Mark i.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. The beginning of the Gospel. The Greek word[1] and Latin derived from it, signifies the good news, or happy tidings about Christ’s coming and doctrine. The word gospel is from the Saxon, God’s spell, or good spell, i.e. God’s word, or good speech. (Witham) — Some are of opinion that the termination of the first verse should be pointed with a simple comma, thus connecting it with the sequel; and the Greek text seems to favour this sentiment. According to the punctuation of the Vulgate, the first verse is merely the inscription or title.

Ver. 2. In Isaias, the prophet. That in the ancient copies was read Isaias, and not Malachias, is confirmed by the Syriac version, and also by St. Irenĉus, Origen, St. Jerome, &c. It is also proved from an objection of Porphyrius, who says, St. Mark mistook Isaias for Malachias. In the ordinary Greek copies at present, we read in the prophets, not naming either Isaias or Malachias. The words seem taken partly out of one, and partly out of the other. These words, behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee, are found Malachias iii. ver. 1. And the following words, a voice of one crying in the desert: prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths, are in Isaias, chap. xl, ver. 3. (Witham) — In the beginning of his gospel, St. Mark alleges the authority of the prophets, that he might induce every one, both Jew and Gentile, to receive with willingness what he here relates, as the authority of the prophets so highly respected was very great. St. John [the Baptist] is here styled an angel, on account of his angelic life, and extraordinary sanctity; but what is meant by, who shall prepare thy way, is, that St. John is to prepare the minds of the Jews, by his baptism and preaching, to receive their Messias. (Theophylactus) See in Matthew xi. 10.

Ver. 3. See Matthew iii. 3.

Ver. 4. For the remission of sins. Some commentators think from this that the baptism of John remitted sins, though he says in another place, I baptize you with water, but there has stood one amongst you, who will baptize you with water and the Holy Ghost, to shew that he did not baptize with the Holy Ghost, without which there is no remission of sin. This apparent difficulty will be easily reconciled, if we refer this expression to the word penance, and not baptism; so that by penance their sins were to be washed away, and there were baptized to shew their detestation of their former life. (Jansenius, Concord. Evang.)

Ver. 6. See Matthew iii. 4. — Wild honey. Rabbanus thinks it was a kind of white and tender leaf, which, when rubbed in the hand, emitted a juice like honey. Suidas thinks it was a kind of dew, collected from leaves of trees, and was called manna. But St. Chrysostom, Theophylactus, Euthymius, and St. Isidore, with greatest probability, think it was honey collected by wild bees, in the fissures of rocks, or in the holes of decayed trees, which was insipid and unpleasant to the taste. (Tirinus)

Ver. 7. One mightier than I. The precursor [St. John the Baptist] does not yet openly declare our Lord to be the Son of God, but only one mightier than himself. The Jews were not prepared to receive his coming; he therefore wisely led them by degrees to the knowledge of what divine Providence had designed them; he yet secretly assures them that he is the Son of God. I have baptized you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. Now it is evident that none but God can bestow upon man the grace of the Holy Ghost. (Ven. Bede)

Ver. 9. See notes on our Saviour’s baptism, Matthew iii. — That Christ was baptized by immersion, is clear from the text; for he who ascended out of the water must first have descended into it. And this method was of general use in the Church for 1300 years, as appears from the acts of councils and ancient rituals. It is imagined by some, that in the very spot of the river Jordan, where the ark stood whilst the Israelites passed over, our Lord (the ark of the covenant of grace) was baptized by St. John.

Ver. 10. Spirit. The epithet Holy is not found in most of the Greek manuscripts but it is in John i, 32. and 33.

Ver. 11. The Greek printed copies, and some manuscripts read with St. Matthew (iii. 17.) in whom, en o, thus St. Chrysostom, Euthymius, and Theophylactus. Some few, however, have en soi, in thee, with the Syriac and Latin text. (Pastorini) — All the Fathers cite these verses for a proof of the Trinity: the testimony of the Father speaking, of the Son receiving the testimony, of the Holy Ghost descending in the shape of a dove. (Pastorini in Matt. iii. 17)

Ver. 12. Into the desert. For the description of this desert, &c. read Maundrel’s Travels, or extracts therefrom in Rutter’s Evangelical Harmony. Vol. i. p. 169.

Ver. 13. The Greek does not express the forty nights, but we find it in St. Matthew iv. 2.

Ver. 15. As if he were to say: To this day the Mosaic law has been in full force, but henceforth the evangelical law shall be preached; which law is not undeservedly compared to the kingdom of God. (Theophylactus) — Repent, therefore, says our Saviour, and believe the gospel; for if you believe not, you shall not understand; repent, therefore, and believe. What advantage is it to believe with good works? the merit of good works will not bring us to faith, but faith is the beginning of good works. (St. Jerome)

Ver. 16. We must observe that what St. Luke mentions, relative to the vocation of the apostles, is antecedent in point of time to what is here related by St. Mark; since it is known that these disciples on some occasions returned to their fishing, until Jesus called them to be his constant attendants. (Theophylactus)

Ver. 24. The Greek text has here the same as in Luke iv. 34, Let us alone. (Bible de Vence) — I know who thou art. It is a common opinion, that the devil did not know for certain that Jesus was the true Son of God. Yet St. Mark’s words, both in this and ver. 34, seem to signify he did know it. (Witham)

Ver. 25. Christ would not suffer the devils to be produced as witnesses of his divinity; the author of truth could not bear the father of lies to bear testimony of him. Hence Jesus threatened him, in order to teach us never to believe or put our trust in demons, whatever they may foretell. (St. Chrysostom)

Ver. 26. Tearing him: not that the devil tore the poor man’s limbs or body; for St. Luke (iv. 35.) expressly tells us, that the devil hurt him not. It means no more, than that he shook him with violent agitations. (Witham)

Ver. 27. It is observed by St. Justin, (Apol. i. 54.) that the discourses of Jesus were short and concise. St. Chrysostom (in hom. xlviii. in Matt.) says, that Christ here accommodated his preaching to his hearers, and to his subject. The ancients differ as to the length of time employed by Christ in the ministry of the word. It is most probable that he spent about three years in announcing to the world his heavenly doctrines. In the first year of his preaching, he seems not to have met with any great opposition; and on this account it may have been called, by the prophet Isaias, the acceptable year. (Sandinus) — What is this new doctrine? In the Greek, This new manner of instructing. See below, xiv. 2[Mark iv. 2?], and xii. 38.

Ver. 30. It appears from St. Mark and St. Luke, that the cure of Peter’s mother-in-law and the other sick, here mentioned, happened after the preceding narrative, and probably on the same day. But St. Matthew does not observe this order; for having related that Jesus, after the sermon on the mount, entered Capharnaum, and healed the centurion’s servant, he hence takes occasion to mention this and the other miracles, which he had omitted, and which Jesus had wrought at his first coming to Capharnaum. (Rutter)

Ver. 34. The devils knew that it was Christ, who had been promised for so many ages before; for they saw him perform the wonders which the prophets had foretold of him; yet they were not perfectly acquainted with his divine nature, or otherwise they never would have persecuted to death and crucified the Lord of glory. (St. Augustine) — But Christ would not permit them to declare that they knew him. (Bible de Vence) — See Luke iv. 41.

Ver. 44. It was not the intention of Christ, that he should not tell any body; had that been his wish, he would easily have realized it: he spoke thus purposely, to shew us that we ought not to seek the empty praises of men. He bade him also offer the sacrifices prescribed, because the law remained in full force till the passion of Christ, in which was offered a perfect sacrifice, that did away with all the legal sacrifices. (Nicholas of Lyra)


[1] Ver. 1. Euaggelion, Evangelium, bonum nuncium.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The preaching of John the Baptist. Christ is baptized by him. He calls his disciples, and works many miracles.

1 The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

2 As it is written in Isaias, the prophet: *Behold I send my Angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.

3 *The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.

4 *John was in the desert baptizing, and preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins.

5 *And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all they of Jerusalem, and were baptized by him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

6 *And John was clothed with camels’ hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins: **and he eat locusts and wild honey, and he preached, saying:

7 *There cometh after me one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.

8 *I have baptized you with water; but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

9 And it came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee; and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

10 And forthwith coming up out of he water, he saw the heavens opened, *and the Spirit as a dove descending, and remaining on him.

11 *And there came a voice from heaven: Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased.

12 *And immediately the Spirit drove him out into the desert.

13 And he was in the desert forty days, and forty nights: and was tempted by Satan, and he was with beasts, and the Angels ministered to him.

14 *And after that John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God;

15 And saying: The time is accomplished, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel.

16 *And passing by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon, and Andrew, his brother, casting nets into the sea, (for they were fishermen.)

17 And Jesus said to them: Come after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

18 And immediately leaving their nets, they followed him.

19 And going on from thence a little farther, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets;

20 And forthwith he called them. And having left their father, Zebedee, in the ship, with his hired men, they followed him.

21 *And they enter into Capharnaum: and forthwith on the sabbath-days, going into the synagogue, he taught them.

22 *And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he was teaching them as one having power, and not as the Scribes.

23 *And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit: and he cried out,

24 Saying: What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know who thou art, the holy one of God.

25 And Jesus threatened him, saying: Speak no more, and go out of the man.

26 And the unclean spirit tearing him, and crying out with a loud voice, went out of him.

27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying: What thing is this? what is this new doctrine? for with power, he commandeth even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.

28 And the fame of him was spread forthwith through all the country of Galilee.

29 *And immediately going out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

30 And Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever: and forthwith they tell him of her.

31 And approaching lifted her up, taking her by the hand: and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

32 And when it was evening, after sunset, they brought all to him that were diseased, and that were possessed with devils.

33 And all the city was gathered together at the door.

34 And he healed many that were suffering of divers diseases: *and he cast out many devils, and he suffered them not to speak, because they knew him.

35 And rising very early in the morning, going out he went into a desert place: and there he prayed.

36 And Simon, and they that were with him, followed after him.

37 And when they had found him, they said to him: All men seek for thee.

38 And he saith to them: Let us go into the neighbouring towns and cities, that I may preach there also: for to this purpose I am come.

39 And he was preaching in their synagogues, and in all Galilee, and casting out devils.

40 *And there came a leper to him, beseeching him; and kneeling down, said to him: If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

41 And Jesus having compassion on him, stretched forth his hand; and touching him, saith to him: I will. Be thou made clean.

42 And when he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was made clean.

43 And he strictly charged him, and forthwith sent him away.

44 And he saith to him: See thou tell no man: but go, shew thyself to the high priest, and offer for thy cleansing *the things that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.

45 But he being gone out, began to publish and to blaze abroad the word: so that now he could not go openly into the city, but was without in desert places, and they flocked to him from all sides.



2: Malachias iii. 1.

3: Isaias xl. 3.; Matthew iii. 3.; Luke iii. 4.; John i. 23.

4: about the year A.D. 29.

5: Matthew iii. 5.

6: Matthew iii. 4. — ** Leviticus xi. 22.

7: Matthew iii. 11.; Luke iii. 16.; John i. 27.

8: Acts i. 5. and ii. 4. and xi. 16. and xix. 4.

10: about the year A.D. 30.

11: Luke iii. 22.; John i. 32.

12: Matthew iv. 1.; Luke iv. 1.

14: about the year A.D. 31.; Matthew iv. 12.; Luke iv. 14.; John iv. 43.

16: Matthew iv. 18.; Luke v. 2.

21: Matthew iv. 13.; Luke iv. 31.

22: Matthew vii. 28.; Luke iv. 32.

23: Luke iv. 33.

29: Matthew viii. 14.; Luke iv. 38.

34: Luke iv. 41.

40: Matthew viii. 2.; Luke v. 12.

44: Leviticus xiv. 2.