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Barnes' Notes on the New Testament

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Chapter 2
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Of Mark, the writer of this gospel, little is certainly known. He is commonly supposed to be the same that is several times mentioned in the New Testament. He was not an apostle, or companion of the Lord Jesus, during his ministry, though some of the Fathers affirm that he was one of the seventy disciples. This is improbable, as he is mentioned by Peter (1 Peter 5:13) as his son; from which it is supposed that he was converted by the instrumentality of Peter.

From the New Testament, we learn that he was sister's son to Barnabas, (Colossians 4:10;) and that his mother's name was Mary, a pious woman in Jerusalem, at whose house the apostles and primitive Christians often assembled, Acts 12:12.

His Hebrew name was John, (Acts 12:12,) and it is probable that he adopted a name better known, or more familiar, when he visited the Gentiles, a practice not uncommon in that age. He was at first the companion of Paul and Barnabas, in their journeys to propagate Christianity, Acts 13:5. He chose not to attend them through their whole journey, but left them in Pamphylia, and probably returned to Jerusalem, Acts 15:38. Probably at this time he was the companion of Peter, and travelled with him to Babylon, 1 Peter 5:13. Afterwards he went with Barnabas to Cyprus, Acts 15:39. Subsequently he went to Rome, at the express desire of Paul, in company with Timothy, 2 Timothy 4:11. He remained at Rome while Paul was a captive there, but how long is uncertain, Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24. From Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome, we hear that Mark went from Rome to Alexandria, in Egypt, where he planted a church, and died and was buried in the eighth year of the reign of Nero, A.D. 64.

The time when this gospel was written is not certainly known. It is supposed to have been between the years 56 and 63. It is allowed by all that it was written at Rome; of course, it was during the latter years of his life, after the apostles had left Judea, Mark 16:20. Mark was, for a considerable time, the companion of Peter. Though he had not himself been with the Saviour in his ministry, yet, from his long acquaintance with Peter, he was familiar with the events of his life, and with his instructions. The uniform testimony of the Fathers is, that he was the interpreter of Peter, and that he wrote this Gospel under the eye of Peter, and with his approbation. It has come down to us, therefore, with the sanction of Peter's authority. Its right to a place among the inspired books has never been questioned. That it was written by Mark; that it was with Peter's approbation; that it was a record of the facts which Peter stated in his ministry; and that it was, therefore, an inspired book has never been questioned.


Verse 1. The beginning of the Gospel. The word gospel literally signifies good tidings, and particularly the good tidings respecting the way of salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ. Some have understood the word gospel here to mean, history or life--the beginning of the history, etc. But Mark says nothing of the early life of the Saviour. It has reference rather to the preaching of John, an account of which immediately follows, and means the beginning of the good news, or annunciation, respecting the Messiah. It was very customary thus to prefix a title to a book.

The Son of God. This title was used here to attract attention, and secure the respect of those who should read this gospel. It is no common history. It does not recount the deeds of man--of a hero, or philosopher-- but the doctrines and doings of THE SON OF GOD. The history, therefore, commands respect.

{a} "the Son of God" Hebrews 1:1,2

Verses 2,3 As it is written in the prophets. He mentions prophets, here, without specifying which. The places are found in Malachi 3:1; and in Isaiah 40:3. See Barnes "Matthew 3:3".

{b} "in the prophets" Malachi 3:1

Verse 3. No Barnes text on this verse.

{c} "The voice" Isaiah 40:3

Verse 4. No Barnes text on this verse.

{d} "John did" Matthew 3:1; Luke 3:3; John 3:23
{1} "baptism of repentance" or, "unto repentance"
{e} "remission of sins" Acts 22:16

Verse 5. No Barnes text on this verse.

{f} "confessing their sins." Leviticus 26:40-42; Psalms 32:5; Proverbs 28:13
1 John 1:8-10

Verse 6. No Barnes text on this verse.

{g} "locusts" Leviticus 11:22

Verse 7. No Barnes text on this verse.

{h} "There cometh" Matthew 3:11; John 1:27; Acts 13:25

Verse 8. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes "Matthew 3:3", also Matthew 3:4-6,11.

{i} "baptize you with" Joel 2:28; Acts 1:5; 2:4; 10:45; 11:15,16; 1 Corinthians 12:13

Verse 9. No Barnes text on this verse.

