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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Mark 14

Verses 1-2


(1, 2) After two days was the feast of the passover.—See Notes on Matthew 26:1-5. Better, was the passover, and the feast of unleavened bread. The latter designation is common to St. Mark and St. Luke, as an explanation intended for Gentile readers. The same fact accounts, perhaps, for the omission by both of the name of Caiaphas as the chief mover in the scheme.

Verses 3-9

(3-9) And being in Bethany.—See Notes on Matthew 26:6-13.

Ointment of spikenard.—The Greek word so translated is, as the various renderings in the margin show, of doubtful import. It is used by St. John (John 12:3) in his account of the same facts.

She brake the box.—As in the “breaking through” the roof in Mark 2:4, the vivid touch that brings the manner of the act distinctly before our eyes is found in St. Mark only. The Greek word implies not so much the breaking of the neck of the costly jar or flask, but the crushing it in its entirety with both her hands.

Verse 4

(4) There were some that had indignation.—Note St. Mark’s limitation of the murmurers to “some,” as an intermediate stage between St. Matthew’s “the disciples” and St. John’s naming “Judas.”

Verse 5

(5) For more than three hundred pence.—The specific mention of the sum, not given by St. Matthew, is one of the few points common to St. Mark and St. John (John 12:5).

Verse 6

(6) She hath wrought a good work on me.—“Good” in the sense of “noble,” as implying the higher form of goodness. The use of the word here is peculiar to St. Mark.

Verse 7

(7) Whensoever ye will ye may do them good.—Peculiar to St. Mark; the other words being given by him in common with St. Matthew and St. John.

Verses 10-11

(10, 11) And Judas Iscariot.—See Notes on Matthew 26:14-15.

Verse 11

(11) They were glad, and promised to give him money.—It may be noted (1) that the mention of the priests being “glad” is in common with St. Luke, and (2) that St. Mark does not name the specific sum which was promised as the price of blood.

Verses 12-21

(12-21) And the first day of unleavened bread.—See Notes on Matthew 26:20-25.

When they killed the passover.—Better, when they used to sacrifice; the Greek tense implying a custom. Here, again, both St. Mark and St. Luke write as explaining the custom for their Gentile readers.

Verse 13

(13) And he sendeth forth two of his disciples.—The number is given by St. Mark; the names, Peter and John, by St. Luke only. The sign of the pitcher of water is common to both Gospels, but not to St. Matthew.

Verse 14

(14) The goodman of the house.—Better, the master. The better MSS. give the reading, “Where is my guest-chamber,” a form which implies discipleship on the part of the owner of the house, even more than that given by St. Matthew. The word translated “guest-chamber” is the same as that which appears in Luke 2:7 as “inn.” It was, in fact, the generic term for a hired lodging.

Verse 15

(15) Furnished and prepared.—The first word implied that it was not a bare, empty chamber, but set out with cushions or divans, on which the guests could recline; the second, that it was specially arranged for the Paschal Supper of that evening.

Verse 18

(18) As they sat.—Better, as they reclined.

Verse 21

(21) Good were it for that man.—St. Mark, it will be noted, omits the fact recorded by St. Matthew, that the last “Is it I?” was uttered by the Traitor.

Verses 22-25

(22-25) As they did eat.—See Notes on Matthew 26:26-29.

Take, eat.—The latter word is wanting in many of the best MSS.

Verse 23

(23) When he had given thanks.—St. Mark agrees with St. Matthew in using the word “blessing” of the bread, and “giving thanks” of the cup. St. Luke uses the latter word of the bread, and implies by the word “likewise” that the form was repeated with the cup.

Verse 24

(24) Which is shed for many.—Better, is being shed, the participle, both here and in St. Matthew, being in the present tense.

Verse 25

(25) Of the fruit of the vine.—Better, of the product. Note the difference between “the kingdom of God” here, and “the kingdom of My Father” in Matthew 26:29.

Verses 26-42

(26-42) And when they had sung an hymn.—See Notes on Matthew 26:30-46.

