Category Archives: Teaching

A Translation of Mark Chapter 9

RomansText1Then Jesus responded and said to him, “Oh unbelieving generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I be patient with you?” (Mark 9:19)

We do not often think of what it must have been like for Jesus to walk this earth as the only human being untainted by sin. He had no greed, no inappropriate ambition, no suspicion or fear. He was the only one without these all too human traits.

Since Jesus came on a mission for us, he did not focus on his own needs, but on the needs of those he came to serve. But in the verse above, we have just a small window into the soul of Jesus as the Son of Man. Although he certainly was “God with us,” he walked this earth as one of us. He was a human being in every way, just like us. He had feelings, longings, and passions, but without what theologians call “original sin,” those feelings, longings, and passions were never used in a selfish way. We know this, but as the gospel writers reveal who Jesus is to us, they rarely highlight the burden of his separateness in the way Mark does here.

Jesus had just come from the mountaintop. He had been there with Peter, James, and John. While they were there, the glory of heaven had broken through, and Jesus’ glory was revealed to the three disciples. At the same time, Jesus was able to visit with Elijah and Moses, two men who were already perfected and, like Jesus, were not crippled by a sin nature. Since we not only still have a sin nature, but are also surrounded with people who have the same nature, we can’t imagine how refreshing it must have been to Jesus to step out from the sin environment to converse with these two men.

But that was on top of the mountain. As he descended once again into the valley, he encountered this major disappointment. The disciples that had not accompanied up the mountain, whom he had already given authority to drive out demons (see Mark 6:7), had failed miserably at helping a young man who was in desperate need. Their limited understanding and lack of faith had prevented them from carrying out their mission.

The sudden contrast from the untainted interchange at the top of the mountain, to this disappointing failure, highlighted for Jesus just how alone he was as a human being on this earth. His cry of disappointment escaped his lips, and provides a window into his soul that reveals the burden he carried just walking among people in a fallen world.

When the first Adam was created, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” When the second Adam walked the earth, we see the crushing disappointment that descends on one who was truly alone. But the same God who promised a helper for the first Adam, has also planned a “helper suitable” for the second Adam. The Church will be the Bride who is able to step into that place. The Father is preparing that Bride even now as she learns to reject greed, inappropriate ambition, suspicion, and fear. She will be a bride without spot, wrinkle, or defect (See Ephesians 5:25-33). When we finally mature, Jesus will no longer be “alone.”

On to our translation:

Mark 9:1-50
A Translation by Randal Cutter

9:1   He also said to them, “I am telling you the truth, some of you standing here will certainly not taste death before you see the Kingdom of God established in power.”*

9:2   Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John and brought them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was changed into another form in front of them.*

9:3   His garments were gleaming intensely white, in a way that no one who washes or bleaches clothes on earth could possibly do.

9:4   At the same time, Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and the two of them were speaking with Jesus.

9:5   Peter responded to it all by saying to Jesus, “Rabbi, It is good for us to be here. I will make three meeting tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

9:6   He said this because he was so frightened that he did not know how to respond.*

9:7   Just then a cloud came and overshadowed them, and a voice came from the cloud, “This is my Son, whom I love, listen to him.”

9:8   Right after that they looked around, but no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus alone.

9:9   While they were coming down from the mountain, he gave them clear instructions that they should not explain the details of what they had seen to anyone until the Son of Man rose from the dead.

9:10   They understood the instruction, but they debated among themselves what “to rise from the dead” meant.

9:11   They also questioned him asking, “Why do the scribal scholars say that Elijah must precede the Messiah?”

9:12   He responded to them, “Elijah most certainly does come first to restore all things. But why is it written about the Son of Man that he must suffer and be despised and mistreated?”

9:13   “Indeed, I am telling you that Elijah has come, and they did to him what they wished, just as it is written about him.”

9:14   When Jesus came to the disciples, he saw a large crowd around them and the scribal scholars quizzing them.

9:15   As soon as everyone in the crowd saw him, they were amazed and ran to welcome him.*

9:16   He asked the scribal scholars, “Why are you quizzing them?”

9:17   One from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you because he has a spirit that makes him mute.”

9:18   “In addition, whenever it overcomes him, it throws him to the ground in convulsions, and he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes so stiff he cannot move. I spoke to your disciples hoping they would cast it out, but they were not able.”

9:19   Then Jesus responded and said to him, “Oh unbelieving generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I be patient with you? Bring the boy to me.”

9:20   They brought him to Jesus. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw him into a convulsion, and he fell down on the ground rolling around and foaming at the mouth.

9:21   Jesus asked his father, “For how long a time has this been happening to him?” The man said, “From childhood.”

9:22   “Many times he also has thrown him into the fire or water trying to kill him. But if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.”

9:23   But Jesus said to him, “’If you can?’ All things are possible for him who believes.”

9:24   The father of the child immediately cried out and said, “I believe. Help my unbelief!”

9:25   When Jesus saw that the crowd was surging toward him, he reproved the unclean spirit and said to him, “I command you, deaf and mute spirit, go out from him and no longer enter into him.”

9:26   After the demon cried out and threw the boy into severe convulsions, he left. The boy appeared so lifeless, that many said he had died.

9:27   But Jesus grasped his hand, raised him, and he stood up.

9:28   When he went into a house, his disciples came privately and asked him, “Why were we not able to cast it out?”

9:29   He said to them, “This type cannot come out except through prayer and fasting.”*

9:30   Then he went out and began traveling through Galilee, but he did not want anyone to know

9:31   because he was teaching his disciples. He was explaining to them that the Son of Man would be delivered into the hands of men; they would kill him, but after his death he would rise again after three days.

9:32   But they did not understand his message, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

9:33   They came to Capernaum. When he had come into his house, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?”

9:34   But they remained silent, for while they were on the road they had been discussing who was most important.

9:35   He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If you want to be first, you will be the last of all and the servant of all.”*

9:36   He chose a child and set the child in their midst; then he took the child in his arms and said to them,

9:37   “Whoever receives a child such as this one in my name receives me. Whoever receives me does not receive me, but the one who sent me.”

9:38   John interrupted him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out a demon in your name, but we stopped him because he doesn’t travel with us.”

9:39   Jesus responded, “Do not stop him. It is not possible for someone who does a miracle in my name to then turn and speak evil of me.”

9:40   “For the one who is not against us is for us.”*

9:41 “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you follow Messiah, I am telling you the truth, he will never lose his reward.”

9:42   “However, whoever leads one of these little one who believes in me to fall away, it would be better for him instead if a millstone—the type that a donkey turns*—was tied around his neck and he was cast into the sea.”

9:43   “If your right hand leads you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life with only one hand than to enter into Gehenna—into the unquenchable fire—with two hands.”*

9:44  “Where their worm does not die, and the fire never goes out.”*

9:45   “If your foot leads you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life with only one foot, than to enter into Gehenna with two feet.”

9:46   “Where their worm does not die, and the fire never goes out.”

9:47   “If your eye leads you to sin, remove it. It is better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with only one eye, than to be thrown into Gehenna with two eyes.”*

9:48   “Where their worm does not die, and the fire never goes out.”

9:49   “For everyone there will be salted with fire.”

9:50   “Salt is good, but if the salt leeches away, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”*

——————————————————————

9:1  Established in power: This verse actually goes with the previous chapter and the time when Peter rebuked Jesus for saying he was going to die. At that time Jesus pointed out that the path to true Kingdom power was through self-denial. This verse established that a Kingdom built on the death of self-will was a soon-to-be reality.

9:2  Changed into another form: Most translations use the theological term “Transfigured” here. However, the Greek word means, “to change into another form.” For variety, I chose to use the meaning of the word rather than our theological term.

9:6  He was so frightened: Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, Mark explains Peter’s statement in a way that lets us know that we most certainly would have been just as frightened by what was going on. Even in his frightened state, Peter wanted the experience to continue, and suggested setting up new “Tents of Meeting” where God’s people could encounter the divine.

9:15  They were amazed: Mark doesn’t tell us why the crowd was so amazed as Jesus approached. Some have speculated that he may have still had a visible residual of glory similar to the brightness of Moses’ visage when he would return to camp after an encounter with God. While this is certainly possible, we have no further insight beyond what Mark wrote here.

9:29  Prayer and fasting: This verse is one of those verses that expose the presuppositions behind a Bible translation. If the translation drops the word “fasting,” they are really doing it for theological reasons rather than on the basis of manuscript evidence. The vast majority of manuscripts and versions include the word “fasting” in this verse. In Jewish thought of the time, prayer and fasting naturally went together, and it was commonplace to connect the two. It is only in our more Western mindset that we think of fasting as something separate or distinct from prayer. My favorite quote, one that exposes the theological approach to whether one includes fasting in this passage or not, comes from a well-respected commentary on the biblical text. The author states, “In the early Church the efficacy of fasting was championed and this emphasis has left its mark upon almost the entire manuscript tradition of verse 29. Jesus, however, spoke only of prayer as the source of faith’s power and the means of its strength.” Please note that the author clearly states that almost the entire manuscript evidence supports the fact that Jesus said, “Prayer and fasting.” Please also note that his argument against it is that the early church liked to fast. If you are scratching your head over that, you are not the only one. Jesus most certainly said, “Prayer and fasting.”

9:35  You will be the last of all and the servant of all: The verb is “will be,” not “must.” However, we all know that the future can be used as a command. Think of the parent saying to his or her child, “You will eat your vegetables!” However, I believe that Jesus is not using it in that way here. The simplest way to understand this passage is that Jesus is saying, “If you want to be first, you will end up last, and you will end up being everyone else’s servant.” Wanting to be first sets things in motion that will leave you far from your intended destination. God exalts the humble. The path to greatness is not through ambition.

9:40  For the one who is not against us is for us: These words are pretty much a quote of a well-known speech that Cicero gave in front of Caesar less than a hundred years earlier. Since Jesus and his disciples lived in Graeco-Roman culture, this saying had probably come to them as a cliché that Jesus now used effectively. I can imagine his smile as he tells them that they shouldn’t stop the man using his name because, in effect, “We need all the support we can get.” I can also imagine him chuckling as he finished with this well-known phrase from Cicero, “For as we all know, whoever is not against us is for us.” It would have broken a bit of the tension as everyone got to smile, and actually allowed Jesus to go a bit deeper in the next verses.

9:42  The kind that a donkey turns: Many translations simply translate this as a large millstone. However, Jesus does describe the millstone as the type that a donkey turns. Although a small, hand-turned millstone would be enough to sink most of us, Jesus is making an even clearer point when he refers to this much larger millstone.

9:43  Cut it off: Jesus is using hyperbole to point out how drastically we must take action against those things that stop us from entering the Kingdom of God. Self-mutilation is a violation of the image of God, and is nowhere in Jesus’ mind.

9:44 & 46  Where the worm does not die: Verses 44 and 46 are not in many translations. There is no doubt that Jesus spoke these words in verse 48. The only question is, did he also speak them in these two verses. The manuscript evidence is about evenly divided. Since it is easier to explain how they were added by a copyist (as a liturgical response to Jesus’ words), than it is to explain why anyone would have deleted them, most newer translations drop the two verses. Since the manuscript evidence is split, and Jesus most certainly did speak these words in verse 48, I have no problem including them.

9:47  The Kingdom of God: By adding this phrase, Jesus very clearly indicates that he is not speaking about the afterlife in these admonitions to drastic action. The concept of Kingdom is a “this life” thing. He is indicating the importance of stepping into righteousness, peace, and joy as prerequisites to the Kingdom, as opposed to allowing other things to hinder that effort.

9:47  Gehenna: Gehenna is literally the valley of Hinnom next to Jerusalem. It had become a putrid garbage site filled with dead animals, burning garbage, and decay. It is a vivid picture to Jesus’ listeners of the pain and stench of the burning regret people feel when their choices have left them outside of the Kingdom reality of righteousness, joy and peace. Everyone who misses the Kingdom will be salted with the fire of regret.

9:50  If the salt leeches away: As Jesus discusses people being salted by regret, he also speaks of the importance of spiritual salt in our lives. The people of his time did not have refined salt like we do. Their salt was mixed with other minerals. If the mixture got wet, the Sodium Chloride could be leeched out, and the remaining stuff had no taste or benefit.

——————————————————–

Subscription Notice: I have found that the most dependable way of notifying subscribers of a new post is through email. So I have added an email subscribe option below. Just add your email address and click subscribe (you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription—so check your spam folders if you don’t). You will receive an email alert whenever I publish an article. Your emails will be used for no other purpose.


 

Image credit: Randal Cutter/iPhone 6s/Photoshop Oil Paint Filter

A Translation of Mark Chapter 8

RomansText1“Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Why have you concluded that I said this because you did not bring bread? Don’t you yet know or understand? Are your hearts hard? You have eyes, but do you not see? You have ears, but do you not hear?” (Mark 8:17-18)

Jesus spoke the words quoted above to some very dull disciples. Jesus had already fed the five thousand with five loaves of bread, and the four thousand with seven loaves of bread, and yet the disciples somehow concluded that he would be upset because they forgot to pack lunch.

