Mark 6
Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.
Chap. 6:1-6.] Rejection of Jesus by his Countrymen at Nazareth. Matthew 13:54-58, where see notes.

1.] ἐξῆλθ. ἐκεῖθ., not, from the house of Jaeirus, by the expression τὴν πατρίδα αὐτ. in the corresponding clause. I may go out of my own house into a neighbour’s, but I do not say, I go out of my own house into Lincolnshire: the two members of such a sentence must correspond:—I go out of Leicestershire into Lincolnshire—so, as corresponding to τ. πατρίδ. αὐτ., ἐκεῖθεν must mean from that city, i.e. Capernaum. This against Meyer, who tries on this misinterpretation to ground a difference between Matt. and Mark.

2.] Before δυνάμεις we must understand another πόθεν, to make the construction complete.

3. ὁ τέκτων] This expression does not seem to be used at random, but to signify that the Lord had actually worked at the trade of his reputed father. Justin Martyr, Dial. § 88, p. 186, says ταῦτα γὰρ τὰ τεκτονικὰ ἔργα εἰργάζετο ἐν ἀνθρώποις ὤν, ἄροτρα καὶ ζυγά. Cf. the conflicting but apparently careless assertion of in the var. readd. See also the anecdote told by Theodoret, H. E. iii. c. 18, p. 940.

5. οὐκ ἐδύνατο] The want of ability spoken of is not absolute, but relative: οὐχ ὅτι αὐτὸς ἀσθενὴς ἦν, ἀλλʼ ὅτι ἐκεῖνοι ἄπιστοι ἦσαν. Thl. The same voice, which could still the tempests, could any where and under any circumstances have commanded diseases to obey; but in most cases of human infirmity, it was our Lord’s practice to require faith in the recipient of aid: and that being wanting, the help could not be given. However, from what follows, we find that in a few instances it did exist, and the help was given accordingly.

6. ἐθαύμαζεν] This need not surprise us, nor be construed otherwise than as a literal description of the Lord’s mind: in the mystery of his humanity, as He was compassed by human infirmity,—grew in wisdom,—learned obedience,—knew not the day nor the hour (ch. 13:32),—so He might wonder at the unbelief of His countrymen. Observe, owing to the διὰ with an accus., that their unbelief is not here said to be the object, but the cause, of the Lord’s wonder.

καὶ περιῆγεν] See Matthew 9:35.

7-13.] The sending forth of the Twelve. Matthew 10:1-15.Luke 9:1-5Luk_9:1-5. See also Matthew 9:36-38, as the introduction to this mission. The variations in the three accounts are very trifling, as we might expect in so solemn a discourse delivered to all the twelve.

See the notes to Matt.;—and respecting the subsequent difference between Matt. (ver. 16 ff.) and Luke,—those on Luk_10.

7.] δύο δύο (see reff.) is a Hebraism: see Winer, § 37. 3. The Greek expression would be κατά, or ἀνὰ δύο, as inLuke. Winer observes that the Syriac version always renders this latter expression by doubling the cardinal number. These couples are pointed out in Matt.’s list of the Apostles—not however in Mark’s, which again shews the total absence of connecting design in this Gospel, such as is often assumed.

8.] Striking instances occur in these verses, of the independence of the three reports in their present form.

μηδὲ ῥάβδον Matt. = εἰ μὴ ῥ. μόνον Mark = μήτε ῥάβδον (-ους v. r.) Luke. See notes on Matt., also in the next clause.

9. ὑποδεδεμένους] Scil. πορεύεσθαι, or some equivalent infinitive. We have another change of construction in ἐνδύσησθε. These breaks serve to give the narrative a more lively form.

12.] It is impossible to restrict the ἵνα after ἐκήρυξαν entirely to the telic meaning, as Meyer, who is a purist on this point, attempts to do. There is certainly the mingling of the purport and the purpose, so often found in this particle after verbs implying declaration or request. See this treated of in note, 1Corinthians 14:13.

13. ἤλειφον ἐλαίῳ] This oil was not used medicinally, but as a vehicle of healing power committed to them;—a symbol of a deeper thing than the oil itself could accomplish. That such anointing has nothing in common with the extreme unction of Romanists, see proved in note on James 5:14.

