1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
"Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way; (Malachi 3:1)
The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight - (Isaiah 40:3)
Wanting to get right to the meat of the Gospel of Mark, I am embarrassed to tell you how many times I have skipped right over the “Proof-texts” of the Gospel of Mark. I had to start learning Hebrew before I could appreciate how important these passages are. Trust me when I say, I am only at a 1st grade level in my Hebrew studies, but I can still see the importance of these amazing passages.
The Gospel we cherish as a “New Testament” revelation began in the Old Testament prophets. Truly, it began in the Garden of Eden, but for the message of Mark, it starts with the prophets. Because Mark tells us nothing about himself, I am going to honor that decision and skip his biography; jumping right into a word study of the Hebrew passages.
But wait! You say that the New Testament was written in Greek, not Hebrew. Honestly, I can neither confirm nor deny that statement. There is a lot of evidence that many New Testament books have been translated into Greek. Oddly enough, the only book of the New Testament that seems to have been originally written in Greek is the book of Hebrews. That book alone is written by someone who seems to have been educated in Greek. The others have the feel of being written by someone for whom Greek is not their native tongue. After teaching Junior High English to Ukraine and Latina students for a few years now, I can testify that there are strong clues that tell me a paper is being translated as it is written. People who know the languages better than I do, tell me that Mark translated his work to Greek.
How do I know what Hebrew words to use for a word study in place of Greek? About 70 years before Y’shua-Jesus was born into this world, 70 Jewish men in Alexandra, Egypt got together to translate the Hebrew texts, called the Tanakh, which includes the Torah, poetry and the historical/prophetic books of the Old Testament, into Greek. That translation is called the Septuagint. The Septuagint is thought to be the “Apostle’s Bible” and is the source of the Scripture passages in the New Testament. Because of the Septuagint, it is simply a matter of comparison to look at a passage in Greek and Hebrew to find out what the original Hebrew word of a passage was.
Note: I am using Strong’s reference numbers for Hebrew and Greek words for your and my convenience, though I am not strictly using the Strong’s dictionary. If a word is Hebrew, I place an H in front of the number, if the word is Greek there will be a G before the number.
So, I begin my Study of Mark, not with the overview that I intended to do, but with a Word Study of selected words or phrases from the opening lines of Mark’s Gospel.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
the gospel is an old English word meaning “good story”. It has come to have a very narrow meaning, no longer just a good story, but “the Good News of Jesus.” Gospel is from the Greek word, euaggelion (yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on) G2098. It means, “to tell good news” (Louw and Nida) In Hebrew, the word is basar (baw-sar’) which means an announcement that is fresh and rosy. Basar is a verb, so it can mean the preaching of the good message of Salvation, which is Y’shua (meaning salvation) –Jesus, the Son (ben) of YHVH.
"Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;
Malachi 3:1 as quoted in Mark 1:2
Behold /h H2005 hen (hane) often translated “Lo!” or “Behold!” hen is a word that can simply express surprise. Usually I see it as a flag word alerting me that I am about to read insight from Heaven. In Malachi 3:1 the root word has a yod suffix which changes the word to a first person singular. “Behold I”
Prepare panah (paw-naw’) H6437 to turn toward (to face); this is the idea of repentance, to turn toward the Almighty. In Greek this is G2680 kataskeuazo (kat-ask-yoo-ad’-zo) and is an external preparation (not internal-heart), thoroughly prepared.
We prepare for the Gospel through repentance from sin.
The Way derek (deh’-rek) H1870 can just mean a road, but is generally understood to be the path of righteousness, and how we live as we travel from this life to the next. For believers, the path leads to eternal life. For the religious or the unbeliever the path leads to eternal damnation, eternal death also known as Hell in English. The Greek translation is G3598 hodos (hod-os’) which is also a road, or how we make progress toward our destination.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight - "
Isaiah 40:3 as quoted in Mark 1:3
Prepare or make ready: the same word that was translated “prepare” in Mark 1:2, H6437, to turn toward (to face) repentance.
Paths: H4546 mecillah (mes-il-law’) a built up road, a “high”way. In Greek the word means, a path worn to a rut. G5147.
Straight Is from the Hebrew word “Yashar.” This is the word that put the book of Mark together for me. In Greek the word is, G2117 euthus (yoo-thoos’). It is usually translated into the English word “immediately” in the book of Mark. It is the most used word in Mark’s gospel, giving the idea that everything was done quickly. As an adverb it can be translated to a time word that means quickly, but that is not the primary meaning of this verb. G2117 euthus was translated from the Hebrew word, yashar H3477.
Note: before I forget, thanks to Skip Moen for his fantastic Hebrew word studies!
Yashar is like a plumb line for an upright life. The Almighty created man yashar -upright. Starting with Adam and Eve, people went their own way, seeking what they desired.
Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.
Eve was to be ‘ezer, “help from the Almighty.” As a warrior, Eve is remembered for losing her first battle and for bringing her husband down instead of standing for the Almighty. She would have remained ‘ezer if she, a yashar woman, had looked to YHVH instead of to the tree for wisdom. She went from walking The straight- yesher Way to going her own way. Instead of having eyes open to the Way of the Almighty, we became forever blind, stumbling around in the fog of going our own way.
Through Moses, YHVH (the LORD) spelled out the details of His Way, and, like Eve, we still couldn’t follow it. That is where the Gospel of Mark comes in. We are called to walk The Way of YHVH, to make the path, the Way yashar -straight. The Torah is The Way of the LORD. Yashar is the plumb line that helps us know how well we are doing on The Way. Turns out that we don’t do very well, we are sinners and sinners do a poor job at walking in a way that is pleasing to the Almighty…. But I do not want to get too far ahead in the study of the Gospel of Mark.
For Next time, read Mark chapter 1, or all of Mark’s gospel if you please. When you come across the word “immediately” or “straightway” insert your understanding of yashar. I hope you are as enlightened as I am!
June 18, 2016
Next Lesson: Mark 1:4-13 Study Guide
Next Lesson: Mark 1:4-13 Study Guide