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The Gospel of Mark, chapter 1

Preface/Introductions; Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Click on TOC in this page to return to here.

See New Testament Table of Contents and Introductory notes here.

Mark - Preface to the Gospel According to St. Mark
With a Short Account of His LifeFor an explication of the word Gospel, and the title Saint, see the Preface to Matth

Mark. This person, the second in the commonly received order of the four evangelists, was named John Mark, and was the son of a pious woman called Mary, who dwelt at Jerusalem: she was an early believer, and the disciples used to meet at her house. Peter, having been delivered out of prison by an angel, came to the house of Mary, mother of John, whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying, Acts 12:12. This very first mention of John Mark assures us of Peter’s intimacy in that family: it is almost universally allowed that Mark, mentioned by Peter, 1Pe. 5:13, is this evangelist, and that he is the same with him who is called sister’s son to Barnabas, Col. 4:10, and is supposed to have been converted by Peter to the Christian faith. Mr. W. Whiston supposes him to have been Peter’s own son. See his Primitive New Test. Notes at the end. He traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, Acts 12:25, and some short time after he accompanied them to other countries as their minister, Acts 13:5. When they returned tothe continent, and came on shore at Perga in Pamphylia, he departed from them and returned to Jerusalem, Acts 13:13. Afterwards he would have gone with Paul and Barnabas, but the former refused to take him, because of his having left them at Pamphylia; Paul and Barnabas then separated, and Mark accompanied his uncle Barnabas to Cyprus, Acts 15:36-41. Afterwards Paul and he were fully reconciled, as evidently appears from 2Ti. 4:11 : Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is profitable to me for the ministry. This appears also from Phm. 1:24, where Mark is styled Paul’s fellow-laborer; and from Col. 4:10, where we find the apostle recommending him in a particular manner to the Church of God at that place. He is generally supposed to have been particularly intimate with St. Peter, to have written his Gospel at Rome, a.d. 64, and to have died at Alexandria in Egypt, in the eighth year of the reign of Nero. Dr. Lardner has fully proved that Mark the evangelist, and John Mark nephew to Barnabas, were one and the same person. See his Works, vol. vi. p. 77, etc.

How Mark composed his Gospel, is a question not yet decided among learned men. Many of the primitive fathers, such as Papias, Clemens, Alexandrinus, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, etc., believed that he was only the amanuensis of St. Peter; that this apostle, through modesty, would not put his name to the work, but dictated the whole account, and Mark wrote it down from his mouth. St. Augustine appears to have been the first who maintained that Mark abridged St. Matthew’s Gospel; and that it is not to be considered as an original work: - on this opinion several remarks will be made in the course of these notes. Others suppose that Mark compiled it, partly out of Matthew’s Gospel, and partly out of the Gospel of Luke. But most of these are conjectures which appear to have very little foundation. Critics are also divided concerning the language in which it was written, and the people to whom it was sent. Some have contended for a Latin original, because of several Latin words found in it, such as σπεκουλατωρ, Mk. 6:27, one of the guard; κεντυριων, Mk. 15:39, Mk. 15:44, Mk. 15:46, a centurion, a captain of one hundred men; συσσημον, Mk. 14:44, a signal, a sign agreed on. But such words are better accounted for by supposing that his Gospel was written for the use of the Roman people; and that it is on this account that he wholly passes by the genealogy of our Lord, as being a point of no consequence to Gentile converts, though very necessary for the Jews, and especially the Jews of Palestine. That it was originally written in Greek, is a point now acknowledged by almost all learned men.

It may be necessary to state the things omitted by Mark in the beginning of his Gospel which are mentioned by Matthew and Luke.

1. The Preface, found in Luke and John, Luk. 1:1; Jn. 1:1.

2. The Conception of Elizabeth, Luke 1:5-25.

3. The Salutation of Mary, Luk. 1:26-38.

4. Mary’s Visit to Elizabeth, Luke 1:39-56.

5. John Baptist’s Birth, Luke 1:57-79.

6. The Angel’s Appearance to Joseph, Mat. 1:18-25.

7. The Birth of Christ, Mat. 1:25; Luk. 2:1-7.

8. The Genealogy of Christ, Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38.

9. The Appearance of the Angel to the Shepherds, Luk. 2:8-20.

10. The Circumcision of Christ, Mat. 1:25; Luk. 2:21.

11. The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, Luke 2:22-38.

12. The Coming of the Magi, Mat. 2:1-12.

13. The Flight into Egypt, Mat. 2:13-15.

14. Herod’s Murder of the Innocents, Mat. 2:16-18.

15. The Return of the Holy Family from Egypt, Mat. 2:19-23; Luk. 2:39.

16. Christ’s Journey to Jerusalem when twelve years of age, Luk. 2:40-48.

From the particulars enumerated here, it appears that the things omitted by Mark are also omitted by John, except the Preface; and that St. Luke is the most circumstantial.

For other particulars relative to this Gospel, see at the end of the last chapter. — Clarke


Chapter 1

Mark - Book Introduction - Mark

Writer: The Writer of the second Gospel, Mark, called also John, was the son of one the New Testament "Marys", and nephew of Barnabas. He was an associate of the apostles, and is mentioned in the writings of Paul and of Luke Acts 12:12; Acts 12:25; Acts 15:37; Acts 15:39; Col. 4:10; 2Ti. 4:11; Phm. 1:24.

Date: The date of Mark has been variously placed between A.D. 57 and 63.

Theme: The scope and purpose of the book are evident from its contents. In it Jesus is seen as the mighty Worker, rather than as the unique Teacher. It is the Gospel of Jehovah's "Servant the Branch" Zec. 3:8 as Matthew is the Gospel of the "Branch. . .unto David" Jer. 33:15.

Everywhere the servant character of the incarnate Son is manifest. The key verse is Mk. 10:45. "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." The characteristic word is "straightway," a servant's word. There is no genealogy, for who gives the genealogy of a servant? The distinctive character of Christ in Mark is that set forth in Phil. 2:6-8.

But this lowly Servant, who emptied Himself of the "form of God," "and was found in fashion as a man," was, nevertheless, "the mighty God" Isa. 9:6 as Mark distinctly declares (Mk. 1:1) and therefore mighty works accompanied and authenticated His ministry. As befits a Servant-Gospel, Mark is characteristically a Gospel of deeds, rather than on words.

The best preparation of the heart for the study of Mark is the prayerful reading of Isa. 42:1-21; Isa. 50:4-11; Isa. 52:13-15; Isa. 53:1-12; Zec. 3:8; Phil. 2:5-8.

Mark is in five principal divisions:

1. The manifestation of the Servant-Son (Mark 1:1-11).

2. The Servant-Son tested as to His fidelity (Mark 1:12-13).

3. The Servant-Son at work (Mark 1:14 - 13:37).

4. The Servant-Son "obedient unto death," (Mark 14:1 - 15:47).

5. The ministry of the risen Servant-Son, now exalted to all authority (Mark 16:1-20).

The events recorded in this book cover a period of 7 years. — Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)

Mark - The Gospel According to Mark


Mark the Evangelist is, by the best authorities, identified with John Mark, the son of Mary. The surname Mark was adopted for use among the Gentiles; Mark (Marcus) being one of the commonest Latin names (compare Marcus Tullius Cicero, Marcus Aurelius), as John was one of the commonest Hebrew names. Mark was a cousin of Barnabas, and was, from a very early period, the intimate friend and associate of Peter (Acts 12:11-17), who affectionately refers to him as “my son” at the close of his first epistle. The general opinion of the fathers, as well as that of modern authorities, is that Mark drew the great mass of his materials from the oral discourses of Peter. This opinion was perpetuated in Christian art, in representations of Peter seated on a throne with Mark kneeling before him and writing from his dictation; Mark sitting and writing, and Peter standing before him, with his hand raised, dictating; and Peter in a pulpit, preaching to the Romans, and Mark taking down his words in a book (see Mrs. Jameson, “Sacred and Legendary Art,” 1:149).

This opinion finds support in the evidences of Peter's influence upon the style of this Gospel. The restlessness and impetuosity of Mark's disposition, of which we have hints in his forsaking Paul and Barnabas at Perga (Acts 13:13; Acts 15:38), in his subsequent readiness to join them on the second missionary journey (Acts 15:39), and, if the tradition be accepted, in his rushing into the street on the night of Christ's arrest, clad only in a linen sheet (Mk. 14:51, Mk. 14:52), would naturally be in sympathy with the well-known character of Peter. Peter was a man of observation and action rather than of reflection; impulsive and impetuous. “When we assume,says Dr. Morison, that Mark drew directly from the discoursings of St. Peter, then we understand how it comes to pass that it is in his pages that we have the most particular account of that lamentable denial of his Lord of which the apostle was guilty. On no other person's memory would the minute particulars of the prediction, and of its unanticipated fulfilment, be so indelibly engraven. It is also noteworthy that, while the very severe rebuke which our Lord administered to St. Peter in the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi is faithfully and circumstantially recorded in Mark's pages, the splendid eulogium and distinguishing blessing, which had been previously pronounced, are, as it were, modestly passed by. Doubtless the great apostle would not be guilty of making frequent or egotistic references to such marks of distinction” (“Commentary on Mark”).

