Mark 1
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
1. The beginning] St Mark commences his Gospel suddenly and concisely. He does not begin with a genealogy of our Lord, like St Matthew, or with the history of the Infancy, as St Luke, or with the doctrine of the Eternal Word, as St John. He desires to pourtray Christ in the fulness of His living energy. See Introduction, pp. 16, 17.

of Jesus Christ] The Gospel of Jesus Christ denotes the Glad Tidings concerning Jesus Christ = the Messiah, the anointed Prophet, Priest, and King. For the meaning of the name Jesus see Matthew 1:21.

the Son of God] Contrast this with St Matthew 1:1, “the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” The first Evangelist writes for Jews, the second for Gentiles.

Ch. Mark 1:1-8. The Preaching and Baptism of John

The object of St Mark is to relate the official life and ministry of our Lord. He therefore begins with His baptism, and first relates, as introductory to it, the preaching of John the Baptist.

As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
2. in the prophets] The citation is from two prophets, (1) Malachi 3:1, (2) Isaiah 40:3. Some would read here in Isaiah the Prophet according to certain MSS. Observe that St Mark in his own narrative quotes the Old Testament only twice, here and Mark 15:28. See Introduction, p. 12.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
4. the wilderness] i. e. the dry and unpeopled region extending from the gates of Hebron to the shores of the Dead Sea. “It is a dreary waste of rocky valleys; in some parts stern and terrible, the rocks cleft and shattered by earthquakes and convulsions into rifts and gorges, sometimes a thousand feet in depth, though only thirty or forty in width … The whole district is, in fact, the slope of the midland chalk and limestone hills, from their highest point of nearly 3000 feet near Hebron, to 1000 or 1500 feet at the valley of the Dead Sea. The Hebrews fitly call it Jeshimon (1 Samuel 23:19; 1 Samuel 23:24), ‘the appalling desolation,’ or ‘horror.’ ”

for the remission] or unto the remission. See margin and comp. Matthew 26:28; Luke 1:77. This remission was to be received of the Messiah. John required of all who came to him a change of mind and life with a view to pardon from Christ. Thus his baptism was preparatory to that of Christ.

And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
5. all the land] This strong expression is peculiar to St Mark. But it is illustrated by the other Gospels. The crowds that flocked to his baptism included representatives of every class, Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 3:7), tax-gatherers (Luke 3:12), soldiers (Luke 3:14), rich and poor (Luke 3:10).

of Jordan] Of here is redundant and appositional. We use it after “town,” “city,” “valley.” For its use after river, comp. “the river of Cydnus,” Shak. A. and C. II. 2. 192. The word “river” does not occur in the best MSS. of Matthew 3:6. It is used by St Mark, who writes for those who were unacquainted with the geography of Palestine.

And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
6. was clothed] The Evangelist draws our attention to three points in reference to the Baptist:

(a) His appearance. He recalled the asceticism of the Essene. His raiment was of the coarsest texture, such as was worn by Elijah (2 Kings 1:8) and the prophets generally (Zechariah 13:4). His girdle, an ornament often of the greatest richness in Oriental costume and of the finest linen (Jeremiah 13:1; Ezekiel 16:10) or cotton or embroidered with silver and gold (Daniel 10:5; Revelation 1:13; Revelation 15:6), was of untanned leather (2 Kings 1:8), like that worn by the Bedouin of the present day.

(b) His diet was the plainest and simplest. Locusts were permitted as an article of food (Leviticus 11:21-22). Sometimes they were ground and pounded, and then mixed with flour and water and made into cakes; sometimes they were salted and then eaten. For wild honey comp. the story of Jonathan, 1 Samuel 14:25-27.

(c) His message. (1) That the members of the Elect Nation were all morally unclean, and all needed moral and spiritual regeneration; (2) that One mightier than he was coming; (3) that He would baptize with the Holy Ghost.

