Mark 10:34 ESV

"And they will mock him and spit on him and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise". [My emphasis]

Here the act of killing is performed by "they". Whether "they" are the chief priests, the scribes or the Gentiles [Mark 10:33], either way they are created human beings, plural ie: more than one of them.

In John 10:17-18 we do not read that people killed Jesus but:

"....I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord..".

What does "they will...kill him" mean in Mark 10:34 in view of John 10:17-18, where Jesus says that he lays down his own life, and lays it down of himself?

7 Answers 7


The wording is such that the same persons are they who 'mock' 'spit' 'flog' and 'kill'.

True, of course, that some (or many) will agree with such action or be indifferent but the forensic accuracy regards the individual, local actions not the corporate and disparate agreement.

The verb is ἀποκτείνω Strong 615 which means 'put to death'.

It is the act (if lawful) or crime (if unlawful) of homicide which may, or may not, be successful.

The meaning does not convey a death, as such, but rather the intention of the perpetrator.

It is a matter of culpability, not efficiency.

It is quite clear from all the documental evidence that Jesus yielded up his life, before the soldiery had the authority (and therefore opportunity) to break his legs (or, in his case, thrust a lance into his side) and he thus 'expired'.

This was a voluntary sacrifice.

Edit Regarding Comment :

Liddell & Scott 1854 (Special American Edition) p805 κτεινω also of the mere wish or intention to kill Odyssey 9, 408 Schaf. Soph. O.C.993, Aj 1126.

The person who uttered the referenced verse also used similar concept and language when he told us that 'he that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery already in his heart' and similar sentiments are expressed by John 'he that hateth his brother is a murderer', 1 John 3:15.

So that not only in regard to grammar and vocabulary but in regard to the way in which Jesus and John worded their sayings, can it be seen what Jesus' meaning is in the referenced verse.

  • 1
    It seems to me that you're building your argument on intuitions about the meaning of "put" that simply aren't present in the Greek word. You'll note in the link you provided that "kill" is by far the most common translation in the NASB (68 out of 74), and that most translations with "put to death" include a verb of wishing, e.g. θέλω, βούλομαι, etc. Can you find any example (besides the one in dispute here) where ἀποκτείνω (unqualified by other verbs) refers to an unsuccessful act of killing, e.g. "they condemned him to death but he didn't die"?
    – brianpck
    Commented Jan 16 at 13:11
  • The reference to Oedipus at Colonus is quite helpful, though I have trouble squaring it with the Ajax reference: "Menelaus: What, is it right that the man who murdered [κτείναντά] me should prosper? Teucer: Murdered you [κτείναντα]? It is truly a strange happening, if in fact you live after being killed." I think we'll have to agree to disagree about whether this usage of κτείνω is the relevant sense of ἀποκτείνω in Mk 10:34. Regarding your final admonition: an important role of comments is to ask for clarification of unsupported claims. The intervention was kindly meant.
    – brianpck
    Commented Jan 16 at 15:35
  • I have no response to make to the comments made. I have added an edit to further support my answer.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 1 at 12:27

In Mark 10:33-34, Jesus prophesied about His crucifixion. However, no one could kill Jesus unless He laid down His own life (John 10-17-18).

In John 19:9-11, there is a dialogue between Potius Pilate and Jesus;

9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer.

10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

Jesus died in submission to His Father's will. Without the authority from above, no one can harm Jesus.

  • Excellent point in regard to Jesus' testimony to Pilate. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 16 at 11:47

The references quoted by the OP are part of a larger number of such statements by Jesus that He would be killed - see appendix below.

The OP's question, in view of John 2:19-21, 10:17, 18, Phil 2:6-8 (where Jesus voluntarily lays down His life) actually boils down to this question, asked many times by many people over the last two millennia and about which many books have been written:

Who killed Jesus - Pilate, Roman soldiers, Jews, or sinners generally?

Based on the NT evidence, I would suggest the following (there is no simple answer to this question)

  • Satan motivated Judas (and presumably the Jewish leadership) to want to have Jesus killed, Luke 22:3, John 13:27
  • Judas betrayed Jesus to the Jewish authorities, John 18:1-10
  • Jewish leadership desperately wanted Jesus dead and then manipulated Pilate into issuing the death warrant despite his reluctance to do so
  • Pilate issued the death warrant
  • Roman soldiers carried out their orders to execute Jesus
  • Jesus allowed Himself to be killed for the sake of the sin of the world, John 1:29, 3:16, etc
  • However, to prove that He had power over death (1 Cor 15:50-55), Jesus raised Himself from the dead, John 2:19-21, 10:17, 18 along with the Father (• Rom 6:4, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:17-20) and the Holy Spirit (Rom 1:4 & 8:11, 1 Peter 3:18)

More than this we cannot say.

APPENDIX - Jesus' Prophecies of His death

  • Matt 16:21 - and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
  • Matt 17:23 - They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.
  • Matt 20:19 - and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!
  • Mark 9:31 - They will kill him, but on the third day he will come back to life.
  • Mark 10:34 - who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.
  • Luke 18:33 - they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.
  • Luke 9:22 - The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

The OP asks: What does "they will...kill him" mean in Mark 10:34 in view of John 10:17-18, where Jesus says that he lays down his own life, and lays it down of himself?

Mark is written with what theologians call a relatively "low" Christology, in which the humanity of Jesus is emphasized. John comes from the opposite perspective: a high Christology in which Jesus is the Word made flesh. A good example of this is Mark's treatment of Jesus' suffering in Gethsemane, where Jesus begs "Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me." (Nark 14:36) Compare this with John's omission of this scene, reporting Jesus as praying at the Last Supper: “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you."

