Mark – Jesus the Perfect Servant

Dec 12, 2020 version (Unfinished)

 

The four gospels give the story of Jesus in “quadraphonic stereo”, with the four evangelists giving us four perspectives. Matthew emphasizes the prophecies of our coming King, Mark emphasizes Jesus as the servant, Luke emphasizes the humanity of Christ, and John emphasizes the deity of Christ. The early church thought of the four gospels as the four faces of the cherubim: a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. The first three gospels are more similar to each other than they are to John. It is thought that John wrote his gospel last, and it is likely he was aware of the other gospels and made sure to include things the others did not. For example, John mentions John the Baptist in John 1:19 with an assumption the reader already knows who he is.

 

Mark the person. Mark the interpreter of Peter, and so Mark in a sense could be called “Peter’s Gospel. However, Mark himself was likely an eyewitness, and we are reasonably sure of that based on a detail that nobody else would pick up. Mark 14:51 tells of the young man in the Garden of Gethsemane that ran away naked. The early Christians also recognized that Mark was the author of this gospel.

   Mark has a greater number of Latin words than other gospels, such as census, denarius, legion, and praetorium. Mark is a Latin name, and John is a Hebrew name. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament p.99 says that Latin terms were used instead of their Greek equivalents in Mark 5:9; 6:27; 12:15,42; 15:16,39. In two phrases, in Mark 3:6 and 14:65, Mark uses a Latin, not a Greek construction, as though Latin were his first language and he learned Greek later. Roman time is used in Mark 6:48 and 13:35. Aramaic expressions are translated into Greek in Mark 3:17; 5:41; 7:11,34; 9:43; 10:46; 14:36; 15:22,34.

 

As far as language goes, some see similarities in the words in Peter and Mark. Mark actually was the interpreter for Peter. Mark is also mentioned in Acts 12:12,25; 13:5,13; 15:37,39; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24; and 1 Peter 5:13. Mark has the simplest vocabulary of the gospels. Mark wrote in everyday Greek. For example, the sentence of Mark 1:1 has no verb, like it was really the title. As far as similarities are concerned, about 90% of the verses in Mark have some parallel in Matthew. 40% of the verses in Mark have some parallel in Luke. Together 91% of the verses in Mark have some parallel in Matthew or Luke.

 

Mark is a gospel of action. Mark often used the word “immediately”, 42 times to in fact. He emphasizes Christ the servant. Jesus healed, fed, cast out demons, and gave his life as a ransom for many. There are thirteen miracles recorded in Mark. Christ is the hope for simple people. A key passage is Mark 10:45. Some distinctives in Mark are that Jesus demanded that the demons be silent in Mark 1:25,34; 3:12. Jesus many times did not want His miracles publicized 1:44; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26,30. Finally, Mark frequently mentioned the slowness of the disciples to understand in Mark 4:13,40; 6:52; 7:17-19; 8:17-21

 

As for false religions, Mark 1:9-11, as well as Matthew 3:16-17 are good passages to show Oneness Pentecostals that the Father, Son, and Spirit are not identical or merely three “modes” of one person.

 

Pre-Nicene writers who refer to the Gospel of Mark

Clement of Rome (96/98 A.D.)

Origen (225-253/254 A.D.) (Jn 9:39)

Elders (95-117 A.D.)

Treatise on Rebaptism (c.250-258 A.D.)

Epistle of Barnabas (100-150 A.D.)

Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.)

Polycarp (100-155 A.D.)

Firmilian of Caesarea (256 A.D.)

Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.)

Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) (Jn 20:1)

Tatian’s Diatessaron (died 172 A.D.) 429.5 verses (63.3%)

Theonas of Alexandria (282-300 A.D.) allusion

Melito of Sardis (170-177/180 A.D.)

Adamantius (c.300 A.D.)

Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) (Jn 1:6)

Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.)

The Muratorian Canon (180-210 A.D.)

Methodius (270-311/312 A.D.)

Clement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.)

Athanasius of Alexandria (318 A.D.)

Tertullian (207/208 A.D.)

Lactantius (c.303-320/325 A.D.) (allusion)

Hippolytus (222-235/236 A.D.)

 

Writings up through 325 A.D. quote 67% of the 678 verses of the Gospel of Mark.

 

Early manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark

p45 Chester Beatty I (all four gospels and Acts) (100-150 A.D.) (formerly thought to be late 2nd or early 3rd century A.D.) (Mk 4:36-5:2; 5:16-26; 5:38-6:3; 2 letters of 6:15; 6:16-25, 36-50; 7:3-15; 7:25-8:1; 8:10-26; 8:34-9:8; 4 letters of 9:9; 9:18-31; 11:27-12:1; 12:5-8,13-19,24-28 [147 verses])

p84 Mk 2:2-5,8-9; 6:30-31,33-34; 36-37, 39-41 also John 5:5; 17:3,7-8 (6th century)

p88 Mk 2:1-26 (4th century)

Vaticanus [B] (325-350 A.D.), Sinaiticus [Si] (340-350 A.D.), and Alexandrinus [A] (c.450 A.D.) have all of Mark.

 

When did Mark write?

Mark was either written in the early 50’s or else 57-60 A.D. Here is a summary of who supported each view.

Mark wrote after Peter’s death (67-69 A.D.) according to Justin Martyr’s Anti-Marcionite Prologue “After the death of Peter himself, he [Mark] wrote down this same Gospel….”

Irenaeus of Lyons also says the same in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.1.1 p.414

Mark wrote before Peter died according to Clement of Alexandria and Origen (in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History 2.15.2; 6.14.6; 6.25.5 (64-68 A.D.)

See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.98-99, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.605-612, and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1317-1318 for more info.

   Regardless though, Mark was written in tumultuous times. Half of Rome was destroyed by a fire in 64 A.D. It was suspected that Nero ordered the fire to be started. The Jewish nation rebelled from the Romans from 66 to 70 A.D.

 

Here is an outline of the Gospel of Mark.

1:1-13 Pre-Ministry Prep

1:14-3:6 Early Galilean Ministry

3:7-6:13 Jesus trains His disciples in Galilee

6:14-8:30 Goodbye to Galilee

9:1-10:52 Journey to Jerusalem

11-13:2 In Jerusalem

13:3-37 The Olivet Discourse

14-15 The Way to the Cross

16 Resurrection Triumph

Disputed part 16:9-20


Mark 1:1-13 – Pre-Ministry Prep

 

1. In Mk 1:1, what did Mark mean by the word Gospel (evangelion in Greek)?

 

 

2. In Mk 1:2, does Mark add to Mal 3:1 here?

 

 

3. Does Mk 1:2 say “in the prophets” (KJV, NKJV, Green’s Literal Translation), or “in Isaiah the prophet” (NASB, uNASB, NIV, NRSV, Williams Translation, Wuest’s Expanded Translation)?

 

 

 

4. In Mk 1:2, did Isaiah say all of this?

 

 

5. In Mk 1:2, what are the differences between these Old Testament verses in the Masoretic text and the Septuagint (LXX) translation?

 

 

 

6. In Mk 1:4, what exactly is remission of sins?

 

 

 

7. In Mk 1:4,9 and Lk 3:3, since baptism was for the forgiveness / remission of sins, why was Jesus baptized, since Jesus was sinless according to Hebrews 4:15; 2 Corinthians 2:5:21, John 8:46, and 1 Peter 1:19?

 

 

 

8. In Mk 1:8, how does Jesus baptize with the Holy Spirit?

 

 

 

 

9. In Mk 1:10, since the Holy Spirit immediately came out of Heaven in the form of a dove, does this show the Holy Spirit is not a person, as Jehovah’s Witnesses might think?

 

 

 

10. In Mk 1:12, why did the Holy Spirit send Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted?

 


7. In Mk 1:5, how could the kingdom of God be at hand?

 


Mark 1:14-45 – The Contest Begins

 

1. In Mk 1:14, is the “gospel of the kingdom of God” the same as the “gospel of Christ”?

 

 

 

2. In Mk 1:5, how could the kingdom of God be at hand?

 

 

 

3. In Mk 1:14-15, why did Mark start with the Galilean ministry, skipping the first Judean ministry in John 1:1-4:54?

 

 

 

4. In Mk 1:16-18, how is winning disciples like fishing, as opposed to say hunting?

 

 

 

5. In Mk 1:24, why did the demons publicly recognize Jesus?

 

 

 

6. In Mk 1:24-26, was there one demon or many inside the man?

 

 

 

7. In the gospel of Mark we find Jesus keeping His Messianism secret, (Mk 1:24; 1:34; 5:34; 8:30; 9:9), but in the other gospels we find Him usually drawing the attention of people to Him openly as a Son of God, through His words or deeds. Why?

 

 

 

8. In Mk 1:34, 3:11-12, Lk 4:34-35, and Lk 4:41, why did Jesus not allow the demons to speak?

 

 

 

9. In Mk 1:37, since “all” sought Jesus, was every single person seeking Jesus?

 

 

 

10. In Mk 1:38, why didn’t Jesus stay in one place very long?

 

 

 

11. In Mk 1:40-41, what kind of doubt did the leper have?

 

 

 

12. In Mk 1:44-45, why did the man disobey Jesus and tell everyone about his healing?

 

 

 

13. In Mk 1:40-44, was the leper good or not?


Mark 2 – Conflict with the Religious: the Paralytic, Levi, and the Sabbath

 

1. In Mk 2:4, how could they uncover the roof and lower the man down?

 

 

 

2. In Mk 2:7, why did the scribes conclude Jesus was blaspheming by saying the man’s sins were forgiven?

 

 

 

3. In Mk 2:10 how would they think healing and forgiveness would be inter-related?

 

 

 

4. In Mk 2:10, would it have been blasphemy for Jesus to say his sins were forgiven, if Jesus were not God?

 

 

 

5. In Mk 2:15, did Jesus have His own home?

 

 

 

6. In Mk 2:17, why did Jesus say He was not calling the righteous?

 

 

 

7. In Mk 2:18-20, why were Jesus’ disciples not fasting?

 

 

 

8. In Mk 2:21-22 and Mt 9:16-17, what is the meaning of the two parables of the cloths and wineskins?

 

 

 

9. In Mk 2:22, how do organizations become like old wineskins and lose their ability to stretch to new things?

 

 

 

10. In Mk 2:23-24, what would be considered wrong with plucking grain?

 

 

 

11. In Mk 2:26, was this in the days of Abiathar, or his father Ahimelech?


Mark 3 – Conflict over Lawful Evil, and Agreement among Demons

 

1. In Mk 3:6, what is so hypocritical about the Pharisees and Herodians (aka Sadducees) here?

 

 

 

2. In Mk 3:14,19, since Jesus appointed twelve disciples, how come one of them, Judas Iscariot, later betrayed Jesus?

 

 

 

3. In Mk 3:6, why wouldn’t Jesus accept true testimony about Him, when it was from demons? Is there testimony today that God does not accept?

 

 

 

4. In Mk 3:14-19, why did Jesus want to have twelve disciples?

 

 

 

5. In Mk 3:14-19, why do you think Jesus did not choose any experts in scripture or people who already preached?

 

 

 

6. In Mk 3:17, how does the word “boanerges” mean sons of thunder?

 

 

 

7. In Mk 3:14-19, what happened to the apostles?

 

 

 

 

 

8. In Mk 3:22, who is Beelzebub?

 

 

9. In Mk 3:27 what or who are Satan’s possessions here?

 

 

10. In Mk 3:31-35, why did Jesus mention his mother, brothers, and sisters here?

 

 

11. In Mk 3:31-35, was Jesus sinning by not honoring His mother here?

 

 

12. In Mk 3:31-35, why wasn’t Joseph here?


Mark 4:1-34 – Parables of Growth

 

1. In Mk 4:10-20, why did Jesus only explain the meaning of these parables to the twelve disciples?

 

 

 

2. In Mk 4:11-12, why would Jesus deliberately obscure the gospel by speaking in parables so that people would not understand, turn, and be forgiven? Did he not come that all men might be saved? (Ahmad Deedat brought this up.)

 

3. In Mk 4:14-20 and Lk 8:5-15, in the parable of the sower, how are people like the four soils?

 

 

 

4. In Mk 4:14-20, in the parable, wasn’t the sower too careless with the seed?

 

 

 

5. In Mk 4:22, what kinds of things will later be manifested?

 

 

6. In Mk 4:21-25, how are we supposed to “shine” today?

 

 

 

7. In Mk 4:21-25, what are some things, like the basket, that steal, hide, or quench light?

 

 

 

8. In Mk 4:24, Lk 6:38, and other verses, what does it mean that the measure you use/give will be the measure you receive?

 

 

9. In Mk 4:26 what is the point of this parable?

 

 

10. In Mk 4:31, why does it say the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, since smaller seeds exist?

 

 

11. In Mk 4:32, why is the mustard plant the largest of all herbs, since there are larger herbs?

 

 

12. In Mk 4:33, as the birds good or bad here?

 

 

13. In Mk 4:34, why did Jesus teach everything in parables?


Mark 4:35-5:14 – How do you deal with opposition?

 

1. In Mk 4:38, how could Jesus be asleep in the ship during a storm?

 

 

 

2. In Mk 4:38f, why is this question so off-base?

 

 

 

3. In Mk 4:39, how could the wind cease so suddenly?

 

 

 

4. In Mk 4:39 squalls were quite dangerous, and the fishermen knew they were in real danger, if it weren’t for the person they were sitting with. In the storms we encounter in life, how can we be sure we are “in the boat” with Jesus?

 

 

 

5. Jesus dealt with the disciples who questioned Him here, and the demons and people who opposed him in very different ways. How should we deal with people who question or oppose us in different ways?

 

 

 

6. In Mk 5:3-4, how could this demon-possessed man be so strong that he could break chains and fetters?

 

 

 

7. In Mk 5:6, why was a demon-possessed man running to Jesus to worship Him?

 

 

 

8. In Mk 5:9 and Lk 8:30, why was the demon’s name “Legion”?

 

 

 

9. In Mk 5:10-14 and Lk 8:32, why did Jesus appear to “make a deal” with the demons?

 

 

 

 

10. In Mk 5:10-14, should Christians ever make deals with demons today?


Mark 5:15-43 – Jesus has Power over Demons and Death

 

1. In Mk 5:12 and Lk 8:30-33, why did the demons want to go into the pigs?

 

 

2. In Mk 5:13, what should everyone know about demon possession from this event?

 

 

3. In Mk 5:13, why did Jesus allegedly destroy 2000 pigs to heal one man? (Ahmad Deedat brought this up.)

 

 

4. In Mk 5:17 and Lk 8:37, why did the multitude ask Jesus to leave?

 

 

 

5. In Mk 5:18-20, why didn’t Jesus allow the man to accompany Him?

 

 

 

6. In Mk 5:27-34, when the woman with the flow of blood touched Jesus, why did Jesus publicly ask who touched Him?

 

 

 

7. In Mk 5:30-33, since Jesus could know what was in a person, why did Jesus ask her?

 

 

8. In Mk 5:35 and Lk 8:49, why did they say not to trouble Jesus once the daughter of Jairus died?

 

 

9. In Mk 5:39 and Lk 8:52-53, why did Jesus say that Jairus’ daughter was not dead, but sleeping?

 

 

10. In Mk 5:41 and Lk 8:54, why did Jesus say, “Maid arise”?

 

 

11. In Mk 5:42 and Lk 8:56, why did Jesus tell the girl’s parents not to tell anyone about this miracle?

 

 

12. In Mk 5:41; 7:34, why is Mark explaining Aramaic expressions to his readers?

 

 

13. In Mk 5:41, did Jesus speak Aramaic or Greek?


Mark 6:1-29 – Taking Jesus for Granted

 

1. In Mk 6:1-6, why did many in Jesus’ hometown not believe in Him?

 

 

2. In Mk 6:1-6, what are some ways people take Jesus for granted today, without outright rejecting Him?

 

 

3. In Mk 6:3, how could you encourage people not to take Jesus for granted?

 

 

4. In Mk 6:5, does Jesus not being able to do any miracles prove He is not God, as Jehovah’s Witnesses claim in Reasoning from the Scriptures p.150 (1989)?

 

 

5. In Mk 6:5, why was Jesus not able to do any mighty miracles in His hometown?

 

 

6. In Mk 6:8-9, why could the disciples not take a bag, bread or copper [money] in their belts?

 

 

7. In Mk 6:10 and Lk 9:4-5, why were they not to go to multiple houses in one town?

 

 

8. In Mk 6:11, if you lived back then, and you had a prophecy of what Judas Iscariot would do, should you take Judas into your house?

 

 

9. In Mk 6:17-18, why was it not lawful for Herod Antipas to have his brother’s wife?

 

 

10. In Mk 6:20, how did Herod Antipas fear and respect John, since Herod later killed John?

 

 

11. In Mt 14:6-10, Mk 6:21, and Gen 40:20-22, since Herod had John the Baptist killed on Herod’s birthday, and Pharaoh had the chief baker killed on Pharaoh’s birthday, do these verses imply we should not celebrate birthdays, as Jehovah’s Witnesses say in Reasoning from Scriptures p.68-69 (1989)?

 

 

12. In Mk 6:14-29, while Herod did not really reject John the Baptist, how is Herod taking John the Baptist for granted different from others taking Jesus for granted?

 

 

13. In Mk 6:14-29, why do some people, like Herod here, do evil things they know they don’t want to do?


Mark 6:30-56 – A Banquet in the Wilderness - God takes, and blesses, breaks, and multiplies and heals

 

1. In Mk 6:30-34, why did they need to rest, and was it essential?

 

 

 

 

2. In Mk 6:30-32, what is the place of rest in the Christian life?

 

 

 

 

3. In Mk 6:38 and Mk 8:5, why before each of the two feedings did Jesus ask how much food was available?

 

 

 

 

4. In Mk 6:38, why did Jesus command the impossible?

 

 

 

 

5. In Mk 6:38-44, what spiritual lesson is there for us about the loaves?

 

 

 

 

6. In Mk 6:48, why was Jesus about to pass them by?

 

 

 

 

7. In Mk 6:52, how can a believer’s heart be hardened?

 

 

 

 

8. In Mk 6:53-56, what do we know about the region of Gennesaret?

 

 

 

9. In Mk 6:53-56, people could interpret this as Jesus is just our meal ticket. Why did Jesus still do this, and what did he do to mitigate it?

 


Mark 7 – People More Concerned about Clean vs. Close

 

1. In Mk 7:2-5, what would be considered wrong with eating with unwashed hands?

 

 

 

2. In Mk 7:7-8, how do you know if a rule is from God or from man?

 

 

 

3. In Mk 7:7-8, are we not supposed to follow any rules from men?

 

 

 

4. In Mk 7:11 why was Corban bad, and how do some do similar things to their parents today?

 

 

 

5. In Mk 7:6-8, the Pharisees would be quite surprised by Jesus’ answer. How did the Pharisees, and others today, practice the art of self-deception?

 

 

 

6. In Mk 7:15, when Jesus said that nothing entering a man can defile him, was Jesus speaking something that was valid in Old Testament times, or a new teaching?

 

 

 

7. In Mk 7:18, why was Jesus surprised at their lack of understanding?

 

 

 

8. In Mk 7:18, since the disciples did not have the Holy Spirit until Pentecost, could they be expected to understand anything Jesus said?

 

 

 

9. In Mk 7:18-23, how did Jesus declare all foods clean?

 

 

 

10. In Mk 7:24-30, what are two reasons you think Jesus went to Tyre and Sidon?

 

 

11. In Mk 7:31-37, why did the people disobey Jesus and tell everyone?

 

 

12. In Mk 7, which is better, trying to live a clean, pure life, or trying to be close to Jesus?


Mark 8 – Three Types of Blindness

 

1. In Mk 8:10, where is Dalmanutha?

 

 

 

2. In Mk 8:11-12, why didn’t Jesus obey the Pharisees or at least humor them, by providing a sign from Heaven on demand?

 

 

 

3. In Mk 8:15, why is some bad teaching like yeast?

 

 

 

 

4. In Mk 8:17-21, what could be the significance of these numbers?

 

 

 

5. In Mk 8:23-25, why did Jesus appear heal the blind man in stages?

 

 

 

 

6. In Mk 8:24, why did the healed blind man initially see people as trees walking?

 

 

 

 

7. In Mk 8:26, why did Jesus tell them man to go straight home and not into the village?

 

 

 

 

8. In Mk 8:22-26, what are three types of spiritual blindness?

 

 

 

 

9. In Mk 8:38 the skeptic Bart Ehrman makes the point that Jesus does not explicitly identify Himself as the Son of Man (Jesus, Interrupted p.159).

 

 

 

 

10. In Mk 8:38, what does it mean that Jesus will be ashamed of those who were ashamed of Jesus in this life?


Mark 9:1-29 – The Transfiguration and the Desperate Father

 

1. In Mk 9:1-2, why do you think God had the transfiguration happen?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. In Mk 9:2, on what mountain did the transfiguration happened?

 

 

 

3. In Mk 9:7f, out of all the things God could have said only this one sentence was recorded. Why do you think this was so important for the disciples to know?

 

 

 

4. In Jn 9:14-16, how do we resist the temptation to stay on the mountaintop too long, when Jesus wants us to come down?

 

 

 

5. In Mk 9:24, why did the father say an oxymoron?

 

 

 

6. In Mk 9:24, what do you think God does with imperfect faith, like the father had?

 

 

 

7. In Mk 9:18,28-29, what does this say about the power of a Christian without faith?

 

 

8. In Mk 9:18,28-29, how do we take God’s power and wisdom for granted today?

 

 

9. In Mk 9:19, why do you think Jesus said, “O unbelieving generation” instead of “O unbelieving disciples”?

 

 

10. In Mk 9:25, most of the time Jesus just told an evil spirit to come out, but this time why did Jesus say both not to come out and do not enter in again?


Mark 9:30-50 – Fighting over Their Place

 

1. In Mk 9:33, why, at this moment, just after the great transfiguration, do you think the disciples argued about who was the greatest among them?

 

 

 

2. In Mk 9:33, how should we deal with a fellow believer who is trying to promote his own greatness?

 

 

 

3. In Mk 9:34, should the disciples have told Jesus why they were arguing, or should they have kept silent, like they did?

 

 

 

4. In Mk 9:35, what do you think about the phrase, “greatness comes through servanthood”?

 

 

 

5. In Mk 9:38-40, why did John and the other disciples forbid someone to cast out devils, and who was this guy?

 

 

 

6. In Mk 9:38-40, how do you handle someone who is doing God’s will, but is “unauthorized” by people?

 

 

7. In Mk 9:38-40 and other passages, how “real” is the devil and his influence? Does he put thoughts into your head?

 

 

 

8. In Mk 9:42, what do you think is so serious about causing the little children to sin?

 

 

 

9. In Mk 9:48, why would worms not die in Hell?

 

 

 

10. In Mk 9:49, what does “salted with fire” mean?

 

 

 

11. In Mk 9:49-50, how does “being salted with fire” relate to “losing its saltiness”?


Mark 10:1-31 – Divorce, Children, and the Rich Young Man

 

1. In Mk 10:1-2, why do you think the Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce here?

 

 

 

2. In Mk 10:1-2 and MT 19:3-9, what does Jesus teach about divorce?

 

 

 

3. In Mk 10:5, why would God through Moses permit some things because of the hardness of their hearts?

 

 

4. In Mk 10:13, why were the disciples rebuking people for bringing their little children to Jesus?

 

 

 

5. In Mk 10:13-15, why did Jesus want the children to come to Him?

 

 

 

6. In Mk 10:18 and Lk 18:19, was Jesus not “good” since He questioned the man calling Him good?

 

 

 

7. In Mk 10:18 and Lk 18:19 Jesus asks “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Since Jesus was not denying His own goodness or his deity, what was He saying?

 

 

 

8. In Mk 10:18 and Lk 18:19, was Jesus God, since none was good except God alone?

 

 

9. In Mk 10:19, why did Jesus only mention six of the Ten Commandments?

 

 

10. Does Mk 10:21-22, teach everyone to sell all their possessions, too?

 

 

11. In Mk 10:23-24, is it impossible for prosperous people to go to Jesus?

 

 

12. In Mk 10:30, how do we get all these things in this life?

 

 

13. In Mk 10:30, what is curious about one of these rewards?


Mark 10:32-52 – What Exactly Do You Want Jesus to Do For You?

 

1. In Mk 10:35-37, did James and John come to Jesus asking to sit on His right and left, or did their mother in Mt 20:20?

 

 

 

2. In Mk 10:38, what cup and baptism was Jesus talking about?

 

 

 

3. In Mk 10:38-40, since Jesus first told them the price of granting their request, and then [allegedly] denied their request, why did they still have to pay the price?

 

 

 

4. In Mk 10:45, was Jesus’ death on the cross a ransom for every single person, or for some people but not others?

 

 

 

5. In Mk 10:51, why did Jesus ask the blind man what he wanted Jesus to do for him?

 

 

 

6. In Mk 10:51, when a blind Jew could see what the Pharisees with sight could not, what other examples are there where more information can blind someone to what is obvious?

 

 

 

 

7. In Mk 10:52, why was it the man’s faith, and not Jesus’ faith, that made the man whole?

 

 

 

 

8. In Mk 10:52, why did Jesus say he was “made well” instead of merely that he could see?

 

 

 

 

9. In Mk 10:36,51 why do people want Jesus to do some things for them, but not others?

 


Mark 11 – Jubilation with Foreboding

 

1. In Mk 11:8-10, why did they put their coats and palm branches down before the donkey?

 

 

 

2. In Mk 11:8-10, how do you handle people who want to praise and serve God when you know they have very wrong preconceptions about Him?

 

 

 

3. In Mk 11:13, since it was not yet the time for figs was Jesus in the gospels ignorant of the season, as Ahmad Deedat asserts?

 

 

4. In Mk 11:13,23,30 since someone with faith could move mountains, why couldn’t Jesus have a fig tree with fruit?

 

 

5. In Mk 11:14, how do some people seem like they would be very helpful and fruitful, but in the end are useless?

 

 

6. In Mk 11:15-18 and Lk 19:45-46, why didn’t the Jewish authorities just arrest Jesus, a stranger with a whip, immediately?

