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

2. Growing faith, 8:22-10:52

v] The rich young ruler


A rich man comes to Jesus and asks the way of salvation. Jesus responds by outlining the social demands of the law, to which the rich man asserts his compliance. Jesus then calls on him to give his wealth to the poor and follow him, but he turns and leaves, for he is a wealthy man. Jesus then discusses the impossibility of possessing both this age and the age to come, although what is impossible for a mere human is not impossible for God. Peter goes on to foolishly claim the impossible and is warned accordingly.


None are righteous, no not one.


i] Context: See 10:1-16. This passage serves as the third part of the Law-Grace-Law Markan sandwich - the question on divorce, the visit of the little children, and the "rich young ruler." The contextual relationship between these three episodes is easily missed.


ii] Structure: The rich man:

A dialogue between Jesus and the rich man, v17-22;

instructions to the disciples, 23-27;

Peter's response and Jesus' warning in reply, v28-31.


iii] Interpretation:

Mark carefully encases the question on divorce and the blessing of the children, with the question-and-answer story of the rich man and its attached discourse on the rewards of discipleship, v17-31. In the blessing of the children, we learn that the kingdom of God belongs to those who receive it as a child receives a gift. In the story of the rich man we learn that the righteousness worthy of the kingdom is beyond any of us, and this because we are all "rich" in this world's things. In the disciples' response to the rich man's sad departure, we learn that the rich man's sorrow is far safer than the disciples' pride, for in the end, the kingdom is given to the humble who receive it as a gift, rather than the proud who think they can earn it.


The story of the rich man comes out of left field and is easily misunderstood. The story hinges on the question "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" In response to this question, Jesus proceeds to use the law to expose the man's sinful condition, and thus his state of loss. In fact, much of Jesus' ethical teaching serves this end. Note how Paul picks up on Jesus' handling of the law when he teaches that the prime purpose of the law is to expose sin and thus drive us to God for mercy, Gal.3:24. Only in a secondary sense does the law serve as a guide to the Christian life.

The rich man fails to recognise his state of sin under the law, and so Jesus takes "neighbourly" law to the level of impossible perfection. If the rich man would be perfect, standing right before God, and able to fully appropriate the promised blessings of the covenant / eternal life, then he needs to sell what he owns and give the money to the poor. Jesus' application of neighbourly law strips the rich man of any hope of self-justification before God. Rightly he went away lupoumenoV, "grieving". The rich man's response is the proper response for a person who has come to recognise their state of loss in the presence of God. When it comes to the business of possessing the kingdom, Jesus has left him with only one path, namely, divine mercy. He has made the first step, recognising his state of sin, hopefully he will made the next, repentance and faith.

The need to rely on divine mercy / grace is reinforced in Jesus saying on wealth, v23-27. It is simply not possible for a person who possesses this world's things (and we all do) to enter the kingdom of God. The crucial statement comes in v27 where we are reminded that "for God all things are possible." To participate in God's righteous reign (given our accumulated clutter) it is necessary to rest wholly on the cross-bearing messiah, on his death and his rising on our behalf.

Mark then compares the broken state of the rich man before God with the self-righteousness of the disciples. Peter is quick to remind Jesus that the disciples have left everything to follow him. Jesus then reminds Peter that the abundance of the promised blessings of the covenant transcend any sacrifice a believer may have made in following him. Peter and boys are on thin ice claiming status before God on the basis of their faithful cross-bearing. Beware! for the "first will be last and the last will be first". Humble receivers are gifted the kingdom, not doers.


It is worth comparing the story of The Rich Young Man with the parable of The Good Samaritan, Lk.10:25-37, a similar left-of-field piece of teaching with a similar introductory question on the Law. The point that Jesus makes is not "be good Sams", but rather, "you are not good Sams." For the "lawyer", doing "likewise" is not an option.

The parable of the Good Samaritan, as with the narrative of the Rich Young Man, serves to encourage the believer to see their Christian walk in the terms of receiving, rather than doing. The Christian walk proceeds as it began, as a gift of grace appropriated through faith in the faithfulness of Jesus.


