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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Mark 12



Verses 1-12

1–12.] PARABLE OF THE VINEYARD LET OUT TO HUSBANDMEN. This parable is, for the most part, identical with that in Matthew 21:33-46, and Luke 20:9-19. The number, and treatment of the servants sent, is enlarged on here;—and in Mark 12:4 there occurs the singular word κεφαλαιόω, which appears to be used by a solœcism for κεφαλίζω, ‘to wound in the head.’ Some have rendered it, ‘they made short work with him,’ which is the more usual sense of the word, but not probable here; for they did not kill him, but disgracefully used him.

I must not allow any opportunity to pass of directing attention to the sort of difference, in similarity, between these three reports,—and observing that no origin of that difference is imaginable, except the gradual deflection of accounts from a common, or a parallel, source.

See notes on Matt. throughout.

Verse 9

9.] ἐλεύσεται κ. τ. λ. is not the answer of the Pharisees, or of the people, as the corresponding sentence in (37) Matt. (see note there), but, here and in (38) Luke, a continuation of our Lord’s discourse.

After Mark 12:11 comes in Matthew 21:43-45.

Verse 12

12.] Meyer makes ὁ ὄχλος (and ὁ λαός in (39) Luke) the subject to ἔγνωσαν, but I think quite unnecessarily. The fear of the people is increased by the consciousness on the part of the rulers that He had spoken the parable against them: they are as men convicted before the people.

Verses 13-17

13–17.] REPLY CONCERNING THE LAWFULNESS OF TRIBUTE TO CÆSAR. Matthew 22:15-22. Luke 20:20-26. The parable of the wedding-garment, Matthew 22:1-14, is omitted. The only matters requiring additional remark in these verses are,—13.] λόγῳ is the instrument where-with they would ἀγρεύειν: the verb being one taken from the chase. They wished to lay hold on him by some saying of His.

Verse 14

14.] ἐπʼ ἀληθ., truly,—indeed,—see reff. and Mark 12:32.

δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δ.; the originality of the report is shewn by these words. They wish to drive our Lord to an absolute affirmation or negation.

Verse 15

15.] δηνάρ., Mark and Luke, = τὸ νόμις. τοῦ κήνς., Matt.

Verse 17

17.] ἐθαύμαζον, imperfect, is graphic. This was going on, when the next incident began.

Verses 18-27

18–27.] REPLY TO THE SADDUCEES CONCERNING THE RESURRECTION. Matthew 22:23-33. Luke 20:27-40. The three reports are very much alike in matter, and now and then coincide almost verbally (Matthew 22:27, Luke 20:32. Mark 12:23 end, Luke 20:33). The chief additions are found in Luke 20:34-36, where see notes, and on Matt. throughout.

Verse 19

19. ἔγραψεν ἵνα] This is one of the cases where purpose and purport are mingled in the ἵνα. See on 1 Corinthians 14:13. It is better to take it so than with Meyer to suppose ἵνα dependent on volo understood.

Verse 23

23.] ὅταν ἀναστῶσιν, here not, ‘when men (the dead) shall rise,’ but when they (the wife and seven brothers) shall rise: see on Mark 12:25.

Verse 24

24.] διὰ τοῦτο refers to the following participle μὴ εἰδότες: for his reason … because ye know not.

Verse 25

25.] The ὅταν ἀναστῶσιν here is general, not as in Mark 12:23 : see note there.

Verse 26

26.] ἐπὶ τοῦ βάτου (so also ( τῆς) Luke);—either, ‘in the chapter containing the history of God appearing in the bush,’ or, ‘when he was at the bush.’ The former is the more probable, on account of the construction of the verse in our text. In Luke, if we had his account alone, the other rendering might be admissible, ‘Moses testified, at the bush:’ but this will not answer in our text.

Verse 28

28.] The motive, as shewn by the subordination of ἀκούσας to προσελθών, and of εἰδώς to ἐπηρώτησεν, seems to have been, admiration of our Lord’s wise answer, and a desire to be instructed further by Him.

ἐντ. πρώτη πάντ.] This was one of the μάχαι νομικαί (Titus 3:9),—which was the greatest commandment. The Scribes had many frivolous enumerations and classifications of the commands of the law.

πάντων, not πασῶν: πρώτη- πάντων is treated almost as one word, so that πάντων does not belong to ἐντ. understood, but, q. d. ‘first-of-all of the commandments.’

Verses 28-34

28–34.] REPLY CONCERNING THE GREAT COMMANDMENT. Matthew 22:34-40, but with differing circumstances. There the question appears as that of one among the Pharisees’ adherents, who puts this question, πειράζων αὐτόν,—and in consequence of the Pharisees coming up to the strife, after He had discomfited the Sadducees. I should be disposed to take Mark’s as the strictly accurate account, seeing that there is nothing in the question which indicates enmity, and our Lord’s answer, Mark 12:34, plainly precludes it. The man, from hearing them disputing, came up, and formed one of the band who gathered together for the purpose of tempting Him. Mark’s report, which here is wholly unconnected in origin with Matt.’s, is that of some one who had taken accurate note of the circumstances and character of the man: Matt.’s is more general, not entering, as this, into individual motives, but classing the question broadly among the various “temptations” of our Lord at this time.

Verse 29

29 f.] Mark cites the passage entire,—Matt. only the command itself:—compare the LXX. In this citation the Vat. reading διανοίας and the Alex. καρδίας are combined: and ἰσχύοςδυνάμεως. “Thou shalt love the Lord with spirit, soul, and body:” with the inner spirit, and the outer life. This is faith working by love: for κ. ὁ θ. ἡμῶν is the language of faith.

