Mark

5:1-20

The journey begins, 1:1-5:43

6. The powers defeated, 4:35-5:43

ii] Demons - Gerasene demoniac

The story of the Gerasene demoniac again shows Jesus subduing dark powers with a word of authority. This time the dark powers demonstrate their destructive nature as they seek to distort and destroy the image of God in humanity. In the first part of the story the nature and power of Christ's word over the powers of darkness is revealed. In the second part of the story we witness the demoniac's response of faith, as compared to the crowd's limited response of amazement and fear, a response similar to that of the disciples when confronted by Jesus' stilling of the storm, 4:35-41.

 

The context of this exorcism needs to be noted, particularly its association with the miracle on the lake, 4:35-41. In the stilling of the storm Jesus subdues the dark powers welling up from the abyss. These same powers have possessed the demoniac and with the same word of authority Jesus subdues them and drives them back where they belong.

 
5:1

Mark begins his account of Jesus' meeting with the demon-possessed man, v1-2.

hlqon (ercomai) aor. pl. "They went" - The Plural indicating the presence of the disciples although they play no part in the story.

eiV to peran "across [the lake]" - to the other side [of the lake].

thn cwran (a) "the region" - place, country. Here possibly in a political, rather than geographical sense, so "the territory around the city / environs", Boring.

twn Gerashnwn "the Gerasenes" - Variants exist, the least attested is "Gergesenes". Gergesa, now the modern village of Kursi, is situated on the edge of a plateau on the east bank of the Sea of Galilee. Gundry opts for this variant, see his notes 255/6. The best attested is "Gerasenes", Gerasa, now the modern city of Jerash, 35 miles south east of the Sea of Galilee, but not known to be territorially linked to the Sea of Galilee. Matthew's placement of the story at Gadara may be his own attempt to sort out the geography, Gadara being 5 miles south east of the lake with territorial links to the lake. Marcus opts for "Gerasenes" for symbolic reasons, the root meaning being "to banish". Guelich stays with the stronger reading suggesting that "the region of" solves the geographical problem. Boring goes with the stronger reading, suggesting that Origen was responsible for the entrance of "Gergesenes" into the MSS tradition.

 
v2

exelqontoV autou gen. "when [Jesus] got" - he having come, gone. The genitive participle + the genitive pronoun forming a genitive absolute = a temporal clause, as NIV. A "clumsy use of the genitive absolute", Cranfield. Note how Luke corrects the grammar having the participle agree with the dative pronoun autw/ following the verb "meet", see Zerwick #49.

euquV "-" - immediately [met to him a man]. A typical expression used by Mark to heighten anxiety in the narrative. Not present in some manuscripts.

en preumati akaqartw "with an evil spirit" - with an unclean spirit. A typically Jewish turn of phrase for a person possessed by a demon, possessed by one of Satan's minions. The term "unclean spirit" appears 11 times in Mark.

ek twn mnhmeiwn (on) "came from the tombs" - out of the tomb. Mark also uses the word mnhma, but theories on source differences seem a bit far fetched. "People were often buried in cave-like openings dug into the rock, big enough for a person to enter on foot, and usually high enough inside to allow a person to stand upright. Such a place would provide shelter for a man who had no other place to live", Bratcher. The demoniac's dwelling in tombs possibly emphasizes Jesus confrontation with the powers, namely "the power of death", Gundry, but certainly illustrates his wretched condition under the power of demonic forces, forces that Jesus will now confront and defeat.

 
v3

Mark goes on to describe the demoniac's wretchedness and the power of his possessors, v3-5. "Taken together, v3-5 contain the four characteristics of insanity in Judaism: a] running about at night; b] spending the night in a cemetery; c] tearing one's garments; and d] destroying what one has been given", Guelich.

eicen (ecw) imperf. "lived" - [who the dwelling] had. The imperfect is descriptive, used to describe what was taking place in the past. "This man had his home among the tombs", Barclay.

ouketi oudeiV "no one [could bind him] any longer, not even [with a chain]" - no longer no one. Emphatic double negative. Further describing the wretched condition of the man. "And not even with a chain could anyone any longer bind him", TH.

dhsai (dew) aor. inf. "[could] bind" - [was able] to bind. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of "was able".

alusei (iV ewV) dat. "with a chain" - The dative is instrumental, as NIV.

 
v4

dia to + inf. "for" - for [having]. This preposition governs three verbal infinitives, all perfect passives, usually forming a causal clause, "because of", but here expressing "past circumstances which explain the present situation", Taylor, cf. Burton #408. Cranfield notes that gar + ind. "would have been more natural." Lit. "On account of his having (often) been bound (with fetters and chains) and the chains having been burst (by him) and the fetters broken ..." = "he had often been bound ...... but had burst .....", Zerwick.

dedesqai (dew) perf. pas. inf. "been chained [hand and foot]" - had been bound [with shackles and chains]. The use of the perfect tense increases the vividness of the description, as if the words of the eyewitnesses are being recorded. Note how Mark returns to the imperfect tense with "no one was strong enough to subdue him". The inability of people to constrain the man illustrates the power of the demons and therefore the necessary power that Jesus will need to employ to subdue the evil spirits.

 
v5

dia + gen. "-" - through (in time and place). "Throughout the night and day" = "all the time", "continually", Cranfield.

h\n krazwn (krazw) imperf. verb to-be + pres. part. "he would cry out" - he was crying out. A periphrastic imperfect construction possibly emphasizing the degree of his "shrieking", Moffatt; "he roared and raged among the tombs", Junkins.

katakoptwn (katakoptw) pres. part. "cut himself [with stones]" - Periphrastic imperfect as above. The verb "cut to pieces" can also take the meaning "beat / bruise", although most translations go with "cutting", "lacerating himself", Gundry, but possibly "bruising himself with stones", NAB. We can always cover all bases, eg. "slicing and bruising himself with sharp rocks", Junkins. However we take the word, the description is of self-destructive behavior.

 
v6

The story of Jesus' meeting with the demoniac, and of exorcising him, is continued, v6-13. It is difficult to know whether the demoniac has some control over the situation, for example, his kneeling before Jesus. We are probably best served if we interpret the account as a revelation of the corrupt power of the demonic force and therefore the superior power of the Son of Man. The subduing of demonic forces proclaims the coming kingdom; the day of judgment is at hand for the powers of darkness are even now being banished to the abyss. So, we are best to read the actions of the demoniac as attempts by the demons themselves to frustrate the exorcism, or at least to keep their options open for another time (ie. to be allowed to possess the pigs). The act of kneeling, the raised voice, a claim that Jesus has no right to interfere with them, a precise description of Jesus' person (the knowledge of a person gives power over them), an invocation in God's name, the evasive answer to Jesus' request for their name and the seeking of concessions (the pigs), are all most likely power-plays by the demonic forces.

idwn (eidon) aor.. part. "when he saw [Jesus]" - seeing. The participle is adverbial, temporal, as NIV.

prosekunhsen (proskunew) aor + dat. "fell on his knees" - did obeisance, worshipped, fell down before, prostrated before [to him]. This word, usually followed by the dative in the NT, is often translated as "worship". Here in the sense of a reverential response to a superior, although as noted above, probably with deceptive intent (assuming that the action is prompted by the demonic forces and not the demoniac himself). "He ran and knelt before him", Phillips.

 
v7

kraxaV (kradzw) aor. part. "he shouted [at the tope of his voice]" - shouting [in a loud voice he said]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verbs "he ran and knelt". "On catching sight of Jesus from afar, he ran and knelt before him, shrieking aloud", Moffatt.

ti emoi kai soi "what do you want with me" - what to me and to you. An interesting turn of phrase expressing the thought "why dost thou meddle with me".

uJyistou sup. adj. "[Jesus, Son of the] most high [God]" - [Jesus son of God] highest. The use of such a full description of Jesus' identity by the demonic powers probably serves as an attempt to control him - if you know the person you can control the person. Salespersons, even today, use the same technique.

orkizw pres. "swear [to God]" - I implore, adjure, entreat [you] / I put [you] under an oath .... [by God]. Followed by two accusatives, "you" and "God", the second accusative indicating under whose authority the entreaty is made; "that by which one swears", Zerwick. Possibly, "for God's sake, don't torture me", Barclay, or maybe a more aggressive "before God / under God's name/authority, I demand that you not meddle with me."

mh basanish/V (basanizw) aor. subj. "that you won't torture [me]" - do not torment, examine by torture [me]. Hortatory subjunctive, or prohibitive subjunctive, cf.. Wallace p469. The NIV has formed a dependent statement, but better as Barclay above. Possibly a plea that Jesus not act in judgment against them before the time of the eschatological judgment, cf. Marcus, possibly just "a fear of banishment from the spirit's home", cf. Guelich, but better a demand not to be banished, before time, from the world of human existence and eternally incarcerated in the underworld, the primeval bog of the dark leviathan, ie. hell, cf. Rev.14:11, 20:10, cf. Gundry. Luke certainly seems to express the view that "what the demons fear is imprisonment before their destruction", Taylor, cf. Lk.8:31. "Do not torture me", Moffatt.

