Mark Chapter 15  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Mark 15
Mar 15:1

“after making a plan​.” The Greek is sumboulion (#4824 συμβούλιον), and it refers to a meeting or the decision that those in the meeting have reached. Hence some translations have “held a consultation” (ESV), while others have something like “formed a plan,” and Lenski has “having passed a resolution.”a This was the morning trial of the Sanhedrin. Some of them had met the night before, first at Annas’ house (John 18:13-23) and then with Caiaphas (Matt. 26:57-75; Mark 14:53-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:24-27). However, the whole Sanhedrin was not present then, and besides, a night trial was technically illegal. Now, in the morning, the whole Sanhedrin is present to condemn Jesus, and they do condemn him (cp. Matt. 27:1; Luke 22:66-71). Therefore, it is true that the Sanhedrin both held a consultation, formed a plan, and reached a resolution as to what to do with Jesus, and then they took him to Pilate, who had the authority to execute him.

Lenski, Interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel, 679.
Mar 15:2

“Are you the king of the Jews?” Pilate’s question, “Are you the king of the Jews,” and Jesus’ affirmative answer, “Yes,” is very important, both for Pilate and for us, and it is recorded in all four Gospels (Matt. 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3; and John 18:33 and 18:37). The question and answer also shows us that this interaction was in the first of Jesus’ two trials before Pilate, something that is made clear in Luke (Luke 23:1-19). Neither Matthew, Mark, nor John mention Pilate sending Jesus to Herod Antipas (Luke 23:6-12), but they blend Jesus’ two trials before Pilate as if they were one trial. However, by studying all four Gospels together we can see that this was part of Jesus’ first trial before Pilate and when Mark speaks of Barabbas (Mark 15:6-15), that was part of Jesus’ second trial before Pilate.

Yes, it is as you say.” Jesus answered Pilate’s question in the affirmative, that, yes, he is a king. It is important to translate this verse in the affirmative. Jesus was not playing word games with Pilate, giving him an ambiguous answer (see commentary on Matthew 27:11; “Yes, it is as you say”).

Mar 15:3(top)
Mar 15:4(top)
Mar 15:5(top)
Mar 15:6(top)
Mar 15:7

“Barabbas.” Barabbas was a “notorious” prisioner (Matt. 27:16).

[For more information on Barabbas, see the commentary on Matthew 27:16.]

“the rebellion.” That is, “the rebellion” in which the “rebels” were involved.

Mar 15:8(top)
Mar 15:9(top)
Mar 15:10(top)
Mar 15:11(top)
Mar 15:12

“continued to ask.” Although the Greek word apokrinomai (#611 ἀποκρίνομαι) typically means to “answer” the REV renders the phrase palin apokrintheis (πάλιν ἀποκριθεὶς) as “continue” to indicate the continuation of discourse. For the nuance of “continue” as a translation of apokrinomai see BDAG.

Mar 15:13(top)
Mar 15:14

“Crucify him!” This is not the same crowd that had said, “Hosanna,” and “Son of David” some days earlier. See commentary on Luke 23:21.

Mar 15:15(top)
Mar 15:16

“the governor’s headquarters.” The Greek text is “the praetorium,” and the praetorium was normally the headquarters of the residence of the Roman governor. The exact place that was called the praetorium is debated. Roman Catholics mostly say it was the Antonia Fortress north of the Temple. Protestant scholars mostly tend to say it was Herod’s western palace. However, it is likely that in this case, the praetorium was the ancient Hasmonean place in the middle of Jerusalem (see commentary on Luke 23:7; John 18:28).

“the whole cohort of Roman soldiers.” The standard size of a cohort was 600 men. It was one-tenth of a “legion,” which was 6000 men. However, just as the size of a “legion” was almost never exactly 6,000 men, and was often considerably smaller, that same was true of a cohort. It is unlikely that this cohort was fully 600 men. It was likely smaller, but it still would have been a lot of men.

Mar 15:17

“purple.” Purple dye was rare and very expensive, so these soldiers went to great lengths to mock Jesus whom they thought was a pretend king (see commentary on 2 Chron. 3:14).

