Sermon Prep (Mark 3:13–21) I welcome your thoughts, questions and perspectives concerning this passage.

Here is some of the process I go through during the week in my prep feel free to interact with it. I have provided some helps for you in red.
I am looking for constructive questions, opinions, insight etc, on any part or step of the process you do not need to contribute to every question AT THE END.



Mark 3:13–21 (ESV)

13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. 20 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”



  • What kind of writing are we studying?   
    • Mark 3:13–19         Gospel, Gospel Narrative, Commission Narrative
    • Mark 3:20–21         Gospel, Gospel Narrative, Pronouncement Story: Controversy  

Redemptive history:

  • Where is it in relation to the Graeme Goldsworthy list below? 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16
    • 13. The New Creation for Us The province of Judea, the homeland of the Jews, came under Roman rule in 63 BC. During the reign of Caesar Augustus, Jesus was born at Bethlehem, probably about the year 4 BC. John, known as the Baptist, prepared the way for the ministry of Jesus. This ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing began with Jesus’ baptism and lasted about three years. Growing conflict with the Jews and their religious leaders led eventually to Jesus being sentenced to death by the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. He was executed by the Romans just outside Jerusalem, but rose from death two days afterward and appealed to his followers on a number of occasions. After a period with them, Jesus was taken up to
  • How does this passage support this period in redemptive history?  


  • What is the passage about? Look at its context and surrounding text.
    • The plot thickens. Notice how the three groups are immediately brought back into the picture (crowds, 3:7–12; disciples, vv. 13–19; opposition, vv. 20–30; even his family is bewildered, vv. 31–34). The disciples are now “appointed” as the Twelve (representing the remnant of Israel), and their role is stepped up considerably.In 4:1–34 Mark uses Jesus’ teaching in parables to introduce the mystery of the kingdom, which will be revealed to them (those on the inside). The opposition (those “on the outside”), in their failure to hear with their ears (4:9), fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa 6:9–10; cf. his scathing rebuke of people becoming like their idols that cannot hear [Isa 42:18, 20]), but as the story proceeds, the disciples fare little better. (Gordon Fee)

ESVSB Outline

         I.    Introduction (1:1–15)

         II.  Demonstration of Jesus’ Authority (1:16–8:26)

   A.  Jesus’ early Galilean ministry (1:16–3:12)

   B.  Jesus’ later Galilean ministry (3:13–6:6)

         1. Calling of the Twelve (3:13–35)

         2. Parables (4:1–34)

         3. Nature miracle, exorcism, and healing (4:35–5:43)

         4. Rejection at Nazareth (6:1–6)

Overview of Mark (G Fee)

Although Mark is the earliest of the four Gospels (see How to 1, pp. 135–39), because it is shorter and has much less teaching than the others, it has often tended to suffer neglect. At one level his story is straightforward. After a prologue, which introduces us to the good news about Jesus Christ (1:1–15), the story unfolds in four parts.

In part 1 (1:16–3:6), Jesus goes public with the announcement of the kingdom. With rapid-fire action he calls disciples, drives out demons, heals the sick, and announces that all of this has to do with the coming of God’s rule; in the process he draws amazement from the crowds and opposition from the religious and political establishment, who early on plot his death.

Part 2 (3:7–8:21) develops the role of the three significant groups. Jesus’ miracles and teaching are sources of constant amazement to the crowds; the disciples receive private instruction (4:13, 34) and join in the proclamation (6:7–13), but are slow to understand (8:14–21; cf. 6:52); the opposition continues to mount (7:1–23; 8:11–13).

In part 3 (8:22–10:45), Jesus directs his attention primarily to the disciples. Three times he explains the nature of his kingship—and hence of discipleship (8:34–38)—as going the way of the cross (as Isaiah’s suffering servant; Mark 10:45), and three times the disciples completely miss it.

Part 4 (10:46–15:47) brings the story to its climax. The king enters Jerusalem and the crowds go wild with excitement, but in the end the opposition has its day. Jesus is put on trial, found guilty, and turned over to the Romans for execution on a cross—as “the king of the Jews” (15:2).

A brief epilogue (16:1–8) reminds Mark’s readers that “[Jesus] has risen!”


  • What are the ideas in the passage?
  • Alphaeus
  • Andrew
  • Apostleship
  • Bartholomew
  • Bible history, outlined
  • Boanerges
  • Chaldee Language
  • Codex Washingtonensis
  • False accusations
  • Fanaticism
  • Insanity
  • Iscariot, Judas
  • James
  • Jesus, The Christ, History of
  • Jesus, The Christ, Miracles of
  • Jesus, The Christ, Received
  • Jesus, The Christ, Zeal of
  • Judas
  • Justin Martyr
  • Thaddaeus

Key Words:

