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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Mark 5



Verse 1

The Gerasenes (των Γερασηνωνtōn Gerasēnōn). Like Luke 8:26 while Matthew 8:28 has “the Gadarenes.” The ruins of the village Khersa (Gerasa) probably point to this site which is in the district of Gadara some six miles southeastward, not to the city of Gerasa some thirty miles away.

Verse 2

Out of the boat (εκ του πλοιουek tou ploiou). Straightway (ευτυςeuthus) Mark says, using the genitive absolute (εχελτοντος αυτουexelthontos autou) and then repeating αυτωιautōi associative instrumental after απηντησενapēntēsen The demoniac greeted Jesus at once. Mark and Luke 9:27 mention only one man while Matthew notes two demoniacs, perhaps one more violent than the other. Each of the Gospels has a different phrase. Mark has “a man with an unclean spirit” (εν πνευματι ακαταρτωιen pneumati akathartōi), Matthew 8:28 “two possessed with demons” (δυο δαιμονιζομενοιduo daimonizomenoi), Luke 8:27 “one having demons” (τις εχων δαιμονιαtis echōn daimonia). Mark has many touches about this miracle not retained in Matthew and Luke. See notes on Matthew 8:28.

Verse 3

No man could any more bind him, no, not with a chain (ουδε αλυσει ουδεις εδυνατο αυτον δησαιoude halusei oudeis edunato auton dēsai). Instrumental case αλυσειhalusei a handcuff (αa privative and λυωluō to loosen). But this demoniac snapped a handcuff as if a string.

Verse 4

Often bound (πολλακις δεδεσταιpollakis dedesthai). Perfect passive infinitive, state of completion. With fetters (πεδαιςpedais from πεζαpeza foot, instep) and chains, bound hand and foot, but all to no purpose. The English plural of foot is feet (Anglo-Saxon fot, fet) and fetter is feeter.

Rent asunder (διεσπασταιdiespāsthai). Drawn (σπαωspaō) in two (διαdiȧ same root as δυοduo two). Perfect passive infinitive.

Broken in pieces (συντετριπταιsuntetriphthai Perfect passive infinitive again, from συντριβωsuntribō to rub together. Rubbed together, crushed together. Perhaps the neighbours who told the story could point to broken fragments of chains and fetters. The fetters may have been cords, or even wooden stocks and not chains.

No man had strength to tame him (ουδεις ισχυεν αυτον δαμασαιoudeis ischuen auton damasai). Imperfect tense. He roamed at will like a lion in the jungle.

Verse 5

He was crying out, and cutting himself with stones (ην κραζων και κατακοπτων εαυτον λιτοιςēn krazōn kai katakoptōn heauton lithois). Further vivid details by Mark. Night and day his loud scream or screech could be heard like other demoniacs (cf. Mark 1:26; Mark 3:11; Mark 9:26). The verb for cutting himself occurs here only in the N.T., though an old verb. It means to cut down (perfective use of καταkatȧ). We say cut up, gash, hack to pieces. Perhaps he was scarred all over with such gashes during his moments of wild frenzy night and day in the tombs and on the mountains. Periphrastic imperfect active with ηνēn and the participles.

Verse 6

Ran and worshipped (εδραμεν και προσεκυνησενedramen kai prosekunēsen). “At first perhaps with hostile intentions. The onrush of the naked yelling maniac must have tried the newly recovered confidence of the Twelve. We can imagine their surprise when, on approaching, he threw himself on his knees” (Swete).

Verse 7

I adjure thee by God (ορκιζω σε τον τεονhorkizō se ton theon). The demoniac puts Jesus on oath (two accusatives) after the startled outcry just like the one in Mark 1:24, which see. He calls Jesus here “son of the Most High God” (υιε του τεου του υπσιστουhuie tou theou tou hupsistou) as in Luke 8:28 (cf. Genesis 14:18.).

Torment me not (μη με βασανισηιςmē me basanisēis). Prohibition with μηmē and the ingressive aorist subjunctive. The word means to test metals and then to test one by torture (cf. our “third degree”). Same word in all three Gospels.

Verse 8

For he said (ελεγεν γαρelegen gar). For he had been saying (progressive imperfect). Jesus had already repeatedly ordered the demon to come out of the man whereat the demon made his outcry to Jesus and protested. Matthew 8:29 had “before the time” (προ καιρουpro kairou) and Matthew 8:31 shows that the demons did not want to go back to the abyss (την αβυσσονtēn abusson) right now. That was their real home, but they did not wish to return to the place of torment just now.

Verse 9

My name is Legion (Λεγιων ονομα μοιLegiōn onoma moi). So Luke 8:30, but not Matthew. Latin word (legio). A full Roman legion had 6,826 men. See note on Matthew 26:53. This may not have been a full legion, for Mark 5:13 notes that the number of hogs was “about two thousand.” Of course, a stickler for words might say that each hog had several demons.

Verse 13

And he gave them leave (και επετρεπσεν αυτοιςkai epetrepsen autois). These words present the crucial difficulty for interpreters as to why Jesus allowed the demons to enter the hogs and destroy them instead of sending them back to the abyss. Certainly it was better for hogs to perish than men, but this loss of property raises a difficulty of its own akin to the problem of tornadoes and earthquakes. The question of one man containing so many demons is difficult also, but not much more so than how one demon can dwell in a man and make his home there. One is reminded of the man out of whom a demon was cast, but the demon came back with seven other demons and took possession. Gould thinks that this man with a legion of demons merely makes a historical exaggeration. “I feel as if I were possessed by a thousand devils.” That is too easy an explanation. See note on Matthew 8:32 for “rushed down the steep.”

They were choked (epnigonto). Imperfect tense picturing graphically the disappearance of pig after pig in the sea. Luke 8:33 has apegnigē choked off, constative second aorist passive indicative, treated as a whole, Matthew 8:32 merely has “perished” (επνιγοντοapethanon died).

Verse 14

And in the country (και εις τους αγρουςkai eis tous agrous). Mark adds this to “the city.” In the fields and in the city as the excited men ran they told the tale of the destruction of the hogs. They came to see (ηλτον ιδεινēlthon idein). All the city came out (Matthew), they went out to see (Luke).

Verse 15

They come to Jesus (ερχονται προς τον Ιησουνerchontai pros ton Iēsoun). Vivid present. To Jesus as the cause of it all, “to meet Jesus” (εις υπαντησιν Ιησουeis hupantēsin Iēsou Matthew 8:34).

And behold (τεωρουσινtheōrousin). Present tense again.

And they were afraid (και εποβητησανkai ephobēthēsan). They became afraid. Mark drops back to the ingressive aorist tense (passive voice). They had all been afraid of the man, but there he was “sitting clothed and in his right mind,” (κατημενον ιματισμενον και σωπρονουνταkathēmenon himatismenon kai sōphronounta Note the participles). “At the feet of Jesus,” Luke adds (Luke 8:35). For a long time he had worn no clothes (Luke 8:17). Here was the healing of the wild man and the destruction of the hogs all by this same Jesus.

Verse 17

To depart from their borders (απελτειν απο των οριωνapelthein apo tōn horiōn). Once before the people of Nazareth had driven Jesus out of the city (Luke 4:16-31). Soon they will do it again on his return there (Mark 6:1-6; Matthew 13:54-58). Here in Decapolis pagan influence was strong and the owners of the hogs cared more for the loss of their property than for the healing of the wild demoniac. In the clash between business and spiritual welfare business came first with them as often today. All three Gospels tell of the request for Jesus to leave. They feared the power of Jesus and wanted no further interference with their business affairs.

Verse 18

As he was entering (εμβαινοντος αυτουembainontos autou). The man began to beseech him (παρεκαλειparekalei) before it was too late.

Verse 19

Go to thy house unto thy friends (υπαγε εις τον οικον σου προς τους σουςHupage eis ton oikon sou pros tous sous). “To thy own folks” rather than “thy friends.” Certainly no people needed the message about Christ more than these people who were begging Jesus to leave. Jesus had greatly blessed this man and so gave him the hardest task of all, to go home and witness there for Christ. In Galilee Jesus had several times forbidden the healed to tell what he had done for them because of the undue excitement and misunderstanding. But here it was different. There was no danger of too much enthusiasm for Christ in this environment.

Verse 20

He went his way (απηλτενapēlthen). He went off and did as Jesus told him. He heralded (κηρυσσεινkērussein) or published the story till all over Decapolis men marvelled (εταυμαζονethaumazon) at what Jesus did, kept on marvelling (imperfect tense). The man had a greater opportunity for Christ right in his home land than anywhere else. They all knew this once wild demoniac who now was a new man in Christ Jesus. Thousands of like cases of conversion under Christ‘s power have happened in rescue missions in our cities.

