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Mark 12:13-40

Context
Paying Taxes to Caesar

12:13 Then 1  they sent some of the Pharisees 2  and Herodians 3  to trap him with his own words. 4  12:14 When they came they said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful and do not court anyone’s favor, because you show no partiality 5  but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 6  Is it right 7  to pay taxes 8  to Caesar 9  or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” 12:15 But he saw through their hypocrisy and said 10  to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius 11  and let me look at it.” 12:16 So 12  they brought one, and he said to them, “Whose image 13  is this, and whose inscription?” They replied, 14  “Caesar’s.” 12:17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 15  And they were utterly amazed at him.

Marriage and the Resurrection

12:18 Sadducees 16  (who say there is no resurrection) 17  also came to him and asked him, 18  12:19 “Teacher, Moses wrote for us: ‘If a mans brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, that man 19  must marry 20  the widow and father children 21  for his brother.’ 22  12:20 There were seven brothers. The first one married, 23  and when he died he had no children. 12:21 The second married her and died without any children, and likewise the third. 12:22 None of the seven had children. Finally, the woman died too. 12:23 In the resurrection, when they rise again, 24  whose wife will she be? For all seven had married her.” 25  12:24 Jesus said to them, “Aren’t you deceived 26  for this reason, because you don’t know the scriptures or the power of God? 12:25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels 27  in heaven. 12:26 Now as for the dead being raised, 28  have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, 29  how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the 30  God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 31  12:27 He is not the God of the dead but of the living. 32  You are badly mistaken!”

The Greatest Commandment

12:28 Now 33  one of the experts in the law 34  came and heard them debating. When he saw that Jesus 35  answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 12:29 Jesus answered, “The most important is: ‘Listen, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 12:30 Love 36  the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 37  12:31 The second is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 38  There is no other commandment greater than these.” 12:32 The expert in the law said to him, “That is true, Teacher; you are right to say that he is one, and there is no one else besides him. 39  12:33 And to love him with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength 40  and to love your neighbor as yourself 41  is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 12:34 When Jesus saw that he had answered thoughtfully, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Then no one dared any longer to question him.

The Messiah: David’s Son and Lord

12:35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he said, “How is it that the experts in the law 42  say that the Christ 43  is David’s son? 44  12:36 David himself, by the Holy Spirit, said,

The Lord said to my lord, 45 

Sit at my right hand,

until I put your enemies under your feet.”’ 46 

12:37 If David himself calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 47  And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.

Warnings About Experts in the Law

12:38 In his teaching Jesus 48  also said, “Watch out for the experts in the law. 49  They like walking 50  around in long robes and elaborate greetings 51  in the marketplaces, 12:39 and the best seats in the synagogues 52  and the places of honor at banquets. 12:40 They 53  devour widows’ property, 54  and as a show make long prayers. These men will receive a more severe punishment.”

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

2 sn See the note on Pharisees in 2:16.

3 sn Pharisees and Herodians made a very interesting alliance. W. W. Wessel (“Mark,” EBC 8:733) comments: “The Herodians were as obnoxious to the Pharisees on political grounds as the Sadducees were on theological grounds. Yet the two groups united in their opposition to Jesus. Collaboration in wickedness, as well as goodness, has great power. Their purpose was to trip Jesus up in his words so that he would lose the support of the people, leaving the way open for them to destroy him.” See also the note on “Herodians” in Mark 3:6.

4 tn Grk “trap him in word.”

5 tn Grk “and it is not a concern to you about anyone because you do not see the face of men.”

6 sn Teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Very few comments are as deceitful as this one; they did not really believe this at all. The question of the Pharisees and Herodians was specifically designed to trap Jesus.

7 tn Or “lawful,” that is, in accordance with God’s divine law. On the syntax of ἔξεστιν (exestin) with an infinitive and accusative, see BDF §409.3.

8 tn According to L&N 57.180 the term κῆνσος (khnso") was borrowed from Latin and referred to a poll tax, a tax paid by each adult male to the Roman government.

sn This question concerning taxes was specifically designed to trap Jesus. If he answered yes, then his opponents could publicly discredit him as a sympathizer with Rome. If he answered no, then they could go to the Roman governor and accuse Jesus of rebellion.

9 tn Or “the emperor” (“Caesar” is a title for the Roman emperor).

10 tn Grk “Aware of their hypocrisy he said.”

11 tn Here the specific name of the coin was retained in the translation, because not all coins in circulation in Palestine at the time carried the image of Caesar. In other places δηνάριον (dhnarion) has been translated simply as “silver coin” with an explanatory note.

sn A denarius was a silver coin stamped with the image of the emperor and worth approximately one day’s wage for a laborer.

12 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate their response to Jesus’ request for a coin.

13 tn Or “whose likeness.”

sn In this passage Jesus points to the image (Grk εἰκών, eikwn) of Caesar on the coin. This same Greek word is used in Gen 1:26 (LXX) to state that humanity is made in the “image” of God. Jesus is making a subtle yet powerful contrast: Caesar’s image is on the denarius, so he can lay claim to money through taxation, but God’s image is on humanity, so he can lay claim to each individual life.

14 tn Grk “they said to him.”

15 sn Jesus’ answer to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s was a both/and, not the questioners’ either/or. So he slipped out of their trap.

16 sn The Sadducees controlled the official political structures of Judaism at this time, being the majority members of the Sanhedrin. They were known as extremely strict on law and order issues (Josephus, J. W. 2.8.2 [2.119], 2.8.14 [2.164-166]; Ant. 13.5.9 [13.171-173], 13.10.6 [13.293-298], 18.1.2 [18.11], 18.1.4 [18.16-17], 20.9.1 [20.199]; Life 2 [10-11]). They also did not believe in resurrection or in angels, an important detail in v. 25. See also Matt 3:7, 16:1-12, 22:23-34; Luke 20:27-38; Acts 4:1, 5:17, 23:6-8.

17 sn This remark is best regarded as a parenthetical note by the author.

18 tn Grk “and asked him, saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

19 tn Grk “his brother”; but this would be redundant in English with the same phrase “his brother” at the end of the verse, so most modern translations render this phrase “the man” (so NIV, NRSV).

20 tn The use of ἵνα (Jina) with imperatival force is unusual (BDF §470.1).

21 tn Grk “raise up seed” (an idiom for fathering children).

22 sn A quotation from Deut 25:5. This practice is called levirate marriage (see also Ruth 4:1-12; Mishnah, m. Yevamot; Josephus, Ant. 4.8.23 [4.254-256]). The levirate law is described in Deut 25:5-10. The brother of a man who died without a son had an obligation to marry his brother’s widow. This served several purposes: It provided for the widow in a society where a widow with no children to care for her would be reduced to begging, and it preserved the name of the deceased, who would be regarded as the legal father of the first son produced from that marriage.

23 tn Grk “took a wife” (an idiom for marrying a woman).

24 tc The words “when they rise again” are missing from several important witnesses (א B C D L W Δ Ψ 33 579 892 2427 pc c r1 k syp co). They are included in A Θ Ë1,(13) Ï lat sys,h. The strong external pedigree of the shorter reading gives one pause. Nevertheless, the Alexandrian and other mss most likely dropped the words from the text either to conform the wording to the parallel in Matt 22:28 or because “when they rise again” was redundant. But the inclusion of these words is thoroughly compatible with Mark’s usually pleonastic style (see TCGNT 93), and therefore most probably authentic to Mark’s Gospel.

25 tn Grk “For the seven had her as wife.”

26 tn Or “mistaken” (cf. BDAG 822 s.v. πλανάω 2.c.γ).

27 sn Angels do not die, nor do they eat according to Jewish tradition (1 En. 15:6; 51:4; Wis 5:5; 2 Bar. 51:10; 1QH 3.21-23).

28 tn Grk “Now as for the dead that they are raised.”

29 sn See Exod 3:6. Jesus used a common form of rabbinic citation here to refer to the passage in question.

30 tn Grk “and the,” but καί (kai) has not been translated since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more.

31 sn A quotation from Exod 3:6.

32 sn He is not God of the dead but of the living. Jesus’ point was that if God could identify himself as God of the three old patriarchs, then they must still be alive when God spoke to Moses; and so they must be raised.

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

34 tn Or “One of the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 1:22.

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

36 tn Grk “You will love.” The future indicative is used here with imperatival force (see ExSyn 452 and 569).

37 sn A quotation from Deut 6:4-5 and Josh 22:5 (LXX). The fourfold reference to different parts of the person says, in effect, that one should love God with all one’s being.

38 sn A quotation from Lev 19:18.

39 sn A quotation from Deut 4:35.

40 sn A quotation from Deut 6:5.

41 sn A quotation from Lev 19:18.

42 tn Or “that the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 1:22.

43 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.

44 sn It was a common belief in Judaism that Messiah would be David’s son in that he would come from the lineage of David. On this point the Pharisees agreed and were correct. But their understanding was nonetheless incomplete, for Messiah is also David’s Lord. With this statement Jesus was affirming that, as the Messiah, he is both God and man.

45 sn The Lord said to my Lord. With David being the speaker, this indicates his respect for his descendant (referred to as my Lord). Jesus was arguing, as the ancient exposition assumed, that the passage is about the Lord’s anointed. The passage looks at an enthronement of this figure and a declaration of honor for him as he takes his place at the side of God. In Jerusalem, the king’s palace was located to the right of the temple to indicate this kind of relationship. Jesus was pressing the language here to get his opponents to reflect on how great Messiah is.

46 sn A quotation from Ps 110:1.

47 tn Grk “David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ So how is he his son?” The conditional nuance, implicit in Greek, has been made explicit in the translation (cf. Matt 22:45).

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

49 tn Or “for the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 1:22.

50 tn In Greek this is the only infinitive in vv. 38-39. It would be awkward in English to join an infinitive to the following noun clauses, so this has been translated as a gerund.

51 sn There is later Jewish material in the Talmud that spells out such greetings in detail. See H. Windisch, TDNT 1:498.

52 sn See the note on synagogue in 1:21.

53 tn Grk “who,” continuing the sentence begun in v. 38.

54 tn Grk “houses,” “households”; however, the term can have the force of “property” or “possessions” as well (O. Michel, TDNT 5:131; BDAG 695 s.v. οἶκια 1.a).



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