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Word Pictures in the New Testament - Mark
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Chapter 5

5:1 The Gerasenes [tōn Gerasēnōn]. Like Lu 8:26 while Mt 8:27 has “the Gadarenes.” The ruins of the village Khersa (Gerasa) probably point to this site which is in the district of Gadara some six miles southeastward, not to the city of Gerasa some thirty miles away.

5:2 Out of the boat [ek tou ploiou]. Straightway [euthus] Mark says, using the genitive absolute [exelthontos autou] and then repeating [autōi] associative instrumental after [apēntēsen]. The demoniac greeted Jesus at once. Mark and Lu 9:27 mention only one man while Matthew notes two demoniacs, perhaps one more violent than the other. Each of the Gospels has a different phrase. Mark has “a man with an unclean spirit” [en pneumati akathartōi], Mt 8:27 “two possessed with demons” [duo daimonizomenoi], Lu 8:27 “one having demons” [tis echōn daimonia]. Mark has many touches about this miracle not retained in Matthew and Luke. See on Mt 8:28.

5:3 No man could any more bind him, no, not with a chain [oude halusei oudeis edunato auton dēsai]. Instrumental case [halusei], a handcuff [a] privative and [luō], to loosen). But this demoniac snapped a handcuff as if a string.

5:4 Often bound [pollakis dedesthai]. Perfect passive infinitive, state of completion. With fetters [pedais], from [peza], foot, instep) and chains, bound hand and foot, but all to no purpose. The English plural of foot is feet (Anglo-Saxon fot, fet) and fetter is feeter. Rent asunder [diespāsthai]. Drawn [spaō] in two [dia-] same root as [duo], two). Perfect passive infinitive. Broken in pieces [suntetriphthai].) Perfect passive infinitive again, from [suntribō], to rub together. Rubbed together, crushed together. Perhaps the neighbours who told the story could point to broken fragments of chains and fetters. The fetters may have been cords, or even wooden stocks and not chains. No man had strength to tame him [oudeis ischuen auton damasai]. Imperfect tense. He roamed at will like a lion in the jungle.

5:5 He was crying out, and cutting himself with stones [ēn krazōn kai katakoptōn heauton lithois]. Further vivid details by Mark. Night and day his loud scream or screech could be heard like other demoniacs (cf. 1:26; 3:11; 9:26). The verb for cutting himself occurs here only in the N.T., though an old verb. It means to cut down (perfective use of [kata-]. We say cut up, gash, hack to pieces. Perhaps he was scarred all over with such gashes during his moments of wild frenzy night and day in the tombs and on the mountains. Periphrastic imperfect active with [ēn] and the participles.

5:6 Ran and worshipped [edramen kai prosekunēsen]. “At first perhaps with hostile intentions. The onrush of the naked yelling maniac must have tried the newly recovered confidence of the Twelve. We can imagine their surprise when, on approaching, he threw himself on his knees” (Swete).

5:7 I adjure thee by God [horkizō se ton theon]. The demoniac puts Jesus on oath (two accusatives) after the startled outcry just like the one in 1:24, which see. He calls Jesus here “son of the Most High God” [huie tou theou tou hupsistou] as in Lu 8:27 (cf. Ge 14:18f.). Torment me not [mē me basanisēis]. Prohibition with [] and the ingressive aorist subjunctive. The word means to test metals and then to test one by torture (cf. our “third degree”). Same word in all three Gospels.

5:7 For he said [elegen gar]. For he had been saying (progressive imperfect). Jesus had already repeatedly ordered the demon to come out of the man whereat the demon made his outcry to Jesus and protested. Mt 8:29 had “before the time” [pro kairou] and 8:31 shows that the demons did not want to go back to the abyss [tēn abusson] right now. That was their real home, but they did not wish to return to the place of torment just now.

5:9 My name is Legion [Legiōn onoma moi]. So Lu 8:30, but not Matthew. Latin word (legio). A full Roman legion had 6,826 men. See on Mt 26:53. This may not have been a full legion, for Mr 5:13 notes that the number of hogs was “about two thousand.” Of course, a stickler for words might say that each hog had several demons.

5:13 And he gave them leave [kai epetrepsen autois]. These words present the crucial difficulty for interpreters as to why Jesus allowed the demons to enter the hogs and destroy them instead of sending them back to the abyss. Certainly it was better for hogs to perish than men, but this loss of property raises a difficulty of its own akin to the problem of tornadoes and earthquakes. The question of one man containing so many demons is difficult also, but not much more so than how one demon can dwell in a man and make his home there. One is reminded of the man out of whom a demon was cast, but the demon came back with seven other demons and took possession. Gould thinks that this man with a legion of demons merely makes a historical exaggeration. “I feel as if I were possessed by a thousand devils.” That is too easy an explanation. See on Mt 8:32 for “rushed down the steep.” They were choked [epnigonto]. Imperfect tense picturing graphically the disappearance of pig after pig in the sea. Lu 8:33 has [apegnigē], choked off, constative second aorist passive indicative, treated as a whole, Mt 8:32 merely has “perished” [apethanon]; died).

5:14 And in the country [kai eis tous agrous]. Mark adds this to “the city.” In the fields and in the city as the excited men ran they told the tale of the destruction of the hogs. They came to see [ēlthon idein]. All the city came out (Matthew), they went out to see (Luke).

5:15 They come to Jesus [erchontai pros ton Iēsoun]. Vivid present. To Jesus as the cause of it all, “to meet Jesus” [eis hupantēsin Iēsou], Mt 8:34). And behold [theōrousin]. Present tense again. And they were afraid [kai ephobēthēsan]. They became afraid. Mark drops back to the ingressive aorist tense (passive voice). They had all been afraid of the man, but there he was “sitting clothed and in his right mind,” [kathēmenon himatismenon kai sōphronounta]. Note the participles). “At the feet of Jesus,” Luke adds (Lu 8:35). For a long time he had worn no clothes (Lu 8:17). Here was the healing of the wild man and the destruction of the hogs all by this same Jesus.

5:17 To depart from their borders [apelthein apo tōn horiōn]. Once before the people of Nazareth had driven Jesus out of the city (Lu 4:16-31). Soon they will do it again on his return there (Mr 6:1-6; Mt 13:54-58). Here in Decapolis pagan influence was strong and the owners of the hogs cared more for the loss of their property than for the healing of the wild demoniac. In the clash between business and spiritual welfare business came first with them as often today. All three Gospels tell of the request for Jesus to leave. They feared the power of Jesus and wanted no further interference with their business affairs.

5:17 As he was entering [embainontos autou]. The man began to beseech him [parekalei] before it was too late.

5:19 Go to thy house unto thy friends [Hupage eis ton oikon sou pros tous sous]. “To thy own folks” rather than “thy friends.” Certainly no people needed the message about Christ more than these people who were begging Jesus to leave. Jesus had greatly blessed this man and so gave him the hardest task of all, to go home and witness there for Christ. In Galilee Jesus had several times forbidden the healed to tell what he had done for them because of the undue excitement and misunderstanding. But here it was different. There was no danger of too much enthusiasm for Christ in this environment.

5:20 He went his way [apēlthen]. He went off and did as Jesus told him. He heralded [kērussein] or published the story till all over Decapolis men marvelled [ethaumazon] at what Jesus did, kept on marvelling (imperfect tense). The man had a greater opportunity for Christ right in his home land than anywhere else. They all knew this once wild demoniac who now was a new man in Christ Jesus. Thousands of like cases of conversion under Christ’s power have happened in rescue missions in our cities.

5:23 My little daughter [to thugatrion mou]. Diminutive of [thugatēr] (Mt 9:18). “This little endearing touch in the use of the diminutive is peculiar to Mark” (Vincent). “Is at the point of death” [eschatōs echei]. Has it in the last stages. Mt 9:17 has: “has just died” [arti eteleusen], Luke “she lay a dying” [apethnēsken], imperfect, she was dying). It was a tragic moment for Jairus. I pray thee, not in the Greek. This ellipsis before [hina] not uncommon, a sort of imperative use of [hina] and the subjunctive in the Koinē (Robertson, Grammar, p. 943).

5:24 He went with him [apēlthen]. Aorist tense. Went off with him promptly, but a great multitude followed him [ēkolouthei], was following, kept following (imperfect tense). They thronged him [sunethlibon auton]. Imperfect tense again. Only example of (here and in verse 31) this compound verb in the N.T., common in old Greek. Were pressing Jesus so that he could hardly move because of the jam, or even to breathe [sunepnigon], Lu 8:42).

5:26 Had suffered many things of many physicians [polla pathousa hupo pollōn iatrōn]. A pathetic picture of a woman with a chronic case who had tried doctor after doctor. Had spent all that she had [dapanēsasa ta par’ autēs panta]. Having spent the all from herself, all her resources. For the idiom with [para] see Lu 10:7; Php 4:18. The tragedy of it was that she “was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse” [mēden ōphelētheisa alla māllon eis to cheiron elthousa]. Her money was gone, her disease was gaining on her, her one chance came now with Jesus. Matthew says nothing about her experience with the doctors and Lu 8:43 merely says that she “had spent all her living upon physicians and could not be healed of any,” a plain chronic case. Luke the physician neatly takes care of the physicians. But they were not to blame. She had a disease that they did not know how to cure. Vincent quotes a prescription for an issue of blood as given in the Talmud which gives one a most grateful feeling that he is not under the care of doctors of that nature. The only parallel today is Chinese medicine of the old sort before modern medical schools came.

5:27 If I touch but his garments [Ean hapsōmai k’an tōn himatiōn autou]. She was timid and shy from her disease and did not wish to attract attention. So she crept up in the crowd and touched the hem or border of his garment [kraspedon] according to Mt 9:20 and Lu 8:44.

5:29 She felt in her body [egnō tōi sōmati]. She knew, the verb means. She said to herself, I am healed [iāmai]. [Iātai] retains the perfect passive in the indirect discourse. It was a vivid moment of joy for her. The plague [mastigos] or scourge was a whip used in flagellations as on Paul to find out his guilt (Ac 22:24, cf. Heb 11:26). It is an old word that was used for afflictions regarded as a scourge from God. See already on Mr 3:10.

5:30 Perceiving in himself [epignous en heautōi]. She thought, perhaps, that the touch of Christ’s garment would cure her without his knowing it, a foolish fancy, no doubt, but one due to her excessive timidity. Jesus felt in his own consciousness. The Greek idiom more exactly means: “Jesus perceiving in himself the power from him go out” [tēn ex autou dunamin exelthousan]. The aorist participle here is punctiliar simply and timeless and can be illustrated by Lu 10:18: “I was beholding Satan fall” [etheōroun ton Satanān pesonta], where [pesonta] does not mean fallen [peptōkota] as in Re 9:1 nor falling [piptonta] but simply the constative aorist fall (Robertson, Grammar, p. 684). So here Jesus means to say: “I felt in myself the power from me go.” Scholars argue whether in this instance Jesus healed the woman by conscious will or by unconscious response to her appeal. Some even argue that the actual healing took place after Jesus became aware of the woman’s reaching for help by touching his garment. What we do know is that Jesus was conscious of the going out of power from himself. Lu 8:46 uses [egnōn] (personal knowledge), but Mark has [epignous] (personal and additional, clear knowledge). One may remark that no real good can be done without the outgoing of power. That is true of mother, preacher, teacher, doctor. Who touched my garments? [Tis mou hēpsato tōn himatiōn;]. More exactly, Who touched me on my clothes; The Greek verb uses two genitives, of the person and the thing. It was a dramatic moment for Jesus and for the timid woman. Later it was a common practice for the crowds to touch the hem of Christ’s garments and be healed (Mr 6:56). But here Jesus chose to single out this case for examination. There was no magic in the garments of Jesus. Perhaps there was superstition in the woman’s mind, but Jesus honoured her darkened faith as in the case of Peter’s shadow and Paul’s handkerchief.

5:31 Thronging thee [sunthlibonta se]. See verse 24. The disciples were amazed at the sensitiveness of Jesus to the touch of the crowd. They little understood the drain on Jesus from all this healing that pulled at his heart-strings and exhausted his nervous energy even though the Son of God. He had the utmost human sympathy.

5:32 And he looked round about [kai perieblepeto]. Imperfect middle indicative. He kept looking around to find out. The answer of Jesus to the protest of the disciples was this scrutinizing gaze (see already 3:5, 34). Jesus knew the difference between touch and touch (Bruce).

5:33 Fearing and trembling, knowing [phobētheisa kai tremousa, eiduia]. These participles vividly portray this woman who had tried to hide in the crowd. She had heard Christ’s question and felt his gaze. She had to come and confess, for something “has happened” [gegonen], second perfect active indicative, still true) to her. Fell down before him [prosepesen autōi]. That was the only proper attitude now. All the truth [pāsan tēn alētheian]. Secrecy was no longer possible. She told “the pitiful tale of chronic misery” (Bruce).

5:34 Go in peace [Hupage eis eirēnēn]. She found sympathy, healing, and pardon for her sins, apparently. Peace here may have more the idea of the Hebrew shalōm, health of body and soul. So Jesus adds: “Be whole of thy plague” [isthi hugiēs apo tēs mastigos sou]. Continue whole and well.

5:35 While he yet spake [Eti autou lalountos]. Genitive absolute. Another vivid touch in Mark and Lu 8:49. The phrase is in Ge 29:9. Nowhere does Mark preserve better the lifelike traits of an eyewitness like Peter than in these incidents in chapter 5. The arrival of the messengers from Jairus was opportune for the woman just healed of the issue of blood [en husei haimatos] for it diverted attention from her. Now the ruler’s daughter has died [apethane]. Why troublest thou the master any further? [Ti eti skulleis ton didaskalon;]. It was all over, so they felt. Jesus had raised from the dead the son of the widow of Nain (Lu 7:11-17), but people in general did not expect him to raise the dead. The word [skullō], from [skulon] (skin, pelt, spoils), means to skin, to flay, in Aeschylus. Then it comes to mean to vex, annoy, distress as in Mt 9:36, which see. The middle is common in the papyri for bother, worry, as in Lu 7:6. There was no further use in troubling the Teacher about the girl.

5:36 Not heeding [parakousas]. This is the sense in Mt 18:17 and uniformly so in the LXX. But here the other sense of hearing aside, overhearing what was not spoken directly to him, probably exists also. “Jesus might overhear what was said and disregard its import” (Bruce). Certainly he ignored the conclusion of the messengers. The present participle [laloumenon] suits best the idea of overhearing. Both Mark and Lu 8:50 have “Fear not, only believe” [mē phobou, monon pisteue]. This to the ruler of the synagogue [tōi archisunagōgōi] who had remained and to whom the messenger had spoken.

5:37 Save Peter, and James, and John [ei mē Petron kai lakōbon kai Iōanēn]. Probably the house was too small for the other disciples to come in with the family. The first instance of this inner circle of three seen again on the Mount of Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane. The one article in the Greek treats the group as a unit.

5:37 Wailing greatly [alalazontas polla]. An onomatopoetic word from Pindar down. The soldiers on entering battle cried [Alāla]. Used of clanging cymbals (1Co 13:1). Like [ololuzō] in Jas 5:1. It is used here of the monotonous wail of the hired mourners.

5:39 Make a tumult [thorubeisthe]. Middle voice. Jesus had dismissed one crowd (verse 37), but finds the house occupied by the hired mourners making bedlam [thorubos] as if that showed grief with their ostentatious noise. Mt 9:23 spoke of flute-players [aulētas] and the hubbub of the excited throng [thoruboumenon]. Cf. Mr 14:2; Ac 20:1,21,34). Mark, Matthew, and Luke all quote Jesus as saying that “the child is not dead, but sleepeth.” Jesus undoubtedly meant that she was not dead to stay dead, though some hold that the child was not really dead. It is a beautiful word (she is sleeping, [katheudei] that Jesus uses of death.

5:40 And they laughed him to scorn [kai kategelōn]. “They jeered at him” (Weymouth). Note imperfect tense. They kept it up. And note also [kat-] (perfective use). Exactly the same words in Mt 9:24 and Lu 8:53. The loud laughter was ill suited to the solemn occasion. But Jesus on his part [autos de] took charge of the situation. Taketh the father of the child and her mother and them that were with him [paralambanei ton patera tou paidiou kai tēn mētera kai tous met’ autou]. Having put out [ekbalōn] the rest by a stern assertion of authority as if he were master of the house, Jesus takes along with him these five and enters the chamber of death “where the child was” [hopou ēn to paidion]. He had to use pressure to make the hired mourners leave. The presence of some people will ruin the atmosphere for spiritual work.

5:41 Talitha cumi. These precious Aramaic words, spoken by Jesus to the child, Peter heard and remembered so that Mark gives them to us. Mark interprets the simple words into Greek for those who did not know Aramaic [to korasion, egeire], that is, Damsel, arise. Mark uses the diminutive [korasiōn], a little girl, from [korē], girl. Braid Scots has it: “Lassie, wauken.” Lu 8:5-9 has it [Hē pais, egeire], Maiden, arise. All three Gospels mention the fact that Jesus took her by the hand, a touch of life [kratēsas tēs cheiros], giving confidence and help.

5:42 Rose up, and walked [anestē kai periepatei]. Aorist tense (single act) followed by the imperfect (the walking went on). For she was twelve years old [ēn gar etōn dōdeka]. The age mentioned by Mark alone and here as explanation that she was old enough to walk. Amazed [exestēsan]. We have had this word before in Mt 12:23 and Mr 2:12, which see. Here the word is repeated in the substantive in the associative instrumental case [ekstasei megalēi], with a great ecstasy, especially on the part of the parents (Lu 8:56), and no wonder.

5:43 That no one should know this [hina mēdeis gnoi touto]. Second aorist active subjunctive, [gnoi]. But would they keep still about it? There was the girl besides. Both Mark and Luke note that Jesus ordered that food be given to the child given her to eat, [dothēnai autēi phagein], a natural care of the Great Physician. Two infinitives here (first aorist passive and second aorist active). “She could walk and eat; not only alive, but well” (Bruce).

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