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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
Mark 6



Verse 2


See on Matthew 7:28.

Mighty works ( δυνάμεις )

Lit.,powers. See on Matthew 11:20. Tynd., virtues. Outcomings of God's power: “powers of the world to come” (Hebrews 6:5), at work upon the earth.

Verse 3

The carpenter

This word “throws the only flash which falls on the continuous tenor of the first thirty years, from infancy to manhood, of the life of Christ” (Farrar, “Messages of the Books”)They were offended

See on Matthew 5:29. Tynd., hurt.

Verse 5

Sick ( ἀῤῥώστοις )

From ἀ , not, and ῥώννυμι , to strengthen. Sickness regarded as constitutional weakness.

Verse 7

By two and two

To help and encourage each other, and also for fulness of testimony.


Verse 14

Was spread abroad

“But for the rumor, Herod would not have known of him. A palace is late in hearing spiritual news” (Bengel).

Mighty works do show forth themselves in him ( ἐνεργοῦσιν αἱ δυνάμεις ἐν αὐτῷ )

Rev., these powers work in him. As Dr. Morison observes, “A snatch of Herod's theology and philosophy.” He knew that John wrought no miracles when alive, but he thought that death had put him into connection with the unseen world, and enabled him to wield its powers.

Verse 16

He is risen

The he, οὗτος , is emphatic. This one. This very John.


Verse 19

Had a quarrel against him ( ἐνεῖχεν αὐτῷ )

There is some dispute about the rendering. The Rev. renders Set herself against him, with no alternative translation in the margin; and in Luke 11:53, Press upon him vehemently, with set themselves against him in the margin. I see no objection to rendering was angry at him, taking ἐνεῖχεν αὐτῷ with an ellipsis of χόλον , anger. Very literally, had within herself ( ἐν )anger against him. So Herodotus, 1:118. Astyages concealing the anger ( τόν χόλον )which he felt toward him ( οἱ ἐνεῖχε ) ἐνεῖχε σφῖ δεινὸν χόλον , nourished a fierce anger against them. So Moulton, Grimm, and De Wette.

Desired ( ἤθελεν )

Imperfect tense, was desiring all along. Her demand for John's murder was the result of a long-cherished wish.

Verse 20

Observed him ( συνετήρει )

A mistranslation. Rev., kept him safe. Peculiar to Mark. Compare Matthew 9:17, are preserved; Luke 2:19, kept; σύν , closely; τηρεῖν , to preserve or keep, as the result of guarding. See on John 17:12, and reserved, 1 Peter 1:4.

Did many things ( πολλὰ ἐποίει )

The proper reading, however ἠπόρει ; from ἀ , not, and πόρος , a passage. Hence, strictly, to be in circumstances where one cannot find a way out. So Rev., rightly, he was much perplexed. The other reading is meaningless.

Verse 21

Convenient ( εὐκαίρον )

Mark only. Convenient for Herodias' purpose. “Opportune for the insidious woman, who hoped, through wine, lust, and the concurrence of sycophants, to be able easily to overcome the wavering mind of her husband” (Grotius in Meyer).


See on Matthew 14:6. The notice of the banquet and of the rank of the guests is peculiar to Mark.

Lords ( μεγιστᾶσιν )

Only here, and Revelation 6:15; Revelation 18:23. A late word, from μέγας , great.

High captains ( χιλιάρχοις )

Lit., commanders of a thousand men. Answering to a Roman military tribune. Both civil and military dignitaries were present, with other distinguished men of the district (chief men )i1.

Verse 22

The said Herodias ( αὐτῆς τῆς Ἡρωδιάδος )

The A. V. misses the point of αὐτῆς , by the translation the said: the object being not to particularize the Herodias just referred to, but to emphasize the fact that Herodias' own daughter was put forward instead of a professional dancer. Hence Rev., correctly, “the daughter of Herodias herself.

Damsel ( κορασίῳ )

See on Mark 5:41.

Verse 25

Mark's narrative emphasizes the eager haste with which the murder was pushed. She came in straightway and demanded the boon forthwith.

By and by ( ἐξαυτῆς )

Obsolete in the old sense of immediately. The A. V. translates αὐθὺς ,straightway, in Matthew 13:21, by and by: εὐθέως , Mark 4:17, immediately: and the same word in Luke 21:9, by and by. Ἐξαυτῆς is rendered immediately, Acts 10:33; Acts 11:11: straightway, Acts 23:30: presently, Philemon 2:23. Rev., forthwith. The expression by and by in older English was sometimes used of place. Thus Chaucer.

“Right in the same chamber by and by” (close by).


“Two young knights lying by and by” (near together).

Edward IV. is reported to have said on his death-bed: “I wote (know) not whether any preacher's words ought more to move you than I that is going by and by to the place that they all preach of.”


See on Matthew 14:8.

Verse 26

Exceeding sorry

Where Matthew has sorry.

Verse 27

Mark's favorite straightway. The king is prompt in his response.

