PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|The Tradition of the Elders||Defilement Comes from Within||Tradition of the Elders||The Teachings of the Ancestors||The Traditions of the Pharisees|
|The Things that Make a Person Unclean||On Clean and Unclean|
|The Syrophoenician Woman||A Gentile Shows Her Faith||The Syrophoenician Woman||A Woman's Faith||The Daughter of the Syro-Phoenician Woman Healed|
|A Deaf and Dumb Man Healed||Jesus Heals a Deaf Mute||Healings||Jesus Heals a Deaf-Mute||Healing of the Deaf Man|
READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five modern translations. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one main subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
SYNOPTIC GOSPEL PARALLELS
A. Mark 7:1-23 is paralleled in Matt. 15:1-20
B. Mark 7:24-30 is paralleled in Matt. 15:21-28
C. Mark 7:31-8:9 is paralleled in Matt. 15:29-38
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MARK 7:1-8
1The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, 2and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. 3(For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) 5The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?" 6And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
'This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
7'But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'
8Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men."
7:1 "Pharisees" These were the most sincere religionists of their day. Culturally they were the best of the best. Jesus' conversations with them are recorded often (cf. Mark 7:5-8; 11:27-33; 12:13-17). See fuller note at Mark 2:6.
▣ "some of the scribes. . .had come from Jerusalem" The religious leaders were always following Him to find fault (cf. Mark 3:22; John 1:19). They apparently were an official fact-finding committee from the Sanhedrin (see Special Topic at Mark 12:13) of Jerusalem. The Sanhedrin was made up of 70 persons from
1. ruling priestly families (i.e., Sadducees, see Special Topic at Mark 12:18)
2. local religious leaders (i.e., Pharisees)
3. local wealthy land owners
7:2 "impure hands, that is, unwashed" This was not hygienic, but religious (cf. Mark 7:4). Ceremonial purity was a very serious matter to them (cf. Luke 11:38; Matt. 15:2). It was spelled out in specific terms in the Talmud. The controversy was over the Oral Traditions, which interpreted OT texts.
▣ "impure" This is the Greek term koinos, which means "common" or "available to all." It is the name moderns give to the common Greek of Jesus' day. The Latin term "vulgate" has the same connotation (i.e., available to all). In this context it refers to that which is ceremonially unclean because of its contact with other unclean things.
NASB"unless they carefully wash their hands"
NKJV"unless they wash their hands in a special way"
NRSV"unless they thoroughly wash their hands"
TEV"unless they wash their hands in the proper way"
NJB"without washing their arms as far as the elbow"
There is a Greek manuscript variation in this phrase. The most unusual reading is pugmē, which means "fist," found in the ancient uncial manuscripts A, B, and L, while pukna, meaning "frequently," is found in א, W, and the Vulgate and Peshitta. Some ancient texts just omit the parenthesis of Mark 7:3-4 (i.e., ninth century manuscript 037, known by the Greek capital letter delta, and some Coptic and Syriac translations and the Diatessaron). The UBS4 gives option #1 ans "A" rating (certain).
It is possible that this difficult Greek term reflects a Greek translation of an Aramaic phrase "unless they wash their hands in a (special) jug" (cf. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Gerhard Friedrich and Geoffrey W. Broomiley, vol. 6, p. 916). The Pharisees took the OT requirement for priests on duty in the Temple and expanded them to all "true" Jews every day. They were adding to the Law of Moses.
Another option would be to take it as a rabbinical method of washing one's hands and arms with a closed fist, but this is not substantiated by any written rabbinical tradition, unless it refers to the concept of catching the water poured over the elbows (with the hands down) with an open cupped hand so that it could be rubbed on the elbow again.
The term "wash" (niptō, cf. Matt. 15:2) was usually used to refer to washing part of the body and not to a complete bath (i.e., louō, cf. John 13:10).
