Who was the greatest? (Mk 9:34-9:34)

“But they were silent,

On the way,

They had argued

With one another about

Who was the greatest.”

 

οἱ δὲ ἐσιώπων· πρὸς ἀλλήλους γὰρ διελέχθησαν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ τίς μείζων.

 

This question about the greatest can also be found in Matthew, chapter 18:1, and Luke, chapter 9:46, with some minor changes.  The disciples of Jesus seemed to be arguing among themselves about who was the greatest.  Instead of coming to Jesus, as in Matthew, Mark had Jesus come to the disciples.  They were silent (οἱ δὲ ἐσιώπων), when Jesus asked them what they were talking about on their travels.  In fact, they had been arguing or discussing among themselves (πρὸς ἀλλήλους γὰρ διελέχθησαν) on the way there (ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ) who was the greatest (τίς μείζων).  Mark never mentioned the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, but just the greatest in general.  The late Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) always proclaimed that he was the greatest, without indicating what he was the greatest at.  They were looking for some sort of status.  After all, they were the important disciples of Jesus.