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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Mark 14

Verse 1

After two days (μετα δυο ημερας). This was Tuesday evening as we count time (beginning of the Jewish Wednesday). In Matthew 26:2 Jesus is reported as naming this same date which would put it our Thursday evening, beginning of the Jewish Friday. The Gospel of John mentions five items that superficially considered seem to contradict this definite date in Mark and Matthew, but which are really in harmony with them. See discussion on Matthew 26:17 and my

Harmony of the Gospels , pp. 279 to 284. Mark calls it here the feast of "the passover and the unleavened bread," both names covering the eight days. Sometimes "passover" is applied to only the first day, sometimes to the whole period. No sharp distinction in usage was observed.

Sought (εζητουν). Imperfect tense. They were still at it, though prevented so far.

Verse 2

Not during the feast (Μη εν τη εορτη). They had first planned to kill him at the feast (John 11:57), but the Triumphal Entry and great Tuesday debate (this very morning) in the temple had made them decide to wait till after the feast was over. It was plain that Jesus had too large and powerful a following. See on Matthew 26:47.

Verse 3

As he sat at meat (κατακειμενου αυτου). Matthew 26:7 uses ανακειμενου, both words meaning reclining (leaning down or up or back) and in the genitive absolute. See on Matthew 26:6 in proof that this is a different incident from that recorded in Luke 7:36-50. See on Matthew 26:6-13 for discussion of details.

Spikenard (ναρδου πιστικης). This use of πιστικος with ναρδος occurs only here and in John 12:3. The adjective is common enough in the older Greek and appears in the papyri also in the sense of genuine, unadulterated, and that is probably the idea here. The word spikenard is from the Vulgate nardi spicati, probably from the Old Latin nardi pistici.

Brake (συντριψουσα). Only in Mark. She probably broke the narrow neck of the vase holding the ointment.

Verse 5

Above three hundred pence (επανω δηναριων τριακοσιων). Matthew has "for much" while John 12:5 has "for three hundred pence." The use of "far above" may be a detail from Peter's memory of Judas' objection whose name in this connection is preserved in John 12:4.

And they murmured against her (κα ενεβριμωντο αυτη). Imperfect tense of this striking word used of the snorting of horses and seen already in Mark 1:43; Mark 11:38. It occurs in the LXX in the sense of anger as here (Daniel 11:30). Judas made the complaint against Mary of Bethany, but all the apostles joined in the chorus of criticism of the wasteful extravagance.

Verse 8

She hath done what she could (ο εσχεν εποιησεν). This alone in Mark. Two aorists. Literally, "what she had she did." Mary could not comprehend the Lord's death, but she at least showed her sympathy with him and some understanding of the coming tragedy, a thing that not one of her critics had done.

She hath anointed my body aforehand for the burying (προελαβεν μυρισα το σωμα μου εις τον ενταφιασμον). Literally, "she took beforehand to anoint my body for the burial." She anticipated the event. This is Christ's justification of her noble deed. Matthew 26:12 also speaks of the burial preparation by Mary, using the verb ενταφιασα.

Verse 9

For a memorial of her (εις μνημοσυνον αυτης). So in Matthew 26:13. There are many mausoleums that crumble to decay. But this monument to Jesus fills the whole world still with its fragrance. What a hint there is here for those who wish to leave permanent memorials.

Verse 10

He that was one of the twelve (ο εις των δωδεκα). Note the article here, "the one of the twelve," Matthew has only εις, "one." Some have held that Mark here calls Judas the primate among the twelve. Rather he means to call attention to the idea that he was the one of the twelve who did this deed.

Verse 11

And they, when they heard it, were glad (ο δε ακουσαντες εχαρησαν). No doubt the rabbis looked on the treachery of Judas as a veritable dispensation of Providence amply justifying their plots against Jesus.

Conveniently (ευκαιρως). This was the whole point of the offer of Judas. He claimed that he knew enough of the habits of Jesus to enable them to catch him "in the absence of the multitude" (Luke 22:6) without waiting for the passover to be over, when the crowds would leave. For discussion of the motives of Judas, see on Matthew 26:15. Mark merely notes the promise of "money" while Matthew mentions "thirty pieces of silver" (Zechariah 11:12), the price of a slave.

Verse 12

When they sacrificed the passover (οτε το πασχα εθυον). Imperfect indicative, customary practice. The paschal lamb (note πασχα) was slain at 6 P.M., beginning of the fifteenth of the month (Exodus 12:6), but the preparations were made beforehand on the fourteenth (Thursday). See on Matthew 26:17 for discussion of "eat the passover."

