Jesus teaches on divorce and marriage. He blesses the children. He tells a rich young man to sell all he has and follow him. Jesus predicts his death and resurrection a third time. Right after Jesus makes this prediction, James and John request to sit next to Jesus in his glory, and the other ten become indignant. Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus.
As I write in the introduction to every chapter:
This translation and commentary is offered for free, gratis, across the worldwide web to Christians in oppressive (persecuting) or developing countries, who cannot afford printed commentaries or Study Bibles, though everyone can use the commentary and entire website, of course.
The translation is mine. I wrote it to learn what the Greek text really says. The translation tends to be literal, but complete literalism and readability are impossible, so adjustments had to be made. If readers don’t read Greek, they can ignore the left side of the tables. I include the language to check my work and for Greek readers, who can also check my translation.
Readers can go to biblehub.com and use the interlinear link to look up every Greek word, and then the links go to every occurrence of the word. They can also visit biblegateway.com for many translations.
The commentary has a practical application (GrowApp) at the end of each section, for discipleship.
Links are provided for further study.
Jesus Teaches about Marriage and Divorce (Mark 10:1-12)
|1 Καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ἀναστὰς ἔρχεται εἰς τὰ ὅρια τῆς Ἰουδαίας [καὶ] πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, καὶ συμπορεύονται πάλιν ὄχλοι πρὸς αὐτόν, καὶ ὡς εἰώθει πάλιν ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς. 2 Καὶ προσελθόντες Φαρισαῖοι ἐπηρώτων αὐτὸν εἰ ἔξεστιν ἀνδρὶ γυναῖκα ἀπολῦσαι, πειράζοντες αὐτόν. 3 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τί ὑμῖν ἐνετείλατο Μωϋσῆς; 4 οἱ δὲ εἶπαν· ἐπέτρεψεν Μωϋσῆς βιβλίον ἀποστασίου γράψαι καὶ ἀπολῦσαι. 5 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· πρὸς τὴν σκληροκαρδίαν ὑμῶν ἔγραψεν ὑμῖν τὴν ἐντολὴν ταύτην.
6 ἀπὸ δὲ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς· 7 ἕνεκεν τούτου καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν μητέρα [καὶ προσκολληθήσεται πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ], 8 καὶ ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν· ὥστε οὐκέτι εἰσὶν δύο ἀλλὰ μία σάρξ. 9 ὃ οὖν ὁ θεὸς συνέζευξεν ἄνθρωπος μὴ χωριζέτω
10 Καὶ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν πάλιν οἱ μαθηταὶ περὶ τούτου ἐπηρώτων αὐτόν. 11 καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ καὶ γαμήσῃ ἄλλην μοιχᾶται ἐπ’ αὐτήν· 12 καὶ ἐὰν αὐτὴ ἀπολύσασα τὸν ἄνδρα αὐτῆς γαμήσῃ ἄλλον μοιχᾶται.
|1 Setting out from there, he went into the regions of Judea, beyond the Jordan River, and again the crowds flocked to him. And again, by custom, he was teaching them. 2 The Pharisees approached and asked him, in order to test him, whether it was legal for a husband to divorce his wife. 3 In reply, he said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a person ‘to write a certificate of divorce and to divorce.’ [Deut. 24:1, 3] 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote this command for you,
6 But from the beginning of creation ‘he made them male and female.’ [Gen. 1:27; 5:2] 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife. 8 And the two shall be one flesh, so then they are no longer two but instead one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together let not a person split apart.’” [Gen. 2:23-24]
10 Then inside the house again, the disciples asked him about this matter. 11 He said to them, “If he divorces his wife and marries another woman, he commits adultery against her. 12 And if she, having divorced her husband, marries another man, she commits adultery.”
It is imperative that you belong to a Spirit-filled, Bible-respecting church and ask them about their divorce policy. I’m just a teacher with no pastoral oversight, but I merely teach what I believe the Scriptures tell us.
Please note: Many of my comments here are taken from my earlier one at Matt. 5:31-32, but with some edits for this pericope (pronounced puh-RIH-koh-pea) or section of Scripture. You can click back there for different emphases.
Jesus had been up north, but now he went south to the province of Judea and beyond the Jordan River. “From there” probably means from Capernaum. He went through Samaria. He was not avoiding it, so this eliminates any belief that Mark did not seemingly know his geography (Strauss). The Jordan runs from north to south and is on the east side of Israel. Traveling east of the river, he is taking the long route to Jerusalem, before his triumphal entry in Mark 11.
“Pharisees”: You can learn more about them at this link:
Quick Reference to Jewish Groups in Gospels and Acts
This group, among others, was the Watchdogs of Theology and Behavior (David E. Garland, Luke: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament [Zondervan, 2011], p. 243). The problem which Jesus had with them can be summed up in Eccl. 7:16: “Be not overly righteous.” He did not quote that verse, but to him they were much too enamored with the finer points of the law, while neglecting its spirit (Luke 11:37-52; Matt. 23:1-36). Instead, he quoted this verse from Hos. 6:6: “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt. 9:13; 12:7). Overdoing righteousness, believe it or not, can damage one’s relationship with God and others.
However, Craig Keener notes in his commentary in Matthew’s Gospel that the Pharisees were very loose about divorce, to the point of scandal. So righteousness was followed only when it suited them.
Now let’s move to the emotional topic of divorce.
Please see my post on divorce and remarriage in the NT:
Brief Overview of Divorce and Remarriage in New Testament
“divorce”: this verb could be translated as “put away” and even “release” or “set free.” But in this context, “divorce” is intended.
Jesus answered their question with a question. They summarized the passage in Deut. 24:1-4.
Jesus gave himself permission to explain the true meaning of Moses’ permission to write a certificate of divorce. This shows a high Christology. You or I would not be so bold as to permit ourselves to do this. Hold on! Many Progressive Christians are doing just that. This reveals how arrogant they are. They are rewriting the Bible to suit and satisfy their own postmodern needs and sexual drive.
Four-part series on how one should not practice lawlessness, particularly church leaders:
Warning to Evolving, Progressive Churches: Danger Signs
Warning to Evolving, Progressive Churches: Authority of Scripture
Warning to Evolving, Progressive Churches: Marriage and Sex
Warning to Evolving, Progressive Churches: Judgment Is Coming
In vv. 4-5, in Judaism at the time, remarriage was permitted after the divorce, for both the man and woman. Jesus is about to tighten this up, though my comments at Matt. 5:31-32 expands this idea of seemingly not allowing remarriage.
How would Jesus answer the Pharisees’ question? He endorsed the Edenic model of one man and one woman, and they should stay together, because they made a covenant before God. He joined them together. The Pharisees replied by asking why Moses permitted the certificate of divorce. He said that Moses accommodated their hardness of heart, but at the beginning it was not so (Matt. 19:7-8). Then Jesus revealed that divorce is allowed only for sexual misconduct.
Once again, please see this post, where I cover Mark’s version more thoroughly:
Brief Overview of Divorce and Remarriage in New Testament
In the church today, each couple or the single divorcee must get counsel from wise leaders in the church who can look at the unique set of circumstances.
Bottom line: Marriage is a covenant not only between the man and the woman, but between God, the man and the woman. Involve God in your marriage. If you do not, then sin enters and destroys the covenant, and civil, legal divorce may ensue.
Go to church, get counseling, and pray! Divorce is the last resort! The above triangle says that the closer the couple draws near to God, going upward, the closer they draw towards each other.
GrowApp for Mark 10:1-12
A.. If you got divorced for unbiblical reasons, how has God redeemed your life anyway?
B.. Do you believe God forgives divorce and restores people to a new life, after divorce? Do you have a story to tell?
Jesus Blesses Little Children (Mark 10:13-16)
|13 Καὶ προσέφερον αὐτῷ παιδία ἵνα αὐτῶν ἅψηται· οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἐπετίμησαν αὐτοῖς. 14 ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἠγανάκτησεν καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἄφετε τὰ παιδία ἔρχεσθαι πρός με, μὴ κωλύετε αὐτά, τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ. 15 ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὃς ἂν μὴ δέξηται τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ ὡς παιδίον, οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθῃ εἰς αὐτήν. 16 καὶ ἐναγκαλισάμενος αὐτὰ κατευλόγει τιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας ἐπ’ αὐτά.||13 They brought to him little children, so that he would touch them. But the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he became indignant and told them, “Allow the children to come to me and don’t forbid them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such ones. 15 I tell you the truth: whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God as little children in no way enters into it. 16 Hugging them, he blessed them and placed his hands on them.|
“children”: It is the noun paidion (pronounced pye-dee-on). The second word means (1) “very young child, infant”; (2) “child.” These children were really young. It is possible to be blessed by Jesus, but how much can they relate to him.
“touch”: apparently the parent held the baby, while he just touched them. Matt. 19:13 adds that the people brought them so that he would touch them and pray. Jesus does more than touch them; he hugs them (v. 16).
“disciples”: the noun is mathētēs (singular and pronounced mah-they-tayss), and it is used 261 times in the NT, though many of them are duplicates in the three synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. BDAG says of the noun that it means (1) “one who engages in learning through instruction from another, pupil, apprentice”; (2) “one who is rather constantly associated with someone who has a pedagogical reputation or a particular set of views, disciple, adherent.”
The disciples miss the boat again, not catching on. Why were they so protective? Were they tense because they were on their way to Jerusalem, and the crowds didn’t know anything about his mission? Jesus did repeatedly predict that he was about to be tried and executed (Luke 5:35; 9:22, 43-45; 12:50 13:32-33; Matt. 16:21; Mark 2:20). So the disciples were afraid, maybe. Or maybe they were simply obtuse. It’s tough to read the inner thoughts of a person, when the text does not disclose them.
“rebuked”: the verb is epitimaō (pronounced eh-pea-tee-mah-oh), and it could be translated as “scolded,” “warned,” “censure.”
I like the picture of Jesus calling for or summoning the parents holding their babies. He probably looked disapprovingly at the overprotective disciples. Just as they were scolding the parents with words, he called for them with words that canceled out theirs.
“indignant”: Mark expresses Jesus’s emotions at various times, sometimes “negative” ones like anger and frustration: 1:41, 43; 3:5; 8:12, 17-21; 9:19. He is true God and true man, and being true man he could feel the condition of man without sin.
8. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was Sinless
“allow”: it is the verb aphiēmi (pronounced ah-fee-ay-mee), and it could be translated “release” or “let (them) go.” But “permit” or “allow” is best.
