Capernaum: See study note on Mt 4:13.
at home: Jesus spent most of the first three years of his ministry in and around Galilee with Capernaum the center of his activity. He may have stayed at the home of Peter and Andrew.—Mr 1:29; see study note on Mt 9:1.
removed the roof . . . digging an opening: The roofs of many houses in first-century Israel were flat and were accessed by means of stairs or an external ladder. Mark’s account does not specifically state what the roof of this house was made of. But roofs were often constructed of wooden beams covered with branches, reeds, and a layer of earth, which was plastered. Some houses had tiles; according to Luke’s account, the man was lowered “through the tiling.” (See study note on Lu 5:19.) The friends of the paralytic man could easily have made an opening that would allow enough space to lower the stretcher into the crowded room below.
saw their faith: See study note on Mt 9:2.
Child: See study note on Mt 9:2.
by his spirit: Or “in himself (in his own mind).” Here the Greek word pneuʹma evidently refers to Jesus’ perceptive powers. Isa 11:2, 3 says about the Messiah: “The spirit of Jehovah will settle upon him,” so he would not base his judgment on “what appears to his eyes.” As a result, Jesus was able to discern the thinking, reasoning, and motives of others.—Joh 2:24, 25.
Which is easier: It would be easy for someone to say that he could forgive sins, since no visible evidence would be needed in order to substantiate such a claim. But to say, Get up . . . and walk required a miracle that would make plain for all to see that Jesus had the authority to forgive sins. This account and Isa 33:24 link sickness to our sinful condition.
Son of man: See study note on Mt 8:20.
to forgive sins on earth—: See study note on Mt 9:6.
Levi: In the parallel account at Mt 9:9, this disciple is called Matthew. When referring to him as a former tax collector, Mark and Luke use the name Levi (Lu 5:27, 29), but they use the name Matthew when mentioning him as one of the apostles (Mr 3:18; Lu 6:15; Ac 1:13). The Scriptures do not reveal whether Levi already had the name Matthew before becoming a disciple of Jesus. Mark is the only Gospel writer to mention that Matthew Levi was the son of Alphaeus.—See study note on Mr 3:18.
tax office: Or “tax collection booth.” This could be a small building or a booth where the tax collector sat and gathered taxes on exports, imports, and goods taken through a country by merchants. Levi, also known as Matthew, worked at a tax office located in or near Capernaum.
Be my follower: The Greek verb used in this exhortation has the basic sense of “to go along behind, come after,” but here it means “to follow someone as a disciple.”
dining: Or “reclining at the table.” To recline with someone at a table indicated close fellowship with that person. Thus, Jews in Jesus’ day would normally never have reclined at the table, or taken a meal, with non-Jews.
tax collectors: See study note on Mt 5:46.
sinners: See study note on Mt 9:10.
tax collectors: See study note on Mt 5:46.
practice fasting: See study note on Mt 6:16.
friends of the bridegroom: See study note on Mt 9:15.
wine into . . . wineskins: See study note on Mt 9:17.
through the grainfields: See study note on Mt 12:1.
Sabbath: See Glossary.
what is not lawful: See study note on Mt 12:2.
in the account about: The Greek preposition e·piʹ used here can refer to time or to place/location, such as a passage of Scripture. Most translators understand it to mean “when (Abiathar was . . . ).” However, as explained in the study note on Abiathar the chief priest in this verse, the historical event that Jesus is referring to (1Sa 21:1-6) makes it more likely that the Greek preposition should be understood in a locative sense, that is, referring to a Scriptural account. A similar Greek structure is found at Mr 12:26 and Lu 20:37, where many translations use the phrase “in the account (passage) about.”
Abiathar the chief priest: The Greek term used here may be rendered “high priest” or “chief priest.” The latter rendering is more appropriate for Abiathar, since his father, Ahimelech, was high priest on the occasion described. (1Sa 21:1-6) Abiathar is first mentioned shortly after David entered the house of God and ate the showbread. It seems that as a son of High Priest Ahimelech, Abiathar was already serving as a prominent, or chief, priest at that time. He was the only son of Ahimelech to survive the slaughter by Doeg the Edomite. (1Sa 22:18-20) He later became high priest, evidently during David’s reign. Even if the rendering “high priest” is used, the Greek construction rendered “in the account about” is broad and may refer to the larger section of 1 Samuel chapters 21 to 23, where a number of references are made to Abiathar, who later became a well-known high priest. Some Greek scholars favor the rendering “in the time of Abiathar the high priest,” which could also refer to the overall time period, including the time when Abiathar later became high priest. Whatever the explanation, we can be sure that this statement of Jesus was in harmony with the historical facts.
house of God: Here referring to the tabernacle. The account Jesus refers to (1Sa 21:1-6) occurred when the tabernacle was located at Nob, a town evidently in the territory of Benjamin and close to Jerusalem.—See App. B7 (inset).
Lord . . . of the Sabbath: Jesus applies this expression to himself (Mt 12:8; Lu 6:5), indicating that the Sabbath was at his disposal for doing the work commanded by his heavenly Father. (Compare Joh 5:19; 10:37, 38.) On the Sabbath, Jesus performed some of his most outstanding miracles, which included healing the sick. (Lu 13:10-13; Joh 5:5-9; 9:1-14) This evidently foreshadowed the kind of relief he will bring during his Kingdom rule, which will be like a sabbath rest.—Heb 10:1.