Significance Before Application (Mark 3:14–15): The Mark 3 Commission and Its Implications for Social Action, Part 7
Significance: Determine Analogous Obedience
The narrative and programmatic significance of both “preaching” and “casting” indicate that the content of the to preach(v. 14c) component of the Mark 3 commission is the authority to cast out the demons (v. 15). This is grammatically and syntactically allowable and is affirmed by how Mark crafted his narrative. Reading the commission in this way challenges a narrowly defined, verbal- and cognitive-based understanding of evangelistic activities. As fisher-followers, the church’s paradigm for evangelism is found in the Mark 3 commission, which indicates that Christians and the Christian community should include evangelistic activities that confront Satan’s dominion over the realms of humankind and that reorient those realms to reflect the inaugural presence of God’s kingdom. Thus, the task of “casting” corresponds to any analogous obedience (i.e., application) that confronts what is contrary to God’s design for living in the land and that demonstrates how God’s rule affects the realms of humankind.
In order to move appropriately from text to application, there should be a correspondence between the meaning of the text, its significance to the readers/listeners, and the action taken that indicates obedience to the text. For the church in front of the text, the significance of the Mark 3 commission is our alignment with and commitment to the mission of Jesus (1:14–15) and to exercise Jesus’ authority through actions that demonstrate, concretely and evidentially, that God’s rule and reign has entered time and space. Certainly, as the whole of the NT indicates, evangelism includes proclamation (i.e., verbal- and cognitive-based activities of communication) that presents the information of the Good News, announcing and explaining that the kingdom is near. Yet, such proclamation is not the end of evangelism. Mark’s Gospel narrative as a whole and the Mark 3 commission specifically indicate there is also to be a resultant consequence of the “preaching,” another viable mode of language, namely the doing of deed-parables. As parables revealed the mysteries of the kingdom, deed-parables evidence (i.e., have outcomes that indicate) the undoing of Satan’s power over the affairs of humankind (Mark 3:27) and, as a result, seek to reorient people and the world back toward God’s rightful dominion (an underlying significance of the Mark 4 parable of the mustard seed, vv. 30–32).
Evangelism is the spread of the gospel, the seed sown (Mark 4), which according to Mark’s narrative is dynamically linked to the end of Satan’s dominion and the inauguration of God’s rule and reign. This is what biblical evangelism looks like: as Jesus’ “casting” action demonstrated the end of the strongman-Satan’s kingdom and the arrival of God’s kingdom—visible and evidential acts that indicate the time has been fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near (1:15a, author’s translation)—so, for the church seeking to obey this text, the significance of the “casting” component of the Mark 3 commission is the continuation of Jesus’ mission to confront the powers that oppose God’s dominion. Therefore, as indicated by the fisher-promise’s association to OT contexts that include the issues of poverty and, as well, the implications of the Mark 12 poor widow episode (12:38–44), applications for “casting” should include advocating for those affected by poverty.
Separating social action from evangelism is an unwarranted dualism
As I demonstrated in chapter 3 (“You Will Appear as Fishers”), the Mark 3 commission is the inaugural fulfillment and premiere application of the Mark 1:17 fisher-promise. The fisher role is related to God’s judgment and action toward people and structures that distort God’s creation from his design and reign over it, which includes advocacy for those affected by the issues of poverty and injustice. This allows evangelism, that is, the sowing of the word/gospel to also include the realm of social action, which demonstrates God’s rule and dominion over the realms of society and people that impact the poor and economically vulnerable. This is supported by antecedent OT material related to the economically vulnerable that is associated with the judgment role of fisher-followers. This implies that the Mark 3 commission (3:14–15), to some extent, should be associated at the application level with social action, which is legitimate obedience for following Jesus Christ and for being faithful to the gospel. Therefore, obedience to the Mark 3 commission includes “applications, activities, and outcomes of social action and justice”[x-ref] that should be an intentional component of a church’s or Christian community’s evangelistic activities, which is, at least in part, the fisher-follower’s task.
The obedience (i.e., application) and the desired outcomes analogous to the purpose and intent of the commission to have authority to cast are those which demonstrate God’s reign and rule. Separating social action from evangelism is an unwarranted dualism that is alien to the gospel as Mark presents it in his narrative and, as well, to the wider biblical record. As proclaiming the kingdom’s arrival was demonstrated by Jesus’ deed-parables (i.e., castings, healings, miracles), the evangelistic task of the church is to include analogous activities that indicate the presence of God’s rule and reign. This also makes redemptive-historical sense of the authority to cast out the demons (Mark 3:15) as a display of the all-encompassing arrival of God’s kingdom: God in Jesus Christ has reconciled all things to Himself (Col 1:20) and with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth (Eph 1:10).
Social action that reflects God’s design for living in the land—social action, that is, that demonstrates his reign and his righteousness that is to be expressed among people—is the responsibility of faithful fisher-followers of Jesus, God’s Messiah-King. Consequently, evangelistic activities of the church ought to seek to ensure that the economically vulnerable and the poor (i.e., the land-less) are full participants in the benefits of living in the land. In other words, as Mark’s narrative richly portrays the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1), social action outcomes should be included as a component of a church’s task of evangelism.
 The concept of “living in the land” is borrowed from Walter Brueggemann (The Land), who uses the terminology to refer how the Israelites were to live in the land of promise as neighbors, where everyone is to benefit from living in the land; the land-laws and covenant-stipulations governed how they were to live “in the land” together, specifically being mindful of the economically vulnerable and the poor. Although I am using it in a contemporary sense—Americans living in America—I am borrowing the idea that everyone, the rich, the poor, the middle class, all neighbors to some extent are “living in the land.”
