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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Mark: Chapter 2)

2:1 {Again into Capernaum after some days} (\palin eis
Kapharnaoum di' hēmerōn\)
. After the first tour of Galilee when
Jesus is back in the city which is now the headquarters for the
work in Galilee. The phrase \di' hēmerōn\ means days coming in
between (\dia, duo\, two) the departure and return. {In the
(\en oikōi\). More exactly, {at home}, in the home of
Peter, now the home of Jesus. Another picture directly from
Peter's discourse. Some of the manuscripts have here \eis oikon\,
illustrating the practical identity in meaning of \en\ and \eis\
(Robertson, _Grammar_, pp. 591-6). {It was noised} (\ēkousthē\).
It was heard (first aorist, passive indicative from \akouō\, to
. People spread the rumour, "He is at home, he is indoors."

2:2 {So that there was no longer room for them, no, not even
about the door}
(\hōste mēketi chōrein mēde ta pros tēn thuran\).
Another graphic Markan detail seen through Peter's eyes. The
double compound negative in the Greek intensifies the negative.
This house door apparently opened into the street, not into a
court as in the larger houses. The house was packed inside and
there was a jam outside. {And he spake the word unto them} (\kai
elalei autois ton logon\)
. And he was speaking the word unto
them, Mark's favourite descriptive imperfect tense (\elalei\).
Note this word \laleō\ about the preaching of Jesus (originally
just sounds like the chatter of birds, the prattling of children,
but here of the most serious kind of speech.)
As contrasted with
\legō\ (to say) it is rather an onomatopoetic word with some
emphasis on the sound and manner of speaking. The word is com-
mon in the vernacular papyri examples of social inter-course.

2:3 {And they come} (\kai erchontai\). Fine illustration of
Mark's vivid dramatic historical present preserved by Luke Lu
5:18, but not by Mt 9:2 (imperfect). {Borne by four}
(\airomenon hupo tessarōn\). Another picturesque Markan detail
not in the others.

2:4 {Come nigh} (\proseggisai\). But Westcott and Hort read
\prosenegkai\, to bring to, after Aleph, B, L, 33, 63 (cf. Joh
. {They uncovered the roof} (\apestegasan tēn stegēn\).
They unroofed the roof (note paronomasia in the Greek and cognate
. The only instance of this verb in the N.T. A rare
word in late Greek, no papyrus example given in Moulton and
Milligan _Vocabulary_. They climbed up a stairway on the outside
or ladder to the flat tile roof and dug out or broke up
(\exoruxantes\) the tiles (the roof). There were thus tiles (\dia
tōn keramōn\, Lu 5:19)
of laths and plaster and even slabs of
stone stuck in for strength that had to be dug out. It is not
clear where Jesus was (\hopou ēn\), either downstairs,
(Holtzmann) or upstairs (Lightfoot), or in the quadrangle
(_atrium_ or _compluvium_, if the house had one). "A composition
of mortar, tar, ashes and sand is spread upon the roofs, and
rolled hard, and grass grows in the crevices. On the houses of
the poor in the country the grass grows more freely, and goats
may be seen on the roofs cropping it" (Vincent). {They let down
the bed}
(\chalōsi ton krabatton\), historical present again,
aorist tense in Lu 5:19 (\kathēkan\). The verb means to lower
from a higher place as from a boat. Probably the four men had a
rope fastened to each corner of the pallet or poor man's bed
(\krabatton\, Latin _grabatus_. So one of Mark's Latin words).
Matthew (Mt 9:2) has \klinē\, general term for bed. Luke has
\klinidion\ (little bed or couch). Mark's word is common in the
papyri and is spelled also \krabbatos\, sometimes \krabatos\,
while W, Codex Washingtonius, has it \krabbaton\.

