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Go to Bible: Mark 2
 
Mar 2:1

“at home.” The Greek phrase is en oikos, and it does not mean “in a house” or “in the house,” as if it was Peter’s house. The phrases en oikos and eis oikos (Mark 3:20) are standard Greek phrases or idioms equivalent to our “at home.” Jesus moved to Capernaum after the people of his hometown, Nazareth, tried to kill him (Luke 4:29-31; cp. Matt. 4:13). Jesus either bought or rented a house in Capernaum, because John 2:12 indicates he even moved his family there. Shortly after Jesus moved to Capernaum, it became known as his “own city” (Matt. 9:1).

According to Mark 2:1, Jesus was “at home” when the people crowded his house to such a degree that men had to let a paralyzed man down through the roof (2:4). This was one of the times that the amazing love and compassion that Jesus had for people was clearly visible, because he was much more concerned about the man and amazed by the trust in God those men had than he was concerned about any damage that was done to his house, which was no doubt repaired reasonably quickly.

One of the reasons Jesus likely picked to move to Capernaum was that it was on the Via Maris, the “Road of the Sea,” which was the great trade route from Egypt in the south to Damascus in Syria and on to Mesopotamia (see commentary on Matt. 4:15). The fact that the Via Maris passed by Capernaum helps explain why that city had a centurion living there (Matt. 8:5ff; Luke 7:3ff), which meant having Roman troops stationed in town, and that it had a tollhouse and tax collectors like Matthew so revenue could be collected from the passing caravans (Mark. 2:14). Capernaum was thus a cosmopolitan town with much commerce and opportunity. No wonder, Jesus was so disappointed at the overall reception he got in Capernaum, despite the fact the people were so proud of their town and Jesus referred to it as “exalted.” It was a town with lots of people, yet such a small group of them really believed. Thus he said, “And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the grave, for if the mighty works had been done in Sodom that were done in you, it would have remained until this day.”

Jesus Christ chose Capernaum to be his home town after he left Nazareth; he chose a cosmopolitan town where there would be plenty of opportunity to share the Word and reach others, locals as well as people traveling through the town, and also the opportunity for others to more easily reach him.

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Mar 2:2(top)
Mar 2:3

“bringing to him a paralyzed man.” This record of the healing of the paralyzed man occurs in Matthew 9:2-8; Mark 2:3-12; and Luke 5:18-26.

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Mar 2:4

“uncovered the roof.” The literal Greek is “they unroofed the roof.” This record contains an unspoken lesson in ministry and life that is important to learn. Jesus was teaching the Word of God to the crowd, as Mark 2:2 says. He was interrupted by this man and his friends who very badly wanted the man healed. The word of God does not tell us about what Jesus was teaching, it tells us about him being interrupted and changing direction to take care of the man and teach the crowd and Pharisees about what is really important and about his authority on earth. The unspoken lesson has to do with interruptions. Although we generally do not like to be interrupted from something we are doing, we should look to see if there is an opportunity to do God’s work when we are interrupted, rather than just being annoyed or always assuming that interruptions are from the Devil.

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Mar 2:5(top)
Mar 2:6(top)
Mar 2:7

“He speaks defaming words.” The Greek verb blasphēmeō (#987 βλασφημέω) is transliterated (not translated) from the Greek into English as “blasphemy.” In English, “blasphemy” is only used in reference to God. However, in Greek, blasphēmeō and blasphēmia (the noun) did not have to refer to God or a god, although they could, but were common words that were used of someone speaking against another. The primary meanings were showing disrespect to a person or deity, and/or harming his, her, or its reputation. In this case, the religious leaders thought it was insulting to God’s reputation that Jesus would forgive sins. [For more information on blasphēmeō, see commentary on Matt. 9:3].

“Who is able to forgive sins but God alone?” The religious leaders thought that by forgiving sins, Jesus was harming the reputation of God, because they thought that only God was able to forgive sins. But the Bible never says that only God can forgive sins. The rabbis taught that, but that does not make it true: it was just their tradition. In truth, only God can forgive sins, but God’s representatives, to whom God delegates the authority to forgive sins, can forgive them, or more accurately, declare that they are forgiven if they get the revelation to make that declaration.

The religious leaders were used to prophets speaking for God, but not forgiving sins, although they should have been open to that. Nathan came very close when he said to David, “Yahweh also has put away your sin” (2 Sam. 12:13). Actually, given the author/agent aspect of the Hebrew language and culture, acting on revelation from God, Nathan could have said, “Your sin has been forgiven.” It should be especially clear to us that God delegated to Jesus the authority to forgive sins, because Jesus taught that very explicitly. “For the Father does not judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to the Son….I am not able to do anything on my own. As I hear, I judge. And my judgment is righteous because I do not seek my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (John 5:22, 30). Note that Jesus could forgive sins against God, but it was only “as he heard” from God, and born-again children of God have that same privilege today.

Forgiving sins, or knowing that one’s sins have been forgiven, is essential to having a peaceful life. Great anxiety, and both mental and physical sickness, can come from feeling unforgiven and in danger of judgment. Jesus knew that, and loved the man in the record and told him his sins were forgiven, which opened the door for the man to be healed. Experience tells us that many times people are not healed because they do not think they are forgiven, or they do not forgive others. Christians should be quick to tell unbelievers that if they get saved their sins are forgiven and remind believers that if they confess their sins then the sins they have committed after their salvation are forgiven (1 John 1:9).

Jesus’ action in stating that the man’s sins were forgiven were not meant to prove that he was God, rather, it was to show that God “has given [Jesus] authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man” (John 5:27). Notice that the onlookers were amazed that such authority had been given to men. They did not conclude from what Jesus did that he must be God. They drew the simple conclusion that God must have given authority to this man to forgive sins. Elsewhere, Jesus delegates the authority to the apostles saying, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld” (John 20:23). If being given the authority to forgive sins means the person is God, then we should conclude the apostles were God also. But this is surely absurd. Instead we should acknowledge that the authority ultimately comes from God, and he delegates it to people in certain situations.

[For more information on Jesus being the fully human Son of God and not being “God the Son,” see Appendix 10, “Jesus is the Son of God, Not God the Son.” For more on “the Holy Spirit” being one of the designations for God the Father and “the holy spirit” being the gift of God’s nature, see Appendix 11, “What is the Holy Spirit?”].

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Mar 2:8(top)
Mar 2:9

“Which is easier?” Which is easier to say and accomplish, declaring someone’s sins are forgiven, or divine healing? They are equally easy. See commentary on Luke 5:23.

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Mar 2:10

“to forgive sins.” This is an anacoluthon, an unfinished sentence. Jesus does not complete his sentence by words, instead, for emphasis, he completes it by action.

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Mar 2:11(top)
Mar 2:12(top)
Mar 2:13(top)
Mar 2:14

“Levi.” This is another name for the Apostle Matthew. The calling of Matthew is recorded in Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:14-17; and Luke 5:27-32.

“sitting at the tax office.” We know from Roman records that tax collectors checked what the fishermen had caught as they brought in their boats, so it makes sense that the tax office was very close to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. So Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee (v. 13) and stopped at the tax office to call Matthew.

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Mar 2:15

“his house.” Matthew’s house. Luke 5:29 makes it clear that it is Matthew’s house (Matthew is called Levi in Mark 2:13-17, and Luke 5:27-30). Matthew was a tax collector, and so it makes sense that his friends were tax collectors and “sinners,” which is why so many people like that were at the dinner. [For more information see commentary on Matthew 9:10].

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Mar 2:16

“and drinking,” which appears in many versions, was added by copyists, probably to harmonize with Luke 5:30. There is strong evidence that it is not original.

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Mar 2:17

“not come to call the righteous.” This verse has a couple meanings that are interwoven. It has a strong meaning with a built-in confrontation that is right on the surface, but also another, deeper meaning that is important to understand. The primary meaning has to do with the contrast between the Pharisees, who thought they were righteous, and the “sinners” they condemned. The secondary meaning is that no one is righteous in the sight of God based on their own merit, so Jesus is actually saying he came to call everyone.

The Pharisees believed they were righteous before God. This shows up in quite a few verses. For example, in Luke 7:29-30 the common people admitted their sin and went to John the Baptist to be baptized and cleansed from their sin, but the Pharisees considered themselves to be righteous in the sight of God and thus refused to be baptized by John. Also, Jesus again confronted the Pharisees and said to them: “You are the ones who make yourselves righteous in the sight of others” (Luke 16:15 REV).

A vital part of the self-righteousness of the Pharisees was that they kept apart from things (including people) that they thought might defile them. In fact, the very name “Pharisee” comes from the Greek word Pharisaios (Φαρισαῖος), which comes from the Aramaic word Perisha (פְּרִישָׁא), which means “set apart” or “separated.” While there were some good-hearted Pharisees like Nicodemus (John 3:1) who wanted to be separated unto God in a right way, as we see in Scripture, far too many Pharisees allowed their “separation” to separate them from the real work of God and keep them aloof from God’s work on earth. Thus, while Jesus ate at Matthew’s house with Matthew’s tax-collector friends, the Pharisees kept themselves separate from the group.

It should have been obvious to all the Pharisees, as it was to Nicodemus, that Jesus was a teacher who was sent by God. His teachings were powerful, and he demonstrated his authority by doing signs, miracles, and wonders, which they knew to look for (1 Cor. 1:22; Matt. 12:28; 16:1; John 2:18; 6:30). If Jesus was eating and drinking with “sinners” and speaking to them about the Kingdom of God, then they should have followed his example. The fact that they didn’t, indeed, couldn’t, should have driven them to repentance. Instead, they plotted to kill Jesus. So when Jesus said to the self-righteous Pharisees that he had not come to call the righteous, far from confirming their belief they were righteous, they should have been stricken by the difference between Jesus’ ministry and theirs, repented, and changed.

