Mark Chapter 11  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Mark 11
 
Mar 11:1(top)
Mar 11:2

“in front of.” Jesus was traveling from Jericho on what is known as “the Jericho Road,” the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. It is only about a 15 mile journey, and thus a person can walk it in one long day, however, it is a steep climb. Jericho is more than 800 feet below sea level, and the Mount of Olives, which Jesus had to climb and from which he would get the view of Jerusalem (Luke 20:41) is over 2,500 feet high, making the ascent well over 3000 feet. Jesus would reach Bethphage and Bethany before he reached the summit of the Mount of Olives.

“colt.” This “colt” is not a young horse, but a young donkey (Matt. 21:2-5).

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Mar 11:3(top)
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Mar 11:9

Quoted from Psalm 118:25-26.

“Hosanna.” The people who were shouting praises to Jesus as he entered Jerusalem were for the most part not the same group as the group that shouted, “Crucify him” only a few days later. See commentary on Luke 23:21 and commentary on Luke 23:27.

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Mar 11:10(top)
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Mar 11:13

“indeed, it was not the season for figs.” The question this verse poses to the average reader is, “Why would Jesus curse the fig tree for not having figs if it was not the season for figs?” The answer to that question lies in understanding that, although there were a couple varieties of fig trees in Israel, the common variety produces two crops of figs per year. An early fig grows on the old branch stock that grew the preceding year. This early fig often begins to grow even before there are leaves on the fig tree, although sometimes these early figs and the leaves start to grow at the same time. These early figs usually start developing in March, but may be a little earlier or later depending on the climate, and the circumstances of any given tree (Israel has many different climates, usually somewhat depending on elevation). These early figs mature in June, and the leaves grow and mature along with them. A second crop of figs starts on the new tree growth that sprouts that year, and they generally ripen in August.

Since Mark is recording events around Passover, Jesus would have approached the fig tree in April. Although it was not yet the season for figs, Jesus noticed that this particular tree was in full leaf. If the leaves were fully formed, that meant he could expect the figs of this particular tree to be early too, or at least be far enough along to be somewhat satisfying to eat. This should not surprise us. It often happens in horticulture that a plant is a few weeks earlier than the “regular season.” However, when Jesus got to the tree, the situation was not just that the figs it had were not yet ripe, it did not have any figs at all!

This fig tree was a fitting parable of Israel. It was in full leaf and looked very promising, even ahead of the rest of the trees. It should have been a source of great blessing for those who looked for early sustenance coming out of the winter months. Instead it was a liar, promising much but delivering little, deceiving weary travelers and giving them false hope. Jesus cursed it, foreshadowing the curse and destruction that would come upon Israel.

“indeed.” The Greek is gar (#1063 γάρ), and is usually translated “for” or occasionally “because,” and it usually gives the reason for something. However, that use of gar does not fit this verse. Jesus did not find only leaves on the fig tree “because” it was not the season for figs. This phrase is letting us know that, indeed, it was not the general season for figs. But if that was the case, why would Jesus expect figs in the first place? The answer is that this particular tree had leaves, so Jesus could expect to find them on this tree. This use of the gar is what some scholars refer to as the “confirmatory gar” and confirms and clarifies what has already been stated. See commentary on Romans 9:3.

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Mar 11:14

“he answered and said.” The original text has the phrase, “answered and said” more than 100 times in the Bible, and it can sometimes be confusing because it is often used when no one asked a question. The phrase is an idiom, but it has a literal overtone behind it. The person who “answered and said” may not have been answering a direct question from someone, but they were answering and addressing the situation that was presenting itself before them (see commentary on Matt. 11:25).

“will ever eat.” The Greek word translated “eat” is phagō (#5315 φάγω (φάγομαι)), in the optative mood, but as Lenski points out in his commentary, here the optative is equivalent to the imperative mood, a command. Jesus is not saying, “May no one eat,” as if he was making a request, but rather, “No one will eat!” He is commanding something to happen. He is cursing the fig tree [For “curse,” see Mark 11:21 and see commentary on Luke 6:28]. A. Nyland (The Source New Testament) gets the sense correctly: “No one will ever eat fruit from you again!”

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Mar 11:15

“came into Jerusalem.” The exact meaning of “came into” (erchomai eis) must be determined from the context because it is used for “come to,” “come into,” “arrive at,” etc. In this case, Jerusalem was a walled city, so they literally “came into” it. They did not just “come to” it. Although the eastern wall of the Temple was part of the outer wall of Jerusalem, the main entrances to the Temple were from inside Jerusalem, especially from the south (which had both a double and triple entry gate) and from the west.

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Mar 11:16(top)
Mar 11:17

Quoted from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11.

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Mar 11:22

“trust.” To properly understand faith in this verse, see the commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:9, “faith.”

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Mar 11:23

“snatched up.” The Greek is airō (#142 αἴρω; pronounced eye-rō), and it is passive voice, imperative mood. Although it would be very literal to say, “Be taken up,” the imperative mood combined with the context, moving a mountain at your command, gives the sense that the mountain is being snatched up out of its place and thrown into the ocean (cp. The Source New Testament, which also uses “snatched”).

