Mark 1:23 Commentaries: Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
Mark 1:23
And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) An unclean spirit.—The phrase occurs in all the first three Gospels (not in St. John’s), but with special frequency in this. As in most Eastern cities, in both ancient and modern times, madness had an immunity from restraint, and the demoniacs seem to have mingled, if they chose, with the crowd of worshippers in the synagogue.

Mark 1:23-28. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit — Luke, which had a spirit of an unclean devil. And he cried out — Luke, with a loud voice. As soon as the devil saw Jesus, dreading his power, and expecting to be dispossessed, he cried out in great terror: saying, in the name of all the rest, Let us alone, &c. Art thou come to destroy us — By driving us out of our abodes on earth to the regions of darkness? I know thee — Under all the disadvantages of thy present appearance, I can sufficiently discern who thou art, the Holy One of God — Whom he hath sanctified and sent into the world for the destruction of my kingdom, and therefore I dread thee. It seems plain, from what is said afterward, Mark 1:27, that the other persons then present did not know Jesus to be the Son of God; how then should the demoniac know this if he had been only mad, as some vainly suppose, and not really possessed by an evil spirit? This case was so remarkable, that, as the evangelist adds, immediately our Lord’s fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee. However, though madmen might not know Christ, the devils could not be ignorant of him, from the time of his baptism, when the voice from heaven said, This is my beloved Son, &c, and therefore Satan soon after, in one of his temptations, says, If thou be the Son of God, &c., Matthew 4:6. And Jesus rebuked him — Not being willing to receive any testimony from Satan. When the unclean spirit had torn him — Or convulsed him, as σπαραξαν seems here to mean. Accordingly, σπαραγμον, as Grotius has observed, is sometimes used to signify a convulsion. It is certainly much more natural, as Doddridge observes, to understand the expression thus, than to suppose the devil to have torn him, according to the common meaning of the word torn, which leaves the reader to imagine that he grievously wounded him, when Luke expressly says, he hurt him not. And cried with a loud voice — Or, noise, rather, for he was forbidden to speak. Christ would neither suffer those evil spirits to speak in opposition, nor yet in favour of him. He needed not their testimony, nor would encourage it, lest any should infer that he acted in concert with them. Luke says, When the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him — It is remarkable, that in all the cures of this sort which our Lord performed, the person to be cured was seized with the disorder in its violence at the time of the cure, and raised from the stupor of the fit to perfect health in an instant. The reason was, that thus the reality and greatness both of the disorder and the cure were fully proved, to the conviction of every beholder. And they were all amazed — At so miraculous a cure; insomuch that they questioned among themselves — Inquired of each other, and reasoned together, saying, What new doctrine is this? — Luke, τις ο λογος ουτος, what a word is this! How powerful is this man’s word, or command! for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits — An indubitable proof that his doctrine was attended with an extraordinary power: and immediately his fame — Raised by this signal miracle, spread abroad throughout all the region — And made way for his reception in the progress which he afterward took into every place of the neighbouring country.1:23-28 The devil is an unclean spirit, because he has lost all the purity of his nature, because he acts in direct opposition to the Holy Spirit of God, and by his suggestions defiles the spirits of men. There are many in our assemblies who quietly attend under merely formal teachers; but if the Lord come with faithful ministers and holy doctrine, and by his convincing Spirit, they are ready to say, like this man, What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth! No disorder could enable a man to know Jesus to be the Holy One of God. He desires to have nothing to do with Jesus, for he despairs of being saved by him, and dreads being destroyed by him. See whose language those speak, that say to the Almighty, Depart from us. This unclean spirit hated and dreaded Christ, because he knew him to be a Holy One; for the carnal mind is enmity against God, especially against his holiness. When Christ by his grace delivers souls out of the hands of Satan, it is not without tumult in the soul; for that spiteful enemy will disquiet those whom he cannot destroy. This put all who saw it upon considering, What is this new doctrine? A work as great often is wrought now, yet men treat it with contempt and neglect. If this were not so, the conversion of a notorious wicked man to a sober, righteous, and godly life, by the preaching of a crucified Saviour, would cause many to ask, What doctrine is this?A man with an unclean spirit - See Matthew 4:24. It is probable that this man had lucid intervals, or he would not have been admitted into the synagogue. When there, one of his fits came on, and he suddenly cried out.23. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit—literally, "in an unclean spirit"—that is, so entirely under demoniacal power that his personality was sunk for the time in that of the spirit. The frequency with which this character of "impurity" is ascribed to evil spirits—some twenty times in the Gospels—is not to be overlooked.

and he cried out—as follows:

