complete verse (Mark 13:9)

Following are a number of back-translations of Mark 13:9:

  • Uma: “‘But you here, watch out! For you will be caught and taken to the religion judges [lit., sitters]. They will beat you in the prayer houses. They will take you up to the governing-ones and kinds because of your following of me. At that time, you will have opportunity to tell them of your faith in me.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “‘You have to take care of yourselves/take care,’ said Isa. ‘For (the) people will hand you over to the judges and they will beat you in the prayer-houses. There is a day in the future, when you will stand before governors and kings because you follow me and you will be able to tell them the good news about me.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “As for you, you must thoroughly prepare your breath, for you will be seized by people, and they will take you to court, and they will beat you in their churches. You will have to come before governors and kings because of your faith in me, so that you might preach to them the good news.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “‘Watch-out, because they will arrest and file-charges-against you and whip you in the many-synagogues. On-account-of your faith in me, you will also be formally-accused before (lit. to) governors and kings, and you will thus have opportunity to tell the good news to them.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Well as for you, you be really careful. Because you will keep having cases brought against you to the authorities. You will keep being caused-suffering in the worship-places. And just because of your following/obeying me, you will be brought before governors and kings, so that you can testify there in their presence.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Mark 13:9


blepete de humeis heautous (cf. v. 5) ‘but you watch out for yourselves.’ The personal pronoun humeis is emphatic (cf. Gould).

paradōsousin (cf. 1.14) ‘they will deliver up to trial.’

eis sunedria kai eis sunagōgas ‘to councils and in synagogues’: the majority of commentators and translations divide these two clauses as does Revised Standard Version, joining ‘to councils’ with the verb ‘deliver up,’ and ‘in synagogues’ with the verb ‘beat.’ Some, however (cf. Gould, Rawlinson) join both clauses to the first verb, thus: ‘they will deliver you up to councils and synagogues,’ and take darēsesthe ‘you shall be beaten’ independently.

sunedria (here only in plural in Mark; in 14.55; 15.1 the singular refers to the Sanhedrin of the Jews in Jerusalem) ‘councils’: the local councils of the various Jewish cities.

sunagōgē (cf. 1.21) ‘synagogue.’

darēsesthe (cf. 12.3) ‘you shall be beaten.’

epi hēgemonōn kai basileōn stathēsesthe ‘before rulers and kings you shall stand.’

epi ‘upon’ means here ‘before,’ in the language of law courts.

hēgemones (only here in Mark) ‘rulers,’ ‘governors’: in the Roman system the word was used of the imperial governors of provinces.

basileis (cf. 6.14) ‘kings’: in a general sense, such as used in 6.14 of Herod Antipas.

histēmi (cf. 3.24) ‘stand’ on trial, in judgment.

heneken (cf. 10.7) ‘on account of,’ ‘because’: in this verse heneken emou is to be understood as ‘on my account,’ ‘because of me,’ and not ‘on my behalf’ (as Revised Standard Version ‘for my sake’ may be understood).

eis marturion autois (cf. 1.44; 6.11) ‘for a witness to them,’ ‘for a testimony before them.’

G. D. Kilpatrick, following earlier suggestions made by Burkitt and Turner, proposes a change in punctuation and re-arrangement of the clauses in vv. 9-11, as follows:
“But take heed to yourselves;
For they will deliver you up to councils and synagogues,
and you will be beaten before governors and kings,
for my sake you will stand for a testimony to them and among all the Gentiles.
The gospel must first be preached, and then when they bring you to trial and deliver you up, etc.”

As seen, the greatest difference between this punctuation and that normally followed, is that v. 10 is so completely altered as to say nothing about the gospel being preached in all nations. The other changes affect in a smaller measure the traditional reading of these verses. Kilpatrick’s proposal has been subjected to analysis and rejected by Austin Farrer.


Take heed to is likely to be mistranslated since in some languages there are two quite different ways of translating such an expression: (1) ‘watch out for,’ in the sense of being solicitous for yourselves and watching out for your own interests, and (2) ‘be aware of the danger to which you will be exposed.’ The latter meaning is, of course, the correct one here, but a number of translations have used the former, with obvious contradiction with what occurs in the following verse.

They is an indefinite subject, meaning ‘persons’ or ‘some people,’ not ‘the people,’ as referring to the masses, who maintained a relative sympathy for the followers of Christ.

Deliver you up is equivalent to ‘hand you over to’ or ‘grab you and turn you over to trial.’

Councils is translatable in Copainalá Zoque as ‘where the rulers are’; in Piro a rather involved term meaning ‘where judgments are heard’ is employed. However, ‘councils,’ whether formal or informal, are known in all societies.

For synagogues see 1.21.

You will be beaten may be made active as ‘they will beat you.’

Governors and kings cannot be easily distinguished in some languages where the different classes of rulers are not parallel to classical usage. However, in some instances governors has been translated as ‘rulers’ (who are appointed by some central government or authority) and ‘chiefs’ (who are hereditary rulers).

Bear testimony may be rendered ‘to tell the truth’ (Barrow Eskimo) or ‘to tell what has happened.’

Quoted with permission from Bratcher, Robert G. and Nida, Eugene A. A Handbook on the Gospel of Mark. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1961. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .