The Meaning of Mark 8:15 Explained

Mark 8:15

KJV: And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.

YLT: and he was charging them, saying, 'Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod,'

Darby: And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the leaven of Herod.

ASV: And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.

What does Mark 8:15 Mean?

Study Notes

leaven See note 4, (See Scofield " Matthew 13:33 ")
Herod See margin ref.,
Herod
Called Antipas; son of Herod the Great, (See Scofield " Matthew 2:1 ") and Malthace, a Samaritan woman; brother of Archelaus, see margin, See Scofield " Matthew 2:22 " a daughter of King Aretas; Herodias, wife of his half-brother, Philip.

Verse Meaning

Jesus evidently used the leaven in the loaf of bread as an object lesson to illustrate the pervasive corrupting teaching of the Pharisees and of Herod. Leaven was a common metaphor for corruption in both Jewish and Hellenistic circles. [1] The teaching of the Pharisees was that Jesus received His authority from Satan rather than from God ( Mark 3:22; cf. Mark 7:8-13). It was a denial of His role as God"s anointed Servant, Messiah. The teaching of Herod Antipas, what he believed and articulated, was likewise that Jesus was not the Messiah. Herod told others that Jesus was just John the Baptist come back to life ( Mark 6:14-16). The Pharisees and Herod, though so different from each other in many respects, promoted the same heretical view that Jesus was not the Messiah, much less divine. In short, this leaven was unbelief. Another view is that the yeast of the Pharisees was their hypocritical, self-righteous traditionalism and the yeast of Herod was his spirit of imperial pride. [2]

Context Summary

Mark 8:1-21 - The Demand For Signs Rebuked
Notice the Master's tender considerateness, Mark 8:1-9. He would not have the people faint on their way home. There are distinct differences between this miracle and the feeding of the five thousand. Most of these are evident to the English reader, but that between the baskets used for the fragments is clear only from the original-those used in the case of the five thousand being quite different from the large ones used here, Mark 8:20; Matthew 15:37. Our Lord never repeats His work.
The Savior sighed in the previous chapter over physical need; here He sighs over moral obtuseness, Mark 8:10-21. The language is very strong, and gives a glimpse into the Redeemer's heart. Had the Pharisees been as willing to discern the signs of the age as to read the weather, they must have been able to recognize Him and His claims; but their foolish heart was darkened. Having sighed over the hard-heartedness of the Pharisees, might He not equally have done so over the obtuseness of the Twelve? They thought that He was referring to their carelessness in omitting to take bread. How little they realized that the cause lay far deeper! Let us be quick to read the divine intention in very simple incidents, and to learn that all God's past dealings contain lessons for the present! [source]

Chapter Summary: Mark 8

1  Jesus feeds the people miraculously;
10  refuses to give a sign to the Pharisees;
14  admonishes his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod;
22  gives a blind man his sight;
27  acknowledges that he is the Jesus who should suffer and rise again;
34  and exhorts to patience in persecution for the profession of the gospel

Greek Commentary for Mark 8:15

Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod [ορατε βλεπετε απο της ζυμης των Παρισαιων και της ζυμης ηρωιδου]
Present imperatives. Note υμη — apo and the ablative case. ζυμοω — Zumē is from διεστελλετο — zumoō and occurs already in Matthew 13:33 in a good sense. For the bad sense See note on 1 Corinthians 5:6. He repeatedly charged Jesus definitely warns the disciples against “the leaven of Herod” (bad politics) and the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (bad theology and also bad politics). [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Mark 8:15

