1:1 The beginning of the gospel1 of Jesus2 Christ3, the Son of God4.
JOHN THE BAPTIST'S PERSON AND PREACHING.
(In the wilderness of Judea, and on the banks of the Jordan,
occupying several months, probably A.D. 25 or 26.)
Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:1-18
- The beginning of the gospel. John begins his Gospel from eternity, where the Word is found coexistent with God. Matthew begins with Jesus,
the humanly generated son of Abraham and David, born in the days of
Herod the king. Luke begins with the birth of John the Baptist, the
Messiah's herald; and Mark begins with the ministry of John the
Baptist. While the three other evangelists take a brief survey of the
"preparation" of the gospel, Mark looks particularly to the period when
it began to be "preacher". Gospel means good news, and news is not news
until it is proclaimed. The gospel began to be preached or proclaimed
with the ministry of John the Baptist (Luke 16:16). His ministry was
the dawn of that gospel of which Christ's preaching was the sunrise.
- Jesus. Our Lord's "name" as a human being; it means "Savior".
- Christ. Though this is also sometimes used as a name, it is in reality our Lord's "title". It means "the Anointed", and is equivalent
to saying that Jesus is our Prophet, Priest, and King.
- The Son of God. This indicates our Lord's eternal "nature"; it was divine. Mark's gospel was written to establish that fact, which is the
foundation of the church (Matthew 16:18). John's Gospel was written for
a like purpose (John 20:31). John uses the phrase "Son of God"
twenty-nine times, and Mark seven times. As these two evangelists wrote
chiefly for Gentile readers, they emphasized the divinity of Jesus, and
paid less attention to his Jewish ancestry. But Matthew, writing for
Hebrews, prefers the title "Son of David", which he applies to Jesus
some nine times, that he may identify him as the Messiah promised in
the seed of David (2 Samuel 7:12; Psalms 72:1-17; Psalms 89:3,4; Psalms 132:11,12).
1:2 Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold1, I send my messenger2 before thy face3, Who shall prepare thy way4.
- Behold. The clause beginning with "Behold" and ending with "way" is taken from Malachi 3:1. The Revised Version makes Mark quote this
passage as if it were from Isaiah, the reading being "written in Isaiah
the prophet", but the Authorized Version gives the reading "written in
the prophets". Following the reasoning of Canon Cook, we hold the
latter was the original reading. See Speaker's Commentary, note at the
end of Mark 1.
- My messenger. John the Baptist was that messenger.
- Before thy face. Malachi says "my face". "Thy" and "my" are used interchangeably, because of the unity of the Deity (John 10:30).
- Who shall prepare thy way. Mark says little about the prophets, but at the outset of his Gospel he calls attention to the fact that the
entire pathway of Jesus was the subject of prophetical prediction.
1:3 The voice1 of one crying in the wilderness2, Make ye ready the way of the Lord3, Make his paths straight;
- The voice. See Isaiah 40:3,4, quoted from the Septuagint. The words were God's, the voice was John's. So Paul also spoke
(1 Thessalonians 2:1-13). It was prophesied before he was born that John should
be a preparing messenger for Christ (Luke 1:17).
- Of one crying in the wilderness. This prophecy of Isaiah's could relate to none but John, for no other prophet ever made the wilderness
the scene of his preaching. But John always preached there, and instead
of going to the people, he compelled the people to come out to him.
John was the second Elijah. The claims of all who in these days profess
to be reincarnations of Elijah may be tested and condemned by this
prophecy, for none of them frequent the wilderness.
- Make ye ready the way of the Lord. See also Isaiah 35:8-10. Isaiah's language is highly figurative. It represents a band of
engineers and workmen preparing the road for their king through a
rough, mountainous district. The figure was familiar to the people of
the East, and nearly every generation there witnessed such road-making.
The haughty Seriramis leveled the mountains before her. Josephus,
describing the march of Vespasian, says that there went before him such
as were to make the road even and straight, and if it were anywhere
rough and hard, to smooth it over, to plane it, and to cut down woods
that hindered the march, that the army might not be tired. Some have
thought that Isaiah's prophecy referred primarily to the return of the
Jewish captives from Babylon. But it refers far more directly to the
ministry of the Baptist; for it is not said that the way was to be
prepared for the people, but for Jehovah himself. It is a beautiful
figure, but the real preparation was the more beautiful transformation
of repentance. By inducing repentance, John was to prepare the people
to receive Jesus and his apostles, and to hearken to their preaching.
1:4 John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins1.
- The baptism of repentance unto remission of sins. Pardoning mercy was to be found in Christ, and all rites then looked forward to the
cleansing effected by the shedding of his blood, as all rights now look
back to it. But in popular estimation John's baptism was no doubt
regarded as consummating an immediate forgiveness.
1:5 And there went out unto him all the country of Judaea1, and all they of Jerusalem; And they were baptized of him2 in the river Jordan, confessing their sins3.
- All the country of Judaea. A hyperbole common with Hebrew writers and such as we use when we say, "the whole town turned out", "everybody
was there," etc. Both Matthew and Luke show that some did not accept
John's baptism (Matthew 21:23-25; Luke 7:30). But from the language of the
evangelist we might infer that, first and last, something like a
million people may have attended John's ministry.
- And they were baptized of him. Literally, immersed by him. In every stage of the Greek language this has been the unquestioned meaning of
the verb "baptizo", and it still retains this meaning, the Greek
Church, in all its branches, has uniformly practiced immersion from the
earliest period to the present time. Greek Christians never speak of
other denominations as "baptizing by sprinkling", but they say, "they
baptize 'instead' of baptizing". John's baptism was instituted of God
(John 1:33), just as Christian baptism was instituted by Christ
(Matthew 28:19). The Pharisees recognized John's rite as so important
as to require divine authority, and even then they underestimated it,
regarding it as a mere purification (Josephus Ant. 18.5,2).
- Confessing their sins. As John's baptism was for the remission of sins, it was very proper that it should be preceded by a confession.
The context indicates that the confession was public and general. There
is no hint of such auricular confession as is practiced by the
Catholics. See also Acts 19:18. John, writing to baptized Christians,
bids them to confess their sins, that Jesus may forgive them
(1 John 1:9). Christian baptism is also for the remission of sins
(Acts 2:38), the ordinance itself a very potent confession that the
one baptized has sins to be remitted, and it seems to be a sufficient
pubic expression of confession as to sins; for while John's baptism
called for a confession sins, Christian baptism calls only for a
confession of faith in Christ (Acts 22:16; Romans 10:9,10; Mark 16:16).
