Study Notes—Chapter 6
his home territory: See study note on Mt 13:54.
the carpenter: Jesus was known as both “the carpenter” and “the carpenter’s son,” giving us some insight into Jesus’ life between his visit to the temple as a 12-year-old and the start of his ministry. (See study note on Mt 13:55.) The accounts in Matthew and Mark are complementary.
the son of Mary: This is the only time that Jesus is referred to in this way. Since no reference is made to Joseph, he may already have died. This possibility is also suggested by Jesus’ request that John care for his mother, Mary, after his death.—Joh 19:26, 27.
brother: In the Bible, the Greek word a·del·phosʹ can refer to a spiritual relationship, but here it is used to describe Jesus’ relationship with his half brothers, the younger sons of Joseph and Mary. Some who believe that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus claim that a·del·phosʹ here refers to cousins. However, the Christian Greek Scriptures use a distinct term for “cousin” (Greek, a·ne·psi·osʹ at Col 4:10) and a different term for “the son of Paul’s sister” (Ac 23:16). Also, Lu 21:16 uses the plural forms of the Greek words a·del·phosʹ and syg·ge·nesʹ (rendered “brothers and relatives”). These examples show that the terms denoting familial relationships are not used loosely or indiscriminately in the Christian Greek Scriptures.
James: See study note on Mt 13:55.
Judas: See study note on Mt 13:55.
was not able to do any powerful work there: Jesus was not able to perform many miracles, not because of a lack of power, but because the circumstances did not warrant it. The people of Nazareth lacked faith, and this kept Jesus from performing many powerful works there. (Mt 13:58) Divine power was not to be wasted on unreceptive skeptics.—Compare Mt 10:14; Lu 16:29-31.
amazed at their lack of faith: Mark is the only Gospel writer to mention how strongly Jesus felt about the reception he received from the people of his “home territory.” (Mt 13:57, 58; see also “Introduction to Mark.”) The Greek verb rendered “amazed” is often used to describe the way that people felt about Jesus’ miracles and teaching (Mr 5:20; 15:5), but on two occasions it is used to describe Jesus’ reaction. He was amazed that an army officer showed such great faith (Mt 8:10; Lu 7:9), and here his amazement included dismay at the lack of faith of the people of Nazareth.
went around in a circuit to the villages: This marks the beginning of Jesus’ third preaching tour in Galilee. (Mt 9:35; Lu 9:1) The expression “in a circuit” may imply that he thoroughly covered the area and, according to some, came back to the point where he started. An important feature of Jesus’ ministry was teaching.—See study note on Mt 4:23.
stay there until you leave that place: Jesus was instructing his disciples that when they reached a town, they should stay in the home where hospitality was extended to them and not be “transferring from house to house.” (Lu 10:1-7) By not seeking a place where the householder could provide them with more comfort, entertainment, or material things, they would show that these things were of secondary importance when compared to their commission to preach.
shake off the dirt that is on your feet: This gesture signified that the disciples disclaimed responsibility for the consequences that would come from God. A similar expression occurs at Mt 10:14; Lu 9:5. Mark and Luke add the expression for a witness to [or, “against”] them. Paul and Barnabas applied this instruction in Pisidian Antioch (Ac 13:51), and when Paul did something similar in Corinth by shaking out his garments, he added the explanatory words: “Let your blood be on your own heads. I am clean.” (Ac 18:6) Such gestures may already have been familiar to the disciples; pious Jews who had traveled through Gentile country would shake what they perceived to be unclean dust off their sandals before reentering Jewish territory. However, Jesus evidently had a different meaning in mind when giving these instructions to his disciples.
greased many sick people with oil: This act was symbolic. While oil was understood to have healing properties (compare Lu 10:34), sick people were cured, not by means of the oil itself, but by means of the miraculous operation of God’s holy spirit.—Lu 9:1, 6.
King Herod: That is, Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great. (See Glossary, “Herod.”) Matthew and Luke use Antipas’ official Roman title of “tetrarch,” or “district ruler.” (See study notes on Mt 14:1; Lu 3:1.) His tetrarchy consisted of Galilee and Perea. However, he was popularly referred to as “the king,” the title used once by Matthew (Mt 14:9) and the only title Mark uses with reference to Herod.—Mr 6:22, 25, 26, 27.
people were saying: Lit., “they were saying.” Some manuscripts read: “he was saying.”
the Baptizer: See study note on Mr 1:4.
arrested John and . . . bound him in prison: See study note on Mt 14:3.
