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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Mark 7

Verse 2

Defiled [κοιναις] . Lit., common; and so Rev. in margin, Wyc., and Tynd.

That is. Added by way of explanation to Gentile readers.

Oft [πυγμη] . Rev., diligently. A word which has given critics much difficulty, and on which it is impossible to speak decisively. The Rev. gives in the margin the simplest meaning, the literal one, with the fist; that is, rubbing the uncleansed hand with the other doubled. This would be satisfactory if there were any evidence that such was the custom in washing; but there is none. Edersheim (" Life and Times of Jesus, "2, 11, note) says" the custom is not in accordance with Jewish law. "But he elsewhere says (" The Temple," 206, note), "For when water was poured upon the hands they had to be lifted, yet so that the water should neither run up above the wrist, nor back again upon the hand; best, therefore, by doubling the fingers into a fist. Hence (as Lightfoot rightly remarks) Mark 7:3, should be translated except they wash their hands with the fist." Tischendorf, in his eighth edition, retains an ancient reading, pukna, frequently or diligently, which may go to explain this translation in so man; y of the versions (Gothic, Vulgate, Syriac). Meyer, with his usual literalism gives with the fist, which I am inclined to adopt.

Holding [κρατουντες] . Strictly, holding, firmly or fast. So Hebrews 4:14; Revelation 2:25; denoting obstinate adherence to the tradition.

Verse 4

Wash themselves [βαπτισωνται] . Two of the most important manuscripts, however, read rJantiswntai, sprinkled themselves. See Rev., in margin. This reading is adopted by Westcott and Hort. The American Revisers insist on bathe, instead of wash, already used as a translation of niywntai (verse 3). The scope of this work does not admit of our going into the endless controversy to which this word has given rise. It will be sufficient to give the principal facts concerning its meaning and usage.

In classical Greek the primary meaning is to merse. Thus Polybius (i., 51, 6), describing a naval battle of the Romans and Carthaginians, says, "They sank [εβαπτιζον] many of the ships." Josephos (" Jewish War, "4, 3, 3), says of the crowds which flocked into Jerusalem at the time of the siege," They overwhelmed [εβαπτισαν] the city. "In a metaphorical sense Plato uses it of drunkenness : drowned in drink (bebaptismenoi," Symposium, "176); of a youth overwhelmed [βαπτιζομενον] with the argument of his adversary (" Euthydemus," 277).

In the Septuagint the verb occurs four times : Isaiah 21:4, Terror hath frighted me. Septuagint, Iniquity baptizes me [βαπτιζει] ; 2 Kings 5:15, of Naaman's dipping himself in Jordan [εβαπτισατο] ; Judith 12 7, Judith washing herself [εβαπτιζετο] at the fountain; Sirach 31 25, being baptized [βαπτιζομενος] from a dead body.

The New Testament use of the word to denote submersion for a religious purpose, may be traced back to the Levitical washings. See Leviticus 11:32 (of vessels); Leviticus 11:40 (of clothes); Numbers 8:6, Numbers 8:7 (sprinkling with purifying water); Exodus 30:19, Exodus 30:21 (of washing hands and feet). The word appears to have been at that time the technical term for such washings (compare Luke 11:38; Hebrews 9:10; Mark 7:4), and could not therefore have been limited to the meaning immerse. Thus the washing of pots and vessels for ceremonial purification could not have been by plunging them in water, which would have rendered impure the whole body of purifying water. The word may be taken in the sense of washing or sprinkling.

"The Teaching of the Apostles" (see on Matthew 10:10) throws light on the elastic interpretation of the term, in its directions for baptism. "Baptize - in living (i. e., running) water. But if thou hast not living water, baptize in other water; and if thou canst not in cold, then in warm. But if thou hast neither, pour water upon the head thrice into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Chapter 7.). Pots [ξεστων] . Another of Mark's Latin words, adapted from the Latin sextarius, a pint measure. Wyc., cruets. Tynd., cruses.

Brazen vessels [χαλκιων] . More literally, copper.

Tables [κλινων] . Omitted in some of the best manuscripts and texts, and by Rev. The A. V. is a mistranslation, the word meaning couches. If this belongs in the text, we certainly cannot explain baptismouv as immersion.

Verse 6

Well [καλως] . Finely, beautifully. Ironical.

Verse 10

Honor. Wyc. has worship. Compare his rendering of Matthew 6:2, "That they be worshipped of men;" Matthew 13:57, "A prophet is not without worship but in his own country;" and especially John 12:26, If any man serve me, my Father shall worship him. "

Die the death [θανατω τελευτατω] . Lit., come to an end by death. See on Matthew 14:4.

Verse 11

Corban. Mark only gives the original word, and then translates. See on Matthew 14:5.

Verse 13

Making of none effect. Rev., making void. See on Matthew 14:6. Ye handed down. Note the past tense, identifying them for the moment with their forefathers. Compare Matthew 13:35, Ye slew. Christ views the Jewish persecutors and bigots, ancient and modern, as a whole, actuated by one spirit, and ascribes to one section what was done by another.

Verse 17

The disciples. Matthew says Peter. There is no discrepancy. Peter spoke for the band.

Verse 18

So. So unintelligent as not to understand what I uttered to the crowd.

Verse 19

Draught [αφεδρωνα] . Liddell and Scott give only one definition - a privy, cloaca; and derive from edra, seat, breech, fundament. Compare English stool. The word does not refer to a part of the body.

Purging all meats [καθαριζων παντα τα βρωματα] . According to the A. V. these words are in apposition with draught : the draught which makes pure the whole of the food, since it is the place designed for receiving the impure excrements.

Christ was enforcing the truth that all defilement comes from within. This was in the face of the Rabbinic distinctions between clean and unclean meats. Christ asserts that Levitical uncleanness, such as eating with unwashed hands, is of small importance compared with moral uncleanness. Peter, still under the influence of the old ideas, cannot understand the saying and asks an explanation (Matthew 14:15), which Christ gives in verses 18 - 23. The words purging all meats (Rev., making all meats clean) are not Christ 's, but the Evangelist 's, explaining the bearing of Christ 's words; and therefore the Rev. properly renders, this he said (italics), making all meats clean. This was the interpretation of Chrysostom, who says in his homily on Matthew : "But Mark says that he said these things making all meats pure." Canon Farrar refers to a passage cited from Gregory Thaumaturgus : "And the Savior, who purifies all meats, says." This rendering is significant in the light of Peter's vision of the great sheet, and of the words, "What God hath cleansed" [εκαθαρισε] , in which Peter probably realized for the first time the import of the Lord 's words on this occasion. Canon Farrar remarks : "It is doubtless due to the fact that St. Peter, the informant of St. Mark, in writing his Gospel, and as the sole ultimate authority for this vision in the Acts is the source of both narratives, - that we owe the hitherto unnoticed circumstance that the two verbs, cleanse and profane (or defile), both in a peculiarly pregnant sense, are the two most prominent words in the narrative of both events" (" Life and Work of Paul, " 1, 276 - 7).

Verse 21

Evil Thoughts [διαλογισμοι οι κακοι] . Thoughts, those which are evil. So Rev., in margin. Thoughts that are evil. The word dialogismoi, thoughts, does not in itself convey a bad sense; and hence the addition of adjectives denoting evil, as here and James 2:4. Radically, it carries the idea of discussion or debate, with an under - thought of suspicion or doubt, either with one's own mind, as Luke 5:22; Luke 6:8; or with another, Luke 9:46; Philippians 2:14; Romans 14:1.

