Mark 10 Study Notes
10:1 The words from there probably refer to Capernaum (9:33). Judea was south; across the Jordan refers to Perea or Transjordan. This latter area was under the jurisdiction of Antipas and may explain the reason for the question in v. 2.
10:2 Two major schools of thought differed on the justifications for divorce (Mt 19:3). Shammai’s school was strict; Hillel’s liberal. The Pharisees’ motive was to test Jesus (8:11; 12:15). Perhaps if this encounter occurred in Antipas’s territory, they hoped Jesus would answer as John the Baptist had done and suffer the same fate (see note at 6:16-17).
10:3-4 Jesus asked, What did Moses command you? They responded based on Dt 24:1-4, but this passage did not command divorce. It only acknowledged it, protected the woman’s rights, and prohibited a husband from remarrying his original wife if he married another woman in between. Once again the Pharisees were misusing Scripture.
|Greek pronunciation||[skahn dah LEE zoh]|
|CSB translation||cause to fall away|
|Uses in Mark’s Gospel||8|
|Uses in the NT||29|
|Focus passage||Mark 9:42-50|
The Greek verb skandalizo means “to entrap” and is related to the noun skandalon, meaning “trap” or “snare.” Symbolically, skandalizo can mean to cause [someone] to stumble or in a passive sense to take offense or fall away. Similarly, the noun skandalon can mean offense or stumbling block. In the NT, both skandalizo and skandalon always refer to offenses either given or taken in spiritual matters. Paul used skandalizo three times (1Co 8:13 [2x]; 2Co 11:29) and skandalon once (Rm 14:13) in connection with a Christian’s responsibility to other Christians. Every other use of skandalizo occurs in the Gospels. Jesus often warned about offending people or causing them to fall away, that is, doing spiritual harm to others (Mk 9:42-50; see Jn 16:1). Incredibly, Jesus himself was often the cause of the offense, for those who did not believe in him often misunderstood his words and actions (see Mt 11:6; 13:57; 15:12; 17:27; Mk 6:3; 14:27; Jn 6:61).
10:5 The phrase hardness of your hearts refers to closing one’s heart to God’s truths. Moses allowed divorce as a concession to spiritual hardness.
10:6-8 Through the use of two quotations from Genesis, Jesus moved from the later concession to God’s original intention from the beginning of creation. By quoting Gn 1:27 Jesus established that marriage is between a male and female.
10:9 Jesus emphasized that marriage is a divinely established institution. His final statement, let no one separate, refers to the husband, not a judicial court (cp. v. 11). Thus Jesus answered the question of v. 2 and ruled out divorce.
10:10 Jesus’s disciples were stunned by his teaching and asked what he meant.
10:11-12 Though Jesus appeared to associate remarriage with adultery, he did not rule out all remarriage but emphasized that if a divorce is not grounded in biblically valid reasons, subsequent marriage is adulterous. Mark did not include the exception clauses of Mt 5:32 and 19:9. This is a reminder that this passage does not contain all of Jesus’s teaching on divorce and remarriage.
10:14 This is the only place in the Gospels where Jesus was indignant (cp. 3:5). The word indicates strong anger. Jesus allowed the children to come to him, but the real point related to such as these. This saying pertains to the kind of people to whom God’s kingdom belongs.
10:15 Jesus’s second saying relates to how a person welcomes and enters the kingdom of God. A little child accepts what is given as a gift without asserting his rights or claims (cp. Mt 18:3). To enter God’s kingdom a person must accept it as a gracious gift.
10:16 The phrase taking them in his arms is one word in Greek. Jesus not only received the children, he also blessed them. The word for “blessed” is intensified, conveying Jesus’s sincerity.
10:17 The journey language continues, reminding readers that Jesus was on his final sweep toward Jerusalem (v. 1; 8:27; 9:2,30,33). Matthew (Mt 19:22) states that this man who approached Jesus was “young,” and Luke (Lk 18:18) that he was “a ruler.” Mark indicates that he was wealthy (Mk 10:22). Hence the man is referred to as “The Rich Young Ruler.” His actions—ran up, knelt down—suggest earnestness and respect. He knew he was not entitled to life after death. Verse 23 shows that eternal life and “the kingdom of God” are synonymous.
10:18 Jesus’s rebuff directed the man to God. In asserting that only God is good, Jesus did not deny his own deity. He only indicated that human judgment cannot serve as ultimate judge of good and bad.
10:21 Looking at him is an intensified form of the verb, indicating close scrutiny. Only Mark states that Jesus loved him. The phrase you lack one thing shows that human efforts at perfect obedience cannot attain eternal life. The “one thing” involved divesting himself of his possessions and becoming a disciple (1:17; 2:14). In exchange for earthly possessions, he would have treasure in heaven.
10:22 He was dismayed is a descriptive verb used only here in Mark. It means “shocked” or “appalled.” The effect of Jesus’s demand must have been visible on the young man’s face. Rather than following Jesus (v. 21), he went away, choosing his many possessions over Jesus. He is an example of 4:19 (see note at 4:14-20).
10:23 How hard it is refers to extreme difficulty. Rather than an advantage, possessions are a hindrance to entering God’s kingdom.
10:25 Jesus used a proverb for impossibility. The camel was the largest animal in Palestine, and one certainly could not squeeze through the eye of a needle.
10:26 The astonishment of Jesus’s disciples increased from “astonished” in v. 24 to even more astonished in v. 26. Be saved (Gk so-zo-) is equivalent to “enter the kingdom of God” (vv. 23-25), “eternal life” (vv. 17,30), “heaven” (v. 21), and “the age to come” (v. 30).
10:29 Truly I tell you was Jesus’s solemn oath formula. He placed equal importance on himself and the gospel.
10:30 The promised compensation (a hundred times more) covered this time (see 3:34-35) and the age to come. Following Jesus provides no protection against suffering, but the reward includes eternal life. The rich ruler sought this (v. 17) but walked away from it (v. 22).
10:32 The road trip continues (vv. 1,17; 8:27; 9:2,30,33-34). The eastern approach to Jerusalem goes up because of the city’s elevation. Jesus was walking ahead of them, showing he was not afraid of what awaited him.
10:33-34 This is Jesus’s third and most detailed prediction of his passion and resurrection. Jesus’s use of we must have frightened the disciples even further. In this final prediction, Jesus declared that the chief priests and the scribes would condemn him to death (see notes at 14:53 and 14:64) and hand him over to the Gentiles since they lacked authority to carry out the sentence (15:1-2).
10:35-45 James and John failed to realize the implications of Jesus’s suffering and death.
10:35-36 This is the only time in Mark that James and John acted on their own apart from the other disciples, and they did so selfishly. Most likely they asked Jesus to grant their request even before they spelled it out because they knew they were being selfish.
10:37 The right side was the highest position of honor, the left the second. James and John caught a glimpse of Jesus’s glory in the transfiguration (9:2-13); now they wanted more. It was their mother who suggested they make this request (Mt 20:20-21).
10:39-40 You will may predict James’s martyrdom (Ac 12:2) and John’s exile (Rv 1:9). It is for those for whom it has been prepared is a divine passive, indicating that God would decide who would receive places of honor.
10:42 That Jesus instructed all his apostles in this lesson shows that all of them struggled with the same greed that led James and John to seek places of honor.
10:43-44 Becoming great in Christian leadership means becoming a servant—that is, doing your Master’s will and humbly working for the good of others.
10:45 The greatest example of servant leadership is the Son of Man. Giving is the essence of servanthood, and Jesus gave his life as a ransom for many (cp. Is 53:10-12). “Ransom” refers to the price paid to release a slave. The words of v. 45 are crucial to Jesus’s self-understanding of his death.
10:46-52 Mark concludes the “on the road” section just as he began it—with the story of a blind man (8:22-26). This account contrasted what the blind man could see with what the disciples could not (10:35-45).
10:46 The city of Jericho lay seventeen miles northeast and 3,500 feet below Jerusalem. The large crowd was made up of Passover pilgrims.
10:47-48 This is the second time Mark identifies him as Jesus of Nazareth (1:24), and the only time in Mark that someone addressed Jesus as Son of David, a messianic designation based on 2Sm 7:11-14 (cp. Mk 11:10; 12:35-37).