Tuesday, March 28th, 2023
the Fifth Week of Lent
the Fifth Week of Lent
There are 12 days til Easter!
Utley's You Can Understand the Bible Utley Commentary
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Mark 3". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ ubc/ mark-3.html. 2021.
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Mark 3". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/
- Henry's Complete
- Clarke Commentary
- Bridgeway Bible Commentary
- Coffman's Commentaries
- Carroll's Biblical Interpretation
- Barnes' Notes
- Bullinger's Companion Notes
- Bell's Commentary
- College Press
- Church Pulpit Commentary
- Smith's Commentary
- Dummelow on the Bible
- Constable's Expository Notes
- Ellicott's Commentary
- Expositor's Dictionary
- Hole's Commentary
- Meyer's Commentary
- Gaebelein's Annotated
- Gann on the Bible
- Morgan's Exposition
- Gill's Exposition
- Everett's Study Notes
- Geneva Study Bible
- Haydock's Catholic Commentary
- Commentary Critical Unabridged
- Gray's Concise Commentary
- Parker's The People's Bible
- Sutcliffe's Commentary
- Trapp's Commentary
- Kretzmann's Commentary
- Lange's Commentary
- Grant's Commentary
- Wells of Living Water
- MacLaren's Expositions
- Henry's Complete
- Henry's Concise
- Poole's Annotations
- Pett's Commentary
- Peake's Commentary
- Preacher's Homiletical
- Poor Man's Commentary
- Benson's Commentary
- Sermon Bible Commentary
- The Biblical Illustrator
- The Expositor's Bible Commentary
- The Pulpit Commentaries
- Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
- Wesley's Notes
- Whedon's Commentary
- Henry's Complete
- Abbott's NT
- Orchard's Catholic Commentary
- Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary
- Contending for the Faith
- Daily Study Bible
- Expositor's Greek Testament
- Family Bible NT
- Godbey's NT Commentary
- Alford's Greek Testament Commentary
- Meyer's Commentary
- Bible Study NT
- Bengel's Gnomon
- People's NT
- Robertson's Word Pictures
- Schaff's NT Commentary
- Vincent's Studies
- Burkitt's Expository Notes
- Daily Study Bible
- Brown's Commentary
- Golden Chain Commentary
- McGarvey'S Commentaries
- Ryle's Exposiory Thougths
- Fourfold Gospel
- Gospels Compared
- Box on Selected Books
- Lapide's Commentary
- Smith's Writings
- International Critical
- Ironside's Notes
- Jones on Mark
- Luscombe's NT Commentary
- Restoration Commentary
- Watson's Expositions
- Derickson on Selected Books
- Utley Commentary
- Kelly Commentary
- Zerr's N.T. Commentary
PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.
1. Why is the setting of Luke different from that of Mark? (Mark 3:22-30)
What does Matthew's account add to Mark's?
2. Why did the religious leaders make these charges against Jesus in this chapter? Did they know better?
3. Why does Jesus try to reason with them?
4. What is "the unpardonable sin?"
5. In what context can the unpardonable sin be committed today? Can one know if he/she has committed it?
6. Is this passage on the unpardonable sin related to 1 John 5:16 or Hebrews 6:0 and 10?
7. How is this sin related to salvation? How is this sin related to the unbelief of Jesus' family?
8. Is blasphemy against Jesus forgivable but not against the Holy Spirit? What is the difference (compare Matthew 12:31-32 to Luke 12:10 and Mark 3:28)?
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Mark 3:1-6 1He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. 2They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 3He said to the man with the withered hand, "Get up and come forward!" 4And He said to them, "Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?" But they kept silent. 5After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.
Mark 3:1 "into a synagogue" This event is paralleled in Matthew 12:9-14 and Luke 6:6-11. The synagogue developed during the Babylonian Exile. It was primarily a place of education, prayer, worship, and fellowship. It was the local expression of Judaism as the Temple was the national focal point.
Jesus attended the synagogues regularly. He learned His Scriptures and traditions at synagogue school in Nazareth. He fully participated in first century Jewish worship.
It is also interesting that Jesus, apparently purposefully, acted in provocative ways on the Sabbath and in synagogue. He intentionally violated the Oral Traditions (i.e., Talmud) of the elders so as to enter into a theological confrontation/discussion with the religious leaders (both local and national; both Pharisees and Sadducees). The best extended discussion of His theology as it deviates from the traditional norms is the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Matthew 5-7, especially 5:17-48).
