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I noticed while reading Mark 1 that the word immediately (εὐθὺς) is used eleven times in this chapter.

When I researched, I found a theory that it may have been Mark's way of portraying Jesus as the Father's servant. Although it does make sense, it did not find any concrete evidence that this was actually Mark's intention.

Why does Mark seem to have such an obsession with this word? Is it just the way he writes?

  • @All This is an Excellent Question, and it goes to the heart of Mark's Gospel. There is a "singularity of purpose" in Mark's Gospel; almost as if to "hurry up and get it out there". None of the answers have addressed this question syntactically; I am wondering aloud if those who have a better grasp of the Greek have any insight to this(hint, hint)? – Tau Sep 9 '15 at 1:49
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Rhoads, Dewey and Michie say, in Mark as Story, page 46, that Mark's style keeps the narration moving along. Instead of "telling about" the story in generalities and abstractions, the narrator "shows" the events by a straightforward recounting of actions and dialogue. Episodes are usually brief, scenes change often and minor characters appear and quickly disappear.

They say Mark's style is characterised by the frequent repetition of the word "immediately," the recurrence of "and" as an introduction to almost every sentence, and an abundance of participles. These stylistic features, along with the vivid use of the present tense for past action, keep the narrative flowing at a fast pace, which draws the audience quickly into the story and maintains their attention. As suggested in the question, it really is just the way he writes.

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    I don’t have access to the book you refer to, but I’m a little confused by the "abundance of participles" characterization. At least relative to “average” Greek, I think of Mark as more paratactic, to the exclusion of excessive dependent clauses. I wonder (?) if the authors are referring to the periphrastic use of the participle - i.e. after a finite form of “to be” - which works very differently from a normal (subordinating) participle in the syntax of the sentence. – Susan Sep 7 '15 at 9:35
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Some suggest that Mark was very young- by the standards of that culture, and certainly by comparison to the other writers. I can speculate that his youthfulness (some even suggest that he was a teenager) had something to do with his style as it pertains to the heavy use of the adverb. Also, the theory you mentioned seems quite valid, for even John was known for using the language to specifically motivate- every time John uses the word "believe," he uses the verb form, because his gospel seems to be aimed at getting people to come to the conclusion that Jesus is the Son of God and to ACT on that belief. Mark's gospel could have a very similar immediacy.

Interestingly enough, the root word euthy actually has another meaning that may highlight the intent of the word, as it certainly pertains to Christ: it means to do things properly and without allowing for detours, "straight from point A to God's point B." (Strong's).

Also keep in mind that ultimately all writers in the NT (and OT) are subject to the Holy Spirit. Any urgency we detect is God encouraging us not to delay, any expediance we notice is meant to be noticed.

Beyond that, we have no hardcore proof of Mark's motives, but we can rightly conclude that when someone says the word "immediately," they want you to take notice of the timeliness and swiftness by which something is done.

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A. W. Pink's article addresses this question in this post: http://www.jesus.org/is-jesus-god/the-gospels/mark-the-gospel-of-immediacy.html

Here is the text of the article:

A characteristic term which occurs with great frequency in Mark's Gospel is the Greek word Eutheos," which is variously translated "straight away, immediately" etc. Notice a few of the occurrences of this word in the first chapter alone: "And straight away coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him" (v. 10). "And immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness" (v. 12). "And when He had gone a little further, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets, And straight away He called them" (vv. 19,20). "And they went into Capernaum; and straight away on the sabbath day He entered into the synagogue, and taught" (v. 21). "And immediately when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon" (v. 29). "And He came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her" (v. 31). "And He straight away charged him, and immediately sent him away" (v. 43).

In all, this word is found no less than forty times in Mark’s Gospel. It is a most suggestive and expressive term, bringing out the perfections of God’s Servant by showing us how He served. There was no tardiness about Christ’s service, but "straight away" He was ever about His "Father’s business." There was no delay, but "immediately" He performed the work given Him to do. This word tells of the promptitude of His service and the urgency of His mission. There was no holding back, no reluctance, no slackness, but a blessed "immediateness" about all His work. We should all learn from this perfect example which He has left us.

In a way I agree with this assessment of the word. However I would caution readers to not confuse Christ's attitude of immediacy in this context to apply to our personal prayer requests. I think some Christians believe that if they pray the right prayer that there prayers will be answered immediately. This is simply not the case. Sometimes God's answers are "No" or "Wait". You cannot prayer what I call "Microwave Prayer" and expect to get your answer in less than 60 seconds. Sometimes we are required to prayer continually over time before we receive an answer to our prayers. As Christians we should not be discouraged when we don't get an immediate answer to our prayers. God may require our patience and continual prayer on a matter in order to prepare our hearts for the answer. God's timing is always different than ours, and it is always right.

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The Gospel of Mark talks about the Lord Jesus as the servant savior who came to serve and not to be served. Hence the use of the word "immediately" probably emphasizes his status as the slave of God; One who came to serve man and not as a King ( Matthew) or in his Humanity(Luke). Someone who has a status of servant must act immediately to care for whoever he serves. He does not have the option of lingering and serving on his own terms and pace.

  • How do you explain cases like "the spirit...immediately threw the boy into a convulsion" and "immediately the father of the boy cried out" in Mark 9? They don't seem to fit this theory. – fumanchu Sep 13 '15 at 21:20
  • You are right about that... – Dr.Apell Sep 14 '15 at 9:11
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Looking at context and structure of the book of Mark, we realise that it is bookended with Son of God (Mark 1:1) and with the Roman Soldier exclaiming, "Surely this was the Son of God" (uiou tou Theos) . Mark wants his reader to recognise Jesus authority, and as the Pharisee exclaims in Mark 2:7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Only the power of God can forgive sins and restore shalom to creation. Mark is like a Movie director and so he speeds up his story until he hits the theme of the story which is the Passion Week, and so he goes slo-mo cam on this event, drawing out the detail and the authority of Jesus as he heads to complete his mission upon Calvary's Mountain. Hence why he uses immediately 42 times in this gospel.

  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics SE, thanks for contributing! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other SEs. Our community looks for answers to reflect a good degree of research and references. Typically, we like answers that cite scholarly references and/or explain how your interpretation arises from the text. Don't just tell us what you know, tell us how you know it. – James Shewey Jul 29 '16 at 21:45
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    These seem like some solid and informative observations, but I fail to see how they relate to or explain Mark's frequent use of the word immediately (εὐθὺς). Could you edit to clarify? – James Shewey Jul 29 '16 at 21:46
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Actually the word immediatley is not only used to represent an action by Jesus. In Chapter 4 vs 15... Satan comes immediately...in the same chapter vs 17 immediately people stumble...in the same chapter in vs 29 the man immediately puts in the sickle. What I believe in my youthful spirit is that as it pertains to things of the Spirit...we don't have to wait when we are operating in the Spirit. We have always heard...you have to wait. But salvation comes immediately and so do all things of spirit filled believers who operate in faith. You do not have to wait to stand before the holy of holies...just pray and boom you are there. Mark was a man filled and excited about all the awesomeness of the truth of the Kingdom. Have you ever seen a children filled with joy and excitement as they share about the stories they learned about Jesus. I believe Jesus gets annoyed at times with over complicating and super deep proofs, when all you have to do is mix a little faith with immediately and boom!!! Get the revelation of God's amazingness. I'm a life long believer, a Sunday School teacher who has evangelized and I've seen many miracles.

  • @NigelJ Jesus is a common given name in many Latin cultures, so it is completely possible that the username "Jesus" is the user's real name, and shouldn't be viewed as offensive. In view of the fact that some cultures view giving the name Jesus to their children as an expression of their faith, someone giving themselves the username Jesus could likewise be viewed this way. At the same time, I can understand your concern. – למה זה תשאל לשמי Apr 23 '18 at 1:00

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