Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.7. The Lord’s Conflict with the envious Unbelief of His own City; His Triumpn over Human Prejudice; His Return to the Mountain-Villages. MARK 6:1–6
(Parallels: Matt. 13:54–58; Luke 4:14–30.)
1And he went out from thence, and came1 into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought2 by his hands? 3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses,3 and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. 4But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
See the parallels on Matthew and Luke.—As to Nazareth, consult ROBINSON, 3. 419; WINER, Reallex.; my Leben Jesu, ii. 550. Mark’s narrative is not only identical with Matt. 13:54 seq. but also in its leading features with Luke 4:16, as is manifest from the recurrence of the question, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” and the saying, “A prophet,” etc. Notwithstanding, the points of time are so diverse, and have such an interval between them, that we must, following Matthew and Mark, assume a second and later appearance in Nazareth; one, however, which was only transitional and brief, inasmuch as the unbelief of the people of Nazareth remained the same. The special features of the narrative seem to belong mainly to the former of the two occasions. But how can a second visit of our Lord to Nazareth be conceivable, after he had been once rejected there? The first rejection had been no better than a tumult. This time He visits His own city in quietness, and for His own repose, after the decree to kill Him had gone forth from the Galilean Pharisees. But, experiencing the same utter lack of sympathy and regard on the part of His former fellow-citizens, He retreated back into the surrounding mountain-villages. It was the time (in the first year of His ministry) when He had accomplished the itineration of the mountains in the first Galilean journey, as also the second Galilean voyage over the sea to the farther bank; and when He was on the point of travelling over the towns of the valley of Southern Galilee, in the direction of Jerusalem. As He would confirm and corroborate this third and last Galilean preaching-journey by sending out the Twelve, a retreat into the mountains, and especially to a particular mountain, was fixed upon to precede. And He most probably took this occasion of visiting the district of Nazareth.
Mark 6:1. And He went out from thence.—Not merely, that is, “from the house of Jairus.” From this time forward, He ceased to have His abiding residence in Capernaum, although He still assembled His disciples around Him there on passing occasions. After the first conflict in Nazareth, He went down to Capernaum; He now designedly abandons again His permanent abode in Capernaum, without formally giving up His residence there.
Mark 6:2. He began to teach.—This does not mean His first entrance and its result; it rather refers to the interruption that soon followed.—That even such mighty works are wrought by His hands.—The ἵνα is characteristic. They regard the doctrine of Christ merely as a secret doctrine, which was intended to be the medium or instrument for the ultimate end of working miracles. And they enviously assume that this mysterious doctrine must have been entrusted to him by some one in a suspicious manner. Hence the emphasis laid upon the hands (laying on of hands, touching, etc.), as the method of performing the miracle. The working hands of the carpenter, they would say; as appears from what comes next.
Mark 6:3. Is not this the carpenter?—According to the custom of the Jewish people, even the Rabbis learned some handicraft. We have the example of the Apostle Paul: see Lightfoot, Schöttgen. But Justin Martyr (contr. Tryph.) has the tradition, that Jesus made ploughs and the like. “Whether with an ideal allusion, so that they became in His hands symbols, as Lange (Leben Jesu, ii. p. 154) thinks, may very properly be left to fancy.” Meyer. That Jesus regarded with a symbolizing mind and interpretation the toil of the fisherman, the fall of the sparrow from the housetop, the play of the children in the market-place—all this is not matter of mere fancy. But there is a kind of fancy, which men call inductive proof. It is represented, further, as a mere airy and baseless notion, to suppose that the brethren of Jesus would hardly have suffered Him to work much, because they saw in Him the glory of Israel. And yet it is not an airy and baseless notion, that His brethren early sought to deliver Him from the machinations of His enemies. What really deserves to be called fancy in the theological domain, is that aggregation of myth and anecdote which the scholastic learning of the present day so much abounds in.
No dogmatic importance can be attached (with Bauer and others) to the omission of “the carpenter’s son,” which Matthew has; since the expression, “the carpenter,” is only a stronger declaration of the same thing. But the former expression would not occur to the people of Nazareth, since they spoke from recent observation or past remembrances. In this way, the position of Jesus was referred back to, or identified with, Joseph’s. And it is obvious to suppose that Joseph had long before (between the twelfth year and the thirtieth of the Lord’s life) gone off the scene. As τέκτων has primarily a general meaning, and signifies any artisan, some, following Justin, have thought it signified here a maker of carriages, etc.; while others have interpreted into “smith.” But smith in the New Testament is δ χαλκεύς, and τέκτων is specifically a faber lignarius. Whether workmanship in wood was distributed into various kinds of handiwork, is a question not settled.—The brother of James.—As to the brethren of the Lord, comp. on Matthew. The apocryphal tradition adds to the four brethren, two sisters of our Lord: Esther and Tamar or Martha. Romanist expositors have, without reason, or for reasons well known, made these the sisters of His mother. These sisters seem to have been married in Nazareth; and therefore did not accompany the migration of Mary’s family to Capernaum.
Mark 6:4. Among his own kin.—Naturally, the immediate dependants and followers of Jesus stood related in manifold ways to the people of Nazareth. Christ does not say that His own house remained unbelieving, in the common sense of the term. But that there were restrictions of faith to be overcome even in this circle, springing from too great familiarity, is proved not only by the history of the Lord’s brethren, but also by that of His mother.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See on Matthew.—This narrative exhibits to us the narrow, petty, bigoted, envious unbelief, which was unable to apprehend and understand the Divinely great in its human nearness and familiarity; and this makes the section a most striking example of unbelief, as it confronts and embarrasses the Lord. It is the unconscious self-condemnation and self-contempt of the spirit which, alienated from God, and sunk into the lowest level, cannot appreciate the prophet that has arisen in its own city. In our Lord’s experience of this kind of unbelief,—to which a prophet is nowhere less esteemed than in his own country, and among his own kin,—we have fore-written for us a long chapter of the history of the world and of the Church. The history of Monophysitism, on the one hand, and of Nestorianism and Rationalism, on the other, may be referred to this principle. The prejudice of the base nature, that out of Nazareth, in the immediate neighborhood, from our own home, and finally out of humanity itself, nothing good can come, led to all those systems in succession which, on the one hand, dehumanize the God-man, and, on the other, undeify Him. But when we say that Christ celebrated His triumph over this unbelief of envious prejudice and of human self-depreciation, we do not thereby assert that He removed that unbelief in anything like a magical manner. He triumphed over it rather by leaving it alone, by going on His way, and by performing His miracles in the neighborhood around. He drew round the pestilent prejudice a circle of divine manifestations, like a besieger. The honor paid to the Divine, which from all sides reacts upon this centre of prejudice, and leads back the homeborn, with acclamation and celebrity on all hands, to his home again—that is His final triumph over Nazareth, over Judaism, over humanity.