Verse 22

Wickedness [πονηριαι] . Plural. Rev., wickednesses. From ponein, to toil. The adjective ponhrov means, first, oppressed by toils; then in bad case or plight, from which it runs into the sense of morally bad. This conception seems to have been associated by the high - born with the life of the lower, laboring, slavish class; just as our word knave (like the German knabe from which it is derived) originally meant simply a boy or a servant - lad. As ponov means hard, vigorous labor, battle for instance, so the adjective ponhrov, in a moral sense, indicates active wickedness. So Jeremy Taylor : "Aptness to do shrewd turns, to delight in mischiefs and tragedies; a loving to trouble one's neighbor and do him ill offices." Ponhrov, therefore, is dangerous, destructive. Satan is called oJ ponhrov, the wicked one. Kakov, evil (see evil thoughts, verse 21), characterizes evil rather as defect : "That which is not such as, according to its nature, destination, and idea it might be or ought to be" [χρεμερ] . Hence of incapacity in war; of cowardice [κακια] . Kakov doulov, the evil servant, in Matthew 24:48, is a servant wanting in proper fidelity and diligence. Thus the thoughts are styled evil, as being that which, in their nature and purpose, they ought not to be. Matthew, however (xv. 19), calls these thoughts ponhroi, the thoughts in action, taking shape in purpose. Both adjectives occur in Revelation 16:2.

Lasciviousness [ασελγεια] . Derivation unknown. It includes lasciviousness, and may well mean that here; but is often used without this notion. In classical Greek it is defined as violence, with spiteful treatment and audacity. As in this passage its exact meaning is not implied by its being classed with other kindred terms, it would seem better to take it in as wide a sense as possible - that of lawless insolence and wanton caprice, and to render, with Trench, wantonness, since that word, as he remarks, "stands in remarkable ethical connection with ajselgeia, and has the same duplicity of meaning" (" Synonyms of the New Testament "). At Romans 13:13, where lasciviousness seems to be the probable meaning, from its association with chambering [κοιταις] , it is rendered wantonness in A. V. and Rev., as also at 2 Peter 2:18.

Evil eye [οφθαλμος πονηρος] . A malicious, mischief - working eye, with the meaning of positive, injurious activity. See on wickednesses.

Blasphemy [βλασφημια] . The word does not necessarily imply blasphemy against God. It is used of reviling, calumny, evil - speaking in general. See Matthew 27:39; Romans 3:8; Romans 14:16; 1 Peter 4:4, etc. Hence Rev. renders railing.

Pride [υπερηφανια] . From uJper, above, and fainesqai, to show one's self. The picture in the word is that of a man with his head held high above others. It is the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man. Compare Proverbs 16:5; Romans 12:16 (mind not high things); 1 Timothy 3:6.

Verse 24

Went away. See on chapter Mark 6:31. The entering into the house and the wish to be secluded are peculiar to Mark.

Verse 25

Daughter [θυγατριον] . Diminutive. Rev., little daughter. See on chapter Mark 5:23.

Verse 26

Syro - Phoenician. Phoenician of Syria, as distinguished from a Libyo - Phoenician of North Africa, Libya being often used for Africa.

Verse 27

Let the children first be filled. Peculiar to Mark.

The dogs. Diminutive. See on Matthew 14:26.

Verse 28

Mark adds under the table.

The children 's crumbs. See on Matthew 14:26. This would indicate that the little dogs were pet dogs of the children, their masters.

29, 30. Peculiar to Mark.

Laid [βεβλημενον] . Lit., thrown. She had probably experienced some fearful convulsion when the demon departed. Compare Mark 9:22, of the demon which possessed the boy : "It hath cast him, etc. [εβαλεν] ." See also Mark 1:26; Mark 9:26.

32 - 37. A narrative peculiar to Mark.

Verse 32

Deaf [κωφον] . See on Matthew 9:32.

Had an impediment in his speech [μογιλαλον] . Mogiv, with difficulty; lalov, speaking. Not absolutely dumb. Compare he spake plain, verse 35.

Verse 33

Put [εβαλεν] . Lit., threw : thrust.

Verse 35

Plain [ορθως] . Lit., rightly. So Wyc.

Verse 36

Charged [διεστειλατο] . The verb means, first, to separate; then to define or distinguish; and as that which is separated and distinguished is emphasized, to command or straitly charge.

Verse 37

Astonished. See on Matthew 7:28.

To speak [λαλειν] . See on Matthew 28:18. The emphasis is not on the matter, but on the fact of speech.

Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Mark 7". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.