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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Mark 9

Verses 2-13

§ 75. THE TRANSFIGURATION, Mark 9:2-41.9.13 .

(See notes on Matthew 17:1-40.17.13.)

Verse 6

6. He wist not He knew not. The verb wist comes from the old English to wit. It is cognate with the words wit and wisdom.

Verse 10

10. Should mean Will he literally die, or is it a figure of speech? If figurative, what does it mean? If real, why should it take place, and what will become of us? Will he truly rise again? What if he should not? What then becomes of his past miracles and teachings? And how are we to explain this dazzling transfiguration? It is wonderful how completely the crucifixion of Jesus swept from the disciples’ minds all hope of his resurrection, so that they could scarce believe it when it took place. See notes on Mark 16:10-41.16.11.

Verses 14-29


(See notes on Matthew 17:14-40.17.21.)

Verse 22

22. If thou canst do The father has hopes, but not strong faith. He knows this to be a most inveterate case. He has heard the revilings of the scribes, and is still watched by their sharp, sarcastic faces. He has heard of Jesus’s power he has perhaps seen it displayed; but that it can reach this case, after the plain failure of his disciples, is hard, and perhaps too good to believe.

Verse 23

23. If thou canst believe An echo of the man’s expression, If thou canst do anything. The man had evidence which required him to have and to use a proper amount of faith. As God does not require our first faith without giving us a first evidence, so our Lord first gave prior evidence of his divinity in order to create a first faith. But when that was done, the condition of the exercise of faith was an inexorable demand. Our Lord thus performed, as we may say, two classes of miracles.

All things are possible to him that believeth When our Lord says “all things,” we are to understand what classes of things he is speaking of, in which he includes all. And the condition (“to him that believeth”) belongs not to every rash and presumptuous belief, that the mind, not in communion with God, may conjure up. The belief and the grant to prayer of which Jesus speaks belong perhaps to the world in which he speaks, namely, the religious and spiritual world. And the belief of which he speaks is that faith of which God grants the power. All things within its sphere are possible to that faith; for God will not grant power to faith for things which he will not make possible.

Verse 24

24. Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief Surely, the Spirit of God must have prompted words so wise and so suited to his case. I believe with all the strength I have; give me more strength that my faith may be more complete. And his faith was thus strong as could be required, and strong enough to empower Jesus to grant him the fulness of the blessing.

Verse 25

25. The people came running together They had before run forward to him. They now crowded around in close circle to witness the expected miracle. Rebuked the foul spirit The words were not directed to the child, nor to his disease; but to the spirit that possessed the child and produced the disease. Dumb and deaf Not that the spirit was dumb and deaf; for it is plain that he heard Jesus, and that he cried when driven from the child.

Verse 26

26. Rent him Wrenched him around the space, as if struggling in the act of throwing the child off from his position. As one dead Not only prostrated by the convulsions, but left in complete exhaustion and apparent lifelessness.

Verse 27

27. Jesus took him by the hand Jesus now, in the place of the diabolical life, bestows upon him a true vitality which is at once natural and supernatural.

Verses 30-32


(See note on Matthew 22:23.)

Verse 32

32. And were afraid to ask him Our Lord did not encourage bold questions on their part in regard to this matter. He develops the truth in his own way gradually, as he sees their minds prepared for it. It is not until the passover supper that they fully feel that he is to leave them by death. And not even then is their faith so strong that they are prepared for an immovable faith in his resurrection. See on Mark 9:10.

Verses 33-50


(Compare notes on Matthew 18:1-40.18.5.)

Verse 38

38. Casting out devils in thy name Among the many who were favoured with our Lord’s ministry, there was, it seems, one at any rate who had true faith in him to so high a degree as to be able, though not an apostle, to work miracles. Followeth not us He probably had received no regular open commission from Christ to preach or work miracles.

Verse 39

39. That can lightly speak evil of me If he uses my name he must believe that mine is a divine name. If he can work wonders by it, his faith must be both true and great. If God enable him to perform miracles, the divine obligation is upon him. He therefore cannot speak contemptuously of the name by faith in which he achieves miracles of mercy. He win never pronounce I am an impostor, or join the scribes in saying that I cast out devils through the prince of devils.

It cannot be denied that this furnishes a strong reproof to bigots who are ready to deny the Christian or the churchly name to those who are not of their own organization. Where those who differ from us do not endanger the fundamentals of repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must be very cautious how we forbid them because they follow not us. We may love our own doctrines, discipline, usages, and denomination, we may defend them at the proper time with firmness and boldness; but let us not be unjust to the piety and the zeal in the cause of Christ and the good of mankind, which exist in other denominations of Christians.

Verse 40

40. He that is not against us Every expeller of demons that works separately from us must be held to be on our part, unless he is against us. He who thus is not against us is on our side.

Verse 41

41. Give you a cup of water See note on Matthew 10:42.

Verses 42-43

42, 43. Consult our notes on Matthew 18:6.

Verse 43

43. The fire that never shall be quenched Our Lord gives a stronger expression than Isaiah 66:24, presents. It is not simply “shall not be quenched,” but “never” shall be quenched. This carries the thought far beyond the mere temporal fires of Hinnom, even to that unquenchable fire for which he uses the fire of Hinnom as a figure. Jesus repeats the expression with great solemnity thrice, as if to show that the highest possible meaning was to be attributed to his word.

Verse 49

49. Salted with fire As salt, from its antiseptic qualities, was an ancient emblem of purification, so salted here is equivalent to purified, and “salted with fire” is equivalent to “purified with fire.” Now every one (who is purified) is indeed purified by the fire of the Spirit of God. See note on Matthew 3:11. And that same fire of God’s holiness which purifies the saint, constitutes the penal fire of the obdurate sinner, so that the essential base of the fire in Mark 9:48-41.9.49 is the same. The particle for connects Mark 9:49 with Mark 9:47, and shows that the severity of the purgation which is expressed by fire here is the same as that expressed by cutting off in the previous verses. Undergo this purgative severity of cutting off and plucking out all the members of sin, for it is by this severe and fiery ordeal that we are purified, as a meat offering is purified by salt. And every sacrifice shall be salted with salt The Greek word for and might better be rendered as. There is a comparison thus introduced. Every soul is purified with fire as every sacrifice is salted with salt. See Leviticus 2:13.

Verse 50

50. Salt is good Whether it be a natural or a spiritual element, it is a good creation of God. As the natural substance is excellent, so it is the rightful symbol of spiritual excellence. If the salt have lost his saltness See notes on Matthew 5:13. Have salt in yourselves Let the emblem of active, sharp purity, symbolised by salt, be in you. There is something of sharpness in the reformatory spirit, which is felt to be acrid and unpleasant by those who need the benefit of it. Nevertheless this does not excuse us from the possession of the element. And have peace Let your purity, and your purifying element, with all its sharpness, be characterized by the spirit of love. So in the East salt is the emblem of fidelity and friendship. To eat salt with a man and then be his enemy is the height of treachery.

The same salt which is an element of purity, is also an emblem of peace and perpetuity.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Mark 9". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.