Mark 6:7-8:21

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Home > The New Testament > Mark > Chapters 1-8a > Chapters 6b-8a / Verses 6:7-8:21
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  • Mark 6:8: Scrip. "Scrip" (Greek pera) in verse 8 refers to a wallet or small leather bag.
  • Mark 6:11. The second sentence of verse 11 ("Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.") is not included in all manuscripts. It is often omitted from modern translations.
  • Mark 6:14. It appears from verse 14 that John the Baptist had become extremely well-known and was recognized as a prophet by many.
  • Mark 6:14-29. Mark seems to place great importance on John the Baptist, not only opening his gospel with an account of him but also devoting 16 verses here to his death.
  • Mark 6:26. It is interesting that Mark's account of John the Baptist's death seems surprisingly sympathetic to King Herod. Mark notes that Herod felt bad about having to have John killed (verse 26), and that Herod in fact respected John. It is as if Herod's sin isn't one of murder but one of naivete over what Herodias was willing to ask for. Mark certainly doesn't justify the killing, but neither does he condemn it in a way that might be expected. This approach is in keeping with Mark's style, which is almost journalistic, presenting the facts with little direct interpretation (in contrast with, for example, John's gospel, which is highly interpretive).
  • Mark 6:30-34. The picture painted in verses 30-34 is one of Jesus and his disciples wanting to get away for a much-needed rest. Spending some time away from the crowds is apparently their intent until Jesus sees the crowd of people. Here, their need isn't one of physical healing, but of being taught, so Jesus obliges.
  • Mark 6:34. As in verse 34, in Matthew 9:36 it is stated in a different context that Jesus had compassion on people because they were like sheep without a shepherd. These are the only two instances in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) where Jesus is referred to as a shepherd, although the term is used several times in the gospel of John. Examples in John include John 10:11 and John 10:14, where Jesus says, "I am the good shepherd."
  • Mark 6:36-37. This may have been a lesson for the 12 disciples as much as the people present. After Jesus told them (verse 36) to get something for the people to eat, their response is almost a sarcastic one (verse 37), something along the lines of "What are we supposed to do? Go spend $10,000 getting these people something to eat?" Clearly, they did not know what would happen next.
  • Mark 6:37. The word translated as "pennyworth" is the Greek denarii, plural of denarius, a silver coin weighing almost 4 grams. It is believed to be the amount a common worker would earn in about a day.
  • Mark 6:44. The word translated as "men" in verse 44 is aner, which usually refers to adult males specifically, rather than anthropos, which in the King James Version is translated the same way but usually refers to people in general. So, as indicated in Matthew 14:21, there were additionally many women and children who were fed.
  • Mark 6:48. The "fourth watch of the night" would have been between 3 and 6 a.m.
  • Mark 6:49. The Greek word translated as "spirit" is phantasma, a ghost. It is not the same word as pneuma, which is used, for example, to refer to the Holy Spirit.
  • Mark 7:3: Hand washing. In their ritual cleaning, the scribes and Pharisees in this story went far beyond what the law of Moses required, but they put compliance with these rituals on the same level as complying with the law that had been revealed. As Jesus notes later (verse 8), they were following human tradition. Jesus doesn't criticize the following of such traditions per se, but rather the hypocrisy in this case of the way it was done.
  • Mark 7:6: Hypocrites. Our English word "hypocrites" is little changed from the Greek word (hupokrites). The Greek word earlier referred to a stage actor and came to mean someone who pretends to be someone or something he is not.
  • Mark 7:11: Corban. Corban is a Hebrew word referring to something set aside as a gift to God, and this is the only place in the New Testament where the word is used. Jesus is referring to a practice at the time where someone would pronounce certain money or goods as corban, meaning that the resources would be irrevocably committed to God and thus unavailable for other purposes including the honoring of one's parents.
  • Mark 7:14-23. In verses 14-23, Jesus shows that he is far more concerned about what is going on inside of a person, about the person's inner qualities, than he is about outside conformity with rules that aren't all that important. He does this in quite strong language, even suggesting (in verse 19) that the Jewish dietary laws are irrelevant. His railings are directed most against the hypocrisy of those who follow the details of some laws while ignoring what's more important.
Of the sins listed in verses 21-22, some are sins of behavior (murder, sexual immorality), while others are sins of the heart (covetousness, pride, foolishness). But Jesus emphasizes that all of them are first and foremost something that happens from within. Jesus here isn't calling for stricter adherence to law, but rather for inner change that manifests itself in righteous living.
  • Mark 7:15: Defile. The Greek verb for "defile" (koinoo) as in verse 15 generally means to make something ritually unclean.
  • Mark 7:19: Draught. "Draught" (Greek aphedron) refers to a place where human waste is dumped. Modern translations of the word include "waste," "latrine" and "sewer." "Purging" is the Greek katharizo (related to the English "catharsis"), meaning to purify or make clean. In essence, Jesus is saying that (ritually) unclean foods don't hurt people, because they end up going in the waste anyway.
  • Mark 7:20, 23: Defile. The Greek verb for "defile" (koinoo) as in verse 20 generally means to make something ritually unclean.
  • Mark 7:24-30. This is one of the more interesting stories in Mark, both because of the somewhat unusual behavior of Jesus as well as the insight it gives into the times.
First, it should be noted that it was unusual in this culture for women to approach men with direct requests such as this. At best, she would have been seen as pushy. In fact, from the account given in Matthew, it appears that the disciples were annoyed with her and merely wanted to get rid of her. Since there would have been little reason for a Greek woman to learn Aramaic, she probably wasn't even speaking their language. (This story is one indication that Jesus may have spoken Greek in addition to his native Aramaic.)
Jesus here is no less accommodating at first. In the Matthew account, he doesn't even answer her. Here he suggests that his ministry is toward the Jews, and he compares non-Jews to dogs. To a casual observer, Jesus and the disciples would have even appeared rude, and it would have appeared that the woman wasn't going to get the help she so desperately wanted for her daughter.
And then the story changes, and it is the woman who changes it. She very easily could have become rude in response. Instead, she responds with a witty retort — but even the dogs get something. At this point, one can almost imagine Jesus and his disciplines doing a double-take; this wasn't the likely response, and it was one that certainly would get attention.
So Jesus heals her daughter and praises the woman for what she has done. This follows a pattern of what we have seen in Mark, that Jesus heals people because of the faith they (or their relatives) have shown.
  • Mark 8:16ff. The disciples are portrayed here as being very slow to learn. After seeing Jesus twice make sure that thousands were fed, they still worry about not having enough to eat.

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  • Mark 6:8-9. Why did Jesus insist that the disciples go out with the barest of essentials?
  • Mark 6:52. Why were the disciples' hearts hardened?
  • Mark 8:4. Why do the disciples have to ask the question of verse 4? After the feeding of the 5,000, surely they should have known that the food would be provided.
  • Mark 8:11. What type of sign were the Pharisees looking for in verse 11? It seems like Jesus had already given plenty of signs. And what does Jesus mean when he says no sign would be given in this generation?
  • Mark 8:15. What is Jesus warning about in verse 15?


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