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Mark 6

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New TestamentSchaff's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

Mark 6:1. Went out from thence. From Capernaum.

His own country, i.e., Nazareth.

His disciples follow him. Mentioned by Matthew also; this opposes the identity with the visit mentioned by Luke.

Verses 1-6

CHRONOLOGY. This visit to Nazareth is the same as that mentioned by Matthew (Matthew 13:54-58), but different from that recorded by Luke (Luke 4:14-29). See notes on the former passage. Some other miracles intervened between the raising of Jairus’ daughter and this rejection (Matthew 9:27-34).

Verse 2

Mark 6:2. The sabbath-day. Mark, here as so often, is more specific than Matthew.

Many, according to many ancient authorities, ‘the many,’ the multitude of this city.

What is the wisdom given unto this man? This acknowledgement of His wisdom conveys a sneer. More graphic than Matthew’s statement.

And such mighty works (or, ‘powers’) wrought by his hands. We may supply either ‘whence are,’ or ‘what are.’ The latter seems to give the sense of the correct reading. It is plain, from Mark 6:5, that they referred to miracles in other places.

Verse 3

Mark 6:3. The carpenter. Matthew: ‘the carpenter’s son.’ Our Lord had probably wrought at the trade of Joseph; though the Nazarenes would in any case naturally identify Him with the occupation of His reported father. All Jewish young men learned a trade. The legends and fancies about the infancy of Christ are very foolish; but the Son of man would doubtless share in the primal curse (Genesis 3:19). On the brethren of our Lord, see Matthew, pp. 127 , 128 .

Verse 4

Mark 6:4. Among his own kindred. Peculiar to Mark.

Verse 5

Mark 6:5. And he could there do no mighty work. His power was not changed. His miracles were not feats of magic, but required two conditions to call them forth: an opportunity and a sufficient moral purpose. ‘Unbelief ‘prevented both. The unbelieving would not come for healing; to heal such would be contrary to His purpose in the miracles, the demonstration of His spiritual power. Hence, He ‘could not’ When men do not believe, they do not give Him the opportunity to save them, and to save the unbelieving is contrary to His purpose, and impossible. The few miracles of healing in Nazareth were of the most usual character; but these too were doubtless according to the faith of the subjects.

Verse 6

Mark 6:6. He marvelled because of their unbelief. To be taken literally. On another occasion our Lord ‘marvelled’ (Matthew 8:10; Luke 7:9) at the great faith of a heathen centurion. Both instances indicate the great importance of faith.

Went round about. The unbelief of Nazareth did not stop our Lord’s activity. This circuit was closely connected with the sending forth of the Twelve (Mark 6:7); hence it seems to be identical with that mentioned in Matthew 9:35, if we refer the latter to a distinct journey. It would be the third circuit through Galilee, which began with this rejection at Nazareth and continued until the return of the Apostles, when they all withdrew (Mark 6:30).

Verse 7

Mark 6:7. By two and two. These pairs seem to be indicated in the list given by Matthew, although he does not mention that they were thus sent out. A proof both of truthfulness and of independence.

Power over the unclean spirits. Peculiar to Mark, and characteristic of his narrative.

Verses 7-29

MATTHEW prefaces his fuller account by telling of our Lord’s compassion for the multitudes (Matthew 9:36-38). Luke gives a very brief statement (Luke 9:1-6). The choice of the Twelve took place some time before (chap. Mark 3:13-19), within the same year. Mark gives only a portion of the first part of the discourse recorded in Matthew.

CONTENTS: their outfit or want of outfit (Mark 6:8-9); the manner of proceeding (Mark 6:10-11); Mark 6:12-13 describe their activity.

Verse 8

Mark 6:8. Save a staff only, i.e., if, as was usual, each had a staff for walking, let him take it, but not provide one especially. This explanation, which is strictly grammatical, removes the apparent difference between the command as recorded here and by Matthew and Luke. Our Lord did not prescribe minutely what each should wear and carry, as monkish rules do. The point is: make no special preparation, take no special care: ‘for the workman is worthy of his food’ (Matthew), a thought involved in the words: no bread, which Matthew omits.

No wallet. A leathern pouch. The correct order is as here indicated.

No money in their purse, lit., ‘not brass into the girdle.’

Verse 9

Mark 6:9. With sandals , i.e., such as they had on at the time, without waiting for shoes especially adapted for the journey (Matthew: ‘nor shoes’). The construction changes into a direct command in the last clause, as if the memory of one present had supplied it.

Verses 10-11

Mark 6:10-11. See notes on Matthew 10:11-15. Mark, however, adds: for a testimony unto them (comp. Matthew 10:18). Luke says, ‘against them.’ This solemn act, which meant a cessation of intercourse, was a testimony to them, and against them also, a token that the truth was still the truth, and their rejection would be a ground of judgment.

Verse 12

Mark 6:12. That men should repent. Not simply, preached repentance, but preached in order that men might be lead to repentance; the latter including the former.

Verse 13

Mark 6:13. Anointed with oil many sick. Peculiar to Mark. To suppose that the oil was used medicinally is contrary to the whole tenor of the narratives. It was ‘the vehicle of healing power committed to them’ (Alford), an external sign such as our Lord sometimes used to connect Himself and the person cured. It was probably also a symbol of anointing by the Holy Spirit. A practice of this kind continued in the Apostolic Church (see James 5:14); but neither the fact nor the symbolical meaning justify the Roman sacrament of extreme unction (observed also in the Greek Church, with the difference that it may be repeated, while the Roman Church administers it only once, at the approach of death).

Verse 14

Mark 6:14. King Herod. Herod Antipas, the ‘Tetrarch’ (Matt. Luke).

Heard. The activity of the Apostles, preaching and performing miracles as the messengers of Jesus, now specially attracted his attention.

For his name had became known. The necessary result of the labor of the Apostles.

Verses 14-29

SEE on Matthew 14:1-13; comp. Luke 9:7-9. Mark’s account is detailed, going back to the imprisonment of John, which occurred before our Lord began His Galilean ministry.

Verses 14-44

THE entire independence of Mark’s Gospel is fully apparent in this section, which tells of one of the few events recorded by all four Evangelists. In the emendations we have sought to reproduce the vivacity of the original.

Verse 15

Mark 6:15. Others said, were in the habit of saying. The current popular opinions are here given (comp. chap. Mark 8:28; Matthew 16:14; Luke 9:19), and not what was said to Herod.

A prophet as one of the prophets. The meaning is: A prophet like the old prophets, not Elijah nor the Prophet.

Verse 16

Mark 6:16. Heard. Probably of these opinions as well as of the acts which occasioned them.

Whom I beheaded. The emphasis rests on ‘I,’ and the correct reading is more graphic than the common one. His guilty conscience suggested the thought, which was uttered to his servants (Matthew 14:2). Others held the same view (Luke 9:7).

Verses 17-19

Mark 6:17-19. See on Matthew 14:3-4.

Verse 20

Mark 6:20. For Herod feared John. Herod’s feelings toward John are detailed by Mark only. The impression made upon Herod grew stronger after the imprisonment, so that Herodias ‘could not’ kill John. Matthew says that Herod ‘feared the multitude.’ Both motives necessarily entered. Without the political motive the moral one would not have sustained Herod against the will of the woman he had adulterously married.

Holy. A recognition of John’s dignity as a prophet, one consecrated to God’s service.

Kept him safe, or ‘preserved him,’ i.e., from Herodias.

Was much perplexed. This idea, which is restored by the correct reading, shows most strikingly the peculiar and divided state of Herod’s mind.

Heard him gladly. Some real influence for good was beginning to operate. The description is not unnatural.

Verse 21

Mark 6:21. A convenient day, i.e., for the purpose which Herodias cherished, not for Herod’s feast, which took place at the fixed time.

When Herod on his birthday. Herodias planned the schemes beforehand.

Lords, etc. Political servants and military officials, then leading men of the land. ‘His’ belongs to the first class only. Strictly speaking, Herod had no chief captains (chiliarchs) of his own.

Verse 22

Mark 6:22. See on Matthew 14:6-7.

The daughter of Herodias herself. Not a common dancing girl, but her own daughter was put to this degrading task, for the accomplishment of her malignant purpose. Some of the best authorities, however, read: ‘his daughter Herodias.’ She was now, in law, his daughter, and thus a member of his own family is made to arouse feelings, which, while sinful in themselves, led him into a crime he did not wish to commit. It should be noted that the opening clause of this verse is joined closely to the first clause of Mark 6:21, the day having come, the damsel having come in; what intervenes describes the convenient day. The main thought is: she pleased Herod. The fact that the whole company was pleased is mentioned by Mark only, who also gives the words of Herod.

