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Bible Commentaries

Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels

Mark 5

Verses 1-20

Ver 1. And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.2. And when He was come out of the ship, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,3. Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:4. Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.5. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.6. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped Him.7. And cried with a loud voice, and said, "What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that Thou torment me not."8. For He said unto him, "Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit."9. And He asked him, "What is thy name?" And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion: for we are many."10. And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country.11. Now there was nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.12. And all the devils besought Him, saying, "Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them."13. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.14. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.15. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.16. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.17. And they began to pray Him to depart out of their coasts.18. And when He was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed Him that he might be with Him.19. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, "Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee."20. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.

Theophylact: Those who were in the ship enquired among themselves, "What manner of man is this?" and now it is made known Who He is by the testimony of His enemies. For the demoniac came up confessing that He was the Son of God. Proceeding to which circumstance the Evangelist says, "And they came over unto the other side, &c."

Bede, in Marc., 2, 21: Geraza is a noted town of Arabia, across the Jordan, near mount Galaad, which the tribe of Manasseh held, not far from the lake of Tiberias, into which the swine were precipitated.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Nevertheless the exact reading contains neither Gadarenes, nor Gerasines, but Gergesenes. For Gadara is a city of Judaea, which has no sea at all about it; and Geraza is a city of Arabia, having neither lake nor sea near it. And that the Evangelists may not be thought to have spoken so manifest a falsehood, well acquainted as they were with the parts around Judaea, Gergese, from which come the Gergesenes, was an ancient city, now called Tiberias, around which is situated a considerable lake. [ed. note: Reland seems to feel the same difficulty about Gadara as the author of this comment; but he reconciles it by saying that the whole region might have been so called from the town of Gadara in Peroea, though the town itself was not on the lake. Reland, Palace., v2, p774, also Lightfoot, Horae Hebr. in locum.] It continues, "And when He was come out of the ship, immediately there met Him, &c."

Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 24: Though Matthew says that there were two, Mark and Luke mention one, that you may understand that one of them was a more illustrious person, concerning whose state that country was much afflicted.

Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., see Chrys., Hom. in Matthew, 28: Or else, Mark and Luke relate what was most worthy of compassion, and for this reason they put down more at length what had happened to this man; for there follows, "no man could bind him, no, not with chains."

They therefore simply said, a "man possessed of a devil," without taking heed to the number; or else, that he might shew the greater virtue in the Worker; for He who had cured one such, might cure many others. Nor is there any discrepancy shewn here, for they did not say that there was one alone, for then they would have contradicted Matthew. Now devils dwelt in tombs, wishing to convey a false opinion to many, that the souls of the dead were changed to devils.

Greg. Nyss.: Now the assembly of the devils had prepared itself to resist the Divine power. But when He was approaching Who had power over all things, they proclaim aloud His eminent virtue. Wherefore there follows, "But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, saying, &c."

Cyril: See how the devil is divided between to passions, fear and audacity; he hangs back and prays, as if meditating a question; he wishes to know what he had to do with Jesus, as though he would say, "Do you cast me out from men, who are mine?"

Bede: And how great is the impiety of the Jews, to say that He cast out devils by the prince of the devils, when the very devils confess that they have nothing in common with Him.

Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., and Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 28: Then praying to Him, he subjoins, "I adjure thee by God, that Thou torment me not." For he considered being cast out to be a torment, or else he was also invisibly tortured. For however bad the devils are, they know that there awaits them at last a punishment for their sins; but that the time of their last punishment was not yet come, they full well knew, especially as they were permitted to mix among men. But because Christ had come upon them as they were doing such dreadful deeds, they thought that such was the heinousness of their crimes, He would not wait for the last times, to punish them; for this reason they beg that they may not be tormented.

Bede: For it is a great torment for a devil to cease to hurt a man, and the more severely he possesses him, the more reluctantly he lets him go. For it goes on, "For He said unto Him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit."

Cyril: Consider the unconquerable power of Christ; He makes Satan shake, for to him the words of Christ are fire and flame: as the Psalmist says, "The mountains melted at the presence of the Lord, [Psalms 97:5] that is, great and proud powers. There follows, "And He asked him, What is thy name?"

