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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Mark 1

 

 

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Verse 1

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. By the "Gospel" of Jesus Christ here is evidently meant the blessed story which our evangelist is about to tell of His life, ministry, death, resurrection and glorification, and of the begun gathering of believers in His name. The abruptness with which he announces his subject, and the energetic brevity with which, passing by all preceding events, he hastens over the ministry of John and records the baptism and temptation of Jesus-as if impatient to come to the public life of the Lord of glory-have often been noticed as characteristic of this Gospel; a Gospel whose direct, practical power and singularly vivid setting impart to it a preciousness special to itself. What strikes everyone is, that though the briefest of all the Gospels, this is in some of the principal scenes of our Lord's history the fullest. But what is not so obvious is, that wherever the finer and subtler feeling of humanity, or the deeper and more special hues of our Lord's character were brought out, these, though they should be lightly passed over by all the other Evangelist, are sure to be found here, and in touches of such quiet delicacy and power, that though scarce observed by the cursory reader, they leave indelible impressions upon all the thoughtful, and furnish a key to much that is in the other Gospels.

These few opening words of the Second Gospel are enough to show, that though it was the purpose of this Evanglist to record chiefly the outward and palpable facts of our Lord's public life, he recognized in Him, in common with the Fourth Evangelist, the glory of the Only begotten of the Father.


Verse 2

As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

As it is written in the Prophets (Malachi 3:1; and Isaiah 40:3),

Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.


Verse 3

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. The second of these quotations is given by Matthew and Luke in the same connection, but they reserve the former quotation until they have occasion to return to the Baptist, after his imprisonment (Matthew 11:10; Luke 7:27). [Instead of the words, "as it is written in the Prophets," there is weighty evidence in favour of the following reading: 'As it is written in Isaiah the prophet.' This reading is adopted by all the latest critical editors. If it be the true one, it is to be explained thus-that of the two quotations, the one from Malachi is but a later development of the great primary one in Isaiah, from which the whole prophetic matter here quoted takes its name. But the received text is quoted by Irenaeus, before the end of the second century, and the evidence in its favour is greater in amount, if not in weight. The chief objection to it is, that if this was the true reading, it is difficult to see how the other one could have gotten in at all; whereas, if it be not the true reading, it is very easy to see how it found its way into the text, as it removes the startling difficulty of a prophecy beginning with the words of Malachi being ascribed to Isaiah.] For the exposition, see the notes at Matthew 3:1-6; Matthew 3:11.


Verses 4-8

John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verses 9-11

And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

For the exposition, see the notes at Matthew 3:13-17.


Verse 12-13

And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.

For the exposition, see the notes at Matthew 4:1-11.


Verses 14-20

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

See the notes at Matthew 4:12-22.


Verse 21

And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.

And they went into Capernaum (see the note at Matthew 4:13) and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught , [ tois (Greek #3588) sabbasin (Greek #4521)]. This should have been rendered, 'straightway on the sabbaths He entered into the synagogue and taught,' or 'continued to teach.' The meaning is, that as He began this practice on the very first Sabbath after coming to settle at Capernaum, so He continued it regularly thereafter.


Verse 22

And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.

And they were astonished at his doctrine - or 'teaching' [ didachee (Greek #1322)] - referring quite as much to the manner as the matter of it.

For he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. See the notes at Matthew 7:28-29.


Verse 23

And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,

And there was in their synagogue a man with (literally, 'in') and unclean spirit - that is, so entirely under demoniacal power that his personality was sunk for the time in that of the spirit. The frequency with which this character of 'impurity' is ascribed to evil spirits-some twenty times in the Gospels-is not to be overlooked. For more on this subject, see the notes at Matthew 4:12-25, Remark 4.

And he cried out,


Verse 24

Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

Saying, Let [us] alone - or rather, perhaps, 'ah!' expressive of mingled of astonishment and terror. [The exclamation Ea (Greek #1436) is probably not here the imperative of the verb ean (Greek #1437), to 'permit'-as the Vulgate in Luke 4:34. Luther, and our own version take it, or, at least, had ceased to be so regarded-but an interjection = '


Verse 25

And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.