  • Identify the natural divisions (paragraphs and sentences) of the text.
  • Original word meanings
Verb: ἐξίστημι (existēmi), GK 2014 (S 1839), 17x. existēmi carries two distinct but related meanings. It can mean confusing, astounding, or terrifying. Its secondary meaning is to be out of one’s senses.In most instances, this word denotes amazement or astonishment, as the crowds “were amazed” at Jesus’ miraculous healings and exorcisms (Mt 12:23; Mk 2:12). Jesus’ disciples were “terrified” at his authority over the storm (Mk 6:51) and “stunned” at the women’s news about his resurrection (Lk 24:22). The teachers in the temple were amazed at the young Jesus’ understanding (2:47). The crowds in Jerusalem were amazed at those speaking in tongues at Pentecost (Acts 2:7, 12). In Samaria Simon the magician amazed the crowds with his powers (8:9, 11), then was himself amazed at Philip’s miracles. Saul’s conversion to Christianity (9:21) and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Gentiles (10:45) drew stunned amazement from Jewish believers in Damascus and Joppa, respectively, while Peter’s miraculous escape drew astonishment from believers in Jerusalem (Acts 12:16).existēmi also means “to drive out of one’s wits, be out of one’s mind.” Jesus’ family accused him of being “beside himself” (KJV) or “out of his mind” (NIV) (Mk 3:21), and Paul remarks that his evangelism team is “out of our mind … for the sake of God,” regarding the strength of their convictions about salvation (2 Cor. 5:13). See NIDNTT-A, 175–76.
Noun: ἀπόστολος (apostolos), GK 693 (S 652), 80x. apostolos broadly refers to a “messenger, delegate,” or “sent one.” In classical Greek, apostolos referred to a person of merit sent as an envoy or on behalf of a master in an administrative role. John uses the term in a similar way, applying it to any messenger without the specific idea of an office with special status (Jn 13:16). In contrast, in Luke apostolos is used almost solely as a designation for the Twelve (except in Lk 11:49 and Acts 14:14; in the latter, Luke identifies both Barnabas and Paul as apostles). For Luke, the apostles are God’s messengers or delegates who have unique status among the fledgling churches. Every important decision is made by the apostles, and no independent authority is found outside of this unique group of leaders. Matthew and Mark use apostolos rather sparingly when referring to the Twelve (Mt 10:2; Mk 3:14; 6:30).
Verb: συνέρχομαι (synerchomai), GK 5302 (S 4905), 30x. synerchomai means “to assemble, come together, gather.” (1) This verb can refer to the “assembling” of a group of people. Multitudes “gather” around Jesus because of his overwhelming popularity (Mk 3:20). In contrast, the religious leaders “assemble” in order to try Jesus before the high priest (Mk 14:53). John speaks of “the temple, where all the Jews come together” (Jn 18:20). After the resurrection, the disciples “meet together” with Jesus and ask him about the restoration of the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1:6). In Acts, crowds “gather” to hear the apostles (2:6; 5:16; 10:27; 16:13; 19:32; 28:17).
Noun: ἀπόστολος (apostolos), GK 693 (S 652), 80x. apostolos broadly refers to a “messenger, delegate, or sent one” (see send). In classical Greek, apostolos referred to a person of merit sent as an envoy or on behalf of a master in an administrative role. John uses the term in a similar general way, applying it to any messenger without the specific idea of an office with special status (Jn 13:16). In contrast, in Luke apostolos is used almost solely as a designation for the Twelve (except in Lk 11:49 and Acts 14:14; in the latter, Luke identifies both Barnabas and Paul as apostles). Matthew and Mark use it sparingly for the Twelve (Mt 10:2; Mk 3:14; 6:30). See apostle.
Noun: δαιμόνιον (daimonion), GK 1228 (S 1140), 63x. daimonion denotes a “demon.” Demons are unseen but real beings, intent on opposing God’s kingdom and the gospel of Jesus, and on harming people. They are called by various names: evil spirits (Lk 8:2), unclean spirits (Mk 1:26), spirits (Mk 9:20; Lk 9:39), “spirit of an unclean demon” (Lk 4:33), and rulers, authorities and powers (Eph 3:10; 6:12; Col 2:15). These terms are basically synonymous and are often used interchangeably within a single passage (Lk 8:2; 9:42). Demons are angels who sinned against God (2 Pet. 2:4), thus losing their position of authority and even “their own dwelling” (Jude 6). They are purely wicked, yet they vary in degrees of wickedness (Mt 12:45). Their ruler is Satan (Mt 9:34; 12:24; Mk 3:22; Lk 11:15; see Satan), and by doing his bidding their activities can be said to be done by Satan himself (Lk 13:11, 16).“Demon possession” is a difficult topic (see daimonizomai, GK 1227 (“[be] demon-possessed”). Even though demons are said to “go into” a person (Mk 9:25; Lk 8:30), a more common phrase is that of the person “having” the demon (Mt 11:18; Lk 13:11). Nevertheless, demons can be “cast out of” people (Mt 7:22; Mk 3:15), and the idea of inhabitation is certainly pictured in Jesus’ parable of the unclean spirits (Mt 12:43–45). Demons can exert tremendous control over humans; how much control, however, it is difficult to say. Demons can keep a person from performing natural functions (seeing, Mt 12:22; hearing, Mk 9:25; speaking, Lk 11:14; standing straight, Lk 13:11; moving at all, Mk 9:18). They can also cause unnatural functions (throwing people to the ground, Lk 4:35; shaking them violently, Mt 17:15; tossing them into fire and water, Lk 9:39; dragging them around against their will and breaking metal chains, Lk 8:29; causing one man to physically abuse seven, Acts 19:16). Demons can talk through humans (Mk 1:34; Lk 4:34, 41; Acts 19:15) and affect peoples’ minds, making them of “unsound judgment” (Lk 8:35; Jn 8:52; 10:20). Multiple demons can affect a single person at one time (see Lk 8:2, 30), and they even torment children (Mk 7:30; Lk 9:38).Demons are behind idol worship (1 Cor. 10:20–21; Rev 9:20; cf. Ps 106:37) and fortune-telling (Acts 16:16). They lead people against God through miraculous wonders (Rev 16:14). They attack the truth by perverting sound teaching (1 Tim. 4:1), pervert righteousness through prompting perpetual sin (1 Jn. 5:18–19), and even attempt to hamper evangelism (Acts 16:16). “Bitter jealousy” and “selfish ambition” in the heart can be labeled “from the devil” (Jas 3:14). Demons are active today, and it is this spiritual world that stands as the primary enemy in the Christian life (Eph 6:12).

Demons believe there is one God, and they shudder with fear (Jas 2:19). They know Jesus Christ (Mk 1:34; Lk 4:34, 41; Acts 19:15) and are afraid of his power (Lk 4:34; 8:28). He has all authority over demons (Lk 4:36) and gives it to his followers (Mk 3:15; 16:17; Lk 10:19; Acts 8:7). Even those not directly following Jesus could cast demons out in his name (Mk 9:38). One characteristic of the kingdom of God is that as it spreads into people’s hearts, demons are stripped of their power and forced to leave (Lk 11:20; Acts 26:18). Through the cross Jesus has triumphed over “powers and authorities” (Col 2:15), and even now he is destroying “all dominion, authority, and power” (1 Cor. 15:24). Therefore all Christians are to stand in the day of battle in the power of God’s armor (Eph 6:12–13) and to “test the spirits” (1 Jn. 4:1). See NIDNTT-A, 120.

Noun: ἀπόστολος (apostolos), GK 693 (S 652), 80x. apostolos broadly refers to a “messenger, delegate, or sent one” (see send). In classical Greek, apostolos referred to a person of merit sent as an envoy or on behalf of a master in an administrative role. John uses the term in a similar general way, applying it to any messenger without the specific idea of an office with special status (Jn 13:16). In contrast, in Luke apostolos is used almost solely as a designation for the Twelve (except in Lk 11:49 and Acts 14:14; in the latter, Luke identifies both Barnabas and Paul as apostles). Matthew and Mark use it sparingly for the Twelve (Mt 10:2; Mk 3:14; 6:30). See apostle.
Noun: ὄρος (oros), GK 4001 (S 3735), 63x. oros can refer to an individual mountain (Jn 4:20), a mountain range (Mt 24:16), or even a mere hill (5:14), such as “the Mount of Olives” (24:3; Acts 1:12). Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1), in which he instructs his disciples about life in the kingdom, is traditionally viewed as taking place on the low hills on the northern side of the Sea of Galilee. Since Moses received instruction in covenant law from God on Mount Sinai (cf. Acts 7:30, 38), some argue that Matthew is portraying Jesus in Mt 5–7 as a new Moses. There are other significant events in Jesus’ life that take place on a mountain or hill. He goes to a mountain to pray (Mt 14:23), to call the Twelve (Mk 3:13), to work a miracle (Jn 6:3–14), to be transfigured (Mt 17:1; cf. 2 Pet. 1:18), and to give the Great Commission (2:16–20).
Verb: κηρύσσω (kēryssō), GK 3062 (S 2784), 61x. kēryssō3 means to “preach, proclaim, tell, announce a message.” In the NT it is used primarily with two objects: the gospel (Mt 4:23; 24:14; Mk 1:14; 16:15; Gal 2:2; 1 Thess. 2:9) and (Jesus) Christ (Acts 8:5; 1 Cor. 1 19; 15:12; 2 Cor. 4:5; Phil 1:15). Including these cases, almost all of its occurrences refer to the proclamation of the Christian message (see Mt 3:1; Mk 6:12; Acts 10:42; 2 Cor. 1:19; 1 Pet. 3:19). Elsewhere it occurs with such objects as the message of John the Baptist (Lk 3:3; Jn 3:1; Acts 10:37), the proclamation by Jews of the law of Moses (Acts 15:21; Rom 2:21), a message in contrast to the gospel (Gal 5:11), and an angel declaring the worth and deeds of Jesus in heaven (Rev 5:2).Among those who do the “proclaiming” are John the Baptist (Mt 3:1), Jesus (4:17), the disciples (Mk 3:14), a formerly demon-possessed man (5:20), Paul (Acts 19:13), and Timothy (2 Tim. 4:2).A controversial passage is 1 Pet. 3:18, which says that Jesus “proclaimed to the spirits in prison.” This could refer to his universal proclamation of victory to the spirit world or to his preaching through Noah’s preaching the gospel in his time. It could also refer to the events of the death and resurrection of Jesus themselves being a message to the spirits in prison. In any case, it cannot refer to a second offer of salvation to those who have died (Heb 9:27), for this interpretation goes contrary to the entire NT message. See NIDNTT-A, 304–6.
Verb: ἐπιτίθημι (epithēmi), GK 2202 (S 2007), 39x. epithēmi means to place or put something on another, such as putting cloaks on the donkey Jesus rode (Mt 21:7). It is used frequently in the gospels and Acts for the laying on hands—for healing (9:18), blessing (19:13, little children), ordination (Acts 6:6; cf. 1 Tim. 5:22), the impartation of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17; 19:6), and sending off missionaries (13:3).Idiomatically, epithēmi can refer to the imposition of a burden (Mt 23:4), the giving of a name (Mk 3:16), an attack on someone (Acts 18:10), or the furnishing of provisions (Acts 28:10). Luke uses it as a figure of speech for injuring someone by beating (Lk 10:30: the phrase “beat him” lit. reads, “laid a wound on him”). See NIDNTT-A, 200–201. 
Noun: ἀπόστολος (apostolos), GK 693 (S 652), 80x. apostolos broadly refers to a “messenger, delegate, or sent one.” In classical Greek, apostolos referred to a person of merit sent as an envoy or on behalf of a master in an administrative role. John uses the term in a similar general way, applying it to any messenger without the specific idea of an office with special status (Jn 13:16). In contrast, in Luke apostolos is used almost solely as a designation for the Twelve (except in Lk 11:49 and Acts 14:14; in the latter, Luke identifies both Barnabas and Paul as apostles). Matthew and Mark use it sparingly for the Twelve (Mt 10:2; Mk 3:14; 6:30). See apostle.
Noun: βροντή (brontē), GK 1103 (S 1027), 12x. brontē means “thunder,” though in the NT this rarely refers simply to the meteorological phenomenon. Note that there is no word in either Heb. or Gk. for “weather.”In the OT thunder is closely associated with the voice of God (cf. God’s appearance on Mount Sinai in Exod 19). In Jn 12:29 a voice coming from heaven is interpreted by the bystanders as either thunder or the voice of an angel. Similarly, in Revelation peals of thunder are often connected with a heavenly voice (Rev 6:1; 10:3; 10:4; 14:2; 19:6). The other occurrences of brontē in Revelation tie together thunder and lightning (4:5; 8:5; 11:19; 16:18) and often earthquakes as well. Together these images communicate great power and inspire awe. Flashes of lightning and peals of thunder accompany the pouring out of God’s wrath and the opening of his temple. For ancient and agrarian societies, whose houses and lives were much more exposed to the elements, the reality of thunder, lightning, and earthquakes carried much more weight than they often do for us today.The only other use of brontē in the NT is when Mark explains the nickname given to James and John: “Boanerges … Sons of Thunder” (Mk 3:17). It is not clear why they receive this label, though at least on one occasion they ask if God should pour out fire from heaven on Jesus’ opponents (Lk 9:54). See NIDNTT-A, 78–79.
Noun: עָשָׂר (ʿāśâ̄r), GK 6925 (S 6240), 205x.Noun: עֶשׂרֵה (ʿeśrēh), GK 6926 (S 6240), 136x. ʿāśâ̄r and ʿeśrēh are both based on the same Heb. root (ʿśr) and mean “ten” (see ten), but these two words only occur in combination with other numbers. Most often they are combined with šenayim (meaning “two”) and thus mean “twelve.” As the number twelve, ʿāśâ̄r occurs 66x and ʿeśrēh 36x.Twelve is an important biblical number It is the number of the tribes of Israel (Gen 49:28), traced back to the “twelve” sons of Jacob (Gen 35:22; 42:13). After the Israelites accept all the words of the law of God revealed to Moses, Moses gets up early the next morning, builds an altar, and sets up “twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel” (Exod 24:3–4; cf. Jos 4:3). The tabernacle is surrounded by the “twelve” tribes in a block formation (Num 2:17–31). Since the tribe of Levi is not counted among these twelve (as the priestly tribe, they live in the middle of the camp; 2:17, 33), the tribe of Joseph is divided into two tribes (Ephraim and Manasseh) in order to maintain twelve tribes.

“Twelve” representatives of the tribes fulfill various functions (Num 1:44), and the leaders of the tribes offer dedications to the tabernacle on “twelve” days (Num 7). During the time of David, the priests and the Levites are divided up into twenty-four (×) orders (1 Chr. 24:6–18), as are the singers (25:6–31). David divides up his army into twelve divisions (27:1–15). The restoration of the “twelve” tribes of the divided kingdom (1 Ki. 11:30) is a feature of postexilic hope (Ezek 47:13).

The number “twelve” eventually comes to designate God’s people in its totality, just as it previously referred to all Israel. In the NT, Jesus selects “twelve” disciples to indicate the formation of a new Israel, and in the book of Revelation the number 144,000 (12,×) represents the totality of God’s people. See NIDOTTE, 3:552–54.

New Testament

Adjective: δώδεκα (dōdeka), GK 1557 (S 1427), 75x. dōdeka is the cardinal number “twelve.” In the NT it is predominantly used (34x) to refer to the twelve disciples, sometimes simply called “the Twelve” (Mt 10:1; Mk 3:14; Lk 9:1; Jn 6:67; Acts 6:2; 1 Cor. 15:5; Rev 21:14). It is also used to refer to the twelve tribes of Israel (Mt 19:28; Jas 1:1; Rev 21:12) or the twelve progenitors of those tribes (Acts 7:8). In Rev 7:5–8, dōdeka appears twelve times in the listing of the twelve thousand from each of the tribes.

In the NT, dōdeka also has a number of other uses. It is used to count units of time, like hours (Jn 11:9), days (Acts 24:11), or years (Mt 9:20; Mk 5:25, 42; Lk 2:42). It is used to number things as varied as baskets (Mk 6:43; 8:19), men (Acts 19:7), or legions of angels (Mt 26:53). Revelation contains more uses of dōdeka than any other NT book, such as twelve stars (Rev 12:1), gates (21:12, 21), angels (21:12), pearls (21:21), crops (22:2), and foundations (21:14).

The new Jerusalem, the bride of the lamb, is replete with the number twelve: twelve gates, each with an angel and the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel; twelve foundations with the names of the twelve apostles; 12,000 stadia in length, width, and height. The wall was 144 (×) cubits thick. See NIDNTT-A, 156.

Notes for  3:1327 tn Grk “And.” Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic.28 tn Or “up a mountain” (εἰς τὸ ὅρος, eis to horos).

sn The expression up the mountain here may be idiomatic or generic, much like the English “he went to the hospital” (cf. 15:29), or even intentionally reminiscent of Exod 24:12 (LXX), since the genre of the Sermon on the Mount seems to be that of a new Moses giving a new law.

Notes for  3:1429 tn Grk “And he.”30 sn The term apostles is rare in the gospels, found only here and Mark 6:30, Matt 10:2, and six more times in Luke (6:13; 9:10; 11:49; 17:5; 22:14; 24:10).

31 tc The phrase “whom he named apostles” is lacking in the majority of mss (A C2 [D] L f1 33 Mlatt sy). Several primary Alexandrian and Caesarean witnesses (א B [C* W] Θ f13 28 pc co) include the phrase, so the external evidence is strongly in favor of this reading, especially since Alexandrian witnesses tend to witness to the shorter reading. It is possible that the Alexandrian witnesses have inserted these words to bring the text in line with Luke 6:13 (TCGNT 69), but against this is the internal evidence of Mark’s style: Mark tends toward gratuitous redundancy. Thus the inclusion of this phrase is supported by both internal and external evidence and should be regarded as more likely original than the omission.

Notes for  3:1632 tc The phrase “he appointed twelve” is lacking in the majority of manuscripts (A C2 D L Θ f1 33 2427 M lat sy bo). Some important witnesses include the phrase (א B C* Δ 565 579 pc), but perhaps the best explanation for the omission of the clause in the majority of witnesses is haplography in combination with homoioarcton: The first word of the clause in question is καί (kai), and the first word after the clause in question is also καί. And the first two letters of the second word, in each instance, are επ (ep). Early scribes most likely jumped accidentally from the first καί to the second, omitting the intervening material. Thus the clause was most likely in the original text. (See 3:14 above for a related textual problem.)33 snIn the various lists of the twelve, Simon (that is, Peter) is always mentioned first (see also Matt 10:1–4; Luke 6:13–16; Acts 1:13) and the first four are always the same, though not in the same order after Peter.
Notes for  3:1734 tn Grk “to James, the son of Zebedee, and John, the brother of James.”
Notes for  3:1835 sn Bartholomew (meaning “son of Tolmai” in Aramaic) could be another name for Nathanael mentioned in John 1:45.36 sn This is the “doubting Thomas” of John 20:24–29.