Ver. 23,24. Luke reports the same passage, Luke 4:33,34; he saith, There was a man which had a spirit of an unclean devil. The devil is called an unclean spirit in opposition to the Spirit of God, which is the Holy Spirit. The man that had this unclean spirit, or rather the unclean spirit in the man, cries out, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee. He doubtless feared what followed, viz. that he should be cast out. He counts himself destroyed when he cannot do mischief; like wicked men, who are the seed of this old serpent, who sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall, Proverbs 4:16. The devil here owneth Christ to be the Holy One of God. And there was in their synagogue,.... In the synagogue of the Capernaites, at the same time that Jesus was teaching there,

a man with an unclean spirit: not with an unclean heart, for there were doubtless many such there, but that had a devil; for in Luke 4:33, it is said, "he had a spirit of an unclean devil": so called, because he is impure in himself, and the cause of uncleanness in men, in which he delights: and such spirits sometimes are where religious persons meet, but with no good design; either to disturb the preacher, or to divert the hearer, that the word may be unfruitful and unprofitable:

and he cried out: either the man, or rather the unclean spirit in him, who had possessed his body, and made use of the organs of it: he cried out through dread of the majesty of Christ, whose presence he could not bear; and through grief and envy at the success of his ministration, and the influence it had upon the minds of men; and through fear of being dispossessed of the man, in whom he was.

{10} And there was in their synagogue a man {l} with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,

(10) He preaches that doctrine by which alone Satan is driven out of the world, which he also confirms by a miracle.

(l) Literally, a man in an unclean spirit, that is to say, possessed with an evil spirit.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Mark 1:23 f. Ἐν πνεύμ. ἀκαθάρτῳ] to be connected closely with ἄνθρωπος: a man in the power of an unclean spirit. See on ἐν Matthiae, p. 1141. Comp. Mark 5:2; 2 Corinthians 12:2; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 84 [E. T. 96]. As to the demoniacs, see on Matthew 4:24; and as to the miracles of Jesus in general, see on Matthew 8:4.

ἀνέκραξε] he cried aloud (see Winer, de verbor. cum praepos. compos. usu, III. p. 7), namely, the man, who, however, speaks in the person of the demon. Comp. Matthew 8:29, where also, as here, the demon immediately discerns the Messiah.

ἡμᾶς] me and those like to me. “Communem inter se causam habent daemonia,” Bengel.

ἀπολέσαι] by relegation to Hades, like βασανίσαι in Matt. l.c.

ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ] the hallowed One of God (John 10:36) κατʼ ἐξοχήν (see Origen and Victor Antiochenus in Possini Catena), a characteristic designation of the Messiah, which here proceeds from the consciousness of the unholy demoniac nature (Luke 4:34; Acts 4:27; Revelation 3:7; John 6:69). In a lower sense priests and prophets were ἅγιοι τοῦ θεοῦ. See Knapp, Opusc. I. p. 33 f. The demon does not name Him thus as κολακεύων αὐτόν (Euthymius Zigabenus, and before him Tertullian), but rather by way of giving to His ἦλθες ἀπολέσαι ἡμᾶς the impress of hopeless certainty.Mark 1:23-28. The demoniac.23. with an unclean spirit] lit. in an unclean spirit, i. e. in his power, under his influence. St Luke describes him as having a “spirit of an unclean demon” (Luke 4:33). He seems to have entered unobserved amongst the throng, but could not resist the spell of that Pure Presence.Mark 1:23. Καὶ, and) Mark, in the beginning of his history, records in what point of view both men and demons regarded Jesus. [It may be taken for granted that neither Mark nor Luke (ch. Mark 4:33) in this narrative insist on the historic order of events.—Harm., p. 256].—ἀνεκράξε, cried out) Most persons seem not to have previously known that the man was possessed. The power of possession must have been great, inasmuch as the same predicate is often assigned both to the man possessed and to the demon possessing him: ch. Mark 3:11, Mark 9:20; Acts 8:7.Verse 23. - And straightway there was in their synagogne a man with an unclean spirit. According to the best authorities, the sentence in the Greek runs thus, Καὶ εὐθὺς η΅ν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ αὐτῶν· And straightway there was in their synagogue, etc. This word "straightway" adds much force to the sentence. It marks the immediate effect of our Lord's preaching. A man with an unclean spirit. The words are literally, "a man in an unclean spirit" (ἐν πνεύματι ἀκάθαρτῳ); in his grasp, so to speak; possessed by him. There can be no reasonable doubt as to the personality of this unclean spirit (see Mark 4:24; Mark 12:41). The man was so absolutely in the power of this evil spirit that he seemed to dwell in him; just as the world is said by St. John (1 John 5:19) to lie "in the evil one" (ἐν τῷ πονηρῷ). And he cried out. Who cried out? Surely the unclean spirit, using the possessed man as his instrument. In the case of a true prophet, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he is permitted to use his own gifts, his reason, and even his own particular manner of speech; whereas here a false and lying spirit usurps the organs of speech, and makes them his own. Straightway

At the conclusion of his teaching.

With an unclean spirit (ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ)

Lit., "in an unclean spirit." Ἐν (in) has the force of in the power of. Dr. Morison compares the phrases in drink, in love.

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