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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Mark 10

 

 

Verses 1-12

Mark 10:1-12 The Question of Divorce.—Mk. represents Jesus as travelling up to Jerusalem through Peræa (p. 33) and not through Samaria. Leaving Capernaum, He crosses the Jordan and resumes His public ministry. Under these circumstances some Pharisees come to Him with their question as to the lawfulness of divorce. They tempt Him by their question, seeking either to bring Him into conflict with the Law or to embroil Him with Herod, whose conduct He must condemn as John did. The former reason is more probable. When Jesus asks His questioners for the verdict of Moses, they naturally appeal to Deuteronomy 24:1 f. This law Jesus sets aside, by laying down a far-reaching principle of interpretation which suggests that "the Mosaic Law was in certain cases a kind of second best," and by citing from Gen. (Mark 1:27) a passage emphasizing the Divine purpose of marriage. Wellhausen would interpret Mark 10:6 thus: "But in Genesis Moses wrote ‘Male and female created He them.'" "Jesus does not overthrow Moses with the higher authority of God, but Deuteronomy with Genesis" (HNT). He corrects Moses by Moses. "Nowhere does Jesus go nearer to denying the absolute divinity, permanence, and perfection of the Law. Yet one can see that he was not himself conscious of doing so" (Montefiore, i. 238). Paul seems to be thinking of Mark 10:9 in 1 Corinthians 7:10. In this discussion Jesus condemned "the dominant Jewish law of divorce." The case of the breaking of marriage by adultery is not directly considered. The exception introduced in Matthew 19:9 probably interprets the teaching of Jesus aright. This passage does not establish the absolute indissolubility of marriage. There is no reason to suppose that Jesus differed from Shammai in regarding adultery as justifying divorce. The additional answer given to the disciples places man and woman on an equality of right and responsibility. Loisy supposes Mark 10:12 to be due to Mk., who is thinking of Roman society. But the saying may be uttered with the case of Herodias in view. (See Allen's defence of the passage, summarised in Montefiore, i. 241f.)


Verses 13-16

Mark 10:13-16. Jesus Blesses the Children.—That the more original form of this story is given by Mk. is clear from the reference to the annoyance of Jesus at the disciples' action (Mark 10:14) and from the naturalness of Mark 10:16. Jesus does not simply place His hands on the children, He puts His arms round them and blesses them much. The verb used is intensive, and far removed from any official benediction. Jesus welcomes and appreciates children, not simply the childlike. It would be tempting to interchange Mark 9:37 and Mark 10:15, but there is no warrant for such a transference. The attitude of Jesus towards children is not, I think, paralleled either in NT or ancient literature (cf. Burkitt, The Gospel History and its Transmission, p. 285f.; "Apart from the gospels, I cannot find that early Christian literature exhibits the slightest sympathy towards the young").


Verses 17-31

Mark 10:17-31. The Great Refusal, and the Obstacle of Riches.—The contrast between this incident and that which precedes it is caught by Shakespeare, Richard II, V. Mark 10:10 f. That Mk. designed the contrast is improbable. The incident in Mark 10:17-22 is clearly historic. The unwillingness of Jesus to be addressed as "good," His referring the seeker after eternal life back to the commandments, and the keen personal interest which the questioner aroused in Jesus ("Jesus looking on form loved him," a phrase peculiar to Mk.)—all these traits guarantee the historicity and originality of the story. Mark 10:18 cannot be intended to lead on to a confession of Divinity; it is rather the expression of that humility which was part of the moral perfection of Jesus. The insertion of the words "Defraud not" is peculiar to Mk., and perhaps it was thought to be appropriate to a rich man (cf. James 5:4). The counsel of perfection (Mark 10:21) which the rich man rejects must not be generalised. It is "a test of obedience and faith which the Lord saw to be necessary in this particular case" (Swete). However, this man was not to be an isolated case. The influence of the passage on St. Antony and St. Francis of Assisi is well known. The addition to the story in the Gospel of the Hebrews, in which Jesus upbraids the man for neglecting the poor, is not in harmony with the rest of the story. In Mark 10:23-31 Jesus enforces the lesson of the man's sorrowful departure. Wellhausen adopts mg. in Mark 10:24 and would transpose Mark 10:24 and Mark 10:25. This is attractive, as it explains the growing astonishment of the disciples, if Jesus first declared it to be difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom, and then difficult for anyone to enter.

The paradox of the camel and the needle's eye must not be weakened by supposing the camel to be a rope or the needle's eye to be a gate. Jesus regards the obstacles between men and the kingdom as almost insurmountable, but He knows that with God's help they may be surmounted. Peter then says the disciples have carried out the demand made by Jesus on the rich man. The saying is prompted perhaps not by complacency, but by the desire to know whether this sacrifice gives them the hope of eternal life. In reply, Jesus assures them of their reward. Perhaps with Wellhausen we should put a full-stop at "hundredfold" in Mark 10:30. This may end the original utterance, and, in any case, the exceeding greatness of the reward is to be realised both now and hereafter. The present reward is the fellowship of the Christian Church—only to be enjoyed by sharing persecution. If Peter's remark were self-congratulatory, Mark 10:31 might be construed as a rebuke, but more probably it means that "many who are now rich and prominent shall in the life to come be last, i.e. excluded, while . . . the disciples who have ‘lost' all on earth, shall be foremost in the Kingdom of God" (Montefiore). Cf. p. 665 and Matthew 5:11 f.*


Verses 32-34

Mark 10:32-34. Jesus Leads the Way to Jerusalem.—This paragraph might be regarded as introducing the last section of the gospel, the story of the Passion. The goal of the journey is now disclosed, and there is to be no more delay. The disciples follow in amazement (cf. Mark 9:15) and in fear. Did they entertain dim forebodings of death (cf. John 11:16), or were they simply overawed by the strange resolution of their Master? The third and most detailed prediction of the end is inserted here by Mk. It has been observed that each prediction seems independent of the others. Jesus might be making His first utterance in each case, and the disciples do not grow in understanding. This impression may be due to Mk.'s lack of skill as a narrator. His view, that Jesus more than once foretold the Passion and that the disciples could not believe it, may still correspond with facts.


Verses 35-45


Verses 46-52

Mark 10:46-52. Blind Bartimæus.—This story is remarkable for the use of the Messianic title, "Son of David," which Jesus does not reject. Critics have taken this as evidence that the reserve about the Messianic claim of Jesus was no longer being practised. But the blind beggar might have jumped to the conclusion, without any change of attitude on the part of the disciples, and his use of the term would not necessarily exert great influence. Certainly from now on Jesus does not enforce silence in this regard. The appeal of the beggar is not rebuked like the confession of the demoniacs. The name Bartimæus is given only in Mk.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Mark 10:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/mark-10.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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