Mark 15 Bible Commentary

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

(Read all of Mark 15)
Verse 1. And straightway in the morning,.... As soon as it was break of day, or daylight appeared:

the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and Scribes; who were the principal men in the sanhedrim:

and the whole council; which, on this extraordinary occasion, was convened; the result of which was, to bind Jesus, and deliver him up to the Roman governor, to be put to death by him, as a seditious person, and an enemy to Caesar, and accordingly they did so:

and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate. The Syriac and Persic versions add, "the governor"; See Gill on "Mt 27:1," See Gill on "Mt 27:2."

Verse 2. And Pilate asked him, art thou the king of the Jews?.... Which either he had heard before that it was said by him, and his followers; or was what the Jews now suggested to him as his crime, which they desired sentence of death might pass upon him:

and he answering, said unto him, thou sayest it; which is all one as if he had said, I am; See Gill on "Mt 26:25"; for so he was in a sense, in which he explained himself to Pilate's satisfaction, John 18:36; See Gill on "Mt 27:11."

Verse 3. And the chief priests accused him of many things,.... As that he was a magician, and a blasphemer, and gave out that he was the Son of God; and that he made himself a king, and even forbad the people to give tribute to Caesar, and moved discord, sedition, and rebellion throughout the land;

but he answered nothing. This clause is wanting in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions; but is in the Greek text of the Complutensian edition, and in the Ethiopic version, and agrees with Matthew 27:12, See Gill on "Mt 27:12."

Verse 4. And Pilate asked him again,.... In the presence of the chief priests, who laid so many things to his charge; for the former question was put, when Jesus and he were alone in the judgment hall, whither the Jews would not enter for fear of being defiled; see John 18:28;

saying, answerest thou nothing behold how many things they witness against thee? The charges were many, and very heinous, and which Pilate thought called for self-defence; See Gill on "Mt 27:13."

Verse 5. But Jesus yet answered nothing,.... He still continued silent, and made no defence for himself, which the governor was willing to give him an opportunity to make, and, as his friend, urged him to it:

so that Pilate marvelled; what should be the meaning of his silence, when he was so capable of defending himself, and was so innocent, as Pilate himself was ready to believe; and yet the things he was charged with were of, the highest nature, and by persons of the greatest figure in the nation; so that his silence exposed him to a great deal of danger, which Pilate thought might easily be avoided by answering for himself; See Gill on "Mt 27:14."

Verse 6. Now at that feast,.... The feast of the passover, which was at that instant; see John 18:39. The Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions read, "at every feast"; as if the following custom was used at every feast in the year, at the feasts of pentecost and tabernacles, as well as at the passover; whereas it was only at the latter:

he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired; of this custom See Gill on "Mt 27:15."

Verse 7. And there was one named Barabbas,.... A prisoner of that name at Jerusalem;

which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him: he had been at the head of a seditious mob, and he and his accomplices were taken and put in prison:

who had committed murder in the insurrection; which may be connected either with Barabbas, and read in the singular number, as it is in the Vulgate Latin version, "he had committed"; or with the seditious persons he lay bound with, and be read in the plural number, "they had committed murder," as it is in the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions; and so in the ancient copies; and the Ethiopic renders it, "he was bound with seditious persons and murderers"; though, no doubt, he was guilty of murder as well as they; and so Peter calls him a murderer, Acts 3:14. About this time murders were very frequently committed: the Jews say {r} that "from the time that murderers increased, the slaying of the red heifer ceased; (the reason the commentators {s} give, is, because they were known who were accustomed to commit murder;) and that was from the time that Eleazar ben Dinai came, and Techinah ben Perishah he was called; and they called him again the son of a murderer;" see Gill on "Mt 27:16."

{r} Misn. Sota, c. 9. sect. 9. Maimon. Hilch. Rotzeach. c. 9. sect. 12. {s} Jarchi & Bartienora in ib.

Verse 8. And the multitude crying aloud,.... The Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions read, and when the "multitude," or "people went up," to the place called the pavement, where the judgment seat was; and so it is read in Beza's most ancient copy; but the former reading is to be preferred:

began to desire [him to do] as he had ever done to them: that is, release a prisoner to them, as he had done at every passover, since he had been a governor over them.

Verse 9. But Pilate answered them; saying,.... Being satisfied of the innocence of Jesus, and being willing to dismiss him:

will ye that I release unto you the king of the Jews? he who is called so; and which he either said by way of derision both of Christ, and them; or else in order to prevail upon them to ask his release, it being scandalous and reproachful to put their king to death.

Verse 10. For he knew that the chief priests,.... The Persic version reads in the singular, "the chief of the priests," or the high priest, Caiaphas,

had delivered him for envy; at his popularity through his doctrine and miracles, and not from any principle of equity and justice, or from any regard to Caesar; See Gill on "Mt 27:18."

Verse 11. But the chief priests moved the people,.... Greatly solicited and persuaded them, both in person, and by their officers they employed, and dispersed among them, to make use of arguments with them to prevail upon them:

that he should rather release Barabbas unto them; than Jesus of Nazareth; choosing rather to have a murderer granted unto them, than the holy and just one. The Persic version, as before, reads, "the chief of the priests"; but they were all concerned, and were the most active men in bringing about the death of Christ; though Caiaphas was behind none of them in envy, rage, and malice; See Gill on "Mt 27:20."

Verse 12. And Pilate answered and said again unto them,.... Being astonished that they should ask the release of such an infamous person; and being very desirous of saving Jesus:

what will ye then that I shall do unto him, whom ye call the king of the Jews? at least many of you; would you have me put him to death? surely this can never be desired; or would you have me inflict some slight punishment on him, as scourging him, and so dismiss him? See Gill on "Mt 27:22."

Verse 13. And they cried out again, crucify him. For they had cried so once before, though Matthew and Mark relate it not, yet Luke does, Luke 23:21.

Verse 14. Then Pilate said unto them,.... The third time, Luke 23:22;

why, what evil hath he done? worthy of death. They had charged him with many things, but proved nothing against him. Pilate could find no fault in him, and judged him an innocent person, and therefore was loth to condemn him:

and they cried out the more exceedingly; with louder voices, and greater vehemency, the more they found he was inclined to save him:

crucify him; nothing short of death would satisfy them, and no other death but that of the cross; See Gill on "Mt 27:22," See Gill on "Mt 27:23."

Verse 15. And so Pilate, willing to content the people,.... To satisfy and make them easy, who were become very noisy and tumultuous, and fearing the consequences of their resentment, should he not comply, of which he had formerly had experience; therefore to humour them, and keep in their favour, after he had washed his hands, to testify his innocence in the matter,

he released Barabbas unto them; the seditious person, robber, and murderer, as they desired:

and delivered Jesus when he had scourged him; or having scourged him; for this he had done before, hoping the Jews would have been satisfied with that, and not have insisted on any further punishment. The Arabic version very wrongly renders the words, "and delivered unto them Jesus, that he might be scourged": as if this was afterwards to be done by the Jews, or Roman soldiers; whereas he had scourged him before, and now delivered him

to be crucified, as they desired; in which he acted contrary to law and justice, to the violation of his own conscience, and merely to gratify the humour of the people; See Gill on "Mt 27:26."

Verse 16. And the soldiers led him away into the hall,.... From the place called the pavement, where was the judge's bench, from which he passed sentence on Christ, to a large room,

called the praetorium, or judgment hall; being the hall, or room, where the praetor, or Roman magistrate, kept his court of judicature; and is the same place the Jews would not go into, lest they should be defiled, and become unmeet to eat the Chagigah that day; and into which Pilate had Jesus more than once alone, John 18:28, but now he had a large company with him:

and they call together the whole band; very likely the soldiers, into whose custody Jesus was put, and who led him away, were the four soldiers that attended his crucifixion, and parted his garments; but for greater diversion they got together the whole band to which they belonged; See Gill on "Mt 27:27."

Verse 17. And they clothed him with purple,.... Matthew calls it a "scarlet" robe; and the Persic version here renders it a "red garment": it was of a colour resembling purple; it was pretty near it, and therefore so called; which is what kings were used to wear; and so in derision of him, as a king, clothed him with this mock purple robe; and which was very likely one of the soldiers' old coats:

and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head; for a crown, and also a reed in his hand, instead of a sceptre, as Matthew relates; See Gill on "Mt 26:28," See Gill on "Mt 26:29."

Verse 18. And began to salute him, hail, king of the Jews!] In a mock way, wishing him long life and prosperity, as if he was a king just come to his throne, and this was his coronation day.

Verse 19. And they smote him on the head with a reed,.... Or cane, a walking stick which they had put into his hands for a sceptre: this they took out again, and struck him on the head with it, which drove the sharp pointed thorns into his temples:

and did spit upon him; "upon his face," as the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions read:

and bowing their knees, as to a sovereign prince,

worshipped him; saying the above words, hail, king of the Jews? See Gill on "Mt 27:29," See Gill on "Mt 27:30."

Verse 20. And when they had mocked him,.... To their satisfaction, and had had enough of this sort of diversion:

they took off the purple from him; and so, in their way, unkinged him;

and put his own clothes on him: both that he might be known to be the same person; and that the four soldiers, who had the charge of him, might have the perquisites of his clothes at his execution:

and led him out to crucify him: they led him out of the "praetorium," or judgment hall, and through the city, without the gates of it, to the usual place of crucifixion; he bearing his own cross, when first led out.

Verse 21. And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian,.... See Gill on "Mt 27:32";

who passed by; as they were leading Jesus to be crucified:

coming out of the country; from some country village hard by, according to the Syriac, and Vulgate Latin versions; or out of the field, as the Persic and Ethiopic: he might have been in the field, about some rural business; or, as Dr. Lightfoot conjectures, to fetch wood from thence, which was lawful to be done on a feast day, with some provisos, according to the Jewish canon, which runs thus {t}; "they may bring wood out of the field, (i.e. on a feast day, as this was,) of that which is gathered together, and out of a place that is fenced about, and even of that which is scattered abroad: what is a fenced place? whatever is near to a city, the words of R. Judah. R. Jose says, whatever they go into by a door, and even within the border of the sabbath." And according to the commentators {u}, it must be wood that is gathered together, and that lies not in an open field, but in a fenced place, and this near the city; at least with in two thousand cubits, a sabbath day's journey.

The father of Alexander and Rufus; who were men well known when Mark wrote his Gospel, and very likely men of eminence among Christians: mention is made of Alexander in Acts 19:33 and of Rufus, in Romans 16:13, which some have thought the same as here; but whether they are or not, is not certain: however, they obliged "Simon"

to bear his cross: the cross of Christ, after him; See Gill on "Mt 27:32."

{t} Misn. Betza, c. 4. sect. 2. {u} Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. Vid. Maimon. Hilch. Yom Tob, c. 2. sect. 14.

Verse 22. And they bring him unto the place, Golgotha,.... A famous, or rather an infamous one, well known, and much noted for the many executions there:

which is, being interpreted, the place of a skull; because the skulls of men that had been executed and buried there, being dug up again, lay scattered about; See Gill on "Mt 27:33."