See for instances of such symbolic use of external applications, 2Kings 5:14: Mark 8:23: John 9:6, &c.

14-29.] Herod hears of it. By occasion, the death of John the Baptist is related. Matthew 14:1-12.Luke 9:7-9Luk_9:7-9. (The account of John’s death is not in Luke.) Our account is, as usual, the fullest of details. See notes on Matt.

14.] Herod was not king properly, but only tetrarch:—see as above. He heard most probably of the preaching of the twelve.

15.] (He is) a prophet like one of the prophets;—i.e. in their meaning, ‘He is not The Prophet for whom all are waiting, but only some prophet like those who have gone before.’ Where did our Evangelist get this remarkable expression, in his supposed compilation from Matt. and Luke?

16.] On this repeated declaration of Herod, with its remarkable attraction of construction, De Wette strangely observes, ‘Mark here combines the text of Luke with that of Matt.’

ἐγώ has the emphasis given by his guilty conscience.” Meyer.

The principal additional particulars in the following account of John’s imprisonment and execution are,—ver. 19, that it was Herodias who persecuted John (on ἐνεῖχεν see reff. and note Luke 11:53), whereas Herod knew his worth and holiness, and listened to him with pleasure, and even complied in many things with his injunctions:—that the maiden went and asked counsel of her mother before making the request:—and that a σπεκουλάτωρ, one of the body-guard (see note on ver. 27 below), was sent to behead John.

18.] ἔλεγεν—more than once: it was the burden of John’s exhortations to him.

20. συνετ.] preserved him; not, ‘esteemed him highly:’—kept him in safety that he should not be killed by Herodias. The reading ἠπόρει is remarkable, and perhaps has some connexion with the διηπόρει of Luke 9:7. The imperfects imply time, and habit. Whether Herod heard him only at such times as he happened to be at Machærus, or took him also to his residence at Tiberias, is, as Meyer remarks, uncertain.

21.] εὐκαίρ., not, a festal day, as Hammond and others interpret it, for this use of εὔκαιρος hardly seems to be justified—but, a convenient day (see ver. 31 and Acts 24:25,—and cf. Soph. Œd. Col. 32) for the purposes of Herodias: which shews that the dance, &c. had been all previously contrived by her.

μεγιστᾶνες, a Macedonian word, which came into use at the Alexandrine conquest. See Lobeck on Phrynichus, p. 197. He adduces the nom. form μεγιστᾶνος from Anna Comnena, xi. 324 c.

23.] The contracted ἡμίσους belongs to later Greek, as does also ἀθετέω, ver. 26. Webst. and Wilk. quote a parallel from Cic. de Senectute, c. xii.: “Flaminius, cum esset consul in Gallia, exoratus in convivio a scorto est, ut securi feriret aliquem eorum, qui in vinculis essent, damnati rei capitalis.”

27.] σπεκουλάτωρ is supposed by some to represent spiculator, and to mean δορύφορος, as Suidas: by others, speculator, κατάσκοπος, as Philoxenus, in Gloss., one of the body-guard, which is the meaning taken by Meyer here. The Commentators refer to Seneca de Ira, i. 16, “Centurio supplicio præpositus condere gladium speculatorem jubet:” de Benef. iii. 25, “Speculatoribus occurrit, nihil se deprecari quo minus imperata peragerent dixit, et deinde cervicem porrexit:” Julius Firmicus, viii. 26, calls those “speculatores, qui nudato gladio hominum amputant cervices.” See Suet. Claud. 25: and a list of the sources of information in Schleusner, sub voce.

30-44.] Feeding of the five thousand. Matthew 14:13-21.Luke 9:10-17Luk_9:10-17. John 6:1-13. This is one of the very few points of comparison between the four Gospels during the ministry of our Lord. And here again I believe Mark’s report to be an original one, and of the very highest authority. Professor Bleek (Beiträge zur Evangelienkritik, p. 200) believes that Mark has used the Gospel of John,—on account of the 200 denarii in our ver. 37 and John ver. 7;—and that he generally compiles his narrative from Matt. and Luke (ibid. p. 72-75), which has been elsewhere shewed to be utterly untenable. I believe Mark’s to be an original full account; Matt.’s a compendium of this same account, but drawn up independently of Mark’s:—Luke’s a compendium of another account:—John’s an independent narrative of his own as an eye-witness.

30.] Mentioned by Luke, not by Matt.

31-34.] One of the most affecting descriptions in the Gospels, and in this form peculiar to Mark. Matt. has a brief compendium of it. Every word and clause is full of the rich recollections of one who saw, and felt the whole. Are we mistaken in tracing the warm heart of him who said, ‘I will go with thee to prison and to death?’

31.] ὑμεῖς αὐτοί—not others; ‘you alone.’

33.] πεζῃ, not ‘a-foot,’ but by land: and so most usually: e.g. Herod. vii. 110,—τουτέων οἱ μὲν παρὰ θάλ. κατοικημένοι ἐν τῇσι νηυσὶ εἵποντο· οἱ δὲ αὐτέων τὴν μεσόγαιαν οἰκέοντες … πεζῇ … εἵποντο.

34. ἐξελθών] having disembarked, most probably. Meyer would render it, ‘having come forth from his solitude,’ in Matt.,—and ‘having disembarked’ here: but I very much doubt the former. There is nothing in Matt. to imply that He had reached his place of solitude before the multitudes came up. John indeed, vv. 3-7, seems to imply this; but He may very well have mounted the hill or cliff from the sea before He saw the multitudes, and this would be on his disembarkation.

To shew how arbitrary is the assumption of Mark having combined Matt. and Luke,—see how easily the same might be said of Luke himself, with regard to Matt. and Mark here:—ἐθεράπευσεν τοὺς ἀῤῥώστους αὐτῶν, Matt.:—ἤρξατο διδάσκειν αὐτ. πολ., Mark;—ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς περὶ τ. βας. τ. θ., κ. τοὺς χρείαν ἔχ. θεραπείας ἰᾶτο, Luke: = Matt. † Mark.

35.] See notes on John 6:3-7, and Matthew 14:15-17. The Passover was near, which would account for the multitude being on the move.

37.] This verse is to me rather a decisive proof that (see above) Mark had not seen John’s account; for how could he, having done so, and with his love for accurate detail, have so generalized the particular account of Philip’s question? That generalization was in the account which he used, and the circumstance was more exactly related by John, as also the following one concerning Andrew.

δώσομεν] I prefer placing the interrogation at the end of the sentence, as simpler and less harsh than the arrangement of Lachm. (interrog. . ἄρτους, full stop at end) or . (comma, full stop). The two verbs will then be rendered must we go and buy, &c …, and shall we (thus) give them to eat?

40.] πρασιαί (ref. Sir.) λέγονται τὰ ἐν τοῖς κήποις διάφορα κόμματα, ἐν οἷς φυτεύονται διάφορα πολλάκις λάχανα. Theophylact. Similarly Suidas, who adds καὶ πράσιον λάχανον, viz. hore-hound: but the derivation is more probably from πράσον, a leek. The word occurs in Hom. Od. η. 127, ἔνθα δὲ κοσμηταὶ πρασιαὶ παρὰ νείατον ὄρχον " παντοῖαι πεφύασιν, where the Schol., αἱ λαχανεῖαι ἣ αἱ τῶν φυτειῶν τετράγωνοι σχέσεις, ὡς τὰ πλινθία. The distributive repetitions of these words are Hebraisms: see reff., and note on ver. 7.

41.] κατέκλασεν and ἐμέρισεν, aorists, each express the one act by which He broke up the bread, and divided the fishes: ἐδίδου, imperf., that He gave the bread, bit by bit, to His disciples to distribute: with the fish there was no need of this bit by bit giving—one assignment sufficed. See Bp. Wordsw.’s note. The dividing of the fishes, and (ver. 43) the taking up fragments from the fishes, are both peculiar to and characteristic of Mark: but it would have been most inconsistent with his precision to have omitted χωρὶς γυν. κ. παιδ. in ver. 44, had he had it before him.