“kingdom of God”: What is it? As noted in other verses that mention the kingdom in this commentary, the kingdom is God’s power, authority, rule, reign and sovereignty. He exerts all those things over all the universe but more specifically over the lives of people. It is his invisible realm, and throughout the Gospels Jesus is explaining and demonstrating what it looks like before their very eyes and ears. It is gradually being manifested from the realm of faith to the visible realm, but it is not political in the human sense. It is a secret kingdom because it does not enter humanity with trumpets blaring and full power and glory. This grand display will happen when Jesus comes back. In his first coming, it woos people to surrender to it. We can enter God’s kingdom by being born again (John 3:3, 5), by repenting (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:5), by having the faith of children (Matt. 18:4; Mark 10:14-15), by being transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son whom God loves (Col. 1:13), and by seeing their own poverty and need for the kingdom (Matt. 5:3; Luke 6:20; Jas. 2:5).
Bible Basics about the Kingdom of God
Questions and Answers about Kingdom of God
Basic Definition of Kingdom of God
1 Introducing the Kingdom of God (begin a ten-part series)
“belongs”: it could be more literally translated: “For the kingdom of God is for such ones.” In the first-century view of things, “such ones” does not mean that they are perfectly innocent, gentle or pure. Children could be the opposite.
What Happens to Children after They Die?
“I tell you the truth”: “Truth” comes from the word amēn (pronounced ah-main and comes into English as amen). Used thirteen times in Mark, it expresses the authority of the one who utters it. The Hebrew root ’mn means faithfulness, reliability and certainty. It could be translated as “truly I tell you” or I tell you with certainty.” Jesus’s faith in his own words is remarkable and points to his unique calling. In the OT and later Jewish writings is indicates a solemn pronouncement. It means we must pay attention to it, for it is authoritative. He is about to declare an important and solemn message or statement. The clause appears only on the lips of Jesus.
That is, in Paul’s epistles, for example, he never says, “I truly say to you.” That phrasing had too much authority, which only Jesus had. The clause only appears on the lips of Jesus in the NT. The word appears in a Jewish culture and means “let it be so.” So Jesus speaks it out with special, divine emphasis. “Let this happen!” “Let what I’m about to say happen!” We better take it seriously and not just walk by it or read over it with a casual air.
“welcome”: It could be translated as “receive.” So it is possible to receive the kingdom of God. Welcome or receive Jesus, and thereby you welcome or receive the kingdom of God. He represents the kingdom, and we could even say he is the kingdom of God (Luke 9:48; 17:21).
Note that Jesus says we are to welcome the kingdom like little children. He did not say we remain as little children after we receive it. We need to grow up (1 Cor. 13:11). We need not to overthink things when we initially receive the kingdom. Then we can use our heads. Recall that Jesus said we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30). Don’t disengage your minds after you enter the kingdom.
“in no way”” one translation says “certainly does not enter.” The negation (not) is emphatic, so I chose “in no way.”
“enter”: speaking of entering, we can enter the kingdom. To enter it, a boundary line has to be crossed from the kingdom of the unredeemed, dark, worldly kingdoms to the kingdom of God, the Redeemer and the light (Col. 1:13).
His response shows the Father’s heart for children. He loves them and from heaven he hugs them, and he embraced them and took him in his arms through his Son. Now we are his representatives, and we too should hug and take them in our arms.
To bless is the physical act of speaking. Do you speak blessing over your children out loud, or do you say derogatory things? It is best to bless or speak well of them, to build them up.
He hugged them. Then he placed his hands (on them). Placing your hands on them also signifies blessing them. This is especially important when they are young. Place your hands on them and say, “I bless you!” You can elaborate on this, as you see fit.
Not to be overlooked: he hugged them.
GrowApp for Mark 10:13-16
A.. Do you bless your children out loud? Do you hug them?
B.. Have you taken your younger children to church and had them dedicated and blessed?
C.. Does your church have a program to bless older children and dedicate them to God? If so, have you participated in it for your children?
Jesus and the Rich Man (Mark 10:17-31)
|17 Καὶ ἐκπορευομένου αὐτοῦ εἰς ὁδὸν προσδραμὼν εἷς καὶ γονυπετήσας αὐτὸν ἐπηρώτα αὐτόν· διδάσκαλε ἀγαθέ, τί ποιήσω ἵνα ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω; 18 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ· τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν; οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ θεός. 19 τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας·
μὴ φονεύσῃς, μὴ μοιχεύσῃς , μὴ κλέψῃς, μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς, μὴ ἀποστερήσῃς, τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα.
20 ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτῷ· διδάσκαλε, ταῦτα πάντα ἐφυλαξάμην ἐκ νεότητός μου. 21 Ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἐμβλέψας αὐτῷ ἠγάπησεν αὐτὸν καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἕν σε ὑστερεῖ· ὕπαγε, ὅσα ἔχεις πώλησον καὶ δὸς [τοῖς] πτωχοῖς, καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν ἐν οὐρανῷ, καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι. 22 ὁ δὲ στυγνάσας ἐπὶ τῷ λόγῳ ἀπῆλθεν λυπούμενος· ἦν γὰρ ἔχων κτήματα πολλά.
23 Καὶ περιβλεψάμενος ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ· πῶς δυσκόλως οἱ τὰ χρήματα ἔχοντες εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελεύσονται. 24 Οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς πάλιν ἀποκριθεὶς λέγει αὐτοῖς· τέκνα, πῶς δύσκολόν ἐστιν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν· 25 εὐκοπώτερόν ἐστιν κάμηλον διὰ [τῆς] τρυμαλιᾶς [τῆς] ῥαφίδος διελθεῖν ἢ πλούσιον εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν. 26 οἱ δὲ περισσῶς ἐξεπλήσσοντο λέγοντες πρὸς ἑαυτούς· καὶ τίς δύναται σωθῆναι; 27 ἐμβλέψας αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει· παρὰ ἀνθρώποις ἀδύνατον, ἀλλ’ οὐ παρὰ θεῷ· πάντα γὰρ δυνατὰ παρὰ τῷ θεῷ. 28 Ἤρξατο λέγειν ὁ Πέτρος αὐτῷ· ἰδοὺ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν πάντα καὶ ἠκολουθήκαμέν σοι. 29 ἔφη ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐδείς ἐστιν ὃς ἀφῆκεν οἰκίαν ἢ ἀδελφοὺς ἢ ἀδελφὰς ἢ μητέρα ἢ πατέρα ἢ τέκνα ἢ ἀγροὺς ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ καὶ ἕνεκεν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, 30 ἐὰν μὴ λάβῃ ἑκατονταπλασίονα νῦν ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τούτῳ οἰκίας καὶ ἀδελφοὺς καὶ ἀδελφὰς καὶ μητέρας καὶ τέκνα καὶ ἀγροὺς μετὰ διωγμῶν, καὶ ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τῷ ἐρχομένῳ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. 31 πολλοὶ δὲ ἔσονται πρῶτοι ἔσχατοι καὶ [οἱ] ἔσχατοι πρῶτοι.
|17 While he was going along the road, one man ran up, kneeled before him, and asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus told him, “Why do you say, ‘Good?’ No one is good except one—God. 19 You know the commandments:
Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.” [Exod. 20:12-16; Deut. 5:16-20]
20 He told him, “Teacher, I myself have kept all these things from my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him intently, loved him and told him, “One thing you are in need of: Whatever you have, sell it and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 He was shocked at this message and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
23 Then Jesus, looking around, said to his disciples, “With what difficulty will those having possession enter the kingdom of God!” 24 His disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus again responded and said to them, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of heaven. 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a sewing needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were astonished even more, saying to each other, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus, looking intently at them, said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God, for all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth: There is no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields because of me and because of the good news 30 and who would not receive a hundredfold now in this age–homes and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields with persecutions, and in the coming age, life eternal. 31 Many who are first shall be last, and the last first.”
Have you ever met a missionary or seen his story online or in church who has given up everything to follow Jesus and spread the good news (v. 29)? This pericope is about him. If you choose to stay at home and maintain your wealth, in order to be salt and light in affluent society, to be missionaries of a different kind, then please be generous in your support of the work of the gospel abroad—in the work of someone who has given up all his human comforts for Jesus.
Matthew and Luke have parallel passages: Matt. 19:16-30 and Luke 18:18-30. Matthew calls him young and Luke says he is a rich ruler.
It was undignified for a man to run in the Middle East, and kneeling before Jesus may indicate flattery and obsequiousness that was excessive. This may explain why Jesus did not accept his flattering address “good teacher” at first (Wessel and Strauss’s comment on v. 17).
Mark and Luke say, “Good teacher.” And Jesus tells the man that only God is good. This cannot be the logic: Only God is good. Jesus is not God. Therefore, Jesus is not good. In Matt. 19:16-22, Matthew clarifies what is meant: “Teacher, what good thing shall I do to inherit eternal life.” The man is asking what is good, and how does he use it to enter the kingdom of heaven. So in Matthew’s version the good thing that the man is asking for is human activity, and this can only be applied, in an absolute sense, to God. Jesus is rebuking the man for careless theological language; he is reminding him that the best efforts of human activity are inadequate for God’s salvation (= entering or inheriting eternal life).
I prefer Matthew’s version, but if this does not satisfy the reader, then here is the Lucan-oriented explanation.
On the ruler calling Jesus good and Jesus questioning the man’s adjective good, there are three possible explanations: (1) Jesus was merely deflecting flattery. Perhaps Jesus perceived in him too much eagerness and wanted to bring him back down to earth. The man did not know what he was talking about, so why receive a compliment from him? (2) Alternatively, Jesus may have been pointing him towards God and the ruler’s need to totally rely on God. (3) He may have been calling on the ruler to recognize that God alone is good—the one standing before him!
Whatever the case, we shouldn’t draw the conclusion that Jesus is not good, nor did he intend to say this! Note that Jesus called an obedient servant “good servant” (Luke 19:17). So he is not opposed to acknowledging goodness in people. In this special case, however, he had to make sure this ruler knew what he was talking about. He was rebuking any flattery and theological fuzziness. Good human activity is not enough for God’s salvation
Personally, I like the first explanation. Jesus was deflecting the ruler’s flattery and empty words. But you can choose the other options, if you like.
Strauss on v. 18: “Jesus nullifies the man’s assertion about his own goodness before he has made it and sets up the conclusion that no one can merit God’s salvation (v. 27). As in the case of the Syrophoenician woman, Jesus’ apparently naïve answer (7:27) is intended to provoke deeper thought and response.”
“inherit”: our lives down here in this age is a partial payment for our future inheritance in the age to come (v. 30).
“eternal life”: “eternal” is the adjective aiōnios (pronounced eye-oh-nee-oss and used 71 times). Please see more at this link:
What Do Words ‘Eternity,’ ‘Eternal’ Fully Mean in the Bible?
And therefore, based on the first definition, an equally valid translation is “next-age life.” In other words, the ruler was concerned about entering into the next age that God would soon usher in. He may have even believed that Jesus was in the process of ushering it in. Surely he had heard about John the Baptist; everyone else did. This man may have even been eager to be baptized by John, as seen by his eagerly running up to Jesus (Mark 10:17), though that Is speculation. He was aware of new religious movements, or else he would never have approached Jesus. The point is that he wanted to be ready for the next age.
For the noun aiōn, go to v. 30 and see the comments.
Now let’s look at the noun life more closely. It is very versatile.
It is the noun zoē (pronounced zoh-ay, and girls are named after it, e.g. Zoey). BDAG says that it has two senses, depending on the context: a physical life (e.g. life and breath) and a transcendent life. By physical life the editors mean the period from birth to death, human activity, a way or manner of living, a period of usefulness, earning a living. By transcendent life the lexicographers mean these four elements: first, God himself is life and offers us everlasting life. Second, Christ is life, who received life from God, and now we can receive life from Christ. Third, it is new life of holiness and righteousness and grace. God’s life filling us through Christ changes our behavior. Fourth, zoē means life in the age to come, or eschatological life. So our new life now will continue into the next age, which God fully and finally ushers in when Christ returns. We will never experience mere existence or death, but we will be fully and eternally alive in God.
I believe the man really means in his context “life in the age to come” (v. 28), which in God will last forever—only in God, not by virtue of our having a soul.
Jesus quotes the second table of the Ten Commandments, which deal with a person’s relations with another person. Jesus may have used “defraud” to mean “covet.” Defrauding seems to be one outworking of coveting. In fact, the man uses them in v. 20. Those commandments accurately summarize the conventional Jewish definition of good behavior. And sure enough, it is not so hard to keep them, if you think about it. How many of us have stolen articles (let’s not mention time at work!)? It’s possible not to steal objects, particularly if you’re rich. Very few have murdered. Very few have borne false witness in a law court. Some people—though not everyone—get along really well with their parents, so it is easy to honor them. Paul said that in his old religion of Judaism he was blameless under the law (Phil. 3:4-6). The rich man said the same. It is likely a truthful self-assessment.
Another take on defraud, which is not in the Ten Commandments. Jesus is alluding to a prophetic passage in Malachi 3:5, as follows:
5 “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. (Mal. 3:5, NIV)
Jesus may have know prophetically that the inquiring man may have gotten rich because he defrauded the poor. The economy was different back then, built on agriculture or landownership. Here is a commandment against fraud:
13 “‘Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.
“‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight. (Lev. 19:13, NIV)
OT prophets also quoted various commandments and mixed and matched them. Jesus was simply following prophetic tradition. He never intended to limit his words to the Ten Commandments, but to general commandments, a generic term in Greek.
Later on, Jesus, after he ascended, will direct his church to draw a sharp distinction between righteousness that comes by law keeping—practical principles—and righteousness that come by faith in him—a living person. How did Paul in his old life know he was keeping faith in God? By his law keeping. How does he know this after his conversion to Jesus? By his faith in the Messiah, Jesus himself. The difference is huge. One is guided by the law, while the other is guided by a living person.
However, let’s not overlook the fact that Paul wrote that a man who behaves impurely cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). So the bottom line is that there is no contradiction between Jesus and Paul. Jesus constantly talks about entering the kingdom and then living righteously inside it. Paul constantly talks about entering the kingdom by confessing Jesus as Lord for salvation and then living righteously inside it. Paul would definitely agree that the man should follow Jesus, because to follow Jesus is to proclaim to be Lord by demonstrating allegiance to him. That’s what Paul did. Never overlook the fact that right behavior is important to God and demonstrates surrender to him and his kingdom.
What Does the New Covenant Retain from the Old?
Do Christians Have to ‘Keep’ the Ten Commandments?
Ten Commandments: God’s Great Compromise with Humanity’s Big Failure
One Decisive Difference Between Sinai Covenant and New Covenant
Mark uses the middle voice of “kept,” as if the man says, “I myself have kept” (Decker). I believe he may have too much pride in his own abilities. But this is not the real message; rather, the message is his possessions having him more than his having the possessions.
Jesus looked intently at him. He saw something in him which he loved. Jesus give him a list of four imperatives, but they form one imperative to give up one’s life completely to God. Deeper discipleship involves dying to oneself taking up your cross and following Jesus (8:34; 1:17-18, 20; 2:14). “The implication is that the man’s wealth was his first love and was keeping him from fulfilling the greatest commandment: to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength. He loved his riches more than he loved God and was trusting in them instead of in God” (Strauss).
“loved him”: it may include the fact that Jesus gave him a hug of some sort (Lane).
Let’s look at love more closely.
It is the verb agapaō (pronounced ah-gah-pah-oh). BDAG says that the verb means, depending on the context: (1) “to have a warm regard for and interest in another, cherish, have affection for, love”; (2) “to have high esteem for or satisfaction with something, take pleasure in; (3) “to practice / express love, prove one’s love.” In most instances this kind love in Scripture is not gooey feelings, though it can be a heart-felt virtue and emotion, as we see in the first definition. Rather, mostly love is expressed by action. If you have no gooey feelings for your enemy, do something practical for him.
Both the noun agapē (pronounced ah-gah-pay) and the verb mean a total commitment. For example, God is totally committed to his church and to the salvation of humankind. Surprisingly, however, total commitment can be seen in an unusual verse. Men loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19), which just means they are totally committed to the dark path of life. Are we willing to be totally committed to God and to live in his light? Can we match an unbeliever’s commitment to bad things with our commitment to good things?
Agapē and agapaō are demonstrative. This love is not static or still. It moves and acts. We receive it, and then we show it with kind acts and good deeds. It is not an abstraction or a concept. It is real.
It is transferrable. God can pour and lavish it on us. And now we can transfer it to our fellow believers and people caught in the world.
Riches are not about big mansions in heaven but eternal life in relationship with God (Strauss). Laying up treasure in heaven recalls Jesus words in Matt. 6:19-21; cf. Luke 12:33-34. We must have an eternal perspective. Don’t get swept up in hyper-prosperity of certain church leaders. Having a good job to pay the bills and raise a family is wonderful, but living lavishly on the donations of Joe Factoryworker and Jane Shopkeeper, as these TV preachers do, is questionable. I urge all of them to downsize and get rid of their luxury items and prepare for the eternal kingdom.
I really like Lane’s balanced interpretation of vv. 20-21:
The specific form of the sacrifice Jesus demanded of this man is not to be regarded as a general prescription to be applied to all men, nor yet as a demand for an expression of piety that goes beyond the requirements of the Law. The command to sell his property and to distribute the proceeds to the poor was appropriate to this particular situation. The subsequent reduction of poverty and helplessness would dramatize the fact that the man is helpless in his quest for eternal life, which must be bestowed as the gift of God. Scribal legislation prohibited the giving away of all one’s possessions precisely because it would reduce a man to poverty. Nevertheless, Jesus’ call for resolute sacrifice in order to do the will of God does not exceed that which the Law requires nor that which he himself had voluntarily assumed. The assurance of “treasure in heaven” reflects an idiom that was current in Judaism, which allowed Jesus to enter the thought-world of his contemporaries. Here, however, it is stripped of its customary associations of merit (as if selling one’s property and giving money received to the poor will earn a significant reward), since the promised treasure signifies the gift of eternal life or salvation at the revelation of the Kingdom of God.
Wow. That is very eloquent, and basically Lane is saying that we cannot earn our way into the kingdom of God by giving away our money; the Law or Torah did not allow such extremes, unless it is voluntary. Think again of the missionaries who have given up everything for the gospel and for Jesus. And even in giving up everything the kingdom has to be bestowed. One does not merit it by self-sacrifice.
The man was not ready for it. He did not want undivided loyalty and full-hearted obedience. It was required of him to sell everything he had and give it to the poor.
“shocked”: BDAG says of the Greek word I translated as “shocked”: stugnazō (pronounced stoog-nah-zo) means: (1) “to be in shock of intense things, be shocked, appalled”; (2) “to have a dark or gloomy appearance, be or become dark or gloomy.” It can even be used of a dark and gloomy sky. The rich man did not like the reply.
The man was possessed by possessions. They crowded out God in his heart. The whole context of this command to him is the life in this age contrasted with life in the age to come. To enter the life in the age to come, he had to sell his possession and distribute them to the poor. This was a radical call to discipleship. After the resurrection and ascension, Paul acknowledges that rich Christians lived in the churches (1 Tim. 6:17-19). He told Timothy to remind the Christian rich that they should not be haughty nor set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches—it is here today and gone tomorrow. But they must do good, to be rich in good works and be generous and ready to share. In doing that, they will store up a treasure for the future. In that very same chapter he also said the love of money is the root of all evil (v. 10). We should be content with food and clothing.
Further, during Jesus ministry on earth, the women mentioned in Luke 8:3 supported Jesus and his ministry by their resources. He never told them to sell everything they had and give to the poor. They had to remain wealthy or have a steady flow of money, if they were to support him. So Jesus saw that possessions did not possess the women, while possessions did possess the ruler.
So what about the ruler? Something was missing in his heart that he had filled up with money. It needed to go. If he had followed the command personalized for him and his deep need, he would have treasure in heaven. He was unwilling. He left sad.
Wealth and political power often went hand in glove, in the ancient world. To give up wealth meant to give up power and influence. He would have become a laughingstock to his fellow rulers, if they had come across him traveling with the itinerant preacher named Jesus of Nazareth. Too undignified. The ruler felt this connection and walked away sad. He was hoping for an easier way, to hear these words. “Yes, you kept those commandments, so now go in peace, and keep on allowing possessions to maintain their grip on you, to possess you. You’ll inherit life in the age to come and right now!” That makes no sense, from the kingdom’s perspective.
Jesus confirms what the problem was in the man. His many possession held him down. As the gospel went out into the provinces, rich people did convert, so God did perform the impossible.
“disciples”: see v. 13 for more comments.
“kingdom of God”: See v. 14 for more comments
His disciples respond with amazement. Apparently, they still had in mind the powerful earth-bound kingdom, where the rich ruled. But then in v. 26 they will speak among themselves about salvation. Do they mean conversion or being born again, or do they mean entering the kingdom, as Jesus does here? Apparently it was entering the kingdom. Paul said that through many hardships we enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22). One of the hardship surely be giving up the tings that hold you back, both entering the kingdom now to follow Jesus and entering the kingdom of the future. That is, if we want to be assured that we are ready for the future and complete manifestation of the kingdom, we will have to give up somethings now.
“children”: In Greek, this word appears only here in Mark in a context like this and is affectionate. I also believe that Jesus is offering the disciples wise counsel to his sons (Prov. 1:8, 10; 2:1 and so on). But it does give Jesus an air of proper authority. He is the teacher, and they are his students.
Jesus repeats himself with a perfect metaphor: a camel going through the eye of a sewing needle. It’s easier for that to happen that for a rich guy entering the kingdom.
This is a general statement, which as we already saw in v. 22, allows for exceptions. We should not interpret the statement as an iron law without even one exception. The statement warns us that we have to be vigilant about wealth cause us to lose our own soul (Mark 8:36-37).
