Mark Chapter 9: Mount Transfiguration, Elias, Cast out Demons, Who’s Greatest, Second Death, Salt

Jan 24th, 2012 | By | Category: Mark, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Mark 9:1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

Jesus’ statement was misunderstood, for it was thought that the Kingdom would come before the death of all the apostles. However, Jesus was speaking to his disciples and referring to his coming transfiguration. Matthew 17:9 says the transfiguration scene was a vision.

Mark 9:2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.

This “high mountain” is commonly thought of as Mount Hermon, but it was Mount Tabor. Six days gave Jesus time to return south from beneath the slopes of Hermon in the Caesarea Philippi region.

Luke 9:28 has “eight days.” The Berean Manual says that six  days plus the day Jesus spoke the words of verse 1 and the day he was transfigured equal eight days. Also, the fraction of a day according to Hebrew reckoning can make a difference.

Mark 9:3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.

The sudden change was awesome! The “shining, exceeding white” garments indicated purity.

Mark 9:4 And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.

Elijah (representing the Little Flock) and Moses (representing the Ancient Worthies) appeared on either side of Jesus. Since the apostles did not know what the two looked like, they would have been recognized by the use of their names. The subject matter was Jesus’ death (Luke 9:31). During the last half year of Jesus’ 3 1/2-year ministry, he began to break the news of his impending death.

Elijah represents the Church starting with 1799, the end of the 1,260 years. Hence he pictures the Gospel Age, and Moses pictures Old Testament times. Stated another way, Elijah represents a class who look back to Christ, and Moses pictures a class who looked forward to Christ. The Moses class had faith in a Messiah before he came (Hebrews 11).

The fact that the bodies of all three were not found shows a spiritual resurrection eventually for all three. Elijah did not die but was whisked up into heaven, picturing the rapture so to speak of the feet members.

The vision pertained primarily to the Kingdom of God in power, and Jesus was seen not as a sin-bearer but as the glorified Christ. Also suggested is a relationship in the Kingdom between the Little Flock and the Ancient Worthies. But there is a secondary picture as well. The two pictures are as follows:

1. Jesus would receive a glorious change of nature after his death on Calvary, that is, upon his ascension.

2. “The kingdom of God … with power” would be the Kingdom Age (verse 1). The Kingdom of God not in power is mainly the Gospel Age, when it is likened to ten virgins. The Kingdom Age class is developed in the Gospel Age.

Mark 9:5 And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is  good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

Mark 9:6 For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.

Peter should have been quiet, but he blurted out, “It is good for us to be here! Let us make three tabernacles.” The three apostles were all afraid. The other two were silent in their fear, but not Peter. In time of emergency, some likewise babble on.

Mark 9:7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.

A dark cloud overshadowed them, and God’s voice was heard: “This is my beloved Son: hear him.” This verse disproves the Trinity. Since God’s voice was separate from Jesus, the Son cannot be God. Note that the translators did not put the words in red, for they were not Jesus’ words. The Father was pointing out His Son as the one to heed, for Jesus was above the Law and Moses, and above the prophetic aspect.

Mark 9:8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.

Suddenly, as the cloud dissipated, only Jesus remained with Peter, James, and John, and now he had normal clothing and was in their midst.

Comment: Luke 9:32 says the three were “heavy with sleep,” and they woke up suddenly to see this vision. Perhaps this circumstance is a little excuse for Peter; namely, he was startled out of sleep and blurted out irrelevant words.

Mark 9:9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.

Mark 9:10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.

The vision raised more questions than answers. The three apostles were puzzled about Jesus’ death and did not perceive the necessity for it. They had heard him say he would die, yet they conveniently forgot. Now the vision brought up his death again. “Tell no man” means they could tell the other apostles but not anyone outside their little circle.

Mark 9:11 And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?

And they were puzzled about Elijah too. The last two verses of Malachi said that Elijah must come before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. The apostles knew about this prophecy.

The apostles would not have understood the depth of meaning regarding John the Baptist’s coming in the power of Elijah. Many years after Malachi’s statement (4:5,6) about Elijah’s coming before the great and dreadful day of the Lord, John the Baptist came on the scene in the role of Elijah with a camel’s hair coat and a leather girdle, and he came from the desert as Elijah had come from the wilderness. But John’s coming was only a tiny seed beginning to open. In time the seed grew and developed into a complex subject. At the First Advent, it was impossible for the apostles to understand much. “Elijah was supposed to be dead, yet he was there—how could that be?” they wondered.

The fact that the three apostles saw a vision indicated the meaning was complex and not to be considered literally. It was a picture. Being told it was a vision should have somewhat comforted them in their confusion.

Mark 9:12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought.

In other words, the teaching of the scribes was correct regarding Elijah’s coming first, but the restoring of all things was future, that is, in the Kingdom Age. Elijah comes and partially restores some things to the Gospel Age class with a hearing ear, but when Elijah (The Christ) comes in power, then all things will be restored. First Jesus, as the head of the Elijah class, had to suffer and be rejected unto death.

We get only a brief insight into Jesus’ discussion with the apostles, a synopsis of the drift of the conversation. In the vision, Jesus discussed his death with Moses and Elijah. Hence the topic of his death would have been discussed further as he and the three apostles descended the mountain.

Mark 9:13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.

Verse 13 is a double picture of (1) John the Baptist, who was imprisoned and beheaded, and (2) Jesus as the head of the Elijah class. Jesus was implying that he would be put to death as John was, for both had to suffer. The body members, too, must suffer. When considered with their head, Jesus, the Church is pictured as a man (Elijah). Apart from their head, the Church is seen as a woman.

Elijah is the forerunner of The Christ in the flesh during the Gospel Age. John the Baptist pictures the feet members of the Elijah class at the end of the Gospel Age, who announced the presence of the Lord just before the Kingdom is established.

Information about the need for the Church to suffer in order to reign came after Jesus’ death and resurrection, especially in the seven messages to the Church in the Book of Revelation and also in Paul’s epistles, which treat the philosophy of suffering.

Comment: If the disciples were familiar with the Old Testament, they knew every faithful one approved of the Lord had suffered in past ages, so suffering for Jesus and his followers should not have been so surprising.

Reply: Not many people put things together, even though it is common sense.

Mark 9:14 And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them.

When Jesus came down from Mount Tabor, he saw a great multitude about the other apostles, and the scribes were questioning them.

Mark 9:15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him.

When Jesus was spotted, he became the center of attention. Amazed, the people ran to him and saluted him. They figured they would now get a real answer as to the disciples’ inability to cast out a particular demon (verses 17 and 18).

Mark 9:16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them?

Jesus asked the scribes, “What is the question?”

Mark 9:17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;

Mark 9:18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.

One of the multitude said, “We were discussing my only son, who is possessed with an evil spirit that makes him dumb and causes convulsions. Your disciples could not cast out the evil spirit.” This lesson was for the disciples, the public, the father, and the son (the victim).

The disciples had returned delirious with joy after being sent out two by two and being empowered to cast out demons. Therefore, when the man brought his son, they probably thought they could do the exorcism in the Master’s absence. (When Jesus was there, he did the exorcisms.) Now the disciples were puzzled, and their inability weakened them in the eyes of the scribes.

The victim son was sometimes driven by the demon to go to different places. The demon caused seizures pulled him along and completely possessed and controlled the mechanism of his body, casting him on the ground, into a fire, into water; making him foam at the mouth; etc. (verse 22). This was a very destructive demon. Radical seizures yanked the son.

The father had approached the disciples with hope, but now he was depressed. He said, “I spoke to your disciples, but they could not cast out the demon.”

Mark 9:19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.

Who was Jesus addressing when he said, “O faithless generation”?

Comment: Jesus was speaking to the apostles, the multitude, and the father of the victim, who said, “If you can do anything.” Jesus responded, “If you can believe” (verses 22 and 23). In other words, there was a lack of faith all around. In Matthew 17:20, Jesus said, “Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

Mark 9:20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.

When the son was brought to Jesus, immediately the evil spirit caused him to fall on the ground and wallow and foam. Notice Jesus’ calmness; he did not get emotionally involved.

Mark 9:21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.

Jesus calmly asked, “How long has your son had the evil spirit?” “Since his early childhood,” was the reply. It is helpful for us to know that a small child can be possessed.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus was calm when he should be and explosive in anger when it was proper. Now he had to not only heal the victim but also instruct others.

Mark 9:22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.

The father said, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

Comment: He did not say “If thou wilt” but “If thou canst.” This big difference again points up the lack of faith.

The father may have known Jesus could cast out demons, but seeing his son get victimized right in front of Jesus shook his confidence. He would have thought, “If the disciples failed, maybe Jesus will fail too.” However, the father’s plea, “Have compassion [mercy] on us, and help us,” melted Jesus’ heart.

Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

Jesus gave the same words back to the father. The father had said, “If you can do anything,” and Jesus now replied, “If you can believe.” Faith was essential. The son could not have faith, for he was helpless, but the father needed to have faith. Thus sometimes it is the faith of those nearest and dearest to the victim that needs to be exercised.

What a beautiful promise to remember! “All things are possible to the one who believes.”

Mark 9:24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

The father’s response was touching: “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” Faith and the right heart attitude were essential for a complete cure.

Mark 9:25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.

Jesus was calm. When he first arrived, a multitude was there. Now more were coming—and running. If he waited for the others to arrive before he healed, some of the lesson would be lost in the confusion. Jesus rebuked the demon and charged him to (1) come out and (2) not enter the child anymore.

Mark 9:26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead.

When the unclean spirit came violently out, he left the victim as dead.

Mark 9:27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.

Then Jesus took the child by the hand—like Jairus’s daughter—and the son arose.

Mark 9:28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?

The disciples desired to know why they could not perform the cure.

Mark 9:29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

Comment: Jesus’ reply shows that for an exorcism, the disciples had to be in the proper attitude of heart and mind. It was not something to rush headlong into. The same principle applies to us today if we should ever be in such a circumstance. An exorcism has to be solemnly approached with prayer in advance, and all who participate should be of the same solemn frame of mind and heart sympathy.

Reply: Yes, that is the answer as to why the disciples could not do the exorcism, even though they previously were successful momentarily and temporarily with Jesus’ blessing. This particular kind of possession had such deep inroads into the individual that it was abnormal possession. In proportion to the gravity and importance of the situation, it was (and is) necessary to get into the proper attitude to effect a remedy, if it be the Father’s will.

Fasting is proper depending on the circumstance. For example, Daniel prayed and fasted for three weeks before getting a reply (Dan. 10:2,3).

Mark 9:30 And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.

Mark 9:31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.

Jesus did not want anyone to know their whereabouts because he desired time with his disciples to teach them about the sobering subject of his death. On the Mount of Transfiguration, just a short time before, the subject matter was his death. In Caesarea Philippi too, he had mentioned his coming death. Now the subject came up again.

If Jesus were God, how could he be delivered into the hands of men and men kill him? God is eternal, ever living, from everlasting to everlasting. He cannot die. The Trinity does not make sense.

Mark 9:32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.

The apostles were afraid to discuss this subject in any depth. They understood Jesus’ words but not the reason for his death, not the philosophy behind the need for it. Moreover, the disciples did not want to hear about Jesus’ death, for they were anticipating the imminent establishment of his Kingdom. They were probably thinking of their own positions of honor, as indicated in verses 33 and 34.

Mark 9:33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?

Jesus very likely went into Peter’s house. Although he knew what they had been disputing, he asked anyway.

Mark 9:34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

Mark 9:35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

In embarrassment, the Twelve did not answer. They had been disputing which of them should be the greatest. They were thinking of glory, and Jesus was thinking of death, which had to precede glory.

Comment: This dispute occurred not long after the three apostles were taken up into the Mount of Transfiguration, so it was on the minds of the apostles that three of them were being especially favored.

Reply: The apostles were keenly aware of the distinction because Jesus had been absent with the three. The other nine were not so privileged. The three were in the conversation too, so they may have been discussing, even more than the others, the subject of who was greatest.

But how did Jesus respond? He said the humblest servant would be greatest. Therefore, the one who desired to be first should be the humblest.

Comment: It would be interesting to know what part Judas played because he was more capable than the rest. If faithful, he would have had the chief position. Thus his personality was the type that could have resented not being taken up in the mount for the transfiguration.

Comment: Later the mother of John and James Zebedee wanted her sons to sit on Jesus’ right and left, the most prominent positions.

Comment: When this incident was discussed at a Future Events Conference, a question was raised from the floor: “But what is wrong with wanting to be greatest?” From one standpoint, we are to run as if only one gets the prize, and we should want to be as near as possible to the Master. However, there is a fine line here on motive. We should not be striving and competing with our brethren.

Reply: It is something like eldership. Eldership is a good office to desire, but brothers should be careful, for there is greater condemnation for disobedience. Greater responsibilities are attached to the office.

Although the mother later raised the question, John and James desired very much to sit on Jesus’ right and left. On one occasion, Jesus gave a parable about one who presumptuously took the chief seat. The party was subsequently asked by the host to vacate the seat because it was intended for another. Taking the chief seat was a form of greed. Likewise, a problem of the scribes and Pharisees was their desire for the chief seats at festivals.

Mark 9:36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,

Mark 9:37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

In this character lesson, Jesus took a child and set him in their midst. The disciples would have sensed that an object lesson was coming. Then Jesus took the child in his arms. The pause focused the disciples’ attention on the coming lesson.

The child illustrated one who is consecrated. A person who  receives a consecrated individual really receives not only Jesus but also the Father. The reception goes up the chain of command.

Conversely, to act improperly against one of the consecrated is to act against the Father too. In the family relationship of the consecrated, proper esteem should be given to those who are older—but not to the neglect of receiving one in Jesus’ name.

Partiality is taught in the Scriptures along certain lines. Those who have been very beneficial to the brotherhood should be respected for their service. They should not be viewed in the same light as a newcomer, but nevertheless, the family relationship is important. We should not offend a little one. And the family relationship goes right up to the Father because He first draws the individual to Christ.

Q: Isn’t verse 37 a case where the word “only” fits? Whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me only, but [also] him that sent me.”

A: Yes, and that theme comes out in John’s Gospel.

A “child” in the faith can be (1) a new Christian, (2) one who has not matured, or (3) one who is mentally limited and cannot develop. However, a childlike disposition is important for all to have. We should always be teachable and humble.

Mark 9:38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

John, one of the three who had been on the Mount of Transfiguration, took the leading role here. And he was one of the two who desired to sit on Jesus’ right or left hand.

Because an individual who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name was not one of his disciples (“he followeth not us”), they forbade him, that is, told him to stop. This is a searching matter, for John’s motive intended to be good. He was zealous for the Master, and he did not want Jesus’ name to be used by one who was not a disciple. We, too, have experiences along this line. We may think our motives are good—and they may be—but to take this role in judging others is not proper. The others were held accountable for their own conduct since they performed the acts in Jesus’ name. And so many today think they are followers of Christ. In regard to individuals back there who did miracles such as casting out demons, Jesus asked, “By whom do your children cast them [the demons] out?” Thus Jesus’ words showed that such works were done by others as well (Matt. 12:27).

Some spend their whole ministry finding fault with others and trying to damage their service. Referred to as brambles and thorns, they themselves have nothing productive to offer (Matt. 7:16). Christians are not to be spiritual policemen, which could be a full-time job. Yes, there are circumstances where moral or doctrinal problems have to be exposed, but they are the exception. If one’s ministry is damaging the brotherhood, it should be stopped. And there is more responsibility in the local area where one lives.

Mark 9:39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

This is a general rule. In exorcism, the crucifix can be effectively used as a charm, and Jesus’ name can be used that way too. Those who saw him casting out demons, even though they did not become disciples, might have tried to do the same, using Jesus’ name because of what they had witnessed. But what irked the disciples was that the person was using Jesus’ name as if he were a disciple. He was not interested in being a follower—he just wanted to use Jesus’ name to cast out demons.

What is the lesson? We should not delve into the motives of others who profess Christianity. Even here the disciples did not know the motive of the man. He may not have been culpable. Perhaps he was desperate regarding a relative, for example. At any rate, the individual himself will have to answer to God.

Comment: The same is true today with those in the nominal system who profess to love the Lord. There are all kinds of gradations, and we cannot always dig into the matter and pin down individuals as to how or whether they made a consecration. The responsibility is between the Lord and the individual who professes to be a Christian and is doing work in His name.

Reply: Yes, and some lower the standard to think that any good work is being a Christian. Many look at the conduct of a person, and if he is gentle and kind, they think he is Christlike. But Christlikeness is not superficial. Even shrewd businessmen can appear kind and interested just to get a sale. Kindness should be genuine.

By using Jesus’ name, the man showed respect for the power of that name. But his reason or motive could be another matter. We are not to analyze motives.

Comment: “In my name” or “in thy name,” referring to Jesus, is a common phrase in this chapter (verses 37, 38, 39, and 41).

Mark 9:40 For he that is not against us is on our part.

It helps to turn this verse around: “He that is on our part [he that is for us] is not against us.” Contrast this with “He who is not with me is against me.” Turned around, it reads, “He who is against me is not with me” (Matt. 12:30).

Verse 40 pertains to one outside the movement, but the principle is also searching within the movement. Some within the brotherhood can be against the Lord by being stumbling blocks.

By only nominally associating with the Bible Students, they may be rejects along doctrinal or moral lines. Being within the movement is not a guarantee if the principles of God and Jesus are not recognized and obeyed. Therefore, Matthew 12:30 can also be viewed as applying to one within the movement.

Mark 9:41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

All other things being equal, “whosoever shall give … a cup of water” in Jesus’ name—that is, because the individual it is given to is consecrated—“shall not lose his reward.” The “water” is given by one who is not consecrated to one who is consecrated. Another Gospel covers one who is consecrated. Hence a “reward” applies to those both outside and inside the movement.

Mark 9:42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

This is a serious doctrine with great implications, for it would be better to die with a millstone around the neck than to go into Second Death. Offending one of the Lord’s “little ones” can affect a person’s destiny.

Notice, further, what this verse says. Whoever stumbles one of the “little ones” in the truth (not a great one) is in danger of Second Death. In other words, we are to tread lightly with new interests, those who are mentally limited, etc., for we could turn a person off and cause him to go out of the way. If God judges the consecrated one to be responsible for causing a little one to depart, that is serious. However, some who are very sensitive may claim they have left the truth because of the remark of a brother or sister, whereas the remark was actually justified and proper. Sometimes remarks are necessary to alert an individual to a problem. The point is to be careful and not to be too hasty in our attitude and conduct toward others. But there are times when a rebuke is necessary—or a challenge or a warning.

On the one hand, we must be especially careful with the weak and with a little child. On the other hand, some who are weak and immature make harmful comments that influence many others. Such individuals must be put in their place because of the damage being done.

Verse 42 is not talking about those who are very forward and those who control or disrupt a meeting with their conduct. Rather, it is the humble, sensitive, introspective ones who must be treated carefully.

Comment: If some are overly touchy and sensitive, the Lord will permit certain circumstances to help them overcome this abnormality.

Reply: Yes, habitual sensitivity is a problem to be overcome. Nevertheless, being careful with the Lord’s little ones is a general principle.

Comment: An example of conduct incurring responsibility is a brother who criticized a woman at a convention for not wearing a head covering. The woman, who not only was not consecrated but also was a new attendee, had just been moved to tears by a talk. The brother’s rebuke was out of order and may have been a factor in her not returning subsequently. This example illustrates the principle, even though the woman was not actually a “little one.”

Q: Could one remark offend a brother or sister into leaving the truth? Wouldn’t the remarks have to be habitual?

A: There are degrees of injuring spiritually as well as degrees of culpability. A remark might not actually put one out of the truth, but it could affect his walk for some time. For instance, one might not come to meetings because of a remark. Then, not attending meetings, the individual gradually gets cool. Lacking instruction and fellowship, he perishes by the way. However, it is not likely that one remark would stumble a person. More likely, the stumbling comes from an attitude that is being pursued. However, one remark can do a lot of harm.

Paul spoke about some who were sinning against Christ (1 Cor. 8:12). When one comes into a meeting, the subject should not be changed just to give an object lesson and/or a rebuke to that individual. Some like to rebuke, and in every study and talk, they try to slant the lesson against a brother or sister. If done as a practice, that is sinning against Christ. However, if the subject is being discussed, it should be discussed openly and fearlessly. Usually the one doing the correcting has plenty of his own problems.

Mark 9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

Mark 9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Mark 9:45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

Mark 9:46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Mark 9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:

Mark 9:48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

If our hand, foot, or eye causes us to sin, we are to get rid of it, figuratively speaking. If one of these is cut off, there is a lack, but if two (both) are cut off, the implication is Second Death. Why? Because the person has not attempted to curb the problem. An ingrained character fault or defect must be uprooted.

Comment: To be bound hand and foot is another way of stating the full penalty—complete immobility. If we do not deal with the sin, it will stop us completely—in Second Death.

In what way can the hand, foot, and eye “offend”? The hand pertains to service, the foot to our walk, and the eye to our intellect or wisdom. For example, if one has a weakness for adultery and then allows his eyes to roam at will, he is in danger of committing grievous sin. Instead that one should avoid temptation by curtailing his liberty. Another example is a bad temper, which needs curbing if it is habitual. One who is short-tempered must deal with the fault. There is a responsibility not to offend others and a responsibility not to offend self. In other words, we are not to cause others to sin, nor should we allow ourselves to sin.

Comment: The NIV has “sin” instead of “offend.” “If your foot causes you to sin,” etc.

Parts of verses 44-47 are spurious as follows: Omit verses 44 and 46, the end of verse 45 (“into the fire that never shall be quenched”), and “fire” at the end of verse 47. The corrected passage should read, “And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell.”

Verse 48 is based on Isaiah 66:24 (the last verse of the Book of Isaiah), which refers to the destruction of Gog and Magog at the end of the Gospel Age. A cemetery in Israel will be called Hamon-gog. The thought of the worm not dying and the fire never being extinguished is that the lesson is to be everlasting and perpetual. As people go by, they will see the cemetery, and an audiovisual record will tell why and how God destroyed Gog and Magog. While a worm literally dies and a fire can be extinguished, the lesson will continue. All future sentient beings on other planets will also see the movie record. Hence the worm and the fire are figurative.

Here in Mark’s Gospel, the worm and the fire are associated with Gehenna, the Valley of Hinnom, that is, Second Death, which will never be destroyed. Adamic death will be destroyed but not Second Death. God will always have the prerogative, if He so desires, to expunge a life.

In the illimitable future, one on another planet might sin and would thus have to be put to death right away so that God’s will would still be done there. Evil will not be allowed to arise and prosper on other planets.

Comment: In refuting the doctrine of hellfire, the Expanded Comments humorously comment about verse 48 along the following line: “Who would ever think a worm could be immortal?” (“Their worm dieth not.”) A further comment is made that when dead bodies were thrown in the Valley of Gehenna, most were destroyed with fire, but if a body landed on a ledge, worms destroyed it just as completely. Thus Gehenna is a good picture of Second Death.

Reply: Notice that corpses were thrown into Gehenna, not live bodies. Therefore, the idea of eternal torment is not taught by the Valley of Hinnom. The remains were destroyed.

Mark 9:49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

This verse begins with “for,” and hence is a conclusion or has a relationship with the hand, foot, and eye needing drastic action if they offend, stumble, or spiritually injure us.

Comment: The implication is that we will all receive strong temptations and trials.

Reply: Our consecration vows entail, among other things, some serious sacrifices to show the depth of our consecration.

The end of verse 49, “and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt,” is spurious, but in the Old Testament, all sacrifices were salted with salt. A handful of salt was thrown on the sacrifice

(Lev. 2:13). Ezekiel 43:24 shows that in the Third Temple, salt will have to be offered with sacrifices just as under the Mosaic Law. The spiritual lesson is that service should be rendered willingly, wholeheartedly, and enthusiastically—with zeal. It is a favor, a blessing, to serve God.

With regard to the hand, foot, and eye admonition, the advice is to stay clear of temptations. We are not to get into danger unnecessarily. Where we have weaknesses, we must deny ourselves privileges that others have. Almost everyone has something wrong with the eye, the hand, or the foot. A wandering of the eye or a defect in activity or conduct must be dealt with. The best safeguard is to be fully immersed in the Lord.

Mark 9:50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it?

Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.

Another aspect of salt is its preservative quality. If one loses his desire to serve the Lord and his love for the truth, retrieval is nearly impossible. Once one cools off and truth no longer has an energizing influence, the situation can be hopeless. But if one has zeal with the weakness and deals sternly to overcome the weakness, he can be reinstated.

If one leaves the fellowship but continues to study, his retrieval is more likely. Those who leave and do not study usually cannot be retrieved, for the salt loses its saltness. Lamentations 4:1 reads, “How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.” The gold itself does not dim, or tarnish. Rather, the problem is with the one beholding the gold—his appreciation of divine things grows dim. When spiritual eyesight dims, restoration is virtually impossible. And salt without “saltness” is good only to be trodden underfoot (Second Death). That is one reason why Second Death will never be destroyed; namely, it cleanses God’s universe. Should one disobey in the illimitable future, God will always have that ability, or prerogative, with all of His creations. It is good when a contaminating influence is trodden underfoot. Even literal salt that loses its savor serves a purpose when it is trodden underfoot, for although it is useless for flavoring food, it will melt ice on a sidewalk. That is a purpose, as is Second Death.

Comment: Salt without saltness has lost its preservative quality. The context speaks about being cast into hell (destruction, Second Death), and salt without saltness will not preserve life.

“Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.” Salt is a preservative, so the lesson is not to destroy one another. Comments should be constructive and edifying, not destructive.

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Eph. 4:29). “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4:6). As we mature, we should have more and more of this characteristic.

 

 

(1993–1994 Study)

 

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