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Bible Commentaries
Mark 3

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 Christ healeth the withered hand,

10 and many other infirmities:

11 rebuketh the unclean spirits:

13 chooseth his twelve apostles:

22 convinceth the blasphemy of casting out devils by Beelzebub:

31 and showeth who are his brother, sister, and mother.

Verses 1-6

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

A man with a withered hand. — See the notes on Matthew 12:10-14. Into this interesting narrative St. Mark has introduced the additional circumstance, that he looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts. The ANGER was clearly a holy indignation at the hypocrisy which could plume itself upon a strict observance of the Sabbath, and yet suffer human beings to remain in misery, or to die, to be killed for want of help. But it was an emotion softened by GRIEF, a painful sympathy at the hardness of their hearts; not merely their want of compassion, although their superstition had blinded the natural feelings of pity toward these distressed creatures; but at their perversity of mind, their blindness of heart, as it is in the Vulgate, that stubborn determination to cling to their errors which rendered his instructions only the means of heightening their guilt. That the anger was the anger of holiness and love, is proved from the grief inflicted upon his spirit by their dangerous, and now almost hopeless, spiritual condition.

Verse 6

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

The Herodians. — See the note on Matthew 22:16.

Verse 12

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

And he straitly charged. — They declared him to be “the Son of God,” and he strictly inhibited them from making him known, that is, under that character; but not merely as the Messiah, which our Lord publicly professed to be. So that here we have another proof that the phrase, Son of God implied, in the commonly received language of the Jews, something higher than simply the office of Messiah. This must be allowed, or an absurd tautology will take place in some passages. Thus, in the very first verse of this gospel, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Here, if the Son of God conveyed the same idea as the Messiah or Christ, it would be as though St. Mark had written, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Christ.” And also in Luke 4:41, “And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ, the Son of God,” it would be only saying, “Thou art Christ the Christ,” unless the Son of God implied a distinct and higher conception, one in fact which related not to his office only, but to his nature. On this point see the notes on Mark 1:34, and on Matthew 16:20.

Verse 13

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

Whom he would. — The appointment to the apostolic office was an act of SOVEREIGN CHOICE for which Christ gave no reason. He made no apologies to those of his disciples who were not so called, and he allowed no one who had the call to refer it to any merit in himself. “He gave no account of his matters” in this respect; and thereby showed that he was the Lord of his Church, and that he has a prerogative which he suffers not to be invaded. It is often by confounding this election to offices in the Church, which is in its nature unconditional, with personal election unto salvation, which is conditional upon repentance, faith, and perseverance, that men have fallen into great errors in the interpretation of Scripture. On the calling of the apostles see the notes on Matthew 10:1, &c.

Verse 14

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

He ordained twelve. — Εποιησε , he constituted or appointed twelve.

Verse 17

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

Boanerges, which is, the sons of thunder. — However verbal critics may differ as to the derivation of the latter part of this compound word, the interpretation of Mark fixes its sense. The sons of Zebedee were surnamed υιοι βροντης , the sons of thunder. This could not refer, as some have dreamed, to their hasty, impetuous disposition, of which, however, but one instance is given, and that one rather of mistaken zeal than natural ardour; and it is not at all probable that our Lord would perpetuate the remembrance of an infirmity which his Divine grace was to cure, even did it exist, by affixing it upon them with their new name. Nor was the name descriptive of the manner of their preaching. That of John appears from his writings to have been as sweet and attractive as his disposition, and the reverse of either loud stentorian declamation, or the hurling of the flaming thunderbolts of the Divine threatenings. From what little appears of James’ character, he filled his high office, chiefly at Jerusalem, with “meekness of wisdom,” and stands forth as a calm, rather than an impetuous man. The reason of the appellation is probably drawn from the truth of which they were to be such eminent ministers, rather than their own mode of preaching. The thunder is the Gospel itself, the public voice of God in the world, moving and shaking the minds of men wherever proclaimed; and when James and John are called sons of thunder, the meaning is, that they should rank among the greatest instruments of sounding forth the voice of God, the authoritative declaration of his will contained in the Gospel.

Verse 21

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

And when his friends heard of it. — Our Lord, having called his apostles, returned home; and again the multitudes so press upon him for instruction that he and the disciples could not eat bread: so that it is evident that Christ denied himself of his regular meals to continue his discourses to a people so eager to hear him. It was this which led his friends, his kinsmen or natural relations, to go forth to lay hold upon him, that is, to constrain him to spare himself from such excessive labours, and to retire for repose: for they said, He is beside himself. Some of the relations of Christ did not believe on him; and if these were of that infidel number, notwithstanding the natural kindness they felt toward him, they might use this expression in its opprobrious, though not in an exactly literal sense, and might in truth regard him as a dreaming enthusiast, and not of sober judgment; and his excessive zeal on this occasion would seem to confirm the injurious opinion of men of worldly minds, disqualified from judging rightly on a spiritual case and character. If this be the correct view, there is in it nothing injurious to the character of our Lord’s sobriety, as those critics seem to have thought who have struggled so hard to torture the passage to several other senses, in order to avoid the apparent difficulty. But if these relations of Christ, through the same prejudices and worldliness of heart as other Jews, did not believe on him, as we are expressly told some of his brethren did not, they could not comprehend his character and motives, and by consequence could not rightly estimate his conduct. To them Christ would appear beside himself, in the same sense as St. Paul appeared “beside himself, and mad” to Festus, that is, under the influence of an irrational religious excitement; but all this was nevertheless “truth and soberness,” and only proves that “the spiritual man is judged of no man” not spiritual. These friends of Christ might not, however, be his unbelieving brethren, but others better affected toward him; and then the words may be taken to mean, he is carried out of himself by his zeal; on which account they interfered kindly to care for one who was so absorbed in his work as not to spare himself.

Verse 22

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

He hath Beelzebub. — See the notes on Matthew 12:24-32.

Verse 31

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

His brethren and his mother, &c. — See the notes on Matthew 12:46-50.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Mark 3". "Watson's Exposition on Matthew, Mark, Luke & Romans". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwc/mark-3.html.
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