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Bible Commentaries
Mark 9

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Verse 1

Mar 9:1

Mark 9:1 And he said unto them,--When the New Testament was first written, it was not divided into chapters and verses as we now have it. Each book was one continuous article without any breaks. Later they were divided into chapters and verses, by uninspired man for his convenience in reading and studying the Bible. Sometimes in dividing a chapter, the division was made at the wrong place and cut the sentence in two. That is true with this chapter. This verse belongs to the eighth chapter, right after Mark 8:38. See the end of the Chapter notes for Mark 8.

Verses 2-10

Mar 9:2-10

6. THE TRANSFIGURATION

Mark 9:2-10

(Matthew 17:1-13; Luke 9:28-36.)

Verily I say unto you, There are some here of them that stand by, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power.--"Some," not all, were to live to see the kingdom come. Judas hanged himself before it came. He is the only one of the twelve that did not live to see this prediction fulfilled. The kingdom and power had not come at this time. Both were yet to come. The kingdom was to come with the power. The power was to come with the Spirit. (Acts 1:8.) The Spirit came on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. (Acts 2:1-4.) As the kingdom was to come with the power, and as the power was to come with the Spirit, and since the Spirit and power came on Pentecost, therefore, the kingdom came on that day.

We now come to one of the most sublime scenes of all sacred history--the transfiguration.

2 And after six days--[This was six days after Peter had confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, in Cesarea Philippi, with the incidents following it. Luke says, "About eight days," counting both the day on which the confession was made and this on which the transfiguration took place. Matthew and Mark count the intervening days.]

Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John,--[Jesus takes with him, as he did on other occasions, the three favored disciples. Jesus had these three with him when he raised the daughter of Jairus, and a few months later they were with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Paul (Galatians 2:9), speaking of his visit to Jerusalem, called them "pillars." This does not indicate favoritism; but they were active, prompt; and he accorded to each the position to which his fidelity and activity entitled him.]

and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart by themselves:--This mountain upon whose heights he led them was on the road from Cesarea Philippi toward Jerusalem. Some think it was Mount Hermon or some of its projections others, Mount Tabor. The former is the more probable one.] No one knows for certain what mountain the transfiguration was on. "Apart by themselves" means apart from the other disciples.

and he was transfigured before them;--["Transfigured" means changed in form and appearance. When Jesus came to the earth, he changed his glorious appearance for one in the flesh. The inhabitants of the heavenly region wear an appearance of surpassing glory. The face of Moses when he came down from the mountain after he had been forty days with God shone with such glory that the children of Israel could not look upon it. So he put a veil over it while he talked with them. (Exodus 34:29-34.) This was a reflected glory. When Jesus appeared to Saul on the way to Damascus, a light above the brightness of the midday sun shone round about him; so Saul was smitten with blindness. This appearance of Jesus on the mount is supposed to represent him in his glorified, or spiritual, state. Man, in the flesh, could not take in the transcendent glory of his appearance. It was a light so brilliant that it would have blinded men. When he came to earth, he veiled his glory under the flesh of humanity, so he could sympathize with man and man could approach him;now he comes on this occasion to show to his chosen disciples his true, spiritual appearance. Jesus was the "effulgence of his [God’s] glory, and the very image of his substance." (Hebrews 1:3.) In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. This glory shone forth in his countenance. It was as bright as the sun; so to look upon it with our fleshly eyes was to be smitten with blindness.]

3 and his garments became glistering, exceeding white, so as no fuller on earth can whiten them.--[His raiment was as white as the light. The brilliance from his body flowed through the raiment and it was as white as the light. "So as no fuller on earth can whiten them" means nothing on earth can surpass it or add to its whiteness. This was a picture and a promise to the true follower of Jesus of what he shall become in the future state. "Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself." (Philippians 3:21.) "Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is." (1 John 3:2.) Luke (9:29) says as he "was praying" he was transfigured into his glorious state. The blessing came in prayer.] From these and other circumstances it seems plain that in heaven in glorified bodies Christians will preserve their identity.

4 And there appeared unto them Elijah with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.--[The two who appeared with him from the spirit land were Moses, the giver of the law, the type of Christ, and Elijah, or Elias, as he was called in Greek, the greatest of all the prophets of the Old Testament times. Moses died "in the land of Moab over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day." (Deuteronomy 34:6.) Elijah did not die, but ascended into heaven in a chariot of fire; was translated, that he did not see death. (2 Kings 3 11.) They were in the state of the dead; were not yet raised, since Jesus was the firstborn from the dead. He had not yet died. They were in the spirit form. Many think that this occurred that Moses the lawgiver of the Old Testament, and Elijah, the greatest of the prophets in the dispensation that was ended because of transgression, and was the schoolmaster to bring the Jews to Christ, should give their testimony to Jesus. Luke says they "appeared in glory." The same halo of glory and of light that shone from Jesus glowed from the faces of Moses and Elijah. His decease, which was to occur at Jerusalem, to which he had now turned his face for the last final journey, was the subject of their conference. They likely came to encourage and strengthen him for the trials and sufferings that he must undergo. With his death the dispensation of which Moses was the lawgiver and mediator, and of which Elijah was the most prominent prophet and restorer, would end. Blotting "out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross." (Colossians 2:14.) The law of Moses was fulfilled in Christ. "It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise hath been made. . . . So that the law is become our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor." (Galatians 3:19-25.) The time was nigh when this dispensation preparatory to the coming of the kingdom must be done away, and when this kingdom, which shall never be destroyed, but shall stand forever, was to be opened to man. This conference with Moses and Elias on the mount in the presence of the three apostles was concerning the death of Jesus that would usher in this kingdom that would never be destroyed. Luke says Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep. They had come up to the mount, had been up all night. The conference was toward day, and they were heavy with sleep; but they awakened and saw his glory and the two men that were with him. How the apostles knew who they were we are not told. Jesus probably informed them. Only the leading facts are told.]

5 And Peter answereth and saith to Jesus, Rabbi, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Eli jah.--A tabernacle is a tent or something to protect people from the heat of the sun and the weather. It was a temporary fixture, not permanent. Peter was rejoiced at the vision and desirous of continuing it. He proposed, therefore, that they should prolong this interview, and dwell there.

6 For he knew not what to answer; for they became sore afraid.--[Luke says, as they (Moses and Elijah) were departing from them, Peter said: "Master, it is good for us to be here:and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." This seems to have been spoken as if to stay their departing visitants. Luke says he said it, "not knowing what he said." It seems from all the accounts that they reached the mountain tired and wearied, and during the prayers of Jesus, as afterwards in Gethsemane, they fell asleep; and when they awoke and saw the glory of Jesus and of the two men who stood with them, they were struck with awe and wonder. As Moses and Elijah started to leave, Peter made this proposition. He was so perturbed he hardly knew what he said, or it may mean he did not understand the things he proposed were ill suited to the wants of these persons now in the spirit state.]

7 And there came a cloud overshadowing them:--Matthew (Matthew 17:5) says: "A bright cloud." It is probable the cloud was similar to the one that attended the Israelites through the wilderness, a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. This was during the night. Luke (Luke 9:37) says: "And it came to pass, on the next day, when they were come down from the mountain, a great multitude met him." This would indicate that they spent the night on the mount. It was probably one of the allnight seasons of prayer to God which Jesus was given to holding. This cloud, the representative of the divine glory and presence, came down upon them; so they entered into it, and the apostles feared, as they were enveloped in the bright cloud. He was veiled from human sight by the cloud. No eye could behold him and live. "He made darkness havilious around about him, dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled."]

and there came a voice out of the cloud, This is my beloved Son: hear ye him.--[Out of this cloud came the voice of God, as it did from the cleft heavens at his baptism, and declared "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." It now adds: "Hear ye him." Then he was declared to be the Son of the living God now the command is added: "Hear ye him." This is the command of God to man to hear Jesus. It is equivalent to the declaration that whosoever hears Jesus hears God who sent him. To hear Jesus or his apostles is to hear God.] "Hear ye him" is the chief significance of the whole affair. They had heard Moses (the law) and Elijah (the prophet) now they must hear Christ. Jesus is the prophet and the lawgiver now. He is the one who speaks from heaven, and the mediator of the new covenant. (Hebrews 12:22-25.)

