Mark 9
Expositor's Greek Testament


And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.
And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.
Mark 9:2-13. The transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13, Luke 9:28-36).

Mark 9:2. ἀναφέρει with accusative of person = to lead, a usage unknown to the Greeks. So in Mt.; Lk. avoids the expression.—κατʼ ἰδίαν μόνους, apart alone, a pleonasm, yet μόνους, in Mk. only, is not superfluous. It emphasises the κατʼ ἰδίαν, and expresses the passion for solitude. Strictly, it refers only to the three disciples as opposed to the nine, but it really reflects the feeling of Jesus, His desire to be alone with three select companions for a season.

And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.
Mark 9:3. στίλβοντα, glittering; here only in N. T., common in classics; in Sept[70] of bright brass (Ezra 8:27); “flashing sword “(R. V[71], Nahum 3:3); sunshine on shields (1Ma 6:39).—λευκὰ λίαν, white very. All the evangelists become descriptive. Mk., as was to be expected, goes beyond the two others.—ὡς χιὠν (T.R.) is a tempting addition, especially if Hermon was the scene, but it so adequately expresses the highest degree of whiteness, that alongside of it λίαν and the following words, οἷα, etc., would have been superfluous.—γναφεὺς, a fuller, here only in N. T. (ἀγνάφου in Mark 2:21).—ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, suggesting a contrast between what fullers on this earth can do in the way of whitening cloth, and the heaven-wrought brightness of Christ’s garments (Schanz).


[71] Revised Version.

And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.
Mark 9:4. Ἡλίας σὺν Μ.: Elijah first, not as the more important, but because of his special significance in connection with Messiah’s advent, which was the subject of subsequent conversation (Mark 9:9 ff.).

And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
Mark 9:5. Ῥαββί, Rabbi: each evangelist has a different word here.—καλόν, etc. On this vide notes in Mt.—ποιήσωμεν: let us make, not let me make as in Mt. (vide notes there).—σοὶ μίαν καὶ Μωσεῖ, etc.: Moses now comes before Elijah.

For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.
Mark 9:6. τί ἀποκριθῇ, what he should answer—to the vision; he did not know what else to make of it than that Moses and Elijah had come to stay. This is probably an apologetic remark added by the evangelist to the original narrative. Lk. reproduces it in a somewhat altered form.—ἔκφοβοι: they were frightened out of their wits (again in Hebrews 12:21); explains the stupidity of Peter. The fear created by the sudden preternatural sight made him talk nonsense. Mt. makes the fear follow the Divine voice.

And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
Mark 9:7. καὶ ἐγένετο, before νεφέλη, and again before φωνὴ, in each place instead of Mt.’s ἰδοὺ; in both cases pointing to something remarkable: an overshadowing cloud, and a mysterious voice from the cloud.

And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.
Mark 9:8. ἐξάπινα, suddenly, a form belonging to late Greek = ἐξαπίνης = ἐξαίφνης: here only in N. T.; several times in Sept[72] Kypke cites examples from the Psalms of Solomon and Jamblichus. The word here qualifies not περιβλεψάμενοι, but the change in the state of things which they discovered (εἶδον) on looking around.—οὐκέτι οὐδένα ἀλλὰ, etc.; no longer any one except (ἀλλὰ = εἰ μὴ after a negative).—τὸν Ἰησοῦν, etc.: Jesus alone with themselves: the whole celestial vision gone as quickly as it came.


And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.
Mark 9:9-13. Conversation during the descent, not given in Lk.

And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.
Mark 9:10. τὸν λόγον ἐκράτησαν, they kept the word; i.e., if the verb be taken in the sense of Mark 7:3-4; Mark 7:8, gave heed to the Master’s prohibition of speech concerning what had just happened, at least till after the resurrection—strictly complied with His wish. If we connect πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς with ἐκράτ., the meaning will be: they kept the saying to (with) themselves (A. V[73]), or rather, taking λόγον in the sense of “thing,” they kept the matter—what had happened—to themselves: did not speak about it. The sense is the same in effect, but the latter is perhaps the better connection of words, as if πρὸς ἑ. were intended to go with συζητοῦντες it would more naturally have come after it.—τί ἐστι τὸ, etc.: the reference to the resurrection in the prohibition of the Master puzzled and troubled the three disciples: resurrection—His own, and soon, in our time; but that implies death; whereof, indeed, He lately spoke to us, but how hard to receive! Peter’s resistance, sympathised with by his brethren, not yet overcome. They speak of it to one another, though not again to the Master.

[73] Authorised Version.

And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?
Mark 9:11. ὅτι λέγουσιν, etc.: this may be taken as an indirect or suggested rather than expressed question, ὅτι being recitative, as in Mark 2:16 = the Pharisees and scribes say, etc.,—how about that? (Weiss in Meyer), or, writing not ὅτι but , τι (neuter of ὅστις), as an instance of the use of this pronoun as an interrogative in a direct question (Meyer, Schanz, vide also Burton, M. and T., § 349). De Wette takes ὅτι = τί ὅτι after Beza and Grotius (who calls it one of Mk.’s Hebraisms).

And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought.
Mark 9:12. The construction of this sentence also is somewhat puzzling. After Ἡλίας comes μὲν in the best MSS., raising expectation of a δὲ in the apodosis, instead of which we have καὶ (πῶς γέγραπται). Examples of such substitution occur in classic authors; concerning which Klotz, Devar., p. 659, remarks: when καὶ, τὲ, or the like are put for δὲ after μὲν, it is not properly a case of construction, but rather: “quaedam quasi legitima orationis ἀνακολουθία”. Perhaps we are at a loss from merely reading the words instead of hearing them spoken with a pause between first and second half of sentence, thus: Elias, indeed, coming first, restoreth all things (so teach the scribes)—and how stands it written about the Son of Man?—that He should suffer many things and be set at nought! The aim is to awaken thought in the mind of the disciples by putting together things incongruous. All things to be restored in preparation for Messiah; Messiah Himself to suffer and be set at nought: what then can the real function and fate of Elijah the restorer be? Who is Elijah?—ἐξουδενηθῆ: this form, found in [74] [75] and adopted by W.H[76], is rare. The verb occurs in three forms—ἐξουδενέω, ἐξουδενόω (T.R.), ἐξουθενέω; the latter two in more common use. The word in any form is late Greek. Vide Grimm’s Lexicon, and Lobeck, Phryn., p. 181 (from ἐξ, οὐδέν or οὐθέν=to treat as nought).

[74] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[75] Codex Bezae

[76] Westcott and Hort.

But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.
Mark 9:13 contains Christ’s own view of Elijah’s coming, which differs both from that of the scribes and from that of the disciples, who found it realised in the vision on the hill.—καθὼς γέγραπται ἐπʼ αὐτόν: the reference is to the persecution of Elijah by Jezebel, the obvious intention being to suggest the identification of the expected prophet with the Baptist. All pointing to one conclusion—suffering the appointed lot of the faithful servants of God in this evil world: Elijah, John, Jesus. That, the lesson Jesus wished by all means to inculcate: the δεῖ πολλὰ παθεῖν, now, and henceforth, to the end.

And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them.
Mark 9:14-29. The epileptic boy (Matthew 17:14-21, Luke 9:37-43). The story is told in Mark with much greater fulness than in the parallels.

Mark 9:14. ὄχλον πολὺν: the great crowd and the fact that the disciples at the foot of the hill, the nine, had been asked to heal the sufferer, are in favour of the view that the scene of the transfiguration was less remote than Hermon from the familiar theatre of the healing ministry of Jesus and His disciples.—γραμματεῖς συζητοῦν· τας π. α., scribes wrangling with them, the nine. This is peculiar to Mark, but the situation is easily conceivable: the disciples have tried to heal the boy and failed (Mark 9:18); the scribes, delighted with the failure, taunt them with it, and suggest by way of explanation the waning power of the Master, whose name they had vainly attempted to conjure with. The baffled nine make the best defence they can, or perhaps listen in silence.

And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him.
Mark 9:15. ἐξεθαμβήθησαν, were utterly amazed, used by Mark only in N. T., here, and in Mark 14:33 and Mark 16:5 in connections which demand a very strong sense. What was there in common in the three situations: the returned Master, the agony in the garden, and the appearance of the angel at the resurrection? A surprise; which, whether sorrowful or joyful, always gives a certain emotional shock. The Master reappears, when He is not looked for, when He is needed, and when His name is being taken in vain, perhaps not without a certain sympathy on the part of the volatile crowd not accustomed hitherto to miscarriage of attempts at healing when the name of Jesus was invoked. In that case their feeling would be a compound of confusion and gladness—ashamed and yet delighted to see Him, both betrayed in their manner.

