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

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2013


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12:1                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Then He began to speak to them in figurative language. "There was once a man," He said, "who planted a vineyard, fenced it round, dug a pit for the wine-tank, and built a strong lodge. Then he let the place to vine-dressers and went abroad.

WEB:              He began to speak to them in parables. "A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a pit for the winepress, built a tower, rented it out to a farmer, and went into another country.

Young’s:         And he began to speak to them in similes: 'A man planted a vineyard, and put a hedge around, and digged an under-wine-vat, and built a tower, and gave it out to husbandmen, and went abroad;

Conte (RC):    And he began to speak to them in parables: “A man dug a vineyard, and surrounded it with a hedge, and dug a pit, and built a tower, and he loaned it out to farmers, and he set out on a long journey.


12:1                 And He began to speak unto them by parables.  He spoke three parables:  (1)  the two sons, Matthew 21:28-32; (2) the husbandmen; (3) the marriage of the king's son, Matthew 22:1-14.  Mark relates only the second of these three parables.  The "began" implies an interruption since a former series of parables.  This mode of teaching is now again resumed, and another series of parables is spoken.  [8]

                        parables.  This particular parable which follows was specially directed against the scribes and Pharisees' but it was uttered in the presence of a multitude of people.  [39]

                        A certain man.  i.e., God.  [44]

                        planted a vineyard.  The vineyard is the kingdom of God.  [44]

                        The imagery is specially appropriate.  No property was considered to yield so rich a return as the vineyard and none required such unceasing care and attention.  [39]

                        The first sentence would remind His hearers of Psalms 80:8-11, and especially of Isaiah 5:1-7, where Israel is Jehovah's vineyard.  There, as here, the vineyard is provided with wall, tower, and wine-vat.  While He does not exactly quote from Isaiah 5, His language in both Matthew and Mark is so like that of the passage from Isaiah in the Septuagint as to render certain His intention to bring it to mind.  [23]

                        and set an hedge around it.  Probably a hedge of thorns, possibly a wall.  God had separated His people from other nations and guarded them from heathen influence by the law (compare Ephesians 2:14) and by external marks of distinction.  God's special proprietorship and care are plainly seen.  [11]

                        Moreover, the land of Palestine itself is hedged about by the sea, the mountains, and the desert.  [51]

                        and digged a place for the wine vat.  The words are literally, “digged a pit for the winepress;” the digging could only apply to the pit, a place hollowed out and then filled with masonry.  Sometimes these pits were formed out of the solid rock.  Examples of these are frequent in Palestine.  There were usually two pits hollowed out of the rock, one sloping to the other, and with openings between them.  The grapes were placed in the upper pit; and the juice, crushed out by the feet of men, flowed into the lower pit, from whence it was taken out and put into wine-skins.  [39]

                        and built a tower.  A watch-tower sometimes was built forty or fifty feet high, and used for the watchmen who guarded the vineyard, and during the vintage as an abode for the workers and a place of recreation, and perhaps for storing the fruit.  The watchman remained at his post day and night, for wild beasts would devour and destroy, and men would steal.  [51]

                        This represents the provision made by God for the protection and prosperity of His people, especially the Old Testament Church.  [11]

                        and let it out to husbandmen [leased it to vinedressers, NKJV].  Probably for a part of the fruit.  The "husbandmen” ("vinedressers") represent the rulers of the Jews (Matthew 21:45), but the people as individuals may be included.  The vineyard is the people as a chosen nation. [11]

                        and went into a far country.  Representing most vividly an actual trust in the hands of [his tenants].  The vineyard was well equipped, and the owner might certainly expect a fair return.  [23]



12:2                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     At vintage-time he sent one of his servants to receive from the vine-dressers a share of the grapes.

WEB:              When it was time, he sent a servant to the farmer to get from the farmer his share of the fruit of the vineyard.

Young’s:         and he sent unto the husbandmen at the due time a servant, that from the husbandmen he may receive from the fruit of the vineyard,

Conte (RC):    And in time, he sent a servant to the farmers, in order to receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the farmers.


12:2                 And at the season [vintage-time, NKJV].  The reasonable time.  He does not claim fruit before it can have grown.  [23]  

                        he sent to the husbandmen a servant.  The servants represent the prophets of the Old Testament, calling for the fruits of righteousness from the Jewish people.  The description of the maltreatment of the servants differs in all three accounts, showing that no special interpretation is to be given to the different sendings.  [11]           

                        Note on the use of the singular "servant:"  Here again we find Mark, according to his characteristic method, fixing attention of a single individual when a plurality were actually engaged in the transaction (cf. Matthew 21:34, 36).  Luke, like Mark, uses the singular number in this place (Luke 20:10).38

                        that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.  Referring to the custom of giving a portion of the fruit as rent.  The sending of the servant to receive the fruit might represent any summons of God to His people to bring forth spiritual fruit; but the next verse would rather limit its application here to the mission of God's messengers, the prophets, sent to call the people to repentance, faith and obedience.  [45]



12:3                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     But they seized him, beat him cruelly and sent him away empty-handed.

WEB:              They took him, beat him, and sent him away empty.

Young’s:         and they, having taken him, did severely beat him, and did send him away empty.

Conte (RC):    But they, having apprehended him, beat him and sent him away empty.


12:3                 And they caught him, and beat him.  This treatment of the servant represents the rejection of the prophets sent from God to the people.  Jesus had already, before leaving Galilee, charged the scribes and Pharisees of that region with sharing in the guilt of their fathers in the rejection of the prophets (Luke 11:47-55), and in the conflict in which He was now engaged, He a little while after brought the same solemn indictment against the scribes and Pharisees at Jerusalem (Matthew 23:29-37).  [45]

                        and sent him away empty.  At least they spared his life!  From their standpoint this was probably better than just his “disappearing” (being killed and buried):  a disappearance might only convince the owner of the need to send somebody else while the beaten servant would serve as a visible reminder that there was simply no way the owner was ever going to get anything out of them.  [rw]   



12:4                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Again he sent to them another servant: and as for him, they wounded him in the head and treated him shamefully.

WEB:              Again, he sent another servant to them; and they threw stones at him, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated.

Young’s:         And again he sent unto them another servant, and at that one having cast stones, they wounded him in the head, and sent away -- dishonoured.

Conte (RC):    And again, he sent another servant to them. And they wounded him on the head, and they treated him with contempt.


12:4                 Again he sent unto them another servant, and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.  The increase of severity toward the servants, the first being merely beaten, the second being wounded in the head with stones, and the third being killed, gives the force of a climax to the description, but points to no historical feature in the significance of the parable.  The servants sent to the husbandmen represent the prophets who had been sent to the Jews, but there was no regular gradation in the persecutions which they encountered.  [38]



12:5                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Yet a third he sent, and him they killed. And he sent many besides, and them also they ill-treated, beating some and killing others.

WEB:              Again he sent another; and they killed him; and many others, beating some, and killing some.

Young’s:         'And again he sent another, and that one they killed; and many others, some beating, and some killing.

Conte (RC):    And again, he sent another, and him they killed, and many others: some they beat, but others they killed.


12:5                 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.  The repetition of the act of sending servants for the fruits of the vineyard, after the maltreatment of those already sent, represents God's course in sending many prophets to Israel from age to age regardless of their rejecting those who preceded them.  [45]

                        and many others.  i.e., not even the killing of a prophet would end God’s effort to have the people act right.  The popular and religious leadership foes of such men were under the illusion that if they just managed to get rid of this man, everything would be fine for them. How events proved them wrong time and again!  Just as it would when they applied the same delusionary reasoning to the Man of Nazareth!  [rw] 



12:6                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     He had still one left whom he could send, a dearly-loved son: him last of all he sent, saying, "'They will treat my son with respect.'

WEB:              Therefore still having one, his beloved son, he sent him last to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.'

Young’s:         'Having yet therefore one son -- his beloved -- he sent also him unto them last, saying -- They will reverence my son;

Conte (RC):    Therefore, having still one son, most dear to him, he sent him also to them, at the very end, saying, 'For they will reverence my son.'


