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

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

vi] The religious leaders are also without understanding


Mark now records a confrontation between Jesus and some of the religious authorities from Jerusalem. The authorities note that Jesus and his disciples are less than scrupulous in the washing of their hands before a meal. They use this observation to question the religious purity of Jesus. This then leads to the question as to whether impurity in the sight of God is contracted from the outside, or is an evil residing within.


Defilement / sin, is a human condition which the law serves to expose, thus revealing our need for a divine renewal of the heart.


i] Context: See 6:30-44. This episode falls within the period of growing discontent.


ii] Structure: The issue of purity:

Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, v1-23;

Tradition at the expense of God's law, v1-5;

Text: Isaiah 29:13, v6-7;

Application, v8-13;

"You abandon the commandment of God and hold ....."

Saying / Parable, v14-16;

"The things that come out are what defiles."

Exposition on the issue of defilement, v17-23.


iii] Interpretation:

In this rather long episode, Jesus engages with Israel's religious elite regarding the issue of holiness. Jesus makes the point that defilement is not a matter of externals, of hand-washing, but of the heart, for it is from a defiled heart that "evil intentions come." This defilement cannot be hidden behind outward performance. Note how Jesus incisively exposes the hypocrisy of the righteous whose holiness rests on the externals of the law, v9-13. It's very easy to claim one has honoured their parents, but actually do the very opposite. It's very easy to be fooled into thinking that the outward performance of the law makes one holy.

In drawing together the extant gospel tradition that makes up his gospel, it well may be that Mark did so with the burning issue of table fellowship between Jewish believers and Gentile believers firmly in mind. Table fellowship is not possible where brothers and sisters are judged on the ground of a contrived holiness.

What this episode does for us, is remind us that "none are righteous, no not one." Those who have some claim to holiness / righteousness before God are exposed as hypocrites, but at the same time, the less refined disciple, "eating with defiled hands", is no less a sinner, possessing, like all humanity, a defiled heart. For believers, table fellowship rests on a holiness that is graced to them by a merciful God, a holiness that covers the defilement of the human heart, a heart washed clean by the blood of Christ. It is on this ground that the righteous and sinner may eat together. Of course, we must wait for Paul, the exegete of Christ, to explain how that righteousness is by grace through faith, apart from the law.


v] Synoptics:

Matt.15:1-20. Matthew and Mark's record of Jesus' teaching on the Law aligns. Mark's account provides a more logical arrangement of the material, although his record is somewhat more detailed, none-the-less, Markan priority is presumed.


iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the pew-level sermon notes The issue of purity

Text - 7:1

Jesus is confronted by the hypocrisy of those who claim holiness on the ground of law-obedience, v1-23. i] Tradition at the expense of God's law, v1-5. Jesus is approached by local Pharisees, along with some from Jerusalem. They are critical of his laxity toward matters of ritual purity, particularly in allowing his disciples to defile themselves by eating with unwashed hands.

The sentence structure of the first five verses is unclear. What we seem to have is a single Gk. sentence with a parenthetical comment in v3-4. The first two verses are best expressed as a single sentence, both verses joined by a coordinate kai, cf., Cranfield.

twn grammatewn (euV ewV) gen. "of the teachers of the law" - [and come together toward him the pharisees and some] of the scribes. The genitive is adjectival, partitive. Two groups are identified, local Pharisees and Pharisees from Jerusalem. "The Pharisees came together, having arrived and seen (inspected?)", NRSV.

elqonteV (ercomai) aor. part. "who had come" - having come. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Pharisees and some teachers of the law", as NIV.

apo + gen. "from" - from [jerusalem]. Expressing source / origin.


idonteV (oJraw) aor. part. "saw" - [and] having seen. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "comes together", or possibly adverbial, temporal.

tinaV pro. "some" - some. An example of prolepsis where an accusative object serves as the subject of the subordinate clause, BDF #476.1.1.

twn maqhtwn (hV ou) gen. "of [his] disciples" - of the disciples [of him]. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

oJti "-" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what they saw.

touV artouV (oV) pl. "food" - [they are eating] the bread, loaves. Accusative direct object of the verb "to eat." References to eating bread normally refer to eating food in general. The plural "loaves" is therefore probably not a link back to the feeding of the five thousand.

koinaiV (oV) dat. "unclean" - in = with common = impure [hands]. The dative is instrumental, expressing means. The word means "common" as against "private", but took on the particular ritual sense of "impurity", "defilement", in Jewish circles.

tout estin "that is" - this = that is. The construction "this is" serves to introduce an explanation. Rather than oJ, "which [is]", Mark has chosen a distant demonstrative pronoun tout, "that [is]", to highlight Jewish ritual practice

aniptoiV (oV) dat. "unwashed" - unwashed. The dative is instrumental, expressing means. Mark here explains the meaning of the word "common" to his Gentile readers.


This, and the following verse, serves as a parenthetical comment on Jewish ritual food regulations and is best bracketed, as in the NIV.

gar "-" - for, because. Here more explanatory than causal. Mark explains the background to the issue of eating food with unwashed hands.

panteV adj. "All" - [the pharisees and] all [the jews do not eat]. The Pharisees certainly practiced rigorous purity rituals, but certainly not "all the Jews." "Many other Jewish people", CEV.

ean mh + subj. "unless" - if not = unless. Probably not an exceptive clause, "they do not eat except ...", but rather a negated conditional clause, 3rd. class; "unless they wash their hands properly, then they do not eat."

pugnm/ (h) dat. "ceremonial" - in = with the fist [they wash their hands]. The dative is adverbial, probably modal, expressing manner. This word obviously has another meaning other than "fist", but it is not known. Yet, the point of the sentence is clear; religious Jews practiced ritual purification. Gundry suggests "raising hands that are cupped in a fist-like fashion, but with fingers held slightly apart to allow full coverage with the least possible amount of water."

kratounteV (kratew) nom. pl. pres. part. "holding to" - grasping, holding to. The participle is possibly adverbial, causal, "they do not eat because they strictly observe the traditions of the elders", Barclay, although, even as anarthrous, it may be treated as adjectival; "the Pharisees and all the Jews who observe the traditions of the elders, do not eat without ....", Berkeley.

twn presbuterwn adj. "of the elders" - [the tradition] of the elders. The genitive is ablative, of source / origin; "the tradition from the elders"


ap (apo) + gen. "[and when they come] from" - [and] from [the market]. Expressing source / origin. There is no verb and the word "market" needs something to relate to. Some suggest "things brought from the market" are subsequently ritually washed, while others suggest "those (persons) coming from the market" are ritually washed. Turner suggests that the preposition is temporal here, "on return from market."They decline to eat what comes from the market", Moffatt.

ean mh + subj. "unless" - [they do not eat] unless [they wash themselves]. Again this construction may be classified as introducing an exceptive clause expressing a contrast by designating an exception, "they do not eat except ....", but as in v3, it is probably introducing a negated conditional clause, "unless they wash themselves then they don't eat."

kratein (kratew) pres. inf. "they observe" - [and there is many other things there is which they traditionally received] to hold to, cling to = keep, observe. The infinitive introduces an appositional / epexegetic construction which explains, in summary form, the type of traditions received, "namely, to hold to washing of cups .....", so Taylor; "there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups, ....", ESV. A catch-all for the many traditions of ritual purification.

pothriwn (on) gen. "of cups" - of cups [and pitchers, and kettles and beds]. The genitive is verbal, objective, although the adjectival / limiting sense is always close at hand; "cup washing." Note the textual variant which includes even the washing of "beds", probably the low table where the meal is consumed.


The Pharisees assume that their traditions have authority and so question Jesus' failure to observe them. Jesus happily rises to the occasion.

eperwtwsin (eperwtaw) pres. "asked" - [and the pharisees and the scribes] question, ask [him]. Historic / narrative present tense indicating narrative transition. "So, the Pharisees and Scribes put this question to Jesus", Phillips.

dia + acc. "why" - because of [what]. Causal. The phrase dia ti = "because why?" = "why?", as NIV. Here introducing direct speech.

ou peripatousin (peripatew) pres. "live" - [the disciples of you] do not walk about. Used in a metaphorical sense; "conduct oneself."

kata + acc. "according to" - in accordance with. Expressing a standard. The only time this preposition takes this meaning in Mark.

