Mark 6:14
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.
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(14) That John the Baptist was risen from the dead.—See Notes on Matthew 14:1-2. In addition an interesting illustration of what is stated as to Herod’s belief may be given from the Roman poet Persius. He is describing in one of his satires (v. 180-188) the effect of superstitious fear in marring all the pleasures of the pride of luxurious pomp, and this is the illustration which he chooses:—

“But when the feast of Herod’s birthday comes,

And, through the window, smoke-besmeared, the lamps,

Set in due order, wreaths of violets round,

Pour out their oily fumes, and in the dish

Of red-clay porcelain tail of tunny swims,

And the white flagon bellies out with wine,

Thou mov’st thy lips, yet speak’st not, and in fear

Thou keep’st the Sabbath of the circumcised,

And then there rise dark spectres of the dead,

And the cracked egg-shell bodes of coming ill . . .

It is clear that a description so minute in its details must have been photographed, as it were, from some actual incident, and could not have been merely a general picture of the prevalence of Jewish superstition in Roman society. Commentators on the Roman poet have, however, failed to find any clue to the incident thus graphically related. Can we, starting from what the Gospels tell us as to the character of Antipas, picture to ourselves a scene that explains his strange mysterious hints? In A.D. 39 Herod Agrippa I., the nephew of the Tetrarch, obtained the title of king from the Emperor Caligula. Prompted by the ambition of Herodias, Antipas went with her to Rome, to seek, by lavish gifts and show of state, the same distinction. The emissaries of Agrippa, however, thwarted his schemes, and he was deposed and sent into exile at Lugdunum. May we not conjecture that the same superstitious terror which made him say that John the Baptist was risen from the dead followed him there also? “Herod’s birthday” again comes round, and there is a great feast, and instead of the “lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee,” senators and courtiers and philosophers are there, and, lo! there is a pause, and the Tetrarch rises in silent horror—as Macbeth at the apparition of Banquo’s ghost—and he sees the dark form shaking its gory locks, and his lips move in speechless terror, and he “does many things” on the coming Sabbath, and the thing becomes a by-word and a proverb in the upper circles of Roman society, and is noted in the schools of the Stoics as an illustration of what superstition can effect. The view thus stated is, of course, not more than a conjecture, but it at least explains phenomena. Persius died, at the age of twenty-eight or thirty, in A.D. 62, and may well therefore have heard the matter talked of in his boyhood.

Mark 6:14-16. And King Herod (the tetrarch; see notes on Matthew 2:1; Matthew 14:1) heard of him — While the apostles were making their circuit about the country, proclaiming everywhere the glories of their great Master, and working miracles in his name, information concerning him and his marvellous works came to the ears of King Herod; for his name was spread abroad — And reached many places far more distant than the court of Herod, Matthew 4:24-25. And he said, that John the Baptist was risen from the dead — This his own guilty conscience suggested, and he could not forbear speaking of it to those that were about him. Others said, That it is Elias; and others, That it is a prophet — It is easy to account for the opinion of those who, upon Christ’s appearing in this part of the country, began to take notice of his miracles, and, being struck with them, imagined that he was Elias, or one of the prophets. For they expected that Elias would actually descend from heaven, and usher in the Messiah, Matthew 16:14; and that one of the prophets was to be raised from the dead for the same end. But when Herod heard thereof — Of their various judgments concerning Jesus; he still said, It is John, whom I beheaded, &c. — The suggestions of his guilty conscience were too powerful to be removed by the flattery of his servants; and he persevered in affirming that it was certainly John whom he had beheaded, and that he was risen from the dead.

6:14-29 Herod feared John while he lived, and feared him still more when he was dead. Herod did many of those things which John in his preaching taught him; but it is not enough to do many things, we must have respect to all the commandments. Herod respected John, till he touched him in his Herodias. Thus many love good preaching, if it keep far away from their beloved sin. But it is better that sinners persecute ministers now for faithfulness, than curse them eternally for unfaithfulness. The ways of God are unsearchable; but we may be sure he never can be at a loss to repay his servants for what they endure or lose for his sake. Death could not come so as to surprise this holy man; and the triumph of the wicked was short.See this account of the death of John the Baptist fully explained in the notes at Matthew 14:1-12.Mr 6:14-29. Herod Thinks Jesus a Resurrection of the Murdered Baptist—Account of His Death. ( = Mt 14:1-12; Lu 9:7-9).

Herod's View of Christ (Mr 6:14-16).

14. And King Herod—that is, Herod Antipas, one of the three sons of Herod the Great, and own brother of Archelaus (Mt 2:22), who ruled as ethnarch over Galilee and Perea.

heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad); and he said—"unto his servants" (Mt 14:2), his councillors or court ministers.

That John the Baptist was risen from the dead—The murdered prophet haunted his guilty breast like a specter, and seemed to him alive again and clothed with unearthly powers, in the person of Jesus.

Ver. 14-29. We meet with this history in Matthew 14:1-12, to which I refer the reader, having there taken in the most considerable things in the relation of the same thing by Matthew or Mark. Mark calleth him Herod the king, whom Mark and Luke called tetrarch. Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, but under that title he exercised a regal power within his province. The whole history teacheth us several things.

1. The notion of a faithful minister. He is one that dares to fell the greatest persons of what they do contrary to the plain law of God.

2. It also teacheth us the malice of souls debauched with lust. It was not enough for Herodias to have John in prison, where he could do her no great prejudice, she must also have his head cut off.

3. The ill influence of corrupt persons in princes’ courts. Herod had in his government appeared no cruel, bloody man. Our Saviour in great quiet preached the gospel, and wrought miracles for the confirmation of it, within Herod’s jurisdiction; in Galilee we find no inquiry made by Herod after him, no calling him in question: and for John the Baptist, he did not only tolerate him, but brought him to his court, reverenced him as a just and holy man, did many things upon his instructions, heard him gladly; but by the influence of Herodias (his courtiers being at least silent in the case) he is prevailed with to put him to death.

4. The arts likewise of these persons are observable; they take the advantage of his jollity on his birthday, when in the excess of mirth it was likely he would be more easy and complying to grant their requests.

5. We may also from hence learn the mischief of rash oaths and general promises, especially when they flow from souls ignorant of the law of God; for had Herod understood any thing of that, he could not have thought that his oath could have been the bond of iniquity, or obliged him to any sinful act.

6. We may also understand the mercy of God to that people who are governed by laws, whose lives and liberties do not depend upon the will of any.

7. Lastly, we may observe how far men may go, and yet be far enough from any saving grace. They may have a reverence for godly ministers, they may hear them gladly, they may do many things. The hypocrite hath some principal lust in which he must be gratified, and cannot bear a reproof as to that.

And king Herod heard of him,.... "Of Jesus", as the Syriac version supplies it; or "the miracles of Jesus", as the Persic version. This Herod here called a king, as he might be by his courtiers, and the common people, is the same with the Tetrarch in Matthew 14:1, for he was only Tetrarch of Galilee. This was Herod Antipater, the son of Herod the Great; the fame of Jesus reached his ears, he being governor of those parts, which were mostly visited by Christ:

for his name was spread abroad; by means of his ministry and miracles, and through those of his disciples, whom he had sent two by two into all parts of the country:

and he said that John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him; for Herod had some time before put John to death; and hearing of these wonderful things that were done by Christ, his conscience smote him for the murder of John; and such a thought struck into his mind, that he was risen from the dead, and did these miracles: and the more he thought of it, the more strongly he was persuaded of it; and told it to his courtiers with a great deal of assurance, that it was certainly he; See Gill on Matthew 14:2.

{5} 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 {i} works do shew forth themselves in him.

(5) The gospel confirms the godly and vexes the wicked.

(i) The word signifies powers, by which is meant the power of working miracles.

Mark 6:14-16. See on Matthew 14:1-2. Comp. Luke 9:7-9. Mark bears the impress of the original in his circumstantiality and want of polish in form.

ὁ βασιλεύς] in the wider sense ἀδιαφόρως χρώμενος τῷ ὀνόματι (Theophylact): the prince (comp. the ἄρχων βασιλεύς of the Athenians, and the like), a more popular but less accurate term than in Matthew and Luke: ὁ τετράρχης. Comp. Matthew 2:22.

φανερὸν γὰρ ἐγέν. τ. ὄν. αὐτοῦ] is not to be put in a parenthesis, since it does not interrupt the construction, but assigns the reason for the ἤκουσεν, after which the narrative proceeds with καὶ ἔλεγεν.