Verse 23

My little daughter (το τυγατριον μουto thugatrion mou). Diminutive of τυγατηρthugatēr (Matthew 9:18). “This little endearing touch in the use of the diminutive is peculiar to Mark” (Vincent). “Is at the point of death” (εσχατως εχειeschatōs echei). Has it in the last stages. Matthew 9:18 has: “has just died” (αρτι ετελευσενarti eteleusen), Luke “she lay a dying” (απετνησκενapethnēsken imperfect, she was dying). It was a tragic moment for Jairus.

I pray thee, not in the Greek. This ellipsis before ιναhina not uncommon, a sort of imperative use of ιναhina and the subjunctive in the Koiné (Robertson, Grammar, p. 943).

Verse 24

He went with him (απηλτενapēlthen). Aorist tense. Went off with him promptly, but a great multitude followed him (ηκολουτειēkolouthei), was following, kept following (imperfect tense).

They thronged him (συνετλιβον αυτονsunethlibon auton). Imperfect tense again. Only example of (here and in Mark 5:31) this compound verb in the N.T., common in old Greek. Were pressing Jesus so that he could hardly move because of the jam, or even to breathe (συνεπνιγονsunepnigon Luke 8:42).

Verse 26

Had suffered many things of many physicians (πολλα πατουσα υπο πολλων ιατρωνpolla pathousa hupo pollōn iatrōn). A pathetic picture of a woman with a chronic case who had tried doctor after doctor.

Had spent all that she had (δαπανησασα τα παρ αυτης πανταdapanēsasa ta par' autēs panta). Having spent the all from herself, all her resources. For the idiom with παραpara see note on Luke 10:7; Philemon 4:18. The tragedy of it was that she “was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse” (μηδεν ωπελητεισα αλλα μαλλον εις το χειρον ελτουσαmēden ōphelētheisa alla māllon eis to cheiron elthousa). Her money was gone, her disease was gaining on her, her one chance came now with Jesus. Matthew says nothing about her experience with the doctors and Luke 8:43 merely says that she “had spent all her living upon physicians and could not be healed of any,” a plain chronic case. Luke the physician neatly takes care of the physicians. But they were not to blame. She had a disease that they did not know how to cure. Vincent quotes a prescription for an issue of blood as given in the Talmud which gives one a most grateful feeling that he is not under the care of doctors of that nature. The only parallel today is Chinese medicine of the old sort before modern medical schools came.

Verse 28

If I touch but his garments (Εαν απσωμαι καν των ιματιων αυτουEan hapsōmai k'an tōn himatiōn autou). She was timid and shy from her disease and did not wish to attract attention. So she crept up in the crowd and touched the hem or border of his garment (κρασπεδονkraspedon) according to Matthew 9:20 and Luke 8:44.

Verse 29

She felt in her body (εγνω τωι σωματιegnō tōi sōmati). She knew, the verb means. She said to herself,

I am healed (ιαμαιiāmai). ΙαταιIātai retains the perfect passive in the indirect discourse. It was a vivid moment of joy for her. The plague (μαστιγοςmastigos) or scourge was a whip used in flagellations as on Paul to find out his guilt (Acts 22:24, cf. Hebrews 11:26). It is an old word that was used for afflictions regarded as a scourge from God. See note on Mark 3:10.

Verse 30

Perceiving in himself (επιγνους εν εαυτωιepignous en heautōi). She thought, perhaps, that the touch of Christ‘s garment would cure her without his knowing it, a foolish fancy, no doubt, but one due to her excessive timidity. Jesus felt in his own consciousness. The Greek idiom more exactly means: “Jesus perceiving in himself the power from him go out” (την εχ αυτου δυναμιν εχελτουσανtēn ex autou dunamin exelthousan). The aorist participle here is punctiliar simply and timeless and can be illustrated by Luke 10:18: “I was beholding Satan fall” (ετεωρουν τον Σαταναν πεσονταetheōroun ton Satanān pesonta), where πεσονταpesonta does not mean fallen (πεπτωκοταpeptōkota) as in Revelation 9:1 nor falling (πιπτονταpiptonta) but simply the constative aorist fall (Robertson, Grammar, p. 684). So here Jesus means to say: “I felt in myself the power from me go.” Scholars argue whether in this instance Jesus healed the woman by conscious will or by unconscious response to her appeal. Some even argue that the actual healing took place after Jesus became aware of the woman‘s reaching for help by touching his garment. What we do know is that Jesus was conscious of the going out of power from himself. Luke 8:46 uses εγνωνegnōn (personal knowledge), but Mark has επιγνουςepignous (personal and additional, clear knowledge). One may remark that no real good can be done without the outgoing of power. That is true of mother, preacher, teacher, doctor.

