New English Translation
2 Six days later[e] Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John and led them alone up a high mountain privately. And he was transfigured before them,[f] 3 and his clothes became radiantly white, more so than any launderer in the world could bleach them. 4 Then Elijah appeared before them along with Moses,[g] and they were talking with Jesus. 5 So[h] Peter said to Jesus,[i] “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three shelters[j]—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 (For they were afraid, and he did not know what to say.)[k] 7 Then[l] a cloud[m] overshadowed them,[n] and a voice came from the cloud, “This is my one dear Son.[o] Listen to him!”[p] 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down from the mountain, he gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept this statement to themselves, discussing what this rising from the dead meant.
11 Then[q] they asked him,[r] “Why do the experts in the law[s] say that Elijah must come first?” 12 He said to them, “Elijah does indeed come first, and restores all things. And why is it written that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be despised? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has certainly come, and they did to him whatever they wanted, just as it is written about him.”
The Disciples’ Failure to Heal
14 When they came to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and experts in the law[t] arguing with them. 15 When the whole crowd saw him, they were amazed and ran[u] at once and greeted him. 16 He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 A member of the crowd said to him, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that makes him mute. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to cast it out, but[v] they were not able to do so.”[w] 19 He answered them,[x] “You[y] unbelieving[z] generation! How much longer[aa] must I be with you? How much longer must I endure[ab] you?[ac] Bring him to me.” 20 So they brought the boy[ad] to him. When the spirit saw him, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He[ae] fell on the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus[af] asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if you are able to do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 Then Jesus said to him, “‘If you are able?’[ag] All things are possible for the one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the boy cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
25 Now when Jesus saw that a crowd was quickly gathering, he rebuked[ah] the unclean spirit,[ai] saying to it, “Mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 It shrieked, threw him into terrible convulsions, and came out. The boy[aj] looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He is dead!” 27 But Jesus gently took his hand and raised him to his feet, and he stood up.
Second Prediction of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection
30 They went out from there and passed through Galilee. But[am] Jesus[an] did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men.[ao] They[ap] will kill him,[aq] and after three days he will rise.”[ar] 32 But they did not understand this statement and were afraid to ask him.
Questions About the Greatest
33 Then[as] they came to Capernaum.[at] After Jesus[au] was inside the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 After he sat down, he called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes[av] one of these little children[aw] in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
On Jesus’ Side
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, because no one who does a miracle in my name will be able soon afterward to say anything bad about me. 40 For whoever is not against us is for us. 41 For I tell you the truth,[ax] whoever gives you a cup of water because[ay] you bear Christ’s[az] name will never lose his reward.
42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone[ba] tied around his neck and to be thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off! It is better for you to enter into life crippled than to have[bb] two hands and go into hell,[bc] to the unquenchable fire.[bd] 45 If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off! It is better to enter life lame than to have[be] two feet and be thrown into hell.[bf] 47 If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out![bg] It is better to enter into the kingdom of God[bh] with one eye than to have[bi] two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm never dies and the fire is never quenched. 49 Everyone will be salted with fire.[bj] 50 Salt[bk] is good, but if it loses its saltiness,[bl] how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
- Mark 9:1 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amēn), I say to you.”
- Mark 9:1 tn The Greek negative here (οὐ μή, ou mē) is the strongest possible.
- Mark 9:1 tn Grk “will not taste.” Here the Greek verb does not mean “sample a small amount” (as a typical English reader might infer from the word “taste”), but “experience something cognitively or emotionally; come to know something” (cf. BDAG 195 s.v. γεύομαι 2).
- Mark 9:1 sn Several suggestions have been made as to the referent for the phrase the kingdom of God come with power: (1) the transfiguration itself, which immediately follows in the narrative; (2) Jesus’ resurrection and ascension; (3) the coming of the Spirit and the inauguration of the kingdom in the present age; (4) Jesus’ second coming and the final establishment of the kingdom. The reference to after six days in 9:2 seems to some interpreters to indicate that Mark had the transfiguration in mind insofar as it was a substantial prefiguring of the consummation of the kingdom. As such, the transfiguration would have been a tremendous confirmation to the disciples that even though Jesus had just finished speaking of his death (8:31; 9:31; 10:33), he was nonetheless the promised Messiah and things were proceeding according to God’s plan. The major problem with this interpretation is that some standing here…will not experience death seems to suggest that some of the hearers would die before the arrival of the kingdom, yet there is no indication any of Jesus’ hearers died in the six days between the statement here and the transfiguration. This suggests either the coming of the Spirit as the inauguration of the kingdom or the second coming with the ultimate establishment of the kingdom are more likely referents.
- Mark 9:2 tn Grk “And after six days.”
- Mark 9:2 sn In 1st century Judaism and in the NT, there was the belief that the righteous get new, glorified bodies in order to enter heaven (1 Cor 15:42-49; 2 Cor 5:1-10). This transformation means the righteous will share the glory of God. One recalls the way Moses shared the Lord’s glory after his visit to the mountain in Exod 34. So the disciples saw Jesus transfigured, and they were getting a sneak preview of the great glory that Jesus would have (only his glory is more inherent to him as one who shares in the rule of the kingdom).
- Mark 9:4 sn Commentators and scholars discuss why Moses and Elijah are present. The most likely explanation is that Moses represents the prophetic office (Acts 3:18-22) and Elijah pictures the presence of the last days (Mal 4:5-6), the prophet of the eschaton (the end times).
- Mark 9:5 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
- Mark 9:5 tn Grk “And answering, Peter said to Jesus.” The participle ἀποκριθείς (apokritheis) is redundant and has not been translated.
- Mark 9:5 tn Or “dwellings,” “booths” (referring to the temporary booths constructed in the celebration of the feast of Tabernacles).sn Peter apparently wanted to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles or Booths that looked forward to the end and wanted to treat Moses, Elijah, and Jesus as equals by making three shelters (one for each). It was actually a way of expressing honor to Jesus, but the next few verses make it clear that it was not enough honor.
- Mark 9:6 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.
- Mark 9:7 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
- Mark 9:7 sn This cloud is the cloud of God’s presence and the voice is his as well.
- Mark 9:7 tn Grk “And there came a cloud, surrounding them.”
- Mark 9:7 tn Grk “my beloved Son,” or “my Son, the beloved [one].” The force of ἀγαπητός (agapētos) is often “pertaining to one who is the only one of his or her class, but at the same time is particularly loved and cherished” (L&N 58.53; cf. also BDAG 7 s.v. 1).
- Mark 9:7 sn The expression listen to him comes from Deut 18:15 and makes two points: 1) Jesus is a prophet like Moses, a leader-prophet, and 2) they have much yet to learn from him.
- Mark 9:11 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
- Mark 9:11 tn Grk “And they were asking him, saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant and has not been translated.
- Mark 9:11 tn Or “Why do the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 1:22.
- Mark 9:14 tn Or “and scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 1:22.
- Mark 9:15 tn Grk The participle προστρέχοντες (prostrechontes) has been translated as a finite verb to make the sequence of events clear in English.
- Mark 9:18 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.
- Mark 9:18 tn The words “to do so” are not in the Greek text, but have been supplied for clarity and stylistic reasons.
- Mark 9:19 tn Grk “And answering, he said to them.” The participle ἀποκριθείς (apokritheis) is redundant, but the phrasing of the sentence was modified slightly to make it clearer in English.
- Mark 9:19 tn Grk “O.” The marker of direct address, ὦ (ō), is functionally equivalent to a vocative and is represented in the translation by “you.”
- Mark 9:19 tn Or “faithless.”sn The rebuke for lack of faith has OT roots: Num 14:27; Deut 32:5, 20; Isa 59:8.
- Mark 9:19 tn Grk “how long.”
- Mark 9:19 tn Or “put up with.” See Num 11:12; Isa 46:4.
- Mark 9:19 sn The pronouns you…you are plural, indicating that Jesus is speaking to a group rather than an individual.
- Mark 9:20 tn Grk “him.”
- Mark 9:20 tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
- Mark 9:21 tn Grk “He”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Mark 9:23 tc Most mss (A C3 Ψ 33 M) have τὸ εἰ δύνασαι πιστεῦσαι (to ei dunasai pisteusai, “if you are able to believe”), instead of τὸ εἰ δύνῃ (to ei dunē, “if you are able”; supported by א B C* L N* Δ ƒ1 579 892). Others have εἰ δύνῃ (or δυνάσαι) πιστεῦσαι (“if you are able to believe”; so D K Θ ƒ13 28 565 al), while still others have τοῦτο εἰ δύνῃ (touto ei dunē, “if you can [do] this”; so [P45] W). The reading that best explains the rise of the others is τὸ εἰ δύνῃ. The neuter article indicates that the Lord is now quoting the boy’s father who, in v. 22, says εἴ τι δύνῃ (ei ti dunē, “if you are able to do anything”). The article is thus used anaphorically (see ExSyn 238). However, scribes could easily have overlooked this idiom and would consequently read τὸ εἰ δύνῃ as the protasis of a conditional clause of the Lord’s statement. As such, it would almost demand the infinitive πιστεῦσαι, producing the reading τὸ εἰ δύνασαι πιστεῦσαι (“if you are able to believe, all things are possible…”). But the article here seems to be meaningless, prompting other scribes to modify the text still further. Some dropped the nonsensical article, while others turned it into the demonstrative τοῦτο and dropped the infinitive. It is clear that scribes had difficulty with the initial text here, and made adjustments in various directions. What might not be so clear is the exact genealogy of the descent of all the readings. However, τὸ εἰ δύνῃ is both a hard saying, best explains the rise of the other readings, and is supported by the best witnesses. It thus rightly deserves to be considered authentic.
- Mark 9:25 tn Or “commanded” (often with the implication of a threat, L&N 33.331).
- Mark 9:25 sn Unclean spirit refers to an evil spirit.
- Mark 9:26 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the boy) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
- Mark 9:28 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
- Mark 9:29 tc Most witnesses, even early and excellent ones (P45vid א2 A C D L W Θ Ψ ƒ1,13 33 M lat co), have “and fasting” (καὶ νηστείᾳ, kai nēsteia) after “prayer” here. But this seems to be a motivated reading, due to the early church’s emphasis on fasting (TCGNT 85; cf., e.g., 2 Clem. 16:4; Pol. Phil 7:2; Did. 1:3; 7:4). That the most significant witnesses (א* B), as well as a few others (0274 k), lack καὶ νηστείᾳ, when a good reason for the omission is difficult to find, argues strongly for the shorter reading.
- Mark 9:30 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.
- Mark 9:30 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Mark 9:31 tn The plural Greek term ἀνθρώπων (anthrōpōn) is considered by some to be used here in a generic sense, referring to both men and women (cf. NRSV, “into human hands”; CEV, “to people”). However, because this can be taken as a specific reference to the group responsible for Jesus’ arrest, where it is unlikely women were present (cf. Matt 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12), the word “men” has been retained in the translation. There may also be a slight wordplay with “the Son of Man” earlier in the verse.
- Mark 9:31 tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
- Mark 9:31 tn Grk “They will kill him, and being killed, after…” The redundancy in the statement has been removed in the translation.
- Mark 9:31 sn They will kill him and after three days he will rise. See the note at the end of Mark 8:30 regarding the passion predictions.
- Mark 9:33 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
- Mark 9:33 sn Capernaum was a town located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, 680 ft (204 m) below sea level. It existed since Hasmonean times and was a major trade and economic center in the North Galilean region. The population in the first century is estimated to be around 1,500. Capernaum became the hub of operations for Jesus’ Galilean ministry (Matt 4:13; Mark 2:1). In modern times the site was discovered in 1838 by the American explorer E. Robinson, and major excavations began in 1905 by German archaeologists H. Kohl and C. Watzinger. Not until 1968, however, were remains from the time of Jesus visible; in that year V. Corbo and S. Loffreda began a series of annual archaeological campaigns that lasted until 1985. This work uncovered what is thought to be the house of Simon Peter as well as ruins of the first century synagogue beneath the later synagogue from the fourth or fifth century A.D. Today gently rolling hills and date palms frame the first century site, a favorite tourist destination of visitors to the Galilee.
- Mark 9:33 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Mark 9:37 tn This verb, δέχομαι (dechomai), is a term of hospitality (L&N 34.53).
- Mark 9:37 sn Children were very insignificant in ancient culture, so this child would be the perfect object lesson to counter the disciples’ selfish ambitions.
- Mark 9:41 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amēn), I say to you.”
- Mark 9:41 tn Grk “in [the] name that of Christ you are.”
- Mark 9:41 tn Or “bear the Messiah’s”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”sn See the note on Christ in 8:29.
- Mark 9:42 tn Grk “the millstone of a donkey.” This refers to a large flat stone turned by a donkey in the process of grinding grain (BDAG 661 s.v. μύλος 2; L&N 7.68-69). The same term is used in the parallel account in Matt 18:6.sn The punishment of drowning with a heavy weight attached is extremely gruesome and reflects Jesus’ views concerning those who cause others who believe in him to sin.
- Mark 9:43 tn Grk “than having.”
- Mark 9:43 sn The word translated hell is “Gehenna” (γέεννα, geenna), a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew words ge hinnom (“Valley of Hinnom”). This was the valley along the south side of Jerusalem. In OT times it was used for human sacrifices to the pagan god Molech (cf. Jer 7:31; 19:5-6; 32:35), and it came to be used as a place where human excrement and rubbish were disposed of and burned. In the intertestamental period, it came to be used symbolically as the place of divine punishment (cf. 1 En. 27:2; 90:26; 4 Ezra 7:36). This Greek term also occurs in vv. 45, 47.
- Mark 9:43 tc Most later mss have 9:44 here and 9:46 after v. 45: “where their worm never dies and the fire is never quenched” (identical with v. 48). Verses 44 and 46 are present in A D Θ ƒ13 M lat syp,h, but lacking in significant Alexandrian mss and several others (א B C L W Δ Ψ 0274 ƒ1 28 565 892 co). This appears to be a scribal addition from v. 48 and is almost certainly not an original part of the Greek text of Mark. The present translation follows NA28 in omitting the verse number, a procedure also followed by a number of other modern translations.
- Mark 9:45 tn Grk “than having.”
- Mark 9:45 tc See tc note at the end of v. 43.
- Mark 9:47 tn Grk “throw it out.”
- Mark 9:47 sn The kingdom of God is a major theme of Jesus’ teaching. The nature of the kingdom of God in the NT and in Jesus’ teaching has long been debated by interpreters and scholars, with discussion primarily centering around the nature of the kingdom (earthly, heavenly, or both) and the kingdom’s arrival (present, future, or both). An additional major issue concerns the relationship between the kingdom of God and the person and work of Jesus himself.
- Mark 9:47 tn Grk “than having.”
- Mark 9:49 tc The earliest mss ([א] B L [W] Δ 0274 ƒ1,13 28* 565 700 sys sa) have the reading adopted by the translation. Codex Bezae (D) and several Itala read “Every sacrifice will be salted with salt.” The majority of other mss (A C Θ Ψ M lat syp,h) have both readings, “Everyone will be salted with fire, and every sacrifice will be salted with salt.” An early scribe may have written the LXX text of Lev 2:13 (“Every sacrifice offering of yours shall be salted with salt”) in the margin of his ms. At a later stage, copyists would either replace the text with this marginal note or add the note to the text. The longer reading thus seems to be the result of the conflation of the Alexandrian reading “salted with fire” and the Western reading “salted with salt.” The reading adopted by the text enjoys the best support and explains the other readings in the ms tradition. sn The statement everyone will be salted with fire is difficult to interpret. It may be a reference to (1) unbelievers who enter hell as punishment for rejection of Jesus, indicating that just as salt preserves so they will be preserved in their punishment in hell forever; (2) Christians who experience suffering in this world because of their attachment to Christ; (3) any person who experiences suffering in a way appropriate to their relationship to Jesus. For believers this means the suffering of purification, and for unbelievers it means hell, i.e., eternal torment.
- Mark 9:50 sn Salt was used as seasoning or fertilizer (BDAG 41 s.v. ἅλας a), or as a preservative. If salt ceased to be useful, it was thrown away. With this illustration Jesus warned about a disciple who ceased to follow him.
- Mark 9:50 sn The difficulty of this saying is understanding how salt could lose its saltiness since its chemical properties cannot change. It is thus often assumed that Jesus was referring to chemically impure salt, perhaps a natural salt which, when exposed to the elements, had all the genuine salt leached out, leaving only the sediment or impurities behind. Others have suggested the background of the saying is the use of salt blocks by Arab bakers to line the floor of their ovens: Under the intense heat these blocks would eventually crystallize and undergo a change in chemical composition, finally being thrown out as unserviceable. A saying in the Talmud (b. Bekhorot 8b) attributed to R. Joshua ben Chananja (ca. a.d. 90), recounts how when he was asked the question “When salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again?” is said to have replied, “By salting it with the afterbirth of a mule.” He was then asked, “Then does the mule (being sterile) bear young?” to which he replied: “Can salt lose its flavor?” The point appears to be both are impossible. The saying, while admittedly late, suggests that culturally the loss of flavor by salt was regarded as an impossibility. Genuine salt can never lose its flavor. In this case the saying by Jesus here may be similar to Matt 19:24, where it is likewise impossible for the camel to go through the eye of a sewing needle.