2. And He could there.—This does not express inability in itself; but, as Theophylact rightly observed, it indicates the absence of the ethical conditions on which the miracles of Jesus depended. His miraculous power was not magical; but an ethical influence which required and presupposed faith. It is true that Christ also creates faith; but then that presupposes the felt need of faith. It is true that He excites that feeling also; but then that presupposes susceptibility, and the capacity of reception. And if this likewise is awakened by Him, it further presupposes sincerity, and a certain devotion which could not become hardened through evil motives into the always evil act of the heart of unbelief. The Evangelist further shows us that Jesus wrought miracles, even in this circle, according to the slender measure of faith there was; for he adds the observation, that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. Thus, he distinguishes from these lower miraculous works, the great manifestations of His wonder-working power; these latter could have and should have no demonstration under such circumstances. The condition on which the miraculous power of Christ was suspended was the reflection and copy of the conditions upon which the divine omnipotence, in love wisdom and righteousness, deals with the freedom of the world of spirits.
3. And He marvelled.—Fritzsche: “ἐθαύμαζον (they wondered at Him, on account of their unbelief), following only two cursive MSS.: manifest error of copyist.” Meyer: Stress has with great propriety been laid upon the contrast between the wondering of our Lord at the faith of the Gentile centurion, and His wondering at the unbelief of His own countrymen, who had so long been witnesses of His divine life. Jesus does not marvel at other human things generally; but He does marvel, on the one hand, at faith, when it overcomes in its grandeur all human traditional hindrances, and, on the other, at unbelief, when it can, in the face of multitudes of divine manifestations, and under the daily view of the opened heavens, harden itself into the pitiful acceptance of dead traditional prejudices. The former wondering might, humanly speaking, elevate and strengthen Himself; the latter, on the other hand, grieve and restrain His divine Spirit. He hastens away from the sphere of such spiritual evils, that He may in the distance unloose those spiritual breezes that shall dissipate them all. The Accusative (διὰ τὴν), “on account of their unbelief,” makes His astonishment all the more emphatic. It was hard for Him to reconcile Himself to this seemingly unconquerable dulness and limitation.
4. The history of Nazareth has been repeated on a large scale in the history of Israel. Israel, as a whole, also made the nearness of Jesus, His external “not being afar off,” an occasion of unbelief and fall. This temptation, resulting from the constant beholding of the Holy One with common eyes, was pointed to in Deut. 30:14, according to Paul’s interpretation of it in Rom. 10:8. It is the temptation which besets the intimates and fellow-citizens of chosen spirits and great geniuses; which besets theologians in the daily study and service of the truths of revelation, ministers in their commerce with the ordinances of grace, and all the lesser officers of the house of God in their habitual contact with the externals of divine things. It is the temptation also of ancient towns and churches, which have enjoyed exalted privileges, and indeed of the whole Church itself. “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?”
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See on the parallel passages of Matthew and Luke.—Jesus was renounced by His own city, both at the beginning and at the end of His Galilean labors: or, the stiffneckedness of prejudice, which is bound to the lower and earthly sense by a thousand bonds (envy, cowardice, indolence, self-delusion, dissipation, slavish sympathies and antipathies, etc.).—How far was Jesus actually of Nazareth, how far not?—No man is altogether of the place where he was born or brought up: 1. He is so in his derivation, but not in his individuality; 2. he is so in his outward lot, but not in his personal endowments; 3. he is so in his external training, but not in his internal education; 4. he is so in his human relationship and acquaintance, but not in his highest relations; 5. he is so in the petty events of life, but not in his greater fortunes; 6. he is so in his immediate calling, not in his highest vocation and destiny.—Christ an alien, and yet at home, in His own city; both in an infinite measure: every man the same in his own degree.—The error of the men of Nazareth concerning the coming of Christ: 1. They forgot that He was of Bethlehem; 2. they did not know that He was from heaven.—The double origin and the double home of Christ: 1. An original contrast in Him; 2. an analogous contrast in every man’s life below.—How Christ victoriously contends with the unbelief of prejudice among His own countrymen: 1. Prejudice everywhere opposes Him; and that, a. in an impure and gross apprehension of His dignity, as of a magical secret doctrine and art; b. in the reckoning up of all His earthly relationships, in order to urge them to the disparagement of His heavenly dignity; c. in a slavish community of envious and low judgment upon His life. 2. How the Lord lays hold of and overcomes this prejudice: a. He refers it all to a universal fact, which they might afterwards reflect upon (a prophet is not without honor, etc.); b. He does not forget, but heals, the few who needed and were susceptible of help among His scorners; c. He gathers up His influences, and withdraws; d. and He causes the light of His presence to shine brightly throughout the whole district around.—How the Lord surrounds the places which exhibit a corrupted prejudice against Him with the fiery circles of His divine deeds, in order to subdue them.—The Lord’s not being able in Nazareth, an expression of the divine freedom as over against the abuse of human freedom.—The Lord’s impotence a testimony to His perfect power and ability: 1. Of the divine power of His love (patience); 2. of the divine skill of His love (wisdom).—The sacred conditionality and free self-limiting power of Christ.—The omnipotence of God is not lessened, but glorified as spiritual power, by the fact that it conditions itself in love, wisdom, and righteousness.—To the man who had lost himself, and become to himself an object of contempt, the Lord brings back again his life.—Christ is both far off and nigh at hand, in order to overcome the stolid, careless minds of those who are bent on this world.—Christ’s retirement among the villages; or, the loftiness of the Gospel in its humility.—Christ’s own city, the old and the new: 1. Poor Nazareth, which rejects Him; 2. the great city of God in heaven and upon earth, in ten thousand places, which glorifies Him.—Nazareth a symbol of multitudes of streets and places rendered desolate by spiritual guilt.—How the Lord’s love with holy tenderness encircles His poor land and people.
