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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Mark 15



Verse 1

Mark 15:1 . εὐθὺς , πρωῒ , without delay, quam primum , in the morning watch, which might mean any time between three and six, but probably signifies after sunrise. συμβούλιον will mean either a consultation or the result, the resolution come to, according as we adopt the reading: ποιήσαντες (T.R. = [145] [146] ) or ἑτοιμάσαντες ( [147] [148] [149] ). καὶ ὅλον τὸ συνέδριον : the καὶ simply identifies = even the whole Sanhedrim, and does not imply that, besides the three classes previously mentioned, some others were present ( e.g. , στρατηγοὺς τοῦ ἱεροῦ : Luke 22:52 ). This added clause signifies that it was a very important meeting, as, in view of its aim, to prepare the case for Pilate, it obviously was. The Sanhedrists had accomplished nothing till they had got the matter put in such a form that they might hope to prevail with the procurator, with whom lay the jus gladii , to do their wicked will, and of course that Jesus claimed to be the Christ would not serve that purpose. Vide notes on Mt. Πιλάτῳ : without the article in best MSS. on this the first mention; with, in subsequent reference. Mk. does not think it necessary to say who or what Pilate was, not even mentioning, as Mt., that he was the governor.

[145] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[146] Codex Sangallensis, a Graeco-Latin MS. of the tenth century, and having many ancient readings, especially in Mark.

[147] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[148] Codex Ephraemi

[149] Codex Regius--eighth century, represents an ancient text, and is often in agreement with א and B.

Verses 1-5

Mark 15:1-5 . Before Pilate (Matthew 27:1-14 , Luke 23:1-10 ).

Verse 2

Mark 15:2 . σὺ εἶ ὁ β . Pilate’s question reveals the secret of the morning meeting. The crafty Sanhedrists put a political construction on the confession of Jesus. The Christ , therefore a pretender to the throne of Israel. Vide on Mt.

Verse 3

Mark 15:3 . πολλά : either an adverb = much, or the accusative after κατηγόρουν . As to the matter of these accusations vide on Mt. But to what end, when Jesus had confessed that He was King; giving Himself away, so to speak? The Sanhedrists must have seen from Pilate’s manner, a smile on his face perhaps, that he did not take the confession seriously. For the reason of this vide on Mt.

Verse 4

Mark 15:4 . πόσα , answering to πολλά in Mark 15:3 , might mean “how grave,” Thayer’s Grimm , but probably = how many, as in Mark 6:38 , Mark 8:5 ; Mark 8:19 .

Verse 5

Mark 15:5 . ὥστε θαυμ . τ . Π . Mt. adds λίαν . The governor had never seen a prisoner like this before. He does not believe him to be a political pretender, but he sees that He is a remarkable man, and feels that he must proceed cautiously, groping his way amid the parties and passions of this strange people.

Verse 6

Mark 15:6 . ἀπέλυεν , imperfect = Mt.’s εἰώθει ἀπολύειν , pointing to a practice of the governor at passover season; on which vide on Mt. ὅνπερ ᾐτοῦντο , “whomsoever they desired,” A. V [150] The R. V [151] adopts the reading preferred by W.H [152] , ὃν παρτοῦντο , and translates “whom they asked of him”. It is difficult to decide between the two readings, as the περ might easily be changed into παρ , and vice versâ . In favour of the T.R. is the fact that παρτοῦντο ordinarily in N. T., as in the classics, means to refuse, and also that ὅνπερ very strongly emphasises the finality of the popular choice they might ask the release of any one, no matter whom such is the force of περ ; it would be granted. On these grounds Field ( Otium Nor. ) decides for the T. R.

[150] Authorised Version.

[151] Revised Version.

[152] Westcott and Hort.

Verses 6-15

Mark 15:6-15 . Jesus or Barabbas? (Matthew 27:15-26 , Luke 23:16-25 ).

Verse 7

Mark 15:7 . στασιαστῶν ( συστασ ., T.R.): this word (here only in N. T.) contains an interesting hint as to the nature of the offence committed by Barabbas and his associates. They were no mere band of brigands ( λῃστής : John 18:40 ), but men engaged in an insurrection, probably of a political character, rising out of the restless desire of many for independence, and in connection with that guilty of murder ( φόνον ), at least some of them ( οἵτινες ), Barabbas included. f1τῇ στάσει : the article refers back to στασιαστῶν = the insurrection implied in there being insurrectionists. Mk. therefore does not refer to the insurrection as known to his readers. Perhaps he knew nothing about it himself, nor do we.

