Mark 1 Commentary

To go directly to that verse

John Mark
Acts 12:12+


Click chart to enlarge
Chart from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Another Chart from Charles Swindoll-right side of page


Click chart to enlarge
Chart from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission

Hiebert explains that "Mark does not lend itself easily to a satisfactory outline. Its contents are largely composed of a succession of events which do not readily fall into a climactic sequence. However, a roughly geographical organization of its contents is clear; therefore, after the introductory section, the material is geographically grouped—Galilee, Galilee and surrounding areas, journey to Jerusalem, and Jerusalem. The theme may be stated as “The Servant of Jehovah.”

  • Coming of the Servant, Mark 1:1-13
    1. Title of the book, Mark 1:1
    2. Ministry of the baptist, Mark 1:2-8
    3. Baptism of Jesus, Mark 1:9-11
    4. Temptation by Satan, Mark 1:2-13
  • Ministry of the Servant, Mark 1:14-13:37
    1. Ministry in Galilee, Mark 1:14-4:34
      1. Summary of the preaching, Mark 1:14-15
      2. Call to four fishermen, Mark 1:16-20
      3. Ministry in Capernaum, Mark 1:21-34
        1. Excitement in the synagogue, Mark 1:21-28
        2. Healing of Peter's mother-in-law, Mark 1:29-31
        3. Healing ministry at sundown, Mark 1:32-34
      4. Tour of Galilee, Mark 1:35-45
        1. Departure from Capernaum, Mark 1:35-39
        2. Cleansing of a leper, Mark 1:40-45 (An Introduction to the New Testament - Hiebert)

John MacArthur's Outline - Mark Introduction

I. Prologue: In the Wilderness (Mark 1:1–13)

A. John’s Message (Mark 1:1–8)

B. Jesus’ Baptism (Mark 1:9–11)

C. Jesus’ Temptation (Mark 1:12, 13)

II. Beginning His Ministry: In Galilee and the Surrounding Regions (Mark 1:14–7:23)

A. He Announces His Message (Mark 1:14, 15)

B. He Calls His Disciples (Mark 1:16–20)

C. He Ministers in Capernaum (Mark 1:21–34)

D. He Reaches Out to Galilee (Mark 1:35–45)

Mark 1:1  The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.


This first sentence summarizes the contents of the Mark's entire Gospel and serves as the title. Mark 1:1-13 serves as "prologue" much like the prologue in the Gospel of John (Jn 1:1-18) and gives us give us certain information about Jesus which enables us to understand the significance of the events that follow beginning in the heart of the Gospel Mark 1:19-13:37.

Ralph Martin says it this way - The page of a modern book that first catches our interest is the title page. We want to know what the book is all about. Ancient books had no dust covers or words printed on the spine to arrest attention. So the first page—or even, as here in Mark 1:1, the first sentence—had to convey the writer’s main message. This is exactly what Mark’s opening verse is trying to do: to alert the reader to what is to follow. It is both his “table of contents” and title page brought together in a bold statement.  (Mark Commentary)

Ray Stedman has an interesting comment - I have just spent two weeks in Mexico with the Wycliffe Bible Translators, and I have realized anew that the Gospel of Mark is the most translated book in all the world. No other book appears in as many languages. Almost all Wycliffe translators, after they have reduced a language to writing, begin their translation of the Scriptures with this gospel. I am sure that the fact it is the shortest of the gospels has something to do with that decision! Bible translators are human beings like the rest of us, and no one wants to start with a gospel as long as Matthew or Luke. But it is also a fact that Mark is particularly suitable for introducing to the Scriptures people of all backgrounds, classes, and tribes. It is the one gospel of the four which is aimed at the Gentile ear. Mark was written for the Roman world, for the Gentile, for those who do not know the background of the Old Testament. Therefore it is a very instructive and helpful gospel to use in the initial approach....Mark is very easy to outline, because the author gives us certain natural divisions, as we will see as we go along. It falls readily into two halves. The first, Mark 1:1-8:26, is The Servant Who Rules -- the authority of the servant. The second, from Mark 8:27 through to the end, is The Ruler Who Serves.

Hooker compares the prologues of Mark and John - John speaks of the Logos, and Mark of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, but both explain who Jesus is by comparing him with the Baptist, and by stressing Jesus’ superiority. John speaks of his activity in creation, and Mark of the fact that the creative spirit of God rests on him. In both, Jesus is Son of God, and his relationship to the Father is described in similar terms—‘beloved’ (ἀγαπητός, used especially of an only child) in Mark, ‘only’ (μονογενής) in John. (Black's NT Commentary)

J C Ryle - THE Gospel of St. Mark, which we now begin, is in some respects unlike the other three Gospels. It tells us nothing about the birth and early life of our Lord Jesus Christ. It contains comparatively few of His sayings and discourses. Of all the four inspired histories of our Lord’s earthly ministry, this is by far the shortest. But we must not allow these peculiarities to make us undervalue St. Mark’s Gospel. It is a Gospel singularly full of precious facts about the Lord Jesus, narrated in a simple, terse, pithy, and condensed style. If it tells us few of our Lord’s sayings, it is eminently rich in its catalogue of His doings. It often contains minute historical details of deep interest, which are wholly omitted in Matthew, Luke, and John. In short, it is no mere abridged copy of St. Matthew, as some have rashly asserted, but the independent narrative of an independent witness, who was inspired to write a history of our Lord’s works, rather than of His words. Let us read it with holy reverence. Like all the rest of Scripture, every word of St. Mark is “given by inspiration of God,” and every word is “profitable.” (Mark 1 Commentary)

Stier adds that "St. Mark has the special gift of terse brevity, and of graphic painting in wonderful combination. While on every occasion he compresses the discourses, works, and history into the simplest possible kernel, he on the other hand, unfolds the scenes more clearly than St. Matthew does, who excels in the discourses. Not only do single incidents become in his hands complete pictures, but even when he is very brief, he often gives, with one pencil stroke, something new and peculiarly his own.” (Stier’s Words of the Lord Jesus)

J C Ryle - The Gospel of Mark, which we now begin, is in some respects unlike the other three Gospels. It tells us nothing about the birth and early life of our Lord Jesus Christ. It contains comparatively few of His sayings and discourses. Of all the four inspired histories of our Lord's earthly ministry, this is by far the shortest. But we must not allow these peculiarities to make us undervalue Mark's Gospel. It is a Gospel singularly full of precious facts about the Lord Jesus, narrated in a simple, terse, pithy, and condensed style. If it tells us few of our Lord's SAYINGS, it is eminently rich in its catalogue of His DOINGS. It often contains minute historical detail of deep interest, which are wholly omitted in Matthew, Luke and John. In short, it is no mere abridged copy of Matthew, as some have rashly asserted, but the independent narrative of an independent witness, who was inspired to write a history of our Lord's WORKS, rather than of His WORDS. Let us read it with holy reverence. Like all the rest of Scripture, every word of Mark is "given by inspiration of God," and every word is "profitable." Let us observe, in these verses, what a full declaration we have of the dignity of our Lord Jesus Christ's person. The very first sentence speaks of Him as "the Son of God." These words, "the Son of God," conveyed far more to Jewish minds than they do to ours. They were nothing less than an assertion of our Lord's divinity. They were a declaration that Jesus was Himself very God, and "equal with God." (John 5:18+.) There is a beautiful fitness in placing this truth in the very beginning of a Gospel. The divinity of Christ is the citadel and keep of Christianity. Here lies the infinite value of the atoning sacrifice He made upon the cross. Here lies the peculiar merit of His atoning death for sinners. That death was not the death of a mere man, like ourselves, but of one who is "over all, God blessed forever." (Rom. 9:5.) We need not wonder that the sufferings of one person were a sufficient propitiation for the sin of a world, when we remember that He who suffered was the "Son of God." Let believers cling to this doctrine with jealous watchfulness. With it, they stand upon a rock. Without it, they have nothing solid beneath their feet. Our hearts are weak. Our sins are many. We need a Redeemer who is able to save to the uttermost, and deliver from the wrath to come. We have such a Redeemer in Jesus Christ. He is "the mighty God." (Isaiah 9:6+.) (Commentary)

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God - Mark gets right to the point. The gospel is good news, the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Notice that Mark says this is not the beginning of his book, but the beginning of the message of good news. The word beginning implies that there will be a continuation of this good news and certainly we see that the book of Acts which itself is in a very reals sense being written daily as lost souls hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and believe and are saved. 

Lenski on beginning of the gospel - Mark considers this beginning of the gospel to start with the work of the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus and to extend to his resurrection and glorification....Mark uses "beginning" in the stricter sense, as starting with Jesus' assumption of his Messianic office. Hence he leaves out the birth and the childhood of Jesus, which Matthew and Luke include. (The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel)

Hiebert - In Galatians 4:4–6+, Paul viewed the gospel story as in two parts, God’s sending “his Son” and the sending of “the Spirit of his Son.” The full apostolic message thus included the sending of the Holy Spirit. Mark covers the first of these two sendings. The story of the sending of the Son of God had its historical beginning with the coming of John the forerunner. (Mark Commentary)

NET Note on beginning - The first verse of Mark's Gospel appears to function as a title: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is not certain, however, whether Mark intended it to refer to the entire Gospel, to the ministry of John the Baptist, or through the use of the term beginning (arche) to allude to Genesis 1:1 (in the Greek Bible, LXX). The most likely option is that the statement as a whole is an allusion to Genesis 1:1 and that Mark is saying that with the "good news" of the coming of Christ, God is commencing a "new beginning." (ED: AN INTERESTING THOUGHT CONSIDERING GENESIS 3+ BROUGHT A "BAD BEGINNING"!) 

THOUGHT - Alexander Whyte, the Scottish preacher, once said “Life is made up of new beginnings." Considering the fact that we daily sin and should die, because of our being safe in Christ we can confess, repent and experience a "new beginning." And once you commence that "new beginning," don't replay the tapes of your sin against God. If you have genuinely confessed and repented (not just regretted) then you are "white as snow" and ready for your "new beginning!" The enemy will try to shoot flaming missiles like "You're not even saved!," "You don't deserve to have personal communion with a holy God." "What if everyone knew about your sin?" and on and on and on. Beloved, by God's gracious and great Spirit may we be enabled to take every one of those thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5) grasping our shield of faith to deflect the lies of the roaring lion (Eph 6:17, 1 Pe 5:8)! 

Ralph Martin commenting on Whyte's quote about new beginnings wrote "This is true because God is always starting something fresh—in history, in his church, in human lives. Mark 1:1 can be linked with Gen 1:1; and themes such as “God’s new work,” “Life’s new beginnings,” “A fresh start—with God” are suggested as sermon topics. (Mark Commentary)

Beginning (746)(arche) refers to the commencement of something as an action, process, or state of being. Here in Mark it is used without the definite article which is felt to indicate it was intended as a title. Arche is used 4x in Mark - Mk. 1:1; Mk. 10:6; Mk. 13:8; Mk. 13:19;

Other books in the Bible begin with the words, “The beginning” or “In the beginning.”

  • Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” “In the beginning” of what? Time. Time began when God created the heavens and earth. Before TIME began is known as “Eternity Past.”
  • John 1:1-2+: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” Here, John takes Jesus back to the beginning of
  • Eternity Past. That is, Jesus always was. He had no beginning and He will have no end.
  • 1 John 1:1+: “That which was from the beginning.” In the context of verses 1-4, the phrase refers to the beginning of gospel preaching when the readers first heard about Jesus. (See 1 John 2:7, 24+)

The "time phrase" beginning of the gospel conveys the sense that more is coming, which indeed proved the case at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit promised in the OT (e.g., Ezekiel 36:37+) was bestowed on believers, which would indeed empower them to proclaim the Gospel "both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8+)

Gospel (2098)(see below on euaggelion). Euaggelion originally meant a reward for good news, then simply the good news itself. Mark begins with a "royal pronouncement" proclaiming the arrival of the King and His Kingdom. (See notes on Mark 1:15) It is the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. By the time Mark wrote this book, the word gospel had become a technical term referring to the announcement of the Christian good news, the preaching about Jesus Christ and God’s saving power accomplished through him for all who believe. It wasn’t until much later that the church began to refer to the four books that dealt with the life and teaching of Jesus as the ‘Gospels’. Note that we commonly use the word “gospel,” to refer to a book, like the Gospel of Matthew, Mark,  Luke, or John, but the NT never uses Gospel to refer to one of these 4 books but only to refer to the message of salvation.

Utley has an interesting note -  With Mark probably being the first written Gospel, this is the first use of the term euangelion (cf. 1:14, 15; 8:35; 10:29; 13:10; 14:9) by a Gospel writer (Paul’s use in Gal. 2:2 and 1 Thess. 2:9 would be chronologically earlier).

The writers of the New Testament adapted the term Gospel as God's glorious message of salvation for lost otherwise hopeless, helpless sinners. Euaggelion is found in several combination phrases, each describing the gospel like a multifaceted jewel in various terms from a different viewpoint (from the NASB, 1977):

  1. the gospel of the kingdom (Mt 4:23+, Mt 9:35+, Mt 24:14+)
  2. the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mk 1:1+) because it centers in Christ
  3. the gospel of God (Mk 1:14+, Ro 15:16+, 2Co 11:7+, 1Th 2:2+, 1Th 2:8,9+, 1Pe 4:17+) because it originates with God and was not invented by man
  4. the gospel of the kingdom of God (Lu 16:16+)
  5. the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24+, Ro 1:1+),
  6. the gospel of His Son (Ro 1:9+)
  7. the gospel of Christ (Ro 15:19+, 1Co 1:9+, 2Co 2:12+, 2Co 9:13+, 2Co 10:14+, Gal 1:7+, Phil 1:27+, 1Th 3:2+)
  8. the gospel of the glory of Christ (2Co 4:4+)
  9. the gospel of your salvation (Eph 1:14+)
  10. the gospel of peace (Eph 6:15+)
  11. the gospel of our Lord Jesus (2Th 1:8+)
  12. the glorious gospel of the blessed God (1Ti 1:11+)
  13. In Ro 16:25, 26+ Paul called it “my Gospel” indicating that the special emphasis he gave the gospel in his ministry.

For a rewarding study, study the preceding references in context making notation of the truth you observe about the gospel. If you would like a special blessing, take an afternoon to go through all 76 uses of euaggelion in context making a list of what you learn about the gospel. The Spirit of God will enlighten your heart and encourage your spirit in a very special way...and you'll want to share the "good news" with someone because of your "discoveries"!

Euaggelion - Matt. 4:23; Matt. 9:35; Matt. 24:14; Matt. 26:13; Mk. 1:1; Mk. 1:14; Mk. 1:15; Mk. 8:35; Mk. 10:29; Mk. 13:10; Mk. 14:9; Mk. 16:15; Acts 15:7; Acts 20:24; Rom. 1:1; Rom. 1:9; Rom. 1:16; Rom. 2:16; Rom. 10:16; Rom. 11:28; Rom. 15:16; Rom. 15:19; Rom. 16:25; 1 Co. 4:15; 1 Co. 9:12; 1 Co. 9:14; 1 Co. 9:18; 1 Co. 9:23; 1 Co. 15:1; 2 Co. 2:12; 2 Co. 4:3; 2 Co. 4:4; 2 Co. 8:18; 2 Co. 9:13; 2 Co. 10:14; 2 Co. 11:4; 2 Co. 11:7; Gal. 1:6; Gal. 1:7; Gal. 1:11; Gal. 2:2; Gal. 2:5; Gal. 2:7; Gal. 2:14; Eph. 1:13; Eph. 3:6; Eph. 6:15; Eph. 6:19; Phil. 1:5; Phil. 1:7; Phil. 1:12; Phil. 1:16; Phil. 1:27; Phil. 2:22; Phil. 4:3; Phil. 4:15; Col. 1:5; Col. 1:23; 1 Thess. 1:5; 1 Thess. 2:2; 1 Thess. 2:4; 1 Thess. 2:8; 1 Thess. 2:9; 1 Thess. 3:2; 2 Thess. 1:8; 2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Tim. 1:11; 2 Tim. 1:8; 2 Tim. 1:10; 2 Tim. 2:8; Phlm. 1:13; 1 Pet. 4:17; Rev. 14:6

Of Jesus Christ, the Son of God - Note this Name, Jesus identifying Him as Man, then Christ as the One Who fulfilled prophecies of the Messiah and Son of God as the One Who is God. Fully Man, fully God, described in over 300 Messianic prophecies. This prophecy fulfilling God-Man is the Centerpiece of Mark's book. This is the message from Jesus but even more is about Jesus Christ (Robertson says is objective genitive - but see NET Note below). Hiebert agrees that of Jesus Christ is "not here as the herald of the good news but as the subject of the good news." As one writer said "He is thinking not so much of the Gospel Jesus preached, as of the Gospel He was." I like that. In short, the good news is centered on One Person here given a three-fold designation. First, Jesus, which in Hebrew is Joshua and which means Jehovah is salvation, the One through Whom salvation is made possible. Jesus also speaks of His humanity because it was the Name given by His human parents. (Angel spoke to Joseph in Mt 1:21, and an angel spoke to Mary in Lk 1:31+)

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NET Note - The genitive in the phrase tou euangeliou Iesou Christou, "the gospel of Jesus Christ" could be translated as either a subjective genitive ("the gospel which Jesus brings [or proclaims]") or an objective genitive ("the gospel about Jesus Christ"). Either is grammatically possible. This is possibly an instance of a plenary genitive (see ExSyn 119–21; M. Zerwick, Biblical Greek, §§36–39). If so, an interplay between the two concepts is intended: The Gospel which Jesus proclaims is in fact the Gospel about Himself.

Note: In an objective genitive, the genitive noun is the object of the verbal idea contained in the noun it modifies; e.g. “the love of music” – where “music” is the object of the love. She loves the music. In a subjective genitive, the genitive noun is the agent of the verbal idea contained in the noun modified; e.g. “the love of her father” – where the love is exercised by the father. Her father loved her. (Chris Engelsma)

Jesus (2424)(Iesous) means Savior (Mt 1:1, 16, 21) The angel declared to Joseph "you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21) And to Mary the angel said "you shall name Him Jesus." (Lk 1:31+) and later said He "shall be called the Son of God."  (Lk 1:35+)  Jesus is a transliteration of the Greek Iesous (In Septuagint = "Joshua" - Josh 1:1). In fact Iesous is the transliteration of the Hebrew name Joshua (Jehoshua) or Jeshua (Yeshua) and means Jehovah is help or Jehovah is salvation. Stated another way the Greek Iesous corresponds to the OT Jehoshua which is contracted as Jeshua (Yeshua)

Gotquestions The name Jesus, announced to Joseph and Mary through the angels (Matthew 1:21, Luke 1:31+), means “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation.” Transliterated from Hebrew and Aramaic, the name is Yeshua. This word is a combination of Ya, an abbreviation for Yahweh, the name of Israel’s God (Exodus 3:14); and the verb yasha', meaning “rescue,” “deliver,” or “save.” The English spelling of the Hebrew Yeshua is Joshua. But when translated from Hebrew into Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament, the name Yeshua becomes Iēsous. In English, Iēsous becomes Jesus. Thus, Yeshua and, correspondingly, Joshua and Jesus mean “Yahweh saves” or “the Lord is salvation.”

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Christ (Anointed One)(5547)(Christos from chrio = to rub or anoint, consecrate to an office) describes one who has been anointed with oil, one who has been consecrated, symbolizing appointment to a task. It is the "Anointed One" and is the Greek synonym for "Messiah." Christos is used in the Septuagint on one anointed with the holy oil, especially the priests (Lev. 4:5+, Lev 4:16+) and in Daniel 9:25+ in a Messianic Prophecy giving the exact time of the Messiah's arrival on the scene in Israel - "So you are to know and discern (THE DOUBLE EMPHASIS INDICATES THIS IS IMPORTANT AND "KNOWABLE") that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks (CLICK FOR DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THESE CRUCIAL TIME PHRASES); it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress." Christ is a clear synonym of the name Messiah and in a few Bible translations "paraphrase" Christos as "Messiah" (NLT, NEB, REB, GNB) which is reasonable as both names mean "anointed."

John Grassmick adds on Christ - It was used specifically of the Deliverer anticipated in the Jewish world who would be God’s Agent in fulfilling Old Testament prophecies (e.g., Gen. 49:10; Ps 2; Ps 110; Isa. 9:1–7; 11:1–9; Zech. 9:9–10). (BKC)

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Ryle - These words, “the Son of God,” conveyed far more to Jewish minds than they do to ours. They were nothing less than an assertion of our Lord’s divinity. They were a declaration that Jesus was Himself very God, and “equal with God.” (see discussion below)

Hiebert comments on Son of God - Mark’s use of the designation Son of God in the very title of his book serves to draw immediate attention to his high Christology. It is his testimony to the unique nature of the subject of his story and is the counterpart in Mark to the nativity story in Matthew and Luke.

Son of God - Jesus is God and has always been God so He is not the Son of God in the sense a human father begets a son. This title for Jesus (Yeshua) is not found in the Old Testament (there He is called "Son of Man" in Da 7:13+). The Gospels give multiple witnesses to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, that His is indeed divine! The Father’s voice gave testimony that Jesus was indeed the Son of God at His baptism (Mk 1:11) and then reaffirmed this truth at His transfiguration (Mk 9:7+). As noted below it was because Jesus was the Son of God that He was condemned and crucified, but it was by His resurrection that He was vindicated as the Son of God! 

The first use of Son of God is interesting because in this use Satan acknowledges Jesus deity tempting Him "If (= SINCE = FIRST CLASS CONDITION = ASSUMED TRUE) You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread" (Mt 4:3, Lk 4:3+A T Robertson comments that Satan "deftly calls on Jesus to exercise his power as Son of God to appease his hunger and thus prove to himself and all that he really is what the Father called him."  And then he tempts Jesus again saying "If (SINCE) You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down." (Mt 4:6, Lk 4:9+) The demons in Mt 8:29 (cf Mk 3:11, Lk 4:41+) recognized Jesus crying out "What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” And then in His trial "the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” (Mt 26:63) to which Jesus in effect answered "Yes" (Mt 26:64, Lk 22:70+ = "Yes, I am"). A Roman centurion watching His crucifixion declared "Truly this was the Son of God!" (Mt 27:54, Mk 15:39) He was only half correct, for the "was" is really an "is". To His mother Mary, the angel declared He "shall be called the Son of God."  (Lk 1:35+) John the Baptist declared "I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (Jn 1:34+). Nathanael likewise answered Jesus declaring “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” (Jn 1:49+) Martha testified "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” (Jn 11:27+)

Ultimately it was the title Son of God which resulted in His false conviction by the Jewish leaders (see Lk 22:70, 71+, Lk 23:1+, Mt 26:63-66, Jn 19:7+). John gives us the background writing Jesus

"answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, (cf Son of God) making Himself equal with God. (Jn 5:17-18+)

In the last use of Son of God in the Gospels John summarizes the ultimate purpose of his entire Gospel:

These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (Jn 20:31+)

ESV Global on Son of God - Mark emphasizes the divine Sonship of Jesus. In NT times the Roman emperor was worshiped by many as a god or as a “son of god.” (ED: SATAN ALWAYS HAS COUNTERFEITS!) It was essential, then, for Mark to make it clear that Jesus was the Son of the one true God. Jesus is not a tribal deity only for Jews, but is to be received by all peoples and cultures as Lord of all.

Son of God - Used  3x in Mark - Mk 1:1, Mk 3:11, Mk 15:39. 

Son of Man is used far more often than Son of God - Mk. 2:10; Mk. 2:28; Mk. 8:31; Mk. 8:38; Mk. 9:9; Mk. 9:12; Mk. 9:31; Mk. 10:33; Mk. 10:45; Mk. 13:26; Mk. 14:21; Mk. 14:41; Mk. 14:62;

Mark Eastman - Messiah Son of God - excerpt

One of the most contentious issues between modern day Jewish and Christian scholars is whether the Messiah would be the "Son of God." The Christian New Testament clearly indicates that Jesus believed he was the Son of God, and that the disciples believed this as well. However, most 20th century rabbis claim that the Messiah is simply a man.

In 1992 I had a discussion about the Messiah with a Jewish physician, a man who was a Torah scholar as well. He told me that virtually all modern rabbis believe the Messiah is going to be just a man. He will be great in wisdom and stature, but he will be just a man. He will not be the Son of God, nor will he be God in the flesh. He then went on to tell me that the belief that the Messiah is the Son of God was a Christian fabrication. He told me that there is no evidence from the Old Testament or the writings of the ancient rabbis that the Messiah would be the Son of God. Even today, when one asks a modern rabbi why they reject the Messiahship of Jesus, they will often say, "Because Jesus claimed to be the Son of God!"

This denial among virtually all of modern Judaism of the "Sonship" of the Messiah, is widely held. However, this has not always been so. There is abundant evidence in the writings of the ancient rabbis, as well as the Apocryphal books, that the Messiah would indeed be the Son of God.

In 1992, powerful new evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls was published that reveals the belief among first century mainstream Judaism that the Messiah was indeed the Son of God. Before we look at that evidence, let's look at the claims of Jesus, his disciples and the leaders of the Jewish nation who rejected him as their Messiah. (Messiah - Son of God) (Index to book Search for Messiah- 12 chapters)

J Vernon McGee - There are three beginnings recorded in Scripture. Let us put them down in chronological order.

1. “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1). This goes back to a dateless beginning, a beginning before all time. Here the human mind can only grope. It is logical rather than chronological because in my thinking, I must put my peg somewhere in the past in order to take off. If I see an airplane in the air, I assume there is an airport somewhere. I may not know where it is, but I know the plane took off from some place. So when I look around at the universe, I know that it took off from somewhere and that somewhere there is a God. But I don’t know anything about that beginning. God comes out of eternity to meet us. I just have to put down the peg at the point where He does meet us, back as far as I can think, and realize He was there before that.

2. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). This is where we move out of eternity into time. However, although many people have been attempting to date this universe, no man so far knows. Man’s guesses have ranged from six thousand years to three billion years. We know so little, but when we come into His presence and begin to know even as we are known, then we will realize how we saw through a glass darkly. I’m sure we will marvel at our stupidity and our ignorance. Our God is a great God. He has plenty of time.

3. “The beginning of the gospel …” (v. 1) is the same as “That which was from the beginning …” (1 John 1:1). This is dated. It goes back to Jesus Christ at the precise moment He took upon Himself human flesh. Jesus Christ is the gospel!

Lowell Johnson - The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” is what Mark is going to share. He is going to share with his readers the good news concerning who Jesus is and what He did while He was here. Mark calls the Lord, “Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

The name “Jesus” comes from the Hebrew word Joshua: “Jehovah is Salvation” and declares His Person.

He is “Christ,” the Jewish Messiah, the Anointed One. Christ declares His Position. He is the One who will deliver His people from their enemies.

He is “the Son of God” – who is no ordinary man. The name “Son of God” declares His Power!

  1. He is truly human – He has a human name – Jesus.

  2. He is truly divine – He is the promised Messiah. He is the Son of God.

  3. He is truly unique – He is both humanity and deity in One Person.

  4. He is the true source of Good News – Jesus alone is the Source of salvation. (The Man Who Introduced Jesus As The Messiah Mark 1:1-8)


  1. Jesus Christ, Son of God (1:1)
  2. Jesus, Son of the Most High God (5:7)
  3. Jesus, Son of David (10:47-48) 4. Christ (1:1; 8:29; 9:41; 12:35)
  4. Christ, the Son of the Blessed (14:61)
  5. Christ, King of Israel (15:32)
  6. Son of Man (2:10, 28; 8:31, 38; 9:9, 12, 31; 10:33, 45; 13:26; 14:21, 41, 62)
  7. Holy One of God (1:24)
  8. Lord of the Sabbath (2:28)
  9. Lord (5:19; 7:28; 10:51 [Gk]; 11:3; 13:20 [16:19-20])
  10. King of the Jews (15:2, 9, 12, 18, 26) (Christ-Centered Exposition - Exalting Jesus in Mark)

Brian Bill has a summary of the The Peculiarity of Mark

1. Mark focuses more on the works of Jesus and less on His words.

Mark records nineteen miracles, but only four parables. Interestingly, each of these parables has serving as its key theme. 

2. The language Mark uses is emotive and often abrupt.

We read in 8:12 that Jesus “sighed deeply” and that He was “moved with compassion” in Mark 6:34. He “marveled at their unbelief” in Mark 6:6 and in Mark 3:5 He looked “around in anger.” At the same time, when He saw the rich young ruler in Mark 10:21 we read: “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him…”

We also see that people had strong reactions to Jesus. I count over 15 individuals who decided to follow Christ when coming face-to-face with Him. People were never passive about Jesus or bored with Him. There’s no way to just ignore Him. He either made people angry or astonished or amazed or in awe. People fought against Him or they put their faith in Him. The same is true today. You will reject Him or you will receive Him. There’s no middle ground. Check out these 12 reactions that people had to Jesus and see if you can remain neutral.

1. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves (Mark 1:27)
2. And they were filled with great fear (Mark 4:41)
3. He ran and fell down before Him (Mark 5:6)
4. And they were overcome with amazement (Mark 5:42-43)
5. And many who heard Him were astonished (Mark 6:2)
6. And they took offense at Him (Mark 6:3)
7. For they all saw Him and were terrified…and they were utterly astounded (Mark 6:50-51)
8. The people ran about the whole region (Mark 6:54-55)
9. And they were astonished beyond measure (Mark 7:37)
10. And they were amazed…and afraid (Mark 10:32)
11. For they feared Him because, because all the crowd was astonished (Mark 11:18)
12. And they marveled at Him (Mark 12:17)

So here are some questions for you. What’s your response to Jesus? Have you made the decision to follow Him? What’s your reaction to what He has done for you?

3. Jesus acts quickly to meet needs.

We see this in the use of the word “immediately” or “straightway.” Used 42 times, this conveys a sense of vividness and excitement! Let’s just look at a few examples from chapter one (Mark 1:10, 12, 18, 20, 21, 23). The Gospel of Luke, which is much longer, only uses “immediately” seven times. We also see that 2/3 of the verses begin with “and” to communicate the speed at which the Savior ministered (notice Mark 1:29, 35, 40, 2:1). Mark has been called “a moving picture of the ministry of Jesus.” Don’t you love that Jesus is all about forward motion?

This week I talked to Jerry Patterson, who retired from the Navy. He helped me understand that aircraft carriers are all about “forward deployment” and “presence.” He described their purpose to defend and to go forward and also be ready to help during catastrophes. We see clearly in Mark that Jesus was all about “forward deployment.” How about you? Are you on mission to respond immediately to needs or is there some “mission drift” going on in your life?

4. Mark uses the historical present tense over 150 times.

In the original, instead of writing, “Jesus came” Mark wrote, “Jesus comes.” Mark’s all about, “Jesus says,” not “Jesus said” and “Jesus heals” instead of “Jesus healed.” Jesus did all those things in the past but He’s still doing them in the present! He saved then and He still saves now! Tim Keller writes: “Jesus is not merely a historical figure, but a living reality, who addresses us today.”

5. Mark holds up the cost of discipleship even though the disciples fall short.

In Mark 8:34 we read, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Jesus continually calls his followers to complete commitment and when they cave, He comes alongside and urges them to get back on mission. Sometimes the disciples question and complain like in Mark 4:38: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” We have met the disciples, and they are us, right? 

Here’s the deal. We will never water down the message. Jesus is calling us to take up our cross, which means to go as condemned criminals to our death. Randy Alcorn writes,

“Following Christ means taking up your cross daily, which means little sacrifices made repeatedly.”

But aren’t you glad that Jesus gives us grace and mercy when we fall down? If God can use a denier like Peter and a deserter like Mark, He can use flawed disciples like you…and like me.

6. Mark is a missionary book.

Mark omits language that someone living in Rome would not understand. He explains Aramaic words and Jewish customs (see 7:3-4). The bottom line is that Mark is all about making the gospel message accessible to those considered “outsiders.” We must do the same because it’s so easy for us to just focus on us insiders. We must remember that the church is the only organization in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members!

Churches tend to count their seating capacity. I think a better metric is to count our sending capacity. Mark’s account opens with, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” and closes in Mark 16:15 with, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

7. Mark’s emphasis is on the last week of Jesus’ life.

The events surrounding the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ make up 40% of Mark’s manuscript. Someone has described Mark’s gospel as “a passion-narrative with an extended introduction.” Jesus was born in order to die. His death was not a tragic accident but part of God’s plan from the very beginning. Jesus is our Selfless Servant and He is our Suffering Savior.

ILLUSTRATION OF THE POWER OF THE GOSPELS - Kent Hughes, in his commentary on Mark, tells about a world-renowned scholar of classic literature, Dr. E .V. Rieu. He is known for a fantastic translation of Homer’s Odyssey into modern English for Penguin Classics. An agnostic his entire life, Penguin publishers approached him at the end of his career and asked him to translate the gospels. That raised some eyebrows because people wondered how an agnostic classical scholar could translate Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. When Rieu’s son heard about it he had a great reaction: “It will be interesting to see what father will make of the four Gospels,” then he paused, “It will be even more interesting to see what the four Gospels make of father.” He didn’t have to wonder very long - when he translated them he came face-to-face with Christ, and became a committed Christian. His story is a testimony to the transforming power of God’s Word.

Mark 1:2  As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: "BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY;

NET  Mark 1:2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way,

GNT  Mark 1:2 Καθὼς γέγραπται ἐν τῷ Ἠσαΐᾳ τῷ προφήτῃ, Ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου, ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου·

NLT  Mark 1:2 just as the prophet Isaiah had written: "Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way.

KJV  Mark 1:2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. (THE WORDS IN BOLD ARE NOT ACCEPTED AS ORIGINAL)

ESV  Mark 1:2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way,

ASV  Mark 1:2 Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way.

CSB  Mark 1:2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way.

NIV  Mark 1:2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way"--

NKJ  Mark 1:2 As it is written in the Prophets: "Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You."

NRS  Mark 1:2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;

YLT  Mark 1:2 As it hath been written in the prophets, 'Lo, I send My messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee,' -

  • written: Ps 40:7 Mt 2:5 26:24,31 Lu 1:70 18:31 
  • Behold : Mal 3:1 Mt 11:10 Lu 1:15-17,76 Lk 7:26, Lk 7:27,28 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


As (kathos) conveys the idea that just as it was written down in the past it is now being fulfilled. In other words what happens or happened is in perfect accord or perfect agreement with what was predicted to happen. For example, Mark 14:21 says "the Son of Man is to go JUST AS it is written of Him."  The NLT paraphrase has "JUST AS the prophet Isaiah had written" speaking in context of His death which had been prophesied in the Old Testament (esp Isaiah 53:1-12+). So JUST AS it was written, so it is now fulfilled.

Definition of  JUST AS.
(1) to an equal degree as; In precisely the same way as - Examples = "He's signing his name just as he's always done it."  Our house is just as nice as theirs. This one is just as good as that one. She performs just as well as he does.
(2) in the same way as, to the same degree as. Examples = Just as we hope to be forgiven, so we should forgive others. JUST AS is used for emphasizing that something is equally large, good, bad, etc.

All the uses of Kathos in Mark - Mk. 1:2; Mk. 4:33; Mk. 9:13; Mk. 11:6; Mk. 14:16; Mk. 14:21; Mk. 15:8; Mk. 16:7

It is written - This was the typical way to identify a specific quote from an Old Testament prophecy or an allusion to a prophecy (cf allusion in Mk 14:21 alluding to Ps 22:1-31 and Isaiah 53:1-12+). In the present section, Mark quotes from two prophets, first from Malachi (who he does not name) and then from Isaiah, who he names first (see below for explanation). 

As it is written in the NT - Matt. 26:24; Mk. 1:2; Mk. 7:6; Mk. 9:13; Mk. 14:21; Lk. 2:23; Lk. 3:4; Jn. 6:31; Jn. 12:14; Acts 7:42; Acts 15:15; Rom. 1:17; Rom. 2:24; Rom. 3:4; Rom. 3:10; Rom. 4:17; Rom. 8:36; Rom. 9:13; Rom. 9:33; Rom. 10:15; Rom. 11:8; Rom. 11:26; Rom. 15:3; Rom. 15:9; Rom. 15:21; 1 Co. 1:31; 1 Co. 2:9; 1 Co. 10:7; 2 Co. 8:15; 2 Co. 9:9

Written  (1125)(grapho from root graph- = primarily means to scratch on or engrave as on an ornament, reports, letters, etc; English = graph, graphic, etc) means to engrave or inscribe with a pen or stylus characters or letters on a surface which can be wood, wax, metal, leather, stone, parchment, dirt (John 8:6+), paper, etc. The perfect tense indicates it was written down in the Old Testament and it stands written. This speaks of the permanence of the Scriptures even as Jesus declared in Mt 24:35  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away."

THOUGHT - May the absolute certainty of this truth uttered by He Who is Himself Truth (Mt 24:35) stir your hearts and motivate you to desire to treasure God's precious, permanent Word of Life in your hearts during your short sojourn on earth (Ps 119:9,11)? What a blessed but passing privilege we now have to memorize His Word. Don't miss this golden opportunity, the opportunity of a lifetime! You will not regret it throughout eternity! To help start you on this journey see Memory Verses by Topic. As they say when they serve your filet mignon in the restaurant "Enjoy!"

In Isaiah the prophet (prophetes) - Now don't get upset by the mention of Isaiah and then a quote from Malachi. Yes Mark mentions Isaiah first and then immediately quotes from Malachi. However in no way was Mark ascribing to Isaiah a prophecy written by Malachi! Critics and commentaries love to argue over this, but Mark did not make a mistake. He simply wanted to stress what Isaiah said by naming him, and then quote what Malachi said agreed with Isaiah's message. So in these two verses Mark combines the quotes. Malachi begins and then Isaiah chimes in. 

Hiebert explains that "Jerome (on Mt. 3:3) records that Porphyry, the early enemy of Christianity, seized upon this “mistake” by Mark and hurled it into the face of the Christians. Some ancient scribes sought to remove the difficulty by substituting “in the prophets” (KJV), but the manuscripts are decidedly in favor of “in Isaiah the prophet” as the original reading....Some inexactness is obviously involved, but it need not be attributed to carelessness or ignorance. Mark’s wording at once indicates that his real interest centered in the Isaiah prophecy. The quotation from Malachi served as the passageway through which his mind rapidly passed, to fix attention on the more specific prediction in Isaiah. The point of the whole quotation is that John’s preparatory ministry, in fulfillment of prophecy, authenticated Jesus’ messiahship and  prepared for the beginning of His official ministry as the Messiah.  (Mark Commentary)

Behold (Pay Attention!)(2400)(idou) is the second person singular aorist middle imperative of eidon which means to see, perceive, look at. In the NT idou is used as a demonstrative particle that draws attention to what follows. Idou in the middle voice means "you yourself look, see, perceive!" The aorist imperative is a command emphasizing "Do it now! Don't delay!" Spurgeon reminds us that "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a divine highlighter, a divine underlining of an especially striking or important text. It says in effect "Listen up, all ye who would be wise in the ways of Jehovah!"

I (GOD THE FATHER) send My messenger ahead of You (GOD THE SON) - "Some thought that God stopped sending prophets because He had nothing more to say, but John shows this wasn’t the case at all." (Guzik) "I" is God the Father speaking to His Son (YOU) through His prophet Malachi. The verb send is in the present tense which speaks of the imminence of the messenger's coming. The NLT and CSB accurately reflect the sense of the Greek by rendering it "I am sending." Over 400 years had passed since Malachi had recorded his prophecy (and over 700 years for Isaiah's portion), but the coming of this messenger was imminent (always "overhanging," always on the verge of happening) and it had now come to fruition with the arrival of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah.

THOUGHT - Note the possessive pronoun "MY messenger" which indicates that John belonged to God to be used for His holy purpose (cf what may have been John's "life verse" = Jn 3:30+). The same "TITLE" could be written across every believer's forehead - MY MESSENGER! Paul asked "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For (EXPLAINS WHY WE ARE NOT OUR OWN) you have been bought with a price (1 Pe 1:18-19+): therefore glorify (aorist imperative = only possible as we are enabled by the Spirit) God in your body (WHICH WE DO IF WE CARRY OUT HIS GOOD WORKS - Mt 5:16+)." (1 Cor 6:19-20+) Peter adds we are "A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that (HERE IS OUR PURPOSE) you may proclaim (exaggello) the excellencies of Him Who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light! (1 Peter 2:9+) Again Paul writes that Jesus "gave Himself for (AS THE "SUBSTITUTE" FOR) us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous (derived from zeo - to be hot and so we are to be "ON FIRE") for good deeds."  (Titus 2:14+) (MY Messenger reminds me of the biography of Oswald Chambers I read years ago aptly entitled "Abandoned to God!" I would recommend reading it at your leisure and at your own "risk" [it is so convicting as Chambers models for us total abandonment to God!]. See reviews).

Send (649)(apostello from apo = from, away from + stello = to withdraw from, avoid) means to send off, to send forth, to send out. To send out; to commission as a representative, an ambassador, an envoy. The idea is to send forth from one place to another. But the meaning of apostello is more than just to send because it means "to send off on a commission to do something as one’s personal representative, with credentials furnished" (Wuest) Apostello conveys the basic idea of one on mission, one sent to do a job and associates the necessary authority to accomplish the assignment and in John the Baptist's case he was clearly empowered by the Holy Spirit (even from birth! Lk 1:15, 41+)

THOUGHT - Dearly beloved of God, follower of His Son, you are also a "sent one" and you also have the power of the same Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8+) to accomplish the good works God has prepared for you to walk in from eternity past (Eph 2:10+). Are you walking in them? Are you fulfilling His calling on your life? Or are you entangled by the wiles and wooings of the wanton, wanderlust filled world? Repent and turn "about face" as they say in the military and began the incredible journey of a lifetime. You will have only one chance to fulfill your purpose. You may have largely "blown it," but God is the God of the second (and third, etc) chance. Take 5 minutes and ponder your existence in eternity. Now is the day for you to begin to fulfill your purpose, a privilege that is even associated with a prize (cf Mt 6:20-21+). Only one life, twill soon be past, only what's done for (and in) Christ will last!!! Redeem the time for the days are evil! 

Messenger (32)(aggelos/angelos) literally means a messenger, an envoy, one sent, and was used of messengers who were divine (Lk 1:26+), human (Lk 7:24+), demonic (Mt 25:41) and figurative (2 Cor 12:7). In Lk 7:24+ aggelos describes human messengers sent from John to Jesus and in Lk 7:27+ (cp Mt 11:10, Mk 1:2) Jesus uses aggelos to describe John the Baptist who was sent to prepare the way for Messiah. Jesus sent human messengers (aggelos) in Lk 9:52+. James 2:25+ uses aggelos to describe the human messengers sent from Israel to Rahab. Most of the NT uses of aggelos refer to heavenly angels (messengers) who are supernatural, transcendent beings with power to carry out various tasks. All uses of aggelos that refer to angels are masculine gender (the feminine form of aggelos does not occur.)

Here is the Malachi passage...

Malachi 3:1+Behold (Lxxidou), I am going to send (Lxx - exapostello) My messenger (Lxxaggelos), and he will clear (Lxx = epiblepo - look at, to help) the way before Me. And the Lord, Whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the Messenger of the covenant, in Whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts (of Sabaoth).

Grassmick thinks Mark blends Malachi 3:1 with Ex 23:20 and comparing the Greek text of each passage below would support his contention. Note that the verb for "send" in the Septuagint of Malachi 3:1 is exapostello not apostello as in Mark's quotation of Malachi, so that this first portion is in fact closer to Exodus 23:20. In any event Mark also quoting from Malachi 3:1 as that passage fits the context of the prediction of a "messenger" much better than the passage in Exodus.

  • Ex 23:20  Greek Septuagint = "ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ  (Exo 23:20 BGT)
  • Mark 1:2 Nestle-Aland Greek =  "ἰδοὺ  ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ  (Mark 1:2 BGT)
  • Malachi 3:1 Greek Septuagint = "ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐξαποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου" (Mal 3:1 BGT)

Ahead of You (MESSIAH) - Note that in the original quote in Malachi 3:1 it reads "before Me," which Mark records literally as "before thy face." Thus Mark's quotation is "interpretative." Hiebert comments that "The New Testament rephrasing makes prominent the truth that the coming Lord, “the messenger of the covenant” (Mal. 3:1), was the historical person Jesus Christ. It interprets the divine promise made to the people of Israel as addressed to the Messiah Himself. It is another instance of the New Testament practice of applying to Jesus what in the Old Testament related to Jehovah." 

J C Ryle - Let us the beginning of the Gospel was a fulfillment of Scripture. John the Baptist began his ministry, "as it is written in the prophets." There was nothing unforeseen and suddenly contrived in the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. In the very beginning of Genesis we find it predicted that "the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head." (Ge 3:15+.) All through the Old Testament we find the same event foretold with constantly increasing clearness. It was a promise often renewed to patriarchs, and repeated by prophets, that a Deliverer and Redeemer should one day come. His birth, His character, His life, His death, His resurrection, His forerunner, were all prophesied of, long before He came. Redemption was worked out and accomplished in every step, just "as it was written." We should always read the Old Testament with a desire to find something in it about Jesus Christ. We study this portion of the Bible with little profit, if we can see in it nothing but Moses, and David, and Samuel, and the prophets. Let us search the books of the Old Testament more closely. It was said by Him whose words can never pass away, "These are the Scriptures that testify about Me," (John 5:39+.)  (Commentary)


Any great work of God begins with great preparation. John wonderfully fulfilled this important ministry of preparing hearts. And as Ray Stedman remarks "the prophet Isaiah said John's message would be like a great bulldozer, building a highway in the desert for God to come to the isolated stranger in the midst of the wilderness. Without a road you cannot drive out into the desert in order to help somebody. You must have a road, a highway in the desert. John was God's bulldozer to build that highway. You know how roads are built -- exactly as Isaiah describes in Chapter 40. "Every mountain shall be brought low, and every valley shall be lifted up; the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places plain," {cf, Isa 40:4a}. That is what repentance does. It brings down all the high peaks of pride that we stand on and refuse to admit are wrong. It takes the depressed areas of our life, where we beat and torture and punish ourselves, and lifts them up. It takes the crooked places, where we have lied and deceived, and straightens them out. And it makes the rough places plain. Then God is there, at that instant of repentance. Beautiful imagery, is it not?" (The Place to Begin  Mark 1:1-8)

You (face, presence) (4383)(prosopon from pros = towards + ops = eye, the part around the eye and so the face) means literally toward the eye or face. This is a great picture of the ministry of John the Baptist -- right in front of the face of the Messiah! 

THOUGHT - John’s ministry was performed in the personal presence of the Lord Jesus Christ! But is this not in a sense true of all our Spirit enabled ministry for the Lord? Is not all we do, performed Coram Deo, before the face of God? And what a difference it makes if enabled by the Spirit, we will maintain this "Coram Deo" approach to everything, in these last days which are filled with variegated temptations and trivial trifles! 

Who will prepare Your (MESSIAH'S) way- This is the Father's promise to His Son that John would prepare Messiah's way. The "forerunner" would run before (so to speak) the coming King, preparing the way for the Way (John 14:6+)! Tragically few in Israel would recognize and receive Jesus into their hearts as their King (John 1:11-13+; Mt 21:42, 43; Mt 23:37; Lk 19:43,44+).  Hiebert adds that "The point of the whole quotation is that John’s preparatory ministry, in fulfillment of prophecy, authenticated Jesus’ Messiahship and prepared for the beginning of His official ministry as the Messiah. . . Roads in the East were generally poorly maintained. A coming king would send ahead of him a representative to assure that the roads had been adequately prepared. Spiritually, this was John’s advance task. He was to remove hindrances in the hearts of the people so that they would be ready to receive “the coming One.” (Paul Apple comments "Cf. work by advance team of Secret Service agents on behalf of the President.")

John records the Baptist's arrival on the scene and specifies the purpose of his preparing the way for Jesus "There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, SO THAT (JOHN'S ULTIMATE PURPOSE WAS THAT)  all might believe through him. (Jn 1:6-7+)

Prepare (2680)(kataskeuazo from kata = intensifies the meaning of + skeuazo = prepare, make ready) means to prepare, make ready, put in a state of readiness (Mk 1:2+). It is used of persons who are mentally and spiritually prepared - "make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Lk 1:17+). To build, construct, erect, create (Heb 3:3-4+, Heb 11:7+, 1 Pe 3:20+). To furnish or equip (Heb 9:2, 6+).  Kataskeuazo means to make, construct or erect with idea of adorning and equipping with all things necessary. Kataskeuazo was used in the papyri with reference to the visit of a Roman senator to the Fayum. Directions are given for his welcome; “take care that at the proper places the guest-chambers be got ready." (Moulton and Milligan) Kataskeuazo is used 10x - builder(2), built(1), construction(1), prepare(3), prepared(4). Mt. 11:10; Mk. 1:2; Lk. 1:17; Lk. 7:27; Heb. 3:3; Heb. 3:4; Heb. 9:2; Heb. 9:6; Heb. 11:7; 1 Pet. 3:20

Guzik - "We often fail to appreciate how important the preparatory work of the Lord is. Any great work of God begins with great preparation. John wonderfully fulfilled this important ministry."

Luke quotes from Malachi 3:1+ " -  “This is the one (Lk 7:26) about whom it is written, ‘BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE (kataskeuazo) YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.’ “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Lk 7:27,28+, cf almost identical passage in Mt 11:10-11)


A number of passages concerning John the Baptist can be somewhat enigmatic or confusing. So here is a good summary by William Simmons...

Apart from Jesus Christ, John the Baptist is probably the most theologically significant figure in the Gospels. As was the case with Jesus, his birth was meticulously recorded (Luke 1:5-25+). His entrance into the world was marked by angelic proclamation and divine intervention (Luke 1:57-80). John's birth not only parallels that of Jesus, but echoes the momentous occasion of the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:15-22 ; 21:1-7). John is clearly a pivotal figure in the salvation history of God.

Although his formative years were lived in obscurity in the desert (Luke 1:80), his public ministry ended nearly four hundred years of prophetic silence. John was that voice crying in the wilderness preparing the way for the coming Messiah (Isaiah 40:3 ; Matthew 3:3+ ; Mark 1:2-3+; Luke 3:3-6+). In this sense his message and ministry marked the culmination of the law and the prophets, but heralded the inbreaking of the kingdom of God (Matthew 11:12 ; Luke 16:16+). So John was truly a transitional figure, forming the link between the Old and New Testaments. He spans the ages with one foot firmly planted in the Old Testament and the other squarely placed in the New.

The central theme of his ministry was, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 3:2+). He was called "The Baptist" because his practice was to baptize those who responded to the message he proclaimed and sincerely repented of their sins (Matthew 3:1+; Mark 6:14; Luke 7:20+).

John was an end-times prophet. He conducted his ministry with an eschatological authority that demanded immediate action. He taught that judgment is at hand. The axe is laid to the roots and God will thoroughly purge his threshing floor (Matthew 3:10-12 ; Luke 3:9,17+). And the authenticity of repentance was evidenced in very practical terms: share with those in need, eliminate graft, and prohibit extortion (Luke 3:11-14+).

John's lifestyle was as austere as his message. He was an ascetic living in the wilderness, clothed in camel hair and subsisting on locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4+ ; Mark 1:6). Unlike Jesus, he expected people to come to him, rather than he going to them (Matthew 3:5).

John was no "crowd pleaser." He willingly confronted the hypocrisy of the religious establishment (Matthew 3:7+ ; Luke 3:7+). He did not hesitate to expose the immorality of Herod and chose to die a martyr's death rather than compromise his convictions (Matthew 14:3-12 ; Mark 6:17-29+).

All of these characteristics portray John as a fiery prophet proclaiming the apocalyptic message of God. Indeed, Luke says that John came "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke 1:17+) (ED: see Was John the Baptist really Elijah reincarnated? ). He goes on to allude to Malachi 4:5+, which states that Elijah will return "before that great and dreadful day of the Lord." In fact, some contemporaries of John inquired if he were Elijah (John 1:21+). The belief that Elijah would return and prepare the way of the Lord can be traced to Malachi 3:1+, Malachi 4:5+. Such belief is also found in the extra-biblical accounts of Sirah 48:10,2 Esdras 6:2 f. The Gospels also indicate that many believed that Elijah would come first, and then the Christ (Matthew 11:14 ; 17:10 ; Mark 6:15 ; 9:11 ; Luke 9:8+). John flatly denied that he was Elijah reincarnated (John 1:21,25+). Nevertheless Jesus affirmed that Elijah must come first and that he had come in the person of John the Baptist (Matthew 17:11-13 ; Mark 9:12-13). John fulfilled Malachi's prophecy in a spiritual sense, rather than in a literal way.

ADDITIONAL NOTE ON JOHN'S RELATION TO ELIJAH FROM JOHN MACARTHUR - The question about his being Elijah introduces some important truth. At every orthodox Passover ceremony even today a cup is reserved at the table for Elijah. At the circumcision of orthodox Jewish baby boys a chair is placed for Elijah. The anticipation is that, if Elijah would ever come and sit in the chair or drink from the cup, the Messiah’s arrival would be imminent. That belief is based on Malachi 4:5–6, in which the prophet predicts, “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”....The Elijah prophesied by Malachi was not to be a reincarnation of the ancient prophet. Rather, as the angel of the Lord told Zacharias regarding his son, John the Baptist, the prophesied forerunner would come "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke 1:17+). John would not be the ancient prophet come back to earth but would minister in much the same style and power as had Elijah. In that way, as Jesus had told the disciples at least once before, "[John] is Elijah, who was to come" (Matt. 11:14).Why then, some wonder, did John himself disclaim being Elijah? When the priests and Levites from Jerusalem asked him, '"Are you Elijah?'... he said, "I am not'" (John 1:21). He denied being Elijah because, though he knew of the prophecy of Luke 1, like Jesus, he realized the question was about a literal, reincarnated Elijah. And, though John did not share Jesus' omniscience, he doubtlessly also realized that the questioning of the priests and Levites originated from unbelief, not sincere faith. They were not interested in learning the truth but of finding a way to discredit John, just as they would later seek ways to discredit the One whose way he came to prepare. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew)

ADDITIONAL NOTE FROM HENDRIKSEN on the meaning of in the Spirit and power of Elijah asking "Does this mean that John was Elijah? The answer is both "No" and "Yes." Not literally, as is clear from the fact that when John was asked, "Are you Elijah?" he truthfully answered, "I am not" (John 1:21+). But figuratively, so that Jesus even calls him Elijah (Mt. 11:13, 14; cf. Mt 17:12; Mark 9:12, 13). The solution is given here in Luke 1:17+: The "spirit and power of Elijah" was going to be clearly displayed in John the Baptist. Cf. Elijah's boldness, "I have not troubled Israel but you [Ahab] have" (1 Ki 18:18), with the Baptist's (Mt. 14:4), "It isn't right for you [Herod Antipas] to have her [your brother Philip's wife Herodias]." And see also Mt. 3:7+; Lk 3:7+, Lk 3:19+. (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke)

In this way Jesus acknowledges the central role that John played in God's plan of salvation. He was the greatest born among women because he had the privilege of pointing to the Lamb of God (John 1:29-34+). Yet as the last great prophet of the pre-Christian era, he was the least in the kingdom of God (Matthew 11:11 ; Luke 7:28+).

John fully accepted his subordinate role to Christ. He denied that he was the Christ and repeatedly emphasized that he was simply a witness to the Light (John 1:19-23+; cf. also John 1:6-9+ ; John 3:27-30+ ). John stated that Jesus was greater than he, and that Jesus had a more powerful ministry and baptism (Mark 1:7-8 ; Luke 3:16+ ; John 1:26-27+). He did not want to baptize Jesus, but rather desired to be baptized by Jesus (Matthew 3:13-14). John allowed his disciples to leave his own leadership and follow after Jesus (John 1:35-39 +).

But for all of his greatness, John was merely human. In this sense he too joined in the popular speculations about the identity of Christ. It may be that John's vision of the Messiah varied so much from what he heard and saw in Jesus, that he came to question if Jesus were really the Christ (Matthew 11:1-2 ; Luke 7:1+). The fact that Jesus was not an ascetic, and that he actively sought the fellowship of publicans and sinners may have been an offense to John and his disciples (Matthew 9:9-17 ; Matthew 11:18-19 ; Luke 7:33-34+). Jesus may have rebuked John in this regard when he said, "Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me" (Matthew 11:6 ; Luke 7:23+).

Finally, even though John was merely a witness serving as a transitional figure, the impact of his life and ministry should not be underestimated. During his lifetime he had a following of disciples who shared common practices such as fasting and prayers (Matthew 9:14 ; John 1:35-37+ ; Jn 4:1-2+). John's disciples survived his death and spread throughout the Mediterranean world. Apollos was from Alexandria in North Africa and at one point knew only of the baptism of John (Acts 18:24-25 ). Similarly, upon arriving in Ephesus, Paul encountered about a dozen disciples of John. They too had only experienced the baptism of John (Acts 19:1-7). These instances indicate that the Baptist's movement may have had more influence than what we are able to glean from the New Testament....

In conclusion, John the Baptist is of great theological importance in the New Testament. He ended nearly four hundred years of prophetic silence and paved the way for the Messiah. In the spirit of Elijah, he preached a message of repentance and baptism. In his darkest hour he questioned if Jesus was the One who was to come, or whether there would be another. He inaugurated a spiritual movement that had influence long after his death and extended throughout the Mediterranean world. (Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)



Mark quotes the dramatic words of Isaiah 40:3 "A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God." Luke's Gospel gives the longer quote from Isaiah


The voice of one crying in the wilderness - Voice of one is a description of John the Baptist which alludes to his specific mission and the place where his mission was to be accomplished. John was not prepared by God to pastor a church, to write theology books, to compose religious music, etc, but was called to call, to cry out! The present tense indicates this was John's pattern -- continually crying out. John the Baptist was not whimpering, crying softly and quietly! He was crying out like the HERALD (see below) he was born to be (Lk 1:15, 16, 17+), as one who had a strong voice, a clear message and a Spirit enabled bold demeanor giving public witness concerning the Messiah Jesus Christ.  Imagine the Jewish people who walked up and heard John crying out this message at the top of his lungs! It would have been a striking scene. 

A T Robertson on voice of one crying - When the committee from the Sanhedrin came to ask John who he was, he used this very language of Isaiah (John 1:23+). He was only a voice, but we can still hear the echo of that voice through the corridor of the centuries.

THOUGHT - Just as God had a plan for John even in the womb of his mother (Lk 1:15, 16, 17+ and from eternity past) to be the forerunner to prepare the way for God's "invasion" of planet earth to accomplish redemption, so too God has a plan for your life. Paul wrote "For we are His workmanship (His "masterpiece"), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10+). Not our works, but His pre-planned works, prepared for us from eternity past! How foolish we are to seek to walk in our puny works when we could join God in His great work by walking in those works which He has prepared for us and prepared us for in Christ Jesus (cf Jn 15:5+)! In tennis when I used to hit the backhand, it was so satisfying to hit the ball in the "sweet spot" of the racquet and it flew effortlessly across the net. God has a "sweet spot" for each of His children and His desire is to fling them like that tennis ball into the lost world doing His good and acceptable and perfect will (Ro 12:2+). Are you in God's "sweet spot?" Don't you long for a sense of "divine destiny" a God given desire to be connected to something with a higher purpose, something "other worldly" (so to speak) rather than the worldly way of just surviving the "rat race?" Ask God and keep asking (Mt 7:7+ - ask, seek, knock all present tense = keep on asking, etc) until He reveals His purpose for your life. I was in my late 50's (and had been a believer for almost 20 years) before He revealed His plan for my life (or perhaps before He opened my eyes to see it!) and I began working on the website you are reading. Now I work on it daily and the only way to describe it is pure joy, made even more joyful when I receive letters from men and women who say they are beginning to learn how to truly walk with Christ enabled by His Spirit and are growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to Whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen (2 Peter 3:18+). Dear reader following in the footsteps of the Messiah, I pray you will soon find your "sweet spot" and one day in eternity future we can share wonderful fellowship discussing how God gave us the privilege to participate in His good works which brought glory to His Name (Mt 5:14-16+).

Crying (994)(boao from boé 995) means raise a cry, crying out loud with unusually high volume as a manifestation of feeling. John's preaching was undoubtedly passionate and full of emotion and feeling. He had been preparing his entire life for this purpose! And so he cried out from the depths of his heart in hopes that his message would reach the hearts of his Jewish hearers.  And lest we miss it, we should emphasize that John was simply a divine mouthpiece, so the One Who was really crying out to Israel was Jehovah Himself. Remember that Israel was the wife of Jehovah  and had gone astray from the Mosaic covenant, "My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD." (Jer 31:32+). Now after 400 "silent years" God was using His mouthpiece, John the Baptist, calling them "Return, O Israel." (Hos 14:1, Jer 3:14, Joel 2:12-13+). 

Wilderness (2048) see map of Judean Wilderness and also the note on eremos. (Used 9x in Mark - Mk. 1:3; Mk. 1:4; Mk. 1:12; Mk. 1:13; Mk. 1:35; Mk. 1:45; Mk. 6:31; Mk. 6:32; Mk. 6:35). In a way this word is a double entendre because John was himself in a literal wilderness crying and pointing out to the Jewish nation the way out of the spiritual wilderness and darkness which had enshrouded the nation of Israel for centuries.


Make ready the way of the Lord - Make ready is a command in the aorist imperative calling for his hearers to do this now and not to delay or procrastinate. Their need is urgent! As Wuest says "That was the character of the preaching of the Baptist. His was no pussy-footing, no beating about the bush, no smooth, oily, namby-pamby preaching. The Baptist was a man among men, and his preaching was straight from the shoulder." He is speaking figuratively of course and not calling for them to make a literal path but to make their hearts ready to receive the Lord Jesus.

Literally the idea was to fill in the holes, remove the rocks and debris and knock down the hills, to make the king's passage pleasant and easy. In this context of course the commands (make ready and prepare) convey a figurative meaning. So how were John's Jewish hearers to accomplish what he was commanding? John is calling for heart work! As Guzik says "Building a road is very much like the preparation God must do in our hearts. They are both expensive, they both must deal with many different problems and environments, and they both take an expert engineer." If we compare the parallel passages in Matthew, we see that this quote from Isaiah 40:3 followed John's call to the people to "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Mt 3:2-3+) It follows that the way to make ready the way of the Lord is by personal repentance! And ultimately the only way natural men and women could obey these supernatural commands was by being enabled by the Spirit (See discussion of the Need for the Holy Spirit to obey NT commands or "How to Keep All 1642 Commandments in the New Testament!"). 

ESCHATOLOGICAL THOUGHT - It is interesting that in the Last Days, at the end of the Great Tribulation (Jer 30:7+), the Jews will (belatedly) obey this call of John with national mourning and repentance, Zechariah 12:10-14+ recording "I (JEHOVAH) will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn." And at that time when Israel recognizes and receives her King, Jehovah goes on to declare "I will bring the third part (OF THE NATION OF ISRAEL) through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God (THESE STATEMENTS BY ISRAEL AND BY JEHOVAH ARE THE LANGUAGE OF COVENANT, specifically the FULFILLMENT OF THE NEW COVENANT TO ISRAEL AND TO JUDAH - see  Jer 31:31-37+)’” (Zechariah 13:9+, cf Ro 11:26-27+)

J D Jones on make ready - We are not to suppose that John was the only one who prepared the way. In a very deep and real sense all history prepared the way for Jesus. The Jewish nation, with its unconquerable hope of a coming Redeemer; the Greek nation, with its incomparable language; the Roman nation, with its system of law and its unifying of the peoples—all prepared the way for Jesus. And the preparation that we see on the broad field of world history, we see still more clearly when we concentrate our attention on sacred history. What is the Old Testament? It is just a record of how God had been preparing the way. Begin in Genesis with the first promise of the “seed of the woman” who is to bruise the serpent’s head, and read on till you come to Malachi with his announcement, “The Lord … shall suddenly come to His temple” (Mal. 3:1), and you will see how by means of prophet and psalmist and seer, God had been preparing the way. In this respect John only comes at the end of a long line. And yet John was in a very special sense our Lord’s forerunner...How did John prepare the way for Christ? By preaching the baptism of repentance. John’s preaching was terrible preaching. Sin was his theme, and repentance his call. And by this terrible preaching he made straight the way of the Lord. It was sub-soil ploughing. He broke through the hard crust of conventionalism and self-righteousness, and made the ground of the heart soft and ready to receive the good seed of the Kingdom. And it is noticeable that it was from the ranks of those who had been baptised by John that our Lord gathered His first disciples. John had created within them a genuine sorrow for sin, an eager expectation of Messiah, and so when Jesus appeared they were ready to leave all and follow Him.

Luke also alludes to John's mission while he is still in the womb writing "It is he (JOHN THE BAPTIST) who will go as a forerunner before Him (MESSIAH) in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Lk 1:17+NET Note comments that "These two lines (in Lk 1:17) cover all relationships: Turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children points to horizontal relationships, while (turn) the disobedient to the wisdom of the just shows what God gives from above in a vertical manner." 

Make ready (2090)(hetoimazo from heteos = fitness - see study of related word hetoimasia) means to make ready, specifically to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity. Mark's uses of hetoimazo - Mk. 1:3; Mk. 10:40; Mk. 14:12; Mk. 14:15; Mk. 14:16. This same verb is used by Paul who charges us to do some spiritual housecleaning that we might be useful vessels in the hands of the Lord "Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared (hetoimazo) for every good work." (2 Ti 2:21+Thayer says when it is used as here to prepare the way (hodos = road) of the Lord, it is used as a figure “drawn from the oriental custom of sending on before kings on their journeys persons to level the roads and make them passable,” thus, “to prepare the minds of men to give the Messiah a fit reception and secure His blessings.” The verb is plural and is thus addressed to Israel.

Lord (master, owner)(2962)(kurios from kuros = might or power, related to kuroo = to give authority) primarily means the possessor, owner, master, the supreme one, one who is sovereign and possesses absolute authority, absolute ownership and uncontested power.  Kurios is used literally 1000's of times in the Septuagint for the name Jehovah or Yahweh. 

THOUGHT - Edwards comments that "The imagery given in verse 3 from Isaiah 40:3-5 is also very pertinent for us. If Christ is going to continue His advance in our lives, then many things must be cleared away. The hills and mountains of pride and unrighteousness must be leveled. The valleys of things we lack must be filled up. Rough spots must be smoothed out until all which hinders us from reflecting God's glory is removed. Then our lives will no longer be a wilderness, but a highway upon which the King of glory may be clearly seen." 

Make His paths straight - Make (poieo) is in the present imperative, a command in the present tense and in the plural thus calling for this to be continuously obeyed by the people of Israel. As Wuest says this obedience "should be a habit with Israel, a constant attitude, not a formal. abrupt welcome and that is all, but a welcome that would extend on and on, an habitual welcome that would be the natural expression of their heart."  A T Robertson comments that "Automobile highways today well illustrate the wonderful Persian roads for the couriers of the king and then for the king himself. The Roman Empire was knit together by roads, some of which survive today. John had a high and holy mission as the forerunner of the Messiah." 

Straight (2117)(euthus) when used as an adjective as it is here in Mark 1:3, euthus literally means straight or a straight line and figuratively to what is proper or right. For example, in Acts 9:11 euthus described a literal roadway "the street called Straight (euthus)" which was literally straight through Damascus. The use of euthus in Mark 1:3 is figurative calling for "straight paths" (so to speak) in one's heart and life (cf Mt 3:3+, Lk 3:4+). Euthus is used again in Luke 3:5+ (quoting the Septuagint reading of Isaiah 40:4), where we read "the crooked (skolios - "crooked" lives) will be straight (euthus)" which speaks of heart change, moral/ethical transformation.  Euthus is also used as adverb meaning immediately which is a key word in the Gospel of Mark as evidenced by 11 uses in the first chapter!



Before long, friends will be asking, “Are you ready for Christmas?” For people of the Advent, there is more to that question than most of us realize. Throughout the history of the church Christmas has been referred to as the Advent of Christ. The word advent means “coming,” and there has never been, in the history of the world, a more strategic coming than His. The Old Testament heralds His coming, and John the Baptist fulfilled the words of Isaiah the prophet when he called Israel to prepare the way for the arrival of their King.

While He has already come and conquered, the celebration of Christmas is a perfect time to make a highway for our Lord in the confused and often difficult wilderness of our own lives. What better time than Christmas for us to focus on the gifts and profound grace that surround His coming and to “strike up the band” of our hearts to celebrate Him as our King; to renew our desire to make a way for Him in our relationships, wills, plans, hopes, and dreams.

And while we are thinking of Advent, it’s hard to escape the thought that He is coming back again and will once and for all put away sorrow, pain, failure, and confusion; and take us to His home, where there is joy forever in His presence. Advent people purify their lives to prepare for this glorious event (1 John 3:1–3).

The next time you are asked, “Are you ready for Christmas?” remember that being “ready” is about much more than your “to do” list. So set down those packages and that tangled string of Christmas lights. Fix your heart on the wonder of God’s visiting our planet, and remember that the tiny baby who entered the world so quietly on that first Christmas Day will one day come again triumphantly to take you home at last. What can you do to make ready the way of the Lord in the wilderness of your life? Be specific.

Mark 1:4  John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

WUEST  Mark 1:4 There arose John, the baptizer, in the uninhabited region, making a public proclamation of a baptism which had to do with a change of mind relative to the previous life an individual lived, this baptism being in view of the fact that sins are put away.

HENDRIKSEN Mark 1:4 So John the Baptist came, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of conversion (“of a complete turnabout in mind and heart”) for the forgiveness of sins

NET  Mark 1:4 In the wilderness John the baptizer began preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

GNT  Mark 1:4 ἐγένετο Ἰωάννης [ὁ] βαπτίζων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ καὶ κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν.

NLT  Mark 1:4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had turned to God to receive forgiveness for their sins.

KJV  Mark 1:4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

ESV  Mark 1:4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

NIV  Mark 1:4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

ASV  Mark 1:4 John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins.

CSB  Mark 1:4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

NKJ  Mark 1:4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

NRS  Mark 1:4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

YLT  Mark 1:4 John came baptizing in the wilderness, and proclaiming a baptism of reformation -- to remission of sins,

  • a baptism: Mt 3:1,2,6,11 Lu 3:2,3  Joh 3:23 Ac 10:37 13:24,25 19:3,4 
  • repentance for the forgiveness of sins : Ac 22:16 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

John the Baptist's Ministry - click to enlarge
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John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness (See Summary of John the Baptist above) - John the Baptist is not the best translation for the Greek reads more literally "the one who baptizes" (ho baptizon). In other words, John was identified as a baptizer! Baptist is not the same word baptistes used most often by Matthew as a title as in Mt 3:1+, but is the verb  baptizo which in the present tense (participle = "-ing" = baptizing) describes what John was doing, which was continually baptizing! Baptizing (and preaching) was his life! ESV, NIV, CSB, NKJV translate the Greek more literally as "John appeared, baptizing." The verb appeared means to arrive and is conceived of as his appearing or in a sense "coming into existence" in the wilderness. And so in keeping with Mark's style, he has John suddenly coming into existence so to speak, abruptly showing up on the scene in the wilderness.

Preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins - Preaching or better proclaiming is in the present tense depicting this as John's lifestyle, indeed his life purpose! He was fulfilling his role as herald of the coming Messiah. A herald had a message to announce by his lord and was responsible to convey the message clearly, accurately, and authoritatively. Hendriksen says "Now what was new and startling was not that he baptized, for the people were already acquainted with the baptism of proselytes, but rather that this rite, being the sign and seal (Rom. 4:11; cf. Col. 2:11, 12) of a fundamental transformation of mind, heart, and life, was required even of the children of Abraham! They too must be converted...a radical change of mind and heart leading to a complete turnabout of life." (Ibid)

Hiebert notes that “The baptism of repentance”—a baptism characterized by repentance. His baptism was not intended to induce repentance but rather was administered to those who were repentant (cf. Mt 3:7–10). Repentance is more than grief or regret for sin; it is a deep change of mind, an altered attitude toward sin which has its proper fruit in a deliberate change of conduct for the better. Their failure to manifest such a change in their conduct disqualified the Jewish leaders for John’s baptism. (Mark Commentary)

Wuest - Robertson quotes Broadus as saying that this is the worst translation in the New Testament. “Repent” he says, “means to be sorry again.” John did not call on Israel to be sorry, but to change their mental attitude and conduct. The word for “sorry” in Greek is metamellomai (μεταμελεομαι), and is used of Judas (Matt. 27:3). The word used here (metanoia (μετανοια)) means “a change of mind and thus of action consequent upon the realization that one has sinned and that sin is wrong.” Metamellomai (Μεταμελομαι) is sorrow for sin because of its evil consequences. This is remorse. Vincent, commenting on this phrase, says, “A baptism the characteristic of which was repentance, which involved an obligation to repent.”

Note that John's baptism in the Jordan River did not in and of itself result in forgiveness of one's sins (see comments by Bock, et al below). Paul explains this in Acts

"Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling (present tense = continually telling) the people to believe (pisteuo) in Him Who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” (Acts 19:4+)

And so as John baptized the Jews, he was also continually telling them they must believe in Jesus and (by implication) not in the physical act of baptism. They were not to put their faith in the fact that they were physically, literally baptized but were to put their FAITH in the MESSIAH, Who Alone could save them from their sins. Cp Mk 1:7+, Lu 3:16+. As best I can discern, none of the synoptic accounts give us a record of any Jews who repented, then believed in Jesus and were saved. This has always confused me but Darrell Bock (see below) gives a relatively satisfying explanation of what transpired at John's baptism of repentance.

Preaching (proclaiming, heralding) (2784)(kerusso from kerux/keryx = a herald = messenger vested with public authority who conveyed the official messages of kings, magistrates, princes, military commanders, or who gave a public summons or demand; kerugma =  thing preached) means to proclaim (publicly) or to herald or act as a public crier - the town official who would make a proclamation in a public gathering.  Kerusso was used of the official whose duty it was to proclaim loudly and extensively the coming of an earthly king, even as our gospel is to clearly announce the coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16+)!  Kerusso is used frequently by Mark - Mk. 1:4; Mk. 1:7; Mk. 1:14; Mk. 1:38; Mk. 1:39; Mk. 1:45; Mk. 3:14; Mk. 5:20; Mk. 6:12; Mk. 7:36; Mk. 13:10; Mk. 14:9; Mk. 16:15; Mk. 16:20;  Thayer says, kerusso always means preaching "with a suggestion of formality, gravity, and authority which must be listened to and obeyed.”

