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Bible Commentaries
Luke 5

McGarvey's Commentaries on Selected BooksMcGarvey'S Commentaries

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Verses 1-11

(Sea of Galilee, near Capernaum.)
aMATT. IV. 18-22; bMARK I. 16-20; cLUKE V. 1-11.

a18 And walking b16 And passing along by the sea of Galilee [This lake is a pear-shaped body of water, about twelve and a half miles long and about seven miles across at its widest place. It is 682 feet below sea level; its waters are fresh, clear and abounding in fish, and it is surrounded by hills and mountains, which rise from 600 to 1,000 feet above it. Its greatest depth is about 165 feet], he [Jesus] saw atwo brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, {bthe brother of Simon} casting a net in {ainto} the sea [The New Testament speaks of three kinds of nets, viz.: the amphiblestron, which is only mentioned here; the sagene, mentioned only at Matthew 13:47; and the dictua, which is mentioned in all other places. The dictua was a casting-net; the sagene, a seine or dragnet; and the amphiblestron was a drawnet, a circular bell-shaped affair, which was thrown upon the water, so that it spread out and [161] caught, by sinking, whatever was below it]; for they were fishers. [Though Simon and Andrew had been companions of Jesus on at least one journey, they did not as yet understand that his service would require all their time. The facts that Jesus now temporarily resided at Capernaum afforded them an opportunity to return to their old occupation, which they readily embraced. Fishing was then a prosperous trade on the lake of Galilee.] b17 And Jesus said {ahe saith} bunto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. [It was an invitation to follow, that they might be instructed by hearing his teaching and beholding his work. Jesus called them from a lower to a similar but higher labor. He calls all honest tradesmen in this manner. He invites carpenters to build his temple, servants to serve the great King, physicians to heal immortal souls, merchants to invest in pearls of great price, etc. The fisherman found many points of resemblance between the old and new calling, such as, 1, daily hardships and dangers; 2, earnest desires for the objects sought; 3, skill and wisdom in the use of means, etc. Disciples are fishers, human souls are fish, the world is the sea, the gospel is the net, and eternal life is the shore whither the catch is drawn.] a21 And going on from thence ba little further, ahe saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, bwho also were in the boat awith Zebedee their father, mending their {bthe} nets. [They also, like Peter and Andrew, were at work when Jesus found them. God calls the busy to his business. For instances where God had called the busy, see cases of Moses ( Exodus 3:1, Exodus 3:2), Gideon ( Judges 6:11), Saul ( 1 Samuel 10:1-3), David ( 1 Samuel 16:11-15), Elisha ( 1 Kings 19:19-21), Matthew ( Matthew 9:9), Saul ( Acts 9:1-6). Moreover most of these were called from lowly work, for such is God’s method ( 1 Corinthians 1:26-29). We should note two reasons why God chose the lowly and unlearned: 1, their minds being free from prejudice were more ready to entertain new truth; 2, the strength of the gospel was made more apparent by the [162] weakness of its ministers ( 1 Corinthians 2:3-5, 2 Corinthians 4:7, Zechariah 4:6). Of these two brothers, James was the first apostolic martyr and John the last survivor of the twelve. James was beheaded about A. D. 44 ( Acts 12:1, Acts 12:2); and John, after upwards of seventy years of Christian service, died at Ephesus about A. D. 100.] 20 And straightway he called them [From Matthew and Mark we would suppose that Jesus was alone when he called the two sets of brothers, and that with them he immediately left the lake. But we learn from Luke that he taught and worked a miracle before leaving the lake]: c1 Now it came to pass, while the multitude pressed upon him and heard the word of God, that he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret [This body of water bore many names. It was anciently called Chinnereth ( Numbers 34:11), or Chinneroth ( Judges 12:3), from a fortified town ( Joshua 19:35) and district ( 1 Kings 15:20) in Naphtali bearing that name. It is here called Gennesaret, from a plain of that name upon its northwestern shore (which may be a corruption of the old name Chinnereth.) It received its name, Galilee, from the district to which it belongs, and in later times it bore the name Tiberias ( John 6:1), from the city of that name on its western shore]; 2 and he saw two boats standing by the lake: but the fishermen had gone out of them, and were washing their nets. [We may conceive of the fishermen, in answer to Jesus’ call, drawing their boats together to the point where he stood