Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 13 March 2012; Revised 2 June 2021
Scripture: Unless otherwise indicated Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB Updated Edition (1995). Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, DHE, GNC, HNV, MW, OJB, & TLV.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last two centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. Online. Click here for DSS abbreviations.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C.
● Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." Parsing information for Greek words is taken from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. Explanation of grammatical abbreviations and a pronunciation guide for New Testament Greek may be found here. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Good News of Mark" because Mark describes his book as "good news" (1:1).
Please see the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on Mark and his book.
Date: Summer A.D. 29
Second Miraculous Feeding, 8:1-9
Leaven of the Pharisees, 8:11-21
Healing the Blind Man, 8:22-26
Messianic Revelation, 8:27-30
Journey to Death, 8:31-38
Second Miraculous Feeding, 8:1-9
Parallel Passage: Matthew 15:32-39
1 In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples and said to them
In those days: This transitional clause continues the narrative from chapter seven with Yeshua still on the Decapolis side of the Sea of Galilee (7:31), a detail not mentioned in Matthew's account of the story. again a large crowd: A recurring theme in the Besorot is that Yeshua attracted large crowds wherever he went. The ethnic makeup of the crowd is not given, but the Gentile and probably Hellenistic Jewish population of the region provides an interesting scenario not generally contemplated by commentators. they had nothing to eat: This is the first of three references to the hunger of the crowd without explanation. No hint is given of Yeshua and his disciples eating, in spite of the bread mentioned in verse 5.
Jesus: The name of Yeshua is not in the Greek text of this verse. called: Grk. proskaleō, aor. mid. part., to call to one's presence. His disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs, one who learns through instruction from a teacher. In the apostolic writings mathētēs corresponds to the Heb. talmid and occurs only in the Gospels and Acts. Like other rabbis of his time, Yeshua gathered talmidim, but his recruitment was not merely to attend a school. and said: Grk. legō, pres., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; answer, ask, declare, say, speak, tell, told.
In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" functions here as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. to them: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here in reference to the disciples.
2 "I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat.
I feel compassion: Grk. splagchizomai, pres. mid., be inwardly moved by a circumstance or condition, to have compassion, to feel sympathy. In the story of the miraculous feeding in chapter six Yeshua's compassion centered on the fact that the people were without a shepherd (6:34). Here he sympathizes because of their physical need. they have remained with Me: People hung on Yeshua's words, but as John relates the people were there for the miracles (John 6:26). Their loyalty depended on what they could get out of Yeshua. People are still the same. If a charismatic minister can promise and produce "signs and wonders" the crowds will come.
three days and have nothing to eat: This is the second mention of the crowd's hunger. A sharp contrast to the feeding the 5,000+ is not only the lack of food, but the fact that the people had been with Yeshua for three days without eating. There is no mention of intentional fasting, which raises a number of questions, but none are answered by Mark's narrative. Why did the people come to hear Yeshua in the wilderness without bringing food with them? Why didn't people take a break, go home to eat and come back?
3 "If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance."
If I send them away hungry: Grk. nēstis, persons not eating or fasting. This is the third mention of the crowd's hunger. Why is it Yeshua's responsibility to feed these people? Are these people incapable of solving their own problem? In any event, Yeshua intends to solve the need for nourishment for the entire crowd. they will faint: Grk. ekluō, fut. pass., to become exhausted, to give out or to collapse. Yeshua's observation is that three days without food would pose a health hazard for a long hike back home. some of them have come from a great distance: Many of these people had come from many miles away. Some may have even followed him from Tyre and Sidon.
4 And His disciples answered Him, "Where will anyone be able to find enough bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?"
bread: Grk. artos, bread, without respect to leavening. Since bread was eaten at every meal in biblical lands, it was often used as a synonym for food and the support of life in general quite apart from its literal meaning (DNTT 1:250). The disciples' analysis of the situation may mean either that there were no villages close by (unlike the feeding of the 5,000, cf. 6:36) or that the resources available in the area from whatever source would be insufficient for the need. Ironically, the disciples don't raise the issue of cost as they did in the feeding the 5,000 (6:37).
5 And He was asking them, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven."
How many loaves: pl. Grk. artos, bread. See the previous verse. It seems strange that in these feeding stories the only ones with a lunch are Yeshua's disciples. Perhaps the disciples had learned something from the previous miraculous feeding, because this time they had a bigger lunch, although it is clearly inadequate to the need.
6 And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people.
And He directed the people: To avoid a mob scene of people fighting over food, Yeshua exercises authority to organize the crowd for eating. to sit down on the ground: This may seem like an unnecessary detail, but it highlights the reality of the situation. This was not a park with picnic tables and benches. and taking the seven loaves: Yeshua emphasizes his authority and control by taking charge of the food. No one in the crowd would have dared to take it away from him.
He gave thanks: Grk. eucharisteō, aor. part., to give thanks. In this situation the verb intends that God is explicitly the recipient of the thanksgiving. The aorist participle has the sense of a completed act, here as a technical term for the benediction before a meal, according to Jewish custom (DNTT 3:819). The CJB translates the verb as "made a b'rakhah." The verb does not refer to the content of the blessing as alluded to in the next verse, but the purpose of the blessing and the person to whom it was addressed. The formula for blessings set forth in the Mishnah consisted of two parts, first the standard invocation, Barukh attah Adonai, ("Blessed are You, O LORD," quoting Psalm 119:12) (Ber. 1:4), followed by the reason for the invocation, "who [action verb]," in this case "who brings forth [Heb. ha-motzi] bread [Heb. lechem] from the earth [Heb. min ha-aretz]" (Ber. 6:1).
and broke them: Grk. klaō, aor., to break, and in the LXX, other Jewish literature and the Besekh, the verb is only used of breaking off pieces of bread (cf. Jer 17:6). In Jewish practice the breaking of bread by the father or head of household gave the signal to begin a meal (BAG). The verb "broke" implies something of the texture of the bread. This was not the fluffy sliced white bread of modern times.
and started giving: Grk. didōmi, impf., to give or transfer something from one person to another. The imperfect tense with its emphasis on continuous action in past time describes the process of the divine miracle. them to His disciples to serve: Grk. paratithēmi, pres. subj., to place something beside, to set before. to them, and they served: In typical Hebraic fashion the verb is repeated that what was intended was in fact accomplished. them to the people: There is no mention of the people assisting in the distribution. They simply received the divine largesse.
7 They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well.
They also had a few small fish: In the feeding of the 5,000+ there were two small fish, so the quantity here couldn't have been much more. and after He had blessed: Grk. eulogeō, aor. part. to invoke divine favor or to express high praise, to bless; in this case the latter meaning. The corresponding Heb. verb is barakh, which lit. means to kneel or to bless (BDB 138). See the note on 6:41. Yeshua apparently offered the b'rakhah specified in the Mishnah for the fish: "Blessed are You, O LORD, by whose word all things exist" (Ber. 6:3).
them: the NASB, as other versions, assume the pronoun "them" to refer to the fish, and that Yeshua blessed the fish as Christians typically ask God to bless food. The CJB, trying to preserve the Jewish practice, inserts a preposition to convey the thought: "making a b'rakhah over them." The TLV translates similarly, "after offering a bracha for them." The NCV following the pattern of the previous verse says, "After Jesus gave thanks for the fish." However, there may be a simpler solution if the pronoun refers to the disciples, with a comma preceding it. The Greek text would support this translation "and blessing, them he told [=he told them] also these to be served."
