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Bible Commentaries
Mark 1

Vincent's Word StudiesVincent's Studies

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Verse 1

Beginning (á̓ñ÷ç̀)

without the article, showing that the expression is a kind of title. It is 'the beginning, not of his book, but of the facts of the Gospel. He shows from the prophets that the Gospel was to begin by the sending forth of a forerunner.

Verse 3

A voice (öùíç̀)

No article as A. V. and Rev., “the voice.” It has a sort of exclamatory force. Listening, the prophet exclaims, Lo! a voice.

Verse 4

John did baptize (å̓ãǻíåôï É̓ùá́ííçò ï̔ âáðôé́æùí)

Lit., John came to pass or arose who baptized. Rev., John came who baptized.

Baptism of repentance (âá́ðôéóìá ìåôáíïé́áò)

A baptism the characteristic of which was repentance; which involved an obligation to repent. We should rather expect Mark to put this in the more dramatic form used by Matthew: Saying, Repent ye!

Verse 5

There went out (ἐξεπορεύετο)

The imperfect tense signifies, there kept going out.

The river

Peculiar to Mark.


See on Mat 3:6.

Verse 6

With camels' hair (τρίχας καμήλου)

Lit., hairs. Not with a camel's skin, but with a vesture woven of camels' hair. Compare 2 Kings 1:8.

Wild honey

“The innumerable fissures and clefts of the limestone rocks, which everywhere flank the valleys, afford in their recesses secure shelter for any number of swarms of wild bees; and many of the Bedouin, particularly about the wilderness of Judaea, obtain their subsistence by bee-hunting, bringing into Jerusalem jars of that wild honey on which John the Baptist fed in the wilderness” (Tristram, “Land of Israel”). Wyc., honey of the wood.

Verse 7

To stoop down

A detail peculiar to Mark.

And unloose

Compare to bear; Matthew 3:11.

Verse 10


A favorite word with Mark. See Introduction.

Opened (ó÷éæïìǻíïõò)

Lit., as Rev., rent asunder: much stronger than Matthew's and Luke's á̓íåù́ͅ÷èçóáí, were opened.

Verse 11

Thou art my beloved son

The three synoptists give the saying in the same form: Thou art my son, the beloved.

Verse 12

Driveth him (ἐκβάλλει)

Stronger than Matthew's ἀνήχθη, was led up, and Luke's ἤγετο, was led. See on Mat 9:38. It is the word used of our Lord's expulsion of demons, Mark 1:34, Mark 1:39.

The Wilderness

The place is unknown. Tradition fixes it near Jericho, in the neighborhood of the Quarantania, the precipitous face of which is pierced with ancient cells and chapels, and a ruined church is on its topmost peak. Dr. Tristram says that every spring a few devout Abyssinian Christians are in the habit of coming and remaining here for forty days, to keep their Lent on the spot where they suppose that our Lord fasted and was tempted.

Verse 13

With the wild beasts

Peculiar to Mark. The region just alluded to abounds in boars, jackals, wolves, foxes, leopards, hyenas, etc.

Verse 15

The time (ὁ καιρὸς)

That is, the period completed by the setting up of Messiah's kingdom. Compare the fulness of the time, Galatians 4:4.


See on Mat 3:2; and Mat 21:29. Mark adds, and believe in the Gospel.

Verse 16

Casting a net (ἀμφιβάλλοντας)

See on Mat 4:18. Mark here uses, more graphically, only the verb, without adding net. Lit., throwing about in the sea. Probably a fisher man's phrase, like a east, a haul.

Verse 17

To become (ãåíǻóèáé)

An addition of Mark.

Verse 19

A little farther

Added by Mark.


See on Mat 4:21.

Verse 20

With the hired servants

Peculiar to Mark. It may imply that Zebedee carried on his business on a larger scale than ordinary fishermen.

Verse 22

He taught (ç̓͂í äéäá́óêùí)

The finite verb with the participle denoting something continuous: was teaching.

Verse 23


At the conclusion of his teaching.

With an unclean spirit (å̓í ðíåṍìáôé á̓êáèá́ñôùͅ)

Lit., “in an unclean spirit.” Å̓í (in) has the force of in the power of. Dr. Morison compares the phrases in drink, in love.