2:5 {Their faith} (\tēn pistin autōn\). The faith of the four men
and of the man himself. There is no reason for excluding his
faith. They all had confidence in the power and willingness of
Jesus to heal this desperate case. {Are forgiven} (\aphientai\,
aoristic present passive, cf. punctiliar action, Robertson's
_Grammar_, pp. 864ff.)
. So Mt 9:3, but Lu 5:20 has the Doric
perfect passive \apheōntai\. The astonishing thing both to the
paralytic and to the four friends is that Jesus forgave his sins
instead of healing him. The sins had probably caused the

2:6 {Sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts} (\ekei
kathēmenoi kai dialogizomenoi en tais kardiais autōn\)
. Another
of Mark's pictures through Peter's eyes. These scribes (and
Pharisees, Lu 5:21)
were there to cause trouble, to pick flaws
in the teaching and conduct of Jesus. His popularity and power
had aroused their jealousy. There is no evidence that they spoke
aloud the murmur in their hearts, "within themselves" (Mt 9:3).
It was not necessary, for their looks gave them away and Jesus
knew their thoughts (Mt 9:4) and perceived their reasoning (Lu
. {Instantly Jesus recognized it in his own spirit}
(\euthus epignous ho Iēsous tōi pneumati autou\, Mr 2:8). The
Master at once recognizes the hostile atmosphere in the house.
The debate (\dialogizomenoi\) in their hearts was written on
their faces. No sound had come, but feeling did.

2:7 {He blasphemeth} (\blasphēmei\). This is the unspoken charge
in their hearts which Jesus read like an open book. The correct
text here has this verb. They justify the charge with the
conviction that God alone has the power (\dunatai\) to forgive
sins. The word \blasphēmeō\ means injurious speech or slander. It
was, they held, blasphemy for Jesus to assume this divine
prerogative. Their logic was correct. The only flaw in it was the
possibility that Jesus held a peculiar relation to God which
justified his claim. So the two forces clash here as now on the
deity of Christ Jesus. Knowing full well that he had exercised
the prerogative of God in forgiving the man's sins he proceeds to
justify his claim by healing the man.

2:10 {That ye may know} (\hina eidēte\). The scribes could have
said either of the alternatives in verse 9 with equal futility.
Jesus could say either with equal effectiveness. In fact Jesus
chose the harder first, the forgiveness which they could not see.
So he now performs the miracle of healing which all could see,
that all could know that (the Son of Man, Christ's favourite
designation of himself, a claim to be the Messiah in terms that
could not be easily attacked)
he really had the authority and
power (\exousian\) to forgive sins. He has the right and power
here on earth to forgive sins, here and now without waiting for
the day of judgment. {He saith to the sick of the palsy}
(\legei\). This remarkable parenthesis in the middle of the
sentence occurs also in Mt 9:6 and Lu 5:24, proof that both
Matthew and Luke followed Mark's narrative. It is inconceivable
that all three writers should independently have injected the
same parenthesis at the same place.

2:12 {Before them all} (\emprosthen pantōn\). Lu 5:25 follows
Mark in this detail. He picked up (\aras\) his pallet and walked
and went home as Jesus had commanded him to do (Mr 2:11). It
was an amazing proceeding and made it unnecessary for Jesus to
refute the scribes further on this occasion. The amazement
(\existasthai\, our _ecstasy_, as Lu 5:26 has it), was too
general and great for words. The people could only say: "We never
saw it on this fashion" (\Houtōs oudepote eidamen\). Jesus had
acted with the power of God and claimed equality with God and had
made good his claim. They all marvelled at the {paradoxes}
(\paradoxa\, Lu 5:26) of that day. For it all they glorified

2:13 {By the seaside} (\para tēn thalassan\). A pretty picture of
Jesus walking by the sea and a walk that Jesus loved (Mr 1:16;
Mt 4:18)
. Probably Jesus went out from the crowd in Peter's
house as soon as he could. It was a joy to get a whiff of fresh
air by the sea. But it was not long till all the crowd began to
come to Jesus (\ērcheto\, imperfect) and Jesus was teaching them
(\edidasken\, imperfect). It was the old story over again, but
Jesus did not run away.