Who touched my garments? (Τις μου ηπσατο των ιματιωνTis mou hēpsato tōn himatiōṉ). More exactly,

Who touched me on my clothes; The Greek verb uses two genitives, of the person and the thing. It was a dramatic moment for Jesus and for the timid woman. Later it was a common practice for the crowds to touch the hem of Christ‘s garments and be healed (Mark 6:56). But here Jesus chose to single out this case for examination. There was no magic in the garments of Jesus. Perhaps there was superstition in the woman‘s mind, but Jesus honoured her darkened faith as in the case of Peter‘s shadow and Paul‘s handkerchief.

Verse 31

Thronging thee (συντλιβοντα σεsunthlibonta se). See Mark 5:24. The disciples were amazed at the sensitiveness of Jesus to the touch of the crowd. They little understood the drain on Jesus from all this healing that pulled at his heart-strings and exhausted his nervous energy even though the Son of God. He had the utmost human sympathy.

Verse 32

And he looked round about (και περιεβλεπετοkai perieblepeto). Imperfect middle indicative. He kept looking around to find out. The answer of Jesus to the protest of the disciples was this scrutinizing gaze (see already Mark 3:5, Mark 3:34). Jesus knew the difference between touch and touch (Bruce).

Verse 33

Fearing and trembling, knowing (ποβητεισα και τρεμουσα ειδυιαphobētheisa kai tremousa γεγονεν eiduia). These participles vividly portray this woman who had tried to hide in the crowd. She had heard Christ‘s question and felt his gaze. She had to come and confess, for something “has happened” (προσεπεσεν αυτωιgegonen second perfect active indicative, still true) to her.

Fell down before him (πασαν την αλητειανprosepesen autōi). That was the only proper attitude now.

All the truth (pāsan tēn alētheian). Secrecy was no longer possible. She told “the pitiful tale of chronic misery” (Bruce).

Verse 34

Go in peace (υπαγε εις ειρηνηνHupage eis eirēnēn). She found sympathy, healing, and pardon for her sins, apparently. Peace here may have more the idea of the Hebrew ιστι υγιης απο της μαστιγος σουshalōm health of body and soul. So Jesus adds: “Be whole of thy plague” (isthi hugiēs apo tēs mastigos sou). Continue whole and well.

Verse 35

While he yet spake (Ετι αυτου λαλουντοςEti autou lalountos). Genitive absolute. Another vivid touch in Mark and Luke 8:49. The phrase is in Genesis 29:9. Nowhere does Mark preserve better the lifelike traits of an eyewitness like Peter than in these incidents in chapter 5. The arrival of the messengers from Jairus was opportune for the woman just healed of the issue of blood (εν υσει αιματοςen husei haimatos) for it diverted attention from her. Now the ruler‘s daughter has died (απετανεapethane).

Why troublest thou the master any further? (Τι ετι σκυλλεις τον διδασκαλονTimothyeti skulleis ton didaskaloṉ). It was all over, so they felt. Jesus had raised from the dead the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17), but people in general did not expect him to raise the dead. The word σκυλλωskullō from σκυλονskulon (skin, pelt, spoils), means to skin, to flay, in Aeschylus. Then it comes to mean to vex, annoy, distress as in Matthew 9:36, which see. The middle is common in the papyri for bother, worry, as in Luke 7:6. There was no further use in troubling the Teacher about the girl.

Verse 36

Not heeding (παρακουσαςparakousas). This is the sense in Matthew 18:17 and uniformly so in the lxx. But here the other sense of hearing aside, overhearing what was not spoken directly to him, probably exists also. “Jesus might overhear what was said and disregard its import” (Bruce). Certainly he ignored the conclusion of the messengers. The present participle λαλουμενονlaloumenon suits best the idea of overhearing. Both Mark and Luke 8:50 have “Fear not, only believe” (μη ποβου μονον πιστευεmē phobou τωι αρχισυναγωγωι monon pisteue). This to the ruler of the synagogue (tōi archisunagōgōi) who had remained and to whom the messenger had spoken.

Verse 37

Save Peter, and James, and John (ει μη Πετρον και λακωβον και Ιωανηνei mē Petron kai lakōbon kai Iōanēn). Probably the house was too small for the other disciples to come in with the family. The first instance of this inner circle of three seen again on the Mount of Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane. The one article in the Greek treats the group as a unit.

Verse 38

Wailing greatly (αλαλαζοντας πολλαalalazontas polla). An onomatopoetic word from Pindar down. The soldiers on entering battle cried ΑλαλαAlāla Used of clanging cymbals (1 Corinthians 13:1). Like ολολυζωololuzō in James 5:1. It is used here of the monotonous wail of the hired mourners.

Verse 39

Make a tumult (τορυβειστεthorubeisthe). Middle voice. Jesus had dismissed one crowd (Mark 5:37), but finds the house occupied by the hired mourners making bedlam (τορυβοςthorubos) as if that showed grief with their ostentatious noise. Matthew 9:23 spoke of flute-players (αυληταςaulētas) and the hubbub of the excited throng (τορυβουμενονthoruboumenon Cf. Mark 14:2; Acts 20:1, Acts 21:34).

Mark, Matthew, and Luke all quote Jesus as saying that “the child is not dead, but sleepeth.” Jesus undoubtedly meant that she was not dead to stay dead, though some hold that the child was not really dead. It is a beautiful word (she is sleeping, κατευδειkatheudei) that Jesus uses of death.

Verse 40

And they laughed him to scorn (και κατεγελωνkai kategelōn). “They jeered at him” (Weymouth). Note imperfect tense. They kept it up. And note also κατkaṫ (perfective use). Exactly the same words in Matthew 9:24 and Luke 8:53. The loud laughter was ill suited to the solemn occasion. But Jesus on his part (αυτος δεautos de) took charge of the situation.

Taketh the father of the child and her mother and them that were with him (παραλαμβανει τον πατερα του παιδιου και την μητερα και τους μετ αυτουparalambanei ton patera tou paidiou kai tēn mētera kai tous met' autou). Having put out (εκβαλωνekbalōn) the rest by a stern assertion of authority as if he were master of the house, Jesus takes along with him these five and enters the chamber of death “where the child was” (οπου ην το παιδιονhopou ēn to paidion). He had to use pressure to make the hired mourners leave. The presence of some people will ruin the atmosphere for spiritual work.

Verse 41

Talitha cumi. These precious Aramaic words, spoken by Jesus to the child, Peter heard and remembered so that Mark gives them to us. Mark interprets the simple words into Greek for those who did not know Aramaic (το κορασιον εγειρεto korasion κορασιων egeire), that is, Damsel, arise. Mark uses the diminutive κορηkorasiōn a little girl, from η παισ εγειρεkorē girl. Braid Scots has it: “Lassie, wauken.” Luke 8:5-9 has it κρατησας της χειροςHē pais egeire Maiden, arise. All three Gospels mention the fact that Jesus took her by the hand, a touch of life (kratēsas tēs cheiros), giving confidence and help.

Verse 42

Rose up, and walked (ανεστη και περιεπατειanestē kai periepatei). Aorist tense (single act) followed by the imperfect (the walking went on).

For she was twelve years old (ην γαρ ετων δωδεκαēn gar etōn dōdeka). The age mentioned by Mark alone and here as explanation that she was old enough to walk.

Amazed (εχεστησανexestēsan). We have had this word before in Matthew 12:23 and Mark 2:12, which see. Here the word is repeated in the substantive in the associative instrumental case (εκστασει μεγαληιekstasei megalēi), with a great ecstasy, especially on the part of the parents (Luke 8:56), and no wonder.

Verse 43

That no one should know this (ινα μηδεις γνοι τουτοhina mēdeis gnoi touto). Second aorist active subjunctive, γνοιgnoi But would they keep still about it? There was the girl besides.

Both Mark and Luke note that Jesus ordered that food be given to the child given her to eat, (δοτηναι αυτηι παγεινdothēnai autēi phagein), a natural care of the Great Physician. Two infinitives here (first aorist passive and second aorist active). “She could walk and eat; not only alive, but well” (Bruce).


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 5:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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