As for any “sinners” in the area close enough to hear the Pharisee’s question and Jesus’ answer, when Jesus said he had not come to call the righteous, they would have immediately seen the irony of the situation. It is even likely that they had been shunned by the Pharisees before, and saw through their religious hypocrisy, and they would have immediately picked up on the fact that when Jesus seemingly referred to them as “righteous,” it was irony, even perhaps humorous and bordering on sarcastic.

The other meaning in Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees is that no one is righteous, so everyone was in need of being saved, and Jesus came to save everyone. In Romans 3, Paul quotes extensively from the Old Testament to show that no one is righteous in God’s sight based on their own merits (Rom. 3:10-17). But the verses that Paul quoted, and others like them, were conveniently explained away by the Pharisees. But in truth, every person needs to be saved by Jesus Christ.

“but sinners.” [For more on Jesus calling sinners to repentance, see commentary on Luke 5:32].

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Mar 2:18

“fasting.” See commentary on Matthew 9:14.

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Mar 2:19

“wedding guests.” The literal Greek is “sons of the bridechamber,” which was an idiom for the wedding guests; and in some contexts more specifically for the friends of the bridegroom who were at the wedding.

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Mar 2:20

“in that day.” Meaning, “in that time period.” The word “day” is being used as a period of time.

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Mar 2:21

“No one sews.” See commentary on Matthew 9:16.

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Mar 2:22

“No one puts new wine.” See commentary on Matthew 9:17.

“wineskins.” A “bottle” or container made from animal skin. [For more on skin-bottles, which were usually made from the skins of goats, see commentary on 1 Sam. 10:3].

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Mar 2:23

“he was going through the grainfields.” This record occurs in Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28, and Luke 6:1-5.

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Mar 2:24

“why are they doing.” To the Pharisees, plucking grain on the Sabbath was breaking the Mosaic Law. See commentary on Luke 6:2.

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Mar 2:25

“you.” This “you” is plural in the text. “Have all of you never read….”

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Mar 2:26

“Abiathar.” The name “Abiathar” is questioned because in the record in 1 Samuel 21:1-9, Ahimelech is the priest. Although many commentators simply assume Mark made a mistake, we believe the Word of God is “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16), and that “Abiathar” is not a mistake. There are several ways this apparent contradiction might be solved. One of them is that both men may have been referred to by both names. That would be one good explanation why 1 Samuel 22:20 refers to Abiathar as the son of Ahimelech, but 2 Samuel 8:17; 1 Chronicles 18:16 and 24:6 refer to Ahimelech as the son of Abiathar. It was quite common for someone to be referred to by different names. But it also has been suggested that Abiathar had a son named Ahimelech who was a priest, and that could explain the Old Testament verses that seem to switch the names.

Another solution, frankly, a more likely one, is that both Ahimelech and Abiathar were present when David came. It is even possible that due to Ahimelech’s age Abiathar had started to take on the duties of the priesthood and Mark recognized him for that. That would be similar to the position of Annas and Caiaphas at the time of the ministry of Christ. Annas was the elder and still called High Priest, but Caiaphas was the man actually running the priesthood and he is also called High Priest. But even if that was not the case, we know it was common for priestly families to live together, just like Eli did with his sons (cp. 1 Sam. 2:12ff), and the city of Nob had at least 85 priests (1 Sam. 22:17). When Doeg the Edomite killed 85 priests, Ahimelech was killed and Abiathar escaped and went to David (1 Sam. 22:20), and became High Priest under David. This could be why Mark says that David entered the house of God “in the days of Abiathar” (KJV; NIV), or “in the time of Abiathar” (ESV; NASB). Since Abiathar would have taken over the priesthood de facto as soon as his father died, David did in fact enter the house of God “in the days of Abiathar,” the well-known High Priest under David.

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Mar 2:27

“The Sabbath was made for people.” God gave the Sabbath to Israel as a blessing so that people might have time to rest, and also so that the Israelites would remember that it was Yahweh who brought them out of the slavery of Egypt (Deut. 15:5), which would help them praise Him on the Sabbath day. Yet the religious leaders had gradually made the Sabbath regulations so oppressive that the Sabbath was often more of a burden than a blessing. God simply said not to “work,” but the religious leaders so tightly defined with ungodly restrictions what “work” was (and then figured out for themselves ways around their regulations), that people became slaves to the Sabbath, instead of the Sabbath being a blessing and servant to people. The Sabbath regulations became part of “the yoke of the Law,” and that harsh yoke was done away in Christ. The New Testament is clear that people do not have to keep the Sabbath (Col. 2:14-17). [For more on the Sabbath, see commentary on Exod. 20:10].

“people.” Although many versions have “man,” that must be properly understood. The Greek is anthropos, which is being used in the generic sense of humankind or “people,” not a man, a male. An easy way to tell that is that the Greek word is singular, but the verse is certainly not saying that the Sabbath was made for one individual male person. The Sabbath was given so people could have a day of rest. Even slaves were to be allowed to rest on the Sabbath and not be forced to work (Exod. 20:10).

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Mar 2:28(top)
  

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