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Mark 1

Watson's Exposition on Matthew, Mark, Luke & RomansWatson's Expositions

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Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

1 The office of John the Baptist.

9 Jesus is baptized,

12 tempted,

14 he preacheth:

16 calleth Peter, Andrew, James, and John:

23 healeth one that had a devil,

29 Peter’s mother-in-law,

32 many diseased persons,

41 and cleanseth the leper.

Verse 1

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

The beginning of the Gospel, &c. — This may either be regarded as a short title to the book, after the manner of some ancient writers; or it may be joined with what follows, and so the sense will be; that the Gospel, the publication, the κηρυγμα of Christ’s advent office, and glorious ministry, commenced with the ministry of John Baptist according to the prophets. The latter view makes the construction elliptical and somewhat harsh; but this is rather the character of St. Mark’s style. And as it was his design to begin his account of Christ with his public ministry, so he could not more happily introduce it than by bringing in his forerunner John, announcing his advent, preparing his way, and surrendering his own disciples to his superior tuition and authority. This was indeed “the beginning of the Gospel:” John the herald sounded the trumpet publicly before his royal Master, the Prince of peace, the Redeemer God.

Verse 2

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

In the prophets. — Some MSS. and versions read, “In Esaias the prophet,” but the connection appears to determine the point in favour of the received text; for the evangelist immediately produces quotations from two of the prophets, Malachi and Isaiah. See note on Matthew 11:10.

Verse 3

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

Prepare ye the way, &c. — See note on Matthew 3:3.

Verse 4

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

The wilderness. — The wildernesses of Palestine lay often contiguous to populous cities and districts, and were often indeed interspersed with them. This wilderness lay along the Jordan.

Baptism of repentance. — The meaning is, that the Baptist enforced repentance, and baptism as a sign and proof of it; and both had respect to the remission of sins, for which, however, his dispensation made no new provision, gave in fact no new promise, but the penitents were referred to him that was to come after John, him mightier than himself, who should baptize them with the Holy Ghost. See the notes on the whole of the third chapter of St. Matthew.

Verse 6

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

A girdle of a skin. — That is, a leathern girdle.

Verses 12-13

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

And immediately the Spirit driveth him, &c. — See notes on Matthew 4:1-11.

And was with the wild beasts. — This circumstance is not mentioned by Matthew. — It shows that the wilderness was not like that in which John came preaching, contiguous to towns and villages; but a distant and rude solitude, far from the abodes of men.

Verse 15

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

The time is fulfilled. — The time here mentioned is that spoken of by the prophets, or that which had been foreappointed in the Divine mind, whether considered as having been particularly revealed or not. Sufficient notes of time are found in the prophets, and especially in Daniel, to prove that the Messiah was to appear at the time when our Lord assumed that character; but it is more probable that in this place our Lord refers to the course of the successive dispensations, all of which had their appointed periods of time to fulfil, the patriarchal, the prophetic, and finally that of John the Baptist, at the close of which his own was to commence, never to give place to any other. Now John had fulfilled his great office, he was put in prison, and could no longer bear testimony to Christ, or act as his precursor; and the time was therefore accomplished for Christ to enter more fully and publicly upon his great office as eminently, and above all others, THE TEACHER SENT FROM GOD. This mighty ministry he commenced in Galilee, and filled that whole region with the news of salvation and the fame of his stupendous miracles. See notes on Matthew 4:12-25.

Verse 16

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

Simon and Andrew, &c. — See note on Matthew 4:18.

Verse 22

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

They were astonished at his doctrine, &c. — This was also the effect produced upon the multitude after hearing the sermon on the mount; and they also contrasted his teaching with that of the scribes, as possessing authority. It would appear from this that our Lord had delivered a lengthened discourse in the synagogue of Capernaum, in which he probably refuted the prevalent traditions of the scribes, placed the law of God in the light of its primitive purity, and enforced his own expositions with such direct reference to his AUTHORITY as to intimate that his was not merely HUMAN instruction, but that he was the great Lawgiver himself. See on this point the notes on Matthew 7:28-29.

Verse 23

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

A man with an unclean spirit. — The notable miracle was wrought by our Lord in the same synagogue in which he had so spoken as to astonish his hearers, and to impress them with the authority of his wisdom and dignity. It was designed to give force to the important doctrines which he had been teaching, and to show them that his authority was not an affectation, but real and inherent. He not only SPOKE miracles. but performed them. Several things are remarkable in the case here recorded.

