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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Mark 2

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

Mark 2:1 to Mark 3:6. A group of incidents designed to illustrate the growth of hostility on the part of scribes and Pharisees. At first they merely make silent criticisms (Mark 2:6), then they question the disciples (Mark 2:16), later, they challenge Jesus Himself (Mark 2:18), and later still, they resolve to get rid of Him (Mark 3:6). The theme continues into the following section (see HNT, p. 18). The arrangement of these incidents is due to the evangelist and is not necessarily chronological.


Verses 1-12

Mark 2:1-12. The Healing of the Paralytic.—Loisy (pp. 86-88) regards the discussion of the right to forgive sins as artificially interwoven by Mk. into a simpler story of healing. He says it is not like Jesus to prove a spiritual claim by the argument of a miracle. Jesus refused to work signs." The power to forgive is also asserted by Jesus personally as a Messianic endowment. This conflicts with the attitude towards the Messianic secret (p. 670) preserved elsewhere in the gospel. But forgiveness is undoubtedly one of the blessings of the kingdom (cf. Mark 4:12). It is the offer of forgiveness which is challenged by the Pharisees when they ask why Jesus eats with sinners, and why His disciples do not fast. There is an inward connexion between the three incidents in Mark 2. The work of evangelization requires Jesus to forgive sins as well as to drive out demons and heal diseases. These are so many inseparable features of the gospel (cf. Luke 4:18 f. and Matthew 11:5*, where the miracles must not be allegorized, as Sohmiedel suggests). Bodily healing and forgiveness go together. Because of their union the visible influence of Jesus over disease confirms His power to forgive, which cannot be tested by sight. It is as herald of the kingdom rather than as Messiah that Jesus claims this authority. Matthew 9:8 suggests either that the term "Son of Man" is not Messianic in Mark 2:10 or that the term is due to the evangelist. But Matthew 9:8 means, not that men as men have this power, but that a fresh gift of God has come to mankind in and through the announcement of the nearness of the kingdom. A new ministry of reconciliation is entrusted to men.

Mark 2:1. Follow mg.

Mark 2:4. Wellhausen suggests that "they uncovered the roof" is a misunderstanding of an Aram. phrase which means "they brought him up on to the roof." This is probably correct, and in that case the picturesque detail about breaking up the roof may be an addition inspired by the false rendering of an Aram. original.

Mark 2:5. "Teknon," an affectionate form of address. Cf. Luke 15:31, and Csar's last words, "Kai su, Teknon," not "Et tu, Brute."

Mark 2:6. It should be noted, Jesus is accused of blasphemy, not of laxity as to conditions of forgiveness (see Montefiore, i. 78).

Mark 2:8. Mk. attributes supernatural knowledge to Jesus. John 2:25 does not lack a Synoptic root.

Mark 2:9; Mark 2:11 f. "Arise, take up thy bed and walk." The threefold repetition reflects popular oral tradition. The proof of the complete cure by carrying one's bed is also a feature in popular tales of healing. Cf. Lucan, Philopatris, xi., "Midas picked up the bed on which he had been lying and went off to the country." The word for "bed" in Mk. is a vulgar one, and implies the small mattress of a poor man.


Verses 13-17

Mark 2:13-17. The Call of Levi. Jesus Eats with Tax-Collectors.—These two incidents are only loosely connected with each other and with what precedes. The notes of time are of the vaguest. The call of Levi, who is collecting tolls for the Tetrarch of Galilee on the highroad (p. 615), closely resembles the call of the first four disciples. There is nothing to suggest that the meal is a thanksgiving feast. In the large company of guests, some Pharisees (pp. 624, 666f.) mingle. They appear here in the gospel for the first time. The idea of holiness through separation is involved in their very name. Tax-collectors had a bad reputation in ancient society. A passage in Lucian classes them with adulterers and sycophants. The "sinners" seem to be people who were careless of the Law and perhaps even loose livers. It is very strange that Jesus the prophet chooses such company. Jesus meets the Pharisaic suggestion with a proverbial saying and a statement of His own aim in evangelizing. "He did not avoid sinners, but sought them out: this was a new and sublime contribution to the development of religion and morality" (Montefiore, i. 86).

