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Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NT

Mark 6

Verses 1-99


6:1-6. Jesus visits Nazareth, and teaches in the synagogue. His countrymen express their surprise at the wisdom and power displayed by one so obscure in his origin, and Jesus is prevented by their unbelief from the usual exercise of his healing gifts.

1. Καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἐκεῖθεν—And he went out thence. With these words Mk. connects this visit with the events of the preceding chap.

Mt. places this visit after the parables, saying expressly that it was after he had ended these parables1 (13:54-58). Lk. tells us of a visit to Nazareth at the beginning of his ministry, 4:16-30, in which Jesus quotes the same parable as in this visit, of the prophet not without honor except in his own country. And the position in which he places this rejection at the beginning of the ministry in Galilee, and just before the record of the beginning of Jesus’ residence in Capernaum, seems to indicate a connection between these events in the author’s mind. However, Lk. inserts in v. 23 a reference to works done in Capernaum, which is inconsistent with the place which he assigns to the visit, previous to the settlement in Capernaum. Mt. also notes the leaving Nazareth and settling in Capernaum, but places this present event after the parables. The accounts cannot be harmonized, except on the supposition of a repetition of the visit to Nazareth, and his rejection there. It is easy enough to suppose that Jesus visited his family several times, and met this ungracious reception at the hands of his countrymen, but it is also quite evident that the Evangelists have got hold of one story, marked by the same details throughout, and have placed this one rejection in different parts of the Gospel. Two things are evident in regard to the chronological arrangement of the Gospels; first, that the Evangelists intended to make such an arrangement, and secondly, that their several arrangements do not always agree.

τὴν πατρίδα αὐτοῦ—his own country. Nazareth is the place meant, the residence of his family, and where he had lived himself up to the beginning of his public ministry.

ἔρχεται comes, instead of ἦλθεν came, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCLD Harcl. marg.

2. ἤρξατο διδάσκειν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ. There was no regularly appointed person to perform this office in the synagogue, but the

3. ὁ τέκτων—the wood-worker. Mt. says ὁ τοῦ τέκτονος υἱός,—the son of the carpenter, 13:55. The word τέκτων, which is found in the N.T. only in these two parallel passages, means any worker in wood, rarely in any other substance. ὁ υἱὸς τῆς Μαρίας—the son of Mary. The dropping out of Joseph in the gospel narrative probably indicates his death before this time of Jesus’ ministry. καὶ Luke 2:7 speaks of Jesus as the first-born son. There is no more baseless, nor for that matter, prejudiced theory, in the whole range of Biblical study, than that which makes Jesus the only child of Mary.


ἐσκανδαλίζοντο ἐν αὐτῷ—they were made to stumble in him, prevented from proper action by what they saw in him. On the meaning of the verb, see on 4:17. The prep. denotes the person in whom the stumbling block is found. But its use in such a connection is unusual in Greek. And the repetition of the exact language in Matthew 13:57 furnishes another item in the linguistic proof of the interdependence of the Synoptical Gospels.

4. Καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖςἸησοῦς—And Jesus said to them.

Καὶ ἔλεγεν, instead of ἔλεγεν δὲ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCDL Δ 33, most mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph. Pesh.

προφήτης—a prophet. The word means in classical Greek an interpreter of the gods, or of their oracles, and then in general, a seer. In the Biblical usage, it denotes an inspired teacher.


συγγενεῦσιν, instead of συγγενέσι, Tisch. Treg. WH. B* D2 EFGHLUV Δ 1, 33, 69, 124, 209, 262, 271, 346. Insert αὐτοῦ after συγγενεῦσιν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. BC* KLM2 (Δ ἑαυτοῦ) 28, 71, 218, 235, most mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph. Syrr.