▣ "observing the traditions of the elders" These traditions (cf. Gal. 1:14) were codified in the Talmud (i.e., Mishna). There are two editions of these rabbinical traditions. The more complete one is from Babylon Talmud and the unfinished one is from Palestine. The modern study of this literature has been hampered because no one is sure when these discussions were originally spoken or recorded. Two later rabbinical schools of interpretation developed, one conservative (i.e., Shammai) and one liberal (i.e., Hillel). All issues are debated based on these rabbinical discussions. The rabbis would quote their predecessors as authoritative.
7:4 "unless they cleanse themselves" The Jews expanded the laws relating to the priest entering the tabernacle to include all Jews (cf. Exod. 30:19). These regulations relate to ceremonial cleanliness. They had developed over a long period of time by inference and extrapolation from Levitical rules.
There is a Greek manuscript variant in this phrase. Some Greek texts have:
1. aorist middle subjunctive of baptizō (i.e., MSS A, D, W as well as the Vulgate and Syriac translations)
2. present passive indicative of baptizō (i.e., MSS F, L)
3. aorist middle subjunctive of rantizō "to sprinkle" (i.e., MSS א, B and the Coptic translation). Most modern translations go with option #1. Early scribes may have inserted #3 because baptizō had become a technical term for Christian baptism.
The UBS4 gives #1 a "B" rating (almost certain).
NASB"and copper pots"
NKJV"copper vessels and couches"
TEV"copper bowls and beds"
This term "pots" is a Latin term. Mark uses more Latin words than any other NT book. This may reflect its being written in Rome for Romans.
There is a Greek textual variant which adds klinōn (i.e., beds or couches) in manuscripts A, D, and W, while P45, א, B, and L omit it. Possibly scribes, knowing Leviticus 15, added the phrase, or later scribes, unfamiliar with the OT text, thought it out of place and deleted it. Speculation is interesting, but theologically insignificant.
7:5 "asked Him" This is an imperfect tense which implies that they asked Him over and over again or else began to ask Him.
▣ "not walk according to the tradition of the elders" This was a serious religious matter for them. There is even a recorded incident in Jewish literature of a rabbi being excommunicated for failure to properly wash his hands. The Talmud, which recorded their rabbinical discussions on how to understand and implement OT texts, had become "the authority."
7:6 "'Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you'" Jesus believed that historically particular OT texts from Isaiah's day related to this generation of Pharisees seven hundred years later. This shows the relevance of the Scripture to each new generation. God's truths are affected by culture, but they also transcend time and culture! Jesus quotes Isa. 29:13.
▣ "hypocrites" This is a compound from two words "under" and "to judge." It was a term used to describe actors playing a part behind a mask. Jesus accuses them of over zealousness on some issues, but total depreciation of others (cf. Isa. 29:13; Col. 2:16-23). It is not by accident that "hypocrites" and hand washing appear together in Ps. 26:4 and 6!
▣ "as it is written" This is perfect tense meaning "it stands written." This was a standard Jewish idiom for referring to inspired Scripture (cf. Mark 9:12-13; 11:17; Matt. 4:4,7,10). The quote is from the Septuagint of Isa. 29:13, which describes human self-righteousness. Jesus gives an example of this in Mark 7:9-19 and in the parallel of Matt. 15:4-6.
▣ "'heart'" For the Jews this was the center of mental activity, therefore, the basis of action. They used religious ritual as a means of gaining acceptance with God. Their traditions had become ultimate! This is always a danger with religious people. See Special Topic at Mark 2:6.
▣ "'is far away'" This means "to hold at a distance." Religious practices are often used to circumvent total dedication to God. Often religion is a barrier, not a bridge, to God.
7:7 What a devastating condemnation of religious hypocrisy and formalism.
7:8 "neglecting" This means "to send away" (i.e., God's commandment) and is in direct contrast to "hold," which means "to grab," "to grasp," or "to cling to" the traditions.
▣ "the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men" The issue is revelation (OT) versus tradition (Talmud). This is an issue for every person in every culture (or denomination). Religious authority is a crucial issue!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MARK 7:9-13
9 He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death'; 11but you say, 'If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),' 12you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that."
NASB"You are experts at setting aside"
NKJV"All too well you reject"
NRSV"You have a fine way of rejecting"
TEV"You have a clever way of rejecting"
NJB"How ingeniously you get around"
This is cutting sarcasm, much like John 3:10.
7:10 "Moses said" The parallel of Matt. 15:4 has, "God said." This shows God's inspiration behind Moses' words.
▣ "'honor'" This is a quote from the Ten Commandments recorded in Exod. 20:12 and repeated in Deut. 5:16. It is from a Hebrew commercial word "to give due weight to" (BDB 457), which means to recognize the worth of something.
7:11 "if" This is a third class conditional sentence, which speaks of potential action. Jesus is referring to contemporary ways of circumventing God's Law (cf. Mark 7:12).
▣ "'your father and your mother'" This shows the required respect for both parents.
▣ "'he who speaks evil of father or mother'" This is a quote from Exodus 21:17. Dishonor brought severe judgment. The rabbis had set this verse aside by means of their traditions.
▣ "'Corban'" This was a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew (not Aramaic) "gift" given to God (i.e., or to the Temple, cf. NKJV). Jesus shows one example of how the Jewish religionists of His day circumvented the intent and stated laws of the OT by their Oral Traditions. They had devised many loopholes in their Oral Traditions (cf. Matt. 5:33-34; 23:16-22).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MARK 7:14-16
14After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, "Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16[If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."]
7:14 "He called the crowd to Him again" Jesus publicly exposed the hypocrisy of the scribes and their traditions.
The NKJV has the term panta (i.e., all) instead of palin (i.e., again).
▣ "'Listen. . .understand'" These are both aorist active imperatives. This phrase introduces an important and shocking example.
7:15 This is a classical example of Jesus reinterpreting the OT (cf. Matt. 5:17-48). He is nullifying the food code of Lev. 11. This was a powerful way of asserting His authority (i.e., He could change or negate the OT, but not them). This also should be a word of warning to those who make a religious matter out of food and drink (cf. Rom. 14:13-23; 1 Cor. 8:1-13; 10:23-33). Jesus' words reveal the distinctive freedom of the New Covenant (cf. Rom.14:1-15:13; 1 Cor. 8-10).
7:16 This verse was included in many Greek uncial manuscripts (A, D, K, W, θ), the Diatessaron, and the Greek texts used by Augustine (cf. NKJV and NJB). However, it was omitted in MSS א, B, and L. It was possibly a scribal addition from Mark 4:9 or 23. The NASB (1995 Update) includes it in brackets to show that there is some doubt that it is original. The USB4 rates its omission as "A" (certain).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MARK 7:17-23
17When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18And He said to them, "Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?" (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20And He was saying, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man."
7:17 "His disciples questioned Him" Matthew 15:15 says Peter. Jesus' words were so shocking to these Jews of the first century! Jesus was cancelling Moses! Who was this unofficial rabbi claiming to be?
7:18 "'Are you so lacking in understanding also'" Jesus marveled at the disciples' slowness to comprehend. His message was so different from what they had heard all their lives (i.e., Pharisaic theology). Tradition is hard to correct (cf. Mark 4:13,40; 6:52; 8:21). Trusting Jesus as the promised Messiah meant a radical break with their cherished traditions and cultural expectations. The "Living Word" supercedes the "written word"! Believers worship Jesus, not the Bible.