Matthew 24:6 See that ye be not troubled [ορατε μη τροειστε]
Asyndeton here with these two imperatives as Mark 8:15 ορατε βλεπετε — orate blepete (Robertson, Grammar, p. 949). Look out for the wars and rumours of wars, but do not be scared out of your wits by them. Τροεω — Throeō means to cry aloud, to scream, and in the passive to be terrified by an outcry. Paul uses this very verb (μηδε τροεισται — mēde throeisthai) in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 as a warning against excitement over false reports that he had predicted the immediate second coming of Christ. [source]
Mark 12:38 Beware of the scribes [βλεπετε απο των γραμματεων]
Jesus now turns to the multitudes and to his disciples (Matthew 23:1) and warns them against the scribes and the Pharisees while they are still there to hear his denunciation. The scribes were the professional teachers of the current Judaism and were nearly all Pharisees. Mark (Mark 14:38-40) gives a mere summary sketch of this bold and terrific indictment as preserved in Matthew 23 in words that fairly blister today. Luke 20:45-47 follows Mark closely. See note on Mark 8:15 for this same use of βλεπετε απο — blepete apo with the ablative. It is usually called a translation-Hebraism, a usage not found with βλεπω — blepō in the older Greek. But the papyri give it, a vivid vernacular idiom. “Beware of the Jews” See Robertson, Grammar, p. 577. The pride of the pompous scribes is itemized by Mark: [source]
Mark 3:6 And straightway with the Herodians took council [ευτυς μετα των ηρωιδιανων]
The Pharisees could stand no more. So out they stalked at once in a rage of madness (Luke 6:11) and outside of the synagogue took counsel (συμβουλιον εποιησαν — sumboulion epoiēsan) or gave counsel (συμβουλιον εδιδουν — sumboulion edidoun as some MSS. have it, imperfect tense, offered counsel as their solution of the problem) with their bitter enemies, the Herodians, on the sabbath day still “how they might destroy him” (οπως αυτον απολεσωσιν — hopōs auton apolesōsin), a striking illustration of the alternatives of Jesus a few moments before, “to save life or to kill.” This is the first mention of the Herodians or adherents of Herod Antipas and the Herod family rather than the Romans. The Pharisees would welcome the help of their rivals to destroy Jesus. In the presence of Jesus they unite their forces as in Mark 8:15; Mark 12:13; Matthew 22:16. [source]
Luke 12:1 Many thousands [μυριαδων]
Genitive absolute with επισυναχτεισων — episunachtheisōn (first aorist passive participle feminine plural because of μυριαδων — muriadōn), a double compound late verb, επισυναγω — episunagō to gather together unto. The word “myriads” is probably hyperbolical as in Acts 21:20, but in the sense of ten thousand, as in Acts 19:19, it means a very large crowd apparently drawn together by the violent attacks of the rabbis against Jesus.Insomuch that they trode one upon another (ωστε καταπατειν αλληλους — hōste katapatein allēlous). The imagination must complete the picture of this jam.Unto his disciples first of all This long discourse in Luke 12 is really a series of separate talks to various groups in the vast crowds around Jesus. This particular talk goes through Luke 12:12.Beware of (προσεχετε εαυτοις απο — prosechete heautois apo). Put your mind (νουν — noun understood) for yourselves (dative) and avoid (απο — apo with the ablative).The leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy In Mark 8:15 Jesus had coupled the lesson of the Pharisees with that of Herod, in Matthew 16:6 with that of the Sadducees also. He had long ago called the Pharisees hypocrites (Matthew 6:2, Matthew 6:5, Matthew 6:16). The occasion was ripe here for this crisp saying. In Matthew 13:33 leaven does not have an evil sense as here. See note on Matthew 23:13 for hypocrites. Hypocrisy was the leading Pharisaic vice (Bruce) and was a mark of sanctity to hide an evil heart. [source]
Luke 12:1 Unto his disciples first of all [προς τους ματητας αυτου πρωτον]
