What does Mark 1:26 mean?
ESV: And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.
NIV: The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
NASB: After throwing him into convulsions and crying out with a loud voice, the unclean spirit came out of him.
CSB: And the unclean spirit threw him into convulsions, shouted with a loud voice, and came out of him.
NLT: At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him.
KJV: And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
NKJV: And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him.
Verse Commentary:
Although demon-possessed persons in the Bible often appear to be suffering from what we would consider a physical or mental illness, Mark gives specific distinctions. Demons often imbue unusual strength to their victims (Mark 5:4) and damage the person they leave (Mark 9:26). The demons also have information the person wouldn't have normally, and verbally protest Jesus' presence (Mark 1:24; 5:7). Those who are healed of physical ailments sincerely seek Jesus' presence (Mark 1:32) and recover gently (Mark 1:31; 5:29).

Mark describes the demon as an "unclean spirit." It is a "spirit" because demons, as well as angels, do not primarily live in the physical world. "Spirit" is from the Greek pneuma, which also means "breath" or "wind," which describes how non-corporeal demons are.

In the ceremonial sense, "unclean" is from the word akathartos: a euphemism for that which is sinful, dirty, and must be avoided if one wants to properly worship God. It represents the opposite state of someone who submits to and serves their Creator. The Mosaic Law lists many things that make someone "unclean" enough to not be allowed in the temple, but not all of them are sin, and it's interesting to note that demon-possessed people in the Bible are not accused of being sinful. Demons, however, are characterized as unclean. They do not worship God, and they should be avoided by anyone who claims to be a Christ-follower.

Jesus does not want His declaration as Messiah to begin through the testimony of an unclean spirit. He silences and banishes the demon to stop it from identifying who Jesus is. Even if a demon has knowledge about God that we don't, it will be sure to use that knowledge to try to thwart God's plan for us. God promises to give us the wisdom we need if we will just ask (James 1:5).
Verse Context:
Mark 1:21–45 opens a longer section describing the healing and preaching ministry of Jesus Christ. In this segment, Jesus impresses onlookers with His mastery of the Scriptures. He also amazes people with His authoritative style. During this teaching, Jesus heals a man afflicted with demonic possession. The resulting publicity brings a massive crowd to the home of Simon Peter, where Jesus is staying. Jesus heals Peters' mother-in-law of a fever, and cures a leper, before leaving the region to continue His ministry.
Chapter Summary:
John the Baptist is introduced as a figure preparing the world for the arrival of the Messiah. John's baptism teaches people about their need for repentance. When Jesus arrives, and is baptized, it signals the coming of God's fulfillment and the need of people to recognize their Savior. Mark briefly notes Jesus' baptism, desert temptation, and the calling of the first four disciples. After this, Jesus begins teaching in the synagogue and performs miraculous healings which spread His fame around the region.
Chapter Context:
The first chapter of the Gospel of Mark sets the tone for the rest of the story. Mark's writing is concise, action-packed, and short on details. Within a few verses, Mark establishes the transition from the wilderness ministry of John the Baptist to the healing and preaching of Jesus Christ. This first chapter includes the calling of Jesus' earliest disciples, His early miracles, and His early teaching. This establishes the pattern shown throughout the Gospel of Mark, where Jesus mingles His teaching with miraculous signs.
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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