Verse 24


Me and those like me. “The demons,” says Bengel, “make common cause.”

The Holy One of God

The demon names him as giving to the destruction the impress of hopeless certainty.

Verse 25

Hold thy peace (φιμώθητι)

Lit., be muzzled or gagged See on Mat 22:12.

Verse 26

Had torn (óðáñá́îáí)

Rev., tearing, convulsions in margin. Luke has had thrown him down in the midst. Mark adds the crying out with a loud voice.

Verse 27

They questioned among themselves (óõíæçôåé͂í ðñï̀ò å̔áõôïõ̀ò)

Stronger than Luke, who has they spake together. Tynd., They demanded one of another among themselves.

Verse 30

Lay sick of a fever (êáôǻêåéôï ðõñǻóóïõóá)

Êáôá́, prostrate. Mark adds, they tell him of her. Luke, they besought him for her. Mark, he came to her. Luke, he stood over her. Mark only, he took her by the hand and raised her up.

Verse 32

At even, when the sun did set

An instance of Mark's habit of coupling similar words or phrases.

That were sick

See on Mat 4:23, 24.

Verse 33

All the city was gathered together at the door

Peculiar to Mark.

Verse 34

Devils (δαιμόνια)

The Rev., unfortunately, and against the protest of the American committee, retains devils instead of rendering demons. See on Matthew 4:1. The New Testament uses two kindred words to denote the evil spirits which possessed men, and which were so often east out by Christ: διάμων, of which demon is a transcript, and which occurs, according to the best texts, only at Matthew 8:31; and δαιμόνιον, which is not a diminutive, but the neuter of the adjective δαιμόνιος, of, or belonging to a demon. The cognate verb is δαιμονίζομαι to be possessed with a demon, as in Mark 1:32.

The derivation of the word is uncertain. Perhaps δαίω, to distribute, since the deities allot the fates of men. Plato derives it from δαήμων, knowing or wise. In Hesiod, as in Pythagoras, Thales, and Plutarch, the word δαίμων is used of men of the golden age, acting as tutelary deities, and forming the link between gods and men. Socrates, in Plato's “Cratylus,” quotes Hesiod as follows: “Socrates: You know how Hesiod uses the word? Hermogenes: Indeed I do not. Soc.: Do you not remember that he speaks of a golden race of men who came first? Her.: Yes, I know that. Soc.: He says of them,

But now that fate has closed over this race,

They are holy demons upon earth,

Beneficent, averters of ills, guardians of mortal men.'”

After some further conversation, Socrates goes on: “And therefore I have the most entire conviction that he called them demons, because they were δαήμονες (knowing or wise). Now, he and other poets say truly that, when a good man dies, he has honor and a mighty portion among the dead, and becomes a demon, which is a name given to him signifying wisdom. And I say, too, that every wise man who happens to be a good man is more than human (δαιμόνιον) both in life and death, and is rightly called a demon.” Mr. Grote (“History of Greece”) observes that in Hesiod demons are “invisible tenants of the earth, remnants of the once happy golden race whom the Olympic gods first made - the unseen police of the gods, for the purpose of repressing wicked behavior in the world.” In later Greek the word came to be used of any departed soul.

In Homer δαίμων is used synonymously with θεός and θεά, god and goddess, and the moral quality of the divinity is determined by the context: but most commonly of the divine power or agency, like the Latin numen, the deity considered as a power rather than as a person. Homer does not use δαιμόνιον substantively, but as an adjective, always in the vocative case, and with a sorrowful or reproachful sense, indicating that the person addressed is in some astonishing or strange condition. Therefore, as a term of reproach - wretch! sirrah! madman! (“Iliad,” 2:190, 200; 4:31; ix., 40). Occasionally in an admiring or respectful sense (“Odyssey,” xiv., 443; xxiii., 174); Excellent stranger! noble sir! Homer also uses δαίμων of one's genius or attendant spirit, and thence of one's lot or fortune. So in the beautiful simile of the sick father (“Odyssey,” 5:396), “Some malignant genius has assailed him.” Compare “Odyssey,” x., 64; xi., 61. Hence, later, the phrase κατὰ δαίμονα is nearly equivalent to by chance.

