Mark 7

Chapter 7

Traditions That Falsify the Law of God.[a] 1 When the Pharisees, along with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem, gathered around Jesus, 2 they noted that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3 For the Pharisees, and in fact all Jews, do not eat without thoroughly washing their hands, thereby observing the tradition of the elders. 4 And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without first washing. In addition, there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and jugs and bronze kettles and tables.[b]

5 Therefore, the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but eat with unclean hands?” 6 He answered, “How rightly Isaiah prophesied about you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

8 You thrust aside the commandment of God in order to preserve the traditions of men.”[c]

9 Then he said to them, “How cleverly you have set aside the commandment of God to preserve your own tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother will be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or mother: “Anything I might have used for your support is Corban” ’[d] (that is, dedicated to God), 12 then he is forbidden by you from that very moment to do anything for his father or mother. 13 You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other things just like that.”

14 Clean and Unclean.[e] Then he called the people to him and said to them: “Listen to me, all of you, and understand. 15 There is nothing that goes into a person from outside that can defile him. The things that come out of a person are what defile him. [ 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!]”[f]

17 When he had gone into the house, away from the crowds, his disciples questioned him about the parable. 18 He said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not realize that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not into the heart but into the stomach and is discharged into the sewer?” Thus, he pronounced all foods clean.

20 Then he went on, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. 21 For from within, from the human heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. 23 All these evils come from within, and they defile a person.”

24 The Faith of a Gentile Woman.[g] He moved on from that place to the region of Tyre. He went into a house and did not want anyone to know he was there, but he was not able to avoid being recognized. 25 Almost immediately, a woman whose daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit heard about him and hastened to fall down at his feet. 26 The woman was a Gentile of Syrophoenician origin, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter.

27 Jesus said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 She replied, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs under the table eat the scraps from the children.” 29 Then Jesus said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And when she returned home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

31 Jesus Heals a Deaf Man.[h] Returning from the region of Tyre, Jesus traveled by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 Thereupon people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue. 34 Then, looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha!” which means, “Be opened!” 35 At once, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he spoke properly.

36 Then he ordered them not to tell anyone, but the more he ordered them not to do so, the more widely they proclaimed it. 37 Their astonishment was beyond measure. “He has done all things well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf able to hear and the mute able to speak.”


  1. Mark 7:1 Jesus reproaches the teachers, who insist upon “traditions” that they themselves have sometimes invented, with a legalism that allows them to have a good conscience, even as they disregard the essential demands of the Law (Ex 20:12; 21:17; Lev 20:9; Isa 29:13). See also note on Mt 15:2ff.
  2. Mark 7:4 Moses had prescribed a few ablutions for priests when they prepared for service at the altar (Ex 30:17-21). However, Rabbinic tradition had gone beyond the spirit of this prescription and arbitrarily extended it. Jesus condemns this Pharisaic formalism and censures his opponents who out of love for their traditions had nullified the more important commandments of the Law. His disciples—like the great majority of the common people—paid little attention to these prescriptions of the Pharisees. And tables: found only in some early manucripts.
  3. Mark 7:8 The commandment of God . . . the traditions of men: Jesus makes a clear contrast between the two. The commandment of God is found in Scripture and is binding; the traditions of men (also known as the tradition of the elders: v. 3) are not found in Scripture and are not binding.
  4. Mark 7:11 Corban: an Aramaic word meaning “offered to God.”
  5. Mark 7:14 Jesus settles the question of clean and unclean foods that was erecting a barrier between Jews and pagans and was troubling Jews who had converted to Christianity (see Acts 10:11, 15; Rom 14:14-23; 1 Tim 4:3-4; Tit 1:15). See also note on Mt 15:10-20.
  6. Mark 7:16 This verse is lacking in some of the most ancient manuscripts; it was probably added here from Mk 4:9 or 4:23.
  7. Mark 7:24 See notes on Mt 15:21-28 and 15:21-22.
  8. Mark 7:31 The miracle of the deaf mute is omitted by the other evangelists. This man may also have been a pagan, for the population of the Decapolis was mostly pagan. The various gestures that Jesus performs on the man had the sole purpose of strengthening his faith. Mark might have recounted them in detail to foreshadow the future Christian Sacraments.

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