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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

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Commentary on Mark

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

4.12–17 (Mk 1.14–15; Lk 4.14–15):

The mission opens in Galilee, where the Great Commission ( 28.16–20 ) will occur.

12 :

Arrested (lit.“handed over”) is used for Judas's betrayal and the divine delivering of Jesus (see Isa 53.6 ). Withdrew, typical of Jesus' response to danger (see 12.15; 14.13 ).

13 :

Capernaum, home to Peter and Andrew, will be Jesus' own city ( 9.1 ).

15–16 :

Isa 9.1–2 . Matthew emphasizes Galilee's gentile * connection; here the Great Commission ( 28.19 ) begins.

17 :

Summarizes Jesus' message; repent reflects the Hebrew “Tshuva,” “return” or “change direction.”

4.18–25 .

18–22 (Mk 1.16–20; Lk 5.1–11; Jn 1.35–42):

The abrupt calling of the disciples is common in Hellenistic * and Hebrew stories (see 1 Kings 19.19–21 ).

23–25 :

Only Jesus teaches and proclaims.

23–24 :

Good news is “gospel.” Their synagogues * need not indicate alienation; Jesus restricts his mission to Israel ( 10.5b–6; 15.24 ).

8.1–13 :

2–4 (Mk 1.40–44; Lk 5.12–14):

Leprosy (see Lev 13–14 ) refers to various skin diseases. Lepers required priestly sanction to reenter society.

5–13 (Lk 7.1–10; Jn 4.46–53):

The gentile * centurion. Verse 7 may be read as a question—Shall I heal him?—anticipating a negative answer. Elsewhere Jesus restricts his mission to Jews ( 10.5b–6 ), and prior to the resurrection he displays reluctance at extending it to gentiles ( 15.24 ).

8 :

Matthew's Jesus never enters a gentile's home (contrast Mk 7 ).

9 :

Centurions command between 50 and 100 soldiers; here the centurion admits his helplessness and faith in Jesus' power.

11 :

May refer to Diaspora * Jews or to gentiles.

12 :

Heirs (lit. sons) of the kingdom refers in v. 13 to Jesus' followers: Even those inside the church may forfeit salvation through improper action and belief.

8.14–22 .

14–15 (Mk 1.30–31; Lk 4.38–39):

Peter's mother-in-law “serves”; the term derives from the Greek term for “deacon.” Peter's wife is not mentioned.

15–17 (Mk 1.32–34; Lk 4.40–41):

Another fulfillment citation; prior to the Gospels, this passage, like many other fulfillment citations, was not viewed as referring to the messiah. *

17 :

See Isa 53.4 . Matthew lacks Mark's commands for the demons' silence.

18–22 (Mk 4.35; Lk 8.22; 9.57–60):

Itinerancy marks Jesus' mission and that of his followers (see ch. 10 ).

19 :

Teacher is used by those who are not disciples; in Matthew, Jesus calls disciples; followers do not apply for the position.

20 :

Son of Man means “human being” (Ezek 37 ), but it also carries divine connotations (Dan 7.13–14 ).

21–22 :

Jesus' saying shocks; nothing, not even one's own family, takes precedence over service to him.

21.1–11 (Mk 1.1–11; Lk 19.28–38; Jn 12.12–18):

Preparations for Jerusalem. In Matthew (and Mark), this is Jesus' first entry into Jerusalem: Luke and John depict earlier visits. Although this event is traditionally called “Palm Sunday,” palms are mentioned only in John; in Matthean chronology, the entry occurs on Monday.

2–3 :

See comment on Mk 11.2 .

4–5 :

The ninth fulfillment citation, from Isa 62.11; Zech 9.9 .

7 :

Matthew takes literally Zechariah's poetic reference to two donkeys.

9 :

Hosanna, * originally a plea for salvation, became a festive shout. The citation comes from Ps 118.25–26 , the last Hallel Psalm sung at Passover. * One who comes has messianic connotations.

1.1–8 (Mt 3.1–12; Lk 3.1–18; Jn 1.6–8, 19–28):

John the Baptist.

1 :

Good news (Gk., “Euangellion”) is the literal meaning of “gospel”; Mark is the only canonical * Gospel to have this self-designation. Son of God appears rarely; Son of Man is Jesus' self-designation.

2a :

See Mal 3.1 .

3 :

Isa 40.3 advised the Babylonian exiles to build a road to Jerusalem; Mark adapts the statement to locate John in the wilderness.

4 :

The wilderness is a traditional place of renewal. See sidebars on “Gospels” (p. 7 ) and “John the Baptist” (p. 50 ).

1.9–15 .

9–11 (Mt 3.13–17; Lk 3.21–22; Jn 1.31–34):

The baptism. *

9 :

Mark neither records a Bethlehem birth and infancy account nor addresses the question of Jesus' sinlessness.

10 :

With the rending of the Temple * veil, the heavens symbolically open again at the cross ( 15.38 ).

11 :

The heavenly voice speaks directly to Jesus; in Matthew's account it makes a public proclamation.

12–13 (Mt 4.1–11; Lk 4.1–13):

The temptation.

12 :

Immediately is a Marcan motif * expressing urgency. The wilderness setting, temptation, and forty days echo the Exodus and Moses' experiences on Sinai.

13 :

Unlike his Hebrew ancestors, Jesus does not succumb to temptation in the wilderness; unlike Adam and Eve, he lives peacefully with animals and angels.

14–15 (Mt 4.12–17; Lk 4.14–15):

The good news. Jesus begins his mission only after the Baptist is arrested by Herod Antipas; the two are not depicted as rivals; rather, Jesus elaborates on John's message of repentance.

1.16–28 .

16–20

(Mt 4.18–22; Lk 5.1–11; Jn 1.35–42 ). The First Disciples. Simon will be nicknamed “Peter” or “rock” ( 3.16 ). The four disciples are not peasants but boat owners from Capernaum, a mid-sized Galilean city. The Gospels never mention the larger cites of Sepphoris and Tiberias, although Sepphoris is just a few miles from Nazareth. The Sea of Galilee is also known as the Sea of Tiberias and Lake Gennesaret.

21–29 (Lk 4.33–37):

The Capernaum synagogue. * Synagogues are places of worship and assembly; visitors were welcome to teach.

22 :

Scribes, * trained in interpretation * of Torah, * cited their teachers (“in the name of … ”); Jesus speaks on his own authority.

24–25 :

Demons recognize Jesus, but his disciples do not ( 3.11; 5.6–7 ). Be silent begins the messianic secret (see sidebar above, “The Messianic Secret”).

1.29–39 .

30–31 (Mt 8.14–15; Lk 4.38–39):

Simon's mother-in-law. His wife is not mentioned.

31 :

Serve is from the Greek “Diakonein,” from which we get the term “deacon.”

32–39 (Mt 8.16–17; Lk 4.40–41):

Galilean mission.

32 :

Sabbath ends at sundown.

35 :

Jesus frequently withdraws for prayer.

39 :

Jesus continues to teach and heal in synagogues.

1.40–2.12 .

40–44 (Mt 8.2–4; Lk 5.12–14):

The leper. Leprosy referred to a variety of skin diseases; clean indicates both healing and ritual purity required for re-entry into society. Only priests could pronounce lepers clean; the leper does not obey Jesus' commands either for silence or for priestly pronouncement.

45 :

Jesus' popularity as a healer interferes with his preaching.

2.1–12 (Mt 9.1–8; Lk 5.17–26):

The paralytic.

5 :

Granting forgiveness of sins was a divine prerogative.

9 :

The saying appears in a different context in Jn 5.8 .

10 :

The title Son of Man has both human (“mortal”) (Ezek 37.3 ) and superhuman (Dan 7.13–14, 1 Enoch * 37–71 ) connotations. Enigmatic like the parables, * the title requires hearers to determine the meaning for themselves.

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