Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 2 November 2012; Revised 11 January 2021
Scripture: The Scripture text used in this chapter commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. All other Scripture quotations are from the NASB Updated Edition (1995), unless otherwise indicated. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions.
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: Nisan 16, A.D. 30 (Saturday)
Matthew informs us that sometime on the Sabbath, probably very early in the morning, the chief priests appealed to Pilate to take steps for the security of the tomb.
"Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I am to rise again.' 64 "Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last deception will be worse than the first." (Matt 27:62-64)
Pilate had little regard for the concern of the chief priests. Pilate answered, "you have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how" (Matt 27:65). It is generally assumed that Pilate referred to a standing guard of Roman soldiers at the temple and that Pilate told them to make use of this group of soldiers. However, Pilate does not say "take the Roman guard I've posted at the Temple." Matthew's burial narrative is the only place where the term "guard" (Grk. koustōdia) appears in the Besekh and does not necessarily indicate Roman soldiers. Pilate was not going to take any further responsibility for Yeshua. The declaration "you have a guard," not the mistranslation of "take a guard" in some versions (MOUNCE, NCV, NET, NIRV, NIV, NLV, NLT, TEV), clearly refers to the Temple police. These guards came from the Levites, not the Romans. The chief priests posted their guard and also set a seal in place that would testify to any observer whether there had been any tampering with the door of the tomb.
The apostles say nothing of the whereabouts or activities of the Eleven on the Sabbath following Yeshua's crucifixion. After Yeshua's arrest the disciples had secluded themselves behind locked doors for fear of the Judean authorities (John 20:19) and fasted (Mark 2:20) while the festival of Passover continued in the city. The apostles no doubt observed the day of rest (cf. Luke 23:56), yet filled with grief. Perhaps they used the upper room where they had met for the Passover. Even though Yeshua had protected them from arrest, his death left them uncertain about their future. In contrast Yeshua rested in heaven, having made atonement for sin (cf. Heb. 1:3; 4:10; 10:12) and one of the thieves had joined him in Paradise (Luke 23:43). In the temple this was a momentous day.
The priests went about their daily duties of offering morning and evening sacrifices, including a lamb burnt offering, drink offering and grain offering as required by Torah (Ex 29:38-42). The high priest also burned incense in the holy place every morning and evening and insured that the lamps were trimmed and kept burning (Ex 30:7-8). This day was also the occasion for a significant ritual symbolic of Yeshua's ministry.
The Torah prescribed that on the Sabbath after Passover sheaves of the barley harvest were to be waved before the Lord in the temple in thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. This ceremony was called Reishit Qatsiyr ("Beginning or First Fruits of Harvest," Lev 23:9-14). Following the "wave offering," the priests were to present a drink offering of wine and a grain offering consisting of fine flour mixed with oil (Lev 23:12-13). So, Yeshua's emphasis on the bread and cup at his last Seder pointed to this ceremony.
The Pharisees and Sadducees differed over the scheduling of this ritual. The Sadducees held that the expression 'the morrow after the Sabbath' (Lev 23:11), must be taken in its literal sense, the day following the first Saturday in the festival of unleavened bread. The Pharisees, on the other hand, taught that the offering, apart from the day on which the Sabbath falls, had always to be brought on the second day of the feast (Nisan 16), since the first day of the feast was regarded as a Sabbath in the religious sense (Lev 23:7). Accordingly the 'omer was to be offered on the second day of the Festival [Nisan 16], and the reaping of the barley on the night preceding, at the conclusion of the first day of the Festival. (fn1, Men. 6:3).
The determination of the date for these ceremonies impacted the scheduling of Shavuot (Pentecost), which occurs seven weeks and 50 days after Passover (Lev 23:15-16). The Reishit Qatsiyr ritual was also called Sfirat Haomer (Counting the Omer) because it began the practice of counting the days until Shavuot. The Pharisees could appeal to the actions of the Israelites in the time of Joshua after they defeated Jericho. Following their victory they observed the Passover.
"While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. 11 On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain." (Josh 5:10-11)
In other words, the Israelites ate the Passover meal at its proper time during the evening of Nisan 14, which actually began Nisan 15, and then on Nisan 16 the first Reishit Qatsiyr was held to fulfill the instruction of Leviticus 23:10. The Pharisaic calculation of the date of Shavuot seems to be supported by the LXX of Leviticus 23:11. The LXX reads of the waving of the sheaf "And he shall offer the sheaf before the Lord accepted for you. On the next day of the first the priest shall offer it" (ABP). The complete calendar, especially the feast of Shavuot, was determined according to Pharisaic reckoning (Jeremias 264). Both Philo (The Special Laws II, XXIX, 162, 176; The Decalogue XXX, 160) and Josephus (Ant. III, 10:5-6; XVIII, 1:3), testify to the preference of the Pharisaic method of fixing the date of Shavuot.
Just as Pesach symbolized the death of Yeshua whose sacrifice assured deliverance from eternal death and cleansing from sin, the Feast of First Fruits of Harvest symbolized the resurrection of Yeshua, the "first fruits" of those who believe (1Cor. 15:20-23).
Date: Nisan 17, A.D. 30 (Sunday)
1 And the Sabbath having passed, Miriam of Magdala, and Miriam the mother of Jacob, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint him.
And: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). Beginning verses with a conjunction, as well as the excessive use of conjunctions, is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. In contrast to most Bible versions I translate all the instances of kai (and all the other conjunctions) as a reminder of the apostle's Hebraic writing style.
the Sabbath: Grk. Sabbaton transliterates the Heb. shabbathon ("sabbath observance" BDB 992). While "Sabbath" is generally considered to mean the seventh day of the week, the Hebrew word actually refers to the observance of the day according to the commandment (cf. Luke 23:56). While the first and last days of the Passover festival were days of rest and therefore sabbaths (Ex 31:13; Lev 23:6-8), the term here refers to the seventh day of the week. The seventh-day Sabbath is the most frequently mentioned day of the week in the Besekh. The Sabbath, first created by God in the beginning (Gen 2:2-3; Ex 20:8) for all people, became an eternal sign of the covenant between God and Israel (Ex 31:13, 16f; Lev 24:8; Ezek 20:12, 20).
Yeshua, his apostles and the women of this narrative were all observant Jews who faithfully kept the Sabbath. Their example is one to emulate (Luke 6:40; 1 Pet 2:21). See my web article Remember the Sabbath. having passed: Grk. diaginomai, aor. mid. part., to pass or elapse. Stern says that Mark means Motza'ei-Shabbat (the "going-out of Sabbath"), that is, Saturday evening, when Shabbat was over (cf. 1:32). At Pesach season this would be after 7 P.M. In Israel today many stores open on Saturday evening after being closed all day; evidently the same custom prevailed then.
Miriam: Grk. Maria, fem. name, an attempt at transliterating the Heb. Miryam (Miriam in English). The meaning of the name is not known for certain, although some scholars say its meaning is "rebellion." The first Miriam in Scripture is the sister of Aaron and Moses (Ex 15:20; Num 26:59) and with such a negative meaning its unlikely that the parents would have given this name to their daughter at birth. The best interpretation I've found is at BehindtheName.com which says that Miriam "was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry "beloved" or mr "love." There are a total of six women in the Besekh with the name Miriam (translated in Christian Bibles as 'Mary'). Strong's Concordance makes the faux pas of identifying the six as "Christian females." They were all Jewish women and Christianity had not even been invented yet.
The translation history of Miriam is strange. The name of Miriam, sister of Moses, occurs 16 times in the LXX and every time is spelled in Greek as Mariam, which the lexicons agree is an indeclinable name. Yet, lexicons and Greek texts treat Mariam as a grammatical derivative of Grk. Maria. Of the 54 times the name appears in the Greek New Testament, the spelling is about evenly divided between Maria, Marias and Mariam. The Latin Vulgate (405) preserved the Greek spelling of "Maria," but the Wycliffe Bible (1325) changed the name slightly to "Marie." However, the next English version, Tyndale (1525) rendered the name as "Mary" and Christians have called these Jewish women by this name ever since and inadvertently denied them their identity. Since English translators knew how to spell "Miriam" then the decision to use "Mary" could only be to make them sound less Jewish.
of Magdala: Grk. Magdalēnē, a woman of Magdala. This Miriam is consistently distinguished from other women named Miriam by adding a surname. Traditionally, this has been interpreted to mean that she was from Magdala, a town thought to have been on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. More information about Miriam is added in verse 9 below. and Miriam the mother: Grk. matēr. Given the names of the sons this woman is likely the wife of Clopas (John 19:25). Little is known of her but her sons may have been well known in the early community of faith.
of Jacob: Grk. Iakōbos is a Grecized form of Iakōb ("Jacob"), which transliterates the Heb. Ya'akov ("Jacob"), but rendered as "James" in Christian Bibles. The name of the patriarch Jacob was greatly esteemed in Israel so it is not surprising that there are a total of five men that bear this name in the Besekh: (1) Jacob the brother of John and son of Zebedee (Mark 1:19); (2) Jacob the son of Alphaeus (Mark 3:18); (3) Jacob the father of Judas (aka 'Thaddaeus,' Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13); (4) Jacob the brother of Yeshua (Matt 13:55); and (5) Jacob the Less (Mark 15:40). This Jacob is the one known as "the Less," since his mother is identified in the previous chapter as being at the crucifixion.
and Joseph: Grk. Iōsēs, a variant of Iōsēph; Heb. Yosef, Joseph. and Salome: Grk. Salōmē. According to Matthew 27:56 Salome was the wife of Zebedee and the mother of the disciples Jacob and John. bought: Grk. agorazō, aor., to buy or purchase as a commercial transaction. spices: pl. of Grk. arōma, any kind of fragrant herb, salve, oil or spice, especially used in anointing the dead. Dealers in ointments are repeatedly mentioned in rabbinic literature (Jeremias 9). so that: Grk. hina, conj. having come: Grk. erchomai, aor. part., to come, come back, return or appear and in a few instances, to go. The verb generally depicts physical movement, mostly with implication of a position from which action or movement takes place, but it also may focus on the goal for movement.
they might anoint: Grk. aleiphō, aor. subj., to apply a substance in a smearing or rubbing action, to anoint, here with spices. him: 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; i.e., Yeshua. The most precious man in all the world to these women lay in a tomb, so for them this was a sacred duty. The body, of course, had already been washed, anointed with spices and wrapped head to toe in linen cloths (Luke 24:53; John 19:40).
The women were not going to unwrap the body but simply add more spices to the burial clothes. Anointing the body was not for the purpose of embalming (as in the Wesley and Mace New Testaments), but to offset the odor of decomposition. There is no evidence of any Israelite being embalmed since Joseph in Egypt (Gen 50:25). The purpose of their mission, then, meant they had no expectation of resurrection.
2 And very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb, the sun having risen.
And: Grk. kai, conj. very: Grk. lian, adv., to a high degree, very much or extremely. early: Grk. prōi, early in the morning, which may refer to the fourth watch of the night, 3—6 A.M. (see the note on 13:35) (Lane). Lightfoot suggests that the Greek word stands for a Hebrew expression meaning "when the east begins to lighten" (2:476). on the first: Grk. mia, a numerical term for "one." day of the week: pl. of Grk. tōn sabbatōn. The word "day" does not occur in the Greek text. The commandment of remembering the Sabbath includes the centrality of the Sabbath to the whole week. Jews counted the days "Yom Rishon ["day one"] from Shabbat, Yom Sheni [day two] from Shabbat" and so on, in contrast to the other nations who gave separate names for each day of the week as with the months (Arnon 13). The Jewish idiom occurs seven times in the Besekh (Matt 28:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2).
they came: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid., to come or to arrive. to the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion, a place for depositing remains of a deceased person held in memory, burial place, grave or tomb. See the note on 15:46. the sun: Grk. hēlios, (Heb. shemesh), the sun, the star that is the central body of the solar system, created on the fourth day to "govern the day" (Gen 1:16-19). having risen: Grk. anatello, aor. act. part., to come into being, to cause to rise, of the sun. This clause gives definition to "very early." John 20:1 says that Mary Magdalene had come to the tomb early while it was still dark. Taken together the two reports probably indicate that the sun was peeking over the horizon, but the rays had yet to fully illuminate the area. Lane quoting another scholar suggests the possibility that Mark's comment was actually an allusion to Malachi 4:2 LXX, which says, "the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings" (586). The point of Mark's time reference, then, was that the Sun (Son) had risen, though the world was still in darkness.
3 And they were saying among themselves, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?"
And: Grk. kai, conj. They were saying: Grk. legō, impf., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. The Greek verb "say" often functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. among: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" (DM 110). Here the preposition denotes being in company with others and speaking face to face. themselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person to denote that the agent and the person acted on are the same; himself, herself. The opening clause alludes to a private conversation en route to the tomb. Who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. will roll away: Grk. apokuliō, fut., to roll away.
the stone: Grk. lithos, stone, of various types. for us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. from: Grk. ek, prep. used to denote separation, lit. "out of, from within" (DM 102). the entrance: Grk. thura, a passage providing access to a place; entrance, doorway or gateway. of the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion. See the previous verse. Joseph of Arimathea had put the stone in place (15:46). Matthew reported the sealing of the tomb and the posting of the guard, of which the women knew nothing (cf. Matt 27:62-66). Even though the stone was round and lay in a groove or track to expedite rolling, the women rightly assumed that it would still be too heavy for them to move. It may seem strange that the women didn't think of the problem before leaving home. At the point of realizing the need the question suggests they were looking for a man to assist them.
