Mark 6:7-29 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. When King Herod hears about the ministry being carried on by Jesus through His disciples, what does he think? See Mark 6:14-16 (printed below)

Now King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well-known. Some people were saying, John the Baptizer has risen from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him. (15) But others said, It is Elijah. Still others said, It is a prophet, just like one of the prophets of old. (16) But Herod, when he heard about it, said, John—whom I beheaded—he is risen. (Mark 6:14-16)

Herod is convinced that this ministry is being performed by John the Baptist who has been raised from the dead. Apparently, Herod was troubled by a guilty conscience; when he insists that John has been raised from the dead he confesses that he had beheaded John.

2. What was the reason for John’s imprisonment and eventual execution? See Mark 6:17-19a (printed below)

Now Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested. He had him chained in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, for he had married her. (18) John was telling Herod, It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife. (19) So Herodias set herself against John, and desired to kill him. (Mark 6:17-19a)

John continued to confront Herod with the fact that it was unlawful for him to be married to Herodias, his brother’s wife. Consequently, Herodias set herself in opposition to John and sought to get rid of him. Notice that John was preaching that public officials are responsible to obey the law of God in their private lives as well as in their public duties.

3. Describe Herod’s relationship with John. See Mark 6:20 (printed below)

Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, so he kept him safe. Whenever Herod heard John preach, he was very perplexed; but, nevertheless, he heard him gladly. (Mark 6:20)

Herod feared John. He discerned that John was a righteous and holy man; therefore, he protected him from Herodias’ malicious intentions. Whenever Herod heard John preach, he was very perplexed, because John’s preaching pricked his conscience. Yet, at the same time, Herod enjoyed hearing John. Although Herod was convicted by the truth, he was also attracted to the truth.

4. Describe the circumstances that led to John’s execution. See Mark 6:21-25 (printed below)

Finally an opportune time came, when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. (22) On this occasion the daughter of Herodias came in and danced. She pleased Herod and those who sat at dinner with him; therefore the king said to the young girl, Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you. (23) He swore to her, Whatever you shall ask I will give you, even as much as half of my kingdom. (24) So she went out, and asked her mother, What shall I request? And she said, Ask for the head of John the Baptizer. (25) Then she immediately hurried back to the king and made the request, I ask that you give me without delay the head of John the Baptist on a platter. (Mark 6:21-25)

Herodias’ daughter performed a very provocative dance at Herod’s birthday party. Herod enjoyed her lewd performance so much that he rashly offered to reward her with anything she might request, up to half his kingdom. Seizing this occasion, Herodias instructed her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist.

5. Why did Herod comply with the girl’s request? See Mark 6:26 (printed below)

Now the king was greatly distressed; but, because of his oaths and because of those who were present at dinner, he would not deny her request. (Mark 6:26)

Although he was greatly distressed by the request for John’s head, Herod granted it “because of his oaths and because of those who were present at the dinner.” In other words, in order not to lose face by going back on his word in front of all his influential guests, Herod gave the order for John to be beheaded. Thus it was Herod’s pride, following upon his initial rashness, that led to John’s execution.