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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Mark 6

Verse 1

1 Open country means that where Nazareth was located (Mat 4:13). The reference cited tells that Jesus adopted Capernaum as his residence and many of his mighty works were done there, but he occasionally paid a visit to his boyhood home. Let it be noted that his disciples (apostles) followed him to Nazareth.

Verse 2

2 From whence hath this man these things. Jesus had lived in this town until he was thirty years old and they were intimately acquainted with him. It had been but a little while since he went away, and when he came back and they saw his deeds and heard his teaching it was somewhat puzzling to them.

Verse 3

3 The remarks in this verse were said by way of assuring themselves of the identity of Jesus. A peculiar trait of the human mind has produced a well-known saying, "Familiarity breeds contempt." The citizens seemed to think that one with whom they were so intimately acquainted would be unable to accomplish such a great work. (For comments on brethren see Mat 12:46.)

Verse 4

4 In this verse Jesus merely states the fact commented upon in the preceding verse, without expressing any opinion on it either for or against.

Verse 5

5 Could is from DUNAMAI which Thayer defines, "to be able, have power," and he explains his definition, "whether by virtue of one's own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favorable circumstances (emphasis mine, E. M. Z.),or by permission of law or custom." The words emphasized explain in what sense Jesus could not do much in this place; the circumstances were unfavorable. The fact that he did heal "a few sick folks" shows it was no lack of ability in Jesus.

Verse 6

6 Jesus was divinely inspired and knew all that was in man, hence nothing could surprise him that was done by human beings. The word marvel means that Jesus took special note of the gross unbelief of the people of Nazareth and decided to go elsewhere to do his work.

Verse 7

7 This is sometimes referred to as "the first commission," in contrast with "the great commission" of chapter 16:15, 16. The wisdom of working in pairs is shown by the plan Jesus used in this case. Paul frequently had one or more brethren with him as he went out into the field. Power is from EXOUSIA which means authority or right. It was fitting to use such a word because the unclean spirits were intelligent beings and could logically be addressed by commands.

Verse 8

8 The staff was a walking stick and would be needed from the start, hence they were permitted to provide that. A scrip was the same as a modern lunch basket. They were supposed to be given their necessities by the people among whom they worked on the ground that "the workman is worthy of his meat" (Mat 10:10).

Verse 9

9 Sandals were needed immediately, like the walking stick, therefore they were permitted to provide that before starting, and one coat was placed on the same basis.

Verse 10

0 They were to make only one house stop in each city.

Verse 11

1 Shaking off the dust was an old custom practiced to indicate a feeling of disgust against a person or place; I have no information as to its origin. More tolerable . . . in the day of judgment, not afterwards. To use some everyday language, some people will have a harder time in getting past the judgment than others. The reason is that some have more and better opportunities than others.

Verse 12

2 They means the twelve apostles who went out under the commission as stated in verse 7. Mat 10:7 tells us also that they preached the news that the kingdom of heaven was at hand and that repentance therefore was necessary.

Verse 13

3 They cast out devils by the power or authority that Jesus gave them (verse 7); and performed the other miracles by the same means. Anointing with oil is connected with healing the sick. The significance of that is expressed by one writer by saying, "Its use implied that God was the healer." That is correct, but it does not explain how it does so. The idea is that oil of olives is no active medicine and could not effect a cure of sickness alone. The conclusion would be, then, that a greater power was working in connection with the oil. (See Jas 5:14.)

Verse 14

4 This was Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great. His remarks about Jesus are explained in the note at Mat 14:2 on "transmigration."

Verse 15

5 The writer interrupts his story of Herod to report what some others were saying about Jesus. The same is given in the conversation Jesus had with the apostles when they came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi (Mat 16:13-14).

Verse 16

6 This verse repeats verse 14 with the added statement that Herod beheaded John.

Verse 17

7 The persecution began with the imprisonment of John which was spite work, caused by Herodias whom he had unlawfully married, she being the wife of his brother.

Verse 18

8 John told Herod it was not lawful for him to have this woman. The law that he violated by that marriage is in Lev 18:16; Lev 20:21.

Verse 19

9 John's rebuke especially angered Herodias who would have killed John if she could have done as she felt about it.

Verse 20

0 The original word for feared has a twofold meaning, depending on the way it is used. This entire verse shows a friendly attitude toward John hence it means that Herod respected him. It was this kind of fear that was in the way of the wicked designs of his wife. But as vicious a person as she can plot and accomplish her wickedness by indirect methods as we shall see.

Verse 21

1 Convenient is defined, "seasonable, timely, opportune." The verse means that Herod's birthday furnished a convenient time for the woman to carry out her plot.

Verse 22

2 Herodias knew the lustful character of Herod, a character that explains his willingness to take his own brother's wife unlawfully, and she therefore conceived a plan to capture him. She instructed her daughter to go into the party and dance before the eyes of the men. It is not reasonable to suppose that Herod was a judge of "art" so that the performance of the girl impressed him from that standpoint. Besides, if that were his motive, just an expensive personal gift would have been all that she would have expected. The eastern dances were of a licentious character, displaying the figure in a way to appeal to the lustful eyes of the witnesses. Herod's baser nature was so inflamed that he exceeded all the customs and promised to give the girl anything she might ask.

Verse 23

3 The man was so overcome in his passion that he did not stop with a mere promise, but backed it up with an oath, and also specified the maximum limit to which she could go in her wish which was the half of his kingdom.

