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

1 Growing division, 6:1-8:21

ii] The twelve are sent out


Following his rejection in Nazareth, Jesus commissions the twelve and sends them out on an extended mission throughout Galilee. He sends them two by two, to preach the gospel in both word and sign. They are to wear the garb of a roving prophet, leaving a blessing where they are accepted, and a curse where they are rejected.


With authority and power, both in word and sign, Jesus sends his disciples into the world / Israel to proclaim the dawning of the last days.


i] Context: See 6:1-6. The second major section in Mark's gospel, 6:1-10:52, is introduced by a short outline narrative which sets the theme for the section - a ministry of the Word prompting either opposition / rejection, or faith, 6:1-6. This is followed by a Markan sandwich: the mission of the twelve, 6:7-12, the Baptist's death, 6:14-29, and the account of the disciples' return from mission, 6:30.


ii] Structure: Jesus sends out the twelve:

The disciples are commissioned, v7;

Instructions, v8-11:

for the road, v8-9;

for the home, v10-11;

The mission is described, v12-13.


iii] Interpretation:

"First the call, then the choice, and finally the commission of the disciples. The time has come to test the results of their training (and to prepare them for future missions beyond the Cross). Jesus sends them forth two by two, no doubt on the scriptural and common-sense basis that 'two are better than one', Ecc.4:9. If we ask what is the purpose of the Mission, the answer is that it was to gather the People of God. He sends them out 'like men carrying the Fiery Cross through a Highland glen', and before they go he gives them their 'marching orders': First, they are to travel light; second, they are to preach and heal; third, they are to observe certain rules of hospitality; fourth, they are to remember whose ambassadors they are", Hunter.

Although it is not initially stated, the purpose of the mission is to preach the gospel - "the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe", v12. This proclamation in words is supported by a proclamation in signs, the most evident sign of the realised reign of God in Christ, is the binding of dark powers. So, Jesus sends his disciples out with the authority to cast out demons, cf., v6. The imperfect edidou, "he was giving", may imply the gift of an ongoing authority, but then, why do the disciples fail to cast out the demon in 9:18? Note the other synoptic gospels for their answer. Even if it is an ongoing authority, it is surely limited to the apostolic mission to the Jews. The authority to cast out demons comes directly from Christ and sets the apostles apart as his emissaries. Exorcism serves as the most significant of the signs of the coming kingdom for Israel, and as such, serves to act out the gospel message. If this sign is for Israel, what is the sign for Gentiles?

Oral transmission has obviously abbreviated Jesus' instructions to the disciples, but their point is clear enough, the disciples are to convey, by dress and behaviour, the cultural identifiers of a messenger of God's word, eg., a missioner accepts the hospitality on offer rather than seeks out a better offer, v10. Missioners are not only under orders to communicate the News, the gospel, they are bound to reveal the consequences of rejection, v11.


iv] Synoptics:

Matt.10:1, 5:-15, Lk.9:1-6. The priority of Mark is indicated by the truncated nature of what is a highly significant event in the ministry of Jesus - it is assumed that he would not abbreviate this tradition if a more fulsome one was available to him. Mark's glaring omission of the purpose of the mission is picked up by Luke when he adds; "he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal", v2. Although note how Matthew, like Mark, leaves out the purpose of the mission, 10:1 While Mark's account is very similar to Luke, Matthew's account is, in comparison, detailed and expansive.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the pew-level sermon notes Jesus sends out the twelve,

Text - 6:7

The mission of the twelve, v7-13: i] The commission, v7. Following his rejection in Nazareth, Jesus moves throughout Galilee, village to village, on a teaching mission, v6b. This is the third time Mark mentions such a mission. Jesus now expands this ministry. Jesus then gathers his disciples and prepares to send them out two by two. In calling and training his disciples, Jesus has prepared for the day when he will commission them as his representatives ("the sent one is as the man who commissions him", Jewish law). Jesus sends the disciples to proclaim the coming kingdom, both in word and sign. The authority to expel demons is the sign of greatest significance.

proskaleitai (proskaleomai) pres. "calling" - [and] he calls to self, summons [the twelve]. Narrative / historic present, probably used to indicate a change in narrative sequence. The word is often used in Mark of Jesus calling disciples or others to himself. It is likely that Jesus is drawing the 12 from a larger group of followers.

apostellein (apostellw) pres. inf. "he sent" - [and he began] to send out [them]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the verb "began", "he proceeded (began) to send them out", Moffatt. Jesus sends them as his qualified representatives.

duo duo "two by two" - Distributive; an unusual form in Greek and therefore most likely influenced by the Aramaic. The disciples' going out in pairs may reflect custom, and / or the law's requirement of at least two witnesses, and / or the practicalities of life.

edidou (didwmi) imperf. "gave" - [and] he was giving [authority]. The other synoptic gospels have an aorist tense. The imperfect may imply an ongoing authority, or it may simply reflect the presence of direct speech in the giving of the authority. "Sent them out two by two with power over evil spirits", CEV.

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

twn pneumatwn (a atoV) gen. "[impure] spirits" - of the [unclean] spirits. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic, of subordination; "over", as NIV.


ii] Instructions for the road, v8-9. Jesus' instructions for the mission are interpreted in various ways. It is often suggested that the requirements were designed to teach the disciples about dependence on God. Yet, it is more likely that they were cultural behaviour-codes for wondering teachers / prophets. The disciples went "two by two" (v7) because truth is established "by the mouth of two witnesses", Deut.17:6, while their dress defined their business - they were messengers from God. So, these are likely markers for a wondering teacher / prophet, something like the clerical collar, a marker used by clergy up to the end of twentieth century (before we decided it was better to blend in!!!).

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - [and he commanded, instructed, gave order to] them. Dative of direct object after the para prefix verb "to command, give order to."

iJna + subj. "-" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of direct speech, expressing the content of the instructions.

airwsin (airw) pres. subj. "take [nothing]" - they should lift up, take away [nothing]. Jesus' instruction is emphasised by using the present tense of the subjunctive verb.

eiV + acc. "for [the journey]" - into [the way]. Probably here expressing purpose / end view; "for the purpose of the way / journey."

ei mh "except [a staff]" - except [a walking stick, staff only]. Introducing an exceptive clause expressing a contrast by designating an exception. The instruction is emphasised by the addition of monon, "only". The purpose of this exception is unclear. Defence seems unlikely, but possibly it is all part of the dress-code for a wandering prophet - it has the Moses / Charlton Heston look about it! The person with the stick gets to speak!!

phran (a) "[no] bag" - [not bread, not] knapsack. Probably "no haversack", NJB, although "no begging bag" is possible. The disciples must rely on the hospitality of the villages they visit.

eiV + acc. "in [your belt]" - [nor copper] into [the girdle, belt]. Spatial, expressing arrival at here. The girdle can serve as a form of money belt. "No money in their pockets", Phillips.


alla "-" - but. Adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "no money in your belt, but it is OK to wear a pair of sandals."

upodedemenouV (uJpodeomai) perf. mid. part. "wear [sandals]" - having had tied on [your feet sandals to journey]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "do [not] dress", so also imperatival / permissive; "wear sandals." The accusative participle, with its accusative object, "sandals", probably stands as the accusative subject of an assumed infinitive, so Hort 99. Cranfield suggests poreuesqai, "to journey". "Its alright to wear sandals", CEV.

kai "but" - and. Coordinative, continuing the negative instructions; "and do not put on two shirts."

mh endushsqe (enduw) aor. subj. "[no extra shirt]" - do not put on, wear, be clothed in [two shirts]. Subjective of prohibition, Decker, although the iJna construction from v8 continues. On the face of it, the prohibition is that they are not to put one "tunic" over another. This is a rather strange instruction; it may serve to limit luxurious dress, but, given the context, it is likely a prohibition against taking an extra tunic. Clearly the instructions concern the present mission, and are more related to culture than poverty. Note Manson's observation that similar instructions were in vogue regarding attendance at the Temple, although would Jesus direct his disciples to practice pharisaical piety.


iii] Instructions for the home, v10-11. A village may either accept or reject the prophet and his message. Those who accept the prophet, following custom, offer hospitality, while those who reject, face the sign of judgement. A Jew, leaving Gentile territory, would normally dust themselves off, dissociating themselves from the judgement hanging over that land. So, the "dust off your feet" is a piece of pointed street-theatre. Cranfield suggests that the instruction on staying in the same house serves to stop a disciple becoming upwardly mobile if better accommodation is offered - a genuine prophet does not act this way.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - [and he was saying] to them. Dative of indirect object. Some suggest that the editorial note "and he said to them" indicates that the instruction comes from another source, others that it simply serves to refocus the reader on the source of the words, namely, Jesus.

o{pou ean + subj. "whenever" - whenever [you enter into a house]. Introducing a temporal conditional clause 3rd. class where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "whenever, as the case may be, ..... then ..."

