Mark 9

CHAPTER IX.

The transfiguration of Christ, and the discourse occasioned by

it, 1-13.

He casts out a dumb spirit which his disciples could not, 14-29.

He foretells his death, 30-32.

The disciples dispute about supremacy, and Christ corrects them,

33-37.

Of the person who cast out demons in Christ's name, but did not

follow him, 38-40.

Every kind of office done to the disciples of Christ shall be

rewarded by him, and all injuries done to them shall be

punished, 41, 42.

The necessity of mortification and self-denial, 43-48.

Of the salting of sacrifices, 49;

and the necessity of having union among the disciples of Christ,

50.

NOTES ON CHAP. IX.

Verse 1. There be some] This verse properly belongs to the

preceding chapter, and to the preceding discourse. It is in this

connection in Mt 16:27, 28. See the notes there.

Verse 2. And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, &c.]

For a full account of the nature and design of the

transfiguration, See Clarke on Mt 17:1, &c.

A high mountain] I have conjectured, Mt 17:1, that this was

one of the mountains of Galilee: some say Hermon, some Tabor; but

Dr. Lightfoot thinks a mountain near Cesarea Philippi to be more

likely.

Was transfigured] Four good MSS. and Origen add here, AND

WHILE THEY WERE PRAYING he was transfigured; but this appears to

be added from Lu 9:29.

Verse 10. And they kept that saying] This verse is wanting in

two MSS. and one of the Itala.

What the rising from the dead should mean.] οτανεκνεκρων

αναστη, When he should arise from the dead, is the reading of D,

six others, Syriac, all the Persic, Vulgate, all the Itala, and

Jerome. Griesbach approves of it.

There is nothing that answers to this verse either in Matthew

or Luke.

Verse 12. And how it is written] Rather, as also it is

written. Instead of καιπως, AND HOW it is written, I read

καθως, AS ALSO it is written of the Son of man, &c. This reading

is supported by AKM, seventeen others, the later Syriac in the

margin, Slavonic and Armenian. Some think the propriety of

adopting this reading is self-evident.

Verse 15. Were greatly amazed] Probably, because he came so

unexpectedly; but the cause of this amazement is not self-evident.

Verse 17. A dumb spirit] That is, a demon who afflicted those

in whom it dwelt with an incapacity of speaking. The spirit

itself could not be either deaf or dumb. These are accidents that

belong only to organized animate bodies.

See this case explained, Mt 17:14, &c.

Verse 18. Pineth away] By these continual torments; so he was

not only deaf and dumb, but sorely tortured besides.

Verse 20. When he saw him the spirit tare him; and he fell on

the ground, &c.] When this demon saw Jesus, he had great rage,

knowing that his time was short; and hence the extraordinary

convulsions mentioned above.

Verse 22. If THOU canst DO any thing] I have already tried

thy disciples, and find they can do nothing in this case; but if

thou hast any power, in mercy use it in our behalf.

Verse 23. If THOU canst BELIEVE] This was an answer to the

inquiry above. I can furnish a sufficiency of power, if thou

canst but bring faith to receive it. Why are not our souls

completely healed? Why is not every demon cast out? Why are not

pride, self-will, love of the world, lust, anger, peevishness, with

all the other bad tempers and dispositions which constitute the

mind of Satan, entirely destroyed? Alas! it is because we do not

believe; Jesus is able; more, Jesus is willing; but we are not

willing to give up our idols; we give not credence to his word;

therefore hath sin a being in us, and dominion over us.

Verse 24. Lord, I believe] The word Lord is omitted by ABCDL,

both the Syriac, both the Arabic later Persic, AEthiopic, Gothic,

and three copies of the Itala. Griesbach leaves it out. The

omission, I think, is proper, because it is evident the man did

not know our Lord, and therefore could not be expected to accost

him with a title expressive of that authority which he doubted

whether he possessed, unless we grant that he used the word κυριε

after the Roman custom, for Sir.

Help thou mine unbelief.] That is, assist me against it. Give

me a power to believe.

Verse 25. I charge thee] Considerable emphasis should be laid

on the pronoun:-Thou didst resist the command of my disciples, now

I command thee to come out. If this had been only a natural

disease, for instance the epilepsy, as some have argued, could our

Lord have addressed it, with any propriety, as he has done here:

Thou deaf and dumb spirit, come out of him, and enter no more into

him? Is the doctrine of demoniacal influence false? If so, Jesus

took the most direct method to perpetuate the belief of that

falsity, by accommodating himself so completely to the deceived

vulgar. But this was impossible; therefore the doctrine of

demoniacal influence is a true doctrine, otherwise Christ would

never have given it the least countenance or support.

Verse 29. Prayer and fasting.] See Clarke on Mt 17:21.

This demon may be considered as an emblem of deeply rooted

vices, and inveterate habits, over which the conquest is not

generally obtained, but through extraordinary humiliations.

This case is related by both Matthew and Luke, but it is

greatly amplified in Mark's account, and many new circumstances

related. Another proof that Mark did not abridge Matthew.

Verse 30. They-passed through Galilee] See on Mt 17:22-27.

Verse 32. But they understood not] This whole verse is

wanting in two MSS., in the first edition of Erasmus, and in that

of Aldus. Mill approves of the omission. It does not appear

likely, from Matthew's account, that three of the disciples,

Peter, James, and John, could be ignorant of the reasons of

Christ's death and resurrection, after the transfiguration; on the

contrary, from the circumstances there related, it is very

probable that from that time they must have had at least a general

understanding of this important subject; but the other nine might

have been ignorant of this matter, who were not present at the

transfiguration; probably it is of these that the evangelist

speaks here. See the observations on the transfiguration,

Mt 17:9, &c., and Mt 18:1.

Verse 33. And being in the house] That is, Peter's house,

where he ordinarily lodged. This has been often observed before.

Verse 34. Who should be the greatest.] See on Mt 18:1-5.

Verse 38. We saw one casting out devils in thy name] It can

scarcely be supposed that a man who knew nothing of Christ, or who

was only a common exorcist, could be able to work a miracle in

Christ's name; we may therefore safely imagine that this was

either one of John the Baptist's disciples, who, at his master's

command, had believed in Jesus, or one of the seventy, whom Christ

had sent out, Lu 10:1-7, who, after he had fulfilled his

commission, had retired from accompanying the other disciples; but

as he still held fast his faith in Christ, and walked in good

conscience, the influence of his Master still continued with him,

so that he could cast out demons as well as the other disciples.

He followeth not us] This first clause is omitted by BCL,

three others, Syriac, Armenian, Persic, Coptic, and one of the

Itala. Some of the MSS. and versions leave out the first; some

the second clause: only one of them is necessary. Griesbach

leaves out the first.

We forbade him] I do not see that we have any right to

attribute any other motive to John than that which he himself

owns-because he followed not us-because he did not attach himself

constantly to thee, as we do, we thought he could not be in a

proper spirit.

Verse 39. Forbid him not] If you meet him again, let him go

on quietly in the work in which God owns him. If he were not of

God, the demons would not be subject to him, and his work could

not prosper. A spirit of bigotry has little countenance from

these passages. There are some who are so outrageously wedded to

their own creed, and religious system, that they would rather let

sinners perish than suffer those who differ from them to become

the instruments of their salvation. Even the good that is done

they either deny or suspect, because the person does not follow

them. This also is vanity and an evil disease.

Verse 40. He that is not against us, is on our part.] Or

rather, Whosoever is not against YOU, is for YOU. Instead of

ημων, us, I would read υμων, you, on the authority of ADSHV,

upwards of forty others, Syriac, Armenian, Persic, Coptic,

AEthiopic, Gothic, Slavonic, Vulgate, Itala, Victor, and Opt.

This reading is more consistent with the context-He followed not

us-well, he is not against YOU; and he who is not against you, in

such a work, may be fairly presumed to be on your side.

There is a parallel case to this mentioned in Nu 11:26-29,

which, for the elucidation of this passage, I will transcribe.

"The Spirit rested upon Eldad and Medad, and they prophesied in

the camp. And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said,

Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua, the servant

of Moses, said, My lord Moses, forbid them! And Moses said unto

him, Enviest THOU for MY sake? Would God, that all the Lord's

people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon

them." The reader will easily observe that Joshua and John were

of the same bigoted spirit; and that Jesus and Moses acted from

the spirit of candour and benevolence. See the notes on

Nu 11:25-29.

Verse 41. A cup of water to drink] See the notes on

Mt 10:42; 18:6-8.

Verse 43. - 48. Thy hand-foot-eye-cause thee to offend;] See

the notes on Mt 5:29, 30.

Verse 43. The fire that never shall be quenched] That is, the

inextinguishable fire. This clause is wanting in L, three others,

the Syriac, and later Persic. Some eminent critics suppose it to

be a spurious reading; but the authorities which are for it, are

by no means counterbalanced by those which are against it. The

same clause in Mr 9:45,

is omitted in BCL, seven others, Syriac, later Persic, Coptic,

and one Itala. Eternal fire is the expression of Matthew.

Verse 44. See Clarke on Mr 9:43.

Verse 45. See Clarke on Mr 9:43.

Verse 46. See Clarke on Mr 9:43.

Verse 47. See Clarke on Mr 9:43.

Verse 48. See Clarke on Mr 9:43.

Verse 49. For every one shall be salted with fire] Every one

of those who shall live and die in sin: but there is great

difficulty in this verse. The Codex Bezae, and some other MSS.,

have omitted the first clause; and several MSS. keep the first,

and omit the last clause-and every sacrifice shall be salted with

salt. There appears to be an allusion to Isa 66:24. It is

generally supposed that our Lord means, that as salt preserves the

flesh with which it is connected from corruption, so this

everlasting fire, τοπυρτοασβεστον, this inconsumable fire, will

have the property, not only of assimilating all things cast into

it to its own nature, but of making them inconsumable like itself.

Scaliger supposes, that instead of παςπυριπασαπυρια, every

sacrifice (of flour) should be read, "Every sacrifice (of flour)

shall be salted, and every burnt offering shall be salted." This,

I fear, is taking the text by storm. Some take the whole in a

good sense, as referring to the influence of the Spirit of God in

the hearts of believers, which shall answer the same end to the

soul, in preserving it from the contagion that is in the world, as

salt did in the sacrifices offered to God to preserve them from

putrefaction. Old Trapp's note on the place pleases me as much as

any I have seen:-"The Spirit, as salt, must dry up those bad

humours in us which breed the never-dying worm; and, as fire, must

waste our corruptions, which else will carry us on to the

unquenchable fire." Perhaps the whole is an allusion to the

purification of vessels, and especially such metallic vessels as

were employed in the service of the sanctuary. Probably the

following may be considered as a parallel text:-Every thing that

may abide the fire, ye shalt make go through the fire, and it

shall be clean; and all that abideth not the fire, ye shall make

go through the water, Nu 31:23. Ye, disciples, are the Lord's

sacrifice; ye shall go through much tribulation, in order to enter

into my kingdom: but ye are salted, ye are influenced by the

Spirit of God, and are immortal till your work is done; and should

ye be offered up, martyred, this shall be a means of establishing

more fully the glad tidings of the kingdom: and this Spirit shall

preserve all who believe on me from the corruption of sin, and

from eternal perdition. That converts to God are represented as

his offering, see Isa 66:20, the very place which our Lord

appears to have here in view.

If this passage be taken according to the common meaning, it is

awful indeed! Here may be seen the greatness, multiplicity, and

eternity, of the pains of the damned. They suffer without being

able to die; they are burned without being consumed; they are

sacrificed without being sanctified-are salted with the fire of

hell, as eternal victims of the Divine Justice. We must of

necessity be sacrificed to God, after one way or other, in

eternity; and we have now the choice either of the unquenchable

fire of his justice, or of the everlasting flame of his love.

Quesnel.

Verse 50. If the salt have lost his saltness]

See Clarke on Mt 5:13.

Have salt in yourselves] See that ye have at all times the

preserving principle of Divine grace in your hearts, and give that

proof of it which will satisfy your own minds, and convince or

silence the world: live in brotherly kindness and peace with each

other: thus shall all men see that you are free from ambition,

(see Mr 9:34,) and that you are my disciples indeed. That it is

possible for the salt to lose its savour, and yet retain its

appearance in the most perfect manner, see proved on the note on

Mt 5:13.

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