STARKE:—MAJUS:—The unreasonableness and wickedness of our countrymen should never restrain us in the performance of our duty, or cause us to forget any of our obligations to them.—Nov. Bibl. Tub.:—Birth, lineage, and descent are far from making a man a Christian; they often rather, on account of prejudices, are the greatest hindrances to Christianity.—QUESNEL:—Wicked men often admire and magnify gifted preachers; but they are never without some excuse or other for not obeying their instructions.—It is common enough for those who would defeat the force of a sermon, to exalt themselves above the preacher.—When we entertain ourselves with a thousand strange matters that have no connection with spiritual profit, the power of the divine word is lost.—CANSTEIN:—He who built heaven and earth became, in His humbled condition upon earth, a carpenter.—Christ honored and sanctified all honorable human employments and handiwork.—QUESNEL:—Christ’s humiliation has been to many a stone of stumbling and an occasion of falling; while it was most essentially necessary to our external exaltation.—HEDINGER:—What is there that can grieve the Christian teacher beyond contempt and evil fruits?—Christ’s example is a most mighty consolation.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—Thou complainest that God saves thee not, and dost not reflect that thou thyself hast bound His hands.—QUESNEL:—The unbelief of a whole people does not hinder the mercy of God from extending to the small number of the righteous who are found amongst them.—BRAUNE:—Faith, which in its nature is receptive love, alone makes us partakers of the grace of God, which is imparting love.
SCHLEIERMACHER:—We find this (that a prophet is without honor in his own country) true among men, even as we sometimes find the contrary of it true. When any one is distinguished beyond others in any particular, his fellow-townsmen take pride in him, their vanity being flattered. Yet the contrary is not arbitrary, but usually dependent on the earlier or later period, and various spiritual or worldly influences. (The prophets killed, and the sepulchres of the prophets garnished.)—Much impressive truth is lost upon men, because they do not so much regard the matter as the source from which it comes.—Christ has as much cause to marvel at the unbelief of the present time, as He had to marvel in His own time.—GOSSNER, on Mark 6:4:—A warning to all preachers who do not like to leave their own home, kin, and country.—Nothing more outrages God’s goodness than unbelief or rejection of it.
Mark 6:1.—Tischendorf, ἔρχεται, after B., C., L., Δ.
Mark 6:2.—Codd. C.*, D., K., ἵνα γίνωνται; B., L., γινόεναι, which Tischendorf adopts.
Mark 6:3.—Codd. B., D., L., Versions, Lachmann, Tischendorf, read ’Ιωσῆτος; the reading ’Ιωσήφ occurs in some cursive MSS.
And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;SIXTH SECTION
CONFLICT OF JESUS WITH HEROD. THE CALL AND MISSION OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES. THE BEHEADING OF JOHN THE BAPTIST. THE WITHDRAWAL OF JESUS INTO THE WILDERNESS, AND THE MIRACULOUS FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND
1. The Calling and Mission of the Twelve. MARK 6:7–13
(Parallels: Matt. 10:1, 7, 9–11, 13; Luke 9:1–6.)
7And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; 8And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their 9, purse [girdle]: But be shod with sandals; and not put on4 two coats. 10And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. 11And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you,5 when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment than 12, for that city. And they went out, and preached that men should repent. 13And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Compare on the parallel passages of Matt. 10 and Luke 9.—It has been already observed, on Mark 3:13–19, that he distinguishes the separation of the Twelve from their first mission: Luke does the same, while Matthew combines their call and mission in one. The two events are indeed one, as Matthew records them, in this respect, that the separation took place with reference to an appointment of duty which then immediately impended. But they are distinguished by this, that the election occurred in the solitude of the mountain-range (hence Mark and Luke place them on a mountain, the latter connecting with the event the Sermon on the Mount; while the mission, on the other hand, occurred at the beginning of the third preaching-journey, on which our Lord passed through the sea-towns of Galilee, as we are told by Matthew. But, since the calling of the Twelve, between the Sermon on the Mount and the passage to Gadara (the second Galilean journey), was only as yet a preparatory vocation, we must make a distinction between a general separation of the narrower circle of disciples and that calling of the Twelve on the mountain which briefly preceded their sending forth in the valley, during the first year of Christ’s ministry. Now it is peculiar to Mark that he gives prominence only to the most essential points of the mission; that he records it as the beginning of the apostolical missions (Mark 6:7), and as a mission in pairs; that he lays emphasis exclusively upon the power given over unclean spirits (not that of healing the sick), in harmony with his fundamental point of view, and that to him this involved at the same time the preaching of the kingdom; that he most precisely gives the Lord’s injunctions touching their staff, their shoes, and their clothing; and that he finally makes allusion to the anointing-the sick with oil, in its relation to the work of the Apostles—here mentioning the sick, who had been previously omitted. Mark’s more limited account of the instructions given to the Apostles in comparison with that given by Matthew, is to be explained by the fact, that he has this first mission exclusively in view; while Matthew combines it with all subsequent missions, and consequently presents it in its ideal meaning.
Mark 6:8. Save a staff only.—Meyer insists that there is here a discrepancy between Mark, on the one hand, and Matthew and Luke, on the other—to be explained, as it regards the two latter, by exaggeration. (Comp., on the contrary, EBRARD, p. 382; LANGE, Leben Jesu, ii. 2, p. 712.) They were to go forth with their staff, as they had it at the time; but they were not to seek one carefully, or make it a condition of their travelling. And thus it becomes no more in Mark than a rather more precise statement of the meaning of Matthew and Luke. The same may be said of the permission to take sandals, in opposition to the prohibition of the ὑποδήματα, or travelling shoes proper, in Matthew. So the injunction not to put on two coats (in change), is only another form of the injunction not to have two garments. The fundamental idea is this, that they were to go forth with the slightest provision, and in dependence upon being provided for by the way. Gfrörer and Baur see in Mark’s expressions only intentional qualifications and softenings. We find in them no other than a more express view of their pilgrim-state, burdened with the least possible incumbrance, and as free as might be from all care.
Mark 6:11. For a testimony against them.—As a symbolical, but to an Israelite perfectly intelligible, declaration, that they were excommunicated,—“no better than heathen.”
Mark 6:12. Preached, that men should repent (ἵνα).—They not only preached the doctrine of repentance, amongst other articles of doctrine; but their whole preaching had for its end the producing of penitence, and change of mind.
