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Jehovah’s Witnesses

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

Mark 1:1-45

1  The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God:  Just as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “(Look! I am sending my messenger ahead of you,* who will prepare your way.)+  A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of Jehovah! Make his roads straight.’”+  John the Baptizer was in the wilderness, preaching baptism in symbol of repentance for forgiveness of sins.+  And all the territory of Ju·deʹa and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, openly confessing their sins.+  Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist,+ and he ate locusts+ and wild honey.+  And he was preaching: “Someone stronger than I am is coming after me, the lace of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.+  I baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with holy spirit.”+  In the course of those days, Jesus came from Nazʹa·reth of Galʹi·lee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.+ 10  And immediately on coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens being parted and, like a dove, the spirit coming down upon him.+ 11  And a voice came out of the heavens: “You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you.”+ 12  And immediately the spirit impelled him to go into the wilderness. 13  So he continued in the wilderness for 40 days, being tempted by Satan.+ He was with the wild beasts, but the angels were ministering to him.+ 14  Now after John was arrested,+ Jesus went into Galʹi·lee,+ preaching the good news of God+ 15  and saying: “The appointed time has been fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent,+ and have faith in the good news.” 16  While walking alongside the Sea of Galʹi·lee, he saw Simon and Simon’s brother Andrew+ casting their nets into the sea,+ for they were fishermen.+ 17  So Jesus said to them: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”*+ 18  And at once they abandoned their nets and followed him.+ 19  After going a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebʹe·dee and his brother John, while they were in their boat mending their nets,+ 20  and without delay he called them. So they left their father Zebʹe·dee in the boat with the hired men and went off after him. 21  And they went into Ca·perʹna·um. As soon as the Sabbath began, he went into the synagogue and started to teach.+ 22  And they were astounded at his way of teaching, for he was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.+ 23  Just then there was a man in their synagogue who was under the power of an unclean spirit, and he shouted: 24  “What have we to do with you, Jesus the Naz·a·reneʹ?+ Did you come to destroy us? I know exactly who you are, the Holy One of God!”+ 25  But Jesus rebuked it, saying: “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26  And the unclean spirit, after throwing the man into a convulsion and yelling at the top of its voice, came out of him.+ 27  Well, the people were all so astonished that they began to discuss it among themselves, saying: “What is this? A new teaching! He authoritatively orders even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28  So the report about him spread quickly in all directions throughout the entire region of Galʹi·lee. 29  At that they left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon and Andrew with James and John.+ 30  Now Simon’s mother-in-law+ was lying down sick with a fever, and they at once told him about her. 31  Going to her, he took her by the hand and raised her up. The fever left her, and she began ministering to them. 32  After evening had fallen, when the sun had set, the people began bringing to him all who were ill and demon possessed;+ 33  and the whole city was gathered right at the door. 34  So he cured many who were ill with various sicknesses,+ and he expelled many demons,+ but he would not let the demons speak, for they knew him to be Christ.+ 35  Early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up and went outside and left for an isolated place, and there he began praying.+ 36  However, Simon and those with him hunted him down 37  and found him, and they said to him: “Everyone is looking for you.” 38  But he said to them: “Let us go somewhere else, into the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also, for this is why I have come.”+ 39  And he went, preaching in their synagogues throughout the whole of Galʹi·lee and expelling the demons.+ 40  There also came to him a leper, pleading with him even on bended knee, saying to him: “If you just want to, you can make me clean.”+ 41  At that he was moved with pity,+ and he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him: “I want to! Be made clean.”+ 42  Immediately the leprosy vanished from him, and he became clean. 43  Then he gave him strict orders and at once sent him away, 44  saying to him: “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing the things Moses directed,+ for a witness to them.”+ 45  But after going away, the man started to proclaim it a great deal and to spread the account widely, so that Jesus was no longer able to enter openly into a city, but he stayed outside in isolated places. Yet they kept coming to him from all sides.+


Lit., “before your face.”
Or “people.”

