Mark: From the Latin name Marcus. Mark was the Roman surname of the “John” mentioned at Ac 12:12. His mother was Mary, an early disciple who lived in Jerusalem. John Mark was “the cousin of Barnabas” (Col 4:10), with whom he traveled. Mark also traveled with Paul and other early Christian missionaries. (Ac 12:25; 13:5, 13; 2Ti 4:11) Although the Gospel nowhere specifies who wrote it, writers of the second and third centuries C.E. ascribe this Gospel to Mark.
According to Mark: None of the Gospel writers identify themselves as such in their accounts, and titles are evidently not part of the original text. In some manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel, the title appears as Eu·ag·geʹli·on Ka·taʹ Marʹkon (“Good News [or, “Gospel”] According to Mark”), whereas in others a shorter title, Ka·taʹ Marʹkon (“According to Mark”), is used. It is not clear exactly when such titles were added or began to be used. Some suggest the second century C.E., since examples of the longer title have been found in Gospel manuscripts that have been dated to the end of the second century or early third century. According to some scholars, the opening words of Mark’s book (“The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God”) may have been the reason why the term “gospel” (lit., “good news”) came to be used to describe these accounts. The use of such titles along with the name of the writer may have come about for practical reasons, providing a clear means of identification of the books.
the good news about Jesus Christ: This expression in Greek could also be translated “the good news of Jesus Christ,” that is, the good news that Jesus proclaimed.
the Son of God: Although some manuscripts omit “the Son of God,” the longer reading has strong manuscript support.
Isaiah the prophet: The quote that follows is a combination of prophecies from Mal 3:1 and Isa 40:3. Both prophecies are applied to John the Baptizer. The parentheses serve to distinguish the Malachi quotation from the Isaiah quotation, which starts in verse 3 and highlights the content of John’s message. The Malachi quote focuses on John’s role as the messenger. The entire quote is attributed to Isaiah, perhaps because the quotation from Isaiah contains the part to be stressed.
Look!: The Greek word i·douʹ, here rendered “look!,” is often used to focus attention on what follows, encouraging the reader to visualize the scene or to take note of a detail in a narrative. It is also used to add emphasis or to introduce something new or surprising. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term occurs most frequently in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in the book of Revelation. A corresponding expression is often used in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Jehovah: In this quote from Isa 40:3, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text. (See App. C.) Mark applies this prophecy to what “John the Baptizer” (Mr 1:4) did in preparing the way for Jesus.—See study notes on Mt 3:3; Joh 1:23.
Make his roads straight: See study note on Mt 3:3.
the Baptizer: Or “the Immerser; the Dipper.” The Greek participle rendered “Baptizer” here and at Mr 6:14, 24 could also be rendered “one who baptizes.” The form is slightly different from the Greek noun Ba·pti·stesʹ, which is rendered “Baptist” at Mr 6:25; 8:28 and in Matthew and Luke. The two designations, “Baptizer” and “Baptist,” are used interchangeably at Mr 6:24, 25.—See study note on Mt 3:1.
the wilderness: That is, the wilderness of Judea.—See study note on Mt 3:1.
baptism in symbol of repentance: Lit., “baptism of repentance.” Baptism did not wash away sins. Rather, those baptized by John publicly repented over sins against the Law, showing their determination to change their behavior. This repentant attitude helped lead them to the Christ. (Ga 3:24) John was thereby preparing a people to see “the salvation” that God had provided.—Lu 3:3-6; see study notes on Mt 3:2, 8, 11 and Glossary, “Baptism; Baptize”; “Repentance.”
all the territory . . . all the inhabitants: The use of “all” here is hyperbole; it emphasizes the intense interest that John’s preaching aroused. It does not mean that every single inhabitant of Judea or Jerusalem went out to see him.
openly confessing their sins: See study note on Mt 3:6.
clothing of camel’s hair: See study note on Mt 3:4.
locusts: See study note on Mt 3:4.
wild honey: See study note on Mt 3:4.
stronger: See study note on Mt 3:11.
sandals: See study note on Mt 3:11.
baptize you with holy spirit: Or “immerse you in holy active force.” Here John the Baptizer announces that Jesus would institute a new arrangement, baptism with holy spirit. Those baptized with God’s spirit become his spirit-begotten sons, with prospects of living in heaven and ruling as kings over the earth.—Re 5:9, 10.
those days: According to Lu 3:1-3, John the Baptizer began his ministry “in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,” that is, during the spring of 29 C.E. (See study note on Lu 3:1.) About six months later, in the fall of 29 C.E., Jesus came to John to be baptized.—See App. A7.
