Mark 5:21-43 and Waldenström’s Commentary
Unabridged Gospel Lesson for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Editor’s note: Dr. Paul Peter Waldenström based his comments on a Greek New Testament text which he translated into Swedish. Tommy Carlson has translated both the Biblical text and the comments from the Swedish text of Waldenström’s Second Edition, 1892.
Verse 21—And1 when Jesus had again crossed over in the boat to the other shore,2 many people gathered around him; and he was by the sea.
- In regard to verses 21-43, see Matt. 9:18-26. The same event is also talked about in Luke 8:40-56.
- That is, the west side of the Sea of Galilee.
Verse 22—And one of the officials of the synagogue, Jairus by name, came and when he saw him, fell at his feet (See Matt. 9: 18f.; Luke 8:41f.)
Verse 23—and pleaded with him greatly, saying: “My little daughter1 is desperately ill; that you may come and lay hands2 on her,3 that she might be saved and live.”
- The expression is one of fatherly affection. The girl was 12 years of age (v. 42) and, at that age, was a woman in these countries—almost full grown.
- About laying on hands, see comments to Matt. 19:15: “Jesus laying of hands on them was not only a sign but also a means for the giving of the blessing. The laying on of hands—as other NT holy deeds—is never portrayed merely as a symbolic act characterizing something spiritual but, rather, is always portrayed as an ACT OF GRACE characterizing something spiritually good, the power of God for the body’s or the soul’s faith-healing. Yes, even the Holy Spirit itself and its gifts are communicated. See Gen. 48:14; Deut. 34:9; Acts 5:12, 6:6, 8:15f.; and I Tim. 4:14.” The Saviour’s action at this time shows that small children without the ability to understand the meaning of the event and even the apostles with their limited ability to understand—are receptive to the spiritual blessing that he had to offer through this act.
- The language is not grammatical. In his agitated state, the father speaks incoherently.
Verse 24—And he went away with him. Many people followed him, and they crowded him on all sides.1
- Verbatim: compressed him.
Verse 25—And a woman who had had bleeding1 for twelve years (See Matt 9:20f.; Luke 8:43f.)
- Verbatim: had been in bleeding. In our language we do not speak that way, but a similar expression is used when we say: Lying sick.
Verse 26—and had suffered much from many doctors and had spent all she owned,1 and had not been helped, rather, had become worse,
- She had tried everything and not concerned herself with the cost. But the doctors’ measures had only caused her more suffering.
Verse 27—when she heard that (which was told) about Jesus, she came among the people from the back and touched his robe,
Verse 28—for she said: “If I touch only his clothes, then I shall be saved.”
Verse 29—And immediately the source1 of her bleeding dried up and she felt in her body2 that she was completely whole from her affliction.
- That place in the body where she was bleeding is described by the Evangelist as a well.
- An indescribable feeling of health flowed through her body.
Verse 30—And immediately Jesus felt1 in himself2 that power had gone out from him3 and he turned around among the people and said: “Who touched my clothes?”4 (See Matt. 14:36; Luke 6:19)
- In his inner being—immediately.
- Verbatim: outgoing power from him.
- This can be understood either as Jesus himself did not know who it was who touched him or that he, by his question, wanted to call upon the healed person to come forward and acknowledge the healing. So do fathers often call to their children: “Which one of you has done this or that?” While he may very well know, he asks for the children’s sake that they may come forward on their own and acknowledge the deed.
Verse 31—And his disciples said to him: “You see the people crowding in on all sides.1 and you say: ‘Who touched me?’”
- The same word as in verse 24.
Verse 32—And he continued to look around to see1 her2 who had done this.
- Here is the same variation in the expression as in chapter 4:12. In the original text there are two different words to express SEE. The one word expresses that one only sees with one’s eyes; the other, however, expresses THAT ONE WHO SEES WHAT IT IS also understands it.
- This can be said from the viewpoint of the storyteller who now knew that it was the woman; or, the evangelist wants to suggest that the Lord knew very well who it was who had touched him.
Verse 33—But the woman feared and trembled,1 knowing what had happened to her, and she came and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.2
- She feared that she had done something wrong, but this was not enough for her to flee. Rather, she came forward and confessed everything.
- Not concealing or changing anything.
Verse 34—But he said to her: “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go to peace,1 and be2 healed from your affliction. (See Mark 10:52)
- Likewise in Luke. Compare Luke 7:50. This is not the same expression as: “go in peace,” (Acts 16:36; Jude 2:16; compare Luke 2:29). When it says: “go in peace,” peace is described as already there; when it says: “go to peace,” peace is described as something which now shall come. In addition, it must be noted that the Hebrew and Greek words which we translate as peace have a much broader meaning than the Swedish word peace normally has. It consists, namely, what we describe with the words: welfare, blessing, happiness, luck, prosperity, and so on. When, accordingly, Jacob in Genesis 37:14 sent his son Joseph to look after and to see if all was well with the brothers and the livestock, it says, in the original text, that he was to look after the brothers’ and the livestock’s PEACE. Compare Luke 19:42; Matt, 10:13. To go to peace also says that now comes a state of luck, happiness, and blessing. In everyday Swedish the comparable expression would be the words; Good Luck!