4 And having looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having looked up: Grk. anablepō, aor. act. part., to shift one's gaze upward. they saw: Grk. theōreō, to pay attention to, to observe or to behold. that the stone: Grk. lithos. See the previous verse. had been rolled away: Grk. apokuliō, perf. pass., to roll away or back. although it was extremely: Grk. sphodra, adv., high on a scale of intensity, exceedingly. large: Grk. megas, exceeding a standard and therefore impressive, great or large. The question asked by the women was answered in a remarkable way. Matthew 28:2 indicates that a severe earthquake occurred and an angel had rolled the stone back and then sat on it.
Stern comments that an atheistic lawyer named Frank Morison investigated Yeshua’s resurrection, intending to write a book disproving it. Instead, the evidence convinced him that it had happened. After coming to faith in God and his Messiah he wrote Who Moved The Stone? (London: Faber & Faber, 1958), proving that Yeshua’s resurrection actually took place.
5 And having entered into the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. act. part., to go or enter into a place. into the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion, See the note on verse 2 above. Lane suggests the inner chamber was six or seven feet square and about the same height (586). they saw: Grk. horaō, aor., to perceive physically with the eye. a young man: Grk. neaniskos, a young man. The parallel passages indicate the women saw an angel (Matt 28:2, 5; Luke 24:23; John 20:12). Angels figure prominently in Scripture as ministering spirits (Mark 1:13; Heb 1:14) and are far different from the Hollywood depiction and popular assumptions about angels. Although angels appear as human in Scripture (Josh 5:13; Judg 13:6; Dan 9:21; 12:6), angels are not glorified humans that earn status in heaven by doing good works on earth. All individual angels mentioned in Scripture have masculine names or descriptions, contrary to popular art and media, which sometimes depicts them as female.
sitting: Grk. kathēmai, pres. mid. part., to be at rest on the haunches, to take a seat. at the right: Grk. dexios, to the right as a direction. wearing: Grk. periballō, perf. mid. part., to cover around, to be covered with an article of clothing. a white: Grk. leukos, having impressive brightness, frequently associated with garments and ordinarily translated as white. The brightness was a manifestation of the angel's glory. robe: Grk. stolē, robe, especially a long-flowing robe. and they were amazed: Grk. ekthambeō, aor. pass., to cause to be overwhelmed emotionally, to be bewildered or stunned. The women were likely surprised by the angel sitting nonchalantly on the surface where Yeshua had been laid and then by the brightness of his appearance.
6 Now he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Yeshua of Nazareth, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.
Now: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. he said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, pers. pron. Do not be amazed: Grk. ekthambeō, pres. pass. imp. See the previous verse. The present imperative with the negative indicates the stopping of an action in progress. you are looking for: Grk. zēteō, to seek or to look for.
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means “YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. By virtue of His incarnation and Jewish mother, Yeshua must still be a Jew. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
of Nazareth: Grk. Nazarēnos, an inhabitant of Nazareth. The naming convention of identifying persons by place of origin distinguished them from other persons with the same name. (Yeshua was a common name.) The last letter of "Nazareth" was dropped and an adjectival suffix added to form the label, the masculine nos for Nazareth, resulting in Nazarēnos. The same Greek construction may be found in other names, such as Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37), Lucius of Cyrene (Acts 13:1), and Dionysius the Areopagite (Acts 17:34). who has been crucified: Grk. stauroō, perf. pass. part., to cause to undergo physical crucifixion. See the note on 15:13. The perfect tense is used of an event in past time with continuing results to the present. The disciples would later find that Yeshua bore the marks of his crucifixion (John 20:20, 25-27).
He has risen: Grk. egeirō, aor. pass., to rise from a recumbent or lower position, here idiomatic for rising from the dead. The message of Yeshua's resurrection is echoed throughout the Besekh. Wessel notes that any claim that the resurrection of Yeshua was a fabrication (of Matt 27:62-65) or a delusion is implicitly denied. He is not here: The angel states the obvious since the women could easily see that Yeshua was not in the tomb. behold: Grk. horaō, to see and perceive. here is the place where they laid Him: The women had not been in the tomb previously and it must have been hard at first to grasp what the angel was saying.
7 "But go, tell his disciples and Peter that, 'He goes before you into Galilee; there you will see him, just as he said to you.'"
But: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. go: Grk. hupagō, pres. imp., to proceed from a position with the focus on the point of departure. tell: Grk. legō, aor. imp. See verse 3 above. The angel issues a two-fold command with the authority of Yeshua. his disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs, one who learns through instruction from a teacher. In the apostolic writings mathētēs corresponds to the Heb. talmid. See the note on 2:15 for the expectations of a disciple. and Peter: personal name meaning 'a stone' (BAG, Mounce), although Thayer says the name signifies a stone, a rock, a ledge or a cliff, and Danker defines the name as "rockman." Petros translates the Hebrew name Kêpha ("rock"), a loanword in Hebrew (SH-3710; BDB 495), which was given to him by Yeshua (John 1:42).
Peter was unquestionably the leader of the apostles. For a summary of Peter's life and ministry see my article Simon Peter: Fisherman-Apostle. The specific mention of Peter's name hints at the planned reconciliation with Yeshua after his three-time denial. The instruction of the angel is remarkable since contemporary Judean law pronounced women ineligible as witnesses, so Lane who cites Rosh Hashana 1:7. However the Mishnah paragraph, which concerns testimony of the New Moon, is not a blanket prohibition but contains a caveat since it says, "It is a general rule that for any testimony for which a woman is disqualified." However, the ruling authorities found ways to exclude a woman's testimony, such as being related to an accused person and parties in a lawsuit could object to witnesses offered by the other side (Sanhedrin 3:1).
Another Mishnah rule states that "the law about an oath of witness applies to men but not to women" (Shebuoth 4:1). Josephus reports the Judean law as enunciated by the scribes, attributed to Moses, as saying "But let not a single witness be credited, but three, or two at the least, and those such whose testimony is confirmed by their good lives. But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex" (Ant. IV, 8:15). Jewish attitudes about female testimony contributes to the reliability of the resurrection report, because no Jewish male would invent such a story.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as, since. The third usage applies here to introduce the quoted statement. He goes before: Grk. proagō, pres., to go or come before, to precede. The present tense is not used to indicate action in progress, but of an anticipated future event. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; to, into.