Theophylact: The Lord indeed asks, not that He Himself required to know, but that the rest might know that there was a multitude of devils dwelling in him.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Lest he should not be believed, if He affirmed there were many, He wishes that they themselves should confess it; wherefore there follows, "And he saith unto Him, Legion, for we are many." He gives not a fixed number, but a multitude, for such accuracy in the number would not help us to understand it.

Bede: But by the public declaration of the scourge which the madman suffered the virtue of the Healer appears more gracious. And even the priests of our time, who know how to cast out devils by the grace of exorcism, are wont to say that the sufferers cannot be cured at all, unless they in confession openly declare, as far as they are able to know, what they have suffered from the unclean spirits in sight, in hearing, in taste, in touch, or any other sense of body or soul, whether awake or asleep. It goes on, "And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country."

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Luke, however, says, "into the abyss." [Luke 8:3] For the abyss is the separation of this world, for devils deserve to be sent into outer darkness, prepared for the devil and his angels. This Christ might have done, but He allowed them to remain in this world, lest the absence of a tempter should deprive men of the crown of victory.

Theophylact: Also that by fighting with us, they may make us more expert. It goes on, "Now there was there about the mountain a great herd of swine feeding."

Augustine, de Con. Evan, ii, 24: What Mark here says, that the herd was about the mountain, and what Luke calls on the mountain, are by no means inconsistent. For the herd of swine was so large, that some part were on the mountain, the rest around it. It goes on: "And the devils besought Him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them."

Remig., see Aurea Catena in Matt., p.327: The devils entered not into the swine of their own will, but their asking for this concession was that is might be shewn that they cannot hurt men without Divine permission. They did not ask to be sent into men, because they saw that He, by whose power they were tortured, bore a human form. Nor did they desire to be sent into the flocks, for they are clean animals offered up in the temple of God. But they desired to be sent into the swine, because no animal is more unclean than a hog, and devils always delight in filthiness. It goes on: "And forthwith Jesus gave them leave."

Bede: And He gave them leave, that by the killing of the swine, the salvation of men might be furthered.

Pseudo-Chyrs., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He wished to shew publicly the fury which devils entertain against men, and that they would inflict much worse things upon men, if they were not hindered by Divine power; because, again, His compassion would not allow this to be shewn on men, He permitted them to enter into the swine, that on them the fury and power of the devils might be made known. There follows: "And the unclean spirits went out."

Titus: But the herdsmen also took to flight, lest they should perish with the swine, and spread the same fear amongst the inhabitants of the town. Wherefore there follows: "And they that fed them, &c."

The necessity of their loss, however, brought these men to the Saviour; for frequently when God makes men suffer loss in their possessions, He confers a benefit on their souls.

Wherefore it goes on: "And they came to Jesus, and see him that was tormented by the devil, &c." that is, at the feet of Him from whom he had obtained health; a man, whom before, not even chains could bind, clothed and in his right mind, though he used to be continually naked; and they were amazed. Wherefore it says, "And they were afraid." This miracle then they find out partly by sight, partly by words. Wherefore there follows: "And they that saw it told them."

Theophylact: But amazed at the miracle, which they had heard, they were afraid, and for this reason they beseech Him to depart out of their borders; which is expressed in what follows: "And they began to pray Him to depart out of their coasts;" for they feared lest some time or other they should suffer a like thing: for, saddened at the loss of their swine, they reject the presence of the Saviour.

Bede: Or else, conscious of their own frailty, they judged themselves unworthy of the presence of the Lord. It goes on: "And when He was going to the ship, he that had been tormented, &c."

Theophylact: For he feared lest some time or other the devils should find him, and enter into him a second time. But the Lord sends him back to his house, intimating to him, that though He Himself was not present, yet His power would keep him; at the same time also that he might be of use in the healing of others. Wherefore it goes on: "And He did not suffer him, and saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, &c."

See the humility of the Saviour. He said not, ’Proclaim all things which I have done to you,’ but, all that the Lord hath done; do thou also, when thou hast done any good thing, take it not to thyself, but refer it to God.

Chrys.: But although He bade others, whom He healed, to tell it to no one, He nevertheless fitly bids this one proclaim it, since all that region, being possessed by devils, remained without God.

Theophylact: He therefore began to proclaim it, and all wonder, which, is that which follows: "And he began to publish."