Mark: From the Latin name Marcus. Mark was the Roman surname of the “John” mentioned at Ac 12:12. His mother was Mary, an early disciple who lived in Jerusalem. John Mark was “the cousin of Barnabas” (Col 4:10), with whom he traveled. Mark also traveled with Paul and other early Christian missionaries. (Ac 12:25; 13:5, 13; 2Ti 4:11) Although the Gospel nowhere specifies who wrote it, writers of the second and third centuries C.E. ascribe this Gospel to Mark.

According to Mark: None of the Gospel writers identify themselves as such in their accounts, and titles are evidently not part of the original text. In some manuscripts of Mark’s Gospel, the title appears as Eu·ag·geʹli·on Ka·taʹ Marʹkon (“Good News [or, “Gospel”] According to Mark”), whereas in others a shorter title, Ka·taʹ Marʹkon (“According to Mark”), is used. It is not clear exactly when such titles were added or began to be used. Some suggest the second century C.E., since examples of the longer title have been found in Gospel manuscripts that have been dated to the end of the second century or early third century. According to some scholars, the opening words of Mark’s book (“The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God”) may have been the reason why the term “gospel” (lit., “good news”) came to be used to describe these accounts. The use of such titles along with the name of the writer may have come about for practical reasons, providing a clear means of identification of the books.

the good news: First occurrence of the Greek word eu·ag·geʹli·on, rendered “gospel” in some English Bibles. A related Greek expression eu·ag·ge·li·stesʹ, rendered “evangelizer,” means “a proclaimer of good news.”Ac 21:8; Eph 4:11, ftn.; 2Ti 4:5, ftn.

this good news: The Greek word eu·ag·geʹli·on is derived from the words eu, meaning “good; well” and ag·gelʹlos, “one who brings news; one who proclaims (announces).” (See Glossary.) It is rendered “gospel” in some English Bibles. The related expression rendered “evangelizer” (Greek, eu·ag·ge·li·stesʹ) means “a proclaimer of good news.”Ac 21:8; Eph 4:11, ftn.; 2Ti 4:5, ftn.

the good news: See study notes on Mt 4:23; 24:14 and Glossary.

the good news about Jesus Christ: This expression in Greek could also be translated “the good news of Jesus Christ,” that is, the good news that Jesus proclaimed.

the Son of God: Although some manuscripts omit “the Son of God,” the longer reading has strong manuscript support.

Isaiah the prophet: The quote that follows is a combination of prophecies from Mal 3:1 and Isa 40:3. Both prophecies are applied to John the Baptizer. The parentheses serve to distinguish the Malachi quotation from the Isaiah quotation, which starts in verse 3 and highlights the content of John’s message. The Malachi quote focuses on John’s role as the messenger. The entire quote is attributed to Isaiah, perhaps because the quotation from Isaiah contains the part to be stressed.

Look!: The Greek word i·douʹ, here rendered “look!,” is often used to focus attention on what follows, encouraging the reader to visualize the scene or to take note of a detail in a narrative. It is also used to add emphasis or to introduce something new or surprising. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term occurs most frequently in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in the book of Revelation. A corresponding expression is often used in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Jehovah: In this quote from Isa 40:3, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text. (See App. C.) Matthew applies this prophecy to what John the Baptist did in preparing the way for Jesus. In John’s Gospel, John the Baptist applies this prophecy to himself.Joh 1:23.

Jehovah: In this quote from Isa 40:3, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text. (See App. C.) Mark applies this prophecy to what “John the Baptizer” (Mr 1:4) did in preparing the way for Jesus.—See study note on Mt 3:3.

Make his roads straight: May allude to the custom of ancient rulers to have men prepare the way before the royal chariot by removing large stones and even building causeways and leveling hills.

the Baptist: Or “the Immerser; the Dipper”; referred to as “the Baptizer” at Mr 1:4; 6:14, 24. Evidently used as a sort of surname, indicating that baptizing by immersing in water was distinctive of John. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote of “John, surnamed the Baptist.”

wilderness of Judea: The generally uninhabited, barren eastern slope of the Judean mountains stretching down—a drop of some 1,200 m (3,900 ft)—toward the western bank of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. John begins his ministry in a section of this region N of the Dead Sea.

Repent: The Greek word used here could literally be rendered “to change one’s mind,” signifying a change in thinking, attitude, or purpose. In this context, “repent” refers to a person’s relationship with God.—See study notes on Mt 3:8, 11 and Glossary, “Repentance.”

fruit that befits repentance: Refers to evidence and actions that would indicate a change of mind or attitude on the part of those listening to John.Lu 3:8; Ac 26:20; see study notes on Mt 3:2, 11 and Glossary, “Repentance.”

baptize you: Or “immerse you.” The Greek word ba·ptiʹzo means “to dip; to plunge.” Other Biblical references indicate that baptism involves complete immersion. On one occasion, John was baptizing at a location in the Jordan Valley near Salim “because there was a great quantity of water there.” (Joh 3:23) When Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, they both “went down into the water.” (Ac 8:38) The same Greek word is used in the Septuagint at 2Ki 5:14 when describing that Naaman “plunged into the Jordan seven times.”

repentance: Lit., “change of mind.”—See study notes on Mt 3:2, 8 and Glossary.

baptize you: Or “immerse you.” The Greek word ba·ptiʹzo means “to dip; to plunge.” Other Biblical references indicate that baptism involves complete immersion. On one occasion, John was baptizing at a location in the Jordan Valley near Salim “because there was a great quantity of water there.” (Joh 3:23) When Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, they both “went down into the water.” (Ac 8:38) The same Greek word is used in the Septuagint at 2Ki 5:14 when describing that Naaman “plunged into the Jordan seven times.”

the Baptizer: Or “the Immerser; the Dipper.” The Greek participle rendered “Baptizer” here and at Mr 6:14, 24 could also be rendered “one who baptizes.” The form is slightly different from the Greek noun Ba·pti·stesʹ, which is rendered “Baptist” at Mr 6:25; 8:28 and in Matthew and Luke. The two designations, “Baptizer” and “Baptist,” are used interchangeably at Mr 6:24, 25.—See study note on Mt 3:1.

the wilderness: That is, the wilderness of Judea.—See study note on Mt 3:1.

baptism in symbol of repentance: Lit., “baptism of repentance.” Baptism did not wash away sins. Rather, those baptized by John publicly repented over sins against the Law, showing their determination to change their behavior. This repentant attitude helped lead them to the Christ. (Ga 3:24) John was thereby preparing a people to see “the salvation” that God had provided.Lu 3:3-6; see study notes on Mt 3:2, 8, 11 and Glossary, “Baptism; Baptize”; “Repentance.”

baptize you: Or “immerse you.” The Greek word ba·ptiʹzo means “to dip; to plunge.” Other Biblical references indicate that baptism involves complete immersion. On one occasion, John was baptizing at a location in the Jordan Valley near Salim “because there was a great quantity of water there.” (Joh 3:23) When Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, they both “went down into the water.” (Ac 8:38) The same Greek word is used in the Septuagint at 2Ki 5:14 when describing that Naaman “plunged into the Jordan seven times.”

all the territory . . . all the inhabitants: The use of “all” here is hyperbole; it emphasizes the intense interest that John’s preaching aroused. It does not mean that every single inhabitant of Judea or Jerusalem went out to see him.

baptized: Or “immersed; dipped.”—See study note on Mt 3:11 and Glossary, “Baptism; Baptize.”

openly confessing their sins: Refers to people who admitted publicly or acknowledged openly their sins against the Law covenant.

clothing of camel’s hair: John’s garment of woven camel’s hair and his leather belt are reminiscent of the dress of the prophet Elijah.2Ki 1:8; Joh 1:21.

locusts: Rich in protein, these insects are designated by the Law as clean for food.Le 11:21, 22.

wild honey: That is, honey from natural beehives found in the wilderness, not from beehives kept by people. Eating locusts and wild honey was not unusual for people living in the wilderness.

stronger: Signifies having “more authority.”

sandals: To remove and carry another’s sandals or to untie another’s sandal laces (Mr 1:7; Lu 3:16; Joh 1:27) was considered a menial task that was often done by a slave.

baptize you: Or “immerse you.” The Greek word ba·ptiʹzo means “to dip; to plunge.” Other Biblical references indicate that baptism involves complete immersion. On one occasion, John was baptizing at a location in the Jordan Valley near Salim “because there was a great quantity of water there.” (Joh 3:23) When Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, they both “went down into the water.” (Ac 8:38) The same Greek word is used in the Septuagint at 2Ki 5:14 when describing that Naaman “plunged into the Jordan seven times.”

baptized you: Or “immersed you.”—See study note on Mt 3:11 and Glossary, “Baptism; Baptize.”

baptize you with holy spirit: Or “immerse you in holy active force.” Here John the Baptizer announces that Jesus would institute a new arrangement, baptism with holy spirit. Those baptized with God’s spirit become His spiritual sons, with prospects of living in heaven and ruling as kings over the earth.Re 5:9, 10.

those days: According to Lu 3:1-3, John the Baptizer began his ministry “in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,” that is, during the spring of 29 C.E. (See study note on Lu 3:1.) About six months later, in the fall of 29 C.E., Jesus came to John to be baptized.—See App. A7.

immediately: The first of 11 occurrences of the Greek word eu·thysʹ in Mark chapter 1. (Mr 1:10, 12, 18, 20, 21, 23, 28, 29, 30, 42, 43) The Greek term is rendered “immediately; at once; without delay; as soon as,” according to context. Mark’s frequent use of the term—over 40 times in his Gospel—adds a feeling of vividness and urgency to his account.

he: Evidently referring to Jesus. As shown at Joh 1:32, 33, John the Baptist also witnessed this, but Mark’s account seems to be from Jesus’ perspective.

like a dove: Doves had both a sacred use and a symbolic meaning. They were offered as sacrifices. (Mr 11:15; Joh 2:14-16) They symbolized innocence and purity. (Mt 10:16) A dove released by Noah brought an olive leaf back to the ark, indicating that the floodwaters were receding (Ge 8:11) and that a time of rest and peace was at hand (Ge 5:29). Thus, at Jesus’ baptism, Jehovah may have used the dove to call attention to the role of Jesus as the Messiah, the pure and sinless Son of God who would sacrifice his life for mankind and lay the basis for a period of rest and peace during his rule as King. The coming down of God’s spirit, or active force, upon Jesus at his baptism may have looked like the fluttering of a dove as it nears its perch.

upon: Or “into,” that is, to enter into him.

a voice: The second of three instances in the Gospel accounts where Jehovah is reported as speaking directly to humans.—See study notes on Mr 1:11; Joh 12:28.

whom I have approved: Or “with whom I am well-pleased; in whom I take great delight.” The same expression is used at Mt 12:18, which is a quotation from Isa 42:1 regarding the promised Messiah, or Christ. The outpouring of holy spirit and God’s declaration concerning his Son were a clear identification of Jesus as the promised Messiah.—See study note on Mt 12:18.

whom I have approved: Or “with whom I am well-pleased.”—See study note on Mt 3:17.

a voice came out of the heavens: The first of three instances in the Gospel accounts where Jehovah is reported as speaking directly to humans.—See study notes on Mr 9:7; Joh 12:28.

You are my Son: As a spirit creature, Jesus was God’s Son. (Joh 3:16) From the time of his birth as a human, Jesus was a “son of God” just as perfect Adam had been. (Lu 1:35; 3:38) However, it seems reasonable that God’s words here go beyond a mere statement of Jesus’ identity. By this declaration accompanied by the outpouring of holy spirit, God evidently indicated that the man Jesus was begotten as His spiritual Son, “born again” with the hope of returning to life in heaven and anointed by spirit to be God’s appointed King and High Priest.—Compare Joh 3:3-6; 6:51; Lu 1:31-33; Heb 2:17; 5:1, 4-10; 7:1-3.

