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Mark 10:17-31

Context
The Rich Man

10:17 Now 1  as Jesus 2  was starting out on his way, someone ran up to him, fell on his knees, and said, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 3  10:18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? 4  No one is good except God alone. 10:19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” 5  10:20 The man 6  said to him, “Teacher, I have wholeheartedly obeyed 7  all these laws 8  since my youth.” 9  10:21 As Jesus looked at him, he felt love for him and said, “You lack one thing. Go, sell whatever you have and give the money 10  to the poor, and you will have treasure 11  in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 10:22 But at this statement, the man 12  looked sad and went away sorrowful, for he was very rich. 13 

10:23 Then 14  Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 10:24 The disciples were astonished at these words. But again Jesus said to them, 15  “Children, how hard it is 16  to enter the kingdom of God! 10:25 It is easier for a camel 17  to go through the eye of a needle 18  than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 10:26 They were even more astonished and said 19  to one another, “Then 20  who can be saved?” 21  10:27 Jesus looked at them and replied, “This is impossible for mere humans, 22  but not for God; all things are possible for God.”

10:28 Peter began to speak to him, “Look, 23  we have left everything to follow you!” 24  10:29 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, 25  there is no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the gospel 10:30 who will not receive in this age 26  a hundred times as much – homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, fields, all with persecutions 27  – and in the age to come, eternal life. 28  10:31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

1 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic.

2 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

sn Mark 10:17-31. The following unit, Mark 10:17-31, can be divided up into three related sections: (1) the rich man’s question (vv. 17-22); (2) Jesus’ teaching on riches and the kingdom of God (vv. 23-27); and (3) Peter’s statement and Jesus’ answer (vv. 28-31). They are all tied together around the larger theme of the relationship of wealth to the kingdom Jesus had been preaching. The point is that it is impossible to attain to the kingdom by means of riches. The passage as a whole is found in the section 8:27-10:52 in which Mark has been focusing on Jesus’ suffering and true discipleship. In vv. 28-31 Jesus does not deny great rewards to those who follow him, both in the present age and in the age to come, but it must be thoroughly understood that suffering will be integral to the mission of the disciples and the church, for in the very next section (10:32-34) Jesus reaffirmed the truth about his coming rejection, suffering, death, and resurrection.

3 sn The rich man wanted to know what he must do to inherit eternal life, but Jesus had just finished teaching that eternal life was not earned but simply received (10:15).

4 sn Jesus’ response, Why do you call me good?, was designed to cause the young man to stop and think for a moment about who Jesus really was. The following statement No one is good except God alone seems to point the man in the direction of Jesus’ essential nature and the demands which logically follow on the man for having said it.

5 sn A quotation from Exod 20:12-16; Deut 5:16-20, except for do not defraud, which is an allusion to Deut 24:14.

6 tn Grk “He”; the referent (the man who asked the question in v. 17) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

7 tn Grk “kept.” The implication of this verb is that the man has obeyed the commandments without fail throughout his life, so the adverb “wholeheartedly” has been added to the translation to bring out this nuance.

8 tn Grk “these things.” The referent of the pronoun (the laws mentioned by Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

sn While the rich man was probably being sincere when he insisted I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws, he had confined his righteousness to external obedience. The rich man’s response to Jesus’ command to give away all he had revealed that internally he loved money more than God.

9 sn Since my youth. Judaism regarded the age of thirteen as the age when a man would have become responsible to live by God’s commands.

10 tn The words “the money” are not in the Greek text, but are implied. Direct objects were often omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

11 sn The call for sacrifice comes with a promise of eternal reward: You will have treasure in heaven. Jesus’ call is a test to see how responsive the man is to God’s direction through him. Will he walk the path God’s agent calls him to walk? For a rich person who got it right, see Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10.

12 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the man who asked the question in v. 17) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

13 tn Grk “he had many possessions.” This term (κτῆμα, kthma) is often used for land as a possession.

14 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

15 tn Grk “But answering, Jesus again said to them.” The participle ἀποκριθείς (apokriqeis) is redundant and has not been translated.

16 tc Most mss (A C D Θ Ë1,13 28 565 2427 Ï lat sy) have here “for those who trust in riches” (τοὺς πεποιθότας ἐπὶ [τοῖς] χρήμασιν, tou" pepoiqota" epi [toi"] crhmasin); W has πλούσιον (plousion) later in the verse, producing the same general modification on the dominical saying (“how hard it is for the rich to enter…”). But such qualifications on the Lord’s otherwise harsh and absolute statements are natural scribal expansions, intended to soften the dictum. Further, the earliest and best witnesses, along with a few others (א B Δ Ψ sa), lack any such qualifications. That W lacks the longer expansion and only has πλούσιον suggests that its archetype agreed with א B here; its voice should be heard with theirs. Thus, both on external and internal grounds, the shorter reading is preferred.

17 tc A few witnesses (Ë13 28 579 pc) read κάμιλον (kamilon, “rope”) for κάμηλον (kamhlon, “camel”), either through accidental misreading of the text or intentionally so as to soften Jesus’ words.

18 sn The referent of the eye of a needle is a sewing needle. (The gate in Jerusalem known as “The Needle’s Eye” was built during the middle ages and was not in existence in Jesus’ day.) Jesus was speaking rhetorically to point out that apart from God’s intervention, salvation is impossible (v. 27).

19 tn Grk “But they were even more astonished, saying.” The participle λέγονες (legontes) has been translated here as a finite verb to emphasize the sequence of events: The disciples were astonished, then they spoke.

20 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of thought.

21 sn The assumption is that the rich are blessed, so if they risk exclusion, who is left to be saved?

22 tn The plural Greek term ἄνθρωποις (anqrwpois) is used here in a generic sense, referring to both men and women (cf. NASB 1995 update, “people”). Because of the contrast here between mere mortals and God (“impossible for men…all things are possible for God”) the phrase “mere humans” has been used in the translation.

23 sn Peter wants reassurance that the disciples’ response and sacrifice has been noticed.

24 tn Grk “We have left everything and followed you.” Koine Greek often used paratactic structure when hypotactic was implied.

25 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.”

26 tn Grk “this time” (καιρός, kairos), but for stylistic reasons this has been translated “this age” here.

27 tn Grk “with persecutions.” The “all” has been supplied to clarify that the prepositional phrase belongs not just to the “fields.”

28 sn Note that Mark (see also Matt 19:29; Luke 10:25, 18:30) portrays eternal life as something one receives in the age to come, unlike John, who emphasizes the possibility of receiving eternal life in the present (John 5:24).



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