And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. A glorious word of command. Bengel remarks that it was only the testimony borne to Himself which our Lord meant to silence. That he should afterward cry out for fear or rage (Mark 1:26) He would right willingly permit.


Verse 26

And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.

And when the unclean spirit had torn him. Luke (Luke 4:35) says, "When he had thrown him in the midst." Malignant cruelty-just showing what he would have done, if permitted to go further: it was a last fling!

And cried with a loud voice - the voice of enforced submission and despair --

He came out of him. Luke (Luke 4:35) adds, "and hurt him not." Thus impotent were the malignity and rage of the impure spirit when under the restraint of "the Stronger One than the strong one armed" (Luke 11:21-22).


Verse 27

And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.

And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine ('teaching') is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. The audience, rightly apprehending that the miracle was performed to illustrate the teaching and display the character and glory of the Teacher, begin by asking what novel kind of teaching this could be, which was so marvelously attested. [The various reading which the latest editors prefer here - ti (Greek #5100) estin (Greek #2076) touto (Greek #5124); didachee (Greek #1322) kainee (Greek #2537) kat' (Greek #2596) exousian (Greek #1849) kai (Greek #2532) tois (Greek #3588) pneumasin (Greek #4151) ... autoo (Greek #846), etc.-has too slender support, we think, and is harsh.]


Verse 28

And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.

And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee , [ holeen (Greek #3650) teen (Greek #3588) perichooron (Greek #4066) tees (Greek #3588) Galilaias (Greek #1056).] - rather, 'the whole region of Galilee;' though some, as Meyer and Ellicott, explain it of the country surrounding Galilee.


Verse 29

And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue - so also in Luke 4:38.

They entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. The mention of these four-which is special to Mark-is the first of those traces of Peter's hand in this Gospel, of which we shall come to manymore. (See Introduction.) The house being his, and the disease and cure so nearly affecting himself, it is interesting to observe this minute specification of the number and names of the witnesses; interesting also as the first occasion on which the sacred triumvirate of Peter and James and John are selected from among the rest, to be a threefold cord of testimony to certain events in their Lord's life (see the note at Mark 5:37) - Andrew being present on this occasion, as the occurrence took place in his own house.


Verse 30

But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.

But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever. Luke as was natural in "the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14), describes it professionally; calling it a "great fever" [ puretoo (Greek #4446) megaloo (Greek #3173)], and thus distinguishing it from that lighter kind which the Greek physicians were wont to call "small fevers," as Galen, quoted by Wetstein, tells us.

And anon - or 'immediately' they tell him of her-naturally hoping that His compassion and power toward one of His own disciples would not be less signally displayed than toward the demonized stranger in the synagogue.


Verse 31

And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

And he came and took her by the hand - rather, 'And advancing, He took her,' etc. - [ proselthoon (Greek #4334), etc.]. The Beloved Physician again is very specific: "And He stood over her" [ epistas (Greek #2186) epanoo (Greek #1883) autees (Greek #846), Luke 4:39].

And lifted her up. This act of condescension much felt doubtless by Peter, is recorded only by Mark.

And immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them - preparing their Sabbath-meal; in token both of the perfectness and immediateness of the cure, and of her gratitude to the glorious Healer.


Verse 32

And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.

And at even, when the sun did set - so Matthew 8:16. Luke (Luke 4:40) says it was setting [ dunontos (Greek #1416)].

They brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils - `the demonized.' From Luke 13:14 we see how unlawful they would have deemed it to bring their sick to Jesus for a cure during the Sabbath hours. They waited, therefore, until these were over, and then brought them in crowds. Our Lord afterward took repeated occasion to teach the people by example, even at the risk of His own life, how superstitious a straining of the Sabbath-rest this was.


Verse 33

And all the city was gathered together at the door.

And all the city was gathered together at the door - of Peter's house; that is, the sick and those who brought them, and the wondering spectators. This bespeaks the presence of an eye-witness, and is one of those lively specimens of word-painting so frequent in this Gospel.


Verse 34

And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.