Verse 8

Mark 15:8 . ἀναβὰς , etc.: Mk. assigns the initiative to the people. So Lk.; Mt. and John to Pilate. The difference is not important to the course of the history. The custom existing, this incident was bound to come about somehow. Nor does it greatly affect the question as to the attitude of Pilate. In either case he was simply feeling his way. The custom gave him a chance of feeling the popular pulse, a most important point for a ruler of his opportunist type. καθὼς , here = that which.

Verse 9

Mark 15:9 . θέλετε , etc.: Pilate makes the tentative suggestion that the favoured person should be Jesus; whom he designates “King of the Jews,” to see how the people would take a title which the Sanhedrists regarded as a mortal offence.

Verse 10

Mark 15:10 . ἐγίνωσκεν , it gradually dawned upon him. Pilate would see the animus of the Sanhedrists in their many accusations (Mark 15:3 ), from which it would appear that Christ’s real offence was His great influence with the people. Hence the attempt to play off the one party against the other: the people against the priests.

Verse 11

Mark 15:11 . ἀνέσεισαν , the aorist implies that the priests stirred up the people with success , to the effect that their request to Pilate was in favour of Barabbas. One may wonder how they so easily gained their purpose. But Barabbas, as described by Mk., represented a popular passion, which was stronger than any sympathy they might have for so unworldly a character as Jesus the passion for political liberty . The priests would know how to play on that feeling. What unprincipled characters they were! They accuse Jesus to Pilate of political ambition, and they recommend Barabbas to the people for the same reason. But a “holy” end sanctifies the means! On the contrast between Jesus and Barabbas vide Klostermann.

Verse 12

Mark 15:12 . It is presupposed that the people have intimated their preference for Barabbas perhaps by the cry: not Jesus, but Barabbas. Hence Pilate proceeds to ask: “what, then, am I to do with Him whom ye call ( λέγετε ) the King of the Jews?” That whom ye call was very astute. It ought to bring out the real feeling of the people, as from the next verse we learn that it did.

Verse 13

Mark 15:13 . πάλιν : they had intimated their will already by a popular shout = Barabbas, not Jesus; now they intimate their feeling about Jesus by a second shout with the unmistakable ring of reprobation in it: CRUCIFY HIM! That is what Pilate’s ὅν λέγετε has brought out. It has been taken as an insult. The sense is the same if, with B, we omit ὅν . Pilate’s question then = what then shall I do, tell me, to the King of the Jews? The sting lies in the title.

Verse 14

Mark 15:14 . This final speech of Pilate presents a subtle combination of honesty and craft. He says what he really thinks: that Jesus is innocent, and he makes sure that the people really mean to stand to what they have said. περισσῶς , beyond measure: the positive here is stronger than the comparative περισσοτέρως (T.R.), and it is far better attested.

Verse 15

Mark 15:15 . Pilate was now quite sure what the people wished, and so, as an opportunist, he let them have their way. τὸ ἱκανὸν ποιῆσαι : to satisfy (here only in N. T.) = satisfacere in Vulg [153] , perhaps a Latinism ( vide Grotius), but found in later Greek ( vide Raphel and Elsner). φραγελλώσας : certainly a Latinism, from flagellare .

[153] Vulgate (Jerome’s revision of old Latin version).

Verse 16

Mark 15:16 . The soldiers in charge of the prisoner conduct Him into the barracks ( ἔσω τῆς αὐλῆς , ὅ ἐστιν πραιτώριον = into the court, that is, the praetorium Weizsäcker), and call together their comrades to have some sport. ὅλην τὴν σπεῖραν : “a popular exaggeration” (Sevin); at most 200 men.

Verses 16-20

Mark 15:16-20 . Mocked by the soldiers (Matthew 27:27-31 ).

Verse 17

Mark 15:17 . ἐνδιδύσκουσιν for ἐνδύουσιν T.R.: a rare word, not in classics, found in Sept [154] and Joseph. (and in Luke 8:27 ; Luke 16:19 ), and because rare, the more probable reading. πορφύραν , a purple garment, for. Mt.’s χλαμύδα κοκκίνην = “ scarlet robe”. ἀκάνθινον σ .: here and in John 19:5 .


