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Bible Commentaries
Mark 8

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

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Verses 1-9

Mar 8:1-9

Commentary On Mark 8:1-9

J.W. McGarvey

Feeding the Four Thousand, Mark 8:1-9. (Matthew 15:32-38)

1-9.—The account of this miracle is so nearly identical with that given by Matthew that no remarks additional to those already given are deemed necessary. See the parallel in Matthew.

Verses 10-12

Mar 8:10-12

Commentary On Mark 8:10-12

J.W. McGarvey

In Dalmanutha. A Sign Demanded, Mark 10-12. (Matthew 15:39 to Matthew 16:4)

10. into the parts of Dalmanutha.—Matthew says, "into the coasts of Magdala." (Matthew 15:39.) "The coasts" (τὰ ὅρια) of Magdala were the lands lying in the vicinity of Magdala, which was a town of Considerable size. "The parts" (τὰ μέρη) of Dalmanutha were the suburbs of the place, or the lands immediately adjoining it. If we suppose Dalmanutha to have been a village "in the coasts" of Magdala, and Jesus to have been in the immediate vicinity of the former, we have the exact conception furnished by the accounts when combined. Mark, as usual, is more specific than Matthew in regard to the locality.

11. the Pharisees came forth.—Matthew represents the Sadducees as participating in this conversation.

tempting him.—See the note on Matthew 16:1.

12. he sighed deeply.—The excessive depravity exhibited by this demand for a sign in the midst of overwhelming demonstrations of divine power, seems to have moved Jesus to an unusual degree. The tone of his answer, especially as reported by Matthew, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of the prophet Jonas," is like that of the final sentence of doom on a wicked world. It was wrung from an unwilling heart by the demands of justice.

no sign be given.—No sign such as they demanded; that is, "a sign from heaven." Mark, in his brevity, omits the exception named by Matthew. (See Matthew 16:4, and the note there.)

Argument of Section 7

This section contains an account of three more remarkable miracles—the expulsion of a demon from the Gentile woman’s daughter; the restoration of speech and hearing to the deaf stammerer; and the feeding of four thousand men with seven barley loaves and a few small fishes. By these the divine power of Jesus is once more exhibited. The section also exhibits the tenderness of his compassion in his dealing with the Gentile woman and the hungry multitude, and his judicial indignation against hypocrisy in his conversation with the Pharisees. These are attributes of character which, though they do not prove their possessor to have been superhuman, are necessary to that perfection of character which must be found in the Son of God.

Verses 10-13

Mar 8:10-13


Mark 8:10-13

(Matthew 15:39; Matthew 16:4)

10 And straightway he entered into the boat with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.--Matthew (Matthew 15:39) says: "Came into the borders of Magadan." These were probably small towns situated close to each other. Some think there was but one town, having two names. Neither exists now. Note the evangelists do not say that he went to either of those towns, but only to the coasts, or parts, where they were situated. This leaves no contradiction between the two writers.

11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him,--The Pharisees were looking for a great earthly king and conqueror, with vast wealth, and invincible armies, breaking in pieces Rome and all its kingdoms, and making Jerusalem the capital of the world. They were questioning whether Jesus, who could heal the wounded, feed multitudes, calm storms, raise the dead, could he this conqueror and redeemer of the nation.

seeking of him a sign from heaven,--That would prove him to be this kind of a king and conqueror they were expecting. They saw no other way of the fulfillment of God’s promises, for they had shut their eyes and were blind to a large part of them. Probably they were seeking from him a miracle from the sky, such as the standing still of the sun and moon during the life of Joshua (Joshua 10:12-13), or as the thunder and lightning on Sinai (Exodus 19:16), and not a sign on the earth, such as his miracles were. Samuel had caused it to thunder (1 Samuel 12:16-18);Isaiah had caused the shadow to go back ten degrees on the dial of Ahaz (Isaiah 38:8);and Moses had sent them manna from heaven. (Exodus 16:4; John 6:31.) askinProbablyg it was something like this for which they were


trying him.--They wished to test the extent of his miraculous powers. As they could not deny the miracles which he had wrought, they wanted to be able to say that there were some miracles which he could not work. Once before a demand like this had been made of him (Matthew 12:38), and his refusal then inspired them with a greater boldness in again making the demand. Thus, with ingenuity truly devilish, they sought an apparent advantage over him before the people. This is the first and only time that the Pharisees and Sadducees are mentioned as acting in concert against Jesus. Their extreme jealousy toward each other, and the different grounds on which they were opposed to Jesus, rendered concert of action almost impossible. The chief cause for which the Pharisees opposed him was his disregard of their tradition; and in this the Sadducees sympathized with Jesus, because they also denied the authority of tradition. Relative to his miracles the Pharisees and Sadducees occupied common ground, and hence their agreement in asking for a sign from heaven.

