Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible
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Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible
Mark Chapter 9

Mark 9:1 "And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power."

Verily I say ... - See the notes at Matthew 16:28. This verse properly belongs to the preceding chapter and the preceding discourse.

 

Mark 9:2-10 "And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. 3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. 4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. 7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. 10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean."

And after six days ... - See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 17:1-9.

 

Mark 9:3 "And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them."

No fuller - Rather, no "scourer." The office of the person here mentioned was to "scour" or "whiten" cloth; not to "full" it, or to render it thicker.

 

Mark 9:6 "For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid."

He wist not - He "knew not." He was desirous of saying something, and he knew not what would be proper.

 

Mark 9:11-13 "And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? 12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. 13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him."

Why say the scribes ... - See the notes at Matthew 17:10-13.

 

Mark 9:14-29

See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 17:14-21.

 

Mark 9:14 "And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them."

Questioning with them - Debating with the disciples, and attempting to confound them. This he saw as he came down from the mount. In his absence they had taken occasion to attempt to perplex and confound his followers.

 

Mark 9:15 "And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him."

Were greatly amazed - Were astonished and surprised at his sudden appearance among them.

Saluted him - Received him with the customary marks of affection and respect. It is probable that this was not by any "formal" manner of salutation, but by the "rush" of the multitude, and by hailing him as the Messiah.

 

Mark 9:16 "And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them?"

What question ye? - What is the subject of your inquiry or debate with the disciples?

 

Mark 9:17 "And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;"

A dumb spirit - A spirit which deprived his son of the power of speaking.

 

Mark 9:18 "And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not."

And wheresoever - In whatever place - at home or abroad, alone or in public.

He teareth him - He rends, distracts, or throws him into convulsions.

He foameth - At the mouth, like a mad animal. Among us these would all be considered as marks of violent derangement or madness.

And pineth away - Becomes thin, haggard, and emaciated. This was the effect of the violence of his struggles, and perhaps of the want of food.

 

Mark 9:22 "And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us."

If thou canst do any thing - I have brought him to the disciples, and they could not help him. If thou canst do anything, have compassion.

 

Mark 9:23 "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."

If thou canst believe - This was an answer to the request, and there was a reference in the answer to the "doubt" in the man's mind about the power of Jesus. "I" can help him. If thou" canst believe," it shall be done. Jesus here demanded "faith" or confidence in his power of healing. His design here is to show the man that the difficulty in the case was not in the want of "power" on his part, but in the want of "faith" in the man; in other words, to rebuke him for having "doubted" at all whether he "could" heal him. So he demands faith of every sinner that comes to him, and none that come without "confidence" in him can obtain the blessing.

All things are possible to him that believeth - All things can be effected or accomplished - to wit, by God - in favor of him that believes, and if thou canst believe, this will be done. God will do nothing in our favor without faith. It is right that we should have confidence in him; and if we "have" confidence, it is easy for him to help us, and he willingly does it. In our weakness, then, we should go to God our Saviour; and though we have no strength, yet "he" can aid us, and he will make all things easy for us.

 

Mark 9:24 "And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."

Said with tears - The man felt the implied rebuke in the Saviour's language; and feeling grieved that he should be thought to be destitute of faith, and feeling deeply for the welfare of his afflicted son, he wept. Nothing can be more touching or natural than this. An anxious father, distressed at the condition of his son, having applied to the disciples in vain, now coming to the Saviour; and not having full confidence that he had the proper qualification to be aided, he wept. Any man would have wept in his condition, nor would the Saviour turn the weeping suppliant away.

I believe - I have faith. I do put confidence in thee, though I know that my faith is not as strong as it should be.

Lord - This word here signifies merely "master," or "sir," as it does often in the New Testament. We have no evidence that he had any knowledge of the divine nature of the Saviour, and he applied the word, probably, as he would have done to any other teacher or worker of miracles.

Help thou mine unbelief - Supply thou the defects of my faith. Give me strength and grace to put "entire" confidence in thee. Everyone who comes to the Saviour for help has need of offering this prayer. In our unbelief and our doubts we need his aid, nor shall we ever put sufficient reliance on him without his gracious help.

 

Mark 9:30-32 "And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. 31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him."

See the notes at Matthew 17:22-23.

 

Mark 9:31 "For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day."

Is delivered - Is given to men to make an atonement by his sufferings and death, and will in due time be taken and killed.

 

Mark 9:33-37 "And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me."

See the notes at Matthew 18:1-5.

 

Mark 9:38 "And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us."

We saw one ... - There is no improbability in supposing that this might have been one of the disciples of John, or one of the seventy whom Jesus had sent out, and who, though he did not "personally" attend on Jesus, yet had the power of working miracles. There is no evidence that he was merely an "exorcist," or that he used the name of Jesus merely as a pretence.

 

Mark 9:39 "But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me."

Forbid him not - Do not prevent his doing good. If he can work a miracle in my name, it is sufficient proof of attachment to me, and he should not be prevented.

Can lightly speak evil of me - The word here rendered "lightly" means quickly or "immediately." The meaning of the passage is, that he to whom God gave the power of working a miracle, by that gave evidence that he could not be found among the enemies of Jesus. He ought not, therefore, to be prevented from doing it. There is no reason to think here that John had any improper designs in opposing the man. He thought that it was evidence that he could not be right, because he did not join them and follow the Saviour. Our Lord taught him differently. He opposed no one who gave evidence that he loved him. Wherever he might be or whatever his work, yet, if he did it in the name of Jesus and with the approbation of God, it was evidence sufficient that he was right. Christians should rejoice in good done by their brethren of any denomination. There are men calling themselves Christians who seem to look with doubt and suspicion on all that is done by those who do not walk with them. They undervalue their labors, and attempt to lessen the evidences of their success and to diminish their influence. True likeness to the Saviour would lead us to rejoice in all the good accomplished. by whomsoever it may be done - to rejoice that the kingdom of Christ is advanced, whether by a Presbyterian, an Episcopalian, a Baptist, or a Methodist. Compare Philemon 1:18.

 

Mark 9:41 "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward."

Whosoever shall give you a cup ... - How easy it is to be a Christian! What is easier than to give a cup of cold water to a thirsty disciple of Jesus! But it must be in his name - that is, because he "is" a Christian, and therefore from love "to the Saviour." This is very different from giving it from a mere motive of common kindness. If done from love to Christ, it will be rewarded; and hence we learn that the humblest acts of Christians - the lowest service that is rendered - will be graciously noticed by Jesus and rewarded. None are so humble in his kingdom as not to be able to do good, and none so poor that he may not show attachment to him. The feeblest service will be accepted, and acts of love that may be forgotten by man, will be remembered by Him, and rewarded in heaven.

 

Mark 9:42-50 "And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. 50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another."

See the notes at Matthew 18:7-9. Millstone. See Matthew 18:6.

 

Mark 9:44-46 "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."

Their worm - This figure is taken from Isaiah 66:24. See the notes at that passage. In describing the great prosperity. of the kingdom of the Messiah, Isaiah says that the people of God "shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men who have transgressed against God." Their enemies would be overcome. They would be slain. The people of God would triumph. The figure is taken from heaps of the dead slain in battle; and the prophet says that the number would be so great that their worm - the worm feeding on the dead - would not die, would live long - as long as there were carcasses to be devoured; and that the fire which was used to burn the bodies of the dead would continue long to burn, and would not be extinguished until they were consumed. The figure, therefore, denotes great misery, and certain and terrible destruction. In these verses it is applied to the state beyond the grave, and is intended to denote that the destruction of the wicked will be awful, widespread, and eternal.

It is not to be supposed that there will be any "real" worm in hell - perhaps no material fire; nor can it be told what was particularly intended by the undying worm. There is no authority for applying it, as is often done, to remorse of conscience, anymore than to any other of the pains and reflections of hell. It is a mere image of loathsome, dreadful, and "eternal" suffering. In what that suffering will consist it is probably beyond the power of any living mortal to imagine. The word their, in the phrase "their worm," is used merely to keep up the "image" or "figure." Dead bodies putrefying in that valley would be overrun with worms, while the "fire" would not be confined to them, but would spread to other objects kindled by combustibles through all the valley. It is "not" meant, therefore, that every particular sufferer has a special worm, or has particular sins that cause remorse of conscience. That is a truth, but it does not appear that it is intended to be taught here.

 

Mark 9:49 "For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt."

Every one shall be salted with fire - Perhaps no passage in the New Testament has given more perplexity to commentators than this, and it may be impossible now to fix its precise meaning. The common idea affixed to it has been, that as salt preserves from putrefaction, so fire, applied to the wicked in hell, will have the property of preserving them in existence, or they will "be" preserved amid the sprinkling of fire, to be continually in their sufferings a sacrifice to the justice of God; but this meaning is not quite satisfactory. Another opinion has been, that as salt was sprinkled on the victim preparatory to its being devoted to God (see Leviticus 2:13), so would "the apostles," by trials, calamities, etc., represented here by "fire," be prepared as a sacrifice and offering to God. Probably the passage has no reference at all to future punishment; and the difficulty of interpreting it has arisen from supposing it to be connected with the 48th verse, or given as a "reason" for what is said in "that" verse, rather than considering it as designed to illustrate the "general design" of the passage. The main scope of the passage was not to discourse of future punishment; that is brought in incidentally. The chief object of the passage was -

1.   To teach the apostles that "other men," not "with them," might be true Christians, (Mark 9:38-39).

2.   That they ought to be disposed to look favorably upon the slightest evidence that they "might be true believers," (Mark 9:41).

3.   That they ought to avoid giving "offence" to such feeble and obscure Christians, (Mark 9:42).

4.   That "everything" calculated to give offence, or to dishonor religion, should be removed, (Mark 9:43). And,

5.   That everything which would endanger their salvation should be sacrificed; that they should "deny" themselves in every way in order to obtain eternal life. In this way they would be "preserved" to eternal life.

The word "fire," here, therefore denotes self-denials, sacrifices, trials, in keeping ourselves from the gratification of the flesh. As if he had said, "Look at the sacrifice on the altar. It is an offering to God, about to be presented to him. It is sprinkled with "salt, emblematic of purity, of preservation and of fitting it, therefore, for a sacrifice." So "you" are devoted to God. You are sacrifices, victims, offerings to him in his service. To make you "acceptable" offerings, every thing must be done to "preserve" you from sin and to "purify" you. Self-denials, subduing the lusts, enduring trials, removing offences, are the proper "preservatives" in the service of God. Doing this, you will be acceptable offerings and be saved; without this, you will be "unfit" for his eternal service and will be lost."

 

Mark 9:50 "Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another."

Lost its saltness ... - See the notes at Matthew 5:13.

Have salt in yourselves - Have the preserving, purifying principle always; the principles of denying yourselves, of suppressing pride, ambition, contention, etc., and thus you will be an acceptable offering to God.

Have peace - Avoid contention and quarrelling, struggling for places, honors, and office, and seek each other's welfare, and religion will be honored and preserved in the world.


Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible
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