Mark Chapter 3  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Mark 3
Mar 3:1

“a shriveled hand.” The record of healing the man with the shriveled hand is in three Gospels (Matt. 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11).

Mar 3:2(top)
Mar 3:3

“Get up in the midst of the people.” Christ told the man to stand up in the midst of the crowd (cp. Luke 6:8). The healing would be performed by a word, not by a touch. He did not ask the man to come up front, but healed him in the middle of the crowd, right where he was.

Mar 3:4

“or to do harm.” The Greek word translated “harm” in this context is often translated “evil,” but that translation does not fit well here. It is never lawful to do “evil,” not on the Sabbath or on any other day. Here in Mark, the word “evil” has the same connotation that it does throughout the Old Testament; it refers to something bad or harmful happening. In this case, we are helped by the complete verse, where doing “harm” is paralleled to the word “kill.” The Pharisees were so mean-spirited that they would have done “harm” and flogged or executed a criminal on the Sabbath, and they knew it, so they remained silent when Jesus brought it up. But they could not bring themselves to do good on the Sabbath if it meant breaking their Sabbath traditions.

“to save a life or to kill.” In the phrase “to save a life or to kill,” Jesus might have been alluding to the Pharisees' overwhelming desire to keep the law even perhaps to stone someone to death on the Sabbath, yet, they are not willing to save lives on the Sabbath. This is brought out more clearly in the parallel passage which talks about the sheep falling into the pit (cp. Matt. 12:11). The Greek word translated “life” is psuchē (#5590 ψυχή; pronounced psoo-'kay), often translated “soul.” The Greek word has a large number of meanings, including the physical life of a person or animal; an individual person; or attitudes, emotions, feelings, and thoughts. Here it refers to the physical life of the body, which is why most versions translate it “life,” which is accurate in this context.

[For a more complete explanation of psuchē, “soul,” see Appendix 7: “Usages of ‘Soul.’”]

Mar 3:5

“anger.” The Greek word translated “wrath” is orgē (#3709 ὀργή, pronounced “or-'gay”). The Greeks used the word orgē for natural human anger, and for violent emotions in general, such as anger, wrath, or indignation—the context determined the exact meaning. Here we see Jesus expressing his (and God’s) anger at the hard-heartedness, blindness, and cruelty of the religious leaders. For more on orgē meaning anger, wrath, and punishment, see commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:10.

Mar 3:6(top)
Mar 3:7

“to the lake.” The lake is the “Sea of Galilee,” which is a fairly small lake.

“a large crowd from Galilee.” Mark 3:7-8 seems to actually describe two different sets of people, one from Galilee where Jesus had his headquarters and spent most of his time, and one from many other places where either Jesus had visited or word about him had reached.

“followed him.” Jesus’ headquarters was in Galilee, so he was near the people of Galilee most of the time, so they could “follow him.” In contrast, the crowd that had come from further away had to travel to get to where he was, so the text says those people “came to him” (Mark 3:8).

“And people from Judea.” The idea of “people” comes from the third person plural verb “came” (“they came”) at the end of the verse.

Mar 3:8

“and from Jerusalem.” The wide area covered by this crowd of people who came to Jesus shows the tremendous influence that his ministry had. It was not easy to travel in those days, so the people who came really wanted to see him. Jerusalem is a few days’ journey to the south of the Sea of Galilee, Idumea is the territory south of Judea and about a five-day walk from the Sea of Galilee. “Beyond Jordan” refers to territories east of the Jordan River and could be a day’s to a few days’ journey from the Sea of Galilee, while the areas of Trye and Sidon are some 35 to 50 miles to the northwest of the Sea of Galilee, at least a couple days journey away.

It is easy to surmise that many of the people came because they heard about healings and miracles, but with such large crowds, there is every reason to believe that some of the people came because they heard about the teachings of Jesus and were searching for truth and answers to long-held questions.

Mar 3:9

“And he told.” Mark 3:9 is unusual because it has two subjunctive verbs in the same sentence. Some commentators suggest that in this case the first subjunctive should be understood as an imperative,a the grammarian Daniel Wallace says that while rare, that is an acceptable understanding of the subjunctive in some circumstances. It makes sense in this verse.

