Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Ordinary B40


Now when the PhariseesA and some of the scribesB who had come from JerusalemC gathered aroundD him, 

Notes on verse 1

A “Pharisees” = Pharisaios. From Aramaic peras (to divide, separate) and from Hebrew parash (to make distinct, separate, scatter). This is a Pharisee, a member of a Jewish sect active in the 1st century. Their name meant separate in the sense of wanting to live a life separated from sin. Whereas the Sadducees were part of the priestly line and inherited their religious position and responsibilities, Pharisees were regular people who studied the scriptures and offered guidance to regular folk. Sadducees were often wealthier and willing to sacrifice their identity to rub elbows with Roman society. Pharisees were often more concerned with what it meant to follow God without compromising what made them different as followers of God. Sadducees primarily believed in that which was written down (the first five books of the Bible) and Pharisees believed in the Bible and the traditions of the elders. Pharisees had a very wide range of interpretations and diversity of opinion. Their standard mode of religious engagement was lively debate with one another. To argue religion with another teacher was to recognize that they had something of value to offer.
B “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.
C “Jerusalem” = Hierosoluma. From Hebrew yerushalaim (probably foundation of peace); {from yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach) + shalem (to make amends, to be complete or sound)}. This is Jerusalem, dwelling of peace.
D “gathered around” = sunago. From sun (with, together with, closely associated) + ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide, go, drive). This is to lead together and so to assemble, bring together, welcome with hospitality, or entertain. In the sense of assembly, this is the root of the word “synagogue.”

they noticedE that some of his disciplesF were eatingG, H

Notes on verse 2a

E “noticed” = horao. To see, perceive, attend to, look upon, experience. Properly, to stare at and so implying clear discernment. This, by extension, would indicate attending to what was seen and learned. This is to see, often with a metaphorical sense. Can include inward spiritual seeing.
F “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.
G “eating” = esthio. This is to eat or figuratively to devour or consume like rust.
H {untranslated} = artos. Perhaps from airo (raise, take up, lift, remove). This is bread or a loaf. It is a loaf as raised.

with defiledI hands,J that is, without washingK them. 

Notes on verse 2b

I “defiled” = koinos. 14x in NT. From sun (with, together with). This is common, shared – something for ordinary or everyday use. It can also denote unclean, unholy, or profane – unholy rather than something reserved for a sacred purpose.
J “hands” = cheir. This is the hand in a literal sense. Figuratively, the hand is the means a person uses to accomplish things so it can also mean power, means, or instrument.
K “without washing” = aniptos. 2x in NT. From a (not, without) + nipto (to wash, particularly the hands, feet, or face; often used for ceremonial or ritual ablution); {from nizo (to cleanse)}. This is unwashed or ritually unclean.

(For the Pharisees, and all the Jews,L do not eat unless they thoroughlyM washN their hands, thus observingO the traditionP of the elders;Q 

Notes on verse 3

L “Jews” = Ioudaios. From Ioudas (Judah, Juadas); from Hebrew Yehudah (Judah, son of Jacob, his tribal descendants, a name for the southern kingdom. Literally, it means praised); probably from yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise); from yad (hand). This is Jewish, a Jew, or Judea.
M “thoroughly” = pugme. 1x in NT. From pux (fist). This is a fist or clenched hand. So, perhaps its means carefully or thoroughly.
N “wash” = nipto. Related to “without washing” in v2. 17x in NT. See note K above.
O “observing” = krateo. From kratos (strength, power, dominion; vigor in a literal or figurative sense; power that is exercised). This is being strong or mighty so, by extension, to prevail or rule. It can also mean to seize, grasp hold of and thereby control. In this sense, it means arrest.
P “tradition” = paradosis. 13x in NT. From paradidomi (literally to hand over – hence to deliver, abandon, or betray. It implies a personal involvement); {from para (from beside, by) + didomi (give, offer, place, bestow, deliver; give in a literal or figurative sense)}. This is something handed down or handed over. So, it could be some kind of instruction, ordinance, or tradition. It can be used to refer to the tradition of the elders within Judaism.
Q “elders” = presbuteros. From presbus (old man). This is an elder as one of the Sanhedrin and also in the Christian assembly in the early church.

