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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Mark 1

Verse 1

1 Mark was not one of the apostles, but was inspired to write an account of the life of Christ. He is mentioned a few times in the New Testament which will be noticed as we come to them. Beginning of the gospel is his introduction to the story of Christ, indicating the point in the history at which he was to begin his book.

Verse 2

2 This verse states the beginning point that was referred to in the preceding verse, that it was the time when Jesus was ready to start in his public work. But since that was to be preceded immediately by the work of the forerunner, John the Baptist, the author opens his story with several verses about that great man. This verse cites a prophecy in Malachi 1, referring to John the Baptist as a messenger to go before the face of Christ to prepare the way for him.

Verse 3

3 See comments on Mat 3:1 for the explanation of wilderness.

Verse 4

4 Baptism of repentance denotes that baptism was caused by sincere repentance. (See Mat 3:7-8.) For is from EIS and means in order to remission of sins.

Verse 5

5 All the land of Judea means that people came to John from all that country, not that every person was baptized. Confessing their sins was the verbal evidence that they had repented, and submission to baptism was the active evidence.

Verse 6

6 See the comments at Mat 3:4 for explanation of this verse.

Verse 7

7 This is John's first mention of the one who was to follow him. The reference to shoes is an allusion to the customs of that time. Loose sandals were worn in foot travel and upon entering a home they were removed and taken charge of by a servant. By way of illustration John regarded himself as unworthy even to unfasten the shoes of the one mightier than he.

Verse 8

8 With is from EN and means "in," referring to the element in which the persons were baptized. The baptism of the Holy Ghost was to be performed by the one coming after John and that was Christ. He was to give the Holy Ghost (Spirit) in overwhelming measure to his apostles to "guide them into all truth" (Joh 16:13).

Verse 9

9 The preceding eight verses (Mar 1:1-8) concludes the introduction referred to in Mar 1:1. This and the next verse includes both John and Jesus, which will be all that Mark will record directly of the work of John, and any reference that may be made to him will be as a matter of history. In those days denotes that while John was to come before Jesus, yet their introduction to the world was to be virtually at the same time. Jesus came from Nazareth where he had lived since the return of his parents with him from Egypt (Mat 2:23). The reason for his baptism is explained in Mat 3:13-15.

Verse 10

0 If Jesus came up out of the water, then he had gone down into it. That was made necessary for the body to be baptized which was done by immersion. He (John) saw the Spirit descending upon him (Jesus). John had been previously told that he would see such a thing take place (Joh 1:33).

Verse 11

1 The voice from heaven was that of God, who openly recognized Jesus as his Son after he had been baptized, and he also added the important truth that he was well pleased in his Son.

Verse 12

2 Having been recognized formally as the Son of God, Jesus would not enter into his work until he had been tested. The word spirit always comes from the same Greek word, whether good or evil spirits, human or divine spirits, are meant; the connection here shows it means the Holy Spirit. Driveth is from EKBALLO which Thayer defines at this place, "to command or cause one to depart in haste." This is virtually the same in meaning as Matthew's statement that Jesus was "led up of the Spirit" (Mat 4:1).

Verse 13

3 This verse gives a general summing up of the different things that took place with Jesus in those forty days: for the details see Mat 4:1-11. Gospel of the kingdom means good news that the kingdom of heaven was about to be set up.

Verse 14

5 Time is fulfilled means the predictions of the start of the kingdom of God as to time had been fulfilled. On that ground Jesus commanded them to repent and believe the gospel. Why did he put repentance before belief? A fuller statement on the same subject is in Act 20:21. The work of John and Jesus was among the Jews only. They were still under the Mosaic system in which God was the only personality they were supposed to serve. But they had become slack toward God and were obligated to repent on behalf of Him, then come with clean hands to the new system and believe the Gospel. It was like telling a debtor to pay up his old debts before asking a new creditor to accept him.

Verse 16

6 This Simon was Simon Peter according to Mat 4:18, who, with his brother Andrew, was the first man called from his secular occupation to travel with Jesus bodily over the country and to be with him constantly.

Verse 17

7 Using their own occupation as a basis for his figures of speech, Jesus compared the proposed work of these men with what they had been doing. They were still to be fishers, but were to fish after men with the bait of the Gospel.

Verse 18

8 They could not use their temporal nets in the new business and hence had to forsake them. Their interest was indicated by their straightway forsaking the nets.

Verse 19

9 James and John were the ones elsewhere called "Zebedee's children."

Verse 20

0 All of these men were only required to come along with Jesus. No initiation act was required of them because John had already baptized them. We know that he was to prepare a people for Christ, and Jesus accepted these men as they were which shows that they had been made ready for his service. John had but one method of preparing men for Christ which ended with baptism. So we must conclude these men had been baptized by John the Baptist to await service under Christ.

Verse 21

1 Capernaum was a city on the shore of Galilee, and Mat 4:13 tells us that Jesus made it his dwelling place. He entered the synagogue on the sabbath because there would be people there whom he could teach. For more information about synagogues see the information offered in connection with Mat 4:23.

