Mark 10:17-18 (CEV):

As Jesus was walking down a road, a man ran up to him. He knelt down, and asked, "Good teacher, what can I do to have eternal life?"

Jesus replied, "Why do you call me good? Only God is good."

In one entry on the word θεος, Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich Greek lexicon cites Mark 10:18 to show that Jesus did not equate himself with the Lord God the Father of the Shema:

2 θεος Some writings in our lit. use the word θ. w. ref. to Christ (without necessarily equating Christ with the Father, and therefore in harmony w. the Shema of Israel Dt 6:4; cp. Mk 10:18 and 4a below), though the interpretation of some of the pass. is in debate.'

How does the phrase "Only God is good" in Mark 10:18 demonstrate that the use of θεός in respect to Jesus does not violate the Shema?

Justin Martyr is an example of how early interpreters of the verse viewed it. [1]

[1] 1 Justin, Dial. 101.2 hEIS ESTIN AGAQOS, hO PATHR MOU hO EN TOIS OURANOIS  - "One is good, my Father in the heavens."

  • Thomas, I recommended the two tags torah and contradiction. Sorry if I am getting it wrong. Apr 2, 2020 at 20:18

7 Answers 7


The question states the opinion that :

Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich Greek lexicon cites Mark 10:18 to show that Jesus did not equate himself with the Lord God the Father of the Shema.

In support of this opinion, the OP quotes from BDAG the following :

BDAG θεος 2. Some writings in our lit. use the word θ. w. ref. to Christ (without necessarily equating Christ with the Father

However BDAG also states, further down the page :

On the other hand θ certainly refers to Christ in the foll. NT pass ...

After which there is a list of references. There are also references to patristic citations which support this.

This is an attempt to mis-represent an authority, as though BDAG were commenting on doctrine, which BDAG is not. BDAG is simply categorising occurrences of the lexical word θεοσ.

As to the header question :

How does Mark 10:18 'inform our view' of Jesus as God ...

this gives the impression that the questioner is one of those (we) who views Jesus as God. But that all depends on the questioner's 'view' as to what θεοσ means in the Greek language.

Which is exactly what BDAG is listing ... that the word is used in many ways by different writers who use the Greek word θεοσ.

If one wishes to join honest debate and discussion, one must be transparent as to what one is talking about and one must define one's terms.

Which Mark does in his opening verse :

αρχη του ευαγγελιου ιησου χριστου υιου του θεου [TR - Stephens, Beza, Elzevir and Scrivener all identical] [W&H and NA remove υιου του θεου]

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

From the very opening words of Mark's gospel, we have a situation where some dispute the words υιου του θεου the Son of God, and they remove them from the text.

This fundamentally affects the 'view' of anyone reading Mark's gospel.

So how do 'we' then 'view' the words in Mark 10:18 ?

'We' 'view' them differently.

Some of 'we' will already be 'viewing' Jesus Christ solely as a created being of some kind or other. How exactly they 'view' Christ, well, they need to properly explain what they see.

Then everyone of 'we' will know what is being 'viewed'.

But as long as the Greek text is being disputed and as long as persons join the debate who are just not prepared to openly express themselves about what they see .. then for so long will there be no 'we' at all.

There will just be factions who think very, very differently about Jesus the Christ, the Son of God.

A better question would be 'what does this text mean' and just state the text. Then the question can be answered ... from the text.

Which would be hermeneutical.

  • I never suggested any modification. This is my first interaction with your question.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 9, 2020 at 3:19
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    I have stated in my answer that you misrepresented BDAG. And your edit has not improved that situation. Better to just ask a question about the text of scripture. Which is what the site is for.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 9, 2020 at 3:23
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    @ThomasPearne BDAG does not 'make a point'. You are misrepresenting the lexical entry for θεοσ. BDAG reports a list of ways in which θεοσ is used in Greek lit. It is you that is trying to 'make a point' - instead of just asking for help with a text. Which is what most of the community here is doing.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 9, 2020 at 3:29
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    @ThomasPearne I have quoted BDAG in my answer On the other hand θ certainly refers to Christ in the foll. NT pass .. and I have no further comment to make on my answer.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 9, 2020 at 3:35

The verse in question (Mark 10:18), I don't think it's informing "our" view of Jesus as God. Read the "context starting at verse 17. "And as He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and began asking Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

Notice the man was not looking for material goods or healing; rather he came for spiritual advice. By the man saying "Good Teacher/Master suggest respect on the part of the man for Jesus. Plus the man "knelt" down.