Unlike the other gospels, Mark's narrative is not subordinated to the working out of any one idea. Matthew's memoirs turn on the relation of Christ to the law and the prophets. He throws a bridge from the old economy to the new. His is the Gospel as related to the past, the Gospel of Christianity regarded as the fulfilment of Judaism. Luke exhibits Jesus as a Saviour, and expounds the freeness and universality of the Gospel, and the sacredness of humanity. John wrote that then might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and might have life in him. While Matthew and Luke deal with his offices, John deals with his person. John carries forward the piers of Matthew's bridge toward that perfected heavenly economy of which his Apocalypse reveals glimpses. In Matthew Jesus is the Messiah; in John, the Eternal Word. In Matthew he is the fulfiller of the law; in John he foreshadows the grander and richer economy of the Spirit.

Mark, on the other hand, is a chronicler rather than a historian. His narrative is the record of an observer, dealing with the facts of Christ's life without reference to any dominant conception of his person or office. Christ's portrait is drawn “in the clearness of his present energy;” not as the fulfilment of the past, as by Matthew, nor as the foundation of the future, as by John. His object is to portray Jesus in his daily life, “in the awe-inspiring grandeur of his human personality, as a man who was also the Incarnate, the wonder-working Son of God.” Hence his first words are the appropriate keynote of his Gospel: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

Such a narrative might have been expected from Peter, with his keen-sightedness, his habit of observation, and his power of graphically describing what he was so quick to perceive. There is, of course, less room for the exhibition of these traits in his epistles, though they emerge even there in certain peculiar and picturesque words, and in expressions which reflect incidents of his personal association with Christ. Those brief epistles contain over a hundred words which occur nowhere else in the New Testament. Certain narratives in the Book of Acts record incidents in which Peter was the principal or the only apostolic actor, and the account of which must have come from his own lips; and these narratives bear the marks of his keen observation, and are characterized by his picturesque power. Such are the accounts of the healing of the cripple at the temple-gate (3); of Ananias and Sapphira (5); of Peter's deliverance from prison (12); of the raising of Dorcas (9); and of the vision of the great sheet (10). In these, especially if we compare them with narratives which Luke has evidently received from other sources, we are impressed with the picturesque vividness of the story; the accurate notes of time and place and number; the pictorial expressions, the quick transitions; the frequent use of such words as straightway, immediately; the substitution of dialogue for narrative, and the general fulness of detail.

All these characteristics appear in Mark's Gospel, and are justly regarded as indicating the influence of Peter, though comparatively few of the same words are employed by both; a fact which may be, in great part, accounted for by the difference between a hortatory epistle and a narrative. The traces of Peter's quick perception and dramatic and picturesque power are everywhere visible in Mark. While Matthew fully records the discourses of our Lord, Mark pictures his deeds. Hence, while Matthew gives us fifteen of his parables, Mark reproduces only four, and that in a condensed form. “Mark does not wear the flowing robes of Matthew. His dress is 'for speed succinct.' Swift-paced, incisive, his narrative proceeds straight to the goal, like a Roman soldier on his march to battle.” His Gospel is the Gospel of the present, not of the past. His references to the Old Testament, with the exception of Mk. 1:2, Mk. 1:3, are quotations occurring in the discourses of Christ, or cited by others. They belong, as Canon Farrar observes, “to the narrative, not to the recorder” (Mk. 15:28 is an interpolation). The word νόμος, law, never occurs in Mark nor in Peter.

Mark's is, therefore, pre-eminently the pictorial Gospel: the Gospel of detail. “There is,” says Canon Westcott, “perhaps not one narrative which he gives in common with Matthew and Luke, to which he does not contribute some special feature.” Thus he adds to John the Baptist's picture of loosing the shoe-latchet another touch, in the words to stoop down (Mk. 1:7). He uses a more graphic term to describe the opening of the heavens at Christ's baptism. According to Matthew and Luke the heavens were opened (ἀνεώχθησαν); Mark depicts them as rent asunder (σχιζομένους; Mk. 1:10). Matthew and Luke represent Jesus as led (ἀνήχθη) into the wilderness to be tempted; Mark as driven (ἐκβα.λλει); adding, He was with the wild beasts; to which some detect a reference in Peter's comparison of the devil to a roaring lion (1Pe. 5:8). He gives a realistic touch to the story of James and John forsaking their employment at the call of Jesus, by adding that they left their father with the hired servants (Mk. 1:20). After the discourse from the boat to the multitude upon the shore, Mark alone tells us that the disciples sent away the multitude, and throws in the little details, they took him as he was; and there were with them other little ships (Mk. 4:36). His account of the storm which followed is more vivid than Matthew's or Luke's. He pictures the waves beating into the boat, and the boat beginning to fill; notes the steersman's cushion at the stern on which the sleeping Lord's head reposed (Mk. 4:37, Mk. 4:38); and throws the awaking by the disciples and the stilling of the tempest into a dramatic form by the distressful question, Master, carest thou not that we perish? and the command to the sea as to a raging monster, Peace! Be still! (Mk. 4:38, Mk. 4:39).

In the narrative of the feeding of the five thousand, only Mark relates the Saviour's question, How many loaves have ye ? Go and see (Mk. 6:38). An oriental crowd abounds in color, and to Mark we are indebted for the gay picture of the crowds arranged on the green grass, in companies, like flower-beds with their varied hues. He alone specifies the division of the two fishes among them all (Mk. 6:39, Mk. 6:41). He tells how Jesus, walking on the sea, would have passed by the disciples' boat; he expresses their cry of terror at Christ's appearance by a stronger word than Matthew, using the compound verb ἀνέκραξαν where Matthew uses the simple verb ἔχραξαν. He adds, they all saw him (Mk. 6:48-50). When Jesus descends from the mount of transfiguration, it is Mark that fills out the incident of the disciples' controversy with the bystanders by relating that the scribes were questioning with them. He notes the amazement which, for whatever reason, fell upon the people at Jesus' appearance, their running to salute him, and his inquiry, What question ye with them? (Mk. 9:14, Mk. 9:16). Mark gives us the bystanders' encouragement of Bartimeus when summoned by Jesus, and tells how he cast off his outer garment and leaped up (Mk. 10:49, Mk. 10:50). He alone relates the breaking of the alabaster by the woman (Mk. 14:3), and Christ's taking the little child in his arms after he had set him in the midst (Mk. 9:36).

In the account of the two demoniacs of Gadara, Matthew (8) relates that they were met coming out of the tombs, and that they were exceeding fierce, so that no one could pass that way. Mark mentions only one demoniac, but adds that he had his dwelling in the tombs (κατοίκησιν εἶχεν, stronger than Luke's abode, ἔμενεν); that the attempt had been made to fetter him, but that he had broken the fetters; and that he was day and night in the tombs and in the mountains, crying and cutting himself with stones (Mk. 5:3-6). In the interview with the lawyer who desired to know what kind of a commandment was great in the law, Matthew (Mat. 22:34-40) ends the dialogue with Jesus' answer to this question. Mark gives the lawyer's reply and his enlargement upon Jesus' answer, the fact that Jesus observed that he answered discreetly, and his significant words, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.

It is interesting to compare the account of Herod's feast and John the Baptist's murder as given by Matthew and Mark respectively. Mark alone mentions the great banquet and the rank of the guests. He adds the little touches of Salome's entering in and delighting the guests. He throws Herod's promise and Salome's request into dialogue. Where Matthew says simply, He promised with an oath, to give her whatsoever she should ask, Mark gives it, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of ray kingdom. The whole narrative is more dramatic than Matthew's. Matthew says that Salome was put forward by her mother. Mark pictures her going out, and details her conversation with Herodias, and her entering in again with haste, and demanding the horrible boon forthwith. Mark also enlarges upon Herod's regret: he was exceeding sorry; and where Matthew notes merely his compliance with the damsel's request, Mark lets us into his feeling of unwillingness to refuse her. Mark, too, emphasizes the promptness of the transaction. Salome demands the Baptist's head forthwith; Herod sends the executioner straightway. Mark alone mentions the executioner. While the dialogue is not peculiar to Mark, it is to be noted that it is characteristic of Peter's style, so far, at least, as can be inferred from the stories in the book of Acts, of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:3-9), Cornelius Acts 10:1), and Peter's deliverance from prison (Acts 12:1).

