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Bible Commentaries

The Fourfold Gospel

Mark 12

Verses 1-12

(In the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A. D. 30.)
Subdivision C.
aMATT. XXI. 33-46; bMARK XII. 1-12; cLUKE XX. 9-19.

b1 And he began to speak unto them cthe people [not the rulers] bin parables. {cthis parable:} a33 Hear another parable: There was a man that was a householder [this party represents God], who planted a vineyard [this represents the Hebrew nationality], and set a hedge about it, and digged a bpit for the awinepress in it [The winepress consisted of two tub-shaped cavities dug in the rock at different levels, the upper being connected with the lower by an orifice cut through from its bottom. Grapes were placed in the upper cavity, or trough, and were trodden by foot. The juice thus squeezed from them ran through the orifice to the trough below, from which it was taken and stored in leather bottles until it fermented and formed wine], and built a tower [a place where watchmen could be stationed to protect the vineyard from thieves as the grapes ripened for the vintage], and let it out to husbandmen [the rulers are here [590] represented; and the rental was, as usual, a part of the fruits], and went into another country. cfor a long time. [Jesus frequently refers to this withdrawal of the visible presence of God from the world, always bringing out the point that the withdrawal tests faithfulness. God had come down upon Mt. Sinai, given the law and established the Hebrew nation, after which he had withdrawn. That had indeed been a long time ago; and for four hundred years before the appearance of John the Baptist, God had not even sent a messenger to demand fruit. Some think the hedge refers to the manner in which Palestine was protected by sea and desert and mountain, but the hedge and the winepress and the tower are mere parabolic drapery, for every man who planted a vineyard did all three.] a34 And when {cat} the season aof the fruits drew near, che sent unto the husbandmen a servant, {ahis servants} i. e., the prophets] cthat they should give him {bthat he might receive ato receive from the husbandmen} of the {ahis} bfruits of the vineyard. [ Luke 3:8--He expected the children of Israel to bring forth joy, love, peace, and all the other goodly fruit of a godly life. And he looked to those in authority to bring forth such results, and the prophets were sent to the rulers to encourage them to do this.] 3 And {cbut} the husbandmen btook him, and beat him, and sent him away empty, 4 And again he sent unto them cyet another servant: him also they beat, bwounded in his head, and handled shamefully. cand sent him away empty. b5 And he sent cyet banother; ca third: and him also they wounded, band him they killed: cand cast him forth. band many others; beating some, and killing some. a35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them in like manner. [For the treatment of the prophets, see such passages as 1 Kings 18:13, 1 Kings 22:24-27, 2 Kings 6:31, 2 Chronicles 24:19-22, 2 Chronicles 36:15, 2 Chronicles 36:16. For a summary of the treatment of the prophets or messengers of God, [591] see Hebrews 11:35-38.] 37 But b6 He had yet one, a beloved son: aafterward bhe sent him last unto them, c13 And the lord of the vineyard said, {bsaying,} cWhat shall I do? [ Isaiah 5:4.] I will send my beloved son; it may be they will reverence him. bThey will reverence my son. [The lord of the vineyard was thoroughly perplexed. The conduct of his husbandmen was outrageous beyond all expectation. He had no better servants to send them unless his only son should take upon him the form of a servant and visit them ( Philippians 2:5-8). Being tender and forgiving, and unwilling to resort to extreme measures, the lord of the vineyard resolved to thus send his son, feeling sure that the son would represent the person, authority and rights of the father so much better than any other messenger ( Hebrews 1:1-5, Hebrews 2:1-3), that it would be well-nigh impossible for the husbandmen to fail of reverence towards him. In striking contrast, however, with this expectation of the Father, the rulers, or the husbandmen, had just now harshly demanded of the Son that he tell by what authority he did anything in the vineyard.] a38 But the {bthose} ahusbandmen, when they saw {chim} athe son, cthey reasoned one with another, asaid among themselves, {csaying,} aThis is the heir; come, let us kill him, and take his inheritance. cthat the inheritance may be ours. band the inheritance shall be ours. [In thus bringing the story down to the immediate present, and stating a counsel which his enemies had just spoken privately in each other’s ears, Jesus must have startled them greatly. He showed them, too, that those things which made them deem it necessary to kill him were the very things which proved his heirship. They regarded the Jewish nation as their property, and they were plotting to kill Jesus that they might withhold it from him ( John 12:19, John 11:47-50). That men might hope by such high-handed lawlessness to obtain a title to a vineyard seems incredible to us who have always been familiar with the even-balanced justice of constitutional government; but in the East the looseness of governments, the selfish apathy and lack [592] of public spirit among the people, and the corrupt bribe-receiving habits of the judges makes our Lord’s picture even to this day, though rather exceptional, still true to life. At this point Jesus turns from history to prophecy.] 