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Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NT

Mark 7

Verses 1-99

DISPUTE WITH THE PHARISEES ABOUT EATING WITH UNWASHED HANDS

7:1-23. Certain Scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem, seeing the disciples eating with unwashed hands, complain of the violation of tradition. Jesus denies the force of tradition, and the possibility of material defilement of the spirit.

This dispute is occasioned by the disregard of the disciples for the ceremonial law about eating with unwashed hands. But the Pharisees, who make the attack, signalize it by complaining of this unconventional act as a violation of the tradition of the fathers. And Jesus’ answer is at first directed towards this feature of their complaint. It is a case, he says, of the commandments of men versus the commandments of God, of tradition against law. They even set aside the law of God, in order to keep their tradition. But then, taking up the more immediate question of unwashed hands, Jesus strikes at the root not only of traditionalism, but of ceremonialism, saying that it was not what a man took into his stomach, but what came out of his heart, that defiled him. And this, Mk. says, had the effect of cleansing all foods. And of course, as the distinction between clean and unclean belonged not to tradition, but to the written law, this made a breach in the law itself. It released men from the obligation of a part of the law said to have been given by God to Moses. And it affirmed the distinction between outward and inward in religion. It was no wonder that Jesus’ fate hastened to its end, and that the next record of him marks practically the end of his Galilean ministry.

1. συνάγονται πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ Φαρισαῖοι—there gather together to him the Pharisees.1 The distinction made between the Pharisees and certain of the Scribes would seem to mean that the Scribes were not so well represented.

This renewed activity of the Scribes and Pharisees against Jesus is another indication that there was a Passover at some time just before this, at which either the presence of Jesus himself, or the reports brought from Galilee, drew fresh attention to him. It would not be enough of itself, but it adds to the strength of other indications of the same thing. See on 6:39.

2. καὶ ἰδόντες τινὰς τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ ὅτι κοιναῖς χερσί, τουτʼ ἔστιν�

4. ἐὰν μὴ βαπτίσωνται—unless they bathe, Amer. Rev. The contrast between this and the preceding case is indicated by the�Leviticus 14:8, Leviticus 14:9, Leviticus 14:15:5, Leviticus 14:6, Leviticus 14:8, Leviticus 14:10, Leviticus 14:11, Leviticus 14:13, Leviticus 14:16, Leviticus 14:21, Leviticus 14:22, Leviticus 14:27, Leviticus 14:16:4, Leviticus 14:24, Leviticus 14:26, Leviticus 14:22:6. Moreover, Edersheim says that immersion of the things washed was the Jewish ritual provided in such cases. Dr. Morison contends that sprinkling was the ritual method provided in such cases, and attempts to overthrow the plain meaning of the word by the supposed custom. But he does not prove the custom, only the supposed impossibility of wholesale bathing. Moreover, the contrast would be a very lame one in that case, since the custom required careful washing of the hands, and so an actual removal of defilement, but in the case of extreme defilement, only a sprinkling of the body for form’s sake is supposed. And his argument, that words constantly undergo such changes, amounts to nothing, as it is unaccompanied by proof that this word has gone through the process of change.


WH. non marg. RV.marg. ῥαντίσωνται, sprinkle, instead of βαπτίσωνται, with א B 40, 53, 71, 86, 237, 240, 244, 259. A manifest emendation.

παρέλαβον—the counterpart of παράδοσιν, denoting the process of receiving a thing by transmission, as the latter does its giving. ποτηρίων κ. ξεστῶν κ. χαλκίων—cups, and wooden vessels, and brazen vessels. κ. κλινῶν,—and of beds, is omitted.1 Edersheim shows that the Jewish ordinance required immersions, βαπτισμοὺς, of these vessels.

Omit καὶ κλινῶν, Tisch. WH. RV. א BL Δ 102, Memph.

5. καὶ ἐπερωτῶσιν—and they question. περιπατοῦσιν—walk; the figurative use of this word to denote manner of life, conduct, is Hebraistic.

καὶ, instead of ἔπειτα, then, before ἐπερωτῶσιν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDL 1, 33, 209, Latt. Pesh. Memph.

κοιναῖς χερσὶν—with unclean hands.

κοιναῖς, instead of�

This quotation is from Isaiah 29:13, and conforms for the most part to the LXX., which reads Ἐγγίζει μοι ὁ λαὸς οὗτος ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐν ταῖς χείλεσιν αὐτοῦ τιμῶσί με, ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρῥω�


7. διδάσκοντες—the part. gives the reason for the vanity or uselessness of their worship, and may be translated, while teaching. διδασκαλίας—is in apposition with ἐντάλματα, and may be translated for teachings. ἐντάλματα�

10. For quotations, see Exodus 20:12 and 21:17. θανάτῳ τελευτάτω—let him surely die (RV.marg.), a rendering of the Heb. inf. abs. which simply intensifies the meaning of the verb. This last command, affixing the capital penalty to the sin of reviling parents, is adduced by our Lord to show how seriously the Law takes this fifth commandment.


11. With the omission of καὶ, and, at the beginning of v. 12, the two verses belong together, and read, But you say, “If a man say to his father or his mother, ‘Anything in which you may be profited by me is Corban (that is, an offering),’ ” you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother.2

Omit καὶ, and, at beginning of v. 12, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BD Δ 1, 13, 28, 69, 102, 346, mss. Lat. Vet. Memph.

κορβᾶν is the Hebrew word for an offering. It is the predicate, having the antecedent of the relative for its subj. The meaning is, that a man had only to pronounce this word over anything, setting it aside to a Divine use, in order to escape the obligation of giving it for the relief or comfort of his parents. Even when said in good faith, this contravenes the Divine Law, since the duty to the parent takes precedence of the obligation to make offerings. The choice in such cases is not between God and man, but between two ways of serving God, the one formal and the other real. Offerings belong to the formal side of worship, whereas God is really served and worshipped in our human duties and affections. But it was not necessary that the banning should be carried out on its positive side. The word having once been uttered, the man was freed from the human obligation, but needed not to make the offering. Nay, he was positively forbidden to use the article any longer for the human purpose with reference to which the Korban had been uttered. The regulation was not invented for this purpose, but was intended to emphasize the sacredness of a thing once set apart, even by a thoughtless word, to Divine uses. But it failed, as the uninspired mind generally does, to define Divine uses, and left out what was of real importance, while emphasizing and retaining the unimportant.

Omit αὐτοῦ after πατρὶ, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BDL Δ 28, 69, 240, 244, 245, 346, mss. Lat. Vet. Omit αὐτοῦ after μητρὶ א BDL 1, 13, 28, 56, 69, 240, 244, 346, Latt.

13.�

5 See 1 Samuel 15:22, 1 Samuel 15:27.


6 See on 1:22.

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Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Mark 7". International Critical Commentary NT. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/mark-7.html. 1896-1924.