- She had already been healed. Therefore, the Lord does not say: “BECOME” but, rather, “BE.”
Verse 35—While he was still talking, (a few) came from the synagogue official1 saying: “Your daughter has died, why do you continue to bother2 the teacher?” (See Luke 8:49f).
- That is to say, from his home. Because Jairus himself was with Jesus. We say in our own language in a similar fashion for example: “There came a message from the doctor’s.” According to this form of language, here we should say from the synagogue official’s.
- About the Greek word’s real meaning see comments to Matt. 9:36. There it is translated FLEECE. (Matt. 9:36 comment: The word that is used in the original text means: to remove the skin, flay; and also: trouble, bother.)
Verse 36—But Jesus who had been listening1 to the conversation said to the synagogue official: “Fear not, only believe.”2
- The Greek word which is used in the original text means HEAR ALONGSIDE—listening to something which is spoken alongside someone. This, which was spoken here, was not said to Jesus but to Jairus. But Jesus was listening and hurried immediately, through an uplifting word, to help the faith of Jairus, who had through the message naturally become dejected. Also, the word can even mean NOT RESPOND TO (see Matt. 18:17). If it should be so translated here, the meaning becomes the following: Jesus did not respond to the conversation but spoke to the synagogue official: . . .
- Even there, where for human eyes all hope seemed to be gone, the Lord is still powerful to help. . .
Verse 37—And he did not allow anyone to follow with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.
Verse 38—And they came to the synagogue official’s house and he saw murmuring people who cried and screamed1 much. (See Matt 9:23f.)
- The word in the original text expresses a high screaming whether it was from joy or fighting spirit or whatever.
Verse 39—And when they had come in, he said to them: “Why do you murmur and cry? The child1 has not died but is sleeping.” (See John 11:11)
- The Greek word, which in the original text is used here, means A LITTLE CHILD. See Matt. 18:2f. There in verse 6, an emphasis is placed on their smallness (compare Matt. 19:13). Further, it is used to express what we so fondly say: MY LITTLE CHILD, which means about the same as MY DEAR CHILD. With this meaning Jesus spoke to the disciples in John 21:5 and by the apostle John to the believers in I John 2:18. Finally, it is used about children in general, both smaller (for example, Matt. 2:8, 9, 11) and bigger (as here and in chapter 9:24 and others).
Verse 40—And they laughed scornfully at him; but he drove them all out and took with him the child’s father and mother and they (who were) with him,1 and went in where the child was.
- That is to say the three disciples (v. 37).
Verse 41—And he took the child’s hand and said to her: “Talitha kum,”1 which is, when it is interpreted: “Girl, I say to you, stand up.”2
- Talitha kum is the language of the Hebrews of the time of Jesus.
- Or: “Wake up.”
Verse 42—And immediately the girl stood up and walked, for she was twelve years old.1 And they were immediately astounded in great amazement.
- So she was old enough and could very well walk.
Verse 43—And he commanded them strongly that no one should know this,1 and said that they should give her something to eat.2
- Namely, HOW the girl had been awakened. The event itself, that she had stood up, could naturally not be hidden (Matt. 9:26). For similar prohibitions, see chapter 1:44, 7:36, 8:26. For the reason for this, see comments to Matt. 16:20 [provided below]. Note that the Lord never prohibited anyone from proclaiming what he taught.
- As proof that she was not only living but also healthy.
[Comment to Matt. 16:20 — The people in general did not believe that Jesus himself was the Messiah (16:14), but rather believed that he was the forerunner to the Messiah. Jesus did not want the Apostles to tell anyone just yet. It was better that the people did not know that he was the Messiah than that they should know and misuse it. They believed the Messiah to be a prince who would liberate Israel’s people from the Roman domination and re-establish the Jewish state and make them a powerful nation. Thoughts about the Messiah were continuously tied with thoughts of upheaval in their minds. The Lord did not want to be the center of such thoughts. The knowledge that he himself was the Messiah should, therefore, be restricted to the disciples and kept a secret among them. There is, however, no contradiction when he told the Samaritan woman that he was the Messiah (John 4:26). Partly because she was a sincere woman who had accepted the truth and partly because the Lord had nothing to fear in Samaria about upheaval. In addition, note that his words were covered with obscurity for which reason she said when she came back to town: “Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:29).
The first clear explanation that the Lord gave before the JEWS that he was the Messiah was during the trial which preceded his death (Matt. 26:64; Mark 14:62). The content in the Saviour’s official preaching was MESSIAH’S KINGDOM. That HE HIMSELF WAS THE MESSIAH, he certainly suggests by the use of the name Son of Man, as well as in the way he accepted from others the confession that he was the Christ, but he did not speak directly of it (see Matt. 16: 17). Very noteworthy, also, is that everything that is preached about by Christ and his Apostles before Christ’s glorification is characterized as “the Gospel about the Kingdom” (Matt 9:35, 24:14). The Gospel preaching, however, in the Apostolic letters after Christ’s glorification is described as “the Gospel about Christ” (Rom. 1:9, 15: 19; I Cor. 9: 12, and so forth). In the first, the KINGDOM is prominent; in the latter, the PERSON is the center.]