Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again.X.
(1) And he arose from thence.—We may note, as some help to a right study of the Gospel narrative, that the best harmonists place Matthew 18:15-35, Luke 10:1 to Luke 17:10 (with the exception of Mark 15:3-7), and John 7:1 to John 11:54, between the 9th and 10th chapters of this Gospel. The “farther side of Jordan” implies what is known as the Peræan ministry of our Lord, and which is related only by St. Luke.
Resort unto him.—Literally, come together, or journey together.
And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.(2-12) And the Pharisees came to him.—See Notes on Matthew 19:3-12. We are not surprised to find St. Mark omitting the “hard saying” about the eunuchs of Matthew 19:12. It was hardly likely, even if he knew it, to commend itself to him as adapted for the Gentile readers for whom he wrote his Gospel. Probably, however, for the reason thus given, it was not part of the current teaching of the Church, and was recorded by St. Matthew as something exceptional.
And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.(10) And in the house.—St. Mark’s narrative is, on the whole, much shorter than St. Matthew’s; but this detail of the question coming from the disciples after they had entered the house is given by him only.
And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.(12) And if a woman shall put away.—This also is peculiar to St. Mark, and it is noticeable, as being the only passage in our Lord’s teaching which distinctly states the case referred to, and passes sentence on the wife who divorces her husband and marries again, as well as on the husband who divorces his wife, and the wife who is so divorced. All three cases are dealt with on the same grounds: (1) that the marriage relationship ought to be indissoluble, and that one cause only justifies or permits its dissolution; and (2) that any further permission of divorce is but a concession to the hardness of men’s hearts for the avoidance of greater evils.
And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.(13-15) And they brought young children.—See Notes on Matthew 19:13-15.
But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.(14) He was much displeased.—The word, as used by our Lord, is peculiar to St. Mark; St. Matthew uses it of the disciples (Matthew 20:24; Matthew 26:8) and of the chief priests (Matthew 21:15).
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.(15) Verily I say unto you.—St. Matthew does not give the verse. St. Mark has it in common with St. Luke. To receive the kingdom of God “as a little child,” is to receive it after the manner of a child, with simplicity and faith, humility and love. Unless these conditions were fulfilled, those who were disputing who was the greatest in it, were as if they had not even entered it.
And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.(16) And he took them up in his arms.—Better, folded them in His arms, leaving the question whether they were lifted from the ground open. The word is used by St. Mark only. The actual “blessing,” though implied in St. Matthew, is also definitely mentioned by him only.
And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?(17-27) And when he was gone forth.—Better, as He was going forth. (See Notes on Matthew 19:16-26.)
Running, and kneeled to him.—Another of St. Mark’s vividly descriptive touches. The adjective “good,” which is wanting in the better MSS. of St. Matthew, is the true reading here. St. Mark and St. Luke give the word “inherit,” instead of St. Matthew’s “have,” or “possess.”
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.(18) Why callest thou me good?—Our Lord’s question is, in St. Mark’s report, in harmony with that of the seeker after life eternal. Its obvious drift was to force him back upon the conditions of absolute goodness, to make him ask himself how far, and under what conditions, that word might be used relatively of any child of man.
Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.(19) Defraud not.—Peculiar to St. Mark. It seems as if intended to be a special application of the Tenth Commandment. One who had great possessions, gathered in the usual ways by which men gain wealth, needed to examine himself specially by that text. Were there no ill-gotten gains in his treasure? Had no wages of the reaper been kept back; no sharp bargains driven with widows or orphans or the poor?
Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.(21) Then Jesus beholding him loved him.—Better, looking, or gazing on him. The fact is narrated by St. Mark only, and implies that the love showed itself in the stedfast look, perhaps also in the kiss upon the brow with which the Rabbis of the time showed their approval of their more promising disciples.
Come, take up the cross.—This also is peculiar to St. Mark. In using such words our Lord taught the questioner, as He had before taught His disciples, with what clear prevision He looked forward to the form and manner of His death.
And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.(22) And he was sad at that saying.—Better, He frowned. The word is the same as that translated “lowering” in Matthew 16:3.
And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!(23) And Jesus looked round.—The glance and gesture are mentioned by St. Mark only.
And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!(24) How hard is it for them that trust in riches.—The words have the appearance of limiting, and so softening, the seeming sternness of the previous utterance. There is, however, good reason for thinking, as they are wanting in the best MSS., that they were added by some one who sought to tone down the words of warning to what seemed a rational medium. Omitting the doubtful words, the sentence runs, “How hard is it to enter into the kingdom of God!”—hard alike for rich and poor, though, as the words that follow show, it was hardest for the former.
Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.(28-31) Then Peter began to say unto him.—See Notes on Matthew 19:27-30. St. Mark omits the question which St. Matthew adds to St. Peter’s words, “What shall we have therefore?”
And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,(29) Verily I say unto you.—St. Mark, possibly as writing for Gentile converts, omits the special promise to the Twelve, that they should “sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28).
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.(30) With persecutions.—Peculiar to St. Mark. (See Notes on Matthew 19:29.) We may, perhaps, venture to think of them as having been engraved on Peter’s mind by the lessons of his experience. He had been taught to see in the “fiery trial” almost the necessary condition of the “exceeding joy” (1Peter 4:12-13).
But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.(31) Many that are first shall be last.—It will be noted that St. Mark omits the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, which follows in St. Matthew as an illustration of the truth.
And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him,(32-34) And they were in the way.—See Notes on Matthew 20:17-19.
Jesus went before them.—Better, was leading the way. The word is the same as that used in Matthew 21:9; Matthew 21:31. The graphic picture of the order in which the Master and the disciples were at this time travelling is eminently characteristic of St. Mark. The special mention of “the Twelve” implies that there were other disciples, possibly the Seventy of Luke 10:1, and the “devout women” of Luke 8:1.
And they were amazed.—We have clearly in these words a vivid reproduction of states of feeling which the disciples remembered, but for which the facts related hardly give a sufficient explanation. Probably the words that had just been spoken—still more, perhaps, the look and tone which accompanied them—and the silent withdrawal from converse with them, struck all the disciples with a vague fear, and the Twelve with absolute terror.
And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.(34) Shall spit upon him.—In common with St. Luke, but not with St. Matthew.
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.(35-45) And James and John.—See Notes on Matthew 20:20-28. In St. Matthew, their mother is represented as coming with them, and uttering her prayer for them.
But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?(38) And be baptized with the baptism.—The clause seems to have been found originally in St. Mark only, and to have been added afterwards by the transcribers of St. Matthew to bring the reports of the two Gospels into more entire agreement.
And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:(39) And with the baptism.—Here, as before, the clause is omitted in the best MSS. of St. Matthew, and is therefore, strictly speaking, peculiar to St. Mark.
But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.(40) But it shall be given to them.—Better, omitting the interpolated words, is not Mine to give, but to those for whom it has been prepared. Our Lord disclaims, not the power to give, but that of giving arbitrarily, otherwise than His Father willed.
But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.(42) Exercise lordship. . . . exercise authority.—On the force of the two words, see Note on Matthew 20:25.
But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:(43) Shall be your minister.—Substantially the same as in St. Matthew, but note in both verses the variation, “shall be your minister,” “shall be servant,” instead of “let him be.”
And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.(46-52) And they came to Jericho.—See Notes on Matthew 20:29-34. St. Mark agrees with St. Matthew in placing the miracle as the disciples were leaving Jericho, and differs from him in speaking of one blind man only, and in giving his name.
Blind Bartimæus.—Better, as giving the same order as the Greek, the son of Timœus, Bartimœus, a blind beggar was sitting by the wayside begging. The later MSS. have the definite article before “blind,” as though he were well known and conspicuous. It is noticeable that the name was Greek with the Aramaic prefix Bar (= son), a combination not found elsewhere.
And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.(49) And commanded him to be called.—The better MSS. give, more vividly, “and said, Call him.”
Be of good comfort.—The cheering words of the disciples or by-standers are given by St. Mark only, as is also the eager action of the man “casting off his garment (i.e., the outer mantle) and leaping up.” The Greek word, in the better MSS. is much stronger than the English “rose.”
And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.(51) Lord.—Better Rabboni, the word being the same as in John 20:16, and occurring in these two passages only. The word was an augmentative form of Rabbi, and as such expressed greater reverence. It takes its place as another example of St. Mark’s fondness for reproducing the very syllables that were spoken.
And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.(52) Followed Jesus in the way.—We may reasonably infer from this that Bartimæus was one of those who went up with the travelling company to Jerusalem. The prominence which St. Mark gives to his name suggests the thought that he afterwards became more or less conspicuous in the Church of the Circumcision, his new-found gift of sight qualifying him to take his place among the eye-witnesses of the things that were done in the ensuing week. In the Apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus he appears as one of the witnesses for the defence on our Lord’s trial.