Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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MARK - Chapter 1

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Mark 1

Supplemental Commentary:

Note.  Only those words and passages which have no parallel in the First Gospel are commented upon here.  For the rest the reader should consult the Commentary on the parallel passages in Matthew.


1.  Preparation for the Public Ministry  1, 1-13

1, 1-8:  John the Baptist.  V.1 is generally taken as the title of this Book.  But many interpreters, following Origen and Basil, consider 2 f as a parenthesis and join 1 with 4 despite the grammatical difficulty in getting the sense, "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the preaching of John in the desert."  The Gospel of Jesus Christ here means "the good news concerning Jesus Christ."  The Son of God: see note to text.  These words are wrongly omitted here in some critical editions on the authority of a few ancient manuscripts; cf. Lagrange ad loc.    2-8.  Parallels in Matt. 3, 1-6.11 and Luke 3, 2b-4.16.  The first part of this quotation (2) is from Malachias but Mark refers all these words to Isaias, the better known prophet.  The Second Gospel alone cites Mal. 3, 1 in connection with the Evangelists' account of the activity of the Baptist, but in Matt. 11, 10, and Luke 7, 27 Christ Himself quotes these words in reference to His Precursor.

1, 9-11:  The Baptism of Jesus.  Parallels in Matt. 3, 13.16 f and Luke 3, 21 f.  The heavens opened: the Greek verb in Mark is different from that used in Matthew and Luke; here literally, "split open, rent asunder."  Perhaps the sky had been completely overcast with clouds which now suddenly parted.

1, 12-13:  The Temptation.  Parallels in Matt. 4, 1.11b and Luke 4, 1 f.  Mark does not mention the three particular temptations, but he alone speaks of Christ being with the wild beasts.  This item is mentioned in order to show what a desolate region Jesus was then in.  The words and forty nights were inserted here by an early copyist from the First Gospel.

2.  Inauguration of the Ministry in Galilee  1, 14 -- 3, 19

1, 14-15:  In Galilee.  Parallels in Matt. 4, 12.17 and Luke 4, 14a; cf. also John 4, 1-3.

1, 16-22:  The First Disciples Called.  Parallel in Matt. 4, 18-22; cf. also Luke 5, 1-11.  The only item peculiar to Mark is that Zebedee was also assisted by hired men.    21.  Jesus teaches at Capharnaum.  Parallel in Luke 4, 31; cf. also Matt. 4, 13 and John 2, 12.    22.  Parallels in Matt. 7, 28 f and Luke 4, 32.  Astonished is a favorite word of Mark; the same Greek word occurs in 6, 2; 7, 37; 10, 26; 11, 18.

1, 23-28:  The Cure of a Demoniac.  Parallel in Luke 4, 33-37.    24.  Literally, "What is to us and to thee"; the same idiomatic phrase commonly expressing dissent occurs also in 5, 7; Matt. 8, 29; John 2, 4 (which see); and often in the Old Testament.  The Holy One of God: the demon recognized, not indeed the divinity of Christ, but His special relationship to God and perhaps also His Messiasship.    25.  Hold thy peace: literally, "Be muzzled."  For the reasons why Jesus did not wish to be recognized as the Messias so early in His ministry, see Commentary on Matt. 8, 4.    26.  Convulsing him: this physical violence was without permanent effect, for the devil "went out of him without harming him at all" (Luke).

1, 29-31:  Peter's Mother-in-law.  Parallels in Matt. 8, 14 f, and Luke 4, 38.

1, 32-39:  Other Miracles.    32-34.  Parallels in Matt. 8, 16 and Luke 4, 40 f.  Mark alone adds the graphic touch that the whole town had gathered together at the door, which, however, need not be taken too literally.    35-39.  Jesus preaches and works cures in the synagogues of Galilee.  Parallels in Matt. 4, 23 and Luke 4, 42-44.  Mark alone speaks of Jesus praying on this occasion and of Simon finding Him; note the Petrine touch.

1, 40-45:  A Leper.  Parallels in Matt. 8, 1-4 and Luke 5, 12-16.    45.  Mark alone records the fact that this leper did not obey Christ's injunction to keep the miracle a secret.  The cured man probably thought that Jesus desired the secrecy merely out of humility.

Confraternity Bible:

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  2* As it is written in Isaias the prophet,

John the Baptist 
"Behold, I send my messenger before thee, who shall prepare thy way,

3* The voice of one crying in the desert, 'Make ready the way of the Lord, make straight his paths,'"
4 there came John in the desert, baptizing and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  5 And all the country of Judea went out to him, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  6 And John was clothed in camel's hair, with a leathern girdle about his loins, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  And he preached, saying, 7 "One mightier than I is coming after me, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.  8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

The Baptism of Jesus  9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  10 And immediately on coming up from the water he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit, as a dove, descending and remaining upon him.  11 And there came a voice from the heavens, "Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased."

The Temptation  12 And immediately the Spirit drove him forth into the desert.  13 And he was in the desert forty days and forty nights, being tempted the while by Satan, and was with the wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

In Galilee  14 And after John had been delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the gospel."

The First Disciples  16 And passing along by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew, casting their nets into the sea (for they were fishermen).  17 And Jesus said to them, "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."  18 And at once they left the nets, and followed him.  19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; they also were in their boat mending the nets.  20 Immediately he called them.  And they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

21 And they entered Capharnaum.  And immediately on the Sabbath he went into the synagogue and began to teach them.  22* And they were astonished at his teaching; for he was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes.

The Cure of a Demoniac  23 Now in their synagogue there was a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, 24 saying, "What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth?  Hast thou come to destroy us?  I know who thou art, the Holy One of God."  25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Hold thy peace, and go out of the man."  26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, went out of him.  27 And they were all amazed, so that they inquired among themselves, saying, "What is this?  What new doctrine is this?  For with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him."  28 And rumor concerning him went forth immediately into all the region round about Galilee.

Peter's Mother-in-law  29 And as soon as they came out of the synagogue, they, with James and John, came to the house of Simon and Andrew.  30 Now Simon's mother-in-law was keeping her bed sick with a fever, and they immediately told him about her.  31 And drawing near, he took her by the hand and raised her up; and the fever left her at once, and she began to wait on them.

Other Miracles  32 Now when it was evening, and the sun had set, they brought to him all who were ill and who were possessed.  33 And the whole town had gathered together at the door.  34 And he cured many who were afflicted with various diseases, and cast out many devils; and he did not permit them to speak, because they knew him.

35 And rising up long before daybreak, he went out and departed into a desert place, and there he prayed.  36 And Simon, and those who were with him, followed him.  37 And they found him and said to him, "They are all seeking thee."  38 And he said to them, "Let us go into the neighboring villages and towns, that there also I may preach.  For this is why I have come."  39 And he was preaching in their synagogues, and throughout all Galilee, and casting out devils.

A Leper  40 And a leper came to him, entreating him; and kneeling down he said, "If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean."  41 And Jesus, having compassion on him, stretched forth his hand and touched him, and said, "I will; be thou made clean."  42 And when he had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.  43 Then he strictly charged him, and immediately drove him away.  44* And he said to him, "See thou tell no one; but go, show thyself to the high priest, and offer for thy purification the things that Moses commanded, for a witness to them."  45 But he went out, and began to publish and to spread abroad the fact, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but remained outside in desert places.  And they kept coming to him from every direction.


2: Mal. 3, 1.

3: Isa. 40, 3.

22: Unlike the Pharisees, who quoted and explained the Law and oral tradition, Jesus taught with the authority of one who possessed the truth independently of human masters.

44: The Mosaic Law prescribed this showing to the priest and also an offering.