What does Mark 7:20 mean?
ESV: And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.
NIV: He went on: 'What comes out of a person is what defiles them.
NASB: And He was saying, 'That which comes out of the person, that is what defiles the person.
CSB: And he said, "What comes out of a person is what defiles him.
NLT: And then he added, 'It is what comes from inside that defiles you.
KJV: And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
Verse Commentary:
cleanness and uncleanness are priorities (Leviticus 10:10), but they aren't necessarily determined by sin. Disposing of something or someone that is dead makes someone unclean (Leviticus 5:2). A dead mouse lying on a piece of cloth makes the fabric unclean (Leviticus 11:29–32). Childbirth (Leviticus 12:2), having sex (Leviticus 15:16–18), and menstruation (Leviticus 15:19–24) make people and sometimes the things the people touch unclean. Even a skin condition makes someone unclean (Leviticus 13:35–59) and mildew on a house makes the house unclean (Leviticus 14:33–53).

This is the type of "uncleanness" the scribes and Pharisees wish to avoid. While at the marketplace, they have no way of knowing if the vender picked up a dead mouse or if a locust fell into the basket that holds the grain. By washing, they hope to cleanse themselves and their food so they will not become unclean unintentionally.

Jesus' concern, however, is that as the religious leaders teach about ceremonial uncleanness, their hearts are black with sin: the scribes and Pharisees emphasize keeping an oath over caring for one's parents (Mark 7:9–13). God has no use for teachers who go above and beyond in their religious service but treat people with callousness. Matthew 15:18 specifically says, "But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person." The traditions we observe mean nothing if our hearts are hard.
Verse Context:
Mark 7:14–23 contains Jesus' rebuttal to the Pharisees' beliefs about cleanness (Mark 7:1–5), by condemning their habit of rejecting God's law for their own tradition (Mark 7:6–13). Here, He goes into more detail about what actually makes someone unclean. After, He will live out His teaching of love over tradition by healing a Gentile girl then remaining in a Gentile area to heal and feed four thousand (Mark 7:31–8:10). A parallel description can be found in Matthew 15:10–20.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus counters another traditional error from the scribes and Pharisees, explaining that food in and of itself does not make a person unclean. Rather, it is the intent of the heart that matters to God. He specifically condemns traditions which effectively undo the original intent of God's commands. Jesus heals the daughter of a persistent Gentile woman, and a man suffering from deafness and a speech impediment.
Chapter Context:
After showing His authority over demons, death, and physics, Jesus asserts His superiority over manmade traditions. For generations, Jewish religious leaders have added to the Law in an attempt to keep the nation holy. Such traditions, however, serve to make the leaders look good but unnecessarily burden the people. Jesus argues in word and action that any law that dismisses love is either misinterpreted or manmade.
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 6:53:12 PM
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