From: Over 50 Interpreters Explain the Gospel of Mark Return to Home
By Roland H. Worth, Jr. © 2013
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WEB: He went out from there. He came into his own country, and his disciples followed him.
Young’s: And he went forth thence, and came to his own country, and his disciples do follow him,
Conte (RC): And departing from there, he went away to his own country; and his disciples followed him.
6:1 He went out from thence. i.e., from
and came into to His own country. The district of Nazareth where He had been brought up and where His
kinsfolk after the flesh still lived.
This is Mark's only direct reference to his connection with Nazareth, but the reference proves that he knew at least something of the facts recorded by Matthew (2:23) and Luke (1:26; 2:39), and serves as one of the confirmatory "cross-references" between the Gospels--the more important, perhaps, as it relates to the period which lies beyond the limits prescribed to Mark by the purpose of his Gospel. 
And His disciples followed Him. Probably only the twelve; for the term is sometimes restricted to this nearer circle of the body of believers. The multitudes that had thronged Him did not now follow Him. 
Weymouth: On the Sabbath He proceeded to teach in the synagogue; and many, as they heard Him, were astonished. "Where did he acquire all this?" they asked. "What is this wisdom that has been given to him? And what are these marvellous miracles which his hands perform?
WEB: When the Sabbath had come, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many hearing him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things?" and, "What is the wisdom that is given to this man, that such mighty works come about by his hands?
Young’s: and sabbath having come, he began in the synagogue to teach, and many hearing were astonished, saying, 'Whence hath this one these things? and what the wisdom that was given to him, that also such mighty works through his hands are done?
Conte (RC): And when the Sabbath arrived, he began to teach in the synagogue. And many, upon hearing him, were amazed at his doctrine, saying: "Where did this one get all these things?" and, "What is this wisdom, which has been given to him?" and, "Such powerful deeds, which are wrought by his hands!"
6:2 And when the Sabbath was
come, He began to teach in the synagogue. From
the beginning of His ministry it was the custom of Jesus to attend upon this
worship and teach. Luke (), with reference to the former visit to
and many hearing Him were astonished. They were astonished at the ability, the sublimity, the holiness of His teaching, as well as at the signs and wonders by which He confirmed it. 
whence hath this Man these things? They
own Christ's wisdom in His teaching, and the reality of His miracles, of which
they had evidently heard; but the fact that He was one of themselves made them
angry that He should have such gifts and suspicious of where He had got
them. They seem to have had the same
opinion as Nathanael--that no “good thing” come out of
And what wisdom is this which is given unto Him[?] Whilst they sneer that his wisdom is not inherent, but received from another, they acknowledge its existence. 
that even such
mighty works are wrought [performed,
NKJV] by His hands!
WEB: Isn't this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judah, and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" They were offended at him.
Young’s: Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?' -- and they were being stumbled at him.
Conte (RC): "Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joseph, and Jude, and Simon? Are not his sisters also here with us?" And they took great offense at him.
6:3 Is this not the carpenter . . . ? Mark does not assert that Jesus was a carpenter; and these fellow-townsmen may have intended no more than a designation of Him from His father's occupation, which indeed is their language, as Matthew gives it, "Is not this the carpenter's son?" Yet we naturally infer that the historian meant to make the impression that Jesus was Himself a carpenter. Every Jew was required, by their traditional laws or customs, to teach his son some trade; and as a matter of course the son would often learn that of the father, whether or not he followed it through life. Admitting the natural inference from the language here recorded, we have presented to us the fact that Jesus, who came to take our nature and bear the curse for us, “ate His bread in the sweat of His face" (Genesis 3:19), an element in the first pronounced curse upon fallen man, and that He spent the greater part of His live on earth in such labor, as is the lot of the great mass of our toiling struggling race. These fellow-citizens were not willing to look up to one as a teacher, who had spent His early years among them in labor, although the occupation of a builder was, and has always been, honorable. They disdained honoring Him as a superior. Spite, envy, and jealousy swayed them. 
the Son of Mary. The absence of the name of Joseph has always been taken to show that Mary was now known apart from her husband--i.e., as a widow. Joseph is mentioned in the record of the previous visit: "Is not this Joseph's son?" It would be too much to infer that he had died between the two visits but it does seem probable that he died not long before the first, if not after it. 
the brother of James, and Joses, and of Judas, and Simon? The view that Mary had other children furnishes an argument in favor of the historical character of the Gospels. Had the story of the miraculous conception been a fiction, the Evangelists, to give consistency to the tale, would have denied that our Lord had any brothers instead of speaking of them without reserve. 
And are not His sisters here with us? Of whom no names are given and of whose history we know nothing. The only hint as to their number is found in the word “all” used by Matthew: "Are not his sisters all with us?" The word indicates that they numbered three or four at least. 
And they were offended at Him. They took it ill that one brought up amongst them as a carpenter should set Himself up as a prophet and a teacher; just as there are those in every age who are apt to take it amiss if they see any one spring from a trade into the [college professor's] chair. 
In depth: How close a physical kinship with Jesus does the term "brothers" imply?45 Brother in its proper restricted sense means the son of the same parent or parents; but in a wider sense it is used of persons associated together, and indeed of our fellow-men generally; and as some maintain, of cousins or other kindred.
Is the word here used in its narrow or its wide sense? In favor of their being the real brothers and sisters of Jesus, it is properly urged that it is a sound rule of interpretation, to give a word its ordinary sense, unless there be strong reason for giving it a less common signification. There is nothing in the context here, nor in any of the other passages where the relatives of Jesus are mentioned, that gives initiation of any other than the ordinary usage of brother and sister. It must, however, be admitted that establishing the fact that these were actual brothers of Jesus does not prove certainly that they were the children of Mary; since they may have been, in accordance with an old traditional belief, the sons of Joseph by a former marriage. The objection to this theory is that it is a mere assumption, without the slightest historical basis.
WEB: Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own relatives, and in his own house."
Young’s: And Jesus said to them -- 'A prophet is not without honour, except in his own country, and among his kindred, and in his own house;'
Conte (RC): And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and in his own house, and among his own kindred."
6:4 But Jesus said unto them. They
had challenged him and so he readily gave a response. At least their challenge was a logical
one: He came--from a socially and
leadership perspective--from “nowhere,” so how could He have accumulated
such insight (“wisdom”)? His response
basically argues that the question is an irrelevancy; what counts is that He does
have that insight and willingly used it.
“Status” and “credentials” are an irrelevancy in comparison. [rw]
A prophet. We have a similar proverb, “familiarity breeds contempt.” He repeats almost the same proverb which He before uttered in their hearing, and from the same place (Luke ). 
is not not without honor except in his own country. If a minister have faults, they are known there, and he is censured; if he have great talents, they excite envy, and he is opposed; if he make himself [friendly] he loses respect, and his influence is thus impaired; if he do not, he is counted proud, and avoided. 
and among his own kin [relatives, KJV], and in his own house. Whatever may be the cause that prejudices acquaintances and associates from childhood against looking up with reverence to one of their own number, that it is a general if not universal fact cannot be disputed. This seems to be aimed at the unbelief of His own brethren (John 7:5). 
We have a similar proverb, "Familiarity breeds contempt." 
Weymouth: And He could not do any miracle there, except that He laid His hands on a few who were out of health and cured them; and
WEB: He could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people, and healed them.
Young’s: and he was not able there any mighty work to do, except on a few infirm people having put hands he did heal them;
Conte (RC): And he was not able to perform any miracles there, except that he cured a few of the infirm by laying his hands on them.
6:5 Now He could do no mighty work there. Matthew says, “not many mighty works;” and Mark, “no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk and healed them." They agree that a few were healed and Matthew gives the reason why the number was so small--"because f their unbelief." The statement that "he could do there no mighty word" etc. does not mean that it was physically impossible; for the same power which healed a few could have healed more; but He could not do more because it was improper. When He had wrought a number of miracles without shaking the unbelief of the people, others would have had even less effect and would have been worse than unclean; to work them, therefore, would have been an improper expenditure of time and power. 
The men of
Except that he laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. He wrought none of His greater miracles there. Of course, even these less striking miracles ought to have sufficed. 
WEB: He marveled because of their unbelief. He went around the villages teaching.
Young’s: and he wondered because of their unbelief. And he was going round the villages, in a circle, teaching,
Conte (RC): And he wondered, because of their unbelief, and he traveled around in the villages, teaching.