The heresy of nomism. Nomism [sanctification by obedience] is the heresy that promotes the idea that law-obedience ["works of the law" - obedience to the law of Moses, covenant compliance] is essential to restrain sin and shape holiness [sanctify] for the full appropriation of God's promised blessings [the promised blessings of the Abrahamic covenant = life = the gift of the holy Spirit, etc.].

Pious Jews of the 1st. century (eg., Pharisees) were infected by the heresy of nomism. Although they knew that their standing as a Jew rested on divine grace, they held the view that the full appropriation of the promised blessings of the covenant are by works of the law. A nomist believes that by law-obedience sin is restrained and holiness progressed for blessing. Jesus constantly tried to expose the flaw in their thinking by revealing the idealistic demands of the Law. Although they were proficient at tithing mint and cumin, Jesus made sure that they knew where they stood when it came to the weightier matters of the Law. The promised blessings of the covenant, of life in all its fullness, is possessed by grace alone through faith alone, apart from works of the law.

The heresy of nomism infiltrated the early church and became a major theological issue for the church as it sought to unite Jew and Gentile believers. Clearly, Mark is aware of the heresy, and through his careful selection of the tradition available to him (the Markan sandwich, 10:1-31), he is able to place before the reader an insightful treatment of Jesus' teaching on the subject. The Christian life is about receiving, not doing.

Paul confronts this heresy in his letters to the Romans and Galatians. Serving as the exegete of Jesus, Paul expounds the heart of Jesus' teaching in the doctrine we know as justification. Paul's argument, based on the text "The righteous out of faith will live", Habakkuk 2:4, presents as follows:

In an act of divine grace

the righteous reign of God

(his setting all things right)

in justification

(in judging right, holy, perfect / setting right),

out of FAITH

(based on Christ's faithfulness + our faith response),

establishes the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God's children

(covenant compliance),

facilitating God's promised covenant BLESSINGS

(full appropriation of his promised new life through the Spirit),

and its fruit, the WORKS of the law

(the application of brotherly love).

cf., Rom.1:16-17


The Pauline argument can be illustrated as follows:


As opposed to the law-bound children of God (Pharisees / judaizers / pietists / members of the circumcision party, and in the present pericope, the disciples) who argue that:



iv] Synoptics:

Matt.19:16-30; Lk.18:18-30. Mark's account of this extended pronouncement story is more detailed than Matthew and Luke, although he doesn't add any significant information. Matthew tells us that the rich man was young and Luke tells us that he was a ruler, so the title The Rich Young Ruler. Note the inclusion of the theologically significant eschatological saying in Matthew 19:28. Note also that Matthew and Luke do not record the words "along with persecutions" in the list of promised blessings, v29-30.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the pew-level sermon notes The rich man.

Text - 10:17

Wealth and discipleship: i] Jesus' meeting with a rich young man, v17-22. Jesus is approached by a man with an important question. This man of "great wealth" is someone with genuine respect for Jesus, even addressing him as "good", a description normally reserved for God. He asks Jesus a classic religious question, "what must I do to enter life?", a question usually answered in the terms of Ezekiel 33:15. For Jesus, salvation is not a matter of doing, but rather receiving, and those who receive are the helpless, not the righteous. Jesus rejects the characterisation "good", not to deny his sinlessness, nor to claim deity, but rather to remind the rich man that "none are righteous, no not one." Jesus then quotes the law as it relates to a neighbour. Do this and you will live, Deut.30:15f. The rich man genuinely believes that he has obeyed the law since becoming an adult, although his question to Jesus implies a lack of assurance.

