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Saturday, July 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
Mark 7

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-5

43 To fully appreciate the import of this sign, it must be compared with a similar one which occurred some time later. The cumulative contrast cannot be fully seen in an inaccurate version, but is readily observed when it is noted that the numbers are confirmed by the kinds of "baskets" and that the twelve large panniers which were left after feeding five thousand with five cakes were packed ( Joh_6:13 ) while the seven smaller hampers left after feeding the four thousand with seven cakes, were simply full. And yet, after seeing both of these signs, the disciples worry because they forgot to get bread! It is almost impossible for us to believe that God can do most when man's aid is least.

45-51 Compare Mat_14:22-33 ; Joh_6:14-21 .

45 There is a new setting of the scenes. The separation from the disciples and ascent into a mountain for intercession with God pictures His ascension and priestly mediacy for Israel during their apostasy. Their torment in rowing corresponds to the fearful affliction of the time of the end, such as has not yet occurred, neither will occur again. The contrary wind gives us the cause of their torment, the terrible, yet unseen spiritual powers which will seek to destroy them, by stirring up the nations against them. His walking on the sea symbolizes His control of the turbulent upheavals of mankind. When He comes to them the wind dies down. When He comes to Israel the spiritual powers are seized and Satan is bound. It is blessed to see, in this miracle, a proof of His power over the wind and the waves. It is wonderful to see Him walk on the water. But is it not more marvelous to see in all this a sign of His far greater power over the rebellious hordes of the unseen world and the surging masses of mankind? When He comes again, then He will indeed speak peace to the trembling hearts of His terrified disciples. Such scenes as this will give confidence to His saints in that awful time of trouble which is impending over the earth today. The powers of evil may swoop down upon them. They may stir the nations into still greater hatred of the Jew. Yet those of them who know Him will wait for Him to arise and calm His creatures.

53-56 Compare Mat_14:34-36 .

53 The lake of Galilee was so named from its western shore, but it was also called Tiberias, for the city of that name, and Gennesaret, from the region on its northwestern strand. Josephus is eloquent in his praises of the natural advantages of this part of Galilee. Though far below sea level, the climate seems to have been most equable. All sorts of fruits flourished in its fertile soil. It was abundantly watered from copious springs and streamlets. Does not this suggest that this is another prophetic preview of the kingdom, in which the whole earth will produce abundantly of all good things ? He has come down from above and rescued His own from the wind and the sea, just as He will save Israel from the clutches of Satan and the nations. Now the time of blessing is due. Hence we find Him in fertile and flourishing

Gennesaret, carrying wealth and blessing wherever He goes. Happy, indeed, was that land, for He Who had stilled the fears of His people, now lays His healing hand on their afflictions, a prophecy of the day when the Sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings ( Mal_4:2 ). The merest contact with His robe brings salvation. Touching the tassel entitles all to participate in His finished righteousness.

1-13 Compare Mat_15:1-9 .

1 It was the custom to eat with the fingers. No forks or spoons were used in conveying food to the mouth. Yet the Pharisees were not worried about cleanliness or table manners, but about conformity to tradition. Instead of cleansing the inside of the hands which touched the food, they rinsed the outside, clenching their fists when they washed. Going to market involved contact with others, which they deemed contaminating, here they would not eat until they had been sprinkled. The baptizing of cups and ewers and copper vessels and couches, was not for cleanliness, but ceremonial purity, and the most perfunctory application of water in almost any way was deemed highly devout. The word baptism is really Greek, and differs from sprinkling or washing or bathing only in the fact that it was ceremonial rather than practical. Its cleansing was spiritual, not physical.

Verses 6-30

6-7 Compare Isa_29:13 .

6 The religious Jew delighted in forms and ceremonies, pious ejaculations and protracted prayers, yet at heart he was not vitally concerned with the things of God. No better test could have been made than to bring them into the presence of Him Who was the Image of God and the Word of God. Instead of worshiping, they criticised Him.

7 The writer of these notes cannot help uttering a heartfelt prayer that they will never be taken for more than what they are intended to be-suggestive thoughts which lead to and not from the sacred text. He would rather they would all vanish than that they should stand between anyone and the living oracles. May we never be tainted with the spirit of the ancient Rabbis who did not scruple to place their words above the Sacred Scrolls. In the Talmud we read: "The words of the scribes are more noble than the words of the law; for the words of the law are both hard and easy [to understand], but the words of the scribes are all easy." Another traditional saying was "He who deals with scripture does a thing indifferent; he who reads the Mishna has a reward; but he who devotes himself to the Gemara is most meritorious of all." In the same way the commentaries and confessions and creeds of Christendom have a stronger hold on the hearts of many of His saints, than the inspired Scriptures. May He grant that many will return to the fountain undefiled!

8 Sad to say, even in this day some of the saints have been led to practically repudiate God's word for the tenets of those who propose to explain it. No teacher is worthy of the name who supplants the Scriptures.

9 The "Corban" was the approach offering, by means of which the offerer sought the favor of God. All a young man had to do to be free from the support of his parents was to say this word and he was free from all further obligation. In theory he was giving God a greater place than his parents. In fact, he was not only dishonoring his progenitors, but God, and invalidating His law.

