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The Gospel According to Mark: Chapter 3

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1Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” 4Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

7Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; 8hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. 9He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; 10for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. 11Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” 12But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.

13He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 14And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, a Gk these my brothers to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15and to have authority to cast out demons. 16So he appointed the twelve: b The terms leper and leprosy can refer to several diseases Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, 19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Then he went home; 20and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. 21When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 23And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

28“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” — 30for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

31Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters a Or gospel are outside, asking for you.” 33And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Notes:

a Gk these my brothers

a The terms leper and leprosy can refer to several diseases

b Or gospel

Text Commentary view alone
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

1.14–3.35 : Proclaiming and manifesting the kingdom of God as the renewal of Israel, over against the Jerusalem priestly rulers.

3.1–6 : Healing on the sabbath

(Mt 12.9–14; Lk 6.6–11 ).

1 :

Synagogue, see 1.21–22n.

2–4 :

Having already performed an exorcism on the sabbath ( 1.22–27 ), Jesus now pointedly performs a healing on the sabbath in the presence of the Pharisees, who remain silent.

5 :

Juxtaposition of Jesus' anger and grief at the Pharisees' program and his compassion in curing the man's withered hand.

6 :

In response to this and Jesus' previous actions, the Pharisees conspire with the Herodians, representatives of Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, to destroy him.

3.7–12 : Summary of Jesus' activity

(Mt 4.24–25; 12.15–21; Lk 6.17–19; 4.41 ). A summary of Jesus' program and the burgeoning response it evokes.

8 :

People flock to him in greater numbers and from a wider area, i.e., all Israel and even beyond (see Map on p. 68 NT), than they did to John the Baptist.

3.13–19a : Appointing the twelve

(Mt 10.1–4; Lk 6.12–16 ).

13–14 :

Up the mountain … appointed twelve, suggests a new Sinai, on which Jesus is constituting a renewed Israel symbolized by the twelve.

14–15 :

The twelve are invested with the same proclamation (of the kingdom) and authority and power to exorcize demons as Jesus, an extension of his program.

3.19b–35 : Defeat of Satan and the new community

(Mt 12.22–27; Lk 11.14–23; 12.10; 16.43–45 ). In a repeated narrative technique, Mark “sandwiches” one story into another.

21 :

To those who knew Jesus before he assumed the role of prophet or are concerned lest he be seized by the authorities, he appears to be out of his mind (cf. 6.1–3 ).

22–27 :

Both Jesus and the scribes (see 1.21–22n. ) think that current personal and social‐political life is caught in the struggle for dominion between God and Satan.

22 :

The threatened scribes demonize Jesus' power: He is a witch! Beelzebul, possibly “Lord of the (divine) house” (cf. Mt 10.25 ), or “Baal, the prince,” originally a title of the Canaanite storm and fertility god (2 Kings 1.2 ), later demonized into the chief power of evil.

23 :

In parables, in extended metaphors or analogies; cf. 4.2,33 .

24–26 :

A kingdom was thought of as a household on a large scale, and both kingdom and household were metaphors for God's and Satan's power or control. Jesus argues both that the scribes' charge is absurd and that even assuming they are right, Satan's rule is at an end.

27 :

By analogy, in his exorcism of demons Jesus (the “more powerful one,” 1.7 ) has broken into Satan's house, tied up “the strong man,” and “plundered his property.” This further implies that God's is now the only kingdom left, by which Jesus is acting.

28–30 :

From the Markan viewpoint, attacks on Jesus during his mission can be forgiven, but not attacks against the Holy Spirit acting in his movement.

31–35 :

Not necessarily an attack on his family (but see v. 21 ), but rather an indication that within the Jesus‐movement and its communities, those who do the will of God are Jesus' and each others' brother and sister and mother.

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