Certain qualities were required of heralds. They must have powerful voices, so voice auditions were often held. Also they had to be capable of calming down an unruly mob, in order to faithfully communicate the command. An honest disposition was also required, as a protection against the exaggeration of a royal decree. Furthermore, they could make no additions or subtractions from the received message. Later these heralds were also used to declare the message of a Greek deity or a religious oracle.

The Imperial Herald would enter a town in behalf of the Emperor, and make a public proclamation of the message which his Sovereign ordered him to give, doing so with such formality, gravity, and authority as to emphasize that the message must be heeded! (Think about this in regard to the Gospel of God instead of the decree of a man! cf 1Th 2:13+). He gave the people exactly what the Emperor bade him give, nothing more, nothing less. He did not dare add to the message or take away from it.

Wuest - The English word “preach” brings to our mind, a minister of the gospel in his pulpit expounding the Word of God. But the word Mark uses here, pictures John as a herald with an official proclamation from a coming King, the Messiah of Israel. He acted as one, making a public proclamation of the news of the advent of the Messiah with such formality, gravity, and authority as must be listened to and obeyed. The coming of the forerunner and then of the King, had to Israel the atmosphere of the words kērussō (κηρυσσω) and kērux (κηρυξ) about them (Matt. 21:1–11).

Baptism (908)(baptisma from bapto = dip as in dye to color) is the result of the act of dipping, plunging, immersing, washing. something or someone. The suffix -ma indicates the result of dipping or sinking or baptizing while baptismos is the act of baptizing.BDAG - (1) Ceremonious use of water for purpose of renewing or establishing a relationship with God. (2) An extraordinary experience akin to an initiatory purification rite - a plunge, a baptism. Metaphor of martyrdom ( Mk 10:38-39; Lk 12:50+; Mt 20:22f).  Mark uses baptisma 4x -- Mk. 1:4; Mk. 10:38; Mk. 10:39; Mk. 11:30

Repentance (3341)(metanoia from meta = after + noéo = to understand) literally means "afterthought" or "to think after" and implies a change of mind. From the NT uses, it is clear that metanoia means much more than merely a change of mind but also includes a complete change of heart attitude and a result a full "about face" change in direction of one's life. This is Mark's only use of metanoia, but he has 2 uses of the verb metanoeo (Mk 1:15+, Mk 6:12+).

 PRESBYTERIAN SHORTER CATECHISM: REPENTANCE is a saving grace whereby a sinner out a true sense of his sin and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ doth with faith and hatred turn from it to God with full purpose of an endeavor after new obedience.''

As discussed above, while John's baptism of repentance does not necessarily indicate that all who were baptized also genuinely believed in the Messiah, clearly metanoia is part of conversion for Jesus' teaches

I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (metanoeo), than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance (metanoia). (Luke 15:7+)

Bishop Ryle offers this descriptive definition of repentance - Repentance is a thorough change of man's natural heart, upon the subject of sin. We are all born in sin. We naturally love sin. We take to sin, as soon as we can act and think—just as the bird takes to flying, and the fish takes to swimming. There never was a child that required schooling or education in order to learn deceitfulness, selfishness, passion, self-will, gluttony, pride, and foolishness. These things are not picked up from bad companions, or gradually learned by a long course of tedious instruction. They spring up of themselves, even when boys and girls are brought up alone. The seeds of them are evidently the natural product of the heart. The aptitude of all children to these evil things is an unanswerable proof of the corruption and fall of man. Now when this heart of ours is changed by the Holy Spirit, when this natural love of sin is cast out, then takes place that change which the Word of God calls "repentance." The man in whom the change is wrought is said to "repent." (Repentance)

One of the best illustrations of genuine repentance is found in Paul's description of the saints at Thessalonica…

For they themselves (other believers in Macedonia and Achaia) report about us (Paul, Silvanus and Timothy) what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1:10-See notes 1Th 1:91:10)

In Acts 20:21+ Paul declares that he was "solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

C H Spurgeon wrote that "Repentance and faith must go together to complete each other. I compare them to a door and its post. Repentance is the door which shuts out sin, but faith is the post on which its hinges are fixed. A door without a doorpost to hang on is not a door at all, while a doorpost without the door hanging on it is of no value whatever. What God hath joined together let no man put asunder, and these two he has made inseparable—repentance and faith)

J C Ryle wrote… There can be no true repentance without faith. You may cast away your old habits, as the serpent casts off his skin—but if you are not resting all upon the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and looking to be saved by simple faith in Him, you may be wise in your own eyes—but you are just ignorant of the root and fountain, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, in all true gospel religion. You may tell us you have repented—but if you have not at the same time laid hold on Christ, you have hitherto received the grace of God in vain.

Related Resource

Forgiveness (859)(aphesis from aphiemi = action which causes separation and is in turn derived from apo = from + hiemi = put in motion, send) literally means to send away or to put apart, a letting go, a leaving behind, a removal.  Aphesis refers to a remission as when one remits (pardons, cancels) a debt, or releases then from an obligation. To release from captivity. Remission (see definition of English word) of sins means once and for all taking them away, removing the guilt, punishment and power of sin. And so to release one’s sins, is not just release from the ("legal" or forensic) charge and the just penalty of sin but also release from the power and dominion of sin (and in Heaven the release from the presence of sin and the pleasure of sin). And so we see that Wuest translates Col 1:14+ as "the putting away of our sins" (Wuest) There are 2 uses of aphesis in Mark - Mark 1:4, Mark 3:29+.

The picture of God "putting away our sins" or sending our sins away was beautifully illustrated in the Old Testament by the scapegoat being sent away on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur):

Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness. (Lev 16:21, 22+).

Sins (266) (hamartia) literally conveys the idea of missing the mark as when hunting with a bow and arrow (in Homer some hundred times of a warrior hurling his spear but missing his foe). Later hamartia came to mean missing or falling short of any goal, standard, or purpose. Hamartia in the Bible signifies a departure from God's holy, perfect standard of what is right in word or deed (righteous). It pictures the idea of missing His appointed goal (His will) which results in a deviation from what is pleasing to Him. In short, sin is conceived as a missing the true end and scope of our lives, which is the Triune God Himself. As Martin Luther put it "Sin is essentially a departure from God."

Ray Stedman asks "What is sin? Well, basically and fundamentally, sin is self-centeredness, that's all. We commit sins because we are thinking of ourselves, loving ourselves, indulging ourselves, looking out for ourselves, taking care that no one get ahead of us. That is the essence of sin -- self-centeredness. We are all victims of it. There is not one of us who does not struggle in this area. We find ourselves trapped in it constantly. That is the curse which hangs over our whole human race. We were made by God to be vessels to convey his outgoing love, to reach out with it to everyone around us. Somehow that has become twisted, so that now -- instead of reaching out -- we reach in, and we love ourselves first." And sin always produces guilt. Guilt is dislike of ourselves. We do not like the fact that we hurt others -- and we know we do. We feel responsible because we see the damage we do in other people's lives by our self-centeredness, and we feel guilty about it. We learn to hate ourselves to a considerable degree. That is why psychologists say that the great problem humanity wrestles with is self-hatred. Carl Menninger wrote a book, Man Against Himself, in which he documents that this is what we do. We hate ourselves. We do not like ourselves. We lose our self-respect. That is guilt. Guilt is always accompanied by fear, because fear is self-distrust. Fear is feeling unable to handle life anymore, being aware that there are forces and powers we are unable to control, and which eventually are going to confront us. We are not able to handle them, and so we run from them. Even in the Garden of Eden, as soon as Adam and Eve sinned they felt guilty, and they hid in fear. It has been the history of the race ever since. Fear looms up, that uncertainty about the future, and we become fearful, timid people, afraid of what will happen next. We are walking on eggs all the time, afraid of being accepted or rejected, afraid of what people will do to us -- and especially, finally, afraid of what God is going to do to us. That is an inner torment the like of which there is no equal. (Mark 1:1-8 The Place To Begin)

J C Ryle has a few words of warning regarding repentance - We must carefully bear in mind that no repentance can make atonement for sin. The blood of Christ, and nothing else, can wash away sin from man's soul. No quantity of repentance can ever justify us in the sight of God. "We are accounted righteous before God, only for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings." It is of the utmost importance to understand this clearly. The trouble that men bring upon their souls, by misunderstanding this subject, is more than can be expressed.

But while we say all this, we must carefully remember that without repentance no soul was ever yet saved. We must know our sins, mourn over them, forsake them, abhor them, or else we shall never enter the kingdom of heaven. There is nothing meritorious in this. It forms no part whatever of the price of our redemption. Our salvation is all of grace, from first to last. But the great fact still remains, that saved souls are always penitent souls, and that saving faith in Christ, and true repentance toward God, are never found asunder. This is a mighty truth, and one that ought never to be forgotten.

Do we ourselves repent? This, after all, is the question which most nearly concerns us. Have we been convinced of sin by the Holy Spirit? Have we fled to Jesus for deliverance from the wrath to come? Do we know anything of a broken and contrite heart, and a thorough hatred of sin? Can we say, "I repent," as well as "I believe?" If not, let us not delude our minds with the idea that our sins are yet forgiven. It is written, "Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3+)

Mark 1:5  And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

  • And all the country of Judea was going out to him: Mt 3:5,6 4:25 
  • they were being baptized by him Joh 1:28 3:23 
  • Confessing their sins: Lev 26:40-42 Jos 7:19 Ps 32:5 Pr 28:13 Ac 2:38 19:18 1Jn 1:8-10 
  • Map of ministry of John the Baptist
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

John the Baptist


And all the country of Judea was going out to him - While John was indeed in the wilderness, he was not a hermit or recluse, but was fully willing for the crowds come out to see and hear him. Why did John elicit such a response? As Matthew says in his Gospel the people "all regard John as a prophet." (Mt 21:26) And Israel had been without a prophet since Malachi, and so many responded because they knew that a prophet came with a message from God. Who wouldn't want to hear a man with a message from God? Little did they know that this message would be a call to repent from their sins! The country does not refer to the land of Judea but to the people of Judea as the context clearly shows -- it would be difficult for "the country" to go out to John if it were land. Country is therefore a figure of speech known as metonymy which is when one uses the name of one object or concept for that of something else with which it is associated (e.g., "I spent the evening reading Shakespeare." You read his writings not Shakespeare himself so you have used Metonymy is a figure of association.) The verb going out is imperfect tense which vividly pictures a steady stream of men and women going out to him. While we cannot know how many in Israel came out, some commentators have estimated that at least a million people came to see and hear him!

And perhaps John became a bit too popular for the likes of jealous King Herod. The Jewish historian Josephus writes "Now, when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were greatly moved by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise), thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death." (Antiquities 18.5.2).

Hiebert - "Although located in Judea, Jerusalem is distinguished from the province. This is a common practice in the Gospels." (Mark Commentary)

And all the people of Jerusalem - Although Mark says "all" this is hyperbole, but in any event indicates that this strange "hairy" prophet was quite the attraction and many journeyed from the city to the river!

And they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River - Were being baptized is in the imperfect tense which indicates that John was repeatedly baptizing Jerusalemites - one can picture them coming one after another! It would have been quite a scene! He was not simply baptizing all comers, performing a mechanical act, but was baptizing those who confessed their sins. Were they are saved? I don't think so, although those who confessed, repented and believed in Jesus were saved. Faith as always is the key that opens the door into the Kingdom of God. 

John Phillips comments "John's baptism focussed on repentance. John did not want proselytes; he wanted penitents. His baptism could not wash away sin, but his preaching could produce conviction of sin. Those who repented under John's preaching simply, and in a most public way, signified their repentance by being immersed in the Jordan. Cleansing would have to await the ministry of the Messiah."

William Lane has an interesting perspective on John's baptism in the wilderness - The summons to be baptized in the Jordan meant that Israel must come once more to the wilderness. As Israel long ago had been separated from Egypt by a pilgrimage through the waters of the Red Sea, the nation is exhorted again to experience separation; the people are called to a second "exodus" in preparation for a new covenant with God ... As the people heed John’s call and go out to him in the desert far more is involved than contrition and confession. They return to a place of judgment, the wilderness, where the status of Israel as God’s beloved son must be re-established in the exchange of pride for humility. The willingness to return to the wilderness signifies the acknowledgment of Israel’s history as one of disobedience and rebellion, and a desire to begin once more. (The Gospel according to Mark, New International Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974], 50-51)

J C Ryle addresses John's popularity in Israel and how great were the effects of his ministry at least for a time in the nation of Israel. 

We are told that, "People from Jerusalem and from all over Judea traveled out into the wilderness to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River." The fact here recorded is one that is much overlooked. We are apt to lose sight of him who went before the face of our Lord, and to see nothing but the Lord Himself. We forget the morning star in the full blaze of the Sun. And yet it is clear that John's preaching arrested the attention of the whole Jewish people, and created an excitement all over Palestine. It aroused the nation from its slumbers, and prepared it for the ministry of our Lord, when He appeared. Jesus Himself says, "He was a burning and a shining light--you were willing to rejoice for a season in his light." (John 5:35.) We ought to remark here how little dependence is to be placed on what is called "popularity." If ever there was one who was a popular minister for a season, John the Baptist was that man. Yet of all the crowds who came to his baptism, and heard his preaching, how few, it may be feared, were converted! Some, we may hope, like Andrew, were guided by John to Christ. But the vast majority, in all probability, died in their sins. Let us remember this whenever we see a crowded church. A great congregation no doubt is a pleasing sight. But the thought should often come across our minds, "How many of these people will reach heaven at last?" It is not enough to hear and admire popular preachers. It is no proof of our conversion that we always worship in a place where there is a crowd. Let us take care that we hear the voice of Christ Himself, and follow Him. (Commentary)

Were being baptized (907)(baptizo from bapto = cover wholly with a fluid; stain or dip as with dye; used of the smith tempering the red-hot steel, used of dyeing the hair; of a ship that "dipped" = sank) has a literal and a figurative meaning in the NT. The literal meaning is to submerge, to dip or immerse as in water. A study of the 77 NT uses reveals that most of the uses of baptizo in the Gospels and Acts are associated with literal water baptism. Mark uses baptizo 4x in this section (Mk 1:4, 5, 8, 9 - twice in v8). All of Mark's uses - Mk. 1:4; Mk. 1:5; Mk. 1:8; Mk. 1:9; Mk. 6:14; Mk. 6:24; Mk. 10:38; Mk. 10:39; Mk. 16:16

The Greeks used baptizo to describe the dyeing of a garment, in which the whole material was plunged in and taken out from the element used. Baptizo was used of the act of sinking ships. Baptizo also meant to bathe of a boat which had been wrecked by being submerged and then stranded on the shore. Figuratively, baptizo pictures the introduction or placing of a person or thing into a new environment or into union with something else so as to alter its condition or its relationship to its previous environment or condition. In this sense baptizo means to be identified with. In some contexts baptizo meant to wash ceremonially for purpose of purification (washing of cups - Mk 7:4, Lk 11:38+ = This custom before meals, prescribed by the Pharisees, was not required by the original Mosaic law. See Ritual Washing in Judaism). Jesus used this verb figuratively to alert his disciples to a coming baptism of suffering ("They [disciples] said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized." (Mk 10:39+). This describes them in a sense as “immersed” or “covered over” with suffering (cf Lk 12:50+)!

The baptism of John the Baptist was for repentance and was associated with John calling for the people to believe in Jesus (Acts 19:4+) (cf, Mt 3:6, Mk 1:4, 5). In Lk 7:29+ "When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John." This suggests that they were saved. Contrast those in Lk 7:30+  "But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected [atheteo] God’s purpose [boule] for themselves, not having been baptized [baptizo] by John." Note that it was not the fact that John baptized in water that they were saved but those who were in fact saved were saved based on their repentance and their belief in Jesus (Who was coming). Those who were genuinely saved  exercised faith in the truth they knew of Messiah (before the Cross), which is how all Old Testament saints were saved. (See comments by Bock and MacArthur below)

IDENTIFICATION - James Montgomery Boice helps understand this figurative meaning of baptizo writing that "The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be 'dipped' (bapto) into boiling water and then 'baptised' (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptizing the vegetable, produces a permanent change. When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism... mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with Him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!" (Bolding added)

Warren Wiersbe - When you read about “baptism” in the New Testament, you must exercise discernment to determine whether the word is to be interpreted literally or symbolically. For example, in Romans 6:3, 4+ and Galatians 3:27, 28+, the reference is symbolic (Ed: and figurative) since water baptism cannot put a sinner into Jesus Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can do that (Ro 8:9+; 1Co 12:13; see Acts 10:44, 45, 46, 47, 48+). Water baptism is a public witness of the person’s identification with Jesus Christ, while Spirit baptism is the personal and private experience that identifies the person with Christ.

Confessing their sins - To confess one’s sins, as they were being baptized, is to agree with God about them. John baptized no one who did not confess and repent of his sins. The word “confess” (below) is a compound word meaning “to speak the same thing that another speaks,” thus, “to agree with.” Thus, confession of sin is more than a mere acknowledgment of sin in one's life. It is agreeing with God as to all the implications that enter into the fact that one has sinned. It is looking at sin from God’s point of view, and acting accordingly (repenting of it!) -- putting away of the sin, determining to be done with that sin, something that can only be done in reliance on the Holy Spirit. Our natural man does not truly want to confess or repent. We have to submit to the energizing effect of the indwelling Spirit to give us the desire (to confess) and the power (to follow through) (Php 2:13NLT+).

Hiebert - “Confessing their sins”—confession of sins at the time of their baptism marked the reality of their repentance. The original, “confessing out,” indicates the openness and fullness of the confession. It was a public acknowledgment of sins, although certainly not in full, colorful detail. Confessing basically means “speaking the same thing.” They openly agreed with the divine verdict concerning their deeds. True confession implies our willingness to call our sins by the name that God gives them. (Mark Commentary)

Confessing (present tense) (1843)(exomologeo from ek - wholly out from or ex = out or intensify meaning [implies full, frank, open confession, openly or publicly] of homologeo - to say the same thing about from homos = same + lego = speak) means to speak the same thing that another speaks, to fully agree with someone else in this case agreeing with God that they missed the mark (sinned). 

Gary Hill - Exomologeo = fully agree, and acknowledging that agreement openly (whole-heartedly) for a particular outcome: confessing ("openly declaring") without reservation (no holding back)… Agreeing with God is everything! 

The question arises as to whether those being baptized by John were genuinely saved? The short answer is not necessarily. See the following explanations.

Darrell Bock helps us understand John's baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins

The final characteristic mentioned about this baptism is its goal. It is directed toward, (eis, for), the forgiveness of sins. This statement could be read to suggest that some type of total forgiveness and efficacy is found in John’s baptism that makes the experience one of “becoming saved.” However, this understanding reads back more into the event than the time of the event and the presentation of Luke will allow. John is a preparatory figure (Lk 1:17+ ="It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”, Luke 1:76–77+; Schürmann 1969: 154–57). He prepares a people for God. Most importantly, John says that his baptism is nothing compared to the baptism that the Mightier One brings (Lk 3:16+). So John’s baptism is a prophetic eschatological washing; that is, it is a baptism of promise that looks to the greater baptism of the Spirit (Schürmann 1969: 158–60). It points forward to the cleansing that comes to those who respond to Messiah’s offer with faith. This association of Spirit and cleansing was mentioned in the OT (Ezek. 36:25–27+; Zech. 13:1+). The washing in the Jordan adds symbolism, picturing either repentance (Isa. 1:16–17+; Jer. 4:14) or divine cleansing (Ps. 51:7–9+; Isa. 4:2–6+; Ezek. 37:23+; Jer. 33:8+) or, perhaps, both (Nolland 1989: 141). If there be any doubt that Luke understands John in this prophetic and eschatological fashion, a glance at Acts 19:1–10+ ends any such uncertainty. Disciples who know only of John are to accept immediately the baptism tied to Jesus. Acts 19:4+ makes it clear that John’s baptism is not complete in itself, but points to faith in Jesus (also Acts 13:24+). Thus, John’s baptism represented for its precross Israelite audience a commitment to a new approach to God resulting in a life of fruitfulness for God and expectation of the eschaton....In short, John’s baptism was a step on the way to the Promised One’s forgiveness. The repentance in view here will not only make one alter the way one lives, but also will cause one to see “the Mightier One to come” as the promise of God. To submit to this baptism is to confess one’s commitment to this perspective. This is the essence of John’s baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Baker Exegetical Commentary-Luke)

John MacArthur adds that

"while there were various ceremonial washings in Judaism (cf. Heb. 6:2+), there was no baptism of Jews. But while there was no baptism of Jews in Judaism, the Jews did baptize Gentile converts to Judaism (Gentile proselytes). Thus, those who “were being baptized by [John] in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins” (Mt. 3:6+), were publicly acknowledging that they were no better than the Gentiles. Their sins had separated them from the true and living God (cf. Isa 59:2) and cut them off from covenant blessings. For Jewish people to place themselves on the same level as the despised Gentiles was astonishing, and demonstrates the power of John’s preaching. Unfortunately, few being baptized by John were truly repentant. The nation would later reject Jesus when He failed to meet their expectations of a political Messiah, who would deliver them from the Romans. Others were superficial from the start....But those few (Mt 7:13–14+) who acknowledged their sinful condition and alienation from God and turned to Him in repentant faith were saved. (Luke Commentary)

Comment - While there were not many who were saved as a result of John's baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, there do appear to be some, and below are some examples to consider:

  • Acts 18:24-25+ records "Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. 25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John." (COMMENT: So either directly or indirectly he had been instructed by John the Baptist. From Luke's description Apollos was clearly saved. Unlike the disciples of John the Baptist in Acts 19:1-7 there is no evidence that Apollos needed to be re-baptized.)
  • Another possible example is two of John the Baptist's disciples, Andrew and John, who became Jesus' disciples. John records "Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples (ANDREW AND JOHN) heard him speak, and they followed Jesus." (John 1:35-37+) (COMMENT: So obviously Andrew and John believed in Jesus, although exactly when they truly believed is difficult to state dogmatically.)
  • In addition Jesus alludes to some who believed - "For John came to you ("the chief priests and the elders" - Mt 21:23) in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse (metamellomai) afterward so as to believe him." (Mt 21:32, cf Mt 21:25)
  • In a similar allusion by Jesus we read - “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves (Ryle = "they rejected God’s offer of salvation"), not having been baptized by John. (Lk 7:28-30+)

MacArthur on Mark 1:4 - Multitudes from Jerusalem, Jericho, and all the country of Judea came to hear John, to confess their sins, and to be baptized by him. By confessing their sins, the people agreed with God that they had broken His law and needed to be forgiven. But in the end, this revival proved to be largely superficial. Sadly, the nation that flocked to John at the peak of his popularity would later reject the Messiah to Whom his whole ministry pointed. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Mark 1-8)

John Martin - John’s baptism was associated with repentance, that is, it outwardly pictured an inner change of heart. The word “for” (eis) refers back to the whole “baptism of repentance.” The baptism did not save anyone, as is clear from what follows (Lk 3:7–14+). Repentance was “unto” (literal rendering of eis) or resulted in sins forgiven. Since John’s function was to be Christ’s forerunner, so also his baptism prefigured a different baptism (Luke 3:16+) (Bible Knowledge Commentary - Luke)

J. Oswald Sanders lists the following characteristics of the ministry of John the Baptist, characteristics that every believer should seek to imitate (cf Heb 6:12): 

1. GENUINE HUMILITY - true humility is not putting ourselves down but lifting other up. John's life was utterly oriented towards lifting up the person of Christ (Mk 1:7-8). "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).

2. BURNING CONVICTIONS - an opinion is something we hold, a conviction is something which holds us. We may argue our opinions, but we must be willing to die for our convictions. John's convictions about sin, righteousness, and judgment ultimately cost him his freedom and life (Mk 1:14).

3. TRANSPARENT SINCERITY- The crowds saw something in John which was markedly absent in the religious leaders of the day - utter sincerity. "He was the burning and shining lamp" (John 5:35). At every turn he denounced hypocrisy and shallow commitment, and used his life to call attention to the person and work of Christ.

4. DAUNTLESS COURAGE - John's preaching was never warped by seeking the praise of men. When confronted by Herod, John's message never deviated - "It is not lawful for you to have her (his brother's wife)" (Matt 14:4).

5. RIGOROUS SELF-DISCIPLINE - His clothing, housing, and diet were a sharp rebuke to the soft and easy lifestyles of the religious leaders of his day. John's was a ministry which cost him, and we must not be deluded into believing that we can serve without sacrifice (Mal 1:6-8, 12-14; 2 Sa 24:24).

Gotquestions addresses the question of the meaning of John's baptism

Though today the word baptism generally evokes thoughts of identifying with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, baptism did not begin with Christians. For years before Christ, the Jews had used baptism in ritual cleansing ceremonies of Gentile proselytes. John the Baptist took baptism and applied it to the Jews themselves—it wasn’t just the Gentiles who needed cleansing. Many believed John’s message and were baptized by him (Matthew 3:5–6). The baptisms John performed had a specific purpose.

In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist mentions the purpose of his baptisms: “I baptize you with water for repentance.” Paul affirms this in Acts 19:4: “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” John’s baptism had to do with repentance—it was a symbolic representation of changing one’s mind and going a new direction. “Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River” (Matthew 3:6). Being baptized by John demonstrated a recognition of one’s sin, a desire for spiritual cleansing, and a commitment to follow God’s law in anticipation of the Messiah’s arrival.

There were some, like the Pharisees, who came to the Jordan to observe John’s ministry but who had no desire to step into the water themselves. John rebuked them sternly: “When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance’” (Matthew 3:7–8). Even the religious leaders needed to repent of their sin, although they saw no need of it.

Christian baptism today also symbolizes repentance, cleansing, and commitment, but Jesus has given it a different emphasis. Christian baptism is a mark of one’s identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It is representative of a cleansing that is complete and a commitment that is the natural response of one who has been made new. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross completely washes away our sins, and we are raised to new life empowered by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17–21; Romans 6:1–11).

With John’s baptism, a person repented of sin and was therefore ready to place his faith in Jesus Christ. John’s baptism foreshadowed what Jesus would accomplish, much as the Old Testament sacrificial system did. John prepared the way for Christ by calling people to acknowledge their sin and their need for salvation. His baptism was a purification ceremony meant to ready the peoples’ hearts to receive their Savior.

Mark 1:6  John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.


John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist - He was outfitted for survival in the wilderness—like a desert monk." (Barton) In the parallel description in Mark 1:6+ the verb "clothed" is in the perfect tense that indicates John's garb was not his occasional dress when he preached (like a pastor might put on a suit), but his permanent attire. He probably would not make the front cover of "GQ Magazine!" John's attire was in striking contrast to that of the religious leaders in Israel, whose flowing robes reflected their great pride in their position and their desire to be noticed by men (Mt 23:5) Broadus writes that the "clothing of camel’s hair was a coarse cloth made by weaving camel’s hair, and such cloth is still often worn in the East by the poor." The wealthy of John's day wore girdles of costly linen or silk, often wrought with silver or gold. John scorned such embellishments preferring instead a simple leather beltA leather belt is referred to in the KJV a girdle of skin which "was a necessary and almost universal part of an Oriental’s dress (Mt 10:9,  Acts 21:11+), being required to bind the long, loose robe (Mt 5:40), in order to active labor, or rapid locomotion, and it was often very costly and showy (cp. Rev. 1:13). John’s girdle was made of leather, cheap and rude, as was Elijah’s, (2 Ki 1:8)" (Broadus) "A camel hair garment bound with a leather belt might suggest poverty in another context, but here it is suggestive of John’s prophetic role and stern message of repentance....All in all, John’s clothing and diet modeled the message he preached. He was unconcerned with the niceties of wardrobe and food (Mt 11:8, 18), and he called Israel away from preoccupation with such things and toward the Kingdom." (David Turner) As D A Carson said "Both Elijah and John had stern ministries in which austere garb and diet confirmed their message and condemned the idolatry of physical and spiritual softness.” (EBC) Undoubtedly John's father had told him of the prophetic pronouncement over his life and ministry that he would "go as a forerunner before Him (MESSIAH) in the spirit and power of Elijah." (Lk 1:17+).

THOUGHT - Would such an uncouth figure be welcome today in any pulpit in our cities? In the wilderness it did not matter. It was probably a matter of necessity with him, not an affectation. (Robertson) Also consider that some Jews undoubtedly came out of curiosity and heard a call to repent. Are unbelievers curious about your Christian lifestyle and values? As Peter exhorts the believers in his first epistle "Sanctify (aorist imperative) Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (1 Pe 3:15+, cf Ro 11:11NLT+).

John was in the mold of the powerful prophet Elijah -  

They answered him (THE KING OF SAMARIA - 2 Ki 1:1-7), “He was a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”  (2 Ki 1:8)

And his diet was locusts and wild honey - Click the locust above to make him big and somewhat intimidating. I wonder if John ate "kosher locusts?" Leviticus had put the stamp of approval on locusts declaring "These of them you may eat: the locust in its kinds, and the devastating locust in its kinds, and the cricket in its kinds, and the grasshopper in its kinds." (Lev 11:22+) One commentator says modern Bedouins still wear camel hair garments and eat locusts (grasshoppers). Honey is mentioned several times in the OT  (Gen 43:11; Exod 3:8; Deut 32:13; Jdg 14:8; 1 Sam 14:25; Ps 81:16; Ezek 27:17)

Broadus - The law of Moses (Lev. 11:22) allowed locusts, at least of certain kinds, to be eaten; and a treatise in the Talmud copiously discusses the marks by which ‘clean’ locusts might be distinguished. To eat these is still common in the East among the poor. The heads, legs, and wings being removed, they are boiled, stewed, or roasted, and sometimes dressed with butter. They are eaten both fresh, and dried, or salted. They are very different from what we call locusts. 

THOUGHT - And just in case you are wondering wild honey is basically devoid of protein, so John would have had to depend solely on his locust intake.  "The protein content in fresh weight is between 13–28 g/100g for adult locust, 14–18 g/100g for larvae, as compared to 19–26 g/100g for beef."  So let's say an average male needs about 60 grams of protein per day and the average locust weighs 2 grams which means John would have had to eat about 100 fresh locusts each day to achieve his minimum daily requirement for protein! 

Wikipedia on locusts as food - Locusts are edible insects. Several cultures throughout the world consume insects, and locusts are considered a delicacy and eaten in many African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries. They have been used as food throughout history. They can be cooked in many ways, but are often fried, smoked, or dried. 

Bruce Barton - BEING WEIRD - John’s appearance and lifestyle dramatically contrasted with the people of his day. He looked and lived as he did both out of necessity and to further demonstrate his message. Some people go to great extremes today to demonstrate their loyalty to sports teams: They buy jackets, license plates, ties, and collectibles. Since the days of the early church, faithful Christians have shown loyalty in many ways. Some have adopted clothes and eating habits similar to John’s. Some have tried to imitate Peter or other early Christian leaders. Today, with so much loyalty evident on any city block (just count the baseball caps), Christians need “caps” to show their commitment to Jesus. And the Bible suggests the most important emblems: attitudes like loving others, being hopeful under stress, and trusting in God for daily needs. Badges like these show others how faith in the living God makes a difference in your life. What loyalties does your life portray? (Life Application Commentary)

Related Resource:

Mark 1:7  And he was preaching, and saying, "After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals.

  • Mt 3:11,14 Lu 3:16 7:6,7 Joh 1:27 3:28-31 Ac 13:25 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


And he was preaching - Preaching is in the imperfect tense indicating over and over, again and again. John understood his purpose for existence and stuck with the divine plan for his life. 

THOUGHT - Do you know God's plan for your life? Paul writes of every believer that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. " (Eph 2:10+). So clearly our goal is to discern the "good works" Gos has pre-prepared for us to walk in! 

Preaching (proclaiming) (2784) see previous discussion of kerusso used 6x in chapter 1 - Mk. 1:4; Mk. 1:7; Mk. 1:14; Mk. 1:38; Mk. 1:39; Mk. 1:45

And saying, "After me One is coming who is mightier than I - John never sought (like so many do) to take center stage, but always pointed men to the only One Who rightly deserved center stage in the great drama of redemptions. This description is clearly important for it is repeated in the other synoptic Gospels (Mt 3:11+, Lk 3:16+Henry Morris writes that "From the very beginning of John's ministry, he was preaching Christ. Thus, he was surely the first Christian preacher and the first Christian prophet." 

Mightier (2478)(ischuros from ischuo = to be able) is an adjective which means strong, powerful, mighty (usually referring to inherent physical strength), able, forcible.Ischuros denotes places “stress on the actual power that one possesses rather than on the mere principle of power." It is notable that ischuros is used in the Septuagint to refer to God in Jer 32:18 which says "O great and mighty (Lxx = ischuros) God. The LORD of hosts is His name."  And in Jeremiah 33:3 He invites Israel to "Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty (Lxx = ischuros) things, which you do not know.’  Mark uses ischuros to describe the "strong man" in Mk 3:27+, who in context is Satan (or Beelzebul - Mk 3:22), and the One Who binds him is Jesus Himself, which shows Jesus to be mightier than John the Baptist.

The apostle John records John's memorable words that parallel this passage “He must (dei = not "might" or "should" but in present tense must continually) increase (present tense), but I must (mandatory) decrease (present tense)." (John 3:30+)

THOUGHT - Note the ORDER is CRITICAL - I have heard so many say I must decrease so He can increase. That is not correct! It is not John first decreasing (or "humbling himself") but Jesus first increasing! When Jesus is magnified in our naturally prideful heart, we see our proper place as creatures in the immense shadow of our mighty Creator. The more we see Jesus lifted higher in our heart and mind as we read of Him in the Scriptures, the more humble we will become. The experience of Mary should be ours, when she said: "My soul doth magnify (make great, exalt) the Lord" (Luke 1:46+). Spurgeon wrote "As fades the morning star when the sun himself arises, so was it the joy of the herald of Christ to lose himself in the supreme radiance of his Lord’s appearing." O, to be able to imitate John's maxim in our lives! As Tozer said "John condensed into that one final sentence (Jn 3:30) the secret of his own spiritual greatness."

And I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals - To untie the thong was a task for a slave, so John emphasizes his inferiority compared to the Messiah. This is the first direct mention of Jesus by John. John's baptism was minor compared to what was coming from Jesus. 

Hughes says to untie the throng was "A rabbinic saying, dated after Christ but very likely contemporary to Christ, stated that disciples ought to do everything for their masters that a slave does, except for one thing—untie his sandals. That was simply too much to ask any Jew to do for another Jew. But John had it right in relationship to Christ. He affirmed that he was not worthy of doing the most personally degrading task for the Messiah. (Preaching the Word - Luke)

ILLUSTRATION -  I once heard E. V. Hill, the pastor of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, tell of the ministry of an elderly woman in his church whom they all called 1800 because no one knew how old she was. 1800 was hard on unsuspecting preachers because she would sit in the front row, and as soon as the preacher began she would say, "Get Him up!" (referring to Christ). After a few minutes, if she did not think there was enough of Christ in the sermon, she would again shout, "Get Him up!" If a preacher did not "Get Him up!" he was in for a long, hard day! Here John the Baptist's response to misplaced adulation was to "get Him up"—a noble task because it is the chief purpose for our existence....John was the greatest of all men, he was having the greatest of all ministries to date, multitudes were at his feet, but he knew that he wasn't worthy to perform even the humblest act for Christ. If we aim to "get him up," we need to "get ourselves down." (Kent Hughes)

Mark 1:8  "I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."​​​​

  • I baptized you with water: Mt 3:11 
  • He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit: Pr 1:23 Isa 32:15 44:3 Eze 36:25-27 Joe 2:28 Ac 1:5 2:4,17 Ac 10:45 11:15,16 19:4-6 1Co 12:13 Tit 3:5,6 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


I baptized (see baptizo) you with water - "John could only drench them externally with water; but One was coming that could drench them internally with the Spirit. In water baptism every part of your body is completely soaked. Thus when we are baptized/immersed into the body of Christ at salvation we are drenched head-to-toe with Him." (Bell)

But He will baptize (see baptizoyou with the Holy Spirit - ​John was a prophet for here he gave a prophecy summarizing the ministry of Jesus. See commentary describing the fulfillment of this baptism by the Spirit in Acts 2. John baptized them in the Jordan River symbolizing their outward confession of repentance. One can be water-baptized without being baptized with the Holy Spirit, and vice versa. Thus John's baptism would only be external if it were not accompanied by faith in Jesus. The Messiah's baptism however would be mightier, the result of supernatural power which could only be performed by God. Messiah's "baptism" would be an internal, for when one entered the New Covenant in Messiah's blood (Lk 22:20+), they would receive the gift of the permanently indwelling Holy Spirit (see Paul below). This had been promised in the OT in Ezekiel 36:27+

“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes (God's part), and you will be careful to observe My ordinances (Man's responsibility, only possible as enabled by God's Spirit)..

Paul writes 

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1Co 12:13)

And to be clear, as Paul also taught EVERY believer today has received the Holy Spirit and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit contrary to what some falsely teach. Here is what Paul taught, so it is best to believe Paul then to believe false teachers!

Romans 8:9+ However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

Comment: Could Paul be any clearer? If a person does not have the indwelling Spirit, he or she is absolutely not a genuine believer in Jesus Christ. This should settle all arguments about who has and who does not have the Holy Spirit! 

In Matthew 3:11+ John adds that

"He (JESUS) will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." 

Comment - See commentary on Luke 3:16+ for interpretation of the phrase "with fire." 

J C Ryle -  Let us observe, in the last place, what clear doctrine characterized John the Baptist's preaching. He exalted CHRIST--"There comes one mightier than I after me." He spoke plainly of the HOLY SPIRIT--"He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit." These truths had never been so plainly proclaimed before by mortal man. More important truths than these are not to be found in the whole system of Christianity at this day. The principal work of every faithful minister of the Gospel, is to set the Lord Jesus fully before His people, and to show them His fullness and His power to save. The next great work He has to do, is to set before them the work of the Holy Spirit, and the need of being born again, and inwardly baptized by His grace. These two mighty truths appear to have been frequently on the lips of John the Baptist. It would be well for the church and the world, if there were more ministers like him. Let us ask ourselves, as we leave the passage,

  • "How much we know by practical experience of the truths which John preached?"
  • What do we think of Christ?
  • Have we felt our need of Him, and fled to Him for peace?
  • Is He king over our hearts, and all things to our souls?
  • What do we think of the Holy Spirit?
  • Has He wrought a saving work in our hearts?
  • Has He renewed and changed them?
  • Has He made us partakers of the Divine nature?
  • Life or death depend on our answer to these questions. "And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." (Ro 8:9+) (Commentary)

Question: What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Answer: The baptism of the Holy Spirit may be defined as that work whereby the Spirit of God places the believer into union with Christ and into union with other believers in the body of Christ at the moment of salvation. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was predicted by John the Baptist (Mark 1:8) and by Jesus before He ascended to heaven: “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4); for the first time, people were permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and the church had begun.

First Corinthians 12:12–13 is the central passage in the Bible regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit: “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13). Notice that we “all” have been baptized by the Spirit—all believers have received the baptism, synonymous with salvation, and it is not a special experience for only a few. While Romans 6:1–4 does not mention specifically the Spirit of God, it does describe the believer’s position before God in language similar to the 1 Corinthians passage: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

The following facts are necessary to help solidify our understanding of Spirit baptism: First, 1 Corinthians 12:13 clearly states that all have been baptized, just as all been given the Spirit to drink (the indwelling of the Spirit). Second, nowhere in Scripture are believers told to be baptized with, in or by the Spirit, or in any sense to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This indicates that all believers have had this experience. Third, Ephesians 4:5 seems to refer to Spirit baptism. If this is the case, Spirit baptism is the reality for every believer, just as “one faith” and “one Father” are.

In conclusion, the baptism of the Holy Spirit does two things, 1) it joins us to the body of Christ, and 2) it actualizes our co-crucifixion with Christ. Being in His body means we are risen with Him to newness of life (Romans 6:4). We should then exercise our spiritual gifts to keep that body functioning properly as stated in the context of 1 Corinthians 12:13. Experiencing the one Spirit baptism serves as the basis for keeping the unity of the church, as in the context of Ephesians 4:5. Being associated with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection through Spirit baptism establishes the basis for our separation from the power of indwelling sin and our walk in newness of life (Romans 6:1-10; Colossians 2:12). (Source:

Mark 1:9  In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.


Chris Benfield entitles Mark 1:9-15 "The Submission of the Servant,"

Mark 1:9-11 - The Affirmation of Jesus

Mark 1:9 - The Son’s Acceptance

Mark 1:10 - The Spirit's Anointing

Mark 1:11 - The Father's Approval

Mark 1:9-39

1. Jesus leaves his home town of Nazareth in Galilee. (Mk 1:9)
2. At the Jordan he is baptized by John. (Mk 1:10)
3. He is led into the desert for 40 days where he is tempted. (Mk 1:12)
4. After the arrest of John, Jesus goes north to Galilee. (Mk 1:14)
5. Inset: Near Bethsaida, Jesus calls Simon and Andrew, James, and John to follow him. (Mk 1:16-20)
6. They arrive at Capernaum, where Simon and Andrew live. Jesus preaches and does many works of healing—including healing Simon’s mother-in-law. (Mk 1:21-31)
7. From here Jesus first goes out into Galilee, preaching and casting out demons. (Mk 1:32-39).

Source: Nelson's 3D Bible Mapbook

R C Foster writes "The almost complete silence of the Gospel writers concerning the first thirty years of Jesus' life causes the reader to focus his attention on the first public appearance of Jesus. The scant but startling information furnished concerning the birth and infancy of Jesus and His visit to the temple at the age of twelve add profound emphasis to the question—How will Jesus begin His great work? What will be the first significant act which biographers will record?" (Studies in the Life of Christ)

J C Ryle - This passage is singularly full of matter. It is a striking instance of that brevity of style, which is the peculiar characteristic of Mark's Gospel. The baptism of our Lord, His temptation in the wilderness, the commencement of his preaching, and the calling of His first disciples are related here in eleven verses.  (Commentary)

Brian Bell

  1. He was prophesied by Malachi & Isaiah (Mark 1:2,3).
  2. He was announced by John the Baptist.
  3. He was commended by both the Father and the Holy Spirit. (Mark 1:10) 

Imagine John's reaction for he had been explaining that Jesus' baptism would be much greater than his, and now suddenly Jesus came to him and asked to be baptized! John in fact reacted "John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”" (Mt 3:14) 

In those days  - What days? In context this would be in the days when the ministry of the forerunner John the Baptist was fully active, "at the height of his activity." (Lenski) Hiebert adds "this rather indefinite time indication links this event with the preceding announcement by John of the coming Messiah." (Mark Commentary)

John MacArthur has a note that helps understand in those days - We do not know the precise length of John's ministry, but according to Luke he began preaching "in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee… in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas" (Mt 3:1-2). The best assumption is that it occurred in the year a.d. 29, quite a few months, perhaps nearly a year, before Jesus' baptism. John also continued to preach for a while afterward, causing his ministry to be ending as Jesus' ministry was beginning. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew)

Jesus came   - The verb came is in the active voice which indicates that Jesus came of His own volition, a conscious act of His will. Jesus voluntarily entered into His Messianic role as redeemer of mankind, leaving His prior private life and stepping fully into the spotlight of public life. Luke adds that "When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age." (Lk 3:23+).

So for 30 years, the “self emptied One” was just one of the people. Indistinguishable from other men; undiscovered as to any deep secret of personality, or any profound anointing for service. He had a most common names of the day Joshua. No halo round his head. Nothing strange about Him. He was one of the crowd, a man among men. He has now lived over 10,000 busy days on planet earth. An ordinary workman, honing His craft, mastering His tools, meeting carpentry deadlines. Bearing ordinary human responsibilities & entering into ordinary human experiences. (Brian Bell)

From Nazareth in Galilee (See another map which shows Jerusalem or here) - The implication is that Nazareth had been his residence up to this time. It is notable that Nazareth was an obscure village, never mentioned in the Old Testament, Josephus, or the Talmud. Mark adds in Galilee which would help his non-Jewish readers understand where this obscure village was located.

Hiebert adds that in Galilee "indicates that Mark’s readers would not readily know where Nazareth was located, although it was well known among the early Christians that Jesus came from Nazareth. This is further evidence that Mark wrote for non-Palestinian readers." (Mark Commentary)

Matthew gives us more detail 

Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan (see map of Jordan River) coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”(Matthew 3:13-17)

Jesus (2424)(Iesous) is transliteration of the Greek Iesous, which in turn is the transliteration of the Hebrew name Yehoshua or Yeshua which mean Jehovah is help or Jehovah is salvation. Stated another way the Greek Iesous corresponds to the OT Yehoshua which is contracted as Yeshua. Jesus is used 7x in chapter 1 - Mark 1:1 Mark 1:9 Mark 1:14 Mark 1:17 Mark 1:24 Mark 1:25 Mark 1:45

And was baptized by John in the Jordan - Jesus was sinless so His baptism was not for sin, but was an act of obedience to the sovereign plan of God (See note on Mt 3:15 for interpretations of why Jesus sought to be baptized). See Map of Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist.

Keep in mind the idea of baptism conveying the picture of identification as you see Jesus willingly receive baptism, in effect willing to "identify" with sinners. Indeed, He Who knew no sin would be fully identified with sin (man's sin) on the Cross. As Paul wrote the Father "made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Cor 5:21+, 1 Jn 3:5+)

Spurgeon rightly said, "Remember, Christ was not a deified man, neither was he a humanized god. He was perfectly God and at the same time perfectly man." The baptism of the Lord Jesus demonstrated He was the Kinsman-Redeemer (Goel) Who would identify with sinful men and women, without implying that He himself was a sinner. 

Lenski adds "Jesus was baptized by John because he regarded this as the right way in which to enter upon his great office. He, the Sinless One, the very Son of God, chose to put himself by the side of all the sinful ones, for whom this sacrament of John's was ordained. He thus connects himself with all of John's baptisms, for it is his mediation that makes these baptisms truly efficacious for sinners. In thus by his own baptism joining himself to all these baptisms of John he signifies that he is now ready to take upon himself the load of all these sinners, i.e., to assume his redemptive office. (The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel)

Brian Bell on why Jesus was baptized by John - He was sinless, He needed no baptism. But in is baptism He associated with us sinners and placed Himself among the guilty --- Not for His own salvation but for ours. Not for His own guilt but for ours. Not because He feared the wrath to come, but to save us from it. (Sermon)

John Broadus - Importance of Baptism: Not as carrying with it regeneration, or procuring remission, but (1) an imitation of Christ’s example; (2) an act of Christ’s own appointment Mt 28:19; (3) an oath of allegiance to Christ, ‘in the Name’; (4) a symbol of purification from sin through Christ, Acts 22:16; (5) a symbol of burial and resurrection in union with Christ, Ro 6:4+. (Commentary on Matthew 3)

A B Bruce makes an interesting observation on the meaning of Jesus' baptism - “In accordance with the symbolic significance of the rite as denoting death to an old life and rising to a new, Jesus came to be baptized in the sense of dying to the old natural relations to parents, neighbors, and earthly calling, and devoting Himself henceforth to His public Messianic vocation.”  (Expositor's Greek Testament - Matthew)

Chris Benfield on what Jesus' baptism signifies...

  1. The baptism of Jesus signaled the beginning of His public ministry. He publicly identified Himself as the promised Messiah, the One who came to redeem and save from sin.
  2. His baptism also publicly revealed His total submission to the sovereign will of God to provide the means of salvation for humanity.
  3. Also the baptism of Jesus stood as a profound picture of the Gospel message He would preach and fulfill. It pictured His death as the sacrificial atonement for sin and resurrection from the dead! (ED: WHEN WE BAPTIZE A BELIEVER TODAY WE USUALLY SAY SOMETHING LIKE "BURIED WITH HIM IN BAPTISM TO DEATH AND RAISED TO WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE." IN SHORT OUR BAPTISM PICTURES OUR IDENTIFICATION WITH JESUS' DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION ON OUR BEHALF.) 

Life Application Study Note - Theologians have long been troubled by Jesus’ allowing himself to be baptized by John. After all, this baptism was for sinners. Why, then, did Jesus do it? He did it because he is both God and human—he underwent baptism and even death as only a human could; he lived a sinless life and rose from the dead as only God could. This baptism by John in the Jordan River was another step in his identification with us sinful people; and the arrival of the dove signifies God’s approval. Now Jesus would officially begin his ministry as God’s beloved Son walking the dusty roads of Israel. When you are hurting, depressed, broken, remember: You have a Savior who understands your humanity. When you sin, remember: He has paid the price for your disobedience. (Reference)

Why was Jesus baptized? Why was Jesus' baptism important? -

Answer: At first glance, it seems that Jesus’ baptism has no purpose at all. John’s baptism was the baptism of repentance (Matthew 3:11), but Jesus was sinless and had no need of repentance. Even John was taken aback at Jesus’ coming to him. John recognized his own sin and was aware that he, a sinful man in need of repentance himself, was unfit to baptize the spotless Lamb of God: “I need to be baptized by You and You are coming to me?” (Matthew 3:14). Jesus replied that it should be done because “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).

There are several reasons why it was fitting for John to baptize Jesus at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus was about to embark on His great work, and it was appropriate that He be recognized publicly by His forerunner. John was the “voice crying in the wilderness” prophesied by Isaiah, calling people to repentance in preparation for their Messiah (Isaiah 40:3). By baptizing Him, John was declaring to all that here was the One they had been waiting for, the Son of God, the One he had predicted would baptize “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).

Jesus’ baptism by John takes on an added dimension when we consider that John was of the tribe of Levi and a direct descendant of Aaron. Luke specifies that both of John’s parents were of the Aaronic priestly line (Luke 1:5). One of the duties of the priests in the Old Testament was to present the sacrifices before the Lord. John the Baptist’s baptism of Jesus could be seen as a priestly presentation of the Ultimate Sacrifice. John’s words the day after the baptism have a decidedly priestly air: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

Jesus’ baptism also showed that He identified with sinners. His baptism symbolized the sinners’ baptism into the righteousness of Christ, dying with Him and rising free from sin and able to walk in the newness of life. His perfect righteousness would fulfill all the requirements of the Law for sinners who could never hope to do so on their own. When John hesitated to baptize the sinless Son of God, Jesus replied that it was proper to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). By this He alluded to the righteousness that He provides to all who come to Him to exchange their sin for His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

In addition, Jesus’ coming to John showed His approval of John's baptism, bearing witness to it, that it was from heaven and approved by God. This would be important in the future when others would begin to doubt John’s authority, particularly after his arrest by Herod (Matthew 14:3-11). 

Perhaps most importantly, the occasion of the public baptism recorded for all future generations the perfect embodiment of the triune God revealed in glory from heaven. The testimony directly from heaven of the Father’s pleasure with the Son and the descending of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17) is a beautiful picture of the trinitarian nature of God. It also depicts the work of the Father, Son, and Spirit in the salvation of those Jesus came to save. The Father loves the elect from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4); He sends His Son to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10); and the Spirit convicts of sin (John 16:8) and draws the believer to the Father through the Son. All the glorious truth of the mercy of God through Jesus Christ is on display at His baptism.

Matt Slick has an interesting thought regarding why Jesus received the baptism of John asking "Have you ever wondered why Jesus was baptized into John's baptism of repentance?

  1. Some say it was to identify with us; there is much truth in that.
  2. Others say it was to be an example; there is also much truth there, too.
  3. Probably the main reason that Jesus was baptized was because it was at His baptism that He began His ministry and entered into the Melchizedek priesthood so He could become the High Priest and be the Holy Sacrifice.
    1. Amos 3:7 "Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets."
    2. Exodus 29:1,4-7 "This is what you are to do to consecrate them, so they may serve me as priests:... (after offering a blood sacrifice) 4 Then bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and wash them with water. 5 Take the garments and dress Aaron with the tunic, the robe of the ephod, the ephod itself and the breast piece. Fasten the ephod on him by its skillfully woven waistband. 6 Put the turban on his head and attach the sacred diadem to the turban. 7 Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head" (NIV).
    3. Numbers 4:3 "Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work in the Tent of Meeting" (NIV).
      1. So Jesus was probably 30 years old when He began His ministry (ED: Lk 3:23+) . ( Reference)

Mark 1:10  Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;

  • Immediately coming up out of the water: Mt 3:16 Joh 1:31-34 
  • He saw the heavens opening Isa 64:1 
  • the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him Isa 42:1 Lu 3:22  Joh 1:32 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries



Immediately The Greek word translated “immediately” occurs in the Gospel of Mark more often than in the rest of the NT combined. The frequent use of the word stresses the importance of an event and helps to show that Christ’s ministry has a divine purpose and plan behind it. Swindoll feels this repetition of immediately throughout Mark's Gospel "keeps the knowledgeable reader’s mind continually looking ahead to the cross and the resurrection....(and it gives)  a sense that Jesus’ time on earth was short and that there was much to accomplish in His few years of ministry." 

THOUGHT - What would my Christian life look like is I had the Greek word euthus "stamped" on my eyes and heart? Would it make any difference in what I look at this next week, how many hours I spend watching mindless television shows or playing often times godless (even ungodly) video games, surfing the web (even landing in places my eyes should not land), etc? Would it impact how I use my spare time - for temporal tasks or eternal endeavors? If the Spirit were to make "immediately" my true mindset in light of the brevity of this earthly life and the length of my eternal life, would I spend more time reading, memorizing and meditating on the Word which will last throughout eternity? We need to live as if we truly believe Jesus' words "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Mt 24:35) John said "The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." (1 Jn 2:17) Don't you want to live forever? Don't you want abundant life even now? Then begin to live life with an "immediately" mindset like Jesus in this first occurrence in Mark. And then as you study Mark's Gospel, ask the Spirit of God to jog your memory banks and stir your affections EVERY time you encounter the word IMMEDIATELY. By Chapter 16 you will have trained yourself for godliness, Paul explaining that " bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." (1 Ti 4:8) Did you catch that phrase "holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come?" What we do TODAY has a ripple effect throughout ETERNITY. O God, grant all reading this, that by Your Holy Spirit, You would supernaturally enable us to begin to life daily with an "IMMEDIATELY MINDSET," which would bring great glory and honor to your Name, in Jesus' Name. Amen and Amen. 

Adoniram Judson, the great missionary to Burma, wrote "A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated through eternity… If it has been a useless life, it can never be improved. Such will stand forever and ever. The same may be said of each day. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever… Each day will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny (Note: Not in loss of salvation but of rewards - cp 1Co 3:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, Jn 15:5, 2Co 5:10+, cp 1Ti 4:7, 8+). No day will lose its share of influence in determining where shall be our seat in heaven. How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness! It will then be too late to mend its appearance. It is too late to mend the days that are past. The future is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, resolve to send the day into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone, indelibly marked. (AMEN AND AMEN!)(See page 33-34 of A memoir of the life and labors of the Rev. Adoniram Judson)

Immediately (2117)(euthus) when used as an adjective literally means straight or a straight line and figuratively to what is proper or right. The uses below will give you a good sense of these literal and figurative meanings of euthus.Euthus is used in Mark's Gospel as adverb to mean immediately, right away, at once. The use of euthus with the meaning of immediately is a key word in the Gospel of Mark as evidenced by 11 uses just in the first chapter! Mark has by far the most NT uses of euthus in the NT - it is used in 41v in Mark and 60v in the entire NT:

Mk. 1:3; Mk. 1:10; Mk. 1:12; Mk. 1:18; Mk. 1:20; Mk. 1:21; Mk. 1:23; Mk. 1:28; Mk. 1:29; Mk. 1:30; Mk. 1:42; Mk. 1:43; Mk. 2:8; Mk. 2:12; Mk. 3:6; Mk. 4:5; Mk. 4:15; Mk. 4:16; Mk. 4:17; Mk. 4:29; Mk. 5:2; Mk. 5:29; Mk. 5:30; Mk. 5:42; Mk. 6:25; Mk. 6:27; Mk. 6:45; Mk. 6:50; Mk. 6:54; Mk. 7:25; Mk. 8:10; Mk. 9:15; Mk. 9:20; Mk. 9:24; Mk. 10:52; Mk. 11:2; Mk. 11:3; Mk. 14:43; Mk. 14:45; Mk. 14:72; Mk. 15:1; 

Coming up out of the water - Jesus was ascending and the Spirit was descending! This phrase would also tend to support those who say the practice of Christian was by immersion (under the water). While I certainly favor full immersion, the mode seems far less important than the meaning, for we can spend so much time debating the mode that we lose the meaning of Christian baptism amongst all the trees in the forest! I was forced to baptize my aunt in bed after she accepted Christ as her Savior (I am aware "death bed conversions" can be suspect) and so I ask her if she would like to be baptized and would like to share communion, now that she understood what those acts truly meant. In any event, in the present passage Jesus was clearly in the water and not on the shore being sprinkled by John (although again I don't have a problem with "sprinkling") if the true significance of the baptism is understood. 

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Coming up (305)(anabaino) indicates movement towards a destination. The first use of anabaino describes Jesus coming up out of the water after baptism (Mt 3:16, Mk 1:10) and later Jesus "went up to the mountain" (Mt 5:1) in preparation for one of the greatest sermons in history (Sermon on the Mount). In Mt 14:23 Jesus again "went up on the mountain" but this time to pray to His Father and in Mk 3:13 Jesus "went up on the mountain" and named His 12 disciples. In Lk 9:28+ Jesus took Peter and John with Him as He went up to the mountain to pray at which time He was transfigured (Lk 9:29+). All uses of anabaino in Mark - Mk. 1:10; Mk. 3:13; Mk. 4:7; Mk. 4:8; Mk. 4:32; Mk. 6:51; Mk. 10:32; Mk. 10:33; Mk. 15:8; 

He saw the heavens opening - He saw describes an objective reality, not some impression in Jesus' inner consciousness! The heavens were parting (present tense which vividly describes the incredible process), being split apart like a garment (cf use in Lk 5:36+, King Hezekiah in Lxx of Isa 37:1 = "tore his clothes"). Humanistic rationalization speculates this was everything from flashes of lightning to clouds moving and exposing the sun. No, it was not natural but supernatural! God "tore" open the heavens! Imagine what must have gone through the minds of all those present to witness this dramatic event! Matthew 3:16 says "behold, the heavens were opened," and Lk 3:21+ ("while He was praying, heaven was opened") where opened in both cases is anoigo. The verb schizo used by Mark is more vivid than the other two synoptists and is the same verb used for tearing of the Temple veil from top to bottom (Mt 27:51, Mk 15:38. Lk 23:45+).

THOUGHT - Regarding Luke's note (Lk 3:21) "while He was praying" - John Trapp says "As he was praying; for prayer is the key of heaven, wherewith we may take out of God’s treasury plentiful mercy for ourselves and others.” 

Griffith commented that "Just as the veil of the Temple was rent in twain to symbolize the perfect access of all men to God (Hebrews 10:19,20+), so here the heavens are rent asunder to show how near God is to Jesus, and Jesus is to God."

It is interesting that the heavens were opened to mark the inauguration of Jesus' earthly ministry to accomplish redemption of mankind, while in Revelation 19:11+ the heavens are opened to mark the return of Jesus to accomplish His redemption of the earth (cf Rev 5:9-see commentary =  Garland writes "the redemption in view [in Rev 5:9] is both soteriological -- individual souls are reconciled to God and eschatological -- the original creation will be restored at last.")

OTHER HEAVENLY OPENINGS - As Stephen was about to be martyred he declared "Behold, I see the heavens opened up (dianoigo) and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56+) In Acts 10:11+ Peter "saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground." In the Revelation the apostle John writes "And I saw heaven opened (anoigo), and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war." (Rev 19:11+, cf also Rev 4:1+, Rev 11:19+)

It is interesting to note Isaiah's prayer for divine intervention, which some think will be the type of prayer that the redeemed remnant of Israel will be praying during the Great Tribulation days, the Time of Jacob's Trouble/Distress (Jer 30:6+). "Oh, that You would rend (Lxx = anoigo) the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence"  (Isa 64:1)

Opening (split, divide)(4977)(schizo gives us English schism) means to split, rend, divide. To separate or cause to separate violently or abruptly. Schizo was used by all the synoptic writers to describe the splitting of the veil in the Temple from top to bottom (Mt 27:51, Mk 15:38. Lk 23:45+). Schizo was also used of Jesus' garments  ( “Let us not tear it" = Jn 19:24), of the net filled with fish which "was not torn." (Jn 21:11). Schizo is used here in Mark figuratively of the heavens opening.

INTERESTING USES OF SCHIZO IN THE SEPTUAGINT - Schizo was used in the Septuagint (Lxx) in Ex 14:21 where " the waters (RED SEA) were divided." In the future when Jesus returns Zechariah prophesies "In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split (Lxx = schizo) in its middle from east to west by a very large valley...." (Zech 14:4+)

And the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him (see also related comments on Luke 3:22) -  Like is a term of comparison, specifically a simile and in this case describes the Spirit as visible in some sort of bodily representation. Alternatively, it could be describing the Spirit descending like a dove descends in the sky. However the fact that Jesus saw supports some sort of bodily representation. NET note says "This phrase is a descriptive comparison. The Spirit is not a dove, but descends like one in some type of bodily representation."

Whether the Jews present actually saw the Spirit like a dove is not stated. However clearly John saw this most amazing event for the apostle John writes

John (THE BAPTIST) testified (martureo = GAVE A WITNESS) saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit (IN OTHER WORDS THE SIGN JOHN WITNESSED WAS SUPERNATURAL PROOF OF JESUS' MESSIAHSHIP - JUST AS GOD HAD TOLD HIM).’ I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (Jn 1:32-34)

Comment - Note the description that the Spirit "remained upon Him." Was this visible "remaining?" There is nothing in the NT which would suggest that Jesus walked around with a halo or an aura or a dove-like glow over His head. The idea if that the Spirit's abiding presence was with the Man Jesus, continually empowering His ministry. This statement by John in essence fulfills the prophecy uttered by Isaiah... 

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him (Lxx = anapauo used figuratively here of the Spirit's resting in place, remaining -- anapauo is used in this same sense in 1 Pe 4:14+), The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2+) (Isaiah's point is that that He would be supernaturally energized by the Spirit!)

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; (Isaiah 61:1 quoted in Luke 4:18+)

“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.  (Isaiah 42:1)

NET NOTE - Isaiah 42:1–7 contain the first of Isaiah's "servant songs," which describe the ministry of a special, ideal servant who accomplishes God's purposes for Israel and the nations. This song depicts the servant as a just king who brings justice to the earth and relief for the oppressed. 

The question arises whether the Spirit descended while Jesus was still in the water? Mark's reading would suggest that is the case, but read Matthew's version "After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold (idou = calls for special attention to this event!), the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him." (Mt 3:16) The word "from" is apo which speaks of separation and thus it would support the interpretation that the Spirit descended on Jesus after He had departed the water. This is not a major theological high-water mark (pun intended), but it does bring into question the accuracy of paintings such as the one by Grigory Gagarin.

One other point - While the Spirit came on Jesus after His baptism, this in no way means that the Spirit comes upon men or women in association with water baptism. The Spirit comes upon (and in) believers the moment they are saved/regenerated by the Spirit, and this occurs when by grace they believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Faith alone saves a soul from Hell. The act of water baptism absolutely does not save a soul. However performing this act can deceive a soul into thinking they are saved if they have been instructed by someone they respect that they need to undergo water baptism in order to be saved. I was baptized 3 times, first as an infant, next after completing Lutheran confirmation (age 12), and finally at age 40 after I had personally received Christ as my Lord and Savior (about 3 weeks earlier). My third baptism was in essence a testimony and celebration of the redeeming work of Christ performed several weeks prior. It was a testimony that I had been saved by grace through faith.

Lenski on Jesus' baptism - The truth is: no new relation was established; what happened was an act of God, that great act by which he inaugurated Jesus into his mighty office of Prophet, High Priest, and King....We are not told what became visible when the heavens were suddenly opened as we are told in the cases of Ezekiel and of Stephen. We may say that the heavenly glory became visible, and that Jesus, John, and any others who were present beheld its radiance (cf Jn 1:32-34) (The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel)

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Descending (2597)(katabaino rom kata = down + baino = go, step) literally means to step down and so to move down or descend. Descending is the opposite of "ascending" ("coming out of the water"). Mark's uses of katabaino - Mk. 1:10; Mk. 3:22; Mk. 9:9; Mk. 13:15; Mk. 15:30; Mk. 15:32

The question is what is the significance of the Spirit descending upon Jesus? Did Jesus not have the Spirit indwelling Him? Of course He did, for Jesus always had the Spirit. So while there may be several answers, one that strikes me is that this event presents a pattern for believers to live a supernatural life. Spurgeon affirmed that “It was the Spirit of God who gave success to Jesus Christ’s ministry.” In short, the descending of the Spirit on Jesus demonstrates that from the outset of His public ministry Jesus is giving us His pattern of perfect reliance on the empowering presence of the Spirit to fulfill ministry. As discussed below, for believers to successively fulfill the "good works" ministry that God has pre-prepared for them in Christ Jesus (read Eph 2:10+, cf 2 Ti 2:21+), they need to learn the secret of relying wholly on the Holy Spirit! 

F B Meyer rightly points out the analogy - “What this scene was in the life of the Lord, Pentecost was for the Church. Then she was anointed for her divine mission among men; the unction of the Holy One rested upon her, to be continued and renewed as the centuries slowly passed.” (From "Behold My Servant" Isaiah 42:1)

Peter alludes to the significance of the Spirit in his summation of Jesus' 3 year ministry

You yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism (IN CONTEXT BAPTISM OF JESUS BY JOHN) which John proclaimed. 38 “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good (HOW? BY WHAT POWER? CLEARLY ENABLED BY THE SPIRIT) and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 “We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. (Acts 10:37-39+)

Comment - Anointed in Acts 10:38 is chrio which means to consecrate/set apart for sacred work as by unction. The idea is to assign a person to task, with implication of supernatural sanctions, blessing, and endowment. And so fittingly Jesus is also given the title of Christos (from chrio), also called the Messiah - Anointed One.  John uses the related word chrisma describing the believer's anointing in 1 John 2:20+ and 1 John 2:27+ which in context refers to our "anointing" with the Holy Spirit, this "anointing" occurring the moment we were regenerated by grace through faith. Have you ever considered yourself to be an anointed saint? You are! See interesting article 1 John 2:27, You are anointed of God and here is a brief quote to "wet your appetite" - "It is this anointing that opens your mind, teaches you, guides you, calls you to pray, empowers you, and enables you to be stronger Christians, more powerful Christians. Not just people who are saved, but people who are saved, indwelt, and empowered." 

In the schematic below Jesus came (incarnation and first 30 years basically in seclusion) and then came to the Jordan to inaugurate His 3 year public ministry (not specifically shown). The Spirit coming upon Jesus in essence "anointed" Him with the Spirit and with power to successfully carry out his 3 year ministry. Here was the perfect Man presenting us with the perfect pattern to imitate, even as John says "the one who says he abides in Him (CHRIST) ought  (MUST) himself walk (LIVE) in the same manner as He walked."(1 Jn 2:6+). How did Jesus walk these 3 years? Filled with the Spirit (cf Lk 4:1+) and with the power of the Spirit (Lk 4:14+). And so just as Jesus' relied wholly on the Holy Spirit for His supernatural ministry, so too all believers must rely on the same Spirit and same power (Acts 1:8+) to live a supernatural life for the glory of God. Note in the schematic when Jesus left (ascension after crucifixion and resurrection), He sent the promise of the Spirit from the Father (Lk 24:49+, cf Jn 14:16-17, Jn 15:26, Jn 16:7, Acts 2:33+) which was dramatically demonstrated at the Feast of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4ff+. Subsequently the reception of the Spirit and power is the experience of every believer at the moment of conversion (cf Ro 8:9+, 1 Cor 12:13). See more discussion of this critically important Biblical truth - The Holy Spirit-Walking Like Jesus Walked! and A Spirit Filled Church

THOUGHT - Are you trying to live the Christian life in your own (old) natural power, or the Spirit's (new) supernatural power? Are you attempting to fulfill your ministry in your power or in reliance on His power? The former leads to utter futility, the latter to unbelievable fruitfulness!

Click chart to enlarge

HERETICAL ERROR - Robertson says "The Cerinthian Gnostics took the dove to mean the heavenly aeon Christ that here descended upon the man Jesus and remained with him till the Cross when it left him, a sort of forecast of the modern distinction between the Jesus of history and the theological Christ." Hiebert adds "Cerinthus (c. A.D. 100), a late contemporary of John the Apostle at Ephesus, separated Jesus from Christ. He taught that the “Christ spirit” came upon the man Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary, at his baptism and empowered his ministry but left him before his crucifixion; it was only the man Jesus who died and rose again. Cerinthus thus rejected the doctrine of the incarnation and consequently obliterated the Christian doctrine of the atonement."

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Mark 1:11  and a voice came out of the heavens: "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."

  • and a voice came out of the heavens: Mt 3:17 Joh 5:37 Jn 12:28-30 2Pe 1:17,18 
  • You are My beloved Son: Mk 9:7 Ps 2:7 Isa 42:1 Mt 17:5 Lu 9:35 Joh 1:34 John 3:16,35,36 John 5:20-23 6:69 Ro 1:4 Col 1:13 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


And a voice came out of the heavens - The text does not state it, but clearly this is the voice of God the Father in Heaven speaking to God the Son Who has become incarnated as fully Man, even as God the Spirit has just descended upon Him. There it is as clear as day - THE TRINITY. Someone said of the crucial doctrine of the Trinity - If you try to understand it, you'll lose your mind, but if you try to deny it, you will lose your soul!. That saying may be slightly exaggerated, but the gist of it is absolutely true. A good modern example of those who try to deny the Trinity is the so-called "Jesus Only" movement (see below).

This is the first of three recorded occasions when the Father spoke from Heaven. The second was when Jesus was transfigured (Mt 17:5, Lk 9:28-36+), and the third was during His last week before the cross (John 12:28).

Jesus declared "And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. (John 5:37)

Luther wrote “Highest things. 1) The highest preacher, God. 2) The highest pulpit, the heavens. 3) The highest sermon: ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ ”

Guzik - In this God the Father also expressed His approval of Jesus’ life up to this point. “By the divine proclamation at the baptism God announced the presence of the King, and set the seal of His approval on the years already lived.” (Morgan)

You are My beloved Son - Note the fact that God calls Jesus His Son indicates that He Himself is God the Father. "God the Father loves God the Son, and communicated that love by God the Holy Spirit." (Guzik) In His declaration of divine love, God affirms that Jesus is His Son. Therefore Jesus is God. Folks say Jesus never claimed to be God (which is incorrect) but this testimony is as good, for it comes from the Father Himself. Jesus is God. Period! 

The psalmist prophesied of the Father's blessing of His Son...

“I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.  (Ps 2:7-8)

NET has ""You are my one dear Son; in you I take great delight." (Mk 1:11NET)

John Trapp on My beloved Son - “God so loved his Son, that he gave him all the world for his possession, Psalm 2:6,7,8; but he so loved the world, that he gave Son and all for its redemption.” 

J C Ryle - That voice was the voice of God the Father. It declared the wondrous and ineffable love which has existed between the Father and the Son from all eternity. "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand." (John 3:35+) It proclaimed the Father's full and complete approbation of Christ's mission to seek and save the lost. It announced the Father's acceptance of the Son as the Mediator, Substitute, and Surety of the new covenant. There is a rich mine of comfort, in these words, for all Christ's believing members. In themselves, and in their own doings, they see nothing to please God. They are daily sensible of weakness, shortcoming, and imperfection in all their ways. But let them recollect that the Father regards them as members of His beloved Son Jesus Christ. He sees no spot in them. (Song 4:7.) He beholds them as "in Christ," clothed in His righteousness, and invested with His merit. They are "accepted in the Beloved," and when the holy eye of God looks at them, He is "well pleased."   (Commentary)

You are - Note the verb  are is present tense signifying Jesus is continually God's Son. He does not say He "became" My beloved Son. There is absolutely no suggestion (as some of the cults deceptively propound) that Jesus BECAME the Son of God by experience or any other way. He eternally has been the Son of God. John writes "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." (John 1:1-3+)

The other synoptic Gospels record the testimony of the Father regarding His Son at His transfiguration...

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen (present imperative) to Him!” (Mt 17:5)

Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen (present imperative) to Him!” (Luke 9:35+)

THOUGHT - Note the addition of the command "Listen to Him" (calling for this to be a lifestyle) which would have been directed to the 3 disciples (Peter, James and John) who were with him. By application, this command should be obeyed by us today as His disciples! Are you listening to Him? Are you daily in the Word, so that you might hear His voice? Are you relying on the Spirit to enable you to obey the command? Or are you vainly trying to obey the command by relying on your own natural power? If so, you are destined to fail. Only as we learn to rely wholly on the Holy Spirit will we be enabled to successfully keep this command (and for that matter any of the 100's of commands in the NT!) See discussion of the Need for the Holy Spirit to obey NT commands.

Peter writes of the similar words he heard when in the mountain when Jesus was transfigured...

For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”– and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1:17-18+)

Beloved (27)(agapetos from agapao = to love, agape = unconditional love borne by Spirit - Gal 5:22+) means beloved, dear, very much loved. Agapetos describes the love of another, this love being called out of the "giver's" heart by preciousness of the recipient of the love (the "beloved'). Agapetos describes "one who is in a very special relationship with another" (BDAG) and in secular Greek is used mostly of a child, especially an only child to whom all the love of his parents is given (cf use by the Father describing His only Son and Abraham describing his "only son" in Ge 22:2).  In the context of the New Testament agape love speaks of God’s divine and infinite love, a love that seeks the ultimate spiritual welfare of the one loved.

NET Note on beloved Son - Grk "my beloved Son," or "my Son, the beloved [one]." The force of agapetos is often "pertaining to one who is the only one of his or her class, but at the same time is particularly loved and cherished."

The first 7 uses of agapetos in the NT are of God the Father speaking of Jesus, His beloved Son (Mt. 3:17; Mt 12:18; Mt 17:5; Mk. 1:11; Mk 9:7; Mk 12:6; Lk. 3:22+) and as Friberg says these uses describe "One not only greatly loved but also unique, the only one of a class." This usage by God to describe His only Son, the Son of His love, gives you some idea of the preciousness of the word beloved! This truth makes it even more incredible that believers are referred to as "beloved of God." (Ro 1:7+). It is so easy to forget this incomprehensible truth! 

In You I am well-pleased - Jesus is personally affirmed by the Father. 

Psalm 2:7  “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 

Isaiah 42:1  “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. 

Jesus' baptism is a clear example of the three members of the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Guzik notes that "Jesus was baptized so to be identified with sinful man, but He was also baptized to be identified to sinful man." So assuming there were Jews present to witness this event and to hear the supernatural affirmation from Heaven (compare the voice of the Father from Heaven in  Jn 12:28, 29 and Jn 12:30 “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes." indicating the Jews heard the Father speak from heaven in that context), this would have been strong, supernatural evidence to the Jews that Jesus was not just any man, but that He was God! So from the very outset of His ministry, there was evidence of His divinity, even while He clearly was fully Man. The fact that most of the Jews refused Him says a lot about the depths of depravity and anti-God attitude of their (and our) hearts! 

Well-pleased (take great delight)(2106)(eudokeo from eu = well, good + dokeo = to think) means literally to think well of and so to be well pleased, to take pleasure or delight in. To delight means to take great pleasure, to give keen enjoyment, to provide a high degree of gratification. Note that five of the first six uses of eudokeo refer to the Father's taking pleasure in His Son (Mt 3:17; Mt 12:18; Mt 17:5; Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22+; cf 2 Pe 1:17+).

John MacArthur has an interesting comment considering that Jesus had come to give His life as a sacrifice for sins (Heb 10:12+, cf Heb 9:26+) - "God had examined, as it were, His beloved Son, who would offer Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of those with whom He was willing to identify Himself. No imperfection could be found in Him, and God was delighted." (Matthew 1-7 Chicago: Moody Press)

J C Ryle applies this truth to believers today - There is a rich mine of comfort, in these words, for all Christ's believing members. In themselves, and in their own doings, they see nothing to please God. They are daily sensible of weakness, shortcoming, and imperfection in all their ways. But let them recollect that the Father regards them as members of His beloved Son Jesus Christ. He sees no spot in them. (Song 4:7.) He beholds them as "in Christ," clothed in His righteousness, and invested with His merit. They are "accepted in the Beloved," and when the holy eye of God looks at them, He is "well pleased." (Commentary)

L O Richards adds that well pleased means, "among other things, that Jesus was fulfilling the Messianic role to which God had called him. In contrast, God was not pleased with the sacrifices and offerings of the OT system (Heb 10:6, 8+). They could not be established in His purpose as a way to cleanse humanity from sin." (Expository Dictionary of Bible Words)

Related Resources:

HERESY - DECEITFUL SPIRITS AND DOCTRINES OF DEMONS - "Jesus Only" or Oneness Pentecostalism teaches there is no Trinity, just different "modes" but a verse like this shows how utterly ridiculous, foolish and deceived such a belief actually is! Is Jesus a ventriloquist, throwing His voice into the clouds so that it speaks words of affirmation to Himself? This shows how far some cults go to twist the truth of Scripture. What is dangerous about the Oneness Movement is it looks so much like the "real thing," and it is easy to fall into this cultish system! It is always best to let the Scriptures speak for themselves and in this passage a simple reading/understanding of the text shows that Jesus is not the Father and the Father is not Jesus. Could it be more clearly/plainly portrayed? I think not! Gotquestions adds "The "Jesus Only" movement, also known as Oneness Pentecostalism or oneness theology, teaches that there is only one God, but denies the tri-unity of God. In other words, oneness theology does not recognize the distinct persons of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It has various forms—some see Jesus Christ as the one God, who sometimes manifests Himself as the Father or the Holy Spirit. The core doctrine of Oneness Pentecostal / Jesus Only is that Jesus is the Father and Jesus is the Spirit. There is one God who reveals Himself in different "modes." As an aside a popular singing group in Christian contemporary music is named Phillips, Craig and Dean, a group which has apparently espoused teachings of the Jesus Only movement (See discussion of their doctrinal beliefs). The point is that in these "last days" every true believer needs to be a BEREAN (Acts 17:11+) who is taking in solid food (PURE MILK OF THE WORD - 1 Pe 2:2+) which is "for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil." (Hebrews 5:14+). 

Mark 1:12  Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness."

NET  Mark 1:12 The Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness.

GNT  Mark 1:12 Καὶ εὐθὺς τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτὸν ἐκβάλλει εἰς τὴν ἔρημον.

NLT  Mark 1:12 The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness,

KJV  Mark 1:12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.

ESV  Mark 1:12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.

ASV  Mark 1:12 And straightway the Spirit driveth him forth into the wilderness.

CSB  Mark 1:12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.

NIV  Mark 1:12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert,

NKJ  Mark 1:12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.

NRS  Mark 1:12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.

YLT  Mark 1:12 And immediately doth the Spirit put him forth to the wilderness,

NAB  Mark 1:12 At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert,

NJB  Mark 1:12 And at once the Spirit drove him into the desert

GWN  Mark 1:12 At once the Spirit brought him into the desert,

BBE  Mark 1:12 And straight away the Spirit sent him out into the waste land.

  • Immediately the Spirit impelled Him: Mt 4:1-11 Lu 4:1-4 


Immediately - The testing occurred on the heels of blessing. All three synoptic Gospels record the temptation of Christ and all three are "coincidentally" (aka, providentially) followed the baptism of Jesus and approval of the Father. God is showing us an important pattern for our lives. 

Principle - Notice the word “immediately,” which is one of Mark’s favorite words. There is no lag time between the triumph and the temptation.  You are never more vulnerable than when you’re coming out of a great victory. Sometimes (often) after we experience some of our greatest spiritual victories, we face our greatest challenges. Adrian Rogers said “Be prepared. As soon as God opens the windows of Heaven to bless us, the devil will open the doors of Hell to blast us.” That's a principle we find throughout the Word of God. First, the blessing, then the battle – that's always the way it is. Right after the moment of blessing is the moment of testing. Heaven had opened; now Hell opened. Satan loves to attack us when we think we are the strongest. "After a high time often comes a hard time; on the heels of a triumph, trouble often follows." God’s Word gives clear warning declaring “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). It therefore behooves all of us as followers of Jesus is to continually seek to be filled with His Spirit (Eph 5:18+) and walking by His spirit  (Gal 5:16+) so that we are spiritually alert to the wiles of our fallen flesh after we have experienced a "spiritual mountaintop."

Elijah experienced this. He saw the fire of God consume the sacrifice on the top of Mount Carmel. 450 prophets of Baal are put to death. He prayed and it rained for the first time in three and a half years. He outran the chariot of King Ahab. Everything’s going great. Less than 24 hours later, he runs away from Jezebel, he becomes depressed and asks God to let him die. He went from the mountain of victory to the valley of mourning. (Read 1 Ki 18:1-46, 1 Ki 19:1-4)

Immediately (2117) see preceding discussion on euthus) used 11x in chapter 1 - Mk. 1:10; Mk. 1:12; Mk. 1:18; Mk. 1:20; Mk. 1:21; Mk. 1:23; Mk. 1:28; Mk. 1:29; Mk. 1:30; Mk. 1:42; Mk. 1:43 (One other use in Mk 1:3 means "straight").

The Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness - Now the sense of that is not that Jesus was forced against His will to go out into the wilderness, but rather He was under strong compulsion to go out into the wilderness. And clearly this was the plan of the Father for Jesus clearly stated "I do not seek My own will but the will of Him Who sent Me." (Jn 5:30, cf Jn 5:19, Jn 8:28) The will of the Father was that the Son be tempted in the wilderness. What is the point of application to believers today? The Holy Spirit sends us into trials (or allows us to enter trials) so that we can learn to stand up to temptation and so that we will mature in our faith (cf James 1:2-4). When (not if) trials come into the believer's life, they call for a decision. Will I trust God and rely on His Spirit to navigate this trial or will I grumble and complain to the point that the trial becomes a temptation to do evil? Of course we need to emphasize that God may direct us into trials, He does not lead us into temptation, for James 1:13+ says "Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.". His goal when putting us into trials is that we might be strengthened spiritually.  "The devil tempts that he may ruin; God tests that He may crown"

Related Passages:

(Mt 4:1+) "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil."

(Lk 4:1+)  "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit (Wuest ="Jesus, in the control of the Holy Spirit"), returned from the Jordan and was (being) led around by the Spirit in the wilderness."

Impelled (drove) (1544)(ekbállō from ek = out + bállō = to cast, throw, drive) means to cast, throw out often with the idea of force (Mt. 8:12; 15:17; 25:30; Acts 16:37, 27:38; Lxx - Lev. 14:40). It is interesting that ekballo is used here of the Holy Spirit casting Jesus (so to speak) into the wilderness and then in Mk 1:34, 39 is used of Jesus casting unholy spirits out!  In another fascinating parallel in the Septuagint ekballo describes driving Adam who sinned out of the garden (Ge 3:24+Ekballo is used of casting unbelievers into outer darkness (hell) (Mt 8:12, Mt 22:13, Mt 25:30) and of Jesus driving out the moneychangers from the temple in Matthew 21:12. 

Ekballo in Mark -Mk. 1:12; Mk. 1:34; Mk. 1:39; Mk. 1:43; Mk. 3:15; Mk. 3:22; Mk. 3:23; Mk. 5:40; Mk. 6:13; Mk. 7:26; Mk. 9:18; Mk. 9:28; Mk. 9:38; Mk. 9:47; Mk. 11:15; Mk. 12:8; Mk. 16:9; Mk. 16:17

In the Septuagint ekballo describes driving Adam who sinned out of the garden (Ge 3:24), casting out Cain after killing Abel (Ge 4:14), Sara asking Abram to drive Hagar and Ishmael out of the household (Ge 21:10), of Pharaoh driving Israel out of Egypt (Ex 6:1, 10:11, 11:1, 12:33, 39), of casting disobedient Israel out of their land (Dt 29:28, Hos 9:15), of casting Jonah into the sea (Jonah 1:15), of the fish "casting out" Jonah on the shore (Jonah 2:10), casting out idols in that future day when Jesus returns in triumph (Isa 2:20 compare Isa 2:12, 16, 18)

Wilderness (secluded, desolate, desert) (2048)(eremos) when used as an adjective, normally describes places which are abandoned, desolate, or unpopulated. Mark's uses of eremos - Mk. 1:3; Mk. 1:4; Mk. 1:12; Mk. 1:13; Mk. 1:35; Mk. 1:45; Mk. 6:31; Mk. 6:32; Mk. 6:35. See also The Wilderness - R W Funk - Journal of Biblical Literature - Sept, 1959 (allows you to read up to 6 articles free each month)

Rogers - When Satan tempted Jesus, Satan said to Jesus in Luke 4:5, 7, after he showed him all the kingdoms of the world. He said, "All of this I will give you if you will bow down and worship me." Jesus never said to him, it's not yours to give. Jesus never did deny that it had been turned over to him. Jesus had another plan. Not to take the kingdoms from Satan by worshiping Satan, but to absolutely, totally destroy Satan.  What is he saying? He's saying, "They're mine! They were delivered unto me." How were they delivered unto him? Adam delivered them unto him. They were given to Adam. When God created Adam and Eve, God said, "I give you dominion." Adam and Eve gave that dominion to Satan, and Jesus never said to Satan, "Satan, you don't have that dominion." Jesus knew that it was legally lost, and it had to be legally regained; and, Jesus knew that He would suffer, bleed, and die upon that cross. But, in the meanwhile, to those who refuse what Jesus did on the cross, to those who are ignorant of it, or to those who rebel against it, they are still the pawns of Satan.

Hebrews 4:15+: "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin."

You say, "Nobody knows how I feel." Jesus was identified with sinners in His baptism. Now we see He was identified with sinners in their temptations. Jesus knows dear child of God, but He has been there. He was tempted. He was rejected. He was despised. He was cast off. Do we ever experience any of these things? Of course we do, and when we do and flaming missiles of doubt about the goodness of God coming flying into our mind, we need to take those thoughts captive and replace them with the truth about God that "We have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." This is another reason we should practice the discipline of memorizing, of hiding God's Word in our hearts! 

Related Resources: 

Hebrews 2:18+ For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

1 Cor 10:13+  No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 

Courson -   Why? Not to damage the car, but to show you what it can do. So, too, in driving Jesus to the wilderness, the Father was saying, “Watch My Son. No matter what Satan throws at Him, He will come through beautifully.” And the same thing is true of you and me. You see, only what the Father allows can come into our lives. Therefore, when temptations, trials, difficulties, wilderness experiences, hard times come our way, it is because the Father has allowed them in order to silence Satan’s accusation that you only serve God in easy times, and to show you off to a doubting world.

William Barclay - In this life it is impossible to escape the assault of temptation; but one thing is sure--temptations are not sent to us to make us fall; they are sent to strengthen the nerve and the sinew of our minds and hearts and souls. They are not meant for our ruin, but for our good. They are meant to be tests from which we emerge better warriors and athletes of God. (Mark 1 Commentary)

Related Resources:

Question - What is a Wilderness Experience?

Answer - A “wilderness experience” is usually thought of as a tough time in which a believer endures discomfort and trials. The pleasant things of life are unable to be enjoyed, or they may be absent altogether, and one feels a lack of encouragement. A “wilderness experience” is often a time of intensified temptation and spiritual attack. It can involve a spiritual, financial, or emotional drought. Having a “wilderness experience” is not necessarily a sign that a believer is sinning; rather, it is a time of God-ordained testing.

A “wilderness experience” is often linked to a “mountaintop experience”; that is, the struggle follows a success of some kind. The period of trial comes on the heels of a period of accomplishment or achievement.  There are several biblical examples of people enduring a “wilderness experience.” The people of Israel, in leaving Egypt, experienced a miraculous deliverance through the Red Sea. The triumph of finally being free from slavery was their “mountaintop experience.” Yet what followed was a journey through the desert. They were tried in an actual wilderness, and they failed the test. As a result, their “wilderness experience” stretched to forty years. Others who can be said to have had a “wilderness experience” include the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 19:1–9); the apostle Paul (Galatians 1:17–18+); and, of course, the patriarch Job 1:1-20, 21. Jesus also had a “wilderness experience.” After Jesus’ baptism, “at once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan” (Mark 1:12–13). Jesus’ experience teaches us some important facts:

  1. it is not a sin to be tempted;
  2. it is God’s will that times of testing come our way—Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” when He went into the wilderness (Luke 4:1+); and
  3. we are never without God’s grace—Jesus may have been “with the wild animals,” but “angels attended him,” too (Mark 1:13).

In a “wilderness experience,” a believer may struggle simply to survive from day to day. Financial, material, physical, or emotional burdens may press on him. The flesh cries out for relief. The believer is forced to wait on the Lord, find God’s peace and joy in the midst of trouble, and through it all mature in his walk with Christ. Paul offers this encouragement for those who “have this treasure in jars of clay”: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:7–10+). The reason for these trials, Paul says, is “to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (verse 7+).

The wilderness is an unpleasant place, fleshly speaking. We naturally want prosperity, health, and easy going. But the same God who created the garden also created the wilderness. There will be times of trial and pressure. Our faith will be tested. But the God of grace will meet us even in the wilderness. Missionary Amy Carmichael knew this truth:

Bare heights of loneliness...a wilderness whose burning winds sweep over glowing sands, what are they to HIM? Even there He can refresh us, even there He can renew us.” (Gotquestions)

Mark 1:13 And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.

NET  Mark 1:13 He was in the wilderness forty days, enduring temptations from Satan. He was with wild animals, and angels were ministering to his needs.

GNT  Mark 1:13 καὶ ἦν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσεράκοντα ἡμέρας πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ, καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων, καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ.

NLT  Mark 1:13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.

KJV  Mark 1:13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

ESV  Mark 1:13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

ASV  Mark 1:13 And he was in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan; And he was with the wild beasts; And the angels ministered unto him.

CSB  Mark 1:13 He was in the wilderness 40 days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels began to serve Him.

NIV  Mark 1:13 and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

NKJ  Mark 1:13 And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.

NRS  Mark 1:13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

YLT  Mark 1:13 and he was there in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by the Adversary, and he was with the beasts, and the messengers were ministering to him.

NAB  Mark 1:13 and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

NJB  Mark 1:13 and he remained there for forty days, and was put to the test by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels looked after him.

GWN  Mark 1:13 where he was tempted by Satan for 40 days. He was there with the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.

BBE  Mark 1:13 And he was in the waste land for forty days, being tested by Satan; and he was with the beasts; and the angels took care of him.

  • He was in the wilderness forty days: Ex 24:18 34:28 De 9:11,18,25 1Ki 19:8 
  • being tempted by Satan: Heb 2:17,18 4:15 
  • the angels were ministering to Him: 1Ki 19:5-7 Mt 4:11 26:53 1Ti 3:16 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Mark's account gives us very little detail so below are the other two accounts:

(Mt 4:1-11+) Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”  5 Then the devil *took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6and *said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’; and ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”  7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”  8 Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” 11 Then the devil *left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.

(Lk 4:1-13+) Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.’”  5 And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 “Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”  9 And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 10 for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,’  11 and, ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”  12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”  13 When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.

Kevin Zuber summarizes Jesus' temptations as "(1) Serve Yourself (Lk 4:3-4+); (2) Honor Yourself (Lk 4:5-8+); (3) Be spectacular (be presumptuous and prove Your self-importance; Lk 4:9-12+). Jesus countered each temptation with an appeal to Scripture (cf. Dt 8:3; 6:13; 6:16). These events proved Jesus was the right man, with the appropriate background, with the proper credentials, and with the desirable experience for the ministry He was about to begin." (The Moody Bible Commentary)

Appeal to physical appetite You may eat of any tree (Ge 3:1+) You may eat by changing
stones to bread (Lk 4:3-4+)
Appeal to personal gain You surely will not die (Ge 3:4+) You will not strike
Your foot (Lk 4:9-12+)
Appeal to power or glory You will be like God (Ge 3:5+) You will have all the world's kingdoms (Lk 4:5-8+)

And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan - Marks says "John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching." (Mk 1:4 ) so clearly this was not such a desolate place that he could not gather an audience to hear. On the other hand, Jesus appears to be in an uninhabited, isolated wilderness, which would have been removed from John's location. 

Dan Duncan poses a question many have pondered - Was this...a conflict that He could possibly lose? He was without sin, but was He able to sin? Was defeat a possibility?..The answer is no. Think of what has just taken place and the Father’s testimony, and I think that underscores the fact, because the father has just testified that He is His beloved Son. He is, to use the theological term, a theanthropic person. That is He is the God Man, two natures united in one person in a union in which the divine nature controls the human nature. And in that union, His divine nature could not allow His human nature to sin. In theological terms, this is called Christ’s impeccability. That is His inability to sin. It is impossible for Him to commit a sin. And that

Related Resource:

Forty days - The testing lasted forty days, but some commentators like William Barclay say this is not to be taken literally which is absurd! Of course it is to be taken literally. The number forty in the Bible is used for times of testing, times of probation, and times of preparation. Israel spent forty years in the wilderness. Moses spent forty years on the backside of the desert in training. The spies spent forty days spying out Canaan. The rains were upon the earth forty days and nights during the flood. So, the number forty is a number associated with testing. Forty days also reminds us of Moses who spent 40 days without food or water on Mount Sinai with the Lord before he received the Law (Ex 24:18; Ex 34:28). Elijah also went 40 days on the strength of the food given to him by the angel to Horeb, the mountain of God (1Ki 19:8). Both of these fasts and Jesus’ fast were miraculous events, because no man can go 40 days without food or water.

 It is not a sin to be tempted, but it is a sin to yield to temptation.

THOUGHT - When temptations to do evil come, they never come from the hand of God (James 1:13+). God never leads people into sin. He is in the business of leading us Away From Evil (1 Corinthians 10:13+). However, He will send us into periods of testing. He does this, not to cause us to fail, but to help us grow in the Lord. He knows that we do our best growing when the pressure is on. God will not send you into a time of temptation to sin, but He will send you into a time of testing to help you grow.

Courson - Forty days puts us in mind of the forty years God’s people wandered in the wilderness. Because the law will never lead a man into the Land of Promise, Moses, who speaks of the law, was unable to lead the people into the land. No, it was Joshua, whose name is the Hebrew form of “Jesus,” who brought the people into the land flowing with milk and honey.

Dwight Edwards - Before Christ began exercising power over others (Mk 1:16-45); He first exercised power over Himself. The man who cannot control himself is not fit to lead others. Too often we are looking for a ministry over others before we have gained mastery over ourselves. Christ's call to discipleship is predicated upon this control over ourselves - "If any man would come after Me, let him deny (lit. "say no" ) himself " (Matt. 16:24, Mark 8:34+).

Lloyd-Jones - Satan has already been judged. He was judged by the work done on the cross; it was proclaimed by the sending of the Holy Spirit. And it is a fact. Our Lord’s last great commission to His followers was, ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’ (Mt 28:18–19+). He has this power.

Wilderness (secluded, desolate, desert) (2048)(eremos) when used as an adjective, normally describes places which are abandoned, desolate, or unpopulated. Mark's uses of eremos - Mk. 1:3; Mk. 1:4; Mk. 1:12; Mk. 1:13; Mk. 1:35; Mk. 1:45; Mk. 6:31; Mk. 6:32; Mk. 6:35

Being tempted (3985)(peirazo from the noun peira = test from peíro = perforate, pierce through to test durability of things) is a morally neutral word simply meaning to test. Peirazo can mean "test" or "tempt."  Sometimes both senses apply simultaneously.  (This is an example where Greek is less precise than English.)  Only the context determines when a positive ("to test") or negative ("to tempt") sense is meant.Whether the test is for a good (as it proved to be in Heb 11:17+) or evil as here in Mark 1:13 (Mt 4:1+, Lk 4:2+) depends on the intent of the one giving the test and also on the response of the one tested. (cf peirasmos). Wuest says peirazo means "to try or test intentionally, with the purpose of discovering what good or evil, what power or weakness, was in a person or thing." "Satan tempts to bring out the bad; God tests to bring out the good." In sum, peirazō means "tempt" ("negative sense") in some passages like Mt 16:1, 19:3, 22:18,35; Mk 8:11, 10:2, 12:15; Lk 11:16, 20:33; Jn 8:6; Js 1:13,14.  Peirazō in other passages is used of positive tests as in Mt 4:11+; Lk 22:28; 1 Cor 10:13; Jas 1:12.

In James 1:2,12-14 the Greek root (peir-) is used seven times counting its noun form Peirasmos, and verb form peirazō.  The sense can be "tempt" or "test" – depending on whether it is a positive ("test") or negative ("tempt") sense. James 1:13,14 refers primarily to the negative ("tempt") aspect of peirázō.

Peirazo here in Mark 1:13 is in the present tense ("continually tested") which indicates the test was ongoing (all 40 days). The passive voice indicates the test was coming from an outside source. Here is where Jesus' temptation is different than ours. Our temptation comes from an internal source, our fallen flesh (old man, flesh, sinful flesh, old Adam, Adamic nature). Obviously Satan can send flaming missiles to spur on our fallen flesh to produce temptations, but that is not mandatory. Flesh is fully capable of tempting us on its own power. And so we cannot always (in fact usually cannot) say "The devil made me do it!" (Made famous by Flip Wilson, to get a laugh but is not a laughing matter but deadly serious!)

THOUGHT - I don’t know what temptations you may be dealing with, but I do know that if you are breathing, you are battling! Our greatest resource in the face of temptation is a close relationship with Jesus Christ and imitating His perfect pattern of being filled with the Spirit and filled with the Word. Remember that strongest weapon in Satan's arsenal is no match for the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. (Eph 6:17+) Here is a thought that will help in the moment of temptation. Hebrews 12:2+ tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” Take a long look at the Son of God who struggled 40 days being tempted in the wilderness and won the victory over the devil. If he won the battle depending on the Spirit and the Word and, so can we because both of these supernatural resources are available to us today. This truth in turn makes it imperative that we venture forth each more filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18+) and filled with the Word (Col 3:16+). Not to do so will make us vulnerable to spiritual attacks (temptations) from the world, the flesh or the devil. And we can hardly be expected to fulfill Paul's command to walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16+) so that we will not carry out the desires of the flesh, unless we are filled or controlled by the same Spirit. 

He breaks the power of cancelled sin
And sets the captive free.
His blood can make the foulest clean
His blood availed for me.

One aspect of periazo that should be kept in mind is that a test in a believer's life can turn out to be a temptation. In other words, if God allows a test and we resent the test and react to it in our flesh (cp "each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust [that derives from our fallen flesh - cp "lusts of the flesh" -1 Jn 2:16 or "fleshly lusts"  1 Pe 2:11]" - James 1:14), it will likely become a temptation for us to sin. God of course never tempts us to sin, whereas when the devil is involved he virtually always is tempting us to sin.

As Hiebert said "Temptation has its source not in the outer lure but in the inner lust." (Mark Commentary)

Cole adds "With His people, the purpose of God’s tests is to refine our faith like gold or silver (Ps. 66:10-12; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 1 Peter 4:12-14). But because of indwelling sin and the existence of Satan, every test may also become a temptation to sin." (Sermon)

Satan (4567)(satanas transliterated from Hebrew Satan - see 07854 and Aramaic sātānâ) literally means Adversary, the evil antagonist who offers opposition, hostility, resentment, etc. An enemy who that contends with, opposes, resists. An adversary is one who hates or opposes another person and tries to harm them or stop them from doing something because of hatred and malice. Satan is the inveterateimplacable, relentless, ruthless, remorseless, merciless, heartless, pitiless, cruel, hard, harsh, hardened, incorrigible, dedicated enemy of God and man. Satan is not a myth or a fable, but a created, fallen angel who is a real, supernatural evil being (Mt 16.23; 1 Th 2.18+). Satan is not divine but is subject to the divine Creator Jesus (John 1:3, Col 1:16+). He was the tempter of Jesus and sifter of men like Peter  (Mt 4.1+, Lk 4:2+, Mk 1:13+, Lk 22:31+). 

Satan is also known as "the evil [one]" (ho poneros - "one" is added by most translations) or the malevolent one (Eph 6:16+, 1 Jn 2:13-14+, 1 Jn 3:12+, 1 Jn 5:19+). In the Revelation we see 3 synonyms for Satan in two passages...

Revelation 12:9+  And the great dragon (probably means "the sharp-seeing one") was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Garland comments - Satan's first target of deception was Eve (Ge 3:4-5+; 2 Cor. 11:3; 2Ti. 2:14+), but he has been at work deceiving nations all through history. He is the father of lies, there is no truth in him (John 8:44). Those through whom he deceives are most effective because they themselves are deceived (2 Ti. 3:13+).

Revelation 20:2+ And he laid hold of the dragonthe serpent of old (cf Ge 3:1+), who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;

Related Resources on Temptation of Jesus

Brian Bell says "God permits such situations to prove and improve our faith. The evil is not in the situations God permits, but in responding sinfully to them. God even provides a back door to every temptation so we might overcome it! 1 Cor 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."

Wiersbe writes that "Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us, but God can use these difficult experiences to put the best into us. Temptation is Satan's weapon to defeat us, but it can become God's tool to build us (see James 1:1-8+, James 1:13-17+)."

James teaches us the root source of our temptations to commit sins against God.

James 1:13  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14  But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (Commentary)

The key verse is James 1:14. Note the words "each one" means each and every person ever born in Adam. Tempted is the same verb peirazo used of Satan's temptation of Jesus. Here the agent of temptation is not Satan, but each one's "own lust." While the Devil may play an indirect role in our temptation, the foremost enemy in temptation is our own fallen (anti-God) flesh! So we can't make the lame excuse "The devil made me do it" if we fall follow that lust and it conceives and gives birth to sin. Now notice the two very critical verbs "is carried away and enticed." The verb "carried away" gives us vivid picture of what our lust is seeking to do to us -- carried away (exelko from ek = out or away + hélko = draw) means  to draw out like a fish is drawn out from its retreat say under the safety of a rock. (See Francis Chan's video). Enticed (see below) means the temptation is continually "baiting" the hook so to speak. Both carried away and enticed are in the present tense indicating the temptations are continually bombarding us throughout the day. The same idea is seen in Galatians 5:17 where Paul teaches that "the flesh (present tense - continually) sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are (present tense - continually) in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please." Notice Paul does not say "your fallen flesh is  continually your redeemed flesh" is

Carried away (1828) (exelko from ek = out or away + hélko = draw) means to draw out, drag forth, draw away, like a fish is drawn out from its retreat. So just as in hunting and fishing the game is lured from its hiding place, so too man is allured by temptation allured from the safety of self-control (even Spirit enabled self control - Gal 5:23-note) to commit acts of sin.

Enticed (1185) (deleazo from delear = a bait) means to to beguile, entice by blandishments, entrap, delude, allure, entice. Deleazo was commonly used as fishing term to refer to bait. The idea of deleazo then is to catch by use of bait as does a trapper (bait in a trap or snare) or fisherman who lures prey from their place of hiding. Sinful desires act as a bait to "hook" us and get us in trouble. Lust hides the hook so to speak! The point is that no temptation appears as temptation but always seems more alluring and promising than it proves to be. Note the present tense pictures continual enticement. Temptation continually prods and baits us by appealing to our dark side.

God never tempts us to entice us to sin, i.e. baits our imagination (Js 1:13,14).  The Lord does however send positive tests to develop us (as in the case of Job), bringing His transforming work in His faithfulness.  See Jn 6:6; Heb 11:17; Rev 2:2.

God's plan includes testing so we can prove (show forth) what He inspires and  validates.  God's tests aim to make us, not break us.

An illustration of enticing words - Knowing how much an acquaintance despises his wife’s parakeet, I was surprised one day to hear him coaxing it to speak. Upon listening more closely, however, I nearly choked holding back my laughter. Now, along with its constant, annoying jabbering, the bird also calls out a suicidal, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.” (Contributed by Lisa French Reader’s Digest, September 1983, p. 130)


Cole - The fish sees the bait and it lures him toward it, thinking that he will get a meal. Instead, he gets hooked and carried away, where he becomes the meal. The temptation to sin is like that. We think that sin will satisfy us and get us something good that we’re missing. But instead, it hooks us and drags us to destruction. There is always that deceptive element to temptation. It is strengthened by the powerful emotions involved. As believers, we are not to live by our feelings, but by faith and obedience (Ed: see the good old hymn -Trust & Obey), based on the knowledge of God’s word of truth. We need to follow it, no matter how strongly our feelings pull us in a different direction. One time Marla and I were hiking off trail up on Mount Agassiz. It’s an area where we’ve hiked often, but we’ve often gotten turned around. On this occasion, we came out under some power lines, and I sensed that we needed to go uphill to get back to where we started. But when we had crossed the lines the first time, I had looked at my altimeter. When we crossed the lines again, my altimeter said that we were 500 feet higher. So, I trusted the altimeter, not my feelings, and we went downhill. Sure enough, we came to where we needed to be. God’s Word is like that altimeter. Temptation makes us feel like heading toward sin, but we need to follow God’s Word, no matter what we feel....James pictures lust and sin as having the ability to conceive and give birth. While the Bible is strongly against aborting babies, when lust conceives, we need to abort as soon as we can! We’ve all seen a tree growing out of a concrete sidewalk, where it has split the concrete. It began as a tiny seed, falling into a crack. But that seed had life in it, and the power of that life produced a tree that broke up the sidewalk. Temptation has that kind of destructive life in it. Don’t let it take root in your life!...At the outset, temptation always promises excitement and fulfillment. It never comes along with the pitch, “Would you like to destroy yourself and your family? Would you like to disgrace the name of your God?” Rather, it comes on with the enticement, “This will be fun! This will meet your needs. This will get you what you have been looking for. What can it hurt to try it?” If you take that bait, you’re on the course that leads to death. If you do not repent and get back on the path of righteousness, it may indicate that you never were truly saved (as with the seed on the rocky or thorny ground). Someone has said, “Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.   (James 1:13-15 The Source, Force, and Course of Temptation)

Kent Hughes - One summer recently my wife, Barbara, and I and our boys spent a week fishing in northern Maine. In the final hour of the final day my boys caught the biggest smallmouth bass I have ever seen—five pounds, one ounce! Those are cosmic dimensions for a smallmouth bass! That old bass, the best I can tell, was over ten years old. For 3,650 days he had resisted every ploy known to man around Grand Lake Stream, Maine—until August 1989. On that fateful afternoon my boys were slowly trolling a salmon-colored, soft plastic, spinner-bladed jig, innocuously named “Little Fishy,” when it passed by the lair of the monster bass. The combination of the speed of the lure, its depth, the slant of the sun, and the refraction of the light ineluctably dragged the old bronze-backed bass away from his lair, just as the Greek words “dragged away” (Ed: "carried away" in NAS) in our text describe. Then he began to follow the lure, “enticed,” as our text has it, by its peculiar wiggle and the delicate fibrillations, so that he opened his mouth wide and in a sudden burst engulfed the jig. My boys’ shouts echoed across the lake, and today that fish’s grand, painted, mummified form graces my sons’ wall. It was a remarkable experience, but not unique, for it is universal among fishermen. The ancient Greek Oppian used these same words to describe drawing a fish from its original retreat under a rock, so that it succumbs to the bait. James, in using these words, has graphically painted a picture of how we are tempted by our own illicit desires (lusts). (James : Faith that works. Preaching the Word. Crossway)

And He was with the wild beasts - Only Mark mentions wild beasts were with" Jesus. Have you ever heard wild animals in a deserted place at night? Wolves and coyotes howling? The sound of those wild animals piercing the darkness of the night is enough to stop the heart. In this sense Jesus would have experienced the test of fear. But perfect love casts out fear (1 Jn 4:18+). There was no fear in Jesus because in Him was perfect love.

Brian Bill - It would have encouraged Christians in Rome to know Jesus was with the wild animals because they were being fed to the lions. 

And the angels were ministering to Him - Note the fascinating juxtaposition of wild beasts on one hand and ministering angels on the other. Ministering is in the imperfect tense picturing the angels ministering to Jesus over and over. He was fully Man and as such He was in a sense demonstrating for us the truth in Hebrews where the writer asks "Are they (ANGELS) not all ministering (leitourgikos) spirits, sent out to render service (diakonia) for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14+)

Matthew 4:11 says "Then the devil *left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him." Luke 4:13 omits the angels and simply says "When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time." 

Wiersbe - The first Adam failed the test in a lovely garden (Ge 3:1-24+; 1 Cor. 15:45), while the Last Adam overcame the enemy in a terrible wilderness.

Because of his sin, the first Adam lost the dominion over nature which God had given to him (Genesis 1:28). Contrast this with the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, to whom dominion is returned as evidenced by the wild beasts that surrounded Him in the wilderness—a sneak preview of the coming kingdom wherein the wolf shall lie down by the lamb (Isaiah 11:6). Where Adam failed in the garden, Jesus came through in the desert.

Ministering (waiting on) (1247)(diakoneo means to minister by way of rendering service in any form or to take care of by rendering humble service.

Brian Bell - You must be filled with the Word of God to fight temptation! In response to the 3 temptations Jesus responded with Scripture! (Deut.8:3, Deut 6:16, Deut 6:13) Jesus understood the truth of Ps.119:11,"Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You." There is nothing magical about the words of Scripture. Jesus is saying, “here is a principle to live by…and I will live by it!” God’s word is given to be lived. Here is where Jesus found victory, and in doing God’s Word is where we’ll find ours also! 3. ILLUSTRATION - Anatoli Shcharansky, a dissident Soviet Jew, kissed his wife goodbye as she left Russia for freedom in Israel. His parting words to her were, “I’ll see you soon in Jerusalem.” But Anatoli was detained and finally imprisoned. Their reunion in Jerusalem would not only be postponed, it might never occur. During long years in Russian prisons and work camps Anatoli was stripped of his personal belongings. His only possession was a miniature copy of the Psalms. Once during his imprisonment, his refusal to release the book to the authorities cost him 130 days in solitary confinement. Finally, twelve years after parting with his wife, he was offered freedom. In February 1986, as the world watched, Shcharansky was allowed to walk away from Russian guards toward those who would take him to Jerusalem. But in the final moments of captivity, the guards tried again to confiscate the Psalms book. Anatoli threw himself face down in the snow and refused to walk on to freedom without it. Those words had kept him alive during imprisonment. He would not go on to freedom without them.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Temptation

It is an entire fallacy to say that we cannot be tempted unless there is something within us that responds to it. After all, when Adam was tempted his nature was not sinful. When Adam was tempted he had a perfect human nature; Adam and Eve were tempted in a state of perfection. So obviously temptation can have force and power though the nature of the tempted one is not evil.
Revival, 324

Obviously the higher you go in spiritual experience, or in the spiritual realm, the more likely you are to be attacked by the devil. No one has ever been tempted in this world in the way in which our blessed Lord and Saviour was tempted; and it has been the universal testimony of the saints throughout the centuries that, the closer their walk with God, the more furious was the attack of the adversary upon them.
The Sons of God, 370

When you are tempted to sin, remember that your body is ‘the temple of the Holy Ghost’. We approach these matters so negatively, and for that reason we fail so frequently. People come to me and say, ‘I am praying God to deliver me from this sin …’ But what they really need is to realise that the Holy Ghost is dwelling in their hearts. That is the way to meet the devil. We must not be negative, we must not merely pray to be delivered. Realize who is dwelling in your body, then you will find it difficult to abuse or misuse that body.
The Sons of God, 61

The ‘evil day’ means a satanic attack. There are days in the lives of Christian people when hell is, as it were, let loose, when the devil seems to marshal all his forces against us from all directions. It is something unusual and exceptional. There is no need to be alarmed, for it is all catered for; but let us not forget it. The greatest saints have given descriptions of these evil days, when the devil, having failed to catch them along the usual lines, made an unusual effort so that they were not given a moment’s peace. It might go on for weeks with scarcely any intermission at all. The evil day.
The Christian Warfare, 370

Some of the greatest saints have had a terrible conflict with the devil on their death bed … reminding them of their past sins, reminding them of all they have not done, the poverty of their work and their service—showing it to be nothing! In the time of their physical weakness, and with death staring them in the face, the devil tries to shake them. The only answer to give him is still the same; it is ‘the breastplate of righteousness’.
The Christian Soldier, 256

The Lord Jesus himself was tempted. The devil put thoughts into His mind. But He did not sin, because He rejected them. Thoughts will come to you and the devil may try to press you to think that because thoughts have entered your mind you have sinned. But they are not your thoughts, they are the devil’s. He put them there. It was the quaint Cornishman, Billy Bray, who put this in his own original manner when he said, ‘You cannot prevent the crow from flying over your head, but you can prevent him from making a nest in your hair!’ So I say that we cannot prevent thoughts being insinuated into our mind; but the question is what do we do with them? We talk about thoughts ‘passing through’ the mind, and so long as they do this, they are not sin. But if we welcome them and agree with them then they become sin. I emphasize this because I have often had to deal with people who are in great distress because unworthy thoughts have come to them. But what I say to them is this, ‘Listen to what you are telling me. You say that the thought “has come to you”. Well, if that is true you are not guilty of sin. You do not say, “I have this thought”; you say, “the thought came”.’ That is right. The thought came to you, and it came from the devil and the fact that the thought did come from the devil means that you are not of necessity guilty of sin. Temptation in and of itself is not sin. All woolgathering is Satan taking control of our thoughts.
Banner of Truth, Issue 275

ILLUSTRATION - Load Limits - Joe Stowell

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Daddy, can I help you?” It was my four-year-old son, Matt, who was watching me carry cartons of empty pop bottles to the car. Back then you could return them for a dime apiece, so after months of stacking them up in the garage, I was off to collect the cash bonanza.

I said, “Sure, Matt,” and he picked up a carton of bottles and put them in the car. When we got to the store, he grabbed his carton of bottles and shuffled along next to me across the big parking lot. About half way to the store, obviously exhausted, he looked up and said, “Dad, I can’t carry this anymore.”

Count on it, I didn’t say, “Listen, Kid, you started this, so pick up that carton right now and finish what you started!” Of course not!

I took the carton out of his hands, because I knew it was too heavy for him to handle. As his earthly father, I understood what his limits were and helped him carry the load.

Thankfully, our heavenly Father understands our load limit and comes alongside to help. It’s hard to stick it out during difficult times when the trouble in our lives seems far too heavy and there is no end in sight. It’s in times like these that we feel like giving up—like we can’t go on. But God’s Word reminds us that

“God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

It’s important to note that this verse is talking about more than just bearing up under temptation. In the original Greek, the word temptation actually means “all kinds of trials.”

Ever feel like you’re in the middle of all kinds of trials? The problem with problems is that they have a tendency to drain us of our strength—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And that’s when our adversary likes to launch his attack. When we’re weak, he haunts us with thoughts like: 

  • How could a loving God allow this to happen? 
  • God has brought you to this place and has just left you here. 
  • Or, You’re beyond help—God can’t help you now. 

But when you start thinking these thoughts (ED: AND REMEMBER THE BATTLE IS NOT A "POWER STRUGGLE" WITH THE ENEMY [YOUR FLESH OR THE DEVIL] BUT IS IN OUR MIND [WE BEGIN "THINKING THESE THOUGHTS"] AND THE STRUGGLE IS OVER TRUTH AND WHAT GOD SAYS IS TRUE ABOUT US!), you need to know that they are flat out lies from the pit.  You can be sure that they don’t reflect God’s heart for you during difficult times.

In the Old Testament, one of God’s names is Jehovah Jireh: The LORD Will Provide—our Provider—and He always lives up to His name. He stands ready to provide abundant grace so that we can bear up until He has finished His work in the trial (2 Corinthians 12:7-10+). He gives us a peace that passes understanding as we trust and rely on Him with a grateful heart (Philippians 4:6-7+). He gives wisdom to see our tough times from His point of view (James 1:5+). He gives us the assurance that He will stick it out with us and not leave or forsake us, so that we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What man can do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6+).

So, chin up! Our troubles and trials have not escaped the notice of the One who comes alongside to help when it seems like the load is too much to bear. The One who knows your load limit promises to limit your load!


  • Think back to a time when God helped you “bear up” under the pressure of difficult circumstances. Write a paragraph in your journal about how God’s power helped you through.
  • What promises of God can you claim to find strength in your time of trouble? Pray them back to God with a thankful heart until you sense His peace and presence in the midst of your pain.
  • Write a prayer of thanksgiving for a specific event that God helped you through.
  • Read the following Scriptures for examples of Moses and Hannah who did this: Exodus 15:1-18; 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
  • Find someone who needs help “bearing up.” Use Scripture to encourage that person through a written note or a phone call.
  • (Strength for the Journey)

See related illustration of Plimsoll marks


Every temptation is an opportunity of our getting nearer to God. - John Quincy Adams

Temptations discover what we are. - Thomas à Kempis

Temptations are a file which rub off much of the rust of our self-confidence. - François Fenelon

My temptations have been my masters in divinity. - Martin Luther

Playwright Oscar Wilde once jokingly remarked, “I can resist everything except temptation.” We smile when we read those words because they speak an important truth about the human condition. Temptation pays a visit to each of us every day and most of us struggle to say no. - Ray Pritchard

The main reason God allows trials in the lives of Christians is to test the strength of their faith. - John MacArthur

Perhaps you’ve heard about the little boy who was lying under an apple tree. The farmer asked, ‘What are you trying to do? Steal an apple? “No, sir, I’m trying not to,” he replied. Many of are trying not to, but we fail because we lie down under the apple tree. - Ray Pritchard

We are reminded that to be tempted is not sin; but to entertain temptation, or surrender to temptation is sin. - David Guzik

Learn to say no; it will be of more use to you than being able to read Latin! - C H Spurgeon

Most people want to be delivered from temptation but would like it to keep in touch. - Robert Orben

Does God lead into temptation? God tempts no man to sin. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither does he tempt he any man." James 1:13. He permits sin—but does not promote it. He who is an encourager of holiness cannot be a pattern of sin. God does not tempt to that to which he has an antipathy. What king will tempt his subjects to break laws which he himself has established? - Thomas Watson (The Lord's Prayer)

Here are a few "proverbial like" thoughts on temptation all from anonymous sources…

  • The worst thing about resisting temptation is that we may not get another chance to do it!
  • Following the lines of least resistance makes men and rivers crooked.
  • He who avoids the temptation avoids the sin.
  • It takes two to make a successful temptation, and you are one of the two.
  • Most people who fly from temptation usually leave a forwarding address.
  • Never invite temptation—it always accepts.
  • No one can be caught in a place he does not visit.
  • There is no merit in abstaining from what one is not tempted to do.
  • We are never strong enough to risk walking into temptation.
  • Temptations, like foul weather, come before we send for them.
  • Temptations are everywhere, but so is the grace of God.
  • If you would master temptation, you must first let Christ master you.
  • Every temptation is an opportunity to get nearer to God.

Illustration of Temptation - A German picture called “Cloud-land” hangs at the end of a long gallery; and at first sight looks like a huge, repulsive daub of confused colour. As you walk towards it, it begins to take shape, and proves to be a mass of little cherub faces, like those in Raphael’s “Madonna san Sisto.” Close to the picture, you see only an innumerable company of little angels and cherubim. How often, frightened by temptation, we see nothing but a confused and repulsive mass of broken expectations and crushed hopes. But if, instead of fleeing away into unbelief and despair, we would only draw near to God in His Word, we should soon discover that the cloud was full of angels of mercy.’

This illustration recalls the story from 2 Kings 6:15-18 when the encircling chariots brought great fear to the heart of Elisha's servant...

Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (ED: BELOVED THIS SHOULD BE OUR "WATCHWORD!") 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, “Strike this people with blindness, I pray.” So He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

Illustration of the Plimsoll Mark - (God will not allow you to be tested beyond what you are able to endure - 1 Cor 10:13+) - It was due to the efforts of Samuel Plimsoll (1824-98), British reformer, that the Merchant Shipping Act of 1876 was passed, requiring all ships to bear a mark known as the Plimsoll mark and indicating the maximum load line. By this act the Board of Trade of England was empowered to detain any vessel deemed unsafe, and the amount of cargo was restricted, thus making the long and perilous ocean voyage of those days much safer. Because of his work, Plimsoll became known as the sailor's friend. The Plimsoll mark, with its gradations and figures, may be seen on the bow of ships near the water line as they lie at anchor in a harbor. In God's sight, each of us has a similar mark, though we may not be able to see it The burdens and responsibilities He gives us may seem unbearable, but He knows our limit, His everlasting arms are underneath, and by His grace we can bear them without sinking. "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1Cor 10:13b+).—Sunday School Times

Illustration of Temptation - short and pithy and funny - A man was on a diet and struggling. He had to go downtown and as he started out, he remembered that his route would take him by the doughnut shop. As he got closer, he thought that a cup of coffee would hit the spot. Then he remembered his diet. That’s when he prayed, “Lord, if You want me to stop for a doughnut and coffee, let there be a parking place in front of the shop.” He said, “Sure enough, I found a parking place right in front—on my seventh time around the block!” 

Steven Cole - To live in this world means that you will encounter temptation. Some, like playwright Oscar Wilde, don’t even try to fight it. He said, “I can resist anything except temptation.” Others want to be delivered from temptation, but they would like it to keep in touch from time to time. But if we want to be godly people, we must learn to resist the temptations that come at us from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Jesus Christ is our great example and teacher when it comes to resisting temptation. He was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). If we want to be like Jesus, we will be eager to learn from Him how He resisted the devil. This account of Jesus’ temptation must have come down to the disciples and to us from Jesus Himself, since it was a private encounter.

Charles Simeon gives us a sense of the power of our fallen flesh (MOST OF US UNDERESTIMATE ITS POWER WHICH IS A BIG MISTAKE!) by making the analogy that believers are carrying about within our bodies a veritable powder keg of highly inflammable material and if we are not careful, temptation can strike a small spark that results in a huge explosion! Then the flames, like many California wildfires, are quickly out of control, wreaking great havoc and destruction personally and sadly in our families!

Steven Cole - This is not an outside enemy, but one that lives within us. Indwelling sin lurks there until the day we die and go to be with Jesus. I read of a pastor who was chatting with a godly, 78-year-old friend. The older gentleman recounted a recent trip to the city, where he realized that he was going to have to park and walk through a red-light district. So he pulled the car to a stop and prayed that God would protect him from temptation as he walked past all of the pornography stores and massage parlors.

The pastor interrupted, “Wait a minute! I don’t mean to offend you, but you’re 78 years old. Are you telling me that you’re worried about sexual temptation at your age and after all these years of walking with the Lord?”

The older man replied, “Son, just because I’m old doesn’t mean the blood doesn’t flow through my veins. The difference between we old men and you young men is this: we know we’re sinners. We’ve had plenty of experience. You kids haven’t figured that out yet”  He knew that this powerful enemy still lived within, even after years of fighting against it.(Sermon)

Alan Carr… There are three words to remember when facing temptation: Flight, Faith, Fight.

1. To Overcome The Flesh We Need Flight -

The key to defeating fleshly temptations is to flee from them. (1Co 6:18+ - “flee fornication”; 1Co 10:14 - “flee idolatry”; 2Ti 2:22+ - “flee youthful lusts”) (Ill. You cannot expose yourself to fleshly temptation and expect to walk away untouched - Pr 6:27+ - Ill. Situations to avoid!) (Ill. Joseph and Potiphar's wife - Ge 39:12)

2. To Overcome The World We Need Faith -

Faith that Jesus will take care of us when we willingly give up the attachment to worldly things. If we are loving the world, we are not loving God - 1Jn 2:15; Jas 4:4. If you really want victory over the world, then love Jesus more than you love it - He12:2 {note}. Ill. It is our faith in him that offers us the victory - 1Jn 5:4.

3. To Overcome The Devil We Must Fight -

If we stand up to him and fight, he will flee - Jas 4:7. You cannot run away from him, but you can drive him away from you. You must face him in the power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t fear you, but he trembles before the blood of the Lamb! Fight Satan and he will flee! (Ep 4:27 {note}; 1Pe 5:8 {note}) (Jesus and His temptations - Mt 4:1, 2, 3, 4ff+) (1 Corinthians 10:1-13 How To Tame Temptation)

ILLUSTRATION OF TEMPTATION - Do you know how an Eskimo kills a wolf? He repeatedly coats the blade of knife with blood, allowing it to freeze, until the blade is completely covered. Then he places the knife in the snow and as the wolf licks the blood, his tongue is numbed, and his hunger is fueled. The wolf will lick the knife, cut his own tongue and eventually bleed to death attempting to fulfill of his own desires. Satan uses the same tactic to defeat God’s children. He knows that he can never have your soul, but he also knows if he can cause us to succumb to temptation, then we will become powerless and useless as Christians.

Victory Over Temptation- Wanda Johnson, a single mother with five children, was on her way to the pawn shop, where she was hoping to get a loan of $60 for her TV set. Then something bizarre happened. As an armored truck filled with sacks of money drove past her, its rear door flew open, and a bag dropped out. Wanda stopped and picked up the sack. When she counted the cash, she found that it totaled $160,000.

A battle raged in her soul. That money would pay all her bills and provide for the needs of her children. But it wasn't hers to keep.

After a fierce 4-hour struggle with her moral convictions, Wanda called the police and turned in the money. Her sense of doing the right thing won a victory over the temptation to keep what wasn't hers to keep.

How strong is your ethical fiber? Will it break down if you are faced with an enticing chance to do something wrong? Adam and Eve, as well as Jesus, were attacked by Satan on three fronts: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life ( 1John 2:16). Our first parents succumbed to the serpent's solicitation (Genesis 3:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). Jesus did not (Matthew 4:1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

No matter what evil is pressuring us, let's follow Jesus' example and do what's right.— Vernon C. Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin—
Each victory will help you some other to win;
Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue,
Look ever to Jesus—He will carry you through.

To withstand temptation, stand with Christ.

Ice-Cream Man - Little Jeff was trying his best to save money to buy his mother a present. It was a terrible struggle because he gave in so easily to the temptation to buy goodies from the ice-cream man whenever the brightly colored van came through the neighborhood.

One night after his mother had tucked him in bed, she overheard him pray, "Please, God, help me run away when the ice-cream man comes tomorrow." Even at his young age he had learned that one of the best ways to overcome temptation is to avoid what appeals to our weaknesses.

All believers are tempted to sin. Yet they need not give in. The Lord provides the way to be victorious over evil enticements (1Corinthians 10:13). But we must do our part. Sometimes that involves avoiding situations that would contribute to our spiritual defeat.

The apostle Paul admonished Timothy to run away from the evil desires of youth (2Ti 2:22-note). He was to keep his distance from the temptations that might cause him to yield because of their strong appeal. That's good advice.

If possible, we should never let ourselves be in the wrong places or with people who will tempt us to do the things we should be avoiding.

Be sure to run from the "ice-cream man"!— Richard De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

It's wise to flee when tempted—
A fool is one who'd stay;
For those who toy with evil
Soon learn it doesn't pay.
—D. De Haan

We fall into temptation when we don't flee from it.

Yield Not- Imagine a song with a message so powerful it could stop a prison riot. According to one account, the song "Yield Not To Temptation" served that purpose. As the story goes, a group of women prisoners had been allowed out of their cells to listen to a visiting speaker. During the meeting, the supervisor gave an order that some of the prisoners didn't like, so they began to scream and hurl threats at her. The confrontation was escalating.

The supervisor sent for help, and it came in an unusual way. A voice was heard singing over the tumult of the upset prisoners: "Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin; each victory will help you some other to win." Amazingly, the rebellion quieted, and the women joined in singing as they filed back to their cells.

We save ourselves a lot of trouble by not yielding to the temptation to let anger control us. Likewise, we protect ourselves when we "yield not." Yielding not to the temptation to lie protects us from a loss of respect and further misrepresentations. Yielding not to the temptation of greed helps us avoid a gnawing dissatisfaction. But most important, when we "yield not" to temptation, we please God.

With each temptation God provides an "escape" (1Corinthians 10:13). You'll find it as you yield to Him. — Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Ask the Savior to help you,
Comfort, strengthen, and keep you;
He is willing to aid you—
He will carry you through.

To escape temptation, flee to God.

Tested And True - A young nurse was assisting a surgeon for the first time. As he was completing the operation, she told him he had used 12 sponges, but she could account for only 11. The doctor curtly replied that he had removed them all from inside the patient. The nurse insisted that one was missing, but the doctor declared he would proceed with sewing up the incision.

The nurse, her eyes blazing, said, "You can't do that! Think of the patient!" The doctor smiled and, lifting his foot, showed the nurse the twelfth sponge, which he had deliberately dropped on the floor. "You'll do fine!" he said. He had been testing her.

Daniel's three friends faced a different kind of test (Daniel 3:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30), but they too would not budge. They knew their refusal to worship the image might result in their death, yet they never wavered. They proved they were true to God by standing firm.

The Lord still permits trials and temptations to enter the lives of His children. The challenge may come as an opportunity to gratify the lusts of the flesh, or as a series of disheartening circumstances. Whatever form it takes, we must not yield. Rather, we must stand for what is right and trust God to supply the grace we need (1Corinthians 10:13).

Are you "tested and true"? — Herbert Vander Lugt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

A gem cannot be polished without friction,
nor can we be perfected without trial.

God is faithful, who … with the temptation will also make the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).

In 1346, during the Hundred Years' War, the English army of King Edward III met a French battalion at Crecy, France. The King's son, Prince Edward, led one vital division of the British force while Edward III stood nearby with a strong band of soldiers, ready to send relief if needed. Soon after the battle started, the prince thought he was in danger, so he sent for help. But the king didn't come. Young Edward sent another message, pleading for immediate assistance. His father responded by telling the courier, "Go tell my son that I am not so inexperienced a commander as not to know when help is needed, nor so careless a father as not to send it."

This story illustrates the heavenly Father's relationship with believ­ers as we battle temptation and sin. Often we cry out for help, but it seems that God sends no relief. Yet at no time does He withdraw His eye from our precarious position. He never allows us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear, and when He sees that we are about to be overcome He rushes to our aid or provides a way to escape. So we need not get frantic—our Father is aware of our situation. In 1 Corin­thians 1:9 the apostle Paul said, "God is faithful." Commenting on this, Ambrose Serle noted, "He is wise to foresee and provide for all my dangers. He is faithful to perfect and perform all His promises."

No matter how hot the conflict, the Lord is ready to intervene at the right moment. He is always standing by. —P. R. Van Gorder (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

When God sends us,
He also goes with us.

Concerned about his personal life, Ed went to his pastor for help. After listening to the young man's mild list of supposed sins, the wise preacher felt that he had not been completely honest. "Are you sure that's all?" the preacher asked. "Yes, pastor," Ed said. "Are you positive you haven't been entertaining any impure thoughts lately?" the pastor continued. "Oh, no," Ed replied, "but they've sure been entertaining me."

Temptation may be defined as a desire for sinful pleasure. If it didn't offer pleasure, it would be easy to resist. Perhaps that's why we under-stand the truth behind the cartoon in which a man says, "I don't mind fleeing temptation—as long as I can leave a forwarding address." And, if we're honest, we admit that sin often takes place first in our mind. For many people, illicit sexual thoughts provide pleasure.

Temptation is not sin. For it to develop into sin, we have to wel­come it, dwell on it, and enjoy it. For example, the temptation to get back at someone who has hurt us is wrong only when we begin to think about ways to harm that person and get revenge. Paul said that every thought must be brought "into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2Co 10:5).

When we allow wrong thoughts into our minds, we must confess them as sin, ask God to help us, and then fill our minds with good and pure thoughts. When we submit to God and resist the devil, we can say no to tempting thoughts. —D. C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Character is shaped by what the mind takes in.

Be Careful! - Several years ago my wife Carolyn and I were hiking on Mount Rainier in Washington when we came to a swollen, glacial stream. Someone had flattened one side of a log and dropped it across the river to form a crude bridge, but there was no handrail and the log was slippery.

The prospect of walking on the wet log was frightening, and Carolyn didn't want to cross. But she found the courage, and slowly, carefully she inched her way to the other side.

On the way back we had to walk on the same log, and she did so with the same care. "Are you afraid?" I asked. "Of course," she replied, "that's what keeps me safe." Again, fully aware of the danger, she made her way to safety.

Much of life poses moral danger for us. We should never assume in any situation that we're incapable of falling. "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1Corinthians 10:12). Given the opportunity and circumstances, any of us are capable of falling into any sin. To believe otherwise is sheer folly.

We must watch and pray and arm ourselves for every occasion by putting our total trust in God (Ephesians 6:13-note). "God is faithful" (1Corinthians 10:13), and He will give us the strength to keep from falling. — David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

The hand of God protects our way
When we would do His will;
And if through danger we must go,
We know He's with us still. —D. De Haan

God provides the armor, but we must put it on

Load Limit - We've all seen load-limit signs on highways, bridges, and elevators. Knowing that too much strain can cause severe damage or complete collapse, engineers determine the exact amount of stress that various materials can safely endure. Posted warnings tell us not to exceed the maximum load.

Human beings also have their load limits, which vary from person to person. Some people, for example, can bear the pressure of trial and temptation better than others; yet everyone has a breaking point and can take only so much.

At times, circumstances and people seem to be pushing us beyond what we can bear. But the Lord knows our limitations and never allows any difficulties to enter our lives that exceed our strength and ability to endure. This is especially true when we're enticed by sin. According to 1Corinthians 10:13, "God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able."

So when trials and temptations press down on you, take courage. Remember, your heavenly Father knows the limits of your ability to stand up under life's pressures. Draw on His strength; no temptation will ever be greater than that! — Richard De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

When sorrows assail us or terrors draw nigh,
His love will not fail us, He'll guide with His eye;
And when we are fainting and ready to fail,
He'll give what is lacking and make us prevail.

If you yield to God,
you won't give in to sin

EDITORIAL NOTE: The preceding summary statement is the same principle taught in one of the most important passages in Scripture regarding how to fight temptation, Galatians 5:16+

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and
you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Notice the order which is absolutely critical - (1) yield, surrender, submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit and (2) He will enable you to resist the and thus to effectively "neutralize" the temptation's power over your fallen flesh. Paul does not say the desire will be gone, but that the Spirit will enable a God directed desire in your heart and will give you the divine power to not act on the temptation and commit sin. Romans 8:13+ amplifies this truth for there Paul says "if by the Spirit (HIS SUPERNATURAL POWER) you are putting to death (THIS IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY) the deeds of the body, you will live (THIS IS THE WONDERFUL "FRUIT")." 

Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-12+
The Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. - 
The legendary Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, “The highest form of generalship is to conquer the enemy by strategy.” This also describes the tactic that our greatest enemy, Satan, uses in his spiritual warfare against humanity. Satan's strategy against Jesus in the desert—half-truths and cunning deception—is the same that he uses to this very day.

The first test concerns provision. Although Satan in some sense acknowledged Jesus' divine sonship, he tempted Jesus to take matters into His own hands, rather than trust the Father to provide. Jesus refused to enter into any discussion and instead quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3. The rest of this verse says that, rather than bread, we're to live on God's Word, which is exactly what Jesus was doing during the temptation.

The second test concerns power. Somehow Satan was able to show Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and offered them to Him. After his boasting, Satan slipped in the fact that to receive these kingdoms, Jesus would have to worship him in the process. Breaking the first commandment was clearly not something that Jesus would do, as His quote from Deuteronomy 6:13 showed. Besides, the Father would give all the kingdoms of the world to His Son, so Satan was actually tempting Jesus to avoid the cross and His redemptive work.

The third test concerns protection. Satan took Jesus to the highest part of temple, probably the Royal Porch, which overlooked the Kidron Valley, some 450 feet below. To jump from there meant certain death. Here Satan upped the ante by quoting Scripture himself (Ps. 91:11-12), but twisting it horribly. Jesus replied with Deuteronomy 6:16, clearly understanding that testing God is not the way to prove His protection. Jesus' complete faithfulness to the Father in this trial anticipated His faithfulness on the cross, the event that meant Satan's decisive defeat.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY Satan tests us in the same area in which Jesus was tested—our faithfulness to God. Today's passage shows that responding in faithfulness depends upon knowing God's Word. As we learn His Word, the Spirit brings it to our attention at just the right moment. Are you growing in knowledge of the Word? If you aren't already in a Bible study or Sunday school class, consider joining one this month. In addition to your daily Bible study, you'll grow from studying the Word with other believers.

ILLUSTRATION REGARDING TEMPTATION - The story is told of a man who was trying to teach his dog obedience. He would take a large piece of meat and put it in the middle of the floor. Each time the dog attempted to take the meat the man would swat the dog and say, “No.” Soon the dog began to associate the swatting with the word no and learned to stop simply when the word was said. When meat was placed on the floor the dog would not look at it but rather at his master, waiting for his word of approval or denial. That is essentially the message God teaches in this passage: “When temptation comes, don’t look at the temptation but look at Jesus Christ. Keep your eyes on His example and do what he did (1 Jn 2:6-note, cp 1 Cor 11:1-note, 1 Pe 2:21-note). Look at the ways He was tempted and at the way He resisted, and learn from Him.” Jesus has been there before us (Heb 2:18-note); He has met the worst Satan can give and has been victorious (Heb 4:15-note). More than that, He is eager to share that victory with His own people when they are tempted. We can have victory over temptation only by resisting in the way that Jesus resisted-by holding with complete obedience to God and His Word. Jesus endured temptation to the very limit of Satan’s power, and He resisted to that very limit. He did not in the least degree allow temptation to develop into desire, much less into sin (cf. Jas 1:13-15-note). He did not think the matter over or give it any consideration. He simply stood firmly in His Father’s will, filled with the Holy Spirit and was enabled to said no! Say "Yes" to the Spirit before you try to say "No" to the lusts of the flesh! (Gal 5:16-note, Gal 5:17,18-note) Look to Jesus, not the temptation. We find help against temptation, just as we find help for everything else in the Christian life, by “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith” (Heb 12:2-note). A hurdler soon learns that if he looks at the hurdles as he runs, he will trip and fall. From start to finish he looks only at the goal, and when he does that the hurdles are cleared in stride as each one is encountered. Being continually filled with the Word and the Spirit and keeping our eyes fixed on our Lord Jesus Christ is our only hope of conquering temptation and faithfully running “with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1-note). See also related discussion regarding the concept of Vertical Vision.

J Vernon McGee - Now our Lord was tested. That raises the question. Could Christ have fallen? There’s a great deal of difference of opinion here today. Could Christ have yielded to Satan’s suggestions when He was tempted? May I say to you, the answer is a categorical no. He could not fall! Well, somebody says, then was it a legitimate temptation? Yes, it was a test, a test to demonstrate that He could not fall, that He was the immaculate Son of God, that He was an impeccable Savior, that He was able to save to the uttermost those who come unto God through Him. It was a demonstration.
Now that’s not contrary to our way of living, even today. New articles are tested. Automobiles are tested, and tires are tested. If you should go to a site where one of the tire companies has a testing ground for their tires, and if you should stop and say, “What are you trying to do, ruin them?” they would say, “Oh, no. We’re just proving that they cannot be ruined.”
Let me give this very homely illustration. When I was a boy I lived in a west Texas town that is no longer on the map. Nothing is there now but mesquite bushes. But there was a time when those who founded the town had high hopes it would become a booming town. It never did. The little town was named Burnham. It was on the Santa Fe Railroad, right by the west fork of the Brazos River. The Brazos River is unusual in that during summertime you can’t find enough water to wade in it. In fact, in late summer a mosquito couldn’t even get a drink in it. But in the wintertime you could float a battleship up the river.
One year we had a flood. It washed out the bridge for the Santa Fe tracks, so the company came in and built a new strong bridge. When they had finished it, they ran in two locomotive engines on top of that bridge and tied the whistles down. All of us who lived in the little town—all twenty-three of us—ran down there because we’d never heard two whistles at the same time. Several officials of the Santa Fe were present for the occasion, and the engineer who had built the bridge was there. So one of the citizens of our community stepped up to him and asked, “What are you doing?”
“We’re testing the bridge.”
Of course, this citizen of our community went on to ask, “Are you trying to break it down with those two engines?”
This engineer with great disdain looked at him, actually with contempt, “Of course not. Two engines could never break down that bridge!”
“Then why in the world are you putting them on there?”
“We’re putting them on to demonstrate that two engines cannot break the bridge down.”
Our Lord was tempted for that same reason. And, my friend, because of that fact, He was tested in a way that you and I have never been tested. The pressure on Him was greater than it’s ever been on any of us. For you and me, when the pressure builds up from temptation, we give way, and the minute we give way the pressure is relieved. But our Lord never gave way, and the pressure continued to build up. You and I really don’t know what extreme temptation is as He knew it.
He knew what even Adam didn’t learn. Adam, created innocent, never knew what it was to resist to the very end. Adam gave way to sin. You and I give way to sin, and the pressure is removed. Jesus never gave way, and the pressure built up. Only He knows what it was to really be tempted.

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil (Luke 4:1-2).  "I see the devil's hook and yet cannot help nibbling at his bait," bemoaned Moses Adams, the eighteenth-century American humorist.  The biggest fish Satan could hook would be God Himself. In the wilderness temptation, the Spirit led Jesus to Satan; God did not fear the wiles of the master trickster.  To the Jews of the first century, the three temptations had a powerful message. Although God had promised to meet their needs, protect their lives, and give them hope for tomorrow, Israel of old continually worried about groceries, safety, and the future. In resisting Satan's offers of food, protection, and power, Jesus proved that God could provide these three things and more. We do not easily grasp how God Incarnate could be tempted in all the same ways as we are, but real men have real temptations. We can believe in Christ's sinless perfection, but our minds invariably sanitize His temptations. Though Christ totally resisted sin, He was not tempted with just lily-white dalliances. Whatever our attempts to whitewash Christ's humanity, the perfect God-man, nevertheless, truly knows temptation. Only such a Person could provide a salvation that meets people's deepest needs. Satan may have a digitized fish-finder and chartreuse lures, but Christ has seen all his devices. He understands and sympathizes with us, and He provides us with food that satisfies and gives us strength to resist Satan's shiny bait.

LUKE 4:1-13, MARK 1:12-13
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1).

Before I was old enough to get a driver's license, I had a haunting fear of getting behind the wheel of a car. When I thought about driving with an open stretch of road before me, I was afraid I'd be overwhelmed by an obsession to go as fast as the car would go. I couldn't imagine having the self-control to drive no faster than road conditions and the speed limit would allow. When I turned sixteen, though, I learned that I could control the accelerator instead of being controlled by it. Just because I was able to press the pedal to the floor didn't mean I had to do so. Many times I've heard people try to justify sin by claiming that a sudden, unusual, and irresistible temptation had confronted them. And sometimes we reason that a certain questionable action might actually be all right because the opportunity came along at just the right time and provided just what we thought we needed. One of the lessons we learn from the temptation of Jesus is that God will always provide a way of escape from temptation or He will give us the strength to resist it. He expects us to be discerning and to be conscious of the meaning of temptation. Beyond that, He wants us to know that we can rely on His Spirit and His Word, the way Jesus did, and to resist temptation rather than be ruined by it. —M.R.De Haan II(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Every temptation is an opportunity to get nearer to God.


"I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you, I will uphold you" (Isaiah 41:10). 
On the day before my mother died in 1976, my brother and I were called to her bedside. Though too weak for extended conversation, she quoted two verses—Isaiah 41:10 and John 10:29—not simply to con-sole us, but to reinforce her own faith. She held fast to what God had said; and what God said held her fast.
The Word of God has tremendous holding power. When tempted in the wilderness, our Lord overcame the enemy's suggestions by quoting Scripture. He did this to strengthen Himself, not to intimidate Satan. Though sinless, Jesus was truly human, and the temptation was real. Sometimes we allow His deity to overshadow this event and assume that the Savior casually brushed Satan aside with a few Scripture verses. But the Bible leaves no doubt that He was "tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). Therefore, the Word held Him steady. Jesus did not quote verses to Satan because they contained some magical power. Rather, He called them to mind to guide and reinforce Himself so that He would remain true to God's will. Because He kept His life under the control of the Word, Satan could not deter Him from doing His Father's will.
Whenever we are tested—whether it's a severe temptation, an overwhelming fear, or the specter of death itself—we can rest with confidence on God's sure and abiding Word. Down through the centuries countless saints have been held by its power, and it is as strong as ever. —D.J.De Haan. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

The strongest weapon in Satan's arsenal
is no match for the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Eph 6:17+)

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.

Everyone faces temptation. Even the Son of God was tempted by Satan to turn away from God. But Jesus saw through the enemy’s schemes and remained firm in His love and devotion to the Father (Luke 4:1–13).
One of the reasons Jesus came was to personally identify with our needs and struggles. He understands how you feel under the weight of temptation. He has faced the tempter and overcome the darkness and adversity associated with Satan’s fiery trials.
When you face temptation, know that you do not face it alone. Jesus is with you, and He provides the strength you need to say no to every dark thought or evil imagination. In times of temptation, when the enemy whispers lies to defeat and discourage, take your stand against him by clothing yourself in the mighty armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18). Also know that you can never disappoint God. He knows exactly what you are doing even before you do it, and He loves you still.
Temptation is not a sin. Sin is the result of our acting on the temptation. God provides the strength we need to steer clear of temptation. You can say no to all evil because Jesus lives in you, and He has given you the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth and knowledge. Therefore, take your stand as a child of God and claim His strength and victory!  Father, I know temptation is common to all. Give me the strength to steer clear of temptation and reject evil.

Related Resources:

Mark 1:14  Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,

NET  Mark 1:14 Now after John was imprisoned, Jesus went into Galilee and proclaimed the gospel of God.

GNT  Mark 1:14 Μετὰ δὲ τὸ παραδοθῆναι τὸν Ἰωάννην ἦλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ

NLT  Mark 1:14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God's Good News.

KJV  Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

ESV  Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,

ASV  Mark 1:14 Now after John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,

CSB  Mark 1:14 After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God:

NIV  Mark 1:14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.

NKJ  Mark 1:14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

NRS  Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God,

YLT  Mark 1:14 And after the delivering up of John, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of the reign of God,

NAB  Mark 1:14 After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:

NJB  Mark 1:14 After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the gospel from God saying,

GWN  Mark 1:14 After John had been put in prison, Jesus went to Galilee and told people the Good News of God.

BBE  Mark 1:14 Now after John had been put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the good news of God,

  • Now after John had been taken into custody: Mt 4:12 11:2 14:2 Lu 3:20 John 3:22-24 
  • Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God: Isa 61:1-3 Mt 4:23 Mt 9:35 Lk 4:17-19,43,44 8:1 Ac 20:25 28:23 Eph 2:17 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Hiebert considers this passage the beginning of a long section on Jesus' ministry

  • Ministry of the Servant, Mark 1:14-13:37
    1. Ministry in Galilee, Mark 1:14-4:34
      1. Summary of the preaching, Mark 1:14-15
      2. Call to four fishermen, Mark 1:16-20
      3. Ministry in Capernaum, Mark 1:21-34
        1. Excitement in the synagogue, Mark 1:21-28
        2. Healing of Peter's mother-in-law, Mark 1:29-31
        3. Healing ministry at sundown, Mark 1:32-34
      4. Tour of Galilee, Mark 1:35-45
        1. Departure from Capernaum, Mark 1:35-39
        2. Cleansing of a leper, Mark 1:40-45


Now after John had been taken into custody - Now after is an important expression of time. Why so? Because by comparing the events in the beginning of the Gospel of John it is apparent that all three Synoptic writers bypass the events that transpire during the first year of Jesus' ministry. In other words between Mark 1:13 and Mark 1:14 there is TIME GAP of 12-14 months of Jesus' EARLY MINISTRY,  a period which is omitted from the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke. 

If you are  somewhat confused below is a chart to help visualize the record of Jesus' ministry in Judea which is not found in the three Synoptic Gospels. There are a couple of points you need to notice. First note that Mt 4:12+, Mk 1:14+ and Lk 4:14+ each mark the beginning of Jesus' Galilean Ministry, but only Matthew and Mark specifically associate this beginning with John the Baptist's imprisonment. Luke 4:14+ does not say anything about the imprisonment. Luke (and here is where one could be easily confused) actually describes the imprisonment of John the Baptist in Luke 3:19-20+, which is BEFORE his description of Jesus' Baptism and Temptation in the chart below. Here is what you need to understand -- Luke is not giving a chronological description. William Hendriksen agrees that "As is so often the case, Luke’s account here is not chronological....But though not always chronological, Luke’s account is logical. He wishes to bring the story of John’s ministry to a close, in order to write the story of Christ’s ministry. There surely can be no objection to that." (BNTC-Luke) 


Mt 3:13-17+

Mk 1:9-11+

Lk 3:21-22+


Mt 4:1-11+

Mk 1:12-13+

Lk 4:1-13+

Jesus Early Judean Ministry 
Year of Obscurity

Only described in John 1:19-4:54
No Record in Synoptic Gospels

Jesus Begins  Ministry
in Galilee

Mt 4:12+

Mk 1:14+

Lk 4:14+

From the chart note that the TIME GAP occurs only in the Gospel of John between Mk 1:13 and Mk 1:14, Mt 4:11 and Mt 4:12 and Luke 4:13 and Luke 4:14. This TIME GAP is estimated to be about 12-14 months and constitutes Jesus' EARLY JUDEAN MINISTRY completely omitted by Matthew, Mark and Luke. Some refer to this TIME GAP as the "YEAR OF OBSCURITY." (See study by S Lewis Johnson - The  Messiah's Year of Obscurity) Jesus may have been "obscure" but He was not inactive - John records Jesus' early interaction with John the Baptist (John 1), the miracle of Water to Wine at a wedding (John 2), the Temple cleansing (John 2) and giving Nicodemus knowledge by night (John 3)! This period unique to the Gospel of John extends from about John 1:19+ through John 4:44, 45+. It is also known as the EARLY JUDEAN MINISTRY because most of the events occurred in Judea. Note however that some of the events in John 1:19-4:54 took place in Samaria and even Galilee, but Jesus official ministry in Galilee did not begin until after John was taken into prison. Below is another diagram from Dr Irving Jensen to help you visualize this somewhat confusing chronology. Click the chart and you will be able to readily distinguish the SHADED areas referring to Jesus' Ministry in the Gospel of Mark (charts of Matthew and Luke while not identical are similar). Note the left side of the diagram is UNSHADED and is a depiction of the TIME GAP or YEAR OF OBSCURITY of Jesus' ministry lasting about 12-14 months and described only in the Gospel of John. 


John records "After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing. John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized– for John had not yet been thrown into prison (John 3:22-24+).  The point John is making is that the events that occurred in John's account (beginning in about John 1:19) occurred before John was thrown into prison. 

Here is what we learn from the Gospel of John about what happened in that first year of our Lord's public ministry – that “Year of Obscurity.” Jesus met Andrew, John, James, and Peter who would later leave all to follow Jesus. Jesus went up to Jerusalem for His first Passover with His disciples. Jesus cleansed the Temple the first time. Our Lord's first miracle would take place in Cana of Galilee when He turned water into wine at a wedding feast. Jesus had a conversation with Nicodemus about the New Birth.

John Phillips adds that "During this period, the Lord performed His first signs and miracles and gave some of His earliest teaching. He traveled, too, between Galilee and Judea. The miracles were performed mostly in Galilee, and the teaching was given primarily in Judea. This period has been called "the year of obscurity," and we would know little or nothing about it if not for the gospel of John. (Exploring the Gospel of Mark: An Expository Commentary)

Hendriksen lists the following passages as parallel to Mark 1:14-15 - The Beginning of the Great Galilean Ministry Cf. Matt. 3:2; 4:12; 11:2; 14:3–5; Mark 6:17–20; Luke 3:19, 20+; Luke 4:14, 15+; John 3:24+; Jn 4:1–3, 43, 44+. Hendriksen explains that "A new section of Mark’s Gospel begins here. Between Christ’s baptism and temptation, on the one hand (Mark 1:9–13), and his arrival in Galilee, recorded here in Mark 1:14, on the other, there may well have been a time interval of about a year (ED: SEE NOTES ABOVE)....The time of Christ’s departure from Judea to Galilee (see John 4:1–3, 43+) had something to do with the imprisonment of John the Baptist. When John had been taken into custody (Mark 1:14), and the Pharisees, with headquarters in Jerusalem, had heard that Jesus was gaining and, through his disciples, was baptizing more disciples than John, the Master left Judea and started on his way to Galilee. He was aware of the fact that his own great popularity in the country region of Judea would bring about such keen resentment on the part of the religious leaders of the Jews that in the natural course of events this hatred would lead to a premature crisis. As soon as the appropriate moment for his death would arrive Jesus would voluntarily lay down his life (John 10:11, 14, 15, 18; 13:1). He was going to do this then, but not before then. Besides, Galilee, too, has lost sheep that must be brought into the fold." (Baker's NTC - Mark)

Matthew 4:12-17+ Mark 1:14-15+ Luke 4:14-15+
12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; 13 and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.

14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: 15 “THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES–16 “THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.”  17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

14 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  14 And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. 15 And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all. 

Had been taken in the "passive voice without a stated agent implies that God's purpose was being fulfilled in John's arrest (cf. parallel to Jesus, Mk 9:31; Mk 14:18) and that the time for Jesus' ministry in Galilee had now come." (John D. Grassmick - BKC)

Taken into custody (handed over) (3860)(paradidomi from para = alongside, beside, to the side of, over to + didomi = to give) conveys the basic meaning of to give over from one's hand to someone or something, especially to give over to the power of another. Mark's next use in in Mk 3:19+ to describe "Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him" as described in Mk 14:44+ ("he who was betraying Him had given them a signal,") and consummated in Mk 15:15+ when Pilate "Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified." Mark describes this more fully in Mark 6:17+ explaining "Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her."

Jesus begins His ministry where John the Baptist left off. Jesus did not compete with John, but in God's sovereignty, waited for John's ministry to come to its termination. And apparently John was in Herod's prison for almost a year before he was martyred.

Paradidomi in Mark -  Mk. 1:14; Mk. 3:19; Mk. 4:29; Mk. 7:13; Mk. 9:31; Mk. 10:33; Mk. 13:9; Mk. 13:11; Mk. 13:12; Mk. 14:10; Mk. 14:11; Mk. 14:18; Mk. 14:21; Mk. 14:41; Mk. 14:42; Mk. 14:44; Mk. 15:1; Mk. 15:10; Mk. 15:15

Jesus came into Galilee - Why did Jesus come? The theme verse for Mark tells us why Jesus came -- "For even the Son of Man did not COME to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mk 10:45+)> The previous notes discuss WHEN and WHY Jesus came into Galilee. But do not miss HOW Jesus came into Galilee. Mark does not specifically tell us so we have to cross reference Luke's record. Luke tells us that "Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit...and He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all." (Lk 4:14-15+) Once again we see Jesus giving us (teachers, preachers and all disciples) the perfect pattern by which we can perform the ministry He has assigned to each of us (and WE ALL have a ministry!) If Jesus continually relied on the Spirit to empower His ministry (see Peter's summary of Jesus' 3 year ministry - Acts 10:38+), we too must continually rely wholly on the Holy Spirit to successfully, supernaturally accomplish His ministry in and through us. There is simply no PLAN B. Sadly (I fear) many saints are attempting to minister and live the "Christ life" in their own natural power and without continual reliance on the supernatural power of the Spirit of Christ! The results may "look good" to men, but they are as "filthy rags" before God (Isa 64:6) and we will ultimately become frustrated and "flame out," because we failed to rely fully of the fire of the Spirit!

Constable points out that "Jesus changes setting more than forty times in his travels throughout Galilee and into gentile territory."[

Zechariah was right when he recorded "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts." (Zechariah 4:6). 

Paul was right when he declared "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, Who also made us adequate as servants of a New Covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." (2 Cor 3:5-6+)

Jesus said "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." (Jn 6:63)

THOUGHT - What is the message? DO NOT attempt to carry out your ministry in your power or you will ultimately fail! You MUST rely wholly on the Holy Spirit for your power, just as Jesus did! Walk like Jesus walked! See more detailed discussion in The Holy Spirit-Walking Like Jesus Walked!

See Map of Galilee in time of Jesus. Mark describes the beginning of Jesus' ministry in Galilee (as do Matthew and Luke) and it was a ministry which fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 9....

But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali (LOCATED IN GALILEE - SEE LOCATION ON MAP) with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.  2 The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light (John 1:4, 5, 9+, Jn 8:12+, Jn 12:46+); Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.  (Isaiah 9:1-2+)

Matthew in fact quotes from Isaiah in a passage that parallels Mark 1:14-15

Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; 13 and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:  15“THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI (SEE LOCATION ON MAP), BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES–  16 “THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.”  17 From that time Jesus began to preach (kerusso in the present tense) and say, “Repent (present imperative), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (eggizo as in Mk 1:15 also in perfect tense).” (Mt 4:12-17+)

Related Resources:

Spurgeon - When one servant of God is laid aside, it is a call to the rest to be the more earnest. So after John the Baptist was put into prison, “Jesus came into Galilee.” Sometimes a loss may be a gain, and if the loss of John was the means of bringing out Jesus, certainly both the Church and the world were the gainers

Lowell Johnson on Jesus waiting for John to step aside - 

John 4:1-3 tells us why Jesus left Judea and went to Galilee. Why now? Why not fully begin his public ministry earlier? Jesus could not and would not give the appearance of competing with John. If Jesus had begun His ministry in full force before John's ministry had been completed, the loyalty of the people would have been divided. John was sent to prepare the way and the way was not fully prepared until John was removed from the scene. Believers are not rivals. They are joint servants of the Lord who work together in their respective ministries. They are not to compete against each other. And when the time comes, when a servant's ministry is completed, he is to willingly step aside for the new ministry. I know I will not always be your pastor, if Jesus tarries His coming. Part of my responsibility as your pastor is to prepare you for the next man of God that will lead you.

In Joshua 1:2 God speaks to Joshua and says, “Moses my servant is dead, now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land I am giving them.” In other words, “Moses is dead, but the work must go on. When the workman dies, none of the work of God dies.” Moses had been preparing Joshua to take over when he was gone.

  • Take Moses from the people of God and He will give them Joshua.
  • Elijah is caught up to heaven, so Elisha will do the work.
  • Take John the Baptist away and the Voice of Jesus will be heard. It has been that way throughout the history of the Church.

Notice: “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came preaching in Galilee.” John would remain in prison for a year before he was beheaded by Herod because he preached against his sin of taking his brother Philip's wife. “When John was put in prison and Jesus came forth preaching” serve as a date to fix the approximate time that Jesus began to minister in Galilee. (Sermon)

Preaching the gospel of God - So just as John the Baptist "appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Mk 1:4+), now Jesus appears preaching repent and believe.  As Hendriksen says "What could be a better commentary (ON THE GOSPEL) than the following series of passages: John 3:16; Ro 8:3, 32; 2 Cor. 5:20, 21; Gal. 4:4, 5; Eph. 2:8–10; Titus 3:4–7?" (Ibid)

Matthew records that

Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Gospel of the kingdom (KINGDOM OF GOD/HEAVEN), and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)

Lowell Johnson observes that "Matthew 4:23 gives us the three main aspects of Christ's public ministry; and Matthew puts these in order of importance to Jesus: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, TEACHING in their synagogues, PREACHING the gospel of the kingdom, and HEALING all kinds of sickness and all kinds of diseases among the people.” Teaching, preaching, and healing; but His main focus was Teaching!" (Mark Commentary)

Preaching (proclaiming) (2784) see previous discussion of kerusso. Kerusso is used as a herald publicly proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God, a message was not only to be HEARD but to be HEEDED (obeyed) without question or reservation. Kerusso is used 6x in chapter 1 so clearly "proclamation" is a key word - Mk. 1:4; Mk. 1:7; Mk. 1:14; Mk. 1:38; Mk. 1:39; Mk. 1:45. (All Mark's uses of kerusso - Mk. 1:4; Mk. 1:7; Mk. 1:14; Mk. 1:38; Mk. 1:39; Mk. 1:45; Mk. 3:14; Mk. 5:20; Mk. 6:12; Mk. 7:36; Mk. 13:10; Mk. 14:9; Mk. 16:15; Mk. 16:20) 

David Guzik notes that Jesus "was a preacher and He brought the message of God’s rule on earth, though not in the manner that was popularly expected or desired. Most people wanted a political kingdom that would replace the oppressive occupation of the Romans.. Contrary to the expectations of most people in His day, Jesus brought a kingdom of love, not subjugation; of grace, not law; of humility, not pride; for all men, not only the Jews; to be received voluntarily by man, not imposed by force." (Mark 1 Commentary)

Related Resource: 

The gospel of God - This means either the good news from God or the good news about God and both are true but the emphasis is probably on the fact that it is from God. Gospel conveys the idea of a royal pronouncement of the arrival of a King and His Kingdom. 

Gospel of God - 8x in NT - Mk. 1:14; Rom. 1:1; Rom. 15:16; 2 Co. 11:7; 1 Thess. 2:2; 1 Thess. 2:8; 1 Thess. 2:9; 1 Pet. 4:17

Gospel (2098)(euaggelion from  = good + aggéllo = proclaim, tell) is literally good news or glad tidings. In the NT euaggelion is used only of God's message of salvation. The word euaggelion was commonly used in the first century as our words "good news" today. The idea then and now is something like this - “Have you any good news (euaggelion) for me today?” In modern secular use Gospel has an interesting meaning of something accepted as infallible truth or as a guiding principle (e.g., such and such is "the Gospel truth"). This is not a bad Biblical definition! Mark's uses of Gospel -  Mk. 1:1; Mk. 1:14; Mk. 1:15; Mk. 8:35; Mk. 10:29; Mk. 13:10; Mk. 14:9; Mk. 16:15

Keep in mind that Mark is writing to a mixed audience of Romans (Gentiles) and Jews. When he used the term Gospel, he did not define it. But each of these groups would have had some understanding of the word "Gospel" because it was used not in a secular sense (which the Romans would understand) and in the Septuagint (which the Jews would understand).

Regarding the Jewish understanding the related verb  euaggelizo (to bring good news) is found in the Septuagint and so it would have bee a word familiar to the Jews who had access to the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Here are some passages they would have known...

(Isaiah 40:9) Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” 

(Isaiah 52:7) How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” 

(Isaiah 61:1) The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; 

MacArthur comments that "So, while the word euaggelion (and verb euaggelizo) might have some broad meanings, its technical meaning was to describe the very best news possible, which was the ascent of a new King, the ascent of a sovereign to His throne over His people to produce salvation and peace and happiness. That is the way the Jews would view it, and that is the way it is used there by Isaiah.  Both passages (Isaiah 40:9, 52:7) consider, then, the return of the Jews from Babylonian exile. When they go back to their land and God again will dwell in Zion, God again will ascend to His throne. A new temple will be built, which is like God’s palace in which He dwells. And during the time of captivity, remember the temple had been destroyed, as it were. God’s palace had been turned to rubble. The people had been carried away. God had dwelt with the exiles in Babylon, according to the prophet Ezekiel. But the day would come, says Isaiah, when the people will go back, and God will go back with them and ascend to His throne. This will happen in the near future. And it did, in the great return of the Jews from Babylonian exile and the rebuilding of the temple, and God again taking His place as the sovereign over His theocratic nation Israel. So, it is a word of enthronement. It is the word of the good news of a sovereign ruler taking His throne. And the imagery is of God, the God of Israel, the only true God, establishing His throne in Jerusalem. In the near fulfillment, that happened in the return from Babylon. In the far fulfillment, that is the messianic promise that the King will come in the future and establish His kingdom in Israel, and set up His rule and His throne there, and that will happen when Jesus returns and sets up His millennial kingdom. (Ed: The upshot is that the Jewish readers of Mark's Gospel would have had some concept of the meaning of Mark's use of the word euaggelion.)

How would pagans (Romans, gentiles) understand the word Gospel? MacArthur reads an inscription from 9 BC extolling the Roman emperor Augustus which says "The Providence, which has ordered the whole of our life”showing concern and zeal, has ordained the most perfect consummation for human life by giving it to Augustus, by filling him with virtue for doing the work of a benefactor among men and by sending in him, as it were, a savior for us and those who come after us, to make war to cease, to create order everywhere. The birthday of the god Augustus is the beginning for the world of the euaggelion that has come to men through him.” This is fascinating for it is almost like a satanic counterfeit of Christ - a benefactor,  a savior, make war cease, create order everywhere, arrival of a god! Is that not what Jesus did when He became a man, to the pagan mind euaggelion was the birth of a man, Augustus, who was worshiped as deity. This was the "Gospel" to the pagan world. So they understood the basic meaning of the Greek word euaggelion. As MacArthur says "So, the Jews and the pagans would both see that word as signifying the arrival of a new monarch, and that would signify the arrival of a new era. And the new era would be an era of order and peace and salvation and blessing." (Sermon)

William Hendriksen on the Gospel of God - What could be a better commentary than the following series of passages: John 3:16; Ro 8:3, 32; 2 Cor. 5:20, 21; Gal. 4:4, 5; Eph. 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-7? (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark)

The writers of the New Testament adapted the term as God's message of salvation for lost sinners. Euaggelion is found in several combination phrases, each describing the Gospel like a multifaceted jewel in various terms from a different viewpoint (from the NASB, 1977):

  • the Gospel of the kingdom (Mt 4:23+)
  • the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mk 1:1+) - it centers in Christ
  • the Gospel of God (Mk 1:14+) - it originates with God and was not invented by man
  • the Gospel of the kingdom of God (Lk 16:16+)
  • the Gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24+),
  • the Gospel of His Son (Ro 1:9+)
  • the Gospel of Christ (Ro 15:19+)
  • the Gospel of the glory of Christ (2Co 4:4+)
  • the Gospel of your salvation (Ep 1:13+)
  • the Gospel of peace (Ep 6:15+)
  • the Gospel of our Lord Jesus (2Th 1:8)
  • the glorious Gospel of the blessed God (1Ti 1:11)
  • In Ro 16:25, 26+ Paul called it “my Gospel” indicating that the special emphasis he gave the Gospel in his ministry.

Mark 1:15  and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.

  • The time is fulfilled: Da 2:44 Da 9:25 Ga 4:4 Eph 1:10 
  • The kingdom of God is at hand - Mt 3:2 4:17 10:7 Lu 10:9,11 
  • Repent Mt 21:31,32 Lu 24:47 Ac 2:36-38 20:21 2Ti 2:25,26 
  • believe in the Gospel: Ro 16:26 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


God's sovereign clock had struck the note that it was the time for the Messiah to present His good news of the kingdom, a present kingdom (followed by a future earthly kingdom and then an eternal kingdom). Believers ought to be like the little boy whose family clock malfunctioned and struck 15x so that he rushed wide-eyed to his mother crying, “Mommy, it’s later than it’s ever been before!”

And saying, "The time is fulfilled - Literally "saying fulfilled is the season." The word time has the idea of “a favorable season of action; a golden opportunity. The time which God had appointed for the Messiah’s arrival had now fully come (cf "fullness of the time" = Gal 4:4+, "the fullness of the times," = Eph 1:10+). As Hendriksen phrases it "The appropriate season or golden opportunity for the fulfillment of God’s redemptive promises and along with it for the promulgation of the gospel had arrived. The hour for the realization of Isa. 9:1, 2+ had struck." (Ibid)

Jesus was preaching a message calling for immediate life change among His hearers. He was calling them to come to Him right now and not miss this opportunity. As the old saying goes, it may be true of the Gospel, that opportunity will only knock once at the door of your heart! Don't procrastinate or it could lead to your perpetual ruin! (cf 2 Cor 6:2)

After beginning His ministry in Galilee as discussed in Mark 1:14, Luke recorded an event that is not described in Mark's version:

He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written (QUOTING Isaiah 61:1-2a+), 18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,  19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”  20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Lk 4:16-21+)

In short, Jesus formally declared that the time is fulfilled and the Old Testament promise of the proclamation of the Good News had been formally commenced! The verb Jesus used in Luke 4:21+ for has been fulfilled is pleroo, the same verb Mark used in Mark 1:15, and both in the perfect tense indicating a past completed action with ongoing or lasting effect. As Grassnick says "God's appointed time of preparation and expectation, the Old Testament era, now stood fulfilled." (Ibid)

Guzik on time as used by Jesus - His idea was, “The strategic time for the kingdom of God is now. Now is your time of opportunity. Don’t let it pass you by.”

Paul also alludes to the time is fulfilled in Galatians writing that "When the fullness (pleroma derived from plerooof the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law." (Gal. 4:4+)

Time (season, proper time, opportune time) (2540)(kairos) means a period of time, frequently with the implication of being especially fit for something and without emphasis on precise chronology. Kairos does not refer to clock time or calendar time like the Greek word chronos but speaks of the fixed point in history, an opportune time, a season if you will for an event to occur. It describes the period as especially appropriate and favorable (the right time). Stated another way kairos is distinguished from chronos (time) because kairos views TIME from the aspect of the strategic opportunity it provides, and not simply a change from the past into the present into the future, not mere duration. (TrenchKairos can refer to a fixed and definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for or a strategic point in time. Kairos is used by Luke after the temptation of Jesus, Luke recording that "When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time (kairos)." (Lk 4:13+). Lenski writes "Kairos is a season, a brief period of time that is marked in some special way, while chronos is merely time running along day after day irrespective of what takes place in it. Jesus says: "Fulfilled has been the season," with the emphasis on the verb. 

Kairos is not so much a succession of minutes (Greek chronos 5550), but a period of opportunity. Chronos refers to chronological time, to clock time or calendar time, to a general space or succession of time. Kairos, on the other hand, refers to a specific and often predetermined period or moment of time and so views time in terms of events, eras, or seasons, such as the times of the Gentiles. In other words, kairos defines the best time to do something, the moment when circumstances are most suitable, the psychologically "ripe" moment. The point is that Jesus’ ministry took place according to God’s sovereign timetable.

Hiebert Time, denoting a favorable season for a particular undertaking, stressed that it was the opportune moment for the establishment of God’s kingdom in the acceptance of the messianic Servant. It was “a time heavy with eternal significance.” (Mark Commentary)

I like Lenski's description of time is fulfilled as "The figure is that of a vessel into which the days are poured until the vessel is full to the top. The thought is that the time has now fully arrived for the spread of the Messianic gospel." (The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel) 

MacArthur feels that time is fulfilled "indicated that His coming marked the turning point of salvation history." (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Fulfilled (4137)(pleroo) of a set span of time meaning that it is complete, has reached an end. Pleroo conveys the idea of attaining a standard of measurement or reaching the saturation point or level of containment. The idea of totality or fullness is always present. The perfect tense means the time or season has now been filled full and remains in that state.

Note - Twelve times in the Gospel of Matthew OT prophecies are said to be fulfilled in the life of Jesus (Mt 1:22, 2:15, 23; 3:15; 4:14; 5:17; 8:17; 12:17; 13:14, 35; Mt 21:4; 27:9). This is a major theme in Matthew's Gospel and  is designed to speak to the Jewish audience who were (or should have been) familiar with these OT prophecies (e.g., they had some understanding of Zechariah 9:9 and Ps 118:26 as they acclaimed Jesus King as He entered Jerusalem to begin Passion Week.)


And the kingdom of God is at hand - "As close as your hand." While the Kingdom of God has several meanings depending on the context, the simplest meaning is the Kingdom is at hand because the King Himself is present in their midst. And He comes with a message of good news describing victory over spiritual enemies and not over national enemies like Rome.

The Kingdom of God can be a somewhat complex subject but suffice it to say that it has a PRESENT REALITY which awaits a FUTURE REVELATION. The PRESENT REALITY is that the King is reigning in the hearts of those who have repented and believed in Him. The FUTURE REVELATION is the return of the King of kings to defeat His enemies and establish His Messianic rule on Earth (Millennium). It is predominantly this latter aspect of the Kingdom of God the nation was expecting and hoping for (cf (2 Sa 7:8-17; Isa. 11:1-9+; Isa 24:23; Jer. 23:5-6; Mic 4:6-7+; Zech 9:9-10; Zech 14:9+; cf. Mt. 20:21; Mk 10:37; Mk 11:10; Mk 12:35-37; Mk 15:43; Luke 1:31-33+; Lk 2:25+, Lk 2:38+; Acts 1:6+)

THOUGHT - All who live in the PRESENT REALITY are eagerly, expectantly looking for the FUTURE REVELATION, a mindset that motivates us to order our steps in a manner which is pleasing to the Lord. What (Who) you are looking for will (should) impact what (Who) you are living for beloved! That is why the Spirit inspired the writers of the NT to pen 1 in 30 verses either directly or indirectly describing the Second Coming o f the King! The first century church is said to have greeted one another with the watch word Maranatha. God grant that the church in these last days would do the same, and live accordingly. In Jesus' Name.  Amen

AN ESCHATOLOGICAL OR PROPHETIC VIEW OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD - One interpretation of Kingdom of God is that Jesus the King has arrived and fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel in Da 9:25+ "So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress." This passage prophesies the time when Messiah would come to Israel. Israel should have known this was the time from this prophecy, for Jesus Himself said “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes." (Lk 19:42+). And again Jesus declared "you did not recognize the time of your visitation." (Lk 19:44+). The tragedy recorded in all four Gospels is that when Jesus entered Jerusalem to begin His last week of life the Jewish crowds hailed Him as King "shouting: “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD (QUOTING Ps 118:26); Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  (Lk 19:38+, Mt 21:9-11, Mk 11:8-10+, Jn 12:13+). The problem was that Israel was expecting the Messiah to be a conquering King, defeating the Romans, failing to recognize that He first had to be a Suffering Servant (Mk 10:45+, Isaiah 53:1-12+) and failing to understand that in that role He did in fact conquer the even more deadly enemies of death (1 Cor 15:55-56, 57), the devil (Heb 2:14-15+), Sin (the sinful flesh) (Ro 6:11+) and the fallen, godless, evil world (Gal 6:14+). And He will return as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16+) to conquer all world powers arrayed against Him, His Kingdom and His people. (Rev 19:11-21+, cf Da 2:34-35+, Da 2:44-45+).

Kingdom of God - 66x in 65 verses -  Matt. 12:28; Matt. 19:24; Matt. 21:31; Matt. 21:43; Mk. 1:15; Mk. 4:11; Mk. 4:26; Mk. 4:30; Mk. 9:1; Mk. 9:47; Mk. 10:14; Mk. 10:15; Mk. 10:23; Mk. 10:24; Mk. 10:25; Mk. 12:34; Mk. 14:25; Mk. 15:43; Lk. 4:43; Lk. 6:20; Lk. 7:28; Lk. 8:1; Lk. 8:10; Lk. 9:2; Lk. 9:11; Lk. 9:27; Lk. 9:60; Lk. 9:62; Lk. 10:9; Lk. 10:11; Lk. 11:20; Lk. 13:18; Lk. 13:20; Lk. 13:28; Lk. 13:29; Lk. 14:15; Lk. 16:16; Lk. 17:20; Lk. 17:21; Lk. 18:16; Lk. 18:17; Lk. 18:24; Lk. 18:25; Lk. 18:29; Lk. 19:11; Lk. 21:31; Lk. 22:16; Lk. 22:18; Lk. 23:51; Jn. 3:3; Jn. 3:5; Acts 1:3; Acts 8:12; Acts 14:22; Acts 19:8; Acts 28:23; Acts 28:31; Rom. 14:17; 1 Co. 4:20; 1 Co. 6:9; 1 Co. 6:10; 1 Co. 15:50; Gal. 5:21; Col. 4:11; 2 Thess. 1:5

Matthew alone uses the essentially synonymous term kingdom of Heaven - 32x in 31 verses - Matt. 3:2; Matt. 4:17; Matt. 5:3; Matt. 5:10; Matt. 5:19; Matt. 5:20; Matt. 7:21; Matt. 8:11; Matt. 10:7; Matt. 11:11; Matt. 11:12; Matt. 13:11; Matt. 13:24; Matt. 13:31; Matt. 13:33; Matt. 13:44; Matt. 13:45; Matt. 13:47; Matt. 13:52; Matt. 16:19; Matt. 18:1; Matt. 18:3; Matt. 18:4; Matt. 18:23; Matt. 19:12; Matt. 19:14; Matt. 19:23; Matt. 20:1; Matt. 22:2; Matt. 23:13; Matt. 25:1

Kingdom (932)(basileia from basileus = a sovereign, king, monarch) denotes sovereignty, royal power, kingship, royal rule, dominion. Involved in the term is the sovereign authority of a ruler, the activity of ruling, and the realm of rule including its benefits. Basileia thus can refer to the territory or people over whom a king rules. There are two kingdoms at war, the kingdom of this world (cf "present evil world" Gal 1:4KJV+, James 4:4+, 1 Jn 2:15-17+) headed by Satan (see Lk 4:5-6+, see especially verse 6, cf 1 Jn 5:19+) and the Kingdom of God headed by Jesus (cf Jn 18:37+, Rev 19:16+).

THOUGHT - Believers are members of the Kingdom of God and are subject to the King, Jesus Christ. Are you still attempting to rule your life or have you willingly submitted yourself to Jesus with the inherent desire to do His will on earth as it is in Heaven?

In Luke 17 Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God...

Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”  (Luke 17:20-21-see comments for detailed discussion of the Kingdom of God)

Comment - This was the prevalent Jewish expectation (or at least certainly their hope) in Jesus' day -- the Kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. And this expectation explains the events that accompanied His "Triumphal Entry" (see significance of this entry) into Jerusalem described by the writers of the Gospels.

Later Luke records in chapter 19 the expectation of the Jews that the Messiah was going to inaugurate the Kingdom of God on earth "While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately." (See in depth comments on the Kingdom of God in notes on Lk 19:11).

Hiebert on Kingdom of God - the kingdom announced here by Jesus would naturally be understood by His hearers as denoting the eagerly expected messianic kingdom (ED: SEE JEWISH EXPECTATION OF MESSIANIC KINGDOM). The kingdom of God was a familiar concept to Jesus’ hearers. It was a common theme in the Old Testament and was widely discussed by the rabbinical teachers. (Mark Commentary)

Grassnick on Kingdom of God - This concept was familiar to the Jews of Jesus' day. In light of Old Testament prophecy (cf. 2 Sa 7:8-17; Isa. 11:1-9+; Isa 24:23; Jer. 23:4-6; Micah 4:6-7+; Zechariah 9:9-10; Zechariah 14:9+) they were expecting a future messianic (Davidic) kingdom to be established on earth (cf. Mt 20:21; Mk 10:37; Mk 11:10; Mk 12:35-37; Mk 15:43; Lk 1:31-33; Lk 2:25, 38; Acts 1:6-see commentary). So Jesus' hearers naturally understood His reference to the kingdom of God to be the long-awaited messianic kingdom. (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

The Jews longed for the spiritual fulfillment of passages like Isaiah 11:9+ 

They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. 

The Jews also longed for political fulfillment in passages like Daniel 7:22+

until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints (IN CONTEXT OF DANIEL A JEWISH BOOK THE SAINTS REFER TO BELIEVING JEWS - THE CHURCH WAS NOT EVEN KNOWN) took possession of the kingdom. (Messianic Kingdom)

One item that remained foremost on the minds of the 11 disciples after being taught a 40 day seminar on the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3+) was still the question

So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”(Acts 1:6+)

Comment - Jesus did not refute nor rebut their query! A literal reading of the question indicates that they are not asking when would Jesus restore the Kingdom to the "Church" but to Israel! Could these Jewish men have been any clearer? They still believed that God had a plan for the nation of Israel (cf Israel of God)! It is interesting that I have now read several articles by those who do not feel God has a plan for the literal nation of Israel, attempting to prove by word games that they do not believe in replacement theology/ supersessionism and should not be so classified. 

Here is my simplistic summary of the Kingdom of God/Heaven:



In Hearts of

Present Age
(Between 1st & 2nd Comings)


On earth

Messianic Age
(After 2nd Coming)


New Earth

Eternal Age
(After Christ gives Kingdom to Father)

  1. Internal, Invisible - in hearts of believers only - in this present age (between Christ's First and Second Comings)
  2. External, Visible - literal earthly Kingdom - will include both believers ("internal" aspect of Kingdom) and unbelievers - in the next age (After Christ's Second Coming)
  3. External, Visible literal heavenly Kingdom - only believers ("internal" aspect of Kingdom) - following age #2 (After Christ gives the Kingdom to His Father)

Henry Morris on Kingdom of God in Mark 1:15 - Compare Matthew 4:17, where the same incident is recorded. The "kingdom of heaven" is used by Matthew instead of "kingdom of God." It is clear that the two are synonymous. (Defender's Study Bible)

Vance Havner - The Kingdom was coming then in the Person of the Saviour; it was a spiritual Kingdom, the reign of God in the hearts of men. The Kingdom is coming soon; it will be a visible Kingdom when the King returns (ED: TO SET UP HIS MESSIANIC KINGDOM FOR 1000 YEARS) and once again our message should be "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Christ's message to the church for this hour is "Repent." But who dares to call the average Sunday‑morning congregation to repentance? Said Joseph Parker: "The man whose message is Repent sets himself against his age and will be battered mercilessly by the age whose moral tone he challenges. There is but one end for such a man… off with his head! You had better not preach repentance until you have pledged your head to heaven."

Related Resources:

Walter Wessel explains that "the Lord's kingship is both a present reality (God is exercising his authority now) and a future hope (God will reign in the eschaton—the End—when he finally puts down all opposition to his reign). (Expositor's Bible Commentary – Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke)

Grassnick - Jesus said God's rule "is near" (ēngiken, "has come near" or "has arrived"; cf. same verb form in Mark 14:42 ["Here comes"]). But it was not near in the form the Jews expected. Rather it had arrived in the sense that Jesus, the Agent of God's rule, was present among them (cf. Luke 17:20-21+). This was "the good news from God." (Ibid) (Bolding added) 

Hiebert agrees that "Jesus presented the kingdom as being at hand in Himself. The messianic kingdom, which in the Old Testament was in the future, had now come close to mankind in His own person and work. In Him, it was now “in the midst of” them (Luke 17:21+, ASV marg.). He Himself was the center and substance of the good news concerning the kingdom. Thus, Ridderbos observes, “Jesus’ self-revelation as the Messiah, the Son of man and Servant of the Lord, constitutes both the mystery and the unfolding of the whole gospel.” His presence as the personal embodiment of the kingdom produced an unavoidable crisis. Men’s response to Him determined their relationship to the kingdom. His presence also precipitated the conflict of righteousness with evil. His miracles and His power over the demonic world established the presence and triumph of God’s kingdom over the kingdom of Satan. In Him the kingdom of God invaded this present evil world (Gal 1:4KJV+) and has established a present, spiritual reign in those who accept Him as their Sovereign. However, the presence of the kingdom in Him did not result in the immediate abolition of the existing world order. The result is a present conflict between good and evil, but “the sons of the kingdom” and “the sons of the evil  one” (Mt 13:38) continue to grow side by side until the time of the coming harvest (Mt 13:37–43). The presence of the kingdom in the world is now veiled: its coming is “not with observation” (Luke 17:20–21+); it is not observed as a visible, cataclysmic event. Jesus also spoke of the kingdom as still future (Mt. 6:10+; Mt 7:21–23+; Mk 9:47–48; Lk 22:18+). The kingdom will yet come “with observation” (Luke 17:22–24+), as a critical visible event beheld everywhere, when the King will return to establish His authority over all the world. The triumphant cataclysmic establishment of the divine kingdom over the earth which the Old Testament revelation portrayed (Da 2:31–45+; Da 7:13-14+) is still future. Those who have given their allegiance to Christ as their King now eagerly await His return in glory. (Mark Commentary) (Bolding added)

At hand (1448)(eggizo) means to draw near and here the verb is in the perfect tense which means it has drawn near and is now present. With the King now on the scene the day has arrived. MacArthur comments "In essence Jesus was saying, “Because I am the King, wherever I am My kingdom is present.” (Ibid) Lenski adds the "idea is not that it (THE KINGDOM) is still a little way off, still has to be waited for for a while; but it is so close to the hearers of Jesus that they may enter it at this very moment. How they may enter is, therefore, told them in the very next words: by repentance and faith." (Ibid)



The command "About Face" is describes the act of pivoting 180 degrees, especially in a military formation (see diagram above). Another English definition says it is "a reversal of direction, of attitude, behavior, or point of view."  This is a good picture of repentance that Jesus commands. Jesus continues the call to repentance made by John in Mark 1:4+

Repentance is to leave
The sins we loved before,
And show that we in earnest grieve,
By doing so no more.

Repent and believe in the Gospel - The question is how do we gain entrance to the Kingdom of God? Jesus gives us the answer in this passage! ​Repent of your sin. Believe in the Savior! (This is only time in NT we find the phrase "believe in the Gospel!) Both verbs are commands in the present imperative calling for these two attributes to be our lifestyle. Yes we need repentance the first time we believe and are saved (that's the once for all justification, perfect positional righteousness of Christ imputed or placed on our spiritual ledger so to speak). But the present tense signifies that we need to keep on repenting, that repenting needs to be our habitual practice, that repenting needs to be our lifestyle! Luther said it this way "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent’ he called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance."Why? Because we keep on sinning because we fall prey to the wiles and seductions and lures of our fallen flesh, saying "Go ahead. You'll enjoy it. No one will know. So what's your hang-up. Just do it!" That's not a lie from the pit of hell, but a lie from the pit of our stomach, from our fallen nature that continually wages war against our soul (1 Peter 2:11+). And so if we fail to depend on the Spirit's enabling power to take that thought captive and to destroy that deceitful lust, we fall and commit sin. So we come back to repentance as our lifestyle. All true believers are lifelong repenters. The Christian who has stopped repenting has stopped growing. In truth we will never outgrow (become so spiritually mature) our need of repentance (coupled with confession). Indeed "When a person becomes a Christian, the repentant sinner becomes a repenting saint." (Blanchard) Spurgeon adds that "You are not living to God as you ought unless you repent daily." Before the Iron Curtain fell the believers in these Communist countries were known as "Repenters." They were men and women who had counted the cost! 

Matthew records a similar call by John the Baptist to "Repent (present imperative), for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand (eggizo in perfect tense)." (Mt 3:2+)

Matthew's version parallels that of Mark but he does not have the verb believe "From that time (WHAT TIME? Mt 4:12, 13+) Jesus began to preach (kerusso in the present tense) and say, “Repent (present imperative), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (eggizo as in Mk 1:15 also in perfect tense).” (Mt 4:17+)

Paul links repent and believe in Acts 19:4+ "Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”

Spurgeon writes "OUR Lord Jesus Christ commences His ministry by announcing its leading commands. He comes up from the wilderness newly anointed, like the bridegroom from his chamber, His love notes are repentance and faith. He comes forth fully prepared for His office, having been in the desert, “tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin,” His loins are girded like a strong man to run a race. He preaches with all the earnestness of a new zeal, combined with all the wisdom of a long preparation, in the beauty of holiness from the womb of the morning He glitters with the dew of His youth. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for Messiah speaks in the greatness of His strength. He cries unto the sons of men, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.”....Think not, O men, that the Gospel is a thing left to your option to choose or not! Dream not, O sinners, that you may despise the Word from heaven and incur no guilt! Think not that you may neglect it and no ill consequences shall follow! It is just this neglect and despising of yours which shall fill up the measure of your iniquity. (Faith and Repentance Inseparable)

J C Ryle -  We read that he came saying, "Repent, and believe the Gospel." This is that old sermon which all the faithful witnesses of God have continually preached, from the very beginning of the world. From Noah down to the present day the substance of their address has been always the same--"Repent and believe." The apostle Paul told the Ephesian elders, when he left them for the last time, that the substance of his teaching among them had been "repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 20:21+) He had the best of precedents for such teaching. The Great Head of the Church had given him a pattern. Repentance and faith were the foundation stones of Christ's ministry. Repentance and faith must always be the main subjects of every faithful minister's instruction. We need not wonder at this, if we consider the necessities of human nature. All of us are by nature born in sin and children of wrath, and all need to repent, be converted, and born again, if we would see the kingdom of God. All of us are by nature guilty and condemned before God, and all must flee to the hope set before us in the Gospel, and believe in it, if we would be saved. All of us, once penitent, need daily stirring up to deeper repentance. All of us, though believing, need constant exhortation to increased faith. Let us ask ourselves what we know of this repentance and faith. Have we felt our sins, and forsaken them? Have we laid hold on Christ, and believed? We may reach heaven without learning, or riches, or health, or worldly greatness. But we shall never reach heaven, if we die impenitent and unbelieving. A new heart, and a lively faith in a Redeemer, are absolutely needful to salvation. May we never rest until we know them by experience, and can call them our own! With them all true Christianity begins in the soul. In the exercise of them consists the life of religion. It is only through the possession of them, that men have peace at the last. Church-membership and priestly absolution alone save no one. They only die in the Lord who "repent and believe." (Commentary)

J Edwin Orr asks "Does repent and believe the gospel imply that the sinner must do two things to be saved, and not one only? The exhortation is really only one requirement. The instruction, “Leave London and go to Los Angeles,” sounds like a two-fold request, but it really is only one; it is impossible to go to Los Angeles without leaving London."

Guzik has a similar thought - Some people think that repentance is mostly about feelings, especially feeling sorry for your sin. It is wonderful to feel sorry about your sin, but repent isn’t a “feelings” word. It is an action word. Jesus told us to make a change of the mind, not merely to feel sorry for what we have done. Repentance speaks of a change of direction, not a sorrow in the heart.. Repentance does not describe something we must do before we come to God; it describes what coming to God is like. If you are in New York, and I tell you to come to Los Angeles, I don’t really need to say “Leave New York and come to Los Angeles.” To come to Los Angeles is to leave New York, and if I haven’t left New York, I certainly can’t come to Los Angeles. We can’t come to the kingdom of God unless we leave our sin and the self-life. (Mark 1 Commentary)

Similarly a drowning man who is clinging to a scrap of wood needs to do two things when a lifeguard reaches him. He needs to release the wood and entrust himself to the lifeguard.

Spurgeon said it this way - Repentance and faith are like Siamese twins. If one is sick, the other cannot be well, for they live but one life.

Lloyd-Jones says "You cannot drive repentance out of the teaching of Christ without destroying his teaching utterly and entirely."

Hiebert rightly says "The call to repentance will never become obsolete until human sin has been completely vanquished. The hearers must also put their continuing trust in the gospel." (Mark Commentary)

John Blanchard says "Repentance and faith are graces we have received, not goals we have achieved."

THOUGHT - I would add that a natural man cannot obey either of Jesus' commands unless he is supernaturally enabled by the Holy Spirit Who gives us the desire to repent and believe and the power to repent and believe (Php 2:13NLT+)! See the discussion of our continual need to depend on the Holy Spirit in order to obey the NT commands (or "How to Keep All 1642 Commandments in the New Testament!") Matthew Henry adds that "Wherever God designs to give life He gives repentance."


Repent (present tense - calls for a lifestyle of repentance)(3340)(metanoeo from meta = with, among + noeo = to think, exercise the mind <> from nous = mind; cf metanoia) means to have another mind. Friberg says it literally means to "perceive afterward, with the implication of being too late to avoid consequences." (Analytical Lexicon). Metanoeo means to change one's mind (one's heart) in respect to sin, God, and self. To turn to God and from sin (Luke 15:7,10+ = "one sinner who repents", cf illustration of repentance = 1 Th 1:9, 10+). While repentance involves an intellectual decision, it is more than that because the intellectual decision must produce a change in one's behavior.

Repentance is aptly depicted by the military command "About, face!" The repentant person in effect turns around 180 degrees and goes the other direction. And keep in mind that the spiritual dynamics of true repentance are enabled by the Holy Spirit - repentance is a GIFT FROM GOD! (cf Acts 5:31+, Acts 11:18+). In Romans Paul writes "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness (chrestos) of God (present tense - continually) leads you to repentance?" (Ro 2:4+) What is it that "leads you to repentance?" God's kindness! In his last letter Paul writes we as teachers should "with gentleness (be) correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will." (2 Ti 2:25-26+) In other words repentance is a gift from our gracious God and not merely a human effort, although it does ultimately call for the repentant individual to make a volitional choice. Repentance involves the mysterious interaction of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. Further, this change of mind may, especially in the case of Christians who have fallen into sin, be preceded by sorrow (2 Cor 7:8, 9, 10, 11); but sorrow for sin, though it may cause repentance, is not repentance. Darrell Bock writes "the point is that repentance involves a reorientation of perspective, a fresh point of view. When dealing with God's plan, it means to see that plan in a new way and to orient oneself to it. Luke demonstrates the fruit of repentance expresses itself concretely (Lk 3:10-14+). Repentance expresses itself in life, especially in how one treats others." (Gulp!) There can be no genuine conversion without genuine repentance.

William Barclay - There is the word repent. Now repentance is not so easy as sometimes we think . The Greek word metanoeo literally means to change one's mind. We are very apt to confuse two things--sorrow for the consequences of sin and sorrow for sin. Many a man is desperately sorry because of the mess that sin has got him into, but he very well knows that, if he could be reasonably sure that he could escape the consequences, he would do the same thing again. It is not the sin that he hates; it is its consequences. Real repentance means that a man has come, not only to be sorry for the consequences of his sin, but to hate sin itself. Long ago that wise old writer, Montaigne, wrote in his autobiography, "Children should be taught to hate vice for its own texture, so that they will not only avoid it in action, but abominate it in their hearts--that the very thought of it may disgust them whatever form it takes." Repentance means that the man who was in love with sin comes to hate sin because of its exceeding sinfulness. (Mark 1 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)

Spurgeon - It is clear, from this passage, that our Lord exhorted men to repent, and to believe the gospel. There are some, who profess to be his followers, who will not suffer us to do this. We may teach men, and warn them, they say, but we must not exhort them to repent and believe. Well, as the contention of these people is not in accordance with the Scriptures, we are content to follow the Scriptures, and to do as Jesus did, so we shall say to sinners, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

God uses at least four factors to prompt repentance =

  1. The knowledge of God's Truth should prompt repentance (Mt 11:21-24 - where Chorazin, et al refused to repent at the Truth; cp Lk 16:30-31 which also illustrates the sufficiency of the Truth to prompt repentance.) Note the deadly deception - one can have Truth (as well as #2 sorrow) without true repentance! Beware!
  2. Sorrow for sin can lead to repentance (2Cor 7:9-10), but the sorrow per se should NOT be confused with true repentance. E.g., Judas felt sorrow for betraying Jesus but did not repent.
  3. God's kindness prompts (leads to) repentance (Ro 2:4+). In short, repentance is an individual's response to God's supernatural enabling. 
  4. Fear of final judgment (as discussed in Acts 17:30-31+) can motivate one to true repentance. Indeed, realization that there is no other way of escape but through Jesus, should cause any "rational" person to repent.

Repentance is not an act separate from faith, but saving faith includes and implies the true change of mind which is called repentance. As noted in the use of the present imperative (see uses below), to repent is not just an event at the time of conversion, but represents an ongoing lifestyle -- we sin daily, and sometimes we get caught in a "rut" (habit) of sin, and so we are daily in desperate need of God's gracious gift of repentance. In the parable of the two sons, our Lord Jesus Christ gives a beautiful illustration of what true repentance looks like (Read Mt 21:28-31 = notice second son changed his mind and his behavior!). As Albert Barnes wisely said "False repentance dreads the consequences of sin; true repentance dreads sin itself."

Repentance says, "I'm sorry,"
but also shows, "I'm through."

Remorse is being sorry.
Repentance is being sorry enough to stop.
Repentance means hating sin enough to turn from it.

Believe (4100)(pisteuo from pistispistos; related studies the faith, the obedience of faith) means to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one’s trust. To accept as true, genuine, or real. To have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something or someone. To consider to be true. To accept the word or evidence of. It is intellectual reception of truth, but it does not stop there (Demons believe intellectually - James 2:19+) but by the grace of God it is internal reception, that is reception of the truth of the Gospel and the truth about Jesus in our heart (Ro 10:9-10+) which enables (by the Spirit) the obedience of faith, which is clear evidence that the faith is genuine saving faith. Faith alone saves but the faith that saves is never alone!  If there's a real fire in the fireplace (genuine belief), there will be visible smoke coming from the chimney on the rooftop (obedience/good works)! As John the Baptist said "Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance." (Mt 3:2) If repentance and belief are true, they will bring forth spiritual fruit. 

G Campbell Morgan has a convicting comment on believe IN the Gospel - “There are many people who believe the Gospel, but they do not believe IN it. It was an appeal not only to accept it as an intellectually accurate statement; but to rest IN it, to repose IN it. It was a call to let the heart find ease IN it.”

Gospel (2098) see note above on euaggelion. Repeated for emphasis. 


D L Moody rightly said "Man is born with his back toward God. When he truly repents, he turns right around and faces God. Repentance is a change of mind. . . . Repentance is the tear in the eye of faith."

Beware of procrastinating regarding repentance for as J C Ryle said "There is one case of death-bed repentance recorded—the penitent thief—that no one should despair; and only one, that no one should presume." Thomas Fuller adds "You cannot repent too soon, because you do not know how soon it may be too late."

A. W. Tozer wrote that "God will take nine steps toward us, but he will not take the tenth. He will incline us to repent, but he cannot do our repenting for us."

Robert Smith - True repentance has a double aspect; it looks upon things past with a weeping eye, and upon the future with a watchful eye.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that "Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church… Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance."

George Whitefield - Our repentance needs to be repented of, and our tears washed in the blood of Christ.

J. Edwin Orr writes that "The word “repentance” or “repent” is used in the writings of Paul to the Romans, the Corinthians, and to Timothy, and by the writer to the Hebrews as well as by Peter. It occurs ten times in the Book of the Revelation of John. In all of the New Testament it appears more than fifty times. Hebrews lists it as an elementary doctrine of Christ, a foundation. How serious then is the condition of a professing church where repentance is missing from its elementary evangelism or church growth?

In his book I Surrender, Patrick Morley writes that the church’s integrity problem is in the misconception “that we can add Christ to our lives, but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in behavior.”

The subject of repentance is found in nearly every book of the Bible, just as sin is found in nearly every book of the Bible. And where there is sin, there must be either judgment or repentance and forgiveness. There is no third way.

Lowell Johnson - Repentance is not feeling sorry for your sins. Repentance is not turning over a new leaf. Repentance is a change of your mind about sin – your sin! It is a change of mind that leads to a change of your heart which leads to a change of your direction in life. You cannot turn TO the Lord Jesus unless you turn FROM your sin. Repentance is a radical turning from sin that would become manifest in the fruit of righteousness. (Sermon)

Vance Havner wrote that "It is a change of mind about sin and self and the Savior."

"This word (repent) was the message of the Baptist, of Jesus, of Peter, of Paul, this radical change of attitude and life." (Robertson)

Peter makes it clear that repentance is an integral aspect of salvation writing "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9+) Come to what? Salvation. In context of course God's desire is that none would perish but all come to salvation (cf 1 Ti 2:4). But here Peter substitutes "repentance." Peter's point is DO NOT leave repentance out of your message or it will not be a message of salvation! 

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”  (Acts 17:30-31+)

Paul declared  "I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 20:20-21+)

Related Resources

From Middletown Bible 

The Greek word for REPENTANCE is METANOIA (met-an-oy-ah) which is made up of two parts:


            Thus REPENTANCE means "CHANGE THE MIND." This word is similar to another Greek word (which is also an English word). This is the word METAMORPHOSIS (Greek = metamorphoo). This word is also made up of two parts:


            Metamorphosis means a CHANGE OF FORM.

God has created an insect, the butterfly, that beautifully illustrates (pictures) the word "metamorphosis." The butterfly was once a worm-like CATERPILLAR (ED: A GOOD DESCRIPTION OF ALL US BEFORE WE WERE SAVED!). What a CHANGE has taken place! What a TRANSFORMATION! What went into the COCOON looks completely DIFFERENT from what came out!! So, METAMORPHOSIS involves the complete TRANSFORMATION of the body, and METANOIA involves the complete TRANSFORMATION of the MIND The way we THINK at the time we get saved and after we are saved should be COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than the way we used to THINK before we were saved !! (Repentance and Conversion)

Stool of Repentance (See Picture; See Wikipedia Description) was an elevated seat in a Scottish Church, on which persons were formerly compelled to sit as a punishment for having committed certain of the deadly sins.

ED: This seems a bit harsh and also strikes me as man originated, not Spirit initiated. I suppose one might not agree to take the stool of repentance unless the Spirit had granted repentance, but that is not an absolute certainty for some may have been coerced by others aware of their sin. This seems a far cry from James 5:16+!

ILLUSTRATION OF NEED FOR REPENTANCE - Those of us who grew up in the fifties are quite familiar with the name Mickey Cohen because he was the most flamboyant criminal of the day. Perhaps some have even heard of Cohen's becoming a "Christian." The story goes like this: At the height of his career, Cohen was persuaded to attend an evangelistic service at which he showed a surprising interest in Christianity. Hearing of this, and realizing what a great influence a converted Mickey Cohen could have for the Lord, some prominent Christian leaders began visiting him in an effort to convince him to accept Christ. Late one night, after repeatedly being encouraged to open the door of his life on the basis of Revelation 3:20+ ("I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will go in and eat with him, and he with me"), Cohen prayed. Hopes ran high among his believing acquaintances. But with the passing of time no one could detect any change in Cohen's life. Finally they confronted him with the reality that being a Christian meant he would have to give up his friends and his profession. Cohen demurred. His logic? There are "Christian football players, Christian cowboys, Christian politicians; why not a Christian gangster?"

“The fact is,” said evangelist J Edwin Orr (one of the leaders who had spoken with Cohen) “repentance is the missing note in much modern evangelism.” The absurdity of what happened to Mickey Cohen dramatically underscores what is happening to untold numbers today. Though many ostensibly have "accepted Christ," they continue life as they always have. There is no repentance. They remain self-sufficient, even puffed up. Indeed, they are nowhere near the kingdom because they have not experienced the poverty of spirit that the first Beatitude insists is the initial ground of the kingdom of heaven. (Hughes, R. K. Sermon on the Mount) (Bolding added)

All sins! By Spurgeon
The truly repentant person hates all of his sins, not just certain ones. He says, "Cover yourself with the finest gold, O sin, I will still hate you! Yes, cover yourself with pleasure, make yourself flashy, like the snake with its turquoise scales- I still hate you, for I know your venom, and I run from you,
even when you come to me in the most illusive clothing." All sin must be given up, or else you will never have Christ; all evil must be renounced, or else the gates of heaven must be locked to keep you out forever. Let us, remember, then, that for repentance to be sincere, it must be total repentance. True repentance is a turning of the heart, as well as of the life; it is the giving up of the whole soul to God, to be His forever and ever. It is a renunciation of the sins of the heart, as well as the corruptions of the life.

Repentance & Faith  Arthur Pink, "Salvation From the Penalty of Sin"

Repentance is the hand releasing those filthy objects it had previously clung to so tenaciously.
Faith is extending an empty hand to God to receive His gift of grace.

Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin.
Faith is receiving a sinner's Savior.

Repentance is a revulsion of the filth and pollution of sin.
Faith is a seeking of cleansing therefrom.

Repentance is the sinner covering his mouth and crying, "Unclean, unclean!"
Faith is the leper coming to Christ and saying, "Lord, if You will, You can make me clean."

Bill Elliff - Repentance

  • The believer in Christ is a lifelong repenter. He begins with repentance, and ends with repentance.
  • Repentance is a change of mind regarding sin and God--an inward turning from sin to God.
  • Repentance is hating what you once loved, and loving what you once hated; exchanging irresistible sin for an irresistible Christ.
  • The religious man often deceives himself in his repentance. The deceived repenter would be a worse sinner if he could, but society holds him back.
  • He aspires to a 'Heaven' of light-hearted ease and recreation--and extended vacation; but a 'Heaven of holiness' would be Hell to such a man.
  • Yet God is holy, and God is in Heaven. He cannot be blamed for sending the unholy man to Hell despite his most articulate profession.

By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them

The sure test of the quality of any supposed change of heart will be found in its permanent effects. ‘By their fruits you shall know them’ is as applicable to the right method of judging ourselves as of judging others. Whatever, therefore, may have been our inward experience, whatever joy or sorrow we may have felt, unless we bring forth fruits meet for repentance, our experience will profit us nothing. Repentance is incomplete unless it leads to confession and restitution in cases of injury; unless it causes us to forsake not merely outward sins, which others notice, but those which lie concealed in the heart; unless it makes us choose the service of God and live not for ourselves but for Him. There is no duty which is either more obvious in itself, or more frequently asserted in the Word of God, than that of repentance. - Charles Hodge

I Will Leave You Alone God… If... People who want nothing to do with God make themselves candidates for His ultimate judgment. They spend their days alienated from Him, and will spend eternity banished from God's presence unless they repent.

Aaron Burr, the third Vice President of the United States, was reared in a godly home and admonished to accept Christ by his grand-father Jonathan Edwards. But he refused to listen. Instead, he de­clared that he wanted nothing to do with God and said he wished the Lord would leave him alone. He achieved a measure of political suc­cess in spite of repeated disappointments. But he was also involved in continuous strife. When he was forty-eight years old, he killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. He lived for thirty-two more years, but was unhappy and unproductive. During this sad chapter in his life he declared to a group of friends,"Sixty years ago I told God that if He would let me alone, I would let Him alone, and God has not bothered about me since." Aaron Burr got what he wanted.

ILLUSTRATION - The "R" Word -Jimmy had trouble pronouncing the letter “R” so his teacher gave him a sentence to practice at home: “Robert gave Richard a rap in the rib for roasting the rabbit so rare.” Some days later the teacher asked him to say the sentence for her. Jimmy rattled it off like this: “Bob gave Dick a poke in the side for not cooking the bunny enough.” He had evaded the letter “R.” There are a lot of people today—including Christians—who go to great lengths to avoid the “R” word of “Repentance.”

An illustration from the Speaker's Quote Book

A Sunday school teacher asked a class what the word “repentance” means.

A little boy put up his hand and said, “It is being sorry for your sins.”

A little girl also raised her hand and said, “It is being sorry enough to quit.”

A schoolgirl was saved and someone asked her, “What were you before?” She said, “A sinner.” Then she was asked, “What are you now?” She answered, “A sinner.” They asked, “What’s the difference?” She answered, “I was a sinner running after sin. But now I’m a sinner running from sin.” (Zuck, R. B.. The Speaker's Quote Book. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications)

It's never too soon to repent, but soon it may be too late.

Mark 1:15 The First Word Of Salvation
Repent, and believe in the gospel. —Mark 1:15

Evangelist J. Edwin Orr said that “the first word of the gospel” is repentance. It’s a turning away from sin and toward the Lord. The prophet Zechariah cried out to the people of Israel to repent and return to the Lord: “Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds” (Zech. 1:4).

Salvation begins with repentance. It involves a change of mind about sin, which leads to belief in Jesus Christ and brings us the forgiveness of God. Yet repentance is more than a once-for-all act that initiates salvation. It is an ongoing choice—a change of mind that sees sin as wrong, confesses it, and rejects it.

Martin Luther put it this way in the first of the 95 theses he nailed to the door of the Wittenberg church: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘repent,’ He willed that the entire life of a believer be one of repentance.” It’s an ongoing mindset toward sin.

Here’s the point. The change of mind that is the heart of repentance should become a pattern of thinking—a lifestyle. Even though we are secure in Christ, we must continue to see sin through God’s eyes and acknowledge it as evil. And when we sin, let’s repent, confess our wrongdoing, and receive the forgiveness of God. By David Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

I reached for His tender compassion
Because I was sinful and weak,
And oh, the sweet words of forgiveness
I heard Him so willingly speak!

Repentance means hating sin enough to turn from it.

True Repentance

Two kinds of repentance are possible in human experience. One is ‘the sorrow of the world,” a feeling induced by the fear of getting caught. Many people recognize the unpleasant consequences of their sin and are persuaded that they are guilty. This results in a superficial sorrow that may lead to a temporary reformation but not to a genuine turning to Christ for forgiveness. Godly sorrow, on the other hand, is accompanied by conviction of sin, the work of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:37+). This stems from the realization of offending a holy God. It leads to genuine repentance.

An unknown author wrote, “There is a radical distinction between natural regret and God-given repentance. The flesh can feel remorse, acknowledge its evil deeds, and be ashamed of itself. However, this sort of disgust with past actions can be quickly shrugged off, and the individual can soon go back to his old wicked ways. None of the marks of true repentance described in 2 Corinthians 7:11 are found in his behavior. Out of a list of 10 men in the Bible who said, “I have sinned,” we believe only five actually repented. They were David (2 Sa 12:13), Nehemiah (Neh. 1:6), Job (Job 42:5,6), Micah (Micah 7:9), and the prodigal son (Luke 15:18).” - H.G.Bosch. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Oh! for a closer walk with God;
A calm and heavenly frame;
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

Where is the blessedness I knew
When first I saw the Lord'
Where is the soul-refreshing view
Of Jesus and His Word'

What peacful hours I once enjoy’d!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void,
The world can never fill.

Return, O holy Dove, return
Sweet Messenger of rest!
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn,
And drove Thee from my breast.

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.

So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

Olney Hymns, William Cowper,

Vance HavnerMark 1:14-15 - A Prophet in His Own Country - AFTER John was cast into prison, our Lord came and dwelt in Capernaum, thus fulfilling Isaiah 9:1-2 and 42:6-7. Mark tells us (1:14-15) that He came into Galilee saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye and believe the gospel." Luke tells us that He came to Galilee "in the power of the spirit." At Nazareth, His own hometown, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day "as His custom was." It reminds us of Paul entering the synagogue of the Jews in Thessalonica "as his manner was." It is not the custom or manner of many nowadays, even many Christians, to follow this example.
Anyone might address the congregation, so our Lord stood up to read. He took His text from Isaiah 61:1-2: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." It is significant that He did not read the next statement from Isaiah: "and the day of vengeance of our God." This has to do with judgment, and that will follow when Messiah comes again. His message then was one of grace. Following this reading, our Lord made a clear claim of Messiahship: "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." But He knew they would not receive Him, and He declared that truth—proven so many times since—that no prophet is accepted in his own country.
No doubt they were saying to Him, in thought at least, "Why don't you do the wonders here you did at Capernaum?" Our Lord then refers to Elijah and Elisha who had the same experience—were not appreciated at home, but did their greatest work among strangers. Here is a truth seldom mentioned today except to emphasize its exceptions. One hears occasionally, "So-and-so has proven an exception to the proverb about a prophet in his own country." But there is no doubt that preachers will fare better if they go to new fields rather than settle where all the neighbors know them by their first name. Familiarity does breed contempt, and a stranger from somewhere else with a poorer message will be received far better than home-talent with much to say. Perhaps it ought not be so, but it is.
It would seem to follow as an inevitable corollary that even after he has settled in a new field, it is not well for the average minister, at least, to be a "hail-fellow-well-met" on too many fish-frys and parlor get-togethers. People either look up to a preacher or down on him, and too much backslapping and "regular-fellow" tactics add little to his power on Sunday. He will be called cranky anyway by some people, no matter what he does; so it is well to stay apart—even too much—and have the respect of those who might pick weak spots in his armor in too much gadding around.
The Lord Jesus Christ found He could do no mighty works where He had grown up. The applications of the proverb which He stated should be more thoughtfully pondered today. None knew men so well as He, and any principle He proved true can scarcely be overruled by you and me. (Vance Havner)

Complete About Face

Wabush, a town in a remote portion of Labrador, Canada, was completely isolated for some time. But recently a road was cut through the wilderness to reach it. Wabush now has one road leading into it, and thus, only on one road leading out. If someone would travel the unpaved road for six to eight hours to get into Wabush, there is only way he or she could leave—-by turning around.

Each of us, by birth, arrives in a town called Sin. As in Wabush, there is only one way out—a road built by God himself. But in order to take that road, one must first turn around. That complete about face is what the Bible calls repentance, and without it, there’s no way out of town. - Brian Weatherdon

Prone to Wander

It was a bright Sunday morning in 28th century London, but Robert Robinson’s mood was anything but sunny. All along the street there were people hurrying to church, but in the midst of the crowd Robinson was a lonely man. The sound of church bells reminded him of years past when his faith in God was strong and the church was an integral part of his life. It had been years since he set foot in a church—years of wandering, disillusionment, and gradual defection from the God he once loved. That love for God—once fiery and passionate—had slowly burned out within him, leaving him dark and cold inside.

Robinson heard the clip-clop, clip-clop of a horse-drawn cab approaching behind him. Turning, he lifted his hand to hail the driver. But then he saw that the cab was occupied by a young woman dressed in finery for the Lord’s Day. He waved the driver on, but the woman in the carriage ordered the carriage to be stopped.

“Sir, I’d be happy to share this carriage with you,” she said to Robinson. “Are you going to church?” Robinson was about to decline, then he paused. “Yes,” he said at last. “I am going to church.” He stepped into the carriage and sat down beside the young woman.

As the carriage rolled forward Robert Robinson and the woman exchanged introductions. There was a flash of recognition in her eyes when he stated his name. “That’s an interesting coincidence,” she said, reaching into her purse. She withdrew a small book of inspirational verse, opened it to a ribbon-bookmark, and handed the book to him. “I was just reading a verse by a poet named Robert Robinson. Could it be…?”

He took the book, nodding. “Yes, I wrote these words years ago.”

“Oh, how wonderful!” she exclaimed. “Imagine! I’m sharing a carriage with the author of these very lines!”

But Robinson barely heard her. He was absorbed in the words he was reading. They were words that would one day be set to music and become a great hymn of the faith, familiar to generations of Christians:

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace’
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.

His eyes slipped to the bottom of the page where he read:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it—
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

He could barely read the last few lines through the tears that brimmed in his eyes. “I wrote these words—and I’ve lived these words. ‘Prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love.’”

The woman suddenly understood. “You also wrote, ‘Here’s my heart, O take and seal it.’ You can offer your heart again to God, Mr. Robinson. It’s not too late.”

And it wasn’t too late for Robert Robinson. In that moment he turned his heart back to God and walked with him the rest of his days.

Ron Lee Davis, Courage to Begin Again

Harry Ironside on Repentance (from Middletown Bible)

"Repentance is the sinner’s recognition of and acknowledgment of his lost estate" (Except Ye Repent, p. 11).

"Literally [repentance] means "a change of mind. It actually implies a complete reversal of one’s inward attitude. To repent is to change one’s attitude toward self, toward sin, toward God, toward Christ....So to face these tremendous facts is to change one’s mind completely, so that the pleasure lover sees and confesses the folly of his empty life; the self-indulgent learns to hate the passions that express the corruption of his nature; the self-righteous sees himself a condemned sinner in the eyes of a holy God; the man who has been hiding from God seeks to find a hiding place in Him; the Christ-rejector realizes and owns his need of a Redeemer, and so believes unto life and salvation" (Except Ye Repent, pages 15-16).

"No one was ever saved in any dispensation excepting by grace. Neither sacrificial observances, nor ritual service, nor works of law ever had any part in justifying the ungodly. Nor were any sinners ever saved by grace until they repented. Repentance is not opposed to grace; it is the recognition of the need of grace. ‘They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick’" (Except Ye Repent, p. 10).

"There is no saving merit in owning my true condition. There is no healing in acknowledging the nature of my illness. And repentance, as we have seen, is just this very thing" (Except Ye Repent, p. 12).

"[Repentance] is not doing anything" (Except Ye Repent, p. 14).

"No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before God. And this is [a part of Biblical] repentance"  (Except Ye Repent, p. 16).

QUESTION 67: I understand that you teach that repentance is a prerequisite to salvation, that is, that a man has to show a certain amount of sorrow for sin before God will cooperate with him and save him. Is this your position?

ANSWER: It certainly is not. In the first place, repentance is not mere penitence or sorrow for sin. Repentance is simply a man's recognition of his own true condition before God. No man would desire to come to the Saviour unless he realized his need of a Saviour. The realization of this need and the acknowledgment of it is, in the truest sense, the work of repentance. Thus men repent and through believing the Gospel are eternally saved. We who are saved, however, have done more repenting since we were converted than we did before.
QUESTION 166: Is repentance the first or the second step in salvation?
ANSWER: Repentance is not a "step" at all, yet there is no salvation without repentance. But repentance is a changed attitude on the part of man. This is what takes place when he believes the Word of Truth as to his lost condition and need of a Saviour. Thus faith and repentance are indissolubly linked together. [H.A. Ironside, What's the Answer? 362 Bible Questions Answered, pp. 36, 76.]

The following is taken from Harry Ironside's book Full Assurance.  Under the section "Difficulties Which Hinder Full Assurance" the following question is asked and then answered:   How may I be sure that I have repented enough?

Very often the real difficulty arises from a misapprehension of the meaning of repentance. There is no salvation without repentance, but it is important to see exactly what is meant by this term. It should not be confused with penitence, which is sorrow for sin; nor with penance, which is an effort to make some satisfaction for sin; nor yet with reformation, which is turning from sin. Repentance is a change of attitude toward sin, toward self, and toward God. The original word (in the Greek Testament) literally means "a change of mind." This is not a mere intellectual change of viewpoint, however, but a complete reversal of attitude [a complete change of thinking about my sin and God's gracious provision].

Now test yourself in this way. You once lived in sin and loved it. Do you now desire deliverance from it? You were once self-confident and trusting in your own fancied goodness. Do you now judge yourself as a sinner before God? You once sought to hide from God and rebelled against His authority. Do you now look up to Him, desiring to know Him, and to yield yourself to Him? If you can honestly say yes to these questions, you have repented. Your attitude is altogether different to what it once was.
You confess you are a sinner, unable to cleanse your own soul, and you are willing to be saved in God’s way. This is repentance. And remember, it is not the amount of repentance that counts: it is the fact that you turn from self to God [in your mind and in your thinking] that puts you in the place where His grace avails through Jesus Christ.
Strictly speaking, not one of us has ever repented enough. None of us has realized the enormity of our guilt as God sees it. But when we judge ourselves and trust the Saviour whom He has provided, we are saved through His merits. As recipients of His lovingkindness, repentance will be deepened and will continue day by day, as we learn more and more of His infinite worth and our own unworthiness.

From Full Assurance by H. A. Ironside, pages 89-90.

The following is from Ironside's commentary on Luke:  

"Repentance is just the sick man’s acknowledgment of his illness. It is simply the sinner recognizing his guilt and confessing his need of deliverance....(repentance) is judging oneself in the presence of God; turning right about-face, turning to God with a sincere, earnest desire to be completely delivered from sin. And when a man takes that attitude toward God and puts his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, he finds salvation" (Luke, pp. 253-254).

Mark 1:16  As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.

NET  Mark 1:16 As he went along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon's brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen).

GNT  Mark 1:16 Καὶ παράγων παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας εἶδεν Σίμωνα καὶ Ἀνδρέαν τὸν ἀδελφὸν Σίμωνος ἀμφιβάλλοντας ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ· ἦσαν γὰρ ἁλιεῖς.

NLT  Mark 1:16 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.

KJV  Mark 1:16 Now as he walked (Textus Receptus has peripateo instead of parago as in better manuscripts) by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

ESV  Mark 1:16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.

ASV  Mark 1:16 And passing along by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishers.

CSB  Mark 1:16 As He was passing along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, Simon's brother. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen.

NIV  Mark 1:16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.

NKJ  Mark 1:16 And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.

NRS  Mark 1:16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea-- for they were fishermen.

YLT  Mark 1:16 And, walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon, and Andrew his brother, casting a drag into the sea, for they were fishers,

NAB  Mark 1:16 As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen.

NJB  Mark 1:16 As he was walking along by the Lake of Galilee he saw Simon and Simon's brother Andrew casting a net in the lake -- for they were fishermen.

  • As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee: Mt 4:18-22 Lu 5:1,4-11 
  • He saw Simon and Andrew,: Mk 3:16,18 Mt 10:2 Lu 6:14 Joh 1:40-42 6:8 12:22 Ac 1:13

Mark's version of Jesus' call of the first disciples is similar to Matthew's version:

18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
19 And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
21 Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.
22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.(Mt 4:18-22+)

Luke's parallel version is somewhat different and has some distinctive features not found in Matthew or Mark (see Bock's analysis of the differences):

Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; 2 and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. (THIS NEXT SECTION NOT DESCRIBED BY MARK OR MATTHEW)

3 And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. 4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.”  6 When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; 7 so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” 11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. (Lk 5:1-11+)

John 1:35-42+ First Encounter of Future Disciples with Jesus - 

Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.  38 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 And Jesus turned and saw them following, and *said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” 39 He *said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He *found first his own brother Simon and *said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). 

MacArthur explains that "That the two disciples followed Jesus does not imply that they became His permanent disciples at this time....Later, they became His permanent disciples (Mt. 4:18–22+). (Mark 1:16-20)

Click to enlarge - from the Holman Bible Atlas (digital bookHardcover
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As He was going along - Jesus was not just listlessly, idly strolling along the seashore, but to the contrary, every step of His short time on earth was very purposeful and fruitful (cf Jn 4:34 with Jn 17:4 see also Jn 5:19, 30, 36, Jn 8:28) . 

THOUGHT - Jesus is the perfect Prototype of One Who continually redeemed the time and as such is a perfect example for us "to follow (epakoloutheo) in His steps" (1 Pe 2:21+) As a child we used to play "Follow the Leader," but now as children of the living God (1 Jn 3:1+) the game is serious with eternal ramifications and therefore enabled by the Holy Spirit we should strive daily (Gal 5:16+) to FOLLOW THE LEADER, Jesus Christ our Lord, our Example to Emulate! Play and practice "Step by Step!"

By the Sea of Galilee -  Galilee is a large somewhat kidney shaped inland lake on the eastern side of the region of Galilee (note) which is also known by three other names in Scripture - (1) the Sea of Chinnereth (Hebrew name - Nu 34:11, Dt 3:17, 1 Ki 15:20), (2) the Lake of Gennesaret (Lk 5:1+), and (3) the Sea of Tiberias (Jn 6:1+). This freshwater lake is about 13 miles long and 8 miles wide, and lies some 690 feet below sea level making it the lowest body of freshwater on earth (Dead Sea is lower but is salty). The primary source of inflow for the Sea of Galilee is the Jordan River, which arises from several sources near Mt Hermon (9,200 ft above sea level) and flows into the lake from the north. The enlarged Jordan River exits the southern end of the lake, and flows south into the Dead Sea. It is well known for its clear pure water, abundant fish, and frequent storms. From the context of Mark 1:16-20, it is clear that the Sea of Galilee was home to a thriving fishing industry, which included the redbelly tilapia (picture - does it make you hungry?) which is know as "St Peter's fish." 

Wikipedia - The Sea of Galilee, Lake Tiberias, Kinneret or Kinnereth, is a freshwater lake in Israel. It is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake in the world (after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake), at levels between 215 metres (705 ft) and 209 metres (686 ft) below sea level. It is approximately 53 km (33 mi) in circumference, about 21 km (13 mi) long, and 13 km (8.1 mi) wide. Its area is 166.7 km2 (64.4 sq mi) at its fullest, and its maximum depth is approximately 43 m (141 feet).[6] The lake is fed partly by underground springs, although its main source is the Jordan River, which flows through it from north to south

David Thompson - There were many fishermen who made a living by fishing this sea. Josephus claims in his day, which was just a few years after this event, that there were 330 fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee. People ate a lot of fish. It was their main meat source. Now by virtue of the fact that there were so many fishermen, we know that the ones Jesus calls are very specific choices that He is making as God. Three of the four that He calls here–Peter, James and John–will become key inner circle disciples (Mark 5:37; 9:2; 14:33)

Was going along (3855)(parago from para = beside, by + ago = lead) means literally to pass alongside or to pass by. Polybius (ca. Second Century B.C.) used paragō intransitively and spoke about a god “passing by,” causing a man to become blind. Here in Mark we see not "A god" but THE God-Man passing by, One Who would make the blind to see physically (cf Mt 20:30-34) but more importantly would open the eyes of the spiritually blind! The "gods" of the pagans were not compassionate. Jesus was (is) the epitome of God's compassion for all men are born spiritually blind (Ro 5:12+). It is interesting that the verb parago (which is from para) is followed by another "para" which would seem to emphasize that Jesus was right on the side of the Sea, on the shore. Robertson adds that "Mark uses para (along, beside) twice and makes the picture realistic. He catches this glimpse of Christ in action."

Hiebert points out that "Mark’s gospel gives no indication of any previous acquaintance with Jesus, but from John 1:35-42+ and John 3:22-30+, it is clear that they had already accepted Him as Messiah and even assisted Him in His work. The call now given them was a call to intensive training as His disciples."

Also by this time most writers think that John the Baptist had been imprisoned by Herod the tetrarch (Herod Antipas) (Lk 3:19-20+) Recall also that Mark (like Matthew and Luke) passes over the so-called "year of obscurity" (See note above along with diagram) of Jesus which is found only in John 1:15-4:42 covering about 12 months). 

Here is the background regarding the "year of obscurity" where John describes the first meeting of Andrew and an anonymous disciple with Jesus...

Again the next day John (THE BAPTIST) was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (NOW JUST IMAGINE WHAT THE TWO DISCIPLES MUST HAVE THOUGHT!) 37 The two disciples (WE KNOW ONE WAS ANDREW BUT THE SECOND IS ANONYMOUS) heard him speak, and they followed (akoloutheo = technical term describing relationship of a disciple to his teacher) Jesus. 38 And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). (John 1:35-42+)

He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon - As explained above, this was not Jesus' first encounter with the two brothers. And so His call in verse 17 to follow Him was not a call "out of the blue". 

Joseph Alexander - Although it formed no part of our Lord’s personal mission to reorganize the Church, a change which was to rest upon his own death as a corner-stone, and must therefore be posterior to it, he prepared the way for this great revolution by selecting and training the men who should accomplish it. Omitting certain previous steps afterwards supplied by John (John 1:35–51+), Mark proceeds at once to the vocation of the first apostles, as if before unknown, but not expressly so described. This kind of harmonious variation is among the most familiar attributes of credible evidence in courts of justice, though absurdly represented by the German sceptics and their imitators elsewhere as an irreconcilable contradiction. The rigid application of the same rule would discredit more than half the testimony now received as valid in the courts and jury-rooms of England and America. (Commentary on the Gospel of Mark )

Geoff Thomas explains "These brothers had been prepared for this encounter by the ministry of John the Baptist. For their sake he had preached repentance and baptized those who had changed. In other words, they were the human highway on which the Lord was going to walk. They had had a whole year to hear and observe Jesus, to question him and mull over his answers. They had heard his preaching to the crowds. So when Jesus came to them at the side of the Galilean lake and invited them to follow him it was not a leap into the dark as far as they were concerned. They had thought about him for twelve months, in fact there was scarcely anything else they had talked about – this extraordinary Jesus from Nazareth. So his invitation to them to follow him was preceded by observation, information, knowledge and a heavenly revelation that he had given to them. Their response was to the Light of the World." (Sermon)

THOUGHT - THOMAS MAKES AN INTERESTING POINT AS HE APPLIES THE TRUTH THAT THESE FIRST DISCIPLES HAD SOME PRIOR EXPOSURE TO JESUS - These are times of ignorance and apathy without many winds from heaven blowing across the land. 250 years ago John Wesley was able to write in his Journal, “This morning I went and offered free salvation to four felons in Newgate gaol.” He lived at a time when multitudes of people would gather to hear him and Whitefield preach. There was some knowledge of the Bible even in the minds of felons, and some work of the Spirit abroad in the land convicting men of sin and revealing Christ to them. We don’t live in such favoured times. People have not heard of the saving work of Christ. “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” (Ro 10:14+). So before you appeal to people’s wills to make a decision to accept free salvation in Christ they must be given knowledge of who Jesus is, and why he is worthy of their trust. That was Jesus’ own approach. Friendship and example and teaching preceded the command to follow him. (Sermon)

Casting a net in the sea - "Casting a net is a peculiarly expressive phrase in Greek, where the verb and noun are cognate forms, the essential idea being that of throwing about or round, in reference either to the nets enclosing the fish, or to its being cast in different directions." (Alexander)

J C Ryle - We read that our Lord called Simon and Andrew, when they were "casting a net into the sea," and James and John while they were "mending their nets." It is clear, from these words, that the first followers of our Lord were not the great of this world. They were men who had neither riches, nor rank, nor power. But the kingdom of Christ is not dependent on such things as these. His cause advances in the world, "not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." (Zech. 4:6.) The words of Paul will always be found true--"Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." (1 Cor. 1:26, 27.) The church which began with a few fishermen, and yet overspread half the world, must have been founded by God. We must beware of giving way to the common notion, that there is anything disgraceful in being poor, and in working with our own hands. The Bible contains many instances of special privileges conferred on working men. Moses was keeping sheep when God appeared to him in the burning bush. Gideon was threshing wheat, when the angel brought him a message from heaven. Elisha was ploughing, when Elijah called him to be prophet in his stead. The apostles were fishing, when Jesus called them to follow Him. It is disgraceful to be covetous, or proud, or a cheat, or a gambler, or a drunkard, or a glutton, or unclean. But it is no disgrace to be poor. The laborer who serves Christ faithfully is far more honorable in God's eyes, than the nobleman who serves sin.   (Commentary)

Casting (293)(amphiballo from amphi = round about + ballo = to throw) literally means to throw around and was a technical fishing term for throwing out a circular or "tent-shaped" net. The fishermen would throw the net out, let it sink (because of weights) and then draw in the rope that closed the neck of the net securing the fish inside. Robertson adds they were "Literally casting on both sides, now on one side, now on the other." As Zodhiates says (in his note on amphiblestron = a casting net) "When skillfully thrown from over the shoulder by one standing on the shore or in a boat, it spreads out into a circle (amphibállō) as it falls upon the water, sinking swiftly by the weight of the leads attached to it and enclosing whatever is below it (Mt. 4:18; Mk 1:16; Ps 141:10; Eccl. 9:12; Hab. 1:15-17)."

NET Note - The kind of fishing envisioned was net - not line - fishing which involved a circular net that had heavy weights around its perimeter. The occupation of fisherman was labor-intensive. The imagery of using a lure and a line (and waiting for the fish to strike) is thus foreign to this text. Rather, the imagery of a fisherman involved much strain, long hours, and often little results. Jesus' point may have been one or more of the following: the strenuousness of evangelism, the work ethic that it required, persistence and dedication to the task (often in spite of minimal results), the infinite value of the new "catch" (viz., people), and perhaps an eschatological theme of snatching people from judgment (cf. W. L. Lane, Mark [NICNT], 67). If this last motif is in view, then catching people is the opposite of catching fish: The fish would be caught, killed, cooked, and eaten; people would be caught so as to remove them from eternal destruction and to give them new life

For they were fishermen - For is a term of explanation which is straightforward in this context - explains why they were casting their nets. Were is in the imperfect tense, which strictly speaking views the action (in this case casting nets) as in progress (again and again they would throw out the circular net).

Fishermen (231)(halieus from hals = the sea) is literally one who earned their living from the sea, catching fish. Jesus introduced the great figurative meaning of men who would now be catching men instead of fish. They would be evangelizing and winning disciples to Christ (Mk 1:17, Mt 4:19+). Fishermen on Galilee did not enjoy a high social standing, but their work required skill and was profitable.

Halieus -  fishermen(3), fishers(2). - Matt. 4:18; Matt. 4:19; Mk. 1:16; Mk. 1:17; Lk. 5:2. Septuagint = Job 41:7; Isa. 19:8; Jer. 16:16; Ezek. 47:10

Why did Jesus choose these busy fishermen who had no theological training? Someone has said that when God looks for someone to use in a special mission, He looks for the person who is already busy, the energetic individual.

David Thompson adds "Jesus calls those to become part of His team who are faithfully doing their work in the secular world. God does not call lazy shirkers into His service; they call themselves into service." (Sermon)

Life Beyond The Rituals

They immediately left their nets and followed Him. —Mark 1:18

Today's Scripture: Mark 1:16-20

A royal dignitary was greeting residents at a nursing home, when he was surprised by the unresponsiveness of one woman who just sat there and stared at him. Finally, the dignitary asked, “Do you know who I am?”—to which the woman responded: “No. But that nurse over there helps us with those kinds of things.”

Many people are confused about who Jesus is. But through His Word,  God helps us know and enjoy the real Jesus. You will find Him wonderfully compelling. Tough fishermen, tax collectors, and zealots gave up everything to follow Him (Mark 1:18). Women felt safe with Him. Crowds stood in awe of His power and authority. 

Jesus is not content to be just our “fire insurance,” saving us from eternal punishment in hell. Rather, He wants us to know Him for who He really is, and He desires to connect with us on a deeper, more personal level.

If you are weary of a religion that is about rules and regulations, then welcome to life beyond the rituals. Welcome to a relationship in which you can find companionship, comfort, wisdom, and reality. Welcome to the wonderful privilege of getting to know Jesus and the joy of following Him.

Get to know Him—and you’ll grow to love Him more and more each day. By: Joe Stowell (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Which of all our friends, to save us,
Could or would have shed their blood?
But our Jesus died to have us
Reconciled in Him to God. 

To know Jesus is to love Jesus.

Unlikely People

They were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." —Mark 1:16-17

Today's Scripture: Mark 1:16-20

Not only was the Son of God born in an unlikely location and of unlikely parents, He chose His first followers at an unlikely place. He didn’t search the religious schools for the most learned scholars. He didn’t look among the ranks of brilliant military leaders. He stayed away from skilled statesmen and famous orators. Rather, Jesus went to the shores of Galilee and called out four common fishermen—Peter and Andrew, James and John.

“Bad choice,” some might say. “Uneducated. Tough characters. What would they know about starting a worldwide movement? They couldn’t work a crowd if they had to.”

Now, on behalf of fishermen everywhere, let me say that they have many positive traits. They must be resourceful, courageous, and patient. They must plan carefully and take care of their equipment. Such qualities are no doubt helpful in carrying out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), but I don’t think that’s why Jesus chose those men. I believe He wanted to demonstrate how God can transform ordinary people into “fishers of men” (Mark 1:16-17).

God’s work is often done by unlikely people from unlikely places—people like you and me. To be successful, we must follow the One who can make us fishers of men. By: David C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

They were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." —Mark 1:16-17

God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary work.

THOUGHT - Perhaps you feel "ordinary." Perhaps you do not feel adequate. Perhaps you do not feel like Jesus would ever want to use you in His Kingdom work! Well, GOOD! You are exactly the kind of ordinary person Jesus uses for then God Alone receives all the glory. 

Mark 1:17  And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men."

NET  Mark 1:17 Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people."

GNT  Mark 1:17 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Δεῦτε ὀπίσω μου, καὶ ποιήσω ὑμᾶς γενέσθαι ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων.

NLT  Mark 1:17 Jesus called out to them, "Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!"

KJV  Mark 1:17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

ESV  Mark 1:17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men."

ASV  Mark 1:17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

CSB  Mark 1:17 "Follow Me," Jesus told them, "and I will make you fish for people!"

NIV  Mark 1:17 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."

NKJ  Mark 1:17 Then Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men."

NRS  Mark 1:17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people."

YLT  Mark 1:17 and Jesus said to them, 'Come ye after me, and I shall make you to become fishers of men;'

NAB  Mark 1:17 Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."

NJB  Mark 1:17 And Jesus said to them, 'Come after me and I will make you into fishers of people.'

  • fishers of men: Eze 47:10 Mt 4:19,20 Lu 5:10 Acts 2:38-41
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me (Mt 4:19+, cf call of Levi/Matthew Lk 5:27+) - Literally Jesus said "Come ye after me." NIV and NLT paraphrase it  using two words "Come, follow me." Alexander adds "Passing over the extraordinary draught of fishes which Luke here relates (Lk 5:3-9+), but saying nothing inconsistent with it, Mark records the call of these two brothers as a necessary link in the chain of his historical deduction. Come after me, or more exactly, hither! behind me, not only in the literal and local sense, but in the moral or figurative sense of adherence and dependence."  Notice when Jesus called the men responded. There was no coaxing or coercion, just His holy call! Is Jesus calling you dear reader...into salvation...into a specific service (if you are already a believer)? 

It is interesting that Mark does not use the word "disciple" to describe them until Mark 2:15+

Grassmick notes that ""Come ye after me" was a "technical expression that meant "Go behind Me as a disciple." Unlike a Rabbi whose pupils sought him out, Jesus took the initiative and called His followers." (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Geoff Thomas - “Come, follow me” said the Lord Jesus, and they chose to obey him. Of course, summoned by the Saviour they obeyed. Of course, strengthened by the Holy Spirit they obeyed. But they made the decision, and they determined to follow Jesus. It was a watershed moment for them. We are often reminded of one raindrop that lands inches away from another at a peak in the Rockies. One flows to the west and ultimately arrives in the Pacific while the other flows to the east and arrives in the Atlantic. Their destinies are far apart from one another because of that watershed. Think what would have happened if Peter had said No. He would have spent the next sixty years of his life, six days a week, in the fish business, and how would he have ended his life? A viscous old man? But he didn’t: he obeyed Christ and became fisher of men. Have you obeyed the Lord Jesus? He is calling you this very moment to follow him. (Sermon)

Thompson  - This is a personal invitation by Jesus Christ to these men to follow Him and travel with Him. This is not the same as “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.” This is not a Gospel message. In fact, this is a strange message. This is not our message. We may make application, but this is not our message. There were times when people believed in Him and wanted to travel with Him and He said, “No” (Mark 5:18-19). This is an unusual invitation.

Related Resources: These are convicting audio messages from Dr Steven Lawson (listen if you dare!)

J C Ryle -  "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." The meaning of this expression is clear and unmistakable. The disciples were to become fishers for souls. They were to labor to draw men out of darkness into light, and from the power of Satan to God. They were to strive to bring men into the net of Christ's church, so that they might be saved alive, and not perish everlastingly. We ought to mark this expression well. It is full of instruction. It is the oldest name by which the ministerial office is described in the New Testament. It lies deeper down than the name of bishop, elder, or deacon. It is the first idea which should be before a minister's mind. He is not to be a mere reader of forms, or administrator of ordinances. He is to be a "fisher" of souls. The minister who does not strive to live up to this name has mistaken his calling. Does the fisherman strive to catch fish? Does he use all means, and grieve if unsuccessful? The minister ought to do the same. Does the fisherman have patience? Does he toil on day after day, and wait, and work on in hope? Let the minister do the same. Happy is that man, in whom the fisherman's skill, and diligence, and patience, are all combined! Let us resolve to pray much for ministers. Their office is no light one if they do their duty. They need the help of many intercessions from all praying people. They have not only their own souls to care for, but the souls of others. No wonder that Paul cries, "Who is sufficient for these things?" (2 Cor. 2:16.) If we never prayed for ministers before, let us begin to do it this day.  (Commentary)

And I will make you become fishers of men - Become (ginomai) means to emerge, transitioning from one point to another, signifying a change in their state from fishermen to fishers of men! Become implies movement or growth and as is clearly illustrated in the use in 2 Pe 1:4+ which says God "has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that (PURPOSE OF HIS PROMISES) by them you may become (ginomai) partakers (koinonos - gives us our word fellowship) of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." Our becoming partakers of His divine nature begins at a point in time (new birth, moment of justification), but will continue as a process (progressive sanctification, progressive growth in Christ-likeness) the rest of our life on earth. The NET Note on 2 Peter 1:4+ agrees writing "The implication is that through inheriting and acting (ED: I LIKE THAT - PROMISES ARE DORMANT UNLESS ACTED UPON IN FAITH!) on these promises the believers will increasingly become partakers of the divine nature." So too these fisherman would in one sense become fishers of men the day Jesus called them but they would learn over time by watching the Master's example how to become more effective, efficient fishers of men. 

Faith in Christ is not just a single step.
It is a lifelong walk with Him.

Related Resource:

Note that JESUS is the only One Who could make these men become skilled fishers of men, even as "the sanctifying work of the Spirit" of Christ (1 Pe 1:2+, 2 Cor 3:18+) is the only One Who can make us as Jesus followers grow in Christ-likeness. And so clearly the becoming of fishers of men would not be an immediate transformation, but would be a gradual process. Jesus would undertake to make fishers of men (soul winners) out of fishermen. In an analogous way many preachers are made out of laymen who hear Jesus' clarion call and willingly obey by leaving their secular work for Christ's work with His sheep.  

THOUGHT - In a very real sense the call to fish for men is Jesus' call to every believer. We are no longer our own but "God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Pe 2:9+, see also Titus 2:14+, Ro 14:7-9+, 1 Co 6:19,20+, 2 Co 5:15+, 2 Pe 2:1+, Rev 1:6+; Rev 5:10+, Ex 19:5, Dt 7:6; 14:2). We are His vessels, sanctified, useful to Him and prepared for and by Him for His good work (2 Ti 2:21+), the good work which He preordains for us (Eph 2:10+) and enables us to accomplish through His Spirit (cf Eph 3:16+, Php 4:13+). 

THOUGHT from DAVID THOMPSON - Just because one believes in Jesus Christ or starts to follow Christ does not mean he instantly is a fisher of men. One of the real tragedies that you will see is that some famous athlete or entertainer gets saved, and they stick him or her up in front of people thinking they really are in a position to be a great spokesman for Jesus Christ. Someone who is just saved does not know sound doctrine. In fact, someone just saved doesn’t even know what just happened to them. They really are in no position to lecture the family of God on Biblical subjects or themes. What they really need is to sit down and be taught. What really needs to happen to all of us is that we need to listen and learn before we speak. Becoming a fisher of men is a process that does not occur overnight.

Spurgeon - The gospel minister is like the fisherman with a net. I have sometimes heard the comparison drawn as though the gospel fisherman had a hook and a line, which he has not. His business is not to entice a fish to swallow his bait but to cast the net all round him, and lift him, by his grace, out of the element in which he lies in sin, into the boat where Christ still sits, as he sat, in the olden days, in the boat on the sea of Galilee. To shut the sinner up to faith in Jesus Christ, — that is the main work of the true gospel fisherman.

Spurgeon - His favorite word is ‘Come.’ (Mt 4:19YLT+) Not, go to Moses – ‘Come unto me.’ To Jesus Himself we must come, (How?) by a personal trust. Not to doctrine, ordinance, nor ministry are we to come first; but to the personal Saviour.

Spurgeon Fishers Follow Him - Only by coming after Jesus can we obtain our heart's desire and be really useful to our fellow men. Oh, how we long to be successful fishers for Jesus! We would sacrifice our lives to win souls. But we are tempted to try methods which Jesus would never have tried. Shall we yield to this suggestion of the enemy? If so, we may splash the water, but we shall never take the fish. We must follow after Jesus if we would succeed. Sensational methods, entertainment, and so forth -- are these coming after Jesus? Can we imagine the LORD Jesus drawing a congregation by such means as are now commonly used? What is the result of such expedients? The result is nothing which Jesus will count up at the last great day. We must keep to our preaching as our Master did, for by this means souls are saved. We must preach our LORD's doctrine and proclaim a full and free gospel, for this is the net in which souls are taken, We must preach with His gentleness, boldness, and love, for this is the secret of success with human hearts. We must work under divine anointing, depending upon the sacred Spirit. Thus, coming after Jesus, and not running before Him, not aside from Him, we shall be fishers of men.

Follow (1205)(deute serves as plural of deuro) is an adverb which means come here, come on, come hither. It means to accept and follow the leadership, command or guidance of another and usually involves literal walking and following as well. Louw-Nida says it is used with a plural subject and is an "extension toward a goal at or near the speaker and implying movement." in the sense of a command or an exhortation In the most famous use Jesus issues the invitation to "“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." (Mt 11:28)

Deute is used 12x in NT - Matt. 4:19; Matt. 11:28; Matt. 21:38; Matt. 22:4; Matt. 25:34; Matt. 28:6; Mk. 1:17; Mk. 6:31; Mk. 12:7; Jn. 4:29; Jn. 21:12; Rev. 19:17

Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Jesus does not say "do this" or "don't do that" but simply "Come". Note also that Jesus does not say come to the church, to a creed, to a clergyman, to a "denomination" or to anything but to Jesus Himself, to a vital, dynamic, radical relationship with the Living Lord. As Oswald Chambers says "Personal contact with Jesus alters everything." Do nothing else but come to Him, for He alone is the way, the truth, the life (Jn 14:6). Inherent in Jesus' call to come is that the hearer come now and not wait nor procrastinate - when you hear His invitation, you need to respond like Simon and Andrew did and come immediately! 

ILLUSTRATION - S. I. McMillen, in his book None of These Diseases, tells a story of a young woman who wanted to go to college, but her heart sank when she read the question on the application blank that asked, “Are you a leader?” Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, “No,” and returned the application, expecting the worst. To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: “Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower.”

THOUGHT - Follow means just that - FOLLOW. The English dictionary says it means "to travel behind, go after, come after" What's the point? Following Jesus means we don't blaze our own trail! How is this possible? I like the NIV translation of Galatians 5:25 "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." (Gal 5:25NIV+) The Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, so we need to learn to let the Spirit lead us, for as Paul says "if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law." (Gal 5:18+). Paul says "all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." (Ro 8:14+). There is your answer dear followe r of Christ! Be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18+) just as Jesus was filled (Lk 4:1+). Walk by the Spirit, in the power of the Spirit, (Gal 5:16+) just as Jesus walked (Lk 4:14+). When we walk like this, we can be sure that the Spirit will lead us to follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21+)! Are you following or blazing your own trail? The former is the path of freedom and fruitfulness (Jn 15:5) but the latter is the path of frustration, futility, failure and fruitlessness! 

For more on this very important topic see the in depth discussion of The Holy Spirit-Walking Like Jesus Walked!

After (3694)(opiso from opis = a looking back) can refer to a position behind another (Lk 7:38), as a marker of one who is followed as a leader (Mt 16:24, in a negative sense 1 Ti 5:15, Rev 13:3). It can describe time - "after me One is coming" (Mk 1:7), "He who comes after me" (Jn 1:15, 27, 30). It means to fall back (Jn 18:6); look backward (Luke 9:62); turn back (Mt. 24:18; Mk 13:16; Lk 17:31; Jn 6:66; Jn 20:14;  Ge 19:17, 26; 2 Sa 1:22; 1 Ki 18:37) It is used metaphorically in Php 3:13 "forgetting what lies behind" Paul alluding to his former human accomplishments.

Friberg on opiso -  adverb; (1) of place, with a verb of motion behind, back (Mt 24.18); neuter as a substantive  what is behind (Php 3.13); idiomatically literally go back to what lies behind, i.e. no longer follow (Jn 6.66); (2) as an improper preposition with the genitive; (a) of place behind ( Mt 16.23); (b) of following in close relation after (Mt 4.19+); idiomatically literally go after strange flesh, i.e. practice homosexuality (Jude 1:7); (c) of time after (Mt 3.11) (Analytical Lexicon)

Opiso - 34x in 34 verses - after(18), around(1), back(2), back*(3), behind(5), follow(2), follow*(2), withdrew*(1).

Matt. 3:11; Matt. 4:19; Matt. 10:38; Matt. 16:23; Matt. 16:24; Matt. 24:18; Mk. 1:7; Mk. 1:17; Mk. 1:20; Mk. 8:33; Mk. 8:34; Mk. 13:16; Lk. 7:38; Lk. 9:23; Lk. 9:62; Lk. 14:27; Lk. 17:31; Lk. 19:14; Lk. 21:8; Jn. 1:15; Jn. 1:27; Jn. 1:30; Jn. 6:66; Jn. 12:19; Jn. 18:6; Jn. 20:14; Acts 5:37; Acts 20:30; Phil. 3:13; 1 Tim. 5:15; Jude 1:7; Rev. 1:10; Rev. 12:15; Rev. 13:3

Gilbrant - Among classical writers opisō (also spelled opissō) was an adverb of time (“hereafter, following, after”) or of place (“behind, backwards”) (Liddell-Scott). Even when used in connection with other Greek words to make particular expressions, opisō almost always is associated with the Hebrew word ’achar, “behind, after” (in a variety of forms). It functions as a temporal adverb: e.g., 1 Kings 1:6 (LXX 3 Kings 1:6); Ecclesiastes 10:14, and as an adverb of place: e.g., Joel 2:20. But by far its most common use is as an improper preposition (with the genitive case). In this last use it can depict someone going or pursuing after someone. Thus the pursuit of the Egyptians “after” the Israelites is frequently described by opisō (Exodus 14:4,8,9; cf. Joshua 2:5,7). “After” in the sense of “follow after, adhere to” is also common in the Septuagint. This sense holds theological significance in that the phrase “to go after other gods” denotes apostasy (Deuteronomy 8:19; 28:14; Judges 2:12,17,19), while “to follow after God” is equal to faithfulness (Joshua 14:9). Both of these concepts influenced later Judaism and the New Testament writers (cf. Seeseman, “opizō,” Kittel, 5:289-292; Bauder, “Disciple,” Colin Brown, 1:492). 

In the New Testament opisō functions as an adverb or a preposition. Adverbially, in answer to the question “Where?” or “Whither?” it means “behind” or “back.” In Luke 7:38 the sinful woman was standing “behind” Jesus at His feet. In Philippians 3:13 opisō, with the neuter article, functions as a substantive meaning “those things which are behind,” as that which a runner leaves in his wake. As a preposition opisō may relate either to time or place. Locally, it means “behind,” as in Revelation 1:10, “...and heard behind me a great voice”; or Matthew 16:23, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” As a preposition of time, opisō is translated “after” as in Matthew 3:11, “He that cometh after me....” Like the Septuagint, where the New Testament uses opisō as a preposition to express the relation between two persons, a close personal intimacy is usually implied. Jesus’ summons, “Follow (after) me,” demands a severing of ties with one’s former life and a rendering of an unconditional commitment to Him (Matthew 4:19; cf. 16:24). The disciple must renounce his own will (Matthew 10:38) and studiously avoid the temptation to return to the things that he renounced to follow Christ (Luke 17:31). False christs will attempt to gain their allegiance; believers must not be misled into following after them (Luke 21:8). Only by this level of self-renunciation and commitment to Christ can one hope to share in His kingdom (Mark 8:34-38). Having understood this aspect of commitment implied in opisō, other similar constructions are easily understood, such as Acts 5:37; 20:30; 1 Timothy 5:15. (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

And I will make you become fishers of men - Note that as literal fishermen, they caught fish and killed them, but as Jesus' fishermen, they caught men and saved them! 

Joseph Alexander - The last clause is a beautiful allusion to their former occupation as a figure of the one which they were now to undertake. The comparison, like others, is not to be pressed too far, the main points of resemblance being the value of the objects to be caught, the necessity of skill as well as strength in catching them, and the implied promise of abundance and success. As the business of their lives had hitherto been only to provide for the subsistence of the body, by securing the bodies of inferior animals for food; so now they were to seek the souls of men, not to destroy but to save them, in the way of God’s appointment, and as a necessary means for the promotion of His glory. (Commentary on the Gospel of Mark)

Wiersbe notes that "Jesus did not invent the term fishers of men. In that day, it was a common description of philosophers and other teachers who 'captured men's minds' through teaching and persuasion." (ED: THESE "FISHERS OF MEN" ARE STILL UBIQUITOUS!)

THOUGHT - Derek Thomas on how Jesus would make they become fishers of men - ‘Look, if you follow Me, if you sit at My feet, if you listen to what I say, if you watch what I do–I’ll make you fishers of men. Learn from Me. I’ll instruct you about evangelism. I’ll tell you how you witness to another soul.’ They watched Him talk to a rich, young ruler and watched that rich, young ruler go away because he loved his riches more than he loved Jesus, and they learned something about evangelism. (Sermon)

Geoff ThomasThe first part of their call was to follow him. “They were called, in other words, to fellowship and to responsibility. They were called to follow. They were called to fellowship with Christ. They were called to commune with Christ, because before you can become a fisher of men, before you can become a man fisher, before you become a person who draws people to Christ, you must be with Christ. You must learn Christ. You must fellowship with Christ. And so He calls them to communion with Himself. One must be prepared by fellowship with Christ to be a man fisher. One must learn Christ. One must be diligent, and constantly attendant upon Christ. One must become an emulator of Christ in His faithfulness and tenderness and diligence. It has been well said that discipleship is more than getting to know what the teacher knows. Discipleship is getting to be what the teacher is, and before Christ equips and sends out His disciples to be man fishers, He equips them first with the image of Himself. By their fellowship with Him, by their union with Him, by their attendance to His word, by their reliance on His grace, He causes them to be like Him. Sanctification is the first training ground for evangelism. We are not ready to do the work of evangelism until we have begun to make progress in sanctification, because holiness of life is the first witness of the truth and power of the grace of the gospel.” (from Ligon Duncan’s sermon on this text, preached at First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi). But the second part of the call and the famous focus of Jesus’ invitation was they become fishers of men. You will bear in mind that these four pairs of brothers did not go fishing for a hobby or a sport. They caught fish in order to survive. Their lives depended on it. Jesus’ call to them is couched in language they understood, to become hunters, to catch men for the Kingdom. In the book of Jeremiah God speaks and says, “‘But now I will send for many fishermen,’ declares the Lord, ‘and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks'” (Jer. 16:16). The net was one of the weapons of war in the ancient world. You have seen prints of gladiators fighting, in which one of them is armed with a net. Micah laments the decline of the godly in the land: “All men lie in wait to shed blood,” he says, “each hunts his brother with a net” (Mic. 7:2). While the prophet Habakkuk speaks of the Babylonian army entering the land: “he catches them in his net” he says (Hab. 1:15). These pagan soldiers worshipped their weapons; Habakkuk adds, “he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his dragnet” (Hab. 1:16). The living God has now come and he makes his people warriors whose weapon is a net, but when they catch men it is not to kill them but to give them abundant life.

THOUGHT- His first words are about evangelism. It should cause us real heart-searching, as to how much in our own lives as Christians are we obsessed with this enterprise. If it has such priority with Christ does it have priority with ourselves? Are we more laid-back than Jesus? It is a dangerous posture. You remember that the very last words Jesus spoke to these four men were on the same theme. On the Mount of Ascension he said to them, “You shall be my witnesses.” Here is an obligation that rests not upon the apostles alone, or on a chosen talented few, but upon every single member of the family of God our Father. Every one of us whose life God’s grace has touched has been called upon to function in this world as a fisher of men. (Sermon)

Related Resources:

Thomas Boston’s answer to the question why does the Lord begin with this picture of our calling being like that of a fisherman?:

1] The design and work of fishermen is to catch fish. This is the work to which Christians have been called, to bring souls to God.

2] Fishermen’s work is hard work, exposed to the cold and wet, so is the work of evangelism. (ED: cf Peter's statement in Lk 5:5+ "Master, we worked hard [kopiao] all night")

3] Bad weather won’t keep the fisherman from fishing, nor will it prevent the Christian from bearing witness to Jesus Christ to win men for God.

4] Fishermen observe in what places they should cast their nets, and where they may expect fish. So preachers observe the two places their nets should be cast, in the public assemblies of God’s people and in private conversations.

5] Fishermen may toil long and catch nothing but they don’t give up fishing. So too preachers may preach for years and catch few souls but that does not mean they give up. “Hold on, O my soul, and give not way to these discouragements. You know not but Christ may come and teach you to let down your net on the right side of the ship, and may yet be a fisher of men.”

6] Fishermen catch fish with a net, and so preachers have a net with which to catch souls. That net is the everlasting gospel.

Here are Boston's original words that have been summarized above.

Ministers are fishers by office; they are catchers of the souls of men, sent “to open the eyes of the blind, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God,” Acts 26:18. Preachers of the gospel are fishers; and their work, and that of fishers, agree in several things.

1. The design and work of fishers is to catch fish. This is the work that preachers of the gospel have taken in hand, even to endeavour to bring souls to Christ. Their design in their work should be the same. Tell me, O my soul, what is thy design in preaching? for what end dost thou lay the net in the water? is it to shew thy gifts, and to gain the applause of men? Oh! no. Lord, thou knowest my gifts are very small; and had I not some other thing than them to lean to, I had never gone to a pulpit. I confess, that, for as small as they are, the devil and my corruptions do sometimes present them to me in a magnifying glass, and so would blow me up with wind. But, Lord, thou knowest it is my work to repel these motions. An instance of this see in my Diary, Jan. 1. 1699. But of this see afterwards.

2. Their work is hard work; they are exposed to much cold in the water. So is the minister’s work.

3. A storm that will affright others, they will venture on, that they may not lose their fish. So should preachers of the gospel do.

4. Fishers catch fish with a net. So preachers have a net to catch souls with. This is the everlasting gospel, the word of peace and reconciliation, wherewith sinners are caught. It is compared to a net wherewith fishers catch fish,

(1.) Because it is spread out, ready to catch all that will come into it, Isa 55:1. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money, and without price.” God excludes none from the benefits of the gospel that will not exclude themselves; it is free to all.

 (2.) Because as fish are taken unexpectedly by the net, so are sinners by the gospel. Zaccheus was little thinking on salvation from Christ, when he went to the tree. Paul was not thinking on a sweet meeting with Christ, whom he persecuted, when he was going post-haste on the devil’s errand; but the man is caught unexpectedly. Little wast thou thinking, O my soul, on Christ, heaven, or thyself, when thou went to the Newton of Whitsome*, to hear a preaching, when Christ first dealt with thee; there thou got an unexpected cast.

(3.) As fish sometimes come near and touch the net, and yet draw back; so many souls are somewhat affected at the hearing of the gospel, and yet remain in the gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity. So Herod heard John the Baptist gladly; but yet the poor man was not caught. Wonder not then, O my soul, that thou seest some affected in the time of preaching; and yet when they are away again, all is worn off.

(4.) Some fish that have not been taken fast hold enough by the net, struggle and get out again. So some souls have their convictions, and may seem to be caught; but yet, alas! they stifle all their convictions, stay in the place of the breaking forth; their goodness is like the morning cloud, and as the early dew that soon passeth away. Wherefore, O my soul, if ever thou be taken up with exercised consciences, have a care that thou do not apply the cure before the wound be deep enough. Take all means to understand whether the soul be content to take Christ on his own terms or not. Alas! many this way, by having the wound sourfed over, are rather killed than cured.

(5.) All that are taken in the net do make some struggling to get free. Even so every one whom the Lord deals with by his word and Spirit, make some kind of resistance, before they are thoroughly caught. Cras, Domine, says Augustine; et modo, Domine, donec, modo non haberet modum. And this thou also knowest, O my soul, how thou wouldst have been content to have been out of the net. Oh! the wickedness of the heart of man by nature! opposite is it, and an enemy to all that may be for its eternal welfare. There is indeed a power in our will to resist, yea, and such a power as cannot but be exercised by the will of man, which can do nothing but resist, till the overcoming power of God, the gratia victrix, come and make the unwilling heart willing, Phil. 2:13.

(6.) Yet this struggling will not do with those which the net has fast enough. So neither will the resistance do that is made by an elect soul, whom God intends to catch, John 6:37. All that the Father hath given me, shall come to me. Indeed God does not convert men to himself against their will, he does not force the soul to receive Christ; but he conquers the will, and it becomes obedient. He that was unwilling before, is then willing. O the power of grace! When God speaks, then men shall hear; then is it that the dead hear the voice of the Son of man, and they that hear do live.

(7.) In a net are many meshes in which the fish are caught. Such are the invitations made to sinners in the gospel, the sweet promises made to them that will come to Christ; these are the meshes wherewith the soul is catched. This then is gospel-preaching, thus to spread out the net of the gospel, wherein are so many meshes of various invitations and promises, to which if the fish do come, they are caught.—But yet,

(8.) Lest the net be lifted up with the water, and so not fit for taking fish, and the fish slight it, and pass under it; there are some pieces of lead put to it, to hold it right in the water, that it may be before them as they come. So lest invitations and promises of the gospel be slighted, there must be used some legal terrors and law-threatenings to drive the fish into the net. Thou seest then that both law and gospel are to be preached, the law as a pendicle of the gospel-net, which makes it effectual; the law being a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.

(9.) The meshes must not be over-wide, lest the fish run through. So neither must thy doctrine be general, without particular application, lest thou be no fisher of men. Indeed men may be the better pleased, when thou preachest doctrine so as wicked men may run out-through and in-through it, than when thou makest it so as to take hold of them: but be not a servant of men.

(10.) Neither must they be too neat and fine, and curiously wrought, lest they hold out the fish. So have a care, O my soul, of striving to make by wit any fine and curious discourse, which thy hearers cannot understand. Of this more afterwards.

5. Fishers observe in what places they should cast their nets, and where they may expect fish. So do thou, O my soul, observe where thou mayst catch souls. There are two pools wherein the net should be set.

(1.) In the public assemblies of the Lord’s people. There it was that Lydia’s heart was opened. The pool of ordinances sometimes is made healing water to souls pining away in their iniquity.

(2.) In private conference. Many times the Lord is pleased to bless this for the good of souls. Some have found it so. But more of these things afterwards, when I come to following Christ.

6. Lastly, Fishers may toil long, and yet catch nothing; but they do not therefore lay aside their work. So may preachers preach long, and yet not catch any soul, Isa. 49:4. and 53:1; but they are not to give over for all that. O my soul, here thou art checked for thy behaviour at some times under the absence of Christ from ordinances, when thou hast been ready to wish thou hadst never taken it in hand. This was my sin: the good Lord pardon it. It becomes me better to lie low under God’s hand, and to inquire into the causes of his withdrawing his presence from me and from ordinances, and yet to hold on in duty till he be pleased to lay me by. Have a care of that, O my soul, and let not such thoughts and wishes possess thee again. Forget not how God made thee to read this thy sin, in thy punishment, Diary, Nov. 13, 1698. Hold on, O my soul, and give not way to these discouragements. Thou knowest not but Christ may come and teach thee to let down the net at the right side of the ship, and thou mayst yet be a fisher of men. Trust God thou shalt yet praise him for the help of his countenance as thou hast done, and perhaps for some souls that thou mayst be yet honoured to catch. (A Soliloquy on the Art of Man-Fishing)

First Fish

Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." —Mark 1:17

Today's Scripture: Mark 1:16-20

In one of my photo albums is a picture of a friend cradling—no, hugging—a large fish to his chest as if he’d just found a long-lost friend. I ask myself, “Why is he sliming himself with that fish?” Then I remember: It was his first steelhead—ever!

I recall well my first “fish.” I was driving along and thinking about what a friend had said the day before. He regularly leads people to faith in Jesus Christ, and I had asked him how he knew they were willing to talk about spiritual things. “It’s easy,” he replied. “I ask ’em.”

“Well,” I said to myself, “I can do that. I’ll ask the next person I meet.”

As it turned out, the next person I met was a student along the highway thumbing a ride. I picked him up and we chatted for a while. As we neared his destination, I turned to him and asked, “Do you have an interest in spiritual things?” He looked at me for a moment and replied, “I’ve been looking for God all my life. Can you tell me how to know Him?” He was my first “fish” (Mark 1:17).

Not all our efforts are so rewarding, but here and there are people whom God’s Spirit is drawing to the Savior (John 6:44). You can be part of that process. There is no greater joy than to be a fisher of men!  — By: David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

I love to tell the story,
For some have never heard
The message of salvation
From God's own holy Word. 

Fishers of men cast their nets in faith
and draw them in with love.

Where Are The Fish?

Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men. —Mark 1:17

Today's Scripture: Mark 1:14-20

A pastor told me a fascinating story of a church in a Canadian fishing village. The founding fathers had chosen to build the church at the rocky edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Because it was located in the center of where the fishermen and townspeople lived, the church flourished. As the congregation grew, however, the members decided to construct a new building far from the waterfront. Then an interesting thing happened. They seemed to lose their zeal for the lost after they moved. Why? Some said it was because they were no longer among the people.

We see in Mark 1 that Jesus began His ministry by walking along the Sea of Galilee and calling fishermen to be His disciples. He told them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).

Where are the “fish” in our communities? Do we expect them to come on their own to our church and hear the pastor present the gospel? Or have we chosen to follow Christ and become fishermen who dare to go to where the fish are, taking the message of life and hope to our schools and workplaces and neighborhoods?

Just as we won’t catch fish in a kitchen sink, we can’t “catch” souls if we don’t go where they are. By: David C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

You do not have to cross the seas
Nor foreign lands explore
To share God's Word with needy souls—
You'll find them right next door.

After accepting Christ's invitation to come, (Mt 11:28-30+)
we must obey His commission to go. (Mt 28:18-20+)

Fish Hard

Read: Mark 1:14-20 

Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men. —Mark 1:17

Okay, I admit it. I like to fish. No, I’m not the buy-the-latest-bass-boat, get-out-every-weekend kind of guy. But I enjoy fishing for walleyes at a nearby dam in the summer or catching perch through the ice on one of Michigan’s many lakes in winter.

That makes me interested in things related to fishing. So I was hooked when I saw this bumper sticker on the back of an old pickup truck:

Life’s Short: Fish Hard

I chuckled, but the more I thought about it the more I was caught by this idea: As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am a “fisher of men.” I have been commanded by the Lord Jesus to proclaim the gospel message (Matt. 28:19-20), to tell others about the wonderful, saving love of God for all people.

I thought too about the statement, “Life’s short.” It is! How quickly 10, 20, 30 years pass. All too soon our children are starting school, graduating, marrying, having children of their own. All too quickly those friends and family members we always wanted to talk to about Jesus Christ are no longer with us.

Yes, life is short. So, as obedient followers of Jesus Christ, let’s “fish hard” to bring others to Him.By David C. Egner  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Fishing Tips
Go where the “fish” are.
Use the right “bait.”
Be patient!

It’s never out of season to fish for souls.

A New Purpose

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Mark 1:17

Today's Scripture & Insight: Mark 1:16–22

Jacob Davis was a tailor with a problem. It was the height of the Gold Rush in the 1800s American West and the gold miners’ work pants kept wearing out. His solution? Davis went to a local dry goods company owned by Levi Strauss, purchased tent cloth, and made work pants from that heavy, sturdy material—and blue jeans were born. Today, denim jeans in a variety of forms (including Levi’s) are among the most popular clothing items in the world, and all because tent material was given a new purpose.

Simon and his friends were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Then Jesus arrived and called them to follow Him. He gave them a new purpose. No longer would they fish for fish. As Jesus told them, “Come, follow me, . . . and I will send you out to fish for people” (Mark 1:17).

With this new purpose set for their lives, these men were taught and trained by Jesus so that, after His ascension, they could be used by God to capture the hearts of people with the message of the cross and resurrection of Christ. Today, we follow in their steps as we share the good news of Christ’s love and salvation.

May our lives both declare and exhibit this love that can change the lives, purposes, and eternal destinies of others. By: Bill Crowder (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Help me, Lord, to represent You well so that others might be drawn to Your love and salvation.

With our new life in Christ we have been given a new purpose.

Mark 1:18  Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

NET  Mark 1:18 They left their nets immediately and followed him.

GNT  Mark 1:18 καὶ εὐθὺς ἀφέντες τὰ δίκτυα ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ.

NLT  Mark 1:18 And they left their nets at once and followed him.

KJV  Mark 1:18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

ESV  Mark 1:18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

ASV  Mark 1:18 And straightway they left the nets, and followed him.

CSB  Mark 1:18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

NIV  Mark 1:18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

NKJ  Mark 1:18 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

NRS  Mark 1:18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

YLT  Mark 1:18 and immediately, having left their nets, they followed him.

NAB  Mark 1:18 Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.

NJB  Mark 1:18 And at once they left their nets and followed him.

  •  Immediately they left their nets: Mk 10:28-31 Mt 19:27-30 Lu 5:11 14:33 18:28-30 Php 3:8 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Immediately they left their nets and followed Him - Identical to Matthew 4:20+. At once! No hesitation. No procrastination. Immediately! At once! The verb for "left" (aphiemi) is a "key word" in this section and is discussed more below (see aphiemi) but it is significant that one secular use of "aphiemi" was in the sentence "drop the pot!" This suggests a vivid picture of these men "dropping" their nets and immediately falling in step behind Jesus! Alexander agrees commenting that Mark's "words seem to suggest, as their immediate and strict sense, that the fishermen thus summoned left their nets lying where they were, without waiting to deposit or secure them. This unhesitating response to the divine call, without regard to minor consequences, is presented elsewhere as a severe but equitable test of true devotion to the Master’s service (Luke 9:57–62+)."

THOUGHT - If you are selective about when, and in what activities you are going to obey Jesus Christ, then he is not your Lord and you are not His disciple. To do what He says when it is counter to our entire upbringing and expectations is the test of our discipleship. When we start to decide when we are going to obey Him, when we narrow the limits of His authority over us, then He’s no longer our Master, and there’ll be no catch of men. It was an extraordinary decision. Here are four boys whose lives had been mapped out for them since they were born. They had watched their daddies sailing away to fish and when they had grown older they had taken their first voyage with their fathers as their anxious mothers waved them goodbye. All they wanted to do was become fishermen on blue Galilee. They knew no other vocation. They weren’t prepared for anything else. How could they survive doing something else? Yet when Jesus comes and calls them immediately they leave all of that and follow Him. They give up their small ambitions. So the kingdom of God is here. (Geoff Thomas)

Discipleship means no looking back!
(Lk 17:32+)

Immediately (2117) see preceding discussion on euthus which is used 11x in chapter 1 - Mk. 1:10; Mk. 1:12; Mk. 1:18; Mk. 1:20; Mk. 1:21; Mk. 1:23; Mk. 1:28; Mk. 1:29; Mk. 1:30; Mk. 1:42; Mk. 1:43 (One other use in Mk 1:3 means "straight").

As Trench says Jesus was “designing take the fishermen in His net”! The fisherman would themselves soon be caught in the Master's net!

Joseph Alexander on immediately they left their nets - The effect of this abrupt call is described as instantaneous, not only because they were expecting and prepared for such a summons, but because they were divinely moved to answer and obey it. 

THOUGHT:  Alexander makes an important point - it was the sovereign move of the Spirit Who gave these fisherman the impulse/desire/will to leave everything and follow Jesus. No man in his natural state seeks after God (Ro 3:11b+). This supernatural "persuasion" is  inherent in the term "effectual call" (What is the effectual calling/call?) which all believers have heard and heeded enabled by the same Spirit. Have you heard the call from God? If so, do not delay but immediately begin to follow Jesus! (Listen to sermon by Steven Lawson on the Effectual Call).

Geoff Thomas on Jesus "effectual call" - What the Galileans were blind to see Mark reveals to us. We have been told nothing about the response to Jesus’ preaching, but now Mark opens this window and shows us the effectual nature of the Lord’s call. We are told that Jesus approached these four men and said to them, “Come, follow me …” and we are told, “At once they left their nets and followed him,” (v.18). The King was establishing his reign over the lives of sinners, and from that time onwards millions of men for twenty centuries would leave all just like these brothers and follow him. Before this time these four boys had been following their fathers, Zebedee and John. Those old men had said such things as, “Today we’ll go fishing . . . in the east of the lake . . . at the third hour of the day.” The sons had always obeyed their dads. But now the great change had taken place. They had a new Lord. They had been brought into the Kingdom by an effectual call of the King and immediately they began to obey him, and so the kingdom of God was near. (Sermon)

Left (863)(aphiemi from apo = prefix speaks of separation, putting some distance between + hiemi = put in motion, send) conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation. Literally aphiemi means to send from one's self, to forsake, to hurl away, to put away, let alone, disregard, put off. It conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and refers to total detachment, total separation, from a previous location or condition.  

In the present context of course aphiemi signified a literal separation of fishermen from their nets, their boats, their means of making a living and thus a complete separation from their earthly source of security! In fact aphiemi would seem to be a "key word" in describing how one becomes a disciple for it is used 5 times in the synoptic accounts of Jesus' call to follow Him! (Mt 4:20, 22+, Mk 1:18, 20, Lk 5:11+)!

It is fascinating that this same verb means to forgive, picturing how God thoroughly and completely and forever "severs" us from the guilt of our sins because of the atoning blood of Christ. One of the men called, Peter, would later use this same verb in warning Simon to repent and be forgiven (Acts 8:9-10, 22+)

Followed (190)(akoloutheo from a = expresses union with, likeness + keleuthos = a road, way) means to walk the same road (Ponder that simple definition dear believer - Am I willing to walk the same road as Jesus?), to go the same way. Literally to follow (like the crowds followed Jesus) and in a figurative sense to follow Jesus as a disciple. To follow (closely) as soldiers, servants and pupils. Early in the history of the Greek language akoloutheo came to mean to imitate or follow someone's example,  imitating their thoughts, beliefs, actions, or lifestyle.  Grassmick adds  that in "the Gospels the verb "follow" (akoloutheō), when referring to individuals, expresses the call and response of discipleship." (Ibid)

Akoloutheo is a technical term in Hebrew and Greek for the reactions and relationships of a disciple to his teacher. It implies fellowship, joint-participation, a side-by-side walking with another. Thus it has come to mean, “to join one as a disciple, to cleave steadfastly to one, conform wholly to his example, in living and, if need be, in dying.” The essence of Christianity in fact lies in the words "to follow Jesus." Genuine believers are followers of Jesus, disciples of Jesus. Disciples are not a separate group of "super Christians." Discipleship defines normal Christianity. 

When we walk with Him, He promised we would never walk in darkness! (Jn 8:12). He is our Lamp wherever we walk, always walking with us, His Spirit within us enabling us to "Walk by the Spirit." (Gal 5:16+) Paul expressed walking after Jesus as being His imitator  (1 Cor 11:1+) When He say's go, I go. When He says stop, I stop. He should order our starts and our stops! His sheep know His voice and follow Him (Jn 10:27) Sadly , some declined to follow (Mt 19:21-23).

Akoloutheo is used multiple times in Mark - Mk. 1:18; Mk. 2:14; Mk. 2:15; Mk. 3:7; Mk. 5:24; Mk. 6:1; Mk. 8:34; Mk. 9:38; Mk. 10:21; Mk. 10:28; Mk. 10:32; Mk. 10:52; Mk. 11:9; Mk. 14:13; Mk. 14:54; Mk. 15:41

Swindoll on one following another - We might say of a boy adopting his father’s occupation, “He’s following in the footsteps of his father.” The Old Testament doesn’t make use of a similar Hebrew term for following after God, but the New Testament favors this term, perhaps because of the accessibility of the human example of Christ and His earthly relationship to his disciples.  (Swindoll's Living Insights New Testament Commentary – Mark)

NET Note - The expression followed Him pictures discipleship, which means that to learn from Jesus is to follow Him as the guiding priority of one's life. 

Charles Ryrie adds that a disciple "is one who is taught by another; he is a learner. In the Gospels the word is frequently used of disciples of Moses (John 9:28), of John the Baptist (John 3:25), and of Christ. Judas is an example of an unsaved disciple of Christ, and there were others who deserted Him as well (John 6:66). The word is used in Acts as a synonym for "believer." It does not appear at all in the rest of the NT. This may be because a disciple was expected to physically follow his teacher wherever he went, leaving family and occupation. After Christ's ascension, this was impossible. Joseph of Arimathea was for a time a secret disciple (John 19:38)." (Ryrie Study Bible)

Related Resources:

SUCCESSFUL or FAITHFUL? - Speaking in Edinburgh, missionary John Williams held his audience spellbound with thrilling accounts of God's work among the tribes-people of the New Hebrides Islands. A soft-spoken missionary followed Williams with a brief report of his work. In a low and trembling voice he said,

My friends, I have no remarkable success to relate like Mr. Williams. I've labored for Christ in a far-off land for many years and have seen only small results. But I have this comfort: when the Master comes to reckon with His servants, He will not say, `Well done, thou good and successful servant,' but `well done, thou good and faithful servant.' I have tried to be faithful!.

Work done well for Christ will receive a "well done" from Christ.

Spurgeon "Straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him."- Mark 1:18

When they heard the call of Jesus, Simon and Andrew obeyed at once without demur. If we would always, punctually and with resolute zeal, put in practice what we hear upon the spot, or at the first fit occasion, our attendance at the means of grace, and our reading of good books, could not fail to enrich us spiritually. He will not lose his loaf who has taken care at once to eat it, neither can he be deprived of the benefit of the doctrine who has already acted upon it. Most readers and hearers become moved so far as to purpose to amend; but, alas! the proposal is a blossom which has not been knit, and therefore no fruit comes of it; they wait, they waver, and then they forget, till, like the ponds in nights of frost, when the sun shines by day, they are only thawed in time to be frozen again. That fatal to-morrow is blood-red with the murder of fair resolutions; it is the slaughter-house of the innocents. We are very concerned that our little book of "Evening Readings" should not be fruitless, and therefore we pray that readers may not be readers only, but doers, of the word. The practice of truth is the most profitable reading of it.

Should the reader be impressed with any duty while perusing these pages, let him hasten to fulfil it before the holy glow has departed from his soul, and let him leave his nets, and all that he has, sooner than be found rebellious to the Master's call. Do not give place to the devil by delay! Haste while opportunity and quickening are in happy conjunction. Do not be caught in your own nets, but break the meshes of worldliness, and away where glory calls you.

Happy is the writer who shall meet with readers resolved to carry out his teachings: his harvest shall be a hundredfold, and his Master shall have great honour. Would to God that such might be our reward upon these brief meditations and hurried hints. Grant it, O Lord, unto thy servant! AMEN.

"Follow Me"

Jesus said to them, "Follow Me . . . . " They immediately left their nets and followed Him. —Mark 1:17-18

Today's Scripture: Mark 3:13-19

When the United States launched its space program in 1958, seven men were chosen to become the first astronauts. Imagine the excitement of Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Walter Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. They were selected to go where no one had ever gone before. Yet, as astronauts they knew they would face unforeseen dangers, challenges, and trials. Each of them realized that the thrill of being chosen was tempered with the fear of the unknown future.

Imagine another set of men who were chosen for an important mission: the 12 apostles Jesus chose one day on a mountainside near the Sea of Galilee. These men left behind their occupations and families to dedicate themselves to this radical new teacher. They didn’t know what kind of political, religious, or financial challenges they would face. Yet they followed Jesus.

Jesus asks the same of His people today. He asks each of us to follow Him, to love Him, to obey Him, and to tell others about Him. Like the apostles, we don’t know what our commitment to Jesus might bring.

Lord, help us to follow You faithfully and to trust You completely with our future. By: Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

I am resolved to follow the Savior,
Faithful and true each day;
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth—
He is the living Way.

Following Jesus is always right—but not always easy.

Obey The Call

They immediately left their nets and followed Him. —Mark 1:18

Today's Scripture: Mark 1:16-20

I read about Captain Ray Baker who flew for the Strategic Air Command during the Vietnam War. The Air Force trained him, along with the other pilots, to run out of their barracks to their planes at the sound of a buzzer. Many times during dinner he had to drop his utensils and bolt to his bomber. He had been trained to respond to the call with immediate obedience. He was so well-trained that one day while on furlough, he ran out of a restaurant when he heard a buzzer.

When Jesus called His first followers, they had an immediacy in their response to His call. The call of these fishermen was abrupt. Yet “they immediately left their nets and followed Him” (Mark 1:18). The author of this account, Mark, may have wanted to impress upon his readers the authority of Jesus. When He extended the call, these men jumped to obey because helping people enter the kingdom of God was a more compelling adventure and a grander vision than catching fish.

When Jesus issues a call to follow Him, He doesn’t want us to delay. He expects immediate obedience when it comes to telling others the good news. Bring someone the story of salvation today! By: Marvin Williams (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Go to the lost, in the home, in the mart,
Delay no longer, today make a start;
Tell them of Jesus who bled for their sin—
From byways of darkness bring others to Him.

Wanted: Messengers to deliver the good news.

Mark 1:19  Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets.

NET  Mark 1:19 Going on a little farther, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother in their boat mending nets.

GNT  Mark 1:19 Καὶ προβὰς ὀλίγον εἶδεν Ἰάκωβον τὸν τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου καὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ καταρτίζοντας τὰ δίκτυα,

NLT  Mark 1:19 A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee's sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets.

KJV  Mark 1:19 And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.

ESV  Mark 1:19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.

ASV  Mark 1:19 And going on a little further, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending the nets.

CSB  Mark 1:19 Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in their boat mending their nets.

NIV  Mark 1:19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets.

NKJ  Mark 1:19 When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets.

NRS  Mark 1:19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets.

YLT  Mark 1:19 And having gone on thence a little, he saw James of Zebedee, and John his brother, and they were in the boat refitting the nets,

NAB  Mark 1:19 He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets.

NJB  Mark 1:19 Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending the nets.

  • James the son of Zebedee: Mk 3:17 5:37 9:2 10:35 14:33 Mt 4:21 Ac 1:13 12:2 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

"The Jesus Boat


Going on a little farther - NLT paraphrases it "A little farther up the shore." This detail is found only in Mark's version of the call of the first disciples.


He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother - Luke tells us that "James and John, sons of Zebedee...were partners with Simon." (Lk 5:10+)

Who were also in the boat mending the nets - Nets is plural so they were working on different kinds of fishing nets getting them ready for their next expedition. Mending is in the present tense picturing them as continually busy at their task. 

Boat (4143)(ploion from pleo = to sail) can refer to a rather large seagoing craft (Acts 20:13, 38; Acts 21:2f, 6; 27 Jas 3:4; Rev 8:9;  Rev 18:19) or a small fishing craft boat as used on the Sea of Galilee (Mt 4:21f; Mt 9:1; Mk 1:19f; Mk 6:51, 54; Jn 6:19, 21f; Jn 21:3). See Wikipedia description of the "Jesus Boat" discovered in 1986. 

Ploion - 66x in 61 verses in NT -  boat (40), boats (4), ship (18), ship's (1), ships (3).

Matt. 4:21; Matt. 4:22; Matt. 8:23; Matt. 8:24; Matt. 9:1; Matt. 13:2; Matt. 14:13; Matt. 14:22; Matt. 14:24; Matt. 14:29; Matt. 14:32; Matt. 14:33; Matt. 15:39; Mk. 1:19; Mk. 1:20; Mk. 4:1; Mk. 4:36; Mk. 4:37; Mk. 5:2; Mk. 5:18; Mk. 5:21; Mk. 6:32; Mk. 6:45; Mk. 6:47; Mk. 6:51; Mk. 6:54; Mk. 8:10; Mk. 8:14; Lk. 5:3; Lk. 5:7; Lk. 5:11; Lk. 8:22; Lk. 8:37; Jn. 6:17; Jn. 6:19; Jn. 6:21; Jn. 6:22; Jn. 21:3; Jn. 21:6; Acts 20:13; Acts 20:38; Acts 21:2; Acts 21:3; Acts 21:6; Acts 27:2; Acts 27:6; Acts 27:10; Acts 27:15; Acts 27:17; Acts 27:19; Acts 27:22; Acts 27:30; Acts 27:31; Acts 27:37; Acts 27:38; Acts 27:39; Acts 27:44; Acts 28:11; Jas. 3:4; Rev. 8:9; Rev. 18:19

Ploion in Septuagint

Gen. 49:13; Deut. 28:68; Jdg. 5:17; 2 Chr. 8:18; 2 Chr. 9:21; 2 Chr. 20:36; 2 Chr. 20:37; Job 41:7; Ps. 48:7; Ps. 104:26; Ps. 107:23; Isa. 2:16; Isa. 11:14; Isa. 18:1; Isa. 23:1; Isa. 23:10; Isa. 23:14; Isa. 33:21; Isa. 43:14; Isa. 60:9; Ezek. 27:9; Ezek. 27:25; Ezek. 27:29; Dan. 11:40; Jon. 1:3; Jon. 1:4; Jon. 1:5

Mending (same verb Mt 4:21+)(2675)(katartizo from katá = with + artízō = to adjust, fit, finish, in turn from ártios = fit, complete) means to put in order (like the creation of the world in Heb 11:3+ = prepared), to make ready, to fit or join together, to mend or repair. It refers to parts working precisely together – fulfilling their intended purpose (potential) because properly adapted (adjusted). Katartízō conveys the fundamental idea of putting something into its appropriate condition so it will function well. It conveys the idea of making whole by fitting together, to order and arrange properly. When applied to that which is weak and defective, it denotes setting right what has gone wrong, to restore to a former condition, whether mending broken nets or setting broken bones. Peter promises that after we suffer for a little while "the God of all grace, who called (us) to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect" (THINK "MEND" PERFECTLY! THAT WILL BE GLORY!)(1 Peter 5:10+). This verb is used in a great prayer (excellent one to pray for one another) 

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip (katartizo) you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb 13:20-21+)

Hiebert adds that katartízō can also mean "to bring to completion a process of making whole already begun" as in Jesus statement that "A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained (katartízō), will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40+) When the pupil's training is complete, he will be just like his master. Our standard of excellence is the perfection of Christ Himself. (Hiebert, D. E. 1 Peter. page 319. Moody)

Ray Stedman on mending their nets - But James and John were doing something else -- they were mending their nets. The Greek word for "mending" is the same word which appears in Ephesians 4, where Paul says of pastor/teachers that they are to "equip" (or mend) the saints to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12+ - ED: USES RELATED NOUN - katartismos = Make someone completely adequate and in context describes complete "furnishing" of a believer so that he or she might be made ready to fulfill their purpose - cf Eph 2:10+). Just as James and John were equipping their nets, getting them ready, when Jesus called them, so this would be the work they would be doing as fishers of men. They would do it as teachers, equipping the saints. Again, this is what you see in the lives of these men throughout Scriptures. This is beautiful thought, because it indicates that when our Lord calls us he not only equips us, taking full responsibility to teach us everything we need to learn in order to fulfill that calling, but he does it in such a way as to retain those nuances of personality that mark us as us. While I was at Wheaton College this past week a young student came up to me at the close of a chapel service and, with a very earnest look on his face, said, "Look, all week long you've been talking to us about Christ's working through us, saying that he will do the work. I have a question: How can Jesus work through us without destroying our personality?" I cast about for an answer, and all of a sudden an illustration came flashing into my mind: "When you prepare breakfast, if you plug an electric toaster and an electric mixer into the same outlet, would they both do the same thing?" He said, "I see what you mean." Of course they would not. They both use the same power, but they do not do the same thing. So it is with Jesus. He is the power in the Christian life, the One who is able to live in us and manifest himself through us -- whatever the demand of life may be -- but the result always retains something of our individuality. The glory of the call of Christianity is that we are all empowered by the same mighty One, but that we lose nothing of the distinct flavor of our particular personality. (Sermon)

Mark 1:20  Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.

GNT  Mark 1:20 καὶ εὐθὺς ἐκάλεσεν αὐτούς. καὶ ἀφέντες τὸν πατέρα αὐτῶν Ζεβεδαῖον ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ μετὰ τῶν μισθωτῶν ἀπῆλθον ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ.

NLT  Mark 1:20 He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.

KJV  Mark 1:20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

ESV  Mark 1:20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

ASV  Mark 1:20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after him.

CSB  Mark 1:20 Immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him.

NIV  Mark 1:20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

NKJ  Mark 1:20 And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.

NRS  Mark 1:20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

YLT  Mark 1:20 and immediately he called them, and, having left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, they went away after him.

NAB  Mark 1:20 Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

NJB  Mark 1:20 At once he called them and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

  • they left their father Zebedee in the boat: Mk 10:29 De 33:9 1Ki 19:20 Mt 4:21,22 8:21,22 10:37 Lu 14:26 2Co 5:16 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


In early Jewish writings the description of a follower of a rabbi was that he was to “cover himself in the dust of [the rabbi’s] feet.” In other words he was to follow so closely behind the rabbi that he would walk in the dust stirred up by the rabbi's sandals! The picture was of the disciple walking so closely that he might be able to watch and imitate his every word and action. If you have ever been to the Wailing wall in Jerusalem you may have seen this played out as you watched an old white haired rabbi limping along, bent over, being followed by young men who are also limping bent over despite being young and vigorous! They are imitating their rabbi even to the point of limping like he did! And this is a literal picture of what Jesus was calling Simon, Andrew, James, and John to do in an ethical sense for the next three years so that they might become more and more like Him! 

THOUGHT - This should be the picture of every disciple for we too are called to walk closely and spend quality time with Jesus. How? Of course by spending uninterrupted time in His living and active Word (Hebrews 4:12+) and speaking with Him in prayer. So let me ask you dearly beloved --- are your sandals covered with the dust of Jesus' sandals or are your Bibles simply covered with dust? And you can mark it down that dusty Bibles usually belong to people with dirty lives! 

Immediately He called them - Called is kaleo meaning “to call aloud, to utter in a loud voice”  and together with the fact that James and John were in the large boat which had to be moored some distance from shore unless there was a wharf there, indicates that our Lord called across a stretch of water in order to reach them. In either event His call was an effectual call. The immediate call brought immediate obedience even as did Andrew and Simon in Mk 1:18. 

Related Resource:

Immediately (2117) see preceding discussion on euthus used 11x in chapter 1 - Mk. 1:10; Mk. 1:12; Mk. 1:18; Mk. 1:20; Mk. 1:21; Mk. 1:23; Mk. 1:28; Mk. 1:29; Mk. 1:30; Mk. 1:42; Mk. 1:43 (One other use in Mk 1:3 means "straight"). These 2 sets of brothers present a striking contrast with others who hesitated. For example in Luke 9 we read of of others who did not drop everything and immediately follow Jesus...

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow (akoloutheo) You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (JESUS IS CALLING HIM TO COUNT THE COST) 59 And He said to another, “Follow (akoloutheo in present imperative) Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” 60 But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” 61 Another also said, “I will follow (akoloutheo) You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:57-61+)

THOUGHT - “Follow me” was the call of Jesus to those who would be His disciples. It still is. Jesus is still calling men and women, boys and girls to be disciples. And the call is the same, “Follow me.” Are you willing to follow or do you have a set of well crafted excuses? 

And they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants - How quickly did they respond? Matthew 4:22 says "Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him." Clearly Zebedee and his two sons evidently had a very successful fishing business in co-operation with Andrew and Simon (Lk 5:7, 10+). Mark alone has this detail of the hired servants who remained with their father Zebedee. This added fact indicates Zebedee’s fishing business was prosperous and that he was a man of importance (cf. description of John in Jn 18:15). The point is that James and John "counted the cost" to follow Jesus! One is reminded of one of Jesus' "hard sayings" - “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up (apotasso means to "say good-bye") all his own possessions." (Lk 14:33+)

THOUGHT - James and John were willing! Are you? Am I? If you are like me this is not just a one time choice, but daily involves many choices of giving up things that might be gratifying (some morally/ethically positive, some neutral, some negative), daily dying to self, daily taking up Jesus' cross for as "He was saying to them all (AND ALL OF US), “If anyone wishes (THE KEY THAT UNLOCKS THE DOOR - energized by the Spirit - same verb thelo in Php 2:13NLT+ for "desire") to come after (opiso as in Mk 1:17, 20) Me, he must deny (arneomai in aorist imperative - requires energization by the Holy Spirit to obey) himself, and take up (another aorist imperative) his cross daily and follow (akoloutheo in present imperative - Jesus commands a lifestyle of following Him only possible by relying wholly on the Holy Spirit - this same verb used in Mk 1:18+, Lk 5:11+) Me (Lk 9:23+) Notice the key verb "wishes" in Lk 9:23 is thelo which speaks of our desire that comes from our emotions producing an active decision of our will, which implies both volition and purpose, as well as a conscious willing, all of this of course not our natural inclination but enabled by the Spirit Who is in us "at work in (us), both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (Php 2:13+

Sermon (76 minutes) by Steven Lawson on Luke 14:25-35  "It Will Cost You Everything!"

Hired servants (3411)(misthotos from misthoo = to let out for hire, from misthos = wages) means hired worker, hireling, day-laborer. Only 3 verses - Mk 1:20. Then there are two uses in John, Jn 10:12, 13, where the true Shepherd stands in contrast to the “hireling” or the “hired hand” who is employed to tend the sheep and Zodhiates suggests in John it describes "one who is not showing real interest in his duty and who is unfaithful." In secular Greek it was used of of soldiers, in pl., and mercenaries (Lxx of Jer 46:21), Hdt., Thuc. In the papyri the term refers to the lessee or tenant (Moulton-Milligan).

Misthotos in the Septuagint -

Exod. 12:45; Exod. 22:15; Lev. 19:13; Lev. 22:10; Lev. 25:6; Lev. 25:40; Lev. 25:53; Deut. 15:18; Job 7:2; Job 14:6; Isa. 16:14; Isa. 21:16; Isa. 28:1; Isa. 28:3; Jer. 46:21; Mal. 3:5

Left (863) see discussion above of the interesting verb aphiemi. Luke's version says  "When they had brought their boats to land, they left (same verb Mark uses - see aphiemi) everything and followed Him." (Lk 5:11+, cf Levi/Matthew in Lk 5:27-28+)

And went away to follow Him - Again, no hesitation but immediate obedience, for Matthew records that "Immediately they left the boat and their father." (Mt 4:22) Notice that Andrew and Simon left their nets but James and John left their father so that both fulfilled Jesus' condition in Lk 14:33.

To follow (3694)(opiso from opis = a looking back) meant they went behind Jesus, in close proximity and relationship (see more detailed discussion of use in similar context in Mark 1:17).

Spurgeon - They never had cause to regret that they did so. Whatever they left, they were abundantly rewarded. They had a rich reward here on earth; and they have a far richer reward in heaven. Whatever a man gives up for Christ is a blessed investment, which will, sooner or later, bring him good interest.

THOUGHT FROM DAVID THOMPSON - Now I agree with H.A. Ironside in that not all who believe in the Lord today and purpose to obey the Word will become a great soul winner or fisher of men. There are different gifts that God gives to different people. Some people are evangelists. Some people are Pastor/Teachers. Some have a gift of mercy or helps or giving. What we do know is that if any will purpose to obey the Word, God will use that person to accomplish His purposes, just like he did with these four fishermen. (Sermon)

Steve Andrews - In 1 Kings 19 there is a great illustration of discipleship. Elijah, the national prophet, was coming to the end of his ministry. God told him to choose a man named Elisha to be his disciple and his replacement as the prophet. Elijah goes and finds Elisha hard at work on the family farm, plowing with twelve yoke of oxen. Now, Elisha probably came from a wealthy family with a large farm because we see him supervising eleven other men as he plowed with the last pair of oxen (for you farmers, it’s like having a tractor that with a 12 bottom plow—that’s no small tractor!). The prophet Elijah walked up to this farmer and threw his prophet’s mantle over him (I’m not sure what exactly a mantle looked like, probably some kind of outer garment, but if the prophet threw his mantle on you it meant you were being called to be a prophet too). We can see that Elisha knew this because he ran after the prophet and said, “I will follow you,” (1 Kings 19:20). But before he left his father’s farm to be Elijah’s disciple he first did something very important. He had a barbeque for his family. Now, why would that be so very important? Elisha slaughtered his oxen and used the wooden yoke and plow as fuel to cook the beef. Do you see what Elisha was doing? When you burn your plow and eat your ox you don’t ever intend to go back to farming. He was cutting ties with his past so he wouldn’t be tempted to go back to that life. It was his way of showing he was totally committed to following his new master. That’s what Jesus’ disciples did. They left all to follow Jesus. That’s discipleship—forsaking all to follow Jesus.

THOUGHT - Do you have some things in your life that are keeping you from following Jesus? Keeping you from walking the way Jesus walked? Some of you guys may need to burn your pornography; you may need to delete the phone number or email address of that person who could take your love away from your mate; you may need to leave behind whatever it is that is keeping you from following Jesus. (Sermon)

Walking In His Dust

[Jesus] called them, and they left their father . . . and went after Him. —Mark 1:20

Today's Scripture:Mark 1:16-20

In the first century, a Jewish man who wanted to become a disciple of a rabbi (teacher) was expected to leave family and job to join his rabbi. They would live together 24 hours a day—walking from place to place, teaching and learning, studying and working. They discussed and memorized the Scriptures and applied them to life. The disciple’s calling, as described in early Jewish writings about basic ethics, was to “cover himself in the dust of [the rabbi’s] feet,” drinking in his every word. He followed his rabbi so closely that he would “walk in his dust.” In doing so, he became like the rabbi, his master.

Simon, Andrew, James, and John knew that this was the type of relationship to which Jesus was calling them (Mark 1:16-20). So immediately they walked away from their work and “went after Him” (v.20). For 3 years they stayed close to Him—listening to His teaching, watching His miracles, learning His principles, and walking in His dust.

As Jesus’ followers today, we too can “walk in His dust.” By spending time studying and meditating on His Word and applying its principles to life, we’ll become like our rabbi—Jesus. By: Anne Cetas (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

What holds me back? Some earthly tie? A thirst for gain?
A strange entanglement with life? A pleasure vain?
Dear Lord, I cast it all aside so willingly;
The path of true discipleship I'll walk with Thee.

Faith in Christ is not just a single step—
it's a lifelong walk with Him.

The Honor Of Following Read: Matthew 4:18-22 

Then [Jesus] said to them, “Follow Me.” —Matthew 4:19

When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. Luke 5:11

While visiting Jerusalem, a friend of mine saw an old rabbi walking past the Wailing Wall. The interesting thing about the aged rabbi was the five young men walking behind him. They too were walking bent over, limping—just like their rabbi. An Orthodox Jew watching them would know exactly why they were imitating their teacher. They were “followers.” Throughout the history of Judaism, one of the most honored positions for a Jewish man was the privilege of becoming a “follower” of the local rabbi. Followers sat at the rabbi’s feet as he taught. They would study his words and watch how he acted and reacted to life and others. A follower would count it the highest honor to serve his rabbi in even the most menial tasks. And, because they admired their rabbi, they were determined to become like him.

