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Chapter 12

12:1 He began to speak unto them in parables [ērxato autois en parabolais lalein]. Mark’s common idiom again. He does not mean that this was the beginning of Christ’s use of parables (see 4:2), but simply that his teaching on this occasion took the parabolic turn. “The circumstances called forth the parabolic mood, that of one whose heart is chilled, and whose spirit is saddened by a sense of loneliness, and who, retiring within himself, by a process of reflection, frames for his thoughts forms which half conceal, half reveal them” (Bruce). Mark does not give the Parable of the Two Sons (Mt 21:28-32) nor that of the Marriage Feast of the King’s Son (Mt 22:1-14). He gives here the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen. Also in Mt 21:33-46 and Lu 20:9-19. See discussion in Matthew. Mt 21:33 calls the man “a householder” [oikodespotēs]. A pit for the winepress [hupolēnion]. Only here in the N.T. Common in the LXX and in late Greek. Matthew had [lēnon], winepress. This is the vessel or trough under the winepress on the hillside to catch the juice when the grapes were trodden. The Romans called it lacus (lake) and Wycliff dalf (lake), like delved. See on Matthew for details just alike. Husbandmen [geōrgois]. Workers in the ground, tillers of the soil [ergon, gē].

12:2 At the season [tōi kairōi]. For fruits as in the end of the sentence. A servant [doulon]. Bondslave. Matthew has plural. That he might receive [hina labēi]. Purpose clause with second aorist subjunctive. Matthew has infinitive [labein], purpose also. Wounded in the head [ekephaliōsan]. An old verb [kephalaiō], to bring under heads [kephalē], to summarize. Then to hit on the head. Only here in the N.T.

12:5 Beating some and killing some [hous men derontes, hous de apoktennuntes]. This distributive use of the demonstrative appears also in Mt 21:35 in the singular [hon men, hon de, hon de]. Originally [derō] in Homer meant to skin, flay, then to smite, to beat. [Apoktennuntes] is a [mi] form of the verb [apoktennumi] and means to kill off.

12:6 A beloved son [huion agapēton]. Lu 20:13 has [ton huion ton agapēton]. Jesus evidently has in mind the language of the Father to him at his baptism (Mr 1:11; Mt 3:17; Lu 3:22). Last [eschaton]. Only in Mark. See on Mt 21:37 for discussion of “reverence.”

12:7 Among themselves [pros heautous]. This phrase alone in Mark. Lu 20:14 has “with one another” [pros allēlous], reciprocal instead of reflexive, pronoun.

12:7 Killed him and cast him forth [apekteinan auton, kai exebalon auton]. Matthew and Luke reverse the order, cast forth and killed.

12:10 This scripture [tēn graphēn tautēn]. This passage of scripture (Lu 4:21; Joh 19:37; Ac 1:16). It is a quotation from Ps 118:22f. See on Mt 21:42 for discussion.

12:11 This [hautē]. Feminine in LXX may refer to kephalē (head) or may be due to the Hebrew original zōth (this thing) which would be neuter [touto] in a Greek original, a translation Hebraism.

12:12 Against them [pros autous]. So Luke. It was a straight shot, this parable of the Rejected Stone (12:10f.) and the longer one of the Wicked Husbandmen. There was no mistaking the application, for he had specifically explained the application (Mt 21:43-45). The Sanhedrin were so angry that they actually started or sought to seize him, but fear of the populace now more enthusiastic for Jesus than ever held them back. They went off in disgust, but they had to listen to the Parable of the King’s Son before going (Mt 22:1-14).