8 And suddenly looking round about, they saw no one any more, save Jesus only with themselves.--[The cloud had passed away, and carried these visitors from the spirit land back to their abodes; and Jesus was left alone.] Moses and Elijah were gone. They had abdicated in his favor. Henceforth there is to be but one authoritative teacher and lawgiver. The prescriptions of Moses and Elijah are to be no more binding except as they may be endorsed or reenacted by him. Fifteen hundred years before, Moses had told of a prophet to come, to whom they must especially hearken. Now he has come, and his exclusive authority is proclaimed, "Hear ye him," and him alone, for everything depends upon it.

9 And as they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, save when the Son of man should have risen again from the dead.--Luke (Luke 9:36) says: "And they held their peace, and told no man in those days any of the things which they had seen." Peter delighted to refer to it. It made a lasting impression upon him, and he understood its import. "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there was born such a voice to him by the Majestic Glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased:and this voice we ourselves heard borne out of heaven, when we were with him in the holy mount. And we have the word of prophecy made more sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the daystar arise in your hearts." (2 Peter 1:16-19.) "The word of prophecy" was always true and sure, but God’s voice here pointed Jesus out more specially and directly as the antitype of Moses and the Son of God in fulfillment of all prophecy.

10 And they kept the saying, questioning among themselves what the rising again from the dead should mean.--[It was likely morning when they came down from the mountain. As they came down Jesus told them to tell no man of the vision, what ye have seen, until the Son of man is risen from the dead. "They kept the saying, questioning among themselves what the rising again from the dead should mean." It seems to us singular that, when Jesus so frequently and so clearly told he must be crucified and rise again, they did not understand it. He had told it six days previous to this, when Peter reproved him, and was told to get behind him. (Matthew 16:23.) Now he tells it again. They cannot take it in or understand what he means. They kept these matters among themselves, talking one with another, as to what he meant by this language. This vision seems to have been to give them now a vision of the future glory. They could not now understand or take in its meaning; but after his resurrection, they remembered it, understood it, and it made the prophecies concerning Jesus more sure to them, and gave an illustration of the appearance of the Son of God in the glorified body; so that we may have a clearer idea of what we shall be when we see him as he is, and are thereby transformed into the likeness of the Son of God.]

Verses 2-13

Mar 9:2-13

Commentary On Mark 9:2-13

J.W. McGarvey

The Transfiguration, Mark 9:2-13. (Matthew 17:1-13; Luke 9:28-36)

2-13.—This display of the majesty of Jesus is more fully treated by Matthew. Mark adds no material fact; hence the remarks on the parallel in Matthew are sufficient for both passages.

Verses 11-13

Mar 9:11-13

7. JESUS ANSWERS THE QUESTION

CONCERNING ELIJAH.

Mark 9:11-13

11 And they asked him, saying, How is it that the scribes say that Elijah must first come?--The scribes were learned men in the scriptures and in the traditions of the elders and were teachers of the Jews. They expected a literal fulfillment of Malachi’s well known prediction concerning the coming of Elijah (Malachi 4:5-6), and under this influence the disciples were surprised that when he appeared in the mountain he did not remain to do the work predicted of him; hence their question.

12 And he said unto them, Elijah indeed cometh first,--He did not mean by this that Elijah was yet to come for he directly tells them he had come; but he meant to tell them it was a true doctrine which the scribes taught, that Elijah would appear before the coming of the Messiah.

and restoreth all things:--That is, to put into the former situation. (Matthew 12:13.) Here it means to heal, to correct, to put in proper order. It means that Elijah would put things in a proper state; be the agent in reforming the people, of restoring them in some measure to proper notions about the Messiah, and preparing them for his coming. It is a brief summary of the prophecy concerning Elijah.

and how is it written of the Son of man, that he should suffer many things and be set at nought?--Henceforth he keeps the lesson of his suffering constantly before them. His suffering and death would be in the conformation of the "restoration of all things." It took these to complete it. After all, the disciples were not prepared for it when the hour came. This prepares the way for what is said regarding Elijah in the next verse. This was written of Jesus particularly in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. To be set at "nought" is to he esteemed as worthless, or as nothing; to be cast out and despised. No prophecy was ever more strikingly fulfilled. (Luke 23:11.)