This proverb has various forms, among them the one stating the principle on which they are all based being Familiarity breeds contempt. It applies exactly to the case of our Lord at Nazareth, where he was brought up, and in that early private life showed no signs of the supernatural powers of his public ministry. There is always some difference that separates public from private life, a man not being called upon for the same exercise of his powers in the one as in the other. And to the unthinking person, this is a defect, because it seems to indicate something unreal, put on for the occasion, in the greatness of the man in whom it appears. And of course, if there is any real descent, the charge is true. But in the case of our Lord, there was only the difference that naturally belongs to the difference of the two spheres. In the same way, a statesman does not continually air his wisdom in private, which may be a sign of his greatness.

5. οὐκ ἐδύνατο—he could not. Of course, this was a moral inability. Jesus required faith for the performance of his miracles, and that was wanting here; nay, there was a positive disbelief, no mere doubt. He found elsewhere a poor wavering faith, but not enough lack to hinder his work of physical healing, though it kept him out of men’s souls. But here the general unbelief of the nation reached its climax, and prevented even this one good that his countrymen generally permitted him to do them.

εἰ μὴ ἐθεράπευσε—except that he healed.1

9. ὑποδεδεμένους—The participle is put in the acc. as if to agree with a preceding acc. with an inf. The command to wear sandals seems superfluous, but it is really a part of the injunction against any luxury in their outfit, being contrasted with shoes protecting the upper part of the feet as well as the soles. There is no contradiction between this and the command not to buy sandals for the journey, Matthew 10:9, the latter being directed against the purchase of extra sandals over and above what they were wearing. But, while there is no contradiction, there is a difference; they are two orders about this same matter of sandals. All that we can gather about it is, that Jesus gave some direction about sandals in connection with the general direction for simplicity of equipment, of which the several Gospels have preserved different accounts. μὴ ἐνδύσησθε δύο χιτῶνας—do not wear two tunics.1 Mt. and Lk. say that they were not to have or provide two tunics. But this forbids their wearing two, referring to a custom of dress belonging to persons of distinction, who wore two χιτῶνας, an inner and an outer. See Bib. Dic., article Dress, and Dic. of Antiq., article Tunica. In general, these directions are against luxury in their equipment, and also against their providing themselves with what they could procure from the hospitality of others. Evidently, if they took no food and no money, this dependence on others would be their only resort. See Matthew 10:10.

Treg. marg. WH. read ἐνδύσασθαι, which is also the reading of Beza and Elzevir, with B2 S Π*. L and some others read ἐνδεδύσθαι. Improbable and unsupported.

10. ἐκεῖἐκεῖθεν—there … thence. The first of these refers to οἰκίαν in the preceding, and the second to ὅπου. They were to remain in the one house until they left the place. This injunction is directed evidently against a restless and dissatisfied changing from one house to another. They were to be satisfied with the hospitality offered them. See Luke 10:7.

11. ὃς ἂν τόπος μὴ δέξηται, μηδὲ

ἐκτινάξατε τὸν χοῦν—This was a symbolical act, signifying that the actor considered even the dust of the place as defiling. See Luke 10:11. εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς—for a testimony unto them, not against them. It was to testify to the men themselves what the act signifies, viz. that these heralds of the Kingdom of God shook off all association with them as defiling. The rest of the verse is to be omitted. It is evidently copied from Matthew 10:15.


13. ἤλειφον ἐλαίῳ—they anointed with oil. This is the only place in the N.T., except James 5:14, in which anointing and healing are mentioned together. Anointing was a frequent specific, however, in ordinary medical treatment, and this would suggest its use in the symbolism of supernatural healing.


14-16. Herod hears of the miracles performed by the disciples, and explains them by the supposition that Jesus is John the Baptist, whom he has beheaded, and who has risen from the dead.

Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, from his residence at Tiberias on the southern shore of the lake, would not hear much of Jesus. Our Lord never went there himself, owing probably to the unsympathetic attitude of the court, and its corrupting influence on the Jewish element of the population.2 But it is possible that the disciples, in this more extended tour, had come near enough to attract the attention of Herod, who was usually careless of the religious, or even of the possible political aspects of Jesus’ work. And the king, so called by courtesy, conscience stricken by his execution of John the Baptist, thinks that these miracles of which he hears are the work of the resurrected prophet.

