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Mark 10:46: Where Was Jesus, and How Many Were Blind?

2015.10.08 Bartimaeus - Mark 10.46The first question concerns Jesus’ whereabouts related to the healing of blindness in Matthew 20:29–34, Mark 10:46–52, and Luke 18:35–43. In Mark 10:46, Jesus enters and then leaves Jericho: “And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho…” (Mark 10:46). Matthew’s parallel only speaks of Jesus’ leaving: “as they went out of Jericho” (Matt 20:29). Luke, however, appears to have Jesus entering Jericho: “As he drew near to Jericho” (Luke 18:35). Is Jesus coming or going from Jericho when He healed the blind?

The answer could very well be that the healing took place as He was leaving (as recorded in Mark 10:46 and Matt 20:29) and that “he drew near” in Luke 18:35 could actually be translated “when he was in the vicinity of Jericho.” The verb (engizō) translated in the ESV as “he drew near” would then be indicating Jesus’ location and not referring to movement. An example of how this verb could function this way is found just afterward in Luke 18:40. After a verb of motion (“Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him”), then the blind man was indicated to be near Jesus with the same verb in question in Luke 18:35. Thus, Luke 18:40 could be translated “when he was near” instead of “when he came near.” Adding “came” gives the notion of movement, which has already been indicated with another verb. Just as the blind man was said to be near Jesus in Luke 18:40, so also Jesus is said to be near Jericho in Luke 18:35.1

It is a bit easier to identify how many men Jesus healed. Matt 20:29–34 records two men being healed, and both Mark 10:46–52 and Luke 18:35–43 record the healing of one. It is not incorrect for Mark and Luke to say that a man was healed of blindness. They simply chose not to report that another was healed as well. Had they added a qualifier such as the word only and said only one man had been healed, then we would have a problem. Mark and Luke simply record the healing of one man for their distinct purposes in writing their Gospels.

About David Huffstutler

David pastors First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, serves as a chaplain for his local police department, and teaches as adjunct faculty at Bob Jones University. David holds a Ph. D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His concentration in Christian Leadership focuses his contributions to pastoral and practical theology.

  1. This paragraph summarizes a primary argument in Stanley E. Porter, “‘In the Vicinity of Jericho’: Luke 18:35 in the Light of its Synoptic Parallels’,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 2 (1992): 91–104. This article is available online: https://www.ibr-bbr.org/files/bbr/BBR-1992_06_Porter_JerichoLuke18.pdf. For a summary of all passages together, see Darrell L. Bock, Jesus According to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 309–10. []