distinct seeing.— τηλαυγῶς ( τῆλε, αὐγή here only), shining from afar. He saw distant objects distinctly as if they were near; did not need to go near them to see them.


Verse 26

Mark 8:26. εἰς οἶκον, home.— μηδὲ, etc., go not into the village; to avoid creating a sensation. It has been suggested that the gradual restoration of sight in this case was meant to symbolise the slowness of the Twelve in attaining spiritual insight. They got their eyes opened very gradually like the blind man of Bethsaida. So Klostermann.


Verse 27

Mark 8:27 to Mark 9:1. At Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13-28, Luke 9:18-27).


Verse 27

Mark 8:27. καὶ ἐξῆλθεν: the καὶ connects very loosely with what goes before, but presumably ἐξῆλθεν refers to Bethsaida. They leave it and go northwards towards Caesarea Philippi, up the Jordan valley, a distance of some twenty-five or thirty miles.— ἰησοῦς: that Jesus is here expressly named is a hint that something very important is to be narrated, and the mention of the disciples along with Him indicates that it closely concerns them.— εἰς τὰς κώμας κ. τ. φ., to the villages of Caesarea Philippi, not to Caesarea Philippi itself. Mt. has τὰ μέρη. Apparently they did not enter the city itself. Jesus seems to have avoided the towns in which the Herodian passion for ambitious architecture was displayed. Besides at this time He desired solitude.— ἐν τῆ ὁδῷ, on the way, probably when the city of Caesarea Philippi came into view. Vide on Matthew 16:13. But conversation leading up to the critical subject might begin as soon as they had got clear of Bethsaida. No time to be lost now that the Master had got the Twelve by themselves. Or was the Master, very silent on that journey, preparing His own mind for what was coming?— ἐπηρώτα, imperfect, because subordinate to the reply of the disciples, the main thing.— τίνα με, etc.: on the form of the question vide on Matthew 16:13.


Verse 28

Mark 8:28. οἱ δὲ εἰπαν α. λέγοντες, they said, saying; tautology, somewhat like the vulgar English idiom: He said, says he; fixing attention on what is said.— ἰωάννην τ. β.: the accusative depending on λέγουσιν οἱ ἄνθρωποί σε εἰναι understood. This infinitive construction passes into direct speech in the last clause: ὅτι εἷς ( εἶ) τ. προφητῶν. The opinions reported are much the same as in Mark 6:14-15.


Verse 29

Mark 8:29. ὑμεῖς δὲ, etc.: a very pointed question given by all the Synoptists in the same terms. The reply, on the other hand, is different in each. Vide on Matthew 16:16.— ἀποκριθεὶς λέγει: we have here an aorist participle of identical action with a finite verb in the present tense. It usually goes with the aorist (cf. Matthew 16:17, ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν).


Verse 30

Mark 8:30. ἐπετίμησεν, He threatened them, spoke in a tone of menace, as if anticipating foolish talk— περὶ αὐτοῦ—about Him, i.e., about His being the Christ, as in Mt. The prohibition might have a double reference: to the people, to prevent the spread of crude ideas as to the Messiahship of Jesus; to the disciples, that they might keep the new faith to themselves till it took deep root in their own souls. Recall Carlyle’s counsel to young men: if thou hast an idea keep it to thyself, for as soon as thou hast spoken it it is dead to thee (Stump Orator, in Latter Day Pamphlets).


Verse 31

Mark 8:31. καὶ: Mt. has the more emphatic ἀπὸ τότε, indicating that then began an entirely new way of speaking as to the coming fate of Jesus.— διδάσκειν, to teach, more appropriate is Mt.’s word, δεικνύειν, to show. It was a solemn intimation rather than instruction that was given.— δεῖ, it must be; in all three evangelists. It points to the inevitableness of the event, not to the rationale of it. On that subject Jesus gave in the first place no instruction.— πολλὰ παθεῖν: where not indicated, as in Mt.— ἀποδοκιμασθῆναι: an expressive word taken from Psalms 118:22, fitly indicating the precise share of the religious authorities in the coming tragedy. Their part was solemnly to disapprove of the claimant to Messiahship. All else was the natural sequel of their act of rejection.— τῶν πρ., τῶν ἀρ., τῶν γρ.: the article before each of the three classes named, saddling each with its separate responsibility.


Verses 31-33

Mark 8:31-33. First announcement of the Passion.


Verse 32

Mark 8:32. παρρησίᾳ: He spoke the word plainly, unmistakably. This remark was rendered almost necessary by the choice of the word διδάσκειν in Mark 8:31. Mt.’s δεικνύειν implies παρρησίᾳ. This word (from πᾶς, ῥῆσις) in ordinary Greek usage means frank, unreserved speech, as opposed to partial or total silence. Here, as in John 11:14; John 16:25; John 16:29, it means plain speech as opposed to hints or veiled allusions, such as Jesus had previously given; as in Mark 2:20 (bridegroom taken away). In this sense St. Paul (2 Corinthians 3:12) claims παρρησία for the Christian ministry in contrast to the mystery connected with the legal dispensation as symbolised by the veil of Moses. The term was adopted into the Rabbinical vocabulary, and used to signify unveiled speech as opposed to metaphorical or parabolic speech (Wünsche, Beiträge, ad loc.).— προσλαβόμενος π.: what Peter said is not given, Mk’s aim being simply to show that Jesus had so spoken that misunderstanding of what He said was impossible. That the news should be unwelcome is regarded as a matter of course.


Verse 33

Mark 8:33. ἐπιστραφεὶς: the compound instead of the simple verb in Mt., which Mk. does not use.— ἰδὼν τ. μαθ.: the rebuke is administered for the benefit of all, not merely to put down Peter. This resistance to the cross must be grappled with at once and decisively. What Peter said, all felt. In Mk.’s report of the rebuke the words σκάνδαλον εἶ ἐμοῦ are omitted. On the saying vide in Mt.


Verse 34

Mark 8:34. τὸν ὄχλον, the crowd. Even here! A surprise; is it not a mistake? So appears to think Weiss, who (in Meyer) accounts for the reference to a crowd by supposing that the words of Matthew 10:38 are in his mind, which are given in Luke 14:25 as spoken to a crowd, probably because they were so given in his source. Jesus certainly desired to be private at this time, and in the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi ought to have succeeded.


Verses 34-38

Mark 8:34-38. First lesson on the cross.


Verse 35

Mark 8:35. τοῦ εὐαγγελίου: for my sake and the Gospel’s, an addition of Mk.’s, possibly a gloss.— σώσει, instead of the more enigmatical εὑρήσει of Mt.


Verse 38

Mark 8:38 reproduces the logion in Matthew 10:33 concerning being ashamed of Jesus, which does not find a place here in Mt.’s version. In Mt.’s form it is the outward ostensible act of denial that is animadverted on; here the feeling of shame, which is its cause—Mark 9:1.— καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς: with this phrase Mk. makes a new start, and turns the close of the Caesarea Philippi conversation into an introduction to the following narrative concerning the transfiguration, apparently suggesting that in the latter event the words found their fulfilment. This impression, if it existed, does not bind the interpreter.— ἀμὴν, introducing a solemn statement.— ἕως ἂν ἴδωσιν, etc.: the promised vision is differently described in the three accounts, as thus:—

Till they see: the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom (Mt.).

Till they see: the Kingdom of God come ( ἐληλυθυῖαν) in power (Mk.).

Till they see: the Kingdom of God (Lk.).

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Mark 8:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/mark-8.html. 1897-1910.

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Sunday, January 19th, 2020
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