 

 

7. In Mk 11:16, why wouldn’t Jesus let anyone carry any vessels (pots or containers) in the temple?

 

8. In Mk 11:17, how were the people in the temple acting as thieves?

 

 

 

9. In Mk 11:23, why did Jesus mention a faith that moves mountains?

 

 

10. In Mk 11:23 did Jesus promise to give us absolutely anything we ask for in faith?

 

 

11. In Mk 11:25-26, if a genuine Christian does not forgive, will he or she go to Hell?

 

 

12. In Mk 11:29-33, why did Jesus not directly answer the question about what authority He had?

 

 

13. In Mk 11:29-33, when should we not answer someone’s question, even when we know the answer?


Mark 12 – The Tenants Revolt

 

1. In Mk 12:1-9, what is the meaning of this parable?

 

 

2. In Mk 12:6, why would the tenants be expected to respect the landowner’s son?

 

 

 

3. In Mk 12:10-11 and Lk 20:17-18, why did the people/builders reject the cornerstone?

 

 

4. In Mk 12:13-17 and Lk 20:21-25, did Jesus not directly answer the question about paying taxes?

 

 

 

5. In Mk 12:19, Lk 20:27, and Acts 23:8, briefly what do we know about the Sadducees, also called Herodians?

 

 

6. In Mk 12:19 and Lk 20:27, what is all the biblical and extra-Biblical evidence we have about the Sadducees?

 

 

 

 

7. In Mk 12:19 and Lk 20:27, did the Sadducees totally reject all the Old Testament except the Torah, accept the rest of the Old Testament but on lesser authority, or accept everything as the Pharisees did?

 

 

 

8. In Mk 12:24, why did Jesus tell the Sadducees they did not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?

 

 

9. In Mk 12:24, what does it mean to not be far from the kingdom of God?

 

 

 

10. In Mk 12:29-31, how do these commands sum up the whole law?

 

 

11. In Mk 12:30, when Jesus referred to Dt 6:4, in loving God, why did Jesus add a fourth aspect of “mind”?

 

 

 

12. In Mk 12:30 should we try to bypass reason in order to be spiritual, as some Word-Faith teachers imply?

 

 

 

13. In Mk 12:34, what is unusual about them not asking Jesus any more questions?

 

 

 

14. In Mk 12:42, what does this tell us about Mark’s audience?

 

 

15. In Mk 12:42-44, since the scribes devoured widows’ houses, why didn’t Jesus stop the widow from putting in her two cents?

 


Mark 13 – The Olivet Discourse on the Endtimes

 

1. In Mk 13:1-2, what was so impressive about the temple?

 

 

 

2. In Mk 13:1-2, how can we tell when an impressive-looking organization or institution is useless to God?

 

 

 

3. In Mk 13:1-2, after Jesus came, and went, and the Jews as a nation rejected Him, the temple really did not serve any purpose of God’s anymore. When is it best for a formerly Christian institution to be taken down? What are some formerly Christian institutions?

 

 

 

4. In Mk 13:5-30 and Mt 24-25, when will these things be fulfilled?

 

 

 

5. In Mk 13:17 and Mt 24:19, why will it be so difficult for pregnant women and nursing mothers?

 

 

 

6. In Mk 13:22 and Mt 24:24, how can even the elect be deceived?

 

 

 

7. In Mk 13:30 and Mt 24:34, since “this generation” will not pass away until Jesus comes, how can this be? (The liberal humanitarian Albert Schweitzer raised this objection)

 

 

 

8. Do Mk 13:30 and Mt 24:34 mean that all these things will happen within one generation of 1914, as the Jehovah’s Witness Watchtower vol.15 February 1986 p.5 taught?

 

 

 

9. In Mk 13:34-37, why was Jesus so insistent that they keep watch?

 

 

 

10. In Mt 24:42 and Mk 13:35-37, when are Christians supposed to begin watching for the signs of Christ’s return?


Mark 14:1-31 – Final Anointing and the Lord’s Supper

 

1. Why do Mk 14:1-11, Mt 26:6-13, and Jn 12:1-11 differ significantly from Lk 7:36-50 in Jesus being anointed with oil?

 

 

2. In Mk 14:4-8, did they have a point; why did Jesus prefer the expensive ointment be poured on Him rather than be given to the poor?

 

 

3. In Mk 14:4-8, how do you feel when you believe you are doing God’s will, and other Christians criticize you?

 

 

4. In Mk 14:4-8, some thought this sacrifice of a year of wages was just a waste of money. What would you say to people today who thinking giving years of your life, and your money to the Lord, as a waste?

 

 

5. In Mk 14:4-8, how can doing good things sometimes get in the way of doing the best thing?

 

 

6. In Mk 14:13, in the hustle and bustle of the city, why would a man carrying a jar of water stand out?

 

7. In Mk 14:21, why would it have been better for Judas if Judas had never been born?

 

 

8. In Mk 14:21, we don’t know the primary reason why Judas decided to betray Jesus. When a person turns their back on another, what is the difference between doing it for greed, jealousy, or disappointment?

 

 

9. In Mk 14:22; Mt 26:26-28; and Lk 22:19, why are the bread and wine not Christ’s physical body?

 

10. In Mk 14:24 what is interesting about the word “covenant” here?

 

 

11. Does Mk 14:24 show that Christ died for all people?

 

 

12. In Mk 14:27, how would the disciples be offended at Jesus because Jesus did not defend Himself?

 

 

13. Mk 14:27-31, if a believer has sinned greatly and dishonored Jesus, especially in front of others, how do they get back?


Mark 14:32-72 – Gethsemane and Arrest

 

1. In Mk 14:42-52, does this depict a Jesus who was at their mercy in contrast to the other Gospels depicting Jesus as in charge, as some liberals say?

 

 

 

 

2. In Mk 14:51-52, who was that “un-masked man”, who fled away without his clothes?

 

 

 

3. In Mk 14:53-55, how did the Sanhedrin violate Jewish law here?

 

 

 

 

4. In Mk 14:62, did Jesus actually say He was the Messiah here?

 

 

 

 

5. In Mk 14:62, since Jesus would be sitting at the right hand of God the Father, how could He be coming, which implies movement?

 

 

 

 

6. In Mark 14:62 Jesus told the high priest he would see the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. But if the high priest died before Jesus returned, that would invalidate Jesus answer. So in Luke Jesus says “I am, and from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69) Jesus, Interrupted p.51

 

 

 

 

7. In Mk 14:65, why did some of the people ask Jesus to prophesy who hit him here?

 

 

 

 

8. In Mk 14:66-68, what kind of love can stand the “test of fear”?

 


Mark 15 – The Crucifixion

 

1. In Mk 15:1-20 both the Sanhedrin and Romans reject Jesus as the Messiah, but for very different reasons. What are different reasons people today reject Jesus as their Messiah?

 

 

 

 

2. In Mk 15:8-11, what is ironic about the people choosing Barabbas over Jesus?

 

 

 

 

3. In Mk 15:14, why was Mark apparently so eager to try to place the blame on the Jews, as one liberal claimed?

 

 

 

 

4. In Mk 15:17, what was the significance of clothing Jesus in purple?

 

 

 

 

5. In Mk 15:31, Jesus was mocked for claiming to save others while He was not saving Himself. How do you sometimes have to give up saving yourself to save others?

 

 

 

 

6. In Mk 15:31-32, how effective a tactic is it for Satan to have someone mocked for obeying God?

 

 

 

 

7. In Mk 15:32, we are told that Jesus was put on a “cross” to be crucified: Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

The word for “cross” here in Greek is stauros, which James Strong defined as:

(4716) from the base of 2476; a stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (specifically) a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment); figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial; by implication, the atonement of Christ: --cross.[1]

Yet in I Peter 2:24, we are told that Jesus was crucified on the “tree”:

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

The word for “tree” in Greek is xulon, and is defined by Strong as:

(3586) from another form of the base of 3582; timber (as fuel or material); by implication a stick, club or tree or other wooden article or substance: --staff, stocks, tree, wood.[2]

The error here is obvious. The Greek word stauros means definitively a “cross”. There is no double meaning employed to the word. Whereas the word xulon can be translated interchangeably as “wood”, “staff”, “tree”, etc. but in the case of I Peter 2:24, it is translated as “tree”. Now we need to ask why would the word xulon was used in the first place when there is a more definitive word for it, stauros, if the verse really intends to mean the “cross”?

It is therefore obvious that the word xulon is indeed used for “tree” in I Peter 2:24, and therefore there is a contradiction with Mark 15: 32.

References

[1] James Strong, The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Thomas Nelson, 1996)

[2] James Strong, Op. Cit. (A Muslim asked this)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. In Mk 15:33, what extra-Biblical evidence is there of “darkness was over the land” during Jesus’ crucifixion?

 

 

 

 

 

9. In Mk 15:44, why did Pilate marvel that Jesus was already dead?


Mark 16 – The Astonishment of the Resurrection

 

1. In Mk 16:1-8, Mt 28:1-8, Lk 24:1-11, Jn 20:1-12, what is the significance of the women seeing the empty tomb?

 

 

2. In Mt 28:1-8, Mk 16:1-8, Lk 24:1-10, and Jn 20:1-8, what happened when Jesus was resurrected?

 

 

3. In Mk 16, what are parallels with other parts of Gospels and Acts?

 

 

4. In Mk 16:4, Mt 28:2; Lk 24:2, was the stone just “rolled” away?

 

 

5. In Mk 16:8, since the women did not say anything to anyone, did they tell the disciples?

 

 

6. In Mk 16:12, how did Jesus appear in another form?

 

 

7. In Mk 16:16, Jesus says: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned”. So, man has no choice. Man must believe, otherwise he would be condemned and punished. Where is the human freedom of religion or freedom of faith for man? How does Jesus force people to believe or they will be damned?

 

8. Mark 16:17-18 says: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover”. And Paul put a list with these same abilities as the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:10; 12:8). Does this mean that these are the signs of true faith? Should all believers have these gifts throughout the days? Why we no more see these signs in Christians?

 

 

9. In Mk 16:18, does this mention of picking up serpents justify people in Appalachia who think some are supposed to handle snakes in worship?

 

 

10. Was Mk 16:9-20 written by Mark?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Should Mk 16:9-20 be considered scripture like the rest of Mark?


Mark 1:1-13 – Pre-Ministry Prep - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 1:1, what did Mark mean by the word Gospel (evangelion in Greek)?

A: The Good news was prominent in Isaiah 40:9; 41:27; 52:7; 61:1-3. Prior to the New Testament, after the Greeks fought in war, the residents of the city might want to get on their horses and flee, or else stay to prepare a victory celebration, depending on how the battle went. It would be important to know as quickly as possible. So after a battle the Greek army would dispatch a soldier to go back to the city as soon as possible and tell them how the battle went. For example, after the Greeks defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon, a soldier named Pheidippides went so quickly over the 26.2 miles back to Athens that he made his announcement and then collapsed and died from exhaustion. At the Olympics, the marathon was run in his honor. After that, the soldier would usually receive a small reward, called an evangelion, or “good news” award. Later that word was used for the good news about the battle itself. Since Mark was likely the first gospel written, Mark was the first to write the term evangelion or “gospel” as what he was writing. This might greatly change the way you look at Mark. Mark, was unusual in calling his writing something that nobody else prior to him ever said about their writing. Mark was basically saying he has a “gospel”, meaning a battle report. Jesus came to earth, battled Satan and the evil forces, and was victorious. Mark might seem more terse than the other writings about Jesus that also used that term, but Mark was first and foremost a battle report.

 

2. In Mk 1:2, does Mark add to Mal 3:1 here?

A: Mark paraphrased Malachi, right before he refers to Isaiah.

In the Masoretic text, Malachi 3:1 reads: “Behold I am sending My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me….” (Green’s Literal Translation)

In the Septuagint, Malachi 3:1 says: “Behold I send forth my messenger, and he shall survey the way before me…” (Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton)

Mark 1:2 says “Behold I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.” (Green’s Literal Translation) Note the addition of “before Your face” and “Your/You” instead of “my/Me”.

Two points to consider in the answer.

1. Mark changed the pronouns, which does not alter the meaning here.

2. Since “before me” is the last phrase, adding a “before your face” for repetitive emphasis does not change the meaning either.

See When Critics Ask p.370 for more info.

 

3. Does Mk 1:2 say “in the prophets” (KJV, NKJV, Green’s Literal Translation), or “in Isaiah the prophet” (NASB, uNASB, NIV, NRSV, Williams Translation, Wuest’s Expanded Translation)?

A: There is a manuscript variant here.

“In the prophets” is in the following manuscripts: Alexandrinus, Syriac, Bohairic Coptic, Armenian Ethiopic, Irenaeus, and other manuscripts. Most importantly, the Byzantine Lectionary says the same.

“In the Isaiah the prophet” or “In Isaiah the prophet” is in most other manuscripts, including Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Sahidic Coptic, Gothic, Bezae Cantabrigiensis, etc. mentions Isaiah. In the Greek New Testament (Aland et al. (3rd edition) gives this variation an uncertainty of “A”, meaning it is “the text is virtually certain” that Isaiah was mentioned.

   This is an interesting place where the Textus Receptus departs from the Byzantine family of texts, yet the KJV and NKJV go with the Textus Receptus.

 

4. In Mk 1:2, did Isaiah say all of this?

A: No, this is a listing of three prophecies (Exodus 23:20 (LXX), Malachi 3:1 (Masoretic), and Isaiah 40:3 (LXX)). The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.102 says this reflects a common practice of quoting several passages with a unifying theme. Each prophecy combines hopeful expectation of a forerunner with a warning if disobeyed. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.403-404 says the term for this practice is a “testimonia chain”. The New Geneva Study Bible p.1560 and The NIV Study Bible p.1493 also mention this.

   In stark contrast to Matthew, Mark only quotes Old Testament prophecy here.

 

5. In Mk 1:2, what are the differences between these Old Testament verses in the Masoretic text and the Septuagint (LXX) translation?

A: Mark 1:2 is a testimonia chain, (also called a conflation) of three verses.

Exodus 23:20 in the Masoretic text says, “Behold, I am about to send an angel before you to guard you in the way, and to bring you to the place which I have prepared.” The Septuagint translation (LXX) says, “And, behold, I send my angel before thy face, that he may bring thee into the land which I have prepared for thee.

Malachi 3:1 in the Masoretic text says, “clear the way”, while the Septuagint translation (LXX) says, “clear the way”

Isaiah 40:3 in the Masoretic text says, “him who cries … straight in the desert a highway”. The Septuagint translation (LXX) says, “one crying … straight the paths”

   The Hebrew translation is taken from Jay P. Green’s Literal Translation. The Septuagint rendering is from Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton’s translation of The Septuagint : Greek and English.

 

6. In Mk 1:4, what exactly is remission of sins?

A: Remission of sins is the same as forgiveness of sins. Prior to Jesus time, Israelites had repeated ritual washings for purification. Jerusalem had many “mikvahs” which were ceremonial basins for washing. The Jews also initiated one-time “baptisms” of Gentile converts to wash away their Gentile impurity. Water baptism is something we do as a sign of our salvation. It is also a pledge of a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21).

   See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.404-406 for a more extensive answer.

 

7. In Mk 1:4,9 and Lk 3:3, since baptism was for the forgiveness / remission of sins, why was Jesus baptized, since Jesus was sinless according to Hebrews 4:15; 2 Corinthians 2:5:21, John 8:46, and 1 Peter 1:19?

A: John the Baptist apparently had the same question in his mind when he asked Jesus why He was being baptized in Matthew 3:14. Jesus alluded to the answer in Matthew 3:15-16. Jesus did not say He Himself was baptized for forgiveness, but Jesus said it was to “fulfill all righteousness.” We are to follow Christ’s example, and Christ was baptized.

   See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.121 for more info.

 

8. In Mk 1:8, how does Jesus baptize with the Holy Spirit?

A: Four points to consider in the answer.

1. When a person repents and believers in Christ, they are regenerated in Christ and baptized with the Holy Spirit.

2. Then the Holy Spirit lives in them.

3. All Christians have the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:10,11,15)

4. Having the Holy Spirit occurs before water baptism, as Acts 10:44-48 shows.

 

9. In Mk 1:10, since the Holy Spirit immediately came out of Heaven in the form of a dove, does this show the Holy Spirit is not a person, as Jehovah’s Witnesses might think?

A: No. Having the ability to appear as a dove does nothing to restrict the intelligence, emotions, or other characteristics of the Holy Spirit. Similarly in the Old Testament, God appearing as a burning bush did not in any way lessen God. See When Cultists Ask p.134 for more info.

 

10. In Mk 1:12, why did the Holy Spirit send Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted?

A: Scripture does not say. Perhaps this had to be taken care of before Jesus could start His ministry. If you are a Christian, are there temptations you need to consistently be victorious over before God can use you in a greater way?

 


Mark 1:14-45 – The Contest Begins - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 1:14, is the “gospel of the kingdom of God” the same as the “gospel of Christ”?

A: Yes, except that at this time Jesus did not preach about His death, resurrection, and Second coming yet. So what Jesus was preaching here was a subset of His ultimate message.

 

2. In Mk 1:5, how could the kingdom of God be at hand?

A: The kingdom of God was near, is here in us, and will come.

Was near: Jesus is the king of kings, and where He is the kingdom of God can be said to be near.
Is here in us: The kingdom of God is within believers today. However, it has not appeared in any visible form on the earth. A person who believes in Christ has become a citizen of the kingdom of God.

Will come: The kingdom of God will not be realized visibly in this world until the Messiah comes again and sets up His kingdom on the earth.

 

3. In Mk 1:14-15, why did Mark start with the Galilean ministry, skipping the first Judean ministry in John 1:1-4:54?

A: Jesus started His ministry in Galilee. John 1:43-2:12 were in Galilee. John 2:13-4:3 was in Judea, and John 4:4-42 were in Samaria. Mark did not record those parts. While Mark does not say why, it could be that Mark was not with Jesus during the early ministry, and did not record what Peter said about it.

   As an aside, geographically Galilee was only 30 miles wide and 60 miles long. For comparison purposes, Galilee is slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island (37 miles wide by 48 miles long) and Luxembourg (35 miles wide and 57 miles long).

 

4. In Mk 1:16-18, how is winning disciples like fishing, as opposed to say hunting?

A: Both are an art. Both require patience, skill, discernment, persistence, and quietness. Quietness means putting yourself in the background and Christ in the foreground. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1320 for more info.

 

5. In Mk 1:24, why did the demons publicly recognize Jesus?

A: Scripture does not say. Perhaps they wanted to let out too early Jesus’ secret of being the Messiah, but that is not a very likely reason. It is more probable that they were hoping that if they recognized Jesus, He might leave the demons alone so that they could remain inside the people. Perhaps that was the demons’ rationale, or alternately, demons do not necessarily always act rationally.

 

6. In Mk 1:24-26, was there one demon or many inside the man?

A: It could be either way. Four points to consider in the answer.

1. When Mark 1:24 uses “we”, it could refer to multiple demons, one demon and the man, or multiple personalities in the man or one demon.

2. In Mark 1:25-26, Jesus only addressed the demon as one.

3. The demon could have just been one but misrepresented himself as many.

4. Nothing says a demon has to be an individual like an animal. Nothing in Scripture prohibits some demons from being like plants, or cells that divide, though scripture is silent on this speculation.

 

7. In the gospel of Mark we find Jesus keeping His Messianism secret, (Mk 1:24; 1:34; 5:34; 8:30; 9:9), but in the other gospels we find Him usually drawing the attention of people to Him openly as a Son of God, through His words or deeds. Why?

A: Early in His ministry to the Jews Jesus presented Himself as someone who did the works of God, then later as the Messiah, the Son of God. This initial secretiveness is not only in Mark, but also you don’t see anything about being the Messiah, or the Son of God in Matthew 5:1-11:24. After John the Baptist is killed, you see Jesus reveal more starting in Matthew 11:27. In Luke 6:5 Jesus asserted that He was Lord of the Sabbath, but did not go farther until the Father did the miracle of the transfiguration in Luke 9. Of course by the time Jesus asked Simon Peter who men said that Jesus was, Jesus became more direct.

 

8. In Mk 1:34, 3:11-12, Lk 4:34-35, and Lk 4:41, why did Jesus not allow the demons to speak?

A: All of these times were early in Jesus’ ministry. Mark 1:34 says it was because the demons knew who Jesus was. A man healed early in Jesus’ ministry was commanded not to tell anyone (Mark 1:44-45). When Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus commands the disciples at that time not to tell anyone (Matthew 16:20; Mark 8:30). Thus, the reason likely was that Jesus did not yet want it announced that He was the Messiah. He wanted the people to see His life, teaching, and miracles and have time to decide for themselves.

   See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.406-408 for more on why Jesus wanted this to be a secret at this time.

 

9. In Mk 1:37, since “all” sought Jesus, was every single person seeking Jesus?

A: Nearly every person within the immediate region was seeking Jesus for some reason. Unfortunately, that does not mean everyone was seeking salvation from Jesus. Many simply might have been seeking Jesus for the thrill of seeing a miracle.

 

10. In Mk 1:38, why didn’t Jesus stay in one place very long?

A: Apparently Jesus was not counting on repetition to draw people to Him. Once people had enough information to make a decision about Him, Jesus moved on to others who had not yet seen Him.

 

11. In Mk 1:40-41, what kind of doubt did the leper have?

A: The leper had no doubt that Jesus had God’s power to heal him, but the leper doubted if Jesus would want to heal him. Some skeptics today doubt God’s power. But others doubt God’s love or wanting to care for us.

   Jesus showed He personally cared for the man. According to the law, a person who touched a leper became unclean. Jesus did not just speak the leper’s healing, Jesus touched him.

 

12. In Mk 1:44-45, why did the man disobey Jesus and tell everyone about his healing?

A: Scripture does not say, but today we can see people who want the blessings and good things from Christianity, but who do not have any concept of obedience or responsibility. Outside of Christianity this might be more widespread. Some see the appeal of the New Age and some other spiritual movements as the promise of spirituality without any obligations.

   This was not a case of reverse psychology; Jesus did not want the man to tell other people this prematurely.

 

13. In Mk 1:40-44, was the leper good or not?

A: The leper changed. He was neither totally good or bad before or after the miracle, but he changed after the miracle. Before the miracles, the leper humbly came to ask Jesus in faith, believing in Christ’s power. However, the leper appeared to have doubts whether Jesus wanted to heal Him or not. Alternately, the leper gave Jesus a gracious way out, if Jesus did not want to heal Him now. After this great miracle, the leper felt like telling everyone. Normally one might think that a good thing. But Jesus asked the leper to obey in just one simple way: not telling everyone about this miracle, - at least not yet. The leper could not even obey doing this one simple thing.


Mark 2 – Conflict with the Religious: the Paralytic, Levi, and the Sabbath - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 2:4, how could they uncover the roof and lower the man down?

A: Common houses back then were typically made of thatch with dried mud and some wood. They only had to take out the thatch and dig through the dried mud.

   There are usually hindrances in bringing others to Jesus. This might have been embarrassing for both the paralytic and his friends, but they probably were not thinking about that, just that they wanted their friend healed. Would you be willing to go through the roof for a friend?

 

2. In Mk 2:7, why did the scribes conclude Jesus was blaspheming by saying the man’s sins were forgiven?

A: The Jews were conscious of the fact that for there to be forgiveness and restoration, the wrongdoer has to ask forgiveness of the one He wronged, and the one wronged has to grant it. When Jesus granted forgiveness, He was standing in the place of God. Just “sinning” would not be a wrong against Jesus Himself, - unless Jesus was God.

   In Mark 2:8-9, while it is equally easy to say one thing as another, it is equally impossible for a mere human to do one thing as the other. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1324 for more info.

 

3. In Mk 2:10 how would they think healing and forgiveness would be inter-related?

A: Forgiveness and healing were inter-related according to 2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 41:4; 103:3; 147:3; Isaiah 19:22; 38:16-17; Jeremiah 3:22; and Hosea 14:4.

Did Jesus have the authority to heal? Did Jesus really have the authority to forgive sins? And if so, what does that mean?

   See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.769 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.112 for more info.

 

4. In Mk 2:10, would it have been blasphemy for Jesus to say his sins were forgiven, if Jesus were not God?

A: -In this context, yes. However, Jesus later proclaimed God’s forgiveness for those who repent and turn to Christ, and we can proclaim in God’s name what He proclaimed. Thus, it is acceptable for either Protestants or priests to proclaim that a person’s sins are forgiven, since they are not saying they have the power themselves but are proclaiming what God has said. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.408-410 mentions that they would certainly be a hard saying in the minds of some of Jesus’ listeners. Sometimes God gives us hard sayings though, for us to digest and come to a new and greater realization of who He is. See also the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.119 for more info.

 

5. In Mk 2:15, did Jesus have His own home?

A: Three points to consider to in the answer.

1. Jesus’ mother lived somewhere, and Jesus’ “home base” was in Capernaum, so perhaps Jesus had a home there.

2. The word “his” here more likely refers to Levi, not Jesus, so this is talking about Levi’s house, not Jesus’.

3. Of course in a different sense, Jesus, as God, owns all the homes in the world. However, that is not the meaning of “his” home here.

 

6. In Mk 2:17, why did Jesus say He was not calling the righteous?

A: Jesus was not excluding a single person, as Romans 3:3-10,23-24 shows, since none were righteous. What Jesus meant here was that He was not saving those who thought they were so righteous they did not need a savior. The scribes’ purpose in bringing this up was to ruin Jesus’ reputation. But Jesus told them they were the ones on the outside looking in.

   See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.410-411 for more info.

 

7. In Mk 2:18-20, why were Jesus’ disciples not fasting?

A: Many Jews fasted as a matter of custom and tradition, not out of devotion to God, and the disciples had no need to fast for that reason. Christians still fast today, to focus their prayers, and as another way to express their sorrow or earnestness of their request to God.

   On a lighter note, you can look at any Christian that needs to lose a few pounds of weight, and see a person that has such wonderful potential to express his prayers by fasting.