“eye of a sewing needle”: no one has ever confirmed the idea that the eye of a needle was the opening to a tent or a small opening into a city. The eye of the needle is a sewing needle, not a gate into Jerusalem, a legend that emerged in the Middle Ages. This gate did not exist at the time when Jesus spoke those words. A loaded down camel could not fit into either opening. Instead, the best explanation is the plainest one: it is a hyperbole (a deliberate, rhetorical exaggeration to impact the listener). The camel was the largest land animal in Israel at that time. It is a silly image to hit the listeners right between the eyes.
Entering the kingdom is the same as salvation in Paul’s writing. Jesus used the phrase several times (13:24 [narrow door]; 18:17, 24-25); Both Paul and Jesus preached repentance, surrender, and the Lordship of Jesus—yes, Jesus told people to follow himself as Lord. Jesus and Paul used different words, but the reality is the same. The resurrected and ascended Jesus was guiding his church to shift the focus, as the apostles, particularly Paul, went out to the Greco-Roman provinces, beyond Israel, not that Paul neglected this important doctrine of the kingdom (Acts 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23-31; Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 4:20; 6:9-10; 15:24, 50; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5; Col. 1:12-13; 4:11; 1 Thess. 2:12; 2 Thess. 1:5; 2 Tim. 4:1; 4:18). In all of those passages, he proclaimed it.
The disciples are surprised even more. We could translate it “exceedingly surprised,” but the professional grammarians say “even more” is best. Okay, I’ll go with it.
In any case, they were surprised or astounded, and then they talked among themselves, asking the one most important question. “Who then can be saved?” I thought about translating it “who can even be saved,” but once again the professional grammarians steered me away from it. As usual, I believe they are right.
“saved”: The verb is sōzō: Since the theology of salvation (soteriology) is so critical for our lives, let’s look more closely at the noun salvation, which is sōtēria (pronounced soh-tay-ree-ah and used 46 times) and at the verb sōzō (pronounced soh-zoh and used 106 times).
Greek is the language of the NT. BDAG defines the noun sōtēria as follows, depending on the context: (1) “deliverance, preservation” … (2) “salvation.”
The verb sōzō means “save, rescue, heal” in a variety of contexts, but mostly it is used of saving the soul. BDAG further says that the verb means, depending on the context: (1) “to preserve or rescue from natural dangers and afflictions, save, keep from harm, preserve,” and the sub-definitions under no. 1 are as follows: save from death; bring out safely; save from disease; keep, preserve in good condition; thrive, prosper, get on well; (2) “to save or preserve from transcendent danger or destruction, save or preserve from ‘eternal’ death … “bring Messianic salvation, bring to salvation,” and in the passive it means “be saved, attain salvation”; (3) some passages in the NT say we fit under the first and second definition at the same time (Mark 8:5; Luke 9:24; Rom. 9:27; 1 Cor. 3:15).
As I will note throughout this commentary, the noun salvation and the verb save go a lot farther than just preparing the soul to go on to heaven. Together, they have additional benefits: keeping and preserving and rescuing from harm and dangers; saving or freeing from diseases and demonic oppression; and saving or rescuing from sin dominating us; ushering into heaven and rescuing us from final judgment. What is our response to the gift of salvation? You are grateful and then you are moved to act. When you help or rescue one man from homelessness or an orphan from his oppression, you have moved one giant step towards salvation of his soul. Sometimes feeding a hungry man and giving clothes to the naked or taking him to a medical clinic come before saving his soul.
All of it is a package called salvation and being saved.
What Is the Work of Salvation?
Jesus again looks intently, this time at the disciples. Some special teaching is going on here. The kingdom is at stake.
“eternal life,” “salvation,” and “entering the kingdom” are used synonymously.
“people”: it is the Greek noun anthrōpos (pronounced ahn-throw-poss), and even in the plural some interpreters say that it means only “men.” However, throughout the Greek written before and during the NT, in the plural it means people in general, including womankind (except rare cases). In the singular it can mean person, depending on the context (Matt. 4:4; 10:36; 12:11, 12; 12:43, 45; 15:11, 18). So a “person” or “people” or “men and women” (and so on) is almost always the most accurate translation, despite what more conservative translations say. So I chose “humans.”
This is a great statement. People cannot save themselves. Only God can save them. “All things are possible with God.” He can rescue the most stubborn and resistant among your friends and family. Pray for them! And never stop praying until they get saved! And then pray for them to grow in their salvation.
Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen and had a business in Capernaum (Luke 5:1-11). James and John, two brothers, were their partners. They left behind their humble business, by which they earned their way in society. However, Peter still kept his house (Mark 1:29; 3:9; 4:1, 36; cf. John 21:3), so let’s not take this verse ultra-literally. Matthew was a tax collector. Peter had a wife to support, and so did the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers, and they brought their wives with them on the missionary endeavors (1 Cor. 9:5). So the missionaries did not abandon their wives, but they did abandon their old way of living. They had truly crossed the boundary line between the old kingdom and the new kingdom, the old life and the new life. Their wives went with them, and I assume that if they had children, they went with their parents.
Commentator R. T. France on some disciples not asked to relinquish their wealth:
A careful reading between the lines of the gospel narratives reveals that those who had ‘left everything’ to follow Jesus (v. 28; cf. 1:18, 20; 2:14) seem nonetheless to have retained the use of some possessions (Peter’s house at Capernaum, 1:29 etc.; his fishing boat and tackle, Jn. 21:3; Levi’s party, 2:15) and that the itinerant group of Jesus and his disciples depended on the hospitality and material provision of supporters such as Mary, Martha, and Lazarus at Bethany (Lk. 10:38–42; Jn. 11; 12:2) or the women of Lk. 8:2–3. On such grounds many have gratefully concluded either that Jesus did not really mean ‘all’, or that there were (and are?) two levels of discipleship, only the more rigorous of which (to which, as we shall see below, Jesus was calling this individual) demands full renunciation. Gundry’s [another commentator] comment is perhaps apposite: ‘That Jesus did not command all his followers to sell all their possessions gives comfort only to the kind of people to whom he would issue that command.’
France goes on to say this radical call must be balanced with our call to be salt and light; and in modern society, it is difficult to do when one accepts abandonment of all possessions.
My opinion: let the readers listen to the Spirit and their own Bible-trained and God-shaped conscience. Whatever path of life you believe God has called you to walk, don’t allow possessions to possess you.
“I tell you the truth”: see v. 15 for more comments.
Jesus promised them a whole new family of people in the Christian community (cf. Matt. 19:30; Mark 10:30). One interesting omission: Jesus did not say to give up one’s spouse, as noted in 1 Cor. 9:5), but Luke 18:29 says so. Once again, we must not take the call to radical discipleship ultra-literally. One must be ready in one’s heart to give up everything.
Of course a certain teaching, called the Word of Faith, latches on to these verses. “See! This proves that God will give me lots of property if I follow him!” However, none of the apostles and the Lord’s brothers received a hundredfold more physical land than they had before they followed Jesus wholeheartedly. Church history teaches us that they became landless missionaries. Jesus is speaking about the land in the new kingdom—the territories that the missionaries would take from the devil and bring into the kingdom of God. How do we know he was spiritualizing things? He said we would receive many fathers (plural) and mothers (plural) (Mark 10:30). We normally have one biological mother and one biological father. So receiving many of them speaks of the fathers and mothers in the kingdom. If we had to leave behind our biological parents, then God promises us many new parents in the kingdom community. We have a new family, a much bigger family.
“with persecutions”: church history says all the twelve disciples suffered persecution.
Here is just one fulfillment of the persecutions against the twelve apostles.
40 Summoning the apostles, they flogged them, ordered them not to speak about the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. 41 And so they left the presence of the High Council, rejoicing that they were considered worthy to be dishonored because of the name. 42 And every day they did not stop teaching and spreading the good news in the temple and households that the Messiah is Jesus. (Acts 5:40-42, my tentative translation)
Note how they had a new community family (v. 42). They were also taking new land for the kingdom. Soon they will leave and preach in many places and take more territory.
Paul, not one of the twelve, suffered it too, particularly. He even lists his hardships, in this passage:
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? (1 Cor. 11:23-29, NIV)
As he traveled around and planted churches, Paul got a new family, filled with all sorts of brothers and sisters and mothers and new territories for the gospel.
Church historian Eusebius (AD 260/265 – 339/340) says that Peter was crucified upside down, in Rome (Ecclesiastical History III.1). He also reports that Paul was beheaded in Rome under Nero (II.25).
“fields”: means new territory for the kingdom. However, If God calls you into selling real estate, for example, then go for it because that is God’s call on your life. But don’t claim this verse to buy fields. Instead, claim other verses that says God will prosper you in his way. These verses are excellent for balanced and God-sent prosperity. Deut. 8:17-18. Look them up.
Beware of rich preachers who claim these verses, particularly about landed property or book sales pumped up by their TV platforms and large church purchases of those books, for themselves. Their method to get wealth is unbiblical. They pressure Joe Factoryworker and Jane Shopkeeper for donations, and then the preachers get rich from them and buy luxury items which Joe and Jane could never afford.
9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Tim. 6:9-10, NIV)
In contrast, a Christian getting wealthy by proper and honest business practices and by God’s call is legitimate or biblical (1 Tim. 6:17-19).
“this age”: the noun here is kairos (pronounced kye-ross and is used 85 times), which speaks more of a quality time than quantity. BDAG defines the noun as follows: (1) a point of time or period of time, time, period, frequently with the implication of being especially fit for something and without emphasis on precise chronology. (a) Generally a welcome time or difficult time … fruitful times; (b) a moment or period as especially appropriate the right, proper, favorable time … at the right time; (2) a defined period for an event, definite, fixed time (e.g. period of fasting or mourning in accord with the changes in season), in due time (Gal. 6:9); (3) a period characterized by some aspect of special crisis, time; (a) generally the present time (Rom. 13:11; 12:11); (b) One of the chief terms relating to the endtime … the time of crisis, the last times.
All of this stand in a mild contrast—not a sharp contrast—from chronos. Greek has another word for time: chronos (pronounced khro-noss), which measures one day, one week or one month after another.
Here kairos is contrasted with the next age to come. Kairos means this age.
In this verse, the second word for age is the Greek noun aiōn (pronounced aye-own, and we get our word aeon from it and is used 122 or 123 times in the NT).
See this post:
What Do Words ‘Eternity,’ ‘Eternal’ Fully Mean in the Bible?
So, the noun has a versatile meaning, but it is clear that “eternal” is attached to God; apart from that modification it mostly means “a long time” or “an age.”
Here, in v. 30, this age is contrasted with the age to come. So key phrase in v. 30 could be translated as follows: “in this age and next-age life in the age to come.” No, it’s not talking about the weird idea of the New Age, taught by cults. But the phrase “next-age life” is referring to the fully manifested kingdom of God overseen completely and with absolute, benevolent power and authority by King Jesus. But the translation “eternal life” instead of “next-age life,” is smoother.