And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them?
Mark 9:16. ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτούς, He asked them, i.e., the people who in numbers ran to meet Him. Jesus had noticed, as He drew near, that there was a dispute going on in which the disciples were concerned, and not knowing the composition of the crowd, He proceeds on the assumption that they had all a share in it = the crowd as a whole versus the nine.

And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;
Mark 9:17. The father of the sick boy answers for the company, explaining the situation, laying the main stress of course on the deplorable condition of his child.—πρὸς δε, to thee, not aware that Jesus was absent.—πνεῦμα ἄλαλον, a dumb spirit; the boy dumb, and therefore by inference the spirit.

And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.
Mark 9:18. ὅπου ἂν α. καταλάβῃ, wherever it happens to seize him. The possession (ἔχοντα, Mark 9:17) is conceived of as intermittent; “the way of the spirit inferred from the characteristic phenomena of the disease” (The Miraculous Element in the Gospels, p. 181). Then follows a graphic description of the ensuing symptoms: spasms (ῥήσσει, a late form of ῥήγνυμι), foaming (ἀφρίζει from ἀφρός: he, the boy, foameth), grinding of the teeth (τρίζει τ. ὀδ.), then the final stage of motionless stupor graphically described as withering (ξηραίνεται), for which Euthy. gives as an equivalent ἀναισθητεῖ, and Weizsäcker “und wird starr”.

He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.
Mark 9:19. The complaint of Jesus, vide on Matthew.—Observe the πρὸς ὑμᾶς instead of Matthew’s μεθʼ ὑμῶν. = how long shall I be in relations with you, have to do with you?

And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.
Mark 9:20. ἰδὼν may be taken as referring to the boy (Schanz), in which case we should have an anacolouthistic nominative for the accusative, the writer having in view to express his meaning in passives (ἐκυλίετο); or to the spirit (πνεῦμα) by a construction ad sensum = the spirit seeing Jesus made a last attack (Weiss in Meyer, et al.). This is most in keeping with the mode of conceiving the matter natural to the evangelist. The visible fact was a fresh fit, and the explanation, from the possession point of view, that the spirit, seeing Jesus, and knowing that his power was at an end, made a final assault.

And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.
Mark 9:21. ὡς: a particle of time, here as frequently in Luke and John = since, or when.—ἐκ παιδιόθεν, ἐκ redundant, similar to ἀπὸ μακρόθεν (Mark 5:6).

And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
Mark 9:22. εἴ τι δύνῃ, if Thou canst do anything (A. and R. Vv.), or better, if anyhow Thou canst help. The father speaks under the impression that the case, as he has just described it, is one of peculiar difficulty; therefore while the leper said “if Thou wilt,” he says “if Thou canst”. With reference to the form δύνῃ, Phryn. says that it is right after ἐὰν, but that at the beginning of a sentence δύνασαι must be used (p. 359).

Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
Mark 9:23. τὸ εἰ δύνῃ, nominative absolute: as to the “if Thou canst”.—πάντα δυν., all, in antithesis to the τι of the father.

And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
Mark 9:24. κράξας: eager, fear-stricken cry; making the most of his little faith, to ensure the benefit, and adding a prayer for increase of faith (βοήθει, etc.) with the idea that it would help to make the cure complete. The father’s love at least was above suspicion. Meyer and Weiss render “help me even if unbelieving,” arguing that the other, more common rendering is at variance with the meaning of βοήθησον in Mark 9:22.

When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.
Mark 9:25-29. The cure.—ἐπισυντρέχει (ἅπ. λεγ.) indicates that the crowd was constantly increasing, so becoming a new crowd (ὄχλος without art.); natural in the circumstances. Jesus seeing this proceeds to cure without further delay. The spirit is now described as unclean and, with reference to the boy’s symptoms, both dumb and deaf.—μηκέτι εἰσέλθῃς, enter not again. This was the essential point in a case of intermittent possession. The spirit went out at the end of each attack, but returned again.

And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead.
Mark 9:26 describes a final fit, apparently worse than the preceding. It was evidently an aggravated type of epilepsy, fit following on fit and producing utter exhaustion. Mark’s elaborate description seems to embody the recollections of one on whom the case had made a great impression.

But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.
And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?
Mark 9:28. εἰς οἶκον: into a house, when or whose not indicated, the one point of interest to the evangelist is that Jesus is now alone with His disciples.—ὅτι, recitative, here as in Mark 9:11, introduces a suggested question: we were not able to cast it out—why?