twn presbuterwn gen. adj. "of the elders" - [the tradition] of the elders. The genitive is adjectival, ablative, of source / origin. The Pharisees assume that there is an inherent authority in this tradition, which assumption Jesus challenges. As far as Jesus is concerned, their received wisdom is man-made. "What our ancestors taught us to do", CEV.

alla "instead" - but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction.

cersin (r roV) dat. "with [defiled] hands" - with hands [impure eat the bread]. The dative is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of their eating, or instrumental, expressing means; "with hands which are defiled."


ii] The Scripture, Isaiah.29:13, LXX, v6-7. Jesus confronts the law-bound religious leaders with a text from Isaiah. Jesus will use this text to explain that the religion of Israel is now shaped by externals based on human traditions, and that defilement is a product of a corrupt heart, quite apart from externals.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - [and he said] to them. Dative of indirect object.

kalwV adv. "[Isaiah was] right" - rightly, correctly [prophesied isaiah]. Modal adverb, expressing manner; "admirably adapted to your case", Swete.

peri + gen. "about" - concerning, about [you]. Reference; "concerning you."

twn uJpokritwn gen. "hypocrites" - hypocrites, Genitive in apposition to uJmwn, "you". This popular Matthean term is only used once in Mark. Note how Mark says that Isaiah's words are for "you". The prophets words are for their own generation, but also for subsequent members of the kingdom.

wJV gegraptai "as it is written" - as it has been written. Idiomatic formula used to introduce a quotation from scripture.

oJti "-" - that. Variant; introducing a dependent statement, direct quote.

toiV ceilesin (oV) dat. "with their lips" - [this people honour me] in = with the = their lips. The dative is instrumental, expressing means.

de "but" - but/and. Transition,to a counterpoint, "but".

hJ ... kardia "hearts" - the heart [of them]. Nominative subject of the verb "to be far off." The issue of scribal religion being external rather than internal (a problem of belief necessitating inner renewal) is developed in v14-23.

ap (apo) + gen. "from" - [is removed far away] from [me]. Here expressing separation, "away from".


mathn adv. "vain" - [but/and] vainly, in futility [they worship me]. Modal adverb, expressing manner. The word is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied.

didaskonteV (didaskw) pres. part. "teachings" - teaching [the teachings]. The participle is adverbial, causal, "because they teach", or instrumental, "by teaching", or even temporal, "when teaching human regulations as doctrines", Berkeley. Also not in the Hebrew, but in the LXX, and applicable here in reference to the Pharisees. "Rules and regulations based on merely human authority do not provide the sort of response which God requires", France. This idea, conveyed in the second half of the quote, is expounded in v8-13.

entalmata (a atoV) "[human] rules" - commandments [of men]. The noun possibly serves as the accusative complement of the direct object "teachings", specifying a fact about the object, "they teach as divine commandments, man-made rules and regulations", Barclay, although Decker classifies it as standing in apposition to didaskaliaV, "teachings"; "teaching teachings that are commandments of men." The genitive "of men" is probably ablative, expressing source / origin; "the precepts found in the doctrines they teach have their source in mere men", Cassirer.


iii] The application of Isaiah 29:13b: Holiness cannot be claimed on the basis of a law-obedience shaped by the traditions of men, v8-13. In grasping onto subjective traditions, the Pharisees have neglected God's authoritative word; they have actually set aside the commandments for the sake of their traditions. To demonstrate this fact, Jesus refers to the fifth commandment, noting that the penalty for dishonouring parents is death. The Pharisees had found a way around honouring parents, with regard financial assistance, through a device whereby the son's funds were declared "divine property." Jesus points out that the Pharisees have dared to nullify the commandments in favour of their traditions.

afenteV (afihmi) aor. part. "you have let go" - having abandoned, forsaken, left. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to grasp." "You hold to human traditions and drop what God commands", or adverbial, temporal, "when you ....." Here the sense is possibly "neglect" (let go by default), rather than wilfully abandon, although a shift from what God commands to a watered down version of the law is surely worse than neglect. Neglecting the good is one thing, defining the good as something other than what God calls good, is another. The Christian church presently faces this issue in the social democracies of the West where the church is being asked to affirm politically correct positions adopted by the wider society, eg. gay marriage. We must always welcome the sinner, for we are all sinners, but beware whitewashing the sin! God's word is authoritative, while human traditions are subjective. Such traditions may be useful, but cannot be mandatory. "You have put aside the commandment of God", NJB.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - [the commands] of god. This genitive, as with twn anqrwpwn, "[traditions] of men", may be treated as adjectival, possessive, "God's own commands" / "your own traditions", or ablative, expressing source / origin; "from God" / "from men."