immediately: The first of 11 occurrences of the Greek word eu·thysʹ in Mark chapter 1. (Mr 1:10, 12, 18, 20, 21, 23, 28, 29, 30, 42, 43) The Greek term is rendered “immediately; at once; without delay; as soon as,” according to context. Mark’s frequent use of the term—over 40 times in his Gospel—adds a feeling of vividness and urgency to his account.
he: Evidently referring to Jesus. As shown at Joh 1:32, 33, John the Baptist also witnessed this, but Mark’s account seems to be from Jesus’ perspective.
the heavens: See study note on Mt 3:16.
the heavens being parted: God apparently caused Jesus to perceive heavenly matters and may at this point have allowed him to recall memories of his prehuman life. Jesus’ own expressions after his baptism, particularly his intimate prayer on Passover night 33 C.E., show that he then knew of his prehuman existence. That prayer also shows that he recalled the things he heard his Father say and saw Him do and that he remembered the glory he had enjoyed in heaven. (Joh 6:46; 7:28, 29; 8:26, 28, 38; 14:2; 17:5) These memories may have been restored to Jesus at the time of his baptism and anointing.
like a dove: Doves had both a sacred use and a symbolic meaning. They were offered as sacrifices. (Mr 11:15; Joh 2:14-16) They symbolized innocence and purity. (Mt 10:16) A dove released by Noah brought an olive leaf back to the ark, indicating that the floodwaters were receding (Ge 8:11) and that a time of rest and peace was at hand (Ge 5:29). Thus, at Jesus’ baptism, Jehovah may have used the dove to call attention to the role of Jesus as the Messiah, the pure and sinless Son of God who would sacrifice his life for mankind and lay the basis for a period of rest and peace during his rule as King. The coming down of God’s spirit, or active force, upon Jesus at his baptism may have looked like the fluttering of a dove as it nears its perch.
upon: Or “into,” that is, to enter into him.
You are my Son: As a spirit creature, Jesus was God’s Son. (Joh 3:16) From the time of his birth as a human, Jesus was a “son of God” just as perfect Adam had been. (Lu 1:35; 3:38) However, it seems reasonable that God’s words here go beyond a mere statement of Jesus’ identity. By this declaration accompanied by the outpouring of holy spirit, God evidently indicated that the man Jesus was His spirit-begotten Son, “born again” with the hope of returning to life in heaven and anointed by spirit to be God’s appointed King and High Priest.—Joh 3:3-6; 6:51; compare Lu 1:31-33; Heb 2:17; 5:1, 4-10; 7:1-3.
I have approved you: Or “I am well-pleased with you; I take great delight in you.” The same expression is used at Mt 12:18, which is a quotation from Isa 42:1 regarding the promised Messiah, or Christ. The outpouring of holy spirit and God’s declaration concerning his Son were a clear identification of Jesus as the promised Messiah.—See study notes on Mt 3:17; 12:18.
the spirit impelled him to go: Or “the active force moved him to go.” The Greek word pneuʹma here refers to God’s spirit, which can act as a driving force, moving and impelling a person to do things in accord with God’s will.—Lu 4:1; see Glossary, “Spirit.”
Satan: See study note on Mt 4:10.
the wild beasts: In Jesus’ day, there were many more wild animals in that region of the world than there are today. The wilderness was the habitat of boars, hyenas, leopards, lions, and wolves. Mark is the only Gospel writer to mention that there were wild beasts in this area. He evidently wrote primarily for non-Jewish readers, including Romans and others who may not have been familiar with the geography of Israel.
The appointed time has been fulfilled: In this context “the appointed time” (Greek, kai·rosʹ) refers to the time, as foretold in the Scriptures, for Jesus’ earthly ministry to begin, giving people the opportunity to have faith in the good news. The same Greek word is used of the “time” of inspection that Jesus’ ministry brought (Lu 12:56; 19:44) and the “appointed time” of his death.—Mt 26:18.
the Kingdom of God: This expression occurs 14 times in the Gospel of Mark. Matthew uses this phrase only four times (Mt 12:28; 19:24; 21:31; 21:43), but he uses the parallel phrase, “the Kingdom of the heavens,” some 30 times. (Compare Mr 10:23 with Mt 19:23, 24.) Jesus made the Kingdom the theme of his preaching. (Lu 4:43) There are over 100 references to the Kingdom in the four Gospels, most of them in statements made by Jesus.—See study notes on Mt 3:2; 4:17; 25:34.
the Sea of Galilee: See study note on Mt 4:18.
casting their nets: See study note on Mt 4:18.
fishermen: See study note on Mt 4:18.
fishers of men: See study note on Mt 4:19.
followed him: See study note on Mt 4:20.
James . . . and his brother John: See study note on Mt 4:21.
Zebedee: See study note on Mt 4:21.
with the hired men: Only Mark mentions that the fishing business of Zebedee and his sons had “hired men.” Peter, who was evidently a partner in the business and an eyewitness to most of what Mark recorded, may have been the source of this information. (Lu 5:5-11; see also “Introduction to Mark.”) That Zebedee and his sons hired men and, according to Luke’s account, had more than one boat indicates that their business was doing well.—See study note on Mt 4:18.
Capernaum: See study note on Mt 4:13.
synagogue: See Glossary.
his way of teaching: This expression refers to how Jesus taught, his teaching methods, which also included what he taught.
not as the scribes: Rather than quote revered rabbis as an authority, as was the scribes’ custom, Jesus speaks as Jehovah’s representative, as one having authority, basing his teachings on God’s Word.—Joh 7:16.
an unclean spirit: Mark uses this expression interchangeably with the term “demon.” (Compare Mr 1:23, 26, 27 with 1:34, 39; also Mr 3:11, 30 with 3:15, 22.) The use of this expression highlights the moral and spiritual uncleanness of the demons as well as their unclean influence on humans.
What have we to do with you, . . . ?: See study note on Mt 8:29.
we . . . I: Since only one unclean spirit is mentioned in verse 23, the spirit controlling the man evidently speaks in the plural (“we”) with reference to his fellow demons and then in the singular (“I”) with reference to himself alone.
Be silent: Lit., “Be muzzled.” Although the unclean spirit knew that Jesus was the Christ, or Messiah, and addressed him as “the Holy One of God” (vs. 24), Jesus would not allow demons to witness about him.—Mr 1:34; 3:11, 12.
Simon’s mother-in-law: See study note on Lu 4:38.
sick with a fever: See study note on Lu 4:38.
when the sun had set: Sunset marked the end of the Sabbath day. (Le 23:32; Mr 1:21; see study notes on Mt 8:16; 26:20.) Now with no fear of criticism, all the Jews could begin bringing their sick ones to be cured.—Compare Mr 2:1-5; Lu 4:31-40.
ill and demon possessed: Demons at times caused the people they controlled to suffer from some kind of physical disorder. (Mt 12:22; 17:15-18) However, the Scriptures differentiate between ordinary sickness and the harm caused by demon possession. Regardless of the cause of their suffering, Jesus cured them.—Mt 4:24; 8:16; Mr 1:34.
the whole city: Similar to the use of “all” at Mr 1:5, the use of “whole” is evidently hyperbole; it vividly describes a large number of people.
they knew him to be Christ: Some Greek manuscripts read “they knew him,” which could be rendered “they knew who he was.” The parallel account at Lu 4:41 reads: “They knew him to be the Christ.”
Everyone: Evidently hyperbole to emphasize that a large number of people were looking for Jesus.
preaching . . . throughout the whole of Galilee: This marks the beginning of Jesus’ first preaching tour of Galilee with his four recently selected disciples—Peter, Andrew, James, and John.—Mr 1:16-20; see App. A7.
on bended knee: In the ancient Near East, kneeling was a posture that expressed respect, especially when petitioning superiors. Mark is the only Gospel writer to use this specific term in connection with this event.
moved with pity: Or “moved with compassion.” (See study note on Mt 9:36.) A few modern Bible translations say “was indignant (angry).” However, the reading “moved with pity (compassion)” can be found in the majority of ancient manuscripts, including the earliest and most authoritative ones. Also, the context supports the idea that Jesus is motivated, not by anger, but by compassion.
touched him: See study note on Mt 8:3.
I want to: See study note on Mt 8:3.
say nothing to anyone: Jesus likely gave this order because he did not want to magnify his own name or do anything to draw attention away from Jehovah God and the Kingdom good news. His approach fulfilled the prophetic words of Isa 42:1, 2, which say that Jehovah’s servant would “not make his voice heard in the street,” that is, in some sensational way. (Mt 12:15-19) Jesus’ humble attitude provides a refreshing contrast to that of the hypocrites whom he condemns for praying “on the corners of the main streets to be seen by men.” (Mt 6:5) Jesus apparently wanted solid evidence, not sensational reports of his miracles, to convince people that he was the Christ.
show yourself to the priest: In accord with the Mosaic Law, a priest had to verify that a leper was healed. The cured leper had to travel to the temple and bring as an offering the things Moses directed, as outlined at Le 14:2-32.