And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
Mark 9:29. τοῦτο τὸ γένος, etc.: This is one of the texts which very soon became misunderstood, the ascetic addition, καὶ νηστείᾳ, being at once a proof and a cause of misunderstanding. The traditional idea has been that Jesus here prescribes a certain discipline by which the exorcist could gain power to cope successfully with the most obstinate cases of possession, a course of prayer and fasting. This idea continues to dominate the mind even when the ascetic addition to the text has come to be regarded as doubtful; witness this remark: “The authorisation, however (for omitting καὶ νησ.), is not sufficient. But even if it were overwhelming, fasting would, in its essence, be implied” (Morison on Mark). What Jesus said doubtless was: “This kind can go out in (on the ground of) nothing except prayer,” and His meaning that there was no hope of success except through a believing (of course faith is implied) appeal to the almighty power of God. It was a thought of the same kind as that in Matthew 19:26 (Mark 10:27): the impossible for man is possible for God. Of course in the view of Christ, prayer, faith (vide Matthew 17:20), both in healer and in healed, was needful in all cases, but He recognised that there were certain aggravated types of disease (the present, one of them) in which the sense of dependence and trust was very specially required. In the case of the epileptic boy this had been lacking both in the father and in the disciples. Neither he nor they were hopeful of cure.

And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.
Mark 9:30-32. Second announcement of the Passion (Matthew 17:22-23, Luke 9:43-45).

Mark 9:30. καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ἐξελθόντες, going forth from thence, i.e., from the scene of the last cure, wherever that was: it might be north or south of their destination (Capernaum)—Caesarea Philippi or Tabor.—παρεπορεύοντο, they passed along without tarrying anywhere. Some take the παρὰ in the compound verb to mean, went along by-ways, to avoid publicity: “diverticulo ibant, non via regia,” Grotius. It is certainly true that Jesus had become so well known in Galilee that it would be difficult for Him on the thoroughfares to escape recognition as He wished (οὐκ ἤθελεν ἵνα τις γνοῖ).

For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.
Mark 9:31. ἐδίδασκε γὰρ, etc.: gives the reason for this wish. It was the reason for the whole of the recent wandering outside Galilee: the desire to instruct the Twelve, and especially to prepare them for the approaching crisis.—καὶ ἔλεγεν introduces the gist or main theme of these instructions. The words following: ὅτι ὁ υἱὸς, etc., are more than an announcement made in so many words once for all: they are rather the text of Christ’s whole talk with His disciples as they went along. He was so saying (ἔλεγεν, imperfect) all the time, in effect.—παραδίδοται, is betrayed, present; it is as good as done. The betrayal is the new feature in the second announcement.

But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.
Mark 9:32. ἠγνόουν: they had heard the statement before, and had not forgotten the fact, and their Master had spoken too explicitly for them to be in any doubt as to His meaning. What they were ignorant of was the why, the δεῖ. With all He had said, Jesus had not yet been able to make that plain. They will never know till the Passion has become a fact accomplished.—ῥῆμα, a solemn name for the utterance (vide Matthew 4:4) = the oracular, prophetic, and withal weird, mysterious word of doom.—ἐφοβοῦντο, they feared to ask, they did not wish to understand, they would live on in hope that their Master was under a hallucination; true to human nature.

And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?
Mark 9:33-50. The Twelve at school (Matthew 18:1-10, Luke 9:46-50, etc.).

Mark 9:33. Καπερναούμ: home? This statement, more than anything else in Mk., gives the impression that Capernaum was a kind of home for Jesus.—ἐν τῇ οἰκαίᾳ, in the house, opposed to ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ, but probably pointing to a particular house in which Jesus was wont to stay.—τίδιελογίζεσθε, what were ye discussing? Jesus did not always walk beside His disciples (vide Mark 10:32). He went before, thinking His deep thoughts, they followed thinking their vain thoughts, The Master had noticed that something unusual was going on, divined what it was, and now asks.

But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
Mark 9:34. ἐσιώπων, they kept silent, ashamed to tell.

And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
Mark 9:35. καὶ καθίσας, etc.: every word here betokens a deliberate attempt to school the disciples in humility. The Master takes His seat (καθίσας), calls His scholars with a magisterial tone (ἐφώνησεν, for various senses in which used, vide references, Matthew 20:32)—the Twelve (τοὺς δ.), called to an important vocation, and needing thorough discipline to be of service in it.—εἴ τις θέλει, etc.: the direct answer to the question under discussion—who the greatest? = greatness comes by humility (ἔσχατος), and service (διάκονος).