Herodias, the wife of Philip his brother: See study note on Mt 14:3.
knowing him to be a righteous and holy man: Herod Antipas listened to John and protected him, recognizing that he was righteous and holy. Though Herod was in fear of John, his fear of losing the respect of his guests and his lack of faith resulted in his being maneuvered into murdering John. The Jewish historian Josephus called John the Baptist “a good man.”
his birthday: This event likely occurred at Herod Antipas’ residence in Tiberias, a city located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. One reason for this conclusion is that Mark here states that the most prominent men of Galilee were in attendance. (See study notes on Mt 14:3, 6.) The Bible mentions just two birthday celebrations—the one referred to here, at which John was beheaded; the other, that of a Pharaoh, at which the Egyptian monarch’s chief baker was executed. (Ge 40:18-22) These two accounts are similar in that both occasions were marked with great feasting and the granting of favors, and both are remembered for executions.
military commanders: The Greek term khi·liʹar·khos (chiliarch) literally means “ruler of a thousand,” that is, soldiers. It refers to a Roman military tribune. There were six tribunes in each Roman legion. The legion, however, was not divided into six different commands; rather, each tribune commanded the whole legion for one sixth of the time. Such a military commander had great authority, including the power to nominate and assign centurions. The Greek word could also refer to high-ranking military officers in general. In the presence of such men of rank, Herod felt compelled to keep his oath and therefore ordered the beheading of John the Baptizer.
daughter of Herodias: A daughter of Herod Philip and the only child of her mother, Herodias. Though her name, Salome, is not given in the Scriptures, it is preserved in the writings of Josephus. In time, Herod Antipas married Salome’s mother, having adulterously taken her from his half brother Philip.
the Baptizer: See study note on Mr 1:4.
his oaths: The use of the plural “oaths” may indicate that Herod emphasized or confirmed what he had sworn to Herodias’ daughter (Mr 6:23) with repeated oaths.—See study note on Mt 14:9.
a bodyguard: The Greek term used here is spe·kou·laʹtor, a loanword from Latin (speculator), which could refer to a bodyguard, a courier, and sometimes to an executioner. Greek equivalents of some 30 Latin words of a military, judicial, monetary, and domestic nature are found in the Christian Greek Scriptures, mostly in Mark and Matthew. Mark uses them more than any other Bible writer, lending credence to the belief that he wrote his Gospel in Rome and mainly for non-Jews, particularly the Romans.—See study note on Joh 19:20.
tomb: Or “memorial tomb.”—See Glossary, “Memorial tomb.”
moved with pity: Or “felt compassion.”—See study note on Mt 9:36.
You give them something to eat: This is the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all four Gospels.—Mt 14:15-21; Mr 6:35-44; Lu 9:10-17; Joh 6:1-13.
denarii: See Glossary, “Denarius” and App. B14.
fish: See study note on Mt 14:17.
broke the loaves up: Bread was often made in flat loaves that were baked hard. Therefore, breaking the loaves to eat them was customary.—Mt 14:19; 15:36; 26:26; Mr 8:6; Lu 9:16.
baskets: These may have been small wicker baskets with a cord handle that a traveler could use for carrying them. It is thought that they had a volume of approximately 7.5 L (2 gal).—See study notes on Mr 8:19, 20.
5,000 men: While this is the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all four Gospels (Mt 14:15-21; Mr 6:35-44; Lu 9:10-17; Joh 6:1-13), only Matthew mentions the women and the young children. It is possible that the total number of those miraculously fed was well over 15,000.
fourth watch: See study note on Mt 14:25.
inclined to: Or “about to.” Evidently meaning that from the disciples’ perspective, it looked as if Jesus was going to pass them by.
they had not grasped the meaning of the loaves: Just a few hours earlier, the disciples had seen Jesus multiply the loaves miraculously. That event clearly indicated how much power Jesus had been given by means of holy spirit. However, failing to grasp the implications of that miracle, the disciples were utterly amazed when Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm. Initially, they even thought that his walking on water was just “an apparition,” that is, something unreal, an illusion.—Mr 6:49.
Gennesaret: See study note on Mt 14:34.