What does Mark 12:5 mean?
ESV: And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed.
NIV: He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.
NASB: And he sent another, and that one they killed; and so with many others, beating some and killing others.
CSB: Then he sent another, and they killed that one. He also sent many others; some they beat, and others they killed.
NLT: The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed,
KJV: And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.
NKJV: And again he sent another, and him they killed; and many others, beating some and killing some.
Verse Commentary:
The treatment of the servants is a direct reference to how the Israelites reacted to God's prophets. Since the escape from Egypt, God sent many specially-called prophets to convict the Israelites of their rebellion against God (Jeremiah 7:25). The people rarely listened (Jeremiah 7:26; 25:4).

Looking at the Old Testament prophets from a distance, God's actions almost seem cruel, at least towards the prophets themselves. Why did He send so many messengers to ungrateful people, knowing they would be dishonored, beaten, and killed? In part, because some people did listen (2 Samuel 12:1–15; Ezra 10). In part, because it is God's nature to continue to reach out to us (Hosea 2:14–20; Jeremiah 3:12–14). Peter says, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). God's constant stream of messengers is His call for us to return to Him.

It would have been easy for the disciples to look smugly at the chief priests, scribes, and elders while Jesus takes them down a notch. Some of the disciples followed John the Baptist before they followed Jesus (John 1:35–45). But the disciples don't yet realize that they are the heirs of the prophets' legacy: suffering messengers of God At another point, Jesus tells them, "The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me" (Luke 10:16). That rejection manifests in violence. The Bible records the beatings the disciples would endure (Acts 5:40; 16:22; 21:32) as well as the deaths of Stephen and James (Acts 7:54–60; 12:1–2).

We, too, are called to follow in those footsteps. Jesus calls all believers to pick up their cross and follow Him (Mark 8:34). The alternative is to follow the hypocritical religious leaders; they are so afraid of losing their position over the people that they compromise Scripture and reject God's truth.
Verse Context:
Mark 12:1–12 takes place days before the crucifixion, while Jesus is in the temple courtyard, teaching. Chief priests, elders, and scribes—representatives of the Sanhedrin—have demanded to know the source of Jesus' authority to cleanse the Temple (Mark 11:27–28, 15–19). After exposing their hypocrisy, Jesus tells at least three additional stories that show how God will replace falsely-pious religious leaders with sinners who truly follow Him (Matthew 21:28—22:14). The second of these three stories is recorded here, in Matthew 21:33–46, and in Luke 20:9–19.
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.
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