   Seriously, Christians also fast to help themselves draw closer to God. Jesus was not against fasting, but since the disciples were already with Jesus, they did not need to fast for that purpose at this time.

 

8. In Mk 2:21-22 and Mt 9:16-17, what is the meaning of the two parables of the cloths and wineskins?

A: The Pharisees said they should follow the tradition of fasting at this time, while Jesus was saying the gospel was a fundamentally new thing.

Externally, sometimes new things cannot be patched on to old things, because the old cannot stand it.

Internally, sometimes new contents cannot be contained by old forms, without breaking the old forms.

Specifically in regard to the Gospel, you cannot just patch it on to what you already know about the Old Testament; it is not just a rephrasing of what is in the Old Testament, but a “mystery” that was only hinted at until Christ came.

By the way, there is some uncertainty whether the “old” in these two parables was the Old Testament, or the Old Testament plus the traditions of the Pharisees tacked on. Regardless of what Jewish or other religious traditions a person might have, the Good News is not something you can just tack on to any pre-existing tradition. Finally, keep your hearts pliable towards God; He might want to show you new things you do not expect.

 

9. In Mk 2:22, how do organizations become like old wineskins and lose their ability to stretch to new things?

A: When they confuse the goals with the objectives. While the objectives might originally be good to match the goal, the objectives can become outdated, or more important objectives can appear. Then they still follow the original objectives for the sake of tradition, or to follow the process. Even with fresh, good objectives though, good objectives in a good process cannot cover all the cases. When organizations and people lose the flexibility to adapt, and lose the ability to compromise on things that don’t matter, then they can lose their usefulness. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1325 for more info.

 

10. In Mk 2:23-24, what would be considered wrong with plucking grain?

A: The Old Testament not say anything was wrong with this. However, the Pharisees considered any gathering of grain, no matter how small, to be reaping. Since reaping grain was work, they forbade that on a Sabbath.

 

11. In Mk 2:26, was this in the days of Abiathar, or his father Ahimelech?

A: The skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.909 claims this is a “factual error”, but he is wrong here. Both Abiathar and Ahimelech were alive then, though Abiathar’s father Ahimelech was killed shortly thereafter. According to the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.362, the Greek here, epi Abiathar archiereos, simply means “in the time of Abiathar the high priest”. Abiathar was not only alive then, he was present when this occurred. This expression is like saying “in the time of David, the ruler of Israel”, even though David became ruler of Israel later.

   In summary, it was during the time of Abiathar, who later was a high priest. As When Critics Ask p.370 concludes, “it was during the time of Abiathar, but not during his tenure in office.”


Mark 3 – Conflict over Lawful Evil, and Agreement among Demons - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 3:6, what is so hypocritical about the Pharisees and Herodians (aka Sadducees) here?

A: One can be “lawful” and still be evil (Some criminal defense lawyers know about that.) The Jews had laws against killing animals on the Sabbath, but since there was not written law against plotting on the Sabbath to kill their Messiah, apparently they thought that was OK. This is early in Jesus’ ministry, and even if they would not accept Jesus as their Messiah, they were plotting to kill a man, who from their perspective, had broken no law deserving death.

   The Pharisees had stubborn hearts in the sense that they chose to be unteachable. Many times today people are unteachable. Sometimes it is not by choice, but sometimes it is.

   Since King Herod had executed John the Baptist, they might have been hoping they could persuade Herod to do the same with Jesus.

 

2. In Mk 3:14,19, since Jesus appointed twelve disciples, how come one of them, Judas Iscariot, later betrayed Jesus?

A: Acts 2:23 says that Jesus was handed over to death through the determined purpose of foreknowledge of God. It was Judas’ choice to betray Jesus, but Judas was put in a position to exercise his choice.

   Many people might have felt betrayed by Jesus in John 13:21. They could interpret his miracles and claims as that he had the power to drive out the Romans, yet he chose not to try to do so. If you think that God is there to serve your purposes, sooner or later you probably will feel betrayed by God too, that is until you realize we are here to serve His purposes, and not the other way around.

 

3. In Mk 3:6, why wouldn’t Jesus accept true testimony about Him, when it was from demons? Is there testimony today that God does not accept?

A: There are a couple of points to the answer.

Demons co-opting the message: When people would hear the demons praising Jesus, then it would appear that they were on His side. After Jesus left, the people might still be willing to listen to those demons, because after all, they were praising Jesus. Paul exorcised a demon from a girl in Acts 16:16-19 for a similar reason. Today leaders of cults often verbally honor Jesus, but then teach things showing that disbelieve what Jesus taught and commanded.

God knows the heart: Jesus never received the witness of demons. As for people, 1 Samuel 16:7 says that people look upon the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. God is less concerned with the sounds we utter than our heart in making those sounds. Today some can praise God in pretense, but not sincerely.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1327 for more info.

 

4. In Mk 3:14-19, why did Jesus want to have twelve disciples?

A: We don’t know for certain, but we can see at least three reasons.

So that they could learn by being with Him closely.

That Jesus might send them out to preach

That they would have the power to heal the sick and cast out demons.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1327 for more info.

 

5. In Mk 3:14-19, why do you think Jesus did not choose any experts in scripture or people who already preached?

A: Of the twelve disciples, four were fishermen, one was a tax collector, and one was a zealot. Six others we don’t know about. But as far as the world was concerned, they all seemed to be ordinary men. It is not who you are when you come to Christ that is important; rather it is who Christ makes you to be that is important.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.643 for more info.

 

6. In Mk 3:17, how does the word “boanerges” mean sons of thunder?

A: They were given this nickname because of their hot temper. The skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.909 says that boanerges is a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic benai regesh, which means sons of anger. However, regesh to nerges is not very close. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.116 says this was a Hebrew idiom.

 

7. In Mk 3:14-19, what happened to the apostles?

A: Here is what is recorded in the work On the Twelve Apostles ANF vol.5 p.254-255. It says, “Peter preached the Gospel in Pontus, and Galatia and Cappadocia [all in Asia Minor], and Betania and Italy, and Asia and was afterwards crucified by Nero in Rome with his head downward as he had himself desired to suffer in that manner.

   Andrew preached to the Scythians [in Russia] and Thracians, and was crucified, suspended on an olive tree at Patrae, a town of Achaia [in Greece]; and there too he was buried.

   John, again in Asia was banished by Domitian the King to the isle of Patmos in which he also wrote his Gospel and saw the apocalyptic vision; and in Trajan’s time he fell asleep at Ephesus where his remains were sought for, but could not be found.

   James his brother when preaching in Judea, was cut off with the sword by Herod the tetrarch, and was buried there. Eusebius 2:9 says beheaded.

   Philip preached in Phrygia [in Asia Minor] and was crucified in Hierapolis with his head downward in the time of Domitian, and was buried there.

   Bartholomew again preached to the Indians, to whom he also gave the Gospel according to Matthew, and was crucified with his head downward and was buried in Albanum, a town of the great Armenia.

   And Matthew wrote the Gospel in the Hebrew tongue and published it at Jerusalem, and fell asleep at Hierees a town of Parthia [Iran]. Papias (95-110 A.D.) also records that Matthew was written in Hebrew.

   And Thomas preached to the Parthians, Medes Persians Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Margians (Magi?) [all in Iran and Afghanistan, and the former Soviet Republics], and was thrust through in the four members of his body with a pine spear at Calamene, the city of India and was buried there.

   And James the son of Alphaeus when preaching in Jerusalem, was stoned to death by the Jews and was buried there beside the temple. Josh McDowell says crucified.

   Jude, who is also called Lebbaeus preached to the people of Edessa, and to all Mesopotamia, and fell asleep at Berytus, and was buried there. Josh McDowell says killed by arrows.

   Simon the Zealot, the son of Cleopas, who is also called Jude, became the bishop of Jerusalem after James the Just (Lord’s brother), and fell asleep and was buried there at the age of 120 years. Josh McDowell says crucified.

   And Matthias, who was one of the seventy, was numbered along with the eleven apostles, and preached in Jerusalem, and fell asleep and was buried there.

   And Paul entered into the apostleship a year after the assumption of Christ; and beginning at Jerusalem, he advanced as far as Illyricum, and Italy, and Spain, preaching the Gospel for thirty-five years. And in the time of Nero he was beheaded at Rome and was buried there.”

   In addition, According to legend the apostle Thomas visited northern India under Gondophares and preached there. Gondophares reigned from c.19 A.D. to 45 A.D.

 

8. In Mk 3:22, who is Beelzebub?

A: Beelzebub or Baalzebub was the “Lord of the Flies” worshipped in Ekron and mentioned in 2 Kings 1:2.. Metaphorically it could also be thought of as “Lord of dung”, or “Lord of filth” according to the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1329

   On the other hand, Baalzebul means “Lord of the dwelling place (temple)”. Some New Testament manuscripts have that.

 

9. In Mk 3:27 what or who are Satan’s possessions here?

A: There are people trapped in bondage to Satan. Nobody like people messing with what they think is theirs, and Satan does not like it either. But we are to take what Satan thinks is his and bring them to God.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.645 for more info.

 

10. In Mk 3:31-35, why did Jesus mention his mother, brothers, and sisters here?

A: Jesus undoubtedly loved and valued His family, but His family did not take priority over following God and Jesus’ ministry. His family traveled about 30 miles from Nazareth to Capernaum to take Jesus back, but Jesus was not going to go with them. We should have the proper attitude also. We must obey our parents in the lord, but there are times we are to disobey our parents’ direct command or go against their implied wishes, if what they want is not God’s will.

 

11. In Mk 3:31-35, was Jesus sinning by not honoring His mother here?

A: No, because they were not asking Jesus to stop in the middle of his preaching to come see them at that moment, and Jesus knew God the Father wanted Him to preach now. Jesus’ family thought Jesus was out of His mind in Mark 3:20-21. Hypothetically speaking, if His mother had asked Jesus to stop preaching permanently, Jesus would have to disobey this (hypothetical) command to obey God’s command.

 

12. In Mk 3:31-35, why wasn’t Joseph here?

A: Scripture does not say. However, church tradition says that Joseph was much older than Mary and may have died by then.


Mark 4:1-34 – Parables of Growth - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 4:10-20, why did Jesus only explain the meaning of these parables to the twelve disciples?

A: Scripture does not say why the crowds did not hear every explanation, but Jesus especially wanted his disciples not to misunderstand. Of course, anyone in the crowd who wanted to could become Jesus’ disciple and be taught by Jesus and the Twelve too.

   This is sort of the way things are today too. Everyone can hear something about the Gospel, but if they really want to understand fully, they need to study God’s Word and learn with other Christians.

   See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.417-419 for a different but complementary answer.

 

2. In Mk 4:11-12, why would Jesus deliberately obscure the gospel by speaking in parables so that people would not understand, turn, and be forgiven? Did he not come that all men might be saved? (Ahmad Deedat brought this up.)

A: Jesus was referring to Isaiah 6:9,10. Jesus spoke in parables to be merciful! Here are four points to the answer.

1) God wants all to be saved (2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 17:23).

2) But some have chosen to reject God’s word and there are consequences for that in this life. These kind of people become hardened in their hearing, hardening their hearts (Exodus 8:15,32; 9:17,34;Pr28:14; Romans 1:18-20; Hebrews 3:12-15; Zechariah 7:12).

3) For people who reject God, it is better for them not to know truth than to know the truth and turn their backs on it, according to 2 Peter 2:20-22.

4) A parable is appropriate because those who want to follow God can be guided to know its meaning, and a parable will be not be understood by those who do not want to follow God.

   If someone has already rejected the truth they know of God, God is not obligated to give them more truth.

 

3. In Mk 4:14-20 and Lk 8:5-15, in the parable of the sower, how are people like the four soils?

A: Here are a few examples.

1. Some never care for the Gospel to begin with. Satan was working so that the Gospel cannot sink in the hard soil in the first place. Some people are very opposed to Christianity. Others are not, but as I have heard, “will come to the Bible study if I have nothing better to do.” As the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1330 says, “There is such a thing as hearing the gospel for the last time. IT is possible to sin away the day of grace. Men do drift beyond redemption point. There are men and women who have refused the Savior and who will never again have the opportunity to repent and be forgiven. They may hear the gospel but it falls on hardened ears and an insensible heart.”

2. Some want to accept the Gospel at first, but they fall away in trouble or persecution.

3. Some people grow in the Gospel, but they are choked out by the cares of this life, or the temptations of their society. Materialism, watching immorality and violence, and alcoholism are some of the greater “thorns” to watch for in western Society.

4. Some both respond and persevere. Of these, differing ones deliver varying fruits. In those times a yield of 10 to 1 was considered very good, according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.118.

 

4. In Mk 4:14-20, in the parable, wasn’t the sower too careless with the seed?

A: Careless no, liberal with the seed yes. There is no “fifth kind” of soil that would have been fruitful except that the sower forgot to sow there. The truth is, that no soil could give the excuse that “I would have been a fruitful soil, but I can blame the sower for not putting seed on me.” One could accuse the sower was “too generous with the seed”, giving every soil a chance even though it would be a lost cause. However, no one can rightfully accuse the sower of being too stingy with the seed.

 

5. In Mk 4:22, what kinds of things will later be manifested?

A: Every deed, good and bad, will be manifested on judgment day. For every idle word that we speak, we will have to give account, according to Matthew 12:36-37. God is a judge of character, and someone once said that character is who you are when you think nobody is looking.

 

6. In Mk 4:21-25, Mt 5:14-16; Lk 18:16-17. how are we supposed to “shine” today?

A: Once we come to Christ, we still remain on the earth as witnesses of God’s love shining through us, that people could see Christ through our words, actions, and lives. We are a letter from Christ to the world in 2 Corinthians 3:3. In fact, we might be the only letter that some people will read. In 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 compares the glory that shines in us today as more glorious than the gory that shined though Moses such that he had to put a veil on his face. So that light needs to shine forth from us as 2 Corinthians 4:6 says. We are to shine like stars in the black sky of the world, as Philippians 2:15-16 says.

 

7. In Mk 4:21-25, what are some things, like the basket, that steal, hide, or quench light?

A: There are two kinds of “backets”.

Most of the time the “basket” that hides light is what believers themselves choose to put over their light. They don’t want to tell people that they are a Christian, or they don’t want to share about their life and what Jesus has done in it. A simple small step, to get over that is to share with another Christian, and people can overhear that.

Sometimes though, there is a backset put on us by society, and we just passively go along with that. When evil is praised, and good things, and good people are demeaned, should we just keep silent? Or, at appropriate times and in appropriate ways, should we speak out, defend the oppressed, help those who need support?

 

8. In Mk 4:24, Lk 6:38, and other verses, what does it mean that the measure you use/give will be the measure you receive?

A: All of these verses say in effect “use it or lose it”, but they are three applications.

Mark 4:24 emphasizes that the more of God’s wisdom and gifts you use, the more will be given to you. If you do not use what little you have, even that will be taken from you.

Luke 6:38 is similar, but it emphasizes what you give to others, whether it be good things, or forgiveness and mercy, as Luke 6:37 mentions.

Matthew 18:35; 6:12 teach that God will forgive us as we forgive others. The measure of mercy and forgiveness we give others shows what we will get.

In summary: some aspects of God’s judgment at the end, and blessing during this life, are absolute and constant for all. Some aspects depend on the knowledge a person has (Romans 4:15; 5:13; 2 Peter 2:21-22, etc.). Some aspects of what a person gets depend on what they give others.

 

9. In Mk 4:26 what is the point of this parable?

A: This is the only parable found only in the book of Mark. Neither the person sowing the seed, and the soil receiving the seed perceive what is happening as the seed is growing. They only see the result and the benefit.

   There was a little boy one time who planted a pea seed in a cup of dirt. He watered it and gave it sun, but the pea plant never came up. He did not understand why. Every day he pulled out the seed to see how it was doing. Sometimes we focus too much on results we can see immediately, we might miss out on the more important things.

 

10. In Mk 4:31, why does it say the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, since smaller seeds exist?

A: Mustard seeds are extremely small; about 725-760 of them weigh a gram. However, they are not the smallest plant seed that exists in the world. They were the smallest seed that people sowed in the field, and they were the smallest seed that people at that time knew about. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.121 for more info.

 

11. In Mk 4:32, why is the mustard plant the largest of all herbs, since there are larger herbs?

A: Jesus was not trying to give a botany lesson here. Jesus was speaking for the benefit of his audience, and Jesus spoke in terms they would appreciate. The mustard plant was the largest of all plants that they recognized as herbs.

 

12. In Mk 4:33, as the birds good or bad here?

A: While the birds were bad in Mark 4:4, they are neutral here. They represent people that benefit from the branches of the tree, without doing any work to put the tree there.

   Some would see the birds probably as Gentiles as the New International Bible Commentary p.1162 suggests.

   Others would see the birds as “bystanders”. As Vance Havner said, “As long as the church wore scars, they made headway. When they began to wear medals, the cause languished. It was a greater day for the church when Christians were fed to the lions than when they bought season tickets and set in the grandstand.” (Quoted from the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1331 from J. Oswald Sanders in Spiritual Maturity p.110.)

 

13. In Mk 4:34, why did Jesus teach everything in parables?

A: By using this particular form of teaching, Jesus could teach those who wanted to learn, and keep it hidden from those who did not want to follow Him.

 


Mark 4:35-5:14 – How do you deal with opposition? - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 4:38, how could Jesus be asleep in the ship during a storm?

A: Jesus might be tired after all of His preaching. In addition, perhaps the Father especially wanted Jesus to be in a deep sleep at this time, in order to demonstrate to the disciples their need to ask.

 

2. In Mk 4:38f, why is this question so off-base?

A: Jesus cared more that they would live more than they themselves did. But they interpreted Jesus’ easy restfulness as unconcern. Jesus could sleep; He said they were going to the other side, and they were going to the other side. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.773-774 for more info.

 

3. In Mk 4:39, how could the wind cease so suddenly?

A: Wind is the result of differences in pressure between two areas. While wind can stop suddenly naturally, this passage indicates the wind ceasing was a miracle. The term translated into English as “be still” (pephimoso in Greek) is more precisely translated as “be muzzled” as in Mark 1:25. It is a technical term to dispossess a demon of his power according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.122 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.656.

 

4. In Mk 4:39 squalls were quite dangerous, and the fishermen knew they were in real danger, if it weren’t for the person they were sitting with. In the storms we encounter in life, how can we be sure we are “in the boat” with Jesus?

A: There are two aspects.

Get in his band: First of all, make sure we are really following Jesus in where He is leading us, and not just asking Jesus to assist us in where we ourselves want to go. When God closes a door, you can try hard to reopen it, and sometimes successfully. But the end result will not be success but rather failure.

Let Him in our boat: Second, don’t just invite Jesus into your life, but invite Jesus into every aspect of your life. Are there things in your life that you have not turned over to God, but rather told God, “that’s OK, I’ll handle this part myself.” There are things in life where God wants you to study different alternatives yourself, and learn to make good decisions. But just as your children sometimes make bad (hopefully small) decision, and learn from their mistakes, your heavenly father can let you make bad decisions and learn from them. But let God have an opportunity to speak to your and cheerfully let Him overrule your decisions.

 

5. In Mk 4:39, Jesus dealt with the disciples who questioned Him here, and the demons and people who opposed him in very different ways. How should we deal with people who question or oppose us in different ways?

A: Here are six steps to consider.

Step 1: Before we deal with anyone else, we first have to deal with ourselves and any pride we might have. Some people think that any criticism of their actions or decisions is an attack on them personally. They don’t understand in a war the concept of the loyal opposition”. Some people think they always have to make the correct decision, and if they ever did not, they are afraid that someone might find out that they made a mistake. Make sure you are OK with letting people see that you make mistakes before you even try to deal with others. Finally listen carefully. Sometimes a person talking to you is wrong, and you should NOT follow their advice, but in the middle of their wrong suggestion might be a grain of truth that you should still consider. Be able to look for that.

Step 2: Realize that not everyone you talk with has done step 1 themselves. Try to discern if they will view every criticism has a personal attack on them. When you speak, validate them, emphasize the action or decision that they did wrong, and what to do about it now.

Step 3: When people give you advice that you know should not be followed, politely explain why you are not going to follow it, at least as much as they let you talk. Don’t let what you know as good be spoken of as evil, as Romans 14:16 says.

Step 4: When people give you advice that you should follow, then be quick to agree, thank them for educating or helping you, and then follow it. There is no need to argue over what you know is right, just to save face. If the person making the good suggestion is a child, or in a lower position than you; it does not matter. If it is good advice, follow it anyway.

Step 5: When you don’t think the advice is particularly good or particularly bad, be willing to compromise. If they feel strongly about it, consider how much harm or damage it would do if you just went along on what to you is an unimportant matter. This is especially useful in marriage.

Step 6: When the person is in a position over you, such as a boss, government official, or your husband, and their command or advice is not good, then it can be difficult. First try to explain to them the merits of the other alternative. But if they still will not listen to you, it might be because you are mistaken, or you would be correct, except you don’t know something that they know. On the other hand, they might be foolishly making a decision here. After you have warned them, as is (usually) your duty, sometimes you have to go along.

   

6. In Mk 5:3-4, how could this demon-possessed man be so strong that he could break chains and fetters?

A: Even people who are not demon-possessed have been known to perform great feats of strength under stressful, life and death situations. I heard of an alarm for an imminent chemical plant explosion (which thankfully did not occur), and one chemical operator jumped over an eight-foot high chain link fence. When he went back to the plant, he looked at that fence in wonder, as he almost did not believe what he had done.

   I also have heard of a woman, when a parked car was about to crush her kid, who picked up a corner of the car.

 

7. In Mk 5:6, why was a demon-possessed man running to Jesus to worship Him?

A: While scripture does not say, here is one speculation. If the demon thought that Jesus was coming for him, and that he could not escape, perhaps he wanted to run to Jesus first to beg Jesus to spare him. The demon knew Jesus was coming, and in desperation he paid homage to Jesus asking to spare tormenting him, even though the demon was tormenting the man.

   As a side note, while the previous story demonstrated Jesus power over nature being used by demons, this illustrates Jesus’ power over demons directly.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.657-658 for more info.

 

8. In Mk 5:9 and Lk 8:30, why was the demon’s name “Legion”?

A: A Roman legion was around 5,000 to 6,000 soldiers. In other words, this man did not have one problem with a demon, he had 5,000 or 6,000 problems with demons. God does not care how many problems we have, the Lord can solve them all.

   One can wonder whether each demon that currently exists had an independent existence from the Garden of Eden or not. Perhaps demons could multiply (sort of like germs) either outside of or in the fertile ground of a person. This is just speculation, though.

 

9. In Mk 5:10-14 and Lk 8:32, why did Jesus appear to “make a deal” with the demons?

A: While Jesus had the latitude to do so, Scripture does not actually say that He did anything more than give them permission. Jesus did not necessarily do the demons any favor; the pigs drowned.

 

10. In Mk 5:10-14, should Christians ever make deals with demons today?

A: No, there is no evidence that we should. We do not have the knowledge that Jesus had. Given that demons see in another dimension besides our own, they may be more intelligent, and there are no guarantees of them being honest or trustworthy, there does not seem to be any compelling need to even speak with any demon, except to command them to be bound or to leave.


Mark 5:15-43 – Jesus has Power over Demons and Death - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 5:12 and Lk 8:30-33, why did the demons want to go into the pigs?

A: Scripture only gives us the briefest glimpse of the thinking in a demon’s mind. Apparently, they reasoned that entering into the pigs was preferable to going in the abyss at this time.

   Scripture does not say whether the demons deliberately caused the pigs to drown, accidentally caused the pigs to drown, or whether they even knew the pigs would drown. Finally, scripture does not say whether the demons and Satan are completely sane or sometimes crazy.

 

2. In Mk 5:13, what should everyone know about demon possession from this event?

A: An aim of demons possessing someone is to destroy their hosts, whether it be pigs or people. People who have claimed to communicate with demons often had shorter lives. If someone is playing around with the occult, or more serious about it, you need to ask them why? Do they regularly put poison in their blood? If they don’t want to do that, then why would they want to converse with demons, who would kill them just as they killed a pig.

 

3. In Mk 5:13, why did Jesus allegedly destroy 2000 pigs to heal one man? (Ahmad Deedat brought this up.)

A: Two points to consider in the answer.

a) I assume Deedat would agree we are worth more than many pigs. Humans, whether in Saudi Arabia, India, or the west kill many animals all the time for food. These pigs, raised by the non-Jews leaving on the east side of the Sea of Galilee, were raised for food, as unlike sheep or milk cows, there is no other purpose for raising pigs.

b) The demons, not Jesus, killed the pigs. When the legion of demons left the man, they went into the pigs, and that resulted in the pigs’ drowning.

c) It is surprising to me that Deedat would feign sympathy for these pigs, when the Qur’an tells of a prophet of God, wiser than Moses, who just walked up to a little boy and broke his neck, killing him. (No, the boy was not raised or anything after that; the boy just stayed dead.) This is in Sura 18:63-82. In the hadiths Bukhari vol.1 book 3 no.124 p.92 expands on the story of al-Khidr. Abu Dawud vol.3 no.4688-4690 p.1319  rationalizes this by saying the boy whom al-Khidr killed was born an infidel. So is being a little boy who did not believe in God enough to get your neck broken in a Muslim’s eyes?

 

4. In Mk 5:17 and Lk 8:37, why did the multitude ask Jesus to leave?

A: These people clearly saw the goodness and power of Jesus, and yet they still asked Him to leave them. They were raising pigs, for which there would be no market among God’s people who followed God’s law.

   One misconception is that people have to change themselves before they come to Christ. They don’t, because they can’t on their own. Jesus will change them. However, what if they don’t want to be changed? Then they won’t want to come to the real Jesus.

    Today, a common response of thoroughly wicked people seeing the goodness and pure love of God is to try to make it go away. This is especially true for those who spiritually “sell pigs” today. But these people were different; they did not seem to have anything against Jesus personally (unlike the scribes and Pharisees). Rather, Jesus, interesting and powerful though He was, was too costly a guest for their current lifestyle.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1333 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary p.659 for more info.

