HOLY GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST,
ACCORDING TO S. MARK.
S. Mark, who wrote this Gospel, is called by S. Augustine, the abridger of S. Matthew; by S. Irenæus, the disciple and interpreter of S. Peter; and according to Origen and S. Jerom, he is the same Mark whom S. Peter calls his son. Stilting, the Bollandist, (in the life of S. John Mark, T. vii. Sep. 27, p. 387, who was son of the sister of S. Barnabas) endeavours to prove that this was the same person as our evangelist; and this is the sentiment of S. Jerom, and some others: but the general opinion is that John, surnamed Mark, mentioned in Acts xii. was a different person. He was the disciple of S. Paul, and companion of S. Barnabas, and was with S. Paul at Antioch, when our evangelist was with S. Peter at Rome, or at Alexandria, as Eusebius, S. Jerom, Baronius, and others observe. Tirinus is of opinion that the evangelist was not one of the seventy-two disciples, because as S. Peter calls him his son, he was converted by S. Peter after the death of Christ. S. Epiphanius, however, assures us he was one of the seventy-two, and forsook Christ after hearing his discourse on the Eucharist, (John vi.) but was converted by S. Peter after Christ's resurrection, hær. 51, c. v. p. 528.
--- The learned are generally of opinion, that the original was written in Greek, and not in Latin; for, though it was written at the request of the Romans, the Greek language was commonly understood amongst them; and the style itself sufficiently shews this to have been the case: Omnia Græcè;
Cum sit turpe magis nostris nescire Latinè. Juvenal, Satyr vi.
--- The old MS. in Latin, kept at Venice, and supposed by some to be the original, is shewn by Montfaucon and other antiquaries, to have been written in the sixth century, and contains the oldest copy extant of S. Jerom's version.
--- S. Peter revised the work of S. Mark, approved of it, and authorized it to be read in the religious assemblies of the faithful; hence some, as we learn from Tertullian, attributed this gospel to S. Peter himself. S. Mark relates the same facts as S. Matthew, and often in the same words: but he adds several particular circumstances, and changes the order of the narration, in which he agrees with S. Luke and S. John. He narrates two histories not mentioned by S. Matthew; the widow's two mites, and Christ's appearing to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus; also some miraculous cures; (Mark i. 40, vii. 32, viii. 22, 26) and omits many things noticed by S. Matthew. . . But nothing proves clearly, as Dom. Ceillier and others suppose, that he made use of S. Matthew's gospel. In his narrative he is concise, and he writes with a most pleasing simplicity and elegance.
--- It is certain that S. Mark was sent by S. Peter into Egypt, and was by him appointed bishop of Alexandria, (which, after Rome, was accounted the second city of the world) as Eusebius, S. Epiphanius, S. Jerom, and others assure us. He remained here, governing that flourishing church with great prudence, zeal, and sanctity. He suffered martyrdom in the 14th year of the reign of Nero, in the year of Christ 68, and three years after the death of SS. Peter and Paul, at Alexandria, on the 25th of April; having been seized the previous day, which was Sunday, at the altar, as he was offering to God the prayer of the oblation, or the mass.
Ver. 1. The beginning of the Gospel. The Greek word† and Latin derived from it, signifies the good news, or happy tidings about Christ's coming and doctrine. The word gospel is from the Saxon, God's spell, or good spell, i.e. God's word, or good speech. Wi.
--- Some are of opinion that the termination of the first verse should be pointed with a simple comma, thus connecting it with the sequel; and the Greek text seems to favour this sentiment. According to the punctuation of the Vulgate, the first verse is merely the inscription or title.
[†] V. 1. Euaggelion, Evangelium, bonum nuncium.
Ver. 2. In Isaias, the prophet. That in the ancient copies was read Isaias, and not Malachy, is confirmed by the Syriac version, and also by S. Irenæus, Origen, S. Jerom, &c. It is also proved from an objection of Porphyrius, who says, S. Mark mistook Isaias for Malachy. In the ordinary Greek copies at present, we read in the prophets, not naming either Isaias or Malachy. The words seem taken partly out of one, and partly out of the other. These words, behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee, are found Malac. iii. v. 1. And the following words, a voice of one crying in the desert: prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths, are is Isaias, c. xl, v. 3. Wi.
--- In the beginning of his gospel, S. Mark alleges the authority of the prophets, that he might induce every one, both Jew and Gentile, to receive with willingness what he here relates, as the authority of the prophets so highly respected was very great. S. John is here styled an angel, on account of his angelic life, and extraordinary sanctity; but what is meant by, who shall prepare thy way, is, that S. John is to prepare the minds of the Jews, by his baptism and preaching, to receive their Messias. Theophylactus. See in Mat. xi. 10.
Ver. 3. See Mat. iii. 3.
Ver. 4. For the remission of sins. Some commentators think from this that the baptism of John remitted sins, though he says in another place, I baptize you with water, but there has stood one amongst you, who will baptize you with water and the Holy Ghost, to shew that he did not baptize with the Holy Ghost, without which there is no remission of sin. This apparent difficulty will be easily reconciled, if we refer this expression to the word penance, and not baptism; so that by penance their sins were to be washed away, and there were baptized to shew their detestation of their former life. Jans. Concord. Evang.
Ver. 6. See Matt. iii. 4.
--- Wild honey. Rabbanus thinks it was a kind of white and tender leaf, which, when rubbed in the hand, emitted a juice like honey. Suidas thinks it was a kind of dew, collected from leaves of trees, and was called manna. But S. Chrys. Theophy. Euthy. and Isidore, with greatest probability, think it was honey collected by wild bees, in the fissures of rocks, or in the holes of decayed trees, which was insipid and unpleasant to the taste. Tirinus.
Ver. 7. One mightier than I. The precursor does not yet openly declare our Lord to be the Son of God, but only one mightier than himself. The Jews were not prepared to receive his coming; he therefore wisely led them by degrees to the knowledge of what divine Providence had designed them; he yet secretly assures them that he is the Son of God. I have baptized you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. Now it is evident that none but God can bestow upon man the grace of the Holy Ghost. Ven. Bede.
Ver. 9. See notes on our Saviour's baptism, Matt. iii.
--- That Christ was baptized by immersion, is clear from the text; for he who ascended out of the water must first have descended into it. And this method was of general use in the Church for 1300 years, as appears from the acts of councils and ancient rituals. It is imagined by some, that in the very spot of the river Jordan, where the ark stood whilst the Israelites passed over, our Lord (the ark of the covenant of grace) was baptized by S. John.
Ver. 10. Spirit. The epithet Holy is not found in most of the Greek MSS. but it is in John i. 32. and 33.
Ver. 11. The Greek printed copies, and some MSS. read with S. Matt. (iii. 17.) in whom, en w, ita. S. Chrys. Euthym. and Th. Some few, however, have en soi, in thee, with the Syriac and Latin text. P.
--- All the Fathers cite these verses for a proof of the Trinity: the testimony of the Father speaking, of the Son receiving the testimony, of the Holy Ghost descending in the shape of a dove. P. in Matt. iii. 17.
Ver. 12. Into the desert. For the description of this desert, &c. read Maundrel's Travels, or extracts therefrom in Rutter's Evangelical Harmony. Vol. i. p. 169.
Ver. 13. The Greek does not express the forty nights, but we find it in S. Matt. iv. 2.
Ver. 15. As if he were to say: To this day the Mosaic law has been in full force, but henceforth the evangelical law shall be preached; which law is not undeservedly compared to the kingdom of God. Theophy.
--- Repent, therefore, says our Saviour, and believe the gospel; for if you believe not, you shall not understand; repent, therefore, and believe. What advantage is it to believe with good works? the merit of good works will not bring us to faith, but faith is the beginning of good works. S. Jerom.
Ver. 16. We must observe that what S. Luke mentions, relative to the vocation of the apostles, is antecedent in point of time to what is here related by S. Mark; since it is known that these disciples on some occasions returned to their fishing, until Jesus called them to be his constant attendants. Theophylactus.
CapharnaumCapharnaum (Mt 4:13, etc.), on the Lake of Tiberias; identified by some with Tell Hûm, on the W. shore; by others with Minieh, S.W. of Tell Hûm. --- Capharnaum is situated on the western coast of the sea of Tiberias. Christ having left Nazareth, made the former city the usual place of his abode. There was no city in which he had preached so much, or wrought so many miracles. On this account, he said it was exalted to the heavens; but for its incredulity he threatens it shall be cast down even unto hell. Calmet.
Ver. 24. The Greek text has here the same as in Luke iv. 34, Let us alone. V.
--- I know who thou art. It is a common opinion, that the devil did not know for certain that Jesus was the true Son of God. Yet S. Mark's words, both in this and v. 34, seem to signify he did know it. Wi.
Ver. 25. Christ would not suffer the devils to be produced as witnesses of his divinity; the author of truth could not bear the father of lies to bear testimony of him. Hence Jesus threatened him, in order to teach us never to believe or put our trust in demons, whatever they may foretell. S. Chrys.
Ver. 26. Tearing him: not that the devil tore the poor man's limbs or body; for S. Luke (iv. 35.) expressly tells us, that the devil hurt him not. It means no more, than that he shook him with violent agitations. Wi.
Ver. 27. It is observed by S. Justin, (Apol. i. 54.) that the discourses of Jesus were short and concise. S. Chrys. (in hom. xlviii. in Matt.) says, that Christ here accommodated his preaching to his hearers, and to his subject. The ancients differ as to the length of time employed by Christ in the ministry of the word. It is most probable that he spent about three years in announcing to the world his heavenly doctrines. In the first year of his preaching, he seems not to have met with any great opposition; and on this account it may have been called, by the prophet Isaias, the acceptable year. Sandinus.
--- What is this new doctrine? In the Greek, This new manner of instructing. See below, xiv. 2, and xii. 38.
Ver. 30. It appears from S. Mark and S. Luke, that the cure of Peter's mother-in-law and the other sick, here mentioned, happened after the preceding narrative, and probably on the same day. But S. Matt. does not observe this order; for having related that Jesus, after the sermon on the mount, entered Capharnaum, and healed the centurion's servant, he hence takes occasion to mention this and the other miracles, which he had omitted, and which Jesus had wrought at his first coming to Capharnaum. Rutter.
Ver. 34. The devils knew that it was Christ, who had been promised for so many ages before; for they saw him perform the wonders which the prophets had foretold of him; yet they were not perfectly acquainted with his divine nature, or otherwise they never would have persecuted to death and crucified the Lord of glory. S. Aug.
--- But Christ would not permit them to declare that they knew him. V.
--- See Luke iv. 41.
Ver. 44. It was not the intention of Christ, that he should not tell any body; had that been his wish, he would easily have realized it: he spoke thus purposely, to shew us that we ought not to seek the empty praises of men. He bade him also offer the sacrifices prescribed, because the law remained in full force till the passion of Christ, in which was offered a perfect sacrifice, that did away with all the legal sacrifices. Nic. de Lyra.