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Verses 19-21

Mark 3:19-21. And they went into a house It appears, from the manner in which Mark here connects this with the names of the apostles, that it happened very quickly after their being chosen. The other evangelists, indeed, inform us of some previous events which happened in the meantime, but they might be despatched in a few hours. And the multitude cometh together Assembled again about the doors and windows of the house, and pressed so eagerly upon him; that they Christ and his disciples, or the members of the family could not so much as eat bread Or take any sustenance, though it was the proper hour for it. And when his friends heard of it Greek, οι παραυτου ; “a common phrase,” says Dr. Campbell, “for denoting sui, (so the Vulgate,) his friends, propinqui, cognati, his kinsmen or relations. I prefer,” says he, “the word kinsmen, as the circumstances of the story evince that it is not his disciples who are meant.” This interpretation of the expression the doctor defends very ably by a critical examination of the original text, and an elaborate exposition of the verse; but which is too long to be inserted here. They went Or, went forth, namely, from their own homes; to lay hold on him Namely, says Grotius, “that they might take him away from that house, in which he was pressed, to another place:” for they said, Οτι εξεστη , that he faints, or, may faint; so Grotius, Dr. Whitby, and some others, understand the word, thinking it “absurd to say, that Christ did, either in his gestures or in his actions, show any symptoms of transportation or excess of mind; nor could his kindred, they think, have any reason to conceive thus of him, who had never given the least symptoms of any such excess, though those of them who believed not in him, might have such unworthy thoughts of him.” Dr. Hammond, however, justly observes that the word here used “doth, in all places of the New Testament but this and 2 Corinthians 5:13, signify being amazed, or astonished, or in some sudden perturbation of mind, depriving a person of the exercise of his faculties. And in the place just referred to, it is opposed to σωφρονειν , sobriety, or temper. And thus in the Old Testament it is variously used for excess, vehemency, or commotion of mind. Psalms 31:22, we read, I said in my haste, &c., where the Greek is, εν τη εκστασει μου , in the excess, or vehemence of my mind.

Accordingly, here he supposes the word may be most fitly taken for a commotions, excess, vehemence, or transportation of mind, acting or speaking in zeal, (above what is ordinarily called temper and sobriety;) or in such a manner as they were wont to act or speak who were moved by some extraordinary influence, as the prophets, and other inspired persons, according to that of Chrysostom, Τουτο μαντεως ιδιον το εξεστηκεναι , It belongs to prophets to be thus transported, which sense of the word is suited to the place, for in this chapter Christ begins to show himself in the full lustre of his office; he cures on the sabbath day, which the Pharisees conceived to be unlawful; looks about him with anger, or some incitation of mind; is followed by great multitudes; heals the diseased, and is flocked to for that purpose; is called openly the Son of God by the demoniacs; makes twelve disciples, and commissions them to preach and to do cures. Upon this the Pharisees and Herodians take counsel against him, and those of their faction say, He acts by Beelzebub, and is possessed by him, that is, that he was actuated by some principal evil spirit, and did all his miracles thereby; and so was not to be followed, but abhorred by men. And they who uttered not these high blasphemies against him, yet thought and said, οτι εξεστη , that he was in an excess, or transportation of mind, and this, it seems, was the conceit of his own kindred. They had a special prejudice against him, chap. Mark 6:4; and did not believe on him, John 7:5; and accordingly, hearing a report of his doing these extraordinary things, they came out, κρατησαι , to lay hold on, or get him into their hands, and take him home with them, for they said he was guilty of some excesses.” The above interpretation supposes the sense of the expression to be nearly the same with that which is given by our translators, He is beside himself, which has the sanction of the Vulgate, in furorem versus est, and which, as has been noticed, is fully justified by Dr. Campbell, who concludes his defence of it in the following words: “I cannot help observing, on the whole, that in the way the verse is here rendered, no signification is assigned to the words which it is not universally allowed they frequently bear; no force is put upon the construction, but every thing interpreted in the manner which would most readily occur to a reader of common understanding, who, without any preconceived opinion, entered on the study. On the contrary, there is none of the other interpretations which does not, as has been shown, offer some violence to the words or to the syntax; in consequence of which, the sense extracted is far from being that which would most readily present itself to an unprejudiced reader. It hardly admits a doubt, that the only thing which has hindered the universal concurrence of translators in the common version, is the unfavourable light it puts our Lord’s relations in. But that their disposition was, at least, not always favourable to his claims, we have the best authority for asserting.”

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