The Meaning of Mark 9:34 Explained

Mark 9:34

KJV: But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

YLT: and they were silent, for with one another they did reason in the way who is greater;

Darby: And they remained silent, for by the way they had been reasoning with one another who was greatest.

ASV: But they held their peace: for they had disputed one with another on the way, who was the greatest.

What does Mark 9:34 Mean?

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 9:34

But they held their peace [Hoi de esiōpōn)]
Imperfect tense. Put thus to them, they felt ashamed that the Master had discovered their jealous rivalry. It was not a mere abstract query, as they put it to Jesus, but it was a canker in their hearts. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Mark 9:34

Mark 9:33 What were ye reasoning in the way? [Timothyen tēi hodōi dielogiszethe̱)]
Imperfect tense. They had been disputing (Mark 9:34), not about the coming death of the Master, but about the relative rank of each of them in the political kingdom which they were expecting him to establish. Jesus had suspected the truth about them and they had apparently kept it up in the house. See note on Matthew 18:1 where the disciples are represented as bringing the dispute to Jesus while here Jesus asks them about it. Probably they asked Jesus first and then he pushed the matter further and deeper to see if this had not been the occasion of the somewhat heated discussion on the way in. [source]
Hebrews 12:5 Speaketh unto you [ὑμῖν διαλέγεται]
The verb always in the sense of mutual converse or discussion. See Mark 9:34; Acts 17:2; Acts 18:19. Rend. “reasoneth with you.” [source]
Jude 1:9 Contending with the devil [τωι διαβολωι διακρινομενος]
Present middle participle of διακρινω — diakrinō to separate, to strive with as in Acts 11:2. Dative case διαβολωι — diabolōi he disputed Imperfect middle of διαλεγομαι — dialegomai as in Mark 9:34.Concerning the body of Moses (περι του Μωυσεως σωματος — peri tou Mōuseōs sōmatos). Some refer this to Zechariah 3:1, others to a rabbinical comment on Deuteronomy 34:6. There is a similar reference to traditions in Acts 7:22; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2; Zechariah 3:1-1003. But this explanation hardly meets the facts.Durst not bring “Did not dare (first aorist active indicative of τολμαω — tolmaō), to bring against him” (second aorist active infinitive of επιπερω — epipherō).A railing accusation (κρισιν βλασπημιας — krisin blasphēmias). “Charge of blasphemy” where 2 Peter 2:11 has “βλασπημον κρισιν — blasphēmon krisin Peter also has παρα κυριωι — para kuriōi (with the Lord), not in Jude.The Lord rebuke thee First aorist active optative of επιτιμαω — epitimaō a wish about the future. These words occur in 1685444832_5 where the angel of the Lord replies to the charges of Satan. Clement of Alex. (Adumb. in Ep. Judae) says that Jude quoted here the Assumption of Moses, one of the apocryphal books. Origen says the same thing. Mayor thinks that the author of the Assumption of Moses took these words from Zechariah and put them in the mouth of the Archangel Michael. There is a Latin version of the Assumption. Some date it as early as b.c. 2, others after a.d. 44. [source]

What do the individual words in Mark 9:34 mean?

- And they were silent with one another for they had been discussing along the road which [was] greatest
οἱ δὲ ἐσιώπων πρὸς ἀλλήλους γὰρ διελέχθησαν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ τίς μείζων

οἱ  - 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Plural
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἐσιώπων  they  were  silent 
Parse: Verb, Imperfect Indicative Active, 3rd Person Plural
Root: σιωπάω  
Sense: to be silent, hold one’s peace.
ἀλλήλους  one  another 
Parse: Personal / Reciprocal Pronoun, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: ἀλλήλων  
Sense: one another, reciprocally, mutually.
διελέχθησαν  they  had  been  discussing 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Passive, 3rd Person Plural
Root: διαλέγομαι  
Sense: to think different things with one’s self, mingle thought with thought.
ἐν  along 
Parse: Preposition
Root: ἐν 
Sense: in, by, with etc.
ὁδῷ  road 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: ὁδός 
Sense: properly.
τίς  which  [was] 
Parse: Interrogative / Indefinite Pronoun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: τίς  
Sense: who, which, what.
μείζων  greatest 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Masculine Singular, Comparative
Root: μέγας  
Sense: great.