Mark 6:27
And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(27) An executioner.—St. Mark uses a Latin word, speculator, a word which, originally meaning “watchman” or “sentinel,” had come to be applied by Latin writers of the time specifically to soldiers employed, as in this instance, as couriers or messengers (Suet. Caligula, c. 44; Tacit. Hist. xi. 73).

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.For Herod feared John - That is, he stood in awe of him on account of his sanctity, and his boldness and fearlessness in reproving sin.

Knowing that he was a just man and an Holy - A holy, pious, upright, honest man - a man who would not be afraid of him, or afraid to speak his real sentiments.

And observed him - Margin, "kept him, or saved him." This does not mean that he "observed" or obeyed his teachings, but that he kept him in safe custody in order to preserve him from the machinations of Herodias. He was willing to show his respect for John, and to secure him from danger, and even to do "many things" which might indicate respect for him - at least, to do so much as to guard him from his enemies.

And did many things - But he did not do the thing which was demanded of him - to break off from his sins. He attempted to make a compromise with his conscience. He still loved his sins, and did "other" things which he supposed might be accepted in the place of putting away, as he ought, the wife of his brother - the polluted and adulterous woman with whom he lived. Perhaps he treated John kindly, or spoke well of him, or aided him in his wants, and attempted in this way to silence his rebukes and destroy his faithfulness. This was probably before John was imprisoned. So sinners often treat ministers kindly, and do much to make them comfortable, and hear them gladly, while they are still unwilling to do the thing which is demanded of them - to repent and believe the gospel. They expect that their kind attentions will be accepted in the place of what God demands - repentance and the forsaking of their sins.

27. And immediately the king sent an executioner—one of the guards in attendance. The word is Roman, denoting one of the Imperial Guard.

and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison—after, it would seem, more than twelve months' imprisonment. Blessed martyr! Dark and cheerless was the end reserved for thee: but now thou hast thy Master's benediction, "Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me" (Mt 11:6), and hast found the life thou gavest away (Mt 10:39). But where are they in whose skirts is found thy blood?

See Poole on "Mark 6:14" And immediately the king sent an executioner,.... See Gill on Matthew 14:10.

and commanded his head to be brought; ordered him to cut off his head in prison, and bring it away forthwith in a charger to him:

and he went and beheaded him in the prison; according to his orders.

And immediately the king sent an {q} executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison,

(q) The word signifies one that bears a short lance, and the king's guard was so called because they bore short lances.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Mark 6:27. σπεκουλάτορα = speculator in Latin, literally a watcher, a military official of the empire who acted partly as courier, partly as a police officer, partly as an executioner; illustrative citations in Wetstein. The word found its way into the Jewish language (here only).27. an executioner] Literally, a soldier of the guard. The word Speculator denotes (1) a looker-out, spy, scout; (2) a special adjutant, soldier of the guard. These scouts formed a special division in each legion; but under the emperors a body bearing this name was specially appointed to guard the emperor and execute his commands (Tac. Hist. i. 24, 25; II. 11; Suet. Claud. xxxv.). Hence they were often employed as special messengers in seeking out those who were proscribed or sentenced to death (Seneca, de Ira i. 16). In the earlier English Versions the word is rendered “hangman,” but this term describes a mere accident of his office. The use of a military term, compared with Luke 3:14, is in accordance with the fact that Herod was at this time making war on Aretas (Jos. Antiq. xviii. 5. 1).Mark 6:27. Σπεκουλάτωρα, an executioner) This word is derived from “specula,” a look-out, a watch-tower. The Speculators executed capital punishments: Sen. l. 1, de ira, c. 16.Verse 27. - He sent forth an executioner (σπεκουλάτωρα); literally, a soldier of his guard; one of his body-guard, in constant attendance as messenger or executioner. It is a Roman word from speculari, to watch. St. Jerome relates that when the head of the Baptist was brought, Herodias barbarously thrust the tongue through with a bodkin, as Fulvia is said to have done over and over again, the tongue of Cicero; thus verifying what Cicero had once said while living, that "nothing is more revengeful than a woman." Because they could not bear to hear the truth, therefore they bored through with a bodkin the tongue that had spoken the truth. Mark's favorite straightway. The king is prompt in his response.

Executioner (σπεκουλάτορα)

One of Mark's Latin words, speculator. A speculator was a guardsman, whose business it was to watch or spy out (speculari). It came gradually to denote one of the armed body-guard of the Roman emperor. Thus Suetonius says of Claudius that he did not dare to attend banquets unless his speculatores with their lances surrounded him. Seneca uses the word in the sense of executioner. "He met the executioners (speculatoribus), declared that he had nothing to say against the execution of the sentence, and then stretched out his neck." Herod imitated the manners of the Roman court, and was attended by a company of speculatores, though it was not their distinctive office to act as executioners. Wyc. renders man-killer, and Tynd. hangman.

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