upon the shore. Then, as Jesus stood teaching, they occupied themselves in the shallow water behind by washing their nets while they listened to him.] 3 And he entered into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. [He did this that he might avoid the press, and that the people might be better able both to see and to hear.] And he sat down [the usual attitude or posture of a teacher] and taught the multitudes out of the boat. 4 And when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a [163] draught. ["Put out" is in the singular, being addressed to Simon alone; "let down" is plural, being addressed generally to those in the boat.] 5 And Simon answered and said, Master, we have toiled all the night, and took nothing: but at thy word I will let down the nets. ["Master" is a broader word than "Rabbi"; it indicates a superior, but does not confine his superiority to matters of instruction. The words of Peter show a willingness to oblige or honor Jesus, but are devoid of hope as to the thing proposed. Night was the time for fishing ( John 21:3); and the proper place to cast the net was near the shore; but if Jesus wished to fish by daylight in the middle of the lake, Simon was not too weary to humor the wish.] 6 And when they had done this, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes; and their nets were breaking [that is, the nets began to snap when they tried to lift them out of the water]; 7 and they beckoned unto their partners in the other boat, that they should come and help them. [This indicates that they were well out into the lake, where it was easier to beckon than to shout explanations. Some think the marvel wrought by Jesus made them speechless, but they were so engrossed in the magnitude and value of the catch that the full glory of the miracle had not yet come upon them.] And they came, and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. [They probably ran a second net under the one which enclosed the fishes, and by thus doubling the strength of the net were able to draw the fish up between the boats. A great load thus suddenly dumped in the side of a boat will cause it to list, dip water and threaten to sink. Such appears to have been the case here until the loads were so distributed as to right the ships.] 8 But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was amazed, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken [This miracle came home to the soul of Peter because it was wrought in his own boat, with his own nets, and concerned his own business. [164] Religion is only powerful as it becomes personal. Peter’s request shows how deeply the miracle impressed him. It gave him that sense of the divine presence which never fails to overwhelm the hearts of men. No man can behold God in his glory and live ( Exodus 33:20-23, Exodus 20:18, Exodus 20:19); and though there have been exceptions where men have seen God or his representatives and lived ( Exodus 24:9-11, Judges 6:21-23, Judges 13:22, Judges 13:23, Isaiah 6:1-5, Daniel 10:16-19, Genesis 32:30); yet no man, not even the purest, has ever stood in the presence of God or his ministers without feeling such a sense of weakness and sinfulness as to almost extinguish life-- Revelation 1:17, Job 42:5, Job 42:6]; 10 and so were also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. [Jesus here shows the purpose for which this miracle had been wrought. It was a prophetic type or picture which foreshadowed the triumphs of the day of Pentecost and other seasons when the apostles had great ingatherings of souls through the preaching of the gospel.] 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they astraightway cleft all [that is to say, Peter and Andrew], bleft the nets [but James and John], aleft the boat and their father, bZebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after him. {cfollowed him} [The four partners, boats, different kinds of nets, hired servants, etc., and the fact that Salome, the wife of Zebedee, was one of those who ministered to Christ out of her substance ( Matthew 27:55, Matthew 27:56, Luke 8:3), all indicate a business of respectable proportions: a fact which suggests that the church of Christ would catch more souls if all its parts were in partnership. Evidently when the four men left the boats and nets Zebedee took charge of them. While the four rightly recognized that the divine call was superior to their earthly obligations, there is nothing which leads us to imply that their sudden departure discomfited Zebedee. The call of Christ here marks a change in their relationship to him. Hitherto discipleship had not materially interfered with [165] business, but this present call separated them from their occupation, and prepared them for the call to be apostles which came later, and which required them to be his constant companions-- Mark 3:14.]

[FFG 161-166]

Verses 12-16

aMATT.VIII. 2-4; bMARK I. 40-45; cLUKE V. 12-16.

c12 And it came to pass, while he was in one of the cities [it was a city of Galilee, but as it was not named, it is idle to conjecture which city it was], behold, bthere cometh {acame} bto him a leper [There is much discussion as to what is here meant by leprosy. Two diseases now go by that name; viz., psoriasis and elephantiasis. There are also three varieties of psoriasis, namely, white, black and red. There are also three varieties or modifications of elephantiasis, namely, tubercular, spotted or streaked, and anæsthetic. Elephantiasis is the leprosy found in modern times in Syria, Greece, Spain, Norway and Africa. Now, since Leviticus 13:1-59., in determining [176] leprosy, lays great stress on a white or reddish-white depression of the skin, the hairs in which are turned white or yellow, and since it also provides that the leper who is white all over shall be declared clean, and since in the only two cases where lepers are described-- Numbers 12:10, 2 Kings 5:27--they are spoken of as "white as snow," scholars have been led to think that the Biblical leprosy was the white form of psoriasis. But the facts hardly warrant us in excluding the other forms of psoriasis, or even elephantiasis; for 1. Leviticus xiii. also declares that any bright spot or scale shall be pronounced leprosy, if it be found to spread abroad over the body; and this indefinite language would let in elephantiasis, cancer and many other skin diseases. In fact, the law deals with the initial symptoms rather than with the ultimate phases of the fully developed disease. 2. Elephantiasis was a common disease in our Saviour’s time, and has been ever since, and would hardly be called leprosy now, if it had not been popularly so called then. The word "leprosy" comes from "lepo," which means to peel off in scales. It is hereditary for generations, though modern medical authorities hold that it is not contagious. However, the returning Crusaders spread it all over Europe in the tenth and eleventh centuries, so that according to Matthew Paris there was no less than nine thousand hospitals set apart for its victims. The facts that the priests had to handle and examine lepers, and that any one who was white all over with leprosy was declared clean, led scholars to think that the laws of Moses, which forbade any one to approach or touch a leper, were not enacted to prevent the spread of a contagion, but for typical and symbolic purposes. It is thought that God chose the leprosy as the symbol of sin and its consequences, and that the Mosaic legislation was given to carry out this conception. Being the most loathsome and incurable of all diseases, it fitly represents in bodily form the ravages of sin in the soul of a man. But there must also have been a sanitary principle in God’s laws, since we still deem it wise to separate lepers, and since other people besides the Hebrews (as the Persians) prohibited lepers from mingling with other [177] citizens. Elephantiasis is the most awful disease known. The body of its victim disintegrates joint by joint, until the whole frame crumbles to pieces. Psoriasis is milder, but is very distressing. Mead thus describes a case: The "skin was shining as covered with flakes of snow. And as the furfuraceous or bran-like, scales were daily rubbed off, the flesh appeared quick or raw underneath." In addition to the scaly symptoms, the skin becomes hard and cracks open, and from the cracks an ichorous humor oozes. The disease spreads inwardly, and ends in consumption, dropsy, suffocation, and death], ca man full of leprosy [Some have thought that Luke meant to indicate one so completely covered with leprosy as to be clean ( Leviticus 13:28, Leviticus 13:29, Leviticus 13:36, Leviticus 13:37). But the fact that Jesus sent him to the priest, shows that he was not such a clean leper. Luke meant to describe a leper in the last stages of the disease--a leper past all hope]: and when he saw Jesus, bbeseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying to him, che fell on his face, aand worshipped him, cand besought him, saying, bunto him, cLord [The Jews, in addressing any distinguished person, usually employed the title "Lord." They were also accustomed to kneel before prophets and kings. It is not likely that the leper knew enough of Jesus to address him as the Son of God. He evidently took Jesus for some great prophet; but he must have had great faith, for he was full of confidence that Jesus had power to heal him, although there was but one case of leper-cleansing in the Scriptures-- 2 Kings 5:1-19, Luke 4:27], if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. [The leper believed in the power of Jesus, but doubted his willingness to expend it on one so unworthy and so unclean. In temporal matters we can not always be as sure of God’s willingness as we can be of his power. We should note that the man asked rather for the blessing of cleanness than for health. To the Jew uncleanness was more horrible than disease. It meant to be an outcast from Israel, and to be classed with swine, dogs and other odious and abhorrent creatures. The leper, therefore, prayed that the Lord would remove his shame [178] and pollution.] b41 And being moved with compassion, he stretched forth his hand, and touched him [Mark habitually notes the feelings, and hence also the gestures of Jesus. It was not an accidental, but an intentional, touch. Popular belief so confused and confounded leprosy with the uncleanness