Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NTInternational Critical

Mark 5

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verses 1-99


5. All of the Synoptics agree in correlating the three miracles narrated in this chapter. And Mk. and Lk. agree in general in the relation of these to events preceding and following. But Mt. places them in an entirely different connection. According to him, the occasion of Jesus’ crossing to the other side was the gathering of the multitude about him owing to the miracles accompanying the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. And the parables are said to be delivered on a day following, not preceding, the sending forth of the twelve, and removed from these events by a considerable interval. According to our account, the evident intention is to connect Jesus’ departure with the failure of Jesus’ mission to the Galileans marked by the veiled teaching of the parables. The recurrence of the same language in various places marks the interdependence of the Synoptics, as also the correlation of the events. But Mk.’s fulness of detail, in which he is followed to some extent by Lk., is characteristic.


1-20. Jesus crosses the lake into Decapolis on the south-eastern shore, and heals a man said to be possessed of a host of demons. The demons, driven out of the man, enter with Jesus’ permission into a herd of swine, and the maddened beasts rush into the lake and are drowned.

1. εἰς τὴν χώραν τῶν Γερασηνῶν—into the country of the Gerasenes. Γαδαρηνῶν is the probable reading in Mt., and Γεργεσηνῶν in Lk. The country of the Gadarenes designates the district generally by the name of a principal city. Γεργεσηνῶν is probably derived from the name of the town in whose immediate vicinity the event occurred, which must have been on the shore of the lake. Γερασηνῶν is more difficult to dispose of, as Gerasa is too far away to be the scene of the incident, or even to become a familiar designation of the general locality. And the similarity of name indicates that it has been confused with the nearer Gergesa.1

Γερασηνῶν, instead of Γαδαρηνῶν, Tisch. Treg. א* BD Latt. Γεργεσηνῶν Treg. marg. WH. RV. אc LU Δ 1, 28, 33, 118, 131, 209, Memph. Harcl. marg. Internal, as well as external, evidence favors Γερασηνῶν.

2. ἐξελθόντος αὐτοῦ—The TR. gives the proper construction of the part., putting it in agreement with αὐτῷ after ὑπήντησεν. This improper use of the gen. absolute is a specimen of the inaccuracy of Mk. in dealing with the part., like the μικρότερον ὂν of 4:31. The TR, is an evident correction of this mistake by some copyist. Mt.’s repetition of the inaccuracy is one of the proofs of the interdependence of the Synoptics. Matthew 8:28, Critical Text.

ἐξελθόντος αὐτοῦ, instead of ἐξελθόντι αὐτῷ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCL Δ 1, 13, 33, 69,118, 124, 131, 209, 346, two mss. Lat. Vet. (Memph. Syrr.). ὑπήντησεν, instead of�

δαιμονιζόμενον is timeless. The temporal relation would be expressed by the aor. δαιμονισθέτα.1 ἱματισμένον—clothed. This implies what Lk. states, that the man in his previous state had torn his clothes from him. Luke 8:27. τὸν ἐφηκότα τὸν λεγιῶνα—who had the legion. We have already seen how it is implied that Mk. accepts the man’s account of himself in telling the story of the swine. Here he does it expressly. καὶ ἑφοβήθησαν—and they were frightened. The thought of the miracle alone produced this effect.

16. καὶ διηγήσαντο—and … reported in full, rehearsed. The verb denotes the fulness of the account—they went through it all.


This is the only case in our Lord’s ministry in which his miracles operated against him in this way, and it is to be accounted for by the strange element in this case, the mixture of gain and loss in the result. Men welcome a beneficent power, and so we find the multitudes following Jesus. But they are repelled from a destructive power, and all the more, if it is supernatural. This explains the singular treatment, but the infraction of our Lord’s rule, to use his power only for beneficent purposes, is itself to be accounted for. And it enforces the question already raised, if this is not one of the cases in which we have to separate between the facts and the explanations and inferences of the Evangelists. The facts are the cure of the man and the destruction of the swine. But is Jesus responsible for the destruction? The whole idea of possession is beset with serious difficulties, and in this case, the substitution of lunacy for possession removes not only these, but also this anomaly in the action of Jesus.

18. ἑμβαινοντος—As he was entering. The present part. denotes action contemporaneous with that of the principal verb.

ἐμβαίνοντος, instead of ἐμβάντος, was come, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABCDKLM ΔΠ 1, 33, 124, most mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg.

ὁ δαιμονισθε0ίς—He who had been possessed with demons. The aor. part. denotes a state preceding the action of the principal verb.2

ἵνα μετʼ αὐτοῦ ᾖ—that he may be with him.3

19. Καὶ οὐκ�

καὶ ἦν παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν—And he was by the sea. According to Mt., Jairus came to Jesus while he was in the house. He places the events after the crossing of the lake in the following order: first, the healing of the paralytic, and the dispute about forgiveness of sins; then, the call of Matthew; then, the question of John’s disciples about fasting; and then, while he was saying these things, the coming of Jairus. And these events are connected all the way through by marks of time, fixing the chronological connection. Matthew 9:1-18.

22. Καὶ ἔρχεται εἷς τῶν�

ἀλαλάζοντας—wailing, is an onomatopoetic word, coming from�1 Corinthians 13:1, to denote the clanging of a cymbal. It is used very appropriately of the monotonous wail of hired mourners.

39. Τί θορυβεῖσθε καὶ κλαίετε;—Why do you make a tumult and weep? Mt. also speaks of the crowd as θορυβούμενον, and introduces αὐλητάς, flute-players. There was the exaggerated noise and ostentation of hired mourners.

τὸ παιδίον οὐκ�

5 See Leviticus 15:25-27.

1 ἴαται is a perfect pass. of the deponent verb ἰάομαι, which has a passive signification in the perf., aor. pass., and 1 fut.

1 σκύλλεις means properly to flay, and is used in the weakened sense, to trouble, only in the Biblical and still later Greek. In the N.T. it is a rare word, and its use here and in the parallel passage, Luke 8:49, is one of the strong indications that the Synoptical Gospels are interdependent.

2 See Win. 43, 3 b.

F Codex Borelli.

1 In the earlier writers, this word is used disparagingly, belonging, as it does, only to colloquial speech. It is a rare word in the N.T., and its use here and in the parallel account, Matthew 9:24, points in the same direction as the use of σκύλλεις, v. 35.

2 This is a weakened sense of both noun and verb, which denote the actual putting one out of his senses, beside himself, and it belongs to later Greek. On the use of the dat. akin to the acc. of kindred signification, see Win. 32, 2, at end.

3 The nearest approach to this meaning in earlier Greek is to decide or determine. This meaning belongs in the main to Biblical Greek.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Mark 5". International Critical Commentary NT. 1896-1924.