Mark 10:18 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Mark 10:18, NIV: "Why do you call me good?' Jesus answered. 'No one is good--except God alone."

Mark 10:18, ESV: "And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone."

Mark 10:18, KJV: "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God."

Mark 10:18, NASB: "But Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone."

Mark 10:18, NLT: "'Why do you call me good?' Jesus asked. 'Only God is truly good."

Mark 10:18, CSB: ""Why do you call me good?" Jesus asked him. "No one is good except God alone."

What does Mark 10:18 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse has been used in debates about Jesus' divinity. Some suggest that Jesus is denying He is God. Others think that Jesus is trying to reveal to the man that He is God. But Jesus isn't directly commenting on the sentiment expressed in the statement. Rather, He's prompting the man to consider who deserves to be called "good."

Jesus asks the man why he thinks Jesus is good. What characterizes someone as "good"? And if someone were completely good, what would that say about them? If only God is perfectly good, and a man is perfectly good, then the man would be God. It's possible that Jesus is trying to quickly lead the man to this conclusion, but unlikely. Jesus has taken great pains to hide His identity from all but the Twelve (Mark 8:29–30; 9:9) and the demons who feel impelled to declare it (Mark 3:11–12). More likely, the brevity of the comment and the quick change suggest that Jesus is giving the man something to think on later: "why do you call Me good? Are you calling Me God? If you are, are you prepared to listen to me?"

It was common in that day for a layman to ask a religious leader, such as a rabbi, scribe, or Pharisee, what he must do to be good. They all followed the extra-biblical teachings the scribes had created over the years. Jesus, on the other hand, tells the man to go back to the Mosaic law as God gave it (Mark 10:19), and not worry about the traditions of man (Mark 7:1–13). The man implies that Jesus, as a good teacher, must know how to receive eternal life. Jesus points out that only God is good, and He gave the Mosaic law to teach the Jews how to be holy.

Even more likely, Jesus is showing the man that if only God is good, the rich young man cannot be good. If he can't be good, how can he earn eternal life? Matthew's wording supports this interpretation: "He said to him, 'Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good'" (Matthew 19:17). No matter how "good" we are, we will never be sinless (Romans 3:23).