Mark is peculiarly minute and specific as to details of persons, times, numbers, and places; a feature in which, also, he resembles Peter (compare Acts 2:15; Acts 6:3; Acts 4:22; Acts 5:7, Acts 5:23; Acts 12:4). Thus, of persons, They entered into the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John(Mk. 1:29): “Simon and they that were with him followed after him” (Mk. 1:36): “In the days of Abiathar the high-priest” (Mk. 2:26): “The Pharisees took counsel with the Herodians(Mk. 3:6): “The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phenician by nation” (Mk. 7:26). Compare, also, Mk. 11:11; Mk. 13:3; Mk. 15:21. Of places: A multitude from Galilee and Judaea,etc. (Mk. 3:7, Mk. 3:8): The demoniac proclaimed his recovery in Decapolis (Mk. 5:20): Jesus departed “from the border of Tyre and came through Sidon unto the Sea of Galilee, through the midst of the borders of Decapolis(Mk. 7:31). Compare Mk. 8:10; Mk. 11:1; Mk. 12:41; Mk. 14:68. Of number: The paralytic was “borne of four(Mk. 2:3): The swine were about two thousand (Mk. 5:13): The twelve were sent out two and two (Mk. 6:7): The people sat down by hundreds and fifties (Mk. 6:40): “Before the cock crow twice thou shalt deny me thrice(Mk. 14:30). Of time: Jesus rose up in the morning, a great while before day (Mk. 1:35): “The same day, when the even was come(Mk. 4:35). Compare Mk. 11:11; Mk. 14:68; Mk. 15:25.

But Mark does not confine himself to mere outward details. He abounds in strokes which bring out the feeling of his characters. He uses six different words expressive of fear, wonder, trouble, amazement, extreme astonishment. The compound ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι, greatly amazed, affrighted (Mk. 9:15; Mk. 16:5, Mk. 16:6) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Thus the look and emotion of our Lord are portrayed: “He looked round about on them with anger, being grieved at the hardness of their heart” (Mk. 3:5): “He looked round about on them which sat round about him, and said, Behold my mother,” etc. (Mk. 3:34): “He looked round aboutto see who had touched him in the crowd (Mk. 5:32): “He marvelled because of their unbelief” (Mk. 6:6): He looked on the young ruler and loved him (Mk. 10:21): He was moved with compassion toward the leper (Mk. 1:41): He sighed deeply in his spirit (Mk. 8:12).

Similarly Mark depicts the tender compassion of the Lord. A beautiful hint of his delicate and loving appreciation of an ordinary need closes the story of the healing of the ruler's daughter. In their joy and wonder at her miraculous restoration, the friends would naturally forget the immediate practical demand for food, of which the Lord promptly reminds them by his command that something should be given her to eat (Mk. 5:43). Luke notes the same circumstance. In like manner his appreciation of his disciples' weariness appears in the words, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest awhile” (Mk. 6:31). He is moved with compassion toward the multitude because they are as sheep without a shepherd (Mk. 6:34): he is touched with the need and fatigue of the many who had come from far (Mk. 8:3): he shows his interest in the condition of the epileptic lad by inquiring into the history of his case (Mk. 9:21): he is much displeased at the disciples' rebuke of those who are bringing the young children to him (Mk. 10:14).

In like manner Mark describes the mental and emotional states of those who were brought into contact with Christ. Those who witnessed the miracle of the loaves understood not, and their heart was hardened (Mk. 6:52): the disciples were perplexed, questioning among themselves what the rising again from the dead should mean (Mk. 9:10): they were amazed at his words about a rich man entering into the kingdom of heaven (Mk. 10:24): a sudden and mysterious awe fell upon them in their journey to Jerusalem (Mk. 10:32): Pilate marvelled at Jesus being already dead, and sent for the centurion in order to ask whether he had been any while dead (Mk. 15:44). Compare Mk. 1:29, Mk. 1:27; Mk. 5:20, Mk. 5:42; Mk. 6:20; Mk. 7:37; Mk. 11:18. He depicts the interest excited by the words and works of Christ; describing the crowds which flocked to him, and their spreading abroad the fame of his power (Mk. 1:28, Mk. 1:45; Mk. 2:13; Mk. 3:20, Mk. 3:21; Mk. 4:1; Mk. 5:20, Mk. 5:21, Mk. 5:24; Mk. 6:31; Mk. 7:36).

We find in Mark certain peculiarly forcible expressions in our Lord's language, such as, “To them that are without(Mk. 4:11); “Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men” (Mk. 7:8); “This adulterous and sinful generation” (Mk. 8:38); “Be set at nought(Mk. 9:12); “Quickly to speak evil of me” (Mk. 9:39); “Shall receive brethren and sisters and mothers,etc., “with persecutions” (Mk. 10:30).

His narrative runs. His style abounds in quick transitions. The word εὐθέως, straightway, occurs in his Gospel something like forty times. He imparts vividness to his narration by the use of the present tense instead of the historic (Mk. 1:40, Mk. 1:44; Mk. 2:3, sq.; Mk. 11:1, Mk. 11:2, Mk. 11:7; Mk. 14:43, Mk. 14:66). He often defines his meaning by coupling similar words or phrases. Beelzebub is called by two names (Mk. 3:22), and by a third (Mk. 3:30): The sick are brought at even, when the sun did set (Mk. 1:32): The blasphemer hath no more forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin (Mk. 3:29): He spake with many parables, and without a parable he spake not (Mk. 4:33, Mk. 4:34). Compare Mk. 3:5, Mk. 3:27; Mk. 5:26; Mk. 6:25; Mk. 7:21. He employs over seventy words which are found nowhere else in the New Testament. We find him preserving the identical Aramaic words uttered by the Lord. In his Gospel alone occur Boanerges (Mk. 3:17); Talitha cumi (Mk. 5:41); Korban (Mk. 7:11); Ephphatha (Mk. 7:34): and Abba (Mk. 14:36). Writing for Romans we find him transferring certain Latin words into Greek, such as legio, legion (Mk. 5:9); centurio, κεντυρίων, centurion, which elsewhere is ἑκατόνταρχος - χης (Mk. 15:39); quadrans, farthing (Mk. 12:42); flagellare, to scourge (Mk. 15:15); speculator, executioner (Mk. 2:27); census, tribute (Mk. 12:14); sextarius, pot (Mk. 7:4); praetorium (Mk. 15:16). Three of these, centurio, speculator, and sextarius are found in his Gospel only. He always adds a note of explanation to Jewish words and usages.

His style is abrupt, concise, and forcible; his diction less pure than that of Luke and John. Besides irregularities of construction which cannot be explained to the English reader, he employs many words which are expressly forbidden by the grammarians, and some of which are even condemned as slang. Such are ἐσχάτως ἔχει, is at the point of death (Mk. 5:23); κράββατος, bed (Mk. 2:4, Mk. 2:9, Mk. 2:11, Mk. 2:12); μονόφθαλμος, with one eye (Mk. 9:47); κολλυβισταί, money-changers (Mk. 11:15); κοράσιον, maid (Mk. 5:41); ὁ ρκίζω, I adjure (Mk. 5:7); ῥάπισμα, a blow of the hand (Mk. 14:65); ῥαφίδος, needle (Mk. 10:25).

I have described the characteristics of Mark at some length, because they lie peculiarly in the line of the special purpose of this book, which deals with individual words and phrases, and with peculiarities of diction, rather than with the exegesis of passages. Of this Gospel it is especially true that its peculiar flavor and quality cannot be caught without careful verbal study. It is a gallery of word-pictures. Reading it, even in the familiar versions, we may discover that it is, as Canon Westcott remarks, “essentially a transcript from life;” but nothing short of an insight into the original and individual words will reveal to us that the transcript itself is alive.

