Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
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.
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.4. The Transfiguration. MARK 9:2–13
(Parallels: Matt. 17:1–13; Luke 9:28–36)
2And 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. 3And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; 1 so as no fuller on earth can white them. 4And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. 5And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles [tents]; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 6For he wist not what to say: 2 for they were sore afraid. 7And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 8And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save 3 Jesus only with themselves. 9And 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. 10And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. 11And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? 12And he answered 4 and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things [in the baptism of the people for the Messiah, and of the Messiah for the people]; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. 5 13But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
See on the parallel passages of Matthew and Luke.—This narrative stands in a definite historical connection with what precedes (Mark 9:1); as it does also in the accounts of Matthew and Luke. In regard to the locality, we may refer to our notes upon the scene in Matthew. The Tabor tradition is sufficiently accounted for by the manifestation of Christ upon the mountain in Galilee, Matt. 28. In describing the effect of the transfiguration, Mark uses the strongest illustrations (“white as snow,” etc., “as no fuller,” etc.). He, in common with Luke, records that Peter knew not what he was saying, or what he wanted to say. But he alone has the sudden vanishing of the heavenly visitors, and the inquiring look around on the part of the disciples. He joins Matthew in communicating the Lord’s dealing with the disciples on coming down from the mountain. But he alone observes that the disciples questioned among themselves what the rising from the dead should mean. On the other hand, he omits, what Luke mentions, that Moses and Elias (ὀφθέντες ἐν δόξῃ) conversed with Jesus concerning His decease in Jerusalem. So only Luke has the delicate notices of the slumbrous and yet wakeful condition of the beholding disciples; while Matthew, on his part, alone applies the Lord’s word concerning the Elias who had already appeared, to John the Baptist. Mark narrates the history of the transfiguration in his own characteristic manner, exhibiting its main traits in vivid and living touches.
Mark 9:2. After six days.—See on Matthew.
Mark 9:3. No fuller on earth.—The white glitter was supernatural. Gerlach: “In ancient times they wore but few colored garments. The fuller’s business was to wash what was soiled, and to make it clean and glistening.” Starke: “They used in the East to make linen garments so beautiful that they glittered with whiteness; but such as these the Lord’s garments now outshone. The white color was that which the Romans called candorem, and which was so clear and so deep as to glisten splendidly. Materials prepared of such linen or other materials were, among the Jews, appropriated to priests and kings. Such garments also were in high estimation among other people, especially among the Romans. They were worn only by the highest personages, who were by such garments distinguished from those below them; hence, when they were seeking high offices of state, they distinguished themselves by such clothing, and were called candidati. And since among the Romans the glittering white upon their garments was refined to the highest lustre by art, and the Jews had been long in the habit of endeavoring to imitate it, we can understand the phrase, That no fuller on earth could so whiten them. That Solomon’s magnificence was white, has been gathered from the fact that his array was likened to the lilies of the field (Matt. 6:28, 29). What kind of glory was that of Herod’s royal apparel, spoken of in Acts 12:21, is shown in JOSEPHUS, Antiq. xix. 7.
Mark 9:6. For he wist not what to say (or, he would say).—His words were an utterance of immediate feeling, expressing a state of perfect complacency, after the manner of dreams, ecstasies, and visions, in figure,—in figurative language which came to him he knew not whence.—They were sore afraid.—Matthew observes that after the sound was heard, they fell on their faces and were sore afraid. But there is no real difference. For their trepidation began naturally at the beginning, and continued increasing throughout. Matthew describes its climax; whilst Mark mentions the disciples’ fear only for the sake of explaining the words of Peter.
Mark 9:10. And they kept that saying with themselves.—Luke 9:36. They concealed the fact which they had witnessed, after that command. Fritzsche: They obeyed the prohibition of Jesus. Meyer, on the contrary: They kept the words concerning the resurrection, and pondered them. The second, indeed, followed from the first. While they religiously kept their silence down to the day of His resurrection, they must have often asked when and how the bond of secrecy would be relaxed. Starke: “It requires much effort to overcome the tendency in beginners to prate. The word κρατεῖν shows it was not without trouble, and putting much restraint upon themselves, that the disciples kept this secret so long. The other disciples probably put questions,” &c.—The rising from the dead.—That is, this express and particular resurrection from the dead which the Lord had predicted for Himself.
Mark 9:12. And restoreth all things.—The way and manner in which Elias should do this (the idea is still indefinite, in the Present) is explained by what follows: And how is it written of the Son of Man?—What holds good of Him, that He must suffer many things, holds good also of His forerunner. This introduces the subsequent thought: Elias is come already. The punctuation given above, according to which the note of interrogation stands after “Son of Man” (Lachmann, Meyer), gives a clearer and more emphatic idea than the customary position of the note of interrogation after “be rejected.” Instead of καί, one would in the latter case expect a particle of opposition; and the construction of Mark 9:13 should then have been different. Another construction is this: Elias cometh and restoreth all things. And how? It is written, &c.—How it is written of the Son of Man.—That is, his restoring all things proceeds, like the work of the Son of Man, through sufferings and death.—That He must suffer many things.—The ἴνα is here especially striking. Meyer says, that it sets before us the design of the γέγραπται. We take the sentence as a breviloquence, referring to what precedes—“Elias cometh first.” And how is it written of the Son of Man, sc. that He cometh? In order that (ἵνα) He may suffer, &c.
Mark 9:13. As it is written of Him.—That is, in regard to the persecution of the real Elias. See 1 Kings 1:19. (Grotius, Meyer.) That the unworthy treatment of the prophets accords (Kuinoel), is proved by the previous verse, where from the impending sufferings of the Messiah the conclusion is drawn that Elias-John must also suffer.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See on Matthew.
2. The transitory transformation of Christ a prelude of His abiding transformation. The transfiguration, as a transition into the second higher condition of human nature, was like the glorification. The transfiguration has the glorification for its result: the glorification is conditioned by the transfiguration. Into this condition the glorified Christ will raise His people also, 1 Cor.15. But the glorification is the consummated, internal, spiritual power and glory, exalted above the changed, creaturely life, and manifested as the perfected light of life.
3. According to the privately communicated opinion of a respected Romanist theologian—personally unknown to me—the transfiguration upon the mountain was a night-scene. This was Schleiermacher’s opinion also (see his Sermons on the Gospel of Mark). In favor of this supposition we may observe, 1. that the transfiguration of Jesus followed a solemn season of prayer; and we know that He commonly held: these solemn seasons of prayer in the night; 2. that Luke mentioned their having gone down from the mountain on the day after that event. The transfiguration, by being considered as a night-scene, evidently has a peculiarly mysterious light thrown upon it.
4. As on the baptism of Christ His personal divine-human consciousness came to full maturity, so was here consummated the consciousness of His perfected prophetic work of word and deed. The goal of His prophetic work, in the narrower sense, was already reached. As Jesus, regarded in Himself, apart from His connection with sinful humanity, as the personally perfected God-man, might at His baptism have ascended into heaven, if He had willed to sever His destiny from that of mankind, so He might, as Prophet of the New Testament word of revelation, with the consummated consciousness of having done His prophetic work, have made the Mount of Transfiguration the Mount of Ascension. [But if Christ had ascended to heaven from the Mount of Transfiguration, He would have falsified the very prophecies alluded to; for these included His Passion and Crucifixion.—Ed.] The authority already referred to brings this out very excellently; and we also have alluded to it, in the Leben Jesu, ii. 908. “In fact, this was the moment (when the cloud received Jesus, and separated Him from the disciples) to teach them that He had power to retain His life, and that it was only free love that made Him leave the fellowship of the heavenly beings, and go down with His disciples into the valley of death.”
5. Moses and Elias conversed with the Lord, according to Luke, concerning His departure in Jerusalem. The unknown Romanist expositor just alluded to thinks that these men appeared to the Lord as representatives from the kingdom of the dead, that they might add their argument to ensure His voluntary determination to encounter the sufferings of death, and thus redeem those who were held in the realm of death, or generally complete His work of redemption. The gratuitous and unwarranted idea of the intercession of the saints for the dead will not prevent our doing justice to the penetration of this view. But there are two things to be noticed: 1. According to Luke, Moses and Elias appear to the Lord in glory (Mark 9:31), not as supplicating intercessors; 2. Christ had already much earlier preannounced His passion: His baptism itself was, in this relation, decisive in its force as a preintimation. But that the kingdom of the dead had some interest in the voluntary determination of Christ to go on His way of suffering, Ebrard has well shown, and remarks: “In the transfiguration, Jesus had given the fathers of the ancient covenant the blessed intelligence of His perfect readiness to redeem them by His own death.” Comp. my Leben Jesu, ii. 909.