 

5. In Mk 5:18-20, why didn’t Jesus allow the man to accompany Him?

A: Jesus undoubtedly could see that the unpossessed man staying among those who knew him would be a greater ministry than a now-normal Gentile going to Jews who did know him and had already seen Jesus’ miracles.

   Today we naturally may have a tendency to want to do the more “showy” ministries, but God may have a greater purpose for us in sending us somewhere else or keeping us where we are. Rather than ask why God will not put you in a ministry somewhere else, you should ask instead how you can be more effective where you are.

 

6. In Mk 5:27-34, when the woman with the flow of blood touched Jesus, why did Jesus publicly ask who touched Him?

A: There are two possible answers.

1. Since Jesus took upon himself some limiting human qualities, such as not being all-knowing, when He came to earth, Jesus genuinely did not know who had been miraculously healed by touching Him.

2. Regardless of whether Jesus knew who it was, Jesus wanted her to come forward. There was some unfinished business here, namely that Jesus wanted to talk with her and pronounce that her faith had healed her, and to go in peace and be freed from her suffering.

 

7. In Mk 5:30-33, since Jesus could know what was in a person, why did Jesus ask her?

A: Jesus asked for her sake, not for his. He wanted to give her help, but He wanted her to request it first.

 

8. In Mk 5:35 and Lk 8:49, why did they say not to trouble Jesus once the daughter of Jairus died?

A: While Jesus could heal the sick, they probably thought that not even Jesus could raise the dead.

 

9. In Mk 5:39 and Lk 8:52-53, why did Jesus say that Jairus’ daughter was not dead, but sleeping?

A: There are two possible answers.

Coma: Perhaps the daughter really was not dead, just in a coma near death. Scripture does not actually say that she was dead. Rather Luke 8:49 says the others said she was dead, Luke 8:53 says they “knew” she was dead, and Luke 8:55 says that her spirit “came again”. However, the next answer is more likely.

Death: She actually was dead. However, death is considered a final physical state, and Jesus’ used the metaphor that she was just sleeping, because He knew that He was going to raise her.

 

10. In Mk 5:41 and Lk 8:54, why did Jesus say, “Maid arise”?

A: If Jesus had simply said “arise”, perhaps all the dead would have risen. It would not do for Jesus to say “arise”, and have all the dead rise, and then Jesus to follow that by saying, “on second thought…”

 

11. In Mk 5:42 and Lk 8:56, why did Jesus tell the girl’s parents not to tell anyone about this miracle?

A: The issue here might be timing; perhaps Jesus did not want that miracle told while He was in town. People certainly would find out eventually, but Jesus did not want any more people trying to follow him “just for the show”.

 

12. In Mk 5:41; 7:34, why is Mark explaining Aramaic expressions to his readers?

A: The Gospel of Mark was written in Greek, and while many people in Palestine could speak both, Mark anticipated that many of his Greek readers could not understand Aramaic terms. In contrast to this, Papias says that the Gospel of Matthew was first written down in Hebrew. However see The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.11-12 for ambiguity on this statement.

   The skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.911 has a helpful comment here. Asimov says the style of Mark seems closer to Aramaic than even Matthew. “In fact, part of the imperfection of the Greek of this gospel seems to be that it contains numerous Aramaic forms of expression, literally translated, as though Mark were writing in Greek, but thinking in Aramaic.”

 

13. In Mk 5:41, did Jesus speak Aramaic or Greek?

A: Jesus certainly spoke Aramaic, as evidenced by His Aramaic expressions. However, many in Galilee and Decapolis spoke both but were more comfortable with Greek. Since Jesus was from there, it was likely that Jesus addressed people in both languages.

Here are specific Aramaic expressions recorded

A1. “Sons of thunder” Mark 3:17

A2. “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” Mark 5:41

A3. “be opened / be completely opened” (ephphatha) Mark 7:34

A4. “empty-head” Matthew 5:22

A5. “Abba, Father” Mark 14:36

A6. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34

A7. “whether he would heal on the Sabbath so that they might find an accusation against him” (Luke 6:7) is Greek with peculiar grammar (a dependent complementary infinitive) that might suggest an Aramaic nuance, according to A Wandering Aramean p.12-13.

Jesus spoke Hebrew in Paul’s vision in Acts 26:13-15.

Here are four things indicating that Jesus used Greek too.

G1. Matthew 16:15-18 (Petros, Petra)

G2. The names Philip and Andrew were Greek. The name Bartimaeus is an Aramaic-Greek hybrid, according to the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels p.316.

G3. When Jesus went north out of Palestine into Tyre and spoke with the Syro-Phoenician woman in Mark 7:24-29 it is extremely likely she spoke only Greek.

G4. Finally, it would be hard to believe that with at least three Gospels originally written in Greek, and Paul and others writing letters in Greek, that Jesus would not know the language that even Galilean fishermen knew.

The skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.911 also discusses the Aramaic expressions of Jesus.

 


Mark 6:1-29 – Taking Jesus for Granted - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 6:1-6, why did many in Jesus’ hometown not believe in Him?

A: Some did believe. However, many people had a problem thinking that someone who was once a child, growing up near where they grew up, could be great, much less the Messiah. There were two ways people took Jesus for granted. Some who did not know Jesus well thought that not much could come from that town. But others, like His mother and brothers at that time, were very close to Him and still took Jesus for granted. After the resurrection they changed though.

   Joseph was not mentioned here and it is thought that this is because he presumably had already passed away.

 

2. In Mk 6:1-6, what are some ways people take Jesus for granted today, without outright rejecting Him?

A:  Non-believers and believers can both take Jesus for granted.

By the way, the Greek word here, tekton, means carpenter, but it can mean someone who works in stone or metal as well as wood. So one could also translate this as builder. See the New International Bible Commentary p.1163 for more info.

   Non-believers can take Jesus for granted by knowing that He was always there. When they get tired of living the life they have, then they think they can always turn to Him. But we don’t know when our life will end, and we actually don’t know for sure if we will even have tomorrow.

   Believers, who have already given their life over to Christ, can take Jesus for granted too. Their love can grow cold, and they can know that they can always repent and come back to Him. But again, we actually don’t know for sure if we will even have tomorrow. The best time to get right with God is right now.

 

3. In Mk 6:3, how could you encourage people not to take Jesus for granted?

A: Pray for them, and try to get them to take a fresh look at Jesus. Consider what he endured for our sake (Hebrews 12:2-3). Consider why Jesus wanted to do it in the middle of Hebrews 12:2. Finally, “keep your eyes on the prize” and remember the goal of being with Jesus in Heaven forever.

 

4. In Mk 6:5, does Jesus not being able to do any miracles prove He is not God, as Jehovah’s Witnesses claim in Reasoning from the Scriptures p.150 (1989)?

A: No. Two points to consider in the answer.

On earth, Jesus voluntarily emptied Himself by taking the form of a slave, as Philippians 2:6-7 says. Jesus experienced obedience, suffering, and physical pain while on earth.

Choosing not to do a miracle is different from being physically unable to do a miracle. Regardless of the emptying of Jesus, God the Father could have chosen to have a miracle done, but given their lack of faith did not choose to do so.

   See also When Cultists Ask p.134-135 and When Critics Ask p.371 for more info.

 

5. In Mk 6:5, why was Jesus not able to do any mighty miracles in His hometown?

A: Since the people, on the whole, refused to believe in a hometown boy, doing a miracle would not increase their faith. This also could be an act of mercy on Jesus’ part. 2 Peter 2:21-22 says it is better for someone to not know the way of truth, then to know it and turn their back on it.

 

6. In Mk 6:8-9, why could the disciples not take a bag, bread or copper [money] in their belts?

A: Simply because our Lord commanded them not to do so. We can speculate that He wanted them to depend on God and others, and not on their financial resources.

 

7. In Mk 6:10 and Lk 9:4-5, why were they not to go to multiple houses in one town?

A: Jesus did not say, but we can see a number of practical reasons for not going to multiple houses.

1. There was a greater chance of people being offended, misunderstood, or contention among people for who got to keep the guests.

2. It would be a distraction for the people, not to mention the disciples, to always keep worrying about where to stay.

 

8. In Mk 6:11, if you lived back then, and you had a prophecy of what Judas Iscariot would do, should you take Judas into your house?

A: Yes, if you knew that was what Jesus wanted you to do. They most important factor to ask in any decision is, “what would Jesus want you to do?”

 

9. In Mk 6:17-18, why was it not lawful for Herod Antipas to have his brother’s wife?

A: John knew his Old Testament well. Herod’s marrying his brother’s wife while his brother was still living was contrary to Leviticus 18:16; 20:21.

 

10. In Mk 6:20, how did Herod Antipas fear and respect John, since Herod later killed John?

A: Given John’s commitment to give up an easy life for a life of living in the wilderness, and John’s boldness to preach the truth no matter the cost, Herod had genuine respect for John. However great Herod’s respect, his rash oath to his adopted daughter and his fear of being known as one who broke his oath, was stronger than his respect and his desire to do what was right, as Mark 6:22-28 shows.

   Josephus says that John was imprisoned in Machaerus, a fort south of Perea, east of the Dead See. (Antiquities of the Jews book 18 ch.5.2). (See the New International Bible Commentary p.1164 for more info.

   As strange as it sounds, some people’s desire not to break their word, and their desire to appear righteous is greater than their desire to actually be righteous.

 

11. In Mt 14:6-10, Mk 6:21, and Gen 40:20-22, since Herod had John the Baptist killed on Herod’s birthday, and Pharaoh had the chief baker killed on Pharaoh’s birthday, do these verses imply we should not celebrate birthdays, as Jehovah’s Witnesses say in Reasoning from Scriptures p.68-69 (1989)?

A: No. It was Herod and Pharaoh who were evil, not the birthday. The occasion itself was neither good nor bad. The fact that both of these things happened indoors does not imply we should never be inside, either. See When Cultists Ask p.20 and p.110 for more info.

 

12. In Mk 6:14-29, while Herod did not really reject John the Baptist, how is Herod taking John the Baptist for granted different from others taking Jesus for granted?

A: Herod had a love/hate relationship with John the Baptist. He hated John to be free outside criticizing him and possibly stirring up trouble. On the other hand, he liked talking with John the Baptist, and Herod liked that he could have this potential troublemaker locked up and under his control. He liked having John the Baptist, or rather he liked having John the Baptist right where he could control him. Some today like Jesus, like learning about Jesus, don’t like that Jesus makes demands on their life, and wants them under Christ’s control.

 

13. In Mk 6:14-29, why do some people, like Herod here, do evil things they know they don’t want to do?

A: Herod was in a conundrum. He enjoyed keeping John alive as a prisoner. But on the other hand, he did not want to publicly appear to go back on his word in front of his guests. Herod killed many people as king, and killing yet one more person probably did not seem so serious to him.

   It is honorable to keep your word, but some believe is that it is always honorable to keep your word above all else. Herod did not want to do anything that appeared dishonorable. Jephthah might have felt the same way when he did the evil thing of killing his daughter in order to keep his word.


Mark 6:30-56 – A Banquet in the Wilderness - God takes, and blesses, breaks, and multiplies and heals - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 6:30-34, why did they need to rest, and was it essential?

A: The disciples were so busy they did not even have time to eat. They needed time not just to eat, but would want time to relax and unwind.

   However, their need to relax was subordinate to the crowds who followed them. Since the grass was green, this mean it occurred in late winter or early spring. This miracle would not have happened if the disciples had stayed with the plan and just rested, as the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1336 tells us.

 

2. In Mk 6:30-32, what is the place of rest in the Christian life?

A: Sometimes God wants us to take time that could otherwise be used for ministry to relax and draw near to Him.

   However, this does not justify luxurious vacations for Christian leaders, as the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1335-1336 reminds us.

 

3. In Mk 6:38 and Mk 8:5, why before each of the two feedings did Jesus ask how much food was available?

A: In retrospect, how much food Jesus started with did not seem relevant. Jesus could have fed all of them from one crumb, if He had desired. Rather Jesus wanted them to see that the food was not enough to feed everyone, there was more food at the end than the beginning, and the use of the significant numbers 12 and 7 simply show that the amounts involved were not just random chance.

   These loaves were small; one could eat a few entire loaves in one meal according to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.763. The neighboring villages of Capernaum and Bethsaida had only 2,000 to 3,000 people, according to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.675. Thus it would have been hard for surrounding villages to feed all of those people.

 

4. In Mk 6:38, why did Jesus command the impossible?

A: When Jesus commanded the disciples to feed the crowd, in the Greek the emphasis is on the word you (plural). It certainly would not be the last time God commanded somebody to do something that was impossible by human power, but all things are possible with God’s power.

 

5. In Mk 6:38-44, what spiritual lesson is there for us about the loaves?

A: The source of this miracle was Jesus, who is the Bread of Life. The original loaves, before they were blessed by God and before they were broken, were not sufficient for the need at hand. But it was all they had, and God took them anyway. But with God’s blessings, they were broken. And with their blessing and brokenness not only did they meet the need at hand, but there were even leftovers. And not only were there leftovers, but there was even more than they started with. God did not feed these people directly, rather God gave the food to His people, the disciples, to feed them. There was more than enough for all, but they did not waste, because they collected the leftovers.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1336 for more info.

 

6. In Mk 6:48, why was Jesus about to pass them by?

A: Jesus, walking on water was making better time than the disciples rowing against the wind. Nevertheless Jesus was not walking toward the boat, but walking to pass them by, until they called out to Him.

   Today Jesus and God’s blessings might be coming towards us, but they are going to pass us by, unless we call out to God for Him to come to us, not just by us. Do we live our lives such that we don’t want to be too far from God, or do we live that we want to be as close as possible to Him.

   See the New International Bible Commentary p.1164 for more info.

 

7. In Mk 6:52, how can a believer’s heart be hardened?

A: In this case they did not understand what they should have understood. They were not open to understanding. Similarly, believers today, while still following Christ, can be closed to learning and doing certain things.

 

8. In Mk 6:53-56, what do we know about the region of Gennesaret?

Unlike the previous remote places, Gennesaret was very fertile ground on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, and thus fairly heavily populated, according to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.676. There were several mineral springs in the area, and invalids came there for comfort and hope. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.132 for more info.

 

9. In Mk 6:53-56, people could interpret this as Jesus is just our meal ticket. Why did Jesus still do this, and what did he do to mitigate it?

A: Many came not primarily to follow Jesus, or even learn from His teaching. They came for what Jesus could do for them. Jesus wanted to demonstrate who He was, but perhaps one reason Jesus moved on so much was so that after demonstrating who He was, we would leave those who were just after food or a healing. However, they still followed where He went.

  Today church leaders have to be careful of those who come to church just for a meal or what it can do for them. Their motivation could perhaps change to have better motivation later. But church leaders need to balance showing love with just being taken advantage of.


Mark 7 –Clean vs. Close - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 7:2-5, what would be considered wrong with eating with unwashed hands?

A: The Pharisees extended the Old Testament concept of clean and unclean to many areas. That was fine, but when they equated their opinions with God’s word, that is when the clash with Jesus occurred. 1 Corinthians 4:6 and Proverbs 30:5-6 show that it is wrong to go beyond God’s word. Actually the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1337 says we don’t know whether they washed their hands or not; it simply means that they did not wash their hands according to the way of tradition. This included washing up to the elbows.

   This was only oral tradition in Jesus’ time, but around 200 to 300 A.D. the many traditions were written down in the Jewish Mishnah. Not only Jesus, but the Sadducees also rejected the Pharisees’ tradition according to the New International Bible Commentary p.1165.

 

2. In Mk 7:7-8, how do you know if a rule is from God or from man?

A: If you do not read God’s Scripture for yourself, it can be very difficult to know.

   A Catholic named Paul, who was a genuine Christian, was in a small group Bible study I led one year. I thought it curious He would often bring up very basic things and ask me if they were from the Bible. (Most of the time they were.) Later, he told me why he was asking all those questions. He said that he had learned those things growing up in a Catholic school, and they did not differentiate between what the Catholic Church taught, and what God taught in the Bible.

   When a Christian teacher, from any group, fails to differentiate between God’s word and their teaching that is beyond God’s word, they elevate the importance of their teaching at the expense of their disciples wondering which things God really said. Both 1 Corinthians 4:6 and Proverbs 30:5-6 caution all Christians not to add to God’s word. Perhaps this is part of the reason for greater strictness in judgment that teachers have, according to James 3:1-2.

 

3. In Mk 7:7-8, are we not supposed to follow any rules from men?

A: Certainly not, as Romans 13:1 and 1 Peter 2:13-18 shows, we are to obey human authorities. Rather Mark 7:10-14 shows that Jesus was firmly opposed to disobeying God’s laws in order to keep man’s laws.

 

4. In Mk 7:11 why was Corban bad, and how do some do similar things to their parents today?

A: Corban means that it was devoted to God, presumably to be offered in the Temple. However, it did NOT necessarily mean that it would be given to the Temple. The person could still use it for themselves according to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.678-679 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1337.

   If someone donates a lot of money to God but still provides for their family, including his parents, that is fine. But if someone fails to provide for their family, when they could have, Paul says they are worse than an unbeliever in 1 Timothy 5:8. Even most unbelievers will provide for their own family.

 

5. In Mk 7:6-8, the Pharisees would be quite surprised by Jesus’ answer. How did the Pharisees, and others today, practice the art of self-deception?

A: Self-deception is too easy for people to do today, and in multiple ways. It can be unintentional or intentional, it can be seeing things that are not really there, not seeing things that are there, and denying what you really see. Sometimes when people first deceive others, and not themselves, they eventually start to believe what they originally knew was a lie.

  There was a study where participants were asked to watch a video and try to count how many times someone bounced a basketball. The video showed a party with people talking, and one person in front dribbling a basketball. At one point someone in a gorilla suit walked through the middle of the party. After the video, the participants were asked to give their number and if they saw anything unusual while they were watching the video. All of them said no. Their eyes were so focused on the basketball, they never even saw the person in a gorilla suit walking though the party!

   Sometimes self-deception is more deliberate. When a person decided what is true based on what they want to be true, then they will totally ignore, or at least downplay evidence to the contrary. One summer I was on a mission trip to Utah to witness to Mormons. About half the Christians in the group were ex-Mormon, and half (including myself) were not. If was fascinating to ask the ex-Mormons questions about when they were Mormon. One question was: “how could you sleep at night, with all of these many contradictions in Mormonism?” He answered that as a Mormon he could sleep just fine. Yes, he knew of some of these contradictions, and he knew he could not answer them but that did not bother him because he thought there was someone in the Mormon church who could. As a Mormon, he eventually learned that no one could answer those contradictions, and later he left.

   The Pharisees suffered from what is called “cognitive dissonance”. They “knew” they alone were the teachers of Israel, and that they were not mistaken. But here was this guy, Jesus who was bursting their worldview by teaching with authority and doing miracles which only someone from God could do. This great tension could only be gotten rid of by being able to exposing Jesus as a fraud, realizing their previous “certainty” was wrong, - or else getting rid of what was causing the tension and having Jesus killed.

 

6. In Mk 7:15, when Jesus said that nothing entering a man can defile him, was Jesus speaking something that was valid in Old Testament times, or a new teaching?

A: Jesus did not invalidate the Old Testament dietary commands, He superseded them. There are four points to consider here.

1. While Jesus and His disciples sometimes broke the man-made traditions of the Pharisees, they themselves lived in obedience to the Old Testament Law.

2. Even under the Old Testament, God was concerned with their obedience, and their diet was just one way, but not the only way, for them to demonstrate their obedience.

3. After Jesus’ resurrection launched a new period, the disciples did not choose to eat all kinds of meat. An angel of God came down and instructed a reluctant Peter to eat in Acts 10:11-16. Who was Peter to argue with an angel from Heaven?

4. Muslims should not have any problem with this answer, as Mohammed allegedly did the same thing. He spoke of abrogated laws, (though abrogation is a little different concept from the New Covenant through Jesus). Also, he showed that Muslims could eat camel meat, and the Old Testament views camel meat just like pig meat (Leviticus 11:4,7,26; Deuteronomy 14:7,8).

 

7. In Mk 7:18, why was Jesus surprised at their lack of understanding?

A: These were not the crowds, but Jesus’ own disciples who did not understand. Jesus had thought they would figure out by now that in the New Kingdom it was not the external food that counted, but what was inside a person.

 

8. In Mk 7:18, since the disciples did not have the Holy Spirit until Pentecost, could they be expected to understand anything Jesus said?

A: Sometimes people misunderstand what the Holy Spirit does and does not do. They Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, and enlightens us to truth, but people can still see some truth apart from the Holy Spirit.

 

9. In Mk 7:18-23, how did Jesus declare all foods clean?

A: First what is not the answer and then the answer.

Not the answer: Many forbidden foods in the Old Testament were the food of scavengers (like pigs and shellfish) and Carnivores. Those would have more diseases and parasites, if not cooked well, than the foods they could eat. But that misses the point. They point was that God gave them laws to follow and they could please or displease God by following His commands or not.

The Answer: Jesus, being God incarnate, decreed that now all foods were pronounced clean. This was reiterated to Peter in Acts 10:11-16. Paul also spoke on this in Colossians 2:16. A key point is that Jesus did not declare “everything” clean; He only declared all foods that go into our body are clean. The evil things that can come out of our heart were never clean and still are not.

 

10. In Mk 7:24-30, what are two reasons you think Jesus went to Tyre and Sidon?

A: The first might be to have some time away from the crowds. A second reason might be to seek out the Gentile woman who had faith and humility. Tyre was very far from Galilee culturally, but geographically it was only 30 miles north of Galilee, 40 miles northwest of Capernaum. Sidon was about 20 miles north of Tyre. So it was far enough to get away, but not too distant. In Mark 7:29. This is an example of healing at a distance.

   It is curious that the unclean Gentile girl get cleansed of the unclean demon, while the “clean” Pharisees remained unclean. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.779 for more info.

 

11. In Mk 7:31-37, why did the people disobey Jesus and tell everyone?

A: There is a difference between being there for Jesus and just being there for the miracle. They never said they would follow or obey Jesus, they were just there to “enjoy the show”.

   Note that the deaf and dumb man could not hear Jesus praying, but that did not affect his healing in any way. Having bystanders who were not too interested in obeying Jesus did not hurt anything either.

   Today many people come to church to “enjoy the show” or to meet nice people. We generally should not question the motives for coming, but hopefully they (and we) will have more pure motives for coming to church and worshipping with other believers.

 

12. In Mk 7, which is better, trying to live a clean, pure life, or trying to be close to Jesus?

A: We really want both. But if a believer is living a clean life but wants to stay far from Jesus, they will not become more Christlike. On the other hand, if a believer is in sin, but wants to repent and draw close to Jesus, then they will become more pure and Christlike.


Mark 8 – Three Types of Blindness - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 8:10, where is Dalmanutha?

A: This would be southwest of the Sea of Galilee. For a long time scholars did not have the exact location. However, The NIV Study Bible p.1508 mentions that a cave was found south of the Plain of Gennesaret with the name “Talmanutha”.

 

2. In Mk 8:11-12, why didn’t Jesus obey the Pharisees or at least humor them, by providing a sign from Heaven on demand?

A: This was shortly after Jesus had fed the 4,000. What would another miracle here prove to the Pharisees? They had not wanted to go out to hear Jesus, but would have heard of this miracle. The NIV Study Bible p.1509 makes the interesting distinction that their request did not come from belief, but rather it was initiated from unbelief. The Pharisees seemed to assume that Jesus had to answer all their questions. But Jesus was not beholden to them to prove anything. Jesus is in effect telling them, “You won’t be seeing a sign on demand, you have already seen and heard.”

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1340 for more info.

 

3. In Mk 8:15, why is some bad teaching like yeast?

A: It just takes a pinch of yeast, the right environment (dough) and a little time, and it has changed the entire environment. Political correctness is an attempt to keep the environment from being changed (or being changed back), by defining certainly views or topics as “out of bounds”. If you want to learn about God, you have to follow the Pharisees. That was a given that everyone understood. In later times, if you want to follow God, you have to follow whatever the priest says. While Biblical Christians have been accused of having a “paper pope” and just following a Book, actually we are just wanting to follow God and the words He gave us. Any mere human religious figure, even a good one, and any creed or council, even a good one, is still no substitute for God and His word.

 

4. In Mk 8:17-21, what could be the significance of these numbers?

A: Jesus had just taught warned them about the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the disciples were ignoring what he was saying; they were focused on a lack of bread. So Jesus met them where they were at, and what they were focused on. He asks them what the numbers were: five loaves to twelve “lunch baskets” among the Gentiles. seven loaves to seven “hampers” in Israel. There are two complementary answers.

In general, Jesus was pointing out that they ended up with more leftovers than they started with. So they don’t have to worry about Jesus being unable to supply bread.

Specifically, seven is often a symbol of completeness, or completeness in God in the Bible. While the number twelve in the Bible often refers to the twelve tribes it does not do so here. There would be twelve apostles, and the apostles were for all the nations. The five and 12 were simply different numbers than the 7 and 7, and the lunch baskets and hampers were different sized containers, showing these to be separate events, and showing that Jesus was the provider of salvation for both Jews and Gentiles.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.690 for more info.

 

5. In Mk 8:23-25, why did Jesus appear heal the blind man in stages?

A: Scripture does not say. Perhaps the man had more than one problem, or perhaps there is a deeper lesson for us. As the man’s physical blindness was healed in stages, sometimes a person’s spiritual blindness is healed in stages too.

   Just like the man was partially blind until the end, some people spiritually can be partially blind too. They see some things correctly, and they assume they see all things correctly, not knowing they are still partially blind. For example, some saw Jesus as a prophet, but not as the Messiah. Some today see Jesus as Savior, but not as Lord. Some see God as love, but not justice and wrath too.

 

6. In Mk 8:24, why did the healed blind man initially see people as trees walking?

A: Perhaps the man’s optic nerves did not receive the light clearly. There could have been multiple reasons for the blindness, between the pupil, iris, cornea, and optic nerve.