Verse 13

Two of his disciples (δυο των μαθητων αυτου). Luke 22:8 names them, Peter and John.

Bearing a pitcher of water (κεραμιον υδατος βασταζων). This item also in Luke, but not in Matthew.

Verse 14

The goodman of the house (τω οικοδεσποτη). A non-classical word, but in late papyri. It means master (δεσποτ) of the house, householder. The usual Greek has two separate words, οικου δεσποτης (master of the house).

My guest-chamber (το καταλυμα μου). In LXX, papyri, and modern Greek for lodging-place (inn, as in Luke 2:7 or guest-chamber as here). It was used for καν or χαραςανσερα.

I shall eat (φαγω). Futuristic aorist subjunctive with οπου.

Verse 15

And he (κα αυτος). Emphatic, and he himself.

A large upper room (αναγαιον μεγα). Anything above ground (γη), and particularly upstairs as here. Here and in Luke 22:12. Example in Xenophon. Jesus wishes to observe this last feast with his disciples alone, not with others as was often done. Evidently this friend of Jesus was a man who would understand.

Furnished (εστρωμενον). Perfect passive participle of στρωννυμ, state of readiness. "Strewed with carpets, and with couches properly spread" (Vincent).

Verse 17

He cometh (ερχετα). Dramatic historical present. It is assumed here that Jesus is observing the passover meal at the regular time and hour, at 6 P.M. at the beginning of the fifteenth (evening of our Thursday, beginning of Jewish Friday). Mark and Matthew note the time as evening and state it as the regular passover meal.

Verse 18

As they sat (ανακειμενων αυτων). Reclined, of course. It is a pity that these verbs are not translated properly in English. Even Leonardo da Vinci in his immortal painting of the Last Supper has Jesus and his apostles sitting, not reclining. Probably he took an artist's license for effect.

Even he that eateth with me (ο εσθιων μετ' εμου). See Psalms 4:9. To this day the Arabs will not violate hospitality by mistreating one who breaks bread with them in the tent.

Verse 20

One of the twelve (εις των δωδεκα). It is as bad as that. The sign that Jesus gave,

the one dipping in the dish with me (ο εμβαπτομενος μετ' εμου εις το τρυβλιον), escaped the notice of all. Jesus gave the sop to Judas who understood perfectly that Jesus knew his purpose. See on Matthew 26:21-24 for further details.

Verse 23

A cup (ποτηριον). Probably the ordinary wine of the country mixed with two-thirds water, though the word for wine (οινος) is not used here in the Gospels, but "the fruit of the vine" (εκ του γενηματος της αμπελου). See Matthew 26:26-29 for discussion of important details. Mark and Matthew give substantially the same account of the institution of the Supper by Jesus, while Luke 22:17-20 agrees closely with 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 where Paul claims to have obtained his account by direct revelation from the Lord Jesus.

Verse 26

Sung a hymn (υμνησαντες). See Matthew 26:30 for discussion.

Verse 29

Yet will not I (αλλ' ουκ εγω). Mark records here Peter's boast of loyalty even though all desert him. All the Gospels tell it. See discussion on Matthew 26:33.

Verse 30

Twice (δις). This detail only in Mark. One crowing is always the signal for more. The Fayum papyrus agrees with Mark in having δις. The cock-crowing marks the third watch of the night (Mark 13:35).

Verse 31

Exceeding vehemently (εκπερισσως). This strong compounded adverb only in Mark and probably preserves Peter's own statement of the remark. About the boast of Peter see on Matthew 26:35.

Verse 32

Which was named (ου το ονομα). Literally, "whose name was." On Gethsemane see on Matthew 26:36.

While I pray (εως προσευξωμα). Aorist subjunctive with εως really with purpose involved, a common idiom. Matthew adds "go yonder" (απελθων εκε).

Verse 33

Greatly amazed and sore troubled (εκθαμβεισθα κα αδημονειν). Matthew 26:37 has "sorrowful and sore troubled." See on Matt. about αδημονειν. Mark alone uses εξθαμβεισθα (here and in Mark 9:15). There is a papyrus example given by Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary. The verb θαμβεω occurs in Mark 10:32 for the amazement of the disciples at the look of Jesus as he went toward Jerusalem. Now Jesus himself feels amazement as he directly faces the struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane. He wins the victory over himself in Gethsemane and then he can endure the loss, despising the shame. For the moment he is rather amazed and homesick for heaven. "Long as He had foreseen the Passion, when it came clearly into view its terror exceeded His anticipations" (Swete). "He learned from what he suffered," (Hebrews 5:8) and this new experience enriched the human soul of Jesus.