 Note the final discussion on this parable (i.e., the mustard bush) in chapter 2, “Wasted Evangelism.”
 Refer back to chapter 1, “Widows in Our Courts,” for a biblical illustration how both people and systems can cause others to live with the effectsof poverty; additionally, review the OT texts that juxtapose idolatry with poverty in chapter 5 (“Idolatry and Poverty”).
 This is the argument of chapter 3, “You will Appear as Fishers.”
Significance Before Application (Mark 3:14–15): The Mark 3 Commission and Its Implications for Social Action, Part 6
The mission summary frames the Mark 3 commission
My syntactical conclusion developed above—the authority to cast out the demons (3:15) is the content of to preach (v. 14c)—is made more evident by the Mark 3 commission’s link to the Mark 1:14–15 mission summary: “Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time has been fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the gospel.’”
The geographic identifier--Jesus came into Galilee (1:14b)—indicates that these two verses form a summary for the Galilean ministry that runs from the fisher-promise--And He was going along the Sea of Galilee . . . Jesus said to them, “Come follow (after) Me and I will create you to become fishers . . . ” (1:16–17, author’s translation)—through 9:33–49, a teaching episode set in the Galilean town of Capernaum (9:33). These geographic bookends focus the mission summary at a literary level on Jesus’ Galilean ministry, forming an underlying relationship between “preaching the gospel of God” (1:14c) and Jesus’ teaching and actions emplotted throughout the narrative. Furthermore, the central role of Jesus’ casting-ministry is also clearly established by a casting-event bracket, first at the opening of the Galilean ministry (1:21–27) and, then, at the close (9:38–41) as Jesus begins turning his attention toward Jerusalem and the soon approaching passion. This bracketing affirms the importance of “casting” activities in the Galilean section of the Gospel narrative: the first time Jesus “came preaching the gospel of God” (1:14c) in Galilee involved an exorcism (1:21–28) and at the close of the Galilean ministry even those outside the inner-circle, who acted out the mission of Jesus, are associated with “casting” (9:38–41).
Mark 1:14–15 is clearly a summary and it functions as a programmatic and interpretative lens for his Gospel narrative and for the ministry of Jesus that was carried out through both teaching and miracle that reveal the nature and significance of the kingdom that has come near (1:15). The content of the gospel of God (v.14c) is epexegetically explained in 1:15. The gospel that has come from God (1:14c) is defined by each element in verse 15, clarifying God’s decisive action in the appearance of his Son. The mission summary is composed of two parts: first, an indication that Jesus had preached “the gospel of God” (v. 14); then, the content of that preaching (v. 15). The Mark 3 commission follows the same pattern set by Mark 1:14–15.
The gospel of God (1:14–15) and the Mark 3 commission both are announcement in which the content is the arrival of the kingdom of God and, as well, its implications.
The content of the gospel of God (1:14) that Jesus preached is summarized in declarations (v. 15) that Mark has carefully balanced, forming two pairs of statements “each constructed in synthetic parallelism.”
The first pair are declarative statements, each containing a perfect indicative verb that implies a completed action that continues in effect; the second are present imperatives—commands—that flow from the declarations. The first indicative is the time has been fulfilled, which corresponds to the first imperative “repent.” The second indicative is the kingdom of God has come near, which corresponds to the second imperative “believe.” The meaning is rather straightforward: the time of the old age has been completed (cf. this present evil age, Gal 1:4), that is, the time under Satan’s dominion has come to its eschatological end; and, the time of God’s kingdom has now been inaugurated, reorienting the realms of humankind to reflect his right to reign and rule. The pattern established in 1:14–15 is exactly what happens throughout the Galilean ministry and is reflected in the Mark 3 commission.
Timing and the evangelistic task of fisher-followers
The question of timing is relevant, for the summary (Mark 1:14–15) informs us that both the time has been fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near (author’s translation). Discussions regarding the “time” fulfilled and the “nearness” of the kingdom typically focus on chronology: do these references indicate present or future events? Mark, however, uses the word kairos (time) to indicate a decisive moment (12:2; 13:33) or a span of current time (i.e., a season; 10:30; 11:13). Mark’s use of near (eggizo centers on proximity (11:1; 14:42). These are significant observations, for at the literary level, Mark’s narrative portrait of Jesus’ “preaching of the Gospel of God” (1:14c) and its content (v. 15) parallel his immediate and proximate actions during the Galilean ministry: the end of Satan’s dominion and the inaugural reign of God are demonstrated in Jesus’ authority to cast out demons and through his other miracles as well.
A number of interrelated events follow the mission summary that stress arrival (i.e., the kingdom has come near). This is a function of the following miracle stories, particularly the casting, that demonstrate “God’s rule had entered into history.” The weight of the narrative parts (i.e., the episodes, stories, and events throughout the narrative) indicates the timing is immediate in Jesus’ ministry and, then, will continue through the authority to cast granted to the fisher-followers (3:15; 6:7), who are commissioned to imitate Jesus’ mission. This fits the use of the perfect indicative verbal expressions in the mission summary (peplerotai, has been fulfilled; eggiken, has come near), the subsequent narrative (i.e., the Galilean ministry), and the Mark 3 commission. The kingdom of God is the substance of the created fisher-followers’ evangelistic activities, not solely as proclamation, but primarily their actions (i.e., their deeds), which continuously reveal the kingdom’s nearness. Like the word sowed by the Master Sower in the Mark 4 parables and Jesus’ kingdom-deeds (i.e., deed-parables), this, too, is the evangelistic task of fisher-followers.
The significance of the Mark 3 commission
It is not coincidental that the fisher-promise (1:17) follows the mission summary (1:14–15), for the Mark 3 commission is the inaugural fulfillment of the fisher-promise and echoes the pattern set forth in the mission summary. The “casting” episodes act as indicators that the time has been fulfilled and the kingdom has come near (1:15), for Jesus is already invading Satan’s territory. The role of fisher-followers is to imitate Jesus’ activities: as Jesus was the premier inaugurator of the kingdom of God, thus ending Satan’s dominion, which is demonstrated through casting, so, also, the fisher-followers (3:15). This is the significance of the Mark 3 commission: to be obedient to the commission, then, is to develop authoritative application through analogous deeds that demonstrate the defeat of Satan’s kingdom and that reorient both people and the world toward God’s dominion.
The final interpretive summary (III) below gives a sense of this fuller understanding of the Mark 3 commission and its significance for the reader/listener today:
 The Mark 1:14–15 text here reflects my translation of the Greek, which will be used throughout the remainder of this section, unless otherwise noted.
 Although most limit the Galilean ministry to Mark 1–6 (note for example Guelich, Mark 1–8:26, 41; Witherington, Gospel of Mark, 77), it appears that it continues through to Mark 9, which is indicated by the geographic bookends.
 Guelich, Mark 1–8:26, 43.
 Regarding the phrase to euaggelion tou theou (the gospel of God, Mark 1:14c), the genitive tou theou (of God, Mark 1:14c) is most likely used ambiguously by Mark to mean both the Gospel about God (objective genitive) and the gospel from God (subjective genitive). Nonetheless, here I indicate that the phrase to mean “the gospel from God” emphasizing God’s action in Christ Jesus, his appearance and ministry (e.g. see France, Gospel of Mark, 91).
 Lane, Gospel According to Mark, 63–64; Witherington, Gospel of Mark, 77.
 Along with Mark 1:14–15, the Mark 3:14–15 reference here reflects the author’s translation.
 Guelich, Mark 1–8:26, 41; also Marcus, Mark 1–8, 175.
 See Marcus, Mark 1–8, 175; this gird reflects the author’s translation of Mark 1:15.
 On this I follow Marcus, who has a good discussion on the meaning of the mission summary (Mark 1–8, 173–76).
 Ibid., 46.
From the Greek geek (be patient, it's a rough cut): While most translations of Romans 12:9-13 are just fine, some nuances are lost (as those who speak other than English sometimes say) in translation. Here’s one . . . from verse 9 that’s worth noting.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9, ESV).
There are no verbs. We (even they) had to provide them, but should not be at the expense of hearing how Paul set out his written words. And, in this case (v. 9), the two following participles should be heard as “how” (thus, my “by”) “the love” is “sincere,” that is, the manner in which “love” is shown to be sincere is in abhorring evil, holding fast the good. This gives Christian (or should I should, given the context, church) love content--action. And, also noting that Paul’s consistent use afterward of a specific, repeated grammatical construction (i.e., for other Greek geeks, a string of dative phrases—again with no verbs) probably indicates what “good sincere love acts like”:
This is what church good love looks like: “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints” (ESV).
Note: Of course, English versions need to iron or smooth out Greek-to-English renderings to make it more readable . . . most of our English translations, if watching all such linguistic and grammatical nuances of a language (i.e., the koine Greek of the NT) that was written to be heard and not read (so much) would be quite chopping and tiresome to just read . . . but sometimes it’s good to get at the Greek that was to be heard (and not just read).
Significance Before Application (Mark 3:14–15): The Mark 3 Commission and Its Implications for Social Action, Part 5b
Miracles as parables: evidential language of the in-breaking of God’s reign
Miracles are obviously important to Mark, for they occupy a significant amount of space throughout his narrative. Twenty-seven percent of his Gospel is associated with miracles. If the passion segment is not included, forty percent of the verses reference miracles. The emphasis on miracles in Mark’s summaries also indicates their central role in his plot development (1:32–34, 39; 3:10–12; 6:5, 53–56). The inclusion of multiple miracle stories in this Gospel means more than simply an apologetic for Jesus’ deity. Instead, Mark leverages Jesus’ miracles as an integral part of his Gospel narrative as he develops the plot and the story unfolds, particularly within the Galilean ministry that focuses on “casting” as a central miracle (1:23–27, 32–34, 39; 3:11, 22–27).
While most critics of the Gospels recognize that the parables and much of the teachings of Jesus were original, what is overlooked, however, is that the parables and the miracles attributed to Jesus are strikingly parallel in function. Many recognize that miracles in the Gospel are deed-parables, which not only have implications for the authenticity of Gospel miracle stories, but are also important for determining the significance of miracles for developing authoritative, analogous application. For Mark, miracles function as “another mode of language” to communicate the nature of the gospel of God (1:14). They, like the parables, are emplotted in the narrative as a means of teaching about “the mystery of God’s action in the world.” As with Jesus’ teaching and parables, the crowds reacted with awed at his miracles (1:22, 27; 2:12; 5:20, 42; 6:2, 51; 7:37; 9:15; 10:24, 26, 32; 11:18; 12:17).
This programmatic similarity between teaching/parable and miracle is made clear at Jesus’ inaugural ministry-event in which the gathered crowd was “amazed” at Jesus’ authority over an unclean spirit that is referred to as a “new teaching” (2:27). Also, miracles reveal and conceal the mysterious nature of Jesus and his ministry. The kingdom is veiled and disclosed through miracles, making them similar to the function of parables in revealing the nature and inaugural presence of God’s kingdom. Miracles in Mark’s Gospel provide a “parabolic” key to his ministry and reveal “the in-breaking of the power of God’s reign.” This is particularly noticeable with regards to casting episodes, for they indicate his authority to destroy Satan-the strongman’s house and to plunder his dominion—a visible and demonstrable action (with outcomes) indicating the presence of God’s kingdom.
Additionally, the “transactions of the characters” in the plot underscore the significance of the miracle-parables to the reader/listener on this side of the text. After Jesus presented the parable of the Sower who sowed (4:1–8), his followers began asking him about the parables (v. 10). Jesus replied, To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables (4:11b). He then asks his followers, Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables [v. 13]? Later, the disciples dangerously showed lack of insight into Jesus miracles (Mark 6:52; 7:18; 8:14–21). Interestingly, the words that Jesus said to the disciples after the feeding miracle (Mark 8:18) were similar to those he used to explain the parables (4:12); both draw from the Isaiah 6 idolatry-taunt―seeing but not perceiving . . . hearing but not understanding. The miracles have the same outsider-insider effect as do parables, implying that they, too, reveal (i.e., proclaim) the mystery of the kingdom. As the parables reveal the presence of the kingdom, the miracles function in a similar manner. This challenges even fisher-followers to recognize that such deed-parables proclaim and demonstrate the arrival of God’s dominion.
Finally, the Mark 3 sandwich and Beelzebul episode (3:20–35) also suggests the importance of recognizing the role of “casting” miracles in the narrative plot. When the Jerusalem leadership accused Jesus of being demon possessed and in league with Satan (3:22), Jesus defended his mission through parables that indicated the presence of the Stronger Man confirms the destruction of Satan-the strongman’s reign over the affairs of humankind (vv. 23–27). The Mark 3 Beelzebul episode directs the attention of the reader/listener to the attributes of outsiders and insiders (as do the parables and other miracles). The activity of “casting” as a deed-parable gives evidence of the arrival of the kingdom of God, the purpose and meaning of the Mark 3 commission: fisher-followers are insiders who are true family and do the will of God (3:35) by revealing the inaugural presence of God’s kingdom through the language of action/deed (3:15).
 Note Mark 1:23–27, 32–34, 39; 3:11; 5:2–8, 13; 6:13; 7:26–30; 9:14–29, 38–41; cf. 3:22–27; 6:7, 13; 8:33.
 Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus, 139.
 Blomberg, “Miracles as Parables,” 327.
 Blomberg, “The Miracles as Parables,” 327; also note Achtemeier, “Origin and Function,” 198–221; Achtemeier, “Toward the Isolation,” 265–91; Beavis, Mark’s Audience, 157ff.; Boucher, Mysterious Parables, 79–83; Donahue, “Jesus as the Parable of God,” 369–86; Hawkin, “Symbolism and Structure,” 98–110; Marshall, Faith as a Theme, 60ff.; Fuller, Mission and Achievement of Jesus, 73; Richardson, Miracle Stories of the Gospels, 48–49.
 Blomberg, “The Miracles as Parables,” 342.
 Ibid., 341–42.
 Ibid., 329.
 See Kuruvilla, Text to Praxis, 72–75.
Significance Before Application (Mark 3:14–15): The Mark 3 Commission and Its Implications for Social Action, Part 5
The Narrative and Programmatic Significance of to Have Authority to Cast
Mark indicates that Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God (1:14), then offers a summary of the content of that preaching--The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel (1:15)—and thus, by implication, the assumed content of the Mark 3 commission to preach (3:14c). We will turn to the importance of the Mark 1:14–15 mission summary later in this section, however it should be noted here that the summary implies that “the gospel” preached (v. 14) is related more fully to the eschatological significance of the kingdom’s arrival—that is, the content of the “preaching” is that God’s reign and rule has invaded the realms of humankind—and not solely about the personal application of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. The kingdom as the content of the gospel to be preached is supported by Mark’s narrative, particularly as the story and plot unfold to reveal Jesus’ authority to cast out demons. The programmatic relationship that links “preaching the gospel of God” (1:14c), its inaugural-kingdom content (v. 15), and its narrative implications extends the significance of the mission summary (1:14–15) to the Mark 3 commission, which have a similar pattern. This section will concentrate on the narrative and programmatic significance of to have authority to cast out the demons (3:15) in order to decipher the significance of the Mark 3 commission to the Christian community on this side of the text.
The difficulty of applying the “casting” texts
The problem of application is plainly evident in our attempts to apply or “make practical” the biblical texts that reference miracles. How do we apply and demonstrate obedience to the creation story (Gen 1), Moses’s rod turned into a snake (Exod 4:2–4), the parting of the sea at the Exodus (Exod 14), the stricken rock that gushed water (Exod 17:6), the talking donkey of Balaam (Numb 22:22–35), the fire called down from the sky by Elijah (1 Kgs 18), or the surviving of the fire-pit and the lion’s den in the Book of Daniel (Dan 3, 6)? As evangelicals, we tend to treasure the miraculous in the Bible, but we are not sure what to do with it. Although most evangelicals believe miracles actually happened as described in the Bible, many are, nonetheless, skeptical how they are supposed to work today in application. Some affirm that miracles take place today and that is how they are applied. Some affirm the “potential” of miracles and/or simply spiritualize them for their personal meaning to the individual. Miraculous events and stories are often too easily “applied” without much consideration for why the stories were told in first place, that is, their literary role in the narrative plot.