krateite (kratew) pres. "holding on to" - you are holding to, grasping [the traditions of men]. This verb with the accusative usually means "to hold firmly and completely", "cling to", NAB, but here probably with the sense "keep / observe", NJB; "maintain", REB.


elegen (legw) imperf. "he said" - [and] he was saying. The imperfect is either durative, indicating not just a once said word, but a word with ongoing implications, or inceptive, emphasising the beginning of the action, "he began to say to them." As France notes, introductions like "he said to them" often introduce a separate independent element of tradition, here probably covering v9-13. If this is the case here, then Mark has placed a parallel saying to v8 to escalate the argument. "He went on to say to them", Barclay.

autoiV dat. pro. "to them" - to them. Dative of indirect object.

afeteite (afetew) pres. "you have [a fine way] of setting aside" - you have set aside. The word is much stronger than the "let go" of v 8, pushing toward "reject", even "despise". "You are good at rejecting God's commands", CEV.

kalwV adv. "a fine way" - well [the commandment of god]. Modal adverb. Jesus is using irony; "how skilful you are in setting aside God's commandments", Cassirer.

iJna + subj. "in order" - that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "in order that." They set aside God's commands in order that they might establish their own.

sthshte (iJsthmi) aor. subj. "to observe" - [the traditions of you] might stand. "In order to establish / authorise / put into force your own tradition", although "observe / uphold / maintain" is also a possible meaning of this verb, so NIV.


gar "for" - for. More reason than cause; Jesus provides support for his critique in v8-9.

MwushV "Moses" - moses [said, honour the father of you and the mother of you]. Moses is identified as the author of the words to show that the quote comes from the weightier Torah, rather than the Prophets or the Writings.

oJ kakologwn (kakologew) pres. part. "anyone who curses" - [and] the one reviling [father or mother]. The participle serves as a substantive. Possibly "curses", following the AV, although better, "speaks evil of", NRSV.

qanatw/ (oV) dat. "[must be put / is to be put] to death" - by death [let him come to an end = die]. The dative is adverbial, expressing manner, or means. The construction of an imperative verb with an modal / instrumental dative serves to represent the Hebrew infinitive absolute; "let him surely die", Taylor.


de "but [you say]" - but/and [you say]. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument, as NIV. The "you" is emphatic by use.

ean + subj. "if" - if. Introducing a conditional clause, 3rd class, where the condition has a possibility of coming true, "if, as may be the case, a person (man) says to his father or to his mother, Corban (that is gift) .......... (v12) then you no longer permit (him) to do anything for his father or his mother."

tw/ patri (hr roV) dat. "to his father" - [a man says] to the father [or to the mother, corban, which means gift]. Dative of indirect object. "Corban" = given to God, refers to something dedicated to God. Clearly the funds, now denied to the parent, can be accessed by the son, but how this is possible if they are "divine property" is unclear. The best we can say is that the gift remains at the son's disposal, even though not possessed by him, ie., it is "considered" as given to God. The illustration serves to demonstrate how the Pharisees have given greater weight to their traditions than to God's law.

oJ ean "whatever / what" - whatever [out of, from, me you shall be profited]. At this point, Jesus, by way of an explanation of Corban, expresses the words a person might actually say to their father or mother. The Greek is difficult because the words sit within the conditional clause "if a man says ....", and are themselves conditional, and to make matters worse, the substance of the protasis is missing (note that Matthew corrects the Gk.). Moule suggests "if it had not been given (to God) then by me you might have benefited." The verb is either indicative or subjunctive and is passive, "be benefited / helped." The NIV, as with most translations, skirt the complexity of the Greek text and express the sense of the words; "Anything of mine that might have been of use to you is Corban", Goodspeed.

