Mark 1:3

Kenneth Wuest
excerpted from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Vol. I
Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
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Mk. 1:3 π Jn. 1:23; 2nd π 2 Pet. 2:15

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD, Make His paths straight.'" ( Mk. 1:3; top )

The voice; no definite article in the Greek text. The Baptist was not the only mouthpiece of God sent to Israel. John only claimed to be "a voice," not "the voice." ( Jn. 1:23; top ) The One for whom he made ready the road, was the Son of God, the unique Son, Himself, Very God.

Of one crying, boao, "to cry aloud, to shout, to speak with a high, strong voice." Kaleo in classic usage meant "to cry out" for a purpose, boao, "to cry out" as a manifestation of feeling. The preaching of the Baptist was full of emotion, of feeling. It came from the heart, and was addressed to the heart. John said, "I am a voice of One shouting out in the wilderness." ( Jn. 1:23; top ) The One shouting out was God. John was His mouthpiece. Back of John's preaching to Israel, and in and through it, was the infinite longing of the God of Israel for His chosen people. The heart of God was in that message, full of pathos and love and entreaty.

In the wilderness, eremos; the word signifies "a solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited place." Here it refers to the uncultivated regions fit for pasturage in Judea.

Prepare, hetoimazo, "to make ready, prepare." Thayer says when it is used as here to prepare the way (hodos road) of the Lord, it is used as a figure "drawn from the oriental custom of sending on before kings on their journeys persons to level the roads and make them passable," thus, "to prepare the minds of men to give the Messiah a fit reception and secure His blessings." The verb is in the plural number, thus addressed to Israel. It is aorist in tense and imperative in mode, thus, issuing a summary command given with military snap and curtness, and was a command to be obeyed at once. That was the character of the preaching of the Baptist. His was no pussy-footing, no beating about the bush, no smooth oily, namby-pamby preaching. The Baptist was a man among men, and his preaching was straight from the shoulder.

The way of the Lord; "way" is again hodos, a road. "Lord" is kurios, used of a person who is the possessor and disposer of a thing, the master. It is the word used in the LXX (Septuagint - Greek translation of Old Testament) to translate the august title of God which we know as Jehovah. The Ancient of Days was to incarnate Himself in humanity, grow up from a little child to manhood, and offer Himself to Israel as its Messiah, its King. His road needed to be prepared, that is, the hearts of His Chosen People must be ready. John's ministry was to see to it that Israel was ready to welcome its Messiah. The word "Lord" is without the article, the emphasis being upon character or quality. The road is a Lord's road, of such a quality as would belong to Jehovah.

Make His paths straight. The verb "make" is present imperative, issuing a command to be obeyed continuously. It should be a habit with Israel, a constant attitude, not a formal, abrupt welcome and that is all, but a welcome that would extend on and on, an habitual welcome that would be the natural expression of the heart. "Straight" is euthus, meaning "straight, level." Robertson speaks of the wonderful Persian roads made for the couriers of the king, and then for the king himself, and of the Roman Empire, knit together by roads, some of which are in existence today. This word is not only used of straight and level roads, but also of a right way of life, as in 2 Pet. 2:15 (top) , where the word is used with hodos (road). "Paths" is tribolos, "a worn path, a path." The expression does not refer to a literal path or road down which the Lord would travel, but to the hearts of the people of Israel, and His entrance among them.

Translation: A voice of One shouting out in the uninhabited place, Prepare the Lord's road. Straight and level be constantly making His paths.

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