I think the man used the adjective "good" in the sense of kind and generous. The man wanted to know what more was yet required of him to obtain life. In other words, the man's understanding of "good" was achievement.

At verse 18 Jesus says to him, "Why do you call Me good!" No one is good except God alone." I think what Jesus is doing is turning the man's attention toward God. In doing so Jesus was not denying His own inherent goodness and or His deity. Throughout Scripture His deity is abundantly clear and Jesus accepted what this man said to Him.

Jesus was not only inherently good, but Scripture says He was sinless. 1 Peter 2:22, "Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth.

Jesus had not merely attained some high level of moral excellence, He is truly God. And God is the only source of eternal life, the ultimate good life and the hope of every believer. At verse 19 Jesus says to the man, "You know the commandments, Do not murder, do not commit adultery . Do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honor your father and mother."

Verse 20, And he said to Him, Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up." Verse 21, "And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to him, "One thing you lack, go and sell all your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven, AND COME AND FOLLOW ME."

Verse 22, "But at these words his face fell." Why? He needed to renounce anything which would keep him from an unconditional life of discipleship to Christ. Bottom line, the man was enslaved to what should have been his servant. His love for the world and its goods was more important to him than the love of the ONE who alone can impart true riches. As I said, I do not think the point is to inform us that Jesus is God in opposition to God His Father. And by the way, is this the point you've been trying to make with all the threads your have started, "Jesus is not God," well you have failed miserably

  • @Mr. Bond "I think what Jesus is doing is turning the man's attention toward God" - unlikely that just that! The principle that only God is inherently good is a theological banality all Jews knew and agreed with, so it is not that Jesus imports this banality on the young man. Rather, He reprimands him for regarding Him "good" in just human terms, as filled with goodness, but not as the Filler and Provider with Goodness, for without Him nobody has an access to the Father's Goodness (John 14:6) that belong to Both equally. Thus it is a definite and clear passage where Jesus claims His divinity. Jan 8, 2020 at 8:33
  • @ThomasPearne PLease give the BDAG reference in full. "BDAG cites Mark 10:8 ... etc". Where, exactly ?
    – Nigel J
    Jan 9, 2020 at 0:46
  • @ThomasPearne To say that that citation means the same as 'show that Jesus did not equate himself with God' is a non sequeter. I think you should edit your question to remove that remark as it is mis-representative of your source, BDAG.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 9, 2020 at 1:16
  • Mr. Levan, I just don't see in the immediate context that Jesus is claiming His divinity. The man runs up to Jesus and says, "Good Teacher what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Like I said in my post, the man's understanding of "good" was achievement. Jesus turned his attention toward God, the author and true standard of all that is morally good. Jesus is not referring to Himself as divine. Instead at vs19 Jesus brings up the commandments. He says he kept them all. Vs21, I think Jesus took him seriously and felt affection for him. Jesus says sell it, give it to the poor. He left grieving.
    – Mr. Bond
    Jan 9, 2020 at 1:59
  • @Mr.Bond I would tend to disagree. Jesus, on the contrary, from the outset of this encounter knows the heart of the young fellow and knows that he is not satisfied with the Mosaic law, which perfects him not, but is in spiritual need of something more, and this something more is perfection. Jesus answers this call, saying that He is the Principle of perfection ("follow Me"), but if of perfection, then also of goodness, for advance in perfection is nothin more than advance in goodness; thus, Jesus clearly says that He is the Principle of both perfection and goodness, and such can be only God. Jan 9, 2020 at 9:12

Yes, definitely Jesus asserts His divinity in Mark 10:18.

For, of course, Jesus clearly admits Himself that there are good humans and bad humans (Luke 6:45), but here He simply reprimands the young man for calling Him good in the sense of just a good human teacher.

Would not Jesus put Himself at least on the level of the good humans understood in human terms? Indeed He would, for He put Himself even above the prophets of likes David (Matthew 22:45) or Jonah (Matthew 12:41) who were the best men Jews knew about. If so, then it is illogical for Him, unless He thinks that human category of "good" does not apply to Him, to reprimand the young man for calling Him "good" in human sense. But since He saw a gross blunder in the young man's apprehension of Him, He put him this reprimanding question: "Why do you call me good?", that is to say, why do you call me "good" in human terms, which does not apply to me. And the continuation is: "only God is good", in the sense that only God is the goodness per se, essentially, uncreatedly - not good by participation in God - the Principle of goodness in everything - but as Himself representing the fountainhead and the Principle of Goodness, providing this feature to creatures that participate in this Goodness essentially belonging to Him.

The immediate sequel just confirms this: He says to the young man: "if you want to be perfect, sell everything and follow Me", which means that as nobody is perfect per se but God, still, even humans can by participation in God, receive a measure of perfection, but Jesus whom the young man is to follow is the very one in whom he should participate to receive this measure, while Jesus Himself is provider of this measure and the Fountainhead of perfection Himself, just like the Fountainhead of goodness in all men.

He similarly reprimands also Nicodemus in John 3, when Nicodemus addresses Him as a "teacher from God" (John 3:2), which Jesus takes as a gross mistake about Himself and reprimands Nicodemus for not being yet born anew in Spirit (John 3:3), for, in fact, only through Spirit can one understand and acknowledge the Divinity of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 12:3).

  • In the sense that only God is intrinsically or analytically good, (like only water is intrinsically/analytically wet, as wetting principle of all that are wet by participation in water), while all other "good" persons are such by participation in God, and Jesus affirms that category for sure (Luke 6:45), simply removes Himself from this category, as water would have removed itself from category of wet things. Jan 7, 2020 at 23:32
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    "Only God is the fountainhead of goodness who has or rather is Goodness intrinsically and essentially" - and that is who Jesus is, for He and the Father are one (John 10:30) Jan 7, 2020 at 23:35
  • I identify God as Person fully possessing divine essence that applies to both Father and the Son (and Holy Spirit as well for that matter). When Jesus says that "all what is Father's is His also", and that "He and the Father had the same Glory before world was made" He also necessarily implies that Goodness of the Father eternally belongs to Him as well. As plain as that Jan 7, 2020 at 23:39
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    He does not deny at all! The whole sentence is to be interpreted like that: "Why do you call me "good"? is it because you regard me as God who is the only Good? Then you are right, but if in the sense of a merely "good man", then you are in an utter blunder". Jan 7, 2020 at 23:45

There is no "the Lord God the Father of the Shema" in BDAG. The Shema (see below) is an Old Testament proclamation of God which makes no mention of "the Father." In fact, the concept of God as "the" Father is essentially a New Testament revelation of God. The Old Testament does have a few places where God is called Father. For example:

For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. (Isaiah 63:16 ESV)

As a commentary on Isaiah says:

The verse reads: For thou art our Father; for Abraham knoweth us not and Israel doth not recognise us; Thou Jehovah art our Father; our Redeemer from of old is Thy Name. Jehovah is the Father of Israel, i.e. the Creator and founder of the nation (Deuteronomy 32:6; Malachi 2:10; cf. Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1; Isaiah 1:2; Jeremiah 3:4; Jeremiah 3:19; Malachi 1:6). The idea of the divine Fatherhood is not yet extended in the O.T. to the individual believer, although a remarkable anticipation of the N.T. doctrine is found in Sir 23:1; Sir 23:4 : “O Lord, Father and Master of my life, … O Lord, Father and God of my life.” (Cheyne.)1

At best the conception of God as "Father" taken from the Shema would be understood as Israel (the nation) is my firstborn son (Exodus 4:22). In other words, there is no obvious revelation for a claim there is an "only begotten" or singular Son of God.

εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ θεός
The phrase, εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ θεός, is used twice in Mark. The first is in Chapter 2:

1 Jesus went back to Capernaum, and a few days later people heard that he was at home. 2 Then so many of them came to the house that there wasn’t even standing room left in front of the door. Jesus was still teaching 3 when four people came up, carrying a crippled man on a mat. 4 But because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they made a hole in the roof above him and let the man down in front of everyone.5 When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Some of the teachers of the Law of Moses were sitting there. They started wondering,

7 “Why would he say such a thing? He must think he is God! Only God can forgive sins.”
τί οὗτος οὕτως λαλεῖ βλασφημεῖ τίς δύναται ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ θεός

8 Right away, Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he said, “Why are you thinking such things? 9 Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and pick up his mat and go on home? 10 I will show you that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.” So Jesus said to the man, 11 “Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home.” 12 The man got right up. He picked up his mat and went out while everyone watched in amazement. They praised God and said, “We have never seen anything like this!” [CEV]

The second is in Chapter 10:

17 As Jesus was walking down a road, a man ran up to him. He knelt down, and asked, “Good teacher, what can I do to have eternal life?”

18 Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.
ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ θεός

19 You know the commandments. ‘Do not murder. Be faithful in marriage. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. Do not cheat. Respect your father and mother.’” 20 The man answered, “Teacher, I have obeyed all these commandments since I was a young man.” 21 Jesus looked closely at the man. He liked him and said, “There’s one thing you still need to do. Go sell everything you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come with me.” 22 When the man heard Jesus say this, he went away gloomy and sad because he was very rich. (Mark 10)

In addition to the phrase the two episodes have other elements in common:

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Given these, it appears Mark wants the two episodes to be considered together. As miraculous as the episode with the paralytic was, it did not result in anyone becoming a follower. Yet the next episode Mark relates is Jesus calling Levi, who does follow.2

In this sense, the rich young man who comes to Jesus "picks up" where the healing of the paralytic ends. His sins are forgiven and his physical ailment cured, but he knows he lacks something "to inherit" eternal life.

While the two episodes parallel one another, there is an antithetical nature. In the first, it is the scribes who acknowledge Jesus takes action reserved for God only; in the second, the man attributes something to Jesus which Jesus claims is reserved for God only. This leads to the decision point:

Mark 2: "Which is easier..."
Mark 10: "Why do you call me good?"

The first is rhetorical which everyone present and reading can answer. The second is personal which only the young man (and Jesus) can answer. Notice too, after Jesus asks the question, the young man gives an answer of sorts: "Teacher..." Having heard from Jesus only God may be called good, the man no longer acknowledges Jesus is "good." He is simply "Teacher."

The message of each is the same: become a follower of Jesus. In fact, the two both imply Jesus is God while illustrating the steps to salvation:

  1. Jesus' death atones for sin (the paralytics sins are forgiven)
  2. Jesus is raised from the dead (the paralytic is raised from his mat)
  3. Those who believe Jesus are saved

As "Father" is understood from the OT, the significance of Mark 10 is to show the inadequacy of that conception. The young man "has it all." He is a decedent of Abraham who has been blessed with success. Yet he knows he lacks something to inherit eternal life. If the OT God as Father was sufficient, as part of God's "firstborn son," he should not have a question on his inheritance.

The Shema

BDAG θεος 2. Some writings in our lit. use the word θ. w. ref. to Christ (without necessarily equating Christ with the Father, and therefore in harmony w. the Shema of Israel Dt 6:4; cp. Mk 10:18 and 4a below), though the interpretation of some of the pass. is in debate.

DLNT: And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except One— God.
ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ θεός

The use of "θεος" (GOD) is in harmony with the Shema of Israel (Deuteronomy 6:4):

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.[b] [ESV]

[b] Or The LORD our God is one LORD; or The LORD is our God, the LORD is one; or The LORD is our God, the LORD alone

Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord. (LXX)
ἄκουε Ισραηλ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν

The use of "God" (not "Father") is in harmony with the Shema. For example, had Jesus said "No one is good except the Father alone," then the Shema would make this as a statement of self-denial of divinity and the triune nature of God.

So the way the BDAG cites Mark 10:18 informs us this verse is consistent with the belief God is one with a triune nature. As the BDAG states, the use of θεος is harmony the Shema and so it is consistent with the belief of a triune God אֱלֹהִים (plural: Father, Son, Spirit) who is one God.

  1. Cambridge Bible Commentary
  2. As a tax collector Levi was likely a very wealthy man. If so, then the parallel is even greater as Peter affirms Levi left everything to follow Jesus.
  • Tri means three. Not one. Echad means 1 singular. 1 means 1 everywhere.
    – user35499
    Jun 19, 2020 at 4:15

The verse in context asserts the divinity of Jesus.