List of Greek Words Used by Mark Only



Mk. 12:13



Mk. 9:49



Mk. 7:37; Mk. 9:17, Mk. 9:25



Mk. 13:35


a place where two ways meet

Mk. 11:4



Mk. 1:16



Mk. 9:50


leap up

Mk. 10:50


sigh deeply

Mk. 8:12


it is enough

Mk. 14:41



Mk. 13:34



Mk. 2:4



Mk. 9:18, Mk. 9:20


sons of thunder

Mk. 3:17


to be given in marriage

Mk. 12:25



Mk. 9:3


two thousand

Mk. 5:13



Mk. 10:24


if (in swearing)

Mk. 8:12


to be amazed

Mk. 9:15; Mk. 14:33; Mk. 16:5, Mk. 16:6


to marvel

Mk. 12:17


exceeding vehemently

Mk. 14:31


take in the-arms

Mk. 9:36; Mk. 10:16



Mk. 15:46


in the night

Mk. 1:35



Mk. 9:8


set at naught

Mk. 9:12

ἐπιβάλλω (neuter)


Mk. 4:37


sew upon

Mk. 2:21


come running together

Mk. 9:25


at the point of death

Mk. 4:23


suffered (permitted)

Mk. 1:34; Mk. 11:16



Mk. 16:18

θαυμάζειν διὰ

to wonder because of

Mk. 6:6


little daughter

Mk. 5:23; Mk. 7:25

τὸ ἱκανὸν ποιεῖν

to content

Mk. 15:15


come down

Mk. 15:30


weigh down

Mk. 14:40


follow after

Mk. 1:36



Mk. 5:5



Mk. 10:16



Mk. 5:3



Mk. 15:39, Mk. 15:44, Mk. 15:45


to wound in the head

Mk. 12:4



Mk. 9:20



Mk. 1:38



Mk. 7:24



Mk. 4:27


having an impediment in speech

Mk. 7:32



Mk. 14:8



Mk. 12:34



Mk. 7:4



Mk. 8:28


ah! ha!

Mk. 15:29


from a child

Mk. 9:21



Mk. 7:8, Mk. 7:13


run round about

Mk. 6:55


a garden-plat

Mk. 6:40


porch or forecourt

Mk. 14:68


take thought before-hand

Mk. 13:11


day before the Sabbath

Mk. 15:42


come nigh unto

Mk. 2:4



Mk. 4:38


moor to the shore

Mk. 6:53


come unto

Mk. 10:35


with the fist

Mk. 7:3



Mk. 9:44, Mk. 9:46, Mk. 9:48



Mk. 6:27


mingle with myrrh

Mk. 15:23



Mk. 15:7


to be glistering

Mk. 9:3


branch, or layer of leaves

Mk. 11:8


a table-party

Mk. 6:39


to throng or crowd

Mk. 5:24, Mk. 5:31


to be grieved

Mk. 3:5


a Syro-phoenician woman

Mk. 7:26


countersign, token

Mk. 14:44



Mk. 8:25



Mk. 9:18



Mk. 7:22


beyond measure

Mk. 7:37


wine-fat or wine-press

Mk. 12:1


brazen vessel

Mk. 7:4

Vines TOC

Mark 1

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; 2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Mal 3:1; Matt 11:10; Luke 7:27; 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Isa 40:3; Matt 3:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23; 4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Matt 3:1; Luke 3:3; John 3:23; 5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. Matt 3:5; Luke 3:7; 6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; 2Kgs 1:8; Matt 3:4; Lev 11:22; 7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16; John 1:27; 8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. Matt 3:11; Acts 1:5; Acts 11:16; Acts 19:4; Isa 44:3; Joel 2:28; Acts 2:4; Acts 11:15;

9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. 10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: Matt 3:16; Luke 3:21; John 1:32; 11 And there came a voice from heaven, [saying], Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Ps 2:7; Isa 42:1; Matt 3:17; Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 3:22; Luke 9:35; Col 1:13; 2Pet 1:17; 12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. Matt 4:1; Luke 4:1; 13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, Matt 4:12; Luke 4:14; John 4:43; 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. Isa 56:1; 16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. Matt 4:18; 17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. Jer 16:16; Ezek 47:10; 18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him. Matt 19:27; Mark 10:28; Luke 5:11; Luke 18:28; 19 And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the [son] of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. Matt 4:21; 20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him. 21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. Matt 4:13; Luke 4:31; 22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. Matt 7:28; Luke 4:32;

23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Luke 4:33; 24 Saying, Let [us] alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. 25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. 26 And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine [is] this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. 28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.

29 And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Matt 8:14; Luke 4:38; 30 But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. 32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. Matt 8:16; Luke 4:40; 33 And all the city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. 35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. Luke 4:42; Matt 14:23; 36 And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. 37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All [men] seek for thee. 38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. Luke 4:43; Isa 61:1; Luke 4:18; 39 And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.

40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. Matt 8:2; Luke 5:12; 41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth [his] hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. 42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. 43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; 44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. Lev 13:2; Lev 14:1; 45 But he went out, and began to publish [it] much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter. TOC

Commentary: Mark 1 - Mark's narrative does not take rise so early as those of Matthew and Luke do, from the birth of our Saviour, but from John's baptism, from which he soon passes to Christ's public ministry. Accordingly, in this chapter, we have, I. The office of John Baptist illustrated by the prophecy of him (Mk. 1:1-3), and by the history of him (Mk. 1:4-8). II. Christ's baptism, and his being owned from heaven (Mk. 1:9-11). III. His temptation (Mk. 1:12, Mk. 1:13). IV. His preaching (Mk. 1:14, Mk. 1:15, Mk. 1:21, Mk. 1:22, Mk. 1:38, Mk. 1:39). V. His calling disciples (Mk. 1:16-20). VI. His praying (Mk. 1:35). VII. His working miracles. 1. His rebuking an unclean spirit (Mk. 1:23-28). 2. His curing Peter's mother-in-law, who was ill of a fever (Mk. 1:29-31). 3. His healing all that came to him (Mk. 1:32, Mk. 1:34). 4. His cleansing a leper (Mk. 1:40-45). — Henry

Mk 1:1-8

Isaiah and Malachi each spake concerning the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the ministry of John. From these prophets we may observe, that Christ, in his gospel, comes among us, bringing with him a treasure of grace, and a sceptre of government. Such is the corruption of the world, that there is great opposition to his progress. When God sent his Son into the world, he took care, and when he sends him into the heart, he takes care, to prepare his way before him. John thinks himself unworthy of the meanest office about Christ. The most eminent saints have always been the most humble. They feel their need of Christ's atoning blood and sanctifying Spirit, more than others. The great promise Christ makes in his gospel to those who have repented, and have had their sins forgiven them, is, they shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost; shall be purified by his graces, and refreshed by his comforts. We use the ordinances, word, and sacraments without profit and comfort, for the most part, because we have not of that Divine light within us; and we have it not because we ask it not; for we have his word that cannot fail, that our heavenly Father will give this light, his Holy Spirit, to those that ask it.

Mk 1:9-13

Christ's baptism was his first public appearance, after he had long lived unknown. How much hidden worth is there, which in this world is not known! But sooner or later it shall be known, as Christ was. He took upon himself the likeness of sinful flesh; and thus, for our sakes, he sanctified himself, that we also might be sanctified, and be baptized with him, Jn. 17:19. See how honourably God owned him, when he submitted to John's baptism. He saw the Spirit descending upon him like a dove. We may see heaven opened to us, when we perceive the Spirit descending and working upon us. God's good work in us, is sure evidence of his good will towards us, and preparations for us. As to Christ's temptation, Mark notices his being in the wilderness and that he was with the wild beasts. It was an instance of his Father's care of him, which encouraged him the more that his Father would provide for him. Special protections are earnests of seasonable supplies. The serpent tempted the first Adam in the garden, the Second Adam in the wilderness; with different success indeed; and ever since he still tempts the children of both, in all places and conditions. Company and conversation have their temptations; and being alone, even in a wilderness, has its own also. No place or state exempts, no business, not lawful labouring, eating, or drinking, not even fasting and praying; often in these duties there are the most assaults, but in them is the sweetest victory. The ministration of the good angels is matter of great comfort in reference to the malignant designs of the evil angels; but much more does it comfort us, to have the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Mk 1:14-22

Jesus began to preach in Galilee, after that John was put in prison. If some be laid aside, others shall be raised up, to carry on the same work. Observe the great truths Christ preached. By repentance we give glory to our Creator whom we have offended; by faith we give glory to our Redeemer who came to save us from our sins. Christ has joined these two together, and let no man think to put them asunder. Christ puts honour upon those who, though mean in this world, are diligent in their business and kind to one another. Industry and unity are good and pleasant, and the Lord Jesus commands a blessing on them. Those whom Christ calls, must leave all to follow him; and by his grace he makes them willing to do so. Not that we must needs go out of the world, but we must sit loose to the world; forsake every thing that is against our duty to Christ, and that cannot be kept without hurt to our souls. Jesus strictly kept the sabbath day, by applying himself unto, and abounding in the sabbath work, in order to which the sabbath rest was appointed. There is much in the doctrine of Christ that is astonishing; and the more we hear it, the more cause we see to admire it.