12:13 That they might catch him in talk [hina auton agreusōsin logōi]. Ingressive aorist subjunctive. The verb is late from [agra] (a hunt or catching). It appears in the LXX and papyri. Here alone in the N.T. Lu 20:20 has the same idea, “that they may take hold of his speech” [epilabōntai autou logon] while Mt 22:15 uses [pagideusōsin] (to snare or trap). See discussion in Matthew. We have seen the scribes and Pharisees trying to do this very thing before (Lu 11:33f.). Mark and Matthew note here the combination of Pharisees and Herodians as Mark did in 3:6. Matthew speaks of “disciples” or pupils of the Pharisees while Luke calls them “spies” [enkathetous].

12:14 Shall we give or shall we not give? [dōmen ē mē dōmen;]. Mark alone repeats the question in this sharp form. The deliberative subjunctive, aorist tense active voice. For the discussion of the palaver and flattery of this group of theological students see on Mt 22:16-22.

12:15 Knowing their hypocrisy [eidōs autōn tēn hupocrisin]. Mt 22:17 has “perceived their wickedness” [gnous tēn ponērian autōn] while Lu 20:23 says, “perceived their craftiness” [katanoēsas autōn tēn panourgian]. Each of these words throws a flash-light on the spirit and attitude of these young men. They were sly, shrewd, slick, but they did not deceive Jesus with their pious palaver. See on Matthew for further details.

12:17 Marvelled greatly at him [exethaumazon ep’ autōi]. Imperfect tense with perfective use of the preposition [ex]. Both Matthew and Luke use the ingressive aorist. Luke adds that they “held their peace” [esigēsan] while Matthew notes that they “went their way” [apēlthan], went off or away.

12:17 There come unto him Sadducees [erchontai Saddoukaioi pros auton]. Dramatic present. The Pharisees and Herodians had had their turn after the formal committee of the Sanhedrin had been so completely routed. It was inevitable that they should feel called upon to show their intellectual superiority to these raw Pharisaic and Herodian theologians. See on Mt 22:23-33 for discussion of details. It was a good time to air their disbelief in the resurrection at the expense of the Pharisees and to score against Jesus where the Sanhedrin and then the Pharisees and Herodians had failed so ignominiously.

12:19 Moses wrote [Mōusēs egrapsen]. So Lu 20:27 (Ge 38:8; De. 25:5f.). Matthew has “said” [eipen].

12:20 Took a wife [elaben gunaika]. So Lu 20:29. Matthew has “married” [gēmas].

12:22 Last of all [eschaton pantōn]. Adverbial use of [eschaton].

12:23 To wife [gunaika]. Predicate accusative in apposition with “her” [autēn]. So Luke, but Matthew merely has “had her” [eschon autēn], constative aorist indicative active.

12:24 Is it not for this cause that ye err? [Ou dia touto planāsthe;]. Mark puts it as a question with [ou] expecting the affirmative answer. Matthew puts it as a positive assertion: “Ye are.” [Planaomai] is to wander astray (cf. our word planet, wandering stars, [asteres planētai], Jude 1:13) like the Latin errare (our error, err). That ye know not the scriptures [mē eidotes tas graphas]. The Sadducees posed as men of superior intelligence and knowledge in opposition to the traditionalists among the Pharisees with their oral law. And yet on this very point they were ignorant of the Scriptures. How much error today is due to this same ignorance among the educated! Nor the power of God [mēde tēn dunamin tou theou]. The two kinds of ignorance generally go together (cf. 1Co 15:34).

12:25 When they shall rise from the dead [hotan ek nekrōn anastōsin]. Second aorist active subjunctive with [hotan] [hote] plus [an]. Mt 22:30 has it “in the resurrection,” Lu 20:35 “to attain to the resurrection.” The Pharisees regarded the future resurrection body as performing marriage functions, as Mohammedans do today. The Pharisees were in error on this point. The Sadducees made this one of their objections to belief in the resurrection body, revealing thus their own ignorance of the true resurrection body and the future life where marriage functions do not exist. As angels in heaven [hōs aggeloi en tōi ouranōi]. So Mt 22:30. Lu 20:36 has “equal unto the angels” [isaggeloi]. “Their equality with angels consists in their deliverance from mortality and its consequences” (Swete). The angels are directly created, not procreated.

