Gospel of Mark: Chapter 3

Gospel of Mark:

Commentary on Chapter 3

  • v. 1 – The Greek word here for the man’s deformed hand indicates that it was not a deformity he had suffered from birth. Some traditions hold that he was a bricklayer.
  • vv. 2-4 – The religious leaders wanted to accuse Jesus of sinning for breaking the Sabbath by performing a healing. Jesus reminds them how their heroes, the Maccabees, who had thrown off Greek oppressors decided to fight on the Sabbath.[1] If killing on the Sabbath was permissible, should not doing something good like healing be permissible, Jesus asked.
  • v. 5 – Jesus experiences two emotions in this verse: anger and grief.
  • v. 6 – The Pharisees did not believe in associating with anyone who was not keeping their religious rules, yet in an endeavor to kill Jesus they were willing to associate with the Herodians[2] who were cooperating with the Romans.
  • vv. 7-8 – This indicates that people were coming not only from Judea but also from surrounding countries to see Jesus.
    • Idumea was previously known as Edom.[3]
  • v. 14 – Jesus selects twelve apostles (messengers, ambassadors), just as Israel had twelve tribes.
  • v. 16 – Simon being nicknamed Peter by Jesus probably had something to do with his character (Peter was notoriously bullheaded)
  • v. 17 – It is likely that James and John being named “Sons of Thunder” was for a similar reason as Peter – possibly hot tempers.
  • v. 18 – The zealots were a group of Jews who were constantly assassinating Romans. Note that Jesus brought together Matthew (Levi) who had served the Roman Empire with Simon, who had fought the Roman Empire.
  • v. 21 – Jesus’ biological family did not follow him or believe in him until after his resurrection.
  • v. 22 – Beelzebul means “lord of the flies” or “lord of the manure pile” and refers to Satan – the leader of the rebellion against God.
    • Demons are spiritual beings aligned opposed to God. They are not gods and they do not have the power of God, but they are an active force in the world, until God finally and eternally puts down their rebellion.
  • v. 27 – Jesus is plundering Satan’s house (by casting out demons) and thus must have defeated Satan.
  • vv. 28-30 – This is known as the “unpardonable sin.” Its nature has been greatly debated within Christianity. In general, Christian theologians agree that it is not a sin into which an individual can easily fall and many believe that it is the continued decision to reject the work of God and to call it the work of Satan. Pursued across a lifetime, might a man not come to a place where he could no longer turn back from the thoughts he has been pursuing?
    • Alternatively, some believe that it is a sin which could only be committed during the earthly life of Jesus, as people were shown irrefutable evidence and yet chose intentionally to reject the evidence.
  • v. 31 – Mary apparently had other sons after Jesus, but these were not born supernaturally while she was still a virgin (as was the case with Jesus) but through the natural means of sexual intercourse.
    • Alternatively, it is possible that these are technically Jesus’ step-siblings. Joseph could have had children already when he took Mary as his wife.[4]

Author: Dave Mackey

Revision: 1.1 4/19/13


[1] 1 Maccabees 2:32-41

[2] Rather than Rome ruling directly, they oftentimes elected local governments that reported to Rome. Herod’s family was the then current ruling family in Judea.

[3] A historical enemy of Judea.

[4] This is the preferred interpretation by Catholics who believe in Mary’s perpetual virginity.