In the ethic of Judaism, it was not proper to become destitute through sacrificial generosity to the poor. Yet, Jesus goes to the heart of true neighbourliness by illustrating how this rich man can love his neighbour as himself, ie., as the law demands. If he gives everything he has to the poor he will earn merit ("treasure in heaven"), but of course, Jesus knows that no person is capable of perfection. Clearly Jesus has made his point, for the rich man now knows he is a sinner - "he went away sad." He went away to join the lost and helpless, but it is the lost and helpless that Jesus has come to save.

ekporeuomenou (ekporeuomai) gen. pres. part. "As [Jesus] started" - [and he] going. The genitive participle with its genitive subject "he" forms a genitive absolute construction, temporal, as NIV.

eiV + acc. "on [his way]" - into [the way]. Spatial, expressing the direction of the action, or possibly reference / respect, so Decker.

prosdramwn (prostrecw) aor. part. "ran up to [him]" - [a one = a certain man] having run toward [and having knelt before him, was asking him]. As with "having knelt before", both participles are probably attendant on the verb "asked / inquired", although this would be unusual with an imperfect verb, so Decker. Possibly adverbial, temporal. The kneeling simple shows respect, so, "a certain man came up to him and asked him this question", Cassirer.

didaskale agaqe "good teacher" - good teacher. Vocative noun qualified by a vocative adjective. There is nothing offensive in this statement, although Jesus uses it to remind the man that no person is good; "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". It is this truth which the man must come to understand. It is unlikely that Jesus' response in v18 is a roundabout way of revealing his divinity. That Jesus is sinless is accepted, but humanity is not, and that's the point he is making.

poihsw (poiew) aor. subj. "must I do" - [what] must i do. Deliberative subjunctive.

iJna + subj. "to" - that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "what must I do in order to inherit eternal life?"

zwhn aiwnion "eternal life" - [i may inherit] eternal life. Accusative direct object of the verb "to inherit." For a Jew, the phrase referred to the eschatological resurrection of the dead and of their ongoing participation in the life of the age to come. The phrase first appears in Daniel 12:2 and serves to move the promise of Israel's inheritance of the land, even the whole earth, into the transcendent realm, and this because of the failure of the historic kingdom of Israel. "What must I do to possess eternal life", TNT.


There is a possible allusion here to the Shema, "The Lord our God, the Lord is one", Deut.6:4. Gundry disagrees, but Marcus suggests that if Mark / Jesus didn't have the Shema in mind, he could have expressed himself more smoothly, "no one is good except God". "The Shema implies the uniqueness of divine attributes as well as the divine existence", Marcus. Given the context, the inference that only God is good sets the ground for what follows, particularly the absurdity of the statement "I have kept all these since my youth."

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step to a new speaker / dialogue transition from the man to Jesus.

agaqon adj. "[me] good" - [why do you call me] good? Accusative complement of the direct object "me", standing in a double accusative construction.

autw/ dat. pro. "[Jesus answered]" - [jesus said] to him. Dative of indirect object.

ei mh "except" - [no one is good] if not = except [god]. Introducing an exceptive clause expressing a contrast by designating an exception. All of humanity is affected by sin such that only God is good. The rich man needs to recognise his own condition and seek "eternal life" by some other means than obedience. "God alone is good", TH.


Jesus knows very well that covenant compliance can never be maintained by obedience to the law, but this is something the rich man is about to learn. The commandments "are the answer to the question about eternal life, not because a man can keep them and so earn eternal life, but because, if he honestly tries to keep them, he will be brought to recognise his bankruptcy and prepared to receive the kingdom of God as a little child", Cranfield. Jesus' use of the second table does not imply importance over the first, but is used to easily evidence compliance. Jesus quotes commands 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, but interestingly replaces 10, "do not covet", with "do not defraud". It is impossible to obey the command "do not covet", but it is possible not to defraud. So, all of the commands Jesus quotes can be done, but of course, never are.

taV entolaV (h) "the commandments" - [you know] the commandments. Accusative direct object of the verb "to know." This list of commandments stand in apposition to "the commandments."

mh apasterhshV (aposterew) aor. subj. "do not defraud" - do not defraud = deprive by deception or trickery. As with the other commands, a subjunctive of prohibition, followed by an imperative "honour your father and mother" The command to honour parents is missing in some texts, obviously left out by copyists who thought it an inappropriate addition to a list from the Ten Commandments, cf., Metzger. Turner opts for the variant mh porneushV since a prohibition against "fornications" is properly part of the Ten Commandments. Of course, we would have expected ouk epiqumhseiV "do not covet", commandment 10. Marcus suggests that "this paraphrase is in line with the interpretation of the tenth commandment in certain Jewish traditions, in which it forbids not only craving for the possessions of others, but also usurping them." Yet, it is more likely that "do not defraud" is a pragmatic exegesis of the tenth commandment which reflects the pharisaic tendency toward reductionism, ie., reshaping the law so that it can be obeyed. Jesus happily uses this common understanding of the commandment, since he is leading the rich man up to the high moral ground of self-righteousness where he can throw some water on its slippery slope. The command "do not covet" is directed against cravings which are impossible to deny, but its pragmatic alternative, "do no defraud", is capable of obedience.


And the rich man takes the bait!

de "-" - but/and. Transition, indicating a step to a new speaker.

autw/ "-" - [teacher, he said] to him. Dative of indirect object.

efulaxamhn (fulassw) aor. "I have kept" - [all these things] i have observed. Usually, "carefully kept", Phillips, "I have obeyed all these", Barclay, but since the verb is middle it means "I have avoided, kept myself from", ie. from the evil which the commandments denounce, so France, Gundry.

ek "since" - from [youth of me]. Temporal use of the preposition; from a point in time.


oJ de "-" - but/and he. Transitional, indicating a change in subject from the man to Jesus.

embleyaV (emblepw) aor. part. "looked at" - [jesus] having looked at. The prefix serves to intensify the looking, so "looked at intently", "a penetrating look", Boring. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the aorist verb "loved", so "looked and loved", as NIV, but possibly adverbial, temporal; "Jesus fixed his gaze upon him, and then, being filled with love for him, he said", Cassirer. "He looked closely at him", CEV.

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - him. Dative of direct object after the en prefix verb "looked at."

hgaphsen (agapaw) aor. "loved [him]" - loved [him and said]. How do we explain this response? "With great admiration", Junkins; "liked him", CEV; "prized him dearly", Berkeley; "his heart warmed towards him", Phillips / REB. All these express an emotional response of attraction, possibly expressed outwardly in Jesus putting his arms around the man, so Gundry, Field, ie. "the verb refers to overt action, not simply to an inner emotion", Evans. Cranfield argues that the overt action is that of self-giving, ie., Jesus addresses the man's problem in the terms of "positive action on behalf of the neighbour", Boring.

se acc. pro. "you" - [one thing] you [come short of]. The verb usually takes a genitive with the sense "one thing is lacking of you". This has prompted the variant soi. Of course, accusative, as here, may be purposely intended expressing the idea that "you" is the one affected by the lack, so "one thing lets you down", France. "One thing is missing in your life", Barclay.

oJsa pro. "everything you have" - [go sell] as much as [you have]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to have." Jesus' call to leave everything and follow him obviously causes interpretive difficulties. It is sometimes handled as illustrative of receiving Jesus, eg., Jesus calls on us to become vulnerable, as a child, to gain everything; Jesus calls on us to substitute what we love for a love of Jesus. It is sometimes handled with a reductionist approach, eg., Jesus calls on us to transfer our reserves to the poor of the earth who have little of this-worldly reserves. It is sometimes handled literally, although there are few who stand with Francis of Assisi. None-the-less, Jesus is indeed stating the substance of neighbourly law, and is doing so in the terms of an absolute. This he does, not to define the nature of discipleship, or make poverty a requirement for entrance into the kingdom, but to underline the fact that "eternal life" cannot be inherited by doing. This man, although clearly a kind and godly man, is not covenant compliant and stands condemned with the rest of humanity. To love his neighbour with such love is beyond him, as it is beyond us all. The choice of aorist verbs emphasis this point; "complete disinvestment and donation", France.

toiV ptwcoiV dat. adj. "to the poor" - [and give] to the poor. The adjective serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object / interest.

en + dat. "in" - [and you will have treasure] in [heaven]. Local, expressing space. What is the treasure? Possibly "Jesus", Edwards, but as a common Jewish expression, it is used to describe the (merited) eschatological blessings of God in general.

akolouqei (alokouqew) pres. imp. "follow" - [and come] follow [me]. The present tense is durative, expressing ongoing action, "a process", Decker. "Follow me" serves as a call to discipleship. This may be contextualised in the call to "sell everything and give to the poor", ie., "follow me" "identifies placing one's property at the disposal of others as the meaning of discipleship", Boring. Yet, it is more likely that Jesus' call to discipleship is a call to ongoing faith, not a call to obedience, such that receiving Christ ("follow me" = "accept me") is the way to eternal life, so Cranfield.


oJ de "-" - but/and he. Transitional, indicating a change in subject again.

epi + dat. "at [this]" - upon, on [the word]. Causal, "on understanding what Jesus had said", but possibly temporal, "when he heard Jesus saying this, a look of the deepest gloom came over the man's face", Barclay.

stughasaV (stugnazw) aor. part. "[the man's] face fell" - having become sad, gloomy, shocked, appalled. Taking oJ, "he", as the nominative subject of the verb "went away", the participle is attendant on the verb; "he was appalled at what was said and went away sad", LN, but it can also be treated as modal, expressing manner.

lupoumenoV (lupew) pres. pas. part. "[he went away] sad" - [he left] sorry, grieving, in pain, distressed. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of his departing; "he went sadly away", Moffatt. Although this response is often regarded as one of rejection, of walking away from Jesus, it is actually the correct response for a person who has come to recognise their state of loss before God. Like the scribe in 12:28-34, the words "you are not far from the kingdom of God" properly applies to this man for he has recognised the perfection demanded of him, is broken before it, and so is now faced with the only possible solution to his dilemma, namely, God's covenant mercy now realised in Christ. In fact, the man's response is on far safer ground than Peters' self-righteous response in v28.

gar "because" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the man was sad.

h\n .. ecwn "he had" - he was having [many possessions]. A periphrastic imperfect construction. Possibly used to emphasise durative aspect, ie., it was not that he had great wealth, but that his wealth was every growing because of his earning capacity - he was in the wealth-creating business. Of course, the periphrastic construction may just reflect Aramaic influence, cf., ,Zerwick #361. "He was holding on tight to a lot of things and was not about to let go", Peterson.


ii] Jesus gives instruction on the impossibility of a rich person entering the kingdom of God (of course, what might be impossible for the rich person [and we are all rich by degree] is not impossible for God), v23-27. Jesus' claim that it is hard for a person who possesses this world's things to enter the kingdom of heaven, astonishes the disciples because, in the ethic of Judaism, wealth is a sign of God's blessing and its wise use a means of merit. Jesus then redefines his claim to include everyone, such that what was hard now becomes impossible. If entering the kingdom (gaining "eternal life") is next to impossible, what hope does anyone have? On the basis of human merit it is impossible, but there is another way; God can save out of kindness / mercy / grace.

peribleyamenoV (periblepw) aor. part. "[Jesus] looked around" - [and] having looked around. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the historic present verb "says". A nice personal stage direction recorded by Mark. It's as if we were there as Jesus watched the man depart and then turned to his disciples to comment on the incident.

toiV maqhtaiV (hV ou) dat. "to [his] disciples" - [jesus says] to the disciples [of him]. Dative of indirect object.

pwV "how [hard]" - how [with difficulty]. Interrogative particle, often treated here as exclamatory; "with what difficulty will a person of means enter the kingdom of God?"; the answer is given in v25. The adverb duskolwV, "with difficulty" is rare in the NT. The comment does not necessarily reflect "pity", as suggested by Cranfield.

oiJ .... econteV (ecw) "the rich" - the ones having [means = the means to create wealth]. The participle serves as a substantive. "How hard it will be for a person of means ..."

eiseleusontai (eisercomai) fut. "to enter" - they will enter [into the kingdom of god]. The future tense is not necessarily pushing out entry into the kingdom of God to the eschaton. "Enter the kingdom of God" = "gain eternal life". "A person of means will find it difficult to gain eternal life." For "the kingdom of God" see Mk.1:15.