1:6 And John was clothed with camel's hair1, and [had] a leathern girdle about his loins2, and did eat locusts3 and wild honey4.
- And John was clothed with camel's hair. Camels were plentiful in the East. Their finer hair was woven into elegant cloths; but that
which was coarser and shaggier was made into a fabric like our druggets
[coarse durable cloth used chiefly as a floor covering], and used for
the coats of shepherds and camel drivers, and for the covering of
tents. Prophets often wore such cloth (Zechariah 13:4), and no doubt it
was the habitual garb of John's prototype, the prophet Elijah
(Malachi 4:5; 2 Kings 1:8). In Elijah's day there was demand for protest
against the sad havoc which Phoenician luxury and licentiousness were
making with the purer morals of Israel; and in John's day a like
protest was needed against a like contamination wrought by Greek
manners and customs. Both prophets, by their austerity, rebuked such
apostasy, and Jezebel answered the rebuke by attempting Elijah's life,
while Herodias actually took the life of John. As a herald, John was
suited to the King whose appearing he was to announce, for Jesus was
meek and lowly (Zechariah 9:9), and had no form nor comeliness that he
should be desired (Isaiah 53:2).
- And [had] a leathern girdle about his loins. The loose skirts worn in the East required a girdle to bind them to the body. This was
usually made of linen or silk, but was frequently more costly, being
wrought with silver and gold. John's girdle was plain, undressed
- And did eat locusts. Locusts, like Western grasshoppers, were extremely plentiful (Joel 1:4; Isaiah 33:4,5). The law declared them
clean, and thus permitted the people to eat them for food (Leviticus 11:22).
Arabs still eat them, and in some Oriental cities they are found for
sale in the market. But they are regarded as fit only for the poor.
They are frequently seasoned with camel's milk and honey.
- And wild honey. Canaan was promised as a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 2:8-17; Exodus 13:15; 1 Samuel 14:26). Many of the trees in the
plains of Jericho, such as the palm, fig, manna, ash, and tamarisk,
exuded sweet gums, which went by the name of tree honey, but there is
no need to suppose, as some do, that this was what John ate. The
country once abounded in wild bees, and their honey was very plentiful.
We have on the record an instance of the speed with which they could
fill the place which they selected for their hives (Judges 14:5-9).
The diet of the Baptist was very light, and Jesus so speaks of it
(Matthew 11:18). He probably had no set time for his meals, and all
days were more or less fast-days. Thus John gave himself wholly to his
ministry, and became a voice--all voice. John took the wilderness for a
church and filled it. He courted no honors, but no Jew of his time
received more of them, and by some he was even regarded as Messiah
1:7 And he preached, saying, There cometh1 after me2 he that is mightier than I3, the latchet4 of whose shoes5 I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose6.
- There cometh. John preached repentance because of a coming King; he now announces who the King is. He pictures this King as, first,
administering a different baptism from his own; second, as a judge who
would separate the righteous from the wicked, just as a husbandman
sifts the wheat from the chaff.
- After me. Subsequent to me in ministry. But John indicates that the coming of Christ would be closely coupled with his own appearing. One
event was to immediately follow the other. So Malachi binds together in
one time the appearing of both forerunner and judge (Malachi 3:1-3).
- He that is mightier than I. Mightier both to save and to punish.
- The latchet. The lace or strap. See John 1:27.
- Of whose shoes. The sandal then worn was a piece of wood or leather bound to the sole of the foot to protect it from the burning sand or
the sharp stones. It was the forerunner of our modern shoe.
See John 1:27.
- I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. To untie or carry away the shoe of the master or his guest was the work of the lowest slave of
the household. As a figure of speech, the shoe is always associated
with subjugation and slavery (Psalms 60:8). John means, "I am not worthy
to be his servant". John was simply the forerunner of Jesus; the higher
office and honor of being Jesus' attendants was reserved for others
1:8 I baptized you in water; But he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit.
- He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit. That which is here referred to was foretold by the prophets (Isaiah 44:3; Joel 2:28). In
the early church there was an abundant outpouring of the Spirit of God
(Titus 3:5,6; Acts 2:3,4,17; Acts 10:44). This prophecy began to be fulfilled
on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:5; Acts 2:4). In the choice of the word
"baptize" God indicated through his prophet how full this flooding of
the Spirit would be.
1:9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in the Jordan1.
JESUS BAPTIZED BY JOHN IN THE JORDAN.
(Jordan east of Jericho, Spring of A.D. 27.)
Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21,22
- And was baptized of John in the Jordan. Greek "into". The body of Jesus was immersed or plunged into the river.
1:10 And straightway coming up out of the water1, he saw2 the heavens rent asunder3, and the Spirit4 as a dove descending upon him5:
- And straightway coming up out of the water. The preposition "out of" shows that Jesus was not yet fully out of the river, and that the
vision and the voice were immediately associated with his baptism.
- He saw. The statement that "he" saw the Spirit descending, which is also the language of Matthew (Matthew 3:16), has been taken by some
as implying that the Spirit invisible to the multitude. But we know
from John's narrative that it was also seen by John the Baptist
(John 1:33,34), and if it was visible to him and to Jesus, and it
descended, as Luke affirms, in a bodily shape like a dove (Luke 3:22),
it would have required a miracle to hide it from the multitude.
Moreover, the object of the Spirit's visible appearance was to point
Jesus out, not to himself, but to others; and to point him out as a
person concerning whom the voice from heaven was uttered. No doubt,
then, the Spirit was visible and audible to all who were present.*
- The heavens rent asunder. The heavens open at the beginning of Jesus' ministry to honor him, and at the end of it to receive him.
Christ is the opener of heaven for all men.
- The Spirit. The Spirit came upon Jesus to give him the miraculous power which he afterward exerted (Luke 4:14).
- As a dove descending upon him. All four evangelists are careful to inform us that it was not an actual dove (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22
*NOTE.--Recognizing the weight of Bro. McGarvey's argument, I
nevertheless contend that the multitude only shared partially in such a
vision, if they shared it at all; for (1) There is no Scripture which
even hints that the vision was seen by more than the two "inspired"
parties, Jesus and John; and, on the contrary, the words of Jesus at
his baptism, were addressed to the Jews generally. (2) Jesus was to be
manifested by his character and teaching rather than by heavenly sights
and sounds (Matthew 12:39), and the mysteries of the kingdom
(Matthew 13:11), and the opened heavens (John 1:50,51), with many
other manifestations, were reserved for believers (John 12:28-30
Matthew 17:1,2,9; Acts 1:9; Acts 7:55,59; Acts 10:40,41),; Acts and; Acts are; Acts still; Acts so; Acts reserved
(1 Corinthians 2:14).; 1 Corinthians As; 1 Corinthians to; 1 Corinthians the; 1 Corinthians arguments; 1 Corinthians given; 1 Corinthians above,; 1 Corinthians we; 1 Corinthians suggest; 1 Corinthians that; 1 Corinthians "bodily
shape" does not insure universal sight. Baalam did not see what the ass
saw (Numbers 22:21-31). Again, it may be true that Jesus did not need to
see the vision "to point him out to himself", but he must have needed
it for some purpose, for it is twice asserted that he saw it, and the
temptations which immediately follow show that assurances of his
divinity at this particular time were by no means misplaced.--Philip Y.
1:11 And a voice came out of the heavens1, Thou art2 my beloved Son3, in thee4 I am well pleased5.
- And a voice came out of the heavens. Voices from heaven acknowledged the person of Christ at his birth, his baptism, his transfiguration and
during the concluding days of his ministry. At his baptism Jesus was
honored by the attestation of both the Spirit and the Father. But the
ordinance itself was honored by the sensible manifestation of each
several personality of the Deity--that the three into whose name we
ourselves are also baptized.
- Thou art. The "this is", etc. of Matthew 3:17 are probably the words as John the Baptist reported them; the "thou art", etc., here and
of Luke 3:22, are the words as Jesus actually heard them. The
testimony of the Father is in unreserved support of the fundamental
proposition of Christianity on which the church of Christ is founded
(Matthew 16:15-18). On this point no witness in the universe was so
well qualified to speak as the Father, and no other fact was so well
worthy the honor of being sanctioned by his audible utterance as this.
The testimony of Christ's life, of his works, of the Baptist, and of
the Scriptures might have been sufficient; but when the Father himself
speaks, who shall doubt the adequacy of the proof?
- My beloved Son. See Matthew 17:5. The Father himself states that relationship of which the apostle John so often spoke (John 1:1). Adam
was made (Genesis 1:26), but Jesus was begotten (Psalms 2:7). Both were
sons of God, but in far different senses. The baptism of Jesus bears
many marked relationships to our own: (1) At his baptism Jesus was
manifested as the Son of God. At our baptism we are likewise manifested
as God's children, for we are baptized into the name of the Father, and
are thereby permitted to take upon ourselves his name. (2) At his
baptism Jesus was fully commissioned as the Christ. Not anointed with
material oil, but divinely consecrated and qualified by the Spirit and
accredited by the Father. At baptism we also received the Spirit
(John 3:5; Acts 2:38; Acts 19:1-6), who commissions and empowers us to
Christian ministry (Acts 1:8; 1 John 3:24).
- In thee. Some make the phrases "in whom" and "in thee" (Matthew 3:17 "with" Jesus. They see in it also the statement that the Father will be
pleased with all who are "in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 1:6).
- I am well pleased. It is no slight condemnation to do well pleasing to God (Job 4:18). It is the Christian's joy that his Savior had this
commendation of the Father at the entrance upon his ministry.
1:12 And straightway1 the Spirit driveth him forth2 into the wilderness3.
JESUS TEMPTED IN THE WILDERNESS.
Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12,13; Luke 4:1-13
- And straightway. Just after his baptism, with the glow of the descended Spirit still upon him, and the commending voice of the Father
still ringing in his ears, Jesus is rushed into the suffering of
temptation. Thus abrupt and violent are the charges of life. The
spiritually exalted may expect these sharp contrasts. After being in
the third heaven, Paul had a messenger of Satan to buffet him
(2 Corinthians 12:7).
- The Spirit driveth him forth. The two expressions "driveth" and "led" (Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1) show that Jesus was drawn to the wilderness
by an irresistible impulse, and did not go hither of his own volition
(Ezekiel 40:2). He was brought into temptation, but did not seek it.
He was led of God into temptation, but he was not tempted of God. God
may bring us into temptation (Matthew 6:13; Matthew 26:41; Job 1:12; Job 2:6), and may
make temptation a blessing unto us, tempering it to our strength, and
making us stronger by the victory over it (1 Corinthians 10:13; James 1:2,12),
but God himself never tempts us (James 1:13).
- Into the wilderness. The wilderness sets in back of Jericho and extends thence along the whole western shore of the Dead Sea. The
northern end of this region is in full view from the Jordan as one
looks westward, and a more desolate and forbidding landscape it would
be hard to find. It is vain to locate the temptation in any particular
part of it. Jesus may have wandered about over nearly all of it.
1:13 And he was in the wilderness1 forty days2 tempted of Satan3; And he was with the wild beasts4; And the angels ministered unto him5.
- And he was in the wilderness. Isolation from humanity is no security from temptation. In fact, our present passage of Scripture shows it is
highly favorable to temptation. The experience of all hermits shows
that loneliness is the mother of a multitude of evil desires.
- Forty days. Matthew speaks of the temptation as coming "after" forty days. Evidently Mark and Luke regard the long fast as part of the
process of temptation, seeing that without it the first temptation
would have been without it the first temptation would have been without
force. See Matthew 4:2.
- Tempted of Satan. As a second David, Jesus went forth to meet that Goliath who had so long vaunted himself against all who sought to
serve God, and had as yet found none to vanquish him. The account of
the temptation must have been given to the disciples by Jesus himself,
and as it pleased him to give it as an actual history of real facts, it
behooves us to accept it without being presumptuously inquisitive. Of
course, it has supernatural features, but the supernatural confronts us
through the life of Jesus, so there is nothing strange about it here.
