What does Mark 12:42 mean?
ESV: And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.
NIV: But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
NASB: And a poor widow came and put in two lepta coins, which amount to a quadrans.
CSB: Then a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little.
NLT: Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.
KJV: And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
Verse Commentary:
The copper coins the woman offer are Greek lepta. Her two coins add up to a "penny," the Greek kodrantēs. About sixty-four kodrantēs would make up a denarius, or a day's wage for a laborer. Three-hundred-eighty kodrantēs would make a shekel. Using modern equivalents from the United States, if a laborer earns a day's wage of sixty-four dollars, the woman is giving the equivalent of one dollar.

The chest she has put the coins into is likely one of six dedicated to freewill offerings. That means she has absolutely no obligation to donate at all. It's interesting to note that Jesus honors her offering and does not try to stop her. We don't know her situation. We know that if we trust God, He will add to the food and clothing we need, but He will not necessarily keep us from starving (Matthew 6:33). Jesus has made it very clear that children are to care for their aging parents (Mark 7:9–13), but we don't know if this woman has family.

We may find ourselves in a position where we need to step in when an elderly relative is being tricked into giving money to a religious charlatan. These false teachers promise that if people send in money to their ministry, God will bless them with both money and health. They also pressure their victims into feeling guilty if they don't give.

Jesus has shown that the temple complex is similarly corrupt (Mark 11:15–19), but the woman is not giving to the rich priests and greedy city elders. She's giving to God and His temple. She trusts God to take care of her. She doesn't offer some of the abundant resources she owns; she offers her whole self, something the rich young ruler was unable to do (Mark 10:17–22). It is this heart that Jesus says is essential to receive eternal life (Mark 8:34–38).
Verse Context:
Mark 12:41–44 relates an event also found in Luke 21:1–4. Jesus has spent much of the week arguing with men who often misinterpret Scripture for personal gain. He has spent much of His ministry teaching the disciples that to truly follow Him they must be humble (Mark 9:33–37; 10:35–45). Jesus' public ministry is finished. From now until the arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, He will teach the disciples and spend time with friends (Mark 14:3–9). But before He leaves the temple courtyard, Jesus points out one person who understands what it means to faithfully follow God.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter contains lessons taught by Jesus in various circumstances. He explains the eventual destruction of traditional Judaism, the relationship between secular and sacred obligations, the nature of the resurrection, and the most important of God's commandments. Jesus also expounds on Messianic statements in the Old Testament. Jesus also condemns the glory-seeking shallowness of the scribes, and extolls the virtues of sincere, faith-based giving.
Chapter Context:
Days before, Jesus has entered Jerusalem, hailed as a hero by the people (Mark 11:1–11). While teaching in the temple courtyard, Jesus shows superior understanding of Scripture over the chief priests, scribes, and elders (Mark 12:27–33), the Pharisees and Herodians (Mark 12:13), the Sadducees (Mark 12:18), and the scribes again (Mark 12:35, 38). Sadly, even in the instance where a scribe does understand Scripture, that is no guarantee he will follow it to its logical conclusion: Jesus (Mark 12:28–34). In contrast, a humble widow exemplifies the faithfulness and piety the leaders lack (Mark 12:41–44). Jesus leaves the temple for the last time to teach the disciples on the Mount of Olives (Mark 13). In Mark 14, He prepares for the crucifixion.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
Accessed 3/1/2024 2:32:53 AM
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