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See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 13:54-58.
And he called unto him the twelve - See the notes at Matthew 10:1.
And began to send them forth by two and two - In order that they might “support” and “encourage” each other in their work. Amid the trials and opposition with which they would meet, mutual counsel and aid would greatly lighten their burdens and alleviate their calamities. Mutual counsel might also contribute to their success, and lead to “united” plans to advance the kingdom of the Redeemer. Jesus here, as in all the work of religion, consulted at the same time the “happiness” and the “usefulness” of his disciples; nor are they ever separated. Whatever contributes to the “usefulness” of his people produces also their happiness; or, in other words, the secret of being happy is to be “useful.”
See these verses fully explained in the notes at Matthew 10:9-15. In Matthew 10:5 they were commanded not to go among the Gentiles or Samaritans. Mark omits that direction, perhaps, because he was writing for the “Gentiles,” and the direction might create unnecessary difficulty or offence. Perhaps he omits it also because the command was given for a temporary purpose, and was not in force at the time of his writing.
Preached that men should repent - See the nature of repentance explained in notes at Matthew 3:2. They were now called upon to repent and reform their lives because sin was evil, because the Messiah had come to preach forgiveness to the penitent, and because at “his” presence it was fit that the nation should turn from its sins and prepare to receive him.
Cast out many devils - See the notes at Matthew 4:24.
And anointed with oil ... - Anointing with oil was in common use among the Jews in cases of sickness. It was supposed to have a mild, soothing, and alleviating effect on the body. In James 5:14, the elders of the church, in connection with prayer, were directed also to anoint the sick with “oil.” See the notes at that passage. It was also used in wounds. See the notes at Isaiah 1:6. The good Samaritan poured oil and wine into the wounds of the waylaid Jew, Luke 10:34. Josephus says that, in the last sickness of Herod, his physicians commanded him to be anointed with oil. It need not be supposed, however, that the apostles used oil for mere “medical” purposes. It was used, probably, like the imposition of hands, or like our Saviour’s anointing the eyes of the blind with clay; also as a sign, in expectation of imparting that aid and comfort from God which was sought, and which was “represented” by the soothing and gentle effect of oil.
For Herod feared John - That is, he stood in awe of him on account of his sanctity, and his boldness and fearlessness in reproving sin.
Knowing that he was a just man and an Holy - A holy, pious, upright, honest man - a man who would not be afraid of him, or afraid to speak his real sentiments.
And observed him - Margin, “kept him, or saved him.” This does not mean that he “observed” or obeyed his teachings, but that he kept him in safe custody in order to preserve him from the machinations of Herodias. He was willing to show his respect for John, and to secure him from danger, and even to do “many things” which might indicate respect for him - at least, to do so much as to guard him from his enemies.
And did many things - But he did not do the thing which was demanded of him - to break off from his sins. He attempted to make a compromise with his conscience. He still loved his sins, and did “other” things which he supposed might be accepted in the place of putting away, as he ought, the wife of his brother - the polluted and adulterous woman with whom he lived. Perhaps he treated John kindly, or spoke well of him, or aided him in his wants, and attempted in this way to silence his rebukes and destroy his faithfulness. This was probably before John was imprisoned. So sinners often treat ministers kindly, and do much to make them comfortable, and hear them gladly, while they are still unwilling to do the thing which is demanded of them - to repent and believe the gospel. They expect that their kind attentions will be accepted in the place of what God demands - repentance and the forsaking of their sins.
And the apostles gathered themselves together - That is, those whom he had sent out two and two, Mark 4:7. Having traveled around the country, they returned and met the Saviour at Capernaum.
A desert place - A retired place, across the sea from Capernaum, where they would be free from interruption.
There were many coming and going - Coming to be healed and retiring, or coming to hear him preach. It means that they were “thronged,” or that there was a vast multitude attending his preaching.
twelve baskets - Baskets belonging to the disciples, in which they carried their provisions, or, perhaps, belonging to some of the multitude.
Fragments - Broken pieces of the bread that remained.
The border of his garment - Compare the notes at Matthew 9:20.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Mark 6". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany