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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Mark 5

Mark 5:0


The Healing of the Gerasene DemonicA Demon-Possessed Man HealedThe Gerasene DemoniacJesus Heals a Man with Evil SpiritThe Gerasene Demoniac
Mark 5:1-10Mark 5:1-20Mark 5:1-13Mark 5:1-5Mark 5:1-20
Mark 5:6-8
Mark 5:9a
Mark 5:9-10
Mark 5:11-20 Mark 5:11-13
Mark 5:14-20Mark 5:14-16
Mark 5:17
Mark 5:18
Mark 5:19
Mark 5:20
Jairus' Daughter and the Woman Who Touched Jesus' GarmentA Girl Restored to Life and a Woman HealedJairus' Daughter RaisedJairus' Daughter and the Woman Who Touched Jesus' CloakCure of the Woman with a Hemorrhage-The Daughter of Jairus Raised to Life
Mark 5:21-24aMark 5:21-43Mark 5:21-24aMark 5:21-23Mark 5:21-24
Mark 5:24
Mark 5:24-34 Mark 5:24-34
Mark 5:25-28Mark 5:25-34
Mark 5:29-30
Mark 5:31
Mark 5:32-34
Mark 5:35-43 Mark 5:35-43Mark 5:35Mark 5:35-43
Mark 5:36-39
Mark 5:40-41
Mark 5:42-43

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


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

4. Etc.


This chapter is designed to show a typical day in Jesus' life during this public period of His ministry. Jesus' power and authority are demonstrated by

A. Gedarene Demoniac, paralleled in Matthew 8:28-34 and Luke 8:26-39

Verses Mark 5:1-20 (Shows Jesus' power over the spiritual realm)

B. Jairus' daughter, paralleled in Matthew 9:18-19, Matthew 9:23-26 and Luke 8:40-42, Luke 8:49-56

Verses Mark 5:21-24, Mark 5:35-43 (Shows Jesus' power over death)

C. Woman with a hemorrhage, paralleled in Matthew 9:20-22 and Luke 8:43-48

Verses Mark 5:25-34 (Shows Jesus' power over disease)


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. What is demon possession? Can it occur today? Can Christians be affected?

2. Why did Jesus let the hogs be destroyed?

3. Why did the local townspeople send Jesus away?

4. Why did the demoniac have to stay?

5. What does it mean "power had gone out?"

6. Why does Jesus call the dead, "sleeping?"

7. Why does Jesus want to keep the raising of Jairus' daughter a secret?

8. Why did Jesus have an inner circle of disciples?

Verses 1-13

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Mark 5:1-13 1They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. 2When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, 3and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; 4because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. 5Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. 6Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; 7and shouting with a loud voice, he said, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!" 8For He had been saying to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!" 9And He was asking him, "What is your name?" And he said to Him, "My name is Legion; for we are many." 10And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain. 12The demons implored Him, saying, "Send us into the swine so that we may enter them." 13Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea.

Mark 5:1 "They came to the other side of the sea" It was probably still night (cf. Mark 4:35). The disciples had to row the boat since Jesus had completely calmed the winds.

"into the country of the Gerasenes" This is the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee, called Decapolis. This area was mostly Gentile and very Hellenistic. The Synoptic Gospels vary on the spelling : Gerasa (MSS א*, B, D, and Luke 8:26), Gergesa (MSS אcf8 i2, L), Gergusta (MS W), or Gadara (MSS A, C, and Matthew 8:28). All of these were towns in this area.

Mark 5:2 "When He got out" Maybe the disciples heard the screaming (Mark 5:5) and were glad to let Jesus go first!

"immediately" See note at Mark 1:10.

"a man" Matthew 8:28ff has two men. Matthew also has two blind men outside of Jericho (cf. Matthew 20:29; Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35). This is a characteristic of Matthew's Gospel. Mark and Luke agree there was only one demoniac (cf. Luke 8:26ff). For further discussion see Hard Sayings of the Bible pp. 321-322.

"from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him" This is an obvious account of demon possession. The NT does not discuss the origin of the demonic or the detailed procedures on how to deal with them. Exorcism is never listed as a gift of the Spirit. See Special Topics: The Demonic and Exorcism at Mark 1:25.

Mark 5:3 "dwelling among the tombs" They had landed in the area of a local graveyard. The local people had driven a possessed lunatic into this remote area. It had become his home.

"no one was able to bind him anymore" He had supernatural strength.

Mark 5:4 "he had often been bound with shackles and chains" This is a perfect passive infinitive. Apparently the town's people had attempted to chain him. He was a well known local problem.

"had been town apart by him" This also shows his supernatural strength.

Mark 5:5 "screaming. . .gashing himself with stones" This behavior may be linked to expressions of self destruction or to OT pagan worship practices (cf. 1 Kings 18:28). The graphic information about this man's regular behavior must have come from the villagers.

Mark 5:6 "he ran up and bowed down before Him" The first term implies hostility. The second implies respect and acknowledgment of Jesus' position and authority (cf. Mark 5:4b).

Mark 5:7 "shouting with a loud voice he said, 'What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God" One of the demons addresses Jesus. They knew who He was (cf. Mark 1:23; James 2:19). They even address Him with a Messianic phrase. In this case, their motive is fear (unlike Mark 1:23).

"I implore You by God" This was a Hebrew idiom that means "to swear to God."

"do not torment me" This is grammatically either an aorist active subjunctive of prohibition or an aorist active subjunctive functioning as an aorist active imperative, which implies "never start an action" (cf. Barbara and Timothy Friberg's Analytical Greek New Testament, p. 120). The demonic knew that judgment was coming (cf. Mark 1:23-24; Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:10). The parallels in Matthew 8:29 and Luke 8:28 and 31 also imply eschatological judgment. These demons apparently did not know about the two comings of the Messiah. Even "spirits" can suffer!

Mark 5:8, Mark 5:9 "had been saying" The imperfect tense was used primarily in two ways: (1) repeated action in past time or (2) the beginning of an action in past time. In this context only #2 appears to fit. However, if the order of Jesus' statements to the demonic are out of chronological order, then #1 may apply. Mark may be using the tense in a colloquial way because the same tense is also in Mark 5:10.

Mark 5:9 "What is your name" This question could be a Hebraic idiom and refer to their characteristics.

"Legion" In the Roman Army 6,000 troops made up a Legion. This is another of the many Latin terms used in Mark. This may have been a metaphor of the degree of their control over the man. However, because of Mark 5:13, which describes the demons causing the death of 2,000 hogs, it may be literal.

Mark 5:10 "out of the country" This could refer to (1) the area of the tombs; (2) the Decapolis district; or (3) possibly to the Abyss, which is recorded in the parable of Luke 8:31. The Matthew parallel has "before the appointed time" (cf. Matthew 8:29).

25:11 The herd of swine shows it was a Gentile area.

Mark 5:12 "Send us into the swine" Notice that the demons made a request to Jesus. The text does not tell us why Jesus allowed these demons to go into the hogs or why they wanted to. Possibly the demons leaving the man and entering the hogs was a visible way to encourage the man to believe that he was delivered (i.e., a visual aid, similar to putting spit and mud into blind eyes). The demons may have requested it because (1) they preferred hogs to the abyss or (2) this action would cause the townspeople to ask Jesus to leave. Demons do not do things to help Jesus!

Mark 5:13 "they were drowned" This is imperfect passive indicative. They ran off the cliff one after another!

Verses 14-20

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Mark 5:14-20 14Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened. 15They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the "legion"; and they became frightened. 16Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine. 17And they began to implore Him to leave their region. 18As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him. 19And He did not let him, but He said to him, "Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you." 20And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

Mark 5:14 "And the people came to see what it was that had happened" Curiosity and fear motivates the town's people to come, even at night.

Mark 5:15 "sitting down" This is the first in a series of conditions which describe this man's new peace and composure.

"clothed" This implies he was normally unclothed (cf. Luke 8:27).

"in his right mind" Demonic possession manifests itself in many ways

1. cannot speak (Mark 9:17, Mark 9:25; Matthew 9:32)

2. cannot speak or see (Matthew 12:22)

3. epilepsy (Matthew 17:15, Matthew 17:18)

4. great strength (Mark 5:3-4)

5. convulsions (Mark 1:26; Mark 9:20)

6. paralysis (Acts 8:17)

However, not all physical problems are of demonic origin. In the Gospels illness and possession are often differentiated (cf. Mark 1:32, Mark 1:34; Mark 6:13; Matthew 4:24; Matthew 10:8; Luke 4:40-41; Luke 9:1; Luke 13:32).

Mark 5:17 "they began to implore Him to leave their region" This is an aorist middle indicative and a present active infinitive. This rejection was one possible reason the demons wanted to enter the hogs! The townspeople wanted the One who calmed the man that none of them could calm to leave. How different is the village of John 4:0. Apparently economic concerns outweighed this man's restoration.

Mark 5:19 "Go home to your people" This is a present active imperative. Jesus was telling him to go back home. Jesus knew the presence of an apparently Gentile follower would alienate some Jewish people. By staying Jesus now had a witness in this Gentile area. He still cared for these materialists!

"and report to them" This is an aorist active imperative. Share with your people what God has done for you. Apparently he did this well (cf. Mark 5:20). This shows Jesus' care for Gentiles.

Mark 5:20 "Decapolis" This Greek word means "ten cities." It was a confederacy going back to Alexander the Great. This region was north of Perea and east of the Sea of Galilee. It was a haven of Hellenistic culture.

Verses 21-24

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Mark 5:21-24 21When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him; and so He stayed by the seashore. 22One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and on seeing Him, fell at His feet 23and implored Him earnestly, saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live." 24And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him.

Mark 5:22 "One of the synagogue officials named Jairus" His name means "YHWH has enlightened." This was the person in charge of administrative tasks like the maintenance of a synagogue building. He would have been a man of some religious standing in the community.

"fell at His feet" This was a gesture of reverence as well as worship (cf. Mark 5:6, Mark 5:22, Mark 5:33 where different words are used, but the same gesture). An Oriental leader prostrate in the street before an unofficial rabbi would have been very unexpected!

"My little daughter is at the point of death" Matthew 9:18 says she had died. This man believed that Jesus' presence and touch would heal/restore his daughter.

Mark 5:23

NASB, TEV"she will get well" NKJV"she will be healed" NRSV"she may get well" NJB"she may be saved"

This is an aorist passive subjunctive of the term sôzô, used in its OT sense of physical deliverance (cf. James 5:15). In the NT it takes on the sense of spiritual salvation. It is theologically uncertain whether all of the ones Jesus healed were spiritually saved. His actions may have started a process that culminated later in the person's spiritual life and is not recorded in Scripture.

As an example look at this chapter where the demoniac's faith is seen after his being healed, not before. The young girl is helped because of her father's faith and the woman with a bleeding problem was willing to make Jesus ceremonially unclean in a selfish (even superstitious) act of touching a rabbi. Where does self-interest end and faith begin?

Mark 5:24 "pressing in on Him" Luke 8:42 adds that the press of the crowd was so great that it was at the point of being hard to breathe.

Verses 25-34

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Mark 5:25-34 25A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse 27after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. 28For she thought, "If I just touch His garments, I will get well." 29Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 30Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My garments?" 31And His disciples said to Him, "You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?'" 32And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. 33But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction."

Mark 5:25 "hemorrhage for twelve years" This would have made her ceremonially unclean (cf. Leviticus 15:25-27) and, therefore, excluded her from all forms of Jewish worship (i.e., synagogue and temple).

Mark 5:26 "and had endured much at the hands of many physicians" Luke, the physician, leaves this comment out in Luke 8:43ff.

"had spent all she had and was not helped at all" The Jewish cures for this problem listed in the Talmud were (1) carrying the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen rag around one's neck in summer and in a cotton rag in winter or (2) carrying barley corn from the dung of a white female donkey (cf. Shabb. 110 A & B).

Mark 5:27 "touched His cloak" Probably what she touched was His prayer shawl, used by men for covering their heads during worship. It was called the Tallith (cf. Numbers 15:38-40; Deuteronomy 22:12). For a ceremonially unclean woman to touch a rabbi was an inappropriate act. This woman was desperate!

Mark 5:30 "Immediately" See note at Mark 1:10.

"Jesus perceiving in Himself that the power" The exact nature of this power is uncertain. It was obviously from God (cf. Luke 5:17). Jesus felt its affect. Jesus was able to bestow it to others in the missions of the Twelve and the seventy.

"proceeding from Him had gone forth" Matthew 8:17 quotes Isaiah 53:4 that the Messiah would heal us because He bore our infirmities.

"Who touched My garments" There was a great crowd (cf. Mark 5:31). Matthew 9:20 has "tassel." The prayer shawl had thirteen blue tassels, commemorative of the Mosaic Law.

Mark 5:32 "And He looked around" This imperfect tense implies He began to look over the crowd. On this occasion Jesus was not supernaturally informed about who or what had happened. Possibly the question was meant for the woman (i.e., an opportunity to publicly express her faith).

Mark 5:33 "fearing and trembling" Women had such a low place in society. She was reluctant to speak in public. She also knew that since she was ceremonially unclean she was not permitted to touch a rabbi.

Mark 5:34 "'Daughter'" The teachings of Jesus reveal the profound truth that human beings, through faith in Jesus, can become family members of God. Salvation is described in birthing or legal terms, indicating a family relationship. What powerful metaphors for the Christian experience!

"'your faith has made you well'" Not her touch, but acting on her faith in Him was the key. Faith itself is not the issue, but the object of faith (i.e., Jesus). There was nothing magical here, nor was it the power of positive thinking, but the power of Jesus. This is another use of the Greek sôzô in its OT sense (cf. Mark 5:23). Here it is a perfect active indicative, which implied she was healed and remained healed of the physical problem.

"'go in peace and be healed of your affliction'" These are both present active imperatives. The term peace (eirçnç) has the connotation of wholeness and well-being, not just the absence of problems. The term "affliction" is from the root "to whip."

Verses 35-43

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Mark 5:35-43 35While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?" 36But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid any longer, only believe." 37And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James 3:0; James 3:08They came to the house of the synagogue official; and He saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. 39And entering in, He said to them, "Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep." 40They began laughing at Him. But putting them all out, He took along the child's father and mother and His own companions, and entered the room where the child was. 41Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, "Talitha kum!" (which translated means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!"). 42Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. 43And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat.

Mark 5:35 "'has died'" This is aorist active indicative. I am sure Jairus was very impatient! This seems to be a test of his faith or another example of Jesus' power and authority.

Mark 5:36

NASB"overhearing what was being spoken" NKJV"as soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken" NRSV, NJB"overhearing what they said" TEV"Jesus paid no attention to what they said" NIV"ignoring what they said"

The Greek root means "to hear carelessly." It can be understood as "ignore" or "overhear." This term is so ambiguous that very early the scribes changed it to the term "hear" (cf. MSS אa, A, C, D, and K), which is found in the Lukan parallel, 8:50.

"'Do not be afraid any longer'" This is a present imperative with a negative particle which usually means stop an act in process. The opposite of fear is faith!

"'only believe'" This is another present active imperative. Such a simple, but crucial, statement (cf. Acts 16:31).

Mark 5:37 "He allowed no one to accompany Him" Why Jesus had an inner group of disciples (cf. Mark 1:29; Mark 5:37; Mark 9:2; Mark 13:3; Mark 14:33) is uncertain. Mark's Gospel is the eyewitness account of Peter. This inner circle provided no special privileges because James was killed very early.

Jesus did not want His fame as a healer and even one who could raise the dead to be known. This is one of several of these types of statements in Mark, which theologians call "the Messianic Secret" (cf. Mark 5:43). He already had major logistical problems with the large crowds.

"Peter and James and John" This was Jesus' inner circle of disciples (cf. Mark 9:2; Mark 14:33; Matthew 17:1; Matthew 26:37; Luke 9:28).

Mark 5:38 "and people loudly weeping and wailing" These were common, even expected, Jewish funeral practices. It shows that the family was expecting the death of the little daughter and had already made preparations.

Mark 5:39 "'The child has not died, but is asleep'" Sleep was an OT euphemism for death. Jesus uses it of Lazarus in John 11:11. Here it is contrasted with death. One wonders if Mark 5:37 is thought to be a reference to "Mark's Messianic Secret" then why did He say this to the crowd, unless He is trying to reduce the impact (i.e., the resulting rumors) of her being raised?

Mark 5:40 "began laughing at Him" This is an imperfect tense which implies the bystanders continued to laugh for an extended period of time or that they started laughing at this point.

"His own companions" This refers to Peter, James, and John. In many ways Jesus' miracles were as much for the disciples' training and faith as for the people helped!

Mark 5:41 "'Talitha, kum'" This is an Aramaic phrase. The Jews of Jesus' day spoke Aramaic, not Hebrew. This would have been Jesus' mother tongue. There are several Aramaic phrases recorded in the Gospels (cf. Sabbata, Mark 3:4; Boanerges, Mark 3:17; Satan, Mark 3:23, Mark 3:26; Mark 8:33; Talitha cumi, Mark 5:41; Ephphatha, Mark 7:35; Gehanna, Mark 9:43, Mark 9:45, Mark 9:47; pascha, Mark 14:14; Abba, Mark 14:36; Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, Mark 15:34). The fact that Mark translates it shows his target audience was Gentile.

Mark 5:42 "Immediately. . .immediately" See note at Mark 1:10.

"she was twelve years old" This would have meant she was responsible to keep the law (i.e., bath mitzvah) and was of marriageable age. Boys became responsible to the Law and marriageable at age thirteen (i.e., bar mitzvah). The life expectancy was much shorter and generations of families lived together; therefore, they married much younger than today.

Mark 5:43 "gave them strict orders that no one should know about this" Jesus did not want to be known as a healer or miracle worker. He did these activities to reveal God's compassion and validate His message and authority (cf. Mark 1:44; Mark 3:12; Mark 5:43; Mark 7:36; Mark 8:26, Mark 8:30; Mark 9:30; Matthew 8:4; Matthew 9:30; Matthew 12:16; Matthew 17:9).

"He said that something should be given her to eat" This is another eyewitness detail. Jesus shows thoughtfulness for the little girl. This also proves she is truly restored to physical life.

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Mark 5". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". 2021.