Either way, we can inherit eternal or next-age life beginning right now. Jesus is ushering in the kingdom, and we can enter his kingdom right now. It will be fully manifested at his Second Coming, and so will our eternal or next-age life.
The Second Coming (Parousia) stops This Age. Then there is one big judgment, in which the righteous and wicked are judged together. One can even say that the final judgment happens during the Messianic Age / Kingdom Age / The Age to Come. All three terms mean the same thing. Finally, the Kingdom which Jesus inaugurated at his first coming will have been fully realized and accomplished at his Second Coming (Parousia). And so after God sweeps aside the wicked and Satan and demons, the New Messianic or Kingdom Age can begin in true and pure and undisrupted rulership.
Bible Basics about the Final Judgment
Everyone Shall Be Judged by Their Works and Words
Bottom line: All of the New Testament (outside of a few contested verses in the Revelation 20) fully and clearly and consistently teach this flow chart:
___________← This Age ———⸻→| End of
First Coming → Inaugurated Kingdom —→ Second Coming → Judgment → Fully Realized Kingdom Age
3 The Kingdom Is in the Future
5 The Kingdom of God: Already Here, But Not Yet Fully
Before the kingdom is fully realized at his Second Coming (Parousia), the kingdom is announced and ushered in by Jesus at the launch of his ministry. So there is overlap between This Age and the Kingdom Age.
A little more expansion, discussing the final judgment.
The Second Coming (Parousia) stops This Age. Then there is one big judgment, in which the righteous and wicked are judged together. One can even say that the final judgment happens during the Messianic Age / Kingdom Age / The Age to Come. All three terms mean the same thing. Finally, the Kingdom which Jesus inaugurated at his first coming will have been fully realized and accomplished at his Second Coming, after judgment. And so after God sweeps aside the wicked and Satan and demons, the New Messianic or Kingdom Age can begin in true and pure and undisrupted rulership.
Let’s look more deeply at the overlapping This Age and the Kingdom of God. Until and before the Second Coming, we now live in the conflict and battle between This Age and the Inaugurated Kingdom, proclaimed by Jesus during his ministry. (They are not the same things but are at war with each other!) We are in the process of binding Satan and his demonic hordes, by expelling demons from people’s lives but mainly by preaching the gospel, so people surrender to the Son’s Lordship, and then Satan is pushed back and people experience victory in their lives. The gospel and life in the Spirit, coming after Jesus’s ascension in This Age, though happening during the inaugurated Kingdom, are so powerful that saved and redeemed kingdom citizens can experience victory over the power of sin in their lives in This Age. The presence of sin in their lives is not removed until they get their new resurrected and transformed bodies and minds in The Age to Come. The Second Coming stops This Age, which is replaced and displaced with the fully realized Messianic or Kingdom Age or The Age to Come.
So the Son, in the authority of the Father, and holy angels will appear gloriously, with a bright light and with splendor, radiance, and greatness. His coming will catch our eye, to say the least. But it will not be as if the Father comes literally, but his glory will surround his Son and angels. They will come back physically and literally.
Let’s wander just a little way from Mark’s Gospel and discuss other eschatological teachings circulating around the Church today, the American Church in particular.
In Jesus’s teaching throughout the Gospel of Mark, there is no word on a literal thousand-year reign with two comings and “several first” resurrections. And there is no separate rapture that makes the church disappear, before the Second Coming. If Jesus believed in a separate rapture, he would have taught it here; he missed his chance. However, he did not miss his chance and he did not teach it. Therefore, he did not believe in a separate rapture. All of it is too convoluted. Instead, the Gospel and the other three Gospels (and Epistles) present a streamlined picture of salvation history and God’s dealing with his human creation and the return of Christ.
An amillennialist believes that the millennium begins with the Inaugurated Kingdom, but apparently it is quiet and behind the scenes (note, for example, the Parable of the Mustard Seed and its slow growth in Matt. 13:31-32); Satan is not literally bound with chains (as if a spirit being could be), even though Jesus did teach that he bound the strongman (Matt. 12:29; Mark 3:27; Luke 11:21-22). So what this binding means is that Satan cannot now fully stop the advance of the kingdom (as Satan did to the ancient Israelites, except a remnant). Before Jesus came, every nation was bound by satanic deception. However, after Jesus inaugurated the kingdom, even under Islamic and communist regimes, the gospel has a way of infiltrating societies, even if underground. Satan can no longer deceive the nations as he did before Jesus came. Instead, kingdom citizens, surrendered to the Kingship of the King and following him, are plundering Satan’s domain of This Age and rescuing people out of it and transferring them to the inaugurated kingdom of God. The final victory over Satan will be fully manifested at his Second Coming.
In contrast, based on his interpretation of a few verses in Rev. 20, one chapter in the most symbolic book of the Bible, a premillennialist believes that a literal thousand years of Christ (not shown in flow charts) is ushered in at the Second Coming, where there will be peace and harmony. And Satan is literally bound in chains until the end of the thousand years. During the literal millennium, people will still die, so the last enemy (death) is not defeated after all, at the Second Coming (even though Paul said death would be defeated, in 1 Cor. 15:23-26, 51-56). However, the theory of a literal thousand years says that death and Satan are defeated at the end of the millennium, when another resurrection and another judgment will take place.
Never mind, however, that in John 5:28-29 and Matt. 13:41-43 and 25:31-46, Jesus teaches that the wicked and righteous are judged together at the end of This Age, as indicated in the above flow charts. Interpreting literally a deliberately and intentionally symbolic book (Revelation) runs aground quickly. Things soon become convoluted and complicated, in comparison with the nonsymbolic, streamlined Gospel and Epistles.
What Is Pretribulational Premillennialism?
What Is Midtribulational Premillennialism?
What Is Posttribulational Premillennialism?
So then where does the rapture fit in? When all peoples are called out of their tombs and those who are alive also respond to Christ descending from heaven at the Second Coming, they will be “caught up” (the rapture) and meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:15-17). Then they will descend with Jesus to a new heaven and new earth, which will have been recreated, renewed, renovated or reconstituted. They will be judged, and the wicked will be sent away to punishment, and the righteous will be welcomed into the Messianic Age / Kingdom Age / The Age to Come (as distinct from This Age). In other words, the rapture and the Second Coming happen at the same time and are the same event.
Please see my post:
Rapture = Second Coming and Happen at Same Time and on Last Day.
There is no reason, biblically, to overthink and complicate these verses and insert a separate rapture that happens before the Second Coming. Just because a teaching is popular does not make it right.
Personally, I have now accepted amillennialism because it is streamlined, and I don’t believe the NT teaches convoluted theories. The entire NT fits together if we adopt amillennialism, from Matt. 1 to Rev. 22. I cannot allow, in my own Bible interpretation, a few contested verses in Rev. 20 to confuse the clear teaching of Jesus in the Gospels and the apostolic teaching in the Epistles. That is, I don’t believe we should allow Rev. 20 (the only few verses where one thousand years are mentioned) or the entire book of the Revelation, the most symbolic book of the Bible (after Chapter 3), to guide our interpretation of these clear teachings in the Gospels and the Epistles. Instead, we should allow the clear, straightforward, nonsymbolic teachings in the Gospels and Epistles to guide our interpretations of the most symbolic book in the Bible, in which even the numbers may be symbolic and probably are. To see everything fit together, all we have to do is turn the kaleidoscope one notch or click and adopt amillennialism. I am willing to do that.
Clarity guides the unclear portions. My main point: keep the plain thing the main thing in hermeneutics (science of interpretation), and let the clear verses guide the unclear ones.
This interpretation enjoys the beauty of simplicity by eliminating all the complications that popular end-time Bible prophecy teachers have been imposing on the Gospels and Epistles for decades—over a century. Since this tradition has deep roots—not to say entrenched—in the conservative sectors of American Evangelicalism (broadly defined to incorporate the Renewal Movements), these teachers won’t give up their interpretation easily. So I hope to reach and teach the younger generations and all other openminded people of all generations. They need to prepare for tough times ahead. I’m not a pastor, but I can still have a teacher’s pastoral heart.
But in these eschatological (end-time) discussions:
“In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity (love).”
We should not break fellowship with those with whom we differ in eschatological matters.
Now let’s move on.
This is a proverbial statement that Jesus repeats elsewhere (e.g. Matt. 20:16, Mark 10:31 and Luke 13:30). The ones who want to be prominent in the kingdom must be like children. It also introduces the next parable about the workers who get hired last receive the same pay as the ones who were hired in the morning (Matt. 20:1-16, particularly v. 16).
To summarize and repeat, I like to apply the proverb to rich TV platform speakers. They are getting their treasure down here on earth (see v. 21). They live like kings on the offerings of Joe Factoryworker and Jane Shopkeeper. Joe and Jane could never afford the luxurious lifestyles of the TV preachers. In the Messianic Age at least, the flashy preachers will be pushed toward the back of the massive crowds, while others, like martyrs and believers who gave up everything (e.g. many missionaries throughout the ages) will move toward the front.
GrowApp for Mark 10:17-31
A.. What has God called you to give up for his Son and his gospel?
B.. Has God done the impossible to save you? Tell your story.
C.. After entering the kingdom, how has God blessed you with a new church family?
Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection (Mark 10:32-34)
|32 Ἦσαν δὲ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἀναβαίνοντες εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα, καὶ ἦν προάγων αὐτοὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο, οἱ δὲ ἀκολουθοῦντες ἐφοβοῦντο. καὶ παραλαβὼν πάλιν τοὺς δώδεκα ἤρξατο αὐτοῖς λέγειν τὰ μέλλοντα αὐτῷ συμβαίνειν 33 ὅτι ἰδοὺ ἀναβαίνομεν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα, καὶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδοθήσεται τοῖς ἀρχιερεῦσιν καὶ τοῖς γραμματεῦσιν, καὶ κατακρινοῦσιν αὐτὸν θανάτῳ καὶ παραδώσουσιν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν 34 καὶ ἐμπαίξουσιν αὐτῷ καὶ ἐμπτύσουσιν αὐτῷ καὶ μαστιγώσουσιν αὐτὸν καὶ ἀποκτενοῦσιν, καὶ μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας ἀναστήσεται.||32 They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was leading them. They were astonished, but those following him were frightened. He again took the twelve aside and began to tell them the things that were about to happen to him. 33 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and to the teachers of the law; they will condemn him to death and then hand him over to the Gentiles. 34 They will ridicule him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. Then after three days, he will rise.”|
Jesus foretells his death a third time. The first two times: 8:31 and 9:30-32.
“going up to Jerusalem”: from the east in Judea to Jerusalem was a long climb up a main road. It is called going up also because Jerusalem is the Holy City.
