Mark 7: What Defiles a Man?

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 44–45


Traditions can be an important unifying influence in families and other groups. But when traditions become more important than, or replace, or are out of harmony with gospel principles, then those traditions work against the Lord’s plan of happiness. In New Testament times, certain traditions of the Jews were more important in their religion than the laws of God they were based on. Most of Mark 7 tells what Jesus said and did about some of those traditions of the elders. You may also want to read again the introductions to Matthew 12 and 15 in this study guide (pp. 20, 23) before you read Mark 7.

Other Accounts of What You Read in Mark 7

Mark 7Matthew 15:1–31

Understanding the Scriptures

Mark 7

Howbeit (v. 7)However 
In vain (v. 7)Pointlessly, with no purpose or value 
Suffer (v. 12)Allow 
Ought (v. 12)Anything 
Without (vv. 15, 18)Outside 
Defile (vv. 15, 18, 23)Make a person spiritually unclean 
Perceive (v. 18)Understand 
Goeth out into the draught (v. 19)What is eaten passes through the body and is disposed of 
Covetousness (v. 22)Greedy desire to have more 
Lasciviousness (v. 22)Uncontrolled lusts 
Meet (v. 27)Right or appropriate 
Impediment in his speech (v. 32)Could not speak clearly 

Mark 7:9–12—“It is Corban”

Corban was a term that meant “given to God.” The law of Moses required that children take care of their elderly parents, but a tradition of the elders said that if you had money or other resources you intended to give to God or the temple (corban) then those resources could not be used to support your parents. Men with unrighteous intentions used this tradition of corban to look like they loved God above all others—even family. But, in truth they kept their riches instead of using them to take care of their elderly parents.

Mark 7:26–29—Why did Jesus Refer to the Greek Woman As a Dog?

See “Understanding the Scriptures” for Matthew 15:22–28 (p. 23).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A as you study Mark 7.

Activity A iconMake a Comparison

  1. 1.

    Using what you read in Mark 7:1–23, explain the difference between what the Pharisees considered unclean and what Jesus considered unclean.

  2. 2.

    Read 3 Nephi 27:19–20 and explain why it is important to understand what Jesus said about being clean or unclean and what we must do if we are unclean.