The Meaning of Mark 9:32 Explained

Mark 9:32

KJV: But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.

YLT: but they were not understanding the saying, and they were afraid to question him.

Darby: But they understood not the saying, and feared to ask him.

ASV: But they understood not the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

What does Mark 9:32 Mean?

Verse Meaning

The disciples did not understand because God withheld understanding from them ( Luke 9:45). Initially God may appear to have been working at cross purposes with Himself revealing through Jesus and concealing by hardening the disciples" hearts. The solution seems to be that God was working with the disciples as He had worked with the multitudes through Jesus" parables. If Song of Solomon , the disciples" ignorance was a result of divine blindness that their unbelief produced. Their willingness to remain in ignorance and not ask Jesus to clarify His statement is the evidence of their unbelief. Mark implied that all they gained from this revelation was a sense of sorrow ( Matthew 17:23). Similarly we manifest a form of unbelief when we fail to seek clarification of biblical revelation that we find confusing.

Context Summary

Mark 9:30-50 - The Path To Greatness
Such were the hopes awakened by the Transfiguration and the following miracles that the disciples were led to speculate upon their relative position in the Kingdom. Jesus therefore took a little child for His text, and preached to them a sermon on humility. How constantly the Master speaks of the little ones! He says that we must be converted to become like them; that to cause them to stumble will involve terrible penalties; that they are not to be despised; that each has an angel of the Father's presence-chamber appointed to his charge; that to seek and to save one He is prepared as the shepherd to traverse the mountains; that it is not the Father's will that one of them should perish. How infinitely tender and humble was His love for them!
Let us strive to cut off whatever causes us to stumble. It may be a friendship, a pastime, a pursuit, a course of reading; but there must be no quarter given, no excuse accepted. As soon as the soul dares to make this supreme renunciation, there is an accession of life. Whenever the body loses the use of one member, such as the eye, there is an accession of vigor in others; so, to deny the lower is to open the door to the higher, and, though maimed, to enter into life. Mark 9:44-48 evidently refer to the valley of Hinnom, where fires were kept burning to consume waste. [source]

Chapter Summary: Mark 9

1  Jesus is transfigured
11  He instructs his disciples concerning the coming of Elijah;
14  casts forth a deaf and mute spirit;
30  foretells his death and resurrection;
33  exhorts his disciples to humility;
38  bidding them not to prohibit such as are not against them,
42  nor to give offense to any of the faithful

Greek Commentary for Mark 9:32

But they understood not the saying [hoi de ēgnooun to rhēma)]
An old word. Chiefly in Paul‘s Epistles in the N.T. Imperfect tense. They continued not to understand. They were agnostics on the subject of the death and resurrection even after the Transfiguration experience. As they came down from the mountain they were puzzled again over the Master‘s allusion to his resurrection (Mark 9:10). Matthew 17:23 notes that “they were exceeding sorry” to hear Jesus talk this way again, but Mark adds that they “were afraid to ask him” Continued to be afraid (imperfect tense), perhaps with a bitter memory of the term “Satan” hurled at Peter when he protested the other time when Jesus spoke of his death (Mark 8:33; Matthew 16:23). Luke 9:45 explains that “it was concealed from them,” probably partly by their own preconceived ideas and prejudices. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Mark 9:32

Luke 9:45 That they should not perceive it [ινα μη αιστωνται αυτο]
Second aorist middle subjunctive of the common verb αιστανομαι — aisthanomai used with ινα μη — hina mē negative purpose. This explanation at least relieves the disciples to some extent of full responsibility for their ignorance about the death of Jesus as Mark 9:32 observes, as does Luke here that they were afraid to ask him. Plummer says, “They were not allowed to understand the saying then, in order that they might remember it afterwards, and see that Jesus had met His sufferings with full knowledge and free will.” Perhaps also, if they had fully understood, they might have lacked courage to hold on to the end. But it is a hard problem. [source]
John 1:29 On the morrow [τηι επαυριον]
Locative case with ημηραι — hēmērāi (day) understood after the adverb επαυριον — epaurion “Second day of this spiritual diary” (Bernard) from John 1:19. Seeth Jesus coming Dramatic historical present indicative Graphic picture. Behold the Lamb of God Exclamation ιδε — ide like ιδου — idou not verb, and so nominative αμνος — amnos Common idiom in John (John 1:36; John 3:26, etc.). For “the Lamb of God” see 1 Corinthians 5:7 (cf. John 19:36) and 1 Peter 1:19. The passage in Isaiah 53:6. is directly applied to Christ by Philip in Acts 8:32. See also Matthew 8:17; 1 Peter 2:22.; Hebrews 9:28. But the Jews did not look for a suffering Messiah (John 12:34) nor did the disciples at first (Mark 9:32; Luke 24:21). But was it not possible for John, the Forerunner of the Messiah, to have a prophetic insight concerning the Messiah as the Paschal Lamb, already in Isaiah 53:1-12, even if the rabbis did not see it there? Symeon had it dimly (Luke 2:35), but John more clearly. So Westcott rightly. Bernard is unwilling to believe that John the Baptist had more insight on this point than current Judaism. Then why and how did he recognize Jesus as Messiah at all? Certainly the Baptist did not have to be as ignorant as the rabbis. Which taketh away the sin of the world Note singular αμαρτιαν — hamartian not plural αμαρτιας — hamartias (1 John 3:5) where same verb αιρω — airō to bear away, is used. The future work of the Lamb of God here described in present tense as in 1 John 1:7 about the blood of Christ. He is the Lamb of God for the world, not just for Jews. [source]
Hebrews 5:2 Who can bear gently [μετριοπατειν δυναμενος]
Present active infinitive of the late verb μετριοπατεω — metriopatheō It is a philosophical term used by Aristotle to oppose the απατεια — apatheia (lack of feeling) of the Stoics. Philo ranks it below απατεια — apatheia Josephus (Ant. XII. 32) uses it of the moderation of Vespasian and Titus towards the Jews. It occurs here only in the N.T. “If the priest is cordially to plead with God for the sinner, he must bridle his natural disgust at the loathsomeness of sensuality, his impatience at the frequently recurring fall, his hopeless alienation from the hypocrite and the superficial, his indignation at any confession he hears from the penitent” (Dods). With the ignorant Dative case of the articular present active participle of αγνοεω — agnoeō old verb not to know (Mark 9:32). And erring Present middle participle (dative case) of πλαναω — planaō The one article with both participles probably makes it a hendiadys, sins of ignorance (both accidence and sudden passion) as opposed to high-handed sins of presumption and deliberate purpose. People who sinned “willingly” Present passive indicative of the old verb περικειμαι — perikeimai here used transitively as in Acts 28:20 The priest himself has weakness lying around him like a chain. Not so Jesus. [source]
1 Peter 3:21 After a true likeness [αντιτυπον]
Water in baptism now as an anti-type of Noah‘s deliverance by water. For βαπτισμα — baptisma see note on Matthew 3:7. For αντιτυπον — antitupon see note on Hebrews 9:24 (only other N.T. example) where the word is used of the earthly tabernacle corresponding Simplex verb (σωζω — sōzō not the compound διασωζω — diasōzō). The saving by baptism which Peter here mentions is only symbolic (a metaphor or picture as in Romans 6:2-6), not actual as Peter hastens to explain.Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh Αποτεσις — Apothesis is old word from αποτιτημι — apotithēmi (1 Peter 2:1), in N.T. only here and 2 Peter 1:14. υπου — Rupou (genitive of ρυπος — rupos) is old word (cf. ρυπαρος — ruparos filthy, in James 2:2; Revelation 22:11), here only in N.T. (cf. Isaiah 3:3; Isaiah 4:4). Baptism, Peter explains, does not wash away the filth of the flesh either in a literal sense, as a bath for the body, or in a metaphorical sense of the filth of the soul. No ceremonies really affect the conscience (Hebrews 9:13.). Peter here expressly denies baptismal remission of sin.But the interrogation of a good conscience toward God (αλλα συνειδησεως αγατης επερωτημα εις τεον — alla suneidēseōs agathēs eperōtēma eis theon). Old word from επερωταω — eperōtaō (to question as in Mark 9:32; Matthew 16:1), here only in N.T. In ancient Greek it never means answer, but only inquiry. The inscriptions of the age of the Antonines use it of the Senate‘s approval after inquiry. That may be the sense here, that is, avowal of consecration to God after inquiry, having repented and turned to God and now making this public proclamation of that fact by means of baptism (the symbol of the previous inward change of heart). Thus taken, it matters little whether εις τεον — eis theon (toward God) be taken with επερωτημα — eperōtēma or συνειδησεως — suneidēseōs the resurrection of Jesus Christ (δι αναστασεως Ιησου Χριστου — di' anastaseōs Iēsou Christou). For baptism is a symbolic picture of the resurrection of Christ as well as of our own spiritual renewal (Romans 6:2-6). See 1 Peter 1:3 for regeneration made possible by the resurrection of Jesus. [source]
1 Peter 3:21 Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh [ου σαρκος αποτεσις ρυπου]
Αποτεσις — Apothesis is old word from αποτιτημι — apotithēmi (1 Peter 2:1), in N.T. only here and 2 Peter 1:14. υπου — Rupou (genitive of ρυπος — rupos) is old word (cf. ρυπαρος — ruparos filthy, in James 2:2; Revelation 22:11), here only in N.T. (cf. Isaiah 3:3; Isaiah 4:4). Baptism, Peter explains, does not wash away the filth of the flesh either in a literal sense, as a bath for the body, or in a metaphorical sense of the filth of the soul. No ceremonies really affect the conscience (Hebrews 9:13.). Peter here expressly denies baptismal remission of sin.But the interrogation of a good conscience toward God (αλλα συνειδησεως αγατης επερωτημα εις τεον — alla suneidēseōs agathēs eperōtēma eis theon). Old word from επερωταω — eperōtaō (to question as in Mark 9:32; Matthew 16:1), here only in N.T. In ancient Greek it never means answer, but only inquiry. The inscriptions of the age of the Antonines use it of the Senate‘s approval after inquiry. That may be the sense here, that is, avowal of consecration to God after inquiry, having repented and turned to God and now making this public proclamation of that fact by means of baptism (the symbol of the previous inward change of heart). Thus taken, it matters little whether εις τεον — eis theon (toward God) be taken with επερωτημα — eperōtēma or συνειδησεως — suneidēseōs the resurrection of Jesus Christ (δι αναστασεως Ιησου Χριστου — di' anastaseōs Iēsou Christou). For baptism is a symbolic picture of the resurrection of Christ as well as of our own spiritual renewal (Romans 6:2-6). See 1 Peter 1:3 for regeneration made possible by the resurrection of Jesus. [source]
1 Peter 3:21 But the interrogation of a good conscience toward God [αλλα συνειδησεως αγατης επερωτημα εις τεον]
Old word from επερωταω — eperōtaō (to question as in Mark 9:32; Matthew 16:1), here only in N.T. In ancient Greek it never means answer, but only inquiry. The inscriptions of the age of the Antonines use it of the Senate‘s approval after inquiry. That may be the sense here, that is, avowal of consecration to God after inquiry, having repented and turned to God and now making this public proclamation of that fact by means of baptism (the symbol of the previous inward change of heart). Thus taken, it matters little whether εις τεον — eis theon (toward God) be taken with επερωτημα — eperōtēma or συνειδησεως — suneidēseōs the resurrection of Jesus Christ For baptism is a symbolic picture of the resurrection of Christ as well as of our own spiritual renewal (Romans 6:2-6). See 1 Peter 1:3 for regeneration made possible by the resurrection of Jesus. [source]

What do the individual words in Mark 9:32 mean?

- And they did not understand the saying and they were afraid Him to ask
οἱ δὲ ἠγνόουν τὸ ῥῆμα καὶ ἐφοβοῦντο αὐτὸν ἐπερωτῆσαι

οἱ  - 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἠγνόουν  they  did  not  understand 
Parse: Verb, Imperfect Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: ἀγνοέω  
Sense: to be ignorant, not to know.
ῥῆμα  saying 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: ῥῆμα  
Sense: that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word.
ἐφοβοῦντο  they  were  afraid 
Parse: Verb, Imperfect Indicative Middle or Passive, 3rd Person Plural
Root: φοβέομαι 
Sense: to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away).
ἐπερωτῆσαι  to  ask 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Infinitive Active
Root: ἐπερωτάω  
Sense: to accost one with an enquiry, put a question to, enquiry of, ask, interrogate.