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Bible Commentaries
Mark 6

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

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Verses 1-6

See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 13:54-58.

Verse 7

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.”

Verses 8-11

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.

Verse 12

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.

Verse 13

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.

Verses 14-20

See this account of the death of John the Baptist fully explained in the notes at Matthew 14:1-12.

Mark 6:20

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.

Verse 30

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.

Verse 31

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.

Verses 32-44

See this narrative explained in the notes at Matthew 14:13-21.

Mark 6:32

By ship - By a boat or a small vessel.

Privately - Without making their plan known. They intended to go privately. It appears, however, that their intention became known, and multitudes followed them.

Mark 6:33

Afoot thither - On foot to the place where they saw them going.

Out of all cities - All cities or large towns in the neighborhood.

Mark 6:34

Much people ...as sheep ... - They had no one to teach them and guide them. The priests and scribes were proud and corrupt; they despised the common people and neglected them.

Mark 6:35

The time is far passed - The day is almost gone. It is drawing near night.

Mark 6:37

Two hundred pennyworth of bread - About twenty-eight dollars, or 6 British pounds. See the notes at Matthew 14:16. As the disciples had a common purse in which they carried their little property, consisting of the donations of their friends and money to be given to the poor (compare John 12:6; Matthew 26:8-9; Luke 8:3), it is not improbable that they had at this time about this sum in their possession. Philip - for it was he who asked the question John 6:7 - asked, with a mixture of wonder and agitation, whether they should take all their little property and spend it on a single meal? And even if we should, said he, it would not be sufficient to satisfy such a multitude. It was implied in this that, in his view, they could not provide for them if they wished to, and that it would be better to send them away than to attempt it.

Mark 6:40

In ranks - Literally, in the form of square beds in a garden. By regularly formed companies.

By hundreds and by fifties - Some companies had a hundred in them, and some groupings had fifty in them. We do not need to suppose that these were “exactly” formed or arranged, but that this was approximately the number. The expression indicates a “multitude.” There were so many that they sat down, by “hundreds” and by “fifties,” in separate companies, upon the green grass.

Mark 6:43

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.

Verses 45-56

See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 14:22-36.

Mark 6:52

They considered not the miracle of the loaves - They did not remember or call to mind the “power” which Jesus had shown in feeding the five thousand by a miracle, and that, having done that, he had power also to save them from the storm.

Their heart was hardened - Their “mind” was dull to perceive it. This does not mean that they were “opposed” to Jesus, or that they had what we denominate “hardness of heart,” but simply that they were slow to perceive his power. They did not quickly learn, as they ought to have done, that he had all power, and could therefore allay the storm. The word “heart” is frequently used in this sense. See Ephesians 1:18, in Greek; Romans 1:21; Romans 2:15; 2 Corinthians 4:6.

Mark 6:54

They knew him - They “recollected” Jesus, because he had been there before and worked miracles.

Mark 6:56

The border of his garment - Compare the notes at Matthew 9:20.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Mark 6". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnn/mark-6.html. 1870.
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