12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek a sign?--When so many signs, so many incontrovertible proofs of my mission from the Father have been already given, and continue to be given daily?

verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.--That is, no such sign as they asked, namely, a sign from heaven. He said one should be given, the same as was furnished by Johah (Matthew 16:4);but this was not what they asked, nor would it be given because they asked for a sign. He wrought no sign for the sake of the sign and wonder; his miracles were wrought because they were needed and thus became signs of his love, his character, and his authority from God. It was a sin for the Pharisees to ask for new signs and miracles for a confirmation for that doctrine which has been already confirmed by miracles; so it is a sin today for one to ask for a new message of something independent of the gospel of Christ to save him. "The gospel: it is the power of God unto salvation," and we need not look for any other power to save. To the gospel God has tied us, and from it we cannot turn and expect salvation. Matthew (16:4) also adds "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of Jonah." From the statement of Jesus it has been thought that the Jews of the Savior’s time were a very adulterous people. They certainly were when compared with a perfect standard, but not when compared with the heathen nations about them. The denial of a sign from heaven did not preclude such a sign as that of Jonah. On coming from the dead Jesus gave the only sign he promised to give them.

13 And he left them, and again entering into the boat departed to the other side.--The one used by and for Jesus and his disciples.

Verses 13-21

Mar 8:13-21

Commentary On Mark 8:13-21

J.W. McGarvey

The Leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod, Mark 8:13-21. (Matthew 16:5-12)

15. the leaven of Herod.—On the leaven of the Pharisees, see the note under Matthew 16:12. The leaven of Herod was a corrupting political influence. They had need to be guarded against this, because the disputes of political partisans are not only corrupting to those who indulge them, but they impair the influence of men whose business it is to guide all parties in the way of holiness. The apostles adhered strictly, throughout their career, to the rule of action here given.

19, 20. how many baskets.—Mark here gives in its exact form, no doubt, a conversation which Matthew puts into a slightly different form for the sake of abbreviation. (Comp. Matthew 16:9-10.)

21. that ye do not understand.—Mark leaves the subject without saying, as Matthew does, whether the disciples finally understood the remark or not; but he takes it for granted that his readers would understand it.

For other remarks, see notes on the parallel in Matthew.

Verses 14-21

Mar 8:14-21


Mark 8:14 to 9:50.



Mark 8:14-21

(Matthew 16:5-12.)

14 And they forgot to take bread;--Probably through their anxiety and interest in the attack of the Pharisees on Jesus the disciples forgot to take food on their journey.

and they had not in the boat with them more than one loaf. --Our Lord noticed their search and disappointment, and took occasion to call their attention to something of infinitely greater importance.

15 And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees--"Leaven" is generally, though not always, used in scripture to represent that which is corrupt and evil. The leaven was their teaching (Matthew 16:12), both by word and by example. Leaven is the type of an active, persuasive influence, whether for good or bad. It works out of sight; it eats its way in the dark; it never ceases till it makes a full end. A dull unlikely something was hid in a measure of meal, and it proved itself there a secret, silent force that first contaminated and then changed the whole. The disciples were dull, in comprehending the meaning of Christ’s language. They thought he had spoken unto them of the leaven of bread; what he intended was the leaven of the Pharisees’ doctrine.

and the leaven of Herod.--The leaven of Herod was a corrupting political influence. They had need to be guarded against this, because the disputes of political partisans are not only corrupting to those who indulge in them, but they impair the influence of men whose business it is to guide all parties in the way of holiness. The apostles adhered strictly throughout their career to the rule of action here given. Christ compares false doctrine to leaven, because as that diffuses itself into the whole mass or lump of dough with which it is mixed, so false doctrine is not only evil and corrupt in itself, but apt to spread its contagion further and further, to the affecting of others with it. Error is as damnable as vice, and persons erroneous in judgment are to be avoided, as well as those who are wicked in conversation; and he that has a due care of his soul’s salvation will be as much afraid of erroneous principles as he is of debauched practices. Jesus does not command his disciples to separate from communion with the Pharisees and oblige them not to hear their doctrine, but only to beware of their errors, which they mix with their doctrine. More truth there is mixed with error, the more dangerous it is, for the reason the error is harder to detect.

