Mark 1:25-26 Commentary | Shut Up & Get Out!

Mark Commentary

Text & Translation

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.1

And Jesus rebuked it2 saying, “Shut up! Come out of him!” (Mk 1:25, AT). And throwing him into convulsions and shrieking in a loud voice, the defiling spirit came out of him. (Mk 1:26, AT)

Authoritative Rebuke

After being interrupted by a demon-possessed man while teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum — with authority — Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit — with authority.

Jesus does quite a bit of authoritative rebuking. He rebukes (ἐπιτιμάω | epitimaō) demons (Mk 1:25, 9:25;3 par. Mt 11:18; Lk 9:42),4 fevers (Lk 4:39),5 Peter (Mk 8:30, 33)6 and even storms (Mk 4:39).7

For example:

39 He got up, rebuked [epitimaō] the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. (Mk 4:39, NIV)8

Moreover, as we have mentioned when discussing Jesus having greater authority than the scribes, Jesus does not rely on human tradition. His authority is divine.

In fact, this divine rebuke echoes language used to describe how, during the Exodous, God divinely rebuked the Red Sea:

9 He rebuked [epitimaō] the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led them through the depths as through a desert. (Ps 106:9, NIV; cf. Ps 105:9 LXX)9

Some say this term was common in exorcism formulas,10 but it was more of a…

…technical term in Judaism “by which evil powers are brought into submission and the way is thereby prepared for the establishment of God’s righteous rule in the world.”11

In any case, it’s clear that this is an awesome demonstration of Christ’s authority12 and the manifestation of the inbreaking kingdom of God.13 As Jesus says in Matthew:

And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Mt 12:28, NIV)14

Shut Up!

Shut up (φιμόω | phimoō) is a firm command to silence.15 I think shut up captures its demanding nature more than a softer expression like “be quiet”.16

The word literally means to “tie shut”,17 to “muzzle”.18 Metaphorically it means to “silence”.19

We see the literal meaning elsewhere in Scripture. For example, in 1 Timothy we find:

18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle [phimoō] an ox while it is treading out the grain,” (1 Tim 5:18a, NIV; cf. Dt 25:4; Mt 22:12, 34; Lk 4:35; 1 Pet 2:15)20

This may have also been a common term used during exorcisms.21 But Jesus doesn’t just tell demons to shut up. For example, in chapter 4, it reads:

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still [phimoō]!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. (Mk 4:39, NIV)22

In any case, Jesus consistently commands the demons He drives out to keep their mouths shut. For example, in chapter 3 it says:

11 Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him. (Mk 3:11-12, NIV)23

Also, the next episode in chapter 1 closes by saying:

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. (Mk 1:34, NIV)24

Many have wondered why Jesus told the demons to shut up about Him.

It seems reasonable that He did not want demonic testimony25 – they aren’t the best witnesses!

Even nowadays, people are likely to disbelieve almost anything that comes from certain people’s mouths. Whether it’s a politician they dislike or another hated figure, when certain people talk, many automatically believe that they’re lying (whether they are or not).

Yes, the demons acknowledge the divine authority of Christ (Mk 1:24). But though right answer, wrong source.26

Demons are not good witnesses for Christ because they are not faithful witnesses to Christ. That is, demons don’t have faith in Jesus.27

As we’ve said, one can believe that Jesus is the Son of God and yet not believe in Jesus as the Son of God (i.e., being faithful/loyal/obedient to Him as Lord) (cf. Jas 2:19).

Thus, demonic testimony could actually serve to discredit Jesus28 and lead others astray.29

Messianic Secret?

Wrede’s Misreading

Some think Jesus silences the demons and others because of the so-called “messianic secret” motif.30

Many years ago, a scholar named William Wrede claimed that this “messianic secret” motif was employed by Mark and others in the early church to “cover up Jesus’ unmessianic life”.31

According to Wrede, though Mark and early Christians believed that Jesus was the Messiah, Mark did not find much in the gospel tradition to support their belief.

Therefore, as Wrede claimed, Mark put commands to be silent about Christ’s messianic identity in Jesus’ mouth in order to explain the apparent lack of evidence away.32

This hypothesis is rife with problems and has been largely criticized. For despite Jesus’ commands to the contrary (see below), the “secret” spreads! (cf. Mk 1:45, 7:36).33

So much so that after Jesus heals the leper, and the man runs his mouth about it, Jesus could no longer enter towns freely because of His fame (Mk 1:45).

The more Jesus told people to be quiet, the more they did the exact opposite (Mk 7:36)!34

And at the end of this very episode, we find that:

28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. (Mk 1:28, NIV)35

Good News travels fast!

Be Quiet (For Now)

Nonetheless, in Mark, there is a pattern of people being commanded to keep quiet about Jesus.

People that He heals are told not to tell others Who He is (Mk 1:44, 5:43, 7:36;36 cf. Mk 8:26).37

However, in one case, after driving demons out of a certain man, Jesus tells Him to spread the news:

18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. (Mk 5:18-20, NIV)38

Not just demons, but disciples are also told not to tell others who Jesus is (Mk 8:30, 9:9).39

When Peter rightly tells  Jesus that He is the Messiah, Jesus tells the disciples not to tell anyone else (Mk 8:30).40

In chapter 9 we read:

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant. (Mk 9:9-10, NIV)41

It seems that Christ wants them to be quiet until they have a better understanding of what He has come to do — which will become clearer after His death and Resurection.

Until the crucifixion and the Resurrection, Jesus’ true identity could not be fully grasped (by people).42 Jesus may have wanted to avoid “premature and misdirected” acclaim.43

On many topics, it’s likely wise to keep our mouths shut until we truly understand what we’re talking about!

Moreover, as it’s been said:

“Jesus’ healing miracles do not simply remedy human physical maladies; they represent a war against demonic forces. Jesus disarms Satan’s power that has been pirating human souls and sets the victims free one by one. The demons therefore know him as the victorious Son of God, not as one who must undergo suffering and death. Consequently, Jesus orders their silence.”44

It also could be that Jesus did not want to gain fame as an exorcist/healer45 or a military conqueror46 (as many expected the Messiah to be) since that might sidetrack Him from His main task of preaching the Good News of the kingdom of God.47

That being said, the secrecy motif is not necessarily present here.48

If the demon is trying to invoke His name in order to try to control Jesus (Mk 1:24), Jesus is likely just stopping the demon’s defensive ritual.49

And Get Out!

In Jesus’ day, He and His disciples were not the only people who exorcised demons50 (cf. Mk 9:38).

In chapter 12, Jesus even admits as much:

27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. (Mt 12:27, NIV)51

Other exorcists used phrases like “come out of ___”, but as part of “elaborate magical incantations”.52

There were various methods of exorcism:

  • Scaring/revulsion: like putting smelly a root in the person’s nose to force the demon out.53
  • Using magical potions, rings54 incantations or invoking the name of a higher spirit to get rid of the lower spirit.55

As one scholar mentions:

Josephus (Ant. 8.2.5 §46–49) relates that one Eleazar was able to draw a demon out through the victim’s nostrils, by placing a ring and a piece of pungent baras root under the nose and by reciting an incantation thought to have been composed by Solomon. Josephus says he has seen Eleazar do this, with the departing demon tipping over a basin of water as proof of his exit.56

In contrast, Jesus simply gives the order.57 He doesn’t need to know the demon’s name (cf. Mk 5:9), He doesn’t need an elaborate spell, and He doesn’t need any props.58

When the the Son of God speaks, the demons surrender.

One Last Gasp

The demon caused the man to convulse (σπαράσσω | sparassō) (cf. Mk 9:26; Lk 9:39)59a word that literally means to “pull to and fro”.60

In other ancient literature, this word is also used to describe dogs and other animals ripping a victim open.61 This was violent.

Unlike in other places in the gospels, here there is no mention of physical symptoms associated with demon possession.62

However, demons often caused a commotion on the way out63 – as it is even recorded in non-Christian ancient texts.64 It seems this was one last attempt to cause injury, and an indication of its exit.65

Also, unlike other exorcists who may have used a wide variety of methods with varying degrees of success, Jesus’ success is immediate.66

This makes the kingdom of God more than some abstract ideal; Jesus provides an awesome manifestation of the reign of God. This is “God’s power (authority) in action”.67

As we shall see, Jesus’ did not primarily come as an exorcist or a healer; He came to proclaim the kingdom of God.

Jesus drives out the demon in response to its interruption of His authoritative teaching, providing a clear example of God’s inbreaking kingdom.68

Conclusion

After a demon-possessed man interrupts Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum, Jesus rebukes the demon, commanding it to shut up and come out. Acknowledging Jesus’ divine authority, the demon makes a violent exit — immediately.

This is an awesome demonstration of the inbreaking kingdom of God that is invading the domain of Satan. Jesus not only proclaims the kingdom, He backs up words with authoritative action.

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 1:25–26.
  2. It could be “he” (i.e., the demon-possessed man) or “it” (i.e., the demon doing the possessing) in Greek but likely refers to the demon because of what follows. (UBS, 51; Strauss, 92; cf. inconsequential, Brooks, 50)
  3. NIDNTTE, 259
  4. EDNT, 43
  5. NIDNTTE, 259; EDNT, 43
  6. France, 104
  7. NIDNTTE, 259; EDNT, 43
  8. NIDNTTE, 259, 609; EDNT, 428; France, 104; Stein, 89
  9. NIDNTTE, 259
  10. NIDNTTE, 259; cf. Edwards, 57; Stein, 89
  11. Edwards, 57; cf. Stein, 57.

    H.C. Kee has shown, however, that it is not a technical term of exorcism, being remarkably absent from exorcism literature outside the NT, but that its background is in the Hebrew gāʿar, used in the OT for God’s ‘subjugating word’ against his enemies, which is not just a verbal protest, but effectively brings them under his control. (France, 104)

  12. Keener, 131
  13. EDNT, 43
  14. EDNT, 43
  15. UBS, 52
  16. cf. Cole, 115; Garland, 71; France, 104; contra UBS, 52
  17. EDNT, 428
  18. NIDNTTE, 608, UBS, 52
  19. NIDNTTE, 608; EDNT, 428, BDAG, 1060
  20. EDNT, 428; cf. France, 104
  21. Bock, 413; Guelich, 57; cf. Stein, 89
  22. NIDNTTE, 259, 609; EDNT, 428; Bock, 413
  23. Hurtado, 27
  24. Hurtado, 27; Brooks, 50; France, 105; Stein, 88; Strauss, 92
  25. Hurtado, 28; Kernaghan, 46
  26. Witherington, 91 cf. Brooks, 51; France, 105
  27. cf. Garland, 71
  28. Brooks, 51
  29. Garland, 71
  30. cf. English, 115; France, 105; Strauss, 93
  31. Strauss, 93
  32. Strauss, 93
  33. Strauss, 93
  34. Strauss, 93
  35. Strauss, 93
  36. Brooks, 51
  37. France, 105; cf. Schnabel, 58; Strauss, 93
  38. Brooks, 51
  39. Brooks, 51; France, 105; Schnabel, 58; Strauss, 93
  40. Brooks, 51; France, 105; Schnabel, 58; Strauss, 93
  41. Brooks, 51; France, 105; Schnabel, 58; Strauss, 93
  42. Brooks, 51 cf. Garland, 71
  43. France, 105; cf. Schnabel, 58; Strauss, 93
  44. Garland, 71
  45. Witherington, 93
  46. Brooks, 51
  47. Witherington, 93
  48. Witherington, 90, 93; Brooks, 51; uncertain, Stein, 89
  49. Witherington, 93; Lane, 75; France, 105
  50. France, 100
  51. France, 100
  52. Keener, 131-132; cf. Evans, 96; Witherington, 91
  53. Keener, 132; Evans, 96
  54. Strauss, 94
  55. Keener, 132
  56. Evans, 96; cf. France, 100
  57. Keener, 132; Evans, 96; Bock, 413; Witherington, 91; Lane, 74; France, 104; Stein, 90; Strauss, 93
  58. France, 104
  59. Bock, 413
  60. EDNT, 262
  61. Bock, 413
  62. France, 105
  63. Keener, 131
  64. France, 103
  65. Strauss, 93
  66. France, 105
  67. Hurtado, 27
  68. “Notice that Jesus’ focus is on teaching and his teaching is interrupted, and only then does he respond by healing the possessed man. This is a regular pattern in Mark’s Gospel. Healings seem mostly to happen in response to a pressing need, not as part of a program Jesus set out to follow.” Witherington, 90
About @DannyScottonJr 219 Articles
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