   Alternately, the man might have had perfect sight initially, but the man’s brain was not trained to process the patterns. People’s brains actually receive an upside-down image of the world. Our brains train themselves to flip the image. In a Moody Science film, a man was given a special pair of goggles that flipped the image upside-down. After wearing them for long enough, the man’s brain adjusted perfectly, and he had no problem walking or coping - at least until the goggles were removed, when the man’s brain had to retrain itself again.

See http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/4146.asp for some interesting modern-day examples of people being able to physically see but still not able to initially recognize things.

 

7. In Mk 8:26, why did Jesus tell them man to go straight home and not into the village?

A: Scripture does not say, but apparently the man and his family were from a different town or else lived outside of town. But Jesus was very explicit here. First Jesus led the blind man outside of town, without healing him yet. Then Jesus healed him in stages, and then Jesus specifically commanded the man not go back into the village.

   The New International Bible Commentary p.1166 speculates that it was proper for the man to tell his relatives first, rather than the relatives first hear it from someone else. Alternately Jesus did not want the Pharisees in the town to see it, since he had just told them in Mark 8:11 that they would not see a sign from Jesus. Or, there might have been other people whom Jesus did not want to observe the miracle. Finally, Jesus might not have wanted some people to see the healing in stages.

 

8. In Mk 8:22-26, what are three types of spiritual blindness?

A: The man was blind, and later partially blind physically, but the disciples were still partially blind spiritually.

Unintentional: People can be physically blind in that they were born that way as in John 9:1-2, became totally blind later, or are partially blind. Spiritually, many non-believers are blind in that they are ignorant of the light and truth of Christ.

Intentional: Scoffers and stubborn unbelievers reject Christ because they refuse to see the truth they have already been given. The Pharisees were not stupid, they were adept at finding objections and reasons to choose not to see. Just like an able-bodied person can’t park their car in a handicapped spot and then put on a blindfold, there is a difference between intentional and unintentional blindness.

Believers: Even believers, who have turned over their lives to Jesus, can be partially blind to truth. Here even the disciples could not see.

   See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.780-781 for more info.

 

9. In Mk 8:38 the skeptic Bart Ehrman makes the point that Jesus does not explicitly identify Himself as the Son of Man (Jesus, Interrupted p.159).

A: Jesus did not have to here. He identified Himself as the Son of Man in Mark 2:5-12. Jesus said in Mark 2:8a-12, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up, take your stretcher, and walk’? But so that you many know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralytic – ‘I tell you, stand up, take your stretcher, and go home.’ And immediately the man stood up, took his stretcher, and went out in front of them all. They were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’”. (NET Bible). Jesus used the term 81 times in the Gospels. Why would Ehrman think it significant that Jesus did not spell it out again in this place?

 

10. In Mk 8:38, what does it mean that Jesus will be ashamed of those who were ashamed of Jesus in this life?

A: Interpreters have two views here.

1. The elect believers who are ashamed of Jesus will suffer reproach when they get to Heaven. This is the view of the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1341. Some Christians truly believe, but they have bought too much into the world to stand up for Jesus, or to share the Gospel.

2. So-called Christians who are ashamed of Jesus will find that they will not go to Heaven at all. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.141-142 and The NIV Study Bible p.1510 hold this view. 2 Timothy 2:12 also says that if we deny Christ Jesus, He will deny us. Some people refuse to accept Jesus for various emotional reasons. Judas apparently was disappointed that Jesus was not going to take any military action at this time. Some claim that people are so good they do not need saving, or that it is “too primitive” to say that we need a sacrifice for us. Others do not want someone to look down from Heaven to judge what they do.

Of course both are likely true, because Jesus did not specify that “degree of shame” in this verse. It is a serious thing to believe in Jesus, deny him, and repent (as Peter did), but an even more serious thing to never have yielded your life over to Him in the first place.


Mark 9:1-29 – The Transfiguration and the Desperate Father - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 9:1-2, why do you think God had the transfiguration happen?

A: First note that until Jesus’ death no one knew about this except the disciples. So this did not help anyone else, at least not until Jesus’ death and resurrection. While scripture does not say why this happened, we can see at least six reasons.

1) It would strengthen the faith of the disciples. The disciples would catch a glimpse of Jesus’ ultimate glory.

2) It would be an encouragement to Jesus Himself, before going to the cross. Perhaps Elijah and Moses also told Jesus some things that were necessary.

3) To fulfill prophecy: Malachi 4:5-6 says that Malachi would come before the great day of the Lord. While John the Baptist was in the spirit and power of Elijah, Elijah physically came himself in the transfiguration.

4) Two witnesses, Moses, and Elijah, came to be with Jesus, at least for a short time. Elijah never died (2 Kings 2:11), and while Moses died his body was never found (Deuteronomy 34:6). There will be two witnesses right be Jesus’ second coming in Revelation 11, and this might be a foreshadowing of that.

5) For those of us living after the resurrection, it would reinforce that God was in control and knew all along what would happen with the crucifixion and resurrection.

6) Finally, it fulfilled the prophecy Jesus gave in Mark 9:1

 

2. In Mk 9:2, on what mountain did the transfiguration happened?

A: Scripture does not specify but here is what we know. First of all, Mount Tabor is only 1,843 feet about sea level (about 18 football fields), so it does not qualify as a high mountain. It was ten miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee and not near Caesarea Philippi. Also, at that time there was a Roman fortress on top of it.

Mount Hermon, over 9,000 feet high, is the highest mountain in the region, and it could have happened there.

Mount Meron / Jebel Jermaq, west of the Sea of Galilee, is 3,926/3,962 feet high, and W. Liefield has suggested that.

   See New Dimensions in New Testament Study. ed. R.N. Longenecker and M.C. Tenney (1974) p.167 in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.698-700 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1167 for more info.

 

3. In Mk 9:7f, out of all the things God could have said only this one sentence was recorded. Why do you think this was so important for the disciples to know?

A: Christianity is not primarily about laws, doctrine, or ministry service. While those things are present, they are not the main thing. The main thing is not our experience, fellowship, or prayer either. The one main thing is loving Jesus. But believers can forget that. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:2-3, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (NKJV)

 

4. In Jn 9:14-16, how do we resist the temptation to stay on the mountaintop too long, when Jesus wants us to come down?

A: Remember that it is not about us, our learning knowledge and experience, it is about God. God wants us to serve others. At the bema-seat judgment Jesus is not going to ask us how much we learned, or what we experienced, but rather what did we do and how did we live. A mountaintop experience is good to anchor us, grow us, and refresh us, for spiritual battle for people’s hearts and minds in this world. A coach on a team has little use for a talented player who refuses to compete.

 

5. In Mk 9:24, why did the father say an oxymoron?

A: An oxymoron is a figure of speech of using contradictory statements or imagery to express a complex truth. The father had conflicting feelings inside him. He said, “I believe” because he truly believed, but he also said “help my unbelief” because he knew that he had genuine doubts too.

   We too should be honest about our feelings before God. God is big enough to handle our doubts, and when we bring our feelings out in the light by confessing them to Him, God can more easily take care of what we admit to Him.

 

6. In Mk 9:24, what do you think God does with imperfect faith, like the father had?

A: God used the faith of the boy’s father; an imperfect but an honest, genuine faith. That is better than a hypocritical, dishonest appearance of faith. Be honest about your faith in God, so that He can grow it, refine it, and take away the dross that does not belong.

 

7. In Mk 9:18,28-29, what does this say about the power of a Christian without faith?

A: At this time the disciples knew more about God than any other mortal on earth. The disciples had personal encounters with Jesus every day. The disciples (at least all but one) all believed and practiced what they believed. They had faith, but they did not have a strong enough faith to cast out this demon.

 

8. In Mk 9:18,28-29, how do we take God’s power and wisdom for granted today?

A: Non-believers can take safety, peace, health, and prosperity for granted as things they feel entitled to. Even some believers can think they will have no hard times because they are Christians. Taking God’s gifts for granted is the opposite of gratitude.

 

9. In Mk 9:19, why do you think Jesus said, “O unbelieving generation” instead of “O unbelieving disciples”?

A: Jesus saw that the disciples’ unbelief was reflective of the society they were raised in. To some extent, even as believers, our beliefs and faith are shaped by our generation, i.e. our culture and society. As believers we need to humbly and candidly recognize that, and strive to transcend and break free from that.

 

10. In Mk 9:25, most of the time Jesus just told an evil spirit to come out, but this time why did Jesus say both not to come out and do not enter in again?

A: In Luke 11:24-26 Jesus said that when an evil spirit comes out of a person it can try to return with seven others. Thus, it is important when a demon-possessed person is free from bondage, they turn to Christ so that the demons do not return in greater force.


Mark 9:30-50 – Fighting over Their Place - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 9:33, why, at this moment, just after the great transfiguration, do you think the disciples argued about who was the greatest among them?

A: On the surface this sounds ridiculous. Right after the great privilege were graciously given to see this great thing, instead of going and saying how great Jesus was, they were arguing over how great they were. Instead of it being all about Jesus, and how they can serve to glorify Jesus, it was using Jesus to be all about them.

   This picture is ludicrous. Certainly if someone wanted to paint a rosy, whitewashed picture of Jesus’ saintly disciples, they certainly would have left this out! This just looks bad. But after believing Jesus, seeing the miracles, and seeing the transfiguration, this was what they were still like. Jesus’ patience with them is amazing.

 

2. In Mk 9:33, how should we deal with a fellow believer who is trying to promote his own greatness?

A: Don’t have hard feelings towards them, but pray for them, yearning for them to repent of that. We should not write him off as a secret unbeliever, or a fallen, never to be recovered apostate, as Jesus did not write off the disciples. They should be warned for their own sakes, and their influence to encourage others to do the same should be minimized.

 

3. In Mk 9:34, should the disciples have told Jesus why they were arguing, or should they have kept silent, like they did?

A: They probably kept silent out of embarrassment or shame. God knows what we think and say, whether we confess it or not, but it is better to tell Him what is on our heart, even if it is rotten or proud. That way God can clean it up all that much more quickly if you are willing to acknowledge it.

 

4. In Mk 9:35, what do you think about the phrase, “greatness comes through servanthood”?

A: It is not totally true. First you have to be serving the right one. Not serving your ambition, not serving the church, but your primary service should be to God. Second, you have to serve with the right motives. But understanding these caveats, then this is fairly correct.

 

5. In Mk 9:38-40, why did John and the other disciples forbid someone to cast out devils, and who was this guy?

A: First let’s look at the peculiar sequence of events here. First the disciples were powerless to cast out a demon. Then, they were arguing over who was greatest. But even though they could not cast out the demon, they were forbidding someone else who believed in Christ from casting out a demon in Jesus’ name, after they could not.

   Since the man was not a part of their organization, the disciples assumed God could not use the man. Today sometimes believers make the same mistake, thinking that other genuine Christians who are not a part of their church, are not used by God or only used in a lesser way.

 

6. In Mk 9:38-40, how do you handle someone who is doing God’s will, but is “unauthorized” by people?

A: First of all, ask if it even needs to be authorized by people? If it is God’s will, then perhaps it does not. If you think it is being divisive, make sure that first make sure that it is not you and your group that are being divisive. On the other hand, if it is stirring up contention, or legitimately causing division, you should talk with them, try to reason with them, and pray that they and you can be of one mind.

 

7. In Mk 9:38-40 and other passages, how “real” is the devil and his influence? Does he put thoughts into your head?

A: The devil and his demons are real being with thoughts and feelings. They can suggest thoughts, but they cannot “possess” believers. Though they can suggest thoughts, we have the power to say no and move on. Though they are powerful, and their power should not be taken lightly, our protection under Christ’s blood is more powerful still. For example, I have heard of a witch doctor who cursed a Christian, and the curse bounced back to the witchdoctor. In an unrelated example, I have heard of another witchdoctor who pronounced that a Christian missionary would be dead within 30 days. On the 30th day, the witch doctor died.
   As children of Christ, we have no reason to bargain with the devil, taunt the devil, or even want to try to communicate with the devil or demons at all.

 

8. In Mk 9:42, what do you think is so serious about causing the little children to sin?

A: While society at that time often looked down on children, Mark 9:42 says it would be better for someone to have never been born than to cause a child to sin. When you look at a little child, who might act silly and who does not know much, remember that God cares as much about them as He does an adult, and they are just as important in God’s eyes.

  The evangelist D.L. Moody once told someone that two and a half people were saved at a meeting. The person asked him, you mean two adults and a child? No Moddy said, two children and an adult.

 

9. In Mk 9:48, why would worms not die in Hell?

A: Jesus’ metaphor is not referring to little animals, but rather the decay and destruction of Hell. When Critics Ask p.372 gives a different answer. Since it says “their worm” and not “the worm”, it is a metaphor of the physical body of someone who goes to Hell.

 

10. In Mk 9:49, what does “salted with fire” mean?

A: There are three main interpretations of who this verse is referring

Believers, who undergo suffering and purification

The lost, who go to Hell

Everyone who is tested and judged. This view can encompass the other two views.

In conclusion, verses 43-48 speak of Hell, and verse 50 refers to believers. Verse 49 is a transition, and everyone refers to both the lost mentioned immediately before this, and the believers mentioned immediately after this.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.147-148 and The NIV Study Bible p.1513 for more info. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.709 says this is one of the most difficult verses to understand in Mark.

 

11. In Mk 9:49-50, how does “being salted with fire” relate to “losing its saltiness”?

A: Hard Sayings of the Bible p.430-431 says that the Pharisees at that time had a teaching that Israel was salt among the nations to purify them. Salt was an important preservative. The phrase “salted with fire” means to preserve food by fire, such as drying out fruits. If even fire can have a preservative effect, salt can lose most of its preservative effect if the salt is leached out with water, of if the salt is diluted with other things.


Mark 10:1-31 – Divorce, Children, and the Rich Young Man - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 10:1-2, why do you think the Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce here?

A: It could be for one or more of three reasons, and none of the reasons was that the Pharisee was going to follow a particular view because of what Jesus said.

1) See if Jesus was closer to the school of Hillel, which permitted divorce, or the school of Shammai which did not, except for adultery. Among followers of the famous Jewish rabbi Hillel, divorce was permitted in Mishnah Gittin 1:1-3; 7:2.

2) See if Jesus would teach something different than the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (and Jesus did).

3) Hope Jesus would say no divorce, which you make Jesus be criticizing the ruler Herod Antipas and his wife Herodias, who got divorce already. The wife could not initiate divorce under Jewish law, but she could under Roman law, as Herodias did. Jesus was currently in Perea, which was ruled by Herod Antipas.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.148-149 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.710 for more info.

 

2. In Mk 10:1-2 and Mt 19:3-9, what does Jesus teach about divorce?

A: Before answering the question, we should first understand what Jesus taught about marriage.

Marriage in Mark 10:7 and Genesis 2:24 is when the two become one flesh. When a young man or women is about to get married, they need to realized that as a result of this they will be a changed person. At the very least, a study in the United States shows that married men on average live a bit longer than never married men. More importantly, your spouse can and probably will do a lot to bring you closer to God, or farther from Him. Marriage is not just being in love, or having feelings, but a commitment before God and others. It is if, metaphorically you are no longer two organisms but rather just one.

   Splitting the “organism” is not natural and not something God wants. While it is permitted to divorce the spouse if the spouse commits sexual immorality in Matthew 13:9, it is not necessarily required to do so. Paul teaches it is not permitted to divorce someone because they are or acquired a different faith, but if they initiate the divorce, it is permitted to go along with it, in 1 Corinthians 7:12-15.

  What if the spouse becomes a drug addict? It is difficult to envision someone falling into this and being a genuine Christian. But regardless, in this difficult predicament if they are unwilling to stop, you can turn them in to th police. If they are an unbeliever and wish to divorce you after that, then fine.

   What if the spouse threatens violence to you or the family? The prudent thing to do is to separate for safety, and again, it is hard to imagine someone doing this and being a genuine Christian. This is a tough situation also. Sometimes it might be best to turn them into the police.

 

3. In Mk 10:5, why would God through Moses permit some things because of the hardness of their hearts?

A: While God does not need to accommodate us and our hard hearts, sometimes God chooses to do so. In Old Testament times, most believers did not have the Holy Spirit living inside them. But in New Testament times, with the Holy Spirit living inside us and the law written on our hearts, we have a higher standard than Old Testament saints here.

 

4. In Mk 10:13, why were the disciples rebuking people for bringing their little children to Jesus?

A: The disciples were wrong to do so. Perhaps they wrongly reasoned that since the children could not intellectually understand Jesus’ teaching as adults could, they should not waste Jesus’ time. Jesus did not merely correct, but rebuked those who had wrongly rebuked others.

   According to the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1346, George MacDonald said that he did not believe in a man’s Christianity if boys or girls were never to be found playing around his door.

 

5. In Mk 10:13-15, why did Jesus want the children to come to Him?

A: The only reason Jesus stated was “to such belong the kingdom of God”. Jesus was using the children as an object lesson, that we all have to have the humility and teachability of kids to come to God. We cannot come to God in pride, but we must admit that we are not sufficient in ourselves. We must be willing to admit that God knows more than us, and that we need Him and are willing to grow.

   In addition, undoubtedly Jesus liked kids, and saw that the value of the soul of a child was the same value as an adult. Jesus would be a good kids Sunday school teacher!

 

6. In Mk 10:18 and Lk 18:19, was Jesus not “good” since He questioned the man calling Him good?

A: Jesus is good in every sense of the word. Jesus questions someone calling Him good, when the man did not yet recognize that Jesus was the Messiah, and seemed to throw around the term “good” too easily.

   Similarly in John 8:7, when Jesus told the accusers of the sinful woman “Let him who is without sin throw the first stone”, Jesus did not throw any stones himself, but they does not prove Jesus had sin. Jesus was without sin according to Hebrews 4:15.

   See the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.107 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.435-436 for more info.

 

7. In Mk 10:18 and Lk 18:19 Jesus asks “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Since Jesus was not denying His own goodness or his deity, what was He saying?

A: Jesus is asking a brief question that, on the surface, sounds very simple: why are you calling Him good? Three simple points, and then some discussion.

a) Jesus did not affirm or deny that He was good here. (Other places tell us He was though.)

b) Jesus only asked a question. He did not affirm or deny that He was God here. (Other places tell us He was though.)

c) Jesus seemed acutely interested in what this guy was willing to affirm and what he believed.

   Now for this discussion, and then we will see what you affirm and are willing to believe.

   Nobody else in the gospels, whether a believer or not, was every recorded calling Jesus “good teacher”. Was the questioner merely to be gracious and flattering, or, Jesus asked, was He affirming more than that?

   What is a “good person”, in the eyes of a Holy God? Is a sinful tax collector, who has cheated many all his life, but cries out to for God to have mercy on him good? No, he is repentant of his evil, but he was still evil. On the other hand, are we any better than that tax collector? No. By God’s standards, calling any mere man on earth “good” is a false conceit.

   For that matter what is good? Is something good when people vote on it, when society accepts it, or when a person thinks in his own mind it is good, though other people’s minds think different? No, we have no standard of God, except God and what He pronounces as good. No one is ultimately good, except for God.

   Given all of this, do you affirm that Jesus was good?

 

8. In Mk 10:18 and Lk 18:19, was Jesus God, since none was good except God alone?

A: Jesus did not say to the man here whether He was God or was not God here. Rather, He was saying that the man was throwing around the word “good” rather lightly. God is the source of goodness, the definition of goodness, and all of the lesser things we call good, are simply shadows of the goodness of God.

   You know, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and even the Roman idolaters who were killing Christians were all trying to be good, at least as they thought good was. It may be a shock to many Westerners, but all religions do not share this view, that you should try to do good. Within Hinduism, many trying to seek enlightenment, true understanding, by experiencing both good and evil. That is why if a Hindu religious man embezzles or steals, some may be shocked at his alleged hypocrisy, but it may not be hypocrisy at all. For him, it may be that there is no conflict in trying to attain enlightenment, cosmic consciousness, or whatever, and by wanting to experience evil. Not all Hindus would agree, though; some would emphasize “karma” more.

 

9. In Mk 10:19, why did Jesus only mention six of the Ten Commandments?

A: Jesus was not being exhaustive here, but just giving examples. Jesus’ lack of verbosity here is not an excuse to deny what both Jesus and His apostles taught in other places.

 

10. Does Mk 10:21-22, teach everyone to sell all their possessions, too?

A: No, because Jesus did not tell anyone else we know of to sell their possessions. Even Paul had personal possessions, such as his cloak in 2 Timothy 4:13. In Acts 5:4, when Ananias was disciplined, it specifically says he was not disciplined for keeping some of his own money, but rather for lying to God and claiming he did not keep any of the money. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.151 says essentially the same thing.

Apparently the man loved his wealth as much as he loved God, and Jesus told the man he had to do something about that. However, this verse is still a challenge for us today. When the choice came down to Christ or riches, this otherwise good-appearing man was unwilling to choose Christ over riches. If and when someone is that way today, then that person has been cursed with too much money. Read Proverbs 30:7-9 and see Hard Sayings of the Bible p.436-437 for more info.

   When you decide how much to give to God’s work, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1347 in discussing Mark 10 has provided a list of things you might want to think about.

1. Thousands of people die daily of starvation

2. A great many people have never heard the good news.

3. Our money can be used to help these needs.

4. Christ teaches use that we should become poor that others might be made rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).

5. Since our life on earth is so short, when Jesus comes it will be too late.

 

11. In Mk 10:23-24, is it impossible for prosperous people to go to Jesus?

A: There is only one answer, but it has two parts.

No. People who have wealth can always come to God. Abraham was very wealthy, both by ancient standards and modern. However, wealthy people need to be willing at any time to give up for God whatever is most precious to them -like Abraham did with his son Isaac.

Yes: If your possessions or wealth possess you, and you love money more than God, you have to choose one or the other, and your eternal destiny depends on your choice.

   It is also curious that this is right after the part about little children. The Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1347 remarks that “Christians who lay up treasures on earth generally pay for their disobedience in the lives of their children.”

 

12. In Mk 10:30, how do we get all these things in this life?

A: This promise was to the early Christians just as much as to us. We cannot expect any more guarantees of financial prosperity than Paul, the other apostles, and the early Christians, who were primarily slaves and the poor. When Cultists Ask p.135-136 adds that this verse is not speaking about riches, but about family and homes.

Each of us individually does not have 100 homes and 100 fields as our personal possessions. We each do not have 100 biological brothers and sisters and 100 biological mothers as our relatives. Rather, as brothers and sisters in one body - the church - we collectively have all these things to share with each other, as Mark 3:33-35 shows.

   See the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.347-348 and When Cultists Ask p.135 for more extensive answers.

 

13. In Mk 10:30, what is curious about one of these rewards?

A: They can be grouped into five categories: houses, family, lands, persecution, and eternal life. Most people are not wishing for one of these: persecution. But we need to realize that persecution is also a reward. The early Christians did so, as Acts 5:41 demonstrates.


Mark 10:32-52 – What Exactly Do You Want Jesus to Do For You? - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 10:35-37, did James and John come to Jesus asking to sit on His right and left, or did their mother in Mt 20:20?

A: The skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.858 asks this. The answer is in Matthew 20:20 itself, where it says their mother came “with her sons”. They were together when Jesus was asked.

   Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews book 6 11.9 shows that the place on the left was the next highest after the place on the right, according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.152.

 

2. In Mk 10:38, what cup and baptism was Jesus talking about?

A: The cup and baptism were not the Lord’s supper and water baptism (Jesus had already been baptized by John). Rather, Jesus was referring to what these things represented. Jesus’ blood was about to be shed on the cross, which the cup symbolizes, and Jesus was about to be buried and rise again, which baptism symbolizes.

 

3. In Mk 10:38-40, since Jesus first told them the price of granting their request, and then [allegedly] denied their request, why did they still have to pay the price?

A: The two disciples asked out of their own vain pride, and Jesus basically said they did not know what they were asking. Jesus did not explicitly deny their request, but said their request was not His to grant or deny. Then Jesus told them what they would do, but left the granting of this privilege to the Father.

   This is an excellent verse to prove a point about the Trinity. While the Father and Son are inseparably one, this verse proves there is a distinction between them, in contrast to Modalism, such as Oneness Pentecostalism and the local church have taught.

 

4. In Mk 10:45, was Jesus’ death on the cross a ransom for every single person, or for some people but not others?

A: Here is what the Bible states about the universal and limited aspects.

Universal aspects:

Commanded for all to obey the Gospel (Acts 17:30; 2 Thessalonians 1:8)

Whosoever believes in Him (John 3:16)

Appeared to all (Titus 2:11)

God desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4)

Ransom for all men (1 Timothy 2:6)

Offered [honestly and sincerely] to all (Acts 2:38-40, Hebrews 4:2)

Atoning sacrifice for the whole world (1 John 2:2)

Jesus will draw all men unto Himself (John 12:32)

Definitive Aspects:

No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws Him (John 6:65)

God can choose to extend mercy to some, such as Jacob, that He does not extend to others, such as Esau, though He still is just to all (Romans 9:14-18).

Gospel of no value to those who do not combine it with faith (Hebrews 4:2).

Pharisees rejected God’s purpose for themselves (Luke 7:30).

Some denied the Lord who bought them (2 Peter 2:1). The word for Lord is despotes and is the same in Jude 4, where it refers to Jesus.

God foreknew not just that people would accept, but God foreknew each individual that would accept. God chose (predestined) those who would accept.

If you think about it, all Christians who are non-Calvinists and Calvinists should agree there are both universal and definitive aspects of the ransom. ¾ but this does not gloss over a key difference between Calvinists, Arminians and other non-Calvinists.

   The fundamental difference between Calvinism and non-Calvinism (including Wesleyan Arminianism, so-called 4-point Calvinism, and everything in between) is whether the almighty, sovereign, loving, and just God chose for those who go to Hell to be either:

Non-Calvinist: Lost causes, where God freely gave everyone what was needed to go to Heaven, but Jesus’ salvation failed to save some. They were lost because of their own fault of their free will.

Calvinist: Desired damnation, for Jesus’ salvation was effective for 100% of those intended, and God freely chose not to provide any way of salvation for others. There was never a single thing the reprobate would be able to do, or would want to do, to change God desiring them to have no opportunity to escape in God’s secret will.