“sea.” In this context, Jesus is teaching in Jerusalem, and the Mediterranean Sea and Dead Sea were the closest and best known bodies of water.

“does not doubt.” The Greek is diakrinō (#1252 διακρίνω). In the middle voice, as it is here, it refers to being undecided within oneself. It is the indecision that causes one to hesitate or waver. Nyland (The Source New Testament) makes the case that “doubt” is not a good translation here, saying apisteō or aporeō would be “doubt,” and “undecided” would be better. While it is true that we often use “doubt” in the sense of a specific and steady state of mind, such as when we “doubt” that what someone says is true only because we cannot “prove” them to be lying,” it is also true that we use “doubt” of the times we doubt ourselves and waver between doubt and trust. Also, “undecided” might seem to say we are undecided about obeying God, which is not what the verse is saying.

This verse makes a strong point about the manifestation of trust (which is the full context here. It takes revelation from God, and then the manifestation of trust to move a mountain). When God gives us revelation that something can be done at our command, of course it will not happen if we doubt we can do it. But even if we are “undecided” and waver between trust (faith) and unbelief, we will not be able to carry out the will of God. Like Abraham, we must be strong in our faith, our trust in God. [For more on the manifestations of holy spirit, and the manifestation of trust, see commentary on 1 Cor. 12:9].

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Mar 11:24

“believe that you have received them, and you will have them.” This verse contains great truth, and great potential to be misunderstood and wrongly applied. Certain faith teachers have taken it to mean that through faith we instantly receive what we ask for, even though it may clearly seem to not be the case, we must nevertheless believe that we have already received what has been asked for. Often, this can lead to unhealthy situations where Christians must pretend that circumstances are not as they are, or feel that they are not having “faith.”

This comes from a misguided understanding of the verse. The second half of the verse should settle any thought as to whether the requests have been received—it assumes they have not. This is why it says, “and you will (future tense) have them.” An understanding of the Greek behind this phrase will further clear things up. To properly understand this verse we must understand the tense of the verb translated “you have received.” It is not the present tense, as the KJV can give the impression with their rendering, “believe that ye receive them.” Rather, the verb is in the aorist (past) tense. So understood literally, the verse would not be asking us to believe we have presently received anything, but to believe that we have already in the past received what we are presently praying for; then, perplexingly, it ends with the promise that if we so believe, we will in the future receive what we believe has already been received before we even asked for it.

How are we to understand this? Why would God put the verb in the aorist tense? The reason is this verse contains as idiom known as the proleptic aorist (under the category of the idiom of the prophetic perfect, see commentary on Eph. 2:6). The proleptic aorist is a form of the figure of speech heterosis, where one tense is used instead of another for emphasis. In this case the aorist tense is used for the future tense, speaking as though a yet future event had already come to pass. Wallace explains the proleptic aorist as follows: “An author sometimes uses the aorist for the future to stress the certainty of the event. It involves a ‘rhetorical transfer’ of a future event as though it were past” (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 564). Here in Mark 11:24 the event of receiving what is prayed for is yet future, but it is put in the past tense (“have received”) to emphasize its certainty.

When we understand that this phrase is the idiom of the proleptic aorist, we see that God is not asking us to believe we have already in the past received something we do not really yet have, nor is he asking us to believe we have presently received something we have not yet received; rather, he is asking us to believe we will receive our requests in the future. This saves us from the harm of turning biblical belief into make-believe.

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Mar 11:25

“stand praying.” The indicative mood of the Greek verb “stand” (stēkō #4739 στήκω) indicates that Jesus is thinking of this as something the disciples do; it is not just a hypothetical. Standing up to pray was an ancient practice, and reflected the belief that our Creator deserved the honor of standing before Him when making supplications and requests.

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Mar 11:26

. We omit this verse as do most modern versions as being an addition to the text in order to harmonize Matthew and Mark. Metzger, Textual Commentary: “Although it might be thought that the sentence was accidentally omitted because of homoeoteleuton, its absence from early witnesses that represent all text-types makes it highly probable that the words were inserted by copyists in imitation of Matt 6:15 ”

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Mar 11:27

“came again into Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was a walled city, so they literally “came into” it. They did not just “come to” it. See commentary on Mark 11:15.

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Mar 11:28(top)
Mar 11:29(top)
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Mar 11:31(top)
Mar 11:32

“—they were afraid of the people.” Mark 11:32 contains a good example of the common figure of speech anacoluthon, in which the speaker abruptly stops speaking about one subject and either stops completely or continues with another line of thought. The religious leaders were questioning Christ. He asked them a counter-question, which put them in a bind. As they considered their options as to how to answer Christ’s question, it was clear that if they said that John’s baptism only had human authority they could be in serious trouble with the people. In the intensity of the moment and with the uncertainty of how to move forward, the Jews simply stopped in mid-sentence. [For a more complete explanation of anacoluthon with examples, see commentary on 1 Cor. 9:15].

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Mar 11:33(top)
  

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