6:6 And He marveled because of their unbelief. He is twice recorded to have wondered--once at a Gentile's faith, once at His townsmen's unbelief. He wondered at the first because it showed so unusual a susceptibility; at the second, because it showed so unreasonable a blindness. 
condition of mind of these Nazarenes was what caused amazement to the Saviour. At length,
He turned away from
Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching. The unbelief of the Nazarenes, though his life-long acquaintances, did not stop the activity of Jesus. 
Literally, "in a circle, in a circuit," implying systematic visitation, probably repeated periodically. 
WEB: He called to himself the twelve, and began to send them out two by two; and he gave them authority over the unclean spirits.
Young’s: and he doth call near the twelve, and he began to send them forth two by two, and he was giving them power over the unclean spirits,
Conte (RC): And he called the twelve. And he began to send them out in twos, and he gave them authority over unclean spirits.
6:7 And He called the twelve to Himself. Hitherto, since they were ordained (), they had been with Jesus as attendants
and learners; now they were to begin the work to which He had appointing
them. Yet this was only a preliminary
mission, confined to "the lost sheep of the house of
and began to send them out. "Apostle" means one sent forth. 
Moses sent twelve men of
the twelve tribes of
two by two. See Ecclesiastes 4:8-12—a passage that one may almost think Jesus cited to the twelve in the course of His preparations for their mission. 
A detail peculiar to Mark, who in his list of names does not group the apostles in pairs as the other Synoptists do--an undesigned coincidence worthy of notice. 
Two and two is a wise rule for all Christian workers. It checks individual peculiarities of self-will, helps to keep off faults, wholesomely stimulates, strengthens faith by giving another to hear it and to speak it, brings companionship, and admits of division of labour. 
and gave them power over unclean spirits. Here, as elsewhere, Mark places the casting out of demons at the head of the miraculous cures. If Jesus had not been perfectly sure that He could [bestow] such power, He [would have undermined] His own designs to send them on such an errand. No impostor would ever have acted a part, such as this, nor is it possible for man to contrive a more certain method of ruining his own credit. 
Unclean spirits are specified, but the subsequent verses show that miracle-working power in its other forms was included. We may call that Christ's greatest miracle. That He could, by His mere will, endow a dozen men with such power, is more, if degree comes into view at all, then that He Himself should exercise it. 
In depth: Who was in each two man pair ? As for the division of the twelve into pairs, of course we cannot tell positively how it was done; but there is every reason to suppose that the division that is elsewhere given was observed. The pairs were probably Peter and Andrew, brothers; James and John, brothers; Philip and Bartholomew, friends before they met Jesus; Matthew and Thomas, probably twin-brothers; James, the son of Alphaeus, and "Judas of James," of whose relation nothing very certain can be said; and Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. May there possibly have been something in the presence of the Zealot at his side from which the evil heart of Judas drew nourishment for a worldly ideal of the Messiah and discontent with Jesus? The six pairs probably went out in as many different directions, very likely not meeting again until their mission was fully accomplished.
WEB: He commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a staff only: no bread, no wallet, no money in their purse,
Young’s: and he commanded them that they may take nothing for the way, except a staff only -- no scrip, no bread, no brass in the girdle,
Conte (RC): And he instructed them not to take anything for the journey, except a staff: no traveling bag, no bread, and no money belt,
6:8 He commanded them. The special instructions given to the Twelve were practical and were not intended to express poverty or to entail special hardship. They were such as an oriental peasant might observe today if sent on a short and important mission. They were not to delay for extensive preparation, they were not to be burdened by needless equipment, they were to expect [help] from those to whom they preached the gospel and brought relief. 
to take nothing for the journey. The reason He gave is recorded by Matthew (), “for the workman is worthy of his meat." That they who preached the gospel should live of the gospel is the law of Christ's kingdom (1 Corinthians ) and its being set forth here was not for the apostles alone but for the whole church. 
except a staff--. The staff in both Matthew and Luke is among the things prohibited, which seems to conflict with its being here mentioned as allowed. The prohibition in those gospels may refer to their procuring a staff beyond what they then had. Whatever may be the solution of this minor difficulty, the general meaning is clear; they were to go without preparation and without encumbrance, relying for a supply of their wants, under providence, on those to whom they were to preach. 
Or: Those who had a staff might use it; those who had not one were not to trouble themselves to procure one. 
no bag. [It] was of leather, "the skins of kids stripped off whole, and tanned by a very simple process," used especially to carry their food on a journey, and slung over their shoulders. 
no bread. They were to depend upon finding food as they went. 
no copper. Literally, "brass," or rather "copper." Copper having been early used for money, the word has sometimes that generic meaning, as it has in this place, with specific reference no doubt to [the] coin of the lowest value, like the plural "coppers" among [the nineteenth century British]. 
in their money belts— Where they would normally carry whatever cash, if any, that they had on them. [rw]
WEB: but to wear sandals, and not put on two tunics.
Young’s: but having been shod with sandals, and ye may not put on two coats.
Conte (RC): but to wear sandals, and not to wear two tunics.
6:9 but to wear sandals. They were prohibited from carrying extra sandals, according to Matthew and Luke, but are here permitted to wear them as was customary. 
interpretation: According to St. Matthew,
shoes are forbidden directly; according to St. Mark they are forbidden
by implication, where he says that they were to be shod with sandals. Shoes are here forbidden which cover the
whole foot, not sandals which only protect the soles of the feet lest they
should be injured by the rocky ground.
The soil of
and not to put on two tunics. The dress of a person who lived in
WEB: He said to them, "Wherever you enter into a house, stay there until you depart from there.
Young’s: And he said to them, 'Whenever ye may enter into a house, there remain till ye may depart thence,
Conte (RC): And he said to them: "Whenever you have entered into a house, stay there until you depart from that place.
Also He said to them, In whatever place you enter a house. They were first to inquire who was “worthy” (Matthew ), that is, a suitable person to entertain them during their sojourn. 
stay there till you depart from that place. This direction was given to them lest they appear to be fickle and restless or lest they hurt the feelings of those with whom they had first lodged. 
will not receive you nor hear you, as you depart from there, shake off the dust
that is under your feet for a testimony against them. Assuredly, I tell you, it
will be more tolerable for
Young’s: and as many as may not receive you, nor hear you, going out thence, shake off the dust that is under your feet for a testimony to them; verily I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom or Gomorrah in a day of judgment than for that city.'
Conte (RC): And whoever will neither receive you, nor listen to you, as you go away from there, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them."
And whoever will not receive you nor hear you. The former phrase refers to a refusal of hospitality, the latter to a rejection of their message. 
The Lord prepared His apostles to find some who would refuse to hear their message. The Saviour neither enjoins nor permits His Apostles to employ their Apostolical power to avenge themselves nor even to desire that He should do it. 
when you depart from there. "Out of that house or city" (Matthew ). 
shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. A very significant action. The dust was shaken off as an evidence of the toil and labor of the apostles in journeying to them. It witnessed that they had entered the city and had delivered the message and that their message had been refused. The very dust, therefore, of the place was a defilement to them. 
For instances of the carrying out of this command, compare the conduct of Paul at Antioch, in Pisidia, Acts 13:51, and at Corinth, Acts 18:6. The action must be regarded as symbolical of a complete cessation of all fellowship, and a renunciation of all further responsibility. 
Assuredly, I say to you. You can rest absolutely confident it will happen this way because I’ve told you ahead of time. [rw]
It will be more tolerable for
WEB: They went out and preached that people should repent.
Young’s: And having gone forth they were preaching that men might reform,
Conte (RC): And going out, they were preaching, so that people would repent.
So they went out and preached. Omitting the long speech of instruction and prophecy which Jesus at this time addressed to the twelve (Matthew -42). Mark states what Matthew omits--the manner in which they executed their commission. They “preached that men should repent." This single duty, enforced by the solemn fact that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matthew 10:7), constituted the substance of their earnest and simple appeal to their Jewish brethren. 
that people should repent. This was their great work, to which the miracles were subordinate. 
However much healing helped in the “here and now,” it was vital that people also be prepared for the world beyond, of which this world is but a tiny chronological slice. [rw]
WEB: They cast out many demons, and anointed many with oil who were sick, and healed them.
Young’s: and many demons they were casting out, and they were anointing with oil many infirm, and they were healing them.
Conte (RC): And they cast out many demons, and they anointed many of the sick with oil and healed them.
And they cast out many demons. It is unlikely that anything could impress the apostles more concerning how much raw power Jesus could convey, than their ability to cast out the demonic forces that harmed and crippled people. Curing disease was dramatic in itself, but surely “awesome” must have been their response to this particular gift. [RW]
and anointed with oil. To suppose that the oil was used medicinally is contrary to the whole tenor of the narratives. It was “the vehicle of healing power committed to them" (Alford), an external sign such as our Lord sometimes used to connect Himself and the person cured. It was probably also a symbol of anointing by the Holy Spirit. 
Alternative interpretation: The Jews were in the habit of anointing their hair and their faces every day and especially when they went out among their fellows. This anointing was omitted when they were sick and when they fasted (cf. 2 Samuel ; Matthew -17). When an apostle stood over a sick man to heal him by a touch and a word, he was about to send him out of his sick chamber; and just before the word was spoken the oil was applied. It meant no more than the sick man was from that moment to be confined to his chamber no longer. (Compare James 5:14.) 
many who were sick. The healings were the norm. Indeed, the wording implies that they always occurred—whether “many” or “few” were (numerically) envolved in a particular case. Contrast this with those today who claim to have the healing power. If they did have it, wouldn’t they be just as successful? [rw]
and healed them. Learned men have bestowed some pains to show that it was usual with the Jews to anoint the sick with oil, in order to their recovery: and some think that the apostles complied with this custom without any direction from their Lord. But this is not at all probable; nor can we suppose that the miraculous effect would have followed had they acted without orders. 
Oil was never used by disciples for the edification of the dying but for the recovery of the sick. 
This practice can give no support to the doctrine of extreme unction, until they are able to restore the sick to health by it, which was always the first significance of the ceremony. 
The absurdity of attempting to make this a perpetual ordinance in the church appears from the fact that the gift of healing was not given as a perpetual grant nor the Apostolic order as perpetual--but both for the temporary purpose of founding the gospel church. 
In depth: Was the anointing for the apostles’ psychological benefit rather than the sick individuals’ physical welfare ? The Jews appear to have used anointing with oil both as a natural remedy, in certain diseases, and as a religious ceremony, accompanied with prayer, through which they hoped to obtain from God the recovery of the sick person. See James 5:14-15. But, at first sight, it may well strike us with surprise, that individuals possessed of miraculous powers should have recourse either to a natural remedy, or to such a ceremony. The solution of the fact is to be found, I believe, in the want of confidence felt by the Apostles in their ability to perform miracles. Not being fully assured of their powers, they adopted in healing the sick such means as their countrymen had been accustomed to employ. The mission on which they had been sent was their first and it was after this time that the faith of Peter failed in his attempt to walk on the water, and that the Apostles through their lack of faith, that is their want of confidence, could not cure the demonic boy while their Master was absent and in consequence incurred His grave rebuke (Matthew 17:14-21).
WEB: King Herod heard this, for his name had become known, and he said, "John the Baptizer has risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him."
Young’s: And the king Herod heard, (for his name became public,) and he said -- 'John the Baptist out of the dead was raised, and because of this the mighty powers are working in him.'
Conte (RC): And king Herod heard of it, (for his name had become well-known) and he said: "John the Baptist has risen again from the dead, and because of this, miracles are at work in him."
And King Herod. Strictly, Herod was only a
tetrarch (Matthew and Luke) but it was natural for Mark, writing for the Roman
world, to use this title as it was applied freely in
was Herod Antipas, the second son of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:1; Luke
1:5). His father's kingdom, held as
heard of Him. "Of all that was done" (Luke 9:7). Jesus seems never to have visited Herod's capital, Tiberias, situated on the southwestern shore of the sea of Tiberia, although He was often upon the waters of this sea, and in the towns around it. 
for His name was spread abroad [had become well known, NKJV]. This awakening of interest seems to be here mentioned as the result of the mission of the apostles, which the historian has just described. And some of the twelve may, indeed, have visited Tiberias. 
and he said. "to his servants" (Matthew 14:2). 
That John the Baptist was risen from the dead and therefore these powers are at work in him. "John did no miracle" (John ); but if he had risen from the dead, it would be different, and "these powers" were only what would be expected. 
WEB: But others said, "He is Elijah." Others said, "He is a prophet, or like one of the prophets."
Young’s: Others said -- 'It is Elijah,' and others said -- 'It is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.'
Conte (RC): But others were saying, "Because it is Elijah." Still others were saying, "Because he is a prophet, like one of the prophets."
Others said. Mark here introduces the opinions which are mentioned by Matthew as part of the conversation at Caesarea Philippi (Matthew ). They occur in a natural connection in each place. 
That it is Elias [Elijah, NKJV]. Those who said He was Elijah had in mind the prophecy of Malachi 4:5, and probably thought of a real return of Elijah. 
That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. i.e., he is a new prophet in whom the long-broken line of prophecy has been resumed. 
WEB: But Herod, when he heard this, said, "This is John, whom I beheaded. He has risen from the dead."
Young’s: And Herod having heard, said -- 'He whom I did behead -- John -- this is he; he was raised out of the dead.'
Conte (RC): When Herod had heard it, he said, "John whom I beheaded, the same has risen again from the dead."
But when Herod heard thereof. Either a stylistic repetition of 6:14’s allusion to his hearing of Jesus or his reaction after he had heard these explanations as well, ones that could have provided him with an alternative to self-blame by linking Him to someone besides John. [rw]
he said, It is John whom I beheaded. There are no excuses now about Herodias' urgency, or Salome's beauty, or the rash oath, or the need of keeping it, before his guests. The dead stands clear of all these things, as his own act. 
he is risen from the dead. The murdered prophet haunted his guilty breast like a specter and seemed to him alive again and clothed with unearthly powers in the person of Jesus. 
St. Luke (9:7) says that
at first Herod was "much perplexed” about Him. At length, however, as he heard more and more
of the fame of Christ's miracles, he came to the conclusion that our Lord was
none other than John the Baptist risen again. Such is the opinion of St. Chrysostom,
It should also be remembered that though Herod mocked Jesus, he conspicuously avoided taking responsibility for another death. Whatever Jesus might or might not be, let someone else take the responsibility for this one! [rw]
Weymouth: For Herod himself had sent and had had John arrested and had kept him in prison in chains, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; because he had married her.
WEB: For Herod himself had sent out and arrested John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, for he had married her.
Young’s: For Herod himself, having sent forth, did lay hold on John, and bound him in the prison, because of Herodias the wife of Philip his brother, because he married her,
Conte (RC): For Herod himself had sent to capture John, and had chained him in prison, because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip; for he had married her.
For Herod himself. Not led on by the Pharisees or other Jewish enemies, but for personal reasons. 
had sent forth and laid hold upon John. So he did not seize him on the spot after his bold reproof, but took time to think, and sent out afterward, with greater guilt because with greater deliberateness. 
and bound him in prison. [This] apparently refers to the period of some eighteen months during which John lay imprisoned under Herod. 
This may mean no more
than confined him in prison but custom and the usage of the world favor
the literal sense of binding..
Herod the Great had built a prison in a rocky stronghold east of the
For Herodias’ sake, his
brother Philip’s wife:
for he had married her. This is only implied in
other accounts. Herod Antipas was first
married to a daughter of Aretas, king of
Weymouth: For John had repeatedly told Herod, "You have no right to be living with your brother's wife."
WEB: For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
Young’s: for John said to Herod -- 'It is not lawful to thee to have the wife of thy brother;'
Conte (RC): For John was saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
For John had said. The Greek tense implies more than the simple expression, “he said;” it implies a repeated warning. 
Of the time and place of his reproof there is no hint. 
unto Herod. Personally said to him. The same thing he had preached outside his presence, he said even when standing in front of him. The mark of a truly brave man—a man who would not shade the truth even when before the man who could order his death. [rw]
It is not lawful for thee. It was a violation of the law of nature, of human custom, and of the divine enactment. In the first place, it was not lawful for either Philip or himself to marry their niece; secondly, his own wife was still living; and worst of all, he had seduced this woman away from her own husband, who was his own brother. More heinous violations of law could hardly have been committed in a single act. 
To have thy brother's wife. It has been discussed whether John condemned the marriage rather as incestuous than as adulterous. Perhaps it is impossible to determine and certainly it is needless: the marriage was equally open to both reproofs. 
In depth: Why John was morally required to censure the king's wide variety of publicly known sins . He reproved him for other sins as well as this crowning one (Luke ). It is not certain whether the reproof was a private and personal one or a public denunciation. But it was probably both. John took his life in his hand when he, a poor, humble Jew, reproved the crimes of a reckless tyrant. But this was a test and proof of his sincerity, and gave great power to his preaching. (1) John could not effectively denounce the sins of the people if he let sins in high places go unreproved. (2) Unrebuked crime in high places teaches, endorses and propagates crime among the people. It tends to make it fashionable and safe. For how can a ruler punish in others the sins he publicly commits himself? (3) Herod's crime was a public insult to the law of God, to the Jewish nation, to the moral sense of the people. (4) Aretas, indignant at the affront Herod had put upon him, had declared war; and at the very time of John's reproof preparations for was were actively going on. John sought to stop the flood of horrors the war would roll upon the people.
WEB: Herodias set herself against him, and desired to kill him, but she couldn't,
Young’s: and Herodias was having a quarrel with him, and was willing to kill him, and was not able,
Conte (RC): Now Herodias was devising treachery against him; and she wanted to kill him, but she was unable.
Therefore Herodias has a quarrel against him. If John said what was right, she ought to have [respected] him; if he said what was wrong; she ought to have confuted him; if he said what was worthless, she ought to have despised him; but on no ground was she warranted in having a quarrel with a man who dared to utter what he felt to be the language of faithfulness and truth, not to gratify himself, but to do her good. 
and would have killed him. Herodias had always wished to get rid of John, as the stern and uncompromising reprover of her adultery and incest; and so at length she persuaded Herod to give way. "For,” says Bede, “she feared lest Herod should at length repent, and yield to the exhortations of John, and dissolve this unreal marriage, and restore Herodias to her lawful husband." 
but she could not. The reason is given in the next verse--Herod's keeping John, and guarding him against her murderous purpose. 
Weymouth: for Herod stood in awe of John, knowing him to be an upright and holy man, and he protected him. After listening to him he was in great perplexity, and yet he found a pleasure in listening.
WEB: for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he did many things, and he heard him gladly.
Young’s: for Herod was fearing John, knowing him a man righteous and holy, and was keeping watch over him, and having heard him, was doing many things, and hearing him gladly.
Conte (RC): For Herod was apprehensive of John, knowing him to be a just and holy man, and so he guarded him. And he heard that he was accomplishing many things, and so he listened to him willingly.
For Herod feared John. Herod's feelings toward John are detailed by Mark only. Matthew says that Herod “feared the multitude." Both motives necessarily entered. Without the political motive the moral one would not have sustained Herod against the will of the woman he had adulterously married. 
Alternative interpretation: There is no contradiction between the two evangelists. The case appears to have been this: that at first Herod desired to put John to death because John had reproved him on account of Herodias. But by degrees John gained an influence over Herod by the force of his holy life and teaching. 
Or: The statement of Matthew that Herod "would have put him to death," but "he feared the multitude" (Matthew 14:5), must be referred to the later period of the imprisonment, when the importunities of Herodias had begun to prevail with him; and they introduce an additional restraining influence which affected him all the time, the fear of the multitude. 
feared. Not terror or alarm, but awe and reverence produced by his knowledge of John’s character. 
knowing that he was a just man and an holy. This is a notable example of the power of truth over the heart of a wicked man; and it is a high testimony not only to the justice and holiness but also to the commanding character of John the Baptist. Not Elijah before Ahab was more awe-inspiring. 
and when he heard him, he did many things. This is generally understood to mean that hearing John, he did many things which he enjoined; that he so far yielded to his influence as to reform to some extent his outward life, and probably to give some attention to religion. If the reading followed in the Revised Version is the correct Greek text, "was so much perplexed," the clause describes a conflict in the mind of Herod between the better purposes resulting from John's admonitions and his unwillingness to give up the sinful alliance with Herodias, or to abandon other sinful ways. 
and heard him gladly. Perhaps quite willing to listen, by way of amends to his conscience. Compare the conduct of Felix (Acts 24:23-26). Herod appears at better advantage than Felix, for there is no sign that he was looking for bribes. John lay in prison probably a year and a half, and his disciples had access to him (Matthew 11:2). 
He enjoyed his instruction. He was of the class of stony ground hearers "who receive the word with joy (Matthew ; Luke ). But he did not put away Herodias nor refuse the head of his religious teacher. This shows how shallow was the soul into which the word had fallen. 
WEB: Then a
convenient day came, that Herod on his birthday made a supper for his nobles,
the high officers, and the chief men of
Young’s: And a seasonable day having come, when Herod on his birthday was making a supper to his great men, and to the chiefs of thousands, and to the first men of Galilee,
Conte (RC): And when an
opportune time had arrived, Herod held a feast on his birthday, with the
leaders, and the tribunes, and the first rulers of
And when a convenient [opportune, NKJV] day was come. A day convenient for the malicious purpose of Herodias. It is not necessary to infer with Alford that Herodias anticipated the day and planned the procedure, though this is possible. It is far more probable that she merely found the day convenient as its events transpired and had sufficient quickness of wit to take advantage of the opportunities which it afforded. 
that Herod on his birthday. There has been such discussion as to whether the occasion was strictly his birthday or the anniversary of his accession to the throne, which might be called by the same name. There has been some interest in maintaining the latter, because the day of his accession is known and such a fixed date would be very useful in settling other dates in our Lord's ministry. But the best recent authorities are generally agreed that this was simply Herod's birthday. The celebration, however, with such an assemblage, would extend beyond a single day. 
made a supper
to his lords high captains, and chief estates [ nobles, the high officers, and the chief men, NKJV] of
Where was John beheaded ? According to Josephus (Antiquities 18.5.2),
John was put to death at Machaerus, a fortress at the
southern extremity of Perea. It has been questioned whether Herod would
have made a birthday feast at the southern extremity of his dominions, where it
would be difficult for the courtiers and noblemen of his court to attend. Still, if we remember that the Jews generally
were in the habit of going up from the most remote parts of the land to
Jerusalem, once or more every year to the feasts, the journey of a few
courtiers to Machaerus will not seem strange. Besides, if Herod was detained [there for one
reason or another] the feast must follow his pleasure; and if Machaerus was not convenient to his guests from
Some, however, have supposed that the feast did not take place at Machaerus, although John was beheaded there, but at Tiberias, or at Julias. But although possible that the head of the Baptist should have been taken from Machaerus to Tiberias before the feast ended, yet the obvious interpretation of the narrative is, that he was beheaded the same night in which the daughter of Herodias danced before the king or at least that no long interval elapsed. If the feast was not at Machaerus, it was most probably at Julias, which was at no great distance, and where Herod had a summer palace.
WEB: When the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and those sitting with him. The king said to the young lady, "Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you."
Young’s: and the daughter of that Herodias having come in, and having danced, and having pleased Herod and those reclining (at meat) with him, the king said to the damsel, 'Ask of me whatever thou wilt, and I will give to thee,'
Conte (RC): And when the daughter of the same Herodias had entered, and danced, and pleased Herod, along with those who were at table with him, the king said to the girl, "Request from me whatever you want, and I will give it to you."
when the daughter of the said Herodias. Her
name was Salome; she afterwards married (1) Philip, the tetrarch, and then (2) Aristobulus, the king of
came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him. The words "of Herodias herself" (KJV) note the indignation and horror with which a Jew would regard such an act. Dancing-women were abundant, and in such banquets it was common for them to appear, transparently robed, and executed voluptuous and impurely-suggestive dances. This was the Roman fashion--sad and degrading enough, but it was quite another matter to Jewish eyes when the daughter "of Herodias herself" condescended to such an exhibition of her charms for the course delight of the company. It was the work of her mother, too, who was adapting her wiles to the man who she had to play upon. 
the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me, whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. Presumably sexually aroused, quite drunk, and not thinking for a second just how broadly his reckless words could be interpreted. [rw]
WEB: He swore to her, "Whatever you shall ask of me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom."
Young’s: and he sware to her -- 'Whatever thou mayest ask me, I will give to thee -- unto the half of my kingdom.'
Conte (RC): And he swore to her, "Anything that you request, I will give to you, even up to half my kingdom."
And he also sware unto her. Herod, delighted by the charms and graces of his immodest step daughter, pleased that his guests were pleased, animated by their words and cheers, and doubtless inflamed by wine, first rashly promised to give her whatever she should ask, not knowing what it might be; and then he confirmed it by an oath, adding "unto the half of my kingdom." Such seems to have been the exaggerated phraseology in which eastern monarchs made promises to their favorites (Esther 5:3, 6). Herod really had no kingdom and his tetrarchy, which he calls by this grander title, he could not dispose of by order of the Roman government. 
Whatsover thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. St. Augustine says, “The girl dances; the mother rages. A rash oath is made amidst the excitement and the voluptuous indulgence of the feast; and the savage desires of Herodias are fulfilled." 
Surely hyperbole on his part for who would be so audacious (and tempting their own beheading) as to ask for “half of my kingdom”? But no matter how outrageous, anything that would be asked--radically short of that--Herod would lose face in front of his subordinates if he refused to grant. She couldn’t, literally, ask for “anything”—but she could come close to it. [rw]
WEB: She went out, and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" She said, "The head of John the Baptizer."
Young’s: And she, having gone forth, said to her mother, 'What shall I ask for myself?' and she said, 'The head of John the Baptist;'
Conte (RC): And when she had gone out, she said to her mother, "What shall I request?" But her mother said, "The head of John the Baptist."
And she went forth and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? That was very proper. She went and asked her mother, the best guide that a daughter could possibly have, to what she should do. There was a trace of goodness in that. But the mother said, with infamous wickedness and cruelty, “Ask the head of John the Baptist." Her own spite prevailed. 
And she said, The head of John the Baptist. The prompt reply of Herodias shows that her answer was ready. The form in which she demanded his death shows that bitter anger and bloody revenge had been cherished and kept fresh. In that heart evil seems not to have been supplanted except by deeper malice.45
The daughter must have been startled by this for surely she was expecting to get something for herself out of this. Now the daughter has set herself up as well by asking not “What shall I ask for myself?” but “what shall I ask?”
WEB: She came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptizer on a platter."
Young’s: and having come in immediately with haste unto the king, she asked, saying, 'I will that thou mayest give me presently, upon a plate, the head of John the Baptist.'
Conte (RC): And immediately, when she had entered with haste to the king, she petitioned him, saying: "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.
And she came in straightway [immediately] with haste. Not only making no resistance and displaying no repugnance to her mother’s horrid proposition, but assenting to it with alacrity as something pleasing to herself, a sufficient indication that the daughter, like the mother, was a genuine Herod in her tastes and dispositions. 
Or: Having left herself no maneuvering room by the way her question was asked and recognizing that her mother might prove just as dangerous to her as she was to the Baptist. [rw]
And asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by [at once, NKJV]. No delays; a confirmation, too, of the probability that the prisoner was within the walls where they were gathered. 
In a charger [on a platter, NKJV] the head of John the Baptist. Here, no doubt, the “charger" [KJV] was a royal dish of silver or gold. An intimation that the sight of it would be a feast to her mother and herself. 
WEB: The king was exceedingly sorry, but for the sake of his oaths, and of his dinner guests, he didn't wish to refuse her.
Young’s: And the king -- made very sorrowful -- because of the oaths and of those reclining (at meat) with him, would not put her away,
Conte (RC): And the king was greatly saddened. But because of his oath, and because of those who were sitting with him at table, he was not willing to disappoint her.
And the king was exceedingly sorry. We cannot suppose that this was a pretended grief. The true reason is doubtless to be found in the relentless animosity of Herodias. 
Not penitent, but worried and troubled. (1) Because he was outwitted and forced to do what he had repeatedly refused. (2) The act was too horrible even for his conscience. He had a dread of the holy man, especially as he had become acquainted with him during the year's imprisonment. (3) He was afraid that murdering John might create a rebellion or at least arouse so strong an opposition on the part of the people as to cripple him in his war against Aretas. 
Yet for [because of, NKJV] his oath’s sake. Herod was scrupulous on this point and yet an adulterer and murderer. 
See how men of no principle, but troublesome conscience, will stick at breaking a rash oath the plural “oaths,” as in the Revised Version, from which we infer, as the, while consenting to the worst crimes! 
The Greek has most natural explanation, though not the only possible one, that in his rapturous excitement Herod repeated his oath, as he did his promise and perhaps over and over again, as the captivating dance proceeded.
A true enlightened moralist would have reasoned that a rash oath, although the swearer could not escape guilt in having taken it, was not binding; but not so this ruler, who was as superstitious as he was weak and wicked; or he would have declared that the demand did not fall within the limits of his promise, since he had no right over the life of an innocent man; but not so did an imperious eastern monarch, and especially a Herod, look upon men's lives. 
and for [because of, NKJV] their sakes which sat with him. He feared being disgraced in the eyes of his officers by not keeping his promise and oath to the fair damsel who had pleased them. [Such] motives evince a cowardly, craven spirit in the weak and superstitious ruler, who had not the courage to do right, even then the right was according to his own wishes. 
he would not reject her. It should not be forgotten that these men counted on the king to fulfill his promises to them as well. If the king could set aside such an intensely worded oath, how easily might he avoid lesser pledges to them? [rw]
WEB: Immediately the king sent out a soldier of his guard, and commanded to bring John's head, and he went and beheaded him in the prison,
Young’s: and immediately the king having sent a guardsman, did command his head to be brought,
Conte (RC): So, having sent an executioner, he instructed that his head be brought on a platter.
And immediately the king sent an executioner. The Greek word denotes (1) a looker-out, a spy, scout; (2) A special adjutant, soldier of the guard. These scouts formed a special division in each [Roman] legion; but under the emperors a body bearing this name was specially appointed to guard the emperor and execute his commands (Tacitus, Histories, I, 24-25; II, 11; Suetonius, Claudius, 35). Hence these were often employed as special messengers in seeking out those who were proscribed or sentenced to death (Seneca, de Ira, I, 16). In the earlier English versions, the word is rendered "hangman," but this term describes a mere [result] of his office. 
and commanded his head to be brought. Surely an unexpected request: it would be immediately and easily known if an executioner—of all people!—were not carrying out his orders. But if the king wants the head—then the king will get it! [rw]
And he went and beheaded him in the prison. No public execution—wouldn’t that have risked a public relations nightmare, perhaps even an attempted insurrection!—but a prompt action in the prison itself. Out of sight of unsympathetic and hostile eyes that would drip with contempt at the act. [rw]
Weymouth: and brought his head on a dish and gave it to the young girl, who gave it to her mother.
WEB: and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the young lady; and the young lady gave it to her mother.
Young’s: and he having gone, beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head upon a plate, and did give it to the damsel, and the damsel did give it to her mother;
Conte (RC): And he beheaded him in prison, and he brought his head on a platter. And he gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it her mother.
And brought his head in a charger [on a platter, NKJV] and gave it to the damsel. She had gotten what she was told to ask for but the gory sight surely made her nauseous, especially when compared with the many things she could have asked for! [rw]
and the damsel gave it to her mother. The mother wanted it and the daughter made sure she got it. Somehow one expects it was with extraordinary speed on her part that she relieved herself of the grisly trophy! If her mother wished to gut her quarters with such things, that was up to her, but would even the most carefully obedient daughter keep it any longer than she absolutely had to? [rw]
St. Jerome relates that when the head of the Baptist was brought, Herodias barbarously thrust the tongue through with a bodkin, as Fulvia is said to have done over and over again the tongue of Cicero; thus verifying what Gicero had once said while living, that "nothing is more revengeful that a woman." Because they could not bear to hear the truth, therefore they bored through with a bodkin the tongue that had spoken the truth. 
WEB: When his disciples heard this, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
Young’s: and having heard, his disciples came and took up his corpse, and laid it in the tomb.
Conte (RC): When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and they placed it in a tomb.
And when his disciples heard of it. A sign that they were not present, though scarcely to be pressed as a proof that not one of them was there. 
they came and took up [took away, NKJV] his corpse and laid it in a tomb. The taking up of the corpse by the disciples would seem to intimate that it lay uncared for and unburied until the disciples showed their respect for it. Josephus says that after the beheading, the mutilated remains were cast out of the prison and left neglected. 
Alternate interpretation: Herod, no doubt, gave the body to John's disciples, for this would accord with his feelings toward the intrepid preacher. There is no ground for the tradition noticed by Jerome, that Herod flung the headless body over the prison walls. 
WEB: The apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus, and they told him all things, whatever they had done, and whatever they had taught.
Young’s: And the apostles are gathered together unto Jesus, and they told him all, and how many things they did, and how many things they taught,
Conte (RC): And the Apostles, returning to Jesus, reported to him everything that they had done and taught.
And the apostles. This is the only place where St. Mark calls them apostles. 
gathered themselves together unto Jesus. Where? After how long? And what has Jesus been doing the while? No answer is possible. These are gaps in the evangelic history. 
and told. Literally, "reported" or "brought back news." They gave a full account of the execution of the commission given to them (verses 7-11), telling of both their miracles and their teaching. 
