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1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
Ver. 1. The beginning of the Gospel, &c. ] The history of our Saviour’s life and death, St Mark is recorded to have written at the request of the Romans. a In the Latin tongue, say some (who pretend to have seen the original copy at Venice), but it is more likely in Greek, a tongue (then) very well known to the Romans also. He begins with John’s ministry, passing over Christ’s birth and private life for brevity’ sake (as it may seem) though Papists feign many idle relations thereof, and so expose us to the jeers of Jewish and Turkish miscreants. There are those who make Mark an epitomator of Matthew. But forasmuch as he neither begins like Matthew, nor keeps the same order, but relateth some things that Matthew hath not, and other things much larger than Matthew hath them; judicious Calvin thinks that he had not seen St Matthew’s Gospel when he wrote his (as neither had St Luke seen either of them): but that being acted by the same Spirit, they agree so harmoniously and happily; an undoubted argument of the Divinity of the Scripture, which therefore a Greek Father calls παναρμονιωτατην , every way suitable to itself. (Nazianzen.)
a Euseb. Hist. Eccles. ii. 15, ex Clementc.
2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Ver. 2. As it is written in the prophets ] Isaiah and Malachi; so that there was no cause why that dead dog Porphyry should here bark and blaspheme, as if this testimony should be falsely fathered on all the prophets, when Isaiah only was the author of it.
Behold, I send my Messenger before thy face ] Malachi saith, "Before my face," in the person of Christ; to show that He and the Father are one.
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Ver. 3. The voice of one crying ] Here Mark begins the Gospel, at the preaching of the Baptist, which the author to the Hebrews begins at the preaching of Christ, Hebrews 2:3 . But that is only to prove that so great was our Saviour’s glory in his miracles, that it matcheth, yea, surpasseth that of the angels, those ministers of the law. The ridiculous parallel of Apollonius Tyaneus with our Saviour by Hierocles, and the malicious exceptions of R. Nizachon against his doings and miracles, are fully answered by Eusebius and Munster. Annot. in Mat. Hebraice. As for John Baptist, he professeth himself to be no more than a voice. And so indeed he was totus vox, all voice. His apparel, his diet, his conversation did preach holiness as well as his doctrine,Mark 6:20; Mark 6:20 ; John 3:25-36 .
4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Ver. 4. John did baptize in the wilderness ] Like as at the promulgation of the law, the people were commanded to wash their garments, and sanctify themselves; so at the first publication of the Gospel, to wash their hands, and cleanse their hearts; and in testimony or profession thereof, to believe and be baptized for remission of sins.
5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
Ver. 5. All the land of Judea ] That is, a great sort of them; but John quickly grew stale to them, John 5:35 . Principium fervet, medium leper, exitus alger. Weak Christians easily fall off, as leaves in autumn, or untimely figs,Revelation 6:13; Revelation 6:13 .
6 And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
Ver. 6. And John was clothed, &c. ] Elias also was a rough hairy man. Those worthies, of "whom the world was not worthy, wandered about in sheep’s skins and goat’s skins," Hebrews 11:37 ; but they were like the ark, goat’s hair without, but pure gold within; or like Brutus’ staff, Cuius intus solidum aurum corneo velabatur eortiee. (Plutarch.) Buchanan seldom cared for a better outside than a rug gown girt close about him, yet his inside was most rich.
He did eat locusts ] Good meat (to those there at least) though coarse, and easily come by. Tartarians eat the carrion carcases of horses, camels, asses, cats, dogs, yea, when they stink, and are full of magots, and hold them as dainty as we do venison.
7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
Ver. 7. I am not worthy ] So Jacob cried out of old. So the centurion, Matthew 8:5-13 . So the prodigal, Luke 15:11-32 . So Peter, Luke 5:8 . So Augustine, Domine, non sum dignus quem tu diligas, I am not worthy of thy love, Lord.
8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
Ver. 8. With the Holy Ghost ] By whom your iniquity is taken away, Isaiah 6:6-7 . See Trapp on " Mat 3:11 "
9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
Ver. 9. In those days ] When the people flocked so fast to John, that they might not mistake him for the Messiah, and that his baptism might be the more famous.
10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
Ver. 10. He saw the heavens opened ] The visible heavens, so that the Baptist saw something above the stars: so did Stephen; so could Christ when he was upon the earth. It is a just wonder that we can look up to so admirable a height of the starry sky, and that the eye is not tired in the way; some say it is 500 years’ journey to it. a Other mathematicians tell us, that if a stone should fall from the eighth sphere, and should pass every day 100 miles, it would be 65 years or more before it would come to the ground.
a Burton on Melancholy.
11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying , Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Ver. 11. In whom I am well pleased ] And in him with us, whom he hath made gracious or favourites in him, the beloved One,Ephesians 1:6; Ephesians 1:6 . εχαριτωσεν , gratificavit.
12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.