On the other hand, rather than apply, many use the casting and other miracles in the gospels as apologetic “proof-texts” for Jesus’ deity and/or to affirm that the disciples had authority from God. Miracles, to some, are used as evidence that the gospel is true—even if that evidence took place long ago in the days of Jesus and the early church. Utilized in this way, miracles are merely turned into cognitive-based instruction, apologetic proofs, or evangelistic tools, rather than for their literary or narrative significance.
The “casting” episodes in Mark’s Gospel fall prey to the same approaches and are often reduced to mere information about the gospel or about Jesus, rather than deciphering the meaning implied by their emplotted use in the narrative. The reader/listener should ask, What role does Mark intend the casting to play in his story? In other words, how does casting out demons contribute to “the sequence of events emplotted” in the narrative? What is the relationship between to have authority and to cast out demons in determining the significance of the Mark 3 commission for the church today? In order to apply more accurately the Mark 3 commission, the emplotted significance of to have authority to cast out the demons (v. 15) must be deciphered.
“To have authority to cast” is the mission
The centrality of casting out demons and unclean spirits in Mark cannot be overstated (1:23–27, 32–34, 39; 3:11; 5:2–8, 13; 6:13; 7:26–30; 9:14–29, 38–41; cf. cf. 3:22–27; 6:7, 13; 8:33; cf. 16:9). Jesus’ authority over demons is “the single hallmark of his activity.” This fits the introductory and programmatic content of the Gospel, which is first initiated in the desert confrontation between Jesus and Satan (1:12–13) and, then, confirmed through multiple casting-events that reveal Jesus-the Stronger Man overtaking Satan-the strongman’s dominion/house (cf. 3:23–27). Jesus’ authority to cast out demons reveals in deed (i.e., in action) the reality of what has been initiated through his appearance as God’s Messiah-King (1:1): the rule and reign of God (his kingdom/house) has been inaugurated (cf. 1:14–15; 3:27). This sets the underlying framework for the narrative plot that explains and corresponds to the Mark 3 commission to have authority to cast out the demons (3:15; cf. 6:7, 13).
The commission in Mark 3, however, is not to cast, but to have authority to cast (v. 15). This is important, for applying “the casting” is not simply the replication or exhibition of exorcism, but is the dynamic association between Jesus’ authority as God’s premiere agent who has appeared to inaugurate his kingdom (1:9–10; 1:14–15) and his created fisher-followers who are to have the same task: as Jesus had authority to cast out demons, so, also, his fisher-followers were commissioned to have authority to cast out the demons (3:15).
Mark’s Gospel associates Jesus’ authority with his activity of “casting.” This is seen first at Jesus’ inaugural ministry-event in which it was observed that he had cast out an unclean spirit (1:25) with authority (exousian, v. 27c). The centrality of Jesus’ authority is also in contrast to the religious/political leadership, first at the inaugural ministry-event (He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes, 1:22b) and, then, later when Jesus was challenged by the temple leadership who asked, “By what authority [exousia] are You doing these things . . . ?” (11:28b). This “authority” for fisher-followers, first commissioned in 3:15 and, then, granted in 6:7, was confirmed later in the parable that Jesus used to explain the role of his faithful followers as they persevere through the eschatological conclusion of history: Jesus, like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house, gives his slaves authority, assigning to each one his task (13:34, author’s translation). So, as fisher-followers who are to be God’s agents for inaugurating his kingdom (the meaning of the Mark 1:17 fisher-promise), Jesus gave them authority to cast out demons (6:7; cf. Matt 10:1; Luke 9:1) in order that they, too, would demonstrate the undoing of Satan’s kingdom/house over the realms of humankind. This is, at least in part, the meaning behind Jesus creating his fisher-followers to be with him (3:14b), for the intimate relationship is also one of imitation—the mission of fisher-followers is the mission of Jesus.
 Refer back to Kuruvilla, Text to Praxis, 72–75.
 Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus, 154, also note p. 145.
 Ibid., 146; also Watts, referring to R. Leivestad, underscores that “each exorcism” was “an instance of binding and plundering” (Christ the Conqueror, 46ff.).
Significance Before Application (Mark 3:14–15): The Mark 3 Commission and Its Implications for Social Action, Part 4b
The narrative significance of “to preach”
As displayed in the previous section, not only is it grammatically and syntactically allowable to view the authority to cast (3:15) as the content of the commission to preach (14c), this reading also makes contextual sense of Mark’s narrative. The Mark 3 commission is both preceded and followed by episodes and summaries describing Jesus casting out demons or unclean spirits (1:23–27, 32–34, 39; 3:11; 5:2–13; 6:13; 7:25–30; 9:25–29, 38; note 3:22–27). Jesus’ first public ministry, launched at the onset of the Galilean mission, depicts him teaching in a synagogue and opposing an unclean spirit that he rebukes and casts out (Mark 1:21–28)—a pattern foreshadowing the Mark 3 commission. Those who witnessed the event recognized the casting out of the unclean spirit (1:26) as a new teaching (v. 27); namely, Jesus, with authority, commands Satan’s minions and they obey (v. 27). The question that follows the casting (What is this?, 1:27) implies one reference (touto, this, is singular), signifying a seamless thought between “teaching” and the “casting.” Also, the closest referent for their amazement (v. 27) is Jesus’ rebuke and his casting out the unclean spirit (vv. 25–27).