Jesus had taken upon him our flesh, and hence he could be tempted, with
a possibility of falling. But his divinity insured his victory over
temptation. He became like us in ability to fall, that he might make us
like unto himself in power to resist. It behooved him to be tempted,
and thus sharing our nature with its weakness and temptation he might
bring us to share his nature with its strength and sinlessness
(Hebrews 2:17,18; Hebrews 4:15,16). Sinlessness does not preclude temptation,
else Adam could not have been tempted, nor could Satan himself have
fallen. Moreover, temptation is in so sense sin. It is the yielding of
the will to temptation which constitutes sin. The spiritual history of
humanity revolves around two persons; namely, the first and the second
Adam. The temptation of Christ was as real as that of Adam. He had
taken upon himself our temptable nature (Philippians 2:7,8), and he was
tempted not as a private soldier, but as the second Adam, the Captain
of our salvation. The failure of the first Adam brought sorrow,
darkness, and death; the success of the second Adam brought joy, light,
and immortality. Also see on.
- And he was with the wild beasts. A graphic touch. showing the dreariness and desolation of the wilderness, and indicating its peril.
Lions, wolves, leopards, and serpents have been found in the Judean
- And the angels ministered unto him. See note at Jesus was probably fed by the angels, as was Elijah by one of them (1 Kings 19:4-7). Satan
and suffering first, then angels, refreshment, and rest. God had indeed
given his angels charge, and they came to him who refused to put the
father to the test. But they did not succor Jesus during his
temptation, for that was to be resisted by himself alone (Isaiah 63:3).
1:14 Now after John was delivered up1, Jesus came into Galilee2, preaching the gospel of God,
JESUS SETS OUT FROM JUDEA FOR GALILEE.
A. REASONS FOR RETIRING TO GALILEE.
Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14; Luke 3:19,20; John 4:1-4
- Now after John was delivered up. Either delivered up by the people to Herod (Matthew 17:12), or delivered up by Herod himself to the warden
of the castle of Machaerus (Luke 12:58), or by Providence to Herod
himself (Acts 2:23).
- Jesus came into Galilee. See John 4:3.
1:15 and saying1, The time is fulfilled2, and the kingdom of God is at hand3: repent ye, and believe in the gospel4.
GENERAL ACCOUNT OF JESUS' TEACHING.
Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14,15; Luke 4:14,15
- And saying. Jesus preached the gospel or good news of his own advent and of the setting up of the unending kingdom which should convert the
world to righteousness and save the souls of men.
- The time is fulfilled. We should note that Jesus himself declares that the prophesied time for the setting up of his kingdom was at hand.
There were many general prophecies as to this kingdom, but one which
especially fixed the time of its coming; viz.: Daniel 9:24-27. This
prophecy tells of seventy weeks in which each day is reckoned as a
year, so that the seventy weeks equal 490 years. They are to be
counted from the date of the decree which ordered the rebuilding of
Jerusalem. The Messiah, or Prince, was to come at the beginning of the
seventieth week, or 483 years from the date of the decree. Some take
the decree referred to as to be that mentioned in Nehemiah 2:7,8. Jahn
and Hales fix the date of this decree in the year 444 B.C. According
to this, Jesus would have begun his ministry in the year A.D. 39.
Others take the decree to be mentioned in Ezra 7:12-26, which was
thirteen years earlier, and which would bring the beginning of the
ministry of Jesus to the year A.D. 26. But there is much uncertainty
about all ancient chronology. Suffice it to say that Daniel told in
round numbers how long it would be until Messiah should come, and that
Jesus said that this time had been fulfilled. It would have been easy
to ascertain the correct chronology at the time when Jesus spoke, and
we have no record that any presumed to dispute his statement.
- The kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus announced the coming of a new dispensation. The King had already come, but the kingdom in its
organization and administration was as yet only "at hand". Until the
crucifixion of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
the kingdom could not be fully organized, for the blood shed upon the
cross furnished the means for purification which precedes a proper
entrance into the kingdom, and the coming of the Holy Spirit afforded
that indwelling strength by which those entering are enabled to abide
- Repent ye, and believe in the gospel. That is, prepare for the kingdom by repenting of sin, and by believing the glad news that the
kingdom was approaching, for the King had come (John 1:49). The
preaching of Jesus at this time did not differ materially from that of
John the Baptist, for John preached repentance and the approaching
kingdom (Matthew 3:2), and the gospel (Luke 3:18), and belief in the
King (John 1:29,36; John 3:36). The fact that repentance comes before belief
in this passage is taken by some taken as an indication that repentance
precedes faith in the process of conversion, but it should be
remembered that the preaching here is addressed to the Jewish people,
who already believed in God, and in the Scripture as the revelation of
God. They were, therefore, required to bring forth fruit worthy of the
old faith and the old revelation as preparatory to their reception of
the new faith and the new revelation. Thus repentance and faith appears
to be the established order for Hebrews (Hebrews 6:1), and their
proselytes (Acts 20:21), because of the spiritual standpoint or
condition in which the gospel found them. But those who have no faith
in God can surely have no repentance toward him, for belief precedes
every call upon God, whether for mercy, pardon, or any other blessing
1:16 And passing along by the sea of Galilee1, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net2 in the sea; for they were fishers3.
JESUS CALLS FOUR FISHERMEN TO FOLLOW HIM.
(Sea of Galilee, near Capernaum.)
Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11
- The sea of Galilee. This lake is a pear-shaped body of water, about twelve and a half miles long and about seven miles across at its widest
place. It is 682 feet below sea level; its waters are fresh, clear, and
abounding in fish, and it is surrounded by hills and mountains, which
rise from six hundred to a thousand feet above it. Its greatest depth is
about 165 feet.
- A net. The New Testament speaks of three kinds of nets, viz.: the "amphiblestron", which is only mentioned here and Matthew 4:18, the
"sagene", mentioned only at Matthew 13:47, and the "dictua", which is
mentioned in all other places. The "dictua" was a casting-net; the
"sagene", a seine or dragnet; and the "amphiblestron" was a drawnet, a
circular bell-shaped affair, which was thrown upon the water, so that
it spread out and caught, by sinking, whatever was below it.
- For they were fishers. Though Simon and Andrew had been companions of Jesus on at least one journey, they did not as yet understand that
his service would require all their time. The facts that Jesus now
temporarily resided at Capernaum afforded them an opportunity to return
to their old occupation, which they readily embraced. Fishing was then
a prosperous trade on the Lake of Galilee.
1:17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me1, and I will make you to become fishers of men2.
- Come ye after me. It was an invitation to follow, that they might be instructed by hearing his teaching and beholding his work.
- I will make you to become fishers of men. Jesus called them from a lower to a similar but higher labor. He calls all honest tradesmen in
this manner. He invites carpenters to build his temple, servants to
serve the great King, physicians to heal immortal souls, merchants to
invest in pearls of great price, etc. The fisherman found many points
of resemblance between the old and new calling, such as, (1) daily
hardships and dangers; (2) earnest desires for the objects sought; (3)
skill and wisdom in the use of means, etc. Disciples are fishers, human
souls are fish, the world is the sea, the gospel is the net, and
eternal life is the shore whither the catch is drawn.
1:18 And straightway they left the nets, and followed him.
- They left their nets. Peter and Andrew. See Mark 1:20.
1:19 And going on a little further, he saw James the [son] of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending the nets.
- James [the son] of Zebedee, and John his brother. They also, like Peter and Andrew, were at work when Jesus found them. God calls the busy
to his business. For instances where God had called the busy, see cases
of Moses (Exodus 3:1,2), Gideon (Judges 6:11), Saul (1 Samuel 10:1-3),
David (1 Samuel 16:11-15), Elisha (1 Kings 19:19-21), Matthew
(Matthew 9:9), Saul (Acts 9:1-6). Moreover most of these were called
from lowly work, for such is God's method (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). We should
note two reasons why God chose the lowly and unlearned: (1) their minds
being free from prejudice were more ready to entertain new truth; (2)
the strength of the gospel was made more apparent by the weakness of
its ministers (1 Corinthians 2:3-5; 2 Corinthians 4:7; Zechariah 4:6). Of these two brothers,
James was the first apostolic martyr and John the last survivor of the
twelve. James was beheaded about A.D. 44 (Acts 12:1,2); and John,
after upwards of seventy years of Christian service, died at Ephesus
about A.D. 100.
1:20 And straightway he called them1: and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after him2.
- And straightway he called them. From Matthew and Mark we would suppose that Jesus was alone when he called the two sets of brothers,
and that with them he immediately left the lake. But we learn from
Luke that he taught and worked a miracle before leaving the lake
- And they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after him. The four partners (James and John, Peter
and Andrew), boats, different kinds of nets, hired servants, etc., and
the fact that Salome, the wife of Zebedee, was one of those who
ministered to Christ out of her substance (Matthew 27:55,56; Luke 8:3),
all indicate a business of respectable proportions: a fact which
suggests that the church of Christ would catch more souls if all its
parts were in partnership. Evidently when the four men rightly
recognized that the divine call was superior to their earthly
obligations, there is nothing which leads us to imply that their sudden
departure discomfited Zebedee. The call of Christ here marks a change
in their relationship to him. Hitherto discipleship had not materially
interfered with business, but this present call separated them from
their occupation, and prepared them for the call to be apostles which
came later, and which required them to be his constant companions
1:21 And they go into Capernaum1; and straightway on the sabbath day2 he entered into the synagogue and taught3.
HEALING A DEMONIAC IN A SYNAGOGUE.
Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37
- And they go into Capernaum. Jesus and the four fishermen whom he called: Simon and Andrew, James and John (Mark 1:16-20).
- And straightway on the sabbath day. Mark uses the adverb "straightway" and the particle "again" (which has a similar meaning) to
depict the rapid movement of Jesus. As used by him in this connection
it probably indicates that this was the next Sabbath after the calling
of the four fishermen, Mark 1:16-20.
- He entered into the synagogue and taught. See Mark 1:39.
1:22 And they were astonished at his teaching1: For he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes2.
- And they were astonished at his teaching. The astonishment of the people was natural. Not yet recognizing Jesus' divinity, they could not
understand how one so humble could speak with such authority.
- For he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes. They contrasted his teaching with that of the scribes. The scribes were
learned men who preserved, copied, and expounded the law and the
tradition (Ezra 7:6,12; Nehemiah 8:1; Matthew 15:1-6; Matthew 23:2-4; Mark 12:35; Luke 11:52).
They were also called "lawyers" (Matthew 22:35; Luke 7:30; Luke 10:25; Luke 11:45,46,52
Luke 14:3; Titus 3:13), and "teachers (or doctors) of the law"
(Luke 5:17-21). Though the teaching of Jesus differed from the teaching
of the scribes as to "matter", the contrast drawn is as to "manner".
They spoke on the authority of Moses or the elders, but Jesus taught by
his own authority. Their way was to quote minute precedents supported
by endless authorities. A passage taken from later rabbinical writings
"Rabbi Zeira says, on the authority of Rabbi Jose bar Rabbi
Chanina, and Rabbi Ba or Rabbi Chija on the authority of
Rabbi Jochanan," etc.
Contrast this with the oft-repeated "I say to you" of Jesus. For
example, Matthew 5:18,20,22,26,28,34.
1:23 And straightway there was in their synagogue1 a man with an unclean spirit2; and he cried out3,
- In their synagogue. See Mark 1:39.
- A man with an unclean spirit. Matthew, Luke, and Mark all concur in pronouncing demons unclean; that is, wicked (Matthew 10:1; Matthew 12:43
Mark 1:23,26,27; Mark 3:11,30; Mark 5:2,8,13; Mark 6:7; Mark 7:25; Mark 9:25; Luke 4:33,36; Luke 6:18; Luke 8:29
Luke 9:42; Luke 11:24). They thus corrected the prevailing Greek notion
that some of the demons were good. The word "demon", as used in our
Savior's time by both Jews and Greeks, meant the spirits of the
departed or the ghosts of dead men, and the teaching of that and prior
ages was that such spirits often took possession of living men and
controlled them. But whatever these demons were, the Scripture, both
by its treatment of them and its words concerning them, clearly
indicates that they were immaterial, intelligent beings, which are
neither to be confused with maladies and diseases of the body, nor with
tropes, metaphors, or other figures of speech. In proof of this we
adduce the following Scripture facts: (1) the legislation of the Old
Testament proceeded upon the assumption that there was such a thing as
a "familiar spirit" (Leviticus 19:31); (2) in the New Testament they are
spoken of as personalities (James 2:19; Revelation 16:14), Jesus even founding
a parable upon their habits (Luke 11:24-26); (3) Jesus distinguished
between them and diseases, and so did his disciples (Matthew 10:8
Luke 10:17-20); (4) Jesus addressed them as persons, and they answered
as such (Mark 5:8; Mark 9:25); (5) they manifested desires and passions
(Mark 5:12,13); (6) they showed a superhuman knowledge of Jesus
(Matthew 8:29). It would be impossible to regard demon possession as a
mere disease without doing violence to the language used in every
instance of the expulsion of a demon. The frequency of demoniacal
possession in the time of Jesus is probably due to the fact that his
advent formed a great crisis in the spiritual order of things.