Verse 35

Fell on the ground (επιπτεν επ της γης). Descriptive imperfect. See him falling. Matthew has the aorist επεσεν.

Prayed (προσηυχετο). Imperfect, prayed repeatedly or inchoative, began to pray. Either makes good sense.

The hour (η ωρα). Jesus had long looked forward to this "hour" and had often mentioned it (John 7:30; John 8:20; John 12:23; John 12:27; John 13:1). See again in Mark 14:41. Now he dreads it, surely a human trait that all can understand.

Verse 36

Abba, Father (Αββα ο πατηρ). Both Aramaic and Greek and the article with each. This is not a case of translation, but the use of both terms as is Galatians 4:6, a probable memory of Paul's childhood prayers. About "the cup" see on Matthew 26:39. It is not possible to take the language of Jesus as fear that he might die before he came to the Cross. He was heard (Hebrews 5:7) and helped to submit to the Father's will as he does instantly.

Not what I will (ου τ εγω θελω). Matthew has "as" (ως). We see the humanity of Jesus in its fulness both in the Temptations and in Gethsemane, but without sin each time. And this was the severest of all the temptations, to draw back from the Cross. The victory over self brought surrender to the Father's will.

Verse 37

Simon, sleepest thou? (Σιμων, καθευδεισ;). The old name, not the new name, Peter. Already his boasted loyalty was failing in the hour of crisis. Jesus fully knows the weakness of human flesh (see on Matthew 26:41).

Verse 40

Very heavy (καταβαρυνομενο). Perfective use of κατα- with the participle. Matthew has the simple verb. Mark's word is only here in the N.T. and is rare in Greek writers. Mark has the vivid present passive participle, while Matthew has the perfect passive βεβαρημενο.

And they wist not what to answer him (κα ουκ ηιδεισαν τ αποκριθωσιν αυτω). Deliberative subjunctive retained in the indirect question. Alone in Mark and reminds one of the like embarrassment of these same three disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:6). On both occasions weakness of the flesh prevented their real sympathy with Jesus in his highest and deepest experiences. "Both their shame and their drowsiness would make them dumb" (Gould).

Verse 41

It is enough (απεχε). Alone in Mark. This impersonal use is rare and has puzzled expositors no little. The papyri (Deissmann's Light from the Ancient East and Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary) furnish many examples of it as a receipt for payment in full. See also Matthew 6:2; Luke 6:24; Philippians 4:18 for the notion of paying in full. It is used here by Jesus in an ironical sense, probably meaning that there was no need of further reproof of the disciples for their failure to watch with him. "This is no time for a lengthened exposure of the faults of friends; the enemy is at the gate" (Swete). See further on Matthew 26:45 for the approach of Judas.

Verse 43

And the scribes (κα των γραμματεων). Mark adds this item while John 18:3 mentions "Pharisees." It was evidently a committee of the Sanhedrin for Judas had made his bargain with the Sanhedrin (Mark 14:1; Matthew 26:3; Luke 22:2). See discussion of the betrayal and arrest on Matthew 26:47-56 for details.

Verse 44

Token (συσσημον). A common word in the ancient Greek for a concerted signal according to agreement. It is here only in the New Testament. Matthew 26:48 has σημειον, sign. The signal was the kiss by Judas, a contemptible desecration of a friendly salutation.

And lead him away safely (κα απαγετε ασφαλως). Only in Mark. Judas wished no slip to occur. Mark and Matthew do not tell of the falling back upon the ground when Jesus challenged the crowd with Judas. It is given by John alone (John 18:4-9).

Verse 47

A certain one (εις τις). Mark does not tell that it was Peter. Only John 18:10 does that after Peter's death. He really tried to kill the man, Malchus by name, as John again tells (John 18:10). Mark does not give the rebuke to Peter by Jesus in Matthew 26:52.

Verse 48

Against a robber (επ ληιστην). Highway robbers like Barabbas were common and were often regarded as heroes. Jesus will be crucified between two robbers in the very place that Barabbas would have occupied.

