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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Mark 15

Verses 1-14


(1-14) And the whole council.—The words in the Greek are in apposition with “the chief priests.” We do not know of any other elements in the Council or Sanhedrin than the priests, scribes, and elders, and it is possible that the writer may have added the words in the sense of “even the whole Council,” as giving the collective word for the body of which the three constituent parts had been already named. On the whole section see Notes on Matthew 27:1-2; Matthew 27:11-23.

Verse 3

(3) But he answered nothing.—Many MSS. omit these words, but the fact is implied in Pilate’s question, and in “Jesus yet answered nothing,” in Mark 15:5.

Verse 6

(6) He released . . . whomsoever they desired.—Both verbs are in the tense which implies custom.

Verse 7

(7) Bound with them that had made insurrection.—The fact that Barabbas was a rebel as well as robber is stated by St. Luke also (Luke 23:19), but St. Mark alone records the fact that his fellow-insurgents were imprisoned with him.

Verse 8

(8) As he had ever done unto them.—More accurately, as he ever used to do unto them.

Verse 9

(9) Will ye that I release unto you . . .?—The form of the question in the Greek implies (as the like form in John 18:39) a half hope of an affirmative answer.

Verse 12

(12) Whom ye call the King of the Jews.—We note in St. Mark’s report something of the same determination to fasten upon the Jews the reproach that it was indeed their king whom he had condemned, as we see afterwards in the “title” which he placed upon the cross, and in his refusal to alter it (John 19:21-22).

Verses 15-21

(15-21) And so Pilate, willing to content the people.—The word which St. Mark uses for “content” appears to be the Greek equivalent for the Latin satisfacere, and so takes its place in the evidence for St. Mark’s connection with Rome and the Roman Church.

Scourged him.—The word, like that in St. Matthew, is formed from the Latin flagellum, and forms another link in the chain of evidence just referred to.

Verse 16

(16) Into the hall, called Prætorium.—The same word is used by St. Matthew (Matthew 27:27), but is there translated the “common hall.” See Note there as to the meaning of the word. Here, again, we have a Latin word.

Verse 17

(17) They clothed him with purple.—The colour is called “purple” by St. Mark and St. John, “crimson” by St. Matthew. The two words probably indicated the same colour.

Verse 19

(19) They smote . . . did spit . . . worshipped.—All three verbs are in the tense which implies frequent repetition.

Verse 21

(21) The father of Alexander and Rufus.—The fact recorded here, and not elsewhere, is one of the most striking instances of the independent character of St. Mark’s Gospel. It is clear that it had a special interest for himself and the readers for whom he wrote; what that interest was we can only conjecture. The two names were so common that we cannot arrive at more than a probable identification, but the mention of a “Rufus chosen in the Lord” as prominent among the Christians of Rome (Romans 16:13), taken together with the evidence which connects St. Mark’s Gospel with that Church (see Introduction), tends to the conclusion that he was one of the two brothers thus mentioned. But if so, then we are led on to some other facts of no slight interest. St. Paul speaks of the mother of Rufus as being also his mother—i.e., endeared to him by many proofs of maternal kindness—and so we are led to the belief that the wife of Simon of Cyrene must, at some time or other, at Antioch or Corinth, and afterwards at Rome, have come within the inner circle of St. Paul’s friends. This, in its turn, connects itself with the prominence given to “men of Cyrene” in St. Luke’s account of the foundation of the Gentile Church of Antioch (Acts 11:20). (See Note on Matthew 27:20.)

Verses 21-38

(21-38) See Notes on Matthew 27:32-51.

Verse 23

(23) Wine mingled with myrrh.—Note this description as in part explaining St. Matthew’s “wine mingled with gall.”

Verse 25

(25) It was the third hour.—The precise statement of the hour is peculiar to St. Mark, but it agrees with the narrative common to him with St. Matthew and St. Luke of the darkness that came over the land at the “sixth hour.”

Verse 26

(26) The King of the Jews.—St. Mark gives the shortest form of the inscription.

Verse 27

(27) Two thieves.—Better, as in Matthew 27:38, two robbers.

Verse 28

(28) And the scripture was fulfilled.—The verse, if genuine, would be noticeable as one of the few instances in which St. Mark dwells on the fulfilment of prophecy; but it is omitted by nearly all the better MSS., and probably originated in a marginal note, calling attention to the fulfilment of the prophecy which we find quoted by our Lord as about to be fulfilled in Luke 22:37.

Verse 29

(29) Ah.—The interjection, which in its Greek form expresses a kind of inarticulate scorn, is peculiar to St. Mark, and may be noted as another instance of his habit of reproducing the very sounds that had been uttered.

Verse 30

(30) Save thyself.—The order of the clauses should be inverted, come down from the cross, and save Thyself.

Verse 32

(32) Let Christ.—Better, the Christ. The article is emphatic, and the word had not yet come to be used only as a name.

Verse 34

(34) Eloi, Eloi.—Here, again, the form which St. Mark gives is a closer reproduction of the very sounds of the Aramaic form of the word than that in St. Matthew, who gives the Hebrew as it stands in Psalms 22:1.

Verse 39

(39) When the centurion.—St. Mark, after his manner, uses the actual Latin word, St. Matthew the Greek equivalent.

Verses 39-47

(39-47) See Notes on Matthew 27:54-61.

Verse 40

(40) Among whom was Mary Magdalene.—The list is the same as that in Matthew 27:56, with the exceptions (1) of the epithet “less,” or better, little, as applied to James, and (2) the name of Salome instead of “the mother of Zebedee’s children.”

Verse 42

(42) The preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath.—The explanation, like that in Mark 7:2-3, is characteristic of St. Mark, as writing for Gentile readers. It fixes, with hardly the shadow of a doubt, the meaning of the word “preparation,” as given in the Note on Matthew 27:62.

Verse 43

(43) Joseph of Arimathsea.—The account given of him is fuller than in St. Matthew. The phrase, “which also waited for the kingdom of God,” has its parallel in Luke 23:51.

Went in boldly.—Better, waxed bold, and went in. There is an implied contrast between his boldness now and his previous timidity.

Verse 44

(44) And Pilate marvelled.—The wonder of Pilate, and his calling the centurion (the article points to his being the same that had been mentioned in Mark 15:39), are peculiar to St. Mark.

Verse 46

(46) He bought fine linen.—Better, a fine linen sheet. The word is the same as in Matthew 27:59. The fact that it was bought just before the Sabbath began is peculiar to St. Mark.

Verse 47

(47) Mary the mother of Joses.—In Matthew 27:61 she is described simply as “the other Mary.”

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Mark 15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.