Mark 7
Vincent's Word Studies
Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.
And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.
Defiled (κοιναῖς)

Lit., common; and so Rev. in margin, Wyc., and Tynd.

That is

Added by way of explanation to Gentile readers.

Oft (πυγμῇ)

Rev., diligently. A word which has given critics much difficulty, and on which it is impossible to speak decisively. The Rev. gives in the margin the simplest meaning, the literal one, with the fist; that is, rubbing the uncleansed hand with the other doubled. This would be satisfactory if there were any evidence that such was the custom in washing; but there is none. Edersheim ("Life and Times of Jesus," ii., 11, note) says "the custom is not in accordance with Jewish law." But he elsewhere says ("The Temple," 206, note), "For when water was poured upon the hands they had to be lifted, yet so that the water should neither run up above the wrist, nor back again upon the hand; best, therefore, by doubling the fingers into a fist. Hence (as Lightfoot rightly remarks) Mark 7:3, should be translated except they wash their hands with the fist." Tischendorf, in his eighth edition, retains an ancient reading, πυκνά, frequently or diligently, which may go to explain this translation in so many of the versions (Gothic, Vulgate, Syriac). Meyer, with his usual literalism gives with the fist, which I am inclined to adopt.

Holding (κρατοῦντες)

Strictly, holding firmly or fast. So Hebrews 4:14; Revelation 2:25; denoting obstinate adherence to tradition.

For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.
And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
Wash themselves (βαπτίσωνται)

Two of the most important manuscripts, however, read ῥαντίσωνται, sprinkled themselves. See Rev., in margin. This reading is adopted by Westcott and Herr. The American Revisers insist on bathe, instead of wash, already used as a translation of νίψωνται (Mark 7:3). The scope of this work does not admit of our going into the endless controversy to which this word has given rise. It will be sufficient to give the principal facts concerning its meaning and usage.

In classical Greek the primary meaning is to merse. Thus Polybius (i., 51, 6), describing a naval battle of the Romans and Carthaginians, says, "They sank (ἐβάπτιζον) many of the ships." Josephus ("Jewish War," 4., 3, 3), says of the crowds which flocked into Jerusalem at the time of the siege, "They overwhelmed (ἐβάπτισαν) the city." In a metaphorical sense Plato uses it of drunkenness: drowned in drink (βεβαπτισμένοι, "Symposium," 176); of a youth overwhelmed (βαπτιζόμενον) with the argument of his adversary ("Euthydemus," 277).

In the Septuagint the verb occurs four times: Isaiah 21:4, Terror hath frighted me. Septuagint, Iniquity baptizes me (βπτίζε); 2 Kings 5:15, of Naaman's dipping himself in Jordan (ἐβαπτίσατο); Judith 12:7, Judith washing herself (ἐβαπτίζετο) at the fountain; Sirach 31:25, being baptized (βαπτιζόμενος) from a dead body.

The New Testament use of the word to denote submersion for a religious purpose, may be traced back to the Levitical washings. See Leviticus 11:32 (of vessels); Leviticus 11:40 (of clothes); Numbers 8:6, Numbers 8:7 (sprinkling with purifying water); Exodus 30:19, Exodus 30:21 (of washing hands and feet). The word appears to have been at that time the technical term for such washings (compare Luke 11:38; Hebrews 9:10; Mark 7:4), and could not therefore have been limited to the meaning immerse. Thus the washing of pots and vessels for ceremonial purification could not have been by plunging them in water, which would have rendered impure the whole body of purifying water. The word may be taken in the sense of washing or sprinkling.

"The Teaching of the Apostles" (see on Matthew 10:10) throws light on the elastic interpretation of the term, in its directions for baptism. "Baptize - in living (i.e., running) water. But if thou hast not living water, baptize in other water; and if thou canst not in cold, then in warm. But if thou hast neither, pour water upon the head thrice into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Chap. VII.).

Pots (ξεστῶν)

Another of Mark's Latin words, adapted from the Latin sextarius, a pint measure. Wyc., cruets. Tynd., cruses.

