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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Mark 10

International Critical Commentary NTInternational Critical

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Verses 1-99


10:1-12. Jesus departs from Galilee, and comes to Judœa and Perœa. The Pharisees try him with one of their test-questions, in regard to divorce. Jesus’ answer.

Jesus’ ministry in Galilee is at an end, and he goes into the region of Southern Palestine. Between this beginning and the controversy about divorce which Mk. introduces immediately, there is a gap, which Lk. fills in with his most characteristic matter. This question of divorce was one of the puzzles of the schools, arising from the ambiguity of the law. Jesus, in his answer, interprets the law in accordance with the liberal school, which allowed laxness of divorce; but says that this license was due to their spiritual dulness. From the beginning, i.e., originally and essentially, marriage, being based on the sexual distinction and act, and therefore a Divine institution, is indissoluble, and divorce involves adultery.

1. Καὶ ἐκεῖθεν—And from this place. The place meant is Capernaum. See 9:33. καὶ πέραν τ. Ἰορδάνου—and across the Jordan. The general district, τὰ ὄρια, into which he came was Southern Palestine, including the region on both sides of the river. πάλιν ὄχλοι—multitudes again. During the last part of the time in Galilee, he was alone with his disciples. See 9:30-32 But now, in Judæa, he is entering on a new phase of his general mission, the multitudes gather around him again, and he is teaching them as usual. The Impf. ἐδίδασκεν denotes not a single act, but a course of action, and should be translated, was teaching.

Καὶ, instead of διὰ τοῦ, before πέραν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BC* L Memph.

2. Καὶ προσελθόντες Φαρισαῖοι ἐπηρώτων αὐτόν—And Pharisees came to him and asked him. πειράζοντες αὐτόν—testing him. This was a test, not a temptation. He claimed to be a Rabbi, and they proposed to put him to a test by propounding to him one of their puzzles. The law of divorce itself allowed it in case of the wife’s coming into disfavor with her husband because of his finding something unseemly in her. The school of Shammai, which was in general the stricter school, interpreted this to apply only to cases of adultery, while the opposite school of Hillel licensed divorce under it for any cause. See Deuteronomy 24:1. The ambiguity of the passage, and the disputes of the Rabbis, made it a cause célébre, fitted to test, and possibly to discredit, the superior wisdom claimed by Jesus.

Omit οἱ, the, before Φαρισαῖοι, Treg. WH. RV. ABL ΓΔΠ, two mss. Lat. Vet. ἐπηρώτων, instead of ἐπηρώτησαν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCDLM Δ.

3. Τίὑμῖν ἐνετείλατο Μωϋσῆς;—What did Moses command you? Jesus recognizes that this is to them primarily a question of the Mosaic Law, and so, in order to get the matter properly before them, he asks for the law.

4. βίβλιον1—means a roll, the form in which all written documents were prepared at the time.�Deuteronomy 24:1). This is an indication that Jesus’ questioners belonged to the school of Hillel, which found in it practically no barrier to absolute freedom of divorce, so that in citing the law, they would ignore this as having no bearing on the case. Matthew 19:3-7 gives a different version of the affair, which, however, defines their position still more distinctly as the liberal position. According to that, their question is, whether it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for every cause. Jesus answers this by defining his own position forbidding divorce, when they ask, why Moses allowed it then. The order is unimportant, and there is nothing to choose between the two accounts.

5. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Πρὸς τ. σκληροκαρδίαν ὑμῶν ἔγραψεν ὑμῖν τὴν ἐντολὴν ταύτην·—And Jesus said to them out of regard to the hardness of your heart,1 he wrote you this command. σκληροκαρδία2—coarseness of spirit. σκληρός means hard, in the sense of rough or coarse, rather than unimpressible. καρδία is the common word for the inner man generally, in the N.T. The whole word denotes the rude nature which belongs to a primitive civilization. This principle of accommodation to the time in Scripture is of inestimable importance, and of course limits finally the absoluteness of its authority. We find that the writers were subject to this limitation, as well as their readers. See also J. 16:12. This answer of Jesus admits the correctness of the interpretation of Hillel and his school, as far as it was a matter of interpretation.

Ὀ δὲ, instead of Καὶ�

6.�Genesis 1:27, in connection with 2:24. This connection, instead of basing marriage on the taking of woman from man, puts it on the much broader and more rational ground of their sexual relation.

ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς—male and female he made them.3

Omit ὁ θεός, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCL Δ two mss. Lat. Vet. Memph. This conforms to the original, in which ὁ θεός belongs to the preceding part of the statement, and is omitted here.

7. ἕνεκεν τούτου—on this account, viz., because of the physical relation, pointing to an even closer union than that between parent and child. Both belong to the perpetuity of the family, but the relation of husband and wife is, in the nature of things, more intimate and compelling. With the omission of the last clause, and shall cleave to his wife, stress is laid on the separation from father and mother, and so on the superiority of the other union.

Omit καὶ προσκολληθήσεται πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ, Tisch. (Treg. marg.) WH. RV.marg. א B.

8. κ. ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν—and the two shall become one flesh.1 οἱ δύο is not found in the Heb., but was introduced into the Sept. It adds nothing to the meaning, though it strengthens the expression of it. ἔσονται εἰς is a Hebraism, denoting the coming into a state.2 The union pointed out is a physical one, being that to which the sexual relation points—they shall become one flesh. The sexual act unites them, makes them one, the same as the junction of two streams make one river, the union of hydrogen and oxygen in certain proportions makes one substance, water, the mechanical joining of different parts fitted to each other makes the one structure. ὥστε οὐκέτι εἰσὶ δύο,�

12. κ. ἐὰν αὐτὴ�Matthew 19:9 is really implied in our Lord’s statement of principles as recounted in our Gospel, because adultery is the real dissolution of the marriage tie, as distinguished from the formal divorce. Precisely as divorce does not break the marriage tie, adultery does break it. But the statement is not full and clear without this, and in this respect the account of Mt. is to be followed.


τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία, etc.—for to such belongs the kingdom of God. The gen. is possessive, which is not denoted by of such is, AV. and RV. τῶν τοιούτων denotes those possessing the childlike spirit of docility and humility. Cf. Matthew 18:4. The spirit is one that belongs to them as children, and is the result of their position of dependence and subordination, the same as the discipline which belongs to the condition of a soldier. But those who show that disposition, when it is no longer the effect of position, but a manifestation of character, belong to the kingdom of God. In children therefore, as children, appears the very quality of the kingdom, and this gives them a special distinction in the eyes of its members. They are not to be turned away as unworthy the attention of its king. The kingdom of God in the world consists of those who substitute for self-will and independence the will of God, and trust in his wisdom and goodness. And this is the attitude of childhood. What children feel towards their parents man should feel towards God.

15. ὅς ἂν μὴ δέξηται τ. βασιλείαν τ. Θεοῦ ὡς παιδίον οὐ μὴ εἰσελθῇ εἰς αὐτὴν—whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter into it. The kingdom of God is in its idea, its essence, the rule and the authority of God, and then the sphere in which he bears rule, either the spirit of the individual man, or the assemblage of its subjects, the society constituted by them. When Jesus speaks of its acceptance, it is the rule itself which is meant; that is to be accepted with unquestioning obedience, as the child accepts the parental rule. And on the other hand, when he speaks of entrance into it, he means the society of its subjects, the perfect state and order which results from doing the will of God.

ἄν, instead of ἐὰν, after ὅς Tisch. Treg. WH. א BCDL Δ 1.

16. Καὶ ἐναγκαλισάμενος1 αὐτά, κατευλόγει2 τιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας επʼ αὐτά—And having taken them in his arms, he blessed them, putting his hands on them.

κατευλόγει τιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας ἐπʼ αὐτά, instead of τιθεὶς τᾶς χεῖρας ἐπʼ αὐτά, ηὐλόγει αὐτά, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCL Δ Memph.


17-31. Jesus is asked the way to obtain life by a rich young man, and points him the way of the commandments. The young man professes to have kept these, and then Jesus shows him the way of self-renunciation. His disappointment leads Jesus to speak of the danger of wealth, and of the reward of renunciation.

The young man addresses Jesus as Good Teacher, and asks what he shall do to inherit eternal life. Jesus takes up this address first, and asks why he calls him good, when only God is good. And he points him to the commands of God for the answer to his question. The young man claims to have kept these, and as Jesus looks at him, he loves the evident feeling for righteousness that leads a man of manifestly moral life to dissatisfaction with himself, and seeing that it is his wealth that stands in the way, he bids him sell out, give to the poor, and follow him. It is evident that he has probed the difficulty, for the man has too much to give up and sadly turns away. Jesus then turns to his disciples, and shows them that riches are a stumbling block in the way of life. This excites their astonishment, as wealth and respectability go together. Whereupon, Jesus tells them that it is no easy thing to enter into the kingdom of God anyway, and for a rich man next to impossible; in fact, impossible with men, and only possible with God. Peter, conscious (perhaps a little too conscious) that this demand of self-renunciation has been complied with by the disciples, asks what their reward will be. Jesus answers, rewards in kind here, with persecution; and in the future eternal life. But, lest they should think of themselves as having any exclusive right, or even necessary preëminence in the kingdom, he warns them that many first shall be last, and last first.

17. Καὶ ἐκπορευομένου αὐτοῦ1 εἰς τὴν ὁδόν—And as he went forth into the road. See v.10, where he is said to have gone into the house. εἷς—The numeral is used sometimes, especially in late writers, in the sense of the indef. τις. The usage is so rare, however, as to warrant its rejection, except in sure cases. Here, it means that one man came by himself to consult Christ.1 γονυπετήσας2—having kneeled to him. ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω—to inherit eternal life.3 Eternal life was the term in common use among the Jews to denote the blessings of the Messianic kingdom, both here and hereafter.

18. Τί με λέγεις�Luke 2:52, Hebrews 2:10, Hebrews 5:8. This has a bearing, too, on the question propounded by the young man, since it was not to the good teacher as such, but to the absolutely good God, that questions in regard to the real good that brings the promised reward should be addressed. And this is the form in which question and answer are put in Matthew 19:17 as follows: “What good thing shall I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you ask me concerning the good thing? One is good, God.”

19. Τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας—You know the commandments. This is connected immediately with the preceding statement about God. These commands belong to the law of the one only absolutely good Being, and it is therefore in these commands that the young man is bidden to look for the answer to his question. Moreover, he is familiar with these commands, and why therefore seek any further for his answer. There is, however, an answer to this seemingly unanswerable question of Jesus. Though the commands are divine, and as divine would be a ne plus ultra, they were revealed through men, and this human element in them makes it possible for men belonging to a more spiritual time, or themselves more spiritual, to go further in revealing the ways of God to men. That is what Jesus himself did in the Sermon on the Mount, setting in contrast the imperfect commands of the ancients and his own perfect injunctions. This is one of the cases therefore, in which Jesus suggests more than appears on the surface, viz., that there is a chance that even so-called divine commands may not be ultimate. The suggestion itself is pertinent to a time of transition from one era of divine revelation to another, and the method of suggestion is not absent from the teaching of Jesus, who frequently gave men something to think of, some riddle to solve, instead of always throwing so much light himself as to save them all trouble. In this very case, Jesus proceeds to add something to what he has cited as the divine commands, showing that these do not contain the last words in the matter. The commands cited by him are those of the second table of the law, except the tenth, and with the command defraud not, added. This addition is not to be referred to a single passage like Deuteronomy 24:14, but is a reminiscence of many such passages, besides being a self-evident part of the law of righteousness.1

20. Καὶ ἔφη, ταῦτα πάντα ἐφυλαξάμην—And he said, all these I kept. This claim of innocence on the part of the young man was evidently not intended to be absolute, but was simply that this had been the general course of his life, viz., a course of observance of the divine law. The cause of his dissatisfaction with himself was not that his obedience to these commands was not perfect, a perfection which was not expected by Judaism, as their system of sacrifices showed, but a secret feeling that this was not enough. ἐφυλαξάμην—I kept.2


It is misleading, here as most everywhere, to translate εὐαγγελίου, gospel. It means glad-tidings, and the special message intended is that of the kingdom of God. Men who make sacrifices for the benefit of the Messianic king, and of the news of the kingdom, will receive the blessings of the kingdom. ἑκατονπλασίονα—a hundredfold; there is a reminiscence in this word of the apocalyptic character of the familiar descriptions of the blessings of the Messianic kingdom. But Jesus uses such language from the religious idiom of this time only to idealize it. To be sure, his words imply that the reward will be in kind; they will give up these things only to receive a hundredfold of the same. But, evidently, hundreds of brothers and sisters and mothers is meant to be taken ideally, and means that he will receive what will replace the lost relatives in that degree. The relationships of the kingdom take the place of natural kindred.1 And the member of the kingdom is an heir not only of heaven, but of earth.2 Jesus had nowhere to lay his head, and yet he was conscious of a lordship and possession of the earth, into which every true follower of his can enter. They have nothing, and yet possess all things.3 μετὰ διωγμῶν—with persecutions. These, Jesus had already predicted in his talks with his disciples previous to leaving Galilee. The new element introduced by him here is the other side belonging to this ideal life, the compensations and rewards even in this life, belonging to the Christian. ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τῷ ἐρχομένῳ—in the coming age. There is only one passage, Hebrews 1:2, where αἰών is used by metonymy, of space, instead of time. The reference is to the future life, in which the world, as well as the time, is new, but there is no reason why the meaning of αἰών should be changed, any more than that of καιρός, time, in the corresponding clause. ζωὴν αἰώνιον—on the use of this term among the Jews, see on v. 17. But it is evident that Jesus, in adopting, spiritualized it. Only, in this case, he found the word made ready to his use which expressed in itself just the state intended by him, though encumbered with alien meanings in common use. It is characteristic of his method, that he used the word without any explanation, leaving it to clarify itself as men got into the drift of his teaching.

31. πολλοὶ δὲ ἔσονται πρῶτοι ἔσχατοι—but many first shall be last. This is a warning to the disciples that the mere fact, that they were the earliest disciples and nearest his person, does not necessarily give them preëminence, nor any exclusive right to the blessings promised by him. The parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, each of whom received his shilling without regard to the time that he had worked, is inserted by Mt. to enforce this saying.


32-34. On the journey to Jerusalem, Jesus again foretells his death and resurrection.

They are now on their way to Jerusalem. And there is evidently some feeling of fate overhanging them. It is evident enough that they had not understood Jesus’ predictions of the violent death awaiting him in the city. But on their own construction of events, the approach to Jerusalem meant the crisis in their fate, the decision of the Messianic claim. They were a mere handful, and the authorities were against them. Would the people be with them? And if they were, what of the Roman power? It is no wonder that they were astonished as Jesus put himself at their head, and that some turned back, while others followed with fear. Then Jesus takes the twelve aside, and repeats, with some additional details, the prophecy of his death and resurrection. The prophecy is given here with clearness and particularity, describing the whole course of events. And then follows the clearly impossible request of James and John for the first places in the Messianic kingdom. It is evident that the subsequent history has been read into what must have been at the time distinctly veiled prophecy.

32. ἦν προάγων—was preceding them. The introduction of this apparently commonplace item shows that attention is drawn to it as something out of the common. And in connection with παραλαβὼν πάλιν, in the following clause, it evidently means that Jesus was not mingling with his disciples as usual, but was going before them. καὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο—and they were amazed. We are not told by what, but the very simple προάγων is evidently put forth by the writer as containing the key of the situation. Something in the manner of that invested the whole proceeding with mystery, and brought to their minds the fateful character of this progress to Jerusalem, the tremendous issues to be decided, and the odds against them. And somehow, with all their confidence in Jesus, the question might arise, whether it was confidence for such a crisis.

οἱ δὲ�

38. Οὐκ οἴδατε τί αἰτεῖσθε—You know not what you ask. They did not know how absolutely this is a question of being first, and not of standing first, which makes it a question, not of appointment, but of achievement. Nor did they know that it meant suffering, instead of honor, and that this would increase with the advanced position attained. πιεῖν τὸ ποτήριον—drink the cup. The figurative use of the phrase to denote a man’s portion in life, his hard or easy lot, belongs to other languages than the Greek. See Isaiah 51:17, Jeremiah 49:12, Psalms 16:5, Psalms 23:5. Christ means to ask them if they are able, if they have the necessary fortitude and proper appreciation of values, to share the sacrifices of his position. Being baptized with his baptism is another figurative expression of the same thought, coming from the power of calamity to overwhelm. Can you, he asks, be immersed in that which has overwhelmed me? They have looked at only the glory of the coming kingdom. Jesus directs their attention to the sacrifices incurred in establishing that kingdom.

ἢ, or, instead of Καὶ, and, before τὸ βάπτισμα, the baptism, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BC* DLN Δ 1, 13, 28, 69, 124, 346, Latt. Memph. Harcl. marg.

39. Τὸ ποτήριον … πίεσθε· καὶ τὸ βάπτισμα … βαπτισθήσεσθε—The cup … you will drink; and with the baptism … you will be baptized. Of this Jesus can assure them, that they will share his sufferings.

Omit μὲν before ποτήριον Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BC* L Δ mss. Vulg. Memph. Pesh.

40. τὸ δὲ καθίσαι ἐκ δεξιῶν μου ἢ ἐξ εὐωνύμων1 οὐκ ἔστιν ἐμὸν δοῦναι—But to sit on my right hand, or left hand, is not mine to give.

ἢ, instead of Καὶ, before ἐξ εὐωνύμων Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDL Δ 73. Lat. Vet. Memph. Omit μου after ἐξ εὐων. Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. and almost everything.

This statement of Jesus it is very easy to interpret superficially, as if it meant simply that the bestowment belonged not to one person, but to another—not to himself, but to the Father. But there is little doubt that Mk. has preserved for us the true form of statement in omitting mention of the Father, and so the contrast between persons. They cannot have position in his kingdom by applying to either, as if it were a matter of personal preference. Position, it is not in his power to bestow; it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared. The meaning is, that this is a matter already disposed of, and so no longer in his power. The verb expresses nearly the idea of ordained. But it adds to this the thought of the preparation of the place. Each one is to have a place prepared and adapted for him. It is not therefore a question that can be settled as they were trying to settle it, by influence used with him personally. Fitness, and not influence, decides it. This becomes especially clear, when we consider the definition of greatness that follows. It consists in service, and he who serves most is greatest, a greatness already determined by the service, and not to be changed by any personal equation.

