Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible
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Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible
Mark Chapter 12

Mark 12:1-12 "And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. 2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 4 And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. 5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. 6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. 7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be our's. 8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. 10 And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: 11 This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 12 And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way."

See this parable explained in the notes at Matthew 21:33-46.

 

Mark 12:13-17 "And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. 14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. 16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's. 17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him."

See the notes at Matthew 22:15-22.

 

Mark 12:18-27 "Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, 19 Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man's brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 20 Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed. 21 And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise. 22 And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also. 23 In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. 24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? 25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. 26 And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err."

See this passage fully explained in the notes at Matthew 22:23-33.

 

Mark 12:25 "For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven."

Are as the angels - That is, as the angels in respect to connections and relations. What those connections and relations may be we know not, but this passage teaches that the special relation of "marriage" will not exist. It does not affirm, however, that there will be no recollection of former marriages, or no recognition of each other as having existed in this tender relation.

 

Mark 12:26 "And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?"

How in the bush - At the burning bush. See Exodus 3:16. The meaning is, "in that part of the book of Exodus which contains the account of the burning bush. When there were no chapters and verses, it was the easiest way of quoting a book of the Old Testament "by the subject," and in this way it was often done by the Jews.

 

Mark 12:28-34 "And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: 33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question."

See the notes at Matthew 22:34-40.

 

Mark 12:28 "And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?"

Perceiving that he answered them well - That is, with wisdom, and with a proper understanding of the law. In this case the opinion of the Saviour corresponded with that of the Pharisees; and the question which this scribe put to him now seems to have been one of the very few candid inquiries of him by the Jews for the purpose of obtaining information. Jesus answered it in the spirit of kindness, and commended the conduct of the man.

 

Mark 12:29 "And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:"

Hear, O Israel! - This was said to call the attention of the Jews to the great importance of the truth about to be proclaimed. See Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

The Lord our God ... - Literally, "Yahweh, our God, is one Yahweh." The other nations worshipped many gods, but the God of the Jews was one, and one only. יהוה  Yahweh was undivided; and this great truth it was the design of the separation of the Jewish people from other nations to keep in mind. This was the "peculiar" truth which was communicated to the Jews, and this they were required to keep and remember forever.

 

Mark 12:30 "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."

And thou shalt love ... - If Yahweh was the "only" God, then they ought not to love any other being supremely - then they might not bow down before any idol. They were required to love God above all other beings or things, and with all the faculties of their minds. See the notes at Matthew 22:37.

 

Mark 12:32-34 "And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: 33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question."

This answer of the scribe is not found in Matthew.

Is more than all - Is of more importance and value.

Discreetly - Wisely, according to truth.

Not far from the kingdom of God - Thou who dost prefer the "internal" to the "external" worship of God - who hast so just a view of the requirements of the law - canst easily become a follower of me, and art almost fit to be numbered among my disciples. This shows that a proper understanding of the Old Testament, of its laws and requirements, would prepare the mind for Christianity, and suit a person at once to embrace it when presented. One system is grafted on the other, agreeably to Galatians 3:24.

And no man after that durst ask him any question - That is, no one of the scribes, the Pharisees, or the Sadducees durst ask him a question for the purpose of "tempting" him or entangling him. He had completely silenced them. It does not appear, however, but that his "disciples" dared to ask him questions for the purpose of information.

 

Mark 12:35-37 "And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 37 David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly."

See the notes at Matthew 22:41-46.

 

Mark 12:37 "David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly."

The common people heard him gladly - The success of the Saviour in his preaching was chiefly among the common or the poorer class of people. The rich and the mighty were too proud to listen to his instructions. So it is still. The main success of the gospel is there, and there it pours down its chief blessings. This is not the fault of "the gospel." It would bless the rich and the mighty as well as the poor, if they came with like humble hearts. God knows no distinctions of men in conferring his favors; and wherever there is a poor, contrite, and humble spirit - be it clothed in rags or in purple - be it on a throne or on a dunghill - there he confers the blessings of salvation.

 

Mark 12:38 "And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,"

In his doctrine - In his "teaching," for so it should be rendered.

Beware of the scribes - Be on your guard. Be cautious about hearing them or following them.

Scribes - The learned men of the Jewish nation.

Which love to go in long clothing - In long, flowing robes, as significant of their consequence, leisure, and learning.

Salutations ... - See the notes at Matthew 23:6-7.

 

Mark 12:40 "Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation."

Which devour widows' houses - Which devour the families of widows, or the means of supporting their families. This they did under pretence of counseling them in the knowledge of the law and in the management of their estates. They took advantage of their ignorance and their unprotected state, and either extorted large sums for their counsel, or perverted the property to their own use.

No wonder that our Saviour denounced them! If there is any sin of special enormity, it is that of taking advantage of the circumstances of the poor, the needy, and the helpless, to wrong them out of the pittance on which they depend for the support of their families; and as God is the friend of the widow and the fatherless, it may be expected that such will be visited with heavy condemnation.

For a pretence - For show, or "pretending" great devotion.

 

Mark 12:41 "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much."

Sat over against - Opposite to, in full sight of.

The treasury - This was in the court of the women. See the notes at Matthew 21:12. In that court there were fixed a number of places or coffers, made with a large open mouth in the shape of a trumpet, for the purpose of receiving the offerings of the people; and the money thus contributed was devoted to the service of the temple - to incense, sacrifices, etc.

 

Mark 12:42 "And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing."

Two mites - The word translated "mite" denotes a small coin made of brass - the smallest in use among the Jews. The precise value cannot now be easily estimated. It was much less than any coin we have, as the "farthing" was less than an English farthing. It was in value about three mills and a half, or one-third of a cent.

 

Mark 12:43 "And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:"

This poor widow hath cast more in ... - That is, more in proportion to her means, and therefore more that was acceptable to God. He does not mean that this was more in value than all which the others had put in but it showed more love to the sacred cause, more self-denial, and, of course, more sincerity in what she did. This is the rule by which God will reward us. Compare 2 Corinthians 8:12.

 

Mark 12:44 "For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."

Of their abundance - Of their superfluous store. They have given what they did not "need." They could afford it as well as not, and in doing it they have shown no self-denial.

She of her want - Of her poverty.

All her living - All that she had to live on. She trusted in God to supply her wants, and devoted her little property entirely to him. From this passage we may learn:

1. That God is pleased with offerings made to him and his cause.

2. That it is our duty to devote our property to God. We received it from him, and we shall not employ it in a proper manner unless we feel that we are stewards, and ask of him what we shall do with it. Jesus approved the conduct of all who had given money to the treasury.

3. That the highest evidence of love to the cause of religion is not the "amount" given, but the amount compared with our means.

4. That it "may be" proper to give "all" our property to God, and to depend on his providence for the supply of our wants.

5. That God does not despise the humblest offering, if made in sincerity. He loves a cheerful giver.

6. That there are none who may not in this way show their love to the cause of religion. There are few, very few students in Sunday Schools who may not give as much to the cause of religion as this poor widow; and Jesus would be as ready to approve their offerings as he was hers: and the time to "begin" to be benevolent and to do good is in early life, in childhood.

7. That it is every man's duty to inquire, not how much he gives, but how much compared with what he has; how much self-denial he practices, and what is the "motive" with which it is done.

8. We may remark that few practice self-denial for the purpose of charity. Most give of their abundance - that is, what they can spare without feeling it, and many feel that this is the same as throwing it away. Among all the thousands who give to these objects, how few deny themselves of one comfort, even the least, that they may advance the kingdom of Christ!


Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible
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