The journey begins, 1:1-5:43

2. Jesus the Son of God, Messiah, 1:14-45

i] The call to follow Jesus


The divine coming-one has been announced and empowered with the Spirit and now sets out to proclaim the day of the coming kingdom. For this task, Jesus gathers a band of ordinary men to follow him. They will be with him all the way to the cross and from there, they will take the message concerning the coming kingdom to the ends of the world. To this end, Jesus calls Simon and his brother Andrew, and James and his brother John, all of whom are fishermen.


The righteous one, empowered by the Spirit and with a team of called-out disciples, enters Satan's domain to do battle, proclaiming the dawning of the new age of the kingdom.


i] Context: See 1:1:1-8. Divisions within this gospel are somewhat arbitrary, so it is not possible to be definite when segmenting Mark's work. There is much to be said for treating 1:1-15 as the prologue, with 1:16 as the commencement of the gospel proper, but it is equally possible to argue that the gospel proper begins at v14. Either way, Jesus' calling of his first disciples introduces the early Galilean ministry, 1:14-3:6.


ii] Structure: The call to follow Jesus:

A summary of the preaching ministry of Jesus, v14-15;

The calling of two groups of disciples:

Simon and his brother Andrew, v16-18;

James and his brother John, v19-20.



iii] Interpretation:

The opening sentence, v14-15, provides us with "the gospel in a nutshell", Edwards. The gospel announces that the long-promised righteous reign of God over his called-out, and blessed people is about to begin / has begun (the now / not yet dichotomy again!).

The rest of the passage deals with an invitation to discipleship, first to Simon / Peter and Andrew, v16-18, and then to James and John, v19-20. In these verses we read how Jesus gathers partners in his quest; they turn out to be a group of fallible men who will be with him all the way to Gethsemane. Although slow in understanding the full import of Jesus' person, and inevitably failing him in the face of danger, they will carry his word beyond the confines of Palestine to the ends of the world.


iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of the passage can be found in the pew-level sermon notes Repent and Believe the Good News.

Text - 1:14

The proclamation of the reign of God, v14-15: i] "The Messiah announces that the decisive hour has struck", Hunter, v14. Mark separates the ministry of Jesus from that of John the Baptist, so only after the arrest of John does Jesus begin his ministry in earnest. John's function, therefore, is to prepare the way for Jesus' coming, 1:2.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

meta .. to paradoqhnai (paradidwmi) aor. inf. "after [John] was put in prison" - after [john] was delivered over, handed over, turned over to prison. This preposition, with the articular infinitive, forms a temporal clause, subsequent time. The sense is obviously "handed over to be imprisoned / face trial." Mark clearly has Jesus' public ministry following John's. "After John was arrested", CEV.

eiV + acc. "into [Galilee]" - [jesus came] into [galilee]. Spatial, expressing the direction of the action and arrival at. Not only does Jesus commence his public ministry in his home province, but it also becomes the centre for his ministry.

khrusswn (khrussw) pres. part. "proclaiming" - communicating. Possibly an attendant circumstance participle identifying action accompanying the main verb "went", Jesus went .... and preached", but better treated as adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of Christ's coming, "he came preaching", or final, expressing purpose, "he came in order to preach." The ministry of Jesus, as with the ministry of John, is constantly defined as one of communicating a message - a ministry entrusted to Jesus' disciples.

to euaggelion (on) "the good news" - the important news. Accusative direct object of khrusswn. The word was used of an important message, such as news reported from a battlefront. The message may be good news, or bad news, either way, it is important; "God's important message to humanity."

thV basileiaV (a) "-" - of the kingdom. This variant is widely attested, but often not read: "the important message of the kingdom. In modifying the noun "important news" the genitive is best taken as adjectival, possessive, "belonging to", or idiomatic / attributive, "which is all about ....", or ablative, source / origin, "originating from ...", or even adverbial, reference / respect, "concerning ...." Reminding us of the content of the message, namely, the coming kingdom - the dawning of God's promised righteous reign.

tou qeou "of God" - of god. The genitive may be classified as adjectival, possessive, "God's good news", Barclay, or verbal, subjective, "the good news from God", Cranfield / ablative, expressing source / origin / separation, "originating / proceeding from God" , even verbal, objective, "the Good News about / concerning God", Decker, or more obtusely, plenary / full, so Wallace.


ii] Mark now outlines the actual message communicated by Jesus, v15. Matthew has John communicating the same message, cf. Matt.3:2, although the Baptist's message is qualified by the fact that the inauguration of the kingdom is in the hands of the coming messiah. John's task is to prepare Israel for the messiah's coming. Mark emphasises John's preparatory role and leaves Jesus to communicate the divine message.