Mark 2:15. The concluding words are taken by Swete and Wellhausen with the next verse. "And there followed also scribes of the Pharisaic party." This is attractive.

Mark 2:16. "Scribes of the Pharisees" an unusual and awkward phrase, as, according to Well-hausen, there were no scribes of the Sadducees.

Mark 2:17. Loisy (p. 93) and J. Weiss attribute the last sentence to the evangelist, as the reference to His mission is theological, and if genuine the saying involves ironical use of Pharisaic terms. These objections are not final. Jesus was certainly conscious of a Divine mission, and may well have defined it in such terms.


Verses 18-22

Mark 2:18-22. The Question of Fasting.—Both the followers of John and the Pharisees agree in the practice of fasting to express repentance. Jesus called men into an experience of joy, surely the joy of forgiveness. By His presence and call He made men feel as if they were taking part in a bridal feast while they waited for the kingdom. They were keeping festival in anticipation of yet intenser joy. This new life could not consort with the old traditional forms of religion. This is the broad sense of the section. In many details it is difficult. The union of disciples of John and the Pharisees seems unnatural. Mark 2:20 is clearly a prediction of the Master's death. But it is only after the great confession (Mark 8:29) that Jesus begins to speak of His death even to His disciples. If genuine, the saying belongs to a later period. Some scholars treat Mark 2:20 as the evangelist's afterthought. In that case Mark 2:19 in its present form must be surrendered too, as it is bound up with Mark 2:20 (see Wellhausen). Possibly some simpler saying has been recast by Mk. That Mark 2:20 refers to the death of John the Baptist is improbable. His disciples did not begin to fast after his death. Fasting was part of his call to repentance. In Mark 2:21 and Mark 2:22 we have two brief parables drawn from home-life. The piece of undressed cloth tends to shrink, and if used to patch an old garment will make a fresh rent in it. Wineskins worn thin with use and time cannot resist the fermentation of new wine. They crack if men attempt to preserve new wine in them (cf. Joshua 9:13). These parables do not necessarily belong to the discussion that immediately precedes them. "The protest against half-heartedness and false compromise might have been spoken on many occasions. They indicate the breach between the original Christian temper and Judaism in general." Mark 2:22 especially shows that the new religion must make new forms for itself. For Jesus' use of illustrations in couples, cf. Oxford Studies in the Synoptic Problem, 195.


Verses 23-28

Mark 2:23-28. Sabbath Observance.—This incident occurs in the summer: "the only clear reference to a season of the year in the gospel." The disciples offend by reaping on the Sabbath. The evangelist brings together two answers. The first admits the validity of the Law and pleads historic exceptions. The second lays down a general principle by which the Law is to be interpreted. The aim of the Law must be considered. On Mark 2:27 Sabatier comments: "A saying, wonderful alike in its depth and its simplicity, which denies not only the Pharisaic idea of the Sabbath but also the scholastic idea of the Church and the absolutist notion of the State."

Mark 2:26. The reference to Abiathar is a mistake, probably due to the evangelist, possibly to a glossator. But the act of David is described with some traditional embellishments. David's entry into the sanctuary and the presence of his companions are suppositions not necessarily involved in 1 Samuel 21:1-7 (Loisy, p. 101).

Mark 2:27. And he said unto them: a simple formula frequently prefixed to detailed sayings of Jesus, and often used by Mk. to link together utterances which came to him isolated in tradition; cf. Mark 4:11; Mark 4:13, Mark 7:9, Mark 9:1.

Mark 2:28. If "Son of Man" (Mark 8:31*, p. 691) be Messianic, the verse is best taken as representing the evangelist's conclusion. The alternative is that it means "man."

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Mark 2:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/mark-2.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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