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Chapter 9

9:1 His own city [tēn idian polin]. Capernaum (Mr 2:1; Mt 4:13).

9:2 They brought [prosepheron]. Imperfect, “were bringing,” graphic picture made very vivid by the details in Mr 2:1-4 and Lu 5:17. ”Lying on a bed” (stretched on a couch), perfect passive participle, a little bed or couch [klinidion] in Lu 5:19, “a pallet” [krabatos] in Mr 2:4, 9, 11. Thy sins are forgiven [aphientai]. Present passive indicative (aoristic present). Luke (Lu 5:21) has [apheōntai], Doric and Ionic perfect passive indicative for the Attic [apheintai], one of the dialectical forms appearing in the Koinē.

9:3 This man blasphemeth [houtos blasphēmei]. See the sneer in “this fellow.” “The prophet always is a scandalous, irreverent blasphemer from the conventional point of view” (Bruce).

9:6 That ye may know [hina eidēte]. Jesus accepts the challenge in the thoughts of the scribes and performs the miracle of healing the paralytic, who so far only had his sins forgiven, to prove his Messianic power on earth to forgive sins even as God does. The word [exousia] may mean either power or authority. He had both as a matter of fact. Note same word in 9:8. Then saith he to the sick of the palsy [tote legei tōi paralutikōi]. These words of course, were not spoken by Jesus. Curiously enough Matthew interjects them right in the midst of the sayings of Jesus in reply to the scorn of the scribes. Still more remarkable is the fact that Mark (Mr 2:10) has precisely the same words in the same place save that Matthew has added [tote], of which he is fond, to what Mark already had. Mark, as we know, largely reports Peter’s words and sees with Peter’s eyes. Luke has the same idea in the same place without the vivid historical present [legei (eipen tōi paralelumenōi)] with the participle in place of the adjective. This is one of the many proofs that both Matthew and Luke made use of Mark’s Gospel each in his own way. Take up thy bed [āron sou tēn klinēn]. Pack up at once (aorist active imperative) the rolled-up pallet.

9:9 At the place of toll [epi to telōnion]. The tax-office or custom-house of Capernaum placed here to collect taxes from the boats going across the lake outside of Herod’s territory or from people going from Damascus to the coast, a regular caravan route. ”Called Matthew” [Maththaion legomenon] and in 10:3 Matthew the publican is named as one of the Twelve Apostles. Mark (Mr 2:14) and Luke (Lu 5:27) call this man Levi. He had two names as was common, Matthew Levi. The publicans [telōnai] get their name in English from the Latin publicanus (a man who did public duty), not a very accurate designation. They were detested because they practised graft. Even Gabinius the proconsul of Syria was accused by Cicero of relieving Syrians and Jews of legitimate taxes for graft. He ordered some of the tax-officers removed. Already Jesus had spoken of the publican (5:46) in a way that shows the public disfavour in which they were held.

9:10 Publicans and sinners [telōnai kai hamartōloi]. Often coupled together in common scorn and in contrast with the righteous [dikaioi] in 9:13). It was a strange medley at Levi’s feast (Jesus and the four fisher disciples, Nathanael and Philip; Matthew Levi and his former companions, publicans and sinners; Pharisees with their scribes or students as on-lookers; disciples of John the Baptist who were fasting at the very time that Jesus was feasting and with such a group). The Pharisees criticize sharply “your teacher” for such a social breach of “reclining” together with publicans at Levi’s feast.

9:12 But they that are sick [alla hoi kakōs echontes]. Probably a current proverb about the physician. As a physician of body and soul Jesus was bound to come in close touch with the social outcasts.

9:13 But go ye and learn [poreuthentes de mathete]. With biting sarcasm Jesus bids these preachers to learn the meaning of Ho 6:6. It is repeated in Mt 12:7. Ingressive aorist imperative [mathete].

9:14 The disciples of John [hoi mathētai Iōanou]. One is surprised to find disciples of the Baptist in the role of critics of Christ along with the Pharisees. But John was languishing in prison and they perhaps were blaming Jesus for doing nothing about it. At any rate John would not have gone to Levi’s feast on one of the Jewish fast-days. “The strict asceticism of the Baptist (11:18) and of the Pharisaic rabbis (Lu 18:12) was imitated by their disciples” (McNeile).

9:15 The sons of the bride-chamber [hoi huioi tou numphōnos]. It is a late Hebrew idiom for the wedding guests, “the friends of the bridegroom and all the sons of the bride-chamber” (Tos. Berak. ii. 10). Cf. Joh 2:29.

9:16 Undressed cloth [rhakous agnaphou]. An unfulled, raw piece of woollen cloth that will shrink when wet and tear a bigger hole than ever. A worse rent [cheiron schisma]. Our word “schism.” The ”patch” [plērōma], filling up) thus does more harm than good.

9:17 Old wineskins [askous palaious]. Not glass ”bottles” but wineskins used as bottles as is true in Palestine yet, goatskins with the rough part inside. “Our word bottle originally carried the true meaning, being a bottle of leather. In Spanish bota means a leather bottle, a boot, and a butt. In Spain wine is still brought to market in pig-skins ” (Vincent). The new wine will ferment and crack the dried-up old skins. The wine is spilled [ekcheitai], poured out.

