The journey to God's mountain, 6:1-10:52

2. Growing faith, 8:22-10:52

ix] Jesus teaches suffering and true discipleship #3. Service


Mark now provides us with the third unit of teaching about the Son of Man's dying and rising. The prophecy concerning Christ's passion is again followed up with application, this time with reference to the disciples seeking status. James and John ask Jesus to place them in positions of honour, which request causes a strong reaction from the other disciples. Jesus goes on to point out that the first is the slave of all; to this end the Son of Man came "to give his life a ransom for many."


Greatness in the kingdom is found in service to the servant of all who gave his life as a ransom for many.


i] Context: See 8:22-30.


ii] Structure: The example of Jesus:

Jesus' third passion prediction, 32-34;

A discussion on serving - the path to glory is service, v35-45;

The request of James and John, v35-37;

A saying on drinking the cup of Jesus, v38-39;

Jesus' rejection of their request, v40;

The reaction of the other disciples, v41;

Glory in service, v42-45:

Lording it over others, v42-44,

The Son of Man, a ransom for many, v45.


Note that v38-39, and 41-42b are regarded by some as redactional.


iii] Interpretation:

"The climax of the gospel story is approaching. Somewhere on the road to Jerusalem Jesus, for the third time, predicts his passion and resurrection", Hunter, v32-34. "After each of the three predictions of Jesus' death, there is a discussion between Jesus and his disciples in which he corrects their view of his work and of their role as disciples, and this passage serves as the final example. Having just predicted in some detail the ignominious fate that awaits him in Jerusalem, Jesus is approached by two of the inner ring of disciples, who have their eyes only on the glory they imagine for him and for themselves, v35-37. The thrust of Jesus' reply in v41-45 is very similar to his teaching in 9:33-37, emphasising the image of the servant", Hurtado.


Having examined the issues of humility (dependence on Christ's cross-bearing), listening (hearing Christ), acquiescence (greatness is not found in privilege) inclusion (welcoming a fellow believer), and receiving (kingdom blessings are received as a gift rather than earned by doing), Mark now examines the issue of serving. As with the other two passion predictions and their attached discourse on discipleship, we again learn that "the economy of the kingdom is not based on power and control, but on service and giving, for the latter are not only the ethics of the kingdom, but the means of redemption", Edwards.

On the one hand, we are asked to assimilate, imbibe, Jesus' leadership on our behalf. The Suffering Servant provides the way for the realisation of divine grace; his life-giving service brings with it new life for those who rely on his service. On the other hand, Jesus' leadership instructions provide a model of service for the church. "As cultural standards do not determine attitudes to marriage, divorce, children, and wealth for Jesus' followers, so they do not determine leadership style. Conventional models of status and self-esteem are reversed, with the Son of Man himself as the supreme role model", Boring.

The service of the Son of Man ransoms those who put their trust in him for salvation, which trust generates within them a disregard for status, and a regard for service. Like blind Bartimaeus, the disciples will soon find faith, and their faith will heal / save them.


iv] Synoptics:

The third passion prediction: Matt.20:17-19; Lk.18:31-34. Matthew aligns with Mark, Luke is somewhat reduced.

Service in the kingdom: Matt.20:20-28. Matthew again aligns with Mark, although it is interesting that in Matthew it is the mother of James and John who seeks precedence for her sons. Is this a development in the oral tradition where the a woman is now blamed for improper behaviour of men?


v] Exposition: A simple verse-by-verse exposition of this passage can be found in the pew-level sermon notes The Example of Jesus.

Text - 10:32

Suffering and true discipleship, v32-45; i] Jesus' third prediction of his passion, v32-34: Mark tells us that Jesus, with steely determination, now sets his face toward Jerusalem. The disciples respond in amazement at his resolve, given the dangers that await them there. But first, Jesus takes them aside to explain the purpose of the journey. Jesus' prediction of his death is far more detailed than the previous predictions recorded in Mark. The prophetic predictions repeat: delivered over to the chief priests and scribes; sentenced to death; executed; and resurrected. The prediction adds: delivered to the Romans and mocked, spat on and scourged. The extra elements serve to emphasise suffering: "they will condemn him to death", "and will hand him over to the Gentiles", "and they will mock him", "and they will spit on him", "and they will flog him". The elements are the same as in the passion narrative, chapters 14-16, and serve to fulfil Ps.22:6-8, Isa.50:6. So, Jesus' humiliation is at hand.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional; indicating a step in the narrative.

en + dat. "on" - [they were] on [the way]. Local; expressing space, "on the road", ESV. "The way" may imply "the way of the cross", Edwards.

anabainonteV (anabainw) pres. part. "up to" - going up [to, into jerusalem]. The participle is adverbial, possibly final, expressing purpose, "in order to reach Jerusalem." The "going up" is expressive of a local view of things, here of going up in height. In Australia going up refers to going North.

h\n proagwn (proagw) pres. part. "leading the way" - [and jesus] was leading, preceding [them]. Periphrastic imperfect construction, possibly serving to emphasise the imperfective aspect, ie. ongoing movement.

eqambounto (qambew) imperf. pas. "the disciples were amazed" - [and] they were amazed, astonished. The "amazement" of the disciples (the assumed subject) is unexplained, but probably they are responding to Jesus, who, having set his face toward Jerusalem and the cross, now paces out in front of them as he heads toward his destiny. For Mark, "amazement" serves as a limited response to Jesus, a response that hopefully leads to "faith". "Jesus strides resolutely ahead, and others follow in amazement and fear", Boring.

oiJ ... akolouqounteV (alolouqew) pres. part. "while those who followed" - [and] the ones following [were afraid]. The participle probably serves as a substantive, although the presence of de in the construction often indicates in Mark that it is adverbial, possibly temporal; "but some, while following, were afraid", Gundry.

palin adv. "again" - again. Presumably "again" Jesus separates the disciples from the following crowd.

paralabwn (paralambanw) aor. part. "he took [the twelve] aside" - having taken aside [the twelve]. The participle is adverbial, probably consecutive, expressing result; "so once again he took the twelve aside", Moffatt.

legein (legw) pres. inf. "told" - [he began] to say [to them]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "began".

ta mellonta (mellw) pres. part. "what was going" - the things about. The participle serves as a substantive, the accusative direct object of "he began to say." The "about to happen" is probably not just referring to a future possibility, but a future imperative, what is "going to happen."

sumbainein (sumbainw) pres. inf. "to happen" - to happen, come about. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the participle "the things about". "The things which would happen to him", Cassirer.

autw/ dat. pro. "to him" - to him. Dative of reference / respect.


oJti "-" - Here introducing direct speech.

toiV arciereusin (euV ewV) dat. "to the chief priests" - [behold, i go up to, into, jerusalem and the son of man will be delivered up] to the chief priests [and to the scribes]. Dative of indirect object.

qanatw/ (oV) dat. "[condemn him] to death" - [and they will condemn him] to death. The dative is adverbial, reference, respect.

toiV eqnesin (oV) dat. "to the Gentiles" - [and they will deliver him] to the nations, gentiles. Dative of indirect object. "They will hand him over to the Romans", Barclay.


autw/ dat. pro. "him" - [and they will mock, ridicule] him. Dative of direct object after the en prefix verbs "to ridicule" and "to spit on."

mastigwsousin (mastigow) fut. "flog" - [and spit on him and] they will flog, whip [him and kill him]. The word is primarily used to describe the whipping given to a criminal condemned to death, ie., "scourge".

meta + acc. "later" - [and] after [three days he will rise up]. Temporal use of the preposition.


iii] Jesus' teaching on the issue of service in the kingdom, v35-45. a) The request of James and John, v35-37: The disciples see in Jesus the eschatological messiah who will reestablish the throne of David in Jerusalem. There may be some hardship in the struggle ahead, but James and John want to sit next to Jesus in the place of honour at the messianic banquet on the day of his coronation.

It is unclear whether James and John are seeking precedence over the other disciples, although the reaction of the ten points in that direction. Maybe it's the ten who need to learn that "God's kingdom is not based on power and control but on service and giving", Edwards. If viewed positively, we may say that James and John were seeking to share in the reign of the Son of Man, to serve with him in the coming kingdom. Indeed, they will serve, they will drink the cup and be baptised in fire; they will serve the kingdom, and be humiliated in their service, yet they must also remember that participation in the kingdom is ultimately found in receiving the service of the Son of Man. The self-giving service of the Son of man both expedites redemption, and serves as a model for life in the Christian community.

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - [and james and john, the sons of zebadee, came] to him. Dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to come to" / dative of destination. More commonly expressed by the preposition proV, "toward". Note variant "James and John, the two (duo) sons of Zebedee, came to him."

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "they said" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "approached"; "they approached and said."

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - to him. Dative of indirect object.

iJna + subj. "[you to do]" - [we wish] that [you may do]. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech / perception expressing what they want / wish.

hJmin dat. pro. "for us" - to = for us. Dative of interest, advantage.

o} ean + subj. "whatever [we ask]" - whatever [we may ask]. Forming an indefinite relative clause, object of "we wish/will." The forward position in the Gk. highlights the humour of their request, "what we want", cf,. Gundry. "Master, we want you to grant us a special request", Phillips.


oJ de "-" - but/and they. Transitional, indicating a step in subject, from James and John to Jesus.

me "me" - [and he said to them, what do you wish] me. Variant omitted by most texts, so "what do you wish I do for you", but it is the more difficult reading because it is syntactically awkward. Decker suggests an ellipsis, with qelete, "you will / wish", taking the complementary infinitive poihsai, "to do" and me, "me", serving as the accusative subject of the infinitive; "What do you want me to do? I will do it for you."

poihsw aor. subj. "to do" - that i may do. Here introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception, again stating what they want, namely "that I do whatever we ask for you", but without the usual conjunction iJna, "that". Gundry suggests that its omission "sharpens the question", although Plummer, via Taylor, argues that iJna is not used after qelw "when the first verb is in the second person, and the second verb is in the first person."

uJmin "for you" - for you? Dative of interest, advantage.


Clearly James and John recognise Jesus' messianic credentials, but still fail to understand that the kingdom is realised through suffering and that naked ambition does not sit well with kingdom values.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, again indicating a step in subject, here from Jesus to James and John, so also in v38 and 39.

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [they said] to him. Dative of indirect object.

hJmin dat. pro. "-" - [grant, give] to us = allow, let. Dative of indirect object.

iJna + subj. "-" - that. Introducing another dependent statement of indirect speech, this time of requesting, "give to us that ......" The request reflects the tradition that the leading disciple of a Rabbi stands / sits at his right hand and the next in line at his left.

ek "at [your right]" - [one] from [right of you and one from left]. As with ex, "one from your left", the preposition here expresses separation, "away from" = "at"; "at your right hand."

en "in" - [may sit] in. Local; expressing space.

th/ doxh/ "glory" - [the glory] of you. "Glory" is associated with the coming of the Son of Man to the Ancient of days in order to reign. Mark does not specifically say that the disciples are looking to share the messiah's reign, although the idea is certainly present in the gospel tradition, cf., Matt.19:28.


b) Drinking the cup of Jesus, v38-39: Jesus questions their capacity to undergo the suffering he is about to face. Jesus' "glory" involves the humiliation of Isaiah's Suffering Servant, with the "cup" symbolising the wrath of God's judgement upon sin, and "baptism" symbolising overwhelming suffering. James and John claim that they can go the distance, and Jesus predicts that they will indeed "drink the cup" and "be baptized", certainly in their identification with him, but also in the struggle of life - James was later martyred, Act.12:2, and John was to suffer in exile, Rev.1:9. First, Jesus addresses the disciples' failure to recognise that "glory" is via a cross, v38.

piein (pinw) aor. inf. "[can] you drink" - [but/and he jesus said to them, you do not know what you ask, are you able] to drink. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to be able". "Are you able" seems to express "are you capable of drinking the cup that I drink"? Peterson, "have you the strength to drink of the cup that I am to drink of?" Knox. Although stretching the Gk. somewhat, it makes better sense to a modern reader if the question is framed as "are you willing to ....."

