Mark 1:14 Commentary | Given Over, Gospel Given

Mark Commentary

Mark 1:14 Text & Translation

14 Μετὰ δὲ τὸ παραδοθῆναι τὸν Ἰωάννην ἦλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον7 τοῦ θεοῦ 1

Now after John was handed over [to be arrested], Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God (Mk 1:14, AT)

Structure

As scholars point out, after the prologue (Mk 1:1–13) (see Part I and Part II), the first three sections of Mark (Mk 1:14–3:6; 3:7–6:6a; 6:6b–8:21) all have a similar pattern.2

Each of these three sections begins with a summary statement (Mk 1:14–15; 3:7–12; and 6:6b),3 followed by a passage about the disciples (Mk 1:16–20; 3:13–19; 6:7–13).4

Then, each section ends with a negative summary statement (Mk 3:6; 6:6a) or question (Mk 8:21).5

Handed Over

The word translated handed over (παραδίδωμι | paradidōmi) means to “deliver up, betray”.6 This word, which occurs twenty times in Mark,7 was a technical term for being handed over into custody.8

The subject of the verb is not mentioned (“Who handed John over?). Thus, many believe this to be what is known as a divine passive.9 That is, God is the implied and unnamed subject; John the Baptist was (ultimately) handed over by God.

Using a divine passive allows one to refer to God without saying His Name  — and potentially misusing it (breaking the Third Commandment; cf. Ex 20:7).

However, perhaps the implied subject is Herod Antipas who will have John the Baptist beheaded (cf. Mk 6:17, 27-28).10 John’s demise will be described in Mk 6:14-29.11

That being said, this word (paradidōmi) is repeated numerous times throughout Mark. Notably, this word is used when Jesus predicts His death and resurrection. In Mark 9, we read:

31 because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered [paradidōmi] into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise (Mk 9:31, NIV; cf. Mk 3:19; 10:33, 14:10, 11,21, 41, 42, 44, 15:1, 15;12 cf. Mk 13:9-12; Rom 4:25; 8:32; 1 Cor 11:23)13

Also, this is the word used to describe Judas’ betrayal. In Chapter 14, it reads:

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray [paradidōmi] Jesus to them (Mk 14:10, NIV)14

By using the same word to describe the deaths of both John the Baptist and Jesus, perhaps Mark is engaging in some foreshadowing.

John the Baptist is not only Jesus’ forerunner in ministry, but also His forerunner in death — brutal death.15

It is important to point out that (genuine) Gospel ministry often leads to adversity and suffering, “not in ease and comfort”16 (cf. 2 Cor 11:24-28; Ac 21:27f.). As mentioned in a previous sermon on Mk 8:34-38:

According to church tradition, except for John, all of Jesus’ disciples died for the faith. Many Christians around the world are still dying for the faith even today.

Data from the Pew Research Center[97] and studies by the University of Notre Dame[98] suggest that Christians are persecuted in more countries than people of any other religion. In fact, across the globe, more of our brothers and sisters are dying for the faith than at any other time in the last 2,000 years.[99]

Just a few months ago, on Resurrection Sunday, ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that targeted Christians. On the most important Christian holiday, over 300 people were killed.[100]

In certain Middle Eastern countries, when someone asks to join an underground church, they ask two questions: (1) “Are you willing to be persecuted for Christ? (2) Are you willing to die for Him?”[101]

Thanks be to God, in America, we typically do not have to worry about such persecution. And Christ is not saying that all of His followers are literally going to die for the faith (cf. Lk 9:23).[102]

But whether metaphorically or literally,[103] carrying one’s cross means death and shame (cf. Heb 12:2) [104] – in sacrificial service to Christ.[105] As they say, Christ wants us to be ride or die.

Giving Galilee the Gospel

Galilee was not some backwater town. As one scholar writes:

“Galilee was the centre of a humming political and commercial life. It stood at the crossroads of the nations of the ancient world, through which the armies and the traders and the diplomats passed. There some of the greatest battles of the world had been fought.… Galilee was the home of a thoroughly cosmopolitan population: Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic would all be heard in the markets; Syrian, Jew, Roman and Parthian mixed freely. It was a land of passing excitements and dangerous fashions, of a barbarous dialect and offensive manners.”17

Galilee, which had a population of about 25,000-30,000,18 was a “place of conflict, threat, racial mixture and busy activity”.19 Jesus did not begin His public ministry in a safe space.

Say When?

Though Mark is not necessarily writing all of these events in order — as Luke strives to do (cf. Lk 1:3) — many struggle to work out the chronology.20

It seems that Mark is saying that Jesus did not begin His public ministry in Galilee until after John was arrested. However in John 3, we read:

22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) (Jn 3:22-24, NIV)21

In the next chapter, before Jesus talks with the Samaritan woman at the well, we read:

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John—2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. (Jn 4:1-3, NIV)22

All things considered, it seems plausible that Jesus may have ministered in Judea (possibly with John) while John was still baptizing (Jn 3:22-23) before returning to Galilee (Jn 4:1-3) — from where Jesus came (Mk 1:9) — and then going public.23

His Galilean proclamation may have served as a sort of “press conference”.24

Galilee and Jerusalem

Jesus had a popular ministry in Galilee (Mk 1:28, 3:7), and He meets up with His disciples there after His Resurrection (Mk 14:28, 16:7).25

In Mark 14, He says:

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” (Mk 14:28, NIV)26

and at the end of the gospel, the angel tells the women at the tomb:

Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ” (Mk 16:6-7, NIV)27

It is interesting that, in Mark, Jerusalem – the holy city – is often a place of faithlessness and opposition, while Galilee is often a place of “promise and opportunity for the gospel”.28

Good News of God

The good news (i.e., gospel) about Jesus the Christ/Messiah, the Son of God (Mk 1:1)  — is the same as the good news (i.e., gospel) of God.29

As in Mark 1:1, one can understand “Gospel of God” both subjectively and objectively.30 That is, it is both the gospel proclaimed by God (subjective) and the Gospel about God (objective).

As it’s been said, Jesus is both messenger and message.31 Christ proclaims the Gospel message, and the Gospel message is about Christ.

Conclusion

After John the Baptist is handed over — to be arrested and eventually killed — Jesus begins His public ministry in Galilee. Christ proclaims the Gospel in a cosmopolitan region that will apparently be more receptive than the holy city of Jerusalem.

John the Baptist is Jesus’ forerunner in ministry and in (brutal) death. Proclaiming the Gospel often leads to persecution.

For more commentary on Mark, please visit the Book Study Overview page. For the sources cited, please see the bibliography.

Sources

  1. Barbara Aland et al., eds., The Greek New Testament, Fifth Revised Edition (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2014), Mk 1:14.
  2. Stein, 67
  3. “France…59–60; contra Guelich… 41–42”, Stein, 67
  4. Stein, 67
  5. Stein, 67
  6. NIDNTTE, 622 cf. UBS, 35
  7. UBS, 35
  8. UBS, 35; Schnabel, 50; Edwards, 44; Stein, 71; Strauss, 79
  9. Garland, 58; Brooks, 45 cf. Mk 14:21; Edwards, 44; Guelich, 42; Stein, 71; Strauss, 79
  10. Strauss, 80
  11. English, 48; Cole, 111; Brooks, 45; Guelich, 42; France, 90; Stein, 71; Strauss, 79
  12. Garland, 58 cf. Brooks, 45; cf. Edwards, 44; cf. Guelich, 42; cf. France, 90
  13. Stein, 71; cf. Strauss, 79
  14. Garland, 58
  15. Garland, 58; Edwards, 44; cf. Brooks, 45; Stein, 71; cf. Guelich, 45
  16. Edwards, 44
  17. English, 48-49
  18. Schnabel, 44
  19. English, 49
  20. “Although the Fourth Gospel describes a period of overlap between the ministries of Jesus and John (John 3:22–4:2), the Synoptics move John off the scene before Jesus’ public ministry begins (cf. Matt 4:12; Luke 3:19–20). Their purpose is theological rather than chronological—to emphasize the transition from the old age of promise to the new age of fulfillment.” Strauss, 80.

    “”According to John 3:22–4:2 there existed a period of overlap in the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus. If Mark were writing a biography of the life of Jesus, the present statement would be a serious problem. Already in the early part of the second century, however, Papias (d. 130) recognized that Mark did not write his Gospel “in order” (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3.39.15–16). Once we realize that Mark did not seek to provide a chronological log of Jesus’s ministry, and this is evident by his geographical grouping of material (Jesus in and around Galilee—[Mk 1:14–9:50]; Jesus’s journey to Jerusalem—[Mk 10:1–52]; Jesus in Jerusalem—[Mk 11:1–16:8]), then the alleged problem disappears.” Stein, 70

  21. Edwards, 43; Stein, 70; Strauss, 80
  22. Edwards, 43; Stein, 70; Strauss, 80
  23. Edwards, 43; contra Guelich, 42
  24. Edwards, 43. “Mark only sparingly provides time and place designations in his Gospel. That he provides both at the commencement of Jesus’ public ministry in 1:14 is therefore significant. Mark does not specifically mention a sojourn of Jesus in Judea as does the Gospel of John (3:22–36), but passing comments in his prologue that Jesus “came from Nazareth in Galilee” (1:9) and returned “into Galilee” (1:14) imply the possibility of a Judean sojourn. If Jesus’ return to Galilee were a consequence of John’s arrest in 1:14, then it might be possible to suppose, as John states (3:22), that Jesus collaborated in ministry in some form with John in Judea. But it is more likely that Mark intends 1:14 to be understood temporally, that is, when John was betrayed, then Jesus went public. At any rate, we should probably reckon with an interval of time between Mark 1:13 and 1:14, perhaps owing to an initial ministry in Judea. Both Mark and John report that following an unspecified interval Jesus returned to Galilee (Mark 1:14; John 4:1–3). Mark seizes Jesus’ return as a decisive moment and fashions it into a formal announcement in 1:14, a “press conference” of sorts, to signify the commencement of Jesus’ public ministry.” Edwards, 43
  25. Edwards, 44
  26. Edwards, 44
  27. Edwards, 44
  28. Edwards, 44
  29. Schnabel, 50; Edwards, 45; France, 91
  30. “both the subject and the object of the good news” France, 91; cf. Strauss, 80
  31. cf. Edwards, 45; Guelich, 43, 46;  France, 91; cf. Strauss, 80
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