Him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. This served two useful purposes: To keep Him fully up-to-date on their time working alone and secondly to allow Him the opportunity to correct any errors they had made either in behavior or teaching. This would also prepare them for the future, when separate from Him, and for the time after His resurrection when they would not have the opportunity for such debriefings. [rw]
WEB: He said to them, "You come apart into a deserted place, and rest awhile." For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
Young’s: and he said to them, 'Come ye yourselves apart to a desert place, and rest a little,' for those coming and those going were many, and not even to eat had they opportunity,
Conte (RC): And he said to them, "Go out alone, into a deserted place, and rest for a little while." For there were so many who were coming and going, that they did not even have time to eat.
And He said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart. There were two chief reasons for this course. The first, given by Matthew (), was on account of the news of John's death. In the excitement Herod might seek to imprison or murder Jesus and His disciples, who were equally opposed to Herod's crimes. And there was danger of a political revolt, which was entirely contrary to the plans and purposes of Jesus, but which might center around His person. The second reason is here given: "and rest a while." 
to a deserted
place. They could not rest at
and rest a while. Only by alternating expenditure with recovery could He go from strength to strength. He labored not to exhaustion of body or unsteadiness of soul. 
After any great effort, the body cries for repose, but still more does the soul's health demand quiet after exciting and successful work for Christ. Without much solitary communion with Jesus, effort for Him tends to become mechanical and to lose the elevation of motive and the suppression of self which give it all its power. 
for there were many coming and going. For the [withdrawal] two motives appear, one in Mark and one in Matthew. From Mark we should attribute it to tender care of the apostles, weary from their work, and to His desire to be alone with them for a little. This is one of the touching illustrations of His thoughtfulness toward them. In Matthew it is when Jesus heard of the death of the Baptist that He withdrew privately to the desert place. Joined with the other motive was the desire to be in quiet, that He might have leisure for the thoughts that the death of John suggested. 
and they had no leisure so much as to eat. Even the most dedicated servant of God needs time to “get away from things” and to mentally and physically prepare for the next bout of action. [rw]
WEB: They went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.
Young’s: and they went away to a desert place, in the boat, by themselves.
Conte (RC): And climbing into a boat, they went away to a deserted place alone.
they departed into a desert [deserted, NKJV] place. Some uninhabited spot on the shore of the
Luke () says, this place "belonged to the
by ship privately [in the boat by themselves, NKJV]. The implication is: unexpectedly, with no forewarning. A discrete, unannounced leaving was the best bet to secure the desire “alone time.” [rw]
WEB: They saw them going, and many recognized him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to him.
Young’s: And the multitudes saw them going away, and many recognised him, and by land from all the cities they ran thither, and went before them, and came together to him,
Conte (RC): And they saw them going away, and many knew about it. And together they ran by foot from all the cities, and they arrived before them.
And the people saw them departing. As soon as the people saw what He was doing, they jumped to the conclusion that He would be gone, at least for a while. Perhaps there was something accidentally dropped in a passing conversation by one of the apostles. Or the locals might have recognized that anyone could have tired of the large crowds and that they, in His shoes, would have done the same. [rw]
And many knew him. It wasn’t a matter of guess work that this was Jesus. His teaching and healings were so well known that large numbers recognized Him immediately. [rw]
And ran afoot thither out of all the
cities. i.e., from many towns in that region, especially
from those that must be passed on the way.
John speaks of Jesus already seated in the mountain, lifting up His eyes
and seeing the crowd approaching, which may be a reminiscence of the fact that
they came, not all at once, but kept streaming in. John also connects the mention of the coming
with the fact that the Passover was at hand.
It may be that some part of the multitude was made up of pilgrims to
Outwent them [arrived before them, NKJV] and came together unto Him. We have here a striking proof that our Saviour's popularity had not begun to wane when this occurrence took place; for not only did the multitudes still throng Him when at home (5:31), but no sooner had he pushed off in His boat to seek a momentary respite elsewhere than the masses put themselves in motion to pursue Him. 
Weymouth: So when Jesus landed, He saw a vast multitude; and His heart was moved with pity for them, because they were like sheep which have no shepherd, and He proceeded to teach them many things.
WEB: Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.
Young’s: and having come forth, Jesus saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion on them, that they were as sheep not having a shepherd, and he began to teach many things.
Conte (RC): And Jesus, going out, saw a great multitude. And he took pity on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.
And Jesus, when He came out, saw much people [a great multitude, NKJV]. The people arrived before Him.
Trench and Alford understand this to be said of His coming forth from His solitude. But it is much more natural to apply it to His coming forth from the ship; for we have no intimation that they now reached the solitude they sought or found the needed rest. 
And was moved with compassion toward them. Much as He wished to be away from them a while, He recognized the genuineness of their feelings and their deep need. So even Jesus modified His preferences to be of benefit to others! [rw]
Because they were as sheep not having a shepherd. John had been a shepherd to them for a short time, but he had now been cruelly murdered. This event, together with the recent wide-spread labors of the apostles, and the vague expectations connected with Jesus, conspired to turn all eyes toward Him, but He was not to be the kind of shepherd they desired. 
and He began to teach them. Giving up the rest He was intending to take [verses 31-32]. 
Healing and teaching filled up the day until late in the afternoon and the manner in which these labors are treated by the four evangelists illustrates the striking variety of their methods as historians. Matthew says that Jesus “healed their sick,” but he says nothing of teaching (Matthew ). Mark says, “He began to teach them many things,” but he says nothing of the healing. Luke mentions both (Luke ); while John says nothing of either (John 6:3-5). 
many things. The nature of which Mark does not inform us. What was important was (1) Jesus had changed His plans to be of benefit to others and (2) even when this occurred, He did not skimp on His teaching—He gave them “many things” to ponder and consider. [rw]
Weymouth: By this time it was late; so His disciples came to Him, and said, "This is a lonely place, and the hour is now late:
WEB: When it was late in the day, his disciples came to him, and said, "This place is deserted, and it is late in the day.
Young’s: And now the hour being advanced, his disciples having come near to him, say, -- 'The place is desolate, and the hour is now advanced,
Conte (RC): And when many hours had now passed, his disciples drew near to him, saying: "This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late.
And when the day was now far spent. It was almost over and they had left in order to be alone, without the crowds. If they were going to have any time alone—even in the evening and night—it was going to have to begin quickly or not at all. Instead of bringing this up (which would have been quite logical on its own terms), they raised a different problem, what would happen if the crowds did stay: there simply wasn’t the food to feed them. [rw]
His disciples came to Him and said. The difference between John and Mark in regard to the conversation of Jesus with the disciples about finding food for the crowd is easily harmonized. John tells us what Jesus said at the first sight of the multitude; Mark takes up the narrative at the close of the day. We owe to John the knowledge that the exigency was not first pointed out by the disciples, but that His calm, loving prescience saw it and determined to meet it, long before they spoke. 
This is a desert [deserted, NKJV] place, and now the time is far passed. Saying out loud what they had already been thinking and, quite possibly, discussing quietly among themselves. [rw]
WEB: Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages, and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat."
Young’s: let them away, that, having gone away to the surrounding fields and villages, they may buy to themselves loaves, for what they may eat they have not.'
Conte (RC): Send them away, so that by going out to nearby villages and towns, they might buy provisions for themselves to eat."
Send them away. The anxious disciples feared night would overtake a suffering multitude in that desert place. 
that they may go into the country round about [surrounding country, NKJV], and into the villages and buy themselves bread. Those who lived in the nearer villages could return home, but those from the more distant places, including the pilgrims on their way to the feast [in Jerusalem] would have to buy as here proposed. 
for they have nothing to eat. Jesus
and the apostles had left town abruptly and those seeking Him out had
apparently done so just as quickly: there
was no time to arrange to bring anything.
WEB: But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." They asked him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give them something to eat?"
Young’s: And he answering said to them, 'Give ye them to eat,' and they say to him, 'Having gone away, may we buy two hundred denaries' worth of loaves, and give to them to eat?'
Conte (RC): And responding, he said to them, "Give them something to eat yourselves." And they said to him, "Let us go out and buy bread for two hundred denarii, and then we will give them something to eat."
He answered and said unto them, Give me them to eat. They had raised a genuine problem; Jesus tells them: You deal with it. Their problem is now in the “how” to do it, which causes them to raise the next point. [rw]
And they say unto Him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth [denarii, NKJV]. A large amount of money then, since a denarius, or “penny,” was the hire of a day's labor. Some have supposed that this two hundred "pennyworth" was the amount of money they had in their common treasury, but it seems rather to be mentioned as a sum beyond their ability to pay. 
of bread. Considering the constant fluctuation in the relation between money and the commodities purchased by money, it is in vain to inquire what number of loaves the two hundred denarii would purchase at that time although it was evidently the representation of a large supply of bread. 
and give them to eat? Bread was considered adequate in itself to make a decent meal. Perhaps not all one might want to have, but quite adequate if need be. [rw]
WEB: He said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go see." When they knew, they said, "Five, and two fish."