13 But I say unto you, that Elijah is come,--John the Baptist, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah. Jesus teaches them a second time that Malachi used the name of Elijah figuratively to represent John the Baptist.

and they have also done unto him whatsoever they would, even as it is written of him.--That is, they had done to John as they pleased--they had put him to death. Matthew (Matthew 17:13) adds the disciples then understood that he spoke of John the Baptist. See Luke 1:17.

Verses 14-29

Mar 9:14-29

Commentary On Mark 9:14-29

J.W. McGarvey

An Obstinate Demon Cast Out, Mark 9:14-29. (Matthew 17:14-21; Luke 9:37-43)

14. the scribes questioning.—The questioning of the scribes had reference, no doubt, to the ineffectual attempt of the nine disciples to cast out the demon. (Comp. 15-18.) It was a great triumph to these unbelievers to witness even one such failure, and they eagerly pressed the advantage which it appeared to give them.

15. were greatly amazed.—It is difficult to account for the amazement of the people at seeing Jesus. The conjecture that his face was still shining from the transfiguration, as did the face of Moses when he came down from the mount (see Alford, Lange, and others), is not even suggested by the text. The natural impression from the text is not that it was something peculiar in his appearance, but the fact of his being seen at that particular time and place, which amazed them. I infer that the people supposed Jesus to have been at a much greater distance from them than he had been, and that his return was most unexpected. If they were partaking in the doubts and suspicions of the questioning scribes, the thought of being caught by him in such a state of mind would have added much to their excitement; or if they were pained by the momentary triumph of the enemy, they would be equally excited, though from a different cause, at his unexpected return. But whatever was the cause of their amazement, its effect was to make them run to him and salute him.

16. he asked the scribes.—Before any one had found time to tell Jesus what had been going on, he surprised the scribes by demanding of them, "What question ye with them?" They saw at once that he knew all, and their failure to answer shows that they felt a deserved rebuke for their exultation.

17. one of the multitude answered.—As the scribes made no answer, the father of the afflicted youth spoke out and told what had given occasion for the questioning referred to.

I have brought unto thee.—The father had run forward with the multitude to meet Jesus, and had brought his son, but not into the immediate presence of Jesus. (Mark 9:20.) As he began the sad story he stepped forward and kneeled down at Jesus’ feet. (Matthew 17:14.)

a dumb spirit.—Called a dumb spirit because it deprived its victim of speech. (Comp. Mark 9:25.) The young man was not only deaf and dumb, but a lunatic, and subject to fits. (Matthew 17:15.)

18. wheresoever he taketh him.—The convulsions seem to have occurred at irregular intervals, being regulated by the whim and moods of the demon which produced them. (Comp. Mark 9:20.) The father’s expression, "wheresoever he taketh him," seems also to imply that he supposed the spirit to be in the child only at these periods of severe suffering; and this thought is confirmed by the words of Jesus; "Come out of him, and enter no more into him." (Mark 9:25.)

19. O faithless generation.—On this expression of Jesus, see the note on Matthew 17:17.

20. straightway the spirit tare him.Convulsed him. This act of the spirit in the very presence of Jesus, as they brought the child near, displayed a wickedness and obstinacy on its part unequaled in the accounts of these desperate beings. Having clung to its victim in spite of all the efforts of the disciples, it now seems determined to defy the power of Jesus himself. How different from the piteous supplications of the legion at Gadara! 21, 22. How long is it ago.—The question, "How long is it ago since this came to him," brought out the fact that it was a case of long standing, and thus rendered the subsequent cure the more remarkable. The father’s answer, "Of a child," more accurately rendered, "From childhood," does not mean from his birth, but from early childhood as distinguished from youth; for Mark still calls him a child. (Mark 9:24.) The time had been when he was free from both the dumbness and the convulsions. The father’s answer shows still further the malignity of the demon, in that it would often throw its victim into the fire and into the water, as if it took a fiendish pleasure in the pain which it had the power to inflict.