Galilee: Grk. Galilaia from the Heb. Galil, lit. "circle" or "region." Galilee was the northern part of Israel above the hill country of Ephraim and of Judah. Stern comments that Galil is also the name of a slope of the Mount of Olives (99). there: Grk. ekei, adv., in that place. you will see: Grk. horaō, fut. mid. See verse 5 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. to you: Grk. humeis. When Yeshua makes a promise he keeps it. During the Passover celebration Yeshua had informed his disciples that he would go before them to Galilee (14:28).
Now, after His resurrection, Matthew and Mark record that Yeshua instructed his disciples to go to Galilee (Matt 28:10; Mark 16:7), but Matthew's narrative says that Yeshua met His disciples on the mountain he had designated (Matt 28:16). Luke 24:50 says that after the resurrection Yeshua appeared to his disciples in Jerusalem and He "led them out as far as Bethany." John 21:1 describes an appearance at the Sea of Galilee. Luke reports in Acts 1:12 that after the ascension of Yeshua the disciples returned from the Mount of Olives. Of course, Yeshua appeared to the apostles and other disciples over a period of 40 days (Acts 1:3), so there is no conflict of going to both places.
8 And having gone out they fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment possessed them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having gone out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. part., to go out from a place. they fled: Grk. pheugō, to make a decisive movement away, to escape or to flee. from the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion. See the note on verse 2. for trembling: Grk. tromos, trembling, reflects fear and awe in awareness of what transcends normal experience. and astonishment: Grk. ekstasis, the condition of being astounded over something beyond what one normally thinks possible. possessed: Grk. echō, impf., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. them: pl. of Grk. autos, pers. pron. and they said nothing to anyone: lit. "and they told no one no(any)thing" (Marshall). for they were afraid: Grk. phobeō, impf. mid., to be in a state of apprehension. The verb is used to describe a range of emotion from awe to terror.
This verse appears to contradict the report of the other narratives, which indicate that at least four women did go to the apostles with the report of the empty tomb (Matt 28:8; Luke 24:9; John 20:2). No doubt the intention of "they said nothing to anyone" is that they did not go home or stop anywhere else en route until they arrived where the apostles were staying. Even so, the initial reaction of the disciples was to regard the women's report as nonsense (Luke 24:11).
[9 Now having risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Miriam of Magdala, from whom he had cast out seven demons.
Now: Grk. de, conj. From this point the narrative reads like an epilogue that is independent of the preceding eight verses. having risen: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part., to rise up or get up from a recumbent position. The verb alludes to Yeshua's burial in a tomb in which he was laid on a slab of rock. early: Grk. prōi. See the note on verse 2. The adverb is often used of the fourth watch, 3–6 a.m. (BAG), so this term is a good reference point for the time of the resurrection. the first day: Grk. prōtos, adj., The basic idea has to do with 'beforeness.' The term is used in two ways: (1) having primary position in a temporal sequence; first, earlier, earliest; and (2) standing out in significance or importance; first, most prominent, most important, first of all. The first meaning fits best here.
of the week: Grk. sabbaton. See verse 2 above. This is the only verse in the Besekh that positively states that Yeshua rose from the dead on the first day of the week, now called Sunday. All the other references to the "first day" relate the arrival of women at the tomb who find it empty. Since no one went to the tomb on the seventh day of the week (Sabbath), and the twenty-four hour day was sundown to sundown, then speculation might arise whether the resurrection took place on Saturday evening or Sunday morning. Notably the text does not say that Yeshua had risen early in the morning. By Jewish time reckoning any time after sundown Saturday would qualify as the first day of the week. Yeshua prophesied that he would be raised from the dead (8:31; 9:31; 10:34), although he had not specified the day of the week.
he appeared: Grk. phainō, aor. pass., to be in a state or condition of being visible or observed. first: Grk. prōton, adv. (from prōtos), firstly, whether in time, place, order, or importance. Here the adverb denotes order or sequence. Miriam of Magdala: See verse 1 above. The second mention of Miriam of Magdala after verse 1 above has been regarded by scholars as stylistic evidence of another writer than Mark, but it is not conclusive proof. from whom he had cast out: Grk. ekballō, plperf., to cause to move out from a position, state or condition. The pluperfect tense refers to action completed in the past. seven demons: pl. of Grk. daimonion refers to a deity or transcendent being of lesser or subordinate rank.
In the Besekh the term only has a negative connotation of an evil spirit hostile toward man and God. Daimonion was historically derived from daiomai, to divide or apportion and may be connected with the idea of the god of the dead as a divider of corpses (DNTT 1:450). Yeshua delivered many people from demonic oppression (Mark 1:32, 34, 39). Individuals identified include five men, two women, one boy and one girl. Of those individuals Miriam of Magdala is the only one whose name is given. Miriam's deliverance is mentioned in Luke 8:2, but no explanation is provided of how Miriam came to be demon-possessed. Such omission is common to all the stories of demon possession. Even though Henry Morris identifies Miriam as a "demon-possessed sinner" (DSB 1080), there is no evidence of fault on her part to bring about the spirit oppression.
The narratives of the apostles emphasize that Miriam of Magdala was a devoted disciple and the first to see the resurrected Yeshua. It seems ironic that Miriam was not included in Paul's catalog of resurrection appearances (1Cor 15:5-8). Since these verses were written well after 1 Corinthians the writer of this portion completed the record of resurrection witnesses. Unfortunately, Miriam has been the victim of vile defamation by Christians and secular sources for centuries, generally depicting her as a woman of loose morals or a harlot. See my web article Miriam of Magdala in which I set the record straight. Like the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, let Miriam's works "praise her in the gates" (Prov 31:31).
10 She, having gone, reported to those who had been with him, who were mourning and weeping.
She: Grk. ekeinos, fem., lit. "that one." having gone: Grk. poreuō, aor. pass. part., to go from one area to another. reported: Grk. apangellō, aor. mid. part., to report or to announce. to those who had been with him: i.e., his disciples. Miriam's faithfulness in carrying out the angel's instruction is also noted in Luke 24:10. who were mourning: Grk. pentheō, pres. part., to grieve or mourn. and weeping: Grk. klaiō, pres. part., to express grief or sorrow aloud. This is not a silent dropping of tears, but a heartbreaking sob.