Young’s: And he saith to them, 'How many loaves have ye? go and see;' and having known, they say, 'Five, and two fishes.'
Conte (RC): And he said to them: "How many loaves do you have? Go and see." And when they had found out, they said, "Five, and two fish."
He saith unto them, how many loaves have ye? The loaf was a thin cake, not unlike a large cracker. 
This was all the apostles themselves had brought (note the “we” in the “we have here,” Matthew ): Not even very much if the crowds had not arrived! [rw]
And when they knew, they say, "Five, and two fishes."
WEB: He commanded them that everyone should sit down in groups on the green grass.
Young’s: And he commanded them to make all recline in companies upon the green grass,
Conte (RC): And he instructed them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass.
And He commanded them to make them all sit down. The apostles were charged with arranging the multitude in order.45
by companies. In an orderly manner, not all scattered about. [rw]
upon the green grass. They were in a “desert place”
(verses 32, 35), yet they sat down on the green grass. This shows that the places called deserts in
This [also] shows that it was spring (cf. also John 6:4); the grass withers early in the summer. 
WEB: They sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties.
Young’s: and they sat down in squares, by hundreds, and by fifties.
Conte (RC): And they sat down in divisions by hundreds and by fifties.
And they sat down in ranks. This arrangement was probably made partly that the numbers might be better known, partly that all things might be done in an orderly manner, and that each might have his portion. 
by hundreds and by fifties. This is the fullest account of the way they were placed, though all four Evangelists intimate that the crowd was arranged in an orderly manner.
Some have thought there were 50 ranks in breadth and 100 in length, thus making 5,000 (verse 44). Gerlach: "Two longer rows of 100, a shorter one of 50 persons. The fourth side remained, after the manner of the ancient's tables, empty and open." Such an arrangement precluded deception. 
Alternate interpretation: Either the companies consist some of one hundred and others of fifty, each arranged on three sides of the square according to Roman custom; or they were arranged in rows, or tiers, so that looking one way there were fifty hundreds, and in the other one hundred fifties, with sufficient intervals for the passing of food. 
WEB: He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves, and he gave to his disciples to set before them, and he divided the two fish among them all.
Young’s: And having taken the five loaves and the two fishes, having looked up to the heaven, he blessed, and brake the loaves, and was giving to his disciples, that they may set before them, and the two fishes divided he to all,
Conte (RC): And having received the five loaves and the two fish, gazing up to heaven, he blessed and broke the bread, and he gave it to his disciples to set before them. And the two fish he divided among them all.
And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fishes. This was done deliberately before all, as was also the blessing and breaking; so that there were many witnesses to the fact that these few loaves and fishes were all that He had do distribute to the large assembly. 
He looked up to heaven and blessed and brake the loaves. i.e., He blessed God, praised God in thanksgiving; Luke, "he bless them," the loaves and fishes--invoked the blessing of God upon them; John, "He gave thanks." It was simply the grateful prayer before eating, "grace before meat," offered by the host or head of the family. 23]
And gave them to His disciples to set before them. There was no disorderly running after the “loaves and fishes;” Christ’s blessings were received through those He commanded to impart them. 
And the two fishes divided he among them all. In other words, this is absolutely all they had to work with—but it turned out to be enough to fill everyone and provide “leftovers!” [rw]
In depth: Efforts to naturalize away the miraculous elements of the event . The skeptical explanations of this narrative are exquisitely ludicrous. One tells us how, finding themselves in a desert, "thanks to their extreme frugality they were able to exist, and this was naturally” (what, naturally?) "regarded as a miracle." This is called the legendary explanation and everyone can judge for himself how much it succeeds in explaining to him. Another tells us that Jesus being greater than Moses, it was felt that He must have outstripped him in miraculous power. And so the belief grew up that as Moses fed a nation during forty years, with angels' food, He, to exceed this, must have bestowed upon five thousand men one meal of barley bread. This is called the mythical explanation and the credulity which accepts it must not despise Christians, who only believe their Bibles.
WEB: They all ate, and were filled.
Young’s: and they did all eat, and were filled,
Conte (RC): And they all ate and were satisfied.
And they did all eat. In giving the account of this miracle the four evangelists [do not describe] the increase of the food. They do not tell us how the infinite power of Jesus wrought this wonder. What is indescribable in human language, and beyond human conception they do not attempt. A similar miracle is recorded as performed by Elisha (2 Kings -44); and it is noteworthy that this feature of the description appears there as here. 
and were filled. No one went away hungry. So ever with God's gospel: there is enough for all and to spare. No one needs imagine that others will have to go without because he receives all he needs. 
Weymouth: And they carried away broken portions enough to fill twelve baskets, besides pieces of the fish.
WEB: They took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and also of the fish.
Young’s: and they took up of broken pieces twelve hand-baskets full, and of the fishes,
Conte (RC): And they brought together the remainder: twelve baskets full of fragments and of fish.
And they took up.
twelve baskets. It does not become us to pry too curiously into the method of our Lord's working; but the number of these baskets, namely twelve, seems to suggest that He first broke the loaves, and in breaking multiplied them, and distributed them into those baskets--one for each apostle--and that the food, as it was distributed by the disciples, was more and more multiplied as needed, so that at length they brought back to Christ as many basketfuls of fragments as they had first received from Him and much more than the original supply. 
full of the fragments and of the fish. These fragments were probably not the pieces thrown down by the eaters but the surplus of the broken bread and fishes laid before the groups and left untouched. This face shows that the supply was not exhausted, but was more than sufficient for the vast number fed. The surplus, however, must be saved. He made food in abundance for their wants but nothing for waste. 
WEB: Those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
Young’s: and those eating of the loaves were about five thousand men.
Conte (RC): Now those who ate were five thousand men.
And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men. Not generic, including men and women, but literally men [males only]. 
"Besides women and children" (Matthew ). In arranging the social groups, according to eastern custom, the women and children would be separated from the men. 
Weymouth: Immediately afterwards He made His disciples go on board the boat and cross over to Bethsaida, leaving Him behind to dismiss the crowd.
he made his disciples get into the boat, and to go ahead to the other side, to
immediately he constrained his disciples to go into the boat, and to go before
to the other side, unto
Conte (RC): And without
delay he urged his disciples to climb into the boat, so that they might precede
him across the sea to
And straitway He constrained [immediately He made, NKJV] His disciples get into the ship. This miracle made a deep impression on the people. It was the popular expectation that the
Messiah would repeat the miracles of
Moses, and this “bread of wonder,” of which they had just partaken, recalled to
the multitudes the manna. They would have “taken Jesus by force and made him a king” (John -15). To
defeat this intention the Saviour bade His apostles
take a boat and cross over the
And to go to the other side before unto
[This was] the town of
while He sent away the people [multitude, NKJV]. His object in this was to put an end to the misdirected excitement in His favor (John ), into which the disciples themselves may have been somewhat drawn.24
WEB: After he had taken leave of them, he went up the mountain to pray.
Young’s: and having taken leave of them, he went away to the mountain to pray.
Conte (RC): And when he had dismissed them, he went to the mountain to pray.
And when He had sent them away. The word means "to separate one's self;" but in later Greek it is used for saying "Farewell." 
He departed into a mountain to pray. The reason given for His retirement in the John is in harmony with the purpose here assigned; for this effort to make Him king was itself occasion for prayer. 
WEB: When evening had come, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and he was alone on the land.
Young’s: And evening having come, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and he alone upon the land;
Conte (RC): And when it was late, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and he was alone on the land.
And when evening was come. i.e., the later evening extending from till night. 
the ship was in the middle of the sea. i.e., out at sea; it doe not imply that they
were in the middle or center of the lake.
Toiling the entire night, they had not, in consequence of contrary winds
(John ), gone more than three or four miles (John
), something more than half of their way,
when one of the sudden storms, to which the
and He was alone on the land. This last statement turns the attention from the ship to the situation of Jesus, as introductory to what follows. He was on the land without companion or boat to join them in their peril. 
WEB: Seeing them distressed in rowing, for the wind was contrary to them, about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea, and he would have passed by them,
Young’s: and he saw them harassed in the rowing, for the wind was against them, and about the fourth watch of the night he doth come to them walking on the sea, and wished to pass by them.
Conte (RC): And seeing them struggling to row, (for the wind was against them,) and about the fourth watch of the night, he came to them, walking upon the sea. And he intended to pass by them.
And He saw them toiling [straining, NKJV] at rowing for the wind was against them. [Toiling is] a striking expression. It denotes (1) to test metals; (2) to rack, torture; (3) to torment, as in Matthew 68:6, 29. Here it seems to imply that they were tortured, baffled, by the waves, which were boisterous by reason of the strong wind that blew (John ). 
and about the fourth watch of the night. Between 3 and , the night being divided into four watches of about three hours each. This is the Roman method of reckoning; the Jews made but three watches. 
The Fathers find a fine
spiritual meaning in this. Jerome says,
“The fourth watch is the last." So,
He cometh unto them, walking upon the sea. By the laws of nature, He would have sunk in this attempt to walk upon the water. Thus He proved Himself the Lord of nature. 
Paulus, the rationalist, revived the ridiculous idea that Christ walking on the sea merely meant Christ walking on the shore, elevated above the sea; but the interpretation was rightly denounced by Lavater as “a laughable insult on logic, hermeneutics, good sense, and honesty." Was it because our Lord simply walked on the shore that the disciples “cried out and were troubled?" Was it merely for this that they were “sore amazed at themselves beyond measure and wondered?" Yet such are the shifts to which unbelief is reduced when it ventures to measure itself against the acts of Omnipotence. 
And would have passed by them. Why? Apparently in order that they might see Him in the dim light and have the opportunity to recognize Him. 
Here is one of Mark's graphic touches by which he adds vividness to the description. It pictures Jesus as walking in a direction which would have missed the vessel--a circumstance which made His appearance the more mysterious to the disciples. 
Weymouth: They saw Him walking on the water, and thinking that it was a spirit they cried out;
WEB: but they, when they saw him walking on the sea, supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out;
Young’s: And they having seen him walking on the sea, thought it to be an apparition, and cried out,
Conte (RC): But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they thought it was an apparition, and they cried out.
But when they saw Him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit [ghost, NKJV], and cried out. Why did they suppose this? Partly from the idea that specters appear in the night and in the darkness to terrify men and partly because in the darkness they could not so readily recognize that it was Jesus. 
As Matthew and Mark here discriminate between an “apparition” and a real bodily appearance of our Lord, they cannot mean the former when they write of the resurrection of Christ. 
WEB: for they all saw him, and were troubled. But he immediately spoke with them, and said to them, "Cheer up! It is I! Don't be afraid."
Young’s: for they all saw him, and were troubled, and immediately he spake with them, and saith to them, 'Take courage, I am he, be not afraid.'
Conte (RC): For they all saw him, and they were very disturbed. And immediately he spoke with them, and he said to them: "Be strengthened in faith. It is I. Do not be afraid."
For they all saw Him. Not “some,” but “all.” It wasn’t merely a visual “mis-sighting,” it was a clear view shared by them all. Hence no possibility of a hallucination—especially under these severe circumstances that were the opposite of those where such might occur . [rw]
and were troubled. A proof that this story was not due to the over-heated imagination of a few of them. 
And immediately he talked with them. In the simplest language of reassurance. 
At this point comes in the incident of Peter's walking upon the water, recorded by Matthew alone (-31). 
And saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. Since they were agitated and “troubled” by the sight, what they desperately needed was reassurance and He promptly gave it to them. [rw]
WEB: He got into the boat with them; and the wind ceased, and they were very amazed among themselves, and marveled;
Young’s: And he went up unto them to the boat, and the wind lulled, and greatly out of measure were they amazed in themselves, and were wondering,
Conte (RC): And he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they became even more astonished within themselves.
And He went up unto them into the ship. "Then they willingly received Him into the ship" (John ). 
By joining them He absolutely ruled out any possibility of a visual hallucination by one or all of them—not to mention any “misinterpretation” of the nature of what they had been seeing. [rw]
And they were sore [greatly, NKJV] amazed in themselves beyond measure and wondered [marveled, NKJV]. His walking on the sea appeared to them a greater miracle than any He had before performed. They now acknowledged what they might have known before, His divine power; for we must understand Matthew as speaking of the apostles and not of the crew: "And they that were with Him in the ship came and worshipped Him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God" (Matthew 14:33), a confession not recorded as made hitherto by any except Nathaniel (John 1:49). 
Weymouth: For they had not learned the lesson taught by the loaves, but their minds were dull.
WEB: for they hadn't understood about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Young’s: for they understood not concerning the loaves, for their heart hath been hard.
Conte (RC): For they did not understand about the bread. For their heart had been blinded.
For they considered not [had not understood, NKJV] the miracle of the loaves. If Jesus could have done that miracle, why would anything He did be surprising to them? He had demonstrated that “impossible” was not in His vocabulary [rw].
How rarely do men preserve the remembrance of the favours and blessings they have received! If they did, it would give them trust and confidence when they have most occasion for them. 
their heart was hardened. A common phrase for unbelief. It is here equivalent to little faith as in the parallel passage in Matthew 14:31. 
WEB: When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore.
Young’s: And having passed over, they came upon the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore,
Conte (RC): And when
they had crossed over, they arrived in the
And when they had passed [crossed, NKJV] over. John 6:21 says they received Jesus into the ship "and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went," which implies a very rapid, if not miraculous passage to their destination; for they had rowed only twenty-five or thirty furlongs when Jesus joined them, a little more than half the distance. 
they came into
was a small district lying on the northwestern shore of the lake to which it
gave one of its names. Josephus gives
its length along the lake as thirty furlongs and its width as twenty. He describes it as a plain of almost
unequaled beauty and fertility, watered by a copious fountain called
WEB: But no sooner had they gone ashore than the people immediately recognized Him.
Young’s: and they having come forth out of the boat, immediately having recognised him,
Conte (RC): And when they had disembarked from the boat, the people immediately recognized him.
And when they were come out of the ship, straightway [immediately, NKJV] the people knew [recognized, NKJV] Him. For He had before preached and wrought miracles in different places of the same country. 
Gone from their shores, He had still left a vivid mark in their memories. With His return, they were determined to take advantage of the opportunity (verse 55). [rw]
WEB: and ran around that whole region, and began to bring those who were sick, on their mats, to where they heard he was.
Young’s: having run about through all that region round about, they began upon the couches to carry about those ill, where they were hearing that he is,
Conte (RC): And running throughout that entire region, they began to carry on beds those who had maladies, to where they heard that he would be.
ran through that
whole region round about. The power of Jesus to work miracles was well
known throughout all
and began to carry about. "Sometimes,”
says Alford, “misinformed as to the place where He was, and following the rumor
of His presence." Alexander gives a
different explanation: "The meaning
is not that each one was carried from place to place in search f Him, but that
some were carried one way, some another, so as to fall in with Him in some part
of His circuit." The language used
may bear either sense, but the former interpretation implies a rapidity of
movement on the part of Jesus at variance with His uniform custom in other
in beds. A sort of mat, mattress, or common rug. 
those that were sick, where they heard he was. Thereby manifesting a concern for their fellow man in action rather than mere words. They knew they needed healing and were going to do their best to take them to the One who could provide it. [rw]
Weymouth: And enter wherever He might--village or town or hamlet--they laid their sick in the open places, and entreated Him to let them touch were it but the tassel of His robe; and all, whoever touched Him, were restored to health.
WEB: Wherever he entered, into villages, or into cities, or into the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch just the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched him were made well.
Young’s: and wherever he was going, to villages, or cities, or fields, in the market-places they were laying the infirm, and were calling upon him, that they may touch if it were but the fringe of his garment, and as many as were touching him were saved.
Conte (RC): And in whichever place he entered, in towns or villages or cities, they placed the infirm in the main streets, and they pleaded with him that they might touch even the hem of his garment. And as many as touched him were made healthy.
And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, the laid the sick in the streets [marketplaces, NKJV]. The natural place for the people to assemble. 
and besought Him that they might touch if it were but the border of His garment. Jesus did not pay [detailed] attention to all of these cases, but merely permitted them, by touching His garments as He passed, to receive the benefit of His healing powers. 
Perhaps the report of the woman, who had been cured by touching the fringe of Christ's garment, encouraged these afflicted persons to apply to Him, by His permission, in this manner. 
and as many as touched Him were made whole. Not some, not a few, but all that touched Him. [rw]