Verse 30

(30) Before the cock crow twice.—The word “twice” is omitted in many MSS. It agrees, however, with the emphatic mention of the cock crowing a “second time” in Mark 14:72, and with the form of the prediction in the same verse, and may fairly be regarded as the true reading, the omission in some MSS. being accidental.

Verse 31

(31) He spake the more vehemently.—The Greek tense implies frequent and continuous speaking.

Verse 32

(32) While I shall pray.—Literally, till I shall have prayed.

Verse 33

(33) Began to be sore amazed.—Note St. Mark’s use of the stronger word as compared with St. Matthew’s “to be sorrowful.”

Verse 36

(36) And he said, Abba, Father.—The record of the word “Abba” as actually uttered, is peculiar to St. Mark. We, perhaps, find traces of the impression it made on the minds of men in the “Abba, Father” of Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6.

Verse 37

(37) Simon, sleepest thou?—Note that while St. Matthew and St. Luke give the question in the plural, St. Mark reports it in the singular, and joins it with the emphatic utterance of the name of the disciple. His report, too, includes the two questions which appear separately in the other two Gospels.

Verse 41

(41) And he cometh the third time.—We may note St. Mark’s omission of the third repetition of the prayer.

It is enough.—Peculiar to St. Mark, and probably noting the transition from the half-reproachful permission, “Sleep on now, and take your rest,” to the emphatic and, as it were, startled exclamation, “the hour is come.”

Is betrayed.—The tense, as in St. Matthew, is present, “is at this moment being betrayed.”

Verses 43-45

(43-45) And immediately, while he yet spake.—See Notes on Matthew 26:47-50. Note the re-appearance of St. Mark’s characteristic “immediately.” Many of the better MSS. add the distinguishing “Iscariot” to the name of Judas.

Verse 44

(44) Take him.—Better, seize.

Verse 45

(45) Master, master.—Better, Rabbi, Rabbi. All the MSS. give the Hebrew word, and not its Greek equivalent.

Verses 46-50

(46-50) Took him.—Better, as before, seized. See Notes on Matthew 26:51-56.

Verse 48

(48) As against a thief.—Better, as against a robber, the word implying the bolder form of theft.

Verse 49

(49) Ye took me not.—Better, ye seized Me not, or, ye laid no hold on Me.

Verse 51

(51) And there followed him a certain young man.—The remarkable incident that follows is narrated by St. Mark only. It had clearly made a deep impression on the minds of some of the disciples (probably enough, on that of Peter), from whom, directly or indirectly, the report came. Who it was that appeared in this strange fashion we are left to conjecture. Some have supposed that it was St. Mark himself, but for this there is obviously no ground but the fact that this Evangelist alone records it. A careful examination of the facts suggests another conclusion as probable. (1) The man was “young,” and the self-same term is applied to the ruler who had great possessions (Matthew 19:20). (2) He had apparently been sleeping, or, it may be, watching, not far from Gethsemane, with the linen sheet wrapped round him, and had been roused by the approach of the officers and the crowd. This suggests one who lived somewhere on the Mount of Olives, and so far points to Lazarus or Simon of Bethany, as the only two conspicuous disciples in that neighbourhood. (3) He was one who so loved our Lord that he went on following Him when all the disciples forsook Him and fled, and this also was what might be expected from Lazarus. On the supposition suggested in (1), he was now obeying almost literally the command, “Take up thy cross, and follow Me.” (See Notes on Matthew 19:16-22.) (4) He was one whom the officers (the words “the young men” are omitted in the better MSS.) were eager to seize, when they allowed all the disciples to go their way, and this agrees with the command which had been given by the priests, that they should take and kill Lazarus also (John 12:10). (5) As the “linen sheet” or sindôn (see Note on Matthew 27:59) was especially used for the burial of the dead, it is conceivable, on this supposition, that what had been the winding-sheet of the dead Lazarus had been kept and used by him in memory of his resurrection. (6) On the hypothesis thus suggested, the suppression of the name stands on the same footing as that of the name of the sister of Lazarus, who poured the precious ointment on our Lord’s head at Bethany (Matthew 26:7, Mark 14:3), whom the Evangelists must have known, but whom they mention simply as a “woman.” Their lips were sealed as to the family of Bethany until the circumstances, whatever they may have been, that called for silence had passed away. It is obvious that so far as this identity is established it suggests many thoughts of profound interest. What had seemed impossible to men had proved possible with God. He who had gone away sorrowful because he had great possessions, had given freely to the poor (see Notes on Matthew 26:6; Matthew 26:9), and had proved more faithful than the Twelve, and so the last had become the first.

