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Bible Commentaries
Mark 5

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

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Mark 5:1-20 Christ casteth out the legion of devils, and suffereth them to enter into the herd of swine.

Mark 5:21-24 He is entreated by Jairus to go and heal his daughter.

Mark 5:25-34 By the way he healeth a woman of an inveterate issue of blood.

Mark 5:35-43 He raiseth Jairus’s daughter to life.

Verses 1-20

This famous piece of history hath the testimony of three evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. We meeting with it in Matthew, did not only largely open what passages Matthew hath about it, but what both Mark and Luke have. See Poole on "Matthew 8:28", and following verses to Matthew 8:34. We shall only annex here some short notes. Interpreters judge the country of the Gergesenes, and of

the Gadarenes mentioned here, to have been the same, sometimes receiving the denomination from one city, sometimes from another in it. Why the devils are called unclean spirits, in opposition to the Holy Spirit, &c., we have formerly showed; as also why they delight to be about tombs. We have also showed his power, which (by God’s permission) he exerciseth upon men: some he possesseth, and acteth the part of the soul in them (especially as to the locomotive faculty); these are properly called demoniacs, ενεργουμενοι. Others he afflicts more as a foreign agent, offering violence to them. Others he more secretly influences, by impressions and suggestions: thus he still ordinarily worketh in the children of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2; nor are the people of God free from this impetus, though, being succoured by Christ, they are not so ordinarily overcome. Of the mighty power of the evil angels to break chains and fetters we need not doubt, considering that though fallen from their first righteousness, they yet have their natural power as spirits.

I adjure thee by God, is no more than, I solemnly entreat thee; it hath not the force of, Swear unto me by God, as some would have it. Matthew mentions two (of these demoniacs); Mark and Luke but one: there were doubtless two, but probably one of them was not so raging as the other, and therefore less taken notice of. Some think one of these men was a heathen, the other a Jew:

1. Because the term legion, which the demoniac gives himself, is a heathen term, signifying a squadron of soldiers, about six thousand or more, as some reckon.

2. Christ was now in a country full of heathens.

3. The woman of whose cure we next read was a Syrophenician. It is observable, that a multitude of evil spirits is called by the name of the devil; because, though considered as individual spirits they are many, yet in their malice and mischievous designs against mankind they are as one.

Oh that the people of God were as well united in designs for his glory! Some interpreters start a question here, not very easy to be resolved, viz. What made the devils so desirous that Christ would not send them out of the country. Their answer is not improbable: That it was a paganish, ignorant, sottish place, where usually the devil hath the best markets and the greatest rule. For as it is said of Christ, that he could not do much in some places where he came because of their unbelief; so neither can the devil do much in some places, because of the faith of the gospel received by them. Hence it is observable, that as the devil is not able to play his game in any place amongst Christians, as he doth this day amongst heathens; so he hath much less power at this day in places where the word of God is more generally known, and more faithfully preached, than in other places where people are more ignorant of the Scriptures, and have less faithful and frequent preaching. In the latter he dealeth most by more inward suggestions and impressions. Our learned Dr. Lightfoot observes it probable, that this city or country was generally made up of pagans, or apostatized Jews, because they nourished so many swine, which to the Jews were unclean beasts. For other things relating to the explication of this history;

See Poole on "Matthew 8:28", and following verses to Matthew 8:34.

Verses 21-24

This whole history also is recorded both by Matthew and Luke, and we have already fully opened the several passages of it mentioned by all the evangelists, to which we refer the reader. (See Poole on "Matthew 9:18", &c.), Christ was now come over again into Galilee, where though the temple was not, yet there were synagogues, where the people did ordinarily assemble to worship God. Nor were they without order in these synagogues; they had one whom they called the ruler of the synagogue, who directed and ordered the affairs of that particular synagogue. It is more probable that Jairus (here mentioned) was in that sense so called, than because he was one of the court of twenty-three which the Jews are said to have had in every city.

Verses 25-34

See Poole on "Matthew 9:18", and following verses to Matthew 9:22, upon this whole history, containing a passage which happened in the way between the place where our Saviour first heard of the sickness of Jairus’s daughter and his house, whither our Saviour was now going. We shall in these histories observe our Saviour propounding several questions to persons: of the matter to which they related, he could not be presumed to be ignorant, being as to his Divine nature omniscient; but he only propounded them for the bettering of the knowledge of those to whom or amongst whom he spake, that his miracles might be more fully and distinctly understood. So also he is said to have known many things (as here,

that virtue had gone out of him) which he only knew as he was God, and knew all things. It is also observable how Christ encourages the first rudiments of saving faith in him. All that we read of this woman is, that she said,

If I may but touch his clothes, I shall be whole: this was much short of her owning and receiving him as her Lord and Saviour. It amounted to no more than a persuasion she had of his Divine power and goodness, and that with respect to the healing of a bodily distemper; neither doth it import her believing him to be the eternal Son of God, but one to whom God had communicated a power of healing. In this confidence she cometh unto him, and toucheth the border of his garment. She is presently healed. Christ saith, her faith had made her whole. Christ measures her faith by the light and means she had received, and accordingly rewards it; and if the notion be true, that where he healed the body he also healed the soul, this was the beginning of a greater faith in her.

Verses 35-43

There is nothing in this history needeth further notes for explication, than what we gave in the notes on Matthew, to which I here refer the reader; See Poole on "Matthew 9:18-19,Matthew 9:23", and following verses to Matthew 9:31.

There is nothing more unaccountable in all the passages of our Saviour’s life recorded by the evangelists, than the charges that he gave to several persons healed by him,

that no man should know it. Especially if we consider:

1. That he did not charge all so; he bid the person possesses with the devil, Luke 5:19, go home to his friends, and tell them how great things the Lord had done for him.

2. That he could not expect to be concealed had they yielded obedience, for his miracles were done openly, and it was not likely that all would keep silence, nay, he commanded the leper to go and show himself to the priests.

3. Few of those thus charged did keep silence; nor do we ever find that Christ reflected blame on them, from which yet we cannot acquit them.

But we must not think to understand the reasons of all Christ’s actions and speeches; he had doubtless wise ends in doing it, though we do not understand them.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Mark 5". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/mark-5.html. 1685.
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