Mark 9:33
And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that you disputed among yourselves by the way?
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(33-37) And he came to Capernaum.—See Notes on Matthew 18:1-5. The arrival at Capernaum is given by St. Matthew in connection with the narrative of the didrachma or tribute money, which in his Gospel immediately precedes that now before us. St. Mark alone records the previous dispute of the disciples, and the question which brought that dispute as into the light of day.




Mark 9:33

Was it not a strange time to squabble when they had just been told of His death? Note-

I. The variations of feeling common to the disciples and to us all: one moment ‘exceeding sorrowful,’ the next fighting for precedence.

II. Christ’s divine insight into His servants’ faults.

This question was put because He knew what the wrangle had been about. The disputants did not answer, but He knew without an answer, as His immediately following warnings show. How blessed to think that Psalm 139:1 applies to Him-’There is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord! Thou knowest it altogether,’

III. The compassion of Christ seeking to cure the sins He sees.

His question is not to rebuke, but to heal; so His perfect knowledge is blended with perfect love.

IV. The test of evil. They were ashamed to tell Him the cause of their dispute.

V. The method of cure. The presence of Christ is the end of strife and of sin in general.
Mark 9:33-37. Being in the house — With his apostles, with a view to introduce the discourse he intended; he asked, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves, &c. — Our Lord’s late prediction concerning his sufferings had made the disciples exceeding sorry, Matthew 17:23; but their grief soon went off, or their ignorance quickly got the better of it; for in a day or two after, some of them, forming a separate company, fell a disputing about the chief posts of honour and profit in their Master’s kingdom. This debate Jesus overheard; and though he said nothing to them at the time, yet afterward, when they were alone in the house, he did not fail to inquire about it. They were at first silent, not caring to discover the matter to him. Therefore, he sat down, and called the twelve — Namely, to stand round him, and attend to what he should say and do. It is natural to suppose that twelve persons, travelling together on foot, would form themselves into two or three little companies, while some of them no doubt would be attending Christ and discoursing with him: but our Lord judged it proper, being now in the house, that all the twelve should hear this admonition, though they might not all have been engaged in the dispute which occasioned it. And saith, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be, or let him be, last of all — Let him abase himself the most: And servant of all — Let him serve his brethren in all the offices of humility, condescension, and kindness. In other words, If any man desire to be the greatest person in my kingdom, let him endeavour to obtain that dignity by preferring others in honour, and by doing them all the good in his power. This he said, to signify that in his kingdom, they who are most humble and modest, and zealous in doing good, shall be acknowledged as the greatest persons. And he took a child — That happened then to be in the house where they lodged; and set him in the midst of them — That they might all fix their eyes upon him, and attend to the instruction which Jesus was about to draw from such an emblem of simplicity, sincerity, humility, teachableness, and innocence. Luke expresses it thus: And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child. His perceiving their thought does not seem to relate to the dispute which happened some hours before, and which they had sufficiently declared in their question, but it relates to their present frame of mind. He knew that each of them ardently wished to be the greatest in his kingdom, and he proposed to cure their ambition. See the notes on Matthew 18:1-4. He said, Whosoever shall receive one of such children — Whosoever shall show kindness, even to the least of my disciples; whosoever shall encourage and assist such a one because he belongs to me; receiveth me — Thus, after showing how acceptable a grace humility is, he next declares that kindness shown to such as humble themselves, like little children, is in reality kindness shown to him, especially if it be done out of obedience to his command. Whosoever shall receive me, receiveth him that sent me — Even my heavenly Father, who is honoured or affronted as I am respected or slighted. And this regard to the meanest of my servants, I must urge upon you as of the utmost importance. For (Luke) he that is least among you all, that acts as if he were the least, or meanest, or who is most humble and condescending, the same shall be great, in my esteem, and be distinguished by peculiar marks of the divine favour. See notes on Matthew 18:4-5.9:30-40 The time of Christ's suffering drew nigh. Had he been delivered into the hands of devils, and they had done this, it had not been so strange; but that men should thus shamefully treat the Son of man, who came to redeem and save them, is wonderful. Still observe that when Christ spake of his death, he always spake of his resurrection, which took the reproach of it from himself, and should have taken the grief of it from his disciples. Many remain ignorant because they are ashamed to inquire. Alas! that while the Saviour teaches so plainly the things which belong to his love and grace, men are so blinded that they understand not his sayings. We shall be called to account about our discourses, and to account for our disputes, especially about being greater than others. Those who are most humble and self-denying, most resemble Christ, and shall be most tenderly owned by him. This Jesus taught them by a sign; whoever shall receive one like this child, receives me. Many have been like the disciples, ready to silence men who have success in preaching to sinners repentance in Christ's name, because they follow not with them. Our Lord blamed the apostles, reminding them that he who wrought miracles in his name would not be likely to hurt his cause. If sinners are brought to repent, to believe in the Saviour, and to live sober, righteous, and godly lives, we then see that the Lord works by the preacher.See the notes at Matthew 18:1-5. Mr 9:33-50. Strife among the Twelve Who Should Be Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, with Relative Teaching—Incidental Rebuke of John for Exclusiveness. ( = Mt 18:1-9; Lu 9:46-50).

Strife among the Twelve, with Relative Teaching (Mr 9:33-37).

33. What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?—From this we gather that after the painful communication He had made to them, the Redeemer had allowed them to travel so much of the way by themselves; partly, no doubt, that He might have privacy for Himself to dwell on what lay before Him, and partly that they might be induced to weigh together and prepare themselves for the terrible events which He had announced to them. But if so, how different was their occupation!

Ver. 33,34. This ambition of the disciples we have had occasion before to discourse of;

See Poole on "Matthew 18:1". It has founded upon their mistake of the true nature of the kingdom of the Messiah, which they at this time, and a long time after, (even to the time of Christ’s ascension, as appeareth by Acts 1:6), understood of a temporal, secular kingdom, in the administration of which he should deliver the Jews from all slavery and bondage: this made their minds so often run of dignities and places which he should, in that administration, have a power to dispose of. This made the mother of Zebedee’s children petition for places for her two sons. And he came to Capernaum,.... Where he met with the collectors of the tribute money, and paid it to them, as related by Matthew, Matthew 17:24, though Mark takes no notice of it. The Vulgate Latin and the Syriac versions, read in the plural number, "they came"; Christ and his twelve apostles; and which is the sense of the words, read in the singular number; for Christ came not alone, but with his disciples:

and being in the house; of Simon and Andrew, very likely where he used to be when at Capernaum:

he asked them, what was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? Whilst in their journey from Caesarea Philippi, to Galilee; or as they travelled through the parts of Galilee to Capernaum. This question Christ put, not as ignorant of what had passed among them, but in order to have the case laid before him; that he might reprove them for their pride and ambition, and have an opportunity of teaching them humility, and of informing them of the nature of his kingdom, and subjects; concerning which, they had entertained very wrong notions. The phrase "among yourselves", is omitted in the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions, but stands in the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic.

{8} And he came to Capernaum: and being in the {k} house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?

(8) Only humility exalts.

(k) Where he was accustomed to make his home.

Mark 9:33-37. See on Matthew 18:1-5. Comp. Luke 9:46-48. Only Matthew 17:24 ff. has the history of the stater. Of subordinate importance, perhaps also belonging to a more local tradition, it seems to have remained unknown to Mark, with which view κ. ἦλθ. εἰς Καπ. in Mark 9:33 is not at variance (in opposition to de Wette).

Mark is more original in the historical introduction of the point in question, Mark 9:33 f., whereas Matthew 18:3-4 has rightly completed the narrative from the collection of Logia, but has, on the other hand, withdrawn from the conclusion in Mark 9:5 its completeness, as it appears in Mark Mark 9:37 (Matthew has the thought already at Mark 10:40).

ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ] See Mark 9:30.

ἐσιώπων] from being conscience—struck.

πρὸς ἀλλήλ.] emphatically prefixed: with one another, so that they one against the other claimed the higher place. It was not the general question τίς μείζων in abstracto, but the concrete question of personal jealousy in their own circle of disciples.

τίς μείζων] This brief, certainly primitive, interrogation is in Matthew more precisely defined by ἐν τῇ βασιλ. τ. οὐρ. from the answer (Mark 9:3). This more precise definition, however, is not, with Beza, Heupel, and many others, to be imported also here, but it stands simply: who is of higher rank, although it is self-evident that they had also included in their view their position in the kingdom of heaven.

καθίσας ἐφών. τοὺς δώδεκα] by way of solemn preparation.

If a man desires to be of the first rank, he must, etc. This ἔσται expresses the result (comp. on Matthew 20:26 f.),—the state of things that will arise in consequence of that wish,—and thereby defines the right θέλειν πρῶτ. εἶναι.

Mark 9:36 does not come in unconnectedly (Weisse, Holtzmann), but the progression is: “Of all servants, even of the least, the affectionate reception of whom is a service shown to myself,” etc.

ἐναγκαλισ.] after he had embraced it. Comp. Mark 10:16. An original trait, which is only found in Mark. The verb occurs only in Mark, but is frequent in the classical writers.

Mark 9:37. οὐκἀλλά] not non tam … quam, but with conscious rhetorical emphasis the ἐμὲ δέχεται is absolutely negatived (comp. Matthew 10:20), which is intended to denote in the strongest degree the importance of the reception of such a child (a child-like unassuming believer, see on Matthew 18:5) to fraternal loving fellowship. See Winer, p. 439 ff. [E. T. 623 ff.]; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 9 f.Mark 9:33-50. The Twelve at school (Matthew 18:1-10, Luke 9:46-50, etc.).33–37. True Greatness in Christ’s Kingdom

33. he came] or rather they came, to Capernaum. Here, the next recorded event was the miraculous payment of the tribute-money (Matthew 17:24-27), the half-shekel for the Temple-service.Mark 9:33. Ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ, in the house) A change having in some degree, simultaneously with the change of place, taken place in their state of feeling, which had been rather excited whilst in “the way.” [Comp. Matthew 18:1, note].—τί, what) We must render an account of all things.Verses 33, 34. - They have now reached Capernaum. And when he was in the house - the house, that is, which he frequented when staying in Capernaum - he asked them, What were ye reasoning in the way? The words "among yourselves," of the Authorized Version, are not found in the best authorities. St. Matthew (Matthew 18:1) does not record this question of our Lord, which brings to light the fact that they had been disputing by the way which of them should be the greatest. The Greek is (τίς μείζων) who was greater, that is, than the rest. It has been well noticed that this passage, given in substance in all the synoptic Gospels, is a striking evidence of the truthfulness and impartiality of the disciples. This dispute of theirs might easily have been suppressed as scarcely creditable to them. But in writing the Gospels the evangelists thought more of what exalted the Savior than what abased themselves. This dispute of the disciples shows how thoroughly they realized the nearness of his kingdom, and at the same time how much they had yet to learn as to the qualifications necessary for admission to it. It is not unlikely that the preference given by our Lord to Peter, James, and John may have given occasion for his contention.
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