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Bible Commentaries

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
Mark 7

 

 

Verse 1

Mark 7:1. And there are gathered together unto him. Against Him, as we see.

From Jerusalem. They had recently come.


Verses 1-23

The history of the last year of our Lord’s ministry begins here. See notes on Matthew 15:1-20. Mark introduces several independent details: the fact that the opposers came from Jerusalem (Mark 7:1), the explanation of the Jewish washings (Mark 7:3-4); but he omits the remarks to the disciples about the Pharisees taking offence (Matthew 15:12-14).


Verse 2

Mark 7:2. When they saw, i.e., on some very recent occasion.

That some of his disciples ate their bread. ‘This incident naturally brings to view the constant and intrusive surveillance to which our Lord and His disciples were subjected’ (J. A. Alexander).

Defiled, or ‘common.’ Comp. Acts 10:14-15.

That is unwashen hands. This explanation shows that the Gospel was written for Gentile readers.—The clause: ‘they found fault,’ is to be omitted, the construction is broken by the explanation of Mark 7:3-4.


Verse 3

Mark 7:3. All the Jews. Pharisaism had the upper hand.

Diligently, lit., ‘with the fist’ The two interpretations now most generally adopted are: (1) Actually ‘with the fist,’ as a peculiar ceremony on such occasions. Probably it was part of the rite, that the washing hand was shut; Because it might have been thought that the open hand engaged in washing would make the other unclean, or be made unclean by it, after having itself been washed’ (Lange.) (2) ‘Diligently,’ thoroughly, in accordance with a Hebrew expression, which uses the fist as meaning strength. But Mark is giving an explanation to Gentile readers, and he would hardly use a Hebrew expression. The literal sense is the correct one, but it conveys no meaning to the ordinary reader without a long explanation. The main point is, that the ceremony was formal.


Verse 4

Mark 7:4. And from the market. It is doubtful whether this means: when they come from the market, or, what comes from the market. We prefer the former (see below).

Except they bathe, lit., ‘baptize; ‘according to another reading, ‘sprinkle themselves.’ The original means, either baptize themselves, or, for themselves. The former is the more obvious sense. In either case, it was a religious ceremony.

Washings, or, ‘baptisms,’ i.e., ceremonial, religious washings. The passage clearly proves the wider usage of the terms ‘baptism ‘and ‘baptize ‘in Hellenistic Greek, whether by immersion, or pouring, or sprinkling. Christianity does not prescribe any particular mode as essential. Disputes about the form of baptism savor much of what our Lord is rebuking in the discourse which follows.—Cups. Drinking vessels.

Pots. The word here used is derived from the Latin, meaning a vessel holding the sixth part of a larger one. It was probably wooden, holding about a pint and a half.

Brazen vessels. Earthen ones were broken when defiled (Leviticus 15:12).—‘Couches,’ not ‘tables,’ is the meaning of the word which is found here in many authorities, the couches on which persons then reclined at meals. All these things were ceremonially washed, or baptized, in case of defilement. Ordinary washing for cleanliness is not referred to. It is probable that the Pharisees multiplied the occasions of defilement, as they had done the articles which could be defiled, but it is scarcely possible that these baptisms took place before or after every meal. These usages were based on Leviticus 12-15, but the main authority for them was not derived from this source, as is evident from the language of the Pharisees (Mark 7:5) and of our Lord (Mark 7:8-9).


Verse 5

Mark 7:5. See on Matthew 15:2.


Verse 6-7

Mark 7:6-7. This citation is placed in a different position by Matthew, but the sense is precisely the same.


Verse 8

Mark 7:8. Yet let go the commandment of God, etc. This verse is peculiar to Mark, ‘setting forth their depreciating of God’s command in comparison with human tradition, before their absolute violation of that command in Mark 7:10-11.’ (Alford.)

Tradition of men. ‘Men ‘as in contrast to ‘God,’ implying that the ‘elders’ (Mark 7:5) had no other than human authority.—The rest of the verse is to be omitted, according to the best authorities.


Verse 9

Mark 7:9. Well. Ironical; the same word as in Mark 7:6.

Your tradition. The tradition of the elders was that of ‘men,’ and they had made it theirs, living by it, contrary to the laws of God. ‘At the bottom of all rigorous enforcement of traditional observances there is an unconscious, or half conscious, repugnance to submit perfectly to the law of God’ (Lange).


