Mark 3

Mark 3:2 they watched him, whether he would heal him on the Sabbath day

Bruce R. McConkie

"By their religious forms and practices men reveal whether they have pure religion in their souls or not. These Jews bore record of their own apostasy by exhibiting their false and fanatical views about Sabbath observance. To them the Sabbath had become a day of restrictions and petty prohibitions. In large measure their very religion was the rabbinical interpretations surrounding it. The formalities of Sabbath observance had come to outweigh the basic virtues of revealed religion-faith, charity, love, integrity, mercy, healings, and gifts of the Spirit.

"But it is difficult to see how even these Jews could have construed this healing to be a Sabbath violation. Jesus had performed no physical labor, administered no medicine, and required no exertion on the part of the healed person, except that of stretching forth his hand. That Jesus totally discomfited his detractors but added to their hatred and madness." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 206.)

Mark 3:4 Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil?

What a great question to ask ourselves! In the debate over what is appropriate Sabbath activity, this question settles the debate, 'is it lawful to do good...or to do evil?' Maybe we should ask ourselves this question more often.

"Most of us would like to have our Sabbath dos and don'ts spelled out in black and white; then we could be relieved from having to make decisions. But with the Sabbath, as with many other things, there are many gray areas, and one of our great opportunities is to learn how to make the right choices. Ancient Israel allowed itself to get into a 'no win' situation when its leaders attempted to spell out the Sabbath prohibitions. Before long they became entangled in a web of conflicting rules and regulations that emphasized the letter of the law rather than the spirit. Jesus found them 'straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel' when they complained about his breaking the Sabbath because he healed a man on that day. His pertinent question to them, 'Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath?' left them without response. He followed by observing that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath (see Mark 3:1-5; Mark 2:27).

"When the Prophet Joseph Smith was once asked how he governed his people, he responded by saying that he taught them correct principles and then let them govern themselves. A similar approach can be meaningful for each of us in determining whether a particular activity is compatible with the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy. By first identifying the principles, we can then evaluate whether a given activity conforms to the spirit of keeping the Sabbath holy." (Ben E. Lewis, "Q&A: Questions and Answers," New Era, May 1984, 13)

Mark 3:5 he...looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts

Paul H. Dunn

"Someone has said that 'the measure of a man is the things that make him angry.' And I believe that we have plenty of confirmation of this statement in the life and teachings of Jesus, as well as in the experiences of other noble souls who have lived since his time.

"We note that, although Jesus warned his disciples against the evil results of uncontrolled temper, he became angry himself, and on at least one occasion he prepared to use force, if necessary, in driving evil practices from the halls of the temple. (See John 2:15.) But think, if you will, of the size of the things that aroused his anger. Men called him the prince of devils, and he paid little attention to their criticism. They had said that he was ignorant, but this had not caused him to lose his temper. They had spit in his face, mocked him, hit him, and later even hanged him to the cross, but he did not lose control of his feelings.

"It was quite different, however, when they criticized him for doing good on the Sabbath. Realizing that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath, he started to heal a poor fellow on the sacred day. And when he found the crowd in a critical mood, he 'looked round about on them with anger. . . .' (Mark 3:5.)

"So long as men held him up personally to ridicule, he paid little attention. But in the presence of injustice, when men would be unfair and unkind toward each other, he threw the influence of his great, tempered personality against their evil practices. No one could hurt him by attempting to punish him as an individual, but they touched his heart when they were cruel to each other." (Conference Report, April 1968, Afternoon Meeting 141.)

Harold B. Lee

"When the hypocritical Pharisees challenged him because he healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath day, the gospel writer records that he looked on them 'with anger being grieved because of their hardness of heart.' The wise preacher of the Old Testament declared that there is 'a time to love and a time to hate.' I can fancy the Master hating sin, hating social conditions that oppressed the poor and yet loving those who 'despitefully' used him. When the Ten Commandments were thundered from Mt. Sinai, the Lord declared, 'I the Lord am a jealous God, and will have no other gods before me.' The Apostle Paul counseled the saints to 'be ye angry, and sin not,' and spoke of being 'jealous' over them with a 'godly jealousy.' Yes, Jesus was 'tempted as we are in all things' yet he was without sin. Although he was moved by human emotions throughout his life, there was an essential difference between his expression of them and ours. His emotions were always under control. Frequently ours are uncontrolled and end in bitterness that endangers our own souls. He could hate sin yet have compassion on the sinner. He was angered at the narrowness and bigotry that closed men's minds to truth, yet he was patient in his teachings. He loved all mankind and jealously shepherded them against the evils of the day." (Decisions for Successful Living [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973], 42 - 43.)