“crush.” The Greek thlibō (#2346 θλίβω) is to press (as grapes), press hard upon.b The versions are split between “press upon” and “crush,” but the people were already pressing upon him (v. 10). He wanted to be sure they did not crush him.

R. T. France [NIGTC]; R. Guelich [WBC].
Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, s.v. “θλίβω.”
Mar 3:10(top)
Mar 3:11

“when the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down.” These unclean spirits are inside human beings, people, who fall down under the control of the demons and cry out. A person in the crowd would just see a person fall before Jesus and cry out, but the Bible shows us the reality behind the physical occurrence.

Mar 3:12(top)
Mar 3:13(top)
Mar 3:14

“whom he named apostles.” The phrase “whom he named apostles” is lacking in the majority of Greek manuscripts, but some important Alexandrian and Caesarean witnesses have it. So the external textual support is actually in favor of the inclusion of the reading. Also, Mark tends to redundancy. So the phrase is more likely original than not, although there is enough textual variation that this phrase could have been added by copyists from Luke 6:13. The inclusion of the phrase in Luke 6:13 is not in doubt, so the phrase does occur in the original text, even if not in Mark.

Mar 3:15(top)
Mar 3:16

“Peter.” Jesus continues the tradition of God and other ancient rulers by changing the names of those whom he rules. He changed Simon’s name to “Peter.” Historically, changing someone’s name might be done to prove your power over someone, but Jesus would not have done it if Peter, James, and John were not sold out to him. Notice that he does not change Judas’ name. Cp. Gen. 17:5 and 17:15; 32:28; 2 Sam. 12:24 and 12:25; Jer. 20:3; Gen. 41:45; 2 Chron. 36:4; 2 Kings 24:17; Daniel 1:7).

Mar 3:17(top)
Mar 3:18(top)
Mar 3:19

“came home.” The Greek phrase is eis oikos, and it does not mean “into a house” or “into the house,” as if it was Peter’s house. The phrases eis oikos and en oikos (Mark 2:1) are standard Greek phrases or idioms equivalent to our “at home.” Whether Jesus was in his own house or “at home” in Capernaum is not clearly described. The Word Biblical Commentary has “went to his house,” and that is a distinct possibility.

[For more information see commentary on Mark 2:1.]

Mar 3:20

“and the crowd came together again, to such an extent that they were not even able to eat bread.” The multitude had come together before, but this time it was to such an extent that Jesus and his apostles could not even eat.

Mar 3:21

“when his family heard it.” The Greek is idiomatic: literally, “those who were beside him,” but that is an idiom that generally refers to friends, family, or associates, and here the context favors Jesus’ family (cp. Mark 3:31). The Greek is para (#3844 παρά), a preposition usually meaning “beside.” Thus the book of Mark is vague here, saying only that these people were those who were beside him. This is a case when we have to rely on other parallel records to give the details, and we learn what happened from the scope of Scripture. Matthew 12:46 and Luke 8:19 let us know that this group of people is his mother and brothers. At this point, Jesus’ brothers did not believe in him (John 7:5) and thought he was out of his mind. It is not clear what Mary thought. Given the way Jesus said, “Who is my mother” (Matt. 12:48), it is possible and perhaps even likely that, although Mary knew Jesus was the Messiah, she was confused about him and thought that he had somehow gotten away from what he was supposed to do as Messiah. The common teaching of the day about the Messiah was wrong, for example, that he would never die. It is also possible, however, that with her husband dead she was not able to stand against her sons who would have been running the family at the time.

This record of Jesus’ family coming to take charge of him is a clear indication that Jesus’ stepfather, Joseph, was dead, otherwise, he would have been leading the group. That means Joseph died between the time Jesus was 12 (Luke 2:42) and the time he started his ministry. He had worked with his father, the builder, and had become a builder himself (Mark 6:3). This group “set out” to take him. They arrive in verse 31.

“to seize him.” In the honor-shame society of the ancient Near East, if a family member was behaving in such a way that the family thought he or she was bringing shame to the family, members of the family would seize the offending person and take physical charge of him. Women were sometimes killed for dishonoring the family, and this is still known today as “honor killing.” Jesus was in a precarious situation if his family had won the crowd, but as it turned out (and we are not told exactly how this occurred) his family left without taking him with them.

