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Mark chapter 7

New International Version

1 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)
5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, 'Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?'
6 He replied, 'Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ''These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.'
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.'
9 And he continued, 'You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, 'Honor your father and mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.' 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)-- 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.'
14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, 'Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.' 16
17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 Are you so dull?' he asked. 'Don't you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn't go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.' (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)
20 He went on: 'What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person's heart, that evil thoughts come--sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.'
24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
27 First let the children eat all they want,' he told her, 'for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs.'
28 Lord,' she replied, 'even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs.'
29 Then he told her, 'For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.'
30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.
33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, 'Ephphatha!' (which means 'Be opened!'). 35 At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. 'He has done everything well,' they said. 'He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.'
English Standard Version

1 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 16 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
King James Version

1 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. 2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. 14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. 16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. 18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; 19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? 20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
24 And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. 25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. 28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs. 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.
31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
New American Standard Bible

1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes *gathered to Him after they came from Jerusalem, 2 and saw that some of His disciples were eating their bread with unholy hands, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the other Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thereby holding firmly to the tradition of the elders; 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they completely cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received as traditions to firmly hold, such as the washing of cups, pitchers, and copper pots.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes *asked Him, 'Why do Your disciples not walk in accordance with the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with unholy hands?'
6 But He said to them, 'Rightly did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 7 AND IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.’
8 Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.'
9 He was also saying to them, 'You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘THE ONE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, ISCERTAINLY TO BE PUT TO DEATH’; 11 but you say, ‘If a person says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is, given to God),’ 12 you no longer allow him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13 thereby invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.'
14 After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, 'Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside the person which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which come out of the person are what defile the person.' 16
17 And when He later entered a house, away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him about the parable. 18 And He *said to them, 'Are you so lacking in understanding as well? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the person from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, andis eliminated?' (Thereby He declared all foods clean.) 20 And He was saying, 'That which comes out of the person, that is what defiles the person. 21 For from within, out of thehearts of people, come the evil thoughts, acts of sexual immorality, thefts, murders, acts of adultery, 22 deeds of greed, wickedness, deceit, indecent behavior,envy, slander,pride, and foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile the person.'
24 Now Jesus got up and went from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know about it; and yet He could not escape notice. 25 But after hearing about Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician descent. And she repeatedly asked Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And He was saying to her, 'Let the children be satisfied first, for it is notgood to take the children’s bread and throw it to thedogs.' 28 But she answered and *said to Him, 'Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.' 29 And He said to her, 'Because of thisanswer, go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.' 30 And after going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
31 Again He left the region of Tyre and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. 32 And they *brought to Him one who was deaf and had difficulty speaking, and they *begged Him to lay His hand on him. 33 And Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers in his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; 34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He *said to him, 'Ephphatha!' that is, 'Be opened!' 35 And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. 36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. 37 And they were utterly astonished, saying, 'He has done all things well; He makes even those who are deaf hear, and those who are unable to talk, speak.'
New Living Translation

1 One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. 2 They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating. 3 (The Jews, especially the Pharisees, do not eat until they have poured water over their cupped hands, as required by their ancient traditions. 4 Similarly, they don't eat anything from the market until they immerse their hands in water. This is but one of many traditions they have clung to--such as their ceremonial washing of cups, pitchers, and kettles.)
5 So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, 'Why don't your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.'
6 Jesus replied, 'You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.'
8 For you ignore God's law and substitute your own tradition.'
9 Then he said, 'You skillfully sidestep God's law in order to hold on to your own tradition. 10 For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: 'Honor your father and mother,' and 'Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.' 11 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, 'Sorry, I can't help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.' 12 In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents. 13 And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.'
14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. 'All of you listen,' he said, 'and try to understand. 15 It's not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.' 16
17 Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the parable he had just used. 18 'Don't you understand either?' he asked. 'Can't you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? 19 Food doesn't go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.' (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God's eyes.)
20 And then he added, 'It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.'
24 Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre. He didn't want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn't keep it a secret. 25 Right away a woman who had heard about him came and fell at his feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evil spirit,
26 and she begged him to cast out the demon from her daughter. Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia, 27 Jesus told her, 'First I should feed the children--my own family, the Jews. It isn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.'
28 She replied, 'That's true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children's plates.'
29 'Good answer!' he said. 'Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.' 30 And when she arrived home, she found her little girl lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone.
31 Jesus left Tyre and went up to Sidon before going back to the Sea of Galilee and the region of the Ten Towns. 32 A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to him, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him.
33 Jesus led him away from the crowd so they could be alone. He put his fingers into the man's ears. Then, spitting on his own fingers, he touched the man's tongue. 34 Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said, 'Ephphatha,' which means, 'Be opened!' 35 Instantly the man could hear perfectly, and his tongue was freed so he could speak plainly!
36 Jesus told the crowd not to tell anyone, but the more he told them not to, the more they spread the news. 37 They were completely amazed and said again and again, 'Everything he does is wonderful. He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak.'
Christian Standard Bible

1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him. 2 They observed that some of his disciples were eating bread with unclean--that is, unwashed--hands. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, keeping the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they have washed. And there are many other customs they have received and keep, like the washing of cups, pitchers, kettles, and dining couches. ) 5 So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ceremonially unclean hands? "
6 He answered them, "Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written:This people honors me with their lips,but their heart is far from me. 7 They worship me in vain,teaching as doctrines human commands.
8 Abandoning the command of God, you hold on to human tradition." 9 He also said to them, "You have a fine way of invalidating God's command in order to set up your tradition! 10 For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother; and Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death. 11 But you say, 'If anyone tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is corban' " (that is, an offering devoted to God), 12 "you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. 13 You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things."
14 Summoning the crowd again, he told them, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15 Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him but the things that come out of a person are what defile him." 16
17 When he went into the house away from the crowd, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 He said to them, "Are you also as lacking in understanding? Don't you realize that nothing going into a person from the outside can defile him? 19 For it doesn't go into his heart but into the stomach and is eliminated" (thus he declared all foods clean ). 20 And he said, "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of people's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, 22 adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, self-indulgence, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a person."
24 He got up and departed from there to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it, but he could not escape notice. 25 Instead, immediately after hearing about him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she was asking him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, because it isn't right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."
28 But she replied to him, "Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs."
29 Then he told her, "Because of this reply, you may go. The demon has left your daughter." 30 When she went back to her home, she found her child lying on the bed, and the demon was gone.
31 Again, leaving the region of Tyre, he went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had difficulty speaking and begged Jesus to lay his hand on him. 33 So he took him away from the crowd in private. After putting his fingers in the man's ears and spitting, he touched his tongue. 34 Looking up to heaven, he sighed deeply and said to him, "Ephphatha! " (that is, "Be opened! "). 35 Immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly. 36 He ordered them to tell no one, but the more he ordered them, the more they proclaimed it.
37 They were extremely astonished and said, "He has done everything well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

What does Mark chapter 7 mean?

Mark chapter 7 includes accounts of teaching, debating, and miracles. In all the stories, Jesus emphasizes the importance of God's moral standards over man's tradition, setting the stage for the culture of the church that will live in the truth that Jesus has fulfilled the Law. The sequence of Mark 6:31–7:37 is loosely paralleled in Mark 8:1–30, including feeding a multitude, crossing the sea, dealing with the Pharisees, teaching about bread, healing, and a confession of Jesus as Messiah.

The scribes from Jerusalem once again join the local Pharisees to debate Jesus (Mark 3:22). They attack the disciples who do not follow the tradition of washing before eating. Jesus responds with strong words, pointing out that their human tradition is not as sacred as they insist; they can even use their extra-scriptural standards to refuse to care for their aging parents and look pious doing it.

Jesus then gives the people a lesson in ethics, showing exactly why the Pharisees are in the wrong. God gave Moses and the Israelites ceremonial laws as a sign that their culture was far removed from that of the pagan nations they interacted with. He also gave them moral laws to define right from wrong and civil laws to enforce ceremonial laws, moral laws, and enforce general order. While these laws are not explicitly grouped as civil, moral, or ceremonial, context gives us great insight into which ones represent earthly concerns, and which are expressions of God's character. He never meant the people to honor the ceremony more than the moral principle behind it. He never meant for the religious leaders to add to and use the ceremonial law as justification for neglecting the moral law. And He certainly never intended for the religious leaders to add manmade traditions that placed a heavy burden on the people (Mark 7:1–23).

The story of the Syrophoenician woman is a subject of much debate, but when seen in the context of the chapter, it makes more sense. The Pharisees value the traditions of washing and keeping an oath at all costs. All devout Jews value the tradition of avoiding Gentiles. Even Jesus' ministry in general is designed to reach the Jews and leave reaching the Gentiles for Paul and early members of the church. The gospel is meant for the Jews first. But when faced with a Gentile woman with a great need, Jesus forgoes tradition and takes the moral act of granting her request. The controversy of the story comes in the way He stages the interaction. What some scholars see as dismissive and insulting can also be interpreted as a cunning revelation of faith the disciples can't understand (Mark 7:24–30).

After teaching the disciples that the ceremony of avoiding Gentiles is passing away, Jesus travels through the Gentile regions of Tyre and Sidon, then turns east and enters Decapolis again. The witness of the man freed from a legion of demons has done its work, and the people are much more amenable to His presence. They bring Him a deaf and mute man whom He heals (Mark 7:31–37).

Jesus began this tradition vs. moral argument with the Pharisees early on in His ministry when He defended His disciples as they picked heads of grain on the Sabbath. It's interesting to note that the traditions the Pharisees value serve more to make them look good than to worship God. We still argue about tradition, like what should a pastor wear, what songs should we sing, what instruments should we use, if we should celebrate Christmas…. We forget that tradition is merely an optional tool designed to point us to God. It is never meant to take the place of obeying God's law to love Him and others. When it does, it becomes an idol.