Mark 3:6 the Pharisees...took counsel with the they might destroy him

James E. Talmage

"The discomfited Pharisees were furious, 'filled with madness' Luke says; and they went out to plot anew against the Lord. So bitter was their hatred that they allied themselves with the Herodians, a political party generally unpopular among the Jews. The rulers of the people were ready to enter into any intrigue or alliance to accomplish their avowed purpose of bringing about the death of the Lord Jesus." (Jesus the Christ, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 200.)

Mark 3:7-8 a great multitude...followed him...when they had heard what great things he did

People came from all around Galilee to see Jesus. Some even came from Idumea, a region south of Judea, which was almost 120 miles from Galilee. How far would you go to see Jesus?

We cannot doubt the genuine interest of the multitudes-what else would motivate them to travel such great distances. Instructive, however, is the reason for their interest. They came when they heard of what great things he did. They didn't come because of the great things he said or because of the great principles he taught, but because he could work mighty miracles. Least of all, did they come because of who he was. Yet, the marvelous miracles, transcendent as they were, were not as important as the timeless doctrines or the significance of who he was-the Great God of Israel, the long-awaited Messiah.

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

"The multitudes flocked to him in Palestine, not for the spiritual truths he proclaimed, nor to follow the pattern of life he declared and led. They cared little for either of these. They came to him because he healed their sick, made whole their crippled, cast out from them their evil spirits." (Behold the Lamb of God [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 299.)

Mark 3:9 he spake...that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude

James E. Talmage

"One effect of the people's eagerness, which led them to press and crowd around Him, was to render difficult if not impossible at times the effective delivery of any discourse. His usual place for open-air teaching while He tarried in the vicinity of the sea, or lake, of Galilee was the shore; and thither flocked the crowds to hear Him. At His request the disciples had provided a 'small ship,' which was kept in readiness on the beach; and it was usual with Him to sit in the boat a short distance off shore, and preach to the people, as He had done when in the earlier days He called the chosen fishermen to leave their nets and follow Him." (Jesus the Christ, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 262.)

Mark 3:10 they pressed upon him for to touch him

Matthew explains why the multitude struggled to get near the Master, they 'besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole' (Matt. 14:36).

Mark 3:14 he ordained twelve, that they should be with him



Given a special name by Jesus: Cephas (Syriac) or Petros (Greek) which means "stone or rock." He is Andrew's brother.


James is the Greek form of the Hebrew Jacob. The Hebrew James means "supplanter." He is John's brother.


The name means "Jehovah's Gift," from the Hebrew Johanan. He is James' brother.


The name means "manly." He is Simon Peter's brother.


The name comes from the Greek and means "lover of horses."

Bartholomew (Nathanael)

The name means "gift of God," and is from the Hebrew.


He is also called Didymus, from the Greek, meaning "twin." See John 11:16; 20:24.


He was also called Levi, a Hebrew word meaning "gift of Jehovah." Also called the Publican. He is James the Less' brother.


Called "the less" to distinguish him from James, son of Zebedee. He is Matthew's brother.


(Judas, not Iscariot)

Thaddeus is the Hebrew root for "heart." He is also called Lebbaeus which is Arabic for "root."


Called "the Canaanite" (Matthew 10:4) and "the Zealot" (Lu. 6:15). The Hebrew word for zealots was Kananim. This would explain the title "Canaanite."


Called Iscariot, probably because he was from the village of Kerioth (Joshua 15:24).

(Adapted from Institute Manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & his Apostles, 2nd ed., p. 55)

"Jesus referred to James and John as Boanerges, the sons of thunder, evidently because of their temperament. (Mark 3:17.) It was John who rebuked one who was casting out demons in Christ's name and had to be corrected by the Lord. (Luke 9:49.) When Jesus was rejected in the Samaritan village, John wanted to call down fire from heaven. (Luke 9:52-56.) On one occasion John joined with his mother and brother requesting places of honor beside Jesus in his kingdom. (Matt. 20:21; Mark 10:37-40.) They had not yet caught the vision of the gospel." (Curtis E. Ledbetter, "The Shepherd's Flock," Ensign, Apr. 1973, 7)

Mark 3:17  James and John,  Sons of Thunder

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Among the Twelve whom Jesus called and ordained were two brothers, James and John. Do you remember the nickname He gave them?  Sons of Thunder (Boanerges).