12:6                 Having yet therefore one son.  The son is Jesus.  [44]

                        His wellbeloved.  There are sons and there are sons.  In all normal families they are loved, but in some cases there is a depth and intensity of love that does not usually exist.  The illustration comes from such a closely bonded family relationship.  [rw]    

            He sent him also last unto them.  Last not only chronologically, but because this would be the last “card he had to play:  because of the close and unique father-son relationship, if they were willing to listen to anyone, surely it would be this one!  [rw]       

          saying, They will reverence [respect, NKJV] my son.  Whilst such would be the feeling of the earthly father in the narrative, yet God the Father knew well how His Son would be received.  Still, however, it presents in strong light the reverence with which the Son ought to have been received.  [45]



12:7                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     "But those men--the vine-dressers--said to one another, "'Here is the heir: come, let us kill him, and then the property will one day be ours.'

WEB:              But those farmers said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.'

Young’s:         and those husbandmen said among themselves -- This is the heir, come, we may kill him, and ours shall be the inheritance;

Conte (RC):    But the settlers said one to another: 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him. And then the inheritance will be ours.'


12:7                 But those husbandmen [vinedressers, NKJV] said among themselves.  The fact that they knew the man in front of them was the heir shows that they had spoken with the son and, presumably, asked for time to discuss the matter among themselves.  [rw]

          This is the heir.  He was making such a claim on them as they had never felt before, and they dimly perceived that if this could but be silenced they should be left at peace.  [23]

                        come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.  They thought, if he were once out of the way, no one else would trouble them.   In this view, verse 7 expresses not unfairly the spirit of the people, or at least of their leaders, respecting Jesus.  [23]

                        Alternate interpretation:   There is nothing corresponding to this purpose in the dealing of the Jews with Jesus, consequently it has no significance in the interpretation of the parable.  [38]

                        Or perhaps there is this:  Although they would still not own the property and its crop, they would have total control over it and not be answerable to any external party.  The religious hierarchy wanted the unrestricted right to do things the way they wished to do them, and to have out of the way the major figure remaining who would not quietly acquiesce in this self-serving arrangement (i.e., Jesus)—to them the result would amount to “ownership” though their religious titles and position would never permit them to say things that bluntly in public.  [rw]



12:8                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     "So they took him and killed him, and flung his body outside the vineyard.

WEB:              They took him, killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.

Young’s:         and having taken him, they did kill, and cast him forth without the vineyard.

Conte (RC):    And apprehending him, they killed him. And they cast him out of the vineyard.


12:8                 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.  Threw his lifeless body over the wall [hedge, verse 1], utterly and insultingly rejecting him.  [23]

                        By which we are reminded of Him who "suffered without the gate" (Hebrews 13:12-13; John 19:17).  By that, as in the Pentateuch by the exclusion from the camp, was signified the cutting off from the people of God and from all share in their blessings (see 1 Kings 21:13).  [24]



12:9                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     What, therefore, will the owner of the vineyard do?" "He will come and put the vine-dressers to death," they said; "and will give the vineyard to others."

WEB:              What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the farmers, and will give the vineyard to others.

Young’s:         'What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard to others.

Conte (RC):    Therefore, what will the lord of the vineyard do?" "He will come and destroy the settlers. And he will give the vineyard to others."


12:9                 What shall therefore the lord [owner, NKJV] of the vineyard do?  The obvious answer is given in Mark and Luke by Jesus Himself; in Matthew by His [listeners].  Both may well have occurred, Jesus answering His own question and His answer being supported by their voices.  Compare the cast of David, caught by a parable and led to condemn himself, 2 Samuel 12:5-6.  [23]

                        he will come and destroy the husbandmen.  The destruction of the husbandmen (vine-dressers) points to the destruction of Jerusalem, which is therefore the coming of the Lord of the vineyard.  [11]

                        and will give the vineyard unto others.  A prediction that the nation is finally to be overthrown, and that the opportunities and responsibilities which had been peculiarly theirs are to be given to others, i.e., not to any particular nation, but to all, Jews or gentiles, who would accept the truth.  [35]

                        In depth:  Who speaks of the doom of the vinedressers, Jesus or His listeners  [39]?   In St. Matthew's narrative the scribes answer this question.  St. Luke, as St. Mark here, assigns the answer to our Lord.  It would seem probable that the scribes first answered Him, and that He Himself repeated their answer, and confirmed it by His looks and gestures; so that from thence, as well as from what followed, they might sufficiently understand that He spake these things of them.

                        Or:   Mark reports it as the answer of Jesus, because it was the answer that He wanted and because, when it was given, he approved it.  [38]



12:10                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     "Have you not read even this passage," He added, "'The stone which the builders rejected has become the Cornerstone:

WEB:              Haven't you even read this Scripture: 'The stone which the builders rejected, the same was made the head of the corner.

Young’s:         And this Writing did ye not read: A stone that the builders rejected, it did become the head of a corner:

Conte (RC):    "And so, have you not read this scripture?: 'The stone which the builders have rejected, the same has been made the head of the corner.


12:10               And have ye not read this scripture.  In verse[s] 10[-11] a passages from Psalms 118:22-23, which as originally uttered referred to the Jewish nation, which, though despised by other nations, was given a place of peculiar responsibility by God, is applied by Jesus to himself.  The principle is a general one:  God rules in the world, not according to the ideas of men, but according to His own wisdom and choice.  That the passage was originally spoken with reference to the nation makes its application to Jesus the more forcible.  The same principle that once exalted them, now that they have been unfaithful to their opportunities, means their downfall.  [35]

                        The stone which the builders rejected.  The figure is drawn from the building of a stone structure, where the builders have thrown aside a stone as unsightly and unsuitable.  The antitype of the stone is Jesus Christ, despised and "rejected" by these builders to whom the words were spoken.  [45]

                        is become the head of the corner [chief cornerstone, NKJV].  It is a question whether this means the foundation-stone or the top-stone.  The figure would naturally suggest the top-stone, the cap-stone.  That it means the foundation stone in he verse before us seems a necessary inference from 1 Peter 2:4-8, where the apostle quotes from this passage of the Psalm the phrase  "the stone rejected of men"  and without changing his figure, goes on to quote a passage from Isaiah 28:16, concerning a "foundation stone,"  thus identifying them.  [45]

                        Alternate interpretation:   This would mean Christ the most important foundation stone, joining two walls.  A reference to the union of Jews and Gentiles in Christ (as in Ephesians 2:19-22) may be included; but the main thought is that the Messiah, even if rejected by the  "builders,"  should become the corner-stone of the real temple of God.  This involves the important idea that the "builders" would be themselves rejected.  [11]

                        If the former of the two interpretation (i.e., Jesus as top-stone) be adopted, the meaning is that Jesus Christ shall, in the spiritual building, hold; the highest place of honor, being the crowning beauty and excellence of the whole structure; if the latter, which seems to be the interpretation of an inspired writer, then the meaning is that Jesus Christ is the chief foundation stone upon which the whole building rests, a truth frequently presented in other scriptures.  [45]



12:11                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     this Cornerstone came from the Lord, and is wonderful in our esteem?'"

WEB:              this Cornerstone came from the Lord, and is wonderful in our esteem?'"

Young’s:         from the Lord was this, and it is wonderful in our eyes.'

Conte (RC):    By the Lord has this been done, and it is wondrous in our eyes.' "


12:11               This was the Lord's going.  The seeming incongruity in the stone rejected whilst the building is going on, being the chief foundation stone when it is completed, is accounted for by it being "from the Lord."  The revolution is by Divine power.  [45] 

                        and it is marvelous in our eyes?  The reaction of the people:  amazement that things should work out this way.  [rw]     



12:12                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     And they kept looking out for an opportunity to seize Him, but were afraid of the people; for they saw that in this parable He had referred to *them*. So they left Him and went away.

WEB:              They tried to seize him, but they feared the multitude; for they perceived that he spoke the parable against them. They left him, and went away.

Young’s:         And they were seeking to lay hold on him, and they feared the multitude, for they knew that against them he spake the simile, and having left him, they went away;

Conte (RC):    And they sought to take hold of him, but they feared the crowd. For they knew that he had spoken this parable about them. And leaving him behind, they went away.


12:12               And they sought to lay hold on Him.  An advance on the feeling of the previous day, when they “sought how they might destroy Him” (11:18) but the fear of the people was still, as then, in their way.  [38]

                        but feared the people.  The masses, the common people "whom they despised as well as feared (John 7:49)" (Alexander).45

                        The masses may be just as “unlearned” as they, in their arrogance, think.  But that does not mean that they are either blind or oblivious that any arrest would be blatant injustice and that the “authorities” would only be acting out of wounded pride.  [rw]

                        for they knew He had spoken the parable against them.  The parties referred to are the chief priests and scribes who had introduced this conversation by asking Him for His authority (11:27).  [38]

                        They saw that He was attacking their faithlessness to their divinely appointed duty, just as before He had rebuked their profanation of the temple.  Again their only reply was to plot violence.  [44]

                        and they left Him and went their way [away, NKJV].  Being afraid to lay hold of Him, and being too much exasperated to continue the conversation with Him, they went away and devised the plot mentioned in the next paragraph.  [38]



12:13                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     Their next step was to send to Him some of the Pharisees and of Herod's partisans to entrap Him in conversation.

WEB:              Their next step was to send to Him some of the Pharisees and of Herod's partisans to entrap Him in conversation.

Young’s:         and they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, that they may ensnare him in discourse,

Conte (RC):    And they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to him, so that they might trap him with words.


12:13               They send unto Him certain of the Pharisees and the Herodians.  Under ordinary circumstances the Herodians were cordially hated by the Pharisees.  The union of the two groups in opposition to Jesus shows how dangerous His influence was judged by them to be.  [44]

                        Herodians.  These Herodians were a sect of the Jews who supported the house of Herod and were in favour of giving tribute to the Roman Caesar.  They were so called at first from Herod the Great, who was a great supporter of Caesar.  Tertullian, St. Jerome, and others say that these Herodians thought that Herod was the promised Messiah, because they saw that in him the scepter had departed from Judah (Genesis xlix. 10).  Herod encouraged these flatterers and so put to death the infants at Bethlehem, that he might thus get rid of Christ lest any other than himself might be regarded as Christ.  They said that it was on this account that he rebuilt the temple with so much magnificence.  [39]

                        to catch Him in His words.  i.e., to force from Him some treasonable, blasphemous, or foolish answer, which would give them an excuse for arresting Him.  [44]

                        They in the most artful manner proposed to Him--apparently in good faith--a question which answer it how He might, would, as they hoped, throw Him upon the horns of a dilemma.  If He said that tribute ought to be given to Caesar, He would expose Himself to the malice of the Jewish people, who prided themselves upon their freedom.  If, on the other hand, He said that tribute ought to be given to Caesar, He would incur the wrath of Caesar and of the Roman power.  [39]



12:14                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     So they came to Him. "Rabbi," they said, "we know that you are a truthful man and you do not fear any one; for you do not recognize human distinctions, but teach God's way truly. Is it allowable to pay poll-tax to Caesar, or not?

WEB:              When they had come, they asked him, "Teacher, we know that you are honest, and don't defer to anyone; for you aren't partial to anyone, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?

Young’s:         and they having come, say to him, 'Teacher, we have known that thou art true, and thou art not caring for any one, for thou dost not look to the face of men, but in truth the way of God dost teach; is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not? may we give, or may we not give?'

Conte (RC):    And these, arriving, said to him: "Teacher, we know that you are truthful and that you do not favor anyone; for you do not consider the appearance of men, but you teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to give the tribute to Caesar, or should we not give it?"


12:14               And when they were come, they say unto Him.  These words, though probably insincere, were none the less a good characterization of Jesus as a teacher.  A less balanced person that He would have been flattered by them into giving the direct answer the questioners wanted.  [44]

                        Master [Teacher, NKJV], we know that thou art true.  This was said in a spirit of hypocritical flattery, as though they were ready to pay Him honor as the Messiah.  We find Nicodemus saying the same thing in a spirit of sincerity (John 3:2).  [8]

                        and carest for no man.  This ascribed to Him independence in His opinions, which would not be influenced by themselves, not by either of the opposing parties, nor by other men, but would be based alone on what appeared to be truth.  [45]

                        for thou regardest not the person of men.  A Hebrew idiom to express impartiality, frequently enjoined upon judges, who were not to be influenced in their judgment by rank or class, but to deal out even-handed justice to all.  Such, these flatterers say, would be the decisions of Jesus.  [45]

                        This was a cunning temptation to lift Himself above all respect for the Roman authorities.  [8]

                        But teachest the way of God in truth.  i.e., the true doctrine.  This was certainly hypocritical for both the Pharisees and Herod condemned this Teacher of the truth.  [11]

                        Is it lawful.  For Jews.  [23]

                        to give tribute [to pay taxes, NKJV] to Caesar.  Judea, the southern part of Palestine, was directly subject to Roman (being governed by a governor, procurator, appointed by the Roman emperor), and paid taxes to Rome.  It was a point of dispute among the Jews whether this was right, the Pharisees questioning whether it was right for them as God's people to pay taxes to any foreign ruler, while the Herodians doubtless maintained the rightfulness of such payment.  [35]

                        Caesar.  Caesar, originally a personal name, had come to be simply a general name for the Roman emperor at any time on the throne, as [in the nineteenth century] the German emperor [was] called Kaiser, and the Russian emperor Czar.  [35]      

                        or not.  Whichever side of the question Jesus took, it seemed to them He would be in difficulty.  If He said that it was right to pay tribute, they could urge that this was disloyalty to God, and so discredit Him with the people, perhaps even raise a riot against Him.  If he said it was not right, they would complain of Him to the Roman governor on the ground that He was encouraging disloyalty to Rome.  [35]        



12:15                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     Shall we pay, or shall we refuse to pay?" But He, knowing their hypocrisy, replied, "Why try to ensnare me? Bring me a shilling for me to look at."

WEB:              Shall we give, or shall we not give?" But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why do you test me? Bring me a denarius, that I may see it."

Young’s:         And he, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, 'Why me do ye tempt? bring me a denary, that I may see;'

Conte (RC):    And knowing their skill in deception, he said to them: "Why do you test me? Bring me a denarius, so that I may see it."


12:15               Shall we give [pay, NKJV], or shall we not give [pay, NKJV]?  To appreciate the full force of this question as to the tribute, it is necessary to remember that Jesus was now in Judea, which, unlike Galilee, was subject and paid taxes directly to Rome.  [44]

                        But He, knowing their hypocrisy.  I.e., in proposing to ask His opinion, while, in fact, only wishing to entrap Him.35

                        He could have known it was hypocrisy because of supernatural insight.  On the other hand, if their attire or other remarks made Him realize that they were Herodians (verse 13)—well, it took nothing but common sense to realize that they would be the last people around looking for an excuse not to pay taxes and that any such question had to be presented out of an ulterior and hostile motive.  [rw]

                        Said unto them, why tempt [test, NKJV] ye me?  Bring me a penyb [denarius, NKJV].  Many have been preserved.  They have the head and name of the emperor stamped upon them.  [44]

                        that I may see it.  Not because the appearance of the coin was unfamiliar,  but as an object lesson.  [41] 



12:16                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     They brought one; and He asked them, "Whose is this likeness and this inscription?" "Caesar's," they replied.

WEB:              They brought it. He said to them, "Whose is this image and inscription?" They said to him, "Caesar's."

Young’s:         and they brought, and he saith to them, 'Whose is this image, and the inscription?' and they said to him, 'Caesar's;'

Conte (RC):    And they brought it to him. And he said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" They said to him, "Caesar's."


12:16               And they brought it.  There is said to have been a coin, made in concession to Jewish [feelings] on which there was no portrait of the emperor.  But a denarius with both likeness and legend was not far to seek, even if no one of the company had one, for the moneychangers were near.  [23]

                        And He saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription [inscription]?  The head of the emperor stamped on the coin, and his name written about the head  were the symbols of the fact that Judea was subject to the Roman emperor, that a Roman governor and Roman soldiers maintained peace in Judea--a service for the expenses of which taxes were paid.  This was all the more impressive because, in fact, the Romans were in authority in no small measure because of the dissensions of the Jews among themselves.  [35]

                        Their Rabbis at a later day laid down the principle, no doubt admitted generally then, that to accept the coin of a king was to acknowledge his authority.  They therefore, by their general use of the very coin in which taxes were paid, acknowledged the Roman authority; they moreover in all their business transactions had the protection of its law, yea, even in their religious worship.  It was a duty then to pay back every just obligation to the government.  [45]

                        That the use of the Roman coins did carry with it such an admission [of authority] is to be seem in the fact that in their revolt the Jews stamped out the face and name of Caesar.  [44]  

                        And they said unto Him, Caesar's.  It was Tiberius Caesar who was then reigning.  Caesar was a common name applied to many Roman emperors, beginning with Julius Caesar.  [8]



12:17                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     "What is Caesar's," replied Jesus, "pay to Caesar--and what is God's, pay to God." And they wondered exceedingly at Him.

WEB:              Jesus answered them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." They marveled greatly at him.

Young’s:         and Jesus answering said to them, 'Give back the things of Caesar to Caesar, and the things of God to God;' and they did wonder at him.

Conte (RC):    So in response, Jesus said to them, "Then render to Caesar, the things that are of Caesar; and to God, the things that are of God." And they wondered over him.


12:17               And Jesus answering said unto them, Render.  They said "give," dounai; He said, "render," or "give back," apodote.  They thought of the service as voluntary; He as an obligation.  The  question was not one of giving, but of discharging a duty.  The government gave something to them, and they must give back something to the government.  [23]

                        to Caesar the things that are Caesar's.  Has His answer stopped here, it might have seemed a triumph for the Herodian party; but He added, “and to God the things that are God's."  [34]

                        and to God.  This is as much as to say, that the two things are not inconsistent, and that to pay taxes to Caesar is not disloyalty to God.  But it is saying it in such a way that they could not make any use of His words against Him with the people of the governor.  [35]

                        These words do not separate the religious and political duties of Christians.  The second comprehends the first and gives it its true foundation.  The obedience to Caesar is but the application of the general principle of obedience to God, from whom is all power.  [19]

                        the things that are God's.  He does not designate what are the duties to God, as He had not what was due to Caesar; but these admitted duties must be faithfully performed.  The two classes of duties can never be in conflict, but if the demands of the temporal power conflict with God's demand, the lower of course must give way to the higher.  This, however, is an inference from the nature of the two kinds of obligations, but is not made here a point in our Saviour's ever memorable saying.  [45]

                        To make of this saying a summary of the relations of church and state is to find in it something remote from Jesus' purpose.  That in giving an answer of which His enemies could not lay hold to His injury He should have reminded them of their obligation to the government to which they were in fact subject (thus implying that the true kingdom of God was not national), and should also have recalled them to their forgotten duties to God, is wholly in accordance with His character as a moral and religious teacher.  That He should recognize the legitimacy of government was in accord with His entire spirit.  Jesus was as far as possible from being a gentle anarchist.  The watchword of the Christian is not "My rights,” but “My duties."  [44]

                        And they marveled at Him.  They marvelled at His wisdom and skill in extricating Himself so readily out of this net in which they had hoped to entangle Him.  Indeed, the words of the Psalmist (9:15) were verified in them:  "The wicked is snared in the work of His own hands."  He vaulted over the trap set for Him, leaving them entangled in it.  He lifted up the question far above the petty controversy of the hour and affirmed a great principle of natural and religious obligation which belongs alike to all times and persons and places.  [39]  



12:18                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     Then came to Him a party of Sadducees, a sect which denies that there is any Resurrection; and they proceeded to question Him.

WEB:              There came to him Sadducees, who say that there is no resurrection. They asked him, saying,

Young’s:         And the Sadducees come unto him, who say there is not a rising again, and they questioned him, saying,

Conte (RC):    And the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, approached him. And they questioned him, saying:


12:18               Then come unto Him the Sadducees.  The Sadducees did not believe in the conscious existence of the soul after the death of the body, holding that "in the death of a man there is no remedy" (Wisdom of Solomon 2:1).  Cf. Acts 23:8.  [35]

                        which say there is no resurrection; and they asked Him, saying.  Their question was intended to show the absurdity of a belief in a resurrection.  [44]

                        Their question is as insincere as the preceding; it was a puzzle upon a doctrine in which they were total unbelievers.  It proves, however, that the doctrine of the resurrection was everywhere recognized as a doctrine of Jesus.  [23]



12:19                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     "Rabbi," they said, "Moses made it a law for us: 'If a man's brother should die and leave a wife, but no child, the man shall marry the widow and raise up a family for his brother.'

WEB:              "Teacher, Moses wrote to us, 'If a man's brother dies, and leaves a wife behind him, and leaves no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up offspring for his brother.'

Young’s:         'Teacher, Moses wrote to us, that if any one's brother may die, and may leave a wife, and may leave no children, that his brother may take his wife, and raise up seed to his brother.

Conte (RC):    "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if any man's brother will have died and left behind a wife, and not have left behind sons, his brother should take his wife to himself and should raise up offspring for his brother.


12:19               Master [Teacher, NKJV].  The same form of address with that in verse 14, admitting His authority as a religious teacher, if not as a prophet.  [45]

                        Moses wrote unto us.  See Deuteronomy 25:5-10.  This provision corresponded to the universal desire in Israel for the perpetuation of name and family.  So strong was the desire that this provision was made for a putative offspring in default of actual.  The custom was older than the law, however (Genesis 38:8).  The obscure expression in Deuteronomy 25:5, "If brethren dwell        together, and one of them die," leaves us uncertain in exactly what circumstances the law was applicable.  There is no case recorded in the Old Testament, though there is an allusion to the custom in Ruth 1:11-13.  The transaction of Ruth 4:1-8 is of another kind.  [23]           

                        If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind and leave no children.  A double condition:  He precedes his wife in death and they have had no children.  These prerequisites severely limited the number of occasions where the requirement could be invoked.  [rw]

          That his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.  This brother-in-law (Levirate) marriage was common among the Semitic peoples.  [44]



12:20                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     There were once seven brothers, the eldest of whom married a wife, but at his death left no family.

WEB:              There were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and dying left no offspring.

Young’s:         'There were then seven brothers, and the first took a wife, and dying, he left no seed;

Conte (RC):    So then, there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and he died without leaving behind offspring.


12:20               Now there were seven brethren.  In an age of large families, a quite possible scenario.  [rw]

                        and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed.  Whether it was due to the death coming quickly after marriage or physical inability of some sort on his part, was irrelevant.  The result was the same:  a marriage with no children to carry on the family name.  [rw]    



12:21                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     The second married her, and died, leaving no family; and the third did the same.

WEB:              The second took her, and died, leaving no children behind him. The third likewise;

Young’s:         and the second took her, and died, neither left he seed, and the third in like manner,

Conte (RC):    And the second took her, and he died. And neither did he leave behind offspring. And the third acted similarly.


12:21               And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed:  and the third likewise.  They present a supposed case, very improbable, but not impossible.  [45]



12:22                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     And so did the rest of the seven, all dying childless. Finally the woman also died.

WEB:              and the seven took her and left no children. Last of all the woman also died.

Young’s:         and the seven took her, and left no seed, last of all died also the woman;

Conte (RC):    And in like manner, each of the seven received her and did not leave behind offspring. Last of all, the woman also died.


12:22               And the seven had her.  None had dodged a sexual relationship; in spite of its presence, no children had resulted.  [rw]

          Last of all the woman died also.  Childless by all the marriages, the woman was not linked to any one of the husbands more than to the others.  [23]



12:23                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     At the Resurrection whose wife will she be? For they all seven married her."

WEB:              In the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be of them? For the seven had her as a wife."

Young’s:         in the rising again, then, whenever they may rise, of which of them shall she be wife -- for the seven had her as wife?'

Conte (RC):    Therefore, in the resurrection, when they will rise again, to which of them will she be a wife? For each of the seven had her as wife."


12:23               In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them?  For the seven had her to wife.  The question assumes that if there is a resurrection and a future life, the family relations of this life are to continue in that, and the men who asked it imagined that they had pointed out an insuperable difficulty in the notion of a life after death.

