Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mark 1:21-28

And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, "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." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.

And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

[That second "immediately" (in verse 23) I cannot find in the GNT or any other literal translation. However, it's in the ESV and the NAS. Hmm... I don't think it's something to get hung up about, but if it's just added for literary "flair" or something, I think it should be italicized or something.  I am studying N.T. Greek as a layman, and I have very much to learn yet, so perhaps there is a grammatical reason behind this addition.]


καὶ εἰσπορεύονται εἰς Καφαρναούμ· καὶ εὐθέως τοῖς σάββασιν εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὴν συναγωγὴν ἐδίδασκε (GNT)
And they entered into Capernaum. And immediately on the Sabbaths having entered into the synagogue he taught. (AB)

They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. (ESV)
I'm merely curious how this worked, and I mean by Jesus' just going in and able to teach. I need to read more about this. Did they know Him at this synagogue? Or if you wanted to teach, did you just stake out a section and people could come listen? It's probably not really relevant to anything, but I'd still like to know.

  • In Acts 13:15, we read of the invitation extended to Paul to speak to the people. Albert Barnes records these notes on that passage: "...persons who had the general charge of the synagogue and its service, to keep everything in order, and to direct the affairs of public worship. They designated the individuals who were to read the Law; and called on those whom they pleased to address the people, and had the power also of inflicting punishment, and of excommunicating, etc. (Schleusner). Seeing that Paul and Barnabas were Jews, though strangers, they sent to them, supposing it probable that they would wish to address their brethren."

    (From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
  • Another source similarly tells us that "those in charge of the service decided who would lead the service and give the sermon. A different person was chosen to lead each week. Since it was customary for the synagogue leader to invite visiting rabbis to speak, Paul and Barnabas usually had an open door when they first went to a synagogue. But as soon as they spoke about Jesus as Messiah, the door would often slam shut. They were usually not invited back by the religious leaders, and sometimes they would be thrown out of town!"

    (from Life Application Bible Copyright ® 1991 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.)


καὶ ἐξεπλήσσοντο ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ· ἦν γὰρ διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων καὶ οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς (GNT)
And they were overwhelmed by his teaching. For he was teaching them as [2authority 1one having], and not as the scribes. (AB)

They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (ESV)

"And they were overwhelmed [ἐξεπλήσσοντο] by his teaching. For he was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." 

This "overwhelmed" is translated as "astonished" or "amazed" in many bibles. The "NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon" (by Thayer and Smith, 1999) lists the following definitions for this word (ekplesso):
  1. to strike out, expel by a blow, drive out or away
  2. to cast off by a blow, to drive out

    1. commonly, to strike one out of self-possession, to strike with panic, shock, astonish
  3. to be struck with amazement, astonished, amazed
It looks as though in the common vernacular, we could say they were "blown away" by Jesus' teaching. In trying to understand what this means when it says that He taught "as one having authority, and not as the scribes", I think I can relate.  I figure it would be the difference between someone with an intimate knowledge of the subject matter teaching me, versus a second or third hand account of a matter in which the speaker has only a cursory knowledge of the subject. 

For example, listening to a missionary relate his experiences in the field would most likely involve a great deal of emotion and passion, as they've actually experienced the action firsthand. Whereas, hearing someone give an lecture about that missionary would probably not convey the same "punch" that hearing it directly from the missionary would have.  In this same way, Jesus had firsthand knowledge and an intimate relationship with the Father, so He was able to teach from the Scriptures with that kind of power.


καὶ ἦν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ αὐτῶν ἄνθρωπος ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτω καὶ ἀνέκραξε (GNT)
And there was in their synagogue a man with [2spirit 1an unclean]; and he shouted aloud, (AB)

Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, (ESV)

This man with an "unclean spirit", was he in the synagogue before Jesus entered, or did he enter afterward?  The other thing, when I read this based on my upbringing and understanding of scripture, I think this means he was possessed by a demon.  Is this the complete understanding of Mark and his 1st century audience?  From the context of this passage, I believe that one can deduce this, but I do not want to assume that my understanding is precisely the intended one.

In Word Pictures in the New Testament by Archibald Thomas Robertson, I find this:
With an unclean spirit (en pneumati akathartōi - ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ). This use of en (with) is common in the Septuagint like the Hebrew be, but it occurs also in the papyri. It is the same idiom as “in Christ,” “in the Lord” so common with Paul. In English we speak of our being in love, in drink, in his cups, etc. The unclean spirit was in the man and the man in the unclean spirit, a man in the power of the unclean spirit. 
Unclean spirit is used as synonymous with demon (daimonion - δαιμόνιον). It is the idea of estrangement from God (see Zechariah 13:2). Jesus distinguishes between the man and the unclean spirit. Usually physical or mental disease accompanied the possession by demons. One wonders today if the degenerates and confirmed criminals so common now are not under the power of demons. The only cure for confirmed criminals seems to be conversion (a new heart).
This is fascinating because today if you suggested that someone might be possessed by a demon, the world would probably just as soon consider you as being "mentally diseased".  Mr. Robertson puts it as "under the power of demons" which would include "influenced" by demonic spirits, not necessarily requiring an actual possession.


λέγων· ἔα τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί ᾿Ιησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ ἦλθες ἀπολέσαι ἡμᾶς οἶδά σε τίς εἶ ὁ ῞Αγιος τοῦ Θεοῦ (GNT)
saying, Alas, what is it to us and to you, Jesus O Nazarene? Are you come to destroy us? I know you, who you are, the holy one of God. (AB)

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!" (ESV)
The question is, "what is it to us and to you, Jesus O Nazarene?"
"what have we to do with thee — an expression of frequent occurrence in the Old Testament (1Kings 17:18; 2Kings 3:13; 2Chronicles 35:21, etc.). It denotes entire separation of interests: - that is, “Thou and we have nothing in common; we want not Thee; what wouldst Thou [want] with us?” For the analogous application of it by our Lord to His mother, see on John 2:4."
(Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown)
  • And she said to Elijah, "What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!" (1Kings 17:18)
  • And Elisha said to the king of Israel, "What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother." But the king of Israel said to him, "No; it is the LORD who has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab." (2Kings 3:13)
  • But he sent envoys to him, saying, "What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war. And God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you." (2Chronicles 35:21)
  • And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come." (John 2:4)
"Jesus O Nazarene" or "Jesus of Nazareth":  I'm reminded of Matthew 2:23 here, and I went down a little "rabbit trail" on this one.  Turns out that there really is no passage in the Old Testament that explicitly says that the Messiah would be from Nazareth.  So... what's the deal?

He was born in Bethlehem, but raised in Nazareth (Luke 4:16), so I can see that.  I might have been born in whatever the city the hospital was in, but if I lived in another town I'd consider myself as "coming from" the town I was raised in.  But where would they get that the Messiah would be from Nazareth specifically?  It was apparently the accepted notion of the day that "nothing good can come from Nazareth" (John 1:46), but why was this so?

I looked this up in Easton's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., 1897):

This epithet (Gr. [Nazaraios] Ναζαρηνέ) is applied to Christ only once (Matthew 2:23). In all other cases the word is rendered “of Nazareth” (Mark 1:24; Mark 10:47; Mark 14:67, etc.). When this Greek designation was at first applied to our Lord, it was meant simply to denote the place of his residence. In course of time the word became a term of reproach. Thus the word “Nazarene” carries with it an allusion to those prophecies which speak of Christ as “despised of men” (Isaiah 53:3). Some, however, think that in this name there is an allusion to the Hebrew netser, which signifies a branch or sprout. It is so applied to the Messiah (Isaiah 11:1), i.e., he whom the prophets called the Netse, the “Branch.”
I don't consider this to be an exhaustive search into this question, by any means, but it does shed a little light on this.  Also, I don't know how profitable it'd be to really look into this, rather than to satisfy a curiosity.


καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· λέγων· φιμώθητι καὶ ἔξελθε ἐξ αὐτοῦ (GNT)
And [2gave reproach 3to him 1Jesus], saying, Be halted, and come forth from out of him! (AB)

And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" (ESV)

It's always struck me as odd that Jesus often the demons to "be quiet", then later those that He healed to "not tell anyone about this".  I find it interesting that the demons obey Him, but men do not.  Perhaps this is a commentary on how the fallen angels totally understand Who Jesus is, while mankind arrogantly disobeys our Lord.  Anyway...

When Jesus says, "Be quiet", in this verse, it is the Greek word: φιμώθητι, which I can only find one other place, in Luke 4:35, where it is rendered, "Be silent".  Strong's and Thayer's define this word "to muzzle" or "to close the mouth with a muzzle".

Some other passages where we find some form of φιμώθητι being used:
  • "You shall not muzzle (φιμώσεις) an ox when it is treading out the grain" (Deuteronomy 25:4)
  • "And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless (ἐφιμώθη)." (Matthew 22:12)
  • "But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced (ἐφίμωσε) the Sadducees, they gathered together." (Matthew 22:34)
  • "And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still (ἐφίμωσε)!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." (Mark 4:39)
  • "But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent (φιμωθητι) and come out of him!" And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm." (Luke 4:35)
  • "For it is written in the Law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle (φιμωσεις) an ox when it treads out the grain." Is it for oxen that God is concerned?" (1 Corinthians 9:9)
  • For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle (φιμωσεις) an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages." (1 Timothy 5:18)
  • "For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence (φιμουν) the ignorance of foolish people." (1 Peter 2:15)
This particular form of this Greek verb is used only in Mark 1:25 and Luke 4:35:
It is a verb in the aorist passive tense, pointing to a singular second person [you].

