Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/The Gospel of Mark/Chapter 9

Mark 9 (New International Version)

Mark 9:1-50 (New International Version)
1And he said to them, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."

The Transfiguration

2After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." 6(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

7Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!" 8Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. 9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what "rising from the dead" meant. 11And they asked him, "Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?"

12Jesus replied, "To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? 13But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him."

The Healing of a Boy with an Evil Spirit

14When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. 16"What are you arguing with them about?" he asked.

17A man in the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not." 19"O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me." 20So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"

"From childhood," he answered. 22"It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." 23" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." 24Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

25When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." 26The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead." 27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

28After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" 29He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer."

30They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, 31because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." 32But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

Who is Greatest?

33They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" 34But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. 35Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."

36He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37"Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."

Whoever Is Not Against Us Is for Us

38"Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us." 39"Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40for whoever is not against us is for us. 41I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.

Causing to Sin

42"And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. 43If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 45And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48where " 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'49Everyone will be salted with fire. 50"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other."

Background of Mark



Historical Context


Traditionally and historically told, Mark was passed down orally through generations. The supposed oldest dated tradition pertaining to the origin of Mark's gospel is one given in about A.D. 140 by a man named Papias. Papias was the bishop of Hierapolis and once quoted by a scholar named Eusebius stated,

" 'Mark, indeed, who became the interpreter of Peter, wrote accurately, as far as he remembered them, the things said or done by the Lord, but not however in order.' For he [Mark] had neither heard the Lord nor been his personal follower, but at a later stage, as I said, he had followed Peter, who used to adapt the teachings to the needs of the moment, but not of the oracles of the Lord: so that Mark committed no error in writing certain matters just as he remembered them. For he had only one object in view, namely to leave out nothing of the things which he had heard, and to include no false statement among them."

Although this statement brings a fresh perspective to view, it should also be noted that many scholars feel as though only the first statement was one made by Papias himself, and the rest is solely Eusebius (Buttrick, 630). Further discussion as to whom the author of Mark was has been suggested that it was "John Mark whose mother's house in Jerusalem was a center of the Christian fellowship" as noted in Acts 12:12 (Buttrick, 631). Mark was a very popular name back in first century Rome, so to try to created an exclusivity as to "the" Mark that wrote this Gospel is almost impossible. Interestingly enough, the book of Mark does not mention anywhere that Mark was the author. Although there has been much debate as to who the particular author is, it is vitally important to recognize that it does not matter who the author of Mark was, because the message is still the same. "The content of the Gospel is the Christian message of salvation, as believed and preached among Gentiles in the middle of the first century, illustrated and reinforced by select material from the Christian tradition about Jesus, his mighty deeds, his teaching, his death and resurrection" (Buttrick, 632).



The original intended readers of Mark were already Christians in the early church. Mark was writing to the people in an informative manner on his version of the accounts of Jesus, and also for guidance. They shared Mark's supposed "faith," and the purpose for the readers was "not historical or biographical, but it was intensely practical" (Buttrick, 633).

The discussion as to the location where Mark was written can give a tremendous amount of insight to the readers of Mark 9. More than likely Mark was a compilation of "the oral tradition current in the Christian community at Rome in the sixties (Buttrick, 630)". Supposedly after the death of Peter, Mark re-wrote the same Gospel in Italy. Readers of Mark should be aware that the members of the church that Mark was writing to were more than likely facing persecution. A parallel can be drawn on this because Peter and Paul are thought to have been martyrs who suffered and died for their faith and following of Christ. Because of this, and the time frame this gospel is set in, we as readers can draw the conclusion that Mark was writing to a community that suffered from persecution from outside people of their church and also faced a divided community amongst them (Harrington, 42). Further discussing the persecution of these people, "Willi Marxsen in Der Evangelist Markus located its composition in Galiless (the place of Jesus' first manifestation) in a Christian community that had escaped the horrors of the First Jewish War and was expecting the return of Jesus in Galilee (see 14:28;16:7) (Harrington, 44-45)."



The original text Mark was written in was Greek, and since translation into various other languages, the text has not been altered very much. The book of Mark was in fact "neglected" for a great deal of time, and because of this, it was well preserved into its original language. In contrast, Luke was much more popular than the book of Mark which resulted in greater modifications from many modern editions such as Wescott, Hort, Tischendorf, Weiess, and Nestle (Buttrick, 645). To categorize the text of Mark into a literary genre, it would be best described as a 'christophany,' which is a "manifestation or revelation of who Jesus Christ really is" (Harrington, 274).