This long discourse in Luke 12 is really a series of separate talks to various groups in the vast crowds around Jesus. This particular talk goes through Luke 12:12.Beware of (προσεχετε εαυτοις απο — prosechete heautois apo). Put your mind (νουν — noun understood) for yourselves (dative) and avoid (απο — apo with the ablative).The leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy In Mark 8:15 Jesus had coupled the lesson of the Pharisees with that of Herod, in Matthew 16:6 with that of the Sadducees also. He had long ago called the Pharisees hypocrites (Matthew 6:2, Matthew 6:5, Matthew 6:16). The occasion was ripe here for this crisp saying. In Matthew 13:33 leaven does not have an evil sense as here. See note on Matthew 23:13 for hypocrites. Hypocrisy was the leading Pharisaic vice (Bruce) and was a mark of sanctity to hide an evil heart. [source]
Luke 12:1 The leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy [της ζυμης ητις εστιν υποχρισις των Παρισαιων]
In Mark 8:15 Jesus had coupled the lesson of the Pharisees with that of Herod, in Matthew 16:6 with that of the Sadducees also. He had long ago called the Pharisees hypocrites (Matthew 6:2, Matthew 6:5, Matthew 6:16). The occasion was ripe here for this crisp saying. In Matthew 13:33 leaven does not have an evil sense as here. See note on Matthew 23:13 for hypocrites. Hypocrisy was the leading Pharisaic vice (Bruce) and was a mark of sanctity to hide an evil heart. [source]
Galatians 5:9 A little leaven [μικρὰ ζύμη]
A proverbial warning, which appears also 1 Corinthians 5:6. It refers, not to the doctrine of the false teachers, but to the false teachers themselves. Comp. Mark 8:15. With the single exception of the parable, Matthew 13:33, leaven, in Scripture, is always a symbol of evil. Comp. Exodus 12:15, Exodus 12:19; Exodus 13:3, Exodus 13:7; Exodus 23:18; Leviticus 2:11; Deuteronomy 16:3. This, however, is no warrant for the nonsense which has been deduced from it, as that Jesus' parable of the leaven contains a prophecy of the corruption of Christianity. Because leaven in Scripture is habitually the type of corruption, we are “none the less free to use it in a good sense as Christ did. One figure need not always stand for one and the same thing. The devil is 'a roaring lion,' but Christ is also 'the lion of the tribe of Judah'” (Trench). It is an apt figure of secret, pervading energy, whether bad or good. A new interest is given to the figure by Pasteur's discovery that fermentation is a necessary consequence of the activity and growth of living organisms. A very few of these Judaising intruders are sufficient to corrupt the whole church. [source]
Philippians 3:2 Beware [βλέπετε]
Lit., look to. Compare Mark 4:24; Mark 8:15; Luke 21:8. [source]
Hebrews 3:12  []
d Note how the following exhortation is colored by the O.T. citation: evil heart; the to-day; be hardened; take heed ( βλέπετε ). See to it. Often in warnings or admonitions: sometimes with ἀπὸ fromwith genitive of that against which the warning is given, as Mark 8:15; Mark 12:38; but so only in the Gospels. In construction connect with διὸ Hebrews 3:7; therefore beware. [source]

What do the individual words in Mark 8:15 mean?

And He was instructing them saying Watch out take heed of the leaven of the Pharisees of the of Herod
καὶ διεστέλλετο αὐτοῖς λέγων Ὁρᾶτε βλέπετε ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν Φαρισαίων τῆς Ἡρῴδου

διεστέλλετο  He  was  instructing 
Parse: Verb, Imperfect Indicative Middle, 3rd Person Singular
Root: διαστέλλω  
Sense: to draw asunder, divide, distinguish, dispose, order.
λέγων  saying 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: λέγω 
Sense: to say, to speak.
Ὁρᾶτε  Watch  out 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: εἶδον 
Sense: to see with the eyes.
βλέπετε  take  heed 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: βλέπω  
Sense: to see, discern, of the bodily eye.
ζύμης  leaven 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: ζύμη  
Sense: leaven.
τῶν  of  the 
Parse: Article, Genitive Masculine Plural
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Φαρισαίων  Pharisees 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Plural
Root: Φαρισαῖος  
Sense: A sect that seems to have started after the Jewish exile.
τῆς  of  the 
Parse: Article, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Ἡρῴδου  of  Herod 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: Ἡρῴδης  
Sense: the name of a royal family that flourished among the Jews in the times of Christ and the Apostles.