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Mark 10:17-22

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 

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.



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