and corruption of sin, as to make the leper feel that Jesus might also compromise his purity if he concerned himself to relieve it. The touch of Jesus, therefore, gave the leper a new conception of divine compassion. It is argued that Jesus, by this touch, was made legally unclean until the evening ( Leviticus 13:46, Leviticus 11:40). But we should note the spirit and purpose of this law. Touch was prohibited because it defiled the person touching, and aided not the person touched. In Jesus’ case the reasons for the law were absent, the conditions being reversed. Touching defiled not the toucher, and healed the touched. In all things Jesus touches and shares our human state, but he so shares it that instead of his being defiled by our uncleanness, we are purified by his righteousness. Moreover, Jesus, as a priest after the order of Melchizedek ( Hebrews 5:6), possessed the priestly right to touch the leper without defilement-- Hebrews 4:15], and saith unto him, {csaying,} I will; be thou made clean. [The Lord’s answer is an echo of the man’s prayer. The words, "I will," express the high authority of Jesus.] b42 And straightway the {ahis} cleprosy departed from him, {awas cleansed.} band he was made clean. ["Luke says, ’departed’, giving the merely physical view of the event. Matthew says, ’was cleansed’, using ceremonial language. Mark combines the two forms"--Godet.] 43 And he strictly charged him, cto tell no man [The language used indicates that Jesus sternly forbade the man to tell what had been done. The man’s conduct, present and future, shows that he needed severe speech. In his uncontrollable eagerness to be healed he had overstepped his privileges, for he was not legally permitted to thus enter cities and draw near to people ( Numbers 5:2, Numbers 5:3); he was to keep at a distance from them, and covering his mouth, was to cry, "Tame, [179] tame--unclean, unclean" ( Leviticus 13:45, Leviticus 13:46, Luke 17:12, Luke 17:13). The man evinced a like recklessness in disregarding the command of Jesus]: band straightway sent him out, a4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; {bsay nothing to any man:} [Several reasons are suggested why the Lord thus commanded silence: 1. It may have been better for the man not to mention his cure ( John 9:34). 2. He required the decision of the priest to make him legally clean; and too much talk might so prejudice the priests as to lead them to refuse to admit his cure. 3. But the best reason is that it accorded with our Lord’s general course, which was to suppress excitement, and thus prevent too great crowds from gathering about him and hindering his work. To take this view is to say that Jesus meant to prevent exactly what happened] cbut go, and show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, bthe things which {athe gift that} Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. [Though healed of his leprosy, the man was not legally clean until declared so by the priest. The priest alone could readmit him to the congregation. The local priest inspected the healed leper, and if he was found clean or cured, he was purified by the use of two birds, cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop, razor and bath. After seven days he was again inspected, and if still cured the priest repaired with him to the temple, where he offered the gift for his cleansing, which was three lambs, with flour and oil; or if the leper was poor, one lamb and two doves or pigeons, with flour and oil ( Leviticus 14:19-22.). The healed leper was a testimony that Messiah, the great Physician, had come, and that he respected the law of Moses. This testimony was given both to priests and people.] 45 But he went out [from the presence of Jesus and from the city], and began to publish it much, and to spread abroad the matter, {c15 But so much the more went abroad the report concerning him:}. [The leper was so elated that he could scarcely refrain from publishing his cure, and he must also have thought that this was what Jesus really [180] wanted--that in commanding him not to publish it he did not mean what he said] and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. binsomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into a city [Not a natural or physical inability, but the inability of impropriety. Jesus could not do what he judged not best to do. The excitement cause by such an entry was injurious in several ways: 1. It gave such an emphasis to the miracles of Jesus as to make them overshadow his teaching. 2. It threatened to arouse the jealousy of the government. 3. It rendered the people incapable of calm thought. Two things constantly threatened the ministry of Jesus, namely, impatience in the multitude, and envious malice in the priests and Pharisees. Jesus wished to add to neither of these elements of opposition. Thus the disobedience of the leper interrupted Jesus, and thwarted him in his purpose to visit the villages. Disobedience, no matter how well-meaning, always hinders the work of Christ], c16 But he withdrew himself in the deserts, {bwas without in desert places:} [That is, the the remote grazing-lands like that desert in which he afterwards fed the five thousand. Such was our Lord’s unexampled meekness that he preferred the silent deserts to the applause of multitudes. His meekness was as high above the capacity of a merely human being as were his miracles] cand prayed. [Luke’s gospel is pre-eminently the gospel of prayer and thanksgiving] band they came to him from every quarter.

[FFG 176-181]

Verses 17-26

aMATT. IX. 2-8; bMARK II. 1-12; cLUKE V. 17-26.

c17 And it came to pass on one of those days, bwhen he entered again into Capernaum after some days, cthat he was teaching; bit was noised that he was in the house. [Luke uses the general expression [181] "those days," referring to the early portion of our Lord’s ministry in Galilee. Mark says, "some days," which implies the lapse of a considerable interval. The healing of the leper created such excitement that for some time, several weeks, Jesus kept out of the cities. He now, after the excitement has subsided, quietly enters Capernaum, and probably goes to the house of Simon Peter, now looked upon as his head quarters in Capernaum ( Mark 1:29). His entrance into Capernaum marks the end of his first missionary tour through Galilee.] 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, no, not even about the door: and he spake the word unto them. [Oriental houses are one or two storied structures, built in the form of a square, or rectangle, with an open space in the center called the court. They have one door which opens from the street into an open space called the porch, and this porch in turn opens upon the court. In this porch there is usually a stairway leading to the roof. The roofs are invariably flat, and are surrounded by a breastwork or parapet to keep those on them from falling off. Roofs or housetops are used as we use yards, only they are somewhat private. Some think that this house was a two-storied structure, and that Jesus was teaching in the upper room or second story. If this were so, there would have been little profit to the people who clung about the street door, for they could neither see nor hear. Besides, a two-storied house would probably have been beyond the means of Simon Peter. It is more likely that Jesus was in the room opposite the porch across the court. If so, the crowd at the door might catch an occasional word, or by tiptoing obtain a momentary glance; and thus fan the hope of some ultimate satisfaction. The gospel is here called "the word," for it is the Word among words, as the Bible is the Book among books.] cand there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by [the fact that they were sitting, shows that they were honored above the rest: Jesus did not increase their ill-will by any needless disrespect], who were come out of every village of Galilee and Judaea and [182] Jerusalem [It is not likely that such a gathering came together by accident. Capernaum was known to be the headquarters of Jesus, and these leaders of the people had doubtless gathered there to wait for some opportunity to see or hear Jesus. They recognized the necessity of coming to some definite judgment regarding him. We shall see in this scene the beginning of their hostility to Jesus, which developed into four objections: 1. Alleged blasphemy; 2. Intercourse with publicans and sinners; 3. Supposed neglect of ascetic duties, such as washings, fastings, etc.; 4. Alleged violation of the sabbath]: and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. [That is to say, the power of God the Father was then working in Jesus to perform miracles ( John 14:10). Some take this as implying that other miracles had been wrought that day, before the arrival of the paralytic. But the words are more likely a preface for what follows; in which case the meaning is that the cold disbelief of the Pharisees did not prevent Jesus from working miracles, as disbelief usually did-- Matthew 13:58, Matthew 16:1-4.] 18 And behold, men bring {athey brought bthey come, bringing} unto him a man sick of the palsy, {cthat was palsied:} alying on a bed: bborne of four [Palsy is an abbreviation of the word "paralysis." It is caused by a cessation of the nervous activities. See Acts 8:22). So far as the church forgives sins ( John 20:23), it does it merely as the organ of God, and must do so according to the methods and ordinances laid down by God. Those who profess to forgive sin by word of mouth, should be able to make good their claim to this boasted power by healing diseases or otherwise removing the consequences of sin. Failing to do this, they must forever rest under justified suspicion that they are, wittingly or unwittingly, guilty of blasphemy.] b6 But there were certain of the scribes cand the Pharisees bsitting there, a3 And behold, [they] cbegan to reason, band reasoning in their hearts, asaid within themselves, csaying, aThis man blasphemeth. b7 Why doth this that man thus speak? [A scornful expression, shown by the repetition, houtos houtoo, which means, literally, "this one these things."] cWho is this that speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, bbut one, even God? calone? [In classic Greek to blaspheme means to speak evil or, or to slander a person, and it is used in this sense in the New Testament ( Titus 3:2, 2 Peter 2:2, Judges 1:8). Its ordinary New Testament use, however, is quite different, since it is employed to designate something which reflects evil on the character and nature of God. This use is peculiar to monotheistic writers, and was unknown to the Greeks. Such blasphemies may be divided into three general heads, thus: 1. To attribute the unworthy to God. 2. To deny the worthy to God. 3. To arrogate or claim any attribute, power, authority, etc., which belongs to exclusively to God. It was under this third head that Jesus seemed to lay himself open to accusation--an accusation entirely just if he had not been the [185] Son of God. The Pharisees were not faulty in their logic, but were mistaken in their premises; hence Jesus does not deny their doctrine; he merely corrects their mistaken application of it to himself. As to this pronounced forgiveness of Jesus, two questions arise: 1. Why did he forgive the man’s sins? The haste with which the man was brought to Jesus suggests that his condition was critical; in which case the torment of sin would be the greater. As a searcher of hearts, Jesus saw the unuttered desire of the sick man, and at once responded to it. If his words meant nothing to the conscience of the man, they were wasted; but Jesus knew what was in man. 2. Why did he pronounce the forgiveness so publicly? As the terms of pardon prescribed in the law were yet in full force, this open speech of Jesus was a surprising assertion of authority. In fact, such assertions were exceptional in his ministry; for only on three recorded occasions did he thus forgive sins ( Luke 7:48, Luke 23:43). Being the exceptional and not the established method of pardon, and being thus employed in the presence of so representative an audience, it was evidently used for a special purpose; and that purpose was to show that Jesus had such power, that men seeing this power might believe him to be the Son of God. He was vindicating an eternal law of the universe, in which all human beings throughout all generations would be interested; viz.: that humanity has a Ruler who can present it spotless before the throne of God ( Judges 1:24). Jesus propounded his law in the presence of those most interested in exposing it if false, and most able to explode it had it not been true. Whether his words were truth or blasphemy, was the controversy between Christ and the rulers from that day to the end of his ministry-- Matthew 26:65.] b8 And straightway Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they so reasoned {ctheir reasonings,} bwithin themselves, a4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts [Jesus read their thoughts by his divine insight, and not because of any recognized habit or tendency on their part to criticise him, for this is the first recorded indication of hostility on the part of the Pharisees, [186] though it is hinted at, at John 4:1. Such discernment of the thought was to be a characteristic mark of the expected Messiah ( Isaiah 11:2, Isaiah 11:3), and Jesus had it ( John 2:25). It also is an attribute peculiar to God-- 1 Chronicles 28:9, Jeremiah 17:10, Romans 8:27, Revelation 2:23] canswered and said {bsaith} unto them, aWherefore think ye evil in your hearts? [Jesus could see invisible sin, and could forgive it or condemn it, as the conditions moved him. The powers of discernment, forgiveness and condemnation make him the perfect Judge.] bWhy reason ye in your hearts? a5 For which is easier, bto say to the sick of the palsy, cThy sins are forgiven thee; bor to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? [To understand this sentence we should place the emphasis upon the word "say," because the question at issue was the power or effect of his speech. The rabbis, after their first shock of surprise, thought that Jesus feared to attempt the fraud of a so-called miracle in the presence of learned men, lest he should be detected and exposed; and hence looked upon his present action as an attempt to bear himself safely off before the public, and to maintain his standing by the use of high-sounding words. They felt that he used words of unseen effect, because he dared not use those of seen effect. This was precisely the view that Jesus knew they would take, and that he wished them to take; for by showing his ability to work in the realms of sight that which is impossible; viz.: the healing of the sick man, he could place before them proof suited to their own reasoning that he had a like ability to work the impossible in the realms of the unseen; viz.: the forgiveness of the man’s sins. By thus demonstrating his authority in the eternal and physical world, Jesus assures us of his dominion over the internal and spiritual.] 10 But that ye may know that the Son of man [Daniel’s name for the Messiah-- Daniel 7:10-13] hath authority on earth to forgive sins [The words "on earth" are taken by some to indicate the then existing contrast between Christ’s present humiliation or ministry on earth, and his future glorification or enthronement in heaven; in which case they would [187] mean that Jesus could grant now that which some might think could only be exercised hereafter. Others take them to mean the same as if Jesus had said, "You think that forgiveness can only be granted by the Father in heaven, but it can also be granted by the Son upon earth. That which you have heretofore sought from the Father you may now seek from me." The latter is probably the correct view. As to the test of power or authority, the miracle of Jesus was very convincing; for in the popular opinion sin was a cause of which disease was the effect. We are told, on the authority of later rabbis, that it was a maxim among the Jews that no diseased person could be healed till his sins were blotted out. We also recognize a correlation between sins and diseases, which the Saviour’s use of this miracle justifies. A mere miracle, such as swallowing fire or causing iron to float, would not prove his ability to forgive sins. The proof consisted in the relation which disease bears to sin, and the consequent relation which healing bears to forgiveness. The connection between disease and sin is a real and necessary one. The Jews were right in seeing this connection, but they erred in thinking that they were warranted in personally criminating every one whom they found afflicted, and in judging that the weight of the affliction indicated the quantity of the sin. The Book of Job should have corrected this error. Such unrighteous judgments are condemned by Christ ( John 9:3, Luke 13:2-5). Paralysis is, however, to-day looked upon as ordinarily the punishment of some personal sin, usually that of intemperance or sensuality], a(then saith he to the sick of the palsy), {c(he said unto him that was palsied),} I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, {bbed,} cand go up unto thy house. [What command could be more pleasant than that which bade this sick man go home forgiven and healed?] 25 And immediately he rose up {aarose,} cbefore them, band straightway took up the bed, cthat whereon he lay ["A sweet saying! The bed had borne the man; now the man bore the bed"--Bengel], band went forth before them all aand departed to his house. [188] cglorifying God. binsomuch that they were all amazed, 8 But when the multitudes saw it, they were afraid, c26 And amazement took hold on all, and they glorified God [The "all" of this passage hardly includes the scribes and Pharisees, or, if it does, their admiration of Jesus was but a momentary enthusiasm, which quickly passed away]; awho had given such authority unto men. [Some take the word "men" as the plural of category, and apply it to Christ. Others think that they regarded Jesus as a mere man among other men, and that they therefore looked upon his power as a gift given to men generally, and not as something peculiar to himself. If this latter view is correct, it is likely that they took the words "Son of man" as referring to men generally, and not as a reference to the Messiah, such as Jesus meant it to be.] bsaying, We never saw it on this fashion, cand they were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to-day. [Literally, seen paradoxes: things contrary to common thought and ordinary experience. They had seen a threefold miracle: sins forgiven, thoughts read and palsy healed.]