The word "gospel" actually means "important message" and it is either good news, or bad news, depending on how we respond to it. There are three parts to Jesus' message and Mark gives us a summary:

*"The time has come / is fulfilled / completed". All that the prophets foretold concerning the coming of the messiah, the anointed Davidic leader, is coming to fruition in and through the person of Jesus, the Son of Man / God.

*"The kingdom of God is near / at hand / bursting in upon us." The glorious day when God will fulfil his promises to Abraham, gathering a people to himself to eternally live secure under his rule of peace, is bursting into this world. This reality is actualised in the person of Jesus who both inaugurates the kingdom in the present moment and will realise it at his second coming - it is a now / not yet reality, realised and inaugurated.

*"Repent and believe". The message demands a response. The call for repentance is similar to John's call. Membership in the coming kingdom demands a turning toward the living God. It is a turning back to God, a conversion. The response also involves belief: faith, dependence on, firm reliance on, a reliance on the promise of salvation in Christ / grace. Both John and Jesus link "repent and believe" with "forgiveness". Our response to the gospel involves both a turning to God and a reliance on God for mercy, for God's free grace of forgiveness in Christ.

legwn (legw) pres. part. "he said" - [and] saying. Coordinate attendant circumstance participle with the participle "preaching", v14, "went .... preaching .... saying."

oJti "-" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement, direct speech.

oJ kairoV (oV) "the time" - opportune time, appointed time. Nominative subject of the verb "has been fulfilled." "A specific quality of a particular period of time", Cullmann.

peplhrwtai (plhrow) perf. "has come" - has been fulfilled, filled up to overflowing. The sense "completed" is best, in that the prophecies concerning the coming of the messiah and the inauguration of his kingdom, have now come to fruition in the person and work of Christ, therefore, the kingdom is upon us, is "now". The perfect tense underlines the idea of completion. "The time, prophesied long ago, has come at last."

tou qeou "of God" - [the kingdom] of god. The dynamic reign of God through Christ, the realisation of which brings eternal peace and for which those of faith yearn, is a now / not yet reality. Taken as "the righteous reign of God", the genitive "of God" would be classified as verbal, subjective. Addressing "kingdom" in time / space terms we would classify "of God" as adjectival, possessive, or ablative, source / origin, "from God." The "kingdom" is best defined as the righteous reign / rule / kingship of God, now open to all people, in and through the ministry of the messiah. The gathering of this people, and the exercise of this reign, is inaugurated, and comes to fruition, in the person and work of Jesus. Its reality is imaged in the Old Testament, particularly in the historic kingdom of Israel, before finding its fulfilment in Jesus. For the people of Israel, the term "the kingdom of God" was highly charged, in that it encapsulated the messiah's establishment of the eschatological reign of God over Israel, in defiance of all secular powers, which powers will bow in adoration before God's mighty intervention in human affairs. There is, of course, debate over whether the kingdom is a time / space reality, or just a descriptor of divine rule. The kingdom as "the righteous reign of God" has more going for it, but as Wanamaker points out, the kingdom is both "domain and dominion."

hggiken (eggizw) perf. "is near" - has come near, approached, drawn near. Drawing near expresses motion toward, so the perfect tense is probably expressing the idea that the motion is time related, such that the realisation of the kingdom has virtually reached its completion, therefore "at hand", "near", "imminent", possibly, "upon", "rubbing up next to." Of course, the word leads to the great debate over the now / not yet shape of the kingdom. Without in any way denying that the kingdom of God is yet to be fully realised in the return of Christ, there is still much to be said for Dodd's version or realised eschatology. France puts it nicely when he argues that it has burst on the scene "recently and is now here", ie., the kingdom is both inaugurated and realised. "The kingdom of God is bursting in upon you."

metanoiete (metanoew) imp. "repent" - change [your direction]. The word carries the sense, "turn around", so the first imperative, in response to the gospel message, is "turn from your opposition to / abandonment of, God", "turn to God", "be converted." Of course, the word "repent" means something quite different in modern language, so we are best not to use it; "turn back to God", CEV.

pisteuete (pisteuw) pres. imp. "believe" - [and] believe. The sense of the second imperative, in response to the gospel, is "believe": "to put one's weight on", "rest firmly on", rather than "give intellectual ascent to."

en + dat. "in [the good news]" - in [the important message]. Local; the sense being "believe in (the sphere of) the gospel", Moule IB, or better, "believe the message." Specifying "the content that is believed, or the person who is to be trusted", Decker.


The call of the first disciples, v16-20: i] Peter and Andrew, v16-18. Early in Jesus' ministry, he gathers around him a group of very ordinary people to serve as his disciples. "The story of Jesus is the story of community, and there is no Christology apart from ecclesiology and discipleship", Boring. The two fishermen, Simon and Andrew, are called first. John tells us that they were disciples of John the Baptist and were therefore well prepared for the call, Jn.1:35-42. They are called to be "fishers of men." The term has Old Testament significance. In the day of judgement God will cast his net over the sea of humanity and gather some for life and others for damnation. The disciples are called to gather in the lost before the dawning of that terrible day.

paragwn (paragw) pres. part. "As [Jesus] walked" - [and] passing by. The variant "walking" gives the same sense as "passing along / by." The participle is adverbial, probably temporal; "when (while) Jesus was walking along the shore", Barclay.

para + acc. "beside" - alongside [the sea, lake]. Spatial; "alongside." The sea of Galilee is more properly a lake, although Mark calls it a sea. Jesus focuses his ministry on the Jewish towns around the lake, making his headquarters in Capernaum.

thV GalilaiaV (a) gen. "of Galilee" - The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / locative; "the sea which is located in the region of Galilee", also bearing the name Gennesaret or Tiberias."

SimwnoV (wn) gen. "his [brother Andrew]" - [he saw simon and andrew, the brother] of simon. The genitive is adjectival, relational. ton adelfon, "the brother [of him]", accusative in apposition to "Simon".

amfiballontaV (amfiballw) pres. part. "casting a net" - casting their fishing nets. The participle serves as the accusative complement of the direct object "Simon and his brother Andrew", standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the direct object, namely that Simon and Andrew were fishing.

en + dat. "into" - in [the lake]. Spacial; expressing space.

gar "for" - because [they were fisherman]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why they were casting a net into the lake, namely, "because they were fisherman", "being fisherman", Cassirer. It is fascinating to note that common fishermen are called to serve as Jesus' apostles (the sent ones), although note that Zebedee employed "hired men", indicating that James and John were not at the bottom of the social scale, cf., v20.


deute "come" - come here. Plural form of the adverb serving as an imperatival interjection.

opisw + gen. "follow [me]" - after [me]. Properly an adverb, but in the NT it functions as a preposition. An invitation to take up an apprenticeship with the rabbi Jesus, although in rather stark terms; "Here! Behind me", France. It is likely that these disciples of John knew Jesus well, and now that John had been arrested, were given the opportunity to serve the one John had pointed to.

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

kai "and" - and. Somewhat consecutive in force; "and as a result, I will make you fishers of men."

genesqai (ginomai) aor. inf. "-" - [i will make you] to be / become. The infinitive, with its accusative subject "you" and its accusative object "fishers of me", introduces an object clause / dependent statement of cause, indicating what Jesus "will make", although Decker classifies it simply as complementary. The sense of the verb poihsw, "I will make" is "cause someone to do something", Cranfield, so "I will make you become in the future, after a course of preparation, ...", Grant.