6. Let us make three tabernacles.—A significant Future is added: for he knew not what he would say (λαλήσει). The man in ecstasy (as in a dream) brings the feeling or the thought; but the figure or form of the thought is imparted to him according to the secret laws that rule the figurative perception and language of the visionary condition. Thus came the figure to Peter: “build three tabernacles, one for Thee,” etc., as an expression for his blessed feelings which he would utter.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See on Matthew. So also Luke.—Between the confession and the transfiguration lies the week of temporal trials.—The mountain of prayer is the mountain of transfiguration.—The revelation of the life of Christ in His glorification here, a promise and sign for His people, 2 Cor. 5.—The Lord’s heavenly beauty.—Christ at the turning-point of His deeds and sufferings; by festal remembrance and sacrificial consecration glorified.—Consecration to the Lord changes man: 1. Internally: he is elevated into the spiritual world, and surrounded by blessed spirits. 2. Externally: he is renewed, adorned, transfigured.—The only true adornment of men: divine life of the Spirit.—Man upon the mountain: the first Sunday festival of the youthful Church of the Confession.—The transfiguration a sign and symbol 1. of the Sunday, 2. of the Ascension, 3. of the new Paradise.—The wish of Peter; or, the ideals of young Christians and the Lord’s training: 1. Ideals of young Christians: that of retaining their early experiences, that of entire separation from the world, life of contemplation. 2. The Lord’s guidance; further onward, deeper, higher.—All else comes and goes: Jesus alone abides.—Moses and Elias vanish from the disciples before His glory, and in the end they see Him alone.—The law and the prophets are merged in the glory of the Gospel.—The transfiguration of Christ upon the mountain: for Him, as for the three blest disciples, a preparation for Gethsemane.—The transfiguration of Jesus: 1. As a single central point in His life; 2. in its earlier types and symbols (Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, earlier crises in the life of Jesus Himself); 3. in its significance for the future, pointing to the resurrection, the ascension, the great manifestation of Christ, the glorification of believers.—The transfiguration of Christ the sure pledge of the renewing of the world, Rev. 20:21, and of that new state of glory wherein the word is fulfilled, Behold, I make all things new!—The prophetic history of Christ’s life and suffering, the history of the life and suffering of His people.—The Lord gives unasked to His disciples that sign from heaven which He had denied to the asking world.
STARKE:—OSIANDER:—God strengthens the faith of His people before trials come, that they may be able to endure them.—Bibl. Wirt.:—He who would be conversant with heavenly things must tear away his soul from earth, and soar towards God.—The heavenly glory is incomparable; greater and more excellent than all beauty and grace upon earth.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—Moses and Elias still live: witnesses of eternity.—Bibl. Wirt.:—In Christ the law and the prophets attained their goal and fulfilment. Jesus is Lord of the dead and living; He has the keys of hell and of death, Rev. 3:7; Ps. 84:2, 3, 5.—LANGE:—God lets His people have, even in this world, extraordinary glances and views; but they are only of short duration, because their longer enjoyment would not be tolerable and profitable.—OSIANDER:—Human nature cannot bear the glory of eternal life; therefore our bodies will be glorified.—We must depend only and absolutely upon Jesus Christ.—QUESNEL:—Jesus Christ had His Elias who announced Him in the world; He will have more of them yet in times to come and before His last appearance.—One place of Scripture must not be opposed to another, but Scripture must be compared with Scripture.—The ungodly accomplish, against their own will, the holy will of God: they by their persecution not only create happiness for the saints, but make their own misery.—Marvel hot that faithful ministers of Christ are cast out as evil, for it was clearly enough predicted in the Scripture.—RIEGER: Probably the disciples would desire, on going down, that they might communicate this vision to others; but the prohibition of Jesus forbade. The same holds good of us in many instances now.—SCHLEIERMACHER:—And that also was a spiritual glorification of the Lord when the disciples were taught that they had nothing more to do either with the one or the other (Moses and Elias), neither with the letter of the law nor with revolutionizing zeal. (Yet Moses and Elias were not set aside by Christ; but they were lifted up and lost in Him as their fulfilment.)—This spirit, which can only from within outwards renew our holy relation to God, and will spread abroad only through the energies of love the living knowledge of God among the children of men, will be to the end of time His glorification.
BRIEGER:—To glorify and transfigure, means to make perfectly clear and transparent (but of men, and especially of Christ, it means to exhibit the creaturely life in its spiritual glory). The eternal destiny of man was glorification.—Christ went on now to meet His sufferings. In order to obtain strength for the endurance of the extremest sorrows, He must hare a foretaste of the glory which awaited Him.—But on account of His disciples too, it was needful that Christ should be glorified.—BAUER:—Peter would build tabernacles: for the heavenly beings who dwell above, skins and huts.
Mark 9:3.—The ὡς χιών is omitted by B., C., L., Δ., Tischendorf, probably on account of the strange comparison. [Meyer retains it, remarking that if it were an interpolation, it would be ὡς τὸ φῶς, in conformity with Matt. 17:2.]
Mark 9:6.—Most Codd. (A., D., E., F., G., H., K., Euthymius, Theophylact, Meyer) λαλήσει; other readings, λαλήσῃ (Elzevir, Fritzsche, Scholz, Lachmann), ἀποκριθῇ (B., C.*, L., Δ., Tischendorf).—B., C., D., L., Δ. have ἐγένοντο instead of ἦσαν.—B., C., L., Δ., Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer read ἐγένετο, with Luke 9:35.
Mark 9:8.—B., D., Lachmann read εἰ μή, instead of ἀλλά with Matt. 17:8.
Mark 9:12.—Tischendorf and Meyer: ὁ δὲ ἔφη instead of ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν, after B., C., L., Δ., and Syriac, Coptic, Persian versions.
[There are different modes of punctuation. According to Lachmann and Meyer the version would be: “And how is it written of the Son of man? that he must suffer,” &c. According to another punctuation, followed by Hahn, the rendering would be: “And how is it written concerning the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought.”—Ed.]
And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them.5. The Healing of the Possessed Child after the Transfiguration. MARK 9:14–29
(Parallels: Matt. 17:14–21; Luke 9:37–43.)
14And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. 15And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and, running to him, saluted him. 16And he asked the scribes 17[them 6], What question ye with them? And one 7 of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18And 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. 19He answereth him, 8 and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? Bring him unto me. 20And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare [convulsed] him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed [rolled] foaming. 21And he asked his father, How long is it ago 22since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And oft-times it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst 9 do anything, have 23compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, 10 If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, 11 Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. 25When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge [command] thee, come out of him, and enter no more 26into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore [convulsed greatly], and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27But Jesus took him by the hand, 12 and lifted him up; and he arose. 28And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. 13
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
See on the parallels of Matthew and Luke.—The immediate connection between this event and the transfiguration is affirmed by all three Evangelists. The time and the place are established, therefore, by the narrative of that event. In the communication of the incidents here before us, Mark is rich in individual traits, which place the scene in a much more vivid light. Jesus finds His nine other disciples at the foot of the mountain, not only surrounded by a multitude of people, but involved in controversy with the scribes, who have surprised them in a condition of entire impotence. The people are amazed, or are very much excited, when they see Jesus coming. They were probably in a profane and mocking state of mind, in consequence of the disciples’ failure to work the miracle, and of the attack of the scribes; and were disposed to indulge this inclination, when the sudden and overpowering appearance of Christ smote their consciences. To this may have concurred better motives, which induced the multitude to run to Jesus as the real arbiter and the only helper in this strange case. Thus we find that our Saviour at the very outset reduced the scribes to silence by His question, Wherefore do ye contend with them? While Mark passes over Matthew’s notice, that the demoniac youth was lunatic, and that of Luke, that he was the only son of his father, he gives the most vivid representation of his state of wretchedness: his dumb behaviour (he had a speechless spirit), his frightful sufferings (in his paroxysms foaming and grinding his teeth, and swooning away). In the Lord’s rebuke he is content with the description, γενεὰ ἄπιστος: the explanatory διεστραμμένη he omits; on the other hand, he paints more vividly than Luke the scene in which the youth at once, on seeing Jesus, was overcome by the demoniac influence, fell down to the ground, and wallowed, foaming. But of priceless value is the passage between Jesus and the father of the youth, from Mark 9:21 to Mark 9:25. We see how the Lord, by His question as to how long the youth had thus suffered, pacified the excited feelings of all, especially of the father, and encouraged their faith. We hear the never-to-be-forgotten words, “If thou canst believe,” and the cry, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.” The words which expelled the demon, Mark recites in all their solemn emphasis; and in them the addition is remarkable, Enter no more into him. Mark alone describes the paroxysm under which the demon departed, and the important circumstance that the youth lay as one dead; that Jesus took him by the hand, and raised him to conscious life. Moreover, he makes prominent (as he often does the like) the entrance of Christ into the house, where the disciples put their confidential question to Him as to the reason why they could not cast out the demon. And he gives the answer of Jesus without Matthew’s additional clause concerning the unbelief of the disciples, and without the words that liken faith to the grain of mustard-seed. Nor does he mention the circumstance, recorded by Luke, of the people’s renewed astonishment and increasing excitement.
Mark 9:15. All the people were amazed.—At what? Euth. Zigabenus: “Either on account of the singularly seasonable and sudden coming of Jesus, or at His glorious appearance.” Of this latter we read nothing, and Meyer therefore thinks the former the sounder view: it was an astonishment of joyful surprise. But θάμβος betokens an astonishment which is related to fear, which sometimes passes over into amazement, and is sometimes called terror. Hence we explain the astonishment as the amazement of a crowd somewhat profanely disposed at the sudden interposition of a punitive event like this (see Leben Jesu, ii. 2, 317). “They sought to repair their error by running to Him with eager denials.” And it is obvious to connect with that the supposition, that the reflection of the transfiguration glory still lingered on the Lord’s countenance. See Ex. 34:29, 30.
Mark 9:16. And he asked them.—Bengel refers this to the disciples; Griesbach, to the disciples and scribes; Fritzsche, with most others, to the scribes alone; Meyer, to the people, because the people were just before spoken of. But the context points simply to the scribes as the contending party; not excluding, however, the people, so far as they sympathized.—What question ye with them?—Concerning what? The scribes were dumb. But the father of the possessed child gave the answer as to what they were contending about, Mark 9:17. Evidently they had impugned the power of the disciples to work miracles, and the authority of Christ; therefore they were now silent, because they suspected that the Lord would by a miraculous act convict them.
Mark 9:17. Brought unto Thee my son.—That was his purpose. He was seeking the Lord in the place where the disciples were. But as Jesus was absent, His disciples and the man became engaged together.