Usually commentators say that Jesus rejected the oral tradition of the Jews, but always affirmed the OT laws. However, this rejection of the food laws and His rejection of Moses' teaching on divorce in Matt. 5:31-32 (cf. Mark 10:2-12) clearly shows that Jesus saw Himself as the proper interpreter and even Lord over the OT (cf. Matt. 5:38-39). He is God's ultimate revelation. None of us who cherish the Bible feel comfortable with this. We see the Bible as authoritative and relevant. However, how many other OT texts did Jesus see as not clearly revealing the Father's intent? This not only shocked the scribes, to an extent it shocks me! It reminds me that the OT is not mandatory for NT believers (cf. Acts 15; Galatians 3). It surely is Scripture and it surely reveals God, but I am not bound by its rituals or procedures (cf. Acts 15:6-11,19). I am bound by its world view and revelation of God and His purposes and promises (cf. Matt. 5:17-20)!
NASB, NRSV"(Thus He declared all foods clean)"
NKJV"thuspurifying all foods"
TEV"(. . .Jesus declared that all foods are fit to be eaten)"
NJB"(Thus he pronounced all food clean)"
The parentheses reflect the translators' view that it is an editorial comment (probably from Peter's experience in Acts 10). It is such an important NT truth (cf. Rom. 14:13-23; 1 Cor. 8:1-13; 10:23-33). Humans are not right with God based on what they eat or do not eat! The new covenant is not based on OT regulations (i.e., Leviticus 11; Acts 15). God looks at the heart, not the stomach!
7:20 The OT rabbis said that the mind was a fertile, prepared seed bed and that the eyes and ears are the windows of the soul. Whatever one allows to enter, takes root. Sin begins in the thought life and develops into actions. Human speech reveals the heart!
7:21 "out of the heart of men" Jesus lists a series of sinful attitudes and actions. These same types of sins were condemned by the Stoics. Paul also has several lists of sins like this one (cf. Rom. 1:29-31; 1 Cor. 5:11; 6:9; 2 Cor. 12:20; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 4:31; 5:3-4; Col. 3:5-9; 2 Tim. 3:2-5). See SPECIAL TOPIC: VICES AND VIRTUES at 1 Peter 4:2.
▣ "fornications" The English word "pornography" shares the same root word as this Greek term. It meant any inappropriate sexual activity: premarital sex, homosexuality, bestiality, and even a refusal of Levirate responsibilities (a brother failing to sexually relate to the widow of a deceased brother in order to provide an heir).
In the OT there was a distinction between marital infidelity (adultery) and pre-marital promiscuity (fornication). However, this distinction is lost by the NT period.
▣ "murder. . .deeds of coveting. . .deceit. . .pride" These same terms describe the pagan world in Rom. 1:29-31. They show a heart out of control, a heart bent on "more for self at any cost."
▣ "adulteries" This is the word moicheia, which refers to extra-marital sexual relations (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-10). It came to be used metaphorically for idolatry. In the OT YHWH was the husband and Israel was the wife; therefore, going after other gods was a form of infidelity.
▣ "sensuality" This is used in Rom. 13:13 to show how believers should not live. In Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, vol. 1, p. 771, Louw and Nida define this term as "behavior completely lacking in moral restraint, usually with the implication of sexual licentiousness." Notice how many of these terms imply an uncontrolled sexuality, so characteristic of pagan culture of the first century.
7:22 The order of this list of sins changes from translation to translation. In summary, life apart from God is out of bounds! Paul's list in Gal. 5:19-21 describes the evil and the list in Gal. 5:22-23 describes the godly.
NKJV"an evil age"
This is literally "an evil eye" (cf. NASB marginal note). In the Near East people were very conscious of someone putting a hex on them (i.e., active evil). In Hebrew it has the connotation of self-centered jealousy (cf. Deut. 15:9; Prov. 23:6).
The term is literally "blasphemy," which denoted saying something about someone that was not true. It can be used of slander or falsehoods about God or humans (cf. Acts 6:11; Rom. 2:24).
▣ "pride" This refers to a haughty, contemptuous, or proud person (cf. Luke 1:51; Rom. 1:30; 2 Tim. 3:2; James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5).
7:23 The parallel in Matt. 15:20 summarizes the whole argument (cf. 1 Sam. 16:7).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MARK 7:24-30
24Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice. 25But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27And He was saying to her, "Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." 28But she answered and said to Him, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children's crumbs." 29And He said to her, "Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter." 30And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.