Brazen vessels (χαλκίων)

More literally, copper.

Tables (κλινῶν)

Omitted in some of the best manuscripts and texts, and by Rev. The A. V. is a mistranslation, the word meaning couches. If this belongs in the text, we certainly cannot explain βαπτισμοὺς as immersion.

Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?
He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
Well (καλῶς)

Finely, beautifully. Ironical.

Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:

Wyc. has worship. Compare his rendering of Matthew 6:2, "That they be worshipped of men ;" Matthew 13:57, "A prophet is not without worship but in his own country;" and especially John 12:26, "If any man serve me, my Father shall worship him."

Die the death (θανάτῳ τελευτάτω)

Lit., come to an end by death. See on Matthew 15:4.

But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.

Mark only gives the original word, and then translates. See on Matthew 15:5.

And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
Making of none effect

Rev., making void. See on Matthew 15:6.

Ye handed down

Note the past tense, identifying them for the moment with their forefathers. Compare Matthew 23:35, Ye slew. Christ views the Jewish persecutors and bigots, ancient and modern, as a whole, actuated by one spirit, and ascribes to one section what was done by another.

And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:
There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.
The disciples

Matthew says Peter. There is no discrepancy. Peter spoke for the band.

And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;

So unintelligent as not to understand what I uttered to the crowd.

Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?
Draught (ἀφεδρῶνα)

Liddell and Scott give only one definition - a privy, cloaca; and derive from ἕδρα, seat, breech, fundament. Compare English stool. The word does not refer to a part of the body.

Purging all meats (καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα)

According to the A. V. these words are in apposition with draught: the draught which makes pure the whole of the food, since it is the place designed for receiving the impure excrements.

Christ was enforcing the truth that all defilement comes from within. This was in the face of the Rabbinic distinctions between clean and unclean meats. Christ asserts that Levitical uncleanness, such as eating with unwashed hands, is of small importance compared with moral uncleanness. Peter, still under the influence of the old ideas, cannot understand the saying and asks an explanation (Matthew 15:15), which Christ gives in Mark 7:18-23. The words purging all meats (Rev., making all meats clean) are not Christ's, but the Evangelist's, explaining the bearing of Christ's words; and therefore the Rev. properly renders, this he said (italics), making all meats clean. This was the interpretation of Chrysostom, who says in his homily on Matthew: "But Mark says that he said these things making all meats pure." Canon Farrar refers to a passage cited from Gregory Thaumaturgus: "And the Saviour, who purifies all meats, says." This rendering is significant in the light of Peter's vision of the great sheet, and of the words, "What God hath cleansed" (ἐκαθάρισε), in which Peter probably realized for the first time the import of the Lord's words on this occasion. Canon Farrar remarks: "It is doubtless due to the fact that St. Peter, the informant of St. Mark, in writing his Gospel, and as the sole ultimate authority for this vision in the Acts, is the source of both narratives, - that we owe the hitherto unnoticed circumstance that the two verbs, cleanse and profane (or defile), both in a peculiarly pregnant sense, are the two most prominent words in the narrative of both events" ("Life and Work of Paul," i., 276-7).

And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
Evil Thoughts (διαλογισμοὶ οἱ κακοὶ)

Thoughts, those which are evil So Rev., in margin. Thoughts that are evil. The word διαλογισμοὶ, thoughts, does not in itself convey a bad sense; and hence the addition of adjectives denoting evil, as here and James 2:4. Radically, it carries the idea of discussion or debate, with an under-thought of suspicion or doubt, either with one's own mind, as Luke 5:22; Luke 6:8; or with another, Luke 9:46; Philippians 2:14; Romans 14:1.

Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
Wickedness (πονμρίαι)

Plural. Rev., wickedness. From πονεῖν, to toil. The adjective πονμρός means, first, oppressed by toils; then in bad case or plight, from which it runs into the sense of morally bad. This conception seems to have been associated by the high-born with the life of the lower, laboring, slavish class; just as our word knave (like the German knabe from which it is derived) originally meant simply a boy or a servant-lad. As πόνος means hard, vigorous labor, battle for instance, so the adjective πονμρός, in a moral sense, indicates active wickedness. So Jeremy Taylor: "Aptness to do shrewd turns, to delight in mischiefs and tragedies; a loving to trouble one's neighbor and do him ill offices." Πονμρός, therefore, is dangerous, destructive. Satan is called ὁ πονηρός, the wicked one. Κακός, evil (see evil thoughts, Mark 7:21), characterizes evil rather as defect: "That which is not such as, according to its nature, destination, and idea it might be or ought to be" (Cremer). Hence of incapacity in war; of cowardice (κακία). κακὸς δοῦλος, the evil servant, in Matthew 24:48, is a servant wanting in proper fidelity and diligence. Thus the thoughts are styled evil, as being that which, in their nature and purpose, they ought not to be. Matthew, however (Matthew 15:19), calls these thoughts πονηροί, the thoughts in action, taking shape in purpose. Both adjectives occur in Revelation 16:2.

Lasciviousness (ἀσέλγεια)

Derivation unknown. It includes lasciviousness, and may well mean that here; but is often used without this notion. In classical Greek it is defined as violence, with spiteful treatment and audacity. As in this passage its exact meaning is not implied by its being classed with other kindred terms, it would seem better to take it in as wide a sense as possible - that of lawless insolence and wanton caprice, and to render, with Trench, wantonness, since that word, as he remarks, "stands in remarkable ethical connection with ἀσέλγεια, and has the same duplicity of meaning" ("Synonyms of the New Testament"). At Romans 13:13, where lasciviousness seems to be the probable meaning, from its association with chambering (οίταις), it is rendered wantonness in A. V. and Rev., as also at 2 Peter 2:18.

Evil eye (ὀφθαλμὸς πονηρὸς)

A malicious, mischief-working eye, with the meaning of positive, injurious, activity. See (above) on wickednesses.

Blasphemy (βλασφημία)

The word does not necessarily imply blasphemy against God. It is used of reviling, calumny, evil-speaking in general. See Matthew 27:39; Romans 3:8; Romans 14:16; 1 Peter 4:4, etc. Hence Rev. renders railing.

Pride (ὑπερηφανία)

From ὑπέρ, above, and φαίνεσθαι, to show one's self. The picture in the word is that of a man with his head held high above others. It is the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man. Compare Proverbs 16:5; Romans 12:16 (mind not high things); 1 Timothy 3:6.

All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid.
Went away

See on Mark 6:31. The entering into the house and the wish to be secluded are peculiar to Mark.

For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:
Daughter (θυγάτριον)

Diminutive. Rev., little daughter. See on Mark 5:23.

The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.

Phoenician of Syria, as distinguished from a Libyo-Phoenician of North Africa, Libya being often used for Africa.

But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.
Let the children first be filled

Peculiar to Mark.

The dogs

Diminutive. See on Matthew 15:26.

And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs.
Mark adds under the table.

The children's crumbs

See on Matthew 15:26. This would indicate that the little dogs were pet dogs of the children, their masters.

And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.
Peculiar to Mark.

Laid (βεβλημένον)

Lit., thrown. She had probably experienced some fearful convulsion when the demon departed. Compare Mark 9:22, of the demon which possessed the boy: "It hath cast him, etc. (ἔβαλεν)." See also Mark 1:26; Mark 9:26.

And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.
And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis.
And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.
Deaf (κωφὸν). See on Matthew 9:32.

Had an impediment in his speech (μογιλάλον)

Μόγις, with difficulty ; λάλος, speaking. Not absolutely dumb. Compare he spake plain, Mark 7:35.

And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue;
Put (ἔβαλεν)

Lit., threw: thrust.

And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.
And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.
Plain (ὀρθῶς)

Lit., rightly. So Wyc.

And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it;
Charged (διεστείλατο)

The verb means, first, to separate; then to define or distinguish; and as that which is separated and distinguished is emphasized, to command or straitly charge.

And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

See on Matthew 7:28.

To speak (λαλεῖν)

See on Matthew 28:18. The emphasis is not on the matter, but on the fact of speech.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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