Bede: Mystically, however, Gerasa or Gergese, as some read it, is interpreted casting out a dweller or a stranger approaching, because the people of the Gentiles both expelled the enemy from the heart, and he who was afar off is made near.

Pseudo-Jerome: Here again the demoniac is the people of the Gentiles, in a most hopeless case, bound neither by the law of nature, nor of God, nor by human fear.

Bede: Who dwelt in the tombs, because they delighted in dead works, that is, in sins; who were ever raging night and day, because whether in prosperity or in adversity, they were never free from the service of malignant spirits: again, by the foulness of their works, they lay as it were in the tombs, in their lofty pride, they wandered over the mountains, by words of most hardened infidelity, they as it were cut themselves with stones.

But he said, "My name is Legion," because the Gentile people were enslaved to divers idolatrous forms of worship. Again, that the unclean spirits going out from man enter into swine, which they cast headlong into the sea, implies that now that the people of the Gentiles are freed from the empire of demons, they who have not chosen to believe in Christ, work sacrilegious rites in hidden places.

Theophylact: Or by this it is signified that devils enter into those men who live like swine, rolling themselves in the slough of pleasure; they drive them headlong into the sea down the precipice of perdition, into the sea of an evil life where they are choked.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or they are choked in hell without any touch of mercy by the rushing on of an early death; which evils many persons thus avoid, for by the scourging of the fool, the wise is made more prudent.

Bede: But that the Lord did not admit him, though he wished to be with Him, signifies, that every one after the remission of his sins should remember that he must work to obtain a good conscience, and serve the Gospel for the salvation of others, that at last he may rest in Christ.

Greg., Mor., 37: For when we have perceived ever so little of the Divine knowledge, we are at once unwilling to return to human affairs, and seek for the quiet of contemplation; but the Lord commands that the mind should first toil hard at its work, and afterwards should refresh itself with contemplation.

Pseudo-Jerome: But the man who is healed preached in Decapolis, where the Jews, who hang on the letter of the Decalogue, are being turned away from the Roman rule.

Verses 21-34

Ver 1a. In the beginning was the Word,

Theophylact: After the miracle of the demoniac, the Lord works another miracle, namely, in raising up the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue; the Evangelist, before narrating this miracle, says, "And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto Him."

Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 28: But we must understand, that what is added of the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, took place when Jesus had again crossed the sea in a ship, though how long after does not appear; for if there were not an interval, there could be no time for the taking place of that which Matthew relates, concerning the feast at his own house; after which event, nothing follows immediately, except this concerning the daughter of the chief of the synagogue. For he has so put it together, that the transition itself shews that the narrative follows the order of time. It goes on, "There cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, &c."

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He has recorded the name on account of the Jews of that time, that it might mark the miracle. It goes on, "And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet, and besought Him greatly, &c."

Matthew indeed relates that the chief of the synagogue reported that his daughter was dead, but Mark says that she was very sick, and that afterwards it was told to the ruler of the synagogue, when our Lord was about to go with him, that she was dead. The fact then, which Matthew implies, is the same, namely, that He raised her from the dead; and it is for the sake of brevity, that he says that she was dead, which was evident from her being raised.

Augustine: For he attaches himself not to the words of the father, but to what is of most importance, his wishes; for he was in such despair, that his wish was that she should return to life, not thinking that she could be found alive, whom he had left dying.

Theophylact: Now this man was faithful in part, inasmuch as he fell at the feet of Jesus, but in that he begged of Him to come, he did not shew as much faith as he ought. For he ought to have said, ’Speak the word only, and my daughter shall be healed.’

There follows, "And He went away with him, and much people followed Him, and thronged Him; and a woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, &c."

Chrys., see Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 31: This woman, who was celebrated and known to all, did not dare to approach the Saviour openly, nor to [p. 98] come to Him, because, according to the law, she was unclean; for this reason she touched Him behind, and not in front, for that she durst not do, but only ventured to touch the hem of His garment. It was not however the hem of the garment, but her frame of mind that made her whole. There follows, "For she said, "If I may but touch His clothes, I shall be whole."

Theophylact: Most faithful indeed is this woman, who hoped for healing from His garments. For which reason she obtains health. Wherefore it goes on, "And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed."Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Now the virtues of Christ are by His own will imparted to those men, who touch Him by faith.

