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Mark 2:15-22

Context
2:15 As Jesus 1  was having a meal 2  in Levi’s 3  home, many tax collectors 4  and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 2:16 When the experts in the law 5  and the Pharisees 6  saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 7  2:17 When Jesus heard this he said to them, “Those who are healthy don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. 8  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

The Superiority of the New

2:18 Now 9  John’s 10  disciples and the Pharisees 11  were fasting. 12  So 13  they came to Jesus 14  and said, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don’t fast?” 2:19 Jesus 15  said to them, “The wedding guests 16  cannot fast while the bridegroom 17  is with them, can they? 18  As long as they have the bridegroom with them they do not fast. 2:20 But the days are coming when the bridegroom will be taken from them, 19  and at that time 20  they will fast. 2:21 No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear becomes worse. 2:22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; 21  otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins will be destroyed. Instead new wine is poured into new wineskins.” 22 

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

2 tn Grk “As he reclined at table.”

sn As Jesus was having a meal. 1st century middle eastern meals were not eaten while sitting at a table, but while reclining on one’s side on the floor with the head closest to the low table and the feet farthest away.

3 tn Grk “his.”

4 sn The tax collectors would bid to collect taxes for the Roman government and then add a surcharge, which they kept. Since tax collectors worked for Rome, they were viewed as traitors to their own people and were not well liked.

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

6 sn Pharisees were members of one of the most important and influential religious and political parties of Judaism in the time of Jesus. There were more Pharisees than Sadducees (according to Josephus, Ant. 17.2.4 [17.42] there were more than 6,000 Pharisees at about this time). Pharisees differed with Sadducees on certain doctrines and patterns of behavior. The Pharisees were strict and zealous adherents to the laws of the OT and to numerous additional traditions such as angels and bodily resurrection.

7 sn The issue here is inappropriate associations. Jews were very careful about personal associations and contact as a matter of ritual cleanliness. Their question borders on an accusation that Jesus is ritually unclean.

8 sn Jesus’ point is that he associates with those who are sick because they have the need and will respond to the offer of help. A person who is healthy (or who thinks mistakenly that he is) will not seek treatment.

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

10 sn John refers to John the Baptist.

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

12 sn John’s disciples and the Pharisees followed typical practices with regard to fasting and prayer. Many Jews fasted regularly (Lev 16:29-34; 23:26-32; Num 29:7-11). The zealous fasted twice a week on Monday and Thursday.

13 tn Grk “And.” Here καί (kai) has been translated as “So” to indicate that in the narrative this question happened as a result of the fasting of John’s disciples and the Pharisees.

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

15 tn Grk “And Jesus.”

16 tn Grk “sons of the wedding hall,” an idiom referring to wedding guests, or more specifically, friends of the bridegroom present at the wedding celebration (L&N 11.7).

17 sn The expression while the bridegroom is with them is an allusion to messianic times (John 3:29; Isa 54:5-6; 62:4-5; 4 Ezra 2:15, 38).

18 tn Questions prefaced with μή (mh) in Greek anticipate a negative answer. This can sometimes be indicated by using a “tag” at the end in English (here the tag is “can they?”).

19 sn The statement the bridegroom will be taken from them is a veiled allusion by Jesus to his death, which he did not make explicit until the incident at Caesarea Philippi in 8:27ff. (cf. 8:31; 9:31; 10:33).

20 tn Grk “then on that day.”

21 sn Wineskins were bags made of skin or leather, used for storing wine in NT times. As the new wine fermented and expanded, it would stretch the new wineskins. Putting new (unfermented) wine in old wineskins, which had already been stretched, would result in the bursting of the wineskins.

22 sn The meaning of the saying new wine is poured into new skins is that the presence and teaching of Jesus was something new and signaled the passing of the old. It could not be confined within the old religion of Judaism, but involved the inauguration and consummation of the kingdom of God.



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