7:24 "Tyre" This is northwest of the Sea of Galilee, out of the boundaries of the OT Promised Land. It was predominately a Gentile area. The phrase "and Sidon" is missing in a few ancient Greek manuscripts, such as D, L, and W, but is present in Matt. 15:21 and Mark 7:31 and in manuscripts א, A, and B, as well as the Vulgate and Peshitta.
▣ "yet He could not escape notice" This was the result of His miracles (cf. Mark 3:8). Even in a predominately Gentile area He could find no rest and private time with His disciples.
7:25 "little daughter had an unclean spirit" How children become demon possessed is not stated here nor in the account in Mark 9:17-29. In neither of these cases does it seem to be a familial spirit (i.e., demon passed from generation to generation within a family). See Special Topic: Exorcism at Mark 1:25.
▣ "fell at His feet" This was a cultural sign of (1) asking a request of a superior or (2) humility. It is possible that she had heard of Jesus' miracles and, out of desperation, approached this Jewish rabbi in fear!
7:26 "a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race" Remember, Jesus helped other Gentiles (cf. Mark 5:1; 11:17; Matt. 8:5-13; John 4), but within the geographical boundaries of the Promised Land. If Jesus had begun a healing ministry in a Gentile land, He would have been rejected by the Jewish populace because of their prejudices.
There is an interesting parallel between Jesus' ministry to a Phoenician woman and Elijah's ministry to a Phoenician woman in 1 Kgs. 17. In both God's love, concern, and help are available to the hated Gentiles. This may have been another veiled evidence of His Messiahship.
In what language was this interchange between the woman and Jesus conducted? It would seem obvious that it had to have been Greek. Growing up in northern Palestine Jesus would have been tri-lingual. In Luke 4:16-20 Jesus reads from a Hebrew scroll of Isaiah. He would have been exposed to biblical Hebrew at synagogue school. He normally spoke Aramaic. He could speak Koine Greek (i.e., the private conversation with Pilate).
▣ "she kept asking" This is an imperfect tense. She asked repeatedly!
▣ "to cast the demon out" This is aorist active subjunctive. She still had some doubts about Jesus' ability or willingness to act, which is expressed by the subjunctive mood.
7:27 "the children" This familial term refers to Israel (cf. Matt. 15:24).
NKJV, NJB"little dogs"
This is the only use of this term in the NT. Its harshness is diminished by the fact that it is diminutive in form (i.e., kunarion), "puppies" (NJB has "house-dogs"). The Jews called the Gentiles "dogs" as a term of derision. This dialogue was intended to help the disciples overcome their prejudice against Gentiles (cf. Matt. 15:23). Jesus recognized and publicly affirmed that her faith was great (cf. Matt. 15:28).
7:28 "'Lord'" This is probably used in the cultural sense of "sir" or "mister," as in John 4:11. This is surprisingly the only example of the use of kurios spoken to Jesus in Mark's Gospel.
▣ "the children's" This is literally "little children" (paidion). There are several diminutive forms found in this context. In Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. 1, p. 326, A. T. Robertson says "the little children purposely dropped a few little crumbs for the dog." One wishes that Jesus' voice inflection, facial expressions, and body language could have been recorded. I think the encounter was much more positive than mere words can record.
▣ "children's crumbs" The wealthy used bread to wipe the hands after eating, like a napkin.
7:29 "'Because of this answer'" Jesus was impressed with this mother's attitude of persistence and faith (cf. Matt. 15:28). Jesus healed/delivered people based on the faith of another several times (cf. Mark 2:3-12; 9:14-29; Matt. 8:5-13).
▣ "go; the demon has gone out of your daughter" This woman believed Jesus that He could expel the demons even from a distance with no ritual or magic.
7:29,30 "has gone" In Mark 7:29 it is a perfect active indicative and in Mark 7:30 it is a perfect active participle, which focus on the abiding result of a past act. The demon was gone and would stay away.
