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Jehovah’s Witnesses

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

Mark 12:1-44

12  Then he started to speak to them with illustrations: “A man planted a vineyard+ and put a fence around it and dug a vat for the winepress and erected a tower;+ then he leased it to cultivators and traveled abroad.+  In due season he sent a slave to the cultivators to collect some of the fruits of the vineyard from them.  But they took him, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed.  Again he sent another slave to them, and that one they struck on the head and dishonored.+  And he sent another, and that one they killed, and many others, some of whom they beat and some of whom they killed.  One more he had, a beloved son.+ He sent him to them last, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’  But those cultivators said among themselves, ‘This is the heir.+ Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’  So they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.+  What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill the cultivators and will give the vineyard to others.+ 10  Did you never read this scripture: ‘The stone that the builders rejected, this has become the chief cornerstone.+ 11  This has come from Jehovah, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”+ 12  At that they wanted to seize* him, but they feared the crowd, for they knew that he spoke the illustration with them in mind. So they left him and went away.+ 13  Next they sent to him some of the Pharisees and of the party followers of Herod in order to catch him in his speech.+ 14  On arriving, these said to him: “Teacher, we know you are truthful and you do not seek anyone’s favor, for you do not look at the outward appearance of people, but you teach the way of God in line with truth. Is it lawful* to pay head tax to Caesar or not? 15  Should we pay, or should we not pay?” Detecting their hypocrisy, he said to them: “Why do you put me to the test? Bring me a de·narʹi·us to look at.” 16  They brought one, and he said to them: “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to him: “Caesar’s.”+ 17  Jesus then said: “Pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar,+ but God’s things to God.”+ And they were amazed at him. 18  Now the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection,+ came and asked him:+ 19  “Teacher, Moses wrote us that if someone’s brother dies and leaves a wife behind but does not leave a child, his brother should take the wife and raise up offspring for his brother.+ 20  There were seven brothers. The first took a wife, but when he died he left no offspring. 21  And the second married her but died without leaving offspring, and the third the same way. 22  And all seven left no offspring. Last of all, the woman also died. 23  In the resurrection, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as a wife.” 24  Jesus said to them: “Is not this why you are mistaken, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?+ 25  For when they rise from the dead, neither do men marry nor are women given in marriage, but they are as angels in the heavens.+ 26  But concerning the dead being raised up, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account about the thornbush, that God said to him: ‘I am the God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob’?+ 27  He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living. You are very much mistaken.”+ 28  One of the scribes who had come up and heard them disputing, knowing that he had answered them in a fine way, asked him: “Which commandment is first* of all?”+ 29  Jesus answered: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah, 30  and you must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.’+ 31  The second is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’+ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32  The scribe said to him: “Teacher, you spoke well, in line with truth, ‘He is One, and there is no other besides him’;+ 33  and to love him with one’s whole heart, with one’s whole understanding, and with one’s whole strength and to love one’s neighbor as oneself is worth far more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”+ 34  At this Jesus, discerning that he had answered intelligently, said to him: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” But no one had the courage to question him anymore.+ 35  However, as Jesus continued teaching in the temple, he said: “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is David’s son?+ 36  By the holy spirit,+ David himself said, ‘Jehovah said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies beneath your feet.”’+ 37  David himself calls him Lord, so how can it be that he is his son?”+ And the large crowd was listening to him with pleasure. 38  And in his teaching he went on to say: “Beware of the scribes who want to walk around in robes and want greetings in the marketplaces+ 39  and front seats in the synagogues and the most prominent places at evening meals.+ 40  They devour the houses* of the widows, and for show* they make long prayers. These will receive a more severe* judgment.” 41  And he sat down with the treasury chests+ in view and began observing how the crowd was dropping money into the treasury chests, and many rich people were dropping in many coins.+ 42  Now a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins of very little value.+ 43  So he called his disciples to him and said to them: “Truly I say to you that this poor widow put in more than all the others who put money into the treasury chests.+ 44  For they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her want,* put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”+


Or “arrest.”
Or “right.”
Or “most important.”
Or “property.”
Or “for a pretext.”
Or “a heavier.”
Or “poverty.”

illustrations: Or “parables.” The Greek word pa·ra·bo·leʹ, which literally means “a placing beside (together),” may be in the form of a parable, a proverb, or an illustration. Jesus often explains a thing by ‘placing it beside,’ or comparing it with, another similar thing. (Mr 4:30) His illustrations were short and usually fictitious narratives from which a moral or spiritual truth could be drawn.

tower: Used as a vantage point to guard vineyards against thieves and animals.Isa 5:2.

leased: A common practice in first-century Israel. In this case, the owner did much preliminary work, making his expectation of a return all the more reasonable.

this scripture: The singular form of the Greek word gra·pheʹ here refers to an individual Scripture passage, Ps 118:22, 23.

chief cornerstone: Or “the most important stone.” The Hebrew expression at Ps 118:22 and the Greek expression used here literally mean “the head of the corner.” Although it has been understood in different ways, it apparently refers to the stone that was installed atop the junction of two walls to hold them firmly together. Jesus quoted and applied this prophecy to himself as “the chief cornerstone.” Just as the topmost stone of a building is conspicuous, so Jesus Christ is the crowning stone of the Christian congregation of anointed ones, which is likened to a spiritual temple.

Jehovah: In this quote from Ps 118:22, 23, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text.—See App. C.

party followers of Herod: See Glossary.

head tax: An annual tax, probably amounting to a denarius, or one day’s wages, which the Romans levied on all those who had been registered by census.Lu 2:1-3.

Caesar: Or “the Emperor.” The Roman emperor during Jesus’ earthly ministry was Tiberius, but the term was not restricted to the ruling emperor. “Caesar” could refer to the Roman civil authority, or the State, and its duly appointed representatives, who are called “the superior authorities” by Paul, and “the king” and his “governors” by Peter.Ro 13:1-7; 1Pe 2:13-17; Tit 3:1; see Glossary.

denarius: This Roman silver coin with an inscription of Caesar was the “head tax” coin that was exacted by the Romans from the Jews. (Mr 12:14) In Jesus’ day, agricultural laborers commonly received a denarius for a 12-hour workday, and the Christian Greek Scriptures often use the denarius to show equivalent value. (Mt 20:2; Mr 6:37; 14:5; Re 6:6) A variety of copper and silver coins were used in Israel, including silver coins minted in Tyre that were used for the temple tax. Yet, for paying taxes to Rome, people evidently used the silver denarius bearing the image of Caesar.—See Glossary and App. B14.

image and inscription: On the front side of a common denarius of this time, there was an image of the laurel-crowned head of Roman Emperor Tiberius, who reigned from 14 to 37 C.E., and the inscription in Latin, “Tiberius Caesar Augustus, son of the deified Augustus.”—See also App. B14.

Caesar’s things to Caesar: Jesus’ reply here, and in the parallel accounts at Mt 22:21 and Lu 20:25, is his only recorded reference to the Roman emperor. “Caesar’s things” include payment for services rendered by the secular government as well as the honor and relative subjection that is to be shown to such authorities.Ro 13:1-7.

God’s things to God: This includes a person’s wholehearted worship, whole-souled love, and complete, loyal obedience.Mt 4:10; 22:37, 38; Ac 5:29; Ro 14:8.

Sadducees: This is the only mention of the Sadducees in the Gospel of Mark. (See Glossary.) The name (Greek, Sad·dou·kaiʹos) is likely connected with Zadok (often spelled Sad·doukʹ in the Septuagint), who was made high priest in the days of Solomon and whose descendants evidently served as priests for centuries.1Ki 2:35.

resurrection: The Greek word a·naʹsta·sis literally means “raising up; standing up.” It is used about 40 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures with reference to the resurrection of the dead. (Mt 22:23, 31; Ac 4:2; 24:15; 1Co 15:12, 13) In the Septuagint at Isa 26:19, the verb form of a·naʹsta·sis is used to render the Hebrew verb “to live” in the expression “your dead will live.”—See Glossary.

the second married her: Among the ancient Hebrews, if a man died sonless, it was expected that his brother would marry the widow in order to produce offspring to continue the dead man’s family line. (Ge 38:8) The arrangement, later incorporated into the Mosaic Law, was known as brother-in-law, or levirate, marriage. (De 25:5, 6) Brother-in-law marriage was practiced in Jesus’ day, as shown by the Sadducees’ reference to it here. The Law did permit relatives to refuse to perform brother-in-law marriage, but if a man would not “build up his brother’s household,” he brought disgrace on himself.De 25:7-10; Ru 4:7, 8.

the Scriptures: An expression often used to refer to the inspired Hebrew writings as a whole.

in the book of Moses: The Sadducees accepted only Moses’ writings as inspired. They objected to Jesus’ teaching about the resurrection, evidently thinking that there was no basis for such a teaching in the Pentateuch. Jesus could have quoted many scriptures, such as Isa 26:19, Dan 12:13, and Hos 13:14, to show that the dead would rise. But because Jesus knew which writings were accepted by the Sadducees, he proved his point by using words that Jehovah spoke to Moses.Ex 3:2, 6.

that God said to him: Jesus here refers to a conversation between Moses and Jehovah that took place about 1514 B.C.E. (Ex 3:2, 6) At that time, Abraham had been dead for 329 years, Isaac for 224, and Jacob for 197. Yet, Jehovah did not say ‘I was their God.’ He said: ‘I am their God.’—See study note on Mr 12:29.

but of the living: According to the parallel account at Lu 20:38, Jesus includes the comment: “For they are all living to him [or, “from his standpoint”].” The Bible shows that living humans who are alienated from God are dead from his standpoint. (Eph 2:1; 1Ti 5:6) Likewise, approved servants of God who die are still living from Jehovah’s standpoint, since his purpose to resurrect them is so sure of fulfillment.Ro 4:16, 17.

Jehovah . . . Jehovah: In this quote from De 6:4, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs twice in the original Hebrew text.—See App. C.

Jehovah: In this quote from De 6:5, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text.—See App. C.

heart: When used in a figurative sense, this term generally refers to the total inner person. When mentioned together with “soul” and “mind,” however, it evidently takes on a more specific meaning and refers mainly to a person’s emotions, desires, and feelings. The four terms used here (heart, soul, mind, and strength) are not mutually exclusive; they are used in an overlapping sense, emphasizing in the strongest possible way the need for complete and total love for God.—See study notes on mind and strength in this verse.

soul: Or “whole being.”—See Glossary.

mind: That is, intellectual faculties. A person must use his mental faculties to come to know God and grow in love for him. (Joh 17:3, ftn.; Ro 12:1) In this quote from De 6:5, the original Hebrew text uses three terms, ‘heart, soul, and strength.’ However, according to Mark’s account, written in Greek, four different concepts are mentioned, heart, soul, mind, and strength. There may be several reasons why different terms are used. The word “mind” may have been added to complete the meaning of overlapping concepts in the Hebrew language. Although ancient Hebrew did not have a specific word for “mind,” this concept was often included in the Hebrew word for “heart,” which refers figuratively to the whole inner person, including a person’s thinking, feelings, attitudes, and motivations. (De 29:4; Ps 26:2; 64:6; see study note on heart in this verse.) For this reason, where the Hebrew text uses the word “heart,” the Greek Septuagint often uses the Greek equivalent for “mind.” (Ge 8:21; 17:17; Pr 2:10; Isa 14:13) Mark’s use of mind may also indicate that there is some overlapping of ideas between the Hebrew term for “strength” and the Greek term for “mind.” (Compare the wording of Mt 22:37, which uses “mind” rather than “strength.”) The overlapping of ideas may help to explain why the scribe’s answer to Jesus uses the word “understanding.” (Mr 12:33) It may also explain why the Gospel writers when quoting De 6:5 do not use the exact terms found in that passage.—See study note on strength in this verse and study notes on Mt 22:37; Lu 10:27.

strength: As mentioned in the study note on mind, in this quote from De 6:5, the original Hebrew text uses three terms, ‘heart, soul, and strength.’ The Hebrew word rendered “strength [or, “vital force,” ftn.]” could include both physical strength and mental or intellectual ability. This may be another reason why the concept of “mind” has been included when this scripture is quoted in the Christian Greek Scriptures. This may also explain why Mt 22:37 uses “mind” but does not use “strength” in the same quotation. Whatever the case, when a scribe (according to Luke’s account [10:27] written in Greek) quotes the same Hebrew verse, he refers to the four concepts of heart, soul, strength, and mind, evidently showing that in Jesus’ time, it was commonly accepted that all four Greek concepts were included in the three Hebrew words of the original quotation.

neighbor: This Greek word for “neighbor” (lit., “the one near”) can include more than just those who live nearby. It can refer to anyone with whom a person interacts.Lu 10:29-37; Ro 13:8-10; see study note on Mt 5:43.

whole burnt offerings: The Greek word ho·lo·kauʹto·ma (from the word hoʹlos, meaning “whole,” and kaiʹo, “to burn”) occurs only three times in the Christian Greek Scriptures, here and at Heb 10:6, 8. This is a term used in the Septuagint to render a Hebrew word for offerings that were completely burned by fire and presented in their entirety to God, with no part of the animal being eaten by the worshipper. This Greek word occurs in the Septuagint at 1Sa 15:22 and Hos 6:6, which the scribe may have had in mind when speaking to Jesus. (Mr 12:32) As a figurative “burnt offering,” Jesus gave himself wholly, fully.

Jehovah: In this quote from Ps 110:1, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text.—See App. C.

marketplaces: Or “places of assembly.” The Greek word a·go·raʹ is here used to refer to an open area that served as a center for buying and selling and as a place of public assembly in cities and towns of the ancient Near East and the Greek and Roman world.

front seats: Or “best seats.” Evidently, the presiding officers of the synagogue and distinguished guests sat near the Scripture rolls at the front of the synagogue, in full view of the congregation. These seats of honor were likely reserved for such prominent individuals.

treasury chests: Ancient Jewish sources say that these contribution boxes, or receptacles, were shaped like trumpets, or horns, evidently with small openings at the top. People deposited in them various offerings. The Greek word used here also occurs at Joh 8:20, where it is rendered “the treasury.” That expression apparently refers to an area located in the Court of the Women. (See study note on Mt 27:6 and App. B11.) According to rabbinical sources, 13 treasury chests were placed around the walls of that court. It is believed that the temple also contained a major treasury where the money from the treasury chests was brought.

money: Lit., “copper,” that is, copper money, or copper coins, though the Greek word was also used as a general term for all money.—See App. B14.

two small coins: Lit., “two lepta,” the plural form of the Greek word le·ptonʹ, meaning something small and thin. A lepton was a coin that equaled 1/128 of a denarius and was evidently the smallest copper or bronze coin used in Israel.—See Glossary, “Lepton,” and App. B14.

of very little value: Lit., “which is a quadrans.” The Greek word ko·dranʹtes (from the Latin word quadrans) refers to a Roman copper or bronze coin valued at 1/64 of a denarius. Mark here uses Roman money to explain the value of coins commonly used by the Jews.—See App. B14.



In Israel, grapes were gathered during August and September, depending on the type of grapes and the climate of the region. They were usually placed in limestone vats or troughs cut into rock. Men normally crushed the grapes barefoot, singing songs as they trod the winepress.Isa 16:10; Jer 25:30; 48:33.

1. Freshly picked grapes

2. Winepress

3. Drainage channel

4. Lower collecting basin

5. Earthenware wine jars

The Marketplace
The Marketplace

Some marketplaces, like the one depicted here, were located along a road. Vendors often placed so much merchandise in the street that it blocked traffic. Local residents could buy common household goods, pottery, and expensive glassware, as well as fresh produce. Because there was no refrigeration, people needed to visit the market each day to buy supplies. Here a shopper could hear news brought in by traders or other visitors, children could play, and the unemployed could wait to be hired. In the marketplace, Jesus healed the sick and Paul preached. (Ac 17:17) By contrast, the proud scribes and Pharisees loved to be noticed and greeted in these public areas.

The Front Seats in the Synagogue
The Front Seats in the Synagogue

The reconstruction shown in this animation is partly based on the ruins of a first-century synagogue in Gamla, a city located about 10 km (6 mi) northeast of the Sea of Galilee. No synagogues from the first century have survived intact, so the exact features are uncertain. This depiction includes some of the features that were likely present in many synagogues of that time.

1. The front, or best, seats in the synagogue may have been located on or near the speaker’s platform.

2. The platform from which a teacher would read from the Law. The exact location of the platform may have varied from one synagogue to the next.

3. Seating along the wall may have been occupied by people with status in the community. Others might have sat on mats on the floor. The synagogue in Gamla seems to have had four rows of seats.

4. An ark, or chest, in which sacred scrolls were kept may have been located on the back wall.

The seating arrangements in the synagogue were a constant reminder to those in attendance that some had greater status than others, a topic often debated by Jesus’ disciples.Mt 18:1-4; 20:20, 21; Mr 9:33, 34; Lu 9:46-48.

The Treasury Chests and the Widow
The Treasury Chests and the Widow

According to rabbinic sources, the temple built by Herod contained 13 treasury chests, called shofar chests. The Hebrew word shoh·pharʹ means “ram’s horn,” indicating that at least part of the chest might have been shaped like a horn, or trumpet. Those who heard Jesus condemn people who symbolically blew a trumpet when giving gifts of mercy may have been reminded of the noise that coins made as they were dropped into these trumpet-shaped treasury chests. (Mt 6:2) The two small coins donated by the widow might not have made much noise when she deposited them, but Jesus showed that both the widow and her contribution were valuable to Jehovah.