When Jesus called His disciples to follow Him (Matt. 4:19, Mk 1:17), it was an invitation to be changed by Him, to become like Him, and to share His passion for those who need a Savior. The high honor of being His follower should show in our lives as well. We too have been called to catch the attention of the watching world as we talk, think, and act just like Jesus—the rabbi, the teacher, of our souls. By Joe Stowell (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Thank You, Lord, for the high honor of being called to follow You. May my life so imitate You that others will know that You are the pursuit of my life and the rabbi of my soul.

Follow Jesus and let the world know He is your rabbi. (Ed: And YOUR LORD!)

INSIGHT: In the region surrounding the Sea of Galilee in the first century, fishing was one of the primary industries. This fishing normally took place at night, with the laborious task of casting weighted fishing nets and then hauling them back in. Fishing was not an easy occupation, but it did provide a decent living and, as seen in today’s text, was often operated as a family business. Here, two brothers, Peter and Andrew, worked together (Mt 4:18), as did James, John, and their father (Mt 4:21). In this case, however, these two families also had a partnership in their fishing business, as recorded in Luke 5:10. Jesus used this partnership to His advantage in calling these four men as disciples.

Quest For Stolen Treasure

Read: Matthew 4:18-22  Luke 5:1-11

[Jesus] said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” —Matthew 4:19

In J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the dwarfs gathered to go up against Smaug, the fierce dragon, to retrieve their stolen treasure. In spite of the dangerously frightening quest, Balin, the dwarfs’ second-in-command, expressed confidence in Thorin: “There is one I could follow. There is one I could call King.” His commitment to the mission, as dangerous as it was, was empowered by his confidence in his leader.

At the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He gathered a group around Him that would join Him in the kingdom task of rescuing the treasure of lost souls from our enemy, Satan. When He called them, He said, “Follow Me” (Matt. 4:19). For them, following Jesus would mean a radical transition from catching fish to the enterprise of being fishers of men and women who were lost in the grip of sin. But the task would not always be easy; Jesus referred to the quest as taking up our cross to follow Him (see Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23).

How do we stay engaged in the battle to reclaim Christ’s lost treasures when it seems intimidating or awkward? By keeping our eye on our Leader. He indeed is worthy—One we can follow, the One we call King! By Joe Stowell  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Lord, in the face of intimidation and fear when seeking to engage others with the gospel, remind me that they are Your lost treasures. I count it a privilege to follow You into others’ lives.

Follow your Leader into the lives of those around you.

INSIGHT: These two pairs of brothers (Peter and Andrew, James and John) were the earliest disciples to respond to Jesus’ call. Most likely, Peter, Andrew, and John had an earlier encounter with Jesus (John 1:35-42). In today’s passage, the Lord is calling them to abandon their fishing trade and to follow Him fully and permanently (Matt. 4:20,22). Later, Peter declared that they had left all to follow Jesus (19:27). These four had been partners in the fishing business (Luke 5:10). Peter, James, and John were also privileged to become the inner circle among Jesus’ 12 disciples (Mark 5:37; 9:2; 14:33).

Learning To Fish

Read: Matthew 4:18-22 | Luke 5:1-11

He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." —Matthew 4:19

Thomas Boston, a young minister and fly fisherman from Scotland, wrote this in his diary in 1699: “Reading in secret, my heart was touched with Matthew 4:19, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ My soul cried out for the accomplishing of that to me, and I was very desirous to know how I might follow Christ, so as to be a fisher of men.”

Boston later wrote a booklet titled, A Soliloquy on the Art of Man Fishing, in which he spelled out what he learned about soul-winning by following the Master Angler. He pointed out that the habits of fish and the habits of sinners are often quite similar.

I am an avid fisherman, and I have worked our Idaho trout streams many times. I agree with Boston that catching fish and winning souls are very much alike. But analogy can only take us so far. The best way to become an effective “fisher of men” is simply to follow Jesus.

For us that means watching how the Master “fished” and then imitating Him. It involves reading the Scriptures and lingering over His words and deeds, learning how He “caught souls.” Then we must cry out, as Thomas Boston did, and ask Jesus to make us like Him—great “fishers of men.”  By David Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Keeping in step with the Savior,
Living a life that is true,
Clearly let's sound out a witness,
Proving what God's grace can do. 

If you're not fishing for souls, you are not following the Savior.

Close On His Heels - Luke 5:11

Read: Matthew 4:18-25, Luke 5:1-11

Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. —Matthew 4:19

Stan and Jennifer were speaking at a mission conference in Marion, North Carolina, after their first term of service on the field.

Jennifer told of a Bible study she had held with one woman. The two were discussing Matthew 4:19, and the woman told Jennifer about a word in her native language, which means follow. She said, “It is the word for following closely, not at a distance.”

To illustrate, Jennifer held up slippers used by the native women, showing one far behind the other. Then she moved one slipper right up against the back of the other one, and said that the word means “to follow right on one’s heels.” It suggests that we are to follow Jesus as closely as possible.

Later, when Jennifer was reading over the journal she had been keeping, she was surprised to see that she had often questioned, “Is Jesus enough?” She had been working her way through culture shock, loneliness, illness, and childlessness. At times she had felt far from Christ. But when through prayer and faith she had drawn as close to Him as she could, walking “right on His heels,” He had calmed her soul, restored her strength, and given her peace.

Are you feeling far from the Lord—empty, weak, and afraid? It’s time to follow close on His heels. By David Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

God, give me the faith of a little child!
A faith that will look to Thee—
That never will falter and never fail,
But follow Thee trustingly.

The closer we walk with God, the clearer we see His guidance.

Who Are You? - 

Read: Matthew 4:18-25 | Luke 5:1-11

Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. —Matthew 4:19

If someone were to ask, “Who are you?” my guess is that you would tell a little about yourself and what you do—“I’m an electrician” or “I’m a nurse.” But that’s not really who you are—it’s what you do. Which leads to the question, If what you do is who you are, who will you be when you stop doing what you’re doing?!

Who you are is found in your relationship to Jesus. And this sense of identity will drive your behavior. Take Matthew, for example. As a tax collector during the reign of the Roman Empire, his life was driven by greed. But everything changed the day Jesus showed up and invited Matthew to follow Him (Matt. 9:9). Suddenly Matthew had a whole new identity as a follower of Christ! And he wasn’t the only one. We also read about four fishermen in Matthew 4:18-25, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, who left their nets to follow Him.

Jesus is a compelling Person, and He is still looking for followers. He wants to make something of your life by giving you the identity of a follower of Jesus. It doesn’t mean giving up your career, but it does mean that you will do your work—and all of life—according to His will and ways.

So next time someone asks, “Who are you?” I hope you’ll answer, “I’m a follower of Jesus”! By Joe Stowell 

For Further Study Read about 10 perspectives that should form our attitudes and actions as followers of Jesus in Kingdom Living at

If you are a follower of Jesus, that’s all the identity you need.

Fishing - Luke 5:1-11

Read: Matthew 4:18-22 

He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." —Matthew 4:19

A skilled fly fisherman whips his line back and forth over his head. Then he releases the line and sets the fly-like lure down on the water’s surface exactly where he wants it. If he’s successful, a big rainbow trout will rise, strike the lure, and the fisherman will set the hook. The battle is on!

That’s one way to catch fish. Halibut fishermen use another method. They go out on the ocean and drop big baited hooks, sometimes as far down as 125 or 150 feet. When one of those big, flat fish goes for the bait and is hooked, he begins a long ride to the surface.

Jesus told Peter and Andrew to follow Him and He would make them “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-19). As followers of Christ today, we too are to be “fishing” for people in our world, using different methods to spread the good news. We are to be telling men and women, family and friends, young and old, about their sin, the love of God, and His offer of salvation through faith in Jesus.

Are you fishing for men? Have you tried different methods to tell others about Christ and the gospel? Have you reached out to your neighborhood and community with the good news? Keep following Jesus, and He’ll teach you how to fish.By David Egner  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Think of a way you can share Christ with people
in your neighborhood, workplace, or school.
Talk it over with others, then go out and try it.

If you follow the Savior, He'll teach you how to fish.

Making The Cut

Read: Matthew 4:18-22 | Luke 5:1-11

[Jesus] said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” —Matthew 4:19

Every year, high-school seniors apply to their favorite universities and then watch the mailbox for the letter announcing their acceptance.

It was different for teens in New Testament times. Jewish boys would often attend rabbinical schools until age 13. Then only the best and brightest would be chosen to “follow” the local rabbi. This small, select group of disciples would go where he went and eat what he ate—modeling their lives after the rabbi. Those who didn’t make the cut would pick up a trade like carpentry, sheep-herding, or fishing.

Guys like Simon, Andrew, James, and John hadn’t made the cut. So instead of following the local rabbi, they were down by the docks, knee-deep in the family business. It’s interesting that Jesus sought out the men the local rabbi had rejected. Instead of targeting the best and brightest, Jesus offered His invitation, “Follow Me,” to ordinary run-of-the-mill fishermen. What an honor! They would become followers of the ultimate Rabbi.

Jesus extends the same honor to you and me—not because we are the best or brightest, but because He needs ordinary people like us to model His life and to lovingly rescue people on His behalf. So, follow Him and let Him make something of your life! By Joe Stowell  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

As followers of Jesus
Who love Him from the heart,
We may be ordinary,
But we’ve been set apart. —Sper

Even the ordinary and the outcast can make the cut to follow Jesus.

Follow Me

Read: Mark 2:13-17 | Luke 5:11

It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Mark 2:17

Health clubs offer many different programs for those who want to lose weight and stay healthy. One fitness center caters only to those who want to lose at least 50 pounds and develop a healthy lifestyle. One member says that she quit her previous fitness club because she felt the slim and fit people were staring at her and judging her out-of-shape body. She now works out 5 days a week and is achieving healthy weight loss in a positive and welcoming environment.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus came to call the spiritually unfit to follow Him. Levi was one such person. Jesus saw him sitting in his tax collector’s booth and said, “Follow me” (Mark 2:14). His words captured Levi’s heart, and he followed Jesus. Tax collectors were often greedy and dishonest in their dealings and were considered religiously unclean. When the religious leaders saw Jesus having dinner at Levi’s house with other tax collectors, they asked, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mk 2:16). Jesus replied, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mk 2:17).

Jesus came to save sinners, which includes all of us.

Jesus came to save sinners, which includes all of us. He loves us, welcomes us into His presence, and calls us to follow Him. As we walk with Him, we grow more and more spiritually fit.

Read Acts 9:10-19 and see how one man obeyed God and welcomed someone who was considered spiritually unfit. What were the results? How can you reach out to those who need the Savior? How can you help your church become a more welcoming place for the spiritually unfit?  By Marvin Williams  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Jesus’ arms of welcome are always open.

INSIGHT: Mark 2:13–17 and Luke 5:27–32 both tell the story of Jesus calling a man named Levi to be His disciple. It appears that Levi was employed by Herod Antipas to collect tolls (travel taxes) from those outside of his territory who passed through Capernaum. There is almost universal agreement that the Levi in Mark 2 and Luke 5 is the apostle Matthew, since Matthew is identified as a tax collector and his own calling mirrors the calling of Levi (Matt. 9:9-12). After Levi started his new life as an apostle, he was called by his Greek name—Matthew—which means “gift of God.”

Mark 1:21  They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach.

  • they went: Mk 2:1 Mt 4:13 Lu 4:31 Lk 10:15 
  • Capernaum -  Mt 4:13. Lk 4:31-37 (parallel passage)
  • He entered - Mk 1:39. Mt 6:2. Mt 4:23. Lk 4:16. Lk 13:10. Ac 13:14, etc. Acts 17:2. Acts 18:4
  • The synagogue - Jn 6:59
  • A Sabbath in Capernaum  - Alred Edersheim (Mt 8:14-17;  Mark 1:21-34; Luke 4:33-41)
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
Source: Ryrie Study Bible (Quick Verse 4.0 Edition)
Click another depiction of the Jewish Synagogue


Luke 4:31-37+ parallels Mark 1:21-28

And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath; 32 and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority. 33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst of the people, he came out of him without doing him any harm. 36 And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, “What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out.” 37 And the report about Him was spreading into every locality in the surrounding district.(Lk 4:31-37+)

Mark 1:9-39

1. Jesus leaves his home town of Nazareth in Galilee. (Mk 1:9)
2. At the Jordan he is baptized by John. (Mk 1:10)
3. He is led into the desert for 40 days where he is tempted. (Mk 1:12)
4. After the arrest of John, Jesus goes north to Galilee. (Mk 1:14)
5. Inset: Near Bethsaida, Jesus calls Simon and Andrew, James, and John to follow him. (Mk 1:16-20)
6. They arrive at Capernaum, where Simon and Andrew live. Jesus preaches and does many works of healing—including healing Simon’s mother-in-law. (Mk 1:21-31)
7. From here Jesus first goes out into Galilee, preaching and casting out demons. (Mk 1:32-39).

Source: Nelson's 3D Bible Mapbook

Lowell Johnson helps us get the perspective noting that "Between Mark 1:20 and 21 another span of time is passed over without comment. During the several weeks that are not mentioned by Mark, Jesus was carrying out His ministry in Nazareth, His hometown (with supernatural power - see Lk 4:14-15+). It was during this time that He preached the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and called the rest of the twelve disciples (ED: Wuest agees but some passages suggest all members of the 12 were not actually called until later - see Mt 10:1, Mk 3:14, Lk 6:13). It was also during this period that Jesus suffered rejection at the hands of the people in His hometown of Nazareth. According to Luke 4:16-20+, Jesus preached in the synagogue at Nazareth and proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah Israel had long anticipated (cf Lk 4:21+). The people rejected His claims and even tried to kill Him (Lk 4:28-29+). As a result, Jesus and His men left Nazareth and moved their ministry to Capernaum, which would become His base for ministry. It is there that Mark picks up the narrative once again. (Sermon)

Wuest agrees - The entrance into Capernaum was not immediately after the call of these four men. The calling of the other apostles, the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1-7:28), the healing of the leper (Mt 8:2-4) and of the centurion’s servant, preceded this miracle in the Capernaum synagogue. 

Comment - Comparing  Matthew's account, we read in Mt 8:1-4 Jesus healed a leper and then "When He had entered Capernaum..." (Mt 8:5) the first event Matthew records is that He healed the centurion's paralyzed servant (Mt 8:5-13). These accounts are omitted by both Mark and Luke. Matthew then follows this account of Jesus entering Peter's home and healing his mother-in-law (Mt 8:14-15, which parallels Mk 1:29-31 and Lk 4:38-39+), so he omits the account of Jesus teaching in the Synagogue and casting out a demon described here by Mark and by Luke 4:31-37+

Chronology of the events of a Day in the Life of Jesus in Capernaum - based on the Synoptic Gospels:

  1. Healing a leper (Only in Mt 8:1-4)
  2. Healing centurion's son (Only in Mt 8:5-13)
  3. Preaching the Word with Authority in Synagogue (Mk 1:21-22, Lk 4:31-32, not in Matthew)
  4. Casting out unclean spirit/demon  (Mk 1:23-27, Lk 4:33-36, not in Matthew)
  5. Spread of the report/news about Jesus (Mk 1:28, Lk 4:37, not in Matthew)
  6. Entering Peter's Home and Healing his Mother-in-Law (Mk 1:29-31, Lk 4:38-39, Mt 8:14-15)
  7. Healings and casting out demons in evening (Mk 1:32-34, Lk 4:40-42, Mt 8:16-17-adds quote from Isa 53:4)

They went into Capernaum - From the chronology above note that Matthew records two events (Mt 8:1-4, Mt 8:5-13) not recorded by Mark or Luke. They refers to Jesus and all 12 of His disciples. Capernaum (Kfar = village + Nahum = "Nahum's Village) was a city of Galilee (Lk 4:31+), in the tetrarchy of Herod Antipas on the border of his brother Philip’s domain. (map of Jesus' Ministry in Galilee) and was 680 feet below sea level (cf Nazareth at 1200 ft above sea level so Nazareth to Capernaum is "straight downhill" so to speak - which explains Luke's verb that they "came down to Capernaum" Lk 4:31+), located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee and began Jesus' "headquarters" during His Galilean ministry.

It was the largest city on the lake because it was a crossroads of a major trade routes. It had a customs tax office and a Roman garrison because it was a potential area of crime because there was so much action, so much trade, so much travel traffic. Collins Dictionary note is interesting referring to Capernaum as "a ruined town in northern Israel (Ed: cf Jesus' words to this city - Mt 11:23, 24), on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee." Mt 4:13 tells us after "leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali." (see map of Zebulun and Napthali) As an aside Capernaum is no longer a city and in Lk 10:15+ Jesus warned the city that because it had rejected the Light (Jesus actually lived there), "you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades!" Dear reader, if you have not received Jesus as Savior, then you too will be like Capernaum for you have rejected the Light, just as most of that ancient city did! (read 2 Cor 6:2, Acts 16:31+, Ro 10:9-10+).

Jesus' CUSTOM was to go to the Jewish synagogue (as was Paul's custom in Acts). Luke records an episode (not found in Mark) that occurred probably shortly prior to the present event

"And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was HIS CUSTOM (ethos; NLT = "as usual"), He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read." (Luke 4:16+)

And immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue - Mark is in a hurry and is constantly moving the action along. This reminds us of Saul's reaction after He had met Jesus on the Damascus Road and he "immediately began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:20+) And where did Paul's power for such bold preaching come from? In Acts 9:17-18+ Jesus sent Ananias to Saul and when he arrived he declared “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, Who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized." So the Spirit filled Saul immediately begins to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues. Is this not the pattern for every minister today, to first be filled with the power of the Spirit and then proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ? 

 The centurion in Capernaum was built by a Gentile, a centurion who " loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.” (Luke 7:5+

Immediately (2117) see preceding discussion on euthus which is used 11x in chapter 1 - Mk. 1:10; Mk. 1:12; Mk. 1:18; Mk. 1:20; Mk. 1:21; Mk. 1:23; Mk. 1:28; Mk. 1:29; Mk. 1:30; Mk. 1:42; Mk. 1:43 (One other use in Mk 1:3 means "straight").

Related Resources:

Spurgeon - He did not do as the scribes did, who made a great parade of learning by quoting this Rabbi and the other, but Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” He spoke as one who felt that he had authority to speak in his own name, and in the name of God his Father. This method of teaching quite astonished the Jews. I wish that those who now hear the gospel, might be astonished at it, and be astonished into the belief of it by the power with which it comes home to their consciences and hearts.

Synagogue (4864)(sunagoge from sunágo = lead or bring together) refers to a group of people “going with one another” (sunago) literally describes a bringing together or congregating in one place. Eventually, sunagoge came to mean the place where they congregated together. The word was used to designate the buildings other than the central Jewish Temple where the Jews congregated for worship. Mark uses of sunagogue - at least 4 times Jesus enters a Jewish Synagogue in Mark's Gospel -   Mk. 1:21; Mk. 1:23; Mk. 1:29; Mk. 1:39; Mk. 3:1; Mk. 6:2; Mk. 12:39; Mk. 13:9;

Historically, Synagogues originated in the Babylonian captivity after the 586 BC destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar and served as places of worship and instruction. Synagogues frequently were a place of teaching and proclamation of the Gospel (Mt 4:23, 9:35, 12:9, 13:54, Mk 6:2, Lk 4:15, 16, Lk 4:44, 6:6, 13:10, Jn 6:59, 18:20, Acts 9:20 Acts 13:5  Acts 14:1 Acts 17:17, 18:4, 18:19, 19:8). In James 2:3 the synagogue seems to describe an assembly-place for Judeo-Christians. Sadly many synagogues became hotbeds of hypocrisy (Mt 6:2) and assemblies for arrogant display (form of hypocrisy) (Mt 6:5, Mk 12:39, Lk 11:43, 20:46).

Wuest -  The Jewish synagogue was therefore the place of worship other than the Temple at Jerusalem where the Jews congregated for worship. The service consisted of prayer, praise, the reading of the Word of God, and an exposition by any rabbi or other competent person. The sacred record shows that our Lord and also Paul were invited to either read the Scriptures or address the people in the synagogue (Luke 4:16–21; Acts 13:14–43).

And began to teach - Lenski says "the imperfect tense indicates the steady practice of Jesus." Jesus immediately began to teach and the reactions were immediate - (1) amazement by the Jews (2) irritation of the demons. Luke gives us a clue as to why Jesus teaching was so powerful. After being tempted by the devil, Luke records that "Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And (DON'T MISS THE "AND" - IT CLEARLY TIES JESUS' TEACHING WITH THE EMPOWERMENT BY THE SPIRIT) He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all." (Lk 4:14-15+) We see the same pattern with Saul in Acts 9:20 (quoted above)

Wuest - As soon as our Lord entered the synagogue, He went to teaching. The action of the imperfect tense is progressive, indicating that our Lord’s message was a discourse of some length. In other words, He did an extended piece of work in His teaching. Both kērussō “to make a proclamation,” and didaskō “to teach” are used of our Lord. He adapted His method of delivery to the place, time, audience, and subject matter.

A T Robertson - And taught. Inchoative imperfect tense, began to teach as soon as he entered the synagogue in Capernaum on the Sabbath. The synagogue in Capernaum afforded the best opening for the teaching of Jesus. He had now made Capernaum (Tell Hum) his headquarters after the rejection in Nazareth as explained in Luke 4:16–31+ and Mt 4:13–16. The ruins of this synagogue have been discovered...Jesus both taught (didaskō) and preached (kērussō) in the Jewish synagogues as opportunity was offered by the chief or leader of the synagogue (archisunagōgos). The service consisted of prayer, praise, reading of Scripture, and exposition by any rabbi or other competent person. Often Paul was invited to speak at such meetings. In Luke 4:20 Jesus gave back the roll of Isaiah to the attendant or beadle (tōi hupēretēi) whose business it was to bring out the precious manuscript and return it to its place. Jesus was a preacher for over a year (Ed: See John MacArthur's summary of Jesus' first year of ministry) when he began to teach in the Capernaum synagogue. His reputation had preceded him (Luke 4:14+).

David Guzik - Typically, the synagogue had no set teachers. Instead they had the custom of “the freedom of the synagogue,” where learned guests were invited to speak on the Scripture reading for that day. This custom gave Jesus the opportunity to preach.(Enduring Word Bible Commentary – Mark)

Began to teach (1321)(didasko from dáo= know or teach; English = didactic; didaskaliadidaktikos) means to provide instruction or information in a formal or informal setting. Synagogue teaching, as illustrated by that of Jesus, was basically expository. Scripture was read and explained section by section, often verse by verse. (Matthew 1-7)

Mark's uses of didasko - Mk. 1:21; Mk. 1:22; Mk. 2:13; Mk. 4:1; Mk. 4:2; Mk. 6:2; Mk. 6:6; Mk. 6:30; Mk. 6:34; Mk. 7:7; Mk. 8:31; Mk. 9:31; Mk. 10:1; Mk. 11:17; Mk. 12:14; Mk. 12:35; Mk. 14:49; 

Related Resource:

H A Ironside on the Synagogue in Capernaum - All this took place in the synagogue at Capernaum. When I was visiting Palestine some years ago, I think the greatest thrill I had, next to visiting "the place called Calvary," and the garden tomb just outside the Damascus gate of Jerusalem, was when standing on that very platform of the synagogue in Capernaum where this event and other events recorded in the Gospel took place. It was at Capernaum, we are told, that a Roman centurion built the Jews a synagogue, and for many, many centuries Capernaum had been entirely hidden from view. Archaeologists were unable to identify its site, until some years before the First World War a group of German monks built a monastery on a hill north of the Sea of Galilee, and when the World War broke out they were interned within the monastery grounds and were not permitted to leave until the war was over. While interned, in order that they might keep physically fit, they began to dig about on the hill where their monastery stood, and soon they began uncovering great blocks of limestone. The work went on with great interest, and by-and-by they uncovered an ancient synagogue. There was the entire floor, the great stones of the side walls, and the platform and pillars that had once upheld the roof. Now they have restored a great part of that synagogue, set up those pillars in place again, and though, of course, the roof is not on, you can enter the building, can look out over the vast floor capable of seating several hundred people, and you can stand on the platform back of the stone reading-desk. As I stood there with one of the monks by my side and my wife and daughter on the other side, how sacred a spot it seemed! I knew that my feet were standing on the very place where my blessed Lord had stood so long ago. They were able to identify it as the synagogue of Capernaum by this: They found on the great stones of the foundation all kinds of Hebrew signs. For instance, you can see cut in the stone Aaron's rod, and the golden bowl that was placed in the ark, the five-pointed star of Solomon and the six-pointed star of David, the olive, the fig, and vine-leaves which are used as symbols of Israel, and a great many other signs that were distinctly Jewish, and yet the synagogue itself is definitely Roman in architecture. But there is only one Roman sign to be seen. That is the great eagle. Evidently some Jew who revolted at this had chiseled off most of the eagle. The Jew did not like the sign of the eagle on a synagogue devoted to Jehovah. There is little question but that it is the synagogue built by the Roman centurion, that the Jews might have a suitable place of worship. There it is, bearing silent testimony to the Word of God. As I stood there at the reading-desk, I could look down, and I said to the monk, "Somewhere near there was that man with the unclean spirit. I can almost imagine I see him rising to his feet, and hear him screaming, 'Let us alone, what have we to do with Thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us?'" The monk said, "And Jesus rebuked him." I said, "Yes." So we went on, mentioning one thing after another that had taken place in that synagogue. It is a very real thing when you read the Bible in the light of what you can see, even in present-day Palestine. You realize how wonderfully accurate everything is.

Mark 1:22  They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Wuest - And they were completely amazed at His teaching. For He was teaching them as one who possesses authority, and not as the scribes.

  • they were amazed: Jer 23:29 Mt 7:28,29 13:54 Lu 4:32 Lk 21:15 Joh 7:46 Ac 6:10 Ac 9:21,22 2Co 4:2 Heb 4:12,13 
  • as one having authority: Mk 7:3-13 Mt 23:16-24 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


They were amazed at His teaching - They is clearly the Jews attending the Sabbath Service, but remember the 12 disciples (learners) are also on the scene. ESV, KJV render it that they "were astonished." It is interesting to note that our English word "astonish" is derived from the Latin word extonare which means to strike with thunder! What a picture of Jesus' radical message which must have struck His hearers like thunder! However it would have been better than being amazed is if they were being saved by His teaching! As D L Moody observed "There is an awful possibility of being “astonished,” without being convinced, persuaded, saved!"

Wuest on amazed -  The verb is in the pictorial imperfect tense, describing the prolonged amazement of the audience. It is in the passive voice, showing that this amazement was caused by an outside influence, the tremendous impact that the Messiah made upon them by the new type of teacher and teaching that met their eyes and ears.

Amazed (1605)(ekplesso from ek = out + plesso = strike) (imperfect tense) means strike out of his senses. Some versions render it astonished which is a good translation of ekplesso. Figuratively ekplesso means to drive out of one's senses by a sudden shock or strong feeling, or "to be exceedingly struck in mind" causing the person to be filled with amazement to the point of being overwhelmed (and so struck out of one's senses). It encompasses the ideas of wonder, astonishment or amazement. Ekplesso expresses a stunned amazement that leaves the subject unable to grasp what is happening. It is notable that most of the 13 NT uses of ekplesso are a reaction (most often of an uncommitted listener) to Jesus' teaching!

Mark has 5 of the 13 NT uses of ekplesso - Mk. 1:22; Mk. 6:2 ("began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished"); Mk. 7:37 (on Jesus' healing deaf and mute = " They were utterly astonished"; Mk. 10:26 (= the disciples "were even more astonished [reacting to Mk 10:25] and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?); Mk. 11:18 (leaders sought to kill Jesus "for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.") Teaching with authority can get you into trouble! 

Vincent has this note on ekplesso describing Jesus' parent's astonishment in Luke 2:48writing that amazed is "a very strong word; the verb meaning, literally, to strike out or drive away from; and so to drive out of one’s senses. Hence in the general sense of great amazement. Amaze is to throw into a maze or labyrinth; and so is closely akin to the Greek word here, and is a faithful rendering."

Mark regularly registers the public effect of Jesus' authority by superlatives - ekplessö (Mk 6:2, 7:37, 10:26, 11:18), thaumazö (Mk 5:20, 15:5, 44), ekthaumazö (Mk 12:17), thamboumai (Mk 1:27, 10:24, 32), ekthamboumai (Mk 9:15, 16:5), existëmi (Mk 2:12, 5:42, 6:51), phoboumai (Mk 4:41, 5:15, 33, 36, Mk 6:50, 9:32, Mk 10:32, 11:18, 16:8)

Matthew records the same reaction to Jesus' teaching (didache) in the Sermon on the Mount writing "When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed (also ekplesso) at His teaching." (Mt 7:28+) The audience was astounded, overwhelmed, besides themselves, totally dumbfounded by Jesus' words.

THOUGHT - Does the crowd’s response to Jesus resemble yours? Have you just had an emotional response to Jesus? Or upon hearing His Word have you received His Word into your heart and received Him as Savior and Lord? If so, then that is really AMAZING

That was John Newton's (Brief bio) to the the words of the Gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24+). Play Newton's amazing response to God's amazing Word! 

Amazing Grace

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

When we the readers today really comprehend what Jesus is saying in the Sermon on the Mount, we should be amazed and astonished also by His gracious (grace filled) word! If we aren't astonished at the revolutionary character of Jesus' sermon, then frankly we have probably not truly heard or truly grasped Jesus' intended meaning! As Jesus said repeatedly in the letters to the seven churches of the Revelation...

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Revelation 2:7+)

Teaching (instruction) (1322)(didache from didasko = to give instruction in a formal or informal setting with the highest possible development of the pupil as the goal; English = didactic = intended to teach, particularly in having moral instruction as an ulterior motive) is a noun which describes the activity of teaching (instruction). Mark's uses of didache - Mk. 1:22; Mk. 1:27; Mk. 4:2; Mk. 11:18; Mk. 12:38

For - Term of explanation. This one is easy to understand. Mark explains why the Jews in the synagogue were amazed

He was teaching (didasko in  present tense) them as one having authority, and not as the scribes - people who came that day expected to hear from Dr. Dry-As-Dust. The scribes' teaching was without authority. Why did they not demonstrate authority? Apparently the scribes did not quote the Scriptures as much as they quoted other rabbis on various topics as Jesus would later declare "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the TRADITION of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your TRADITION." (Mk 7:8-9+) In fact the scribes prided themselves on being able to quote various revered rabbis from Jewish history. And now Jesus comes into the synagogue and He is not quoting the rabbis. He is speaking pure truth to them, absolute truth, clear truth, practical truth that if applied changed one's life. He wasn’t offering helpful hints for happy living. He proclaimed the sovereign authority of God and called people to obey His authoritative Word. And the hearers were amazed because they had never heard any of the scribes teach that way.  After speaking on Isaiah 61:1-2a in the synagogue in Nazareth in Luke 4:22+ all the people "were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”"

Wuest on authority -  The word means literally “to be out,” and was used of that authority which a person has which is delegated to him from someone else. The person delegating the authority is in a sense out of himself and acting in the person to whom he has delegated the authority. Thus, the word means “delegated authority.” The word means also “the power of authority and of right.” It was used in legal practice of delegated authority. Here it is used of our Lord as having that authority in Himself, not derived from others. The rabbis quoted from other rabbis and felt themselves to be expounders of tradition. The Messiah struck a new note here, and the people were quick to recognize it. They saw that here was a Teacher who spoke on His own authority....“At once the people see that Jesus stands apart from the old group. He made a sensation in the best sense of that word. There was a buzz of excitement at the new teacher that was increased by the miracle that followed the sermon.”

James Edwards on AUTHORITY - Mark opens Jesus' public ministry in Mk 1:21-28 by establishing his supremacy over the highest authorities in both the temporal and supernatural realms. The temporal realm is represented by the scribes, whose erudition, no less than their prestige among the people, was legendary. The scribes stand in the TRADITION of the fathers (Mk 7:8-13), however, whereas Jesus receives his authority directly from the Father (Mk 1:11). The scribes derive their authority from Torah, but Jesus appeals to a superior authority resident in himself. What is thus essential for not so much what Jesus taught as who Jesus is as a teacher. (From The Authority of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark," JETS 37:2 - 1994

Alfred Edersheim - It is not necessary to suppose that, what held His hearers spell-bound, had necessarily also its effect on their hearts and lives. Men may be enraptured by the ideal without trying to make it the real. Too often it is even in inverse proportion; so that those who lead not the most moral lives even dare to denounce the New Testament standpoint, as below their own conceptions of right and duty. But there is that in man, evidence of his origin and destiny, which always and involuntarily responds to the presentation of the higher. And in this instance it was not only what He taught, but the contrast with that to which they had been accustomed on the part of the Scribes,' which filled them with amazement. There was no appeal to human authority, other than that of the conscience; no subtle logical distinctions, legal niceties, nor clever sayings. Clear, limpid, and crystalline, flowed His words from out the spring of the Divine Life that was in Him. (A Sabbath in Capernaum)

So one effect of Jesus' teaching was the clear demonstration of His ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY

Authority (1849)(exousia from éxesti = it is permitted, it is lawful) means the power to do something and was a technical term used in the law courts, of a legal right. "Authority or right is the dominant meaning (of exousia) in the New Testament." (Vincent) Exousía refers to delegated authority and combines the idea of the "right and the might", these attributes having been granted to someone.  Exousia is an important term in the Gospels. Many conflicts in Jesus' life and ministry turn on debates about authority or the idea that Jesus taught with an unparalleled authority (Mt 7:29; 8:9; 9:6, 8; 21:23-27; 28:18; Mk 1:22, 27; 2:10; 3:15; 11:28-33; Lk 4:32, 36; 5:24; 7:8; 20:2-8).

Scribes (1122)(grammateus from grapho = to write) described those Jewish men who were skilled in the Mosaic law and the Jewish traditions (which is why Herod gathered them in Mt 2.4). But Jesus is very hard on these men who were misleading the nation and gave a long rebuke including 8 WOES primarily to the Scribes and Pharisees (Mt 23:1-39, 13, 14, 15, 16, etc). Most sources consider the lawyers (nomikos - meaning one skilled in the Mosaic law) to be scribes specialized in the jurisprudence of the Law of Moses. Finally the scribes in Lk 5:17+ (nomdidaskalos) were teachers of the Jewish law who were equal to the lawyers and scribes.

MacArthur notes that "Not all Pharisees were scribes, but the scribes were primarily Pharisees, who were interpreters and teachers of the law of Moses and the traditional rabbinic writings. Their teaching provided the theological framework for the Pharisees’ legalistic system of works-righteousness. The scribes were the dominant force in Judaism, not only theologically, but socially. Their views affected every aspect of life, and they also handled all legal matters, including property, estates, and contracts. They were revered, and given the respectful title of Rabbi ("an honorary title for outstanding teachers of the law" - Mt. 23:7). That title was sometimes given to Jesus because He was a teacher (cf. John 1:38, 49; 3:2, 26; 6:25). It was commonly believed that Moses received the law, then gave it to Joshua, who gave it to the elders, who gave it to the prophets, who gave it to the scribes. (Luke Commentary on Lk 20:46+)

David Guzik - The scribes of Jesus’ day rarely taught boldly. They would often simply quote a variety of Rabbis as interpreters. Jesus taught with boldness (ED: FRUIT OF FILLED WITH SPIRIT - cf Lk 4:1+).

i. Jesus taught with authority because He had authority. He brought a divine message and was confident that it was from God. He wasn’t quoting from man, but from God.

ii. Jesus taught with authority because He knew what He was talking about. You can’t teach with authority if you aren’t familiar with your material.

iii. Jesus taught with authority because He believed what He taught. When you believe what you teach, it comes through to your audience with authority.

iv. We first saw the submitted Jesus – submitted to His Father in baptism, submitted to the Holy Spirit in going out to the wilderness. Now we see the authority of Jesus. Authority flows from submission. We aren’t safe with real authority from God unless we are also submitted to God.

  • Jesus showed authority when He was with the wild beasts.
  • Jesus showed authority when the angels served Him.
  • Jesus showed authority announcing the presence of the kingdom of God and commanding men to repent and believe.
  • Jesus showed authority calling disciples after Himself.
  • Jesus will show many more striking displays of authority. (Enduring Word Bible Commentary – Mark)

Related Resources:

Mark 1:23  Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,

Wuest - And immediately, there was in their synagogue a man with a spirit, an unclean one. And he cried out, saying, What is there in common between us and you? You have come to destroy us. I know who you are, the Holy One of God.

  • a man in their synagogue: Mk 1:34 Mk 5:2 Mk 7:25 Mk 9:25 Mt 12:43 Lu 4:31-37 
  • With an unclean spirit - Mt 8:16. Mk 1:23, 26, 27. Mk 3:11, 30. Mk 5:2, 8, 13. Mk 6:7. Mk 7:25. Mk 9:17, 20, 25, 25.
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Ruins of Synagogue at Capernaum


Just then (euthus - Suddenly, Immediately) - See above for discussion on this same word used 11x in chapter 1. And recall Luke's words after Jesus had successfully endured the temptations of the devil - "When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time." (Luke 4:13+) So here we see that a demon under the authority of Satan seize the moment ("demonic carpe diem") to disrupt Jesus' teaching in the synagogue. 

Ken Gire quips “Like a warm front hitting a cold front head on, the forces of good and evil collide.”

There was a man in their synagogue (sunagoge) with an unclean spirit - Where else would a demon love to be but in "church"? Note the clear cause/effect -- immediately Jesus began to teach (Mk 1:22) and immediately there is a reaction from an unclean spirit, another name for a demon, a fallen angel, an evil angel under the authority of Satan. There was a demon possessed man in the place where religion was most prominently practiced!  This is not the first or last time for a demon filled "religious person" to be in a pew!

Wuest - The unclean spirit was in the man in the sense that he, an incorporeal being entered the man’s body, took up his residence in it, and controlled the person in whose body he dwelt. The man was in the demon in that he lived within the sphere of the demon’s control. We have here the locative of sphere. Luke speaks of the man as having an unclean demon. (Luke 4:33+). 

Guzik makes an interesting point "In describing the man who was demon possessed, Mark used the same grammar Paul used to describe the Christian’s being “in Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:30). This unclean spirit was the evil lord of this poor man’s life. The similarity in the wording between the Christian having Jesus and this man having a demon demonstrates that He is in us, and we are in Him. We are “Jesus possessed” in the right sense, because His filling and influence is only for good (ED: NOTE WE STILL MUST DAILY SEEK TO BE FILLED WITH/CONTROLLED BY THE SPIRIT, THE SPIRIT OF JESUS - Eph 5:18+). Even as Jesus can live in us, so one uninhabited by Jesus can be inhabited by a demon if the invitation is extended, either consciously or unconsciously. Exposure to things such as spiritism, astrology, occult practices and drugs are dangerous. They open doors to the demonic world that are better left closed. (Enduring Word Bible Commentary – Mark)

Unclean (169)(akathartos from a = without + kathaíro = cleanse from katharos = clean, pure, free from the adhesion of anything that soils, adulterates, corrupts, in an ethical sense, free from corrupt desire, sin, and guilt) in a moral sense refers to that which is unclean in thought, word, and deed. It can describe a state of moral impurity, especially especially sexual sin (cf Rev 17:4+) and the word foul is an excellent rendering. The idea is that which is morally indecent or filthy. It is not notable that every use of akathartos in the Gospels (19x out of 30 total NT uses) is applied to filthy demonic spirits!  The related term akatharsia refers to filth or refuse! Does this give us a good sense of the "character" of the demonic spirits! 

THOUGHT - You can come to church clean on the outside but filthy (unconfessed, unrepented) on the inside. Just as Jesus saw the demon possessed man, He sees the morally depraved man (or woman)! Do not be deceived! (In fact take a moment and read the piercing Pauline passages in Ephesians 5:3-8+). The mans with unclean spirit may have been in the synagogue but he was still filthy and rotten to the core. As Kent Hughes says "Typically, those under the sway of demons descend to filthy living, both physically and morally. It is not at all incidental that the rise of occultism and Satanism in recent years has been accompanied by increasing drug abuse, pornography, and obscenity." (Preaching the Word – Luke) One does not have to be demon possessed to be in church dressed in your Sunday best, all the while hiding your moral worst! How many pastors have preached with filthy hearts! The number of pastors falling into immorality is just the tip of the "morally depraved iceberg" for the sheep are usually not following behind the shepherd! (See Tim Challies For the Pastor Knee-Deep in Immorality)


And he cried out - The demon controls the man's vocal cords and shrieks out in panic and fear. Why did he all of a sudden shriek? What is the context? Jesus is teaching! The Word of God from the lips of Jesus acted like a sword that pierced the demon (Heb 4:12-13+, Eph 6:17+). While we know the Word of Truth pierces human hearts, it also "pierces" unclean spirits (how that occurs in the invisible world I do not know). Jesus, the Living Word (Jn 1:1+, Jn 1:14+) was speaking the supernatural living and energetic Word (Heb 4:12+) and it produced a direct confrontation with the unclean spirit, for the demons are "like father like son" so to speak! John 8:44 (OBSERVE THE STRIKING CONTRAST IN THIS PASSAGE) explains that "the devil...was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." And the one thing a liar (whether human or demonic) cannot stand is the Truth of God. So the demon shrieked when he heard the Word of God from the God of the Word

As Edwards says "Indeed, as supernatural powers themselves the demons recognize the mission and authority of Jesus before humanity does (Mk 1:24; 3:11; 5:7). Nevertheless the encounter is a no-contest event." (The Authority of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark," JETS 37:2 - 1994

Wuest on cried out - The demon cried out, using the man’s vocal organs. It was a deep, throaty, terrible cry. It had in it the fear of impending doom. It was from a member of one race of beings, speaking through and by means of a member of the human race.

The piercing effect of the Word of Truth reminds me of the spiritual weapons available to Paul (and to us) "in the word of truth (cf Ps 119:43, Col 1:5, 2 Ti 2:15, Jas 1:18, Jn 17:17), in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left." (2 Cor 6:7)

So we see the effect of Jesus' teaching was clear demonstration that He had absolute authority over "the rulers...the powers...the world forces of this darkness...the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Eph 6:12+) Earlier in Mark 1:12-13+ Jesus demonstrated His authority over Satan (the ruler of the demons) an encounter which is more fully described Luke 4:1-12+ (cf Mt 4:1-11), where He defeated the Adversary as a Man empowered by the Spirit of God and armed with with Word of God. Beloved, don't miss this -- Jesus demonstrated His authority over the Satan and over this unclean spirit as Man Who was filled with the Spirit and filled with the Word. What am I saying? I am NOT saying go out and try to find demon possessed men to confront, but simply realize that you are being bombarded by invisible demonic forces all day long and you have access to the same Spirit of Truth (Jn 14:17, 15:25, 16:13) and the same Word of Truth to wage a victorious war in Christ! To paraphrase a commonly heard ad slogan "Don't leave home without them (Spirit filling, Word filling)!"

THOUGHT - Don't miss the irony! Who knows how long this demon possessed man had been sitting in the synagogue, listening to the droning on of the rabbis, all the while remaining calm and completely undisturbed by what he heard. Why was he not disturbed? Because the rabbis were not preaching the Word of God! But when Jesus preached the Word, the demon reacted immediately, screaming out through the man’s vocal cords! Of course, the unclean spirit also recognized Jesus' authority to send him to eternal punishment and that truth clearly contributed to his screeching! Here's the point - it is very difficult for unbelievers (not possessed by evil spirits, but their own selfish, self-centered evil flesh) to sit week after week under a Spirit anointed preacher, powerfully proclaiming the Word of Truth! Little wonder, that in one of his final exhortations to Timothy, Paul commanded him to "Preach the Word!" (2 Ti 4:1-2+). Dear pastor, do you make unbelievers and demons uncomfortable? If not, you have a problem now and in the future when you have to give an account to Jesus and find that your entire life's work may be burned up (see 1 Cor 4:1-2, 1 Cor 3:10-15)!

John MacArthur comments on the unclean spirit cried out - They don’t attack Jesus. Jesus attacks them just by showing up, they panic. They are terrified. They blow their cover. They can’t restrain their fear because while to us they are invisible, they know to Him they are not invisible. And when in His presence, they are fully aware that He recognizes them, and they must scream because of the terror that grips their wicked souls....What terrified the demon? What terrified the demon was the truth. He knew that with the arrival of Jesus was the arrival of the truth. The demons knew that they had developed an untrue, false system of religion that was highly successful in Israel. And it held people captive unto their damnation. They are disguised as angels of light (ED: AND "DISGUISE THEMSELVES AS SERVANT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS" - 2 Cor 11:14-15). They hide in the middle of false religion. Satan is, before all other things, a liar and a murderer (Jn 8:44). He wants to catch everybody in deception and then kill their eternal souls. Truth is therefore deadly to the demonic operation - deadly. This is where the initial conflict comes.....the first thing that makes demons scream, the first attack on them comes from the authority of Christ as exhibited in His Word. The truth crushes Satan’s lies. The truth destroys his fortresses, his ideological fortresses (cf 2 Co 10:3-5+)...the demons are also terrified by the Son of God, not only because of the authority of His Word, but the authority of His judgment,. (Cosmic Authority

NOTE: Demonic forces are very much at work in our world today, although sometimes they are given more credit than they deserve. The world and the flesh are usually quite capable of dragging us into sin without demonic influence. Believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and thus cannot be possessed by demons, but believers can come under demonic attack (Eph. 6:10-20) and opposition (2 Cor. 2:11; 1 Thess. 2:18). Evil spirits are sometimes behind false doctrine, and thus we must be discerning (1 Tim. 4:1; 1 John 4:1). (Steven Cole)

James alludes to the demonic reaction to God writing "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder (present tense)." (James 2:19+

The verb shudder is the Greek verb phrisso has the primary meaning of to be rough or to bristle up and then evolves to mean (as in this context) to shiver, shudder, or tremble. The picture is vivid for it is that of one's hair standing up on end! Clearly the implication is that the shivering or quaking is the result of the fear the unholy unclean spirits in the face of the triune holy God. The present tense indicates that their bristling at the true knowledge of God is the continual fearful response of the unclean spirits.

In short demons dread the divine! Why? Because they know their final fate is the Lake of fire which was prepared for "the devil and his angels" (Mt 25:41). John describes the final fate of the devil and his fallen angelic horde writing that "the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented (cf "torment" in Lk 8:28+ - basanizo both passages) day and night (INTERESTING PHRASE TO DESCRIBE ETERNITY - SUGGESTS THERE MAY BE SOME FORM OF KEEPING OF TIME) forever and ever (see eternal punishment)." (Rev 20:10+) That is another reason the unclean spirit shrieked

Cried out  (349)(anakrazo from aná = intensifies force of krazo = to cry, croak or shriek like a raven) means to cry out from the depth of the throat, exclaim with deeply felt screams as from someone suffering or someone traumatized. It could refer to a scream or shout with strong emotion producing a loud cry (like a shriek) in this case from a demon possessed person (the demon controlling and crying out through the possessed man's vocal cords).

Anakrazo is used only 5x in the NT. Here in Mark 1:23 and in Luke's parallel description it describes the reaction of unclean spirits when confronted by the teaching of Jesus (Lk 4:33+). It is uses in Jesus' confrontation with the Gadarene demoniac who upon "Seeing Jesus, he cried out (anakrazo) and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.” (Lk 8:28+). Anakrazo is used once to describe the fearful cry of the disciples who saw Jesus "walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out (anakrazo)." (Mk 6:49+). The last use is the saddest as it is at the judgment of Jesus by Pilate where the Jews "cried out (anakrazo) all together, saying, “Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!”" (Lk 23:18+). 

Related Resources:

Mark 1:24  saying, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are--the Holy One of God!"

Wuest - And immediately, there was in their synagogue a man with a spirit, an unclean one. And he cried out, saying, What is there in common between us and you? You have come to destroy us. I know who you are, the Holy One of God.

NET  "Leave us alone, Jesus the Nazarene! Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are– the Holy One of God!"

GNT λέγων, Τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ; ἦλθες ἀπολέσαι ἡμᾶς; οἶδά σε τίς εἶ, ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ.

NLT  "Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-- the Holy One sent from God!"

KJV  Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. (Words in bold only in Textus Receptus)

ESV  "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-- the Holy One of God."

YLT  saying, 'Away! what -- to us and to thee, Jesus the Nazarene? thou didst come to destroy us; I have known thee who thou art -- the Holy One of God.' (Words in bold only in Textus Receptus)

  • Saying. Mk 3:11, 22. Mk 5:7. Ps 50:16. Mt 8:29. Lk 4:41. 8:28. Ac 16:17. 19:15
  • Let us alone - only in the King James - Mk 5:7 Ex 14:12 Mt 8:29 Lu 8:28,37 Jas 2:19 
  • what.  Jdg 11:12,  2 Sa 16:10
  • Jesus of Nazareth. Mk 10:47. Mk 14:67. Mt 2:23. Mt 26:71. Lk 4:34. Lk 18:37. Lk 24:19. Jn 18:5, 7. Jn 19:19. Ac 2:22.
  • destroy. Mt 2:13. Da 9:24. Mt 8:29. 1 Jn 3:8. 
  • the Holy One: Ps 16:10 Ps 89:18,19 Da 9:24 Lu 4:34 Jn 6:69 Ac 2:27 Acts 3:14 Acts 4:27, 30 Heb 7:26, 1 Jn 2:20, Rev 3:7
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Imagine what the Jews in that synagogue must have thought when they heard this testimony! 

Saying, "What business do we have with each other - NET = "Leave us alone." NLT is interesting paraphrase = "Why are you interfering with us?" Literally it reads "What to us and to you?" This is a Greek is an idiom which means something like "We have nothing to do with one another" or "Why bother us!" The words here used are the words of the unclean spirit by whom the man was possessed, rather than the man himself. This fact shows us how entirely all the faculties and powers of the possessed man were controlled and employed by the evil spirit who possessed him.

NET Note on what business do we have with each other - The phrase is Semitic in origin, though it made its way into colloquial Greek. The equivalent Hebrew expression in the OT had two basic meanings: (1) When one person was unjustly bothering another, the injured party could say "What to me and to you?" meaning, "What have I done to you that you should do this to me?" (Jdg 11:12, 2 Chr 35:21, 1 Kgs 17:18). (2) When someone was asked to get involved in a matter he felt was no business of his own, he could say to the one asking him, "What to me and to you?" meaning, "That is your business, how am I involved?" (2 Kgs 3:13, Hos 14:8). Option (1) implies hostility, while option (2) merely implies disengagement. BDAG suggests the following as glosses for this expression: What have I to do with you? What have we in common? Leave me alone! Never mind! Hostility between Jesus and the demons is certainly to be understood in this context, hence the translation: "Leave me alone…." For a very similar expression see Lk 8:28+ and (in a different context) John 2:4+.

Wuest - The Greek is Ti hēmin kai soi (Τι ἡμιν και σοι), literally, “What with reference to us and with reference to you?” Supplying the verb of being here which is often left out in the Greek sentence, we have “What is there with reference to us and with reference to you?” That is, “What do we demons have in common with you, holy One of God?” The demon recognized and acknowledged the deity of the Messiah. Satan did the same when he said, “In view of the fact that you are Son of God by nature, command that these stones become loaves of bread” (Matt. 4:3). The conditional particle ei (εἰ) is used, which speaks of a fulfilled condition. James says, “Even the demons believe and tremble” (James 2:19). The religious leaders of Israel recognized the Messiah as the Son of God and yet in their apostasy, rejected Him (Matt. 21:37–39).

Jesus of Nazareth? - Mk 1:9 mentions Jesus coming "from Nazareth in Galilee" as he went to be baptized by John. In Lk 4:41+ the demons called Jesus "the Son of God." In Lk 8:28+ they called Him "Jesus, Son of the Most High God." By adding Nazareth, the demon was disdaining Jesus because Nazareth was a town looked upon by most Jews with disdain, dislike, contempt, scorn. For example, Nathanael's question to Philip was "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (Jn 1:46+, see Jn 1:45+ for context). 

Related Resource:

Have You come to destroy us? - Note the plural "us" the demon use referring to himself and his associated demons as all the demons know their dreadful doom! (cf Mt 25:41, 46)  The demons know Scripture and they know that in the end they will be destroyed, confined to the Lake of fire forever and ever. Amen! Note that the unclean spirit does not say "to annihilate us" (to cause to cease to exist) because that is not what destroy means. It speaks of that which is ruined forever (of course the demons were ruined the day they rebelled and followed Lucifer - cf Rev 12:3, 4+) and no longer usable for its intended purpose. Originally the angels were created to worship and serve God, but when they fell, they were already in a sense being destroyed because they had lost the purpose for which they were originally created.

John writes "the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy (luo) the works of the devil.(1 Jn 3:8+)

Mt 8:29 the unclean spirits "cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment (basanizo) us before the time?” (So what will Hell be like for the demons? Torment!)

Destroy (622)(apollumi from apo = away from or wholly + olethros = state of utter ruin <> ollumi = to destroy) means to destroy utterly but not to cause one to cease to exist. In short it does not mean “nonexistence!”  There is an ironic play on words as the demon over the abyss is named Apollyon (Rev 9:11+) which means "Destroyer" and is identical to Abaddon (transliterated from Hebrew = Abaddon which means destruction and is used often to describe the abode of he dead and is paired with Sheol - Job 26:6, Pr 15:11, 27:20). Mark's uses of apollumi - Mk. 1:24; Mk. 2:22; Mk. 3:6; Mk. 4:38; Mk. 8:35; Mk. 9:22; Mk. 9:41; Mk. 11:18; Mk. 12:9

I know who You are--the Holy (hagios) One of God!" - Luke 4:34+ has "Jesus of Nazareth." This is a sad statement, for the demons know Who Jesus is but most of Israel does not have spiritual eyes (of faith cf 2 Cor 4:18+, 2 Cor 5:7+) to recognize Him as their long expected Messiah. Note also the striking contrast of Holy Jesus filled with the Holy Spirit confronting an unholy spirit! So here is another reason the unclean spirit reacts so vehemently to Jesus - holiness exposes unholiness. Or stated another way, the unclean spirit was the epitome of utter sinfulness which will always cower in the presence of utter holiness! (cf Jn 3:19, 20+)

THOUGHT - Has your holy life had that effect on the unsaved sinners in your sphere of influence? It should! I have noticed folks change their language when I am around (and it is not because I am so good or so holy, but because of the One IN ME WHO ALONE IS HOLY AND GOOD!) and occasionally even apologize if a curse word accidentally slips out of their mouth. Remember we may be the "only Bible" those around us will ever read! What is the "Gospel" according to __________ (your name here)? In other words, people around us often judge the truthfulness of Christianity by its affect in our lives. If they see Christians as duplicitous, as hypocrites, etc, they may not go any further in their investigation of the Gospel.

Holy One in NT - Mk. 1:24; Lk. 4:34; Jn. 6:69; Acts 2:27; Acts 13:35; 1 Pet. 1:15; 1 Jn. 2:20; Rev. 16:5.

ANOTHER THOUGHT - The Septuagint (Lxx) of Judges 16:17 (the "B manuscript") has the phrase "hagios theou" which translates as "holy one of God." Guess to whom this refers? Samson, who hardly lived a holy life for most of his life! Beloved, we as believers bear a very special name "holy ones" ("hagios" = saints), the same word used to describe Jesus Christ, so this begs the question is my life becoming more like Jesus (aka progressive sanctification; cf Lev 11:44+ where "consecrate" = set yourself apart [enabled by the HOLY Spirit - Lxx = hagiazo], 1 Pe 1:14-16+, Heb 12:14ESV+, 2 Cor 7:1+ and other passages) or am living too often like Samson (who wasted most of his privileged ministry! cf Jdg 16:28-30+)? Woe! Now you can see why I don't like mirrors! Everyday I have to look at my worst spiritual enemy (cf James 1:14-15, 16+)! 

Spurgeon - How often that is still the cry of sinners, “Let us alone. Why do not you hold your own views, and let us alone? “Yes the devils, and those whom they control, still say, “Let us alone.” But it is a part of the gospel to attack that which is not the gospel, and it is as much the duty of the minister of the gospel to denounce error as to proclaim truth. If we do so, the old cry will still be heard, “Let us alone. Let us alone.”

Mark 1:25  And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!"

Wuest - And Jesus rebuked him, the rebuke not resulting in any conviction or confession of sin, saying, Shut your mouth and come out of him at once.

  • rebuked: Mk 1:34 Mk 3:11,12 Mk 9:25 Lu 4:35,41 Ps 50:16 Ac 16:17 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


We could subtitle this section "Discarding a Dirty Demon."

And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" - Jesus has authority to rebuke the powers of darkness, for He is Creator and they are the created! Not only does He rebuke the demon (here and Lk 4:35+, Lk 4:41+), but He also rebukes the fever (Lk 4:39+), but He rebukesJesus issues two sharp commands, both in the aorist imperative. "Muzzle it!" "Shut your mouth!" "Come out" And do this now! Do not delay! Later Mark records Jesus "cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was." (Mk 1:34+) They also fear Jesus, because they know this temporal casting out from the possessed man is just a foretaste of their future eternal fate, for on that future day Jesus will be their Judge (Jn 5:22, 30. 2 Ti 4:1+) and speak with the same authority, commanding the unclean spirits to enter forever into the Lake of Fire!  Notice what we do not see Jesus doing -- he has no dialogue (as if there was a plan B for the demon), no formula, no prayer, no holy water, no crucifix, etc, etc. He simply commands him to come out instantly! See related discussion Can a Christian today perform an exorcism?

MacArthur has an interesting comment - He was not permitting the demons to speak because they knew who He was and He didn’t want demons as His publicity agents because that would just feed the already growing frenzy that He did what He did by the power of Satan (Lk 11:15-20+, Mk 3:22+). Who could deny that if His agents are demons? So whenever they affirmed who He was, He shut them up....He doesn’t want him promoting His true identity.  (Cosmic Authority

See Note below by Daniel Akin on why Jesus did not let demons and often those He miraculously cured to speak.

Rebuked (2008)(epitimao from epi = upon + timao = to honor) means literally to put honor upon and then to mete out due measure and so then to find fault with, to censure severely, to rebuke, to express strong disapproval of, or to denounce (cp the incredible example in Mt 16:22). Wuest adds that epitimao in classical Greek conveyed the primary sense "of severe, strenuous reproach for unworthy deeds or acts. In this sense, the word carries a suggestion of a charge under penalty." Indeed in this passage in Mark epitimao conveys the sense of a command which includes an implied threat. Luke uses this same verb (in the parallel passage) to describe Jesus rebuking demons in Lk 4:35, 41+ and rebuking the fever of Peter's mother-in-law (Lk 4:39+).  

Wuest on rebuked - There are two words used in the New Testament, both meaning “to rebuke,” the one used here, epitimaō, which means “to rebuke another, the rebuke failing to bring the offender to acknowledge his sin,” and elegcho, a rebuke which results in a conviction of sin and sometimes a confession of sin on the offender’s part. The former is used by Mark, for Satan, the fallen angels, and the demons are incorrigible. They refuse to be convicted of their sin, and they will not acknowledge it nor repent. This is just another illustration of the meticulous accuracy of the Bible writers in the choice of words as guided by the Holy Spirit.

The words, “Hold thy peace” in KJV are not an adequate rendering. Jesus' command is much more vigorous than that. Martin Luther translates it with the German equivalent of our “Shut up!”

A T Robertson - The people were accustomed to the use of magical formulae by the Jewish exorcists (Matthew 12:27; Acts 19:13), but here was something utterly different.

Be quiet (5392)(phimoo from phimos = a muzzle) means to literally (1 Ti 5:18; 1 Cor 9:9) to tie shut (put a muzzle on), as done to an animal to prevent its snatching up grain while treading on a threshing floor. Figurative to put to silence, "stop the mouth" in order to silence, make speechless (Mt 22:34). The idea figuratively is of reducing an adversary to silence as it were,by taking the very accusation out of his mouth (1 Pe 2:15 = "by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men"). Phimoo is used to describe Christ Christ commanding an unclean spirit not to speak (Mk 1:25; Lk 4:35),  of commanding the raging sea ("Hush, be still [phimoo]! Mk 4:39+). Of Jesus "muzzling" the Sadducees ("the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees" Mt 22:34).  Phimoo used 7x in the NT - Matt. 22:12; Matt. 22:34; Mk. 1:25; Mk. 4:39; Lk. 4:35; 1 Tim. 5:18; 1 Pet. 2:15. Phimoo is used once in the Septuagint (Lxx) - “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing." (Dt 25:4)

Come out is another aorist imperative command to do this immediately! Do not delay. He added no "hocus pocus or incantations!" The demon immediately obeyed the One Who had authority to make such a bold command and came out of him in (Mk 1:26) Imagine the reaction of the onlookers!

NET Note - The command Come out of him! is an example of Jesus’ authority (see note on Lk 4:32). Unlike other exorcists, Jesus did not use magical incantations nor did he invoke anyone else’s name. The departure of the evil spirit from the man without hurting him shows Jesus’ total deliverance and protection of this individual. (Ed: And the same Jesus is our Protector!)

Spurgeon - He did not want any testimony from the devil. When a man of ill character once praised Plato, the philosopher said, “What can I have done wrong that such a fellow as that speaks well of me?” So when the devil bore testimony to the divinity of Christ, “Jesus rebuked him

Mark 1:26  Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him.

Wuest - And when the unclean spirit had torn him with convulsions, he screeched and came out of him.

  • Throwing him into convulsions: Mk 9:20,26 Lu 9:39,42 11:22 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Jesus is Lord over all the forces of darkness, past, present and future! The miracle of casting out a demon in Mark 1:23-26 and in Lk 4:33-35+ is the first of Christ's miracles which these two Gospels record. 

Throwing him into convulsions the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice - Throwing him into convulsions "was no doubt vindictiveness on the demon’s part in protest at being ordered to come out of the man." (Wuest) He first attempts to damage his "host" as he shrieked loudly. Imagine the overwhelmed, terrified synagogue onlookers! Loud (megas) voice (phone) gives us our English word "megaphone," which should give us a sense of just how loud he shrieked! He knew he had to give up his prized "possession" (pun intended)! The demon did not debate or argue with Jesus, but simply obeyed! 

Throwing into convulsions (4682)(sparasso like our word "spasm") means literally to tear, lacerate or pull apart, to pull to and fro. All 3 NT uses describe one effect of being possessed by a demon who is able to throw the possessed person into an epileptic-like fit, to cause their body to convulse, to shake uncontrollably. There are 3 NT uses - Mk. 1:26.

Mk. 9:26+ = "After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it (unclean spirit) came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!”";

Lk. 9:39+ = And a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly screams, and it throws him into a convulsion with foaming at the mouth; and only with difficulty does it leave him, mauling him as it leaves.

Three uses in the Septuagint - 2 Sa 22:8 = "Then the earth shook and quaked, The foundations of heaven were trembling And were shaken [sparasso], because He was angry.";  Jer 4:19 = "my heart is pounding (sparasso)", Da 8:7. 

Liddell-Scott - to tear, rend in pieces, mangle (AS BY VIOLENT ANIMALS), Lat. lacerare, Eur., Ar.:-Med.,to tear one's hair, Eur. 2. to rend asunder, Aesch. 3. metaphorically, to pull to pieces, attack 4. Medical., provoke sickness, Gal.11.57;—Pass.,  retch without being able to vomit (RETCH IN SPASMS),  b. convulse, of an evil spirit. 

Unclean (169) see note above on akathartos

And came out of him - Jesus had commanded and the unclean spirit had no recourse. The onlookers realized immediately that the winner of this spiritual battle was Jesus. Jesus is the Light of the Word and is always victorious over the darkness. This should be encouraging truth to all of us. While only a proverb, it was clearly true in this case that "The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the LORD." (Pr 21:31).

If you have ever had seizures or seen someone with seizures, you know they are are great risk of harm in a variety of ways. So the questions is was this man harmed by the convulsions? Mark is moving so fast, he does not tell us but leave it to the doctor to address this man's health. Doctor Luke writes that "when the demon had thrown him down in the midst of the people, he came out of him without doing him any harm (blapto)." (Lk 4:35+)  

Spurgeon - For, if Satan must come out of a man, he will do him as much mischief as ever he can before he departs. His wrath is all the greater because his time is so short. (Rev 12:12+ - this casting down [in my opinion] will not occur until the midpoint of the Tribulation - but in any event his time is short relative to his time in eternal torment!)

Ray Ortlund - Power Encounters (in his comments on Lk 4:31-37) - 

It has long struck me as odd that a demon-possessed man was right there in the synagogue.  It’s surprising, because a synagogue was where the Bible was studied.  It was a place of devotion to God.  It was where Jesus wanted to go.  What on earth was a demon-possessed man doing there, of all places?  Moreover, the people weren’t alarmed by his presence.  (ED: I THINK THEY WERE NOT EVEN AWARE OF HIS PRESENT - HE WAS "IN COGNITO!") What amazed them was the teaching of Jesus.

I suppose they had gotten used to this poor man.  Their reading of the Bible was so covered over with layers of tradition, the power was suppressed.  Their thinking had become unclear, their alertness dulled.  Over time, they probably made allowances for this man and his weirdness.  They had to.  They had no power to help him.

But the presence and teaching of Jesus aroused the intensity of this man’s true condition.  He flew into a rage.  It became a dramatic power encounter.  The visit of Jesus to that synagogue made the crisis inevitable, and the power of Jesus made the outcome beautifully redemptive: “. . . having done him no harm.”

Three take-aways for church leaders:

One, let’s guard the spiritual integrity of our membership.  Unregenerate church members will import not just their problems but actual opposition to Jesus.  There is a difference.

Two, let’s call sin sin.  We need wisdom here, so that we don’t inadvertently create an environment of ungracious accusation.  But it is spiritually costly to build allowances around blatant sin among our members.  Unresisted sin will resist the presence of Jesus.  It will even presume to define the character of the church.  The demoniac did not say to Jesus, “What have you to do with me?”  He shouted, “What have you to do with us?”

Three, the remedy for spiritual mixture is the undiluted authority of the teaching of Jesus.  He did not lean on previous rabbis for validation but declared his own authority as “the Holy One of God.”  For us, that translates into reverent preaching and hearing of the biblical gospel with complete openness to whatever challenges it brings and changes it demands.  We do not need Calvin, Edwards and Spurgeon for validation.  Illustration, yes.  Validation, no.  They bring no power.  The Bible, with the Holy Spirit, brings all the power we need.  Let it speak.  And let nothing get in the way.  Jesus is among us

Mark 1:27  They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him."

Wuest - And they were all amazed, so that they kept on inquiring and demanding of one another, saying, What is this? Fresh teaching backed by authority. And the unclean spirits He commands, and they obey Him.

  • They were all amazed: Mk 1:22, Mk 4:41, Mk 7:37 Mt 8:27, Mt 9:33 Mt 12:22,23 15:31, Lk 8:35
  • A new teaching with authority: Lu 4:36 9:1 10:17-20 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


They were all amazed,  so that they debated among themselves,  saying, "What is this? - Their amazement was mingled with fright and terror. Debated is more like a joint discussion inquiring of each other and the present tense of debated emphasizes durative action. Mark is describing an animated, prolonged discussion. Wouldn't you have like to be a fly on the wall in the synagogue that day!  As stated earlier, it was good that they were amazed but would have been better if they had been saved. Note that "amazed" is an emotional reaction, like when we go to football game and are amazed at the one handed catch that won the game with one second left on the clock! The problem with amazement is it is like most emotions in that it begins to fade and we are no longer amazed.  

Amazed (2284)(thambeo from =  thambos = amazement, wonder) is only in the passive voice in the 3 NT uses (Mk 1:27, Mk 10:24, Mk 10:32) and means to be startled, to be astonished, to marvel at, to be astounded or even to be shocked. To be terror struck (1 Sa 14:15). Thambeo is used 5x in the Septuagint - Jdg. 9:4; 1 Sa 14:15; 2 Sa 22:5 (= "overwhelmed" = terrified); 2 Ki 7:15; Da 8:17. 

Debated (discussed)(4802)(suzeteo from sun = together + zeteo = to seek, inquire) means to carry on a discussion, to inquire together and evolved to a negative meaning such as dispute or argue as in this case Mk 1:27. It was used of Pharisees arguing with Jesus (Mk 8:11), of Scribes arguing with Jesus' disciples (Mk 9:14), of Jews arguing with Stephen (Acts 6:9), of Paul (Saul at the time) arguing with the Hellenistic Jews (Acts 9:29).

A new teaching (see didache) with authority (see exousia) - The word new (kainos) normally means "brand new" never seen before (as in New Covenant - Lk 22:20+, 2 Cor 3:6+; new creatures in Christ - 2 Cor 5:17+). Expositors says, “A style of teaching new as to authoritativeness (entirely different from the familiar type of the scribes). His teaching was fresh, and was given with authority.”

Note some writers think that NEW here means that this response by the crowd was meant to convey a negative connotation. Trench says “kainos may express only the novel and strange, as contrasted, and that unfavorably, with the known and the familiar” (Trench's Synonyms). I do not agree with that interpretation based on Luke's parallel passage "And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, “What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out." (Luke 4:36+) Luke does not use "new" but "power" to the description of Jesus' message. It would seem inconceivable that the Jewish hearers meant "new" to mean "novel and strange!" No it was a Word that came with "power and authority" and they heard it that way, even though they did not fully comprehend all Jesus was teaching. 

New (2537)(kainos) is an adjective which refers to that which is new kind (unprecedented, novel, uncommon, unheard of). It relates to being not previously present. In a sense their description of Jesus' teaching as new was on target, for the teaching they had been receiving from the scribes was (at best) old (even the writer of Hebrews calls it "obsolete" Heb 8:13+) and at worst false (e.g., teaching that one could attain righteousness before a holy God by their works and by keeping the Law). No, Jesus' teaching was "new" like a "new (kainos) garment" which cannot be attached to an "old garment" lest he "tear the new (kainos)" (NEW COVENANT TRUTHS) and the "new (kainos) will not match the old," (OLD MOSAIC CEREMONIAL LAWS) as Jesus taught in his parable in Lk 5:36+

Wuest comments that "There are two words for “new,” neos, referring to that which is new as to the matter of time, namely, that which has just come into existence, and kainos, which contemplates the new, not under the aspect of time, but of quality, the new as set over against that which has seen service, the outworn, the effete or marred through age. Compared to the stilted, staid, dry as dust rabbinical droning, this teaching of Jesus (in Mk 1:27) was like the fragrance of a field of clover in the springtime. It was fresh with the dew of heaven upon it.- (Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)

As Spurgeon says "It was the authority of his preaching which first astonished them; and then the authority with which he wrought his miracle, and subdued the world of demons. Blessed be God. Christ has not abdicated his authority. He is still the great Messenger of God, full of divine authority to save men, and to deliver them from the power of Satan."

He commands even the unclean (see akathartos) spirits, and they obey Him - Here was the final proof of Jesus' authority for the unclean spirit had come out in their very midst. Can you imagine the man who is now no longer possessed by a demon. He surely must have been a walking "advertisement" in Capernaum of the power and authority of this Man named Jesus! 

THOUGHT - YOUR CHANGED/TRANSFORMED LIFE is one of the most irrefutable evidences of the transformative power of the Gospel. This begs a simple question -- are you letting your light shine so others can see the transformation that God's Spirit and God's Word has wrought in you? (Mt 5:16+)

Commands (orders)(2004)(epitasso from epí = upon, over + tasso = arrange, appoint or place appropriately) is "a military term; the noun form used in the military sense of an “orderly array.” The single verb tassō was used in classical Greek, “to draw up in order of battle, array, marshal.” Our Lord has the hosts of Satan under His absolute power at all times. Unwilling and incorrigible as they are, He can command them at will, and they obey Him. Satan always operates on a limited tether. To the synagogue crowd, the most astonishing thing was that the demons obeyed Him." (Wuest)

Obey (present tense = demons continually obey Jesus!)(5219)(hupakouo from hupó = under + akoúo = hearing and apprehension ) literally means "under the hearing" or listening with attentiveness and then responding to what is heard -- to obey what is heard. The sense is that one understands and responds accordingly. The demon understood and responded to Jesus' authoritative command. 

Related Resource:

  • James Edwards - The Authority of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark," J of Evang Theo Soc 37:2 - 1994
    EXCERPT - In Mark and Matthew exousia is reserved specifically for Jesus or the apostles.17 The term is found nine times in Mark—six with reference to Jesus (Mk 1:22, 27; 2:10; 11:28, 29, 33), twice of the apostles (Mk 3:15, 6:7), and once in the simile of the man who "gave authority over his house to his servants" (Mk 13:34), which doubtless is an allusion to the disciples of Jesus. In the three instances where Jesus is not the subject, exousia connotes the conferring of his authority on the disciples. Thus every occurrence of exousia in Mark reflects either directly or indirectly the authority of Jesus.

Impressed With Jesus

Read: Mark 1:14-28

They were all amazed. —Mark 1:27

No matter where Jesus went during His ministry in the region of the Sea of Galilee, He caused a stir. But most important, He led people to action. Those who observed Him firsthand were moved to do something.

Notice how the people responded:

  • Obedience. The fishermen followed Jesus (Mk. 1:18).
  • Amazement. The people marveled at His power over demons (Mk 1:27).
  • Service. Peter’s mother-in-law served the Lord (Mk 1:31).
  • Proclamation. Those who saw Jesus in action told others what He had done (Mk 1:45).

We have heard about Jesus so often that we sometimes fail to sense the excitement that the Galilean folks showed. They were genuinely touched by Jesus’ presence, so much so that no matter where He went, there was a crowd.

Jesus has done some remarkable things in our lives. He has transformed us from death to life. He has given us the Holy Spirit. He is at God’s right hand praying for us. He is getting our eternal home ready.

We can respond to Jesus by taking a cue from the people He visited in person. Obey Him. Be amazed by Him. Serve Him. Proclaim His name. Remember, there are still other people who need to be impressed with Jesus. By Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Praise the Savior, ye who know Him!
Who can tell how much we owe Him?
Gladly let us render to Him
All we are and have.

When you think of all that Christ has done for you, you'll want to do your best for Him.

Mark 1:28  Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.

Wuest - And there went out the report concerning Him immediately throughout the whole region of Galilee.

NET  So the news about him spread quickly throughout all the region around Galilee.

GNT   καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἡ ἀκοὴ αὐτοῦ εὐθὺς πανταχοῦ εἰς ὅλην τὴν περίχωρον τῆς Γαλιλαίας.

KJV And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.

ESV  And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

ASV   And the report of him went out straightway everywhere into all the region of Galilee round about.

NIV  News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

NJB  And his reputation at once spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.

  • Mk 1:45 Mic 5:4 Mt 4:24 9:31 Lu 4:17,37  
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Immediately (euthus) - Spurgeon says "as soon as Jesus had healed the man with an unclean spirit, his fame spread like wildfire. The miracle was reported from mouth to mouth till everybody in that region knew of it. It was said that the words and writings of Martin Luther were carried as by the wings of angels, so speedily was everything that he said and wrote made known far and wide. On this occasion, it was so with our Lord’s wondrous deed of mercy and power: “Immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.”

The news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee - "And that was just the start. Go down to verse 39, “He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.” He put on a power display that was shocking. Tragedy was, again, people were always amazed and went to the same hell the terrified demons will occupy forever.The demons knew who He was and couldn’t be saved. The people didn’t believe He was who He claimed to be and wouldn’t be saved. What is necessary is a combination of both. You need to be amazed and terrified. Amazed at such a Savior and terrified at such a judge." (MacArthur - Cosmic Authority)

ILLUSTRATION - One night a church caught on fire and was burning to the ground. As the Pastor watched it burn, he noticed a man standing in the crowd watching the church burn. The Pastor recognized the man, because he had invited him to church many times with no success. The Pastor went to him and said, “I’ve invited you to come to this church many times, but you never came. Why are you here tonight?” The man replied, “Well, I’ve never seen this church on fire before!” There is a lot of truth in that illustration!

Mark 1:29  And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

  • they came into the house of Simon and Andrew: Mt 8:14,15 Lu 4:38,39 Lk 9:58
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

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Ruins of Home in Capernaum
Purported to be Peter's Home


Synoptic parallel passages:

Matthew 8:14; 15+  When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him.

Luke 4:38; 39+  Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her. 39 And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and waited on them. 

At the very outset of Jesus' ministry as described by Mark (beginning in Mark 1:21-28), Mark establishes that Jesus Christ is the authority first as Teacher and then over the supernatural world healing a demon possessed man, the first miracle recorded in Mark (Satan and the demons). Mark will take us through the remainder of this Sabbath day in the life of Jesus and show us that Jesus has authority over disease. 

Daniel Akin sets the stage for this next section (Mark 1:29-34) - Mark presents the events of  Mark 1:21-38 as “one day in the life of Jesus.” He does so with 5 uses of his favorite word: “immediately” (Mk 1:21, 23, 28, 29, 30). With a sense of mission and urgency Jesus is here and He is there ministering to this one and then another. He truly is the Servant of the Lord (Mk 10:45) healing the physically sick and setting free spiritual prisoners held captive by the prince of darkness and his demonic hosts (cf Lk 4:18-19+)! (See Jewish believer Alfred Edersheim's description of A Sabbath in Capernaum). 

And immediately - see preceding discussion on euthus (11x - Mk. 1:10; Mk. 1:12; Mk. 1:18; Mk. 1:20; Mk. 1:21; Mk. 1:23; Mk. 1:28; Mk. 1:29; Mk. 1:30; Mk. 1:42; Mk. 1:43 (Mk 1:3 means "straight"). None of the Gospel writers tell us the length of the synagogue service but if they were similar to modern Judaism the service would have likely lasted most of Saturday morning and ended around noon (3-4 hours total). So it would be early Saturday afternoon. The point is that there are still several hours of daylight until evening which marks the end of the Sabbath.

THOUGHT - What a privilege Peter had to be allowed to host the King of kings and Lord of lords! But beloved, you and I have the same privilege and in fact it is an even greater one, to actually "host" Him in our "house" or "tent" (2 Cor 5:2, 4+)! And He never leaves this "house" (Heb 13:5+) as He did Peter's! John records "Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him." (Jn 14:23, cf Col 1:27b+) I fear we (I) far too often forget this great privilege and fail to treat our (my) bodies as His holy dwelling place! Lord forgive us for being to prone to wander. In Jesus' Name. Amen. 

J D Jones has an interesting comment on immediately - The commentators tell us the word is characteristic of St Mark's eager and vivid literary style. But it is really much more than an indication of St Mark's active and bustling mind; it is a revelation of the ceaseless activity of our Lord's life. This word "straightway" illustrates, shall I say, the "pace" of our Lord's life. He had no slack time; He had no intervals of ease; He had no holidays from service. Our Lord had an abiding sense of the urgency and pressure of life. "I have a baptism to be baptised with," He said once, "and how am I straitened till it be accomplished" (Luke 12:50+). "How am I straitened!"—what a tremendous urgency the phrase implies! And so He gave Himself to service with a devotion that filled all who beheld Him with wonder and awe. Its Example to us. What an example our Lord sets to us! We are slow, and slack, and listless. We sit at ease in Zion. We let opportunity slip, instead of buying it up. Here is the motto for the Christian—"straightway." John Ruskin had on his desk, confronting him whenever he stood by it, the words, "Do it now." The Christian might grave this word "straightway" on the tables of his heart. Now is always the accepted time; now is always the day of salvation. (Mark Commentary)

Spurgeon - “Forthwith,” or, again, “immediately.” Simon and Andrew and James and John were intimately connected, we are told that they were “partners” in their fishing business. James and John, the sons of Zebedee, seem to have been in a good position in life; we read that their father had “hired servants” employed in the boats. So James and John went with Simon and Andrew into their partners’ house when Christ went there after performing that notable miracle in the synagogue. Christ was a house-to-house missionary, as well as an open-air preacher. There is much good to be done by those who know how to visit, and to look after individual cases; there is great good to be done in that way, as well as by dealing with mankind in the bulk.

After they came out of the synagogue - Mark again has Jesus on the move! If you have visited Capernaum, you have probably visited the wonderful ruins of the synagogue and then noticed nearby was a structure called "Peter's House." (Watch a video - the speaker is standing in the ruins of the synagogue) See picture above of the ruins at Capernaum that many think represent Peter's house. 

MacArthur adds that "A typical synagogue service ended around noon. Jesus’ first four disciples, whom He called just a short time earlier (cf. Mk 1:16-20), would have attended the synagogue service with Him and, along with the crowds, been amazed by His preaching (Mk 1:22) and astonished by His authority over the demon who confronted Him (Mk 1:27). As the hubbub subsided, and the people were dismissed, the four former fishermen came with Jesus out of the synagogue, undoubtedly talking excitedly with one another about the spectacular deliverance they had just witnessed."

They came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John - When they first met Jesus along the banks of the Jordan, Andrew and Peter were identified as being from Bethsaida (John 1:44), but had moved to Capernaum. Only Mark adds this personal touch of with James and John, so that all 4 witnessed the miracle that was about to occur.  Luke's version (Lk 4:38+) has entered Simon's home, and here the house of Simon and Andrew. Perhaps the note on the loan for the home was in Peter's name (just kidding). Simon and Andrew were brothers (Mk 1:16+, Lk 6:14+, Mt 4:18, 10:2, Jn 1:40+, Jn 6:8+) so presumably they were co-owners, and this detail is found only in Mark. Notice only 4 disciples are mentioned at this time, four fishermen being trained to be fishers of men! These four always are the first mentioned in any list of the 12 disciples and were more intimate with Jesus than the other eight (see notes on Luke 6:13). The home of Simon and Andrew will function as somewhat of a “base of operations” for Jesus when He is around Capernaum (cf use of "home" or "house" in Mk 2:1; Mk 3:20; Mk 9:33; Mk 10:10, see also Mt 9:1 where Matthew calls Capernaum "His [JESUS'] own city.").

Notice that these four men brought Jesus home with them after church.
Sadly so many today leave Jesus at church.

Lowell Johnson - Do you invite Jesus to be the honored guest in your home? I've known some church members who seem to leave Jesus at church when they go home. Six days a week, they have a different attitude and use a different vocabulary, but on Sunday they dress up and act holy and religious. It says something about the care and character of Peter, having his Mother-in-law living with him. Jesus doesn't just go to church with us, He makes house calls. (ED: Doctors don't do that anymore, but the Great Physician does. Do you need a house call today? He is able!

"The Light of the World,"
William Holman Hunt, 1851-56,
Manchester City Art Gallery.

"In its heyday in the early 20th century, the painting “The Light of the World” (1851-53) was probably more famous than any of the works of the great masters of the Renaissance. As difficult as it is to imagine today, millions of people around the world flocked to see what was known as the “SERMON IN A FRAME.” The allegorical painting that captured the imagination of so many was created by the English artist William Holman Hunt, who began the work at the age of 21 and finished it when he was 29. The painting illustrates the biblical passage in Revelation 3:20+:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.”

Jesus, carrying a lantern, is depicted knocking at a door with no handle on the outside. The door is overgrown with weeds, and the nails and hinges are rusted, implying that the door has never been opened.The message: it is up to the person on the other side of the door to let Jesus in....The painting went on a world tour from 1905 to 1907, visiting the hometowns of millions of people in Canada, South Africa, and beyond. On its tour of Australia, it’s estimated that 4/5 of the population of the country saw it. The industrialist Charles Booth purchased the painting from Hunt and Hughes and donated it to St. Paul’s Cathedral in London where it hangs today. According to St. Paul’s, the painting is “the most traveled art work in history.” (Aleteia)

Robert Munger wrote a famous booklet My Heart Christ's Home (1951) - Here is a brief excerpt "Without question one of the most remarkable Christian doctrines is that Jesus Christ Himself through the presence of the Holy Spirit will actually enter a heart, settle down and be at home there. Christ will make the human heart His abode." (cf John 14:23 "Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.")

THOUGHT - Hunt's famous picture and Munger's classic booklet beg the question dear reader "Have you opened your heart to let Jesus come in that He might abide in you for the rest of eternity?" If not, I pray God opens your heart today to respond to the "knock" of Jesus. Yes, God's Spirit must lead you to repentance and faith, but you are responsibility to make a choice of your will to invite the Creator of the universe into your heart by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9+). Luke records that "A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart (GOD'S PART) to respond (LYDIA'S PART) to the things spoken by Paul." (Acts 16:14+

Mark 1:30  Now Simon's mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her.

  • Simon's mother-in-law: 1Co 9:5 
  • immediately they spoke to Jesus about her: Mk 5:23  Joh 11:3 Jas 5:14,15 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


We could subtitle this verse "Saturday Night Fevers" perhaps "With a Whole Lot of Shaking Going On." (referring to rigors one sees with high fevers).

What day was this? The Sabbath. What could you not do on the Sabbath? Perform a miracle of healing. Foster writes that... 

There are seven miracles of healing on the sabbath recorded, of which Luke reports four: (1) Peter's mother-in-law (Matt. 8:14, 15; Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38, 39); (2) the withered hand (Matt. 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11); (3) the woman bowed down eighteen years (Luke 13:10-17); (4) the dropsied man (Luke 14:1-4); (5) the demoniac at Capernaum (Mark 1:21-28); (6) the paralytic at Bethesda (John 5:2-10); (7) the man born blind (John 9:1-14). These healings were the subject of fierce controversy. In some cases Jesus seems deliberately to have healed a person on the sabbath in order to correct the false teaching of the Pharisees as to the meaning of the law (John 5:10; 9:14). In the home of this Pharisee the issue arises naturally out of the presence of a man with dropsy. (The Life of Christ). 

Now Simon's mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever - Mother-in-law indicates Peter was married and had a wife, a fact affirmed by Paul who wrote "Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas (PETER)?" (1 Cor 9:5). Doctor Luke adds the details that she was suffering (sunecho a technical medical phrase in present tense - continually "being gripped" by or tormented) from a high (megas = great) fever (Luke 4:38+), obviously a body temperature well above the normal 98.6F (fever with malaria can be as high as 107). Matthew 8:14 has lying sick in bed which is the verb ballo in perfect tense indicating she had been "cast" into bed by the fever and was still in that condition, suggesting that the fever had been of some duration. "The nature of the illness is not important. The power of the healer is!" (Akin) Notice that the illness has absolutely no link to demon possession. 

William Barclay - Peter’s mother-in-law was suffering from what the Talmud called ‘a burning fever.’ It was, and still is, very prevalent in that particular part of Galilee. The Talmud actually lays down the methods of dealing with it. A knife made wholly of iron was tied by a braid of hair to a thorn bush. On successive days there was repeated, first, Exodus 3:2, 3; second Exodus 3:4; and finally Exodus 3:5. Then a certain magical formula was pronounced, and thus the cure was supposed to be achieved. Jesus completely disregarded all the paraphernalia of popular magic, and with a gesture and a word of unique authority and power, he healed the woman. (Mark 1 Commentary)

As Spurgeon reminds us "There were at least four of Christ’s followers in the house, yet the mother of the wife of one of them lay sick of a fever. Grace does not prevent suffering in the body; there will still be physical diseases even though in the soul there is spiritual health." As noted below in the word study on fever, this word derives from pur which means fire and would suggest not just a minor elevation above 98.6 F but that her body was "on fire" with elevated temperature. To speculate on the etiology would be futile (although I am tempted with my background as a physician with specialty in infectious diseases!) 

Mother-in-law (3994)(penthera) means a wife's mother, the mother of one's spouse. 5x in NT - Matt. 8:14; Matt. 10:35; Mk. 1:30; Lk. 4:38; Lk. 12:53 12x in Septuagint (Lxx) most often of Ruth's mother-in-law Naomi - Deut. 27:23; Ruth 1:14; Ruth 2:11; Ruth 2:18; Ruth 2:19; Ruth 2:21; Ruth 2:23; Ruth 3:1; Ruth 3:6; Ruth 3:16; Ruth 3:17; Mic. 7:6;

Lying sick (2621)(katakeimai from katá = down + keímai = lie outstretched) means to lie down, lie prostrate, often with the implication of some degree of incapacity (Mk 1:30; cf Mk 2:4; Lk 5:25; Acts 9:33; Acts 28:8). Of a sick person like Peter's mother-in-law who was “down sick.” It was used colloquially of the sick, “down sick.” The papyri give us, “the blows caused me to be laid up with sickness,” and “she is laid up.” Used 12x in NT (Mk. 1:30; Mk. 2:4; Mk. 2:15; Mk. 14:3; Lk. 5:25; Lk. 5:29; Lk. 7:37; Jn. 5:3; Jn. 5:6; Acts 9:33; Acts 28:8; 1 Co. 8:10)

Bob Utley comments on lying sick This is an imperfect tense which shows continuous action in past time. She had been sick for some time. (Wuest adds "The verb is in the imperfect tense, speaking of continuous action or state in past time. She had been sick for some time.)

Fever (4445)(puresso from puretós = fiery heat, fever from púr = fire) means to "be on fire," to be ill of a fever. Only used here and Mt 8:14 = "When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever." Thayer says Greek word for fire, pur, is from Sanskrit word pu = “to purify.” Not found in the Septuagint (Lxx).

Note that puresso is in the present tense which implies this was an ongoing problem. She was "burning up with fever" as we might say today. 

And immediately (euthusthey spoke to Jesus about her - Why the rush? Perhaps they were wondering who is going to cook the evening meal? The fact that they spoke to Jesus indicates they clearly recognized He had the authority and power to heal her. Luke 4:38+ adds they asked (erotao - appealed, begged) Him to help her (NLT paraphrases it "Please heal her," everyone begged") and from the context this makes it clear that they were very concerned about her physical condition. The addition of the verb to help in the NAS translation makes this explicit. What are the disciples doing in essence? They are interceding on behalf of Peter's mother-in-law doing exactly what they should do, speak to the Lord. They give us a good pattern to imitate so that when we are sick or face some crisis, we need to, immediately speak to Jesus. James tells church leaders to pray for the sinful and the sick (James 5:14-18+).

Are you weary, and heavy hearted?
Tell it to Jesus.
Are you grieving over joys departed?
Tell it to Jesus.

“Do you fear the clouds of sorrow?
Tell it to Jesus.
Are you anxious about tomorrow?
Tell it to Jesus.

“Are you troubled at the thought of dying?
Tell it to Jesus.
For Christ’s coming are you sighing?
Tell it to Jesus.”

Spurgeon - Very interesting is this little peek into the house of the Apostolic Fisherman. We see at once that household joys and cares are no hindrance to the full exercise of ministry, nay, that since they furnish an opportunity for personally witnessing the Lord's gracious work upon one's own flesh and blood, they may even instruct the teacher better than any other earthly discipline. Papists may decry marriage, but true Christianity and household life agree well together. Peter's house was probably a poor fisherman's hut (ED: ACTUALLY IT MAY HAVE BEEN SUBSTANTIAL AS THEY HAD A PROFITABLE BUSINESS PRIOR TO BEING CALLED INTO TO FOLLOW JESUS), but the Lord of Glory entered it, lodged in it, and wrought a miracle in it. Should our little book be read this morning in some very humble cottage, let this fact encourage the inmates to seek the company of King Jesus. God is oftener in little huts than in rich palaces. Jesus is looking round your room now, and is waiting to be gracious to you. Into Simon's house sickness had entered, fever in a deadly form had prostrated his mother-in-law, and as soon as Jesus came they told him of the sad affliction, and he hastened to the patient's bed. Have you any sickness in the house this morning? You will find Jesus by far the best physician, go to him at once and tell him all about the matter. Immediately lay the case before him. It concerns one of his people, and therefore will not be trivial to him. Observe, that at once the Saviour restored the sick woman; none can heal as he does. We may not make sure that the Lord will at once remove all disease from those we love, but we may know that believing prayer for the sick is far more likely to be followed by restoration than anything else in the world; and where this avails not, we must meekly bow to his will by whom life and death are determined. The tender heart of Jesus waits to hear our griefs, let us pour them into his patient ear.

Mark 1:31  And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

  • taking her by the hand: Mk 5:41 Ac 9:41 
  • she waited on them: Mk 15:41 Ps 103:1-3 116:12 Mt 27:55 Lu 8:2,3 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


We could subtitle this verse "Jesus Loves Mother-In-Laws." 

And He came to (proserchomai - approached with prefix pros = faced) her and raised her up taking her by the hand, and the fever left her - The Greek order is, “He lifted her up, having taken hold of her hand.” Parallel Passages have slight variation in details - Matthew 8:15 says "He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him." A tender scene! Luke gives the doctor's version of Jesus "standing over her, He rebuked (epitimao = same verb for rebuking the demon Mk 1:25, Lk 4:39, 41; same verb used by Matthew to describe Jesus rebuking "the winds and the sea" in Mt 8:26, 27) the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and waited on them." (Luke 4:39+) Notice Jesus uses no "holy water," no spells, no incantations. There are two aspects to His healing - His touch and His rebuke, and with both the fever left which would indicate that He most likely did both actions simultaneously - a touch and a word from Jesus was all she needed to be restored to full health! It was immediate and she needed no time to recuperate! This was a healing miracle and it shows us Jesus' compassion and His power/authority over natural forces (fever/illness). There is an old popular song entitled "Just One Touch" and that is applicable to Jesus in the past in Capernaum, Jesus exerting His power and authority over our lives in our present day and then forever and ever, for He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Heb 13:8+). It is worth noting that often Jesus' miracles were as much for the disciples as for the recipient, for remember He is training them to be fishers of men.

THOUGHT - If there is a principle here, it is that before you seek to minister to the world, minister first to your mother-in-law.  You see, if your Christianity doesn’t work in your home, then it doesn’t work - don’t export it. (John Stevenson

Notice that Jesus had to minister to her
before she could minister to Him and to others.
That is always true.

THOUGHT - He came. Don’t you love that Christ comes close to us in our time of need? Luke tells us that he came and “stood over her.” He didn’t stay at a distance but came near. Our greatest need when we’re hurting is to experience His presence. I love Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and is attentive to their cry.” He touched. Jesus could have snapped his fingers or just said a word but instead He took her by the hand. Jesus did the same with the blind man in Mark 8:23: “He took the blind man by the hand.” There’s power in touch, isn’t there? It was a big deal for Jesus to touch her because according to the Talmud (a Jewish commentary on the Old Testament), touching anyone with a fever would have rendered one unclean. But with Jesus, the touch did not defile the healer, but healed the defiled! When Jesus touches someone, everything changes! He lifted. I love that Jesus lifted her up. He came down so He could lift her up. She couldn’t get up on her own. Listen to 1 Samuel 2:8: “He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap.” (Brian Bill)

Jesus had just performed a miracle in His Father's House;
now He would perform a miracle in a Friend's House.

David Thompson comments that "Jesus could have healed her any way He wanted. He had just commanded an unclean spirit to leave a man and it did, so He did not have to take her by the hand; but that is what He did. This shows us the tenderness of Christ’s healing touch. This is the actual hand of God touching the hand of a sinful, sick woman. As soon as Christ touched her life, she served them. That is what Christ’s touch on our lives should do; cause us to serve Him." (Sermon)

Raised (1453)(egeiro) is used figuratively here meaning to "raise up" from illness, and restoring to health. Same verb used of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn 12:1,9, 17). The use in James 5:15+ is similar to Mark 1:31 - "the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise (egeiro) him up."

Taking (2902)(krateo) means to take hold of, often forcibly, as when grasping someone. 

Fever (4446)(puretos from pur = fire) means fever, high temperature, feverish or "fiery" heat, burning heat. 6x in NT - Mt 8:15; Mk 1:31; Lk 4:38; Lk 4:39; Jn 4:52; Acts 28:8

Left  (863)(aphiemi from apo = prefix speaks of separation, putting some distance between + hiemi = put in motion, send) conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and means to send from one's self. Aphiemi is the same verb used to forgive sins (send them away like the Scapegoat in the wilderness in Lev 16:10+ [Lxx uses aphiemi] on the day of atonement) as when Jesus forgave sins (e.g., Mt 9:2). One gets a picture of Jesus "sending" the fever away (so to speak)!  This same verb is used 4x in chapter 1 - Mk 1:18, Mk 1:20, Mk 1:31, Mk 1:34 (not permitting). 

THOUGHT - Bell applies this healing - "Peter’s house became a place of healing for the whole city! How important it is for us to “take Jesus home with us” after we have worshiped.  The Lord met the need in the home, then used the home to meet the needs of others

THOUGHT - All our homes at some time or another become homes of grief. But if Jesus is a guest, how richly He pays for His entertainment! For when we tell Him, somehow or other the burden is lifted. Not that the sickness, or whatever be the particular cause of anxiety, is at once removed, but the pain and grief are assuaged, and a blessed peace fills the soul. How can the effect be better expressed than in the words the evangelist uses about Peter's wife's mother—"the fever left her"? That is exactly it! In the midst of our troubles and grief, when we feel the healing, cooling touch of Christ, the fever—the ache, the pain—passes out of our souls. (J D Jones Mark Commentary)


And she waited on them - Jesus had "waited on" her and now she waits on Him! Waited on is in the imperfect tense depicting her doing one thing and another for them (you can see her serving each plate for example). Today believers have been spiritually healed to serve, saved in order to serve! Are you serving Jesus? When you think of all that Christ has done for you, you'll want to do your best for Him. 

Brooks writes "The Mother-in-law is presented simply as a model of discipleship, which requires lowly service from all, male and female. By including accounts of the healing of women as well as men, Mark implies that Jesus was concerned about all people, including those who have a lowly place in society.”

Waited on  (1247) (diakoneo - derivation uncertain - cp diakonis = in the dust laboring or running through the dust or possibly diako = to run on errands; see also study of related noun - diakonia) means to minister by way of rendering service in any form or to take care of by rendering humble service.  It is the word Martha uses when she informs the Lord that Mary has let her down, leaving her to serve alone (Lk 10:40+ = "left me to do all the serving alone." Uses in Mark - Mk. 1:13; Mk. 1:31; Mk. 10:45; Mk. 15:41. "The verb is in the imperfect tense, showing progressive action. She went to serving them. It took some time to prepare the meal." (Wuest)

THOUGHT - The end of Mark 1:31 implies that she served them immediately: “and she began to serve them.” Have you ever recovered quickly after a fever? It generally takes some recuperation time, doesn’t it? Your bones ache, you feel weak and all you want to do is sleep. Especially for us men. Have you heard about the “Man Flu”? It’s an illness that causes the male to be helpless and sicker than any other family member. I’m told that in females it’s called a cold.  But for Peter’s mother-in-law she was completely helpless and sicker than any other family member. And yet, there was no recovery time. She didn’t get better gradually. She was healed and went right into helper mode. Anytime you encounter Jesus the natural response is to serve Him! This word for “serve” is the word we get “deacon” from. It literally means to “wait on tables” and was also used of the angels ministering to Jesus at the end of His terrible temptation in the wilderness in Mark 1:13.

We have been saved to serve,
healed to help and
touched so that we touch others.

Spurgeon - Jesus was very calm; he was not afraid of catching the fever. See how deliberately, and with what solemn, kindly dignity he deals with this sick woman: “He came and took her by the hand.” I think I see him doing it “and lifted her up.” He gently raises her, and she yields to his tender uplifting hand, and suddenly finds herself cooled of the burning fever, and perfectly restored to health and strength; so she rises from her bed, and the first thing she does is to minister unto them. I am sure that, whenever the Lord helps any of his people out of their temporal or spiritual distresses, they feel at once that they must say, “What shall we render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward us?” Her ministering unto them proved that the fever was quite gone, and gone in a way in which it does not ordinarily go; for, as you all know, fever usually leaves behind it extreme weakness. It seems to burn up the strength that is in one; and after it is gone, one is not fit even to wait at table for a long while. But Peter’s wife’s mother immediately when the fever was gone, rose and “ministered unto them.” Christ’s cures are always complete. If he saves us from the burning fever, he saves us from the weakness that follows it, and when he deals with soul maladies, his cures are equally complete, there are no after-affects to the soul as there are in many diseases that afflict the body. When the great Physician restores the soul, he restores it completely.

THOUGHT - H A Ironside - Have you felt a touch of His healing hand? Has His voice rebuked the fever of sin that once raged in your very being? Is it your delight now to serve Him? Are you among those who are glad not only to avail themselves of His delivering power, but are now concerned about giving Him the service of a grateful heart? Are you putting yourself out for the blessing of other people? This is the test of real conversion. You can tell a person who has experienced the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ by the manifestation of a desire to please Him, a desire to do His will, to glorify Him, to make Him known to others, and to bring them into contact with Him. Every time the Lord wrought a work of power like this upon the body of some dear needy soul, the word of it went abroad to encourage others to come to Him. It is the same today. When the Lord Jesus works in great grace, saving one from the life of sin, bringing him to know God and giving him the power to live a new life to His glory, how it appeals to other people! I do not think there is anything that has such a tendency to draw folks to any place where the Word of God is preached as the word going forth that people are being saved, that men and women are being delivered from their sins, that God is working miracles among them. Oh, that we might see more of that here—the saving power of our Lord Jesus thus manifested!(Expository Commentary)

J D Jones - One commentator suggests that the serving on the part of Simon's wife's mother is the proof of the reality and completeness of the healing. If service is the proof evidence of healing, how does it stand with us? Are we serving? If not, is it certain that we have been healed? "We know," says St John, "that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14, R.V.). (Mark Commentary)

Lowell Johnson - She didn't have to tell anyone she was healed. It was obvious by the way she conducted herself. There was no better way this woman could prove her healing than by serving Christ. So it is with our spiritual healing. When the Lord Jesus cleanses our hearts from sin, our service to Him is the best way we can show the world the dynamic difference He has made in our lives. We are saved to serve. Sadly, many Christians don't know how to spell service. They spell it “Serve us.” (The Healing Of  Peter's Mother-In-Law Mark 1: 29-31)

Daniel Akin - Theological question: Is there healing in the atonement? Isaiah 53:5 says “with his stripes we are healed.” Matthew 8:17, in the parallel account of these events, even adds a quote from Isaiah 53:4 saying, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” The answer is Yes! There is healing in the atonement! For some it is immediate but temporary. All still die. For all who trust Jesus as Savior and Lord it is eternal and permanent. We find this wonderful truth made plain in Rev 21:4-5, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Sermon)

Here is John MacArthur's comment on Isaiah 53:4 - Even though the verbs are past tense, they predict happenings future to Isaiah's time, i.e., "prophetic perfects" in Hebrew here and elsewhere in this Servant-song. Isaiah was saying that the Messiah would bear the consequences of the sins of men, namely the griefs and sorrows of life, though incredibly the Jews who watched Him die thought He was being punished by God for His own sins. Matthew found an analogical fulfillment of these words in Jesus' healing ministry (see Mt 8:16, 17), because sickness results from sin for which the Servant paid with His life (Isa 53:7, 8; cf. 1Pe 2:24). In eternity, all sickness will be removed, so ultimately it is included in the benefits of the atonement. (MacArthur Study Bible)

J C Ryle on TELL JESUS - We learn, in the second place, to what remedy a Christian ought to resort first, in time of trouble . He ought to follow the example of the friends of Simon's mother-in-law. We read that when she "lay sick with a fever," they "told Jesus about her."

There is no remedy like this. Means are to be used diligently, without question, in any time of need. Doctors are to be sent for, in sickness. Lawyers are to be consulted when property or character needs defense. The help of friends is to be sought. But still, after all, the first thing to be done, is to cry to the Lord Jesus Christ for help. None can relieve us so effectually as He can. None is so compassionate, and so willing to relieve. When Jacob was in trouble he turned to his God first--"Deliver me, I beg you, from the hand of Esau." (Genesis 32:11.) When Hezekiah was in trouble, he first spread Sennacherib's letter before the Lord--"I beseech you, save us out of his hand." (2 Kings 19:19.) When Lazarus fell sick, his sisters sent immediately to Jesus "Lord," they said, "he whom you love is sick." (John 11:2.) Now let us do likewise. "Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain you." "Casting all your cares upon Him." "In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." (Psalms 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6.)

Let us not only remember this rule, but practice it too. We live in a world of sin and sorrow. The days of darkness in a man's life are many. It needs no prophet's eye to foresee that we shall all shed many a tear, and feel many a heart-wrench, before we die. Let us be armed with a formula against despair, before our troubles come. Let us know what to do, when sickness, or bereavement, or cross, or loss, or disappointment breaks in upon us like an armed man. Let us do as they did in Simon's house at Capernaum. Let us at once "tell Jesus."

Mark 1:32  When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed.

  • When evening came: Mk 1:21 3:2 Mt 8:16 Lu 4:40 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Parallel Passages:

Matthew 8:16+ When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill.

Lk 4:40+ While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them.

Setting sun on Sabbath sets off steady stream of sick to see the Savior. 

One can almost picture the city putting on running shoes awaiting the signal of the Sabbath sun setting, so they could move out for Peter's house. 

When evening came, after the sun had set they began bringing to Him (Lk 4:40a+ is similar) - Note double reference to time (evening...sun had set) for emphasis! Sabbath started at sundown on Friday and ended at sundown on Saturday. Actually, they had to wait until the first three stars were clearly visible in the sky. The Sabbath was over, healings were rabbinically legal, people could now travel any distance they needed to in order to reach and carry those who were not able to come in their own strength (the legalistic Jewish leaders and oppressive laws restricted the length one could travel on Sabbath and did not allow bearing burdens on that day because that was considered work (healing was also considered work - cf Mk 3:1-5+), so we see here the simple principle that LEGALISM blunts/restricts the work of GRACE!) (See "Sabbath's Day Journey") Note that Jesus had already "broken the Sabbath" in Mk 1:21-28 and would do so several more times (Mk 3:14, John 5, John 9). Began bringing is in the imperfect tense ("KEPT BRINGING") picturing people streaming one after another bringing the ill and demon-possessed. Frankly I am surprised they were able to bring the demon-possessed people as surely the demons knew what was awaiting them and could have caused a convulsion or some other hindrance to keep them from being brought to Jesus. Personally, I think this is another evidence of the power of divine over demoniacal. 

THOUGHT - There is a principle we can all apply today. Everyone born in Adam has contracted a deadly virus that won't even be destroyed by eternity in the Lake of fire (as a doctor I know heat is usually an excellent sterilizer but this is a spiritual "virus"). Here is the challenge for every born-again believer - We need to go to the highways and byways and bring the lame, the outcasts, the sin sick to Jesus and bring  Jesus to them! (cf Mt 28:19-20+, Acts 1:8+)

THOUGHT- Make Your Home Headquarters for Ministry, When you bring Jesus to your home, your home will become headquarters for ministry. " Can you imagine this scene as people pounded on Peter’s door? I wonder what it would look like if people gathered on our front lawns because we brought Jesus home with us from the service today? Here’s the deal: When Christ shows up, the crowds will be curious." (Brian Bell)

THOUGHT - Bringing is the Greek verb phero which means to carry as a burden. When you carry others to Jesus, you are doing what Jesus did for us in a supernatural way for the same verb phero is used in the Septuagint in Isaiah 53:4+ "Surely our griefs He Himself bore (Lxx = phero)." Brian Bill adds "Remember this: Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. The older I get the more convinced I am that everyone is suffering – emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually…or all the above." And they may be in need of being carried to Jesus! 

Spurgeon - It was the Sabbath, and they would not even bring out their sick folk until the day of rest was over. The Jewish Sabbath ended at the setting of the sun, so these people were all watching and waiting until the sun dipped below the horizon, and then, straightaway, they brought their suffering ones to Jesus. What a mass of misery filled the streets of Capernaum that memorable night! The whole city was turned into a hospital.

Wuest - One marvels at the number of sick people who were brought to our Lord at this place. H. V. Morton, in his excellent volume, In the Steps of The Master has an interesting bit of information for us on this point. He speaks of hot mineral waters containing curative properties, that were the center of the most famous spa in the country. This was located at the city of Tiberius which was ten miles from Capernaum. He says that in the time of our Lord these baths attracted the sick from every part of the country. And so it was that in the midst of a great health resort country, the Great Physician ministered to the ailments of multitudes. 

All who were ill and those who were demon-possessed - Again note Mark clearly distinguishes between physical illness and demon possession (Mk 6:3+, cf Mt 8:16) Note that here the KJV is very inaccurate rendering it as "possessed with devils." That is misleading as there is ONLY ONE devil (Rev 12:9+) who has many demons under his authority! Mark does not describe the results of bringing ill and demon-possessed to Him in this verse but does mention it in Mark 1:34. Matthew tells us "they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill." (Mt 8:16) While Matthew mentions the results to the demon-possessed people first, Luke mentions Jesus' effect on the ill first writing "sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them." (Lu 4:40+) So apparently the ill were healed simply by the touch of Jesus, emphasizing His tenderness and His power. Then Luke deals with the demon-possessed writing "Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ (cf THE MESSIAH)." (Lk 4:41+, cf Mk 3:11-12+). 

Demon-possessed (1139)(daimonizomai from daimonion = demon) means to be possessed by a demon, to be under the power of a demon, to act under the control of a demon. Note the striking contrast, Jesus a Man under the control of the Spirit now exerts authority over those souls under the control of an evil spirit. This verb is only found in the Gospels - Matt. 4:24; Matt. 8:16; Matt. 8:28; Matt. 8:33; Matt. 9:32; Matt. 12:22; Matt. 15:22; Mk. 1:32; Mk. 5:15; Mk. 5:16; Mk. 5:18; Lk. 8:36; Jn. 10:21. Daimonizomai is in the present tense indicating the demons were continually in control of the entire personality these poor victims. What a horrible life that must have been.

Related Resources:

Question:  What were the miracles of Jesus? What miracles did Jesus perform?

Answer: A miracle of God is an extraordinary or unnatural event that reveals or confirms a specific message through a mighty work. Jesus performed plenty of miracles. All the miracles He did were to glorify God, help others, and prove that He was indeed who He said He was—the Son of God. When He calmed the storm in Matthew 8, for example, the disciples were astonished and they asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (verse 27).

The Gospels record many of the miracles that Jesus performed. Of course, many of the things that Jesus did could not have been recorded in such short works. John freely admits, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book…Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 20:30 and John 21:25).

Different Gospels often record the same miracles, with each one giving slightly different details. Sometimes, it is impossible to know if a particular miracle recorded in the Gospels is simply one miracle recorded from different angles or if two separate miracles are being recorded. None of the Gospel writers are particularly concerned with strict chronology and they sometimes do not give us all the details we might be interested to know.

The miracles Jesus performed and listed below have been grouped into broad categories with accompanying references without attempting to determine which miracles are recorded multiple times and which may be unique to each of the Gospels:

Miracles of Healing

• Lepers cleansed: Matthew 8:1–4; Mark 1:41–45; Luke 5:12–14; 17:11–19
• Blind receive sight: Matthew 9:27–31; Mark 8:22–26; 10:46–52 Luke 18:35–43; John 9:1–38
• People are healed from a distance: Matthew 8:5–13; Luke 7:2–10; John 4:46–54
• Peter’s mother-in-law healed: Mark 1:29–31
• Paralyzed man healed: Matthew 9:1–8; Mark 2:1–12; Luke 5:17–26
• People touching Jesus’ clothing are healed: Matthew 9:20–23; 14:35–36; Mark 5:25–34; 6:53–56; Luke 8:43–48
• Various healings on the Sabbath: Mark 3:1–6; Luke 6:6–10; 13:10–17; 14:1–6; John 5:1–18
• Deaf and mute man healed: Mark 7:31–37
• Cut-off ear is repaired: Luke 22:47–53
• Demons cast out (and specific physical ailments accompanying the demons healed): Matthew 9:32–33; 17:14–18; Mark 9:14–29; Luke 9:37–42
• Demons cast out (no specific physical ailments mentioned): Matthew 8:28–34; 15:21–28; Mark 1:23–27; 5:1–20; 7:24–30; Luke 4:31–37; 8:26–39
• Multitudes healed: Matthew 9:35; 15:29–31; Mark 1:32–34; 3:9–12; Luke 6:17–19
• The dead raised to life: Matthew 9:18–26; Mark 5:21–43; 8:40–56; John 11:1–45

Other Miracles

• Multitudes fed (food multiplies): Matthew 14:13–21; 15:32–39; Mark 6:33–44; 8:1–10; Luke 9:12–17; John 6:1–14
• Walks on water: Matthew 14:22–33 (Peter too); Mark 6:45–52; John 6:15–21
• Calms a storm: Matthew 8:22–25; Mark 4:35–41; Luke 8:22–25
• Fills nets with fish: Luke 5:1–11; John 21:1–14
• Peter catches fish with money in its mouth (for the temple tax): Matthew 17:24–27
• Turns water to wine: John 2:1–11
• Cursed tree withers: Matthew 21:18–22; Mark 11:12–25

From the list above, we see that the vast majority of miracles recorded in the Gospels were miracles of healing. While those who received the healing were relieved of their physical ailments, the stated purpose of the miracles is rarely ever the simple alleviation of physical suffering. The miracle of healing always points to a greater truth, namely, that Jesus is the Son of God with authority. When He casts out demons, His authority over them is emphasized. When He heals on the Sabbath, His authority as Lord of the Sabbath is emphasized. Likewise, many of the miracles emphasize Jesus’ authority over nature.

There is no better way to study the miracles of Jesus than to read through the Gospels and make a list of each miracle and the explanation that is provided. (For instance, in John 2 we read of Jesus turning water into wine. That miracle did alleviate a potential embarrassment for the host and it did appease His mother who asked Him to get involved, but the primary result is recorded in verse 11: “What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”) Sometimes the purpose of a miracle is given directly, and sometimes it is recorded in the response of those who saw it. Jesus never performed miracles for the sake of putting on a show. Every miracle pointed to a greater truth. John especially emphasized this point by referring to Jesus’ miracles as “signs.”

The feeding of the 5,000 is just one example. John 6 begins by saying that people were following Jesus because they saw the signs. One would think this is a good thing. Jesus goes on to feed the multitude, over 5,000 men plus women and children, with just five loaves and two fish. Then, He slipped away in the night.

The next morning, the people went looking for Him. Jesus, however, is not impressed and confronts their selfish motives for seeking Him: “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill” (John 6:26). There is some irony here. They were seeking Jesus because they had a free meal as the result of a miracle. No doubt they thought that this was a pretty good arrangement. If Jesus would continue to feed them, all would be well. Jesus, however, says that they did not truly see the “sign.” They saw the miracle, yet they could not see past the loaves and fish. The “sign” Jesus performed signifies something greater. Although the multitudes saw and partook of the miracle, they missed the sign that was to point them to Jesus, the Bread of Life. Throughout the ministry of Jesus, many people saw His miracles as ends in themselves rather than pointing to something greater. (Source:

Mark 1:33  And the whole city had gathered at the door.


And the whole city had gathered at the door - This detail is recorded only by Mark and is a bit of a hyperbole (rhetorical device for effect) as the whole city could hardly be right at the door of Peter's home! At the door of Peter and Andrew's house in Capernaum. Recall Mark had just stated "Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee." (Mk 1:28) 

Wiersbe - Peter’s house became a place of healing for the whole city! How important it is for us to “take Jesus home with us” after we have worshiped. The Lord met the need in the home and then used the home to meet the needs of others. (Wiersbe's Expository Outlines)

Spurgeon - It seemed as if everybody had come either to be healed or to witness the healing of others: “All the city was gathered together at the door.” Oh, when shall we see our places of worship thronged in this fashion with the spiritually sick? When will this great city of London begin to turn towards the Lord Jesus Christ? Will any of us live to see all our fellow-citizens gathered together around the Saviour to be healed by him of all the wounds that sin hath made?

Had gathered (perfect tense - they were not leaving!) (1996)(episunago from epi = on, upon, near + sunago = to lead or bring together; related = episunagoge = a gathering together - 2Th 2:1, Heb 10:25, cf sunagoge) means to lead or bring together upon a place. It literally means “to go with others and settle down together in a group. In passive sense to gather or come together (Mk 1:33). Twice Jesus used this verb in description of birds - of a hen gathering her chicks (Mt 23:37) and of vultures gathering over a dead body (Lk 17:37). To gather together people in a place - to assemble, to convene (Mk 13:27).

HiebertHad gathered is in the perfect tense and pictures the crowd, having previously flocked to the door, now forming a dense mass as they waited for the Healer to get to them. Wuest adds "the perfect tense, speaking of a past completed action having finished results. The people had brought their sick to the door of Simon’s house, and had seated themselves, waiting for the new Teacher to heal those who were ill. They were there to stay until their mission was accomplished."

Mark 1:34  And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

  • He was not permitting the demons to speak: Mk 1:25 Mk 3:12 Lu 4:41 Ac 16:16-18
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Parallel Passages:

Mt 8:16-17+ When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.”

Lk 4:40-41+ While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. 41 Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ. 

One might subtitle this passage "Christ's Compassionate Concern!"

And He healed many who were ill with various diseases - It is interesting that in Mark 1:32 he says all who were ill and here that Jesus healed many who were ill. Luke 4:40+ says all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him. Luke 4:40+ also uses the same verb for heal therapeuo but in the imperfect tense which gives us the dramatic picture is of Jesus continually healing -- one sick person would either be brought to Him or come on their own power (if able) and He would heal him, then a lame person would come and He would heal him, then a deaf person would come and He would heal him. The imperfect tense helps us to see the scene in our mind's eye, so to speak. And quite a scene it was. We don't know how long this scene lasted, but we do know the whole city was there (Mk 1:33) and it was evening (Mk 1:32). So depending on how many were sick, this scene could have lasted well into the night. Did Jesus pause for dinner? The text does not say, although the fact that Simon's healed mother-in-law waited on them suggest she provided some type of nourishment. While we do not know how long Jesus' "ER" lasted, remember that Jesus was fully Man, and here at the end of a long day must have been "fully exhausted!" But remember also that Luke 4:14+ says He was functioning "in the power of the Spirit." (cf Acts 10:38+) While a Spirit filled Man is performing spiritual work, he is supernaturally energized. Can we not see our desperate need to be continually filled and empowered by the Spirit? (Eph 5:18+, cf Eph 3:16+, Acts 1:8+Could this be why so many Christian workers reach a point of burnout (just wondering!)? Did you notice a difference in the description of Peter's healed mother-in-law and all these many who were healed of various diseases? None of the synoptic writers say once healed they went about serving others. Interesting!  One other thought is that Jesus never went looking for sick people to heal. Healings were never to overshadow His primary ministry of preaching and teaching the Word. Any ministry today that puts major emphasis on the miraculous at the expense of the proclamation of the Word is suspect at the very least and completely counterfeit at very worst (sadly most are in this latter category, especially if they are on television!)

PRINCIPLE - Do not miss the fact that Mark clearly distinguishes illness (above) and those who were demon possessed. So in Mark 1:32 note the two categories - (1) All who were ill and (2)  those who were demon-possessed. The point is that all disease and sickness is the result of sin but not all disease is the result of demonic activity (yes some demon possessed people were tormented including convulsions even as we saw in Mark chapter 1). Stated another way Satan and His demons may inflict physical affliction (cf Lk 13:10-17+), but clearly not all physical affliction is demonic in origin. AND FROM MY EXPERIENCE AS A MEDICAL DOCTOR I STRONGLY BELIEVE MOST ILLNESS IS NOT DEMONIC.

Healed (cured)(2323)(therapeuo from therapon = an attendant, servant) means primarily to care for, to wait upon, minister to. It has two main senses in the NT, one speaking of rendering service (Acts 17:25) and the more common use as in the present context in Mark 1:34 describing healing of the ill  (Mt. 4:24; 12:10; Luke 6:7; 10:9). Therapeúō means to heal miraculously in Matt. 4:23, 24; 10:1, 8; Acts 4:14. Providing care to improve a situation.

Note that the phrase "healed many" according to Grassmick is a "Hebrew idiom meaning “all who were brought” (cf Mk 1:32, Mk 10:45, Mt 8:15). " (BKC)

Various (4164)(poikilos) means many-colored, variegated, all manner of sickness. The point of this detail is the Jesus' power was not restricted to rebuking fever, but was power that produced positive effects in every shape, size or color (so to speak) of illness.  As a physician I feel for the poor doctor in Capernaum and for those all over Israel for that matter, as illness almost came to a standstill at this very unique time in the history of the world. It reminds me a bit of the illness free condition in the Garden of Eden! 

Diseases (3554)(nosos) means a physical malady, disease, illness. BDAG adds it was "frequently  viewed in Mediterranean society as socially devaluing." BDAG says nosos was also used of moral malady but no uses like that in the NT (secular quote = "the adulterer gives satisfaction to his own diseased inclination"). Liddell-Scott adds the following on nosos - sickness, disease, malady, Hom., etc. II. generally, distress, misery, suffering, sorrow, evil, Hes., Trag. 2. disease of mind, Trag.; i.e. madness, Soph. 3. of states, disorder, sedition, Plat. 4. a plague, bane, of a whirlwind, Soph."

Nosos - 11x in NT - Matt. 4:23; Matt. 4:24; Matt. 8:17; Matt. 9:35; Matt. 10:1; Mk. 1:34; Lk. 4:40; Lk. 6:18; Lk. 7:21; Lk. 9:1; Acts 19:12. Uses in the Septuagint - Ex 15:26; Deut. 7:15; Deut. 28:59; Deut. 29:22; 2 Chr. 21:15; 2 Chr. 21:19; Job 24:23; Ps. 103:3; Hos. 5:13; 

TDNT has a note on nosos discussing what the ancient world thought about Sickness

A. Sickness and Sin.

1. Primitive Near Eastern and Greek Thinking. Primitive thinking connects sickness and impurity under the concept of miÃasma, which is a kind of substance that one should avoid. Later, demons are thought to convey it or to be stirred up by it, or gods are thought to avenge offenses (mostly cultic) by means of it. Many Babylonian words for sin also denote sickness, and Babylonian penitential psalms often complain about disease and destruction. Expiations are designed to restore the body. In Greece Apollo avenges wrongs by inflicting pestilence, and Egypt offers examples of sickness as a punishment for offenses.

 2. The Equation of Defect and Sickness in Greek Philosophy. Greek philosophy hints at the derivation of immoral acts from physical degeneration but also relates defect and sickness more strictly by calling for both physical and mental training to overcome evil.

 3. Sickness and Sin in the OT. The OT never describes sin as a spiritual sickness. If the penitential psalms bear resemblances to those of Babylon, the difference is that guilt before God is moral. The sickness of Ps. 103 is a real one, and if it is hopeless like sin, the OT starting point is the connection between guilt and judgment. A sense of innocence (Job) protests against a rigid causality of sin and sickness, and Is. 53 solves the resultant problem by the concept of vicarious suffering.

4. Sickness and Sin in Judaism. Judaism works out the doctrine of retribution but avoids a direct equation of sin and sickness except for some Greek influence in Hellenistic Judaism. If the sick are to make special confession, it is more because of the imminence of death than some special sinfulness. Illnesses may be chastisements of love, and God is especially near the sick, so that they are to be visited and helped, not shunned. The role of medicine is honored as early as Sir. 38:12.

5. Sickness and Sin in the NT. The NT views sickness as contrary to God's creative will, sees demonic power at work in it, and traces a general connection between sin and sickness ( Mt. 12:22ff. etc.). But Jesus, transcending the dogma of retribution, grants both healing and forgiveness (Mk. 2:5ff.), so that Christians may now see sickness as a divine correction ( 1 Cor. 11:32) and at the same time take steps to deal with it by prayer, healing, etc. (2 Cor. 12:8; Jms. 5:13ff., etc.). In Mk. 2:17 Jesus accepts sickness as a figure of speech for sin, but he does so only to proclaim that he has come to save sinners. The figurative use in 1 Tim. 6:4 is more Hellenistic with its suggestion that ignorance is the source of aberration (cf. the description of error as a cancerous growth in 2 Tim. 2:17). Being sick denotes here an abnormal inward state.

B. Sickness as Vicarious Suffering.

 1. The Suffering Hero in the Greek World. The sick hero or heroine (Orestes, Ajax, Antiope, especially Hercules) is a common figure in Greek mythology. The sicknesses are finally due to a demonism of destiny, which alone can bring human life to full richness. The tragedy, then, has saving significance, but the vicariousness is not that of historical expiation.

 2. The Suffering Servant of God in the OT and Judaism. The Bible reflects a tension that only the eschaton can solve, yet in prophetic figures one finds an understanding of sickness in terms of vocational burden. Thus Ezekiel with his cataleptic type of sickness bears the burden of Israel's iniquity (3:22ff.; 4:4ff.), and above all the Servant of Is. 53 bears the sin of the people in vicarious expiation. Only later and in part does Judaism relate this passage to the Messiah, but out of it arises the idea of the Messiah as a leper.

 3. The Suffering Man of God in the NT. The NT refers Is. 53 to Jesus, although more in terms of violent death than sickness. Mt. 8:17 specifically quotes Is. 53:4 in relation to the fact that in bearing away illnesses Jesus also bears them, i.e., takes the needs of the sick to himself (cf. 15:30ff.). Sickness is a vocational burden for Paul (cf. 2 Cor. 12:7ff.), though he does not call it vicarious. His sufferings mostly take the form of persecution but do not exclude ill health. In Col. 1:24 the thought is not that Paul's sufferings supplement or complete the vicarious work of Christ but that Christ, present with his “body” in this aeon, still undergoes a measure of suffering which hastens the final redemption. Himself present as Head in the heavenly aeon, Christ has died vicariously once and for all at the cross.

C. The Church and Sickness.

 1. Visiting and Caring for the Sick. Visiting and caring for the sick is an important ministry in the early church (1 Clem. 59.4; Pol. 1.3). The bishops and deacons pray over the sick, and in times of plague believers devote themselves sacrificially to the sick and dying.

 2. The Influence of Is. 53 on the Concept of Christ. The early church does not depict a sick Christ. It refers Is. 53:4 to the crucifixion and sees in the healing and teaching Christ the mighty Helper. A sign of increasing Hellenization is the growing tendency to take the infirmities and diseases of Mt. 8:17 figuratively. (TDNT Abridged)

Ray Stedman - Now, God does heal -- and thank God for physical healings. But they are only temporary blessings at best. What Jesus continually emphasizes is the healing of the spirit of man -- the healing of bitterness and hostility and lust and anger, of worry and anxiety and a critical spirit. This is what he is after deliverance from these ugly and evil things -- because this is of eternal value. The healing of the spirit is a permanent thing. So Jesus turns his back on popular acclaim, tries to suppress it and keep it under control, in order that he might be free for the ministry of greater importance. (Mark 1:16-39 A Day In The Life Of Jesus)

We don't know how long Peter's house was turned into a veritable "Emergency Room," but we do know the whole town was there and it was evening. So depending on how many were sick, this scene could have lasted well into the night. Did Jesus pause for dinner? The text does not say. And although we do not know how long it lasted, remember that Jesus was fully Man, and here at the end of a long day of doing other miracles (leper, centurion's son, demon in synagogue), He must have been humanly spent, "fully exhausted!" But remember that Luke 4:14+ says He was functioning "in the power of the Spirit." (cf Acts 10:38+) While a Spirit filled Man is performing spiritual work, he is supernaturally energized. God's work done in God's will never lacks God's supernatural supply (see note below from Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God in the chapter entitled "Doing God's Will").

And cast out many demons - Luke 4:41 has Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!”.

And He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was -This is what He had done in Mk 1:25+ commanding the demon "“Be quiet, and come out of him!” Once again the evil demons knew Jesus as Son of God and as the Christ (MESSIAH)" (Lk 4:41+). Ray Stedman says Jesus "laid a vocal quarantine upon them."

THOUGHT - It’s interesting that the demons wanted to declare who Jesus was but were not permitted to do so. Jesus wants us to speak about Him, but many of us walk around muzzled.

Cast out (threw out, drove out, sent out) (1544)(ekbállō from ek = out + bállō = to cast, throw, drive) means to cast or throw out often with the idea of force (Mt. 8:12; Mt 15:17; Mt 25:30; Acts 16:37, Acts 27:38; Lxx - Lev. 14:40) and as here in Mark 1:34 was frequently used of casting out demons  (cf Mt 7:22, Mt 8:16, 31, Mt 9:34, 10:1, etc). Sadly ekballo is also used of the future casting unbelievers into the outer darkness (hell - eternal punishment) (Mt 8:12, Mt 22:13, Mt 25:30). It is ironic that Mark used the same verb in Mark 1:12+ of the Holy Spirit's effect on Jesus -  "Immediately the Spirit impelled (ekballo) Him (Jesus) to go out into the wilderness."

Not permitting is the same verb used earlier - see aphiemi. Wuest says "aphiēmi “to permit,” is in the imperfect tense, speaking of continuous action. It was a continuous refusal. The demons clamored to be heard." Jesus shut them down!!!

Bob Utley makes a good point about the adjective "many" used to describe both the ill and the demon-possessed commenting "that He healed or delivered "many" of them, but not everyone. It is interesting that the terms "all" and "many" are often used synonymously in the Bible (cf. Isaiah 53:6, Isa 53:11,12 and Ro. 5:18, 19). It is uncertain whether Jesus healed everyone brought to Him or many of them. At the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, it is recorded that Jesus only healed one of many sick persons. Jesus did not go out of His way to heal, but if the situation presented itself (i.e., a teaching moment for the disciples plus Jesus' compassion for the hurting and needy) He acted in power. He did go out of His way for the purpose of evangelism (i.e., the Samaritan woman, cf John 4, especially Mark 1:4). Healing was a sign, but evangelism was the purpose and focus of His ministry. (Comments)

Clearly Jesus performed many miracles and one of the major purposes was to validate the message He had preached in the synagogue (and after that in the open air). Israel was a nation steeped in law (and tradition) and works-based righteousness and Jesus' message was radical because He preached a grace-based message of salvation (righteousness imputed) by faith. The manifold miracles added substance and weight to His message and in essence became His credentials underscoring that His message was from a supernatural source (God) just like His miracles! Did the miracles bring about belief? The answer is predominantly "No." Why? First, only the Word, the Gospel, brings belief and salvation (cf Ro 10:17+). Secondly, John tells us "But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him." (Jn 12:37ff) Of course some believed (Jn 12:11 - referring to resurrection of Lazarus), but John's point is that most of the Jews did not believe in Jesus, especially the Jewish leaders (cf Jn 11:47-48).

Spurgeon - They would persist in acknowledging him; perhaps with the design of injuring his cause, for nothing hurts the cause of Christ more than to have it praised by bad men or evil spirits. I do not know that an outrageous sinner, if he will not repent, can do Christ a better turn than to abuse him for then he is speaking after his own natural manner but when the devil or his servants go into the pulpit, and begin to speak in praise of Christ, then is Christ’s cause in an evil case indeed; so he “suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him;” or, as the margin puts it, even to say that they knew him.”

Brian Bell - Before we assume that all these people were putting their faith in Jesus, it must be pointed out that many just wanted a miracle. They wanted relief from pain and affliction but weren’t ready to repent and receive salvation. While Jesus healed many who were sick and cast out demons, He came for a different purpose....He extended mercy but He was also on mission. He was merciful and missional. I love the progression here that corresponds with our 4Gs. We’re to gather with God’s people to worship and then bring Jesus home with us so that we grow in our faith. We then give to others by serving and finally we go with the gospel to our neighbors and to the nations. (Sermon)

Sung by Kari Jobe

You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease
I trust in You, I trust in You

I believe You're my healer
I believe You are all I need
I believe

And I believe You're my portion
I believe You're more than enough for me
Jesus You're all I need

You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease
I trust in You, Lord I trust in You

I believe You're my healer
I believe You are all I need
Oh, I believe

I believe You're my portion
I believe You're more than enough for me
Jesus You're all I need

Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands

Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands

I believe You're my healer
I believe You are all I need
Oh, yes You are, yes You are

And I believe You're my portion
Lord I believe You're more than enough for me
Jesus You're all I need
More than enough for me
Jesus You're all I need

You're my healer

Related Resources:

Brian Bell has some great ACTION STEPS - 

Let’s allow this passage to percolate in our lives. Here are some action steps.

1. Don’t allow your in-laws to become out-laws. Is there anything you need to do to reconcile this relationship?

2. Live out your faith wherever you are. Are you helping your children learn about Jesus? Are you taking Jesus to your workplace? Have you invited Him into your hobbies, your sports, and other activities? Do you take him to your campus with you?

3. Ask the Healer to bring healing to you and others. Sometimes Jesus heals miraculously. Other times he does it through doctors and medicine and surgeries. And sometimes we won’t receive healing until we’re in heaven. Let’s not be like Asa, who neglected to ask for healing in 2 Chronicles 16:12: “Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians.” 

4. Find somewhere to serve. The question should never be whether you will serve. The real question is where and when will you serve? We have not been lifted up only to lie back down. You can help us achieve our mission by serving in the Nursery, Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, Celebrate Recovery, going on the mission trip to Puerto Rico, Pregnancy Resources or World Relief or someplace else in the community. The possibilities are endless because the needs are unending. If you’re saved, settle this truth: you’re a servant. 

5. Repurpose your home as headquarters for ministry. Practice hospitality. Reach out to your neighbors. What one event can you plan within the next three months to use your home as a place for people to learn about God’s grace? What about a fall bonfire or a Cookie Exchange in December?

6. Ask the Savior to save you. We all have a sickness called sin and Satan is out to destroy us. Our fever is fatal and there’s no way we can help ourselves. We’ve fallen and we can’t get up. Ask Jesus to come and He’ll come. And He’ll touch you and then lift you up. Repent and receive Him into your life and then follow Him wholeheartedly. He died in your place, taking your punishment, His blood paying the price for all your sins. And then He rose from the dead on the third day, showing His power over sin, sickness and Satan!

Steven Cole on why Jesus performed miracles - There were several reasons for Jesus’ miracles. First, they authenticate His person and teaching, proving Him to be the Messiah sent by the Father (see Luke 7:20-22). Second, the miracles show us who Jesus is. He feeds the 5,000 and claims to be the bread of life. He claims to be the light of the world and opens the eyes of a man born blind. Third, the miracles give symbolic lessons of spiritual truth. The sick and the dead represent the human race, broken under sin. Without Christ, they are helpless. But when He speaks the word, they are instantly cured. Thus the miracles show us God’s great gift of salvation. Finally, the miracles show us either implicitly or explicitly how we should respond to Jesus Christ. We must come to Him in our utter helplessness and cast ourselves totally on His mercy and power. The miracles also warn us how not to come to Jesus, since many sought after Him not so that they could follow Him as Lord, but just to use Him for their own selfish purposes. An evil and adulterous generation seeks after miracles. Let me give some brief guidelines about seeking God’s miraculous healing today. First, check your motive. God’s glory, not your comfort, should be foremost (Phil. 1:20). Second, submit to the Lord, who knows better than you do what is best in any situation. Paul thought it would be best to get rid of the thorn in his flesh. God knew otherwise (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Third, don’t limit God by unbelief (Mark 6:5, 6). God is able to do the impossible, if it’s His will. So, pray for miraculous healing, believing that God is able, but recognize that it may not be His will. Fourth, look for the spiritual lessons God is trying to teach you in the trial. There may be a sin you need to confess (James 5:13-16). You may need to learn to trust God in a greater way (2 Cor. 1:8, 9). You may need to learn to focus more on the things above and the hope of heaven (Col. 3:1-4). You may need to rearrange your priorities (Matt. 6:33). God uses affliction to conform us to the image of His Son, and so instant, miraculous healing is often not His will. (Jesus Lord Over All)

J C Ryle on the demons knowing Who Jesus was - We learn from these verses, the uselessness of a mere intellectual knowledge of religion . Twice we are specially told that the unclean spirits know our Lord. In one place it says, "they knew Him." to another, the devil cries out, "I know you who you are, the Holy One of God." They knew Christ, when Scribes were ignorant of Him, and Pharisees would not acknowledge Him. And yet their knowledge was not unto salvation.

The mere belief of the facts and doctrines of Christianity will never save our souls. Such belief is no better than the belief of devils. They all believe and know that Jesus is the Christ. They believe that he will one day judge the world, and cast them down to endless torment in hell. It is a solemn and sorrowful thought, that on these points some professing Christians have even less faith than the devil. There are some who doubt the reality of hell and the eternity of punishment. Such doubts as these find no place except in the hearts of self-willed men and women. There is no infidelity among devils. "They believe and tremble." (James 2:19.)

Let us take heed that our faith be a faith of the heart as well as of the head. Let us see that our knowledge has a sanctifying influence on our affections and our lives. Let us not only know Christ but love Him, from a sense of actual benefit received from Him. Let us not only believe that he is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, but rejoice in Him, and cleave to Him with purpose of heart. Let us not only be acquainted with Him by the hearing of the ear, but by daily personal application to Him for mercy and grace. "The life of Christianity," says Luther, "consists in possessive pronouns." It is one thing to say "Christ is a Savior." It is quite another to say "He is my Savior and my Lord." The devil can say the first. The true Christian alone can say the second.

Geoff Thomas on Miracles - The Bible covers four thousand years of history, and the number of miracles performed by men of God are few, and far between. The Church of Rome has canonised tens of thousands of men and women, making them saints, solemnly announcing to the world that those people have left purgatory and have finally got to heaven. One of the qualifications for being pronounced a ‘saint’ by the Vatican is that a miracle has been performed by that person in answer to prayer being made to that saint for supernatural healing. So miracles in the church of Rome both through their saints and at their places of pilgrimage are fairly commonplace. They are not commonplace in the Bible.

Again what has been happening in India this month? Thousands of people have been flocking to a church building in southern India. “A good thing,” you say. But why? To hear the gospel preached? No. A woman called Sheela Antony had prepared traditional Indian flat bread, called chapati, and gave some to her children. Her daughter refused to eat it saying it was burnt. Then Mrs Antony picked up the chapati and noticed the burn mark on the side of the bread. “It looks like Christ!” she cried, and when she showed it to her neighbours they agreed; “It looks like Jesus!” She took it to her parish priest George Jacob and he immediately pronounced that it was a miracle. He put the chapati in a glass case, it was shown in national television and soon thousands of people, including many Muslims and Hindus began to make the journey to Bangalore to see the chapati: “We believe in miracles. Devotees are feeling blessed at witnessing it,” said Father Jacob. 20,000 people are now besieging the Renewal Retreat Centre to catch a glimpse of the ‘miracle chapati’, which is just a burnt piece of bread. (The Times, 18 November, 2002). Fascination with miracles is no evidence of faith in Christ. “An unbelieving and adulterous generation is always looking for signs,” said the Lord Jesus when he refused to perform any miracles for the people. So-called ‘miracles’ are also very common in the religions of the world, but they are not common in the Bible.

From the completion of the creation until the moment when Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh, a period of thousands of years, no miracles are recorded. Then there stretches out a period of half a century when a number of divine miracles both of judgment and deliverance take place. They begin with the plagues of Egypt and they last until Jordan is crossed and Joshua’s sun stands still. Another sixteen hundred years of redemptive history pass by, and then there are the miracles of Elijah and Elisha both of deliverance and judgment which last for a decade or two. In Babylon Daniel performed no miracles although there were mighty acts of God manifested there. Then another 900 years pass before our Lord appears and miracles are again confirmed. So we have about 4,000 years during which there were three brief periods where there were miracles. Noah performed no miracles though he served God mightily and was a preacher of righteousness for a century. Enoch walked with God, but he did no mighty works. Abraham, his son and his grandsons performed no miracles; Joseph did no miracles in Egypt; Samuel performed no miracles; David, the greatest of the kings of Israel, wrote the 23rd psalm and other inspired writings, but he performed no miracles; Isaiah was the wonderful evangelical prophet, but he performed no miracles, and neither did Jeremiah and Ezekiel nor the other prophets. Hezekiah’s reformation was not accompanied by miraculous gifts. The reformers, Ezra and Nehemiah, performed no miracles. God gave no such gifts to those men. All this, of course, is history and it is saying to us plainly that miracles were few and far between during the mighty works of God in Bible times. The periods when God restored miraculous gifts to Old Testament leaders were not times of unusual blessing. They were not connected to revivals of religions.

When the Son of God, the promised Messiah appears and begins his public ministry a flood of miracles is immediately let loose especially on the province of Galilee, from the first ones at the wedding in Cana and the healing of this older woman of her fever right through to the very end, that is, to the night before Golgotha when the Lord Jesus restored Malchus’ ear, cut off by Simon Peter’s sword. There was never any waning of Jesus’ power nor of his willingness to answer those who came to him for help. As many as thirty of Jesus’ miracles are described for us in the four gospels. The total number is far greater. We are told in verse 33 of many anonymous sick and dying people whom the Lord Jesus healed in Capernaum. There are also those words of John informing us that, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.” (Jn. 20:30). So miracles are rare in the Scriptures themselves, but there is a superabundance of them in the ministry of Christ and his apostles. (Sermon)

Daniel Akin on why Jesus was not permitting the demons to speak (cf Mark 1:34; 3:12; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26, 30; 9:9) - This raises an important and interesting issue discussed by both believing and unbelieving ("CRITICAL") scholars called “The Messianic Secret.” James Edwards helps us to see why the question was raised in the first place when he writes,

On three occasions demons are enjoined to silence (Mark 1:25; 1:34; 3:11). Jesus commands silence after four miracles (cleansing of a leper, Mk 1:44; raising of a dead girl, Mk 5:43; healing of a deaf-mute, Mk 7:36; healing of blind man, Mk 8:26). Twice the disciples are commanded to silence (Mk 8:30; 9:9). Twice Jesus withdraws from crowds to escape detection (Mk 7:24; Mk 9:30). Beyond these explicit admonitions to secrecy, Mark implies secrecy in other aspects of Jesus’ public ministry. But, ironically, the command to silence often results in the opposite: “the more he [commanded to silence], the more they kept talking about it” (Mk 7:36; Mk 1:45;Mk 5:20; Mk 7:24). (p. 63).

When one considers the historical context, Messianic expectations and the nature of how the Kingdom has come and will grow, several observations can be made about this interesting phenomenon.

Why did Jesus hide and conceal His Messiahship during His ministry?

1) To avoid the impression of being a mere miracle worker (a divine man) or magician since so many commands to silence accompany a miraculous work.

2) To avoid unnecessary and unhelpful publicity in order to have more moments of private teaching and peace with His disciples.

3) To avoid the mistaken idea of the type of Messiah he would be. His Messiahship was to be manifested through service and suffering, not sensational displays of miraculous activity which would excite political messianic fever.

4) To express His humility as the Suffering Servant of the Lord. 6 5) To inform us that only through the medium of faith (ultimately in a crucified and humiliated Jesus of Nazareth) is His Messiahship personally apprehended. (cf. I Corinthians 1-2).

6) To avoid recognition from an undesirable source such as the demonic.

7) To point to the hostility of the religious and political leadership and to mark clearly Jesus’ own choice of the destined hour of His passion.

The idea that this is a Markan creation to explain why Jesus was not recognized as Messiah prior to the Easter event is untenable and should be rejected as liberal conjecture grounded in an anti-supernatural bias. That Hebrews rooted in Jewish monotheism would have conceived of, much less fabricated, Jesus as Messiah in terms of His divine Sonship is simply not believable. No, the Messianic Secret arose from Jesus Himself, and His self conscious identification with Isaiah’s Suffering Servant of the Lord and the need to guard his messianic identity from premature and false understandings. He was the Messiah, but He was not the kind of Messiah the 1st century world hoped for. However, He was the kind of Messiah that world, indeed the whole world, truly and genuinely needed. Our greatest need is not sickness but sin, not demons but death. No, we needed a Messiah who would give his life as a ransom, a payment, for sinners like you and me. Praise God, he sent us the kind of Messiah we needed!

We are an industrious people. We always want to accomplish something. The idea of doing God's will sounds exciting. Once in a while, someone says, “Don't just stand there—do something.” Sometimes individuals or churches are so busy carrying out plans they think will help achieve God's purposes that they don't bother to find out what He actually wants. We often wear ourselves out and accomplish little for the kingdom of God.

I think God is crying out to us: “Don't just do something. Stand there! Enter into a love relationship with Me. Get to know Me. Adjust your life to Me. Let Me love you and teach you about Myself as I work through you.” A time will come when action is required, but we must not short-circuit the relationship (Ps. 37:7). Your relationship with God must come first. Out of your walk with God, He accomplishes His plans for our world.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” (John 15:5). Do you believe that without Him you can do nothing? Sure, you can keep yourself busy. You can immerse yourself in activities, programs, meetings, and events, but they will not have any lasting value for God's kingdom. The apostle Paul warned that one day every person's work would be tested by fire to see if it was done according to God's will and divine power (1 Cor. 3:13). The activities God will commend in the final judgment will be those which He initiated. If you are experiencing a time of spiritual dryness in your life, you may be trying to do things on your own that God has not initiated. However, when you abide in Christ, you will be amazed at what God accomplishes through your life.

God wants you to gain a greater knowledge of Him by experience. That's what abiding in Him will do for you. He wants a love relationship with you, and He wants to involve you in His kingdom work. He alone can initiate His plans. He wants your involvement, but you cannot do it for Him. When you believe Him and do as He directs, then He will accomplish His work through you.

Jesus had advice for those who wearied themselves trying to do things in their own strength: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

A yoke was an instrument built for two oxen to work together in tandem. Often farmers would pair up an experienced animal with a younger ox. Thus the younger one could learn from the seasoned animal. Jesus' invitation is for you to join up with Him—to walk alongside Him and follow His lead. When you labor where He is already at work, He accomplishes His purposes through you. The experience is not meant to be exhausting or burdensome, but exhilarating and fulfilling. Sadly, the chronic ailment of Christians today is burnout, particularly among pastors and those in Christian ministry. They grow weary doing things for God in their own strength. Yet Jesus promised that those who walk alongside Him and work with Him will find rest for their souls. God has more than enough knowledge, power, and resources to accomplish whatever He desires. Our involvement—at His invitation—is a privilege that should invigorate us and keep us close to Him. If you are worn out or stressed by your “Christian duties,” perhaps you are not properly yoked to your Master. (Chapter 3 - Doing God's Will - Experiencing God)

Mark 1:35  In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.

  • morning. Mk 6:48. 13:35. 16:2. Ge 19:27. 28:18. Jdg 6:38. 9:33. 2 Sa 23:4. 2 Ki 3:22. Job 1:5. Ps 5:3. 130:6. Isa 26:9. Lk 24:1. Jn 20:1.
  • Jesus got up. Mk 6:46-48. Ps 5:3. 109:4. Lk 4:42. 6:12. 22:39-46. Jn 4:34. 6:15. Ep 6:18. Php 2:5. Heb 5:7.
  • early 1 Sa 1:19. Ps 63:1. 78:34. Is 26:9.
  • left. Lk 6:12.
  • secluded place. Ps 107:4-7. Mt 14:23. Lk 5:16. 9:18.
  • praying. Mk 6:46. Ps 109:4. Mt 11:25. 26:39. Lk 3:21. 10:21. 11:1. 22:32. 23:34, 46. Jn 11:41. 17:9. Heb 5:7.
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Parallel Passage in Luke 4:42+ - When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them.

In the early morning, while it was still dark - Ask the when questions? The first answer is easy - early morning. But then ask what morning? This is the morning after the busiest day recorded in the life of Jesus! He must have been literally exhausted for He was fully man, a man just like us. And so He goes to spend time with His Father for rest and revival. THOUGHT - What do you do after a busy day of ministry? Watch a movie? Take a nap? Next time try sitting a the feet of your Lord and see what a difference it makes in the rest of your week. Luke has when day came. So it must have been just as the first morning light breaks into the total darkness, especially in a "wilderness" (secluded) place away from any city lighting. Early morning refers to the last watch of the night from three to six A.M.

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world

Early morning (4404)(proi from pro = before) is an adverb of time closely paralleling our English word early or the phrase in the morning. Proi means  early, in the (early) morning; in Jewish time reckoning, the last watch of the night. Mark used the term proi to refer to the fourth watch of the night, the hours from 3 to 6 a.m.

Mark 13:35 = "Therefore, be on the alert (gregoreuo in present imperative calling for reliance on the Holy Spirit to obey) –for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning (LAST WATCH)." 

Mark 15:1 = Early in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes and the whole Council, immediately held a consultation; and binding Jesus, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate.

