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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Mark 11



Verse 1

Unto Bethphage and Bethany (εις ητπαγη και ητανιανeis Bēthphagē kai Bēthanian). Both together as in Luke 19:29, though Matthew 21:1 mentions only Bethphage. See discussion in Matthew for this and the Mount of Olives.

Verse 2

As ye enter (εισπορευομενοιeisporeuomenoi). So also Luke 19:30. Present middle participle.

Colt (πωλονpōlon). So Luke 19:30. Matthew 21:2 speaks of the ass (ονονonon) also.

Whereon no one ever yet sat (επ ον ουδεις αντρωπων εκατισενeph' hon oudeis anthrōpōn ekathisen). See Luke 19:30.

Verse 3

The Lord (ο Κυριοςho Kurios). So Matt. and Luke. See note on Matthew 21:3 for discussion of this word applied to Jesus by himself.

He will send him back (apostellei). Present indicative in futuristic sense. Matthew 21:3 has the future apostelei f0).

Verse 4

A colt tied at the door without in the open street (πωλον δεδεμενον προς τυραν εχω επι του αμποδουpōlon dedemenon pros thuran exō epi tou amphodou). A carefully drawn picture. The colt was outside the house in the street, but fastened (bound, perfect passive participle) to the door. “The better class of houses were built about an open court, from which a passage way under the house led to the street outside. It was at this outside opening to the street that the colt was tied” (Gould). The word αμποδοςamphodos (from αμπωamphō both, and οδοςhodos road) is difficult. It apparently means road around a thing, a crooked street as most of them were (cf. Straight Street in Acts 9:11). It occurs only here in the N.T. besides D in Acts 19:28. It is very common in the papyri for vicus or “quarter.”

And they loose him (και λυουσιν αυτονkai luousin auton). Dramatic present tense. Perhaps Peter was one of those sent this time as he was later (Luke 22:8). If so, that explains Mark‘s vivid details here.

Verse 5

Certain of those that stood there (τινες των εκει εστηκοτωνtines tōn ekei hestēkotōn). Perfect active participle, genitive plural. Bystanders. Luke 19:33 terms them “the owners thereof” (οι κυριοι αυτουhoi kurioi autou). The lords or masters of the colt. They make a natural protest.

Verse 7

They bring the colt unto Jesus (περουσιν τον πωλον προς τον Ιησουνpherousin ton pōlon pros ton Iēsoun). Vivid historical present. The owners acquiesced as Jesus had predicted. Evidently friends of Jesus.

Verse 8

Branches (στιβαδαςstibadas). A litter of leaves and rushes from the fields. Textus Receptus spells this word στοιβαδαςstoibadas Matthew 21:8 has κλαδουςkladous from κλαωklaō to break, branches broken or cut from trees. John 12:13 uses the branches of the palm trees (τα βαια των ποινικωνta baia tōn phoinikōn), “the feathery fronds forming the tufted crown of the tree” (Vincent). That is to say, some of the crowd did one of these things, some another. See notes on Matthew 21:4-9 for discussion of other details. The deliberate conduct of Jesus on this occasion could have but one meaning. It was the public proclamation of himself as the Messiah, now at last for his “hour” has come. The excited crowds in front (hoi proagontes) and behind (hoi akolouthountes) fully realize the significance of it all. Hence their unrestrained enthusiasm. They expect Jesus, of course, now to set up his rule in opposition to that of Caesar, to drive Rome out of Palestine, to conquer the world for the Jews.

Verse 11

When he had looked round about upon all things (περιβλεπσαμενος πανταperiblepsamenos panta). Another Markan detail in this aorist middle participle. Mark does not give what Luke 19:39-46 has nor what Matthew 21:10-17 does. But it is all implied in this swift glance at the temple before he went out to Bethany with the Twelve, it being now eventide (οπσε ηδη ουσης της ωραςopse ēdē ousēs tēs hōrās). Genitive absolute, the hour being already late. What a day it had been! What did the apostles think now?

Verse 12

On the morrow (τηι επαυριονtēi epaurion). Matthew 21:18 has “early” (πρωιprōi), often of the fourth watch before six a.m. This was Monday morning. The Triumphal Entry had taken place on our Sunday, the first day of the week.

Verse 13

If haply he might find anything thereon (ει αρα τι ευρησει εν αυτηιei ara ti heurēsei en autēi). This use of ειei and the future indicative for purpose (to see if, a sort of indirect question) as in Acts 8:22; Acts 17:27. Jesus was hungry as if he had had no food on the night before after the excitement and strain of the Triumphal Entry. The early figs in Palestine do not get ripe before May or June, the later crop in August. It was not the season of figs, Mark notes. But this precocious tree in a sheltered spot had put out leaves as a sign of fruit. It had promise without performance.

Verse 14

No man eat fruit from thee henceforward forever (Μηκετι εις τον αιωνα εκ σου μηδεις καρπον παγοιMēketi eis ton aiōna ek sou mēdeis karpon phagoi). The verb παγοιphagoi is in the second aorist active optative. It is a wish for the future that in its negative form constitutes a curse upon the tree. Matthew 21:19 has the aorist subjunctive with double negative ου μηκετι γενηταιou mēketi genētai a very strong negative prediction that amounts to a prohibition. See Matthew. Jesus probably spoke in the Aramaic on this occasion.

And his disciples heard it (και ηκουον οι ματηται αυτουkai ēkouon hoi mathētai autou). Imperfect tense, “were listening to it,” and evidently in amazement, for, after all, it was not the fault of the poor fig tree that it had put out leaves. One often sees peach blossoms nipped by the frost when they are too precocious in the changeable weather. But Jesus offered no explanation at this time.

Verse 15

Began to cast out (ηρχατο εκβαλλεινērxato ekballein). Mark is fond of “began.” See note on Matthew 21:12. for discussion of this second cleansing of the temple in its bearing on that in John 2:14.

Money-changers (kollubistōn). This same late word in Matthew 21:12 which see for discussion. It occurs in papyri.

Verse 16

Through the temple (δια του ιερουdia tou hierou). The temple authorities had prohibited using the outer court of the temple through the Precinct as a sort of short cut or by-path from the city to the Mount of Olives. But the rule was neglected and all sorts of irreverent conduct was going on that stirred the spirit of Jesus. This item is given only in Mark. Note the use of ιναhina after ηπιεēphie (imperfect tense) instead of the infinitive (the usual construction).

Verse 17

For all the nations (πασιν τοις ετνεσινpāsin tois ethnesin). Mark alone has this phrase from Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11. The people as well as the temple authorities were guilty of graft, extortion, and desecration of the house of prayer. Jesus assumes and exercises Messianic authority and dares to smite this political and financial abuse. Some people deny the right of the preacher to denounce such abuses in business and politics even when they invade the realm of morals and religion. But Jesus did not hesitate.

Verse 18

Sought how they might destroy him (εζητουν πως αυτον απολεσωσινezētoun pōs auton apolesōsin). Imperfect indicative, a continuous attitude and endeavour. Note deliberative subjunctive with πωςpōs retained in indirect question. Here both Sadducees (chief priests) and Pharisees (scribes) combine in their resentment against the claims of Jesus and in the determination to kill him. Long ago the Pharisees and the Herodians had plotted for his death (Mark 3:6). Now in Jerusalem the climax has come right in the temple.

For they feared him (εποβουντο γαρephobounto gar). Imperfect middle indicative. Hence in wrath they planned his death and yet they had to be cautious. The Triumphal Entry had shown his power with the people. And now right in the temple itself “all the multitude was astonished at his teaching” (πας ο οχλος εχεπλησσετο επι τηι διδαχηι αυτουpās ho ochlos exeplēsseto epi tēi didachēi autou). Imperfect passive. The people looked on Jesus as a hero, as the Messiah. This verse aptly describes the crisis that has now come between Christ and the Sanhedrin.

Verse 19

Every evening (οταν οπσε εγενετοhotan opse egeneto). Literally, whenever evening came on or more exactly whenever it became late. The use of οτανhotan (οτε ανhote an) with the aorist indicative is like οπου ανhopou an with the imperfect indicative (εισεπορευετοeiseporeueto) and οσοι ανhosoi an with the aorist indicative (ηπσαντοhēpsanto) in Mark 6:56. The use of ανan makes the clause more indefinite and general, as here, unless it renders it more definite, a curious result, but true. Luke 21:37 has the accusative of extent of time, “the days,” “the nights.” The imperfect tense he (or they) would go (εχεπορευετο εχεπορευοντοexeporeueto exeporeuonto) out of the city suggests “whenever” as the meaning here.

Verse 20

As they passed by in the morning (παραπορευομενοι πρωιparaporeuomenoi prōi). Literally, passing by in the morning. The next morning. They went back by the lower road up the Mount of Olives and came down each morning by the steep and more direct way. Hence they saw it. Matthew 21:20 does not separate the two mornings as Mark does.

From the roots (εκ ριζωνek rizōn). Mark alone gives this detail with εχηραμμενηνexērammenēn perfect passive predicate participle from χηραινωxērainō f0).

Verse 21

Peter calling to remembrance (αναμνηστεις ο Πετροςanamnēstheis ho Petros). First aorist participle, being reminded. Only in Mark and due to Peter‘s story. For his quick memory see also Mark 14:72.