Verse 21

Mark 15:21 . ἀγγαρεύουσιν : on this word vide on Matthew 5:41 . ἀπʼ ἀγροῦ : this detail in Mk. and Lk. has been taken as an unintentional hint that the crucifixion took place a day earlier than the synoptical statements imply. Coming from the country, i.e. , from his work. But even Holtzmann, H. C., disallows the inference: “as if nine in the morning were evening after work time, and εἰς ἀγρὸν in Mark 16:12 meant ploughing or reaping”. Ἀλεξ ., Ῥούφ .: these names imply interest in the persons referred to within the circle of Mk.’s first readers, presumably well-known Christians. Rufus in Romans 16:13 ? Alexander in Acts 19:33 ?

Verses 21-26

Mark 15:21-26 . The crucifixion (Matthew 27:32-37 , Luke 23:26 ; Luke 23:33-38 ).

Verse 22

Mark 15:22 . φέρουσιν α ., they carry Him: “ferunt, non modo ducunt,” Bengel. It would appear that Jesus was so weak through the strain of the last few days, and the scourging, that He was unable to walk, not to speak of carrying His cross. He had to be borne as the sick were borne to Him (Mark 1:32 ).

Verse 23

Mark 15:23 . ἐδίδουν : the conative imperfect = they tried to give, offered. ἐσμυρνισμένον οἶνον , wine drugged with myrrh, here only in N. T. Cf. Mt.’s account. οὐκ ἔλαβεν : Mt. says Jesus tasted the drink. He would not take it because He knew that it was meant to stupefy.

Verse 24

Mark 15:24 . τίς τί ἄρῃ , who should receive what; two questions pithily condensed into one, another example in Luke 19:15 , vide Winer, § lxvi., 5, 3.

Verse 25

Mark 15:25 . ὥρα τρίτη , the third hour = nine o’clock as we reckon; raising a harmonistic problem when compared with John 19:14 . Grotius comments: “id est, jam audita erat tuba horae tertiae, quod dici solebat donec caneret tuba horae sextae” (they called it the third hour till the sixth was sounded). καὶ = when, Hebraistic, but also not without example in classics in similar connections: the fact stated connected with its time by a simple καὶ ; instances in Meyer.

Verse 26

Mark 15:26 . ἐπιγραφὴ ἐπιγεγραμμένη : awkwardly expressed; Mt. and Lk. have phrases which look like corrections of style. ὁ βασ . τῶν Ἰουδ .: the simplest form of the inscription.

Verse 29

Mark 15:29 . οὐὰ = Latin, vah , expressing here ironical admiration: “admirandi vim cum ironia habet,” Bengel. Raphel remarks that this word was not given in the Greek Lexicons, but that it is not therefore to be regarded as a Latinism peculiar to Mk., but rather as a word which had been adopted and used by the later Greeks, e.g. , Arrian. Here only in N. T.

Verses 29-32

Mark 15:29-32 . Taunts of spectators (Matthew 27:39-44 , Luke 23:35 ; Luke 23:37 ; Luke 23:39 ).

Verse 30

Mark 15:30 . καταβὰς ( καὶ κατάβα , T.R.), etc., save Thyself, having descended , etc., or by descending = descend and so save Thyself.

Verse 31

Mark 15:31 . οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς : both in Mt. and in Mk. the priests lead in the unhallowed chuckling, scribes and elders (Mt.) being mentioned only subordinately ( μετὰ , etc.). πρὸς ἀλλήλους : a common fear gives place to a common sportiveness in this unholy brotherhood, now that the cause of their fear is removed.

Verse 32

Mark 15:32 . ἵνα ἴδωμεν that we may see (in the descent from the cross) an unmistakable sign from heaven of Messiahship, and so believe in Thee. οἱ συνεσταυρωμένοι , the co-crucified. Mk., like Mt., knows nothing of the conversion of one of the robbers reported by Lk. How different these fellow-sufferers in spirit from the co-crucified in St. Paul’s sense (Romans 6:6 , Galatians 2:20 )!