{k} "baptized of John" Matthew 3:13; Luke 3:21.

Verse 10. No Barnes text on this verse.

{1} "opened" or, "cloven", or "rent"

Verse 11. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes "Matthew 3:13", also Matthew 3:14-17

{m} "my beloved Son" Psalms 2:7

Verses 12,13. Mark here relates concisely what Matthew has recorded, more at length in Matthew 4.

The spirit driveth. The word driveth does not mean that he was compelled forcibly against his will to go there, but that he was inclined to go there by the Spirit, or was led there. The Spirit of God, for important purposes, caused him to go. Comp. Matthew 9:25, where the same word is used in the original: "But when the people were put forth"-- in Greek, all driven out.

And was with the wild beasts. This is added to show the desolation and danger of his dwelling there. In this place, surrounded by such dangers, the temptations offered by Satan were the stronger. Amidst want, and perils, Satan might suppose he would be more easily seduced from God. But he trusted in his Father, and was alike delivered from dangers, from the wild beasts, and from the power of temptation: thus teaching us what to do in the day of danger and trial.

And the angels ministered unto him. From Luke 4:2, we learn that in those days he did eat nothing. When Mark says, therefore, that the angels ministered to him, it means after the days of temptation had expired, as is said by Matthew, Matthew 4:11.

Verse 13. No Barnes text on this verse.

{n} "And he was" Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1

Verse 14. Now after that John, etc. John was imprisoned by Herod, \\Mt 14:3\\.

Jesus came into Galilee. He left Judea, and went into the more retired country of Galilee. He supposed that if he remained in Judea, Herod would also persecute him, and attempt his life. His time of death had not come; and he therefore prudently sought safety in retirement, hence we may learn, that when we have great duties to perform for the church of God, we are not wantonly to endanger our lives. When we can secure them without a sacrifice of principle, we are to do it. See Matthew 24:16.

{o} "Jesus came" Matthew 4:23
{p} "The Gospel" Luke 8:1

Verse 15. The time is fulfilled. That is, the time for the appearance of the Messiah. The time, so long foretold, has come.

The kingdom of God is at hand. See Barnes "Matthew 3:2".

Repent ye. Exercise sorrow for sins, and turn from them. And believe the Gospel. Literally, trust in the gospel, or believe the good tidings--to wit, respecting salvation. See Barnes "Matthew 4:17".

{q} "time is" Daniel 2:44; 9:25; Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:10
{r} "repent ye" Acts 2:38
{s} "believe" Romans 16:26

Verse 16. No Barnes text on this verse.

{t} "Now as he" Matthew 4:18; Luke 5:4

Verse 17. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 18. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 19. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 20. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verses 21-27. See Luke 4:31-37

Verse 21. And they went into Capernaum. For the situation of Capernaum, see Matthew 4:13.

Straightway. Immediately. On the following Sabbath.

The synagogue. See Barnes "Matthew 4:23".

And taught. In the synagogue, the presiding elder, after reading the Scriptures, invited any who chose to address the people, Acts 13:15. Though our Saviour was not a priest of the Levitical order, or an officer of the synagogue, yet we find him often availing himself of this privilege, and delivering his doctrines to the Jews.

Verse 22. He taught them as one that had authority, etc. See Barnes "Matthew 7:29".

{u} "And they" Matthew 7:26

Verse 23. A man with an unclean spirit. See Matthew 4:24. It is probable that this man had lucid intervals, or he would not have been admitted into the synagogue. While there, one of his fits came on, and he suddenly cried out.

{v} "And there was" Luke 4:33.

Verse 24. Let us alone. Though but one impure spirit is mentioned as possessing this man, yet that spirit speaks also in the name of others. They were leagued together in the work of evil, and this one knew that if he was punished, others would also share the same fate.

What have we to do with thee? This seems to mean, "Have we injured thee?" or, We have done nothing to injure thee. See \\"1Ki 17:18"\\. By this the spirit meant to say, that if Jesus cast him out, he would use an improper interference. But this was untrue. The possession of the man was a direct assault on God and his works. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and he had a right, therefore, to liberate the captive, and to punish him who had possessed him. So Satan still considers it an infringement of his rights, when God frees a sinner from bondage, and destroys his influence over the soul. So he still pleads to be let alone, and to be suffered to lead men captive at his will.

Art thou come to destroy us? Implying that this could not be the intention of the benevolent Messiah; that to be cast out of that man would, in fact, be his destruction, and that therefore he might be suffered still to remain. Or implying, as in Matthew 8:29, that the time of their destruction had not come, and that he ought not to destroy them before that.

I know thee, etc. Evil spirits seem to have been acquainted at once with the Messiah. Besides, they had learned from his miracles that he was the Messiah, and had power over them.

The Holy One of God. The Messiah. See Daniel 9:24. He is called the Holy One of God, because,

1st, he was eminently pure;

2nd, because he was the only begotten Son of God--equal with the Father; and,

3rd, because he was anointed, or set apart to the work of the Messiah, the Mediator between God and man.

Verse 25. And Jesus rebuked him. Chode him, or commanded him, with a threatening, to be still. This was not the man that he rebuked, but the spirit, for he instantly commanded the same being to come out of the man. In all this Jesus did not once address the man. His conversation was with evil spirit; proving conclusively that it was not a mere disease, or derangement---for how could the Son of God hold converse with disease, or delirium?--but that he conversed with a being, who also conversed, reasoned, cavilled, felt, resisted, and knew him. There are, therefore, evil spirits; and those spirits have taken possession of men.

Hold thy peace. Greek, Be muzzled. Restrain thyself. Cease from complaints, and come out of the man. This was a very signal proof of the power of Jesus, to be able by a word to silence an evil angel, and, against his will, to compel him to leave a man whom he delighted to torment.

Verse 26. And when the unclean spirit, etc. Still malignant, though doomed to obey--submitting because he was obliged to, not because he chose--he exerted his last power, inflicted all the pain he could, and then bowed to the Son of God, and came out. This is the nature of an evil disposition. Though compelled to obey, though prevented by the command and Providence of God from doing what it would, yet, in seeming to obey, it does all the ill it can, and makes even the appearance of obedience the occasion for increased crime and mischief.

Verses 27,28. And they were all amazed, etc. The power of casting out devils was to them new. It was done by a word. He did it in his own name, and by his own authority. This proved that he was superior to all the unclean spirits. In consequence, his fame spread throughout all the country, and the impression became prevalent that he was the Messiah.

Verse 28. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verses 29-31. See Matthew 8:14,15

{w} "And forthwith" Matthew 8:14; Luke 4:38

Verse 30. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 31. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verses 32-34. See Matthew 8:16,17. And at even, when the sun did set. See Barnes "Matthew 8:1", etc.

Verse 33. All the city. A great part of the city. A great multitude from the city.

Verse 34. And suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. They knew that he was the Messiah. If they had spoken, they would have made that known to the people. Jesus was not desirous, at that time, that that should be publicly known, or his name be blazoned abroad. The time had not come when he wished it to be promulgated, and he therefore imposed silence on the evil Spirits.

{1} "because they knew him" or, "to say that they knew him"

Verses 35-37. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day. Luke says, (Luke 4:42,) it was day. The passage in Mark means, in the original, not literally a great while before day, but very early, or while there was yet much appearance of night. The place in Luke means, at daybreak, at the beginning of day. Then, also, there is much appearance of night; and Luke and Mark, therefore, refer to the same time--before it was fully light, or just at daybreak.

And departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. Here observe,

(1.) that the Saviour, though perfectly holy, regarded the duty of secret prayer as of great importance.

(2.) That he sought a solitary place for it--far away from the world, and even his disciples.

(3.) That it was early in the morning--the first thing after rising-- always the best time, and a time when it should not be omitted.

(4.) If Jesus prayed, how much more important is it for us! If he did it in the morning, how much more important is it for us, before the world gets possession of our thoughts; before Satan fills us with unholy feelings; when we rise fresh from beds of repose, and while the world around us is still! David also thus prayed, Psalms 5:3. He that wishes to enjoy religion will seek a place of secret prayer in the morning. If that is omitted, all will go wrong. Our piety will wither. The world will fill our thoughts. Temptations will be strong. And through the day we shall find it impossible to raise our feelings to a state of proper devotion. This will be found to be true, universally, that the religious enjoyment through the day will be according to the state of the heart in the morning; and can, therefore be measured by our faithfulness in early secret prayer, how different, too, was the conduct of the Saviour from those who spend the precious hours of the morning in sleep! He knew the value of the morning hours; he rose while the world was still; he saw when the light spread abroad in the east with fresh tokens of his Father's presence, and joined with the universal creation in offering praise to the everywhere present God.