                        If our Lord should say that in the resurrection she would be the wife of one only, the other brethren would have been excited to envy and continual strife.  Nor could He have said that she would be common to the seven brothers.  Such were the absurdities which, as they intimated, would flow out of His doctrine of the resurrection, if it could be proved.  But our Lord scatters to the winds all this foolish reasoning, by adding one clause omitted by them, and overlooked by men of mere earthly minds, namely, that in the world to come this widow would be the wife of none of the seven brethren.  [39]



12:24                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     "Is not this the cause of your error," replied Jesus--"your ignorance alike of the Scriptures and of the power of God?

WEB:              Jesus answered them, "Isn't this because you are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God?

Young’s:         And Jesus answering said to them, 'Do ye not because of this go astray, not knowing the Writings, nor the power of God?

Conte (RC):    And Jesus responded by saying to them: "But have you not gone astray, by knowing neither the scriptures, nor the power of God?


12:24               And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?  The two sources of the Sadducces' error are still the sources of false teachings.  [44]

                        ye know not the Scriptures.  Either in the sense of not being familiar even with the letter of their teachings on the subject, or more probably in that of not correctly understanding what they did known as to its external form.  The two things which He charges them with not knowing are, what God had taught and what God would do.  [3]

                        neither the power of God.  They did not know that He can raise the bodies of the dead again to life, even as at first He created them out of nothing; for a greater power is required to make that to be which was not then to make that again to be which once was.  Ignorance of the power of God led them to interpret these Scriptures which speak of the resurrection  to mean only a mystical resurrection from vice to virtue.  [39]



12:25                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     For when they have risen from among the dead, men do not marry and women are not given in marriage, but they are as angels are in Heaven.

WEB:              For when they will rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Young’s:         for when they may rise out of the dead, they neither marry nor are they given in marriage, but are as messengers who are in the heavens.

Conte (RC):    For when they will be resurrected from the dead, they shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage, but they are like the Angels in heaven.


12:25               For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage.  Jesus teaches nothing here as to the state of the risen except that they do not marry and are in this respect like the angels.  There is to be no farther reproduction of the race.  [45]

                        There will be no necessity for marriages in heaven.  Here on earth the father dies but he lives on in his children after death.  In heaven there is no death, but every one will live and be blessed for ever; and therefore it is that St. Luke adds here, “Neither can they die any more."  St. Augustine says, “Marriages are on account of children; children on account of succession; succession on account of death.  But in heaven, as there is no death, neither is there any marriage."  [39]

                        The text does not affirm, however, that there will be no recollection of former marriages or no recognition of each other as having existed in this tender relation.  [42]

                        marry.  Contract marriages as husbands.  [23]

                nor are given in marriage.  By the act of their parents, as wives.  The reason, as given in Luke [for the non-existence of marriage], is that they "cannot die any more."  Marriage, especially as suggested by the Levirate institution, exists for the sake of offspring.  But birth and death are correlatives; they belong in the same world:  if one ceases the other must cease.  In that world there is no death; hence no birth, hence no marriage.  [23]  

                        but are as [like, NKJV] angels which are in heaven.  Not that they are to be angels, but like them in that they are not to live a bodily, earthly life.  This shows the power of God, which does not simply restore men after death to a life like this, but introduces them to a higher one.  [35]



12:26                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     But as to the dead, that they rise to life, have you never read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the Bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?'

WEB:              But about the dead, that they are raised; haven't you read in the book of Moses, about the Bush, how God spoke to him, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'?

Young’s:         And concerning the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the Book of Moses (at The Bush), how God spake to him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;

Conte (RC):    But concerning the dead who rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, how God spoke to him from the bush, saying: 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?'


12:26               And as touching the dead, that they rise.  You wish proof?  I will give you fully adequate proof:  proof from Scripture itself.  [rw]

                        have ye not read.  The implication is that if they had read the Scriptures the way they should have, they should already have noticed this and come to this conclusion.  Or, possibly, even a more severe snub:  These words of Scriptures would already have decided the matter for you if you genuinely recognized the Divine authority of Scripture.  [rw]

           in the book of Moses.  The Pentateuch, Genesis to Deuteronomy.  [35]

                      Our Lord might have brought yet clearer proofs out of Job, Daniel, Ezekiel, etc., but in His wisdom He preferred to allege this out of Moses and the Pentateuch because, whatever the viewed of the Sadducees may have been as to other parts of the Old Testament, these books of Moses they readily acknowledged.  [39]

                        How in the bush [in the burning bush passage, NKJV].  The passage that has the story of Moses at the burning bush, Exodus, chapter 3.  [35]

                        God spake unto him, saying. I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of.  The argument is either (1)  purely formal (turning on the implied tense of an unexpressed verb, and valid only as addressed to men accustomed themselves to argue after this fashion); God says,  "I am the God"  of those long since dead; but  "God is the God of the living;"  therefore the patriarchs were still alive, possessed of immortality; or (2) roots on the attitude of God to men implied in the words, "I am the God,"  etc.; the eternal God in His love for the patriarchs (and for all good men), could not have allowed them to perish utterly.  The eternity of a loving Father thus implies the immortality of loving children.  [44]



12:27                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     He is not the God of dead, but of living men. You are in grave error."

WEB:              He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are therefore badly mistaken."

Young’s:         he is not the God of dead men, but a God of living men; ye then go greatly astray.'

Conte (RC):    He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Therefore, you have gone far astray."


12:27               He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living.  This does not, of course, mean that God is not the God of those who have died, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died; for this is just the opposite of what Jesus was affirming.  And it can hardly mean that because God uses "am" instead of "was" in speaking of them after their death that they therefore still "are" in existence.  The thought is deeper than this, and the meaning is doubtless this, that when God comes into such fellowship with a man as to say of him, "I am his God," he cannot suffer that fellowship to cease, hence cannot suffer that man to cease to be.  Though dead to men, he must live to God.  They of whom God says "I am their God" can never really die.  [35]            

                        Ye therefore do greatly err.  The Sadducees entirely misunderstood the meaning of their own Scriptures.  [39]



12:28                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     Then one of the Scribes, who had heard them disputing and well knew that Jesus had given them an answer to the point, and a forcible one, came forward and asked Him, "Which is the chief of all the Commandments?"

WEB:              One of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together. Knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the greatest of all?"

Young’s:         And one of the scribes having come near, having heard them disputing, knowing that he answered them well, questioned him, 'Which is the first command of all?'

Conte (RC):    And one of the scribes, who had heard them arguing, drew near to him. And seeing that he had answered them well, he questioned him as to which was the first commandment of all.


12:28               Then one of the scribes came.  A characteristic difference between Matthew and Mark is apparent at this point.  Matthew says, “When the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together," and he represents “one of them who was a lawyer,” as putting the question about the great commandment.  Mark, pursuing his usual method of selecting an individual from a group of actors, says nothing of the Pharisees, but simply “one of the scribes came” and put the question.  The defeat of the Sadducees by Jesus, had put the Pharisees in a sufficiently good humor to make them feel like renewing the conversation which they had abruptly terminated a short time previously (verse 12).  [38]

                        The “then came” language may simply convey that this particular scribe arrived independently of any larger group.  [rw]

          And having heard them reasoning together.  This scribe and others were present during the reasoning with the Sadducees, and when Jesus had given them His answer, added, "Master, thou hast well said" (Luke 20:39).  [45]

                        And perceiving that He had answered them well.  The scribe was evidently clearer-minded and more earnest than either the Herodians or the Sadducees.  The Herodians put a political question [12:13-17], the Sadducees proposed a speculative question [12:18-27]; but the scribe made a profound and spiritual inquiry.  [36] 

                        Asked Him, Which is the first commandment of all?  Not the first numerically, for this was well known; but the first in point of importance.  [38]

                        He may, in his own mind (seeing the wisdom and skill of our Lord), have desired to hear what Christ had to say to a very difficult question on a matter deeply interesting to all true Hebrews.  The question was one much mooted amongst the Jews in the time of our Lord.  "For many," says Bede, "thought that the first commandment in the Law related to offerings and sacrifices, with regard to which so much is said in Leviticus, and that the right worship of God consisted in the due offering of these."  [39]

                        Which.  Literally, "of what kind."  i.e., of what sort must a commandment be, in order to be the first?  The qualitative word poia, "of what kind," probably indicates that the man was thinking of commands by classes, distinguished from each other by quality and graded according to importance.  [23]     



12:29                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     "The chief Commandment," replied Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord;

WEB:              Jesus answered, "The greatest is, 'Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one:

Young’s:         and Jesus answered him -- 'The first of all the commands is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one;

Conte (RC):    And Jesus answered him: "For the first commandment of all is this: 'Listen, O Israel. The Lord your God is one God.