Verse 51

A certain young man (νεανισκος τις). This incident alone in Mark. It is usually supposed that Mark himself, son of Mary (Acts 12:12) in whose house they probably had observed the passover meal, had followed Jesus and the apostles to the Garden. It is a lifelike touch quite in keeping with such a situation. Here after the arrest he was following with Jesus (συνηκολουθε αυτω, imperfect tense). Note the vivid dramatic present κρατουσιν (they seize him).

Verse 52

Linen cloth (σινδονα). An old Greek word of unknown origin. It was fine linen cloth used often for wrapping the dead (Matthew 27:59; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53). In this instance it could have been a fine sheet or even a shirt.

Verse 54

Peter had followed him afar off (Hο Πετρος απο μακροθεν ηκολουθησεν αυτω). Here Mark uses the constative aorist (ηκολουθησεν) where Matthew 26:58, and Luke 22:54 have the picturesque imperfect (ηκολουθε), was following. Possibly Mark did not care to dwell on the picture of Peter furtively following at a distance, not bold enough to take an open stand with Christ as the Beloved Disciple did, and yet unable to remain away with the other disciples.

Was sitting with (ην συνκαθημενος). Periphrastic imperfect middle, picturing Peter making himself at home with the officers (υπηρετων), under rowers, literally, then servants of any kind. John 18:25 describes Peter as standing (εστως). Probably he did now one, now the other, in his restless weary mood.

Warming himself in the light (θερμαινομενος πρως το φως). Direct middle. Fire has light as well as heat and it shone in Peter's face. He was not hidden as much as he supposed he was.

Verse 56

Their witness agreed not together (ισα α μαρτυρια ουκ ησαν). Literally, the testimonies were not equal. They did not correspond with each other on essential points.

Many were bearing false witness (εψευδομαρτυρουν, imperfect, repeated action)

against him . No two witnesses bore joint testimony to justify a capital sentence according to the law (Deuteronomy 19:15). Note imperfects in these verses (Mark 14:55-57) to indicate repeated failures.

Verse 57

Bare false witness (εψευδομαρτυρουν). In desperation some attempted once more (conative imperfect).

Verse 58

Made with hands (χειροποιητον). In Mark alone. An old Greek word. The negative form αχειροποιητον here occurs elsewhere only in 2 Corinthians 5:1; Colossians 2:11. In Hebrews 9:11 the negative ου is used with the positive form. It is possible that a real λογιον of Jesus underlies the perversion of it here. Mark and Matthew do not quote the witnesses precisely alike. Perhaps they quoted Jesus differently and therein is shown part of the disagreement, for Mark adds verse Mark 14:59 (not in Matthew). "And not even so did their witness agree together," repeating the point of verse Mark 14:57. Swete observes that Jesus, as a matter of fact, did do what he is quoted as saying in Mark: "He said what the event has proved to be true; His death destroyed the old order, and His resurrection created the new." But these witnesses did not mean that by what they said. The only saying of Jesus at all like this preserved to us is that in John 2:19, when he referred not to the temple in Jerusalem, but to the temple of his body, though no one understood it at the time.

Verse 60

Stood up in the midst (αναστας εις μεσον). Second aorist active participle. For greater solemnity he arose to make up by bluster the lack of evidence. The high priest stepped out into the midst as if to attack Jesus by vehement questions. See on Matthew 26:59-68 for details here.

Verse 61

And answered nothing (κα ουκ απεκρινατο ουδεν). Mark adds the negative statement to the positive "kept silent" (εσιωπα), imperfect, also in Matthew. Mark does not give the solemn oath in Matthew under which Jesus had to answer. See on Matthew.

Verse 62

I am (εγο ειμ). Matthew has it, "Thou hast said," which is the equivalent of the affirmative. But Mark's statement is definite beyond controversy. See on Matthew 26:64-68 for the claims of Jesus and the conduct of Caiaphas.

Verse 64

They all (ο δε παντες). This would mean that Joseph of Arimathea was not present since he did not consent to the death of Jesus (Luke 23:51). Nicodemus was apparently absent also, probably not invited because of previous sympathy with Jesus (John 7:50). But all who were present voted for the death of Jesus.