Wherefore there follows, "And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that virtue had gone out of Him, turned Him about in the press, and said, Who touched My clothes?" The virtues indeed of the Saviour do not go out of Him locally or corporally, nor in any respect pass away from Him. For being incorporeal, they go forth to others and are given to others; they are not however separated from Him, from whom they are said to go forth, in the same way as sciences are given by the teacher to his pupils.

Therefore it says, "Jesus, knowing in Himself the virtue which had gone out of Him," to shew that with His knowledge, and not without His being aware of it, the woman was healed. But He asked, "Who touched me?" although He knew her who touched Him, that He might bring to light the woman, by her coming forward, and proclaim her faith, and lest the virtue of His miraculous work should be consigned to oblivion.

It goes on, "And His disciples said unto Him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched Me?" But the Lord asked, "Who touched Me," that is in thought and faith, for the crowds who throng Me cannot be said to touch Me, for they do not come near to Me in thought and in faith. There follows, "And He looked round about to see her that had done this thing."

Theophylact: For the Lord wished to declare the woman, first to give His approbation to her faith, secondly to urge the chief of the synagogue to a confident hope that He could thus cure his child, and also to free the woman from fear. For the woman feared because she had stolen health. Wherefore there follows, "But the woman fearing and trembling, &c."

Bede, in Marc., 2, 22: Observe that the object of His question was that the woman should confess the truth of her long want of faith, of her sudden belief and healing, and so herself be confirmed in faith, and afford an example to others.

"But He said to her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague." He said not, Thy faith is about to make thee whole, but has made thee whole, that is, in that thou hast believed, thou hast already been made whole.

Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., see Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 31: He calls her "daughter" because she was saved by her faith; for faith in Christ makes us His children.

Theophylact: But He saith to her, "Go in peace," that is, in rest, which means, go and have rest, for up to this time thou hast been in pains and torture.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or else He says, "Go in peace," sending her away into that which is the final good, for God dwells in peace, that thou mayest know, that she was not only healed in body, but also from the causes of bodily pain, that is, from her sins.

Pseudo-Jerome: Mystically, however, Jairus comes after the healing of the woman, because when the fulness of the Gentiles has come in, then shall Israel be saved. [Romans 11] Jairus means either illuminating, or illuminated, that is, the Jewish people, having cast off the shadow of the letter, enlightened by the Spirit, and enlightening others, falling at the feet of the Word, that is, humbling itself before the Incarnation of Christ, prays for her daughter, for when a man lives himself, he makes others live also. Thus Abraham, and Moses, and Samuel, intercede for the people who are dead, and Jesus comes upon their prayers.

Bede: Again, the Lord going to the child, who is to be healed, is thronged by the crowd, because though He gave healthful advice to the Jewish nation, He is oppressed by the wicked habits of that carnal people; but the woman with an issue of blood, cured by the Lord, is the Church gathered together from the nations, for the issue of blood may be either understood of the pollution of idolatry, or of those deeds, which are accompanied by pleasure to flesh and blood. But whilst the word of the Lord decreed salvation to Judaea, the people of the Gentiles by an assured hope seized upon the health, promised and prepared for others.

Theophylact: Or else, by the woman, who had a bloody flux, understand human nature; for sin rushed in upon it, which [p. 100] since it killed the soul, might be said to spill its blood. It could not be cured by many physicians, that is, by the wise men of this world, and of the Law and the Prophets; but the moment that it touched the hem of Christ’s garment, that is, His flesh, it was healed, for whosoever believes the Son of man to be Incarnate is he who touches the hem of His garment.

Bede: Wherefore one believing woman touches the Lord, whilst the crowd throngs Him, because He, who is grieved by divers heresies, or by wicked habits, is worshipped faithfully with the heart of the Catholic Church alone. But the Church of the Gentiles came behind Him; because though it did not see the Lord present in the flesh, for the mysteries of His Incarnation had been gone through, yet it attained to the grace of His faith, and so when by partaking of His sacraments, it merited salvation from its sins, as it were the fountain of its blood was dried up by the touch of His garments. And the Lord looked round about to see her who had done this, because He judges that all who deserve to be saved are worthy of His look and of His pity.

Verses 35-43

Ver 1a. In the beginning was the Word,

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Bibliographical Information
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Mark 5". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel".