These small group studies of the gospel of Mark contain outlines, commentary, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Mark 9:9-32 Bible Study Guide – Verse By Verse Commentary


I. Elijah must come first (9-13)
II. Jesus casts a demon out when His disciples couldn’t (14-29)
III. Jesus tells the disciples He will die and rise again (30-32)

I. Verses 9-13 Discussion Questions

Why did Jesus not want them to tell others about the transfiguration?

What is the title used for Jesus in verse 9? (Son of Man) What does this title emphasize?

Why could the disciples not understand what Jesus meant when He told them He would rise from the dead?

How would you answer their question in verse 11?

Did Elijah come to prepare the way for Jesus?

Was John the Baptist Elijah?

What is Jesus’ point in the latter part of verse 12?


Malachi 4:5-6 – Elijah would come before the great and terrible day of the Lord.

Luke 1:17 – He will go before them in the spirit and power of Elijah.

Matthew 11:7-14 – About Elijah and John the Baptist.

Psalms 22:6 and Isaiah 53 – Passages on the Messiah’s suffering.

Verse by Verse Commentary

He gave them orders not to relate what they had seen. It was not the right time to talk about Jesus’ transfiguration. Jesus had a specific plan for what He wanted to reveal and when. Too early and it could stir up too much opposition from the religious leaders and/or too many of the common people trying to anoint Him as a King and Rome killer.

Until the Son of Man – The title Son of Man is one that Jesus often used for Himself. It highlights His humanity and His role as the representative of the human race. See Romans 5:12-21. As the representative of all people Adam brought sin into the world. And Jesus likewise solved the problem of sin for all humanity. This is an interesting time to use the phrase. It is right after Jesus reveals His divinity to them during the transfiguration. They were terrified when Jesus showed His glory. It is almost as if Jesus is reminding them not to fear because He is a person too. Throughout the gospels we see both Jesus’ divinity and His humanity. Focusing on either one to the exclusion of the other would be a mistake.

Rose from the dead – This is the second time in as many chapters Jesus started telling them about what was going to happen to Him. They could not fathom it. In fact, the phrase seems pretty self-explanatory. But Jesus often used parables. So it seems that the disciples thought that Jesus must be using a parable here and they could not figure out what symbol “rise from the dead” was. But in fact, it was not figurative, but literal.

Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first? See Malachi 4:5-6. This was a well-known prophecy. What the scribes couldn’t see is that the Messiah’s coming was split into two distinct parts and Elijah would come before the second coming, which is referred to as the great and terrible day of the Lord.

Jesus’ Answer – Basically Jesus said that the prophecy is true and Elijah does come first.

On John the Baptist and Elijah (John the Baptist’s ministry)- Mal 3:1, 4:5-6, Matthew 11:13-14, John 1:19-21, Luke 1:134-17, Matthew 17:3, 2 Kings 2:1, 11 – Conclusion – John came in the spirit of Elijah and has many similarities as a lone, bold truth-speaker. His ministry function was similar to Elijah’s and was blessed in a similar way to Elijah’s. But since the Bible does not teach reincarnation, we can conclude that he was not Elijah, but that Elijah will still come back as himself before the dreadful day of the Lord seen in Malachi 4:5-6. Jesus’ coming was split into parts and Elijah’s is in a way as well. His first coming is a figurative coming which John the Baptist fulfilled by modeling his ministry and teaching with the same bold, frank truth. The second time he will still come physically.

However, Jesus doesn’t just focus on answering the question. Like He does so many times, He asks another question in return asking how they don’t realize that the Messiah must suffer. In other words, they picked and chose which prophecies to pay attention to and which to ignore depending on which they liked they best. Elijah was a famous prophet and well-respected. It is natural that they would have been excited to see Elijah come again. Yet they wanted the Messiah to come in power and glory and free them from the Romans and set up a great Jewish Empire which would rule the world. The prophecies of the Messiah suffering and being treated with contempt didn’t fit with that narrative. They made them uncomfortable and they couldn’t understand it. So it was easier to just ignore those. Do we do the same thing? We do. Sometimes we too pick and choose what we like from the Bible. We have certain “pet peeves” which we hang onto and talk about again and again. Other parts may make us feel uncomfortable. Or perhaps we know that we are not following some part. So maybe we skip over it or pay little attention to it. See John 10:35. Not one word of the Bible will be broken. Every book, chapter, verse, sentence, and word is from God. We cannot selectively choose which parts to obey, but need to obey all.

II. Verses 14-29 Discussion Questions

What were the scribes arguing with the disciples about?

What was the problem with the boy?

Why did Jesus rebuke them?

What did the man request of Jesus? Did his request show faith?

How did Jesus respond to his request? What does the part mean “all things are possible to him who believes?”

What do we learn about Jesus from this passage?

What do we learn about people from this passage?

Is there anything we need to do/obey?

Why were the disciples unsuccessful? Will a lack of prayer make us unsucessful in other areas? What should you do to put this principle into practice?

Verse by Verse Commentary – 14-29

Of course the scribes were arguing with the disciples. That is just what they do. Some people are just like that. Have you ever met someone that just likes to argue? Generally speaking it is better not to engage them since people that like to argue are not teachable and will just argue with whatever we say anyway.

Verse 18 – This seems to be an especially evil demon (if that is even possible). You can see here the destructive and evil nature of Satan and his demons. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of purpose or a lot of strategy (beyond perhaps embarrassing the disciples). It possessed this boy from childhood. It seems to enjoy violence just for the sake of violence. This is the worst kind of evil. The disciples had learned a lot, but it seems they were not equipped to deal with a problem of this magnitude.

Verse 19 – Oh unbelieving generation. Jesus looked straight to the heart of the problem. The issue was a lack of faith. People by themselves are always too weak to stand up against Satan and his demons. We just don’t have it in us. The only way to have victory over these powers of darkness is to beseech the Lord for His help. When we are weak, He is strong. We saw Eve try to debate Satan with her own strength. It didn’t work. We saw Samson try to fight the Philistines with his own strength. It didn’t work. We saw the Israelites try to enter the Promised Land on their strength. It didn’t work. Gideon, Joshua, and Daniel are just some who had success because of their faith in God and not in themselves. If you were to write down the recipe for victory on a piece of paper, it would be “FAITH.” Without it we don’t stand a chance.

Verses 20-22 – The demon was evil and destructive almost beyond imagination. It seems he delighted in tormenting one of God’s creation and by extension his entire family.
If you can do anything – The man does ask Jesus for help. Yet is not an extremely confident request. It seems to be a request motivated out of desperation. The father had likely tried every kind of way before from doctors to priests. Obviously nothing had worked. This was beyond his power or in fact the power of any person.

Verse 23 – Jesus gives him a slight rebuke for his lack of faith, but only a slight one. He doesn’t refuse to cast the demon out because of the father’s tepid faith. The father’s faith was very little, but he did have some because he asked. If he thought there was no possible way, he wouldn’t have even asked. Jesus responded to this tiny mustard seed of faith and reminded all the people who were watching of the importance of faith.

Verse 24 – This man’s response is easy to identify with. Did you ever feel like that before? Sometimes we believe, but not strongly enough. Sometimes our belief is mixed with a seed of doubt. What should you do when your faith is weak? This man actually gave us a good example of what to do when our faith is lacking and that is ask the Lord to strengthen our faith. How can we seek to strengthen our faith?

Verse 25-27 – Jesus demonstrates His complete power over even the worst evil forces. These verses alone should build up our faith. We are on His team! He will use His power on our behalf if we ask Him to.

Verses 28-29 – Why we could not drive it out? The disciples did not use the right method. This shows that there are different types of demons. Apparently some are weaker and easier to beat. Perhaps they get scared at even the mention of God’s name. This one was of a tougher lot. He wouldn’t come out unless he absolutely had to. And the disciples could not make him. The only way to make the demon come out was to pray for God’s help because He is the only powerful enough to do it.

Application: Did you face any situations like this? What can we do when it seems we can’t do anything? What should do when we are not strong enough? What should we do when we think we are strong enough? How can we make sure that we are relying on God when we face problems, decisions, temptations and trials?
III. Verses 30-32

Discussion Questions

How many times did Jesus bring up His death and resurrection in the past couple of chapters?

Why do you think He kept mentioning it again and again?

After the third time, the disciples got it, right?

STUDY MARK 10:1-10
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