Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/The Gospel of Mark/Chapter 1

Mark 1: An Overview edit

When looking at the first chapter of the book of Mark one of the first things that jumps off the page is the quick pace with which the author is writing. We see this from the very beginning of the text where the author jumps right into the story. No birth narrative or genealogy like we see in other gospels but straight to the text regarding John which leads directly to the baptism of Jesus.

As the story continues it is important to look at the baptism and temptation sections found in versus nine through thirteen. Many questions arise when reading these versus. For instance verse nine opens by saying, “At that time”, well it would be nice to note what time this really was, when did it take place and what was going on around this event. Beyond that it would be interesting to compare the baptism experience with the other gospels and see both similarities and differences.

It is at this point where we see another pretty drastic shift in story. Verse twelve says, “At once the Spirit sent him into the desert”. It would be interesting to know what the text is really trying to communicate here. Beyond the text states that Jesus is getting ready to engage in a time of tempting from Satan but does not go into detail about that encounter. It would be interesting to know why the author told us about the event without telling of the event, and what in fact this event can tell us about Jesus and his earthly ministry.

Again we see a shift in the discourse as the author shift quickly to John being in jail and the beginning of Jesus earthly ministry. We quickly see the calling of the disciples. In starting His ministry Jesus declares that the “Kingdom of God” is near. I think this is a key phrase in this section of the text and think it is important that we start by understanding just what Jesus was trying to say at this point in the text. When talking about the “Kingdom of God”, what exactly did He mean?

Finally one of the things that stands out is that Jesus was a healer. In this fast moving book one of the things we notice is that Jesus in three of the next four sections takes part in some kind of healing. This would seem to set a tone for the gospel, a tone that the author seems to make intentional, that Jesus is a healer, and as such He is a man of action. In this first chapter we do not see a lot of discourse or teaching, but a man of action who isn’t afraid to get His fingers dirty.

Passage of Mark 1:23-45 edit

23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching-and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. 29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. 32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else-to the nearby villages-so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. 40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” 41 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing.” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. 43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for you cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

Overview by Rita Fields edit

According to the NIV new adventure Bible Mark was written by John Mark to people in the Roman Empire who did not understand how the Jews lived. It shows who Jesus is by showing what He did. The first chapter of Mark starts out with stating that John the Baptist came to show the way before Jesus. Then Jesus was baptized by John and called his disciples. He then starts preaching, healing people, and casting out demons. Jesus was new at the time and everyone wanted to hear Him preach. He was good and as stated in verse 22 He spoke with authority which was not like their teachers. He was different. Because Jesus was different I believe it is why He was never fully accepted by the Pharisees and Sadducees and part of the Jewish population. Also the fact that He claimed to be God and God’s Son did not help because everyone else did not believe that. Chapter 1 is current with the rest of the book because it introduces how Jesus got started after John the Baptist and then starts off with stories. The whole book is showing who Jesus is by what He has done so it does not waste time getting started.

Summary by Rita Fields edit

The summary of the chapter will start in verse 23 and continue to the end. There was a man in the synagogue that was possessed by an evil spirit. He yelled to Jesus what do you want with us, I know who you are, the Holy One of God!” Jesus gets mad because at that point he doesn’t want anybody to know who He is. Jesus told the demon to come out of the man and in doing so he shook the man violently and made him shriek. The people were amazed that he could command the evil spirits and news spread all over the region about Jesus. Then Jesus went to Simon’s and Andrew’s house where Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed. Jesus helped her out of bed and then she was fine and started serving everyone. That night the town watched as Jesus healed the sick and drove out demons. The next morning when Jesus got up He went to be alone to pray. Simon found Jesus and said “everyone is looking for you.” Jesus wanted to go to different towns, so they did and he preached and drove out demons everywhere he went. There was a man with leprosy that wanted to be healed and asked Jesus. Jesus had compassion on him and healed him, but told the man not to tell anyone. Jesus just wanted the man to give the right sacrifices. But the man went and told people anyway so Jesus could not go into towns because everyone wanted to be healed. He went to be in lonely places and even then still people came to Him to be healed.

