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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Mark 11

Verse 1

Unto Bethphage and Bethany (εις Βηθφαγη κα Βηθανιαν). Both together as in Luke 19:29, though Matthew 21:1 mentions only Bethphage. See discussion in Matthew for this and the Mount of Olives.

Verse 2

As ye enter (εισπορευομενο). So also Luke 19:30. Present middle participle.

Colt (πωλον). So Luke 19:30. Matthew 21:2 speaks of the ass (ονον) also.

Whereon no one ever yet sat (εφ' ον ουδεις ανθρωπων εκαθισεν). So Luke 19:30.

Verse 3

The Lord (ο Κυριος). So Matt. and Luke. See on Matthew 21:3 for discussion of this word applied to Jesus by himself.

He will send him back (αποστελλε). Present indicative in futuristic sense. Matthew 21:3 has the future αποστελε.

Verse 4

A colt tied at the door without in the open street (πωλον δεδεμενον προς θυραν εξω επ του αμφοδου). A carefully drawn picture. The colt was outside the house in the street, but fastened (bound, perfect passive participle) to the door. "The better class of houses were built about an open court, from which a passage way under the house led to the street outside. It was at this outside opening to the street that the colt was tied" (Gould). The word αμφοδος (from αμφω, both, and οδος, road) is difficult. It apparently means road around a thing, a crooked street as most of them were (cf. Straight Street in Acts 9:11). It occurs only here in the N.T. besides D in Acts 19:28. It is very common in the papyri for vicus or "quarter."

And they loose him (κα λυουσιν αυτον). Dramatic present tense. Perhaps Peter was one of those sent this time as he was later (Luke 22:8). If so, that explains Mark's vivid details here.

Verse 5

Certain of those that stood there (τινες των εκε εστηκοτων). Perfect active participle, genitive plural. Bystanders. Luke 19:33 terms them "the owners thereof" (ο κυριο αυτου). The lords or masters of the colt. They make a natural protest.

Verse 7

They bring the colt unto Jesus (φερουσιν τον πωλον προς τον Ιησουν). Vivid historical present. The owners acquiesced as Jesus had predicted. Evidently friends of Jesus.

Verse 8

Branches (στιβαδας). A litter of leaves and rushes from the fields. Textus Receptus spells this word στοιβαδας. Matthew 21:8 has κλαδους, from κλαω, to break, branches broken or cut from trees. John 12:13 uses the branches of the palm trees (τα βαια των φοινικων), "the feathery fronds forming the tufted crown of the tree" (Vincent). That is to say, some of the crowd did one of these things, some another. See on Matthew 21:4-9 for discussion of other details. The deliberate conduct of Jesus on this occasion could have but one meaning. It was the public proclamation of himself as the Messiah, now at last for his "hour" has come. The excited crowds in front (ο προαγοντες) and behind (ο ακολουθουντες) fully realize the significance of it all. Hence their unrestrained enthusiasm. They expect Jesus, of course, now to set up his rule in opposition to that of Caesar, to drive Rome out of Palestine, to conquer the world for the Jews.

Verse 11

When he had looked round about upon all things (περιβλεψαμενος παντα). Another Markan detail in this aorist middle participle. Mark does not give what Luke 19:39-55 has nor what Matthew 21:10-17 does. But it is all implied in this swift glance at the temple before he went out to Bethany with the Twelve,

it being now eventide (οψε ηδη ουσης της ωρας). Genitive absolute, the hour being already late. What a day it had been! What did the apostles think now?

Verse 12

On the morrow (τη επαυριον). Matthew 21:18 has "early" (πρω), often of the fourth watch before six A.M. This was Monday morning. The Triumphal Entry had taken place on our Sunday, the first day of the week.

Verse 13

If haply he might find anything thereon (ε αρα τ ευρησε εν αυτη). This use of ε and the future indicative for purpose (to see if, a sort of indirect question) as in Acts 8:22; Acts 17:27. Jesus was hungry as if he had had no food on the night before after the excitement and strain of the Triumphal Entry. The early figs in Palestine do not get ripe before May or June, the later crop in August. It was not the season of figs, Mark notes. But this precocious tree in a sheltered spot had put out leaves as a sign of fruit. It had promise without performance.

