Mark 9:38
And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name, and he follows not us: and we forbade him, because he follows not us.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(38) And John answered him.—The incident that follows, omitted by St. Matthew, is recorded by St. Luke in the same connection. It indicates something of the same zeal as that which desired that fire might come from heaven to consume the Samaritans who refused to receive our Lord (Luke 9:52). The words were so far an “answer” to what our Lord had said, that they were suggested by it. The disciple desired to show, as in self-vindication, that he not only “received” his Master, but that he was unwilling to “receive” any who did not openly follow Him as a disciple. The fact of which he speaks is significant historically as indicating that one of the effects of our Lord’s work had been to stir up and quicken the spiritual powers of men outside the range of the company of disciples that gathered round Him. They believed in Him, or they would not have used His Name. They were fellow-workers with Him, for they were seeking to rescue the souls of men from frenzy and despair. Their faith was effective, for, as the narrative implies, they not only claimed the power to cast out demons, but did cast them out. The case stood, it is obvious, on an entirely different footing from that of the sons of Sceva, in Acts 19:13-14, which at first sight seems to resemble it.

Mark 9:38-40. And John answered him — As if he had said, But ought we to receive those who follow not us? Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name — Probably this was one of John the Baptist’s disciples, who believed in Jesus, though he did not yet associate with our Lord’s disciples. And we forbade him, because he followeth not us — How often is the same temper found in us! How readily do we also lust to envy! But how ill does that spirit become a disciple, much more a minister, of the benevolent Jesus! St. Paul had learned a better temper, when he rejoiced that Christ was preached, even by those who were his personal enemies. But to confine religion to them that follow us, is a narrowness of spirit which we should avoid and abhor. Jesus said, &c. — Christ here gives us a lovely example of candour and moderation. He was willing to put the best construction on doubtful cases, and to treat as friends those who were not avowed enemies. Perhaps in this instance it was a means of conquering the remainder of prejudice, and perfecting what was wanting in the faith and obedience of these persons. Forbid him not — Neither directly nor indirectly discourage or hinder any man, who brings sinners from the power of Satan to God, because he followeth not us, in opinions, modes of worship, or any thing else which does not affect the essence of religion. For he that is not against us, is for us — Our Lord had formerly said, He that is not with me, is against me: thereby admonishing his hearers that the war between him and Satan admitted of no neutrality, and that those who were indifferent to him now, would finally be treated as enemies. But here, in another view, he uses a very different proverb; directing his followers to judge of men’s characters in the most candid manner; and charitably to hope, that those who did not oppose his cause wished well to it. Upon the whole, we are to be rigorous in judging ourselves, and candid in judging each other.9:30-40 The time of Christ's suffering drew nigh. Had he been delivered into the hands of devils, and they had done this, it had not been so strange; but that men should thus shamefully treat the Son of man, who came to redeem and save them, is wonderful. Still observe that when Christ spake of his death, he always spake of his resurrection, which took the reproach of it from himself, and should have taken the grief of it from his disciples. Many remain ignorant because they are ashamed to inquire. Alas! that while the Saviour teaches so plainly the things which belong to his love and grace, men are so blinded that they understand not his sayings. We shall be called to account about our discourses, and to account for our disputes, especially about being greater than others. Those who are most humble and self-denying, most resemble Christ, and shall be most tenderly owned by him. This Jesus taught them by a sign; whoever shall receive one like this child, receives me. Many have been like the disciples, ready to silence men who have success in preaching to sinners repentance in Christ's name, because they follow not with them. Our Lord blamed the apostles, reminding them that he who wrought miracles in his name would not be likely to hurt his cause. If sinners are brought to repent, to believe in the Saviour, and to live sober, righteous, and godly lives, we then see that the Lord works by the preacher.We saw one ... - There is no improbability in supposing that this might have been one of the disciples of John, or one of the seventy whom Jesus had sent out, and who, though he did not "personally" attend on Jesus, yet had the power of working miracles. There is no evidence that he was merely an "exorcist," or that he used the name of Jesus merely as a pretence. 38. And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbade him, because he followeth not us—The link of connection here with the foregoing context lies, we apprehend, in the emphatic words which our Lord had just uttered, "in My name." "Oh," interposes John—young, warm, but not sufficiently apprehending Christ's teaching in these matters—"that reminds me of something that we have just done, and we should like to know if we did right. We saw one casting out devils "in Thy name," and we forbade him, because he followeth not us. Were we right, or were we wrong?" Answer—"Ye were wrong." "But we did it because he followeth not us." "No matter."Ver. 38-40. Here a question arises worthy of our discussion a little: Seeing these miraculous operations were performed by a Divine power, and for such an end as the confirmation of Christ’s Divine power, how could any one cast out devils in the name of Christ, and yet not follow him and his disciples?

1. It is apparent that this person was no enemy to Christ or his gospel, by what our Saviour saith, both in Mark 9:39 and in Mark 9:40.

2. It is evident that the casting out of devils was no saving effect of the Holy Spirit. Christ saith, Matthew 7:22, that some should say, In thy name have we cast out devils, to whom in the day of judgment he would say, Depart from me, I know you not, ye that work iniquity.

3. It is plain that this man was no such person as Sceva’s sons, of whom we read Acts 19:14-16, for the devils resisted them, though they also used the name of Christ.

It was a time exceedingly famous for some of the more extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, and it is not to be wondered if some in this time, for the glory of God, received some crumbs of that plentiful benevolence, though they were but imperfect disciples, yet being no enemies. Caiaphas prophesied, John 11:51,52; and though I do think that the children of the Pharisees, mentioned, Matthew 12:27, as persons that cast out devils, is best interpreted of those sent out by Christ, (the twelve and the seventy), yet some are of another mind. Some think this man, though he did not follow Christ and his disciples as a constant companion, yet was one who favoured and had received the gospel; or else one of John’s disciples, and so one who, though he was not formally joined with the followers of Christ, yet was a friend of that great Bridegroom. So as John and the rest, forbidding him, seemed to be guilty of two no small errors:

1. Envying for Christ’s sake, as Joshua did for Moses’s sake, Numbers 11:28, as John’s disciples did for their master’s sake, John 3:26, willing that Christ, and those whom he sent out, should have all the honour of those miraculous operations.

2. Limiting the grace of Christ to that congregation which followed Christ, and the twelve; a thing that good men are too prone unto.

How much better was the spirit of Paul, who tells us, Philippians 1:15,18, that although some preached Christ of envy and strife, yet he rejoiced, and would rejoice, that Christ was preached, whether in pretence, or in truth. Christ would have all his people of such a spirit, as not to hinder, but commend, not to envy, but to rejoice in the doing of good by any, whether they did follow him or did not. Some think that at that time it pleased God, that, for the honour of his Son Jesus Christ, he did concur with those that named his name in such miraculous operations. Sure we are that Christ reproveth John, and commandeth them not to forbid this man, giving this for a reason, That his owning the name of Christ, so far as to use it in such an operation, had at least so much kindness for him as he was no enemy, he would not curse him, nor speak evil of him; which cometh up to that of the apostle, 1 Corinthians 12:3,

No man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed; and no man can say Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. For he that is not against us is on our part: if a man be not an open enemy to Christ, he ought to be presumed to be his friend, at least so far as not to be discouraged in doing a good work. And John answered him, saying,.... Taking notice of what Christ just now said, and observing how well pleasing it was to him, to receive in a meek and humble manner, the least believer in his name; and reflecting upon an action, in which he and some of his fellow disciples were concerned, and which he perceived was not so agreeable to this rule of Christ, thought proper to relate it to him; that he might have his sense of it, and give him an opportunity of enlarging on a subject, so suitable to the temper and disposition of this beloved disciple.

Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name: very likely he called him Rabbi, as the Syriac version renders it, or Rabboni, as in John 20:16, a title commonly given to Christ, both by his disciples and others: the case related, very probably happened, when the disciples being sent forth by Christ to preach the Gospel and cast out devils, took a tour through Judea and Galilee, where they saw this man. John was not alone; there were others with him, at least another, who was an eyewitness with him; for the apostles were sent out, by two and two: who this man was, is not said, his name is not mentioned, perhaps was unknown to the apostles; though Beza says, in one ancient exemplar it is read, "we knew one". This person not only attempted to cast out devils, but really did; and that more than one; but in which of Christ's names he did it, is not expressed; if in the name of the Messiah, Dr. Lightfoot's conjecture may be right, that he was one of John's disciples; who had been baptized in the name of the Messiah, that was just expected to come; to whom, as to others of his disciples, was given a power of casting out devils, to make the way of the Messiah more plain; wherefore the reason why he did not cast out devils in the name of Jesus, but in the name of the Messiah, and did not follow him, nor his disciples, was not out of contempt, but ignorance, not knowing that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah: or if he cast out devils in the name of Jesus, which seems most likely, he might be, as others think, a disciple of John's, who really did believe in Jesus, though he did not associate with, his disciples, but continued with the disciples of John: wherefore it is said,

