Mark 8 Bible Commentary

McGarvey and Pendleton

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(Read all of Mark 8)
8:1  In those days1, when there was again a great multitude, and they had nothing to eat, he called unto him his disciples2, and saith unto them,
In those days. That is, while Christ was in Decapolis.
He called unto him his disciples. When the five thousand had been caught in similar circumstances, the apostles had come with suggestions to Jesus (Mark 6:35,36; Matthew 14:15; Luke 9:12), but now, being taught by experience, they keep silence and let Jesus manage as he will.

8:2  I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat1: Mark 8:2,3
They continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat. The multitude had not been three days without food, but it had been with Jesus three days and was "now" without food.

8:4  And his disciples answered him, Whence shall one be able to fill these men with bread here in a desert place1?
Whence shall one be able to fill these men with bread here in a desert place? It seems strange that the apostles should ask such a question after having assisted in feeding the five thousand. But the failure to expect a miracle, despite previous experience, was a common occurrence in the history of Israel and of the twelve (Numbers 11:21-23 Psalms 78:19,20). In this case the failure of the apostles to expect miraculous relief suggests that they had probably often been hungry and had long since ceased to look for supernatural relief in such cases. Their disbelief here is so similar to their disbelief in the first instance that it, with a few other minor details, has led rationalistic commentators to confound the miracle with the feeding of the five thousand. But the words of Jesus forbid this (Matthew 16:9,10; Mark 8:19,20).

8:6  And he commandeth the multitude to sit down on the ground1: and he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he brake, and gave to his disciples, to set before them; and they set them before the multitude.
And he commandeth the multitude to sit down on the ground. They were on the bleak mountain, and not in the grassy plain of Butaiha.

8:10  And straightway he entered into the boat with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha1. THIRD WITHDRAWAL FROM HEROD'S TERRITORY. A. PHARISAIC LEAVEN. A BLIND MAN HEALED. Matthew 15:39-16:12; Mark 8:10-26
And came into the parts of Dalmanutha. It appears from the context that he crossed the lake to the west shore. Commentators, therefore, pretty generally think that Magadan is another form of the name Magdala, and that Dalmanutha was either another name for Magdala, or else a village near it.

8:11  And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, trying him2.
And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him seeking of him a sign from heaven. They rejected his miracles as signs of his Messiahship, the Pharisees holding that such signs could be wrought by Beelzebub. See Mark 3:22; Matthew 12:24; Luke 11:15. They therefore asked a sign from heaven such as only God could give, and such as he had accorded to Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and Elijah, or such as Joel foretold (Joel 2:31).
Trying him. Testing the strength of his miraculous powers.

8:12  And he sighed deeply in his spirit1, and saith, Why doth this generation seek a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation2.
And he sighed deeply in his spirit. Being grieved deeply at the sinful obduracy which demanded signs in the midst of overwhelming demonstrations of divine power.
There shall no sign be given unto this generation. That is, none such as was demanded. For comment on similar language, see Matthew 12:39.

8:13  And he left them, and again entering into [the boat] departed to the other side1.
And he left them, and again entering into [the boat] departed to the other side. That is, from Magdala back again to the east shore, or rather, toward Bethsaida Julias, on the northeast shore.

8:14  And they forgot to take bread; and they had not in the boat with them more than one loaf1.
And they had not in the boat with them more than one loaf. This loaf was probably left over from the previous supply (Mark 8:8).

8:15  And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod. Leaven, which answered to our modern yeast, was a symbol of a secret, penetrating, pervasive influence, usually of a corrupting nature. The influence of the Pharisees was that of formalism, hypocritical ostentation, and traditionalism; that of the Sadducees was sneering rationalistic unbelief, free thought and cunning worldliness, manifesting itself among the Herodians in political corruption.

8:16  And they reasoned one with another, saying, We have no bread1.
And they reasoned one with another, saying, We have no bread. They thought that Jesus reproved them for their carelessness in forgetting to take bread, "since" that carelessness might lead them to be without bread on their journey. So his rebuke in Mark 8:17 indicates.

8:19  When I brake the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets1 full of broken pieces took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve.
Baskets. In Greek, "kophini", probably traveling baskets.

