From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain the Gospel of Mark  Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2013


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1:1                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ the Son of God

WEB:              The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.   

Young’s:         A beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, Son of God.
Conte (RC):   The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.


1:1                   The beginning.  This is regarded by some as the title of the whole book:  here begins the Gospel.  But the word "gospel" in the New Testament is not applied to a book.  Others more properly refer the verse to this section alone, which gives the events forming the beginning of the gospel.  A period has been placed at the close of the verse to indicate that it is a title.  Some, however, connect it with verse 2:  The beginning, etc., as it is written.  Others again, with verse 4:  The beginning of the gospel (was this):  John did baptize etc.  Still another view puts a period at the close of this verse, but refers it to the ministry of John, taking verses 2-3 as a second confirmatory title.  [11]

                        of the gospel.  The law of Jesus Christ alone is called "gospel," that is to say, good news, because therein the incarnation of the Son of God, the birth of the expected Saviour, the remission of sins, the kingdom, and the enjoyment of things eternal, are declared to us.  What better news could we possibly expect?  [20]

                        of Jesus Christ.  Jesus ("saviour") is the personal name and Christ ("anointed") is the official title; but the two form in Scripture virtually a double name.  It is a very significant fact that His religion has taken its name, "Christian," from His official title, and not from His personal name.  [23]

                        the Son of God.  Matthew (1:1), writings for the Jews, says:  "the Son of David, the Son of Abraham;" but Mark, writing for Gentile Christians, adds this title, the meaning of which is most fully brought out in the prologue to the Gospel according to John.  [11]



1:2                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     As it is written in Isaiah the Prophet, "See, I am sending My messenger before Thee, Who will prepare Thy way";

WEB:              As it is written in the prophets, "Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.

Young’s:         As it hath been written in the prophets, 'Lo, I send My messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee,' --

Conte (RC):  As it has been written by the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, I send my Angel before your face, who shall prepare your way before you.


1:2                   As it is written.  This declares John as having come according to the Old Testament Scriptures, and as being the forerunner who was to come.  [19]

                        Only here and in chapter 15:28 (the genuineness of which is doubtful) does Mark himself quote from the Old Testament.  In chapters 4:12, 7:6, 11:17, 14:27, he places on record quotations made by Jesus.  [10]

                        in the prophets. Nearly all modern translations adopt the Greek reading “Isaiah.”  See “In Depth,” below.  [rw]             

                        Behold.  A word that emphasizes the importance of what is to occur.  It is not merely going to be a event in the working out of salvation history, but an extremely important one. [rw]

                        I send.  It will be a personal decision by Jehovah Himself and the only way for the person described to have been certain that he was that individual, was for the Lord to have spoken directly with him.  [rw]

My messenger.  John was the messenger of whom Malachi spoke.  It was the office of a messenger to proclaim the decrees of a king to distant provinces (1 Samuel 11:7; 2 Chronicles 36:22; Amos 4:5)  [19]

before thy face which shall prepare thy way before thee.  As the way-preparer for the Messiah, vital initiatory work will be done.  Yet John’s role is, ultimately, only to begin; it will be Jesus’ to bring it to a culmination.  [rw]

                        In depth:  Why is Isaiah quoted when the words of Malachi are used  [10]?         If the reading of the Revised Version, accepted by the latest critics of the sacred text, "Isaiah the prophet," be adopted, there is a difficulty calling for explanation.  The quotation in this verse is from Malachi [3:1], and only that of the next from Isaiah [40:3].  This may be explained, either by supposing that "Isaiah the prophet" was used to designate "the latter prophets," of which his book was first in order, and thus included Malachi; or more probably, the prophecy quoted from Malachi was founded on the older prophecy of Isaiah, and therefore the whole is spoken of as being in the earlier prophecy.              

                        Or:  He names only [Isaiah] because the second quotation is of chief importance and also, possibly, because Mark has ever in mind the portrait which Isaiah drew of the mighty "Servant of Jehovah."  [14]



1:3                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     "The voice of one crying aloud: 'In the Desert prepare a road for the Lord: Make His highways straight.'"

WEB:              The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make ready the way of the Lord! Make his paths straight!'"

Young’s:         'A voice of one calling in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, straight make ye his paths,' --

Conte (RC):    The voice of one crying out in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight his paths."


1:3                   The voice of one.  This verse is from Isaiah 40:3.  It is a part of the words of consolation to Zion in her state of mourning.  [10] 

                        John said of himself, "I am the voice of one," etc. (John 1:23).  [19]

                        Crying (preaching, NKJV).  In 21st century English, “crying” most naturally suggests sorrow.  Hence the substitution of “preaching,” “teaching,” or “proclaiming” in modern translations.  At the time of the KJV version, and long afterwards, the image would have been of the “town crier,” who announced the hour of night or warned of events important or dangerous to the city in an emergency. [rw]

in the wilderness.  That is, a rough, wild, and thinly populated district, yet having scattered pastures (Matthew 3:1), referring here to the wilderness of Judea or "the country around Jordan" (Luke 3:3).  [19]

                        Prepare ye the way.  He called upon the people to make ready for Christ's coming after him--to remove obstacles out of the way--to be ready to receive him.  [19]

                        of the Lord.  that is Jehovah.  "As this verse refers to Christ it is proof of His deity."--Beza.  [8]  

                        make His paths straight.  As an Oriental king sent his herald before him, calling on all to make ready the way for his royal progress [through the land] and to build or put in order the roads through the country that he must pass, so the coming of the Messiah should be prepared by the summons to spiritual readiness.  [23]                                   



1:4                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     So John the Baptizer came, and was in the Desert proclaiming a baptism of the penitent for forgiveness of sins.

WEB:              John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching the baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins.

Young’s:         John came baptizing in the wilderness, and proclaiming a baptism of reformation -- to remission of sins,

Conte (RC):    John was in the desert, baptizing and preaching a baptism of repentance, as a remission of sins.


1:4                   John.  John was the near kinsman of Jesus, six months his senior, whose office it was (Luke 1:17) "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."  This preliminary work he was to accomplish by announcing the approach of the Messiah, calling the people to repentance, and pledging them through baptism to a new and holy life.  Josephus speaks of him under the name of John the Baptist (Antiquities 18.5.2), saying of him, "He was a righteous man, and called the Jews to be baptized and to practice virtue, exercising justice to men and piety to God."23

                        did baptize.  A simple, direct, public act to demonstrate that one had accepted the message being proclaimed.  [rw]

                        in the wilderness.  "of Judea" (Matthew).  A rocky region east of the Dead Sea.  It was not a desert in our sense, but a district little cultivated or inhabited.  [11]

                        and preach.  Proclaiming, publicly announcing.  The idea of inviting and exhorting, though implied, is not expressed.  [3]

                        the baptism of repentance.  It demonstrated that one had already made the vow to repent and was a public proclamation that the recognition of one’s prior sins—and the determination to leave them behind—would continue after s/he returned home.  [rw]

                        for the remission of sins.  Repentance prepared the soul for it, and baptism was the type or pledge of it.  [21]

                        A baptism which expresses in outward act an outward repentance.  [35]



1:5                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     There went out to him people of all classes from Judaea, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem of all ranks, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, making open confession of their sins.

WEB:              All the country of Judea and all those of Jerusalem went out to him. They were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins.

Young’s:         and there were going forth to him all the region of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and they were all baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Conte (RC):    And there went out to him all the region of Judea and all those of Jerusalem, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.


1:5                   And there went out unto him.  It was characteristic of John's ministry that he did not seek the people but was sought by them.  [3]

all the land.  If all Judea and Jerusalem does not mean every individual, it must at least mean something more than "many," namely the great bulk and body of the population.  Matthew's account of the attendance on the ministry of John is equally emphatic, and perhaps still more so, as it adds to the two terms employed by Mark, "all the country about Jordan," which would seem to include at least a portion of Perea, the Greek name of the province lying eastward of the river.  [3]

                        of Judaea.  The southern part of the Jewish people, the northern part being in Galilee.  Hence it appears to have been a mainly regional phenomena—at least at this stage.  Perhaps since Jesus came from Galilee, He could count on a certain inherent following developing while John’s role was to prepare the rest of the people in the hope that they would embrace Him as well.  We know that Jesus, Himself, went to be baptized but we have no idea of how many others from the region did so as well.  [rw]   

                                and they of [those from, NKJV] Jerusalem.  This expression is peculiar to Mark.  These are made prominent among the inhabitants of Judaea, since they lived in the capital city.  [11]

                        and were all baptized.  The numbers were so vast it appeared that none declined the opportunity.  It may even literally be true:  sometimes religious “fads” sweep a congregation or a religious minority of some type and you’d be hard pressed to find any one who does not more or less enthusiastically join in.  [rw]

                        of [by, NKJV] him.  He was the only administrator.  He was alone in his office and there is no evidence that he ever divided his work with any.  After his death others may have taken up his preaching of repentance, not knowing or not accepting Jesus, and may have baptized under his name (Acts 19:3).  [23]

                        in the river of Jordan.  Many in modern times have desired to place the Lord's baptism at the spot where the Israelites under Joshua crossed the Jordan (Joshua 3:16).  It is generally agreed that it is impossible to determine the precise spot where they crossed.  Such exact local coincidences are unimportant.  It is enough that the places were not far removed from each other.  [18]

                        confessing their sins.   Confession of sins is required in order to forgive us our sins.  "If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins" (1 John 1:9; also Proverbs 28:13).  This confession of sin was the outward expression of repentance required by John.  [10]



1:6                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     As for John, his garment was of camel's hair, and he wore a loincloth of leather; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

WEB:              ohn was clothed with camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.

Young’s:         And John was clothed with camel's hair, and a girdle of skin around his loins, and eating locusts and honey of the field,

Conte (RC):    And John was clothed with camel's hair and with a leather belt around his waist. And he ate locusts and wild honey.


1:6                   And John was clothed.  This description shows that John was a poor man and that he lived apart from other men, having no need to visit the towns for either food or clothing.  [35]

                        with camel's hair.  A coarse cloth made of the long, coarse hair of the camel; it was used for making tents.  [35] 

                        In striking contrast with the "purple and fine linen" and "embroidered girdle" (Exodus 39:29) of the sacerdotal dress, and of the fashionable oriental costume (Exodus 39:29; Luke 16:19).  [3]

                        and with a girdle of a skin about his loins [leather belt around his waist, NKJV].  In both parts of his dress here mentioned, John resembled Elijah, who is described as "an hairy man (i.e. clothed in hair cloth, as appears from what follows) and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins" (2 Kings 1:8).  This is commonly explained as the official costume of an ancient prophet (compare Zechariah 13:4); but as Ahaziah, when he heard the-description of his servants exclaimed, "It is Elijah the Tishbite!" it would seem to have been something distinctive of his person and not merely of his office.  [3]

                        and he did eat locusts and wild honey.  The former are eaten by the poorer classes in the East, and the latter was abundant in Palestine.  The literal meaning is therefore probable, although a number of fanciful interpretations have been made.  [11] 

                        Locusts are cooked in various ways:  roasted, boiled, and fried.  Sometimes they are ground up in hand mills or pounded between two stones, and then mixed with flour, and made into cakes and baked.  They are also salted and smoked, and packed away against a time of scarcity.  [19]

                        wild honey.  Wild honey was also abundant, deposited sometimes in trees, as at 1 Samuel 14:25, and sometimes in crevices of the rocks (Deuteronomy 32:13; Psalms 81:16).  [23]

                        "The innumerable fissures and clefts of the limestone rocks, which every-where flank the valleys, afford in their recesses secure shelter for any number of swarms of wild bees; and many of the Bedouin [in the late nineteenth century], particularly about the wilderness of Judaea, obtain their subsistence by bee-hunting, bringing into Jerusalem jars of that wild honey on which John the Baptist fed in the wilderness" (Tristram, "Land of Israel").  [53]



1:7                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     His announcement was, "There is One coming after me mightier than I--One whose sandal-strap I am unworthy to stoop down and unfasten.

