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Bible Commentaries
Mark 2

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New TestamentSchaff's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

Mark 2:1. Capernaum. ‘His own city.’ Matthew 9:1.

After some days. More than one day, but how many does not appear. Still even this indefinite mark of time favors the view, that the order of this Evangelist is exact.

Noised. This suggests a private entrance into the city, and then a general report that He was there.

In the house . The article is wanting in the original; the phrase is equivalent to ‘at home;’ but with the additional idea of having come there. It is therefore probable that the house was His usual residence in Capernaum, but this is not definitely expressed.

Verses 1-12

On the cure of the paralytic, see on Matthew 9:2-8, and comp. Luke 5:17-26. Mark’s account is the most minute and graphic.

Verse 2

Mark 2:2. The description of Mark is here minute, but is paraphrased in the common version.

Insomuch that not even the parts about (or ‘towards’) the door (much less the house), could any longer hold them . This suggests a constantly increasing crowd, at length filling even the porch leading from the interior court to the door.

He was speaking the word, i.e., ‘was teaching’ (Luke). He was doing this when this incident occurred. From Luke’s account we infer that He had already healed others on this occasion.

Verse 3

Mark 2:3. Borne of four. ‘In a bed’ Mark 2:4 (and Luke). Mark alone mentions the number of men.

Verse 4

Mark 2:4. Could not come nigh unto him. The doorway was full (Mark 2:2).

They uncovered ( unroofed) the roof where he was . Luke says what is here implied: ‘they went upon the housetop,’ probably by an outside staircase. That they merely removed the awning from the court is not in accordance with what is added: and when they had broken it up, or ‘dug it out.’ Besides Luke explicitly says that the man was let down ‘through the tiling’ (tiles). The supposition that the parapet alone was broken through is open to the same objection. It is most probable that our Lord was in the upper room, usually the largest in an Eastern house; that the crowd was in the court, as Mark 2:2 implies, and that these men actually removed the tiles on the roof and broke through the plaster or clay of the roof itself. This was an evidence of their earnest ness.

The bed. A different word from those used by Matthew and Luke. It denotes a mattress, sometimes merely a sheepskin, used for the service of the sick, or as a camp-bed. Of course bedsteads were and are unknown in the East.

Verse 5

Mark 2:5. See on Matthew 9:2. ‘Be of good cheer,’ is omitted here, and in Luke’s account, the latter has ‘Man’ instead of ‘Son.’

Verse 6

Mark 2:6. Certain of the scribes sitting there. The authorized expounders of the law. Luke defines them more particularly (Mark 5:17). These were of the Pharisaical party. From Luke’s account and from the term ‘sitting,’ we infer that they came early; it is probable they were in the upper room where our Lord was, nearer to Him and in the most conspicuous position.

In their hearts. That they did not speak, seems clear from the various accounts.

Verse 7

Mark 2:7. Why doth this man thus speak? He blasphemeth! Who can , etc. This is the best established sense of the verse. ‘This one,’ contemptuously; ‘thus,’ i.e., such great things; the words in the original resemble each other: This one in this wise. If our Lord were what the scribes deemed Him, their judgment was correct. This occurrence is to prove the incorrectness of their estimate of Him.

Verse 8

Mark 2:8. In his spirit. An immediate and supernatural knowledge is thus indicated: itself no slight evidence of His power to forgive sins.

Why reason ye? Comp, on Matthew 9:4, where their thoughts are called ‘evil.’

Verses 9-11

Mark 2:9-11. See on Matthew 9:5; Matthew 9:7.

Verse 12

Mark 2:12. Before them all. A hint that the account comes from an eye-witness.

They were all amazed , etc. Matthew, ‘feared;’ Luke combines all three, and tells that the man also glorified God. The impression produced was a very powerful one, and the emotions were of a mixed character: wonder, gratitude, and fear.

We never saw it on this fashion, or, ‘thus.’ This was the prevalent feeling, a conviction that the kingdom of God was manifesting itself as never before. It is scarcely necessary to suppose that it is a comparison with previous miracles. The remarkable feature (Luke: ‘strange things’), was the attestation of the miracle to the power to forgive sins (Matthew: ‘glorified God, who had given such authority to men ‘).

Verses 13-14

Mark 2:13-14. The call of Levi . Undoubtedly the same as Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist. See on Matthew 9:9. The three accounts agree in matter, but with the usual variation in words. Mark 2:13 is more specific than the parallel passages.

Went forth again. Either with a reference to Mark 2:1 (‘He entered again’), or possibly in allusion to the previous call of four disciples by the sea-side (chap. Mark 1:16, etc.).

Verses 13-22

ON the chronology, see on Matthew 9:2-17. According to the view there defended, the feast and discourse (Mark 2:15-22) occurred some time after the call of Levi, and these verses only, in the first thirteen chapters of Mark, are out of chronological order.

Verse 15

Mark 2:15. In his house. That of Levi, who made the feast for our Lord (Luke 5:29). The passage before us does not decide this, but any other view needlessly creates a discrepancy. Our Lord did not pass directly from the custom house to the feast. In all three accounts the interval is left indefinite. See on Matthew 9:10. The narrative is lively in style.

For they were many and they followed him. Mark alone gives this reason for the number of publicans and sinners gathered there, namely, that persons of these classes were numerous and that they very generally followed Christ. The fact that the host was one of the former class (and would naturally gather his associates), is brought out by Luke.

Verses 15-22

Mark 2:15-22. The feast at Levi’s house and discourses there. See on Matthew 9:10-17 .

Verse 16

Mark 2:16. See on Matthew 9:11. Both Mark and Luke, in different forms, say that these scribes were of the Pharisees, i.e., of that party.

When they saw that he eateth. It is probable that they came, not as guests, but toward the close of the feast, so that they may or may not have actually witnessed this as lookers on. Luke (Luke 5:30) represents the objection as made against the disciples. Their criticism probably included both the master and His followers. The correct form: He eateth ……sinners! points to an exclamation of surprise, which may have preceded the hostile question. On Mark 2:17, see on Matthew 9:12.

Verse 18

Mark 2:18. And John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. This explanatory remark, peculiar to Mark, may point to some particular fast, which these classes were then observing. The form of the question in Matthew and Luke indicates the habits of these classes.

They come. Matthew says ‘the disciples of John’ asked the question. Luke seems to put it in the mouth of the Pharisees, while this phrase joins both classes as inquirers. The two were gradually coming together. See on Matthew 9:14.

Verses 19-22

Mark 2:19-22. See on Matthew 9:15-17. The matter is precisely the same, but Mark is in some respects fuller than the others, showing that his account cannot be an abridgment of the others. Comp. especially the phrase: the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees.

As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast . This repetition is peculiar to Mark.

In that day. Mark, though so concise, seems fond of such solemn and specifying repetitions.

Verse 21

Mark 2:21. That which filleth it up (lit, ‘the fulness’) taketh away from it, the new from the old, and a worse rent is made . The form is peculiar to Mark, and characteristic of his lively style. The variations show entire independence. Compare: the wine will burst the skins, and the wine perisheth, and the skins, with Matthew 9:17; Luke 5:37.

Verse 23

Mark 2:23. His disciples began. While so doing they were interrupted by the objection of the Pharisees.

Began to make their way, plucking off the ears. That they ate the grain, appears not only from the parallel passages, but from the reference to David’s eating (Mark 2:26). Some think the sense is: broke a way through the grain by plucking off the ears. But this would not have been necessary, since they could tread a path through. Evidently this account also in Mark 2:27 points to an act of necessity. Mark chooses the phrase in accordance with his graphic style.

Verses 23-28

CHRONOLOGY . See on Matthew 11:1-21. These events took place just before the choosing of the Twelve (Mark 2:14, etc.). On the theory of a three years’ ministry in Galilee, they occurred shortly after the visit to Jerusalem mentioned in John 5:0, when the enmity of the Jews was awakened on this point of Sabbath observance. The interval between the call of Levi and these controversies may have been of considerable length.

Verse 24

Mark 2:24. See on Matthew 12:21, for the Pharisaical views of the Sabbath.

Verse 26

Mark 2:26. When Abiathar was high-priest. The argument is the same as in Matthew 12:3-4. The name here introduced occasions some difficulty. According to 1 Samuel 21:0 ‘Ahimelech’ was the high-priest who gave David the hallowed bread. ‘Abiathar’ was the son of Ahimelech (1 Samuel 22:20) and the friend of David. He afterwards became high-priest, being the only one of his father’s family who escaped from the anger of Saul. Some have therefore supposed that the title ‘high-priest’ is given to him, because he afterwards held the office. But the original (according to the correct reading) is almost equivalent to: during the high-priesthood of Abiathar. Probably both father and son had the two names, Ahimelech and Abiathar. In 2 Samuel 8:17, and 1 Chronicles 24:6, ‘Ahimelech the son of Abiathar ‘is spoken of where the same father and son are undoubtedly referred to, since the time was during the reign of David, after the father had been killed by Doeg (1 Samuel 22:0). In 1 Samuel 14:3, the father is called Ahiah (‘the son of Ahitub’); in 1 Chronicles 18:16, the son is called, ‘Ahimelech the son of Abiathar.’ The father was certainly called ‘Abiathar,’ and, as actual high-priest, is here meant. This explanation is the simplest.

Verse 27

Mark 2:27. The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Peculiar to Mark, but intimately connected with the quotation from Hosea (Matthew 12:7). The Sabbath is a means to an end; it was instituted by God (in Paradise, and, like marriage, has survived the fall), for the moral and physical benefit of man. To this gracious end, as all experience shows, the observance of one day in seven as a day of RELIGIOUS REST is a necessary means. Pharisaism makes the observance itself the end, and so establishes its minute rules, as shown in the days of our Lord.

Irreligion misapprehends the end, by forgetting that man’s spiritual needs are to be met, and hence despises the means, namely, a religious observance of the Christian Sabbath. But because ‘the Sabbath was made for man,’ because of our needs, the first day of the week which our Redeemer, as Lord of the Sabbath, has substituted for the seventh day, is to be observed by Christians, not as a day of pleasure-seeking, or even of excessive religious exertion, but as a time for physical rest combined with a religious activity and enjoyment. Like all Christian duty, Sabbath observance is to be prompted by love, by a desire for such religious enjoyment, not by any minute rules of Pharisaism. To observe the Christian Sabbath in such a way that our temporal and spiritual welfare is thereby furthered is in one aspect a far more difficult duty than to conform to Pharisaical external rules on the subject. But it becomes easy, as other duties do, under the promptings of grateful love to ‘the Lord of the Sabbath.’ While Christian men may hold a different theory, the workings of that theory on the continent of Europe proves its incorrectness. While the State cannot make men religious, or secure a Christian observance of the Sabbath, it can and ought to prevent its open desecration, and to protect Christian citizens in their right to a day of rest, which is also necessary for the welfare of the state itself. ‘Man’ here includes children. For them, also, Sabbath observance should be a means, not an end. Too often parents, from conscientious motives, have exacted from their children only a legal, Pharisaical observance of the day, making it a burden and a dread to them. It should rather be used as a day for the training of the little ones, not in Pharisaism, but in the gospel of Jesus Christ; so that, as soon as possible it may Become to them a day of religious pleasure Neither pastor nor Sunday-school teacher can do this so well as parents.

Verse 28

Mark 2:28. So that the Son of man it Lord also of the Sabbath. The connection here differs from that of the other accounts, and the idea is more full. Since the Sabbath was made for the benefit of man, it follows that the Son of Man (the Messiah, but especially in His character as the Head and Representative of humanity) is Lord (Sovereign over all that belongs to the interest of man and hence) also of the Sabbath; i.e., not for its abolition, but for its true fulfilment; comp, Matthew 5:17. See further on Matthew 12:8.

Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Mark 2". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/scn/mark-2.html. 1879-90.
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