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Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

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Mark 7

This chapter details the clash regarding the traditions of the elders (Mark 7:1-23), the healing of the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30), and the healing of the deaf-mute man of Decapolis (Mark 7:31-37). The first and longest of the three sections may be further subdivided thus: (a) the question of ceremonial defilement (Mark 7:1-8); (b) the counter-charge of Jesus (Mark 7:9-13); and (c) an explanation of the source and nature of real defilement (Mark 7:14-23).


 
Verse 1
And there were gathered together unto him Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, who had come from Jerusalem.

The presence of the scribes and Pharisees should be understood as the result of the hierarchy's monitoring Jesus' teachings with a view to finding fault. These were, in effect, spies sent out from Jerusalem for the purpose of reporting the Saviour's activities to those in Jerusalem who hated him and were determined to be rid of him.


 
Verse 2
And had seen that some of his disciples ate their bread with defiled, that is, unwashen hands.

The defilement which the scribes and Pharisees thought they observed in the conduct of the Lord's disciples did not pertain to health or hygiene, but had exclusive reference to their omission of the ceremonial washing of hands as required by religious custom of the Jews. Such customs, although no part of God's law, had been elevated to a place of importance even beyond God's law. Barclay tells of a rabbi who was imprisoned by the Romans and who "used the water which was given to him for handwashing rather than for drinking, and in the end nearly perished from thirst, because he was determined to observe the rules of handwashing." F1


 
Verses 3, 4
(For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands diligently, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders; and when they come from the market place, except they bathe themselves, they eat not; and many other things there are, which they have received to hold, washings of cups, and pots, and brasen vessels).

These two verses are a parenthesis containing Mark's explanation of Jewish religious customs for the benefit of his Roman readers. John mentioned the six waterpots at the wedding in Cana which apparently formed part of the standard equipment in every Jewish home and were used for the numerous washings here mentioned. Significantly, the words "bathe" and "washings" in this passage are from Greek words meaning "baptize" and "baptizings" (English Revised Version (1885) margin), indicating that the pots, etc., were not merely sprinkled but plunged into water. All of the customs or rules in view here were part of the oral traditions advocated by the Jewish leaders. "The elders" refers to the ancient authors of such observances.


 
Verse 5
And the Pharisees and scribes ask him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with defiled hands?

This question of his critics was unworthy of any answer from Jesus; and it is of significance that he did not answer it at all, but on the contrary addressed himself to the prior question regarding the invalid and ridiculous stress that they laid upon their traditions.


 
Verses 6, 7
And he said unto them, Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men.

The Scripture to which Jesus here referred is Isaiah 29:13. Jesus charged his critics with two violations of God's law: (1) they were hypocrites, pretending a piety they did not have, affirming a love of God they did not have, and voicing a religious concern which was non-existent within them; (2) they had substituted the precepts of men for the word of God.

REGARDING HUMAN TRADITION IN WORSHIP

As clearly as Christ could have stated it, the principle is laid out here that the worship of God which consists in the observance of human precepts and traditions is vain and useless. Thus, the question of overwhelming importance regarding the worship of God must ever be the question of authority. Would not Jesus say the same thing of many so-called Christian observances of our own times? Are not the traditions and precepts of men the principal guidelines that men follow? Where has God ever commanded all of the things that people are doing in the name of His holy religion? In numerous innovations which human beings have imported into God's worship, in the actions which they have substituted for the baptism that Christ commanded, in the systems of government that they have invented for the control of their churches, and in the countless human opinions that have been substituted for the plain teachings of the word of God, in all these things and many others, people are operating under the traditions and precepts of men, rather than under the teachings of the Lord. The warnings of this passage should be heeded. For further comment on human tradition in religious worship, see my Commentary on Matthew, pp. 225-226.


 
Verse 8
Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.

See under the preceding verses. The universal experience of the human race throughout the centuries has been that human traditions, when received into the worship, tend ultimately to deny and contradict God's word. An excellent example of this is infant baptism, a human tradition having no support whatever in the New Testament, but which has been widely accepted and made the excuse for man's refusal to "repent and have themselves baptized" as God commanded.


