Saturday, August 9, 2014

Gospel of Mark Study (4)

Gospel of Mark Study
Week Four

1.     Geographical markers in Mark 8.27-10.52:

1.  8.27: Caesarea Philippi
2.  9.30: Galilee
3.  9.33: Capernaum
4.  10.1: Judea and beyond the Jordan
5.  10.32: Going up to Jerusalem
6.  10.46: Came to Jeriocho/leaving Jeriocho

            * Jesus is moving toward Jerusalem—he is moving toward the cross!

2.     Comparison of Jesus’ three passion predictions:

Mark 8.31
Mark 9.31
Mark 10.32b-34
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
For he was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he has been killed, he will rise three days later.”
And again he took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to him, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles.  They will mock him and spit on him, and scourge him and kill him, and three days later he will rise again.”

·      By the time of the third passion prediction (10.32b-34) there is a definite intensification of detail (i.e., mock, spit, scourge).

3.     Prediction, Misunderstanding, Teaching:

Jesus predicts his death
Disciples misunderstand
Jesus teaches about the cost of discipleship
9.32 (33-34)

4.     Mark 8.31-38

a.     Peter’s (disciples’) misunderstanding: “Messiah doesn’t suffer!”

                                               i.     Peter is dictating to Jesus what the Messianic mission entails
                                              ii.     Also dictating the terms of his discipleship à “If you don’t do what I want then I will rebuke you.”

b.     “Some commentators see a connection between Peter’s understanding, or rather misunderstanding, of Jesus’ identity at this point and the unique two-stage healing of a blind man at Bethsaida in the preceding context (Mark 8:22-26).  Peter’s understanding of Jesus’ identity is ‘blurred’ at Caesarea Philippi, like the blind man after Jesus’ first healing touch (8:23-24).  Arguably, the second healing touch of the miracle occurs only at the cross, where through a centurion’s confession we see clearly for the first time who Jesus is, ‘the Son of God!’ (cf. 15:39).  This view dovetails with Mark’s introduction to Jesus as both the ‘Christ’ and the ‘Son of God” (1:1), which Mark progressively defines in his narrative through these two telling confessions, which climax at the cross (8:29; 15:39).  Simply put, one cannot understand who Jesus is apart from his work on the cross![1]

c.      Challenge of discipleship: suffering before glory

                                               i.     Need an eternal perspective à not simply a focus on this “adulterous and sinful generation”

                                              ii.     “Glory awaits those who are willing to publicly follow Jesus and identify with him, no matter what the cost.”[2]

                                            iii.     “No suffering, no glory—this is true for both Jesus and his followers!  This text is a sobering reminder to Jesus’ followers that their allegiance to the miracle-working, all-powerful Jesus and his gospel does not mean deliverance from suffering in the midst of this ‘adulterous and sinful generation’ (v. 38).”[3]

d.     Suffering and Glory in the New Testament:
                                               i.     Acts 14.21-22; Romans 8.17-18; 2 Corinthians 1.6; 4.17; Philippians 1.29; 2 Thessalonians 1.5; 2 Timothy 3.12; Revelation 2.10

                                              ii.     Peter: 1 Peter 1.10-11; 4.12-14; 5.10-11

5.     Mark 9.30-50

a.     “Who is the greatest?” v. 34

b.     Disciples’ error: “It involves rather their inability to see the implications of Jesus’ passion for their own lives.”[4]

c.      “receives one child” (v. 37)   serve and provide for

                                               i.     Regarding children

§  “…the long-standing view widely shared across the Hellenistic world, that children were marginal to society and did not ‘count’…”[5]

                                              ii.     “receive” = δχομαι

                                            iii.     Used 6 x’s in Mark (4 x’s in 9.37; 6.11; 10.15)

                                            iv.     “receiving” people

1.     Matt 10.14, 40, 41
2.     Luke 9.5, 48, 53 (v. 53  Samaritans did not receive Jesus)
3.     Luke 10.8, 10; 16.4, 9
4.     John 4.45
5.     2 Cor 7.15  Titus received with fear and trembling
6.     Gal 4.14  Paul received as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus himself; opposed to despising and loathing
7.     Heb 11.31  Rahab “after she had welcomed (received) the spies in peace”
8.     3 John 9, 10 (only two uses of πιδέχομαι)

d.     “The disciple demonstrates his renunciation of power and greatness when he does not value only the work which enjoys great success.  Even the reception of a single child establishes fellowship between Christ and the disciples.”[6]

                                               i.     There are no “small” ministries à everything is important to Jesus!

