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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Mark 11




Verse 2

Mark 11:2 . κατέναντι ὑ ., opposite you. This adverb (from κατά ἔναντι ) is not found in Greek authors, but occurs frequently in Sept [100] ἐφʼ ὃν οὐδεὶς οὔπ . ἀν . ἐκάθισεν : this point, that the colt had never been used, would seem of vital importance afterhand, from the Christian point of view, and one cannot wonder that it took a sure place in the tradition, as evinced by the narrative in Mk. followed by Lk. But it is permissible to regard this as an expansion of what Jesus actually said. The idea underlying is that for sacred purposes only unused animals may be employed ( vide Numbers 19:2 , 1 Samuel 6:7 ). λύσατε , φέρετε : aorist and present; the former denoting a momentary act, the latter a process.


Verse 3

Mark 11:3 . ὁ κύριος α . χ . ἔχει , the Master hath need of him. Vide on this at Matthew 21:3 . καὶ εὐθὺς , etc., and straightway He returneth him (the colt) again. πάλιν , a well-attested reading, clearly implies this meaning, i.e. , that Jesus bids His disciples promise the owner that He will return the colt without delay, after He has had His use of it. So without hesitation Weiss (in Meyer) and Holtzmann (H. C.). Meyer thinks this a paltry thing for Christ to say, and rejects πάλιν as an addition due to misunderstanding. Biassed by the same sense of decorum “below the dignity of the occasion and of the Speaker” the Speaker’s Comm. cherishes doubt as to πάλιν , sheltering itself behind the facts that, while the MSS. which insert “again” are generally more remarkable for omissions than additions, yet in this instance they lack the support of ancient versions and early Fathers. I do not feel the force of the argument from decorum. It judges Christ’s action by a conventional standard. Why should not Jesus instruct His disciples to say “it will be returned without delay” as an inducement to lend it? Dignity! How much will have to go if that is to be the test of historicity! There was not only dignity but humiliation in the manner of entering Jerusalem: the need for the colt, the use of it, the fact that it had to be borrowed all enter as elements in the lowly state of the Son of Man. On the whole subject vide notes on Mt. This is another of Mk.’s realisms, which Mt.’s version obliterates. Field ( Otium Nor. ), often bold in his interpretations, here succumbs to the decorum argument, and is biassed by it against the reading πάλιν contained in so many important MSS. ( vide above).

Verse 4

Mark 11:4 . ἀμφόζου ( ἄμφοδον and - ος from ἀμφί and ὁδός , here only in N. T.), the road round the farmyard. In Jeremiah 17:27 , Sept [101] , it seems to denote some part of a town: “the palaces of Jerusalem” (R. V [102] ).


[102] Revised Version.

Verses 5-6

Mark 11:5-6 . Mk. tells the story very circumstantially: how the people of the place challenged their action; how they repeated the message of Jesus; and the satisfactory result. Mt. (Matthew 21:6 ) is much more summary.

Verse 8

Mark 11:8 . στιβάδας ( στιβάς from στείβω , to tread, hence anything trodden, such as straw, reeds, leaves, etc.; here only in N. T.); “layers of leaves,” R. V [103] , margin; or layers of branches ( κλάδους , Mt.) obtained, as Mk. explains, by cutting from the fields ( κόψαντες ἐκ τ . ἀγρῶν ). στοιβάς ( στοιβάδας , T. R.) is probably a corrupt form of στιβάς . Hesychius defines στιβάς as a bed of rods and green grass and leaves ( ἀπὸ ῥάβδων καὶ χλωρῶν χόρτων στρῶσις , καὶ φύλλων ).

[103] Revised Version.

Verse 9

Mark 11:9 . οἱ ποοάυοντες , those going before; probably people who had gone out from the city to meet the procession.

Verse 11

Mark 11:11 . εἰσῆλθεν , etc.: the procession now drops out of view and attention is fixed on the movements of Jesus. He enters Jerusalem, and especially the temple, and surveys all ( περιβλεψάμενος πάντα ) with keenly observant eye, on the outlook, like St. Paul at Athens, not for the picturesque, but for the moral and religious element. He noted the traffic going on within the sacred precincts, though He postponed action till the morrow. Holtzmann (H. C.) thinks that the περιβλεψάμενος πάντα implies that Jesus was a stranger to Jerusalem. But, as Weiss remarks (in Meyer), Mk. cannot have meant to suggest that, even if Jesus had never visited Jerusalem since the beginning of the public ministry.