(As best as I can decipher, this "aorist passive tense" suggests that the action in the verb occurred in the past and is a completed action, versus one that started in the past and continues now.  The idea is "to be muzzled", as in the object was muzzled, not continuing to be muzzled; the past action was complete and done.)

This is not Jesus requesting that the man merely "be quiet", but was a command from our Lord to "shut your mouth" with the stress on keeping silent on the testimony of Who Jesus is.

What is happening here?  In verse 23, I explored a little bit about what it meant that this man is possessed by a demon.  So, to whom is Jesus talking?  The man or the demonic spirit?  By the phrase, "come out of him", I think it's obvious that He's addressing the demon.  Think about that for a minute, try to grasp what is being implied here: this man is indwelt by a spiritual being.  This is not some trick or metaphorical imagery here, Jesus is commanding the demon to come out from this man, to cease his control or influence on him.  By this one rebuke from our Lord, the demon is dismissed and the man is set free; he was delivered from what was most assuredly a depraved and miserable existence.


καὶ σπαράξαν αὐτὸν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἀκάθαρτον καὶ κράξαν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ἐξῆλθεν ἐξ αὐτοῦ (GNT)
And [4having thrown him into a spasm 3spirit 1the 2unclean], and having cried out [2voice 1with a great], came forth from out of him. (AB)

Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. (ESV)
Temper tantrum?  One last show of anger?  What is meant by this?  Is it necessary that the man be thrown into convulsions as the demon came out of him?  I think merely we're seeing the "unclean spirit" showing his rage and power before he must obey the Son of God.  The parallel passage in Luke (4:35) mentions that the man was not injured by this display.


καὶ ἐθαμβήθησαν πάντες ὥστε συζητεῖν πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς λέγοντας τί ἐστι τοῦτο τίς ἡ διδαχὴ ἡ καινὴ αὕτη ὅτι κατ᾿ ἐξουσίαν καὶ τοῖς πνεύμασι τοῖς ἀκαθάρτοις ἐπιτάσσει καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ (GNT)
And all were distraught, so as to debate among themselves, saying, What is this? Whose [2teaching 1new] is this, that with authority even to the [2spirits 1unclean] he gives orders, and they obey him? (AB)

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." (ESV)
The Jews were familiar with "unclean spirits" and there were Jewish exorcists that employed different means to attempt to cast out such spirits.  Jesus makes reference to such exorcists in Matthew 12:27 & Luke 11:19, and we read of a group of them in Acts 19:13-16.  But what seems to catch this group off-guard is that Jesus did not have to employ some sort of ritual means to cast out this spirit.

For comparisons sake, here is an excerpt from Josephus' The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 8, chapter 2, section 5:
"God also enabled him [Solomon] to learn that skill which expels demons, which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed such incantations also by which distempers are alleviated. And he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they never return; and this method of cure is of great force unto this day; for I have seen a certain man of my own country, whose name was Eleazar, releasing people that were demoniacal in the presence of Vespasian, and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers. The manner of the cure was this: He put a ring that had a Foot of one of those sorts mentioned by Solomon to the nostrils of the demoniac, after which he drew out the demon through his nostrils; and when the man fell down immediately, he abjured him to return into him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed. And when Eleazar would persuade and demonstrate to the spectators that he had such a power, he set a little way off a cup or basin full of water, and commanded the demon, as he went out of the man, to overturn it, and thereby to let the spectators know that he had left the man,"
As you can see, this manner of exorcism was much more theatrical and made mention of the name of Solomon, whereby this incantation presumably obtained its authority.

Therefore, we see that when Jesus merely commands the demon to come out of the man, He did not have to make mention of anyone else - by His own authority did He cast it out.


καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἡ ἀκοὴ αὐτοῦ εὐθὺς εἰς ὅλην τὴν περίχωρον τῆς Γαλιλαίας (GNT)
And went forth the report of him straightaway into all the place round about the Galilee. (AB)

Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee. (ESV)
Well, why not?  Of course it would.  Would it really be any different today? 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jesus Christ is risen!

Jesus Christ is risen!!!

1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,
2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.
17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

(1 Corinthians 15:1-19)