Mark 6:13. And anointed with oil.—Oil was generally a very important medicament among the Orientals, according to Lightfoot and others. Here it is simply a symbolical medium of the miraculous work; just as the application of the spittle was (Mark 8:23; John 9:6), on the part of the Lord Himself. Meyer does well to contend against the supposition that the oil was applied as a natural means of cure (Baur, Weisse), or that it was used as a mere symbol (Theophylact, Beza, etc.),—not to mention other still less tenable notions. He is not right, however, in altogether detaching the symbolical significance from the medium. It is a fact, that the Old Testament anointing with oil preceded, as a symbol, the New Testament bestowment of the Spirit; and that it re-appears in the Catholic church, where the real impartation of the Spirit is wanting. Hence, it may be assumed that for the disciples, who could not like the Lord Himself awaken faith, it was appropriate to appoint such a medium for their miraculous power as would be at the same time a symbolical sign of the impartation of the Spirit, and the energy that awakens faith. Thus the anointing was a symbol of the bestowment of the Spirit as the preliminary condition of healing; consequently, not of the divine mercy (Theophylact), the healing virtue of which was symbolized by balsam, or of the divine regeneration (Euthym. Zigabenus), the symbol of which was water. The anointing with oil, which James prescribed to the elders in their ministry for the sick (Mark 5:14), appears, on the other hand, to have been a blending of the natural means of health with the saving energy of prayer as symbolized by it.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See on the parallel passages of Matthew and Luke.
2. The sending of the Apostles by two and two.—According to Grotius, with allusion to the Old Testament law concerning witnesses ad plenam testimonii fidem. But also for mutual complement, and encouragement, and strengthening. We have, accordingly, six special embassages: six was the number of labor and toil. The twelve missions of the individual Apostles were as yet only in the prospect.
3. We need only suggest here, that the New Testament anointing with oil—even that later one which James prescribed to the elders in their care of the sick—forms a perfect contrast to the extreme unction of the Romish Church. To us, this ecclesiastical anointing seems no other than an unconscious admission, on the part of the ceremonial church, that it had yet to bestow on its dying member the real communication of the Holy Spirit, whose type the oil was.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The first sending of the Apostles abroad into the world may also be likened to the little seed-corn.—He began to send: the end of His sending is the end of the world.—The mission of the Apostles by two and two, in its significance for the Church: 1. As to ecclesiastical office, 2. as to the people.—The blessing of the mutual help of laborers in the kingdom of God.—The embarrassments, dangers, and disgraces which so often follow a too early isolation in office, and in the religious life generally.—Christianity in life and office is a discipline of unenvying brotherly love.—The messengers and pilgrims of Christ not without needs, but without anxious needs.—The world loses, amidst its external equipments and means of resource, the internal end of life: the servants of the Gospel obtain, while they supremely regard the end, all the other equipments and resources.—The destruction of the kingdom of Satan, and the abolition of his power, is the great task of Christ’s servants, after the example and in the strength of their Lord.—The shaking the dust from their feet is in its kind a Christian martyrdom to the disciples of Jesus (a testimony in suffering).—The anointing with oil; or, how the miracles of the kingdom of Christ have leaned upon the marvellous powers of the kingdom of nature.—The kingdom of the Son attaches itself to the kingdom of the Father in the great whole as well as in individual things.—Those bound by Satan, and the sick, are everlasting tokens of the need of Christ and His messengers.
STARKE:—This authorization a demonstration of the divinity of Christ.—The ministers of the Gospel should be one and united.—QUESNEL:—Ambition and avarice perilous things to the preacher and his work.—OSIANDER:—Ministers should be satisfied, though they do not at once have all advantages they could desire, and things at their will.—GERLACH:—On account of their weakness, the Lord does not send His disciples alone. Laborers in the Lord’s harvest should look round for helpers in their work.—SCHLEIERMACHER:—The Lord’s direction in regardto the equipments of the Apostles no literal rule [he refers to the cloak of Paul, 2 Tim. 4:13], but a rule of wisdom.—If the provision of all these external things is so great as to rob us of a portion of our true strength, they are no real advantage, but tend rather to impair our usefulness and peace.—BAUER:—They were not to act as if they thought they might force men to hear.
Mark 6:9.—The best reading is ἐνδυσήσθε (A., C., D., E., &c.), which Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, and others adopt. The change in the construction, or the direct quotation of this command, makes it more emphatic.
Mark 6:11.—Tischendorf, after B., L., Δ., &c.: ὅς ἆν τόπος μὴ δέξηται μηδὲ ἀκούσωσιν ὑμῶν. Preferable in regard to importance of Codd., and is the more difficult reading. “Verily,” &c., wanting in B., C., D., L., Δ. Probably taken from Matt. 10:15.
And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.2. Beheading of John the Baptist. MARK 6:14–29
(Parallels: Matt. 14:1–12; Luke 9:7–9.)
14And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad;) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves [miraculous powers work] in him. 15Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. 16But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded:6 he is risen from the dead. 17For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married her. 18For John had said 19unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 20For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed [protected] him; and when he heard him, he did many things,7 and heard him gladly. 21And when a convenient [favorable] day was come, that Herod, on his birth-day, made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee: 22And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod,8 and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. 23And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. 24And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. 25And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me, by and by [immediately ] in a charger, the head of John the Baptist. 26And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. 27And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, 28And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel; and the damsel gave it to her mother. 29And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
See on the parallel passages of Matthew and Luke.—The time of this occurrence was the return of Jesus from the Feast of Purim at Jerusalem, in the year 781; that is, in the second year of His ministry. On His return from this feast, the disciples were once more gathered round Him at the Sea of Galilee. It is peculiar to Mark, that he connects the suspicious observation of Herod Antipas (see Matthew) with the work of Christ as extended by the twelve Apostles. And this is quite natural; since the fame of Jesus was not only extraordinarily increased by their means, but also invested with the semblance of a political import. With regard to Herod’s judgment of Jesus, Mark is more distinct than Luke; in exhibiting the relation in which Jesus stood to the Baptist, he is more distinct than Matthew. He is moreover very circumstantial in detailing the binding of John, the favorable crisis for Herodias, Herod’s promise to the dancer, the scheme concerted between mother and daughter, the daring urgency of the latter, and other similar traits. But he omits the circumstance, that the disciples of John carried intelligence of the event to the Lord.
Mark 6:14. King Herod.—The βασιλεύς in the ancient and wide sense. Matthew and Luke say more precisely, the tetrarch (here equivalent to prince). Starke: “Luke calls him, after the manner of the Romans, a tetrarch; Mark, after the manner of the Jews, a king.”—Heard.—That is, that the disciples of Jesus preached and performed such miracles (Meyer), and that Jesus sent them forth. Hence what follows: for His name was spread abroad. Therefore, not (according to Grotius and others), he heard the name of Jesus.—John the Baptist.—Ὁ βαπτίζων, substantively. Yet, perhaps, hinting an avoidance of the acknowledgment of his authority9 According to Luke, others declared that John was risen from the dead, and Herod was troubled at it. But the apparent contradiction is solved by our assuming that the idea was introduced by the courtiers, and that Herod, after slight hesitation, entered into their views with hypocritical superstitious policy (Leben Jesu, ii. 2). The expression might then be regarded as blending in itself a secret political meaning and a more popular one. According to the former it says, This new movement proceeds from the execution of John the Baptist; and if John was politically dangerous, the appearance of Jesus with His twelve Apostles is tenfold more so. Yet, at the same time, the expression might have been employed, in order to burden the conscience of the king and the people in reference to the execution of John.—Therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him.—John had wrought no miracle; and the prince seems to have made this his excuse, the high legitimation of a prophet having been wanting to the Baptist. Now, in his new form, said the theologizing king, it is seen that he is actually a prophet; the miraculous powers at length manifest themselves in him.
Mark 6:15. As one of the prophets.—That is, of the old prophets, even if not so great as Elias. It is manifest, first, that the opinions which then prevailed concerning the Person of Jesus, agreed in a certain acknowledgment of His higher mission; secondly, they differed in regard to the more specific definition of His dignity; thirdly, they presented a descending scale of lessening honor paid to Him, starting from a point below the primary recognition that He was the Messiah. And thus they mark the time when the persecution of Jesus was beginning, although the people generally were, in a narrower sense, entirely absorbed with His works and words. Matthew introduces this index of public opinion in connection with another event, which, however, falls within the same year of persecutions, Mark 16:14; and now this wavering judgment has become the popular cry.
Mark 6:16. Whom I beheaded.—Meyer: “ Ἐγώ has the emphasis of a guilty conscience.” “Mark the urgent expression of confident assurance which the terrified man utters: This is he; he is risen.”
Mark 6:20. For Herod feared John.—Seeming discrepancy when compared with Matthew, as Meyer here and always urges. Compare, on the contrary, EBRARD, p. 384; LANGE, Leben Jesu, ii. 2, p. 783. The θέλειν often indicates, in the New Testament, the natural willing in its weakness, the fain would, which, however, does not involve necessarily the full and perfect purpose of the will. Matthew, in his exhibition of the feeble, vacillating Herod, at the same time has in view his position on the side of Herodias as in opposition to the people; while Mark has in view his position on the side of the people in opposition to the thoroughly decided and resolute Herodias (see Macbeth).—And observed him, or Kept him.—Not, esteemed him highly (as Erasmus and others, with De Wette, contend), but he protected him a long time against the attempts of Herodias (as Grotius and Meyer). And this, at the same time, reveals the vacillation of the man, since, as prince, Herod might have set John free. “Herodias was instigated partly by revenge, but partly by fear that her present husband might, in consequence of the exhortations of the Baptist, repent of his sin, and separate from her.” Beda.
Mark 6:21. And when a convenient day was come; that is, favorable for Herodias.—Grotius: “Opportuna insidiatrici, quœ vino, amore et adulatorum conspiratione facile sperabat impelli posse nutantem mariti, animum.“—Lords, high captains, and chief estates.—The first two classes are servants of the state, civil and military officials; the third includes the great men of the land generally.
Mark 6:22. The king said unto the damsel.—The antithesis between “king and damsel” gives emphasis to his wicked folly.—To the half of my kingdom.—Starke: “This was a grand imitation of the great Ahasuerus; but in one without the supreme power, it was idle and boastful enough.”
Mark 6:25. I will that thou give me, by and by.—Strong emphasis, in the θέλω ἵνα. Observe the boldness of the malignant girl.” Meyer.
Mark 6:26. Would not reject her.—Ἀθετεῖν, to make anything an ἄθετον, illegal: therefore, to make invalid, or abolish, a decree, ordinance, covenant, or oath; and, in reference to persons, it means to deprive of a legal claim, or declare one unjustified: hence it involves the notion of humiliating, the repudiare. But the translation to “suffer her to ask in vain,” is much too weak.
Mark 6:27. An executioner, σπεκουλάτορα: one of his body-guard.—To them was committed the execution of capital sentences (SENECA, De Ira, i. 16, Wetstein).” Meyer.
Mark 6:28. And the damsel gave it to her mother.—Salome, the dancer, afterwards married her father’s brother, the tetrarch Philip.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See on the parallel passages in Matthew and Luke.
2. The institution of the apostolate, and the mission of the Apostles, were like a revelation of avenging spirits to worldly policy and despotism, cowardly and superstitious, suspicious and fearful from the beginning.
3. Herod a forerunner and confederate of Pilate in this, that he acknowledged the innocence and dignity of John, and yet had not the courage to set him free. He is also like Pilate in the vacillation of his weak character.
4. The opinions of those who surrounded Herod were like the verdicts of the great world concerning Christianity.
5. Herodias a typical character: woman in the demoniac grandeur of wickedness—the opposite of Mary. The New Testament Jezebel, as Herod is the New Testament Ahab. Herodias, the murderess of the greatest prophet, with whom the old covenant ended; Mary, the mother of the Lord, in whom the new covenant is sealed.
6. The intriguing woman, the courtezan in the royal court, an historical symbol. So also the dancer, and the vain festivity, and the sympathies of pride and presumption.
7. One sample of the influences of Grecian habits, as introduced into Palestine and spread there by the Herodians. Doubtless this influence could not but serve to efface the limits between Judaism and heathenism; but the true reconciliation between Greece and the theocracy could be effected only by Christianity.
8. The oath, and the word of honor, and the honorable deeds of the worldly-minded great, as they often clash with the eternal laws of God. In the godless oath there is a real and essential nullity; for God cannot be the avenger of a broken vow which was in itself impious. “But the breach of an ungodly oath demands an open confession.” Gerlach. “Herod should have said, Thou askest of me more than my kingdom, for what shall it profit a man? etc.