And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,
Mark 9:36. The child, produced at the outset in Mt., is now brought on the scene (λαβών), not, however, as a model (that in Mark 10:15), but as an object of kind treatment.—ἐναγκαλισάμενος: in Mk. only = taking it into His arms, to symbolise how all that the child represents should be treated.

Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.
Mark 9:37. f1δέξηται in the first member of the sentence, δέχηται in the second; the former (aorist subjunctive with ἂν), the more regular in a clause expressing future possibility. Winer, xlii. 3b (a). The second member of the sentence is not in the corresponding place in Mt., but is given in Matthew 10:40.

And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
Mark 9:38-41. A reminiscence (Luke 9:49-50). Probably an incident of the Galilean mission, introduced without connecting particle, therefore (Weiss) connection purely topical; suggested (Holtz., H. C.) to the evangelist by the expression ἐπὶ τ. ὀνόματί μου in Mark 9:37, answering to ἐν τ. . σ. in Mark 9:38.—ἐκβάλλοντα δ.: exorcists usually conjured with some name, Abraham, Solomon; this one used the name of Jesus, implying some measure of faith in His worth and power.—ἐκωλύομεν, imperfect, taken by most as implying repeated interdicts, but it may be the conative imperfect = we tried to prevent him.—οὐκ ἠκολούθει, he did not follow us; the reason for the prohibition. The aloofness of the exorcist is represented as still continuing in the words ὃς οὐκ ἀκολουθεῖ (T. R.).

But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
Mark 9:39. Jesus disallows the interdict for a reason that goes deeper than the purely external one of the disciples = not of our company? well, but with us at heart.—δυνήσεται ταχὺ: points to moral impossibility: use of Christ’s name in exorcism incompatible with hostile or inappreciative thought and speech of Him.—ταχὺ softens the assertion: not soon; he may do it, but it will mean a change of mind, and disuse of my name.

For he that is not against us is on our part.
Mark 9:40. The counterpart truth to that in Matthew 10:30. Both truths, and easily harmonised. It is in both cases a question of tendency; a little sympathy inclines to grow to more, so also with a lack of sympathy. Vide on Matthew 12:30.

For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
Mark 9:41 = Matthew 10:42, but a later secondary form of the saying: ποτήριον ὕδατος for π. ψυχραῦ, and ὅτι Χριστοῦ ἐστέ instead of εἰς ὄν. μαθητοῦ.

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
Mark 9:42-48. After the episode of the exorcist the narrative returns to the discourse broken off at Mark 9:38. From receiving little children and all they represent, Jesus passes to speak of the sin of causing them to stumble.

Mark 9:42. καλόν, etc.: well for him; rather = better. Each evangelist has his own word here: Mt. συμφέρει, Lk. (Luke 17:2) λυσιτελεῖ; but Mk., according to the best attested reading, has the strong phrase μύλος ὀνικὸς in common with Mt. He is content, however, with the expression “in the sea,” instead of Mt.’s “in the deep part of the sea,” the faithful reproduction, probably, of what Jesus actually said.

And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Mark 9:43. The offender of the little ones is still more an offender against himself, hence the discourse by an easy transition passes to counsels against such folly. In Mk.’s version these are given in a most particular way, hand, foot and eye being each used separately to illustrate the common admonition. In Mt. hand and foot are combined. In the third illustration εἰς τὴν ζωὴν is replaced by εἰς τ. βασιλείαν τ. θ. The refrain: “where the worm, etc.,” is repeated in T. R. with solemn effect after each example, but the best MSS. have it only after the third, Mark 9:44; Mark 9:46 being thus omitted (R. V[77]).

[77] Revised Version.

Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.
Mark 9:49-50. Salting inevitable and indispensable. These verses appear only in Mk. as part of this discourse. The logion in Mark 9:50 corresponds to Matthew 5:13, Luke 14:34-35.