Verse 23. And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh,.... Wine mingled with frankincense was what was usually given by the Jews to persons going to die {w}: "he that goes to be executed they mix for him, Nyy lv owkb hnwbl lv jrwq, "a grain of frankincense in a cup of wine," that his mind may be disturbed, or not sensible; as it is said, Proverbs 31:6, "give strong drink to him that is ready to perish, and wine to the bitter in soul": and the tradition is, that the honourable women in Jerusalem gave this freely, and brought it them; and if they did not, it was provided by the congregation," at the public expense; the design of it was to intoxicate, that they might not feel their pain and misery: but neither the rich women in general, nor were the public so disposed towards Christ, as to provide such a potion for him: it is most likely therefore that this was prepared by his friends, as Mary Magdalene, Martha, and others, in order to cheer and refresh his spirits; and was different from what the soldiers gave him, which was vinegar mixed with gall, though the Persic version so reads here:

but he received it not; nor would he so much as taste of it, as he did of the other, to show that he needed no such outward means to support his spirits, nor desired any allay of his sorrows, and was not afraid to meet death in all its terrors; and besides, he had said he would drink no more of the fruit of the vine till he drank it new in his Father's kingdom, Matthew 26:29; See Gill on "Mt 27:34."

{w} T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 43. 1. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 10. fol. 193. 4. Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrin, c. 13. sect. 2, 3. Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. affirm. 98.

Verse 24. And when they had crucified him,.... Had fastened him to the cross, and reared it up, and he was hanging upon it:

they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. This last clause, "what every man should take," is left out in the Arabic version. His garments they divided into four parts; and each soldier, as there were four of them, took a part; and upon his vesture, or seamless coat, because they would not rend it, they cast lots who should have it, and so fulfilled a prophecy in Psalm 22:18; See Gill on "Mt 27:35."

Verse 25. And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. The time of the daily sacrifice of the morning, at which the priests ought to have been; and the time when the sanhedrim usually began to sit {x}; for "the grand sanhedrim sat from the daily sacrifice of the morning, to the daily sacrifice of the evening:" but this being an extraordinary case, and they in a hurry to put Jesus to death, had been sitting up all night; and early in the morning had procured the sentence of death on him, which they were going to execute by the time they used to sit: this was about nine o'clock in the morning, and takes in the time between that and twelve at noon. The Ethiopic version reads, "and it was the sixth hour," to make it agree with John 19:14; and for the reconciling of these two places, See Gill on "Joh 19:14."

{x} Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrin, c. 3, sect. 1.

Verse 26. And the superscription of his accusation,.... Or "the cause of his death," as the Syriac and Persic versions read; the crime for which he suffered:

was written; over his head, upon the cross, to which it was fastened; the sum of which was,

the king of the Jews; See Gill on "Mt 27:37."

Verse 27. And with him they crucified two thieves,.... For his greater reproach;

the one on his right hand, and the other on his left; as if he had been one of them, and a principal among them; See Gill on "Mt 27:38."

Verse 28. And the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith,.... In Isaiah 53:12;

and he was numbered with the transgressors: he was no transgressor of the law of God himself, but was perfectly conformable to it in his holy nature, harmless conversation, and complete obedience: he knew no sin, nor committed any in thought, word, or deed, nor could any be found in him by men or devils; and yet he was traduced as a sinner, and charged with many foul things, none of which could be proved upon him: but inasmuch as he stood in the room, and stead of sinners, and had all the sins of his people imputed to him, and laid upon him, with his own consent, he was treated by the justice of God as if he had been a transgressor, and was reckoned as such; of which his being placed between two thieves, was a symbol and representation: hence he was stricken, and wounded, and died, for the sins of those in whose place he stood. The fifty third chapter of Isaiah, where this passage stands, is a manifest prophecy of the Messiah, as several of the Jewish writers themselves, both ancient and modern, acknowledge; though some would apply it to some other persons {y}.

{y} See my Book of the Prophecies of the Old Testament, &c. p. 160, 161, &c.

Verse 29. And they that passed by,.... In the road, and went by the cross. The Arabic version adds, "before him," Christ, as he hung on the cross:

railed on him, wagging their heads; gave him opprobrious language, and used indecent gestures;

and saying, ah! thou that destroyest the temple; the Vulgate Latin version adds, "of God":

and buildest it in three days; thou poor vain miserable creature, that boasted of thy power, where art thou now? and what dost thou think of thyself?

Verse 30. Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Suggesting that if he was what he had pretended to be, and could do what he gave out he could, he might easily free himself from the cross, and make his escape; See Gill on "Mt 27:39," See Gill on "Mt 27:40."

Verse 31. Likewise also the chief priests mocking,.... Or "laughed at one another," as the Syriac version renders it, having gained their point, and satiated their revenge on him:

said among themselves with the Scribes; who were likewise his implacable enemies;

he saved others, himself he cannot save; See Gill on "Mt 27:41," See Gill on "Mt 27:42."

Verse 32. Let Christ the king of Israel,.... Who sets up for the Messiah, and whose followers call him the king of Israel, whom the nation expected: and if he is so, let him

descend now from the cross, that we may see; see him come down, and be eyewitnesses of his power:

and believe; that he is the Messiah that was prophesied of, and has been waiting for:

and they that were crucified with him reviled him; that is, the thieves, at least one of them; See Gill on "Mt 27:44."

Verse 33. And when the sixth hour was come,.... Or twelve o'clock at noon, having hung upon the cross from about the third hour, or nine in the morning:

there was darkness over the, whole land until the ninth hour; or three o'clock in the afternoon. The Ethiopic version renders the whole thus, "and when it was noon, the sun was darkened, and the whole world was darkened until the ninth hour"; See Gill on "Mt 27:45."

Verse 34. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice,.... See Gill on "Mt 27:46";

saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? in Matthew it is, "Eli, Eli," Both "Eli" and "Eloi," are Hebrew words, and signify the same; and are both used in Psalm 22:1, from whence the whole is taken:

which is, being interpreted, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? See Gill on "Mt 27:46."

Verse 35. And some of them that stood by,.... The cross:

when they heard [it]; the loud voice of Jesus, and the words he uttered:

said, behold he calleth Elias; whom they ignorantly, or wilfully took for Eloi; See Gill on "Mt 27:47."

Verse 36. And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar,.... Christ at the same time saying, I thirst; see John 19:28;

and put it on a reed; an hyssop stalk, John 19:29;

and gave him to drink; and so fulfilled a prophecy in Psalm 69:21;

saying, or "they said," as the Syriac version reads it; not he that fetched the sponge, but the others that were with him, and which agrees with Matthew 27:27;

let alone; as forbidding him to go near him, and offer him any thing to drink:

let us see whether Elias will come and take him down; from the cross; See Gill on "Mt 27:49."

Verse 37. And Jesus cried with a loud voice,.... A second time, and said the words which are in Luke 23:46 and in John 19:30

and gave up the ghost. The Syriac version renders it, "and finished": his life, his days, his race, his ministry, and the work which was given him to do; See Gill on "Mt 27:50."

Verse 38. And the vail of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom. At which time also there was an earthquake, and the rocks were rent, and graves were opened, as Matthew relates, See Gill on "Mt 27:51," See Gill on "Mt 27:52."

Verse 39. And when the centurion, which stood over against him,.... To watch him, that nobody released him, and that he did not come down from the cross himself;

saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost; that he cried with so loud and strong a voice, and the next moment expired:

he said, truly this man was the Son of God; and so said the rest of the soldiers that were with them, as appears from Matthew 27:54, See Gill on "Mt 27:54."

Verse 40. There were also women looking on afar off,.... At some distance from the cross, observing what was said and done;

among whom was Mary Magdalene; who had received great favours from Christ:

and Mary the mother of James the less; or "little," so called to distinguish him from James the son of Zebedee, and because he might be little of stature: nor was it unusual with the Jews to distinguish persons after this manner: so we read {z} of R. Jesa, aryez, "the little," and of Samuel, Nwjqh, "the little" {a}, which some have thought to be the Apostle Paul, so called from the littleness of his stature:

and of Joses; or "Joseph," as the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions read;

and Salome; the mother of Zebedee's children, James and John; See Gill on "Mt 27:56." This was a common name among the Jews; Herod had a sister and a daughter of this name; and the daughter of Herodias, who demanded the head of John, the Baptist, was of this name; and it is the same with Shalom: we read {b} of one Imme Shalom, or mother Shalom, wife of R. Eliezer, and sister to Rabban Gamaliel. Salome, with the Ethiopians {c}, is said to be Mary's midwife, and to accompany Christ, with Mary, and Joseph, when they fled into Egypt.

{z} Zohar in Exod. fol. 63. 2. & passim. {a} T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 28. 2. & 29. 1. {b} T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 116. 1. {c} Ludolph. Lex. Ethiop. p. 525, & Castell. Lex. Polyglot, col. 3767.

Verse 41. Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him,.... Wherever he went in Galilee, and from thence to Jerusalem:

and ministered unto him; of their worldly substance, Luke 8:3:

and many other women which came up with him into Jerusalem; from the same parts; see Matthew 27:55.

Verse 42. And now when the even was come,.... "Of the preparation," as the Syriac version reads; or "the night of the sixth day":, as the Persic version renders it, "Friday" night:

because it was the preparation; of the passover, and of the sabbath, when they prepared their food, and got it ready for the ensuing sabbath, on which it was not lawful to dress any;

that is, the day before the sabbath; that is, Friday; on which day, it is clear, Christ suffered, died, and was buried.

Verse 43. Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable counsellor,.... A man of a good aspect, well dressed, and that behaved well and honourably in his office, as a counsellor: he seems to have been a priest, and one of the bench of priests that sat in the high priest's chamber, which is called, yjwwlb tkvl, "the chamber of the counsellors" {d}; with whom he advised there, in matters of moment:

which also waited for the kingdom of God; for the coming and kingdom of the Messiah, for the Gospel dispensation, the world to come, the Jews were so much in expectation of.

Came and went in boldly unto Pilate; not now ashamed of Christ, or afraid openly to appear in his cause, and declare himself a lover of him, a believer in him, and a disciple of his, though he formerly was:

and craved the body of Jesus; desired leave to take it down from the cross, and bury it; See Gill on "Mt 27:58."

{d} T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 3. 2. & Hieros. Yoma, fol. 38. 3.

Verse 44. And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead,.... For death, by crucifixion, was a slow lingering death; persons that were in their full strength hung a great while before they expired; and the two thieves, which were crucified with Christ, were not dead when he was:

and calling unto him the centurion; who was set to watch him:

he asked him, whether he had been any while dead; he inquired of him, whether he was dead, and how long he had been dead.

Verse 45. And when he knew it of the centurion,.... Who might inform him of his giving up the ghost after he had cried with a loud voice, which so much affected him; and how he was found to be really dead when they came to break the legs of the malefactors; and how that one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, from whence flowed blood and water; so that there was no room to doubt of his being really dead; with which Pilate being satisfied,

he gave the body to Joseph; ordered it to be given to him; gave him leave to take it down from the cross, and inter it.

Verse 46. And he bought fine linen,.... That is, Joseph, as is expressed in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Persic versions; which, when he had done, as is highly probable, in the city of Jerusalem, he went to Mount Calvary,

and took him down; took the body of Christ down from the cross; though, no doubt, with the assistance of others, or by others, and not he himself, at least not alone:

and wrapped him in the linen; wound him up in it, as was the manner of the Jews; See Gill on "Mt 27:59";

and laid him in a sepulchre, which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre; See Gill on "Mt 27:60."

Verse 47. And Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Joses,.... Or Joseph, as the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions read:

beheld where he was laid: very likely they saw Joseph, and his men, take him down from the cross, and they followed him, and observed where he laid him; or, as the Ethiopic version reads, "where they buried him"; placing themselves, as Matthew suggests, right "over against the sepulchre," Matthew 27:61; so that they were witnesses of his death, and of his burial, as they afterwards were of his resurrection from the dead.