8 And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces.
seven large baskets: Grk. spuris, a woven container made of straw and of varying size and function. The adjective "large" is not in the Greek text, but the size of the crowd and fact of excesses not eaten is suggestive for the capacity of seven baskets to collect the leftovers. left over: The mention of "broken pieces" may seem superfluous since the bread had all originally been broken, but the leftovers are fragments of those broken pieces. This was a culture and a place where one could not afford to waste bread, the staple of life. Throwing bread away was considered a sin (Job 22:7). The disciples would have been very grateful for what remained. Tverberg notes that even today in Jerusalem people hang discarded bread in bags near the street so that it is available for the poor to take (97).
9 About four thousand were there; and He sent them away.
four thousand: The parallel in Matt 15:32-39 notes that the four thousand were men, a point Mark omits. Many commentators, on the basis of similarities between this account of the feeding of the multitude and that in 6:30-44, have argued that there is only one event referred to in both passages (NET). While there are similarities in language and in the response of the disciples, there are also notable differences, including the different size of the crowd on each occasion, the length of time the crowd went hungry, the remoteness of the location, the size of the lunch Yeshua used to feed the crowd and the quantity of the leftovers. In the final analysis, the fact that Yeshua refers to two distinct feedings in 8:18-20 settles the issue.
10 And immediately He entered the boat with His disciples and came to the district of Dalmanutha.
Dalmanutha: A small village on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee about three miles north of Tiberias. In the parallel passage of Matthew 15:39 the town is identified as Magadan, the area identified with Taricheae mentioned by Josephus (Wars III, 10:6). Josephus also describes Taricheae as a place "full of materials for shipbuilding, and with many artisans." Taricheae was a Greek name of the place called in Hebrew Migdol ("watch-tower"), also known as Magdala. Taricheae comes from the verb 'taricheuein' to smoke or preserve fish. The Greek historian Strabo (c. 64 BC - AD 23) mentions that this place has excellent pickling places. Pickled fish was a major export industry of Galilee (Bible-History.com). Dalmanutha, being near Magdala, was probably the Greek name of one of the many Migdols (i.e., watch-towers) on the western side of the Sea of Galilee (EBD).
Leaven of the Pharisees, 8:11-21
Parallel Passage: Matthew 16:1-12
11 The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him.
The Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios, a rough transliteration of Heb. P'rushim, meaning "separatists." The title was born of the fact that they devoted themselves to study and observance of the Torah. The Pharisees traced their roots to the Hasidim ("pious ones") organized in the time of Ezra, but are known as an organized group from the 2nd c. BC (Jeremias 247). The first mention of the group is in the books of Maccabees where they are described as "a company of Hasideans, mighty warriors of Israel, every one who offered himself willingly for the law (Torah)" (1Macc 2:42; cf. 1Macc 7:13; 2Macc 14:6).
The Pharisees resisted syncretism and regarded Greek ideas as abominations. The Torah, by Pharisee definition, included both the writings of Moses and traditions they claimed originated by Moses. In addition to their pietism, the Pharisees held the biblical teachings of the Messiah, life after death, resurrection of the dead, immortality, and angels, all of which distinguished them from the Sadducees (Acts 23:8). Josephus estimated that there were at least six thousand Pharisees in the Land (Ant. XVII, 2:4). The Pharisees exerted considerable influence in Jewish culture, particularly in the synagogue, which they fostered as a place of worship, study, and prayer.
The synagogue gained a central and important place in the life of the Jewish people, rivaling the Temple. Nevertheless the Pharisees were influential in the Temple and the Divine worship, prayers, sacrifices, and various festival customs were performed according to the direction of the Pharisees due to their popularity with the people (Ant. XIII, 10:6; XVIII, 1:3-4). (For more information on the distinctions between major Jewish parties in the first century see Josephus, Ant., XVIII, 1:1-6; Wars, II, 8:1-14. A lengthy treatment of the Pharisee party, their theology and practices, can be found in Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Yeshua and the Original Church; Lederer Books, 1996.)
came out: Grk. exerchomai, aor., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. and began to argue with: Grk. suzēteō, pres. inf., engage in serious conversation about a matter, with the focus on either an amiable exchange of ideas ("discuss") or a contentious exchange ("argue, debate, dispute"), which is the meaning here. him seeking: Grk. zēteō, pres. part., to search for a way to satisfy an interest or pressing for an answer. The Pharisees were both persistent and insistent. from Him a sign: Grk. sēmeion may mean (1) a sign (signal); (2) a token; (3) a proof; (4) an extraordinary phenomenon; (5) a portent; or (6) a miracle (Mounce). In the LXX sēmeion primarily translates Heb. word oth (SH-226), "sign, pledge, token, standard or miracle" (DNTT 2:626). The term "sign" has a variety of important uses in Scripture.
The first usage of "sign" is in Genesis 1:14 in which the stars would serve as signs that speak for God or even as portents of events on earth (cf. Ps 19:1f; Jer 10:2). "Sign" also referred to a visible manifestation of God’s grace and favor, as the rainbow, circumcision and the Sabbath are covenantal signs (Gen 9:12f, 17; 17:11; Ex 31:13, 17; Ezek 20:12). Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, especially the many miracles for Israel's benefit (Ex 4:17; 7:3; Deut 4:34; 7:19; 11:3; 26:8). Sometimes a sign was a token that would serve as a warning or reminder, such as Aaron’s rod (Num 17:25) and the stones in the Jordan (Josh 4:6).
Sēmeion is used in the apostolic narratives in reference to miracles to attest the authority of Yeshua and validate His identity as the Messiah and Son of God. from heaven: Grk. ouranos refers to the area above the earth generally called the sky and associated phenomena. In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens”) (DNTT 2:191). The Hebrew and Greek words for "heaven" are used in Scripture to refer to three different places (Ps 148:1-4). From ground level the first heaven is the atmosphere in which birds fly (Gen 1:20; Rev 19:17). The second heaven is interstellar space (Gen 1:1, 8; Matt 24:29) and the third heaven is the location of the throne of God and the home of angels (1Kgs 8:30; Matt 6:9). The Pharisees probably use "heaven" as a euphemism for God as a source of authority.
to test: Grk. peirazō, pres. part., may mean (1) make an effort to do something in the face of uncertainty about the outcome; try, attempt; or (2) make a trial of the quality or state of someone's character or claims as an inducement for producing some kind of action, whether positive or negative; tempt, test. The second meaning applies here. The NASB translates the participle as an infinitive, which can express a purpose or a result. A participle is a verbal adjective and here further explains or defines the action of a verb. The present tense of the participle indicates the Pharisees were actively testing Yeshua, which was a chief characteristic of their relationship.
Him: Yeshua had already performed five signs as identified in the Gospel of John (i.e., creation-type miracles): (1) changing water to wine (John 2:1-12); (2) healing of the official’s son (John 4:43-54); (3) healing a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years (John 5:1-15); (4) feeding the multitude (John 6:1-15; Mark 6:30-44; as well as in this chapter) and walking on the water (John 6:16-24; Mark 6:48). These Pharisees apparently witnessed none of these events, although they likely heard of them. However, the request is a setup because they do not specify a sign. By leaving the decision to Yeshua they can then claim that his choice was inadequate.
12 Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, "Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation."
Sighing deeply: Grk. anastenazō, aor. part. (from ana, "moving up from down" which intensifies stenazō, "groan"), to sigh or groan to the uppermost; to groan or to sigh deeply or intensely (HELPS). The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. in His spirit: Grk. pneuma may mean (1) wind, (2) breath of the nostrils; (3) the vital principle by which the human body is animated; (4) a non-corporeal sentient being; (5) the Holy Spirit; or (6) fig. of an inner quality or disposition. The third meaning is intended here. The spirit of man is that which man has in common with God who is Spirit (Gen 1:2; John 4:24). In the LXX pneuma translates Heb. ruach, wind, breath or spirit, with the same range of meaning, first in Genesis 1:2.
He said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. Why does this generation: Grk. genea means family or descent and can mean a clan, race, people who have things in common (Luke 16:8), or nation. Depending on the context genea can refer to people in the past, people in the present or people in the future. no sign: Grk. sēmeion. See the previous verse. will be given: This statement needs explanation since in Matthew's narrative Yeshua says, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given, except the sign of Jonah" (Matt 16:4). This statement alludes back to his prior announcement:
But He answered and said to them, "...no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matt 12:39-40)
Mark may be showing some deference to Peter since he was a descendant of Jonah (Barjona, Matt 16:17). Peter objected strenuously to the "sign of Jonah" coming to pass (verse 32 below) and was rebuked in the presence of all the disciples for his presumption. A simpler explanation is that Mark's omission of the exception clause in Matthew 16:4 is not to deny Yeshua's statement, but to emphasize the principal assertion. In actuality the "sign of Jonah" might not be considered a sign from heaven, since the Pharisees probably had in mind Daniel's prophecy of the Son of Man coming on the clouds (Dan 7:13). Moreover, the "sign of Jonah" would be intended for those who believe, not the unbelieving adulterous generation.
In the context of Mark's narrative Yeshua means simply "you have no need of any sign beyond what I've performed so far, and I'm not going to perform one for you just to pass a test. My identity is not contingent on whether you believe." Yeshua treated their request in the same manner as the devil's temptation in the wilderness where Yeshua said, "You shall put the Lord your God to the test" (Matt 4:7).
13 Leaving them, He again embarked and went away to the other side.
Yeshua and his disciples finally took their leave of the Dalmanutha area and sailed toward Bethsaida, about 8 miles away. The "other side" does not mean the opposite side. They moved from the west bank to the north bank of the Sea.
14 And they had forgotten to take bread, and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them.
Failing to take bread does not seem a serious problem given their destination, but one wonders what happened to the seven baskets left over from the feeding of the four thousand. The implication is that there had been some passage of time after arriving at Dalmanutha.
15 And He was giving orders to them, saying, "Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod."
Beware of the leaven: Grk. zumē, leaven or fermented dough. In the LXX zumē renders Heb. seor (SH-7603), leaven, and Heb. chametz, (SH-2557), that which is leavened, usually bread, both of which occur first in Exodus 12:15. Leaven, of course, is that which causes fermentation and expansion of dough or batter. Various substances were known to have fermenting qualities; but the ordinary leaven consisted of a lump of old dough in a high state of fermentation, which was mixed into the mass of dough prepared for baking. In this context speaking in Hebrew Yeshua would have used seor to indicate leaven. The function of leaven is to influence and modify that to which it is joined.
"Leaven" is used in passages with both positive and negative meanings. In the parable of leaven (Matt 13:33-35), the leaven represented the kingdom of heaven. The message of the kingdom had a fermenting effect on Israel so that by Shavuot (Pentecost) the bread would be ready. Coincidentally Shavuot was the only festival in which leavened bread was brought into the holy place (Lev 23:17). "Leaven" is used much more often in a negative sense, as in Yeshua's teaching here. Paul explains the spiritual significance of leaven as symbolic of malice and wickedness, whereas unleavened bread (matza) is likened to sincerity and truth (1Cor 5:8). At the very least Yeshua is using leaven in its natural metaphorical sense of something small influencing the whole (cf. 1Cor 5:6; Gal 5:9).
of the Pharisees: See verse 11 above. The warning is not intended for the disciples to show disrespect to Pharisees since he also cautioned them to obey Pharisee requirements (Matt 23:3). However, as Matthew 23 illustrates the Pharisees had a major character flaw, "for they say things and do not do them." The leaven of the Pharisees is defined elsewhere as "hypocrisy" (Luke 12:1). The Pharisees established rigorous rules which they enforced on everyone, but since they were the elite religious class, they could exempt themselves from some of those requirements. (Sound familiar?) They could even set aside God's commandment and substitute one of their own rules in its place and give the rule the authority of "Moses said."
the leaven of Herod: Here referring to Herod Antipas. This subtle criticism of the ruler could be taken in a number of ways, since his faults were many. Like so many Israelites of the past (and so many Christians of the present) he "did what was right in his own eyes" (Jdg 17:6). He paid lip service to obeying God's commandments and made accommodation with the political powers and the wealthy. In the Matthew parallel passage Yeshua also warns of the leaven of the Sadducees (16:6), by which he meant their teaching (16:12). What did they teach?
The Sadducees can be credited with taking a strict construction approach to interpreting Scripture. In other words Scripture means what the original author intended and should be taken in a straight-forward manner (Prov 8:8-9). As a result they rejected the traditions favored by the Pharisees. However, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, immortality or rewards and punishments after death. They also did not believe in inherited sin, but asserted that man has free will to choose good or evil. Josephus provides a close-up view of the distinctive differences between the Pharisees and Sadducees (Ant. XIII, 5:9; 10:6; XVIII, 1:3-4; Wars II, 8:14).
16 They began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread.
The discussion of the disciples does not indicate panic, but there is concern that there was so little for all of them to share.
17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart?
Do you not yet see: The disciples apparently did not understand. They were too much of the mindset, "what have you done for me lately?"
18 "HAVING EYES, DO YOU NOT SEE? AND HAVING EARS, DO YOU NOT HEAR? And do you not remember,
Yeshua quotes a proverb common to the later major prophets (Jer 5:1; Ezek 12:2), indicating that the disciples had far too much in common with the ancient rebellious Israelites.
19 when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?" They said to Him, "Twelve." 20 "When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?" And they said to Him, "Seven."
