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Bible Commentaries
Mark 2

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary

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A.M. 4035. A.D. 31.

In this chapter we have,

(1,) Christ’s healing a man that was sick of the palsy, Mark 2:1-12 .

(2,) His calling Matthew from the receipt of custom, and his eating upon that occasion with publicans and sinners, and justifying himself in so doing, Mark 2:13-17 .

(3,) His justifying his disciples in not fasting so much as those of the Pharisees did, Mark 2:18-22 .

(4,) His justifying them in plucking the ears of corn on the sabbath day, Mark 2:23-28 . All which passages we had before, Matthew 9:12 .

Verses 1-2

Mark 2:1-2. And again After having been in desert places for same time, he returned privately to Capernaum. It was noised that he was in the house The rumour immediately spread, that he was come to the city, and was in Peter’s house. And straightway many were gathered together His arrival was no sooner known than such a multitude was gathered together that the house could not contain them; nor even the court before the door. Hitherto the general impression on their hearts continued. Hitherto, even at Capernaum, most of those who heard, received the word with joy. And he preached the word unto them He preached to as many as could hear him; and among the rest, as we learn, Luke 5:17, to many Pharisees and teachers of the law, who on the report of his miracles were come from all quarters to see his works, and judge of his pretensions.

Verses 3-4

Mark 2:3-4. And they come, bringing one sick of the palsy See on Matthew 9:2, &c. Which was borne of four One at each corner of the sofa or couch. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press The great crowd of people collected together, and feared a delay might lose so precious an opportunity, they uncovered the roof Of the apartment where he was Which was a room that had no chamber over it, the houses in the East being low, having generally a ground floor only, or one upper story. This house also, like other houses in that country, had doubtless a flat roof with a battlement round it, (Deuteronomy 22:8,) and a kind of trap-door, by which persons within could come out upon it to walk and take the air, or perform their devotions. (See 2 Kings 23:12; Acts 10:9.) This door, when shut, lying even with the roof, made a part of it, and was probably well fastened to secure the house against thieves. The bearers therefore of the paralytic, prevented from bringing him in at the door by the crowd, bear him up by some other stair to the roof of this room, and finding this trap-door fastened below, were obliged to break it open before they could get entrance; and probably also, in order to let down the sick man and his couch, to make the opening wider, which they might do, either by removing the frame of the trap-door, or some of the tiles adjoining to it, with the laths supporting them; all which Mark fitly expresses by the words: απεστε γαδαν την στεγην οπου ην , και , εξορυξαντες χαλωσι τον κραββατον , they took up the covering, and having broken, or pulled up, namely, as much of the frame or adjoining tiles as was necessary, they let down the couch, which they held by the corners, or by ropes fastened to the corners of it, and so placed him before Jesus while he was preaching to the people who were within, and to as many of those who stood without in the court as could hear.

Some think a more satisfactory interpretation of this passage may be given by referring to Dr. Shaw’s account of the houses in the East. “They are built,” he says, “round a paved court, into which the entrance from the street is through a gateway, or passage-room, furnished with benches, and sufficiently large to be used in receiving visits, or transacting business. The stairs, which lead to the roof, are never placed on the outside of the house in the street, but usually in the gateway or passage-room to the court, and sometimes at the entrance within the court. This court is called in Arabic, the middle of the house, and answers to the midst, in Luke. It is customary to fix cords from the parapet-walls ( Deu 22:8 ) of the flat roofs across this court, and upon them to expand a veil or covering, as a shelter from the heat. In this area, probably, our Saviour taught. The paralytic was brought upon the roof by making a way through the crowd to the stairs in the gateway, or by the terraces of the adjoining houses. They rolled back the veil, and let the sick man down over the parapet-wall of the roof into the area or court of the house before Jesus.” This interpretation, however, seems hardly consistent with the original expressions used by Mark and Luke: particularly the latter, who says, Luke 5:19, Δια των κεραμων καθηκαν αυτον συν τω κλινιδιω , They let him down through the tiling with his couch.

