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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Mark 8



Verse 1

1. Ἐν ἐκείναις τ. ἡμ. During the concluding part of the journey mentioned in Mark 7:31. The asyndeton is rare in cf. Mark 10:28. Here [1823] Syr-Sin. and Lat-Vet. insert δέ, while in Mark 10:28 [1824] Latt. Syrr. insert καί.

πάλιν πολλοῦ ὄχλου. See crit. note. The people of Decapolis had heard of His fame (Mark 5:19; Matthew 4:25) and both Jews and Gentiles would flock to Him when they heard that He was healing in the neighbourhood.

μὴ ἐχόντων. For μή cf. Mark 2:4, Mark 6:34, Mark 12:21; Mark 12:24.

προσκαλεσάμενος. Here, as in Jn’s account of the 5000, our Lord takes the initiative.

Verses 1-9


Matthew 15:32-39

Verse 2

2. Σπλαγχνίζομαι. Nowhere else does Christ say that He feels compassion, although this is often said of Him; Mark 1:41, Mark 6:34, Mark 9:22. He is continuing His training of the Twelve. He tells them His own feelings and points out the need of help. What do they suggest?

ἡμέραι τρεῖς. See crit. note. We can make ἡμέραι τρεῖς grammatical by taking προσμένουσιν and ἔχουσιν as datives with εἰσίν understood. More probably ἡμέραι τρεῖς is a parenthetic nominative, as in Luke 9:28; cf. Acts 5:7; also ἤδη αἱ ἡμέραι ἐρχόμεναι τὰ πάντα ἐπελήσθη (Ecclesiastes 2:16). In such cases the insertion of “and” smooths the construction; “There are now three days and they are attending Me and have nothing to eat.” In Joshua 1:11 the καί is inserted; ἔτι τρεῖς ἡμέραι καὶ ὑμεῖς διαβαίνετε τὸν Ἰορδάνην τοῦτον. J. H. Moulton, p. 70. Mt., who sometimes improves the awkward constructions in Mk, leaves this unchanged, as if it had no need of correction. [1825] has ἡμέραι τρεῖς εἰσιν ἀπὸ πότε ὧδέ εἰσιν, triduum est ex quo hic sunt; so also a b i.

προσμένουσίν μοι. Cf. προσμένειν τῇ χάριτι τοῦ θεοῦ (Acts 13:43); οἱ πιστοὶ ἐν ἀγάπῃ προσμενοῦσιν αὐτῷ (Wisdom of Solomon 3:9). [1826][1827] omit μοι: cf. Acts 18:18. “Three days” would mean that “they have been with Me since the day before yesterday,” a much longer time than in the case of the 5000, which was hardly a whole day.

τί φάγωσιν. Cf. Mark 6:35 and Luke 17:8.

Verse 3

3. ἐὰν ἀπολύσω αὐτούς. This looks like a reference to the suggestion made by the disciples in the former case (Mark 6:36). Have they anything better to suggest now?

νήστεις. In class. Grk νήστιδες (Aesch. Ag. 194, 1622) or νήστιες (Hom. Od. xvii. 370): cf. ἔρεις (? Titus 3:9) for ἔριδες: νήστις ([1828][1829]) is simply bad spelling. Blass, § 8. 3.

εἰς οἶκον αὐτῶν. Cf. Mark 8:26; the omission of the art. is Hebraistic. Blass, § 46. 9.

ἐκλυθήσονται. Deficient (Vulg.). In Galatians 6:9 and Hebrews 12:3; Hebrews 12:5 (from Proverbs 3:11) the verb is used of faintness of spirit; in LXX. of bodily faintness (1 Samuel 14:28; 2 Samuel 16:2; 2 Samuel 17:2; etc.). See crit. notes.

Verse 4

4. ὅτι Πόθεν. The ὅτι is recitative; see crit. note. Syr-Sin. has “Whence art Thou able?” The disciples’ question is urged as an argument for regarding this miracle as a doublet of Mark 6:34-44. Could the disciples, who had seen how the 5000 were fed, have made such a reply? They would have said, “Thou canst feed them.” Their question diffidently suggests this; they confess their own powerlessness and leave the solution to Him. Note the emphatic ἡμῖν in Mt. “How can we have enough food?” Moreover, Christ does not rebuke them. They were still dull of apprehension (Mark 8:16), and were sometimes afraid to ask questions (Mark 9:32).

Χορτάσαι ἄρτων. Cf. τοὺς πτωχοὺς αὐτῆς χορτάσω ἄρτων (Psalms 132:15). The gen. after verbs of filling is freq. (Mark 15:36). Blass, § 36. 4.

ἐρημίας. Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:26; Hebrews 11:38. The more usual term is ἡ ἔρημος or ἔρημος τόπος.

Verse 5

5. ἠρώτα. The imperf. is probably conversational; Mt. has λέγει. See notes on Mark 6:38 f. The first aor. εἶπα is freq. in class. Grk.

Verse 6

6. παραγγέλλει. See crit. note. Mk twice keeps the fishes distinct from the bread where Mt. combines them; moreover, Mk has εὐχαριστήσας of the bread and εὐλογήσας of the fishes, perhaps without difference of meaning, but marking the blessing and distribution of the bread as the main thing.

Verse 7

7. εἶχαν. So [1830][1831][1832][1833]. Cf. Revelation 9:8 and 2 John 1:5; also παρεῖχαν, Acts 28:2.

ἰχθύδια. Like κυνάρια (Mark 7:27-28), this diminutive has its proper force; small fishes.

Verse 8

8. περισσεύματα. As in the former miracle, there was enough and to spare, and what was over was carefully gathered up.

ἑπτὰ σφυρίδας. The twelve κόφινοι corresponded with the twelve disciples, each having one. It is mere coincidence that the σφυρίδες are the same in number as the ἄρτοι. Σφυρίς (Mark 8:20; Matthew 15:37; Matthew 16:10; Acts 9:25) is well attested as the N.T. form of σπυρίς, and the aspirate is vernacular. Both forms, with σφυρίδιον and σπυρίδιον, are found in papyri. Deissmann, Bib. St. pp. 158, 185. A σπυρίς (σπεῖρα) was probably woven of twigs or rushes, and might hold a man (Acts 9:25). The marked difference of the words for “baskets” in the narratives of the two miracles, and also in the allusions to them afterwards (Mark 8:19-20; Matthew 16:9-10), is one of the strongest arguments against the identification of the two. And here there is no excitement after the miracle; Jesus does not force the disciples to go away without Him, but they leave quietly together. Yet the possibility that we are dealing with doublets must be admitted. All that is certain is that Mk believed in two miraculous feedings. The silence of Lk. proves nothing; he makes no use of this portion of Mk. See the Westminster Comm. on Mt. Mt., as often, emphasizes the magnitude of the miracle; but he does not report that the multitude (in which many were heathen) saw in Jesus the Messianic King.

Verse 9

9. [1631][1632][1633][1634] omit οἱ φαγόντες.

Verse 10

10. εἰς τὸ πλοῖον. Into the boat which He often used (Mark 3:9, Mark 4:36, Mark 6:32). Syr-Sin. has “He went up and sat in the ship”; and again in Mark 8:13, “He left them again and sat in the ship.”

εἰς τὰ μέρη Δαλμανουθά. Mt. says εἰς τὰ ὅρια ΄αγαδάν. Neither Dalmanutha nor Magadan is known, and in both Gospels there are differences of reading. In Mt. we have “Magedan,” “Magdala,” and “Magdalan”; here we have “Malegada” and “Magaida.” Dalman (Words, p. 66) conjectures “Magalutha” as the original name, which was corrupted and corrected in a variety of ways. Syr-Sin. has “the hill of Magdan.” If there were two places, they must have been near to one another, but we do not know on which side of the Lake either of them was. Hastings, D.B., art. “Magdan”; Enc. Bibl. 985, 1635, 2894.

Verses 10-13


Matthew 15:39 b–16:5 a

Verse 11

11. ἐξῆλθον. As if from an ambush.

οἱ Φαρισαῖοι. Mt. adds the Sadducees, and he does so six times. Mk and Lk. mention the Sadducees only once, Jn not at all. They began once more to question with Him; for some time He had escaped them. See on Mark 1:27.

σημεῖον ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ. A voice, a return of the manna or of the Shechinah, the sun and the moon to stand still. They believed that with the help of Beelzebub He could work “signs” on earth, but Satanic agency would be powerless in heaven (Theoph.). This demand was made more than once (Matthew 12:38; Matthew 16:1). Luke 11:15-16 gives one occasion and Mk here gives the other. Such a challenge would be likely to be repeated; but the popular taste for miracles is not encouraged by Christ (see on John 4:48; John 20:29) and is disparaged by St Paul (1 Corinthians 1:22). Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 393.

πειράζοντες αὐτόν. They did not want to be convinced that He was the Messiah; they wanted material for proving that He was not. Unconsciously, they were renewing the temptation in the wilderness. Note the combination of participles. See on Mark 1:15.

Verse 12

12. ἀναστενάξας. “Sighed from the bottom of His heart”; stronger than στενάζω (Mark 7:34; Romans 8:23; etc.), and here only in N.T. In Lamentations 1:4 of the sighing of Zion’s priests; Sirach 25:18 of the husband of a wicked wife. Syr-Sin. has “He was troubled in spirit.” Cf. ἀνακρίνω, ἀναλύω, ἀναπαύω. Once more we have evidence of the reality of Christ’s human nature; see on Mark 3:5.

τῷ πνεύματι. The higher part of His being, which was distressed by moral obliquity; see on Mark 2:8.

Τί ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη; He is not asking for information, but expressing regret. See on John 2:23-25; John 10:38; John 11:45. His own generation (Mark 8:38, Mark 13:30; Matthew 11:16; Matthew 12:41-45; Luke 11:29; Luke 17:25; Luke 21:32; not in Jn) was as wrong-headed towards Him, as the generation to which Moses belonged was towards him (Deuteronomy 1:35; Deuteronomy 32:5; Deuteronomy 32:20). As usual, Mt. omits a question which seems to imply that Christ needed to be informed; see on Mark 5:30.

ἀμὴν λέγω. See on Mark 3:28.

εἰ δοθήσεται. A Hebraistic mode of making a strong asseveration equivalent to an oath. “May God punish me,” or some such thought, is understood; Genesis 14:23; Numbers 14:30; Deuteronomy 1:35; Psalms 95:11. From 1 Samuel 3:17 we see how such a form arose. Elsewhere in N.T. it occurs only in quotations from LXX. (Hebrews 3:11; Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 4:5). Blass, § 78. 2. Mt. and Lk. add to “There shall no sign be given” the words “but the sign of Jonah.”

Verse 13

13. The situation of Dalmanutha being unknown, we do not know what εἰς τὸ πέραν indicates.

Verse 14

14. ἐπελάθοντο. They forgot (R.V.). This is not quite parallel to Mark 5:8, where “He had said” best represents the meaning of the imperf. But Burton (§ 48) supports A.V. in rendering “they had forgotten” here.

ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ. According to Mt., what follows took place after they had landed on the other side. The “one loaf” is an unimportant detail which is well remembered. Syr-Sin. has “not one loaf.”

Verses 14-21


Matthew 16:5 b–12. Cf. Luke 12:1

Verse 15

15. διεστέλλετο. In Mark 5:43, Mark 7:36, Mark 9:9 we have the aor., as elsewhere in N.T. The imperf. may mean that the charge was given more than once; or, like εἶχον, it refers to the time in the boat,—they were short of bread and He was saying this; or it may be the conversational imperf. Mt. has εἶπεν, again changing imperf. to aor.

βλέπετε ἀπό. Not “look away from,” but “look and turn away from,” “consider and avoid.” Cf. φυλάσσεσθε ἀπό (Luke 12:15), προσέχετε ἀπό (Matthew 7:15), φοβηθῆτε ἀπό (Matthew 10:28), and see on αἰσχυνθῶμεν ἀπό (1 John 2:28). This pregnant constr. is not Hebraistic. In a letter of A.D. 41, βλέπε ἀπό occurs in a warning against dealings with Jews (G. Milligan, N.T. Documents, p. 50).

τῆς ζύμης. Leaven works imperceptibly and may represent good (Matthew 13:33) or bad (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9) influence; Ignatius (Magnes. x.) has it of both. But it is generally used of bad influence, fermentation being regarded as corruption; fermentation disturbs, inflates, sours. Hence the careful banishment of it during the Passover. Mt. interprets the leaven of the Pharisees (and Sadducees) as their “doctrine,” Lk. (Luke 12:1) as “hypocrisy,” and this might apply to Herod also. Bede gives as part of Herod’s leaven simulatio religionis. The repetition of τῆς ζύμης shows that the leaven of the Pharisees is different from the leaven of Herod, and perhaps irreligion and moral weakness is meant by the latter. Possibly, in thus hurriedly crossing the Lake, they were avoiding being molested by Herod’s emissaries. Cf. Luke 13:31. The two leavens were alike in working against Christ. Mk gives no interpretation, and the different interpretations in Mt. and Lk. point to early conjectures.

Verse 16

16. διελογίζοντο πρὸς ἀλλ. ὅτι. Cf. Mark 11:31. The ὅτι is recitative not causal. See crit. note.

Verse 17

17. Τί διαλογίζεσθε. [1834] and other witnesses add ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν (Mark 2:8), which does not harmonize with πρὸς ἀλλήλους. Their discussion was audible, and their want of apprehension appears to have surprised Christ Himself.

οὔπω νοεῖτε. “After all the teaching which you have received and the experiences you have had, are you still so dull of apprehension?” Cf. Mark 4:13; Mark 4:40, Mark 7:18.

πεπωρωμένην. Mt. again spares the Twelve by omitting this censure; see on Mark 3:5, Mark 4:13, Mark 6:52. Syr-Sin. has “Even until now is your heart blinded?” Ex corde induratio manat in visum auditum et memoriam (Beng.).

Verse 18

18. ὀφθαλμοὺς ἔχοντες. From Jeremiah 5:21; Ezekiel 12:2. This also is omitted in Mt. Cf. Oxyrh. Logia 3, ὅτι τυφλοί εἰσιν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῶν καὶ οὐ βλέπουσιν, πτωχοὶ καὶ οὐκ οἴδασιν τὴν πτωχίαν.

καὶ οὐ μνημονεύετε. This may be an independent sentence; either And do ye not remember? (A.V., R.V.), or “And ye do not remember.” More probably it is the principal clause of the sentence which follows, taken interrogatively; Do ye not remember when I brake … how many … ye took up?

Verse 19

19. ἔκλασα εἰς τ. πεντακισχιλίους. The compound, κατέκλασεν (Mark 6:41), is not repeated. The use of εἰς instead of the dat. comm. is freq. in late Greek. Cf. εἰς τοὺς ἁγίους (1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 9:1), εἰς τοὺς πτωχούς (Romans 15:26), etc. It is found in LXX. and in papyri. Deissmann, Bib. St. pp. 117 f.

κοφίνους. See on Mark 8:8 and Mark 6:43.

λέγουσιν αὐτῷ, Δώδεκα. They remember the facts, but they have failed to see their significance. They were not likely to forget the abundant store which they themselves had collected after all had been satisfied.

Verse 21

21. Οὔπω συνίετε; A repetition of the reproach in Mark 8:17. Mt. lessens the reproach by amplifying the question and suggesting the answer. In Mk Christ continues His education of the Twelve by letting them find the answer. Their error was twofold; they did not see that “leaven” in this connexion must be a metaphor; still worse, they did not see that One who had fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes was not likely to be disturbed because, in a brief cruise, they were ill supplied with bread. They were not only ἀσύνετοι (Mark 7:18), but ὀλιγόπιστοι (Matthew 16:8). Evidently, the manner of feeding the multitudes had not greatly impressed the disciples. The second time they are almost as anxious as the first; and in this third and trifling difficulty they are anxious again.

Verse 22

22. Βηθσαϊδάν. Bethsaida Julias, perhaps the only Bethsaida on the Lake; see on Mark 6:45. [1835] and several Old Latin texts read “Bethany,” which is probably an error; but there may have been a Bethany on the Lake.

τυφλόν. The Ephphatha miracle (Mark 7:32 f.) and this are peculiar to Mk, and they have similarities of detail, some of which may have led Mt. to omit both, because they seem to suggest that Christ had difficulty in effecting the cure. In each case He first isolated the sufferer, and He did not heal merely with a word or a touch; and Mt. may not have liked the use of spittle. Moreover, in this case Christ asks for information, and His success in restoring sight is at first only partial. The parallel extends beyond the two miracles: Mark 8:1-26 is parallel to Mark 6:30 to Mark 7:37. We have in each case a voyage, a feeding of a multitude, and a miracle of healing by means of spittle and touch.

φέρουσιν αὐτῷπαρακαλοῦσιν ἵνα. This wording is in both narratives. Of course φέρουσιν does not mean that they carried him; see on Mark 15:22.

Verses 22-26


Verse 23

23. ἐπιλαβόμενος τῆς χειρός. Ipse ducebat; magna humilitas (Beng.). Partitive genitive; elsewhere Mk uses κρατήσας (Mark 1:31, Mark 5:41, Mark 9:27); ἐπιλαμβάνω is a favourite verb with Lk. Cf. Luke 7:33.

πτύσας εἰς τὰ ὄμματα. Spittle was believed to be good for diseased eyes (see on John 9:6), and the use of it would aid the man’s faith. In class. Grk ὄμμα is rare in prose, but it occurs several times in LXX.

ἐπηρώτα. The conversational imperf. See on Mark 4:10 and Mark 5:9. Christ perceived that the weakness of the man’s faith was an obstacle, and He endeavoured to strengthen it. He questioned him ὡς μὴ ὁλόκληρον ἔχοντα τὴν πίστιν (Theoph.).

Εἴ τι βλέπεις; See crit. note. Εἰ in direct questions is rare, except in Lk. (Luke 13:23; Luke 22:49; Acts 1:6; Acts 19:2; Acts 21:37; Acts 22:25). There is no need to supply γινώσκειν θέλω or the like.

Verse 24

24. ἀναβλέψας. The man looked up in order to answer the question; the attempt to stretch forth the withered hand is similar (Mark 3:5). The context nearly always shows whether ἀναβλέπω means “look up” (Mark 6:41, Mark 7:34, Mark 16:4) or “recover sight” (Mark 10:51-52). Here and John 9:11 either meaning is possible. Cf. ἀνάγειν, ἀνακαλεῖν.

ἔλεγεν. Conversational.

Βλέπω τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ὅτι. See crit. note. I see the men, for I perceive people as trees walking. His sight is imperfect; he knows that what he sees are men, because they walk, but to him they look like trees. The change from βλέπω to ὁρῶ should be marked as in Mark 4:12.

Verse 25

25. διέβλεψεν κ.τ.λ. The aorists and the imperf. are accurate, and the three verbs form a climax; “he saw (what he then looked at) perfectly (Matthew 7:5; Luke 6:42), there was complete restoration of sight (Mark 3:5, Mark 9:12), and he continued to discern (Mark 10:21; Mark 10:27, Mark 14:67) all things, even at a distance, clearly.” The adv. is rare and late. It is possible that the gradual restoration of the man’s sight was meant as a lesson to the Twelve, symbolizing the gradual removal of their mental blindness.

Verse 26

26. εἰς οἶκον αὐτοῦ. Cf. Mark 2:19, Mark 5:11, Mark 7:30. There is no command to keep silence; see crit. note. But quiet meditation, free from intercourse with curious neighbours, is best for him; and over-exercise of his newly recovered power of sight is guarded against.

΄ηδὲ εἰς τ. κώμην εἰσέθῃς. Do not even enter into the village (R.V.). No doubt he could reach his home without doing so. Christ had lamented over the people of Bethsaida for their callousness respecting His mighty works (Matthew 11:21), and their influence on the newly healed would not be for good. The prohibition is only temporary (aor.). Contrast μηδὲ ὀνομαζέσθω (Ephesians 5:3) and μηδὲ ἐσθιέτω (2 Thessalonians 3:10), where perpetual abstention is enjoined. In both these passages Vulg. has nec instead of ne quidem for μηδέ: here it follows a corrupt reading. The reading adopted “is simple and vigorous, and it is unique in N.T. The peculiar initial ΄ηδέ has the terse force of many sayings as given by St Mark, but the softening into ΄ή by [1836][1837] shows that it might trouble scribes” (W.H.). Even if there were a second μηδέ, “neither … nor” (A.V.) would be wrong; it should be not even … nor yet.

Verse 27

27. ἐξῆλθεν. He left Bethsaida, which had been rebuilt by Philip the tetrarch and named Julias in honour of the daughter of Augustus, and came to the neighbourhood of Paneas, which had been rebuilt by Philip and named Caesarea in honour of Augustus himself (Joseph. Ant. XVIII. ii. 1). It was called Καισάρεια ἡ Φιλίππου in order to distinguish it from K. Στρατῶνος on the coast. Our Lord is once more going northwards, in order to find quiet for the training of the Twelve and for His own preparation for suffering and death. He may also have been avoiding the dangerous dominions of Antipas, because His hour was not yet come. But this time, instead of following the coast to Tyre and Sidon, He goes inland, up the valley of the Jordan to one of its sources, near the ancient Laish or Dan. The name Paneas (preserved in the modern Banias, which is near the old city) points to a heathen population. It had its Παναεῖον, a grotto sacred to Pan, and inscriptions containing Pan’s name have been found in the rocks. Evidently Christ did not seek this region in order to preach to the inhabitants. Since the attempt to make Him a king, His public preaching, even among Jews, seems to have been less.

ἐπηρώτα. Conversational; see on Mark 4:10, Mark 5:9. Mt. has λέγει.

Τίνα με λέγουσιν οἱ ἄνθρωποι εἶναι; This crucial question shows that the education of the Twelve is now reaching a high level. It was mainly for their sake that He asked it; yet He may have asked for information as to remarks which they had heard when He was not with them; see on Mark 5:30. But in any case the question was educational; it would teach the disciples how little effect their mission had had on the large majority of the Jews.

Verses 27-30


Matthew 16:13-20. Luke 9:18-21

Verse 28

28. εἶπαν αὐτῷ λέγοντες. Mk alone has the superfluous λέγοντες. See crit. note and cf. Mark 6:25, Mark 7:20. All these conjectures have been mentioned before (see on Mark 6:14-15); Mt. adds Jeremiah. It is remarkable that the opinion that Jesus is the Messiah is not mentioned. Cf. John 6:14-15.

Verse 29

29. Ὑμεῖς δέ. Here again Christ may be asking for information. But ye, who know so much of My teaching and work, who do ye say that I am? Their knowing the views of other people showed that the question had been raised in their minds; cf. Mark 4:41. He does not tell them who He is; He draws the truth from their reflexion, and He expects better things from them than from other men.

ὁ Πέτρος λέγει. Πάλιν ὁ Πέτρος, ὁ πανταχοῦ θερμός, προπηδᾷ καὶ προλαμβάνει (Euthym.). All three assign the reply to Peter, and it is in harmony with his character and position that he should answer for the Twelve—the first time in Mk that he does so. Cf. John 6:69. But there is divergence as to the wording of his reply; “Thou art the Christ” (Mk), “The Christ of God” (Lk.), “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt.). Mt.’s expansion of the reply corresponds to his expansion of Christ’s question. In each case he interprets the words used; cf. Mark 10:18-19; Mark 10:28-30; Mark 10:40, Mark 13:24. There may be something of expansion and interpretation in the famous passage, Matthew 16:17-19, which he alone records, but that the whole is invention is not probable. Mk’s omission of it is intelligible; ἵνα μὴ δόξῃ χαριζόμενος τῷ Πέτρῳ (Theoph.). It was not one of the things which Peter reproduced in his teaching. Salmon, The Human Element, p. 351. This cannot be regarded as a special revelation to Peter; Peter states the conviction of all, and Christ in the hearing of all accepts it as true. Again, we need not suppose that, until Peter made this confession, the Apostles had no idea that Jesus was the Messiah, but we are sure that from this point they know. The strange combination of the aor. ἀποκριθείς with the pres. λέγει is freq. in Mk (Mark 3:33, Mark 9:5; Mark 9:19, Mark 10:24, Mark 11:22; Mark 11:33, Mark 15:2). Matthew 25:40 and Luke 13:25 have the still stranger ἀποκριθεὶς ἐρεῖ. Both occur in LXX. Here, as in Mark 3:33, Syr-Sin. omits ἀποκριθείς.

Verse 30

30. ἐπιτίμησεν. Cf. Mark 1:25, Mark 3:12. The beginning and end of this narrative afford evidence of its historical character. A writer of fiction would hardly have taken Christ into heathen territory, and that without representing Him as preaching to the heathen; nor would he have said of Him that He extracted a confession of His Messiahship from His disciples and at once forbade them to publish the fact. The Gospel narrative as a whole shows the reason for both facts.

Verse 31

31. ἤρξατο διδάσκειν. It was indeed a new beginning. Slowly, fitfully, and still very defectively, the Twelve had been brought by Him to see that He was the promised Messiah; and now He began to teach them that the King and Conqueror whom they had been expecting must suffer shame and death. All three connect this prediction with the confession of Peter, and here was another reason for silence. Peter’s ὁ Χριστός was true, but what he and the others understood by ὁ Χριστός was not true. In proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah they would have taught much that was erroneous.