Yeshua resorts to a simple teaching technique, as if the disciples were simpletons. He reminds them of God's miraculous supply on two prior occasions of their hunger when resources were meager. How quickly we forget what God has done for us! As the hymn says, "count your many blessings - name them one by one - and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done."
21 And He was saying to them, "Do you not yet understand?"
Yeshua poses the rhetorical question again, but does not offer an answer. If they have half a brain they should be able to figure it out with the reminder of the leftovers they enjoyed.
Healing the Blind Man (8:22-26)
22 And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him.
And they came to Bethsaida: Grk. Bēthsaida, a transliteration of Heb. Beit-Tsaidah, a location name meaning "house of fish." The city was known as Bethsaida-Julias and was located on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. This town was rebuilt under Philip the tetrarch, a son of Herod the Great, who named it Julias in honor of the Emperor Augustus' daughter. The apostolic narratives place the city near Chorazin (Matt 11:21). Josephus locates Bethsaida east of the Jordan and in lower Gaulanitis, the Tetrarchy of Philip (Wars II, 9:1; III, 3:5). Bethsaida was the home of Andrew, Peter, and Philip (John 1:44; 12:21).
And they brought: Grk. pherō, pres., to physically transport, to bring or to lead. The blind man has some friends or perhaps family members who were concerned enough to seeking healing for him, similar to the story of the paralytic (2:3). a blind man: Grk. tuphlos, one unable to see. to Jesus: lit. "to him." The name of Yeshua is not in the Greek text. and implored: Grk. parakaleō, pres., to encourage performance, to exhort or to entreat. Him to touch him: Grk. aptō, aor. mid. subj., to handle, to make physical contact with.
23 Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, "Do you see anything?"
Taking the blind man: Yeshua, without explanation, took the man away from the village to heal him. Most of Yeshua's healing were public, but the adversarial character of Bethsaida (Matt 11:21) probably convinced him of the need to be more circumspect in this situation. Again, Yeshua uses his own saliva as a medium for healing. See the note on 7:33. This time, however, Yeshua actually spit on the man and not his own hand. The procedure may seem "gross" to modern people, but it was an accepted medical treatment in that time. Yeshua's question regarding the effectiveness of his healing is without parallel in the record of his healing miracles.
24 And he looked up and said, "I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around."
I see them like trees: The man explains what he can actually see and his vision had improved from total darkness to making out shapes. The comparison to trees means that he saw bodies with limbs. This miracle is striking in that it was not instantaneous. The report of the man also confirms that he had not been born blind. Persons blind from birth do not have an exact idea of objects and cannot properly visualize a tree. The fact that men appeared as trees indicates that the man had been blind for a long period of time (Lane).
25 Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly.
Yeshua repeated the procedure, which accomplished complete success. This is the only occasion that Yeshua laid his hands on someone a second time.
26 And He sent him to his home, saying, "Do not even enter the village."
He sent him to his home: The exhortation of Yeshua reinforces the fact that the miracle took place outside of the town. Mark clarifies the intent of the instruction was for the man to go to his house, perhaps to share the good news with his family who had been left behind or perhaps to avoid a public sensation or both.
Date: Autumn A.D. 29
Messianic Revelation, 8:27-30
Parallel Passages: Matthew 16:13-16; Luke 9:18-20
27 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, "Who do people say that I am?"
Jesus: The English transliteration of the Greek Iēsous, which itself is a transliteration of Yeshua, our Lord's Hebrew name given to him by his parents in accordance with angelic direction. Yeshua is the only name by which he was known to contemporaries. See the note on 1:1 for the background of this precious name. went out: Yeshua and his disciples leave Bethsaida and head north, again into largely Gentile territory. to the villages: pl. Grk. kōmē, smaller and less prestigious than a polis or city. of Caesarea Philippi: Yeshua traveled to the environs of a significant city, about 25 miles north of Bethsaida, but apparently not into the city itself. About 1,150 feet above sea level, Caesarea Philippi is located along the southwestern slopes of Mt. Hermon, near one of the sources for the Jordan River. The area is one of the most lush and beautiful in the holy land, with groves of trees and grassy fields abounding. This city was the farthest north that Yeshua traveled.
In the first century the city, as well as the district, was known as Paneas, because it was a center for the worship of the Greek god Pan due to Hellenistic influence under the Seleucids (Josephus, Ant. XV, 10:3). Some scholars think the area to have been the site of ancient Baal-Hermon (Judg 3:3; 1Chr 5:23) (ISBE). The district was given by Augustus to Herod the Great in 20 BC, by whom a temple of white marble was built in honor of the emperor. Herod Philip rebuilt and beautified the town, calling it Caesarea as a compliment to Augustus, and adding his own name to distinguish it from Caesarea on the coast of Sharon (Ant. XVIII, 2:1).
Who do people say that I am? The question may have been rhetorical since he likely knew what people thought and he knew where he intended to take the conversation. Yeshua knew that speculation was rampant and he knew that his disciples could not have been unaffected by it.
28 They told Him, saying, "John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets."
They told Him: The explanation of the disciples echoes the speculation given in 6:15. John the Baptist: Yochanan the Immerser. See the notes on 1:4-8. and others say: This statement supports Yeshua's inference that people in the Land had been discussing openly Yeshua's identity. Elijah: Grk. Ēlias, which transliterates the Heb. Eliyah in the LXX. See the note on 6:15. The appearance of Elijah would mean that the end time had come. According to 2Kings 2:11, Elijah was still alive. In Malachi 4:5 it is said that Elijah would be the precursor of Messiah. Yeshua will have more to say about Yochanan the Immerser and Elijah in the next chapter (9:11-13). one of the prophets: See the note on 6:15.
29 And He continued by questioning them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "You are the Christ."
But who do you say that I am? This is still the crucial question for all those who claim to believe in Yeshua. Limited or even false perspectives on Yeshua abound among professing Christians. To some Yeshua may be an itinerant philosopher, or an apocalyptic sectarian or a social liberator or a counter culture activist, or a mystic guru or a suffering victim or the model successful WASP (white-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant) (Pryor 2). God will declare Yeshua's identity on the mountain, "This is My Son, My Chosen One" (Luke 9:35). Peter answered: It is not clear whether Peter spoke only for himself or for others of the disciples. Nevertheless, his answer reflects his firm conviction.
You are the Christ: Grk. Christos (Heb. Mashiach), the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, son of David, the Anointed One or Messiah. See the note on "Christ" in 1:1. In Greek culture christos had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor (DNTT 2:334). The use of Christos to render Mashiach in the LXX infused new meaning into the Greek word. The Heb. title Mashiach means ‘anointed one’ or ‘poured on.’ Mashiach and at this time was associated with the expected Messiah prophesied in Psalm 2:2 and Daniel 9:25-26. Peter declared unequivocally that Yeshua was the expected Messiah.
