Mark 5:19 – Be a witness first to our family, friends, or people?

A continuation of a further look at Mark 5:19 on the man who was exercised of a legion of demons and had them cast into a heard of pigs (swine). Did Jesus tell the healed man to return and give witness of Jesus Christ to his family, friends, or to his own people?

Mark 5:19 says: “But Jesus would not let him. Instead, he told him, “Go back home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how kind he has been to you.” (Good News)

NLT, Amplified, Douay-Rheims:  uses “family
NIV, ESV/RSV/NRSV, N/KJV: uses “friends
CEB, CSB, NJB, NET: uses “your [own] people

Which is correct? One biblical commentary states: “Jesus refused the man permission to accompany him, but instructed him to return to the circle of family [Mark’s phrase τοὺς σούς may well include a circle wider than the man’s family, but there can be no doubt that the family was at the center of that circle.”  (William L. Lane, NICNT).

Another states: “To your people” (πρὸς τοὺς σούς), unique to the NT, has been taken narrowly by some to mean “your family” … But most take this to refer more broadly to “the people of your area” (R.A. Guelich, Word/ WBC).

In terms of biblical theology, either interpretation would not have any implications; but it would in terms of evangelism.  Do we go and bring our witness of Christ to our family first, or friends first, or our own ethnic people?  Obviously, we should evangelize everyone, but if I were this man healed of demon possession, I would want to tell my family first, then everyone else.

Broken relationships and demon possession

In Mark ch. 5, Jesus cast out a legion of demons and allowed them to enter violently into a heard of pigs.  After he was freed from demons, Jesus told him:

Go back home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how kind he has been to you (Mk. 5:19, GNT).

Some believe this man formerly had a broken relationship with his family, people, or friends and his bitterness, anger and brokenness became a key to an open doorway that led to demonic possession.  Can broken relationships cause a spiritual disorder in people?  Not necessarily, but I believe it potentially can.  When people experience deep distress and trauma due to broken relationships, bitterness, anger, depression, etc., can take over their lives. If they do not deal with their brokenness, it can become a doorway for the evil one to enter in, resulting in demonic depression, oppression or even eventually possession. We don’t talk much about demonic possession much in church today. As Christians, we desire God’s will for unity in the Church, in our communities, in our families, and in our relationships.  The devil aims to cause disruption, dissensions, disunity, and will go as far to cause hate, if possible.  We pray against this spiritual darkness pray for the peace of Christ to bring harmony and love.
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I recently watched this on YouTube: A Roman Catholic priest and an experienced and knowledgable exorcist, Fr. Vince Lampert, said the man in Mark 5:19 resulted because he had a broken family relationship that enabled the devil into his life.  It’s a very interesting and educational presentation on casting out demons. Stuff we rarely hear about in the Church today.