Mar 3:22

“Beelzebul. The Greek is Beelzeboul (#954 Βεελζεβούλ), which gets put into English as “Beelzebul.” He is called the “prince of demons” in Luke 11:15. “Beelzeboul” is “lord of the dunghill.” This comes from the Hebrew zebul (dung, a dunghill).

[For more on the name Beelzebul and other names of the Slanderer (the Devil), see Appendix 14: “Names of the Devil.”]

The versions differ as to whether this is one statement by the scribes, or two statements. The Greek could go either way, but it seems like the people who were accusing Jesus of having Beelzebul also said that was how Jesus was casting out demons.

“the ruler of the demons.” This phrase is used in part to describe Beelzebul, in the first part of the verse, so from it, one thing we know is that the Jews were considering Beelzebul to be the ruler of the demons or to us, another name for the Slanderer (Devil). The Greek word translated “ruler” is archon (#758 ἄρχων), which is from archē, “first,” and it means the one who is first, thus the “ruler, commander, chief,” etc.

[For more on the names of the Devil, see Appendix 14: “Names of the Devil.”]

Mar 3:23

“the Adversary.” The Greek word for Adversary is Satanas (#4567 Σατανᾶς), which has been transliterated into “Satan” in most versions. This causes the meaning of the word, which is important, to be lost.

[For more information on it, see commentary on Mark 1:13. For information on the names of the Devil, see Appendix 14: “Names of the Devil.”]

Mar 3:24(top)
Mar 3:25(top)
Mar 3:26

“the Adversary.” The Greek word for Adversary is Satanas (#4567 Σατανᾶς), which has been transliterated into “Satan” in most versions. This causes the meaning of the word, which is important, to be lost.

[For more information on it, see commentary on Mark 1:13. For information on the names of the Devil, see Appendix 14: “Names of the Devil.”]

Mar 3:27

“ties up.” The word “ties up” (deō) was a common word for bind, “tie up,” and one of its uses was “to describe the ‘binding’ power of curses.”a The context is the casting out of demons (v. 28), so the “binding” in this verse refers to binding a demon and making it powerless by the power of God. See commentary on Matthew 12:29.

Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament.
Mar 3:28

“people’s sins.” The text is literally, “sins of the sons of men,” but “sons of men” is an idiom for people and can be unclear in English because some people are not familiar with the idiom.

“and whatever defaming words they speak.” The literal is “whatever defaming words they speak defamingly.” Greek noun blasphēmia (#988 βλασφημία) and the verb blasphēmeō (#987 βλασφημέω) are transliterated (not translated) from the Greek into English as “blasphemy.” In English, “blasphemy” is only used in reference to God. However, in Greek, blasphēmeō and blasphēmia (the noun) did not have to refer to God or a god, although they could, but were common words that were used of someone speaking against another. The primary meanings were showing disrespect to a person or deity, and/or harming his, her, or its reputation. The two uses of “defame” in this verse inflected differently is the figure of speech polyptoton.a

[For more on blasphēmeō, see commentary on Matt. 9:3.]

[See figure of speech “polyptoton.”]

See Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, 267.
Mar 3:29

“defames.” See commentary on Mark 3:28.

“the Holy Spirit.” “The Holy Spirit” is the name for God that emphasizes His power in operation and His special holiness. God is called “the Holy Spirit” in a number of verses in the NT, including Matthew 1:20; 12:32; and Hebrews 9:8.

[For more information on the uses of “Holy Spirit”, see Appendix 6: “Usages of ‘Spirit.’”]

“will never be forgiven.” For more information on the “unforgivable sin,” see commentary on Matthew 12:31.

“an everlasting sin.” That is, a sin that will not be forgiven but will have everlasting consequences.

Mar 3:30(top)
Mar 3:31

“arrived.” They started out in verse 21.

Mar 3:32

“Look!” The Greek word is idou (#2400 ἰδού), and it is used to get our attention. See commentary on Matthew 1:20.

“looking for you.” The Greek is forceful, “seeking you.”

Mar 3:33(top)
Mar 3:34(top)
Mar 3:35(top)

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