Ver. 12. The Spirit driveth him ] That is, suddenly carrieth him (who was most willing to go) as that legal scape goat, Leviticus 16:8-10 , into the wilderness, and there permitted him to be tempted, but supported him under the temptation, that he came safe off again. Sancti etiam nequaquam sui iuris sunt, sed toti spiritus cedunt imperio. The saints are at God’s beck and check.
13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
Ver. 13. And was with the wild beasts ] Unhurt by them, as Adam was in the state of integrity. These fell creatures saw in Christ the perfect image of God; and therefore reverenced him as their Lord, as they did Adam before his fall, see Job 5:21-22 .
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
Ver. 14. Jesus came into Galilee ] To decline Herod’s rage. And whereas it may seem that our Saviour herein took a wrong course, since Herod was governor of Galilee; we must know that the Pharisees were the men that delivered up John to Herod, Matthew 17:11-12 ; and that but for them there was no great fear of Herod.
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Ver. 15. And saying, The time is fulfilled ] These were four of our Saviour’s sermon heads. The prophets of old were wont to set down some short notes of their larger discourses to the people, and to fasten them to the doors of the temple till the people had read them. a And then they were taken down by the priests, and laid up for the use of posterity.
Repent ye and believe, &c. ] Repentance, then, is a gospel duty, and (as some argue from this text) before faith; the proper purchase of Christ’s blood, Acts 5:31 . Indeed, faith and repentance keep up a Christian’s life (saith a learned man), as the natural heat and radical moisture do the natural life. Faith is like the innate heat; repentance like the natural moisture. And, as the philosopher saith, if the innate heat devour too much the radical moisture, or on the contrary, there breed presently diseases; so, if believing make a man repent less, or repenting make a man believe less, this turneth to a distemper. Lord, cast me down (said a holy man upon his deathbed) as low as hell in repentance; and lift me up by faith into the highest heavens, in confidence of thy salvation.
a Calvin in Esaiam.
16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
Ver. 16. See Trapp on " Mat 4:18 "
17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
Ver. 17. See Trapp on " Mat 4:19 "
18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
Ver. 18. See Trapp on " Mat 4:20 "
19 And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.
Ver. 19. See Trapp on " Mat 4:21 "
20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.
Ver. 20. See Trapp on " Mat 4:21 "
21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.
Ver. 21. He entered into the synagogue, and taught ] This is noted as remarkable in St Mark, that he often stated that our Saviour taught.
22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
Ver. 22. And they were astonished ] If it could be said of Dr Whittaker, that no man ever saw him without reverence, or heard him without wonder, how much more of Christ, since grace was "poured into his lips?" Psalms 45:2 .
As one that had authority ] Seest thou a preacher deliver the word with singular authority (as Paul, "We believe, therefore we speak"), esteem him very highly for the work’s sake. The Corinthians are checked, for that they were unruly, and would reign without Paul, 1 Corinthians 4:8 . Zedekiah is blamed, 2 Chronicles 36:12 , because he humbled not himself before Jeremiah, a poor prophet, speaking to him from the Lord.
And not as the Scribes ] Frigidly and jejunely (meagrely, insipidly). Didst thou believe thyself, thou wouldst never plead thy client’s cause so coldly and carelessly, said Cicero to his adversary.
23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
Ver. 23. With an unclean spirit ] Gr. εν πρευματι ακαθαρτω . In an unclean spirit. An unregenerate man is in maligno positus, as St John saith of the world, 1 John 5:19 . He is inversus decalogus; whole evil is in man, and whole man in evil, till at last (without grace) he be satanized and transformed into a breathing devil. By reason of the inhabitation of unclean spirits, our spirits have in them trenches, cages, forts, and strongholds of Satan, 2 Corinthians 10:4 .
24 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.
Ver. 24. What have we to do with thee? ] Not to do with Christ, and yet vex a servant of Christ? Could the devil so mistake him, whom he confessed? It is an idle misprision, to sever the sense of an injury done to any of the members, from the head.
Thou Jesus of Nazareth ] Though the devils confessed Christ to be the Holy One of God, yet they call him Jesus of Nazareth; to nourish the error of the multitude that thought he was born there, and so not the Messiah. Neither did the devil’s cunning fail him herein, as appears, John 7:44 .
Art thou come to destroy us? ] Before the time: such is the infinite goodness of God that he respites even wicked men and spirits the utmost of their torments.
I know thee who thou art ] This he spake, not to honour Christ, but to denigrate him, as commended by so lying a spirit. Laudari ab illaudalo, non est laus, saith Seneca.
The Holy One of God ] Some rest in praising the sermon, and speaking fair to the preacher. The devil here did as much to Christ, to be rid of him. So did Herod, Mark 6:20 .
25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
Ver. 25. Hold thy peace ] φιμωθητι capistrator, be thou haltered up, or muzzled. Christ would not hear good words from an evil mouth. High words become not a fool, saith Solomon. The leper’s lips should be covered, according to the law.