- And he cried out. The man cried, the unclean spirit determined what he should cry. The silence and decorum of the synagogue made the outcry
more noticeable, and the demon betrayed his excitement and alarm in
speaking before he was spoken to.
1:24 saying, What have we to do with thee1, Jesus thou Nazarene? art thou come to destroy us2? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God3.
- What have we to do with thee? For an explanation of this idiom, see John 2:4.
- Art thou come to destroy us? Jesus came to destroy the "works" of the devil (1 John 3:8). At his second coming the "workers" themselves
shall suffer (Matthew 25:41). We find that they recognized that the time
of this "torment" had not yet come (Matthew 8:29).
- I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. It is impossible that fever or disease, mental or physical, could give such supernatural
knowledge. The demon called Jesus the Holy One, because (1) it was one
of his proper Scriptural names (Psalms 16:10; Acts 3:14); (2) holiness
was that characteristic which involved the ruin of demons as unholy
ones--just as light destroys darkness. We should note here the
unfruitful knowledge, faith, and confession of demons. They lacked
neither knowledge (Matthew 8:29), nor faith (James 2:19), nor did
they withhold confession; but Jesus received them not. Repentance and
willing obedience are as necessary as faith or confession.
1:25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him1.
- Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. We have in this phrase two personages indicated by the personal pronoun
"him"; one of whom is commanded to come out of the other; one of whom
is now rebuked and hereafter to be destroyed, the other of whom is
delivered. In commanding silence Jesus refused to receive the demon's
testimony. We can see at least three reasons for this: (1) it was not
filling that the fate of the people should rest upon the testimony of
liars; (2) because receiving such testimony might have been taken as an
indication that Jesus sustained friendly relations to demons--something
which the enemies of Christ actually alleged; (Matthew 12:24); (3) the
Messiahship of Jesus was to be gradually unfolded, and the time for its
public proclamation had not yet come.
1:26 And the unclean spirit, tearing him and crying with a loud voice1, came out of him.
- And the unclean spirit, tearing him and crying with a loud voice,
- came out of him. The demon first racked the body of the man with a convulsion, and then, with a cry of rage came out. All this was
permitted that, (1) there might be clear evidence of demoniacal
possession; (2) the demon's malignity might be shown; (3) it might be
manifested that the spirit came not out of its own accord, but because
compelled thereto by the command of Christ. The cry was, however, a
mere impotent expression of anger, for Luke, "the beloved physician"
(Colossians 4:14), notes that it did not hurt the man (Luke 4:35). On
unclean spirits, see Mark 1:23.
1:27 And they were all amazed1, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What is this? a new teaching! with authority he commandeth even the unclean spirits2, and they obey him.
- They were all amazed, etc. The power to command disembodied spirits thus amazed the people, because it was more mysterious than the power
to work physical miracles. By this miracle Jesus demonstrated his
actual possession of the authority which he had just assumed in his
- The unclean spirits. See Mark 1:23.
1:28 And the report of him went out straightway everywhere into all the region of Galilee round about1.
- And the report of him went out straightway everywhere into all the region of Galilee round about. This fame was occasioned both by the
miracle and the teaching. The benevolence and publicity of the miracle,
and its power--the power of one mightier than Satan--would cause
excitement in any community, in any age. Though this is the first
miracle recorded by either Mark or Luke (Mark 1:25,26; Luke 4:35), yet
neither asserts that it was the "first" miracle Jesus wrought, so there
is no conflict with John 2:11.
1:29 And straightway, when they were come out of the synagogue1, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew2, with James and John.
HEALING PETER'S MOTHER-IN-LAW AND MANY OTHERS.
Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:29-34; Luke 4:38-41
- And straightway, when they were come out of the synagogue. Where Jesus had just healed the demoniac (Mark 1:21). On the synagogue,
see Mark 1:39.
- They came into the house of Simon and Andrew. Peter and Andrew had dwelt at Bethsaida (John 1:44). They may have removed to Capernaum, or
Bethsaida, being near by, may be here counted as a part, or suburb, of
Capernaum. Its name does not contradict this view, for it means "house
of fishing" or "fishery".
1:30 Now Simon's wife's mother1 lay sick of a fever; and straightway they tell him of her:
- Simon's wife's mother. The Papists, who claim that Peter was the first pope, must confess that he was married at this time, and
continued to be so for years afterwards (1 Corinthians 9:5). Celibacy is
unauthorized by Scripture (Hebrews 13:4). God says it is not good
1:31 and he came and took her by the hand, and raised her up1; and the fever left her, and she ministered unto them2.
- And he came and took her by the hand, and raised her up. Thus showing the miracle came from Jesus, and that he felt a tender interest
in the sufferer.
- And the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. Her complete recovery is emphasized the miracle. Such fevers invariably leave the
patient weak, and the period of convalescence is long and trying, and
often full of danger. She showed her gratitude by her ministry.
1:32 And at even, when the sun did set1, they brought unto him all that were sick, and them that were possessed with demons2.
- And at even, when the sun did set. Their delay till sundown was unquestionably caused by the traditional law of the Sabbath which
forbade men to carry any burden on that day (John 5:10). The Sabbath
closed at sundown (Leviticus 23:32).
- They brought unto him all that were sick, and them that were possessed with demons. The distinction is drawn between the sick
and the demon-possessed. Lightfoot gives two reasons why demoniacal
possession was so common at that time, viz.: (1) the intense wickedness
of the nation; (2) the addiction of the nation to magic, whereby the
people invited evil spirits to be familiar with them.
1:34 And he healed many that were sick with divers diseases, and cast out many demons; and he suffered not the demons to speak, because they knew him1.
- And he suffered not the demons to speak, because they knew him. Those who are disposed to frequent spiritual seances and to seek
information from mediums should remember that the Son of God permitted
his disciples to receive no information from such sources. He forbade
demons to speak in the presence of his own, even on the most important
of all topics.