When we eventually get to watch the video of this scene, I want to listen to Jesus’ tone as he spoke these words, and watch the expression on his face. It almost seems impossible that his disciples could have seen the miraculous feedings of such huge crowds of people, and still demonstrated such a focus on the fact that they had forgotten lunch for a dozen or so. That is what makes Jesus’ words so poignant. “Don’t you yet know? Don’t you yet understand? Are your hearts hard? Can’t you see? Can’t you hear?”

Of course, we can be just as dense as Jesus’ disciples. There are so many things that happen around us that demonstrate God’s love and presence, and yet we too can focus on the petty needs of the moment, instead of the big picture of what God is doing. It is a part of our human condition. But we don’t have to stay there. We can remember what God has done for us in the past, and apply it to our present. That is, after all, what faith does. It lives up to its level of experience of God. If the Lord has moved on your behalf in the past, it is only common sense to expect him to do so in the future. If he has affirmed his love for you during trying circumstance, it is only faith to expect that he will continue to do so.

The disciples demonstrated little faith when they forgot to apply their past experiences to their present circumstance. One way we can avoid this trap is by making a list of times when we just know that God has intervened on our behalf. Then when we pray, we can thank God for those times, and ask him to do it again. I believe he is absolutely thrilled by such prayers since they are manifestations of faith, and we know it is by faith from first to last (see Romans 1:17).

On to our translation:

Mark 8:1-38
A Translation by Randal Cutter

8:1   At that time, a large crowd gathered around Jesus again. Since they did not have anything to eat, he called his disciples together and said to them,

8:2   “I have compassion for the crowd; they have already been with me three days, and they do not have anything to eat.”

8:3   “If I send them away to their homes without food, they will become faint along the way; some of them have even come from a long distance.

8:4   His disciples responded to him, “Where would anyone find bread to feed them here in this desolate place?”*

8:5   He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They told him, “Seven.”

8:6   So he commanded the crowd to sit down upon the ground. He took the seven loaves of bread, gave thanks, broke it into pieces, and gave it to his disciples for them to distribute. Then they distributed the bread to the crowd.

8:7   They also had a few small fish. He blessed them and told his disciples to also distribute the fish.*

8:8   The people ate and had as much as they wanted. The disciples picked up seven larger baskets* of leftover fragments,

8:9   even though there were about four thousand men. After this Jesus sent the people home.

8:10   He immediately embarked in a boat with his disciples, and traveled to the region of Dalmanutha.

8:11   Just then the Pharisees came out and began to badger him, testing him by seeking a sign from heaven from him.

8:12   He sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why is this generation seeking a sign? I am telling you the truth, no sign will be given to this generation.”

8:13   He left them, boarded the boat again, and crossed over to the other side.

8:14   However, the disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat.

8:15   At that time Jesus gave them clear instructions telling them, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of the Herodians.”*

8:16   The disciples concluded among themselves that Jesus said this because they had no bread.

8:17   He knew their thoughts and said to them, “Why have you concluded that I said this because you did not bring bread? Don’t you yet know or understand? Are your hearts hard?”

8:18   “You have eyes, but do you not see? You have ears, but do you not hear? Don’t you remember”

8:19   “when I broke five loaves for the five thousand? How many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?” They said to him, “Twelve.”

8:20   “When I broke seven loaves for the four thousand, how many larger baskets full of fragments did you pick up?” They said to him, “Seven.”

8:21   He said to them, “You don’t yet understand?”

8:22   After this they arrived at Bethsaida. The people brought a blind man to Jesus, and urged him to touch the man.

8:23   Jesus took the hand of the blind man, and brought him outside of the village. He spit in the man’s eyes, laid his hands on him, and asked him, “What do you see?”

8:24   Then his sight returned, and he said, “I see men walking about, to be specific, I am seeing them like they are trees.”*

8:25   Jesus laid his hands on the man’s eyes again, and he saw clearly; his sight was fully restored, and he could see everything distinctly.

8:26   After that Jesus sent the man to his own house saying, “Do not go into the village.”

8:27   Some time later Jesus and his disciples went out to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. While they were on the road, he began to question his disciples asking them, “Who do men say that I am?”

8:28   They responded to him saying, “Some say John the Baptizer, others say Elijah, and others say that you are one of the prophets.”

8:29   He asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter answered and said to him, “You are the Christ.”

8:30   Then Jesus strongly warned them that they should say nothing to anyone about him.

8:31   He also began to teach them that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things; to be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribal scholars; and to be killed and raised to life after three days.

8:32   He spoke this message openly to them, but Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

8:33   But Jesus turned his back on Peter, and when he saw his disciples, he rebuked him and said, “Quit haunting me, Satan! Peter, you are thinking from the perspective of men, not God.”*

8:34   After that he called the crowd together with his disciples and said to them, “If anyone desires to follow after me, he must deny his own will, take up his cross, and follow me.”

8:35   “For whoever desires to save his soul will lose it, but whoever loses his soul for my sake, and for the gospel, will save it.”

8:36   “For what benefit is there for a man to gain the whole world and suffer loss to his soul?”

8:37   “For what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”*

8:38   “For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with his holy angels.”

——————————————————————

8:4  Desolate Place: There are two things we should realize. First, the disciples are clearly throwing the ball back into Jesus’ court in their response to him. They certainly didn’t forget the feeding of the five thousand. In essence, they were inviting him to do it again. The second thing that we can note, is that this miracle is taking place in the region of the Decapolis (the Ten Greek Cities). There can be no doubt that this was a mixed crowd. The feeding of the five thousand was done with a mostly Jewish crowd. The feeding of the four thousand was also an outreach to the Gentiles.

8:7  The fish: Mark makes it clear that the fish were almost an afterthought. It may be that while they were distributing the bread, someone in the crowd let the disciples know they also had some fish. In this way, the fish would have been provided so that they also could be multiplied and distributed.

8:8  Larger baskets: At the end of the feeding of the five thousand, the disciples picked up twelve personal baskets of leftovers. These were the personal baskets that most of the people of the time would take with them when they left their homes. However, in this instance, it is a much larger basket that is used, not the personal one. They may have had far more left over than they had from the first feeding.

8:15  The yeast of the Pharisees and Herodians: In spite of the fact that the Pharisees and Herodians had seen many miracles, they wanted a sign from heaven to validate the signs on earth. The yeast, then, is that thing which works in us so that we do not believe even when we see something obviously supernatural. This is not to say that we must believe everything that people call miracles, but it certainly reminds us that there is a point when you can no longer intellectually deny a miracle, and at that point it is dishonest to require even more proof than has been given.

8:24  I see people walking as trees: I believe that the reason that this is a two-part miracle, is that it is a message about our spiritual journey. When our eyes are first opened, we can see certain spiritual truths, but not others. However, as we grow in our connection to Jesus, our eyes are opened further, and we can see better. This growth in our ability to see helps us see people better (and appreciate who they are even more).