26 And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
Ver. 26. And when the unclean spirit had torn him ] So he will serve all that he is now at one with, as Bradford hath it. You are the devil’s birds (saith he to all wicked ones), whom, when he hath well fed, he will broach you, and eat you, chew you, and champ you, world without end, in eternal woe and misery.
And cried with a loud voice ] But said nothing, according to Mark 1:25 .
He came out of him ] With as ill a will goes the worldling’s soul out of his body. God tears it out, as Job somewhere hath it; death makes forcible entry, Job 27:8 .
27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.
Ver. 27. For with authority ] As he taught, so he wrought with authority, εξουσια . The same word is used Mark 1:22 .
28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.
Ver. 28. His fame spread ] Those that do worthily in Ephratah shall be famous in Bethlehem, Ruth 4:11 . Cicero worthily preferreth Cato before Socrates, quoniam huius dicta, illius facta laudantur. because in saying these things, he is praised in doing those things. But our Lord Christ was mighty both "in deed and word," Luke 24:19 .
29 And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
Ver. 29. They entered into the house ] Happy house in such a guest. If Elisabeth held it so great a matter, that the mother of her Lord should come unto her, Luke 1:43 , what may Peter think, since the Lord himself comes to give him a visit!
30 But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.
Ver. 30. Sick of a fever ] πυρετος , which the Greeks denominate of the heat that is in it; the Germans of the cold. See Trapp on " Mat 8:14 "
31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.
Ver. 31. The fever left her ] For Christ (the great Centurion that hath the command of all diseases, Mat 8:9 ) had rebuked it, Luke 4:39 , as once he did the Red Sea, Psalms 106:9 , which therefore fled,Psalms 114:3; Psalms 114:3 .
32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.
Ver. 32. When the sun did set ] And the Sabbath was ended; for till then many held it not lawful.
33 And all the city was gathered together at the door.
Ver. 33. All the city ] i.e. The sick folk in the city by a synecdoche. a As all that were in debt or distress came to David, and he received them; so all that were diseased came to this Son of David, and he relieved them.
a A figure by which a more comprehensive term is used for a less comprehensive or vice versa; as whole for part or part for whole, genus for species or species for genus, etc. Formerly sometimes used loosely or vaguely, and not infrequently misexplained. ŒD
34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.
Ver. 34. Suffered not the devils to speak ] For what calling had they to preach the gospel?
35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
Ver. 35. And in the morning, &c. ] The fittest time for prayer, or any serious business. Therefore not only David, Psalms 5:3 , and other saints, but also heathens chose the morning chiefly for sacrifice; as Nestor in Homer, the Argonauts in Apollonius. The Persian magi sang hymns to their gods at break of day, and worshipped the rising sun. The Pinarii and Potitii sacrificed every morning and evening to Hercules, upon the great altar at Rome, &c. Men should rise early, on the Sabbath day especially, both the better to prepare for the public, as also to consecrate as much time as they can, Psalms 92:2 ; Exo 19:14-16 Shall Philistines be up early to go to see Dagon, Papists to matins, Israel to dance before their golden calf,Exodus 32:5-6; Exodus 32:5-6 ; young men may go Maying, ringing, &c.; worldlings to their markets, fairs, by peep of day; and shall Christians lie bathing in their beds on their Lord’s day?
36 And Simon and they that were with him followed after him.
Ver. 36. Followed after him ] Gr. "Followed hard after him," as David’s soul did after God, Psalms 63:8 , and as God’s grace did after David, Psalms 23:6 .
37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.
Ver. 37. All men seek for thee ] But few seek Christ seriously, seasonably, sincerely. Hence so many miss him: Vix quaeritur Iesus propter Iesum. All men seek themselves, and not the things of Jesus Christ, Philippians 2:21 .
38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.
Ver. 38. Let us go into the next towns ] The neighbouring boroughs, κωμωπολεις , such as were between a city and a town. Though secret prayer were sweet to our Saviour, yet he left it to preach and profit many.
39 And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.
Ver. 39. In their synagogues ] Which were as chapels of ease, or petty parish churches, belonging to the temple, as the cathedral. In these it was lawful to pray, preach, and dispute, but not to sacrifice, Acts 15:21 .
40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
Ver. 40. Beseeching him, &c. ] Morbi virtutum officina, saith Ambrose. We are best when we are worst, saith another. Therefore King Alured prayed God to send him always some sickness.
41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
Ver. 41. Touched him ] Immensae gratiae et bonitatis signum et tessera, saith Calvin. And so it is of his infinite goodness, that he will touch our menstruous clouts, take at our hands our polluted performances.
42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
Ver. 42. See Trapp on " Mat 8:3 " See Trapp on " Mat 8:4 "
43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;
Ver. 43. See Trapp on " Mat 8:3 " See Trapp on " Mat 8:4 "
44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
Ver. 44. See Trapp on " Mat 8:3 " See Trapp on " Mat 8:4 "
45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.
Ver. 45. Could no more openly enter ] For press of people, he was so frequented that he was forced to withdraw.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Mark 1". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27