11:27 They came again to Jerusalem. 1 While Jesus 2 was walking in the temple courts, 3 the chief priests, the experts in the law, 4 and the elders came up to him 11:28 and said, “By what authority 5 are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do these things?” 11:29 Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question. Answer me and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: 11:30 John’s baptism – was it from heaven or from people? 6 Answer me.” 11:31 They discussed with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ 11:32 But if we say, ‘From people – ’” (they feared the crowd, for they all considered John to be truly a prophet). 11:33 So 7 they answered Jesus, 8 “We don’t know.” 9 Then Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you 10 by what authority 11 I am doing these things.”
2 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
3 tn Grk “the temple.”
5 tn On this phrase, see BDAG 844 s.v. ποῖος 2.a.γ.
6 tn The plural Greek term ἀνθρώπων (anqrwpwn) is probably used here (and in v. 32) in a generic sense, referring to both men and women (cf. NAB, NRSV, “of human origin”; TEV, “from human beings”; NLT, “merely human”).
sn The question is whether John’s ministry was of divine or human origin.
7 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of previous action(s) in the narrative.
8 tn Grk “answering, they said to Jesus.” The participle ἀποκριθέντες (apokriqentes) is redundant, but the syntax of the phrase has been modified to conform to English style.
9 sn Very few questions could have so completely revealed the wicked intentions of the religious leaders. Jesus’ question revealed the motivation of the religious leaders and exposed them for what they really were – hypocrites. They indicted themselves when they cited only two options and chose neither of them (“We do not know”). The point of Mark 11:27-33 is that no matter what Jesus said in response to their question they were not going to believe it and would in the end use it against him.
10 sn Neither will I tell you. Though Jesus gave no answer, the analogy he used to their own question makes his view clear. His authority came from heaven.