Mark 9:18. Wheresoever he taketh him.—This does not hint at an intermitting possession, in favor of which Meyer, without reason, adduces Matt. 12:44, but to the antithesis between a latent action (in which, however, the youth by his dumbness betrayed his possession) and frenzied paroxysms, in which the spirit seized the youth, in order, as it appeared, to destroy him; and, according to Matthew, these crises had a connection with the changes of the moon. The following μηκέτι εἰσέλθης, Meyer himself acknowledges, implies that the demon had continuous possession.—He teareth him.—Probably this manifested itself in convulsions, St. Vitus’ dance, or the like. The fundamental form was epilepsy, or something of the kind. These circumstances depended partly on the change of the moon, partly on demoniac influences.
Mark 9:22. To destroy him.—The father regarded the demon as a malicious enemy, who was bent upon the murder of his only son.—If Thou canst do anything.—Expression of doubt or infirm faith, which, having been at the beginning too weak, had become more and more weak in consequence of the failure of the disciples’ attempt.
Mark 9:23. If thou canst believe.—The difficulty in the reading of the Text. Rec., together with the critical authorities in its favor, constrain us to retain it. The easiest solution explains the τό as a sign of quotation preceding the direct address (De Wette). For other explanations, see Meyer.14 We take the sentence as a breviloquence: “the if thou canst means, if thou canst believe.” Τὸ εἰ δύνασαι=εἰ δύνασαι πιστεῦσαι. To be able, and to be able to believe, are with the Lord one and the same,—especially throughout Mark’s Gospel. Hence the clause, “All things are possible to him that believeth,” is an illustration of this fundamental law, this mathematical formula, so to speak, of the kingdom of God. The explanation of the passage on the other reading is indeed simpler: “As it respects if thou canst, all things are possible,” etc. (Meyer); or, the first clause is a question: Dost thou ask, If thou canst? all things, etc. (Ewald).
Mark 9:24. Help Thou mine unbelief.—Bengel: Help away mine unbelief. Meyer thinks to improve it: Do not deny me on account of my unbelief. Certainly the βοήθει, Mark 9:24, refers to the help of healing itself; but the man knew very well by this time that his son would be healed, if his unbelief was healed. And the faith which now sprang up in the man was the more spiritual, in that it was a belief that Jesus could strengthen the deficient faith into the ability perfectly to believe, and so by this means remove also his external distress.
Mark 9:25. When Jesus saw that the people came running together.—His desire to preserve the secrecy of His journey tended now to hasten the performance of the miracle.—I charge (command) thee.—“Emphatically, as in contrast with the disciples.” Meyer.
Mark 9:26. The spirit cried.—The crying out of the demoniac youth, seeming to be a work of the demon, though a shriek in inarticulate tones, was the first sign of cure: the youth had previously been dumb, whilst foaming and gnashing his teeth. See Mark 9:18.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See on the parallels in Matthew and Luke.
2. We have here not only the grand contrast between the heavenly glorification upon the mountain, and the demoniac degradation reminding of hell at the foot of it, but also the contrast between the sound spiritual ecstasy of the disciples, and the diseased physical possession of the youth. So also a contrast between the supreme festival and the severe toil of the Lord.
3. As the contemplation of the disciples upon the mountain had to contend with infirmity and sleep, so the premature activity of the disciples in the valley had to contend with impotence and vain endeavors. Christ is the Master upon the mountain and in the valley, in contemplation and in activity.
4. The heaviest burden which oppressed the Lord in His career upon earth, even amongst His disciples, was the burden of unbelief.
5. The colloquy of Jesus with the father of the child a school of faith.
6. Christ in this narrative may be compared to a general, who retrieves by his own presence a battle well-nigh lost by his army.
7. Through the faith of the father the son is healed (as in the history of the nobleman, and of the Canaanitish woman). These facts tell against the Baptists. Even the blessing upon the faith of sponsors is represented by the history of the centurion.
8. Reischle: “Over the life of the child the demon, despite his malignity, had no power. Later examples also show that possessed persons, falling from great heights, or into fire or water, are not easily killed or grievously hurt, while in their condition of unnatural paroxysms.”
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See on the parallels of Matthew and Luke.—How the entrance of the living Christ into the community of the disciples changes its whole character: 1. The profane disposition of the people gives place to reverence; 2. the supremacy of the divine word takes the place of school controversy; 3. excitement is allayed by the spirit of His peace; 4. faith conquers unbelief; 5. His miraculous help and salvation follow their impotence and bewilderment.—The Lord comes at the right time for the help of His people.—Not only the demon of the abyss, but also the scribes, embarrass the company of the disciples not firmly standing in the power of faith.—The poor demoniac youth, and the world of poor, afflicted children (deaf and dumb, cretins, possessed, orphans, etc.).—The anguish of the father’s heart could lead to faith, even as the anguish of the mother’s heart (of the Canaanitish woman: but the mother’s heart was the more brave).—The colloquy of the Lord with the father of the youth, a type of the way in which He guides the soul to faith. 1. The preparation: allaying of excitement, and clear view of the affliction. 2. Help: reference to the power of faith. 3. Support and consummation of faith.—The communication between Christ and the needy soul: 1. What is thy grief? 2. If Thou canst, help. 3. Thou canst, if thou canst believe. 4. I believe; help, etc.—Thou canst; that is, if thou canst believe.—The measure of faith, the measure of our ability.—Weak faith must, with the prayer, “Lord, help mine unbelief,” stretch forward to its perfection.—The faith of parents is to the advantage of their children.—Prayer and tears the element of faith: 1. The expression of its ground, humility (prayer, the spiritual expression; tears, the bodily expression); 2. the voice of its need; 3. the nourishment of its strength.—The father’s concurrence with the Lord in faith, severs the connection of the child with the evil spirit.—What are we taught by the final throes of the hostile spirit? 1. Redemption is attained by a decisive conflict, in which all the powers of evil are excited; 2. we must distinguish between the external manifestation and the internal strength of the evil one; 3. when the distress is greatest, the help is nearest.—The miracle of the Lord twofold: 1. Casting out demons with peril of life; 2. restoration of life, seemingly gone.—Unclean spirits must be cast out, even though life seems endangered.—If the soul is freed, the life is saved.—Many kinds of impotence, and the one divine power: 1. Inability: a. of the child—a miserable possession; b. of the people—a stupid prejudice; c. of the scribes—impotence of malice, disguised under wise phrases; d. of the disciples—occasioned by want of self-government and collectedness of spirit; e. of those who sought help—enabled to believe. 2. The almighty power of the Lord: punishing all the impotence of malignity, and confirming all the impotence of sincere infirmity.—The power of demons having its root in the weakness of men (like the vampire sucking the blood of the living, and nourished thereby), but sinking into nothing before the awaking power of faith, under the omnipotence of the grace of Christ.—The unclean spirit a murderer of man, and Christ the Saviour of man’s life, here as everywhere.—Jesus puts compulsion upon the wicked spirit of envious, dumb, and murmuring misery.—He constrains him to cry out in his loudest utterance, and so expels him.
STARKE:—When a man has refreshed and strengthened himself in God, through prayer in secret, he must up and betake himself again to his calling.—CANSTEIN:—When the world thinks that Christ has departed from His people, it deems that a good opportunity for tempting them, and misleading them into evil.—QUESNEL:—The Lord Jesus sometimes suffers His people to be driven into a corner, that they may know how needful He is to them.—In their presence, the world shows itself respectful enough towards God’s servants; but what passes behind their backs, He knows best who knows all things.—HEDINGER:—Children a precious gift of God.—Children may be a great joy, and also a great bitterness, to their parents.—QUESNEL:—The devil is as angry as ever when he sees that Christ will rob him of a soul.—We must not hold ourselves safe when we are disinclined to any particular sin. Satan knows how to vary his temptations; and to turn our thoughts now in one, and now in another, direction of evil.—CRAMER:—Unbelief is the greatest sin, hinders the greatest works of God, and plunges the soul in condemnation.—HEDINGER:—Faith is omnipotent (able for everything).—CANSTEIN:—He who implores faith with tears, has it already in his heart.—MAJUS:—Weak faith is nevertheless faith.—Amidst tears and prayers, we shall be delivered from unbelief, and attain unto true faith.—The humble Christian prays incessantly for the increase of his faith.—The devil must be rebuked, which he cannot bear; but he who would do it, must be armed with the power of the Holy Spirit.—QUESNEL:—Those who do not like to speak of God, or hear God spoken of, are possessed by a dumb spirit, from which Christ alone can free them.—OSIANDER:—Let those who are once delivered from Satan’s power, take good heed that they be not entangled again in his snares.—Even if Satan, by God’s permission, could inflict bodily death upon men, he cannot put their souls to death.—CANSTEIN:—When the Gospel has little fruit, its ministers should examine themselves how far they are the cause.—HEDINGER:—A submissive prayer.—OSIANDER:—Preachers should, beyond all others, be moderate and watchful.—RIEGER:—The future coming of Christ will inspire such terror as this into very many.—Men are not very willing to join cause with the poor disciples when they are in conflict, and at disadvantages. But when they see the Lord approaching, and have reason to think that He will utter His favorable and victorious voice concerning them, there is a great reaction in their favor.—BRAUNE:—The sharp rebuke of Jesus is general; but it touches the disciples most keenly.—Thou sayest to Me, “Canst Thou do anything?” but I must say unto thee, “Canst thou do anything, that is, canst thou believe? for then thou canst do all: faith can do everything.”—There exists certainly between parents and children a deep, internal relation and sympathy.—This passage is most important in relation to the nature of faith.—It does not depend so much upon the theoretical consciousness of a truth, as upon the existence of a real and actual fellowship with God.—It was noble in the disciples so frankly and openly to test themselves in their Master’s presence.—We should always act as they acted, when we fail of attaining what is the due of our office, and what our hearts are set upon.—REISCHLE:—Here also we find representative faith, as in Matt. 8:5. (But connected with profound, living affinity between parent and child.)—LISCO:—(The people were amazed, and ran to greet Jesus.) Have you never found that, on occasion of special and mysterious interpositions of God, your neighbor’s heart was more than ordinarily inclined towards you?—SCHLEIERMACHER:—(The disciples excited by disputation with the Jews.) There are only a few men who are able to contend peacefully, and without losing their calm and peaceful temper, even about such matters as do not affect their external prerogatives,—matters, for instance, of faith, which engender difference of opinion.—There can be no doubt that they were the scribes who, in consequence of the estimation in which they were held, moved and swayed the minds of the people on the present occasion; and these scribes were mainly and primarily the persons whom the Lord described as an unbelieving generation.—Ye were not able, because your minds were in so excited a state: ye could have accomplished it only in a tranquil, collected temper, in which alone can reside such spiritual power.—The kingdom of God is never advanced in a passionate temper of mind, even if the zeal is a zeal for good.—They must return into silence, and stillness, and rest (this, however, being attainable only on the condition of prayer and fasting; that is, devotion towards God, and self-denial towards the world).—GOSSNER:—If we do not abide in faith, we can do nothing.
Mark 9:16.—Αὐτούς, B., D., L., Δ., Vulgate, Coptic, Æth., instead of τοὺς γραμματεῖς (Elzevir, Scholz, Lachmann in margin).
Mark 9:17.—Αὐτῷ must be inserted after ἀπεκρίθη, according to B., C., D., L., Δ., Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer.
Mark 9:19.—Instead of αὐτῷ, it is preferable to read αὐτοῖς (A., B., D., L., Δ., Versions).
Mark 9:22.—Instead of δύνασαι here and Mark 9:23, Tischendorf and Lachmann read δύνη, according to B., D., L., Δ., Meyer. This form, in itself the Conjunctive, was used later even in the Indicative, instead of δύνασαι; but it lays stronger stress upon the question.
Mark 9:23.—The τὸ was omitted by many Codd. (D., K., M., U., Syriac, Persian) on account of its difficulty. Tischendorf omits the πιστεῦσαι, following B., C. *, L., D., and many Versions; Meyer says, it was an exegetical addition to the mere εἰ δυνῇ, not understood. But the clause, “If thou canst believe,” may have been found still harder; and therefore corrected into “as it regards, If thou canst? All things are possible,” &c.
Mark 9:24.—The μετὰ δακρύων is wanting in A.*, B., C.*, L., Δ., Versions, [Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer.] The κύριε is very doubtful; Meyer rejects it.
Mark 9:27.—Lachmann reads τῆς χειρὸς αὐτοῦ, after B., D., L., Δ., Vulgate; Meyer cites in comparison, Mark 1:31; 5:41; 8:23.
Mark 9:29.—The omission of νηστείᾳ by B. (which Tischendorf follows) is not decisive.
[“After omitting πιστεῦσαι, the clause τὸ εἰ δύνη (δύνασαι) is to be regarded as Nominative Absolute: The ‘if thou canst,’—all things are possible to him that believeth, i.e., so far as concerns the words, ‘if thou canst,’ which thou hast just spoken, everything depends upon faith; the believer can obtain anything. The article τὸ, belonging to εἰ δύνῃ as its substantive, takes up the words of the father; and with lively emphasis isolates them in the grammatical structure, in order to put them into relation to the faith that is required on his part. Griesbach, Tischendorf, and Ewald regard τὸ εἰ δύνῃ as a question, and παντα δυν. τ. πιστ. as its answer: ‘Tune dubitans SI POTES aiebas! Nihil non in ejus, qui confidat, gratiam fieri potest.’ But in case of a question we should expect τί τὸ εἰ δύνῃ.” MEYER, in loc.—Ed.)
And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.NINTH SECTION
THE RETIREMENT OF JESUS IN GALILEE PREPARATORY TO HIS JOURNEY TO PERÆA AND JERUSALEM. FURTHER PREPARATION FOR THE NEW CHURCH
1. Christ’s Prediction among His Galilœan Disciples of His Death. MARK 9:30–32
(Parallels: Matt. 17:22, 23; Luke 9:43–45.)
30And they departed thence, and passed [passed by by-ways 15] through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. 31For 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.16 32But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
See on Matthew and Luke.—It is plain that the return of Jesus to Galilee from Cæsarea Philippi is here described. As it regards the chronological relation to what follows, it is questionable whether this was the last residence of Jesus in Galilee before His departure to Jerusalem in the year of His death, or the last but one. The former is the opinion of Lücke, Wieseler, Hofmann, and Ebrard. But on the other side is the fact, that Jesus now went through Galilee quite in secret; while His last journey from Galilee, through Samaria, was a very public one. (See Luke 9:52; 15:1.) This secret abode of Christ in Galilee coincides with the Lord’s refusal, on the occasion of His brethren’s challenge to Him to go up with them to the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, John 7:1; and this took place before the penultimate and certainly concealed journey of Jesus to Jerusalem (see Leben Jesu, ii. 2, p. 28).—The Feast of Tabernacles fell in the autumn (on the fifteenth day of the seventh Jewish month, called Tisri). It began this year—the year of persecutions before the year of His death, 782 A. U. C—according to Wieseler, on the twelfth of October. The present history, therefore, places us in the autumn of that year. (See on Matthew.) The proper and special characteristics of the present journey of Jesus through Galilee are found in the παρεπορεύοντο, Mark 9:30 (on which below), in the words, “He would not that any man should know,” and in the particulars of the prediction concerning the Passion. Mark is here distinguished from Matthew by being more precise in his characterization. On the other hand, Luke gives prominence to a specific trait, Luke 9:44—the Lord’s reference to the contrast furnished by the praises which He received after the healing of the demoniac youth at Cæsarea Philippi. He also gives special emphasis, Mark 9:45, to the expression οἱ δὲ ὴγνόουν τὸ ῥῆμα.
Mark 9:30. And passed through Galilee.—The παραπορεύομαι means a going aside or passing by. Meyer explains, “They were required to go rapidly through Galilee; that is, they so travelled as nowhere to tarry long.” In Deut. 2:4 the passing through the territory of the Edomites was a passing through their borders (not touching their central places). In Mark 2:23 it means a passing through the cornfields, leaving the overhanging ears of corn. Hence Grotius (Annott. in Marc. p. 638: compare Leben Jesu, ii. 924; Sepp. 2:418): they journeyed in by-ways and field-roads. But of a voyage by sea we read nothing. They travelled round the sea, through desert mountain-ways and woody paths; for Jesus desired uninterruptedly to prepare His disciples in Galilee for His approaching sufferings.
Mark 9:31. For He taught His disciples.—We must understand by these only His disciples dispersed through Galilee; that discipleship out of which He at a later period, before His last journey, selected the Seventy, and from among whom a nucleus of more than five hundred brethren outlived the trial of the cross: 1 Cor. 15:6; Matt. 28:16. For the Lord had previously led the twelve Apostles to Gaulonitis, over the sea, in order to make them acquainted with the same great mystery. See Mark 8:31.—Is delivered, παραδίδοται.—The future vividly exhibited as present.
Mark 9:32. But they understood not that saying.—Compare especially the parallel passage in Luke. According to Matthew, they were exceedingly troubled. The saying concerning His violent death so contradicted their expectations, that they could not and would not think of it. Hence they would not ask for fuller explanation.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See on Matthew and Luke.
2. The whole passage is a psychological example that teaches us how difficult it is to enter into views which are opposed to our former views, and the tendency of our wills; how hard it is for the world, with its view of Christianity, and for Christians themselves, with their worldly views, to take a self-renouncing view of the mystery and doctrine of the cross. So every individual man of the world, and even the individual disciple of Christ, finds it ever.
3. Schleiermacher: “We see that the disciples had then as yet no conviction of the necessity of the death of Christ for the accomplishment of the work of redemption. They thought all was to be done without the intervention of the death of their Lord and Master, although not without many conflicts to befall both Him and them.” We see, however, that for that stage their faith satisfied the Lord; but we see also how often He had again to rebuke their unbelief, until, after His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, they came to a perfect faith through the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See on Matthew and Luke.—The departure of Jesus from His asylum in the mountains on the other side of the sea.—The silent paths of the Lord in the dreary time of persecution (the ancient Christians in the Catacombs, the Waldenses, the Huguenots, Luther in the Wartburg, &c.).—The by-paths of Christ in contrast with the by-paths of the world.—The Lord’s calm autumnal travelling: 1. It was autumn in the year; 2. autumn in His life; 3. autumn in the ancient world.—The Son of Man delivered into the hands of men; or, the heaven-wide difference and contrast between the Man and men: 1. Between the Son of Man and the hands of men; 2. between the new humanity and the old humanity.—The betrayal into the hands of men, the bitterest sting in the anticipation of His sufferings.—The displacency with which man hears the first solemn and fearful words concerning the cross.—Lack of the insight of faith, and lack of the obedience of faith, in their reciprocal influence.—The pains taken by our Lord with His people, before He brought them to believe in the great salvation wrought out in the great judgment.—We learn the meaning of Christ’s death by the light of His life and suffering.
STARKE:—HEDINGER:—Christ’s suffering was certain and prearranged, but to the natural reason incomprehensible: the flesh for ever hears of it with displacency.—MAJUS:—When the Church is in a prosperous condition, that is the time to remember what has been predicted in Holy Writ concerning the cross and sufferings of the faithful.
2. The Greatest among the Disciples and the Little Child. Zeal of John. Offences. MARK 9:33–50
(Parallels: Matt. 18:1–9; Luke 9:46–50.)
33And he came17 to Capernaum: and, being in the house, he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by [on] the way? 34But they held their peace: for by [on] the way18 they had disputed among themselves who should be the greatest. 35And 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. 36And 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, 37Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me; and whosoever 38shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. And [But] John answered him,19 saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us; and we forbade him, because he followeth not us. 39But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly [readily] 40speak evil of me. For he that is not against us20 is on our part. 41For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name,21 because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. 42And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me,22 it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee23 to enter into life maimed, than having [the] two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having [the] two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall 46be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.24 47And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of 48God with one eye [one-eyed], than having two eyes to be cast into hell-fire25: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49For every one shall be salted with 50fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his [its] saltness [have become saltless], wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
See on the parallel passages of Matthew and Luke.—As it respects the chronology, this residence of Jesus in Capernaum does not immediately follow the former section; but His appearance in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles must be interposed. According to John, our Lord went up to Jerusalem not only at the Feast of Tabernacles, but also at the Feast of Dedication. The former feast fell in the middle of the month of October; that of the Dedication in the second half of December (the 27th). The question arises, whether Jesus remained in Judæa during the interval between these two feasts, and then returned to Galilee and Capernaum for the last time; or whether this last journey homewards and the departure from Galilee fell within the interval of the two feasts. We assume that the latter is the true hypothesis, and for the following reasons:—1. The last journey of Jesus to Jerusalem led, according to the Synoptists, over Peræa. 2. According to John 10:40, Jesus went back, after the Feast of Dedication, to Peræa. Thus He must already have been once in Peræa; and this could have occurred only between the Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of Dedication, that is, between October and December 782. Into this season falls His last abode in Capernaum, and His departure from Galilee (see Notes on Matthew). That between the secret travels of Jesus in the former section, and the position of things in the present, much must have intervened, is proved by the discussion going on among the disciples, which issued now in words, as to who should be the greatest among them. The glorious demonstration of Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles, the healing of the blind man, the favourable feelings of the many, must have again enkindled within them the hopes of His speedy manifestation of the glory of His kingdom. This made them ever more desirous to give His prophecy of His death a figurative meaning as referring to the sufferings of Messiah, the temporary obscuration of His name and of His cause. Thus they might come to the question as to who would have a fair prospect of the highest place under Him in His kingdom. Mark is more precise in his narrative here than either Matthew or Luke: first, in regard to the occasion of the act and the special circumstances; secondly, in the scene with the little child. The Lord had already spoken the decisive word, before He placed the child in the midst. Mark records that Jesus embraced the child. In the words of application that follow he is more copious than Matthew, somewhat less copious than Luke. Mark, on the contrary, communicates in the fullest manner the transaction between Jesus and John, which Luke has in brief; and, in the discourse touching the offending hand, &c., he is more solemnly detailed than the other Evangelists. The narrative about the stater, Mark seems to have passed over, as being a narrative which Peter omitted because it made himself prominent.
Mark 9:33. By the way.—The fleeting journey through Galilee cannot here be meant, but the last return of Jesus from Jerusalem, when the disciples had recovered their tone of mind and their hopes.
Mark 9:34. Who should be the greatest.—Obviously, only with reference to the Messiah’s kingdom,—their hopes of the speedy establishment of which being now rekindled.
Mark 9:35. If any man desire to be first.—Comp. Matt. 23:12; 20:27; 18:4. Our clause seems in one formula to include two rules: whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; whosoever humbleth himself shall be exalted. Despotism makes man a slave; spiritual despotism makes him the lowest and most abject of all slaves, who must serve the most external and legal behests of a police for the internal kingdom of God. But voluntary service in the kingdom of love, and under the impulse of humility and self-denial, makes a man a spiritual power, and gives him an unconscious and blessed greatness in the kingdom of God, which does not complacently look at its own reflection. In this sense Christ came to minister unto all (symbol, the feet-washing), and has become Lord over all, Phil. 2:5–11. But the emphasis falls here obviously upon the second rule.
Mark 9:36. When He had taken him in His arms.—Peculiar to the vivid and pathetic style of Mark. Comp. Mark 10:16.
Mark 9:37. Whosoever shall receive one of such children.—The natural child in the arms of Jesus is not only a symbol, but also identical in its susceptibility with the spiritual child; and it signifies, not a Christian ripe in humility, but a beginner in faith. The child baptized or blessed is in the catechumen state, like the thirty years’ proselyte before baptism, or the beginner in faith. See on Matthew, p. 323.—Not Me, but Him that.—Meyer: “Not non tamquam, but with rhetorical emphasis the ἐμὲ δέχεται is absolutely denied.” At the same time the rhetorical element must be strongly emphasized. It signifies a “much more,” or “infinitely more;” with the child we receive Christ, with Christ we receive God, if the receiving is of the right kind.
Mark 9:38. And John answered Him.— The ἀποκρίνεσθαι here, as often, in the wider sense: on a special occasion to begin the conversation. John had a fact in his mind which he must bring into the light of this act of Jesus. Meyer, following Schleiermacher: “The disciples had, to one who uttered the name of Jesus, done the opposite of receive.” Or, rather, they had hindered one who in the name of Jesus was receiving the miserable, and doing works of mercy. John now hears that precisely to such an one the greatest promises are given.—In Thy name.—The τῷ ὀνόματί σου says less than ἐν τῷ, κ.τ.λ. Comp. Matt. 7:22; Acts 9:13. By means of uttering the name of Jesus. Meyer: “But our exorcist was not an impostor, he was a believer; yet not one belonging to the permanent company of Jesus.” Had he been a deceiver, he would not have been able to cast out demons by the name of Jesus; for the name of Jesus wrought no magical effects: see Acts 19:13. But if he had been a decided believer, John would have known him as such; for the ἀκολουθεῖν must be understood of actual and real following, and not necessarily of merely external discipleship. The passage therefore means, that there was in him a measure of trust in the name of Jesus, a germ of true faith. But we must not forget that the words are, “he followeth not with us,” not, “he followeth not Thee:” this is certainly the utterance of an excited human party feeling. Gerlach and others suppose that the exorcist might have been a disciple of John the Baptist; but it is to be remembered that John himself did no miracle. All were indeed disciples of John, in the wider sense, who were hoping for the approaching kingdom, and had been baptized of John.—We forbade him, because.—We must regard John as the main agent in all this matter, though in perfect understanding and concert with the rest of the disciples. The “because he followeth not with us,” &c., signifies that they desired of the man a decided following with them, or an abandonment of all working in the name of Jesus. Thus they did not deny that even an unregenerate man might do something by means of the name of Jesus; but they regarded him as not justified in so doing. Their watchword was: first a full conversion, and then the right and ability to work. It is strictly, “We interdicted him from that,” or “hindered him.” Easily might the prohibition of the disciples disturb his miracle-working confidence.
Mark 9:39. Forbid him not, for.—Augustin: “Distinguit inter neutralitatem epicuream et neutralitatem ex infirmitate.” Such a man, the Lord tells them, would not immediately dishonor His name. His experience would prevent him from so soon turning round and going over to His enemies. And in this there was expressed, at the same time, the hope that he would earlier or later become an actual follower. Jesus, therefore, would impress it upon His disciples that they must honor and protect the isolated beginnings or germs of faith to be found in the world, without the circle of actual believers. We are not violently to constrain the men in whom such beginnings are seen, to adopt prematurely the party of faith: such a course might have a tendency to repel them, and drive them into the camp of the enemy. Moreover, it is contrary to the demands of a germ, and of gradual development; it is contrary to the rights of conscience, and the nature of the kingdom of God, whose kindled sparks of life fall far beyond the central hearth of the Church. But we must carefully distinguish here between forbidding and commanding. It is not permitted the disciples to forbid; they should pay all respect to the unrestrained influence of Christ, and its results, even beyond the fold of the disciples. But it does not follow from this, that the Lord commands, outside the circle of discipleship also, a premature activity of the beginners in faith. It is wholesome and natural that every energy of faith, in every young Christian, should act and move, according to the measure of its development, under the condition of truth, sincerity, and supreme regard for its own internal growth and well-being. Meyer: “We gather, moreover, from this passage, how mightily the words and influence of Christ had wrought outside the sphere of His permanent dependants, exciting in individuals a degree of spiritual energy that performed miracles on others.”
Mark 9:40. For he that is not against you.—The reading ὑμῶν is better supported than the reading ἡμῶν, which the Text. Rec., Fritzsche, and Tischendorf follow; and thus the clause constitutes a formal antithesis to the word in Matt. 11:42. (See the Critical Notes on that passage.) “And in order that they might not, in this sacred domain of tender beginnings, hurt any the least sapling, He converts His royal word, He who is not for Me is against Me, into a disciple-word for them to use, He who is not against us is on our part.” (Leben Jesu, ii. 10–12; comp. Stier on the passage.)
