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The beginning of the Gospel. The Greek word and Latin derived from it, signifies the good news, or happy tidings about Christ's coming and doctrine. The word gospel is from the Saxon, God's spell, or good spell, i.e. God's word, or good speech. (Witham) --- Some are of opinion that the termination of the first verse should be pointed with a simple comma, thus connecting it with the sequel; and the Greek text seems to favour this sentiment. According to the punctuation of the Vulgate, the first verse is merely the inscription or title.
Greek: Euaggelion, Evangelium, bonum nuncium.
In Isaias, the prophet. That in the ancient copies was read Isaias, and not Malachias, is confirmed by the Syriac version, and also by St. Iren'e6us, Origen, St. Jerome, &c. It is also proved from an objection of Porphyrius, who says, St. Mark mistook Isaias for Malachias. In the ordinary Greek copies at present, we read in the prophets, not naming either Isaias or Malachias. The words seem taken partly out of one, and partly out of the other. These words, behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare the way before thee, are found Malachias iii. ver. 1. And the following words, a voice of one crying in the desert: prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths, are is Isaias, chap. xl, ver. 3. (Witham) --- In the beginning of his gospel, St. Mark alleges the authority of the prophets, that he might induce every one, both Jew and Gentile, to receive with willingness what he here relates, as the authority of the prophets so highly respected was very great. St. John [the Baptist] is here styled an angel, on account of his angelic life, and extraordinary sanctity; but what is meant by, who shall prepare the way, is, that St. John is to prepare the minds of the Jews, by his baptism and preaching, to receive their Messias. (Theophylactus) See in Matthew xi. 10.
See Matthew iii. 3.
For the remission of sins. Some commentators think from this that the baptism of John remitted sins, though he says in another place, I baptize you with water, but there has stood one amongst you, who will baptize you with water and the Holy Ghost, to shew that he did not baptize with the Holy Ghost, without which there is no remission of sin. This apparent difficulty will be easily reconciled, if we refer this expression to the word penance, and not baptism; so that by penance their sins were to be washed away, and there were baptized to shew their detestation of their former life. (Jansenius, Concord. Evang.)
See Matthew iii. 4. --- Wild honey. Rabbanus thinks it was a kind of white and tender leaf, which, when rubbed in the hand, emitted a juice like honey. Suidas thinks it was a kind of dew, collected from leaves of trees, and was called manna. But St. John Chrysostom, Theophylactus, Euthymius, and St. Isidore, with greatest probability, think it was honey collected by wild bees, in the fissures of rocks or in the holes of decayed trees, which was insipid and unpleasant to the taste. (Tirinus)
One mightier than I. The precursor [St. John the Baptist] does not yet openly declare our Lord to be the Son of God, but only one mightier than himself. The Jews were not prepared to receive his coming; he therefore wisely led them by degrees to the knowledge of what divine Providence had designed them; he yet secretly assures them that he is the Son of God. I have baptized you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. Not it is evident that none but God can bestow upon man the grace of the Holy Ghost. (Ven. Bede)
See notes on our Saviour's baptism, Matthew iii. --- That Christ was baptized by immersion, is clear from the text; for he who ascended out of the water must first have descended into it. And this method was of general use in the Church for 1300 years, as appears from the acts of councils and ancient rituals. It is imagined by some, that in the very spot of the river Jordan, where the ark stood whilst the Israelites passed over, our Lord (the ark of the covenant of grace) was baptized by St. John.
Spirit. The epithet Holy is not found in most of the Greek manuscripts but it is in John i, 32. and 33.
The Greek printed copies, and some manuscripts read with St. Matthew (iii. 17.) in whom, Greek: en o, thus St. John Chrysostom, Euthymius, and Theophylactus. Some few, however, have Greek: en soi, in thee, with the Syriac and Latin text. (Pastorini) --- All the Fathers cite these verses for a proof of the Trinity: the testimony of the Father speaking, of the Son receiving the testimony, of the Holy Ghost descending in the shape of a dove. (Pastorini in Matt. iii. 17)
Into the desert. For the description of this desert, &c. read Maundrel's Travels, or extracts therefrom in Rutter's Evangelical Harmony. Vol. i. p. 169.
The Greek does not express the forty nights, but we find it in St. Matthew iv. 2.
As if he were to say: To this day the Mosaic law has been in full force, but henceforth the evangelical law shall be preached; which law is not undeservedly compared to the kingdom of God. (Theophylactus) --- Repent, therefore, says our Saviour, and believe the gospel; for if you believe not, you shall not understand; repent, therefore, and believe. What advantage is it to believe with good works? the merit of good works will not bring us to faith, but faith is the beginning of good works. (St. Jerome)
We must observe that what St. Luke mentions, relative to the vocation of the apostles, is antecedent in point of time to what is here related by St. Mark; since it is known that these disciples on some occasions returned to their fishing, until Jesus called them to be his constant attendants. (Theophylactus)
The Greek text has here the same as in Luke iv. 34, Let us alone. (Bible de Vence) --- I know who thou art. It is a common opinion, that the devil did not know for certain that Jesus was the true Son of God. Yet St. Mark's words, both in this and ver. 34, seem to signify he did know it. (Witham)
Christ would not suffer the devils to be produced as witnesses of his divinity; the author of truth could not bear the father of lies to bear testimony of him. Hence Jesus threatened him, in order to teach us never to believe or put our trust in demons, whatever they may foretell. (St. John Chrysostom)
Tearing him: not that the devil tore the poor man's limbs or body; for St. Luke (iv. 35.) expressly tells us, that the devil hurt him not. It means no more, than that he shook him with violent agitations. (Witham)
It is observed by St. Justin, (Apol. i. 54.) that the discourses of Jesus were short and concise. St. John Chrysostom (in hom. xlviii. in Matt.) says, that Christ here accommodated his preaching to his hearers, and to his subject. The ancients differ as to the length of time employed by Christ in the ministry of the word. It is most probable that he spent about three years in announcing to the world his heavenly doctrines. In the first year of his preaching, he seems not to have met with any great opposition; and on this account it may have been called, by the prophet Isaias, the acceptable year. (Sandinus) --- What is this new doctrine? In the Greek, This new manner of instructing. See below, xiv. 2, and xii. 38.
It appears from St. Mark and St. Luke, that the cure of Peter's mother-in-law and the other sick, here mentioned, happened after the preceding narrative, and probably on the same day. But St. Matthew does not observe this order; for having related that Jesus, after the sermon on the mount, entered Capharnaum, and healed the centurion's servant, he hence takes occasion to mention this and the other miracles, which he had omitted, and which Jesus had wrought at his first coming to Capharnaum. (Rutter)
The devils knew that it was Christ, who had been promised for so many ages before; for they saw him perform the wonders which the prophets had foretold of him; yet they were not perfectly acquainted with his divine nature, or otherwise they never would have persecuted to death and crucified the Lord of glory. (St. Augustine) --- But Christ would not permit them to declare that they knew him. (Bible de Vence) --- See Luke iv. 41.
It was not the intention of Christ, that he should not tell any body; had that been his wish, he would easily have realized it: he spoke thus purposely, to shew us that we ought not to seek the empty praises of men. He bade him also offer the sacrifices prescribed, because the law remained in full force till the passion of Christ, in which was offered a perfect sacrifice, that did away with all the legal sacrifices. (Nicholas of Lyra)
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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Mark 1". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany