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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Mark 10



Verse 1

Into the border of Judea and beyond Jordan (eis ta horia tēs Ioudaias kai peran tou Iordanou). See note on Matthew 19:1 for discussion of this curious expression. Matthew adds “from Galilee” and Luke 17:11 says that Jesus “was passing through the midst of Samaria and Galilee” after leaving Ephraim (John 11:54). A great deal has intervened between the events at the close of Mark 9 and those in the beginning of Mark 10. For these events See Matthew 18; John 7-11; Luke 9:57-18:14 (one-third of Luke‘s Gospel comes in here). It was a little over six months to the end at the close of Mark 9. It is just a few weeks now in Mark 10. Jesus has begun his last journey to Jerusalem going north through Samaria, Galilee, across the Jordan into Perea, and back into Judea near Jericho to go up with the passover pilgrims from Galilee.

Multitudes (ochloi). Caravans and caravans journeying to Jerusalem. Many of them are followers of Jesus from Galilee or at least kindly disposed towards him. They go together (sunporeuontai) with Jesus. Note dramatic historical present.

As he was wont (hōs eiōthei). Second past perfect used like an imperfect from eiōtha second perfect active. Jesus was teaching (edidasken imperfect, no longer present tense) this moving caravan.

Verse 2

Tempting him (peirazontes). As soon as Jesus appears in Galilee the Pharisees attack him again (cf. Mark 7:5; Mark 8:11). Gould thinks that this is a test, not a temptation. The word means either (see Matthew 4:1), but their motive was evil. They had once involved the Baptist with Herod Antipas and Herodias on this subject. They may have some such hopes about Jesus, or their purpose may have been to see if Jesus will be stricter than Moses taught. They knew that he had already spoken in Galilee on the subject (Matthew 5:31.).

Verse 3

What did Moses command you? (Timothyhumin eneteilato Mōusēs̱). Jesus at once brought up the issue concerning the teaching of Moses (Deuteronomy 24:1). But Jesus goes back beyond this concession here allowed by Moses to the ideal state commanded in Genesis 1:27.

Verse 4

To write a bill of divorcement and to put her away (biblion apostasiou grapsai kai apolusai). The word for “bill” (biblion) is a diminutive and means “little book,” like the Latin libellus, from which comes our word libel (Vincent). Wycliff has it here “a libel of forsaking.” This same point the Pharisees raise in Matthew 19:7, showing probably that they held to the liberal view of Hillel, easy divorce for almost any cause. That was the popular view as now. See note on Matthew 19:8 for this and for discussion of “for your hardness of heart” (sklērokardia). Jesus expounds the purpose of marriage (Genesis 2:24) and takes the stricter view of divorce, that of the school of Shammai. See notes on Matthew 19:3-11 for discussion. Mark 10:10 notes that the disciples asked Jesus about this problem “in the house” after they had gone away from the crowd.

Verse 11

Mark does not give the exception stated in Matthew 19:9 “except for fornication” which see for discussion, though the point is really involved in what Mark does record. Mere formal divorce does not annul actual marriage consummated by the physical union. Breaking that bond does annul it.

Verse 12

If she herself shall put away her husband and marry another (εαν αυτη απολυσασα τον ανδρα αυτης γαμησηιean autē apolusasa ton andra autēs gamēsēi). Condition of the third class (undetermined, but with prospect of determination). Greek and Roman law allowed the divorce of the husband by the wife though not provided for in Jewish law. But the thing was sometimes done as in the case of Herodias and her husband before she married Herod Antipas. So also Salome, Herod‘s sister, divorced her husband. Both Bruce and Gould think that Mark added this item to the words of Jesus for the benefit of the Gentile environment of this Roman Gospel. But surely Jesus knew that the thing was done in the Roman world and hence prohibited marrying such a “grass widow.”

Verse 13

They brought (προσεπερονprosepheron). Imperfect active tense, implying repetition. So also Luke 18:15, though Matthew 19:13 has the constative aorist passive (προσηνεχτησανprosēnechthēsan). “This incident follows with singular fitness after the Lord‘s assertion of the sanctity of married life” (Swete). These children (παιδιαpaidia Mark and Matthew; βρεπηbrephē in Luke) were of various ages. They were brought to Jesus for his blessing and prayers (Matthew). The mothers had reverence for Jesus and wanted him to touch (απσηταιhapsētai) them. There was, of course, no question of baptism or salvation involved, but a most natural thing to do.

Verse 14

He was moved with indignation (ηγανακτησενēganaktēsen). In Mark alone. The word is ingressive aorist, became indignant, and is a strong word of deep emotion (from αγανagan and αχτομαιachthomai to feel pain). Already in Matthew 21:15; Matthew 26:8. Old and common word.

Suffer the little children to come unto me (απετε τα παιδια ερχεσται προς μεaphete ta paidia erchesthai pros me). Mark has the infinitive ερχεσταιerchesthai (come) not in Matthew, but in Luke. Surely it ought to be a joy to parents to bring their children to Jesus, certainly to allow them to come, but to hinder their coming is a crime. There are parents who will have to give answer to God for keeping their children away from Jesus.

Verse 15

As a little child (ως παιδιονhōs paidion). How does a little child receive the kingdom of God? The little child learns to obey its parents simply and uncomplainingly. There are some new psychologists who argue against teaching obedience to children. The results have not been inspiring. Jesus here presents the little child with trusting and simple and loving obedience as the model for adults in coming into the kingdom. Jesus does not here say that children are in the kingdom of God because they are children.

Verse 16

He took them in his arms (εναγκαλισαμενοςenagkalisamenos). A distinct rebuke to the protest of the over-particular disciples. This word already in Mark 9:36. In Luke 2:28 we have the full idiom, to receive into the arms (εις τας αγκαλας δεχεσταιeis tās agkalas dechesthai). So with tender fondling Jesus repeatedly blessed (κατευλογειkateulogei imperfect), laying his hands upon each of them (τιτειςtitheis present participle). It was a great moment for each mother and child.

Verse 17

Ran (προσδραμωνprosdramōn). Jesus had left the house (Mark 10:10) and was proceeding with the caravan on the way (εις οδονeis hodon) when this ruler eagerly ran and kneeled (γονυπετησαςgonupetēsas) and was asking (επηρωταepērōtā imperfect) Jesus about his problem. Both these details alone in Mark.

Verse 18

Why callest thou me good? (Τι με λεγεις αγατονTimothyme legeis agathoṉ). So Luke 18:19. Matthew 19:17 has it: “Why asketh thou concerning that which is good? “The young ruler was probably sincere and not using mere fulsome compliment, but Jesus challenges him to define his attitude towards him as was proper. Did he mean “good” (αγατοςagathos) in the absolute sense as applied to God? The language is not a disclaiming of deity on the part of Jesus.

That I may inherit (ινα κληρονομησωhina klēronomēsō). Matthew 19:16 has (σχωschō), that I may “get.”

Verse 20

All these (ταυτα πανταtauta panta). Literally, these all (of them).

Verse 21

Looking upon him loved him (εμβλεπσας αυτωι ηγαπησενemblepsas autōi ēgapēsen). Mark alone mentions this glance of affection, ingressive aorist participle and verb. Jesus fell in love with this charming youth.

One thing thou lackest (εν σε υστερειHen se husterei). Luke 18:22 has it: “One thing thou lackest yet” (Ετι εν σοι λειπειEti hen soi leipei). Possibly two translations of the same Aramaic phrase. Matthew 19:20 represents the youth as asking “What lack I yet?” (Τι ετι υστερωTimothyeti husterō̱). The answer of Jesus meets that inquiry after more than mere outward obedience to laws and regulations. The verb υστερωhusterō is from the adjective υστεροςhusteros (behind) and means to be too late, to come short, to fail of, to lack. It is used either with the accusative, as here, or with the ablative as in 2 Corinthians 11:5, or the dative as in Textus Receptus here, σοιsoi f0).

Verse 22

But his countenance fell (ο δε στυγνασαςho de stugnasas). In the lxx and Polybius once and in Matthew 16:3 (passage bracketed by Westcott and Hort). The verb is from στυγνοςstugnos sombre, gloomy, like a lowering cloud. See note on Matthew 19:22 for discussion of “sorrowful” (lupoumenos).

Verse 23

Looked round about (περιβλεπσαμενοςperiblepsamenos). Another picture of the looks of Jesus and in Mark alone as in Mark 3:5, Mark 3:34. “To see what impression the incident had made on the Twelve” (Bruce). “When the man was gone the Lord‘s eye swept round the circle of the Twelve, as he drew for them the lesson of the incident” (Swete).

How hardly (Πως δυσκολωςPōs duskolōs). So Luke 18:24. Matthew 19:23 has it: “With difficulty (δυσκολωςduskolōs) shall a rich man.” See note on Matthew for this word.

Verse 24

Were amazed (εταμβουντοethambounto). Imperfect passive. A look of blank astonishment was on their faces at this statement of Jesus. They in common with other Jews regarded wealth as a token of God‘s special favour.

Children (τεκναtekna). Here alone to the Twelve and this tender note is due to their growing perplexity.

For them that trust in riches (τους πεποιτοτας επι τοις χρημασινtous pepoithotas epi tois chrēmasin). These words do not occur in Aleph B Delta Memphitic and one Old Latin manuscript. Westcott and Hort omit them from their text as an evident addition to explain the difficult words of Jesus.