to pothrion "the cup" - the cup [which i drink]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to drink." The figurative expression "cup of suffering", is drawn from the "bitter cup", the cup containing the dregs of the wine. This image is often applied to divine punishment, the cup of God's wrath; "the bitter experience through which I must pass", Barclay.

baptisqhnai (baptizw) aor. pas. inf. "be baptised" - [or are you able] to be baptized [in the baptism which i am baptized]? The infinitive is complementary, as above. This Gk. word has a number of figurative uses in the NT, uses which are often confused with the literal sense of "dunking in water", eg. as here, of suffering; other uses include instruction ("immersed in the name"), and the infilling / baptism / washing of God's Spirit. "Can you be submerged in the sea of troubles in which I must be submerged?", Barclay.


Presumably James and John have understood "cup" and "baptism" in the terms of suffering (although some commentators read their response as smug and overconfident) and so show themselves willing and able to undergo this ordeal with Jesus, v39-40. Their ordeal will be persecution, but will not be comparable to the ordeal that Jesus is about to face (cf. Lk.12:50 = substitutionary sacrifice). It is possible, of course, that Mark's account here reflects a post-resurrection view of James and John who did indeed show themselves to be "the sons of thunder." Jesus is predicting the future persecution of James and John ("John the theologian and James his brother, were killed by the Jews", Papias), but it is likely that he also be making the point that the "cup" and "baptism" primarily belongs him, and that disciples vicariously share in them through identification with him.

autoiV dat. pro. "[Jesus said] to them" - [and they said to him, we are able. but/and he jesus said] to them [the cup which i drink you will drink and the baptism which i am baptised you will be baptized]. Dative of indirect object.


c) Jesus' rejection of their request, v40. Jesus makes the point that he is really not into assigning the seating order at the messianic banquet.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step to a contrasting point.

to .... kaqisai (kaqizw) aor. inf. "to sit" - to sit. The articular infinitive forms a nominal phrase, subject of the verb to be. "But the right to sit on my right and left hand is not mine to give you", Barclay.

ek "on" - from [my right or left]. Denoting separation, best expressed in English as "at/on my right side".

dounai (didwmi) aor. inf. "to grant" - [is not me] to give. Forming a nominal phrase object of the verb to-be.

alla "-" - but, rather, on the contrary. "Except for those it has been prepared", ie. alla stands in place of ei mh, so introducing an exceptive clause. This translation implies that Jesus is restricted in the allocation of positions in the kingdom of God, "I am not free to give to any but for those for whom it is already destined", Turner. Some commentators are uneasy with such a restriction, eg., Cranfield, but Jesus may not intend us to take his words too seriously, given that degrees of authority are not found in the kingdom. This is supported by his use of the word euwnumwn for "left" = "on the well named side" = "lucky side", facetiously meaning "unlucky side". Jesus' words are probably nothing more than a gentle rebuke; "I'm not really into organising the seating arrangements in the kingdom." The other option is that we have an ellipsis (missing word) in the clause, "[it is for those] for whom ....", Zerwick, or doqhsetai after alla, "[it will be given] [to those] for whom it has been prepared", making the point "that the allotting of the chief places does not appertain to Jesus, but to God", Cranfield. "Such places belong to those for whom they are intended", Phillips.

oi|V dat. pro. "for whom" - to the one. Dative of interest, advantage; "for those."

hJtoimastai (etoimazw) perf. pas. "they have been prepared" - it has been prepared ("it" = the authority to sit on the lift or right). The perfect tense expresses the fact that the positions have been prepared and are ready to be occupied, but see above.


d) The other apostles are only too aware of what James and John are up to and react accordingly, v41.

akousanteV (akouw) aor. part. "when [the ten] heard" - [and] having heard. The participle is adverbial, best taken temporal, as NIV.

aganaktein (aganaktew) pres. inf. "indignant" - [the ten begin] to be angry, indignant. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "begin". The ESV properly translates the clause as "they began to be indignant", but the sense is surely as NIV.

peri + gen. "with" - about, concerning [james and john]. Reference; "with respect to."


e) Glory in service, v42-45. Jesus gathers the disciples together and gives "a brief but masterly description of the new economy of service and sacrifice for others in action", Anderson.

Lording it over others, v42-44. Jesus explains to the disciples that self-seeking for status, honour, glory, authority... is common in secular management, but is not to be the style of leadership used in the church. Disciples must serve each other, not rule each other. The model of service is Jesus himself.

proskalesamenoV (proskaleomai) aor. part. "[Jesus] called [them] together" - [and] having summoned [them, jesus says to them]. The participle is adverbial, best taken as temporal; "then Jesus called them together", or consecutive, "so [as a result] Jesus called them and said", Moffatt.

oJti "that ....." - [you know] that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception, expressing what they know, as NIV.

oiJ dokounteV (dokew) pres. part. "those who are regarded as" - the ones seeming = the ones having the reputation. Participle serves as a substantive. Jesus is not implying that the secular authorities do not actually possess the right to rule, since they do, under the will of God, rightly "carry great authority over those whom they rule", Junkins. "You know that those who are acknowledged as bearing authority over the Gentiles", Cassirer.

arcein (arcw) pres. inf. "rulers" - to rule. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verbal aspect of the participle "seeming".

twn eqnwn gen. "of the Gentiles" - of the gentiles. The genitive may be classified adjectival, idiomatic, of subordination, "over the Gentiles", or a genitive of direct object after the verb "to rule over."

autwn gen. pro. "[lord it] over them" - [master, exercise power over] them [and the great ones of them rule over, exercise authority over] them. The genitive, as with the pronoun's final use in the verse, is a genitive of direct object after a kata prefix verb; "Lord it over them, and their great ones act in a tyrannical way", Cassirer.


ouc ... estin "not" - [but/and] it is not. "It" = "exercising authority", v42. Functioning as a statement of fact, not a command, TH. "In the new Israel the worldly idea of greatness has no place", Cranfield. "But this is not your way", Berkeley.

ouJtwV adv. "so" - thus, so. Demonstrative adverb. Here referring to what precedes.

en + dat. "with [you]" - in = with [you]. Here expressing association, as NIV.


Saying #1: serving as a slave, v43b-44. This may be regarded as a stitched independent saying if v41-42a is treated as redactional. This saying is virtually a restatement of 9:35. In this saying Jesus "sums up the revolutionary ethics of the kingdom of God. The natural expectations of society are reversed, and leadership is characterised by service", France. The principle in God's new community is that the person who would "be first" must be the servant of all.

all (alla) "instead" - but. Adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ....., but ...".

o}V an + subj. "whoever [wants]" - who if = whoever. Introducing a indefinite relative 3rd class conditional clause where the condition has the possibility of coming true, "whoever, as may be the case, ..... then ....." "If anyone among you should wish to rank high [then] he must be your servant", Cassirer.

genesqai (gimomai) aor. inf. "to be" - [wishes, wills] to become. The infinitive is usually classified as complementary, but it does technically serve to introduce an object clause / dependent statement of perception, although not classified as such.

megaV "great" - first. Predicate adjective. "Rank high", but note the argument that, reflecting Semitic use, a superlative is intended = "greatest / rank the highest", so Rawlinson, Cranfield, but this is unlikely.

en "among" - in = among [you]. Here expressing association, as NIV.

estai (eimi) fut. "he must be" - he shall be = must be. The future tense of the verb to-be takes an imperatival sense here, ie., a volitive future, as NIV.

diakonoV (oV) "[your] servant" - servant, slave [of all]. Both here and in 9:35 diakonoV, "servant", is used, a word which "emphasises the services rendered to the master", Marcus. In v44 douloV, "slave" is used, a word which "emphasises the involuntary aspect of slavery in a legal term", Marcus.


kai "and" - Coordinate; tying in parallel to v43b.

oJV an + subj. "whoever" - if who = whoever. Syntax as in v43; Lit: "whoever, as the case may be, wills to be great among you, then he shall be / must be servant of all."

einai pres. inf. "[wants] to be" - [wishes, wills] to be. Complementary infinitive; see above.

en + dat. "-" - [first] in [you]. Expressing association; "first among you", ESV.

estai (eimi) fut. "must be" - he shall be = must be. The future is read as an imperative, "must be", contra Gundry who says it is a prediction, so "will be."

douloV (oV) "slave" - slave. See above.

pantwn gen. adj. "of all" - of all people. The adjective serves as a substantive, "all people / everyone", the genitive being adjectival, possessive, "everyone's servant."


Saying #2: the Son of Man, a ransom for many, v45. "This ransom saying, with which the passage concludes, is of central importance in Mark's narrative because it is the clearest Markan reflection on the saving purpose of Jesus' death. That death is to be a 'ransom', a payment price that the 'many' are unable to pay for themselves", Marcus. Yet, there is something even more substantial about this verse which often goes unnoticed. The Son of Man, the glorious coming Son of Man, kai, "even", he (ascensive) comes not to be served, but to serve. Christ's service is indeed a modal for a disciple's service, but above all, a disciple's full appropriation of the promised blessings of the covenant are not gained in serving, they are not gained in doing, but in receiving the freely bestowed benefits of Christ's faithful service on our behalf on the cross. It is this lesson the disciples must understand and believe, so that like blind Bartimaeus they will see and be made well.

kai gar "for" - for. Possibly causal, even explanatory, "for indeed", so Mann, emphatic, "indeed", even ascensive, "even", but likely to be a stitching device and so left untranslated.

diakonhqhnai (diakonew) aor. pas. inf. "to serve" - [the son of man did not come] to be served. The infinitive is probably verbal, expressing purpose, "in order to serve." This word serves as the link word between this saying and the previous one. The service is most likely the cross, although Boring argues that it is "the Christ-event as a whole."

dounai (didwmi) aor. inf. "to give" - [but to serve and] to give [the life of him]. The infinitive again expresses purpose, "in order to give."

lutron (on) "a ransom" - a ransom. Serving as the accusative complement of the direct object "life", standing in a double accusative construction and asserting a fact about the object; "give his life as a ransom." The sense of this word is in dispute:

a) The more conservative commentators understand it to mean a ransom-price paid for the release/ of someone, cf., Lev.25:26, 51-52, Ex.21:30, 30:12, Num.18, 35:31-32. With this approach, Jesus' death serves as the payment for the liberation of those in bondage, presumably the bondage of sin, with the death of "the righteous being accepted as compensation for the sins of the people", Nineham. The payment is made to God, through the vehicle of propitiation (the turning aside of God's divine justice / wrath onto the perfect sacrifice, ie., "a full satisfaction of God's justice", Edwards), although some have argued the payment was made to the Devil, eg., Origin.

b) The idea of a literal ransom-price is resisted by many commentators. Cranfield suggests that behind lutron lies the Hebrew word for "guilt-offering", and Isaiah uses this of the Suffering Servant, "thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin. With this approach, the word expresses substitution where Jesus, the Suffering Servant, takes the place of the many who cannot do for themselves; "he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors", Isa.53:12 (so also Lane, Hunter, Gundry, Marcus, France, Evans).

c) Anderson argues that lutron is formed from the same root (luein, "release") as lutrwsiV, "redemption", and that in the LXX and the NT, it is used of "God's deliverance of his people without any notion of a ransom-price paid." With this approach, the word describes a redemptive salvific event where Christ, as the servant of all, gives his life to set God's people free (so also Hurtado, Boring, Taylor, Swete, Hooker, Wessel).

anti "for" - for. Usually understood to mean "instead of / in place of" (applicable to a substitutionary sacrifice), but possibly the softer "for the sake of / on behalf of", may be intended (applicable to a redemptive salvific act). It is very interesting that there is so little theological reflection on the meaning of Jesus' death in the synoptic gospels, reflection in the terms of a sacrifice / ransom, this being the stand-out proposition, cf. Matt.20:28.

pollwn adj. "many" - many. The adjective serves as a substantive. A technical term referring to God's elect people, broken by sin, scattered and lost, who rest on the promise of an eternal inheritance, the kingdom of God, cf., Lane p384. The technical nature of the term is probably best avoided and so translated as "for all", Mann.


Mark Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]