12:26 In the place concerning the Bush [epi tou batou]. This technical use of [epi] is good Greek, in the matter of, in the passage about, the Bush. [Batos] is masculine here, feminine in Lu 20:37. The reference is to Ex 3:3-6 (in the book of Moses, [en tēi biblōi].

12:27 Ye do greatly err [polu planāsthe]. Only in Mark. Solemn, severe, impressive, but kindly close (Bruce).

12:27 Heard them questioning together [akousas autōn sunzētountōn]. The victory of Christ over the Sadducees pleased the Pharisees who now had come back with mixed emotions over the new turn of things (Mt 22:34). Lu 20:39 represents one of the scribes as commending Jesus for his skilful reply to the Sadducees. Mark here puts this scribe in a favourable light, “knowing that he had answered them well” [eidōs hoti kalōs apekrithē autois]. “Them” here means the Sadducees. But Mt 22:35 says that this lawyer [nomikos] was “tempting” [peirazōn] by his question. “A few, among whom was the scribe, were constrained to admire, even if they were willing to criticize, the Rabbi who though not himself a Pharisee, surpassed the Pharisees as a champion of the truth.” That is a just picture of this lawyer. The first of all [prōtē pantōn]. First in rank and importance. Mt 22:36 has “great” [megalē]. See discussion there. Probably Jesus spoke in Aramaic. “First” and “great” in Greek do not differ essentially here. Mark quotes De 6:4f. as it stands in the LXX and also Le 19:18. Mt 22:40 adds the summary: “On these two commandments hangeth [krematai] the whole law and the prophets.”

12:32 And the scribe said [eipen autōi ho grammateus]. Mark alone gives the reply of the scribe to Jesus which is a mere repetition of what Jesus had said about the first and the second commandments with the additional allusion to 1Sa 15:22 about love as superior to whole burnt offerings. Well [kalōs]. Not to be taken with “saidst” [eipes] as the Revised Version has it following Wycliff. Probably [kalōs] (well) is exclamatory. “Fine, Teacher. Of a truth [ep’ alētheias] didst thou say.”

12:34 Discreetly [nounechōs]. From [nous] (intellect) and [echō], to have. Using the mind to good effect is what the adverb means. He had his wits about him, as we say. Here only in the N.T. In Aristotle and Polybius. [Nounechontōs] would be the more regular form, adverb from a participle. Not far [ou makran]. Adverb, not adjective, feminine accusative, a long way [hodon] understood). The critical attitude of the lawyer had melted before the reply of Jesus into genuine enthusiasm that showed him to be near the kingdom of God. No man after that [oudeis ouketi]. Double negative. The debate was closed [etolma], imperfect tense, dared). Jesus was complete victor on every side.

12:35 How say the scribes [Pōs legousin hoi grammateis]. The opponents of Jesus are silenced, but he answers them and goes on teaching [didaskōn] in the temple as before the attacks began that morning (11:27). They no longer dare to question Jesus, but he has one to put to them “while the Pharisees were gathered together” (Mt 22:41). The question is not a conundrum or scriptural puzzle (Gould), but “He contents himself with pointing out a difficulty, in the solution of which lay the key to the whole problem of His person and work” (Swete). The scribes all taught that the Messiah was to be the son of David (Joh 7:41). The people in the Triumphal Entry had acclaimed Jesus as the son of David (Mt 21:9). But the rabbis had overlooked the fact that David in Ps 110:1 called the Messiah his Lord also. The deity and the humanity of the Messiah are both involved in the problem. Mt 22:45 observes that “no one was able to answer him a word.”

12:36 The footstool [hupopodion]. Westcott and Hort read [hupokatō] (under) after Aleph B D L.