e.     “The specific dangers discussed in our passage involve seeking personal greateness (9:33-37), discriminating against followers of Jesus who are not under the leadership of the twelve disciples (9:38-41), causing other Christians (‘little ones’) to stumble (9:42), and removing anything from one’s life that would cause one to stumble (9:43-50).”[7]

f.      This passage speaks about Jesus:

o   “…human destiny is primarily dependent on one’s relationship with Jesus.  How one should treat others is not based on anthropology—the value of the human soul or their treatment of the image of God that resides in humanity.  It is based rather on Christology—one’s attitude toward Jesus.  Being received by God is determined by one’s attitude toward the ‘name of Jesus’ (9:37), whether one has faith in Jesus.  Human actions are ultimately not judged on the basis of the value of human life, the infinite value of the human soul, the laws of creation, and so on.  Rather, they are based on whether they are done in faith for Jesus’ sake (9:41).”[8]

6.     Next week: Mark 8.27-10.52

a.     Consider personal applications for what we have seen in the predictions, misunderstandings, teachings sections.

b.     Mark 9.1 speaks of some standing in the presence of Jesus “who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”  Who might this be referring to?  When did they “see the kingdom of God?” 

c.      How is Mark 9.14-29 like the episode with the Syro-phoenician woman (Mark 7.24-30)?

d.     What do you think Mark 9.29 means given the fact that Jesus didn’t pray for the demon to be cast out?  Any applications for us?

e.     What especially moved you, challenged you, etc.?  Any thing new you saw in your reading?

7.     Mark 9.49 “For everyone will be salted with fire.”

a.     “Bratcher and Nida have counted at least 15 different explanations for the verse, and Gould calls it ‘one of the most difficult to interpret in the New Testatment.’”[9]

b.     Some link the verse with the sacrificial system.  “According to the Mishnah salt was put into the carcass of the sacrificial animal in order to soak out the blood.  After the blood was soaked out, the carcass was fit for consumption or sacrifice.”[10]  There are also some textual variants that show this linkage in terms of Leviticus 2.13.  One of these textual variants is reflected in the King James Version: ‎”For everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be salted with salt.”  Fields states:

In fact one gets the feeling that many commentators are not happy with their own conclusions; yet the absence of a better alternative, coupled with the fact that in the Temple sacrifices salt and fire were found together, has led most interpreters to apply the purificational and dedicatory objectives of the sacrifices to Jesus’ statement about the individuals in the passage under consideration.[11]

c.      Fields argues that the Greek phrase is actually a Hebrew idiom literally translated into Greek.  The idea of salt is associated with “destruction” in Judges 9.45: “to sow a place with salt.”[12]  Fields quotes Reuben Alcalay as translating the phrase in Judges 9.45 as “to destroy completely.”[13]  In light of this Fields states the following regarding Mark 9.49: “It would fit this context perfectly to translate 9:49, ‘everyone [who is sent to hell] will be completely destroyed’ (destroyed by fire).”[14]  Fields thus concludes:

Undoubtedly the Hebrew expression literally translated in Mark’s Greek source would have been understood figuratively by its first readers; but once the Gospel left the world of Palestinian Judaism and its Hebrew constituency, the meaning of the phrase was eventually forgotten and has remained ambiguous to most, though not all, interpreters throughout the Christian

     [1] P. W. Smuts, Mark By the Book: A New Multidirectional Method for Understanding the Synoptic Gospels (Phillipsburg, Penn.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2013), 109.  (Bold-face added)
     [2] Smuts, Mark By the Book, 110.
     [3] Smuts, Mark By the Book, 110.
     [4] Robert H. Stein, Mark BECNT (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2008), 441.
     [5] Graham H. Twelftree, People of the Spirit: Exploring Luke’s View of the Church (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2009), 100.
     [6] Adolf Schlatter as quoted in TDNT vol. 2, p. 54.
     [7] Robert H. Stein, Mark BECNT (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2008), 451.
     [8] Robert H. Stein, Mark BECNT (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2008), 451.
     [9] Weston W. Fields, “’Everyone Will Be Salted With Fire’ (Mark 9:49)” Grace Theological Journal 6 (1985), 299.  Online:
     [10] Fields, “’Everyone Will Be Salted With Fire’ (Mark 9:49),” 299-300.  Fields mentions the following as holding some variant of this view: Montefiore, Rawlinson, A. B. Bruce, Alford, Calvin, Meyer, Lange, Lane, Fudge, and F. F. Bruce.
     [11] Fields, “’Everyone Will Be Salted With Fire’ (Mark 9:49),” 301.
     [12] Keil writes about Judges 9.45, “Strewing the ruined city with salt, which only occurs here, was a symbolical act, signifying that the city was to be turned for ever into a barren salt desert.” C. F. Keil, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel: Commentary on the Old Testament vol. 2 (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1996 [1866-91]), 267.
     [13] Fields, “’Everyone Will Be Salted With Fire’ (Mark 9:49),” 302.  Fields is quoting Reuben Alcalay, The Complete Hebrew-English Dictionary (Jerusalem: Masada, 1981) col. 1345.
     [14] Fields, “’Everyone Will Be Salted With Fire’ (Mark 9:49),” 302.