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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

According to Mark 6:1-56

6  He departed from there and came into his home territory,+ and his disciples followed him.  When it was the Sabbath, he started teaching in the synagogue, and most who heard him were astounded and said: “Where did this man get these things?+ And why should this wisdom have been given to him, and such powerful works be performed through his hands?+  This is the carpenter,+ the son of Mary+ and the brother of James,+ Joseph, Judas, and Simon,+ is it not? And his sisters are here with us, are they not?” So they began to stumble because of him.  But Jesus said to them: “A prophet is not without honor except in his home territory and among his relatives and in his own house.”+  So he was not able to do any powerful work there except to lay his hands on a few sick people and cure them.  Indeed, he was amazed at their lack of faith. And he went around in a circuit to the villages, teaching.+  He now summoned the Twelve and started sending them out two by two,+ and he gave them authority over the unclean spirits.+  Also, he gave them orders to carry nothing for the trip except a staff—no bread, no food pouch, no money* in their belts+  but to put on sandals and not to wear two garments.* 10  Further, he said to them: “Wherever you enter into a home, stay there until you leave that place.+ 11  And wherever a place will not receive you or listen to you, on going out from there, shake off the dirt that is on your feet for a witness to them.”+ 12  Then they set out and preached that people should repent,+ 13  and they expelled many demons+ and greased many sick people with oil and cured them. 14  Now King Herod+ heard of this, for the name of Jesus became well-known, and people were saying: “John the Baptizer has been raised up from the dead, and that is why the powerful works* are operating in him.”+ 15  But others were saying: “It is E·liʹjah.” Still others were saying: “It is a prophet like one of the prophets of old.”+ 16  But when Herod heard it, he said: “The John whom I beheaded, this one has been raised up.” 17  For Herod himself had sent out and arrested John and had bound him in prison on account of He·roʹdi·as, the wife of Philip his brother, because he had married her.+ 18  For John had been saying to Herod: “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”+ 19  So He·roʹdi·as was nursing a grudge against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not. 20  For Herod was in fear of John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,+ and he was keeping him safe. After hearing him, he was at a great loss as to what to do, yet he continued to hear him gladly. 21  But a convenient day arrived when Herod spread an evening meal on his birthday+ for his high officials and the military commanders and the most prominent men of Galʹi·lee.+ 22  And the daughter of He·roʹdi·as came in and danced and pleased Herod and those dining with him.* The king said to the girl: “Ask me for whatever you want, and I will give it to you.” 23  Yes, he swore to her: “Whatever you ask me for, I will give it to you, up to half my kingdom.” 24  So she went out and said to her mother: “What should I ask for?” She said: “The head of John the Baptizer.” 25  She immediately rushed in to the king and made her request, saying: “I want you to give me right away on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”+ 26  Although this deeply grieved him, the king did not want to disregard her request, because of his oaths and his guests.* 27  So the king immediately sent a bodyguard and commanded him to bring John’s head. So he went off and beheaded him in the prison 28  and brought his head on a platter. He gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29  When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. 30  The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all the things they had done and taught.+ 31  And he said to them: “Come, you yourselves, privately into an isolated place and rest up a little.”+ For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure time even to eat a meal.+ 32  So they set off in the boat for an isolated place to be by themselves.+ 33  But people saw them going and many got to know it, and from all the cities they ran together on foot and got there ahead of them. 34  Well, on getting out, he saw a large crowd, and he was moved with pity for them,+ because they were as sheep without a shepherd.+ And he started to teach them many things.+ 35  By now the hour had grown late, and his disciples came up to him and said: “This place is isolated, and the hour is already late.+ 36  Send them away, so that they may go off into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”+ 37  He replied to them: “You give them something to eat.” At this they said to him: “Should we go off and buy 200 de·narʹi·i worth of bread and give it to the people to eat?”+ 38  He said to them: “How many loaves do you have? Go see!” After finding out, they said: “Five, besides two fish.”+ 39  And he instructed all the people to recline in groups on the green grass.+ 40  So they reclined in groups of 100 and of 50. 41  Taking now the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing.+ Then he broke the loaves up and began giving them to the disciples to place them before the people, and he divided up the two fish for all. 42  So they all ate and were satisfied, 43  and they took up 12 baskets full of fragments, aside from the fish.+ 44  Those who ate the loaves were 5,000 men. 45  Then, without delay, he made his disciples board the boat and go on ahead to the opposite shore toward Beth·saʹi·da, while he himself sent the crowd away.+ 46  But after saying good-bye to them, he went to a mountain to pray.+ 47  When evening had fallen, the boat was in the middle of the sea, but he was alone on the land.+ 48  So when he saw them struggling to row, for the wind was against them, about the fourth watch of the night he came toward them, walking on the sea; but he was inclined to pass them by. 49  On catching sight of him walking on the sea, they thought: “It is an apparition!”*+ And they cried out. 50  For they all saw him and were troubled. But immediately he spoke to them and said: “Take courage! It is I; do not be afraid.”+ 51  Then he got up into the boat with them, and the wind abated.+ At this they were utterly amazed, 52  for they had not grasped the meaning of the loaves, but their hearts continued dull in understanding. 53  When they got across to land, they came to Gen·nesʹa·ret and anchored the boat nearby.+ 54  But as soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized him. 55  They ran around all that region and started to bring on stretchers those who were ailing to where they heard he was. 56  And wherever he would enter into villages or cities or the countryside, they would place the sick ones in the marketplaces, and they would plead with him that they might touch just the fringe of his outer garment.+ And all those who touched it were made well.*


