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Bible Commentaries
Mark 3

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

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Mark 3:1-5 Christ appealing to reason healeth the withered hand on the sabbath day.

Mark 3:6-12 The Pharisees conspire his death: he retires to the seaside, and healeth many.

Mark 3:13-19 He chooseth his twelve apostles.

Mark 3:20-21 His friends look upon him as beside himself.

Mark 3:22-30 He confutes the blasphemous absurdity of the Pharisees in ascribing his casting out of devils to the power of Beelzebub.

Mark 3:31-35 Those who do the will of God he regardeth as his nearest relations.

Verses 1-5

See Poole on "Matthew 12:9", and following verses to Matthew 12:13. The word πωρωσει, used Mark 3:5, may be understood to signify blindness, or hardness, as it may derive from πωρος, callus, or πωρος, caecus, but the derivation of it from the former best obtains. Hardness being a quality in a thing by which it resisteth our touch, and suffers us not to make an impression upon it, that ill condition of the soul by which it becomes rebellious, and disobedient to the will of God revealed, so as it is not affected with it, nor doth it make any impression of faith or holiness upon the soul, is usually called hardness of heart. But for the argument of this history, proving acts of mercy lawful on the sabbath day, it is fully spoken to in the notes on Matthew 12:9-13.

Verses 6-12

Who these Herodians were we cannot learn plainly from holy writ; it is most probable that they were a civil faction, who took Herod’s part, and were stiff for promoting his interest, and the interest of the Roman emperor, whose substitute Herod was. With these the Pharisees (in other cases their implacable enemies) mix counsels how they might destroy Christ. Christ gives place to their fury, his time being not yet come, and withdraweth himself from their sight, being followed by great multitudes, who in the fame of his miracles, or the hopes they had of receiving some good from him for themselves or for their friends, drew after him. Some of these are said to have come from Idumea, which was the country of Edom, and distinct from Judea anciently, as may be gathered from Joshua 15:1, and Numbers 34:3, but whether it was at this time so or no, is doubted. Our Lord commandeth the devils not to make him known, not desiring any such preachers.

Verses 13-15

We have this piece of history, or rather something to which it relates, both in Matthew and in Luke, only Mark hath this peculiar to himself, that our Saviour did this upon a mountain. It is the opinion of Bucer, that this was the mountain at the foot of which he preached the sermon largely recorded, Matthew 5:1-29, and (as some judge) more shortly by Luke 6:17-45; he thinketh the multitude here mentioned is the same with that mentioned Matthew 4:25, and Luke 3:7, and that our Saviour did not go up into this mountain to preach, or ordain his disciples, but only to pray, and to discourse with some of his disciples more privately about spiritual mysteries. That it was at this time that he continued all night in prayer to God, Luke 6:12; and in the morning called unto him such of his disciples as he thought fit, and discoursed with them his intentions concerning them, telling them,

1. That he had chosen them to be with him, ordinarily, to be eye and ear witnesses of what he spake and did.

2. That he designed soon after to send them out to preach; which we read he did, Mark 6:7; Matthew 10:1; to give them a power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: so that this chapter only mentions Christ’s election of them, not his actual sending them, which is discoursed Mark 6:7-13, as also Matthew 10:1-42.

These things being privately transacted on the mountain, Bucer thinks he came down into the plain at the foot of the mountain, according to Luke 6:17, and there preached that sermon mentioned Matthew 5:1-29, as we before said. The evangelist telling us that he called to him which of his disciples he would, lets us know, that he chose them, and not they him; that the choice of them was of his free grace and mercy; and his continuing all night in prayer before this choice, lets us know the gravity of the work of choosing persons fit to be sent out to preach the gospel.

Verses 16-19

Matthew nameth the apostles upon his relating the history of their mission, or sending out; Mark nameth them upon their election, or first choice. Both these evangelists agree with Luke in their names, saving that Luke calleth him Judas whom Matthew calls Lebbaeus, and Mark, Thaddaeus, so that he had three names. Christ changeth the name of Simon, whom he called Cephas, or Peter, John 1:42; we have the reason, Matthew 16:18; he also changed the names of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, calling them Boanerges, about the etymology of which name critics must dispute. The evangelists tell us it signifieth Sons of thunder, thereby minding them of their duty, to cry aloud, and to preach the gospel as on the housetops; or perhaps declaring what he knew was in the fervour and warmth of their spirits. We must not here inquire too narrowly into the secret counsels of God, in suffering a son of perdition to come into the number of his first ministers: Christ did it not because he did not know what was in his heart, for before that he showed himself a devil, by informing against his Master, Christ told his disciples that he had chosen twelve, and one of them was a devil; nor yet because he had no others to send, he had multitudes of disciples, and he who of stones could have raised up children to Abraham, could easily have fitted out a person for this service; nor yet did he do it to let in any sots and scandalous persons into the ministry, for we read of no scandal in Judas’s life. We ought to believe that God had wise ends in the permission of this, and that Christ did out of infinite wisdom do this, though we possibly are not able to give a satisfactory account in the case. What if we should say that Christ by this:

1. Instructed those that after his ascension should have the care of the church, not to pretend to judge of secret things, but only to judge as man ought to judge, according to the outward appearance, leaving the judgment of the heart to God alone.

2. God by this arms his people against the scandal of wicked ministers, such in whom corruption may break out after their entrance into that holy function, though before no such thing appeared, that they may not think the ministerial acts performed by them to have been nullities.

3. God by this also lets us know, that the efficacy of the ordinance doth not depend upon the goodness of the spiritual state of the minister that administers.

A bell may call others to hear the word, though itself receives no benefit by it. In the mean time here is no warrant either for people to choose, or the governors of a church to ordain, lewd and visibly scandalous persons. Judas was no such person; nor yet for people to own, or the governors of churches to continue, lewd and scandalous persons in the ministry, God ordinarily not blessing the labours of such. No sooner had Judas discovered himself, but he went out and hanged himself. Christ no longer allowed him his company, nor the disciples their fellowship. There is a great deal of difference with relation to our fellowship and communion, between secret wickedness concealed in the heart and open and scandalous sinning, though both be alike dangerous to the soul of the sinner.

Verses 20-21

There is no small dispute who are here called our Saviour’s friends, οι παρ’ αυτου, those who were of him, whether it signifieth his neighbours, the citizens of his city, or his nearer relations, those who belonged to the family of which he was (for he had some brethren that did not believe in him, John 7:5).

They went to lay hands on him, that is, to take him from the multitude, which pressed upon him by force, (for so the word signifies),

for they said, He is beside himself, εξεστη: various senses are given of this word, but certainly the most ordinary interpretation of it doth best agree to this place. They saw our Saviour’s warmth of spirit and zeal in the prosecution of that for which he came into the world, and did so well understand his person, or mission, and receiving the Spirit not by measure, that they took what he did to be the product and effect of a natural infirmity and imperfect head and disordered reason. The young prophet sent by Elisha was counted a mad fellow by Jehu’s comrades, 2 Kings 9:11; so was Paul by Festus, Acts 26:24, or by the Corinthians, or some crept in amongst them, 2 Corinthians 5:13. We are naturally inclined to inquire the causes of strange and unusual effects, and cannot always discern the true causes, and often make false guesses at them. I am not so prone as I find some to condemn these friends, or neighbours, or kinsmen of Christ, believing that they did verily believe as they spake, not yet fully understanding that the Spirit of the Lord in that measure was upon him, but through their infirmity fearing that he had been under some distraction, and charitably offering their help to him. The next words tell us of a far worse sense the scribes put upon his actions.

Verses 22-30

Here is no passage in all this piece of history, but what the reader will find opened these notes:

See Poole on "Matthew 9:34","Matthew 12:24", and following verses to Matthew 12:32. To which I refer the reader.

Verses 31-35

See Poole on "Matthew 12:46", and following verses to Matthew 12:50.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Mark 3". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/mark-3.html. 1685.
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