Verse 14

No man eat fruit from thee henceforward forever (Μηκετ εις τον αιωνα εκ σου μηδεις καρπον φαγο). The verb φαγο is in the second aorist active optative. It is a wish for the future that in its negative form constitutes a curse upon the tree. Matthew 21:19 has the aorist subjunctive with double negative ου μηκετ γενητα, a very strong negative prediction that amounts to a prohibition. See on Matthew. Jesus probably spoke in the Aramaic on this occasion.

And his disciples heard it (κα ηκουον ο μαθητα αυτου). Imperfect tense, "were listening to it," and evidently in amazement, for, after all, it was not the fault of the poor fig tree that it had put out leaves. One often sees peach blossoms nipped by the frost when they are too precocious in the changeable weather. But Jesus offered no explanation at this time.

Verse 15

Began to cast out (ηρξατο εκβαλλειν). Mark is fond of "began." See on Matthew 21:12 for discussion of this second cleansing of the temple in its bearing on that in John 2:14.

Money-changers (κολλυβιστων). This same late word in Matthew 21:12 which see for discussion. It occurs in papyri.

Verse 16

Through the temple (δια του ιερου). The temple authorities had prohibited using the outer court of the temple through the Precinct as a sort of short cut or by-path from the city to the Mount of Olives. But the rule was neglected and all sorts of irreverent conduct was going on that stirred the spirit of Jesus. This item is given only in Mark. Note the use of ινα after ηφιε (imperfect tense) instead of the infinitive (the usual construction).

Verse 17

For all the nations (πασιν τοις εθνεσιν). Mark alone has this phrase from Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11. The people as well as the temple authorities were guilty of graft, extortion, and desecration of the house of prayer. Jesus assumes and exercises Messianic authority and dares to smite this political and financial abuse. Some people deny the right of the preacher to denounce such abuses in business and politics even when they invade the realm of morals and religion. But Jesus did not hesitate.

Verse 18

Sought how they might destroy him (εζητουν πως αυτον απολεσωσιν). Imperfect indicative, a continuous attitude and endeavour. Note deliberative subjunctive with πως retained in indirect question. Here both Sadducees (chief priests) and Pharisees (scribes) combine in their resentment against the claims of Jesus and in the determination to kill him. Long ago the Pharisees and the Herodians had plotted for his death (Mark 3:6). Now in Jerusalem the climax has come right in the temple.

For they feared him (εφοβουντο γαρ). Imperfect middle indicative. Hence in wrath they planned his death and yet they had to be cautious. The Triumphal Entry had shown his power with the people. And now right in the temple itself "all the multitude was astonished at his teaching" (πας ο οχλος εξεπλησσετο επ τη διδαχη αυτου). Imperfect passive. The people looked on Jesus as a hero, as the Messiah. This verse aptly describes the crisis that has now come between Christ and the Sanhedrin.

Verse 19

Every evening (οταν οψε εγενετο). Literally,

whenever evening came on or more exactly

whenever it became late . The use of οταν (οτε αν) with the aorist indicative is like οπου αν with the imperfect indicative (εισεπορευετο) and οσο αν with the aorist indicative (ηψαντο) in Mark 6:56. The use of αν makes the clause more indefinite and general, as here, unless it renders it more definite, a curious result, but true. Luke 21:37 has the accusative of extent of time, "the days," "the nights." The imperfect tense he (or they) would go (εξεπορευετο, εξεπορευοντο) out of the city suggests "whenever" as the meaning here.

Verse 20

As they passed by in the morning (παραπορευομενο πρω). Literally, passing by in the morning. The next morning. They went back by the lower road up the Mount of Olives and came down each morning by the steep and more direct way. Hence they saw it. Matthew 21:20 does not separate the two mornings as Mark does.

From the roots (εκ ριζων). Mark alone gives this detail with εξηραμμενην perfect passive predicate participle from ξηραινω.

Verse 21

Peter calling to remembrance (αναμνησθεις ο Πετρος). First aorist participle, being reminded. Only in Mark and due to Peter's story. For his quick memory see also Mark 14:72.