Verse 10

Mark 7:10. For Moses said. Matthew: ‘For God commanded.’


Verse 11

Mark 7:11. Corban. This was the Hebrew word used, which Mark translates into Greek for his Greek readers. Both mean a gift to God. The term ‘Corban’ seems to have included all kinds of offerings, though some think it was applied in the time of Christ only to offerings without a sacrifice. On the whole verse, see Matthew 15:5-6.


Verse 12

Mark 7:12. Ye no longer suffer him, etc. Not necessarily that they actively forbade it, but their teachings virtually permitted him to neglect his father and mother altogether. This is the comment of our Lord, not the language of the Pharisees. Comp. Matthew 15:6.


Verse 13

Mark 7:13. The last clause of Mark 7:8 was probably taken from this verse.


Verse 14

Mark 7:14. And he called to him the multitude again. Not ‘all the multitude.’ ‘Again ‘implies that during this questioning the crowd was not so closely about Him as usual, but it does not follow that He had been judicially examined in the synagogue.—Hear me all (of you). ‘All’ is peculiar to Mark.


Verse 15

Mark 7:15. See on Matthew 15:11. Mark does not mention ‘the mouth,’ but that is implied.


Verse 16

Mark 7:16 is not found in some early manuscripts. The words were a common close to instruction difficult to understand.


Verse 17

Mark 7:17. Into the house. The remarks about the Pharisees (Matthew 15:12-14) were uttered first, then his disciples (‘Peter,’ Matthew) asked of him the parable. If Peter was Mark’s informant, there is modesty in this variation.


Verse 19

Mark 7:19. Making all meats clean. The general thought of Mark 7:18-19, is the same as that of Matthew 15:16-17, but besides the fuller form Mark gives, he inserts this new detail. The clause may be joined with ‘draught;’ if then refers to the purifying process, which takes place in the impure matter coming from the body. God having thus provided for a purifying (physical) process, how absurd to make the spiritual condition depend on food, especially upon certain ceremonies connected with it. A grammatical difficulty, however, attends this view. Many therefore consider this an explanation of the Evangelist = This he saith; making all meats clean. This view is very old, but open to grave objections. The variation in readings is against it, there is no similar instance of interpretation, and it gives an unusual sense to the word ‘purify,’ or ‘make clean.’


Verse 21

Mark 7:21. For from within, out of the heart of man. This represents, even more emphatically than the form preserved by Matthew, that the heart of man is ‘the laboratory and fountain-head of all that is good and bad in the inner life of man,’ hence his responsibility, etc. That the body is the seat of sin is here denied. Both materialism and asceticism are opposed. Mark’s catalogue of sins is fuller than that of Matthew. Here, as there, the plural seems to indicate that the sins are common and notorious.


Verse 22

Mark 7:22. Covetings, lit., ‘covetousnesses,’ grasping, greedy desires, with the attending peculiarities.

Wickednesses. ‘Malignities;’ evil dispositions.

Deceit. Fraud, as distinguished from actual theft.

Lasciviousness. Sensual excess.

An evil eye. A figure for envy.

Blasphemy. Proud and spiteful anger, manifesting itself in abusive language against God.

Pride. Self exaltation, leading to arrogance towards God and man.

Foolishness. Senselessness, unreasoning folly, in thought, as well as in the words and acts which result. A fearful catalogue, true to nature still. How well our Lord, the purest of the pure, knew the depths of iniquity from which He would save sinful men!


Verse 24

Mark 7:24. And from thence. Probably Capernaum, though the locality is nowhere specified.

Went. Matthew: ‘withdrew,’ to avoid the Pharisees.

The borders of Tyre and Sidon. See on Matthew 15:21. Some ancient authorities omit ‘and Sidon,’ probably to avoid a difficulty in Mark 7:31.

Entered into a house. To avoid notice.

And he could not be hid. From the desire of the mother who came. She entered the house, and afterwards followed Him in the way. Some however suppose that the first entreaty (Matthew 15:22) took place outside the house and the final entreaty within it, so that ‘He could not be hid,’ because she pressed in.


Verse 24

Compare notes on Matthew 15:21-39. The miracle (Mark 7:32-37) is peculiar to Mark and of special interest.


Verse 25

Mark 7:25. Having heard of him, came. Probably into the house.

Fell at his feet. In her final entreaty also she ‘worshipped Him’ (Matthew 15:25).