10 Compare Exo_20:12 ; Exo_21:17 .

14-23 Compare Mat_15:10-20 .

20 The supercilious Pharisees, who were so concerned lest they should be contaminated by contact with their inferiors, or by eating food with hands ceremonially unclean, were themselves the most contaminating of all. Their pride and evil reasonings were most defiling even when they complained of the disciples who ate with unwashed hands.

24-30 Compare Mat_15:21-28

24 Our Lord now comes near the borders of the land. This is most instructive and interesting to all who are outside the pale of the promises. Hitherto He had been blessing His own people and proselytes to Judaism. Now He comes into contact with a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician woman. How will He act in the presence of this foreigner? He shows none of the arrogant hatred of the Jew, yet insists that she take the place to which the prophets assign the nations. She has no right at the table or to the food on it. This is for Israel. Our Lord was a Servant of the Circumcision ( Rom_15:8 ). He was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He had nothing for this alien. Instead of defending her nation and claiming equality with the favored Jew, she acknowledges their priority and superiority. But she was satisfied that His blessing was so bountiful that Israel could not contain it, and would leave an overplus for the nations. Thus she glorified God and believed His word. Such is the blessing of the nations in the kingdom. Even during Paul's itinerant ministry, the nations partook of Israel's spiritual things. They were debtors ( Rom_15:27 ). In the millennium they will be blessed with and through Israel. But, now that the secret of the present administration of grace has been revealed, we are no longer guests. We are not puppies, glad to get the scraps, but members of God's family ( Eph_2:19 ). The Syro-Phoenician woman's place was far below Israel's. The transcendent riches of God.s grace which are ours in Christ Jesus place us immeasurably above them. During the period from the call of Saul to his imprisonment in Rome the nations were Israel's guests, but gradually, as Israel's provision failed, they were given food of their own, until they needed none from Israel.

Verses 31-37

31-37 Compare Mat_15:29-31 .

32 The meeting with the Greek woman of Syro-Phoenicia suggests a phase of kingdom service for which Israel, in our Lord's day, was utterly incapable. In Jehovah's day the Lord's word will go forth from Jerusalem. The evangel will be proclaimed in every corner of the earth. The knowledge of Jehovah will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. It will be the greatest missionary program the earth has ever seen, and the first to be fully successful. But the nation of Israel in our Lord's day was no more fitted to proclaim the evangel than a deaf-mute. They did not hear Him themselves, and they would not proclaim His message because they could not hear. This is the setting which suggests itself when they bring the Lord a deaf-mute, and He heals him. The peculiar method of healing has remained quite a mystery to theologians, who are at a loss why He should not heal him with a word, instead of putting His fingers in his ears and touching his tongue. Some have suggested that saliva is a healing agent! But the saliva was not put on his tongue. Little significance can be gathered from His actions unless we interpret their symbolism along rational lines. There are three elements in their preparation for the millennial ministry: His works, His words, His sufferings. His works will force themselves on their attention. This is signified by His thrusting His fingers in the deaf man's ears. His words are signified by the saliva which came out of His mouth, and, accompanied by the touching of his tongue, enable them to talk. He will put His words in their mouths. His groans are the signs of His sufferings. Through them Israel will be saved. And the unrestrainable proclamation was but a small rehearsal of that glorious day when the glad tidings will be heard in every land. The Jews are the great missionary nation. They are now being schooled in the great university of experience for the future evangelization of the world. They are inured to every climate, familiar with every language, at home in every country. Sustained by the authority of the King of kings, they will carry out the first successful world missionary movement.

1-3 Compare Mat_15:32-34 .

1 Why were there two different occasions on which our Lord fed a great company of people? Why five cakes in one instance and seven in the other? Great as is the miracle performed on these two occasions, we are not satisfied until we can read the sign. What did it signify?

Man shall not live on bread only, but on every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God. The written and the living Word are the true bread of God. The living Word cannot be divided. But the written word is composed of separate books. These may well be represented by the cakes given to the multitude. These signs are in the wilderness, hence cannot be in the kingdom, but give us His provision for His people before the kingdom comes. The kingdom testimony is divided into two distinct periods, one, in the first century, which is past, and one, still to come, at the end of the eon, which is future. The first sign, where there were five cakes, brings before us the past means of subsistence, of the kingdom saints, the first three "gospels", Acts and Hebrews. (John is intended for the kingdom itself.) It was this spiritual food that sufficed for so many, and left such an abundant surplus. May we not distribute these scraps to the nations, according to the previous sign? Nothing is said of what was done with them, but we know that the nations came in for some blessing, as recorded in the book of Acts. God has made provision for the future wilderness needs of His kingdom people by means of seven epistles, corresponding to the seven cakes in the second sign. These are James, first and second Peter, first, second and third John, and Jude. Though the scraps are not so abundant, we know that there will be some among the nations who will find some crumbs even at that time.

6-10 Compare Mat_15:35-39 .

11-21 Compare Mat_16:1-12 . See Luk_12:1-3 .

12 After giving them this marvelous sign they ask for a sign! His exclamation shows how hopeless He thought them. Suppose He should ? They would not recognize it. It is useless to speak to the deaf or put a picture before the eyes of the blind.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Mark 7". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/mark-7.html. 1968.
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