There may be some significance in the fact that Jesus drops the reference to "the man of means" giving a more general coverage for the saying, although he does pick up on "the rich" again in v25. Variant additions after estin exist which evidence attempts to soften the statement, eg. "for those who trust in riches", or "a rich man", "those who have possessions", cf., Metzger. Taylor argues for a Western transposition where v24 follows v25. His point being that the disciples amazement is more likely to follow Jesus' comparison in v25.

eqambounto (qambew) imperf. mid./pas. "were amazed" - [and the disciples] were amazed. The middle voice is used for emotion. A key word used by Mark to indicate a pre-faith response to Jesus' words or actions. Such could well be the prompt for Jesus to broaden the statement to the disciples, making the point that since we all possess, then the difficulty faces us all.

epi + dat. "at" - because of. Causal use of the preposition.

autou gen. pro. "his [words]" - [the words] of him. The genitive is adjectival, best viewed as possessive.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step again in the subject, from the disciples to Jesus.

apokriqeiV (apokrinomai) aor. pas. part. "-" - [jesus] answering. Attendant circumstance participle, expressing action accompanying the verb "said", redundant; "Jesus answered and said."

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

tekna (on) "children" - children. Vocative. Referring to the disciples using an "affectionate form of address", Cranfield. "Lads", France.

eiselqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "to enter" - [how difficult it is] to enter [the kingdom of god]. The infinitive introduces a nominal clause subject of the verb estin, "it is" = "to enter ..... is difficult". The verb to-be is in the present tense transforming the words into a "maxim", Gundry. "How", pwV, is most likely exclamatory here, rather than serving as an interrogative.


The point of the comparison is that just as it is impossible for the largest animal in Palestine to pass through the eye of a needle, so it is even more impossible for "a rich man" to possess eternal life. The proverbial saying was probably in common use. There is even an Arab proverb using the image of an elephant passing through the eye of a needle. Given the absolute nature of this statement, attempts have been made to soften it, eg., the eye of the needle was a gate in the wall of Jerusalem where a person riding a camel would have to bow down to pass through it. So, rich people are able to enter the kingdom of heaven if they give due deference to Jesus. Obviously the person who thought this up was rich!!

eukopwteron comp. adj. "easier" - [it is] easier for. Comparative adjective, predicate of the verb to-be.

dielqein (diercomai) "to go through" - [a camel] to pass, go through. The infinitive again introduces a nominal clause, subject of the verb to-be estin; "to pass through the eye of a needle is easier for a camel."

dia + gen. "through" - through . Spatial use of the preposition; a stylistic repetition of the prefix of the main verb.

thV rJafidoV (iV idoV) gen. "of a needle" - [the eye] of the needle. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

h] "than" - than for. Serving here as a comparative. Again the "wealthy / well-to-do / rich ... man" shapes the comparison.

eiselqein (eisercomai) aor. inf. "to enter" - [a rich person] to pass through, enter [into the kingdom of god]. The infinitive introduces a nominal clause standing as the subject of an assumed verb to-be estin, with a second eukpwteron also assumed, "than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God is easier." "The rich man", as the subject of the infinitive, is accusative.


The possession of this world's things is relative and it is probably this fact which prompts the disciples reaction.

oiJ de "the disciples" - but/and they. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative, a change in subject, back to the disciples.

perisswV adv. " even more" - [were amazed] more. Comparative adverb; "all the more." The imperfect verb "were amazed" is probably descriptive, but possibly durative, expressing ongoing amazement. Certainly an intensified amazement, so "bewilderment", Gundry.

legonteV (lew) pres. part. "said" - saying [to themselves = to one another (variant "to him")]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "were amazed"; "were amazed and said".

kai "-" - and. Possibly taking the meaning of ara, "therefore", TH, cf., Lagrange.

tivV pro. "who" - who. Interrogative pronoun. The move is to "anyone who", rather than specifically the rich.

swqhnai (swzw) aor. pas. inf. "[can] be saved" - [is able] to be saved. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "is able". "Saved" in the sense of entering the kingdom of God / possessing eternal life. "If this is the position, then can anyone be saved", Cranfield. Possibly the reaction is driven, not so much by a general understanding of the difficulty of entering the kingdom, but rather that wealth would have normally indicated that a person was under God's favour and therefore saved, so Gundry; "if this man, with every advantage and indication of being near the kingdom, cannot be save, then who can?", Boring; a "scandalous" idea, France. Yet, it is more likely that the disciples are reacting to "the general difficulty of entering the kingdom (implying) that the number of people who will finally squeeze into God's dominion is limited indeed", Marcus.


The text, "all things are possible with God", is often used out of context to support wishful thinking (misrepresented as "faith"). Jesus has widened the impossibility of entering the kingdom of heaven from the rich to everyone. The disciples have picked up on this general application, and this has prompted their response in v26. Now Jesus clearly states that eternal life may be beyond human ability, "for the poor and rich alike, but God can bring about the impossible!", Cranfield.

embleyaV (emblepw) aor. part. "looked at" - having looked at. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "says", "looked and said", or adverbial, temporal, "Then Jesus looked at them and said ..." Another personal stage direction by Mark.

autoiV dat. pro. "them" - them [jesus says]. Dative of direct object / complement of the participle "looking at/upon."

para + dat. "with" - beside [men]. Here expressing association, "with", but possibly or sphere.

adunaton "impossible" - this thing is impossible. Predicate adjective. "Such a thing is indeed impossible for men", Cassirer.

alla "but" - but. Adversative standing in a counterpoint construction.

gar "for" - [not with god] for [all things are possible]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why such is not impossible with God; "for everything is possible with God", Barclay.

para + gen. "with [God]" - beside [god]. Here expressing sphere, "in the sight of, before", but possibly as above, expressing association, "with".


iii] Peter's response prompts a teaching saying on reward, along with a warning, v28-31. In the context of grace, where God does the impossible on our behalf, Peter forgoes the proper response of a thankful reliance on divine mercy, and asserts his good works. He obviously assumes that his good works will further his attainment of the promised covenant blessings. Mark contrasts Peter's afihmi, leaving with the apercomai, leaving of the rich man, yet, as already indicated, the rich man's leaving is not necessarily negative, as is Peter's leaving not necessarily positive. A believer will leave their this-words-things, but it will be tentative and compromised and rest wholly on Christ's leaving (his death and resurrection) on their behalf.

It should be noted that most commentators do not take the line that "from the Markan viewpoint [Peter] is still among the blind ones who put what man can do before what God can give", Anderson. Boring, as does Marcus and Hurtado, reads Peter's words as validating a proper response to Christ, a response defined by Jesus which brings with it not only eschatological blessings, but the blessings of a "warm hearted ... Christian community" - leaving all is not loss, but gain. Most though, do detect something questionable about Peter's claimed "self-achievement" (Gundry) which at least "Jesus does not at once rebuke", Cranfield. Evans reads "a note of complaint" and the seeking out of a rightful "reward". Edwards reads a "plaintive statement ....., essentially a plea ..... in the face of a standard that threatens to reduce not only Peter, but all disciples to insignificance." France notes "a touch of smugness" ("a characteristic touch of exaggeration", Taylor; "tactless frankness", Swete; "self-congratulation", Lane) in Peter's response, but feels, as do most commentators, that it does reveal a proper response to Christ, a sacrifice which will be rewarded. Anderson's approach is to be preferred.

hrxato (arcw) aor. "-" - [peter] began. Possibly just functioning here as an auxiliary verb, "a mere equivalent for the (inceptive) imperfect", Taylor, although its full force may well be intended; "Peter began to say to him ......", NRSV, but Jesus then interrupts before his self-congratulatory testimony is properly underway. Note, Peter is again functioning as a spokesman for the disciples.

legein (legw) pres. inf. "said / spoke up" - to say. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of "began".