eJwV an + subj. "Until" - [remain, abide, continue there] until. Introducing an indefinite temporal clause, expressing future, or habitual action.

ekeiqen adv. "that town" - [you leave] from there. Adverb of place, referring to a locality; "that place", Barclay.


o}V an + subj. "if any" - [and] whatever. Introducing a relative conditional clause, third class, where the condition has the possibility of coming true; "whatever, as may be the case, ..... then ....".

topoV "place" - place. Nominative subject of the verb "to receive." Possibly here a "household". The point is, there will be some villages where all the households will reject the messengers.

dexhtai (decomai) aor. subj. "will [not] welcome" - will [not] welcome, receive [you]. "Wherever they will not receive or listen to you", Weymouth.

uJmwn gen. pro. "you" - [nor listen to] you. Genitive of direct object after the verb akouw, "to hear."

ekporeuomenoi (ekporeuomai) pres. part. "leave" - going out from [there]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperative verb "to shake off", and so similarly imperative, as NIV.

ektinaxate (ektinassw) aor. imp. "shake [the dust] off" - shake, shake off [the dust]. Alluding to the practice of pious Jews who carefully remove the dust of a heathen land before reentering Jewish territory. A gesture of disassociation. "Shake the last speck of dust from your feet as you would do if you were leaving a heathen town", Barclay.

ton "-" - the [under the feet of you]. The article serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional construction "under your feet" into an attributive modifier; "the dust which is under your feet."

eiV + acc. "as" - into = to/for [a testimony, witness]. The preposition expresses purpose here.

autoiV dat. pro. "against them" - to them. Dative of interest, disadvantage, as NIV. A witness to/against the people of that place, either to the people themselves, or to God. If a sign to the people, the gesture may serve to prompt a change of heart, but it seems more likely a gesture "against", in the sense of a sign of judgment. Rejecting the messenger and their message is dangerous. "Shake off the very dust from the soles of your feet as a warning to them", Williams.


iv] Mark gives a thumb-nail description of the mission, v12-13. Mark summarises the mission in terms of a proclamation by word and sign. The disciples proclaim the coming kingdom in the message of the gospel, and they also proclaim it in the messianic signs of exorcism and healing. Mark summarises their message as a call for repentance. In the face of the coming kingdom and the judgment it brings, we can only but turn toward ("repent") the living God and seek his mercy. The reference to the use of oil in healing is interesting. Although part of ancient medical treatment, it was probably only used by the disciples as a theatrical prop. It was the messiah's power in healing that proclaimed the kingdom's coming.

ekhruxan (khrussw) aor. "preached" - [and having gone out] they preached, proclaimed. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "preached", as NIV. The purpose of the mission, namely, preaching the gospel in word and sign, is not mentioned in the initial charge, v7. None-the-less, it is obvious that proclamation is central to the mission. They preached the gospel (message) of the coming kingdom.

iJna + subj. "that" - that. Here introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what the disciples preached.

metanowsin (metanoew) subj. "people should repent" - they should repent, change their mind, turn about. Mark reminds us of the expected response to the message which he has already summarised in 1:15. Repentance involves an acceptance of God's reign in Christ by turning to Jesus for forgiveness. Note, repentance is not a feeling of sorrow for past actions, although sorrow is certainly a byproduct. "Turn to God", CEV.


exeballon (ekballw) imperf. "they drove out" - [and] they were casting out [many demons]. The imperfect, being durative, may imply an ongoing success in casting out demons, although Mark's choice of imperfect verbs in this verse may serve to express action that is associated rather than primary, so Decker. Jesus casts out a few, his disciples "many". The mission serves to extend Jesus' authority to the many. The casting out of demons, as noted above, serves as a powerful sign of the dawning kingdom. "If I by the finger of God cast out demons then the kingdom of God is come upon you."

hleifon (aleifw) imperf. "anointed" - [and] they were anointing [many sick people]. Most commentators see the anointing as symbolic rather than medicinal, even though olive oil was used as a cure-all. Yet, what was the point of the symbol, particularly as Jesus doesn't use oil himself? The only other reference to the use of oil in healing is in James 5:14, so we are at a bit of a loss to understand the point of its use here.

elaiw/ (on) dat. "-" - with oil. The dative is instrumental, expressing means.

eqerapeuon (qerapeuw) imperf. "healed them" - [and] they were treating, caring for, healing [them]. "And cured them", Barclay.


Mark Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]