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Mark Chapter One


Mark 1

The message is new-at least in the absolute and complete character it assumes, and in its direct and immediate application. It was not the Jewish privileges which should be obtained by repenting and returning to the Lord. The Lord was coming according to His promise. To prepare His way before Him, John was preaching repentance for the remission of sins. It was this they needed: remission of sins for the repentant was the great thing, the formal object of John's mission.

Repentance and remission of sins refer clearly to the responsibility of man, here of Israel, in his natural standing with God; and clearing that as to man's state relatively to God, morally and responsibly qualify him for the reception of purposed blessing-morally in that he judges the sins in principle as God does, and responsibly by God's forgiving them all. Hence also remission is necessarily a present actual thing. There is a governmental forgiveness as well as a justifying one, but the principle is the same, and the latter is the basis of the former. Only where it is governmental it may be accompanied by various accompanying dealings of God, only the sin is no longer imputed as to present relationship with God, as in justifying, this is eternally true. In justifying forgiveness as in Romans 4, shewing by its use of Psalm 32, the common character of non-imputation-it is founded on the work of Christ, and hence is absolute and unchangeable. Sin is not imputed and never can be, because the work is done and finished which puts it away out of God's sight: that-eternal, absolute, and immutable in itself-is the basis of all God's dealings with man in grace. Grace reigns through righteousness. Hebrews 9, 10 unfolds this, where the conscience and coming to God, and that in the holiest, are concerned. So Romans 3-5, where the question is judicial, a matter of judgment, wrath, and justifying. It is the basis of blessings, not the end, great as it is in itself-peace with God and reconciliation. Here it was the ground of all the blessings Israel will have by the new covenant (founded on Christ's death), but being rejected, those who believed entered into better and heavenly blessings. In Exodus 32:14, 34, we get governmental forgiveness, not justifying. In the case of David's great sin, it was pardoned when owned, the iniquity of it put away, but severe chastisement connected with it because he had given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. God's glory in righteousness had to be maintained before the world (2 Sam. 12:13, 14).

Here it was a proposal of present forgiveness to Israel, which will be accomplished in the last days; and then, as their long rejection will have closed in governmental forgiveness, they will also through the death and blood-shedding of Christ at least the remnant, be forgiven and justified for the enjoyment of the promises under the new covenant (compare Acts 3).

The prophets had indeed announced pardon if the people returned to the Lord; but here it was the present object of the address. The people go out in a body to avail themselves of it. Conscience at least was stirred; and whatever might be the pride of their leaders, the sense of Israel's condition was felt by the people, as soon as anything outside the routine of religion acted on the heart and conscience-that is to say, when God spoke. They confess their sins. With some perhaps it was only natural conscience, that is, not a really quickening work; but at any rate it was wrought upon by the testimony of God.

But John, rigidly separate from the people, and living apart from human society, proclaims another, mightier than he, whose shoe-latchet he was not worthy to unloose: He would not merely preach repentance accepted by the baptism of water; He would bestow the Holy Ghost, power, on those who received His testimony. Here our Gospel passes on rapidly to the service of Him whom John thus declared. It only sets forth summarily that which introduces Him into this service.

The Lord takes His place among the repentant of His people, and, submitting to John's baptism, He sees heaven open to Him, and the Holy Ghost descending upon Him like a dove. The Father acknowledges Him as His Son on earth, in whom He is well pleased. He is then led by the Holy Ghost into the wilderness, where He undergoes the temptation of Satan for forty days; He is with the wild beasts, and angels exercise their ministry towards Him. Here we see His whole position-the character which the Lord takes on earth-all its features and relations with that which surrounded Him, gathered into these two or three verses. It has been treated of in its details in Matthew.

After this John disappears from the scene, giving place to the public ministry of Christ, of whom he was only the herald; and Christ Himself appears in the place of testimony, declaring that the time was fulfilled; that it was now no question of prophecies or of days to come; that God was going to set up His kingdom, and that they ought to repent and receive the good news which at that very moment was proclaimed to them.