Verse 23

Mark 6:23. Unto the half of my kingdom. The full form of the oath is here preserved. Ahasuerus (Esther 7:2) made a similar oath to his queen; this was to a girl whose graceful immodesty had pleased the king.

Verse 24

Mark 6:24. She went forth. The studied vindictiveness of Herodias is here brought out.

Verse 25

Mark 6:25. With haste. She shows no reluctance, but is a genuine daughter of the Herodian family. Her request is put most strongly: I will, i.e., this is my choice.

Forthwith, after as short an interval as possible.

Verse 26

Mark 6:26. Exceeding sorry. Mark’s language is stronger than that of Matthew.

Verse 27

Mark 6:27. A soldier of his guard. The word is a peculiar one, derived from the Latin. The members of the body-guard would be entrusted with the execution of capital sentences, but that was not their special office. In the prison. See on Matthew 14:10.

Verse 29

Mark 6:29. His disciples, i.e., those of John. They ‘came and told Jesus’ (Matthew 14:12).

Verse 30

Mark 6:30. And they told him all things. This report was probably given at a time previously appointed for their reassembling.

Verse 31

Mark 6:31. Coma ye yourselves ( i.e., you alone) and rest awhile. The motive was that they should rest. Another reason for this departure was Herod’s state of mind.

Verse 32

Mark 6:32. A desert place. Near Bethsaida (Luke), on the eastern side of the lake (John).

Apart. The same word as in Mark 6:33. ‘Privately ‘points to concealment, which was scarcely designed. The departure was not in secret (Mark 6:33).

Verse 33

Mark 6:33. A striking picture of the continued popularity of our Lord. We give the translation of the better supported, approved reading.

Verse 34

Mark 6:34. And he came forth. Either disembarked from the boat, or, more probably, came out from His retirement. Upon landing they went up some hill or cliff and from that point saw the great crowd. (John 6:3; John 6:5). It is not certain that the needed rest was obtained.

Had compassion, etc. Comp. Matthew 9:36, which tells of the same feelings on an earlier, but similar occasion.

He began to teach them many things. This shows what He deemed their greatest need to be, although at the same time ‘He healed their sick’ (Matthew); comp. Luke 9:11. ‘Began ‘may mean, either that He began at once, or that He only began, the day being already far spent. The former is more probable.

Verses 35-37

Mark 6:35-37. See on Matthew 14:15-16, and especially John 6:5-7. From the latter account we learn that our Lord put a question to Philip, who had probably been the spokesman, to try him, and that he answered in language more generally stated here.

Two hundred pennyworth. This sum is mentioned mainly because it was an estimate of how much it would cost to give to each one a little (John 6:7). Some have supposed that this was the amount of money they had in their common treasury, but it seems rather to be mentioned as a sum beyond their ability to pay. It was = $ 30 , or £ 6 , 5 , a large amount of money then, since a denarius, or ‘penny,’ was the hire of a day’s labor.

Verse 38

Mark 6:38. Go and see, lit., ‘go, see.’ Peculiar to Mark.

When they knew. By finding a lad with these provisions; see John 6:8-9. The answer was given by Andrew.

Verse 39

Mark 6:39. Upon the green grass. ‘Green ‘is inserted by Mark alone, in his usual graphic way.

Verse 40

Mark 6:40. In ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties, This is the fullest account of the way they were placed, though all four Evangelists intimate that the crowd was arranged in an orderly manner. Some have thought there were 50 seats in breadth and 100 in length, thus making 5 , 000 (Mark 6:44). Gerlach: ‘Two longer rows of 100 , a shorter one of 50 persons. The fourth side remained, after the manner of the ancient’s tables, empty and open.’

Verse 41

Mark 6:41. Mark here agrees most closely with Matthew and Luke, while John is less full. The emendations correspond with those in Matthew 14:19.

And the two fishes divided he among them all. In the case of the fish there is no mention made of a distribution through the disciples. The greater detail in regard to the bread was probably due to its higher symbolical meaning. Moreover all did not partake of the fishes; comp. John 6:11. Mark’s mention of the division of the fishes is another evidence of the exactness so characteristic of this Gospel.