9:18 Is even now dead [arti eteleutēsen]. Aorist tense with [arti] and so better, “just now died,” “just dead” (Moffatt). Mark (Mr 5:23) has it “at the point of death,” Luke (Lu 8:42) “lay a dying.” It is not always easy even for physicians to tell when actual death has come. Jesus in 9:24 pointedly said, “The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth,” meaning that she did not die to stay dead.

9:20 The border of his garment [tou kraspedou tou himatiou]. The hem or fringe of a garment, a tassel or tuft hanging from the edge of the outer garment according to Nu 15:38. It was made of twisted wool. Jesus wore the dress of other people with these fringes at the four corners of the outer garment. The Jews actually counted the words Jehovah One from the numbers of the twisted white threads, a refinement that Jesus had no concern for. This poor woman had an element of superstition in her faith as many people have, but Jesus honours her faith and cures her.

9:23 The flute-players [tous aulētas]. The girl was just dead, but already a crowd “making a tumult” [thoruboumenon] with wild wailing and screaming had gathered in the outer court, “brought together by various motives, sympathy, money, desire to share in the meat and drink going at such a time” (Bruce). Besides the several flute-players (voluntary or hired) there were probably “some hired mourning women (Jer 9:17) praeficae, whose duty it was to sing naenia in praise of the dead” (Bruce). These when put out by Jesus, “laughed him to scorn” [kategelōn], in a sort of loud and repeated (imperfect) guffaw of scorn. Jesus overcame all this repellent environment.

9:27 As Jesus passed by [paragonti Iēsou]. Associative instrumental case with [ēkolouthēsan]. It was the supreme opportunity of these two blind men. Note two demoniacs in Mt 8:28 and two blind men in Mt 20:30. See the same word [paragōn] used of Jesus in 9:9.

9:29 Touched their eyes [hēpsato tōn ophthalmōn]. The men had faith (9:28) and Jesus rewards their faith and yet he touched their eyes as he sometimes did with kindly sympathy.

9:30 Were opened [ēneōichthēsan]. Triple augment (on [oi=ōi, e] and then on preposition [an = ēn]. Strictly charged them [enebrimēthē autois]. A difficult word, compound of [en] and [brimaomai] (to be moved with anger). It is used of horses snorting (Aeschylus, Theb. 461), of men fretting or being angry (Da 11:30). Allen notes that it occurs twice in Mark (Mr 1:43; 14:5) when Matthew omits it. It is found only here in Matthew. John has it twice in a different sense (Joh 11:33 with [en heautōi]. Here and in Mr 1:32 it has the notion of commanding sternly, a sense unknown to ancient writers. Most manuscripts have the middle [enebrimēsato], but Aleph and B have the passive [enebrimēthē] which Westcott and Hort accept, but without the passive sense (cf. [apekrithē]. “The word describes rather a rush of deep feeling which in the synoptic passages showed itself in a vehement injunctive and in Joh 11:33 in look and manner” (McNeile). Bruce translates Euthymius Zigabenus on Mr 1:32: “Looked severely, contracting His eyebrows, and shaking His head at them as they are wont to do who wish to make sure that secrets will be kept.” “See to it, let no one know it” [horate, mēdeis ginōsketō]. Note elliptical change of persons and number in the two imperatives.

9:32 A dumb man [kōphon]. Literally blunted in tongue as here and so dumb, in ear as in Mt 11:5 and so deaf. Homer used it of a blunted dart (Iliad xi. 390). Others applied it to mental dulness.

9:34 By the prince of the devils [en tōi archonti tōn daimoniōn]. Demons, not devils. The codex Bezae omits this verse, but it is probably genuine. The Pharisees are becoming desperate and, unable to deny the reality of the miracles, they seek to discredit them by trying to connect Jesus with the devil himself, the prince of the demons. They will renew this charge later (Mt 12:24) when Jesus will refute it with biting sarcasm.

9:35 And Jesus went about [kai periēgen ho Iēsous]. Imperfect tense descriptive of this third tour of all Galilee.

9:36 Were distressed and scattered [ēsan eskulmenoi kai erimmenoi]. Periphrastic past perfect indicative passive. A sad and pitiful state the crowds were in. Rent or mangled as if by wild beasts. [Skullō] occurs in the papyri in sense of plunder, concern, vexation. “Used here of the common people, it describes their religious condition. They were harassed, importuned, bewildered by those who should have taught them; hindered from entering into the kingdom of heaven (23:13), laden with the burdens which the Pharisees laid upon them (23:3). [Erimmenoi] denotes men cast down and prostrate on the ground, whether from drunkenness, Polyb. v. 48.2, or from mortal wounds” (Allen): This perfect passive participle from [rhiptō], to throw down. The masses were in a state of mental dejection. No wonder that Jesus was moved with compassion [esplagchnisthē].

9:38 That he send forth labourers [hopōs ekbalēi ergatas]. Jesus turns from the figure of the shepherdless sheep to the harvest field ripe and ready for the reapers. The verb [ekballō] really means to drive out, to push out, to draw out with violence or without. Prayer is the remedy offered by Jesus in this crisis for a larger ministerial supply. How seldom do we hear prayers for more preachers. Sometimes God literally has to push or force a man into the ministry who resists his known duty.

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