oJ estin "that is" - which is = which means [gift]. Serving to introduce an explanation; "that is."


ouketi ..... ouden "no longer ...... anything" - then no longer [do you permit him to do] nothing. The double negative is emphatic.

poihsai (poiew) aor. inf. "do" - to do. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of cause expressing what is not allowed / permitted, namely, to do anything for their parents.

tw/ patri (hr roV) dat. "for their father" - to the = his father [or the = his mother]. Dative of interest, advantage.


akurounteV (akurow) pres. part. "Thus you nullify" - cancelling, nullifying, repealing. The participle is adverbial expressing either purpose, "in order to", or result, "with the result that", "thus", NIV, or manner (modal), "in this way", REB. The Pharisees have dared to nullify the Word of God.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - [the word] of god. The genitive is ablative, expressing source / origin. Here specifically the fifth commandment, not the scriptures as a whole. In Acts, the phrase refers to the gospel, again not to the scriptures as a whole.

th/ paradosei (iV ewV) dat. "by your tradition" - in = by the tradition [of you]. The dative is instrumental, expressing means.

hJ/ dat. "that" - which [you received. and you do many such similar things]. The dative antecedent "by your tradition" has attracted the relative pronoun "that", even though in normal circumstances the case of a relative pronoun is determined by its function in the clause within which it resides.


iv] Saying / Parable; the heart / the centre of our being, is the source of human defilement and undermines any claim to holiness, v14-16: Defilement is from within, not from without. Jesus does not set out to demolish Leviticus 15, nor the image of purity required of God's people as illustrated in the food laws etc., but rather the foolish notion that a person can, by the careful observance of external purity laws, be declared holy. The law serves to expose sin, and so to "complete" this function of the law, Jesus moves from externals, which can be kept, to internals, which cannot be kept. It's what comes from within that defiles us, not words as such, but the heart that shapes the thoughts that shape the words and actions. It is this that defiles us, and so we are all defiled. If holiness is required of a child of God, and externals of themselves can, at best, only image holiness, then holiness is going to have to come by other means. The only means possible is a gift of God, grace, the key to which is a faith like that of Abraham.

proskalesamenoV (proskaleomai) aor. part. "called" - [and] having summoned, called [again the crowd]. The participle is adverbial, possibly temporal; "then he recalled the crowd to him", Moffatt. Jesus now moves his attention from the Pharisees to the crowd, from specific argumentation to parables.

autoiV dat. pro. "[and said]" - [he was saying] to them. Dative of indirect object.

mou gen. pro. "[listen to] me" - [hear, listen to] me [and understand]. Genitive of direct object after to verb "to hear, listen to, heed, obey." A call to give careful thought to the words that follow, cf. 4:3. "Pay attention and try to understand what I mean", CEV.


ouden "nothing" - [there is] nothing. Predicate nominative; "there is nothing." Emphasising that defilement is not caused by contamination from unwashed hands, v5, or anything, eg., contact with a dead body, or bodily fluids, foods.... "The food that you put into your mouth doesn't make you unclean and unfit to worship God", CEV.

exwqen + gen. "outside of" - from without, outside of [the man]. Adverb used as a preposition + gen.; spatial.

koinwsai (koinow) aor. inf. "unclean / defile" - [which is able] to make common, defile [him]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "is able." Here "defile".

eisporeuomenon (eisporeuomai) pres. part. "by going into" - entering into. The participle is adverbial, probably instrumental, expressing means, as NIV, or conditional, "there is nothing outside a person which, if it enters into him, is able to make him unclean", Decker. It can be treated as adjectival, limiting "nothing"; "nothing which enters a man", Barclay.

eiV + acc. "into" - into [him]. Spatial. The repetition of the prefix of the verb "to enter into" is stylistic.

alla "rather" - but. Adversative in a counterpoint construction. "On the contrary", Barclay.

ek + gen. "-" - [the things] from [the man]. Expressing source / origin.

ekporeuomena (ekporeuomai) pres. part. "comes out" - coming out [are the things defiling the man]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting ta, "things"; "the things which come out." "What defiles a man is what comes out of him", Cassirer.


"If any man has ears to hear, let him hear." Taylor argues that this verse should be retained, but most commentators feel that its appropriateness is responsible for its addition to the original text, cf., 4:9.


v] The exposition of the parable / saying on defilement, v17-23. As is typical, Jesus now explains the saying to the disciples. An external, such as food, does not defile a person's being ("heart"), it simply passes through them. Jesus goes on to explain that it is what is within that defiles us, for from within comes "evil devisings which issue in degraded acts and vices", Taylor. By means of these words, Jesus has demolished any idea that pious regulations can purify. In the end, we are all left with a "desperate need for the renewal and cleansing of the human heart", Lane.

oJte "After" - [and] when. Temporal conjunction introducing a temporal clause.

apo + gen. "he had left" - [he entered into the house] from [the crowd]. Expressing separation "away from."

ephrwtwn (eperwtaw) imperf. "asked" - [the disciples of him] were asking [him]. Probably an inceptive imperfect, "his disciples began to ask him", Weymouth.

thn parabolhn (h) "about this parable" - about the parable. Here taking the accusative, adverbial, of respect, as NIV. It is interesting that Mark calls the saying a "parable", a "parabolic saying." So, there is something of a riddle about it, a "dark saying" which aligns with the intention of Jesus' kingdom parables, namely, to draw out those with eyes to see. Taken literally, Jesus could be saying that food doesn't defile, only bodily fluids or a foul mouth defiles. Yet, the intent of the parable is far deeper. The hidden intent is to expose the human condition of sin and so drive the seeker to God for mercy in the face of the coming kingdom. Note how the disciples come to Jesus privately for an explanation of the saying, cf., Matt.13:10ff. "Riddle", Gould.


autoiV dat. pro. "-" - [and he says] to them. Dative of indirect object.

kai "-" - and. Here adverbial, adjunctive, "also"; "are you also (along with the crowd) so without understanding?"

ouJtwV adv. "-" - then, thus, so. The point made in v15 is repeated. Modal adverb, if taken as a question, "so", but it is possible that this adverb introduces an inferential statement; "He said to them, 'then you are also without understanding?'"

ou noeite (noew) pres. "don't you see" - [are you without understanding?] do you not understand. "Don't you realise."

oJti "that" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they should realise.

eisporeuomenon (eisporeuomai) pres. part. "that enters" - [everything] entering, going in [from outside into the man]. Although anarthrous, the participle may be adjectival, attributive, limiting the substantive adjective pan, "everything"; "anything which goes into a man from outside cannot defile him", Barclay, although Decker suggests it is adverbial, instrumental, expressing means.

koinwsai (koinow) aor. inf. "[can] defile [him]" - [is not able] to defile [him]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of "is not able."


In this verse, Mark makes his own comment regarding Levitical regulations, particularly food regulations, v19b. The issue was one that caused divisions in the early church between Gentiles and Jews, and so Mark's comment is quite provocative. Mark's comment is probably not intended to dispense with the regulations as such, but rather, to reinforce the point that purity, in the end, has nothing to do with what we eat.

As already noted, Jesus is not demolishing Levitical food laws, but rather he moves to the substance of the law, cf., Matt.5:17-20. Food laws only illustrate the idea of purity, they do not create purity, nor can a ritually impure food actually erode purity. Purity / holiness is a matter of the heart / mind, and the purity regulations serve, first and foremost, to remind us that we are impure. With all the care in the world, no one can even keep these limited regulations perfectly. When the regulations themselves become the focus, rather than the state of the heart, then radical incisive teaching is the order of the day. Once the substance of the issue is understood, it is then quite proper for the Jewish believers to continue to practice ritual law, just as it is quite proper for Paul to seek exemption from cultic law for Gentile believers (possibly all law as such - see Moo on Romans for an antinomian view of the place of the law in the believer's life. eg., Encountering the Book of Romans, Baker, 2002, or NICNT on Romans). A problem only develops when it is necessary to amalgamate both positions in a single congregation. Both Galatians and Romans address the issue of the weak and the strong serving together under the grace of God, and it is this issue which was the focus of the Jerusalem conference recorded in Acts 15.

oJti "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the claim made in v18 is true.

