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.
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.