▣ "hand was withered" This is a perfect passive participle. Luke 6:6 says it was his right hand, which would have affected his ability to work.
Mark 3:2 "They were watching Him" This is imperfect tense. It refers to the ever-watchful presence of the religious leaders.
▣ "if" This is a first class conditional sentence, which is assumed to be true. Jesus did heal on the Sabbath in the synagogue right before their eyes!
▣ "so that they might accuse Him" This is a hina, or purpose, clause. They were not interested in the crippled man. They wanted to catch Jesus in a technical violation so as to discredit and reject Him. Jesus acts out of compassion for the man, to continue to teach His disciples, and to confront the rule-oriented, tradition-bound, self-righteousness of the religious leaders.
NASB"Get up and come forward!" NKJV"Step forward" NRSV"Come forward" TEV"Come up here to the front" NJB"Get up and stand in the middle"
This is literally "Rise into the midst." This is a present active imperative. This was so that everyone could see.
Mark 3:4 The rabbis had a highly developed Oral Tradition (Talmud) which interpreted the Mosaic Law (cf. Mark 2:24). They made rigid pronouncements on what could legally be done or not be done on the Sabbath. One could stabilize an injured person in an emergency, but could not improve his condition. Jesus' question revealed the problem of the priority of their cherished traditions above human needs. This is always true of legalists!
▣ "save" This is the Greek term sôzô. It is used in two distinct ways in the NT: (1) it follows the OT usage of deliverance from physical problems and (2) it is used of spiritual salvation. In the Gospels it usually has the first meaning (cf. Mark 3:4; Mark 8:35a; Mark 15:30-31; even heal, cf. Mark 5:23, Mark 5:28, Mark 5:34; Mark 6:56; Mark 10:52), but in Mark 8:35b; Mark 10:26; Mark 13:13 it might refer to the second meaning. This same double usage is in James (#1 in Mark 5:15, Mark 5:20, but #2 in Mark 1:21; Mark 2:14; Mark 4:12).
▣ "life" This is the Greek word psuchç. It is so hard to define. It can speak of
1. our earthly physical life (cf. Mark 3:4; Mark 8:35; Mark 10:45)
2. our feelings and self-consciousness (cf. Mark 12:30; Mark 14:34)
3. our spiritual, eternal consciousness (cf. Mark 8:36, Mark 8:37)
The difficulty in translating this term comes from its Greek philosophical usage, humans having a soul, instead of the Hebrew concept of humans being a soul (cf. Genesis 2:7).
Mark 3:5 "After looking around at them with anger" Mark's Gospel is the most transparent in recording Jesus' feelings (cf. Mark 1:40-42, Mark 1:43; Mark 3:1-5; Mark 10:13-16, Mark 10:17-22; Mark 14:33-34; Mark 15:34). The deafening silence and moral superiority of the self-righteous religious leaders angered Jesus! This event continues to clarify Mark 2:27-28.
▣ "grieved at their hardness of heart" This is an intensified form of the term grief (lupç) with the preposition sun. It is only used here in the NT. Jesus identified with this man's problem and need as He reacted negatively toward the religious leaders' intransigence. They were unwilling to see the truth because of their commitment to tradition (cf. Isaiah 29:13; Colossians 2:16-23). How often does this happen to us?
The term "hardness" means calcified (cf. Romans 11:25; Ephesians 4:18). See Special Topic: Heart at Mark 2:6.
▣ "restored" This term (i.e., to restore to its original state) implies that the withered hand was an accident, not a birth defect. The non-canonical Gospel of Hebrews records the tradition that he was a mason who had come to ask Jesus to restore his hand so that he could return to work.
Mark 3:6 "The Pharisees went out" Luke 6:11 says "in a rage." This is literally "out of the mind" (cf. 2 Timothy 3:9). See note on Pharisees at Mark 2:16.
▣ "immediately" See note at Mark 1:10.
▣ "began conspiring" This is an imperfect active indicative used in the sense of the beginning of an action in past time. In Mark 3:11 three imperfects are used to show repeated action in past time. These two usages are the major linguistic function of this tense.