14. ἤκουσεν—the object of this verb is evidently the things just narrated, the work accomplished by the twelve. φανερὸν γὰρ ἐγένετο τὸ ὄνομα—this explains the preceding statement, showing how the works of the disciples led to these conjectures of Herod and others in regard to Jesus himself. Jesus became known through the works of his disciples, and hence Herod found it necessary to account for him in some way.

The Herod who beheaded John was Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great and Malthace, and in the partition of his father’s kingdom, he was made tetrarch of Galilee and Peræa.1

καὶ ἔλεγεν ὅτι Ἰωάννηςἐγήγερται ἐκ νεκρῶν—and he said that John … has risen from the dead.

Καὶ ἔλεγον, and they said, Treg. marg. WH. RV.marg. BD 6, 271 mss. of Lat. Vet. Improbable, as it makes Herod take up a common rumor, v.16, whereas it is evident that this strange conjecture started with the king’s conscience. ἐγήγερται ἐκ νεκρῶν, instead of ἐκ νεκρῶν ἠγέρθη, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDL Δ 33, Latt. Memph. Pesh.

Herod’s superstition and his guilty conscience raised this ghost to plague him. It has been suggested that Herod makes the statement in regard to John’s resurrection in order to account for the difference between his natural life, in which he performed no miracles, and this report of wonderful works. But it seems doubtful if Herod went so curiously into the matter as this. Rather, he wishes to account for these phenomena, and he does it by attributing them to a man who had proved himself so far above mortal man by his own resurrection, that any other wonders seemed natural for him. ἐνεργοῦσιν αἱ δυνάμεις ἐν αὐτῷ—the powers work in him, are active in him. In conjunction with a verb like ἐνεργοῦσιν, δυνάμεις returns to its proper meaning of powers.

15. Ἄλλοι δὲ ἔλεγον—And others said.

Insert δὲ after ἄλλοι Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABCDEHKLS ΔΠ Latt. Memph. Harcl.

Ἡλίας—Referring to the expectation that Elijah would return to the earth before the great day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5). ὅτι προφήτης ὡς εἷς τῶν προφητῶν—that it is a prophet like one of the prophets. The words do not express the idea that he was just a prophet, like one of the ordinary prophets, in distinction from the great prophet Elijah. This would require the idea of ordinariness to be more definitely expressed. It is the likeness to the old prophets, rather than unlikeness to some special one of them, that is meant to be emphasized. We do not need to suppose that these different opinions were expressed by people in conversation with each other, which would lead us to dwell on the points of contrast. But it is quite probable that they were isolated statements, uttered at different times, and brought together here.

Omit ἐστὶν after προφήτης, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BC* L Δ 1, 28, 33, 209. Omit ἣ, or, before ὡς, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABCL Π mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph. Pesh.

16. ὁ Ἡρώδης ἔλεγεν, Ὃν ἐγὼ

οὗτος ἠγέρθη—this one was raised. The pronoun, which is not necessary to the construction, is introduced in order to continue the solemn emphasis of the whole statement. Luke 9:7-9 says that Herod was perplexed by the report that John had risen from the dead, and said, “John I beheaded, but who is this?” exactly reversing the positions of Herod and of the other parties to this discussion in our account.


17-29. Mk. tells the story of John’s imprisonment and death at the hands of Herod, in order to explain Herod’s allusion to his beheading of John.

Mk. has alluded to the fate of the Baptist, and now proceeds to tell the story of it. Herod Antipas had been married to a daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia, but on a visit to Jerusalem he had become enamoured of Herodias, the wife of his disinherited brother, and herself a member of the Herodian family, and had contracted an adulterous marriage with her. Here is where Mk. takes up the story, with John’s reproof of this adultery. It incensed Herodias especially, and though Herod imprisoned the brave prophet, he was so impressed with John’s saintliness, and even a sort of superstitious fear of him, that he protected him against his wife’s fury. But Herodias, who was biding her time, took advantage of a birthday feast given by Herod, and sent her daughter to dance before the king, and when the gratified king swore to give the girl anything she might ask, Herodias instructed her to ask for the head of John. The king was fairly trapped, and though sorely against his will, he sent a soldier and beheaded John in prison.