Which thou cursedst (ην κατηρασω). First aorist middle indicative second person singular from καταραομα. It almost sounds as if Peter blamed Jesus for what he had done to the fig tree.

Verse 22

Have faith in God (εχετε πιστιν θεου). Objective genitive θεου as in Galatians 2:26; Romans 3:22; Romans 3:26. That was the lesson for the disciples from the curse on the fig tree so promptly fulfilled. See this point explained by Jesus in Matthew 21:21 which see for "this mountain" also.

Verse 23

Shall not doubt in his heart (μη διακριθη εν τη καρδια αυτου). First aorist passive subjunctive with ος αν. The verb means a divided judgment (δια from δυο, two, and κρινω, to judge). Wavering doubt. Not a single act of doubt (διακριθη), but continued faith (πιστευη).

Cometh to pass (γινετα). Futuristic present middle indicative.

Verse 24

Believe that ye have received them (πιστευετε οτ ελαβετε). That is the test of faith, the kind that sees the fulfilment before it happens. Ελαβετε is second aorist active indicative, antecedent in time to πιστευετε, unless it be considered the timeless aorist when it is simultaneous with it. For this aorist of immediate consequence see John 15:6.

Verse 25

Whensoever ye stand (οταν στηκετε). Late form of present indicative στηκω, from perfect stem εστηκα. In LXX. Note use of οταν as in Mark 11:19. Jesus does not mean by the use of "stand" here to teach that this is the only proper attitude in prayer.

That your Father also may forgive you (ινα κα ο πατηρ αφη υμιν). Evidently God's willingness to forgive is limited by our willingness to forgive others. This is a solemn thought for all who pray. Recall the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:12; Matthew 6:14.

Verse 26

This verse is omitted by Westcott and Hort. The Revised Version puts it in a footnote.

Verse 27

The chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders (ο αρχιερεις κα ο γραμματεις κα ο πρεσβυτερο). Note the article with each separate group as in Luke 20:1 and Matthew 21:23. These three classes were in the Sanhedrin. Clearly a large committee of the Sanhedrin including both Sadducees and Pharisees here confront Jesus in a formal attack upon his authority for cleansing the temple and teaching in it.

Verse 28

By what authority (εν ποια εξουσια). This question in all three Gospels was a perfectly legitimate one. See on Matthew 21:23-27 for discussion. Note present subjunctive here (ινα ταυτα ποιηις), that you keep on doing these things.

Verse 30

Answer me (αποκριθητε μο). This sharp demand for a reply is only in Mark. See also verse Mark 11:29. Jesus has a right to take this turn because of John's direct relation to himself. It was not a dodge, but a home thrust that cleared the air and defined their attitude both to John and Jesus. They rejected John as they now reject Jesus.

Verse 31

If we say (εαν ειπωμεν). Third-class condition with aorist active subjunctive. The alternatives are sharply presented in their secret conclave. They see the two horns of the dilemma clearly and poignantly. They know only too well what Jesus will say in reply. They wish to break Christ's power with the multitude, but a false step now will turn the laugh on them. They see it.

Verse 32

But should we say (αλλα ειπωμεν). Deliberative subjunctive with aorist active subjunctive again. It is possible to supply εαν from verse Mark 11:31 and treat it as a condition as there. So Matthew 21:26 and Luke 20:6. But in Mark the structure continues rugged after "from men" with anacoluthon or even aposiopesis--"they feared the people" Mark adds. Matthew has it: "We fear the multitude." Luke puts it: "all the people will stone us." All three Gospels state the popular view of John as a prophet. Mark's "verily" is οντως really, actually. They feared John though dead as much as Herod Antipas did. His martyrdom had deepened his power over the people and disrespect towards his memory now might raise a storm (Swete).

Verse 33

We know not (ουκ οιδαμεν). It was for the purpose of getting out of the trap into which they had fallen by challenging the authority of Jesus. Their self-imposed ignorance, refusal to take a stand about the Baptist who was the Forerunner of Christ, absolved Jesus from a categorical reply. But he has no notion of letting them off at this point.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Mark 11". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/mark-11.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.