Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible
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Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible
Mark Chapter 6

Mark 6:1-6 "And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. 4 But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. 6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching."

See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 13:54-58.

 

Mark 6:7 "And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;"

And he called unto him the twelve - See the notes at Matthew 10:1.

And began to send them forth by two and two - In order that they might "support" and "encourage" each other in their work. Amid the trials and opposition with which they would meet, mutual counsel and aid would greatly lighten their burdens and alleviate their calamities. Mutual counsel might also contribute to their success, and lead to "united" plans to advance the kingdom of the Redeemer. Jesus here, as in all the work of religion, consulted at the same time the "happiness" and the "usefulness" of his disciples; nor are they ever separated. Whatever contributes to the "usefulness" of his people produces also their happiness; or, in other words, the secret of being happy is to be "useful."

 

Mark 6:8-11 "And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: 9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. 10 And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. 11 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city."

See these verses fully explained in the notes at Matthew 10:9-15. In Matthew 10:5 they were commanded not to go among the Gentiles or Samaritans. Mark omits that direction, perhaps, because he was writing for the "Gentiles," and the direction might create unnecessary difficulty or offence. Perhaps he omits it also because the command was given for a temporary purpose, and was not in force at the time of his writing.

 

Mark 6:12 "And they went out, and preached that men should repent."

Preached that men should repent - See the nature of repentance explained in notes at Matthew 3:2. They were now called upon to repent and reform their lives because sin was evil, because the Messiah had come to preach forgiveness to the penitent, and because at "his" presence it was fit that the nation should turn from its sins and prepare to receive him.

 

Mark 6:13 "And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them."

Cast out many devils - See the notes at Matthew 4:24.

And anointed with oil ... - Anointing with oil was in common use among the Jews in cases of sickness. It was supposed to have a mild, soothing, and alleviating effect on the body. In James 5:14, the elders of the church, in connection with prayer, were directed also to anoint the sick with "oil." See the notes at that passage. It was also used in wounds. See the notes at Isaiah 1:6. The good Samaritan poured oil and wine into the wounds of the waylaid Jew, (Luke 10:34). Josephus says that, in the last sickness of Herod, his physicians commanded him to be anointed with oil. It need not be supposed, however, that the apostles used oil for mere "medical" purposes. It was used, probably, like the imposition of hands, or like our Saviour's anointing the eyes of the blind with clay; also as a sign, in expectation of imparting that aid and comfort from God which was sought, and which was "represented" by the soothing and gentle effect of oil.

 

Mark 6:14-20 "And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. 16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. 17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her. 18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. 19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly."

See this account of the death of John the Baptist fully explained in the notes at Matthew 14:1-12.

 

Mark 6:20 "For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly."

For Herod feared John - That is, he stood in awe of him on account of his sanctity, and his boldness and fearlessness in reproving sin.

Knowing that he was a just man and an Holy - A holy, pious, upright, honest man - a man who would not be afraid of him, or afraid to speak his real sentiments.

And observed him - Margin, "kept him, or saved him." This does not mean that he "observed" or obeyed his teachings, but that he kept him in safe custody in order to preserve him from the machinations of Herodias. He was willing to show his respect for John, and to secure him from danger, and even to do "many things" which might indicate respect for him - at least, to do so much as to guard him from his enemies.

And did many things - But he did not do the thing which was demanded of him - to break off from his sins. He attempted to make a compromise with his conscience. He still loved his sins, and did "other" things which he supposed might be accepted in the place of putting away, as he ought, the wife of his brother - the polluted and adulterous woman with whom he lived. Perhaps he treated John kindly, or spoke well of him, or aided him in his wants, and attempted in this way to silence his rebukes and destroy his faithfulness. This was probably before John was imprisoned. So sinners often treat ministers kindly, and do much to make them comfortable, and hear them gladly, while they are still unwilling to do the thing which is demanded of them - to repent and believe the gospel. They expect that their kind attentions will be accepted in the place of what God demands - repentance and the forsaking of their sins.

 

Mark 6:30 "And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught."

And the apostles gathered themselves together - That is, those whom he had sent out two and two, (Mark 4:7). Having traveled around the country, they returned and met the Saviour at Capernaum.

 

Mark 6:31 "And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat."

A desert place - A retired place, across the sea from Capernaum, where they would be free from interruption.

There were many coming and going - Coming to be healed and retiring, or coming to hear him preach. It means that they were "thronged," or that there was a vast multitude attending his preaching.

 

Mark 6:32-44

See this narrative explained in the notes at Matthew 14:13-21.

 

Mark 6:32 "And they departed into a desert place by ship privately."

By ship - By a boat or a small vessel.

Privately - Without making their plan known. They intended to go privately. It appears, however, that their intention became known, and multitudes followed them.

 

Mark 6:33 "And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him."

Afoot thither - On foot to the place where they saw them going.

Out of all cities - All cities or large towns in the neighborhood.

 

Mark 6:34 "And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things."

Much people ...as sheep ... - They had no one to teach them and guide them. The priests and scribes were proud and corrupt; they despised the common people and neglected them.

 

Mark 6:35 "And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed:"

The time is far passed - The day is almost gone. It is drawing near night.

 

Mark 6:37 "He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?"

Two hundred pennyworth of bread - About twenty-eight dollars, or 6 British pounds. See the notes at Matthew 14:16. As the disciples had a common purse in which they carried their little property, consisting of the donations of their friends and money to be given to the poor (compare John 12:6; Matthew 26:8-9; Luke 8:3), it is not improbable that they had at this time about this sum in their possession. Philip - for it was he who asked the question (John 6:7) - asked, with a mixture of wonder and agitation, whether they should take all their little property and spend it on a single meal? And even if we should, said he, it would not be sufficient to satisfy such a multitude. It was implied in this that, in his view, they could not provide for them if they wished to, and that it would be better to send them away than to attempt it.

 

Mark 6:40 "And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties."

In ranks - Literally, in the form of square beds in a garden. By regularly formed companies.

By hundreds and by fifties - Some companies had a hundred in them, and some groupings had fifty in them. We do not need to suppose that these were "exactly" formed or arranged, but that this was approximately the number. The expression indicates a "multitude." There were so many that they sat down, by "hundreds" and by "fifties," in separate companies, upon the green grass.

 

Mark 6:43 "And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes."

twelve baskets - Baskets belonging to the disciples, in which they carried their provisions, or, perhaps, belonging to some of the multitude.

Fragments - Broken pieces of the bread that remained.

 

Mark 6:45-56 "And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. 46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. 47 And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. 48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. 49 But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: 50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid. 51 And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. 52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened. 53 And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. 54 And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, 55 And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. 56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole."

See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 14:22-36.

 

Mark 6:52 "For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened."

They considered not the miracle of the loaves - They did not remember or call to mind the "power" which Jesus had shown in feeding the five thousand by a miracle, and that, having done that, he had power also to save them from the storm.

Their heart was hardened - Their "mind" was dull to perceive it. This does not mean that they were "opposed" to Jesus, or that they had what we denominate "hardness of heart," but simply that they were slow to perceive his power. They did not quickly learn, as they ought to have done, that he had all power, and could therefore allay the storm. The word "heart" is frequently used in this sense. See Ephesians 1:18, in Greek; (Romans 1:21; Romans 2:15; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

 

Mark 6:54 "And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him,"

They knew him - They "recollected" Jesus, because he had been there before and worked miracles.

 

Mark 6:56 "And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole."

The border of his garment - Compare the notes at Matthew 9:20.


Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible
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