Mark 12:38-44

Mark 12:38-44
Ordinary B50


38 As he taught,A he said, “BewareB of the scribes,C

Notes on verse 38a

A “taught” = didache. From didasko (to teach, direct, instruct, or impart knowledge; in the New Testament, almost always used for teaching scripture); from dao (to learn). This is teaching or doctrine.
B “beware” = blepo. This is literally to see – it is primarily used in the physical sense. However, figuratively it can be seeing, which includes attention and so to watchfulness, being observant, perceiving, and acting on the visual information. It can also mean beware.
C “scribes” = grammateus. From gramma (what is drawn or written so a letter of the alphabet, correspondence, literature, learning); from grapho (to write). This is a writer, scribe, or secretary. Within Judaism, it was someone learned in the Law, a teacher. Also used in the Bible of the town-clerk of Ephesus. See Sirach 38:24-39:11 for a lengthier, positive passage about who scribes were and what they meant in society.

who likeD to walk aroundE in long robes,F and to be greetedG with respect in the marketplaces,H 

Notes on verse 38b

D “like” = thelo. This is to wish, desire, will, or intend. It is to choose or prefer in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean inclined toward or take delight in. It can have a sense of being ready to act on the impulse in question.
E “walk around” = peripateo. From peri (about, concerning, around, encompassing) + pateo (to read, trample on; to trample literally or figuratively); {from patos (trodden) OR from paio (to strike, smite, sting; a hit like a single blow)}. This is to walk. Going from Hebrew figurative language, to walk referred to how you conducted your life, how you chose to live. This word is most literally walking around. Figuratively, it is living, behaving, following, how you occupy yourself. This is where “peripatetic” comes from.
F “robes” = stole. 9x in NT–the scribes who want to be greeted with respect in marketplaces (Mk 12:13; Lk 20:46), the angel presenting as a young man at the resurrection (Mk 16:5), the robe brought for the prodigal son (Lk 15:22), and the attire of the martyrs and saints in heaven in Revelation 6, 7, and 22. From stello (to set, arrange, prepare, provide for); {probably from histemi (to stand, place, set up, establish, stand firm)}. This is clothing, in particular a long, flowing robe associated with elites.
G “be greeted” = aspasmos. 10x in NT. From aspazomai (to welcome, salute, or greet. It can also be to embrace or acclaim); {perhaps from a (with, together with) + a form of spao (to draw, draw out, pull)}. This is a greeting whether face to face or in a letter.
H “marketplaces” = agora. 11x in NT. From ageiro (to gather). This is assembly, forum, marketplace, town square, thoroughfare. This is where “agoraphobia” comes from.

39 and to have the best seatsI in the synagoguesJ and places of honorK at banquets!L 

Notes on verse 39

I “best seats” = protokathedria. 4x in NT – all in parallel passages in the gospels. From protos (what is first, which could be the most important, the first in order, the main one, the chief); {from pro (before, first, in front of, earlier)} + kathedra (a seat or bench in a literal or figurative sense); {from kata (down, against, according to, among) + the same as hedraios (sitting, well-seated, immovable; figuratively, steadfast, firm, morally fixed); {from hedra (seat)}}. This is the best or most honorable seat – the one who sits down first or who sits up front.
J “synagogues” = sunagoge. From sun (with, together with, closely associated) + ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide, go, drive). Literally, this is a bringing together, a place of assembly. The term can be used for the people or for the place where they assemble. It is also sometimes used of Christian churches in the New Testament. So, this is synagogue, assembly, congregation, or church. This is where the word “synagogue” comes from.
K “places of honor” = protoklisia. Related to “best seats” in v39. 5x in NT. From protos (se note I above) + klisia (a place where one reclines; a dining couch or a group of people eating together); {from klino (to slant, rest, recline, approach an end, wear; to bend in a literal or figurative sense – to lay down, a day ending, causing an opposing army to flee)}. This is literally reclining first. It can refer to the chief place or the place with the most honor – highest, preeminent.
L “banquets” = deipnon. 16x in NT. From the same as dapane (cost or expense); from dapto (to devour). This is a dinner or a feast – a meal in the afternoon or, more commonly, the evening.

40 They devourM widows’N housesO and for the sake of appearanceP say longQ prayers.R

Notes on verse 40a

M “devour” = katesthio. 15x in NT. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + esthio (to eat or figuratively to devour or consume like rust). This is to eat up, to consume totally so that there is nothing left. It can also be to annoy, injure, or squander.
N “widows’” = chera. Perhaps from the base of chasma (chasm, gap, gulf); from chasko (to yawn). This is widow literally or figuratively.
O “houses” = oikia. From oikos (house – the building, the household, the family, descendants; the temple). This is a house, household, goods, property, family, or means.
P “for the sake of appearance” = prophasis. 7x in NT. From pro (before, ahead, earlier than, above) + phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear). This is outward appearance, pretense, excuse, pretext.
Q “long” = makros. 6x in NT. This is long, far away, lasting a long time.
R “say…prayers” = proseuchomai. From pros (advantageous for, at, toward) + euchomai (to wish, make a request, pray). This is to pray or pray for, to worship or supplicate. It is more literally exchanging one’s own wishes for God’s.

They will receiveS the greaterT condemnation.”U

Notes on verse 40b

S “receive” = lambano. It does not refer to passive receiving of something, but active acceptance or taking of something whether it is offered or simply nearby. It focuses on individual decision and action.
T “greater” = perissos. From peri (all-around, encompassing, excess). This is abundant, more, excessive, advantage, vehemently.
U “condemnation” = krima. From krino (to judge, decide, think good, condemn, determine, pass judgment, stand trial, sue; judging whether in court or in a private setting; properly, mentally separating or distinguishing an issue – to come to a choice or decision, to judge positively or negatively in seeking what is right or wrong, who is innocent or guilty; can imply trying, condemning, punishing, or avenging). This is judgment, sentence, verdict. Sometimes, this can have a negative sense – condemnation. It is the decision and the full force of its effect negative and positive.

41 He sat downV opposite the treasury,W and watchedX the crowd puttingY moneyZ into the treasury.

Notes on verse 41a

V “sat down” = kathizo. From kathezomai (to sit down, be seated); {from kata (down, against, according to, among) + hezomai (to sit); {from aphedron (a seat, a base)}}. This is to sit, set, appoint, stay, rest.
W “treasury” = gazophulakion. 5x in NT. From gaza (treasure, treasury, riches) [Persian origin] + pulake (guard, watch, keeping guard, imprisonment); {from phulasso (to guard, protect, preserve through vigilance)}. This is a court in the Temple area that had collection boxes for offerings. In Nehemiah, it also refers to a storage space for public records.
X “watched” = theoreo. From theaomai (to behold, look upon, see, contemplate, visit); from thaomai (to gaze at a spectacle; to look at or contemplate as a spectator; to interpret something in efforts to grasp its significance); from theoros (a spectator or envoy). This is gazing, beholding, experiencing, discerning. It is looking at something to analyze it and concentrate on what it means. This is the root of the word “theatre” in that people concentrate on the action of the play to understand its meaning.
Y “putting” = ballo. This is to throw, cast, rush, place, or drop. It is throwing, but it could be with more or less velocity and with more or less force/violence.
Z “money” = chalkos. 5x in NT. Perhaps from chalao (let down, slacken, loosen). This is copper or bronze. Can also mean things made of brass – money, instruments.

ManyAA richBB people put in large sums.CC 

Notes on verse 41b

AA “many” = polus. This is much, often, plenteous – a large number or a great extent.
BB “rich” = plousios. Perhaps related to “many” in v41. From ploutos (abundance, wealth, or riches; money, possessions, spiritual abundance, or a valuable bestowment); from polus (see note AA above) OR pleo (to sail, voyage); {probably from pluno (to plunge – so to wash); from pluo (to flow)} OR pletho (to fill, accomplish, supply; to fill to maximum capacity). This is wealthy, having full resources. It can be a rich person or refer to God’s abundance.
CC “large sums” = polus. Same as “many” in v41. See note AA above.

42 ADD poorEE widow came and put in twoFF small copper coins,GG which are worth a penny.HH 

Notes on verse 42

DD “a” = heis. This is one, a person, only, some.
EE “poor” = ptochos. From ptosso (to crouch or cower as a beggar does). This is poor or destitute – someone who is extremely poor and bowed down because of a long struggle under poverty. Properly, it means bent over so figuratively it is someone who is deeply destitute and lacking tangible resources. This is a beggar – as extremely opposite a wealthy person as possible.
FF “two” = duo. This is two or both.
GG “small copper coins” = leptos. 3x in NT. From lepo (to peel) from the same as lepis (a scale of a fish or flaky substance from the body). This word can mean peeled, fine, thin, small, light. So, this would be a very small piece of money, likely the smallest possible unit as insubstantial as a fish scale.
HH “penny” = kodrontes. 2x in NT. A Latin root from quattuor (four). This is a quadrans in Latin, which is one fourth of an assarion (smallest Roman coin).

43 Then he calledII his disciplesJJ and said to them, “TrulyKK I tell you, this poor widow has put in moreLL than all those who are contributingMM to the treasury. 

Notes on verse 43

II “called” = proskaleo. From pros (at, to, toward, with) + kaleo (to call by name, invite, to name, bid, summon, call aloud); {related to keleuo (to command, order, direct); from kelomai (to urge on)}. This is to call to oneself, summon.
JJ “disciples” = mathetes. From matheteuo (to make a disciple of); from manthano (to learn key facts, gain knowledge from experience; generally implies reflection as part of the learning process); from math– (thinking things through). This is a disciple, learner, or student. It is where we get “mathematics” from.
KK “truly” = amen. From Hebrew amen (verily, truly, amen, truth, so be it, faithfulness); from aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This word is literally firmness, but figuratively fidelity, faithfulness, honesty, responsibility, trust, truth, steadfastness. Properly, it is to be sure, certain, or firm. This is a word of emphasis indicating that something crucial follows.
LL “more” = pleios. Related to “many” and “rich” in v41. From polus (see note AA above). This is having greater value, more, many.
MM “contributing” = ballo. Same as “putting” in v41. See note Y above.

44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance;NN but she out of her povertyOO has put in everything she had, allPP she had to liveQQ on.”

Notes on verse 44

NN “abundance” = perisseuo. Related to “greater” in v40. From perissos (see note T above). This is more than what is ordinary or necessary. It is abounding, overflowing, being leftover, going above and beyond. It is super-abounding in number or quality.
OO “poverty” = husteresis. 2x in NT. From hustereo (to come late, be behind, come short, be lacking, suffer need, be inferior to); from hutsteros (last, at the end); from hupo (by, under, about; under authority). This word is poverty, need, or want.
PP “all” = holos. This is whole, complete, or entire. It is a state where every member is present and functioning in concert. This is the root of the word “whole.”
QQ “live” = bios. 10x in NT. This is physical life, livelihood, goods, or the way one lives one’s life.

Image credit: “The WIdow who Gave Two Mites” by LUMO Project.

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