We have seen that, in Homer, the bad sense of δαιμόνοις is the prevailing one. In the tragedians, also, δαίμων, though used both of good and bad fortune, occurs more frequently in the latter sense, and toward this sense the word gravitates more and more. The undertone of Greek thought, which tended to regard no man happy until he had escaped from life (see on Mat 5:3, blessed), naturally imparted a gloomy and forbidding character to those who were supposed to allot the destinies of life.

In classical Greek it is noticeable that the abstract τὸ δαιμόνιον fell into the background behind δαίμων, with the development in the latter of the notion of a fate or genius connected with each individual, as the demon of Socrates; while in biblical Greek the process is the reverse, this doctrine being rejected for that of an overruling personal providence, and the strange gods, “obscure to human knowledge and alien to human life,” taking the abstract term uniformly in an evil sense.

Empedocles, a Greek philosopher, of Sicily, developed Hesiod's distinction; making the demons of a mixed nature between gods and men, not only the link between the two, but having an agency and disposition of their own; not immortal, but long-lived, and subject to the passions and propensities of men. While in Hesiod the demons are all good, according to Empedocles they are both bad and good. This conception relieved the gods of the responsibility for proceedings unbecoming the divine nature. The enormities which the older myths ascribed directly to the gods - thefts, rapes, abductions - were the doings of bad demons. It also saved the credit of the old legends, obviating the necessity of pronouncing either that the gods were unworthy or the legends untrue. “Yet, though devised for the purpose of satisfying a more scrupulous religious sensibility, it was found inconvenient afterward when assailants arose against paganism generally. For while it abandoned as indefensible a large portion of what had once been genuine faith, it still retained the same word demons with an entirely altered signification. The Christian writers in their controversies found ample warrant among the earlier pagan authors for treating all the gods as demons; and not less ample warrant among the later pagans for denouncing the demons generally as evil beings” (Grote, “History of Greece”).

This evil sense the words always bear in the New Testament as well as in the Septuagint. Demons are synonymous with unclean spirits (Mark 5:12, Mark 5:15; Mark 3:22, Mark 3:30; Luke 4:33). They appear in connection with Satan (Luke 10:17, Luke 10:18; Luke 11:18, Luke 11:19); they are put in opposition to the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:20, 1 Corinthians 10:21); to the faith (1 Timothy 4:1). They are connected with idolatry (Revelation 9:20; Revelation 16:13, Revelation 16:14). They are special powers of evil, influencing and disturbing the physical, mental, and moral being (Luke 13:11, Luke 13:16; Mark 5:2-5; Mark 7:25; Matthew 12:45).

Verse 35

A great while before day (å̓́ííõ÷á)

Lit., while it was in the night. The word is peculiar to Mark.

Verse 36

Followed after (êáôåäé́ùîáí)

The word found only in Mark. Simon and his companions, as well as the people of the city, seem to have been afraid lest he should have permanently left them. Hence the compound verb indicates that they followed him eagerly; pursued him as if he were fleeing from them. Simon, true to his nature, was foremost in the pursuit: Simon, and they that were with him.

Verse 37


All the people of Capernaum, all are seeking thee. The continuous present tense. So Rev., better than A. V. The all is peculiar to Mark.

Verse 38

Towns (êùìïðḯëåéò)

Lit., village-towns, suburban towns.

Verse 41

Moved with compassion

Only Mark.

Verse 43

Strictly charged (å̓ìâñéìçóá́ìåíïò)

Rev., sternly, in margin. The word is originally to snort, as of mettlesome horses. Hence, to fret, or chafe, or be otherwise strongly moved; and then, as a result of this feeling, to admonish or rebuke urgently. The Lord evidently spoke to him peremptorily. Compare sent him out (å̓îǻâáëåí); lit., drove or cast him out. The reason for this charge and dismissal lay in the desire of Jesus not to thwart his ministry by awaking the premature violence of his enemies; who, if they should see the leper and hear his story before he had been officially pronounced clean by the priest, might deny either that he had been a leper or had been truly cleansed.

Verse 45

The city

Properly, as Rev., a city; any city.

Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Mark 1". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/mark-1.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.
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