ICC New Testament Commentary
And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.9:1. This verse belongs with the preceding discourse by the most obvious connection of thought. He has spoken of the coming of the Son of Man in the glory of his Father; and here he states the time of that coming. For the coming of the Son of Man is everywhere identified with the coming of the kingdom. Cf. Matthew 16:28, where this coming is spoken of as the coming of the Son of Man in his kingdom. The reason for placing the verse in the ninth chapter is that those who made the division supposed that the glorifying of Jesus in the Transfiguration was the event referred to here. But that would not be described as a coming of the Son of Man in power; nor would an event only a week distant be spoken of as taking place before some of those present should die. That language implies that most of them would be dead, while a few would live to see the great event. No, this coming of the kingdom is to be identified with the coming of the Son of Man. Nothing else will satisfy the context. And this coincides with everything that Jesus says about the time of that coming. See ch. 13:30, and parallel passages in Mt. and Lk. This then lets in a flood of light upon the meaning of that coming, as it declares that it was to be before some of those before him should taste of death. If his words are to stand therefore, it was to be events belonging to the generation after his death which fulfilled the prophecy of his coming, and of the establishment of his kingdom. And in this case, the kingdom was to be spiritual, and the agencies in its establishment were to be the Spirit of God and the providence of God in human affairs.
Here, as in the eschatological discourse, ch. 13, the coming is referred to as an understood thing, whereas there has been no teaching in regard to it. The same remark applies here as in the teaching about the death and resurrection. We cannot account for the expectation, which colored the whole life of the early church, without some prophecy of it. But on the other hand, the absence of expectation in the period between the death and resurrection is unaccountable if the prophecy was of this definite character.
9:2-8. Jesus goes up into a mountain, with Peter, James, and John, and is transfigured before them. The heavenly visitors. The voice from heaven.
A week after the conversation with the disciples in regard to his death, Jesus goes, with the three disciples who stood nearest to him, up into the neighboring mountain, and was transfigured before them. As it is described, this transfiguration consisted in an extraordinary white light emitted from his whole person. Accompanying this was an appearance of Moses and Elijah talking with him. Peter, frightened out of his wits by the amazing scene, proposes to fix and retain it by building huts for Jesus and the heavenly visitors up there on the mountain side. But a cloud came over them, and a voice proceeded from it, as at the baptism, This is my beloved Son; hear him. And suddenly, looking around, they saw no one but Jesus.
2. ἡμέρας ἓξ—six days. Lk. says, about eight days. We can easily get rid of one of the two days which separate these two accounts, as the Jews confounded after seven days with on the seventh day by reckoning both the dies a quo and the dies ad quem in the former expression, as in the account of the resurrection. But the other day needs the ὡσεὶ of Lk., about eight days, to remove the discrepancy.
τ. Πέτρον κ. τ. Ἰάκωβον κ. (τ.) Ἰωάννην—These three formed the inner circle of the twelve, whom Jesus took with him on three great occasions, the raising of the daughter of Jairus, the Transfiguration, and the scene in the garden of Gethsemane. εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν—into a high mountain. What mountain is meant, we do not know, except that it was probably in the vicinity of Cæsarea Philippi, and so belonged to the Hermon range. See 8:27.
κατʼ ἰδίαν μόνους—apart alone. This account gives no reason for this privacy, and Mt. is equally silent. But Lk. tells us that Jesus went up into the mountain to pray. This gives a rational turn to the whole occurrence, leaving us to suppose that the transfiguration was incidental to it, and not the purpose of our Lord’s going up into the mountain. He was glorified before the disciples, but it is quite out of character for him to deliberately set about such a transaction. This opens the way for another suggestion as to the real character of the event. Jesus would be led to special prayer at this time by the events on which it seems that his mind was fixed, and which formed the subject of conversation between himself and his disciples. The subject of his discourse at this period was the approaching tragical end of his life. And it is Lk. again, who tells us that this was the subject of conversation between himself and the heavenly visitants at this time. It looks then, as if this was a case in which the mind of the writer was fixed on the surface of things, who has told his story too in such a way as to fix our attention on the mere physical accompaniments of the scene, the shining of Jesus’ garments, rather than the glory of his countenance, while at the same time, he has himself given us the suggestions for a deeper reading of it. According to the ordinary view, arising from this emphasis of the physical side of it, the transfiguration was a gleam of our Lord’s true glory in the midst of the surrounding darkness, showing that he was divine in spite of his humiliation and death. But, according to our Lord’s own view, which he came into the world to set up, over against its superficial worldliness, his glory was essentially in his humiliation and death, not in spite of it. And here, his spirit was glorified by dwelling in the midst of these high purposes and resolves until its glory broke through the veil of flesh, and irradiated his whole being.
καὶ μετεμορφώθη1—and was transfigured before them. All the particulars given are, in our account, the shining whiteness of his garments, and in Mt. and Lk. this with the shining or (Lk.) the change of his face.
3. καὶ τὰ ἱμάτια ἐγένετο στίλβοντα,2 λευκὰ λίαν (omit ὡς χίων)—and his garments became shining, exceedingly white.
Omit ὡς χίων, as snow, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCL Δ 1, two mss. Lat. Vet. one ms. Vulg.
οἷα γναφεὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς οὐ δύναται οὕτως λευκᾶναι—literally, such as a fuller upon the earth cannot so whiten.
Insert οὕτως, so, before λευκᾶναι Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCLN Δ 13, 28, 33, 69, 116, 124, 346, two mss. Lat. Vet. Egyptt.
4. Ἡλείας σὺν Μωϋσεῖ—Elijah with Moses. Elijah is generally said to be the representative of O.T. prophecy, Moses of the Law. But this distinction is more apparent than real. Moses was a prophet, and the law that he gave was a part of his prophetic utterance; while Elijah had nothing to do with the predictive, certainly with the Messianic side of prophecy, according to the record, but it was his province to reveal to men the Divine law and make real to them the Divine lawgiver. But these were two men in the O.T. history who made a mysterious exit from this world, and they are the ones selected for a mysterious return in the N.T.1 The subject of their conversation with Jesus is not given in Mt., or Mk., but Lk. tells us that it was “his decease which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem” (9:31).
5. ἀποκριθεὶς—answering. That is, responding not to something said, but done. What he said was drawn out not by the words of another, but by the occasion. Μωϋσεῖ … κ. Ἡλείᾳ—Moses and Elijah. Peter would gather from the conversation who the men were. What he proposed to build was three huts, such as could be constructed out of the material found on the mountain. σκηνάς—is the word for any temporary structure.
6. οὐ γὰρ ᾔδει τί ἀποκριθῇ—for he did not know what to answer. This implies the strangeness of his proposition. If he had known what to say, he would not have said any so foolish thing. The situation was not one to be prolonged. Heavenly visitors do not come to stay. ἔκφοβοι γὰρ ἐγένοντο—for they became completely frightened.2
This reading, instead of ἦσαν γὰρ ἔκφοβοι (became, instead of were), Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCL Δ 33, most mss. Lat. Vet. ἀποκριθῇ, answer, instead of λαλήσῃ, say, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BC* L Δ 1, 28, 33, one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph.
καὶ ἐγένετο φωνὴ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός—And a voice came out of the cloud, This is my beloved Son. These same words were uttered by the heavenly voice at the baptism, and they are repeated in 2 Peter 1:17, in referring to the transfiguration. See Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22, Luke 9:35. For the meaning of Son, see note on 1:11.
ἐγένετο, instead of ἦλθε, Tisch. Treg. marg. WH. RV, א BCL Δ Memph. Pesh. Harcl. marg. Omit λέγουσα, saying, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCN X ΓΠ one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph.
8. ἐξάπινα—suddenly.3 The vision vanished suddenly, and things returned to their natural condition. There is a difference of opinion whether the adverb belongs with the participle or the verb. It can make little difference, since both denote parts of the same act, looking and seeing. But this very fact shows that the adv. belongs with the part., since to put it with the verb separates the two closely related parts of the same act. In accordance with this principle, we should say, suddenly they looked around and saw, not, they looked around and suddenly saw. And for the same reason, the Greek joins the adverb and the part. ἐξάπινα denotes the quick transition from the heavenly vision to ordinary conditions.
εἰ μὴ before τὸν Ἰησοῦν, instead of ἀλλὰ, WH. RV. א BDN 33, 61, Latt. Memph. ἀλλὰ is adversative, not meaning except, and irregular here, so that internal probability favors that reading.
ELIJAH AND THE SON OF MAN
9-13. Conversation with the disciples on the way down the mountain. They question him about the coming of Elijah.
On the way down the mountain, Jesus charges the disciples not to tell any one what they had seen, until the Son of Man is risen from the dead. This strange saying about the resurrection of the Messiah they seized upon, and debated its meaning. Then this appearance of Elijah suggests the question, why the Scribes put that appearance before the Messianic advent, and this question they put to Jesus. He answers that it is true, Elijah does come first, and that this is a fulfilment of prophecy which points to the fulfilment of the other prediction in regard to the suffering and rejection of the Son of Man. And to clinch the matter, he says that John’s fate is only carrying out another writing.
9. καὶ καταβαινόντων ἐκ τοῦ ὄρους—And as they were coming down out of the mountain.1
Καὶ καταβαινόντων, instead of καταβαινόντων δὲ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCDLN Δ 33, Latt. Memph. Pesh. ἐκ, instead of ἀπὸ, Treg. marg. WH. BD 33.
ἵνα μηδενὶ, etc.—that they tell no one. This command is given for the same reason as the injunction of secrecy in regard to his miracles. These external things are misleading to one who has not attained something like the inner point of view of Jesus. It coincided also with the charge to keep silence about his Messiahship. The misconception of the Messianic idea among the people led them to misunderstand everything that might point to his Messiahship. The people were excited with false hopes, which this marvellous story would only intensify. After the resurrection, when his death had put an end to false expectations, and the resurrection had pointed to his true glory, then, in that new time, stories of his earthly glory and power would help forward the truth.
εἰ μὴ ὅταν—except whenever. ὅταν, whenever, is intended to leave the time of the resurrection indefinite and contingent.
10. τὸν λόγον ἐκράτησαν—not to be connected with πρὸς ἐαυτοὺς,—they kept the saying to themselves, which does not give ἐκράτησαν a proper meaning, and does not accord with the fact that Jesus restricted his announcement of the resurrection only to the twelve, not to the three; nor is it to be translated, they kept the saying, in the sense of obedience; but the meaning is, they seized this word about the resurrection, it clung to them, they did not let go of it.1 πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς συνζητοῦντες τί ἐστι τὸ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῆναι,2—questioning among themselves what the rising from the dead is. Not what the resurrection means in general, which they as orthodox Jews at this time would know well enough; but what it meant in the case of Jesus, involving, as it did, his death.
11. Ὅτι λέγουσιν οἱ γραμματεῖς—why do the Scribes say …? The difficulty with this rendering is, that the direct question, rendered necessary by the introduction of λέγοντες, is introduced by the indirect interrogative ὅτι. An alternative rendering is, the Scribes say, the demonstrative ὅτι being used to introduce a direct quotation. The difficulty with this is, that it is a statement, instead of the question required by ἐπηρώτων. But the question is easily implied. However, the rendering of it as a question is on the whole more probable.3 It is suggested by this appearance of Elijah on the mountain, which leads them to ask how it is, that Elijah’s appearance is treated by the scribes as a sign of the advent of the Messiah, while this appearance follows the advent, and Jesus commands them to keep his appearing silent. πρῶτον—first, that is, before the manifestation of the Messiah.
12. Ὁ δὲ ἔφη—And he said.
ἔφη, instead of ἀποκριθείς, εἶπεν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCL Δ Memph. Pesh.
Ἡλείας μὲν—The particle here is concessive; I grant you Elijah does come; and ἀλλὰ introduces the modifying statement about the manner of his coming, which was not in keeping with their expectation. He comes, to be sure, but not as a mere appearance that keeps him out of the hands of men and the grasp of fate, but in such a way that men do as they please with him. ἀποκαθιστάνει πάντα—restores all things.
ἀποκαθιστάνει, instead of ἀποκαθιστᾷ, Tisch. Treg. אc AB3 L Δ 1, 28, 33, 118. ἀποκατιστάνει, WH. B*. ἀποκατάστανει, א * D.
This is Jesus’ brief rendering of the prophecy (Malachi 3:5, Malachi 3:6), that Elijah will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and of the children to the fathers. His coming, too, is put in connection with an injunction to remember the law of Moses, meaning that it signifies an enforcement of the Divine law. Such a restoration, bringing things back to their standard in the law, was accomplished in the work of John the Baptist, to whom evidently Jesus refers. Matthew 17:13 says that the disciples understood him to refer to the Baptist. κ. πῶς γέγραπται ἐπὶ τ. υἱὸν τ. ἀνθρώπου;—the question probably ends here—and how has it been written about the Son of Man? The answer is given in ἵνα πολλὰ πάθῃ κ. ἐξουδενωθῇ,—that he suffer many things and be set at naught.1 Jesus matches their prophecy quoted by the scribes with another in regard to the Son of Man, meaning to imply that the fulfilment of the one makes probable the fulfilment of the other. The prophecy that the Messiah should suffer (in the prophecy itself it is the Servant of Jehovah) is found in Isa_53. ἐξουδ(θ)ενω(η)θῇ2—be set at naught.
13. ἀλλὰ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι κ. Ἡλείας ἐλήυθεν—but I say unto you, that also Elijah has come. καὶ before Ἡλείας means also, he too, as well as the Messiah. This contains the minor premise of the argument, which runs as follows: The fulfilment of the prophecy in regard to Elijah makes probable the fulfilment of that in regard to the Son of Man; the former prophecy has been fulfilled, therefore look for the fulfilment of the other. κ. ἐποίησαν αὐτῷ, etc.,—and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it has been written in regard to him. Here is another fulfilment in regard to the same man, which increases the probability just named. Moreover, this prophecy in regard to his fate puts his case on precisely parallel lines to that of the Messiah. He too, like the Messiah, is the subject of expectation on the one hand, and of prophecy on the other, which are entirely inconsistent. In his case it is the adverse event of prophecy that has been accomplished, which strengthens the conviction that the like will happen to the Messiah. ὅσα ἤθελον—whatever they wished. This might seem an inconclusive statement, without the addition of what it was that men wished. But in reality, this is a striking statement of the way in which the Divine plan differs from the human, which made the fate of John and of Jesus certain. Men expected it as a part of the Messianic programme that God would interpose in behalf of his servants, so that men could not do to them what they pleased. But in God’s spiritual kingdom, force is not opposed to force, and so men did to John what they pleased. The inference is, they will do to the Son of Man likewise. Only now, with the introduction of this
ἤθελον, instead of ἠθέλησαν, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BC* DL.
