Gospel of Mark Chapter 15: 16-20, 33-34, 37-39; 16:1-8 Antique Commentary Quotes

Pulpit Commentary


And the soldiers led him away within the court, which is the Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. This was the principal court of the palace, where a large number of soldiers were always quartered. “The whole band” would be the “cohors praetoria” of Cicero; Pilate’s body-guard.

Cambridge Bible Farrar

Mark 15:17

17. clothed him with purple] Instead of the white robe, with which Herod had mocked Him, they threw around Him a scarlet sagum, or soldier’s cloak. St Matthew, Mat_27:38, calls it “a scarlet robe;” St John, Joh_19:2, “a purple robe.” It was a war-cloak, such as princes, generals, and soldiers wore, dyed with purple; “probably a cast-off robe of state out of the prætorian wardrobe,”—a burlesque of the long and fine purple robe worn only by the Emperor. Lange, iv. 357.

a crown of thorns] Formed probably of the thorny nâbk, which yet “grows on dwarf bushes outside the walls of Jerusalem.” Tristram’s Land of Israel, p. 429.

and put it about his head] In mimicry of the laurel wreath worn at times by the Cæsars.

John P. Lange

Mar_15:17. A scarlet military mantle (see on Mat_27:28) was made to represent the imperial purple; hence the designation a purple (πορφυραν), a purple robe, as Mark and John describe it. And because this is the symbolic import of the robe, there is no discrepancy. The scarlet military cloak no more required to be a real purple, than the crown of thorns required to be a real crown, or the reed a real sceptre; for the whole transaction was an ironical drama, and such a one, too, that the infamous abuse might be readily perceived through the pretended glorification. The staff must be a reed, the symbol of impotence; the crown must injure and pierce the brow; and so too must the purple present the symbol of miserable, pretended greatness: and this was done by its being an old camp mantle.

Pulpit Commentary


And they smote his head with a reed—the same reed, according to St. Matthew (Mat_27:29, Mat_27:30), which they bad first put into his right hand as a scepter, to complete the mocking symbolism—and did spit upon him (ἐνέπτυον αὐτῷ). The verb is in the imperfect; they did it again and again.

Pulpit Commentary


And when they had mocked him, they took off from him the purple, and put on him his garments. The silence of our blessed Lord during these wanton and aggravated insults is very remarkable, and also the total absence of any legal grounds for his condemnation. And they lead him out to crucify him. Assuming the palace of Pilate to have been near the gate of Jaffa, north-west of Mount Zion, and the place of crucifixion that now assigned to it, within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,—the distance would be about one-third of a mile.

Cambridge Bible Farrar

Mark 15:33

33. And when the sixth hour was come] i. e. 12 o’clock. The most mysterious period of the Passion was rapidly drawing near, when the Lord of life was about to yield up His spirit and taste of death. At this hour nature herself began to evince her sympathy with Him Whom man rejected. The clearness of the Syrian noontide was obscured, and darkness deepened over the guilty city. It is impossible to explain the origin of this darkness. The Passover moon was then at the full, so that it could not have been an eclipse. Probably it was some supernatural derangement of the terrestrial atmosphere. The Pharisees had often asked for a “sign from heaven.” Now one was granted them.

until the ninth hour] i. e. till 3 o’clock. A veil hides from us the incidents of these three hours, and all the details of what our Lord, shrouded in the supernatural gloom, underwent “for us men and for our salvation.”

Pulpit Commentary


Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani? St. Mark here uses the Aramaic form St. Matthew refers to the original Hebrew. St. Mark in all probability took his form from St. Peter. It seems from hence that our Lord was in the habit of using the vernacular speech. Why hast thou forsaken me? (εἰς τί με ἐγκατε ́λιπες;). This might be rendered, Why didst thou forsake me? It is generally supposed that our blessed Lord, continually praying upon his cross, and offering himself a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, recited the whole of the psalm (22.) of which these are the first words, that he might show himself to be the very Being to whom the words refer; so that the Jewish scribes and people might examine and see the cause why he would not descend from the cross; namely, because this very psalm showed that it was appointed that he should suffer these things.

Cambridge Bible Farrar

Mark 15:37

37. And Jesus cried with a loud voice] saying, “It is finished.” The three Evangelists all dwell upon the loudness of the cry, as it had been the triumphant note of a conqueror.

and gave up the ghost] saying, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” and then all was over. The Lord of life hung lifeless upon the Cross. “There may be something intentional in the fact that in describing the death of Christ the Evangelists do not use the neuter verb, ‘He died,’ but the phrases, ‘He gave up the ghost’ (Mar_15:37; Luk_23:46; Joh_19:30); ‘He yielded up the ghost’ (Mat_27:50); as though they would imply with St Augustine that He gave up His life, ‘quia voluit, quando voluit, quomodo voluit.’ Comp. Joh_10:18.” Farrar, life, ii p. 418 n.

the ghost] Ghost, from A. S. gâst, G. geist, = spirit, breath, opposed to body. “The word has now acquired a kind of hallowed use, and is applied to one Spirit only, but was once common.” Bible Word-Book, p. 224. Compare (a) Wyclif’s translation here, “deiede or sente out the breth;” (b) “ghostly dangers” (= spiritual dangers), “our ghostly enemy” (sour spiritual enemy), in the Catechism; (c) Bishop Andrewes’ Sermons, ii. 340, “Ye see then that it is worth the while to confess this [that Jesus is the Lord], as it should be confessed. In this sense none can do it but by the Holy Ghost. Otherwise, for an ore tenus only, our own ghost will serve well enough.” Bible English, p. 265.

Pulpit Commentary


And Jesus uttered a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. The three synoptists all mention this cry, which appears to have been something different from the words which he uttered at or about the time of his death. It was evidently something supernatural, and was so regarded by the centurion who stood by; and who had no doubt been accustomed to scenes like these. Usually the voice fails the dying, more especially when the natural forces have been weakened by long agony, as in the ease of our Lord. It seems, therefore, the right conclusion that he cried out, just before he expired, by that supernatural power which his Godhead supplied to him; and thus he showed that, although he had gone through all the pains which were sufficient in ordinary cases to produce death, yet that at length he did not die of necessity, but voluntarily, in accordance with what he had himself said, “No one taketh my life from me … I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (Joh_10:18). Victor Antiochanus, in commenting upon this chapter, says, “By this action the Lord Jesus proved that he had his whole life, and his death, in his own free power.”

Cambridge Bible Farrar

Mark 15:38

38. And the veil of the temple] the beautiful thick, costly veil of purple and gold, inwrought with figures of Cherubim, 20 feet long and 30 broad, which separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy,

was rent in twain] For the full symbolism of this see Heb_9:3; Heb_10:19. For the earthquake which now shook the city, see Mat_27:51. Such an event must have made a profound impression, and perhaps was the first step towards the change of feeling which afterwards led a great number of “the priests to become obedient to the faith” (Act_6:7).

Pulpit Commentary


And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. There were two veils—one before the holy place, and the other before the holy of holies. The holy place would correspond to what we call the nave of the church, in which the priests were continually present; the holy of holies would correspond to our chancel choir—the holiest part of the building. This was always kept closed; nor might any one enter it but the high priest, and that only once in the year, on the day of expiation. The veil which was rent at our Lord’s death was that which was placed before the holy of holies; it was called the καταπέτασμα. The outer veil was called κάλυμμα. It was the duty of the officiating priest, on the evening of the day of preparation, at the hour of evening prayer, which would correspond to the time of our Lord’s death, to enter into the holy place, where he would of course be between the two curtains, or veils, the outer veil, or κάλυμμα, and the inner veil, or καταπέτασμα It would then be his business to roll back the κάλυμμα, or outer veil, thus exposing the holy place to the people, who would be in the. outer court. And then and there they would see, to their amazement, the καραπέτασμα, the inner veil, rent asunder from the top to the bottom. These veils or curtains, according to Josephus, were each forty cubits in height and ten in breadth, of great substance, very massive, and richly embroidered with gold and purple. Now, this rending of the veil signified

(1) that the whole of the Jewish dispensation, with its rites and ceremonies, was now unfolded by Christ; and that thenceforth the middle wall of partition was broken down, so that now, not the Jews only, but the Gentiles also might draw nigh by the blood of Christ. But

(2) it further signified that the way to heaven was laid open by our Lord’s death. “When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.” The veil signified that heaven was closed to all, until Christ by his death rent this veil in twain, and laid open the way.