16 And they reasoned one with another, saying, We have no bread.--The disciples talked the matter over among themselves, comparing their views, and agreed that it was a reproof for their neglecting to take bread along with them.

17 And Jesus perceiving it saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread?--How could they be so troubled about bread when they so recently saw him provide bread for thousands?

do ye not yet perceive, neither understand?--They did not understand his meaning, neither did they comprehend what he said.

have ye your heart hardened?--No abiding impression had yet been made upon their minds by the many great miracles he had performed in their presence, and the many discourses they had heard him deliver. The real need is a better life. The real danger is not from hunger for the want of physical bread, but from the forces and influences around you that are working silently in so many hearts. Put down, crush out, destroy in yourselves the first signs and workings of these leavens of evil.

18 Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?--Having the powers of seeing and hearing, they did not exercise them so as to remember the miraculous feeding of the large multitudes. If they had properly exercised these powers, they would have seen and understood that he did not refer to literal bread but to the doctrines of the Pharisees.

19-20 When I brake the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. And when the seven among the four thousand, how many basketfuls of broken pieces took ye up? And they say unto him, Seven.--Their anxiety about food to nourish the body, which Jesus rebuked, showed a dullness of spiritual perception and probably a want of faith. These questions of Jesus show beyond doubt that he fed the multitudes on two different occasions and not one as some suppose.

21 And he said unto them, Do ye not yet understand?--Matthew (Matthew 16:11-12) says: "How is it that ye do not perceive that I spake not to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Then understood they that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees." They at the last understood that, which they ought to have understood at the first. But they, like we, were slow to understand.

Verses 22-26

Mar 8:22-26

Commentary On Mark 8:22-26

J.W. McGarvey

Cure of a Blind Man at Bethsaida, Mark 8:22-26

22. Bethsaida.—This is not the Bethsaida in which Peter, Andrew, and Philip had formerly resided (see note, Matthew 11:21), but another Bethsaida, afterward called Julias, which was situated on the east bank of the Jordan, just above its entrance into the lake of Galilee. (See Smith’s Dictionary, Art. Bethsaida, 2.) This is evident from the fact that the company of Jesus had crossed from the west to the northeast side of the lake, in approaching the place. (Mark 8:10; Mark 8:13; comp. note, Matthew 16:5.)

23. led him out of the town.—Here we see once more the desire of privacy which Jesus had manifested from the time of his tour to the vicinity of Tyre. (Mark 7:24; Mark 7:33; Mark 7:36.) He led the man on through the town, in the direction of his own journey, to heal him outside.

spit on his eyes.—Again the act of spitting precedes the act of healing, as in the cure of the deaf stammerer. (Mark 7:33.) But now he spits on the man’s eyes, the part which is to be cured. The man’s eyes were probably sore, suggesting the application of saliva for its known power to soften and soothe the part thus affected.

24, 25. men as trees.—He had not been born blind, or he would not have known how trees appear as distinguished from men; but having lost his sight, when it was partially restored he received distorted vision of the men about him, so that they appeared tall and rough in their outline like trees. Another touch of the hand of Jesus completed his restoration. Jesus adopted this method of cure to give variety to the manifestations of his power by showing that he could heal in part and by progressive steps, as well as by his more usual method of effecting a perfect cure at one word. This cure was not less miraculous than others, but rather more so: for it was really the working of two miracles, each effecting instantaneously all that was intended by it.

26. Neither go... nor tell.—If the man had gone into the town seeing, or had told persons living in the town what had occurred, the whole population might have gone out in pursuit of Jesus, and thus the privacy which he was seeking to maintain would have been broken up. It was for this reason that Jesus told him to neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.

Verses 27-30

Mar 8:27-30

Commentary On Mark 8:27-30

J.W. McGarvey

Conversation near Cæsarea Philippi, Mark 8:27-30 (Matthew 16:13-20; Luke 9:18-21)

27-30.—This conversation if much more fully reported by Matthew, and the reader is referred to the notes on Matthew 16:13-20, for comments and explanations.

Verses 31-33

Mar 8:31-33

Commentary On Mark 8:31-33

J.W. McGarvey

First Prediction of His Death, Mark 8:31-33. (Matthew 16:21-23; Luke 9:22)

31. after three days.—This paragraph also is more fully reported by Matthew, and demands no remarks here except in reference to one striking difference in phraseology. In reporting the predicted time of the resurrection, Matthew has it, "the third day" (Matthew 16:21), and Mark, "after three days." As Jesus can have used only one of the two expressions, we know not which, the writer who uses the other must have regarded it as an equivalent. This circumstance contributes to the proof abundantly furnished in the Scriptures, that the two expressions were equivalent in Jewish usage. (See the discussion of this usage under Matthew 12:40.)

Verses 34-38

Mar 8:34-38

Commentary On Mark 8:34 to Mark 9:1

J.W. McGarvey

Necessity for Self-sacrifice, Mark 8:34 to Mark 9:1. (Matthew 16:24-28; Luke 9:23-27)

34. had called the people.—Notwithstanding the efforts of Jesus to secure privacy, it seems from this verse that the people were about him. Perhaps they were only the people of the neighborhood through which he was passing. Matthew fails to mention the presence of any but the disciples.

9:1. the kingdom of God come.—Where Matthew uses the expression, "till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Matthew 16:28); Mark uses the expression, "till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power;" and Luke, the expression, "till they see the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:27). All of these refer to the same event, and this event was to occur before some then present would taste of death. They saw the kingdom of God in organized existence and activity for the first time on the next Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus. They then saw the kingdom "come with power," because such was the power of the Holy Spirit’s demonstrations through the apostles, that three thousand men were that day turned to the Lord. And they saw the Son of man coming in his kingdom, not literally, but by manifesting his invisible presence to the eye of faith. What they saw with their eyes and heard with their ears attested his presence in his kingdom.

For further remarks on this prediction, and a fuller explanation of the entire speech, see the notes on the parallel in Matthew.

Questions by E.M. Zerr For Mark Chapter Eight

1. What was the condition of the multitude ?

2. For how long had they been fasting?

3. How did Jesus feel towards them?

4. Were they nearby neighbors ?

5. What might happen if sent away?

6. State the difficulty as the disciples saw it.

7. What supplies did they have ?

8. Tell what orderly arrangement Jesus required.

9. Before serving what did he do?

10. Did he serve them personally?

11. What amount was left?

12. How many were fed ?

13. To what place did he next go ?

14. By what route did he travel?

15. Who began questioning him?

16. What did they seek?

17. How did this affect Jesus?

18. What was his remark?

19. Tell what he did then.

20. What had been forgotten?

21. Did Jesus rebuke them for it?

22. What did he charge them about ?

23. How did they reason on the matter?

24. Was their reasoning aloud?

25. How did Jesus describe their heart?

26. Also their eyes and ears?

27. What would he have them remember?

28. Could they recall these events?

29. What should this have done for their minds ?

30. To what place did he now come ?

31. Who was brought unto him?

32. To where did Jesus lead the man?

33. What was first done for him ?

34. And next?

35. Was each of these effects instant ?

36. With what instruction did he send the man away?

37. Into what region did Jesus and his disciples go ?

38. Why add Philippi to the other name?

39. What did he ask them ?

40. State the answer.

41. What was his next question?

42. Who answered it?

43. Repeat his answer.

44. What did he charge them?

45. Tell what he began to teach them.

46. Was it done secretly?

47. What did Peter do ?-

48. How did Jesus name him?

49. Of what did he accuse him?

50. Whom did he call unto him?

51. Why should one deny himself?

53. What must he take up?

53. What is lost if saved?

54. For what sake is all this ?

55. What gain is unprofitable?

56. Answer the question in 37th verse.

57. Of whom will Jesus be ashamed ?

Mark Chapter Eight

By Ralph L. Starling

Mark records how 4000 people were fed

With a few fish and seven loaves of bread.

When they were done, seven baskets were left.

Straightaway Jesus and His Disciples boarded a ship.

When landed, the Pharisees again asked for a sign.

They were denied—they wouldn’t understand.

Their only motive was to get Him in trouble.

So why should He be bothered?

Later, Jesus was told they had no bread.

Jesus asked, “Where were you when 4000 were fed?

Now, is it that you don’t understand

That I am my Father’s right hand?”

At Bethsaida there was this blind man.

Jesus led him out of town by his hand.

When Jesus asked him could he see,

He said, “I see men walking like trees.”

He asked His disciples, “Who do men say I am?”

They answered, “1st one and another, even John.”

When asked how they would answer that,

Peter quickly answered, “Thou art the Christ.”

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Mark 8". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/mark-8.html.
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