Mark 9:41. Whosoever shall give you a cup of water (see Matt. 10:42.) The third γάρ, for: a threefold significant establishment of the rule laid down by our Lord, not to hinder beginnings. First reason: Such a man will not soon become mine enemy. Second reason: If any one were against you, he would give assurance of the fact; if he is not against you, it is to be assumed at the outset that he is for you. Third reason: The respect and love which is even outwardly shown you in the very slightest degree by men in the world, for Christ’s sake, or in His name, proves that they stand in a certain spiritual connection with Him, which under His blessing may increase and become more strict. The smallest token of friendship you receive as disciples of Christ, is a token of friendship to your Master, which is rewarded by Him with the blessing of greater friendship. Thus: 1. The beginning of friendly feeling excludes the thought of a speedy enmity; 2. so much so, that the cessation of enmity, in any instance, is to be regarded as friendship; 3. because the slightest token of friendliness, which is understood by that cessation of enmity, is blessed and furthered until it has become decided love and friendship. From the external friendship which is manifested in external proofs of love, men go on to internal friendship: from the disciples of Christ, whom they acknowledge as such, they come to Christ Himself. Thus we must esteem holy all the loots, relations, and tendencies of good which Christianity finds in the world,—yet that Christianity which does not deny itself and the Lord (ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου). We assume that the three fors all directly refer to the “forbid him not,” without disparaging the connection in which they stand to each other.
Mark 9:42. And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones.—What follows is, down to the close, a strong utterance of our Lord against that fanatical ecclesiastical zealotry which is so much disposed to throw stumbling-blocks in the way of beginners in the faith, by imposing traditional dogmatic articles of faith. Saunier, De Wette, and others have lost the connection here. But it is evident enough when we bear in mind that the words of Christ, Mark 9:43–47, have here a reference altogether different from that which the related words of Matt. 5:29, 30 have. (Comp. Leben Jesu, ii. 2.)—Our passage forms a parallel with Matt. 18:6 seq. Matthew, however, did not adhere strictly to the place where the words were spoken; Mark places the locality and circumstances very clearly before us. The sons of thunder had a series of their own particular crises to pass through, just as Peter had; a series of crises for their fanatical and enthusiastic party zeal. The first is found here; the second soon follows, on their departure from Galilee (Luke 9:54); the third falls into a later period, before the final going up to Jerusalem, Mark 10:35.
Mark 9:43. And if thy hand offend thee.—For the meaning of these words in this connection, see the notes on the parallel in Matthew. Offences of the hand, of the eye, and of the foot; or, stumbling-blocks of fanatical hierarchism, of heretical Gnosticism, and of political proselytism. In the formal shape which the word of our Lord assumes in Mark, “it may be regarded as an ideal formulary, which is designed to suggest to His Church the pious gentleness of the hand, the sacred spiritual clearness of the eye, and the peaceful and amiable apostolical movement of the feet.” (Leben Jesu, ii. 2, 1016.)
Mark 9:44. Where their worm.—Three times solemnly repeated. The reference to Isa. 66:24 is manifest. It is a concrete expression for suffering in the fire of hell, Gehenna.
Mark 9:45. It is better for thee.—Comp. on Matthew.
Mark 9:49. For every one shall be salted with fire.—On this clause, which has no parallel (and which De Wette, Baur, and others, have so much doubted about), see Meyer, and the treatises referred to by him. Meyer, however, is wrong in interpreting this of the fire of hell mentioned previously. He explains: “πᾶς cannot mean every one generally; but must, in harmony with the context, be restricted to those who in Mark 9:48 are described by αὐτῶν; since afterwards another class is distinguished by πᾶσα θυσία from that which is meant by πᾶς, and its predicate is opposed to the predicate of the latter: πυρί and ἁλί are antitheses.” They are indeed distinct points, but yet related to each other; for otherwise we should not read “Every one must be salted with fire.” We therefore thus understand the passage: Every (sinful) man must, according to the typical meaning of the burnt-offering, enter into the suffering of fire: either into the fire of Gehenna, which then in his case represents the salt which was wanting to him; or as the burnt-offering of God into the fiery suffering of tribulation, those renunciations, namely and especially, which had just been mentioned—the sacrifice of the eye, the hand, and the foot—after he had been previously consecrated with the salt of the Spirit. This rule holds irreversibly good: those offending members which were not, as God’s sacrifices, previously salted with salt, pass immediately into the fiery sufferings of punishment, which then represent and take the place of the salting. The καί in the clause, “and every sacrifice,” does not therefore mean ὡς, καθώς; but it marks the specific case in which the being salted precedes the suffering of fire, and in which it may perhaps (as in John’s own later history) more or less supply the place of, and involve the fiery suffering of, external tribulations (1 Cor. 3:13). Meyer’s separation of the salt and fire, and his antithesis between them, with his exclusive reference of the fire to the punishment of the ungodly, are found in Grotius, Lightfoot, and others. On the other hand, both are referred to the good by Euthym. Zigabenus (“the fire of faith in God, the salt of love to man”), by Luther (the Gospel is a fire and a salt: the old man is crucified, renewed, salted), Calovius, Kuinoel, Schott.—Olshausen thus agrees with our interpretation: “On account of the universal sinfulness of the race, every one must be salted with fire; whether by his voluntarily entering upon a course of self-denial and earnest renunciation of his sins, or by his being involuntarily cast into the place of punishment.” Similarly Ewald. The γάρ gives the reason of the exhortation which preceded. Sacrifice the hand, the foot, &c., in the self-renunciation of godliness, rather than fall with your whole being into the fire of judgment as a sacrifice of death. For this is a fundamental law for sinful humanity: all must enter the fire. But if the fire becomes to man a sacrificial fire, his sacrifice must be voluntarily prepared and seasoned with salt (made savory, like food); otherwise, the fire of Gehenna supplies the place of the salt and the sacrifice.
Mark 9:50. Salt is good.—The καλόν is not exhausted by the word good. Something preëminently good in its kind and effect is intended. The better any product of nature is in itself, the worse it is in its corruption. Therein the salt is an image of man. Saltless salt is not to be saved; and so with the spiritless disciple, or Christian, or minister (without chrisma: without salt). See on Matt. 5:13.—Have salt in yourselves, and have peace.—The salt is figurative, not merely signifying wisdom, but the Spirit as the Spirit of discipline; and on that account it is the symbol of the covenant,—a blessing the preservation and assurance of which has peace for its result. The “have peace one with another” is therefore a consecutive exhortation. Have peace amongst yourselves, such peace as you must have if you have that salt. From this last application it follows that the Lord regarded the contention of the disciples, and their zeal against a beginner in faith not walking in their circle, under the same point of view. All undevout and unholy zealotry, whether towards those within or those without, He explains as resulting from one fundamental offence and fault,—the lack of salt and self-resignation, the want of the Spirit’s discipline and of consecration to God.—Here, again, it is Mark who has given most prominence to words of the Lord which most strongly corrected and admonished His disciples.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. See on the parallel places in Matthew and Luke.
2. Between a hierarchy and the true catechumen’s nurture of the little ones in the Church, there is an essential repugnance. The latter seeks to train up the babes in faith to the full maturity of faith; the former would not only keep the babes in infancy, but would train up the adult to be dumb babes. The extreme adherents of hierarchy and the Baptist principle agree, in that the former ascribe no prerogative to baptism, but make the baptized laity a subordinate class of imperfect Christians; and the latter, with hierarchical exclusiveness, deal like a clerus with the little ones in faith.—The sign which Jesus gave to the Church by His repeated embracing (according to Mark) of the children, was directed the first time rather against the fanatical church-spirit of the hierarchy, and the last time (Mark 10:16) rather against the theological school-spirit of the Baptists. Whosoever of you: compare the history of the Papacy. Gregory the Great called himself the servus servorum, that he might be the first. The hierarchy has taken the ironical word of Christ’s Spirit with unthinking and unintelligent literality; like the word of our Lord, on another occasion, concerning the two swords, Luke 22:38 (see Leben Jesu, ii. 3, 1345), and other similar expressions.
3. But John answered Him.—This history teaches us, in connection with Mark 10:35 and Luke 9:54, how Christ dealt with and purified the zeal, noble but not yet free from fanatical excitement, of the disciples, and especially what may be called the idealistic fanatical zeal of the sons of thunder, as it formed a contrast to the realistic fanatical zeal of Peter. With every development of true faith there is interwoven, especially in its first stages, a certain measure of that other quality which stains its purity, and requires to be eliminated. But when its heart is sound, the flame is soon cleared of its bedimming smoke; the life of faith becomes ever more christianly human, wise, and gentle (see Jas. 3:17, 18). But where the heart is evil, or becomes so through the influence of external things, the life of faith declines into fanaticism and perishes, as the history of Pharisaism and Judaism everywhere proves. Such a fanaticism lived indeed in the soul of Judas; he went on through enthusiasm and excitement to apostasy. The answer of John was a frank avowal, and revelation of himself or confession, before the Lord (see Leben Jesu, ii. 2).
4. The connection of the beginnings of faith:—pious work, Mark 9:38; its root in the devout mind, Mark 9:39; its nourishment in devout habits, humanity, Mark 9:41. Hence loving care for the disciples, leading to quiet recognition of their interests, and thence to active usefulness in the name of Jesus.
5. The bigoted conduct of the disciples towards these beginnings of faith.—In its issue and result an offence or injury to the little ones, and in a twofold sense: either as they are dishonored and wronged, or as they are offended and tempted to resistance and enmity. In its origin, it is an internal offence; offending self through the hand, or the foot, or the eye (see Crit. Notes, Mark 9:43, and on Matthew). In the Church, and for the Church, or in relation to the bride of Christ, that law of self-renunciation and self-sacrifice holds good which is the basis of the relations of marriage, Matt. 5:27 seq. We must be subject to the church, if we would edify it, Rom. 12:3 seq.
