Mark 7:9 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Mark 7:9, NIV: And he continued, 'You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

Mark 7:9, ESV: And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!

Mark 7:9, KJV: And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

Mark 7:9, NASB: He was also saying to them, 'You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.

Mark 7:9, NLT: Then he said, 'You skillfully sidestep God's law in order to hold on to your own tradition.

Mark 7:9, CSB: He also said to them, "You have a fine way of invalidating God's command in order to set up your tradition!

What does Mark 7:9 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The words Jesus use here illustrate the natural progression from Mark 7:8. "Reject" is from the Greek root word atheteo. Where "leave" means they disassociate themselves from God's law, "reject" means they deny its validity. "Establish" is from the Greek root word tereo which goes beyond mastering the tradition and into guarding and keeping what already exists.

In this, the Jewish leaders are successful. By the third century AD, devout Jews consider eating with unwashed hands equivalent to sleeping with a prostitute; for example, see the Babylonian Talmud, Seder Nashim, Tractate Sotah 4b. In making a law that purports to keep followers ceremonially clean, the scribes manage to show their own arrogance and disrespect God's law.

Their attitude towards God's commandments is in stark contrast with King David's. The longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, is David's declaration of devotion to God's law. David has no wish to add to the law, but to keep it. He sees that the law brings life and requires his heart and soul. But he also knows that when he sins against that law, the answer isn't more laws, but God's grace. He knows God will heal him (Psalm 41:4) and make him clean (Psalm 51:4–7). Over a thousand years before the Pharisees and scribes condemn Jesus' disciples for making themselves unclean by eating with unwashed hands, David writes that it is only God who can make our hearts clean (Psalm 51:10).