Mk 1:23-28

The devil is an unclean spirit, because he has lost all the purity of his nature, because he acts in direct opposition to the Holy Spirit of God, and by his suggestions defiles the spirits of men. There are many in our assemblies who quietly attend under merely formal teachers; but if the Lord come with faithful ministers and holy doctrine, and by his convincing Spirit, they are ready to say, like this man, What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth! No disorder could enable a man to know Jesus to be the Holy One of God. He desires to have nothing to do with Jesus, for he despairs of being saved by him, and dreads being destroyed by him. See whose language those speak, that say to the Almighty, Depart from us. This unclean spirit hated and dreaded Christ, because he knew him to be a Holy One; for the carnal mind is enmity against God, especially against his holiness. When Christ by his grace delivers souls out of the hands of Satan, it is not without tumult in the soul; for that spiteful enemy will disquiet those whom he cannot destroy. This put all who saw it upon considering, What is this new doctrine? A work as great often is wrought now, yet men treat it with contempt and neglect. If this were not so, the conversion of a notorious wicked man to a sober, righteous, and godly life, by the preaching of a crucified Saviour, would cause many to ask, What doctrine is this?

Mk 1:29-39

Wherever Christ comes, he comes to do good. He cures, that we may minister to him, and to others who are his, and for his sake. Those kept from public ordinances by sickness or other real hinderances, may expect the Saviour's gracious presence; he will soothe their sorrows, and abate their pains. Observe how numerous the patients were. When others speed well with Christ, it should quicken us in seeking after him. Christ departed into a solitary place. Though he was in no danger of distraction, or of temptation to vain-glory, yet he retired. Those who have the most business in public, and of the best kind, must yet sometimes be alone with God.

Mk 1:40-45

We have here Christ's cleansing of a leper. It teaches us to apply to the Saviour with great humility, and with full submission to his will, saying, “Lord, if thou wilt,” without any doubt of Christ's readiness to help the distressed. See also what to expect from Christ; that according to our faith it shall be to us. The poor leper said, If thou wilt. Christ readily wills favours to those who readily refer themselves to his will. Christ would have nothing done that looked like seeking praise of the people. But no reasons now exist why we should hesitate to spread the praises of Christ. — MHCC

Mk 1:1-8

We may observe here,

I. What the New Testament is - the divine testament, to which we adhere above all that is human; the new testament, which we advance above that which was old. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God, Mk. 1:1. 1. It is gospel; it is God's word, and is faithful and true; see Rev. 19:9; Rev. 21:5; Rev. 22:6. It is a good word, and well worthy of all acceptation; it brings us glad tidings. 2. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the anointed Saviour, the Messiah promised and expected. The foregoing gospel began with the generation of Jesus Christ - that was but preliminary, this comes immediately to the business - the gospel of Christ. It is called his, not only because he is the Author of it, and it comes from him, but because he is the Subject of it, and it treats wholly concerning him. 3. This Jesus is the Son of God. That truth is the foundation on which the gospel is built, and which it is written to demonstrate; for is Jesus be not the Son of God, our faith is vain.

II. What the reference of the New Testament is to the Old, and its coherence with it. The gospel of Jesus Christ begins, and so we shall find it goes on, just as it is written in the prophets (Mk. 1:2); for it saith no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said should come (Acts 26:22), which was most proper and powerful for the conviction of the Jews, who believed the Old Testament prophets to be sent of God and ought to have evidenced that they did so by welcoming the accomplishment of their prophecies in its season; but it is of use to us all, for the confirmation of our faith both in the Old Testament and in the New, for the exact harmony that there is between both shows that they both have the same divine original.

Quotations are here borrowed from two prophecies - that of Isaiah, which was the longest, and that of Malachi, which was the latest (and there were above three hundred years between them), both of whom spoke to the same purport concerning the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the ministry of John.

1. Malachi, in whom we had the Old Testament farewell, spoke very plainly (Mal. 3:1) concerning John Baptist, who was to give the New Testament welcome. Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Mk. 1:2. Christ himself had taken notice of this, and applied it to John (Mat. 11:10), who was God's messenger, sent to prepare Christ's way.

2. Isaiah, the most evangelical of all the prophets, begins the evangelical part of his prophecy with this, which points to the beginning of the gospel of Christ (Isa. 40:3); The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Mk. 1:3. Matthew had taken notice of this, and applied it to John, Mat. 3:3. But from these two put together here, we may observe, (1.) That Christ, in his gospel, comes among us, bringing with him a treasure of grace, and a sceptre of government. (2.) Such is the corruption of the world, that there is something to do to make room for him, and to remove that which gives not only obstruction, but opposition to his progress. (3.) When God sent his Son into the world, he took care, and when he sends him into the heart, he takes care, effectual care, to prepare his way before him; for the designs of his grace shall not be frustrated; nor may any expect the comforts of that grace, but such as, by conviction of sin and humiliation for it, are prepared for those comforts, and disposed to receive them. (4.) When the paths that were crooked, are made straight (the mistakes of the judgment rectified, and the crooked ways of the affections), then way is made for Christ's comforts. (5.) It is in a wilderness, for such this world is, that Christ's way is prepared, and theirs that follow him, like that which Israel passed through to Canaan. (6.) The messengers of conviction and terror, that come to prepare Christ's way, are God's messengers, whom he sends and will own, and must be received as such. (7.) They that are sent to prepare the way of the Lord, in such a vast howling wilderness as this is, have need to cry aloud, and not spare, and to lift up their voice like a trumpet.

III. What the beginning of the New Testament was. The gospel began in John Baptist; for the law and the prophets were, until John, the only divine revelation, but then the kingdom of God began to be preached, Luk. 16:16. Peter begins from the baptism of John, Acts 1:22. The gospel did not begin so soon as the birth of Christ, for he took time to increase in wisdom and stature, not so late as his entering upon his public ministry, but half a year before, when John began to preach the same doctrine that Christ afterward preached. His baptism was the dawning of the gospel day; for,

1. In John's way of living there was the beginning of a gospel spirit; for it bespoke great self-denial, mortification of the flesh, a holy contempt of the world, and nonconformity to it, which may truly be called the beginning of the gospel of Christ in any soul, Mk. 1:6. He was clothed with camels' hair, not with soft raiment; was girt, not with a golden, but with a leathern girdle; and, in contempt of dainties and delicate things, his meat was locusts and wild honey. Note, The more we sit loose to the body, and live above the world, the better we are prepared for Jesus Christ.

2. In John's preaching and baptizing there was the beginning of the gospel doctrines and ordinances, and the first fruits of them. (1.) He preached the remission of sins, which is the great gospel privilege; showed people their need of it, that they were undone without it, and that it might be obtained. (2.) He preached repentance, in order to it; he told people that there must be a renovation of their hearts and a reformation of their lives, that they must forsake their sins and turn to God, and upon those terms and no other, their sins should be forgiven. Repentance for the remission of sins, was what the apostles were commissioned to preach to all nations, Luk. 24:27. (3.) He preached Christ, and directed his hearers to expect him speedily to appear, and to expect great things from him. The preaching of Christ is pure gospel, and that was John Baptist's preaching, Mk. 1:7, Mk. 1:8. Like a true gospel minister, he preaches, [1.] The great pre-eminence Christ is advanced to; so high, so great, is Christ, that John, though one of the greatest that was born of women, thinks himself unworthy to be employed in the meanest office about him, even to stoop down, and untie his shoes. Thus industrious is he to give honour to him, and to bring others to do so too. [2.] The great power Christ is invested with; He comes after me in time, but he is mightier than I, mightier than the mighty ones of the earth, for he is able to baptize with the Holy Ghost; he can give the Spirit of God, and by him govern the spirits of men. [3.] The great promise Christ makes in his gospel to those who have repented, and have had their sins forgiven them; They shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, shall be purified by his graces, and refreshed by his comforts. And, lastly, All those who received his doctrine, and submitted to his institution, he baptized with water, as the manner of the Jews was to admit proselytes, in token of their cleansing themselves by repentance and reformation (which were the duties required), and of God's cleansing them both by remission and by sanctification, which were the blessings promised. Now this was afterward to be advanced into a gospel ordinance, which John's using it was a preface to.

3. In the success of John's preaching, and the disciples he admitted by baptism, there was the beginning of a gospel church. He baptized in the wilderness, and declined going into the cities; but there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, inhabitants both of city and country, families of them, and were all baptized of him. They entered themselves his disciples, and bound themselves to his discipline; in token of which, they confessed their sins; he admitted them his disciples, in token of which, he baptized them. Here were the stamina of the gospel church, the dew of its youth from the womb of the morning, Psa. 110:3. Many of these afterward became followers of Christ, and preachers of his gospel, and this grain of mustard-seed became a tree.

Mk 1:9-13

We have here a brief account of Christ's baptism and temptation, which were largely related Mt. 3 and 4.