So there are two groups: the twelve and a larger groups of followers. This verse is full of emotion. The twelve were amazed or astounded or astonished (possible translations), while the large group of followers were frightened or scared or afraid. This description feels like an eyewitness, as if Peter observed and preached it, and Mark wrote it down. (Many scholars believe Peter is behind the Gospel of Mark).
So Jesus takes the twelve aside and predicts his suffering, death and resurrection. He does not want to tell the crowd because they might misinterpret God’s plan and believe that Jesus was mustering an army to run amok in Jerusalem. If the twelve could not grasp the theology of a suffering and dying Messiah (and a resurrected one), then much less would the crowds understand the true and deeper mission.
Jesus had already predicted his death in Matt. 16:21 and 17:22-23. In the first passage Peter took him aside and said it would never happen. But Jesus rebuked him: “Get behind me, Satan.” The second time, they were grieved when they heard his prediction. They didn’t focus on the promised resurrection, but on his death. Here they remain silent. That’s usually best if you don’t speak words of support. They were not quite catching on.
Jesus was predicted in the entire Bible. He fulfilled many of them about his first coming—even right now—and he will fulfill the rest at his Second Coming. Please see my post with a long table of the OT verses next to NT verses:
But his fulfillment goes beyond the table of OT and NT verses at that above link. He also fulfills the types and shadows and themes of Scripture, like salvation, the sending of the Spirit to live permanently in the surrendered believer, the animal sacrifices, and even Israel itself.
“the twelve”: these are the twelve disciples. See v. 13 and the link for more comments about disciples and discipleship.
“Son of Man”: it both means the powerful, divine Son of man (Dan. 7:13-14) and the human son of man—Ezekiel himself—in the book of Ezekiel (numerous references). Jesus was and still is in heaven both divine and human.
4. Titles of Jesus: The Son of Man
“teachers of the law”: Some translations say “scribes.”
Please see this link for a quick write-up about them:
Quick Reference to Jewish Groups in Gospels and Acts
See v. 33 for the “watchdog” roles.
This verse (plus the elders) will be literally fulfilled in Mark 14:53, when the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law bring him into the council room and interrogate him and conclude that he committed blasphemy (Luke 22:66 // Mark 14:62-64), which deserves death (Lev. 24:10-16, 23).
Jesus will be placed in the hands of Pontius Pilate and his guard. He’s the Gentile (non-Jews).
“flog”: it means to lash with a whip. It may allude to Is. 50:6, which says that the Suffering Servant gave his back to those who strike. After the flogging, they shall kill him. They did this on the cross.
“ridicule”: it can also be translated as “mock, make fun of.”
“third day”: Some interpreters take this to mean literally seventy-two hours, because Jonah spent three days and three nights in the big fish (Jnh. 1:17; Matt. 12:40), so Jesus must also spend seventy-two hours in the grave. But we over-read the intent here. The sign of Jonah was his coming out of the depths of the belly and the sea, which was a type of the resurrection. Let’s not over-analyze it. Jesus was crucified and died on Friday; he spent Saturday in the grave—or his body did—and his body was raised from the dead early on Sunday morning: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday—three days. They don’t have to be seventy-two hours. It was a Jewish custom to count a partial day as one day. Go to biblegateway.com and look up “third day.” It is remarkable how many times it means something significant and redemptive. So of course the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus would be accomplished on the third day. Also see my comments on 8:31.
Jesus will be placed in the hands of Pontius Pilate and his guard. He’s the Gentile (non-Jews).
But on the third day, he will rise or be resurrected again. This is the key to early apostolic preaching. All throughout the first five chapters of Acts, Peter and the others refer to it time and again. Paul referenced the resurrection when he spoke to the Athenians in Mars Hill (Acts 17:30-32).
1 Cor. 15:3-8 is all about the resurrection:
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Cor. 15:3-8, NIV)
Paul omitted the fact that he appeared to women first. (No he did not do this out of malice.) Jesus appeared then to Cephas (Peter) and then to the twelve. Next, he appeared to more than 500 at a time. Where did that happen? In Galilee? In or around Jerusalem? Probably the holy city. Amazing. In any case, Paul recounted what he knew. And the resurrection is the key reality and doctrine. Never give it up as nonessential, people of God. It is the core of our faith.
GrowApp for Mark 10:32-34
A.. Jesus gave up his life for us. What does this much love mean to you?
The Request of James and John (Mark 10:35-45)
|35 Καὶ προσπορεύονται αὐτῷ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάννης οἱ υἱοὶ Ζεβεδαίου λέγοντες αὐτῷ· διδάσκαλε, θέλομεν ἵνα ὃ ἐὰν αἰτήσωμέν σε ποιήσῃς ἡμῖν. 36 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν; 37 οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ· δὸς ἡμῖν ἵνα εἷς σου ἐκ δεξιῶν καὶ εἷς ἐξ ἀριστερῶν καθίσωμεν ἐν τῇ δόξῃ σου. 38 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· οὐκ οἴδατε τί αἰτεῖσθε. δύνασθε πιεῖν τὸ ποτήριον ὃ ἐγὼ πίνω ἢ τὸ βάπτισμα ὃ ἐγὼ βαπτίζομαι βαπτισθῆναι; 39 οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ· δυνάμεθα. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τὸ ποτήριον ὃ ἐγὼ πίνω πίεσθε καὶ τὸ βάπτισμα ὃ ἐγὼ βαπτίζομαι βαπτισθήσεσθε, 40 τὸ δὲ καθίσαι ἐκ δεξιῶν μου ἢ ἐξ εὐωνύμων οὐκ ἔστιν ἐμὸν δοῦναι, ἀλλ’ οἷς ἡτοίμασται.
41 Καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ δέκα ἤρξαντο ἀγανακτεῖν περὶ Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωάννου. 42 καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος αὐτοὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγει αὐτοῖς· οἴδατε ὅτι οἱ δοκοῦντες ἄρχειν τῶν ἐθνῶν κατακυριεύουσιν αὐτῶν καὶ οἱ μεγάλοι αὐτῶν κατεξουσιάζουσιν αὐτῶν. 43 οὐχ οὕτως δέ ἐστιν ἐν ὑμῖν, ἀλλ’ ὃς ἂν θέλῃ μέγας γενέσθαι ἐν ὑμῖν ἔσται ὑμῶν διάκονος, 44 καὶ ὃς ἂν θέλῃ ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι πρῶτος ἔσται πάντων δοῦλος· 45 καὶ γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἦλθεν διακονηθῆναι ἀλλὰ διακονῆσαι καὶ δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν.
|35 James and John, sons of Zebedee, came up to him, saying to him: “Teacher, we want you to do for us what we ask of you.” 36 He said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 They said to him, “Grant to us that we may sit one on your right and one on your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You don’t understand what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup which I will drink and to be baptized with the baptism with which I will be baptized?” 39 They said to him, “We are able.” But Jesus said to them, “You shall drink the cup which I drink and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 But to sit on my right or on my left is not mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.
41 When the ten heard, they began to be indignant with James and John. 42 Then Jesus, after he summoned them, said to them, “You know that those recognized as ruling over the nations lord it over them, and their great ones dominate them. 43 But it must not be like this for you. Instead, whoever wants to be greatest among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever among you wants to be first must be the slave of everyone. 45 For not even the Son of Man came to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew remembered that the mother of James and John asked (Matt. 20:20), while Peter remembered it as just James and John, without the maternal intermediary. It is likely that Peter may not have noticed that their mother intervened; after all, women followed him from Galilee (Luke 8:2-3 and Mark 15:41). James and John’s mother was one of a large crowd. No doubt James and John stood close by, and Jesus looked right at both of them, while their mother stood next to them.
Don’t miss the foolish irony John and James exhibited. Jesus talks about his death and suffering, and the two brothers ask for places of prominence.
The right and the left indicate positions of prominence.
“in your glory”: Normally, this term would refer to the Parousia or Appearing or Coming of the Lord. Normally, this is a time when everything is wrapped up and the New Messianic Age breaks forth. However, we must consider James and John’s limited perspective. Here they are heading for Jerusalem, and they believe that Jesus will win the Great Miraculous, Military Showdown against the Romans. When that happens, James and John want to shove everyone else aside and sit next to Jesus on his right and left.
However, if you interpret the phrase as the Parousia and the establishment of a glorious kingdom, then see vv. 29-30 for further comments.
Ignorance pursues power and glory, without going through suffering first. One day an older student in my class said to me as I was teaching: “I’m going to be where you are!” She meant my leading the class and teaching. To her it seemed so glorious and privileged. I replied, “Great! I hope so too! But are you willing to go through what I had to go through to get here?” The meaning was clear. I worked hard and sometimes suffered. Don’t expect leadership unless you are prepared to work for it and sometimes suffer for it. The head that wears the crown is uneasy, as the saying goes.
The cup refers to the OT imagery to judgment and retribution (Ps. 75:8; Is. 51:17-18; Jer. 25:15-28). Jesus was about to rise from the dead in power and glory and exact judgment on the Jerusalem religious establishment (Matt. 24:2; cf. Luke 21:22). But first he had to be crucified by the same establishment. James and John overlooked the suffering part, before the glory.
Baptism refers to immersion, in this case immersion into suffering. It is a “figurative expression that refers to ‘the power of calamity to overwhelm. Can you, he asks be immersed in that which has overwhelmed me’?” “The sufferer is regarded as plunged and half-drowned in his grief and loss.” (Decker, pp. 66-67, quoting two commentators). The metaphor of baptism describing an overwhelming deluge references Pss. 42:7; 69:1-2; Is. 43:2.
Their confident response that they can—“we are able”—to drink the cup was about to be tested. James suffered martyrdom (Acts 12:2), and John suffered exile (Rev. 1:9).
Jesus’s authority came only from the Father. Soon, all authority in heaven and on earth will be given to him (Matt. 28:18). Even in that case, it was derivative for the Son of God.
God is the one who gives and prepares these positions. He is behind the scenes, orchestrating these events and the lives who are surrendered to him. Matt. 20:23 adds, “prepared by my Father.” This clarifies Mark’s verse here.
In vv. 38-40, the passive voice is used: “to be baptized.” In this context, it is called the divine passive, which is an understated way of saying that God is behind the scenes orchestrating the “baptism.”
Their indignation shows they were concerned more about their missing a throne of prominence next to the Messiah than they were about the two brothers’ horning in. Maybe they were upset that they did not get there first.
Jesus uses two power words; they signify dominating and exercising authority over others. This is what the pagans or Gentiles do. Of course, what would spring instantly to mind in their minds is the Romans. Over all, with some flareups, the Romans let the Jews follow their religious customs, provided they pay taxes. They also let the Jews have some authority, as long as they submitted to Roman law. If those two things happened, peace would break out everywhere, but it chaffed the nation of Israel to be ruled by pagans. The extra-pious saw the infiltration of pagan Roman religion, here and there. Here in Mark the words are rare and extra-strong, indicating a negative rule of dominance.