8:33  Jesus turned his back on Peter: I have translated this verse to capture a bit of the activity that is portrayed in the verse a bit more fully. I have often pictured Jesus looking into Peter’s eyes and saying, “Get behind me, Satan,” as if he were calling Peter by the name of Satan. However, it is clear that Jesus has already turned from Peter by the time he speaks, and although he is certainly rebuking Peter, I am no longer certain he is calling Peter by Satan’s name. I have indicated that Jesus may truly be addressing the Tempter first, and then addressing Peter in the second half of his statement.

8:37  Soul: I have deliberately translated the Greek word as soul instead of life as some other translations do, so that we understand Jesus’ point. He is speaking to our self-will. The soul is the location of our mind, emotions, and will. We can do things our way, and lose everything even while we live (happiness, satisfaction, contentment). The only path to a happy soul is by denying our own self-will, and doing it God’s way.

——————————————————–

Subscription Notice: I have found that the most dependable way of notifying subscribers of a new post is through email. So I have added an email subscribe option below. Just add your email address and click subscribe (you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription—so check your spam folders if you don’t). You will receive an email alert whenever I publish an article. Your emails will be used for no other purpose.


 

Image credit: Randal Cutter/iPhone 6s/Photoshop Oil Paint Filter

A Translation of Mark Chapter 7

RomansText1“In addition, when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they baptize themselves. They also cling to many other traditions that they have inherited, such as the baptizing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and dining couches. ” (Mark 7:4)

Before I comment on this verse, I should mention that in my congregation we practice baptism through immersion. I grew up Lutheran, and as most of you know, Lutheran practice is not immersion, nor would it be appropriate, since they baptize babies. However, when I left the Lutheran Church I shifted to adult baptism by immersion both for theological and practical reasons.

Before we move on, perhaps I should point out that most Christians believe this key truth about baptism: Baptism is for infants. Let that sink in for a minute. Now let’s finish the thought: Some Christians believe that baptism is for physical infants, and some believe it is for spiritual infants (new believers). This means that we agree about a very basic truth about baptism, and that our only disagreement (from this perspective) is about whether the application is physical or spiritual. There, I’ve just solved a theological rift that has plagued the Christian Church for centuries. You are welcome.

More seriously, since I am about to write some potentially unpopular things, I thought I would state clearly what I currently practice so that you realize that I am not grinding a theological ax in what I write below. I am a truth-seeker. I also want you to be one. I know I can help with that by stating my position up front.

In order to be a truth-seeker, we need to allow the Scripture to form our theological opinions, our theological opinions cannot form Scripture. Since this is a translation article, I will put it this way: When we desire to determine the meaning of a word, we can approach the topic in one of two ways. We can determine the meaning of a word theologically, that is, we determine what our theology states that the word should mean, and we then make the word mean that. The other approach, which I believe is more appropriate, is to determine a word’s meaning linguistically. That means, among other things, that we look at the various contexts in which we find a word, and then determine its meaning based upon the obvious context.

Thus we turn our attention to the verse I have quoted above.

I know that most translations do not use the word “baptize” in their translation of this verse. However, the Greek word that the Holy Spirit moved Mark to use was baptizo. As I did a survey of other translations, I found that most translations, except Young’s Literal Translation (YLT), chose to translate baptizo by using the word “washing” instead of the more familiar “baptize.” I would not normally have a problem with that choice, except that it obscures something that we really need to see in order to undertand the meaning of the Greek word baptizo.

Of course, volumes have been written on the meaning of baptizo, and I do not intend to add another volume. I will only point out that the vast majority of manuscripts of Mark 7:4 include the Greek word that is translated “dining couches” (table in the KJV/NKJV). That means that the Pharisees baptized their dining couches, a significant trick if baptizo means “to immerse” in this instance.

Of course, many translations simply drop dining couch, or demote it to a footnote stating that the most important manuscripts do not have it included. Let us be clear; there are thousands and thousands of copies of the Greek New Testament that have been passed down to us through the millenia telling us that the Pharisees baptized their dining couches. Relatively speaking, there are only a handful that do not have the word for dining couches. Even though the NIV and other translations choose to drop “dining couches” from their translations, it is included in the vast majority of the Greek manuscripts, and those who have compiled the Greek New Testament have always included it.

Actually, in one sense, it does not matter whether Mark himself actually used the word for dining couches or not. I believe he did, and that manuscript evidence supports that fact, but that really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that thousands of ancient Greek-speaking and ancient Greek-writing copyists did include the word in their manuscripts, and had no difficulty with the idea that the Pharisees baptized their dining couches, which the Pharisees most certainly did not do by immersion.

If you believe that baptizo only ever means immersion, this is where you will find out if you approach Scripture from a theological perspective, or a linguistic perspective. If you approach this passage from a theological perspective, you will be offended at the idea that dining couches could be included in this passage. So even though it is included in the vast majority of the Greek manuscripts, and even though the compilers of the Greek New Testament have consistently included it in all their versions and updates, you might be tempted to drop it so that you do not have to deal with the implications. If you approach this passage from a linguistic perspective, though you may be offended that the idea of dining couches being baptized, you will let the text speak to you. You will then be open to the conclusion that, at least in this one instance, baptizo might mean something other than immerse.

You now know into which category you fall.

On to our translation:

Mark 7:1-37
A Translation by Randal Cutter

7:1   At another time the Pharisees and some of the scribal scholars came from Jerusalem and gathered around him.

7:2   They saw some of Jesus’ disciples eating bread with ritually unclean hands, that is, with hands that had not been ritually washed.*

7:3   For the Pharisees and all the Jews did not eat unless they performed a ritual washing of their hands by making a fist,* clinging to the tradition of the elders.

7:4   In addition, when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they baptize themselves. They also cling to many other traditions that they have inherited, such as the baptizing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and dining couches.

7:5   The Pharisees and the scribal scholars questioned Jesus: “Why are your disciples not walking according to the tradition of the elders, but instead eat bread with ritually unclean hands?”

7:6   In response he said to them, “Isaiah prophesied accurately about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me.’

7:7   ‘They worship me without accomplishing anything, because they are teaching the commandments of men for their doctrines.’

7:8   “You have abandoned God’s command, and are clinging to the traditions of men.”

7:9   He also said to them, “You are good at overruling the commands of God in order to keep your traditions.”

7:10   “For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘The one mocking his father or mother spitefully should be put to death.’”

7:11   “But you say, ‘If a man says to father or mother, ‘Whatever financial support you might have received from me is Corban, that is, a gift for the temple treasury,’

7:12   “you no longer allow him to provide for his father or mother.”*

7:13   “You are invalidating the word of God by the traditions which you have handed down; you also do many other things just like this.”

7:14   When Jesus summoned the crowd again, he said to them, “Everyone, listen to me and understand!”

7:15   “There is nothing outside of a man that is able to defile him when it goes into him; but the things coming out of a man are able to defile him.”

7:16   “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”*

7:17   Later when they went into a house away from the crowd, his disciples questioned him about the parable.

7:18   He asked them, “Are you so without understanding? Do you not understand that everything that enters a man from the outside is not able to defile him?”

7:19   “It can’t defile him because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and then goes out of his body into the latrine.” Jesus said this, thus cleansing all foods.*

7:20   He also said, “The things that come out of a man defile the man.”

7:21   “For from within—from the heart of men—evil thoughts arise, also sexual immoralities, thefts, murders,”

7:22   “adulteries, lusts, wicked deeds, deceit, unrestrained sensuality, envy, slanders, arrogance, and willful ignorance.”*

7:23   “All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.”

7:24   Then Jesus left and went into the region of Tyre. He arrived at a house, but did not want anyone to know. However, he was not able to remain hidden;

7:25   in fact when a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him, she immediately came and fell at his feet.

7:26   But the woman was a Greek who was Syrophoenician by birth. She requested that he cast the demon out of her daughter.

7:27   He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not healthy to take the children’s food and feed it to the house dogs.”

7:28   But she responded and said to him, “Yes Lord, but the house dogs* eat the scraps of the children that fall under the table.”

7:29   He said to her, “On account of this answer, you may go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”

7:30   Then she went to her house and found the child collapsed upon the bed,* but the demon had left her.

7:31   Jesus again went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon, and then traveled along the Sea of Galilee to the middle of the region called the Decapolis.

7:32   The residents of the region brought a man to him who could not hear, and had difficulty speaking; and they begged Jesus to lay hands on him.

7:33   Jesus took the man from the crowd for privacy, placed his fingers into his ears, spit in his hand, and held the man’s tongue.*

7:34   He looked up to heaven, groaned, and said to the infirmities, “Ephphatha,” which means, “Open up!”*

7:35   Immediately the man’s hearing was opened up, the restriction on his tongue was removed, and he began to speak clearly.

7:36   Jesus gave them explicit instructions that they tell no one. But the more he instructed them, the more they spread the news,

7:37   because they were overwhelmed with astonishment; they were reporting, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

——————————————————————

7:2  Ritually unclean hands/ritually washed: There is no doubt from the context that the issue is the ceremonial washing that the Pharisees legalistically observed. I have translated this verse in a way that makes this obvious.

7:3  By making a fist: Literally “with a fist.” This refers to the practice of how they held their hands as they washed. Some translations simply drop the word “fist” because they feel it is an obscure reference. I have included it because it is in the Greek text, and I don’t believe that it is appropriate to edit out things simply because I might not understand them.

7:12  Jesus may be referring to a celebrated case where a man rashly vowed to dedicate all his money to the temple rather than helping his parents with it. The issue would be about what is more important, honoring father and mother with financial support or keeping a vow to God. The rabbis chose the vow. Jesus chose the honor since to do otherwise was to mock the relationship with father and mother.

7:16  This verse is skipped in some translations because of a bias toward the Alexandrian family of Greek manuscripts. As in the case of dining couches, the vast majority of Greek manuscripts have the verse. My rule of thumb is, when a version states that “the earliest and most reliable manuscripts” don’t have something, it probably should be included in the translation. When a translation uses that wording, it is a sign that it is submitting to an inappropriate bias toward a very limited number of manuscripts that some have chosen to call “the most reliable.” That is an opinion, and a tenuous one at best. But the NIV and the ESV have succumbed to it.

7:19  Cleansing all foods: Legalists (including all those who want to yoke Christians under the law again) would prefer that this verse wasn’t here. Remember that Mark was writing to Roman Gentile readers. They put all sorts of things they called “food” in their mouths. Jesus is clearly saying that if you can digest it, it is clean. He is not making some obscure point that the item has to first qualify as food under the terms of the Mosaic Code. That is not what the Greek word for food means, but modern day Christian legalists will often say something like  that simply because they never stop trying. You may continue to enjoy your pork chops without guilt. They are clean for those who are not under the Law of Moses. Of course, the people around Jesus in this incident were still under the Law. They not only would not have understood that Jesus was cleansing all food for the new covenant, Jesus had not yet instituted that covenant.

7:22  Willful Ignorance: In this section of Mark, Jesus refers to thinking, or not thinking, four different times. It is important that he includes willful ignorance in his list of negative things that come from the heart. Those who choose not to use their minds when they approach topics of importance are not being spiritual, they are manifesting a very negative trait.

7:28  House dogs: The word Jesus uses does not refer to the wild dogs that traveled in packs, but rather to puppies, or to a house dog. One of the points of this story is that this woman, through faith, recognized that Gentiles were in the house—and standing on that revelation, she stepped into great faith.

7:30  Collapsed upon the bed: The Greek text indicates that she was thrown there, probably as the demon left. At the time her mother found her, she was resting quietly.

7:33  Held the man’s tongue: The Greek word indicates a firm touch or grasp. I chose to translate it as Jesus holding the tongue to emphasize the firm contact. However, he may simply have been pressing down firmly. In any case, I’m sure the man was quite startled by the whole thing.

7:34  Note three reasons why I believe that the best understanding is that Jesus was speaking directly to the infirmity rather than to the man (the Greek could go either way): First, the man was deaf, so Jesus clearly wasn’t speaking to him. Second, since Jesus was in the region of the Decapolis (the ten Greek cities), this man most likely did not speak Aramaic, and would not have understood Jesus even if he could hear. Third, Jesus commanded, and the infirmity obeyed the command, showing us to whom or what Jesus was speaking.

——————————————————–

Subscription Notice: I have found that the most dependable way of notifying subscribers of a new post is through email. So I have added an email subscribe option below. Just add your email address and click subscribe (you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription—so check your spam folders if you don’t). You will receive an email alert whenever I publish an article. Your emails will be used for no other purpose.


 

Image credit: Randal Cutter/iPhone 6s/Photoshop Oil Paint Filter

A Translation of Mark Chapter 6

RomansText1Pay attention to this verse. It will give you some amazing keys for living: “Jesus could see his disciples being painfully tested as they rowed, because the wind was against them. Around the fourth watch of the night, he came near them walking upon the sea; he was intending to pass by them.” (Mark 6:48)

This verse contains so much raw understanding of how things really work, that we need to pay close attention. It will help you through difficult times.

After promising his disciples a quiet time away with him because they were so busy they could not even find time to eat, the disciples and Jesus head for parts unknown. However, the crowds see them, race along the shore, and actually get to the place of rest before Jesus and his disciples. Jesus and his team once again spends hours ministering to these crowds, and then Jesus has the disciples serve dinner to what probably amounted to about twenty thousand people. Then immediately, he compels them to get in their boat and head straight into a wind that makes their crossing of the lake the trip from hell. They had started before sunset. At 3:00 AM they were still rowing, and still had quite a distance to go. Can you imagine how tired and discouraged they were at this point? Yet when Jesus started for home walking on the water, he intended to walk right by them. We need to get our mind around this in order to understand how he works with us.

I translated the main verb in one of the sentences in verse 48, “Jesus could see his disciples being painfully tested.” I think that is a fair description. The Greek verb, baésanos, was originally used by inspectors of coins, then the word became a commercial term for checking calculations, later it was used figuratively for testing, and finally it came to signify putting to the test by torture (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament). While most of the translations I have seen capture the torturous struggle, they miss the testing part. At Jesus’ time the word could refer to torture, or it could refer to testing afflictions. Obviously, torture is bad, but testing afflictions can purify us and grow us in ways that help us.

While Jesus will not give us more than we can bear (see 1 Corinthians 10:13), he knows we can bear a lot more than we think we can. He will not short circuit the growth process when it can only help us. The disciples were undergoing a test. Jesus intended on letting the test continue for their benefit. He only changed his course when the circumstances changed. The disciples caught sight of Jesus, misunderstood what was happening, and were overwhelmed with fear. At that point Jesus intervened on their behalf so that they would not be undone.

I believe this story can strengthen our resolve when trials come upon us. No matter the source of the trial, or the intensity, when we strenuously work through it, it can have a beneficial purpose. It might even feel so difficult it can feel like torture—I can imagine the disciples were in that frame of mind—and yet the Lord knows the difference. He will allow the testing to accomplish its purposes, but he will also intervene if we become undone.

We should also note, that although Mark doesn’t reference it, Peter instantly recovered from his fear, and asked Jesus to invite him on to the water. Apart from Jesus, Peter was filled with fear. When he fixed his eyes on Jesus, he was able to walk on water with Jesus. Though he eventually relapsed into fear, his quick recovery is an amazing testimony of how quickly the people of God can move from fear to faith when Jesus is in the picture.

These are important keys of understanding from this section of Mark.

For your information, I have now caught up to where my congregation and I are as we study through (and translate) the book of Mark. I will post chapter seven when I finish teaching through it in several weeks.

Mark 6:1-56
A Translation by Randal Cutter

6:1   Then Jesus left that area, and went to his hometown; his disciples also accompanied him.

6:2   When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many of those who listened were overwhelmed with amazement. They began to ask, “Where did this man get these teachings? Where did he receive this wisdom? How are such miracles being done through his hands?”

6:3   “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? His brothers are also here among us, aren’t they?” So they were shocked and angered by him.

6:4   Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not usually despised except in his hometown, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”

6:5   As a result, he was not able to do any miracles there, except that he did place his hands on a few sick people and healed them.

6:6   He was amazed at their unbelief, so he went instead to the surrounding villages teaching them.

6:7   Later, he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two. He also gave them authority over unclean spirits.

6:8   He also commanded them, “Take nothing on the road except a single staff. Do not take any bread, nor a bag for provisions, nor money folded into your belts.”

6:9   “Of course you may wear sandals, but do not wear two tunics.”

6:10   He also said to them, “Remain at the location where you have been welcomed into a home until you depart from that town.”

6:11   “But the place that does not welcome you, and the people that do not listen to you, as you leave that town, shake the dust from under your feet as a witness to them.”

6:12   Then they went out and preached so that the people might repent.

6:13   They also cast out many demons, and they anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

6:14   At that time, “King” Herod* heard about Jesus, for his name had become well known. Some were also saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead,* and for this reason miraculous powers are working in him.”

6:15   But others were saying, “It is Elijah.” Still others were saying, “He is a prophet like one of the Prophets.”

6:16   However, when Herod heard, he said, “It is John, whom I beheaded. He has risen from the dead.”

6:17   Herod himself had sent men and arrested John, and bound him in prison. It was all because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom Herod had married.

6:18   For John had been saying to Herod, “It is against the Law for you to marry your brother’s wife.”*

6:19   Herodias was furious with John, and wanted to kill him; but was not able to do so

6:20   because Herod was afraid of John and was protecting him. He knew John was a righteous and holy man. He listened to him often, but was perplexed by him. Yet he enjoyed listening to him.

6:21   The perfect time to make an attempt on John’s life arrived on Herod’s birthday, when he put on a banquet for his nobles, military commanders, and the chief men of Galilee.

6:22   When the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she delighted Herod and those dining at the table with him. The “king” said to the teenage girl,* “Ask me whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.”

6:23   He swore emphatically to her, “Whatever you ask of me, I will give to you, even up to half my kingdom.”

6:24   She went out and asked her mother, “What shall I ask?” Her mother said, “Ask for the head of John the baptizer.”

6:25   She went to the “king” quickly and asked urgently, “I want you, without delay, to give me the head of John the baptizer on a serving tray.”

6:26   The “king” was filled with profound sorrow, but on account of the oaths and those dining at the table, he did not want to reject her request.

6:27   The “king” immediately sent a messenger and commanded the executioner to bring John’s head. Then the executioner went and beheaded John in the prison,

6:28   and brought his head upon a serving tray. He then gave it to the teenage girl, and the little girl gave it to her mother.

6:29   When John’s disciples heard, they came and carried his body away, and placed it in a tomb.

6:30   After their mission, the apostles gathered around Jesus and reported everything they had done and taught to him.

6:31   At that time he said to them, “Come by yourselves to an uninhabited place and rest alone for a little while.” He said this because so many were coming and going that they could not even find time to eat.

6:32   Then they went in the boat to an uninhabited place by themselves.

6:33   But the crowds saw them as they left, and many recognized them. People from all the cities ran together on foot to the uninhabited area, and they arrived before Jesus and the disciples.

6:34   When they arrived, Jesus saw the large crowd and felt compassion for them, because they were like sheep who did not have a shepherd; so he began to teach them many things.

6:35   When many hours had gone by, Jesus’ disciples came to him and said, “The place is remote, and many hours have already passed.”

6:36   “Send the people away so that they can go to the countryside and the surrounding villages, and buy something to eat for themselves.”

6:37   But he responded to them, “You give them something to eat.” They asked him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii* worth of bread and give it to them to eat?”

6:38   He questioned them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found out they said, “Five loaves and two fish.”

6:39   Then he commanded them all to sit as if arranged for a banquet in rows upon the green grass.*

6:40   They sat down in orderly groups of hundreds and fifties.

6:41   At that point, Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven he pronounced a blessing and broke the bread into pieces. Then he gave it to his disciples in order that they might serve it to the people, and he shared the two fish with everyone

6:42   so that they all ate as much as they wanted.

6:43   They also carried away twelve baskets of leftover pieces of bread, along with the fish.

6:44   Those who ate the bread numbered about five thousand men.

6:45   As soon as the meal was finished, Jesus forced his disciples to get in the boat and journey across the sea to Bethsaida, while he personally sent the crowd away.

6:46   After he sent everyone away, he went up a mountain to pray.

6:47   By the time the sun had set, the boat was in the middle of the sea while Jesus was alone on the land.

6:48   Jesus could see his disciples being painfully tested as they rowed,* because the wind was against them. Around the fourth watch of the night, he came near them walking upon the sea; he was intending to pass by them.

6:49   When they saw him walking upon the sea, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a phantom;

6:50   they all saw him and were trembling with fear. But he quickly responded and said to them, “Take courage, it is I; stop being afraid.”

6:51   He went to them in the boat, and the wind stopped. They were utterly overwhelmed with amazement,

6:52   for they did not understand about the loaves; their hearts had become insensitive.

6:53   They crossed over and came to shore near Gennesaret, and they anchored the boat.

6:54   When they disembarked from the boat, the people of the region immediately recognized him,

6:55   and they rushed throughout that entire region spreading the news. Then they began to carry the afflicted around on stretchers wherever they heard that he was.

6:56   Wherever he went, whether it was in a village, a city, or in the countryside, the residents would place those who were sick in the marketplace, and beg him to let them touch the hem of his garment. All those who were sick, who touched him, were healed of their illness.*

——————————————————————

6:14  “King” Herod: Herod never attained the rank of king; he was only a tetrarch. In fact, when he attempted to get the title of king in 39 A.D., Caligula banished him. This was a well-known story in Rome. Since Mark wrote to the Romans, he knew he could call Herod king, and the Romans would get the message about the self-important and pompous ambitions of this man.

6:14   John the Baptizer: The word translated “Baptizer” is a participle, which is verbal in nature. Rather than making the word into the static noun “Baptist,” I have chosen, for variety’s sake, to maintain some connection to the verbal action. However, the word “Baptist” is also a quite acceptable translation of the Greek participle.

6:18   For John had been saying: The Greek verb form used has the idea of repeated or continuous action. John hadn’t said this only once. It was a repeat message he probably delivered every time he had the opportunity.

6:18   It is against the Law: Note that I capitalized Law. John was concerned with the Law of Moses, which Herod should have honored by following.

6:22   The king said to the teenage girl: The Greek word, used repeatedly throughout this section, is the same word Jesus used when he said, “Little girl, I say to you, rise up.” This is a very young teenager, at best, who is exciting Herod’s lusts. The same word is used twice in verse 28 (for emphasis I translate it once as teenager, and once as little girl), again to emphasize how young she was as she carried out her horrific role in this grisly drama.

6:37   Two hundred denarii: A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer or soldier. Since the average work year is three hundred days, the NIV’s translation of “eight month’s wages” is as good as any. However, I chose to retain the name of the Roman coinage for consistency as I translate.

6:39   Arranged for a banquet: The word used in this verse reflects getting into position to eat. In the next verse the word used to describe the order of the people doesn’t have anything to do with food, but rather describes the appearance of a neatly arranged garden bed.

6:48   Being painfully tested: The Greek word that I translate “painfully tested” often means torture. However, it can also refer to a strenuous test. The disciples were in the midst of a spiritual test. This helps explain why Jesus intended to pass by them. They were supposed to pass this test on their own, and only their terror over his presence changed his course.

6:56   Touch the hem of his garment: Obviously, the story of the woman healed of the flow of blood had spread far and wide.

——————————————————–

Subscription Notice: I have found that the most dependable way of notifying subscribers of a new post is through email. So I have added an email subscribe option below. Just add your email address and click subscribe (you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription—so check your spam folders if you don’t). You will receive an email alert whenever I publish an article. Your emails will be used for no other purpose.


 

Image credit: Randal Cutter/iPhone 6s/Photoshop Oil Paint Filter

A Translation of Mark Chapter 5

RomansText1“But while Jesus was entering the boat, the man who had been demonized begged him that he might stay with him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go to your home, to your family and friends, and report to them everything the Lord has done for you; and tell them that he had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:18-19)

I am an ardent proponent of education, especially for those who are going to be teachers of the Word. I, like the apostle Paul, encourage anyone who has to step up in front of a group of people on a Sunday morning to handle the Word correctly (see 2 Timothy 2:15). That means that we have to understand what the original author (the Holy Spirit) intended to communicate using the gifts of the original writer. We can only do that as we study the Word, and become more competent with it.

Obviously, for this reason, I also believe that if one is called to be a teacher, one should learn the original languages of the Bible. One of the reasons I am choosing to publish these translations, is to spark that desire in some of this blog’s readers. Knowing the original languages can help you delve into things that you will never see when you are at the mercy of translations or commentaries. You will become a better teacher when you can confidently access the language of the original writer.

But having said that, I am not a preaching snob. I don’t think you have to know the original languages to be a great preacher as a prophet, apostle, evangelist, or pastor. I know preachers who don’t know a shred of Greek or Hebrew who can preach so eloquently and powerfully that I feel like a beginner in the art of communication compared to them. I love to watch God pour through such gifted individuals.

That brings me to the man mentioned in the verses at the start of this article. He was the first man that Jesus commissioned as a missionary to the Gentiles. Paul wasn’t the first missionary commissioned to go to the Gentiles; it was the Gentile man whom Legion had possessed. Jesus commissioned him to go to his family and friends in the Gentile region of the Decapolis, and to explain how he had been changed. Only hours before, he had been a poor demonized soul that no one was able to control, but then Jesus freed him and spent several hours instructing him about the ways of God. In that short time span he had become a missionary of the gospel of the Kingdom. That is an amazing transformation, and it reminds us all that it isn’t the amount of education that we have that makes us into useful tools in God’s hands, it is our experience of his grace.

There is no doubt, that with time, the man acquired more knowledge and insight that he could share about God (I might point out that he already knew Greek), however, Jesus sent him out as a missionary based upon the testimony of God’s grace in his life. That qualified him for his mission, as it qualifies us for ours.

So while I love working with the original languages, I understand that it is only the experience of God’s grace that truly qualifies any of us for the role he has called us to play in his Kingdom. And I might add, that if you are called to be a teacher, his grace will make learning Greek and/or Hebrew fun . . . eventually.

Mark 5:1-43
A Translation by Randal Cutter

5:1   Then they came to the other side of the sea near the region of the Gerasenes, where Gentiles lived.*

5:2   When he had traveled away from the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came quickly out from the tombs to meet him.

5:3   This man made his shelter among the tombs because it was no longer possible to bind him, even when they used chains.

5:4   For he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he tore the chains apart and smashed the shackles; no one was strong enough to restrain him.

5:5   As a result, night and day he continually cried out among the tombs and in the hills, even cutting himself with sharp stones.

5:6   When he saw Jesus from a distance away, he ran and threw himself down before him.

5:7   He cried out with a deafening shriek, and then he said, “Why are you harassing me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! Swear by God that you will not torture me!”

5:8   For Jesus had been commanding him, “You unclean spirit, come out from the man!”

5:9   Jesus also kept asking him, “What is your name?” Finally the man answered him, “My name is Legion, because we are many.”

5:10  He continued to beg Jesus with increasing urgency, hoping that he would not send them out of the region.

5:11   It so happened that in that place a large heard of pigs was grazing near a hillside.

5:12   So the spirits begged him saying, “Send us into the pigs, in order that we might enter them.”

5:13   Then he permitted them. After the unclean spirits came out, they entered into the pigs, and the herd rushed headlong down the hill into the sea. There were about two thousand of them, and they all drowned in the sea.

5:14   Those who were feeding the pigs fled, and carried the news into the city and throughout the countryside. As a result, the residents came to see what had happened.

5:15   So they approached Jesus, and they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons sitting clothed and in his right mind. Then they were afraid.

5:16   Those who had been watching, carefully explained what had happened to the demonized man, and also about the pigs.

5:17   In response, they began to beg him to depart from their territory.

5:18   But while Jesus was entering the boat, the man who had been demonized begged him that he might stay with him.

5:19   However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go to your home, to your family and friends, and report to them everything the Lord has done for you; and tell them that he had mercy on you.”

5:20   Then the man went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis* everything Jesus had done for him, and everyone was astonished.

5:21   After Jesus crossed over in the boat again to the other side, a large crowd gathered together around him. So he stayed beside the sea.

5:22   It wasn’t long before Jairus, one of the officers of the synagogue, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet

5:23   and begged him earnestly saying, “My young daughter is near death. I beg you to come so that you might lay your hands upon her that she might be healed and live.”

5:24   Then Jesus went with him. But the large crowd kept following him, and crushed against him on every side.

5:25   There was a woman behind Jesus who had suffered from an unusual flow of blood for twelve years.

5:26   She had endured much under the care of many physicians, and had exhausted all of her savings without receiving any benefit. In fact, she only grew worse.

5:27   When she heard about Jesus, she came up from behind him and touched his clothing.

5:28   For she thought to herself, “Even if I only touch his clothes, I will be delivered.”

5:29   Her flow of blood dried up at once, and she felt in her body that she was healed from the affliction.

5:30   At that very moment, Jesus stopped and turned to the crowd following him and said, “Who touched my clothes?” For he felt in his body that power had gone out from him.

5:31   Then his disciples responded to him, “You see the crowd crushing all around you, yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

5:32   But he continued to look around to see who had done it.

5:33   Finally the woman, shaking with fear, came and fell before him. She knew what had happened to her, and revealed the whole truth to him.*

5:34   Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace, be whole and leave your affliction behind.”

5:35   While he was still speaking, messengers came from the family of the synagogue officer saying, “Your daughter has died. Why continue to trouble the teacher?”

5:36   But Jesus ignored the report and said to the synagogue officer, “Do not fear, only trust.”

5:37   At that time he did not permit anyone to accompany him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James.

5:38   Then they came to the house of the synagogue officer. Jesus saw the uproar, as well as the paid mourners* who were loudly weeping and wailing,

5:39   and he entered the house and said to them, “Why are you so distressed, and why are you weeping? The child has not died, but she is sleeping.”

5:40   But they began to laugh scornfully at him. Then Jesus himself cast them* all out of the house. He took the child’s father and mother and those he brought with him, and he went into where the child was.

5:41   Jesus held the child’s hand, and said to her, “Talitha koum!” Which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, ‘Stand up!’”

5:42   Immediately the little girl arose and walked about as if nothing had happened, for she was only twelve years old.* Those who saw it were instantly overwhelmed with astonishment.

5:43   Then Jesus instructed them repeatedly that no one should be told about it;* he also suggested that they give her something to eat.

——————————————————————

5:1   Where Gentiles Lived: The italics remind you that this phrase is not in the original text. I added it so that modern readers would understand what Mark’s first readers already understood. This area and the Decapolis was a region of ten Greek cities populated mostly by Gentiles. This helps us understand why there was a herd of pigs on the hillside.

5:20 The Decapolis: This means “the ten cities.” These were ten cities, populated mostly by Gentiles, where the first language was Greek. This was the first missionary Jesus sent to the Gentiles.

5:33 Revealed the whole truth: The whole truth included the fact that she was ceremonially unclean, and that anyone she touched was unclean, and that by touching the teacher, she had made him unclean (potentially disqualifying him from helping Jairus’ daughter until he had bathed and the sun had set). She was shaking with fear because she expected Jesus and the crowd to turn on her for her impudence, and for making them unclean.

5:38 The paid mourners: The Greek text literally reads, “those who were weeping and wailing.” However, everyone who read this in Mark’s time understood that the reference was to the paid mourners and minstrels who were hired to lament the death of a loved one. Since Jairus was an important official, his stewards would have made arrangements for quite a number of these professional mourners, and it would have been quite a cacophony.

5:40 Jesus himself cast them: There are two things to note here. The first is that Mark makes certain that we understand, through emphasis, that Jesus himself was the one who drove the professional mourners and the other skeptics away. The second is that Mark chose to use the same word as when Jesus cast out demons. I have translated it in a way that preserves Mark’s choice to portray these folks as a demonic horde that needed to be cast out.

5:42 As if nothing had happened, for she was only twelve years old: Mark adds a reason (“for she was only twelve years old”) without specifically stating what had happened that he felt needed explaining. I have added the reason that is evident in the context, however, of course it is in italics since it is not in the Greek text.

5:43 Then he repeatedly instructed them: Jesus knew what every fiber in Jairus’ being would soon be longing to do. Jairus was a synagogue ruler. That is quite a pulpit from which to broadcast these events. Jesus was making certain Jairus did not proclaim the intimacy of these events from his pulpit, something any preacher or teacher would most naturally do.

——————————————————–

Subscription Notice: I have found that the most dependable way of notifying subscribers of a new post is through email. So I have added an email subscribe option below. Just add your email address and click subscribe (you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription—so check your spam folders if you don’t). You will receive an email alert whenever I publish an article. Your emails will be used for no other purpose.


 

Image credit: Randal Cutter/iPhone 6s/Photoshop Oil Paint Filter