8 And they took him, c15 And they cast him forth out of the vineyard, and killed him. [After two intervening days the Jews would fulfill this detail by thrusting Jesus outside the walls of Jerusalem and crucifying him there.] a40 When therefore the lord of the vineyard shall come, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those miserable men, and will let out the vineyard unto other husbandmen, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons. c16 [Jesus said] He will come and destroy these {bthe} husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. cAnd when they heard it, they said, God forbid. [Part of the multitude, hearing only the story, pronounced unhesitatingly the judgment which ought to be inflicted upon such evil-doers, and Jesus confirmed their judgment. But others, perceiving the meaning underlying the parable, shrank from accepting what would otherwise have been to them a very proper ending, and said, Mee genoito, which means literally, Be it not so, and which might properly be paraphrased by our emphatic "Never!" but which the revisers in translating have, with small warrant, seen fit to paraphrase by using the semi-profane expression, "God forbid." There are fourteen such mistranslations in the epistles of Paul according to the King James version and only one of them ( Galatians 6:14) is corrected in the Revised version. In defense of these translations it is asserted that the phrase is an idiomatic invocation of the Deity, but the case can not be made out, since the Deity is not addressed.] 17 But he looked upon them [Thus emphasizing the fact that they had repudiated a most just decree. His look, doubtless, resembled that of a parent surprised at the outspoken rebellion of his children], and a42 Jesus saith {csaid,} aunto them, cWhat then is this that is written, b10 Have ye not read even this scripture: aDid ye never [593] read in the scriptures, cThe stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner? aThis was from the Lord, And it is marvellous in our eyes? [The quotation is from Psalms 118:22, Psalms 118:23, which is here by Jesus applied as a prophecy to the Pharisees, who, in their treatment of him, were like unskilled builders who reject the very corner-stone of the building which they seek to erect. The Pharisees were eager enough in their desire to set up a Messianic kingdom, but were so blindly foolish that they did not see that this kingdom could not be set up unless it rested upon Christ Jesus, its corner-stone. They blundered in constructing their theory of the coming kingdom, and could find no room for one such as Jesus in it.] 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And he {c18 Every one} athat falleth on this {cthat} astone shall be broken to pieces: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will scatter him as dust. [The stone, of course, represents Jesus, and the two fallings set forth his passive and active state. In the day when he passively submitted to be judged, those who condemned him were broken ( Matthew 27:3-5, Luke 23:48, Acts 2:37); but in the great day when he himself becomes the acting party and calls his enemies to judgment, they shall prefer, and pray, that a mountain fall upon them-- Revelation 6:15-17.] 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees, c19 And the scribes aheard his parables, they csought to lay hands on him in that very hour, bfor they perceived that he aspake of them. bspake the {cthis} parable against them. a46 And when they sought to lay hands on him, cthey feared the people: {bmultitude; amultitudes,} because they took him for a prophet. band they left him, and went away. [Despite the warning which Jesus gave them that they were killing the Son and would reap the consequences, and despite the fact that he showed that the Psalm which the people had used so recently with regard to him foretold a great rejection which would prove to be a [594] mistake, yet the rulers persisted in their evil intention to take his life, and were only restrained by fear of the people, many of whom were Galilæans, men of rugged courage, ready to draw swords on Jesus’ behalf. Since they could neither arrest nor answer him, they withdrew as a committee, but returned again in the person of their spies.]

[FFG 590-595]

Verses 13-17

(Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A. D. 30.)
Subdivision A.
aMATT. XXII. 15-22; bMARK XII. 13-17; cLUKE XX. 20-26.

a15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might ensnare him in his talk. c20 And they watched him, and sent forth {bsend unto him} atheir disciples, bcertain of the Pharisees and of {awith} bthe Herodians, that they might catch him in talk. [Perceiving that Jesus, when on his guard, was too wise for them, the Pharisees thought it best to speak their cunning through the mouths of their young disciples, whose youth and apparent desire to know the truth would, according to their calculation, take Jesus off his guard. Having no ancient statement giving us the tenets or principles of the Herodians, we are left to judge them solely by their name, which shows that they were partisans of Herod Antipas. Whether they were out-and-out supporters of the Roman government, or whether they clung to Herod as one whose intervening sovereignty saved them from the worse fate of being directly under a Roman procurator (as Judæa and Samaria then were), would not, as some suppose, affect their views as to the payment of tribute. If they accepted Herod merely for policy’s sake, policy would also compel them to favor the tribute, for Antipas, being appointed [597] by Rome, would have to favor the tribute, and could count none as his adherents who opposed it.] cspies, who feigned themselves to righteous [sincere seekers after truth], that they might take hold of his speech, so as to deliver him up to the rule and to the authority of the governor. [Pontius Pilate was the governor. We are not surprised at the destruction of Jerusalem when we see the religious teachers of the nation employing their young disciples in such a work as this. To play detective and entrap a rogue in his speech and thus become a man-hunter is debasing enough; but to seek thus to entrap a righteous man is simply diabolical.] b14 And when they were come, they say unto him, {csaying,} Teacher, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, bwe know that thou art true, and carest not for any one; for thou regardest not the person of men, cand acceptest not the person of any, but of a truth teachest the way of God: ain truth [The meaning of their preface is this: "We see that neither fear nor respect for the Pharisees or the rulers prevents you from speaking the plain, disagreeable truth; and we are persuaded that your courage and love of truth will lead you to speak the same way in political matters, and that you will not be deterred therefrom by any fear or reverence for Cæsar." Fearless loyalty to truth is indeed one of the noblest attributes of man. But instead of honoring this most admirable quality in Jesus, these hardened reprobates were endeavoring to employ it as an instrument for his destruction], 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? c22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not? b15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? [The Jews were required to pay annually a large sum of money to the Roman government as an acknowledgment of their subjection. About twenty years before this Judas of Galilee had stirred up the people to resist this tribute, and the mass of the Jews was bitterly opposed to it. To decide in favor of this tribute was therefore to alienate the affection and confidence of the throng in the temple who stood listening to him--an end most desirable to the Pharisees. If, [598] on the other hand, Jesus said that the tribute should not be paid, the Herodians were present to hear it, and would be witnesses sanctioned by Herod, and therefore such as Pilate would be compelled to respect. What but divine wisdom could escape from so cunningly devised a dilemma!] a18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, ccraftiness, bknowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, {aand said} Why make ye trial of me, ye hypocrites? [Thus, before answering, Jesus exposes the meanness and hypocrisy in their question, thereby emphasizing the important fact that he did not dodge, but answered it.] 19 Show me the tribute money. c24 Show me a denarius. bbring me a denarius, that I may see it. [Religious dues and tributes had been paid in shekels or old Jewish coin, but the tribute to Rome was paid in Roman coin of which the denarius was a sample.] aAnd they brought unto him a denarius. [See Romans 13:1, Romans 13:7.] c26 And they were not able to take hold of the saying before the people: a22 And when they heard it, they marvelled, bgreatly at him. cat his answer, and held their peace. aand left him, and went away. [They were amazed to find how far his wisdom transcended that of the teachers in whom they had such supreme confidence.]

[FFG 597-600]

Verses 18-27

(Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A. D. 30.)
Subdivision B.
aMATT. XXII. 23-33; bMARK XII. 18-27; cLUKE XX. 27-39.

