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Mark 6:5

ESV And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.
NIV He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.
NASB And He could not do any miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.
CSB He was not able to do a miracle there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.
NLT And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them.
KJV And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.

What does Mark 6:5 mean?

This passage is the subject of much discussion and debate. Matthew 13:58 says Jesus "did not" do many miracles, but the Greek root word from which "could not" is taken is dunamai, and the phrase simply means to be unable, to be incapable. How could Jesus' power be limited by the reaction of people? Understanding this requires only that we interpret the writer's meaning as we would other words or statements.

In repeated instances, faith is the conduit by which Jesus' healing power flows (Mark 2:5, 11–12; 5:34; 10:52), though not always (Mark 3:1–6; 4:35–41; 6:35–44). Those saved from demon possession surely show no signs of faith prior to being freed, though the demons know Jesus' capabilities (Mark 1:23–26; 5:6–13). It could be that Jesus simply does no mighty works in Nazareth because no one asks Him. Perhaps only a few injured and sick show up, the rest staying home in their unbelief, until the crowd drives Him out of town and tries to throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:29).

More reasonably, Jesus "could not" do many mighty works because it would be strategically and spiritually unwise. This is an example of using terms like "cannot" relative to some goal or process. For example, in certain sports, we might say a player "cannot" cross a certain line. We don't mean they're physically unable—we mean they cannot cross that line if they want to stay within the boundaries of the game. Miracles may pique the curiosity of seeking people, but when faced with the unexplainable a hardened heart will make up whatever excuse is necessary to avoid submission.

A prophet is identified by the God-powered miracles he performs. If a person has already rejected the prophet, he will reject the miracle, thus becoming even more resistant to the message. This cycle can push people further away from God instead of drawing them near. Since Jesus' intent is to promote faith through His miracles, He "cannot"—meaning He chooses not to—perform them in Nazareth.
What is the Gospel?
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