Mark Chapter 8  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Mark 8
Mar 8:1

“there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat.” The record of the feeding of the 4,000 is in Matthew 15:29-39 and Mark 8:1-9. Mark 7:31 tells us that when Jesus left the area of Tyre and Sidon he traveled to the area of the Decapolis, which was mostly northeast, east, and southeast of the Sea of Galilee and a Gentile area. So Jesus healed and blessed the Gentiles as he fulfilled the prophecy of being a light to the Gentiles (Isa. 42:6; 49:6).

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Mar 8:8

“baskets.” The Greek word simply means “baskets.” Although some English translations say “large baskets,” the size of the baskets is not indicated by the Greek word, and it is unlikely that Jesus and the disciples had “large baskets” handy, whereas it is very likely that people who came to hear Jesus, or even his disciples, might have brought some smaller baskets with provisions for travel and such.

Mar 8:9

“Now about four thousand men were there…” Matthew 15:38 clarifies that 4,000 men were there and there were also women and children, so actually, many more than just 4,000 were fed. This is the shorter reading represented in the Nestle-Aland Greek text, 28th edition, the longer reading, which is not likely original, is “Now those who had eaten were about 4,000 men.”

Mar 8:10

“Dalmanutha.” See commentary on Matthew 15:39.

Mar 8:11

“And the Pharisees came out.” This record is also in Matthew 16:1-4. The Pharisees were accompanied by the Sadducees (Matt. 16:1). The Bible says that everyone who lives a godly life will suffer persecution. These religious zealots did not wait for Jesus even to come to where they were, but came out to him to argue with him and defend their religious turf.

Mar 8:12

“he sighed deeply in his spirit.” The word “spirit” is sometimes used to express an innermost part of a person or, more often in the case of God, when God is acting. In this case, Jesus’ “spirit” is simply a way of saying “sighed deeply within himself.” Some English versions try to make the English more understandable by translating the idiomatic use of “spirit” into more common English. Thus, the CJB says, “With a sigh that came straight from his heart.” The NIV simply says, “He sighed deeply,” and the NJB says “with a profound sigh.” The CEB tries to pick up some of the motion usually associated with the word “spirit” and says, “with an impatient sigh.”

The Pharisees had come to Jesus to test him and to ask him to do a spectacular sign. We can see how Jesus would have been frustrated and impatient with them, because he had done so many signs and miracles in the Galilee (he had just fed over 4,000 people with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish not too many miles away). Nevertheless, he was still hopeful he might reach some of them, along with the people he had not yet convinced of who he was (and he almost certainly would have been surrounded by people who were watching him closely). We can see why he would sigh deeply out of a mixture of frustration and hope, and then say that “no sign” would be given to them.

Mark’s record of this event gives us an important insight, because the Gospel of Matthew records the same event but records Jesus as saying that no sign will be given to them except the sign of the prophet Jonah (Matt. 16:4; Jesus also said that in a different context in Matt. 12:39). The fact that Matthew and Mark differ in exactly what Jesus said is profound, because what Jesus actually said was almost certainly recorded in Matthew, while what Jesus effectively said to the Pharisees, given the fact that no sign he ever did convinced them of who he was, was that “no sign” would be given to them. Thus, there was a sign for them, the sign of the prophet Jonah, but “no sign” was given to them that they accepted as a genuine sign, including his being raised from the dead.

“no sign will be given to this generation.” The Greek is more literally, “If a sign were to be given to this generation….” If Jesus was speaking Greek, this would be an anacoluthon, an unfinished sentence that is filled in in the minds of the speaker or hearer. However, there is evidence that it was a Semitic idiom that was basically a denial, so the translation “no sign will be given” is warranted.

Mar 8:13(top)
Mar 8:14

“And they had forgotten to bring bread.” When Jesus and the apostles landed on the east side of the lake the apostles discovered they had forgotten to take food with them. Getting bread on the populated west and northwest side of the lake would have been easy, but not easy on the more deserted east side. So the apostles were concerned about forgetting food and thus misunderstood Jesus when he said to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herod” (Matt. 16:6; Mark 8:15).

“one loaf.” A “loaf” of the flatbread of the Bible was quite like a pancake, so only one loaf of bread would be like having one pancake for the twelve apostles and Jesus. The only thing the disciples had in the boat was one “loaf” of bread.

Mar 8:15

“of the Pharisees.” The Gospel of Matthew adds the Sadducees as well (Matt. 16:6); they had different doctrines but both were erroneous.

“the leaven of Herod.” There are various opinions about the meaning of the leaven of Herod, and there may be an element of truth in all of them, because Jesus was warning the apostles about things that would make their ministry ineffective or even against God. Both the Pharisees and Herod wanted “proof” (a sign) that Jesus was who he said he was, and both refused to believe the evidence that was right before their eyes. Also, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herod all doubted who Jesus was and spoke lies about him (Herod, for example, said that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead). So each party failed to understand the ministry of Jesus or take the man and his ministry at face value as being from God. It is also interesting that Matthew says “Pharisees and Sadducees,” while Mark says “Pharisees and Herod.” One of Herod’s wives was Mariamne, the daughter of Simon who once was the High Priest and was a Sadducee, so the family of Herod was connected with the Sadducees by marriage.

Mar 8:16

“with one another that they did not have any bread.” Some Greek manuscripts read, “with one another, ‘we have no bread.’” That reading is somewhat closer to Matthew, but not identical to it. In any case, the difference makes no impact on the understanding of the event.