12:29               And Jesus answered him.  In quoting the answer of Jesus, Mark reverses the order of the first two sentences as they are given by Matthew.  The latter gives the commandment, "Thou shalt love," etc., and then the remark,  "This is the first and great commandment;"  while Mark makes the latter thought introductory to the former.  This is an example of free quotation, in which, for the sake of brevity, there is a change in the order of the sentences without the slightest change in the meaning.  [38]

                        The first of all the commandments.  Instead of singling out particular commandments as entitled to the preference, He gives the first and second place to two contained in scripture [which implicitly includes] all the rest [of God's commandments].  [3]

                        Is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.  Quotation, slightly varied, from the LXX [Greek, Septuagint] of Deuteronomy 6:4-5.  [23]



12:30                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, thy whole soul, thy whole mind, and thy whole strength.'

WEB:              you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.

Young’s:         and thou shalt love the Lord thy God out of all thy heart, and out of thy soul, and out of all thine understanding, and out of all thy strength -- this is the first command;

Conte (RC):    And you shall love the Lord your God from your whole heart, and from your whole soul, and from your whole mind, and from your whole strength. This is the first commandment.'


12:30               And thou shalt.  The language of law, expressive of God's claims.  [43]

                        love.  Had the essence of the divine law consisted in deeds, it could not possibly have been expressed in a single word; for no one deed is comprehensive of all others embraced in the law.  But as it consists in an affection of the soul, one word suffices to express it.  [43]

                        With regard to the love of God, St. Bernard says, “The measure of our love to God is to love without measure; for the immense goodness of God deserves all the love that we can possibly give to Him."39

                        with all your heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind . . . soul . . . mind. . . strength.  This enumeration was not intended by Moses, or by Jesus, as a metaphysical analysis of man, but rather as a cumulative and comprehensive statement of the obligation to love God.  [23]

                        all . . . all . . . all.  i.e., completely, unreservedly.  [35]

                        heart.  Being here distinguished both from “mind"  and "soul,"  it means the sincerity  of both the thoughts and the feelings--uprightness, trueheartedness, as opposed to a hypocritical and divided affection.  [43]

                        soul.  i.e., feeling, or what we call warmth.  [43]

                        mind.  Intelligence, in opposition to a blind devotion, more devoteeism.  [43]                  

         The Hebrew (in Deuteronomy) enumerates heart, soul, and strength; but the LXX rendered "heart" by "mind."  Jesus introduces both.  [23]

                        And with all thy strength.  In other words, with all our powers.  [43]

                        this is the first commandment.  Out of which all other Divine commands grow.  Without this irrevocable bedrock, we might challenge any and all Divine rules that we wish had not been made.  [rw]



12:31                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     "The second is this: 'Thou shalt love thy fellow man as thou lovest thyself.' "Other Commandment greater than these there is none."

WEB:              The second is like this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

Young’s:         and the second is like it, this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; -- greater than these there is no other command.'

Conte (RC):    But the second is similar to it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."


12:31               And the second is like.  A quotation from Leviticus 19:18, where, however, it is not assigned any such place of importance as Jesus gives it here by placing it alongside the command to love God supremely, and where also "neighbor" means fellow-Hebrew, while Jesus, as Luke 10:27-37 shows, meant by it fellow-man.  Luke 10:27 suggests that some even of the scribes had learned to join these two commands together.  [35] 

                        namely this, Thou shalt love.  In His teachings, Jesus clearly did not have in mind political reform; neither did He intend to teach any formal reorganization of society.  He intended to plant in the minds and hearts of men certain ethical principles dealing with individual character and with the relations of each person to His fellow men which would have the effect of regenerating society.  The form which each society would take would, of necessity, depend upon social and political characteristics of persons, places, and times.  [26]

                        thy neighbor.  Paul speaks of love to man as the fulfilling of the law, so far as man is concerned (Romans 13:9).  James honors this second command as "the royal law," i.e., the king of laws--"according to the scripture."  [23]

                        as thyself.  From Leviticus 19:18.  "Man ought to love his neighbor, 1.,  not as he does love himself, but as he ought to love himself; 2., not in the same degree, but after the same manner, i.e., freely and readily, sincerely and unfeignedly, tenderly and compassionately, constantly and perseveringly"  (W. Burkitt).  [11]

                        Our love of ourselves is not a frigid love, but a sincere and ardent love.  In like manner we should love our neighbour and desire for him all those good things both for the body and for the soul that we desire for ourselves.  This is what our Lord Himself teaches,  "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, even so do unto them."  [39]

                        There is none other commandment greater than these.  i.e., “This is all Scripture in a nutshell."  It is the whole law of human duty in a portable, pocket form; so simple that a child may understand it, so brief that all may remember it, so comprehensive as to embrace all possible cases.  [43]



12:32                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     So the Scribe said to Him, "Rightly, in very truth, Rabbi, have you said that He stands alone, and there is none but He;

WEB:              The scribe said to him, "Truly, teacher, you have said well that he is one, and there is none other but he,

Young’s:         And the scribe said to him, 'Well, Teacher, in truth thou hast spoken that there is one God, and there is none other but He;

Conte (RC):    And the scribe said to him: Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth that there is one God, and there is no other beside him;


12:32               And the scribe said unto Him.  The answer of the scribe, contained in verses 32-34, is not found either in Matthew or Luke.  [21]

                        Well, Master.  He was too well instructed in the law not to see the force of this answer, and too honest to resist his own convictions.  [45]

                        Thou hast said the truth.  This scribe was put forward by the Pharisees "to tempt” Him; but he was too well instructed in the law not to see the force of this answer and too honest to resist his own convictions.  [45]

                        For there is one God; and there is none other but He.  He wasn’t willing to dismiss Jesus when He had things right even to his own mind.  Far too many of Jesus’ critics would rather suffer resentment than concede that Jesus was right on any thing.  He was “the enemy.”  You never concede that your enemy has the truth on any subject.  Unless you are intellectually honest.  [rw]             



12:33                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     and To love Him with all one's heart, with all one's understanding, and with all one's strength, and to love one's fellow man no less than oneself, is far better than all our whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices."

WEB:              and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."

Young’s:         and to love Him out of all the heart, and out of all the understanding, and out of all the soul, and out of all the strength, and to love one's neighbour as one's self, is more than all the whole burnt-offerings and the sacrifices.'

Conte (RC):    and that he should be loved from the whole heart, and from the whole understanding, and from the whole soul, and from the whole strength. And to love one's neighbor as one's self is greater than all holocausts and sacrifices."


12:33               And to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself.  Truth is so important to this particular questioner, He does not leave the matter with a grudging, “You are right,” but spells out in detail that he is in agreement with the entire position.  [rw]

             is more than all the whole burnt offerings.  Victims wholly consumed upon the altar.  [45]

                        and sacrifices.  A general term, including all [animal] offerings.  The general meaning of the scribe's reply is that obedience to the moral law is more important than all ceremonial observances, though of divine appointment:  and Jesus endorsed his reply.  [45]   



12:34                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     Perceiving that the Scribe had answered wisely Jesus said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." No one from that time forward ventured to put any question to Him.

WEB:              When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." No one dared ask him any question after that.

Young’s:         And Jesus, having seen him that he answered with understanding, said to him, 'Thou art not far from the reign of God;' and no one any more durst question him.