8:20  And when the seven among the four thousand, how many basketfuls of broken pieces took ye up? And they say unto him, Seven.
Baskets. In Greek, "spurides", probably grain baskets or hampers.

8:21  And he said unto them, Do ye not yet understand1?
Do ye not yet understand? See Matthew 16:12.

8:22  And they come unto Bethsaida. And they bring to him a blind man, and beseech him to touch him.
And they cometh unto Bethsaida Not the suburb of Capernaum, but Bethsaida Julias, a town on the east side of the Jordan, near where it flows into the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was proceeding northward toward Caesarea Philippi (Mark 8:27).

8:23  And he took hold of the blind man by the hand, and brought him out of the village1; and when he had spit on his eyes, and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, Seest thou aught2?
And he took hold of the blind man by the hand, and brought him out of the village. Jesus increased the sympathy between himself and the man by separating him from the crowd. Our greatest blessing can only come to us after we have been alone with God.
And when he had spit on his eyes, and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, Seest thou aught? The man's eyes were probably sore, and Jesus made use of saliva to soften and soothe them. But it was our Lord's custom to give variety to the manifestation, sometimes using one apparent auxiliary means, and sometimes another; and also healing instantly or progressively, as he chose, that the people might see that the healing was altogether a matter of his will.

8:24  And he looked up, and said, I see men; for I behold [them] as trees1, walking.
And he looked up, and said, I see men; for I behold [them] as trees,
walking. The man had evidently not been born blind, else he would not have been able to recognize men or trees by sight, for those not used to employ sight cannot by it tell a circle from a square.

8:26  And he sent him away to his home, saying, Do not even enter into the village1.
And he sent him away to his home, saying, Do not even enter into the village. The man, of course, lived in the village, and to send him home was to send him thither, but he was to go directly home and not spread the news through the town, for if he did the population would be at once drawn to Jesus, thus breaking up the privacy which he sought to maintain.

8:27  And Jesus went forth, and his disciples, into the villages of Caesarea Philippi1: and on the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Who do men say that I am2? THIRD WITHDRAWAL FROM HEROD'S TERRITORY. B. THE GREAT CONFESSION MADE BY PETER. (Near Caesarea Philippi, Summer, A.D. 29.) Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21
Into the villages of Caesarea Philippi. The city of Paneas was enlarged by Herod Philip I, and named in honor of Tiberias Caesar. It also bore the name Philippi because of the name of its builder, and to distinguish it from Caesarea Palestine or Caesarea Strotonis, a city on the Mediterranean coast. Paneas, the original name, still pertains to the village, though now corrupted to Banias. It is situated under the shadow of Mt. Hermon at the eastern of the two principal sources of the Jordan, and is the most northern city of the Holy Land visited by Jesus, and save Sidon, the most northern point of his travels.
Who do men say that I am? Jesus asks them to state the popular opinion concerning himself as contrasted with the opinion of the rulers, Pharisees, etc.

8:28  And they told him, saying, John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but others, One of the prophets1.
John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but others, One of the prophets. For comment on similar language, see Mark 6:15. It should be noted that popular opinion did not honor him as Messiah, but since it accepted him as a prophet, the people were therefore inexcusable in not receiving the statements which he made in regard to himself, and admitting the Messianic claims which he set forth.

8:29  And he asked them, But who say ye that I am1? Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ2.
But who say ye that I am? Jesus here first asks the disciples this question, having given them abundant time and opportunity in which to form a correct judgment. The proper answer of the heart to this question forms the starting point of the true Christian life.
Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. See Matthew 16:16.

8:30  And he charged them that they should tell no man of him1.
And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. The people were not ready to receive this truth, nor were the apostles sufficiently instructed to rightly proclaim it. Their heads were full of wrong ideas with regard to Christ's work and office, and had they been permitted to teach about him, they would have said that which it would have been necessary for them to subsequently correct, thus producing confusion.

8:31  And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things1, and be rejected by the elders, and the chief priests, and the scribes2, and be killed, and after three days rise again3. THIRD WITHDRAWAL FROM HEROD'S TERRITORY. C. PASSION FORETOLD. PETER REBUKED. Matthew 16:21-28; Mark 8:31-9:1; Luke 9:22-27
And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things. Since the apostles, by the mouth of Peter, had just confessed Jesus as Christ (Mark 8:29), it was necessary that their crude Messianic conceptions should be corrected and that the true Christhood--the Christhood of the atonement and the resurrection--should be revealed to them. In discourse and parable Jesus had explained the principles and the nature of the kingdom, and now, from this time forth, he taught the apostles about himself, the priestly King.
And be rejected by the elders, and the chief priests, and the scribes. The Jewish Sanhedrin was generally designated by thus naming the three constituent parts. See Matthew 2:4.
And be killed, and after three days rise again. See Matthew 12:42. Very early in his ministry Jesus had given obscure intimations concerning his death (John 2:19-22; John 3:14; Matthew 12:38-40), but these had not been understood by either friend or foe. Now that he thus spoke plainly, we may see by Peter's conduct that they comprehended and were deeply moved by the dark and more sorrowful portion of his revelation, and failed to grasp the accompanying promise of a resurrection.

8:32  And he spake the saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him1.
And he spake the saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. Evidently Peter regarded Jesus as overcome by a fit of despondency, and felt that such talk would utterly dishearten the disciples if it were persisted in. His love, therefore, prompted him to lead Jesus to one side and deal plainly with him. In so doing, Peter overstepped the laws of discipleship and assumed that he knew better than the Master what course to pursue. In his feelings he was the forerunner of those modern wiseacres who confess themselves constrained to reject the doctrine of a suffering Messiah.

8:33  But he turning about, and seeing his disciples1, rebuked Peter, and saith, Get thee behind me, Satan2; for thou mindest not the things of God, but the things of men.
But he turning about, and seeing his disciples. Jesus withdrew from Peter and turned back to his disciples. By the confession of the truth Simon had just won his promised name of Peter, which allied him to Christ, the foundation.
Rebuked Peter, and saith, Get thee behind me, Satan. But when he now turned aside to speak the language of the tempter, Peter receives the name Satan, as if he were the very devil himself. Peter presented the same temptation with which the devil once called forth a similar rebuke from Christ (Matthew 4:10). He was unconsciously trying to dissuade Jesus from the death on which the salvation of the world depended, and this was working into Satan's hand. Peter did not mind or think about the Messiah's kingdom as divinely conceived and revealed in the Scriptures.

8:34  And he called unto him the multitude with his disciples1, and said unto them, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me2.
And he called unto him the multitude with his disciples. Despite the efforts of Jesus to seek privacy, the people were still near enough at hand to be called and addressed.
If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Compare Romans 8:36; 1 Corinthians 15:31. See Matthew 10:38. The disciple must learn to say "no" to many of the strongest cravings of his earthly nature. The cross is a symbol for duty which is to be performed daily, at any cost, even that of the most painful death. The disciple must follow Jesus, both as his teaching and example.

8:35  For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's shall save it1.
For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's shall save it. Jesus here plays upon the two meanings of the word "life", one being of temporal and the other of eternal duration. For comment on a similar expression, see Matthew 10:39.

8:36  For what doth it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life1? Mark 8:36,37
For what doth it profit a man, to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? Peter and the rest of the apostles had been thinking about a worldly Messianic kingdom, with its profits and rewards. Jesus shows the worthlessness even of the whole world in comparison with the rewards of the true kingdom. It is the comparison between the things which are external, and which perish, and the life which is internal, and which endures. External losses may be repaired, but a lost life can never be regained, for with what shall a man buy it back?

8:38  For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation2, the Son of man also shall be ashamed of him3, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels4.
Whoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words. Compare Luke 12:9; 2 Timothy 1:8,12; 2 Timothy 2:12.
In this adulterous and sinful generation. See Matthew 12:39.
The Son of man also shall be ashamed of him. Peter had just been ashamed of the words in which Christ pictured himself as undergoing his humiliation. Jesus warns him and all others of the dangers of such shame.
When he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. The Father's glory, the angels, and the rendering of universal judgment from a threefold indication that Jesus here speaks of his final coming to judge the world.

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