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - to him. Dative of indirect object.

hJmeiV "we" - we [have left everything]. Emphatic by use. The aorist verb "to leave" is punctiliar, expressing a definite act of leaving; "the decisive renunciation in Peter's mind stood out against the permanent following", Taylor. "Everything" is a rather bold claim, given that we know that the disciples continued to own property - houses, boats, ....!!! cf. 1:29, 3:9, 4:1, 36, Jn.21:3, Act.212:8, 1Cor.9:5, ...

soi dat. pro. "you" - [and have followed] you. Dative of direct object after the verb "to follow after." The perfect verb "to follow" expresses a past act with ongoing consequences, and serves to "describe the permanent role of discipleship", TH. "We followed and are following still", Swete.


A disciple doesn't lose out in the leaving, both now and in eternity, v29-30. One suspects that Jesus' words at this point are somewhat tongue in cheek. The blessings in the here and now may look like gain, but only in "the less tangible rewards of discipleship, and of the extended family of the followers of Jesus" (France). For the rest, such blessings come with no end of trouble. Even the blessing of the "extended family of the followers of Jesus" comes with its pain, as the apostle Paul could well attest ("the care of all the churches"). As to the originality of this saying of Jesus, some feel a need to argue that this is an "interpretive comment of the church", Anderson, but such is unnecessary, so Cranfield.

afh (afhmi) imperf. "[Jesus] replied" - [jesus] said [truly i say to you]. The imperfect is often used with speech and does not express aspect, but is simply descriptive, cf., Zerwick #272.

eJneken + gen. "for" - [there is no one who left house or brothers or sister or mother or father or children or fields] for the sake of, because of. Causal / "providing the reason for the previous action", Decker.

tou euaggeliou "the gospel" - the important message. Note that Luke has "for the sake of the kingdom", 18:29, which, of course, makes the same point; "In response to me and the wonderful news of the Messiah", Junkins. It is possible that for Jesus and for the gospel is a hendiadys, in that "Jesus is the content of the gospel", Hengel.


ean mh + subj. "-" - if, as is the case [he shall] not [receive]. Introducing a 3rd. class conditional clause where the apodosis is found in v29, oudeiV estin o}V ....., "then there is no one who .....", but the construction is awkward since o}V ou, "who will not .....", would be expected, Zerwick, rather than a negated conditional construction. The construction is avoided by Matthew and corrected by Luke. "Without receiving, Swete.

nun adv. "[in this present age]" - [a hundredfold] now [in this age houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields]. Temporal adverb, strengthened with a temporal en, "in". Usually expressed in the gospels as oJ aiwn ou|toV with Marks construction here reflecting Pauline use, Rom.3:26, cf., Swete, Taylor. "In this present world", Barclay.

meta + gen. "with" - with. Expressing association / accompaniment; "in company with."

diwgmwn (oV) "persecutions" - sufferings, harassments, persecutions. "And persecutions besides", REB. Not found in Matthew and Luke's record. The statement reinforces the possibility that Jesus' words are tongue in cheek.

tw/ ercomenw/ (ercomai) dat. pres. part. "[in the age] to come" - [and in] the one coming [age, life eternal]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, "the coming age / the age which is to come."


This concluding independent saying is found in a number of different contexts, appearing "to be eschatological and to refer to the many surprises that the final judgment will bring", so reversing the values of this present age, so Cranfield. As Edwards comments, "the kingdom of God topples our cherished priorities and demands". Indeed, the rich man has just faced this truth, but, given Peter's self congratulation, it seems that the disciples need reminding that "many who were last in line in this life (like the rich man who now recognises his state of loss before God), will find themselves to be among the first to receive the welcome of God in the next life", Junkins. And of course, those who think they are first in line, like Peter, could find themselves out in the cold; so beware!

de "but" - but/and. Possibly causal "for / because", Lagrange, although better treated as a transitional stitching device and so left untranslated.

escatoi adj. "last" - [many first will be] last [and the last first]. Predicate adjective.


Mark Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]