Cambridge Bible Farrar

Mark 15:39

39. when the centurion] in charge of the quaternion of soldiers. See above, Mar_15:24.

that he so cried out] The whole demeanour of the Divine Sufferer, the loudness of the cry, and the words He uttered, thrilled the officer through and through. Death he must have often witnessed, on the battle-field, in the amphitheatre at Cæsarea, in tumultuous insurrections in Palestine, but never before had he been confronted with the majesty of a Voluntary Death undergone for the salvation of the world. The expression of a wondrous power of life and spirit in the last sign of life, the triumphant shout in death, was to him a new revelation.

the Son of God] In an ecstacy of awe and wonder “he glorified God,” he exclaimed, “In truth this man was righteous” (Luk_23:47); nay, he went further, and declared, “This Man was a (or the) Son of God.” It is possible that on bringing the Lord back after the scourging, which he superintended, the centurion may have heard the mysterious declaration of the Jews, that by their Law the Holy One ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God (Joh_19:7). The words made a great impression on Pilate then (Joh_19:8). But now the centurion had seen the end. And what an end! All that he had dimly believed of heroes and demigods is transfigured. This man was more. He was the Son of God. Together with the centurion at Capernaum (Matthew 8) and Cornelius at Cæsarea (Acts 10) he forms in the Gospel and Apostolic histories a triumvirate of believing Gentile soldiers. The words, I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me, had been already fulfilled in the instance of the penitent malefactor. They are now true of this Roman officer. The “Lion of the tribe of Judah” was “reigning from the Tree.”

Pulpit Commentary


And when the centurion, which stood by over against him (ὁ παρετηκὼς ἐξ ἐναντίας αὐτοῦ) saw that he so gave up the ghost. The words, “so cried out,” are not in the most important authorities. It was the business of the centurion to watch all that took place, and to see that the sentence was executed. He must have been standing close under the cress; and there was that in the whole demeanour of the dying Sufferer, so different from anything that he had ever witnessed before, that it drew from him the involuntary exclamation, Truly this man was the Son of God. He had observed him through those weary hours; he had noticed the meekness and the dignity of the Sufferer; he had heard those words, so deeply impressed upon the faith and reverence of Christians, which fell from him from time to time as he hung there; and then at last he heard the piercing cry, so startling, so unexpected, which escaped him just before he yielded up his spirit; and he could come to no other conclusion than this, that he was in very deed God’s Son. It has been supposed by some that this centurion was Longiuus, who was led by the miracles which accompanied the death of Christ, to acknowledge him to be the Son of God, and to be a herald of his resurrection, and was ultimately himself put to death for the sake of Christ in Cappadocia. St. Chrysostom repeats the common report, that on account of his faith he was at last crowned with martyrdom.

Marvin Vincent

Mark 15:39

Son of God

Not the Son of God, which Rev. has retained, but a son of God. To the centurion Christ was a hero or demigod. See on Mat_27:54.

Cambridge Bible Farrar

Mark 16:1

1. And when the sabbath was past] Friday night, Saturday, and Saturday night passed away, three days according to the Jewish reckoning (comp. (a) 1Sa_30:12-13; 2Ch_10:5; 2Ch_10:12; (b) Mat_12:40; Joh_2:19; Mat_27:63), and He, Who had truly died, lay also truly buried.

bought sweet spices] Meanwhile the holy women, whom a love stronger than death had drawn to observe the spot on the evening of His burial, had returned in order that they might complete the embalming of the Body, which had necessarily been done in haste, as the Sabbath drew on (Luk_23:54).

Pulpit Commentary


And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices ἠγόρασαν ἀρώματα) that they might come and anoint him. A hasty but lavish embalming of our Lord’s sacred body had been begun on Friday evening by Joseph and Nicodemus. They had “brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight” (Joh_19:39). This would be a compound—the gum of the myrrh tree, and a powder of the fragrant aloe wood mixed together, with which they would completely cover the body, which was then swathed with linen cloths (ὀθόνια), also steeped in the aromatic preparation. Then the sindon would he placed over all. Compare the ἐνετύλιξεν, of St. Luke (Luk_23:53), as applying to the sindon, with the ἔδησαν of St. John (Joh_21:1-25 :40) as applying to the ὀθόνια. This verse records a further stage in the embalming. What had been done on the Friday evening had been done in haste, and yet sufficiently for the preservation of the sacred body, if that had been needful, from decay. The remaining work could be done more carefully and tenderly at the tomb. Observe the aorist in this verse (hJgo>rasan) “they bought;” not “they had bought.”

Adam Clarke

Mark 16:2

Very early in the morning, – This was the time they left their own houses, and by the rising of the sun they got to the tomb. As the preceding day was the Sabbath, they could not, consistently with the observances of that day, approach the tomb. See the concluding notes at the end of John.

The following observations from Lightfoot will serve to illustrate this subject.

“The distinction of the twilight among the rabbins was this: –

“I. איילחא השחרא The hinde of the morning – the first appearance. R. Chaiia Rab, and R. Simeon ben Chalaphta, travelling together on a certain morning in the valley of Arbel, saw the hinde of the morning, that its light spread the sky. R. Chaiia said, Such shall be the redemption of Israel. First, it goes forward by degrees, and by little and little; but by how much the more it shall go forward, by so much the more it shall increase. It was at that time that Christ arose, namely, in the first morning, as may be gathered from the words of St. Matthew. And to this the title of the 22d Psalm seems to have respect – על איילת השחר. See also Rev_22:16, I am the bright and morning star. And now you may imagine the women went out of their houses towards the sepulchre.

“II. משיכיר בי הכלת ללב When one may distinguish between purple color and white. From what time do they recite their phylacterical prayers in the morning? From that time that one may distinguish between purple color and white. R. Eliezer saith, Between purple color and green. Before this time was obscurum adhue caeptae lucis, the obscurity of the begun light, as Tacitus’s expression is.

“III. משיארו המזרח When the east begins to lighten.

“IV. בנץ החמה Sunrise; from the hinde of the morning going forth, until the east begins to lighten; and from the time the east begins to lighten, until sunrise, etc.

“According to these four parts of time, one might not improperly suit the four phrases of the evangelists. According to the first, Matthew’s, Τῃ επιφωσκουσῃ, As it began to dawn. According to the second, John’s, Πρωΐ σκοτιας ετι ουσης, Early in the morning when it was yet dark. To the third, Luke’s, Ορθρου βαθεως, Very early in the morning. To the fourth, Mark’s, Λιαν πρωΐ, Very early in the morning. And yet, Ανατειλαντος του ἡλιου, At the rising of the sun. For the women came twice to the sepulchre, as St. John teaches, by whom the other evangelists are to be explained; which being well considered, the reconciling them together is very easy.”

Pulpit Commentary


And very early on the first day of the week (λιάν πρωΐ́ τῇ μιᾶ τῶν σαββάτων), they come

among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the tomb? The usual form of tombs in Palestine was the following:—There was generally an approach to the tomb open to the sky; then a low entrance on the side of the rock, leading into a square chamber, on one side of which was a recess for the body, about three feet deep, with a low arch over it. The stone here referred to by the women would be the stone which covered the actual entrance into the vault. It would probably be not less than six feet in breadth and three in height. This great stone had been rolled By Joseph to the mouth of the tomb; and then he had departed. Now, as the women approached, “they were saying (ἔλεγον,) among themselves, Who shall roll us away (ἀποκυλι ́σει) the stone?” They had seen the arrangements, and had observed the size of the atone on the Friday evening. (Mar_15:47).

Pulpit Commentary


And looking up (ἀναβλε ́ψασαι) they see (θεωροῦσιν) that the stone is rolled back (ἀποκεκυ ́λισται): for it was exceeding great (μέγας σφόδρα). At this point we learn from St. John that Mary Magdalene ran away to tell Peter and John (Joh_20:2).

A.T. Robertson

Mark 16:5

Entering into the tomb (eiselthousai eis to mnēmeion). Told also by Luk_24:3, though not by Matthew.

A young man (neaniskon). An angel in Mat_28:5, two men in Luke 24. These and like variations in details show the independence of the narrative and strengthen the evidence for the general fact of the resurrection. The angel sat upon the stone (Mat_28:2), probably at first. Mark here speaks of the young man sitting on the right side (kathēmenon en tois dexiois) inside the tomb. Luke has the two men standing by them on the inside (Luk_24:4). Possibly different aspects and stages of the incident.

Arrayed in a white robe (peribeblēmenon stolēn leukēn). Perfect passive participle with the accusative case of the thing retained (verb of clothing). Luk_24:4 has “in dazzling apparel.”

They were amazed (exethambēthēsan). They were utterly (ex in composition) amazed. Luk_24:5 has it “affrighted.” Mat_28:3. tells more of the raiment white as snow which made the watchers quake and become as dead men. But this was before the arrival of the women. Mark, like Matthew and Luke, does not mention the sudden departure of Mary Magdalene to tell Peter and John of the grave robbery as she supposed (Joh_20:1-10).

Daniel Whedon

Mark 16:5

5.Entering into the sepulchre — The sepulchres of the ancient Jews were often hewn in the solid rock, and consisted usually of two or more apartments. Entering its front door, you find its first and largest apartment to be a room several feet square. From this a low door opens into another apartment, into which you descend by a flight of steps. This is the sepulchre, or place where the corpse is deposited, either in cells cut into the wall, extending lengthwise to the distance of six or seven feet, or shelves cut parallel to the room, so that the entire length of the corpse would be visible. It is probable that the sepulchre in which our Lord was deposited was of this latter kind, for the two angels seen by Mary Magdalene stood one at the head and the other at the foot, where the body of Jesus had lain. Joh_20:12. We may suppose then that the women entered the first apartment (sometimes called the court) and saw the young man at the right hand, near or within the sepulchre, at which place he could easily invite them to see where the Lord had lain. Whether the whole train of women entered or not is not certain, but probably Mary, Salome, and Joanna did enter the first apartment. Nor is it certain whether any of them complied with the invitation to enter the sepulchre to see the shelf on which the sacred body had been deposited.

Young man — A man in form but an angel in nature. It would seem that angelic beings can assume different forms, and invest themselves with apparent habiliments, and present or withdraw themselves from sight as they please. So our Lord in his resurrection body could make himself more or less known, as he chose, to his disciples. And this answers the very foolish question which some have asked: Whence did Jesus procure his resurrection garments? Sitting on the right side — At their right hand as they entered the inner chamber.

Joseph Benson

Mark 16:3-6

Mar_16:3-6. And they said, Who shall roll us away the stone — This seems to have been the only difficulty they apprehended. So they knew nothing of Pilate’s having sealed the stone, and placed a guard of soldiers there. And when they looked — Αναβλεψασαι, and having lifted up their eyes; they saw — Namely, before they arrived quite at the sepulchre; that the stone was rolled away — An angel having descended and done this, as is recorded Mat_28:2; where see the note. For it was very great — These words, the reader will observe, should be read after the third verse, with which they are connected: an instance of a similar transposition was noted on Mar_11:13. And entering into the sepulchre they saw a young man, &c. — Matthew says, this was the angel, who had rolled away the stone, and frightened the guards from the sepulchre. It seems he had now laid aside the terrors in which he was arrayed, and assumed the form and dress of a human being, in order that when the women saw him, they might be as little terrified as possible. See note on Mat_28:5-6. This is the appearance of the one angel which Matthew and Mark have described. The women, much encouraged by the agreeable news, as well as by the sweet accent with which the heavenly being spake, it seems, went down into the sepulchre, and lo, another angel appeared; this is the vision of the two angels, which Luke, Luk_24:3-4, has described as the principal vision. Probably the one sat at the head, the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. In which situation they showed themselves by-and-by to Mary Magdalene, Joh_20:12.

Daniel Whedon

Mark 16:7

7.And Peter — The Greek word for and is by critics interpreted to be equivalent to and especially. Peter is especially mentioned here, as some suppose, because he was the most eminent of the apostles; and others, because of his late denial of his Lord. According to the former view it was a token of respect; according to the latter, of compassion and restoration to favour. Both views may be combined. Without assigning to Peter any official primacy, he was pre-eminent in character. And as he had pre-eminently fallen, so now he is pre-eminently remembered and named by the angel of the Lord.

Cambridge Bible Farrar

Mark 16:7

7. go your way] Practical action must take the place of vague astonishment. There was a message to be borne.

and Peter] No wonder it is in the Gospel of St Mark we find this wondrous touch. Who afterwards would have been so likely, as the Apostle himself, to treasure up this word, the pledge of possible forgiveness, after the dreadful hours he must have spent during Friday night, Saturday, and Saturday night? What story would he have so often told to his son in the faith either in Eastern Babylon or the capital of the West?

he goeth before you] as a true Shepherd before His sheep. It is the same word which (a) He Himself used on the evening of the Betrayal, “After I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee” (Mat_26:32; Mar_14:28); which (b) is applied to the star “going before” the Magi at His nativity, and (c) to His own “going before” His Apostles on the road towards Jerusalem, where He was to suffer. See note above, ch. Mar_10:32.

Pop Comm NT Schaff

Mark 16:8

Mar_16:8. And fled from the tomb. In a tumult of excitement.

For trembling and astonishment possessed them. This was the reason of their fleeing.

And they said nothing to any one; for they were afraid. Matthew twice (Mat_28:8; Mat_28:11) speaks of their going to deliver the message, hence some explain this clause: they told no one by the way. But Mark’s words mean that they did not, immediately at least, deliver the message. The ‘fear’ spoken of by Matthew is made prominent here; joined with the fright from what they had seen was a fear that their reports would be (as they actually were) deemed ‘idle tales’ by the disciples (Luk_24:11). In this state of indecision, as they ran back, the Lord meets them (Mat_28:9-10), overcomes their fear (‘Be not afraid,’ He says), and they go on with the message, now coming from the Lord Himself. The remarkable events of that day produced mingled and indeed confused emotions. To that of fear and indecision, Mark gives prominence. Even these faithful women were full of doubt: a fact that upsets all theories resembling the Jewish falsehood, mentioned by Matthew. Strangest of all, however, would be the sudden ending of the Gospel at this point of indecision.


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