Mar 15:18(top)
Mar 15:19

“in homage to.” The kneeling in homage was a continuation of the mocking of Jesus. The soldiers were not sincere. See commentary on Matthew 2:2.

Mar 15:20

“mocked.” The Greek word translated “mocked” is empaizō (#1702 ἐμπαίζω), and means “mock,” “make fun of,” “ridicule.” See commentary on Matthew 27:29.

Mar 15:21

“coming in from the countryside.” That is, coming into Jerusalem, which was a walled city.

Mar 15:22

“Place of the Skull.” See commentary on Matthew 27:33.

Mar 15:23

“And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh.” The myrrh was bitter, thus Matthew refers to it as “gall” because “gall” is bitter (Matt. 27:34). Wine mixed with myrrh was sometimes offered to people being crucified because the myrrh deadened the senses, stupefied the person, and thus helped to lessen the pain. Jesus refused it because he needed full control of his senses and the suffering was part of the redemption of humankind.

Mar 15:24

“And they crucified him.” The Bible says that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was crucified. This is one of the proofs that Jesus Christ existed and was the origin of the Christian Faith. Roman crucifixion was incredibly cruel and horrific. The criminal was whipped, then forced to carry the patibulum (the crosspiece of the cross), then his naked body was nailed or tied (or both) to a cross and suspended for all to see and many to mock and disparage. No wonder the Law of Moses said that people who were hung on a tree were cursed (Deut. 21:22-23; Gal. 3:13). David Chapman writes, “And it is difficult to understand how Christians would have proclaimed a crucified Messiah and Saviour, unless such a crucifixion had actually occurred. In reporting this event, the New Testament texts provide significant details regarding the procedures employed in crucifixion (e.g., preceded by scourging, the carrying of the patibulum by the victim, the use of nails, the posting of a titulus, mob derision, etc.)”a

David W. Chapman, Ancient Jewish and Christian Perceptions of Crucifixion, 78.
Mar 15:25

“third hour.” About our 9 a.m. Both the Jews and Romans divided the day into 12 hours, starting at daylight, roughly 6 a.m.

[For the hours of the day and the watches of the night, see commentary on Mark 6:48.]

“when they crucified him.” Although the text uses “kai” here which is typically translated as “and,” kai can also carry this meaning of “when.”a It is also worth noting that there are some manuscripts that have “ote” here instead of kai, which means “when.” For these reasons, we have translated this phrase “when they crucified him.” Also, this is the most natural way to understand the text, it would make no sense for Mark to tell us that it was the third hour and then go on to say “and they crucified him,” and then for us to conclude that he was crucified at some later hour after the third hour.

BDAG, s.v.“καί.”
Mar 15:26(top)
Mar 15:27(top)
Mar 15:28

The earliest and best manuscripts of the Alexandrian and the Western text types lack Mark 15:28. Bruce Metzger remarks that “It is understandable that copyists could have added the sentence in the margin from Luke 22:37.”a

Metzger, Textual Commentary.
Mar 15:29

“insults.” See commentary on Matthew 27:39.

“rebuild.” The Greek text is just “build,” not “rebuild,” but in both Hebrew and Greek the word “build” is used for rebuilding and for building up a building, city, etc.

Mar 15:30(top)
Mar 15:31(top)
Mar 15:32(top)
Mar 15:33

“the sixth hour.” The sixth hour is noon our time. Both the Jews and Romans divided the day into 12 hours, starting at daylight, roughly 6 a.m.

[For the hours of the day and the watches of the night, see commentary on Mark 6:48.]

Mar 15:34

“the ninth hour.” The ninth hour is 3 p.m. our time. According to the Hebrew text of Exodus 12:6, the Passover Lamb was to be slain “between the evenings.” The early evening started when the sun could clearly be seen to be falling and the day started to cool off, and the later evening was as the sun was going down or had just gone down. By the time of Christ, the Passover Lamb was slain at the ninth hour, about our 3 p.m. Thus Jesus died at the same time the lamb was being slain in the Temple, just a few hundred yards to the west of the Mount of Olives where Christ was crucified.

[For the hours of the day and the watches of the night, see commentary on Mark 6:48.]

