Mark

6:14-29

The journey to God's mountain, 6:1-10:52

1. Growing division, 6:1-8:21

iii] John the Baptist's end

Synopsis

The mission of Jesus has come to the ears of Herod Antipas who thinks that Jesus is John the Baptist come back to life. Mark goes on to recount the story of John's execution by Herod, of how John was imprisoned in the fortress of Machaerus near the Dead Sea for offending his wife Herodias, and of how her daughter Salome charms Herod into presenting John's head to her on a plate.

 
Teaching

This episode serves to illustrate the effect of the apostles' mission described in the previous episode, 6:7-13. The preaching of the gospel in word and sign has touched the whole Galilean countryside. Even Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, hears of the mission undertaken in Jesus' name. Yet Herod, affected by guilt and remorse as a consequence of his execution of John the Baptist, is overcome by superstition. As far as Herod is concerned, Jesus is the Baptist risen from the dead. The episode illustrates the exceeding value of the Baptist, and by implication, the value of the "one more powerful."

 
Issues

i] Context: See 6:7-13

 

ii] Background: It should be noted that Josephus, the Jewish historian, in his work Jewish Antiquities, c.93AD, also relates the story of the Baptist's execution. There are a number of differences in the story, eg. he names the daughter as Salome, not Herodias, see v22.

 

iii] Structure: This passage / episode, John the Baptist's end, presents as follows:

King Herod receives reports about Jesus' mission and assumes that Jesus is a resurrected Baptist, v14-16;

The ground for Herod's superstition is laid out, namely his execution of the Baptist, v17-29:

Background, v17-20:

John's imprisonment, v17a;

Reason for the Baptist's execution, v17b-18;

Herod's resistance to the execution, v19-20.

The execution of the Baptist, v21-29:

The provocative dance routine and a foolish oath, v21-24;

Herod's pride resulting in the Baptist's execution, v25-28;

A dignified burial, v29.

 

iv] Interpretation:

This episode also prifigures Jesus' own execution. Herod rightly links Jesus with the Baptist, although fails to see him as the "one more powerful." Both will stand together in death, unjustly condemned by an evil tyrant, yet death will not constrain the divine Son and thus will not constrain the forerunner.

 

It seems likely that Mark has woven together two separate elements of the apostolic tradition into a single episode. The link is the opinion of the populous and the opinion of Herod that Jesus may be the Baptist redivivus. It is this confusion which Mark uses to illustrate the impact of the mission of the twelve, v7-13. The mission clearly caused a wide ranging response, but not a response of belief in Jesus as the Christ / Messiah. Amazement yes; faith no.

 

v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the pew-level sermon notes John the Baptist's end

 
Text - 6:14

The Baptist's end: i] King Herod receives inconclusive reports about Jesus' mission: he is a resurrected Baptist, Elijah, a prophet. Herod opts for the first option - Jesus is the Baptist redivivus, v14-16.

oJ BasileuV HJrwdhV "king Herod" - the king, Herod. "Herod" stands in apposition to "the king." Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, 4BC-39AD. Officially, tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, but not king. Under Roman administration a tetrarch was an appointed ruler of an oriental province. Antipas' well known desire to be king, reflected by Mark's use of the term here, ultimately brought the Romans down on him.

hkousen (akouw) aor. "heard" - hear, listen. Mark underlines the effectiveness of the disciples' mission, v7-13. "For" even Herod hears of their words and signs, although in a state of guilt he assumes that John the Baptist has risen from the dead. Mark goes on to explain why Herod was so guilty. Cranfield's suggestion that Mark adds the story because he hasn't any information covering the period of the mission, is rather thin.

gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Herod had heard, namely, Jesus' activities were well known.

to onoma (a atoV) "[Jesus'] name" - "Name" in the sense of Jesus' person.

oJti "-" - that. Indicating an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Herod heard.

oJ baptizwn (baptizw) pres. part. "[John] the Baptist" - [John] the one baptizing. The participle functions as a substantive standing in apposition to "John".

eghgertai (egeirw) perf. "has been raised" - has been raised up, woken. It would be difficult to assume that the resurrected powers of John the Baptist are now at work in Jesus if the ministry of both were concurrent. It is likely that Jesus' public ministry did not begin until after the arrest of John.

