The journey begins, 1:1-5:43

4. The true Israel defined 3:7-35

i] The new Israel of God


Opposition from Israel's religious officials now forces Jesus to move from the local synagogue to the countryside where he continues to preach and heal. Great crowds gather to Jesus from all over Palestine, and Mark records the use of a boat as a makeshift pulpit to deal with the increasing number of onlookers. Just by touching Jesus the sick are healed and the possessed exorcised. The demons, probably in an attempt to gain mastery over Jesus, declare their knowledge of him, but Jesus simply silences them and sends them packing. Seeking solitude from the hubbub, Jesus withdraws to the desolate hill-country, and there he appoints the twelve that they might be with him and assist in preaching the gospel.


Jesus the messiah, the Son of God, exercises his authority over the new Israel through his chosen apostles.


i] Context: See 1:1-8. In the first major section of Mark's gospel, 1:1-5:43, Jesus is initially revealed as the messianic saviour, preaching, healing and exorcising with great power. We then moved into controversy, 2:1-3:6, but now we are again confronted by the messianic saviour, healing and exorcising, although now seemingly hiding his identity while gathering a new Israel based on his own personal authority, an authority which is mediated by his apostles, those called to be "with him."


ii] Structure: The New Israel of God:

The Galilean ministry summarised, v7-12;

The appointment of the twelve, v13-19.

The commission, v13-15;

The twelve, v16-19.


iii] Interpretation:

The opening verses serve to refocus the reader on Jesus the messiah after the series of conflict stories, 2:1-3:6. Crowds press in on Jesus, "human sufferers fall upon him in their agitation to touch him, and the unclean spirits fall before him blaring out his divine (messianic??) identity. The quick and dramatic succession of these two falling groups contributes to the sense of Jesus' awesome sovereignty and power in the midst of a chaotic situation", Marcus.

We then move to see how the Christian community, those who have decided to accept the call to follow Jesus, will experience Jesus' authority. The authority of Jesus will be mediated to the Christian community in the creation of the twelve, cf., Boring, p99. These leaders, representing the twelve tribes of the new Israel, are called to be "with" Jesus, and authorised as Jesus representatives in both word and sign. For us, this ministry is realised in the gospels and contextualised in Paul's epistles.


The apostolic commission, v14-15: The task of an apostle is to proclaim the coming kingdom in both word and sign. Given that an instruction to a particular group of people at a particular moment in time is not necessarily an instruction for all people at all times, Jesus' instructions to the apostles do not necessarily apply to individual believers today.

Although the instructions does not apply to the individual, they do apply to the apostolic community as a whole, namely, the church. We are commissioned, as a people of God, to proclaim the coming kingdom in words and signs, words and signs contextualised for a Gentile world (a process evidenced in Acts, eg., Paul's Areopagus sermon). So, we communicate the promise of eternal life rather than a coming kingdom, and build a community of love rather than cast out demons, for "by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." Rather than employ Jesus' two-by-two method of communication, a medium suited to first century Judaism, we employ mediums suited to the twenty-first century: social (Twitter, Face Book), electronic media, print, organisational (eg., The Bible Society), .... By this means we fulfil Christ's commission.


iv] Synoptics:

i] A summary of the Galilean ministry, 3:7-12: Matt.4:24-25, Lk.6:17-19. Both Matthew and Luke condense Mark's account. In this episode / pericope, Mark draws together snippets of tradition in order to provide a overall summary of Jesus' public ministry.

The appointment of the twelve, 3:13-19: Matt.5:1, 10:1, Lk.6:14-16, Acts 1:13. Mark's account aligns more with Luke than Matthew, although Matthew, like Mark, sees the selection of "the twelve" in the terms of a delegation of authority.


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

Text - 3:7

The new Israel of God, v7-19: i] The messianic signs, v7-12. Mark sets the scene for us, v7-8. Jesus may be having trouble with Israel's religious authorities and increasingly finds himself unwelcome in the local synagogues, but the populous at large happily flocks to see him in the countryside. Mark tells us that people from all over Palestine come to see Jesus at work.