Verse 36. And Simon. Simon Peter.

They that were with him. The other disciples.

Verse 37. All men seek for thee. That is, many men, or multitudes. The inquiry after him was general. They told him this evidently with a view to induce him to leave his place of retirement, and to prevail upon him to appear publicly, to instruct the multitudes.

Verse 38. And he said unto them, etc. This was said in answer to their implied request, that he would go and meet the multitudes. "Since the anxiety to hear the truth is so great; since such multitudes are waiting to hear the word, let us go into the next towns," etc.

Next towns. Towns in the neighbourhood or vicinity of Capernaum. He proposed to carry the gospel to them, rather than that multitudes should leave their homes and attend him in his ministry.

Towns. The word here rendered towns denotes places in size between cities and villages, or large places, but without walls.

For therefore came I forth. That is, came forth from God, or was sent by God. Luke says, (Luke 4:43) "for therefore am I sent." Compare John 16:28. "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world." The meaning of this verse therefore is--Since multitudes press to hear the word, let us not remain here, but go into the neighbouring towns also, for I was sent by God not to preach at Capernaum only, but throughout Judea, and it is therefore improper to confine my labours to this place.

{x} "therefore" Isaiah 61:1,2; John 17:8

Verse 39. And he preached in their synagogues. See Matthew 4:23.

All Galilee. See Matthew 2:22.

And cast out devils. See Barnes "Matthew 8:1-4".

Verses 40-45. And there came a leper, etc. See Barnes "Matthew 8:1", and Matthew 8:1.

Kneeling down to him. He kneeled, and inclined his face to the ground, in token of deep humiliation, and earnest entreaty. Compare Luke 5:12.

If thou wilt. There was an acknowledgment of the almighty power of Jesus, and an appeal to his benevolence.

Make me clean. Canst heal me of this loathsome and offensive disease--in the eye of the law justly regarded as unclean--and render me legally clean, and restore me to the privileges of the congregation.

And Jesus--touched him. It was by the law considered as unclean to touch a leprous man. See Numbers 5:2. The fact that Jesus touched him was evidence that the requisite power had been already put forth to heal him; that Jesus regarded him as already clean.

I will. Here was a most manifest proof of his Divine power. None but God can work a miracle. Yet Jesus does it by his own will --by an exertion of his own power. He was, therefore, Divine.

See thou say nothing to any man. The law of Moses required that the man who was healed of the leprosy should be pronounced clean by the priest, before he could be admitted again to the privileges of the congregation, Leviticus 19:1, etc. Christ, though he had cleansed him, yet required him to be obedient to the law of the land; to go at once to the priest, and not to make delay by stopping to converse about his being healed. It was also possible, that if he did not go at once, evil-minded men would go before him and prejudice the priest, and prevent his declaring the healing to be thorough because it was done by Jesus. It was further of importance that the priest should pronounce it to be a genuine cure, that there might be no cavils among the Jews against its being a real miracle.

Offer--those things, etc. Two birds, and cedar-wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. And after eight days, two he-lambs, without blemish, and one ewe-lamb, and fine flour, and oil, Leviticus 14:4,10.

For a testimony unto them. Not to the priest, but to the people, that they may have evidence that it is a real cure. The testimony of the priest on the subject would be decisive.

{a} "those things" Leviticus 14:2-32
{b} "testimony" Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11

Verse 41. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 42. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 43. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 44. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 45. Began to publish it much. That is, the subject of his own cure. He was so deeply affected with it, and so much rejoiced, that he followed the natural dictates of his own feelings, rather than the command of the Saviour.

Jesus could no more openly enter into the city. The word could, here, does not refer to any natural inability, or to any physical obstacle in his way, but only denotes that there was difficulty, or inconvenience, or impropriety, in his doing it then; that he judged it best not then to enter into the city. The difficulty was, probably, that his being in the city drew such crowds of people as rendered it difficult to accommodate them, or so as to excite the opposition of civil rulers.

The city. The city, or large town, where the leper was cured. The same reason for not entering that city applied also to others; so that he remained in the deserts, where the multitudes could come to him without any difficulty or opposition.

{c} "began to publish" Psalms 77:11,12; Titus 1:10
{c} "and they came to him" Mark 2:13

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Mark 1". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". <>.  


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