Lit., “copper.”
Or “an extra garment.”
Or “the miracles.”
Or “his dinner guests; those reclining at the table with him.”
Or “and those reclining at the table.”
Or “illusion.”
Or “were saved.”

Study Notes

his home territory: Lit., “his father’s place,” that is, his hometown, Nazareth, the area from which his immediate family came.

carpenter’s son: The Greek word teʹkton, rendered “carpenter,” is a general term that can refer to any artisan or builder. When it refers to a woodworker, it can mean one who works in the building trade, in the construction of furniture, or in the making of other types of wooden objects. Justin Martyr, of the second century C.E., wrote that Jesus worked “as a carpenter when among men, making ploughs and yokes.” Early Bible translations in ancient languages also support the idea of a woodworker. Jesus was known both as “the carpenter’s son” and as “the carpenter.” (Mr 6:3) Evidently, Jesus learned carpentry from his adoptive father, Joseph. Such an apprenticeship would typically have begun when a boy was about 12 to 15 years of age and would stretch over many years.

the carpenter: Jesus was known as both “the carpenter” and “the carpenter’s son,” giving us some insight into Jesus’ life between his visit to the temple as a 12-year-old and the start of his ministry. (See study note on Mt 13:55.) The accounts in Matthew and Mark are complementary.

the son of Mary: This is the only time that Jesus is referred to in this way. Since no reference is made to Joseph, he may already have died. This possibility is also suggested by Jesus’ request that John care for his mother, Mary, after his death.​—Joh 19:26, 27.

brother: In the Bible, the Greek word a·del·phosʹ can refer to a spiritual relationship, but here it is used to describe Jesus’ relationship with his half brothers, the younger sons of Joseph and Mary. Some who believe that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus claim that a·del·phosʹ here refers to cousins. However, the Christian Greek Scriptures use a distinct term for “cousin” (Greek, a·ne·psi·osʹ at Col 4:​10) and a different term for “the son of Paul’s sister” (Ac 23:16). Also, Lu 21:16 uses the plural forms of the Greek words a·del·phosʹ and syg·ge·nesʹ (rendered “brothers and relatives”). These examples show that the terms denoting familial relationships are not used loosely or indiscriminately in the Christian Greek Scriptures.

James: This half brother of Jesus is evidently the James who is mentioned at Ac 12:17 and Ga 1:19 and who wrote the Bible book by that name.​—Jas 1:1.

Judas: This half brother of Jesus is evidently the Jude (Greek, I·ouʹdas) who wrote the Bible book by that name.​—Jude 1.

was not able to do any powerful work there: Jesus was not able to perform many miracles, not because of a lack of power, but because the circumstances did not warrant it. The people of Nazareth lacked faith, and this kept Jesus from performing many powerful works there. (Mt 13:58) Divine power was not to be wasted on unreceptive skeptics.​—Compare Mt 10:14; Lu 16:29-​31.

teaching . . . preaching: Teaching differs from preaching in that the teacher does more than proclaim; he instructs, explains, uses persuasive arguments, and offers proof.​—See study notes on Mt 3:1; 28:20.

amazed at their lack of faith: Mark is the only Gospel writer to mention how strongly Jesus felt about the reception he received from the people of his “home territory.” (Mt 13:57, 58; see also “Introduction to Mark.”) The Greek verb rendered “amazed” is often used to describe the way that people felt about Jesus’ miracles and teaching (Mr 5:​20; 15:5), but on two occasions it is used to describe Jesus’ reaction. He was amazed that an army officer showed such great faith (Mt 8:​10; Lu 7:9), and here his amazement included dismay at the lack of faith of the people of Nazareth.

went around in a circuit to the villages: This marks the beginning of Jesus’ third preaching tour in Galilee. (Mt 9:​35; Lu 9:1) The expression “in a circuit” may imply that he thoroughly covered the area and, according to some, came back to the point where he started. An important feature of Jesus’ ministry was teaching.​—See study note on Mt 4:​23.

stay there until you leave that place: Jesus was instructing his disciples that when they reached a town, they should stay in the home where hospitality was extended to them and not be “transferring from house to house.” (Lu 10:​1-7) By not seeking a place where the householder could provide them with more comfort, entertainment, or material things, they would show that these things were of secondary importance when compared to their commission to preach.

shake off the dirt that is on your feet: This gesture signified that the disciples disclaimed responsibility for the consequences that would come from God. A similar expression occurs at Mt 10:14; Lu 9:5. Mark and Luke add the expression for a witness to [or, “against”] them. Paul and Barnabas applied this instruction in Pisidian Antioch (Ac 13:51), and when Paul did something similar in Corinth by shaking out his garments, he added the explanatory words: “Let your blood be on your own heads. I am clean.” (Ac 18:6) Such gestures may already have been familiar to the disciples; pious Jews who had traveled through Gentile country would shake what they perceived to be unclean dust off their sandals before reentering Jewish territory. However, Jesus evidently had a different meaning in mind when giving these instructions to his disciples.

greased many sick people with oil: This act was symbolic. While oil was understood to have healing properties (compare Lu 10:34), sick people were cured, not by means of the oil itself, but by means of the miraculous operation of God’s holy spirit.​—Lu 9:​1, 6.

Herod: That is, Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great.​—See Glossary.

was district ruler: Lit., “was tetrarch,” that is, a minor district ruler or territorial prince ruling only with the approval of the Roman authorities.—See study notes on Mt 14:1; Mr 6:14.

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.

King Herod: That is, Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great. (See Glossary, “Herod.”) Matthew and Luke use Antipas’ official Roman title of “tetrarch,” or “district ruler.” (See study notes on Mt 14:1; Lu 3:1.) His tetrarchy consisted of Galilee and Perea. However, he was popularly referred to as “the king,” the title used once by Matthew (Mt 14:9) and the only title Mark uses with reference to Herod.​—Mr 6:​22, 25, 26, 27.

people were saying: Lit., “they were saying.” Some manuscripts read: “he was saying.”

the Baptizer: See study note on Mr 1:4.

Herodias, the wife of Philip his brother: Herod Antipas became infatuated with Herodias, the wife of his half brother Herod Philip. Herodias divorced Philip, Antipas divorced his wife, and Herodias and Antipas were married. John the Baptist was arrested for criticizing this immoral union, one that was contrary to Jewish law.

knowing him to be a righteous and holy man: Herod listened to John and protected him, recognizing that he was righteous and holy. Though Herod was in fear of John, his fear of losing the respect of his guests and his lack of faith resulted in his being maneuvered into murdering John. The Jewish historian Josephus called John the Baptist “a good man.”

arrested John . . . and imprisoned him: The Bible does not mention where this took place. Josephus says that John was imprisoned and killed at Machaerus fortress, which was located on the eastern side of the Dead Sea. (Jewish Antiquities, Book 18, chap. 5, par. 2 [Loeb 18.119]) It is possible that John spent some time in that prison. (Mt 4:12) However, it is likely that at the time of his death, John was held in Tiberias, a city located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. The reasons for this conclusion are as follows: (1) John seems to have been imprisoned near where Jesus was carrying out his ministry in Galilee. John heard of Jesus’ works, and from jail he sent his disciples to speak with Jesus. (Mt 11:1-3) (2) Mark states that “the most prominent men of Galilee” were in attendance at Herod’s birthday party, indicating that it was held at Herod’s residence in Tiberias. John was evidently in captivity close to where the party took place.​—Mr 6:21-29; Mt 14:6-11.

birthday . . . celebrated: This event likely occurred at Herod Antipas’ residence in Tiberias. (See study notes on Mt 14:3; Mr 6:21.) The Bible mentions just two birthday celebrations​—the one referred to here, at which John was beheaded; the other, that of a Pharaoh, at which the Egyptian monarch’s chief baker was executed. (Ge 40:18-22) These two accounts are similar in that both occasions were marked with great feasting and the granting of favors and both are remembered for executions.

his birthday: This event likely occurred at Herod Antipas’ residence in Tiberias, a city located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. One reason for this conclusion is that Mark here states that the most prominent men of Galilee were in attendance. (See study notes on Mt 14:​3, 6.) The Bible mentions just two birthday celebrations​—the one referred to here, at which John was beheaded; the other, that of a Pharaoh, at which the Egyptian monarch’s chief baker was executed. (Ge 40:18-​22) These two accounts are similar in that both occasions were marked with great feasting and the granting of favors, and both are remembered for executions.

military commanders: The Greek term khi·liʹar·khos (chiliarch) literally means “ruler of a thousand,” that is, soldiers. It refers to a Roman military tribune. There were six tribunes in each Roman legion. The legion, however, was not divided into six different commands; rather, each tribune commanded the whole legion for one sixth of the time. Such a military commander had great authority, including the power to nominate and assign centurions. The Greek word could also refer to high-ranking military officers in general. In the presence of such men of rank, Herod felt compelled to keep his oath and therefore ordered the beheading of John the Baptizer.

daughter of Herodias: A daughter of Herod Philip and the only child of her mother, Herodias. Though her name, Salome, is not given in the Scriptures, it is preserved in the writings of Josephus. In time, Herod Antipas married Salome’s mother, having adulterously taken her from his half brother Philip.

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 Baptizer: See study note on Mr 1:4.

his oaths: The use of the plural “oaths” (in contrast with the singular at Mt 14:7) may indicate that Herod emphasized or confirmed his promise with repeated oaths.

his oaths: The use of the plural “oaths” may indicate that Herod emphasized or confirmed what he had sworn to Herodias’ daughter (Mr 6:​23) with repeated oaths.​—See study note on Mt 14:9.

a bodyguard: The Greek term used here is spe·kou·laʹtor, a loanword from Latin (speculator), which could refer to a bodyguard, a courier, and sometimes to an executioner. Greek equivalents of some 30 Latin words of a military, judicial, monetary, and domestic nature are found in the Christian Greek Scriptures, mostly in Mark and Matthew. Mark uses them more than any other Bible writer, lending credence to the belief that he wrote his Gospel in Rome and mainly for non-Jews, particularly the Romans.​—See study note on Joh 19:20.

tomb: Or “memorial tomb.”​—See Glossary, “Memorial tomb.”

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 “felt compassion.”​—See study note on Mt 9:​36.

You give them something to eat: This is the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all four Gospels.​—Mt 14:15-​21; Mr 6:​35-​44; Lu 9:​10-​17; Joh 6:​1-​13.

denarii: See Glossary, “Denarius” and App. B14.

fish: In Bible times, fish were commonly prepared by broiling or by salting and drying and were often eaten along with bread. The fish Jesus used were likely salted and dried.

broke the loaves up: Bread was often made in flat loaves that were baked hard. Therefore, breaking the loaves to eat them was customary.​—Mt 14:19; 15:36; 26:26; Mr 8:6; Lu 9:​16.

baskets: Reporting on the two occasions when Jesus miraculously fed the crowds (see study notes on Mr 6:​43; 8:​8, 20 and parallel accounts at Mt 14:20; 15:37; 16:​9, 10), the accounts consistently distinguish between the types of baskets used for collecting leftovers. When he fed the 5,000 men, the Greek term koʹphi·nos (“basket”) is used; when he fed the 4,000 men, the Greek word sphy·risʹ (“large basket”) is used. This indicates that the writers were present or had received the facts from reliable eyewitnesses.

large baskets: Or “provision baskets.”​—See study notes on Mr 8:​8, 19.

baskets: These may have been small wicker baskets with a cord handle that a traveler could use for carrying them. It is thought that they had a volume of approximately 7.5 L (2 gal).​—See study notes on Mr 8:​19, 20.

5,000 men: While this is the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all four Gospels (Mt 14:15-​21; Mr 6:​35-​44; Lu 9:​10-​17; Joh 6:​1-​13), only Matthew mentions the women and the young children. It is possible that the total number of those miraculously fed was well over 15,000.

fourth watch: That is, from about 3:00 a.m. until sunrise at about 6:00 a.m. This division is according to the Greek and Roman system of four night watches. The Hebrews formerly divided the night into three watches of about four hours each (Ex 14:24; Jg 7:19), but by this time, they had adopted the Roman system.

inclined to: Or “about to.” Evidently meaning that from the disciples’ perspective, it looked as if Jesus was going to pass them by.

they had not grasped the meaning of the loaves: Just a few hours earlier, the disciples had seen Jesus multiply the loaves miraculously. That event clearly indicated how much power Jesus had been given by means of holy spirit. However, failing to grasp the implications of that miracle, the disciples were utterly amazed when Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm. Initially, they even thought that his walking on water was just “an apparition,” that is, something unreal, an illusion.​—Mr 6:​49.

Gennesaret: A small plain (measuring about 5 by 2.5 km (3 by 1.5 mi) bordering the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee. At Lu 5:1, the Sea of Galilee is called “the lake of Gennesaret.”


Staff and Food Pouch
Staff and Food Pouch

Rods or staffs were common among the ancient Hebrews and were used in a variety of ways: for support (Ex 12:11; Zec 8:4; Heb 11:21), for defense or protection (2Sa 23:21), for threshing (Isa 28:27), and for reaping olives (De 24:20; Isa 24:13), to name just a few. A food pouch was a bag, usually made of leather, carried over the shoulder by travelers, shepherds, farmers, and others. It was used to hold food, clothing, and other items. When sending out his apostles on a preaching tour, Jesus gave them instructions regarding, among other things, staffs and food pouches. The apostles were to go as they were and not be distracted by procuring anything extra; Jehovah would provide for them.—See study notes on Lu 9:3 and 10:4 for a discussion of how the details of Jesus’ instructions were to be understood.


In the Bible, a number of different words are used to describe various types of baskets. For example, the Greek word identifying the 12 vessels used to gather leftovers after Jesus miraculously fed about 5,000 men indicates that they may have been relatively small wicker handbaskets. However, a different Greek word is used to describe the seven baskets that contained the leftovers after Jesus fed about 4,000 men. (Mr 8:​8, 9) This word denotes a large basket or hamper, and the same Greek word is used to describe the kind of basket in which Paul was lowered to the ground through an opening in the wall of Damascus.​—Ac 9:​25.

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.