WEB:              He preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and loosen.

Young’s:         and he proclaimed, saying, 'He doth come -- who is mightier than I -- after me, of whom I am not worthy -- having stooped down -- to loose the latchet of his sandals;

Conte (RC):    And he preached, saying: "A stronger one comes after me. I am not worthy to reach down and loosen the laces of his shoes.


1:7                   And preached.  What Mark here records is of course not all that John said; but it is a summary of his preaching, which was, first, as we have seen (verse 4), a call to repentance, and secondly a heralding of the coming Saviour.  But these were not two distinct subjects of his preaching, but rather two phases of his one great theme, the coming of a Redeemer.  Luke (3:15) gives the teaching of this verse in connection with the surmisings of the people as to whether or not John were the Christ.  [10]

                        saying, There comes One mightier than I after me.  Having preached repentance, he pointed his hearers to the Saviour to come.  This is more fully recorded in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.  To call the sinner to repentance, without offering an atoning Saviour, is to mock man with his lost and helpless estate; for tears and grief cannot take away sin.  [45]

                        the latchet of whose shoes [whose sandal strap, NKJV].  [This] was the throng or strap by which the sandal was bound upon the foot.  [23]

                        I am not worthy.  Even such a simple and unpretentious act would feel as if he were “stepping out of his proper place” and somehow imposing himself on One so far above himself that he had no right to even be in His presence.  [rw]

to stoop down and unloose.  Matthew (3:11) speaks of bearing the shoes; Luke (3:16) and John (1:27) of unloosing them; but Mark only of stooping down.  It is his peculiarity to mention gestures.  [11]



1:8                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

WEB:              I baptized you in water, but he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit."

Young’s:         I indeed did baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit.'

Conte (RC):    I have baptized you with water. Yet truly, he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."


1:8                   I indeed have baptized you with water.  As if he had said:  This baptism is not to be rested in; it is only an emblem of that which you must receive from Him who is mightier than I.  It is He only who can communicate the Holy Spirit.  The subject of these two verses is not found in Matthew nor John; but is mentioned with some varying circumstances by Luke (3:16).  [21]

                        but He shall baptize you.  A claim of profound supernaturalness is implied since He would be able to do what no mere mortal ever would.  [rw]

with the Holy Ghost [Spirit, NKJV].  The third Person of the Trinity; not a contrast between external water and internal spirit.  On the day of Pentecost, when the great fulfillment of this prophecy occurred (Acts 2:3), the Apostles were baptized "with," not "in" the Holy [Spirit].  [11]                 



1:9                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan;

WEB:              It happened in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

Young’s:         And it came to pass in those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John at the Jordan;

Conte (RC):    And it happened that, in those days, Jesus arrived from Nazareth of Galilee. And he was baptized by John in the Jordan.


1:9                   And it came to pass in those days.  An approximation of the time frame; an exact specification was neither needed nor would contribute to the greater spirituality of any reader.  [rw]

that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee.  This distinguishes the place as being in "Galilee of the Gentiles," where the great light was to spring up amidst the great darkness (Matthew 4:15-16).  [I]t lies about six miles WNW of Mount Tabor.  [19]

                        and was baptized of [by, NKJV] John.   Literally, not "in," but "into" (eis)--a phrase that is as suitable as the other to the meaning of baptizo.  It is the very act of immersion into the river that is represented.  [23]

                                Alternative interpretation:  [This] does not necessarily imply immersion, as the most convenient method even of affusion was to stand in the water (compare Acts 8:36-39), especially for those who wore the flowing oriental dress, and either sandals or no covering of the feet at all.  But even if John did submerge his converts, this was no more essential to the rite than entire nudity, as still practiced by the bathers in the Jordan [in the nineteenth century].  The two things naturally go together, and immersion without stripping seems to rob the rite in part of its supposed significance.  [3]

                        in Jordan.  In the most ancient pictures of the baptism of  Jesus, He is represented as standing in the river, whilst John from the brink pours water on His head.  [45]


            For additional information on Nazareth during the time of Jesus’ youth and adulthood, see the discussion at the end of the chapter by (Sir) George Adam Smith, The Historical Geography of the Holy Land (1897).



1:10                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     and immediately on His coming up out of the water He saw an opening in the sky, and the Spirit like a dove coming down to Him;

WEB:              Immediately coming up from the water, he saw the heavens parting, and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

Young’s:         and immediately coming up from the water, he saw the heavens dividing, and the Spirit as a dove coming down upon him;

Conte (RC):    And immediately, upon ascending from the water, he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit, like a dove, descending, and remaining with him.


1:10                 And straightway [immediately, NKJV].  This is Mark's favorite connecting word and constantly recurs:  the Greek word [occurs in] 1:12, 28; 4:5, 15; 8:10, 9:15; 11:3; and other places.  [8]  

                        coming up out of the water.  Either as He was emerging from His submersion or as quickly as He had and before He walked back onto the river bank.  There was no time pause involved; the observers would have no way of avoiding knowing exactly who was being addressed and praised.  [rw]

                        He saw.  It seems to be here spoken of as if beheld by Jesus only; but in Matthew and Luke the language is more general, and John expressly says (1:32-33) that the Baptist was to see and did see the descent of the Spirit.  [3]

                        We learn from Luke 3:21 that Jesus was engaged in prayer.  We find solemn prayer preceding (1)  our Lord's baptism; (2)  His voice of the twelve (Luke 6:12); (3)  His transfiguration (Luke 9:29); (4)  His agony in the garden (Matthew 26:39).  [8]

                        the heavens opened [parting, NKJV].  Or "rent asunder," a graphic touch of Mark.  The same word in the Greek is used in Luke 5:36 (the new piece in the old garment); 23:45 (rending the veil of the temple); Matthew 27:51 (rending the rocks); John 21:11 (breaking or rending of the net).  [8]

                        and the Spirit.  Mark and the Baptist himself (John 1:32) say "the Spirit;" Luke, "the Holy Spirit;" Matthew "the Spirit of God."  [23]

                       like a dove.  In form, and not, as some suppose, in motion merely, which would convey no definite idea [of what was actually seen].  The choice of a dove as a visible emblem of the Spirit has been variously explained as referring to its gentleness, and the corresponding quality of Christ's own ministry (compare  Matthew 12:19); to the brooding of the Spirit on the waters at the time of the creation (Genesis 1:2); to the dove which Noah sent forth from the ark (Genesis 8:8, 12); to the use of the same bird in sacrifice (Leviticus 1:14).  The truth taught by the visible descent was the personal union of the Son and Spirit, and the spiritual influences under which the Son was to perform his mission.  [3]

                        descending upon Him.  Further assuring that there was no doubt that a specific individual was being praised and who it was.  [rw] 

In depth:  Why did a sinless Jesus receive a baptism designed for sinners [10]?  True, the ordinance was appointed for sinful man; but so were circumcision, the Passover, the sacrifices, and the other requirements of the ceremonial system, all of which Jesus observed.  He had taken upon Him our nature, had come under the law, and was bound as a man to comply with all the requirements of the law.  There is no more incompatibility with His holy nature, in His receiving the "baptism of repentance," than in His observing any of the ordinances above referred to, appointed for sinful man.  With such an example of strict compliance with law before us, how unbecoming the conduct of those who excuse themselves from complying with a divine ordinance because they do not see the necessity of it!



1:11                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     and a voice came from the sky, saying, "Thou art My Son dearly loved: in Thee is My delight."

WEB:              A voice came out of the sky, "You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Young’s:         and a voice came out of the heavens, 'Thou art My Son -- the Beloved, in whom I did delight.'

Conte (RC):    And there was a voice from heaven: "You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased."


1:11                 And there came a voice from heaven.  The first of the three heavenly voices heard during His ministry at:  (1)  His baptism; (2)  His transfiguration (Mark 9:7); (3)  in the courts of the temple during holy week (John 12:28).  [8]

                         Jesus heard the voice; John certainly did not hear it.  The descent of the dove had been given him beforehand as a sign, and he recognized it and used it for evidence.  If he had heard the voice, it is very strange that he mention-ed the dove and omitted to mention this, which would have served his purpose of identifying the Messiah still better.  It was probably intended as a sign of acceptance to Jesus Himself.  Accordingly, it is "Thou art" rather than "This is" my beloved Son.  The utterance at the transfiguration, plainly evidential in its purpose, was, "This is my beloved Son."  [23]

                        saying.  Speaking out loud.  Further assuring those who witnessed, that it was an objective, tangible event.  Since there was no emotional build up to it, the phenomena could not have been produced by a driven emotional atmosphere. 

If this could be heard by John (and others?) it was a profound foreshadowing of the importance of Jesus’ message.  If addressed to Jesus alone, it was a profound reassurance for the trying days that would accompany His popularity. [rw]

                        Thou art My beloved Son.  The very words addressed to the Messiah in Psalms 2:7 and from which "Son of God" became one of his standing appellations.  [3]

                        in whom I am well pleased.   No matter what might be said about Him, the only One whose endorsement was required was truly on His side.  From a personal standpoint, the words were especially important at this time and place—the first step into His public ministry.  [rw] 



1:12                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     At once the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the Desert,

WEB:              Immediately the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness.

Young’s:         And immediately doth the Spirit put him forth to the wilderness,

Conte (RC):    And immediately the Spirit prompted him into the desert.


1:12                 And immediately.  [This] is to be taken literally:  the next event after the baptism is the temptation, and after John had baptized Jesus he saw him no more till after forty days.  [23]

                        the Spirit.  Irony:  The same Spirit that had descended upon Him to mark and honor Him now becomes the “goad” to assure that He promptly acts to do what needs to come next.  [rw] 

driveth Him.  Literally casts out or expels, a strong expression for strong impulse urging Him in that direction.  [3]

                        Though there is no evidence that Jesus rebelled at going, if He were aware of what was scheduled next, the human element in Him could hardly avoid a degree of concern.  The best remedy to potential worry is to go and do what you know you are going to do and by assuring Jesus moved promptly the possibility of anxiety was removed.  [rw]  

into the wilderness.  Not so much wild animal country as “no/few people country.”  Though the latter would, of course, make possible the presence of a greater number of dangerous creatures (their presence is noted in verse 13).  What danger that might come from this was far over-rode by the need for privacy for what was to come next. 

This was to be a “one on one” with His supreme non-earthly enemy and it needed to be done where no one else would be a distraction.  Nor—knowing the kind of enemies He attracted—to misrepresent what happened.  [rw]



1:13                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     where He remained for forty days, tempted by Satan; and He was among the wild beasts, but the angels waited upon Him.

