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Bible Commentaries
Mark 2

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

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Verses 1-12


Study this lesson in comparison with Matthew to discover what Mark omits and what, if anything, he adds; and then consider the same in its bearing on the object or purpose of the Gospel as described in the “Introductory” lesson.

The following analysis will aid:

Introduction (Mark 1:1 ) · Testimony of John the Baptist (Mark 1:2-8 ) · Testimony of God the Father (Mark 1:9-11 ) · Victory in the Wilderness (Mark 1:12-13 ) · Call of the Disciples (Mark 1:14-20 ) · Works of Power (Mark 1:21 to Mark 2:12 ) The introduction is without a parallel in the other Gospels. Its abruptness is almost startling, but the chief feature of it is its testimony to Christ’s deity. The Servant of Jehovah is at the same time “the mighty God” (See Isaiah 9:6 ).

John’s testimony is paralleled in Matthew 3:1-11 , but here it is much briefer (See the last lesson). Compare the intervening chapters of Matthew and observe in detail what Mark has omitted the genealogy, the Virgin birth, the visit of the wise men, the sojourn in Egypt, the settlement in Nazareth. None of these important events evidently fall in with the purpose of this Gospel. The Romans will be attracted by activity and strength, and hence the writer begins at once at the ministry of Christ.

God’s testimony to His Son is paralleled in Matthew 3:13-17 . Note here the first use of “straightway,” as referred to in the “Introduction,” and that Mark says Jesus “saw the heavens opened.” Among minor points Mark’s Gospel is notable for descriptive details of this kind.

The wilderness victory is found in Matthew 4:1-11 , and the student will be impressed with its succinctness here. Compare “driveth” with “led” in Matthew, and note the bearing on the supposed objective of this Gospel. The different temptations are omitted, but reference is made to “wild beasts,” which is also characteristic.

For what is placed here under the call of the disciples, see Matthew 4:12-22 and the comments there.

The works of power are paralleled in part in Matthew 8-9. Note another descriptive touch in Mark’s reference to the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, “He took her by the hand and lifted her up” (Mark 1:31 ). Also his reference to Christ’s early rising to pray (Mark 1:35 ), and in the case of the leper His being “moved with compassion” (Mark 1:41 ). He alone speaks of the “four” men who bore the one sick of the palsy (Mark 2:3 ).

It is interesting to observe at the close of this lesson that the journey it includes describes a kind of circle, since Jesus began His work in the synagogue at Capernaum (Mark 1:21 ), traveled to the adjacent towns and throughout all Galilee (Mark 1:38-39 ), returning to Capernaum again. Do not fail to use a map here.


1. Did you read again the chapters in Matthew leading up to the events of this lesson in Mark?

2. What strikes you as peculiar in Mark 1:1 ?

3. Among minor points for what is Mark’s Gospel noted?

4. What four illustrations of this are found in the last division of this lesson?

5. Have you examined a map in connection with this lesson?

Verses 13-28


The events are:

The Call of Levi (Mark 2:13-20 ) · Parables of the Cloth and the Bottles (2:21-22) · In the Cornfields on the Sabbath (2:23-28) · Healing the Withered Hand (Mark 3:1-5 ) · Healing the Multitudes (3:6-12) · Choosing the TwelveMark (Mark 3:13-21 ) · The Unpardonable Sin (Mark 3:22-30 ) · New Relationship (Mark 3:31-35 ) We will not in every case name the parallel passage in Matthew, which can be learned by the marginal references in one’s Bible. It is assumed that every reader or student has a Bible of this character which he consults. We will look for the comment desired under our treatment of Matthew in that place, while in Mark we will limit ourselves to what is peculiar to that writer.

The Levi of Mark 2:13 is identical with Matthew. He took toll, or collected the taxes for the Roman government, which made him an object of hatred to his own people and one who was despised as an apostate. Mark mentions the fact omitted by Matthew, that the feast of Mark 2:15 was in Levi’s house.

In the incident of the withered hand also, there is an addition not found elsewhere, indicating that Mark was a close observer of his Master’s actions and interpreter of His feelings (Mark 3:5 ).

The choosing of the twelve (Mark 3:13-21 ) has quite a different context in Mark from Matthew. Christ is on the mountain, but the Sermon on the Mount is not given. Notice, too, that the surnames of James and John are found here only (Mark 3:17 ). And do not pass over Mark 2:21 , which is peculiar to Mark. “Friends” there means “kinsmen.”

A very important addition is that under the head of the unpardonable sin (Mark 3:29 ). “Danger of eternal damnation” is rendered in the Revised Version “guilty of an eternal sin,” which teaches us the awful nature of ascribing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan, and also the certainty of eternal punishment. If there is such a thing as eternal sin, there must be eternal punishment to accompany it.


1. What are the leading incidents of this lesson?

2. Who was Levi?

3. What is characteristic of Mark as a reporter?

4. Name the things peculiar to Mark’s record.

5. What two great doctrinal truths are here emphasized?

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Mark 2". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/mark-2.html. 1897-1910.
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