Jesus said that none were good but God.

The man said he was good and equal to God.

Jesus then challenged him to do what Jesus had done. He gave up all as the Eternal Son to take the flesh and be the poor man that the rich man had chased.

"If you are equal to God, then do what God has done and come follow me."

The point that this is a confrontation of the rich man's sin of equating himself with God. How can one interpret the law in such a way as to think he is equally good with God? This is where the word-play comes in.

The third letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the gimel ג. It has a metaphoric meaning of "pursue". The rabbis go so far as to allegorize it to be a rich man pursuing or chasing a poor man. This is precisely the scene. the rich man chased the poor man; Jesus.

Now consider how you thread a needle. You wet the thread and stiffen it to a point, squint, and move the thread to the needle. Your hand shakes, the thread wilts, and you start again. You do that because you are a novice.

You hold the stiffened thread against your cheek and bring the needle to it. This way the thread does not wilt.

When you thread the needle of the law, you bring the law to yourself, interpreting it in such a way that you are not guilty. This is what the rich man had done.

OH, and the word gimel also mean 'camel'.

So the rich man had pursued the poor man (gimel ג) and had interpreted the law to justify himself. Jesus confronted his claim of equality with God by challenging him to do what God (Jesus) had done. He then comments that is is easier for a real camel to go through the eye of a real needle, than for a rich man to justify his sin by the law in order to enter the kingdom. With men it is impossible.

When Jesus asked the man why he called him 'good', he was setting up the confrontation to follow. Jesus was not saying that he was not good, but asking how the man would have derived the fact. Did he discern that Jesus was God, or did he just have a loose interpretation of what 'good' was. The confrontation cleared it up.

  • Your exactly right, that is what Jesus said. So let me ask you this question? Romans 3:23 says, "for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Is Jesus Christ included or exempt from the word "ALL?" Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it." Does Jesus have a "desperately sick" heart, yes or no? Ecclesiastes 7:20, "Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who (continually) does good and who never sins." According to this verse where would you put or categorized Jesus Christ? You want more verses?
    – Mr. Bond
    Jan 9, 2020 at 1:21
  • I have adjusted the answer in response to Thomas's comment. I am not sure that your new question fits into the OP, and tends to make the comments here a dialog. I will be happy to address it in a new question. In this forum, one should not post one side of an argument. Please post all the verses that say he did not sin as well, try to reconcile them, then ask for help where you have trouble. Thanks.
    – Bob Jones
    Jan 10, 2020 at 2:39
  • Hey Bob, I think I've seen you make the claim before about the rabbis allegorizing gimel as a rich man chasing a poor man. I'd be interested to know where you came across this idea. Thanks
    – Soldarnal
    Feb 7, 2020 at 3:09
  • google gimel rich man and you can see many. It is common. I do not embrace rabbinic teaching, but note it when it agrees with sensus plenior.
    – Bob Jones
    Feb 7, 2020 at 3:38

Jesus is frequently shown in the operative capacity of "The son of man" in Luke's gospel. While operating in that capacity as the Son of man, Jesus and the Father stay in their own lane in order to maintain the righteousness of the One True God. For example, "the Son of man" was the one who was required to be "lifted up" for the sin of mankind. Therefore, God, in that operative capacity Jesus,the Son of man which came down from heaven, was the only man who has ascended up to heaven, as instructed in John 3:13:

And no "man" hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

...and, even though this son of man IS "God", because of that distinction of his operative capacity as "son of man" who payed the price for man's sin, we see a distinction between the heavenly location of that "son of man" and the spiritual power of God, in Luke 22:69:

Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.

Similarly, John's gospel frequently reveals Jesus as the "Son of God". Jesus is God, but in all matters operating in the capacity of the Son of God, He stays in His lane and always behaves as God's obedient Son. John 5:17: shows Jesus, as the Son of God, who works even as the Father works.

But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

John 5:19-21 shows the distinction between Father and Son, but also shows that the Son of God does accomplish some of the same work that He sees the father accomplish:

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

But, verse 22 shows a sharp contrast between the work of Father and the Son:

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

John 5:25-27 sorts out these "works" of the Father and the Son by their operative capacities:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

Both "God the Father" and the "Son of God" can forgive sin because they both have life and are life. HOWEVER, the righteousness of "God the Spirit", even "God the Father", requires that only the "Son of man", NOT God the Spirit will execute judgment. Apparently, ONLY the operative capacity of God who has been tempted as we, yet remains without sin, can RIGHTEOUSLY JUDGE sinful man. Even Adam was not cursed, but rather the earth was cursed for Adam's sake. Man has to physically die before the judgment.

Whereas, Matthew mostly shows the operative capacity of Jesus Christ as the son of David, the son of Abraham, Mark generally shows the operative capacity of Jesus Christ as the "obedient servant", which is often depicted as an ox, or a calf of an ox, subservient to both God and man.

NO Father/Son relationship with God or man is claimed in this portion of Mark 10:18 by Jesus. He is not operating in the capacity of the Son of man, the Son of God, nor the son of David and Abraham.

Obviously, Jesus is operating in here in the capacity of the servant/ox/calf of the ox.


There is a significant mistranslation in Mark 10:18

NASB, Mark 10:18 - And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.

The question mark is in the wrong place:

Interlinear, Mark 10:18 -IF not only God [is good]?

Context - a Stumbling Block and Offense

Jesus many times asserts a rhetorical challenge as a stumbling block, an offense, to provoke the wealthy and the traditional Jews.

NASB, Mark 10:23 - And Jesus, looking around, *said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words.

The Greek for "Amaze" is quite a bit more meaningful than it seems. After Jesus said those things, his disciples were "Shocked", "Terrified", "like a deer caught in the headlights". Even they didn't know what to think of it.

A Reference to Psalms and the Possible Contradiction:

Mark 10:18 is a reference to passages like in Psalms, (Psalms 14:1, Psalms 14:3, Psalms 53:1, Psalms 53:3).

NASB, Psalm 14:1 - The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.

  1. If Jesus is Good, but is not God, then there is a contradiction with Psalms.
  2. If Jesus is Good, and is God, then there is a contradiction with the Greek Shema.
  3. If Jesus is not as Good as the Father and is not the Father, there are no contradictions.
  4. Either way, Mark 10:18 does not violate the Hebrew version of the Shema which uses Ekhad (unity) rather than Akhat (number one).

Notably, both Mark 12:29, and the Septuagint Greek translation of Deuteronomy 6:4 depart from the Hebrew by using the numerical form of "One" rather than the "Unity" form, (Ekhad in Hebrew, not Akhat, but Heis in Greek rather than Hen).

This seems to imply that both writings wanted to emphasize that there is just one God in number.

Proposed Interpretation:

The plain meaning of Mark doesn't create a contradiction, and is probably right: that Mark agreed with the Septuagint that there is only one God, (in number), that Jesus is not the Most High, and therefore not "Good" in comparison with the Father.

He was asking a "trick question", a contradiction, a paradox:

How can you call me good, if no one but God is good as it says in the Psalms. Are you saying that I am God?

Jesus only issued a question, not a statement of fact.

This illustrates fully well that Jesus was aware of the confusion his relationship to the Father was causing then, and the confusion it would cause in the future. And more importantly, he didn't consider it notable enough to expound on even though he was aware that people would "shut up the kingdom of God" to other people because of it, Matthew 23:13.

In other words, Jesus asked a question, didn't answer it to provoke the arrogant, and challenged them to set aside their traditional interpretations. He did this many times, (most notably in Matthew 9:13 which seems like a direct contradiction to Scripture).

NASB, Matthew 9:13 - But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Therefore, one valid interpretation of this passage is that the dialogue was spoken with the intent of being a stumbling block, asking a rhetorical question that has no valid answer according to any traditions.

  • @ThomasPearne - Edited, sorry for the misunderstanding. Added: "If Jesus is Good, then Mark 10:18 does not violate the Hebrew version of the Shema. If Jesus is not Good (in comparison with the father), then it doesn't violate either the Hebrew or Greek versions." Apr 2, 2020 at 20:13
  • @ThomasPearne - It would not violate the Hebrew version of the Shema. But, it does violate the Greek version. I am sorry I am misunderstanding your question. Apr 2, 2020 at 20:29

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