37 tc This disciple is called Λεββαῖον (Lebbaion, “Lebbaeus”) in D it; see the discussion of the parallel text in Matt 10:3 where conflation occurs among other witnesses as well.

38 tn Grk “the Cananean,” but according to both BDAG 507 s.v. Καναναῖος and L&N 11.88, this term has no relation at all to the geographical terms for Cana or Canaan, but is derived from the Aramaic term for “enthusiast, zealot” (see Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13), possibly because of an earlier affiliation with the party of the Zealots. He may not have been technically a member of the particular Jewish nationalistic party known as “Zealots” (since according to some scholars this party had not been organized at that time), but simply someone who was zealous for Jewish independence from Rome, in which case the term would refer to his temperament.

Notes for  3:1939 sn There is some debate about what the name Iscariot means. It probably alludes to a region in Judea and thus might make Judas the only non-Galilean in the group. Several explanations for the name Iscariot have been proposed, but it is probably transliterated Hebrew with the meaning “man of Kerioth” (there are at least two villages that had that name). For further discussion see D. L. Bock, Luke (BECNT), 1:546; also D. A. Carson, John, 304.40 tn Grk “who even betrayed him.”
  • Connecting Words of the text/ (how do they aid in understanding the authors progression of thought)

Cultural / historic Context of passage:


Commissioning Twelve Representatives (IVP Bible Backgrounds)

3:13. Mountains were often places for communion with God (e.g., the experiences of Moses and Elijah).

3:14–15. Israel consisted of twelve tribes, and if groups chose twelve leaders (as apparently those who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls did), they did so because they believed that their own group was the true, obedient remnant of Israel. “Apostles” means commissioned representatives, the point here being that Jesus’ authority to proclaim the kingdom and expel demons continues through his followers.

3:16–19. Luke (and probably “Q,” a source he shares with Matthew) lists “Judas son of James” rather than Matthew’s and Mark’s “Thaddeus.” Ancient business documents show that people were commonly known by several different names, so the different lists of apostles probably do refer to the same people. (The differences in the lists do show that the lists were not copied from one another or standardized, and thus that the tradition of Jesus choosing twelve is older than the particular lists themselves.) Nicknames were common, appearing even on tomb inscriptions.

“Cananaean” is Aramaic for “zealot” (Luke 6:15); thus some translations simply read “Simon the Zealot” here. In this period, this term could just mean “zealous one,” but it may mean that he had been involved in revolutionary activity (some revolutionaries soon after this time came to be known as “Zealots”). “Boanerges” is a Greek rendering of the Aramaic for “sons of thunder” (rgs for Aramaic r˓m). “Iscariot” may mean “man from Kerioth,” but this is unclear; other proposals (e.g., a Greek transliteration of an Aramaic corruption of the Latin sicarius, “assassin”; see comment on Acts 21:38) are equally uncertain.

Calling of Disciples on the Mountain (3:13–19) (Zondervan Bible Backgrounds)

Jesus went up on a mountainside (3:13). Mark does not identify the mountain where Jesus calls the twelve disciples. Mountains serve in the Bible as places of revelation, but the mountain here is simply an isolated place that allows Jesus to be alone. Crowds do not follow him here; he calls those whom he wants.

He appointed twelve—designating them apostles (3:14). “Twelve” has symbolic significance, evoking God’s promises of redeeming Israel. God commanded Moses to take men from each tribe to be “with him” as representatives of the “heads of the clans of Israel.” The twelve disciples represent the heads of the divisions of Israel, which are being restored; and Jesus stands over them as leader. His choice of twelve testifies to his self-understanding that he has been sent to gather Israel.

Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter) (3:16). Simon, James, and John head the list as the three most prominent disciples and appear at significant junctures in the story. Simon was a popular name and nearly all the Simons mentioned in the New Testament are given some distinguishing name: for example, Simon the Cananaean (3:18; niv, the Zealot), Simon the Leper (14:3), Simon of Cyrene (15:21), Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:40), Simon Iscariot (John 6:71), Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9), Simon the tanner (Acts 9:43), and Jesus’ brother Simon (Mark 6:3). In the biblical tradition, however, God or a divine agent gives new names to persons who will have a significant role in the story of God’s people. When someone in the Bible is given a different name, it represents a promise to that person (see Gen. 17:15; 32:28).

Jesus calls Simon petros. The word petros in Greek usually means a free standing “stone” that can be picked up. The word petra usually means rock, cliff, or bedrock (see Matt. 7:24). Both terms could reverse their meanings, and no clear-cut distinction can be made between the two. A rock could serve as a foundation or security, but it could also become a rock of stumbling and an obstacle to agriculture (Mark 4:16).

Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder (3:17). James and John, previously introduced as the sons of Zebedee, are now presented as “Sons of Thunder.” The word Boanerges means nothing in Greek and it is unclear what Aramaic phrase it might transliterate. It may imply excitability or anger (see Luke 9:54), but this is uncertain. God’s voice is referred to as thunderous (Ps. 29:3), and in Revelation 16:18, the final judgment is ushered in with peals of thunder.

Simon the Zealot (3:18). The translation follows Luke 6:15 (Acts 1:13), but the text reads literally Simon the Cananaean. We are not to think that he was a revolutionary. The term qannaîm appears in rabbinic sources to refer to those who were especially zealous for the law and its observance. This notion may be connected to his label (see Gal. 1:14).

Judas Iscariot (3:19). The name may mean “man of Kerioth.” Textual variants found in John 6:71; 12:4; 13:2; and 14:22 add apo Karyomtou (from Kariot), which represent an early explanation for the term’s meaning. Kerioth could be a town in Moab (Jer. 48:24; Amos 2:2) or a town in southern Judea (Josh. 15:25). If this reading is correct, Judas would have been in the minority as a Judean among Jesus’ Galilean disciples. Other less likely suggestions contend that the name refers to his membership in a group of assassins (“dagger man,” sicarius) or a clan (“man of Issachar”), his deceit (“the false one”), his betrayal (“the one handing over”), his origin (“man from the city”), or his ruddy complexion.