As object to ἤκουσεν (generalized in Matthew and Luke) we cannot, without arbitrariness, think of aught but the contents of Mark 6:12-13. Comp. ἀκούσας, Mark 6:16. Antipas heard that the disciples of Jesus preached and did such miracles. Then comes the explanation assigning the reason for this: for His name became known, i.e. for it did not remain a secret, that these itinerant teachers and miracle-workers were working as empowered by Jesus. Comp. also Holtzmann, p. 83. According to Grotius, Griesbach, and Paulus (also Rettig in the Stud. u. Krit. 1838, p. 797), the object of ἤκουσεν is: τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, so that φαν. γ. ἐγέν. would be parenthetic. This is at variance with the simple style of the evangelist. According to de Wette, Mark has been led by the alleged parenthesis φανερὸναὐτοῦ to forget the object, so that merely something indefinite, perhaps ταῦτα, would have to be supplied. But what carelessness! and still the question remains, to what the ταῦτα applies. Ewald (comp. Bengel) takes φανερὸνπροφητῶν as a parenthesis, which was intended to explain what Herod heard, and holds that in Mark 6:16 the ἤκουσεν of Mark 6:14 is again taken up (that instead of ἔλεγεν in Mark 6:14 ἔλεγον is to be read, which Hilgenfeld also prefers; see the critical remarks). But the explanation thus resorted to is not in keeping with the simple style of the evangelist elsewhere (in the case of Paul it would create no difficulty).

ὁ βαπτίζων] substantival (see on Matthew 2:20). Observe with what delicacy the set evangelic expression ὁ βαπτιστής is not put into the mouth of Antipas; he speaks from a more extraneous standpoint. Moreover, it is clear from our passage that before the death of John he can have had no knowledge of Jesus and His working.

διὰ τοῦτο] πρότερον γὰρ ὁ Ἰωάννης οὐδὲν σημεῖον ἐποίησεν· ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς ἀναστάσεως ἐνόμισεν ὁ Ἡρώδης προσλαβεῖν αὐτὸν τῶν σημείων τὴν ἐργασίαν, Theophylact.

αἱδυνάμεις] the powers κατʼ ἐξοχήν, i.e. the miraculous powers, the effluence of which he saw now also in the working of the disciples.

Mark 6:15. The difference between these assertions is that some gave Him out to be the Elias, and so to be the prophet who was of an altogether special and distinguished character and destination; but others said: He is a prophet like one of the prophets, i.e. (comp. Jdg 16:7; Jdg 16:11), a usual, ordinary prophet, one out of the category of prophets in general, not quite the exceptional and exalted prophet Elias. Comp. Ewald, p. 258 f. The interpolation of before ὡς could only be occasioned by the expression not being understood.[97]

Mark 6:16. ἀκούσας] namely, these different judgments. Mark now relates the more special occasion of the utterance of Herod.

ὃνἸωάυνην] a familiar form of attraction. See Winer, p. 148 [E. T. 205].

ἘΓΏ] has the stress of an evil conscience. Mockery (Weizsäcker) is, in accordance with Mark 6:14 f., not to be thought of.

οὗτος] anaphorically with emphasis (Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 19): this is he.

αὐτός] the emphatic He, precisely he, for designation of the identity. Observe the urgent expression of certainty, which the terror-stricken man gives to his conception: This one it is: He is risen!

[97] The Recepta ὅτι προφ. ἐστίν, ἢ ὡς εἷς τῶν προφ. would have to be explained: he is a prophet, or (at least) like to one of the prophets.

Mark 6:14-16. Herod and Jesus (Matthew 14:1-2, Luke 9:7-9).

14–29. The Murder of John the Baptist

14. And king Herod heard of him] This first missionary journey of the Apostles was but short, and they would seem to “have returned to Capernaum as early as the evening of the second day,” Bp. Ellicott’s Gospel History, p. 196. This Herod was Herod Antipas, to whom, on the death of Herod the Great, had fallen the tetrarchy of Ituræa and Peræa. He is here called “king,” or “prince,” in the ancient and wide sense of the word. St Matt. (Mark 14:1), and St Luke (Luke 9:7), style him more exactly “the tetrarch.”

his name] It is peculiar to St Mark that he connects the watching observation of Herod Antipas with the work of Christ as extended by the preaching and miracles of His Apostles.

was risen from the dead] Herod’s guilty conscience triumphed over his Sadducean profession of belief that there is no resurrection. Comp. Matthew 16:6; Mark 8:15.

Mark 6:14. Φανερὸν, manifested [spread abroad]) Jesus had not come to be known by many before that John’s death became known, otherwise they would not have supposed Him to be John. This observation is to be marked in opposition to those who extend the length of the times after the baptism of John too much.—γὰρ, for) Except for the public rumour, Herod would not have known of Him. A palace is generally late in hearing of spiritual news.—ἔλεγεν, he said) The plural is given in Luke 9:7, and the circumstances of the case even in Mark require that number; for there are enumerated the opinions of men concerning Him, one of which in particular above the rest is indicated in fine in Mark 6:16, as having seemed probable to Herod. Therefore the parenthesis, if it be desirable to mark one before φανερὸν, ought to close, not at αὐτοῦ, but at προφητῶν, Mark 6:15, so that the ἤκουσεν of Mark 6:14 should be evidently resumed in the ἀκούσας of Mark 6:16. Nor should Mark thus be said to ascribe to Herod twice, although to others not even once, the opinion which Herod received from others, especially inasmuch as Herod was more in doubt than the others. Therefore either ἔλεγον,[47] they were saying, ought to be read; or else ἔλεγεν, he said, does not refer to Herod; but the participle [one] saying is to be supplied in an indefinite sense to that verb, as φησὶν, said one, is often used, viz. ὁ εἰπὼν, one saying [the sayer] being understood. See on Chrysost. de Sacerd., p. 477; Glass. Can. 23, de Verbo; and Hiller, Syntagm., p. 325.

[47] Tisch. reads ἔλεγεν with ACGLΔ Vulg. c. Lachm. ἔλεγον with B and D (ἐλέγοσαν) ab.—ED. and TRANSL.

The Germ. Vers. does not follow the observation of the Gnomon in this place, but the margin of both editions, preferring the reading ἔλεγεν.—E. B.

Verse 14. - This Herod is called by St. Matthew (Matthew 14:1) "the tetrarch;" and so also by St. Luke (Luke 9:7); though it should be noticed that St. Matthew, in the same context, at Ver. 9, calls him "king." The word "tetrarch" properly means the sovereign or ruler of the fourth part of a territory. He is known as Herod Anti-pus, son of Herod the Great, who had appointed him "tetrarch" of Galilee and Peraea. Herod Antipas had married the daughter of Arctas, King of Arabia, but deserted her for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. John the Baptist is risen from the dead; that is, "is risen in the person of Jesus Christ." St. Luke. (Luke 9:7) says that at first Herod was "much perplexed (διηπόρει)" "about him. At length, however, as he heard more and more of the fame of Christ's miracles, he came to the conclusion that our Lord was none other than John the Baptist risen again. Such is the opinion of St. Chrysostom, St. Augustine, and others. At that time the views of Pythagoras respecting the transmigration of souls were generally current, and probably influenced the troubled mind of Herod. He had put to death an innocent and holy man; and it is a high testimony to the worth of the Baptist that, under the reproaches of a guilty conscience, Herod should have come to the conclusion that he had risen from the dead, thus probably giving the lie to his own opinions as a Sadducee; and terrified lest the Baptist should now avenge his own murder. "What a great thing," exclaims St. Chrysostom," is virtue! for Herod fears him, even though dead." It should not be forgotten that this is the same Herod who set Jesus at nought and mocked him, when Pilate sent him to him, in the hope of relieving himself of the terrible responsibility of condemning one whom he knew to be innocent. Mark 6:14Was spread abroad

"But for the rumor, Herod would not have known of him. A palace is late in hearing spiritual news" (Bengel).

Mighty works do show forth themselves in him (ἐνεργοῦσιν αἱ δυνάμεις ἐν αὐτῷ)

Rev., these powers work in him. As Dr. Morison observes, "A snatch of Herod's theology and philosophy." He knew that John wrought no miracles when alive, but he thought that death had put him into connection with the unseen world, and enabled him to wield its powers.

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