ὅσα ἤθελον, it becomes no longer a mere fulfilment of prophecy, but an application of the immutable Divine principle to parallel cases.
καθὼς γέγραπται—as it has been written. This might refer to the general statements in regard to the maltreatment of the prophets. But it is personal, something written about him, and this makes it more probable that the reference is to Elijah, who suffered for righteousness’ sake in the same way. It is this concrete case of such maltreatment that becomes a prophecy of the fate of the man who has succeeded to his spirit, and so to his fate. See 1 K. 18:17 sqq. 19:1 sqq. This becomes thus a good example of the broad way in which Jesus treats prophecy.
A DEMONIAC HEALED
14-29. Healing of a demoniac, on the return from the mountain, whom the disciples left behind had failed to heal, owing to their lack of faith.
On his return from the mountain, Jesus finds a multitude gathered, and a dispute going on between his disciples and some Scribes about a failure of the disciples to heal a demoniac boy, whom his father had brought to them. Jesus cries out against the unbelief which had caused this failure, and orders the boy to be brought to him. After some inquiries about the case, prompted apparently only by his interest in it, Jesus assures him that all things are possible to faith, which draws from the father the pathetic plea that he believes, but begs for help even in case of his unbelief. Whereupon Jesus orders the unclean spirit to leave his victim, which he does with a final convulsion, which seemed like death. But Jesus took him by the hand, and raised him up.
14. καὶ ἐλθόντες … εἶδον (-δαν)—and having come, they saw.
ἐλθόντες … εἶδον (WH. -δαν), instead of ἐλθὼν … εἶδεν, having come, he saw, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BL Δ one ms. Lat. Vet.
καὶ γραμματεῖς συνζητοῦντας πρὸς αὐτούς—and Scribes disputing against them. The prep. denotes the hostility of the Scribes better than the dat.
πρὸς αὐτούς, instead of αὐτοῖς, with them, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א*et c. , BCGIL Δ 1, 28, 118, 124, most mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg.
This incident of the Scribes is introduced by Mk. alone, who, as usual, brings the scene before us, and not the bare event. The cause of the dispute was the failure of the disciples to cure the demoniac, which gave the Scribes a chance to throw doubt on their healing power.
15. πᾶς ὁ ὄχλος ἰδόντες αὐτόν, ἐξεθαμβήθησαν—all the crowd, having seen them, were utterly astonished.1
ἰδόντες ἐξεθαμβήθησαν, instead of ἰδὼν, ἐξεθαμβήθη Tisch. Treg. WH. א BCDIL Δ 1, 13, 27, 28, 33, 69, 124, 209, 346, mss. Lat. Vet. Memph. Pesh. Harcl. marg.
Different reasons are given for this astonishment. Either Jesus’ person still retained some of the glory of the transfiguration, or the people were astonished at his sudden and opportune appearance. Against the former it seems conclusive that he treats the transfiguration as an esoteric event, which would not have permitted him to make his appearance among the people until the effect had entirely passed away. Their surprise was a joyous surprise at this unexpected coming, so that they ran and greeted him.
16. ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτούς—he asked them. The pronoun evidently refers to the multitude just mentioned.
αὐτούς, instead of τοὺς γραμματεῖς, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDL Δ 1, 28, 209, mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph.
Τί συνζητεῖτε πρὸς αὐτούς;—What are you disputing with them? αὐτούς here refers to the disciples.
17. καὶ ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ εἷς—And one … answered him. εἷς—one made answer, though the question was addressed to the crowd. εἷς is not like the indefinite τις, but calls attention to the number.
ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ, instead of ἀποκριθεὶς … εἶπε, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDL Δ 28, 33, mss. Lat. Vet. Memph.
πνεῦμα ἄλαλον—a dumb spirit. For other instances of this accompaniment of the disease, see Matthew 9:32, Matthew 12:22.
18. ὅπου ἐὰν—wherever.
ἐὰν,2 instead of ἂν, Tisch. Treg. WH. אc ABK Δ Π.
ῥήσσει—convulses. This meaning of the word is not very well established, but in σπαράσσω, the meaning tear passes over into that of convulse, and it is so used in v. 20. This establishes a precedent for the like transformation in this word. The congenital relation of these two verbs makes it improbable that they would be employed in a different sense about the same matter, and is so far against the Revisers’ Translation, dasheth him down. ξηραίνεται—is wasting away. The symptoms mentioned are those of epilepsy. The ῥήσσει, κ. ἀφρίζει κ. τρίζει are connected with ὅπου ἐὰν καταλάβῃ; but ξηραίνεται is a general symptom of the disease. The Eng. Ver. connects ἀφρίζει, κ. τρίζει, κ. ξηραίνεται, and puts ῥήσσει by itself. It should read, whenever it seizes him, it convulses him, and he foams and gnashes his teeth; and he is wasting away. τοῖς μαθηταῖς—As the man did not find Jesus, he brought him to the disciples. See v. 17.
Omit αὐτοῦ after ὀδόντας, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BC* DL Δ 1, 13, 33, 59, 69, 73, 209, mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg.
καὶ εἶπα τοῖς μαθηταῖς σου ἵνα αὐτὸ ἐκβαλῶσι—and I spoke to thy disciples that they should cast it out.1
εἶπα, instead of εἶπον, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BFL 1, 28, 209.
19. Ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτοῖς, λέγει—And he answering them, says.
αὐτοῖς, instead of αὐτῷ, him, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABDL ΔΠ* 1, 28, 33, most mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph. Syrr.
αὐτοῖς—to them. Jesus’ reply is not addressed to the man, who seems not to have shown any lack of faith, but to the disciples, who have just been mentioned by the father, and to whom the words specially apply, since it was their unbelief that led to the fiasco. Later, the man seems to have lost heart over the failure of the disciples, so that he puts an if you can into his appeal to Jesus (v. 22).
῏Ω γενεὰ ἄπιστος, ἕως πότε πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἔσομαι; ἕως πότε ἀνέξομαι ὑμῶν;—O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?
γενεὰ—It is possible to translate this race, meaning men of a certain stock or family; but it is more in accordance with almost invariable N.T. usage to translate it generation, men of that time. ἄπιστος—the translation faithless, EV., means generally unfaithful, perfidious, and is therefore ambiguous. It should be translated unbelieving. ἕως πότε—literally, until when.2 πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἔσομαι;—shall I be with you? The question, as appears from the next question, arises from the almost intolerable nature of his intercourse with a generation so spiritually dull and unsympathetic. It is the question of one who feels that his surroundings have become almost unbearable, and who wonders how long they are going to last. ἀνέξομαι ὑμῶν;3—shall I bear with you?