Proi - 12x - Matt. 16:3; Matt. 20:1; Matt. 21:18; Mk. 1:35; Mk. 11:20; Mk. 13:35; Mk. 15:1; Mk. 16:2; Mk. 16:9; Jn. 18:28; Jn. 20:1; Acts 28:23

Proi is used over 180x in the Septuagint so only the uses in Genesis and Psalms are listed - Gen. 1:5; Gen. 1:8; Gen. 1:13; Gen. 1:19; Gen. 1:23; Gen. 1:31; Gen. 19:27; Gen. 20:8; Gen. 21:14; Gen. 22:3; Gen. 24:54; Gen. 26:31; Gen. 28:18; Gen. 29:25; Gen. 31:55; Gen. 32:24; Gen. 40:6; Gen. 41:8; Gen. 44:3 Ps. 5:3; Ps. 30:5; Ps. 46:5; Ps. 49:14; Ps. 55:17; Ps. 59:16; Ps. 88:13; Ps. 90:5; Ps. 90:6; Ps. 90:14; Ps. 92:2; Ps. 143:8; 

Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place - Got up is anistemi which means to arise and is the same verb used by Jesus Himself teaching that He would be killed (crucified) and "after three days arise again (anistemi)" (Mk 8:31) an event that also occurred early one Sunday morning (cf Mk 16:2 = "Very early [proi] on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen [anistemi].", Jn 20:1 = "Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early [proi] to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.")! Hallelujah!  Secluded place is the same Greek word eremos translated earlier as wilderness, the place of His temptations by the devil (Mk 1:12-13+, cf Mt 4:1+) and the site of the ministry of John the Baptist (Mk 1:3-4+)! 

The only other passage that has early morning describes Ezra the priest reading the Word of God to the people

Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law. (Nehemiah 8:2-3)

The related phrase early in the morning is used 33x in the Bible with some interesting associations - Gen. 19:27; Gen. 20:8; Gen. 21:14; Gen. 22:3; Gen. 28:18; Gen. 31:55; Exod. 8:20; Exod. 9:13; Exod. 24:4; Exod. 34:4; Jos. 3:1; Jos. 6:12; Jos. 7:16; Jos. 8:10; Jdg. 6:28; Jdg. 19:5; Jdg. 19:8; 1 Sam. 1:19; 1 Sam. 15:12; 1 Sam. 17:20; 1 Sam. 29:10; 2 Ki. 3:22; 2 Ki. 19:35; 2 Chr. 20:20; Job 1:5; Prov. 27:14; Isa. 5:11; Isa. 37:36; Matt. 20:1; Mk. 15:1; Lk. 21:38; Lk. 24:22; Jn. 8:2

And was praying there - Praying is in the imperfect tense which pictures Jesus as praying through the early morning hours. What is He praying? The Gospels do not tell us, but the context at least gives us a clue, for Mark 1:38 says " so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” So it is at least a reasonable assumption to say that Jesus to some degree was praying in preparation for preaching -- praying for spiritual power, praying for ears and hearts to be open to spiritual truth (because of 1 Cor 2:14+, Lk 24:45+), etc. If this is the case, it is a good pattern for all preachers of the Word to seek to set aside time to saturate their preparation for preaching with prayer before the presentation of their preaching, so that the Spirit might touch them and their message with sacred anointing from the Lord God! (See quote from Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones - Sacred Anointing - then Listen to the 5 minute exhortation The Missing Presence of God by Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones)

In the Lord’s service we cannot “run on empty”!
Jesus shows us “to give out you must take in!”

McGee points out "We’ve gone through a busy day with Him, and you would think that after such an exhausting Sabbath Day, He would sleep late the next morning. But we read" was praying! McGee goes on to add "I know a lot of preachers take Monday off after a busy Sunday. I don’t blame them for that. I formerly did it myself, but I haven’t done it for quite a few years now. No, we see Jesus rising up early to go to a solitary place to pray. What a lesson this is for us."

Was praying (4336)(proseuchomai  pros = toward, facing, before [emphasizing the direct approach of the one who prays in seeking God’s face] + euchomai = originally to speak out, utter aloud, express a wish, then to pray or to vow. Greek technical term for invoking a deity) in the NT is always used of prayer addressed to God (to Him as the object of faith and the One who will answer one’s prayer) and means to speak consciously (with or without vocalization) to Him, with a definite aim (See study of noun proseuche). It is notable that at the very inauguration of His ministry as He was baptized by John, Lk 3:21 records that He was praying! And then again at the very end of His ministry, He was praying (Lk 22:44+, Lk 23:34+).

Proseuchomai encompasses all the aspects of prayer -- submission, confession, petition, supplication (may concern one's own need), intercession (concerned with the needs of others), praise, and thanksgiving.

Vine says that proseuchomai carries with it a notion of worship (but see the Greek word for worship = proskuneo) which is not present in the other words for prayer (eg, aiteo, deomai, both of which involve spoken supplication)

Wuest adds that the prefixed preposition pros...

gives it the idea of definiteness and directness in prayer, with the consciousness on the part of the one praying that he is talking face to face with God...(thus proseuchomai) speaks also of the consciousness on the part of the one who prays, of the fact of God’s presence and His listening ear. 

Life Application Study Bible - It's easy to be so caught up with ministry that you neglect times of solitude, individual worship, and prayer. Perhaps you need to redesign your schedule to find time for earnest prayer. It is vitally important to: (1) seek the Lord before your busy schedule takes over your thoughts; (2) withdraw from noise and demands so you can focus on God; (3) take Jesus' attitude of regular communion with the Father; (4) reflect on the priorities Jesus had for his life; (5) determine to pray on a more regular basis, not just in times of crisis. If prayer was important for Jesus, then it must be important for his followers. Pray—even if you have to get up very early in the morning to do it!

Brian Bell quips that "Most of us our too busy to stop & do nothing. We feel like we need to be active every minute of the day. We confuse busy-ness with being productive, successful, efficient, effective and meaningful. Let’s admit it...prayer just doesn't feel busy or active enough! Busy makes us feel worth while. If we’re not doing something it makes us feel we are feel lazy, or that we’re wasting our time." (Sermon

E. Stanley Jones once described prayer as “a time exposure to God”

The longer we are exposed to God,
The more we will bear His image! 

Kent Hughes reminds that “Though Jesus was God, He did not live His life as God apart from the Father, but rather as a man in dependence upon God.”

David Thompson on Jesus...praying - There are three times in the Gospel of Mark where the private prayer of Jesus is stressed: 1) At the beginning of His Galilean ministry (Mk 1:35); 2) After the feeding of the 5000 (Mk 6:46); 3) In the Garden of Gethsemane (Mk 14:32-39). Now this was important to Jesus, but it was also a critical lesson to those who will fish for men. They need to be men of prayer. Many times in this book Jesus will challenge His disciples to pray (Mk 9:29; 11:24; 13:18; 14:38). One naturally wonders what Jesus was praying about. He certainly is not confessing sin because He does not have any sin. By the response He gives to His disciples when they find Him, He was certainly praying about the will of God, specifically in His Divine Assignment, which primarily was preaching (Mk 1:38). We will not ever know God’s specific will for our lives if we do not spend time in prayer. Jesus, by His own example is teaching us that. If prayer was a necessity to Him, how much more is it to us? No matter how hectic our schedule, we need personal time spent with God in prayer. (Sermon)

Spurgeon - While it was yet dark, he stole away even from his favored disciples that he might be alone with his Father. 

Look no man in the face till thou hast seen the face of God.
Speak thou with none till thou hast had speech with the Most High.

 C H Spurgeon

Spurgeon - His hard day’s work probably ran on far into the night. Yet, “a great while before day,” he was up at the sacred work of supplication. The more work we have to do with men for God, the longer we ought to be at work with God for men. If you plead with men, you cannot hope to prevail unless you first plead with God. And, inasmuch as our Lord had great success the day before, it teaches us that the greatest success does not release us from the necessity of still waiting upon God. If God has given you much, my brother, go with thy basket, and ask for more. Never stay thy prayer. Increase thy spiritual hunger, and God will increase the richness of the gift he will bestow upon thee.

Brian Bell applies this Scripture on Jesus' praying in solitude - Try scheduling time alone w/God at the beginning of the day!

  • Ps.119:147 I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word.
  • Ps.5:3 My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up. [David]
  • Ps.88:13 But to You I have cried out, O LORD, And in the morning my prayer comes before You. [sons of Korah]
  • Is.26:9 With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early.

One mother heard her 3-year-old daughter answer the phone in the next room, while doing her devotions…"My mom is having her emotions now. Can she call you back?"

“Meet Him in the morning if you want Him through the day!”3 5. Stare into His face…& don’t move! [like the camera!]

I wonder if daily our faces showed, like the cameras film, registering how much exposure we had to God that day, if we’d be a little more diligent to this important task? (Like Moses w/10 comm)

Prayer should end in Action! - When you say Amen, you should hear God yell, Action! At the end of your prayer, when you say AMEN, what ACTION do you do?

  • Do you pray for the sick and then leave it at that? Or do you pray for the sick, and then pick up the phone and call them to let them know you are thinking about them. Do you ask if you can do anything for them? A hot meal brought to their home? Any medicine they need to have picked up?
  • Do you pray for the poor and hope God does something about the poor? Or do you pray and ask God to use you? Do you put actions to your prayer, giving to the poor yourself, or donating food to our CARE Ministry?
  • Do you pray for church/kingdom growth and then hope that God inspires someone to do something about it? Or do you pray and then say as Jesus said, “I have to go somewhere so I can tell someone about the Good News of Jesus.”

When you say Amen,
you should hear God yell, Action!

ILLUSTRATION OF NEED TO REST - Mrs. Lettie Cowman’s book, Springs in the Valley, she shares a tale from African colonial history: It was a century or more ago that in the deep jungles of Africa, a traveler was making a long trek. Natives of the area were hired to carry the loads. The first day they marched rapidly and went far. The traveler had high hopes of a speedy journey. But the second morning these jungle tribesmen refused to move. For some strange reason they just sat and rested. When asked about the reason for this strange behavior, the traveler was informed that they had gone too fast the first day, and that they were now Slide#17 waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies. 2

Daniel Akin - It is interesting to note that there are three prayers of Jesus in Mark:

1) At the beginning of the Gospel and His ministry in Galilee when His ministry is being defined. (Mk 1:35)

2) In the middle of the Gospel after the feeding of the five thousand (Mk 6:46). John 6:15 informs us it was at this time the people wanted “to take Him by force to make Him King.”

3) Near the conclusion of the Gospel when He is in Gethsemane. (Mk 14:32-42) –

  • All three prayers take place at a critical moment in the life of our Lord. –
  • The setting for Jesus’ prayer in each instance is darkness and solitude.
  • All three situations recall allusions to the wilderness and the cosmic conflict of our Lord with Satan and the demonic host in their domain and territory.

Our Lord finds strength in the private solitude of prayer and intimate fellowship with His Father. What a valuable lesson and insight too many of us neglect! (Sermon)

J D Jones on THE POWER ROOM - And let us never forget that what is true of Christ's sermons is also true of Christ's miracles—they cost. Power, one of the evangelists tells us, went forth from Him (Luke 8:46+). Every act of healing was a drain upon His vitality. It cost Him life to restore life to others. Now if that be so He must have been a tired Christ that Sabbath evening. The day had cost Him much in desire and compassion and sympathy, and He might fairly claim to have earned His rest. But it is not of rest we read, but of new and costly activities. (see Mk 1:32,33) All the city at the door, and within a tired Christ! But he makes no mention of weariness. Out of Simon's house into the midst of that pathetic crowd He passes, carrying healing and blessing with Him. What tireless activity is this! Christ spent Himself in the service of men. He lived under the constraint of a great urgency. "We must work the works of Him that sent Me while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4). And side by side with this picture of Christ in the midst of His activities, we have a picture of Christ in the midst of His devotions. "In the morning, a great while before day, He rose up and went out, and departed into a desert place, and there prayed" (ver. 35, R.V.). There is the most close and intimate connexion between the one picture and the other. I was once taken through the engineering shops in the Devonport dockyard. I saw innumerable machines busy at various kinds of work, most of them making considerable noise in the process. Then my conductor took me to a room which by contrast was almost silent, where a great engine was working smoothly and quietly. "The Power-room" "This," said he, "is the power-room." In that quiet room I found the secret of the multifarious activities of the machines in the various shops. In Mark 1:32-34, Mark has been showing us our Lord's various activities. In Mark 1:35 he takes us to the "power-room." Back of all the activities of the synagogue and the street lay a life of secret prayer. In communion with His Father, Jesus refreshed and renewed Himself for further labour and toil amongst men. "A great while before day"—Jesus made time for prayer! He snatched it from His sleep. An Example for us. What an object-lesson as to the indispensable necessity of prayer! We realise the obligation of service in these days, and consequently we have become very "busy." But are we neglecting the "POWER ROOM"? We must keep the balance true. We must never become too busy to pray. "This kind," said our Lord, "can come out by nothing, save by prayer" (Mark 9:29, R.V.). (Mark Commentary)


In the Walt Disney production of Alice in Wonderland, Alice comes upon the white rabbit and wants to talk to him, but he has no time and, as he scampers away, sings the following song:

I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date,

I have no time to say good‑bye, hello,

I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.

When I wave, I lose the time I save.

My fuzzy ears and whiskers took me too much time to shave,

I run and then I hop, hop, hop,

I wish that I could fly.

There's danger if I dare to stop

And here's the reason why,

You see, I' m overdue, I'm in a rabbit stew,

Can't even say good‑bye, hello,

I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.

In this age of fast food, mega-speed computers, around the world information and rapid transit, it is difficult to slow down and spend time with the Lord.

Jesus was also tempted to run life in the fast lane.  After all, He was only going to be on earth for a limited amount of time.  Thirty three years in which to change the world.  And the first thirty were spent in a carpenter’s shop.  By every modern standard, He ought to have been rushing at breakneck speed.  And yet, Jesus knew how to stop. (John Stevenson)

Our Demanding Schedules

The whole city was gathered together at the door. Then He healed many. —Mark 1:33-34

Today's Scripture: Mark 1:32-39

Is your life too busy? Business deadlines, productivity quotas, and shuttling children to lessons and sporting events can really fill up your schedule. It’s easy to think, If only I didn’t have so many responsibilities, then I could walk in vital union with God.

Yet C. S. Lewis wisely points out that no one was busier than Christ. “Our model is the Jesus . . . of the workshop, the roads, the crowds, the clamorous demands and surly oppositions, the lack of all peace and privacy, the interruptions. For this . . . is the Divine life operating under human conditions.”

We read of Jesus in Capernaum: “At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Then He healed many” (Mark 1:32-34). The next day Christ sought out a solitary place and prayed. There He received direction from His Father to pursue a demanding ministry in another place. Our Lord communed with His Father and depended on the Spirit to minister through Him.

Is your schedule demanding? Follow the example of Jesus and set aside a specific time for prayer. Then depend upon God’s power to help you meet each day’s demands. By: Dennis Fisher  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

The many tasks we face each day
Can burden and oppress,
But spending time with God each day
Can bring relief from stress.

To keep your life in balance, lean on the Lord.

Be Still

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! —Psalm 46:10

Today's Scripture: Psalm 46

As I sat in the dentist’s chair, I braced myself for the drilling that would begin my root canal. I was ready for the worst, and my body language and facial expression exposed my sense of dread. The dentist looked at me and smiled, saying, “It’s okay, Bill. Try to relax.”

That isn’t easy to do. It is actually very difficult to try (requiring effort and exertion) to relax (requiring an absence of effort and exertion). Try and relax just don’t seem to fit together—not only in the dentist’s chair, but in the spiritual realm as well.

Far too often I don’t limit my efforts of resistance to visits at the dentist’s office. In my relationship with Christ, I find myself not pressing for God’s purposes but for my own interests. In those moments, the hardest thing for me to do is “try to relax” and genuinely trust God for the outcome of life’s trials.

In Psalm 46:10, we read, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” In the moments when my heart is anxious, this verse reminds me to “be still, and know.” Now, if I can only put that into practice and rest confidently in His care, I’ll be at peace.By: Bill Crowder  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Lord, we know that true rest can be found only in You. Help us to end our striving and to trust that You will provide. In Your loving arms we find rest. Amen.

God knows the future, so we are safe in His hands.

Are You Distracted?

Martha was distracted with much serving. —Luke 10:40

Today's Scripture: Luke 10:38-42

In data collected from over 20,000 Christians in 139 countries, The Obstacles to Growth Survey found that, on average, more than 40 percent of Christians around the world say they “often” or “always” rush from task to task. About 60 percent of Christians say that it’s “often” or “always” true that the busyness of life gets in the way of developing their relationship with God. It’s clear that busyness does distract us from our fellowship with Him.

It seems that Martha too allowed busyness to distract her from spending time with Jesus. When she welcomed Him and His disciples into her home, she was occupied with preparing the food, washing their feet, and making sure they were comfortable. All of these things had to be done, but Luke seems to intimate that Martha’s busyness in preparation degenerated into busywork that distracted her from reflecting on Jesus’ words and enjoying time with Him (Luke 10:38-42).

What about us? Are we rushing from task to task, allowing the busyness of life and even work for Jesus to distract us from enjoying sweet fellowship with Him? Let’s ask God to help us diminish our distractions by making Jesus our focus. By: Marvin Williams  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Lord, I don’t want to miss out on moments of intimacy with You. Help me not to be so busy that I fail to devote time each day to prayer and reading Your Word. Amen.

If you are too busy for God, you are too busy.

Spiritual Decompression

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. —1 Peter 5:7

Today's Scripture: Mark 1:35-39

On May 24, 1883, New Yorkers celebrated the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge, the first steel-wire suspension bridge. This engineering feat, however, was not accomplished without sacrifice. To lay the bridge’s giant foundations in the water, huge watertight chambers called “caissons” had to be used. Men would work in them for 8 hours while under tremendous air pressure.

Returning to normal atmospheric pressure resulted in terrible symptoms later known as caisson disease. It was discovered that a rapid decrease in air pressure releases tiny nitrogen bubbles in the blood. This cuts off the oxygen supply, resulting in nausea, achy joints, paralysis, and even death. Today, scientists know that the use of a decompression chamber allows a gradual reduction of pressure, which prevents the nitrogen bubbles from forming.

Similarly, we need a place to reduce the pressures of life. God has provided a way to “spiritually decompress.” A personal devotional time can be a place where burdens are lifted (Mark 1:35-39). There we can cast all our care upon Him (1 Peter 5:7). By focusing on God’s sufficiency we can experience His peace (Isa. 26:3). Do you have a place of spiritual decompression? By: Dennis Fisher (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

There is a quiet resting place,
Where peace and joy are found;
Where burdens may be laid aside
And faith and love abound.

Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31

Be Still And Know

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! —Psalm 46:10

Today's Scripture: Psalm 46:1-11

In February 1946, the world’s first general-purpose electronic computer was introduced at the University of Pennsylvania. The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) filled a 30-by-50-foot room, weighed 50 tons, and used enough electricity every second to power a typical home for a week. Today, a pocket calculator contains more computing power than ENIAC did.

A decade ago, one observer noted that computers and other hi-tech gadgets have “snuck up on us and we don’t realize it.” He went on to speak of how wonderful it is to go where there are no computers, phones, or radios, or to go to the beach and listen to the waves.

Undisturbed stillness has become more elusive and therefore more necessary than ever to seek. The Lord God said, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).

A respite from activity allows us to focus our thoughts on the majesty of God. A quiet place helps us to listen to Him. Away from voice-mail and e-mail, we turn from our daily schedule to His eternal plan.

In our fast-paced world, we need to be still and acknowledge that God is in charge. By: David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Take time to be holy,
The world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret
With Jesus alone. —Longstaff

Spending quiet time with God will bring quiet rest from God.

Break The Routine

When He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. —Matthew 14:23

Today's Scripture: Mark 1:32-39

When was the last time you read the Bible while sitting under an oak tree? Have you ever prayed while the cool water of a creek ran across your feet? Wouldn’t it be enjoyable to meditate on God’s Word while watching the sun come up over the horizon?

It’s not possible, of course, for all of us to do all those things—but it is possible for each of us to break the normal routine of our time alone with God. Sometimes, the habits of our devotional life can get in the way of our growing closer to God. In fact, at times they can grow stale and boring.

But there is nothing boring about a God who created the earth in all its splendor and variety. There is no lack of excitement in worshiping a Savior who was willing to die a horrible death for us and pay the penalty for our sins. There is nothing common about being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to accomplish God’s will.

So how do we avoid dry devotional times? By breaking the routine of the usual and adding some variety to our personal time alone with God.

In His worship, Jesus found solitary havens away from the busyness of people and ministry (Mark 1:35). We need to do the same. We need to break the routine. By: Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Are you spiritually dry? Try changing the routine of your quiet time with the Lord—a different time, place, method, book of the Bible, or topic.

Time spent with the Lord is time well spent.

In The Morning

In the morning . . . He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. —Mark 1:35

Today's Scripture:Mark 1:23-39

Are you so rushed during the day that you find it hard to take even a few minutes to spend with God? Many people set aside time in the early morning before they get caught up in the hectic pace of the day.

I read about a very busy man who somehow manages to find time for giving the day a spiritual jump-start. He’s Dr. Ben Carson, chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, a position he assumed in 1984 when he was only 33 years old.

Here’s Carson’s testimony about the value of putting spiritual things first: “I’ve found that having a morning ritual—meditation or some quiet reading time—can set the tone for the whole day. Every morning, I spend a half-hour reading the Bible, especially the book of Proverbs. There’s so much wisdom there. During the day, if I encounter a frustrating situation, I think back to one of the verses that I read that morning.”

Jesus faced busy days filled with demanding crowds of people. In Mark’s gospel we read, “In the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (1:35).

Do you take time to read God’s Word and pray? Try it in the morning. It can transform your day. By: Vernon Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

In the stillness of the morning,
Before a busy day of care,
How sweet to be alone with God
Through His holy Word and prayer.

Let Christ be first in your thoughts in the morning,
and last in your thoughts at night.

Mark 1:36  Simon and his companions searched for Him;


This is always a good thing to have a "search party," to search eagerly for Jesus!

Simon and his companions searched for Him - Luke 4:42+ records that The crowds were searching (epizeteo in the imperfect tense = over and over - vivid picture of their search) for Him. Undoubtedly they were seeking more miracles! Mark uses the verb katedioko which means to search for eagerly, to hunt for, to track down. One gets a picture of hounds running through the woods tracking down the fox! Swete comments that "“Simon’s intention at least was good; the Master seemed to be losing precious opportunities and must be brought back."

THOUGHT - "They pursued after Him." What an illustration this is of the difficulties of communion! "Scarcely can we turn aside," our hymn says, "for one brief hour of prayer." Jesus could "scarcely turn aside." It was with difficulty He found His "quiet time." Something or other—the clamour of the multitude, the cares of the world—was always following Him even into the desert place. We know this difficulty too. What between the claims of business and family, social and church duties, we have no leisure for the "quiet time." Every hour we are "pursued" by something or other, nevertheless, we must make time for prayer. Meal times and prayer times, as the old saying puts it, are not lost times. (J D Jones Mark Commentary)

Searched (2614)(katedioko from kata - intensifies dioko - pursue) means to pursue (kata = down so "down to the finish") or search for eagerly, hunt, chase. Only use in NT, but over 80x in the Septuagint where most occurrences take on a hostile connotation of pursuing with evil intent (Pharaoh chasing after the sons of Israel - Ex 14:4, 8, 9, 23). The psalmist says "Those who follow (Lxx - katedioko - what a picture! They eagerly pursue) after wickedness draw near; They are far from Your law. (Ps 119:150, but see use in Pr 13:21 - pursues - Lxx = katedioko).  Used in a positive sense in Ps 23:6 where David writes "Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow (Lxx - katedioko - God's two "sheepdogs" named "goodness and lovingkindness") me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." In another positive use David writes "And those who repay evil for good, They oppose me, because I follow (Lxx - katedioko ) what is good." (Ps 38:20)

Only here in NT but frequent in the Septuagint - Ge 14:14; Ge 31:36; Ge 33:13; Ge 35:5; Ex 14:4; Ex 14:8; Ex 14:9; Ex 14:23; Dt. 1:44; Dt. 11:4; Dt. 28:22; Dt. 28:45; Jos. 2:5; Jos. 2:7; Jos. 2:16; Jos. 2:22; Jos. 7:5; Jos. 8:16; Jos. 8:17; Jos. 8:24; Jos. 10:10; Jos. 10:19; Jos. 11:8; Jos. 24:6; Jdg. 1:6; Jdg. 7:23; Jdg. 7:25; Jdg. 9:40; 1 Sa 7:11; 1 Sa 17:52; 1 Sa 23:25; 1 Sa 23:28; 1 Sa 24:14; 1 Sa 25:29; 1 Sa 26:18; 1 Sa 26:20; 1 Sa 30:8; 1 Sa 30:10; 1 Sa 30:22; 2 Sa 2:19; 2 Sa 2:24; 2 Sa 2:28; 2 Sa 17:1; 2 Sa 20:6; 1 Ki. 20:20; 1 Chr. 10:2; 2 Chr. 13:19; 2 Chr. 14:13; Neh. 9:11; Ps. 7:5; Ps. 18:37; Ps. 23:6; Ps. 31:15; Ps. 35:3; Ps. 35:6; Ps. 38:20; Ps 69:26; Ps 71:11; Ps. 83:15; Ps. 109:16; Ps. 109:31; Ps 119:84; Ps 119:86; Ps 119:150; Ps. 119:161; Ps. 142:6; Ps. 143:1; Ps. 143:3; Prov. 12:26; Prov. 13:21; Jer. 15:15; Jer. 52:8; Lam. 1:3; Lam. 3:11; Lam. 3:66; Hos. 2:7; Hos. 8:3; Joel 2:4; Mic. 2:11

Related Resource:

Mark 1:37  they found Him, and said to Him, "Everyone is looking for You."

  • Everyone is looking for You: Mk 1:5 Zec 11:11  Joh 3:26 11:48 12:19 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


They found Him - The verb found is heurisko which gives us our English "Eureka" ("I found it") which Webster's says is marked by usually sudden triumphant discovery. Surely Peter and his companions experienced a moment of "eureka" when they found Jesus in a secluded place

And said to Him, "Everyone is looking for You" - Would it be that that were literally true in our world. These Galileans were looking for Jesus for physical benefits (healing, etc) but not for spiritual reasons.Jesus' clarion call (actually commands) to repent and believe the Gospel (Mk 1:15+) was not on their spiritual radar. Everyone wanted a Jesus that suited their (shallow) fancies, not the life-changing Jesus of the Bible. Beloved, things have not changed much have they! Sadly, at this stage, even Jesus' disciples did not comprehend why He had invaded planet earth! 

Daniel Akin paraphrases Peter (and I think accurately) - Peter’s words almost have the sound of a rebuke, “everyone is looking for you.” In other words, “what are you doing here? This is not where you should be! You need to be with the crowds! We are building a following. Things are beginning to happen. You do not have time to be alone and pray!” Oh, how we are so much like Peter, not understanding the ways of God and how His kingdom will come. Yes, there will be healings and exorcisms. But, there must also be prayer." (Sermon)

J D Jones comments that "Peter, half petulantly and reproachfully. And by that he meant that the people of Capernaum wanted to hear more of the wonderful Teacher, and to see more of the wonderful Healer who had so astonished them the day before. But Peter spoke better than he knew....I read in John's Gospel of certain Greeks who came to Philip saying, "Sir, we would see Jesus" (John 12:21). I read in Henry Drummond's biography that the message the Japanese gave him to bring over to England was this, "Give us your Christ." "ALL men are seeking Thee." Christ is the common and universal need.  "Behold," says one old commentator, remarking on this answer of our Lord, "the philanthropy of Christ." The old commentator is quite right. That is what shines out of this answer, the philanthropy—the broad and all-embracing love for men—that filled Christ's heart. Peter's appeal was a selfish appeal. He would have confined Christ's ministrations to Capernaum. But Christ had a larger heart and a broader sympathy and a wider outlook than His disciple. "Let us go elsewhere," He said." Our Lord was always thinking of the "elsewhere." When the minds of His disciples are full of Capernaum, He is thinking of the "elsewhere" of Galilee. When their minds are full of Judæa, He is thinking of the "elsewhere" of Samaria. And when they have taken in the "elsewhere" of Samaria, He journeys with them to Tyre and Sidon, to remind them of the "elsewhere" of the wide world. "Other sheep," He said, "I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring" (John 10:16).

Spurgeon - For he had endeavored to conceal himself in the loneliest spot that he could find. Possibly, the disciples overheard his groans, his cries, his supplications, as he poured out his very soul in prayer to his Father:


  • "Great multitudes followed Him."-- Mt 19:2.
  • "All men seek for Thee!"-- Mk 1:37.

A SENTENCE which was once uttered in a Roman theatre, and welcomed with thunderous plaudits was abundantly true of the Son of Man--"I am a Man, and nothing that touches humanity is foreign to Me." This was true during His earthly life, and it is true always, and of this we have ample illustration in the Gospel story.

Our Lord blesses man and wife as they live in holy wedlock; He takes their children in His arms; inspires young men and women with the loftiest ideals; warns men against the evil use of wealth and power; promises to those who are willing to pass through this life, denying themselves the joys of home-life, parents, and children for His sake, that they shall be infinitely compensated.

There is no phase of human life which Jesus is not willing to share, and through all relationships and circumstances He waits to breathe the fragrance of perfect love. Is not that a boon which we all need, but which so many miss? Why do so many marriages turn out ill? Is it not often because each seeks rather to get than to give, to be ministered to rather than to minister? If each were inspired by a love that made the other the centre of thought and care and tenderness, the wedding-bells would ring on through all the passing years.

Christ's love is so attractive that when He is rightly presented boys and girls will turn to Him as flowers turn to the sun. Alas! that by our evil example and failure we so often forbid them. How poor is our appreciation and response to His love! We are willing to keep the commandments of a moral and respectable life because it suits and pleases us, but when it comes to following Him and renouncing wealth, position, and self-pleasing for His dear sake, we turn back! We admire His ideals and teaching, but so often go sorrowfully away because we really love ourselves more than we love Him!


Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea.
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered;
Grant me now my soul's petition,
None of self, and all of Thee. AMEN.

Mark 1:38  He said to them, "Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for."

  • Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby: Lu 4:43 
  • for that is what I came for: Isa 61:1-3 Lu 2:49 4:18-21  Joh 9:4 16:28 17:4,8 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


He said to them, "Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby - Jesus says to Peter (et al) in essence "It's time to move on!" He desires to move on to the cities in Judea (cf Lk 4:44+). 

J D Jones - "Let us go elsewhere." In His larger sympathies the Master wants His disciples to share. A young missionary came home invalided. His friends thought that under the circumstances a home pastorate would be the best thing for him, but he himself longed and fretted to get back. "Why do you wish to return?" said one of them to him. "Because," was the reply, "I can't sleep for thinking of them." He felt the call and the pull and the appeal of the "elsewhere." Do we? Do we share in the philanthropy of Christ? Christ is ever on the march to the regions beyond, to the "elsewhere," and if we would enjoy His company we must keep step with Him.

Daniel Akin - It is interesting and instructive that sandwiched or bracketed by the miracles of healing and exorcism, we find the essential elements of prayer (Mk 1:35) and preaching. We should not pass over this lightly or too quickly. Without both, the advance of the kingdom would have stopped dead in its tracks. I believe the same is true today! (Sermon)

So that (hina) introduces a purpose clause and should always prompt interrogation with at least the question "What is the purpose?" In short Jesus came to be a "divine Herald."

I may preach there also - Luke 4:43 uses the verb euaggelizo/euangelizo for preach while Mark uses the verb kerusso used to describe the official activity of a herald (kerux) in the ancient world, who brought a message direct from the king. Jesus was sent forth to herald the good news of salvation from God (Jn 3:16+). The irony is that the "Herald" of the Good News was in fact the personification of the Gospel! The herald also described an emissary when two armies were opposed to each other, and Jesus message was that He was the ONLY go-between (the "one Mediator" 1 Ti 2:5) to offer conditions of peace who are war with God (Ro 5:10+). Kerux was also used of a merchant shouting out his wares and inviting people to come and buy. Jesus clearly saw the gospel as something to be VERBALLY communicated. While it is absolutely essential that our walk backs our talk, it is equally essential that our talk explains our walk. Otherwise, how will people come to know the real reason for the difference in our lifestyle? 

Preach (proclaim) (2784) see previous discussion of kerusso used 6x in chapter 1 - Mk. 1:4; Mk. 1:7; Mk. 1:14; Mk. 1:38; Mk. 1:39; Mk. 1:45

For that is what I came for - "Jesus Christ came forth from God the Father that he might proclaim throughout the land the message of redeeming grace and dying love." (Spurgeon)

Daniel Akin - Prayer and preaching is a one-two punch that cannot be defeated. God had only one Son and He made Him a preacher. No pastor is worthy of the name who does not preach the Word. No church will prosper spiritually without the preaching of the Word. No Christian will grow and mature in Christlikeness without the Word. John Stott said, “Christianity is, in its very essence, a religion of the Word of God.” (Two Worlds, 15). Luther would add, “Let us consider it certain and conclusively established that the soul can do without all things except the Word of God, and that where this is not there is no help for the soul in anything else whatever. (Three Treatises, 23). Jesus went throughout all Galilee, preaching the gospel and casting out demons. He did this out of a life of prayer. This is how the kingdom marches on anywhere, anyplace and anytime. (Sermon)

William Barclay has a good summary of the role of a herald.

Kerux is the Greek word for herald, and the herald was the man who brought a message direct from the king. This word tells us of certain characteristics of the preaching of Jesus and these are characteristics which should be in all preaching.

(i) The herald had in his voice a note of certainty. There was no doubt about his message; he did not come with perhapses and maybes and probably’s; he came with a definite message. Goethe had it: “Tell me of your certainties: I have doubts enough of my own.” Preaching is the proclamation of certainties, and a man cannot make others sure of that about which he himself is in doubt.

(ii) The herald had in his voice the note of authority. He was speaking for the king; he was laying down and announcing the king’s law, the king’s command, and the king’s decision. As was said of a great preacher, “he did not cloudily guess; he knew.” Preaching, as it has been put, is the application of prophetic authority to the present situation.

(iii) The herald’s message came from a source beyond himself; it came from the king. Preaching speaks from a source beyond the preacher. It is not the expression of one man’s personal opinions; it is the voice of God that Jesus spoke to men. (Matthew Commentary)

Mark 1:39  And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.

  • preaching and casting out the demons: Mk 1:21 Mt 4:23 Lu 4:43,44 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Primacy means "the state of being first in importance." 

And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee - Luke 4:44 says in the synagogues of Judea. Jesus would enter the synagogue where the people were gathered for religious services and supposedly to hear the Torah. The irony is that here was the "Torah" Himself (the Living Word Jn 1:1+) entering the places of dead religion in order to preach the living Word that alone could bring life to the spiritually dead! 

MacArthur has an interesting comment stating that Mark 1:39 "summarizes weeks if not months of time as Jesus continued doing exactly what He had done in Capernaum-preaching the good news and overpowering the demons. In this way, Jesus both validated His identity as the messianic King, while also proclaiming that salvation can be found only through faith in His name (cf. Acts 4:12). When He taught throughout the synagogues of Galilee, His emphasis was on gospel proclamation. The apostle Paul would later articulate the importance of such preaching in Ro 10:13-15. (Mark Commentary)

Preaching (present tense = continually publicly proclaiming) is the same verb used earlier kerusso. Jesus was functioning like a herald (kerux) whose mission was to announce to the people the good news of the Gospel, calling for repentance and belief (Mk 1:15+). In fact kerusso is used 6 times in chapter 1 (Mk. 1:4; Mk. 1:7; Mk. 1:14; Mk. 1:38; Mk. 1:39; Mk. 1:45) and thus is clearly a "key word" which emphasizes that for Jesus preaching took preeminence, which means it had "a high status importance owing to marked superiority." 

THOUGHT - If preaching was preeminent for Jesus, it should be a priority with His followers. The truth is that every age has attempted to diminish the importance of preaching God’s Word and ours is no different! Satan's first "attack" was leveled against the Word (Ge 3:1-5+) for he knows that the Word alone has the power to convert sinners and edify saints (Ro 1:16+). The corollary is that if you are a pastor or teacher and are seeking to preach and teach the pure milk of the word that by it saints may grow in respect to salvation (1 Pe 2:2+), then you need to be aware that will very likely need to "Preach the Word and duck!" The enemy will fight you at every step and often he will use people within your own assembly! (I speak from painful experience!) Sadly many pulpits have caved to the pressure and are preaching “sermonettes for Christianettes!"

Steven Cole adds - In his excellent book, Calvin’s Preaching, T. H. L. Parker notes that Calvin’s “high view of preaching did not meet with universal approval either outside Geneva or within”. There were many who complained that they did not like Calvin’s emphasis on the authority of the Word and the need to reform our lives in obedience to God. In a sermon on 2 Timothy 3:16, on the way God’s inspired Word gives reproof and correction, so as to train us in righteousness, Calvin addresses those who complained that they didn’t want his hard sermons on holiness: “What! Is this the way to teach? Ho! We want to be won by sweetness.” “You do? Then go and teach God his lessons!” “Ho! We want to be taught in another style.” “Well, then, go to the devil’s school! He will flatter you enough—and destroy you”...As Calvin put it in the same sermon, “The Word of God is not to teach us to prattle, not to make us eloquent and subtle and I know not what. It is to reform our life, so that we desire to serve God, to give ourselves entirely to him and to conform ourselves to his good will”  (Sermon)

And casting out the demons - Note that this was secondary. Preaching was primary. The miraculous signs were given to authenticate His authority and His preaching. 

DEMONS - Outside of the Gospels, there are only four references to demon-possession in the whole Bible: two in the Old Testament (Saul, 1 Sa 16:14ff.; the deceiving spirits in the mouths of Ahab’s prophets, 1 Ki 22:22ff) and two in the Book of Acts (the Philippian servant girl, Acts 16:16ff.; the sons of Sceva, Acts 19:13ff)? It seems that when Jesus began to minister, the powers of hell knew that they were in a battle to the death, and so Satan unleashed his forces to oppose Jesus! 

Mark 1:40  And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, "If You are willing, You can make me clean."

NET   Now a leper came to him and fell to his knees, asking for help. "If you are willing, you can make me clean," he said.

GNT Καὶ ἔρχεται πρὸς αὐτὸν λεπρὸς παρακαλῶν αὐτὸν [καὶ γονυπετῶν] καὶ λέγων αὐτῷ ὅτι Ἐὰν θέλῃς δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι.

NLT  A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. "If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean," he said.

KJV And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

ESV   And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean."

NIV   A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean."

  • And a leper came to Jesus: Mt 8:2-4 Lu 5:12-14 
  • a leper: Lev 13:1-14:57 Nu 12:10-15 De 24:8,9 2Sa 3:29 2Ki 5:5-27 2Ki 5:27 7:3 15:5 Mt 11:5 Lu 17:12-19 
  • falling on his knees before Him: Mk 10:17 2Ch 6:13 Mt 17:14 Lu 22:41 Ac 7:60 Eph 3:14 
  • If You are willing: Mk 9:22,23 Ge 18:14 2Ki 5:7 
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Parallel Passages:

Matthew 8:2+ And (behold) a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."

Luke 5:12+ While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Comment - Note both parallel passages have behold a command in the aorist imperative emphasizing "Do it now! Don't delay!" As Spurgeon reminds us "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a divine highlighter, a divine underlining of an especially striking or important text. It says in effect "Listen up, all ye who would be wise in the ways of Jehovah!"

R Kent Hughes introduces this section - Realizing, then, that Christ's miracles were parables, we must note that leprosy was especially symbolic of sin, and the healing of it especially a parable of deliverance from sin. R. C. Trench, the great Greek scholar and the inspiration for and first editor of the monumental Oxford English Dictionary, recognized this. Though the leper was not worse or guiltier than his fellow-countrymen, he was nevertheless a parable of sin—an "outward visible sign of innermost spiritual corruption. The nature of leprosy, with its insidious beginnings, its slow progress, its destructive power, and the ultimate ruin it brings, makes it a powerful symbol of moral depravity. If we see ourselves with spiritual eyes, we see that apart from the work of Christ we would be decaying forms of walking death. (Preaching the Word – Mark, Volume I: Jesus, Servant and Savior)

And a leper came to Jesus - The verb for came is simple erchomai, but in Matthew's account (Mt 8:2+) it is the verb proserchomai which means literally to come near and figuratively of drawing near to or coming before God (read Heb 4:16+, Heb 7:25+, Heb 11:6+, Heb 10:22+). This was the verb used to describe the Jews "who draw near" through their Temple sacrifices, coming through the Law rather than coming through grace (read Heb 10:1+). The leper probably did not understand what he was doing but in effect he was drawing near to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need for Jesus was God! And in Matthew's version the leper calls Him "Lord (kurios)" and "bowed down (proskuneo - can be translated "worship")! 

Leper (3015)(lepros from lepo = to scale, peel or lepis = a scale as of a fish - see picture of scaly rash) originally meant scaly or scabby and then was used to describe one afflicted with leprosy. It was was used to refer to an uneven surface of any kind (e.g., a road), but usually denotes a leprous condition of the skin, a serious skin disorder secondary to various etiologies, not always infection with the Mycobacterium leprae (pix), the cause of Hansen's Disease. Leper - 9x - Matt. 8:2; Matt. 10:8; Matt. 11:5; Matt. 26:6; Mk. 1:40; Mk. 14:3; Lk. 4:27; Lk. 7:22; Lk. 17:12. Lepros in the Septuagint (Lxx) - Lev. 13:44; Lev. 13:45; Lev. 14:2; Lev. 14:3; Nu 5:2; 2 Sa 3:29; 2 Ki. 5:11; 2 Ki. 7:3; 2 Ki. 7:8; 2 Chr 26:20; 2 Chr. 26:21; 2 Chr. 26:23. 

Guzik on lepers - The Jews thought two things about a leper: (1) you are the walking dead and (2) you deserve this because this is the punishment of God against you. Jewish custom said that you should not even greet a leper. Custom said you had to stay six feet (two meters) from a leper. If the wind blew toward a person from a leper, they had to keep 150 feet (45 meters) away. One Rabbi bragged that he would not even buy an egg on a street where he saw a leper, and another boasted that he threw rocks at lepers to keep them far from him. One other Rabbi didn’t even allow a leper to wash his face. The only thing more defiling than contact with a leper was contact with a dead body.  For these reasons leprosy was considered a picture of sin and its effects. It was a contagious, debilitating disease that corrupts its victim and makes him essentially dead while alive. Therefore society and religious people scorned lepers. Rabbis especially despised them (Enduring Word Bible Commentary)

William Barclay - “In Palestine there were two kinds of leprosy. There was one which was rather like a very bad skin disease, and it was the less serious of the two. There was the one in which the disease, starting from a small spot, ate away the flesh until the wretched sufferer was left with only the stump of a hand or a leg. It was literally a living death.” 

R Kent Hughes - What is important to note is that leprosy, or Hansen's disease as it is better know today (after the man who diagnosed its cause), is not a rotting infection as is commonly thought, nor are its horrible outward physical deformities imposed by the disease (See picture). In recent years, the research of Dr. Paul Brand and others has proven that the disfigurement associated with Hansen's disease comes solely because the body's warning system of pain is destroyed. The disease acts as an anesthetic, bringing numbness to the extremities as well as to the ears, eyes, and nose. The devastation that follows comes from such incidents as reaching one's hand into a charcoal fire to retrieve a dropped potato, or washing one's face with scalding water, or gripping a tool so tightly that the hands become traumatized and eventually stumplike. In Third-World countries, vermin sometimes chew on sleeping lepers. Thus, Dr. Brand, after performing corrective surgery on a leper, would send a cat home with him as normal post-operative procedure. Dr. Brand calls the disease a "painless hell," and indeed it is. The poor man in our story had not been able to feel for years, and his body was full of leprosy, mutilated from head to foot, rotten, stinking, repulsive. (Preaching the Word – Mark, Volume I: Jesus, Servant and Savior.)

Hughes adds that "it was also thought that those who had leprosy had contracted the disease because of some great personal sin. People assumed this erroneous conclusion because in past history people such as Miriam, Gehazi, and Uzziah had been judged with leprosy (cf. Numbers 12:6-10; Numbers 2 Kings 5:25-27; 2 Chron. 26:19 respectively). (Preaching the Word – Luke, Volume I: That You May Know the Truth)

Anyone familiar with the Law of Moses would have quickly seen the impropriety of this scene 

Leviticus 13:45, 46+ (cf Nu 5:2-4, 12:14, 15, 2 Ki 7:3) “As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered (let his hair be unkempt,uncombed), and he shall cover his mustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ “He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. 

Comment: A person with leprosy, apart from the telltale malignant raw flesh and white hair, was to be otherwise identified by tom clothes, announcement of "unclean" when in the streets and was to live isolated from the community. Jesus knew the Law of Moses and yet He does not chastise this man for (1) approaching Him (recall the 10 lepers "stood at a distance" - Lk 17:12) and (2) for not crying out "Unclean! Unclean!" Jesus saw the man's heart and his intent, not his scaly disgusting rash! And Jesus looks at you and I that same way -- at our heart, ever looking for a heart of Spirit empowered loving obedience (cf 1 Sa 15:22). Every person ever born in Adam (that's everyone) is born in sin and is "unclean" and is need to imitating the leper's cry "Unclean!" When we do, we are in a good position to be touched by Jesus and cleansed forever from our otherwise eternally deadly "sin virus." Have you come to that point in your life dear reader, that you recognize you are "unclean" and need a "touch" from Jesus? If not today should be the day your cry "Unclean" and seek His healing touch! And by the way if you think you are too "leprous" for Jesus to cleanse you, then you need to test Him and you will find out your are not too far gone that Jesus cannot touch you and change your life forever! Notice that leper said "If you are willing," but now on this side of the Cross, we know He is willing for as Mark records "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mk 10:45) And you might also read 2 Pe 3:9 "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." And 1 Ti 2:3-4 "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." So in light of these truths "leprous sinners" do not need to say "If You are willing," but "Since You are willing! Cleanse me Lord and make me whole!"

NET Note - Tearing one's clothing, allowing the hair to hang loose rather than bound up in a turban, and covering the mustache on the upper lip are all ways of expressing shame, grief, or distress (cf., e.g., Lev 10:6 and Micah 3:7). 

Hughes adds "We can hardly imagine the humiliation and isolation of this leper's life. He was ostracized from society because it was thought at that time that leprosy was highly contagious (which it is not). He had to assume a disheveled appearance and cry, "Unclean! Unclean!" whenever he came in range of the normal population. Think about how you would feel shouting this while entering a grocery store or a mall—the pervasive sense of worthlessness and despair....By Jesus' time, rabbinical teaching, with its absurd strictures, had made matters even worse. If a leper even stuck his head inside a house, it was pronounced unclean. It was illegal to even greet a leper. Lepers had to remain at least 100 cubits away if they were upwind, and four cubits if downwind. Josephus, the famous Jewish historian, summarized by saying that lepers were treated "as if they were, in effect, dead men." There were no illusions in this leper's life as to who he was and what his condition was.  The spiritual reality for all of us is that we are spiritual lepers! This is what the image is meant to teach us. But unlike the leper, we are often unconscious of our sin and the pervasiveness of our sinful condition.  Once the great Christian patroness Lady Huntington invited her friend, the proud Duchess of Buckingham, to hear George Whitefield preach. The duchess replied, "It is monstrous to be told, that you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches that crawl the earth. This is highly offensive and insulting; and I cannot but wonder that your Ladyship should relish any sentiments so much at variance with high rank and good breeding." The less we know that there is anything wrong with us, the more full-blown our leprosy is! It is common to say, "Hey, I'm OK!" while we have the death of leprosy in our very souls. (See note below by Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones)(Preaching the Word) 


Beseeching Him - Beseeching is in the present tense which pictures the leper continually imploring Jesus. Imagine the horror and angst on the faces of the strict Jewish crowd! The leper's entreaty reminds me of Jesus' promise in Mt 7:7-8+ where all of the following verbs in bold are in the present tense = “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

Beseeching (imploring) (3870)(parakaleo from para = side of, alongside, beside + kaleo = call) means literally to call one alongside, to call someone to oneself, to summon. Parakaleo includes the idea of giving help or aid.  The primary sense is to urge someone to take some action. exactly what this leper is doing! 

And falling on his knees before Him - Luke 5:12+ has he fell on his face. Matthew 8:2+ has bowed down before Him the verb proskuneo which means to prostrate oneself in homage before another in the full sense of worship, not mere courtesy.  And so proskuneo represents the most common Near Eastern act of adoration and reverence and also carries the idea of profound awe and respect, attitudes that this leper definitely manifests. Ponder the picture! An unclean person (1) approaching Jesus the Holy One and (2) kneeling down, falling on his face, bowing down! The first use of proskuneo in the NT is of the magi who asking King Herod "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship (proskuneo) Him." (Mt 2:2+, cf the magi in Mt 2:8, 11+) There it was the highest on the social scale (MAGI) bowing down to Jesus and here it is the lowest of the low, a veritable outcast bowing down to Jesus. Beloved, if you are reading this and not yet a believer and have believed the lie that your sin is too gross, too heinous for you to be accepted by Jesus, then you need to readjust your thinking and come to Him, the One Who does not even turn lepers away! 

THOUGHT - So here the leper's physical position (on His knees before Him) was undoubtedly also but a reflection of his heart position before Jesus - broken and humble, just the kind of heart God is looking for as David writes in Ps 51:16-17+ declaring "You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite (Lxx = tapeinoo) heart, O God, You will not despise."  Notice in the Septuagint (Lxx) the word for contrite is tapeinoo which means low, not high, not rising far from the ground. And so it speaks of one who is literally, physically low (like both Peter and the leper on the ground before the Lord) but also speaks figuratively of one who is low down in their own estimate, one who is humble, a perfect picture of both Peter and the leper! And we know from James 4:6+ that "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." The leper had placed himself in the perfect position literally and figuratively to be the recipient of Jesus' gift of "grace upon grace." (Jn 1:16+)

And saying, "If You are willing, You can make me clean" - The leper had undoubtedly heard of those with various diseases and how Jesus was healing them (Lk 4:40+, cf Lk 6:19+ "healing them all"). But notice that the leper did not ask to be healed but that Jesus would make him clean! The leper reminds us all that we don't just physical healing but we need spiritual cleansing (cf Ezek 36:25-27+). And as Wiersbe says "This man not only needed to be changed, but he wanted to be changed. Lepers were required to keep their distance, but he was so determined that he broke the Law and approached the Lord Jesus personally. Throughout his Gospel, Luke makes it clear that Jesus was the Friend of the outcast, and they could come to Him for help. The man humbled himself before the Lord and asked for mercy." 

Willing (2309)(thelo see study of derivative thelema; see synonyms boule and boulomai) is a very common NT verb (208x) which primarily refers to exercising of one's will with the underlying sense of to be willing, to desire, to want or to wish (in Jn 15:7 in context of prayer). To apply oneself to something (or to will). Thelo "expresses not simply a desire, but a determined and constant exercise of the will." (W E Vine)

THOUGHT - "It is a pity that he could not go further than to say to Christ. “If thou wilt,” but it is a great mercy that he could go as far as that, so, if you, dear friend, cannot pray a prayer that is full of faith, pray one that has at least some faith in it. If you cannot go as far as some do, go as far as you can. I have often told you to bless God for moonlight, and then he will give you sunlight; but for anyone to say, “I will not pray at all because I cannot pray as I would like to pray,” is a very foolish thing. Say what you can, even as this poor leper said to Jesus, “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” (Spurgeon)

Can (present tense = continuously able) (1410)(dunamai) conveys the basic meaning of that which has the inherent ability to do something or accomplish some end. Thus dunamai means to be able to, to be capable of, to be strong enough to do or to have power heal this leprosy of his disease.  See related topic - GOD IS ABLE. The leper believed Jesus had the power to heal him, which is interesting because there is no record in any of the prior healings of Jesus that He had healed a leper. 

Clean (2511)(katharizo from katharos = pure, clean, without stain or spot; English words - catharsis = emotional or physical purging, cathartic = substance used to induce a purging, Cathar = member of a medieval sect which sought the purging of evil from its members) means to make clean by taking away an undesirable part. To cleanse from filth or impurity. Click here (and here) for more background on the important Biblical concept of clean and cleansing. Figuratively katharizo referred to cleansing from ritual contamination or impurity as in (Acts 10:15+). In a similar sense katharizo is used of cleansing lepers from ceremonial uncleanness (Mt 8:2-3+, et al)

Fruchtenbaum expounds on the significance of leprosy in the Jewish community -  This is the account of the healing of a Jewish leper. How do we know he was Jewish? Because Jesus ordered him to go the the priests and observe the offerings that Moses commanded. Jesus had performed a number of miracles up until this time, but this is the FIRST instance of a Jew being healed of leprosy.   We need to realize that this sign was very special and unique. From the time of the giving of the Mosaic Covenant there is no record of any Jew being healed of leprosy. The case of Miriam was before the completion of the giving of the Law. In the case of Naaman, he was Syrian, not Jewish. Leviticus 13-14 are devoted to dealing with leprosy, more than 100 verses. The priesthood was given detailed and specific instructions regarding leprosy. Only the priest had the authority to declare someone a leper. Once someone was declared a leper he would tear his garment. He would have to move out of his or her community and into a quarantined area for lepers. While this sounds cruel, notice how the Law protected society from the spread of disease before anyone understood the nature of microbes and germs. He would be excluded from Jewish society, and reviled. He would have to wear a face covering below the eyes. He would never be able to enter the Tabernacle or Temple compound. He had to announce himself “unclean, unclean,” when encountering someone on the road. Anyone touching him would also become unclean. A person with leprosy was viewed as having been judged by God. (Life of Messiah)

Dr. Lloyd-Jones on how important it is that people have a true sense of the heinousness of their sin - What is more, unless you have experienced that, unless you have known that, you are not a Christian, you do not believe in Christ as your personal Saviour. Until you realise that you cannot possibly have felt the need of Christ; you may have felt the need of help and advice and comfort, but until you awake to the fact that your nature itself is evil, until you realise that your trouble is that you yourself are wrong, and that your whole nature is wrong, until you realise that, you will never have felt the need of a Saviour. Christ cannot help or advise or comfort you until He has first of all saved you, until He has changed your nature. Oh, my friends, have you yet felt this? God have mercy upon you if you haven't. You may have been inside the church all your life and actively engaged in its work, but still I say (and I am merely repeating what is said repeatedly in the Bible) that unless you have at some time or other felt that your very nature itself is sinful, that you are, in the words of St. Paul, 'dead in sin' then you have never known Jesus Christ as a Saviour, and if you do not know Him as a Saviour you do not know Him at all.

Holman Bible Commentary note on Leprosy - A generic term applied to a variety of skin disorders from psoriasis to true leprosy. Its symptoms ranged from white patches on the skin to running sores to the loss of digits on the fingers and toes. For the Hebrews it was a dreaded malady which rendered its victims ceremonially unclean—that is, unfit to worship God (Leviticus 13:3). Anyone who came in contact with a leper was also considered unclean. Therefore, lepers were isolated from the rest of the community so that the members of the community could maintain their status as worshipers. Other physical disorders or the flow of certain bodily fluids also rendered one unclean (see Leviticus 12:1-14:32; Leviticus 15:1-33). Even houses and garments could have “leprosy” and, thus, be unclean (Leviticus 14:33-57). Jesus did not consider this distinction between clean and unclean valid. A person's outward condition did not make one unclean; rather that which proceeds from the heart determines one's standing before God (Mark 7:1-23; compare Acts 10:9-16). Therefore, Jesus did not hesitate about touching lepers (Mark 1:40-45) and even commanded His disciples to cleanse lepers (Matthew 10:8). Jesus even made a leper the hero of one of His parables (Luke 16:19-31). (Leprosy)

Related Resources:

Mark 1:41  Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed."

NET  Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing. Be clean!"

GNT  καὶ σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἥψατο καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, Θέλω, καθαρίσθητι·

NLT  Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. "I am willing," he said. "Be healed!"

KJV  And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

ESV Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, "I will; be clean."

NIV  Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!"

  • Moved with compassion: Mk 6:34 Mt 9:36 Lu 7:12,13 Heb 2:17 4:15 
  • I am willing; be cleansed Mk 4:39 5:41 Ge 1:3 Ps 33:9 Heb 1:3
  • Mark 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Parallel Passages:

Luke 5:13+ And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him.

Matthew 8:3+ Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Moved with compassion - This description of Jesus "visceral reaction" is found only in Mark when compared with the parallel passages on the leper in Luke and Matthew.  ESV = "Moved with pity." NIV = "Filled with compassion." (Filled usually conveys the sense of "controlled by" as in Eph 5:18+, which was Jesus' continual state = "Filled with Spirit.") In Jesus' day while sick people may have aroused compassion, a person with leprosy DID NOT arouse compassion!  That is unless your Name was Jesus! Matthew records "Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd." (Mt. 9:36) And again "When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick." (Mt 14:14)  So Jesus was not like the Jews but had compassion on this leper.

Moved with compassion (4697) is one Greek word splanchnizomai (from splagchnon = viscera - see splagchnon below) means to experience a deep visceral feeling for someone, to feel it in your stomach to feel compassion for (but it really goes beyond pity and sympathy), to feel sympathy, to take pity on someone. Compassion is the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. This verb expresses an outward flow of one's life in contrast to our natural tendency toward self centeredness. It is notable that 8/12 NT uses describe this deep seated emotion in Jesus. It follows that if we desire to imitate Jesus, we need to be men and women of deep compassion, relying on the Holy Spirit to energize that inner emotion, which is not our natural response! All NT uses of splanchnizomai - Matt. 9:36; Matt. 14:14; Matt. 15:32; Matt. 18:27; Matt. 20:34; Mk. 1:41; Mk. 6:34; Mk. 8:2; Mk. 9:22; Lk. 7:13; Lk. 10:33; Lk. 15:20

THOUGHT - What super-exalted revelation of the Son's and the Father's hearts we see here! Take this to your heart and hold it there with all you have. The Servant-Savior has compassion for your leprosy heart for heart, gut for gut. He does more than understand. He felt the full weight of your sins on the Cross. Take heart! There is Someone who compassionately feels with you for the effects of sin in your life. (Kent Hughes)


Spurgeon - This is a wonderful expression: “moved with compassion.” The face of Jesus and his whole person showed that his very soul was stirred by an intense fellow-feeling for this poor leper. If you or I were to touch a leper, his uncleanliness would at once be communicated to us, but when Christ touches a leper, His cleanliness is communicated to the leper. Oh, how high our blessed Lord stands above us! When we have to deal with certain peculiarly sad cases, we ought to go to the work with much earnest prayer that we ourselves may not be contaminated by contact with gross sinners, but Christ has such virtue in himself that he can even touch the fevered and the leprous, and yet sustain no injury.

Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him - Jesus touched an untouchable, a man who probably had not felt the touch of another human being for years! Jesus the pure and holy One, touched the unclean one. What a picture of compassion and grace (undeserved favor). What a reminder to all of us "lepers" who have been cleansed by His touch. Should we not be the most grateful of people ALL THE TIME, in light of the fact that He has touched our heart and given us new life, new purpose, new hope, not only in this life but the one to come when our hope becomes sight? "He loves, He looks, He touches us, WE LIVE." (Spurgeon)

Stretched (1614)(ekteino from ek = out + teino = to stretch) means stretch out literally, as a gesture with one's hand stretched out. Jesus' stretched His hands out "toward His disciples" (Mt 12:49), to Peter drowning (Mt 14:31), to the leper (Mk 1:41, Mt 8:3, Lk 5:13, cf healing in Acts 4:30). Ekteino is used of the stretching out of Paul's hand as he prepared to offer his verbal defense (Acts 26:1). Ekteino refers to Jesus telling the lame man to stretch out his hand (Mt 12:13, Mk 3:5, Lk 6:10). Ekteino can mean stretching out one's hands with a hostile intent to lay hands on or arrest (Lk 22.53). As a euphemistic figure of speech referring to one's hands stretched out in crucifixion (Jn 21.18). In Mt 26:51 when they came to arrest Jesus Peter "extending his hand, drew out his sword, and struck." In Acts 27:30 ekteino refers to the sailors pretending to "to lay out (stretch out the) anchors from the bow, (Act 27:30). In the Septuagint in Exodus 7:5 ekteino is used of God stretching out His hand over Egypt and deliver Israel (cf Ps 138:7)  frequently of Moses telling Aaron to stretch out his hand and staff (Ex. 7:19; 8:5-6,16-17), and of Moses stretching out his hand to bring plagues (Ex 9:22-23; 10:12,21-22) Paul alludes to the Lord stretching out His hand to the nation of Israel - But as for Israel He says, "ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE." (Ro 10:21-note)

Touched (681)(hapto/haptomai where haptomai is the middle voice which constitutes the majority of uses) means to grasp, to lay hold of with the basic meaning of touching for the purpose of manipulating. Hapto conveys the sense handling of an object as to exert a modifying influence upon it or upon oneself. The majority of the 39 uses are in the Gospels and are associated with Jesus touching someone (or someone touching Him) usually with a beneficial effect. 

THOUGHT - Jesus did not have to touch the leper. He could have healed any way He wanted. But Jesus delighted in touching the downcast, distressed and diseased. We should imitate His patter. 

THOUGHT - "When Jesus touched the leper, He contracted the leper's defilement; but He also conveyed His health! Is this not what He did for us on the cross when He was made sin for us? (2 Cor. 5:21+) (Wiersbe)

Kent Hughes - I once counseled a lonely man who was not a Christian. He had no family that cared. He belonged to no church. In describing his loneliness, he said that he had his hair cut once a week, just to have someone touch him with no misunderstanding. Imagine that leper's longing for a touch or a caress. Time stood still as Christ touched him. As Bishop Westcott says, the word "expresses more than superficial contact." It is often translated, "to take hold of." Jesus, at the very least, placed his hand firmly on the leper. We cannot attempt to adequately describe the ecstacy that coursed through the leper's body. The onlookers were shocked. The disciples were shocked. Jesus was now ceremonially unclean—and besides he might catch the disease, they thought....We will never affect others as Christ did unless there is contact and identification. We have to be willing to take the hand of those whom we would help. Sometimes a touch, caring involvement, will do a thousand times more than our theology. This is what all churches need to do. We are great in theory. We are careful about our doctrine. But we need to lay our hand on some rotting flesh in our neighborhood, in the executive towers where we work, in the city slums. We cannot expect this to be only the job of missionaries because a church which does not regularly place its hand on the rotting humanity around it will not be sending missionaries to do so either. (Ibid)

And said to him, "I am willing - Jesus is always willing to heal and cleanse the sinful soul who seeks salvation from Him! He turns no broken and contrite spirit away empty handed! Someone should make a T-shirt with the logo "JESUS IS WILLING!" It would prompt spectators to ask "Willing to do what?" And then "cleansed lepers" would have an opportunity to give a witness even as Jesus commanded this cleansed leper to do! 

Be cleansed was command in the aorist imperative to the leper to be cleansed and do it now! Now ponder that a moment. Could the leper even obey this in his own power? Of course not. He did not have the power. This command was evidence of Jesus' supernatural power, which the leper gladly received. Jesus' command was actually given (in a sense) to the leper's leprosy which reminds us of His commands to other natural phenomena such as the great storm of wind (Mk 4:37KJV) which immediately ceased when He commanded "Hush, be still" (Mk 4:39+) or when "He rebuked the fever and it left" Peter's mother-in-law (Lk 4:39+). 

I am willing (2309) thelo in present tense = continually. Indeed Jesus is ever willing and able to heal any humble soul who has been crippled by Adam's fall.

Be cleansed (2511) katharizo in the aorist imperative (Do this now!) and passive voice indicating the cleansing came from an outside source (Jesus' omnipotence to heal). Katharizo is frequent in the Gospels - Matt. 8:2-3; 10:8; 11:5; 23:25-26; Mk. 1:40-42; 7:19; Lk. 4:27; 5:12-13; 7:22; 11:39; 17:14,17. Luke also uses katharizo in Acts (Acts 10:15; 11:9; 15:9). Katharizo is used 4 times in the story of Naaman (2 Ki 5:10, 12, 13, 14).

Bill Gaither wrote the words of the famous song He touched Me in 1963 being inspired by Jesus' touch healing the leper in Mark's Gospel.

He touched Me

Shackled by a heavy burden
'Neath a load of guilt and shame
Then the hand of Jesus touched me
And now I am no longer the same.

He touched, oh, he touched me
And oh the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened, and now I know
He touched me, and made me whole.

Since i've met this blessed savior
Since he's cleansed and made me whole
I will never cease to praise him
I'll shout it while eternity rolls.

Oh! he touched me! Oh! he touched me!
He touched me! And Oh the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened, and now I know
He touched me, and made me whole.

Spurgeon on Jesus' wonderful words "Be cleansed" -  Primeval darkness heard the Almighty fiat, "light be," (Genesis 1:3) and straightway light was, and the word of the Lord Jesus is equal in majesty to that ancient word of power. Redemption like Creation has its word of might. Jesus speaks and it is done. Leprosy yielded to no human remedies, but it fled at once at the Lord's "I will." The disease exhibited no hopeful signs or tokens of recovery, nature contributed nothing to its own healing, but the unaided word effected the entire work on the spot and forever. The sinner is in a plight more miserable than the leper; let him imitate his example and go to Jesus, "beseeching him and kneeling down to him." Let him exercise what little faith he has, even though it should go no further than "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean"; and there need be no doubt as to the result of the application. Jesus heals all who come, and casts out none. In reading the narrative in which our morning's text occurs, it is worthy of devout notice that Jesus touched the leper. This unclean person had broken through the regulations of the ceremonial law and pressed into the house, but Jesus so far from chiding him broke through the law Himself in order to meet him. He made an interchange with the leper, for while He cleansed him, he contracted by that touch a Levitical defilement. Even so Jesus Christ was made sin for us, although in himself he knew no sin , that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21+, Heb 4:15+). O that poor sinners would go to Jesus, believing in the power of His blessed substitutionary work, and they would soon learn the power of His gracious touch. That HAND which multiplied the loaves, which saved sinking Peter, which upholds afflicted saints, which crowns believers, that same hand will touch every seeking sinner, and in a moment make him clean. The love of Jesus is the source of salvation. He loves, He looks, He touches us, WE LIVE.

Kent Hughes - it is very clear from Mark's Gospel that the Lord delighted in touching needy people. There are no less than eight touches recorded in the Gospel of Mark.

1. When Christ healed Peter's mother-in-law, he took her by the hand and raised her up (Mark 1:31).

2. He laid his hand on the leper (Mark 1:41).

3. When he healed Jarius's little daughter, he took her by the hand and said, "Talitha koum!" (which means, 'Little girl, I say to you, get up!')" (Mark 5:41).

4. Next He "lay his hands on a few sick people and healed them" (Mark 6:5).

5. When he encountered the deaf and dumb man, the Apostle Mark says, "After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, 'Ephphatha!' (which means, 'Be opened'!)" (Mark 7:33).

6. Later he did almost the same thing for the blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:23).

7. In the midst of his busy ministry, he repeatedly took little children in his arms (Mark 9:36 and Mark 10:16).

8. Finally we see him raising up the formerly demonized boy (Mark 9:27). (Preaching the Word – Mark, Volume I: Jesus, Servant and Savior)

Global Prayer Digest -  The Dalits of India are the modern day equivalent of this untouchable leper (another article on the Dalits). Snippets related to the Dalits

To be untouchable, according to Indian-Hindu tradition, is to be undesirable, or unworthy of any sort of consideration or provision by society. This translates into frequent joblessness, lack of education and lifelong poverty. 

The Hindu caste system is very rigid, and there is no hope of ever escaping the caste into which one is born. 

In India, the dalits are approximately 300 million people who are deemed “untouchable” and comprise the lowest rung of the Hindu caste system. Since the origin of this system 3,000 years ago, the Dalits have lived in bondage to the code of caste. They have been unable to escape their fate and are deprived of even the most basic liberties and privileges, including the freedom to decide where to live, work and worship.

Omika finished her street sweeping early so she could begin her date with destiny. She joined three other scheduled caste women in a protest. As “untouchable” Dalits, the Haddi people are banned from Hindu temples. How can they worship their gods? How can they “gain favor” to reincarnate to a higher status? If they cannot appease the gods, their spirits are doomed to remain untouchable forever. So these four untouchable women trooped into a Hindu temple in a village of Orissa. When the upper caste villagers saw their offense, they joined with Hindu priests to beat the women. The priests shouted filthy language at them. The temple council demanded 1,000 rupees to purify the temple. That money, about $20 US, equals a full month’s income for these Haddi families. 

Christianity has been and still is seen by most Indians as the religion of the poor, and the “untouchable” Dalits. That’s because when missionaries from William Carey’s day came in contact with the outcastes, and they felt the love and the care of the missionaries, they were the first people to respond.

Evangelists and church planters working in all parts of the world have discovered a common factor in reaching the unreached people in their target areas: usually those most receptive to the gospel are those who are the poorest. In all provinces in India the dalits (the “untouchable” communities) have been the most responsive people group when they hear the good news. For those who have nothing to lose, it’s easy to see that change is probably going to be a good thing. They know that they are needy. 

The Untouchables

Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him. — Mark 1:41

Today's Scripture:Mark 1:40-45

Of all diseases, leprosy is the only one singled out by the law of Moses and linked with sin. It’s not that having leprosy was sinful, nor was it the result of sin. Rather, the disease was seen as a graphic symbol of sin. If we could see sin, it would look something like leprosy.

In Mark 1 we read about a leper who fell on his knees before Jesus and made his request: “If You are willing, You can make me clean” (v.40). It’s the first instance in the Gospels of a plain request for healing—touching and profound in its simplicity.

Jesus was “moved with compassion” (v.41). People normally felt sympathy for the sick and troubled, but not for lepers. Because they were considered in those days as “unclean” both ceremonially and physically (Leviticus 13:45; 22:4), they were repulsive in every way to most people, who stayed as far away from them as possible. Nevertheless, Jesus was “willing” to reach out to this desperate, disease-ridden man and actually touch him! At that very moment the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Why did Jesus touch this man? He could have healed him just by saying, “Be cleansed.” But His touch illustrated His great compassion.

Jesus loves sinners. Do we?   By: David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Jesus taught when He lived on this earth
How to show love to the lost;
So don't be afraid to give a kind touch,
No matter how much it may cost. —Carbaugh

To love sinners is to be like Jesus.

Power of Touch

Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him.Mark 1:41 nlt

Today's Scripture & Insight:  Mark 1:40–45

Dr. Paul Brand, twentieth-century pioneer medical missionary to India, saw firsthand the stigma associated with leprosy. During an appointment, he touched a patient to reassure him treatment was possible. Tears began to stream down the man’s face. An attendant explained the tears to Dr. Brand, saying, “You touched him and no one has done that for years. They are tears of joy.”

Early in His ministry, Jesus was approached by a man with leprosy, an ancient label for all types of infectious skin diseases. Because of his disease the man was required by the Old Testament law to live outside his community. If the sick man accidentally found himself in close proximity to healthy people, he had to call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” so they could avoid him (Leviticus 13:45–46). As a result, the man may have gone months or years without human contact.

Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. Jesus had the power and authority to heal people with just a word (Mark 2:11–12). But as Jesus encountered a man whose physical illness left him feeling isolated and rejected, His touch assured the man that he was not alone but accepted.

As God gives us opportunities, we can extend grace and show compassion with a gentle touch that conveys dignity and value. The simple, healing power of human touch goes a long way to remind hurting people of our care and concern.  By: Lisa M. Samra (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Lord Jesus, thank You for the personal way You reached out to care for hurting people. Help me to follow Your example and extend compassion in my actions.

Caring for others may include a compassionate touch.

Someone to Touch

Read: Luke 5:12–16 

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. Luke 5:13

Commuters on a Canadian Metro train witnessed a heart-moving conclusion to a tense moment. They watched as a 70-year old woman gently reached out and offered her hand to a young man whose loud voice and disturbing words were scaring other passengers. The lady’s kindness calmed the man who sank to the floor of the train with tears in his eyes. He said, “Thanks, Grandma,” stood up, and walked away. The woman later admitted to being afraid. But she said, “I’m a mother and he needed someone to touch.” While better judgment might ha e given her reason to keep her distance, she took a risk of love.

Jesus understands such compassion. He didn’t side with the fears of unnerved onlookers when a desperate man, full of leprosy, showed up begging to be healed. Neither was He helpless as other religious leaders were—men who could only have condemned the man for bringing his leprosy into the village (Lev. 13:45–46). Instead, Jesus reached out to someone who probably hadn’t been touched by anyone for years, and healed him.

Please help us to see ourselves in the merciful eyes of Your Son.

Thankfully, for that man and for us, Jesus came to offer what no law could ever offer—the touch of His hand and heart.

Father in heaven, please help us to see ourselves and one another in that desperate man—and in the merciful eyes of Your Son who reached out and touched him. By Mart DeHaan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

No one is too troubled or unclean to be touched by Jesus.

INSIGHT: The healing of this leper would have had great significance to the people. Leprosy was a major problem in first-century Israel, with clear processes outlined for diagnosis and response to the disease (Lev. 13:38–39). It would be reasonable to ask: Why did the person go to the priest instead of going to a doctor? To the people of Israel, leprosy was not simply a fatal physical illness. Leprosy was seen as divine judgment for sin—a physical disease with spiritual roots. Since the cause of the disease was considered spiritual, the priest diagnosed the illness and, if the person was stricken with leprosy, prescribed the appropriate verdict: Isolation from family, home, community, and the corporate religious life of the nation. Not only did the Rabbi from Nazareth cleanse the man of his disease, but also by touching him He welcomed him back into the community.

Jesus still welcomes outcasts today. Whom can you welcome in today?

Seeing Upside Down

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. —Matthew 9:12

Today's Scripture & Insight: Matthew 8:1-4; 9:9-12

In India I worshiped among leprosy patients. Most of the medical advances in the treatment of leprosy came about as a result of missionary doctors, who were willing to live among patients and risk exposure to the dreaded disease. As a result, churches thrive in most major leprosy centers. In Myanmar I visited homes for AIDS orphans, where Christian volunteers try to replace parental affection the disease has stolen away. The most rousing church services I have attended took place in Chile and Peru, in the bowels of a federal prison. Among the lowly, the wretched, the downtrodden—the rejected of this world—God’s kingdom takes root.

Taking God’s assignment seriously means that we must learn to look at the world upside down, as Jesus did. Instead of seeking out people with resources who can do us favors, we look for people with few resources. Instead of the strong, we find the weak; instead of the healthy, the sick. Instead of the spiritual, the sinful. Is not this how God reconciles the world to Himself? “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. . . . I have not co