Verse 43

Mark 6:43. Among the many peculiarities of the various accounts of this miracle and the similar one (Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9), none are more remarkable than the variety of expressions used to tell of what was gathered by the disciples. Among the six accounts no two are precisely alike. It is impossible to reproduce the dissimilarity.

And of the fishes. This also is peculiar to Mark, the conclusion of the previous statement (Mark 6:41). What remained of the fishes was probably included in the contents of the twelve baskets, although John seems to limit these to the fragments of the loaves.

Verse 44

Mark 6:44. Five thousand men. Mark, usually so exact, does not speak of the ‘women and children’ (Matthew). An evidence of independence.

Verses 45-56

SEE notes on Matthew 14:22-36. John 6:15-25. Mark omits the attempt of Peter to walk on the water; otherwise his account closely resembles that of Matthew, but with the usual variations.

Mark 6:45-47. The only detail peculiar to these verses is the mention of Bethsaida. In the only other case where Mark uses this name (Mark 8:22), it undoubtedly refers to Bethsaida Julias on the eastern shore of the lake. It is most likely that the same place is meant here. Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter, is supposed to have been on the western shore, and Mark 6:45 seems to point to a place across the lake. But the disciples were driven westward, across the lake, against their will, and this can be best explained by supposing that while the ultimate destination was ‘the other side,’ they were to go first to Bethsaida on the same side and there take up our Lord, after He had sent away the people. On the reason for sending them away, see John 6:15.

Verse 48

Mark 6:48. Distressed in rowing. Lit., ‘tormented.’ In consequence of the contrary wind. John says they rowed about twenty-five or thirty furlongs; yet they must have been thus engaged for some time, since it was not until about the fourth watch of the night (three to six in the morning) that our Lord appeared.

Would have passed by them. Mentioned by Mark only: This was to try them. It seems best to suppose, not that both were going in the same direction, but that their courses crossed, and that, seeing Him go on His path over the sea, they were affected as Mark 6:49 describes. This too will best account for Peter’s loss of courage in the boisterous (contrary) wind. See on Matthew 14:30. Lange thinks that this passing on was, as it were, to show them the way, to show that they need no longer toil to meet Him at eastern Bethsaida, but might pass directly over.

Verse 50

Mark 6:50. For they all saw him and were troubled. A proof that this story was not due to the over-heated imagination of a few of them. At this point Peter’s attempt to walk on the water occurred.

Verse 51

Mark 6:51. Were sore amazed in themselves. Too much so, as the next verse indicates. Hence ‘beyond measure ‘has been inserted.

Verse 52

Mark 6:52. For they understood not concerning the loaves, lit, ‘ on the loaves.’ ‘There was no intelligent comprehension founded on the miracle of the loaves. They did not from the miracle they had seen, infer the power of the Lord over nature’ (Alford).

But their heart was hardened. ‘Had been hardened ‘is equally near the meaning. Not in the sense in which we now use these terms, but meaning rather slowness of intellect. Yet there is a tone of censure in the verse. This state of mind was in keeping with their character as portrayed throughout the Gospels, and true to human nature.

Verse 53

Mark 6:53. Passed over to the land. The correct reading strengthens the view that there was no miraculous sailing, since it distinguishes the passing over to the land, and the coming to Gennesaret. The natural course of things is further apparent from the last phrase: moored there, i.e., came to anchor, or, made fast, possibly ran the boat on shore, although there is nothing in the original answering to the phrase: ‘to the shore,’ of the common version.

Verses 53-56

Mark 6:53-56. Mark’s account is here the fullest, as to the details of the healing work in Gennesaret. John introduces other incidents and an important discourse uttered to those who sought our Lord.

Verse 54

Mark 6:54. They knew, or, got knowledge of, him. It was soon known that the great Healer was there. He was recognized as such, since the region was probably near Capernaum. See on Matthew 14:35, and comp. John 6:24-25; John 6:59.

Verse 55

Mark 6:55. To carry about in beds. Some were taken to one place, others to another, as they heard where our Lord was; some may have been carried from place to place after Him, but it is not meant that this was generally necessary.

Verse 56

Mark 6:56. Wheresoever he entered. This implies that a journey of some kind followed.

Country, lit,’ fields.’

Market-places, here with a wide sense. This description may refer to a period of some length, and indicates the great number of miracles performed by our Lord. The Passover was at hand (John 6:4).

Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Mark 6". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.