autou "their [heart]" - [it does not enter into the heart] of him. The placement of this possessive pronoun indicates that it modifies both "heart" and "stomach". The heart is the source of spiritual and intellectual processing; it is the part of our being which relates to God, but is not the seat of emotions as in Western thought. The point made by Jesus is that in the digestive process, food does not come into contact with the source of our being, the psychological centre of our existence, and therefore does not pollute it.

all (alla) "but" - but. Adversative standing in a counterpoint construction.

ton afedrwna (wn wntoV) "out of his body" - [goes into the intestines and goes out into] the latrine, toilet. "Evacuated into the drain by natural process", Barclay.

kaqarizwn (kaqarizw) pres. part. "(in saying this, Jesus declared ...)" - cleansing [all foods]. The participle refers back to legei, "he says", v18, and therefore is adverbial, probably consecutive, expressing result; "he says ................., with the result that he declares all food clean." Serving as a parenthetical comment by the editor referring to Jesus' teaching in v18-19b. "Thus he declared all foods clean", ESV.


Jesus' exposition of the parable resumes after the parenthetical statement, and it now deals with what does actually defile; "he said further", Berkeley. The narrative transition is indicated by de.

oJti "-" - [but/and he was saying] that. Here introducing a dependent statement serving to identify what Jesus went on to say; "what comes from your heart is what makes you unclean", CEV.

to ..... ekporeuomenon (ekporeuomai) pres. mid. part. "what comes out" - the thing going out. The participle serves as a substantive. Technically a hanging nominative.

ek + gen. "of" - from [the man, that defiles the man]. Expressing separation, already expressed in the prefix of the participle - stylistic.


In the list of evils, v21-22, the first six are plural, referring to the act itself, while the last six are singular, referring to the sin.

gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why it is that the product of the heart makes a person unclean, namely, because the heart / the inner being, stained by sin, prompts sinful behaviour.

eswqen "from within" - inside = from within. Spatial. It's what comes out that defiles, or better, sin that inevitably comes out of a corrupt heart is what defiles.

ek + gen. "out of" - from, out of. Expressing source / origin.

twn anqrwpwn (oV) gen. "of a man's / person's [heart]" - the heart [of the man]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, identifying the possession of a dependent status.

dialogismoi (oV) "[evil] thoughts" - [evil] reasonings, deliberations, designs [come forth, fornications, thefts, murders]. "Thoughts" is somewhat misleading as the reasoning is active, rather than a passive. This noun, with its attributive adjective, "evil", probably serves to cover all the evils that follow, in which case the evils are nominative standing in apposition to "reasonings". "Evil devisings which issue in degraded acts and vices, namely, sexual immorality, theft, murder .......", so Taylor.


pleonexiai (a) "greed" - [adultery]. covetousness with a sexual connotation. "Lust", Moffatt.

aselgeia (as) "lewdness'' - [wickednesses, deceit] wantonness. "Indecency", Goodspeed.

ofqalmoV ponhroV "envy" - evil eye [blasphemy, pride]. "Jealousy", Barclay.

afrosunh "folly" - foolishness, stupidity. Yet not so much intellectual foolishness, but rather the "wrongheadedness of unbelief and sin", Swete.


"Jesus pronouncement did not absolve his followers from guilt, but universalised it: all are defiled", Boring. Boring qualifies this statement by arguing that the passage is not strictly Pauline because it functions to urge "the reader to avoid those things that truly defile." It is certainly true that Jesus does not explicate the doctrine of justification by grace through faith, but Jesus does provide all the building blocks for the apostle Paul to craft the doctrine, such that Paul ultimately serves as the exegete of Jesus. For a Jew like Paul, well versed in the sovereign grace of God (Israel is a chosen people devoid of worth) and founded on the faith of Abraham, it is Jesus' teachings on the function of the Law that becomes the foundation for the doctrine of justification. Jesus clearly reveals the function of the Law in this passage: a) to expose sin and thus the need for divine mercy, and b) to guide the Christian life. Cleanliness my be next to godliness, but it doesn't create godliness, particularly in a godless heart. If godliness is a requisite for a child of God, how then can we secure for ourselves that godly heart?

eswqen adv. "from inside" - [all these evil things come forth] from within [and defiles the man]. Adverb of place. "A person is corrupted by what is within."


Mark Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]