I have approved you: Or “I am well-pleased with you; I take great delight in you.” The same expression is used at Mt 12:18, which is a quotation from Isa 42:1 regarding the promised Messiah, or Christ. The outpouring of holy spirit and God’s declaration concerning his Son were a clear identification of Jesus as the promised Messiah.—See study notes on Mt 3:17; 12:18.

the spirit impelled him to go: Or “the active force moved him to go.” The Greek word pneuʹma here refers to God’s spirit, which can act as a driving force, moving and impelling a person to do things in accord with God’s will.Lu 4:1; see Glossary, “Spirit.”

Satan: From the Hebrew word sa·tanʹ, meaning “resister.”

the wild beasts: In Jesus’ day, there were many more wild animals in that region of the world than there are today. The wilderness was the habitat of boars, hyenas, leopards, lions, and wolves. Mark is the only Gospel writer to mention that there were wild beasts in this area. He evidently wrote primarily for non-Jewish readers, including Romans and others who may not have been familiar with the geography of Israel.

Kingdom of the heavens: This expression occurs some 30 times and only in the Gospel of Matthew. In the Gospels of Mark and Luke, the parallel phrase “the Kingdom of God” is used, indicating that “the Kingdom of God” is based in and rules from the spiritual heavens.Mt 21:43; Mr 1:15; Lu 4:43; Da 2:44; 2Ti 4:18.

Kingdom: First occurrence of the Greek word ba·si·leiʹa, which refers to a royal government as well as to the territory and peoples under the rule of a king. Of the 162 occurrences of this Greek word in the Christian Greek Scriptures, 55 can be found in Matthew’s account and most of them refer to God’s heavenly rule. Matthew uses the term so frequently that his Gospel might be called the Kingdom Gospel.—See Glossary, “God’s Kingdom.”

the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near: This message of a new world government was the theme of Jesus’ preaching. (Mt 10:7; Mr 1:15) John the Baptist started to proclaim a similar message about six months prior to Jesus’ baptism (Mt 3:1, 2); yet Jesus could say with added meaning that the Kingdom had “drawn near,” since he was now present as the anointed King-Designate. There is no report that after Jesus’ death his disciples continued to proclaim that the Kingdom had “drawn near” or was at hand.

the Kingdom: In the Bible, the term “kingdom” is used in several different ways, including “the region or country governed by a king,” “kingly power,” “a realm,” and “being ruled by a king.” Here it is evidently used in the sense of receiving the benefits or blessings of being ruled by God’s Kingdom and enjoying life within its realm.

The appointed time has been fulfilled: In this context “the appointed time” (Greek, kai·rosʹ) refers to the time, as foretold in the Scriptures, for Jesus’ earthly ministry to begin, giving people the opportunity to have faith in the good news. The same Greek word is used of the “time” of inspection that Jesus’ ministry brought (Lu 12:56; 19:44) and the “appointed time” of his death.Mt 26:18.

the Kingdom of God: This expression occurs 14 times in the Gospel of Mark. Matthew uses this phrase only four times (Mt 12:28; 19:24; 21:31; 21:43), but he uses the parallel phrase, “the Kingdom of the heavens,” some 30 times. (Compare Mr 10:23 with Mt 19:23, 24.) Jesus made the Kingdom the theme of his preaching. (Lu 4:43) There are over 100 references to the Kingdom in the four Gospels, most of them in statements made by Jesus.—See study notes on Mt 3:2; 4:17; 25:34.

the Sea of Galilee: A freshwater inland lake in northern Israel. (The Greek word translated “sea” may also mean “lake.”) It has been called the Sea of Chinnereth (Nu 34:11), the lake of Gennesaret (Lu 5:1), and the Sea of Tiberias (Joh 6:1). It lies an average of 210 m (700 ft) below sea level. It is 21 km (13 mi) long from N to S and 12 km (8 mi) wide, and its greatest depth is about 48 m (157 ft).—See App. A7, Map 3B, “Activity at the Sea of Galilee.”

fishers of men: A play on words based on the occupation of Simon and Andrew. It indicates that they would be “catching people alive” for the Kingdom. (Lu 5:10, ftn.) The implication may also be that, like fishing, disciple-making would be strenuous, labor-intensive work that required perseverance but sometimes produced few results.

James . . . and his brother John: James is always mentioned along with his brother John, and in the majority of instances, he is mentioned first. This may indicate that he was the older of the two.Mt 4:21; 10:2; 17:1; Mr 1:29; 3:17; 5:37; 9:2; 10:35, 41; 13:3; 14:33; Lu 5:10; 6:14; 8:51; 9:28, 54; Ac 1:13.

fishermen: Fishing was a common occupation in Galilee. Peter and his brother Andrew were not lone fishermen but were engaged in a fishing business, evidently associated with James and John, the sons of Zebedee.Mr 1:16-21; Lu 5:7, 10.

with the hired men: Only Mark mentions that the fishing business of Zebedee and his sons had “hired men.” Peter, who was evidently a partner in the business and an eyewitness to most of what Mark recorded, may have been the source of this information. (Lu 5:5-11; see also “Introduction to Mark.”) That Zebedee and his sons hired men and, according to Luke’s account, had more than one boat indicates that their business was doing well.—See study note on Mt 4:18.

Capernaum: From a Hebrew name meaning “Village of Nahum” or “Village of Comforting.” (Na 1:1, ftn.) A city of major importance in Jesus’ earthly ministry, it was located at the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee and was called “his own city” at Mt 9:1.

synagogue: See Glossary.

his way of teaching: This expression refers to how Jesus taught, his teaching methods, which also included what he taught.

not as the scribes: Rather than quote revered rabbis as an authority, as was the scribes’ custom, Jesus speaks as Jehovah’s representative, as one having authority, basing his teachings on God’s Word.Joh 7:16.

an unclean spirit: Mark uses this expression interchangeably with the term “demon.” (Compare Mr 1:23, 26, 27 with 1:34, 39; also Mr 3:11, 30 with 3:15, 22.) The use of this expression highlights the moral and spiritual uncleanness of the demons as well as their unclean influence on humans.

he shouted: When the man shouted the words recorded in verse 24, Jesus rebuked the source of his words, the unclean spirit that was controlling him.Mr 1:25; Lu 4:35.

What have we to do with you, . . . ?: Or “What is there in common between us and you?” Literally translated, this rhetorical question reads: “What to us and to you?” This Semitic idiom is found in the Hebrew Scriptures (Jos 22:24; Jg 11:12; 2Sa 16:10; 19:22; 1Ki 17:18; 2Ki 3:13; 2Ch 35:21; Ho 14:8), and a corresponding Greek phrase is used in the Christian Greek Scriptures (Mt 8:29; Mr 1:24; 5:7; Lu 4:34; 8:28; Joh 2:4). The exact meaning may vary, depending on context. In this verse, it expresses hostility and repulsion, and some have suggested a rendering such as: “Do not bother us!” or “Leave us alone!” In other contexts, it is used to express a difference in viewpoint or opinion or to refuse involvement in a suggested action, without indicating disdain, arrogance, or hostility.—See study note on Joh 2:4.

we . . . I: Since only one unclean spirit is mentioned in verse 23, the spirit controlling the man evidently speaks in the plural (“we”) with reference to his fellow demons and then in the singular (“I”) with reference to himself alone.

Be silent: Lit., “Be muzzled.” Although the unclean spirit knew that Jesus was the Christ, or Messiah, and addressed him as “the Holy One of God” (vs. 24), Jesus would not allow demons to witness about him.Mr 1:34; 3:11, 12.

after it became evening: That is, after the Sabbath day ended.Mr 1:21-32; Lu 4:31-40.

When evening came: That is, the evening marking the start of Nisan 14.—See App. A7 and B12.

when the sun had set: Sunset marked the end of the Sabbath day. (Le 23:32; Mr 1:21; see study notes on Mt 8:16; 26:20.) Now with no fear of criticism, all the Jews could begin bringing their sick ones to be cured.—Compare Mr 2:1-5; Lu 4:31-40.

ill and demon possessed: Demons at times caused the people they controlled to suffer from some kind of physical disorder. (Mt 12:22; 17:15-18) However, the Scriptures differentiate between ordinary sickness and the harm caused by demon possession. Regardless of the cause of their suffering, Jesus cured them.Mt 4:24; 8:16; Mr 1:34.

the whole city: Similar to the use of “all” at Mr 1:5, the use of “whole” is evidently hyperbole; it vividly describes a large number of people.

they knew him to be Christ: Some Greek manuscripts read “they knew him,” which could be rendered “they knew who he was.” The parallel account at Lu 4:41 reads: “They knew him to be the Christ.”

Everyone: Evidently hyperbole to emphasize that a large number of people were looking for Jesus.

preaching . . . throughout the whole of Galilee: This marks the beginning of Jesus’ first preaching tour of Galilee with his four recently selected disciples—Peter, Andrew, James, and John.Mr 1:16-20; see App. A7.

a leper: A person suffering from a serious skin disease. The leprosy referred to in the Bible is not restricted to the disease known by that name today. Anyone diagnosed with leprosy became an outcast from society until he was cured.Le 13:2, ftn., 45, 46; see Glossary, “Leprosy; Leper.”

a leper: See study note on Mt 8:2 and Glossary, “Leprosy; Leper.”

on bended knee: In the ancient Near East, kneeling was a posture that expressed respect, especially when petitioning superiors. Mark is the only Gospel writer to use this specific term in connection with this event.

felt pity: The Greek verb splag·khniʹzo·mai used for this expression is related to the word for “intestines” (splagʹkhna), denoting a feeling experienced deep inside the body, an intense emotion. It is one of the strongest words in Greek for the feeling of compassion.

moved with pity: Or “moved with compassion.” (See study note on Mt 9:36.) A few modern Bible translations say “was indignant (angry).” However, the reading “moved with pity (compassion)” can be found in the majority of ancient manuscripts, including the earliest and most authoritative ones. Also, the context supports the idea that Jesus is motivated, not by anger, but by compassion.

touched him: The Mosaic Law required that lepers be quarantined to protect others from contamination. (Le 13:45, 46; Nu 5:1-4) However, Jewish religious leaders imposed additional rules. For example, no one was to come within four cubits, that is, about 1.8 m (6 ft) of a leper, but on windy days, the distance was 100 cubits, that is, about 45 m (150 ft). Such rules led to heartless treatment of lepers. Tradition speaks favorably of a rabbi who hid from lepers and of another who threw stones at them to keep them at a distance. By contrast, Jesus was so deeply moved by the leper’s plight that he did what other Jews would consider unthinkable—he touched the man. He did so even though he could have cured the leper with just a word.Mt 8:5-12.

I want to: Jesus not only acknowledged the request but expressed a strong desire to respond to it, showing that he was motivated by more than just a sense of duty.

say nothing to anyone: Jesus likely gave this order because he did not want to magnify his own name or do anything to draw attention away from Jehovah God and the Kingdom good news. His approach fulfilled the prophetic words of Isa 42:1, 2, which say that Jehovah’s servant would “not make his voice heard in the street,” that is, in some sensational way. (Mt 12:15-19) Jesus’ humble attitude provides a refreshing contrast to that of the hypocrites whom he condemns for praying “on the corners of the main streets to be seen by men.” (Mt 6:5) Jesus apparently wanted solid evidence, not sensational reports of his miracles, to convince people that he was the Christ.

show yourself to the priest: In accord with the Mosaic Law, a priest had to verify that a leper was healed. This would require that the cured leper travel to the temple and bring as an offering the things Moses directed, as outlined at Le 14:2-32.


Video Introduction to the Book of Mark
Video Introduction to the Book of Mark
The Wilderness
The Wilderness

The original-language words rendered “wilderness” in the Bible (Hebrew, midh·barʹ and Greek, eʹre·mos) generally refer to a sparsely settled, uncultivated land, often steppelands with brush and grass, even pastures. Those words may also apply to waterless regions that could be called true deserts. In the Gospels, the wilderness generally referred to is the wilderness of Judea. This wilderness is where John lived and preached and where Jesus was tempted by the Devil.Mr 1:12.

John the Baptizer’s Clothing and Appearance
John the Baptizer’s Clothing and Appearance

John wore a garment that was woven from camel’s hair and was secured at the waist by a leather belt, or girdle, that could be used to carry small items. Similar clothing was worn by the prophet Elijah. (2Ki 1:8) Camel’s haircloth was a rough fabric commonly worn by the poor. By contrast, soft garments made of silk or linen were worn by the rich. (Mt 11:7-9) Because John was a Nazirite from birth, his hair had never been cut. Both his dress and his appearance, therefore, made it immediately apparent that he lived a simple life, completely devoted to doing God’s will.


As used in the Bible, the term “locusts” can refer to any of a variety of grasshoppers with short antennas, or feelers, especially grasshoppers that migrate in great swarms. According to an analysis made in Jerusalem, desert locusts consist of 75 percent protein. When used for food today, the head, legs, wings, and abdomen are removed. The remaining portion, the thorax, is eaten raw or cooked. These insects are said to taste something like shrimp or crab and are rich in protein.

Wild Honey
Wild Honey

Pictured here are a hive built by wild honey bees (1) and a honey-filled comb (2). The honey that John ate may have been produced by a wild species of bee known as Apis mellifera syriaca, which is native to the area. This aggressive species is well-adapted to living in the hot, dry climate of the Judean wilderness but is not suited to being farmed by man. However, as early as the ninth century B.C.E., people living in Israel kept honey bees in clay cylinders. A large number of the remains of these hives were discovered in the middle of what was an urban area (now known as Tel Rehov), located in the Jordan Valley. Honey from these hives was produced by a species of bee that seems to have been imported from what is now known as Turkey.

Wild Beasts of the Wilderness
Wild Beasts of the Wilderness

Among the animals inhabiting the wilderness in which Jesus spent some 40 days and nights were the lion (1), the leopard (2), and the striped hyena (3). Lions have not been found in this area for hundreds of years, but leopards and hyenas continue to inhabit the region. In recent years, though, they have rarely been seen.

Casting a Net
Casting a Net

Fishermen on the Sea of Galilee used two types of casting nets; one was made of finely woven mesh to catch small fish and the other was made of larger mesh to catch bigger ones. Unlike a dragnet, which usually required the use of at least one boat and took a team of men to maneuver, a casting net could be handled by one person in a boat or standing on or near the shore. A casting net might have been 5 m (15 ft) or more in diameter and had stones or lead weights fastened to its perimeter. If thrown correctly, it hit the water as a flat disc. The weighted rim sank first, and fish were trapped as the net drifted to the sea floor. A fisherman might dive in and retrieve fish from the submerged net, or he might carefully draw the net to the shore. It took great skill and strenuous effort to use the net effectively.

Synagogue in Capernaum
Synagogue in Capernaum

The white limestone walls in this photograph are part of a synagogue built sometime between the late second and early fifth centuries C.E. Parts of the black basalt structure beneath the limestone are believed by some to be the remains of a first-century synagogue. If that is true, this is possibly one of the locations where Jesus taught and where he cured the demon-possessed man mentioned at Mr 1:23-27 and Lu 4:33-36.