11 And they having heard that 'he is alive' and had been seen by her, refused to believe.
And they: Grk. kakeinos, conj. combining kai ("and") and ekeinos ("that one"). having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part., to hear with one's ears or to receive information aurally. that: Grk. hoti, conj. he is alive: Grk. zaō, pres., to live, to be possessed of vitality, to exercise the functions of life (Mounce). and had been seen: Grk. theaomai, aor. pass., to look upon with special interest, to behold, to take notice of or to see.
by her, refused to believe: Grk. apisteuō may mean either (1) not accept as true, to give no credence to, refuse to believe, or (2) lack a sense of obligation or commitment, to be unfaithful. The first meaning applies here. The refusal of the men to accept Miriam's report may be related to the fact that women were generally ineligible to give testimony in a court of law (Shebu. 4:1; Sanh. 27b; cf. Gitt. 46a). However, Miriam of Magdala would have been well-known to the disciples and as a devoted disciple and godly woman her integrity would be beyond dispute. Therefore, the disbelief of the disciples had nothing to do with her gender and everything to do with their own grief and unbelief regarding Yeshua's teaching that he would rise again.
12 Now after these things, he appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking, going into the country.
Now: Grk. de, conj. after: Grk. meta, prep., used as a sequential marker of time. these things: pl. of Grk. touto, demonstrative pron. he appeared: Grk. phaneroō, aor. pass., to be in a state or condition that makes observation possible. in a different: Grk. eteros, adj., qualitatively expressing dissimilarity of one item relative to another, 'another,' or 'different.' form: Grk. morphē, a condition in which an entity becomes perceptible, here with focus on distinctive characteristics. as they were walking: Grk. peripateō, pres. part., to engage in pedestrian activity; go about; walk about, walk around, walk. going: Grk. poreuō, pres. mid. part., to move from one part of an area to another, to go or to make one's way. The translation identifies the mode of movement consistent with the context.
into: Grk. eis, prep. the country: Grk. agros normally refers to a plot of ground used mainly for agriculture, i.e., a field, and occasionally as the countryside outside a city or village. The narrative here attempts to give a logical reason for the lack of recognition and the narrative summarizes Luke's report of the two disciples on the Emmaus Road who encountered Yeshua but did not recognize him (24:13-31). Luke says "their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him" (24:16). John records that in Yeshua's post-resurrection visitation to the group of disciples in the upper room he bore the wounds of his crucifixion, which Yeshua invited Thomas to touch (John 20:25-27). The "different form" on the Emmaus road may simply mean that the two disciples had no expectation of ever seeing Yeshua alive and they weren't prepared to recognize him.
13 And they having gone reported to the rest, neither did they believe them.
And they: Grk. kakeinos, demonstrative pronoun (from kai, "and" + ekeinos, "that one"), used in reference to someone or something previously mentioned; and/also that one. having gone: Grk. aperchomai, aor. part., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination; to go away, depart or leave. reported: Grk. apangellō, aor., may mean (1) to report back in response to a directive ; or (2) to relate as the result of personal experience, observation or other source of information; relate, report, declare. The second meaning applies here. to the rest: Grk. loipos, adj. remaining of what's left, other, rest of. The adjective refers to the eleven disciples. neither: Grk. oude, conj., negative particle that links a negative statement as complementary to a preceding negative; neither, not even, nor.
did they believe: Grk. pisteuō, 3p-pl., in general Greek usage means to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. The Hebrew concept of believing is not an intellectual agreement with a philosophical proposition or a formal creed. A verb describes action of the person and "trust" stresses both attitude and behavior. In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman (SH-539), which means to confirm or support, as well as to be true, reliable or faithful, and to stand firm or trust (BDB 52). In the Hebrew concept believing, trusting and being faithful are inseparable (cf. Matt 7:21; Heb 11:6). them: pl. of Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there.
The narrative summarizes the actions of the disciples given in Luke 24:34-35. In this case the gender of the one giving the report had no bearing on the disbelief.
14 Now afterward he appeared to the eleven as they were reclining at table; and He rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not trusted those having seen him arisen.
Now: Grk. de, conj. afterward: Grk. husteros, in a state or condition of being subsequent. The adjective does not convey a sense of time, but in context the following action would have occurred fairly immediately. he appeared: Grk. phaneroō, aor. pass., to be in a state or condition that makes observation possible. to the eleven: Grk. hendeka, the number eleven, a reference to the original disciples minus Judas. as they were reclining at table: Grk. anakeimai (Heb. shakab), pres. mid. part., to lie down and in this instance to recline at a table for eating. See the note on 14:18. The fact the disciples were reclining suggests they were eating a festival meal, since non-festival meals were normally eaten while sitting.
and He rebuked Grk. oneidizō, aor., to find fault with in a demeaning fashion, which may occur either with verbal abuse so as to shame or putting to shame with severe reproof. them for their unbelief: Grk. apistia, refusal to give credence to, here disbelieving the testimony of the women. and hardness of heart: Grk. sklērokardia, refusal to budge from a point of view, stubbornness. This assertion that Yeshua rebuked his disciples for not believing those who had reported his resurrection is one more indication of a writer other than Mark. The other narratives in telling of this incident report that Yeshua greeted his grieving disciples with "shalom" (Luke 24:36; John 20:19), but omit the narrative of verbal criticism for their lack of faith.
because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 11 above. The word is used here with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as, since. they had not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle that makes a strong denial or negation of an alleged fact or proposition. trusted: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See the previous verse. those having seen: Grk. theaomai, aor. mid. part. See verse 11 above. him: Grk. autos, masc. pers. pron. arisen: Grk. egeirō, perf. pass. See verse 6 above.
And: Grk. kai, conj. he said: Grk. legō, ,aor. See verse 3 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., his disciples. Having gone: Grk. poreuomai, aor. pass. part., to move from one part of an area to another, to go, frequently with the originating point and destination noted in context. The verb is a participle, rather than an imperative as it is translated in most Bible versions. The participle is a particular device in Hebraic writing of a hortatory nature. Here the participle alludes to Yeshua's previous injunctions for his apostles to go on mission assignments. into: Grk. eis, prep. all: Grk. apas, adj., whole or all. The adjective does not leave out any part.
the world: Grk. ho 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) the human race or inhabitants of the earth; (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 (BAG). The noun, representing a destination of the preposition "into," conveys the inhabited areas of the earth with its diversity of people groups.
and: Grk. kai. proclaim: Grk. kērussō, aor. imp., to make a public announcement in the manner of a herald. The verb always contains the suggestion of formality, gravity, and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed (Thayer). In ancient times a herald was an officer sent by the king or other high official (e.g., governor, magistrate) to proclaim a message of public importance (cf. Dan 3:4). The herald was also a "town-crier" (Grk. kērux) who proclaimed critical news for the public, usually in the town square.