And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
7. cometh] present tense. With prophetic foresight the Baptist sees Him already come and in the midst.

latchet] diminutive of latch, like the Fr. lacet dim. of lace, comes from the Latin laqueus = a “noose,” and means anything that catches. We now only apply latch to the catch of a door or gate. We speak of a “shoe-lace,” and “lace” is radically the same word. Here it denotes the thong or fastening by which the sandal was fastened to the foot; comp. Genesis 14:23; Isaiah 5:27. The office of bearing and unfastening the sandals of great personages fell to the meanest slaves.

to stoop down] This expression is peculiar to St Mark. It is the first of those minute details which we shall find in such abundance in his Gospel.

I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
9–11. The Baptism of Jesus

9. in those days] i. e. towards the close of the year a. u. c. 781, or a. d. 28, when our Lord was thirty years of age (Luke 3:23), the time appointed for the Levite’s entrance on “the service of the ministry” (Numbers 4:3).

came from Nazareth] where He had grown up in peaceful seclusion, “increasing in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52), in a town unknown and unnamed in the Old Testament, situated among the hills which constitute the southern ridges of Lebanon, just before they sink down into the Plain of Esdraelon.

baptized of] i. e. by John. Comp. Luke 14:8, “when thou art bidden of (=by) any man;” Php 3:12, “I am apprehended of (= by) Christ;” Collect for 25th Sunday after Trinity, “may of (=by) Thee be plenteously rewarded.”

in Jordan] Either (i) at the ancient ford near Succoth, which some have identified with the Bethabara or rather Bethany of St John (John 1:28); or (ii) at a more southern ford not far from Jericho, whither the multitudes that flocked from Judæa and Jerusalem (Mark 1:5) would have found a speedier and more convenient access. From St Matthew we learn that (i) the purport of the Saviour’s journey from Galilee was that He might be thus baptized (Matthew 3:13); that (ii) His Forerunner instantly recognised His superhuman and stainless nature; that (iii) he tried earnestly to prevent Him; that (iv) his objections were overruled by the reply that thus it became Him to “fulfil all righteousness,” i. e. every requirement of the Law. St Luke tells us that the Baptism of our Lord did not take place till “all the people had been baptized” (Luke 3:21).

And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
10. straightway] This is St Mark’s favourite connecting word, and constantly recurs; comp. Mark 1:12; Mark 1:28, Mark 4:5; Mark 4:15, Mark 8:10. Mark 9:15, Mark 11:3, and other places.

he saw] i. e. Jesus, while engaged, as we learn from St Luke 3:21, in solemn, prayer. We find solemn prayer preceding (i) our Lord’s Baptism, (ii) His choice of the Twelve (Luke 6:12), (iii) His Transfiguration (Luke 9:29), (iv) His Agony in the Garden (Matthew 26:39).

opened] Lit rent, or rending asunder, one of St Mark’s graphic touches: see the Introduction. The same word in the original Greek is applied to “the old garment rending the new piece” (Luke 5:36); to the veil of the Temple rent in twain at the Crucifixion (Luke 23:45); to the rending of the rocks at the same time (Matthew 27:51); and of the net in the Lake after the Resurrection (John 21:11).

And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
11. a voice from heaven] The first of the three heavenly Voices to be heard during our Lord’s Ministry, viz., at (i) His Baptism; (ii) His Transfiguration (Mark 9:7); (iii) in the courts of the Temple during Holy Week (John 12:28). This Voice attested in the presence of His Forerunner the Divine Nature of our Lord, and inaugurated His public Ministry. The Baptism was a very important event in our Lord’s life:—

(1) Needing no purification Himself, He submitted to it as the Head of His Body, the Church (Ephesians 1:22) for all His members;

(2) He was thus by baptism, and the unction of the Holy Ghost which followed (Matthew 3:16; comp. Exodus 29:4-37; Leviticus 8:1-30), solemnly consecrated to His office as Redeemer;

(3) He “sanctified water to the mystical washing away of sin.” See the Baptismal Office;

(4) He gave to His Church for all time a striking revelation of the Divine Nature, the Son submitting in all lowliness to every requirement of the Law, the Father approving by a voice from heaven, the Spirit descending and abiding upon the Son. “I ad Jordanem, et videbis Trinitatem.”

12, 13. The Temptation

And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.
12. immediately] See above, Mark 1:10. The object of the Saviour’s first Advent was “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). His very first work, therefore, was to enter on a conflict with the great Enemy of mankind.

driveth him] This is a stronger word than that employed by St Matthew, who says He was led up (Matthew 4:1), or by St Luke, who says He was led by the Spirit (Luke 4:1). The same word is here used as in Matthew 9:38, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth labourers into His harvest;” in John 10:4, “when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them.” The word denotes the Divine impulse of the Holy Ghost, which constrained Him to go forth to the encounter, and hints at a rapid translation, such as that by which Prophets and Evangelists were caught up and carried to a distance (1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Acts 8:39).

And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
13. tempted of Satan] In Matthew 4:1 and Luke 4:2, He is said to have been tempted by the Devil, i. e. the “Slanderer,” who slanders God to man (Genesis 3:1-5) and man to God (Job 1:9-11; Revelation 12:10). St Mark, who never uses this word, says He was tempted by Satan, i e. “the Enemy” of God and man alike. He seems to have been permitted to tempt our Lord during the whole of the forty days, but at the end of that period to have assailed Him with increased intensity through every avenue that could allure, as afterwards in Gethsemane through every channel that could terrify and appal (Luke 4:13).

the wild beasts] St Mark relates the Temptation very briefly, but he alone adds the graphic touch to the picture that the Saviour was “with the wild beasts,” unhurt by them, as Adam was in Paradise. Comp. Daniel in the den of lions.

the angels] St Matthew records the ministry of Angels at the close as to a Heavenly Prince (Matthew 4:11). St Mark records a ministry of the same celestial Visitants apparently throughout the trial.

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
14. put in prison] The causes of the imprisonment of the Baptist are more fully related by the Evangelist ch. Mark 6:17-20.

came into Galilee] and commenced the great Galilean ministry. Galilee was the most northern and the most populous of the three provinces, into which the Romans had divided Palestine. It was to Roman Palestine what the manufacturing districts are to England, covered with busy towns and teeming villages, Roman custom-houses and thriving fisheries. See Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, pp. 375–377.

the gospel of the kingdom of God] or according to some MSS. the Gospel of God.

14, 15. Beginning of our Lord’s Ministry

Between the events just described and those on which the Evangelist now enters, must be placed several recorded chiefly by St John; viz., (1) The testimony of the Baptist to Christ as the Lamb of God (John 1:19-34); (2) the early joining of Andrew, John, Simon, Philip and Nathanael (John 1:35-51); (3) the marriage at Cana (John 2:1-12); (4) the first visit to Jerusalem, first cleansing of the Temple and conference with Nicodemus (John 2:13-21; John 3:1-21); (5) the ministry with the Baptist (John 3:22-36); (6) the imprisonment of the Baptist (Luke 3:19-20); (7) the return of Jesus to Galilee through Samaria, and the discourse with the woman at Jacob’s well (John 4:3-42); (8) cure of the nobleman’s son at Cana (John 4:43-54).

And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
15. The time, i. e. the great fore-ordained and predicted time of the Messiah.

the kingdom of God] or as it is called in St Matthew the Kingdom of the Heavens (comp. Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:13-14; Daniel 7:27), denotes here the Kingdom of grace, the visible Church, of which our Lord described (a) in the parable of “the Mustard Seed” (Matthew 13:31-32), its slight and despised beginning; (b) in that of “the Hidden Leaven” and the “Seed growing secretly,” its hidden and mysterious working (Matthew 13:33; Mark 4:26-29); (c) and again in the first two Parables its final and assured triumph in spite of the obstacles set forth in the Parable of “the Tares” (Matthew 13:24-30).

believe] Rather believe in, repose your faith on, the Gospel.

Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
16–20. Call of the first Four Disciples

16. as he walked] The Saviour had come down (Luke 4:31; John 4:47; John 4:51) from the high country of Galilee, and now made His permanent abode in the deep retreat of the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum “His own city” (Matthew 4:13; Luke 4:31), whence He could easily communicate, as well by land as by the Lake, with many important towns, and in the event of any threatened persecution retire into a more secure region.

