Friday, October 16, 2015

Do Not Defraud: Mark 10:19

In Mark 10:19, Jesus gives a list of commandments to the man who has approached him seeking eternal life:

"You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 
It is a list that is probably very familiar, and comes from Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy five, the famous "10 Commandments."  Now, as is often the case with lists, especially lists that we have heard often, we tend not to listen to the details because we think that we know the contents.  But, Mark has done something interesting here that I had never noticed until we discussed the passage at depth in a Sunday School class this past week.  Mark lists six commands.  From the 10 commandments, he has omitted numbers 1-4 (No other gods, no idols, name of the Lord in vain, and Sabbath), and number 10 (do not covet).  So, he has omitted five, but he has given six.  So, which one of those do not appear in the famous "10"?  That would be "You shall not defraud." So, why is it here in this list?  A quick perusal of the commentaries on my shelf yielded no "aha" moments.

Matthew and Luke have parallel stories, but neither include the command not to defraud.

The word for defraud is a rare word in the New Testament, only being used five other times in the new testament.  In three of those five usages it refers to financial transactions.  In James it is used to refer to an employer who withholds his workers wages (James 5:4).  In I Corinthians 6, the word is used in conjunction with lawsuits that believers are bringing against one another and defrauding one another (I Cor. 6:7-8).

One quick thought I had was that Mark has put this command there on purpose because it deals directly with the specific problem of this man.  Perhaps he is particularly prone to defraud others as a means of accumulating his wealth.  Perhaps he is using his wealth to defraud others.  Therefore Mark has placed this command not to defraud right alongside the more famous commands from the "10." Just a thought.  What do you think?  I would love any other thoughts about Mark's inclusion of this command.

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