Verse 65

Cover his face (περικαλυπτειν αυτου το προσωπον). Put a veil around his face. Not in Matthew, but in Luke 22:64 where Revised Version translates περικαλυψαντες by "blind-folded." All three Gospels give the jeering demand of the Sanhedrin: "Prophesy" (προφητευσον), meaning, as Matthew and Luke add, thereby telling who struck him while he was blindfolded. Mark adds "the officers" (same as in verse Mark 14:54) of the Sanhedrin, Roman lictors or sergeants-at-arms who had arrested Jesus in Gethsemane and who still held Jesus (ο συνεχοντες αυτον, Luke 22:63). Matthew 26:67 alludes to their treatment of Jesus without clearly indicating who they were.

With blows of their hands (ραπισμασιν). The verb ραπιζω in Matthew 26:67 originally meant to smite with a rod. In late writers it comes to mean to slap the face with the palm of the hands. The same thing is true of the substantive ραπισμα used here. A papyrus of the sixth century A.D. uses it in the sense of a scar on the face as the result of a blow. It is in the instrumental case here. "They caught him with blows," Swete suggests for the unusual ελαβον in this sense. "With rods" is, of course, possible as the lictors carried rods. At any rate it was a gross indignity.

Verse 66

Beneath in the court (κατω εν τη αυλη). This implies that Jesus was upstairs when the Sanhedrin met. Matthew 22:69 has it

without in the court (εξω εν τη αυλη). Both are true. The open court was outside of the rooms and also below.

Verse 67

Warming himself (θερμαινομενον). Mark mentions this fact about Peter twice (Mark 14:54; Mark 14:67) as does John (John 18:18; John 18:25). He was twice beside the fire. It is quite difficult to relate clearly the three denials as told in the Four Gospels. Each time several may have joined in, both maids and men.

The Nazarene (του Ναζαρηνου). In Matthew 26:69 it is "the Galilean." A number were probably speaking, one saying one thing, another another.

Verse 68

I neither know nor understand (ουτε οιδα ουτε επισταμα). This denial is fuller in Mark, briefest in John.

What thou sayest (συ τ λεγεις). Can be understood as a direct question. Note position of

thou (συ), proleptical.

Into the porch (εις το προαυλιον). Only here in the New Testament. Plato uses it of a prelude on a flute. It occurs also in the plural for preparations the day before the wedding. Here it means the vestibule to the court. Matthew 26:71 has πυλωνα, a common word for gate or front porch.

And the cock crew (κα αλεκτωρ εφωνησεν). Omitted by Aleph B L Sinaitic Syriac. It is genuine in verse Mark 14:72 where "the second time" (εκ δευτερου) occurs also. It is possible that because of verse Mark 14:72 it crept into verse Mark 14:68. Mark alone alludes to the cock crowing twice, originally (Mark 14:30), and twice in verse Mark 14:72, besides verse Mark 14:68 which is hardly genuine.

Verse 69

To them that stood by (τοις παρεστωσιν). This talk about Peter was overheard by him. "This fellow (ουτος) is one of them." So in verse Mark 14:70 the talk is directly to Peter as in Matthew 26:73, but in Luke 22:59 it is about him. Soon the bystanders (ο παρεστωτες) will join in the accusation to Peter (verse Mark 14:70; Matthew 26:73), with the specially pungent question in John 18:26 which was the climax. See on Matthew 26:69-75 for discussion of similar details.

Verse 71

Curse (αναθεματιζειν). Our word anathema (ανα, θεμα, an offering, then something devoted or a curse). Finally the two meanings were distinguished by αναθημα for offering and αναθεμα for curse. Deissmann has found examples at Megara of αναθεμα in the sense of curse. Hence the distinction observed in the N.T. was already in the Koine. Matthew 26:74 has καταθεματιζειν, which is a απαξ λεγομενον in the N.T., though common in the LXX. This word has the notion of calling down curses on one's self if the thing is not true.

Verse 72

Called to mind (ανεμνησθη). First aorist passive indicative. Matthew 26:75 has the uncompounded verb εμνησθη while Luke 22:61 has another compound υπεμνησθη, was reminded.

When he thought thereon (επιβαλων). Second aorist active participle of επιβαλλω. It is used absolutely here, though there is a reference to το ρημα above, the word of Jesus, and the idiom involves τον νουν so that the meaning is to put the mind upon something. In Luke 15:12 there is another absolute use with a different sense. Moulton (Prolegomena, p. 131) quotes a Ptolemaic papyrus Tb P 50 where επιβαλων probably means "set to," put his mind on.

Wept (εκλαιεν). Inchoative imperfect, began to weep. Matthew 26:75 has the ingressive aorist εκλαυσεν, burst into tears.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Mark 14". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.