Verse 26

Mark 7:26. A Greek, i.e., a Gentile in religion.

Syrophenician by race, such a nation no longer existed. There were Phenicians at Carthage in Libya (Africa), as well as in Syria. The Phenicians were Canaanites by extraction (comp. Matthew 15:22).

She besought him. Here occurred all the details given in Matthew 15:23-25.


Verse 27

Mark 7:27. Let the children first be filled. ‘This important addition in Mark sets forth the whole ground on which the present refusal rested. The Jews were first to have the gospel offered to them for their acceptance or rejection; it was not yet time for the Gentiles’ (Alford).


Verse 29

Mark 7:29. For this saying. As an evidence of her faith.

The demon is gone out. As He spoke, the miracle was performed (Matthew 15:28).


Verse 30

Mark 7:30. And she went away to her house. This sketch of her return is peculiar to Mark. She had obeyed the command: ‘Go thy way.’—Laid, or, ‘thrown,’ upon the bed. Just as the demon left her, but in a quiet condition, which was the evidence that the demon had gone. The correct order favors this view. The exhaustion was natural, and a sign of complete dispossession.


Verse 31

Mark 7:31. And came through Sidon. Not the city, but the district thus termed. The course was first northward, then eastward, then southward or southwestward, through the midst of the region of Decapolis (the northern part) to the eastern shore of the sea of Galilee. See map of Decapolis, p. 271. In making this circuit, our Lord was seeking needed retirement.


Verse 32

Mark 7:32. Had an impediment in his speech. Lit, ‘hardly speaking.’ It is more probable that he was ‘deaf and dumb’ than a ‘stammerer,’ etc. Deafness usually causes dumbness. An actual and separate defect in the vocal organs is, however, suggested both by the form here used and the mode of healing. This man was not possessed, as many thus afflicted were. Possession and such diseases and deformities are to be distinguished; the more so, since Mark is specially apt to tell of our Lord’s power over unclean spirits.

To lay his hand upon him. They thought this was necessary.


Verse 33

Mark 7:33. Took him aside from the multitude apart (or, ‘by himself’). This may have been in consequence of some peculiarity in the man himself, or in the spectators. The people of that district (see Matthew 15:30-31) were probably rude and more or less under heathen influence. The peculiar manner of the miracle was not occasioned by the difficulty of the case. The design seems to have been, still to connect the miraculous effect with His own person, yet to show that He was not bound to one mode. It is not necessary to find a symbolical meaning in each act

And he spat and touched his tongue. Probably moistening His finger with saliva, He touched his tongue. The two parts affected by disease were touched, to show that our Lord could choose His own mode. We may, however, regard the miracle as a literal fulfilment of Isaiah 35:5. ‘Then shall the ears of the deaf be unstopped,’ etc.


Verse 34

Mark 7:34. And looking up to heaven. In prayer, perhaps to show His connection with God the Father in heaven, over against the magical influences which may have been assumed by the people of that district; perhaps to affect the deaf and dumb man, who could perceive this.

He sighed. In sympathy, always felt, but here expressed; perhaps also in distress at the ignorance and superstition He would overcome.

Ephphatha. The precise word used, translated into Greek by Mark, meaning be thou opened (thoroughly). It is closely related to the Hebrew word used in Isaiah 35:5. The command was addressed to the man, as shut up from the world by the defect of these two senses.


Verse 35

Mark 7:35. The string of his tongue, the impediment, whatever it was, was loosed, was removed.

And he spake plainly (or ‘rightly ‘). It is not necessarily implied that he was able to speak in some way before the cure. ‘Mark shows, in his account of the miracles, a preference for those healings, in which the gradual process of the cure, as connected with the instrument and the development of it, is vividly presented’ (Lange).


Verse 36

Mark 7:36. Charged them, etc. The prohibition was mainly to prevent excessive zeal among these mountaineers (comp. Matthew 15:30-31).


Verse 37

Mark 7:37. Beyond measure. Their excessive zeal was equalled by their excessive astonishment.

He hath done all things well. Perhaps an allusion to Genesis 1:31; the same Power and Beneficence were manifested in His healing as in God’s work of creation.

The dumb to speak. This favors the view that the cured man was entirely speechless. The whole verse intimates that this was but one of many miracles. Comp. Matthew 15:30-31.

 


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Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Mark 7:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/mark-7.html. 1879-90.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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