Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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MARK - Chapter 6

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Mark 6

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.


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

6, 1-6a:  Jesus at Nazareth.  Parallel in Matt. 13, 53-58 and partial parallel in Luke 4, 16-30.    3.  Is not this the carpenter?  This is the only place in the Gospels from which we learn that Jesus followed the trade of His foster-father.  The son of Mary implies that Joseph was already dead.  For these relatives of Jesus see Commentary on Matt. 12, 46.

6, 6b-13:  The Mission of the Apostles.  Parallels in Matt. 9, 35a; 10, and Luke 9, 1-6; cf. also Luke 10, 4.10 f.    7.  Mark alone mentions that the Apostles were sent forth two by two, although Luke says the same thing of the seventy-two disciples.    13.  They anointed many sick people with oil: peculiar to Mark; this anointing was not the sacrament of Extreme Unction but merely a symbolic ceremony insinuating, however, the sacrament.

6, 14-29:  Death of the Baptist.    14-16.  Herod thinks that Jesus is John the Baptist come back to life.  Parallels in Matt. 14, 1 f and Luke 9, 7-9.    17-20.  The imprisonment of John.  Parallels in Matt. 14, 3-5 and Luke 3, 19 f.    19.  Laid snares for him: the Greek means "had it in for him."    20.  He did many things: thus the Latin with many Greek manuscripts; but this is hardly intelligible in the context; the best Greek manuscripts read, "He was much disturbed."    21-29.  The Baptist is beheaded at Herod's birthday-party.  Parallel in Matt. 14, 6-12.    21.  A favorable day: i.e., a day which gave Herodias her opportunity.  Officials, tribunes and chief men of Galilee: in modern terms, "the nobility, army officers and the local aristocracy."

6, 30-33:  Return of the Disciples.  Parallels in Matt. 14, 13 and Luke 9, 10-11a.

6, 34-44:  Jesus Feeds Five Thousand.  Parallels in Matt. 14, 14-21; Luke 9, 11b-17; and John 6, 1-15.    34.  Because they were like sheep without a shepherd: peculiar to Mark in this context, but cf. Matt. 9, 36.    37.  Mark, in his fondness for details, is the only one of the Synoptics to mention the Apostles' estimate of the amount of bread required, but the Fourth Gospel agrees with the Second on this point.    39 f.  Mark's original expressions are much more picturesque.  The first word for groups (39) signifies properly "groups that eat and drink together"; the second word for groups (40) means "garden-plots."  The Greek is literally, "And he directed them to make all the people recline by banquet-parties and banquet-parties upon the green grass.  And they lay down like flower-beds by flower-beds, some of a hundred each and some of fifty each."

6, 45-52:  Jesus Walks on the Water.  Parallels in Matt. 14, 22-27.32 f and John 6, 16-21.    48.  And he would have passed by them: literally, "And he was willing to pass by them," i.e., He acted as if He intended to pass by them.    50.  For they all saw him: hence they could eliminate the possibility that one or the other was having a merely subjective illusion.    51 f.  Matt. 14, 33 records their cry of astonishment.  Mark explains here why they were so surprised and astonished: because they had not understood about the loaves, i.e., because they had not drawn the proper conclusion from the miraculous multiplication of the loaves regarding the nature of Jesus.  Their heart was blinded: their spiritual insight had been dull; see Commentary on 3, 5.

6, 53-56:  Other Miracles.  Parallel in Matt. 14, 34-36.

Confraternity Bible:

Jesus at Nazareth  1 And leaving that place, he went into his own country, and his disciples followed him.  2 And when the Sabbath had come, he began to teach in the synagogue.  And many, when they heard him, were astonished at his doctrine, saying, "Where did he get all this?" and, "What is this wisdom that is given to him?" and, "What mean such miracles wrought by his hands?  3* Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, Joseph, Jude, and Simon?  And are not also his sisters here with us?"  And they took offense at him.  4 And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, and among his own kindred, and in his own house."  5 And he could not work any miracle there, beyond curing a few sick people by laying his hands upon them.  6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief.

