Mark 1:2
(2) In the prophets.--The better MSS. give the more accurate reference, "in Esaias the prophet." On general grounds, however, it seems more probable that the general reference should have been specialised by a transcriber than the reverse. With one exception, and that very doubtful as to its genuineness (see Note on Mark 15:28), this is the only quotation from a prophet made by the Evangelist himself in this Gospel. The fact that St. Mark wrote for Gentiles furnishes a partial explanation of his silence in this respect, as compared with the other Gospels. (See Introduction.)

Behold, I send my messenger.--See Notes on Matthew 11:10-11.

Verse 2. - Even as it is written in the prophets. The weight of evidence is here in favor of the reading "in Isaiah the prophet." Three of the most important uncials (א, B, and L), and twenty-six of the cursives, have the reading "Isaiah." With these agree the Italic, Coptic, and Vulgate versions. Of the Fathers, Irenaeus quotes the passage three times, twice using the words "in the prophets," and once "in Isaiah the prophet." Generally the Fathers agree that "Isaiah" is the received reading. The more natural reading would of course be "in the prophets," inasmuch as two prophets are quoted; but in deciding upon readings, it constantly happens that the less likely reading is the more probable. In the case before us we can hardly account for "Isaiah" being exchanged for "the prophets," although we can quite understand "the prophets" being interpolated for "Isaiah." Assuming, then, that St. Mark wrote "in Isaiah the prophet," we may ask why he mentions Isaiah only and not Malachi? The answer would seem to be this, that here the voice of Isaiah is the more powerful of the two. But in real truth, Malachi says the same thing that Isaiah says; for the messenger sent from God to prepare the way of Christ was none other than John, crying aloud and preaching repentance as a preparation for the receiving of the grace of Christ. The oracle of Malachi is, in fact, contained in the oracle of Isaiah; for what Malachi predicted, the same had Isaiah more clearly and concisely predicted in other words. And this is the reason why St. Mark here, and other evangelists elsewhere, when they cite two prophets, and two or more sentences from different places in the same connection, cite them as one and the same testimony, each sentence appearing to be not so much two, as one and the same declaration differently worded.

1:1-8. Isaiah and Malachi each spake concerning the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the ministry of John. From these prophets we may observe, that Christ, in his gospel, comes among us, bringing with him a treasure of grace, and a sceptre of government. Such is the corruption of the world, that there is great opposition to his progress. When God sent his Son into the world, he took care, and when he sends him into the heart, he takes care, to prepare his way before him. John thinks himself unworthy of the meanest office about Christ. The most eminent saints have always been the most humble. They feel their need of Christ's atoning blood and sanctifying Spirit, more than others. The great promise Christ makes in his gospel to those who have repented, and have had their sins forgiven them, is, they shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost; shall be purified by his graces, and refreshed by his comforts. We use the ordinances, word, and sacraments without profit and comfort, for the most part, because we have not of that Divine light within us; and we have it not because we ask it not; for we have his word that cannot fail, that our heavenly Father will give this light, his Holy Spirit, to those that ask it.As it is written in the prophets,.... Malachi and Isaiah; for passages out of both follow; though the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Persic versions read, "as it is written in the prophet Isaias"; and so it is in some Greek copies: but the former seems to be the better reading, since two prophets are cited, and Isaiah is the last; to which agree the Arabic and Ethiopic versions, and the greater number of Greek copies. The following citations are made to show, that according to the writings of the Old Testament, John the Baptist was to be the harbinger of Christ, to come before him, and prepare his way; and also the propriety of the method the evangelist takes, in beginning his Gospel with the account of John's ministry and baptism: the first testimony stands in Malachi 3:1, and the words are the words of the Father to the son, concerning John, pointing out his character and his work:

behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. John the Baptist is here called a messenger, and the message he was sent and came with, was of the greatest moment and importance, and required the closest attention to it; wherefore this passage is introduced with a "behold!" signifying that something momentous, and what should be strictly regarded, was about to be delivered: and indeed, the work of this messenger was no other, than to declare that the long expected Messiah was born; that he would quickly make his public appearance in Israel; that the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of the Messiah, was at hand; and that it became the Jews to repent of their sins, and believe in Christ: he is called the messenger of God, "my messenger"; because he was sent, and sanctified by him; he was called unto, and qualified for his work by him; see John 1:6, his father Zechariah says, he should be called the prophet of the Highest, Luke 1:76. The reason of his being called the messenger of God, may be observed in the text itself, "behold, I:send": the words in Malachi are by us rendered, "behold, I will send", Malachi 3:1, because this was at the time of the prophet's writing a thing future, but in the times of the evangelist a thing done: and indeed, it is a more literal version of the Hebrew text, to render it "I send", or "am sending"; and it is so expressed, to denote the certainty of it, and because in a little time it would be done: the words "before thy face", are not in the original text of Malachi, nor in the Septuagint version, but are inserted by the evangelist; who might do it with authority, since Christ had done it before him, Matthew 11:10, and which, as Surenhusius (c) observes, is for the greater elucidation of the matter. The prophet does not say before whom he should be sent, though it is implied in the next clause, but here it is expressed: besides, this messenger had now appeared before the face of Christ, had prepared his way in the wilderness, and had baptized him in Jordan; all which is designed in the following words, "which shall prepare thy way before thee", by his doctrine and baptism: in the text in Malachi it is, "before me", Malachi 3:1; which has made it a difficulty with the interpreters, whether the words in the prophet, are the words of Christ concerning himself, or of his Father concerning him. But sending this messenger before Christ, may be called by the Father sending him before himself, and to prepare the way before him; because Christ is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and is the angel of his presence, or face; besides, Jehovah the Father was greatly concerned, and the glory of his perfections, in the work the Messiah was to do, whose way John came to prepare. That the prophecy in Malachi here cited, is a prophecy of the Messiah, is owned by several Jewish writers (d); who expressly say, that those words which follow, "the Lord whom ye seek", are to be understood of the king Messiah: and though they are divided among themselves, who should be meant by this messenger; see Gill on Matthew 11:10, yet some of them are of opinion, that Elias is intended, even Abarbinel himself: for though in his commentary he interprets the words of the prophet Malachi himself, yet elsewhere (e) he allows Elias may be intended: indeed he, and so most that go this way, mean Elijah the prophet, the Tishbite; who they suppose will come in person, before the Messiah appears: yet not he, but one in his Spirit and power is designed; and is no: other than John the Baptist, in whom the passage has had its full accomplishment.

(c) Biblos Katallages, p. 229. (d) Kimchi & Ben Melech in Malachi 3.1. Abarbinel, Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 76. 4. (e) Abarbinel, Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 76. 4.

Mark 1:1
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