Mark 1: A Paraphrase by Shaun Mattson edit

1-8 – This is the beginning of the good news about the man Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. The prophet Isaiah wrote this: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” “a voice of one calling in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” John came fulfilling what the prophet Isaiah had said so long ago. John baptized in the dessert region preaching the message of a baptism that signified asking forgiveness of God and in turn God’s forgiveness of our sins. People from all over the Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. There they confessed their sins and were baptized by John in the Jordan River. John’s clothing consisted of camel’s hair, and a leather belt around his waist. His meals consisted of locusts and wild honey. It was in this context that John preached this message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, whose thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

9-13 – At this time during John’s ministry Jesus came from Nazareth which was in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up from the water He saw what looked like the sky splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending upon him I what looked like a dove. While this was happening Jesus heard a voice that came from heaven saying: You are my son, I love you and I am oh so proud of you. At once the Holy Spirit sent Jesus to the desert for a time of forty days. It was here in the wild that Jesus was tempted by Satan. During this time the angels attended to Jesus.

14-20 – Awhile later John was arrested and put into prison. At this time Jesus went into Galilee, preaching about God. The time for God to act has come, His kingdom is near, so everyone must repent and believe in God’s good news. One time as Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he noticed Simon, who was later known as Peter, and his brother Andrew fishing, for that is what they did for a living. Upon seeing them Jesus called to them and said to them, Come and follow me, and I will make you a fisher of men.” Right there and then the two dropped there nets and followed Jesus. As they continued walking down the shore, Jesus saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat getting their nets ready for fishing. Just as he had done before, Jesus called for them to come and follow him. Without delay the two men left their father with the other workers and followed Jesus.

21-28 – Jesus and those that followed him went to Capernaum. On the Sabbath Jesus went to the synagogue and while there he began to teach. People who heard his teaching there were amazed, what they saw was a man who taught with authority and anointing. While he was there teaching a man who was processed by a demon interrupted Jesus saying, “What do you want with us, Jesus? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are and what you have come to do, you are God’s holy one!” “Be quiet!” Jesus passionately commanded him. “Get out of him now!” At this the demon sent the man into a violent spasm attack, and while screaming it finally came out of the man. Surprised, shocked and intrigued by what they had just seen the people began to ask each other, "What is going on?" They talked of Jesus' new teaching that not only talks the talk but has the power to walk the walk, and how this man can even command demons, and they do what he says. As one can imagine, news about Jesus spread quickly in the entire region.

Paraphrase by Rita Fields edit

23 So then a man in Capernaum’s synagogue who was possessed with a demon yelled, 24 “What do you want, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to kill us? I know you-the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus strongly. “Come out of him, right now!” 26 The demon made the man convulse and scream before the demon left the man. 27 The crowd watching was so shocked and in awe that they asked each other, “What just happened? He is new at this and even the demons obey him, he must have power and authority!” 28 Word of mouth got around quickly in the whole area about Jesus. 29 Everyone left the synagogue and Jesus’s group of friends went with him to Simon Peter’s, and his brother Andrew’s, house. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a fever. 31 Jesus went to her and helped her stand up. Once she was up she was perfectly fine and the fever was all gone. 32 That night people from the town wanted Jesus to heal the sick and cast out demons. They brought people to Him, 33 everyone was there. 34 Jesus healed many people and drove out demons, but the demons knew Him, so He would not let them talk. 35 The next morning, Jesus went off to be alone to pray. 36 Simon went to look for Jesus and 37 when he had found him said “Everyone is looking for you? Where have you been?” 38 Jesus answered, “We should go from town to town and get out of here so I can preach to everyone. After all that is why I came in the first place.” 39 So Jesus did just that. Casting out demons and preaching in synagogues while He traveled. 40 Jesus was out healing when a man came to him and asked, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” 41 Jesus touched the man’s hand and said, “I am willing, be clean!” 42 The leprosy was gone that instant. 43 Before the man went away Jesus cautioned, 44 “Be sure not to tell anyone what has happened. Go, show yourself to the priest thought and give the sacrifices commanded by Moses to be a testimony.” 45 But the man went out anyway and began telling everyone. Because of that man Jesus could no longer go into towns, but stayed away where it is lonely. People still came to him in masses though.

Mark 1:1-8: Structural Display edit


Mark 1:23-45: Structural Display edit


Mark 1: A Survey of Text Critical Issues edit

Summary from Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London: United Bible Societies, 1971), 73-77.

v. 1: [Son of God]?
v. 2: in [Isaiah] the prophet[s]?
v. 4: [the one] [while] baptizing in the desert?
v. 8: with water / with water?
v. 8: with the Holy Spirit [and fire]?
v. 11: [came] from the heavens / [he heard] a voice from the heavens?
v. 14: gospel [of the kingdom]?
v. 21: [when he had entered] into the synagogue, he was teaching?

