Mark 11:28 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Mark 11:28, NIV: By what authority are you doing these things?' they asked. 'And who gave you authority to do this?'

Mark 11:28, ESV: and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?”

Mark 11:28, KJV: And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?

Mark 11:28, NASB: and began saying to Him, 'By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?'

Mark 11:28, NLT: They demanded, 'By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?'

Mark 11:28, CSB: and asked him, "By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do these things? "

What does Mark 11:28 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

All three official representatives of Jerusalem—the chief priests, scribes, and elders—are on hand to ask Jesus who gave Him the authority to toss out money changers and bird merchants from the temple courtyard (Mark 11:15–19). "Authority" is from the Greek root word exousia. It means the power, liberty, and right to choose. Authority has been an issue in Jesus' ministry since the beginning. In Mark's first record of Jesus at the synagogue, the people said, "What is this? A new teaching with authority!" (Mark 1:27). Soon after, the scribes questioned Jesus' authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:1–12).

In ancient Jerusalem's religious and civil system, priests, elders, and scribes had the authority to make decisions that affect others. It was the high priest, Joseph Caiaphas, who allowed merchants and money-changers to set up shop in the temple courtyard, only a few years before this confrontation. Many in Jerusalem made a living by selling animals that travelers need to sacrifice at the temple. Previous scribes had exercised their authority by forbidding people from selling in the courtyard or using the courtyard as a shortcut to the Mount of Olives; apparently this generation of scribes had different priorities.

Jesus has already addressed this question of His authority. Early on, the Jewish religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus because He broke their Sabbath traditions and claimed that God was His Father. Jesus responded by explaining that His authority comes from the fact that He only does what He sees the Father doing and acts only in the Father's interests. He caps off His argument by pointing out that if they truly followed Moses and the Mosaic law, it would be obvious to them who Jesus is and what He has come to do. Instead, they seek "glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God" (John 5:44). To a group that claims to dedicate their lives to Moses' law, this is a serious accusation (John 5:19–47).