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.
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.
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.