Verse 30

30.] ἰσχύς is the inner spiritual strength of the heart: see Beck’s useful little manual, Die biblische Seelenlehre, p. 110.

Verse 31

31.] Our Lord adds this second, as an application or bringing home of the first.

The first is the Sun, so to speak, of the spiritual life:—this the lesser light, which reflects the shining of that other. It is like to it, inasmuch as both are laws of love: both deduced from the great and highest love: both dependent on ‘I am the Lord thy God,’ Leviticus 19:18.

Stier sets forth beautifully the strong contrast between the requirements of these two commands, and the then state of the Jewish Church: see John 7:19.

Verse 32-33

32, 33.] The Scribe shews that he had entered into the true spirit of our Lord’s answer; and replies in admiration at its wisdom.

Observe συνέσεως corresponding to διανοίας: and see Beck, p. 60.

ὁλοκ. κ. θ., the things to which, the outward literal observers paid all their attention.

Verse 34

34.] νουνεχῶς—Attice νουνεχόντως, opposed to ἀφρόνως, Isocr. Mark 12:7 (Meyer).

οὐ μακρὰν] This man had hold of that principle in which Law and Gospel are one: he stood as it were at the door of the Kingdom of God. He only wanted (but the want was indeed a serious one) repentance and faith to be within it. The Lord shews us here that even outside His flock, those who can answer νουνεχῶς—who have knowledge of the spirit of the great command of Law and Gospel, are nearer to being of his flock, than the formalists:—but then, as Bengel adds, ‘Si non procul es, intra: alias prœstiterit, procul fuisse.’

καὶ οὐδεὶς] This is apparently out of its place here, as it is after the question which now follows, that Matt. relates this discomfiture of his adversaries. We must not however conclude too hastily, especially where the minute accuracy of Mark is at stake. The question just asked was the last put to our Lord, and therefore the notice of its being the last comes in fitly here. The enquiry which follows did more than silence their questioning: it silenced their answering too: both which things Matt. combines as the result of this day, in his Matthew 22:46.

ἐπερωτῆσαι, not, ‘to ask him any more questions:’ see on ch. Mark 11:29.

Verse 35

35.] The whole controversy in the temple is regarded as one: hence the new point raised by our Lord is introduced as a rejoinder, with ἀποκριθείς.

Verses 35-37

35–37.] THE PHARISEES BAFFLED BY A QUESTION CONCERNING CHRIST AND DAVID. Matthew 22:41-46. Luke 20:41-44. The reports are apparently independent of any common original, and hardly agree verbally in the citation from the LXX. See notes on Matt.

Verse 36

36.] Observe ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίῳ ( ἐν πν., Matt.) = ἐν βίβλῳ ψαλμῶν Luke: a coincidence not to be passed over.

Verse 37

37.] πόθεν, from whence shall we seek an explanation for what follows: see reff.

κ. ὁ πολ. ὄχ. ἤκ. αὐτ. ἡδ. is peculiar to Mark.

Verses 38-40

38–40.] DENUNCIATION OF THE SCRIBES. Luke 20:45-47. These verses, nearly verbatim the same in the two Evangelists, and derived from a common report, are an abridgment of the discourse which occupies the greater part of Matthew 23—with the additions of θελ. ἐν στολ. περιπ., and οἱ κατέσθ.… κρῖμα (see (40) Matt., text, and var. readd.). The words ἐν τῇ διδ. αὐτ. seem to imply that Mark understood it as a compendium.

ἀσπασμούς and the following accusatives are governed. by θελόντων.

οἱ κατέσθοντες may either be dependent on the preceding by a broken construction, or may be the beginning of a new sentence of exclamation, as Meyer takes it. The former is to me the more probable, and I have punctuated accordingly. It is a change of construction not without example in the classics: Herod. i. 51, λακεδαιμονίων φαμένων εἶναι ἀνάθεμα, οὐκ ὀρθῶς λέγοντες. See also reff. The art. points them out graphically. They devoured widows’ houses, by attaching them to themselves, and so persuading them to minister to them of their substance. A trace of this practice (but there out of gratitude and love) on the part of the Jewish women, is found in Luke 8:2-3. What words can better describe the corrupt practices of the so-called priesthood of Rome, than these of our Lord? The πρόφασις was, to make their sanctity appear to these women, and so win their favour.

περισσότερον—because ye have joined thieving with hypocrisy.

Verse 41

41. τοῦ γαζ.] This is usually understood of thirteen chests, which stood in the court of the women, into which were thrown contributions for the temple, or the tribute (of Matthew 17:24). But it is hardly likely that they would be called τὸ γαζ., and we hear of a building by this name in Jos. Antt. xix. 6. 1. Lücke, on John 8:20, believes some part of the court of the women to be intended, perhaps a chamber in connexion with these chests.

Our Lord had at this time taken his leave of the temple, and was going out of it—between Matthew 23 end, and 24.

Verses 41-44

41–44.] THE WIDOW’S MITES. Luke 21:1-4; probably from a common origin.

Verse 42

42.] λεπτά = פרוטות the smallest Jewish coin: see Lightfoot. Mark adds ὅ ἐστιν κοδ. for his Roman readers:—the λεπτόν = ⅛ of an as.

λεπτ. δύο, Bengel remarks, are noticed: she might have kept back one.

Verse 43

43.] πλεῖον—more, in God’s reckoning;—more, for her own stewardship of the goods entrusted to her care. “Non quantum detur, sed quantum resideat, expenditur.” Ambr. in Bp. Wordsw.


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Mark 12:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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