In Matthew's version Peter adds "the Son of the living God" (Matt 16:16). Since Mark's narrative reflects the preaching of Peter, then why did not Mark include this part of the confession? Matthew probably included the statement because he personally witnessed the event. Perhaps Peter didn't repeat this part of his confession when he shared the story in his sermons. Mark also may not have included the title because he viewed it as a tautology. "Son of God," after all, is an idiomatic title for the Messiah and does not automatically mean "Second Person of the Trinity" as generally interpreted by Christian theologians. See the notes on 1:1 and 3:11.
30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him.
For the supposed Messianic Secret see the note on 1:34. For Peter to tell others that Yeshua had confirmed the Messianic revelation would have brought about unwanted consequences.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 16:21-28; Luke 9:22-27
He began to teach: Prior to this Yeshua had only spoken of his coming sufferings in hints, but now he declares openly the harsh reality. This is the first of three warnings of the Passover drama (9:31; 10:33-34). His terse summary sets forth the who, what, when and where. the Son of Man: For this Messianic title see the note on 2:10. While the title among Jews normally held an eschatological meaning, Yeshua introduces the element of necessary suffering. must suffer: Grk. paschō, aor. inf., to experience something, but often with a negative connotation in association with physical pain. many things: pl. of Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope. Yeshua's entire body would be inflicted with pain.
and be rejected: Grk. apodokimazō, aor. pass. inf., to refuse to recognize as qualified, specifically in reference to Yeshua's claims of being the Messiah. The suffering and rejection could not be avoided, both because of the hostility of his adversaries and the providential plan of God for final atonement and redemption (Acts 2:23). by the elders: pl. of Grk. presbuteros, which primarily carries the idea of ruling authority, leadership or acting in an official capacity. See the note on 7:3. Here the term refers to members of the Sanhedrin who came from the most influential and wealthy lay families in Jerusalem (Lane 532).
and the chief priests: pl. of Grk. archiereus, a high or chief priest. The "chief priest" would be Caiaphas, the high priest, but the plural noun would include former high priests and holders of the priestly offices of higher rank in the Temple, altogether some fifteen to twenty persons. From Acts 4:1; 5:17 and Josephus (Ant. XX, 9:1) we know that the chief priests were generally Sadducees (Jeremias 230). Based on that fact it is reasonable to say that the Temple was under the control of the Sadducean party, although rituals were normally done in accordance with Pharisee wishes (Ant. XIII, 10:6; XVIII, 1:3).
The former high priests would presumably include Annas, Ishmael ben Phiabi, Eleazar and Simon ben Kamithos (Lane 531f). Jeremias made the following list of working chief priests based on rabbinical sources (160):
● The ruling high priest (Heb. kohen gadol).
● The Captain of the temple (Heb. sagan or nagid). The sagan (or nagid) had permanent oversight over all Temple activities and of all officiating priests (Jeremias 163). He was next in rank to the high priest and could step in to fulfill his duties if necessary. In addition, the sagan was the chief of the Temple police. Josephus refers to him as stratēgos of the Temple ("commander" in Ant. XX, 6:2 and "captain" in Wars VI, 5:3). Luke also uses this term in Acts 4:1; 5:24.
● The director of the weekly division of ordinary priests (Heb. rosh ha-mishmar).
● The director of the daily shift (Heb. rosh beit av).
● The seven temple overseers (Heb. ammarkalim).
● The three or more temple treasurers (Heb. gizbarim).
A corresponding list of ranks is found in the War Scroll (1QM 2:1ff) of the DSS (TDSS 149). The DSS list has the high priest, his deputy, twelve chief priests, and the directors of the priests' weekly courses; twelve chief Levites, and the directors of the weekly Levitical courses.
and the scribes: pl. of Grk. grammateus, which translates Heb. sofer, and refers to a specialist in Mosaic legal matters. A scribe was a legal scholar and a teacher of the Torah. They might be Pharisees (2:16; cf. Acts 5:34) or they might be Sadducees or some other party. See the note on 1:22. The mention of these three classes together indicates membership of the Sanhedrin. and be killed: Grk. apokteinō, aor. pass. inf., put an end by force to existence of someone, kill. The irony of the prophecy is that Yeshua had to let himself be killed. He could not commit suicide and accomplish atonement.
Relevant to the verb choice is that both Greek and Hebrew have two words for taking a human life. The word for intentional murder or assassination in Hebrew is ratzach (BDB 953) and in Greek phoneuō. For accidental killing, manslaughter, killing in war or court-ordered execution the Hebrew word is harag (BDB 246) and the Greek word is apokteinō. Yeshua prophesies that his death will come about as a result of a court-ordered execution. In contrast two apostles would later accuse Jewish leaders of murdering Yeshua (Stephen, Acts 7:52; and Jacob, Jas 5:6).
and after: Grk. meta, prep. with a root meaning of "in the midst of" (Dana 107), may be used (1) as a marker of association or accompaniment; with, among; or (2) as a sequential or positional marker; after, behind. The second usage is intended here. three: Grk. treis, adj., the cardinal number three. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the time period from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). In the LXX hēmera renders the Heb. yom which has the same range of meaning. Counting or numbering days (cf. Psalm 90:12) was an integral part of Hebrew culture as indicated in the calendar that regulated agricultural and religious life. Every time yom occurs with a number (as here), it always has a literal meaning.
rise again: Grk. anistēmi, aor. inf., to rise, stand up or get up and in its ordinary use refers to the physical motion of transition from a sitting or prone position or simply standing. The verb does have an idiomatic use in describing a personal elevation in status (Mark 3:26), as well as restoration to life from death, which is the meaning here. The translation of "rise again" is a tautology, because Yeshua had not been previously raised from the dead. The sentence is not completed, but the implication is "be resurrected from death." The verb alludes to Yeshua's burial in a tomb in which his dead body would be laid on a slab of rock.
In the LXX anistēmi occurs in a few passages to refer to the dead coming back to life. In Job 14:12 anistēmi renders Heb. qum (SH-6965, to arise, stand up, stand), where Job questions the possibility of life after death. Then in Job 19:26 anistēmi occurs without Heb. equivalent to translate "in my flesh" where Job affirms his expectation of seeing God. The verb anistēmi also renders Heb. amad (SH-5975), "to take one's stand, to stand," in Daniel 12:13 where it is used of the last days' resurrection.
With the root meaning of the preposition meta, Yeshua did not mean that three 24-hour days would elapse before his resurrection occurred. In other words, "after three days" is idiomatically equivalent to "the third day" (cf. Matt 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Luke 9:22; 13:32; 18:33; Acts 10:40). Some critics of Yeshua's prediction have cited his comparison to Jonah in Matthew 12:40 as a contradiction, since Yeshua's body obviously did not lay 72 hours in a tomb. Such criticism relies on faulty exegesis. Some scholars attempt to resolve the supposed contradiction by explaining the "three days and three nights" as rhetorical rather than literal.
Kasdan suggests that Yeshua intended the contrast with Jonah as a classic rabbinic parallelism and not a wooden fulfillment of the specific details (130). After all, Jonah did not physically die. He was merely confined inside the great fish. In reality Matthew 12:40 says nothing about resurrection. Yeshua's point was that he would experience a place of affliction as did Jonah (cf. Jon 2:2). Given the syntax of Yeshua's prediction "just as ... so" the phrase "heart of the earth" in Matthew 12:40 should be translated "heart of the Land." Jews in the first century commonly referred to the territory of Judea, Samaria and Galilee simply as "the Land" (Heb. ha aretz) (Edersheim-Sketches 16). By "heart of the Land" Yeshua meant being kept in Jerusalem to complete the will of the Father.
From Jonah's point of view being inside the fish amounted to death. When the sailors threw him overboard they expected his death and pled for God's mercy (Jon 1:14). Jonah cried for help "from the depth of Sheol" (Jon 2:1), and in verse 6 he speaks of the Pit. The mention of "three days and three nights" should not be taken literalistically. For Jews this time reference included one whole natural day, consisting of twenty four hours, and part of two others; the Jews had no other way of expressing a natural day but by "day and night." Thus, by Jewish reckoning part of a day counted as a whole. After all, the first mention of "day" in the Bible is for a period of light (Gen 1:5).
For example, in 1 Samuel 30:12-13 David catches up with an Egyptian servant who served in the Amalekite army but had taken sick and was abandoned "three days and three nights" ago, and in the Hebrew text of verse 13 the Egyptian says this is "the third day" (Kaiser 170). Also, Esther proclaimed a fast lasting three days and nights (Esth 4:16) and yet on the third day Esther went before the king (Esth 5:1). Finally, the manner of counting days inclusively is confirmed in Luke 13:32 where Yeshua says, "today and tomorrow, and the third day."
So, we must consider when the three days began and what happened during that time as a prelude to resurrection. Yeshua presented a timeline that began with "suffering and being rejected" by the Jewish leaders (this verse) and "delivered into the hands of" the Jewish leaders (Mark 9:31). The apostolic narratives affirm that at least by the fourth watch (3—6 a.m.) of Sunday the Father returned Yeshua's spirit to his body and the resurrected Yeshua disappeared from the tomb (Mark 16:2; John 20:1). So counting backwards, the second day of the sequence began Friday evening after his burial and the first day began Thursday evening during the last supper from which Judas departed to complete his betrayal of Yeshua to the chief priests (John 13:21-30).
See my web article The Final Days of Yeshua for a listing of Yeshua's activities during his final week leading to his death and resurrection.
32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.
He was stating the matter plainly: Grk. parrēsia refers to plain and direct speech without having to be under constraint to watch one's words. Since Yeshua was surrounded only by his disciples there was no need to speak in a parable or in a cryptic manner. Peter took Him aside: Grk. proslambanō, aor. mid. part., to take to oneself in a gesture of privacy. Peter at least had the discretion to relate his objection in private, although the gesture does not mean that he wasn't overheard. and began to rebuke Him: Grk. epitimaō, pres. inf., to express urgently to elicit compliance, to reprimand, reprove or rebuke.
Peter clearly expected Yeshua to be the Mashiach ben David, the conquering hero. For Yeshua to predict his rejection and death was too much to bear. Of course, Peter should have known better because Hebrew prophets clearly predicted the death of the Messiah (Isa 53:8; Dan 9:24-26; Zech 12:10). Peter's chutzpah (audacity) is breathtaking. Yeshua was actually talking about facing his enemies in Jerusalem in cave in to their plans to destroy him. The man who had once cowered before Yeshua in fear (Luke 5:8) now dares to challenge the Messiah's authority, much as his ancestor Jonah did who rejected God's commission to go the Assyrian enemies of Israel.
33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."
But turning around: In spite of Peter's effort to keep the confrontation private his fellow disciples had seen his outburst. He rebuked Peter: The same verb is repeated as in the previous verse. Yeshua did not take the part of compassionate friend or counselor. There was no sympathy with Peter's negative feelings. Peter had stepped over the line, so Yeshua issued a sharp reprimand. Get behind Me, Satan: Grk. satanas, adversary. Since in the Tanakh satanas can either be a human being (1Sam 29:4; 1Kgs 11:14, 24, 25; Ps 109:6) or a heavenly being (Num 22:22, 32; 1Sam 29:4; 1Chr 21:1; Job 2:1; Zech 3:1), Yeshua uses the term in its general meaning of a human adversary. Capitalizing the word is unnecessary. Yeshua would not have confused Peter with the devil. Peter's rebuke placed him in the camp of Yeshua's enemies. setting your mind: Grk. phroneō, to engage in the process of mental activity, here to focus on a line of thought or attitude. The full statement in the Greek is lit. "you are minding not the things of God, but the things of men" (Marshall). Peter is doing the opposite of what Yeshua expects from a disciple, as is made clear in the next verse.
34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
And He summoned the crowd: Grk. ochlos, an aggregate of people in a given area. In context Mark is merely distinguishing between the Twelve and the other disciples who followed Yeshua, such as the women of Luke 8:1-3 and the unnamed disciples of John 6:66. Yeshua motioned the entire traveling group to gathering around. He needed to act quickly to prevent Peter's opposition from turning into mutiny. If anyone: Yeshua establishes the terms for his expectation by referencing the act of traveling with him. Merely going along with him is not the same thing as truly following him.
he must deny himself: Grk. aparneomai, aor. mid. imp., refuse to acknowledge or recognize. The use of the verb with the personal pronoun represents an idiomatic expression to not put one's own interests first (Danker). In context the interests of the Master and Messiah must be given priority. To deny oneself does not mean practicing some form of asceticism or developing low self-esteem, but placing the will of God above one’s own feelings, desires and urges (Stern 55). Denying oneself means abandoning the relativism of determining one's own code of conduct, and conforming oneself to the will of God already expressed in the Torah (cf. Matt 5:19; 7:22-24; 19:17).
take up his cross: Grk. stauros is a structure used for carrying out a death sentence. In early Classical Greek writers (e.g. Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon) the stauros referred to an upright stake, especially a pointed one (Thayer). The corresponding Hebrew word is tzelav (Gruber-Notes 8), but stauros does not occur in the LXX at all (DNTT 1:393). However, the verb stauroō does occur in Esther 7:9, "Behold also, the gallows [Heb. ets, tree, gallows; LXX zulon, tree] fifty cubits high, which Haman has made for Mordekhai, who spoke good for the king, stands in the house of Haman. The king said, Hang [Heb. talah, hang; LXX stauroō] him thereon" (HNV). Josephus, in referring to Esther 7:9 uses stauros for the Hebrew ets (Antiquities of the Jews, XI, 6:10-11).
The Roman stauros was a vertical wooden stake with a crossbar, usually shaped more like a "T" than the Christian symbol. Roman citizens were exempt from this form of execution, but would be beheaded for a capital crime. Crucifixion was common among Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Persians and Babylonians, but never among Jews. Jewish law specified four methods of execution—stoning, burning, beheading and strangling (Sanh. 7:1). Thus, many Jews had difficulty accepting a crucified Messiah, because the Torah identifies a man executed by hanging from a tree as accursed (Deut 21:22-23; cf. Gal 3:13). Actually, the curse would apply to being executed for a capital crime regardless of the means. (For a description of crucifixion see the ISBE article Cross.)
