Mark 11


Christ rides triumphantly into Jerusalem, 1-11.

The barren fig tree cursed, 12-14.

He cleanses the temple, 15-17.

The scribes and chief priests are enraged, 18.

Reflections on the withered fig tree, 19-23.

Directions concerning prayer and forgiveness, 24-26.

The chief priests, &c., question him by what authority he did

his works, 27, 28.

He answers, and confounds them, 29-33.


Verse 1. He sendeth-two of his disciples] This was done but a

few days before the passover. See our Lord's entry into Jerusalem

illustrated, on Mt 21:1-17.

Verse 2. Whereon never man sat] No animal was allowed to be

employed in sacred uses, even among the heathen, that had

previously been used for any domestic or agricultural purpose; and

those which had never been yoked were considered as sacred. See

several proofs of this in the note on Nu 19:2, and add this from


Bos tibi, Phoebus ait, solis occurret in arvis,

Nullum passa jugum curvique immunis aratri.

Met. lib. iii. v. 10.

The Delphic oracles this answer give:-

Behold among the fields a lonely cow,

Unworn with yokes, unbroken to the plough.

Verse 3. And straightway he will send him hither.] From the

text, I think it is exceedingly plain, that our Lord did not beg,

but borrow, the colt; therefore the latter clause of this verse

should be understood as the promise of returning him. Is not the

proper translation the following? And if any one say to you, Why

do ye this? Say, the Lord hath need of him, and will speedily

send him back hither-καιευθεωςαυτοναποστελλειωδε. Some

eminent critics take the same view of the passage.

Verse 6. And they let them go.] Having a full assurance that

the beast should be safely and speedily restored.

Verse 10. In the name of the Lord] Omitted by BCDLU, some

others, and several versions. Griesbach leaves it out.

Hosanna in the highest!] See Clarke on Mt 21:9.

Verse 11. When he had looked round about upon all things] He

examined every thing-to see if the matters pertaining to the

Divine worship were properly conducted; to see that nothing was

wanting-nothing superfluous.

And now the eventide was come] The time in which he usually

left Jerusalem, to go to Bethany.

Verse 13. For the time of figs was not yet.] Rather, For it

was not the season of gathering figs yet. This I am fully

persuaded is the true sense of this passage, ουγαρηνκαιρος

συκων. For a proof that καιρος here signifies the time of

gathering the figs, see the LXX. in Ps 1:3.

He bringeth forth his fruit, ενκαιρωαυτου, in his season; i.e.

in the time in which fruit should be ripe, and fit for gathering.

See also Mr 12:2:

-And at the season, τωκαιρω, the time of gathering the fruits of

the vineyard.

Mt 21:34:-

When the time of the fruit drew near; οκαιροςτωνκαρπων, the

time in which the fruits were to be gathered, for it was then that

the Lord of the vineyard sent his servants to receive the fruits;

i.e. so much of them as the holder of the vineyard was to pay to

the owner by way of rent; for in those times rent was paid in kind.

To the above may be added, Job 5:26:-

Thou shalt come to thy grave in FULL AGE, like as a shock of corn

cometh in his season; κατακαιρον, in the time in which it should

be reaped.

When our Lord saw this fig tree by the way-side, apparently

flourishing, he went to it to gather some of the figs: being on

the way-side, it was not private, but public property; and any

traveller had an equal right to its fruit. As it was not as yet

the time for gathering in the fruits, and yet about the time

when they were ready to be gathered, our Lord with propriety

expected to find some. But as this happened about five days

before that passover on which Christ suffered, and the passover

that year fell on the beginning of April, it has been asked, "How

could our Lord expect to find ripe figs in the end of March?"

Answer, Because figs were ripe in Judea as early as the passover.

Besides, the fig tree puts forth its fruit first, and afterwards

its leaves. Indeed, this tree, in the climate which is proper for

it, has fruit on it all the year round, as I have often seen. All

the difficulty in the text may be easily removed by considering

that the climate of Judea is widely different from that of Great

Britain. The summer begins there in March, and the harvest at

the passover, as all travellers into those countries testify;

therefore, as our Lord met with this tree five days before the

passover, it is evident,-1st. That it was the time of ripe figs:

and, 2ndly. That it was not the time of gathering them, because

this did not begin till the passover, and the transaction here

mentioned took place five days before.

For farther satisfaction on this point, let us suppose:-I. That

this tree was intended to point out the state of the Jewish

people. 1. They made a profession of the true religion. 2. They

considered themselves the peculiar people of God, and despised and

reprobated all others. 3. They were only hypocrites, having

nothing of religion but the profession-leaves, and no fruit.

II. That our Lord's conduct towards this tree is to be

considered as emblematical of the treatment and final perdition

which was to come upon this hypocritical and ungodly nation. 1.

It was a proper time for them to have borne fruit: Jesus had been

preaching the doctrine of repentance and salvation among them for

more than three years; the choicest influences of Heaven had

descended upon them; and every thing was done in this vineyard

that ought to be done, in order to make it fruitful. 2. The time

was now at hand in which God would require fruit, good fruit; and,

if it did not produce such, the tree should be hewn down by the

Roman axe. Therefore, 1. The tree is properly the Jewish nation.

2. Christ's curse the sentence of destruction which had now gone

out against it; and, 3. Its withering away, the final and total

ruin of the Jewish state by the Romans. His cursing the fig tree

was not occasioned by any resentment at being disappointed at not

finding fruit on it, but to point out unto his disciples the wrath

which was coming upon a people who had now nearly filled up the

measure of their iniquity.

A fruitless soul, that has had much cultivation bestowed on it,

may expect to be dealt with as God did with this unrighteous

nation. See on Mt 21:19, &c.

Verse 15. And they come] Several MSS. and versions have

παλιν, again. This was the next day after our Lord's

triumphant entry into Jerusalem; for on the evening of that day he

went to Bethany, and lodged there, Mr 11:11, and Mt 21:17, and

returned the next morning to Jerusalem.

Verse 16. Should carry any vessel] Among the Jews the word

keli, vessel, had a vast latitude of meaning; it signified

arms, Jer 21:4; Eze 9:1;

clothes, De 22:5,

and instruments of music, Ps 71:22.

It is likely that the evangelist uses the Greek word σκευος in

the same sense, and by it points out any of the things which were

bought and sold in the temple.

Verse 17. And he taught-them] See Clarke on Mt 21:12.

Verse 19. He went out of the city.] To go to Bethany.

Verse 22. Have faith in God] εχετεπιστινθεου is a mere

Hebraism: have the faith of God, i.e. have strong faith, or the

strongest faith, for thus the Hebrews expressed the superlative

degree; so the mountains of God mean exceeding great mountains-the

hail of God, exceeding great hail, &c.

Verse 25. When ye stand praying] This expression may mean no

more than, When ye are disposed, or have a mind, to pray, i.e.

whenever ye perform that duty. And it is thus used and explained

in the Koran, Surat. v. ver. 7. See Clarke on Mt 21:20-22. But the

Pharisees loved to pray standing, that they might be seen of men.

Verse 26. At the end of this verse, the 7th and 8th verses of

Matt. 7:, Mt 7:7, 8 Ask and ye shall receive, &c., are added by

M, and sixteen other MSS.

The 26th verse is wanting in BLS, seven others, some editions,

the Coptic, one Itala, and Theophyact.

Verse 27. - 33. See on Mt 21:23-27.

Verse 28. See Clarke on Mr 11:27.

Verse 29. See Clarke on Mr 11:27.

Verse 30. See Clarke on Mr 11:27.

Verse 31. See Clarke on Mr 11:27.

Verse 32. They feared the people] Or rather, We fear, &c.

Instead of εφοβουντο, they feared; the Codex Bezae, seven others,

later Syriac, Arabic, Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and

all the Itala, read φοβουμεν, or φοβουμεθα. The common reading

appearing to me quite improper.

WE fear the people. εαν, if, before ειπωμεν, we shall

say, is omitted by ABCEFGHLS, and more than fifty others. Bengel

leaves it out of the text, and puts a note of interrogation after

εξανθρωπων; and then the whole passage reads thus: But shall we

say, Of men? They feared the people, &c. This change renders the

adoption of φοβουμεν, we fear, unnecessary. Several critics

prefer this mode of distinguishing the text. However the critics

may be puzzled with the text, the scribes, chief priests, and

elders were worse puzzled with our Lord's question. They must

convict themselves or tell a most palpable falsehood.-They told

the lie, and so escaped for the present.

1. ENVY, malice, and double dealing have always a difficult

part to act, and are ultimately confounded by their own projects

and ruined by their own operations. On the other hand, simplicity

and sincerity are not obliged to use a mask, but always walk in a

plain way.

2. The case of the barren fig-tree which our Lord cursed has

been pitifully misunderstood and misapplied. The whole account of

this transaction, as stated above, I believe to be correct; it is

so much in our Lord's usual manner that the propriety of it will

scarcely be doubted. He was ever acting the part of the

philosopher, moralist, and divine, as well as that of the Saviour

of sinners. In his hand, every providential occurrence and every

object of nature, became a means of instruction: the stones of the

desert, the lilies of the field, the fowls of heaven, the beasts

of the forest, fruitful and unfruitful trees, with every ordinary

occurrence, were so many grand texts, from which he preached the

most illuminating and impressive sermons, for the instruction and

salvation of his audience. This wisdom and condescension cannot

be sufficiently admired. But shall the example of the fruitless

fig tree be lost on us as well as on the Jews? God forbid! Let

us therefore take heed, lest having been so long unfruitful, God

should say, Let no fruit appear on thee hereafter for ever! and in

consequence of this, we wither and die away!

See Clarke on Mr 11:27.

Verse 33. See Clarke on Mr 11:27.

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