▣ "with the Herodians" Normally the very conservative and nationalistic Pharisees would have nothing to do with the politically oriented Herodians who supported the reign of Herod and the Roman occupation.
SPECIAL TOPIC: HERODIANS
▣ "as to how they might destroy Him" These leaders were offended by healing on the Sabbath, but saw no problem in premeditated murder! They probably based this decision on Exodus 31:13-17. Strange things have been rationalized in the name of God. This is surely a foreshadowing of Jesus' death at the hands of the Jewish leadership.
SPECIAL TOPIC: DESTRUCTION (APOLLUMI)
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Mark 3:7-12 7Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, 8and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him. 9And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crowd Him; 10for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him. 11Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, "You are the Son of God!" 12And He earnestly warned them not to tell who He was.
Mark 3:7-8 Jesus' growing popularity was another reason for the opposition from the religious leaders (cf. Matthew 12:15-16; Luke 6:17-19).
Mark 3:8 "Idumea" This refers to the national lands of ancient Edom which was the home area of Herod.
▣ "beyond the Jordan" This refers to the area called Perea in the trans-Jordan region. This was one of three regions identified as responsible to the Mosaic Law (i.e., Judah, Galilee, and the land on the other side of the Jordan [i.e., Perea, cf. Baba Bathra Mark 3:2]). It was officially defined as the land between the Jabbok and Arnon rivers (in the OT, Ammon and Moab).
▣ "the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon" This refers to the ancient kingdom of Phoenicia.
▣ "a great number of people" Apparently these were a mixture of Jews and Gentiles.
Mark 3:9 "a boat" This refers to a small row boat.
▣ "ready for Him all the time" This boat was always available lest the crushing crowd push Him into the sea (cf. Mark 1:45).
Mark 3:10 "pressed around Him" Literally this is "falling against." Every sick person wanted to touch Him (cf. Mark 5:25-34). This crowd looked like the waiting room of a county hospital's emergency room.
Mark 3:11 There is a series of three imperfect verbs in this verse which shows Jesus' ongoing confrontation with the demonic. See SPECIAL TOPIC: EXORCISM at Mark 1:25.
▣ "Son of God" These demons were not witnesses for Jesus' benefit, but to accentuate the crowd's misconceived expectations. This led to the charge in Mark 3:22 that Jesus' power came from Satan (cf. Matthew 9:34; Matthew 10:25; Matthew 11:18). The Jewish leaders could not challenge Jesus' power, so they impugned the source of His authority.
SPECIAL TOPIC: THE SON OF GOD
Mark 3:12 This is the continuing emphasis on "the Messianic Secret" in Mark. Jesus, by word and deed, is fully revealed as the Messiah early in Mark, but because of the misunderstanding of (1) the Jewish leadership (i.e., Messiah as national hero restoring Israel to world prominence) and (2) the crowd (i.e., Messiah as miracle worker), Jesus admonishes several different people not to broadcast their knowledge of Him. The gospel is only finished after His life, death, resurrection, and ascension.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Mark 3:13-19 13And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. 14And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, 15and to have authority to cast out the demons. 16And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), 17and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, "Sons of Thunder"); 18and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot 19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.
Mark 3:13 "He went up on the mountain" This could be understood in two ways: (1) Jesus left the area close by the sea of Galilee and went up into the hill country or (2) this is a prelude to the setting of the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Matt. 5-7), which Mark does not record.
Mark 3:14 "appointed twelve" This is paralleled in Luke's Sermon on the Plain, Luke 6:12-16. Mark does not record Matthew's Sermon on the Mount (i.e., Matt. 5-7).
SPECIAL TOPIC: THE NUMBER TWELVE
Mark 3:14 There is another phrase added to this verse by the ancient Greek uncial manuscripts א, B, and with slight change, in C. The added phrase is "whom he also named apostles" (see footnote in NRSV). Many textual critics assume that this addition is an assimilation from Luke 6:13.
▣ "so that they would be with Him" Jesus was intimately involved in the training of the Twelve. Robert Coleman has authored two helpful books on Jesus' methods: The Master Plan of Evangelism and The Master Plan of Discipleship, both of which deal with the growth of the early church using the same principles as Jesus.