To many Christians the cross represents all they hold dear and it is an apt symbol of faith in Yeshua. But for centuries Jews were killed under the sign of the cross by persons claiming to be followers of the Jewish Messiah and for some Messianic Jews it symbolizes persecution of Jews. David Stern, preferring not to represent New Covenant faith by the word "cross," renders the word as "execution-stake" in the Complete Jewish Bible. Daniel Gruber, taking a similar viewpoint, uses "stake," "deathstake" and "tree of death" instead of "cross" in his Messianic Writings. The Orthodox Jewish Bible has "etz shel hakarav atzmo (tree of self-sacrifice). In contrast the Messianic versions Hebrew Names Version and Tree of Life: New Covenant do use "cross."
In order to understand what Yeshua meant by taking up a cross, we need to first consider what the cross meant to Yeshua. For him cross-bearing did not symbolize an irritation or martyrdom, but being an atoning sacrifice. Disciples obviously cannot make atonement by their own deaths, but disciples must be prepared to accept the reality of suffering and persecution just as Messiah suffered (see the next verse; cf. Matt 24:9; Mark 10:30; John 15:20). Paul expressed the desire, "My aim is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the sharing of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death" (Php 3:10 TLV).
As Yeshua has already stated in his rebuke of Peter, cross-bearing implies placing God's interests ahead of personal interests. This basic virtue can impact life in a variety of ways. First, loyalty to Yeshua must come before family (Luke 14:26). Second, being a disciple of Yeshua cannot be in secret. Discipleship must be publicly owned (verse 38 below). Third, the disciple must be willing to forgive his enemies. From the cross Yeshua prayed that his executioners would be forgiven (Luke 23:34). He had taught his disciples early in his ministry to love their enemies (Matt 5:44; Luke 6:27). He had also taught them to petition God for forgiveness on the basis of how they forgave others (Matt 6:12-15; Mark 11:25). Forgiveness is probably the single hardest virtue to develop, which is why it can be likened to taking up a cross.
and follow Me: Grk. akoloutheo, pres. imp., to be in motion in sequence behind someone or to be in close association with someone. Yeshua issues a command that the disciple is to start and keep on obeying. The act of following involves three activities: (1) submission to God's sovereign will in decision-making; (2) imitating the moral example of Yeshua and (3) maintaining a close relationship with him through prayer and worship.
"For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. 22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness." (1Pet 2:21-24)
Yeshua's message for Peter could not possibly be missed: "You can either follow me on my terms or you can leave."
35 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it.
For whoever wishes to save: Grk. sōzō, aor. inf., in ordinary Greek usage it meant to preserve or rescue from natural dangers and bodily afflictions. However, Jewish Greek invested significant theological meaning in the sense of deliverance from God’s judgment on the world. his life: Yeshua probably alludes to the prevalent belief among Pharisees that certain charitable acts take the place of atonement and escape the judgment of Gehenna. For the Pharisees and other highly religious Jews, almsgiving, prayer and fasting were the most important components of righteous living. Almsgiving was considered the most important of the three. Giving alms gained merit in the sight of God, and even gained atonement and forgiveness for past sins.
"It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold. For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin." (Tobit 12:8-9)
"For almsgiving to a father will not be forgotten, and against your sins it will be credited to you." Sirach 3:14; "Water extinguishes a blazing fire: so almsgiving atones for sin." (Sirach 3:30)
"Charity saves from death" (Baba Bathra 10a).
While charity is a worthy value, it cannot take the place of a blood sacrifice for sin (Lev 17:11; Heb 9:22). This substitution for God's commandment was just another one of those false doctrines of the Pharisees (Mark 7:13). Unfortunately, the elevation of the merit of charity would be adopted as dogma by Rabbinic leaders after the destruction of the temple.
will lose it: Yeshua makes it abundantly clear that no one can save himself. whoever loses his life: This proverbial saying was not intended to specifically mean martyrdom, although this meaning was applied during the first few centuries of Roman persecution. The principal meaning of the expression would be synonymous with denying oneself. for My sake: Yeshua gives two reasons for a disciple to lose his life. Martyrdom may result from refusal to deny Yeshua as one's Lord and Savior. However, his point is that denying oneself should flow from a simple desire to please Yeshua. and the gospel's: Martyrdom may also occur in the course of being an ambassador for the good news. Almost all the original disciples lost their lives while engaged in missionary activity. However, denying oneself is a commitment to support and serve the cause of spreading the good news of the kingdom. If a disciple can't go, then the disciple should invest so that another disciple can go. God's kingdom should have first claim on a disciple's resources. will save it: The proverb here represents a great exchange. One's life can only be saved by giving it to Yeshua.
36 "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
Yeshua poses two rhetorical questions and then offers a sharp warning. For what does it profit: Grk. ōpheleō, to have benefit from something, to profit. a man to gain: Grk. kerdainō, aor. inf., to gain or make a profit, usually in a financial sense. The redundancy is typical of Hebraic phrasing. the whole world: Grk. kosmos has a variety of uses in the apostolic writings: (1) the sum total of all beings above the animal level; (2) the planet upon which mankind lives; (3) mankind; (4) the world as the scene of earthly joys, possessions, and cares; (5) the world and everything in it as that which opposes God and is ruined and depraved of character; (6) totality, sum total (BAG). The rhetorical question focuses on what a person might value in this life. The "whole world" is not the same thing for every person.
and forfeit: Grk. zēmioō, aor. pass. inf., to lose. The financial imagery is apparent. his soul? Grk. psuchē, that which animates the physical life or the seat and center of the inner life of man in its many and varied aspects (BAG). Psuchē corresponds to the Heb. nephesh, "breath," and designates that which makes man or beast, into a living being. In Hebrew thought a person is a soul-body. Thus, "soul" does not refer to a non-physical part of a human being, but rather to the whole person. Human beings live as "souls;" they do not have souls (e.g., Acts 2:41; 7:14; 27:37; 1Pet 3:20). Caution needs to be exercise to not take the implication literalistically. In context "life" would be a better translation (CJB, ESV, GNB, HCSB, RSV). The idiomatic expression probably means something like losing out on the life God intended.
37 "For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
exchange: Grk. antallagma, the price received for something of equal value. for his soul? The soul or human life is precious, its value far above rubies (cf. Prov 31:10). The soul or personhood is eternal; everything in this world is temporal. In addition, the life the God wants his people to have is far better than anything one can devise without His help. So, placing the things of this world above one's own life is folly.
