Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

Confraternity - Home | Free Downloads | Transcriber's Notes | Abbreviations | Contact Us

MARK - Chapter 12

          < Previous Chapter                    -----                    Next Chapter >         

Mark 12

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.


6.  Last Ministry in Jerusalem  11-13 (continued)

12, 1-12:  Parable of the Vine-dressers.  Parallels in Matt. 21, 33-46 and Luke 20, 9-19.

12, 13-17:  Tribute to Caesar.  Parallels in Matt. 22, 15-22 and Luke 20, 20-26.

12, 18-27:  The Sadducees and the Resurrection.  Parallels in Matt. 22, 23-33 and Luke 20, 27-39.    26.  About the bush: the sense of the Greek is "in the passage called 'The Bush'"; at the time of Christ there were no chapter or verse divisions in the Books of the Bible, or at least they were not numbered; but the various sections of each Book bore subtitles, usually taken from some prominent feature of that section, and these subtitles were then used as we now use chapter and verse number for the purpose of indicating more accurately a citation from the Scriptures.  In the Third Gospel this same Greek expression is rendered more accurately in our English text.

12, 28-34:  The Great Commandment.  Parallel in Matt. 22, 34-40; cf. also Luke 10, 25-28.    29 f.  Mark gives the quotation from Deut. 6, 4 f in its longest form, including the introductory phrase; these words have been used by the Jews from ancient times as a morning and evening prayer, which is known from its first word ("Hear") as the Shema.    32-34.  Peculiar to Mark.  Matthew evidently considered the long repetition unnecessary.  A greater thing than all holocausts and sacrifices: cf. 1 Kgs. 15, 22; Osee 6, 6; Matt. 9, 13; 12, 7.  Not far from the kingdom of God: this Scribe had a correct concept of true religion and would make a good Christian.  And no one after that, etc.: see Commentary on Matt. 22, 46.

12, 35-37:  The Son of David.  Parallels in Matt. 22, 41-46 and Luke 20, 41-44.    37.  Mark alone notes here the large popular following that Jesus still had in Jerusalem.

12, 38-40:  Hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees.  Parallel in Luke 20, 46 f.  In Matthew this discourse of Christ makes up the whole of chapter 23, yet despite Mark's brevity, one of his verses (40) is not found in the original text of the First Gospel (cf. Matt. 23, 14).    38 f.  Cf. Matt. 23, 5 ff.  From the Greek word which is here translated as long robes our word "stole" is derived; it signified "a festive garment"; hence the emphasis here is not on the length of these robes but on their unusual character which attracted attention and pleased the Scribes' vanity.    40.  Those who shall receive a heavier sentence are not all the Scribes in general but those in particular who devour the houses of widows: this sin is worse than that of vanity.  To devour the houses of widows certainly means "to steal their property."  But it is not quite clear how the Scribes did this.  Some commentators take making pretense of long prayers as expressing the means used by the Scribe; the widows would then be those pious women who fall victims to the pietistic pretenses of the Scribes and voluntarily donate money to them in order to have the benefit of their prayers.  Other commentators consider the Scribes as acting in their capacity of judges and unjustly defrauding the widows and orphans of their property, while they seek to cover their wickedness by seeming to be very pious in their long public prayers; since this is a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance, Christ says that a heavier penalty is due to it.

12, 41-44:  The Widow's Mite.  Parallel in Luke 21, 1-4.    42.  The lepton, here translated mite, was the smallest copper coin in circulation.  Since the lepton was not used in the West, Mark explains its value for his Roman readers by stating that it was worth only half as much as the Roman quadrans, the smallest coin used in the West.    43 f.  Christ points out the important truth that the value of an offering in God's sight does not depend upon its intrinsic value but upon the relative amount of sacrifice that the offering costs the one who makes it.  It is not the gift itself but the generosity behind the gift that is pleasing to God.

Confraternity Bible:

Parable of the Vine-dressers  1* And he began to speak to them in parables.  "A man planted a vineyard, and put a hedge about it, and dug a wine vat, and built a tower; then he let it out to vine-dressers, and went abroad.  2* And at the proper time he sent a servant to the vine-dressers to receive from the vine-dressers some of the fruit of the vineyard; 3* but they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed.  4* And again he sent another servant to them; but this one they wounded in the head and treated shamefully.  5* And again he sent another, and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.  6* Now he still had one left, a beloved son; and him he sent to them last of all, saying, 'They will respect my son.'

