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Mark 1 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Mark 1 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

"As it is written in the prophets"
Mark claims that John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy given in Malachi (3:1, 4:1, 5). But the Malachi prophecy says that God will send Elijah before "the great and dreadful day of the LORD" in which the world will be consumed by fire. Yet John the Baptist flatly denied that he was Elijah (Elias) in John 1:21 and the earth was not destroyed after John's appearance.
The phrase "as it is written in the prophets" is not found in the oldest and best Greek manuscripts which say, rather, "as it is written in Isaiah." Scribes made the change to correct the mistake of attributing the quotation to Isaiah, since the first part of the quote (v.2) is not from Isaiah, but from Ex.23:20 and Mal.3:1.
On dreadful day, see Mal. 4:5.
On why John denied he was Elijah, see John 1:21.
Although it is true that some Greek manuscripts have just “as it is written in Isaiah,” Mark cites two prophets, so as John Gill puts it:

but the former seems to be the better reading, since two prophets are cited, and Isaiah is the last; to which agree the Arabic and Ethiopic versions, and the greater number of Greek copies.

The citation in this verse comes from Mal. 3:1 See also Twelve textual troublespots.

3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

The citation in this verse comes from Is. 40:3. I have no idea why the author of the SAB thinks this verse is a citation of Ex. 23:20. So I suppose scribes didn't make any changes after all.

4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

6 And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;

St. John in the wilderness
(Veneziano Domenico, c. 1445)

7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.

8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

The baptism of Christ
(Master of the life of John the Baptist, 1330-1340)

10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

"Thou art my beloved son."
How did God address Jesus at his baptism?

12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.

(1:12-13) "And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan."
What did Jesus do after his baptism?
Jesus went immediately into the wilderness as this verse clearly states. See John 1:35 where the author of the SAB reads that Jesus attended a wedding after his baptism.

13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

We have to make a careful distinction between persons following Jesus and the actual calling of the twelve. Between verse thirteen, the temptation in the wilderness, and this verse, the journey into Galilee, we have a gap of about nine months to a year! Note how Matthew and Mark do not put the journey to Galilee immediately after the temptation in the wilderness. They explicitly say it happened after John was cast into prison. This verse should actually have been the beginning of a new chapter.
John the evangelist is the only one describing the intermediate period. It appears that after the temptation in the desert Jesus went back to the place where John the Baptist baptised. There the first disciples followed him, among them John the evangelist (John 1:37). John gives his personal recollections of this intermediate period. such as the wedding in Cana (John 2:11), that Jesus visited Jerusalem and that Nicodemus came to Jesus (John 3:1-22).
After that it appears that Jesus and his disciples separated. Jesus went back to Nazareth, his hometown, Matthew 4:13. He probably wanted to visit his mother after this long journey, and there might have been some family business he had to take care off. Those who would become his disciples went back to their old trade. Perhaps the fishing season had started.
When the news arrived that John the Baptist was cast into prison, we come at the point where Matthew and Mark pick up the story again and begin to tell about the journey into Galilee. Shortly after Jesus heard this news, he left Nazareth (Matthew 4:13) and sought out his disciples again. This time he called twelve of them, setting them apart from the others. That is what is described in the subsequent verses of this chapter.
So to answer the question: Peter and Andrew followed Jesus, after that John the Baptist was cast into prison, and after that Peter and Andrew were actually called to be two of the twelve disciples.

15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

19 And when he had gone a little farther thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.

20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.

22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.

23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,

(1:23-24) "I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God."
"Unclean spirits" confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. If 1 Jn.4:2 is true, then these "unclean spirits" are of God.
Are those who believe Jesus is the Christ of God?
The author of the SAB confuses the case where spirit means human and where spirit means a being that is nonhuman. The verse here is about a devil, the man is possessed. 1 John 4:2 is about humans. Different categories, different applicability. Devils cannot have a saving faith in Jesus, while people, through the regenerating Spirit of God, can.

24 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.

"And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace."
Jesus rebukes the "unclean spirit" for saying that Jesus is "the holy one of God."
Christ, the son of God, doesn't need the endorsement of the devil.

26 And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.

27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.

28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.

29 And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

30 But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.

"Simon's wife"
Peter, who Catholics believe was the first pope, was married.
Indeed, that seems quite probable.

31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.

(1:32-34) "He ... suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him."
Jesus casts out more devils and tells them not to reveal who he is.
I wouldn't want to be endorsed by the devil either.

33 And all the city was gathered together at the door.

34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.

35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

36 And Simon and they that were with him followed after him.

37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.

38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.

39 And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.

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.

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

42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.

43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;

44 And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.