Mark 1:7
And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
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(7) There cometh one mightier than I.—See Note on Matthew 3:11; but note the slight difference—not, as there, “whose shoes I am not worthy to bear,” but “the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.” Latchet,” a word now obsolete, was the “thong” or “lace” with which shoes or sandals were fastened. To stoop down and loosen the sandals was commonly the act of the servant who afterwards carried them, but it expressed more vividly what we should call the menial character of the office, and therefore, we may believe, was chosen by St. Mark. (See Introduction.)

1:1-8. Isaiah and Malachi each spake concerning the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the ministry of John. From these prophets we may observe, that Christ, in his gospel, comes among us, bringing with him a treasure of grace, and a sceptre of government. Such is the corruption of the world, that there is great opposition to his progress. When God sent his Son into the world, he took care, and when he sends him into the heart, he takes care, to prepare his way before him. John thinks himself unworthy of the meanest office about Christ. The most eminent saints have always been the most humble. They feel their need of Christ's atoning blood and sanctifying Spirit, more than others. The great promise Christ makes in his gospel to those who have repented, and have had their sins forgiven them, is, they shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost; shall be purified by his graces, and refreshed by his comforts. We use the ordinances, word, and sacraments without profit and comfort, for the most part, because we have not of that Divine light within us; and we have it not because we ask it not; for we have his word that cannot fail, that our heavenly Father will give this light, his Holy Spirit, to those that ask it.See the notes at Matthew 3:3, Matthew 3:5-6, Matthew 3:11. 3. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight—The second of these quotations is given by Matthew and Luke in the same connection, but they reserve the former quotation till they have occasion to return to the Baptist, after his imprisonment (Mt 11:10; Lu 7:27). (Instead of the words, "as it is written in the Prophets," there is weighty evidence in favor of the following reading: "As it is written in Isaiah the prophet." This reading is adopted by all the latest critical editors. If it be the true one, it is to be explained thus—that of the two quotations, the one from Malachi is but a later development of the great primary one in Isaiah, from which the whole prophetical matter here quoted takes its name. But the received text is quoted by Irenæus, before the end of the second century, and the evidence in its favor is greater in amount, if not in weight. The chief objection to it is, that if this was the true reading, it is difficult to see how the other one could have got in at all; whereas, if it be not the true reading, it is very easy to see how it found its way into the text, as it removes the startling difficulty of a prophecy beginning with the words of Malachi being ascribed to Isaiah.) For the exposition, see on [1395]Mt 3:1-6; [1396]Mt 3:11.Ver. 7,8. We had the same, with very little difference in the phrase in Matthew. See Poole on "Matthew 3:11".

And preached, saying, there cometh one mightier than I after me,.... From whence it appears, that John was a preacher of Jesus Christ; of the dignity of his person, the excellency of his office, and the nature and importance of his work:

the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose; expressing the great veneration he had for him, and the great sense he had of his own unworthiness, to be concerned in the lowest and meanest service of life for him; and that he was far from being worthy of the high honour done him, to be his messenger and forerunner; See Gill on Matthew 3:11.

{3} And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to {e} stoop down and unloose.

(3) John and all ministers cast their eyes upon Christ the Lord.

(e) The evangelist is expressing here the condition of the basest servant.

Mark 1:7. καὶ ἐκήρυσσεν, introducing a special and very important part of his kerygma: inter alia he kept saying—anxious to prevent men from forming a wrong impression of his position. This is what makes mention of his ministry relevant in the evangelic record.—λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα, to loose the latchet of, instead of τὰ ὑποδ. βαστάσαι; a stronger expression of subordination, practically the same idea.

7. cometh] present tense. With prophetic foresight the Baptist sees Him already come and in the midst.

latchet] diminutive of latch, like the Fr. lacet dim. of lace, comes from the Latin laqueus = a “noose,” and means anything that catches. We now only apply latch to the catch of a door or gate. We speak of a “shoe-lace,” and “lace” is radically the same word. Here it denotes the thong or fastening by which the sandal was fastened to the foot; comp. Genesis 14:23; Isaiah 5:27. The office of bearing and unfastening the sandals of great personages fell to the meanest slaves.

to stoop down] This expression is peculiar to St Mark. It is the first of those minute details which we shall find in such abundance in his Gospel.

Mark 1:7. Ἔρχεται, there cometh) immediately, and even now present.—ὁ ἰσχυρότερος) that One, who is mightier. The One Christ is greater than John, yea, infinitely greater.—λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα, to unloose the latchet) We usually make fast our shoes with buckles, the ancients with thongs or strings. John seems by this proverbial saying, perhaps unconsciously, to make allusion to the baptism of Jesus, so as to express this meaning: I am not worthy to unloose His shoe-strings, much less to impart baptism to Him. For the shoes also, as well as the garments, used to be taken off, when a person was to be baptized.

Verse 7. - The latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. This was the menial office of the slave, whose business it was to take off? and put on the shoes of his master, stooping down with all humility and respect for this purpose. Thus John confessed that he was the servant of Christ, and that Christ was his Lord. In a mystical sense the shoes denote the humanity of Christ, which by its union with the Word became of the highest dignity and majesty. St. Bernard says, "The majesty of the Word was shod with the sandal of our humanity." Mark 1:7To stoop down

A detail peculiar to Mark.

And unloose

Compare to bear; Matthew 3:11.

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