And there followed him a certain young man
Some think this was John, the beloved disciple, and the youngest of the disciples; others, that it was James, the brother of our Lord; but he does not seem to be any of the disciples of Christ, since he is manifestly distinguished from them, who all forsook him and fled: some have thought, that he was a young man of the house, where Christ and his disciples ate their passover; who had followed him to the garden, and still followed him, to see what would be the issue of things: but it seems most likely, that he was one that lived in an house in Gethsemane, or in or near the garden; who being awaked out of sleep with the noise of a band of soldiers, and others with them, leaped out of bed, and ran out in his shirt, and followed after them, to know what was the matter:
having a linen cloth cast about his naked body;
which was either his shirt in which he lay, or one of the sheets, which he took and wrapped himself in, not staying to put on his clothes: though the word "Sindon", is used both by the Targumists F4 and Talmudists F5 for a linen garment; and sometimes even for the outer garment, to which the fringes were fastened F6; and he might take up this in haste, and slip it on, without putting on any inner garment: the word "body", is not in the text, and the phrase (epi gumnou) , may be rendered, "upon his nakedness"; and answers to (twre) , in ( Genesis 9:23 ) and ( Leviticus 20:11 Leviticus 20:17 Leviticus 20:19-21 ) , and the meaning be, he had only a piece of linen wrapped about his middle, to cover his nakedness; and in this garb ran out, to see what was doing:
and the young men laid hold on him.
The Roman soldiers, who were commonly so called: so David's soldiers are called "young men", that were with him, ( 1 Samuel 21:4 1 Samuel 21:5 ) ; these attempted to lay hold on this young man, taking him to be a disciple of Christ, or one at least affected to him, and did take hold of his linen cloth. The Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions, leave out the words, "the young men". The design of Mark in relating this incident, is to show the rage and fury of these men; who were for sparing none that appeared to be or were thought to be the followers of Christ; so that the preservation of the disciples was entirely owing to the wonderful power of Christ.
F4 Targum in Psal civ. 2. & Lam ii. 20.
F5 T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 41. 1.
F6 Ib. fol 40. 1.