Our evangelist passes [1] rapidly on to every branch of the service of Christ. Having presented the Lord as undertaking the public ministry which called on men to receive the good news as a present thing (the time of the fulfilment of the ways of God being come), he exhibits Him as calling others to accomplish this same work in His name by following Him. His word does not fail in its effect. those whom He calls forsake all and follow Him. [2] He goes into the city to teach on the sabbath-day. His word does not consist of arguments which evidence the uncertainty of man, but comes with the authority of One who knows the truth which He proclaims-authority which in fact was that of God, who can communicate truth. He speaks also as One who possesses it; and He gives proof that He does. The word, which thus presents itself to men, has power over demons. A man possessed by an evil spirit was there. The evil spirit bore testimony, in spite of himself, to Him who spake, and whose presence was insupportable to him; but the word that aroused him had power to cast him out. Jesus rebukes him-commands him to hold his peace and to come out of the man; and the evil spirit, after manifesting the reality of his presence and his malice, submits, and departs from the man. Such was the power of the word of Christ. It is not surprising that the fame of this act should spread through all the country; but the Lord continues His path of service wherever work presented itself. He goes into the house of Peter, whose wife's mother lay sick of a fever. He heals her immediately; and when the sabbath was ended, they bring Him all the sick. He, ever ready to serve, (precious Lord!) heals them all.

But it was not to surround Himself with a crowd that the Lord laboured; and in the morning, long before day, He departs into the wilderness to pray. Such was the character of His service-wrought in communion with His God and Father, and in dependence upon Him. He goes alone into a solitary place. The disciples find Him, and tell Him that all are seeking Him; but His heart is in His work. The general desire does not bring Him back. He goes on His way to fulfil the work which was given Him to do-preaching the truth among the people; for this was the service to which He devoted Himself.

But, however devoted to this service, His heart was not made rigid by pre-occupation; He was always Himself with God. A poor leper comes to Him, acknowledging His power, but uncertain as to His will, as to the love that wielded that power. Now this dreadful disease not only shut the man himself out, but defiled every one who even touched the sufferer. But nothing stops Jesus in the service to which His love calls Him. The leper was wretched, an outcast from his fellow-creatures and from society, and excluded from Jehovah's house. But the power of God was present. The leper must be re-assured as to the good-will on which his dejected heart could not reckon. Who would care for such a wretch as he? He had faith as to the power that was in Christ; but his thoughts of himself concealed from him the extent of the love that had visited him. Jesus puts forth His hand and touches him.

The lowliest of men approaches sin, and that which was the token of sin, and dispels it; the Man, who in the might of His love touched the leper without being defiled, was the God who alone could remove the leprosy which made one afflicted with it miserable and outcast.

The Lord speaks with an authority that declares at once His love and His divinity: "I will, be thou clean." I will-here was the love of which the leper doubted, the authority of God who alone has the right to say I WILL. The effect followed the expression of His will. This is the case when God speaks. And who healed leprosy except Jehovah only? Was He the One who had come down low enough to touch this defiled being that defiled every other that had to do with him? Yes, the only One; but it was God who had come down, love which had reached so low, and which, in thus doing, shewed itself mighty for every one that trusted in it. It was undefilable purity in power, and which could therefore minister in love to the vilest and delights to do so. He came to defiled man, not to be defiled by the contact, but to remove the defilement. He touched the leper in grace, but the leprosy was gone.

He hides Himself from human acclamations, and bids the man who had been healed to go and shew himself to the priests according to the law of Moses. But this submission to the law, bore testimony in fact to His being Jehovah, for Jehovah alone, under the law, sovereignly cleansed the leper. The priest was but the witness that it had been done. This miracle being noised abroad, by attracting the multitude, sends Jesus away into the wilderness.


[1] This rapidity characterises Mark, as does the word "immediately."

[2] It is the fact in itself which is given here, as also in Matthew. Luke's account will give occasion to enter more into detail as to the call of the disciples. From John the Baptist's days they had been more or less associated with the Lord-at least these had.

── John DarbySynopsis of Mark


Mark 1

Chapter Contents

The office of John the Baptist. (1-8) The baptism and temptation of Christ. (9-13) Christ preaches and calls disciples. (14-22) He casts out an unclean spirit. (23-28) He heals many diseased. (29-39) He heals a leper. (40-45)

Commentary on Mark 1:1-8.

(Read Mark 1:1-8.)

Isaiah and Malachi each spake concerning the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the ministry of John. From these prophets we may observe, that Christ, in his gospel, comes among us, bringing with him a treasure of grace, and a sceptre of government. Such is the corruption of the world, that there is great opposition to his progress. When God sent his Son into the world, he took care, and when he sends him into the heart, he takes care, to prepare his way before him. John thinks himself unworthy of the meanest office about Christ. The most eminent saints have always been the most humble. They feel their need of Christ's atoning blood and sanctifying Spirit, more than others. The great promise Christ makes in his gospel to those who have repented, and have had their sins forgiven them, is, they shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost; shall be purified by his graces, and refreshed by his comforts. We use the ordinances, word, and sacraments without profit and comfort, for the most part, because we have not of that Divine light within us; and we have it not because we ask it not; for we have his word that cannot fail, that our heavenly Father will give this light, his Holy Spirit, to those that ask it.