Discipleship, Faith, the teachings of Jesus, and Jesus' deity.

Structural Analysis of Mark 9

  • Transformation
    • Vss.1-2: Jesus brings Peter, James, and John up a high mountain
      • Jesus becomes transfigured
    • Vss.3-4: Jesus clothes become dazzling and Elijah and Moses show up
    • Vss.5-6: Peter offers to build up three shelters; one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah
      • Beyond this, Peter is speechless and they are afraid
    • Vss.7-8: Cloud appears and covers them
      • God speaks and tells the disciples to listen to Jesus
      • They looked around and only Jesus was left
    • Vss.9-10: They came down the mountain
      • Jesus told them not to tell anyone
      • They did not tell anyone and talked about what Jesus meant
    • Vss.11-13: Why must Elijah come first?
      • Elijah must come first, and the Son of Man will suffer
      • Elijah has already come
  • Casting out the demon from the boy
    • Vss. 14-19: They arrive at a large crown with arguing teachers of the law
      • The people ran to Jesus
        • Jesus asked why they were arguing
          • A man replied saying his son is possessed
          • The man asked the disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not
      • Jesus calls them unbelievers and calls for the boy
    • Vss. 20-24: The boy is brought to Jesus
      • The boy begins thrashing around
      • Jesus asks how long the boy has been in his condition
        • Father says boy has been like that since childhood and it has tried to kill the boy many times
          • The father begs for help if Jesus can
        • Jesus says anything is possible if you believe
          • The father says he believes
    • Vss. 25-26: Jesus casts the demon out
      • The spirit throws a fit
        • Jesus lifted the boy up to his feet
    • Vss. 28-30: The Disciples ask Jesus why they couldn't cast the demon out
      • Jesus says only with prayer
      • They left and Jesus didn't want anyone to know where they were
    • Vss. 31-32: Jesus tells them he will be betrayed and killed
      • The disciples did not understand, and did not question him
  • Who is Greatest?
    • Vss. 33-34 In Capernaum Jesus asked the disciples what they were arguing about on the road
      • They had argued about who was the greatest and did not answer Jesus
    • Vss. 35-37 Jesus has them sit down and says that to be first you must be last, and a servant of all
      • Jesus had a child sit in his arms
        • Jesus says whoever loves the children loves him and whoever loves him loves God
  • If you're not against God, then you're for him
    • Vs. 38: The disciples told a man not to try to drive out demons
    • Vs. 39: Jesus tells them not to stop him
    • Vs. 40: Jesus says whoever is not against them, is for them
    • Vs. 41: Helping people in Jesus name will be blessed
  • Get rid of what causes your sin
    • Vs. 42: Don't cause others to stumble
    • Vs. 43-45: Get rid of all that causes you to stumble
    • Vs. 47-48: It is better to have one eye than two with one that causes you to sin
    • Vss. 9:49-50 Have salt within yourselves



1 The truth is that some of you will still be alive when the Kingdom of God is filled with power.



2 James, Peter, James, and John after six days went up a very high mountain by themselves where Jesus’ appearance changed. 3 Jesus’ clothes became abnormally white. 4 Elijah and Moses appeared and spoke with Jesus. 5 Peter offered for them to build three separate shelters for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. 6 He was speechless, they were so frightened. 7 A cloud covered them and an audible voice spoke saying, “This is my son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” 8 When they looked around, Jesus was all that was left.

9 While heading down the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anyone what happened until the Son of Man rose from the dead. 10 They did so, only discussing with one another the “rising from the dead” referred to. 11 They then asked Jesus why Elijah had to come first. 12 Jesus says that Elijah restores things, and asks why the Son of man must endure pain and be dismissed by all? 13 Elijah already has come, and everything prophesied about him has been fulfilled.

Casting out a demon in a boy


14 After reaching the rest of the disciples, they observed the teachers of the law arguing with them all the while surrounded by a large crowd. 15 When everyone saw Jesus they rushed to him. 16 Jesus asked why they were arguing. 17 A man from the crowd replied stating that he had brought Jesus his son who was possessed by a demon, and has taken his ability to speak. 18 The demon causes him to flash his teeth, to foam at the mouth, and he becomes inflexible. The disciples could not cast the demon out. 19 “You of little faith” Jesus said, “How long will you discontinue to believe? Bring the boy here.” 20 When they brought the boy to him and the demon saw Jesus, it threw the boy on the ground in a fit, foaming at the mouth and rolling around. 21 “How long has he been possessed?” Jesus asked the father of the boy. “Since he was a mere child,” the father replied. 22 “The demon has tried to end the life of the boy many times with water and fire, please have compassion for him and help us if you are able.” 23 “If I am able?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if you have faith and believe without a doubt. 24 The father cried out that he believes, and asked Jesus to help him overcome any disbelief. 25 When the crowd began flocking closer, Jesus cast out the demon, commanding it to never enter the boy again. 26 The spirit came out and left the boy looking like a dead body. 27 Jesus commanded him to stand and he did. 28 Once Jesus and his disciples were alone they asked Jesus why they couldn’t cast out the demon. 29 Jesus said this could only be done through prayer. 30 They left and travelled through Galilee, all the while Jesus keeping from them their true location 31 because he was teaching them a lesson. Jesus continued to tell them that Jesus was going to be betrayed by man, killed, then resurrected on the third day. 32 None of them understood and refrained from asking questions.

The Best of Them


33 They went to Capernaum. Once in the house Jesus asked what they were arguing about amongst each other on their journey. 34 None replied because they were arguing about who is the best. 35 Jesus sat down and told them whoever wants to be first must be last, and servant to everyone outside himself. 36 Jesus took a small child in his arms amongst them. 37 Jesus said, “Whoever loves these children loves me, and whoever loves me loves the one who sent me.” If not against us, then for us 38 John told Jesus they saw someone trying to cast out demons in his name and they commanded him to stop because he was not one of them. 39 “Don’t stop him” said Jesus. “Anyone who uses my name for such a task will not turn around and be against us. 40 He who is not against us is for us. 41 Any person who gives you a glass of water in my name will not lose his favor with the Lord.

Causing others to stumble


42 If any individual causes my children to sin, then it is best for them to be thrown into the ocean to drown. 43 Whatever causes you to sin, eliminate it. 44 It’s better for you to live life lacking that than to spend eternity in hell with that possession. 45 If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off 46 because it’s better to not have it than to go to hell. 47 If your eye causes you to stumble, take it out because it’s better than having two eyes in hell, 48 where the worm and fire never die. 49 Everyone will be covered in fire in hell. 50 Salt is a good thing, but once it loses its saltiness, how does one gain the saltiness back? Hold the salt in your hearts and keep peace with one another.

Verse-by-Verse Analysis


"The Second Passion Prediction"


Vss. 9:30-32


9:30 Mark 9:30 talks of the disciples descending from the mountain and the scripture says that Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were. This statement has been theorized by scholars that the reason why he did not want anyone to know he was in Galilee was because he wanted to spend his time using his energy to teach his disciples a final time in their home lands. And although Jesus tried explaining to the disciples what was to come, he had little luck (Harrington, 283). "Traveling incognito was difficult for anyone as well known as Jesus and had not always been possible" (Sanner, 349).

9:31 In this passage Jesus reveals his second Passion prediction. The first Passion is declared in Mark 8:31, and the preceding Passion to 9:31 is in Mark 10:33-34. These Passion predictions cause the reader to question as to whether or not Jesus spoke frequently and in detail of his fateful future death. If Jesus did refrain from going into detail on this subject it is to be expected because when it came to politics in this time frame, Jesus "recognized that his teachings and actions, as well as the popular enthusiasm that they were generating, might well get him into trouble with the Roman and Jewish authorities" (Harrington, 266). Just as in Mark 8:31 and Mark 10:33-34 "Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man" which just implements his humanity (Harrington, 283). Upon referring to the Son of Man being delivered into man's hands, Jesus could have been refer to two different possibilities. The first would be that of Jesus being handed over to the Sanhedrin by Judas, or to God's "divine plan" which is also mentioned in Romans 8:32 (Sanner, 349).

