Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.III.
(1-6) A man there which had a withered hand.—See Notes on Matthew 12:9-14. St. Mark omits the reference to the sheep fallen into a pit, and, on the other hand, gives more graphically our Lord’s “looking round” with an “anger” which yet had in it a touch as of pitying grief. The form of the Greek participle implies compassion as well as sorrow. St. Mark alone names (Mark 3:6) the Herodians as joining with the Pharisees in their plot for His destruction. On the Herodians, see Notes on Matthew 11:8; Matthew 22:16.
But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea,(7, 8) And from Judæa. . . . and from Jerusalem.—The fact thus recorded is interesting as in some degree implying the ministry in Jerusalem and its neighbourhood, which the first three Gospels, for some reason or other, pass over.
And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.(8) From Idumæa.—The only passage in the New Testament in which this country is named. It had acquired a considerably wider range than the Edom of the Old Testament, and included the whole country between the Arabah and the Mediterranean. It was at this time under the government of Aretas (2Corinthians 11:32), the father of the wife whom Herod Antipas had divorced, and this had probably brought about a more frequent intercourse between its inhabitants and those of Galilee and Peræa.
They about Tyre and Sidon.—The fact is interesting in its connection with the history of the Syro-Phœnician woman (Matthew 15:21; Mark 7:24) as showing how it was that our Lord’s appearance in that region was welcomed as that of one whose fame had travelled thither before Him.
And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him.(9) That a small ship should wait on him.—The fact thus mentioned incidentally shows that in what is recorded in Matthew 13:2 our Lord was but having recourse to a practice already familiar.
For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues.(10) As many as had plagues.—Literally, scourges; the same word as in Acts 22:24, Hebrews 11:36.
And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.(11) And unclean spirits.—The testimony which had been given in a single instance (Mark 1:24) now became more or less general. But it came in a form which our Lord could not receive. The wild cry of the frenzied demoniac had no place in the evidence to which He appealed (John 5:31-37), and tended, so far as it impressed men at all, to set them against the Teacher who was thus acknowledged.
And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him.(13) And he goeth up into a mountain.—The sequence of events in St. Mark varies much, it will be seen, from St. Matthew, and comes nearer to that in St. Luke. What follows is, like the parallel narrative of Luke 6:12-13, the selection rather than the mission of the Twelve, the latter appearing in Matthew 10. In St. Luke we find the noticeable fact that the night had been spent in prayer, apparently, as usual, alone, and that when it was day He called the company of the disciples, who had waited below, and made choice of the Twelve.
And Simon he surnamed Peter;(16-19) And Simon he surnamed.—On the list of the Apostles see Notes on Matthew 10:2-4.
And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:(17) Boanerges.—The word is an Aramaic compound (B’nè-regesh = sons of thunder). We may see in the name thus given a witness to the fiery zeal of the sons of Zebedee, seen, e.g., in their wish to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans (Luke 9:54), and John’s desire to stop the work of one who cast out devils (Luke 9:49), or the prayer of the two brothers that they might sit on their Lord’s right hand and on His left in His kingdom (Matthew 20:21). It was, we may well believe, that burning zeal that made James the proto-martyr of the Apostolic company (Acts 12:2). We can scarcely fail to trace in the multiplied “thunderings and voices” of the Apocalypse (Revelation 4:5; Revelation 6:1; Revelation 8:5), and in the tradition of John’s indignant shrinking from contact with the heretic Cerinthus. that which was in harmony with the spiritual being of the Seer, and with the name which his Lord had thus given him.
And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite,(18) Simon the Canaanite.—Better, Cananite, or, following many MSS., Cananœan, i.e., the Aramaic equivalent of Zelotes. (See Note on Matthew 10:2-4)
And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.(19) And they went into an house.—It would be better to put a full stop after “betrayed Him,” and to make this the beginning of a new sentence.
And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread.(20) So that they could not so much as eat bread.—The graphic touch, as if springing from actual reminiscence of that crowded scene, is eminently characteristic of St. Mark.
And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.(21) And when his friends . . .—Literally, those from Him—i.e., from His home. As the “mother and the brethren” are mentioned later on in the chapter as coming to check His teaching, we must see in these some whom they had sent with the same object. To them the new course of action on which our Lord had entered seemed a sign of over-excitement, recklessly rushing into danger. We may, perhaps, see in the random word thus uttered that which gave occasion to the more malignant taunt of the scribes in the next verse. They were saying now, as they said afterwards (John 10:20), “He hath a devil, and is mad.”
And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.(22-30) He hath Beelzebub.—See Notes on Matthew 12:24-32.
And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?(23) Said unto them in parables.—The word is used in its wider sense, as including any form of argument from analogy more or less figurative. As in most reports of discourses as distinct from facts, St. Mark is somewhat briefer than St. Matthew.
But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation:(29) In danger of eternal damnation.—Better, eternal judgment, the Greek word not necessarily carrying with it the thoughts that now attach to the English. The best MSS., however, give, “in danger of an eternal sin”—i.e., of one which will, with its consequences, extend throughout the ages. It is, of course, more probable that a transcriber should have altered “sin” into “judgment,” substituting an easier for a more difficult rendering, than the converse.
Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.(30) Because they said.—This, it will be noted, is peculiar to St. Mark. It is as though he would explain to his readers what it was that had called forth so awful a warning. He does not absolutely identify what had been said with the sin against the Holy Ghost, but it tended to that sin, and therefore made the warning necessary.
There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him.(31-35) There came then his brethren and his mother.—See Notes on Matthew 12:46-50.
And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.(32) Thy mother and thy brethren.—Many MSS. of high authority add, “and Thy sisters,” and so explain the emphatic addition of that word in Mark 3:35.
And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!(34) And he looked round about.—Literally, looking round on those who sat in a circle round Him. Another graphic touch of this Evangelist.