The Holy See
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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 3


1 Again he entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand.


They watched him closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him.


He said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up here before us."


Then he said to them, "Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" But they remained silent.


Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out and his hand was restored.


2 The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.


3 Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people (followed) from Galilee and from Judea.


Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.


He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him.


He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him.


4 And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, "You are the Son of God."


He warned them sternly not to make him known.


He went up the mountain 5 and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him.


He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him 6 and he might send them forth to preach


and to have authority to drive out demons:


7 (he appointed the twelve:) Simon, whom he named Peter;


James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder;


Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean,


and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.


8 9 He came home. Again (the) crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat.


When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."


The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," 10 and "By the prince of demons he drives out demons."


Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, "How can Satan drive out Satan?


If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.


And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.


And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him.


But no one can enter a strong man's house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.


Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them.


But whoever blasphemes against the holy Spirit 11 will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin."


For they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."


His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him.


A crowd seated around him told him, "Your mother and your brothers 12 (and your sisters) are outside asking for you."


But he said to them in reply, "Who are my mother and (my) brothers?"


And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers.


(For) whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."



1 [1-5] Here Jesus is again depicted in conflict with his adversaries over the question of sabbath-day observance. His opponents were already ill disposed toward him because they regarded Jesus as a violator of the sabbath. Jesus' question Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil? places the matter in the broader theological context outside the casuistry of the scribes. The answer is obvious. Jesus heals the man with the withered hand in the sight of all and reduces his opponents to silence; cf John 5:17-18.

2 [6] In reporting the plot of the Pharisees and Herodians to put Jesus to death after this series of conflicts in Galilee, Mark uses a pattern that recurs in his account of later controversies in Jerusalem ( Mark 11:17-18; 12:13-17). The help of the Herodians, supporters of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, is needed to take action against Jesus. Both series of conflicts point to their gravity and to the impending passion of Jesus.

3 [7-19] This overview of the Galilean ministry manifests the power of Jesus to draw people to himself through his teaching and deeds of power. The crowds of Jews from many regions surround Jesus ( Mark 3:7-12). This phenomenon prepares the way for creating a new people of Israel. The choice and mission of the Twelve is the prelude ( Mark 3:13-19).

4 [11-12] See the note on Mark 1:24-25.

5 [13] He went up the mountain: here and elsewhere the mountain is associated with solemn moments and acts in the mission and self-revelation of Jesus ( Mark 6:46; 9:2-8; 13:3). Jesus acts with authority as he summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him.

6 [14-15] He appointed twelve [whom he also named apostles] that they might be with him: literally "he made," i.e., instituted them as apostles to extend his messianic mission through them ( Mark 6:7-13). See the notes on Matthew 10:1 and 10:2-4.

7 [16] Simon, whom he named Peter: Mark indicates that Simon's name was changed on this occasion. Peter is first in all lists of the apostles ( Matthew 10:2; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13; cf 1 Cor 15:5-8).

8 [20-35] Within the narrative of the coming of Jesus' relatives ( Mark 3:20-21) is inserted the account of the unbelieving scribes from Jerusalem who attributed Jesus' power over demons to Beelzebul ( Mark 3:22-30); see the note on Mark 5:21-43. There were those even among the relatives of Jesus who disbelieved and regarded Jesus as out of his mind ( Mark 3:21). Against this background, Jesus is informed of the arrival of his mother and brothers [and sisters] ( Mark 3:32). He responds by showing that not family ties but doing God's will (35) is decisive in the kingdom; cf the note on Matthew 12:46-50.

9 [20] He came home: cf Mark 2:1-2 and see the note on Mark 2:15.

10 [22] By Beelzebul: see the note on Matthew 10:25. Two accusations are leveled against Jesus: (1) that he is possessed by an unclean spirit, and (2) by the prince of demons he drives out demons. Jesus answers the second charge by a parable ( Mark 3:24-27) and responds to the first charge in Mark 3:28-29.

11 [29] Whoever blasphemes against the holy Spirit: this sin is called an everlasting sin because it attributes to Satan, who is the power of evil, what is actually the work of the holy Spirit, namely, victory over the demons.

12 [32] Your brothers: see the note on Mark 6:3.

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