As France notes, this contained unit could be inserted at any point in the Galilean narrative, but it is placed here to provide a context for the selection of the twelve in distinction from the crowd of enthusiastic fair-weather disciples. It is clear that Jesus' ministry is word-focused / gospel-focused, but it is interesting that Mark, at this point, mentions only the healings and exorcisms / the signs. It is possible that Mark is making a point, namely that this "great multitude" is attracted by what Jesus is "doing", not what he is saying. Jesus' ministry may be word-focused, but those who "followed him" are deed-focused. This explains Jesus' desire to implement the messianic secret, particularly evident in his silencing of the demons. The mystery of the coming kingdom is for those with eyes to see, namely, the seekers after truth (the twelve), and only they will know the truth and receive the authority to make it known.

anecwrhsen (anacwrew) aor. "[Jesus] withdrew" - [and jesus] went back, departed, retired. The word can be used of flight, of taking refuge, so MM; "a tactical withdrawal", France.

meta + gen. "with" - with [his disciples]. Expressing accompaniment.

proV + acc. "to" - toward [the sea, lake galilee] Spatial, expressing movement toward.

apo + gen. "from [Galilee]" - [and a great multitude] from [galilee]. Expressing source / origin.

hkolouqhsen (akolouqew) aor. "followed" - followed him [and = also from judea]. Variant reading, probably original, expressing the idea that fair-weather disciples followed Jesus from Galilee to the lake and that other people who had heard of what he was doing were also drawn from all points of the compass to join with them. "Crowds of people form Galilee followed him. The crowds frocked to him also from ....", Barclay.


akouonteV (akouw) pres. part. "When they heard" - [and from jerusalem and from idumea and on the other side of the jordan and around tyre and sidon, a great crowed followed him.] hearing. The participle is adverbial, best taken as temporal, as NIV, but with a causal touch; "all these crowds came because they heard what Jesus was doing", CEV.

o{sa pro. "all" - how great, how much (neut. pl.) = everything that [he was doing].

hlqon (ercomai) aor. "came" - they came [toward him]. The plhqoV polu, "great crowd", although singular, implies a plural and this has influenced the plural form of ercomai, "to come."

IdoumaiaV (a) gen. "Idumea" - South of Jerusalem, Edom, the Negev. The region was settled by the Edomites. They were later forced by the Maccabees to convert to Judaism. They were not regarded as true Jews and for this reason Herod, who was an Idumaean, was viewed with some suspicion by racially pure Jews.

peran tou Iordanou + gen. "across the Jordan" - Perea, not the more Gentile Decapolis.

peri Turon kai Sidwna + acc. "around Tyre and Sidon" - "The neighbourhood of Tyre and Sidon", TH. Referring to the Jewish settlements north of Galilee.


On this occasion, the push of the crowd is so great that the disciples commender a boat for a pulpit. In a rather pointed comment, Mark notes the reason for Jesus' popularity; it has little to do with the message he preaches, but the miracles he performs. The people press in to touch him so that they might be healed.

dia + acc. "because of" - [and] because of [the crowd. Causal, introducing a causal clause.

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

iJna "to" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Jesus said to the disciples.

ploiarion (on) "a small boat" - a boat. Nominative subject of the verb "to be ready." Diminutive form of "boat", so "small boat", although often diminutive forms lose their power over time, so possibly just "a boat", DDG.

autw/ dat. pro. "for him" - [should remain at hand, stand ready] for him. Dative of interest, advantage.

iJna mh "-" - lest [they crush, compress him]. Introducing a negated purpose clause, "in order that they not crush him" = "to keep the people from crowding him", ESV. The verb takes a plural subject, "they", even though "they" = "crowd" is singular. Idiomatic form.


gar "for" - because [he healed many]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why a boat is needed for a pulpit, because, given the miracles Jesus was performing, people were crushing in to touch him.

w{ste + inf. "so that" - so that = the result was that they [to fall upon = fell upon him]. This construction is consecutive here, expressing result. The accusative subject of the infinitive is assumed, with the infinitive, epipiptein, taking a dative of direct object autw/, "him". The picture is of a crowd pushing forward and falling over Jesus in an attempt to get close to him and touch him.

iJna + subj. "to" - that = in order that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose. The crowd hold a rather magical view of Jesus' capacity to heal. We are not told whether they were all healed, although Mark does give us examples of this type of healing successfully working, 5:25-34, 6:56, cf., 2Ki.13:21, Acts.5:15-16, 19:11-12. Such behaviour does serve to differentiate the crowd of fair-weather disciples from the apostles.

o{soi pro. "those [with diseases]" - as many as [had whip = sickness, illness, afflictions, might touch him]. Serving as a substantive, subject of the verb "to have." "Those suffering from bodily afflictions of any kind pressed about him in their eagerness to touch him", Cassirer.


The crowd sees Jesus as a miracle worker, but when he confronts people who are demon possessed, the demons know very well who they are dealing with - "the Son of God." The demons state who Jesus is in an attempt to get the better of him, a kind of "we know who you are and we have your measure." Of course, they don't, and so Jesus tells them to shut up. Jesus obviously casts them out, although Mark doesn't tell us one way or the other. It's interesting how Jesus often keeps his identify secret; it's as if he wants only those who seek after the truth to find the truth - miracle-seeking crowds will never find the truth.

o{tan + ind. "whenever" - whenever. Introducing an indefinite temporal clause, even though followed by an indicative rather than the usual subjunctive; the imperfect tense, being durative, suggests an indefinite time frame. The temporal clause is somewhat conditional, expressing a general supposition; "whenever, as the case may be, ..... then ....."

ta pneumata ta akaqarta "the impure spirits" - the unclean spirits [saw him]. Nominative subject of the verb "to fall down before." Referring to demon possessed persons.

autw/ dat. pro. " him" - [they were falling down before] him. Dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to fall down before (at the feet of)." The doing of obeisance expresses subservience to a greater one.

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "-" - [and they were crying out, shrieking, screaming] saying. Attendant circumstance participle, or adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of their calling out, redundant, so just "cried out." The reference may be to one or more demon-possessed persons, but either way, a single person may be possessed by many unclean spirits who together screamed.

oJti "-" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of direct speech expressing what they say.

tou qeou (oV) "of God" - [you are the son] of god. The genitive is adjectival, relational. The term "Son of God" is probably being used in its messianic sense rather than a filial sense, although for Mark, the title expresses high christology and soon becomes the authentic confession of believers. The demons recognise the presence of a superior and by declaring their knowledge of Jesus they either defer to him or try to gain mastery over him; a kind of "we know who you are" - they think they have his measure. The trouble is, Jesus has their measure and so shuts them up, v12. The Father declares Jesus as such, 1:11, the disciples finally get onto it, 9:7, the truth is out at Jesus' trial, 14:61-62, and even a soldier works it out, 15:39, but long before this, the demons were well onto it.


As already noted, there is no mention of an exorcism here, just an action to end the demons' shouting, but why does Jesus silence the demons when they reveal who he is? A demonic revelation is certainly inappropriate, and as noted above, their words are likely to be mischievous and so are properly silenced. Of course, Jesus tells many people not to reveal who he is, even his disciples, 8:30. The purpose of Jesus' action, commonly called the messianic secret, is not overly clear. Jesus may want to restrain popular acclaim - it would not be helpful for gospel ministry to have the populous stirred up with messianic expectations which inevitably lead to a rebellion against Rome. Yet, one suspects that the main reason is that the kingdom is for seekers, those with eyes to see; only the seeker after truth deserves to know the truth - the rest are left with amazement and wonder.

epetima (epitimaw) imperf. + dat. "he gave [them strict] orders" - [and] he [greatly] rebuked. This verb is used of Jesus' exorcisms, 1:25, 5:9. France argues it reflects the Hebrew gaar, a "subjugating word", a word that brings the demons under control; "and he charged them strictly not to make him known", Berkeley. Note that the adjective polla, "many", is used as an adverb, so "greatly, sternly strongly, strictly ordered them. "

autoiV dat. pro. "them" - them. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to rebuke."

iJna mh + subj. "not to" - lest [they should make him]. Possibly introducing an exceptive clause expressing a contrast by designating an exception, although iJna + the subjunctive is more likely introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech here, expressing what the demons should not do; "he gave them strict orders that they not make him known." In 1:25 Jesus simply told them fimwqhti, "be muzzled", or simply, "shut up."

faneron adj. "about [him]" - manifest, evident, clear, plain. Accusative complement of the direct object "him", standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the object. "lest they should make him known" = "reveal the identity of", TH.


ii] The twelve are chosen, v13-19. Jesus withdraws to the highlands and selects from those who follow him twelve special disciples, later known as apostles, sent-ones, v13-15. These twelve are to join with Jesus in full-time ministry. They will be with Jesus and learn from him and will have the authority to proclaim the gospel both in words and signs. The most outstanding sign of the gospel for Jews living in the first century, is the exercise of authority over dark powers.

to oroV (ouV) "[on] a mountainside" - [and he goes up to, into] the hill, mountain, high country. "Selected", Stein, is unlikely, although "whom he wills" indicates choice is operative. Given Jesus' authoritative action of choosing the twelve, the new Israel, "mountain" is obviously intended as an allusion to Moses and Mount Sinai. This may be why the article to is often used with the word, ie., it is particularising; a particular mountain is in mind. None-the-less, a simple retreat up into the hill country to get away from the crowds may be all that is in mind.

proskaleitai (proskalew) pres. mid. "called to him" - [and] called, summoned, invited. Often taken as an authoritative "call" or "summons", but "invited" should not be dismissed.

ouJV hqelen (qelw) imperf. "those [he] wanted" - those [he] wanted [and they came toward him]. The relative clause serves as a nominal phrase, object of the verb "called / invited." The verb indicates purpose / will, rather than desire, BAGD. The use of autoV, "he", is emphatic by position and use, "he himself"; possibly "those whom he personally wanted."


The Gk. sentence covers v14-15. The main verb epoihsen, "to do / appoint", is modified by two adverbial clauses introduced by iJna, both expressing purpose; the first, "in order that they might be with him (the twelve being the subject), and the second, "in order that he might send them", (Jesus being the subject). The second purpose clause is modified by two subordinate constructions, both formed by adverbial infinitives expressing purpose, apostellh/, "in order to preach", and ecein, "in order to have [authority]", the second being itself modified by an epexegetic infinitive specifying the nature of the "authority", namely, ekballein, "to cast out [demons]."

epoihsen (poiew) aor. "he appointed" - [and] he made. "Made" in the sense of the LXX "appoint", cf., 1Sam.12:6, 1Kgs.13:33. The way Mark describes it, Jesus "calls / invites", from the crowd, people to follow as disciples, and from this group selects / appoints / commissions twelve for more intimate association / more intensive training for the task of a special mission.

dwdeka adj. "twelve" - twelve. "A number symbolising the longed-for fulfilment of Israel's destiny in the end time", Marcus. By this time Jews could only trace their linage to two tribes, Judah and Benjamin. Linage to the other ten tribes was long lost. For Mark, it is not "the twelve apostles", but just "the twelve" who are apostolos, "sent ones." Their selection is not hierarchical, but functional.

oJuV kai apostolouV wnomasen "-" - whom he also named apostles. Strongly attested variant reading, although possibly transposed from Luke. The noun apostolouV, "apostles", serves as the accusative complement to the direct object w\sin, "whom", standing in a double accusative construction. "And he appointed twelve whom he also named apostles."

iJna + subj. "that" - that [they might be] .Introducing a purpose clause stating the first purpose of the appointment of the twelve.

met (meta) + gen. "with" - with [him]. Expressing association; the first purpose is that "the twelve" might be permanent associates of Jesus in that they set aside their normal living, their trade or whatever, and join with Jesus in his itinerant ministry. Presumably the wider group of disciples are more part-time followers, still earning a living and joining with Jesus when they can. There are numerous references in the gospels of the disciples being "with" Jesus such that being a Christian involves being in community with Christ, "being with him." Note the Pauline extension of being "in Christ" and Christ "in us."

iJna + subj. "that" - [and] that [he might send them]. Introducing a purpose clause stating the second purpose of the the appointment of the twelve; "in order that." Mission entails going out into the world, and for Luke / Acts, to the end of the world, or more rightly, the centre of the world, namely, Rome / the secular city (the whore of Babylon???).

khrussein (khrussw) pres. inf. "to preach" - to preach. The first purpose of the mission is "to preach the gospel concerning the coming kingdom." The prime task of the twelve is to preach the message, which task was the centre of both the Baptist's and Jesus' ministry, 1:4, 7, 14, 38-39.


ecein (ecw) pres. inf. "to have" - [and] to have. Following on from v14, the infinitive is adverbial, final, stating the second purpose of the disciples' mission, of their being sent out; "[so that he might send them in order to preach] and in order to have authority."

exousian (a) "authority" - authority, power. The authority / power is derived from Jesus and is obviously not independent of his authority. It is usually understood that the authority covers both word and sign, although the Gk. text links it with exorcisms, and Mark has already associated the two, cf., 1:21-28, 6:7. In fact, the sentence is somewhat messy; a person is not sent to have authority but to act, in this case, to cast out demons, which act they have the power / authority to perform.

ekballein (ekballw) pres. inf. "to drive out" - to cast out [the demons]. Epexegetic infinitive explaining / specifying the "authority". It is interesting that Mark does not mention healing, but still, the most notable sign of the coming kingdom is exorcism - the overthrow of the strong man's house. Later texts sought to repair this oversight!!!, ecein exousian qeapeuein taV nosouV kai ekballein ta daimonia, "to have authority to heal the sick and to cast out demons."


The list of the twelve, v16-19. The twelve, in a sense, represent the twelve tribes of Israel - the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and the ten lost tribes. They are the founding members of the New Israel, the new people of God. Peter, the rock-man according to Jesus, and his brother Andrew; James and John, the sons of thunder (for their bad temper??). Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew (possibly the same person as Levi, although Mark does not suggest this); James the son of Alphaeus (possibly the brother of Levi the son of Alphaeus, 2:14) and Thaddeus (Judas, son of James, Lk.6:16); Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot the man of Kerioth.

touV dwdeka adj. "these are the twelve" - [and he appointed] the twelve. The adjective serves as a substantive, accusative direct object of the verb "to appoint." The verb here takes the sense "appoint" rather than "do". A variant reading, most likely dropped for syntactical reasons, given the variant in v14, and so it is most likely original. Manson takes the conjunction kai as inferential, "so"; "And so he appointed the twelve", Cassirer.

tw/ Simwni (wn wnoV) dat. "Simon" - [and] to simon. Dative of indirect object.

epeqhken (epitiqhmi) aor. "he gave [the name]" - he placed upon = he added [name]. The phrase epeqhken onoma, "added a name", often takes the sense "give a surname", BAGD.

petron (oV) "Peter" - peter. "Peter" serves as the accusative complement of the direct object "name", standing in a double accusative construction. It is likely that even by the time Mark is writing his gospel, the transliterated "Peter" would be used for Simon, rather than the literal sense "Rock", "Rock-man".


Iakwbon (oV) "James" - james. Accusative in apposition to the accusative touV dwdeka, "the twelve." So also the rest of the list of apostles. Note how the inner circle is listed first: Peter, James, John and Andrew.

ton "son" - the son [of zebadee]. "Son", uiJon, is assumed. The genitive tou Zebedaiou is adjectival, relational.

Iakwbou (oV) gen. "his [brother]" - [and john the brother] of james. The genitive is adjectival, relational.

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

BoanhrgeV "Boanerges" - [he gave name] boaneges. Accusative complement of the direct object "name", standing in a double accusative construction.

bronthV (h) gen. "[sons] of thunder" - [which is = means, sons] of thunder. The genitive is adjectival, technically relational, although "sons of" is used here as an idiomatic descriptive; "Jesus called them Boanerges, which means thunderbolt", CEV. The nickname given to James and John probably describes their quick temper.


ton "son [of Alphaeus]" - [and andrew and philip and bartholomew and matthew and thomos and james] the one = son [of alphaeus]. The genitive is adjectival, relational. "Son" is assumed.

Kananaion (oV) "[Simon] the Zealot" - [and simon] the cananean. Standing in apposition to "Simon". Rather than the geographical Canaan, so "Canaanean", or even the village Cana, the word is drawn from the Aramaic, qan'an, meaning "zealot, enthusiast."


Iskariwq "[Judas] Iscariot" - [judas] iscariot. Standing in apposition to "Judas". Davies and Allison suggest three possible meanings: a) "man of Qerioth", a town near Hebron; b) taken from the Aramaic meaning "false one"; c) from the Greek sikarioV, "dagger-man, assassin" = "revolutionary / insurgent / terrorist (or from the Jewish perspective "freedom-fighter" - one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist [as we well know today!!!]). Commentators are divided, eg., Marcus opts for "Judas the revolutionary."

kai "-" - [who] also. Possibly adjunctive, "also", but more likely emphatic; "and Judas Iscariot, and he the one who betrayed him."

paredwken (paradidwmi) aor. "betrayed" - delivered over [him]. The verb actually means "to hand over", rather than "betrayed". As Decker notes, the word for betrayal is prodidwmi, and only Luke opts to describe Judas as a traitor.


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