9:32 Verse 32 refers to the disciples character. The verse states that when they did not understand what Jesus was attempting to say, they "were afraid to ask" him for further explanation. Scholars have suggested that this was because "perhaps they did not wish to face the realities which would dash their political hopes to the ground" (Sanner, 349). Many other suggestions have been suggested as to why the disciples did not question Jesus. One of which possibilities is that they might have been afraid "of being rebuked as Peter had been" in Mark 8:33. Another possibility given was because the last time they had spoken up they had asked about Elijah in Mark 9:1, and still had not understood Jesus' answer (Wessel, 705). Either way, instead of asking Jesus about what he had meant they began to argue as to who was the greatest among them which could imply even Jesus' twelve disciples own personal selfishness.

"The dispute over Greatness"


Vss. 33-37


9:33-34 Mark 9:33-34 refers to all of the disciples having returned to Capernaum which was where the "Galilean ministry had begun and where his headquarters in Galilee had been located" (Wessel, 705). He "did not linger there long, since his public ministry in the region had ended" (Wessel, 706). More than likely they were gathering at Peter's house, and when Jesus asked the disciples what they were arguing about there is an implied embarrassment on the disciples because Jesus had just discussed a very serious matter, his death (Sanner, 350). Another implication that this must have been an embarrassing question was that the disciples had nothing but silence to offer after his question. This argument among them also shows how incredibly influenced these men were by their culture of the day because such a topic was common among the Jews during that time frame (Wessel, 706).

Why would the disciples be arguing about who would be the greatest other than its cultural relevance? Many different theories have been suggested such as the recognition of Peter, James, and John's inner circle with Jesus and their trip to the mountain.

9:35 Jesus is said to sit down among the disciples in the house in this verse, which was assuming the posture of a Jewish rabbi (Wessel, 706). Jesus' choice to sit down may have also revealed to the disciples his character being one of patience (Sanner, 350). This is one of the many verses that many people in our society refer to today as the "golden rule." By taking the child and placing it among them this is what was referred to as an "action sermon" (Sanner, 350). By sitting down with his disciples, Jesus is very aware that he is making a shocking statement because what he had to say was completely against worldly values that so many people strove, and still strive to obtain (Wessel, 706).

9:36 The child which Jesus took and placed in front of the disciples was not of particular importance as far as whom the individual child was, but rather the concept behind it being a child. More than likely the child chosen was merely one from the "family in whose house he was teaching" (Wessel, 706). This verse is one of many in the bible that gives instruction to us to care about other people because when we love others, we are loving God. What we do for the least of us, we do for God. During this time frame, more than likely Jesus' statement for them to love the least was directed towards "the admonition to hospitality and the care of orphans" (Buttrick).

9:37 Jesus has a very important lesson to teach in this verse. He is trying to say that "true greatness is seen in humble service. When one receives (literally, "welcomes") a child, out of regard for Christ (i.e. in His name), he does so without thought of reward and unwittingly 'welcomes' Chist" (Sanner, 350). Jesus is telling the disciples that once they become humble in this manner, and truly become like small "children in their discipleship" they will be "his true representatives" (Wessel, 706).

Parallel Passages Study


Key: Blue (Same text in Matthew, Mark, and Luke)

Yellow (Same text in Matthew and Mark)

Red (Same text in Matthew and Luke)

Green (Same text in Mark and Luke)

Dark Purple (Same text in Mark, Luke and John)


Comparisons with the other Gospels


Through this same story as Mark 9 written in the rest of the gospels, (which includes Matthew 17:1-23 and 18:1-5, Luke 9:28-50, and John 14:9, 7:1, and 13:20) we as the readers can decipher better as to the actual events that took place. A great deal of detail is shown through particular events in certain books that are not congruent to equal amounts of detail in the others. Beginning the comparison it would appear as though John would be the gospel in which a greater deal of detail is addressed, but through further analysis we can see that the real dispute between details is between Matthew and Mark. Even the slightest change of words between the passages can drastically change the meaning behind the words. It is important to recognize the point of the story, and the larger picture rather than discrediting the story because of a difference in the smaller details. One cannot help but wonder though as to what the actual events were that took place when such contrasts are so evident.

Inductive Questions and Observations


1. It's very interesting that between Matthew, Mark, and Luke different names are given to Jesus on the parallel passages. Titles are used such as Lord, Rabbi, and Master from the disciples.

2. There does not seem to be one common name for Jesus that is consistently used.

3. By taking the scriptures very literally, there is quite the contrast between the way some things are phrased such as between Mark 9:6 and Luke 9:33. Mark 9:6 states that "he did not know what to say, they were so frightened," yet Luke 9:33 states that "he did not know what he was saying." Many implications can be derived from these differences such as to Peter's character whether or not he could gain the courage to speak, or rather he was bold enough to try to speak anyways and just mixed up his words.

4. In vs. 5 of Matthew, and vs. 7 of Mark, when God's voice sounds he declares Jesus as his "Son, whom [he] loves," but when God's voice sounds in Luke, God calls him his "Son, whom [he] has chosen." Does this difference in translations mean that the Gospel's are implying that only the chosen are loved?

5. If the previous statement is true, then what does it mean for people today? Are we all God's chosen people since he loves us all? Or is that just stretching things too far?

6. Because Matthew, Mark, and Luke all include God telling the disciples that Jesus is his Son, we can guarantee that this must have been extremely important.

7. There are many more details in Matthew than the other Gospels, why is this?

8. Interestingly enough, despite the variation in details, all of the Gospels appear to strive to get the same point across.

9. Why is it that out of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Luke is the only book that does not include Jesus saying that they should keep what they had seen on the mountain to themselves? Instead, Luke just says that they did keep it to themselves (vs. 36).

10. Mark is the only one of the four gospels that says the disciples conversed among themselves as to what “rising from the dead” meant. Is Mark a gospel that pays more attention to the reaction of the disciples rather than Jesus' actual teaching?

11. The variation between past tense and present between the Gospels such as between Matthew 9:11 and Mark 9:12 where in Matthew the word choice "restore" is used, but in Mark the word "restores" is given. Does this imply different time frames? The theological significance of this can be tremendously different upon studying such passages. If we use the word restore, then we as readers can draw the conclusion that Elijah's restoration may be a singular event, but when restore becomes plural, that implies that the restoration of Elijah is an ongoing occurrence.

12. Contrasting to the idea that Mark only pays more attention to details of the disciples, Matthew 9:13 verses Mark 9:13 shows Mark leaving out the side note that the disciples realized that John the Baptist was Elijah. Is this possibly because the author of Mark did not find this detail important for the reader?

13. Although the concept is the same, why is it that between Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the location the group comes to when they descend from the mountain is different between all three of these Gospels?

14. Mark is the only Gospel which refers to Jesus asking what the crowd is arguing about when they come upon the crowd (Mark 9:16).

(Further Questions and observations available in comments of the Parallel Passages Study)

Word Study


Important Words:


"Argued/Arguing" appears 5 times in this passage out of 17 times in NT (Mark 9:10, 9:14, 9:16, 9:33, 9:34)

"Child" appears 4 times in this passage out of 70 times in the NT (Mark 9:21, 9:24, 9:26, 9:36, 9:37)

"Dead" appears 4 times in this passage out of 151 times in the NT (Mark 9:9, 9:10, 9:26, 9:31)

"Die" appears 3 times in this passage out of 156 times in the NT (Mark 9:44, 9:46, 9:48)

"Drive/ Driving" (MW Collegiate Dictionary definition: “to frighten or prod into moving in a desired direction, to repulse, remove, or cause to go by force, authority, or influence") appears 3 times in this passage out of 28 times in the NT (Mark 9:18, 9:28, 9:38)

"Elijah" appears 5 times in this passage out of 31 times in the NT (Mark 9:4, 9:5, 9:11, 9:12, 9:13)

"Enter" appears 4 times in this passage out of 32 times in the NT (Mark 9:25, 9:43, 9:45, 9:47)

"Fire" appears 6 times in this passage out of 83 times in the NT (Mark 9:22, 9:43, 9:44, 9:46, 9:48, 9:49)

"Hell" appears 3 times in this passage out of 14 times in the NT (Mark 9:43, 9:45, 9:47)

"Help/ Helped" appears 3 times in this passage out of 51 times in the NT (Mark 9:22, 9:24, 9:27)

"If" appears 9 times in this passage out of 648 times in the NT (Mark 9:22, 9:23, 9:35, 9:42, 9:43, 9:45, 9:47, 9:50)

"Is" appears 14 times in this passage out of 2,258 times in the NT (Mark 9:7, 9:12, 9:13, 9:23, 9:40, 9:43, 9:44, 9:45, 9:46, 9:47, 9:48, 9:50)