7:30 "lying on the bed" This is a perfect passive participle which could be understood in two ways: (1) the demon had violently left (cf. Mark 1:26; 9:26) and thrown the little girl on the bed or (2) her demoniac condition had caused her to be bedridden.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MARK 7:31-37
31Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. 32They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him. 33Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; 34and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, "Ephphatha!" that is, "Be opened!" 35And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. 36And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. 37They were utterly astonished, saying, "He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."
7:31 This geographical description is unusual. Sidon was north of Tyre on the coast, while the Decapolis was south and east of the Sea of Galilee. The NKJV has "departing from the region of Tyre and Sidon," but this translation is not supported by P45, A, W, and the Peshitta. Most textual critics support the more difficult text which takes Jesus north and east before going south.
▣ "Sea of Galilee" This same body of water is called (1) Chennereth in the OT; (2) Lake of Gennesaret in Luke 5:1; and (3) Sea of Tiberias during the first century Roman period in John 6:1; 21:1.
▣ "region of Decapolis" This was the area of the Gedarene Demoniac (cf. Mark 5:1-20). It was also a Gentile area to the east and south of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus' ministry in these areas shows His love for the Gentiles.
7:32 "was deaf and spoke with difficulty" This term is used only here in the NT and in the Septuagint in Isa. 35:6. Verse 37 may relate to Isa. 35:5-6, which describes the future healing ministry of the Messiah.
▣ "to lay His hand on him" See Special Topic following.
7:33 "took him aside from the crowd" This was both to stop the stories about His healing and to make the man feel more at ease (cf. Mark 8:23).
▣ "put His fingers into his ears" Jesus was communicating to the man what He was trying to do in culturally acceptable physical gestures (i.e., a finger in the ear and saliva on the tongue).
▣ "He touched his tongue with the saliva" Saliva was commonly used medicinally in the first century Mediterranean world. It was meant to increase the man's faith.
7:34 "and looking up to heaven" This was the standard physical posture for Jewish prayer in Jesus' day (i.e., standing, eyes open, head raised, hands raised).
▣ "with a deep sigh" This refers to an inarticulate sound that expresses strong emotion (cf. Rom. 4; 8:22-23; 2 Cor. 5:12). Whether it is positive (cf. Mark 7:34; Rom. 8:26) or negative (cf. Acts 7:34; James 5:9) depends on the literary context. This may have revealed Jesus' grief over sin and sickness in a world devastated by rebellion. A compound form of this term appears in Mark 8:12.
▣ "Ephphatha" This is an Aramaic aorist passive imperative, meaning "be opened" (and they were, cf. Mark 7:35). Peter remembered the very Aramaic words which Jesus spoke and Mark translated it into Greek for his Gentile (i.e., Roman) readers. See note at Mark 5:41.
7:36 "He gave them orders not to tell anyone" The reason for this was that the gospel was not yet complete. Jesus did not want to be known as a miracle worker. The press of the crowds was already a problem. This "Messianic Secret" is characteristic of Mark. However, it is surprising because Jesus does so many acts and says such revealing things about Himself in Mark. Jesus clearly reveals Himself as Messiah and fulfills current Jewish expectations to those who had spiritual eyes to see!
7:37 Healing the deaf was a clear Messianic sign (cf. Isa. 35:5-6).
▣ "'He has done all things well'" This is a perfect active indicative. What a summary statement made by the people of northern Palestine!
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.
1. How should we relate to tradition? Define tradition.
2. Was Jesus setting aside the Old Testament? If so how do we treat the OT as inspired? (Mark 7:19)
3. Explain the difference between Jesus' view of religion and that of the Pharisees.
4. Why did Jesus go into a predominately Gentile area? (Mark 7:24)
5. How did a child become demon possessed? Does it happen today? (Mark 7:25)
6. Why did Jesus tell them not to tell anyone about the man's healing? (Mark 7:36)
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