Mention of betrayal hints of the death that awaits Jesus. Judas does not worm his way into the inner circle but is chosen by Jesus from the beginning. Jesus’ culture cherished loyalty and trust and abhorred treachery that shreds the fabric of a close-knit community. Betrayal was regarded as inexcusable and unforgivable.


  • Persons: Who is mentioned here? 
  • Simon. He was a son of Jonas or John. By trade he was a fisherman, who with his brother Andrew first lived in Bethsaida (John 1:44), afterward in Capernaum (Mark 1:21, 29). Both Mark and Luke report that it was Jesus who gave Simon the new name Peter. For details of this event see John 1:42. This new name, meaning rock, was a description not of what Simon was when called, but of what by grace he was to become. At first, and for some time afterward, Simon was anything but a model of steadfastness or imperturbability. On the contrary, he was constantly swaying from one position to its opposite. He turned from trust to doubt (Matt. 14:28, 30); from open profession of Jesus as the Christ, to rebuking that very Christ (Matt. 16:16, 22); from a vehement declaration of loyalty, to base denial (Matt. 26:33–35, 69–75; Mark 14:29–31, 66–72; Luke 22:33, 54–62); from “By no means shalt thou wash my feet ever,” to “Not my feet only but also my hands and my head” (John 13:8, 9). See also John 20:4, 6; Gal. 2:11, 12. Nevertheless, by the grace and power of the Lord this changeable Simon was transformed into a true Peter. For the significance of Peter in the post-resurrection church see N.T.C. on Matt. 16:13–20. Accordingly, when Jesus at this early date-for Mark 3:16 reflects John 1:42—assigned to Simon his new name, that was an act of love, a love that was willing to overlook the present and even the near future, and to look far ahead. Wonderful and transforming grace of our loving Lord!
  • James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James. Mark mentions these two fishermen not only here and in 1:19, 20 (see on that passage) but also later on (9:2; cf. 10:35–45). There are also several references to them in the other Gospels. Probably because of their fiery nature Jesus called these two brothers Boanerges. This is an Aramaic word, which Mark, who is the only Gospel-writer to report this, for his non-Jewish readers interprets to mean “sons of thunder.” The Hebrew name would be benē reghesh. That the two did indeed have a fiery nature may perhaps be inferred from Luke 9:54–56. Cf. Mark 9:38. James was the first of The Twelve to wear the martyr’s crown (Acts 12:2). While he was the first to arrive in heaven, his brother John was in all probability the last to remain on earth. On the life and character of John, considered by many (I believe correctly) as being “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20) see N.T.C. on the Gospel according to John, Vol. I, pp. 18–21. Five New Testament books have by tradition been assigned to John: his Gospel, three epistles (I, II, and III John), and the book of Revelation.
  • Andrew. It was he, also a fisherman, who brought his brother Peter to Jesus (see N.T.C. on John 1:41, 42). For other references to Andrew see above (on 1:16, 17, 29); also study Mark 13:3; John 6:8, 9; 12:22. See also below under Philip.


  • Philip. He was at least for a while a fellow townsman of Peter and Andrew, that is, he too was from Bethsaida. Having himself responded to the call of Jesus, he found Nathanael, and said to him, “The one about whom Moses wrote in the law and about whom the prophets wrote, we have found, Jesus, son of Joseph, the one from Nazareth” (John 1:45). When Jesus was about to feed the five thousand he asked Philip, “How are we to buy bread-cakes that these (people) may eat?” Philip answered, “Bread cakes for two hundred denarii would not be sufficient for them so that each might get a little something” (John 6:5, 7). Philip apparently forgot that the power of Jesus surpassed any possibility of calculation. To deduce from this incident the conclusion that Philip was a coldly-calculating type of person, more so than the other apostles, would be basing too much on too little. In the Gospels Philip generally appears in a rather favorable light. Thus, when the Greeks approached him with the request, “Sir, we would see Jesus,” he went and told Andrew, and these two, Andrew and Philip, brought the enquirers to Jesus (John 12:21, 22). It must be admitted that Philip did not always immediately understand the meaning of Christ’s profound utterances—did the others?—but to his credit it must be said that with perfect candor he would reveal his ignorance and ask for further information, as is also clear from John 14:8, “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be content.” He received the beautiful and comforting answer, “… He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
  • Bartholomew (meaning: son of Tolmai). He is clearly the Nathanael of John’s Gospel (1:45–49; 21:2). It was he who said to Philip, “Out of Nazareth can any good come?” Philip answered, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him he said, “Look, truly an Israelite in whom deceit does not exist.” This disciple-apostle was one of the seven persons to whom the resurrected Christ appeared at the Sea of Tiberias. Of the other six only Simon Peter, Thomas, and the sons of Zebedee are mentioned.
  • Matthew. This disciple has already been discussed in some detail (see above on 2:14–17).
  • Thomas. The references to him combine in indicating that despondency and devotion marked this man. He was ever afraid that he might lose his beloved Master. He expected evil, and it was hard for him to believe good tidings when they were brought to him. Yet when the risen Savior in all his tender, condescending love revealed himself to him it was he who exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” For more information on Thomas see N.T.C. on John 11:16; 14:5; 20:24–28; 21:2.
  • James the son of Alphaeus. By Mark (15:40) he is also called “James the Less,” which by some is interpreted as meaning “James the younger,” but by others as “James small in stature.” About him we have no further positive information. It is probable, however, that he was the same disciple who is referred to in Matt. 27:56; Mark 16:1; and Luke 24:10. If this be correct, his mother’s name was Mary, one of the women who accompanied Jesus and stood near the cross. See N.T.C. on John 19:25. It has already been shown that the Alphaeus who was the father of Matthew should probably not be identified with Alphaeus the father of James the Less. See above on 2:14.
  • Thaddaeus (called Lebbaeus in certain manuscripts of Matt. 10:3 and Mark 3:18). He is in all probability the “Judas not Iscariot” of John 14:22 (see on that passage); cf. Acts. 1:13. From what is said about him in John 14 it would seem that he wanted Jesus to show himself to the world, probably meaning: to get into the limelight.
  • Simon the Cananaean. “The Cananaean” is an Aramaic surname meaning enthusiast or zealot. In fact Luke calls him “Simon the Zealot” (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). In all probability this name is here given him because formerly he had belonged to the party of the Zealots, which party in its hatred for the foreign ruler, who demanded tribute, did not shrink from fomenting rebellion against the Roman government. See Josephus Jewish War II.117, 118; Antiquities XVIII.1–10, 23. Cf. Acts 5:37.


  • Judas Iscariot. This name is generally interpreted as meaning “Judas the man from Kerioth,” a place in southern Judea. (Some, however, prefer the interpretation, “the dagger-man.”) The Gospels refer to him again and again (Matt. 26:14, 25, 47; 27:3; Mark 14:10, 43; Luke 22:3, 47, 48; John 6:71; 12:4; 13:2, 26, 29; 18:2–5). He is at times described as “Judas who betrayed him,” “Judas one of the twelve,” “the betrayer,” “Judas the son of Simon Iscariot,” “Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son,” or simply “Judas.” This man, though thoroughly responsible for his own wicked deeds, was an instrument of the devil (John 6:70, 71). While other people, when they felt that they could no longer agree with or even tolerate Christ’s teachings, would simply disassociate themselves from him (John 6:66), Judas remained, as if he were in full accord with him. Being a very selfish person he was unable—or shall we say “unwilling”?—to understand the unselfish and beautiful deed of Mary of Bethany, who anointed Jesus (John 12:1 ff.). He was unable and unwilling to see that the native language of love is lavishness. It was the devil who instigated Judas to betray Jesus, that is, to deliver him into the hands of the enemy. He was a thief; yet it was he who had been entrusted with the treasuryship of the little company, with the predictable result (John 12:6). When, in connection with the institution of the Lord’s Supper, the dramatic moment arrived—forever commemorated in Scripture (Matt. 26:20–25; John 13:21–30) and emblazoned in art (Leonardo da Vinci, etc.)—in which Jesus startled The Twelve by saying, “One of you will betray me,” Judas, though having already received from the chief priests the thirty pieces of silver as a reward for his promised deed (Matt. 26:14–16; Mark 14:10, 11) had the incredible audacity to say, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Judas served as guide for the detachment of soldiers and the posse of temple police that arrested Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. It was by means of perfidiously kissing his Master, as if he were still a loyal disciple, that this traitor pointed out Jesus to those who had come to seize him (Matt. 26:49, 50; Mark 14:43–45; Luke 22:47, 48). As to the manner of Judas’ self-inflicted demise, see on Matt. 27:3–5; cf. Acts 1:18. What caused this privileged disciple to become Christ’s betrayer? Was it injured pride, disappointed ambition, deeply entrenched greed, fear of being put out of the synagogue (John 9:22)? No doubt all of these were involved, but could not the most basic reason have been this, that between the utterly selfish heart of Judas and the infinitely unselfish and outgoing heart of Jesus there was a chasm so immense that either Judas must implore the Lord to bestow upon him the grace of regeneration and complete renewal, a request which the traitor wickedly refused to make, or else he must offer his help to get rid of Jesus? See also Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; 4:28. One thing is certain: The shocking tragedy of Judas’ life is proof not of Christ’s impotence but of the traitor’s impenitence! Woe to that man!


  • Action: Who is doing what?  What is happening?         


  • Purpose: What was the writer / speaker trying to achieve       
  •  Reasons: Are any reasons suggested?  


  • Arena: Is there any indication where something happens        


  • Events: …or when something happened?        


  • Method: …or how something happens?          

Check for CONSISTENCY with the rest of scripture and theologians.

  • Refer to commentaries, Study Bibles, Bible Dictionaries, etc   

Calling of the Twelve. The appointment of his disciples to do the will of God constitutes a further movement toward the formation of the messianic people of God.

3:14–15 As is often the case, Mark presupposes further actions of Jesus without narrating them. Here it becomes evident that Jesus had, in the meantime, selected and appointed the twelve, whom he called out of the larger crowd that had been following him (vv. 7–9; cf. v. 16; 4:10; 14:10, 17, 20, 43). The Twelve have a specific, twofold task: (1) that they might be with him (reinforcing the call to discipleship [see 1:17, 20; 2:14; 3:13] and to being shaped by Jesus [4:33]), and (2) that he might send them out (1:17; 9:37; thus suggesting the sense of the term apostles as those who are “sent out”; see note on Rom. 1:1). In their function of serving as Jesus-dependent emissaries, they are to do what Jesus did and taught them: (1) preach (Mark 1:14, 39; 6:12) the word of the kingdom of God, and (2) cast out demons (1:34, 39). Mark 6:13 will clarify that (3) healing is also part of their commission. This commission is put into action in 6:7–12. Initially, Jesus proclaims the kingdom of God to descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel, and the selection of the 12 apostles probably represents these tribes (Rev. 21:14). The disciples’ experience of being under the immediate oversight of Jesus will be important for them, as they themselves will soon oversee the ministry of others after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension.

3:16–17 The core group of three disciples (cf. 5:37; 9:2; 14:33) is mentioned first: (Simon) Peter, James, and John. Then the others are named (3:18–19). See also note on Matt. 10:2.

3:19 Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him (14:10, 18, 20–21, 41–44), is mentioned last. Judas was called to be with Jesus, to be one of the Twelve, to proclaim, to heal, and to cast out demons; he is loved and warned—but not trusted—by Jesus (John 2:24; 6:64, 70).

3:20 Jesus returns home, i.e., to the place where he stayed in Capernaum (see note on 2:1).

3:21 The members of Jesus’ earthly family (his mother and half brothers and sisters) believe he is out of his mind (see John 7:5) on account of all that has happened. Besides his opponents, Jesus now also has to contend with unbelieving family members. He will never forsake his relationship with his physical family, yet he will always pursue the call of God above all else (see Mark 3:31–35). (Some of Jesus’ brothers did later come to faith in him; see note on 1 Cor. 9:4–5.)

D.A. Carson

3:13–19 Appointing the Twelve (see Mt. 10:1–4; Lk. 6:12–16). We know from the other gospels that the reason Jesus went up the mountain was to pray before making such an important choice. Even the Son of God needed to find a place where he could be alone with God, and there was no quiet anywhere else. Jesus taught us to seek privacy for prayer if at all possible (Mt. 6:6).

When Jesus calls us to respond to him, his love compels us to follow. These twelve were Jesus’ ‘team’ (as we might speak of a football ‘eleven’ today) appointed to work together with him and with one another. He refers to them in terms of his wider family in vs 31–35. Mark does not elsewhere call them apostles, though this is the name that they were known by later. For this reason some manuscripts leave out the word here. But, whether we use the name or not, they were all Jesus’ missionaries, and Mark the missionary knew that very well. We can see what ‘apostle’ means from v 14. Jesus chose these men so that he could send them out to preach the good news, just as he was doing himself. However, before they would be ready to preach the good news they had to spend time with Jesus and learn to pattern their lives on him. If we do not follow their example, our preaching will be like loudspeakers blaring meaningless propaganda.

They also had to show the power of Jesus and the Spirit by conquering the enemy, as Jesus had done. So Jesus committed to them his power to drive out demons (Matthew adds the power of healing sicknesses in his name). These were both signs of the coming of the kingdom of God. It is important to notice that Jesus shared his power with very imperfect humans, like us. Indeed, Mark seems throughout the whole of his gospel to go out of his way to emphasize the imperfections of the Twelve and especially of Peter, who in many ways was the leader. In doing this, Mark was simply describing the facts; he was not trying to belittle the apostles, as some have suggested. It makes God’s grace all the more wonderful (as Paul saw; 2 Cor. 4:7) that there are no supermen or superwomen in the NT, only sinners saved by grace. The other gospel writers softened down some of the stories, but Mark wants to show us that the apostles were people just like us, with all our weaknesses. NT ‘saints’ do not have bright haloes around their heads; that was an invention of the later church!

Another point that also emphasizes the apostles’ ‘ordinariness’ is that they mostly had nicknames, some given by Jesus himself. In most parts of the world, people are known by nicknames describing their character rather than by their real names. These disciples were real-life people.

So there was Simon, whom Jesus nicknamed ‘Peter’ or ‘The Rock’, and James and John, whom he nicknamed Sons of Thunder (or ‘Thunder and Lightning’ as we might say today). Thomas was called ‘the Twin’, and another Simon was called ‘the Zealot’ which may have been a reference to his ‘zeal’ for the nationalist cause in Israel. Judas’s nickname, ‘Iscariot’, may also suggest connections with this movement. When we remember boastful Simon, who denied Jesus, Thomas, who doubted him, James and John, who were ambitious for themselves and all the disciples, who ran away terrified when Jesus was arrested, we are not glorifying their weaknesses but glorifying the God who can use people as weak as they were, and we are (2 Cor. 12:9).

What is the MELODIC line of the passage? or What is Marks main point?

What is the core message that sums up this teaching? Express it in contemporary wording….

Melodic Line of the text? In one sentence. Compile some applications to daily personal life & society. How would you encourage listeners to respond to this message from God? How does it interact with the questions below?
How does it relate to us in regards to redemptive history?
What does this point mean for the non Christian?     
What does it mean for us as citizens, as employees, and so forth?     
What does it teach us about Christ?     
What does it mean for us as individual Christians?     
What does it mean for our church as a whole?     
Hidden Worldviews that Gospel application needs to counter. How does the text counter one or more of these false worldviews. Can I shed light on any of these hidden worldviews with this passage?
• Individualism — the story that “I” am the center of the universe
• Consumerism — the story that I am what I own
• Nationalism — the story that my nation is God’s nation
• Moral relativism — the story that we can’t know what is universally good
• Scientific naturalism — the story that all that matters is matter
• New Age — the story that we are gods
• Postmodern tribalism — the story that all that matters is what my small group thinks
• Salvation by therapy — the story that I can come to my full human potential through inner exploration
• Moralism— the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior
• Traditionalism —  Adherence to tradition, especially in cultural or religious practice. Or a system holding that all knowledge is derived from original divine revelation and is transmitted by tradition.


2 comments on “Sermon Prep (Mark 3:13–21) I welcome your thoughts, questions and perspectives concerning this passage.

  1. Anonymous says:

    In the Exodus god pulled people out of Egypt to save them from the Gentiles and persecution. Now he is back at a mountain with his cabinet and things have changed. Instead of removing his people to save them from the world he is using his people to change the world. The symbolic meaning of the mountain is the same but the message and the future is very different. It is a reversal of their theology and all they know. They are being spoken to of love and mission not laws and persecution. He is setting forth the new Era in a time where the his people are using him to self to not protect the weak but to admonish them. He has to change the world with his people not hide them from it. He chose the 12 he did because they represent society and reality not purity. His message will move faster and more purely through the idea that the new way is not defined by works but in the heart and he chose the fallible to show the light. It is through the idea of transformed heart and love and devotion that we will find him and he chose the fallen for they know of and can speak to the revelation of the heart that once acted and existed in the real world and with real problems. Using the poor to show the rich and using the rich to engage the poor. They all offer the unique story the speaks to the Gospel. They are human and they will stumble but that recognition and belief in Christ to find a better way will open the the eyes of those 12 and all who see them. Ushering in a new Era needs people who know loss and pain along with people who know wealth . It is this that will gel the message and reach many.

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