You don’t get a nickname like that without an intriguing backstory. Unfortunately, the scriptures don’t provide much explanation about the nickname’s origin. However, we do get brief glimpses into the character of James and John. These were the same brothers who suggested calling down fire from heaven on a village in Samaria over not being invited into town. (Lu. 9:54)

James and John were fishermen—probably a little rough around the edges—but I guess they knew a lot about the elements of nature. Certainly, they were men of action. (

Mark 3:21 when his friends heard of it

This verse has been so abbreviated as to be confusing. Some have thought that it was Christ who was accused of being 'beside himself,' but this reading is not correct. It is clear from the context of this passage that "the friends" mentioned were friends of one who needed Christ's healing powers. The passage makes more sense if read as follows, "And there was a certain man possessed of a devil. And when his friends heard that Jesus was near, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. And they brought him to Jesus to be healed."

Mark 3:27 No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man

Here, Jesus uses an analogy to demonstrate how ridiculous his accusers are. They have accused him of casting out devils by Satan's power (v. 22). But why would Satan willingly allow his soldiers to be cast out? The idea is as ridiculous as the notion that a strong man would allow a thief to steal all his goods without even putting up a fight.

'No man can enter into a strong man's house (Satan's house), and spoil his goods (cast out his servants), except he will first bind the strong man (he must have power and authority to control Satan); and then he (Jesus) will spoil his house'. No individual ever had more power over Satan than Jesus. No one was ever a greater threat to Satan's house than he was. The Savior had power to enter Satan's dominion and cast out his servants-not because he was a devil but because he was a God.

Mark 3:28 All sins shall be forgiven the sons of men

One of Satan's favorite tactics is to pervert the scriptures to his advantage. The way the text reads, one might imply that all sins will be forgiven without any effort on the sinner's part. This is the devilish doctrine described in the Book of Mormon, 'Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God-he will justify in committing a little sin...if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.' (2 Ne. 28:8)

One of the great things about the Joseph Smith Translation is that the Prophet consistently defuses Satan's arguments. The JST clearly indicates that complete forgiveness is possible only after repenting, coming unto Christ, and following his works. Forgiveness isn't free. Sin cannot come without consequence.

But what of those who don't repent and come unto Christ? Will they ever be forgiven of their sins? According to the great mercies of Christ, they can be forgiven in the sense that they will not suffer forever for their sins. At the resurrection, they will finally be saved from the consequences of the Fall to receive a telestial or a terrestrial glory, but they may not be saved in the kingdom of God, i.e. the celestial kingdom. Still, they are both resurrected and redeemed (DC 76:38-39). However, prior to their resurrection, the price of forgiveness must be paid on an individual basis according to the word of the Lord, 'if they would not repent they must suffer even as I' (DC 19:17).

Where does this suffering take place? In hell, or spirit prison. The story of David is instructive. While he committed murder in the case of Uriah and thereby lost the opportunity to be exalted in the celestial kingdom (DC 132:39), he was given the promise that he would not remain in hell forever. Nonetheless, he would have to pay the price for his own sin. Hence, the Prophet said, "David sought repentance at the hand of God carefully with tears, for the murder of Uriah; but he could only get it through hell: he got a promise that his soul should not be left in hell." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 339.)

Joseph Smith

"I have a declaration to make as to the provisions which God hath made to suit the conditions of man-made from before the foundation of the world. What has Jesus said? All sin, and all blasphemies, and every transgression, except one, that man can be guilty of, may be forgiven; and there is a salvation for all men, either in this world or the world to come, who have not committed the unpardonable sin, there being a provision either in this world or the world of spirits. Hence God hath made a provision that every spirit in the eternal world can be ferreted out and saved (at least in the telestial kingdom) unless he has committed that unpardonable sin which cannot be remitted to him either in this world or the world of spirits. God has wrought out a salvation for all men, unless they have committed a certain sin; and every man who has a friend in the eternal world can save him, unless he has committed the unpardonable sin. And so you can see how far you can be a savior." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 356-357.)

Mark 3:29 he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness

'Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power-
They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born;
For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity;
Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come-
Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame.
These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels-
And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power;
Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.
For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made.' (DC 76:31-39)

Mark 3:32-35 whosoever shall do the will of my brother, and my sister

See commentary for Matt. 12:46-50 and Luke 8:21.