Mark 3:21

21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind."

Mark 3:21 Meaning and Commentary

Mark 3:21

When his friends heard of it
Not his spiritual friends, his disciples and followers, that believed in him; but his kinsmen, as the Syriac and Ethiopic versions render the words, who were so according to the flesh; when they heard where he was, and what a crowd was about him, so that he could not so much as take the necessaries of life for his refreshment and support,

they went out to lay hold on him:
either out of their houses at Capernaum, or they went forth from Nazareth, where they dwelt, to Capernaum, to take him from this house, where he was thronged and pressed, along with them; where he might have some refreshment without being incommoded, and take some rest, which seemed very necessary: so that this was done in kindness to him, and does not design any violent action upon him, in order to take him home with them, and to confine him as a madman; though the following words seem to incline to such a sense;

for they said, he is beside himself:
some render it, "he is gone out": that is, out of doors, to preach again to the people, which they might fear would be greatly detrimental to his health, since, he had had no sleep the night before; had been much fatigued all that morning, and for the throng of the people could take no food; so that for this reason they came to take him with them, to their own habitations, to prevent the ill consequences of such constant exercise without refreshment. Moreover, though this may not be the sense of the word, yet it is not to be understood of downright madness and distraction, but of some perturbation of mind, which they imagined, or heard, he was under; and answers to a phrase frequently used by the Jews, that such an one, (wted hprjn) , "his knowledge is snatched away", or his mind is disturbed; which was sometimes occasioned by disorder of body: so it is said F26,

``a deaf woman, or one that is foolish, or blind, (hted) (hprjnvw) , or "whose mind is disturbed"; and if there are any wise women, they prepare themselves, and eat of the oblation.''

On that phrase, "whose mind is disturbed", the note of Maimonides is,

``it means a sick person, whose understanding is disturbed through the force of the disease:''

and was sometimes the case of a person when near death F1: and it was usual to give a person that was condemned to die, and going to be executed, a grain of frankincense in a cup of wine, (wted Prjtv) (ydk) , "that so his knowledge may be snatched away", or his mind disturbed F2, and: be intoxicated; that so he might not be sensible of his pain, or feel his misery; in all which cases, there was nothing of proper madness: and so the kinsmen and friends of Christ, having heard of the situation that he was in, said one to another, he is in a transport and excess of mind; his zeal carries him beyond due bounds; he has certainly forgotten himself; his understanding is disturbed; he is unmindful of himself; takes no care of his health; he will certainly greatly impair it, if he goes on at this rate, praying all night, and preaching all day, without taking any rest or food: wherefore they came out, in order to dissuade him from such excessive labours, and engage him to go with them, where he might have rest and refreshment, and be composed, and retire.


F26 Misn. Nidda, c. 9. sect. 1.
F1 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 63. 1.
F2 Ib. fol. 43. 1. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 10, fol. 198. 4.

Mark 3:21 In-Context

19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Then he went home;
20 and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat.
21 When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, "He has gone out of his mind."
22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, "He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons."
23 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan?
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.