Verse 22

2 This verse is explained at Mat 7:28-29.

Verse 23

3 The man with an unclean spirit was possessed with a devil. This subject is considered at length at Mat 8:28.

Verse 24

4 Of course we must understand that the devil did his talking with the mouth of the victim which is signified by the expression "possessed with the devil." Note that references to this devil are in both the singular and plural numbers. That is because though there might be a legion of them within a man (chapter 5:5-13), there would be one as spokesman. The devil knew Jesus because he had once been with him in heaven but was cast out because of sin (2Pe 2:4; Jud 1:6; Luk 10:18). It was not surprising, then, that they did not want anything to do with Jesus.

Verse 25

5 Jesus rebuked him and not the man, for the being possessed with a devil was an affliction and not a. fault. The devil not only was commanded to come out of the man, but to make no remarks about the situation.

Verse 26

6 Cried with a loud voice may seem to contradict the statements in the preceding paragraph. No, this cry was forced from the victim by the injury which the devil inflicted on him as he was coming out.

Verse 27

7 People had been known to be possessed with devils for some years, but until the time of Christ no one was able to expel them. And notice that it was not done by any bodily contact, but solely by the authority of Jesus which was so great that when he commanded the devils they obeyed. No wonder the people were amazed and started to talk about it among themselves.

Verse 28

8 An event like the casting out of devils without any apparent means would be reported by everyone who heard about it. As a result the fame of Jesus spread at once throughout Galilee which was the district in which Capernaum was located.

Verse 29

9 Jesus and the first four disciples whom he called entered into the home of Simon and his brother.

Verse 30

0 Simon Peter was a married man for mention is made of his wife's mother. This does not harmonize with the doctrine of Rome which denies the right of marriage to all of the clergy. It is replied that Peter left his wife so that he could be qualified to serve in the capacity of head of the church. That also contradicts the scripture, for 1Co 9:5 tells us that he was leading his wife about with him, and that was in Paul's day. Anon they tell him of her means they told him of the case of sickness as soon as he entered into the house.

Verse 31

1 The only physical thing that Jesus did was to lift up the woman with his hand. But that act alone would not have recovered her, for any man could have done that. And the encouraging act of lifting her from the bed did not merely give her an imaginary impulse as a "shot in the arm" might cause, but she was able to minister to the group which would require something more than nervous will power.

Verse 32

2 This verse includes regular diseases and also the being possessed with devils which shows there was a difference between the two kinds of afflictions. The presence of devils sometimes caused diseases similar to those to which mankind was always subject, but such cases could be cured only by casting out the devils.

Verse 33

3 Jesus was still in the home of Peter and his brother where he had healed the mother of Peter's wife, also had recovered others of their afflictions. This caused such a stir throughout the city that great crowds gathered at the door.

Verse 34

4 Divers diseases means many kinds of diseases. Suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. These devils would not have deserved any credit for proclaiming the divinity of Christ; that is, it would not have been an act of faith but of knowledge. They made such a declaration once and were rebuked for it (verses 24, 25), and Jesus still was not willing to be upheld by such characters.

Verse 35

5 Jesus was human as well as divine, and therefore he preferred to be alone with his Father at certain times. There is a foolish theory that Jesus and God are one in person. If that were true, to whom did he pray in that solitary place? The theory breaks down under the weight of its own absurdity.

Verse 36

6 Jesus was not allowed to be alone very long. Since he went out there a great while before day it is reasonable to say that as soon as it came the usual hour to arise, Peter discovered his absence and he took his group and went in search of him.

Verse 37

7 They did not know exactly where he was for it says when they had found him. They told Jesus that all men were seeking for him, but the motive for their search is not revealed by the text.

Verse 38

8 The main purpose of Jesus in his personal ministry was to preach the good news of the kingdom. The working of miracles was one of the "side lines" of his mission, performed to give testimony to the genuineness of his teaching. Because of that he stated that they should go into other towns to preach, and that he had come out into the world for that purpose.

Verse 39

9 The Jews would be gathered in their synagogues to read the Scriptures and perform other acts of worship. That gave Jesus an opportunity to preach the good news, then back up his authority by casting out devils or other miraculous works.

Verse 40

0 Leprosy was an incurable disease and a man afflicted with it was required to live apart from society (Lev 13:45-46). This leper had been convinced by the other miracles of Jesus that he could also heal him of leprosy if he was willing.

Verse 41

1 Leprosy was contagious only by physical contact, therefore when Jesus touched the leper he proved his faith in the power that the Father had given him. In connection with the physical contact he also uttered the word of cleansing.

Verse 42

2 As soon as he had spoken the man was cleansed from his leprosy. This denotes that his physical contact would not have been necessary as far as the healing was concerned. We should note that Jesus did not require a period of time for his accomplishment but did it immediately. Modern so-called faith healers must have an indefinite period, telling their patients that "it takes time," and that if their faith "holds out" they will be healed. This proves that all such "faith-cure" persons are frauds.

Verse 43

3 The next verse will show what this charge was and why it was given.

Verse 44

4 Leprosy was incurable by any natural means, but it could be cured by miracle, such as the case of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. And when a Jew had been cured of the disease physically, he was still required to perform certain services for his ceremonial cleansing which included the offering of sacrifices and other materials. That is what Jesus meant that this man should offer for his cleansing. (See Lev 14:1.)

Verse 45

5 This verse indicates why the man was told not to report his case to any man. The people were so worked up over it that they interferred with the work of Jesus and caused him to go into desert places which were those not populated.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Mark 1". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/mark-1.html. 1952.