anqrwpwn (oV) gen. "[fishers] of men" - [fishermen] of men. The genitive is adjectival, limiting "fisherman", attributive, idiomatic / verbal, objective; "fishermen who fish for men." In Jeremiah 16:16, we read of God sending his servants to fish-out his people for judgment, either for blessing or cursing, cf,. Amos 4:2, Hab.1:14-17, also Ezk.47:8-10. This image may well prompt Jesus' use of his fishing metaphor here, and so remind us again that the preaching of the gospel is like a two edge sword, it both blesses and curses. If the Old Testament allusion is somewhat strained, we are bound to read back a knowledge of the Christian mission to make sense of the metaphor. The disciples will gather people into the kingdom through the preaching of the gospel; "I will make you fishermen who catch men", Barclay.


euquV "at once" - [and] immediately. Mark expresses a speedy response to image Jesus' authority, although Decker opts for a more inferential sense, "so".

afenteV (afihmi) aor. part. "they left" - leaving, abandoning [the nets]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "followed", or adverbial, temporal, "so, when they had left their nets they followed him." The act of leaving their nets may serve to illustrate a renunciation of the world in service to Jesus, but since we know that the disciples retained their property, including fishing boats (cf. Jn.21:3), it is more likely that they packed up their gear for the time being in order to go on mission with their new rabbi. The word diktua can mean any net, although probably "casting net" is intended.

hkolouqhsan (akolouqew) aor. "followed" - they followed after. A literal "following" is probably intended, "went with him", CEV, although a derived sense may be present, ie.,l "follow as a disciple", "became his followers", Barclay.

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - Dative of direct object after the verb "to follow".


ii] The call of James and John, v19-20. James and John are called next. The context implies that they too will serve as messengers of coming judgement, gathering and separating. They, like Simon and Andrew, immediately accept the sovereign call of God in Jesus. Given the one who calls, they have no other choice. Their return to Galilee, at the end of Mark's gospel, serves to reaffirm and refocus this call to mission, 16:7, cf., John chapter 21. It has been argued that the call of James and John appears later in the oral tradition, but that Mark has moved it forward and stitched it to the call of Simon and Andrew, so Marcus.

probaV (probainw) pres. part. "when he had gone" - [and] having gone on. The participle is adverbial, best treated as introducing a temporal clause, as NIV.

oligon adv. "a little further" - a little [he saw james]. The neuter of the adjective "small" is used as an adverb.

ton "-" - the. The article serves here as a nominalizer, turning the genitive noun "of Zebedee" into the accusative substantive "the one = son of Zebedee" standing in apposition to "James."

tou Zeedaiou (oV) gen. "son of Zebedee" - of zebedee [and john the brother of him]. The genitive is adjectival, relational.

kai "-" - and [them = they were]. Here somewhat epexegetic, specifying what autouV, "they", ie., James and John, were up to, "namely that they were beside the boat mending their nets."

en tw/ ploiw/ "in a boat" - in, with, by the = their boat. The definite article probably serves as a possessive pronoun, "their", while the preposition en probably expresses sphere of operation, "beside the boat", rather than "in", since the last place a person works on a net is in the confined space of a boat.

katarizontaV (katartizw) part. "preparing" - mending, restoring, strengthening [the = their nets]. Given that the participle is accusative, standing in agreement with autouV, "them", "James ..... John", it probably serves as the accusative complement of the direct object of the verb "he saw", asserting a fact about the object, "he saw James ...... John / them ...... mending"; "who were in the boat mending their nets", RSV. As noted by Cranfield, obviously "preparing" their nets for the next day's fishing.


euquV "without delay" - immediately. Used also in v18 and possibly wanting to convey an instantaneous call and response, but probably here just expressing a sense of haste - a forward movement to the story. If the latter, then best not translated. Possibly inferential, "so"; see v18 - "he then called them", Guelich.

ekalesen (kalew) aor. "he called" - he called, summoned, invited [them]. The stronger sense, as in "summon before a court of law", is reflected in the derived sense, "called to discipleship." The sense "invited" may be intended.

afenteV (afihmi) aor. part. "they left" - [and] leaving. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "followed"; "they left ..... and followed ..."

outwn "their" - [the father zebedee] of them. Genitive of relationship.

en + dat. "in" - in [the boat]. Locative, expressing sphere, as above; "beside".

meta + gen. "with" - with [the hired labourers and departed after him]. Expressing association / accompaniment. The hired labourers are not to be confused with servants or slaves; these men were employees of Zebedee.


Mark Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]