And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils. In Matthew 8:16 it is said, "He cast out the spirits with His word;" or rather, 'with a word' [ logoo (Greek #3056)] - a word of command.

And suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. Evidently they would have spoken, if permitted, proclaiming His Messiahship in such terms as in the synagogue; but once in one day, and that testimony immediately silenced, was enough. See the note at Mark 1:24. After this account of His miracles of healing, we have in Matthew 8:17 this pregnant quotation, "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying (Isaiah 53:4), Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." On this pregnant quotation, see Remark 2 below.


Verse 35

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

And in the morning - that is, of the day after this remarkable Sabbath; or, on the First day of the week. His choosing this day to inaugurate a new and glorious stage of His public work, should be noted by the reader.

Rising up a great while before day , [ prooi (Greek #4404) ennuchon (Greek #1773) or ennucha (Greek #1773) lian (Greek #3029)] - 'while it was yet night,' or long before daybreak, he went out-from Peter's house, where He slept, all unperceived.

And departed into a solitary place, and there prayed , [ proseeucheto (Greek #4336)] - or, 'continued in prayer.' He was about to begin His first preaching and healing Circuit; and as on similar solemn occasions (Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12; Luke 9:18; Luke 9:28-29; Mark 6:46), He spends some time in special prayer, doubtless with a view to it. What would one not give to have been, during the stillness of those grey morning-hours within hearing-not of His "strong crying and tears," for He had scare arrived at the stage for that-but of His calm, exalted anticipations of the work which lay immediately before Him, and the outpourings of His soul about it into the bosom of Him that sent Him! 'The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; and I am going to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Now, Lord, let it be seen that grace is poured into These lips, and that God hath blessed Me forever: Here am I, send Me: I must work the works of Him that sent Me while it is day; and, lo, I come! I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.' He had doubtless enjoyed some uninterrupted hours of such communings with His heavenly Father before His friends from Capernaum arrived in search of Him. As for them, they doubtless expected, after such a day of miracles, that the next day would witness similar manifestations. When morning came, Peter, loath to break in upon the repose of his glorious Guest, would await His appearance beyond the usual hour; but at length, wondering at the stillness, and gently coming to see where the Lord lay, he finds it-like the grave afterward-empty! Speedily a party is made up to go in search of Him, Peter naturally leading the way.


Verse 36

And Simon and they that were with him followed after him.

And Simon and they that were with him followed after him , [ katediooxan (Greek #2614)] - rather, 'pressed after Him.' Luke (Luke 4:42) says, "The multitudes sought after Him" [ hoi (Greek #3588) ochloi (Greek #3793) epezeetoun (Greek #1934) auton (Greek #846)]: but this would be a party from the town. Mark, having his information from Peter himself, speaks only of what related directly to him. "They that were with him" would probably be Andrew his brother, James and John, with a few other choice brethren.


Verse 37

And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.

And when they had found him - evidently after some search. [The reading adopted here by Tischendorf and Tregelles - kai (Greek #2532) heuron (Greek #2147) auton (Greek #846) kai (Greek #2532) legousin (Greek #3004), 'And they found Him and said'-seems to us without sufficient evidence.]

They said unto him, All men seek for thee. By this time, "the multitudes" who, according to Luke, sought after Him" - and who, on going to Peter's house, and there learning that Peter and a few more were gone in search of Him, had set out on the same errand-would have arrived, and "came unto Him and stayed Him, that He should not depart from them" (Luke 4:42); all now urging His return to their impatient townsmen.


Verse 38

And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.

And he said unto them, Let us go - or, according to another reading, 'Let us go elsewhere' [though the word allachou (G237a), added by Tischendorf and Tregelles, has scarcely sufficient authority].

Into the next towns , [ eis (Greek #1519) tas (Greek #3588) echomenas (Greek #2192) koomopoleis (Greek #2969)] - rather, 'unto the neighbouring village-towns;' meaning those places intermediate between towns and villages, with which the western side of the sea of Galilee was studded.

That I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth - not from Capernaum, as De Wette miserably interprets, nor from His privacy in the desert place, as Meyer, no better; but from the Father. Compare John 16:28, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world," etc.-another proof, by the way, that the lofty phraseology of the Fourth Gospel was not unknown to the authors of the others, though their design and point of view are different. The language in which our Lord's reply is given by Luke (Luke 4:43) expresses the high necessity under which, in this as in every other step of His work, He acted - "I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also; for therefore" [ eis (Greek #1519) touto (Greek #5124)] - or, 'to this end' - "am I sent." An act of self-denial it doubtless was, to resist such pleadings to return to Capernaum. But there were overmastering considerations on the other side.

Remarks:

(1) How terrific is the consciousness in evil spirits, when brought into the presence of Christ, of a total opposition of feelings and separation of interests between them and Him! But how grand is their sense of impotence and subjection, and the expression of this, which His presence wrings out from them! Knowing full well that He and they cannot dwell together, they expect, on His approach to them, a summons to quit, and, haunted by their guilty fears, they wonder if the judgment of the great day be coming on them before its time. How analogous is this to the feelings of the wicked and ungodly among men-opening up glimpses of that dreadful oneness in fundamental character between the two parties, which explains the final sentence, "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels"! (Matthew 25:41).

(2) The remarkable words which the first Evangelist quotes from Isaiah 53:4 - "HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND BARE OUR SICKNESSES" - involve two difficulties, the patient study of which, however, will be rewarded by deeper conceptions of the work of Christ. First, the prediction is applied, in 1 Peter 2:24, to Christ's "bearing our sins in His own body on the tree," whereas here it is applied to the removal of bodily maladies. Again, the Evangelist seems to view the diseases which our Lord cured as only transferred from the patients to Himself. But both difficulties find their explanation in that profound and comprehensive view of our Lord's redeeming work which a careful study of Scripture reveals. When He took our nature upon Him and made it His own, He identified Himself with its sin and curse, that He might roll them away on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:2), and felt all the maladies and ills that sin had inflicted on humanity as His own; His great conscience drinking in the sense of that sin of which Himself knew none, and His mighty heart feeling all the ills He saw around Him as attaching to Himself. And as we have already seen that His whole ministry of healing, as respects the body, was but a visible exhibition and illustration of His mission "to destroy the works of the devil," so the eye which rightly apprehends the vysible miracle, piercing downward, will discover the deeper and more spiritual aspect of it as a portion of the Redeemer's work, and see the sin-bearing Lamb of God Himself, the Bearing, in this sense, of every ill of sinful humanity that He cured. But the subject is fitter for devout thought than adequate expression.

(3) Did Jesus, before He started on His first missionary tour, "rising up a great while before it was day," steal away unperceived even by those under whose roof He slept, and hieing Him to a solitary spot, there spend the morning hours in still communion with His Father, no doubt about the work that lay before Him? And will not His servants learn of Him not only to sanctify their whole work by prayer, but to set apart special seasons of communion with God before entering on its greater stages, or any important step of it, and for this end to withdraw as much as possible into undisturbed solitude?

(4) When we find our Lord, from the very outset of His ministry, acting on that great principle enunciated by Himself, "I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work" (John 9:4); and actuated by this principle, disregarding the demands of wearied nature and the solicitations of friends, what an example is thus furnished to His ministers in every age, of self-denial and devotion to their work! Oh, if the Lord of the harvest would but thrust forth such labourers into his harvest, what work might we not see done!

(5) What an affecting contrast does Capernaum here present to its final condition! Ravished with the wonderful works and the matchless teaching of Him who had taken up His abode among them, they are loath to part with Him; and while the Gadarenes prayed Him to depart out of their coasts, they are fain to stay Him, that He should not depart from them. And if our Lord declined to settle in Nazareth, and even to do there the mighty works which He did at Capernaum, because of the disrespect with which He was regarded in the place where He had been brought up, how grateful to His feelings would be this early welcome at Capernaum! But, alas! in them was fulfilled that great law of the divine kingdom, "Many that are first shall be last." What a warning is this to similarly favoured spots!


Verse 39

And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verses 40-45

And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

For the exposition, see the notes at Matthew 8:1-4.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Mark 1:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/mark-1.html. 1871-8.


Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 19th, 2017
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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