Mark 1: Word Studies edit

Add here

a about after ahead all along also am amazed an and Andrew angels another answered anyone apart appeared are around arrested as asking astounded at authority away baptism baptize Be beasts because bed began begging beginning believe Beloved belt boat brother brought but by called came camel’s can Capernaum cast choose Christ city clean cleansing clothed come commands companions confessing convulsing could country countryside cried crying cured dark days demons descending deserted destroy diseases do door dove down drove entered even every Everyone fame farther father fever fish fishermen Follow for forgiveness forty found freely from fulfilled Galilee gathered go God good got hair hand has have he heaven her him hired his Holy honey house hunted I If immediately in into is Isaiah it James Jerusalem Jesus John Jordan Judean just kept kingdom kneeling knew know leather left leper leprosy Let lifted like little locusts longer Lord loud made make man many may me men mending message messenger more morning Moses mother-in-law Moved my Nazareth near neighboring net new no not nothing Now obey of offer on once openly or out passed paths people permit pity place pleased possessed powerful prayed prepare priest proclaim prophet quarter rebuked region repent river sabbath said sandals Satan saw say scribes sea searching See sending sent serve she show sick silent Simon Simon’s sins so son soon speak spirit spread stayed sternly still stoop straight stretched sundown surrounding synagogue taught teaching tempted testimony than that the their them then there they this thong those throughout time to told took torn touched town unclean untie up us various very voice waist waited warning was water way well went were what when while who whole wild wilderness will with word worthy would written you your yourself Zebedee

Thoughts on the passage by Rita Fields edit

In verse 24 the man with the evil spirit talks and says who Jesus is, “the Holy One of God.” At this time Jesus does not want the people to know who He is so He tells the man to “be quiet.” Again in verse 34 He wouldn’t let the demons speak because they knew who He was. This seems to be a recurring theme. In verse 26 the demon made the man convulse and cry out. In today’s world it seems like we claim everything to be a disease or medical condition. I personally think some things are and are not demons, but what happened to the man in the passage sounds a lot like a seizure to me and always has every time I read the passage. It also sounds like Turrets Syndrome where people hit themselves and seriously beat themselves up. They sometimes yell words and cannot think. On the Oprah show, a kid with Turrets says people with Turrets can’t think because they have so many thoughts in their heads, or they just cannot stop thinking. There is no rest. They say they want to stop, but cannot control themselves, they just do it. I also thought it was interesting that the NIV Bible doesn’t have any of Jesus’s names or he’s capitalized. Although at the time Mark didn’t think the name was sacred I guess even though the Bible says it is in Leviticus 22:2. In verse 41 of Mark how do we know that Jesus was filled with compassion? Did he tell someone? Did someone ask him? He is not the one writing this story, Mark is; so how do we know Mark is telling us the right thing? Could a person tell what Jesus was feeling just by looking at his face, the look on his face?

Parallelled Passages from Mark 1:23-45 edit

Key edit

  • Blue highlighted passages are in Matthew, Mark, and Luke
  • Yellow passages are in both Matthew and Mark
  • Green means passages are in Mark and Luke
  • Red highlighting means passages are in both Matthew and Luke
  • Solid highlighting is word for word
  • Broken highlighting is not exact, but close, or means the same thing

Passages edit

Jesus Heals Many edit


Some of the differences noted between these stories are that it looks like they are all independently writing. It doesn't look like any of them copy each other. In fact with all four parallels I have found Mark and Luke are amazingly similar. In this passage Jesus heals many Luke is still similar to Mark, but has almost twice as many words to explain the story. I also thought that an interesting fact is that Mark chose to make the passage, where Jesus goes to be alone to pray, a separate story and Luke adds it on to the end of this one. The similarities between all three passages are mainly that the mother-in-law has a fever and that later in the night/day the town brought sick people to Jesus to be healed. Those are really just the main points of the story and all the rest of the information is just filler. I definitely think that the story should be titled The Healing of Simon's Mother-in-Law. That seems to be the story with the healing of many at the very end with not very many details. Matthew is also the only one with a reference to Isaiah, how Jesus took our infirmities and carried our diseases.

The Man with Leprosy edit


These three stories are almost all identical, in story and in length. Some differences are Mark starts out right with the story whereas Matthew says where Jesus was coming from and Luke states where Jesus is now. All three also end differently, Matthew stops with the story short, Mark and Luke both talk about how Jesus stayed out of town, but people still came to Him. Mark says that because the man told Jesus had to withdraw, He could no longer enter a town openly, or basically be normal. Luke says that crowds came to Him and He withdrew, like it was the crowds fault. Mark sounds like He wants to be there and cannot so the people come to find Him. I definitely feel that Mark makes us feel bad for Jesus because He couldn't go into town and was lonely, I don't think it was on purpose although it could definitely have been. In Mark it also makes us like Jesus earlier in the story. He was filled with compassion to heal the man. That is for sure a statement to question because we don't know how Mark knows what Jesus feels like, unless it was totally obvious and written all over His face.