Verse 12

Mark 11:12 tells how Jesus coming from Bethany, where He had passed the night with the Twelve, felt hunger. This is surprising, considering that He probably spent the night in the house of hospitable friends. Had the sights in the temple killed sleep and appetite, so that He left Bethany without taking any food?

Verses 12-14

Mark 11:12-14 . The fig tree on the way (Matthew 21:18-19 ).

Verse 13

Mark 11:13 . εἰ ἄρα , if in the circumstances; leaves there, creating expectation. εὑρήσει : future indicative; subjunctive, more regular. ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς , etc., for it was not the season of figs. This in Mk. only. The proper season was June for the first-ripe figs. One may wonder, then, how Jesus could have any expectations. But had He? Victor Ant. and Euthy. viewed the hunger as feigned. It is more reasonable to suppose that the hope of finding figs on the tree was, if not feigned, at least extremely faint. He might have a shrewd guess how the fact was, and yet go up to the tree as one who had a right to expect figs where there was a rich foliage, with intent to utilise it for a parable, if He could not find fruit on it. In those last days the prophetic mood was on Jesus in a high degree, and His action would be only very partially understood by the Twelve.

Verse 14

Mark 11:14 . φάγοι : the optative of wishing with μὴ ( μηκέτι ), as in classic Greek (Burton, M. T., § 476). The optative is comparatively rare in the N. T. ἤκουον : the disciples heard (what He said); they were not inobservant. His manner would arrest attention. The remark prepares for what is reported in Mark 11:20 ; hence the imperfect.

Verse 15

Mark 11:15 . εἰς τὸ ἱερόν , into the temple, that is, the forecourt, the court of the Gentiles. τοὺς π . καὶ τοὺς ἀ ., the sellers and, the buyers: article before both (not so in Mt.), both put in the pillory as alike evil in their practice.

Verses 15-19

Mark 11:15-19 . Cleansing of the temple (Matthew 21:12-17 , Luke 19:45-48 ). The state of things Jesus saw in the temple yesterday has been in His mind ever since: through the night watches in Bethany; in the morning, killing appetite; on the way, the key to His enigmatical behaviour towards the fig tree.

Verse 16

Mark 11:16 . ἤφιεν : vide Mark 1:34 . The statement that Jesus did not allow any one to carry anything ( σκεῦος , Luke 8:16 ) through the temple court is peculiar to Mk. It does not point to any attempt at violent prohibition, but simply to His feeling as to the sacredness of the place. He could not bear to see the temple court made a bypath or short cut, not to speak of the graver abominations of the mercenary traffic He had sternly interrupted. In this feeling Jesus was at one with the Rabbis, at least in their theory. “What reverence is due to the temple? That no one go into the mountain of the house (the court of the Gentiles) with his staff, shoes, purse, or dust on his feet. Let no one make a crossing through it, or degrade it into a place of spitting” (Babyl. Jevamoth, in Lightfoot, ad loc. ).

Verse 17

Mark 11:17 . ἐδίδασκε covers more than what He said just then, pointing to a course of teaching ( cf. Mark 11:18 and Luke 19:47 ). Here again we note that while Mt. speaks of a healing ministry in the temple (Matthew 21:14 ) Mk. gives prominence to teaching. Yet Mt. gives a far fuller report of the words spoken by Jesus during the last week. πᾶσι τοῖς ἔθνεσιν , to all the Gentiles, as in Isaiah 56:7 , omitted in the parallels; very suitable in view of the fact that the traffic went on in the court of the Gentiles. A foreshadowing of Christian universalism. πεποιήκατε , ye have made it and it now is.

Verse 18

Mark 11:18 . πῶς , the purpose to get rid of Jesus fixed, but the how puzzling because of the esteem in which He was held.

Verse 19

Mark 11:19 . ὅταν ( ὅτε , T.R.) implies repetition of the action. We have here ἄν with the indicative instead of the optative without ἄν as in the classics. Field ( Ot. Nor. ) regards ὅταν ὀψὲ ἐγένετο as a solecism due probably to Mk. himself (as in Mark 3:11 , ὅταν ἐθεώρουν ), and holds that the connection in Mk.’s narrative is decidedly in favour of a single action instead of, as in Lk., a daily practice.

Verse 20

Mark 11:20 . παραπορευόμενοι , passing by the fig tree (on the way to Jerusalem next morning). πρωῒ : the position of this word after παραπ ., instead of before as in T.R., is important. It gives it emphasis as suggesting that it was in the clear morning light that they noticed the state of the tree. It might have been in the same condition the previous evening, but it would be dark when they I passed the spot.