"Must" appears 5 times in this passage out of 284 times in the NT (Mark 9:11, 9:12, 9:19, 9:35)

"Never" appears 8 times in this passage out of 178 times in the NT (Mark 9:25, 9:41, 9:44, 9:46, 9:48)

"Out" appears 13 times in this passage out of 473 times in the NT (Mark 9:7, 9:18, 9:24, 9:25, 9:26, 9:28, 9:29, 9:38, 9:43, 9:44, 9:46, 9:47, 9:48)

"Salt" appears 6 times in this passage out of 12 times in the NT (Mark 9:49 (listed 3 times) 9:50 (listed 3 times))

"Sin" appears 4 times in this passage out of 121 times in the NT (Mark 9:42, 9:43, 9:45, 9:47)

"Son" appears 5 times in this passage out of 413 times in the NT (Mark 9:7, 9:9, 9:12, 9:17, 9:31)

"Spirit" appears 7 times in this passage out of 347 times in the NT (Mark 9:17, 9:18, 9:20, 9:22, 9:25, 9:26)

"Thrown" appears 4 times in this passage out of 39 times in the NT (Mark 9:22, 9:42, 9:45, 9:47)

"Took" appears 4 times in this passage out of 140 times in the NT (Mark 9:2, 9:27, 9:36 (word used twice))

"Welcome" appears 5 times in this passage out of 32 times in the NT (Mark 9:15, 9:37 (used 4 times))

"Worms" appears 3 times in this passage out of 4 times in the NT (Mark 9:44, 9:46, 9:48)

Key Words to be studied



Translates to metamorphoo in Greek and "means 'to change into another form' and is used in the New Testament only in Mark 9:2, Matthew 17:2, Romans 12:2, and lastly 2 Corinthians 3:18 (Wessel, 699)".

Greek root is μεταμορφόομαι, translates to metamorphoō.

"The transfiguration is one of the few accounts in Jesus’ life outside of the passion narrative that contains a chronological tie—‘after six days’ (Mark 9:2). The incident is tied both in time and meaning to the preceding account of Peter’s confession (Mark 8:27-33). The divine Voice ‘This is my beloved Son’ (Mark 9:7) is both a rebuke of Peter’s equation of Jesus with Moses and Elijah (Mark 9:5) and a confirmation of his confession" (Achtemeier).

“Why, then, it may be asked, is a compound of μορφή employed in this description of the transfigured Saviour, since the change described is a change in his outward appearance? It may be answered, because a compound of σχῆμα, expressing merely a change in the aspect of Christ’s person and garments, would not express the deeper truth of the case, which is, that the visible change gets its real character and meaning from that which is essential in our Lord — his divine nature. A foreshadowing or prophecy of his true form — his distinctive character — comes out in his transfiguration. He passes over into a form identified, so far as revealed, with the divine quality of his being, and prophetic of his revelation “as he is” (1 John 3:2), in the glory which he had with the Father before the world was (John 17:5). In truth, there is a deep and pregnant hint in the use of this word, which easily escapes observation, and which defies accurate definition. The profound and overwhelming impression upon the three disciples was due to something besides the shining of Christ’s face and garments, and the presence of Moses and Elijah; and was deeper and subtler than the effect of all these combined. There was a fact and a power in that vision which mere radiance and the appearance of the dead patriarchs could not wholly convey: a revelation of Deity breaking out in that glorified face and form, which appealed to something deeper than sense, and confirmed the words from heaven: This is my beloved Son" (Vincent).

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary definition: 1. "A change in form or appearance" 2. "An exalting, glorifying, or spiritual change"

Interesting side note: The Transfiguration is referred to as "a Christian feast that commemorates the transfiguration of Christ on a mountaintop in the presence of three disciples and that is observed on August 6 in the Roman Catholic and some Eastern churches and on the Sunday before Lent in most Protestant churches" (Merriam-Webster).