Which thou cursedst (ην κατηρασωhēn katērasō). First aorist middle indicative second person singular from καταραομαιkataraomai It almost sounds as if Peter blamed Jesus for what he had done to the fig tree.

Verse 22

Have faith in God (εχετε πιστιν τεουechete pistin theou). Objective genitive τεουtheou as in Galatians 3:26; Romans 3:22, Romans 3:26. That was the lesson for the disciples from the curse on the fig tree so promptly fulfilled. See this point explained by Jesus in Matthew 21:21 which see for “this mountain” also.

Verse 23

Shall not doubt in his heart (μη διακριτηι εν τηι καρδιαι αυτουmē diakrithēi en tēi kardiāi autou). First aorist passive subjunctive with ος ανhos an The verb means a divided judgment (διαdia from δυοduo two, and κρινωkrinō to judge). Wavering doubt. Not a single act of doubt (διακριτηιdiakrithēi), but continued faith (πιστευηιpisteuēi).

Cometh to pass (γινεταιginetai). Futuristic present middle indicative.

Verse 24

Believe that ye have received them (πιστευετε οτι ελαβετεpisteuete hoti elabete). That is the test of faith, the kind that sees the fulfilment before it happens. ΕλαβετεElabete is second aorist active indicative, antecedent in time to πιστευετεpisteuete unless it be considered the timeless aorist when it is simultaneous with it. For this aorist of immediate consequence see note on John 15:6.

Verse 25

Whensoever ye stand (οταν στηκετεhotan stēkete). Late form of present indicative στηκωstēkō from perfect stem εστηκαhestēka In lxx. Note use of οτανhotan as in Mark 11:19. Jesus does not mean by the use of “stand” here to teach that this is the only proper attitude in prayer.

That your Father also may forgive you (ινα και ο πατηρ απηι υμινhina kai ho patēr aphēi humin). Evidently God‘s willingness to forgive is limited by our willingness to forgive others. This is a solemn thought for all who pray. Recall the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:12, Matthew 6:14.

Verse 26

This verse is omitted by Westcott and Hort. The Revised Version puts it in a footnote.

Verse 27

The chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders (οι αρχιερεις και οι γραμματεις και οι πρεσβυτεροιhoi archiereis kai hoi grammateis kai hoi presbuteroi). Note the article with each separate group as in Luke 20:1 and Matthew 21:23. These three classes were in the Sanhedrin. Clearly a large committee of the Sanhedrin including both Sadducees and Pharisees here confront Jesus in a formal attack upon his authority for cleansing the temple and teaching in it.

Verse 28

By what authority (εν ποιαι εχουσιαιen poiāi exousiāi). This question in all three Gospels was a perfectly legitimate one. See notes on Matthew 21:23-27 for discussion. Note present subjunctive here (hina tauta poiēis), that you keep on doing these things.

Verse 30

Answer me (αποκριτητε μοιapokrithēte moi). This sharp demand for a reply is only in Mark. See also Mark 11:29. Jesus has a right to take this turn because of John‘s direct relation to himself. It was not a dodge, but a home thrust that cleared the air and defined their attitude both to John and Jesus. They rejected John as they now reject Jesus.

Verse 31

If we say (εαν ειπωμενean eipōmen). Third-class condition with aorist active subjunctive. The alternatives are sharply presented in their secret conclave. They see the two horns of the dilemma clearly and poignantly. They know only too well what Jesus will say in reply. They wish to break Christ‘s power with the multitude, but a false step now will turn the laugh on them. They see it.

Verse 32

But should we say (αλλα ειπωμενalla eipōmen). Deliberative subjunctive with aorist active subjunctive again. It is possible to supply εανean from Mark 11:31 and treat it as a condition as there. So Matthew 21:26 and Luke 20:6. But in Mark the structure continues rugged after “from men” with anacoluthon or even aposiopesis - “they feared the people” Mark adds. Matthew has it: “We fear the multitude.” Luke puts it: “all the people will stone us.” All three Gospels state the popular view of John as a prophet. Mark‘s “verily” is οντωςontōs really, actually. They feared John though dead as much as Herod Antipas did. His martyrdom had deepened his power over the people and disrespect towards his memory now might raise a storm (Swete).

Verse 33

We know not (ουκ οιδαμενouk oidamen). It was for the purpose of getting out of the trap into which they had fallen by challenging the authority of Jesus. Their self-imposed ignorance, refusal to take a stand about the Baptist who was the Forerunner of Christ, absolved Jesus from a categorical reply. But he has no notion of letting them off at this point.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Mark 11:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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