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The Gospel According to Mark: Chapter 9

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1And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with a Other ancient authorities read of the kingdom power.”

2Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one b Or is at hand on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, c Or A new teaching! With authority he one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; d Other ancient authorities read he listen to him!” 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

9As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. 11Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 12He said to them, “Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? 13But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.”

14When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. 16He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; 18and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.” 19He answered them, “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.” 20And they brought the boy e The terms leper and leprosy can refer to several diseases to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, a Other ancient authorities lack kneeling and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21Jesus b Other ancient authorities read anger asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” 23Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” 24Immediately the father of the child cried out, c Gk he “I believe; help my unbelief‐!” 25When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!” 26After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. 28When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29He said to them, “This kind can come out only through prayer.” d Gk they

30They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

33Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

38John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone e Gk He casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40Whoever is not against us is for us. 41For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

42“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, f Gk reclined it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, g Gk his to the unquenchable fire. h Gk reclining 45And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. a Other ancient authorities read and , b Other ancient authorities add and drink 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, a Other ancient authorities read and 48where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

49“For everyone will be salted with fire. c Gk they 50Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? d Other ancient authorities lack but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”


e Other ancient authorities read of the kingdom

f Or is at hand

a Or A new teaching! With authority he

b Other ancient authorities read he

a The terms leper and leprosy can refer to several diseases

b Other ancient authorities lack kneeling

c Other ancient authorities read anger

d Gk he

e Gk they

a Gk He

b Gk reclined

c Gk his

d Gk reclining

e Other ancient authorities read and

f Other ancient authorities add and drink

g Gk they

h Other ancient authorities lack but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins

Text Commentary view alone
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

5.13–20 .

13–16 (Mk 9.49–50; Lk 14.34–35):

Salt loses taste by admixture, becoming impure.

14 :

Reflects Isaiah's imperative ( 2.2–5; 42.6; 49.6 ) to be a light to the nations.

17–20 :

Law and prophets * ” frames the Sermon (see 7.12 ); law is Torah * (Pentateuch * ); the prophetic writings contain history (Joshua–2 Kings) and oracles * (Isaiah–Malachi).

19 :

Jesus does not abrogate but intensifies Torah.

20 :

Scribes * and Pharisees * epitomize righteousness (see 23.2 ); Jesus' followers must be even more righteous.

5.21–42 :

The antitheses * insist that behavior match intent.

21 :

Reflects Ex 20.13; Deut 5.17 .

23–24 :

Matthew presumes the validity of Temple * sacrifice.

27 :

Reflects Ex 20.14; Deut 5.18 .

29–30 (Mk 9.43–48):

The comment on physical mutilation is hyperbolic. *

31–32 (Mk 10.11–12; Lk 16.18):

Jesus forbids divorce (see Mal 2.14–16 ) on the basis of Gen 2.24 , not because of abuse of the practice or because of a particular concern for the economic fate of the woman; indeed, Jewish women had marriage contracts that gave them some financial compensation in cases of divorce. Unchastity (Gk. “porneia”), an exception recorded only by Matthew, may refer to incestuous marriages contracted by gentile * converts (see Lev 17–18 ), to any sexual crime, or to adultery; see Mt 19.9 .

33–37 :

See Lev 19.12; Num 30.2; Deut 23.21; Mt 23.16–20 .

38–42 (Lk 6.29–30):

May refer to forms of social protest, the active response of a disempowered people (right cheek implies backhanded blows; nakedness in the court is not desirable; Romans permitted conscription of a person for a set distance; going the extra miles could compromise the soldier's ability or preserve another from the burden).

38 :

See Ex 21.23–24; Lev 24.19–20; Deut 19.21 . Rabbinic sources also argue against such retaliation.

8.14–22 .

14–15 (Mk 1.30–31; Lk 4.38–39):

Peter's mother-in-law “serves”; the term derives from the Greek term for “deacon.” Peter's wife is not mentioned.

