Mark 12:35-44

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 say that the Christ is David’s son? 12:36 David himself, by the Holy Spirit, said,

The Lord said to my lord,

Sit at my right hand,

until I put your enemies under your feet.”’

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

Warnings About Experts in the Law

12:38 In his teaching Jesus also said, “Watch out for the experts in the law. They like walking around in long robes and elaborate greetings 10  in the marketplaces, 12:39 and the best seats in the synagogues 11  and the places of honor at banquets. 12:40 They 12  devour widows’ property, 13  and as a show make long prayers. These men will receive a more severe punishment.”

The Widow’s Offering

12:41 Then 14  he 15  sat down opposite the offering box, 16  and watched the crowd putting coins into it. Many rich people were throwing in large amounts. 12:42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, 17  worth less than a penny. 12:43 He called his disciples and said to them, “I tell you the truth, 18  this poor widow has put more into the offering box 19  than all the others. 20  12:44 For they all gave out of their wealth. 21  But she, out of her poverty, put in what she had to live on, everything she had.” 22 

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

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.

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.

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.

sn A quotation from Ps 110:1.

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).

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

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

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.

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

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

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

13 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).

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

15 tc Most mss, predominantly of the Western and Byzantine texts (A D W Θ Ë1,13 33 2542 Ï lat), have ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς (Jo Ihsou", “Jesus”) as the explicit subject here, while א B L Δ Ψ 892 2427 pc lack the name. A natural scribal tendency is to expand the text, especially to add the Lord’s name as the explicit subject of a verb. Scribes much less frequently omitted the Lord’s name (cf. the readings of W Θ 565 1424 in Mark 12:17). The internal and external evidence support one another here in behalf of the shorter reading.

16 tn On the term γαζοφυλάκιον (gazofulakion), often translated “treasury,” see BDAG 186 s.v., which states, “For Mk 12:41, 43; Lk 21:1 the mng. contribution box or receptacle is attractive. Acc. to Mishnah, Shekalim 6, 5 there were in the temple 13 such receptacles in the form of trumpets. But even in these passages the general sense of ‘treasury’ is prob., for the contributions would go [into] the treasury via the receptacles.” Based upon the extra-biblical evidence (see sn following), however, the translation opts to refer to the actual receptacles and not the treasury itself.

sn The offering box probably refers to the receptacles in the temple forecourt by the Court of Women used to collect freewill offerings. These are mentioned by Josephus, J. W. 5.5.2 (5.200); 6.5.2 (6.282); Ant. 19.6.1 (19.294), and in 1 Macc 14:49 and 2 Macc 3:6, 24, 28, 40 (see also Luke 21:1; John 8:20).

17 sn These two small copper coins were lepta (sing. “lepton”), the smallest and least valuable coins in circulation in Palestine, worth one-half of a quadrans or 1/128 of a denarius, or about six minutes of an average daily wage. This was next to nothing in value.

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

19 tn See the note on the term “offering box” in v. 41.

20 sn Has put more into the offering box than all the others. With God, giving is weighed evaluatively, not counted. The widow was praised because she gave sincerely and at some considerable cost to herself.

21 tn Grk “out of what abounded to them.”

22 sn The contrast between this passage, 12:41-44, and what has come before in 11:27-12:40 is remarkable. The woman is set in stark contrast to the religious leaders. She was a poor widow, they were rich. She was uneducated in the law, they were well educated in the law. She was a woman, they were men. But whereas they evidenced no faith and actually stole money from God and men (cf. 11:17), she evidenced great faith and gave out of her extreme poverty everything she had.