Another translation of the first clause: “those who appear to rule,” meaning that man’s control and dominance is almost illusory, contrasted to the kingdom of God and his rule (Strauss).
In the kingdom community, the opposite was supposed to happen. Those who want preeminence and be a leader must be a servant. The Greek noun diakonos (pronounced dee-ah-koh-noss) does not means a formal title, like deacon or minister, but it means a servant. The deacon and minister come later, and even then caution is needed. It is ironic that those two titles came to mean bosses in the church, at least for the more hierarchical denominations. Further, Jesus uses the synonym in this context: slave doulos (pronounced doo-loss). So clearly he did not means an official position of power.
The bottom line is not to wipe away structure and authority in the later church (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11; 1 Tim. 3; and Heb. 13:17), but to show what attitude leaders should have. Humble yourself first, and then let God raise you up and give you his authority (1 Pet. 5:6).
Let’s briefly explore slave / servant:
The noun is doulos (pronounced doo-loss; the Greek is plural douloi, pronounced doo-loi) and could be translated as slave, because in Jewish culture a Hebrew man who sold himself into servitude to his fellow Jew was like an indentured servant whose term of service had a limit; he was freed in the seventh year. But then the indentured servant could stay with his family, if he liked his owner (Exod. 21:2-6; Lev. 25:38-46; Deut. 15:12-18). So there was a lot of liberty even in servitude, in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).
Slavery and Freedom in the Bible
It is a sure thing, however, that Mark’s Greek-speaking audience, knowledgeable about Greek culture, would have heard “slave” in the word doulos. So if you wish to interpret it like that, then that’s your decision. But culturally at that time slavery had nothing to do with colonial or modern slavery.
In this context, the two words function as synonyms, but slavery raises the stakes and intensified the servant role.
The Son of Man could have demanded, justly, that others serve him, but instead he came to serve others. Dan. 7:13-14 is in the background here, which says that the son of Man has all dominion and authority and glory and power.
How will the Son of Man serve? He came to give his life as a ransom for many. The Greek noun is lutron (pronounced loo-tron), and in Greek writings at the time, it most often referred to the purchase price for freeing slaves. It is their emancipation from slavery and into freedom. Jesus was the price that was paid to free his people and many others from their enslavement. Yes, it is true that there is never any mention in the NT of the person who was paid, but maybe we can say that it refers to our sin nature. He paid the price by becoming vicariously a sin offering and thereby paying the penalty for our sin, which was death. So the price and penalty merged, and it was death, and he paid that price by becoming a ransom. Remember: Jesus had just spoken of his death (vv. 32-34).
The background to this verse is Is. 53. There the Suffering Servant would suffer for his people. Is. 53:10, 12 talk about paying and suffering for the nation. He was the offering for guilt.
… Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt, (Is. 53:10, ESV)
For more discussion about the Suffering Servant being a guilt offering, see this post about Leviticus:
The Guilt Offering from a NT Perspective
And Is. 53:12 says that he bore the sins of “many”:
… he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Is. 53:12, ESV)
See my posts:
What Is Redemption in the Bible?
“for” is the preposition “anti” (pronounced an-tee), and it typically means “in place of” or “instead of.” It means a substitution. So here we have a basic verse about the substitutionary theory of the atonement.
Let’s dive more deeply into an excursus on soteriology (doctrine of salvation).
As for the word “many,” let’s not overinterpret it. Decker is right:
“Many” … here, is ‘not a large number less than all,’ but is probably to be understood in a Semitic sense … as the equivalent of [all], i.e., used to express extensiveness of the action (all of a small group is not as “big” as a statement as “many”). Note that in 3:10 [“he healed many”] [many] is replaced in the synoptic parallel in Matt. 12:15 with [all]. See the same use in Isa 53:12 (“many” but || “all” in v. 6) and Rom. 5:12 (“all” but || “many” in v. 15. Calvin’s comment is that “‘many’ is used, not for a definite number, but for a large number, in that He sets himself over against all others. And this is the meaning of Rom. 5:15, where Paul is not talking of a part of mankind but of the whole human race.” (Decker, pp. 72-73)
Decker’s comments, though right on, are complicated. Bottom line: “many” means “all” in Mark 10:45, just as it means this in Mark 3:10; Is. 53:6, 12 and in Rom. 5:12. Making too much of the “many,” literally, overworks the text and is a clunky interpretation. The limited atonement doctrine cannot be found here in context.
Recall the parallel in 1 Tim. 2:5-6:
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. (NIV, emphasis added)
It is best to take the word as comprehensive or “all.”
It is never a good idea to “limit” his atonement by indirect reasoning.
Example: (a) people can never resist his grace for salvation; (b) not all people are saved; (c) therefore his grace for salvation is not offered to everyone; and (d) therefore his salvation done on the cross (atonement) is limited to the elect or those who were called by grace; (e) and therefore, finally, the atonement is limited to the elect. Convoluted and indirect.
It is better to look directly at verses covering Christ’s atoning death on the cross—and he died for all. “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2, NIV, emphasis added). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding off his blood—to be received by faith (Rom. 3:23-25, NIV, emphasis added). This redemption and atonement is received by faith. Therefore, the door is open to anyone and everyone—all—who have faith to receive his grace, which leads to redemption and the atonement being applied to anyone and everyone—all—who have faith! The initiative begins with God, and our faith responds to his freely offered grace—offered to anyone and everyone—all. His grace is efficacious or effective to the everyone who believes or has faith, and Christ’s sacrifice of atonement is received by faith.
The cross changes everything. Now the question is: Is healing guaranteed in every case? I have attempted to answer the question in v. 3, though no ultimate answer is available to us on the earthly side of eternity. For a fuller discussion, see this post:
Why Doesn’t Divine Healing Happen One Hundred Percent of the Time?
As I read things, the call of the gospel goes to all, but some won’t respond in faith, but many will. Grace is resistible.
GrowApp for Mark 10:35-45
A.. Study 1 Pet. 5:6 and combine it with this pericope. How do you humble yourself? What happens when you do?
Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52)
|46 Καὶ ἔρχονται εἰς Ἰεριχώ. Καὶ ἐκπορευομένου αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ Ἰεριχὼ καὶ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ καὶ ὄχλου ἱκανοῦ ὁ υἱὸς Τιμαίου Βαρτιμαῖος, τυφλὸς προσαίτης, ἐκάθητο παρὰ τὴν ὁδόν. 47 καὶ ἀκούσας ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζαρηνός ἐστιν ἤρξατο κράζειν καὶ λέγειν· υἱὲ Δαυὶδ Ἰησοῦ, ἐλέησόν με. 48 καὶ ἐπετίμων αὐτῷ πολλοὶ ἵνα σιωπήσῃ· ὁ δὲ πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἔκραζεν· υἱὲ Δαυίδ, ἐλέησόν με. 49 καὶ στὰς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· φωνήσατε αὐτόν. καὶ φωνοῦσιν τὸν τυφλὸν λέγοντες αὐτῷ· θάρσει, ἔγειρε, φωνεῖ σε. 50 ὁ δὲ ἀποβαλὼν τὸ ἱμάτιον αὐτοῦ ἀναπηδήσας ἦλθεν πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν. 51 καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· τί σοι θέλεις ποιήσω; ὁ δὲ τυφλὸς εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ραββουνι, ἵνα ἀναβλέψω. 52 καὶ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὕπαγε, ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε. καὶ εὐθὺς ἀνέβλεψεν καὶ ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ.||46 They were going into Jericho. As he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, sat by the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David! Have mercy on me!” 48 Many people rebuked him to be quiet. But he cried more loudly, “Son of David! Have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stood still and said, “Call for him!” So they called for the blind man, saying, “Take courage! Get up! He’s calling for you!” 50 He threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus. 51 In reply, Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “Rabbi, that I may see again!” 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Go. Your faith has healed you.” And instantly he saw again and followed him on the road.|
Jericho is on the road going east to west to Jerusalem. Jesus was leaving the hill country east of the Jordan River and heading toward Jerusalem. Jericho is along that main road, and he was leaving it.
Luke says Jesus was entering Jericho and Mark here says that he was leaving. Some critics seize on the differences and gloat. Weaker disciples get crushed.
But there are answers.
The best explanation is that there were two Jerichos: one was the old town made up partially of ruins, and the other one was nearby and built up. Matthew, under Jewish influence, refers to the old town Jesus was leaving, while Luke, under Hellenistic influence, refers to the new town Jesus was entering. I like this explanation (Carson’s commentary on Matthew).
The main thing is not to let your faith become so brittle that it snaps in two when these differences emerge. It does not matter in light of the main message of this passage, which is that Jesus healed a blind man. Keep the main thing the main thing.
See these posts in a fifteen-part series on the reliability of the Gospels:
13. Are There Contradictions in the Gospels?
14. Similarities among John’s Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels (celebrate the countless numbers of similarities in the arc of the storyline!)
15. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels: Conclusion (start here for summaries of each part with links back to them)
‘Total’ Inerrancy and Infallibility or Just Infallibility? (my view of Scripture)
Jericho was a busy town on a busy road, so Bartimaeus chose a good spot.
Why do we know Bartimaeus’s name in Mark’s Gospel but not in Matthew’s (20:29-34) Luke’s (18:35-43) versions? The simplest and likely best answer is that Bartimaeus was part of Mark’s and Peter’s community originally. They met and talked to him. It is amazing to think of a blind man, now healed, who surrendered to the Lordship of the resurrected Jesus and was glad to be part of the small Christian community.
Peter, usually considered to stand behind Mark’s Gospel, explains what Bar (son of) Timaeus means.
Let’s speculate a little. Many Jews took Greek or Latin names just to fit in to the larger culture, and Timaeus is a Greek name. The fact that Timaeus did this may indicate that he was a respectable member of society. So it is extra poignant that Bartimaeus was reduced to begging on the busy road going up to Jerusalem. He had fallen far in society. His father must have grieved that his son had to be a beggar. We’ll never know, of course, but if his father was respectable, then he should have taken care of his son. On the other hand, Timaeus may have been embarrassed of him and told him to go beg for money. But what if Timaeus died young and the family rejected Bartimaeus? Anyway, all this background is speculative, so let’s return to the text.
Bartimaeus heard the commotion that was beyond the ordinary. It was a bigger crowd, for the pilgrimage to Jerusalem leading up to Passover. Excitement filled the air. He naturally asked what all of the noise meant. Someone in the crowd must have informed him that Jesus was passing by. He had had heard about him. Healers / teachers who get results get attention.
The fact that Mark wrote Jesus of Nazareth indicates the point of view of the audience along the road. (A demon used the place name or hometown in 1:24.) It is interesting that the crowd knew him as a Nazarene, an insignificant village up north. Galilee, you see, was not as holy as the south, because the south had Jerusalem and the temple! Galilee had too many unclean Gentiles!