In the LXX kērussō occurs 29 times, mostly to translate Heb. qara (SH-7121), to call, proclaim or read (DNTT 3:50). In translating qara the verb kērussō usually occurs in settings of making a public announcement requiring compliance (e.g., Gen 41:43; Ex 32:5; 2Chr 20:3; Neh 6:7; Esth 6:9; Joel 1:14; 2:15; 3:9; Jon 1:2; 3:1, 4-5). Kērussō also translates Heb. rua (SH-7321), to cry out, raise a shout, give a blast with a horn, in settings of proclaiming an important message from ADONAI (Hos 5:8; Joel 2:1; Zeph 3:14; Zech 9:9). In the Besekh the use of kērussō combines the primary elements of the Hebrew verbs of proclaiming a message from God that demands an obedient response.
the good news: Grk. ho euangelion (from Grk. eu, "good," and angelia, "message, announcement"), originally meant a reward for good news and then simply good news. In the LXX euangelion renders besorah, which may mean either a reward for good news (2Sam 4:10; 18:22) or glad tidings (2Sam 18:20, 25; 2Kgs 7:9). Christian Bibles translate the term as "gospel," but many Jews regard the word as a distinctively Christian term. The good news for the Jewish apostles to announce was the same as Yeshua proclaimed when he began his ministry, that the Kingdom of God had arrived in his person. See my comment on Mark 1:1. The Kingdom of God represented all that had been promised to Israel through the prophets.
to all: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. creation: Grk. ho ktsis, the product of a creative act, creation. The noun is used primarily of God's creation of the universe, whether of individual things or beings, or the sum total of everything created. In a special sense ktsis refers to an orderly system or arrangement produced by humans, i.e., human institutions (cf. 1Pet 2:13). In other words, all humans were to receive the good news and no human institution was to be left untouched by the good news. This version of the Great Commission (cf. Matt 28:19–20) is probably closest to the one given in Luke 24:47, "that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem." Mark's testimony of Yeshua's life and ministry ends where it began.
16 "The one having trusted and having been immersed will be saved; but the one having disbelieved will be condemned.
The good news of the Kingdom also included the promise of deliverance from sin and God's wrath. The one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having trusted: Grk. pisteuō, aor. part. See verse 14 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. The conjunction implies a sequence as well as combination. having been immersed: Grk. baptizō, aor. pass. part. (derived from baptō, immerse or plunge), means to dip, soak, or immerse into a liquid, so that what is dipped takes on qualities of what it has been dipped in—such as cloth in dye or leather in tanning solution. Christian versions translate the verb as "baptized," which can be misleading given the different modes of baptism practiced in Christianity. Messianic Jewish versions render the verb as "immersed."
In the LXX baptō is used to translate the Heb. taval (SH-2881, to dip, immerse) 13 times, whereas baptizō occurs only once to render taval (2Kgs 5:14), in reference to the story of Naaman (DNTT 1:144). In Scripture baptizō never means a rite performed by sprinkling or pouring and never of infants. Paul's representation of baptizō as burial and resurrection (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12) is a graphic illustration of the procedure. The passive voice the verb (which denotes receiving action) does not mean that the apostles were to personally put their hands on the immersion candidates and assist them under the water as occurs in the Christian ritual.
Three important elements define Jewish immersion. First, Jewish immersion was (and is) self-immersion, as in the story of Naaman. No one touches the one immersing and no one needs to put the penitent under for it to be valid. Second, Jewish immersion is gender-specific. That is, men are not present when women immerse and vice versa. Third, among Jews ablutions of all kinds are not performed by people under bar/bat mitzvah age when a boy or girl became fully accountable to the Torah. In the apostolic narratives only those who repented, i.e. adults, immersed themselves. Immersion is here listed as an external sign of inward trust just as confessing with the mouth (Rom 10:10). See Ron Moseley, The Jewish Background of Christian Baptism.
will be saved: Grk. sōzō, fut. pass. (from saos, 'free from harm'), to rescue from a hazardous condition or circumstance, to save. The apostolic writings reveal that salvation is the assurance of deliverance from God’s wrath in the Day of the Lord and at the final judgment (Rom 5:9; 1Cor 5:5; 1Th 5:9; Heb 11:7; 1Pet 1:5), as well as deliverance from all that might lead to such judgment, such as sin. The succinct statement summarizes Peter's message on Pentecost, "Repent, and let each of you be immersed in the name of Messiah Yeshua for the removal of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach ha-Kodesh" (Acts 2:38 TLV).
but: Grk. de, conj. the one: Grk. ho. having disbelieved: Grk. apisteo, aor. part., may mean either (1) not accept as true, to give no credence to, refuse to believe, or (2) lack a sense of obligation or commitment, to be unfaithful. "Disbelieving" could refer either to those who don't trust in Yeshua at all or those who have believed but turned away from the Savior, probably the former. will be condemned: Grk. katakrinō, fut. pass., declare worthy of punishment, pronounce a verdict or condemn. This statement is similar to Paul's dictum, "If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself." 2Tim 2:12-13).
Mark presents a simple contrast. Those who trust and are immersed will be saved. Those who do not trust and do not immerse won't be saved. The proposition doesn't consider whether one trusts but fails to be immersed. The apostles would not have imagined such an outcome. Some would object that the thief on the cross was not immersed, but still went to Paradise. The root issue is obedience. Yeshua wants his followers to be immersed (John 3:22; Acts 8:36; 10:48; 16:33; 22:16; 1Cor 12:13). To find some excuse for not obeying the wishes of our Lord when one is fully capable is tantamount to rebellion.
17 "Moreover, these signs will accompany the ones having trusted: in my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. these signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion means sign, miracle or wonder, something that confirms or validates through the display of transcendent power. Sēmeion is used in the apostolic narratives in reference to miracles performed by Yeshua that attest his authority and validate his divinity (Matt 12:38; 16:1; Mark 8:11; Luke 11:16; 23:8; John 2:11, 18; 4:54; 6:14; 12:18; 20:30f). The corresponding Heb. word oth referred to signs, omens or miracles promised by prophets as pledges of certain predicted events or as pledges or attestations of divine presence and intervention in the affairs of men (DNTT 2:626). See the note on 8:11.
will accompany: Grk. parakolutheō, fut., to be in close association with, to follow, here of five signs and wonders functioning in a supportive role. See verse 20 below. It's noteworthy that Yeshua did not instruct his disciples to seek these signs; he only said that they would occur (cf. Matt 12:38-39; 16:4). the ones having trusted: Grk. pisteuō, aor. part. See verse 14 above. in my name: Grk. onoma, in its central sense is used to identify someone. The phrase "in My name" is a technical expression designating an appointed emissary or representative (Lane 457). The idiom of "My name" is not strictly a ritual formula, something actually spoken to give verisimilitude to one's action whatever they may be, nor is it intended as a magical charm. Rather, the proper use of Yeshua's name represents his authority and heaven will only recognize a true disciple's use of it (cf. Matt 18:20; Mark 9:39; Acts 3:6; 16:18; Jas 5:14).