and he followeth not us; was neither one of the twelve apostles; nor one of the seventy disciples; nor even one of the lower class of the professed disciples of Jesus. This clause is omitted in the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions:

and we forbad him; going on in this way, casting out any more devils:

because he followeth, not us; was not one of their company, nor any of Christ's disciples; who had received no authority and commission from Christ, to do what he did: wherefore they feared, that by such an irregular way of proceeding, the dignity of Christ would be lessened, and some dishonour and reproach reflected on him: and besides the honour of Christ, they might consult their own; and their case be too much like that of Joshua, when Eldad and Medad prophesied in the camp. This clause is left out in the Vulgate Latin, but stands in all the eastern versions.

{9} And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

(9) God, who normally works through ordinary means, works also extraordinarily as often as it pleases him. But an extraordinary means is tested by the doctrine and the effects.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Mark 9:38-40. Comp. Luke 9:49-50 (not in Matthew). The connection of thought lies in ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόμ. μουτῷ ὀνόμ. σου; the disciples had done the opposite of the δέχεσθαι in the case of one, who had uttered the name of Jesus. Comp. Schleiermacher, Luk. p. 153 f.; Fritzsche, Olshausen, Ebrard, p. 447 f. So John came to his question. Bengel well says: “dubitationem hanc videtur in pectore aliquamdiu gessisse, dum opportune earn promeret.” But Strauss, I. p. 642, and de Wette (comp. also Bleek), attribute this connection of thought merely to the reporter (Luke, whom Mark follows), who, on the ground of the ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόμ. μου, has inserted just here the traditional fragment. This is improbable; such casual annexations are more natural in real living dialogue, and the reflection of the reporter would have found more appropriate places for their insertion, such as after Mark 6:30.

τῷ ὀνόμ. σου.] by means of Thy name, by the utterance of it. Comp. Matthew 7:22; Acts 3:6; Acts 19:13. The exorcist in our passage was not an impostor, but a believer; yet not one belonging to the constant followers of Jesus, although his faith was not perhaps merely elementary, but, on the contrary, even capable of miracles. What he had done appeared to the disciples as a privilege still reserved for the narrower circle, and as an usurpation outside of it.

ὃς οὐκ ἀκολ. ἡμῖν, and then again ὅτι οὐκ ἀκολ. ἡμῖν] John brings this point very urgently forward as the motive of the disciples’ procedure (it is no “intolerabilis loquacitas,” of which Fritzsche accuses the textus receptus).

ἐκωλύομεν (see the critical remarks): the imperfect, following the aorist, makes us dwell on the main point of the narrative. See Kühner, II. p. 74.

Mark 9:39 f. Application: Of such a man, who, even without belonging to our circle, has nevertheless attained to such an energetic faith in me as to do a miracle on the basis of my name, there is no reason to apprehend any speedy change into reviling enmity against me. His experience will retain him for us, even although he has not come to his authorization, as ye have, in the way of immediate fellowship with me. It is obvious, moreover, from this passage how powerfully the word and work of Jesus had awakened in individuals even beyond the circle of His constant followers a higher power, which even performed miracles; thus sparks, from which flamed forth the power of a higher life, had fallen and kindled beyond the circle of disciples, and Jesus desires to see the results unchecked. Some have found in this man who followed not with the company of the Twelve the Pauline Christians, whom Mark makes to be judged of by Jesus only with more tenderness and tolerance than at Matthew 7:21 f. (Hilgenfeld, Evang. p. 140[127]); this is more than exaggerated ingenuity; it is the invention of a criticism, the results of which are its own presuppositions.

The construction is regular, and δυνήσεται designates the ethical possibility.