41. οἱ δέκα ἤρξαντο�

3 Genesis 1:27.

marg. Revided Version marg.

1 Genesis 2:24.

2 Heb. הָיהָ לְ.

1 This use of εἰς without even any verb like sit or stand, implying previous action, or motion to a place, is to be noticed. The return to the house is implied without any verb to suggest it.

28 Codex Regius.

N Codex Purpureus.

X Codex Wolfi A.

Pesh. Peshito.

1 .Codex Basiliensis

13 Codex Regius.

69 Codex Leicestrensis.

346 Codex Ambrosianus.

Latt. Latin Versions.

1 Burton, 41.

AV. Authorised Version.

1 See on 9:36. The word occurs only in these two passages, and in the Sept.

2 κατευλόγει is a compound found only here in the Bible, and not at all outside. On the Hebraistic meaning of εὐλογεῖν, to invoke blessings on, see on 6:41. On the augment of verbs beginning with εὐ, see Win. 12, 3.

1 On this use of the gen. abs., where the noun or pronoun belongs to the structure of the sentence, see Win. 30, 11, Note.

1 Win. 18, 9.

2 γονυπετεῖν is a later Greek word.

3 In classical Greek, this verb is restricted to the meaning, to obtain by inheritance, and it governs the gen.

1 See Malachi 3:5, Exodus 21:10 LXX.

2 This sense of keeping, by way of observing, is in classical Greek confined to the active, and is attached to the middle only in Biblical Greek.

Vulg. Vulgate.

1 στυγνάσας is a rare word, even in the Bible, and is found outside only in Polybius, 120 b.c.

1 On the use of ἐπί to denote the cause of emotion, see Win. 48 c, c).

2 εὐκοπώτερον and τρυμαλίας are both Biblical words.

K Codex Cyprius.

U Codex Nanianus.

Syrr. Syriac Versions.

1 Win. 53, 3 a. Thay.-Grm. Lex. I. 2g

1 Began to say, instead of merely said, is best explained here as a mere fashion of speech, into which the writer falls, without any special reason for it.

2 The aor. and perf. are here to be distinguished from each other, the aor., we left, as denoting simple past action, the perf., we have followed, as denoting action continuing into the present.

2 The aor. and perf. are here to be distinguished from each other, the aor., we left, as denoting simple past action, the perf., we have followed, as denoting action continuing into the present.

209 An unnamed, valuable manuscript.

S Codex Vaticanus.

1 See 3:35.

2 See Matthew 5:5.

3 See 2 Corinthians 6:10.

Harcl. Harclean.

1 This use of ἵνα with the subj., instead of the inf., after verbs of desire and command, is common in Hellenistic Greek, but not in the classical writers. See Win. 44, 8. Burton, 304.

1 Here, we have the subj. without ἵνα, which is still more anomalous, being an elliptical combination of two constructions. See Win. 41 a, 4 b. Burton, 171. The subj. is probably in this case the deliberative subj.

2 See note 1, p. 199.

3 The Greeks use εἶς μὲν, εἶς δὲ, to express this correlation. Win. 26, 2 a.

4 δόξα is confined in Greek writers to its proper subjective meaning, opinion, praise. The meaning, glory, majesty, as an objective state, comes from the Heb.

1 εὐωνύμων is used in the taking of auguries to denote euphemistically those of evil origin, the word itself meaning just the opposite. And so it comes to denote the left hand, that being the hand of evil omen, the sinister hand.

2 See on v. 14.

1 This is a Biblical word, and is not found in the N.T. outside of this and the parallel passage in Mt., making another strong proof of the interdependence of the written accounts.

33 Codex Regius.

1 This use of ἱκανός in the sense of great, rather than sufficient, is characteristic of Lk. (Lk. and Acts). The only other instance 1 Corinthians 11:30. Matthew 28:12 is at least doubtful.

2 προσαίτης belongs to later Greek. Plutarch, Lucian.

1 See 12:35.

2 A common Greek word, but not found elsewhere in N.T.

3 See on v. 35, 36.

1 Apparently, there is a confusion of two Chaldee words in this title, רִבּוֹן and רַּבָּן, both of them meaning about the same, lord or chief.


Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Mark 10". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/mark-10.html. 1896-1924.
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