Executioner ( σπεκουλάτορα )

One of Mark's Latin words, speculator. A speculator was a guardsman, whose business it was to watch or spy out (speculari )It came gradually to denote one of the armed body-guard of the Roman emperor. Thus Suetonius says of Claudius that he did not dare to attend banquets unless his speculatores with their lances surrounded him. Seneca uses the word in the sense of executioner. “He met the executioners (speculatoribus )declared that he had nothing to say against the execution of the sentence, and then stretched out his neck.” Herod imitated the manners of the Roman court, and was attended by a company of speculatores, though it was not their distinctive office to act as executioners. Wyc. renders man-killer, and Tynd. hangman.

Verse 29


See on Matthew 24:28.

Stier (“Words of Jesus”) says of Herod' “This man, whose inner life was burnt out; who was made up of contradictions, speaking of his kingdom like Ahasuerus, and yet the slave of his Jezebel; willingly hearing the prophet, and unwillingly killing him; who will be a Sadducee, and yet thinks of a resurrection; who has a superstitious fear of the Lord Jesus, and yet a curiosity to see him.”

Verse 31

Come apart

See on Mark 3:7.

Verse 37

Shall we go and buy, etc

This question and Christ's answer are peculiar to Mark.

Verse 39

By companies ( συμπόσια συμπόσια )

Peculiar to Mark. The Jewish dining-room was arranged like the Roman: three tables forming three sides of a square, and with divans or couches following the outside line of the tables. The open end of the square admitted the servants who waited at table. This explains the arrangement of the multitude here described by Mark. The people sat down, literally, in table-companies, arranged like guests at table; some companies of a hundred and some of fifty, in squares or oblongs open at one end, so that the disciples could pass along the inside and distribute the loaves


Mark only.

Verse 40

In ranks ( πρασιαὶ πρασιαὶ )

Lit., like beds in a garden. The former adverb, by companies, describes the arrangement; this the color. The red, blue, and yellow clothing of the poorest orientals makes an Eastern crowd full of color; a fact which would appeal to Peter's eye, suggesting the appearance of flower-beds in a garden.

Verse 41

Brake and gave ( κατέκλασεν , ἐδίδου )

The verbs are in different tenses; the former in the aorist, the latter in the imperfect. The aorist implies the instantaneous, the imperfect the continuous act. He brake, and kept giving out. Farrar remarks that the multiplication evidently took place in Christ's hands, between the acts of breaking and distributing.


Peculiar to Mark.

Were filled

See on Matthew 5:6.

Verse 43

Baskets full ( κοφίνων πληρώματα )

Lit., fillings of baskets. See on Matthew 14:20. Mark alone adds, and of the fishes.

Verse 44

Men ( ἄνδρες )

Not generic, including men and women; but literally men. Compare Matthew 14:21,beside women and children; a detail which we should have expected from Mark.

Verse 46

When he had sent them away ( ἀποτάξαμενος )

Rev., more correctly, after he had taken leave. Unclassical, and used in this sense only in later Greek. So in Luke 9:61; Acts 18:18; 2 Corinthians 2:13.

Verse 48

He saw ( ἰδὼν )

Participle. Rev., seeing. Better, however, the literal having seen. It was this which induced him to go to them.

Toiling ( βασανιζομένους )

Lit., tormented. Rev., distressed See on Matthew 4:24. Wyc., travailing. Tynd., troubles

Fourth watch

Between 3 and 6 a.m.

Would have passed by them.

Peculiar to Mark.

Verse 50

They all saw him

Peculiar to Mark.

Spake with them ( ἐλάλησεν μετ ' αὐτῶν )

Both Matthew and John give the simple dative, αὐτοῖς , to them. Mark's with them is more familiar, and gives the idea of a more friendly and encouraging address. It is significant, in view of Peter's relation to this gospel, that Mark omits the incident of Peter's walk on the waves (Matthew 14:28-31).

Verse 51


See on Mark 4:39.

Sore amazed ( λίαν ἐκ περισσοῦ ἐξίσταντο )

Lit., exceedingly beyond measure. A strong expression peculiar to Mark. Ἐξίσταντο , were amazed. Compare the cognate noun ἔκστασις , and see on Mark 5:42.

Verse 52

Peculiar to Mark.

The miracle of the loaves ( ἐπὶ τοῖς ἄρτοις )

Rev., concerning the loaves. Lit., upon; in the matter of. They did not reason from the multiplying of the loaves to the stilling of the sea.

Verse 53

Drew to the shore ( προσωρμίσθησαν )

Peculiar to Mark. Rev., moored to the shore, though the meaning may be near the shore. Ἀνέβη , he went up (Mark 6:51), seems to indicate a vessel of considerable size, standing quite high out of the water. They may have anchored off shore.

Verse 55

Ran round

From place to place where the sick were, to bring them to Jesus. Matthew has they sent.

Carry about ( περιφέρειν )

περί , about; one hither and another thither, wherever Christ might be at the time.

Beds ( κραβάττοις )

Condemned as bad Greek, but used by both Luke and John. See on Mark 2:4.

Verse 56

Peculiar to Mark.

In the streets ( ἀγοραῖς )

Rightly, Rev., market-places. See on Matthew 11:16.


See on Matthew 9:20.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Mark 6:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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