WEB:              He was there in the wilderness forty days tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals; and the angels were serving him.

Young’s:         and he was there in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by the Adversary, and he was with the beasts, and the messengers were ministering to him.

Conte (RC):    And he was in the desert for forty days and forty nights. And he was tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the Angels ministered to him.


1:13                 And He was there.  Unlike the Transfiguration, there is not the slightest hint that anyone was with Him.  Hence this story had to have been one either He personally provided certain followers or was given to them, by inspiration, after His death.  The credibility of it ultimately rested on Jesus’ known moral character and His public willingness to stand for the right even at the cost of His life.  In light of His steadfastness, a Satanic effort to divert Him from His course makes perfect sense.  [rw]

                        in the wilderness.  Alone and, at most, with only the food He can carry with Him it is a de facto period of fasting, putting on Him the physical stress of malnourishment and the mental one of being alone.  [rw]

forty days.  "Forty days" is the period already consecrated by Moses the Lawgiver in a holy fast on Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:28), and by Elijah the prophet in his journey to Horeb, the mount of God, sustained by Divine power, after partaking of miraculous food (1 Kings 19:8).  [2]

                        tempted of Satan.  It is implied here, as in Luke, that the temptation continued during the forty days, although the more personal assault was made at the close of the fast.  [11]

                        The fact that He is filled with the Spirit does not keep Him from being tempted nor does His sinlessness make him insensible to evil solicitations.  Among the followers of Christ none ever attains such spiritual heights that he cannot be assaulted by Satan, none ever becomes to perfect that he is beyond the reach of temptation.  [14]

                                and was with the wild beasts.  It was an instance of His Father’s care of Him, that He was preserved from being torn in pieces by the wild beasts, which encouraged Him the more than His father would provide for Him when He was hungry.  [54]

                        and the angels ministered unto Him.  Probably with food (compare Matthew 4:11).  [11]

                        The Greek term is literally "deaconed."  The angels helped Him—gave Him such support as His suffering human nature needed.  This also shows the severity of His trials.  [19]

                        At the end of the period, He would have stood in need of nourishment and encouragement even though duty had triumphed over weakness.  The need for rebuilding of strength could argue that the final effort to seduce Him occurred days before the end of the forty days or that He remained an additional period, to regain His strength.  [rw] 

                        In depth:  Was the temptation an internal psychological experience or an outward and objective actual happening  [11]?  That our Lord was actually tempted, His moral nature tested in many ways, but preeminently at this time is plainly stated.  Compare Hebrews 2:18; 4:15.  How this could be, may be inexplicable; but the fact is revealed.  The simple historical character of the Gospel narratives opposes the theories which make of the temptation a parable or myth; nor do the accounts point to a vision like that of Peter (Acts 10) or of Paul (2 Corinthians 12).  Some, objecting to the obvious and literal explanation of the story, find in it the record of an internal experience, a struggle in spirit with Satan.  But such a theory fails to account for the numerous references to localities, to actions, and for the dialogues with the formulas of quotations from the Old Testament (found in Matthew and Luke).  This involves something supernatural; but what more natural under the circumstances, if there are any supernatural phenomena?  The importance of the occurrence appears from the fact that three Evangelists tell of it; two of them (Matthew and Luke) in detail.  



1:14                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Then, after John had been thrown into prison, Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming God's Good News.

WEB:              Now after John was taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God,

Young’s:         And after the delivering up of John, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of the reign of God,

Conte (RC):    Then, after John was handed over, Jesus went into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God,


1:14                 Now after that John was put in prison.  According to Josephus [the Jewish historian and military leaders] the place of his confinement was the castle of Machaerus on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea.  [10]

                        Jesus came into Galilee.  Galilee was the most northern and the most populous of the three provinces into which the Romans had divided Palestine.  It was small in extent, about twenty-seven miles from east to west, and fifty miles from north to south; but rich in products of wheat, wine and oil, and teeming with a busy population engaged in agriculture, woolen manufactures, dyeing, weaving linen, and in producing earthenware famous for its character.  The Rabbis, in their Oriental language, say that one waded in oil in Galilee.  [8]

                        "Nor hath [Galilee] every been destitute of men of courage, or wanted a numerous set of them; for their soil is universally rich and fruitful, and full of the plantations of trees of all sorts, in so much that it invites the most slothful to take pains in its cultivation, by its fruitfulness; accordingly it is all cultivated by its inhabitants, and no part of it lies idle.  Moreover, the cities lie here very thick; and the very many villages there are here, are everywhere so full of people, by the richness of their soil, that the very least of them contains above fifteen thousand inhabitants."--Josephus, Wars, 3:3:2.  [13]

                        preaching.  We are not to understand that Jesus began His ministry when John had finished his, for it is evident that the Saviour had preached and baptized by the hands of His disciples for a considerable time before John was imprisoned.24

                        the gospel.  The people had been waiting for God’s kingdom to come for centuries.  It was literally “gospel” (good news) that it was now ready to arrive.  [rw]

of the kingdom of God.  This expression and its equivalent, "kingdom of heaven," frequently occur in the gospels; and in the same sense "kingdom of Christ" is used in Ephesians 5:5 and Revelation 1:9.  The phrase designates the church as a spiritual kingdom over which Christ rules according to the prophecy and pledge in the regal covenant with David (2 Samuel 7:12-29).  [10]



1:15                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     "The time has fully come," He said, "and the Kingdom of God is close at hand: repent, and believe this Good News.

WEB:              and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand! Repent, and believe in the Good News."

Young’s:         and saying -- 'Fulfilled hath been the time, and the reign of God hath come nigh, reform ye, and believe in the good news.'

Conte (RC):    and saying: "For the time has been fulfilled and the kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent and believe in the Gospel."


1:15                 And saying, The time is fulfilled.  That is, the time appointed for sending the Messiah.  [21]

                        and the kingdom of God.  A fundamental misunderstanding of the proper nature of that “kingdom” divided Jesus from the bulk of His contemporaries.  To them it was a nationalistic dream of independence under a Jewish monarch, a new David; to Jesus the kingdom was one of the heart and service to God, fulfilling the spiritual idealism of David.  [rw] 

                        is at hand.   Is approaching, is imminent, can be expected to arrive soon.  Although “nearness language” can be more flexible than this (apparently carrying the connotation of absolute certainty rather than chronological nearness—Isaiah 13:6, 22, for example), the fact that the kingdom is later referred to as in existence (Colossians 1:13) assures one that this nearness is measured in comparison to their present point in time.  In the most literal of senses it is on the horizon.  [rw]         

Repent ye.  To repent includes sorrow for sin, renouncing it and seeking forgiveness.  The word implies a radical change of heart--a complete change of mind.  [8]

                        and believe.  The verb "believe," and the corresponding noun "faith," when used of saving faith, as they generally are in the New Testament, express a full mental persuasion of the truth of the gospel, and a reception of the same.

                        the gospel.  Since the gospel is the offer of Christ as a Saviour, “believing in the gospel” and “believing in Christ” refer to the same act of the heart.  [10]           



1:16                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     One day, passing along the shore of the Lake of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, Simon's brother, throwing their nets in the Lake; for they were fisherman

WEB:              Passing along by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.

Young’s:         And, walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon, and Andrew his brother, casting a drag into the sea, for they were fishers,

Conte (RC):    And passing by the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew, casting nets into the sea, for they were fishermen.


1:16                 Now as He walked by.  Judging by what He proceeded to do, with the specific purpose of gathering a band to follow Him as coworkers in teaching others.  [rw]  

the Sea of Galilee.  Called (1)  "the sea of Chinnereth" or "Cinneroth" (Numbers 34:11; Joshua 12:3), from a town of that name on or near its shore (Joshua 19:35); (2)  "the sea of Galilee," from the province which bordered on its western side (Matthew 4:18; Mark 7:31); (3)  "the Lake of Gennesaret" (Luke 5:1); (4)  "the Sea of Tiberias"  (John 21:1), and sometimes (5)  simply "the Sea" (Matthew 4:15).   It was pear-shaped, six and three-quarters by twelve miles in extent, 600 feet below the Mediterranean, and, in Christ's day, its western shore was thickly dotted with villages, and the hills and plains were covered with oaks, cypresses, figs, cedars, citrons, olives, myrtles and balsams.  The eastern shore had towns at every opening in the basaltic hills.  The lake, depressed below the sea level, and surrounded by high hills, cut by deep ravines, was subject to sudden and dangerous storms, as it is to this day.  It still abounds in fish.  [8]

                        He saw Simon and Andrew his brother.  These brothers had previously become disciples while attending upon John's ministry in Judea (John 1:40-42); and with Philip and Nathaniel attended Jesus into Galilee to the marriage at Cana, and then to Capernaum (John 1:43; 2:2-12).  [45]

                        Simon.  The narrative of the beginning of Jesus' activity opens with the call of Simon, since according to trustworthy tradition, Mark wrote his gospel substantially on the basis of the reports he received from Peter and for this reason begins at the point where the latter becomes a prominent companion of Jesus.  [22]

                        Andrew.  This Greek name shows how common that language was in the East.  It is not known which was the elder brother.  [11]   

                        casting a net.  An expressive phrase in Greek, throwing around.  The net here and in Matthew 4:18, was a casting-net, circular in shape, "like the top of a tent."  The net in Matthew 13:47-48 is the "drag net" or "hauling net," sometimes half a mile in length; that in Luke 5:4-9 is the "bag-net" or "basket-net," so constructed and worked as to enclose the fish out in deep water.  [8]

                        into the sea; for they were fishers.  Living close to a large body of water with an abundance of fish, a logical vocation to follow.  The catch would be a valuable commodity in an ancient society in which both availability and consumption of meat and fish was extremely modest compared to the modern world  [rw].



1:17                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     "Come and follow me," said Jesus, "and I will make you fishers for men."

WEB:              Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you into fishers for men."

Young’s:         and Jesus said to them, 'Come ye after me, and I shall make you to become fishers of men;'

Conte (RC):    And Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."


1:17                 And Jesus said unto them.  Many messages can be conveyed through some one else.  As a call to on-going discipleship this personal presentation of the request/command made its significance even greater.  [rw]  

Come after Me.  This as we have seen (on the last verse), was not their first call to be disciples, but a second call to resume their attendance in person, and probably especially to accompany Him on a missionary tour through Galilee (Matthew 4:23).  [45]

                        And I will make you.  This is something you never would think of doing on your own.  Don’t worry about the challenge.  You don’t have to carry that weight of responsibility.  “I” am going to make you able to accomplish it.  [rw]

To become fishers of men.  They knew from their own experience what He meant, and could well believe the promise.  [23]

                        The comparison, like others, is not to be pressed too far, the main points of resemblance being the value of the objects to be caught, the necessity of skill as well as strength in catching them, and the implied promise of abundance and success.  [3]



1:18                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     At once they left their nets and followed Him.

WEB:              Immediately they left their nets, and followed him.

Young’s:         and immediately, having left their nets, they followed him.

Conte (RC):    And at once abandoning their nets, they followed him.


1:18                 And straightway [immediately, NKJV].  So they were with Him when, a little farther along the shore, He came upon the other pair of brothers.  [23]

                        they forsook their nets.  Leaving them to other kin and workers to finish off the day’s work.  [rw]

                        and followed Him.  Thereby showing they would let Jesus set the agenda for the rest of the day and for throughout their period of service with and for him.  [rw]



1:19                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Going on a little further He saw James the son of Zabdi and his brother John: they also were in the boat mending the nets, and He immediately called them.

WEB:              Going on a little further from there, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets.

Young’s:         And having gone on thence a little, he saw James of Zebedee, and John his brother, and they were in the boat refitting the nets,

Conte (RC):    And continuing on a little ways from there, he saw James of Zebedee and his brother John, and they were mending their nets in a boat.


1:19                 And when He had gone a little further thence.  The practical geographic reality of limited seashore available for seafarers to work from meant that there would be “clusters” of such individuals located rather close to each other.  [rw]

                        He saw James the son of Zebedee  and John his brother.  It does not appear whether Zebedee (himself) ever became a disciple.  [23]

                        who also were in the ship [boat, NKJV].  The vessels here meant were small fishing [vessels], propelled both by sails and oars, and drawn up on the shore when not engaged in actual service.  [3]

                        mending their nets.  The casual expression is explained by Luke [Luke 5], who tells us of the miraculous [catch] of fishes which had broken them.  "This is one of the undesigned coincidences which show the truth at the bottom of both narratives."--Whedon.  [8]

                        A practical reminder that even the most pious and dedicated believers have a “secular life” to live as well.  If, like them, you were part of the fishing industry, it meant that, inevitably, you had to tackle the boring and perhaps hard work of maintenance of craft and equipment.  [rw]



1:20                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     They therefore left their father Zabdi in the boat with the hired men, and went and followed Him.

WEB:              Immediately he called them, and they left their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired servants, and went after him.

Young’s:         and immediately he called them, and, having left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, they went away after him.

Conte (RC):    And immediately he called them. And leaving behind their father Zebedee in the boat with his hired hands, they followed him.


1:20                 And straightway [immediately, NKJV] He called them.  Direct, to the point—no delay for idle socializing.  Said what needed to be said and left it up to them to decide whether to act or not.  [rw]

                        and they left their father Zebedee in the ship.  The circumstances show that their father was well aware of their decision.  The fact that no protest is mentioned argues that he had no problem with their decision.  Perhaps the practical one of getting all the net mending completed went through his mind, but there is no indication he considered it important enough to even mention aloud.  [rw]   

with the hired servants.  This appears to have been added for the two-fold purpose of suggesting that they did not leave their father without help or company, but no doubt just as able to continue his business as when his sons were with him; and also that the men thus called to follow Christ were not of the lowest class, or driven by necessity to change their mode of life, but had the means, or were the sons of one who had the means of employing others to assist them in their business.  [3]

                        and went after Him.  Gradually the four had been called to their new work:  (1)  they were disciples of the Baptist (John 1:35); (2) they were directed by him to "the Lamb of God" (John 1:36); (3)  they were invited by our Lord to see where He dwelt (John 1:39); (4) they became witnesses of His first miracle (John 2:2); (5)  now they are enrolled among His attached followers.  The more formal call was yet to come.  [8]

                        In depth:  the moral criticism of John and James for leaving Zebedee behind [3].  The idea that Zebedee was dependent on his sons, and therefore injured by their leaving him, is not expressed nor even necessarily implied, but rather that he was the master of the boat and the director of the fishery, in which he was assisted by his own sons and by fishermen hired for the purpose.  Still more extravagant and groundless is the notion of extreme age and infirmity, which some use to aggravate the charge of undutiful neglect alleged against James and John.  Even in the supposed case, the call of Christ would have superseded every other claim and obligation (compare Matthew 8:21-22; Luke 9:61-62); but no such extreme case seems to have existed, and we have neither right nor reason to invent it.



1:21                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     So they came to Capernaum, and on the next Sabbath He went to the synagogue and began to teach.

WEB:              They went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught.

Young’s:         And they go on to Capernaum, and immediately, on the sabbaths, having gone into the synagogue, he was teaching,

Conte (RC):    And they entered into Capernaum. And entering into the synagogue promptly on the Sabbaths, he taught them.


1:21                 And they went into Capernaum.  Not mentioned in the Old Testament or the Apocrypha.  It was situated on the northwest shore of the Lake, in "the land of Gennesaret" (Matthew 14:34; John 6:17, 24), and was called "a city" (Matthew 9:1).  It had a customs station (Matthew 9:9; Luke 5:27), and a detachment of Roman soldiers (Matthew 8:8; Luke 7:1, 8).  It was noted as the scene of many remarkable events.  At Capernaum the Lord wrought the miracle on the centurion's servant (Matthew 8:5); healed Simon's wife's mother (Matthew 8:14); cured the paralytic (Matthew 9:2); called Levi from the toll house (Matthew 9:9); taught His apostles the lesson of humility (Mark 9:35-37), and delivered the discourse on the "Bread of Life" (John 6:59).  [8]

                                    and straightway [immediately, NKJV].  [This] may indicate the Lord's zeal for His work:  His mission was clear, and admitted of no delay.  And perhaps it may be not fanciful to observe the entire absence of all consultation with the apostles:  as in the case of the feeding of the multitude in the wilderness, He Himself knew what He would do:  He had chosen His disciples, not that He might consult them, but that they might follow Him.  [9]

                        on the Sabbath day.  Extending according to our reckoning from Friday at sunset till the same hour on Saturday.  [2]

                        The original word is in the plural, seeming to imply that He was in the habit of doing this, [entering and teaching in the synagogue].  The event following of course happened on one particular Sabbath, immediately after His return from Judea.  [25]

                        He entered into the synagogue.   The Sabbath was the principal day of synagogue worship, though services were also held on Mondays and Thursdays.  [35]

                        and taught.  Sometimes it happened that remarkable and serious-looking strangers were invited, if they had any word of exhortation, to say on (Acts 13:15).  Sometimes one presented himself, as the custom of our Lord was (Luke 4:16).  [1]    

                        This He did also in their synagogues generally (Luke 4:15).  [19]



1:22                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     The people listened with amazement to His teaching--for there was authority about it: it was very different from that of the Scribes--

WEB:              They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes.

Young’s:         and they were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as having authority, and not as the scribes.

Conte (RC):    And they were astonished over his doctrine. For he was teaching them as one who has authority, and not like the scribes.


1:22                 And they were astonished at His doctrine [teaching, NKJV].  To us today “doctrine” tends to be subjects like baptism and speaking in tongues, while “teaching” tends to be everything else that doesn’t immediately fall into the category of “probably controversial.”  Jesus made no such distinction; He simply taught on whatever needed to be talked about, regardless of what kind of arbitrary label one might put on it.  [rw]

for he taught them as one that had authority.  The scribes neither had nor claimed any independent authority.  The strong and positive preaching of Jesus came in like a breath of morning air.  "We speak that we do know," He said of Himself (John 3:11).  His "I say unto you" was such a word as they had never before heard.  No wonder that they drew the contrast with the scribes.  [23] 

                        and not as the scribes.  It was characteristic of the teaching of the Scribes to appeal to the authority of earlier interpreters of the law:  "Rabbi So-and-so said this, but Rabbi So-and-so says that."  Christ appealed to no authority save that of Himself.  [6] 

                        Dr. Kitto tells us that the great doctors [of religious law] whose names were most commonly on their lips, in the Saviour's time, were Hillel among the Pharisees, and Shammai among the Sadducees.  He adds that the rabbinical writers have recorded a tradition regarding Hillel himself, which curiously illustrates their mode of teaching, and shows how even he was obliged to the customary method; it is to the following effect, "The great Hillel taught truly, and according to the traditions, respecting a certain matter, but though he discoursed of that matter all day long, they received not his doctrine until he at last said--'So I heard from Shemaia and Abtalim.' "  [32] 



1:23                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     when all at once, there in their synagogue, a man under the power of a foul spirit screamed out:

WEB:              Immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out,

Young’s:         And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out,

Conte (RC):    And in their synagogue, there was a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,


1:23                 And there was in their synagogue.  As for the state of the man, it is plain that in this case he was not so wild as to avoid society or so violent as to be restrained from entering the synagogue.  Whether he had friends present does not appear.  [23]

                        a man with an unclean spirit.  Mark's first mention of a demoniac.  [23]

                        unclean.  Expresses the moral depravity of the demon.  [10]

                        "Unclean" means unholy, malign, defiling.  [23]

                        The devil is here called an "unclean" spirit because he has lost all the purity of his nature, because he acts in direct opposition to the Holy Spirit of God, and because with his suggestions he pollutes the spirits of men.  [54]

                        And he cried out.  Since the speaker is the inner demon (verse 24), the demon either had no objection to the man being in the synagogue (perhaps hoping to embarrass others by his presence?) or the man had enough remnants of self-control left that the demon could not prevent it.  [rw]

In depth:  The credibility of mircles  [1]:  A miracle, we are told, is an interference with the laws of nature; and it is impossible, because they are fixed and their operation is uniform.  But these bold words need not disconcert any one who has learned to ask:  In what sense are the operations of nature uniform?  Is the operation of the laws which govern the wind uniform, whether my helm is to port or starboard?  Can I not modify the operation of sanitary laws by deodorization, by drainage, by a thousand resources of civilization?  The truth is, that while natural laws remain fixed, human intelligence profoundly modifies their operation.  How then will the objector prove that no higher Being can as naturally do the same?

                        He answers:  Because the sum total of the forces of nature is a fixed quantity; nothing can be added to that sum, nothing taken from it.  But again we ask:  If the physician adds nothing to the sum of forces when he banishes one disease by inoculation, and another by draining of a marsh, why must Jesus have added to the sum of forces in order to expel a demon or to cool a fever?

                        It will not suffice to answer:  Because His methods are contrary to experience.  Beyond experience they are.  But so were the marvels of electricity to our parents and of steam to theirs.  Man is now doing what he never did before.  But the sum of the forces of nature will remain unchanged.  Why is it assumed that a miracle must change them? 



1:24                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     "What have you to do with us, Jesus the Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--God's Holy One."

WEB:              saying, "Ha! What do we have to do with you, Jesus, you Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know you who you are: the Holy One of God!"

Young’s:         saying, 'Away! what -- to us and to thee, Jesus the Nazarene? thou didst come to destroy us; I have known thee who thou art -- the Holy One of God.'

Conte (RC):    saying: "What are we to you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God."


1:24                 Saying, Let us alone.  In his excited cry three elements appear--recognition, repulsion, dread.  The repulsion is first expressed, then the dread, and then the recognition of character, which is, of course the foundation of both.  [23]

                        What have we to do with Thee.  What connection is there between us?  implying, what right have you to invade our domain?  He would have Jesus let them alone and not interfere.  [45]

                        Thou, Jesus of Nazareth?  In human society we speak of “bad news traveling fast.”  No doubt he had heard from others reports about this Jesus and regarded Him as a clear-cut danger.  [rw]

                        Art Thou come to destroy us?  As if Jesus couldn’t have been in the synagogue for the simple purpose of worshipping God!  Whatever He needed to do about a demon could just as well have been done anywhere.  [rw]

                        I know Thee who Thou art.  The “I” argues that there was only one demon involved.  The plural “destroy us” could be the imperial, arrogant equivalent of “I,” the fear that Jesus was out to destroy all demons (not just this one), or an attempt at distraction:  You can’t destroy me without destroying the one whose body I am in.  As other demons learned to their regret, that wasn’t the case.  [rw]

the Holy One of God!  The ground of the repulsion and dread.  All Jews would recognize this as a title of the Messiah.  [23]



1:25                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     But Jesus reprimanded him, saying, "Silence! come out of him."

WEB:              Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!"

Young’s:         And Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Be silenced, and come forth out of him,'

Conte (RC):    And Jesus admonished him, saying, "Be silent, and depart from the man."


1:25                 And Jesus rebuked him.  Spake sternly to him, and ordered him to keep silence.  In this exercise of power Jesus claimed a higher authority than the archangel Michael dared to do.  The latter when contending with Satan said, "The Lord rebuke thee" (Jude 9); but Jesus rebukes in His own name.  [25]

                                Saying, Hold thy peace [Be quiet, NKJV].  In Greek, a passive verb, strictly meaning, be thou muzzled, silenced, and implying a coercive or restraining power accompanying the command.  [3]

                        The same word is used by our Lord in rebuking the storm on the Lake, "Peace, be still" (Mark 4:39).  [8]

                        Jesus silenced the devils, even when they spake the truth, lest He should seem to approve of witnesses who were liars by nature (John 8:44; Romans 14:16; Ephesians 5:15).24

                        There were probably two reasons why Jesus did not wish to have the demons announcing Him as the Christ:  First, such testimony from those whom the people regarded as evil spirits would have prejudiced them against Him.  Words of praise from such a source would not really commend Him.  Secondly, Jesus did not wish to turn the thoughts of the people to the question whether He was the Christ at all as yet.  They had so wrong an idea of the Messiah (the Christ) and His work that He was compelled to keep the fact that He was the Messiah in the background till they knew Him (Jesus) better, and so could form their idea of the Messiah from what they saw Him to be, not their idea of Him from what they fancied the Messiah would be.  [35]

                        and come out of him.  Here, as always in such cases, He distinctly assumes that there is a personality that can be addressed apart from that of the man, and is able to leave the man.  [23]



1:26                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     So the foul spirit, after throwing the man into convulsions, came out of him with a loud cry.

WEB:              The unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.

Young’s:         and the unclean spirit having torn him, and having cried with a great voice, came forth out of him,

Conte (RC):    And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, departed from him.


1:26                 And when the unclean spirit.  Showing that the physical phenomena that was occurring was in no way the responsibility of the human held in demonic slavery.  It was the result of the irate “owner” who knew that the chains of bondage were about to be permanently broken.  [rw]

had torn him [convulsed him, NKJV].   A strong but natural expression for the violent contortion and spasmodic agitation of the body.  [3]

                        and cried out with a loud voice.  Either as a natural expression of pain upon the part of the demoniac, or of rage and spite in the departing demon.  [3]

                        he came out of him.    The first miracle recorded by Matthew is the healing of a leper by a touch (Matthew 8:1-4); the first miracle which John records is the changing water into wine (John 2:1-11); the first miracle recorded by Mark and Luke (4:33-37) is this casting out of a demon in the synagogue of Capernaum.  [8]                                   

       In depth:  Was demon-possession only the popular explanation for the affliction or the real one  [33]?   This is the first recorded of several similar incidents.  The view most in favor at present is one which sees nothing in all these cases but lunacy, mania, epilepsy, and the like.  It therefore holds the narratives to be colored by the prevalent notion of their age, which is said to have regarded all such ailments as the result of demoniacal possession.  That which they allow would be still among the greatest of miracles, namely, that with a word Jesus should restore a furious maniac to sanity and calmness, or cure a confirmed case of nervous disorder, the most difficult of all forms of disease to deal with.  But the question is one of facts and the theory now stated does not satisfy these.  That the demoniacs of the New Testament include only the mentally or nervously afflicted, that all such were regarded by the writers as possessed, are both assumptions unsupported by the sources.  It is tolerably plain,--

                        a.  That by the Gospel-writers themselves a distinction is made between demoniacal possession and mental or nervous disorder [Matthew 4:24; Mark 1:34; Luke 4:40-41; 7:21].

                        b.  It is also clear that by the Evangelists some nervous disorders are regarded as natural, while other cases of the same disorders are spoken of as aggravated by possession.  Compare, for example, the case of a man naturally deaf and dumb (Mark 7:32) with that of one described as dumb by reason of an evil spirit (Matthew 9:32), or of one blind and dumb for a similar reason (Matthew 12:22).  The man whose cure is recorded in John 5 had a natural [problem], not unconnected certainly with personal sin; yet a similar infirmity recorded in Luke 13, where the moral character of the patient is conspicuously not in question, is ascribed to Satanic oppression.  It cannot therefore, upon a fair reading of the Gospels, be alleged that all such disorders were, in those times, or by the Gospel-writers, attributed to evil spirits.

                        c.  Further, what is still more formidable to this theory is the language of Jesus, both in performing these miracles and in discoursing of them.  He addresses the unclean spirit, commands it to come out of the man, speaks of it as distinct from the patient himself.  To the disciples by themselves He specifies a "kind which cometh not forth but by prayer and fasting."  Above all, there are the passages where, both in defending His own cures of this class and in congratulating His disciples on theirs, He declares them to be real victories over Satanic power (Matthew 12:25-29; Luke 10:17-20; 11:17-22).

                        To suppose Him to speak in accordance with an insane idea of the victims themselves, or to favour the superstitious notion of the age, is to adopt an interpretation which, to say the least of it, brings the Saviour's truthfulness into serious hazard.  On the other hand, we must repudiate the view of [those who would] maintain the accuracy of the language by regarding the patients [as] so given over to certain sins and morally under the power of Satan, that they could truthfully be spoken of as possessed. It is certainly of a very different class of persons from the demoniacs that it is said, Satan had entered into them, or that they belonged to the Father of lies.

                        d.  Once more, when we take in all the facts we must not overlook the physical and psychical elements in "possession."  Doubtless the two men in the tombs at Gadara were maniacs.  The man who cried out in the synagogue was insane.  But they were something more or worse, for this plain reason, that they took the opportunity whenever they saw Jesus, of declaring Him to be the Son of God.  If these were only poor maniacs and lunatics, how did they discover and proclaim what was hid as yet from all the rest of the Jewish nation?  It is vain to say that the awakening hope of Messiah found expression through these diseased minds, when the invocation occurred upon our Lord's first public appearance in Capernaum, or [when it] was uttered by the maniac on the eastern shore, shut out from every kind of human companionship, and to whom the Person of Jesus was presumably unknown.

                        It is worse than vain to say that when He began to be thought of as the Christ, the first so to recognize Him should be those diseased in their minds.  When did insanity or epilepsy render a sole more susceptible to receive a spiritual impression or reveal the Christ of God  to the heart?



1:27                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     And all were amazed and awe-struck, so they began to ask one another, "What does this mean? Here is a new sort of teaching--and a tone of authority! And even to foul spirits he issues orders and they obey him!"

WEB:              They were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching? For with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him!"

Young’s:         and they were all amazed, so as to reason among themselves, saying, 'What is this? what new teaching is this? that with authority also the unclean spirits he commandeth, and they obey him!'

Conte (RC):    And they were all so amazed that they inquired among themselves, saying: "What is this? And what is this new doctrine? For with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him."


1:27                 And they were all amazed.  Today and no doubt then “all” could encompass simply the large majority and not demand the absolute of no exceptions.  On the other hand, what reaction would have been more natural?  The lack of amazement would be far harder to explain than its presence.  [rw]

                        insomuch that they questioned among themselves.  What is it about human nature, that we would rather argue about what something means with others who know no more than we do about it when the person provoking our discussion—in this case, Jesus—is right there, where they could ask Him themselves!  [rw] 

saying, What thing is this?  Words of surprise and astonishment.  [21]

                        Charms and incantations for the purpose of exorcism were in common use, and apparently they sometimes seemed to be successful (Matthew 12:27), but He commanded and it was done.  [23]  

                        What new doctrine is this?  For with authority commandeth He even the unclean spirits.   From the appearance of a new power of delivering, they infer the appearance of a new revelation; for revelation and deliverance, miracle and prophecy, always to the Israelites [went together].  [12]

                        The people connected the teaching with the power over evil spirits; the latter attesting the truth of the former.  [8]          

                        The connection of “doctrine” with the miraculous shows that they were not intended to be idle wonders and that even the “common man” of the day recognized this.  Miraculous acts were performed not just out of humanitarian concerns, but to back up the authority of the message being delivered.  [rw]

                        and they do obey Him.  Words were easy and accompanying failure certainly common enough.  But when there is such supernatural power behind the words that even demons have to obey, where would mortals be sane in challenging the truth of such a Teacher?  [rw]                       



1:28                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     And His fame spread at once everywhere in all that part of Galilee.

WEB:              The report of him went out immediately everywhere into all the region of Galilee and its surrounding area.

Young’s:         And the fame of him went forth immediately to all the region, round about, of Galilee.

Conte (RC):    And his fame went out quickly, throughout the entire region of Galilee.


1:28                 And immediately His fame spread.  In a public assembly of worshippers, in one of the principal cities of Galilee, Jesus had spoken as God ("with authority"), and then had made a farther display of his superhuman power, in compelling the unclean spirit to obey His word.  These things would be in every body's mouth; and soon the report of them was spreading through Galilee and the surrounding region.  As a result of His being thus made known by this and other miracles, many from these regions afterwards flocked to His ministry.  [45]

                        A great reputation could not possibly hurt the Son of God; but it is a snare very dangerous for a preacher.  There are few who fear it as they ought, fewer yet who shun and avoid it, but many whom it entices and corrupts.  [20]

                        abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.  Not just Galilee but those areas adjacent to it.  They did not have rapid transportation in those days but at any given, time large numbers would have been moving around due to family affairs or commercial business matters.  Not to mention religious and government officials of a low rank who also were on the move delivering reports or receiving instructions.  Adding in the factor that Capernaum was a reasonably significant town in its own right (see the discussion in 1:21), the reports surely spread even faster as these factors would have been even more pronounced. [rw]

                        In depth:  How common were miracles in Jesus' age  [1]?   It is the custom of unbelievers to speak as if the air of Palestine were then surcharged with belief in the supernatural.  Miracles were everywhere.  Thus they would explain away the significance of the popular belief that our Lord wrought signs and wonders.  But in so doing they set themselves a worse problem than they evade.  If miracles were so very common, it would be as easy to believe that Jesus wrought them as that He worked at His father's bench.   And how then are we to explain the astonishment which all the evangelists so constantly record?  On any conceivable theory, these writers shared the beliefs of that age.

                        And so did the readers who accepted their assurance that all were amazed, and that His report "went out straightway everywhere into all the regions of Galilee."  These are emphatic words, and both the author and his readers must have considered a miracle to be more surprising than modern critics believe they did.



1:29                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Then on leaving the synagogue they came at once, with James and John, to the house of Simon and Andrew.

WEB:              Immediately, when they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

Young’s:         And immediately, having come forth out of the synagogue, they went to the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John,

Conte (RC):    And soon after departing from the synagogue, they went into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.


1:29     And forthwith, when [as soon as, NKJV), they were come out of the synagogue.  No hints that anyone wished to discuss what they had seen or, quite possibly heard.   (Does not “What new doctrine is this?” 1:27 suggest teaching accompanied the miracle?).  [rw]

                        they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew.  Showing the family were property owners in the community.  [rw]

                        with James and John.  Having been so soon called to travel with Jesus, there would be the natural desire to stay as close as possible even if the accommodations got crowded in the process.  Even if no outsider rose to question what was happening, it is hard to imagine them going the evening without the topic arising.  [rw]     



1:30                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill in bed with a fever, and without delay they informed Him about her.

WEB:              Now Simon's wife's mother lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him about her.

Young’s:         and the mother-in-law of Simon was lying fevered, and immediately they tell him about her,

Conte (RC):    But the mother-in-law of Simon lay ill with a fever. And at once they told him about her.


1:30                 But Simon's wife's mother.  We thus learn incidentally that Peter was married.  For Paul's allusion to him and the other apostles as married men see 1 Corinthians 9:5.  [8]

                        lay sick.  Notice that the people of God have no exemption from physical disease any more than others.  Peter was one of the most ardent and devoted followers of the Lord; yet serious illness came upon a beloved member of his household.  [32]

                        of [with, NKJV] a fever.  The miracle here recorded did not, as in some cases, consist in the cure of an incurable disorder, but in the mode of cure, instantly, and by a touch.  [24]

                        and anon [at once, NKJV].  The disciples could probably tell no more all the implications of Jesus’ miracle working power than the others in the synagogue that day.  But they did know three things:  (1)  He had it; (2) He was willing to use it; (3) they were His disciples and if the stranger in the synagogue could be helped, surely there was nothing improper in seeking assistance with their own relative.  [rw]

they tell Him of her [about her, NKJV].  There is no indication as to whether she had any special faith:  none appears to have been asked for by our Lord.  She must have known much about Him, and may have been of a believing heart; but it cannot be shown that Jesus always required faith in Himself as a condition of healing.  [23]



1:31                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     So He went to her, and taking her hand He raised her to her feet: the fever left her, and she began to wait upon them.

WEB:              He came and took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served them.

Young’s:         and having come near, he raised her up, having laid hold of her hand, and the fever left her immediately, and she was ministering to them.

Conte (RC):    And drawing near to her, he raised her up, taking her by the hand. And immediately the fever left her, and she ministered to them.


1:31                 And He came.  The healing of Peter's wife's mother seems to have been at the close of the synagogue service, and before evening, for at evening all that were diseased and possessed were brought to Him (verses 32ff).  The synagogue service closed at or before noon, and it may be inferred from the fact that she "ministered unto them" that she served them at the table at the midday meal.  According to Josephus (Life, 54), the hour of this meal was, on the Sabbath, the sixth, or twelve noon.  [18]

                        and took her by the hand, and lifted her up.  If she was going to be made well, getting her up was DEMONSTRATING BY ACTION the total confidence that it was about to happen.  This may well be why the elders were to anoint with oil the sick (James 5:14-15).  That was part of the personal “cleaning up” one did before going out after recovering.  To anoint with oil was not to MAKE the person well but to show your faith that their full healing was already under way.  [rw]   

and immediately the fever left her.  Typical of Jesus’ miracles:  quick and prompt.  No “go home for God is in the process of healing.”  But “you are already healed.   Go about your business.”  [rw]

and she ministered unto [served, NKJV] them.  Performed such service as the presence of guests in the house required.  [23]     

                        Now here is a striking though incidental proof that this woman was healed by miracle [rather than it just being a coincidence].  We know the extreme weakness to which fever reduces a patient; and not seldom weeks are required for recovery after the fever had disappeared.  But, in a moment this woman has her [usual] strength.  Truly "this is the Lord's doing, it is marvelous in our eyes."  [32]                   


1:32                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     When it was evening, after sunset people came bringing Him all who were sick and the demoniacs;

WEB:              At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to him all who were sick, and those who were possessed by demons.

Young’s:         And evening having come, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all who were ill, and who were demoniacs,

Conte (RC):    Then, when evening arrived, after the sun had set, they brought to him all who had maladies and those who had demons.


1:32                 And at even, when the sun did set.  By now the conclusion had clearly sunk into the heads of all, that the four disciples had reached earlier in the day (1:30-31):  If Jesus could cast out a demon surely He could rid the body of lesser afflictions as well.  Since both the means and opportunity for healing were available they were determined to take advantage of it while both were present.  [rw]

they brought unto Him.  Unlike other crowds, this was divided into groups, and in the center of each of these, an object of intense [concern] to all its members, was some poor afflicted relative, who was suffering from one or other of the diseases that flesh is heir to.  [32]

                        all that were diseased [sick, NKJV].  One of the commonest errors in relation to the miracles of Christ is that they were few in number or that they are all recorded in detail.  To guard against this very error, after recording two particular miracles of healing at Capernaum, Mark adds a general statement of His other miraculous performances at the same time and place, from which we may obtain a vague but just idea of their aggregate amount.  [3]

                        and them that were possessed with devils [demon-possessed, NKJV].  Since they were controlled by demons they were “possessed” by them.  In English we tend to use the term of ownership and, in a very real sense, the demons “owned” these people in that they could make them do whatever particular self-harm that was within their power.  [rw]

                        In detail:  Why wait until the evening to perform these healings  [3]?   The mention of the evening and of sunset does not imply any scruple on our Lord's part as to healing on the Sabbath, which He had already done in this case and both did and justified in other cases (Mark 3:1-4).  It might more probably imply such scruples in the minds of the people, who would then be represented as deferring their request for healing till the close of the Sabbath, at the setting of the sun.

                        Even this, however, is unnecessary, as the fact in question is sufficiently explained by two more obvious considerations:  first, that the cool of the day would be better for the sick themselves, and secondly, that some time would be requisite to spread the news and bring the sick together.    



1:33                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     and the whole town was assembled at the door.

WEB:              All the city was gathered together at the door.

Young’s:         and the whole city was gathered together near the door,

Conte (RC):    And the entire city was gathered together at the door.


1:33                 And all the city.  The people of Capernaum.  None would be absent from a repetition of such miracles.  [25]

                        was gathered together at the door.  Not in any threatening sense but out of desperation for cures.  This was the one place where it seemed certain it was available and they were determined not to let the opportunity be lost.  Indeed, to do otherwise would have been neglectful of their obligation to family, kin, and neighbors.  [rw]



1:34                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Then He cured numbers of people who were ill with various diseases, and He drove out many demons; not allowing the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

WEB:              He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. He didn't allow the demons to speak, because they knew him.

Young’s:         and he healed many who were ill of manifold diseases, and many demons he cast forth, and was not suffering the demons to speak, because they knew him.

Conte (RC):    And he healed many who were troubled with various illnesses. And he cast out many demons, but he would not permit them to speak, because they knew him.


1:34                 And He healed many.  This does not imply that some were not healed, either because there was not time or because they lacked faith; both Matthew (8:16) and Luke (4:40) say that all were healed.  [11]

                        “All the city” were present (1:33) but only a percentage of them were sick and needed healing at all; hence the reference to “many” receiving the healing, indicating that the number was substantial even so.  [rw]

who were sick of divers [various, NKJV] diseases.  Not just one type of illness, but a variety, as one would expect in any community in any age.  [rw]

and cast out many devils [demons, NKJV].  The physically sick and the demoniacs are clearly distinguished (compare Matthew 8:16).  [12]

                        By doing this Jesus proved it was not a mere one type lucky coincidence that had healed the demonic in the synagogue, but the exercise of a power He could use when and where He pleased.  [rw] 

And suffered not [did not allow, NKJV] the devils to speak.  Implying that they would have spoken and doubtless in the strain of verse 24.  The reason for the prohibition was probably the moral incongruity.  "The demons also believe and tremble" (James 2:19); but it was not fitting that their testimony to the Holy One of God should be allowed to go among the people as one of the evidences of His mission.  [23]

                        because they knew Him.  "To be the Christ," is added here by several ancient and respectable manuscripts and versions; but it appears to be only an [interpretative] gloss [by a manuscript copyist].  [21]

                        Yet the context requires that they knew something about Jesus that He did not wish to become public knowledge at this time.  Although such healings were essential because plagued individuals were having to deal with the infestation, anything they said might be twisted into an “endorsement” by hostile parties.  Or might encourage an unhappily occupied nation that riding the land of the Romans could easily be done by someone before whom even demons quivered in fear.  [rw]



1:35                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     In the morning He rose early, while it was still quite dark, and leaving the house He went away to a solitary place and there prayed.

WEB:              Early in the morning, while it was still dark, he rose up and went out, and departed into a deserted place, and prayed there.

Young’s:         And very early, it being yet night, having risen, he went forth, and went away to a desert place, and was there praying;

Conte (RC):    And rising up very early, departing, he went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.


1:35                 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day.  He left in the night, fearing opposition from the people (verse 37).  [17]

                        There was also the danger of selfishness on the part of the community:  Why share such a successful healer with any one else?  One can easily imagine at least a few of the civic leaders also calculating how, if Jesus could be compelled to remain, the town would overflow with money carrying visitors seeking renewed health.  [rw]

He went out and departed.  The real reason of the flight was doubtless a desire to preach in as many synagogues as possible before the hostility of the scribes, instinctively dreaded, had time to act obstructively.  Jesus had a plan of a preaching tour in Galilee (cf. verse 38), and He felt he could not begin too soon.  [17]

                        into a solitary place.  An uninhabited region in the country.  [35]

                        and there prayed.  We can only speculate as to what He prayed about: 

Success can easily breed conceit and Jesus knew full well that He was only utilizing the power God shared with Him.  Personal ego had no place in what had been done or would be in the future.  Prayer is a purgative of such temptations. 

Not to mention that Jesus, merely in His human capacity, was astute enough to realize that not every day would go without loud and vocal opposition.  Hence He likely prayed as well for strength and steadfastness to His mission at all times.  [rw]  



1:36                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     And Simon and the others searched everywhere for Him.

WEB:              Simon and those who were with him followed after him;

Young’s:         and Simon and those with him went in quest of him,

Conte (RC):    And Simon, and those who were with him, followed after him.


1:36                 And Simon and they that were with him.  The group of four that had stayed in the home of Peter’s mother (1:29).  We are not told why they were successful in their search and the others were not.  Possibly due to acquaintance with Jesus’ known habits and the type of place He might seek out to pray alone.  [rw]

followed after Him [searched for Him, NKJV].  Mark uses a striking word:  It means pursue, to rush down upon as in a chase for game.  [34]          



1:37                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     When they found Him they said, "Every one is looking for you."

WEB:              and they found him, and told him, "Everyone is looking for you."

Young’s:         and having found him, they say to him, -- 'All do seek thee;'

Conte (RC):    And when they had found him, they said to him, "For everyone is seeking you."


1:37                 When they had found Him, they said unto Him.   The implication seems clear that they were no more thrilled with Jesus’ departure than the other locals.  They had a friendly home to stay in, had enjoyed great immediate success, every one was talking about what had happened.  Why go anywhere elsewhere for a while?  [rw]    

                        All men seek for thee.  Some to hear; some to be healed; some to be saved; and some, perhaps, through no good motive.  [21]

                        The disciples did not go out merely for themselves, but as the messengers of the townspeople, who wished Him to remain among them.    As He had gone away quietly, they feared that He did not intend to return, and so sent this message after Him.  [23]



1:38                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     "Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns," He replied, "that I may proclaim my Message there also; because for that purpose I came from God."

WEB:              He said to them, "Let's go elsewhere into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because I came out for this reason."

Young’s:         and he saith to them, 'We may go to the next towns, that there also I may preach, for for this I came forth.'

Conte (RC):    And he said to them: "Let us go into the neighboring towns and cities, so that I may preach there also. Indeed, it was for this reason that I came."


1:38                 And He said unto them, Let us go into the next towns.  He doesn’t deny that Capernaum was a pleasant enough place to work and labor.  His problem, He immediately points out, is that He envisions a far wider mission than was yet in their minds.  [rw]

that I may preach there also.  The towns and the villages will not come to the preacher--the preacher must go to them, if he desires their salvation.  [21]

                        for therefore [for this purpose, NKJV] came I forth.  i.e., not merely to preach, as distinguished from the working of miracles, but more especially to preach elsewhere than in Capernaum, to labor in a wider field.  [23]  



1:39                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     And He went through all Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and expelling the demons.

WEB:              He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out demons.

Young’s:         And he was preaching in their synagogues, in all Galilee, and is casting out the demons,

Conte (RC):    And he was preaching in their synagogues and throughout all of Galilee, and casting out demons.


1:39                 And He preached in their synagogues.  A logical gathering place for those interested in serving God.  One’s audience would include many in that category even if you ultimately butted heads with the self-centered as well.  The custom of the time of being willing to listen to visitors speak also worked in Jesus’ favor so far as gaining an audience.  Not to mention curiosity as what a widely reknowned healer might have to say on spiritual matters.  [rw]

throughout all Galilee.  The language is popular, not exact.  Galilee was a crowded region, and He cannot have visited strictly every part.  The length of this tour has been variously estimated, but cannot be exactly ascertained; it is safe to say that it must have covered some weeks.  [23]

                        and cast out devils [demons, NKJV].  Location had no impact on His ability to work miracles.  As word spread that this was the case, it inevitably increased the aura of expectation and hope that He would travel to their community.  If He had done such things far away, what might He accomplish in their own town?  [rw]


                        For additional information on Galilee, see the extended discussion at the end of the chapter by (Sir) George Adam Smith, The Historical Geography of the Holy Land (1897).



1:40                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     One day there came a leper to Jesus entreating Him, and pleading on his knees. "If you are willing," he said, "you are able to cleanse me."

WEB:              A leper came to him, begging him, kneeling down to him, and saying to him, "If you want to, you can make me clean."

Young’s:         and there doth come to him a leper, calling on him, and kneeling to him, and saying to him -- 'If thou mayest will, thou art able to cleanse me.'

Conte (RC):    And a leper came to him, begging him. And kneeling down, he said to him, "If you are willing, you are able to cleanse me."


1:40                 And there came a leper to Him.  The law required a leper to remain at a distance from other men (Leviticus 13:45-46).  But this man's eagerness to be healed led him to disregard the law; nor did Jesus reprove him for doing so.  [35]           

                        beseeching Him and kneeling down to Him.   Not as an act of worship, but as a natural gesture of entreaty.  To us it seems a matter of course that He should cleanse the lepers as well as heal the sick; but it was in fact a very doubtful question till determined in the case before us.  [3]

                        Recognizing, by his behavior, respect and acknowledgement of Jesus’ superiority to others—in this case not of position or authority but of miracle working power to heal. You do not approach someone who can help you, growling your head off but with courtesy and respect. [rw]

And saying unto Him, If Thou wilt.  He had, therefore, no doubt of the ability of Christ to heal him, and that, considering the incurable nature of leprosy, was an indication of great faith.  How he came to have such faith in the power of Christ we are not informed.  But he must have heard of His miracles of healing elsewhere, and though this is the first recorded instance of the cure of a leper by the Lord, it is possible that there might be cases of leprosy among the diseases which he had healed.  But whether there were or not, there was in this man's heart an unwavering assurance that the Lord could make him clean, if he would.  [32]

                        Thou canst make me clean.  Healed, well.  [35]

                        In detail:  The nature of leprosy  [2].  There is some doubt how far the leprosy mentioned in Scripture is identical with the disease of that name found in the East today.  No doubt there were various forms of it.  In some cases, though loathsome, it was not fatal, and even permitted an active life, e.g., Naaman the Syrian general was a leper (2 Kings 5:1).

                        But in its worst types leprosy poisoned the whole system, so that limbs and features gradually decayed and dropped off.  The Jews called it the "finger of God," and "the stroke," from its mysterious origin and deadly nature.  The chief terror it bore for them, however, lay in the conditions attached to it by law.  The leper was excluded from the house of God, and from the comforts of home and friends when in sore need of them.  He dwelt alone, or in leper villages, among wretched sufferers like himself.  With head bare, lips covered, and clothes rent, he had to stand apart and warn off approaching wayfarers with the doleful cry, "Unclean, unclean" (Leviticus 13:44-46).



1:41                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Moved with pity Jesus reached out His hand and touched him. "I am willing," He said; "be cleansed."

WEB:              Being moved with compassion, he stretched out his hand, and touched him, and said to him, "I want to. Be made clean."

Young’s:         And Jesus having been moved with compassion, having stretched forth the hand, touched him, and saith to him, 'I will; be thou cleansed;'

Conte (RC):    Then Jesus, taking pity on him, reached out his hand. And touching him, he said to him: "I am willing. Be cleansed."


1:41                 And Jesus, moved with compassion.  Of the three evangelists by whom this miracle has been recorded, Mark alone describes our Saviour's feelings in performing it.  [3]

                        put forth His hand and touched him.  The touch of a leper was forbidden, as defiling.  [19]

                        It was a plain declaration of His indifference to ceremonial defilement.  [23]

                        And saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.  Jesus says He wishes the man healed.  Immediately he is.  What else can the crowd conclude than that Jesus exercises the miraculous working powers of God?  [rw]



1:42                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     The leprosy at once left him, and he was cleansed.

WEB:              When he had said this, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was made clean.

Young’s:         and he having spoken, immediately the leprosy went away from him, and he was cleansed.

Conte (RC):    And after he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.


1:42                 And as soon as He had spoken.  There was no delay in the healing; it was immediate, instantaneous.  “Words are cheap” but when the supernatural immediately and in the clearest form manifests itself, there is no gainsaying that something “impossible” has happened.  And can the person who does such be any less than a messenger of God—if not far more? [rw]

immediately the leprosy departed from him.  The cure was instantaneous and complete.  Not in vain had the man ventured upon the power and willingness of Jesus.  [23]

                        and he was cleansed.  The word used here and elsewhere of the removal of leprosy is significant.  Whilst the sick were healed, lepers were cleansed.  Cleansing was what the man asked, and what he received.  It was not, with this class of the afflicted, the disease as such that was prominent, although it might in the end prove fatal; but it was the ceremonial pollution that was the depressing calamity.  And in the cure the healing was lost sight of in the cleansing.  [45]



1:43                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Jesus at once sent him away, strictly charging him,

WEB:              He strictly warned him, and immediately sent him out,

Young’s:         And having sternly charged him, immediately he put him forth,

Conte (RC):    And he admonished him, and he promptly sent him away.


1:43                 And he straitly charged him [strictly warned him, NKJV].  It implies severity in tone and manner.  [23]

                        and forthwith [at once, NKJV] sent him away.  The [Greek] word is also a strong word, being the common word for "casting out" evil spirits.  Jesus urged the man quickly away, with a very stern injunction of silence about the miracle.  [23]

                        Important and beneficial as Jesus’ healing power was, there was always the danger that people would view Him as just as a healer rather than an authoritative teacher as well.  Healings He did to benefit others and to prove that Divine authority stood behind His words—of both healing and teaching.  But if they still had moral leprosy of the soul due to neglecting that teaching, all the physical curing in the world would only do them short term good.  [rw]



1:44                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     and saying, "Be careful not to tell any one, but go and show yourself to the Priest, and for your purification present the offerings that Moses appointed as evidence for them."

WEB:              and said to him, "See you say nothing to anybody, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing the things which Moses commanded, for a testimony to them."       

Young’s:         and saith to him, 'See thou mayest say nothing to any one, but go away, thyself shew to the priest, and bring near for thy cleansing the things Moses directed, for a testimony to them.'

Conte (RC):    And he said to him: "See to it that you tell no one. But go and show yourself to the high priest, and offer for your cleansing that which Moses instructed, as a testimony for them."


1:44                 And saith unto him, see thou say nothing to any man.  The charge to tell no man might be given, lest by the premature publication of his wondrous works matters might be precipitated to a crisis before the time; or lest the Lord Himself might be hindered in His work by the crowds which would be attracted to Him by the publication of the miracle; or lest the man might be injured spiritually by making a boast of his cure, looking at it and speaking of it as a manifestation of special divine favor to himself.  [32]

                                but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest.  This [command] was no doubt intended to secure his prompt performance of a duty which he might otherwise have postponed or omitted altogether.  This was the duty of subjecting himself to the inspection of a priest, and obtaining his official recognition of the cure which had been wrought upon him.  That recognition would of course be followed by the offerings prescribed in the Mosaic law for such occasions (Leviticus 14:1-32).  By this Christ not only provided for the full authentication of the miracle, but as it were, defined his own relation to the ceremonial law, as a divine institution, and as being still in force.  [3]

                        and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them.  viz (1) two birds, "alive and [ceremonially] clean," (2) cedar wood, (3) scarlet, and (4) hyssop (Leviticus 14:4-7).  On the eighth day further offerings were to be made:  (1)  two he lambs without blemish, (2)  one ewe lamb without blemish, (3)  three tenth deals of fine flour, (4)  one log of oil (Leviticus 14:10).  If the leper was poor, he was permitted to offer one lamb and two turtle-doves or two young pigeons, with one-tenth deal of fine flour (Leviticus 14:21-22).  [8]



1:45                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     But the man, when he went out, began to tell every one and to publish the matter abroad, so that it was no longer possible for Jesus to go openly into any town; but He had to remain outside in unfrequented places, where people came to Him from all parts.

WEB:              But he went out, and began to proclaim it much, and to spread about the matter, so that Jesus could no more openly enter into a city, but was outside in desert places: and they came to him from everywhere.

Young’s:         And he, having gone forth, began to proclaim much, and to spread abroad the thing, so that no more he was able openly to enter into the city, but he was without in desert places, and they were coming unto him from every quarter.

Conte (RC):    But having departed, he began to preach and to disseminate the word, so that he was no longer able to openly enter a city, but had to remain outside, in deserted places. And they were gathered to him from every direction.


1:45                 But he went out and began to publish it much [proclaim it freely, NKJV] and to blaze abroad [spread, NKJV] the matter.  Others in similar circumstances did not keep silence:  (1)  the blind men (Matthew 9:30-31); (2) the man with an impediment of speech (Mark 7:36).  [8]

                        insomuch that Jesus could no longer openly enter into the city.  Whether the cleansed leper went to the priests at all is not recorded, being a matter of small historical importance in comparison with the effect of his disobedience on our Lord's own movements.  This effect was to prevent His coming "into town" (i.e., any town, not the town, i.e., Capernaum), at least publicly and openly.  [3] 

                        Or:  By “the town” is meant Capernaum, the residence of Jesus when not engaged in His travels.  So, in the next verse [2:1], “the house” is the house in which he usually dwelt in Capernaum.  [48] 

                        But was without in desert [deserted, NKJV] places:  and they came to Him from every quarter.  Farrar strangely supposes that Jesus having touched the leper was regarded as unclean, and therefore not permitted to enter into the city; but if this feeling had been strong enough to exclude him from the cities, it would have kept the people from coming to him “from every quarter.”  [45]




Nazareth during the time of Jesus’ youth and adulthood:  From (Sir) George Adam Smith, The Historical Geography of the Holy Land (1897):


Before we go down to the Lake, let us focus them upon the one town away from the Lake, which is of supreme interest to us—Nazareth.  Nazareth is usually represented as a secluded and an obscure village. Many writers on the life of our Lord have emphasised this, holding it proved by the silence of the Gospels concerning His childhood and youth. But the value of a vision of the Holy Land is that it fills the silences of the Holy Book, and from it we receive a very different idea of the early life of our Lord from the one generally current among us.

The position of Nazareth is familiar to all. The village lies on the most southern of the ranges of Lower Galilee, and on the edge of this just above the Plain of Esdraelon. You cannot see from Nazareth the surrounding country, for Nazareth rests in a basin among hills; but the moment you climb to the edge of this basin, which is everywhere within the limit of the village boys' playground, what a view you have!

The position of Esdraelon lies before you, with its twenty battle-fields—the scenes of Barak's and of Gideon's victories, the scenes of Saul's and Josiah's defeats, the scenes of the struggles for freedom in the glorious days of the Maccabees. There is Naboth's vineyard and the place of Jehu's revenge upon Jezebel; there Shunem and the house of Elisha; there Carmel and the place of Elijah's sacrifice. To the east the Valley of Jordan, with the long range of Gilead; to the west the radiance of the Great Sea, with the ships of Tarshish and the promise of the Isles. You see thirty miles in three directions. It is a map of Old Testament history.

But equally full and rich was the present life on which the eyes of the boy Jesus looked out. Across Esdraelon, opposite to Nazareth, there emerged from boyhood the Samarian hills the road from Jerusalem, thronged annually with pilgrims, and the road from Egypt with its merchants going up and down. The Midianitc caravans could be watched for miles coming up from the fords of Jordan; and, as we have seen, the caravans from Damascus wound round the foot of the hill on which Nazareth stands.

Or if the village boys climbed the northern edge of their hollow home, there was another road within sight, where the companies were still more brilliant—the highway between Acre and the Decapolis, along which legions marched, and princes swept with their retinues, and all sorts of travellers from all countries went to and fro. The Roman ranks, the Roman eagles, the wealth of noblemen's litters and equipages cannot have been strange to the eyes of the boys of Nazareth, especially after their twelfth year, when they went up to Jerusalem, or visited with their fathers famous Rabbis, who came down from Jerusalem, peripatetic among the provinces. Nor can it have been the eye only which was stirred.

For all the rumour of the Empire entered Palestine close to Nazareth—the news from Rome, about the Emperor's health, about the changing influence of the great statesmen, about the prospects at court of Herod, or of the Jews; about Caesar's last order concerning the tribute, or whether the policy of the Procurator would be sustained. Many Galilean families must have had relatives in Rome; Jews would come back to this countryside to tell of the life of the world's capital. Moreover, the scandals of the Herods buzzed up and down these roads; pedlars carried them, and the peripatetic Rabbis would moralise upon them. The customs, too, of the neighbouring Gentiles—their loose living, their sensuous worship, their absorption in business, the hopelessness of the inscriptions on their tombs, multitudes of which were readable (as some are still) on the roads round Galilee —all this would furnish endless talk in Nazareth, both among men and boys

See also a very striking passage on Galilee in Mr. Walter Besant's Lecture on the Work of the Palestine Exploration Fund, in The City and the Land, 114 f.: 'Palestine was not an obscure country . , . He who wandered among the hills and valley of Galilee was never far from some great and populous city ... It was not as a rustic preaching to rustics that our Lord went about . . . He went forth in a part [of the Roman Empire] full of Roman civilisation, busy and populous, where, at every turn, He would meet with something to mark the empire to which He belonged.'

Here, then, He grew up and suffered temptation, Who was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. The perfection of His purity and patience was achieved not easily as behind a wide fence which shut the world out, but amid rumour and scandal with every provocation to unlawful curiosity and premature ambition. The pressure and problems of the world outside God's people must have been felt by the youth of Nazareth as by few others; yet the scenes of prophetic missions to it—Elijah's and Elisha's—were also within sight. A vision of all the kingdoms of the world was as possible from this village as from the mount of temptation. But the chief lesson which Nazareth teaches to us is the possibility of a pure home and a spotless youth in the very face of the evil world.





            An in-depth note on the geography of the Galilee region:  From (Sir) George Adam Smith, The Historical Geography of the Holy Land (1897):

(In spite of its age this is still considered one of the superior written descriptions of the physical geography and resources of Palestine.)


The extension of the Jewish state under John Hyrcanus, 135-105, must have enabled many Jews to return to the attractive province without fear of persecution, and either that monarch or his successor added Galilee to his domains, and sought to enforce the law upon its inhabitants. Very soon afterwards, in 104, Galilee had developed a loyalty to the Jewish state sufficient to throw off a strong invader.

From this time onwards it was, therefore, natural to drop out of her name the words, of the Gentiles, which were before this time not always used, but the definite article was retained, and throughout the New Testament she was known as the Galilee. It was, we can understand, pleasing to the patriotism of her proud inhabitants to call their famous and beautiful province, The Region.

The natural boundaries of Galilee are obvious. South, the Plain of Esdraelon (and we have seen why this frontier should be the southern and not the northern edge of the plain); north, the great gorge of the Litany or Kasimiyeh, cutting off Lebanon; east, the valley of the Jordan and the Lake of Gennesaret; and west, the narrow Phoenician coast.

This region coincides pretty closely with the territories of four tribes—Issachar, Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali. But the sea-coast, claimed for Zebulun and Asher, never belonged either to them or to the province of Galilee: it was always Gentile. On the other hand, owing to the weakness of the Samaritans, Carmel was reckoned to Galilee when it was not in the hands of the men of Tyre; and the eastern shores of Gennesaret also fell within the province.

Exclusive of these two additions, Galilee measured about fifty miles north to south, and from twenty-five to thirtyfive east and west. The area was only about 1600 square miles, or that of an average English shire.

The whole province falls into four divisions. There is the Jordan Valley with its two lakes, that singular chasm, which runs along the east of Galilee, sinking from Hermon's base to more than 700 feet below the level of the ocean. From this valley, and corresponding roughly to its three divisions,—below the Lake of Tiberias, the lake itself, and above the lake,—three belts or strips run westward:  first, the Plain of Esdraelon; second, the so-called Lower Galilee, a series of long parallel ranges, all below 1850 feet, which, with broad valleys between them, cross from the plateau above Tiberias to the maritime plains of Haifa and Acre; and third, Upper Galilee, a series of plateaus, with a double water-parting, and surrounded by hills from 2000 to 4000 feet.

As you gaze north from the Samarian border, these three zones rise in steps above one another to the beginnings of Lebanon; and from the north-east, over the gulf of the Jordan, the snowy head of Hermon looks down athwart them.

The controlling feature of Galilee is her relation to these great mountains. To her dependence on the Lebanons, Galilee owes her water and her immense superiority in fruitfulness to both Judaea and Samaria. This is not because Galilee has a greater rainfall—her excess in that respect is slight, and during the dry season showers are almost as unknown as in the rest of Palestine. But the moisture, seen and unseen, which the westerly winds lavish on the Lebanons, are stored by them for Galilee's sake, and dispensed to her with unfailing regularity all round the year.

They break out in the full-born rivers of the Upper Jordan Valley, and in the wealth of wells among her hills. When Judaea is dry they feed the streams of Gennesaret and Esdraelon. In winter the springs of Kishon burst so richly from the ground, that the Great Plain about Tabor is a quagmire; even in summer there are fountains in Esdraelon, round which the thickets keep green; and in the glens running up to Lower Galilee the paths cross rivulets and sometimes wind round a marsh.

In the long cross valleys, winter lakes last till July, and farther north the autumn streams descend both watersheds with a music unheard in Southern Palestine. In fact, the difference in this respect between Galilee and Judaea is just the difference between their names—the one liquid and musical like her running waters, the other dry and dead like the fall of your horse's hoof on her blistered and muffled rock. So much water means an exuberant fertility.

Take Lower and Upper Galilee, with their more temperate climate. They are almost as well wooded as our own land. Tabor is covered with bush, and on its northern side with large, loose groves of forest trees. The road which goes up from the Bay of Carmel to Nazareth winds, as among English glades, with open woods of oak and an abundance of flowers and grass.

Often, indeed, as about Nazareth, the limestone breaks out not less bare and dusty than in Judaea itself, but over the most of Lower Galilee there is a profusion of bush, with scattered forest trees—holly-oak, maple, sycomore, baytree, myrtle, arbutus, sumac and others—and in the valleys olive orchards and stretches of fat corn-land. Except for some trees like the sycomore, Upper Galilee is quite as rich. It is 'an undulating table-land, arable, and everywhere tilled, with swelling hills in view all round, covered with shrubs and trees.'

Above Tyre there is a great plateau, sloping westwards. It is 'all cultivated, and thronged with villages.' To the south of the Wady el Ma the country is more rugged, and cultivation is now pursued only in patches; yet even here are vines and olives. Round Jotapata Josephus speaks of timber being cut down for the town's defence. Gischala was noted for its oil.

Throughout the province olives were so abundant that a proverb ran, 'It is easier to raise a legion of olives in Galilee than to bring up a child in Palestine.' Even on the high waterparting between Huleh and the Mediterranean, the fields are fertile, while the ridges are covered with forests of small oaks. To the inhabitants of such a land, the more luxuriant vegetation of the hot plains on either side spreads its temptations in vain.

To so generous a land the inhabitants, during that part of her history which concerns us, responded with energy. 'Their soil,' says Josephus,' is universally rich and fruitful and full of the plantations of trees of all sorts, insomuch that it invites, by its fruitfulness, the most slothful to take pains in its cultivation. Accordingly it is all cultivated by its inhabitants, and no part of it lies idle.'

The villages were frequent, there were many fortified towns, and the population was very numerous. We may not accept all that Josephus reports in these respects —he reckons a population of nearly three millions—but there are good reasons for the possibility of his high figures; and in any case the province was very thickly peopled. Save in the recorded hours of our Lord's praying, the history of Galilee has no intervals of silence and loneliness; the noise of a close and busy life is always audible; and to every crisis in the Gospels and in Josephus we see crowds immediately swarm.

One other national feature of Galilee must not be passed over. The massive limestone of her range is broken here and there by volcanic extrusions—an extinct volcanic crater, for instance, near Gischala, dykes of basalt, and scatterings of lava upon the plateau above the lake. Hot sulphur springs flow by Tiberias, and the whole province has been shaken by terrible earthquakes.

The nature of the people was also volcanic. Josephus describes them as 'ever fond of innovations, and by nature disposed to changes, and delighting in seditions.' They had an ill name for quarrelling. From among them came the chief zealots and wildest fanatics of the Roman wars.