Mark 9:49 is a crux interpretum, and has given rise to great diversity of interpretation (vide Meyer, ad loc.). Three questions may be asked. (1) What is the correct form of the saying? (2) Was it spoken at this time by Jesus? (3) If it was, how is it to be connected with the previous context? As to (1) some important MSS. ([78] [79] [80] [81] and the new Syr. Sin[82]) omit the second half of the sentence, retaining only “every one shall be salted with fire”. D and some copies of the old Lat. omit the first part and retain the second. W. and H[83] retain only part 1. Weiss and Schanz think that the text must be taken in its entirety, and that part 2 fell out by homoeoteleuton, or was omitted because of its difficulty. Holtzmann, H. C., is inclined to favour the reading of [84]. It is difficult to decide between these alternatives, though I personally lean to the first of the three, not only because of the weighty textual testimony, but, as against D, on account of the startling character of the thought, salted with fire, its very boldness witnessing for its authenticity. As to (2) I think it highly probable that such thoughts as Mark 9:49-50 contain were spoken at this time by Jesus. The two thoughts, salting inevitable and salting indispensable, were thoroughly apposite to the situation: a master teaching men in danger of moral shipwreck through evil passion, and unless reformed sure to prove unfit for the work to which they were destined. I cannot therefore agree with Holtzmann (H. C.) that Mk., misled by the word πῦρ in Mark 9:48, has brought in here a logion spoken at some other time. As to (3) I see no necessity to regard γὰρ, Mark 9:49, as binding us down to a close exclusive connection with Mark 9:48, requiring us to interpret Mark 9:49 a thus: every one that does not cut off the offending member shall be salted by the fire of hell; itself quenchless, and not destroying its victim, as it is the nature of ordinary fire to do, but rather preserving him for eternal torment, like salt. Thus viewed, Mark 9:49 a is a mere comment on the words οὐ σβέννυται. The saying should rather be taken in connection with the whole course of thought in Mark 9:43-48, in which case it will bear this sense: “every one must be salted somehow, either with the unquenchable fire of gehenna, or with the fire of severe self-discipline. Wise is he who chooses the latter alternative.” If we ignore the connection with Mark 9:48, and restrict πᾶς to the disciple-circle, this alternative rendering will be avoided, and the idea will be: every man who is to come to any good, will, must, be salted with fire. In that case, however, it is difficult to account for the unusual combination of salt and fire, whose functions are so opposed. 49b is of quite subordinate importance, merely at best a parabolic aid to thought. Grotius and others divide the sacrifices into two classes answering to the two forms of salting: burnt offerings typifying those consumed in hell, peace offerings those preserved by self-discipline.

[78] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[79] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[80] Codex Regius--eighth century, represents an ancient text, and is often in agreement with א and B.

[81] Codex Sangallensis, a Graeco-Latin MS. of the tenth century, and having many ancient readings, especially in Mark.

[82] Sin. Sinaitic Syriac (recently discovered).

[83] Westcott and Hort.

[84] Codex Bezae

Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
Mark 9:50 sets forth the other great truth: salting in the form of self-discipline indispensable.—καλὸν τὸ ἅλας, an excellent thing is salt; a most seasonable truth just then. What follows seems less so, as it stands in Mk.’s text. As spoken by Jesus, if we may assume that it was spoken on this occasion, it might come in quite naturally. The three thoughts in this verse: salt good, care must be taken that it lose not its virtue, have salt in yourselves, may be merely themes packed together in a single sentence, on which Jesus discoursed at length.—ἄναλον, ἄπ. λεγ. in N. T., used in later Greek; μωρανθῇ in Mt. and Lk.—ἔχετε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἅλα, have salt in yourselves. In the two former clauses disciples are thought of, as in Matthew 5:13, as themselves salt for the world. Here they are viewed as the subject of the salting process. They must be salted in order to be salt to the world, their ulterior vocation. Meantime a more immediate effect of their being salted is pointed out in the closing words.—εἰρηνεύετε ἐν ἀλλήλοις: be at peace with one another; which they were not. The cause of dispeace was ambition. The salting would consist in getting rid of that evil spirit at whatever cost.—εἰρηνεύετε: a Pauline word, remarks Holtz. (H. C.). True, but why not also a word of Jesus? certainly very apposite to the occasion.

Note.—Salting of disciples imports suffering pain, but is not to be confounded with the cross-bearing of faithful disciples (Mark 8:34). The former is the discipline of self-denial necessary to make a man a follower of Christ worthy of the name. The latter is the tribulation that comes on all who follow closely in the footsteps of Christ. The one is needful to make us holy, the other overtakes us when and because we are holy.

The Expositor's Greek Testament - Nicoll

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