23. If thou canst believe.—The father’s doubting remark, "If thou canst do any thing," is echoed by the answer, "If thou canst believe." Each would be more happily rendered, "If you are able to do any thing," "If you are able to believe." The additional remark, "All things are possible to him that believeth," does not imply inability to heal an unbeliever, for many of the miracles were wrought on persons who had no faith; but it hinted at a possible refusal, as at Nazareth, to heal those who in the face of competent evidence were still unbelievers. It also served as an incentive to the father to get rid of the doubt implied in his petition, and it was an assertion in the presence of the scribes who had exulted over the failure of the disciples, that "all things were possible" with himself.

24. said with tears.—The Savior’s response brought about within the afflicted father the struggle which was intended. His tears expressed his anxiety for his son, and his words declared the weakness of the faith on which the cure was now to depend. The contradictory answer, "I believe; help thou my unbelief," can have sprung only from a heart distracted between a burning desire and a weak faith. It can not have been invented by Mark. Having said, "I believe," he feared that he had gone too far; he calls his weak faith unbelief, and begs Jesus to help it. How different this from the conduct of the scribes who were resisting the force of evidence and struggling to maintain a stubborn unbelief!

25. When Jesus saw.—Already a large portion of the multitude had surrounded Jesus, having run to him when he first came into view. (Mark 9:15.) The running together mentioned in this verse was the coming of others from the vicinity, and perhaps the rush of all to get still nearer to him. This was a wide departure from the privacy which he had been maintaining, so Jesus immediately proceeded to cast out the demon, and to withdraw with his disciples into a house. (Mark 9:28.)

26, 27. as one dead.—Nothing but the amazing cruelty and effrontery of the demon can account for the convulsion into which he threw the young man as he left him. The outcry was not an articulate sound, but one of those fearful shrieks which are sometimes heard from the deaf and dumb, while the shock given to the nervous system of the young man left him pulseless and apparently dead. Such torture wantonly inflicted by a demon, gives an awful conception of the state of society which must prevail among these Godforsaken spirits. While the bystanders were saying that the youth was dead, the touch of Jesus, who alone can deliver us from the power of the devil, brought instant restoration to him, and joy to the heart of his kind father.

28, 29. Why could not we.—On the reason why the disciples could not cast out this demon, see the notes, Matthew 17:18-21.

Verses 30-32

Mar 9:30-32

Commentary On Mark 9:30-32

J.W. McGarvey

Return through Galilee, and Second Prediction of Death, Mark 9:30-32. (Matthew 17:22-23; Luke 9:43-45)

30. and passed through Galilee.—They were returning from Cæsarea Philippi (Mark 8:27), whither they had gone by passing east of the upper Jordan through the district called Iturea. That they returned "through Galilee," shows that they came down on the west of the Jordan. They were on their way back to Capernaum. (Mark 9:33.)

that any man should know it.—The statement that as they passed through Galilee "he would not that any man should know it," is the last mention made of the privacy which Jesus had maintained ever since his journey to the vicinity of Tyre. (Comp. Mark 7:24; Mark 7:33; Mark 7:36; Mark 8:23; Mark 8:26; Mark 9:25.) It was this privacy which occasioned the taunting remark of his unbelieving kindred, "Depart hence and go into Judea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly." (John 7:3-4.)

31. is delivered.—Jesus here uses the present tense—"The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men"—because the sad event was so vividly present to his imagination. The usage is common in the writings of the prophets.

the third day.—The corrected text has it "after three days," thus furnishing a second example in Mark of the use of this expression where Matthew has "on the third day." (Comp. Matthew 17:23, and see note on Mark 8:31.)

32. afraid to ask him.—They could not understand the plain words of this prediction, simply because they were not willing to receive them in their obvious import, and they could not discover in them any other meaning. It is not unfrequently the case, even at the present day, that a passage of Scripture is obscure merely because it is capable of but one meaning, and this meaning one that we are unwilling to accept. Being for this reason unable to understand Jesus, they were afraid to ask him what he meant, lest he should rebuke them as he had rebuked Peter when the subject was first mentioned. (Mark 8:33.)

