Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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MARK - Chapter 3

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Mark 3

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.


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

3, 1-6:  A Man with a Withered Hand.  Parallels in Matt. 12, 9-14 and Luke 6, 6-11.    4.  To omit a good deed that can be done and that should be done, at least from an obligation in charity, is virtually the same as to do evil.    5.  Mark alone mentions Christ's anger on this occasion.  The blindness of their heart: cf. 6, 52; 8, 17; literally, "the callousness of their heart," i.e., moral insensitivity, spiritual stupidity, the failure to perceive true spiritual values.  With the Herodians: cf. Matt. 22, 16.

3, 7-12:  The Mercy of Jesus.  Parallels in Matt. 4, 24 f and Luke 6, 17-19; cf. also Matt. 12, 15 f.  In Matthew and Luke this description of the crowds that followed Jesus serves as an introduction to the Sermon on the Mount, but in Mark the scene is at the shore of the Sea of Galilee.    8.  Idumea: the only place in the New Testament where this region is mentioned.

3, 13-19:  The Choice of the Twelve.  Parallels in Matt. 10, 1-4 and Luke 6, 12-16.    17.  This parenthesis is peculiar to Mark.  Boanerges should really be pronounced "Bwanerges," since it represents in Greek letters the Hebrew or Aramaic phrase "B'ne-regesh."  Sons of Thunder is a Semitism meaning "the Thunderers."  The sons of Zebedee who this epithet from their vehement disposition or from their eloquence.  Some interpreters see a connection between this title and the incident mentioned in Luke 9, 54.  But it is to be noted that the Semitic word regesh, which means "thunder" in Aramaic, is used in Hebrew and Aramaic only in the figurative sense of "uproar, tumult."  Whatever the exact explanation of this title may be, it certainly stands in sharp contradiction with the false picture that is so often drawn of St. John the Apostle, as if he were almost an effeminate character.

3.  Second Period of the Ministry in Galilee and Across Its Lake  3, 20 -- 7, 23

3, 20-30:  Blasphemy of the Scribes.    20 f.  These two verses are peculiar to Mark and their interpretation is very uncertain.  One interpretation is that which is given in our translation and explained in the foot-note.  This explanation presupposes that there is some connection between these verses and 31 ff; but this is not certain.  They went out: from whence?  Hardly from Nazareth, which is not mentioned in the context.  Moreover, his own people is a very dubious translation of the Greek which means literally, "those by Him," i.e., those who were with Him in the house.  Finally, it is to be noted that the Greek word for crowd is masculine, singular; therefore the him and He may just as well be translated as "it," referring to the crowd.  Hence it is possible to translate 21 as follows: "But when they who were with Him (in the house) heard it, (i.e., the enthusiasm of the crowd outside), they went out (of the house) to lay hold of it (the crowd, to keep it in check), for they said, 'It (the crowd) has gone mad.'"  This is the interpretation of the group of ancient manuscripts known as the "Western Family" of manuscripts.    22-30.  Parallels in Matt. 12, 24-29 and Luke 11, 15.17-22; 12, 10.

3, 31-35:  Jesus and His Brethren.  Parallels in Matt. 12, 46-50 and Luke 8, 19-21.

Confraternity Bible:

A Man with a Withered Hand  1 And again he entered the synagogue.  And a man with a withered hand was there.  2 And they were watching him, whether he cured on the Sabbath, that they might accuse him.  3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, "Stand forth in the midst." 4 And he said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good, or to do evil? to save a life, or to destroy it?"  But they kept silence. 5 And looking round upon them with anger, and being grieved at the blindness of their hearts, he said to the man, "Stretch forth thy hand." And he stretched it forth, and his hand was restored.  6 But the Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might do away with him.

The Mercy of Jesus  7 And Jesus with his disciples withdrew to the sea; and there followed him a large crowd from Galilee and Judea, 8 and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond the Jordan.  And those about Tyre and Sidon, a large crowd, hearing what he was doing, came to him.  9 And he told his disciples to have a small boat in readiness for him, because of the crowd, lest they should throng him.  10 For he healed many, so that as many as had ailments were pressing upon him to touch him.  11 And the unclean spirits, when they beheld him, fell down before him and cried out, saying, 12 "Thou art the Son of God."  And he charged them strictly not to make him known.

The Choice of the Twelve  13 And going up a mountain, he called to him men of his own choosing, and they came to him.  14 And he appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them forth to preach.  15 To them he gave power to cure sicknesses and to cast out devils.  16 There were Simon, to whom he gave the name Peter; 17 and James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (these he surnamed Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus, and Simon the Cananean, 19 and Judas Iscariot, he who betrayed him.

Blasphemy of the Scribes  20 And they came to the house, and again a crowd gathered so that they could not so much as take their food.  21* But when his own people had heard it, they went out to lay hold of him, for they said, "He has gone mad."  22 And the Scribes who had come down from Jerusalem said, "He has Beelzebub," and "By the prince of devils he casts out devils."  23 And he called them together, and said to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan?  24 And if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  26 And if Satan has risen up against himself, he is divided, and cannot stand, but is at an end.  27 But no one can enter the strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man.  Then he will plunder his house.

28 "Amen I say to you, that all sins shall be forgiven to the sons of men, and the blasphemies wherewith they may blaspheme; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but will be guilty of an everlasting sin."  30 For they said, "He has an unclean spirit."

Jesus and His Brethren  31* And his mother and his brethren came, and standing outside, they sent to him, calling him.  32 Now a crowd was sitting about him, and they said to him, "Behold, thy mother and thy brethren are outside, seeking thee."  33 And he answered and said to them, "Who are my mother and my brethren?"  34 And looking round on those who were sitting about him, he said, "Behold my mother and my brethren.  35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother."


21: Our Lord's relatives did not yet believe in Him (cf. John 7, 5).  The Blessed Virgin was with them on this occasion, but she had no misconception of His nature and mission.

31: Brethren: relatives of Jesus, not blood brothers.  This wider use of the term was common among the Jews.  Jesus does not disclaim the bonds of physical relationship, but He seizes the opportunity to give a lesson on the greater dignity of spiritual relationship.