a23 On that day there came {bcome} unto him ccertain of the the Sadducees, they that {bwho} say there is no resurrection [As to the Sadducees, see Deuteronomy 25:5, Deuteronomy 25:6. The object of this law was to preserve families. But the custom was older than the law-- Genesis 38:6-11], cthat bIf a man’s brother die, chaving a wife, and he be childless, {band leave a wife behind him, and leave no child,} that his brother should take his {cthe} wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. aMoses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 25 Now there were ctherefore awith us seven brethren: and the first ctook a wife, amarried and deceased, band dying left no seed; {cand died childless;} aand, having no seed left his wife unto his brother: b21 And a26 In like manner the second also, btook her, and died, leaving no seed behind him; and the third likewise: ctook her; aunto the seventh. cand likewise the seven also left no children, {bleft no seed.} cand died. 32 Afterward [600] bLast of all a27 And after them all, bthe woman also died. a28 In the resurrection therefore whose wife shall she be of the seven? {bof them?} for the seven aall had her. bto wife. [This was evidently a favorite Sadducean argument against the resurrection. On the assumption that the marital state is continued after the resurrection, it makes the doctrine of a resurrection appear ridiculous, because, seemingly, it involves difficulties which even brothers could hardly settle amicably, and which even God would have in a sense to settle arbitrarily.] c34 And {a29 But} Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do not err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. bIs it not for this cause that ye err, that ye know not the scriptures, nor the power of God? [The relevancy of these statements will be discussed in the treatment of Acts 23:8), but the basal principle of their infidelity was the denial of spirits. It was, as it were, the tree trunk from which their other errors sprang as branches. If there were such things as spirits, it was not worth while to deny that there was an order of them known as angels. If man had a spirit which could survive his body, it was reasonable to believe that God, having so fashioned him that a body is essential to his activity and happiness, would in some manner restore a body to him. Jesus therefore does not pursue the argument until he has proved a resurrection; but rests when he has proved that man has a spirit. Jesus proves that man has a spirit by a reference from the Pentateuch, that part of Scripture which the Sadducees accepted as derived from God through Moses. The reference shows that God was spoken of and spoke of himself as the God of those who were, humanly speaking, long since dead. But the Sadducees held that a dead man had ceased to exist, that he had vanished to nothingness. According to their view, therefore, God had styled himself the God of nothing, which is absurd. The Sadducees could not thus have erred had they known or understood the significance of this Scripture, and they could not have doubted the resurrection had they known the absolute power with which God deals with material such as that of which the body is formed. See verses 24 and 39 supra.] a33 And when the multitude heard it, they were astonished at his teaching. c39 And certain of the scribes answering said, Teacher, thou hast well said. [Some of the scribes of less bitter spirit could not refrain from expressing their admiration at the ease with which Jesus answered an argument which their own wisdom could not refute.] [602]

[FFG 600-602]

Verses 28-34

(Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A. D. 30.)
Subdivision C.
aMATT. XXII. 34-40; bMARK XII. 28-34; cLUKE XX. 40.

a34 But the Pharisees, when they heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, gathered themselves together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, bone of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together, and knowing that he had answered them well, aasked him a question, trying him [he was evidently deputed by those who counseled to ask this question]: 36 Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? bWhat commandment is the first of all? [According to the statement of Jewish writers, there had been an old and interminable dispute among the rabbis as to which was the greatest commandment. Some held that it was the law which commanded sacrifices; others, that which commanded the wearing of phylacteries; others contended for those about purification; others, for those about the great feasts. But as they reckoned the commandments of Moses as numbering over six hundred, there was plenty of room for argument. On this memorable day the answers of Jesus had hitherto been of such a nature as to put his questioners to silence. Therefore, in asking this question, they hoped to get an answer about which they could at least find room to wrangle, and thus discredit the wisdom of Jesus.] 29 Jesus answered, a37 And said unto him, bThe first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one: 30 And aThou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. band with all thy strength. a38 This is the great and first commandment. [ Deuteronomy 6:4-9. This command is first because it is the foundation of the entire law of God. It is greatest, because, in a sense, it includes all the other laws. Polytheism, atheism, idolatry, and all sins against God are forbidden by it. All sins against man are likewise, in [603] a sense, prohibited by it; for sin against man is sin against God’s image, and against the objects of God’s love. Those who truly love God can not consistently sin against man ( 1 John 4:20). The curious may make metaphysical distinctions in the analysis of this required fourfold love, but the sum of it is that we are to love God with our whole being.] 39 And a {b31 The} second alike unto it bis this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. [Love is the cure for sin, for we can not sin against those whom we truly love. Where we love, we desire to bless. But sin always carries with it a willingness to injure or to curse.] There is none other commandment greater than these. a40 On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets. [The generic nature of the law of love is also noted by Paul ( Romans 13:8-10); but love without law is not sufficient. Love begets a desire to bless, but the law guides to the accomplishment of that desire. Perfect righteousness is the result of wisdom as well as affection. Love without law is power without direction, and law without love is machinery without a motor-- 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.] b32 And the scribe said unto him, Of a truth, Teacher, thou hast well said that he is one; and there is none other but he: 33 and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is much more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices. [Here, as in the preceding subdivision, the answer of Jesus was so clearly right that it enforced admiration.] 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. [Prejudice is the great obstacle to entering the kingdom. In proportion as we overcome it we draw near to God.] And no man after that durst {c40 For they durst not any more} ask him any question. [They found it expedient to keep silence when their questions only exposed their own shallowness, and made more conspicuous the supreme wisdom of Jesus.] [604]

[FFG 603-604]

Verses 35-37

(Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A. D. 30.)
Subdivision D.
aMATT. XXII. 41-46; bMARK XII. 35-37; cLUKE XX. 41-44.

a41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, bas he taught in the temple, aJesus asked them a question [They had questioned him seeking to expose his lack of wisdom, but the question of Jesus was devoid of retaliation. It was asked to teach a most important lesson], b35 And Jesus answered and said, {a42 saying,} cunto them, aWhat think ye of the Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. [The answer was true, but it was not all the truth as the Scriptures themselves showed. And this additional truth was what the opposers of Jesus needed to learn.] 43 He saith unto them, bHow say {cthey} bthe scribes that the Christ is the son of David? {cDavid’s son?} aHow then doth David in the Spirit call him Lord, c42 For David himself saith {bsaid} in the Holy Spirit, cin the book of Psalms, {asaying,} bThe Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet. {aTill I make thine enemies underneath thy feet?} 45 If b37 David himself therefore athen calleth him Lord, how band whence is he his son? [The quotation is from Psalms 110:1. The context here shows that the rabbis of that day accepted this Psalm as written by David and as Messianic in meaning. Since then the Jews have denied that the Psalm is Messianic, and that it was written by David; some saying that Abraham, and others that Hezekiah, wrote it. This Psalm speaks of the Messiah as the Lord of David, and other Scriptures call him David’s son. So also the Scriptures describe Christ as conquering yet suffering, as divine yet human, as dying yet living, as judged yet judging, etc. The Jewish rulers seem able to grasp only one side of the character of Christ as revealed either in his life or in the Scriptures, and hence they [605] stumbled.] a46 And no one was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. bAnd the common people heard him gladly. [By all their questioning, the Jews had not been able to weaken public confidence in Christ.]

[FFG 605-606]

Verses 38-40

(In the court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A. D. 30.)
aMATT. XXIII. 1-39; bMARK XII. 38-40; cLUKE XX. 45-47.

a1 Then spake Jesus b38 And in his teaching cin the hearing of all the people he said unto athe multitudes, and to his disciples [he spoke in the most public manner], 2 saying, c46 Beware of the scribes, aThe scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat: 3 all things whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe: but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. [As teachers of the law of Moses the scribes and Pharisees were the only religious guides whom the people had, so they were obliged to follow them as expounders of that law, but they were no means to look to them as living exemplification of that law.] 4 Yea, they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their fingers. [The law itself was a heavy yoke ( Acts 15:10), but these teachers added to the burden of it a vast volume of traditions, but they themselves did not keep these traditions, excusing themselves by inventing subtle distinctions like those in reference to the Corban ( Matthew 15:4-6) and to oaths ( Matthew 15:16-22). See Exodus 13:3-10, Exodus 13:11-16, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Deuteronomy 11:13-21. These were enclosed in a leather case and were fastened to the forehead and left arm. The authority for wearing them was purely traditional, and the practice seems to have arisen from a literal interpretation of Exodus 13:9, Exodus 13:16, Deuteronomy 6:8, Deuteronomy 11:18. The Pharisees made the leather case large, that their righteousness might be more conspicuous], and enlarge the borders of their garments [These were the fringes mentioned in Numbers 15:38, Numbers 15:39. But the Pharisees offended again, even in their obedience, by wearing broader fringes than other people, that they might appear more religious], cwho desire to walk in long robes [This robe was a professional dress, as marked as that worn by priests and kings. It showed that its wearer was professionally religious], a6 and love the chief places at feasts [see Exodus 22:22-24, Deuteronomy 27:19.] a8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your teacher [Christ], and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, even he who is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even the Christ. 11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. [See pp. 557, 558.] 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled; and whosoever shall humble himself shall be exalted. [See pp. 431, 494, 537. Thus Jesus reproves those who make religion a matter of praise-seeking ostentation, whether they do so by seeking position, or by peculiarity of dress, or by assuming or accepting titles of honor or distinction. This sin of ostentation was the first enumerated sin of the Pharisees.] 13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye enter not in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering in to enter. [Our Lord’s language is figurative and presents the kingdom of God as a house around the door of which the Pharisees have gathered, not entering in themselves, and blocking the way against those who would enter. This they did by their opposition to Jesus. For a similar charge see p. 315.] 15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, ye make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves. [Proselytes here meant are not those converted from heathenism to worship God, but Jews converted to Phariseeism. These become worse than their instructors, because each generation drifted farther from the law and became more zealously and completely devoted to the traditions.] 16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides [Jesus above denounced them for their hypocrisy, but this woe is pronounced upon them for their [608] ignorance and folly], that say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor. [The word "debtor" is here meant to describe one who owes it to himself and to God to keep his oath. The Pharisees graduated oaths according to their own foolish conceptions of the sanctity of the object invoked, so that if the object by which a man swore was not sacred enough, he was not forsworn if he did not keep his oath. Esteeming the gold of the temple more sacred than the temple itself, they held that an oath by the former was binding while an oath by the latter was not. The gold meant is probably the golden ornaments on the temple.] 17 Ye fools and blind: for which is greater, the gold, or the temple that hath sanctified the gold? 18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gift that is upon it, he is a debtor. 19 Ye blind: for which is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? 20 He therefore that sweareth by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. 21 And he that sweareth by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. 22 And he that sweareth by the heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. [Our Lord designed to teach that all oaths were binding. See p. 243.] 23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye tithe mint and anise and cummin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: but these ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone. [See p. 313. The anise was used for medical purposes and also for culinary seasoning, so that Pliny says "the kitchen can not be without it." Cummin also was a condiment and a medicine, the bruised seed mixed with wine being used as a styptic, especially after circumcision. It was also used as an ingredient for salves and plasters such as were applied to the ulcers of cattle produced from the bites, grubs, etc., of insects.] 24 Ye blind guides, that strain out the gnat, and [609] swallow the camel! [A proverbial expression, indicating care for little faults and a corresponding unconcern for big ones.] 25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full from extortion and excess. [Jesus here compares the Pharisees to a woman who washes the outside of her dishes and leaves the inside unclean. But in describing that inner uncleanness he passes from the figure to the reality, and specifies that it consists of extortion and self-indulgence. They made their outside clean by traditionary ablutions. See pp. 393, 394.] 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside thereof may become clean also. [Here again the literal peeps through the figurative: a pure inner life makes clean outward conduct.] 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but inwardly ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. [Luke records Jesus as having taught this lesson by an exactly opposite figure. See p. 313. There men were contaminated by the touch of a grave because there was nothing outside to notify them of its presence. Here men are contaminated by the same thing because the outside is rendered so white and beautiful that men are deceived into thinking that the inside is harmless.] 29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and garnish the tombs of the righteous, 30 and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we should not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye witness to yourselves, that ye are sons of them that slew the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. [See p. 314.] 33 Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the judgment of hell? [See p. 73.] 34 Therefore, behold, I send unto you [610] prophets, and wise men, and scribes: some of them shall ye kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city: 35 that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. [See pp. 314, 315.] 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. [See pp. 491, 492.]