Verse 33

Mark 15:33 . γενομένης , ἐγένετο : another awkwardness of style variously amended in Mt. and Lk. σκότος : on this darkness vide on Mt. Furrer ( Wanderungen , pp. 175 6) suggests as its cause a storm of hot wind from the south-east, such as sometimes comes in the last weeks of spring. “The heavens are overcast with a deep gray, the sun loses his brightness, and at last disappears. Over the darkened land rages the storm, so that the country, in the morning like a flower-carpet, in the evening appears a waste.… On the saddest day in human history swept such a storm at noon over Jerusalem, adding to the terrors of the crucifixion.”

Verses 33-36

Mark 15:33-36 . Darkness without and within (Matthew 27:45-49 , Luke 23:44-46 ).

Verse 34

Mark 15:34 . ἐλωΐ , ἐλωΐ : the Aramaic form of the words spoken by Jesus, Mt. giving the Hebrew equivalent. On this cry of desertion vide remarks on the parallel place in Mt. ὁ Θεός μου . ὁ Θ . μ .: as in Sept [155] Mt. gives the vocative. εἰς τί , for what end? ἵνα τί in Mt. and Sept [156] [155] Septuagint.


Verse 35

Mark 15:35 . Ἠλίαν : the name of Elijah might be suggested by either form of the name of God Eli or Eloi. Who the τινες were that made the poor pun is doubtful, most probably heartless fellow-countrymen who only affected to misunderstand.

Verse 36

Mark 15:36 . δραμὼν δὲ : if the wits were heartless mockers, then δὲ will imply that this person who offered the sufferer a sponge saturated with posca ( vide Mt.) was a friendly person touched by compassion. For the credit of human nature one is very willing to be convinced of this. ἐπότιζεν might, like ἐδίδουν (Mark 15:23 ), be viewed as a conative imperfect = offered Him a drink, but John’s narrative indicates that Jesus accepted the drink (John 19:30 ). λέγων refers to the man who brought the drink. In Mt. it is others who speak (Matthew 27:49 ), and the sense of what was said varies accordingly ἄφες in Mt. naturally, though not necessarily, means: stop, don’t give Him the drink ( vide on Mt.) ἄφετε in Mk., spoken by the man to the bystanders, means naturally: allow me (to give Him the drink), the idea being that thereby the life of the sufferer would be prolonged, and so as it were give time for Elijah to come ( ἴδωμεν εἰ ἔρ . Ἠ .) to work an effectual deliverance by taking Him down from the cross ( καθελεῖν α .). εἰ ἔρ .: εἰ with the present indicative instead of the more usual ἐὰν with subjunctive in a future supposition with probability ( vide Burton, M. and T. in N. T., § 251).

Verse 37

Mark 15:37 . φωνὴν μεγάλην : a second great voice uttered by Jesus ( vide Mark 15:34 ), the fact indicated in Mt. by the word πάλιν . At this point would come in John’s τετέλεσται . (John 19:30 ). ἐξέπνευσεν , breathed out His life, expired; aorist, the main fact, to which the incident of the drink ( ἐπότιζεν , imperfect) is subordinate; used absolutely, here (and in Luke 23:46 ), as often in the classics. Bengel remarks: “spirare conducit corpori, exspirare spiritui”.

Verses 37-41

Mark 15:37-41 . Death and its accompaniments (Matthew 27:50-56 , Luke 23:46-49 ).

Verse 38

Mark 15:38 . The fact of the rending of the veil stated as in Mt., with omission of Mt.’s favourite ἰδοὺ , and the introduction of another of Mk.’s characteristic pleonasms, ἀπʼ ἄνωθεν .

Verse 39

Mark 15:39 . κεντυρίων , a Latinism = centurio , for which Mt. and Lk. give the Greek ἑκατόνταρχος . ἐξ ἐναντίας ( χώρας ), right opposite Jesus, so that he could hear and see all distinctly. The thing that chiefly impressed him, according to Mk., was the manner of His death. οὕτως ἐξέπνευσεν = with a loud voice, as if life were still strong, and so much sooner than usual, as of one who, needing no Elijah to aid Him, could at will set Himself free from misery. This was a natural impression on the centurion’s part, and patristic interpreters endorse it as true and important. Victor Ant. says that the loud voice showed that Jesus died κατʼ ἐξουσίαν , and Theophylact applies to the ἐξέπνευσεν the epithet δεσποτικῶς . But it may be questioned whether this view is in accord either with fact or with sound theology. What of the φέρουσι in Mark 15:22 ? And is there not something docetic in self-rescue from the pangs of the cross, instead of leaving the tragic experience to run its natural course? Mt.’s explanation of the wonder of the centurion, by the external events earthquake, etc. is, by comparison, secondary. Schanz characterises Mk.’s account as “schöner psychologisch” (psychologically finer).