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Mar 8:22

“Bethsaida.” That is, Bethsaida Julius, on the eastern side of the lake (the Sea of Galilee). It was not on the shore of the lake, showing that Jesus was still seeking to go to many places around the Galilee and spread the Good News. Philip the tetrarch had enlarged the village of Bethsaida Julius and named it after the daughter of Augustus Caesar. Bethsaida had always been a village even after it was enlarged. Josephus still refers to it as a village, and not a true city.a The fact that Bethsaida has always been a “village” and had only recently been enlarged explains why Mark calls it a “village.”

Josephus, Antiquities, XVIII, ii. 1.
Mar 8:23(top)
Mar 8:24

“And regaining his sight.” The participle here in Mark 8:24 is translated as “regaining his sight.” The translation is explained in the text note of the NET Bible: “The verb anablepō, though normally meaning ‘look up,’ when used in conjunction with blindness means ‘regain sight.’” (See the translations in the NET; NJB.)a

Also see Robert A. Guelich, Mark 1-8:26 [WBC], 428.
Mar 8:25

“Then he laid his hands on his eyes again.” This record of the healing of the blind man outside of Bethsaida is only in Mark. It seems unusual that it would only be recorded in Mark since it is the only healing or miracle in the Gospels in which Jesus laid hands on anyone twice in order for them to be healed, and the reason that Jesus did that is not explained in the text.

Mar 8:26

“Do not even enter into the village.” The Bible does not tell us why Jesus said this. Blindness did not make a person unclean, so that could not have been a reason. It seems therefore that the reason had to be personal; that the man himself had to have time to fully reflect on what had happened to him and not get swept away by an emotional crowd. Jesus’ healings were all personal, there is no set pattern to them. If this man needed time to fully appreciate what had happened to him, and also make plans for the future, Jesus would have wanted the man to make sure to take that time, and of course, rejoice with his own family.

Being able to see again would have given this man opportunities he had not had before, and it is certainly likely that loads of people would have had “good ideas” for him, but they were ideas that he and his family needed to work out without everyone else’s opinion.

Mar 8:27

“the villages of Caesarea Philippi.” The “villages of Caesarea Philippi” were the little villages around the major town of Caesarea Philippi.

Mar 8:28

“And they said to him.” The literal text is, “And they said to him, saying,” which is idiomatic and means “they said to him.”

“Elijah.” For information on why the people thought that Elijah would come, and why John the Baptist was called “Elijah,” see commentary on Matthew 17:10.

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Mar 8:31

“the Son of Man must suffer many things.” Now that the disciples know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Matt. 16:13-17; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21), Jesus begins to tell them that he must suffer, die, and be raised from the dead. In spite of his clear teaching about it, however, they did not understand what he meant, and Peter even tried to stop Jesus from voicing it.

[For more on Jesus’ clear teaching that he would suffer and die, see commentary on Luke 18:34.]

“and after three days rise from the dead.” The words “from the dead” are added for clarity. Jesus would be killed and rise after three days, “rise,” which would have to mean rise from the dead. This teaching of Jesus was very important and is repeated in Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31, and Luke 9:22.

Mar 8:32

“And he was speaking about this matter plainly.” This statement is only in Mark, but it makes the important point that when Jesus spoke of being killed, he was not speaking in veiled language. Nevertheless, the apostles did not understand what he meant.

“And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.” The record of Peter rebuking Jesus is only in Matthew and Mark.

Mar 8:33

“Get behind me, Adversary.” See commentary on Matthew 16:23.

“have in mind.” The Greek phronein means to have in mind something that sways the thinking.a

Cp. Lenski.
Mar 8:34

“And calling the crowd to himself.” This record is in Matthew 16:24-28; Mark 8:34-9:1; and Luke 9:23-27. Matthew says Jesus is speaking with his disciples, which was the major intent of what he was saying, however, Mark and Luke point out that the multitude was there also and was listening to this part of what he was teaching. What Jesus taught about him being the Messiah and suffering and dying was only taught to the disciples, which is why for this teaching he had to call the multitude to him.

“he must.” In this context, the Greek imperative verb is best translated “he must,” not “let him” (see commentary on Matt. 16:24).

“take up his cross.” The follower of Christ must be willing to suffer for Christ.

[For more on the meaning of “take up his cross,” see commentary on Matt. 16:24.]

“he must deny himself and must take up his cross, and then follow me.” The first two things, denying oneself and taking one’s cross are aorist imperatives, while the “follow me” is a present imperative. So to be a true follower of Jesus Christ one must deny themself and take up their cross and then they are qualified to genuinely follow Jesus.

Mar 8:35

“life” (2x). The Greek word 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.

[See commentary on Matt. 16:25. For a more complete explanation of psuchē, “soul,” see Appendix 7: “Usages of ‘Soul.’”]

Mar 8:36

“life.” The Greek word is psuchē, as in verse 35. It is used twice in verse 35 of the life of the body, and it is expanded in this verse to be life in general, both here and the hereafter, which is why many versions translate it “life” in verse 35 but “soul” in verse 36 and 37. We felt it was better to translate the word the same way in Mark 8:35, 36, and 8:37 and point out that “life” can be just our physical life or our physical and everlasting life

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

Mar 8:37

“life.” The Greek word is psuchē, as in verse 35 and 36. See commentary on Mark 8:36.

Mar 8:38(top)

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