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Mark 9:6

ESV For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.
NIV (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
NASB For he did not know how to reply; for they became terrified.
CSB because he did not know what to say, since they were terrified.
NLT He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified.
KJV For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.

What does Mark 9:6 mean?

It's not clear how Peter, James, and John know that Jesus' visitors are Moses and Elijah, but in the Bible, terror is a standard reaction to seeing those who have come from heaven. The witch of Endor cried out when her necromancy succeeded and Samuel appeared (1 Samuel 28:12). People who saw angels are consistently described as reacting with fear or being troubled (Numbers 22:31; Daniel 10:8–9; Matthew 28:1–4; Luke 1:11–12; 2:9). And Jesus' confrontation of Paul was characterized by such a bright light his fellow travelers went speechless and Paul was blind for three days (Acts 9:1–9).

This moment of terror might be one of the most appropriate reactions any of the disciples have toward Jesus before Pentecost (Acts 2:1–13). Despite occasional moments of fearful discomfort (Mark 6:50; 9:32), the disciples seem to take Jesus for granted, uncomprehending of His deity. Their desire to share in Jesus' power and authority continues in the next few stories as they argue over who is the greatest (Mark 9:33–37), reject an outsider who trusts in Jesus' authority (Mark 9:38–41), try to manage Jesus' brand by keeping children away from Him (Mark 10:13–16), and again anticipate their coming glory while ignoring the required sacrifice (Mark 10:35–40).

Jesus, on the other hand, emphasizes the trials and sacrifice they must face. He insists that leadership in His kingdom is servanthood (Mark 9:35; 10:42–45). The glory which stands with Elijah and Moses and scares Peter, James, and John witless is the concealed nature of the Godhead that Jesus set aside so that He can save the world. The only reason the disciples can even travel with Jesus is because He, "though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:6–7).

Within days, Peter, James, and John's holy fear of God will dissipate and be replaced with pride (Mark 9:33–37; 10:38–41) and then they typical fears of men (John 18:15–17; 20:19).
What is the Gospel?
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