20. ἰδὼν—having seen. Regularly, the part. agrees with neither τὸ πνεῦμα, nor αὐτόν after συνεσπάραξεν. According to the sense, since the action of the verb belongs to the spirit, and is occasioned by the action denoted by the participle, it would be the spirit which is described as having seen Jesus. But he does this with the eyes of the man, and hence the masc. form of the part.
In all these stories, the man and the evil spirit get mixed up in this way. The outward acts belong to the man, but the informing spirit is sometimes that of the man, and sometimes the evil spirit. συνεσπάραξεν—convulsed him.1
συνεσπάραξεν, instead of ἐσπάραξεν, Tisch. Treg. marg. א BCL Δ 33, mss. Lat. Vet. Memph. Syrr.
ἐκυλίετο—he rolled around. Wallow suggests things not implied in this verb.
21. ὡς τοῦτο γέγονεν αὐτῷ—since this has come to him. This conversation with the father has been preserved by Mk. alone, with his customary fulness in the narration of events. All attempts to discover special motives for this question of Jesus, aside from the general interest of a sympathetic person in the case, are unavailing. It has no special bearing on the cure to be performed. Ἐκ παιδιόθεν—from childhood.2
Insert ἐκ before παιδιόθεν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCDGILN Δ 1, 33, 118, 209.
22. καὶ εἰς πῦρ … κ. εἰς ὕδατα—both into fire and into waters. The plur. = bodies of water. εἴ τι δύνῃ—if you are at all able. There is no inf. implied here, the pronoun being construed with the verb immediately according to the Greek idiom.3
23. Τὸ εἰ δύνῃ4—(omit πιστεῦσαι). If thou canst. Jesus repeats the father’s words in order to call attention to them, and to the doubt expressed in them, which would stand in the way of his petition. The art. adds to the emphasis with which he points to these words, as we say, That “if you can.” πάντα δυνατὰ τῷ πιστεύοντι—Over against the father’s doubt, the Lord puts the omnipotence of faith, which places at man’s disposition the Divine power.
Omit πιστεῦσαι, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BC* L Δ 1, 118, 209, 244, one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph.
24. Εὐθὺς κράξας ὁ πατὴρ τοῦ παιδίου ἔλεγε, πιστεύω, βοήθει μου τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ—Immediately the father of the boy cried out and said, I believe; help my unbelief. This does not mean “help me to turn my unbelief into belief,” but “help me out of my trouble, in spite of any unbelief that you may find in me.” He claims at first, that he does believe, notwithstanding any appearance to the contrary in his language. And yet, he does not rest his case there, but pleads with Jesus to show him mercy in any case. He pleads the compassion of Jesus, instead of his own faith, and so unconsciously showed a genuine faith.
Omit καὶ Tisch. (Treg.) WH. RV. אc BL Δ one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph. Omit μετὰ δακρύων, with tears, א A* BC* L Δ 28, one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph. Omit Κύριε, lord, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABC* DL 346 mss. Lat. Vet. one ms. Vulg. Syrr.
25. ὅτι ἐπισυντρέχει (ὁ) ὄχλος—that a (the) crowd is running together besides (those already gathered). The evidence for the insertion or omission of the art. is evenly divided. The anarthrous noun is more consistent with the meaning of ἐπισυντρέχει. ἐπι—adds to συντρέχει, is running together, the meaning besides, i.e. in addition to those already collected.1 The part. ἰδὼν is causal; it was because Jesus saw this, that he rebuked the demon. He did not wish to attract a larger crowd by prolonging the scene, and so, without any further delay, he proceeded with the cure. It is his usual avoidance of any notoriety in his miracles. τὸ ἄλαλον καὶ κωφὸν πνεῦμα—thou dumb and deaf spirit. The story has grown by so much, since the first mention of the spirit. Then it was dumb, which was more than the other Gospels tell us, now it has become deaf and dumb.
τὸ ἄλαλον καὶ κωφὸν πνεῦμα, instead of τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἄλαλον καὶ κωφὸν, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BC* DL Δ 1, 33, 73, 118, Latt. Memph.
26. καὶ κράξας καὶ πολλὰ σπαράξας, ἐξῆλθε—And having cried out and convulsed (him) violently, he came out.
κράξας καὶ. σπαράξας, instead of the neuter, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BC* DL (Δ). Omit αὐτόν, him, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. אcorr. BC* DL Δ mss. Lat. Vet.
κράξας κ. σπαράξας—The masc. gender shows that the writer thought of the spirit as a person.
ἐγένετο ὡσεὶ νεκρός—he became as if dead. It is impossible to account for this final convulsion. If Jesus, e.g., were restoring a drowned person, would the horrible feelings attending a natural restoration be avoided? And whether any such violent wrench of mind and body would attend a sudden cure of insanity, we do not know.
ὥστε τοὺς πολλοὺς λέγειν2—so that the most said.
Insert τοὺς before πολλοὺς Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABL Δ 33.
27. κρατήσας τῆς χειρὸς αὐτοῦ—having taken his hand.
τῆς χειρὸς αὐτοῦ, instead of αὐτὸν τῆς χειρός, him by the hand, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDL Δ 1, 13, 28, 53, 69, 118, 209, Latt. Memph.
28. καὶ εἰσελθόντος αὐτοῦ1—And he having entered.
εἰσελθόντος αὐτοῦ, instead of the acc., Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCDL Δ 1, 13, 28, 69, 118, 209, 346 (Latt.).
ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν—Why could not we? On the use of ὅτι, see on v. 11. There seems to be no reason whatever here for supposing that this is a statement, instead of a question. There is a kind of challenge in the statement, that is evidently not in their minds. They mean simply to ask the question, why they could not perform this miracle, when Jesus had given them power over unclean spirits.
29. τοῦτο τὸ γένος—this kind of thing, i.e. the genus evil spirit; not this kind of spirit, as if this was a specially vicious kind of spirit, that it took a good deal to exorcise. ἐν προσευχῇ—in prayer. καὶ νηστείᾳ, and fasting, is an evident gloss. It is one of the things that a later asceticism imported into the spiritual teaching of Jesus. It seems to be implied in the question of the disciples that they had expected to cast out the demon, so that their lack of faith in the matter had not taken the shape of doubt of their power. But what was lacking was prayer, which is the expression of faith considered as dependence on the Divine power and confidence in that. It is the sense of God that conveys all kinds of spiritual power. But this power was not subjective, it did not reside in themselves, but was power to move God, and this precludes the idea that a special degree of this power was necessary in the case of so stubborn a demon as this. But it is a general statement that miracles of any kind are possible only to him who prays.
Omit καὶ νηστείᾳ, Tisch. (Treg. marg.) WH. RV. א* B one ms. Lat. Vet. It is one of the things that would stand no chance of omission, if found in the original. Evidence shows that it was interpolated in a like passage (1 Corinthians 7:5).
SECOND PREDICTION OF DEATH
30-32. Jesus returns through Galilee, and again seeks to hide his presence, in order to convey to his disciples the esoteric teaching about his death. The same particulars are given as in the previous announcement, that he will be delivered up, and put to death, and will rise again after three days. But they did not know what he was saying, and were afraid to question him.
30. κἀκεῖθεν ἐξελθόντες (παρ) ἐπορεύοντο—and having gone out from that place, they were coming. The place which they left was the vicinity of Cæsarea Philippi. Their journey through Galilee to Capernaum would take them on the west side of the Jordan.
ἐπορεύοντο, instead of παρεπορεύοντο, Treg. WH. B* Dgr. mss. Lat. Vet.
καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν ἵνα τις γνοῖ—and did not wish that any one should know it.1 Jesus’ desire to escape notice is a continuation of the policy pursued by him since his departure to Tyre and Sidon(7:24). Since that time, he has been mostly in strange places, accompanied by his disciples alone, and preparing them for the approaching crisis in his life.
γνοῖ, instead of γνῷ, Tisch. Treg. WH. א BCDL.
31. ἐδίδασκεν γὰρ etc.—for he was teaching his disciples. This esoteric teaching was the reason of his desire to escape observation. Prediction of things to be done by men is apt to prejudice the event. It was necessary that the disciples should be prepared for so startling an issue, but the world is left wisely to the tutelage of unforeseen events. παραδίδοται—is delivered over. The present is used to denote the certainty of the future event.2 μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας—after three days. The resurrection was really on the third day. But the usage of speech allowed this to be spoken of in either way.
32. ἠγνόουν τὸ ρῆμα—they did not understand the word. This passage and the parallel (Luke 9:45) are the only ones in which this verb is used with the meaning understand, and the peculiar use in passages relating to the same event is strongly corroborative of the interdependence of the accounts. ἐφοβοῦντο αὐτὸν ἐπερωτῆσαι—they feared to question him. They were afraid that further questions would not alleviate, but only aggravate, the situation, and they feared to know the worst.
MEANING OF GREATNESS
33-37. Dispute among the disciples over the question of precedence among them. Jesus defines true greatness for them.
The journey from Cæsarea Philippi brings them to Capernaum, where Jesus begins to question them about a dispute which they had had on the road, and which they evidently desire to conceal from him. We learn elsewhere that James and John actually asked him for first and second place among his followers, when the time should come to distribute these honors (10:35). And probably, this was an outcropping of the same spirit. The first three places were conceded to these two and to Peter. But which was to be primus? Jesus answers this question by putting before them the paradox of the kingdom, that last is first, and service is greatness. Then he takes a child, and teaches them that the spirit of the child is the mark of the king, to receive one such is to receive him, and to receive him is to receive God.
33. καὶ ἦλθον εἰς Καφαρναούμ—And they came to Capernaum.
ἦλθον, instead of ἦλθεν, he came, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א B (D) 1, 118, 209, most mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Pesh.
γενόμενος—being (AV.), and when he was (RV.), do not translate this verb, which denotes becoming not being. Having come to be, or having come, translates it. Τί ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ διελογίζεσθε—The verb is impf. and means were disputing.
Omit πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς, among yourselves, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCDL mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. Memph.
34. ἐσιώπων—were silent. But kept silent is better, which is another meaning of the impf. The merging of all these different shades of meaning into the simple past tense is one of the imperfections of the AV. This silence was due to their shame. They knew Jesus’ opinion of such disputes. διελέχθησαν—they had disputed.1 τίς μείζων—who is greatest? That is, which of them? Winer contends, that the compar. is used here with perfect regularity, since the object with which the comparison is made is really only one.2 But this would make it possible to substitute the compar. for the superl. in all cases, since the greatest is always greater than all the rest, the comparison being made always not with individuals, but with all taken together. But this confusion is one of the signs of degeneracy in a decadent language.
35. πάντων ἔσχατος καὶ π. δίακονος—he shall be last of all, and servant of all. This is the way to be great among the disciples of Jesus. It does not point out the penalty of ambition, as we might gather from the certain disapproval of the ordinary ambition by Jesus, but the way of satisfying Christian ambition. But the method is a paradox, like the beatification of sorrow. The Christian way to be first is to be last, to fall to the rear, to efface yourself. But it is not only humility that is demanded, but service. This again is a paradox, since primacy means dominion, the faculty not of serving, but of levying service on others. But these things, humility and service, in the kingdom of God, not only lead to greatness, they are greatness, i.e. they are the supreme marks of the Christian quality. And it is one of the signs that the world is becoming a seat of the kingdom of God, that rulers, leaders, employers, and others, are beginning to recognize this idea of service as the meaning of their position.
36. ἐναγκαλισάμενος—a Biblical word, corresponding exactly to our embrace, en bras, for which the Greeks said ἐν ἀγκάλαις λαμβάνω.
37. ἕν τῶν παιδίων τοιούτων—one of such little children. The child meant by our Lord is not a child in years, but in spirit, a person possessed of the childlike quality. The child is the best example of the type just held up before the disciples by our Lord, and he is himself the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. When he says then, that to receive such a childlike person is the same as to receive him, he is affirming again, in his striking way, that humility and service are the marks of greatness in his kingdom; they are, that is, the things that identify a man with him.1
ὅς ἂν, instead of ὅς ἐὰν, Tisch. Treg. WH. א ABCDL Δ 1, 13, 28, 69. In the second clause the same, Tisch. Treg. WH. BDL Δ
ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου—upon my name, i.e. on the strength of my name. The prep. denotes the basis, the ground of the reception. This use of the word ὄνομα to denote the various things about a person recalled by his name, especially in the phrase ἐν or ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι, is not Greek, but Hebrew. The phrase indicates that a person is so connected with another, that he receives whatever consideration belongs to that other. The connection of thought, however, shows that, just as the personal consideration is excluded by this phrase, showing that the man is not received for himself, but because of Jesus; so it cannot be a mere outward connection with our Lord, but because the man’s childlikeness makes him like Jesus, so that men are reminded of Jesus when they see him. οὐκ ἐμὲ δέχεται, ἀλλὰ τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με—receives not me but him who sent me. Christ did not represent himself in the world, but the Father, a fact developed at great length in the fourth Gospel. This representative character belongs to him as the one sent by the Father into the world. But in this case also, the connection is not outward, but inward. To be sent by God is to be inspired by him, to be filled with His Spirit, and so the spirit of humility and service, in the disciple, and in Jesus himself, is here carried a step farther back, and is shown to be that of the Father. In such a child, Jesus says, you see me, yes, and God himself.
38-50. The disciples tell Jesus of their interference with one casting out demons in his name, but not following them. Jesus’ reply.
The belief of the disciples in the near approach of the kingdom seems to have wrought in them other effects than ambition. So far, the power to work miracles had been confined to themselves. And it seemed to them a mark of superiority to which they had the exclusive right. So we find John, apparently in the course of this same conversation, telling Jesus of the case of an outsider who had used his name in casting out demons, and had been forbidden by them any further exercise of a power appropriated to them. Jesus’ answer is substantially that they are right, that the work of a disciple does belong to a disciple; but that they have turned this the wrong way. It does not lead to officialism, but just the opposite. It follows, not that any one who is outside their circle should be forbidden their work, but that the doing of the work shows that he is like them inwardly, though not outwardly. Their complaint is, that he is doing their work. Very well, Jesus says, that shows that he is on your side. It is not necessary to do a miracle to show this; a cup of water given to them because they are disciples shows the same thing. But if any one causes the fall of one of the humblest of these disciples, it would be better for him to be cast into the sea, with a millstone round his neck. And since to fall away is so grievous an evil, they would better cut off hand, or foot, or eye, than have any member cause their fall, since this means Gehenna and its fires to them. Fire is to salt them all, either the fire of affliction here, or the fire of Gehenna there. Fire is salt, and salt is good; but if any salt loses its flavor, how is salt to be salted? Hence they must have salt in themselves to render these outward purifiers effective, and especially must be at peace among themselves, an injunction which their jealousies and rivalries rendered necessary.