Δεῖ. Must, because of the Divine decree. This δεῖ comes to the surface all through the life of Christ from His childhood onwards (Luke 2:49), and is especially evident during the later stages (Luke 4:43; Luke 9:22; Luke 13:33; Luke 17:25; Luke 19:5; Luke 22:37; Luke 24:7; Luke 24:26; Luke 24:44). The word is thus used of Christ all through the N.T., but this is the only instance in Mk. The necessity is not of man’s making, but of God’s; the cause is not man’s hostility to Christ, but God’s love to man. Man’s hostility is God’s instrument.

τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. See on Mark 2:10; Mark 2:28. In Mk the title is used eight times in passages which predict the Passion or the Resurrection. It is not so used in “Q.”

πολλὰ παθεῖν, multa pati. The expression is frequent (Mark 5:26; Matthew 27:19), esp. of the Passion (Mark 9:12; Matthew 16:21; Luke 9:22; Luke 17:25). Not in Jn, who neither in Gospel nor Epistles uses πάσχω. What follows forms a climax; Passion, Rejection, Death—the second causing the third. If the hierarchy had not absolutely rejected Him, Pilate would have let Him go.

ἀποδοκιμασθῆναι. Be rejected after investigation. Δοκιμασία was the scrutiny which an official elected at Athens had to undergo to see whether he was qualified to take office. The Sanhedrin held a δοκιμασία with regard to Jesus, and decided that He was not qualified to be the Messiah (Mark 12:10; 1 Peter 2:4; 1 Peter 2:7). The expression is probably taken from Psalms 118:22. But the idea of rejection after investigation is not in the Hebrew word used there and eleven times in Jeremiah, where it is generally, but not always, rendered by ἀποδοκιμάζω. Other renderings are ἀπωθέομαι and ἐξουδενόω, and its meaning is not so much rejecting after scrutiny as rejecting with contempt. Hort on 1 Peter 2:4.

ὑπὸ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων κ.τ.λ. The Sanhedrin is mentioned in all its fulness, each of its three constituent parts having the article, which should be repeated in English; cf. Mark 11:27, Mark 14:43; Mark 14:53. It is as if each of the three classes had given a separate vote for rejection. In Matthew 16:21 and Luke 9:22 the three are under one article, as forming one body. The ἀρχιερεῖς are usually placed first, as including the high-priest and (at this time) the ex-high-priests; but cf. Luke 9:22; Luke 20:19; Matthew 16:21. Very rarely are the ἀρχιερεῖς omitted (Matthew 26:57; Acts 6:12).

μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας. So also Mark 9:31 and Mark 10:34. The expression may be colloquial, a current phrase for a short time, like our “after two or three days.” Mt. and Lk. change it to the more accurate τῇ τρίτῃ ᾑμέρᾳ, which Syr-Sin. and some other authorities read here. In Hosea 6:2, “after two days” = “on the third day.”

Verses 31-33


Matthew 16:21-23. Luke 9:22

Verse 32

32. παρρησίᾳ, palam. Here only in Mk, nowhere in Mt. or Lk., nine times in Jn, and four in 1 Jn. Mk makes it clear that the disciples’ misapprehension of the prediction, esp. as regards the Resurrection, was their own fault. Jesus Himself spoke quite clearly and without reserve. Originally παρρησίᾳ was used of unreserved or fearless speech; but this distinction is not always observed (John 7:4; John 11:54). “With openness” or “clearness” is the meaning here. On this occasion He used no metaphor or parable, such as He employed Mark 2:20. See on 1 John 2:28; 1 John 5:14, where Vulg. has fiducia.

ἐλάλει. He dwelt on this subject for some time. Neither Mk nor Mt. implies that directly Christ mentioned His sufferings and death Peter interposed; he had time to consider the matter, and he acted after some deliberation. There may have been impulsiveness, but not such as blurts out an objection on the spur of the moment. Hence Christ’s severe condemnation of him. There seems to have been a reading λαλεῖν or ἐκλαλεῖν, for k has resurgere et cum fiducia sermonem loqui. See A. S. Lewis, Light on the Four Gospels from the Sinai Palimpsest, p. 67.

προσλαβόμενος. Peter can bear it no longer. From his purely human point of view (Mark 8:33), a rejected and murdered Messiah seems to him a monstrous contradiction. He thinks that the Master is making a grave mistake; and so he takes Him aside to remonstrate with Him privately. As in the petition of the Syrophoenician woman, Mt. gives the words of the remonstrance, and Syr-Sin. inserts them here. “Then Simon Cepha, as though he pitied Him, said to Him, Be it far from Thee,” where in the Syriac there is assonance between “he pitied” and “be it far.” There is affection in it, but the affection is altogether misdirected and exhibited in a wrong way. Peter’s rather patronizing presumption is at first sight surprising, because he had just led the way in confessing that Jesus was the Messiah; but it is “exquisitely natural” (Lagrange).

Verse 33

33. ἐπιστραφείς. Midd. sense, as in Mark 5:30. This graphic touch, freq. in Lk., is in Mt. also. If Peter’s rebuke to Him was given privately, His rebuke to Peter must, for the sake of all, be given openly. It was as He turned that He saw the disciples, from whose company Peter had withdrawn Him. Without ἐπί (Acts 9:35; Acts 11:21) or πρός (Luke 17:4; Acts 9:40) after it, ἐπιστρέφ. means “turn round,” not necessarily “turn towards.” The other Evangelists use στραφείς of Christ’s turning to people. Vulg. spoils the effect of ἐπιτιμᾷνἐπετίμησεν by translating increpare … comminatus est. The latter is the usual translation.

