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Mark 12:1-12

Context
The Parable of the Tenants

12:1 Then 1  he began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. 2  He put a fence around it, dug a pit for its winepress, and built a watchtower. Then 3  he leased it to tenant farmers 4  and went on a journey. 12:2 At harvest time he sent a slave 5  to the tenants to collect from them 6  his portion of the crop. 7  12:3 But 8  those tenants 9  seized his slave, 10  beat him, 11  and sent him away empty-handed. 12  12:4 So 13  he sent another slave to them again. This one they struck on the head and treated outrageously. 12:5 He sent another, and that one they killed. This happened to many others, some of whom were beaten, others killed. 12:6 He had one left, his one dear son. 14  Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 12:7 But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and the inheritance will be ours!’ 12:8 So 15  they seized him, 16  killed him, and threw his body 17  out of the vineyard. 18  12:9 What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy 19  those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 20  12:10 Have you not read this scripture:

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 21 

12:11 This is from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” 22 

12:12 Now 23  they wanted to arrest him (but they feared the crowd), because they realized that he told this parable against them. So 24  they left him and went away. 25 

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

2 sn The vineyard is a figure for Israel in the OT (Isa 5:1-7). The nation and its leaders are the tenants, so the vineyard here may well refer to the promise that resides within the nation. The imagery is like that in Rom 11:11-24.

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

4 sn The leasing of land to tenant farmers was common in this period.

5 tn See the note on the word “slave” in 10:44.

sn This slave (along with the others) represent the prophets God sent to the nation, who were mistreated and rejected.

6 tn Grk “from the tenants,” but this is redundant in English, so the pronoun (“them”) was used in the translation.

7 tn Grk “from the fruits of the vineyard.”

8 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.

9 tn Grk “But they”; the referent (the tenants, v. 1) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

10 tn Grk “seizing him, they beat and sent away empty-handed.” The referent of the direct object of “seizing” (the slave sent by the owner) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The objects of the verbs “beat” and “sent away” have been supplied in the translation to conform to English style. Greek often omits direct objects when they are clear from the context.

11 sn The image of the tenants beating up the owner’s slave pictures the nation’s rejection of the prophets and their message.

12 sn The slaves being sent empty-handed suggests that the vineyard was not producing any fruit – and thus neither was the nation of Israel.

13 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of the tenants’ mistreatment of the first slave.

14 tn Grk “one beloved son.” See comment at Mark 1:11.

sn The owner’s decision to send his one dear son represents God sending Jesus.

15 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of previous action(s) in the narrative.

16 tn Grk “seizing him.” The participle λαβόντες (labontes) has been translated as attendant circumstance.

17 tn Grk “him.”

18 sn Throwing the heir’s body out of the vineyard pictures Jesus’ death outside of Jerusalem.

19 sn The statement that the owner will come and destroy those tenants is a promise of judgment; see Luke 13:34-35; 19:41-44.

20 sn The warning that the owner would give the vineyard to others suggests that the care of the promise and the nation’s hope would be passed to others. This eventually looks to Gentile inclusion; see Eph 2:11-22.

21 tn Or “capstone,” “keystone.” Although these meanings are lexically possible, the imagery in Eph 2:20-22 and 1 Cor 3:11 indicates that the term κεφαλὴ γωνίας (kefalh gwnia") refers to a cornerstone, not a capstone.

sn The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. The use of Ps 118:22-23 and the “stone imagery” as a reference to Christ and his suffering and exaltation is common in the NT (see also Matt 21:42; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet 2:6-8; cf. also Eph 2:20). The irony in the use of Ps 118:22-23 in Mark 12:10-11 is that in the OT, Israel was the one rejected (or perhaps her king) by the Gentiles, but in the NT it is Jesus who is rejected by Israel.

22 sn A quotation from Ps 118:22-23.

23 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to introduce a somewhat parenthetical remark by the author.

24 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of previous action(s) in the narrative.

25 sn The point of the parable in Mark 12:1-12 is that the leaders of the nation have been rejected by God and the vineyard (v. 9, referring to the nation and its privileged status) will be taken from them and given to others (an allusion to the Gentiles).



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