Verses 33-37

Mar 9:33-37

Commentary On Mark 9:33-37

J.W. McGarvey

Dispute about Who shall be Greatest, Mark 9:33-37 (Matthew 18:1-35; Luke 9:46-50)

33. What was it.—There is an appearance of discrepancy here between Matthew and Mark. Matthew represents the disciples as beginning the conversation by asking who should be greatest, while Mark introduces it by saying that Jesus asked them, "What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?" We take both reports as true, and each as elliptical. As Matthew states, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (Matthew 18:1.) They ask this with an air of innocent inquiry, giving no intimation of the dispute in which they had engaged. Jesus begins his reply by asking them, "What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?" showing that he knew the cause and the occasion of their inquiry. Confused and conscience-smitten, "they held their peace." (Mark 9:34.)

35-37. and saith to them.—Mark is here very brief, devoting only two short paragraphs (Mark 9:33-37 and Mark 9:42-50) to a discourse which occupies the entire eighteenth chapter of Matthew. (For remarks on Mark 9:35-37, see notes, Matthew 18:1-5.)

Verses 38-50

Mar 9:38-50

Commentary On Mark 9:38-50

J.W. McGarvey

John’s Jealousy, and Remarks about Offenses, Mark 9:38-50. (Matthew 18:6-9)

38. we forbade him.—The expression, "he followeth not us," means that he was not one of the immediate attendants of Jesus. Seeing such a man casting out demons excited John’s jealousy, because he thought that no others than the chosen twelve ought to be honored with this power. Such jealousy in regard to official prerogatives is a very common passion, and one against which men occupying positions of trust and authority should be constantly on their guard.

39. Forbid him not.—If the man had been an enemy of Christ, using his power in opposition to the truth, it would have been right to forbid him; but, according to John’s own statement, he was casting out demons in the name of Jesus, and this proved him to be a friend. Moreover, John should have known that no man could cast out demons in the name of Jesus unless Jesus had given him power to do so; and if Jesus had given him the power it was his privilege to exercise it.

40. he that is not against us.—It is impossible for a man to occupy strictly neutral ground in reference to Christ. His influence must preponderate in one way or the other. If in no sense he is against Christ, then he is for him; and if he is not for Christ, he is against him. (Comp. Matthew 12:30.)

41, 42.—On these verses, see the notes, Matthew 10:40-42; Matthew 18:6.

43-47. into hell.—On the origin and significance of the term hell, see the note on Matthew 5:22. The view there taken of its meaning is confirmed by the present passage; for Jesus shows the sense in which he uses it by adding the explanatory clause, "into the fire that never shall be quenched." Hell, then, is equivalent to the fire that never shall be quenched. It is also placed here in opposition to "life": "It is better to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell." The life here referred to is not the temporal life, nor the Christian life, into both of which the disciples addressed had already entered; but eternal life, into which they had not yet entered. Being cast into hell, then, which is the alternative of entering into this life, can be none other than punishment in the future state.

The reader will please to notice the changes in these verses adopted by some of the critics. If they are correct, the explanatory clause, "into the fire that never shall be quenched," properly occurs only in Mark 9:43, and the clause, "where their worm dieth not," only in Mark 9:48.

On the word "offend," see the note on Matthew 18:8

48. their worm dieth not.—The image is taken from Isaiah (Isaiah 66:24), and is that of worms feeding on the dead carcasses of men. Applied to the future state, as it unquestionably is in this passage, it represents those who shall be cast into hell as being in a state of decay and rottenness, while unquenchable fires are burning them but never consuming them.

