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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1And again he entered into Capernaum, after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
Into Capernaum - See the notes at Matthew 4:13.
After some days - The number of days is not known. Jesus probably remained long enough in the desert to heal the sick who were brought to him, and to give instructions to the multitudes who attended his preaching. Capernaum was not "the city" mentioned in Mark 1:45, and it is probable that there was no difficulty in his remaining there and preaching.
And it was noised ... - He entered the city, doubtless, privately; but his being there was soon known, and so great had his popularity become that multitudes pressed to hear him.
2And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.
So much as about the door - In the "court" or "yard" before the door. They could not get near enough to hear him.
Preached the word unto them - The word of God; the revelation or doctrine which he came to deliver, called "the Word," and "the Word of God," because it was spoken or revealed by God. Compare Acts 6:2-7.
3And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
See this miracle explained in Matthew 9:2-8.
Palsy - See the notes at Matthew 4:24.
Borne of four - Carried upon a couch Matthew 9:2 by four men.
4And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
The press - The crowd, the multitude of people. Jesus was probably in the large open area or hall in the center of the house. See the notes at Matthew 9:2. The people pressed into the area, and blocked up the door so that they could not have access to him.
They uncovered the roof where he was - See the notes at Matthew 9:2.
When they had broken it up - When they had removed the awning or covering, so that they could let the man down. See the notes at Matthew 9:2.
5When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
Their faith - Their confidence or belief that he could heal them.
Son - Literally, "child." The Hebrews used the words "son" and "child" with a great latitude of signification. They were applied to children, to grandchildren, to adopted children, to any descendants, to disciples, followers, young people, and to dependents. See the notes at Matthew 1:1. In this place it denotes affection or kindness. It was a word of consolation - an endearing appellation, applied by the Saviour to the sick man to show his "compassion," to inspire confidence, and to assure him that he would heal him.
We never saw it on this fashion - Literally, "We never saw it so." We never saw anything like this.
6But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
7Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?
8And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
9Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
10But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
11I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
12And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
13And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.
By the sea-side - That is, by the Sea of Tiberias, on the shore of which Capernaum was situated. See the notes at Matthew 4:13.
14And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
Levi, the son of Alpheus - The same, undoubtedly, as "Matthew," the writer of the gospel which bears his name. It was not uncommon among the Jews to have two names.
The receipt of custom - See the notes at Matthew 9:9.
15And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
Sat at meat in the house - The words "at meat" are not in the original. The phrase means "as he reclined at his meal," or "as he was eating." This feast was made by Matthew in honor of the Saviour. See Luke 5:29.
Publicans - See the notes at Matthew 5:47.
Sinners - Sinners of abandoned character - of the same character that publicans commonly sustained - fit companions of publicans - great sinners.
There were many - That is, many "disciples." Their following him, leaving their homes, and going with him from place to place, was proof of their attachment to him. There is no doubt that our Saviour, in the early part of his ministry, was extremely popular. Multitudes of the common people attended him, and gave conclusive evidence that they were his real disciples, and it was only after much opposition from the rich and the great that he ever became unpopular among the people. Perhaps no preacher has ever attracted so universal attention, and produced so decisive effects upon mankind, as did our Lord in his personal ministry.
16And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
See the notes at Matthew 9:12-13.
17When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
18And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?
And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast - Were accustomed often to fast. Compare Luke 5:33; Luke 18:12.
And they come and say - The disciples of John come, Matthew 9:4.
19And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
See the notes at Matthew 9:15-17.
20But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
21No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.
22And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
23And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.
See Matthew 12:1-8.
The cornfields - The fields sown with wheat or barley. The word "corn," in the Bible, refers only to grain of that kind, and never to "maize" or "Indian corn."
To pluck the ears of corn - They were hungry, Matthew 12:1. They therefore gathered the wheat or barley as they walked and rubbed it in their hands to shell it, and thus to satisfy their appetite. Though our Lord was with them, and though he had all things at his control, yet he suffered them to resort to this method of supplying their wants. When Jesus, thus "with" his disciples, suffered them to be "poor," we may learn that poverty is not disgraceful; that God often suffers it for the good of his people; and that he will take care, in some way, that their wants shall be supplied. It was "lawful" for them thus to supply their needs. Though the property belonged to another, yet the law of Moses allowed the poor to satisfy their desires when hungry. See Deuteronomy 23:25.