Dispensationalists contend that the promise of signs was only a temporary measure to validate the preaching of the apostles (cf. Heb 2:3-4). There is no need for such miracles now because the apostolic Scriptures are complete. After all, Paul had said that prophecies, "tongues" and supernatural knowledge would eventually cease (1 Cor 13:8). The passage here does not give a time limit on these signs and so modern disciples should not expect them (DSB 1081). On the other hand, the promise here is that the signs will accompany those who have responded in faith to the the good news, not just those who preach the message of salvation. The instruction of Paul must be understood in light of 1 Corinthians 13:10, "when the perfect comes." In other words, when Yeshua comes, prophecy will no longer be needed, there will be no need for more knowledge and humanity will no longer be divided by many languages. We will all speak one language, no doubt the language of angels (1 Cor 13:1). Since we still await the Second Coming and the good news is still being preached, the signs are applicable. God is still a miracle-working God.
they will cast out: Grk. ekballō, fut., from the prep. ek, "out" or "out of" and ballo, which normally refers to something in the hand that is thrown or cast, such as the scattering of seed, casting of lots, throwing stones at someone or in this case figs blown by the wind (the hand of God) from a tree. Thus, it was the hand of God in the person of Yeshua who removed demonic trespassers from their human victims. demons: pl. of Grk. daimonion refers to a deity or transcendent being of lesser or subordinate rank. In the Besekh the term only has a negative connotation of an evil spirit hostile toward man and God. Daimonion was historically derived from daiomai, to divide or apportion and may be connected with the idea of the god of the dead as a divider of corpses (DNTT I, 450).
Yeshua gave his apostles authority to cast out unclean spirits (Matt 10:1; Mark 6:7; Luke 9:1). The narrative doesn't describe how they used that authority. On the other hand when Luke recounts the mission of the seventy, they reported "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name" (Luke 10:17). The disciples probably left out this important element in their deliverance efforts. Later Yeshua would remind his disciples at the Last Supper, "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do" (John 14:13). After Pentecost the apostles were successful in healings and deliverances by invoking the name of Yeshua (Acts 3:6; 4:10; 16:18). Deliverance from the demonic has occurred in many times and places. See Kurt Koch, Occult Bondage and Deliverance (1970), for true life accounts of deliverance.
they will speak: Grk. laleō, fut., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech. with new: Grk. kainos, may mean (1) of recent origin or (2) different and superior in quality relative to something old. In this case "new" means new to the speaker. tongues: pl. of Grk. glōssa occurs 52 times in the apostolic writings with one of three meanings: (1) one time as a flame-like portent (Acts 2:3); (2) 15 times for the organ of the tongue, emphasizing the capacity for speech (Mark 7:33, 35; Luke 1:64; 16:24; Acts 2:26; Rom 3:13; 14:11; 1Cor 14:9; Jas 1:26; 3:5, 6, 8; 1Pet 3:10; 1Jn 3:18; Rev 16:10); and (3) 16 times for a language spoken by a particular people group or nation (Acts 2:4, 11; 10:46 (cf. 11:15); 19:6; 1Cor 12:10, 28, 30; 13:1, 8; Php 2:11; Rev 5:9; 7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 17:15).
In the LXX glōssa generally renders the Heb. lashôn (SH-3956), which is used in the Tanakh for the physical organ of the tongue in humans and animals, for the faculty of speech and for the language of a people-group (DNTT 3:1078f). In this verse Bible versions are divided over translation of glōssa. Many versions have "tongues" (ASV, CJB, DRA, ESV, GNC, KJV, LEB, MSG, MOUNCE, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, OJB,, RSV, TEV), but many others have "languages" (AMP, BBE, CEV, GW, HCSB, HNV, Mace, NCV, NET, NLT, NLB, TLV, MW, WEB and Wey NT). The NASB and NIV I own have a marginal note "or languages." The point of the prophecy is not that people will speak in so-called glossolalia, which is evident by the adjective "new" and the plural nature of the noun. There are two potential layers of meaning.
First, "new tongues" could be idiomatic of a transformed mouth. The new believer's tongue will be transformed from an organ of abuse and disrespect to God to a tongue engaged in praise of God, as David prayed, "Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness" (Ps 51:14). Second, "new tongues" refers to diverse people groups, previously unknown to the apostles, who embrace the good news, as it says in the Prophets:
"I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance." (Isa 45:23; quoted in Phil 2:11)
"For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory." (Isa 66:18)
"And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him." (Dan 7:14)
In the Pentecost narrative Luke lists sixteen points of origin for the Jews and Gentile proselytes present for Peter's sermon, each place with its own dialect (Acts 2:9-11). Wycliffe Bible Translators has identified over 3,000 people groups in the world and close to 7,000 languages in the world. By the end of the first century many more than sixteen dialects had heard the good news of salvation. At the present time the message of redemption reaches around the world in a multitude of languages, a glorious fulfillment of this prophecy.
18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will be well."
About twenty MSS, mostly late, begin this verse with "And in the hands" (GNT 197). they will pick up: Grk. airō, fut., may mean (1) lift up, take up, pick up; (2)lift up and take away or carry along; (3) lift up and carry away, remove; (4) take away, remove (BAG). serpents: pl. of Grk. ophis, snake in the literal sense, or having the habits or characteristics of a snake in reference to humans or other entities, especially of a demonic order (Matt 23:33; 2 Cor 11:3; Rev 12:9, 14-15; 20:2). Commentators usually make a connection between this prediction and Paul's experience of being bitten by a viper (Grk. echidna) while on the island of Malta. He shook off the snake and was unharmed (Acts 28:3-6).
However, Paul did not pick up a serpent, so there is no necessary connection between these two passages. Another possibility is an allusion to the time Moses lifted up a standard with a serpent on it to heal people who had been bitten by snakes (Num 21:8-9). Thus the prediction could be saying in a figurative sense, "they will lift up means of healing." There is certainly no warrant to engage in snake handling as occurs in pagan religions.
Most likely "serpents" is figurative of demonic powers and the prediction alludes to the words of Yeshua:
"Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. 20 "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." (Luke 10:19-20)
Also, by translating the verb as "remove" the prediction may amplify the promise of casting out demons.
and if: Grk. kan, conj., a contingency particle setting the stage for consideration of additional possibility. The conjunction implies that the former prediction is supplemented by the one that follows. they drink: Grk. pinō, aor. subj., to take in liquid, to drink. The verb normally refers to literal oral consumption, but it also has a number of figurative uses (e.g. Mark 10:38-39; John 4:14). In those figurative uses "drink the cup" equals submitting to a severe trial or even death (BAG). anything deadly: Grk. thanasimos, adj. (from thanatos, death). There is no word for "poison" in the Greek text, but thanasimos is used for poison in Josephus (Ant. XIV, 11:4). The term could have a literal or figurative use.
it will not hurt them: Grk. blaptō, to harm or to injure. What should be noted is that this verse does not encourage drinking anything harmful to the human body. John Gill suggests that the promise means should they be forced to it by their enemies in order to destroy them, they should find no hurt by it. The church father Papias (d. 120 A.D.) reports that Barsabbas, surnamed Justus, who was put up with Matthias for the apostleship (Acts 1:23), drank a poisonous draught, and by the grace of the Lord, received no hurt (Fragments VI). Job referred to his sufferings as a poisonous drink: "For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, their poison my spirit drinks; the terrors of God are arrayed against me" (Job 6:4). In Jeremiah God gave wormwood to Israel to drink, figurative of judgment (Jer 8:14; 9:15; 23:15). In Revelation drinking something harmful is symbolic of God's wrath being poured out (Rev 14:8, 10; 16:6).
Yeshua had asked his disciples, "Are you able to drink the cup that I drink" (Mark 10:38). Yeshua's cup was the cup of sacrifice and death, and choosing to follow in the footsteps of the Master will not cause spiritual harm. This proposition is not a prediction, but merely a conditional statement of a possible situation with a promise attached. However, if these two actions are considered in light of the third, laying hands on the sick, then there may be some correlation and this whole verse concerns the healing ministry of the congregation. The point here is that the disciples of the Messiah will overcome evil and not be overcome by it.
they will lay: Grk. epitithēmi, fut., to place something on, to lay. hands: pl. of Grk. cheir, the body part with fingers. on the sick: pl. of Grk. arrōstos, ill or sick. Yeshua healed many people by touching them with his hands (Mark 6:5; 8:23, 25; Luke 4:40; 14:4). Laying on of hands, as well as anointing with oil, was a common method of healing (Mark 5:23; Jas 5:14-15). and they will have: Grk. echō, fut. See verse 8 above. wellness: Grk. kalōs, adv., in an effective manner with the focus on meeting expectations. Here the adverb refers to physical recovery. Several instances of such healing may be found in the book of Acts: Peter healed the lame man at the temple (3:1-11), some were healed by the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15), Peter healed Aeneas of paralysis (Acts 9:33-34), Peter raised Dorcas to life (Acts 9:36-41), Paul healed a cripple in Lystra (14:8-10), a number were healed with handkerchiefs and aprons taken from the body of Paul (Acts 19:12), and Paul healed the father of Publius of a fever and dysentery, as well as others (Acts 28:7-9). God continues to heal our diseases (Ps 103:1-3).
19 Indeed then, Lord Yeshua after having spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat on the right of God.
Indeed: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which may (1) indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, 'so, therefore, consequently, then;' (2) indicate that one takes account of something in the narrative immediately preceding, 'then;' or (3) simply indicate a stage in the narrative, 'so, then.' The first meaning applies here. then: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority (over 6,000 times) to replace Heb. YHVH. Kurios also occurs a number of times to identify men of higher rank to whom respect is owed (DNTT 2:511).
Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and members of the public addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry. The frequent use of kurios to address Yeshua in the flesh would not have considered deity. The apostles meant kurios in the sense of Heb. adôn, because Yeshua is the owner-master of his disciples. Yeshua: See verse 6 above. after: Grk. meta, prep. having spoken: Grk. laleō, aor. inf. See verse 17 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. was taken up: Grk. analambanō, aor. pass., to cause movement in an upward direction; take up. The verb depicts the ascension of Yeshua. into: Grk. eis, prep. heaven: Grk. ouranos refers to the area above the earth that encompasses the atmosphere, interstellar space and the transcendent dwelling-place of God.
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). In terms of direction from the ground level of the earth 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; 2Cor 12:2). The third heaven was the destination for Yeshua's ascension. In Scripture ouranos is always "up" as a direction from the surface of the earth.
and: Grk. kai. sat: Grk. kathizō, aor., to sit, to take one's seat. on: Grk. ek, prep. used to denote separation, lit. "out of, from within" (DM 102). the right: Grk. dexios, right as a direction or location, used of a bodily member or a location within a structure or in relation to a structure. Many versions have the anthropomorphic translation of "right hand." of God: Grk. theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context. In the LXX theos primarily renders the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos.
The only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1) and who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5; Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel. The God of Israel is the only God there is. The deities of all other religions and cults are the product of Satan-inspired imagination. The statement of this verse fulfills Psalm 110:1 and Yeshua's own prediction about himself at Mark 14:62. This verse summarizes the ascension story of Luke (Acts 1:1-9). At the right hand of God the Son continues to make intercession for his people.
20 And they having gone forth proclaimed everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the accompanying signs.]
And: Grk. de, conj. they having gone forth: Grk: exerchomai, aor. part., to move away from a place or position. and proclaimed: Grk. kērussō. See verse 15 above. everywhere: Grk. pantachou, adv., in any and every direction, everywhere. the Lord working: Grk. sunergeō, pres. part., to work along with in a supportive manner, to assist. with them, and confirming: Grk. bebaioō, pres. part., to put beyond doubt, to confirm, establish or validate. the word: Grk. logos, a vocalized expression of the mind, as communication ranging broadly in extent of content and variety of form; word, discourse, statement, message or speech. by the accompanying: Grk. epakoloutheō, pres. part., to be in close association with what precedes. signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion. See verse 17 above. This verse summarizes apostolic ministry following the ascension (verse 19) and Pentecost. Assuming a non-Markan source the verse may well reflect the spread of the good news for the next forty years, in effect summing up the book of Acts.
Josephus provides this fitting eulogy of Yeshua's life, death and resurrection:
"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day." (Ant. XVIII, 3:3)
Arnon: The Book of Blessings: For the Sabbath and Holidays with the Family. Chief Ed. David Arnon. Matan Arts Publishing Ltd., 2009.
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.
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.
ISBE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Ed. James Orr. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939. Website HTML, 2011. Online.
JANT: Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
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.
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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