Merriam-Webster's Dictionary definition: "A cause of astonishment or admiration"

-Image on left is a diagram of the root Hebrew words from "Wonder"

-Image on right is a diagram of the root Greek words from "Wonder" (both diagrams from Logos Bible Software)

τέρας, ατος, τό teras miracle, wonder, miraculous sign, portent* 1. Occurrences in the NT and Greek usage — 2. NT usage 1. Τέρας occurs 16 times in the NT, always pl. τέρατα and always with σημεῖα (occasionally also with δυνάμεις). Cf. the OT phrase ’ōṯōṯ ûmôp̱eṯîm (Exod 7:3 and elsewhere) In Greek τέρας can refer esp. to the overwhelming or shocking character of an event that happens παρὰ φύσιν and to incomprehensible things in the larger sense, which can, however, also be traced back to the gods (Logos Bible Word Study Software)


Merriam-Webster's Dictionary definition: "a supernatural being or essence"

The word "Spirit" is mentioned four times in Mark 9:

Mark 9:17- "...for he has a spirit that makes him mute."

Mark 9:20- "And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit..."

Mark 9:25- "...he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it..."

Mark 9:25- "You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of..."

-Image on bottom left is a diagram of the root Hebrew words from "Spirit"

-Image on bottom right is a diagram of the root Greek words from "Spirit" (Both diagrams from Logos Bible Software)

Theological implications and application to today


When addressing Mark 9 and its significance to our society today, many different themes and main ideas can be derived from the text. In the verses 14- 30 with the story of Jesus healing the boy possessed with a spirit, modern day readers can gather that anything is possible with faith in God. The father asks Jesus to cure the boy if he can, and this in turn frustrates Jesus and he asks back sarcastically "if you can?" Although other disciples had been trying to cast out the spirit and were not successful, we can gather that although Jesus applauds those that have such faith that they attempt to do such things, what they cannot do we should have faith in God that he can. It is also important to note that because of the knowledge back in their time when pertaining to medical advances, the boy may not have been possessed with a demon, but rather was epileptic, and Jesus cured his body from that.

Another very important lesson we can learn from Mark 9 is the passage dealing with the disciples question as to who is the greatest among them. The disciples are very selfish in this story between verses 9:33-36. Jesus had just told them that the worst possible thing is going to happen, he is going to be betrayed and killed, and yet all they can worry about is who is the best. This can show readers today that we need to be more aware of what God is trying to tell us, and really truly listen, seeking discernment and understanding with what he tries to tell us. If we do not do this, then we could very well end up just like the disciples, feeling lost and shocked at the result, not understanding what has just taken place. Also, Jesus draws his main lesson from scripture in this passage by reflecting upon and answering the disciples question despite their ignorance. Jesus tells his disciples to get rid of all that might possibly cause them to sin, and that we can apply to our lives today. There is an important theological significance with this application to our society today though. There is a constant struggle between what we should surround ourselves with. We should not be ignorant enough to stay away from those who need us and those who may not be classified as "good" in character, but if we are spending a great deal of time with influences that cause us to stumble, we need to break free from those things. This is a struggle to know where exactly that line is though, between spending time loving those who do not know God and making sure you don't fall into their ways.

Possibly the last application to be addressed is verses 38-41. The danger in interpreting this passage though is to take it too far, and to make up your own ideas of what scripture is trying to say as opposed to what it really does say. Jesus tells his disciples to not try to stop anyone from casting out demons or doing works in his name, stating that "whoever is not against us is for us." This is a hard lesson many people today may struggle with. Our society in many ways seems to always think that they know best as individuals, and that whatever their religion or way of thinking is, it is superior to others. From this passage we can draw on the conclusion that if those individuals are not against what Christians think than they are in turn supporters of it, even if they don't realize it.



Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row, P., & Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). Harper's Bible dictionary. Includes index. (1st ed.)(1092). San Francisco: Harper & Row.

Buttrick, George A. The Interpreter's Bible. Vol. VII. Nashville: Abington P, 1951.

Harrington, Daniel J. Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Mark. Vol. 2. Collegeville: The Liturgical P, 2002.

Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Includes index. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Sanner, Elwood A. Beacon Bible Commentary. Vol. VI. Kansas City: Beacon Hill P, 1964.

"Spirit." Logos 3.0, Northwest Nazarene University, Nampa Id. 25 Mar. 2009.

"Transfigured." Logos 3.0, Northwest Nazarene University, Nampa Id. 25 Mar. 2009.

Vincent, M. R. (2002). Word studies in the New Testament (1:99-100). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Wessel, Walter W. The Expositor's Bible Commentary. Vol. 8. Grand Rapids: Zondervan House, 1984.

"Wonder." Logos 3.0, Northwest Nazarene University, Nampa Id. 25 Mar. 2009.