ek + gen. "from" - out of. Expressing source. A common phrase in the NT, with nekrwn always anarthrous; "from the dead."

energousin (energew) pres. "are at work" - are operating, at work. Intransitive. Note that the miraculous powers are identified at work in Jesus, not the disciples. Since the disciples perform the signs in Jesus' name there is no need to argue that the episode is dislocated and has no relevance to the ministry of the twelve.

dia + acc. "that is why" - because of, on account of. Causal.

dunameiV (dunamiV) "miraculous powers" - powers, powerful works, miracles. Most likely meaning "miracles" rather than "powers" or "acts of power", and as such refer to the signs performed by Jesus and the disciples. Although John didn't perform any miracles, a superstitious and guilty person like Herod would tend to miss the obvious. "Who had come back to life with the power to perform miracles", CEV.

en + dat. "in [him]" - Local, expressing space.

 
v15

de "-" - but, and. Here adversative; "but others said ..."

elegon (legw) imperf. "[others] said" - were saying. The imperfect indicating ongoing action / imperfective. Mark continues to explain the popular understanding of Jesus. They say of him that he is the foretold Elijah who prepares the way of the Messiah, or that he is like one of the wonder-working prophets, eg. Elisha. Sadly, Jesus is not recognized as the Messiah.

oJti "-" - that. Introducing a dependent statement, taken as direct speech by NIV.

wJV "like" - as. Comparative.

twn profhtwn (hV ou) gen. "[one] of the prophets" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

 
v16

Herod has heard of the different conclusions drawn by the people concerning Jesus and as far as he is concerned, Jesus is an apparition of John the Baptist - the one he beheaded has come back to haunt him.

akousaV (akouw) aor. part. "[but] when [Herod] heard" - having heard. The participle is adverbial, temporal. Herod hears the different views and we are given his opinion.

o}n egw apekefalisa Iwannhn "John, whom I beheaded" - This phrase is classified as a casus pendens, an independent substantive phrase which is resumed by a pronoun, here ou|toV, "this one [was raised]." Here "drawn into the accusative by attraction to the relative", Cranfield, 207.

apekefalisa (apokefalizw) aor. "I beheaded" - behead. The phrase o}n egw apekefalesa, "whom I beheaded", is substantival standing in apposition to "John". The construction emphasizes the obvious alarm felt by Herod, although we have no record of him seeking to do Jesus harm. None-the-less, Jesus tends to keep Herod at arms length. "John, he whom I beheaded, this one has been raised."

hgerqh (egeirw) aor. pas. "has been raised [from the dead]" - was raised up, woken. "From the dead" is not in the Greek, but is added to give meaning. We are unsure if Herod thinks that Jesus is actually a resurrected John the Baptist, or an apparition, or a person possessed by the Baptist's spirit.

 
v17

ii] The ground for Herod's superstition is laid out, namely his execution of the Baptist, v17-29. In the rest of the passage Mark explains what has led Herod to the rather strange conclusion that Jesus is a fleshly, or spiritual, embodiment of John the Baptist. Guilt, acting on a superstitious mind, can produce bizarre results.

Mark first sets the background, v17-20. The reasons for John's imprisonment, v17-18. On the basis of Levitical law, John the Baptist openly criticized the marriage of Herodias to Antipas. In seeking revenge for this insult, Herodias drove her husband to arrest John and inevitably tricked him into taking his life, the life of a person Herod admired.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why Herod is agitated.

autoV "himself" - The NIV takes the pronoun as emphatic, but it could be either unemphatic "the aforesaid", or simply anticipating the noun, "Herod", and therefore left untranslated.

aposteilaV (apostellw) aor. part. "had given orders" - having sent. Attendant circumstance participle expressing accompanying the main verb "arrested"; "for Herod has sent his guards to seize John and secure him in prison."

ekrathsen (kratew) aor. "arrested" - seized, arrested. The action is somewhat consecutive; John was arrested as a result of Herod's orders.

edhsen (dew) aor. "he had [him] bound" - he bound [him]. The action as above. Herod had John bound and incarcerated in prison. Josephus says that John was imprisoned in the fortress palace of Machaerus in Peraea.

dia + acc. "because of" - because of, on account of. Causal. The arrest was orchestrated by Herodias.

tou adelfou (oV) gen. "[his] brother" - of the brother [of him]. The genitive in apposition to Phillip. Actually, his half brother.

oJti "whom" - that. Here causal, "because he had married her", ESV.

egamhsen (gamew) aor. "he had married" - he married. Under Roman law Herodias was legally able to divorce her husband Philip, but under Levitic law, Antipas was not permitted to marry his brother's wife, Lev.18:16, 20:21. Interestingly, Josephus, the Jewish historian, says that Herodias was married to Herod the son of Herod the Great and Mariamne II and that Philip the Tetrarch, son of Herod the Great and Cleopatra, actually married Salome. It is not easy to identify the actual relationships and names, common and proper, of Herod's family.

 
v18

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why Herodias had orchestrated the arrest of John.

elegen (legw) imperf. "had been saying" - was saying. Translated as a pluperfect. The sentence explains why Herodias was so bitter against John, a bitterness that drove her to have him arrested.

tw/ HJrwdh/ dat. "to Herod" - Dative of indirect object.

oJti "-" - Introducing a dependent statement / indirect speech, what John was saying; "saying to herod that ...."

exestin + dat. "it is not lawful" - it is not right, proper, lawful. "It isn't right", CEV.

soi dat. "for you" - Dative of reference.

ecein (ecw) pres. inf. "to have" - The infinitive forms a substantive clause which functions as the subject of the verb "is [not] permissible/lawful"; "to have the wife of your brother is not permissible." "John had told Herod that he had no right to marry his brother's wife", Barclay.

 
v19

Herod's unwillingness to execute the Baptist, v19-20. Initially, Herodias's murderous intent was frustrated by Herod's respect for John. He even gave him a hearing, although with limited understanding.

de "so" - and. Possibly consecutive; "and so."

eneicen (enecw) imperf. +dat. "nursed a grudge" - bore a grudge against, angry with [him](when followed by a dative of direct object, as here, autw/). "Had it in for him."

apekteinai (apekteinw) aor. inf. "to kill" - to kill. Complementary infinitive, completing the sense of the verb "wanted/desired". Note the literary parallel between Ahab and Jezebel's interaction with Elijah, and also Pilate and the Jew's interaction with Jesus. The righteous man, the wicked persecutor and the weak fence-sitter, prompts the question, who do I stand with?

kai "but" - and. Here with an adversative sense; "but she could not."

 
v20

gar "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why Herod didn't execute John at the behest of Herodias.

efobeito (fobeomai) imperf. "[Herod] feared" - feared. "Herod had a deep respect for John", Phillips.

sunethrei (sunthrew) imperf. "protected" - he was keeping safe, protecting. Probably protecting John against Herodias.

eidwV (oida) perf. part. "knowing" - The participle is adverbial, probably best taken as causal; "for he well knew that John was a good and holy man", Barclay.

akousaV (akouw) aor. part. "when Herod heard [John]" - having heard [him]. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal, as NIV.

hporei (aporew) imperf. "puzzled" - he was at wits end, in difficulties, perplexed [greatly]. The only example of this verb in the active voice in the HT. Herod was "very much perplexed", NAB, or "greatly disturbed", REB, by the mystery of the coming kingdom as proclaimed by John.

kai "and yet" - and. Here with an adversative edge, as NIV.

hJdewV adv. "liked [to listen to him]" - gladly. Herod appreciated his times with John.

autou gen. "listen to [him]" - Genitive of direct object after the verb "to hear."

 
v21

iii] The execution of the Baptist, v21-29. The provocative dance routine and a foolish oath, v21-24. So it was that an opportune day came when Herodias could force Herod to take John's life. It was at a birthday party when the leading courtiers of the realm were present. The daughter of Herodias, Antipas' stepdaughter, now a teenager, danced before Herod and his guests. In polite society, dancing was usually performed by servants or prostitutes, but in first century Rome it was now "anything goes." Herod was so taken by her performance that he offered her a handsome reward. Obviously, she would know that Herod's offer of half his kingdom was nothing more than a gesture, but the offer does have weight.

