Tag Archives: teaching

A Translation of Mark Chapter 11

RomansText1“For this reason I am telling you, believe that you have received the things that you are asking and praying, and it will happen for you. However, whenever you stand praying, forgive if you have anything against anyone, in order that your Father who is in heaven might forgive your transgressions.” (Mark 11:24-25)

I find it interesting, in fact, intensely interesting, that Jesus often links forgiving others with answered prayer. There is something about refusing to forgive someone else that hurts our ability to have our own prayers answered.

This is an important concept. Many people focus on the importance of believing what we pray when we pray, and this is certainly important. However, if we only focus on believing, without also recognizing what Jesus taught about forgiving, we are only focused on half the story. Powerful prayer starts with forgiving others, and then becomes even stronger as we believe for what we are praying.

On to our translation:

Mark 11:1-33
A Translation by Randal Cutter

11:1   When they were approaching Jerusalem by Bethphage and Bethany near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples

11:2   and instructed them, “Go into the village ahead of you and, as soon as you enter it, you will find a colt that has been tied. No one has ever sat upon it. Untie it and bring it here.”

11:3   “If someone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it.’ He will immediately send it back here.”

11:4   So they went and found the colt tied outside at a door on the street, and they untied it.

11:5   Some of those who were standing there asked them, “What are you doing untying the colt?”

11:6   But they spoke to them just as Jesus had instructed, and they gave the disciples permission.

11:7   They brought the colt to Jesus, and they threw their garments upon it, and he sat on it.

11:8   Many also spread their clothing on the road, and others cut leaf-filled branches from the fields.

11:9   Those who went ahead, and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one coming in the name of the Lord.”

11:10   “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David. Hosanna in the highest.”

11:11   Jesus entered Jerusalem, went to the temple, and examined every part of it. Then, because it was already evening, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

11:12   On the next day, after they departed from Bethany, Jesus grew hungry.

11:13   When he spotted a fig tree with leaves some distance away, he approached to see what he might find on it. When he arrived at the tree, he did not find anything except leaves, for it was not yet the season for figs.*

11:14   In response, he said to it, “May no one eat fruit from you ever again.”

11:15   When they came to Jerusalem, Jesus went to the temple and began to cast out those buying and selling in the temple. He also overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stands of those selling doves.

11:16   In addition, he did not allow anyone to carry their goods through the temple.*

11:17   He taught them and explained to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a bandits’ lair.”

11:18   When the chief priests and scribal scholars heard, they began to seek how they might destroy him, because the entire crowd was astonished by his teaching.

11:19   When evening came, he went out from the city.

11:20   In the morning, when they passed by the fig tree, they saw it was withered from the roots.

11:21   Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered away.”

11:22   Jesus responded and said to him, “Have faith in God!”

11:23   “I am telling you the truth, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Lift yourself off the ground and throw yourself in the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he is speaking will happen, it will happen for him.”

11:24   “For this reason I am telling you, believe that you have received the things that you are asking and praying, and it will happen for you.”

11:25   “However, whenever you stand praying, forgive if you have anything against anyone, in order that your Father who is in heaven might forgive your transgressions.”

11:26   “If you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”

11:27   They came again to Jerusalem, and while he was walking around in the temple, the chief priests, the scribal scholars, and the elders approached him.

11:28   They asked him, “By what authority are you doing these things?” and, “Who gave you this authority that you do these things?”

11:29   In response, Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

11:30   “The baptism of John, was it from heaven or from men? Answer me.”

11:31   They discussed it among themselves saying, “If we say that it is from heaven, he will say, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’

11:32   “But can we say that it is from men?”* They were afraid of the crowd, for the people all believed John truly was a prophet.

11:33   They responded to Jesus and said, “We do not know.” So Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”


11:13  Not the season for figs: It wasn’t the season for ripe figs, but when a tree was in leaf, there was the possibility that it would have unripened fruit, which isn’t tasty, but it will do if you are hungry.

11:16  Carry goods through the temple: Herod’s temple took up about one sixth of the total geographic area in Jerusalem. It was massive, and a major road block to getting easily from one side of Jerusalem to another. The easy route was through the temple. Of course, carrying things through the Court of the Gentiles not only disrespected the worship of the Gentiles, it violated the spirit of rest. Jesus stopped this type of traffic.

11:32  Can we say? — Although most of the major translations do not interpret the words of the scribal scholars and chief priests as a question, the Greek text includes a question mark. I have translated it appropriately for a question mark.


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A Translation of Mark Chapter 10

RomansText1“Whoever desires to be important among you will be your servant. Whoever wishes to be first among you will be a slave to everyone.” (Mark 10:43-44)

These verses remind us why human ambition is so toxic in God’s Kingdom: It only leads down.

God desires to exalt his people. The apostle Peter wrote,

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (I Peter 5:5-6 NIV)

God’s  job description is to raise us up when we have humbled ourselves. However, when we try to do his job through exalting ourselves, he opposes us. When we do our job of humbling ourselves, God does his job of raising us up. When we do his job by lifting ourselves up, he then opposes our ambition and does our job for us. Since he is so much better at doing our job than we are, we will inevitably end up as a servant or slave to everyone.

In the section of Mark I have translated below, Jesus points this truth out because his disciples were jockeying for position in his Kingdom. They wanted most important seats of honor. Jesus took the time to teach them about the inevitable result of such a quest so that they could avoid it. He is teaching us the same thing today.

On to our translation:

Mark 10:1-52
A Translation by Randal Cutter

10:1   Jesus arose and went from there to the territory of Judea and the regions beyond the Jordan. The crowds gathered around him once more, and as he was accustomed, he again began to teach them.

10:2   When the Pharisees arrived, they began to test him by asking him if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife.*

10:3   Jesus responded to them, “What did Moses command you?”

10:4   They replied, “Moses permitted the writing of a certificate of divorce so that a man could divorce his wife.”

10:5   But Jesus said to them, “He wrote this command for you because of the hardness of your heart.”

10:6   “From the beginning of creation, ‘He made them male and female.’”

10:7   “’Because of this a man will leave his father and his mother and unite with his wife,’”

10:8   “’And the two will be one flesh,’ so that they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

10:9   “Therefore what God has joined as a couple, let man not separate through divorce.”

10:10   When they were in the house, his disciples again began to question him about this.

10:11   He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.”

10:12   “In the same way, if a woman abandons* her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

10:13   At that time, they began to bring small children to Jesus so that he might hold them. But his disciples scolded them.

10:14   When Jesus saw it, he was displeased and said to the disciples, “Allow the children to come to me, do not stop them; for the Kingdom of God is made up of those who are like these children.”

10:15   “I am telling you the truth, except you receive the Kingdom of God like a small child, you will never enter into it.”

10:16   Then he hugged the children, placed his hands on them, and blessed them.

10:17   Later, while he was going out along the road, one man came running and knelt before him asking him, “Good teacher, what must I do in order that I may inherit eternal life?”

10:18   Jesus said to him, “Why are you calling me good? There is no one good except the one God.”

10:19   “You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not cheat, honor your father and mother.’”

10:20   He responded to Jesus, “Teacher, I have been careful to keep all these things from my youth.”*

10:21   Jesus looked directly at him and felt love for him, so he said to him, “You still need to do one thing. Go and sell everything you own, give it to the poor, and you will possess treasure in heaven. After that, come and follow me.”

10:22   The man was appalled by Jesus’ statement, and he went away grieving; for he had much property.*

10:23   Jesus looked around at his disciples and said, “How difficult it is for those who are wealthy to enter into the Kingdom of God.”

10:24   His teaching astonished the disciples. In response to that astonishment, Jesus again said to them, “Children, how difficult it is to enter into the Kingdom of God.”

10:25   “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”

10:26   The disciples were overwhelmed with amazement, saying to each other, “Who is able to be saved?”

10:27   Jesus looked at them, and said, “It is impossible from men’s perspective, but not from God’s perspective. For all things are possible with God.”

10:28   The Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and have followed you.”

10:29   Jesus said to him, “I am telling you the truth, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children or fields for my sake and the sake of the gospel,”

10:30   “who will not also receive a hundred times more now in this age—houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields, together with persecutions, and in the coming age, eternal life.”

10:31   “For many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

10:32   At another time, they went up on the road to Jerusalem with Jesus leading the way ahead of them. The disciples were amazed, but those who were following them were afraid. He again took the twelve to the side, and began to explain to them what was about to happen to him,

10:33   “Pay close attention! We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priest and the scribal scholars. They will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles.”

10:34   “They will mock him, spit on him, whip him, and kill him. But after three days he will come back to life.”

10:35   After this, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached him petitioning him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask you.”

10:36   He responded to them, “What do you wish that I might do for you?”

10:37   They said to him, “Grant to us that one of us might sit on your right hand, and one of us might sit on your left hand in your glory.”

10:38   But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup which I personally am drinking, or to be baptized with the baptism I myself am experiencing?”

10:39   They responded to him, “We are able.” Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I personally am drinking, and you will be baptized with the baptism that I myself will experience.”

10:40   “But the ability to sit on my right or my left is not mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

10:41   When the twelve heard, they began to be angry with James and John.

10:42   However, Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles reign over them, and their important men exercise authority over them.”

10:43   “This is not the way you are to do it. Instead, whoever desires to be important among you will be your servant.”*

10:44   “Whoever wishes to be first among you will be a slave to everyone.”

10:45   “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom price for everyone.”

10:46   At that time they arrived at Jericho. While Jesus, his disciples, and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus (the Son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting along the road.

10:47   When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was there, he began to cry out and to say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

10:48   Many in the crowd were admonishing him to be quiet. But he cried out even more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

10:49   Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” They called the blind man telling him, “Take courage. Get up. He is calling you.”

10:50   He threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

10:51   Jesus responded to him and asked, “What do you wish that I do for you?” The blind man said to him, “Rabbi, that I might see again.”

10:52   Jesus said to him, “Go! Your faith has rescued you.” Immediately he was able to see, and he began to follow Jesus on the road.


10:2  Testing Jesus: Since Jesus was in Herod’s territory, there is relevant conjecture that those who opposed Jesus may have hoped that he would refer to Herod’s adulterous union, as John had done before Herod put him in prison. Herod had divorced his wife, and Herodias had abandoned her husband. It would have been a natural application.

10:12  If a woman abandons her husband: Jesus uses the same verb in verses 11 and 12. The verb is usually translated “divorce” in a context about marriage. However, in Jewish culture a woman had no right to divorce. Her husband could divorce her, but she could not divorce her husband. The people around Jesus would have understood the word to mean “abandon” since that is all a woman could do.

10:20  From my youth: He is referring to the time he was considered responsible under the Law, about age thirteen.

