Mark 1:29-39


Robertson, Wm. F. Arndt, and Kurt Aland are of the opinion that Mark 1:16-39 gives us the historical sequence of events. Lenski held a different order of events:

Lenski: The succession was as follows: The Sermon on the Mount on the morning of the Sabbath; the leper healed on the way from the Mount (Matthew 8:1 etc.); the centurion's servant healed on entering Capernaum (Matthew 8:5 etc.); Jesus preaches in the synagogue with the same 'authority' as on the Mount, and again not as the scribes, he delivers the demoniac in the synagogue. Then toward the close of the Sabbath Jesus goes to Peter's house and heals his mother-in-law.

These Notes prefer the order recommended by Robertson, Arndt and Aland.

Mark 1:29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew.

From the synagogue they (Jesus, Peter, Andrew, James and John) went immediately to Peter's house. The most natural way to take this verse is that Simon and Andrew owned this house and that Peter's mother-in-law lived with them, This assumes that Peter's father was already dead. It could be that she, a widow, owned her own house in Capernaum and was staying temporarily with daughter and son-in-law.

At any rate, the words seem to indicate that Jesus, James and John had been invited to eat the evening meal at the house of Peter and Andrew, The Jews customarily ate a festive meal when the Sabbath was over at 6 p.m.

Mark 1:30 Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her.

Peter was plainly a married man. 1 Corinthians 9:5 clearly says that Peter took his wife along on his preaching tours. "In bed" means that she was bedfast. "With a fever," a predicate participle, gives the reason. Luke 4:39 says that the fever was intense. Note another "told him." No sooner had Jesus entered the house when they informed Jesus about her fever. Luke adds that "they besought Him for her." Note how plain the humanity of Jesus is in all of this.

Mark 1:31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

Note both the humanity and divinity of Jesus. He grasped her by the hand. That is so human. But raising her up was more than human. A person with a high fever is very weak. Jesus did not lift dead weight by grasping her hand. His divinity, working though His humanity, caused her to rise. Luke adds that "He rebuked the fever,"  the same verb, in Greek, used to rebuke the winds and waves. His Word brought the fever to an end.

"Left" at Mark 1:31, is plainly resultative. It is the same verb used for "forgive."  When God forgives, the sins are no more. When Jesus spoke, the fever was no more. The Koine text, followed by KJV and NKJV adds the word "immediately."  If it is not textual, it is implicit in the text. She did not become well gradually but immediately.

"She began serving them,"  that is, the guests. The text would seem to imply that Peter's wife had prepared the evening meal and that now her mother assisted her.

Ylvisaker: The mother-in-law of Peter is the first woman who performed the service of evangelical deaconess.

Mark 1:32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed.

Here we have a genitive absolute of time denoting about 6 p.m. "After sunset" is a subordinate clause of time, making the time more specific, at sunset. Obviously the meal was over.

The miracle of driving out the demon (verses 23-28) had caused a great stir in Capernaum. Perhaps by this time the people had also heard about Jesus' healing Peter's mother-in-law. "They began bringing." It is clear that they waited until the Sabbath was ended at 6 p.m. Note that the sick and the devil-possessed are clearly distinguished. Devil possession is not merely illness. And devil possession may or may not be caused or accompanied by illness.

Mark 1:33 The whole town gathered at the door,

Note the perfect paraphrastic verb. "Whole" means the city in its entirety gathered at the door of the house of Peter. Mark alone reports this. Such a large gathering at the door of a house is unique in the Gospels. Mark 2:2 is similar to it but not so extensive.

Fahling: Parents, children, husbands, wives, brought, led, and carried their beloved sick. A peaceful scene of faith and hope. But also a scene of suffering humanity.

So much suffering has sin caused in the world!

Stoeckhardt: The preaching of the Gospel was His chief prophetic work, and His miracles served to confirm His doctrine. That the kingdom of God had come, showed itself also in this that now the power of God, and the power to do miracles was effective on earth. The great prophets of the Old Covenant performed miracles. . . But Jesus did miracles in overabundance. . . His very nature produced them.

Perhaps verse 33 indicates not only the sick and demon possessed and those who brought them but also additional people who came to witness what was happening.

Mark 1:34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

From Matthew 8:16 and Luke 4:40 it is clear that the word "many" here in Mark 1:34 does not mean that Jesus healed only some, but that He healed all who were brought. Mark is stressing that the number was very large. It must have been a magnificent sight.

"Various" shows that the kinds of sicknesses were many. Despite all our modern medical know-how, there are so many kinds of illness, even many species of one genus. So long as there is sin in the world (and that will be til its very end) there will always be many diseases.

Note that Mark distinguishes between ordinary illnesses and demon-possession. Even the verbs are different. He healed diseases but expelled many demons. Matthew says that He expelled them "with His Word."  Luke adds that as the demons came out they cried "Thou art the Son of God." When Mark says that Jesus was not allowing the demons to speak he means that He would not allow them to call Him the Son of God. Look at the well-attested Greek text variant for this verse:  "Because they knew that He was the Christ." Why would Jesus not allow the devils to call Him by His titles? Not only because the confession came from an unholy mouth but also because they might have applied the title wrongly. Perhaps they would have diverted the people from Jesus' true mission by saying that He was a Messiah to their liking, something like the incident at John 6:15. Satan used the title "Son of God" only to divert Jesus from His true mission. Cf. Matthew 4:3.6. He tempted Jesus to be a self-serving and popular Savior.

The devils did not "realize" but "knew," without anyone telling them, that Jesus was the Son of God. Cf. James 2:19. They knew much but did not assent to it nor put their confidence in it.

And it is sad to note that none of the people who were healed or witnessed the healings acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God. Luke 4:23 tells us of the many works Jesus performed in Capernaum. Matthew 11:23.24 and Luke 10:15 tell us how cold and impenitent these miracles left these people. Their judgment will be worse than that of Sodom. "He came unto His own but His own received Him not." John 1:11. What a grief that must have been to Jesus Who was not only divine but also human!

Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Jesus must have worked til late at night, healing the sick and casting out devils.

Lenski: The remarkable thing is that there were so many, all in this one city. This affliction (devil possession) did not appear only in rare and isolated cases; it was prevalent and well-known as distinct from any form of disease.

After this strenuous Sabbath Day Jesus very likely got at least a little sleep at the house of Simon Peter. The words mean "very early while it was still night."  The verbs are graphic: "After he got up He went out (of the house) and went away." "Solitary" always means "devoid of people." He wanted to be alone. "And there He began and continued to pray." Obviously Jesus prayed about the situation in which He found Himself, just as He prayed alone in the Garden of Gethsemane about the situation in which He found Himself. Evidently He foreknew (Luke 4:42) that the people wanted Him to stay there. A man who could cure all their diseases and drive out all their demons was very attractive.

Fahling: It was, however, not His purpose to establish a clinic at Capernaum. This seems to have been what the people at Capernaum expected.

After the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:15) when they wanted to make Him King by force He went away, all alone, to pray. Why? For strength to overcome this temptation. Mankind always wants a Messiah of its own making, for better earthly conditions such as no sickness, better wages, more food, etc.

Mark 1:36 Simon and his companions went to look for him,

"Went to look for" means "to pursue strenuously." "Companions" evidently means Andrew, James and John and maybe even Peter's wife and mother-in-law.

Hendriksen: Excitedly the disciples inform Jesus about this. The result, however, was surprising.

Mark 1:37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!" 

They said:  "All are seeking you." It would seem that Hendriksen is right. The disciples so impressed and so excited about the  "seeking" of all. But cf. John 6:24. The seeking was very likely only for selfish reasons. The disciples needed to learn a lesson. The text does not say that the people were seeking to have Him do more miracles but merely that He should not leave them (Luke 4:42).

Mark 1:38 Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else -- to the nearby villages -- so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." 

The antecedent of "us" is obviously the disciples. Jesus was primarily a Herald, a Preacher. Luke 4:43 explains: "I must preach the good tidings of the Kingdom of God to the other cities also." "I came" plainly means "I came out of heaven into this world" as Luke 4:42 clearly indicates.

Mark 1:39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

Nestle 25th edition Greek text makes this the final verse of the preceding paragraph. The 26th edition makes it the first sentence of the following paragraph.

"So" denotes attendant circumstance, what He constantly did. "Preaching" is the static use, meaning the same as always. Jesus always preached where people congregated. Read Matthew 4:23-25 for a fuller account of this tour throughout Galilee. Jesus preached, healed, drove out devils. People came from Syria, Galilee, Decapolis, from beyond Jordan and even from Jerusalem.

We conclude with a few sentences from Stoeckhardt.

With sin Christ has also carried all the consequences of sin. Vicariously He had taken on Himself all the miseries of this life, and through His entire living in the flesh, through His suffering and death He atoned and made satisfaction for what we have broken and deserved. With the healing of the sick and the casting out of the devil, He not only showed Himself as a Prophet, mighty in word and deed, but also as a faithful High Priest, who came to redeem His people from all their sins. Through Christ we are freed and delivered from all fetters of sin, and of the devil, and of hell. And although we still suffer in the flesh, if it is the Lord's will, yet no suffering of this earth can harm and consume us, and no death can kill us; for we conquer all because of Him Who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Well said.


Adapted from Exegetical Notes, Series B, Festival Season Sundays Gospel Texts, by Harold H. Buls, Concordia Theological Seminary Press: Ft Wayne IN, 1981, pp. 40-42. Used with permission.

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