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Mark 12 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Parable of the Tenants

12 And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. When the season came, he sent a servant[a] to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not read this Scripture:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;[b]
11 this was the Lord's doing,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

12 And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.

Paying Taxes to Caesar

13 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances,[c] but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius[d] and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar's.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” And they marveled at him.

The Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

18 And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, 19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man[e] must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22 And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. 23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”

24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

The Great Commandment

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Whose Son Is the Christ?

35 And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
    until I put your enemies under your feet.”’

37 David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.

Beware of the Scribes

38 And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces 39 and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 40 who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

The Widow's Offering

41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.[f] 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”


  1. Mark 12:2 Or bondservant; also verse 4
  2. Mark 12:10 Greek the head of the corner
  3. Mark 12:14 Greek you do not look at people's faces
  4. Mark 12:15 A denarius was a day's wage for a laborer
  5. Mark 12:19 Greek his brother
  6. Mark 12:42 Greek two lepta, which make a kodrantes; a kodrantes (Latin quadrans) was a Roman copper coin worth about 1/64 of a denarius (which was a day's wage for a laborer)
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Mark 12 The Voice (VOICE)

The religious leaders ask Jesus where His authority comes from. What gives Him the right to heal people on the Sabbath, teach about God, do miracles, and cast out demons? Who exactly does He think He is—and where does His authority come from? This question is a trap: if He claims His authority is from God, then they can argue that God does not endorse someone who breaks His laws; but if He says His authority is His own, then He will be in trouble with the crowds and perhaps even with the Roman governor.

Jesus, however, issues a challenge: I’ll tell you what you want to know if you’ll answer My question first. But He asks them an impossible question—impossible not because they don’t know the answer, but because they cannot say the answer.

12 Then He told a story.

Jesus: There was a man who established a vineyard. He put up a wall around it to fence it in; he dug a pit for a winepress; he built a watchtower. When he had finished this work, he leased the vineyard to some tenant farmers and went away to a distant land.

When the grapes were in season, he sent a slave to the vineyard to collect his rent—his share of the fruit. But the farmers grabbed the slave, beat him, and sent him back to his master empty-handed. The owner sent another slave, and this slave the farmers beat over the head and sent away dishonored. A third slave, the farmers killed. This went on for some time, with the farmers beating some of the messengers and killing others until the owner had lost all patience. He had a son whom he loved above all things, and he said to himself, “When these thugs see my son, they’ll know he carries my authority. They’ll have to respect him.”

But when the tenant farmers saw the owner’s son coming, they said among themselves, “Look at this! It’s the son, the heir to this vineyard. If we kill him, then the land will be ours!” So they seized him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.

Now what do you suppose the owner will do when he hears of this? He’ll come and destroy these farmers, and he’ll give the land to others.

10 Haven’t you read the Scriptures? As the psalmist says,

    The stone that the builders rejected
        has become the very stone that holds together the entire foundation.
11     This is the work of the Eternal One,
        and it is marvelous in our eyes.[a]

12 The priests, scribes, temple leaders, and elders knew the story was directed against them. They couldn’t figure out how to lay their hands on Jesus then because they were afraid the people would rise up against them. So they left Him alone, and they went away furious.

The leaders are stunned to learn they will face judgment themselves. It goes against everything they believe about themselves and about God.

13 Then some Pharisees and some of Herod’s supporters banded together to try to entrap Jesus. 14 They came to Him and complimented Him.

Pharisees: Teacher, we know You are truthful in what You say and that You don’t play favorites. You’re not worried about what anyone thinks of You, so You teach with total honesty what God would have us do. So tell us: is it lawful that we Jews should pay taxes to the Roman emperor or not? 15 Should we give or not?

Jesus (seeing through their ruse): Why do you test Me like this? Listen, bring Me a coin[b] so that I can take a look at it.

16 When they had brought it to Him, He asked them another question.

Jesus: Tell Me, whose picture is on this coin? And of whom does this inscription speak?

Pharisees: Caesar, of course.

Jesus: 17 Then give to the emperor what belongs to the emperor. And give to God what belongs to God.

They could not think of anything to say to His response.

Jesus turns the question back on them. It isn’t about taxes. It is about knowing and being faithful to the one true God.

18 Later a group of Sadducees, Jewish religious leaders who didn’t believe the dead would be resurrected, came to test Jesus.

Sadducees: 19 Teacher, the law of Moses tells us, “If a man’s brother dies, leaving a widow without sons, then the man should marry his sister-in-law and try to have children with her in his brother’s name.”[c]

20 Now here’s the situation: there were seven brothers. The oldest took a wife and left her a widow with no children. 21 So the next oldest married her, left her a widow, and again there were no children. So the next brother married her and died, and the next, and the next. 22 Finally all seven brothers had married her, but none of them had conceived children with her, and at last she died also.

23 Tell us then, in the resurrection [when humans rise from the dead],[d] whose wife will she be? For all seven of them married her.

Jesus: 24 You can’t see the truth because you don’t know the Scriptures well and because you don’t really believe that God is powerful. 25 The answer is this: when the dead rise, they won’t be married or given in marriage. They’ll be like the messengers in heaven, who are not united with one another in marriage. 26 But how can you fail to see the truth of resurrection? Don’t you remember in the Book of Moses how God talked to Moses out of a burning bush and what God said to him then? “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”[e] “I am,” God said. Not “I was.” 27 So God is not the God of the dead but of the living. You are sadly mistaken.

28 One of the scribes who studied and copied the Hebrew Scriptures overheard this conversation and was impressed by the way Jesus had answered.

Scribe: Tell me, Teacher. What is the most important thing that God commands in the law?

Jesus: 29 The most important commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Eternal One is our God, and the Eternal One is the only God. 30 You should love the Eternal, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”[f] 31 The second great commandment is this: “Love others in the same way you love yourself.”[g] There are no commandments more important than these.

Although Jesus is asked for only the single most important commandment, He answers by naming two commands: love God and love others. He includes both because these two teachings can never be really separated from each other. Some people think they can love God and ignore the people around them, but Jesus frequently makes it clear that loving God apart from loving His people is impossible.

Scribe: 32 Teacher, You have spoken the truth. For there is one God and only one God, 33 and to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves are more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice we could ever give.

34 Jesus heard that the man had spoken with wisdom.

Jesus: Well said; if you understand that, then the kingdom of God is closer than you think.

Nobody asked Jesus any more questions after that.

35 Later Jesus was teaching in the temple.

Jesus: Why do the scribes say that the Anointed One is the son of David? 36 In the psalms, David himself was led by the Holy Spirit to sing,

    The Master said to my master,
        “Sit at My right hand,
        in the place of power and honor,
    And I will gather Your enemies together,
        lead them in on hands and knees,
        and You will rest Your feet on their backs.”[h]

37 If David calls Him “Master,” how can He be his son?

The crowd listened to Him with delight.

Jesus: 38 Watch out for the scribes who act so religious—who like to be seen in pious clothes and to be spoken to respectfully in the marketplace, 39 who take the best seats in the synagogues and the place of honor at every dinner, 40 who spend widows’ inheritances and pray long prayers to impress others. These are the kind of people who will be condemned above all others.

41 Jesus sat down opposite the treasury, where people came to bring their offerings, and He watched as they came and went. Many rich people threw in large sums of money, 42 but a poor widow came and put in only two small coins[i] worth only a fraction of a cent.[j]

Jesus (calling His disciples together): 43 Truly this widow has given a greater gift than any other contribution. 44 All the others gave a little out of their great abundance, but this poor woman has given God everything she has.


  1. 12:10–11 Psalm 118:22–23
  2. 12:15 Literally, denarius, a Roman coin
  3. 12:19 Deuteronomy 25:5
  4. 12:23 Some manuscripts omit this portion.
  5. 12:26 Exodus 3:6, 15
  6. 12:30 Deuteronomy 6:4–5
  7. 12:31 Leviticus 19:18
  8. 12:36 Psalm 110:1
  9. 12:42 Literally lepta, a Roman coin worth an insignificant amount
  10. 12:42 Literally, kodrantes, a Roman penny
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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