[FFG 181-189]

Verses 27-28

(At or near Capernaum.)
aMATT. IX. 9; bMARK II. 13, 14; cLUKE V. 27, 28.

c27 And after these thingsa [after the healing of the paralytic] he went forth, aagain by the seaside [i. e., he left Capernaum, and sought the shore of the sea, which formed a convenient auditorium for him, and which was hence a favorite scene for his teaching]; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. 14 And as he aJesus passed by from thence, he saw cand beheld aa man, ca publican, named {ccalled} Matthew, cLevi, bthe son of Alphaeus [It will be observed that Matthew, in his account of his call, does not make himself prominent. All [189] the evangelists keep themselves in the background. Because Mark and Luke give us the name Levi, it has been thought by some that they describe the call of a different person from the one mentioned by Matthew--an opinion which seems to have started with Origen. But the difference in name is not an important divergence, for many in that day had two names; as, for example, Lebbæus, who was called Thaddæus; Silas, who was called Sylvanus; John, who was called Mark; etc. Moreover, it was then common to change the name; as is shown by the cases of Simon, who became Peter; Joseph, who became Barnabas; Saul, who became Paul, etc. Therefore, as we have previously suggested ( Matthew 10:3). It is not likely, however, that Matthew and James were brothers, for Alphæus was a very common Jewish name, and brothers are usually mentioned in pairs in the apostolic lists, and these two are not so mentioned. Pool takes the extreme view here, contending that James, Matthew, Thaddæus, and Simon Zelotes were four brethren], sitting at the place of toll [Wherever it is at all practicable, Orientals sit at their work. The place of toil was usually a booth or a small hut. Whether Matthew’s booth was by the lake, to collect duties on goods and people ferried across; or whether it was by the roadside on the great highway leading from Damascus to Acco, to collect taxes on all produce brought into Capernaum, is not material. The revenues which Rome derived from conquered nations consisted of tolls, tithes, harbor duties, taxes for use of public pasture lands, and duties for the use of mines and salt works], and he saith {csaid} unto him, Follow me. 28 And he forsook all, And he arose {crose up} and followed [190] him. [Such obedience was not, of course, performed in ignorance; it indicates that Matthew was already a disciple, as were the four fisherman when they also received a like call. Matthew was now called to become a personal attendant of Jesus, preparatory to being chosen an apostle. Nor are we to conclude from the abruptness of his movements that he went off without settling accounts with the head of his office. Though it may be more dramatic to thus picture him as departing at once, yet the settlement of accounts was indispensable to his good name in the future, and in no way diminishes the reality and beauty of his sacrifice--a beauty which Matthew himself forbears to mention, as became him ( Proverbs 27:2). But Matthew certainly neither delayed nor sought counsel ( Galatians 1:15, Galatians 1:16). By thus calling a publican, Jesus reproved the religious narrowness of his times.] [191]