Non-Calvinist: If salvation is potential for all and ineffective for some, then it would be ineffective because some could reject it or else it was also required to combine it with faith. Non-Calvinists say this is exactly what Luke 7:30 and Hebrews 4:2 are saying. Calvinists would respond that this would make salvation depend in part on man, and make faith almost a work required for salvation. Non-Calvinists would respond that Calvinism confuses the free gift salvation, which is of God, and accepting the free gift of salvation, which is the responsibility of man. Faith is not a work, as Ephesians 2:8-9 shows, and some Calvinists should not follow Catholics in trying to equate works of merit with the “empty virtue” of faith and acknowledging our helplessness to God.

Calvinist: If salvation is only potential for some, and it is effective for all for whom it is potential, then there never was any opportunity for some. The unpleasantness of “lost causes” is taken care of, but at the cost of lost love and inexplicable justice. In 2 Thessalonians 1:8, God would hold people responsible for not obeying a gospel God never gave them to obey. A person in Hell could say, “I came here because I believed that God did not love me enough, Jesus did not die for my sins, God’s ultimately willed that I remain an evil sinner, and I am here because I believed the truth. A reprobate person might as well try to find salvation through the latest fashionable cult, because the opportunity to find salvation and God’s love through the cult is as great for them as finding it through Christianity.

 

5. In Mk 10:51, why did Jesus ask the blind man what he wanted Jesus to do for him?

A: Jesus wants us to ask Him, even though He knows what we want. Of course, sometimes what we want and what is best are not always the same. The blind man had to specifically ask for sight, and Jesus granted this request after he asked. Sometimes, God waits to grant our requests today, until we specifically ask Him.

   As an aside, the phrase Son of David was also considered Messianic in the pre-Christian Psalms of Solomon according to the New International Bible Commentary p.1171.

 

6. In Mk 10:51, when a blind Jew could see what the Pharisees with sight could not, what other examples are there where more information can blind someone to what is obvious?

A: It is interesting to ponder why Jews who could see fine, could be blind that Jesus was the Messiah after seeing all of those miracles, while a Jew who was blind could see that Jesus was the Messiah. There are other times, when more information can make someone blind to what is obvious. Even despite being blind, Bartimaeus could still see more things of importance than the Pharisees.

   See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1349 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.155 for more info.

 

7. In Mk 10:52, why was it the man’s faith, and not Jesus’ faith, that made the man whole?

A: In this last recorded miracle in Mark, it is interesting that Jesus specifically said it was the man’s faith healed him. While God is not limited to working through our faith, God chooses to often work through our faith, as Ephesians 2:8 and Romans 4:3,16 show.

 

8. In Mk 10:52, why did Jesus say he was “made well” instead of merely that he could see?

A: Not only were his eyes and other parts of his body functioning as normal, but the formerly blind person was now spiritually whole in Christ. As an aside, this is now the second time in Mark that the disciples did not see the truth about Jesus’ death with healing a blind person. Unlike earlier miracles, Jesus did not command him not to tell anyone.

 

9. In Mk 10:36,51 why do people want Jesus to do some things for them, but not others?

A: Even today, some believers want to make Jesus Lord of part of their lives, but keep control of other parts. It is a lack of faith in trusting that if you make Jesus lord of all of your life, it will be better. You can’t have just a little bit of Jesus as Lord.


Mark 11 – Jubilation with Foreboding - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 11:8-10, why did they put their coats and palm branches down before the donkey?

A: This custom was a sign of great respect and admiration. Perhaps it was similar to the old fashioned European chivalry of a man putting his coat over a mud puddle so a royal lady could step on the coat and walk over the puddle.

   As an aside, Bethphage means the house of unripe figs. Bethany means either house of figs or dates. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.155 for more info.

 

2. In Mk 11:8-10, how do you handle people who want to praise and serve God when you know they have very wrong preconceptions about Him?

A: They appear to be saved on the surface, but they might not be. They might still be in the stage before they have new life in Christ. Some might reject Jesus once they see that He might not live up to their assumptions about Him. You should gently correct their wrong notions and pray for them. We do not want people coming to Christ under any false pretenses.

 

3. In Mk 11:13, since it was not yet the time for figs was Jesus in the gospels ignorant of the season, as Ahmad Deedat asserts?

A: No, Deedat totally missed the point here. The fig tree represented Israel, and this was a prophecy that the nation the fig tree represented would be barren of fruit and would wither spiritually.

 

4. In Mk 11:13,23,30 since someone with faith could move mountains, why couldn’t Jesus have a fig tree with fruit?

A: Jesus could have, but chose not to do this. It was not figs and fig trees that Jesus was concerned about; Jesus was teaching the disciples, here. The fig tree was a representation of the nation of Israel, and Jesus cursed the fig tree to show what would happen to them if, like the fig tree, they did not bear fruit of faith when Jesus came to them. See the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.346-347 for more info.

 

5. In Mk 11:14, how do some people seem like they would be very helpful and fruitful, but in the end are useless?

A: The fig tree took up space where other fig trees could have grown. Farm hands cared for and tended the fig tree. They watered it, and perhaps fertilized it, with the expectation that the fig tree give back too, and provide them with figs. Some people only want to take, and never give back.

   Perhaps some cannot give back spiritually, because they do not have spiritual life in them. They professed to be fruitful but in fact were not. There was the promise of fruit, without fulfillment.

   Materially though, there are people who would need your help but are unable to every give back or repay you for your work. But we are to love and help them anyway.

 

6. In Mk 11:15-18 and Lk 19:45-46, why didn’t the Jewish authorities just arrest Jesus, a stranger with a whip, immediately?

A: Four points to consider in the answer.

1. The crowds had just praised Jesus as the Messiah in the Triumphal Entry in Matthew 21:1-11, also Matthew 21:15-16; Mark 11:1-10, and Luke 12:12-15.

2. Jesus was miraculously healing people, and it is hard to arrest in a crowd of people who are being healed by Him.

3. Prior to that, the crowd had heard that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead according to John 12:9-11, 17-19.

4. Most importantly, because of the preceding reasons, Mark 11:18 says that while the priests and teachers looked for a way to kill Jesus, they feared Him because the whole crowd was amazed at Jesus. The priests did not want a riot, and the Roman retribution it would cause. Luke 19:47-48 says similar, and in Luke 12:19, the Pharisees lamented that they thought the whole world was following Jesus.

 

7. In Mk 11:16, why wouldn’t Jesus let anyone carry any vessels (pots or containers) in the temple?

A: Jesus was not interfering with proper sacrifices, but He was interfering with those who carried vessels full of money.

 

8. In Mk 11:17, how were the people in the temple acting as thieves?

A: -In at least three ways:

Price-gouging: Selling things in the temple for inflated prices.

Institutionalization: Priests would not accept an animal with blemishes, such as a cut that might occur through traveling, so the people had to buy the animals at inflated prices.

Robbing God in offerings: The sellers and worshippers were focused on the financial transactions instead of worshipping God.

 

9. In Mk 11:23, why did Jesus mention a faith that moves mountains?

A: Jesus was teaching that it only took a little genuine faith in God’s power, applied to prayer to move mountains. Faith is like a seed; it can grow. Also, Jesus said this near Jerusalem, and in the last days the Mount of Olives, half a mile east of Jerusalem, will be split in two, according to Zechariah 14:4.

 

10. In Mk 11:23 did Jesus promise to give us absolutely anything we ask for in faith?

A: God gives us any thing we ask, subject to the following qualifications:

A thing: God cannot give a “thing” that is not a thing, such as a logical contradiction, like water that is not wet, a moveable object that is unable to be moved, etc.

In faith: God will not grant us what is asked in doubting as James 1:6-7, or what is asked, not for faith, but to spend on our passions according to James 4:3. We are to ask according to God’s will in 1 John 5:14. In faith means includes abiding in God and God abiding in us in John 15:7.

If we forgive: Mark 11:25 adds the qualification Good gifts: Prior to Mark 11:23, Jesus taught that God is a good father, who gives us good things, not bad things, according to Matthew 7:9-11 and Luke 11:11-13. Thus sometimes when an obedient believer asks in faith God says “no” or “wait”, such as in Job 1:1; Philippians 2:25; 2 Timothy 4:20; and 2 Corinthians 12:8-9.

   See When Cultists Ask p.136-137 for more info.

 

11. In Mk 11:25-26, if a genuine Christian does not forgive, will he or she go to Hell?

A: In a sense this is a moot point, because a genuine Christian will forgive. No true Christian would refuse to ever forgive someone, because that would show that they had never chosen to receive God’s forgiveness, and thus they were not true Christians. Needless to say, it is very important to forgive everyone.

 

12. In Mk 11:29-33, why did Jesus not directly answer the question about what authority He had?

A: They probably intended to trap Him. If Jesus said that He had authority form God to ride into Jerusalem, drive out the money changers, and curse the fig tree, then they would accuse Jesus of blasphemy. If Jesus said from men, then it was not the Roman or Temple authorities. But Jesus was not under any obligation to answer any questions. While in general Jesus answered most people’s questions, He did not directly answer the question of those who were not seeking His answer, except to try to entrap Him. Jesus simply could have said, “I do not need your authority because I have the Father’s authority as proven by the many healings I am doing.” Actually though, they could figure that out already.

   See the Believers Bible Commentary p.1351 for more info.

 

13. In Mk 11:29-33, when should we not answer someone’s question, even when we know the answer?

A: In short when they do not want to know the truth. If they could not accept what they already knew about John, then they don’t need to hear the truth about Jesus, because they would refuse anyway.

   If they are asking solely to trap us, we should be careful of what we say. If they are not trying to trap us, but asking for some other reason rather than not really wanting to know, we don’t have to answer. If someone asks you some question about God or the Bible, and you suspect it might be a “Red herring” that is just a distraction from having to deal with truth, you can ask them this question. If I were to answer this question to your satisfaction, would that take you closer to accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? If their answer is “no”, then congratulations, you have just uncovered a red herring. In that case, you then can ask, “What would bring you closer to accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior?”


Mark 12 – The Tenants Revolt - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 12:1-9, what is the meaning of this parable?

A: God gave the land, the Promised Land, to the Jews. However, they did not give to God the obedience, undivided worship, tithes, and sacrifices He commanded. He sent them prophets, which they abused and killed. Finally, God sent His son, Jesus, whom they would kill. There is some similarity here to the allegory of the Lord’s vineyard in Isaiah 5:1-7.

   The reason the tenants said they would become the owners was due to Jewish law. If the owner and his heirs were killed, then the possessors of the land would be first in line to have it according to Mishnah Baba Bathra 3.3 and b Baba Bathra 54a. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.733 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.160 for more info.

 

2. In Mk 12:6, why would the tenants be expected to respect the landowner’s son?

A: They would still respect the son if

1. They had any respect of proper authority, or

2. Obedience to the law, or

3. The intelligence to figure out that hurting the son would bring sure retaliation, or

4. A healthy fear of the master’s soldiers.

   They would kill the son only if their greed for the vineyard had totally blinded them to reason. It is amazing but true that people can have so much greed, that their decisions make it appear they desire immediate money and pleasure even more than being alive the next day.

   Today it is curious to see how some people who might otherwise make the best decision make a foolish one because of greed. Most of the time they are not even aware of how greed skewed their decision-making ability – until much later.

 

3. In Mk 12:10-11 and Lk 20:17-18, why did the people/builders reject the cornerstone?

A: They had no respect for the function or importance of the cornerstone. A cornerstone is the first stone upon which the foundation is set. Ultimately, a person either wants to be a part of the same building that Christ is building, or they do not. There is no middle ground; you cannot be half a part of the building.

 

4. In Mk 12:13-17 and Lk 20:21-25, did Jesus not directly answer the question about paying taxes?

A: Jesus did actually. They tried to trick him by asking if they should pay taxes to Caesar or not. If Jesus had said “no” He could be arrested by the Romans for encouraging people to not pay taxes. If Jesus had said “yes”, the crowds who resented Roman rule, might not be so friendly toward Him.

   This tax was required since 6 A.D. Since the Roman tax went into the Roman treasury, the zealots refused to pay it, because it acknowledged the Roman right to rule In Palestine. Pharisees objected to paying it but they still did so. Sadducees had no objection to paying it. So the ones asking the question only wanted to see which group Jesus would alienate. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.734, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.161, and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.789 for more info.

   Jesus answered the question, by saying we should pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. Jesus did not specify which things belonged to Caesar (Tiberius at the time), and they did not ask Him. See the New International Bible Commentary p.1173 for more info and Now That’s a Good Question p.438-439 for more on paying taxes.

 

5. In Mk 12:19, Lk 20:27, and Acts 23:8, briefly what do we know about the Sadducees, also called Herodians?

A: Josephus says the Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes were the three religious parties of Judah. The Sadducees apparently started under John Hyrcanus I (135-104 B.C.) and died out when the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. They were called Herodians in Jesus’ time because they supported the Herod Dynasty as kings in Judea.

   The Sadducees denied spirits, angels, and the resurrection of the body according to Acts 23:8. They denied all the Mishnah, Talmud, and other traditions of the Pharisees. According to Josephus, they saw no need to observe anything that was not written in the Torah, and according to early church writers denied all the Old Testament except the Law (Torah). On the Law itself, the Pharisees wrote examples of how they disagreed on minor matters.

 

6. In Mk 12:19 and Lk 20:27, what is all the biblical and extra-Biblical evidence we have about the Sadducees?

A: Here is nearly everything we know on the Sadducees.

1. 1 and 2 Maccabees give a detailed history of the external and internal struggles during the time the parties of the Pharisees and Sadducees were founded.

2. Josephus speaks of the Sadducees in five passages. The quotes are taken from Josephus : Complete Works.

Wars of the Jews 2.8.2,14 (2a) “For there are three philosophical sects among the Jews. The followers of the first of whom are the Pharisees; of the second the Sadducees; and the third sect, who pretends to a severer discipline, are called the Essens.” (14f) [Essens is the spelling in the book] “But the Sadducees are those that compose the second order, and take away fate entirely, and suppose that God is not concerned in our doing or not doing what is evil; and they say, that to act what is good, or what is evil, is at men’s own choice, and that the one or the other belongs to every one, that they may act as they please. They also take away the belief of the immortal duration of the soul, and the punishments and rewards in Hades. Moreover, the Pharisees are friendly to one another, and are for the exercise of concord and regard for the public. But the behaviour of the Sadducees one towards another is in some degrees wild; and their conversation with those that are of their own party is as barbarous as if they were strangers to them….” (Later in Antiquities of the Jews 18.1.6 Josephus mentions a fourth sect, which is like the Pharisees except they fight for liberty. He is referring to the Zealots.)

Antiquities of the Jews 13.5.9 In contrast to the Sadducees, the Pharisees were prone to not be severe in punishments.

Antiquities of the Jews 13.10.6 This is historically the first mention of the Sadducees, under the rule of John Hyrcanus I as both king and high priest (135-104 B.C.)

Antiquities of the Jews 18.1.4 “But the doctrine of the Sadducees is this: That souls die with the bodies; nor do they regard the observation of anything besides what the law [Torah?] enjoins them; for they think it an instance of virtue to dispute with those teachers of philosophy whom they frequent; but this doctrine is received but by few, yet by those still of the greatest dignity; but they are able to do almost nothing of themselves; for when they become magistrates, as they are unwillingly and by force sometimes obliged to be, they addict themselves to the notions of the Pharisees, because the multitude would not otherwise bear them.” (Josephus wrote Antiquities of the Jews 93-94 A.D.)

Antiquities of the Jews 20.227 i9.1] only mentions one Sadducee who was high priest. His name was Hanan ben Hanan, and he held office for only three months.

3. The Mishnah contrasts Sadducee teachings to those of the Pharisees in at least nine passages. (The earliest Mishnah’s were written about 200 A.D.) According to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1500-1502, here are some of the teachings given. However, it cautions us that these are from the perspective of the Pharisees, and we have no writings by the Sadducees themselves. Thus, the differences are from the perspective of what was important to the Pharisees, minor details about the law, and not necessarily what was most important to the Sadducees.

Baba Batra 115b - When a man died with no living sons, the Pharisees said that only a granddaughter and not a daughter could inherit, while the Sadducees said that both daughters and granddaughters could inherit if there were no sons.

Baba Kamma 84a - In applying “eye or an eye”, the Pharisees often would accept monetary compensation instead, while the Sadducees would not.

Megillah Ta’anit 1 - While the Pharisees wanted offering paid by the treasury, the opponents of the Pharisees wanted the cost paid by freewill offerings.

Megillah Ta’anit 4 - Same as Baba Kamma 84a.

Makkot 1:5-8 - The Pharisees wanted all false witnesses put to death, while the Sadducees would only put a false witness to death if their testimony had already caused the execution of the falsely accused.

Tosefta Parah chapter 3 and Parah - The Sadducees did not have all the washings of the Pharisees, but the Sadducees were more strict in the purity of the red heifer.

Tosefta Sanhedrin 6:6 - The Pharisees wanted all false witnesses put to death, while the Sadducees would only put a false witness to death if their testimony had already caused the execution of the falsely accused.

Yadaim 4:7 - The Sadducees taught that an owner should be responsible for the damage a slave does, just as he is responsible for the damage his animal does. The Pharisees taught that a slave should be equally responsible, so that an unhappy slave would not get his master in trouble.

Yerushalmi Yevamot 1:6 - The Levirate marriage was only for a betrothed wife, not for one actually married.

4. A rabbinic tradition (Abot Rabbi Natan 5) says the Zadok, a disciple of Antigonus of Soko, started the Sadducees. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1500 for more info.

5. The New Testament tells us about the Sadducees in passing.

Matthew 3:7f - John the Baptist saw both Sadducees and Pharisees.

Not Matthew 15:1 - Some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus. Since these people were concerned with Jesus’ disciples not washing their hands, they likely were no Sadducees among them.

Matthew 16:1-6 - Both the Pharisees and Sadducees asked Jesus for a sign from Heaven.

Matthew 16:11-12 - Jesus says to beware the teaching of the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Obviously they taught different things because they were different groups, but Jesus did not elaborate on the beliefs of either group in this verse.

Matthew 22:23-34; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-39, The Sadducees question Jesus about the resurrection. According to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1501, the Mishnah in Yerushalmi Yevamot 1:6 shows that since Levirate marriage applies only to the betrothed in the eyes of the Sadducees, the woman would only have been married to the seventh husband.

Acts 4:1-2 - The Pharisees, priests, and Sadducees were united in opposing the apostles.

Acts 5:17-18 - This records that the high priest at this time was a Sadducee. (Josephus also says that the High Priest Ananias the Younger was a Sadducee.)

Acts 23:6-8 - The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, or angels or spirits.

6. Early Church writings

Justin Martyr (135-165 A.D.) “For I choose to follow not men or men's doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians, even as one, if he would rightly consider it, would not admit that the Sadducees, or similar sects of Genistae, Meristae, Galilaeans, Hellenists, Pharisees, Baptists, are Jews (do not hear me impatiently when I tell you what I think), but are [only] called Jews and children of Abraham, worshipping God with the lips, as God Himself declared, but the heart was far from Him. But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.” Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew ch.80 p.239

Tatian’s Diatessaron (died 172 A.D.) section 34 p.96 mentions the resurrection of all when Jesus rebukes the Sadducees.

Hegesippus (170-180 A.D.) mentions seven false-Christians groups among the people: from Simon, Cleobius, Doritheus, Gorthaeus, Masbothaeus, Menander, Marcion, Carpocrates, Valentinians, Basilideans, and Saturnilians. (vol.8 p.764). He mentions he Jewish sects of the Essenes, the Galileans, Hemerobaptists, the Masbothaei, Samaritans, Sadducees, and the Pharisees in Concerning His Journey to Rome, and the Jewish Sects vol.8 p.765.

Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) “For our Lord and Master, in the answer which He gave to the Sadducees, who say that thee is no resurrection, and who do dishonor God, and lower the credit of the law,” Irenaeus Against Heresies book 4 ch.5.2 p.466-467

Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) in On the Resurrection of the Flesh chapter 2, compares Christian heretics who deny the physical resurrection with the Sadducees with which Jesus had to contend.

Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) “The Sadducees, who said there was no resurrection, in a discussion on that subject, had proposed to the Lord a case of law touching a certain woman, who, in accordance with the legal prescription, had been married to seven brothers who had died one after the other.” Five Books Against Marcion book 4 ch.38 p.413. Tertullian wrote elsewhere on the Sadducees too.

Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) in The Refutation of All Heresies book 9 chapter 22 p.136-137 has a whole chapter on the Sadducees. As Josephus says, they say that God does not affect earthly concerns. They deny the resurrection of the flesh, and say the soul does not continue to exist after death. He also gives other details that are found in Josephus. In addition to Josephus, Hippolytus also says that they are especially strong in Samaria. “They do not, however, devote attention to prophets, but neither do they to any other sages, except to the law of Moses only, in regard of which, however, they frame no interpretations.”

Origen (225-254 A.D.) “The Jews had different opinions, some false, such as the Sadducees held about the resurrection of the dead, that they do not rise, and in regard to angels that they do not exist, but that those things which were written about them were only to be interpreted figuratively, but had no reality in point of fact;” Commentary on Matthew chapter 20 p.427. Origen also says the Samaritans and Sadducees receive the books of Moses alone in Origen Against Celsus book 1. Origen wrote elsewhere on the Sadducees too.

Methodius (270-311/312 A.D.) “Wherefore observe that these are the very things which the Lord wished to teach to the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the flesh. For this was the opinion of the Sadducees. Whence it was that, having contrived the parable about the woman and the seven brethren, that they might cast doubt upon the resurrection of the flesh,” Discourse on the Resurrection ch.12 p.367. Methodius wrote elsewhere on the Sadducees too.

Arnobius (297-303 A.D.)  “And let no one here bring up against us Jewish fables and those of the sect of the Sadducees, as though we, too, attribute to the Deity forms; for this is supposed to be taught in their writings, and asserted as if with assurance and authority.” Arnobius Against the Heathen book 3 ch.12 p.467

After Nicea

Athanasius (326-373 A.D.) “And what is the Law to the Sadducees if they receive not the prophets?” To the Bishops of Egypt ch.4 p.224

Epiphanius of Salamis (390 A.D.) in Heresies 1,14 claims the term “Sadducees” came from the Hebrew word sadiq, meaning “righteous”. However, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1500 says there is a problem explaining how the vowel would changes from i (carot) in sadiq to u (carot) in seduqim.

Jerome, also apparently said the Sadducees only observed the Torah, according to The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.884-885.

Spurious and Heretical Works

The Ebionite Recognitions of Clement (c.211-250 A.D.) book 2 ch.54 p.91 (Implied) is against the Sadducees because they denied the resurrection of the dead.

Pseudo-Hippolytus “And therefore have they [the Jews] no longer king or high priest or prophet, nor even scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees among them. He does not, however, say that they are to be cut off;” On Psalm 59 p.202

   See the next question for more discussion on this.

 

7. In Mk 12:19 and Lk 20:27, did the Sadducees totally reject all the Old Testament except the Torah, accept the rest of the Old Testament but on lesser authority, or accept everything as the Pharisees did?

A: Here is the evidence. The early church writers Hippolytus, Tertullian, Origen, and Jerome said the Sadducees only believed in the Torah. However, The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.884-885 says they were in error, because

1) Josephus does not mention this

2) In the Talmud Sadducees use arguments from other books of the Old Testament,

3) They probably would not have been allowed on the Sanhedrin if they had not regarded the other books as canonical.

   However against this view are three points:

1r) Josephus wrote of the Sadducees, “…nor do they regard the observation of anything besides what the law enjoins…” in Antiquities of the Jews 18.1.4. (about 93-94 A.D.)

2r) Furthermore, even if the Sadducees did not totally reject the rest of the Old Testament, they might have only accepted the rest of the Old Testament books as less authoritative. This is similar to the view of some Christians as the apocrypha being godly writings that belong in Scripture, but having lesser authority than the rest of the Old Testament. Perhaps the Sadducees left open the question of just how authoritative the non-Torah books were.

3r) According to Josephus, Ananias (the younger) was a Sadducee who was appointed high priest by the Romans. It would detract from the Sanhedrin’s authority if they excluded the high priest. Also, Josephus writes in Antiquities of the Jews 18.1.4, that when the Sadducees became magistrates, they adhered to what the Pharisees said, because otherwise the multitudes could not endure them. It is analogous to today, when many liberal “Christian” pastors, who themselves deny that Jesus died to pay for our sins, still celebrate the Lord’s Supper every month, repeating the words “This is my blood shed for the forgiveness of sins”, though he said he personally did not believe that, because otherwise the church members would not accept them as pastors.

   Where did the early church writers get their information? Since the Sadducees died out around 70 A.D., they did not get it from the Sadducees themselves. Perhaps they got the information from many early writings we do not have today. For example, Papias, a disciple of John the Apostle and the first extra-Biblical premillennialist, wrote a number of volumes which have been lost.

Therefore, while there is nothing to prove the early church writers wrong, there are arguments on both sides as to whether the Sadducees outright reject the rest of the Old Testament, or else just held these books as of lesser authority.

 

8. In Mk 12:24, why did Jesus tell the Sadducees they did not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?

A: Jesus was correct in both a general sense and a specific sense He could demonstrate to them.

General: The Sadducees did not believe in afterlife or resurrection. According to early church writers, the Sadducees did not accept the Old Testament as Scripture except the first five books of the Law. See the previous question for more info.

Specific: As Jesus showed, even what they did accept as Scripture (the Torah) they did not really believe, about God still being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

 

9. In Mk 12:24, what does it mean to not be far from the kingdom of God?

A: It does not mean one can be fractionally saved, and it did not guarantee the man would be saved. Jesus meant that the man was very close to coming to believe in Jesus.

 

10. In Mk 12:29-31, how do these commands sum up the whole law?

A: They focus on two aspects; showing ultimate love and honor to God, and loving others as ourselves. In contrast to Jesus, some forgot the first aspect. A Gentile told the famous Jewish rabbi Hillel that he would convert to Judaism, but only if Hillel would teach him the whole law while he stood on one foot. Hillel replied, “What you hate for yourself, do not do to your neighbor; this is the whole law, the rest is commentary; go and learn” in ben Shabbath 31a. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.737 for more info.