Ὕπαγε ὀπίσω μου, Σατανᾶ. At the end of the Temptation Christ dismissed the evil one with Ὕπαγε, Σατανᾶ (Matthew 4:10). He recognizes Satan’s influence once more in Peter’s suggestion that the Messiah can accomplish His work without suffering and death, which is a repetition of the suggestions made in the wilderness. Mt. says expressly that ὝπαγεΣατανᾶ was addressed to Peter, and ὅτι οὐ φρονεῖς must be addressed to him. For the moment Peter has identified himself with Satan, and he is banished with similar decision and severity.

Bede tries to mitigate Peter’s error, which he thinks sprang de pietatis affectu and could not be attributed to the prompting of the evil one. He admires Peter’s taking the Master aside, ne praesentibus ceteris condiscipulis magistrum videatur arguere. He would give to “Satan” its original meaning of “adversary”; in this matter Peter’s wishes are opposed to Christ’s. Origen and Theophylact go still further from the true meaning when they interpret Ὕπαγε ὀπίσω μου as signifying “Follow Me; conform to My will.”

The severity of the rebuke is explained by the severity of the temptation. Christ’s prayers during the Agony show what it cost Him to resist the suggestion that the triumphant Τετέλεσται could be reached without suffering, and that the Crown might be won without enduring the Cross. The Divine Δεῖ must be accomplished, but Christ’s human soul shrank from the accomplishment, and the thought of escaping it had a dire attractiveness. D.C.G. art. “The Character of Christ.”

οὐ φρονεῖς τὰ τοῦ θεοῦ. It was God’s will that His Son should suffer and die, and Peter was setting his love for his Master in opposition to God’s love for His Son and His sons. The Apostle who should have been a support had become an occasion of falling. It is a low type of human affection that forbids those who are loved to suffer in a righteous cause. Conformity to the mind of God is the only safe rule. Cf. Philippians 3:19. Excepting this Saying and Acts 28:22, φρονεῖν in N.T. is confined to the Pauline Epistles; Romans 8:5; Colossians 3:2. But the expression φρονεῖν τά is not specially Pauline; cf. 1 Maccabees 10:20, and in Dem. Philippians 3 we have οἱ τὰ Φιλίππου φρονοῦντες.

Verse 34

34. τὸν ὄχλον. Cf. Mark 7:14. Neither Mt. nor Lk. mentions this multitude which comes thus suddenly upon the scene, but Lk.’s characteristic ἔλεγεν πρὸς πάντας indicates that others besides the Twelve are now present. What follows could be appreciated by many outside the Twelve, and self-denial is for all, not for ministers only. Mt. inserts his favourite τότε, thus making this address follow immediately on the prediction of the Passion. In the East a crowd is easily collected.

Εἴ τις θέλει. See crit. note. If anyone desires to come after Me; οὐδένα γὰρ ἄκοντα καταναγκάζει (Euthym.). There is no δεῖ, and εἰ θέλει is put first with emphasis. This “catholic doctrine” (Beng.) is almost verbatim the same in all three, and we may believe that it was regarded as one of the chief treasures among Christ’s remembered Sayings. It seems to have been in “Q”; Matthew 10:38-39; Luke 14:26-27; Luke 17:33.

ὀπίσω μου ἐλθεῖν. Quite different from ὑπάγειν ὀπίσω μου (Mark 8:33). Among the crowd, partly heathen, were some who came out of mere curiosity, and others who followed without counting the cost. Who ever desires to be a genuine follower must accept the conditions. The idea of ἀκολουθεῖν now takes the place of μετάνοια (Mark 1:4; Mark 1:15, Mark 6:12), and the appeal seems to be made to a select few.

ἀπαρνμησάσθω ἑαυτόν. He must give up self-worship and self-will. Self is a home-made idol to be put away (Isaiah 31:7). He must love God with all his powers and his neighbour as himself. The expression is not found elsewhere in N.T.

ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ. The same verb is used of Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21). This is the first mention of the cross in Mk and Lk., but Matthew 10:38 is earlier. Jn nowhere uses it in a metaphorical sense. The metaphor would be intelligible and amazing to those who heard it. Varus about B.C. 4 had crucified 2000 rebels (Joseph. Ant. XVII. x. 10). Quadratus (B.J. II. xii. 6), Gessius Florus (B.J. II. xiv. 9) and others (B.J. V. xi. 1) crucified many. Lk. adds his characteristic καθʼ ἡμέραν to the startling metaphor. If the expansion is his own, it shows much spiritual insight; cf. the change from σήμερον to τὸ καθʼ ἡμέραν in the Lord’s Prayer. In all five passages it is “his cross” or “his own cross,” which intimates that everyone has a cross that no one else can carry. Here the primary reference is to martyrdom; every disciple must be ready for that. To the Twelve, who had just heard the prediction of the Passion, the parabolic Saying would be much more intelligible than to the rest.

ἀκολουθείτω μοι. “Obey Me without question.” It is doubtful whether this is a third condition or a return to ὀπίσω μου ἐλθεῖν, “and in that way he will come after Me.” The Saying could hardly have been invented.

Verses 34-38


Matthew 16:24-28. Luke 9:23-27

Verse 35

35. ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν θέλῃ. For whosoever would save (R.V.), or de sireth to save. “Will save” (A.V.) is too like the simple future, a defect found again in A.V. in Luke 19:14; John 6:67; John 7:17; John 8:44. The meaning of ψυχή varies in N.T., and we have no exact equivalent in English. It is [1] the physical life, which animates the flesh and perishes in death, Mark 10:45; [2] the immaterial part of man’s nature, which does not perish in death, and which is also called πνεῦμα, Luke 1:46; [3] where man’s nature is regarded as threefold, ψυχή is the lower side of the immaterial part, πνεῦμα being the upper, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, where see Jowett, Lightfoot, and Milligan. Here the word fluctuates between [1] and [2]. “Life” must be kept throughout the three verses, the context showing whether physical life or spiritual life is meant. The sweep of this Saying is immense. The world thinks that “nothing succeeds like success,” and that the chief end of human activity is one’s own happiness. Experience confirms Christ in teaching that nothing fails like success, for it is generally disappointing and often depraving to character, and that to seek one’s own happiness in all things is a sure way of missing it. Bede gives a good illustration; Frumentum si servas, perdis; si seminas, renovas. Cf. John 12:24; 1 Corinthians 15:36.

ὃ δʼ ἂν ἀπολέσει. The fut. indic. may be caused by the preceding ἀπολέσει, but the constr. is found elsewhere both in LXX. (Winer, p. 385) and in N.T. (W.H. App. p. 172). Cf. Revelation 4:9. It is, however, exceptional and anomalous.

ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ. This important condition is in all three reports of this occasion, but not in Luke 14:26; Luke 17:33 or John 12:25. Καὶ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου is peculiar to Mk both here and Mark 10:29; see on Mark 1:15. Syr-Sin. has “and whosoever shall lose his life for My gospel’s sake.”

Verse 36

36. τί γὰρ ὠφελεῖ. See crit. note and cf. 1 Corinthians 14:6. It is manifest that self-preservation by means of self-sacrifice is the best policy, for of what use is it to win everything if one does not preserve one’s life, i.e. oneself? For τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ LK. has ἑαυτόν. Even in this world, no amount of success can compensate for loss of internal peace or deterioration of character. “For what then have men lost their soul, or for what have those who were on earth exchanged their soul?” (Apocalypse of Baruch, li. 15). The sum total of the visible universe, which is passing away, is poor compensation for the loss of what is invisible and eternal. See Dalman, Words, p. 167. A.V. has “profit” for ὠφελ. in Mk and Mt., but “advantage” in Lk.; also “lose” for ζημιωθ. in Mk and Mt., but “cast away” in Lk. The latter verb implies that the supremely successful man pays the cost with his life. In itself the verb does not include the idea of punishment; that idea comes from the context.

Verse 37

37. τί γὰρ δοῖ. Cf. παραδοῖ (Mark 4:29, Mark 14:10) and γνοῖ (Mark 5:43). The common interpretation, that nothing can compensate a man for the loss of his higher personal life, may stand. But in that case we ought to have “take” rather than “give.” Therefore the rendering in Tyndale, Cranmer, and the Genevan deserves consideration, “What shall a man geve to redeme his soule agayne?” So also Coverdale, “What can a man geve, to redeme his soule withall?” When he has forfeited it by sinful folly, what can he pay to get it back? The loss is irrevocable. Ἀντάλλαγμα is “an equivalent in value” (Job 28:15; Sirach 26:14), esp. a marketable equivalent.

Verse 38

38. ὃς γάρ. This fourth and last step in the reasoning looks back to the start in Mark 8:34, and it takes us beyond the experiences of this life to the final Judgment. Christ is revealing more and more of the mysteries of the Kingdom. “The possibilities of irreparable loss are manifold, for whoever is guilty of moral cowardice in reference to Christ’s requirements will have to suffer this loss.” Ce verset est comme le fond du tableau qui fixe les perspectives (Lagrange). The compound ἐπαισχύνομαι is freq. in Paul.

μοιχαλίδι. “Apostate”; the ref. is to spiritual adultery, the worship of Mammon (James 4:4). The man who dares not make a stand against this disowning of Christ must be prepared to be disowned at the Judgment. The picture of the Judgment is in accordance with Jewish ideas, and we cannot safely draw inferences from the details. These verses show—and Mark 8:35 is accepted even by Loisy as authentic—that Christ takes into most solicitous consideration the future condition of each individual soul.

ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. See on Mark 2:10. The contrast with Mark 8:31 is great. There it is the suffering, here it is the glorified Messiah that is contemplated. Cf. Luke 12:8.

τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ. Only here and Mark 14:36 in Mk does Jesus speak of God as His Father; cf. Mark 13:32. God is the Father of the Son of Man, and the Son of Man is the Son of God.

μετὰ τῶν ἀγγέλων. Here, as in Mark 12:25, all three record that our Lord spoke of Angels as beings that really exist. It is not credible that all the passages in which His teaching on this subject is recorded have been corrupted by the introduction of the Evangelists’ own beliefs.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Mark 8:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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