I. His baptism, which was his first public appearance, after he had long lived obscurely in Nazareth. O how much hidden worth is there, which in this world is either lost in the dust of contempt and cannot be known, or wrapped up in the veil of humility and will not be known! But sooner or later it shall be known, as Christ's was.

1. See how humbly he owned God, by coming to be baptized of John; and thus it became him to fulfil all righteousness. Thus he took upon him the likeness of sinful flesh, that, though he was perfectly pure and unspotted, yet he was washed as if he had been polluted; and thus for our sakes he sanctified himself, that we also might be sanctified, and be baptized with him, Jn. 17:19.

2. See how honourably God owned him, when he submitted to John's baptism. Those who justify God, and they are said to do, who were baptized with the baptism of John, he will glorify, Luk. 7:29, Luk. 7:30.

(1.) He saw the heavens opened; thus he was owned to be the Lord from heaven, and had a glimpse of the glory and joy that were set before him, and secured to him, as the recompence of his undertaking. Matthew saith, The heavens were opened to him. Mark saith, He saw them opened. Many have the heavens opened to receive them, but they do not see it; Christ had not only a clear foresight of his sufferings, but of his glory too.

(2.) He saw the Spirit like a dove descending upon him. Note, Then we may see heaven opened to us, when we perceive the Spirit descending and working upon us. God's good work in us is the surest evidence of his good will towards us, and his preparations for us. Justin Martyr says, that when Christ was baptized, a fire was kindled in Jordan: and it is an ancient tradition, that a great light shone round the place; for the Spirit brings both light and heat.

(3.) He heard a voice which was intended for his encouragement to proceed in his undertaking, and therefore it is here expressed as directed to him, Thou art my beloved Son. God lets him know, [1.] That he loved him never the less for that low and mean estate to which he had now humbled himself;Though thus emptied and made of no reputation, yet he is my beloved Son still.” [2.] That he loved him much the more for that glorious and kind undertaking in which he had now engaged himself. God is well pleased in him, as referee of all matters in controversy between him and man; and so well pleased in him, as to be well pleased with us in him.

II. His temptation. The good Spirit that descended upon him, led him into the wilderness, Mk. 1:12. Paul mentions it as a proof that he had his doctrine from God, and not from man - that, as soon as he was called, he went not to Jerusalem, but went into Arabia, Gal. 1:17. Retirement from the world is an opportunity of more free converse with God, and therefore must sometimes be chosen, for a while, even by those that are called to the greatest business. Mark observes this circumstance of his being in the wilderness - that he was with the wild beasts. It was an instance of his Father's care of him, that he was preserved from being torn in pieces by the wild beasts, which encouraged him the more that his Father would provide for him when he was hungry. Special protections are earnests of seasonable supplies. It was likewise an intimation to him of the inhumanity of the men of that generation, whom he was to live among - no better than wild beasts in the wilderness, nay abundantly worse. In that wilderness,

1. The evil spirits were busy with him; he was tempted of Satan; not by any inward injections (the prince of this world had nothing in him to fasten upon), but by outward solicitations. Solicitude often gives advantages to the tempter, therefore two are better than one. Christ himself was tempted, not only to teach us, that it is no sin to be tempted, but to direct us whither to go for succour when we are tempted, even to him that suffered, being tempted; that he might experimentally sympathize with us when we are tempted.

2. The good spirits were busy about him; the angels ministered to him, supplied him with what he needed, and dutifully attended him. Note, The ministration of the good angels about us, is matter of great comfort in reference to the malicious designs of the evil angels against us; but much more doth it befriend us, to have the indwelling of the spirit in our hearts, which they that have, are so born of God, that, as far as they are so, the evil one toucheth them not, much less shall be triumph over them.

Mk 1:14-22

Here is, I. A general account of Christ's preaching in Galilee. John gives an account of his preaching in Judea, before this (ch. 2 and 3), which the other evangelists had omitted, who chiefly relate what occurred in Galilee, because that was least known at Jerusalem. Observe,

1. When Jesus began to preach in Galilee; After that John was put in prison. When he had finished his testimony, then Jesus began his. Note, The silencing of Christ's ministers shall not be the suppressing of Christ's gospel; if some be laid aside, others shall be raised up, perhaps mightier than they, to carry on the same work.

2. What he preached; The gospel of the kingdom of God. Christ came to set up the kingdom of God among men, that they might be brought into subjection to it, and might obtain salvation in it; and he set it up by the preaching of his gospel, and a power going along with it.

Observe, (1.) The great truths Christ preached; The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. This refers to the Old Testament, in which the kingdom of the Messiah was promised, and the time fixed for the introducing of it. They were not so well versed in those prophecies, nor did they so well observe the signs of the times, as to understand it themselves, and therefore Christ gives them notice of it; “The time prefixed is now at hand; glorious discoveries of divine light, life, and love, are now to be made; a new dispensation far more spiritual and heavenly than that which you have hitherto been under, is now to commence.” Note, God keeps time; when the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, for the vision is for an appointed time, which will be punctually observed, though it tarry past our time.

(2.) The great duties inferred from thence. Christ gave them to understand the times, that they might know what Israel ought to do; they fondly expected the Messiah to appear in external pomp and power, not only to free the Jewish nation from the Roman yoke, but to make it have dominion over all its neighbours, and therefore thought, when that kingdom of God was at hand, they must prepare for war, and for victory and preferment, and great things in the world; but Christ tells them, in the prospect of that kingdom approaching, they must repent, and believe the gospel. They had broken the moral law, and could not be saved by a covenant of innocency, for both Jew and Gentile are concluded under guilt. They must therefore take the benefit of a covenant of grace, must submit to a remedial law, and this is it - repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. They had not made use of the prescribed preservatives, and therefore must have recourse to the prescribed restoratives. By repentance we must lament and forsake our sins, and by faith we must receive the forgiveness of them. By repentance we must give glory to our Creator whom we have offended; by faith we must give glory to our Redeemer who came to save us from our sins. Both these must go together; we must not think either that reforming our lives will save us without trusting in the righteousness and grace of Christ, or that trusting in Christ will save us without the reformation of our hearts and lives. Christ hath joined these two together, and let no man think to put them asunder. They will mutually assist and befriend each other. Repentance will quicken faith, and faith will make repentance evangelical; and the sincerity of both together must be evidenced by a diligent conscientious obedience to all God's commandments. Thus the preaching of the gospel began, and thus it continues; still the call is, Repent, and believe, and live a life of repentance and a life of faith.

II. Christ appearing as a teacher, here is next his calling of disciples, Mk. 1:16-20. Observe, 1. Christ will have followers. If he set up a school, he will have scholars; if he set up his standard, he will have soldiers; if he preach, he will have hearers. He has taken an effectual course to secure this; for all that the Father has given him, shall, without fail, come to him. 2. The instruments Christ chose to employ in setting up his kingdom, were the weak and foolish things of the world; not called from the great sanhedrim, or the schools of the rabbin, but picked up from among the tarpaulins by the sea-side, that the excellency of the power might appear to be wholly of God, and not at all of them. 3. Though Christ needs not the help of man, yet he is pleased to make use of it in setting up his kingdom, that he might deal with us not in a formidable but in a familiar way, and that in his kingdom the nobles and governors may be of ourselves, Jer. 31:21. 4. Christ puts honour upon those who, though mean in the world, are diligent in their business, and loving to one another; so those were, whom Christ called. He found them employed, and employed together. Industry and unity are good and pleasant, and there the Lord Jesus commands the blessing, even this blessing, Follow me. 5. The business of ministers is to fish for souls, and win them to Christ. The children of men, in their natural condition, are lost, wander endlessly in the great ocean of this world, and are carried down the stream of its course and way; they are unprofitable. Like leviathan in the waters, they play therein; and often, like the fishes of the sea, they devour one another. Ministers, in preaching the gospel, cast the net into the waters, Mat. 13:47. Some are enclosed and brought to shore, but far the greater number escape. Fishermen take great pains, and expose themselves to great perils, so do ministers; and they have need of wisdom. If many a draught brings home nothing, yet they must go on. 6. Those whom Christ called, must leave all, to follow him; and by his grace he inclines them to do so. Not that we must needs go out of the world immediately, but we must sit loose to the world, and forsake every thing that is inconsistent with our duty to Christ, and that cannot be kept without prejudice to our souls. Mark takes notice of James and John, that they left not only their father (which we had in Matthew), but the hired servants, whom perhaps they loved as their own brethren, being their fellow-labourers and pleasant comrades; not only relations, but companions, must be left for Christ, and old acquaintance. Perhaps it is an intimation of their care for their father; they did not leave him without assistance, they left the hired servants with him. Grotius thinks it is mentioned as an evidence that their calling was gainful to them, for it was worth while to keep servants in pay, to help them in it, and their hands would be much missed, and yet they left it.

