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Mark 15:21-32

Context
The Crucifixion

15:21 The soldiers 1  forced 2  a passerby to carry his cross, 3  Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country 4  (he was the father of Alexander and Rufus). 15:22 They brought Jesus 5  to a place called Golgotha 6  (which is translated, “Place of the Skull”). 7  15:23 They offered him wine mixed with myrrh, 8  but he did not take it. 15:24 Then 9  they crucified 10  him and divided his clothes, throwing dice 11  for them, to decide what each would take. 15:25 It was nine o’clock in the morning 12  when they crucified him. 15:26 The inscription 13  of the charge against him read, “The king of the Jews.” 15:27 And they crucified two outlaws with him, one on his right and one on his left. 15:28 [[EMPTY]] 14  15:29 Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 15:30 save yourself and come down from the cross!” 15  15:31 In the same way even the chief priests – together with the experts in the law 16  – were mocking him among themselves: 17  “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! 15:32 Let the Christ, 18  the king of Israel, come down from the cross now, that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him. 19 

1 tn Grk “They”; the referent (the soldiers) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

2 tn Or “conscripted”; or “pressed into service.”

3 sn Jesus was beaten severely with a whip before this (the prelude to crucifixion, known to the Romans as verberatio, mentioned in Matt 27:26; Mark 15:15; John 19:1), so he would have been weak from trauma and loss of blood. Apparently he was unable to bear the cross himself, so Simon was conscripted to help (in all probability this was only the crossbeam, called in Latin the patibulum, since the upright beam usually remained in the ground at the place of execution). Cyrene was located in North Africa where Tripoli is today. Nothing more is known about this Simon.

4 tn Or perhaps, “was coming in from his field” outside the city (BDAG 15-16 s.v. ἀγρός 1).

5 tn Grk “him.”

6 tn Grk “a place, Golgotha.” This is an Aramaic name; see John 19:17.

7 sn The place called Golgotha (which is translated “Place of the Skull”). This location is north and just outside of Jerusalem. The hill on which it is located protruded much like a skull, giving the place its name. The Latin word for the Greek term κρανίον (kranion) is calvaria, from which the English word “Calvary” is derived (cf. Luke 23:33 in the KJV).

8 sn It is difficult to say for certain who gave Jesus this drink of wine mixed with myrrh (e.g., the executioner, or perhaps women from Jerusalem). In any case, whoever gave it to him most likely did so in order to relieve his pain, but Jesus was unwilling to take it.

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

10 sn See the note on Crucify in 15:13.

11 tn Grk “by throwing the lot” (probably by using marked pebbles or broken pieces of pottery). A modern equivalent, “throwing dice,” was chosen here because of its association with gambling. According to L&N 6.219 a term for “dice” is particularly appropriate.

sn An allusion to Ps 22:18.

12 tn Grk “It was the third hour.” This time would have been approximate, and could refer to the beginning of the process, some time before Jesus was lifted on the cross.

13 sn Mention of the inscription is an important detail, because the inscription would normally give the reason for the execution. It shows that Jesus was executed for claiming to be a king. It was also probably written with irony from the executioners’ point of view.

14 tc Most later mss add 15:28 “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘He was counted with the lawless ones.’” Verse 28 is included in L Θ 083 0250 Ë1,13 33 Ï lat, but is lacking in important Alexandrian and Western mss and some others (א A B C D Ψ pc). The addition of the verse with its quotation from Isa 53:12 probably represents a scribal assimilation from Luke 22:37. It was almost certainly not an original part of Mark’s Gospel. The present translation follows NA27 in omitting the verse number, a procedure also followed by a number of other modern translations.

15 sn There is rich irony in the statement of those who were passing by, “Save yourself and come down from the cross!” In summary, they wanted Jesus to come down from the cross and save his physical life, but it was indeed his staying on the cross and giving his physical life that led to the fact that they could experience a resurrection from death to life. There is a similar kind of irony in the statement made by the chief priests and experts in the law in 15:31.

16 tn Or “with the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 1:22. Only “chief priests” is in the nominative case; this sentence structure attempts to capture this emphasis.

17 tn Grk “Mocking him, the chief priests…said among themselves.”

18 tn Or “the Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”

sn See the note on Christ in 8:29.

19 sn Mark’s wording suggests that both of the criminals spoke abusively to him. If so, one of them quickly changed his attitude toward Jesus (see Luke 23:40-43).



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