Verses 53-65

(53-65) And they led Jesus away.—See Notes on Matthew 26:57-66.

Verse 54

(54) Sat . . . and warmed himself.—Better, was sitting and warming himself.

With the servants.—Better, with the officers.

At the fire.—Literally, at the light; the word bringing out very vividly the effect of the glare of the charcoal fire on St. Peter’s face,

Verse 56

(56) Their witness agreed not together.—St. Mark gives what St. Matthew only implies as the cause of the failure.

Verse 57

(57) There arose certain.—St. Mark is here less definite than St. Matthew, who, writing for Jews, was apparently anxious to show that the rule which required “two or three witnesses” in support of a criminal charge had barely been complied with.

Verse 58

(58) This temple.—The word here, as in Matthew 26:61 and John 2:19, is that which indicates generally the sanctuary or shrine, and here the “Holy Place” of the Temple.

Made with hands . . . made without hands.—The antithesis is peculiar to St. Mark, but we may, perhaps, trace an echo of it in the “more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands,” of Hebrews 9:11.

Verse 59

(59) Neither so did their witness agree together.—This, again, is peculiar to St. Mark. We are not told in what respects their evidence failed to agree; possibly in details of time and place, possibly in the absence or presence of the words reported in the previous verse.

Verse 61

(61) The Son of the Blessed.—In St. Matthew and St. Luke we have simply “the Son of God;” but the use of “the Blessed” as a name of God in doxologies and other solemn formulæ was a common practice.

Verse 63

(63) Then the high priest rent his clothes.—It is noticeable that St. Mark uses the word for the inner garment, St. Matthew that for the outer.

Verse 64

(64) Guilty of death.—Here, as in Matthew 26:66, the translators follow the old English usage, and connect the word “guilty,” not as we now do, with the crime of which a man is convicted, but with the punishment to which he is liable.

Verse 65

(65) And to cover his face.—It was this (recorded by St. Mark and St. Luke, but not by St. Matthew) which gave point to the taunt “Prophesy.” They blindfolded the Prophet, and then called on Him to use His power of supernatural vision.

The servants did strike him.—Better, as before, the officers. The two forms of outrage, with the clenched fist and with the open palm, are specified by both St. Matthew and St. Mark.

Verse 66

(66) And as Peter was beneath.—See Notes on Matthew 26:69-75.

Verse 67

(67) Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth.—The order of the words varies in the MSS.; but the better ones give the words as spoken with an emphatic scorn, “And thou also wast with the Nazarene, Jesus.”

Verse 68

(68) And he went out into the porch.—The noun is not the same as that used by St. Matthew, but signifies literally “the space before the palace,” i.e., the vestibule. Substantially, of course, it comes to much the same meaning.

Verse 69

(69) A maid.—Better, the maidi.e., the one that had pointed him out before.

Verse 70

(70) And thy speech agreeth thereto.—Singularly enough, the words, which seem so natural, are wanting in many of the best MSS., and may, therefore, possibly have been an interpretative addition, possibly made by St. Mark himself, in what we may call a revised edition of his Gospel.

Verse 72

(72) When he thought thereon.—The Greek word is a somewhat peculiar one, and means literally “throwing at,” or “on.” The English version assumes that it means “casting his mind or thoughts,” just as “to reflect” is “to bend the mind,” and is probably right. The marginal readings give two conjectures. Yet another may be found in the idea that the word describes St. Peter’s action “casting himself down, he wept,” but there is not enough authority for any other interpretation to justify a change in the text.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Mark 14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.