Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Mark 7:33

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And he spit, and touched his tongue - This place is exceedingly difficult. There is scarcely an action of our Lord's life but one can see an evident reason for, except this. Various interpretations are given of it - none of them satisfies my mind. The Abbe Giradeau spiritualizes it thus: -

  1. He took him aside from the multitude - When Christ saves a sinner, he separates him from all his old evil companions, and from the spirit and maxims of an ungodly world.
  • He put his fingers in his ears - to show that they could be opened only by the finger, i.e. the power, of God, and that they should be shut to every word and voice, but what came from him.
  • Spitting out he touched his tongue - to show that his mental taste and relish should be entirely changed: that he should detest those things which he before esteemed, and esteem those which he before hated.
  • Looking up to heaven - to signify that all help comes from God, and to teach the new convert to keep continually looking to and depending upon him.
  • He groaned - to show the wretched state of man by sins and how tenderly concerned God is for his present and eternal welfare; and to intimate that men should seek the salvation of God in the spirit of genuine repentance, with strong crying and tears.
  • He said, Be opened - Sin is a shutting of the ears against the words of God; and a tying of the tongue, to render it incapable of giving God due praise. But when the all-powerful grace of Christ reaches the heart, the ear is unstopped, and the man hears distinctly - the tongue is unloosed, and the man speaks correctly.
  • After all, it is possible that what is attributed here to Christ belongs to the person who was cured. I will give my sense of the place in a short paraphrase.

    And Jesus took him aside from the multitude: and [the deaf man] put his fingers into his ears, intimating thereby to Christ that they were so stopped that he could not hear; and having spat out, that there might be nothing remaining in his mouth to offend the sight when Christ should look at his tongue, he touched his tongue, showing to Christ that it was so bound that he could not speak: and he looked up to heaven, as if to implore assistance from above: and he groaned, being distressed because of his present affliction, and thus implored relief: for, not being able to speak, he could only groan and look up, expressing by these signs, as well as he could, his afflicted state, and the desire he had to be relieved. Then Jesus, having compassion upon him, said, Be opened: and immediately his ears were opened, so that he could hear distinctly; and the impediment to his speaking was removed, so that he spake properly. The original will admit of this interpretation; and this, I am inclined to believe, is the true meaning of this otherwise (to me and many others) unaccountable passage.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    And he took him aside from the multitude - Why this was done we have no means of information. It might have been to conceal from the multitude everything respecting the “manner” of cure, in order that none might attempt to cure in a similar way.

    And he put his fingers into his ears … - Why this was done it has been found exceedingly difficult to explain. Jesus had power at once to open his ears and loose his tongue, but for some cause he chose to accompany it with a sign. This was intended, probably, simply to denote that the power of healing came from him; to satisfy the man by the touch that he had this power, and that it could come from no other quarter. Our Saviour often used signs in this way to denote his power to heal. See Mark 8:23; John 9:6.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Here is a cure of one that was deaf and dumb. Those who brought this poor man to Christ, besought him to observe the case, and put forth his power. Our Lord used more outward actions in the doing of this cure than usual. These were only signs of Christ's power to cure the man, to encourage his faith, and theirs that brought him. Though we find great variety in the cases and manner of relief of those who applied to Christ, yet all obtained the relief they sought. Thus it still is in the great concerns of our souls.
    Ellen G. White
    The Desire of Ages, 340-1

    The two restored demoniacs were the first missionaries whom Christ sent to preach the gospel in the region of Decapolis. For a few moments only these men had been privileged to hear the teachings of Christ. Not one sermon from His lips had ever fallen upon their ears. They could not instruct the people as the disciples who had been daily with Christ were able to do. But they bore in their own persons the evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. They could tell what they knew; what they themselves had seen, and heard, and felt of the power of Christ. This is what everyone can do whose heart has been touched by the grace of God. John, the beloved disciple, wrote: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; ... that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.” 1 John 1:1-3. As witnesses for Christ, we are to tell what we know, what we ourselves have seen and heard and felt. If we have been following Jesus step by step, we shall have something right to the point to tell concerning the way in which He has led us. We can tell how we have tested His promise, and found the promise true. We can bear witness to what we have known of the grace of Christ. This is the witness for which our Lord calls, and for want of which the world is perishing. DA 340.1

    Though the people of Gergesa had not received Jesus, He did not leave them to the darkness they had chosen. When they bade Him depart from them, they had not heard His words. They were ignorant of that which they were rejecting. Therefore He again sent the light to them, and by those to whom they would not refuse to listen. DA 340.2

    In causing the destruction of the swine, it was Satan's purpose to turn the people away from the Saviour, and prevent the preaching of the gospel in that region. But this very occurrence roused the whole country as nothing else could have done, and directed attention to Christ. Though the Saviour Himself departed, the men whom He had healed remained as witnesses to His power. Those who had been mediums of the prince of darkness became channels of light, messengers of the Son of God. Men marveled as they listened to the wondrous news. A door was opened to the gospel throughout that region. When Jesus returned to Decapolis, the people flocked about Him, and for three days, not merely the inhabitants of one town, but thousands from all the surrounding region, heard the message of salvation. Even the power of demons is under the control of our Saviour, and the working of evil is overruled for good. DA 340.3

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    Ellen G. White
    The Desire of Ages, 404

    This chapter is based on Matthew 15:29-39; Matthew 16:1-12; Mark 7:31-37; Mark 8:1-21.

    “Again He went out from the borders of Tyre, and came through Sidon unto the Sea of Galilee, through the midst of the borders of Decapolis.” Mark 7:31, R. V. DA 404.1

    Read in context »
    Jesus' Ministry in Galilee and Journey to Jerusalem
    The Ministry of Jesus beyond Galilee