Friday, October 22, 2010

Mark 1:21-28, The Man with an Unclean Spirit (The Study of Mark)

Μάρκον 1·21 Καὶ εἰσπορεύονται εἰς Καφαρναούμ· καὶ εὐθὺς τοῖς σάββασιν εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὴν συναγωγὴν ἐδίδασκεν.  22 καὶ ἐξεπλήσσοντο ἐπὶ τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ· ἦν γὰρ διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων καὶ οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς. 23 Καὶ εὐθὺς ἦν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ αὐτῶν ἄνθρωπος ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ καὶ ἀνέκραξεν  24 λέγων· τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί, Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ; ἦλθες ἀπολέσαι ἡμᾶς; οἶδά σε τίς εἶ, ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ.  25 καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων· φιμώθητι καὶ ἔξελθε ἐξ αὐτοῦ.  26 καὶ σπαράξαν αὐτὸν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἀκάθαρτον καὶ φωνῆσαν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ἐξῆλθεν ἐξ αὐτοῦ.  27 καὶ ἐθαμβήθησαν ἅπαντες ὥστε συζητεῖν πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς λέγοντας· τί ἐστιν τοῦτο; διδαχὴ καινὴ κατ᾿ ἐξουσίαν· καὶ τοῖς πνεύμασι τοῖς ἀκαθάρτοις ἐπιτάσσει, καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ.  28 καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἡ ἀκοὴ αὐτοῦ εὐθὺς πανταχοῦ εἰς ὅλην τὴν περίχωρον τῆς Γαλιλαίας. 
And they went into Capernaum.  And immediately, after going into the synagogue on the Sabbath, he taught them.  And they were overwhelmed at his teaching; for he was teaching them as one having authority and not as the scribes.  And immediately, there was a man with an unclean spirit in their synagogue and he cried out saying, “What to us and to you, Jesus the Nazarene?  Did you come to destroy us?  I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”  And Jesus rebuked him saying, “Be silent and come out of him.”  And the unclean spirit shook him violently and cried out in a great voice and came out of him.  And they were amazed, thus all discussed it among themselves saying, “What is this?  A new teaching according to authority!  He even commands the unclean spirits, and they obey.”  And the news about him went out immediately everywhere in the region of the Galilee. Mark 1:21-28
The next four stories happen within a 24-hour period.  One could call it “a day in Capernaum”.  Capernaum was a pretty large city for the 1st century.  It had a detachment of Roman troops, a customs post, and an assigned leader.  The population was around 10,000.  It was a major trade route on the day.
Although Jesus has disciples around him, he alone does all of the teaching and healing.  Later on, the disciples will also teach and heal.  By this time, the text suggests that Jesus must have been known in the area.  In the 1st century, only the leader of the Synagogue could allow people to teach in the Synagogue.
ἐξεπλήσσοντο (overwhelmed)
This verb means to be “overwhelmed” or “struck out of their minds”  It’s interesting that Mark doesn’t mention what Jesus was teaching.  Mark carries on with his suspense by not sharing with the reader what the teaching was about.  We will find out in due time.
οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς (not as the scribes)
The scribes were the well-educated religious leaders of the day.  So, in order for Jesus to “out do” the scribes, he must have really been “something else”!
ἄνθρωπος ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ (a man with an unclean spirit)
The greek literally says “a man in an unclean spirit”.  This really means that the man was under the special influence of the spirit.  The same is true when we receive the Holy Spirit.
τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί (What to us and to you)
Here’s my favorite idiom.  In ancient times, this was a Jewish idiom that people used when someone was doing something to them that they believe wasn’t deserved.  You would certainly here it in the courts.  It really means “what have I done to you that you would do this to me?”  You will see it translated “What do you have to do with me?”, “Leave me alone.”, and in other ways.  The take away is that the demon did not what Jesus there.
It’s pretty interesting that the demon speaks in the plural; “what to us”.  There are a couple to explanations.  1. There are more that one unclean spirit in the man.  This is not likely as the demon immediately switches from the plural to the singular before he finishes his discourse.  2. This demon may be asking this on behalf of all demons on earth.
Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ (Jesus the Nazarene)
What’s in a name?  In that time, exorcists were believed to gain power by possession of the demon’s name.  Maybe the demon is trying to turn that around on Jesus.  Notice that he indicates where Jesus is from in an “earthly” sense, as well as “divinity aspects” (Holy one of God).  The big take away here is that Jesus is known among the demons.  It’s interesting that the most evil beings know Jesus, but the most religious people do not.
ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ (the Holy One of God)
Mark doesn’t use “son of God” yet.  Mark is linking Jesus to the “Holy Spirit” back in verses 1:8 (but he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit) and 1:10 (And immediately, while coming up from the water, he saw the skies split and the spirit, as a dove, came down on him).  By doing this, he set Jesus up as being opposite of the unclean spirit.  
ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ (he rebuked him)
In this case, he warned him not to speak, thus silencing him.  We will see this word again.
φιμώθητι (Be silent)
In greek, this means “Be muzzled” as in muzzling a horse or cow.  A very colorful way of saying “Shut up”.
σπαράξαν αὐτὸν (he shook him violently)
Literally “to tear” or “to throw him into convulsions”
ἐθαμβήθησαν (They were amazed)
The on-lookers are still astonished.  At first it was Jesus’ teaching, and now by this demon incident.  Interestingly enough, we still don’t know what Jesus was teaching that day in the Synagogue.  Whatever it was, it left an impression on the people in attendance.
καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἡ ἀκοὴ αὐτοῦ εὐθὺς (And the news about him went out immediately)
The reason that it went out so quickly was because Capernaum was a major trade route.  It was no mistake that Jesus choose Capernaum as his base of operation.
*Some material was taken from The Gospel of Mark: New International Commentary on the Greek Testament (New International Greek Testament Commentary) by R. T. France

Ruins of the Synagogue in Capernaum

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