15–17 (Mk 1.32–34; Lk 4.40–41):

Another fulfillment citation; prior to the Gospels, this passage, like many other fulfillment citations, was not viewed as referring to the messiah. *

17 :

See Isa 53.4 . Matthew lacks Mark's commands for the demons' silence.

18–22 (Mk 4.35; Lk 8.22; 9.57–60):

Itinerancy marks Jesus' mission and that of his followers (see ch. 10 ).

19 :

Teacher is used by those who are not disciples; in Matthew, Jesus calls disciples; followers do not apply for the position.

20 :

Son of Man means “human being” (Ezek 37 ), but it also carries divine connotations (Dan 7.13–14 ).

21–22 :

Jesus' saying shocks; nothing, not even one's own family, takes precedence over service to him.

14.1–12 (Mk 6.14–29; Lk 9.7–9 ):

The death of John the Baptist. The story is told in retrospect. Herod and Herodias parallel Ahab and Jezebel; John is equated with their opponent Elijah.

3 :

Herodias had been married to Antipas's half-brother; the relationship was incestuous (Lev 18.16; 20.21 ).

5 :

Matthew's Herod more actively seeks John's death; Mk 6.17–28 emphasizes that Herod is manipulated by Herodias.

6 :

Josephus * names the daughter Salome. She is a young girl (Gr., “Korasion”), not a physically mature woman, as she is often depicted in movies. Her dance is not described as lewd. Josephus confirms that Herod Antipas executed the Baptist, but he presents the execution as a preemptive strike lest John's rousing sermons incite the people to rebellion.

14.13–21 (Mk 6.30–44; Lk 9.10–17; Jn 6.1–13):

Feeding the 5,000. Notice the contrast between the wilderness feeding and Antipas's dinner party. Sea crossing, wilderness setting, hungry crowds, and miraculous food remind one of Israel's Sinai experience and Elisha's miraculous meal (2 Kings 4.42–44 ). The scene also prefigures the last supper and the messianic banquet.

21 :

Matthew makes special note of women and children.

16.13–20 (Mk 8.27–33; Lk 9.18–22):

Peter's confession. Caesarea Philippi, formerly Paneas, was on the border between Jewish and gentile * territory and had a large temple built by Herod the Great and dedicated to Caesar Augustus; see comment on Mk 8.27 .

17–19 :

Unique to Matthew and consistent with Matthew's particular interest in church structure and community organization.

17 :

Jesus addresses Peter directly. Revealed (Gk., “apokalypto”) suggests divine disclosure.

18 :

Peter (Gk., “Petros”) means “rock” or “stone” (Gk., “petra”), as in “petrified.” In Aramaic, * both nouns are pronounced “Kepha” (see Gal 2.9 , Cephas). Church (Gk., “ekklesia”) appears in the Gospels only here and 18.17 .

19 :

Keys represent teaching and administrative authority (Isa 22.20–25 ). Bind and loose in rabbinic literature mean, respectively, forbid and permit.

16.21–28 :

Passion predictions ( 17.22–23; 20.17–19; 26.2 ).

21 :

The first of four predictions. Jesus' death is divinely willed.

23 :

Get behind me is also a discipleship posture (see 4.19 ). While the cross is a stumbling block (Gk., “skandalon”) to those outside the church, Peter here is the stumbling block for refusing to accept it.

24–28 (Mk 8.34–9.1; Lk 9.23–27):

The true disciples will follow their master; Jesus predicts not just his passion, but theirs.

27 :

Matthew emphasizes action, not (empty) confession.

27–28 :

Likely refers to the parousia, * the return of Jesus to judge the world (see 1 Thess 4.15–18 ), although Mt 28.20 suggests that Jesus never leaves his church.

17.14–27 .

14–21 (Mk 9.14–29; Lk 9.37–42):

The epileptic child.

15 :

See 15.22; 20.30–31 . The child is literally “moonstruck.” Here and elsewhere, Jesus frequently heals children; “children” will become a metaphor * for members of the church.

20 :

See 21.21–22 .

22–23 (Mk 9.30–32; Lk 9.43–45):

The second passion prediction.

22 :

“Betray” is better translated “hand over”; the passive voice suggests divine initiative. Although Judas remains culpable, Jesus' death is part of the divine plan for salvation.

24–27 :

Paying the half-shekel * tax for Temple * upkeep, derived from Neh 10.32–39 (see Ex 30.11–16 ), was debated in Second Temple Judaism: Some believed it should be paid annually; others argued for a one-time donation. After 70 CE, Rome imposed the humiliating two-drachma tax (the “Fiscus ludaicus”) on Jews for the upkeep of a temple to Jupiter.

26 :

Jesus advises payment for the sake of community peace.

1.40–2.12 .

40–44 (Mt 8.2–4; Lk 5.12–14):

The leper. Leprosy referred to a variety of skin diseases; clean indicates both healing and ritual purity required for re-entry into society. Only priests could pronounce lepers clean; the leper does not obey Jesus' commands either for silence or for priestly pronouncement.

45 :

Jesus' popularity as a healer interferes with his preaching.

2.1–12 (Mt 9.1–8; Lk 5.17–26):

The paralytic.

5 :

Granting forgiveness of sins was a divine prerogative.

9 :

The saying appears in a different context in Jn 5.8 .

10 :

The title Son of Man has both human (“mortal”) (Ezek 37.3 ) and superhuman (Dan 7.13–14, 1 Enoch * 37–71 ) connotations. Enigmatic like the parables, * the title requires hearers to determine the meaning for themselves.

2.13–17 (Mt 9.9–13; Lk 5.27–32):

Tax collectors and sinners. Levi is called Matthew in Mt 9.9 . Tax collectors were despised as Roman collaborators and extortionists. Sinners are those who deliberately place themselves apart from observance of Torah; * Mark does not see all people as in a sinful state.

16 :

Pharisees * were a branch of Judaism dedicated to interpreting biblical law, likely including the extension of the sanctity of the Temple * to the home (including the table); rivals of the early followers of Jesus, they are frequently negatively depicted in Christian texts.

2.18–22 (Mt 9.14–17; Lk 5.33–39):

New practices. Although John acknowledged Jesus' worthiness, he retained his own disciples. Fasting, a traditional form of Jewish piety, is adopted by Jesus' followers after the crucifixion ( 2.20 ).

19 :

Bridegroom and wedding imagery suggest times of exceptional joy.

21–22 :

Jesus' gospel represents the new wine; neither old nor new teachings are lost.

5.21–43 (Mt 9.18–26; Lk 8.40–56):

Two women healed.

25 :

The hemorrhages are likely vaginal or uterine bleeding.

28 :

She may have regarded Jesus as a magician.

31 :

The disciples again fail to understand ( 4.41; 6.37, 52 ).

34 :

Made well is the same term as “saved.” For Mark, faith is the prerequisite for healing.

41 :

The Aramaic * may have sounded to Mark's Greek audience like a magical incantation.

42 :

The girl's age matches the years of the woman's illness; the girl is on the verge of menarche and marriage; the woman can now bear children. Mark frames one story with the other so that they become mutually informing; the same rhetorical * technique appears in 6.7–30 : The disciples' mission frames the Baptist's death.

6.7–13 (Mt 10.1, 9–11; Lk 9.1–6):

Missionary instructions.

7 :

Contrasts with Matthew's lack of mission and Luke's concern that the twelve remain with Jesus as witnesses.

8 :

The disciples take even less than Cynics (traveling Greco- Roman philosophers who urged audiences to divest themselves of all social conventions and to live according to nature) and are completely dependent upon those who receive them.

12–13 :

Repentance repeats the original message of Jesus and John, as teaching, exorcism, and healing show the disciples in Jesus' role. Recounting John's death ( 6.14–29 ) in the context of the mission, Mark indicates the dangers Jesus' followers face.

6.14–29 (Mt 14.1–12; Lk 9.7–9):

The death of John. Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great (see Mt 2 ) was tetrarch, not king, of Galilee and Perea.

16 :

Mark recounts the Baptist's death as a flashback.

18 :

Marriage of one woman to two living brothers is forbidden (Lev 18.16; 20.21 ).

22 :

Josephus * names the daughter Salome. Girl is the term describing Jairus's twelve-year-old daughter ( 5.42 ). There is an implicit contrast between the ruler Jairus's family and that of the tetrarch Antipas: One receives life; the other brings death.

24–26 (vv. 19–20):

Mark seeks to exonerate Antipas.

29 :

John's disciples prove more loyal than the twelve.

6.30–44 (Mt 14.13–21; Lk 9.10–17; Jn 6.1–13):

Feeding the 5,000.

34 :

Sheep without a shepherd is a proverbial saying (Num 27.17; 1 Kings 22.17; Ezek 34.5 ) which here suggests both John's death and Herod's ineptitude. Mark does not provide the content of Jesus' teaching.

37 :

The disciples again misperceive (see sidebar on previous page).

41 :

The description, echoing Elisha's miracle (2 Kings 4.42–44 ), provides no hint that the people shared their own food.

8.27–9.1 .

27–33 (Mt 16.13–23; Lk 9.18–22):

Revelation at Caesarea Philippi. Caesarea Philippi, in northern Galilee, borders Jewish and gentile * areas.

29 :

Messiah, * a Hebrew term meaning “anointed,” * is equivalent to the Greek term “Christ.”

31 :

First of three passion predictions ( 9.30–32; 10.33–34 ).

32–33 :

Jesus speaks plainly of suffering but otherwise speaks in parables; * Peter rejects the idea that the messiah will suffer and die.

8.34–9.1 (Mt 16.24–28; Lk 9.23–27):

Discipleship. Disciples must reject human standards and personal glory ( 8.32–33 ).

38 :

Adulterous is prophetic * language for idolatry * and the international alliances that often accompany it (see Hosea). Verses 8.35 and 10.31 frame the internal section by emphasizing contrasts in values and the model of the little child. The same themes repeat in 10.35–45 .

9.1 :

Mark expects the “parousia,” * the return of Jesus in judgment, during his generation.

9.2–13 (Mt 17.1–8; Lk 9.28–36):

The transfiguration. Lacking resurrection appearances, Mark may intend the transfiguration to show Jesus' glorification.

9 :

One explanation for messianic secrecy: Jesus' mission cannot be understood apart from cross and resurrection.

13 :

Elijah was to herald the end of the age (see Mal 3.1; 4 ); Jesus' comment cryptically refers to the Baptist (see also 1 Kings 19 ).

9.14–29 (Mt 17.14–21; Lk 9.37–42):

The possessed child.

18 :

The disciples fail to use appropriate prayer ( 9.29 ).

19 :

Jesus rejects being perceived only as a miracle worker.

24 :

The father's cry may speak to those in Mark's community who have undergone persecution.

29 :

Healings arise from divine response, not human magic.

9.30–41 .

30–32 (Mt 17.22–23; Lk 9.43–45):

The second passion prediction. See Mk 8.31; 10.33 . The disciples still do not comprehend.

33–37 (Mt 18.1–5; Lk 9.46–48):

First and last. The disciples recognize the subject of superiority was contrary to Jesus' insistence on selflessness. Children represent powerlessness; as divine “son,” Jesus is also in the role of child.

38–41 (Lk 9.49–59):

The rival exorcist.

38 :

In your name complements v. 37 's in my name.

39–40 (Mt 12.30; Lk 11.23):

Familiarity will eventually lead to faith. Mark's saying that those who are not against Jesus are for him is much more positive than Matthew and Luke's rendition.

9.42–50 .

42–48 (Mt 5.29–30; 18.6–9; Lk 17.1–2):

Warnings against stumbling blocks.

42 :

Little ones (see comments on the “little child” in 9.33–37 ) are those who follow Jesus.

43–47 :

The sayings express the radicality of Jesus' message.

48 :

See Isa 66.24 .

49–50 (Mt 5.13; Lk 14.34–35):

Salt perhaps refers to sacrificial offerings and therefore to purification and integrity.

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