 
v8

gar "for" - Explanatory, explaining that "the shout represents the unclean spirit's attempts to resist exorcism", Gundry.

elegen (legw) imperf. "[Jesus] had said" - The imperfect is probably inceptive, probably best translated as a pluperfect, "he had begun saying", Taylor. Jesus had begun the exorcism with the words as quoted, but the demons have interrupted with their plea, so presumably Jesus halts the exorcism and starts to converse with them. Probably best expressed by "he was about to say", Gunrdy.

exelqe (exercomai) aor. imp. "come out" - The aorist imperative expresses punctiliar action.

akaqarton adj. "evil [spirit]" - unclean. "Come out of this man you many wicked, dirty spirits", Junkins.

 
v9

ephrwta (eperwtaw) imperf. "[Jesus] asked [him]" - asked, enquired. Imperfect is again probably inceptive, "Jesus began to ask him."

ti onoma soi "what is your name" - what name you. It is very unlikely that Jesus needs to know the name of the demonic powers to exercise authority over them. So, Jesus' request is probably nothing more than a "who are you". Possibly "asked the man his identity", Junkins, as if to help the man himself recall his identity, but it is more likely that Jesus is conversing with the demonic powers, even though the masculine "asked him" is used by Mark. The man might be uttering the words, but it is the demonic powers who are doing the communicating.

legiwn "Legion" - A legion was a term used of a Roman military formation of "4,000 to 6,000 men", Cranfield, but it is very doubtful that the story is an allegory of Roman occupation, cf. Boring p151. The demonic powers are probably lying, even evading the question (just a collective noun rather than a name, so Gundry), but it possible that they have answered as directed, even explaining why their name is "Legion" - because "there are many of us", Cassirer. What we probably have here is an evasive description of the demonic coven, with a warning to Jesus that "we are many".

 
v10

parekalei (parakalew) imperf. "he begged [Jesus]" - he was begging, imploring, urging. The imperfect is durative. Note, "he", singular, again identifies the man as doing the actual speaking for "them", plural. "They begged him earnestly ...", Moffatt, although "earnestly" is a bit off the mark; "made strong entreaty of Jesus", Cassirer.

polla adv. "again and again" - greatly. "Repeatedly he (they) pleaded with Jesus", Barclay.

iJna + subj. "-" - that. Forming a dependent statement of entreating, "he begged ... that he not send them ..."

exw thV cwraV "out of the area" - out of the country. There seems to be the idea that demons like their own area of operation, cf. Lk.11:24f. It is sometimes understood that they ask Jesus not drive them off into a lonely place, this resting on the folk idea that demons were usually sent to uninhabited mountains, the ends of the earth, the sea, and particularly deserts, where they can no longer harm people. As already noted, what they fear is confinement in the abyss/hell.

 
v11

de "-" - but, and. Introducing the next phase in the story.

boskomenh (boskw) pres. pas. part. "feeding" - [there was there, near the mountain, a great heard of pigs] feeding. The participle may be treated as adjectival, describing the pigs, "there was there, on the hillside, a great hear of pigs which were feeding", but also it may be treated as a periphrastic imperfect construction; h\n .... boskomenh, "there was feeding there". A heard of pigs indicates that the region is Gentile, given that Jewish law prohibits the keeping of pigs.

proV + dat. "on the nearby [hillside]" - at [the mountain]. This use of this preposition for proximity, "at / close to / nearby", is not common, although Cranfield suggests that here it means "on [the hill]". The "mountain", obviously simply describing steep terrain, links with the stampede of the pigs down "the steep bank".

 
v12

The gig is up and so the demons employ their last strategy by seeking a concession. So, we see unfold "a tricked devil" story, cf. Bultman, rather than a "gentle-Jesus meek and mild" story which seeks to soften his responsibility.

parekalesan (parakalew) aor. "[The demons] begged [Jesus]" - they urged, exhorted. Note now the plural is used for the demoniac as he speaks, although we shouldn't make much of it given the difficulty of handling the "he/them" situation. "And they appealed to him", Berkeley.

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "-" - saying. Redundant attendant circumstance participle.

pemyon (pempw) aor. imp. "send" - The aorist expressing punctiliar action, also possibly expressing "a particular request", Cranfield.

iJna + subj. "allow" - that [we may enter them]. Probably forming a purpose, or result (intended) clause, "that we may enter them", Moffatt, or possibly a rare example of the imperatival use of iJna, cf Moule p144, so NIV, Cassirer, Barclay, ... "So that we may enter them", Marcus.

 
v13

The concession granted, the demons bring about their own destruction / encasement in the abyss, by startling the pigs and driving them into the sea. The folk motif of tricking the demons is certainly present and would prompt great humor, but above all, the story proclaims the realization/inauguration of the kingdom of God with the messiah's defeat of hostile powers. The modern reader, of course, is prompted by concerns of economic interference (the loss of 2,000 pigs is no laughing matter!) and cruelty to animals. The preacher is encouraged to navigate this minefield carefully, possibly by emphasizing the reduced carbon footprint!!!

exelqonta (exercomai) aor. part. "[and the evil spirits] came out" - having come out. The participle is probably adverbial, temporal; "then came out the unclean spirits", Moffatt.

wJV "about [two thousand in number]" - about [two thousand]. With numbers this particle expresses approximation; "there were about two thousand of them", Barclay.

wJrmhsen (oJrmaw) aor. "rushed" - Meaning "set in motion", but usually intransitive, so "rush". Used of the "unreasoning onrush of a crowd", Swete. Driven mad, the pigs rushed to their destruction. "With a great birre the folk was cast doun", Wycliffe.

kata + gen. "down" - down. "Sent the hogs over the cliff and into the sea where they were drowned", Junkins. tou krhmnou (oV) "the steep bank" - precipice, steep bank. "The overhanging bank", Taylor.

 
v14

The focus of the story now moves to the reaction of the crowd which hears of the exorcism and comes out to witness what has occurred, v14-17. As with the disciples in the story of the stilling of the storm, the response of the crowd is "fear". "They realize they are in the presence of someone for whom .... the world is not the unchangeable, unnoticed givenness of everyday life, and this is scary indeed", Boring. "Fear" is not "faith", but it is a step toward faith.

oiJ boskonteV (boskw) pres. part. "those tending [the pigs]" - the ones feeding [them]. The participle functions as a substantive. "The herdsmen", Barclay.

eiV + acc. "in [the town and countryside]" - to [the town and hamlets]. An example of en + dat. being replaced by eiV + acc. (some + dat.), a process now complete in modern Gk. See Zerwick #99. "Spreading the story in the city ...", Cassirer.

idein (eidon) aor. inf. "to see" - The infinitive is verbal, expressing purpose, "in order to see".

ti estin to gegonoV (ginomai) perf. part. "what had happened" - what is the happening. Indirect question in the tense and mood of direct speech, see Porter p274/5, "what is happening?" = "and they came to see what was happening". The articular participle functioning as a substantive forming an object clause; "what it was that had taken place", Wuest.

 
v15

ercontai (ercomai) pres. "when they came [to Jesus]" - they come. Historic present. They came to "have a good look at" the former demoniac. Mann.

ton daimonizomenon (daimonizomai) pres. part. "the man [who had] been possessed" - the one being demon possessed. The participle functions as a substantive, "the demon-possessed man".

ton eschkota (ecw) perf. part. "who had [been possessed] by [the legion of demons]" - the one having had [the legion]. The participle forms an adjectival clause; "who had the legion". The perfect tense may express the continuing state of being no longer possessed, or it may be a dramatic perfect, used for effect.

kaqhmenon (kaqhmai) pres. part. "sitting there" - sitting [having been clothed and being of sound mind]. The participle, as with the two that follow, functions as an object complement (acc. construction), making a statement about the object, "the man". "They saw the lunatic sitting down, clothed and in his sober senses", Moffatt.

efobhqhsan (fobew) aor. pas. "they were afraid" - The word can take a natural sense, meaning "fainthearted / scared / fearful", and certainly there is evidence of this sense in its usage in the synoptics, yet the religious sense of "awe" is also present. Whether it be the disciples, as in the stilling of the storm, or the crowds, either Jews, or as here, Gentiles, Jesus' miracles prompt a response that is best described as a "scary wonderment", a breathtaking trembling amazement. Most people continue with their unease, but some move on to faith. In fact, given the ending of the gospel with the women leaving the tomb in "terror and amazement", it is clear that Mark intentionally leaves his readers in a state of wonderment that they might consider a move from "fear" to "faith".