49. salted with fire.—This is confessedly an obscure passage, and on the meaning of it a variety of opinions have been advanced. The difficulty in the first clause centers chiefly, as Bloomfield justly remarks, in the word "fire." As we take it to be a symbol of punishment, or a symbol of purification, our interpretation of the entire verse must vary. If the passage were entirely isolated, it would be more naturally understood as referring to purification; for salt is the symbol of perpetuity, and fire is often used in the Scriptures as a symbol of those trials which purify the soul as the precious metals are purified by fire. But the passage is not isolated: it is the concluding part of a closely connected discourse, and is tied to the preceding by the conjunction for (γαρ). The context must therefore determine the sense in which "fire" is to be taken. But in the context this term is used with great emphasis three times according to the corrected text, and six times according to "the received text," as a symbol of punishment. Indeed, the disaster of being cast into hell fire is held up as a warning throughout the context, and, for the purpose of emphasis, it is repeated again and again. When, therefore, immediately after the last repetition of it in the words, "where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched," the remark follows, "For every one shall be salted with fire," it would be doing violence to one of the most invariable rules of interpretation to assign to the term "fire" a new and different sense. We conclude, then, that the term is used here, as elsewhere in the paragraph, to denote punishment, and that with this conclusion our interpretation of the sentence must harmonize. This being so, the expression "every one" (πς) must also be limited by the context, and must mean every one who, contrary to the teaching just given, refuses to cut off the offending hand, or to pluck out the offending eye. It had just been intimated that all such would be cast into hell fire; it is now said that every such one shall be salted with fire. As salt, on account of its power to preserve meats, is the symbol of perpetuity, to be salted with fire is to be perpetually permeated by fire, or to be kept perpetually in a state of the severest pain.

and every sacrifice.—The meaning of this clause turns on the question, whether it expresses a comparison of those who are salted with fire with the sacrifices which are salted with salt, or presents those who are salted with fire in antithesis with others who would make the required sacrifices. Alford and some other interpreters adopt the former view, and would express the idea thus: "For every one shall be salted with fire, just as every sacrifice is salted with salt." But if this had been the meaning, it is inexplicable that the conjunction and (καὶ) is used to connect the two clauses, instead of the adverb so (ὣς or ὣστε). It is safer, and far more in harmony with the context, to take the conjunction in its proper and ordinary sense, and to understand the clause as continuing the antithesis which has been kept up throughout the context between those who would cut off the offending hand or foot, and enter into life, and those who, refusing to do so, would be cast into hell. By every sacrifice is meant every person who presents himself as a sacrifice to God in cutting off his offending members, or, in other words, by denying himself those sinful pleasures and enjoyments which are represented by these. (Comp. Romans 12:1.) That such shall be salted with salt, as contrasted with being salted with fire, means that they shall be preserved unto everlasting life—that they shall enter into that life which is contrasted with being cast into hell. The figure and the mode of expressing it are both taken from a provision in the law which required that every offering presented at the altar should be seasoned with salt. (Leviticus 2:13.)

50. Salt is good.—Salt is here used, as in the preceding verse, to symbolize that principle in Christian life which leads to perseverance amid all required self-sacrifice. The remark is sententious and emphatic, giving preeminence to the virtue in question.

wherewith will ye season it?—Here the salt is supposed to have lost its saltness, and the question is asked, "wherewith will ye season it?" The question answers itself, being the figure of erotesis, and affirms that the lost saltness can not be restored. Passing from the symbol to that which is symbolized, it is affirmed that if a man lose the power of perseverance in the Christian life, there is no restoration for him; his inevitable fate is to be cast into hell, to be "salted with fire.’ Have salt in yourselves.—Maintain in yourselves the quality of perseverance by making every sacrifice necessary thereto. Their contention as to who should be greatest (Mark 9:33-34), and their jealousy toward the brother who had been casting out demons (Mark 9:38), were calculated to impair this quality by causing alienations and discouragement. In opposition to this they are required to encourage patience in one another, and it is added, "have peace one with another." Strife among them would destroy their salt; peace would tend to preserve it.

Argument of Section 8

The two miracles recorded in the preceding section—the cure of the blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26), and the casting out of the obstinate demon (Mark 9:14-29)—are additional demonstrations of the divine power of Jesus. They are not mere repetitions of former proofs, but they possess peculiar force in that the blind man was cured by progressive steps, each one of which was a miracle in itself, and in that the demon in question was one of peculiar power and obstinacy.

The foreknowledge of Jesus is again displayed in his two predictions concerning his own death (Mark 8:31-33; Mark 9:30-32), and with his foreknowledge, his predetermined purpose to submit to death at the hands of his enemies.