 
Verse 9
And he said unto them, Full well do ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition.

Full well ...
Cranfield paraphrased this as "You are making a good job of rejecting the commandment of God. F2 Nothing so effectively and emphatically denies and contradicts the word of God as some human tradition received and honored in place of it.


 
Verse 10
For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death.

In this verse, and following, Jesus gave a glaring example of how human tradition had violated and circumvented the word of God. Incidentally, Christ here recognized Moses as the author of the law which he also called "the word of God" in Mark 7:13, contrasting the true authority of the Old Testament with the human traditions substituted for it.

The Pharisees claimed that their traditions were a hedge around the law to PROTECT it; but as Sanner noted, it was no such thing, but "a massive human subversion of it." F3 Christ's charge against them so particularly spelled out in the presence of the people was certain to infuriate them.


 
Verses 11, 12, 13
But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or his mother, That wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me is Corban, that is to say, Given to God; ye no longer suffer him to do aught for his father or his mother; making void the word of God by your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things ye do.

Corban ...
"Corban is a Hebrew word, meaning `that which is brought near,' or `a gift or offering to God.'" F4 Sanner declared that:

If a son in anger vowed to make a gift (perhaps to the Temple) of possessions really needed for the support of his parents, the vow was binding thereafter, no matter what distress it caused ... It also became a barrier to some repentant son who regretted the vow and wished to break it. The Pharisees would not suffer him to do anything for his father and mother (Mark 7:12). F5

There could have been no better example of nullifying the word of God by means of a human tradition than the case here cited by Jesus.

Many such like things ye do ...
Christ fingered this one example out of many that could have been mentioned. In fact, the total corpus of the word of God had been countermanded and nullified by the hair-splitting traditions of the Pharisese.

THE SOURCE AND NATURE OF DEFILEMENT

In Mark 7:14-23, Christ addressed himself to the question of defilement, that being the charge against his disciples by the Pharisees. Before dealing with this, however, Christ exposed the casuistry and wickedness of the entire system of human traditions to which they were giving such strict attention and obedience. Indirectly, this was an answer to the Pharisees' charge, "because, by showing that the tradition of the elders can lead men to disregard the Law itself, he has shown that it must not be accepted without question." F6


 
Verses 14, 15
And he called to him the multitude again, and said unto them, Hear me all of you, and understand: there is nothing from without the man, that going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are those that defile the man.

God's dealings with ancient Israel had indeed forbidden the eating of certain meats, the regulations regarding clean and unclean creatures having had practical as well as symbolical value to the chosen people; and the words of Christ in this place are not to be understood as any kind of denial of the validity of the Law of Moses, which Christ equated with "the word of God" in Mark 7:13, immediately preceding. Christ here did for the law concerning defilement exactly what he did with regard to the Decalogue itself in the Sermon on the Mount, claiming his own authority as sufficient right to extend, change, and modify God's ancient Law. Inherent in these words of the Master is the affirmation of his own deity.

The thing to which Christ addressed his remarks here was the gross externalism which had grown to characterize the Pharisees' interpretations of the sacred Law, their fantastic charge that Christ's disciples had become defiled by their violation of Pharisaical rules concerning washing of hands being a glaring example of it. Taking a great leap forward into the future dispensation, already dawning, Jesus here announced the abrogation of the divine rules regarding clean and unclean meats, which abrogation necessarily included all derivatives and corollaries of such regulations. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ abolished the commandment which says, "Thou shalt not kill," substituting another in its place; and making anger in the heart to be the equivalent of murder (Matthew 5:21,22). In this exceedingly significant passage, Jesus abolished the laws of diet and ceremonial uncleanness, for the simple reason that these were only external to begin with, designed for teaching spiritual realities, and having been made even more useless and burdensome by the Pharisaical interpretations fastened upon them. Jesus substituted in the place of those ancient rules the holy requirement of moral and spiritual purity, internal cleanness instead of external observances.

This is as good a place as any to notice a hurtful and illogical deduction which some have made, basing it, as they have supposed, on Jesus' teaching in this passage. Barclay wrote:

There is no commoner religious mistake than in identifying good with certain so-called religious acts. church-going, Bible reading, careful financial giving, even time-tabled prayer do not make a man a good man. ... We must have a care that we never allow rules and regulations to paralyze the claims of charity and love. F7

The implication of such a view is that God's rules and regulations, in some cases, are capable of paralyzing the claims of love and human need; and that implication is false. God's "commandments are not grievous" (1 John 5:3); it is the ridiculous and burdensome commandments of men which are grievous and burdensome (23:4; Luke 11:46). The very strictest observance of God's rules and regulations is impossible of becoming grievous or burdensome.

The other implication, in such interpretations as those of Barclay, which is sinful and unjustified is that divine law may be set aside wherever and whenever "human need" or "love" might require it. There is no sin which clever rationalists may not justify upon such a premise. The error here is twofold: (1) It supposes that ANY MAN may contradict divine law to fulfill what is called "human need," thus usurping a prerogative which pertains to the divine Son of God only. There is a world of difference in what Christ here did and what any mortal would be doing if he attempted the same thing. It was Christ's right to change divine law; man does NOT have that right; (2) Church attending, Bible-reading, and prayer were specifically cited by Barclay as things which cannot, when taken alone, make people good; and this is true in a limited sense. However, the implication that people can be "good" in the Christian sense without doing such things is a base lie. Significantly, it is these very basic Christian duties that are denied and repudiated by the people who want to be "good" without obeying rules and regulations. Mere humanism can never be an adequate substitute for the holy faith that is in Christ Jesus; and it may be dogmatically affirmed that people who will not study the Holy Bible, and never attend church, and who do not pray have, by such omissions, placed themselves outside the promise of eternal life that is in Christ Jesus.


 
Verses 17, 18, 19
And when he was entered into the house from the multitude, his disciples asked of him the parable. And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Perceive ye not, that whatsoever from without goeth into the man, it cannot defile him; because it goeth not into his heart, but into his belly, and goeth out into the draught? This he said, making all meats clean.

Parable ...
as used here is a broad term meaning any dark saying.

It cannot defile ...
Here, in the words of Jesus Christ, is an end to all diet restrictions. All such things as eating fish on certain days, or refraining from swine's flesh, or vegetarianism, as well as all kinds of religious fads regarding diet, lose all significance in the light of these words.

Making all meats clean ...
Paul wrote that "Every creature of God is good (to eat), and nothing is to be rejected, if it be received with thanksgiving" (1 Timothy 4:3). This lifting of restrictions on diet was hard even for the apostles to accept; and long after Jesus said this, Peter affirmed that he had never eaten "anything that is common and unclean" (Acts 10:14). It may also be inferred from this that neither Jesus nor his apostles, during our Lord's public ministry, ever violated the true Old Testament laws regarding diet.

Furthermore, the vision which came to Peter (Acts 10:11-15) of all manner of four-footed beasts and creeping things with the injunction, "Rise, Peter: kill and eat," coming so significantly upon the occasion of God's sending Peter to the Gentile Cornelius, clearly indicates that clean and unclean meats were symbolic of the distinction that God made between Jews and Gentiles. This thesis is further supported by Jesus' extending his mercy to the daughter of the Syro-phoenician woman immediately after his teaching on meats, and which Mark recorded in close connection with it. See under Mark 7:24ff.


 
Verse 20
And he said, that which proceedeth out of the man, that defileth the man.

This truth appeared dramatic enough on the occasion when Jesus uttered it, but it was not a new thing at all, having been emphatically taught in the Old Testament. The "heart" is mentioned no less than 74 times in the Book of Proverbs alone where it is set forth as the fountain source of all that comes out of life. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). The Pharisaical shift of emphasis from the heart to externalism resulted from their evil nature and not from God's sacred law. In such a perversion, they were not innocent but guilty.


 
Verses 21, 22
For from within, out of the heart of evil men, evil thoughts proceed, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, covetings, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, railing, pride, foolishness: all these evil things proceed from within, and defile the man.

Here Jesus named a round dozen actions and vices which are the source of actual human defilement and contrasting sharply with the ceremonial defilement so important to the Pharisees. Sanner pointed out that in the Received Greek text the first six of these terms are plural and the last six are singular. "The former possibly refers to evil acts, the latter to moral defects, or vices." F8 This list is somewhat like similar lists in the Pauline writings, but Cranfield was doubtless correct in his repudiation of the idea that they were derived from that source. He stated that there are "no adequate grounds for thinking that this list cannot go back to Jesus." F9

Fornication and adultery ...
These words apply to every kind of traffic in sexual vice, whether of the married or the unmarried, whether of the homosexual or the heterosexual.

Thefts ...
Scholars tell us that there are two words in the Greek text for theft, [kleptes] and [lestes], the first meaning "pilferer" and the other "a brigand." Barabbas was the latter, Judas the former. [Kleptes] is the word here and thus includes the most petty and the tiniest acts of thievery without excluding the more audacious robbery practiced by a brigand. All such conduct defiles.

Murders ...
All violent deeds under this heading are proscribed; but, as is clear from the Sermon on the Mount, anger and insulting language against a fellow-mortal are equally blameworthy, being in fact murder, according to Jesus' own definition (Matthew 5:21,22).

Covetings ...
This, like most of the other sins in this list, was forbidden in the Decalogue. In the New Testament, coveteousness is not merely forbidden but classified as "idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). It must be supposed that this kind of idolatry motivates an inordinate amount of human behavior. How many are there whose sole passion in life would appear to be gaining and getting?

Wickednesses ...
Every form of unspiritual and ungodly conduct is meant by this; and the reference is not so much to specific acts as to a pattern of behavior. "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse" (2 Timothy 3:13), and the same is true of wickedness itself. The course of evil is downward and away from God.

Deceit ...
This word comes from [Greek: dolos] also translated "guile" and has reference to the cunning, craft, and ingenuity of deception. It is at the opposite pole from Christian sincerity. It was through this vice that the ancient Greeks introduced the Trojan horse into Troy and overwhelmed the city. Many a soul has been lost through the cunning deception of evil men as well as by yielding to the temptation to use such strategems against others.

Lasciviousness ...
From the Greek word [aselgeia], this word refers to the undisciplined soul, one who acknowledges no restraint, dares to perform any act of shame or lawlessness, and who lives in arrogant insolence without regard to considerations of decency or honor.

An evil eye ...
Sanner described this as envy, or a jealous grudge, the attitude that looks upon the good fortunes of others with envious hatred and which would cast an evil spell upon them if it had the power.

Railing ...
This word comes from [blasphemia], which means "speaking against." If against men, it is slander; if against God, it is blasphemy.

Pride ...
This is the principal characteristic of unregenerated man. It is the glorification of self. It is the first of seven deadly sins; and, when the Lord named seven things which are an abomination in his sight, a proud look headed the list (Proverbs 6:16). It is the absence from the heart of the awareness of God. Consciousness of the existence, presence, and power of God produces humility in the heart, inevitably convicting men of their own sin and unworthiness. Pride is the opposite of such consciousness of God.

Foolishness ...
As Barclay said, "This describes, not the man who is a brainless fool, but the man who, as we say, is playing the fool." F10 The foolishness meant here is the kind of living that is not guided by moral principle nor related to any sacred standards.

The conduct described by this awesome catalogue of sinful acts defiles man, the source of the defilement being the unregenerated heart which produces such actions. When one considers his own heart and the pride of life which blooms so readily in every conscience, remembering the moral defilement that inevitably accompanies every indulgence of such deeds, he must be suddenly aware of how helpless man is apart from the love and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. When it is considered that the unregenerated heart, the carnal nature, leads inevitably to all of the sins mentioned here, and that they come naturally to all men, it appears that man's plight is desperate. Merely forgiving such conduct is not enough. What is required in this area of human need is "the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5). When one is baptized into Christ, he is raised to walk in newness of life; and nothing short of a "new creation" is the solution of the problem of carnality.

THE HEALING OF THE DAUGHTER OF THE SYRO-PHOENICIAN WOMAN

This incident (Mark 7:24-30) has added significance because of its occurrence immediately after Christ's teaching regarding meats. The Gentiles were considered unclean and inferior by the Jews; but by his extension of mercy to the daughter of this woman of another race, Jesus gave his disciples a glimpse of the gospel for all people, and not merely for the chosen people alone. See under Mark 7:19, above.


 
Verses 23, 24
And from thence he arose, and went away into the borders of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered into a house, and would have no man know it; and he could not be hid.

As Dorris noted, "This is the only instance in the Lord's ministry when he went beyond the bounds of Palestine." F11 Tyre and Sidon were the principal cities of ancient Phoenicia and were among the most distinguished of antiquity.

Tyre was founded in the 15th century B.C. on an island about half a mile from the coast and was for generations the leading seaport of the Mediterranean sea. The infamous Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, King of Tyre; and God's prophets prophesied the doom of this wicked city, their predictions coming true when Alexander the Great, forced to pause in his mad conquest of the world for a whole seven months by the stubborn resistance of Tyre, at last overcame it in 322 B.C., slaughtering 10,000 of its citizens and selling another 30,000 into slavery. Paul spent a week there while his ship unloaded cargo on his journey from Ephesus to Jerusalem. It still exists as modern Lebanon.

Sidon, even older than Tyre, and its acknowledged mother, did not possess a fortress position like Tyre and quickly submitted to Alexander the Great. It was a rich and prosperous city on the seacoast, extolled in the poems of Homer, captured and annexed a dozen times by various world powers throughout history, and displaying the same gross wickedness that characterized her sister-city Tyre and linked both their names proverbially as symbols of carnality and corruption. Yet Jesus Christ said of these twin cities that it would be more tolerable for them in the day of judgment than for the cities of Israel who rejected their Messiah (Matthew 11:20-22). Paul once refreshed himself here. The city still lives under the name of Saida.

Despite the wickedness of the Phoenicians, their achievements were considerable. They are said to have invented the alphabet, developed the art of navigation to a point which enabled them to circumnavigate Africa in the 7th century B.C., and to have been skilled manufacturers of metal objects, textile fabrics, and a purple dye made from seashells. Hiram, King of Tyre, aided Solomon in building the temple.

And he entered into a house ...
This was the home of some unnamed friend of our Lord.

And he could not be hid ...
True both in context and intrinsically, this statement concerning Jesus Christ sheds perpetual light upon the Christ of glory. Not the sins, or indifference, or the hatred of men have been able to hide the light that lighteth every man.


 
Verse 25
But straightway a woman, whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, having heard of him, came and fell down at his feet.

Matthew (Matthew 15:21-28) added dramatic details omitted by Mark, giving the very words of the woman as she hailed Jesus as "O Lord, thou Son of David," thus identifying the woman as one who believed that Jesus was both "Lord" and the Jewish Messiah. The understanding and tact of this heathen woman in thus addressing the Saviour are amazing. She had done her homework well before appealing to the Lord for help. She prostrated herself at the Master's feet and poured out her appeal in the presence of men whom she had every reason to suppose would despise her. Great indeed was her faith!


 
Verse 26
Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by race. And she besought him that he would cast forth the demon out of her daughter.

A Greek ...
The word thus translated actually means "Gentile" (English Revised Version (1885) margin), her race being Syro-phoenician.


 
Verse 27
And he said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs.

Some have been puzzled by our Lord's attitude of discouraging this appellant for his mercy by such a reply as this; but we may readily believe with Trench that:

He saw in her a faith which would stand the test and knew that she would emerge victorious; and not only so, but with a mightier and purer faith than if she had borne away her blessing at once and merely for the asking. F12

To this, it may be added that this miracle was performed in the presence of the apostles; and there can be no doubt that Christ's words were designed for their instruction. By giving voice to the common Jewish prejudice against Gentiles, and in the light of the woman's response to it, Christ gave his apostles a never-to-be-forgotten example to prove God's wisdom in extending salvation to Gentiles. At a time when the leaders of Israel were plotting Jesus' death, this lowly Gentile, despite the Lord's apparent rebuff, persevered to claim his mercy. For more on this aspect of the miracle, see my Commentary on Matthew, pp. 231-233.

Children's bread ... the dogs ...
What Christ referred to by these expressions was the fact that his primary mission was to Israel, not to Gentiles, to God's "children," not to the "dogs," as the Gentiles were called by Jews. See Matthew's account (Matthew 15:21-28). Now the significant thing about that woman's faith was her perseverance in the face of such a reply. Would not most mortals have departed the scene with anger and resentment? The average person would have said, "He called me a dog; I hate him!" Such was the desperate hope of that poor woman, and such was her astounding faith, that she at once accepted Christ's judgment upon her and made his very words the basis of her continued appeal.


 
Verse 28
But she answered and said unto him, Yea, Lord; even the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs.

Yea, Lord ...
This says, "Yes, Lord, I indeed belong to the people called `dogs' by the Jews; but is it too much to ask that a LITTLE dog under the children's table might have just a crumb of the bounty which you have given to them?" This woman's reply was rich with the profoundest truth of all time. Note the implications of what she said: (1) By placing herself under the children's table, she laid claim to a place, lowly as it was, in the household of God. As Trench observed, the woman made this plea:

Saidest thou "dogs"? It is well; I accept the title and the place; for the dogs have a portion too, not indeed the first, not the children's portion, but a portion still - the crumbs which fall from the Master's table. F13

(2) She appealed not to the children, but to the Master. The children, as represented by the apostles, had stood adamantly by, not interceding on the woman's behalf, actually demanding that the Lord get rid of her (see Matthew); so there was no mercy for her in the hearts of the children; therefore, she appealed not to them but to the Lord! (3) She identified the table as not belonging to the children but as "their master's table"! (Matthew 15:27). God's mercies did not derive from the chosen people but from Himself. The table of God's benefits did not belong to the children but to God!


 
Verses 29, 30
And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the demon is gone out of thy daughter. And she went away unto her house, and found the child laid upon the bed, and the demon gone out.

Matthew gave the words of Jesus, "O woman, great is thy faith: be it done unto thee even as thou wilt" (Matthew 15:28). Amen and amen!


 
Verse 31
And again he went out from the borders of Tyre, and came through Sidon unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the borders of Decapolis.

THE DEAF-MUTE MAN OF THE DECAPOLIS

The journey of Jesus and his disciples traced in this verse was rather long and circuitous and fitted in with Jesus' purpose of privacy for the instruction of the Twelve and for avoidance of the territory controlled by his enemies. Tyre and Sidon were northwest of Jerusalem and the area of Decapolis was northeast.

The Decapolis was a league of ten cities, hence the name, which had been formed after the campaign of Pompey in 64-63 B.C. All of these except one were east of Lake Galilee and the upper Jordan valley. Belonging to this league were Damascus, Philadelphia, Raphana, Scythopolis, Gadara, Hippos, Dion, Pella, Gerasa, and Kanatha. Damascus alone retains any importance today. It should be recalled that this area heard the publication of the news of Jesus Christ by the Gerasene demoniac whom Jesus had healed (Mark 5:20).


 
Verse 32
And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to lay his hand upon him.

This indicates that many had believed the report of the former demoniac; and as a result, the people appealed to Christ on behalf of the deaf-mute.


 
Verses 33, 34
And he took him aside from the multitude privately, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.

He took him aside ...
The evident reason for this action was that Jesus was required by the man's deafness to communicate with him in sign language; and the Lord definitely did not wish to permit the multitude to have any basis for supposing that his touching the man's ears and tongue, or his use of spittle, had anything whatever to do with the man's cure, such actions being only part of the process of communication with the afflicted person. If the Lord had not done such things privately, some might have considered the Lord's healing to be accomplished magically, after the manner of Greek and Jewish magicians. As Sanner said:

(These were) acts evidently designed to arouse and fortify faith ... touching this tongue ... and his ears ... Jesus looked up to heaven with a sigh - a prayer without words. Jesus thus spoke in signs to the man who could not hear. His gestures declared (in a kind of pantomime) that with power from above and by the words of his own mouth he would open the closed ears and release the bound tongue. F14

Ephphatha ...
means "open completely," or "be opened," as Mark explained. It may be supposed that the deaf-mute read the Saviour's lips in this word, the very syllables of which would have made it easy to read visually on the lips of the speaker.


 
Verse 35
And his ears were opened, and the bond of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.

The cure was accomplished completely by the Saviour's word of command. The prophecy of Isaiah 35:5-6 that "The ears of the deaf shall be unstopped ... and the tongue of the dumb sing" was fulfilled by the Son of God.


 
Verse 36
And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it.

The type of thing that Jesus had done was too great and wonderful to be hidden. The Lord truly desired less publicity; his very purpose for having come to that part of the world certainly was, at least partially, due to his desire for privacy; but unregenerated people had little regard for the Lord's desires.


 
Verse 37
And they were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well; he maketh even the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Note that the people, when they saw the cure, did not say merely that "he has healed this man," but that "he has done all things well," showing that they recognized in the one example of it the mightiness of the power that could do "all things."


Footnotes for Mark 7
1: William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1956), p. 167.
2: C. E. B. Cranfield, The Gospel according to St. Mark (Cambridge: University Press, 1966), p. 236.
3: A. Elwood Sanner, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1964), Vol. VI, p. 330.
4: E. Bickersteth, The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1962), Vol. 16, p. 293.
5: A. Elwood Sanner, op. cit., Vol. VI, p. 330.
6: C. E. B. Cranfield, op. cit., p. 238.
7: William A. Barclay, op. cit., pp. 171-173.
8: A. Elwood Sanner, op. cit., Vol. VI, p. 332.
9: C. E. B. Cranfield, op. cit., p. 243.
10: William Barclay, op. cit., p. 178.
11: C. E. W. Dorris, The Gospel according to Mark (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1970), p. 178.
12: Richard Trench, Notes on the Miracles (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1943), p. 375.
13: Ibid., p. 373.
14: A. Elwood Sanner, op. cit., Vol. VI, p. 234.
15: C. E. W. Dorris, op. cit., p. 148.
16: C. E. B. Cranfield, op. cit., p. 203.
17: E. Bickersteth, op. cit., p. 245.
18: A. Elwood Sanner, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1964), p. 320.
19: E. Bickersteth, op. cit., p. 245.
20: Encyclopaedia Britannica, (Chicago: William Benton, Publishers, 1961), Vol. 11, p. 510.
21: J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. lxxxvi.
22: William Barclay, op. cit., p. 151.
23: Ibid., p. 153.
24: Ibid.
25: Henry E. Turlington, Broadman Bible Commentary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1946), p. 317.
26: Ibid., p. 317.
27: E. Bickersteth, op. cit., p. 246.
28: Ibid,
29: Ibid.
30: C. E. B. Cranfield, op. cit., p. 213.
31: Marvin Vincent, Word Studies of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1946), Vol. I, p. 175.
32: Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1955), Mark-Luke, p. 344.
33: E. Bickersteth, op. cit., p. 249.
34: Henry E. Turlington, op. cit., p. 322.
35: C. E. B. Cranfield, op. cit., p. 229.
36: William Barclay, op. cit., p. 164.
37: W. N. Clarke, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 63.
38: Richard C. Trench, op. cit., p. 294.
39: E. Bickersteth, op. cit., p. 159.
40: Elwood Sanner, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1964), p. 305.
41: Ibid.
42: F. N. Peloubet, Peloubet's Bible Dictionary (Chicago: The John C. Winston Company, 1925), p. 208.
43: W. N. Clarke, op. cit., p. 302.
44: A. Elwood Sanner, op. cit., p. 306.
45: Henry E. Turlington, op. cit., p. 306.
46: Richard C. Trench, Notes on the Miracles of Jesus (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1943), p. 156.
47: J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 655.
48: Ibid., p. 723.

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Mark 7". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=mr&chapter=007>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  


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