[FFG 606-611]

Verses 41-44

(In the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, A. D. 30.)
bMARK XII. 41-44; cLUKE XXI. 1-4.

b41 And he sat down over against the treasury [It is said that in the court of the women there were cloisters or porticos, and under the shelter of these were placed thirteen chests with trumpet-shaped mouths into which offerings might be dropped. The money cast in was for the benefit of the Temple. An inscription on each chest showed to which one of the thirteen special items of cost or expenditure the contents would be devoted; as, for the purchase of wood, or gold, or frankincense, etc.], and beheld how the multitude cast money into the treasury [We should remember this calm inspection of our Lord when we are about [611] to make an offering to his work. He is by no means indifferent as to our actions]: and many that were rich cast in much. c1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men that were casting their gifts into the treasury. b42 And there came c2 And he saw a certain poor widow casting in thither band she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. [The lepton or mite was worth one-fifth of a cent. It was a Greek coin, and the kodrantes or farthing was a Roman coin. It is suggested that she might have retained one of the coins, since she had two.] 43 And he called unto him his disciples [he had found an object-lesson which he wished them to see], and said unto them, Verily cOf a truth I say unto you, bThis poor widow cast in more than all they that are casting into the treasury: 44 for they {cthese} ball did cast in of their superfluity; cunto the gifts; bbut she of her want did cast in all that she had, even call the living that she had. {ball her living.} [We are disposed to measure the value of actions quantitatively rather than qualitatively. Moreover, we are better judges of actions than of motives, and can see the outward conduct much clearer than the inward character. God, therefore, in his word, constantly teaches us that he looks rather upon the inward than the outward. In this case, the value of the woman’s gift was measured, not by quantity, but its quality; in quantity it was two mites, in quality it was the gift of all she had. From considering the corrupt character of the Pharisees, Jesus must have turned with pleasure to look upon the beautiful heart of this devout widow.] [612]

[FFG 611-612]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Mark 12". "The Fourfold Gospel". Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.