Verse 24

4 The damsel had accomplished the satanic effect that her mother planned, and she then went to her for further instructions, and was told to ask for the head of John the Baptist. This verse states the wish in general terms and the next will be more specific to suit the horrible designs of the revengeful woman.

Verse 25

5 Following her mother's instructions the girl came back into the presence of Herod and requested the head of John in a charger or large dish. By having the head in this way the wicked woman would know that she had been successful in her plot.

Verse 26

6 The king was sorry because he knew that John was a righteous man. But his pride of position under the eyes of the guests, together with a false notion of the sacredness of oaths, prevailed over his better judgment and feelings.

Verse 27

7 The executioner went to the prison and beheaded John, which was done with a sword, that being before the days of other mechanical means.

Verse 28

8 The head was brought in a large dish and given to the girl. That would seem to make the deal regular since she was the one who had earned the gift by her immoral performance. Of course she could do as she pleased with the award, hence she gave it to her mother who had plotted the affair.

Verse 29

9 His disciples means the disciples of John. All that was left for them to do was to give respectful and loving attention to the headless body. I have been unable to find any information on what became of the head of this righteous man.

Verse 30

0 The apostles made this report under the commission of verses 7-13.

Verse 31

1 The crowds were so dense that it interfered with their meals. The people kept coming and going until Jesus instructed his disciples to get away for a while.

Verse 32

2 They slipped away from the crowd and took a boat for a desert place.

Verse 33

3 But they did not escape from the eyes of all the people. They saw and recognized Jesus and were determined not to let him get entirely from them. They could not follow him in boats, but went on foot with such speed that they were at the place ahead of him and met him as he landed.

Verse 34

4 When he came out denotes when he left the boat and came ashore. The compassion of the Lord was always one of his ruling principles. His opinion of this mixed throng that had come out of all cities is compared to a flock that has been deserted by the shepherd. Such a group of people would furnish the kind that was hungering and thirsting after righteousness (Mat 5:6), hence it says he began to teach.

Verse 35

5 The disciples finally became concerned about the comfort of the multitude. It was a desert place, which merely means it was not inhabited and hence contained no markets of any kind where food could be purchased.

Verse 36

6 They suggested that Jesus dismiss the people that they might go into the villages round about to buy some food, for they had not brought any such supplies when they came out there.

Verse 37

7 The disciples did not understand how Jesus meant for them to reed them.

Verse 38

8 These few loaves and fishes would not supply even a taste for all the multitude, but the lesson should be gathered that the Lord expects man to do what he can in accomplishing desired results.

Verse 39

9 Sit down by companies means to form groups for the orderly passing of food. Green grass does not grow where there never is any moisture, so the desert does not mean an infertile spot.

Verse 40

0 By hundred and fifties. This was according to the uneven condition of the land, making it more convenient to have smaller groups in some places and larger groups in others, adapting the size of the groups to the surface conditions.

Verse 41

1 Jesus blessed the bread by giving thanks to God for it. The reason for breaking the bread was the same for breaking it in the Lord's Supper, and that was only because more than one person was to partake of it. Jesus handed the pieces of bread to the disciples so they could serve the multitude.

Verse 42

2 Jesus did not satisfy their hunger by performing a miracle on their appetite, for it says they were all filled. The miracle was in multiplying the bread as it was being passed through the crowd.

Verse 43

3 Another proof that no miraculous effect was given to the bread so as to satisfy the hunger, is the fact that they found all these scraps left after the meal.

Verse 44

4 Five thousand men, and Mat 14:21 adds "besides women and children."

Verse 45

5 Bethsaida was a town of Galilee, and Jesus gave his disciples instructions that they were to return by boat to that region, while he remained to dismiss the people so they could return to their homes.

Verse 46

6 Having sent the multitudes away, Jesus retired to a mountain to pray.

Verse 47

7 The boat had been making its way for several hours until evening overtook it. Still later in the night a severe wind came down upon the sea, blowing against the boat so that the rowers were having difficulty with the vessel. Jesus saw the situation and went to their rescue the fourth watch which was 3 A. M.

Verse 48

8 While it was night, it was possible to discern a form coming towards them and they were frightened. They thought it was a spirit which is from PHANTASMA which means some kind of disembodied being with a visible form.

Verse 49

0 The familiar words, "It is I; be not afraid," assured them of their safety.

Verse 51

1 The presence of Jesus in the boat had a quieting effect on the storm. The disciples were baffled by the event and overwhelmed by amazement

Verse 52

2 Heart was hardened means it was stunned to the extent of inaction, forgetting for the time being that Jesus had only a few hours before fed the thousands.

Verse 53

3 Gennesaret was a narrow strip of country on the east shore of Galilee.

Verse 54

4 They means the people of Gennesaret who had seen Jesus before and knew about his great works of compassion on behalf of the unfortunate.

Verse 55

5 The people began at once to gather up the sick folks and carry them in beds to wherever they knew that Jesus was pausing.

Verse 56

6 Streets is from a word that means marketplaces, not an ordinary thoroughfare as one might think. They were centers where people in all the walks of life gathered, and they expected Jesus to be there a part of the time. When he did come he was requested to let the sick people touch his clothing. Such a request was a sign of their faith and Jesus rewarded it by healing them of their diseases.
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Mark 6". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.