The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Mark 3

Mar 3:1

Cp 1Ki 13: Jeroboam stretches out his arm -- withered -- then restored. The outcome: altar was destroyed, sacrifice ceased.

HAND: "Arm" (NEB).

Mar 3:2

They were men with shriveled HEARTS! It was easier to heal the man with the shriveled hand than to heal the men with the shriveled hearts!

Mar 3:4

BUT THEY REMAINED SILENT: In one moment of sullen silence they passed the verdict upon themselves. In their dry and shriveled little hearts they were all murderers (v 6)!

Mar 3:5

"Jesus looked": vv 5,34; Mar 5:32; 6:41; 7:34; 8:33; 11:11.

Mark's account says they were all silent (Mar 3:4).

LOOKED... IN ANGER: The verb "to look with anger": 6 times in Mark (Mar 3:5,34; 5:32; 9:8; s10:23; 11:11) -- 5 times referring to Christ; and only once elsewhere (Luk 6:10).

STUBBORN: "Hardness" (AV). Lit, "petrification".

HEARTS: Lit, "heart" -- singular. They all shared one heart (purpose) amongst themselves.

STRETCH OUT YOUR HAND: An act of faith. As the lame man stood up to walk, so the man with a withered hand stretched it out! To "stretch out hand" is to seek fellowship with Christ. See Isa 35:3.

HAND: "Arm" (NEB).

HAND... RESTORED: Isa 35:3.

Mar 3:6

Long or repeated conferences. All plots and attempts to get rid of Jesus: Joh 5:16; Mar 3:6; Luk 4:29 ("common people"); Luk 11:54; Joh 7:19-21,25; 8:59; Luk 13:31; Joh 10:31,39; 11:8,16,44-54; Luk 20:14-26; Mat 26:3-5,16. OT prophecies: Psa 140:2; 59:3; 10:9; 71:10,11; 41:7.

PHARISEES: Prob, Jews of influence who favored the rule of Romans and Herod. The aristocracy.

HOW THEY MIGHT KILL JESUS: The downward path of Pharisees -- they question inwardly (Mar 1:27), they ask his disciples (Mar 2:16), they openly accuse (Mar 2:24), and finally they plot (Mar 3:6).

So, evidently, it is wrong to heal someone on the Sabbath, but not wrong to plot a murder!

Mar 3:7

Jesus needs solitude for thought and prayer (cp Isa 50:4; Psa 119:147,148). A list of "solitude passages": Mar 1:35-37; 3:7,9,20,21; 4:35-38; 6:31; 7:17,18,24; 8:10,11,27; 9:30; 10:32; 14:32.

WITHDREW: A word implying "flight" (cp Mat 2:12,14,22).

Mar 3:8

MANY PEOPLE CAME TO HIM: The "seed of Abraham" was asserting his right to the land of promise.

Mar 3:9

This would allow him to complete his preaching before having to deal with the inevitable sick folk.

Mar 3:10

PUSHING FORWARD: Lit, "throwing themselves at him".

TO TOUCH HIM: All the occasions of Jesus touching, or being touched, in the context of healing (notice that not one of them is in John's gospel): Mat 8:3,15; 9:20,21,29; 14:36; 17:7; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 3:10; 5:27,28,30,31; 6:56; 7:33; 8:22; 10:13; Luk 5:13; 6:19; 7:14,39; 8:44-47; 18:15; 22:51.

Mar 3:11

Witness from men with such reputations would probably do him more harm than good.

Mar 3:13

JESUS WENT UP ON A MOUNTAINSIDE: First Christ prays -- before any decision. "Before Jesus made his deliberate choice of twelve men he spent the night with his Father. All the great events in his life find him or leave him in prayer. It is the natural expression of the dedication of one whose meat and drink was to do the will of Him who sent him, whose words and actions belonged to his Father, who of himself could do nothing. There is here a personal lesson for every disciple, a lesson too clearly portrayed for any to miss, too vital to the sincere heart to need any further stress.

"Later disciples without the privilege of walking with him through the crowded streets and over the verdant hills of Galilee find much of their inspiration in a prayerful contemplation of his words, the demands they make, and the light they throw upon the holy and devoted mind that uttered them" (MP 125).

Instances of Jesus withdrawing into a mountain, apart -- sometimes for privacy and prayer, and sometimes to instruct his followers: Mat 5:1; 8:1; 14:23; 15:29; 17:1; 24:3; 28:16; Mark 3:13; 6:46; 9:2; 13:3; Luke 6:12; 9:28; 22:39; John 6:3,15; 8:1.

AND CALLED TO HIM THOSE HE WANTED, AND THEY CAME TO HIM: "The call of Christ's servants comes from above. Jesus stands on the mountain, evermore above the world in holiness, earnestness, love and power. Those whom he calls must go up the mountain to him, they must seek to rise to his level by living in constant communion with him. They may not be able to mount to classic honours, or attain scholastic eminence, but they must like Moses go up into the mount of God and have familiar intercourse with the unseen God, or they will never be fitted to proclaim the gospel of peace. Jesus went apart to hold high fellowship with the Father, and we must enter into the same divine companionship if we would bless our fellowmen. No wonder that the apostles were clothed with power when they came down fresh from the mountain where Jesus was" (CHS).

Mar 3:14

// Num 11:25: Moses chooses 70 elders to assist him. Joshua had taken 12 stones out of Jordan, as a token of Israel's dedication to turn the Land of Promise into God's Kingdom. Jesus ("Joshua") now selects 12 men (the first, Peter, a "stone"), baptized in Jordan, to become foundation stones of a new Jerusalem (Rev 21:14). Cp Num 11:25: Moses delegates 70 elders to assist him.

THAT THEY MIGHT BE WITH HIM: Three purposes (vv 14,15): (1) Fellowship; (2) Preaching; and (3) Healing. (The last 2, not undertaken for some time.)

Mar 3:16

Vv 16,17: The first 3, renamed by Jesus, constitute a special subgroup, who alone witnessed some special events. "In the mouth of... 3 witnesses" (Deu 19:15).

SIMON... PETER: The "hearer" becomes a "rock"!

Mar 3:17

BOANERGES: Because of their zeal (Luk 9:54; Mar 9:38). In Heb "beni-ragesh" = sons of shaking, sons of thunder. Ref to divine manifestation (Exo 20:18; Psa 29; Act 2:2). Other suggestions in WGos 161.

Mark frequently uses Aramaic expressions: Boanerges (Mar 3:17), Talitha koum (Mar 5:41), Korban (Mar 7:11), Ephphatha (Mar 7:34), Rabbi (Mar 9:5; 11:21; 14:45), Bartimaeus (Mar 10:46), Abba (Mar 14:36), Golgotha (Mar 15:22), Eloi (Mar 15:34).

The term "Boanerges" is used by RR in writing of his first meeting with JT: "At last a quiet, firmly-set, square-shouldered, literary looking gentleman, in frock coat and chimney-pot hat, with ruddy countenance and white beard, emerged from one of the carriages, and began to pick his way in the crowd, with one valise in his hand. I was quite timid about saluting him, because it might not be Dr Thomas after all. After following him a little, I said to him with a palpitating heart, 'Mr Thomas?' He said, 'Yes'. We then exchanged greetings, and I led him out of the station to a cab, and conveyed him to our apartments... where my [wife] awaited him in a state of excitement, which soon changed to comfort and joy, in the presence of the cordial and social dignity of a mature and venerable man whom we found so much more interested, if possible, than ourselves in the sublime matters that had engaged our efforts and attention for some years... It is impossible to exaggerate the charm of Dr Thomas's company under our own roof (though it was but a lodging house roof). He was a totally different man from what his writings prepared us to expect. These writings were so pungent, so vigorous, so satirical, and had such a sledge-hammer force of argument and denunciation that we looked for a regular Boanerges -- a thunder-dealer, a man not only of robust intellect, but of a combative, energetic, self-assertive turn, whose converse would be largely spiced with explosive vocables.

"Instead of this, he was quiet, gentle, courteous, wellmannered, modest, absolutely devoid of affectation or trace of self-importance. His calm, lofty, cordial reverence for the Scriptures was very edifying to us, after several weary years of contact with drivellers and blasphemers; and his interest in all circumstances pertaining to the fortunes of the truth of which we had to tell him was very refreshing after a toilsome course of solitary labour in a cause that all our neighbours pitied us as fools for taking up. It was so gratifying and so strengthening, too, to have his fireside answers to the various scriptural questions we had to propound. 'Let me see', he would say, 'where is that passage?' and would turn it up, and then proceed in his dignified and incisive way to 'open to us the Scriptures'. Household matters and business shrunk into their proper smallness in his company. It was truly a 'little heaven below', the like of which we have rarely since experienced in the rugged journey of probation."

Mar 3:18

SIMON THE ZEALOT: Simon the "tax-hater" (being a Zealot!) joined Matthew the "tax collector". "Strange bed-fellows!"

Mar 3:19

ISCARIOT: Prob "Man of Kerioth", town in south Judea (Jos 15;25). If so, the only non-Galilean (Act 2:7). His father is mentioned (Joh 6:71) -- thus prob a well-known (and rich?) family.

Mar 3:20

THEN JESUS ENTERED A HOUSE: "Then he went home" (RSV). This is Capernaum (cp Mar 2:1n).

Mar 3:21

FAMILY: Greek "hoi par autou" = "those by his side". Cp Psa 69:8.

TO TAKE CHARGE OF HIM: "To seize him" (RSV).

HE IS OUT OF HIS MIND: It is not "crazy" (v 21) to miss a meal (v 20) occasionally. Sw in 2Co 5:13; Act 8:9,11.

"Demoniacs" suffered from: blindness, dumbness (Mat 12:22; Luk 11:14), insanity, schizophrenia (Mar 3:21; 5:1-5; Joh 10:20), epilepsy (Mar 9:17-27), and arthritis (Luk 13:11-17).

Mar 3:22

HE IS POSSESSED BY BEELZEBUB! BY THE PRINCE OF DEMONS HE IS DRIVING OUT DEMONS": Perhaps they took their lead from Christ's own family (Mar 3:21). This campaign continued (Mar 10:25; Joh 7:20; 8:48,52; 10:20).

BEELZEBUB: Lit, Beelzebul = "Lord of the dwelling". Corrupted by the Jews to Beelzebub: "Lord of the flies", and (by implication) "Lord of the dunghill". Irony: it was in fact by the TRUE "LORD" of the TRUE "dwelling" that Jesus did his work!

"Demoniacs" suffered from: blindness, dumbness (Mat 12:22; Luk 11:14), insanity, schizophrenia (Mar 3:21; 5:1-5; Joh 10:20), epilepsy (Mar 9:17-27), and arthritis (Luk 13:11-17).

Mar 3:23

IN PARABLES: Thus precluding a literal interpretation. Cp point of the ellipsis (Luk 11:18).

Vv 23-26: 'If by my works I show my opposition to demons, and since you oppose me, then you must be on the side of Beelzebub!'

Mar 3:27

Quoting from Isa 49:24,25.

A STRONG MAN'S HOUSE: Sig, here, the body of a demoniac, inhabited by Beelzebub. "Beelzebul" lit means "Lord of the house".

AND CARRY OFF HIS POSSESSIONS: That is, cast him out, with all his "goods" or works.

Mar 3:28

Cp vv 1-8: "Hardness of heart". they knew he would heal; yet they sought chance to catch him.

Mar 3:29

WHOEVER BLASPHEMES AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT: An enlightened rejection of the truth: testified by Christ through the Holy Spirit. Cp warnings: Heb 6:6-9; 10:28-31. Cp also Act 7:51.

Mar 3:31

Does he know the motives of his brothers? (Mar 3:21).

Mar 3:33

"He said of his father and mother, 'I have no regard for them.' He did not recognize his brothers or acknowledge his own children, but he watched over your word and guarded your covenant' " (Deu 33:8-10).

Mar 3:35

"An alien to my mother's children": Psa 69:8.

WHOEVER DOES GOD'S WILL...: "Are we doing the will of the Father in heaven? That is the real test. It is not a question of doing what we assume ought to be His will. It is not enough to find in our hearts general desires and aspirations in the right direction. Is the work we are doing now in accordance with the revealed will of God? Are we engaged in the works of love, dispensing the bread and water of life, doing good to all men, especially those of the household of faith? Are we crucifying the flesh by enduring evil treatment without retaliation, leaving vengeance of all degrees to the Lord? It is so easy to be self-deceived in these matters" (PrPr 56). See full article, Lesson, Brethren of Christ do the will of Father.

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