Conte (RC):   


12:34               And when Jesus saw that he answered discretely [wisely, NKJV].  Understandingly, or intelligently, is literal.  [45]   

                        He said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.  The man's response arrested the attention of Jesus.  It showed a readiness in perceiving the truth, and a promptness in accepting it, which were surprising in one of his class and the more so from the fact that he had been put forward for the purpose of testing the master with hard questions.  With a penetrating but approving look, Jesus said to him, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God."  The obvious meaning of this remark is that the man was in a condition to very readily receive the kingdom.  It was perhaps also true that he was not far from the kingdom in point of time.  It would be strange if such a man did not immediately enter the kingdom when it was reached by the apostles on and after Pentecost.  [38]

                        Perhaps among the “great company of the priests” and other Jewish ecclesiastics who “were obedient to the faith” almost immediately after the day of Pentecost (Acts 6:7), this upright lawyer was one.  But for all his nearness to the Kingdom of God, it may be he never entered it.  [43]

                        And no man after that.  Matthew introduces the remark that [follows]  at the close of the next paragraph, but Mark more appropriately introduces it here, because this was the last question which they propounded to Him and the next paragraph discusses one which He propounded to them.  [38]

                        Durst [dared, NKJV] ask Him any question.  They dared not ask any more, because they were not willing to be defeated as some of the questioners had been, nor compelled to give assent to His answer as the last one had been, and they could hope for nothing better.  [38]



12:35                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     But, while teaching in the Temple, Jesus asked, "How is it the Scribes say that the Christ is a son of David?

WEB:              Jesus responded, as he taught in the temple, "How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?

Young’s:         And Jesus answering said, teaching in the temple, 'How say the scribes that the Christ is son of David?

Conte (RC):    And Jesus, seeing that he had responded wisely, said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And after that, no one dared to question him.


12:35               And Jesus answered and said.  Mark omits the part which the Pharisees played in this conversation and gives but a synopsis of the argument made by Jesus.  [38]

                        while He taught in the temple.  Not in private conversation, but in the course of His public instructions.  [3]

                        How say the scribes.  As the expounders of the law and the religious teachers of the people.  [3]

                        that Christ.  The Messiah.  Notice that the statement refers, not [specifically] to Jesus as a person, but to the Christ, the Messiah predicted by the prophets and expected by the Jews, whoever he might be.  [35]

                                is the Son of David?  This was a favorite name for the Messiah among the Jews, and emphasized those qualities of the Messiah, as they thought of him, in which he was like David, the (earthly) king, the warrior.  [35] 

                        That this name would rightfully belong to the Messiah, no one doubted in those days.  See Isaiah 11:1-4; Jeremiah 23:5-6, etc.  [23]



12:36                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     David himself said, taught by the Holy Spirit, "'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, until I have made thy foes a footstool under thy feet.'

WEB:              For David himself said in the Holy Spirit, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies the footstool of your feet."'

Young’s:         for David himself said in the Holy Spirit, The Lord said to my lord, Sit thou on My right hand, till I place thine enemies -- thy footstool;

Conte (RC):    For David himself said in the Holy Spirit: 'The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand, until I set your enemies as your footstool.'


12:36              For David himself said.  Luke:  "in the book of Psalms."  [11]

                        by the Holy Ghost [Spirit, NKJV].  David was inspired by God's Holy Spirit to write the Psalms.  He wrote them as the record of his love of God, with prophecies mingled in them of the future Messiah; and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit deepened the meaning of them and guarded them from error.  [25]

                        The Lord said to My Lord.  The [110th] Psalm is more frequently cited by the New Testament writers than any other single portion of the ancient Scriptures (Acts 2:34-35; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 1:13; 5:6; 7:17, 21).  "In later Jewish writings nearly every verse of it is quoted as referring to the Messiah."--Perowne.  [8] 

                        Sit Thou on My right hand.  The sitting posture is appropriate to kings, who are frequently described as sitting on their thrones.  [3]

                        till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.  The word “till” does not imply that Christ will then cease to reign.  "Of His kingdom there shall be no end."  But He will then formally deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, only that He may receive it again as the second Person of the Godhead.  [39]



12:37                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     "David himself calls Him 'Lord:' how then can He be his son?" And the mass of people found pleasure in listening to Jesus.

WEB:              Therefore David himself calls him Lord, so how can he be his son?" The common people heard him gladly.

Young’s:         therefore David himself saith of him Lord, and whence is he his son?' And the great multitude were hearing him gladly,

Conte (RC):    Therefore, David himself calls him Lord, and so how can he be his son?" And a great multitude listened to him willingly.


12:37               Dvid therefore himself calleth him Lord.  The quotation is from Psalms 110, which all Jews believed to be written by David.  The point of the argument is clear:  David's words would make the Messiah greater than his son.  Any teaching as to the Messiah, therefore, should make Him something more than a Jewish king.  Thus again Jesus makes a Jewish hope universal by removing its purely Jewish element.  Messianism remained, but not that of the rabbis, centering about national deliverance and glory, but that of Jesus, looking toward divine deliverance from sin and the establishment of a regenerate humanity in which men would be brothers because they were sons of God.  [44]

                        and whence [how, NKJV] is He then his Son?  The answer they could not find, because their materialistic conception of the Christ was such that they could not think of David as calling his physical son his Lord.  The preconceptions prevented their seeing the point.  [27]

                        Jesus desires to show them that, according to their own understanding of this psalm, the Messiah is something more and greater than the title "son of David"  meant to them; he is David's Lord, not simply his son, another king like David.  If the scribes had had a truer idea of the Messiah, it would not have been so difficult for them to see that Jesus was the Messiah.  [35]

                        And the common people heard Him gladly.  This remark has reference not merely to the paragraph with which it is connected, but to the entire discussion which had occupied the day.  That the common people hear a man gladly in our own age can not be taken as a proof in itself  that his teaching is like that of Jesus, yet he who is most like Jesus will still be most gladly heard by the common people.  He who in any great degree fails of this must have some serious defect as a preacher of the gospel of Christ.

                        What was true of the common people assembled then in Jerusalem was equally true of those among whom He had taught in Galilee and Perea.  It was only the elders, the chief priests, the lawyers, and the scribes, who did not hear Him gladly.  To these He appeared in the light of a rival and an enemy and He appeared thus only because He persisted in exposing their errors and in pressing on the attention of the people truths which they rejected.  [38]



12:38                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     Moreover in the course of His teaching He said, "Be on your guard against the Scribes who like to walk about in long robes and to be bowed to in places of public resort,

WEB:              In his teaching he said to them, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk in long robes, and to get greetings in the marketplaces,

Young’s:         and he was saying to them in his teaching, 'Beware of the scribes, who will in long robes to walk, and love salutations in the market-places,

Conte (RC):    And he said to them in his doctrine: "Beware of the scribes, who prefer to walk in long robes and to be greeted in the marketplace,


12:38               And He said unto them in His doctrine [teaching, NKJV].  In this paragraph (verses 38-40), Mark quotes but two sentences from a speech which fills the entire twenty-third chapter of Matthew.  Luke treats the subject in the same way, making the same quotation almost verbatim.  [38]

                        Beware of the scribes.  This may mean, beware of the scribes who as a class love to go in long clothing, etc.; or it may mean beware of those scribes who love to go, etc.  In favor of the former interpretation is the parallel passage in Matthew 23, where some of these descriptive expressions, besides others of like purport, are applied to the scribes and Pharisees generally.  And yet whilst the warning is against the scribes as a class, it would be pressing the language too far to allow no exception.  These things surely could not be said of the scribe whom He had just pronounced not far from the kingdom of God (verse 34).  [45]

                        which love to go in long clothing.   [The Greek lexiographers] Liddell and Scott render "in full dress"--i.e., in whatever official robes they were entitled to wear; not, as Jesus, in the clothing of common life.  [23]

                        and love salutations [greetings, NKJV] in the marketplaces.  The places of public assembly, as though they were honored and popular.  [45]



12:39                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     and to occupy the best seats in the synagogues and at dinner parties,

WEB:              and the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts:

Young’s:         and first seats in the synagogues, and first couches in suppers,

Conte (RC):    and to sit in the first chairs in the synagogues, and to have the first seats at feasts,


12:39               and the chief [best, NKJV] seats in the synagogues.  Probably located before the ark that contained the books of scripture and facing the congregation.  [35]

                        and the uppermost rooms [best places, NKJV] at feasts.  The places of honor near the host.  Cf. Luke 14:7-11.  [35]   



12:40                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     and who swallow up the property of widows and then mask their wickedness by making long prayers: these men will receive far heavier punishment."

WEB:              those who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation."

Young’s:         who are devouring the widows' houses, and for a pretence are making long prayers; these shall receive more abundant judgment.'

Conte (RC):    who devour the houses of widows under the pretense of long prayers. These shall receive the more extensive judgment."


12:40               Which devour widows' houses.  This they did under pretense of counselling them in the knowledge of the law, and in the management of their estates.  They took advantage of their ignorance and unprotected state and either extorted large sums for their counsel or perverted the property to their own use.  [42]

                        Or:   I.e., are so hard on them in money matters, perhaps in enforcing the payment of debts, or in insisting upon the payment of tithes, etc., as to "eat up" the little property the poor women had, even the houses that sheltered them.  [35]

                        and for a pretense make long prayers.  To keep up an appearance of piety which did not exist.  As the prayers were made for this purpose, and made long in order to more effectually accomplish the purpose, they only added to the wickedness which they were designed to conceal.  [38]

                        these will receive greater damnation [condemnation, NKJV].  Greater because they had misused their spiritual privileges, betrayed the trust of the simple, and, brought reproach upon the same of God.  [23]

                        There are many ways of swindling the defenseless, but to do it with pretended piety is worst of all.  [11]



12:41                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     Having taken a seat opposite the Treasury, He observed how the people were dropping money into the Treasury, and that many of the wealthy threw in large sums.

WEB:              Jesus sat down opposite the treasury, and saw how the multitude cast money into the treasury. Many who were rich cast in much.

Young’s:         And Jesus having sat down over-against the treasury, was beholding how the multitude do put brass into the treasury, and many rich were putting in much,

Conte (RC):    And Jesus, sitting opposite the offertory box, considered the way in which the crowd cast coins into the offertory, and that many of the wealthy cast in a great deal.


12:41               And Jesus sat.  Probably to rest.  [24]

                        over against [opposite, NKJV] the treasury.  In the so-called court of the women, along the side of which were the trumpet-shaped vessels to receive the gifts of the people.  [44]

                        and saw.  The imperfect tense in the original [Greek] implies that He continued watching and observing the scene.  [8]

                        how the people cast money into the treasury.  Free-will offerings for the temple, probably.  [35]

                        Alternate interpretation:  The contributions which the law of Moses required all of them to bring when they came up to the annual festivals (Deut. 16:16-17).  [38]

                        and many that were rich cast in much.  Highly appropriate since they could give much without it hurting them.  Which is not to rule out a fraction who did it to gain public reputation by making sure others knew how “generous” was their donation.  [rw]                            



            A historical note on the Temple treasury:  From Alfred Edersheim, The Temple (1874)

The Court of the Women obtained its name, not from its appropriation to the exclusive use of women, but because they were not allowed to proceed farther, except for sacrificial purposes. Indeed, this was probably the common place for worship, the females occupying, according to Jewish tradition, only a raised gallery along three sides of the court. This court covered a space upwards of 200 feet square.

All around ran a simple colonnade, and within it, against the wall, the thirteen chests, or "trumpets," for charitable contributions were placed. These thirteen chests were narrow at the mouth and wide at the bottom, shaped like trumpets, whence their name.

Their specific objects were carefully marked on them. Nine were for the receipt of what was legally due by worshippers; the other four for strictly voluntary gifts.

Trumpets I. and II. were appropriated to the half-shekel Temple-tribute of the current and of the past year. Into Trumpet III. those women who had to bring turtledoves for a burnt and a sin-offering dropped their equivalent in money, which was daily taken out and a corresponding number of turtledoves offered. This not only saved the labour of so many separate sacrifices, but spared the modesty of those who might not wish to have the occasion or the circumstances of their offering to be publicly known. Into this trumpet Mary the mother of Jesus must have dropped the value of her offering when the aged Simeon took the infant Saviour "in his arms and blessed God."

Trumpet IV. similarly received the value of the offerings of young pigeons. In Trumpet V. contributions for the wood used in the Temple; in Trumpet VI. for the incense, and in Trumpet VII. for the golden vessels for the ministry were deposited. If a man had put aside a certain sum for a sin-offering, and any money was left over after its purchase, it was cast into Trumpet VIII. Similarly Trumpets IX., X., XL, XII., and XIII. were destined for what was left over from trespass-offerings, offerings of birds, the offering of the Nazarite, of the cleansed leper, and voluntary offerings.

In all probability this space where the thirteen Trumpets were placed was the "treasury," where Jesus taught on that memorable Feast of Tabernacles. We can also understand how, from the peculiar and known destination of each of these thirteen "trumpets," the Lord could distinguish the contributions of the rich who cast in "of their abundance" from that of the poor widow who of her "penury" had given "all the living" that she had.

But there was also a special treasury-chamber, into which at certain times they carried the contents of the thirteen chests; and, besides, what was called "a chamber of the silent," where devout persons secretly deposited money, afterwards secretly employed for educating children of the pious poor.

It is probably in ironical allusion to the form and name of these treasure-chests that the Lord, making use of the word "trumpet," describes the conduct of those who, in their almsgiving, sought glory from men as "sounding a trumpet" before them—that is, carrying before them, as it were, in full display one of these trumpet-shaped alms-boxes (literally called in the Talmud, "trumpets"), and, as it were, sounding it.




12:42                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     But there came one poor widow and dropped in two farthings, equal in value to a halfpenny.

WEB:              A poor widow came, and she cast in two small brass coins, which equal a quadrans coin.

Young’s:         and having come, a poor widow did put in two mites, which are a farthing.

Conte (RC):    But when one poor widow had arrived, she put in two small coins, which is a quarter.


12:42               And there came a certain [one, NKJV] poor widow.  One of the helpless class which He had just described as "devoured" by the extortion of the scribes and Pharisees [verse 40].  In three words Mark presents to us a picture of her desolation:  she was alone, she was a widow, and she was poor.  [8]

                        and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing [quadrans, NKJV].  About equal to one-fortieth of a day's wages of a laborer.  [35]



12:43                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     So He called His disciples to Him and said, "In solemn truth I tell you that this widow, poor as she is, has thrown in more than all the other contributors to the Treasury;

WEB:              He called his disciples to himself, and said to them, "Most certainly I tell you, this poor widow gave more than all those who are giving into the treasury,

Young’s:         And having called near his disciples, he saith to them, 'Verily I say to you, that this poor widow hath put in more than all those putting into the treasury;

Conte (RC):    And calling together his disciples, he said to them: "Amen I say to you, that this poor widow has put in more than all those who contributed to the offertory.


12:43               And He called unto Him His disciples.  He made a point that His disciples pay attention to something so “minor” that they might well have overlooked it, as not worthy of attention.  But it was worthy of attention if one considered the moral lesson to be learned from the selflessness.  [rw]

          and saith unto them, Verily  I say unto you, That this poor widow has cast more in.  That is, more in proportion to their menas, and therefore more that was acceptable to God.  He does not mean that this was more in value than all which the others had put in, but it showed more love to the sacred cause, more self-denial, and of course more sincerity in what she did.  [42]

                        Alternate interpretation:  The poor widow gave not a greater proportion of her goods, she gave all; and it has been often remarked that she still had, in her poverty, the opportunity of keeping back one half.  [46]

                        than all they which have cast into the treasury.  It is not said that the gifts of the others were worthless.  Many possessed, no doubt, no worth (Matthew 6:1); others a greater or a less.  [8]



12:44                                                   Translations

Weymouth:     for they have all contributed out of what they could well spare, but she out of her need has thrown in all she possessed--all she had to live on."

WEB:              for they all gave out of their abundance, but she, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on."

Young’s:         for all, out of their abundance, put in, but she, out of her want, all that she had put in -- all her living.'

Conte (RC):    For they all gave from their abundance, yet truly, she gave from her scarcity, even all that she had, her entire living."


12:44               For all they did cast in of their abundance.  Out of what they had over and above their needs.  [35]

                        but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.  She did voluntarily what Jesus had vainly commanded the rich young ruler to do; though poor herself, she gave her all to feed the poor.  She did this, too, when she had only her widow's hands with which to earn more; but he had refused though he had the strength and ingenuity of young manhood to guard him against future want.  [38]