Another example of Mark's low Christology as contrasted with John's high Christology is found in Jesus last words:

  • Jesus cried out in a loud voice... “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”... He uttered a loud cry and gave up the ghost. (Mark 15:34-37)

  • When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost. (John 19:39)

Conclusion: Mark 10:34 and John 10:17-18 constitute another example of Mark's Christology from "below" and John's Christology from "above." Mark portrays Jesus as predicting the future in terms of tragedy leading to victory. John portrays him as the incarnation of the Word who is beyond human temporal drama.

  • Mark tells us, in his opening remarks, what the content of his book is about. It is about the Messenger of the Covenant, see Malachi 3. Thus the wording of 'Eloi, Eloi' is in Aramaic, the actual dialect of the speaker - the one who speaks the covenant.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 16 at 11:50
  • @Dan Fefferman Your quoting "..why have you forsaken me" the reason being the sin of the world, man's sin. Causes separation from the Father, causes broken heart evidenced through coagulation of red blood corpuscles. Thus our sin caused Jesus to dismiss his spirit.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Jan 16 at 14:52

The "they" are the Jewish leaders: "the Son of Man shall be betrayed to the chief priests, and to the scribes and elders, and they shall...":

Mark 10:33-34 Saying: Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be betrayed to the chief priests, and to the scribes and ancients, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles. 34 And they shall mock him, and spit on him, and scourge him, and kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.

The Jews intended to murder Christ, but Christ intended it as an offering of suffering to the Father for our sins.

Genesis 50:20 You intended evil against me: but God turned it into good, that he might exalt me, as at present you see, and might save many people.

Although the Jews (by the hands of the Romans, who wanted to release Christ — Acts 3:13; John 19:12) murdered Christ, and God turns it to good, it does not acquit His murderers of their sin of murder, simply because God did so.

St. Paul argues the very same thing when he says that some people falsely claim that since the justice of God in condemning sinners is good itself, therefore it can be good to sin to bring about good (Romans 3:5-8). No—God is still good for being just in condemning sin or bringing good from it, while the sinners themselves are personally guilty of the crimes God turns to good. After all, as Paul says, God would be unjust for condemning anyone, were that the case (Romans 3:5).

Jesus means that whatever is a free submission on His part is more truly considered a "giving," than a "taking."

A "taking" of Jesus' life would be a scenario in which Jesus could not have avoided His death — whereas He could have.

John 10:18 No man taketh it away from me: but I lay it down of myself, and I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Matthew 26:52-53 Then Jesus saith to him: Put up again thy sword into its place: for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot ask my Father, and he will give me presently more than twelve legions of angels?

If Jesus, "lays down his life as an offering for sin" (Isaiah 53:10), then it is more of a "giving" or offering, all things considered, than a "taking," despite the intentions of His murderers.

The two are not mutually exclusive - His giving, and their thinking they are taking.


Taken on its own, that Jesus says he is killed in Mark 10:34 does not detract from the voluntary character of his passion and death.

Mark 14:36 ESV

And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

That said, the OP asks, “What does ‘they will...kill him’ mean in Mark 10:34 in view of John 10:17-18, where Jesus says that he lays down his own life, and lays it down of himself?” Reflecting on this question, I first considered whether Mk 10:34 and Jn 10:17 refer to the same event. In other words, is the event of Jesus’ being killed in Mk 10:34 the same as that of his laying down his life in Jn 10:17? Based on how the verbs are declined in each verse, I conclude that the answer is no, or rather, Mk 10:34 is but a small fraction of a much larger equation.

In Mark 10:34, the verb rendered as “kill” is in the future tense, indicative mood, signifying an event that will happen in the future.

Mark 10:34 ESV

And they will mock him and spit on him and flog him and kill him.

On the other hand, the verb rendered as “lay down” in Jn 10:17 is in the present tense, indicative mood. “When used in the indicative mood, the present tense denotes action taking place or going on in the present time” (“Greek Verbs,” ntgreek.org). The action of the verb “lay down” is therefore one that is already in progress at the time Jesus is speaking in Jn 10:17.

In John 10:17

I lay down my life that I may take it up again.

Based on the present indicative of “lay down,” Jn 10:17 is understood as referencing Jesus’ laying down of his life in coming into the world (cf Jn 3:13, Jn 6:38, Jn 8:58). The action of the verb “lay down” is therefore ongoing as long as he remains in the world, culminating at the point when he lays down his life as a propitiation for the sins of humanity (cf 2 Cor 5:21, with Jesus’ being made to be sin seen as the ultimate laying down of his life).

While an analysis of the concept of life as used in reference to Jesus Christ is beyond the scope of the OP’s question, I believe that the word life in Jn 10:17 encompasses much more than what is in view in Mk 10:34. Based on the above discussion, the words “they will…kill him” are understood to have a much narrower application, referencing only the termination of Jesus’ physical life on earth (cf 1 Pet 3:8, see Barnes commentary regarding “being put to death in the flesh”). In its fullest sense, Jesus’ life is something that he alone can offer (Jn 10:18), and it is in the voluntary giving of it that he is loved by the Father (Jn 10:17).


Just because John 10:17-18 says that Jesus laid down his own life, doesn't mean he wasn't killed by the Jews. He laid down his life in the sense that, he knew the Jews would kill him for preaching the truth, so he continued to preach the truth and they killed him.

It's similar to the idea of a soldier going and dying for his country in war. He might've been killed by the enemy, but we would still say he died for his country.

Of course, the case of Jesus laying down his life for us is more nuanced, but the concept still applies. You can say Jesus laid down his life for us and he was killed.

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    – C. Stroud
    Commented Jan 16 at 18:12

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