Commentary on Mark 1:9-13

(Read Mark 1:9-13)

Christ's baptism was his first public appearance, after he had long lived unknown. How much hidden worth is there, which in this world is not known! But sooner or later it shall be known, as Christ was. He took upon himself the likeness of sinful flesh; and thus, for our sakes, he sanctified himself, that we also might be sanctified, and be baptized with him, John 17:19. See how honourably God owned him, when he submitted to John's baptism. He saw the Spirit descending upon him like a dove. We may see heaven opened to us, when we perceive the Spirit descending and working upon us. God's good work in us, is sure evidence of his good will towards us, and preparations for us. As to Christ's temptation, Mark notices his being in the wilderness and that he was with the wild beasts. It was an instance of his Father's care of him, which encouraged him the more that his Father would provide for him. Special protections are earnests of seasonable supplies. The serpent tempted the first Adam in the garden, the Second Adam in the wilderness; with different success indeed; and ever since he still tempts the children of both, in all places and conditions. Company and conversation have their temptations; and being alone, even in a wilderness, has its own also. No place or state exempts, no business, not lawful labouring, eating, or drinking, not even fasting and praying; often in these duties there are the most assaults, but in them is the sweetest victory. The ministration of the good angels is matter of great comfort in reference to the malignant designs of the evil angels; but much more does it comfort us, to have the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Commentary on Mark 1:14-22

(Read Mark 1:14-22)

Jesus began to preach in Galilee, after that John was put in prison. If some be laid aside, others shall be raised up, to carry on the same work. Observe the great truths Christ preached. By repentance we give glory to our Creator whom we have offended; by faith we give glory to our Redeemer who came to save us from our sins. Christ has joined these two together, and let no man think to put them asunder. Christ puts honour upon those who, though mean in this world, are diligent in their business and kind to one another. Industry and unity are good and pleasant, and the Lord Jesus commands a blessing on them. Those whom Christ calls, must leave all to follow him; and by his grace he makes them willing to do so. Not that we must needs go out of the world, but we must sit loose to the world; forsake every thing that is against our duty to Christ, and that cannot be kept without hurt to our souls. Jesus strictly kept the sabbath day, by applying himself unto, and abounding in the sabbath work, in order to which the sabbath rest was appointed. There is much in the doctrine of Christ that is astonishing; and the more we hear it, the more cause we see to admire it.

Commentary on Mark 1:23-28

(Read Mark 1:23-28)

The devil is an unclean spirit, because he has lost all the purity of his nature, because he acts in direct opposition to the Holy Spirit of God, and by his suggestions defiles the spirits of men. There are many in our assemblies who quietly attend under merely formal teachers; but if the Lord come with faithful ministers and holy doctrine, and by his convincing Spirit, they are ready to say, like this man, What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth! No disorder could enable a man to know Jesus to be the Holy One of God. He desires to have nothing to do with Jesus, for he despairs of being saved by him, and dreads being destroyed by him. See whose language those speak, that say to the Almighty, Depart from us. This unclean spirit hated and dreaded Christ, because he knew him to be a Holy One; for the carnal mind is enmity against God, especially against his holiness. When Christ by his grace delivers souls out of the hands of Satan, it is not without tumult in the soul; for that spiteful enemy will disquiet those whom he cannot destroy. This put all who saw it upon considering, What is this new doctrine? A work as great often is wrought now, yet men treat it with contempt and neglect. If this were not so, the conversion of a notorious wicked man to a sober, righteous, and godly life, by the preaching of a crucified Saviour, would cause many to ask, What doctrine is this?

Commentary on Mark 1:29-39

(Read Mark 1:29-39)

Wherever Christ comes, he comes to do good. He cures, that we may minister to him, and to others who are his, and for his sake. Those kept from public ordinances by sickness or other real hinderances, may expect the Saviour's gracious presence; he will soothe their sorrows, and abate their pains. Observe how numerous the patients were. When others speed well with Christ, it should quicken us in seeking after him. Christ departed into a solitary place. Though he was in no danger of distraction, or of temptation to vain-glory, yet he retired. Those who have the most business in public, and of the best kind, must yet sometimes be alone with God.