▣ "send them out to preach" Jesus came to preach the good news of the kingdom. He trained His disciples to do the same: (1) the Twelve (cf. Mark 6:7-13; Matthew 10:1, Matthew 10:9-14; Luke 9:1-6) and (2) later, seventy disciples (cf. Luke 10:1-20).
Mark 3:15 "demons" This possibly refers to fallen angels, active on Satan's behalf. However, the Bible is silent on the origin of the demonic. Jesus' authority over them establishes His power and Messianic mission. See Special Topic at Mark 1:24.
Mark 3:16 "He appointed the twelve" The Twelve are mentioned in the NT four times (cf. Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; and Acts 1:13 [identical to Matthew 10:2-4]). The list always appears in four groups of three people. The order often changes within the groups (but Peter is always first and Judas Iscariot is always last). It is possible that these groupings reflect a rotating way of allowing these men to return home from time to time to check on their family responsibilities.
It is amazing how little we know about most of the early Apostles. Early church tradition is often all we have to rely on.
SPECIAL TOPIC: CHART OF APOSTLES' NAMES
▣ "Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter)" Most Jews of Galilee had both a Jewish name (i.e., Simon or Symeon, meaning "hearing") and a Greek name (which is never given). Jesus nicknames him "rock." In Greek it is petros and in Aramaic it is cephas (cf. John 1:42; Matthew 16:16).
Peter is the eyewitness, apostolic source behind the Gospel of Mark. See Introduction for complete notes.
Mark 3:17 "Boanerges. . .Sons of Thunder" Mark translates the Aramaic name for his Gentile (probably Roman) readers. These brothers (i.e., James and John) live up to the nickname in Luke 9:54.
Mark 3:18 "Andrew" The Greek term means "manly." From John 1:29-42 we learn that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist and that he introduced his brother, Peter, to Jesus.
▣ "Philip" The Greek term means "fond of horses." His call is elaborated in John 1:43-51.
▣ "Bartholomew" The term means "son of Ptolemy." He may be the Nathanael of the Gospel of John (cf. John 1:45-49; John 21:20).
▣ "Matthew" The Hebrew term means "gift of YHWH." This is referring to Levi (cf. Mark 2:13-17).
▣ "Thomas" The Hebrew term means "twin" or Didymus (cf. John 11:16; John 20:24; John 21:2).
▣ "James" This is the Hebrew name "Jacob." There are two men named James in the list of the Twelve. One is the brother of John (cf. Mark 3:17) and part of the inner circle (i.e., Peter, James, and John). This one is known as James the less.
▣ "Thaddaeus" He was also called "Lebbeus" (cf. Matthew 10:3) or "Judas" (cf. John 14:22). Both Thaddaeus and Lebbeus mean "beloved child."
NASB, NJB"Simon the Zealot" NKJV"Simon the Canaanite" NRSV"Simon the Cananean" TEV"Simon the Patriot"
The Greek text of Mark has "Cananean" (also Matthew 10:4). Mark, whose Gospel was written to Romans, may not wanted to use the politically "hot-button" word "zealot," which referred to a Jewish anti-Roman guerrilla movement. Luke does call him by this term (cf. Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13). The term Cananean may have several derivatives.
1. of the area of Galilee known as Cana
2. from the OT use of Canaanite as merchant
3. from a general designation as a native of Canaan (also called Palestine)
If Luke's designation is right, then "zealot" is from the Aramaic term for "enthusiast" (cf. Luke 6:15; Acts 1:17). Jesus' chosen twelve disciples were from several different and competing groups. Simon was a member of a nationalistic group which advocated the violent overthrow of Roman authority. Normally this Simon and Levi (i.e., Matthew the tax collector) would not have been in the same room with each other.
Mark 3:19 "Judas Iscariot" There are two Simons, two Jameses, and two Judases. "Iscariot" has two possible derivations: (1) man of Kerioth in Judah (cf. Joshua 15:23) or (2) "dagger man" or assassin, which would mean he also was a zealot, like Simon.
▣ "who betrayed Him" This verb has been colored by John's Gospel's description of Judas (cf. John 6:71; John 12:4; John 13:2, John 13:26-27; John 18:2-5). Originally it simply meant "turn over to authorities" (cf. Mark 1:14). Judas' psychological and/or theological motivation in betraying Jesus is a mystery.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Mark 3:20-27 20And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. 21When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, "He has lost His senses." 22The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons." 23And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! 27But no one can enter the strong man's house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.