38 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
For whoever is ashamed: Grk. epaischunomai, aor. pass. subj., from the prep. epi ("on," "before") and the verb aischunō, to disfigure or cause shame to. The verb reflects the fact that Israelites lived in an honor-shame culture. The circumstances of a person's social, marital, economic and educational status created a level of honor for that person. For that reason social pressure via law and custom was exerted to preempt any action or reaction that would bring shame to a person. For example, social contact and expression of women in public was especially restricted to avoid bringing shame to their husbands. Sons could bring shame to their fathers by rebellious behavior. The verb then describes someone who acts as if they have cause to be ashamed of Yeshua, a serious affront to the one without sin.
of Me and My words: The Hebraic redundancy emphasizes the total person, since one's identity cannot be separated from his speech. Yeshua echoes the injunction of Moses concerning the Prophet to come:
"I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him." (Deut 18:18-19)
in this adulterous: Grk. moichalis, from moichos, an adulterer. Yeshua applies the adjective in its spiritual sense of unfaithfulness toward God, as Israel of the exilic generation was described because of its idolatry (Jer 3:9; Ezek 6:9). In the encounter with Pharisees described in verse 11 above demanding a sign or creation miracle from Yeshua instead of simply trusting in God's revelation also defines adulterous (Matt 16:4). and sinful: Grk. hamartōlos, failing to meet religious or legal expectations, in this case God's expectations as expressed in the Torah. generation: Grk. genea. See the note on verse 12. Yeshua may have intended the appellation specifically for the Pharisees who asked for a sign, or perhaps more generally to the aggregate of his adversaries, or possibly the nation as a reflected in the ethical and moral climate of the culture, especially its government.
the Son of Man: Grk. ho huios tou anthrōpou, which translates the Heb. ben adam. "Son of man," or "son of the first man, namely Adam." This is the third time in 14 times the idiom occurs Mark. The idiom is thoroughly Hebraic and has no counterpart in Greek culture. See the note on 2:10 for the background on the idiom. Yeshua demonstrates diversity in his usage of "son of man." A few times he uses it in an idiomatic fashion of a human being (cf. Num 23:19; Mark 2:10, 28), and then occasionally as a general circumlocution referring to himself (e.g., "the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head," Matt 18:20). Much more often is the use of "son of man" as an eschatological deliverer (as here), but the most frequent usage is in reference to his mission of being a suffering and risen savior.
will also be ashamed: Grk. epaischunomai, fut. pass., to be ashamed of. In Jewish law causing shame to a husband was grounds for divorce. Israel had once been divorced from God for causing shame through spiritual adultery (Isa 50:1; Jer 3:1, 8). of him when He comes: Grk. erchomai, aor. subj., to come or arrive, indicating movement from one position to another. To be ashamed of someone in that day will be tantamount to rejection as depicted in the parable of sheep and goats (Matt 25:46). Yeshua had said in his instructions for the apostolic mission, "But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven" (Matt 10:33).
in the glory: Grk. doxa has four categories of meaning: (1) splendor or radiance in the sense of brightness, (2) magnificence in the sense of what catches the eye, (3) fame, renown, honor or approval, and (4) glorious as in the angelic beings and majesties. In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kabod, which refers to the luminous manifestation of God’s person, his glorious revelation of Himself. Characteristically, kabod is linked with verbs of seeing and appearing and stresses the impact that the manifestation of a person or God makes on others. In the apostolic writings doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45). In this context and the other two times in Mark where the word appears (10:37; 13:26) "glory" refers to the transcendent majesty of God, shining as bright as the sun (Rev 1:16).
of His Father: Grk. patēr, normally of a male parent, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes both his activity as creator and sustainer. In Scripture God is father to all mankind (Acts 17:28-29; Eph 4:6), but more particularly the father of Israel (Ex 4:22; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jer 31:9; Hos 11:1; Matt 2:15; Rom 9:4), and even more particularly the father of the disciples of Yeshua. Outside the Lord's Prayer (Matt 6:9) the expression "our Father" occurs exclusively in Paul's writings (Rom 1:7; 1Cor 1:3; 2Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2; 2Th 1:1; 2:16; Phm 1:3). Other apostles refer to God simply as "the Father" (Acts 2:33; Jas 1:17; 1Pet 1:2; 1Jn 1:2; Jude 1:1). However, the expression "His Father" used of the unique relationship within the Godhead occurs only in this context (cf. Matt 16:27).
with the holy: pl. of Grk. hagios like the Heb. qadosh it renders in the LXX, means dedicated to God, sacred or holy, i.e., reserved for God and His service. angels: pl. of Grk. angelos means messenger. The corresponding Hebrew word is malak, which means messenger, representative, courier or angel. The messenger may be human or angelic, which must be determined from the context. In this verse angelos refers to a divine messenger. The phrase is lit. "with the angels the holy ones." There could be an implied conjunction, "with the angels and the holy ones (i.e., the saints, cf. Deut 33:3)," but more likely "holy ones" simply describes the angels. Angels are called "holy ones" in the Tanakh (Deut 33:2; Ps 89:5; Dan 4:13, 23; 8:13; Zech 14:5). Coming with a heavenly army of angels is especially emphasized in the Olivet Discourse, as well as in the writings of Paul (2Th 1:7) and John (Rev 19:11-13).The function of the accompanying angels is two-fold. As depicted in the parable of the wheat and tares, the angels will remove the wicked from the presence of the righteous (Matt 13:41, 49). In addition, the angels will gather or collect the elect from heaven and earth (Mark 13:27).
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barker: William P. Barker, Everyone In the Bible. Fleming H. Revell Co., 1966.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. London: Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online at BibleHub.com.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Colin Brown, ed. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
EBD: Matthew George Easton (1823-1894), Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Thomas Nelson, 1897. Online.
Edersheim: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah(1883). New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. Also online.
Edersheim-Sketches: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), Sketches of Jewish Social Life (1876). New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1994. Also online.
Edersheim-Temple: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Temple: It's Ministry and Services (1874). New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1994. Also online.
Fisher: Anthony J. Fisher (d. 2000), Greek New Testament [NA26]. University of York, nd.
Flusser: David Flusser, The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus' Genius. 4th ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2007.
GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966. [NA25]
Gruber-Akiva: Daniel Gruber, Rabbi Akiva's Messiah: The Origins of Rabbinic Authority. Elijah Publishing, 1999.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
ISBE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Ed. James Orr. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939. Website HTML, 2011. Online.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
Josephus: Flavius Josephus (Yosef ben Matityahu; c. 75-99 A.D.), Wars of the Jews. trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
Kasdan: Barney Kasdan, Matthew Presents Yeshua, King Messiah: A Messianic Commentary. Lederer Books, 2011.
Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. (NICNT)
Leman: Derek Leman, A New Look at the Old Testament. Mt. Olive Press, 2006.
Metzger: Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. German Bible Society, 1994.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Vol. 1. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
Robertson: Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 Vols. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1933. (Parsons CD-ROM Version 2.0, 1997) Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
TDSS: The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. Rev. ed. Trans. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr. and Edward Cook. HarperOne, 2005.
Tverberg: Lois Tverberg & Bruce Okkema, Listening to the Language of the Bible. En-Gedi Resource Center, 2006.
TWOT: R. Laird Harris, ed., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. 2 vols. Moody Press, 1980.
Wessel: Walter W. Wessel, Mark. Vol. 8, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
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