12:37 The common people heard him gladly [ho polus ochlos ēkouen autou hedeōs]. Literally, the much multitude (the huge crowd) was listening (imperfect tense) to him gladly. Mark alone has this item. The Sanhedrin had begun the formal attack that morning to destroy the influence of Jesus with the crowds whose hero he now was since the Triumphal Entry. It had been a colossal failure. The crowds were drawn closer to him than before.

12:37 Beware of the scribes [blepete apo tōn grammateōn]. Jesus now turns to the multitudes and to his disciples (Mt 23:1) and warns them against the scribes and the Pharisees while they are still there to hear his denunciation. The scribes were the professional teachers of the current Judaism and were nearly all Pharisees. Mark (Mr 14:38-40) gives a mere summary sketch of this bold and terrific indictment as preserved in Mt 23 in words that fairly blister today. Lu 20:45-47 follows Mark closely. See Mt 8:15 for this same use of [blepete apo] with the ablative. It is usually called a translation-Hebraism, a usage not found with [blepō] in the older Greek. But the papyri give it, a vivid vernacular idiom. “Beware of the Jews” [blepe saton apo tōn Ioudaiōn], Berl. G. U. 1079. A.D. 41). See Robertson, Grammar, p. 577. The pride of the pompous scribes is itemized by Mark: To walk in long robes [stolais], stoles, the dress of dignitaries like kings and priests. Salutations in the marketplaces [aspasmous en tais agorais], where the people could see their dignity recognized.

12:39 First seats in the synagogues [prōtokathedrias]. As a mark of special piety, seats up in front while now the hypocrites present in church prefer the rear seats. Chief places at feasts [prōtoklisias en tois deipnois]. Recognizing proper rank and station. Even the disciples fall victims to this desire for precedence at table (Lu 22:24).

12:40 Devour widows’ houses [hoi katesthontes tās oikias tōn chērōn]. New sentence in the nominative. Terrible pictures of civil wrong by graft grabbing the homes of helpless widows. They inveigled widows into giving their homes to the temple and took it for themselves. For a pretence make long prayers [prophasei makra proseuchomenoi]. [Prophasei] instrumental case of the same word [prophēmi] from which prophet comes, but here pretext, pretence of extra piety while robbing the widows and pushing themselves to the fore. Some derive it from [prophainō], to show forth. Greater [perissoteron]. More abundant condemnation. Some comfort in that at any rate.

12:41 Sat down over against the treasury [kathisas katenanti tou gazophulakiou]. The storm is over. The Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, scribes, have all slunk away in terror ere the closing words. Mark draws this immortal picture of the weary Christ sitting by the treasury (compound word in the LXX from [gaza], Persian word for treasure, and [phulakē], guard, so safe for gifts to be deposited). Beheld [etheōrei]. Imperfect tense. He was watching how the multitude cast money [pōs ho ochlos ballei] into the treasury. The rich were casting in [eballon], imperfect tense) as he watched.

12:42 One poor widow [mia chēra ptōchē]. Luke has [penichra], a poetical late form of [penēs]. In the N.T. the [ptōchos] is the pauper rather than the mere peasant, the extreme opposite of the rich [plousioi]. The money given by most was copper [chalkon]. Two mites [duo lepta]. [Leptos] means peeled or stripped and so very thin. Two [lepta] were about two-fifths of a cent. Farthing [kodrantes], Latin quadrans, a quarter of an as).

12:43 Called unto him [proskalesamenos]. Indirect middle voice. The disciples themselves had slipped away from him while the terrific denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees had gone on, puzzled at this turn of affairs. More than all [pleion pantōn]. Ablative of comparison [pantōn]. It may mean, more than all the rich put together. All that she had [panta hosa eichen]. Imperfect tense. Cast in [ebalen]. Aorist tense, in sharp contrast. All her living [holon ton bion autēs]. Her livelihood [bios], not her life [zōē]. It is a tragedy to see a stingy saint pose as giving the widow’s mite when he could give thousands instead of pennies.

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