Friday, August 9, 2013

Notes on Mark: What Makes a Man Unclean

MARK 7:14-23
After Jesus' pronouncement that it is what comes from a man's heart that makes him unclean, he then proceeds to list what these are. Barclay looks at the Greek for each term so we get a real feel for the distinctions Jesus was making. And we can see it is a truly terrible list ...
He begins with evil designs (dialogismoi). Every outward act of sin is preceded with an inward act of choice; therefore Jesus begins with the evil through which the evil action comes. Next come fornications (porneiai); later he is to list acts of adultery (moicheiai); but this first word is a wide word -- it means every kind of traffic in sexual vice. There follow thefts (klopai). ... A kleptes is a mean, deceitful, dishonorable pilferer ... Murders (Phonoi) and adulteries come next in the list and their meaning is clear.

Then comes covetous deeds (pleonexiai). Pleonexia comes from two Greek words meaning to have more. It has been defined as the accursed love of having. ... Pleonexia is that lust for having which is in the heart of the man who sees happiness in things instead of in God.

There follow evil deeds. In Greek there are two words for evil -- kakos, which describes a thing which in itself is evil, and poneros, which describes a person or thing which is actively evil. Poneriai is the word used here. The man who is poneros is the man in whose heart there is the desire to harm ... Poneros -- the Evil One -- is the title of Satan.

Next comes dolos; translated guile. It comes from a word which means bait; it is used for trickery and deceit ... It is crafty, cunning, deceitful, clever treachery.

Next on the list is wanton wickedness (aselgeia). The Greeks defined as "a disposition of soul that resents all discipline," as "a spirit that acknowledges no restraints, dares whatsoever its caprice and wanton insolence may suggest."...

Envy is literally the evil eye, the eye that looks on the success and happiness of another in such a way that it would cast an evil spell upon it if it could. The next word is blasphemia. When this is used of words against men it means slander; when it is used of words against God, it means blasphemy. It means insulting man or God.

There follows pride (huperephania). The Greed word literally means "showing oneself above." It describes the attitude of the man "who has a certain contempt for everyone except himself."

Lastly comes folly (aphrosune). This does not mean the foolishness that is due to weakness of intellect and lack of brains; it means moral folly. It describes, not the man who is a brainless fool, but the man who chooses to play the fool.

The Gospel of Mark
(The Daily Bible Series, rev. ed.)

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