[FFG 189-191]

Verses 29-39

aMATT. IX. 10-17; bMARK II. 15-22; cLUKE V. 29-39.

c29 And Levi [another name for the apostle Matthew] made him a great feast in his house: b15 And it came to pass, that he was sitting {aas he sat} at meat in the {bhis} ahouse, cand there was a great multitude of publicans [Matthew had invited his old friends] and of others band abehold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. bfor there were many, cthat were sitting at meat with them. band they followed him. c30 And the Pharisees and their scribes {bthe scribes of the Pharisees,} [that is, the scribes which were of their party or sect] when they saw that he was eating with the sinners and publicans, c murmured against his disciples, saying, {athey said} unto his disciples, cWhy do ye eat and drink with the publicans and sinners? aWhy eateth your Teacher with the publicans and sinners? bHow is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? [From their standpoint, the question was natural enough. No strict Jew could eat with a Gentile ( Acts 11:3, Galatians 2:12), and Matthew’s guests were classed with the heathen.] a12 But {b17 And} awhen he bJesus heard it, he canswering said {bsaith} unto them, They that are whole {cin health} have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. a13 But go ye and learn what this meaneth, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice [For an explanation of this passage, see Matthew 22:4, Luke 14:8, John 2:8, John 2:9). Mourning and fasting would therefore ill befit such an occasion.] c35 But the days will come; and when the bridegroom shall [350] be taken from them, band then will they fast in that day. {cthose days.} [Jesus here foretells the removal of his visible presence from his disciples by his ascension. His words predict but do not command a fast. He prescribed no stated fasts, and the apostolic church kept none. History shows that prescribed fasts become formal and tend to Phariseeism.] 36 And he spake also a parable unto them: No man rendeth a piece from a new garment and putteth it upon an old garment, else he will rend the new, and also the piece from the new will not agree with the old. a16 And no man putteth {bseweth} a piece of undressed cloth on {aupon} an old garment; for {belse} that which should fill it up taketh from it, {afrom the garment,} bthe new from the old, and a worse rent is made. [Jesus justifies the conduct of his disciples by an appeal to the principles of the new dispensation, by which they were governed. The disciples of John looked upon Jesus as a reformer of Judaism, but he corrects their false impressions. To tear the new dispensation to pieces to renovate or embellish the old would be to injure the new and to destroy the old. By the process of fulling or dressing, new cloth was cleansed and shrunk so as to become more compact. The new cloth, therefore, had in it, so to speak, a life-element, and in its movement while shrinking it would tear the weaker fiber of the old cloth to which it was sewed, and thus enlarge the rent. The new dispensation could have rites and forms of its own, but could not conform to the rites of the Pharisees. If the conduct of his disciples had made a rent in the rabbinical traditions with regard to fasting, Jesus could not so modify the conduct of his disciples as to patch the rent without injuring the moral sense of his disciples, and without making Phariseeism a more meaningless hypocrisy than ever.] 22 And no man putteth {a17 Neither do men put} new wine into old wine-skins: celse the the new wine will burst the skins, aand the wine citself will be {ais} spilled, band the wine perisheth, and the skins: aburst, cand the skins will perish. abut they put new wine {cnew [351] wine must be put} binto fresh wine-skins. aand both are preserved. [This parable is also an illustration of the principles set forth above. Wine was then stored in casks of skin--usually hides of goats. Wine-skins, newly made, were elastic, and would expand to accommodate the fermentation of the new wine within. But the old wine-skins were stiff and of little strength, and would burst if fermenting liquid were confined within them.] c39 And no man having drunk old wine desireth new; for he saith, The old is good. [The thought here is that as wine should be put in skins suited for it, and as, at an entertainment, the different kinds of wine should be served in appropriate succession; so, fasting should be observed on suitable occasions--not, for instance, at a wedding.]

[FFG 349-352]

Bibliographical Information
McGarvey, J. W. "Commentary on Luke 5". "J. W. McGarvey's Original Commentary on Acts". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/oca/luke-5.html. Transylvania Printing and Publishing Co. Lexington, KY. 1872.
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