What does Mark 6:20 mean?
ESV: for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.
NIV: because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.
NASB: for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he had been protecting him. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; and yet he used to enjoy listening to him.
CSB: because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing he was a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard him he would be very perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him.
NLT: for Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him.
KJV: For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
NKJV: for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
Verse Commentary:
Herod Antipas' father, Herod the Great, was Edomite but raised Jewish. Antipas' mother was a Samaritan. He was installed as ruler over Galilee by the Roman emperor. Antipas is in the strange position of ruling over people he somewhat understands, but who despise everything he is and represents.

Antipas knows John is a righteous man and he fears him, plus the tetrarch likes to listen to John. So since Herodias is trying to kill John, Antipas holds him in the one place she can't reach: prison. Imprisonment of the offender should also, presumably, appease his wife.

Josephus writes that Antipas initially refused to put John the Baptist to death for fear that John's followers would revolt. The tradition of Jews rising up against their Roman oppressors was a long one, and the mythology of the coming Messiah who will succeed seemed to be consistently on the Jews' minds. In addition, Antipas had divorced the daughter of the king of Nabatea, which borders his southern territory of Perea. Antipas would't be able to defend Nabatea from Perea and Galilee from its Jewish citizens, so this line of reasoning makes sense, and Matthew affirms it (Matthew 14:5). Josephus wrote his account sixty years after the events for a Roman audience. Romans would have understood the fear of invasion and rebellion more readily than the idea that Antipas was actually interested in what John had to say or that he feared John.

Despite the appeal of John's words, Antipas can't get past the stage of being puzzled. He understands that John's words are true and right, but they don't get into Antipas' heart. Later, Antipas' great-half-nephew Herod Agrippa II will have a similar reaction to Paul (Acts 26:1, 24–32). And many people today treat Jesus the same. They follow Pilate's example and consider Him a "good teacher," a good man with good things to say (Mark 15:5, 14). But they cannot accept the purpose of Jesus' message. The gospel is not designed to teach us how to act so we have peace and success in this world. It is to show us how to submit to God and gain eternal life with Him. John challenges Antipas to follow the Mosaic Law regarding marriage to a sister-in-law. Jesus calls us to love others and treat each other kindly. These are good and right things but have no eternal value without repentance and trust in Christ.
Verse Context:
Mark 6:14–29 follows the disciples' success in continuing John the Baptist's work with a flashback of John's execution. John was Jesus' cousin (Luke 1:36) and the herald of Jesus' ministry (John 1:19–28). He preached repentance to many, including Andrew and Peter (John 1:35–42). He also baptized Jesus (Mark 1:9–11). Herod Antipas ruled over Galilee, where Jesus was from, and Perea, near where John preached. Antipas was fascinated by John, but his wife felt threatened by John's condemnation of their incestuous marriage. This story is also found in Matthew 14:1–12, Luke 3:19–20, and Luke 9:7–9.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus returns to His hometown of Nazareth, but the people there are faithless and skeptical. As a result, Jesus performs no more than a few minor miracles. He then assigns His twelve apostles to travel in pairs, preaching repentance and healing various conditions. Mark then takes a brief detour to explain the death of John the Baptist, beheaded after Herod Antipas is tricked by his wife. The focus then returns to Jesus, explaining His miraculous feeding of thousands of people, walking on water, and healing people in Gennesaret.
Chapter Context:
Even as the Twelve are given opportunity to wield some of Jesus' power and authority, they still struggle to understand. They misinterpret who He is, what He has come to do, and how much He will ask of them. They fear Jesus' display of deity, but seem to dismiss the murderous rejection of His hometown and the death of John the Baptist. It's easy to have faith in a prophet who seems poised to rescue Israel from foreign rule. It is still beyond them to understand that He is actually God.
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 5/26/2024 10:26:36 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.