 
v16

oiJ idonteV (eidon) aor. part. "those who had seen" - the ones having seen. Participle as a substantive. Referring to the herdsmen.

pwV "what" - how. Not "what had happened", as in v14, but "how" it had happened, ie. the exercise of Jesus' power, cf. Gundry. "Everyone who had seen what had happened (the herdsmen), told about the man and the pigs", CEV.

peri + gen. "[and] told about [the pigs as well]" - [and] about, concerning [the pigs]. Reference.

 
v17

hrxanto (arcw) aor. "[then] the people began" - [and] they began. The subject is unclear, either the herdsmen, or the villagers.

parakalein (parakalew) pres. inf. "to plead to" - to urge, exhort. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of "began". It is "urge / plead", not "command". Mark continues to display Jesus' power and authority. Jesus is someone who "can only be besought, not ordered about", Gundry.

apelqein (apercomai) aor. inf. "to leave [their region]" - to leave, depart [from the region of them]. The infinitive forms a dependent statement / indirect speech of entreating, "they began to plead that Jesus leave their district." This request is obviously prompted by their fear. See intro. v14, for "fear" in terms of "a confrontation with Jesus' supreme authority", Anderson. The fear of economic loss is a very unlikely theme for Mark, eg. "offended, it seems, by the loss of their property, they ask Jesus to leave them", Cranfield, also Guelich.

 
v18

We now come to the end of Mark's extended exorcism story - the crowd has responded with "fear," but the demoniac responds in "faith", v18-20. The account has a number of unusual features: the demoniac asks to follow Jesus, but is refused; Jesus tells the demoniac to go and tell what the Lord had done rather than maintain the messianic secret as elsewhere. Both features can be explained by the demoniac being a Gentile, although Mark does not settle the matter for us. Certainly Decapolis was a predominately Gentile area, but there was a Jewish population.

embainontoV (embainw) pres. "as [Jesus] was getting [into the boat]" - [he] entering, embarking [into the boat]. The participle, part of a genitive absolute, is adverbial, temporal, as NIV.

parekalei (parakalew) imperf. "begged" - exhorted. The imperfect is probably durative (progressive) expressing ongoing action; "pleaded to be allowed to stay with him", Barclay.

iJna + subj. "-" - that. Forming a dependent statement / indirect speech of entreating; "begged that he might be with him". "Be with him" is not quite "follow him", but surely discipleship is implied and therefore his response serves as an expression of faith.

 
v19

ouk afhken (afihmi) "[Jesus] did not let him" - he did not allow, permit.

eiV ton oikon "to [your] family" - to the house [of you].

proV touV souV "-" - to the ones of you. Clearly extending his witness beyond his family; "to your people / the people of your area (region, so "countrymen)", Guelich.

apaggeilon (apaggelw) aor. imp. "tell [them]" - tell, report, announce. Variant diaggeilon "used of missionary activity in Lk.9:60, ....", Taylor, but most likely not original so here "informal report". None-the-less, the man is certainly to function as one of Jesus' sent-ones bearing witness to the exorcism (sign) which he experienced, although not as a witness of the gospel as such.

oJ kurioV "the Lord" - Obviously "God" is intended, not Jesus.

pepoihken (poiew) perf. "has done" - The perfect tense expresses the past act of exorcism with its ongoing effect of being free from possession. This is followed by an aorist verb expressing God's punctiliar action of mercy toward him.

 
v20

khrussein (khrussw) pres. inf. "[began] to preach" - to proclaim, announce, tell, The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "began". This word certainly has missionary precedence, telling of what Jesus (not God) had done. "Began to spread ..... the story", Phillips.

autw/ "[how much Jesus had done] for him" - to him. Dative of advantage, so "for him", as NIV.

th/ Dekapolei (iV ewV) "the Decapolis" - "Throughout the entire area of the land of ten cities", Junkins.

eqaumazon (qaumazw) imperf. "[the people] were amazed" - [all] were amazed, astonished, marveled. The imperfect expresses durative action. As already noted, this "fear / amazement" word is very important for Mark, functioning as a precursor to faith. The central point of this story, namely, Jesus power and authority over the dark powers, is maintained not only in the response of the herdsmen and the people from the surrounding villages, but of the people of Decapolis who respond with amazement on hearing the story from the demoniac.

 

Mark Introduction

 

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