What can you do on the Sabbath? (Mk 3:3-3:4)

“Jesus said to the man

Who had the withered hand.

‘Come here!’

Then he said to them.

‘Is it lawful

To do good

Or to do harm,

On the Sabbath?

Is it lawful

To save life

Or to kill?’

But they were silent.”


καὶ λέγει τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ τῷ τὴν χεῖρα ἔχοντι ξηράν Ἔγειρε εἰς τὸ μέσον.

καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Ἔξεστιν τοῖς σάββασιν ἀγαθὸν ποιῆσαι ἢ κακοποιῆσαι, ψυχὴν σῶσαι ἢ ἀποκτεῖναι; οἱ δὲ ἐσιώπων.


This is similar to Luke, chapter 6:8-9, while Matthew, chapter 12:11-12, had Jesus go on to talk about saving lost sheep on the Sabbath.  Mark indicated that Jesus said to the man with the withered hand (καὶ λέγει τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ τῷ τὴν χεῖρα ἔχοντι ξηράν) to come to him (Ἔγειρε εἰς τὸ μέσον).  Then he asked “them” (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς) if it was lawful to do good or harm or evil, on the Sabbath (Ἔξεστιν τοῖς σάββασιν ἀγαθὸν ποιῆσαι ἢ κακοποιῆσαι)?  Was it lawful to save life or kill on the Sabbath (ψυχὴν σῶσαι ἢ ἀποκτεῖναι)?  However, the “they” were silent (οἱ δὲ ἐσιώπων).  Jesus wanted to know what were the exceptions to the Sabbath restrictions.