his own city: That is, Capernaum, Jesus’ home base in the region. (Mt 4:13; Mr 2:1) This city was not far from Nazareth, where he grew up; from Cana, where he turned water into wine; from Nain, where he resurrected the son of a widow; and from the vicinity of Bethsaida, where he miraculously fed about 5,000 men and restored sight to a blind man.
look!: The Greek word i·douʹ, here rendered “look!,” is often used to focus attention on what follows, encouraging the reader to visualize the scene or to take note of a detail in a narrative. It is also used to add emphasis or to introduce something new or surprising. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term occurs most frequently in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in the book of Revelation. A corresponding expression is often used in the Hebrew Scriptures.
look!: See study note on Mt 1:20.
seeing their faith: The use of the plural pronoun “their” shows that Jesus noted how much faith the entire group had, not just the paralyzed man.
which is easier: It would be easier for someone to say that he could forgive sins, since there would be no visible evidence 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 also has the authority to forgive sins. This account and Isa 33:24 link sickness to our sinful condition.
Son of man: Or “Son of a human.” This expression occurs about 80 times in the Gospels. Jesus used it to refer to himself, evidently emphasizing that he was truly human, born from a woman, and that he was a fitting human counterpart to Adam, having the power to redeem humankind from sin and death. (Ro 5:12, 14-15) The same expression also identified Jesus as the Messiah, or the Christ.—Da 7:13, 14; see Glossary.
Son of man: See study note on Mt 8:20.
to forgive sins—: The dash indicates that Jesus stopped in mid-sentence and then powerfully proved his point by publicly healing the man.
Matthew: The Greek name rendered “Matthew” is probably a shortened form of the Hebrew name rendered “Mattithiah” (1Ch 15:18), meaning “Gift of Jehovah.”
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.”
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. Matthew’s tax office was located in or near Capernaum.
Be my follower: See study note on Mr 2:14.
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: Many Jews collected taxes for the Roman authorities. People hated such Jews because they not only collaborated with a resented foreign power but also extorted more than the official tax rate. Tax collectors were generally shunned by fellow Jews, who put them on the same level as sinners and prostitutes.—Mt 11:19; 21:32.
dining: See study note on Mr 2:15.
tax collectors: See study note on Mt 5:46.
sinners: The Bible shows that all humans are sinners. (Ro 3:23; 5:12) Therefore, the term is used here in a more specific way, evidently referring to those who had a reputation for practicing sin, perhaps of a moral or a criminal nature. (Lu 7:37-39; 19:7, 8) This term was also used for non-Jewish people and by the Pharisees for Jewish people who did not observe the rabbinic traditions.—Joh 9:16, 24, 25.
mercy, and not sacrifice: Jesus twice refers to these words from Ho 6:6 (here and at Mt 12:7). Matthew, a despised tax collector who became an intimate associate of Jesus, is the only Gospel writer to record this quote as well as the illustration of the unmerciful slave. (Mt 18:21-35) His Gospel highlights Jesus’ repeated insistence that mercy is required in addition to sacrifice.
fast: That is, abstain from food for a limited time. (See Glossary.) Jesus never commanded his disciples to fast, nor did he direct them to avoid the practice altogether. Under the Mosaic Law, rightly motivated Jews humbled themselves before Jehovah and showed repentance for sin by means of fasts.—1Sa 7:6; 2Ch 20:3.
practice fasting: See study note on Mt 6:16.
friends of the bridegroom: Lit., “sons of the bridechamber,” an idiom describing wedding guests but especially the friends of the bridegroom.
wine into . . . wineskins: It was common in Bible times to store wine in animal skins. (1Sa 16:20) Skin bottles were made of the complete hides of domestic animals, such as sheep or goats. Old leather wineskins would become stiff and lose their elasticity. New wineskins, on the other hand, could stretch and swell and thus could withstand the pressure caused by the ongoing process of fermentation of new wine.—See Glossary, “Wineskin.”
did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; honored him.” People mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures also bowed down when meeting prophets, kings, or other representatives of God. (1Sa 25:23, 24; 2Sa 14:4-7; 1Ki 1:16; 2Ki 4:36, 37) This man evidently recognized that he was talking to a representative of God who had power to heal people. It was appropriate to bow down to show respect for Jehovah’s King-Designate.—Mt 9:18; for more information on the Greek word used here, see study note on Mt 2:2.
did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; honored him.”—See study note on Mt 8:2.
flow of blood: Likely a chronic menstrual flow. According to the Mosaic Law, this condition would render the woman ceremonially unclean. As such, she was not supposed to touch others.—Le 15:19-27.
daughter: The only recorded instance in which Jesus directly addressed a woman as “daughter,” perhaps because of the delicate situation and her “trembling.” (Lu 8:47) By using this term of endearment, a form of address that signifies nothing about the woman’s age, Jesus emphasizes his tender concern for her.
has not died but is sleeping: In the Bible, death is often likened to sleep. (Ps 13:3; Joh 11:11-14; Ac 7:60; 1Co 7:39; 15:51; 1Th 4:13) Jesus was going to bring the girl back to life, so he may have said this because he would demonstrate that just as people can be awakened from a deep sleep, they can be brought back from death. Jesus’ power to resurrect the girl came from his Father, “who makes the dead alive and calls the things that are not as though they are.”—Ro 4:17.
did not die but is sleeping: See study note on Mr 5:39.
David the king: Although several kings are mentioned in this genealogy, David is the only one identified by the title “king.” Israel’s royal dynasty was referred to as “the house of David.” (1Ki 12:19, 20) By calling Jesus “son of David” in verse 1, Matthew emphasizes the Kingdom theme and identifies Jesus as the heir of the kingship promised in the Davidic covenant.—2Sa 7:11-16.
teaching . . . preaching: Teaching differs from preaching in that the teacher does more than proclaim; he instructs, explains, uses persuasive arguments, and offers proof.—See study notes on Mt 3:1; 28:20.
the good news: First occurrence of the Greek word eu·ag·geʹli·on, rendered “gospel” in some English Bibles. A related Greek expression eu·ag·ge·li·stesʹ, rendered “evangelizer,” means “a proclaimer of good news.”—Ac 21:8; Eph 4:11, ftn.; 2Ti 4:5, ftn.
felt pity: The Greek verb splag·khniʹzo·mai used for this expression is related to the word for “intestines” (splagʹkhna), denoting a feeling experienced deep inside the body, an intense emotion. It is one of the strongest words in Greek for the feeling of compassion.
skinned: The Greek word originally meant “flayed,” or “stripped of the skin,” conveying an image of sheep with their skin ripped apart by wild animals or torn as they wandered among brambles and sharp rocks. The term came to be used figuratively, meaning “maltreated, harassed, wounded.”
thrown about: The image here is of sheep being thrown down, helpless and exhausted, figuratively conveying the idea of the crowd being dejected, neglected, and helpless.
1. Plain of Gennesaret. This was a fertile triangle of land, measuring about 5 by 2.5 km (3 by 1.5 mi). It was along the shoreline in this area that Jesus invited the fishermen Peter, Andrew, James, and John to join him in his ministry.—Mt 4:18-22.
After teaching a crowd in Capernaum, Jesus catches sight of the tax collector Matthew sitting at a tax office. Tax collectors were despised because many of them unjustly enriched themselves at the expense of the people. But Jesus sees something good in Matthew and invites him to be his follower. Matthew responds immediately, becoming the fifth disciple to join Jesus in his ministry. (Lu 5:1-11, 27, 28) Later, Jesus chose him to be one of the 12 apostles. (Mt 10:2-4; Mr 3:16-19) Matthew’s Gospel often reflects his background. For example, he is explicit in his mention of money, figures, and values. (Mt 17:27; 26:15; 27:3) He also highlights the mercy of God, who allowed him, a despised tax collector, to repent and become a minister of the good news.—Mt 9:9-13; 12:7; 18:21-35.
Skin bottles were often made of the complete hides of sheep, goats, or cattle. A dead animal’s head and feet were cut off, and the carcass was carefully removed from the skin to avoid opening its belly. After the hide was tanned, the openings were sewed up. The neck or a leg of the animal was left unsewed to serve as the bottle’s opening, which was closed with a stopper or tied with a string. Skin bottles were used to hold not only wine but also milk, butter, cheese, oil, or water.
This reconstruction, which incorporates some features of the first-century synagogue found at Gamla, located about 10 km (6 mi) northeast of the Sea of Galilee, gives an idea of what an ancient synagogue may have looked like.