10:22  He went away grieving: Jesus had taught that we must become like children to enter the Kingdom. If you gave a child a simple formula to achieve his goals, that child would rejoice that the path was clear and obvious. This man could not rejoice, because he was not like a little child. He allowed his fears for the future, and his appreciation for his wealth, to compromise his ability to enter the Kingdom.

10:25  The eye of the needle: It has become popular to teach that Jesus was speaking about a camel kneeling to get through a Needle gate. I will quote from a commentary on the topic, “As Rawlinson (p. 141) says, it [the idea of a camel kneeling to enter a needle gate] has ‘no authority more trustworthy than the imaginative conjectures of modern guides to Jerusalem.’”

10:43  Will be your servant: Jesus uses the future tense of the verb here. Many translations choose to translate the future as an imperative (“Must be your servant”) believing that Jesus was giving a command about how to become first in the Kingdom. I have translated it as a simple future rather than a command on how to achieve our ambitions to be first. Anyone who desires to be important in the Kingdom, will inevitably slip to the position of a servant. Anyone who desire to be first, will inevitably become a slave.


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A Translation of Mark Chapter 9

RomansText1Then Jesus responded and said to him, “Oh unbelieving generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I be patient with you?” (Mark 9:19)

We do not often think of what it must have been like for Jesus to walk this earth as the only human being untainted by sin. He had no greed, no inappropriate ambition, no suspicion or fear. He was the only one without these all too human traits.

Since Jesus came on a mission for us, he did not focus on his own needs, but on the needs of those he came to serve. But in the verse above, we have just a small window into the soul of Jesus as the Son of Man. Although he certainly was “God with us,” he walked this earth as one of us. He was a human being in every way, just like us. He had feelings, longings, and passions, but without what theologians call “original sin,” those feelings, longings, and passions were never used in a selfish way. We know this, but as the gospel writers reveal who Jesus is to us, they rarely highlight the burden of his separateness in the way Mark does here.

Jesus had just come from the mountaintop. He had been there with Peter, James, and John. While they were there, the glory of heaven had broken through, and Jesus’ glory was revealed to the three disciples. At the same time, Jesus was able to visit with Elijah and Moses, two men who were already perfected and, like Jesus, were not crippled by a sin nature. Since we not only still have a sin nature, but are also surrounded with people who have the same nature, we can’t imagine how refreshing it must have been to Jesus to step out from the sin environment to converse with these two men.

But that was on top of the mountain. As he descended once again into the valley, he encountered this major disappointment. The disciples that had not accompanied up the mountain, whom he had already given authority to drive out demons (see Mark 6:7), had failed miserably at helping a young man who was in desperate need. Their limited understanding and lack of faith had prevented them from carrying out their mission.

The sudden contrast from the untainted interchange at the top of the mountain, to this disappointing failure, highlighted for Jesus just how alone he was as a human being on this earth. His cry of disappointment escaped his lips, and provides a window into his soul that reveals the burden he carried just walking among people in a fallen world.

When the first Adam was created, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” When the second Adam walked the earth, we see the crushing disappointment that descends on one who was truly alone. But the same God who promised a helper for the first Adam, has also planned a “helper suitable” for the second Adam. The Church will be the Bride who is able to step into that place. The Father is preparing that Bride even now as she learns to reject greed, inappropriate ambition, suspicion, and fear. She will be a bride without spot, wrinkle, or defect (See Ephesians 5:25-33). When we finally mature, Jesus will no longer be “alone.”

On to our translation:

Mark 9:1-50
A Translation by Randal Cutter

9:1   He also said to them, “I am telling you the truth, some of you standing here will certainly not taste death before you see the Kingdom of God established in power.”*

9:2   Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John and brought them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was changed into another form in front of them.*

9:3   His garments were gleaming intensely white, in a way that no one who washes or bleaches clothes on earth could possibly do.

9:4   At the same time, Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and the two of them were speaking with Jesus.

9:5   Peter responded to it all by saying to Jesus, “Rabbi, It is good for us to be here. I will make three meeting tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

9:6   He said this because he was so frightened that he did not know how to respond.*

9:7   Just then a cloud came and overshadowed them, and a voice came from the cloud, “This is my Son, whom I love, listen to him.”

9:8   Right after that they looked around, but no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus alone.

9:9   While they were coming down from the mountain, he gave them clear instructions that they should not explain the details of what they had seen to anyone until the Son of Man rose from the dead.

9:10   They understood the instruction, but they debated among themselves what “to rise from the dead” meant.

9:11   They also questioned him asking, “Why do the scribal scholars say that Elijah must precede the Messiah?”

9:12   He responded to them, “Elijah most certainly does come first to restore all things. But why is it written about the Son of Man that he must suffer and be despised and mistreated?”

9:13   “Indeed, I am telling you that Elijah has come, and they did to him what they wished, just as it is written about him.”

9:14   When Jesus came to the disciples, he saw a large crowd around them and the scribal scholars quizzing them.

9:15   As soon as everyone in the crowd saw him, they were amazed and ran to welcome him.*

9:16   He asked the scribal scholars, “Why are you quizzing them?”

9:17   One from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you because he has a spirit that makes him mute.”

9:18   “In addition, whenever it overcomes him, it throws him to the ground in convulsions, and he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes so stiff he cannot move. I spoke to your disciples hoping they would cast it out, but they were not able.”

9:19   Then Jesus responded and said to him, “Oh unbelieving generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I be patient with you? Bring the boy to me.”

9:20   They brought him to Jesus. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw him into a convulsion, and he fell down on the ground rolling around and foaming at the mouth.

9:21   Jesus asked his father, “For how long a time has this been happening to him?” The man said, “From childhood.”

9:22   “Many times he also has thrown him into the fire or water trying to kill him. But if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.”

9:23   But Jesus said to him, “’If you can?’ All things are possible for him who believes.”

9:24   The father of the child immediately cried out and said, “I believe. Help my unbelief!”

9:25   When Jesus saw that the crowd was surging toward him, he reproved the unclean spirit and said to him, “I command you, deaf and mute spirit, go out from him and no longer enter into him.”

9:26   After the demon cried out and threw the boy into severe convulsions, he left. The boy appeared so lifeless, that many said he had died.

9:27   But Jesus grasped his hand, raised him, and he stood up.

9:28   When he went into a house, his disciples came privately and asked him, “Why were we not able to cast it out?”

9:29   He said to them, “This type cannot come out except through prayer and fasting.”*

9:30   Then he went out and began traveling through Galilee, but he did not want anyone to know

9:31   because he was teaching his disciples. He was explaining to them that the Son of Man would be delivered into the hands of men; they would kill him, but after his death he would rise again after three days.

9:32   But they did not understand his message, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

9:33   They came to Capernaum. When he had come into his house, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?”

9:34   But they remained silent, for while they were on the road they had been discussing who was most important.

9:35   He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If you want to be first, you will be the last of all and the servant of all.”*

9:36   He chose a child and set the child in their midst; then he took the child in his arms and said to them,

9:37   “Whoever receives a child such as this one in my name receives me. Whoever receives me does not receive me, but the one who sent me.”

9:38   John interrupted him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out a demon in your name, but we stopped him because he doesn’t travel with us.”

9:39   Jesus responded, “Do not stop him. It is not possible for someone who does a miracle in my name to then turn and speak evil of me.”

9:40   “For the one who is not against us is for us.”*

9:41 “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you follow Messiah, I am telling you the truth, he will never lose his reward.”

9:42   “However, whoever leads one of these little one who believes in me to fall away, it would be better for him instead if a millstone—the type that a donkey turns*—was tied around his neck and he was cast into the sea.”

9:43   “If your right hand leads you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life with only one hand than to enter into Gehenna—into the unquenchable fire—with two hands.”*

9:44  “Where their worm does not die, and the fire never goes out.”*

9:45   “If your foot leads you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life with only one foot, than to enter into Gehenna with two feet.”

9:46   “Where their worm does not die, and the fire never goes out.”

9:47   “If your eye leads you to sin, remove it. It is better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with only one eye, than to be thrown into Gehenna with two eyes.”*

9:48   “Where their worm does not die, and the fire never goes out.”

9:49   “For everyone there will be salted with fire.”

9:50   “Salt is good, but if the salt leeches away, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”*


9:1  Established in power: This verse actually goes with the previous chapter and the time when Peter rebuked Jesus for saying he was going to die. At that time Jesus pointed out that the path to true Kingdom power was through self-denial. This verse established that a Kingdom built on the death of self-will was a soon-to-be reality.

9:2  Changed into another form: Most translations use the theological term “Transfigured” here. However, the Greek word means, “to change into another form.” For variety, I chose to use the meaning of the word rather than our theological term.

9:6  He was so frightened: Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, Mark explains Peter’s statement in a way that lets us know that we most certainly would have been just as frightened by what was going on. Even in his frightened state, Peter wanted the experience to continue, and suggested setting up new “Tents of Meeting” where God’s people could encounter the divine.

9:15  They were amazed: Mark doesn’t tell us why the crowd was so amazed as Jesus approached. Some have speculated that he may have still had a visible residual of glory similar to the brightness of Moses’ visage when he would return to camp after an encounter with God. While this is certainly possible, we have no further insight beyond what Mark wrote here.

9:29  Prayer and fasting: This verse is one of those verses that expose the presuppositions behind a Bible translation. If the translation drops the word “fasting,” they are really doing it for theological reasons rather than on the basis of manuscript evidence. The vast majority of manuscripts and versions include the word “fasting” in this verse. In Jewish thought of the time, prayer and fasting naturally went together, and it was commonplace to connect the two. It is only in our more Western mindset that we think of fasting as something separate or distinct from prayer. My favorite quote, one that exposes the theological approach to whether one includes fasting in this passage or not, comes from a well-respected commentary on the biblical text. The author states, “In the early Church the efficacy of fasting was championed and this emphasis has left its mark upon almost the entire manuscript tradition of verse 29. Jesus, however, spoke only of prayer as the source of faith’s power and the means of its strength.” Please note that the author clearly states that almost the entire manuscript evidence supports the fact that Jesus said, “Prayer and fasting.” Please also note that his argument against it is that the early church liked to fast. If you are scratching your head over that, you are not the only one. Jesus most certainly said, “Prayer and fasting.”

9:35  You will be the last of all and the servant of all: The verb is “will be,” not “must.” However, we all know that the future can be used as a command. Think of the parent saying to his or her child, “You will eat your vegetables!” However, I believe that Jesus is not using it in that way here. The simplest way to understand this passage is that Jesus is saying, “If you want to be first, you will end up last, and you will end up being everyone else’s servant.” Wanting to be first sets things in motion that will leave you far from your intended destination. God exalts the humble. The path to greatness is not through ambition.

9:40  For the one who is not against us is for us: These words are pretty much a quote of a well-known speech that Cicero gave in front of Caesar less than a hundred years earlier. Since Jesus and his disciples lived in Graeco-Roman culture, this saying had probably come to them as a cliché that Jesus now used effectively. I can imagine his smile as he tells them that they shouldn’t stop the man using his name because, in effect, “We need all the support we can get.” I can also imagine him chuckling as he finished with this well-known phrase from Cicero, “For as we all know, whoever is not against us is for us.” It would have broken a bit of the tension as everyone got to smile, and actually allowed Jesus to go a bit deeper in the next verses.

9:42  The kind that a donkey turns: Many translations simply translate this as a large millstone. However, Jesus does describe the millstone as the type that a donkey turns. Although a small, hand-turned millstone would be enough to sink most of us, Jesus is making an even clearer point when he refers to this much larger millstone.

9:43  Cut it off: Jesus is using hyperbole to point out how drastically we must take action against those things that stop us from entering the Kingdom of God. Self-mutilation is a violation of the image of God, and is nowhere in Jesus’ mind.

9:44 & 46  Where the worm does not die: Verses 44 and 46 are not in many translations. There is no doubt that Jesus spoke these words in verse 48. The only question is, did he also speak them in these two verses. The manuscript evidence is about evenly divided. Since it is easier to explain how they were added by a copyist (as a liturgical response to Jesus’ words), than it is to explain why anyone would have deleted them, most newer translations drop the two verses. Since the manuscript evidence is split, and Jesus most certainly did speak these words in verse 48, I have no problem including them.

9:47  The Kingdom of God: By adding this phrase, Jesus very clearly indicates that he is not speaking about the afterlife in these admonitions to drastic action. The concept of Kingdom is a “this life” thing. He is indicating the importance of stepping into righteousness, peace, and joy as prerequisites to the Kingdom, as opposed to allowing other things to hinder that effort.

9:47  Gehenna: Gehenna is literally the valley of Hinnom next to Jerusalem. It had become a putrid garbage site filled with dead animals, burning garbage, and decay. It is a vivid picture to Jesus’ listeners of the pain and stench of the burning regret people feel when their choices have left them outside of the Kingdom reality of righteousness, joy and peace. Everyone who misses the Kingdom will be salted with the fire of regret.

9:50  If the salt leeches away: As Jesus discusses people being salted by regret, he also speaks of the importance of spiritual salt in our lives. The people of his time did not have refined salt like we do. Their salt was mixed with other minerals. If the mixture got wet, the Sodium Chloride could be leeched out, and the remaining stuff had no taste or benefit.


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A Translation of Mark Chapter 8

RomansText1“Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Why have you concluded that I said this because you did not bring bread? Don’t you yet know or understand? Are your hearts hard? You have eyes, but do you not see? You have ears, but do you not hear?” (Mark 8:17-18)

Jesus spoke the words quoted above to some very dull disciples. Jesus had already fed the five thousand with five loaves of bread, and the four thousand with seven loaves of bread, and yet the disciples somehow concluded that he would be upset because they forgot to pack lunch.

When we eventually get to watch the video of this scene, I want to listen to Jesus’ tone as he spoke these words, and watch the expression on his face. It almost seems impossible that his disciples could have seen the miraculous feedings of such huge crowds of people, and still demonstrated such a focus on the fact that they had forgotten lunch for a dozen or so. That is what makes Jesus’ words so poignant. “Don’t you yet know? Don’t you yet understand? Are your hearts hard? Can’t you see? Can’t you hear?”

Of course, we can be just as dense as Jesus’ disciples. There are so many things that happen around us that demonstrate God’s love and presence, and yet we too can focus on the petty needs of the moment, instead of the big picture of what God is doing. It is a part of our human condition. But we don’t have to stay there. We can remember what God has done for us in the past, and apply it to our present. That is, after all, what faith does. It lives up to its level of experience of God. If the Lord has moved on your behalf in the past, it is only common sense to expect him to do so in the future. If he has affirmed his love for you during trying circumstance, it is only faith to expect that he will continue to do so.

The disciples demonstrated little faith when they forgot to apply their past experiences to their present circumstance. One way we can avoid this trap is by making a list of times when we just know that God has intervened on our behalf. Then when we pray, we can thank God for those times, and ask him to do it again. I believe he is absolutely thrilled by such prayers since they are manifestations of faith, and we know it is by faith from first to last (see Romans 1:17).

On to our translation:

Mark 8:1-38
A Translation by Randal Cutter

8:1   At that time, a large crowd gathered around Jesus again. Since they did not have anything to eat, he called his disciples together and said to them,

8:2   “I have compassion for the crowd; they have already been with me three days, and they do not have anything to eat.”

8:3   “If I send them away to their homes without food, they will become faint along the way; some of them have even come from a long distance.

8:4   His disciples responded to him, “Where would anyone find bread to feed them here in this desolate place?”*

8:5   He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They told him, “Seven.”

8:6   So he commanded the crowd to sit down upon the ground. He took the seven loaves of bread, gave thanks, broke it into pieces, and gave it to his disciples for them to distribute. Then they distributed the bread to the crowd.

8:7   They also had a few small fish. He blessed them and told his disciples to also distribute the fish.*

8:8   The people ate and had as much as they wanted. The disciples picked up seven larger baskets* of leftover fragments,

8:9   even though there were about four thousand men. After this Jesus sent the people home.

8:10   He immediately embarked in a boat with his disciples, and traveled to the region of Dalmanutha.

8:11   Just then the Pharisees came out and began to badger him, testing him by seeking a sign from heaven from him.

8:12   He sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why is this generation seeking a sign? I am telling you the truth, no sign will be given to this generation.”

8:13   He left them, boarded the boat again, and crossed over to the other side.

8:14   However, the disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat.

8:15   At that time Jesus gave them clear instructions telling them, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of the Herodians.”*

8:16   The disciples concluded among themselves that Jesus said this because they had no bread.

8:17   He knew their thoughts and said to them, “Why have you concluded that I said this because you did not bring bread? Don’t you yet know or understand? Are your hearts hard?”

8:18   “You have eyes, but do you not see? You have ears, but do you not hear? Don’t you remember”

8:19   “when I broke five loaves for the five thousand? How many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?” They said to him, “Twelve.”

8:20   “When I broke seven loaves for the four thousand, how many larger baskets full of fragments did you pick up?” They said to him, “Seven.”

8:21   He said to them, “You don’t yet understand?”

8:22   After this they arrived at Bethsaida. The people brought a blind man to Jesus, and urged him to touch the man.

8:23   Jesus took the hand of the blind man, and brought him outside of the village. He spit in the man’s eyes, laid his hands on him, and asked him, “What do you see?”

8:24   Then his sight returned, and he said, “I see men walking about, to be specific, I am seeing them like they are trees.”*

8:25   Jesus laid his hands on the man’s eyes again, and he saw clearly; his sight was fully restored, and he could see everything distinctly.

8:26   After that Jesus sent the man to his own house saying, “Do not go into the village.”

8:27   Some time later Jesus and his disciples went out to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. While they were on the road, he began to question his disciples asking them, “Who do men say that I am?”

8:28   They responded to him saying, “Some say John the Baptizer, others say Elijah, and others say that you are one of the prophets.”

8:29   He asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter answered and said to him, “You are the Christ.”

8:30   Then Jesus strongly warned them that they should say nothing to anyone about him.

8:31   He also began to teach them that it was necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things; to be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribal scholars; and to be killed and raised to life after three days.

8:32   He spoke this message openly to them, but Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

8:33   But Jesus turned his back on Peter, and when he saw his disciples, he rebuked him and said, “Quit haunting me, Satan! Peter, you are thinking from the perspective of men, not God.”*

8:34   After that he called the crowd together with his disciples and said to them, “If anyone desires to follow after me, he must deny his own will, take up his cross, and follow me.”

8:35   “For whoever desires to save his soul will lose it, but whoever loses his soul for my sake, and for the gospel, will save it.”

8:36   “For what benefit is there for a man to gain the whole world and suffer loss to his soul?”

8:37   “For what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”*

8:38   “For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with his holy angels.”


8:4  Desolate Place: There are two things we should realize. First, the disciples are clearly throwing the ball back into Jesus’ court in their response to him. They certainly didn’t forget the feeding of the five thousand. In essence, they were inviting him to do it again. The second thing that we can note, is that this miracle is taking place in the region of the Decapolis (the Ten Greek Cities). There can be no doubt that this was a mixed crowd. The feeding of the five thousand was done with a mostly Jewish crowd. The feeding of the four thousand was also an outreach to the Gentiles.

8:7  The fish: Mark makes it clear that the fish were almost an afterthought. It may be that while they were distributing the bread, someone in the crowd let the disciples know they also had some fish. In this way, the fish would have been provided so that they also could be multiplied and distributed.

8:8  Larger baskets: At the end of the feeding of the five thousand, the disciples picked up twelve personal baskets of leftovers. These were the personal baskets that most of the people of the time would take with them when they left their homes. However, in this instance, it is a much larger basket that is used, not the personal one. They may have had far more left over than they had from the first feeding.

8:15  The yeast of the Pharisees and Herodians: In spite of the fact that the Pharisees and Herodians had seen many miracles, they wanted a sign from heaven to validate the signs on earth. The yeast, then, is that thing which works in us so that we do not believe even when we see something obviously supernatural. This is not to say that we must believe everything that people call miracles, but it certainly reminds us that there is a point when you can no longer intellectually deny a miracle, and at that point it is dishonest to require even more proof than has been given.

8:24  I see people walking as trees: I believe that the reason that this is a two-part miracle, is that it is a message about our spiritual journey. When our eyes are first opened, we can see certain spiritual truths, but not others. However, as we grow in our connection to Jesus, our eyes are opened further, and we can see better. This growth in our ability to see helps us see people better (and appreciate who they are even more).

8:33  Jesus turned his back on Peter: I have translated this verse to capture a bit of the activity that is portrayed in the verse a bit more fully. I have often pictured Jesus looking into Peter’s eyes and saying, “Get behind me, Satan,” as if he were calling Peter by the name of Satan. However, it is clear that Jesus has already turned from Peter by the time he speaks, and although he is certainly rebuking Peter, I am no longer certain he is calling Peter by Satan’s name. I have indicated that Jesus may truly be addressing the Tempter first, and then addressing Peter in the second half of his statement.

8:37  Soul: I have deliberately translated the Greek word as soul instead of life as some other translations do, so that we understand Jesus’ point. He is speaking to our self-will. The soul is the location of our mind, emotions, and will. We can do things our way, and lose everything even while we live (happiness, satisfaction, contentment). The only path to a happy soul is by denying our own self-will, and doing it God’s way.


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A Translation of Mark Chapter 7

RomansText1“In addition, when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they baptize themselves. They also cling to many other traditions that they have inherited, such as the baptizing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and dining couches. ” (Mark 7:4)

Before I comment on this verse, I should mention that in my congregation we practice baptism through immersion. I grew up Lutheran, and as most of you know, Lutheran practice is not immersion, nor would it be appropriate, since they baptize babies. However, when I left the Lutheran Church I shifted to adult baptism by immersion both for theological and practical reasons.

Before we move on, perhaps I should point out that most Christians believe this key truth about baptism: Baptism is for infants. Let that sink in for a minute. Now let’s finish the thought: Some Christians believe that baptism is for physical infants, and some believe it is for spiritual infants (new believers). This means that we agree about a very basic truth about baptism, and that our only disagreement (from this perspective) is about whether the application is physical or spiritual. There, I’ve just solved a theological rift that has plagued the Christian Church for centuries. You are welcome.

More seriously, since I am about to write some potentially unpopular things, I thought I would state clearly what I currently practice so that you realize that I am not grinding a theological ax in what I write below. I am a truth-seeker. I also want you to be one. I know I can help with that by stating my position up front.

In order to be a truth-seeker, we need to allow the Scripture to form our theological opinions, our theological opinions cannot form Scripture. Since this is a translation article, I will put it this way: When we desire to determine the meaning of a word, we can approach the topic in one of two ways. We can determine the meaning of a word theologically, that is, we determine what our theology states that the word should mean, and we then make the word mean that. The other approach, which I believe is more appropriate, is to determine a word’s meaning linguistically. That means, among other things, that we look at the various contexts in which we find a word, and then determine its meaning based upon the obvious context.

Thus we turn our attention to the verse I have quoted above.

I know that most translations do not use the word “baptize” in their translation of this verse. However, the Greek word that the Holy Spirit moved Mark to use was baptizo. As I did a survey of other translations, I found that most translations, except Young’s Literal Translation (YLT), chose to translate baptizo by using the word “washing” instead of the more familiar “baptize.” I would not normally have a problem with that choice, except that it obscures something that we really need to see in order to undertand the meaning of the Greek word baptizo.

Of course, volumes have been written on the meaning of baptizo, and I do not intend to add another volume. I will only point out that the vast majority of manuscripts of Mark 7:4 include the Greek word that is translated “dining couches” (table in the KJV/NKJV). That means that the Pharisees baptized their dining couches, a significant trick if baptizo means “to immerse” in this instance.

Of course, many translations simply drop dining couch, or demote it to a footnote stating that the most important manuscripts do not have it included. Let us be clear; there are thousands and thousands of copies of the Greek New Testament that have been passed down to us through the millenia telling us that the Pharisees baptized their dining couches. Relatively speaking, there are only a handful that do not have the word for dining couches. Even though the NIV and other translations choose to drop “dining couches” from their translations, it is included in the vast majority of the Greek manuscripts, and those who have compiled the Greek New Testament have always included it.

Actually, in one sense, it does not matter whether Mark himself actually used the word for dining couches or not. I believe he did, and that manuscript evidence supports that fact, but that really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that thousands of ancient Greek-speaking and ancient Greek-writing copyists did include the word in their manuscripts, and had no difficulty with the idea that the Pharisees baptized their dining couches, which the Pharisees most certainly did not do by immersion.

If you believe that baptizo only ever means immersion, this is where you will find out if you approach Scripture from a theological perspective, or a linguistic perspective. If you approach this passage from a theological perspective, you will be offended at the idea that dining couches could be included in this passage. So even though it is included in the vast majority of the Greek manuscripts, and even though the compilers of the Greek New Testament have consistently included it in all their versions and updates, you might be tempted to drop it so that you do not have to deal with the implications. If you approach this passage from a linguistic perspective, though you may be offended that the idea of dining couches being baptized, you will let the text speak to you. You will then be open to the conclusion that, at least in this one instance, baptizo might mean something other than immerse.

You now know into which category you fall.

On to our translation:

Mark 7:1-37
A Translation by Randal Cutter

7:1   At another time the Pharisees and some of the scribal scholars came from Jerusalem and gathered around him.

7:2   They saw some of Jesus’ disciples eating bread with ritually unclean hands, that is, with hands that had not been ritually washed.*

7:3   For the Pharisees and all the Jews did not eat unless they performed a ritual washing of their hands by making a fist,* clinging to the tradition of the elders.

7:4   In addition, when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they baptize themselves. They also cling to many other traditions that they have inherited, such as the baptizing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and dining couches.

7:5   The Pharisees and the scribal scholars questioned Jesus: “Why are your disciples not walking according to the tradition of the elders, but instead eat bread with ritually unclean hands?”

7:6   In response he said to them, “Isaiah prophesied accurately about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me.’

7:7   ‘They worship me without accomplishing anything, because they are teaching the commandments of men for their doctrines.’

7:8   “You have abandoned God’s command, and are clinging to the traditions of men.”

7:9   He also said to them, “You are good at overruling the commands of God in order to keep your traditions.”

7:10   “For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘The one mocking his father or mother spitefully should be put to death.’”

7:11   “But you say, ‘If a man says to father or mother, ‘Whatever financial support you might have received from me is Corban, that is, a gift for the temple treasury,’

7:12   “you no longer allow him to provide for his father or mother.”*

7:13   “You are invalidating the word of God by the traditions which you have handed down; you also do many other things just like this.”

7:14   When Jesus summoned the crowd again, he said to them, “Everyone, listen to me and understand!”

7:15   “There is nothing outside of a man that is able to defile him when it goes into him; but the things coming out of a man are able to defile him.”

7:16   “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”*

7:17   Later when they went into a house away from the crowd, his disciples questioned him about the parable.

7:18   He asked them, “Are you so without understanding? Do you not understand that everything that enters a man from the outside is not able to defile him?”

7:19   “It can’t defile him because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and then goes out of his body into the latrine.” Jesus said this, thus cleansing all foods.*

7:20   He also said, “The things that come out of a man defile the man.”

7:21   “For from within—from the heart of men—evil thoughts arise, also sexual immoralities, thefts, murders,”

7:22   “adulteries, lusts, wicked deeds, deceit, unrestrained sensuality, envy, slanders, arrogance, and willful ignorance.”*

7:23   “All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.”

7:24   Then Jesus left and went into the region of Tyre. He arrived at a house, but did not want anyone to know. However, he was not able to remain hidden;

7:25   in fact when a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him, she immediately came and fell at his feet.

7:26   But the woman was a Greek who was Syrophoenician by birth. She requested that he cast the demon out of her daughter.

7:27   He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not healthy to take the children’s food and feed it to the house dogs.”

7:28   But she responded and said to him, “Yes Lord, but the house dogs* eat the scraps of the children that fall under the table.”

7:29   He said to her, “On account of this answer, you may go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”

7:30   Then she went to her house and found the child collapsed upon the bed,* but the demon had left her.

7:31   Jesus again went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon, and then traveled along the Sea of Galilee to the middle of the region called the Decapolis.

7:32   The residents of the region brought a man to him who could not hear, and had difficulty speaking; and they begged Jesus to lay hands on him.

7:33   Jesus took the man from the crowd for privacy, placed his fingers into his ears, spit in his hand, and held the man’s tongue.*

7:34   He looked up to heaven, groaned, and said to the infirmities, “Ephphatha,” which means, “Open up!”*

7:35   Immediately the man’s hearing was opened up, the restriction on his tongue was removed, and he began to speak clearly.

7:36   Jesus gave them explicit instructions that they tell no one. But the more he instructed them, the more they spread the news,

7:37   because they were overwhelmed with astonishment; they were reporting, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”


7:2  Ritually unclean hands/ritually washed: There is no doubt from the context that the issue is the ceremonial washing that the Pharisees legalistically observed. I have translated this verse in a way that makes this obvious.

7:3  By making a fist: Literally “with a fist.” This refers to the practice of how they held their hands as they washed. Some translations simply drop the word “fist” because they feel it is an obscure reference. I have included it because it is in the Greek text, and I don’t believe that it is appropriate to edit out things simply because I might not understand them.

7:12  Jesus may be referring to a celebrated case where a man rashly vowed to dedicate all his money to the temple rather than helping his parents with it. The issue would be about what is more important, honoring father and mother with financial support or keeping a vow to God. The rabbis chose the vow. Jesus chose the honor since to do otherwise was to mock the relationship with father and mother.

7:16  This verse is skipped in some translations because of a bias toward the Alexandrian family of Greek manuscripts. As in the case of dining couches, the vast majority of Greek manuscripts have the verse. My rule of thumb is, when a version states that “the earliest and most reliable manuscripts” don’t have something, it probably should be included in the translation. When a translation uses that wording, it is a sign that it is submitting to an inappropriate bias toward a very limited number of manuscripts that some have chosen to call “the most reliable.” That is an opinion, and a tenuous one at best. But the NIV and the ESV have succumbed to it.

7:19  Cleansing all foods: Legalists (including all those who want to yoke Christians under the law again) would prefer that this verse wasn’t here. Remember that Mark was writing to Roman Gentile readers. They put all sorts of things they called “food” in their mouths. Jesus is clearly saying that if you can digest it, it is clean. He is not making some obscure point that the item has to first qualify as food under the terms of the Mosaic Code. That is not what the Greek word for food means, but modern day Christian legalists will often say something like  that simply because they never stop trying. You may continue to enjoy your pork chops without guilt. They are clean for those who are not under the Law of Moses. Of course, the people around Jesus in this incident were still under the Law. They not only would not have understood that Jesus was cleansing all food for the new covenant, Jesus had not yet instituted that covenant.

7:22  Willful Ignorance: In this section of Mark, Jesus refers to thinking, or not thinking, four different times. It is important that he includes willful ignorance in his list of negative things that come from the heart. Those who choose not to use their minds when they approach topics of importance are not being spiritual, they are manifesting a very negative trait.

7:28  House dogs: The word Jesus uses does not refer to the wild dogs that traveled in packs, but rather to puppies, or to a house dog. One of the points of this story is that this woman, through faith, recognized that Gentiles were in the house—and standing on that revelation, she stepped into great faith.

7:30  Collapsed upon the bed: The Greek text indicates that she was thrown there, probably as the demon left. At the time her mother found her, she was resting quietly.

7:33  Held the man’s tongue: The Greek word indicates a firm touch or grasp. I chose to translate it as Jesus holding the tongue to emphasize the firm contact. However, he may simply have been pressing down firmly. In any case, I’m sure the man was quite startled by the whole thing.

7:34  Note three reasons why I believe that the best understanding is that Jesus was speaking directly to the infirmity rather than to the man (the Greek could go either way): First, the man was deaf, so Jesus clearly wasn’t speaking to him. Second, since Jesus was in the region of the Decapolis (the ten Greek cities), this man most likely did not speak Aramaic, and would not have understood Jesus even if he could hear. Third, Jesus commanded, and the infirmity obeyed the command, showing us to whom or what Jesus was speaking.


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