24And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
That which is not lawful - That is, that which they esteemed to be unlawful on the "Sabbath day." It was made lawful by Moses, without any distinction of days, but "they" had denied its lawfulness on the Sabbath. Christ shows them from their own law that it was "not" unlawful.
25And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?
Have ye never read ... - See the notes at Matthew 12:3.
26How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?
Abiathar the priest - From 1 Samuel 21:1, it appears that Ahimelech was high priest at the time here referred to. And from 1 Samuel 23:6, it appears that "Abiathar" was the son of "Ahimelech." Some difficulty has been felt in reconciling these accounts. The probable reason as to why Mark says it was in the days of "Abiathar" is that Abiathar was better known than Ahimelech. The son of the high priest was regarded as his successor, and was often associated with him in the duties of his office. It was not improper, therefore, to designate him as high priest even during the life of his father, especially as that was the name by which he was afterward known. "Abiathar," moreover, in the calamitous times when David came to the throne, left the interest of Saul and fled to David, bringing with him the ephod, one of the special garments of the high priest. For a long time, during David's reign, he was high priest, and it became natural, therefore, to associate "his" name with that of David; to speak of David as king, and Abiathar the high priest of his time. This will account for the fact that he was spoken of rather than his father. At the same time this was strictly true, that this was done in the days of "Abiathar," who was afterward high priest, and was familiarly spoken of as such; as we say that "General" Washington was present at the defeat of Braddock and saved his army, though the title of "General" did not belong to him until many years afterward. Compare the notes at Luke 2:2.
showbread - See the notes at Matthew 12:4.
27And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
The sabbath was made for man - For his rest from toil, his rest from the cares and anxieties of the world, to give him an opportunity to call off his attention from earthly concerns and to direct it to the affairs of eternity. It was a kind provision for man that he might refresh his body by relaxing his labors; that he might have undisturbed time to seek the consolations of religion to cheer him in the anxieties and sorrows of a troubled world; and that he might render to God that homage which is most justly due to him as the Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, and Redeemer of the world. And it is easily capable of proof that no institution has been more signally blessed to man's welfare than the Sabbath. To that we owe, more than to anything else, the peace and order of a civilized community. Where there is no Sabbath there is ignorance, vice, disorder, and crime. On that holy day the poor and the ignorant, as well as the learned, have undisturbed time to learn the requirements of religion, the nature of morals, the law of God, and the way of salvation. On that day man may offer his praises to the Great Giver of all good, and in the sanctuary seek the blessing of him whose favor is life. Where that day is observed in any manner as it should be, order prevails, morals are promoted, the poor are elevated in their condition, vice flies away, and the community puts on the appearance of neatness, industry, morality, and religion. The Sabbath was therefore pre-eminently intended for man's welfare, and the best interests of mankind demand that it should be sacredly regarded as an appointment of merciful heaven intended for our best good, and, where improved aright, infallibly resulting in our temporal and eternal peace.
Not man for the sabbath - Man was made "first," and then the Sabbath was appointed for his welfare, Genesis 2:1-3. The Sabbath was not "first" made or contemplated, and then the man made with reference to that. Since, therefore, the Sabbath was intended for man's "good," the law respecting it must not be interpreted so as to oppose his real welfare. It must be explained in consistency with a proper attention to the duties of mercy to the poor and the sick, and to those in peril. It must be, however, in accordance with man's "real good on the whole," and with the law of God. The law of God contemplates man's "real good on the whole;" and we have no right, under the plea that the Sabbath was made for man, to do anything contrary to what the law of God admits. It would not be for our "real good," but for our real and eternal injury, to devote the Sabbath to vice, to labor, or to amusement.
28Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
Therefore the Son of man ... - See the notes at Matthew 12:8.