But the crowning argument of the section is contained in the account of the transfiguration. If the testimony of those who witnessed this scene is not false testimony, his divine majesty and his God-given right to be heard in all that he chooses to speak, are established beyond all possibility of a mistake.

End of Part First

We have now reached the close of the first general division of Mark’s narrative. Hitherto, after a few introductory statements in the first chapter (Mark 1:1-13), all the incidents which he records occurred in Galilee, or in the regions immediately adjoining. Now the writer leaves Galilee, and returns to it no more. (See Notes on Mark 10:1.).

Questions by E.M. Zerr For Mark Chapter Nine

1. What was soon to come?

2. Who were assured they would see it?

3. In six days where did Jesus go?

4. Whom did he take with him ?

5. What happened to him?

6. Describe his raiment.

7. Who appeared to them ?

8. Where had Elias been?

9. What had happened to Moses ?

10. Were these men conscious?

11. State the proposition of Peter.

12. Why did he say this?

13. What came over them?

14. Tell what was said.

15. How did this differ from that at his baptism?

16. What sudden change took place?

17. How secret were they charged to keep?

18. For how long were they to keep it?

19. What subject puzzled the disciples ?

20. Tell what they asked Jesus.

21. Who was this Elias?

22. What was he to do?

23. They thought this would prevent what?

24. What were multitudes doing with the disciples

25. How were they diverted from them?

26. What did Jesus ask them?

27. State the cause of the commotion.

28. In what had the disciples failed ?

29. What did Jesus call that generation?

30. What did he then order?

31. How did the demon perform now?

32. What did Jesus do about it?

33. How long had the son been afflicted?

34. Which was required to believe, father or son?

35. After the miracle what was condition of the son?

36. Slate the private question of the disciples.

37. And the answer.

38. Where did they next journey?

39. What was Jesus’ desire now ?

40. Whom did he wish to teach?

41. On what subject did he inform them?

42. How did it affect them?

43. State what city they entered.

44. What had happened on the way?

45. Was it done openly?

46. State their behaviour at his question.

47. What did Jesus use for illustration?

48. What desire makes one the last?

49. Receiving Christ includes whom?

50. What did John report having seen?

51. Why had they forbidden him?

52. Tell what Jesus commands them.

53. In what name were these miracles done?

54. How would this name have to be treated?

55. Can one be “neither for nor against” Christ?

56. Will trivial gifts be rewarded?

57. What will bring a penalty worse than drowning?

58. What should be done with an offending hand?

59. Tell what is worse than a maimed life.

60. What kind of fire is it to be?

61. Tell what will not die.

62. To what other members is this lesson applied ?

63. What mineral perpetuates its surroundings?

64. What other element is compared to this ?

65. Who will have this applied to them?

66. Tell when this will be.

67. When is salt not good?

68. What may it preserve in us now?

Mark Chapter Nine

By Ralph L. Starling

Jesus and 3 disciples go to Mt. Transfiguration.

Elias and Moses join them on that special occasion.

Peter was so overwhelmed by what was going on.

“Let’s build 3 tabernacles and each have one.”

A voice came out of the cloud and overshadowed them

Saying, “This is my beloved Son, you hear Him!”

Suddenly Elias and Moses were gone.

Jesus charged the disciples, “Tell no one.”

The Disciples asked, “What does rising from the dead men?”

Jesus said, “the Prophet Elias makes it quite plain.”

Later Jesus found them talking to the Scribes.

He inquired, “What were they trying to decide?”

One in the crowd said, “I brought my invalid son

Your disciples couldn’t heal him—no not one.”

Jesus answered him with a tired voice,

“O faithless generation, don’t they have a choice?”

The disciples in private ask this case they couldn’t master.

His answer: “This was a case for prayer and fasting.”

He continued preparing them for His death.

They didn’t understand but were afraid to ask.

His disciples were asking “who is the greatest?”

Jesus took a child, “Except you be like this

Whatever else you do, don’t offend one.

You would be better drowned tied to a millstone.”

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Mark 9". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/mark-9.html.
 
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