Verse 40

Mark 15:40 . On the faithful women who looked on from afar, vide on Mt. Mk. singles out for special mention the same three as Mt.: Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children. Mk. distinguishes James, the brother of Joses, as τοῦ μικροῦ = either the little in stature (Meyer and Weiss), or the less in age, the younger (Schanz). Mk. refers to the mother of Zebedee’s children by her own name, Salome. Neither evangelist mentions Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Verse 41

Mark 15:41 . This interesting reference to service rendered to Jesus in Galilee, given here by Mk. only, applies to the three named, hence the honourable mention of them. Mt. substitutes service on the way from Galilee to Jerusalem rendered by all evidently a secondary account. ἄλλαι πολλαὶ , others, many; also worthy of honour, but of an inferior order compared with the three. They made the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem with Jesus.

Verse 42

Mark 15:42 . ἤδη : omitted by Mt., but important, as indicating that the business Joseph had on hand that of obtaining and using permission to take down and bury the body of Jesus must be gone about without delay. It was already the afternoon of the day before the Sabbath, προσάββατον , called παρασκευή (here and in the parallels in this technical sense). It must, therefore, be done at once, or it could not be done till Sabbath was past.

Verses 42-47

Mark 15:42-47 . Burial (Matthew 27:57-66 , Luke 23:50-56 ).

Verse 43

Mark 15:43 . εὐσχήμων : Mt. has πλούσιος ; vide there for remarks on the two epithets. βουλευτής , a councillor, not in the provincial town, Arimathaea, which would have been mentioned, but in the grand council in Jerusalem. καὶ αὐτὸς : not in contrast to the Sanhedrists generally (Weiss), but in company with the women previously named (Schanz); he, like them, was an expectant of the Kingdom of God. τολμήσας : a graphic word, in Mk. only, giving a vivid idea of the situation. Objections to be feared on Pilate’s part on score of time dead so soon? possibly surly indifference to the decencies of burial in the case of a crucified person, risk of offence to the religious leaders in Jerusalem by sympathy shown to the obnoxious One, even in death. Therefore to be rendered: “ taking courage , went in unto Pilate” ( vide Field, Ot. Nor. , ad loc. ).

Verse 44

Mark 15:44 . Omitted by Mt., whose narrative throughout is colourless compared with Mk.’s. εἰ τέθνηκε : εἰ = ὅτι , after a verb of wonder ( vide Burton, M. and T., § 277, and Winer, § lx., 6). εἰ ἀπέθανε : τέθνηκε has reference to the present of the speaker, ἀπέθανε to the moment of death. πάλαι : opposed to ἄρτι , and not implying a considerable time before, but only bare priority to the present. Pilate’s question to the centurion was, did He die before now? = is He actually dead?

Verse 45

Mark 15:45 . Satisfied on the point Pilate freely gives ( ἐδωρήσατο ) the carcase ( πτῶμα , [157] [158] [159] [160] , corrected from feelings of reverence into σῶμα in many MSS.).

[157] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[158] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[159] Codex Bezae

[160] Codex Regius--eighth century, represents an ancient text, and is often in agreement with א and B.

Verse 46

Mark 15:46 . ἀγοράσας , having purchased linen; therefore purchases could be made. This word, and the reason given for Joseph’s haste (Mark 15:42 ), have, not without a show of reason, been regarded as unintentional evidence in favour of the Johannine Chronology of the Passion. So Meyer, Weiss, and Holtzmann. καθελὼν : καθαιρεῖν was the technical term for taking down from the cross. Proofs in Elsner, Raphel, Kypke, and Loesner. ἐνείλησεν : here only in N.T. ἐν μνημείῳ ( μνήματι , [161] [162] ): no indication in Mk. as in Mt. that it was new , and Joseph’s own.

[161] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[162] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

Verse 47

Mark 15:47 . τέθειται : from the perfect Meyer and Weiss infer that the women were not present at the burial, but simply approached and took note where Jesus lay after burial. Schanz dissents, and refers to the καὶ before ὅτε in Mark 15:41 in some MSS., as proving that they had come to render the last office to Jesus.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Mark 15". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.