Philip, commonly known as Herod, was son of Herod the Great and Mariamne, the daughter of the high priest Simon, and was disinherited by his father, living as a private citizen in retirement. Secular history tells of only one Philip, the tetrarch of Gaulanitis and other districts E. of Galilee, and Volkmar and Holtzmann contend that the Evv. have confounded him with the disinherited brother, who was known only as Herod. Winer, Meyer, Weiss, and others answer that there may have been two Philips, as there were two Antipaters, especially as they were only half-brothers. Herodias was niece of both her husbands, being daughter of Aristobulus, another of Herod’s sons. It was on the occasion of a feast given by Philip to his brothers at Jerusalem, that Antipas became enamoured of the beauty of Herodias, and she of his power, and they began the intrigue which ended in their adulterous marriage. Antipas became involved in a war with Aretas, king of Arabia, his father-in-law, on account of his desertion of his first wife for Herodias. The marital relations of the Herodian family were a most extraordinary mixture, though belonging to the general license of the age. This is one of the places where the Gospels bring us into contact with the Gentile world, the Herodians being Gentile in their extraction and spirit, though nominally Jews in their religion, and the note of that Gentile world was open vice and profligacy, while of the Jewish leaders it was hypocrisy.

17-29. 17. Αὐτὸς γὰρ Ἡρώδης—for Herod himself. αὐτὸς serves to keep up in Mk.’s account the emphasis which Herod had put on the ἐγὼ, v.16. ἐκράτησε—seized.1 ὅτι αὐτὴν ἐγάμησεν—for he had married her. This states more particularly the connection between Herodias and the imprisonment of John, already denoted by διὰ Ἡρωδιάδα. It is an independent statement of cause, usually introduced by γάρ.2 But strictly, the causal conjunction is out of place, except in connection with John’s rebuke, of which it is the cause, and not of John’s imprisonment. Properly, this is one of the steps leading up to the imprisonment, and would be denoted by a relative clause, ἣν ἐγάμησεν.

18. Ἔλεγε γὰρ Ἰωάννης—for John had said.1 Ὅτι οὐκ ἐξεστί σοι—it is not lawful for thee. See Leviticus 18:16, Leviticus 20:21. But John would emphasize not so much the departure from Jewish law, for which Herod had slight regard, but the broader ground of common morals.

19. ἐνεῖχεν αὐτῷ—AV. had a quarrel against him. But it is doubtful if the words had this meaning. It requires the ellipsis of τὸν χόλον to explain it, and it is unusual to leave so specific a word to be implied, though the use of τὸν χόλον with the verb is quite frequent. On the other hand, it would be quite common to supply a word like τὸν νοῦν with the verb, and that would give us the meaning, she kept her eye (mind) on him. But the phrase, though quite natural, does not seem to occur. A third supposition is, that the verb may be used, like the Latin insto, intransitively, she followed him up, did not relax hostility against him. On the whole, this seems the best rendering. Thay.-Grm. Lex. καὶ ἤθελενκαὶ οὐκ ἠδύνατο—and wished … and could not. This representation, that Herodias was restrained from her vengeance by Herod is not borne out by Mt., who says that Herod wished to put John to death, but feared the people (14:5). Verse 9 says that he was grieved by Salome’s demand, but this was evidently, in Mt.’s account, for the same reason, viz. that he feared the people.