Verses 20-25

Mark 11:20-25 . The withered fig tree and relative conversation (Matthew 21:20-22 ).

Verse 21

Mark 11:21 . ἀναμνησθεὶς , remembering (what the Master had said the previous morning). ὁ Πέτρος : spokesman as usual; the disciples generally in Mt.

Verse 22

Mark 11:22 . ἔχετε πίστιν , have faith . The thoughts of Jesus here take a turn in a different direction to what we should have expected. We look for explanations as to the real meaning of an apparently unreasonable action, the cursing of a fig tree. Instead, He turns aside to the subject of the faith necessary to perform miraculous actions. Can it be that the tradition is at fault here, connecting genuine words of the Master about faith and prayer with a comparatively unsuitable occasion? Certainly much of what is given here is found in other connections

Verse 23

Mark 11:23 in Matthew 17:20 , Luke 17:6 ; Mark 11:24 in Matthew 7:7 , Luke 11:9 ; Mark 11:25 in Matthew 18:35 ; of course in somewhat altered form. Mk. seems here to make room for some important words of our Lord, as if to compensate for neglect of the didache which he knew to be an important feature in His ministry, doing this, however, as Meyer remarks, by way of thoughtful redaction, not by mere random insertion. πίστιν Θεοῦ , faith in God, genitive objective as in Romans 3:22 and Hebrews 6:2 ( βαπτισμῶν διδαχὴν ).

Verse 24

Mark 11:24 . ἐλάβετε ; this reading ( [104] [105] [106] [107] [108] ) Fritzsche pronounces absurd. But its very difficulty as compared with λαμβάνετε (T.R.) guarantees its genuineness. And it in not unintelligible if, with Meyer, we take the aorist as referring to the divine purpose, or even as the aorist of immediate consequence, as in John 15:6 ( ἐβλήθη ). So De Wette, vide Winer, sec. xl. 5 b.

[104] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[105] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[106] Codex Ephraemi

[107] Codex Regius--eighth century, represents an ancient text, and is often in agreement with א and B.

[108] Codex Sangallensis, a Graeco-Latin MS. of the tenth century, and having many ancient readings, especially in Mark.

Verse 27

Mark 11:27 . πάλιν , again , for the third time: on the day of arrival, on the day of the temple cleansing, and on this day, the event of which is the questioning as to authority. περιπατοῦντος αὐτοῦ , while He is walking about, genitive absolute, instead of accusative governed by πρὸς ; probably simply descriptive (Schanz) and not implying anything offensive in manner walking as if He were Lord of the place (Klosier.); nor, on the other hand, meant to convey the idea that Jesus was giving no fresh cause of offence, simply walking about (Weiss).

Verses 27-33

Mark 11:27-33 . By what authority? (Matthew 21:23-27 , Luke 20:1-8 ).

Verse 28

Mark 11:28 . ἵνα ταῦτα ποιῆς : ἵνα with subjunctive after ἐξουσίαν instead of infinitive found in Mark 2:10 , Mark 3:15 .

Verse 29

Mark 11:29 . The grammatical structure of this sentence, compared with that in Matthew 21:24 , is crude καὶ ἀποκρίθητέ μοι instead of ὃν ἐὰν εἴπητέ μοι . It is colloquial grammar, the easy-going grammar of popular conversation. ἕνα λόλον , vide at Matthew 21:24 .

Verse 30

Mark 11:30 . ἀποκρίθητέ μοι , answer me; spoken in the confident tone of one who knows they cannot and will not try.

Verses 31-32

Mark 11:31-32 give their inward thoughts as divined by Jesus. Their spoken answer was a simple οὐκ οἴδαμεν (Mark 11:33 ).

Verse 32

Mark 11:32 . ἀλλὰ εἲπωμεν , ἐξ ἀνθρώπων ; = but suppose we say, from men? ἐφοβοῦντο τὸν ὄχλον . Here Mk. thinks for them instead of letting them think for themselves as in Mt. (Matthew 11:26 , φοβούμεθα ) = they were afraid of the multitude. ἅπαντες γὰρ , etc.: here again the construction is somewhat crude Ἰωάννην by attraction, object of the verb εἶχον instead of the subject of ἦν , and ὄντως by trajection separated from the verb it qualifies, ἦν , giving this sense: for all held John truly that he was a prophet = for all held that John was indeed a prophet.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Mark 11". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.