Verses 5-12

Mark 2:5-12. When Jesus saw their faith The faith of the bearers of the paralytic, as well as of the paralytic himself, manifested by their making these extraordinary efforts to bring him to Jesus, he had compassion on the afflicted person, and, previously to his cure, declared publicly that his sins were forgiven. But there were certain of the scribes, &c. See whence the first offence cometh! As yet not one of the plain, unlettered people, were offended. They all rejoiced in the light, till these men of learning came, to put darkness for light, and light for darkness. We to all such blind guides! Good had it been for these if they had never been born. O God, let me never offend one of thy simple ones! Sooner let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth! These scribes, hearing what Christ said, were exceedingly provoked. And though they did not openly find fault, they said in their own minds, or, perhaps, whispered to one another, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? “The word βλασφημια , blasphemy, in profane writings, signifies slander, calumny, or any kind of opprobrious language. But in Scripture it denotes opprobrious speeches against God’s being, attributes, or operations, such as when we ascribe to God the infirmities of men, or to men the perfections and operations of God; it signifies also irreverent speeches, addressed immediately to God, such as when we curse God, as Job’s wife desired him to do.” Macknight. The meaning of the word here is, Why doth this fellow arrogantly assume to himself what belongs to God? a sense which it has 16:65, and in other passages. These Pharisees and teachers of the law, being ignorant of our Lord’s divinity, thought he was guilty of blasphemy in pretending to forgive the man his sins, because it was an assuming of what God had declared to be his incommunicable prerogative, Isaiah 43:25. Whereupon Jesus, knowing all that passed, immediately reasoned with them on the subject of their thoughts, by which he gave them to understand that it was impossible for any thought to come into their minds without his knowledge, and consequently proved himself to be endued with the omniscient Spirit of God. He next demonstrated, by what he said to them, that the power he claimed did really belong to him, demanding, Whether is it easier to say Namely, with authority, so as to effect what is said; Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, ( to command, as the word ειπειν often signifies,) Arise and walk That is, whether is easier, to forgive sins, or to remove that which is inflicted as their punishment? The Pharisees could not but be sensible that these things were one and the same, and therefore they ought to have acknowledged that the power which did the one could really do the other also. If it be objected to this, that the prophets of old wrought miraculous cures of diseases, but never claimed the power of forgiving sins, neither could claim it; the answer is, that the cases are widely different; none of the prophets ever pretended to work miracles by his own power, as Jesus did. The Pharisees making no answer, Jesus, without troubling himself any further, (except to tell them, that what he was about to do would demonstrate his power on earth to forgive sins,) turned to the paralytic, and bade him rise up and carry away his bed. And the words were no sooner pronounced, than the cure was accomplished: the man was made active and strong in an instant. He arose, took up his bed with surprising vigour, and went off, astonished in himself, and raising astonishment in all who beheld him. The Pharisees indeed, it seems, were only confounded; but the rest of the people were not only struck with amazement, but affected with a high degree of reverence for God, and admiration of his power and goodness, glorifying him, and saying, We never saw it on this fashion!

Verses 13-17

Mark 2:13-17. And all the multitude resorted unto him Namely, by the sea-side. And he taught them As readily there as if he had been in a synagogue. And as he passed by he saw Levi, that is, Matthew, sitting, &c. See on Matthew 9:9-13. Many publicans and sinners sat with Jesus Some of them, doubtless, invited by Matthew, moved with compassion for his old companions in sin. But the next words, For they were many, and they followed him, seem to imply that the greater part, encouraged by his gracious words and the tenderness of his behaviour, and impatient to hear more, stayed for no invitation, but pressed in after him, and kept as close to him as they could. And the scribes and the Pharisees said So now the wise men, being joined by the saints of the world, went a little further in raising prejudices against our Lord. In his answer he uses, as yet, no harshness, but only calm, dispassionate reasoning. I came not to call the righteous Therefore if these were righteous, I should not call them. But now they are the very persons I came to save.

Verses 18-22

Mark 2:18-22. The disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast The evangelist here relates another occurrence, which happened while Jesus was in Levi’s house, and bore some resemblance to the former. But of this see the notes on Matthew 9:14-17, where the whole passage occurs.

Verse 23

Mark 2:23. He went through the corn-fields This passage we had Matthew 12:1-8, where it was largely explained. In the days of Abiathar the high-priest From the passage in the history referred to, (1 Samuel 21:1-9,) it appears that Abimelech, the father of Abiathar, was then high-priest; Abiathar himself not till some time after. This phrase, therefore, only means, In the time of Abiathar, who was afterward high- priest. The sabbath was made for man And therefore must give way to man’s necessity. The Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath Being the supreme Lawgiver, he has power to dispense with his own laws, and with this in particular.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Mark 2". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/mark-2.html. 1857.
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