38. Ἔφη αὐτῶ ὁ Ἰωάννης, Διδάσκαλε, εἴδομέν τινα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου ἐκβάλλοντα δαιμόνια, καὶ ἐκωλεύομεν αὐτόν, ὅτι οὐκ ἠκολούθει ἡμῖν—John said to him, Teacher, we saw one casting out demons in thy name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.
Ἔφη, instead of ἀπεκρίθη δέ … λέγων. And … answered, saying, Tisch. Treg. (who, however, retains λέγων) WH. RV. א B L Memph. Pesh. Insert ἐν before τ. ὀνόματι Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCDLN Δ 1, 69, etc. Omit ὅς οὐκ ἀκολουθεῖ ἡμῖν, who does not follow us, WH. RV. א BCL Δ 10, 115, 346, one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph. Pesh. ἐκωλύομεν, instead of λύσαμεν, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDgr. L Δ 1, 209. ἠκολούθει, instead of ἀκολουθεῖ, after ὅτι οὐκ, Tisch. WH. RV. א B Δ.
Διδάσκαλε—Teacher, not Master. The word in the vernacular used by him would be Rabbi. ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου—in thy name. See on v. 37. In this case, it means, by the authority of Jesus. ὅτι οὐκ ἠκολούθει—because he was not following. The impf. takes us back to the time of the transaction, when the disciples saw him casting out demons. They were right in assuming this to be an abnormal case, because the proper place for the disciple assuming such powers was with Jesus. The Master kept such in his immediate company for instruction, and even his immediate disciples he sent out on such errands only very rarely. But all such restrictions are themselves limited by the method of the Spirit’s working, which is like the wind, blowing where it will. The disciples had a right to expect that one who had come under the influence of Jesus would, like them, desire to be with him. But they did not take into account the fact that one might, under the influence of such a life, be awakened himself to the want and wretchedness of the world, and wish to put the mysterious power that he felt within him to the test, and that this might overpower even the desire for the companionship of the Lord.
39. κακολογῆσαι—to speak evil.1 Jesus puts the matter immediately upon its proper footing, showing the disciples that, reasoning from the facts within their possession, they ought to have drawn a favorable conclusion. To be sure, it was so far against the man, that he did not company with them; but that was not conclusive. Whereas it was conclusive, that he was able to perform the miracle. The test whether one is fit to perform an act is the performance of the act. A man’s fitness to write poetry, to preach, to paint, to perform miracles, is proved by his performance in each case. Can he do the thing? But here there was a further question involved, whether the man really belonged to the disciples of Jesus, and so had a right to use the name that he had used in casting out the demons. The fact, that he did not follow the disciples, seemed to be against his own right as a disciple, but this was entirely overborne by the effect that followed his use of the name. He could not cast out demons, actually cast them out, in the name of Jesus, and then turn around and revile it. Or, as Jesus says, he could not do it ταχὺ, quickly. The two things are incongruous, so that they could not follow each other rapidly.
40. ὃς οὐκ ἔστιν καθʼ ἡμῶν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν—he who is not against us is for us. This is not the opposite of “he that is not with me is against me,” but its complement (Matthew 12:30). There Jesus is talking about this same matter of casting out demons, which he had been accused of doing in the name of Beelzebub. But he answers that the act is one of hostility to Satan, and cannot therefore proceed from Satan himself. One cannot be for and against at the same time. Then he applies the same principle to himself, saying that he who is not for him is against him. Here, he shows that this same act of casting out demons is friendly to himself, as it is hostile to Satan, and that he who shows himself thus friendly, cannot be at the same time hostile. The use which is often made of Matthew 12:30, to show that there is no such thing as indifference to Jesus, but that seeming indifference is real hostility, is unwarrantable. The real meaning of both passages is, that friendliness and hostility are incongruous, and cannot therefore exist together.
ἡμῶν, us, instead of ὑμῶν, you, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCΔ 1, 13, 69, 209, one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph. Harcl. marg.
41. ὅς γὰρ ἂν ποτίσῃ ὑμᾶς ποτήριον ὕδατος ἐν ὀνόματι ὅτι χριστοῦ ἐστε—For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink on the ground that you belong to Christ. ὀνόματι is used here like the Latin nomen to denote cause or season. RV. because ye are Christ’s. This confirms the preceding by showing that even a small service done in his name will be taken as showing friendliness to him, and so will not lose its reward. It gets its character from its motive of attachment to him.
Omit τῷ before ὀνόματι Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABCLNC ΓΠ. Omit μου, my, after ὀνόματι Treg. WH. RV. אc ABC* KLN Π* 1, 229, 238, 435, Pesh. Harcl. text. Insert μου Tisch. א* C3 DX ΓΔΠ2 Latt. Memph. Harcl. marg. The pleonasm favors this reading, as Tisch. says. Insert ὅτι, that, before οὐ μὴ ἀπολέσῃ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BC* DL Δ mss. Lat. Vet. one ms. Vulg. Syrr. Memph.
42. καὶ ὅς ἂν σκανδαλίσῃ ἕνα τούτων τῶν μικρῶν πιστευόντων, καλόν ἐστιν αὐτῶ μάλλον, εἰ περίκειται μύλος ὀνικὸς—And whoever causes the fall of one of these little ones who believe, it is well for him rather, if an upper millstone is hung around his neck.
Insert τούτων, these, before τῶν μικρῶν, little ones, Tisch. Treg. (Treg. marg.) WH. RV. א ABC* and 2 DLM2 N Δ 1, mss. of Lat. Vet. Memph. Harcl. Omit εἰς ἐμέ, in me, after τῶν πιστευόντων, who believe, Tisch. WH. RV. (Treg. marg.) א Δ mss. Lat. Vet. also C* D one ms. Lat. Vet., which read πίστιν ἐχόντων, have faith, without εἰς ἐμέ. μύλος ὀνικὸς, upper millstone, instead of λίθος μυλικὸς, a millstone, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCDL Δ Latt. Pesh.
This presents the other side, the result of injuring one of his disciples. But it is noticeable that the injury is a spiritual one. Not that other hurts inflicted on them would not be taken as indicating hostility to him, but that Jesus, when he thinks of such injuries, singles out those inflicted on their spiritual nature as the only ones that will really harm them, though others show the disposition to harm them. καλόν ἐστιν αὐτῷ μᾶλλον—it is well for him rather.1 Regularly, the form of conditional sentence employed would correspond to the assumption that the condition is contrary to the fact; i.e. past tenses of the ind. would be employed. The English Version indicates this by its translation, it were better, were hung, and were cast. The present construction, making it a pure condition, leaves out of sight that the clause ὃς ἄν σκανδαλίσῃ has already assumed σκανδαλίζειν,—causing to fall, as the actual case. μύλος ὀνικός—an upper millstone. Both words are Biblical, and ὀνικός is found only here and in the parallel passage (Matthew 18:6). This is another case, therefore, in which only the interdependence of the written accounts will account for the identity of the language. The grist was ground in a mill between an upper and under stone, the under one being stationary, and the upper one turned by an ass, whence the name ὀνικός.