9. Fearful contrasts, in which are reflected the Satanic powers of wickedness: the head of the greatest preacher of repentance in the ancient world made a fee by an Israelite prince to a little Greek dancer at the court (a Jewess, who dances after the Greek fashion at the Israelite court); Christ, the Messiah of the Jews, betrayed by the kiss of a disciple to the hierarchy, condemned and given over to the Gentiles by the high-priests and the priesthood in Zion.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See on the parallel passages in Matthew and Luke, and also the Reflections above.—Christ, with His twelve Apostles, described as John the Baptist risen from the dead: 1, How far this was a gross error, composed of a mixture of guilty conscience, superstition, policy, cunning, ignorance, and blindness; 2. how far, in another sense, a great truth, in which the living law of the kingdom of God found expression (ineffaceableness, growth, progress, consummation, “the blood of the martyrs, the seed of the Church”).—The internal conflict of Herod and Pilate: 1. Similarities: impotent striving, long delay, critical suspense, shameful surrender. 2. Differences: a Jew, a Gentile; Herodias in the one case, the warning devout woman in the other; the people against the evil deed, the people in favor of it.—John the Baptist dignified and self-consistent as the great, heroic preacher of repentance: 1. Confronting the prince of the land, Herod; 2. in prison, and with the fear of death before his eyes,—The good impressions, which Herod had lost: therefore, 1. He continued in the sin; 2. in vacillation between the right and wrong; 3. in self-deception; 4. under the power of temptation.—The conflict between good living and living good.—The convenient season; or, the feasts and banquets of the world, and those of the kingdom of God.—The world’s estimate of the value of things: the head of a prophet of less importance than a dance; a blasphemous, drunken oath more sacred than the eternal law of God.—How the weak and wavering characters, whilst they delay, are overcome by the bold and daring conduct of those who are resolute in their wickedness.—The judgment which followed the beheading of the Baptist: pierced conscience, further guilt touching Jesus, a death of misery.—The frightful abandonment by the Spirit, which, in the great world, may cloak itself under the disguise of brilliance and vigor of spirit.—The fidelity and troubles of the disciples of John figurative of the troubles of faith as held bound in legality: 1. The heroic courage with which they buried their master; 2. the lack of believing courage to attach themselves to Jesus.
STARKE:—Even the great of this world have always been excited and moved by the Gospel of Christ.—QUESNEL:—The sinner has no peace when he would seek it; because he rejected it when it was offered him by God.—HEDINGER:—The judgments of this world are always out of square when they deal with spiritual things; therefore, dear fellow-Christian, inquire not about them.—Public teachers should without fear rebuke the sins and blasphemies even of the great; they may rely, in doing so, on the Divine help.—LANGE:—O ye court-preachers, learn of John what your duty is: he was no court-preacher, and yet he bore fearless testimony to the truth.—HEDINGER:—Devotion is always honorable, even in the eyes of the most frenzied children of the world.—Carnality befouls the best thoughts.—QUESNEL:—The festivities of the world are the best appointed tables of sin.—ZEISIUS:—The poor have to give the rich their sweat and blood, and they riot in the proceeds, etc.—Vain swearing.—Promises made over the wine-cup.—OSIANDER:—At the court there are often heavy payments for ridiculous trifles.—A foolish promise brings repentance after it.—QUESNEL:—The oath is sinful, and therefore null, when it cannot be carried out but with sin and injustice.—LANGE:—No servant or official should let himself be made an instrument of injustice; rather should he let everything go.—Christians pay honor to the pious on their death, and carry them reverently to their tombs.—GERLACH:—Close connection between debauchery and cruelty.—GOSSNER:—Thus does the world deal with God’s ambassadors.—BAUER:—See, what a marriage this was!
Mark 6:16.—The reading which drops ἐστιν, αὐτός (B., D., L., Δ., &c.), is strongly authenticated; but the omission is explained here by the similarity of οὕτος and αὐτός.—The omission of ἐκ νεκρῶν (Tischendorf, after B., D., L., Δ.) is not sufficiently supported.
Mark 6:20.—The reading πολλὰ ἠπόρει (“was often in doubt”) has B., L. in its favor. So Ewald and Meyer. But it is probably a modification of the strong πολλὰ ἐποίει.
Mark 6:22.—Instead of the Participle καὶ ἀρεσάσης, the Codd. B., C., L., and others read ἤρεσεν, and εἶπε δὲ ὁ βασ. This construction loses the emphatic preparation of the words: “Then the king said unto the maiden.” But the Greek construction of the Recepta may seem to be simply a softening of the text.
He whom men call John the Baptist, i.e.—Ed.
And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.3. Withdrawal of Jesus into the Wilderness on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, and the miraculous Feeding of the Five Thousand. MARK 6:30–44
30And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both10 what they had done, and what they had taught. 31And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32And they departed into a desert place by ship privately. 33And the people11 saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran a foot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. 34And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. 35And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed; 36Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves12 bread: for they have nothing to eat. 37He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, 38and give them to eat? He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and13 see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes. 39And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass. 40And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties. 41And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. 42And they did all eat, and were filled. 43And they took up twelve baskets14 full of the fragments, and of the fishes. 44And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
See on the parallel passages of Matthew, Luke, and John.—The time is designated most clearly by John. Jesus has returned from the Feast of Purim (in the second year of His ministry) to Galilee; and the journey begins probably from the district of Tiberias. The time is evidently just before the Passover; as it is manifest, from Mark’s mention of the green grass, that the spring was just beginning. According to Luke, it was, also, the time when the Apostles once more assembled around their Master, and when Herod began to take an interest in Him and in His doings. According to Matthew, finally, this miracle coincided with the time immediately after the execution of the Baptist, and the report brought concerning it. The peculiarities of Mark in this section are as follows: The disciples tell the Lord also what they had taught. They were to take a little rest in the desert place. As elsewhere there was no time for either the Lord or His disciples to eat, on account of the press of the people, so it was here. The fact also is mentioned, that the Lord’s departure was made known to many, and that the crowds hastened to anticipate Him. We must add the allusion to these as sheep without a shepherd, and the vivid description of the people’s dejected state.
Mark 6:34. When He came out.—The crowds of people might seem to have rendered abortive the design of Jesus to withdraw for a season with His disciples; for, according to the most obvious connection, we should suppose that ἐξελθών must mean: “When He came forth from the ship.” But as the Evangelist has mentioned the fixed purpose of Jesus to go into a desert place apart, we must retain the connection with this, and assume that the “coming out” refers to His leaving the wilderness again.—And He began to teach them many things.—This likewise confirms the previous explanation. Since a large portion of the day was gone, the time must have been drawing too near to the decline of day; and hence His discourse was interrupted by the suggestion of the disciples.
Mark 6:37. Two hundred pennyworth.—See for the details in John,—“through whom this part of the scene, not recorded by Matthew and Luke, obtains the confirmation of authenticity.” Grotius: “The amount that happened to be in the chest was two hundred denarii.” Meyer: “This does not follow; it was the estimate made by the disciples of what the provision would cost.” But they would doubtless make their estimate according to the condition of their treasury. The denarius, δηνάριον, was a Roman silver coin; it was used also at a later period among the Jews; somewhat lighter than the Attic drachma, but current at about the same value, being the customary hire of a day’s labor, about sevenpence halfpenny. See particulars in WINER.
Mark 6:39. By companies, συμπόσια συμπόσια.—A Hebraism, like the subsequent πρασιαὶ πρασιαί. Starke: “So that there were on each side 50, and 100 always together. Fifty such tables full made them just 5,000. Or, there were 50 seats in breadth, and 100 in length.” But, why not simply companies of 100 and of 50, through which they might freely pass? A living town in the wilderness. Gerlach: “Two longer rows of 100, a shorter one of 50 persons. The fourth side remained, after the manner of the ancients’ tables, empty and open.”
Mark 6:43. And of the fishes.—Reckoned among the relics which filled the twelve baskets. According to the account, these relics are distinguished from the κλάσματα, or broken pieces of bread.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
See on the parallel passages in Matthew, Luke, and John.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See on the parallel passage of Matthew.—The return of the Apostles, and the first resting-place provided for them by their Lord.—Come into a desert place apart, and rest a while: Christ’s call to His overwrought, excited, and restless laborers.—This word of Christ perverted by many of His servants into a toleration of idleness: He says, a while!—Christ’s rest, and His disciples’ solemn prayer, in solitude.—The refreshments of the world, and the refreshments of Christ’s disciples.—Into solitude, but with Christ.—How the Lord sacrificed for men both His solitude and His refreshment.—How He turned the seeming failure of His plan (touching solitude) into a higher realization of the same object.—How we should fashion the web of our life—our plans and the conjunctures of circumstances—into higher unity of godly action and suffering.—The miraculous festival which our Lord prepared for His disciples after their labors and journeys in the world.—How He continually comes forth in His mercy: 1. From the bosom of heaven; 2. from the darkness of Nazareth; 3. from the solemn season of prayer in the wilderness; 4. from the glory of the new life in the resurrection; 5. from the throne of heaven.—The school of Christ a free school in the highest sense.—With Christ, all that we have we have freely.—Christ was already King when they wanted to make Him king; but King: 1. In the kingdom of the Spirit; 2. in the kingdom of love; 3. and in the kingdom of divine blessing.—His earthly exaltation would have been the translation of His throne from the realm of the infinite into the realm of the finite and transitory.—Christ was constrained to repel the people with as much earnestness as that with which the mercy of His Shepherd-heart sought them.—Christ the breaker of bread, because He Himself is the Bread of life.—The riches of His kingdom.—Sufficiency with Christ is lavish abundance.
STARKE:—OSIANDER:—We should in such manner wait on our ministering as preachers of the Gospel, that we may be able to give in our account to the supreme Shepherd with joy.—It is good to rest after labor.—When we can separate ourselves from the tumult of the world, and send our spirits upwards to God, rest both of body and of soul is the result.—HEDINGER:—He who is in earnest to go to Christ, will let no trouble, labor, or expense hinder him.—OSIANDER:—Although we may have a certain amount of rest in this world, yet that is soon disturbed again by business. Here all is unrest; yonder is perfect repose.—The Church of God has indeed many shepherds; but since many of them are shamefully given to negligence, and many are busy with vain labor, it is reasonable to lament that the poor sheep have, after all, but few true shepherds.—QUESNEL:—The love of devout souls is indeed wise, but God’s love is better in this than all.—Poor people cannot do better than hang upon God, &c.—HEDINGER:—Piety and faith never die of hunger.—What in men’s eyes is impossible, may become possible through God’s power.—As to the fragments, order and economy are in all things well-pleasing to God.—God is a God of order.—Take your food with prayer and thanksgiving, 1 Tim. 4:4.—SCHLEIERMACHER:—Thus they came back with minds excited, and perhaps disturbed, by all these various opinions concerning Christ; and therefore it was very important that they should become composed, and readjust all their views in their original relation to the truth.—We should never find a contradiction between that which is our duty and the internal bias of our hearts.—Christ found between this will (to be alone with His disciples) and the great pressure of the people no contradiction: He knew how to reconcile one with the other, and by the other.—There is nothing more essential in the kingdom of God than what is incumbent upon us as duty, and what is the object of our wishes, should coalesce and coincide, the one upholding and preserving the other.—There is one entirely and purely simple wisdom.—To this nothing is so absolutely essential as simplicity of spirit.—The disciples were to be convinced (by the miraculous feeding), that if they applied themselves to the duties and obligations of the spiritual kingdom, their outward life would take no harm; whilst, on the other hand, everything would be interrupted if the Master should always act as they might think best.
Mark 6:30.—The καὶ(ὅσα) of the Recepta has the weight of the Codd. against it.
Mark 6:33.—The οἱ ὄχλοι is an addition (from Matthew), and is wanting in A., B., D., Griesbach, Scholz, Lachmann. Lachmann and Tischendorf have συνέδραμον ἐκεῖ καὶ προῆλθον αὐτούς. The many variations are essentially the same in meaning.
Mark 6:36.—’Αγοράσωσιν ἑαυτοῖς, τί φάγωσι—Tischendorf, after B., L., Δ., &c.
Mark 6:38.—Καί before ἴδετε wanting in B., D., L., Versions, Tischendorf.
Mark 6:43.—Tischendorf and Meyer, following B. and cursive MSS., read κοφίνων πληρώματα.
And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.SEVENTH SECTION
CONTEST OF JESUS WITH THE ENMITY OF THE PHARISEES AND SCRIBES FROM JERUSALEM; HIS WITHDRAWAL INTO THE GENTILE BORDERS OF TYRE AND SIDON, AND INTO THE DISTRICT OF DECAPOLIS
1. The Return to Gennesaret; the Contrary Wind; Christ’s Walking on the Sea; New Miracles on the Western Coast. MARK 6:45–56
(Parallels: Matt. 14:22–36; John 6:15–21)
45And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away15 the people. 46And when he had sent them away, he departed into a [the] mountain to pray. 47And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 48And he saw16 them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. 49But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit [spectre], and cried out: 50For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. 51And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.17 52For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. 53And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. 54And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him,18 55And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. 56And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
See on the parallel passages of Matthew and John.—We owe to Mark the very important record, which sheds light upon the whole narrative, that the disciples were sent forward before the Lord in the direction of Bethsaida—that Bethsaida, namely, which lay on the eastern side of the sea. (See on Matthew.) Thus it was a passage across. Then his expression, ἀποταξάμενος, is an important parallel to the ἀνεχώρησε in John: it gave Him trouble to release Himself from the excited and enthusiastic people. Also, in the expression, ἤθελε παρελθεῖν, he coincides, in the meaning at least, with John, Mark 6:21, ἤθελον οὖν λαβεῖν αὐτὸν, κ.τ.λ. But while Mark omits the intervening incident connected with Peter—which that Apostle, whose Evangelist he was, would modestly pass over, as making himself prominent—he lays stress upon the fact that the disciples had not been brought to a true and living faith, even by the miracle of the feeding. But he has painted most copiously and vividly the tumultuous excitement of the people, as it was occasioned by the Lord’s landing, and how they immediately knew Him and followed Him with their sick from place to place.
Mark 6:45. Unto Bethsaida.—Meyer’s notion, that this was the western Bethsaida, and not the eastern, appears entirely groundless. [Wieseler understands by it the eastern Bethesda. Alexander remarks that it was “not the city of Gaulonitis, at the northeastern end of the lake and eastward of the place where the Jordan enters it, in the desert tract southeast of which the miracle had just been wrought (Luke 9:10), but Bethsaida of Galilee, the birthplace of Simon, Andrew, and Philip (John 1:45), elsewhere mentioned with Capernaum (Matt. 11:21; Luke 10:13), and therefore probably not far from it, but at all events upon the lake-shore, as Eusebius expressly mentions.”—Ed.]
Mark 6:46. Sent them away, ἀποταξάμενος.—Not merely, “bade them farewell,” for which there would have been no necessity to send the disciples away first.
Mark 6:48. Would have passed by them.—They were to follow Him in a westerly direction: no longer fruitlessly rowing eastwards against the wind (see on Matthew). He went before them, as it were, to show the way. They had wished to take Him up on the eastern coast (John); He would go before them to the western coast (Mark): an intermediate course was the result in the end.
Mark 6:51. Were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.—The latter feeling found expression in exclamations; the whole strength of their internal amazement they did not express.
Mark 6:52. They considered not.—They had not yet come to an understanding, οὐ, συνῆκαν. They had not attained that living, self-developing apprehension of spirit, which would know how to draw the right consequences. Bengel: debuerant a pane ad mare concludere.
Mark 6:53. The land of Gennesaret.—See on Matthew.
Mark 6:55 Began to carry about.—Not merely in general, but some hither and others thither. It is also meant that they went with a sick man after Jesus from one place to another, when He had left the former.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See on the parallel passages of Matthew and John.
2. The first miraculous feeding marks precisely the moment when our Lord had most expressly to contend with the people’s design to challenge Him as the Messiah, and make Him a king. In contrast with this design of the people, we must here take notice of the expression of Jesus’ pity for the wretched multitude: so little can the attempt of a people to exalt Him prematurely, and in a worldly sense, exert any influence upon Him. In that very circumstance the misery of the people presented itself to His view most plainly. But even this earnest effort of our Lord to withdraw Himself from the people was successful only for a short period. Very soon afterwards He was obliged, in the synagogue at Capernaum (according to John 6), to declare Himself most emphatically; and from that time onwards, that enthusiastic fanaticism among the people, which had before been prepared to take side with Him, even against Pharisaism the hierarchy and Herod, declined. From this time treachery began to germinate in the soul of Judas.
3. The miracle of Christ’s walking upon the sea was a manifestation of His divine power, not only over external objective nature, but also over His subjective nature, in the medium of His human equanimity. The mystery of this equanimity is the manifestation of the paradisaical, holy man in the midst of the nature subjected by the fall to vanity. (Meyer does not understand this: see Note on Mark.)
4. It is observable that the Evangelist Mark most expressly, and in the plainest manner, describes the state of the Apostles, down to the revelation of the risen Lord among them, as a state of dulness, hardness, and unbelief. He does not thereby deny their fidelity as disciples. But the true and perfect faith did not, in his conception, exist until the new evangelical Spirit of life was given, that life which could approve itself in a personal spontaneous development. And the disciple of Peter approaches John in this, as in many other traits of his evangelical representation.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See on the parallel passages in Matthew and John.—The temptability of the disciples of Jesus as over against the fanatical excitement of the people.—How Christ constrained them to take ship and go over the sea, in order to separate them from the people; and what significance this has for the Church and the ministers of Christ.—Christ (and Christianity) the guide on the sea.—The walking of Christ upon the waters.—How the phantoms and scarecrows of vain fear vanish before the glory of Christ, in sacred reverence of His divine power.—The climax of the enthusiasm of the Galilean people on behalf of Christ was also a turning-point.
STARKE:—QUESNEL:—Man is in the world like a little ship upon the stormy sea in the night; since he can neither counsel nor save himself. He who does not know danger, and does not pray, may soon perish.—Jesus sometimes leaves us alone, that we may know ourselves and our own weakness, and feel how deeply we are in need of Him; but He never leaves us out of His sight.—The wind of persecution is a useful wind; for it brings Christ to us, and us to land.—Christ is Lord also over all nature.—LUTHER:—By such an example (the feeding) they should have been made so strong in faith as not to have been terrified at an apparition.—SCHLEIERMACHER:—Thus, as the living consciousness of the Redeemer is awakened within us, our temper must be calmed into the true equanimity; and this will smooth and regulate all things external.—All the powers which God has given us we should put in motion to glorify the kingdom of God.—GOSSNER:—We are all still upon the sea of life.—But He never loses us out of His sight.—BAUER:—When they have rightly heard the Master’s word, phantoms and night and storm are all forgotten.
Mark 6:45.—’Απολύει, after B., D., L., Δ. Tischendorf, Lachmann, Meyer.
Mark 6:48.—B., D., L., Vulgate, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, read ἰδών instead of εἶδεν, and omit the following καὶ (B., L.), making a parenthesis of ἦν γὰρ ὁ, &c—Ed.]
Mark 6:52.—B., L., Δ., Coptic, Vulgate, Tischendorf omit καὶ ἐθαύμαζον; rejected by Griesbach, bracketed by Lachmann, retained by Meyer.—Ed.]
Mark 6:54.—After αὐτόν Lachmann inserts in brackets οἱ ἄνδρες τοῦ τόπου ἐκείνου, following A., G., Versions. Meyer rightly regards it as a gloss.—Ed.]