2:14 {And as he passed by} (\kai paragōn\). Present participle
active, was passing by. Jesus was constantly on the alert for
opportunities to do good. An unlikely specimen was Levi
(Matthew), son of Alpheus, sitting at the toll-gate (\telōnion\)
on the Great West Road from Damascus to the Mediterranean. He was
a publican (\telōnēs\) who collected toll for Herod Antipas. The
Jews hated or despised these publicans and classed them with
sinners (\hamartōloi\). The challenge of Jesus was sudden and
sharp, but Levi (Matthew) was ready to respond at once. He had
heard of Jesus and quickly decided. Great decisions are often
made on a moment's notice. Levi is a fine object lesson for
business men who put off service to Christ to carry on their

2:16 {The scribes of the Pharisees} (\hoi grammateis tōn
. This is the correct text. Cf. "their scribes" in
Lu 5:30. Matthew gave a great reception (\dochēn\, Lu 5:29)
in his house (Mr 2:15). These publicans and sinners not simply
accepted Levi's invitation, but they imitated his example "and
were following Jesus" (\kai ēkolouthoun autōi\). It was a motly
crew from the standpoint of these young theologues, scribes of
the Pharisees, who were on hand, being invited to pick flaws if
they could. It was probably in the long hall of the house where
the scribes stood and ridiculed Jesus and the disciples, unless
they stood outside, feeling too pious to go into the house of a
publican. It was an offence for a Jew to eat with Gentiles as
even many of the early Jewish Christians felt (Ac 11:3) and
publicans and sinners were regarded like Gentiles (1Co 5:11).

2:17 {The righteous} (\dikaious\). Jesus for the sake of argument
accepts the claim of the Pharisees to be righteous, though, as a
matter of fact, they fell very far short of it. Elsewhere (Mt
Jesus shows that the Pharisees were extortionate and
devoured widows' houses and wore a cloak of pride and
hypocritical respectability. The words "unto repentance" (\eis
are not genuine in Mark, but are in Lu 5:32. Jesus
called men to new spiritual life and away from sin and so to
repentance. But this claim stopped their mouths against what
Jesus was doing. The well or the strong (\ischuontes\) are not
those who need the physician in an epidemic.

2:18 {John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting} (\ēsan hoi
mathētai Iōanou kai hoi Pharisaioi nēsteuontes\)
. The
periphrastic imperfect, so common in Mark's vivid description.
Probably Levi's feast happened on one of the weekly fast-days
(second and fifth days of the week for the stricter Jews). So
there was a clash of standpoints. The disciples of John sided
with the Pharisees in the Jewish ceremonial ritualistic
observances. John was still a prisoner in Machaerus. John was
more of an ascetic than Jesus (Mt 18f.; Lu 7:33-35), but
neither one pleased all the popular critics. These learners
(\mathētai\) or disciples of John had missed the spirit of their
leader when they here lined up with the Pharisees against Jesus.
But there was no real congeniality between the formalism of the
Pharisees and the asceticism of John the Baptist. The Pharisees
hated John who had denounced them as broods of vipers. Here the
disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees (\hoi
mathētai Iōanou kai hoi mathētai tōn Pharisaiōn\)
join in
criticizing Jesus and his disciples. Later we shall see
Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians, who bitterly detested each
other, making com- mon cause against Jesus Christ. So today we
find various hostile groups combining against our Lord and
Saviour. See on ¯Mt 9:14-17 for comments. Matthew has here
followed Mark closely.