Jesus Drives out an Evil Spirit edit


This is of course just in Mark and Luke. As you can see they are very similar using almost all the same exact wording in the same exact order. If I had to pick who copied from whom I would say Luke copied Mark. As you read them it just sounds like that, like he took some and changed other parts slightly.

Jesus Prays in a Solitary Place edit


In Luke this story had no name because it was put with the story before it although they are clearly similar, like the same story, but at the same time very different still. First Mark is five verses and Luke is two. Second they both have almost no exact matching phrases. In Mark is sounds like Jesus went out to be alone to pray. In Luke it sounds like Jesus wanted to be away from all the people and then they came looking for Him. In Mark it sounds like when they find Jesus he is done praying and ready to go versus Luke where they tried to keep Him there and He wanted to leave. Although I think that when the verse says "they tried to keep Him them" it meant the town He was in. It sounds as if Jesus was mean and said, "Let's just leave and get out of this town to move on." Although it was probably just the writer's style.

Items to develop more based on parallels formed edit

  1. I did notice 2 passages were in all three synoptic gospels.
  2. 2 were only in luke and mark
  3. There were none in John
  4. The man with leprosy passage is almost identical with all three gospels and even more so in luke and mark. Why is that?
  5. Did they really write off each other? If so, who wrote off whom?
  6. The bottom 3 passages were all in the same order and like they had copied it, especially in parts, but not exactly.
  7. When Jesus heals many the story from Matthew is very short especially compared to the one in Luke.
  8. Along with that there weren’t many things to match even in all 3 passages. This story just had the basic guide, but was mostly different.
  9. Again though Mark and Luke are way similar, but it’s really hard to tell who is copying the other, unless they are both copying a 3rd source which would make much more sense to me.
  10. When Jesus goes to be alone and pray the story in Luke is combined with when Jesus heals many. Why did Mark make it a separate story?
  11. I also thought it was interesting that when Jesus heals the leper in Mark it says He felt compassion. How does Mark know that?
  12. Did Jesus tell Mark, someone else, or everyone how He felt? Did Jesus tell someone?
  13. How do we know Mark is telling us the right thing? That he is not making it up?
  14. Could everyone just look at Jesus’s face and you could tell His emotion? How about only His closest friends?
  15. Does this mean that Mark was close with Jesus? Or not at all?
  16. Does Mark want to be close to Jesus if he’s not?
  17. In the first story all the authors use the words demon possessed, but later in a different one Mark and Luke use evil spirit. Is there a difference there at all? Is it a big one?
  18. I think it’s interesting that Simon’s mother-in-law is not the title of the story even though she was the main event. I do understand women were not considered as highly as men, but she can’t even get the title?
  19. Ooh, I think it’s really interesting that the demons all seem to say “I know who you are!” Well of course they do because they were at one point angels and it seems like they do not regret going away from God.
  20. It seems like the demons enjoy doing whatever job they have because the demon in casting out the evil spirit says “What do you want with us? Have you come to destroy us?” Like he is scared, but still wants to do the dirty work.
  21. That also sounds like the demon is talking about all the demons when he says us and maybe he was thinking it was the end times already because Jesus was back, although that is unlikely because Jesus wasn’t here a time before that.
  22. In that same story in Luke I thought it was funny when I first read it that they author wrote the man was possessed by a demon, an evil spirit, as if all demons aren’t evil spirits.
  23. In all of the parallels Matthew is the only one to quote anything, but especially the Old Testament, Isaiah.
  24. In the story where Jesus goes to pray in Mark it sounds like he wants to be alone just to get some privacy as well as peace and quite.
  25. In Luke it says that once the people had found Him they tried to stop Him from leaving, but in Mark it just says that everyone was looking for Him like they were worried He already left.

Word Studies by Rita Fields edit

  • Possessed
  • Evil spirit/demon
  • Violently
  • Synagogue
  • Galilee
  • Sternly
  • Town
  • Companions
  • Compassion
  • The priest
  • Moses commanded
  • News
  • Lonely places
  • Shriek
  • Casting/throwing out demons
  • Capitalization of He, His