Verse 25

Needle‘s eye (τρυμαλιας ραπιδοςtrumaliās rhaphidos). See note on Matthew 19:24 for discussion. Luke uses the surgical needle, belonēs Matthew has the word rhaphis like Mark from βελονηςrhaptō to sew, and it appears in the papyri. Both Matthew and Luke employ ραπιςtrēmatos for eye, a perforation or hole from ραπτωtitraō to bore. Mark‘s word τρηματοςtrumalias is from τιτραωtruō to wear away, to perforate. In the lxx and Plutarch.

Verse 26

Then who (και τιςkai tis). Matthew 19:25 has Τις ουνTis oun Evidently καιkai has here an inferential sense like ουνoun f0).

Verse 27

Looking on them (εμβλεπσας αυτοιςemblepsas autois). So in Matthew 19:26. Their amazement increased (Mark 10:26).

But not with God (αλλ ου παρα τεωιall' ou para theōi). Locative case with παραpara (beside). The impossible by the side of men (παρα αντρωποιςpara anthrōpois) becomes possible by the side of God. That is the whole point and brushes to one side all petty theories of a gate called needle‘s eye, etc.

Verse 28

Peter began to say (ηρχατο λεγειν ο Πετροςērxato legein ho Petros). It was hard for Peter to hold in till now. Matthew 19:27 says that “Peter answered” as if the remark was addressed to him in particular. At any rate Peter reminds Jesus of what they had left to follow him, four of them that day by the sea (Mark 1:20; Matthew 4:22; Luke 5:11). It was to claim obedience to this high ideal on their part in contrast with the conduct of the rich young ruler.

Verse 30

With persecutions (μετα διωγμωνmeta diōgmōn). This extra touch is in Mark alone. There is a reminiscence of some of “the apocalyptic of the familiar descriptions of the blessings of the Messianic kingdom. But Jesus uses such language from the religious idiom of this time only to idealize it” (Gould). The apostles were soon to see the realization of this foreshadowing of persecution. Vincent notes that Jesus omits “a hundred wives” in this list, showing that Julian the Apostate‘s sneer on that score was without foundation.

Verse 31

See note on Matthew 19:30 for the use of the paradox about first and last, probably a rebuke here to Peter‘s boast.

Verse 32

And they were amazed (και εταμβουντοkai ethambounto). Imperfect tense describing the feelings of the disciples as Jesus was walking on in front of them (ην προαγων αυτουςēn proagōn autous periphrastic imperfect active), an unusual circumstance in itself that seemed to bode no good as they went on through Perea towards Jerusalem. In fact, they that followed were afraid (οι δε ακολουτουντες εποβουντοhoi de akolouthountes ephobounto) as they looked at Jesus walking ahead in solitude. The idiom (οι δεhoi de) may not mean that all the disciples were afraid, but only some of them. “The Lord walked in advance of the Twelve with a solemnity and a determination which foreboded danger” (Swete). Cf. Luke 9:5. They began to fear coming disaster as they neared Jerusalem. They read correctly the face of Jesus.

And he took again the twelve (και παραλαβων τους δωδεκαkai paralabōn tous dōdeka). Matthew has “apart” from the crowds and that is what Mark also means. Note παραλαβωνparalabōn taking to his side.

And began to tell them the things that were to happen to him (ηρχατο αυτοις λεγειν τα μελλοντα αυτωι συμβαινεινērxato autois legein ta mellonta autōi sumbainein). He had done it before three times already (Mark 8:31; Mark 9:13; Mark 9:31). So Jesus tries once more. They had failed utterly heretofore. How is it now? Luke adds (Luke 18:34): “They understood none of these things.” But Mark and Matthew show how the minds of two of the disciples were wholly occupied with plans of their own selfish ambition while Jesus was giving details of his approaching death and resurrection.

Verse 35

There come near unto him James and John (και προσπορευονται Ιακωβος και Ιωανηςkai prosporeuontai Iakōbos kai Iōanēs). Dramatic present tense. Matthew has τοτεtote then, showing that the request of the two brothers with their mother (Matthew 20:20) comes immediately after the talk about Christ‘s death.

We would (τελομενthelomen). We wish, we want, bluntly told.

She came worshipping (προσκυνουσαproskunousa) Matthew says. The mother spoke for the sons. But they try to commit Jesus to their desires before they tell what they are, just like spoiled children.

Verse 37

In thy glory (εν τηι δοχηιen tēi doxēi). Matthew 20:21 has “in thy kingdom.” See note on Matthew 20:20 for the literal interpretation of Matthew 19:28. They are looking for a grand Jewish world empire with apocalyptic features in the eschatological culmination of the Messiah‘s kingdom. That dream brushed aside all the talk of Jesus about his death and resurrection as mere pessimism.

Verse 38

Or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with (η το βαπτισμα ο εγω βαπτιζομαι βαπτιστηναιē to baptisma ho egō baptizomai baptisthēnai). Cognate accusative with both passive verbs. Matthew 20:22 has only the cup, but Mark has both the cup and the baptism, both referring to death. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane will refer to his death again as “the cup” (Mark 14:36; Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42). He had already used baptism as a figure for his death (Luke 12:50). Paul will use it several times (1 Corinthians 15:29; Romans 6:3-6; Colossians 2:12).

Verse 39

See notes on Matthew 20:23-28 for discussion on these memorable verses (Mark 10:39-45) identical in both Matthew and Mark. In particular in Mark 10:45 note the language of Jesus concerning his death as “a ransom for many” (lutron anti pollōn), words of the Master that were not understood by the apostles when spoken by Jesus and which have been preserved for us by Peter through Mark. Some today seek to empty these words of all real meaning as if Jesus could not have or hold such a conception concerning his death for sinners.

Verse 40

See note on Mark 10:39.

Verse 41

See note on Mark 10:39.

Verse 42

See note on Mark 10:39.

Verse 43

See note on Mark 10:39.

Verse 44

See note on Mark 10:39.


Verse 45

See note on Mark 10:39.


Verse 46

From Jericho (απο Ιερειχωapo Iereichō). See Matthew 20:29 for discussion of this phrase and Luke‘s (Luke 18:35) “nigh unto Jericho” and the two Jerichos, the old and the new Roman (Luke). The new Jericho was “about five miles W. of the Jordan and fifteen E. of Jerusalem, near the mouth of the Wady Kelt, and more than a mile south of the site of the ancient town” (Swete).

Great multitude (ochlou hikanou). Considerable, more than sufficient. Often in Luke and the papyri in this sense. See note on Matthew 3:11 for the other sense of fit for οχλου ικανουhikanos (ικανοςBartimaios). Aramaic name like Bartholomew, αρτιμαιοςbar meaning son like Hebrew ben. So Mark explains the name meaning “the son of Timaeus” (βαρho huios Timaiou). Mark alone gives his name while Matthew 20:30 mentions two which see for discussion.

Blind beggar (ο υιος Τιμαιουtuphlos prosaitēs), “begging” (τυπλος προσαιτηςepaitōn) Luke has it (Luke 18:35). All three Gospels picture him as sitting by the roadside (επαιτωνekathēto para tēn hodon). It was a common sight. Bartimaeus had his regular place. Vincent quotes Thomson concerning Ramleh: “I once walked the streets counting all that were either blind or had defective eyes, and it amounted to about one-half the male population. The women I could not count, for they are rigidly veiled” (The Land and the Book). The dust, the glare of the sun, the unsanitary habits of the people spread contagious eye-diseases.

Verse 48

Rebuked him (επετιμων αυτωιepetimōn autōi). Imperfect tense. Kept rebuking repeatedly. So Luke 18:39. Aorist tense in Matthew 20:31.

Should hold his peace (σιωπησηιsiōpēsēi). Ingressive aorist subjunctive, become silent.

The more a great deal (πολλωι μαλλονpollōi māllon). So Luke 18:39. Only μειζονmeizon in Matthew 20:31.

Verse 49

Stood still (σταςstas). Second aorist active ingressive participle. So Matthew 20:32. Luke 18:40 has στατειςstatheis aorist passive participle.

He calleth thee (πωνει σεphōnei se). That was joyful news to Bartimaeus. Vivid dramatic presents here in Mark.

Verse 50

Casting away his garment (αποβαλων το ιματιον αυτουapobalōn to himation autou). Second aorist active participle. Outer robe in his haste.

Sprang up (αναπηδησαςanapēdēsas). Leaping up, vivid details again in Mark.

Verse 51

That I should do (ποιησωpoiēsō). Neat Greek idiom with aorist subjunctive without ιναhina after τελειςtheleis For this asyndeton (or parataxis) see Robertson, Grammar, p. 430.

Rabboni (αββουνειRabbounei). The Aramaic word translated Lord (Kurie) in Matthew 20:33 and Luke 18:41. This very form occurs again in John 20:16.

That I may receive my sight (ινα αναβλεπσωhina anablepsō). To recover sight (αναanȧ), see again. Apparently he had once been able to see. Here ιναhina is used though τελωthelō is not (cf. Mark 10:35). The Messiah was expected to give sight to the blind (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18; Luke 7:22).

Verse 52

Followed (ηκολουτειēkolouthei). Imperfect tense picturing joyful Bartimaeus as he followed the caravan of Jesus into the new Jericho.

Made thee whole (σεσωκενsesōken). Perfect active indicative. The word commonly means save and that may be the idea here.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Mark 10:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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