Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God--By
the "Gospel" of Jesus Christ here is evidently meant the blessed Story
which our Evangelist is about to tell of His Life, Ministry, Death,
Resurrection, and Glorification, and of the begun Gathering of Believers
in His Name. The abruptness with which he announces his subject, and the
energetic brevity with which, passing by all preceding events, he
hastens over the ministry of John and records the Baptism and Temptation
of Jesus--as if impatient to come to the Public Life of the Lord of
glory--have often been noticed as characteristic of this Gospel--a
Gospel whose direct, practical, and singularly vivid setting imparts to
it a preciousness peculiar to itself. What strikes every one is, that
though the briefest of all the Gospels, this is in some of the principal
scenes of our Lord's history the fullest. But what is not so obvious is,
that wherever the finer and subtler feelings of humanity, or the deeper
and more peculiar hues of our Lord's character were brought out, these,
though they should be lightly passed over by all the other Evangelists,
are sure to be found here, and in touches of such quiet delicacy and
power, that though scarce observed by the cursory reader, they leave
indelible impressions upon all the thoughtful and furnish a key to much
that is in the other Gospels. These few opening words of the Second
Gospel are enough to show, that though it was the purpose of this
Evangelist to record chiefly the outward and palpable facts of our
Lord's public life, he recognized in Him, in common with the Fourth
Evangelist, the glory of the Only-begotten of the Father.
2, 3. As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger
before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before
3. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of
the Lord, make his paths straight--The second of these quotations is
given by Matthew and Luke in the same connection, but they reserve the
former quotation till they have occasion to return to the Baptist, after
(Instead of the words, "as it is written in the Prophets," there is
weighty evidence in favor of the following reading: "As it is written
in Isaiah the prophet." This reading is adopted by all the latest
critical editors. If it be the true one, it is to be explained
thus--that of the two quotations, the one from Malachi is but a later
development of the great primary one in Isaiah, from which the whole
prophetical matter here quoted takes its name. But the received text is
quoted by IRENÆUS, before the end of the
second century, and the evidence in its favor is greater in
amount, if not in weight. The chief objection to it is, that if
this was the true reading, it is difficult to see how the other one
could have got in at all; whereas, if it be not the true reading, it is
very easy to see how it found its way into the text, as it removes the
startling difficulty of a prophecy beginning with the words of Malachi
being ascribed to Isaiah.) For the exposition, see on
DESCENT OF THE
Lu 3:21, 22).
Mr 1:12, 13.
HEALING OF A
DEMONIAC IN THE
FOUND IN A
Mt 8:14-17; 4:23-25).
21. And they went into Capernaum--(See on
and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and
taught--This should have been rendered, "straightway on the sabbaths
He entered into the synagogue and taught," or "continued to teach." The
meaning is, that as He began this practice on the very first sabbath
after coming to settle at Capernaum, so He continued it regularly
22. And they were astonished at his doctrine--or "teaching"--referring
quite as much to the manner as the matter of it.
for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the
Mt 7:28, 29.
23. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit--literally, "in an unclean spirit"--that is, so entirely under demoniacal
power that his personality was sunk for the time in that of the spirit.
The frequency with which this character of "impurity" is ascribed to
evil spirits--some twenty times in the Gospels--is not to be overlooked.
and he cried out--as follows:
24. Saying, Let us alone--or rather, perhaps, "ah!" expressive of
mingled astonishment and terror.
what have we to do with thee--an expression of frequent occurrence
in the Old Testament
It denotes entire separation of interests:--that is, "Thou and
we have nothing in common; we want not Thee; what wouldst Thou with
us?" For the analogous application of it by our Lord to His mother, see
thou Jesus of Nazareth--"Jesus, Nazarene!" an epithet originally given
to express contempt, but soon adopted as the current designation by
those who held our Lord in honor
art thou come to destroy us?--In the case of the Gadarene demoniac
the question was, "Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?"
Themselves tormentors and destroyers of their victims, they discern in
Jesus their own destined tormentor and destroyer, anticipating and
dreading what they know and feel to be awaiting them! Conscious, too,
that their power was but permitted and temporary, and perceiving in
Him, perhaps, the woman's Seed that was to bruise the head and destroy
the works of the devil, they regard His approach to them on this
occasion as a signal to let go their grasp of this miserable victim.
I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God--This and other even
more glorious testimonies to our Lord were given, as we know, with no
good will, but in hope that, by the acceptance of them, He might appear
to the people to be in league with evil spirits--a calumny which His
enemies were ready enough to throw out against Him. But a Wiser than
either was here, who invariably rejected and silenced the testimonies
that came to Him from beneath, and thus was able to rebut the
imputations of His enemies against Him
The expression, "Holy One of God," seems evidently taken from that
in which He is styled "Thine Holy One."
25. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of
him--A glorious word of command.
BENGEL remarks that it was only the
testimony borne to Himself which our Lord meant to silence. That he
should afterwards cry out for fear or rage
He would right willingly permit.
26. And when the unclean spirit had torn him--Luke
says, "When he had thrown him in the midst." Malignant cruelty--just
showing what he would have done, if permitted to go farther: it
was a last fling!
and cried with a loud voice--the voice of enforced submission and
he came out of him--Luke
adds, "and hurt him not." Thus impotent were the malignity and rage of
the impure spirit when under the restraint of "the Stronger than the
strong one armed"
(Lu 11:21, 22).
