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And he, being moved with compassion, stretched out his hand and touched him, and says to him, “I want to. Be clean!” Bible

“touched.” The Greek verb is haptō (#681 ἅπτω), a word that has two distinct meanings. It properly means “to fasten to, make adhere to; hence, specifically to fasten fire to a thing, to kindle, set on fire, (often so in Attic Greek); cp. Luke 8:16; 11:33; 15:8. However, when it is used in the middle voice (haptomai; #680 ἅπτομαι) it means “to make close contact with,” and has a very wide range of applications. It can mean, touch, take hold of, hold; cling to; to have contact with, or partake of something with cultic implications, (often used of touching as a means of conveying a blessing or “touching” or partaking of an unclean thing, including eating, almost like we would say, “you have not touched your food”); it can be used almost idiomatically for intimate touch, sexual contact (1 Cor. 7:1; we use “touch” the same way today); and it can be used for contact with someone with a view to causing harm, i.e., injure (Job 5:19 LXX, “no evil shall touch you.”) (BDAG; Thayer).

In this verse, there is little doubt that Jesus did more than just make a light physical contact with the leper. He would have at the very least placed his hands on him as any priest or healer would do to convey a blessing. He may have even gone so far as to hug the leper, but that is less probable, especially given the culture and cultural expectations of both the leper and the people.

On a lexical note, there is some confusion that can occur when studying haptō because most lexicographers recognize it as one Greek verb that has different definitions in different voices, something not uncommon. Nevertheless, James Strong, author of Strong’s concordance, assigned a different Strong’s number to haptomai, the middle voice of the verb. Thus there appears to be two words in Strong’s Concordance and The Englishman’s Greek Concordance, but only one word in Thayer and most other Greek lexicons.


Commentary for: Mark 1:41