6. That a millstone were hanged.—See on Matthew.
7. Into hell, where the fire is not quenched.—Concerning the difference between hell and Gehenna, and the kingdom of the dead or Sheol, see on Matthew. The additional clause, “where their worm dieth not,” etc., points back, as it has been remarked, to the passage Isa. 66:24, where the valley of Hinnom is expressly made a symbol of the punishment of the reprobate, and the Old Testament germ of the doctrine of future eternal punishment distinctly appears, as also it does in the earlier Cherem or death-sentence of the law, and in later passages, such as Ezek. 20:47; Dan. 12:2, and others. According to the passage in Isaiah, the bodies of those who were apostate from Jehovah lay without before the holy city, an abomination to all flesh. The worm of corruption, which devoured them from within, died not; and the fire of judgment, which destroyed them from without, was not extinguished. And this manifestly presented a symbolical idea of eternal suffering; for, literally taken, the fire would be extinguished and consumed with the bodies and the worms. Eternal destruction within, eternal judgment without, and these in eternal reciprocal influence. On the doctrine of hell, compare dogmatic treatises.
8. For every one must be salted with fire, and every sacrifice.—Fire is the symbol of life in its renewing power, and especially of the judicial power and working of God, renewing by a divine energy: thus it is the presence and action of God in the full energy of His holy, penetrating nature: Gen. 15:17; Ex. 3:2; Mai. 3:3; 4:1. Hence it is for the sinful man generally a judicial visitation of God, the mercifully rebuking and correcting manifestation of His nature (Mal. 3:3; 4:1); for the penitent, believing man, it is the saving judgment of grace, the purifying fire, the fire of new quickening, transforming, glorification (Acts 2:3); for the reprobate it is a fire of condemning judgment, Heb. 10:27; 12:29.
9. This gives us the true meaning and significance of the sacrificial fire, of the fire of the altar. It forms a counterpart and contrast to the fire of hell. It is the fire of God, into which man voluntarily enters with his offering, in order that he may escape falling into the terror of the eternal fire. Thus, if we strictly judge ourselves, we shall not be judged. This absolute and inviolable law of the fire-alternative was symbolically exhibited by the Old Testament sacrifice: the Christian must have the reality of it accomplished in himself, whilst he makes himself, as it respects those members and their actions (hand, foot, eye) which might hurt his Christian life, a sacrifice upon the altar. This self-sacrifice is a burnt-offering, inasmuch as the Christian places himself daily at the Lord’s disposal in pure self-dedication (Rom. 12); it is a. sin-offering, inasmuch as he actually renounces and rids himself of all those impulses and acts which are a hindrance. This applies, however, not only to sensual tendencies (Matt. 5), but also to those spiritual and ecclesiastical impulses of the self which are colored and disguised by religion (as it respects place and prerogative). Yet the sacrifice must not proceed from fear, but from loving obedience; it must not be an act of constrained dread, but voluntarily, an act of the spirit, of self-discipline. And that is signified by the salt (see the article Salz in WINER, BUCHNER, and the Stuttgart Bibelwörterbuch). The salt is the symbol of the Spirit, as the spirit of purifying and conserving discipline; even as oil is the symbol of the Spirit, as the Spirit of religious life and the living flame of devotion. Salt is the preserving, cleansing virtue of life: the Spirit who checks and kills sin germinating within. Fire is the transforming power of life: the Spirit who punishes the sin that is present, separating the sinner from sin as the judgment of grace, or destroying the sinner with his sin as the judgment of condemnation. Salt is discipline and conservation; fire is punishment, judgment, purification. Out of the fiery condemnation of Sodom a sea of salt flowed forth. The punishment of the doomed is a source of discipline and healing for those who still live. As fire and light are related to each other, and yet form a direct contrast, so it is with salt and light, Matt. 5:13, 14. Because the salt signified the spirit of discipline, it was needful (according to Ezek. 43:24, the testimony of this passage, and Jewish tradition) to every offering, and not only to the meat-offering (Lev. 2:13); hence it was the proper symbol of the establishment and renewal of the covenant in the sacrifice. Hence, on the one hand, the salt is salt of the covenant (Lev. 2:13), and, on the other, the covenant with Jehovah is a covenant of salt (Num. 18:19; 2 Chron. 13:5); while, in the common life of the Orientals, it was a sign of sacred covenant engagements and obligations. (See WINER, and BAHR, Symbolik.) To eat salt together, meant to make peace, and enter into covenant with each other (ROSENMULLER, Morgenland, ii. 150.) But as salt, or the spirit of discipline, was the fundamental condition of peace with God, so it was also the fundamental condition of peace in the Church, of the mutual peace of Christian people. Hence the word of our Lord: Have salt in yourselves, and peace one with another. The disciples were amongst themselves to have salt, but for the earth to be salt. In reference to the symbolism of the sacrifices, see the works on the subject by Bähr, Kurtz, and Hengstenberg.
10. In connection with the contrast, wide as heaven, between the salt and sacrificial fire on the one hand, and the unquenchable fire of Gehenna on the other, there must also be observed a certain relation, so far as, first, the salt is regarded as a symbol of the sacrificial fire; and, secondly, as the fire is regarded as a kind of salt: the Lord says that all must be salted with fire. The contrast between the two is this: the salt sustains and conserves; the fire, on the contrary, destroys and annihilates. But there is something more than a contrast; there is a strict relation. The salt preserves and sustains by an influence resembling that of fire: it is keen, biting, and pervasive; like a subtle flame, it penetrates all that is corruptible, separates that which is most corruptible and foul, whilst it fixes and quickens that which is sound. Thus it effects a kind of transformation or metamorphosis. So, on the other hand, the fire is a salt of higher potency: it destroys that which is perishable, and thereby establishes the imperishable in its purest perfection; it leads to new and more beautiful forms of being. Salt seems to petrify the object, fire seems to volatilize it; but the salt fixes it in its healthy normal condition, whilst the fire bears it upwards in its pure constituent elements to heaven. Thus the believer is first purified by the salt; but then by the fire of internal and external tribulation he is carried up to God. So it is with the whole world of mankind and the earth itself. First, it is purified and preserved by the salt of the apostolical Church (Matt. 5:13); then by the final fire at the end of the world it will be delivered from its condition of curse, and glorified: 2 Thess. 1:8; 2 Pet. 3:10.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
See on the parallel passages in Matthew and Luke.—Despotism over fellow-disciples, and proselytizing those not disciples, spring from the same source: from the self-exaltation of a proud and unpurified zeal.—Spiritual pride is the common source of all hierarchical and fanatical movements.—The silence of the other disciples compared with John’s answering: 1. In reference to the persons:—the more noble the disciple, the more free he is to make honest and open confession. 2. In reference to the matter:—fanatical zeal in the Church is more readily confessed than the impulses of proud ambition and the lust of ecclesiastical dominion, because it is in its first motives much more noble and less guilty.—The question concerning the greater in the Church, is a question in the way to the judgment-seat of Christ. 1. It will not be resolved before: the primacy waits till then. 2. It will be resolved in the end by the Lord, as He resolved it at the beginning (the first, the last).—The simple image of the pure Church of Christ: 1. Christ sits upon His throne; 2. the preaching sounds out, Whosoever will be first, etc.; 3. the only image in the Church is a little child; 4. the prospect: revelation of the great God through the humble care of the little ones.—The Church of apostolical humility. It marks Christ’s word, “Whosoever will be first,” etc., 1. in its literal significance, a threatening word against all despotism in the external, legal Church; 2. in its spiritual meaning, a word of promise for humble, ministering love in the congregation of His Spirit.—The child and the Apostles: 1. The child their master; 2. the child their scholar; 3. the child their fellow.—How we may receive with the little child the highest life in the name of Jesus: 1. The Lord Christ himself; 2. God himself.—How we may receive with the little child the great God: 1. If the child is received in the name of Jesus; 2. if Jesus is received in the name of God.—The beautiful confession of John.—Christ the holy Master of all the sons of thunder in His Church: 1. How He represses the sons of thunder (or reduces to silence the thunder of carnal zeal); 2. how He arouses the sons of thunder (or lets the thunder of the Spirit resound, Rev. 10:4).—The prohibition of John, and the commandment of the Lord, in relation to free labor in the Church, and for the cause of Christ.—The law of fanatical zeal, and the law of the spirit of freedom in the Church.—Ecclesiastical party zeal in the light of the word and Spirit of Christ.—Christ the defender and guardian of all beginnings of faith, and of all germs of spiritual life: 1. Through His Scripture-word; 2. through His apostolical infant baptism; 3. through the evangelical rights of personal conscience.—The water-cups of mild, human customs, in their connection with the sacramental cup of the God-man.—The connection between false fire of zeal in the Church and the fire of hell.—The three great dangers of ecclesiastical. zeal: 1. Dangers of the hand; 2. dangers of the foot; 3. dangers of the eye.—The law of sacred gentleness in the service of Christ.—The true sacrificial fire of self-denial and self-mortification, in relation to the fiery flame of hell: 1. The relation: all must be salted with fire. 2. The contrast: to be prepared for the fire by salt, or to be salted with fire.—We cannot escape the fire; but we have the choice between the fire of life and the fire of death.—Discipline of the Spirit: the fundamental condition of healthy life in the Church: 1. Of the right warfare, 2. of the right peace.—The zeal of Christ the purifying fire for the zeal of His people.—The thundering of men, and the Lord’s thunder; or, the exaggeration of little strength, and the mildness of great strength: 1. In their origin: a. want of love, want of self-government; b. the zeal of love and divine moderation. 2. In their manifestation: a. thundering of the cannons, of the bulls, of the curses, scattering sudden and swift destruction; b. trumpet-calls to penitence, words of correcting love, alarming and yet not destroying. 3. In their effects: a. lost and ended in time; b. dispensing blessings for a time, and bringing salvation for eternity.—How Christ, with the anticipating grief of holy love, was inflamed with zeal against all covetous and party frenzy of zeal in His Church.—The alternative of the two fires of history: indifference must be burnt away, either, 1. in the fires of salvation, or, 2. in the fires of judgment.