1:35 And in the morning, a great while before day1, he rose up and went out, and departed into a desert place, and there prayed3.
JESUS MAKES A PREACHING TOUR THROUGH GALILEE.
Matthew 4:23-25; Mark 1:35-39; Luke 4:42-44
- And in the morning, a great while before day. Mark has in mind the season when Jesus sought the Father in prayer, and so he tells us it
was "a great while before day". Compare Luke 4:42.
- He rose up went out. That is, from the house of Simon.
- And departed into a desert place, and there prayed. Though Palestine was densely populated, its people were all gathered into towns, so that
it was usually easy to find solitude outside the city limits. A ravine
near Capernaum, called the Valley of Doves, would afford such solitude.
Jesus taught and practiced solitary prayer (Matthew 6:6). We can commune
with God better when alone than when in the company of even our dearest
friends. It is a mistaken notion that one can pray equally well at all
times and in all places. Jesus being in all things like men, except
that he was sinless (Hebrews 2:17), must have found prayer a real
necessity. He prayed as a human being. Several reasons for this season
of prayer are suggested, from which we select two: (1) It was a
safeguard against the temptation to vainglory induced by the unbounded
admiration and praise of the multitude whom he had just healed. (2) It
was a fitting preparation on the eve of his departure on his first
1:36 And Simon1 and they that were with him2 followed after him3;
- And Simon. As head of the house which Jesus had just left, Simon naturally acted as leader and guide to the party which sought Jesus.
- And they that were with him. They who were stopping in Simon's house; viz.: Andrew, James, and John. See Mark 1:29.
- Followed after him. Literally, pursued after him. Xenophon uses this word to signify the close pursuit of an enemy in war. Simon had no
hesitancy in obtruding on the retirement of the Master. This rushing
after Jesus in hot haste accorded with his impulsive nature. The
excited interest of the people seemed to the disciples of Jesus to
offer golden opportunities, and they could not comprehend his apparent
indifference to it.
1:37 and they found him, and say unto him, All are seeking thee1.
- And they found him, and say unto him, All are seeking thee. The disciples saw a multitude seeking Jesus for various causes: some to
hear, some for excitement, some for curiosity. To satisfy the people
seemed to them to be Christ;s first duty. Jesus understood his work
better than they. He never encouraged those who sought through mere
curiosity or admiration (John 6:27). Capernaum accepted the benefit
of his miracles, but rejected his call to repentance (Matthew 11:23).
1:38 And he saith unto them, Let us go elsewhere into the next towns, that I may preach there also; for to this end came I forth1.
- For to this end came I forth. That is, I came forth from the Father (John 16:28) to make and preach a gospel. His disciples failed to
understand his mission. Afterwards preaching was with the apostles the
all-important duty (Acts 6:2; 1 Corinthians 1:17).
1:39 And he went into their synagogues1 throughout all Galilee2, preaching and casting out demons3.
- And he went into their synagogues. The word "synagogue" is compounded of the two Greek words "sun", "together", and "ago", "to
collect". It is, therefore, equivalent to our English word "meeting-
house". Tradition and the Targums say that these Jewish houses of
worship existed from the earliest times. In proof of this assertion
Deuteronomy 31:11; Psalms 74:8 are cited. But the citations are insufficient,
that in Deuteronomy not being in point, and the psalm being probably
written after the Babylonian captivity. It better accords with history
to believe that the synagogue originated during the Babylonian
captivity, and was brought into the motherland by the returning exiles.
Certain it is that the synagogue only came into historic prominence
after the books of the Old Testament were written. At the time of our
Savior's ministry synagogues were scattered all over Palestine, and
also over all quarters of the earth whither the Jews had been
dispersed. Synagogues were found in very small villages, for wherever
ten "men of leisure", willing and able to devote themselves to the
service of the synagogue, were found, a synagogue might be erected. In
the synagogues the people met together on the Sabbaths to pray, and to
listen to the reading of the portions of the Old Testament, and also to
hear such instruction or exhortation as might be furnished. With the
permission of the president of the synagogue any one who was fitted
might deliver an address. Thus the synagogues furnished Jesus (and in
later times his disciples also) with a congregation and a suitable
place for preaching. We find that on week days Jesus often preached in
the open air. But the synagogues are thus particularly mentioned,
probably, because in them were held the most important services,
because they were necessary during the rainy and cold season, and
because their use shows that as yet the Jewish rulers had not so
prejudiced the public mind as to exclude Jesus from the houses of
- Throughout all Galilee. The extreme length of Galilee was about sixty-three miles, and its extreme width about thirty-three miles. Its
average dimensions were about fifty by twenty-five miles. It contained,
according to Josephus, 240 towns and villages. Its population at that
time is estimated at about three millions. Lewin calculates that the
circuit of Galilee must have occupied four or five months. The verses
of this paragraph are, therefore, a summary of the work and influence
of Jesus during the earlier part of his ministry. They are a general
statement, the details of which are given in the subsequent chapters of
the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke--the Gospel of John dealing more
particularly with the work in Judea.
- And casting out demons. Mark singles out this kind of miracle as most striking and wonderful.
1:40 And there cometh to him a leper1, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean3.
JESUS HEALS A LEPER AND CREATES MUCH EXCITEMENT.