ταχύ] soon (Matthew 5:25, al.; Sir 6:18; Sir 48:20; Plato, Conv. p. 184 A; Tim. p. 73 A; Xen. Cyr. 1:1. 1), not: lightly, which might be signified by τάχα, Romans 5:7; Philemon 1:15.

[127] See also his Zeitschr. 1864, p. 317 f., where likewise quite untenable grounds are adduced for the above opinion. In the answer of Jesus, Eichthal sees even a specimen of good but not moral tactics, and holds that the narrative is an interpolation.Mark 9:38-41. A reminiscence (Luke 9:49-50). Probably an incident of the Galilean mission, introduced without connecting particle, therefore (Weiss) connection purely topical; suggested (Holtz., H. C.) to the evangelist by the expression ἐπὶ τ. ὀνόματί μου in Mark 9:37, answering to ἐν τ. . σ. in Mark 9:38.—ἐκβάλλοντα δ.: exorcists usually conjured with some name, Abraham, Solomon; this one used the name of Jesus, implying some measure of faith in His worth and power.—ἐκωλύομεν, imperfect, taken by most as implying repeated interdicts, but it may be the conative imperfect = we tried to prevent him.—οὐκ ἠκολούθει, he did not follow us; the reason for the prohibition. The aloofness of the exorcist is represented as still continuing in the words ὃς οὐκ ἀκολουθεῖ (T. R.).38–41. The Question of John

38. And John answered him] The words in My name of Mark 9:37 seem to have reminded the Apostle of an incident in their recent journey.

because he followeth not us] Observe what the Apostle affirms to have been the ground of their rebuke, “because he followeth not us,” not “because he followeth not Thee.” It is the utterance of excited party feeling. “We gather from this passage,” observes Meyer, “how mightily the words and influence of Christ had wrought outside the sphere of His permanent dependants, exciting in individuals a degree of spiritual energy that performed miracles on others.”Mark 9:38. Ἀπεκρίθη, answered) The connection of the words of John with the preceding words of Jesus is manifold. The power of the name of Christ is asserted in the words of both, Mark 9:37-38; Mark 9:41. The disciples had previously discussed with one another, which among them should be the greater: now they are made to perceive, by the teaching of our Lord’s words, that they are not even to despise others. If Christ, and faith in Him, has place in little children [of whom not even the one, of whom mention is made in Mark 9:36, was following Jesus.—V. g.], it might also have place in that person, whom they had forbidden. Hence there is manifested the moderation of John and his candour: he seems to have carried this doubt for some time in his breast, until he could, at a suitable opportunity, bring it forward.—ἡμῖνἡμῖν, us) The apostles, in subordination to Thee.Verse 38. - This verse, according to the best authorities, should begin simply, John said unto him - although in St. Luke (Luke 9:49) they stand, "And John answered and said" - Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name: and we forbade him, because he followed not us. The casting out of evil spirits was one of the foremost signs of apostleship; and what surprised St. John was that one who followed not Christ should have been able to work this miracle - a miracle in which, it will be remembered, the disciples had recently failed. It thus appears that our Lord's teaching had been so influential, that some, not reckoned amongst his disciples, had shown this proof of a strong and overpowering faith. We know that there were those in our Savior's time, of Jewish race, who cast out devils (Matthew 12:27). And Justin Martyr, in his 'Dialogue with Trypho the Jew,' states that while exorcism, as practiced by the Jews, often failed when it was attempted to be exercised "by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," was eminently successful when administered "by the name of the Son of God, who was born of a virgin and crucified under Pontius Pilate" (c. 85). That spirit has power over spirit in many mysterious ways is one of those truths which science has not yet been able to explain (see Dr. Morison on St. Mark, in loc.). To return, however, to the instance here alluded to by St. John, it should be observed that they who acted thus had faith in Christ; and that by thus acting with him and for him, though not amongst his recognized followers, they contributed towards his honor who, by means of these imperfect instruments, carried out the great purpose of his manifestation, namely," to destroy the works of the devil." Then further, the disciples forbade them not out of envy or hatred, but out of zeal for Christ, as though they were thus serving his cause and upholding his honor. But this was" a zeal, not according to knowledge." They had forbidden them, without having first taken counsel of their Master. In thy name

John's conscience is awakened by the Lord's words. They had not received the man who east out devils in Christ's name.

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