STARKE:—Doubtless it is our duty to wrest from others their hurtful errors; but we are also bound to bear with them for a while, and give them time to come to a better apprehension.—QUESNEL:—Pride reigns in almost all conditions. Few are content to be placed beneath others; most people are intent only upon getting above their fellows, and mount aloft.—Nova. Bibl. Tub.:—Alas, how many will stand before Him with shame and fear, when Christ shall demand an account of all the useless and sinful contentions which they have mutually indulged in!—HEDINGER:—Pride, conceit, ambition, are all utterly out of harmony with the spirit of true Christianity.—LUTHER:—That man has a true nobility who is profoundly humble in heart.—True greatness consists in perfect lowliness.—QUESNEL:—Blessed is it to rest in the arms of the love of Jesus.—It is an honor to receive the great into our house; greater still to receive those who are lacking in all things but the spirit of Christ.—It is a holy work to do good to children, especially to poor and orphan children.—OSIANDER:—The most pious, devoted, and faithful ministers in the Church have their failings.—HEDINGER:—God has a marvellous method in the dispensation of His graces and gifts, and we must not be too ready to reject what is not as yet perfectly pure and flawless, Phil. 1:16.—QUESNEL:—We too often blend our own selves, our prejudices and notions, with the things of God; and our pride uses the honor of His name as a mere cloak.—OSIANDER:—Instead of envying and grudging, we should praise God for the wonderful variety of gifts which He bestows for the common good.—Bibl. Wirt.:—God’s gifts are not bound to any particular person, or to any particular condition; but He distributes them Himself freely, if He will, to whom He will, and when He will.—CRAMER:—To deal with little children is a delicate matter; we may soon plant either what is good or what is evil in them.—That young people have offences so often thrown in their way is one reason why there is so much wickedness among the adult.—Bibl. Wirt.:—To give offence is, in those who hold the office of correction, a threefold sin: 1. They sin themselves; 2. they make others sin; 3. they cannot use their office.—To enter into life halt or lame: his fleshly lusts are as dear to man as one of his members.—CRAMER:—Who can doubt about hell, and the damnation of hell, when Christ has so often repeated and confirmed the truth?—Our foot offends us in two ways: 1. If it goes in evil ways; 2. if it stands still.—QUESNEL:—To be salted with the fire of hell, as an offering to the divine righteousness.—Bibl. Wirt.:—If God’s word is falsified, or not with all solemnity add earnestness dealt with, there is no other salt for the sinful flesh: it breeds all kinds of corruption, and all kinds of sins have dominion.—CANSTEIN:—Faithful teachers must give all diligence to maintain the integrity of the sound doctrine of the gospel; yet they must avoid all contention, and approve themselves not only true, but also full of love and peace.
LISCO:—In earthly empires power rules; in the kingdom of heaven rules the power of devoted, self-sacrificing, and self-humbling love (Mark 9:33).—Secret pride was the reason why the disciples so acted. But Jesus is displeased with their conduct; for He would have a love in them that should be ready to love heartily everything in others, wherever seen, that presented anything spiritually congenial.—Jesus rejects and condemns all casting off, shutting out, and repulsion, as unchildlike. The gnawing worm of the evil conscience, and the burning smart of divine wrath, are figures of the eternal destruction which will befall the seducers.—All things, that is, the whole of humanity, must be salted with fire.—GERLACH:—He who is not against you, is with you. Only in things merely external does Jesus include Himself with the disciples in the we: We go up to Jerusalem.—But, when internal relations are in question, He does not say we and us, any more than He says Our Father. And for this reason: 1. Because He distinguishes himself from them as sinners; 2. because He identifies himself with them as believers,—the branches united with the vine, John 15:1.—He who is not with Me, etc. Both words must always be united; so that Christ’s disciples must take equal care to instruct the ignorant and to bear with the weak, 1 Thess. 5:14.—BRAUNE:—They had indeed the feeling that this thought was not right in the sight of Christ. Therefore He asks them about it; He gives them opportunity to utter it aloud. And thus their Master makes them sensible how exceedingly improper that thought was.—Earthly, temporal relations, they carried over into their notions of the eternal kingdom of God.—There are indeed distinctions even in the kingdom of God (Peter, John, James); but that He termed Peter the Rock could not at that time have been misunderstood by the Apostles, as He was misunderstood by Catholic Christendom, especially by the whole of the Middle Ages.—At first they kept silence; and when they spoke, it was only through shame. And so it was right. It is not well to be put to shame at death; better is it to come forward and be exposed before God, and the Saviour and His people.—With the unpretending act of receiving a little child, He connects the greatest of all, the receiving God.—With perfect right the disciples of Jesus held their vocation high and precious. But that they supposed their vocation the only channel through which God could reveal His Son in men’s hearts, was a great error.—We should be willing to trace and follow out all the threads in others which lead to Christ.—There is such a thing as an internal, though it may be weak, inclination towards Christ, without any external and full fellowship.—The Redeemer undoubtedly had in view those offences which are connected with the teaching office in the Church, when contentions arise, and love, humility, and regard for the little ones are discountenanced. We do not always perceive, or at least sufficiently consider, what great offence and damage may ensue from the neglect of heartfelt humility of poverty of heart and lowliness of spirit.—All that gives offence, and all that takes offence, must alike in the end be abolished and vanish away.—Jesus took no offence, and gave no offence; for God was in Him.—Happy are we if His spirit dwelleth in us.
SCHLEIERMACHER:—(With reference to Matt. 20:28, and the ministering of Christ.)—He must in spirit descend into the unsaved depths of the human heart: it was needful that He should see how, and in what variety of ways, the most various tempers and spirits might be aided and saved—brought to sink into their own absolute nothingness, in order that they might attain to the new birth in Him.—That was His ministering; and in this sense He says that He—who is the first in the kingdom of heaven, who is all in all, He who is the One supreme over all and in all, He in whom all have all things—is at the same time the servant of all.—The greater the power of Christ in the disciple, and the more that power works through him for the well-being of others, the greater he is in the kingdom of heaven.—To receive God—what greater thing can be conceived!—(The transaction with John.) There is a condition under which the gradual influences of the Spirit best effect their work, and that is undisturbed self-concentration. The more men are excited in reference to external things, the more are their minds closed against higher influences; but when they are in perfect repose, the gentle inspirations of the Divine Spirit have their better effect.
BRIEGER:—Are we to understand the words to mean, that he who burns with desire to be the first should be the last, in order to compass that end? Would any such humility as that possess a value? The Lord could not possibly have intended to say that the being little was a means to becoming great. The “If any man will” is intended rather to show the way in which a man becomes great in the kingdom of God, without willing to be so.—This way is that of self-denial.—Because the Lord from heaven entered into the condition, or assumed the form, of a servant, His Church also must take the same form.—To receive is here indeed a high thing: to take up to Himself.—In reference to ourselves, we have to observe the word “He who is not with Me,” etc. In reference to others, we have to observe the word “He that is not against you,” etc., that we may judge them in the spirit of Jesus.
GOSSNER:—In the kingdom of humility there is no contention.—The more humble and simple we are, the nearer we are to the Saviour.—The holiest words, without anointing and salt, are good for nothing.—BAUER:—By their ruling we know the great ones of this world; by their serving we know the great ones of the kingdom of heaven.—Where love, the sacred regard for faith however little, is wounded, the retribution of the kingdom of heaven is severe.
Mark 9:30.—Lachmann, ἐπορεύοντο, after B.*, D. Meyer: “The compound was given up as misunderstood.”
Mark 9:31.—Lachmann and Tischendorf read, following B., C., D., L., Δ., Versions, μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας, as in Mark 8:31. But it is quite natural that the more definite expression should occur here.
Mark 9:83.—Lachmann, Tischendorf, [after B., D., Vulgate]: ἦλθον Πρὸς ἑαυτούς is wanting in [B., C., D., Versions, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer.]
Mark 9:34.—The omission of ἐν τῇ ὁδῶ in some Codd. [A., D.] is not important.
Mark 9:38.—Tischendorf [and Meyer] read ἔφη αὐτῷ, [with the omission of λέγων,] after B., L., Δ., and Versions. Perhaps an explanation of the more difficult “John answered.”—A. and others omit ἐν; B., D. retain it. The former seems more unusual and more correct.—See Meyer on the omissions of ὃς οὐκ and ὅτι οὐκ. [’̀Ος οὐκ ἀκολουθεῖ ἡμῖν is wanting in B., C., L., Δ., while, on the contrary, this is found in D., X., Versions, Vulgate, Fritzsche, Tischendorf, but ὅτι οὐκ ἀκολ ἡμῖν is wanting. Meyer retains both.]
Mark 9:40.—A., D., E., F., Versions, read ὑμῶν.
Mark 9:41.—Τῷ and μοῦ are omitted in A., B., C.
Mark 9:42.—Τούτων is added by Tischendorf and Lachmann, after A., B., C.**; Meyer derives it from Matt, 18:6.—Lachmann: μύλος ὀνικός, after B., C., D. Meyer derives this also from Matthew.
Mark 9:43.—Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Meyer]: καλόν ἐστίν σε, after B., C., L.
Mark 9:45.—The omission of εἰς τὸ πῦρ ἄσβεστον [in B., C., L., Tischendorf, Meyer,] is to be explained by the fact of the repetition of the words concerning the worm; which only in Mark 9:48 is found in all the Codd. [In Mark 9:44, 46 it is wanting in B., C., L., Δ., and Tischendorf.]
Mark 9:47.—Τοῦ πυρός is wanting in many Codd.