7* "But the vine-dressers said to one another, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.'  8* So they seized him and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.  9* What therefore will the owner of the vineyard do?  He will come and destroy the vine-dressers, and will give the vineyard to others.  10* And have you not read this Scripture:
'The stone which the builders rejected, has become the corner stone; 

11* By the Lord this has been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes.'?" 
12* And they sought to lay hands on him, but they feared the crowd; for they knew that he had aimed this parable at them.  And leaving him, they went their way.

Tribute to Caesar  13 And they sent to him certain of the Pharisees and Herodians, that they might trap him in his talk.  14 And they came and said to him, "Master, we know that thou are truthful, and that thou carest naught for any man; for thou dost not regard the person of men, but dost teach the way of God in truth.  Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar; or shall we not give it?"  15 But knowing their craftiness, he said to them, "Why do you test me?  Bring me a denarius to look at."  16 So they brought one.  Then he said to them, "Whose are this image and the inscription?"  They said to him, "Caesar's."  17 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Render, therefore, to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."  And they marvelled at him.

The Sadducees and the Resurrection  18 And there came to him Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, and they began to question him, saying, 19 "Master, Moses has written for us that 'if a man's brother die, leaving a wife but no children, his brother shall take the widow and raise up issue to his brother.'  20 Now there were seven brothers.  And the first took a wife, and dying, left no issue.  21 And the second took her, and died, without leaving issue either; and the third likewise.  22 And the seven took her in the same way, and left no issue.  Last of all the woman also died.  23 At the resurrection, therefore, when they rise, of which of them will she be wife?  For the seven had her as wife."

24 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Is not this why you err---because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?  25 For when they rise from the dead, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven.  26*  But as to the dead rising, have you not read in the book of Moses about the Bush, how God spoke to him, saying,
'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? 
27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.  You are therefore entirely wrong."

The Great Commandment  28 And one of the Scribes came forward who had heard them disputing together; and seeing that he had answered them well, he asked him which was the first commandment of all.  29* But Jesus answered him, "The first commandment of all is,
'Hear, O Israel!  The Lord our God is one God;

30* And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength.'  
This is the first commandment.  31* And the second is like it,
'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'  
There is no other commandment greater than these."  32 And the Scribe said to him, "Well answered, Master, thou hast said truly that he is one and that there is no other besides him; 33 and that he should be loved with the whole heart, and with the whole understanding, and with the whole soul, and with one's whole strength; and that to love one's neighbor as oneself is a greater thing than all holocausts and sacrifices."  34 And Jesus, seeing that he had answered wisely, said to him, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God."  And no one after that ventured to ask him questions.

The Son of David  35 And while Jesus was teaching in the temple, he addressed them, saying, "How do the Scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David?  36* For David himself says, by the Holy Spirit,
'The Lord said to my Lord:

Sit thou at my right hand, till I make thy enemies thy footstool.' 
37 David himself, therefore, calls him 'Lord'; how, then, is he his son?"  And the mass of the common people liked to hear him.

Hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees  38 And in the course of his teaching he said to them, "Beware of the Scribes, who like to walk about in long robes, and to be greeted in the market place, 39 and to have the front seats in the synagogues and the first places at suppers; 40 who devour the houses of the widows, making pretense of long prayers.  These shall receive a heavier sentence."

The Widow's Mite  41 And Jesus sat down opposite the treasury, and observed how the crowd were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.  42 And there came one poor widow, and she put it two mites, which make a quadrans.  43 And he called his disciples together, and said to them, "Amen I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who have been putting money into the treasury.  44 For they all have put in out of their abundance; but she out of her want has put in all that she had---all that she had to live on."


1-12: God is the landowner of the parable.  He had sent His prophets, and lastly His Son, to the vine-dressers, the Jews. --- 10: Ps. 117, 22 f; Isa. 28, 16.

26: Ex. 3, 6.

29-30: Deut. 6, 4 f.

31: Lev. 19, 18.

36: Ps. 109, 1.