The parallel between Mark 1:22 and 1:27 suggests that Jesus’ authoritative teaching includes the authority he had to command the unclean spirit (vv. 23, 26). In both verses the onlookers were amazed at his teaching; both verses indicate that the teaching was with authority.
While the content of Jesus’ teaching is not indicated in the text (v. 22), the narrative implies that the teaching with authority (v. 27) includes (and possibly is) the authority to command (i.e., to rebuke and cast out) the unclean spirit (cf. vv. 22b, 27b)—the very activity Jesus commissions the created twelve to do (3:15; 6:7).
The absence of referenced content (i.e., what is taught) at the inaugural ministry-event focuses the attention of the readers/listeners on the activity of “casting” as the teaching with authority (v. 27b), particularly its programmatic link in the narrative to the arrival of the kingdom (1:15; note 4:11, 26, 30). First, this is suggested by the initial Jesus vs. Satan encounter in the desert (1:12–13). Second, the unclean spirit recognized the confrontation with Jesus as an eschatological battle, for the demon cites Jesus’ name (the Holy One of God, 1:24c), which indicates an attempt to have “mastery over” him. Third, the terminology used, “I know who you are” (v. 24; note 3:11), also suggests a battle context, for this was a common OT formula “within the context of combat or judgment.” The significance of the episode not only discloses Jesus’ authority, the exorcism also indicates an eschatological event had occurred, affirming the appearance of God’s rule as indicated in the mission summary (1:14–15) and, later, as portrayed by Jesus in the Beelzebul episode parables (3:23–27). The defeat of an unclean spirit is “the first of Jesus’ actions to be reported” and, thus, it becomes programmatic for the whole of Mark’s Gospel.
The first ministry-event presents what the Mark 1:14–15 mission summary affirms, namely Jesus’ public ministry focuses on the eschatological implications of the appearance of the kingdom. Perhaps this is the reason for the narrative juxtaposition of the Jesus vs. Satan encounter in 1:13 with the mission summary in 1:14–15. Later, immediately after the Mark 3 commission, Jesus refers to his activity as the Stronger Man who had arrived to overtake and destroy Satan-the strongman’s kingdom (3:23–27). This is confirmed, first in the initial confrontation in the desert between Jesus-the Stronger Man and Satan-the strongman (1:7, 13) and, then, affirmed by multiple casting-events throughout the narrative (1:21–28, 32; 5:1–20; 7:26–30; 9:14–29, 38–41; cf. 6:7, 13; 8:33; cf. 16:9). Mark 1:21–28 is the “mission” of Jesus, characterized by his confrontation with Satan’s kingdom through casting out a demon. It seems apparent that the inaugural ministry-event offers a programmatic framework for both the following confrontations with Jewish leaders (2:1—3:6)and, as well, the Mark 3 commission.
Mark presents a two-phase commission (3:13–15; 6:7–13). In Mark 3 the twelve are created to be with him and to be sent to preach and to have authority to cast out the demons. However, it is not until chapter 6 that Jesus actually gives the created twelve that authority for the casting component (And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits, 6:7c). In fact, the to preach component is not repeated, suggesting that the Mark 6 re-commission affirms that the authority to cast is the content of the “preaching.” This is further confirmed when Mark describes the ministry of the twice-commissioned twelve, then, with the authority to fulfill the casting component: they were casting out many demons (6:13a).
“Preaching” and “casting” in the general gospel tradition
The other synoptic Gospels present similar commissioning paradigms and activities that suggest the content of “proclamation” in the general gospel tradition included the authority to confront the kingdom of Satan through the casting out of demons. Although the other synoptic writers did not use “create” (poieo[set macron over o]) to describe the formation of the twelve, there is agreement regarding the relationship between “the preaching” and “the authority to cast.” Matthew’s account focuses on the authority that Jesus gave to the twelve for casting and healing:
Luke, as well, offered a similar commission scene: And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases (Luke 9:1). Jesus is depicted granting the twelve the power and authority to overrule demons and disease, which corresponds with the Mark 3 commission and, as well, the chapter 6 re-commission.
Earlier in Luke, Jesus’ own commission for ministry links proclamation of the Good News to actions (beyond mere verbal- and cognitive-based activities) that are the content of his preaching: release for captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom for the oppressed (4:18–19). Later, after the seventy returned from their multi-city mission (10:1), Luke notes they rejoiced that “even the demons are subject to us in Your [Jesus’] name” (10:17). Jesus then declares, “I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven” (v. 18). The “proclamation” of the kingdom directly affects Satan’s position of authority. The advance of the kingdom of God constantly causes Satan to fall from heaven, as seen repeatedly through the multiple casting-events throughout the Gospel narratives.
The narrative significance of the to preach component of the Mark 3 commission is directly linked to Jesus’ activity of “casting out demons,” indicating that to have authority to cast should be understood as the content of “the preaching” (that is, what is preached). At this point in the study, the interpretive summary (II) below gives this understanding of the Mark 3 commission:
 Mark uses a wide range of awe-related words to describe the various reactions to Jesus’ ministry (1:22, 27; also note 6:2; 7:37; 10:24, 32; 10:26; 11:18).
 Edwards, Gospel According to Mark, 57; Marcus, Mark 1–8, 193.
 Lane (Mark, 73) observes the use in the LXX: Judg 11:12; 2 Sam 16:10; 19:22; 1 Kgs 17:18; 2 Kgs 3:13; 2 Chr 35:21; Isa 3:15; 22:1; Jer 2:18; Hos 14:9; also Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus, 154.
 Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus, 155; note Kee, Miracle in the Early Christian World, 161; also Iwe, Jesus in the Synagogue of Capernaum, 323.
 Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus, 146.
 See chapter 4, “A Prelude to Judgment,” for a fuller discussion on the conflict-thread between Jesus and Jewish leaders.
 The addition of healing (6:13c) for the activities of the re-commissioned twelve (6:13b) mirrors the ministry of Jesus (i.e., that they would be with him, 3:14b), as does the casting; also, healing and demonic activity were clearly associated together in the NT world.
 I want to thank my New England School of Theology colleague, Dr. Ray Pennoyer, for this observation.
Significance Before Application (Mark 3:14–15): The Mark 3 Commission and Its Implications for Social Action, Part 4
Rereading the Mark 3 commission text
Three main verbs related to Jesus govern the establishment of the twelve whom he commissioned: he went up(avabainei, v. 13a), he summoned (proskaleitai, v. 13b), and he created (epoiesen, v 14a). The force and combination of all three verbal expressions stress Jesus’ authority, which aligns with Mark’s narrative plotline.Additionally, these actions focus on his unique authority for establishing God’s kingdom through a ministry outside of Jewish temple leadership (i.e., a new Moses and a new exodus) and for the creation of a people (a new twelve, 3:13–19; a new family, 3:33–35), who are to reflect the kingdom-outcomes associated with his appearance. These elements have been the emphasis of the plot (i.e., the “sequence of events emplotted in the text”) so far, indicating that Mark continues to follow his established programmatic content that defines the nature of the gospel. The Mark 3 commission (vv.14–15) for the created twelve not only forms (and informs) their fisher-ministry (i.e., the application that will reflect their faithful obedience to the gospel), it also provides a paradigm for all fisher-followers; namely, those who believe in the gospel (1:14–15) and follow after Jesus (1:17) are those who demonstrate (through actions and outcomes) the inauguration of God’s kingdom.
A typical reading of Mark 3:14–15 understands that the twelve are commissioned for two distinct tasks: “to preach” and “to cast out demons.” This heightens the tendency to view the “to preach” component as solely the verbal proclamation of the Good News that Jesus died for our sins. Although a very important component of the Good News, this aspect of the gospel is appropriated from other NT documents and texts and, then, “applied” here. As a result, for many “preaching” is “evangelism” that is applied as various verbal- and cognitive-based activities (e.g., preaching, teaching, witnessing, etc.) about the personal, redemptive implications of Jesus’ death on the cross with someone’s conversion as the hopeful outcome. When the text is viewed in this way, application is separated into two distinct components that disconnect the Mark 3 commission from the narrative plot. A reading that separates the two components without syntactical or narrative consideration can limit the inferred evangelistic significance for those standing on this side of Mark’s Gospel story, which, then, can result in narrow, misdirected, and, even, non-authoritative application. However, the Mark 3 commission suggests, not two distinct tasks, but interrelated aspects that are associated with the sequence of events emplotted in Mark’s narrative. A re-examination of the commission text (specifically vv. 14–15) will show another potential reading that better aligns with Mark’s narrative, the programmatic nature of the gospel, and Jesus’ kingdom-inaugurating ministry.
A syntactical analysis of Mark 3:14–15 can aid in reading the text more effectively:
he [Jesus] created twelve (epoiesen dodeka),
so that (hina)
they would be with him
and (kai, conjunction)
so that (hina)
he would send them forth
to preach (kepyssein)
namely (that is) (kai, epexegetical)
to have authority to cast out (echein exousian ekballein)
This display of syntactical relationships helps to visualize how Mark crafted the commission together, offering a potentially different, yet legitimate, reading of the commission. My translation below reflects the syntactical relationship between the two components to preach and to have authority to cast
And he [Jesus] created twelve, so that they would be with him and so that he would send them forth to preach, namely (that is) to have authority to cast out the demons [author’s translation].
In contrast to the typically understood cognitive-based definition for evangelism, this reading of the commission, which the text allows, suggests a different direction regarding its significance for fisher-followers on this side of the text. As a result, it opens a wider range for potentially relevant and appropriate evangelistic activities and outcomes that should be adopted by the church.
After “summoning” those whom He Himself wanted (v. 13b), Jesus created twelve (v. 14a) so that they (i.e., the created twelve) would be with Him (v. 14b) and so that he would send them forth with a commission (v. 14c–15). The two hina (so that) clauses indicate two resulting purposes that align with Mark’s narrative. The first hina clause (so that they would be with him, v. 14b) suggests an intentional relationship between Jesus and the created twelve. Certainly being “with Him” has many implications and means more than just “tagging along with Jesus.” While “being with Jesus” is set in motion at the initial calls in Mark’s first chapter (see vv. 16–20), the results are given content (definition) throughout the narrative before Jesus actually grants the twelve the authority to cast in 6:7. At the narrative level being “with Him” (3:14b) means that the created fisher-followers are insiders who do “the will of God” (3:35), who receive direct teaching and insight concerning the kingdom (4:10–11), and who witness his divine power (4:35–41) and the inaugural increase of God’s kingdom (5:1—6:6). Additionally, the twelve fisher-followers, who were created to be with Him (3:14b), experienced the spread of the seed/word/gospel, not solely through verbal- and cognitive-based activities (e.g., Jesus’ preaching, teaching, parables), but primarily through Jesus’ deeds (e.g., casting, healing, and other miracles).