III. Here is a particular account of his preaching in Capernaum, one of the cities of Galilee; for though John Baptist chose to preach in a wilderness, and did well, and did good, yet it doth not therefore follow, that Jesus must do so too; the inclinations and opportunities of ministers may very much differ, and yet both be in the way of their duty, and both useful. Observe, 1. When Christ came into Capernaum, he straightway applied himself to his work there, and took the first opportunity of preaching the gospel. Those will think themselves concerned not to lose time, who consider what a deal of work they have to do, and what a little time to do it in. 2. Christ religiously observed the sabbath day, though not by tying himself up to the tradition of the elders, in all the niceties of the sabbath-rest, yet (which was far better) by applying himself to, and abounding in, the sabbath-work, in order to which the sabbath-rest was instituted. 3. Sabbaths are to be sanctified in religious assemblies, if we have opportunity; it is a holy day, and must be honoured with a holy convocation; this was the good old way, Acts 13:27; Acts 15:21. On the sabbath-day, tois sabbasin - on the sabbath-days; every sabbath-day, as duly as it returned, he went into the synagogue. 4. In religious assemblies on sabbath-days, the gospel is to be preached, and those to be taught, who are willing to learn the truth as it is in Jesus. 5. Christ was a non-such preacher; he did not preach as the scribes, who expounded the law of Moses by rote, as a school-boy says his lesson, but were neither acquainted with it (Paul himself, when a Pharisee, was ignorant of the law), nor affected with it; it came not from the heart, and therefore came not with authority. But Christ taught as one that had authority, as one that knew the mind of God, and was commissioned to declare it. 6. There is much in the doctrine of Christ, that is astonishing; the more we hear it, the more cause we shall see to admire it.

Mk 1:23-28

As soon as Christ began to preach, he began to work miracles for the confirmation of his doctrine; and they were such as intimated the design and tendency of his doctrine, which were to conquer Satan, and cure sick souls.

In these verses, we have,

I. Christ's casting the devil out of a man that was possessed, in the synagogue at Capernaum. This passage was not related in Matthew, but is afterward in Luk. 4:33. There was in the synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, en pneumati akathartō - in an unclean spirit; for the spirit had the man in his possession, and led him captive at his will. So the whole world is said to lie en tō ponerō - in the wicked one. And some have thought it more proper to say, The body is in the soul, because it is governed by it, than the soul in the body. He was in the unclean spirit, as a man is said to be in a fever, or in a frenzy, quite overcome by it. Observe, The devil is here called an unclean spirit, because he has lost all the purity of his nature, because he acts in direct opposition to the Holy Spirit of God, and because with his suggestions he pollutes the spirits of men. This man was in the synagogue; he did not come either to be taught or to be healed, but, as some think, to confront Christ and oppose him, and hinder people from believing on him. Now here we have,

1. The rage which the unclean spirit expressed at Christ; He cried out, as one in an agony, at the presence of Christ, and afraid of being dislodged; thus the devils believe and tremble, have a horror of Christ, but no hope in him, nor reverence for him. We are told what he said, Mk. 1:24, where he doth not go about to capitulate with him, or make terms (so far was he from being in league or compact with him), but speaks as one that knew his doom. (1.) He calls him Jesus of Nazareth; for aught that appears, he was the first that called him so, and he did it with design to possess the minds of the people with low thoughts of him, because no good thing was expected out of Nazareth; and with prejudices against him as a Deceiver, because every body knew the Messiah must be of Bethlehem. (2.) Yet a confession is extorted from him - that he is the holy One of God, as was from the damsel that had the spirit of divination concerning the apostles - that they were the servants of the most high God, Acts 16:16, Acts 16:17. Those who have only a notion of Christ - that he is the holy One of God, and have no faith in him, or love to him, go no further than the devil doth. (3.) He in effect acknowledgeth that Christ was too hard for him, and that he could not stand before the power of Christ; “Let us alone; for if thou take us to task, we are undone, thou canst destroy us.This is the misery of those wicked spirits, that they persist in their rebellion, and yet know it will end in their destruction. (4.) He desires to have nothing to do with Jesus Christ; for he despairs of being saved by him, and dreads being destroyed by him. “What have we to do with thee? If thou wilt let us alone, we will let thee alone.” See whose language they speak, that say to the Almighty, Depart from us. This, being an unclean spirit, therefore hated and dreaded Christ, because he knew him to be a holy One; for the carnal mind is enmity against God, especially against his holiness.

2. The victory which Jesus Christ obtained over the unclean spirit; for this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil, and so he makes it to appear; nor will he be turned back from prosecuting this war, either by his flatteries or by his menaces. It is in vain for Satan to beg and pray, Let us alone; his power must be broken, and the poor man must be relieved; and therefore, (1.) Jesus commands. As he taught, so he healed, with authority. Jesus rebuked him; he chid him and threatened him, imposed silence upon him; Hold thy peace; phimōthēti - be muzzled. Christ has a muzzle for that unclean spirit when he fawns as well as when he barks; such acknowledgments of him as this was, Christ disdains, so far is he from accepting them. Some confess Christ to be the holy One of God, that under the cloak of that profession they may carry on malicious mischievous designs; but their confession is doubly an abomination to the Lord Jesus, as it sues in his name for a license to sin, and shall therefore be put to silence and shame. But this is not all, he must not only hold his peace, but he must come out of the man; this was it he dreaded - his being restrained from doing further mischief. But, (2.) The unclean spirit yields, for there is no remedy (Mk. 1:26); He tore him, put him into a strong convulsion; that one could have thought he had been pulled in pieces; when he would not touch Christ, in fury at him he grievously disturbed this poor creature. Thus, when Christ by his grace delivers poor souls out of the hands of Satan, it is not without a grievous toss and tumult in the soul; for that spiteful enemy will disquiet those whom he cannot destroy. He cried with a loud voice, to frighten the spectators, and make himself seem terrible, as if he would have it thought that though he was conquered, he was but just conquered, and that he hopes to rally again, and recover his ground.

II. The impression which this miracle made upon the minds of the people, Mk. 1:27, Mk. 1:28.

1. It astonished them that saw it; They were all amazed. It was evident, beyond contradiction, that the man was possessed - witness the tearing of him, and the loud voice with which the spirit cried; it was evident that he was forced out by the authority of Christ; this was surprising to them, and put them upon considering with themselves, and enquiring of one another, “What is this new doctrine? For it must certainly be of God, which is thus confirmed. He hath certainly an authority to command us, who hath ability to command even the unclean spirits, and they cannot resist him, but are forced to obey him.The Jewish exorcists pretended by charm or invocation to drive away evil spirits; but this was quite another thing, with authority he commands them. Surely it is our interest to make him our Friend, who has the control of infernal spirits.

2. It raised his reputation among all that heard it; Immediately his fame spread abroad into the whole adjacent region of Galilee, which was a third part of the land of Canaan. The story was presently got into every one's mouth, and people wrote it to their friends all the country over, together with the remark made upon it, What new doctrine is this? So that it was universally concluded, that he was a Teacher come from God, and under that character he shone more bright than if he had appeared in all the external pomp and power which the Jews expected their Messiah to appear in; and thus he prepared his own way, now that John, who was his harbinger, was clapped up; and the fame of this miracle spread the further, because as yet the Pharisees, who envied his fame, and laboured to eclipse it, had not advanced their blasphemous suggestion, that he cast out devils by compact with the prince of the devils.

Mk 1:29-39

In these verses, we have,

I. A particular account of one miracle that Christ wrought, in the cure of Peter's wife's mother, who was ill of a fever. This passage we had before, in Matthew. Observe,

1. When Christ had done that which spread his fame throughout all parts, he did not then sit still, as some think that they may lie in bed when their name is up. No, he continued to do good, for that was it he aimed at, and not his own honour. Nay, those who are in reputation, had need be busy and careful to keep it up.

2. When he came out of the synagogue, where he had taught and healed with a divine authority, yet he conversed familiarly with the poor fishermen that attended him, and did not think it below him. Let the same mind, the same lowly mind, be in us, that was in him.

3. He went into Peter's house, probably invited thither to such entertainment as a poor fisherman could give him, and he accepted of it. The apostles left all for Christ; so far as that what they had should not hinder them from him, yet not so, but that they might use it for him.

4. He cured his mother-in-law, who was sick. Wherever Christ comes, he comes to do good, and will be sure to pay richly for his entertainment. Observe, How complete the cure was; when the fever left her, it did not, as usual, leave her weak, but the same hand that healed her, strengthened her, so that she was able to minister to them; the cure is in order to that, to fit for action, that we may minister to Christ, and to those that are his for his sake.

II. A general account of many cures he wrought - diseases healed, devils expelled. It was on the evening of the sabbath, when the sun did set, or was set; perhaps many scrupled bringing their sick to him, till the sabbath was over, but their weakness therein was no prejudice to them in applying to Christ. Though he proved it lawful to heal on the sabbath days, yet, if any stumbled at it, they were welcome at another time. Now observe,

1. How numerous the patients were; All the city was gathered at the door, as beggars for a dole. That one cure in the synagogue occasioned this crowding after him. Others speeding well with Christ should quicken us in our enquiries after him. Now the Sun of righteousness rises with healing under his wings; to him shall the gathering of the people be. Observe, How Christ was flocked after in a private house, as well as in the synagogue; wherever he is, there let his servants, his patients, be. And in the evening of the sabbath, when the public worship is over, we must continue our attendance upon Jesus Christ; he healed, as Paul preached, publicly, and from house to house.

2. How powerful the Physician was; he healed all that were brought to him, though ever so many. Nor was it some one particular disease, that Christ set up for the cure of, but he healed those that were sick of divers diseases, for his word was a panpharmacon - a salve for every sore. And that miracle particularly which he wrought in the synagogue, he repeated in the house at night; for he cast out many devils, and suffered not the devils to speak, for he made them know who he was, and that silenced them. Or, He suffered them not to say that they knew him (so it may be read); he would not permit any more of them to say, as they did (Mk. 1:24), I know thee, who thou art.

III. His retirement to his private devotion (Mk. 1:35); He prayed, prayed alone; to set us an example of secret prayer. Though as God he was prayed to, as man he prayed. Though he was glorifying God, and doing good, in his public work, yet he found time to be alone with his Father; and thus it became him to fulfil all righteousness. Now observe,

1. The time when Christ prayed. (1.) It was in the morning, the morning after the sabbath day. Note, When a sabbath day is over and past, we must not think that we may intermit our devotion till the next sabbath: no, though we go not to the synagogue, we must go to the throne of grace, every day in the week; and the morning after the sabbath particularly, that we may preserve the good impressions of the day. This morning was the morning of the first day of the week, which afterward he sanctified, and made remarkable, by another sort of rising early. (2.) It was early, a great while before day. When others were asleep in their beds, he was praying, as a genuine Son of David, who seeks God early, and directs his prayer in the morning; nay, and at midnight will rise to give thanks. It has been said, The morning is a friend to the Muses - Aurora Musis amica; and it is no less so to the Graces. When our spirits are most fresh and lively, then we should take time for devout exercises. He that is the first and best, ought to have the first and best.

2. The place where he prayed; He departed into a solitary place, either out of town, or some remote garden or out-building. Though he was in no danger of distraction, or of temptation to vain-glory, yet he retired, to set us an example to his own rule, When thou prayest enter into thy closet. Secret prayer must be made secretly. Those that have the most business in public, and of the best kind, must sometimes be alone with God; must retire into solitude, there to converse with God, and keep up communion with him.

IV. His return to his public work. The disciples thought they were up early, but found their Master was up before them, and they enquired which way he went, followed him to his solitary place, and there found him at prayer, Mk. 1:36, Mk. 1:37. They told him that he was much wanted, that there were a great many patients waiting for him; All men seek for thee. They were proud that their Master was become so popular already, and would have him appear in public, yet more in that place, because it was their own city; and we are apt to be partial to the places we know and are interested in. “No,” saith Christ, “Capernaum must not have the monopoly of the Messiah's preaching and miracles. Let us go into the next towns, the villages that lie about here, that I may preach there also, and work miracles there, for therefore came I forth, not to be constantly resident in one place, but to go about doing good.Even the inhabitants of the villages in Israel shall rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, Jdg. 5:11. Observe, Christ had still an eye to the end wherefore he came forth, and closely pursued that; nor will he be drawn by importunity, or the persuasions of his friends, to decline from that; for (Mk. 1:39) he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and, to illustrate and confirm his doctrine, he cast out devils. Note, Christ's doctrine is Satan's destruction.

Mk 1:40-45

We have here the story of Christ's cleansing a leper, which we had before, Mat. 8:2-4. It teaches us,

1. How to apply ourselves to Christ; come as this leper did, (1.) With great humility; this leper came beseeching him, and kneeling down to him (Mk. 1:40); whether giving divine honour to him as God, or rather a less degree of respect as a great Prophet, it teaches us that those who would receive grace and mercy from Christ, must ascribe honour and glory to Christ, and approach to him with humility and reverence. (2.) With a firm belief of his power; Thou canst make me clean. Though Christ's outward appearance was but mean, yet he had this faith in his power, which implies his belief that he was sent of God. He believes it with application, not only in general, Thou cast do every thing (as Jn. 11:22), but, Thou cast make me clean. Note, What we believe of the power of Christ we must bring home to our particular case; Thou canst do this for me. (3.) With submission to the will of Christ; Lord, if thou wilt. Not as if he had any doubt of Christ's readiness in general to help the distressed, but, with the modesty that became a poor petitioner, he refers his own particular case to him.

2. What to expect from Christ; that according to our faith it shall be to us. His address is not in the form of prayer, yet Christ answered it as a request. Note, Affectionate professions of faith in Christ, and resignations to him, are the most prevailing petitions for mercy from him, and shall speed accordingly. (1.) Christ was moved with compassion. This is added here, in Mark, to show that Christ's power is employed by his pity for the relief of poor souls; that his reasons are fetched from within himself, and we have nothing in us to recommend us to his favour, but our misery makes us the objects of his mercy. And what he does for us he does with all possible tenderness. (2.) He put forth his hand, and touched him. He exerted his power, and directed it to this creature. In healing souls, Christ toucheth them, 1Sa. 10:26. When the queen toucheth for the evil, she saith, I touch, God heals; but Christ toucheth and healeth too. (3.) He said, I will, be thou clean. Christ's power was put forth in and by a word, to signify in what way Christ would ordinarily work spiritual cures; He sends his word and heals, Psa. 107:20; Jn. 15:3; Jn. 17:17. The poor leper put an if upon the will of Christ; If thou wilt; but that doubt is soon put out of doubt; I will. Christ most readily wills favours to those that most readily refer themselves to his will. He was confident of Christ's power; Thou canst make me clean; and Christ will show how much his power is drawn out into act by the faith of his people, and therefore speaks the word as one having authority, Be thou clean. And power accompanied this word, and the cure was perfect in an instant; Immediately his leprosy vanished, and there remained no more sign of it, Mk. 1:42.

3. What to do when we have received mercy from Christ. We must with his favours receive his commands. When Christ had cured him, he strictly charged him; the word here is very significant, embrimēsamenos - graviter interminatus - prohibiting with threats. I am apt to think that this refers not to the directions he gave him to conceal it (Mk. 1:44), for those are mentioned by themselves; but that this was such a charge as he gave to the impotent man whom he cured, Jn. 5:14, Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee; for the leprosy was ordinarily the punishment of some particular sinners, as in Miriam's, Gehazi's, and Uzziah's, case; now, when Christ healed him, he warned him, he threatened him with the fatal consequence of it if he should return to sin again. He also appointed him, (1.) To show himself to the priest, that the priest by his own judgment of this leper might be a witness for Christ, that he was the Messiah, Mat. 11:5. (2.) Till he had done that, not to say any thing of it to any man: this is an instance of the humility of Christ and his self-denial, that he did not seek his own honour, did not strive or cry, Isa. 42:2. And it is an example to us, not to seek our own glory, Prov. 25:27. He must not proclaim it, because that would much increase the crowd that followed Christ, which he thought was too great already; not as if he were unwilling to do good to all, to as many as came; but he would do it with as little noise as might be, would have no offence given to the government, no disturbance of the public peace, not any thing done that looked like ostentation, or an affecting of popular applause. What to think of the leper's publishing it, and blazing it abroad, I know not; the concealment of the good characters and good works of good men better become them than their friends; nor are we always bound by the modest commands of humble men. The leper ought to have observed his orders; yet, no doubt, it was with a good design that he proclaimed the cure, and it had no other ill effect than that it increased the multitudes which followed Christ, to that degree, that he could no more openly enter into the city; not upon the account of persecution (there was no danger of that yet,) but because the crowd was so great, that the streets would not hold them, which obliged him to go into desert places, to a mountain (Mk. 3:13), to the sea-side, Mk. 4:1. This shows how expedient it was for us, that Christ should go away, and send the Comforter, for his bodily presence could be but in one place at a time; and those that came to him from every quarter, could not get near him; but by his spiritual presence he is with his people wherever they are, and comes to them to every quarter. — Henry

Mark Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

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