43. καὶ ἐὰν σκανδαλίσῃ σε ἡ χείρ σου, ἀπόκοψον αὐτήν· καλόν ἐστίν σε κυλλὸν etc.—and if your hand causes you to fall, cut it off; it is well for you to enter into life maimed, etc.
σκανδαλίσῃ, instead of -ζῃ, Tisch. WH. RV. א BL Δ mss. Lat. Vet. Vulg. ἐστίν σε, instead of σοι ἐστὶ, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCL Δ 13, 28, 69 **, 346.
σκανδαλίσῃ—This word forms the connection between this and the preceding discourse. Jesus has begun by speaking of what it is to be identified with him, and incidentally has introduced the subject of the injury inflicted on him by causing the fall of one of his disciples. And in connection with this has come up the question of comparative values, spiritual and material. This leads him to speak of the things in the man himself that would lead to his fall, and to continue the subject of comparative values in connection with that. It is well to cut off hand, or foot, or eye, sooner than run the risk through either of them of absolute spiritual loss. εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τ. ζωήν—to enter into life. Life is the word used in the Bible to express the reward of righteousness. And it is the word which expresses the natural, instead of the imposed consequence of conduct. Conduct reacts on the life, the being of the man, and right conduct conduces to health and fulness of life. εἰς τ. Γέενναν—into Gehenna. This is the Græcized form of גֵי הִנֹּם the Vale of Hinnom, which is the valley on the SE. side of Jerusalem. This valley had been desecrated by the sacrifice of children to Moloch, and had been used as an accursed place, for the refuse and garbage of the city. Here worms consumed the dead matter, and fires were kept burning to destroy the refuse. Hence it came to be used as a name for the place of future punishment. εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον—into the unquenchable fire. This is borrowed from the continual fires of Hinnom spoken of above. And the material figure expresses the idea of destruction, as life denotes the opposite side of retribution. The contrast with ζωήν would indicate that this is the meaning of the figure here, rather than torment. Jesus follows here his usual habit of borrowing current language, which lends itself, however, to the expression of more radical spiritual ideas than it conveyed to the common understanding. This is not a necessary deduction from the language, but its aptness for the expression of the deeper thought, and the aptness of Jesus for the deeper thought, combine to create a strong probability of its correctness.
Omit v. 44, Tisch. WH. RV. א BCL Δ 1, 28, 118, 251.
45. καλόν ἐστίν σε—it is well for you.
ἐστίν σε, instead of ἐστί σοι, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א ABCEFGHKLVX ΔΠ Omit εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον, into the unquenchable fire, Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BCL Δ 1 28, 118, 251, two mss. Lat. Vet. Pesh.
Omit v. 46, same authorities as v. 44.
47. καλόν σέ ἐστιν μονόφθαλμον εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἠ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν, ὅπου, etc.—It is well for you to enter one-eyed into the kingdom of God, than having two eyes to be cast into Gehenna, where, etc.
σέ ἐστιν, instead of σοι ἐστί, Tisch. Treg. WH. (RV.) א B; ἐστίν σε of L Δ. Omit τοῦ πυρός, of fire, after γέενναν (Gehenna of fire, not hell fire), Tisch. Treg. WH. RV. א BDL Δ 1, 28, 118, 209, mss. Lat. Vet. Memph.
Kingdom of God is substituted in this case for life. The contrast with γέενναν shows that it is the future, rather than the present form of the kingdom, that is strictly meant. But in the mouth of Jesus, such a term as kingdom of God has a permanent meaning, which is never lost among the minor changes. To him it meant simply the realm in which the will of God is done. It is well,1 he says, to enter that realm at any cost.
48. ὅπου ὁ σκώληξ αὐτῶν οὐ τελευτᾷ, καὶ τὸ πῦρ οὐ σβέννυται—where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched. Both worm and fire are here destructive forces, and belong in the same category as life and death, denoting natural and not imposed penalties. Of course, it is the soul that undergoes punishment, and the punishment consists in the forces that prey upon it and destroy it. ὁ σκώληξ αὐτῶν—their worm; the worm, i.e. that preys upon the inhabitants of this dread realm.
οὐ τελευτᾶ, καὶ … οὐ σβέννυται—dies not, and … is not quenched. It is the permanence of the retribution that is expressed in these material figures. This is characteristic of natural penalties as distinguished from imposed penalties. Whippings and imprisonments are subject to limitations of time, but the wounds inflicted on the man himself by his sins, the degradation and deterioration of his being, have no such limitation. The worm that gnaws, and the fire that burns inwardly have no limits. They propagate themselves.
49, 50. πᾶς γὰρ πυρὶ ἁλισθήσεται. καλὸν τὸ ἅλα(ς)—For every one shall be salted with fire. Salt is good.
Omit καὶ πᾶσα θυσία ἁλὶ ἁλισθήσεται, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt, Tisch. Treg. marg. (Treg.) WH. RV. א BL Δ 1, 61, 73, 118, 205, 206, 209, 229, 251, 258, 435, one ms. Lat. Vet. Memph. edd.
This is confessedly one of the most difficult passages to interpret in the N.T. In the first place, it seems necessary to connect πυρὶ with πῦρ, v. 48, and ἁλισθήσεται in v. 49 with ἅλας in v. 50. And it is this connection with what precedes and follows that makes trouble. For πυρὶ is also connected with ἁλισθήσεται, and ἁλισθήσεται, from its connection with ἅλας, gets a good meaning, and πυρὶ, from its connection with πῦρ, gets a bad meaning. That makes the crux of the situation. Meyer is about the only one who faces this, and gives us a key that fits into all the wards of the lock. This he does by obtaining his interpretation of ἁλισθήσεται from Leviticus 2:13, where it is called the salt of the covenant. To be salted would mean, therefore, for any one to have the covenant fulfilled on himself. πᾶς would refer thus to those who suffer the doom of Gehenna, and the meaning would be that every one of these shall have the covenant fulfilled on him by its fires. And on the other hand, every sacrifice, such as those make who cut off hand or foot, or eye, to preserve themselves from spiritual loss, will have the covenant fulfilled on them by the salt of purifying wisdom. The difficulty with this very ingenious, and otherwise satisfactory interpretation is, that it involves a recondite allusion to the usages and meanings of ceremonial law, which is entirely foreign to our Lord’s manner of speech. And then, it gives also a double meaning to ἅλας, one in the verb ἁλισθήσεται, and another in the noun itself. This breaks up the connection made by the recurrence of the same keywords, not so badly, to be sure, as when different meanings are assigned to πῦρ in v. 48, 49, but still enough to constitute a difficulty. Another very serious difficulty is, that it requires the retention of the second clause of v. 49, κ. πᾶσα θυσία, etc. This clause is, to say the least, extremely doubtful. And yet, it furnishes the only use of ἅλας giving us a transition to the ἅλας of v. 50, as the meaning of ἁλισθήσεται makes no connection with that. No, we shall have to find an interpretation that will enable us to pass right over from the first clause of v. 49 to v. 50, and that at the same time will preserve the connection with v. 48. Salt in that case will have to denote a purifying element, to connect 49 and 50, and fire will have to denote a destroying element, to connect 48 and 49. That is, we have brought together in this v. 49 the purifying element salt, and the destroying element fire, and the statement is that the destructive element performs a purifying part. The object of all retributions, even of the penal retributions of Gehenna, is to purify. They serve, like sickness in the physical being, to warn man against violations of the law of his being. But the statement is not restricted to these, but is extended, as the unlimited πᾶς naturally suggests, to the cutting off of hand and foot and eye also. Every one shall be purified either by the loss of parts, self-inflicted to preserve the whole, or by the destroying fires of Gehenna. This is the law of our being, and every one has to submit to it, in one form or another.
καλὸν τὸ ἅλας1—salt is good. The special form of purification meant is that of affliction. But the statement is general—that which purifies is good. ἄναλον—literally saltless. ἀρτύσετε2—will you season? The meaning of the proverb is, that there are certain things in the world having special qualities which they can impart to other substances; and if they lose these qualities, what can impart them to the very things which possess them as their special character? In other words, what can perfume the rose? what can salt salt? spice spice? or restore grace where it is lost? So, if loss loses its power to chasten, what will chasten loss? τὸ ἅλα. ἔχετε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἅλα—have salt in yourselves. Our Lord’s injunction is that they have the purifying element in themselves, instead of being dependent on outside agencies, such as loss and retribution, for it. This is the condition of purifying power in the outward agencies. Taste in the man himself is necessary to the savor of salt, feeling to the heat of fire, faith to the grace of God. εἰρηνεύετε ἐν ἀλλήλοις1—cultivate peace, or be at peace, among yourselves. This injunction is the special form of the previous general admonition fitted to the present case. They had been disputing about precedence among themselves, and about rights with another man, whose place among themselves they ought to have recognized.
ἄλας in the first two clauses of v. 50, ABCDNX Π etc. ἅλα, Tisch. א * L Δ. ἅλα in last clause, Tisch. Treg. WH. א * AB * DL Δ 1, 28, 209.
This discourse is evidently one in which the connections of thought have been obscured, and interpretation hindered, by the imperfectness of the report. But our Gospel has preserved for us, however imperfectly, thoughts and connections both characteristic and valuable. In Mt. the setting of the discourse is the same, in Capernaum after the return from the mountain of Transfiguration. And the connections of thought in the conversation are the same, until we come to Mk.’s peculiar ending. Instead of this, we have the parable of the lost sheep, and from that it runs on into different discourse. Lk. introduces the discourse in the same way, but carries it on only through the part relating to the man healing in his name. The danger of leading astray a disciple he introduces elsewhere. But Mk.’s ending, however peculiar and difficult, has an air of verisimilitude, not in form, but in matter.
1 This Greek word is the exact equivalent of the Latin-English words transfigure and transform.
2 This word does not occur elsewhere in the N.T.
WH. Westcott and Hort.
RV. Revised Version.
B Codex Vaticanus.
C Codex Bezae.
L Codex Regius.
1 .Codex Basiliensis
Lat. Vet. Vetus Latina.
N Codex Purpureus.
13 Codex Regius.
28 Codex Regius.
33 Codex Regius.
69 Codex Leicestrensis.
346 Codex Ambrosianus.
Egyptt. Egyptian Versions.
1 See Deuteronomy 34:6, Deuteronomy 34:2 K. 2:11.
2 The prep. in ἔκφοβοι denotes completeness. (English, out and out.) Thay.-Grm. Lex. under ἐκ.
marg. Revided Version marg.
X Codex Wolfi A.
3 ἐξάπινα is a rare, late word for ἐξαίφνης.
D Codex Ephraemi.
Latt. Latin Versions.
1 We say out of the mountain in Eng., thinking of it as something to be penetrated.
1 See Thay.-Grm. Lex.
2 See Win. 18 a, 3, for the use of the art. with the inf.; also Burton, 392, 393.
3 See Burton, 349; Win. 24, 4.
A Codex Alexandrinus.
1 The answer in full would be, It has been written that he suffer, as if it said, it has been decreed, that he suffer. It is this idea of decree that explains the use of ἵνα. Burton, 212 (a), 223.
2 A Biblical word.
1 See on ἔκφοβοι, v. 6.
209 An unnamed, valuable manuscript.
2 On this use of ἐὰν, instead of ἂν, see on 8:38.
K Codex Cyprius.
1 On the use of ἵνα after a verb of entreaty, see Burton, 200.
F Codex Borelli.
Syrr. Syriac Versions.
2 This use of ἕως with a temporal adverb is rare in classical Greek. Win. 54, 6.
3 The acc. is the regular construction after ἀνέχομαι.
1 See on v. 18. The compound verb is found elsewhere only in Maximus Tyrius, a writer of the second century b.c.
2 On the pleonasm, see Win. 65, 2. παιδιόθεν is a late word. The Greeks said ἐκ παιδός.
3 See Win. 64, 4. δύνῃ is a rare poetical and later form for δύνασαι.
4 On the use of the art. with εἰ δύνῃ, see Win. 18 a, 3.
1 This compound occurs only here in the N.T. and nowhere in profane authors.
2 On the preference of N.T. Grk. for the inf. to express result after ὣστε, see Burton, 235, 369-371.
1 On this use of the gen. abs., instead of the participle agreeing with its noun or pronoun found elsewhere in the sentence, see Win. 30, 11, Note.
1 γνοῖ is an irregular form of the sec. aor. subj. ἵνα with the subj. after ἤθελεν is one of the signs of the degeneracy of the language, in which the distinctive meaning of words is gradually weakened, and finally disappears. Burton, 191, 203; Win. 44, 8.
2 See Burton, 15; Win. 40, 2. Win. admits the use of the historical present, but inconsistently denies the use of the pres. for the fut., which involves the same principle. Future is still future, though conceived as present.
AV. Authorised Version.
1 On the plup. element in the aor., see Burton, 48, 52.
2 35, 4.
1 Cf. Matthew 18:2-5.
1 κακολογῆσαι comes within the classical period, but κακῶς λέγειν is more usual.
M Codex Campianus.
1 The comp. of καλός (or καλῶς) is found only once in the N.T. (Acts 25:10).
E Codex Basiliensis.
H Codex Wolfi B.
V Codex Mosquensis.
1 On this use of the pos. instead of the comp., well, instead of better, see Win. 35. 2.c.
1 ἅλα in the last clause is formed regularly from ἅλς, which is regular, but not found here; also from ἅλα, the reading of Tisch. in the first two clauses, and a later form. But it is not to be formed regularly from ἅλας, though the two are conjoined in the authorities followed by Treg. WH. ἅλας is also a later form.
2 This word means strictly to prepare food, and only in comic writers and the Bible, to season it.
1 To make this phrase consistent, either the pron. should be changed to the reflexive, or the prep. to μετὰ.
And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.
And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.
And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.
And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.
And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.
And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.
And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.
And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?
And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought.
But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.
And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them.
And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him.
And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them?
And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;
And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.
He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.
And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.
And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.
And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.
And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead.
But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.
And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?
And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.
For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.
But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.
And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?
But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,
Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.
And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
For he that is not against us is on our part.
For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.
Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.