4 and they do not eat anything from the marketR unless they washS it; and there are also manyT otherU traditionsV that they observe,

Notes on verse 4a

R “market” = agora. 11x in NT. From ageiro (to gather). This is assembly, forum, marketplace, town square, thoroughfare. This is where “agoraphobia” comes from.
S “wash” = baptizo. From bapto (to dip or dye; to entirely cover with liquid, to stain). This is to submerge, wash, or immerse. Used specially for baptism.
T “many” = polus. This is much, often, plenteous – a large number or a great extent.
U “other” = allos. This is other, another. Specifically, it is another of a similar kind or type. There is a different word in Greek that speaks of another as a different kind (heteros).
V “traditions” = paralambano. From para (beside, by, in the presence of) + lambano (active acceptance/taking of what is available or what has been offered; emphasizes the choice and action of the individual). This is to receive, take, acknowledge, associate with. It can also mean to take on an office or to learn.

the washingW of cups,X pots,Y and bronzeZ kettles.)AA 

Notes on verse 4b

W “washing” = baptismos. Related to “wash” in v4. 5x in NT. From baptizo (see note S above). This is a washing or dipping. It can also refer to ritual washing, i.e. baptism.
X “cups” = poterion. From pino (to drink literally or figuratively). This is a drinking vessel. Figuratively, it can refer to one’s lot, to fate, or to what God has in store for you.
Y “pots” = xestes. 2x in NT – both in this passage. Related to xeo (to smooth, to heat) OR from Latin sextarius (a sixth; a measurement; perhaps around a pint); {from sextus (sixth); {from sex (six) + -arius (suffix to form an adjective)}}. This is a sextarius or a pitcher. It is a unit of measurement equal to around a pint. It was also used for a jug of any size.
Z “bronze” = chalkion. 1x in NT. From chalkos (copper or bronze; things made of brass – money, instruments, etc.); perhaps from chalao (let down, slacken, loosen). This is something made of bronze or brass like a utensil or pot.
AA “kettles” = kline. 9x in NT. 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 couch, bed, mat. Either a couch laid on to eat or for sleeping.

5 So the Pharisees and the scribes askedBB him, “Why do your disciples not liveCC according to the traditionDD of the elders, but eatEE with defiled hands?” 

Notes on verse 5

BB “asked” = eperotao. From epi (on, upon, against, what is fitting) + erotao (asking a question or making an earnest request; used when one anticipates special consideration for their request); {from eromai (to ask) OR from ereo (to say, tell, call, speak of)}. This is to question, interrogate, seek, or demand. The questioner is at an advantage – in a preferred position when they make their question.
CC “live” = 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.
DD “tradition” = paradosis. Same as “tradition” in v3. See note P above.
EE {untranslated} = artos. Same as {untranslated} in v2. See note H above.

He said to them, “IsaiahFF prophesiedGG rightlyHH about you hypocrites,II as it is written,JJ

Notes on verse 6a

FF “Isaiah” = Esaias. From Hebrew Yeshayahu (Isaiah, “salvation of the Lord”); {from yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe; to free someone) + Yah (the shortened form of the name of the God of Israel; God, Lord); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; God, Lord; the self-existent or eternal one); from havah (to become) or hayah (to be, become, happen)}}. This is Isaiah, meaning “salvation of the Lord.”
GG “prophesied” = propheteuo. From prophetes (prophet or poet; one who speaks with inspiration from God); {from pro (before, in front of, earlier than) + phemi (to declare, say, use contrasts in speaking to shed light on one point of view); {from phao (to shine) or phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear)}}. This is to prophesy, foretell, or tell forth.
HH “rightly” = kalos. From kalos (good, noble, beautiful, correct, or worthy; external signs of goodness like beauty, demonstrations of honorable character, showing moral virtues; a different word, agathos, speaks of intrinsic good). This is nobly, rightly, well-perceived, seen as appealing, morally pleasing, honorably.
II “hypocrites” = hupokrites. 18x in NT. From hupokrinomai (to answer, pretend, respond as an actor on stage; figuratively, to lie) {from hupo (by, under, about) + 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 literally an actor. Figuratively, it is someone playing out a role, which is to say, lying, pretending, or being a hypocrite. This is where the word “hypocrite” comes from.
JJ “written” = grapho. Related to “scribes” in v1. See note B above.

‘This peopleKK honorsLL me with their lips,MM
    but their heartsNN are farOO from me;

Notes on verse 6b

KK “people” = laos. This is the people or crowd – often used for the chosen people. This is where the word “laity” comes from.
LL “honors” = timao. From time (worth or perceived value; literally, price, but figuratively, the honor or value one sees in someone or something; can be esteem or dignity; can also mean precious or valuables); from tino (to pay, be punished, pay a penalty or fine because of a crime); from tio (to pay respect, value). Properly, this is setting a value or price on something, to estimate. Figuratively, it speaks to what level of honor we afford someone or something depending on our personal feeling toward it. By implication, this can mean to revere or honor.
MM “lips” = cheilos. 7x in NT. Perhaps from the same as chasma (chasm, gap, gulf); from chasko (to yawn); from chao (to gape, yawn). This is lip, edge, shore, mouth, language.
NN “hearts” = kardia. Literally the heart, but figuratively mind, character, inner self, will, intention, thoughts, feelings. Also, the center of something. The word heart is only used figuratively in the Old and New Testaments. This is where “cardiac” comes from.
OO “are far” = porro + apecho. Porro is 4x in NT. From proso (far from) OR from pro (before, ahead, earlier than, above). This is far, forwards, distant. Apecho is 19x in NT.  From apo (from, away from) + echo (to have, hold, possess). This is to be distant, have fully, abstain, be paid, be distant, be enough. It is having something by detaching it from something else or releasing something else.

in vainPP do they worshipQQ me,
    teachingRR humanSS preceptsTT as doctrines.’UU

Notes on verse 7

PP “in vain” = maten. 2x in NT. From mate (a folly) OR from the base of massaomai (to chew, gnaw); {from masso (to kneed, squeeze)}. This is in vain, aimlessly, pointless, fruitless.
QQ “worship” = sebo. 10x in NT. This is to worship, revere, adore, be devout. Properly this is personally placing a high value on someone or something, showing respect.
RR “teaching” = didasko. From dao (learn). This is to teach, direct, instruct, or impart knowledge. In the New Testament, this is almost always used for teaching scripture.
SS “human” = anthropos. Related to “noticed” in v2. Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face); {from optanomai (to appear, be seen); perhaps from horao (see note E above)}. This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.
TT “precepts” = entalma. 3x in NT. From entellomai (to charge, command, give orders or instructions) {from en (in, on, at, by, with) + tellomai (to accomplish) [from telos (an end, aim, purpose, completion, end goal, consummation, tax; going through the steps to complete a stage or phase and then moving on to the next one)]}. This is a commandment, precept, or injunction.
UU “doctrines” = didaskalia. Related to “teaching” in v7. From didaskalos (teacher, master); from didasko (see note RR above). This is instruction – whether the act of teaching or the doctrine itself. It also implies a teaching that is not abstract, but is applied to life.

You abandonVV the commandmentWW of GodXX and holdYY to human tradition.”ZZ, AAA

Notes on verse 8

VV “abandon” = aphiemi. From apo (from, away from) + hiemi (to send). This is send away, release, permit, forgive, allow to depart, discharge, or send forth.
WW “commandment” = entole. Related to “precepts” in v7. From entellomai (see note TT above). This is an order, command, ordinance, or law. It focuses on the purpose of the command and its end result.
XX “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
YY “hold” = krateo. Same as “observing” in v3. See note O above.
ZZ “tradition” = paradosis. Same as “tradition” in v3. See note P above.
AAA Some manuscripts add, “you do the washings of vessels and cups and other things like that” = baptismos + xestes + kai + poterion + kai + allos + paromoios + toioutos + polus + poieo. Baptismos is the same as “washings” in v4. See note W above. Xestes is the same as “pots” in v4. See note Y above. Poterion is the same as “cups” in v4. See note X above. Allos is the same as “other” in v4. See note U above. Polus is the same as “many” in v4. See note T above. Poieo is to make, do, act, construct, abide, or cause.

14 Then he calledBBB the crowd again and said to them, “ListenCCC to me, all of you, and understand:DDD 

Notes on verse 14

BBB “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.
CCC “listen” = akouo. This is hear or listen, but it also means to understand by hearing. This is where the word “acoustics” comes from.
DDD “understand” = suniemi. Related to “abandon” in v8. From sun (with, together with) + hiemi (see note VV above). This is to put together – used figuratively to mean understand, consider, gain insight. It is bringing together facts or notions and synthesizing them into a whole. It is making a summary to arrive at a final conclusion that includes how to apply the insight to life. It can also imply acting piously or being wise.

15 there is nothing outside a personEEE that by goingFFF in canGGG defile,HHH

Notes on verse 15a

EEE “person” = anthropos. Same as “human” in v7. See note SS above.
FFF “going” = eisporeuomai. 18x in NT. From eis (to, into, for, among) + poreuomai (to go, travel, journey, die; refers to transporting things from one place to another; focuses on the personal significance of the destination); {from poros (passageway)}. 18x in NT. This is to enter or journey in in a literal or figurative sense.
GGG “can” = dunamai. This is to be able, or something that is possible. It can also be empowered or being powerful. The Greek word for “miracle” (dunamis) comes from this root.
HHH “defile” = koinoo. Related to “defiled” in v2. 14x in NT. From koinos (see note I above). This is to make something common i.e. treated as ordinary and so not ceremonially pure/sacred. So, it can also mean to pollute or desecrate.

but the things that come outIII, JJJ are what defile.”KKK

Notes on verse 15b

III “come out” = ekporeuomai. Related to “going” in v15. From ek (from, from out of) + poreuomai (see note FFF above). This is to go forth, depart from, be spoken, flow out, project. This word emphasizes the result a process or passage – how it impacts the person or thing.
JJJ {untranslated} = anthropos. Same as “human” in v7. See note SS above.
KKK {untranslated} = anthropos. Same as “human” in v7. See note SS above.

21 For it is from within, from the human heart, that evilLLL intentionsMMM come: fornication,NNN theft,OOO murder,PPP

Notes on verse 21

LLL “evil” = kakos. This is bad, evil, harm, ill. It is evil that is part of someone’s core character – intrinsic, rotted, worthless, depraved, causing harm. It refers to deep inner malice that comes from a rotten character. Can be contrasted with the Greek poneros, which is that which bears pain – a focus on the miseries and pains that come with evil. Also contrasting the Greek sapros, which deals with falling away from a previously embodied virtue.
MMM “intentions” = dialogismos. 14x in NT. From dialogizomai (to consider, have a back and forth debate with an uncertain conclusion; multiple confused minds reinforcing a faulty conclusion); {from dia (through, because of, across, thoroughly) + logizmai (to compute or reckon up, to count; figuratively, it is coming to a conclusion or decision using logic; taking an inventory in a literal or figurative sense); {from logos (word, statement, speech, analogy; here, word as an account or accounting; can also be a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying; a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words; by implication, a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive; can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ); from lego (to speak, tell, mention)}. This is reasoning, plotting, argument, discussion that reinforces faulty reasoning, debate.
NNN “fornication” = porneia. From porneuo (to fornicate – used figuratively for practicing idolatry or doing immoral things); from porne (prostitute, whore); from pornos (fornicator or immoral person); perhaps from pernemi (to sell off or export); related to piprasko (to sell with travel involved; to sell into slavery; to be devoted to); from perao (to travel); from peran (over, beyond). This is sexual immorality or unchastity. It could include adultery or incest.
OOO “theft” = klope. 2x in NT. From klepto (to steal secretively). This is stealing by stealth or fraud. It is not done using force or in the open.
PPP “murder” = phonos. 9x in NT. From pheno (to slay). This is killing, murder, or slaughter. It is one of the crimes that Barabbas and Saul are accused of.


22 adultery,QQQ avarice,RRR wickedness,SSS deceit,TTT licentiousness,UUU

Notes on verse 22a

QQQ “adultery” = moicheia. 3x n NT. From moicheuo (committing adultery or adultery itself; a man with a married woman or a married man with anyone other than his wife); from moichos (adulterer; a man who has been with a married woman; used figuratively of an apostate). This is adultery. It is used for the woman caught in adultery in John 8:3 (“whoever is without sin cast the first stone”).
RRR “avarice” = pleonexia. Related to “many” in v4 & “are far” in v6. 10x in NT. From pleonektes (one who covets more, covetousness, avariciousness, one who defrauds or harms others’ rights; one eager for gain); {from pleion (many, more, great, having a greater value, more excellent); from polus (see note T above) + echo (see note OO above)}. This is avarice, greed, advantage, desire for more. It can imply fraudulence or extortion.
SSS “wickedness” = poneria. 7x in NT. From poneros (bad, evil, wicked, malicious, grievous, or toilsome; properly, something that bears pain –emphasizes the miseries and pains that come with evil); from poneo (to toil); related to ponos (pain, trouble, labor, distress, suffering; toil, which implies anguish); from the base of penes (a laborer, poor person, starving or indigent person; someone who works for their living); from pernomai (working for a living; laborer, poor person; to work for daily bread); from peno (to toil to survive day by day). This is iniquity, wickedness, pain-ridden evil. It is the drudgery of evil and sin. By contrast, the Greek kakos refers to evil as part of someone’s core character. Also contrasting the Greek sapros, which deals with falling away from a previously embodied virtue. This word can mean ill, diseased, morally culpable, derelict, vicious, malicious, or guilt. It can also refer to the devil or sinners.
TTT “deceit” = dolos. 11x in NT. From dello (probably to decoy). This is literally bait, but used figuratively for treachery, stealth, guile, or deceit.
UUU “licentiousness” = aselgeia. 10x in NT. From aselges (brutal) OR from a (not) + selges (temperate). This is wantonness, shocking behavior, wanton violence, acting in an unrestrained and capricious way.

envy,VVV slander,WWW pride,XXX folly.YYY 23 All these evilZZZ things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Notes on verses 22b-23

VVV “envy” = opththalmos + poneros. Literally “evil eye.” Ophthalmos is related to “noticed” in v2 & “human” in v7. From optanomai (see note SS above). This is eye or sight. It is used figuratively for the mind’s eye, a vision, or for envy. Poneros is related to “wickedness” in v22. See note SSS above.
WWW “slander” = blasphemia. Related to “prophesied” in v6. 18x in NT.  From perhaps blapto (to harm or to hinder) + pheme (saying, news, rumor, fame) {from phemi (see note GG above)}. This is slander, blasphemy, or abusive language. It is calling something wrong that is right or calling something right that is wrong – mis-identifying what is good and bad. This is particularly used for vilifying God. This is where the word “blasphemy” comes from.
XXX “pride” = huperphaina. Related to “prophesied” in v6 & “slander” in v22. 1x in NT. From huperephanos (proud, arrogant; thinking one outshines others); {from huper (over, above, beyond) + phaino (see note GG above)}. This is disdain, pride, lifting self up, vanity.
YYY “folly” = aphrosune. 4x in NT – 1x in Mark 7 & 3x in 2 Corinthians 11. From aphron (not having reason – foolish, unperceptive, unwise; short-sightedness and lack of perspective, which leads one to act without prudence; not grasping cause and effect, willful ignorance; being rash or egotistical); {from a (not, without) + phren (diaphragm, heart, intellect, understanding; figurative for personal opinion or inner mindset; thought regulating action; sympathy, feelings, cognition); {perhaps from phrao (to rein in or curb)}}. This is foolishness, impiety, folly. It is one who does not have perspective, is morally reckless, or senseless.
ZZZ “evil” = poneros. Same as “envy” in v22. See note VVV above.

Image credit: “Clay Water Pitcher” by Serge Melki, 2009.

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