 

11. In Mk 12:30, when Jesus referred to Dt 6:4, in loving God, why did Jesus add a fourth aspect of “mind”?

A: Two complementary answers.

1. While the Hebrew term “soul” implied all of a person’s life, mind included, Jesus, who was speaking Aramaic and/or Greek here, mentioned mind explicitly to capture the complete meaning of soul.

2. Also, with Jesus’ coming, believers had such a more complete understanding of God than they had in the Old Testament, as Matthew 13:10-16; Mark 4:11; and Luke 8:20 show. For more on the revealed mystery of Christ, see Ephesians 3:4-6,9; 6:19; Colossians 1:26-27; 2:2; 4:3; Romans 16:25-26; 1 Peter 1:10-12. See also the discussion on Deuteronomy 6:4.

 

12. In Mk 12:30 should we try to bypass reason in order to be spiritual, as some Word-Faith teachers imply?

A: Not at all. Faith goes beyond reason but not against it. Mark 12:30 says we are to love God with our entire mind too. The issue here is that if God’s Word says one thing, and with our minds we reason something else, do we believe God’s word first or our own reason first? Logical reason is not out master, nor is it to be thrown away as worthless, but it is a gift to be used as tools for serving God in love. Furthermore, God does not merely use our natural reason, but He can transform it by the renewing of our minds in 1 Corinthians 2:12. But this transformation is not necessarily automatic. Romans 12:2 commands us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. So we have a responsibility for something we cannot do. We get done what we cannot ourselves do by asking God to work through us, i.e. you have to pray to God to do the transforming. Will you thank Him for the sanctifying work He has already done, and ask Him to make you more malleable for His transforming your mind, heart, soul, and strength?

   See When Cultists Ask p.137-138 for a complementary answer.

 

13. In Mk 12:34, what is unusual about them not asking Jesus any more questions?

A: Mark 11:28 starts with the priests, scribes, and elders asking by what authority Jesus did these things. Jesus at first directly refused to answer their question. Then by his answers to other questions, and by Jesus finally asking His own question, which they could not answer, indirectly showed that He had the authority. Then they did not ask Jesus “by what authority…” or any other question. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.791 for more info.

 

14. In Mk 12:42, what does this tell us about Mark’s audience?

A: The mite (lepton in Greek) was a Greek coin, well-known to Greeks. Two of them were 1/64th of a denarius, a daily wage. The fact that Mark feels that he has to explain what it is, and he explains it using a Roman coin, the quadrans, indicates that Mark was originally writing to Roman audience.

   Likewise, for the Roman centurion at the cross the other gospels use the Greek word for centurion: hekatontarchos. Mark alone, does just uses the Latin here, kentyrion.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.741 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.166,190 for more info.

 

15. In Mk 12:42-44, since the scribes devoured widows’ houses, why didn’t Jesus stop the widow from putting in her two cents?

A: The widow was commended for her generosity and faith in giving. The temple scribes were rebuked not only for not giving to the poor, but even forcibly taking from the poor. Teachers of the law were not allowed to be paid for their services, but they could accept gifts, according to Aboth 1.13 and Bekhoroth 4.6. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.165 The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.740.


Mark 13 – The Olivet Discourse on the Endtimes - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 13:1-2, what was so impressive about the temple?

A: Both its size, and longevity, being rebuilt after it was destroyed, and rededicated after it was profaned.

   The Temple was an architectural wonder; it covered about one-sixth of the total land of Jerusalem. It was built of large white stones with inlaid gold. It took many years to build; it was not fully completed until 64 A.D. While it was a large structure, it was not as large as other ancient wonders of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or the pyramids of Egypt.

   Antiochus Epiphanes sacrificed a pig on the altar according to 1 Maccabees 1:41-64 and Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews book 12 ch.5.4. See also Josephus’ The Jewish War book 5 ch.184-226, Antiquities of the Jews book 15 ch.380-425 (xi), and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.169 for more info.

   Jewish zealots profaned the temple in 67-68 A.D. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.166-167, 169 for more info.

   In 70 A.D. the Roman general Titus instructed his troops to preserve the temple, but they burned it down anyway.

 

2. In Mk 13:1-2, how can we tell when an impressive-looking organization or institution is useless to God?

A: If it was built for bad purposes that is one thing, but it might have originally been created for godly purposes, but then those purposes got hijacked. Looking at how impressive something appears is focusing on the wrong thing. Like at their current fruit; are people coming to Christ and growing in Christ through the work. If not, then regardless of its past glory, it is not impressive in God’s eyes anymore.

 

3. In Mk 13:1-2, after Jesus came, and went, and the Jews as a nation rejected Him, the temple really did not serve any purpose of God’s anymore. When is it best for a formerly Christian institution to be taken down? What are some formerly Christian institutions?

A: When an institution bears the name of Christ or else was founded as a Christian institution, and it leads people away from Christ, then instead of supporting that institution we should warn others about it. &&7

YMCA in the United States,

Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and other universities in the east.

 

4. In Mk 13:5-30 and Mt 24-25, when will these things be fulfilled?

A: These are fulfilled over a period of time. In Mt 24:2, the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. Other parts await Jesus’ Second Coming. The events of the end times are “imminent”, meaning there is nothing that says they would be in the near future, but they could come at any time.

   Jesus is saying NOT to be alarmed that the end is almost here when you hear of wars. Yes they will come before the end, but they are just birth pangs, and the end is still a ways off.

 

5. In Mk 13:17 and Mt 24:19, why will it be so difficult for pregnant women and nursing mothers?

A: There could be two reasons. First, a hurried flight on a difficult journey is especially difficult for pregnant women and those with infants. During winter in Palestine the weather is colder but not extremely cold. However, rivers are overflowing and hard to cross according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.170.

   Second, it could be terrible for mothers who are caught, concerning what would happen to the small children or unborn babies.

 

6. In Mk 13:22 and Mt 24:24, how can even the elect be deceived?

A: The elect are not believers. Rather the elect are all those who will be believers. Of course, if a baby dies and goes to Heaven, even he or she will be a believer in Heaven.

   These verses say the elect can be deceived, but it does not say permanently deceived. I personally knew someone whom I believed was a genuine Christian, who then joined the Mormon Church, and then soon after, left Mormonism, and returned to Christianity.

 

7. In Mk 13:30 and Mt 24:34, since “this generation” will not pass away until Jesus comes, how can this be? (The liberal humanitarian Albert Schweitzer raised this objection)

A: Christians have three different answers.

a) The Greek word for generation, genea itself can imply race. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, (p.112), genea meant:

 a1) men of the same stock, or a family: Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 51.1 (written about 93-94 A.D.), Septuagint Genesis 31:3, etc.

a2) successive descendants: Philo

a3) an age: Herodotus 2,132, Heraclitus in Plutarch, Acts 14:16.In 1 Qp (Pesher) Habakkuk 2:7; 7:3 the term “last generation” means several lifetimes, according to The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.752.

b) There is only a one-letter difference between this and a similar Greek word that can only mean race, gonea, so this might be a typographical error. However, all New Testament manuscripts we currently have say genea.

c) The Greek word for all these things, ponta touta, means that this generation was the generation that saw the preceding signs. (Difficulties in the Bible p.173-174, Now That’s a Good Question p.495-496)

   See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.132, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.338-339, and When Critics Ask p.358-359 for more info.

 

8. Do Mk 13:30 and Mt 24:34 mean that all these things will happen within one generation of 1914, as the Jehovah’s Witness Watchtower vol.15 February 1986 p.5 taught?

A: No. Jehovah’s Witnesses have taught that Jesus Christ returned invisibly in 1914, and the things in Matthew 24 would happen within a generation of that. However, if the basic assumption, that Jesus returned in 1914, is flawed, then their argument is flawed. This is an example of what is called eisegesis, or reading the meaning you want into scripture, instead of “exegisis” which is getting out of scripture what it says. See When Cultists Ask p.126-127 for a complementary answer.

 

9. In Mk 13:34-37, why was Jesus so insistent that they keep watch?

A: While some people missed the first coming, the context here is a speech to only the disciples about the Second Coming. They were not to begin watching at a particular time, because Jesus had just said no one would know the hour. Rather, they were always to keep watch. Keeping watch here means to keep their lives holy, and stay close to God. It also means staying true during persecution. Christians were branded as heretics and flogged by Jews with 39 lashes, according to Mishnah Makkoth 3.10-14 (The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.168.)

   It can also refer to being alert to wrong revelation under persecution. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.168 for more info.

   See also 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.269 for more info.

 

10. In Mk 13:35-37 and Mt 24:42, when are Christians supposed to begin watching for the signs of Christ’s return?

A: Jesus commanded them to watch right away. Thus the church should have been watching for 2,000 years. This concept, called the “imminent return of Christ”, that we should always keep watch, because we do not know the day or the hour, God gave us so that we would be diligent about the Lord’s word.


Mark 14:1-31 – Final Anointing and the Lord’s Supper - some brief answers

 

1. Why do Mk 14:1-11, Mt 26:6-13, and Jn 12:1-11 differ significantly from Lk 7:36-50 in Jesus being anointed with oil?

A: Luke 7:36-50 records a different event. Specifically, Luke records the anointing of Jesus’ feet by a sinful woman in the house of a Pharisee just after John the Baptist’s disciples asked when Jesus would reveal He was the Messiah. The other three passages record Mary Magdalene anointing in the house of a healed leper, with Lazarus present, right before the Passover.

   Among the first to answer this question was Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) in his Harmony of the Gospels book 2 ch.79:154 (NPNF1 vol.6 p.173-164.). See also 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.34-35, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.174 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.793 for more info.

 

2. In Mk 14:4-8, did they have a point; why did Jesus prefer the expensive ointment be poured on Him rather than be given to the poor?

A: Jesus taught in Mark 12:29-31 that loving the Lord Your God is the greatest commandment, and loving your neighbor as yourself is the second highest commandment, not the other way around. Christians could help for poor all the time, but they could only minister to Jesus in this way while Jesus was on earth.

 

3. In Mk 14:4-8, how do you feel when you believe you are doing God’s will, and other Christians criticize you?

A: Don’t be disappointed, and definitely don’t be surprised, because it has happened to many other Christians too.

Sometimes, like in Peter’s case in Galatians 2:11-12, it is because Peter needed to be criticized. Other times, such as in 2 Corinthians 10:1-12, Paul was criticized unjustly. In fact, some Christians were trying to stir up trouble for Paul in Philippians 1:15-16. Even when George Muller spend his life helping orphans and founding schools for them, he was criticized for “allowing the poor to rise above their station”.

   But remember, we are looking for a reward from God, not from people or other believers.

 

4. In Mk 14:4-8, some thought this sacrifice of a year of wages was just a waste of money. What would you say to people today who thinking giving years of your life, and your money to the Lord, as a waste?

A: Nard was an expensive perfume that came from a rare plant in India. It was usually in a totally enclosed jar. The neck was broken and all of the contents were used.

   When Judas saw this huge “waste” (in his opinion), that might have been a trigger for him to go to the priests to betray Jesus. While there is no defense of Judas we can at least understand Judas’ point of view. It would look like a big waste, if all the world revolved around money. Hopefully you have better judgment than Judas though.

 See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.757, the New International Bible Commentary p.1176, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1357 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.174 for more info.

 

5. In Mk 14:4-8, how can doing good things sometimes get in the way of doing the best thing?

A: We do many good things but we are not on earth just to do good things. We remain on earth now to serve and glorify God here. We do not do just any good things, but the best good things for us to do for the Lord.

 

6. In Mk 14:13, in the hustle and bustle of the city, why would a man carrying a jar of water stand out?

A: Men often carried wineskins, but seldom water jars. It was usually only women that carried water jars. See the New International Bible Commentary p.1176 and the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1358 for more info.

   As a side note, the Passover was to be eaten within the walls of Jerusalem according to Mishnah Pesachim 7:9. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.758.

 

7. In Mk 14:21, why would it have been better for Judas if Judas had never been born?

A: It would have been better for Judas to have never existed than to do what he did and receive the just punishment for that. When Cultists Ask p.139-140 says that some cultists use this verse to try to say that Hell is compared to pre-birth, then Hell is non-existence. However, since Jesus said Judas’ punishment was worse than never being born, then Hell is not annihilation.

 

8. In Mk 14:21, we don’t know the primary reason why Judas decided to betray Jesus. When a person turns their back on another, what is the difference between doing it for greed, jealousy, or disappointment?

A: Some people betray for greed; for the advantage of thinking they can get all they can. They had nothing against the person they are hating by betrayal. The victim to them is just an object to exploit.

   But in other cases it might be personal. Because of their disappointment in what they see as a hopeless situation, they might want to betray the person, or at least get some benefit to repay them for the wasted time of believing them.

   When we don’t know Judas’ motives, they could be both of the above. Judas was the only non-Galilean member of the twelve. He never was one of the inner circle of Peter, James, and John.

 

9. In Mk 14:22; Mt 26:26-28; and Lk 22:19, why are the bread and wine not Christ’s physical body?

A: We can see that Jesus meant the bread and wine were His body symbolically for two reasons.
First, there is not a shred of evidence that people bowed down to the bread and wine, neither in the Bible nor in the early church. We are not to worship anything or anyone besides God. We worship Jesus, but if the bread and wine is not Jesus, we are not to worship bread and wine.
   Second, if a person took this metaphor as the bread and wine was or became Jesus, then to be consistent we would have to take other metaphors of Jesus' body as Jesus too, such as in 1 Corinthians 12:27. We (the church) are Christ's body. Do you think people should worship you, or worship the congregation that you attend? If neither, then why would you not worship a Christian, made in the image of God more than bread and wine, which are not made in God's image.
   Now of course we are not ever to worship other Christians. But would worshipping other people, and justifying it by Christ's metaphor, be worse than worshipping the bread and wine, and justifying it by Christ's metaphor?

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.177 for more info.

 

10. In Mk 14:24 what is interesting about the word “covenant” here?

A: The Greek language has two different words for covenant.

The word syntheke means an agreement negotiated between two parties.

The word diatheke means a proposal by just one part that the second party can only accept or reject. It is the second word that is used here.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.178 for more info.

 

11. Does Mk 14:24 show that Christ died for all people?

A: Yes. Even John Calvin says that “many” means “the whole human race”. Here is what John Calvin said in Calvin’s Commentaries vol.3 p.138-139 “Mark 14:24. This is my blood. I have already warned, when the blood is said to be poured out (as in Matthew) for the remission of sins, how in these words we are directed to the sacrifice of Christ’s death, and to neglect this thought makes any due celebration of the Supper impossible. In no other way can faithful souls be satisfied, if they cannot believe that God is pleased in their regard. The word “many” does not mean a part of the world, only, but the whole human race: he contrasts many with one, as if to says that he would not be the Redeemer of one man, but would meet death to deliver many of their cursed guilt.” (Italics in the original English translation.) Note that Calvin says, “many does not mean a part of the world, only, but the whole human race:”

 

12. In Mk 14:27, how would the disciples be offended at Jesus because Jesus did not defend Himself?

A: The Greek word here, skandalisthesesthe, is a strong word that means to turn away from someone because of taking offense at him. The disciples’ faith would be crushed when Jesus, with all His power, voluntarily submitted to capture, mistreatment, and death. A powerful Messiah would be expected to defend Himself and defeat the Romans, not to surrender to them.

   See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.178 for more info.

 

13. Mk 14:27-31, if a believer has sinned greatly and dishonored Jesus, especially in front of others, how do they get back?

A: A believer was has fallen away into sin they can repent and come back. God will forgive them. As Christians we should forgive them too, but they need to understand it can take time to rebuild trust again. The repentant believe should confess to God, but they should also confess to those who knew of their sin before. They should apologize, make restitution if appropriate, and promise not to do that again. Depending on the addictiveness of the sin, they might ask for some Christian friends to “walk with them” and hold them accountable that they do not fall back into the sin again.

 


Mark 14:32-72 – Gethsemane and Arrest - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 14:42-52, does this depict a Jesus who was at their mercy in contrast to the other Gospels depicting Jesus as in charge, as some liberals say?

A: Well, it does say that as Jesus prayed He was in such anguish, that He sweat drops of blood. Oh wait, that was only in Luke 22:44, not in Mark. It is rather “short-sighted” that liberal critics would say this about Mark, as Matthew 26:36-46 and Luke 40-46 also tell about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. John often tells of other things not in the first three gospels; it seems like John deliberately left out many things the other three gospels had already said.

   Since early times, Christians have recognized that Matthew stressed Jesus as the Promised King, who fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. Mark emphasized Jesus as the suffering servant and Jesus’ actions. Luke emphasized Jesus as a man, and Luke wrote most on Jesus’ childhood. John emphasized Jesus as God, and was probably written assuming the read had read the other gospels.

   On the other hand, Mark shows that Jesus is in charge too. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus knew what was coming and He had the opportunity to run away out of the Garden. But Jesus deliberately choose to embrace the Father’s will, not uncertain of the consequences, but knowing full well of the consequences.

 

2. In Mk 14:51-52, who was that “un-masked man”, who fled away without his clothes?

A: While Scripture does not say, tradition says it was John Mark, the writer of the Gospel of Mark. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.766, the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1360,  and the skeptical Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.905 also says the same, adding the speculation that “that the evangelist could not resist mentioning his presence at a key point in the story of Jesus.” It is almost as though Mark is indirectly saying, “See I was there”.

 

3. In Mk 14:53-55, how did the Sanhedrin violate Jewish law here?

A: They violated their own legal system at least five times.

1) They were not to have court cases at night

2) It was the judge’s responsibility to stand on the side of the accused.

3) They did not have two corroborating witnesses against Jesus.

4) In Jewish law you could not be convicted on your own testimony.

5) They were supposed to wait 24 hours before pronouncing someone guilty.

(from a sermon by Tim Hawks at Hill Country Bible Church in Cedar Park, Texas 10/24/1997)

It was a rigged trial. How else would the “witnesses” be conveniently available, at the High Priest’s House, in the middle of the night?

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.768 for more info.

 

4. In Mk 14:62, did Jesus actually say He was the Messiah here?

A: Yes. Imagine how the stubborn priests felt when Jesus quoted Daniel 7:13-14 about Himself, coming on the clouds of Heaven. Their reaction, abusing Him and calling for His death in Mark 14:63-65 was the final straw in the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish religious establishment. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.450-451 for a more extensive answer.

 

5. In Mk 14:62, since Jesus would be sitting at the right hand of God the Father, how could He be coming, which implies movement?

A: Three points to consider in the answer.

All the time, “sitting at the right hand” is not just a physical location, but a position of honor.

At different times, Jesus can sit, stand, and move.

Of course, one can both sit and be coming if one is riding a white horse, as Jesus will be in Revelation 19:11.

   See Jesus Under Fire : Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus p.110 for more info.

 

6. In Mark 14:62 Jesus told the high priest he would see the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. But if the high priest died before Jesus returned, that would invalidate Jesus answer. So in Luke Jesus says “I am, and from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69) Jesus, Interrupted p.51

A: First what’s not the answer, and then the answer.

Not the answer: For some reason Ehrman did not want to bring up Matthew 26:64, where it says you (plural), so not just the high priest. However, it is a moot point, as all the Sanhedrin died before Jesus’ return.

The answer: Ehrman brings up two objections in one. The first objection is that the high priest (and actually all of the Sanhedrin) died before Jesus returned. The answer to that is that all the Sanhedrin, including the high priest, will see Jesus come. Revelation 1:7 promises that every eye will see Jesus when He returns, even specifically those who pierced him. Those who have died rejecting Jesus won’t escape encountering Him again.

   The second objection is that Luke, written after Mark appears to change from “you (singular) will see” to simply stating that Jesus would return. The key point of this His argument is weakened by a textual variant. Clement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.) quotes Mark 14:62 with you (plural) in Stromata book 6 ch.52 in the Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 p.574. We know that is it Mark and not another Gospel that Clement is quoting, because he explicitly tells us it is Mark.

 

7. In Mk 14:65, why did some of the people ask Jesus to prophesy who hit him here?

A: The Roman soldiers had a cruel game they played with prisoners called “three-fists”. Three soldiers would each put one of their fists under the prisoner’s chin. One of the soldiers would punch the prisoner and knock him out. When the prisoner regained consciousness, they would ask which soldier hit him. If the prisoner guessed wrong, the soldier who hit him won (and the person lost the bet). If the prisoner guessed right, the soldier who hit him would lose the bet. It seems that in all cases, the prisoner was the loser, too.

 

8. In Mk 14:66-68, what kind of love can stand the “test of fear”?

A: Peter was courageous, and he never stopped loving Jesus, but his love here did not stand the test of fear. However, at the end of Peter’s life, Peter was crucified, upside-down, and Peter’s love did stand the test of fear.

   Until Peter started talking his Galilean accent would not give him away. Unless he was talking first, the servant girl must have been close enough to Jesus and Peter at one time to be able to recognize Peter. Peter thought he could stay fairly close to Jesus without being detected. When he found out that they could discover who he was, then he had to decide what to do. Sometimes we can do something courageous for Christ, reasoning that we likely will not suffer because of it. But when we are discovered, then what do we do.

   Peter in this stressful moment valued his safety more than anything else, including denying Christ. What Peter should have done is left quickly, and as to whether or not they would catch him, leave the results to God.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.771 for more info.


Mark 15 – The Crucifixion - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 15:1-20 both the Sanhedrin and Romans reject Jesus as the Messiah, but for very different reasons. What are different reasons people today reject Jesus as their Messiah?

A: In Jesus time many thought Jesus’ claims were false, because Jesus did not meet their expectations for a political messiah. Today, if God watched us, some think there would not be hunger, suffering, or death. God does not fit their expectations.

   For the Romans, Jesus’ claim was misconstrued as treasonous to what they had already given their loyalty to. Jesus just did not fit in with what they had chosen to follow, and they had no desire, or courage, to change.

   Some reject Jesus for intellectual reasons, but they are a small number, and a smaller number than the people who claim to reject Jesus for intellectual reasons. More commonly people reject for emotional reasons, or else willful reasons when they realized what they would have to give up or change to follow Jesus, and they do not want to do that. Sometimes when people bring up intellectual objections to becoming a Christian it is really a legitimate reason in their mind. Other times it is just a smokescreen so that don’t feel guilty about not considering the claims of Christ.

   The Evangelical Bible Commentary p.796 also adds that Jesus refused to enter into a debate where justice cannot be realized.

 

2. In Mk 15:8-11, what is ironic about the people choosing Barabbas over Jesus?

A: Pilate probably thought it obvious that they would choose Jesus over a known robber. The Jews before the Romans accused Jesus of leading a rebellion, while many Jews were disappointed in Jesus for NOT leading a rebellion. While the Jews and Romans said Jesus had to die for treason, Barabbas was the one who actually committed treason. When the people rejected their rightful king, Jesus, in favor or a violent, rebel, they themselves rebelled violently 40 years later in 70 A.D., and the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.

   The document Papyrus Florentinus 61.59ff says the Roman Governor of Egypt, G. Septimus Vegetus, told an accused prisoner named Phibion, “Thou has been worthy of scourging, but I will give thee to the people (cited in Taylor, p.580).

   Barabbas’ full name was Jesus bar-Abbas, for Jesus son of Abbas, and Abbas is both a personal name and the name for father. Both were name Jesus. Barabbas as a rebel wanted to free his people too, but by human and violent means. The pseudo-son of a father was released, and the real Son of the Father was crucified. See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.9 p.176 and vol.8 p.773-774 for more info.

 

3. In Mk 15:14, why was Mark apparently so eager to try to place the blame on the Jews, as one liberal claimed?

A: First of all, archaeologists have found the courtyard where they think the crowd was, and it could not have held more than about 400 people. Thus, the crowd here was not all the residents and visitors to Jerusalem, but rather a very small subset the priests selected.

   Judas, the Jewish leaders, the Jewish people, the Romans, and even Jesus not running away, all had a role in what was the predetermined will of God (Acts 2:23). Here is a listing of the role of each. As you can see, Mark is no more severe on the Jewish people than the other gospel writers.

Judas: Matthew 26:14-16, 49-50; Mark 14:17-21,42,44-45; Luke 22:3-6,47-48; John 13:18,21,27; 18:2

The Jewish leaders: Matthew 26:57-58; 27:20; Mark 14:43,46,53-65; 15:1,3,10-11,31; Luke 22:2,52; 22:66-23:2; John 18:3,12-14,19-24,30

The Jewish people: Matthew 27:20-23,25; Mark 15:11-15; Luke 23:18,21,23

The Romans: Matthew 27:11-31; Mark 15:15-20; 16:24; Luke 23:24; John 18:33-19:3; 19:16

Jesus not running away: Matthew 26:39-46,53-54; Mark 14:35-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:4-11

 

4. In Mk 15:17, what was the significance of clothing Jesus in purple?

A: Purple cloth was expensive, being dyed from murex shells. In the Roman Empire, only the Emperor and his family were supposed to wear purple, though the Emperor, as a favor, could give his old clothes to others. The purple robe was mocking the fact that Jesus claimed to be a king.

 

5. In Mk 15:31, Jesus was mocked for claiming to save others while He was not saving Himself. How do you sometimes have to give up saving yourself to save others?

A: While we do not need to take needless risk, sometimes we need to do things with risk for the safety of others and to get the message of the gospel out to others. Safety is good, but if we value our safety above doing God’s will, then even safety can become an idol. See the Believer’s Bible Commentary p.1362 for more info.

 

6. In Mk 15:31-32, how effective a tactic is it for Satan to have someone mocked for obeying God?

A: Depending on the person, it can be effective. If a person values the praised of people more than praise from God, it can stop them cold. They can even rationalize it by thinking, if I maintain my popularity people will listen to me, and hence my witness, more. But if a person values God more than popularity, and obeying God more than creating results for God, then they will be glorifying God more than if they are trying to do a work for God on their own power.