Matthew 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16
- And there cometh to him a leper. There is much discussion as to what is meant here by leprosy. Two diseases now go by that name; viz.,
psoriasis and elephantiasis. There are also three varieties of
psoriasis, namely, white, black, and red. There are also three
varieties or modifications of elephantiasis, namely, tubercular,
spotted or streaked, and anesthetic. Elephantiasis is the leprosy found
in modern times in Syria, Greece, Spain, Norway, and Africa. Now, since
Leviticus, in determining leprosy, lays great stress on a white or
reddish-white depression of the skin (Leviticus 13:19,24,42,49), the hairs
in which are turned white (Leviticus 13:3,4,10,20,25,26) or yellow
(Leviticus 13:30,32,36), and since it also provides that the leper who is
white all over shall be declared clean (Leviticus 13:13,17,39), and since
in the only two cases where lepers are described--Numbers 12:10; 2 Kings 5:27--
they are spoken of as "white as snow", scholars have been led to think
that the Biblical leprosy was the white form of psoriasis. But the
facts hardly warrant us in excluding the other forms of psoriasis, or
even elephantiasis; for (1) Leviticus also declares that any bright
spot or scale shall be pronounced leprosy, if it be found to spread
abroad over the body (Leviticus 13:28,29,36,37); and this indefinite language
would let in elephantiasis, cancer, and many other skin diseases. In
fact, the law deals with the initial symptoms rather than with the
ultimate phases of the fully developed disease. (2) Elephantiasis was a
common disease in our Savior's time, and has been ever since, and would
hardly be called leprosy now, if it had not been popularly so called
then. The word "leprosy" comes from the Greek word "lepo", which means
"to peel off in scales". It is hereditary for generations, though
modern medical authorities hold that it is not contagious. However, the
returning Crusaders spread it all over Europe in the tenth and eleventh
centuries, so that according to Matthew Paris, there was no less than
9,000 hospitals set aside for its victims. The facts that the priests
had to handle and examine lepers, and that any one who was white all
over with leprosy was declared clean, led scholars to think that the
laws of Moses, which forbade anyone to approach or touch a leper, were
not enacted to prevent the spread of a contagion, but for typical and
symbolic purposes. It is thought that God chose the leprosy as the
symbol of sin and its consequences, and that the Mosaic legislation was
given to carry out this conception. Being the most loathsome and
incurable of all diseases, it fitly represents in bodily form the
ravages of sin in the soul of a man. But there must also have been a
sanitary principle in God's law, since we still deem it wise to
separate lepers, and since other people besides the Hebrews (as the
Persians) prohibited lepers from mingling with other citizens.
Elephantiasis is the most awful disease known. The body of its victim
disintegrates joint by joint, until the whole frame crumbles to pieces.
Psoriasis is milder, but is very distressing. Mead thus describes a
"skin was shining as covered with flakes of snow. And as the
furfuraceous or bran-like, scales were daily rubbed off, the
flesh appeared quick or raw underneath."
In addition to the scaly symptoms, the skin becomes hard and cracks
open, and from the cracks an ichorous humor oozes. The disease spreads
inwardly, and ends in consumption, dropsy, suffocation, and death.
- Beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying to him. The Jews, in addressing any distinguished person, usually employed the
title "Lord". They were also accustomed to kneel before prophets and
kings. It is not likely that the leper knew enough of Jesus to address
him as the Son of God. He evidently took Jesus for some great prophet;
but he must have had great faith, for he was full of confidence that
Jesus had power to heal him, although there was but one case of
leper-cleansing in the Scriptures (2 Kings 5:1-19; Luke 4:27).
- If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. The leper believed in the power of Jesus, but doubted his willingness to expend it on one so
unworthy and so unclean. In temporal matters we cannot always be as
sure of God's willingness as we can be of his power. We should note
that the man asked rather for the blessing of cleanness than for
health. To the Jew uncleanness was more horrible than disease. It meant
to be an outcast from Israel, and to be classed with swine, dogs, and
other odious and abhorrent creatures. The leper, therefore, prayed that
the Lord would remove his shame and pollution.
1:41 And being moved with compassion, he stretched forth his hand, and touched him1, and saith unto him, I will; be thou made clean2.
- And being moved with compassion, he stretched forth his hand, and touched him. Mark habitually notes the feelings, and hence also the
gestures of Jesus. It was not an accidental, but an intentional, touch.
Popular belief so confused and confounded leprosy with the uncleanness
and corruption of sin, as to make the leper feel that Jesus might also
compromise his purity if he concerned himself to relieve it. The touch
of Jesus, therefore, gave the leper a new conception of divine
compassion. It is argued that Jesus, by this touch, was made legally
unclean until the evening (Leviticus 13:46; Leviticus 11:40). But we should note the
spirit and purpose of this law. Touch was prohibited because it defiled
the person touching, and aided not the person touched. In Jesus' case
the reasons for the law were absent, the conditions being reversed.
Touching defiled not the toucher, and healed the touched. In all things
Jesus touches and shares our human state, but he so shares it that
instead of his being defiled by our uncleanness, we are purified by his
righteousness. Moreover, Jesus, as a priest after the order of
Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:6), possessed the priestly right to touch the
leper without defilement (Hebrews 4:15).
- And saith unto him, I will; be thou made clean. The Lord's answer is an echo of the man's prayer (Mark 1:40). The words "I will" express
the high authority of Jesus.
1:42 And straightway the leprosy departed from him, and he was made clean1.
- And straightway the leprosy departed from him, and he was made clean. Godet writes,
"Luke (Luke 5:13) says, "departed," giving the merely
physical view of the event. Matthew (Matthew 8:3) says, "was
cleansed", using ceremonial language. Mark combines the two
1:43 And he strictly charged him1, and straightway sent him out,
- And he strictly charged him. The language used indicates that Jesus sternly forbade the man to tell what had been done. The man's conduct,
present and future, shows that he needed severe speech. In his
uncontrollable eagerness to be healed, he had overstepped his
privileges, for he was not legally permitted to thus enter cities and
draw near to people (Numbers 5:2,3); he was to keep at a distance from
them, and covering his mouth, was to cry, "Tame, tame"--"unclean,
unclean" (Leviticus 13:45,46; Luke 17:12,13). The man evinced a like
recklessness in disregarding the command of Jesus (Mark 1:45).
1:44 and saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing the things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
See thou say nothing to any man|, etc. See Matthew 8:4.
1:45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to spread abroad the matter1, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into a city,2 but was without in desert places3: and they came to him from every quarter.
- But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to spread abroad the matter. The leper was so elated that he could scarcely refrain
from publishing his cure, and he must also have thought that this was
what Jesus really wanted--that in commanding him not to publish it he
did not mean what he said.
- Insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into a city,. Not a natural or physical inability, but the inability of impropriety. Jesus
could not do what he judged not best to do. The excitement cause by
such an entry was injurious in several ways: (1) It gave such an
emphasis to the miracles of Jesus as to make them overshadow his
teaching. (2) It threatened to arouse the jealousy of the government.
(3) It rendered the people incapable of calm thought. Two things
constantly threatened the ministry of Jesus, namely, impatience in the
multitude, and envious malice in the priests and Pharisees. Jesus
wished to add to neither of these elements of opposition. Thus the
disobedience of the leper interrupted Jesus, and thwarted him in his
purpose to visit the villages. Disobedience, no matter how well-
meaning, always hinders the work of Christ.
- But was without in desert places. See Luke 5:16.