The Mission of the Apostles  And he made a circuit of the villages, teaching.  7 And he summoned the Twelve and began to send them forth two by two; and he gave them power over the unclean spirits.  8* And he instructed them to take nothing for their journey, but a staff only---no wallet, no bread, no money in their girdle; 9 but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics.  10 And he said to them, "Wherever you enter into a house, stay there until you leave the place.  11 And whoever does not receive you, or listen to you---go forth from there, and shake off the dust from your feet for a witness against them."  12 And going forth, they preached that men should repent, 13 and they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many sick people, and healed them.

Death of the Baptist  14* And King Herod heard of him for his name had become well known; and he kept saying, "John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are working through him."  15 But others were saying, "It is Elias."  But others were saying, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets."  16 But when Herod heard of this, he said, "It is John whom I beheaded; he has risen from the dead."

17 For Herod himself had sent and taken John, and bound him in prison, because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, whom he had married.  18 For John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife."  19 But Herodias laid snares for him, and would have liked to put him to death, but she could not.  20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and protected him; and when he heard him talk, he did many things, and he liked to hear him.

21 And a favorable day came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet to the officials, tribunes and chief men of Galilee.  22 And Herodias' own daughter having come in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests.  And the king said to the girl, "Ask of me what thou willest, and I will give it to thee."  23 And he swore to her, "Whatever thou dost ask, I will give thee, even though it be the half of my kingdom."  24 Then she went out and said to her mother, "What am I to ask for?"  And she said, "The head of John the Baptist."  25 And she came in at once with haste to the king, and asked, saying, "I want thee right away to give me on a dish the head of John the Baptist."  26* And grieved as he was, the king, because of his oath and his guests, was unwilling to displease her.  27 But sending an executioner, he commanded that his head be brought on a dish.  28 Then he beheaded him in prison, and brought his head on a dish, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.  29 His disciples, hearing of it, came and took away his body, and laid it in a tomb.

Return of the Disciples  30 And the apostles came together to meet Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught.  31 And he said to them, "Come apart into a desert place and rest a while."  For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.  32 And they got into the boat and went off to a desert place apart.  33* And many saw them leaving and recognized them; and from all the towns they hurried on foot to the place, and got there ahead of them.

Jesus Feed Five Thousand  34 And when he landed, Jesus saw a large crowd, and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  And he began to teach them many things.  35 Now when the day was far spent, his disciples came, saying, "This is a desert place and the hour is already late; 36 send them away, so that they may go to the hamlets and villages round about and buy themselves food to eat."

37 But he answered and said to them, "You yourselves give them some food."  And they said to him, "Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them to eat?"  38 And he said to them, "How many loaves have you?  Go and see."  When they had found out, they said, "Five, and two fishes."

39 And he ordered them to make all the people recline in groups on the green grass.  40 And they reclined in groups of hundreds and of fifties.  41 And he took the five loaves and the two fishes and, looking up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and the two fishes he divided among them all.  42 And all ate and were satisfied; 43 and they gathered up what was left over, twelve baskets full of fragments, besides what was left over of the fishes.  44 Now those who had eaten were five thousand men.

Jesus Walks on the Water  45 And immediately afterwards he made his disciples get into the boat and cross the sea ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he himself dismissed the crowd.  46 And when he had dismissed them, he went away to the mountain to pray.  47 And when it was late, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land.  48 And seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking upon the sea, and he would have passed by them.  49 But they, seeing him walking upon the sea, thought it was a ghost, and cried out.  50 For they saw him, and were troubled.  Then he immediately spoke to them, and said to them, "Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid."  51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind fell.  And they were utterly beside themselves with astonishment, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was blinded.

Other Miracles  53 And crossing over, they came to the land of Genesareth and moored the boat.  54 And when they had gotten out of the boat, the people at once recognized him; 55 and they hurried through that whole country, and began to bring the sick on their pallets, wherever they heard he was.  56 And wherever he went, into village or hamlet or town, they laid the sick in the market places, and entreated him to let them touch but the tassel of his cloak; and as many as touched him were saved.


3: The term "sister," like "brother," was used in a wide sense.  Cf. note on 3, 31.  The son of Mary: designates the only son of a widow.

8: The Apostles were to go forth without ordinary provisions, relying upon Providence and the hospitality of their countrymen.

14: Jesus' activity had aroused intense speculation as to His identity.

26: Was unwilling to displease her: the Greek text probably means, "would not break faith with her."

33: Recognized them: the words can also mean, "realized where they were going."