1. The cry of terror set up by the demon, or rather demons, for one seems to have had others under him, in whose name as well as his own he speaks, using the plural: Let us alone; what have we to do with thee? Εα is an exclamation of indignation or grief, from the Hebrew הה , and may be here rendered Alas! art thou come to destroy us? Thus, as in other instances, these wretched spirits showed that they were in a hopeless condition, and had only “a fearful looking for of fiery indignation” before them. The advocates for the redemption of devils will scarcely be able to reconcile this fact to their theory. Not one of the evil spirits whom Christ met with during his ministry was inspired with any hope in him as a Saviour; but uniformly regarded him as their inexorable Judge, showed the utmost terror of his presence, and expected “a time” when he would fully execute judgment upon them.

2. The testimony, borne by this evil spirit to the character of Jesus: “I know thee, who thou art, the Holy One of God.” This title the devil learned from the Old Testament. “The most holy” is an appellation of Christ in Daniel 9:24, “to anoint the most Holy,” which the Jew Aben Ezra applies to the Messiah; and holiness in its highest sense as an essential attribute of Divinity is ascribed to him, by adoring seraphs, in that glorious vision in which “Esaias spoke of him and saw his glory.” Holiness is the eminent characteristic of Messiah as he is God; as through a spotless incarnation he was the grand sacrifice for sin; as his own pure nature was the model to which all that believe in him are to be renewed by the transforming power of his grace, and as he was manifested to destroy the works of the devil. Very naturally did this wretched demon fix upon this title and character of the Messiah; for it is the holiness of Christ which invests him with terrors to all the wicked, whether men or devils.

3. Our Lord silences the fiend, as not willing to receive a testimony from so impure a source, but he suffers him to show his tremendous power over the possessed. He tore him; yet, as St. Luke says, “He hurt him not,” we must understand that the effect of all those contortions into which he was thrown, was specially counteracted, so that no material injury was the result. This was permitted in order to render the miracle more illustrious and convincing; and then, at a word, our Lord ejected him.

4. The effect produced is expressed in a manner the most artless, yet so natural and moving, that one seems almost insensibly to feel present with the assembly in the synagogue, and to partake of their emotions: They were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, they solicited each other’s opinions in eager inquiries for a solution of so extraordinary a case, saying, What thing is this, what new doctrine, διδαχη , teaching, or mode of teaching, is this? for with authority, κατ’ εξουσιαν , with self-derived authority, commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. That they were astonished, not merely at the fact of the casting out of the demon, but at the peculiar manner, as marked with peculiar authoritativeness, is also clear from the parallel passage in St. Luke: “And they were all amazed, and spoke among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth,” &c. As in his preaching he referred not, like the scribes, to human authority, nor appeared as a mere interpreter of law; but spoke from an authority in himself; so here he cast not out demons, like the Jewish exorcists, by appealing to the name of another, by any distinct act of reference to superior power, but he spoke authoritatively as from himself, and the effect followed: He commandeth, and they obey him. This was the particular which excited the astonishment of the synagogue, and produced all those eager inquiries as to the reason and true solution of so strange a case; from which it indubitably follows that our Lord placed himself, in the MANNER of working his miracles, above all mere men, above the greatest prophets themselves, and that in the midst of his humility and lowliness as to any thing which did not respect his office. That he was God and man, is the only solution of which this particular is capable.

Verse 30

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

Simon’s wife’s mother. — See note on Matthew 8:14.

Verse 34

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

And cast out many devils. — These great miracles, wrought in the evening after the Sabbath had closed, are mentioned Matthew 8:16, &c., where see the notes. Here St. Mark adds, and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him; or, permitted them not to declare that they knew him, that is, to be not merely the Messiah, but a being of superior nature, even the Son, the Holy One of God. Several began to make this confession, and he then imposed silence upon them. And the true reason must have been, not that he objected to their declaring him to be the Messiah, — for John had pointed him out under that character, and our Lord from the first assumed it, — but that the very devils knew that he was a DIVINE PERSON, and the publication of this he chose to reserve in his own hands, to be revealed to his immediate disciples first, and then, through them, to the world. He even, at a subsequent period, forbade his apostles to tell all they believed respecting him, reserving that to a time when they should be fully qualified to state and defend so glorious a truth. See the note on Matthew 16:20.

Verse 38

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

The next town. — Τας εχομενας κωμοπολεις , adjoining towns. These were towns or villages with a synagogue. They held the middle rank between cities and villages, strictly so called.

Verse 40

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

And there came a leper to him. — See the notes on Matthew 8:2-4.

Verse 45

Watson - Exposition of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark

Insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city &c. — These are incidents which show the astonishing impression made by the early ministry of our Lord. When he entered the city to go to his house, he was obliged to do it privately; when he went out of the city in order to obtain any privacy, he was obliged to seek desert or unfrequented places; yet even there they came to him from every quarter, whenever they could discover his retreats.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Mark 1". "Watson's Exposition on Matthew, Mark, Luke & Romans". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwc/mark-1.html.
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