genomenhV (ginomai) aor. part. "finally [the opportune time] came" - [an opportune, convenient, suitable day] having come. Constructed to form a temporal genitive absolute clause; "Finally, Herodias got her chance", CEV.

eukairou adj. "opportune" - opportune, suitable. Possibly "festival [day]." "Then came a holiday", Moffatt.

oJte "on" - when. Introducing a temporal clause.

toiV genesioiV (a) dat. "[his] birthday" - on the birthday celebrations [of him]. Dative of time, to one's birth.

toiV megistasin (an anoV) dat. "for [his] high officials" - courtiers, nobles, chief men. Dative of interest, advantage, as NIV; "for his nobles .....". Is the party in Peraea, or Galilee?

toiV prwtoiV dat. adj. "the leading men" - first, prominent. The adjective is used as a substantive, "prominent persons." "The aristocracy of the country", BAGD.

thV GalilaiaV (a) gen. "of Galilee" - The genitive is adjectival, of place.

 
v22

eiselqoushV (eisercomai) gen. aor. part. "when [the daughter of Herodias] came in" - having come in, gone in, entered. A genitive absolute construction forming a temporal clause, as NIV.

thV qugatroV authV thV HrwdiadoV "the daughter of Herodias" - A stronger variant reading autou of the pronoun produces the translation, "his daughter, Herodias." It is possible that Herod had a daughter with Herodias and named her the same as her mother, but it is far more likely that it was his stepdaughter who danced, the girl known as Salome. Cranfield opts for the translation "the daughter of Herodias herself", but notes that the authV may be a redundant pronoun anticipating the noun "Herodias" - an Aramaism. She would have been a teenager at this point in time, traditionally held to be a seductress.

orchsamenhV (orceomai) gen. aor. part. "danced" - having danced. The temporal genitive absolute construction continues; "when the daughter of Herodias came in and danced."

hresen (areskw) aor. "she pleased" - she pleased. There are obvious sexual connotations in the use of this word. Not only did Herod take his brother's wife, he probably wanted the daughter as well.

toiV sunanakeimenoiV (sunanakeimai) dat. pres. part. "his dinner guests" - the ones reclining at table with. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of direct object after the verb "to please." Those who reclined at the table with Herod; "his guests", Barclay.

tw/ korasiw/ (on) dat. "to the girl" - to the young girl. Dative of indirect object. As noted above, she is probably a teenager.

aithson (aitew) aor. imp. "ask" - ask. "Ask" in the sense of "request."

o} ean + subj. "for anything [you want]" - whatever [you wish]. Forming a relative conditional clause, 3rd. class, where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "whatever, as the case may be, ...... then [I will give to you]"

dwsw (didwmi) fut. "I'll give it" - I will give. The extravagance of the offer and its acceptance, serves to emphasize the value of John the Baptist and by implication, Jesus.

soi dat. pro. "to you" - Dative of indirect object.

 
v23

wmosen (omnuw) aor. "he promised" - he made a promise, swore, vowed, took an oath. The offer of "half my kingdom" is, of course, an offer the stepdaughter of a dictator would graciously decline!

auth/ dat. pro. "her" - to her. Dative of indirect object.

polla adj. "-" - much. Variant, used as an adverb. Numerous meanings are possible, eg., "solemnly / loudly / repeatedly."

o{ ti ean + subj. "whatever" - As above.

soi dat. pro. "[I will give] to you" - Dative of indirect object.

eJwV + gen. "up to" - Expressing degree / measure; "up to / as far as" = "as much as."

 
v24

exelqousa (exercomai) aor. part. "she went out [and said]" - Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "said".

th/ matri (hr roV) dat. "to [her] mother" - to the mother [of her]. Dative of indirect object.

ti aithswmai (aitew) aor. subj. mid. "what shall I ask for" - what should I ask. Deliberative subjunctive. The aorist is futurastic. Because the word is in the middle voice it may mean "what claim shall I make [on Herod]."

tou baptizontoV (baptizw) gen. pres. part. "[John] the Baptist" - [John] the one baptizing. The participle serves as a substantive, genitive is apposition to "John".

 
v25

The consequences, v25-28: Her mother prompts her to ask for the head of John the Baptist and she enthusiastically obliges. Herod is caught in a social trap and can't escape. His distress again illustrates John's worth, and by implication, the worth of Jesus.

euquV adv. "at once" - immediately. Temporal use is likely. The girl seems to be eager to carry out her mother's suggestion. Did they plan to entrap Herod together?

eiselqousa (eisercomai) aor. part. "-" - having come. Attendant circumstance participle; "at once she came with haste to the king and asked, saying."

meta spoudhV (h) "hurried" - with haste, speed. The prepositional phrase is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of her coming. Again indicating the girl's eagerness. Possibly "eagerly."

legousa (legw) pres. part. "-" - saying. Attendant circumstance, redundant.

qelw pres. "I want" - I will, wish, desire. As in NIV, the request is most likely demanding. It is possible that linked with hina the construction produces a formal request, "please give me ...."

iJna + subj. "-" - that [you give]. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what she wants / desires.

moi dat. "me" - to me. Dative of indirect object.

exauthV adv. "right now" - at once, immediatly. Temporal; expressing eagerness.

epi + dat. "on [a platter]" - Spacial.

 
v26

genomenoV (ginomai) aor. part. "was" - having became. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verbal phrase "did not what to refuse her", but possibly adverbial, concessive, "although he was greatly distressed", Decker.

perilupoV adj. "greatly distressed" - sorrowful, sad.... deeply grieved. Predicate adjective. A strong word again illustrating the worth of John. The description is of a person in a social trap and unable to escape. It is possible that the sense here is of anger, annoyance; "the king was very vexed", Moffatt.

dia + acc. "but because" - because of, on account of. Causal. The sense here is a little confusing. Was Herod "distressed/annoyed because of the vow and the guests" or "because of the vow and the guests he did not want to refuse her"? Most translators opt for the second option. "The king was very distressed, but because he had given her his sworn promise in front of his guests, he would not break his word to her", Barclay.

touV akakeimenouV (anakeimai) pres. part. "his dinner guests" - the ones reclining at table. The participle serves as a substantive.

aqethsai (aqetew) aor. inf. "to refuse [her]" - to set aside, disappoint, break one's word. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "he did [not] want". The NIV follows BAGD, but "disappoint" is possible. Herod's reluctance again illustrates the worth of John. "He did not want to break his word to her", ESV.

 
v27

aposteilaV (apostellw) aor. part. "so he [immediately] sent" - having sent. Attendant circumstance participle, but possibly adverbial, consecutive, as NIV; "so as a result he immediately sent .."

spekoulatora (spekoulatwr) "an executioner" - military scout, member of the headquarter's staff, a soldier with a special commission. He might have been a member of Herod's bodyguard.

epetaxen (epitassw) aor. "with orders" - he ordered, commanded, instructed. The sense is "sent with orders."

enegkai (ferw) aor. inf. "to bring" - to bear, bring, carry. The infinitive introduces a dependent statement of indirect speech / comanding, "he commanded that ...." "At once ordered a soldier of his guard to bring his head", Williams.

apelqwn (apercomai) aor. part. "the man went" - having left. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "beheaded."

en + dat. "in [the prison]" - Local, expressing space.

 
v29

John's disciples, a group which continues to operate even after Jesus' death, takes his body and lays it in a tomb.

akousanteV (akouw) aor. part. "on hearing of this" - having heard. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal; "when his disciples heard of it", ESV.

oJi maqhtai outou "John's disciples" - his disciples. The existence of an identifiable group of John's disciples is again noted in scripture. It is likely that most of Jesus' disciples were originally members of this group.

to ptwma "body" - the corpse. This word is only used once in Mark.

auto pro. "[laid] it" - Accusative direct object of the verb "laid".

en + dat. "in" - Local, expressing space.

mhhmeiw/ (on) "a tomb" - tomb, monument. "They laid it in a grave."

 

Mark Introduction

Exposition

 

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