27. What thing is this? what new doctrine--teaching
is this?--The audience, rightly apprehending that the miracle was
wrought to illustrate the teaching and display the character and glory
of the Teacher, begin by asking what novel kind of teaching this could
be, which was so marvellously attested.
28. And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region
round about Galilee--rather, "the whole region of Galilee"; though
some, as MEYER and
ELLICOTT, explain it of the country surrounding
29. And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue--so also
they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John--The mention of these four--which is peculiar to Mark--is the first of
those traces of Peter's hand in this Gospel, of which we shall find many
more. The house being his, and the illness and cure so nearly affecting
himself, it is interesting to observe this minute specification of the
number and names of the witnesses; interesting also as the first
occasion on which the sacred triumvirate of Peter and James and John are
selected from among the rest, to be a threefold cord of testimony to
certain events in their Lord's life
--Andrew being present on this occasion, as the occurrence took place
in his own house.
30. But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever--Luke, as was
natural in "the beloved physician"
describes it professionally; calling it a "great fever," and thus
distinguishing it from that lighter kind which the Greek physicians
were wont to call "small fevers," as GALEN, quoted
by WETSTEIN, tells us.
they tell him of her--naturally hoping that His compassion and power
towards one of His own disciples would not be less signally displayed
than towards the demonized stranger in the synagogue.
31. And he came and took her by the hand--rather, "And advancing, He
took her," &c. The beloved physician again is very specific: "And He
stood over her."
and lifted her up--This act of condescension, most felt doubtless by
Peter, is recorded only by Mark.
and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto
them--preparing their sabbath-meal: in token both of the
perfectness and immediateness of the cure, and of her gratitude to the
32. And at even, when the sun did set--so
says it was setting.
they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were
possessed with devils--the demonized. From
we see how unlawful they would have deemed it to bring their sick to
Jesus for a cure during the sabbath hours. They waited, therefore, till
these were over, and then brought them in crowds. Our Lord afterwards
took repeated occasion to teach the people by example, even at the risk
of His own life, how superstitious a straining of the sabbath rest this
33. And all the city was gathered together at the door--of Peter's
house; that is, the sick and those who brought them, and the wondering
spectators. This bespeaks the presence of an eye-witness, and is one of
those lively examples of word-painting so frequent in this Gospel.
34. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out
it is said, "He cast out the spirits with His word"; or rather, "with a
word"--a word of command.
and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew
him--Evidently they would have spoken, if permitted,
proclaiming His Messiahship in such terms as in the synagogue; but once
in one day, and that testimony immediately silenced, was enough. See on
After this account of His miracles of healing, we have in
this pregnant quotation, "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken
by Esaias the prophet, saying
Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses."
35. And in the morning--that is, of the day after this remarkable
sabbath; or, on the first day of the week. His choosing this day to
inaugurate a new and glorious stage of His public work, should be noted
by the reader.
rising up a great while before day--"while it was yet night," or
long before daybreak.
he went out--all unperceived from Peter's house, where He slept.
and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed--or, "continued
in prayer." He was about to begin His first preaching and healing
circuit; and as on similar solemn occasions
(Lu 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28, 29;
He spent some time in special prayer, doubtless with a view to it. What
would one not give to have been, during the stillness of those grey
morning hours, within hearing--not of His "strong crying and tears,"
for He had scarce arrived at the stage for that--but of His calm,
exalted anticipations of the work which lay immediately before Him, and
the outpourings of His soul about it into the bosom of Him that sent
Him! He had doubtless enjoyed some uninterrupted hours of such
communings with His heavenly Father ere His friends from Capernaum
arrived in search of Him. As for them, they doubtless expected, after
such a day of miracles, that the next day would witness similar
manifestations. When morning came, Peter, loath to break in upon the
repose of his glorious Guest, would await His appearance beyond the
usual hour; but at length, wondering at the stillness, and gently
coming to see where the Lord lay, he finds it--like the sepulchre
afterwards--empty! Speedily a party is made up to go in search of Him,
Peter naturally leading the way.
36. And Simon and they that were with him followed after
him--rather, "pressed after Him." Luke
says, "The multitudes sought after Him"; but this would be a party from
the town. Mark, having his information from Peter himself, speaks only
of what related directly to him. "They that were with him" would
probably be Andrew his brother, James and John, with a few other choice
37. And when they had found him--evidently after some search.
they said unto him, All men seek for thee--By this time, "the
multitudes" who, according to Luke
"sought after Him"--and who, on going to Peter's house, and there
learning that Peter and a few more were gone in search of Him, had set
out on the same errand--would have arrived, and "came unto Him and
stayed Him, that He should not depart from them"
all now urging His return to their impatient townsmen.
38. And he said unto them, Let us go--or, according to another reading,
"Let us go elsewhere."
into the next towns--rather, "unto the neighboring village-towns";
meaning those places intermediate between towns and villages, with which
the western side of the Sea of Galilee was studded.
that I may preach there also; for therefore came I forth--not
from Capernaum, as DE WETTE
miserably interprets, nor from His privacy in the desert place, as
MEYER, no better; but from the Father. Compare
"I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world,"
&c.--another proof, by the way, that the lofty phraseology of the
Fourth Gospel was not unknown to the authors of the others, though
their design and point of view are different. The language in which our
Lord's reply is given by Luke
expresses the high necessity under which, in this as in every other
step of His work, He acted--"I must preach the kingdom of God to other
cities also; for therefore"--or, "to this end"--"am I sent." An act of
self-denial it doubtless was, to resist such pleadings to return to
Capernaum. But there were overmastering considerations on the other
HEALING OF A