Commentary on Mark 1:40-45

(Read Mark 1:40-45)

We have here Christ's cleansing of a leper. It teaches us to apply to the Saviour with great humility, and with full submission to his will, saying, "Lord, if thou wilt," without any doubt of Christ's readiness to help the distressed. See also what to expect from Christ; that according to our faith it shall be to us. The poor leper said, If thou wilt. Christ readily wills favours to those who readily refer themselves to his will. Christ would have nothing done that looked like seeking praise of the people. But no reasons now exist why we should hesitate to spread the praises of Christ.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Mark


Mark 1

Verse 1

[1] The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ — The evangelist speaks with strict propriety: for the beginning of the Gospel is in the account of John the Baptist, contained in the first paragraph; the Gospel itself in the rest of the book. Matthew 3:1; Luke 3:1

Verse 2

[2] As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Malachi 3:1

Verse 3

[3] The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Isaiah 40:3.

Verse 4

[4] John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

Preaching the baptism of repentance — That is, preaching repentance, and baptizing as a sign and means of it.

Verse 7

[7] And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.

The latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose — That is, to do him the very meanest service.

Verse 9

[9] And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

Matthew 3:13; Luke 3:21.

Verse 12

[12] And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.

And immediately the Spirit thrusteth him out into the wilderness — So in all the children of God, extraordinary manifestations of his favour are wont to be followed by extraordinary temptations. Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1.

Verse 13

[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.

And he was there forty days, tempted by Satan — Invisibly. After this followed the temptation by him in a visible shape, related by St. Matthew.

And he was with the wild beasts — Though they had no power to hurt him. St. Mark not only gives us a compendium of St. Matthew's Gospel, but likewise several valuable particulars, which the other evangelists have omitted.

Verse 14

[14] Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

Matthew 4:12.

Verse 15

[15] And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

The time is fulfilled — The time of my kingdom, foretold by Daniel, expected by you, is fully come.

Verse 16

[16] Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

Matthew 4:18; Luke 5:1.

Verse 18

[18] And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

Straightway leaving their nets, they followed him — From this time they forsook their employ, and constantly attended him. Happy they who follow Christ at the first call!

Verse 21

[21] And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.

Luke 4:31.

Verse 26

[26] And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.

A loud noise — For he was forbidden to speak. Christ would neither suffer those evil spirits to speak in opposition, nor yet in favour of him. He needed not their testimony, nor would encourage it, lest any should infer that he acted in concert with them.

Verse 29

[29] And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

Matthew 8:14; Luke 4:38.

Verse 32

[32] And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.

When the sun was set — And, consequently, the Sabbath was ended, which they reckoned from sunset to sunset.

Verse 33

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

And the whole city was gathered together at the door — O what a fair prospect was here! Who could then have imagined that all these blossoms would die away without fruit?

Verse 34

[34] And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.

He suffered not the devils to say that they knew him — That is, according to Dr. Mead's hypothesis, (that the Scriptural demoniacs were only diseased persons,) He suffered not the diseases to say that they knew him!

Verse 35

[35] And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

Rising a great while before day — So did he labour for us, both day and night. Luke 4:42.

Verse 40

[40] 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.

Matthew 8:2; Luke 5:12.

Verse 44

[44] And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

See thou say nothing to any man|-But our blessed Lord gives no such charge to us. If he has made us clean from our leprosy of sin, we are not commanded to conceal it. On the contrary, it is our duty to publish it abroad, both for the honour of our Benefactor, and that others who are sick of sin may be encouraged to ask and hope for the same benefit.

But go, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing what Moses commanded for a testimony to them — The priests seeing him, pronouncing him clean, Leviticus 13:17,23,28,37, and accordingly allowing him to offer as Moses commanded, Leviticus 14:2,7, was such a proof against them, that they durst never say the leper was not cleansed; which out of envy or malice against our Saviour they might have been ready to say, upon his presenting himself to be viewed, according to the law, if by the cleansed person's talking much about his cure, the account of it had reached their ears before he came in person. This is one great reason why our Lord commanded this man to say nothing.

Verse 45

[45] But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.

So that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city — It was also to prevent this inconvenience that our Lord had enjoined him silence.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Mark


Chapter 1. Jesus' Baptism and Preaching

The Beginning of the Gospel
Fishers of Man

I. Preach the Gospel of God

  1. John the Baptist
  2. Baptism and Temptation
  3. Calling of the First Disciples

II. Power to Cast out Unclean Spirits

  1. An Unclean Spirit Possesses a Man
  2. The Spirit Knows Jesus
  3. The Spirit Obeys Him

III. Power of Healing

  1. Fever
  2. Leprosy
  3. Various Diseases
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament