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Barnes' Notes on the New Testament

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Verse 1. Verily I say, etc. See Barnes "Matthew 16:28". This verse properly belongs to the preceding chapter, and the preceding discourse.

{o} "Verily" Matthew 16:28; Luke 9:27
{p} "not taste" John 8:52; Hebrews 2:9

Verses 2-10. And after six days, etc. See this passage explained; See Barnes "Matthew 17:1-9".

{q} "And after six days" Matthew 17:1; Luke 9:28

Verse 3. No fuller. Rather, no scourer. The office of the person here mentioned was to scour or whiten cloth; not to full it, or to render it thicker.

{r} "exceeding white" Daniel 7:9; Matthew 28:3

Verse 4. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 5. No Barnes text on this verse.

{s} Psalms 63:2; 84:10

Verse 6. He wist not. He knew not. He was desirous of saying something, and he knew not what would be proper.

{t} "wist not" Daniel 10:15; Revelation 1:17

Verse 7. No Barnes text on this verse.

{u} "This is my" Psalms 2:7; Matthew 3:17; 2 Peter 1:17
{v} "hear him" Deuteronomy 18:15

Verse 8. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 9. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 10. No Barnes text on this verse.

{w} "should mean" Acts 17:18

Verses 11-13. Why say the Scribes, etc. See Barnes "Matthew 17:10" and Matthew 17:11-13.

{x} "Elias" Malachi 4:5

Verse 12. No Barnes text on this verse.

{y} "written of the Son" Psalms 22:1; Isaiah 53:1
{z} "be set" Psalms 74:22; Luke 23:11; Philippians 2:7

Verse 13. No Barnes text on this verse.

{a} "That Elias" Matthew 11:14; Luke 1:17

Verses 14-29. See Barnes "Matthew 17:14" and Matthew 17:15-21

Verse 14. Questioning with them. Debating with the disciples, and attempting to confound them. This he saw as he came down from the mount. In his absence they had taken occasion to attempt to perplex and confound his followers.

Verse 15. Were greatly amazed. Were astonished and surprised at his sudden appearance among them.

Saluted him. Received him with the customary marks of affection and respect. It is probable that this was not by any formal manner of salutation, but by the rush of the multitude, and by hailing him as the Messiah.

Verse 16. What question ye? What is the subject of your inquiry or debate with the disciples?

{1} "question ye" or, "among yourselves"

Verse 17. A dumb spirit. A spirit which deprived his son of the power of speaking.

{b} "a dumb spirit" Matthew 12:22; Luke 11:14

Verse 18. And wheresoever. In whatever place, at home or abroad, alone or in public.

He teareth him. He rends, distracts, or throws into convulsions.

He foameth. At the mouth, like a mad animal. Among us, these would all be considered as marks of violent derangement or madness.

And pineth away. Becomes thin, haggard, and emaciated. This was the effect of the violence of his struggles, and perhaps of the want of food.

{1} "teareth" or, "dasheth"
{c} "foameth" Jude 1:13

Verse 19. No Barnes text on this verse.

{d} "faithless" Deuteronomy 32:20; Psalms 78:8; Hebrews 3:10

Verse 20. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 21. No Barnes text on this verse.

{e} "of a child" Job 5:7; Psalms 51:5

Verse 22. If thou canst do any thing. I have brought him to the disciples, and they could not help him. If THOU canst do anything, have compassion, etc.

Verse 23. If thou canst believe. This was an answer to the request; and there was a reference in the answer to the doubt in the man's mind about the power of Jesus. I can help him. If THOU canst believe, it shall be done. Jesus here demanded faith or confidence in his power of healing. So he demands faith of every sinner that comes to him; and none that come without confidence in him can obtain the blessing.

All things are possible to him that believeth. All things can be effected or accomplished--to wit, by God--in favour of him that believes; and if thou canst believe, this will be done. God will do nothing in our favour without faith. It is right that we should have confidence in him; and if we have confidence, it is easy for him to help us, and he willingly does it. In our weakness, then, we should go to God our Saviour; and though we have no strength, yet he can aid us, and he will make all things easy for us.

Verse 24. Said with tears. The man felt the implied rebuke in the Saviour's language. And feeling grieved that he should be thought to be destitute of faith, and feeling deeply for the welfare of his afflicted son, he wept. Nothing can be more touching or natural than this. An anxious father distressed at the condition of his son; having applied to the disciples in vain, now coming to the Saviour, and not having full confidence that he had the proper qualification to be aided, he wept. Any man would have wept in his condition, nor would the Saviour turn the weeping suppliant away.

I believe. I have faith. I do put confidence in thee; though I know that my faith is not as strong as it should be.

Lord. This word, here, signifies merely master, or sir, as it does often in the New Testament. We have no evidence that he had any knowledge of the Divine nature of our Saviour and he applied the word, probably, as he would have done to any other teacher or worker of miracles.

Help thou mine unbelief. Supply thou the defects of my faith. Give me strength and grace to put entire confidence in thee. Every one who comes to the Saviour for help has need of offering this prayer. In our unbelief and our doubts we need his aid, nor can we ever put sufficient reliance on him without his gracious help.

{g} "tears" Psalms 126:5
{h} "help thou" Hebrews 12:2

Verse 25. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 26. No Barnes text on this verse.

{i} "rent him sore" Revelation 12:12

Verse 27. No Barnes text on this verse.

{k} "by the hand" Isaiah 41:13

Verse 28. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 29. No Barnes text on this verse.

{l} "by prayer" Ephesians 6:18
{m} "and fasting" 1 Corinthians 9:27

Verses 30-32. Matthew 17:22,23

Verse 31. Is delivered. Is given to me to make atonement by his sufferings and death, and will in due time be taken and killed.

Verse 32. No Barnes text on this verse.

{n} "ask him" John 16:19

Verse 33. See Barnes "Matthew 18:1", and Matthew 18:2-6"

{o} "And he came" Matthew 18:1; Luke 9:46; 22:24

Verse 34. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 35. No Barnes text on this verse.

{p} "If amy man" Matthew 20:26; Mark 10:43

Verse 36. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 37. No Barnes text on this verse.

{q} "Whosoever" Luke 9:48

Verse 38. We saw one, etc. There is no improbability in supposing that this might have been one of the disciples of John, or one of the seventy whom Jesus had sent out, and who, though he did not personally attend on Jesus, yet had the power of working miracles. There is no evidence that he was merely an exorcist, or that he used the name of Jesus merely as a pretence.

{r} "we saw one" Numbers 11:26-28

Verse 39. Forbid him not. Do not prevent his doing good. If he can work a miracle in my name, it is sufficient proof of attachment to me, and he should not be prevented.

Can lightly speak evil of me. The word here rendered lightly, means quickly, or immediately. The meaning of the passage is, that he to whom God gave the power of working a miracle, by that gave evidence that he could not soon be found among the enemies of Jesus. He ought not, therefore, to be prevented from doing it. There is no reason to think, here, that John had any improper designs in opposing the man. He thought that it was evidence that he could not be right, because he did not Join them and follow the Saviour. Our Lord thought differently. He opposed no one who gave evidence that he loved him. Wherever he might be, or whatever his work, yet, if he did it in the name of Jesus, and with the approbation of God, it was evidence sufficient that he was right. Christians should rejoice in good done by their brethren of any denomination. There are men calling themselves Christians who seem to look with doubt and suspicion on all that is done by those who do not walk with them. They undervalue their labours, attempt to lessen the evidences of their success, and to diminish their influence. True likeness to the Saviour would lead us to rejoice in all the good accomplished, by whomsoever it may be done; and to rejoice that the kingdom of Christ is advanced, whether by a Presbyterian, an Episcopalian, a Baptist, or a Methodist. Compare Philippians 1:18.

{s} "there is no man" 1 Corinthians 12:3

Verse 40. No Barnes text on this verse.

{t} "For he that" Matthew 12:30

Verse 41. Whosoever shall give you a cup, etc. How easy it is to be a Christian! What is easier than to give a cup of cold water to a thirsty disciple of Jesus! But it must be in his name--that is, because he is a Christian, and therefore from love to the Saviour. This is very different from giving it from a mere motive of common kindness. If done from love to Christ, it will be rewarded; and hence we learn that the humblest acts of Christians, the lowest service that is rendered, will be graciously noticed by Jesus, and rewarded. None are so humble in his kingdom as not to be able to do good; and none so poor that, in his circumstances, may not show attach merit to him. Their feeblest service will be accepted; and acts of love, that may be forgotten by man, will be remembered by him, and rewarded in heaven.

{u} "for whosoever" Matthew 10:42; 25:40

Verses 42-50. See Matthew 18:7-9. Millstone. See Matthew 18:6.

Verse 43. No Barnes text on this verse.

{w} "And if thine hand" Deuteronomy 13:6
{1} "offend" or, "cause thee to offend"

Verses 44,46. Their worm. This figure is clearly taken from Isaiah 66:24. In describing the great prosperity of the kingdom of the Messiah, Isaiah says, that the people of God shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of men who have transgressed against God. Their enemies Shall be overcome. They shall be slain. The people of God shall triumph. The figure is taken from heaps of the dead slain in battle; and the prophet says, that the number shall be so great, that their worm--the worm feeding on the dead--shall not die, shall live long--as long as there are carcasses to be devoured; and that the fire which was used to burn the bodies of the dead shall continue long to burn, and shall not be extinguished till they are consumed. The figure, therefore, denotes great misery, and certain and terrible destruction. In these verses it is applied to the state beyond the grave, and is intended to denote that the destruction of the wicked will be awful, wide-spread, and eternal. It is not to be supposed that there will be any real worm in hell--perhaps no material fire. Nor can it be told what was particularly intended by the undying worm. There is no authority for applying it, as is often done, to remorse of conscience, any more than to any other of the pains and reflections of hell. It is a mere image of loathsome, dreadful, and eternal sufferings. In what that suffering will consist, it is probably beyond the power of any living mortal to imagine. The word "their," in the phrase "their worm," is used merely to keep up the image or figure. Dead bodies, putrefying in that valley, would be overrun with worms, while the fire was not confined to them, but spread to other objects, kindled by combustibles through all the valley. It is not meant, therefore, that every particular sufferer has a peculiar worm, or has particular sins that cause remorse of conscience. That is a truth; but it does not appear that it is intended to be taught here.

{x} "Where their worm" Isaiah 66:24; Revelation 14:11

Verse 45. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 46. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

Verse 47. See Barnes "Mark 9:43".

{3} "offend" Mark 9:43

Verse 48. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 49. Every one shall be salted with fire. PERHAPS NO PASSAGE IN THE New Testament has given more perplexity to commentators than this; and it may be impossible now to fix its precise meaning. The common meaning affixed to it has been, that as salt preserves from putrefaction, so fire, applied to the wicked in hell, shall have the property of preserving them in existence, or they shall be preserved amidst the sprinkling of fire, to be continually, in their sufferings, a sacrifice to the justice of God. But this meaning is not quite satisfactory. Another opinion has been, that as salt is sprinkled on the victim preparatory to its being devoted to God, (Leviticus 2:13) so should the apostles, by trials, calamities, etc., represented here by fire be prepared as a sacrifice and offering to God. Probably the passage has not reference at all to future punishment; and the difficulty of interpreting it has arisen from supposing it connected with the 48th verse, or given as a reason for what is said in that verse, rather than considering it as designed to illustrate the general design of the passage. The main scope of the passage was not to discourse of future punishment. That is brought in incidentally. The chief object of the passage was,

(1st) to teach them that other men, not with them, might be true Christians, Mark 9:38,39.

(2nd.) That they should be disposed to look favourably upon the slightest evidence that they might be, Mark 9:41

(3rd.) That they ought to avoid giving offence to such feeble and obscure Christians, Mark 9:42.

(4th.) That everything calculated to give offence, or to dishonour religion, should be removed, Mark 9:43. And,

(5th.) that everything which would endanger their salvation should be sacrificed; that they should deny themselves and practise all self-denials, in order to obtain eternal life. In this way they would be preserved to eternal life. The word "fire" here, therefore, denotes self-denials, sacrifices, trials, in keeping ourselves from the gratification of the flesh. As if he had said: "Look at the sacrifice on the altar. It is an offering to God, about to be presented to him. It is sprinkled with salt, emblematic of PURITY, of PRESERVATION, and of fitting it, therefore, for a sacrifice. So you are devoted to God. YOU are sacrifices, victims, offerings, to him in his service. To make you acceptable offerings, everything must be done to preserve you from sin, to purify you, and to make you fit offerings. Self-denials, subduing the lusts, enduring trials, removing offences, are the proper preservatives in the service of God. Doing this, you will be acceptable offerings, and be saved; without this, you will be unfit for his eternal service, and will be lost."

{z} "sacrifice" Leviticus 2:13; Ezekiel 43:24

Verse 50. Lost his saltness, etc. See Barnes "Matthew 5:13".

Have salt in yourselves. Have the preserving, purifying principle always; the principles of denying yourselves of suppressing pride, ambition, contention, etc., and thus you will be an acceptable offering to God.

Have peace. Avoid contention and quarrelling, struggling for places, honours, and office, and seek each other's welfare, and religion will be honoured and preserved in the world.

{a} "salt have lost" Matthew 5:13; Luke 14:34
{b} "salt in yourselves" Colossians 4:6
{c} "have peace one" Psalms 34:14; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Hebrews 12:14

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 9". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". <>.  


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