2:19 {The sons of the bridechamber} (\hoi huioi tou numphōnos\).
Not merely the groomsmen, but the guests also, the \paranymphs\
(\paranumphoi\ of the old Greek). Jesus here adopts the Baptist's
own metaphor (Joh 3:29), changing the friend of the bridegroom
(\ho philos tou numphiou\) to sons of the bridechamber. Jesus
identifies himself with the bridegroom of the O.T. (Ho 2:21),
God in his covenant relation with Israel (Swete). Mourning does
not suit the wedding feast. Mark, Matthew, and Luke all give the
three parables (bridegroom, unfulled cloth, new wineskins)
illustrating and defending the conduct of Jesus in feasting with
Levi on a Jewish fast-day. Lu 5:36 calls these parables. Jesus
here seems iconoclastic to the ecclesiastics and revolutionary in
emphasis on the spiritual instead of the ritualistic and

2:21 {Seweth on} (\epirhaptei\). Here only in the N.T. or
elsewhere, though the uncompounded verb \rhaptō\ (to sew) is
common enough, {sews upon:} in Mt 9:16 and Lu 5:37 use
\epiballei\, put upon or clap upon.

2:22 {But new wine into fresh wineskins} (\alla oinon neon eis
askous kainous\)
. Westcott and Hort bracket this clause as a
Western non-interpolation though omitted only in D and some old
Latin MSS. It is genuine in Lu 5:38 and may be so here.

2:23 {Through the cornfields} (\dia tōn sporimōn\). See on ¯Mt
12:1. So Matt. and Lu 6:1. But Mark uses \paraporeuesthai\, to
go along beside, unless \diaporeuesthai\ (BCD) is accepted.
Perhaps now on the edge, now within the grain. Mark uses also
\hodon poiein\, to {make a way} like the Latin _iter facere_, as
if through the standing grain, {plucking the ears} (\tillontes
tous stachuas\)
. Work of preparing food the rabbis called it. The
margin of the Revised Version has it correctly: They began to
make their way plucking the ears of corn (grain, wheat or barley,
we should say)
. See on ¯Mt 12:1-8 for discussion of this
passage, parallel also in Lu 6:15.

2:26 {The house of God} (\ton oikon tou theou\). The tent or
tabernacle at Nob, not the temple in Jerusalem built by Solomon.
{When Abiathar was high priest} (\epi Abiathar archiereōs\). Neat
Greek idiom, in the time of Abiathar as high priest. There was
confusion in the Massoretic text and in the LXX about the
difference between Ahimelech (Abimelech) and Abiathar (2Sa
, Ahimelech's son and successor (1Sa 21:2; 22:20).
Apparently Ahimelech, not Abiathar was high priest at this time.
It is possible that both father and son bore both names (1Sa
22:20; 2Sa 8:17; 1Ch 18:16)
, Abiathar mentioned though both
involved. \Epi\ may so mean in the passage about Abiathar. Or we
may leave it unexplained. They had the most elaborate rules for
the preparation of the shewbread (\tous artous tēs protheseōs\),
the loaves of presentation, the loaves of the face or presence of
God. It was renewed on the commencement of the sabbath and the
old bread deposited on the golden table in the porch of the
Sanctuary. This old bread was eaten by the priests as they came
and went. This is what David ate.

2:27 {For man} (\dia ton anthrōpon\). Mark alone has this
profound saying which subordinates the sabbath to man's real
welfare (mankind, observe, generic article with \anthrōpos\,
class from class)
. Man was not made for the sabbath as the rabbis
seemed to think with all their petty rules about eating an egg
laid on the sabbath or looking in the glass, _et cetera_. See
2Macc. 5:19 and _Mechilta_ on Ex 31:13: "The sabbath is
delivered unto you and ye are not delivered unto the sabbath."
Christianity has had to fight this same battle about
institutionalism. The church itself is for man, not man for the

2:28 {Even of the sabbath} (\kai tou sabbatou\). Mark, Matthew
(Mt 12:8), and Luke (Lu 6:5) all give this as a climax in the
five reasons given by Christ on the occasion for the conduct of
the disciples, but Mark has the little word "even" (\kai\) not in
the others, showing that Jesus knew that he was making a great
claim as the Son of Man, the Representative Man, the Messiah
looked at from his human interest, to lordship (\kurios\) even of
the sabbath. He was not the slave of the sabbath, but the master
of it. "Even of the sabbath, so invaluable in your eyes. Lord,
not to abolish, but to interpret and keep in its own place, and
give it a new name" (Bruce).

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Mark: Chapter 2)