Mark 5 Study Notes


5:1-20 The healing of the demoniac is recorded in Mt 8:28-34 in shortened form and in Lk 8:26-39. Jesus brought calm to a raging man just as he brought calm to the raging sea.

5:1 The region where Jesus and his disciples landed is unclear.

5:2 A man is reported as “two demon-possessed men” in Mt 8:28. On unclean spirit, see note at 1:23-24.

5:3-5 Mark’s description is the most detailed in the Gospels. Three times he mentioned the tombs where the demoniac lived. They were cut from rock or were natural mountain caves. Tombs, burial places, and items associated with the dead were unclean for Jews. Though shackles and chains were repeatedly used, no one was able to restrain or subdue him. “Subdue” can refer to taming a wild animal (Jms 3:7). The man’s supernatural strength is indicated by the fact that he had torn the chains apart and smashed the shackles. The man was always crying out, his shrieks echoing among the tombs and on the mountains. He was a danger to himself and others.


Greek pronunciation [digh mah NEE zah migh]
CSB translation be demon-possessed
Uses in Mark’s Gospel 4
Uses in the NT 13
Focus passage Mark 5:1-20

The Greek verb daimonizomai comes from the noun daimonion, meaning “demon” or “evil spirit.” The verb literally means to “be demonized” and refers to the activities of demons in harassing, oppressing, and even possessing people. Though possession is not always in view when the NT mentions demonic activity, this is the case in Mk 5 where a man is described with a “Legion” of demons that Jesus cast into a herd of pigs. The loss of two thousand pigs implies an incredibly high demon-possession that explains the man’s bizarre behavior and astounding strength. The word daimonion was used in the ancient world to refer to pagan gods and lesser deities (such as stars), but the NT reveals that they are actually Satan’s followers. The verb is used only in the Gospels to demonstrate both the reality of the unseen world of spirit beings and Jesus’s absolute power over demons, regardless of the evil they cause.

5:6 From a distance does not indicate discrepancy between vv. 2 and 6. Verse 6 resumes the story from v. 2 after Mark’s description of the demon-possessed man.

5:7-8 What do you have to do with me virtually repeats the unclean spirit’s words from 1:24. The demoniac’s identification of Jesus as Son of the Most High God answered the disciples’ question from 4:41 and underscored that the spirits knew who Jesus was. Ironically the spirits asked Jesus not to torment them as they had tormented the possessed man.

5:9 My name is Legion indicated the strength of the demons. A Roman military legion consisted of about six thousand soldiers (cp. the number of pigs in v. 13). The name “Legion” thus serves to indicate a large number (because we are many), explains the supernatural strength of the man, and magnifies the fact that Jesus was the “more powerful” one (1:7) who could “enter a strong man’s house” and tie him up (3:27).

5:10 Out of the region may refer to the false idea that demons were territorial.

5:11 Pigs were unclean to Jews. Herding them was forbidden (Lv 11:7; Dt 14:8). The large herd reminds us that this event took place in a Gentile area.

5:12 In v. 10 the unclean spirits begged Jesus not to send them out of the region. In this verse they begged to be sent into unclean animals.

5:13 Drowned refers to the pigs, not the spirits (cp. Mt 12:43-44). None of the Gospel authors comments on the loss of animal life or its economic impact. The action of the demon-possessed pigs reemphasizes the self-destructive impulse caused by demon possession (Mk 5:5).

5:14-15 Sitting . . . dressed . . . in his right mind proved the man’s healing. They were afraid echoes the reaction of the disciples in 4:41. Ironically, the people were more afraid of the one who cast out demons than they were of the demoniac.

5:16-18 The spirits begged Jesus (vv. 10,12), the people of the region begged Jesus (v. 17), and now the healed man begged to stay with Jesus.

5:19-20 Jesus told the man to tell his own people . . . how much the Lord had done for him. People changed by Jesus must tell the world about his miraculous works. The Decapolis (lit “ten cities”) refers to a league of ten Greek cities spread throughout Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. They were predominantly Gentile and were largely independent from Rome.

5:21-43 The intertwined miracles involving Jairus’s daughter and the bleeding woman occur in all three Synoptic Gospels (cp. Mt 9:18-26; Lk 8:40-56). Both miracles involved uncleanness.

5:21 The other side refers to the western side of the Sea of Galilee. Mark has already recorded key ministry events by the sea (1:16-20; 2:13-15; 4:1-34). Mark’s description of Jesus’s return is virtually identical to that given in 4:1 before he crossed the lake.

5:22-23 Synagogue leaders such as Jairus were respected laymen responsible for synagogue oversight and activities. Fell at his feet and begged him earnestly shows Jairus’s desperate concern for his little daughter. Luke recorded that she was his only daughter (Lk 8:42). The ruler’s request lay your hands on her shows awareness of Jesus’s method in other healings (1:31,41; 6:5; 7:32; 8:23,25). Jairus’s word for get well also means “be saved.” The same word was used of the woman in v. 28 and in Jesus’s proclamation in v. 34.

5:24-26 The implication is that the woman suffering from bleeding was beset with vaginal bleeding, making her unclean according to OT law (Lv 15:19-33). That this had gone on for twelve years (cp. v. 42) and she had been treated by many doctors but not helped at all indicates an illness that was beyond the help of current medicine. Furthermore, she was financially depleted—she had spent everything she had.

5:27-29 The climax that has been building since v. 25 is finally reached with touched. The woman fulfilled her intent to reach out and touch Jesus. His clothing is clarified in Mt 9:20 as “the end of his robe.” Many Jews wore tassels on the corners of their outer garments (Nm 15:38-39; Dt 22:12). On instantly, see note at 1:9-11.

5:30-31 At once are the same words as “instantly” (v. 29). As soon as the woman was healed, Jesus knew that power (Gk dunamis) had gone out from him. This reaction is not reported in his other healings.

5:32-33 Fell down before him recalls the actions of Jairus (v. 22) and the demoniac (v. 6).

5:34 Only here did Jesus address someone as daughter. It reassured the trembling woman. Your faith has saved you recalls the healing of the paralytic in 2:5 and anticipates 10:52. Go in peace was the usual Hebrew blessing at dismissal (Ex 4:18; Jdg 18:6; 1Sm 1:17; 25:35; 2Sm 15:9; 2Kg 5:19; Lk 7:50; Ac 16:36; Jms 2:16). Jesus used the word affliction (v. 29) to assure the woman that her cure was permanent.

5:35 This resumes Jairus’s story (vv. 21-24) after the interruption. Precious time had been lost, with the result that the girl had died.

5:36 Jesus’s words to Jairus (only believe) are a present tense imperative, “Keep believing.”

5:37 On other important occasions (9:2; 14:33), Peter, James, and John accompanied Jesus while the other disciples waited behind (see note at 1:16-20).

5:38-39 The commotion and people weeping and wailing were typical of Middle Eastern funerals. Flute players were also present (Mt 9:23). The mourners could have been friends or hired professionals. Before even seeing the girl, Jesus declared she was not dead but asleep. This earned him much derision. He meant that her sleep was not the sleep of final death.

5:40 The laughing indicates skepticism and mockery. Those who were with him refers to Peter, James, and John (v. 37).

5:41 Taking the girl’s body by the hand technically made Jesus unclean. Talitha koum (lit “little lamb, arise!”) is Aramaic. Her spirit returned at this command (Lk 8:55).

5:42-43 That Jesus arranged for the girl to get something to eat proves his practical concern for her.