“Eloi, Eloi.” This is Aramaic, and a quotation of an Aramaic text of Psalm 22. C. S. Mann writes, “The Greek Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthanei is the transliteration of an Aramaic original which can only be described as ‘Hebraized.’ …Presumably, Mark’s community would be more accustomed to the Aramaic, and this would be reflected if Mark was using a Palestinian tradition. …Matthew has Eli, which is closer to the Hebrew form…it would appear likely that it was said in Hebrew, for the comment, ‘he is calling Elijah’ makes sense only if the cry was elei, elei, or eli, eli, rather than Mark’s eloi.”a

So it seems most likely that Matthew, who originally wrote in Hebrew, correctly copied what Jesus spoke in Hebrew, while Mark translated what Jesus said into Aramaic and Greek.

[For more information see commentary on Matt. 27:46.]

“My God, my God.” Jesus’ words on the cross are evidence that he was not God, but was fully human and was who he claimed to be, the Son of God. God does not have a God, and the fact that Jesus referred to God being his God before his death and resurrection when he was on the cross, (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34), after his resurrection but before his ascension (John 20:17), and after he ascended to heaven (Rev. 3:12) is good evidence that Jesus is not God. Revelation 1:5-6 also says that Jesus is a faithful witness and ruler and has made us priests to “his God.” In the Old Testament, the prophet spoke of the coming Messiah and said he would shepherd the people “in the strength of Yahweh, in the majesty of the name of Yahweh his God” (Micah 5:4).

[For more on Jesus not being God, see Appendix 10, “Jesus is the Son of God, Not God the Son.”]

C. S. Mann, Mark [AB].
Mar 15:35

“And some of those who stood by, when they heard this…” Christ was so beaten and swollen and so dehydrated from loss of blood that his enunciation was not clear and he was misunderstood by some of the crowd.

Mar 15:36

“wine vinegar.” Wine vinegar is made by fermenting wine until it sours and becomes vinegar, and it was sometimes given to a man being crucified to quench the raging thirst that the man suffered as his body dehydrated in the sun. In this case, the soldiers had some wine vinegar on hand to give to the men being crucified (see commentary on John 19:29).

“Leave him alone!” There are variations in the Greek texts, for example, some say “You (singular) leave him alone,” instead of, “You (plural) leave him alone!” But in the end, “Leave him alone” seems to be the preferred reading. Although some English versions leave it out entirely, it is in the preferred Greek text.

Mar 15:37(top)
Mar 15:38(top)
Mar 15:39

“saw how he died.” The Greek is literally, “breathed out,” which is a euphemism, in which “breathed out” was used to mean “die.”a The centurion had been there watching Jesus and saw the way in which he died. He heard the things he said and saw what happened as he was on the cross. From that, he concluded that what he certainly must have heard about Jesus was true, that he was the Son of God.

“Truly this man was the Son of God.” The claims of Jesus to be the Son of God would have been well known, as well as the miracles he did, and the fact that the religious leaders wanted him crucified because they envied him. Thus it is not hard to believe that the centurion, upon seeing the love of the Christ (Father, forgive them, etc.), his bravery, and all the miracles and signs that accompanied his death, would be convinced that this man was in fact who he claimed to be, and indeed, who the sign over his head said he was.

Cp. BDAG, s.v. “ἐκπνέω.”
Mar 15:40

“Mary Magdalene.” Mary is called “Magdalene” because her hometown was Magdala, on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee.

[For more information on Mary Magdalene see commentary on Luke 8:2.]

Mar 15:41(top)
Mar 15:42(top)
Mar 15:43

“Joseph of Arimathea.” Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus. See commentary on Matthew 27:58.

Mar 15:44(top)
Mar 15:45(top)
Mar 15:46

“laid him in a tomb.” This was just before sunset Wednesday evening, so it was Nisan 14.

[For more information on a Wednesday crucifixion and burial, see commentary on Matthew 12:40.]

Mar 15:47

“Mary Magdalene and Mary.” The women watched Joseph put Jesus in the tomb, close it, and leave, so they saw that Jesus’ body was not properly prepared for burial, which is why they went and bought spices themselves. See commentary on Matthew 27:61.


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