The created twelve are also “sent forth” to preach (v. 14c) and to have authority to cast (v. 15). It should be noted there is no object (i.e., the content) for the “preaching” component (v. 14c). This provokes many to supply “the gospel” for what is preached. It is fair, perhaps, to suggest supplying the unwritten “Good News,” but it is unnecessary. An assumption is made of the text, namely that the “and” (kai) between the two infinitive clauses functions as a simple conjunction, inferring, then, two distinct tasks: preaching and casting. This, too, is not necessary. Also, note that the commission component after the “and” (kai) is actually, not “to cast out the demons,” but to have authority to cast out the demons (v. 15).
The syntactical analysis displayed above indicates that the conjunction “and” (kai) should be understood epexegetically, that is, offering a fuller explanation and the content of to preach. I have, therefore, rendered the “and” (kai) as “namely (that is)”: so that he would send them [the created twelve] forth to preach, namely (that is) to have authority to cast out the demons. In other words, the content of the “preaching” is the authority to cast out the demons.
 See chapter 4, “A Prelude to Judgment,” for a discussion regarding the centrality of Jesus’ authority in the Mark 1:21—3:6 conflict thread, which is an integral part of Mark’s plotline.
 A syntactical analysis helps to show how the parts of grammar relate to each other, indicating the relationships of subjects, main verbs, direct and indirect objects, and subordinate and explanatory clauses. The syntactical analysis here informs and reflects the author’s translation of the text. See Kaiser, Toward an Exegetical Theology (pp. 87–104) for an explanation of the syntactical analysis as a component of exegesis.
 The following references to Mark 3:14–15 reflect my translation.
 Hina (so that) may express purpose, result, or content depending on the context. In a few cases it may even express other (related) relationships such as an imperative or a generic-specific relationship. I have chosen “resulting purpose” intentionally to indicate a fine line between the two. Jesus creates twelve for a purpose that results in “being with him” and “being sent forth.” See Arndt and Gingrich, Greek-English Lexicon, 376–78.
 See Mark 1:21—6:6.
Significance Before Application (Mark 3:14–15): The Mark 3 Commission and Its Implications for Social Action, Part 3
First, Reread the Mark 3 Commission and Its Components--to Preach and to Cast
In order to obey the Mark 3 commission and, thus, show faithfulness to the gospel of God (1:14), we need to think more deeply about the significance of the Mark 3 commission and its application; then, we should seek activities and measurable outcomes that indicate obedience and faithfulness to the gospel. To do this it is necessary to reread the Mark 3 commission more effectively. This will be accomplished by seeking to understand the narrative relationship between the two commissioning components--to preach (v. 14c) and to have authority to cast out the demons (v. 15)—within the “sequence of events emplotted” in Mark’s Gospel.
The Mark 3 commission and the fisher-promise—the inaugural connection
In chapter 3, “You Will Appear as Fishers,” I demonstrated that the Mark 1:17 fisher-promise finds its inaugural fulfillment in the Mark 3 creation and commission of the twelve (vv. 13–15). Some of those observations and connections bear repeating as we begin to reread the Mark 3 commission. The link between the fisher-promise and the commission can be seen in how Mark introduces the promise (1:17) and, then, how he presents the creation of the twelve (3:13–15):
An obvious promise-fulfillment (I will create/He creates) is crafted into Mark’s narrative regarding the call and creation of the fishers. In Mark 1, the eschatological characters (i.e., Jesus, John the Baptist, the Spirit, and fisher-followers) that play a role in inaugurating the gospel of Jesus Christ are introduced (vv. 4–17). After the mission summary (1:14–15), there is an invitation to become followers (1:17) that includes a promise: “I will make [poieso] you to become fishers of men.” This promise, then, is fulfilled when Jesus creates (epoiesen) the twelve in the Mark 3 commission episode (3:14a).
There is a narrative relationship between the call and promise in 1:17 and the summons and commission in 3:13–15, specifically discernible by the repeated use of poieo (create/make), which is often translated appointed, ordained, chose that can mask the reference back to the fisher-promise. The other synoptic Gospel writers did not use poieo (make/create) to characterize the establishment of the twelve, making it more likely that Mark wanted his readers/listeners to make the narrative connection between the fisher-promise (1:17) and its inaugural fulfillment in the commissioning of the twelve (3:14–15). The fisher metaphor and the role of the created twelve indicate that fisher-followers are to be inaugurators of the kingdom (1:17; 3:13–15; 6:7–13)—that is, presenting its demands (1:14–15), expanding (sowing/harvesting) the gospel (4:1–5:43), and imitating Jesus’ ministry (Mark 1:21—6:13). It follows, then, that the content of the commission (vv. 14c–15) is the nature and activity of the created fisher-followers: those who are with Him (v. 14b) are also sent forth to preach and to have authority to cast out the demons (v. 15).
At this point, and in light of the Mark 1:17 fisher-promise discussed in chapter 3 (“You Will Appear as Fishers”), the following interpretive summary (I) gives a sense of the meaning of the Mark 3 commission:
 The author’s translation of Mark 1:17 and Mark 3:13–15.
 See chapter 3, “You Will Appear as Fishers,” for an elaboration of these characters (from Mark’s introduction) as inaugurators of the kingdom.
 After each section I present an interpretative summary of the Mark 3 commission in order to show the development of the text’s significance to the reader/listener; as the study expands, the interpretative summary develops.
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.