45-52.] Jesus walks on the sea. Matthew 14:22-33. John 6:16-21. Omitted in Luke. Matt. and Mark very nearly related as far as ver. 47. John’s account altogether original, and differing materially in details: see notes there, and on Matt.

45.] τὸ πλ., the ship in which they had come. Βηθσαϊδάν] This certainly seems (against Lightfoot, Wieseler, Thomson (The Land and the Book), .: see Bp. Ellicott’s note, Lectures on Life of our Lord, p. 207) to have been the city of Peter and Andrew, James and John,—on the west side of the lake—and in the same direction as Capernaum, mentioned by John, ver. 17. The miracle just related took place near the other Bethsaïda (Julias),—Luke 9:10.

The pres. ἀπολύει is a change to the oratio directa, not unusual in Greek. So Herod. iii. 84, οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ τῶν ἑπτὰ ἐβουλεύοντο ὡς βασιλέα δικαιότατα στήσονται. See Kühner, Gram. ii. p. 594: Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 389, and numerous examples in both.

46.] ἀποταξάμ. in this sense belongs to later Greek: Phrynichus says, ed. Lob. p. 24, ἀποτάσσομαί σοι, ἔκφυλον πάνυ. χρὴ γὰρ λέγειν, ἀσπάζομαί σε. See Lobeck’s note.

48.] κ. ἤθ. παρ. αὐτ., peculiar to Mark. “A silent note of Inspiration. He was about to pass by them. He intended so to do. But what man could say this? Who knoweth the mind of Christ but the Spirit of God? Compare 1Corinthians 2:11.” Wordsw. But it may be doubted whether this is either a safe or a sober comment. ἤθελεν has here but a faint subjective reference, and is more nearly the “would have passed by them” of the E. V. See on Luke 24:28, for the meaning. Lange, Leben Jesu, ii. p. 788 note, well remarks, that this ἤθελεν παρελθεῖν, and the ἤθελον οὖν of John 6:21, mutually explain one another.

50.] πάντες … ἐταράχθ., peculiar to Mark. After this follows the history respecting Peter, which might naturally be omitted here if this Gospel were drawn up under his inspection—but this is at least doubtful in any general sense.

52.] Peculiar to Mark.

οὐ γὰρ συν.] They did not, from the miracle which they had seen, infer the power of the Lord over nature.

ἐπί, hardly as Kuinoel, al., post, but rather denoting, as usual, close superposition of the preceding on the following: there was no intelligent comprehension founded on the miracle of the loaves.

53-56.] Matthew 14:34-36. The two accounts much alike, but Mark’s the richer in detail: e.g. καὶ προσωρμίσθησαν ver. 53, καὶ ὅπου … ἀσθενοῦντας ver. 56.

53.] ἐπί denotes the direction of their course, προσωρμ. the fact of their arrival: we can hardly make the distinction in English, but must render ἐπί, to: ‘towards,’ or ‘off’ would not indicate enough. But ‘into’ (E. V.) indicates too much.

55.] περιφ. implies that they occasionally had wrong information of His being in a place, and had to carry the sick about, following the rumour of his presence.

ὅπ. ηκ. ὅτι ἐκ. ἐστιν, to the places, where they heard He was (there).—ὅπου … ἐκεῖ does not signify merely ubi (as Grot., ., &c.) by a Hebraism; there is in fact here no unusual construction at all: ὅπου stands by itself, and ἐκεῖ ἐστιν is the matter introduced by the ὅτι recitantis.

56.] In ὅπου ἂν εἰσεπορεύετο … ὅσοι ἂν ἥπτοντο, the ἅν belongs not so much to the verbs, which are certain and definite, as to the indefinites ὅπου and ὅσοι, rendering them more indefinite, and spreading the assertion over every several occasion of the occurrence. See remarks on this in Klotz, Devar. ii. p. 145 f.: and cf. reff. and Lucian, Dial. mort. ix. 2, μακάριος ἦν αὐτῶν ὅντινα ἂν καὶ μόνον προσέβλεψα.

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