the sea of Galilee] called (i) in the Old Testament “the Sea of Chinnereth” or “Cinneroth” (Numbers 34:11; Joshua 12:3) from a town of that name which stood on or near its shore (Joshua 19:35), in the New (ii) “the Sea of Galilee” from the province which bordered on its western side (Matthew 4:18; Mark 7:31), (iii) “the Lake of Gennesaret” (Luke 5:1), (iv) “the Sea of Tiberias” (John 21:1), and sometimes (v) simply “the Sea” (Matthew 4:15).

he saw Simon] whom He had already invited to His acquaintance (John 1:40-42); He now calls him to the Apostleship. The recent cure of the son of the officer in Herod’s court had roused much interest at Capernaum, and many pressed upon the Saviour to “hear the Word of God” (Luke 5:1). It became clear, therefore, that an opportunity was offered for an active and systematic ministry in Galilee, and four of the number afterwards known as “the Twelve” were now permanently attached to the Saviour’s Person, and invested with power to become “fishers of men.”

a net] The net here spoken of and in Matthew 4:18 was a casting-net, circular in shape, “like the top of a tent,” in Latin funda or jaculum. The net spoken of in Matthew 13:47-48 is the drag-net or hauling-net, the English seine or sean, sometimes half a mile in length; that alluded to in Luke 5:4-9 is the bag-net or basket-net, so constructed and worked as to enclose the fish out in deep water.

And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.
19. James the son of Zebedee] Two brothers had already been called and two more were now to join them.

And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.
20. straightway] Notice the frequency of this formula of transition. It has occurred just before, Mark 1:18.

the hired servants] The mention of these, of the two vessels employed (Luke 5:7), and the subsequent allusion to St John’s acquaintance with a person in so high a position as the high priest (John 18:15), seem to indicate that Zebedee, if not a wealthy man, was at any rate of some position at Capernaum.

went after him] For the miraculous draught of fishes which accompanied or followed this incident see Luke 5:2-11. Observe how gradually the Four had been called to their new work; (1) first they were disciples of the Baptist (John 1:35); (2) then they were directed by him to the Lamb of God (John 1:36); (3) afterwards they were invited by our Lord to see where He dwelt (John 1:39); (4) then they became witnesses of His first miracle (John 2:2); (5) now after a further exhibition of His power over nature they are enrolled amongst His attached followers. The still more formal call was yet to come.

And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.
21–28. The Cure of the Demoniac at Capernaum

21. Capernaum] is not mentioned in the Old Testament or the Apocrypha. It was situated on the western shore of the Lake, in “the land of Gennesaret” (Matthew 14:34; John 6:17; John 6:24), and was of sufficient size to be always called “a city” (Matthew 9:1). It was a customs station (Matthew 9:9; Luke 5:27), and the quarters of a detachment of Roman soldiers (Matthew 8:9; Luke 7:8). It was the scene of many striking incidents in the Gospel History besides that here recorded. It was at Capernaum that the Lord healed Simon’s wife’s mother (Matthew 8:14); wrought the miracle on the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5); cured the paralytic (Matthew 9:1); called Levi from the toll-house (Matthew 9:9); taught His Apostles the lesson of humility from the child set in their midst (Mark 9:35-37), and delivered the wonderful discourse respecting the “Bread of Life” (John 6:59).

the synagogue] built for the Jews by the good centurion (Luke 7:5).

And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
22. not as the scribes] The Scribes, Sopherîm, first came into prominence in the time of Ezra. Their duty was to copy, read, study, explain, and “fence round” the Law with “the tradition of the Elders” (Matthew 15:2). The Scribes proper only lasted till the death of Simon “the Just,” b. c. 300. In the New Testament they are sometimes called “lawyers” (Matthew 22:35), or “Doctors of the Law” (Luke 5:17). Their teaching was preeminently second-hand. They simply repeated the decisions of previous Rabbis. But our Lord’s teaching was absolute and independent. His formula was not “It hath been said,” but “I say unto you.”

And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
23. with an unclean spirit] lit. in an unclean spirit, i. e. in his power, under his influence. St Luke describes him as having a “spirit of an unclean demon” (Luke 4:33). He seems to have entered unobserved amongst the throng, but could not resist the spell of that Pure Presence.

Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.
24. Let us alone] Many MSS. omit the Greek word thus translated. Even if genuine, it appears to be rather an exclamation of horror = the Latin vah! heu! It is not the man who cries out so much as the Evil Spirit which had usurped dominion over him.

Jesus of Nazareth] As the angels had in songs of rapture recognised their King (Luke 2:13-14), so the evil spirits instantly recognise Him, but with cries of despair. They evince no hope and no submission, only inveterate hostility. They believe and tremble (James 2:19). Man alone recognises not the “King in His beauty” (Isaiah 33:17). “He was in the world and the world was made by Him,” and yet “the world knew Him not” (John 1:10).

And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
25. rebuked him] Though he had borne testimony to Christ, yet his testimony is not accepted, for it was probably intended only to do harm, “to anticipate and mar His great purpose and plan.” Compare the conduct of St Paul in reference to the girl possessed with the spirit of Apollo (Acts 16:16-18).

Hold thy peace] lit. Be muzzled. The same word is used by our Lord in rebuking the storm on the Lake, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39). Wyclif translates it “wexe doumbe.” The word means (1) “to close the mouth with a muzzle, comp. 1 Corinthians 9:9, “Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn,” cited here and in 1 Timothy 5:18 from Deuteronomy 25:4; (2) to reduce to silence, as in Matthew 22:34, “But when the Pharisees had heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence,” and 1 Peter 2:15, “so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” It is also used in reference to the man who had not on the wedding garment, “he was speechless” (Matthew 22:12).

And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
26. had torn him] i. e. thrown him into strong convulsions, and according to St Luke’s account, into the midst (Luke 4:35), comp. Mark 9:26. The first miracle recorded by St Matt. is the healing of a leper by a touch (Matthew 8:1-4); the first miracle which St John records is the changing water into wine (John 2:1-11); the first miracle recorded by St Mark and St Luke (Luke 4:33-37) is this casting out of a demon in the synagogue of Capernaum.

And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.
And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.
And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
29–34. The Cure of Peter’s Wife’s Mother and Others

29. they] i. e. the Lord and the four disciples, whom He had already called. It was a Sabbath day, and He probably went to the Apostle’s house to eat bread. Comp. Luke 14:1.

But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.
30. Simon’s wife’s mother] For St Paul’s allusion to him as a married man see 1 Corinthians 9:5.

sick of a fever] a “great” or “violent fever” according to the physician St Luke. Intermittent fever and dysentery, the latter often fatal, are ordinary Arabian diseases.

And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.
31. he came] Observe all the graphic touches in this verse; the Lord (i) went to the sufferer, (ii) took her by the hand, (iii) lifted her up, and (iv) the fever, rebuked by the Lord of life (Luke 4:39), left her, and (v) she began to minister unto them.

And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.
32. when the sun did set] All three Evangelists carefully record, that it was not till the sun was setting or had actually set, that these sick were brought to Jesus. The reason of this probably was (1) either that they waited till the mid-day heat was past and the cool of the evening was come, or (2) the day being the Sabbath (Mark 1:29-32), they were unwilling to violate the sacred rest of the day, and so waited till it was ended.

And all the city was gathered together at the door.
33. at the door] i. e. the door of St Peter’s house, “the door so well known to him who supplied St Mark with materials for his Gospel.” St Matthew connects the cures now wrought with the prophecy of Isaiah 53:4, Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses.

And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
35–39. Solitary Prayer. Tour in Galilee

35. in the morning, … a great while before day] Another graphic touch of the Evangelist. He brings the scene before our eyes. The previous day had been a long day of conflict with and victory over the kingdom of sin and death. He now retires to refresh Himself in the heaven of prayer, in communion with His Father. He prepares Himself in the desert for a second great mission of Love, this time accompanied by His first four disciples.

a solitary place] “A remarkable feature of the Lake of Gennesaret was that it was closely surrounded with desert solitudes. These ‘desert places’ thus close at hand on the table-lands or in the ravines of the eastern and western ranges, gave opportunities of retirement for rest or prayer. ‘Rising up early in the morning while it was yet dark’ or ‘passing over to the other side in a boat,’ He sought these solitudes, sometimes alone, sometimes with His disciples. The Lake in this double aspect is thus a reflex of that union of energy and rest, of active labour and deep devotion, which is the essence of Christianity, as it was of the Life of Him, in whom that union was first taught and shewn.” Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, pp. 378, 379.

And Simon and they that were with him followed after him.
36. Simon] already with his earnest impulsiveness beginning to take the lead. Comp. Luke 8:45; Luke 9:32.

followed after Him] The word in the original is very expressive and only occurs here. It denotes (i) to follow hard upon, (ii) to pursue closely, to track out. “Simon and his friends almost hunted for Him.” It generally implies a hostile intent. It occurs in a good sense in the LXX. rendering of Psalm 23:6, “Thy mercy shall follow me.”

And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.
And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.
38. towns] rather village-towns or country-towns. The word only occurs here. His gracious Presence was not to be confined to Capernaum. Dalmanutha, Magdala, Bethsaida, Chorazin were all near at hand. For the crowded population of Galilee, see Josephus B. J. iii. 3, 2.

And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.
And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
40–45. Cleansing of a Leper

40. there came] Better, there cometh, in the present tense. See Introduction, p. 19.

a leper] One afflicted with the most terrible of all maladies, “a living death, a poisoning of the springs, a corrupting of all the humours, of life; a dissolution little by little of the whole body, so that one limb after another actually decayed and fell away.” The Jews called it “the Finger of God,” and emphatically “the Stroke;” they never expected to cure it (see 2 Kings 5:7). With lip covered (Ezekiel 24:17), and bare head (Leviticus 14:8-9), and rent garments, the leper bore about with him the emblems of mortality, “himself a dreadful parable of death.” Compare the cases of Moses (Exodus 4:6), Miriam (Numbers 12:10), Naaman (2 Kings 5:1), Gehazi (2 Kings 5:27).

kneeling down to him] St Mark alone describes this attitude of the leper, as also the look of compassion which beamed forth from the face of the Lord, spoken of in the next verse.

And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
41. and touched him] though this act was strictly forbidden by the Mosaic Law as causing ceremonial defilement. But “He, Himself remaining undefiled, cleansed him whom He touched; for in Him life overcame death, and health sickness, and purity defilement.”

And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;
43. And he straitly charged him] The word thus rendered occurs in four other places; (1) Matthew 9:30, “Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it;” (2) Mark 14:5, “And they murmured against her,” said of the Apostles in their indignation against Mary; (3) John 11:33; John 11:38, “And He groaned in spirit,” said of our Lord at the grave of Lazarus. It denotes (1) to be very angry or indignant, (2) to charge or command with sternness.

straitly = strictly. Comp. Genesis 43:7, “The man asked us straitly of our state;” Joshua 6:1, “Now Jericho was straitly shut up.” Comp. also Shakespeare, Richard III. i. i. 85, 86,

“His majesty hath straitly given in charge

That no man shall have private conference.”

sent him away] or put him forth. “He would allow no lingering, but required him to hasten on his errand, lest the report of what had been done should outrun him.” It is the same word in the original as in Mark 1:12.

And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
44. shew thyself to the priest] that he may attest the reality of thy cure (Leviticus 14:3).

those things which Moses commanded] viz. (1) two birds, “alive and clean,” Leviticus 14:4, (2) cedar wood, (3) scarlet, and (4) hyssop; this was for the preliminary ceremony (Leviticus 14:4-7). On the eighth day further offerings were to be made, (1) two he lambs without blemish, (2) one ewe lamb, (3) three tenth deals of fine flour, (4) one log of oil. If the leper was poor, he was permitted to offer one lamb and two turtledoves or two young pigeons, with one tenth deal of fine flour.

for a testimony unto them] Rather, for a testimony against them, i. e. against their unbelief in refusing to acknowledge our Lord to be all He claimed to be in spite of His mighty works. Comp. Mark 6:11 with Luke 9:5.

But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.
45. began to publish it much] even as others in similar circumstances found it impossible to keep silence; comp. (1) the blind man, Matthew 9:30-31; (2) the man with an impediment of speech, Mark 7:36.

could no more openly enter into the city] In these words we have perhaps one of the reasons why the Lord enjoined silence on the leper. A certain degree of secrecy and reserve was plainly necessary in respect to the Lord’s miracles, or it would have been impossible for Him to have moved from place to place.

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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Matthew 28
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