 

7. In Mk 15:32, we are told that Jesus was put on a “cross” to be crucified: Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

The word for “cross” here in Greek is stauros, which James Strong defined as:

(4716) from the base of 2476; a stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (specifically) a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment); figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial; by implication, the atonement of Christ: --cross.[1]

Yet in I Peter 2:24, we are told that Jesus was crucified on the “tree”:

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

The word for “tree” in Greek is xulon, and is defined by Strong as:

(3586) from another form of the base of 3582; timber (as fuel or material); by implication a stick, club or tree or other wooden article or substance: --staff, stocks, tree, wood.[2]

The error here is obvious. The Greek word stauros means definitively a “cross”. There is no double meaning employed to the word. Whereas the word xulon can be translated interchangeably as “wood”, “staff”, “tree”, etc. but in the case of I Peter 2:24, it is translated as “tree”. Now we need to ask why would the word xulon was used in the first place when there is a more definitive word for it, stauros, if the verse really intends to mean the “cross”?

It is therefore obvious that the word xulon is indeed used for “tree” in I Peter 2:24, and therefore there is a contradiction with Mark 15: 32.

References

[1] James Strong, The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Thomas Nelson, 1996)

[2] James Strong, Op. Cit. (A Muslim asked this)

A: Jesus was put on a wooden cross, which came from a tree. Romans, Carthaginians, and Persians used stakes of wood with cross-pieces, not living trees. Using two words as synonyms for the same thing (such as staurus and xulon) is not a problem, any more than using two words for God in the Qur'an.

Peter says Jesus was hung on a tree (Acts 5:30; 10:39) yet Peter also says that Jesus was nailed to the cross (Acts 2:23).

Paul says Jesus was hung on a tree (Galatians 3:13; Acts 13:29), yet Paul also mentions the cross of Christ in Galatians 5:11; 6:12,14; 1 Corinthians 1:17,18.

   “Tree” and “cross” are used as synonyms; the same author uses both terms. Jesus was nailed to a tree; but it did not say a living tree.

 Of course, orthodox Islamic teaching also teaches that the “appearance of Jesus” was crucified too. Now there is a key issue about this crucifixion. Either:
a) It really was Jesus who was crucified, or
b) “The great switcheroo” Allah not only deceived the Jews and Romans into thinking Jesus was crucified when He really was not, Allah also deceived even Jesus' own mother, Jesus' disciples and all the early Christians, who preached Christ crucified. We have writings of Ignatius and Polycarp, disciples of the apostle John, and others who believed Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead. Even as a Muslim, you cannot blame Christians for believing Jesus was crucified, if you think that Allah deceived his own followers. “Allah is the greatest of deceivers” (Sura 3:54) If this Allah deceived Christians, and you do not have a problem with that, then could this Allah deceive Muslims too?

 

8. In Mk 15:33, what extra-Biblical evidence is there of “darkness was over the land” during Jesus’ crucifixion?

A: It is not reasonable to expect that every culture would record a darkness. For example, it is computed that a solar eclipse darkened Egypt on December 12, 504 B.C., yet there are no historical records, among the highly civilized Egyptians, or anyone else, about this. See http://www.informationblast.com/500s_BC.html for more info. This was during the Passover (i.e. a full moon), so it could not be a normal solar eclipse; this was an unusual darkness.

Nevertheless, the non-Christian Palestinian historian Thales (also spelled Thallus), wrote in 52 A.D., less than 20 years after the crucifixion. He wrote that darkness accompanied the crucifixion of Jesus.

   The Samaritan historian Thallus, not to be confused with the Greek philosopher Thales, was fairly well known.

pseudo-Justin Martyr’s Hortatory Address to the Greeks (after 165 A.D.) ch.9 p.277 mentions Thallus, Philo, Josephus, and others.

Theophilus to Autolycus ch.29 p.120 mentions Thallus, as well as the earlier Chaldean historian Berosus on p.121.

The Octavius of Minucius Felix ch.22 p.186 mentions the historian Thallus.

Tertullian’s Apology ch.19 p.33 mentions Thallus and Josephus.

Julius Africanus fragment 18 p.136.

Phlegon was a Carian Greek writer who wrote soon after 137 A.D.. He wrote that in the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad [33 A.D.] there was “the greatest eclipse of the sun” and that “it became night in the sixth hour of the day [12:00 noon] so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicea.” (The Case for Christ p.111.) Origen (225-254 A.D.) also mentions Phlegon writing about the darkness in the 13th or 14th book of the writer Phlegon. Origen Against Celsus book 2 ch.14 p.437, book 2 ch.33 p.445; book 2 ch.59 p.455.

Tatian’s Diatessaron (died 172 A.D.) section 51 p.123 says there as darkness when Jesus was crucified from the 6th to the 9th hour. Tatian’s Diatessaron (died 172 A.D.) section 52 p.123 says there was an earthquake when Jesus died.

Melito of Sardis (170-177 A.D.) says that the earth shook, the sun fled away, and the day was changed, for they could not endure their Lord hanging on a tree. From the Discourse on the Soul and the Body ch.2 Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.8 p.756

Irenaeus in Against Heresies (182-188 A.D.) book 4 ch.34 p.512 says, “And the points connected with the passion of the Lord, which were foretold, were realized in no other case. For neither did it happen at the death of any man among the ancients that the sun set at mid-day, nor was the veil of the temple rent, nor did the earth quake, nor were the rocks rent, not did the dead rise up, nor was any one of these men [of old] raised up on the third day, nor received into heaven… Therefore the prophets spake not of any one else but of the Lord, in whom all these aforesaid tokens concurred.”

Tertullian (c.200 A.D.) in On Fasting ch.10 vol.4 p.109 also mentions the darkness accompanying Jesus’ crucifixion. He also mentions it in An Answer to the Jews ch.12 p.170.

Hippolytus was bishop of Portus (222-235/6 A.D.). He mentions that for Jesus’ sake “the sun is darkened, the day has no light, the rocks are shattered, the veil is rent, the foundations of the earth are shaken, the graves are opened, and the dead are raised.” Against the Heresy of One Noetus ch.17 p.230

Julius Africanus (235-245 A.D.) discusses the darkness and earthquake when Jesus died, as documents by the historian Thallus in his third book of his History. Five Books of the Chronology of Julius Africanus ch.18.1 p.136.

The Ebionite Recognitions of Clement (c.211-250 A.D.) book 1 ch.42 p.88 says that Jesus suffered for us, the sun went dark, and the mountains torn asunder when he went to the cross. He rose again.

Origen (writing 225-254 A.D.) mentions the darkness over the land, and the tombs split open in Against Celsus book 2 chapter 33 p.445.

Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) “Word of God is led silently to the slaughter. And when at the cross of the Lord the stars are confounded, the elements are disturbed, the earth quakes, night shuts out the day, the sun,…” Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 9 ch.7 p.486

Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) mentions the earthquake in Matthew. Letter to the Bishop Basilides canon 1 p.94.

Arnobius (297-303 A.D.) in Against the Heathen book 1 ch.53 p.428 mentions the darkness during Jesus’ death.

Athanasius (318 A.D.) (Implied) says the sun was darkened and the earth shaken when the Savior died. The Incarnation of the Word ch.49.4 p.63

Lactantius (260-325 A.D.) earthquake the same hour that Jesus died and the sun suddenly withdrew its light and there was darkness from the sixth to ninth hours. The Divine Institutes book 4 ch.19 p.122

Alexander of Alexandria (313-326 A.D.) mentions how the tombs burst open, the earth was rocking and the lights were afraid and the sun and moon disappeared, the stars withdrew their shining when Jesus was suffering on the cross. Epistles on the Arian Heresy Epistle 5.6 p.301

After Nicea (325 A.D.)

Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.) (partial) “Creation is set free by the mediation of this Sin-offering; the very rocks lose their solidity and strength.” On the Trinity book 3 ch.11 p.65

Athanasius (c.371 A.D.) says “the sun withdrew his beams and the earth trembled and the rocks were rent,…” Personal Letter 61 (To Maximus) ch.2 p.578

Athanasius (356-360 A.D.) mentions that the veil was rent, the sun was hidden, the rocks torn asunder, and the dead in graves rose. Four Discourses Against the Arians Discourse 3 ch.29 p.424

Ephraim the Syrian (350-378 A.D.) says there was darkness and earthquake when Jesus’ died. Nativity Hymns hymn 3 p.273

Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) mentioned that the sun ran backward in Hezekiah’s time, and the sun was eclipsed for Christ. (First Catechetical Lecture 2 Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers p.12)

Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) says the sun grew dark during the crucifixion. First Catechetical Lecture 4 ch.10 Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers p.21 and the rocks were asunder. Lecture 4 ch.11 p.22

Gregory Nanzianzen (330-391) in discussing Jesus’ crucifixion says “He wrapped the visible world in darkness” and “…for the mysterious doors of Heaven are opened; the rocks are cleft, the dead arise. He dies, but He gives life, and by His death destroys death.” On the Son - Third Theological Oration ch.20 p.309

Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423/429 A.D.) Says the sun and moon were actually darkened in Christ’s time. He also mentions “the saving blood of Christ the Lord” Commentary on Joel ch.2 p.119

Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) mentions the darkness that occurred when Jesus was crucified. City of God book 3 ch.15 p.51

 

9. In Mk 15:44, why did Pilate marvel that Jesus was already dead?

A: Either Pilate just lost track of the time, or many crucified men lasted longer. Jesus had been flogged and beaten before being crucified. As an aside, Roman flogging was different than the 39 lashes of Jewish flogging. Roman flogging was with short whips embedded with metal attached to a strong wooden pole. It could cripple or even kill a person. Jesus was flogged by the Romans. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.418-419 and The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.9 p.527 for more info.

 

 

 


Mark 16 – The Astonishment of the Resurrection - some brief answers

 

1. In Mk 16:1-8, Mt 28:1-8, Lk 24:1-11, Jn 20:1-12, what is the significance of the women seeing the empty tomb?

A: Four points to consider in the answer.

a) While Jews did not embalm their dead, they did uses spices when they buried them. This was NOT at all a testimony of the women believing Jesus would rise from the dead. Rather, it was the women livingly coming to do their duty with a mixture of love and disappointment. Would you still serve God faithfully if you encountered disappointment?

b) In Greek and Latin culture women were thought less than men. If someone wanted to change the story to appeal more to the readers, they might had just omitted hits part, or else said the men saw the tomb first instead of the women. This indicates that they simply recorded what happened.

c) Similarly in Jewish culture women were though important, except that their testimony was considered worthless according to the Jewish Mishnah Rosh Ha-Shanah 1.8. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.798 for more info.

d) God could have given the honor of being the first to see Jesus resurrected to anyone, but He chose to give it to the women. Perhaps this is a sign for all cultures, including our own, that in general we should honor, believe and trust women just as much as men.

   See the New International Bible Commentary p.1180 for more info.

 

2. In Mt 28:1-8, Mk 16:1-8, Lk 24:1-10, and Jn 20:1-8, what happened when Jesus was resurrected?

A: Jesus was alive inside his physical body again. His real, scarred, physical body still could be touched (John 20:27; Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:39), and eat (Luke 24:41-43). Jesus said His post-resurrection body had flesh and bones in Luke 24:39, and I think you would agree that Jesus would know better than anyone else! However, Jesus’ body was a glorified physical body that could pass through walls (John 20:19-20) and disappear (Luke 24:31).

Tertullian (198-220/240 A.D.) Christ died for our sins and rose in his flesh. It is the very foundation of the gospel, our salvation. Five Books Against Marcion book 3 ch.8 p.328

Novatian (250/254-256/7 A.D.) He [Jesus] was raised again in the same bodily substance in which He died, is proved by the wounds of that very body, and thus He shows the laws of our resurrection in His flesh, in that He restored the same body in His resurrection which He had from us.” Treatise Concerning the Trinity ch.10 p.620.

Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) discusses what if Jesus only suffered in appearance. “If He suffered in appearance, and not in reality, Herod sat in judgment only in appearance; in appearance Pilate washed his hands of Him, and in appearance Judas betrayed Him. Caiaphas likewise delivered Him up in appearance; the Jews seized Him in appearance, and the apostles…. Even His blood was poured out in appearance; the Evangelists preached the Gospel in appearance; Christ came from Heaven in appearance, and He ascended in appearance. The salvation of mankind was also in appearance, and not in truth. Why then does Christ say, ‘I am the truth?’” Dialogue on the True Faith fifth part ch.851a p.149

   See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.506-508 and When Critics Ask p.395-396 for more info.

 

3. In Mk 16, what are parallels with other parts of Gospels and Acts?

A: In summary, every teaching in Mark 16 is in the other gospels or Acts except for one: drinking poison unharmed.

Here are the parallels between Mark 16 and other books of the Bible

Jesus rose early. Mk 16:2,9 Mt 28:1; Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1

Jesus rose on the first day of the week. Mk 16:2,9; Mt 28:1; Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1

Seven demons were cast out of Mary Magdalene Mk 16:9; Lk 8:2

Mary Magdalene / the women came to the tomb. Mt 28:1-8; Mk 16:9-10; Jn 20:1; Lk 24:1-10

Others did not believe at first. Mt 28:17; Mk 16:11; Lk 24:11

Appeared to two disciples. Mk 16:12; Lk 24:13-35

Still did not believe. Mk 16:13; Lk 24:36

Rebuked the 11 for unbelief. Mk 16:14; Lk 24:38-41

Command to preach to all. Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15; Lk 24:47-48

Believe and is baptized is save, not believe is condemned. Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38-39

Signs. Mk 16:17,22; throughout Acts

Cast out demons. Mk 16:17 and in Acts

Speak with new tongues. Mk 16:17; ~Acts 2:2-13

Bitten by snakes unharmed. Mk 16:17; Lk 10:19; ~Acts 28:3-6

Drink poison unharmed. Mk 16:18 – no others

Jesus ascended to Heaven. Mk 16:19; Lk 24:51; Acts 1:9-11

Jesus sat at the right hand of God Mk 16:19; Acts 7:56

They preached everywhere. Mk 16:20; Acts 1:8

 

4. In Mk 16:4, Mt 28:2; Lk 24:2, was the stone just “rolled” away?

A: No. The Greek word is better translated “hurled” than rolled. If the stone weighed a few tons, it would take an angel to hurl the stone away.

 

5. In Mk 16:8, since the women did not say anything to anyone, did they tell the disciples?

A: While they did not tell anyone on the way back from the tomb, they told everyone eventually, and the disciples were the first ones that they told. While telling no one could mean they did not tell even the disciples until after a delay, it is more likely that it means they told only the disciples and no one outside their small group. See When Critics Ask p.377 for a complementary answer.

 

6. In Mk 16:12, how did Jesus appear in another form?

A: This simply means the two men did not recognize Jesus when they were walking with Him. Jesus could have had different clothes on, and Jesus certainly would look different than he did when He was dead. Jesus was physically raised from the dead, in a glorified physical body. One cannot legitimately use this verse to say Jesus had different bodies, because them not recognizing Jesus does not prove a different physical body. See When Cultists Ask p.140-141 and When Critics Ask p.378-379 for more info.

 

7. In Mk 16:16, Jesus says: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned”. So, man has no choice. Man must believe, otherwise he would be condemned and punished. Where is the human freedom of religion or freedom of faith for man? How does Jesus force people to believe or they will be damned?

A: Nobody is forced to believe. But God did not give freedom without consequences, but freedom with consequences. If a person does not want to believe, after they die God will put them in another universe, where they have the freedom to exist forever apart from God. That place is called the Lake of Fire.

   But I agree if would not seem like much of a free choice if it was undeniably certain to all to either obey God or go to the Lake of Fire. That is where faith comes in to the picture. God gave us evidence that His Word is true, but God did not give us absolute certainty. If someone does not want to believe God, there is enough “wiggle room” for them to find reasons to doubt God and not believe. It is interesting that we can initially reject believing in God, and then repent and believe in Him, and be saved. Angels and demons on the other hand, don’t have free will in exactly the same way that we do. They cannot deny it. And when a demon falls, there is no repentance granted. Christ came to redeem only people, not angels or demons as Hebrews 2:16 says.

 

8. Mark 16:17-18 says: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover”. And Paul put a list with these same abilities as the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:10; 12:8). Does this mean that these are the signs of true faith? Should all believers have these gifts throughout the days? Why we no more see these signs in Christians?

A: The Holy Spirit has given every Christian a spiritual gift, and different Christians have different gifts, though many of them are not spectacular-looking. Just as different members of our body have different functions, we have different functions within the church (1 Corinthians 12:14-27) All are not supposed to speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:30) just as all are not apostles and prophets (1 Corinthians 12:29).

 

9. In Mk 16:18, does this mention of picking up serpents justify people in Appalachia who think some are supposed to handle snakes in worship?

A: No. Even without this verse, the Bible shows that God gives Christians the protection they need, and God will perform miracles, and not just limited to immunity to snakebite, when there is need. However, even with this verse, the Bible is saying that we are not to test God by putting ourselves in a position simply to show off.

   Exodus 17:2-7; Numbers 14:22; Deuteronomy 6:16, Psalm 78:17-18, 40-41, 56-57; 95:8-9. Ahaz is the exception that proves the rule. While Ahaz was familiar with the concept of testing God and was not going to test God in Isaiah 7:12, it is not testing God to answer when a prophet of His asks you a question.

   See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.790 for more info.

 

10. Was Mk 16:9-20 written by Mark?

A: Genuine Christians disagree if Mark 16:9-20 was originally present.

External Evidence That Says Yes

182-188 A.D.

Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.10.5 p.426. (Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, disciple of John)

“Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: “So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God;” (quotes all of Mark 16:19)

c.172 A.D.

Tatian’s Diatessaron sections 53:6a,8; 53:35b,37,39a,61b; 55:3,5b,8-10; 12a, 13b,16

Mark 16:9 (full quote); 16:10b; 16:11 (full quote),12a,13b, 14f (20/21 words quoted), 15f (11/14 words quoted), 16-18 (full quote),19a (10/19 words quoted),19f (9/19 words quoted),20 (full quote)

200 A.D.

Tertullian Treatise on the Soul ch.25

“not of one only, as in the case of Socrates' own demon; but of seven spirits as in the case of the Magdalene” (However this specific teaching, that seven demons were cast out of Mary Magdalene, is also in Luke 8:2.)

198-220 A.D. Tertullian On the Resurrection of the Flesh ch.51 p.584 and also Against Praxeas ch.2 p.598; ch.30 p.627

Jesus sitting on the right hand of the Father is from Mark 16:19, but is in other verses (Mt 26:64; Mk 14:62; Lk 22:69; Acts 2:34; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3,13; 8:1 too, so this is not a unique reference. Tertullian does not quote scripture often but alludes to scripture very often. So Tertullian cannot be used as proof that Mark 16:19 was in Mark, but he is not evidence against it.

198-220 A.D. Tertullian Scorpiace ch.15 p.648

“It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.’ But even now it will be right that he hear it, seeing that, long after, he has poured forth these poisons, which not even thus are to injure readily any of the weak ones, if any one in faith will drink, before being hurt, or even immediately after, this draught of ours.” (somewhat allegorical allusion to drinking poison unharmed)

3rd/4th century. Curetonian Syriac translation

 

Aphrahat (337 A.D.) Select Demonstrations Demonstration 1 ch.17 p.351

Quotes all of Mark 16:16, then all of Mark 16:17-18

Apostolic Constitutions book 6 section 3 ch.15 (latest parts in the c.380 A.D.)

For the Lord says, … ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.’” (quotes Mark 16:16)

Apostolic Constitutions (375-380 A.D.) book 7 section 1 ch.1 (cf. book 5 and book 8)

Quotes verbatim Mark 16:17-18 as by Jesus Christ

Victor of Antioch c.425-450 A.D.

 

Nestorius (444 A.D.)

 

Cyril of Alexandria (444 A.D.) accepts as Scripture Nestorius' quote

 

c.450 A.D.

Alexandrinus manuscript

 

Hesychius of Jerusalem (after 450 A.D.)

 

Some 3rd-4th century Bohairic Coptic

 

3rd-4th century Sahidic Coptic

 

5th century

Freer Gospels

 

400-500 A.D.

Ephraemi Rescriptus Manuscript

 

Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (360-370 A.D. or the 5th or 6th century)

gives a paraphrase of Mark 16:9-20

400-600 A.D.

Codex Bezae manuscript

 

~700 A.D. an

extensive Byzantine text family

 

Later Bible texts (At least 38 total texts)

Philoxenian Syriac, Harclean Syriac, Palestinian Syrian, Ethiopic, some Georgian (from the fifth century), Slavonic, Italic, Vulgate, Fayyumic Coptic

Fyi, the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus I and II mentions speaking in new tongues, serpents, and poisons, but this is probably written later. Note that one source says Justin Martyr’s First Apology ch.45 (p.178 refers to Mark 16, but this is incorrect.

Internal Evidence That Says Yes: None.

External Evidence That Says No

c.360 A.D.  Eusebius Questions to Marianus I

325-350 A.D.  Vaticanus: blank space there. Vaticanus does not have any other blank spaces like this in the entire manuscript.

340-350 A.D.  Sinaiticus: blank space there. However, according to www.LogosResourcePages.org/uncials.htm, you can see where this text was in Sinaiticus, but it was pumiced out (erased).

Note that in Sinaiticus and Vaticanus the Gospel of Mark ends with the word “for” (gar in Greek). No other book in Greek literature has ever been found that ends in the word “for”. On the other hand, there are many examples of Greek sentences and paragraphs ending in this word.

193-217/220 A.D. Clement of Alexandria

225-254 A.D.  Origen

406/407 A.D.  Jerome, Epistle 120 (To Hedibia)

At least 6 other ancient manuscripts

Sinaitic Syriac

900-1000 A.D. Armenian manuscript says added by Aristion, whom Papias mentions

Some Georgian (from the fifth century)

Internal Evidence That Says No

Abrupt change in pronouns from verse 8 to verse 9. The subject of verse 8 is the women, while the pronoun in verse 9, anastas, is masculine. However, other places have abrupt changes in pronouns too, such as He = Joseph of Arimathea in Mk 15:46; he = Jesus in Mk 15:47 and they = Mary, Mary and Salome in Mark 16:1.

Vocabulary: 1/3 of significant Greek words not used or used differently in rest of Mark. There are 166 words total, and 101 distinct words. Ignoring proper names, “the”, etc. there are 75 distinct important words. 15 of them, (including apistia (without faith) and sklerokardia (stubborn refusal to believe) are used elsewhere in Mark. 11 others are used in a different sense. (See The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol.8 p.790,792 for more info.)

Dry facts: seems to lack lifelike detail of the rest of Mark.

Gospel Similarities: Matthew and Luke parallel Mark until the end of verse 8.

   For more information read John D. Grassmick’s commentary on Mark in The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament.

External Evidence that Says It Is Unclear: Over 8 ancient manuscripts are missing all of Mark 16. They include p45 (Mark 12:29 and on were lost)

2386 - missing the entire page

1420 - missing the entire page

16 - damaged and missing all of Mark 16:6 on

304 - includes text plus commentary

A shorter ending to Mark

Bohairic Coptic [Boh] 3rd/4th century

Ethiopic [Eth] from c.500 A.D.

A Catalogue of Manuscripts of Mark

P45   Papyrus 45 (225) ~ damaged

B  Vaticanus (325-350) ~ omission

À  Sinaiticus (340-350) ~ omission

A  Alexandrinus (c.450) ~ inclusion

C  Ephraemi (450) ~ inclusion

D  Bezae (500?) ~ inclusion

L  Regius (750) ~ double inclusion

M Campianus (850) ~ inclusion

N  Purpureus Petropolitanus (550) ~ damaged

U  Nanianus (900) ~ inclusion

W Washington (400) ~ inclusion with Freer Logion

D  Sangellensis (900) ~ inclusion

Q  Koridethi (800?) ~ inclusion

P  Petropolitanus (850) ~ damaged/inclusion (lacks 16:18-20)

S   Rossanensis (550) ~ damaged/inclusion (lacks 16:14-20)

F  Beratinus (550) ~ damaged

Y  Laurensis (850) ~ double inclusion (exemplar with Short Ending implied)

The f1 miniscules (1, 118, 131, 209, 1582) ~ inclusion with note or sigla

The f13 miniscules (13, 346, 543, 826, 828, 69, 124, 788, 983, 1689) ~ inclusion

28 (1100’s?) ~ inclusion

33 (1000) ~ inclusion

157    (1100) ~ inclusion

565    (800’s) ~ inclusion

579    (1200’s) double inclusion

700    (1100’s?) ~ inclusion

892    (950?) ~ inclusion

1071  (1100’s) ~ inclusion

1342  (1000’s) ~ inclusion

1424  (800’s) ~ inclusion

Taken from Mark 16:9-20, a Study of the External Evidence, by Jim Snapp II (2003)

Teaching Unique to Mark 16:9-20

Every doctrine or concept in the longer ending of Mark is found elsewhere in the Bible except for four things:

1. Jesus had earlier driven seven demons out of Mary Magdalene.

2. Signs to accompany those who believe:

[when compelled], can safely pick up snakes with hands. (Luke 10:19 says they could trample snakes and scorpions, which is similar to Mark 16). Also an example is given in Acts 28:3-6 of Paul getting bitten by a viper with no harm done to him.

3. [when compelled], can safely drink deadly poison.

4. This is the most severe rebuke recorded that Jesus gave to the disciples.

Content absent: Mark 14:28, 16:7 does not mention a Galilean appearance of Jesus.

Conclusion: If Mark 16:9-20 was wrongly added to some manuscripts, it was first added before 150 A.D. If it was wrongly taken out, then it was taken out before 217 A.D.

   See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.32 and When Critics Ask p.377-378 for more info, and the New Geneva Study Bible p.1597 for a concise summary of the pros and cons.

 

11. Should Mk 16:9-20 be considered scripture like the rest of Mark?

A: Of course it should if Mark wrote it. However, some Christians say that because of its early inclusion and widespread acceptance, it is still scripture, even if it was written by a secretary or someone else instead of Mark. Bruce Metzger apparently held this view.

  The New International Commentary on the Bible p.1180 says that Mark could have written a different ending that was lost, and that another Christian writer might have added this afterwards.

 

by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.