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Chapter 9

9:1 Till they see the kingdom of God come with power [heōs an idōsin tēn basileian tou theou elēluthuian en dunamei]. In 8:37 Jesus clearly is speaking of the second coming. To what is he referring in 9:1? One is reminded of Mr 13:32; Mt 24:36 where Jesus expressly denies that anyone save the Father himself (not even the Son) knows the day or the hour. Does he contradict that here? It may be observed that Luke has only “see the kingdom of God,” while Matthew has “see the Son of man coming” [erchomenon], present participle, a process). Mark has “see the kingdom of God come” [elēluthuian], perfect active participle, already come) and adds “with power.” Certainly the second coming did not take place while some of those standing there still lived. Did Jesus mean that? The very next incident in the Synoptic Gospels is the Transfiguration on Mount Hermon. Does not Jesus have that in mind here? The language will apply also to the coming of the Holy Spirit on the great Day of Pentecost. Some see in it a reference to the destruction of the temple. It is at least open to question whether the Master is speaking of the same event in Mr 8:38; 9:1.

9:2 By themselves [monous]. Alone. This word only in Mark. See on Mt 17:1-7 for discussion of the Transfiguration. Lu 9:27 adds “to pray” as the motive of Jesus in taking Peter, James, and John into the high mountain.

9:3 Glistering, exceeding white [stilbonta leuka lian]. Old words, all of them. Mt 17:2 has white as the light [leuka hōs to phōs], Lu 9:29 “white and dazzling” [leukos exastraptōn] like lightning. So as no fuller on earth can whiten them [hoia gnapheus epi tēs gēs ou dunatai houtōs leukānai]. [Gnaphō] is an old word to card wool. Note [houtōs], so, so white. Some manuscripts in Matthew add [hōs chiōn], as snow. Probably the snow-capped summit of Hermon was visible on this very night. See on Mt 17:2 for “transfigured.”

9:4 Elijah with Moses [Eleias sun Mōusei]. Matthew and Luke have “Moses and Elijah.” Both, as a matter of fact were prophets and both dealt with law. Both had mysterious deaths. The other order in Mr 9:5.

9:6 For he wist not what to answer [ou gar ēidei ti apokrithēi]. Deliberative subjunctive retained in indirect question. But why did Peter say anything? Luke says that he spoke, “not knowing what he said,” as an excuse for the inappropriateness of his remarks. Perhaps Peter felt embarrassed at having been asleep (Lu 9:32) and the feast of tabernacles or booths [skēnai] was near. See on Mt 17:4. Peter and the others apparently had not heard the talk of Moses and Elijah with Jesus about his decease [exodon], exodus, departure) and little knew the special comfort that Jesus had found in this understanding of the great approaching tragedy concerning which Peter had shown absolute stupidity (Mr 8:32f.) so recently. See on Mt 17:5 about the overshadowing and the voice.

9:7 Suddenly looking round about [exapina periblepsamenoi]. Mt 17:7 has it “lifting up their eyes.” Mark is more graphic. The sudden glance around on the mountain side when the cloud with Moses and Elijah was gone. Jesus only with themselves [meth’ heautōn ei mē Iēsoun monon]. Mark shows their surprise at the situation. They were sore afraid (Mt 17:6) before Jesus touched them.

9:9 Save when [ei mē hotan]. Matthew has “until” [heōs hou]. Should have risen [anastēi]. Second aorist active subjunctive. More exactly, “should rise” (punctiliar aorist and futuristic, not with any idea of perfect tense). Lu 9:36 merely says that they told no man any of these things. It was a high and holy secret experience that the chosen three had had for their future good and for the good of all.

9:10 They kept the saying [ton logon ekratēsan] to themselves as Jesus had directed, but questioning among themselves [pros heautous sunzētountes]. Now they notice his allusion to rising from the dead which had escaped them before (Mr 8:31).

9:12 Restoreth all things [apokatistanei panta]. This late double compound verb, usual form [apokathistēmi] in the papyri, is Christ’s description of the Baptist as the promised Elijah and Forerunner of the Messiah. See on Mt 17:10-13. The disciples had not till now understood that the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy in Mal 3:5f. They had just seen Elijah on the mountain, but Jesus as Messiah preceded this coming of Elijah. But Jesus patiently enlightens his dull pupils as they argue about the exegesis of the scribes.

9:14 And scribes questioning with them [kai grammateis sunzētountes pros autous]. Mark alone gives this item. He is much fuller on this incident (9:14-29) than either Matthew (Mt 17:14-20) or Luke (Lu 9:37-43). It was just like the professional scribes to take keen interest in the failure of the nine disciples to cure this poor boy. They gleefully nagged and quizzed them. Jesus and the three find them at it when they arrive in the plain.

9:15 Were greatly amazed [exethambēthēsan]. First aorist passive ingressive aorist with perfective compound [ex-]. The sudden and opportune appearance of Jesus in the midst of the dispute when no one was looking for him turned all eyes to him. He would not fail, however the disciples might do so. The people were awed for the moment and then running began to welcome him [protrechontes ēspazonto]. Present participle and imperfect middle indicative.

9:16 What question ye with them? [Ti sunzēteite pros autous;]. Jesus had noticed the embarrassment of the nine and at once takes hold of the situation.

9:17 I brought unto thee my son [ēnegka ton huion mou pros se]. The father stepped out and gave the explanation of the excited dispute in direct and simple pathos.

9:17 Wheresoever it taketh him [hopou ean auton katalabēi]. Seizes him down. Our word catalepsy is this same word. The word is used by Galen and Hippocrates for fits. The word is very common in the papyri in various senses as in the older Greek. Each of the verbs here in Mark is a graphic picture. Dashes down [rēssei]. Also [rēgnumi, mi] form. Convulses, rends, tears asunder. Old and common word. Foameth [aphrizei]. Here only in the N.T. Poetic and late word. Grindeth [trizei]. Another hapax legomenon in the N.T. Old word for making a shrill cry or squeak. Pineth away [xērainetai]. Old word for drying or withering as of grass in Jas 1:11. And they were not able [kai ouk ischusan]. They did not have the strength [ischus] to handle this case. See Mt 17:16; Lu 9:40 [kai ouk ēdunēthēsan], first aorist passive). It was a tragedy.

9:19 Bring him unto me [pherete auton pros me]. The disciples had failed and their unbelief had led to this fiasco. Even the disciples were like and part of the faithless [apistos], unbelieving) generation in which they lived. The word faithless does not here mean treacherous as it does with us. But Jesus is not afraid to undertake this case. We can always come to Jesus when others fail us.

9:20 Tare him grievously [sunesparaxen auton]. Lu 9:42 has both [errēxen] (dashed down, like Mr 9:18, [rēssei] and [sunesparaxen] (convulsed). This compound with [sun-] (together with), strengthens the force of the verb as in [sunpnigō] (Mr 4:7) and [suntēreō] (6:20). The only other instance of this compound verb known is in Maximus Tyrius (second century B.C.). Wallowed [ekulieto]. Imperfect passive, was rolled. A pitiful sight. Late form of the old [kulindō].

9:22 But if thou canst [all ’ei ti dunēi]. Jesus had asked (verse 21) the history of the case like a modern physician. The father gave it and added further pathetic details about the fire and the water. The failure of the disciples had not wholly destroyed his faith in the power of Jesus, though the conditional form (first class, assuming it to be true) does suggest doubt whether the boy can be cured at all. It was a chronic and desperate case of epilepsy with the demon possession added. Help us [boethēson hemin]. Ingressive aorist imperative. Do it now. With touching tenderness he makes the boy’s case his own as the Syrophoenician woman had said, “Have mercy on me” (Mt 15:21). The leper had said: “If thou wilt” (Mr 1:40). This father says: “If thou canst.”

9:23 If thou canst [to ei dunēi]. The Greek has a neat idiom not preserved in the English translation. The article takes up the very words of the man and puts the clause in the accusative case of general reference. “As to the ‘if thou canst,’ all things can [dunata] to the one who believes.” The word for “possible” is [dunata], the same root as [dunēi] (canst). This quick turn challenges the father’s faith. On this use of the Greek article see Robertson, Grammar, p. 766.

9:24 Cried out [kraxas]. Loud outcry and at once [euthus]. The later manuscripts have “with tears” [meta dakruōn], not in the older documents. I believe; help my unbelief [Pisteuō: boēthei tēi apistiāi]. An exact description of his mental and spiritual state. He still had faith, but craved more. Note present imperative here (continuous help) [boēthei], while aorist imperative (instant help) [boēthēson], verse 22. The word comes from [boē], a cry and [theō], to run, to run at a cry for help, a vivid picture of this father’s plight.

9:25 A multitude came running together [episuntrechei ochlos]. A double compound here alone in the N.T. and not in the old Greek writers. [Epitrechō] occurs in the papyri, but not [episuntrechō]. The double compound vividly describes the rapid gathering of the crowd to Jesus and the epileptic boy to see the outcome. Come out of him [exelthe ex autou]. Jesus addresses the demon as a separate being from the boy as he often does. This makes it difficult to believe that Jesus was merely indulging popular belief in a superstition. He evidently regards the demon as the cause in this case of the boy’s misfortune.

9:26 Having torn much [sparaxas]. The uncompounded verb used in verse 20. Became as one dead [egeneto hōsei nekros]. As if dead from the violence of the spasm. The demon did him all possible harm in leaving him.

9:27 Privately, saying [kat’ idian hoti]. Indoors the nine disciples seek an explanation for their colossal failure. They had cast out demons and wrought cures before. The Revisers are here puzzled over Mark’s use of [hoti] as an interrogative particle meaning why where Mt 17:19 has [dia ti]. Some of the manuscripts have [dia ti] here in Mr 9:27 as all do in Mt 17:19. See also Mr 2:16 and 9:11. It is probable that in these examples [hoti] really means why. See Robertson, Grammar, p. 730. The use of [hos] as interrogative “is by no means rare in the late Greek” (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 126).

9:29 Save by prayer [ei mē en proseuchēi]. The addition of “and of fasting” does not appear in the two best Greek manuscripts (Aleph and B). It is clearly a late addition to help explain the failure. But it is needless and also untrue. Prayer is what the nine had failed to use. They were powerless because they were prayerless. Their self-complacency spelled defeat. Mt 17:20 has “because of your little faith” [oligopistian]. That is true also. They had too much faith in themselves, too little in Christ. “They had trusted to the semi-magical power with which they thought themselves invested” (Swete). “Spirits of such malignity were quick to discern the lack of moral power and would yield to no other” (ibid.).

9:30 He would not that any man should know it [ouk ēthelen hina tis gnoi]. Imperfect tense followed by ingressive aorist subjunctive [gnoi = gnōi], the usual form). He was not willing that any one should learn it. Back in Galilee Jesus was, but he was avoiding public work there now (cf. 7:24). He was no longer the hero of Galilee. He had left Caesarea Philippi for Galilee.

9:31 For he taught [edidasken gar]. Imperfect tense, and the reason given for secrecy. He was renewing again definitely the prediction of his death in Jerusalem some six months ahead as he had done before (Mr 8:31; Mt 16:21; Lu 9:22). Now as then Jesus foretells his resurrection “after three days” (“the third day,” Mt 17:23).

9:32 But they understood not the saying [hoi de ēgnooun to rhēma]. An old word. Chiefly in Paul’s Epistles in the N.T. Imperfect tense. They continued not to understand. They were agnostics on the subject of the death and resurrection even after the Transfiguration experience. As they came down from the mountain they were puzzled again over the Master’s allusion to his resurrection (Mr 9:10). Mt 17:23 notes that “they were exceeding sorry” to hear Jesus talk this way again, but Mark adds that they “were afraid to ask him” [ephobounto auton eperōtēsai]. Continued to be afraid (imperfect tense), perhaps with a bitter memory of the term “Satan” hurled at Peter when he protested the other time when Jesus spoke of his death (Mr 8:33; Mt 16:23). Lu 9:45 explains that “it was concealed from them,” probably partly by their own preconceived ideas and prejudices.

9:33 In the house [en tēi oikiāi]. Probably Peter’s house in Capernaum which was the home of Jesus when in the city. What were ye reasoning in the way? [Ti en tēi hodōi dielogiszethe;]. Imperfect tense. They had been disputing (verse 34), not about the coming death of the Master, but about the relative rank of each of them in the political kingdom which they were expecting him to establish. Jesus had suspected the truth about them and they had apparently kept it up in the house. See on Mt 18:1 where the disciples are represented as bringing the dispute to Jesus while here Jesus asks them about it. Probably they asked Jesus first and then he pushed the matter further and deeper to see if this had not been the occasion of the somewhat heated discussion on the way in.

9:34 But they held their peace [Hoi de esiōpōn]. Imperfect tense. Put thus to them, they felt ashamed that the Master had discovered their jealous rivalry. It was not a mere abstract query, as they put it to Jesus, but it was a canker in their hearts.

9:35 He sat down and called the twelve [kathisas ephōnēsen tous dōdeka]. Deliberate action of Jesus to handle this delicate situation. Jesus gives them the rule of greatness: “If any man would be first [prōtos] he shall be last [eschatos] of all, and minister [diakonos] of all.” This saying of Christ, like many others, he repeated at other times (Mr 10:43f.; Mt 23:8ff.; Lu 22:24f.). Mt 18:2 says that he called a little child, one there in the house, perhaps Peter’s child. Lu 9:47 notes that he “set him by his side.” Then Jesus taking him in his arms [enagkalisamenos], aorist middle participle, late Greek word from [agkalē] as in Lu 2:28) spoke again to the disciples.

9:37 One of such little children [hen tōn toioutōn paidiōn]. Mt 18:5 has “one such little child” and Lu 9:47 “this little child.” It was an object lesson to the arrogant conceit of the twelve apostles contending for primacy. They did not learn this lesson for they will again wrangle over primacy (Mr 10:33-45; Mt 20:20-28) and they will be unable to comprehend easily what the attitude of Jesus was toward children (Mr 10:13-16; Mt 19:13-15; Lu 8:15-17). The child was used as a rebuke to the apostles.

9:37 Because he followed not us [hoti ouk ēkolouthei hēmin]. Note vivid imperfect tense again. John evidently thought to change the subject from the constraint and embarrassment caused by their dispute. So he told about a case of extra zeal on his part expecting praise from Jesus. Perhaps what Jesus had just said in verse 37 raised a doubt in John’s mind as to the propriety of his excessive narrowness. One needs to know the difference between loyalty to Jesus and stickling over one’s own narrow prejudices.

9:39 Forbid him not [mē kōluete]. Stop hindering him [] and the present-imperative) as John had been doing.

9:40 He that is not against us is with us [hos ouk estin kath’ hēmōn huper hēmōn estin]. This profound saying throws a flood of light in every direction. The complement of this logion is that in Mt 12:30: “He that is not with me is against me.” Both are needed. Some people imagine that they are really for Christ who refuse to take a stand in the open with him and for him.

9:41 Because ye are Christ’s [hoti Christou este]. Predicate genitive, belong to Christ. See Ro 8:9; 1Co 1:12; 2Co 10:7. That is the bond of universal brotherhood of the redeemed. It breaks over the lines of nation, race, class, sex, everything. No service is too small, even a cup of cold water, if done for Christ’s sake. See on Mt 18:6f. for discussion on stumbling-blocks for these little ones that believe on Jesus (Mr 9:42), a loving term of all believers, not just children.

9:43 Into hell, into the unquenchable fire [eis tēn geennan, eis to p–r to asbeston]. Not Hades, but Gehenna. [Asbeston] is alpha privative and [sbestos] from [sbennumi] to quench. It occurs often in Homer. Our word asbestos is this very word. Mt 18:7 has “into the eternal fire.” The Valley of Hinnom had been desecrated by the sacrifice of children to Moloch so that as an accursed place it was used for the city garbage where worms gnawed and fires burned. It is thus a vivid picture of eternal punishment.

9:44 The oldest and best manuscripts do not give these two verses. They came in from the Western and Syrian (Byzantine) classes. They are a mere repetition of verse 48. Hence we lose the numbering 44 and 46 in our verses which are not genuine.

9:46 See on 44

9:47 With one eye [monophthalmon]. Literally one-eyed. See also Mt 18:9. Vernacular Koinē and condemned by the Atticists. See Mt 18:8f. Mark has here “kingdom of God” where Mt 18:9 has “life.”

9:47 Their worm [ho skōlēx autōn]. “The worm, i.e. that preys upon the inhabitants of this dread realm” (Gould). Two bold figures of Gehenna combined (the gnawing worm, the burning flame). No figures of Gehenna can equal the dread reality which is here described. See Isa 66:24.

9:50 Have salt in yourselves [echete en heautois hala]. Jesus had once called them the salt of the earth (Mt 5:13) and had warned them against losing the saltness of the salt. If it is [analon], nothing can season [artuō] it and it is of no use to season anything else. It is like an exploded shell, a burnt-out crater, a spent force. This is a warning for all Christians.

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