Mark 3:20 "He came home" This must refer to the same house as Mark 2:1 and possibly Mark 7:17; Mark 9:38.
▣ "the crowd" This was the result of Jesus' healing and deliverance ministry (cf. Mark 1:45; Mark 2:2, Mark 2:13; Mark 3:7, Mark 3:20).
▣ "that they could not even eat a meal" This was what concerned His family so much. Jesus always had time for needy people. He gave Himself to them.
NASB, NKJV"His own people" NRSV, TEV "his family" NJB"his relations"
Literally this is "those from his side." The KJV has "friends," but apparently this was His mother and siblings.
NASB"to take custody of Him" NKJV"to lay hold of Him" NRSV"to restrain Him" TEV, NJB"to take charge of him"
This is a strong verb in Matthew (cf. Matthew 14:3; Matthew 18:28), but usually not violent in Mark. It often refers to helping sick people rise by taking them by the hand. His family tried to take Him home forcefully because they thought He was acting irrationally (cf. Mark 3:31-35).
NASB"He has lost His senses" NKJV, NJB "He is out of His mind" NRSV"He has gone out of his mind" TEV"He's gone mad"
The Greek text is ambiguous as to who made this statement. Was it the family (i.e., NASB, NKJV, NJB, NIV) or something the family had heard others say (i.e., NRSV, TEV)?
The term in this context means "separated from mental balance" (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:13). It is often used in Mark for people being "amazed" (cf. Mark 2:12; Mark 5:42).
This shows that although Jesus was popular with the crowds, He was misunderstood by (1) His own disciples; (2) the religious leaders; (3) His own family; and (4) the crowds themselves.
Mark 3:22 "The scribes who came down from Jerusalem" This may refer to those mentioned in Mark 2:6, Mark 2:16, who were apparently an official deputation from the Sanhedrin sent to gather information on Jesus' teachings and actions.
▣ "He is possessed by" This meant he was possessed by a demon and derived His power from Satan (cf. Matthew 9:34; John 7:20; John 8:48-52; John 10:20). The same thing was said of John the Baptist (cf. Matthew 11:18). They could not deny Jesus' miracles so they impugned the source of His power and authority.
▣ "Beelzebul" This indeclinable noun is spelled Beelzebub in KJV, but Beelzebul in most modern translations. The "beel" reflects the Semitic word ba'al, which means "lord," "owner," "master," or "husband." It was the name for the fertility storm-god of Canaan.
The "zebul" can mean (1) heights (i.e., mountain or heaven); (2) prince (i.e., Zabul); or (3) dung. The Jews often changed the letters of foreign gods to form a derogatory pun.
If it is "zebub" it could refer to
1. the baal of Ekron (cf. 2 Kings 1:2, 2 Kings 1:3, 2 Kings 1:6)
2. a god of the Philistines, Zebaba
3. an Aramaic word play or pun on "lord of enmity" (i.e., be'el debaba)
4. "lord of the flies" (Aramaic "fly" dibaba)
This spelling, Beelzebub, is unknown in rabbinical Judaism.
For further information on the names for personal evil see The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. 3, pp. 468-473.
▣ "ruler of the demons" The name Beelzebul was not a common name for Satan in Judaism. Jesus uses it as synonymous with Satan in Mark 3:23.
Mark 3:23-26 Jesus showed the logical folly of attributing His power over the demonic to Satan. Obviously a leader against his servants is a disaster!
Mark 3:23 "He called them to Himself" This was to show them (i.e., the scribes of Mark 3:22) that He could read their thoughts (see note at Mark 2:6b). It also gave them one more chance to clearly hear His message.
▣ "parables" The literal meaning of this term (parabolç, used 13 times in Mark) is "to throw alongside." A common occurrence of life is used to illustrate spiritual truth.
Mark 3:24 "if" This is a Third class conditional sentence meaning potential action.
Mark 3:27 "unless he first binds the strong man" This was a veiled Messianic reference to Isaiah 49:24-25. It also showed Jesus' realization that He was stronger than Satan.
The act of exorcism was common in Judaism (cf. Mark 9:38; Acts 19:14). What was uncommon is the power and authority exercised by Jesus versus the magical potions and formulas used by the rabbis. Jesus clearly shows that by His coming Satan is already defeated! Augustine even quoted Mark 3:24 as evidence that the promised millennium was already present (i.e., amillennialism).