20. The statement of Mk. is that John’s righteousness made Herod afraid, and what John said both perplexed and delighted him, so that he preserved him. ἐφοβεῖτο—feared. The kind of fear that Herod had of John is shown by the superstitious idea that he had of John’s resurrection. The prophet’s righteousness and holiness made him seem, even to Herod’s worldly sense, a man of God, and his fear therefore was of the God back of the righteous man. καὶ συνετήρει αὐτόν—and guarded him, viz. from the hostile intentions of Herodias. RV. kept him safe.2 πολλὰ ἠπόρει—was much perplexed. The perplexity arose from the conflict between his fear of John and his entanglement with Herodias. καὶ ἡδέως—The peculiarity of the Hebraistic use of καί to tie together variously related statements is here curiously exemplified.3 The gladness with which Herod heard John is the tribute which the moral sense, even in bad men, pays to the truth, and to boldness and freshness in the utterance of it.

πολλὰ ἠπόρει, was much perplexed, instead of πολλὰ ἐποίει, did many things, Tisch. Treg. marg. WH. RV. א BL Memph.

21. ἡμέρας εὐκαίρου—an opportune day, viz. for Herodias’ purposes. τοῖς γενεσίοις—on his birthday feast. This word is used in Greek for a service in commemoration of a dead friend. γενέθλια is the word for a birthday celebration.1 μεγιστᾶσιν—grandees. A later Greek word. χιλιάρχοις—chiliarchs. If we render the word literally, it means commander of a thousand, and its equivalent in our military phraseology is colonel. τοῖς πρώτοις τ. Γαλιλαίας—the first men of Galilee. His retainers, and especially his military officers, would be foreigners. These would be the men of the province.

ἐποίησεν, instead of ἐποίει, after δεῖπνον, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCL Δ 13, 28, 69, 124, Latt.

22. τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς τ. Ἡρωδιάδος—the daughter of Herodias herself (RV.).2 The intensive pronoun is used here because such dancing was an almost unprecedented thing for women of rank, or even respectability. It was mimetic and licentious, and performed by professionals. ἤρεσεν—it pleased, rather than she pleased. The latter would require the subject of the verb to be the noun of the preceding gen. abs., a quite unnecessary grammatical irregularity.

ἤρεσεν, instead of καὶ

23. ὤμοσεν—he swore. This oath of Herod is the same that Ahasuerus made to Queen Esther, the ἕως ἡμίσους τ. βασιλείας μου, to the half of my kingdom, being the exact language of the Sept. in the O.T. story (Esther 5:3, Esther 5:6, Esther 5:7:2).

24. Καὶ ἐξελθοῦσα—And having gone out.

Καὶ, instead of Ἡ δὲ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BL Δ 33, Memph. αἰτήσωμαι,1 instead of αἰτήσομαι, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABCDGL Δ 28, 33, 124, 346. βαπτίζοντος, instead of βαπτιστοῦ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BL Δ 28, Harcl.

25. εὐθὺς μετὰ σπουδῆς—immediately with haste. Evidently, this haste was lest the king’s ardor should cool. She and her mother both knew that nothing but the king’s oath would make him do a thing so contrary to his own desires. This urgency is shown also in her request that it be done ἐξαυτῆς, forthwith. πίνακι—a platter. The word charger used to translate it in the EV. is practically obsolete in this sense.

26. περίλυπος γενόμενος—the part. is used here concessively, though he was grieved, yet. καὶ τοὺς

29. πτῶμα—means a fall, or secondarily, something fallen, and with νεκροῦ,—a corpse. But the omission of νεκροῦ in this sense belongs to the later Greek. Matthew 14:12 adds to this the statement that the disciples of John came and told Jesus.


30-44. Mk. now resumes his narrative of the mission of the twelve with an account of their return, and of their report to Jesus. On their return, probably to Capernaum, they are so beset by the multitude that they have no leisure even to eat, and Jesus seeks retirement with them on the other side of the lake. But the multitudes see them and follow on foot around the head of the lake. Jesus allows his compassion to get the better of his original purpose, and begins to teach the crowd which he found gathered when he landed. It is already late when it is brought to his attention by the apostles, that the multitude, in their eagerness to hear him, have failed to provide themselves with food. Whereupon, Jesus himself feeds them out of five loaves and two fishes which the disciples have brought for themselves.


32. καὶ Luke 9:10, Luke 9:12).

33. καὶ εἶδον αὐτοὺς ὑπάγοντας, κ. ἔγνωσαν πολλοί—and they saw them going, and many knew (them).

Omit οἱ ὄχλοι, the multitudes, after ὑπάγοντας everything except a few cursives. ἔγνωσαν, instead of ἐπέγνωσαν, Treg. WH. B* D 1, 118, 209. Omit αὐτὸν, him, after ἔγνωσαν Treg. WH. RV. BD 1, 13, 28, 118, 131, 209, Vulg. Substitute αὐτοὺς, Tisch. א AKLMU ΔΠ two mss. Lat. Vet. Memph. Syrr.

πεζῇ—on foot. They went around the head of the lake, and crossed the river at some ford. συνέδραμον—they ran together. The prep. describes the coming together of the crowd from the many starting-places to the point for which they saw the boat heading. προῆλθον αὐτούς—outwent them. The verb means properly to go forward, to advance, or with the gen. to go before another. This use with the acc., meaning to reach a place before another, belongs to later Greek. The rest of the verse is to be omitted.

Omit Καὶ συνῆλθον πρὸς αὐτόν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BL Δ 13, Vulg. Memph.

34. καὶ ἐξελθὼν εἶδεν πολὺν ὄχλον—And having come forth, he saw a great multitude. The part. refers to the disembarking from the boat. J., who is here parallel to the Synoptics for the only time between the account of the ministry of the Baptist and the final coming to Jerusalem, says that Jesus spent some time in the mountain with his disciples before the multitude came to him.

Omit ὁ Ἰησοῦς after εἶδεν Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BL 1, 20, 33, 69, 124, 209, one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph. αὐτούς, instead of αὐτοῖς, after ἐπʼ Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDF 245, 253, mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg.

ἐσπλαγχνίσθη—had compassion.1

μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμέναμή is used here, instead of οὐκ, because it denotes Jesus’ conception of the people, his thought about them. It is the fact, but the fact transferred to his mind.2 This expression is used also by Matthew 9:36, in the passage which leads up to the account of the appointment of the twelve, and the sending them forth to supply the lack. It seems as if this feeling of Jesus towards the multitude had somehow impressed itself on the minds of the disciples especially at this period of his life, the period just preceding the close of the ministry in Galilee. The figure itself denotes the lack of spiritual guidance. Then, as always, there was no lack of official religious leadership, but the officials, the priests, and rabbis, were blind leaders of the blind. Notice also the human quality of Jesus’ action here. He seeks a quiet place to escape from the crowd for a time; is defeated in his purpose by the multitude invading his retreat; and he yields to their importunity and to his own exacting pity. It is a distinctly human change of purpose, such as foreknowledge would have prevented, and as an attestation of his humanity it brings him blessedly near to us.

35. ὥρας πολλῆς γενομένης—much time of day having passed. The only other instance in the N.T., in which ὥρα is used to denote daytime is the parallel passage in Matthew 14:15. See Thay.-Grm. Lex.

Tisch. WH. marg. read γινομένης, coming to be a late hour, with א D Latt.

οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἔλεγον—his disciples said.

ἔλεγον, instead of λέγουσιν, say, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BL Δ 33, Memph.

ἔρημός ἐστιντόπος—the place is desert; and so there is no place here for them to procure food. ἤδη ὥρα πολλή—already it is a late hour, and so there is short time for them to supply their wants. In their haste and eagerness to follow Jesus, they had neglected to bring anything with them, and in their absorption in his teaching, they had forgotten their ordinary wants. According to J. 6:5, this conversation was started by Jesus.


37. δηναρίων διακοσίων—two hundred shillings’ worth. The Revisers do a somewhat curious thing in translating this word penny, and then explaining in the margin that it means eight pence halfpenny (RV. Matthew 18:28). The actual paying power was much greater than our shilling, as it represented a day’s wages. The sum is evidently suggested here as their hasty guess at the amount required to purchase a frugal supply for the crowd. It would also be a sum quite beyond their means, so that the question is meant to imply the absurdity of the whole thing. This question is not given in the other Synoptics, and in the fourth Gospel it takes the form of a statement that what is absolutely a large sum is quite inadequate for even a small supply of so big a crowd.

δώσωμεν αὐτοῖς—give them.

δώσωμεν, instead of δῶμεν, Tisch. א D 13, 33, 69, 124, 229**, 346. δώσομεν Treg. WH. RV. ABL Δ Latt. External evidence balanced between δώσωμεν and δώσομεν, internal slightly favors δώσομεν, owing to the change of mood, which makes subj. an apparent emendation.

38. ὑπάγετε, ἴδετε—go, see.

Omit καὶ, and, between ὑπάγετε and ἴδετε Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDL 1, 33, 102, 118, 240, 244, two mss. Lat. Vet. Memph. Pesh.

καὶ γνόντες—and having ascertained. The verb is used here in its inchoative sense to learn, instead of to know. The EV., and when they knew, leaves out the process which the Greek expresses.


44. πεντακισχίλιοι ἄνδρες—five thousand men alone. ἄνδρες is the Greek word for men, distinct from women and children. See Matthew 14:21. The whole number then was much greater.

This is, with the exception of the raising of the dead, the most remarkable of all the miracles recounted in the Gospels, being the one in which secondary causes are out of the question, making it a purely creative act, a creation out of nothing. The rest of the provision did not come somehow out of the five loaves and two fishes, but was added to it by the mere creative word. All talk about acceleration of natural processes is mere talk, because there is here nothing to start from in such a process. Of course, this has led to all kinds of rationalizing. Paulus, and after him Holtzmann, suppose that Jesus set the example of utilizing such provisions as they had, those who had sharing with those who had not. And even Weiss, in order to preserve the historicity of the account in the face of an increasing skepticism in regard to so stupendous a miracle, admits the possibility of this explanation, only insisting that we have here a miracle of providence in bringing together such supplies even in a natural way, and that Jesus relied with serene confidence upon it. Schenkel explains it as a materialization of Jesus’ feeding of the multitude with spiritual food. But fortunately, we have here, as Weiss points outs, a concurrence of three eye witnesses, the Logia of Mt., the oral testimony of Peter, and the witness of John being all represented in the several accounts, and there is no doubt whatever of the fact that they represent it as an actual feeding of the multitude with five loaves and two fishes, after which there remained twelve baskets of fragments.


45-52. Immediately after the feeding of the multitude, and probably owing to the excitement caused by that, Jesus dismisses his disciples with some urgency to embark in the boat for Bethsaida on the west shore of the lake, while he himself dismisses the multitude. Having taken leave of them, Jesus goes up into the mountain in the neighborhood to pray. Meantime, the disciples were having a hard time with a contrary wind on the lake, and it was past three o’clock in the morning, when Jesus came to them walking on the water. They thought that it was a ghost, but were reassured by his announcement of himself. With his coming, the wind ceased, and they were filled with an unreasonable amazement, not being prepared even by the miracle of feeding the multitude for this fresh wonder.

45. εὐθὺς ἠνάγκασε—immediately he compelled. This language expresses haste and urgency, for which, however, Mt. and Mk. give no reason. But the fourth Gospel states a fact, which would certainly account for this urgency, telling us that the people were about to come and seize him to make him a king (J. 6:15). According to this, Jesus knew that his disciples would side with the multitude in this design, and therefore dismisses them with this abruptness and imperativeness. ΒηθσαϊδάνLuke 9:10 tells us that this was the name of the place where the miracle was performed. There were two places of the name, one on each side of the lake. See Bib. Dic. ἕως αὐτὸς

ἀπολύει, instead of

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Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Mark 6". International Critical Commentary NT. 1896-1924.