What does Mark 3:11 mean?
ESV: And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”
NIV: Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, 'You are the Son of God.'
NASB: And whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, 'You are the Son of God!'
CSB: Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God! "
NLT: And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, the spirits would throw them to the ground in front of him shrieking, 'You are the Son of God!'
KJV: And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.
Verse Commentary:
Mark chapter 3 describes the different reactions of people as they experience Jesus. So far, the Pharisees and Herodians have plotted to kill Him (Mark 3:6), and the common people have mobbed Him, looking for healing (Mark 3:7–10). Here, we learn about the reactions of the demons.

"Unclean" is a common word to describe something that is against the Mosaic Law, specifically against the ceremonial regulations. According to Jewish dietary law, things like pork and shellfish are unclean. Certain biological acts and diseases make people unclean until they either wash (Leviticus 11:25), complete a time of quarantine (Leviticus 11:24), and/or are healed (Leviticus 13).

An "unclean spirit," here, simply means a demon: a fallen angel. These beings are contrasted with God's angels who are clean. The unclean spirits here aren't just floating free, but are attached to people. The Bible doesn't go into too many specifics about demon possession. It appears to have been common in Christ's era, and some demons were responsible for physical or mental illnesses. Although Jesus could make the distinction between a demon and a physiological or psychological condition, He does not call us to do the same. Sometimes demon possession may be obvious. Most of the time, however, we should not expect that a demon is behind every illness.

Just as Jesus discerns demons, they know who He is. To call Him by His name seems to be a compulsion the demons can't help. In Mark 1:24, one of them calls Jesus "the Holy One of God." The people have faith that Jesus can heal them, but they don't treat Him with reverence. They push and crowd Him, trying to touch Him, to the point where He has to arrange for a boat in case things get dangerous (Mark 3:9). The demons, however, fall down before Him, acknowledging His identity and authority. They do not follow Him (James 2:19), but knowing who He is, they have no choice but to worship and fear Him. This same fear keeps Christ-followers safe from demon possession.
Verse Context:
Mark 3:7–12 is the second of five stories recording people's reactions to Jesus' growing ministry. Jesus' fame has spread across Israel. People from Sidon, fifty miles to the northwest, to Idumea, one hundred miles to the southwest, and almost everywhere in between have come for healing. The ever-present crowd keeps growing, to the point where Jesus has to plan an escape route to avoid being injured. Most people are intent on using Jesus' power for their own gain. Ironically, only the demons show Him proper fear and respect. This passage is mirrored in Luke 6:17–19 and possibly in Matthew 12:15–21.
Chapter Summary:
The bulk of chapter 3 deals with how different people react to Jesus' teaching and His assumption of authority. The Pharisees' confusion transitions into plotting. The crowds that continually follow Jesus for healing become more frenetic and dangerous. Jesus' own family, afraid for His sanity, try to pull Him away. But true followers also show themselves. Twelve join together to become a core group, while a slightly bigger crowd, more interested in Jesus' teaching than miracles, earn the honor of being called His true family.
Chapter Context:
Mark chapter 3 continues in the same pattern as chapter 2, describing various teaching and healing encounters from the life of Jesus. These events are used to explain Jesus' overall message and demonstrate His power. They also serve to show how different people react to His teachings. Chapter 4 will focus more on Jesus' parables.
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 4/18/2024 7:58:11 PM
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