This verse is often used today as a proof-text for "binding" Satan from Christian meetings. This text cannot function as a precedent for Christians praying against Satan. Believers are never instructed to address Satan. This verse has been turned into a superstitious mantra which is totally out of character with the NT.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Mark 3:28-30 28"Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" 30because they were saying, "He has an unclean spirit."
Mark 3:28 "Truly" This is literally "amen." Jesus' initial use of "truly" is unique. It usually precedes a significant statement.
SPECIAL TOPIC: AMEN
▣ "all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter" This showed the scope of God's grace in Christ. The phrase "the sons of men" is the normal Semitic idiom referring to human beings (cf. Psalms 8:4; Ezekiel 2:1).
Mark 3:29 "but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit" This must be understood in its pre-Pentecostal historical setting. It was used in the sense of God's truth being rejected. The teaching of this verse has commonly been called "the unpardonable sin." It must be interpreted in light of the following criteria:
1. the distinction in the OT between "intentional" and "unintentional sins," (cf. Numbers 15:27-31)
2. the unbelief of Jesus' own family contrasted with the unbelief of the Pharisees in this context
3. the statements of forgiveness in Mark 3:28
4. the differences between the Gospel parallels, particularly the change of "son of man," (cf. Matthew 12:32; Matthew 12:32; Luke 12:10) to "sons of men," (cf. Matthew 12:31; Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:28).
In light of the above, this sin is committed by those who, in the presence of great light and understanding, still reject Jesus as God's means of revelation and salvation. They turn the light of the gospel into the darkness of Satan (cf. Mark 3:30). They reject the Spirit's drawing and conviction (cf. John 6:44, John 6:65). The unpardonable sin is not a rejection by God because of some single act or word, but the continual, ongoing rejection of God in Christ by willful unbelief (i.e., the scribes and Pharisees).
This sin can only be committed by those who have been exposed to the gospel. Those who have heard the message about Jesus clearly are the most responsible for its rejection. This is especially true of modern cultures that have continual access to the gospel, but reject Jesus (i.e., America, western culture).
For the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Trinity see Special Topic following.
SPECIAL TOPIC: THE PERSONHOOD OF THE SPIRIT
▣ "never has forgiveness" This statement must be interpreted in light of Mark 3:28.
▣ "but is guilty of an eternal sin" This was a willful rejection of the gospel (i.e., the person and works of Jesus) in the presence of great light!
There are many variants related to the phrase "an eternal sin." Some ancient Greek manuscripts
1. changed it to a genitive phrase (i.e., hamartias) C*, D, W
2. added "judgment" (i.e., kriseôs) A and C2 (cf. KJV)
3. added "torment" (i.e., kolaseôs), minuscule 1234
It was shocking to the early scribes to talk about an "eternal sin."
The UBS4 gives "an eternal sin" a B rating (almost certain).
SPECIAL TOPIC: ETERNAL
SPECIAL TOPIC: Exegetical Procedures for Interpreting "The Unpardonable Sin"
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Mark 3:31-35 31Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. 32A crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, "Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You." 33Answering them, He said, "Who are My mother and My brothers?" 34Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, "Behold My mother and My brothers! 35For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother."
Mark 3:31-35 These verses are related to Mark 3:21. There is an obvious contrast between the ignorant, but compassionate, unbelief of Jesus' family (cf. John 7:5) and the willful, hostile unbelief of the religious leaders. Jesus specifically states that God's will is belief in Himself (cf. John 6:40; John 14:6).
Mark 3:33 "'Who are My mother and My brothers'" This shocking question shows Jesus self-understanding and the radical nature of biblical faith that can only be described in terms of a new birth, a new family. Family life was such an important aspect of Jewish life that to use these family terms for fellow believers is significant. Believers relate to deity as family members; God is Father, Jesus is the unique Son and Savior, but we, too, are children of God.
Mark 3:35 "'For whoever does the will of God'" Faith in Christ is God's will for all humans (cf. John 1:12; John 3:16; John 6:40; John 14:6; 1 John 5:12, 1 John 5:13). See Special Topic: The Will of God at 1 Peter 2:15. Notice the inclusive, universal invitation to respond in faith to Jesus and His message.