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Was Jesus annoyed with the leper or filled with compassion? Mark 1-41


In the Gospel of Mark chapter 1 we are told of a story where a leper comes to Jesus and asks him to heal him.

Mark 1-40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

Jesus is then stated as being moved with compassion heals the man.

Mark 1-41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. KJV


However in the NIV version of the Bible we see that Jesus is not moved with compassion for the man rather he is annoyed


Mark 1-41 Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” NIV

Indignant meaning to show anger or annoyance.


These are two very different emotions being described. So what is the correct rendering here. Was Jesus indignant or moved with compassion.

The NIV is in the significant minority on this rendering, that doesn’t necessarily make it incorrect but it is at least noting that Bible versions such as the ESV, NASB, ASV and ERV all of which are translated using the same underlying Greek text all agree with the KJV here even if they don’t all use compassion but a synonym of.


This story is also found in the gospel of Matthew, where we see that Jesus heals the man. However no emotions is actually attributed to Jesus only that he does as the man asks and heals him.


Matthew 8- 1When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.


And it is also found in the gospel of Luke, where again there is no mention of anger or compassion just the healing itself.

Luke 5- 12And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 13And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him.


The NIV’s Footnotes state
Mark 1:41 Many manuscripts Jesus was filled with compassion.


MANY manuscripts, this really is an understatement and gives the wrong impression. The rendering that is found in the KJV is supported by  manuscripts C, c, e, f, l and q PLUS the Greek Lectionaries, the Latin Vulgate, the Old Latin Italic aur, Syriac Peshitta, the Coptic Sahidic, Boharic, Armenian, Ethiopian, Georgian, AND Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.


Even the UBS 4th edition critical Greek text has this rendering.


It should rather be stated that just ONE manuscript, manuscript D also known as Codex Bezae, which is well known for its rather outlandish readings,  has the reading that the NIV has chosen to go with.


Again this does not in itself prove that the NIV would be incorrect. I am myself convinced that the true reading CAN be found in a single manuscript (that doesn’t mean that it is, just that it is possible.)

When we look at the context however it would certainly seem strange and does not fit the texts that Jesus would get annoyed by the lepers request for healing. Neither is Jesus shown to be annoyed by those people that were in need of his help and that had indeed besought his help. Rather the opposite in fact, Jesus is shown to have had much compassion for those that required it and who in faith had asked him for it. There really is no reason to assert that Jesus on this occasion would have been annoyed or angered by the lepers request for him to then simple grant the request, especially as Jesus replies to his request “if you wilt” and Jesus replying “I will” as attested to by Matthew, Luke and more importantly Mark as well. This then clearly being his will. If it was his will then there is no logical reason to conclude that this request would have annoyed or angered him.  


The scriptural and context evidence then would support the correct reading being compassion.  


Categories: Why KJV only?

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