“son of David”: this is the first time that the phrase is used in Mark. It signifies the Messiah. Jesus allowed the blind man to shout it out because Jesus knew that he was going to die a few days later. There’s no sense hiding his Messiahship completely. But a short time later, Jesus will correct the label “Son of David” (Mark 12:35-37), because it is accurate as far as it goes, but it was deficient. It’s like calling Jimmy Carter Mr. Governor. He was a governor of Georgia in his day, but it better to use his fuller title: Mr. President. Jesus was the Son of David, and Matthew’s genealogy proves it (1:6), and so does Luke’s genealogy (Luke 3:31).
Son of David was a popular Messianic title; it reflects the future age when the eyes of the blind would be opened and the ears of the deaf would be unstopped and the lame would leap like a deer (Is. 35:5:5-6). Jesus was ushering it in right now, in part. Later in his ministry he will correct the popular view and say that if the Messiah really was David’s son, then why does David call him Lord (Matt. 22:41-46)?
3. Titles of Jesus: The Son of David and the Messiah
In Greek the word mercy can be a verb, so it could be translated as “Pity me!” Or we could invent a verb: “mercify me!” But that translation is too awkward. Let’s not do that.
In any case, the Greek implies that he cried out with a loud voice. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. The phrase “have mercy” is one verb in Greek. In English we can’t properly say, “Compassion me!” or “Mercy me!” Instead we have to say, “Show me mercy!” or Have mercy on me!” But in Greek you could. Mercy is a verb. It takes action. However, we can say, “Pity me!” And some translations go for it.
You have to like Bartimaeus. He shouted out his need for mercy, and when the crowd told him to keep quiet, he shouted even more loudly (or literally “rather much” or “much more”). He would not be put off by the crowd. Is the crowd pulling you away from Jesus and his meeting your need? Or will you cry out to him even more loudly when the crowd tells you to keep quiet?
The crowd rebuked them. The verb is epitimaō (pronounced eh-pea-tee-mah-oh), and it could be translated as “scolded,” “warned,” “censure.” The crowd probably said something like: “Quiet, you! The Lord is in a big hurry! He doesn’t have time for the likes of you!” They were the self-appointed watchdogs of Jesus’s ministry, telling people to schedule an appointment.
But the man was having none of it. He cried out even much louder. His need was greater than their censure. What about you? Is your need greater than social decorum? Are you willing to break down society’s walls to get to Jesus?
But Jesus stood still and stopped the whole movement and crowd and twelve disciples because through the noisy crowd and irritating dust, Jesus heard a sound. A blind man named Bartimaeus cried out for mercy. Then the crowd changed their mind. They suddenly encouraged him and told him to get up. Crowds can support you if you’re persistent, but don’t depend on them in the final analysis or at the end of the day. Thankfully, Jesus ignored the self-appointed watchdogs of Jesus’s ministry schedule and stopped.
Bartimaeus’ response was perfect and wonderful and eager. He threw off his ratty, old cloak and leaped to his feet and made his way towards Jesus. Some members of the crowd must have cleared a path and stuck out their hands to guide him to the Messiah.
Then Jesus asks a seemingly needless question. What do you want me to do for you? Really? The question was so obvious that it seems absurd to us today and probably to the crowd back then. The question is open-ended. Jesus sometimes has to know that people mean business. Recall that in John 5:2-9, Jesus healed only one man by the pool of Bethesda, when it was crowed with people. Jesus asked a similar question: “Do you want to be healed?” He made an excuse and did not answer him instantly. Believe it or not, people sometimes like their illness. They get attention. But not Bartimaeus. He answered Jesus instantly.
“see again”: it comes from the verb anablepō (pronounced ah-nah-bleh-poh), and blepō is the very frequent verb “I see.” Attach the prefix ana– in front, and it means “up” (as in “look up”) or “re-“ (as in literally “re-see”). Therefore, the verb could be translated, depending on the context, as follows: “Look up” (the main meaning), “regain one’s sight,” “receive sight,” or “become able to see.” Or here I chose “see again.”
1. Titles of Jesus: Rabbi and Teacher
France: “There seems no difference in effect between [Rabbi] and the ‘heightened form’ (BAGD) [Rabbouni].” My comment: if one form is heightened, then how can they be equal? There may be a difference.
“faith”: Believing (verb) and faith (noun) is very important to God. It is the language of heaven. We live on earth and by faith see the invisible world where God is. We must believe he exists; then we must exercise our faith to believe he loves us and intends to save us. We must have saving faith by trusting in Jesus and his finished work on the cross.
Forsaking All, I Trust Him
Let’s discuss the noun faith more deeply. It is the noun pistis (pronounced peace-teace or piss-tiss). These comments apply to the verb, as well: pisteuō (pronounced pea-stew-oh). It is the language of the kingdom of God. It is how God expects us to relate to him. It is the opposite of doubt, which is manifested in whining and complaining and fear. Instead, faith is, first, a gift that God has distributed to everyone (Rom. 12:3). Second, it is directional (Rom. 10:9-11; Acts 20:21). We cannot rightly have faith in faith. It must be faith in God through Christ. Third, faith in Christ is different from faith in one’s ability to follow God on one’s own. It is different from keeping hundreds of religious laws and rules. This is one of Luke’s main themes in Acts, culminating in the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) and Paul’s ministry for the rest of Acts. Faith in Jesus over faith in law keeping. Fourth, there is faith as a set of beliefs and doctrines, which are built on Scripture (Acts 6:7). Fifth, there is also a surge of faith that is poured out and transmitted through the Spirit when people need it most (1 Cor. 12:9). It is one of the nine charismata or manifestations of grace (1 Cor 12:7-11). Sixth, one can build faith and starve doubt by feasting on Scripture and the words about Christ (Rom. 10:17).
Word Study on Faith and Faithfulness
“healed”: The verb sōzō (pronounced soh-zoh) means “save, rescue, heal” in a variety of contexts, but mostly it is used of saving the soul. All of it is a package called salvation and saved.
See v. 26 for a more expanded definition.
In any case, I like Mark’s streamlined account of their response. He followed Jesus. Perfect.
The members in the crowd who rebuked them must have slinked back into the crowd out of embarrassment.
GrowApp for Mark 10:46-52
A.. The crowd tried to keep Bartimaeus down. Have they done the same to you? How did you respond?
B.. When you called out to Jesus for any need, how did he answer you? Tell your story.
Summary and Conclusion
Apparently, in Jesus’s eyes, marriage had become much too cheap and sordid. He intended to put a stop to it. He was tightening things up in order to help the woman who was unjustly turned out of her first husband’s house. In an easy divorce society, marrying and remarrying could potentially become a wife-swapping scheme, in pursuit of the latest and most attractive woman. “I like her! I’m bored with my wife now. She’s old! I know what I’ll do! I’ll write up a certificate of divorce on flimsy grounds, tell my current wife to go home, and marry this new woman who strikes my fancy! I’ve already arranged things with her father who also believes in easy divorce and remarriage! He’s done the same thing!” Jesus’s goal is to protect women, not impose kingdom oppression on them, since Jewish law allowed only the man to initiate the divorce and thereby possibly victimize the woman.
Marriage is not merely a covenant between man and woman; it is more deeply a covenant between God, man and woman—or God, woman and man. God has to be involved in the marriage. I have a long post on the topic of divorce and remarriage in the major Scriptures on the topic, here:
Brief Overview of Divorce and Remarriage in New Testament
Speaking of marriage, Jesus next blesses the little children and touches them to bless them. In the first-century, children were at the bottom of society, and Jesus raised them up, telling his twelve disciples that they must receive the kingdom—note how the kingdom must be received—like the children, in the simplicity and openness of heart. But we must not remain as children. We must then grow up.
Next, Mark presents the true story of a rich man, who is identified as young in Matthew’s version and a ruler in Luke’s version. He wanted to know how he could inherit eternal life, and Jesus quotes some of the ten commandments. The man replied that he himself had kept them. Now what? Jesus goes for the heart: the man must be willing to sell off everything and give it to the poor and follow him. The rich young ruler was shocked and gloomy, because he was unwilling. Jesus was the new way to inherit eternal life. You have to go through him. We have to be careful about imposing this demand on everyone, because Jesus also told us to be salt and light in society (Matt. 5:13-16). If selling everything in your corner of the world will make you be salt and light, then do it. However, if entering into society—without being polluted by it—with all its prosperity allows you to be salt and light, then do it. Each person must follow his own Bible-trained, Spirit-filled conscience and leading. Each one of us must become missionaries in our corner of the world. The goal is to lay up a treasure in heaven, which is eternal life with God, when he really does wrap up this whole world system and renovate the entire universe and establish his eternal kingdom on it.
Further, Jesus foretells his death a third time, and James and John jockey for position in the coming glory. In their minds, they figured that Jesus would win the battle against the Romans and the Jerusalem establishment, with the help of the miracle-working God and restore Israel to its place of purity and Torah keeping. Then James and John wanted Jesus to guarantee them a place on his right and left. Jesus asked them whether they were ready to drink the cup and undergo the baptism he would go through—two metaphors for suffering and immersion in death. They confidently said they were able. Then Jesus told them their position was up to the Father, not him. The ten heard their discussion and were indignant. Jesus told them to become the servant and even slaves of all. The way up is first down. Not even the Son of Man came to be served, but to serve and give his life a ransom for many. The word “for” indicates “in place of” or “instead of.” So we have a first glance at the substitutionary doctrine of the atonement. Jesus took our place on the cross. He was our substitute. Don’t overinterpret the word “many.” In a Semitic context it just means “all” or an endless number, as distinct from a countable number or a “few,” i.e. a small elect. His ransom on the cross reaches everyone who wants it, but for those who refuse it, it does not apply to them.
Finally, Jesus heals a blind man named Bartimaeus who would not take “shut up” from the crowd for his answer. He pressed in and called out for help and mercy even more loudly. Jesus like his persistent faith and called for him to come front and center. Bartimaeus threw off his cloak and jumped and made his way towards his living answer. Jesus simply told him that his faith healed him. He recovered his sight and followed Jesus into Jerusalem. We need to be persistent in our faith. Don’t take no for an answer in your search for healing.
Now, on to Jerusalem, where he was going to die in about a week.
Decker, Rodney J. Mark 9-16: A Handbook on the Greek Text (Baylor UP, 2014).
France, R. T. The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Eerdmans, 2002).
Garland, David E. Mark: The NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan, 1996).
Lane, William L. Mark: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition, and Notes (Eerdmans, 1974).
Strauss, Mark L. Mark: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Zondervan, 2014).
The Greek New Testament. Fifth Revised Edition by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger (United Bible Society, 1993). The Greek text in the tables comes from the Nestle-Aland 28th ed, available here: https://www.academic-bible.com/en/online-bibles/novum-testamentum-graece-na-28/read-the-bible-text/
Wessel, Walter W. and Mark L. Strauss. Mark: The Bible’s Expositor’s Commentary, Vol. 9, Rev. ed. (Zondervan 2010).
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