Capernaum: From a Hebrew name meaning “Village of Nahum” or “Village of Comforting.” (Na 1:1, ftn.) A city of major importance in Jesus’ earthly ministry, it was located at the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee and was called “his own city” at Mt 9:1.
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.
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:
by his spirit: Or “in himself (in his own mind).” Here the Greek word pneuʹma evidently refers to Jesus’ perceptive powers. Isa 11:
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: 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.
to forgive sins on earth
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:
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.
sinners: The Bible shows that all humans are sinners. (Ro 3:
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.
friends of the bridegroom: Lit., “sons of the bridechamber,” an idiom describing wedding guests but especially the friends of the bridegroom.
through the grainfields: Perhaps by means of footpaths that separated one tract of land from another.
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:
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:
house of God: Here referring to the tabernacle. The account Jesus refers to (1Sa 21:
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: