1:2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, 1
“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way, 2
1:3 the voice of one shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
1:4 In the wilderness 5 John the baptizer 6 began preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 7 1:5 People 8 from the whole Judean countryside and all of Jerusalem 9 were going out to him, and he was baptizing them 10 in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. 1:6 John wore a garment made of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 11 1:7 He proclaimed, 12 “One more powerful than I am is coming after me; I am not worthy 13 to bend down and untie the strap 14 of his sandals. 1:8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
1 tc Instead of “in Isaiah the prophet” the majority of
2 sn The opening lines of the quotation are from Exod 23:20; Mal 3:1. Here is the forerunner who points the way to the arrival of God’s salvation. His job is to prepare and guide the people, as the cloud did for Israel in the desert.
3 sn This call to “make his paths straight” in this context is probably an allusion to preparation through repentance.
5 tn Or “desert.”
6 tn While Matthew and Luke consistently use the noun βαπτίστης (baptisths, “[the] Baptist”) to refer to John, as a kind of a title, Mark prefers the substantival participle ὁ βαπτίζων (Jo baptizwn, “the one who baptizes, the baptizer”) to describe him (only twice does he use the noun [Mark 6:25; 8:28]).
7 sn A baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins was a call for preparation for the arrival of the Lord’s salvation. To participate in this baptism was a recognition of the need for God’s forgiveness with a sense that one needed to live differently as a response to it.
8 tn Grk “And the whole Judean countryside.” Mark uses the Greek conjunction καί (kai) at numerous places in his Gospel to begin sentences and paragraphs. This practice is due to Semitic influence and reflects in many cases the use of the Hebrew ו (vav) which is used in OT narrative, much as it is here, to carry the narrative along. Because in contemporary English style it is not acceptable to begin every sentence with “and,” καί was often left untranslated or rendered as “now,” “so,” “then,” or “but” depending on the context. When left untranslated it has not been noted. When given an alternative translation, this is usually indicated by a note.
10 tn Grk “they were being baptized by him.” The passive construction has been rendered as active in the translation for the sake of English style.
11 sn John’s lifestyle was in stark contrast to many of the religious leaders of Jerusalem who lived in relative ease and luxury. While his clothing and diet were indicative of someone who lived in the desert, they also depicted him in his role as God’s prophet (cf. Zech 13:4); his appearance is similar to the Prophet Elijah (2 Kgs 1:8). Locusts and wild honey were a common diet in desert regions and locusts (dried insects) are listed in Lev 11:22 among the “clean” foods.
12 tn Grk “proclaimed, saying.” The participle λέγων (legwn) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.
13 tn Grk “of whom I am not worthy.”
sn The humility of John is evident in the statement I am not worthy. This was considered one of the least worthy tasks of a slave, and John did not consider himself worthy to do even that for the one to come, despite the fact he himself was a prophet.
14 tn The term refers to the leather strap or thong used to bind a sandal. This is often viewed as a collective singular and translated as a plural, “the straps of his sandals,” but it may be more emphatic to retain the singular here.