The Meaning of Mark 15:11 Explained

Mark 15:11

KJV: But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.

YLT: and the chief priests did move the multitude, that he might rather release Barabbas to them.

Darby: But the chief priests stirred up the crowd that he might rather release Barabbas to them.

ASV: But the chief priests stirred up the multitude, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.

What does Mark 15:11 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Many of the people in the crowd were residents of Jerusalem and many were pilgrims from far away. The chief priests were able to persuade them to ask for Barabbas" release. The people may have accepted the advice of their leaders because Barabbas had already tried to lead a rebellion, but Jesus had only hinted at an overthrow. Moreover it would have been very unusual for the crowd to side with Pilate and oppose their leaders.
"In Judea it was customary to confront the Roman authorities with as large and boisterous a delegation as could be mustered (cf. Acts 24:1; Josephus, Antiquities XVIII. viii4)." [1]

Context Summary

Mark 15:1-21 - The Choice Of The Multitude
The hurried consultation of the evening was followed by the more formal meeting of the early morning; and even the decision made then had no binding force till ratified by Pilate, the Roman governor, who happened at that time to be in Jerusalem. John gives a more detailed account of this memorable interview, John 18:33-38. Our Lord did not plead His own cause but committed Himself to the One who judges righteously, 1 Peter 2:23. It was only when Pilate asked questions for his own guidance that Jesus sought to help him and then He relapsed into silence. "Like a sheep dumb before her shearers, so He opened not His mouth." Men like Barabbas, embodiments of brute force, are ever the darlings of the crowd. By narrowing the people's choice to the murderer and Jesus, Pilate expected to bring them to demand the release of the lover and helper of men. But he failed to gauge the malice of which men are capable. Perhaps he hoped that the marks of extreme suffering would soften their hatred. As well appeal to a pack of hungry wolves! His purple stood for royalty won by blood; thorns, because His diadem was won by suffering; the reed, because he can wield the frailest life to momentous issues. Happy is the man who shares Christ's cross! Simon was an African, probably colored, and this incident changed his life, Romans 16:13. [source]

Chapter Summary: Mark 15

1  Jesus brought bound, and accused before Pilate
6  Upon the clamor of the people, the murderer Barabbas is released,
12  and Jesus delivered up to be crucified
16  He is crowned with thorns, spit on, and mocked;
21  faints in bearing his cross;
27  hangs between two thieves;
29  suffers the triumphing reproaches of the crowd;
39  but is confessed by the centurion to be the Son of God;
42  and is honorably buried by Joseph

Greek Commentary for Mark 15:11

Stirred up [ανεσεισαν]
Shook up like an earthquake Matthew 27:20 has a weaker word, “persuaded” Effective aorist indicative. The priests and scribes had amazing success. If one wonders why the crowd was fickle, he may recall that this was not yet the same people who followed him in triumphal entry and in the temple. That was the plan of Judas to get the thing over before those Galilean sympathizers waked up. “It was a case of regulars against an irregular, of priests against prophet” (Gould). “But Barabbas, as described by Mark, represented a popular passion, which was stronger than any sympathy they might have for so unworldly a character as Jesus - the passion for political liberty ” (Bruce). “What unprincipled characters they were! They accuse Jesus to Pilate of political ambition, and they recommend Barabbas to the people for the same reason” (Bruce). The Sanhedrin would say to the people that Jesus had already abdicated his kingly claims while to Pilate they went on accusing him of treason to Caesar. [source]
Rather [māllon)]
Rather than Jesus. It was a gambler‘s choice. [source]
Moved [ἀνέσεισαν]
A feeble translation. Σείω is to shake. Hence σεισμός , an earthquake. See on Mark 13:7. Better as Rev., stirred up. Wyc., The bishops stirred the company of the people. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Mark 15:11

Luke 3:14 Do violence [διασείσητε]
Only here in New Testament. Lit., to shake violently; hence to agitate or terrify; and so to extort money from one by terrifying him. The corresponding Latin word concutere is used by later writers in the same sense. Xenophon says of Socrates' “I know of his once having heard from Crito that life at Athens was a hard thing for a man who desired to mind his own business. 'For,' said he, 'they bring actions against me, not because they are wronged by me, but because they think I would rather pay money than have any trouble'” (“Memorabilia,” ii., 9,1). For this process of blackmail, σείω , to shake, was used. Thus Aristophanes (“Knights,” 840):“Thou shalt make much money by falsely accusing and frightening ” ( σείων τε καῖ ταράττων )again (“Peace,” 639):“And of their allies they falsely accused ( ἔσειον ) the substantial and rich.”The word in this passage of Luke has the later, secondary meaning, to extort; and therefore the American Revisers rightly insist on, extort from no man by violence. It is used by medical writers, as, for instance, by Hippocrates, of shaking the palsied or benumbed limbs of a patient; or of a shaking by which the liver was relieved of an obstruction. Luke also uses two other compounds of the verb σείω : κατασείω ,to beckon, Acts 12:17 (peculiar to Luke); and ἀνασέιω , to stir up, which occurs also in Mark 15:11. Both these are also used by medical writers. [source]
Luke 23:5 Stirreth up [ἀνασείει]
See on Mark 15:11. The increased urgency is shown by the use of a stronger word than perverteth (Luke 23:2). [source]
John 18:40 Cried out [εκραυγασαν]
First aorist active of κραυγαζω — kraugazō old and rare verb from κραυγη — kraugē outcry (Matthew 25:6), as in Matthew 12:19. Not this man Contemptuous use of ουτος — houtos The priests put the crowd up to this choice (Mark 15:11) and Pilate offered the alternative (Matthew 27:17, one MS. actually gives Jesus as the name of Barabbas also). The name αραββας — Barabbas in Aramaic simply means son of a father. A robber Old word from ληιζομαι — lēizomai to plunder, and so a brigand and possibly the leader of the band to which the two robbers belonged who were crucified with Jesus. Luke terms him an insurgent and murderer (Luke 23:19, Luke 23:25). They chose Barabbas in preference to Jesus and apparently Jesus died on the very cross planned for Barabbas. [source]

What do the individual words in Mark 15:11 mean?

- But the chief priests stirred up the crowd so that instead - Barabbas he might release to them
Οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς ἀνέσεισαν τὸν ὄχλον ἵνα μᾶλλον τὸν Βαραββᾶν ἀπολύσῃ αὐτοῖς

Οἱ  - 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Plural
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἀρχιερεῖς  the  chief  priests 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: ἀρχιερεύς  
Sense: chief priest, high priest.
ἀνέσεισαν  stirred  up 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: ἀνασείω  
Sense: to shake up.
ὄχλον  crowd 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: ὄχλος  
Sense: a crowd.
ἵνα  so  that 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ἵνα  
Sense: that, in order that, so that.
μᾶλλον  instead 
Parse: Adverb
Root: μᾶλλον  
Sense: more, to a greater degree, rather.
τὸν  - 
Parse: Article, Accusative Masculine Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Βαραββᾶν  Barabbas 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: Βαραββᾶς  
Sense: the captive robber whom the Jews begged Pilate to release instead of Christ.
ἀπολύσῃ  he  might  release 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Subjunctive Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἀπολύω  
Sense: to set free.
αὐτοῖς  to  them 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative Masculine 3rd Person Plural
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.

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